You better get yourself a good lawyer, Captain. (Open Trek spoilers likely)

The other day I happened to see a return of the *Star Trek: The Next Generation * sixth-season finale/seventh season opener, “Descent.” I didn’t watch all the way through because I’m not a masochist; when I first saw it fifteen years ago, I wondered how Picard escaped a general court-martial afterwards. In this episode, the redoubtable captain of the Enterprise

  1. Takes his ship into hostile space controlled, so far as he knows, by the Federation’s most powerful enemy, then LEAVES THE SHIP (i.e., abandons his post) to go on a search mission in un-secure territory, despite it having been established in the very first episode that 24th-century captains do not lead away teams in such circumstances as the Admirality has realized that this is stupid; and

  2. Takes his **first officer ** and half the ship’s complement with him, including the ship’s chief engineer and the senior tactical officer, though he has every reason to think the Enterprise may shortly be in armed hostilities; and

  3. Leaves the ship’s doctor in command of a bridge on which NO senior officers are present, even though if there was a battle she might be better used TREATING CASUALTIES in sickbay (i.e., doing her actual job).

Watching even a snippet of this episode, I wondered exactly how many admirals Picard had video logs of fucking goats, given that he still had a command at the end of it. But since this was pretty much an aberration for Picard, I’m willing to stipulate that this episode was actually a holo-novel written by Tom Paris that was somehow mistaken for an actual adventure of Federation flagship.

Which brings me to the point of the thread: what are you favorite instances in Trek of an officer committing multiple acts that should have gotten him cashiered and/or shot by his junior officers, but inexplicably nothing happens?

Jadzia Dax taking off to fulfil a blood oath with the three TOS-era Klingons should’ve gotten her court-martialled.

The bulk of the senior staff of DS9 should’ve been clapped in irons after tipping off the Cardassians to the approaching Klingon fleet, leading to the withdrawal of the Klingons from the Kittomer Accords.

Watching Spike in the afternoons too, huh? :smiley:

Actually I think only Sisko’s on the hook for that one. He was in command; he summoned Garak to the ward room; he was the one who was asking the questions to Dax et al, knowing that the answers would get leaked back to Dukat. And he wouldn’t get court-martialed for the simple reason that he had the sense not to put the incident in his log. (I’m surprised he did it with Worf in the room, though. He’d known the others for some time and could reasonably count on Dax, O’Brien, Odo, Bashir, and Kira to back him up, but Worf was an unknown quantity.)

I remember the gist of incident with Dax and Kang, Kor, and Koloth, but I don’t recall what she did to warrant count-martaling. Care to expand?

In an episode of TNG, there’s a bunch of alien diplomats on the Enterprise who, among other things, are studying the concept of emotions. They do this by trying to provoke those emotions in various crewmembers, so they can observe their reactions. One of them keeps needling Worf until he snaps and attacks him. This is happening, incidentally, directly in front of Commander Riker, who watches them tussel for about a minute before he tells Worf to knock it off.

Geez, you’re a senior officer on a spaceship tasked with a delicate diplomatic mission, and you’ve just attacked one of the foreign diplomats. At the very least, Worf should have been busted down to Nacelle Tube Scrubber. And Riker just standing there with his thumb up his ass while a subordinate crewmember creates an interstellar incident should at least have resulted in a big fat black mark in his permanent record.

How often does someone resign their commission only to get it back instantly and without question at the end of the episode or current arc?


Hell, he spent twenty years as a commander, didn’t he?

Watching the episode of DS9 referred to earlier, I noticed that Sisko–who was a Lieutenant Commander at the time of Wolf 359–had totally smoked riker in the race to captaincy. So did Janeway, who must have been a Lt. Cmdr. around the same time.

(And I wonder how many entries Kate will get on this list?)

Geez, you kids. Kirk violated some directive or regulation every other week. :wink:


Riker was offered at least three command opportunities during his tenure on the Enterprise, the first of which was only a year after being assigned as First Officer, so his extended stay as Commander wasn’t due to incompetence but some other factor(s). Probably a combination of loyalty to Picard and a hope or desire to succeed him as the captain of the flagship of the fleet if or when he was ever bumped up to the Admirality.

And Memory Alpha says Janeway was a captain up to six years prior to Wolf 359 but she’s always seemed older than Riker anyway (despite Mulgrew being Frakes’ junior) so I don’t really take that as proof of their relative merits.

All that said, he was stupid for stalling his career like that. Does the modern military even allow one to turn down a promotion in rank?

I’m not sure that’s right. If I recall correctly, he turned down a captaincy of his own before joining Picard’s staff because he felt he wasn’t ready yet (presumably because he felt being XO of the flagship looked better on his resume than being CO of a smaller ship, maybe just a freighter or a science ship); he again turned down command in “The Icarus Factor” but never said why; and he turned down command after Wolf 359. (Admittedly, the ship he was supposed to take over got destroyed in that battle, and despite what Shelby said about him getting any ship he wanted, I imagine there was a shortage of command slots for many XOs after that.) So by my count he turned down command twice DURING his tenure on the Enterprise, the first instance being before.

