In DS9 episode "Tears of the Prophets" (S06:E26), Sisko is holding a conference where he attempts to convince the Romulans to help invade Cardassia. In the background is a guy in a TNG-style Starfleet uniform with no pips on his collar. This presumably makes him a crewman, although there may be pips that aren't visible. Of greater interest, however, is that he's wearing an old uniform that had been phased out by this time. The TNG-style uniform had been out of use for at least two years at this point in the Dominion War, possibly even longer.

Image of the crewman in an old uniform

Who is this character and why is he wearing the old-style uniform?


2 Answers 2


From the episode "Homefront" we saw a bunch of officers stationed on/near Earth in the TNG-style uniforms, even after Voyager had departed with only black jumpsuits available.

And of course there was all that uniform juggling in Generations. Even Admiral Ross' first appearance had the old TNG-style uniform

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That was chronologically months later than Admiral Hayes wearing a weird hybrid uniform in "First Contact." (If you look closely you'll see the stripes of stitching.)

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So the best in-universe explanation is that there was a very long tail of uniform migration, that waited longest for "desk" officers, such as admirals, their attachés (remember Dexter Remmick?), and perhaps assignments related to the Federation diplomatic corps.

  • 2
    Maybe Voyager took all the black uniforms with them? :)
    – DavidW
    Aug 16, 2019 at 15:55
  • 1
    this doesn't answer the entire question and is pretty much speculation unfortunately
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 16, 2019 at 15:55
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    @NKCampbell Partial answers are perfectly fine of course.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 16, 2019 at 15:57
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    For an org as large as Starfleet, equipment rollouts won’t happen overnight. It could take years to make sure everyone has the “new” stuff. You have starships off on long-distance missions, who knows when the next time they’ll be back for resupply. You have starship crews and personnel who are too busy with assignments to worry about getting their uniform updated. That would be a low priority. So by the time the new look rolled out to everyone, it’d be realistically 2-3 years timespan. Aug 16, 2019 at 18:00
  • Finally! Canon proof of FTL time dilation in the Star Trek universe.
    – user62584
    Mar 27, 2020 at 0:03

The grey uniform was issued during War time. It was designed to make it harder to distinguish the wearers department, rank and make it harder for them to be targeted.

It would make sense you'd issue to your frontline line personnel first, and work your way back.

By the time Picard comes around, SF have moved back to the shoulder departmental design.

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. These are fleet uniforms, not what ground troops would be wearing, so (since they are extremely unlikely to be the targets of sniper fire) the trend would be to greater rank visibility rather than less. Can you provide evidence that Starfleet was trying to minimize rank distinctions?
    – DavidW
    Mar 26, 2020 at 20:59
  • @DavidW: Actually, the rank is equally visible on virtually all uniforms of the 24th century (shiny pips on the collar). What is less visible on First-Contact-uniforms is the department. Mar 26, 2020 at 21:12
  • @O.R.Mapper My only point is that if they're changing the uniforms because of the war, it doesn't make sense to decrease the visibility of the officer's rank/role, since in combat the only people seeing an officer will be people on the same side who may need to make split-second decisions as to who is in their chain of command.
    – DavidW
    Mar 26, 2020 at 21:26

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