The Star Trek Promotion Fans Could Never Understand

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

  • It’s plain weird how often and in how short a time this Star Trek hero was promoted.
  • Geordi La Forge received more promotions in a shorter period of time than any of the other heroes in The Next Generation.
  • Geordi received all these promotions in spite of never betraying much ambition.

In the world of Star Trek, Starfleet is loosely based on the United States Navy, especially when it comes to ranks and promotions. It’s typically rewarding for viewers to see their favorite characters get promotions, like when Worf was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in Star Trek: Generations and when Riker finally accepted that promotion to Captain in Nemesis. These characters are typically seen as very ambitious and career-minded, but fans often overlook this weird fact: despite being such a laid-back guy who almost never talks about advancing his career, Geordi La Forge received more promotions in a shorter period of time than anyone else in TNG.

The First Promotion

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If you don’t believe us, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and watch an episode or two from the (admittedly pretty bad) first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Look closely at Geordi’s rank pips: he has one full pip and one half-pip, indicating he is a Lieutenant Junior Grade. This is perfectly consistent with the character’s career, as he had previously been an Ensign when serving aboard the USS Hood with Riker.

However, in the very next season of this fan-favorite Star Trek show, Geordi gets a new uniform (from red to gold) and a new rank: at two full pips, he is now a full Lieutenant. While Geordi’s change of jobs on the ship was surprising to fans (more on this in a bit), this promotion more or less made sense. He had served very capably as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, and we could definitely buy that he simply got an offscreen promotion between seasons.

Two Promotions In As Many Years

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But things get a little weirder in the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. From the very beginning of that season, Geordi is rocking two full pips and one half-pip, indicating that he is now a Lieutenant Commander. Fans typically don’t discuss this and the show doesn’t make a big deal about it, but it’s kind of wild to think that we saw Geordi get two promotions in two years: for comparison, after Worf was promoted from Lieutenant Junior Grade to full Lieutenant between season one and two, he wouldn’t get his own promotion to Lieutenant Commander for another half-decade.

From Pilot To Chief Engineer

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On paper, this means that in the world of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordi is implicitly one of the most talented and capable members of the crew, even though (a bit ironically) he never seems to fret over his career like, say, Riker. More evidence of this is the fact that while Geordi was a helmsman in the first season, he became Chief Engineer starting in season two. One of the only possible explanations for such a crazy job change is given in the episode “Lonely Among Us,” where Worf casually mentions that Picard likes his officers to train for other roles to keep them versatile.

Giving Orders To Higher Ranks?

That’s all well and good for this erstwhile Star Trek Captain, but when it comes to Geordi, that makes him look even more impressive: implicitly, when Geordi tried his hand at engineering instead of flying the ship, he was so good at it that Picard suddenly made him the Chief of Engineering, promoted Geordi way above the other engineers like former Chief of Engineering Lieutenant Commander Argyle. Despite their initial difference in rank, Geordi moving to engineering in season two meant he was now the boss of a higher-ranked guy who had presumably spent years focusing only on engineering.  

Leaping Over Everyone

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There you have it, Star Trek fans: Geordi may give off interstellar incel vibes when it comes to his relationships with women (run, Dr. Brahms, run!), but he is canonically the most talented member of the entire Enterprise crew. He gets promoted twice in the space of two years while moving to an entirely different job and becoming so skilled at it that he jumps in one year over the ranks and positions of everyone else in engineering who spent a lifetime specializing in this. 

But you don’t have to take my word for it: go watch a few episodes across The Next Generation’s first three seasons and watch Geordi casually and effortlessly rise through the (literal) ranks.