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In The Next Phase, after

La Forge is thought to be dead

there is this line:

RIKER: In fact I might like to say a few words.
PICARD: You did know La Forge longer than any of us.

It's clear La Forge was already on-board the Enterprise in "Encounter at Farpoint" when Riker beams on, so the history must be prior to the show.

What exactly is their history?

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The fictional biographies for Riker and La Forge indicate that they both served together on the USS Hood (with Riker as First Officer and La Forge as a lieutenant), albeit the dialogue indicates that they've never actually met.

Note also that the original script for TNG: Encounter at Farpoint shows La Forge, Riker and various other junior officers on the planet waiting to come aboard the Enterprise:

RIKER : And you, Mister La Forge. Captain Dreyer praised your performance on the Hood. Why did you request transfer to the Enterprise? - TNG: Encounter at Farpoint


The episode's official novelisation mentions (and covers this) in a little more detail

The VISOR was actually more than just a replacement for his eyes. It allowed him to see telescopically and microscopically, as well as view the entire spectrum of light from X-ray to infrared. La Forge had also been serving on the Hood as conn officer, but his duty shifts had not often coincided with Riker's, and the older man knew him primarily by reputation.


As to why Picard said what he said, he may have simply been referring to the fact that Riker had known La Forge prior to joining the Enterprise which none of the other crew had.

  • Yes, that's what I'm asking. He did apparently know him before the Enterprise if they both served on the Hood. I suppose that line could be interpreted as "You seemed to be happy and have the respect of your superiors on the Hood. Why did you request a transfer?" – ThePopMachine Jul 27 '15 at 18:34
  • @ThePopMachine - I've clarified. Both the script and the novelisation make it abundantly clear that he only knows La Forge because he's read/asked about him, not because he's met him. – Valorum Jul 27 '15 at 18:43
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    Now, the novelization just makes things even weirder. I mean, the Hood is not a huge ship, and if LaForge was conn officer, they would both be stationed on the bridge. Furthermore, Riker being first officer, would know everyone on the ship to a greater or lesser extent. So I don't buy the 'knew him primarily by reputation'. I would buy 'knew him, but not personally" but not what's offered. – ThePopMachine Jul 27 '15 at 19:20
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    Speaking as someone who has had to interview / hire people from time to time, it's not an uncommon practice to treat those you know (but have little or no direct business experience with) almost like strangers. In social interaction, you may revert to shared history, but in a work environment, it's a common tactic to ensure fair treatment to simply pretend you know nothing about a person's history from personal experience, and go with only what is in their record and what they tell you. It also helps ensure that their coworkers don't feel discriminated against in favor of your 'old friend.' – K-H-W Jul 27 '15 at 21:02
  • @K-H-W - Indeed. The novelisation says "his duty shifts had not often coincided with Riker's". Not never, just rarely. – Valorum Jul 27 '15 at 21:09

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