On the Shenzou, Cpt. Georgiou refers to her first officer as “Michael”. At first, I was thinking she was doing something like Spock where he was referred to by one name. But other crew members refer to her as “Cmdr. Burnham” or even “Number One”. We see this especially in her space walk to the mysterious object.

Why does the captain call her by her first name?

  • 8
    Even Picard called Riker "Will" from time to time...
    – HorusKol
    Sep 25, 2017 at 1:57
  • @HorusKol Did he do it on the bridge? I honestly don’t recall that happening. Sep 25, 2017 at 2:00
  • 2
    Yes, he does, although it's usually when Picard is having a more informal moment and is looking to personally appeal to Riker.
    – Ellesedil
    Sep 25, 2017 at 16:57
  • Sisko called Major Kira "Nerys" from time to time as well. Mar 14, 2019 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


In episode 2, we learn that the relationship between Georgiu and Burnham is deliberately less formal than might be expected:

Michael Burnham didn't join Starfleet the usual way. Seven years prior to the series' main events, she transferred directly to the Shenzhou after graduating from the Vulcan Science Academy, without going through Starfleet Academy. Sarek, who had raised Burnham, asked Captain Georgiou to help the Vulcan-accultured Burnham become reacquainted with humanity and human ways.

The dual nature of Georgiu's relationship with Burnham (as commanding officer and as a kind of godmother) seems to have blurred the lines of protocol between them.

  • 1
    Thanks for clarifying that; I only saw the first episode of Discovery because it was the only one that aired on live TV. Pity that crucial info like that is only available to those who buy CBS All-Access. Sep 25, 2017 at 12:39

The other crew members can't call her "Michael"; they're her subordinates. Georgiou, as her superior, is the only one on the ship who has the ability to use her first name when speaking to her on duty.

  • Yup. Hence why Picard periodically calls Commander Riker "Will"
    – Valorum
    Mar 14, 2019 at 20:46

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