Beloved Star Trek Character Denied The Most Important Job

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, we frequently see other characters left in command of the Enterprise when Picard and Riker are otherwise indisposed. However, there is one character who the show seemingly hated to put in the big chair no matter how many promotions he got. That character is Geordi La Forge, someone who commanded the Enterprise-D only twice in all of The Next Generation and never got another chance until the series finale of Picard.

Geordi La Forge Makes It So

The first time Geordi La Forge is left in command of the Enterprise happens in the episode “Angel One.” Relatively speaking, his command tenure didn’t last that long because he succumbed to a weird infection and had to be relieved of duty by Dr. Crusher. However, Geordi clearly had fun with his time in command, even tossing out a jaunty “make it so” in imitation of Jean-Luc Picard.

The Arsenal Of Freedom

The next and final time that Geordi La Forge is left in command happens in the episode “The Arsenal of Freedom,” and his time in the captain’s chair is treated as a very big deal. Picard leaves the younger man in command before beaming down to the mystery planet of the week, but Geordi’s command is soon challenged by a higher-ranked and very belligerent officer. Fortunately, he holds his ground, retaining command long enough to help the Enterprise survive encounters with some very nasty weaponry that would otherwise have turned everyone into free-floating molecules.

Notably, the end of “The Arsenal of Freedom” is a high note for Geordi La Forge. In only his second time commanding the ship, he saved everyone’s lives, successfully rescued the away team, and generally proved that he had the chops necessary to sit in the big chair. That’s what makes it so odd that he was never in command of the ship again.

We’re not just talking for the rest of the season…no, from “The Arsenal of Freedom” all the way through the series finale “All Good Things,” Geordi La Forge would never command the Enterprise again in this long-running series.

Aces In Their Places

At first, you might think this is a side effect of Geordi La Force becoming Chief Engineer in season two…after all, keeping the warp core from exploding is probably a more important job at any given point than sitting in the captain’s chair.

However, it’s worth noting that fellow engineer Scotty often took command in The Original Series, and his intimate knowledge of the ship and its systems was a real asset. Furthermore, other highly specialized crew in TNG often take command, like when Dr. Crusher had to leave sickbay and figure out how to outwit a bunch of rogue Borg in “Descent.”

Denied The Big Chair For Too Long

The final reason it’s weird that Geordi La Forge stopped being put in command was the character just kept getting promoted. He went from being a lieutenant junior grade in season one to a lieutenant in season two to a lieutenant commander in season three. Obviously, he is an excellent Starfleet officer who has Picard’s complete trust, so it’s weird that we never get to see him calling the shots after season one.

Taking Charge By The End Of Picard

Fortunately, the Picard finale “The Last Generation” had the show’s titular character leave Geordi La Forge in command for the first time in 35 years. For fans of the lovable engineer, it was great to see him restore the Enterprise-D to glory and even greater to see him in charge once again. Of course, there’s always a chance the character willingly avoided command for all these years…unlike engineering, the bridge provides very few opportunities to dramatically roll under a door at the last second before it closes.