After reading this question, I started to think who will be superior in terms of giving orders: Lt. Commander Data (as the second officer of USS Enterprise D) or Dr Beverly Crusher (Commander and CMO), or any other person holding a higher rank and lower or no position in Command structure of the ship.

Has Data (or any other command structure officer) ever given an order to a superior officer (higher in terms of rank), using his authority as the second officer of the ship?

Concerning officers other than Data, I would like to exclude the case of Captain Picard and Admiral Pressman and his arrest, as Admiral Pressman was not the member of USS Enterprise crew, nor was he the CO of this ship.

  • 2
    by definition, a subordinate cannot give an 'order' to a superior - right? (I've not been in the military). In the case of Data, he is a trusted member of the crew and if he is giving an instruction as to the operational safety of the ship, Picard (or another superior) will likely choose to act on that. The episode @Ditto is referencing is Season 5.11 - "Hero Worship" I believe
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 10 '17 at 14:41
  • 3
    If Data is left in command of the ship, can he give an order to Dr Crusher? Can she decline, as she holds a higher rank? Does being a second officer (while CO and XO are absent) gives you superiority over the rest of the crew? (maybe that's how the question should look like). Does being a second officer gives this authority, or is such a person an Acting Captain and this is what gives the authority? Jan 10 '17 at 14:46
  • 2
    As the ships Second Officer, he can give direct orders to anyone on the ship who isn't Riker or Picard. He can also countermand any order given by any officer who isn't Riker or Picard.
    – Valorum
    Jan 10 '17 at 14:47
  • 1
    In that case yes - recall in the first season, "Arsenal of Freedom" - this specific thing happens. Geordi is given command. As acting captain he functionally outranks a higher rank officer at the moment (who is none too pleased about it and orders Geordi to give up command. Geordi says 'no' and is perfectly within his authority to do so - even though on any other day, that officer outranks him)
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 10 '17 at 14:49
  • 1
    In TNG Night Terrors data orders all personnel to their evac shelters and in the same episode orders Picard to go to bed.
    – Valorum
    Jan 10 '17 at 14:57

TNG: Season 1, Episode 21: "The Arsenal of Freedom"

Lieutenant Junior Grade Geordi LaForge is left in command of the ship as all other senior bridge officers beam to the surface. As acting captain, he temporarily outranks Chief Engineer Logan, who commands LaForge to relinquish command to him [Logan]. LaForge refuses saying that he was left in command and will stay in command until relieved.

  • Hmmm... but technically as acting captain he outranked the chief engineer at the time.
    – Tim
    Jan 10 '17 at 20:07
  • 7
    no, I think that's the entire point of that subplot and of Logan's gripe. Logan categorically outranks LaForge and that is his main argument for calling on LaForge to step down as acting captain and relinquish command to him [Logan]. LaForge was placed in command though, and that order from the captain 'outranks' Logan. Essentially, it's Picard's rank that is backing up LaForge at the moment.
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 10 '17 at 20:22


Ensign Kim gives several direct orders to Lieutenant Ayala in this scene from Voy: Renaissance Man while commanding the night shift.

KIM: Report.

AYALA: There's some kind of pulse being directed at our transceiver array. It's coming from the Delta Flyer.

KIM: Hail them.

AYALA: No response.


At the end of TNG: Night Terrors, Acting-Captain Data issues the following shipwide order for the crew to get some sleep. This presumably included any Commanders on the ship (such as Dr. Crusher) along with Riker and Picard.

DATA: Setting a course for Starbase Two-twenty. Sir, as my final duty as Acting Captain, I order you to bed. I shall do the same for all personnel.

As has been pointed out in a comment, this one's a bit of a fudge due to the medical nature of their predicament.


ST:TNG S02E15, Pen Pals

Acting Ensign Wesely Crusher is placed in command of a team assigned to investigate the planet. As commander of this team, he gives orders to the officers he has chosen, including (full-) Ensigns Alans, Hildebrant, and Davies. It is made clear that they obey his orders when, despite disagreeing with the decision, Davies immediately proceeds to carry out Crusher's order:


Wesley, it's a major undertaking to set up that scanner.


We're looking at five hours -- minimum.


I know, I just don't want to do the job halfway.


Wes, there's being thorough and then there's wasting time. It's also the mark of a good officer to recognize the difference.


Well, maybe you're right.



Ensign Davies, I want that Ico-spectrogram run on the Selcundi Drema system.

DAVIES (very light)

You got it.

We also know from the episode Ménage à Troi that full ensigns do in fact outrank Acting Ensigns, because Picard specifically refers to Wesely's new rank as a "promotion":


I've reviewed your service record thoroughly... and I've decided upon the appropriate course. I am granting you a field promotion to full Ensign.

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