In ST:TNG Season 5, episode 3 (Ensign Ro), the following scene occurs:

[Transporter room]

(a young woman in red uniform beams in, wearing a sullen expression and a fancy earring)

RO: Ensign Ro Laren reporting as ordered, Commander.

RIKER: You will follow Starfleet uniform code aboard this ship, Ensign.

(she removes the earring)

Why, when Worf is permitted to wear his sash, is Ro not allowed to wear her earpiece?

  • 19
    @Robotnik The earrings have to do with Bajoran religion
    – Izkata
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 5:03
  • 5
    Could it be as simple as Ensign vs. Lieutenant, Junior Grade (and bridge officer)? I'm not that familiar with the rank system used by ST...
    – DevSolar
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 15:51
  • 62
    to misquote Han Solo, because Bajorans don't rip people's arms out of their sockets when you try to prohibit their earrings Commented May 27, 2015 at 17:22
  • 4
    The sashes are markings of rank and family. They have no religious significance among the Klingons. The sash is also a part of the standard Klingon uniform, so it may be allowed as being the same as the collar pips on a Starfleet uniform.
    – BBlake
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 20:39
  • 3
    @Keen Attention wasn't drawn to it like with Ro when she boarded the ship, but all the Bajorans on the planet in that episode were also wearing earrings. It was definitely a cultural thing, although I doubt the details about it being religious were worked out
    – Izkata
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 3:08

7 Answers 7


Fairly simple: Worf is a respected officer with a spotless record, thus he gets a bit more tolerance in some areas. Ro was court-martialed and had to be sprung out of prison by an admiral, therefore Riker has her toe the line like a first-year cadet. She was out of uniform upon arrival, and got snapped at for it.

In reality, Worf was wearing the sash in Encounter at Farpoint and they just never had a reason to take it off. Ro needed to be pictured as rather less desirable, and a reprimand from the FO 15 seconds after arrival does that quite well.

  • 7
    The direct contrast would seem to encourage the idea that Riker was making it somewhat personal.
    – Neil
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 15:39
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    @Neil he was. In his mind, her presence was an insult to him and every other Starfleet Officer. She had no business being on ANY Starfleet ship, let alone THE flagship of the Federation. A ship thousands of more deserving officers would give their eye teeth to serve on.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 17:44
  • 9
    Also supported by Troi being allowed a leotard on the bridge instead of a uniform - she too was in good standing
    – Izkata
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 3:16
  • If this were true, it would imply that Worf was not permitted to wear the sash when he was a cadet or an ensign. Absent any evidence of that, I think we need to assume he always wore it. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 14:06
  • @ThePopMachine Or there was less prejudice against Worf. After all, he was not court-martialed and disliked by virtually everyone who knew him, unlike Ro.
    – forest
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 9:07

According to the Memory Alpha article on Starfleet Uniform Code, it is explained that there seem to be some inconsistencies regarding Bajoran earings. Although, as the OP points out, Worf was able to wear his baldric, this may have been because it denotes the symbol of a Klingon's house, according to this article, which is highly significant to a Klingon. (Note I'm not saying that the Bajoran earing isn't important to Bajorans, but it may have been due to cultural understandings between the Federation and Bajorans at the time not being fully developed; indeed apparently one Bajoran serving on the Enterprise-E wore an earing according to the Memory Alpha article which suggests to me that there may have been improved cultural understandings between the Bajorans and Federation, especially following the events of Star Trek: Deep Space 9).

To explain why Riker said this, I do point out that Starfleet Uniform code does specify that:

elaborate headbands and jewelry were in violation of the dress code

hence, perhaps we can conclude that Riker saw Ro's earing as an 'elaborate piece of jewelry' so on that basis asked her to remove it.

Similarly, in VOY 'Learning Curve', Tuvok requires that Gerron removes his Bajoran earing as well. This suggests that the earing is indeed seen as an 'elaborate piece of jewelry', like Chell's Kazleti pendant. This probably reflects Starfleet's lack of understanding of Bajoran customs. Considering the Federation sets up on Deep Space Nine in 2370 and the USS Voyager is lost in the Delta Quadrant in 2371, over a year Starfleet may have not had time to update their protocols to accept Bajoran earings.

  • 20
    Back to Cultural Sensitivity 101 for him then! Paging Starfleet HR!
    – Gaius
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 11:28
  • 11
    Is Cultural Sensitivity 101 where they also tell you not to seduce aliens? Commented May 27, 2015 at 18:13
  • 7
    @DJClayworth That figures, I never saw Kirk in those classes at Starfleet either...
    – Tonny
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 18:58
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    @Jeutnarg that being said Picard is fairly well versed with Klingon culture as we see in the series Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 5:53
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    The fancy Bajoran earrings are, if nothing else, something of a safety hazard. There are all kinds of places on a starship where they might get snagged and cost somebody an ear. It's somewhat foolish of her to wear it when on-duty.
    – Perkins
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 19:19

Because she hadn't obtained permission yet.

