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I've been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and just recently transitioned into season two. Among several more significant changes, I've noticed that Worf's baldric has changed.

Season 1

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Season 2

Here, the difference is quite apparent. The material and construction of the baldric is entirely different, as well as the emblems. A search for more images turns up at least one or two more variants - perhaps there are more. Most of the other variants are more subtle though and usually involve just changing the emblems on the baldric.

The baldric is a common piece of Klingon attire, and presumably Worf wears it to honor his heritage. Therefore, I think it is also a fair presumption that any changes he makes regarding his baldric would reflect something of significance of Klingon culture.

Has there ever been an in-universe explanation for these changes, or the significance of the differing emblems and styles of the Klingon baldrics?

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    there also appears to be subtle differences between the baldric he wears in TNG and DS9. – Doug T. Apr 1 '12 at 23:30
  • possible duplicate of Did Worf's sash color change throughout TNG? When and why? – Tango Apr 1 '12 at 23:34
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    @TangoOversway While the answer there may also be correct for here, I think my question is looking for a little more detail. The baldric seems to be a common part of Klingon culture for which there really should be an explanation. – Iszi Apr 1 '12 at 23:49
  • Your stated question is if there is a reason given -- and that's answered. If you want to get into the place of the baldric in Klingon culture and what it means there, that would be an entirely different question, and you haven't addressed it here. – Tango Apr 2 '12 at 0:17
  • Arguably, the questions are one and the same. Worf's wearing of the baldric is obviously because of its ties to Klingon culture, and so any changes to his baldric would presumably be in reflection of that culture. I'll modify this question to address that. – Iszi Apr 2 '12 at 0:22
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The emblems on the baldrics themselves are meant to signify that the wearer is a member of a particular family or "house". Out-of-universe this is a bit of a retcon as Worf's emblem changed from Season 1 to Season 2 of TNG, and only very late in DS9 was it shown to illustrate familial ties.

Worf's emblem (from Season Two onward) signifies that he is a member of the House of Mogh. He is, in fact, one of only two sons of Mogh, and we don't even know he's got a brother until about halfway through DS9. While Klingon familial relations are not discussed in great detail, it seems that you are "X, of the House of Y" while you are unmated. Find a spouse and have kids, and you have created your own house, usually named for the patriarch (in fact a DS9 episode has Quark becoming married in name only to a Klingon woman whose mate has been murdered, and the family becomes known as the "House of Quark"). As such, while bloodlines are important, family names don't seem to carry through several generations unless an ancestor was particularly notable. As Worf never officially forms a family (he does have a son with a half-human mate K'Ehleyr, but never takes the oath of union), for most of the series he remains a part of his late father's house.

By halfway through DS9, Worf's disgraced brother has his memory wiped and is taken in by another house, and Worf is truly the last member of the House of Mogh. In a subsequent episode Worf stands up to Martok, who is captaining a Bird of Prey that has never seen a victory, accusing him of cowardice in the face of glory when he wants to run from a fight against superior numbers. This act, which could easily have gotten Worf killed (and nearly did in the heat of the moment) earns such respect in Martok's eyes that he basically adopts Worf as his own son, bringing him into the House of Martok.

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The original baldric seen on Worf in Season One is the exact same sash worn by Kor in "Errand of Mercy" and Kang in "Day of the Dove", according to Memory Alpha. For Season Two, the costume designer experimented with a new design made of metal, and with different badges, and this is the one Worf wore forever after, although the badges on the baldric changed after Worf joined the House of Martok in DS9.

No other Klingon wears a baldric exactly like Worf's, although baldrics are commonly seen. Most other Klingons wear baldrics that appear thicker, but less broad, but still support various emblems and badges.

Out-of-story, this distinction is presumably to keep Worf a distinct character, even on the rare occasions he wears Klingon uniform. In-story, we might presume that even the metal version of Worf's baldric is old-fashioned, which would fit both with the fact that Worf was orphaned young and with the fact that Worf is a bit of a conservative when it comes to his culture (with some notable exceptions).

  • So, it seems that at least the emblems have some meaning - the house one belongs to, and possibly some form of rank? – Iszi Apr 2 '12 at 19:23
  • It's implied, but I don't think it's ever explicitly stated, that this is the case. I don't recall a single line of script where Worf says, "Now I'm going to put on Martok's badge". – Michael Scott Shappe Apr 2 '12 at 19:29
  • I think one would have to start digging through all the episodes and compare the badges to other Klingons of known house and rank, to draw any (remotely) definitive conclusions. It's not something I'd expect a big deal to have been made of, unless it was part of some induction ceremony. – Iszi Apr 2 '12 at 19:43
  • Exactly. I think it was, once, sort-of. I can't remember if we saw the ceremony for Worf himself, but when Alexander joins Martok's house, a similar emblem to the one Worf is now wearing on his baldric is used and then attached to Alexander's uniform sleeve afterward. – Michael Scott Shappe Apr 2 '12 at 19:45
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    I like where this is going. We might be on to some answers! I'm only just now into Season 2, and haven't seen too many episodes featuring Klingons yet. It probably wouldn't be too hard for me to go back and review those I have seen, and then start keeping track of future ones. I'm sure a pattern will emerge somewhere at least before I hit DS9. – Iszi Apr 2 '12 at 19:57
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When Denise Crosby (who played Yar) left the series, the character of Worf was moved into the now empty post of Tactical officer. This required a change of uniform, red to gold. Worf's original baldric, the 1960s one, would have been far less noticable against his new gold uniform, so it was swapped for a silvery one instead. The costumers took the opportunity to redesign the baldric too, but the initial reason was purely for colour.

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