In "Where No Man Has Gone Before," Star Trek's second pilot, we are introduced to Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell, Captain Kirk's best friend and the Enterprise's navigator.

In that episode it is not explicitly stated that Spock is the first officer, and Spock was not the First Officer in "The Cage" (the first pilot), so perhaps Roddenberry hadn't finalized that role for Spock.

I believe in Vonda McIntyre's novel, Enterprise, Gary Mitchell is supposed to be the first officer, but is absent from most of the action in that story.

Is there any other evidence that supports this idea? Was Gary Mitchell the First Officer before Spock?

6 Answers 6


Roddenberry has stated many times that Spock was the first officer in the second pilot. In fact it was the most important change he made, because the biggest complaint from the first pilot was that a woman (Majel Barret) wasn't believable as first officer. (The studio didn't especially like Spock either, but Roddenberry ignored that critique; though it may explain why he didn't immediately emphasize Spock's position as 1st officer).

In Vonda McIntyre's novel Enterprise: The First Adventure, she addressed this issue specifically. Christopher Pike was offered a promotion, and to accept it he would have to relinquish command of The Enterprise.
Kirk was promoted to Captain, to relieve Pike. Kirk fully intended to have his best friend, Gary Mitchell be the First Officer. HOWEVER, unbeknownst to Kirk, Pike had accepted his promotion conditionally: the condition was that Spock would be made First Officer of The Enterprise. Starfleet agreed and overruled Kirk. Kirk & Mitchell would have had to take a different (lesser) ship to avoid this condition. Both (Kirk especially) had their hearts set on the Enterprise. They decided to take the Enterprise with Mitchell as helmsman and play it by ear, not fully giving up on the idea that Mitchell would one day be first officer.

This backstory fits the attitudes & interactions between Kirk, Spock and Mitchell in Where No Man Has Gone Before extremely well. So well, that it feels like canon to me, in other words, that Roddenberry may have had something like this in mind when he wrote the script.
I can say this as a fan who loves and knows TOS and for the most part don't have a lot of respect or time for the novels. INCLUDING the book I'm referring to; except this exact aspect of it, the book wasn't very good or true to the characters. Which further leads me to believe it was an idea that existed before Vonda.

  • Gary Mitchel wasn't portrayed by a Majel Barret. Could you clarify, please?
    – bitmask
    Nov 28, 2012 at 21:52
  • 4
    Just to clarify, it seems that the studio's actual objection was to Barrett herself, not that she was a woman. According to Herb Solow and Robert Justman, the network actually wanted a strong female role but did not think she could pull it off Nov 28, 2012 at 23:07
  • 1
    @bitmask There were 2 pilots for Star Trek. The first one, called "The Cage", was rejected for a number of reasons, including the fact that they were unhappy with Majel Barret in the role of Number One. The second pilot, called Where No Man Has Gone Before, is the subject of this thread. It should be noted as well, that due to budget constraints, both these pilots eventually were aired as TOS episodes.
    – vivaldi7
    Nov 28, 2012 at 23:57
  • being Roddenberry's girlfriend (he was married at the time) was a big point against her.
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 17, 2016 at 17:27
  • 2
    @NKCampbell: And yet she still managed to get at least a voice role in just about every series they eventually made.
    – Kevin
    Aug 18, 2016 at 6:18

According to the information at Memory Beta, representing canon, Gary Mitchell was intended to be First Officer, but did not ever hold the position:

I don't know whether the role was in flux for the first two episodes or not - that would be a question for someone who was there at the time to answer.


According to the transcript of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" the department heads gather on the bridge:

MITCHELL: Department heads, sir. You wanted everybody on the Bridge before we left the galaxy. Jones. SMITH: The name's Smith, sir. SULU: Astro sciences standing by, Captain. SCOTT: Engineering division ready, as always. PIPER: Life sciences ready, sir. This is Doctor Dehner, who joined the ship at the Aldebaran colony. DEHNER: Psychiatry, Captain. My assignment is to study crew reaction in emergency conditions.

So Sulu (possibly the twin brother or clone brother or something of Hikaru Sulu) is the head of the astro sciences department.

But in the briefing room scene Kirk says:

KIRK: It is my duty, whether pleasant or unpleasant, to listen to the reports, observations, even speculations, on any subject that might affect the safety of this vessel, and it's my science officer's duty to see I'm provided with that. Go ahead, Mister Spock.

So Kirk clearly says Spock is the science officer aboard the Enterprise during this episode.

