In Star Trek Voyager the episode Pathfinder ends with Starfleet reestablishing regular, semi-permanent communications with Voyager. After this point why didn't the crew of Voyager update their uniform to the standard being used by the rest of Starfleet at this time?

This accepted answer to a similar question regarding TNG indicates that different uniforms may be based on the type of posting (starbases versus starships). This may explain why the staff at Pathfinder might have different uniforms compared to Voyager, but the EMH Mark 2 seen on the Prometheus, another starship, also had an updated uniform. This suggests that starship uniforms had also updated, meaning Voyager should have refreshed theirs as well.

EMH mk1 and mk2

  • bbc.co.uk/cult/st/interviews/blackman/page7.shtml - Bob Blackman states that the reason Voyager didn't change their uniforms was because they "didn’t have the link to San Francisco, to Star Fleet, to get the information to change their uniforms." - Now, obviously this interview predates 'VOY : Pathfinder'
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 16:04
  • Are you looking for an in-universe reason or an out-of-universe reason?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 18:05
  • @Richard Preferably in-universe, but either would work I suppose.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 18:07
  • I've gone for both but I'm lacking canon sources. I suspect there's simply no good reason in-universe and the showrunners are hardly going to admit their shortcomings out of universe...
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 19:03

3 Answers 3


Power was a continual issue in Voyager, to the point that the crew was issued replicator rations to limit usage throughout the series.

Two examples from the page:

For example a clarinet, a complicated object to replicate, required a week's worth of rations as opposed to one ration to use the replicator one time. (VOY: "Parturition")

Tom Paris' present for Kes, a locket, required two week's worth of rations. (VOY: "Twisted")

A uniform is likely even more complicated, and simply wasn't a high priority.

Maybe a background character cared enough, but for most it wouldn't have mattered, especially since it's been suggested that like real-life, uniform changes don't happen all at once.

While the last mention of replicator rations from Memory Alpha is from the season before "Pathfinder", I don't actually recall the power issues being resolved and the rations becoming unnecessary (and the page says nothing of the sort, either). More likely they simply stopped being mentioned, but still existed in the background.

  • 2
    @Richard While that would make sense, I don't recall it actually being stated. And for dirty, it would make sense for something akin to the sonic shower to be used to keep power usage low
    – Izkata
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 16:23
  • 2
    @Richard "two aliens who've located a Voyager uniform" That would be the Voth I think, let me go see... (but, that really would just mean it was replicated at some point, not necessarily while in the Delta quadrant)
    – Izkata
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 18:35
  • 3
    Yes, it was replicated. That doesn't mean it was replicated recently, or that replicating uniforms on ship was a frequent occurrence. It just demonstrates that Starfleet's quartermasters didn't sit in a room on Jupiter Station stitching everything. Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 19:39
  • 3
    @Richard: Again you're jumping straight to the most extreme case in order to prove or disprove something. Who says they needed enough spares to last seven years? I imagine each crew member would already have two or three uniforms just as a matter of course, perhaps plus a bunch of spares in ship's stores. Of course that wouldn't last seven years, so occasional replicated replenishments would be needed. That hardly proves that replicating uniforms is a frequent occurrence, and hardly proves that re-replicating the entire lot would be feasible. So, no, I won't just "trust you on this one" :) Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 21:04
  • 2
    Uniforms are called uniforms for a reason. Yes, changes are phased in real life, but this is typically done at the installation-level. Meaning, folks who work together on a daily basis typically still wear the same uniform. Changing the doctor and only the doctor (or any other subset of the crew) would have made him/them different than the rest of the crew, and that's silly.
    – Preston
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 1:22

Out of universe

The answer is simple. The budgets for the various episodes are relatively small and replacing an entire set of uniforms is an expensive prospect. Flush with cinematic money from the recent "First Contact" film, the decision seems to have been taken to re-purpose the new FC uniforms for the last two seasons of DS9 and pass the remaining "old-style" uniforms over to Voyager where they would then supplement the existing uniforms for the next 4 years.

This is exactly the same reason why DS9 suddenly got a suspicious influx of brand-new weaponry, high quality props and external sets and why Voyager suddenly found itself travelling through Borg territory for the next couple of seasons.

In universe

There are canon indications that uniforms are replicated in Voy: Year of Hell, Pt II and Voy : Distant Origin. This means that the decision to stick with the old-style uniforms must have been aesthetic rather than utilitarian (e.g. since the uniforms were being repeatedly replaced on a regular basis anyway).

We can only surmise what the captain was thinking but it could be down to;

  • Personal preference on the part of the Captain
  • A conscious desire for remain "apart" from the rest of Starfleet
  • Symbolic - "You'll get new uniforms when we get home"
  • Or simply the most mundane of reasons; in the absence of a qualified tailor, fitting hundreds of new uniforms would tax the crew's time and effort for very little benefit.
  • There is nothing in the revelation that uniforms are replicated that inherently suggests they were frequently replicated. How do you know they were not replicated for the last time before Voyager even left DS9? Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 19:41
  • 2
    There is no canon source that says there wasn't one, either. Do you think they re-replicate all their underwear each day, then? During a time when they can barely afford to replicate food? Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 21:44
  • 5
    The shirt I'm currently wearing is one I've owned since I was 12. I am currently 28. I assure you, it has survived a great deal of wear and tear. I've gardened in it, wrestled, sat exams, eaten pizza while browsing Stack Exchange when I'm meant to be working, and even had sex in the damn thing. I refuse to believe that a Nebula-class starship has inferior clothes-washing technology to my humble washing machine, that's even older than my shirt. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 3:11
  • 1
    @Richard: It isn't right now, but it was before I dropped half a slice of pizza on the damn thing. And it will be again after a go-around in the machine from the year TNG first aired. That thing has stayed pristine for years. It's my shoes that keep falling apart, not the shirt. It's a little stretched, but not as much as you'd expect from a sixteen-year old t-shirt. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 11:26
  • 2
    For the record there is some kind of "cleaning processor" that is used for dirty clothing, which Keiko mentions in TNG In Theory. "KEIKO: Every night, Miles leaves his socks on the floor. [...] After two weeks I couldn't stand it any more. I bundled them up and put them in the cleaning processor. And I'm still doing it."
    – Xantec
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 18:57

As they were a roughly military organization one can draw on similar themes...we were issued our uniforms (usually 3 to 4 standard work, 1 dress and if you were in a specific area you might have gotten additional uniforms due to the nature of your workplace - i.e. medical, mechanical, flightline, etc.).

We replaced our uniforms quite infrequently (usually only after they either withered down in colour schemes from wear/tear and washing them - the uniforms became too light; nowadays is replaced with more durable wash/wear uniforms) or if you had significant weight/height changes that required a change in sizes. The only major unnanounced replacement was if damaged and could not be repaired without noticing the repair work.

Normal duration could easily last you a tour (4 years) or so without the need to replace anything.

Military changes in uniform styles were not that common but there were a few times when each general replacing the next one decided to switch something about the organizational uniforms of the service branch...whether it was replacing name tags with velcro boards, removing shoulder ranks to only velcro patch areas with ranks, to going with naval sleeve rank stripes, etc. Overall most of these styles changed only a little and the main uniform itself only changed a few times in many years (Vietnam OD Green tiger stripe, OD Green BDU, then Desert BDUs for those serving in the Middle East, then the selected digi-patterns for some services and eventually the ACU digital pattern being utilized currently). Those were not very many changes since the 1960s - 50 years worth of military service and only about 3-4 changes and not always to the entire service.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.