Once Voyager is stranded in the Delta quadrant Janeway gives Tom Paris the rank of lieutenant, and he gets two little pips on his collar.

Janeway gives the Maquis crew including Chakotay rank on board, but all of them get provisional pins on their collar.

Why would Tom Paris get an official rank, but the Maquis get provisional rank?


7 Answers 7


While researching this answer, I found that there's a bit of a discrepancy between Paris's pips prop and the dialog in "Caretaker", so there's two possible answers:

The "Caretaker" script is canon

The dialog in "Caretaker" indicates that Paris was, in fact, granted a field (provisional) commission and not a full commission:

JANEWAY: I've entered into the ship's log on this date that I'm granting a field commission of lieutenant to Thomas Eugene Paris. Congratulations.

If this dialog is to be considered canon, Paris's pips are just a production mistake.

Paris's pips are canon

If the pips are correct and Janeway's dialog in "Caretaker" is a writing mistake, in order to gain an official rank, an officer must have completed Starfleet training by graduating from Starfleet Academy, and his or her commission must be approved by Starfleet Command.

While he was briefly a member of the Maquis, Tom Paris was first a Starfleet officer who was subsequently dishonorably discharged and incarcerated prior to the events of "Caretaker". Captain Janeway reactivated him for the mission to hunt down the Maquis, and, since his reactivation happened prior to the mission, it was almost certainly approved by Starfleet Command and thus he was able to regain his commission.

Many of the other members of the Maquis we know of either never went to the Academy or dropped out before graduating (e.g. B'Elanna Torres), and thus could only receive field commissions once aboard Voyager. The members of the Maquis that were once Starfleet officers, like Chakotay, were also only eligible for field commissions as they could not be approved by Starfleet Command due to lack of contact.

An earlier example of the both provisions in play was Wesley Crusher in The Next Generation, who was granted a field commission of Ensign from Captain Picard. Picard couldn't give him a full commission because he never graduated from Starfleet Academy and Starfleet Command never approved it.

Which answer is correct?

In the background information for Tom Paris, Memory Alpha notes:

When Paris was promoted to lieutenant at the end of "Caretaker", he was given the rank pips of a full lieutenant and wore them for several episodes. However, as of the episode "Faces", this costume gaffe was corrected to reflect Paris' actual rank of lieutenant junior grade.

If true, given they noticed a mistake in the pip prop and purposefully corrected it with full pips, it would indicate to me that the latter scenario—that the dialog in "Caretaker" was a mistake and that Tom Paris did, in fact, receive a full commission prior to joining the crew of Voyager—is intended to be the correct one.

  • 4
    Thank you, but Chakotay went to the academy as well; and yet he was given provisional rank.
    – Sponge Bob
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 3:53
  • 3
    @KeeganMcCarthy Huh, I could've sworn none of the Maquis made it through, but you're right. The second provision, that the commission be approved by Starfleet Command, then applies in his case (and in the case of any other ex-Starfleet Maquis).
    – user366
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 4:58
  • I might be wrong here, but wasn't Tom's part of the deal receiving absolution for being part of the mission AND regaining his former rank? It's been a while, but this might provide reasoning (and a loophole, if you'd like to call it one) to grant him full commission.
    – Mario
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 17:34
  • @Mario Janeway explicitly offers to "help him out during his next outmeet review" and implicitly offers a chance to stick it to Chakotay, whom Paris resented, but nothing about regaining his former rank. It wasn't until the end of the episode that she explicitly offered him a commission: prior to that, he was "officially a Starfleet Observer" (which, to me, would implicitly carry rank).
    – user366
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 19:04
  • 2
    When it comes out on Bluray, will they Lucas the pips away?
    – John O
    Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 23:01

Its possible that since Tom Paris was no longer a Maquis (he had already been tried and convicted), he was given the battlefield commission as opposed to a provisional rank.

All of the other Maquis crew were active Maquis, and thus, fugitives. Captain Janeway couldn't give a battlefield commission to them because of this.

