Commander Riker refused his own command (and, by extension, a promotion) a few times during TNG's run. Captain Picard rejected Admiral Quinn's attempt to have him promoted to admiral.

If a lowly ensign or lieutenant were to be promoted due to excellent service, could they reject the offer and stay where they are?

  • 3
    Why not? Seems fairly clear serving in Starfleet is effectively a hobby in the first place (the Federation being post-scarcity society with all basic needs provided for and all). Seems like you wouldn't want to hand additional responsibilities to someone who is not willing to accept them. Mar 19, 2019 at 4:25
  • I don't think any modern (or future) military organisation would force a promotion on an unwilling person, that would be disastrous for morale and the command structure. The exception being field promotion, where a junior must take command when a senior officer is killed or incapacitated. As a side note my grandfather was promoted from corporal to sergeant in the British Army several times and turned it down each time as he didn't want the added responsibility.
    – user22478
    Mar 19, 2019 at 7:13
  • Not only can you, but unlike contemporary militaries, you can essentially resign at any time. Mar 20, 2019 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


Yes, O'Brien discusses putting in for a transfer. Since he's been promoted in his current role, changing position would result in him taking a diminished rank.

O'BRIEN: Look, I'm willing to ask for a transfer if that'll make you happy.

KEIKO: That's not fair either. You'd have to give up your promotion.

O'BRIEN: Not necessarily.

DS9: A Man Alone

Moving down the canon scale, it's discussed in one of the TNG novels that married Starfleet couples are often forced to turn down promotions in order to remain together.

Nor could they have chosen a better time for it. In the past, Starfleet marriages were risky endeavors, often doomed in the attempt to balance two careers, forcing choices between refused promotions or long separations. Either way, domestic pressures added to an already stressful lifestyle resulted in an unconscionably high rate of broken marriages.

Star Trek TNG: Survivors

  • By the way, to add onto this answer...scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/3849/… Mar 21, 2019 at 12:57
  • @IrwinAllen13 - OP was asking about lower ranked officers, not command rankings.
    – Valorum
    Mar 21, 2019 at 13:01
  • True, but the Command ranks are held to a higher standard. He is setting an example for everyone in Starfleet. And since, not too many people make it a HUGE deal (i.e. it's not breaking news across the galaxy), one could safely assume that this actually happens on a common occurrence. Mar 21, 2019 at 13:15
  • @IrwinAllen13 - Oh sure. In the show and books we see multiple occasions where command officers turn down various promotions to Captaincies and Admiralships (notably Picard, Riker (repeatedly), Sisko, Spock and Tuvok). But that's not what the question was asking
    – Valorum
    Mar 21, 2019 at 13:35

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