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The duty of chief engineer has been emphasised as one of the most important ones in the Star Trek franchise, in all its adaptations. In The Next Generation, La Forge took over the task in season two.

But who was the chief engineer in season 1? I found no mention of that anywhere.

Is the season 1 of TNG the only one in the whole Star Trek series where the role of the chief engineer is less emphasised?

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As far as I know, they had a series of Chief Engineers.

E.g. "The Naked Now" (S1E03) had Sarah MacDougal.

Memory Alpha lists the sequence as "MacDougal; Argyle; Logan; Lynch; La Forge".

The fan speculation was that they did it to try and NOT have a "This is the new Scotty" comparisons.

Memory Alpha tries to hand-wave it away with talking of "Multiple simultaneous chief engineers, possibly one for each shift", but that sounds like rationalization without a canonical source.

And yes, S1 of TNG was the only one where there was no main-character Chief Engineer (see the above Memory Alpha link).

  • 1
    What happens when Geordie's shift is over? Is Data in charge? – Darth Egregious Jan 28 '13 at 16:02
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    @user973810 - that's why Starfleet invented Blackberries – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 28 '13 at 16:46
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    @user973810 What happens when Geordie's shift is over? I would gather the same thing that happens when the captain or any other officer's shift is over. One of his subordinates is place handles the responsibilities. Plus his staff or the computer will alert him in the case of any emergencies. – Zoredache Jan 30 '13 at 2:06
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    scifi.stackexchange.com/a/52043/20533 This answer provides some explanation. Apparently, they were under the impression at first that they would not NEED a Chief Engineer, but over time this proved to be false. – Zibbobz Apr 2 '14 at 14:12
  • The shocking things are that (1) How could they think they didn't need a chief engineer?! (2) If they didn't want the new Scotty, why did that name four characters is a row whose names could be Scottish?! – ThePopMachine May 12 '15 at 14:27
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From what I can tell the progression of Chief Engineers by episode goes:

  • Sarah MacDougal 1x03(The Naked Now)
  • (Michael) Argyle 1x06(Where No One Has Gone Before), 1x13(Datalore)
  • Logan 1x21(The Arsenal of Freedom)
  • Leland T. Lynch 1x23(Skin of Evil)
  • Geordi LaForge 2x01(the Child) onward

There are no instances where a Chief Engineer is mentioned, a new one is introduced, then an earlier one resumes the role. This progression makes me doubt the theories that there are multiple chief engineers to cover each duty shift but when Geordi takes over they reduce to one.

My theory goes that MacDougal was the Chief Engineer for the launch and initial shakedown, possibly she is a specialist in new ship shakedowns. Then was replaced by Argyle, who would last most of the first season, but then leaves, possibly retires, possibly reassigned due to personality conflict or inability to adapt to the new technology of the Enterprise (he never seemed overly innovative or anything more than competent). From then begins a cycling rota of "test" chief engineers from the ship's Junior officer pool. We see this in Arsenal of Freedom where Lieutenant Logan is less than secure in his position and threatened by Laforge's elevation over him, at this time Laforge is a command officer at navigation. Soon he is replaced by Lieutenant Commander Leland T. Lynch who is also proud of his recent promotion as seen by his insistence of responding with his full name when comm'ed. Just before s2ep01 "The Child" Geordi transfers to Engineering (first time we see him out of the red uniform) and he remains chief engineer.

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There is mention in the Season 1 Episode "Where No One Has Gone Before" about the possibility of multiple chiefs. When Commander Riker introduces Argyle as "one of our chief engineers, Lt. Cdr Argyle in this case." to Mr. Kosinski.

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