Spock and Mitchell are both on the bridge when the Enterprise approaches the energy barrier:

SPOCK: Force field of some kind. MITCHELL: We're coming up on it fast. SPOCK: Sensor beam on. KELSO: Sensor beam on, sir. SPOCK: Deflectors full intensity. KELSO: Deflectors full intensity. SPOCK: Deflectors say there's something there, sensors say there isn't. Density negative. Radiation negative. Energy negative. KELSO: Whatever it is, contact in twelve seconds. KIRK: Gravitation on automatic. (consoles blow up) Emergency stations. All decks on fire alert. Neutralise controls. Kelso, put it on manual. Any radiation? Anything? SPOCK: Negative! KIRK: Helmsmen, take us out of here. (Dehner gets hit by an electric charge, then Mitchell) Helmsmen! (Kirk takes controls) Lateral power! (Spock takes over, Enterprise veers away) Take damage reports. SPOCK: Damage control reports, all stations! CREWMAN [OC]: Gravity control switching to batteries. DEHNER: Something hit me, like an electrical charge. PIPER: He's alive. Appears to be in shock. CREWMAN [OC]: Engineering deck three, can you give damage report? CREWMAN 2 [OC]: Sensor beams. Full power on the deflectors. SPOCK: Main engines are out, sir. We're on emergency power cells. Casualties, nine dead. CREWMAN [OC]: Gravity is down to point eight. CREWMAN 2 [OC]: All decks, this is Bridge Engineering. Due to emergency conditions.

Much of what Spock says could be doing his duty as science officer.

But he does give orders to Kelso:

SPOCK: Sensor beam on. KELSO: Sensor beam on, sir. SPOCK: Deflectors full intensity. KELSO: Deflectors full intensity.

And a little later:

KIRK: Helmsmen, take us out of here. (Dehner gets hit by an electric charge, then Mitchell) Helmsmen! (Kirk takes controls) Lateral power! (Spock takes over, Enterprise veers away) Take damage reports. SPOCK: Damage control reports, all stations!


Calling or damage reports is something that the first officer would normally do, but Kirk has just requested damage reports and Mitchell has just been incapacitated.

My interpretation of that scene is either Spock is first officer and second in command all through he scene, or else Mitchell is first officer and second in command but is too busy with steering the ship as helmsman to do first officer stuff and then is knocked out.

I think that it is a little inefficient to have the first officer steer the ship instead of doing first officer stuff to assist the captain to command. In the first season of TNG the steering role was often assigned to either a blind lieutenant junior grade or to a fifteen year old acting ensign, not to Commander Riker. In modern merchant marines and navies the helmsman is usually an enlisted sailor.

So I believe that Spock was probably the first officer and second in command in "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

  • Why would ever think Sulu is not Sulu? If anything it indicates he had a bigger job on ship than what we saw in all the other episodes since there is no reason he can't do both. Mar 19, 2021 at 1:00
  • Because Sulu was a botanist when not on the Bridge.
    – Pete
    Mar 19, 2021 at 2:05

In Episode 6 of the first season, The Enemy Within, Spock makes a log entry and refers to himself as Second officer Spock.

Captain's Log, stardate 1673.1. Entry made by Second Officer Spock. Captain Kirk retains command of this vessel, but his force of will rapidly fading. Condition of landing party critical. Transporter unit still under repair.

  • 1
    Interesting, but it doesn't really answer the question, since Gary Mitchell was dead by then. And it leaves open the question of who the first officer would have been. Oct 2, 2014 at 6:02
  • I think we have to assume here that the author meant second (in command) officer. Second on the ship - first below captain. Mar 19, 2021 at 2:08
  • I agree with lucas. It's an error by the scriptwriter.
    – Pete
    Mar 19, 2021 at 2:13

In the audiobook of "I Am Spock by Leonard Nimoy (I recently listened to), Nimoy mentions that the first scene in Where No Man Has Gone Before shows Kirk playing three dimensional chess with his (and he uses these words) "second in command" - Spock.

  • 2
    True, but Nimoy’s assessment of the situation may not necessarily be canon.
    – Adamant
    Oct 10, 2016 at 23:29

I read a very good article once which argued that the first episodes represent kirk "shaking down" his new crew; that he made spock first officer BECAUSE of his cold blooded prioritization of the safety of the ship (maroon gary mitchell!). Also mccoy clearly has just come on board for the salt monster episode, and uhura came on at kirks request from the lexington. Also sulu is fading from sciences (penny talk in where no man) to helm in naked time (the biology references)

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