At the end of that very same episode, she asks Picard for permission to continue wearing her earring, and he grants it.

Since Worf is already wearing his baldric when we first see him, it's reasonable to assume that he has already asked for and been given an exemption that allows him to wear it.

  • 4
    Actually a pretty good point. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 4:17

In Memory Alpha, it states that if someone wants to wear anything not part of the dress code, they need the captain's permission to wear it. Worf probably already obtained permission, whereas Ro obviously had not.

  • Memory Alpha is not a primary source unless it gives a reference. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 13:41

I always thought it was because the boldric is tightly put on the uniform and made for someone in combat, while the earings are not fit for combat given they hang down and could be easily pulled out or used to control the wearer in hand to hand. So basically the boldric either worf was trained to wear in combat or was made to not be used against him unlike a big easy to grab earing.
Also for those who say it was starfleet just not understanding bajoran culture should remember when kira was given a field commission she had to take her earing off and that was like the last few episodes of ds9, this might also mean it is up to the commander if the posting has enough combat for it to matter or not.

  • OK, except the Bajoran earrings are shown to be clip-ons. Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 3:58
  • Also forgot they say in ds9 the earings style has something to do with there cast or province or something like the boldric in a way.
    – trekmonger
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 4:00
  • 1
    hmmm always just headcanonned that away as a prop thing for the men who didnt have earing holes and due to heavy prop material(big earings can be painfull....has it ever been said they are all clips?
    – trekmonger
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 4:02
  • Riker chews Ro out and she takes it off onscreen. Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 4:09
  • 1
    Yeah but just because something looks one way doesnt mean it was intended to be that way and not just prop limitations. also on ds9 it would be hard to keep so many earings clean and ear infections would be rampent on set. Either way the earings clip on both the lobe and the top of the ear so they would still be bad for combat.
    – trekmonger
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 11:20

This isn't canon, but there is some flexibility in military uniforms. There are several options that may or may not be worn depending on the occasion. Ribbons, medals, and other insignia can be optional; e.g., a surface warfare pin should be worn by a qualified sailor but it's not wrong to leave it off. Worf's sash seems to fall into that category.

There is not to say that there are many options. You must be in proper uniform while on duty unless ordered otherwise. Rank insignia must always be displayed with rare exceptions. You must wear a cover (hat/cap) outside unless the area is designated a no-cover zone.


I don't think the ear piece is religious, in DS9 its described as representing their 'D'jarra' (the class of worker they were born into 'preoccupation by the Cardassions'). It may be a sign they trust the Prophets but that's not its intended purpose

On the other hand Worf wore a representation to his house, the 2nd most important thing in Klingon culture (next to honor)

Therefore one is a strongly acceptable compromise (for the only Klingon in star-fleet, where relations with that culture aren't the best most of the time). Whereas the other wants to wear an ear piece that has no significant meaning anymore to her culture. Relations with Bajor suggested that others in that species were OK with removing it without offence

It stands to reason that the only pure Klingon in star-fleet would be allowed to show his house (as star-fleets would like more Klingons to join), and the Bajorans who have shown no cultural problem by taking them off, would be considered jewelry.

  • why the down-votes, I'm relatively new here, I am just trying to work out how this works, I think the points I made are valid watch TNG: The Bonding at the end the satch is given to a child to bring him into his family, Its clearly more significant to the Bajoran ear piece. Are you just down-voting because I am new?
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 23:29
  • 1
    I personally downvoted because your answer was lacking in the punctuation which your comment above shows that you're capable of using. It resulted in another user having to spend several minutes going through and correcting your (otherwise quite sensible) post.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 23:32
  • I corrected it myself after your comment, All RedCaio edited was remove the line i added which said 'Edit: punctuation and spelling corrected'
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 23:36
  • Fair enough. In that case I've removed my downvote. It's a reasonable answer, but I'm not convinced that you could argue that Worf's sash is a religious artifact and that Kira's earring isn't. Wouldn't it be more likely that it's the other way around, that Worf's sash is non-religious and that her earring is religious (and hence, potentially inflammatory to others)?
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 23:41
  • Thanks, but my point is that neither were religious, just that the sash was culturally significant to Klingon's and important to the culture, whereas the ear piece is cultural but not something Bajorans need to display, as they are happy to take them off, AND is from a preoccupation era of cast structure. Religion has nothing to do with at all. Just importance to that culture
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 23:52

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