I agree that it was stupid. Remember that when Picard was assigned to infiltrate Cardassian space, Jellicoe was brought in OVER Riker to take over the ship; and since they had the formal change-of-command ceremony, it was meant to be a permanent move; or, to be specific, Starfleet gave Jellicoe the command with the understanding that if Picard didn’t survive his mission, the Enterprise would be his indefinitely. Riker held himself back by ten years because he didn’t seem to have the nerve to work without a neck.

Starfleet clearly doesn’t operate under US military rules. As I understand it, no current naval officer would be allowed to remain a Lieutenant Commander as long as Data and LaForge were; they’d have been broomed out for not earning a promotion. I take TNG promotion rules to be that, once a shipboard officer reaches Lieutenant Commander, he won’t get promoted again unless he’s willing to go into command. Data wouldn’t want that (because he’d have to keep his faux-Picard command program on all the time, which would prevent him from exploring his humanity), and neither would LaForge (because he wanted to be an engineer). Worf, on the other hand, would presumably have to bone for the commander’s test not long after Insurrection.


I know Starfleet is its own peculiar institution and has only a passing resemblance to the US Navy but as a military organization (fuck you, Roddenberry), it still doesn’t make sense that it would allow someone to purposefully stagnate like that. I could understand them not offering him a captainship if they thought he was not suited for it but to allow him to dictate his career to that extent has always struck me as odd.

And after checking Memory Alpha, it seems you are right. I knew he had been offered three commands and thought they were all after accepting his position as First Officer of the Enterprise but it looks like his first offer was either as captain of the Drake (as a commander, presumably) or as the exec of Enterprise.

His bio did give me a possible out in a piece of dialog from Voyager wherein Q alluded that he was possibly offered command of it before Janeway if I had thought I could actually get away with knowing that beforehand but even my geekiness has its limits.

Net, I assume you mean, but it’s not inconceivable that someone would prefer being a respected XO over a beleaguered commander, and this could have been the basis for fleshing out the Riker character and demonstrating at least one serious but entirely human flaw. Trouble was, the main characters weren’t allowed to have any flaws. If the story needed someone to be abrasive or shy, they dragged in Ro or Barclay, and if the story needed characters to get angry at each other, invariably there was mind-control device or a telepath lurking about.

I didn’t get that whole “command exam” thing that Troi took but Data could or did not. I can just imagine the big test:

Riker: So the only way to save the ship is-
Data: Send La Forge into the crawlspace. Done.
Riker: It’s not supposed to be that easy a decision.
Data: But it is the correct decision, is it not?
Riker: Well, yes, but-
Data: Understood. May I start wearing my third pip now?


Well, as I said in my earlier post, I don’t think Data wanted that third full pip. He demonstrated on at least two occasions that he was a perfectly competent commanding officer; Riker even conceded that Data was a better tactician than he was.:

RIKER: “Data, what’s the counter-move for the Picard manuever.”
DATA: “There is none on file.”
DATA: “Done.” (Thinking to self: Why are you the boss of me, exactly? What do you contribute, anyway?)

But Data didn’t want that third pip, because he was at the point in his career where he’d have to be either a captain or an XO if he had it; and in that case he’d have to keep his command program on except when he was on leave, and he was more interested in exploring the facets of his humanity (which the command program probably didn’t allow).

Ending the hijack:

How DID Worf keep his job as security chief without having to undergo remedial target shooting? Did he ever hit ANY intruder with a phaser beam?

How about the entire premise of Voyager? Janeway had the choice of returning her command (a top-of-the-line and very valuable ship) safely to Starfleet, together with all of the valuable information gained in her brief trip to the Delta Quadrant, or to ruin her chances for safe return of her ship and crew for the sake of seriously meddling in the affairs of a pre-warp civilization (say, isn’t there some minor regulation or another about that?). The moment they got back to the Alpha Quadrant, she should have been court-martialed, stripped of all rank, dishonorably discharged, and possibly tossed in prison. Instead, she got, what, bumped to Admiral?

Hell, did Worf ever win a fight? Maybe against Wesley once or something…


I’m in the minority thinking that Janeway made the right decision there. Unfortunately, virtually every other command decision she made during the series seemed to indicate that she had bipolar disorder and needed to be relieved and heavily medicated.

They let him be genuinely tough in DS9, anyway. Of course, mentioning DS9 makes one wonder how ODO kept his job.

Well, he did do pretty well against Geordi’s lute.

He’s a shapeshifter and he doesn’t work directly under Sisko. Plus, early on he was valuable because he already knew the station and the major troublemakers.

(Besides, Quark was many things, but an adept smuggler or arms trader was not one of them.)

If there’s anyone who can come up with blackmail material…


I’m pretty sure that Jim Kirk had multiple paternity suits levelled against him in the course of his career. Thankfully, he has Sam Cogley on retainer.

Worf could probably kick Urkel’s ass.