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Geordi had a visor throughout the Star Trek TNG television series but that vanished for the movies. What happened? Ideally I'm looking for an in-universe explanation (and out-of-universe, if it exists).

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    Just a little remark for the sake of accuracy: The visor vanished for ST VIII to X. It was very well still there in the first TNG movie, Generations. – O. R. Mapper May 5 '14 at 17:10
  • I recently watched a kickstart video for reading rainbow and Lavar Burton was offering to let certain people wear the Visor which he has in a box. – Joe Bishop Jul 27 '14 at 13:58
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As I'm sure you already know, Geordi's VISOR was a partial cure for his blindness - it stands for "Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement". According to Memory Alpha:

The VISOR detected electromagnetic signals across the entire EM spectrum between 1 Hz and 100,000 THz and transmitted those signals to the brain through neural implants in the temples of the individual via delta-compressed wavelengths. (TNG: "The Masterpiece Society") The result was a vastly different visual acuity, with VISOR-wearers able to see in the infrared and ultraviolet ranges and beyond. To normal Human eyes, the images relayed through the VISOR could seem disorienting and unfamiliar. (TNG: "Heart of Glory", "The Enemy", "The Mind's Eye")

Geordi La Forge, born blind, was given a VISOR after his fifth birthday. (TNG: "Hero Worship") He later replaced it with ocular implants between 2371 and 2373. (Star Trek Generations; Star Trek: First Contact)

So, that's the difference between the movies and the series. Medical technology improved. I think it has also been said that the VISOR caused some pain as a side-effect, but I'm not sure that that comes out of canon.

It is canon (courtesy of Plutor): (Quote from Encounter at Farpoint)

CRUSHER: You've been blind all your life?
LAFORGE: I was born this way.
CRUSHER: And you've felt pain all the years that you've used this?
LAFORGE: They say it's because I use my natural sensors in different ways.
CRUSHER: Well, I see two choices. The first is painkillers.
LAFORGE: Which would affect how this works. No. Choice number two?
CRUSHER: Exploratory surgery. Desensitise the brain areas troubling you.
LAFORGE: Same difference. No, thank you, Doctor.

As to the out-of-universe explanation - LeVar Burton has been quoted as disliking the VISOR because it restricts his peripheral vision, and because the constant pressure on his forehead gave him a headache by the end of filming. Perhaps they decided to cut him some slack and use CGI in the movies.

  • I'm virtually certain that the VISOR's pain was canon. I can recall conversations between LaForge and Crusher about it. – Plutor Feb 14 '12 at 13:27
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    Aha, yes, in fact, Encounter at Farpoint: CRUSHER: You've been blind all your life? LAFORGE: I was born this way. C: And you've felt pain all the years that you've used this? L: They say it's because I use my natural sensors in different ways. C: Well, I see two choices. The first is painkillers. L: Which would affect how this works. No. Choice number two? C: Exploratory surgery. Desensitise the brain areas troubling you. L: Same difference. No, thank you, Doctor. – Plutor Feb 14 '12 at 13:28
  • The pain is canon, mentioned in the very first episode. Crusher offered him some painkillers and/or exploratory surgery to desensitize him, but Geordi declined because either would affect the functioning of the VISOR. – Izkata Feb 14 '12 at 13:35
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    One other point is that LeVar Burton has very expressive eyes and this was lost on screen for the entire series, so removing the visor allowed for the camera to catch a wider range in his acting. – Tango Feb 14 '12 at 16:51
  • Also, Geordi's normal eyes healed in Star Trek: Insurrection - the magical healing radiation of the planet regenerated his optic nerve (though Memory Alpha indicates that it may have been only temporary). As someone who has worn glasses his whole life, that's the only part of that awful movie I recall fondly. – Jeff Feb 15 '12 at 14:19
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Out of universe, Penny Juday (Senior Art Dept Coordinator for TNG and Trek Archivist for Paramount Studios) rescued the Season 1-2 prop from a warehouse at Paramount Studios. The prop doesn't appear to have been sold in any of the Trek Memorabila auctions which would strongly suggest that she still has it in her possession.

The "hero" visor for season 3 onward was sold at a private auction for $7000 in 2012. No record has emerged of who cast the winning bid, nor has the visor turned up in any public collection.

enter image description here


A third VISOR is in Levar Burton's possession. It appears to be the "older visor" used in the show TNG: Identity Crisis, as discussed here.

enter image description here

  • I never understood why they felt the need to throw the word "hero" in there all the time. "Hero VISOR" really?? – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 27 '14 at 16:08
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit - In stagecraft the word "hero" means that it's the version used in close-up (e.g. more detailed). In TV it's often the version with working lights or moving parts. For example, you might make ten phasers for a scene but only have three of them with lights on. You also have "stunt" versions which are often made from rubber or foam to prevent injury and "breakaway" where the prop is intentionally weakened if it needs to break a certain way in a scene; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatrical_property – Valorum Jul 27 '14 at 16:11
  • What silly terminology! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 27 '14 at 16:22
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit - What would you call the version used by the hero? – Valorum Jul 27 '14 at 16:34
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    @BrianOrtiz - He claims to have a screen-worn one from Season 4. – Valorum Jul 14 '17 at 12:23
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This was addressed in the film's official novelisation.

In the silence that followed his brief, blunt statement that the Borg had reappeared, expressions grew somber and five pairs of anxious eyes focused upon him. The fifth pair of eyes belonged to Geordi La Forge, who, like the Enterprise-E, seemed familiar yet changed. La Forge's VISOR had been replaced a short time before by electronic ocular implants, and Picard still felt mildly disconcerted every time he looked into his chief engineer's large eyes, with their dizzyingly intricate geometric designs traced in black upon starkly blue irises.

First Contact - A Novel

and in the film's original screenplay

Scene 17.
INT. MAIN ENGINEERING:

Where GEORDI and N.D. Engineers are rushing about, hard at work. Geordi is no longer wearing his VISOR -- he now has artificial ocular implants for eyes. They have a distinctive electronic look to them.

First Contact - Screenplay


Note that, in-universe, he had been offered an upgrade to his VISOR (basically replacing it with cybernetic eyes) in an earlier episode of TNG. He seems to have been reluctant because of the loss of visual range.

Evidently he changed his mind at a later date, presumably because the technology has improved in the intervening decade.

PULASKI: It's possible to install optical devices which look like normal eyes, and would still give you about the same visual range as the visor.

LAFORGE: Done? You say almost. How much reduction?

PULASKI: Twenty percent.

...

LAFORGE: Well, this is a lot to think about. I'll get back to you, Doctor. Thank you.

TNG: Loud as a Whisper

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