  • This is actually a good answer, one I didn't consider. Tom Paris complied with his sentence. He's a convicted felon, but is not actively wanted. Chakotay, Torres, etc. are wanted criminals. Commented May 31 at 0:42

Having re-watched Caretaker,it's hard to satisfactorily answer the question. Although Paris completed the academy, so did Chakotay and it's reasonable to assume Chakotay had more active service experience as he held a command rank, and in the same episode Tom Paris admits his service was 'short lived'.

However, as Tuvok later received a field promotion and had pips not the provisional badge, Revulsion it's logical to assume that some element of Tom Paris' service status with Starfleet enabled him to receive the full pips too. He was specifically a Starfleet observer, not an officer, at launch though so its hard to define what this might be - perhaps it was reactivating his former rank.

It's also possible because Chakotay had charges against him outstanding (simply by being a Maquis member and attacking Caradassian vessels in violation of the treaty) he wasn't eligible for the full pips re-activation - he was an actively pursued outlaw and Paris had served his time (or rather, was serving).

I would suspect that it was thought behind the scenes that Paris needed to have his feet on the 'Starfleet' side of things not the Maquis. He is never really treated as an ex-Maquis after the first episodes after all - and in Parralax, neither Chakotay or Janeway cite him as an example of a Maquis officer when they are discussing the issue of promoting other Maquis than Chakotay, strongly implying they both consider Paris 'Starfleet' despite his shady past. Of course this isn't direct proof.


It would seem that in Starfleet Provisional and Field officers receive different commissions. It might be that because Paris hadn't renounced his federation citizenship like the Maqui had, so professional commissions might be giving to non-federation field officers and Field commissions only for full citizens. I say this because Wesley had a field commission and pips. Only thing is Nog but its unclear if his commission was from Sisko or Starfleet.

  • @trekmonger Could you link some canon evidence for your claim? e.G. from memory-alpha, or some scripts where that was discussed on-screen? Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 12:00
  • 1
    I've cleared my downvote. It's a reasonable point, albeit without any evidence to back it up
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 12:07

I believe that Paris and Chakotay were given their former ranks back by Janeway in the form of a reactivated commission. This was done as both Paris and Chakotay had gone through Starfleet Academy. The other Maquis were brought into the crew as if they had enlisted in Starfleet and were given provisional rank accordingly (crewman 3rd class being the lowest rank this is probably where they all started). It's been a while since I've watched Voyager but I looked up the crew manifest on memory alpha and most of the Maquis were crewmen aside from those that got promoted such as B'Elanna Torres.


Probably because Tom Paris went to Starfleet Academy and finished it. So did Chakotay (who had a lot of experience as an officer and was already a Commander when he left Starfleet to fight for the Maqui - so Janeway merely re-instated his pre-existing rank).

I'm not sure which rank Tom Paris had before he was kicked out of Starfleet... but I suspect he might have been an ensign who was on a track record to become a Lt before the accident... so its possible that Janeway gave him back his rank and then promoted him as part of his 'second chance'.

Though, B'eLana Torres was appointed a Liutenant and chief engineer (however, she also went to academy, but dropped out during/after the second year).

Janeway and Chakotay both agreed that they will be a Starfleet crew... still, the provisional ranks do make sense in case of the Maqui who hadn't been to or finished the Academy (being on Voyager would probably make up the difference, and after a while they would probably be 'field promoted' just enough as the ranks allowed (it was a small ship with oh so many positions available) ).


The ranks on the Maquis characters are Maquis ranks, not Starfleet field commissions. This would make sense since they would have their own chain of command or command structure. Here is the site that shows the ranks that I found when I wanted to find out what their pips meant.

  • 2
    That site is basically a fanfic game/organization... It doesn't correspond to the series. Base: Empok Nor (??), Founded: 1994, etc...
    – Izkata
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 0:12
  • I can't find the exact source and quote right now, but there is clear dialog early in STVOY (might very well be toward the end of Caretaker) that Janeway and Chakotay has agreed that there should be one crew (a Starfleet crew), not one Starfleet crew and one Maquis crew aboard the same ship.
    – user
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 15:07
  • According to en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Starfleet_ranks#Provisional_officers The Maquis received Starfleet provisional rankings - not Maqui rankings.
    – user17124
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 12:35

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