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I'm assuming the following for uniforms, Gold is operations (security, science, engineering, etc.), Red is command, Blue is medical. Data seems to have a lot of command responsibilities, and he is almost always left in charge when both Picard and Riker are gone. I know he has lots of science type of assignments, but I thought in one episode it was mentioned that he was on a command track (I think it was during season 3). Am I wrong that he was on a command track or are my assumptions on uniform colors incorrect? If I'm correct on those assumptions, is there any reason given for Data being in a gold uniform instead of red?

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    Sciences are also blue (in addition to medical). – Xantec Jun 23 '13 at 4:08
  • I was just about to come ask this question myself, after watching the episode you're referring to: S3E2, The Ensigns of Command. At the colony, he says "My training has prepared me for starship command duties." See also the end of this answer for an (out-of-universe) explanation of why Data doesn't wear a blue uniform despite being the Enterprise's science officer. – Pops Jan 31 '15 at 20:03
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Data served as operations officer and second officer on board the USS Enterprise-D from 2364 until the vessel's destruction in 2371.

An officer who belonged to the command division sometimes wore the division color of another department in which they specialized if said command officer became a security chief, engineer, or commanded a science department. Memory Alpha -> Command Division

Since he did not require sleep, he routinely stood night watch on the bridge. He frequently participated in many of the away missions undertaken. His speed of thought and great strength made him an important asset to the ship, and the fact that he was unaffected by disease, radiation, or mind control was vital on more than one occasion. Memory Alpha -> Data

The Operations position, was typically manned by a member of the Command staff of a Starship, regardless of seniority. On the Starship USS Enterprise-D, Chief Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Data doubling as Second Officer), was thereby the most senior member of the ship's crew, excluding the Captain and First Officer.

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In-Universe, Lt Commander Data wears a gold uniform to indicate his position as Head of the Operations Division as well as de facto Science Officer and Senior Operations Officer in addition to his position as Second Officer under Captain Jean-Luc Picard and First Officer William Riker.

Other members of Command staff have worn different colours than would normally be expected, notably Admiral Toddman who wears a gold uniform in the DS9 episode "The Die is Cast" confirming that a specialism (in his case Security) can override rank when determining uniform colour.

Admiral Toddman

Out-of-universe, the decision was taken to present Data in a gold uniform because of the colour clash between the red (Command) or blue (Science) uniforms and the pancake white & gold face makeup and yellow contact lenses. He was moved from the planned "Chief Science Officer" position (the same role held by Spock, on whom Data was modelled) into an Operations position to justify the change in uniform.

You can see an example of this in the picture below (from Chain of Command, Part II) where Data's new red uniform definitely accentuates Brent Spiner's true skin colour through the makeup.

enter image description here

  • "Out of universe, the decision was taken to present Data in a gold uniform because of the colour clash between the red (Command) or blue (Science) uniforms and the pancake white & gold face makeup and yellow contact lenses." I thought they switched Command from gold to red because Data's makeup looked terrible with the traditional Ops-red uniform. Keep in mind that Command was gold in TOS. – mu is too short Dec 30 '13 at 3:40
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    According to Memory Alpha (en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Command_division) the decision to switch command from gold to red was taken because the lighting and PAL definition in 1995 made red a slightly more attractive colour. They also briefly considered blue which I think we can all agree looks dreadful; i1043.photobucket.com/albums/b432/greenpenguino/… – Valorum Dec 30 '13 at 9:36
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It had nothing to do with the Starfleet command structure. It was a move totally by costuming to find a pale color that would accentuate Spiner's white skin.

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    Can you provide a source which supports that? While I believe you, having evidence would strengthen your answer. – Edlothiad Aug 7 '18 at 14:41
  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Do you have any evidence you could edit in that support your assertions here or is it just speculation? We generally try to avoid speculation here, see How to Answer. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 7 '18 at 14:41

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