One of the scenes that were used to show and develop the character of Worf as Klingon was him objecting to Captain Picard's order to comand the separated Enterprise saucer section in "Encounter at Farpoint" ST:TNG episode.

"I am a Klingon, sir. For me to seek escape when my Captain goes into battle..."

"You are a Starfleet officer, Lieutenant!"

While that's useful to show Klingon nature, this seeems majorly implausible and breaks any suspension of disbelief for me, that a seasoned senior officer would even remotely think to not only dispute a direct order but stand around like an opera singer discussing how he feels about it - in combat situation no less!

Is that addressed/retconned somewhere? Or merely a result of the writers not having a first clue how military works?

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    Disregarding orders from a senior officer due to incompatible personal values is quite common both in motion pictures and on television. It's also not unheard of in real military circumstance. Why does this particular instance bug you so?
    – zrvan
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 17:16
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    I'd always assumed that at this point, Worf was brand new to Starfleet, and was thus not entirely familiar with protocols yet. But memory alpha is vague on the subject, simply saying he joined starfleet in 2364, the same year as the episode is set.
    – Nellius
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 17:26
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    Keep in mind Worf was not, in fact, a senior officer here yet. Tasha was still the chief security officer... and Worf was only ranked a Lt. JG at the time. That's Lieutennant *Junior Grade*.
    – eidylon
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 22:19
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    @eidylon An officer's rank doesn't seem to be tied to being a senior officer. Look at Harry Kim. He was a senior officer on Voyager before they got kicked to the Delta quadrant, and he was only an Ensign for the entire show.
    – Xantec
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 17:12
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    Starfleet is not the military as we know it and does not have the same expectations of discipline and obedience.
    – Schwern
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 17:08

3 Answers 3


I agree with Bobby that Worf just wants to stay with his Captain.

Also remember that this is a brand new crew and not used to working with each other yet. They don't really know what they're doing as a team quite yet. I'd like to think Worf was just trying to prove that he's not a coward and he would stand by his Captain. Probably one of the many junior officers that had tried to impress the Captain since he got onboard.

Contrast this to say the episode "Allegiance", where Picard can easily communicate his intent to the bridge officers with non-verbal signals and get the exact result he was looking for. By then the Captain and the officers knew how to gel together, and knew when it was appropriate to discuss arguments with Picard, which they do, but behind closed doors and not in a position that jeopardizes unity of command (unless drama dictates otherwise of course). It takes time to build this level of teamwork that neither Picard nor the crew have gotten to yet so early in the series, which is why in hindsight this outburst looks so out of place.

It's not until later that the working relationship between Worf and Picard builds up a level of trust that would put Worf into a position to be more opinionated with Picard; enough so that he can say silly things like "Captain I must protest, I am not a merry man!" and know he wasn't out of bounds, as well as the times Worf and Riker would remind Picard that he shouldn't go on that away mission but he does anyway. They knew where their boundaries were.

Of course this relationship is strained in the First Contact movie for this very same kind of outburst, but at the end Picard knew Worf was right.

You should check out how Worf interacts when meeting Sisko in the DS9 episode "Way of the Warrior", and compare that to how he interacts with him as a seasoned Commander throughout that series vs. how he acted with Picard as a junior Lieutenant, it's a good way to see how his character developed. Another episode into Worf's development as a commander can be seen in "Rules of Engagement".

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    I know Klingons always act this way and even Picard has disobeyed direct orders and they do this for the drama aspect, so I'm offering this as an alternative to "they make them argue because it's a TV show and drama is good". Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 22:18
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    Also, this is probably Worf's first bridge position, he is more than a little gung-ho to prove himself. Also, at this point he has not proven himself in Picard's eyes and may feel that he is being sent away because of a perceived deficiency on his part. Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 0:49

I don't see anything special there, let's just alter the phrase a little bit:

"I am a Marine, sir. For me to seek escape when my Captain goes into battle..."

Worf protested against the order simply because he wanted to stay, fight and do his duty alongside his commander. I think mentioning that he's Klingon does just underline this statement, by simply saying "I'm a warrior and you're my captain, I'm not leaving while you stay".

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    Wouldn't that be grounds for court marshial? Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 22:41
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    Or shot on the spot?
    – erdiede
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 0:59
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    Technically, yes - but a commander like Picard probably appreciates Worf's sentiment, and given that Worf responded to the subsequent reassertion of the order, it probably wouldn't even make it into the official log. On the other hand, a Captain Queeg-like character (The Caine Mutiny) would probably have slapped him in irons...
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 0:59
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    Do not forget that Picard knew that Worf was a Klingon and would not be suprised by this reply. He would probably understand that Worf's honour would compel him to protest and he would have to reaffirm the order. It would only be an issue if Worf actually refused 'for real'.
    – Stefan
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 14:42
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    arguing with a direct order isn't necessarily grounds for a court martial. In fact, if you sincerely believe you have information that your superior does not possess which would influence their decision, it's almost your duty to present that argument. It's the commanding officer's privilege to either agree and rescind his order, or acknowledge your objections and repeat his order. Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 9:34


I always saw that as heavy-handed scriptwriting. As the pilot episode, they had to establish the characters and their roles, to an audience of both Trek afficionados and newbies. A Trek newbie might not have known what a Klingon is or anything about their cultural stereotype. There was a lot of exposition which was either unnecessary or could have been delivered with more subtlety for the afficionados, but the scriptwriters (and maybe the actors) probably felt they had to go a little over the top with it so the newbies could follow along.

A lot of TNG's first season, and parts of the second season had IMHO, numerous cringe-worthy moments like that. They had disappeared by season 3.

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