As you can see in the following image, everybody on the bridge wears a uniform, except Deanna Troi.

Troi wearing more casual clothing

But in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Encounter at Farpoint", we see Deanna Troi wearing a uniform.

Deanna Troi's mini-skirt uniform

Memory Alpha for ST:TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" states:

This episode marks the last time that Counselor Troi is seen in a Starfleet uniform until TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I" with the exception of TNG: "Future Imperfect" where Troi as well as the entire events of that episode turn out to be an illusion.

Is there an in-universe explanation for this fact (dropping of the uniform until season 6)?

Is there an out-of-universe explanation aside from "Fanservice"?


7 Answers 7


There is an out-of-universe explanation. I can't give you links on it, but during the summer between seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, there was a convention in Richmond, VA. Now, I'm not a big convention-goer, but I have a rule: Whenever there's a Star Trek convention in my home town, I go. (So I've been to both conventions held in Richmond!)

David Gerrold was one of the honored guests and, at the time, he had left ST:TNG to start developing his own series (which, as best I known, never hit the screen). But he had worked on ST:TNG during the development of the series and into the first season.

One question focused on Marina Sirtis' acting skills and lines, especially in Encounter at Farpoint. Gerrold's response was, essentially, that they still weren't sure what to do with her and they weren't even completely sure she was going to be in the series. He commented that he didn't blame her for any difficulties with the pilot because they didn't know what to do with the character and she didn't even know if she was going to have a job or not. She knew the character was still not a sure thing.

The character of the Ship's Counselor first showed up in the original series bible for Star Trek: Phase II (not the episodes currently in production, but the planned 2nd Trek series in the 1970s). It's clearly something Roddenberry wanted in Trek, but since such a character was a new idea, they weren't sure how such a character would be used, if they could justify her presence on the ship, and if she fit in a dramatic function.

In Encounter at Farpoint, they were still experimenting with Troi, so her being in a uniform was not something they had thought about. She was on the crew, so she wore a uniform.

While he didn't give details about after that which would apply directly to this question, they needed to do something else with her. (Other than have her in pain whenever a new alien came around and saying, "I sense something...") And they also needed to emphasize her role as a counselor and not just an away team member. While I don't have proof for this, it seems that having her in more casual clothes (or perhaps a casual uniform, a little like fatigues or something) would de-emphasize her role as an officer and emphasize her role as a guide and counselor, including with the civilians on the ship.

As to why she later put the uniform on in Chain of Command, well the new Captain was rather a by-the-book person and insisted on it.

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    She kept wearing the uniform after "Chain of Command", though. I think the new captain made her think about her wardrobe choices, and that on a ship where everyone's in uniform, her not wearing one makes her appear different and might make her patients feel uncomfortable. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 14:21

Can I suggest another approach?

When I start at a new job I dress in a certain way.

  • A blouse (No T-shirts)
  • Nice pants (No torn jeans)
  • Shoes (No flip-flops)

Then, I'd experiment with the dress code of the place until I get to something I'm comfortable with.
One day I'd come in with nice sandals, the next with a fitted T-shirt and so on....

If anyone ever mentioned anything (let alone the captain...) I'd immediately revert back to the original code.

I think all the answers here are out of universe while regular human behavior is a good enough explanation as is :)


Simple explanation,

In the trek universe, and specifically it's allowed in Starfleet at the captain's discretion for the Counselor to dress in alternative attire. Outside of the universe it is quite possible that the change from casual to uniform clothing was because the jump suit might have been as uncomfortable for Marina as the season 1 uniforms were for the other cast. As for encounter at farpoint? She had just signed on to a new ship, it was probably proper work ethic to arrive in uniform.

As for the other comment regarding de-emphasizing her role including the civilians? I disagree, I think the casual clothing would make a counselor more approachable rather than someone in a uniform, people would probably feel more natural and free to be candid.

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    Hi and welcome to scifi.StackeExchange. Please avoid commentary on other posts in answers. Regarding your first paragraph, as it currently stands it seems like pure conjecture. Please try to back up your claims with appropriate references in order to make your answer(s) more useful to others.
    – bitmask
    Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 2:02

As for the choice of starting her off in no uniform in the first episode of season 1 and then her eventually wearing one, according to her in an interview it has an out of universe explanation due in part because her weight made the uniform look unattractive and she later lost weight. http://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/star-trek-tng-michael-dorn-and-marina-sirtis-friendship-quiz?s=mobile

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    +1 regrettably this is actually true, unless Marina Sirtis was joking. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 8:49

Although not an offical Trekkie, I do like the series. I do believe that after the Chain of Command episode, Cons. Tori kept the Starfleet uniform on to increase her responsiblities of going on more away missions and to increase her chances of getting command opporutunities. I remember her wanting to command the Enterprise during the 3rd shift for experience but she wasn't sure if she could handle to responsiblity. That's when Commander Riker reasurred her that she could do the job. Sorry I just can't remember the episode that the change in her career path took place.


I don't think Troi's purplish-grey pantsuit in Encounter at Farpoint is a uniform, because no-one else is wearing anything similar. I'd suggest it as the TNG-era equivalent of civilian business wear. So, why is she not in uniform (except when she is)?

The characters of Troi and Riker were derived from the characters of Ilia and Will Decker of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Ilia and Decker were considered as characters to appear in the Star Trek: Phase II series which as we all know, didn't happen, and might have been problematic because of their manner of departure at the end of TMP. All this is to point out that Troi stands apart from the rest of the crew is some respects.

Anyway... apart from the initial writing difficulties for Troi's character, consider that she is more like a civilian attached to the ship for her professional specialty (counsellor) than a full operational crew member... note that she is addressed as "Counsellor", not by some service rank e.g. Lieutenant. Crusher has a service rank but is addressed as Doctor in recognition of the advanced medical qualification over and above her Starfleet commission; "counsellor" isn't really on the same level, so it wouldn't be recognized over a commissioned rank (if she had one). So... Troi doesn't turn out in uniform (initially) because she is not really commissioned Starfleet. She turns out in uniform later because she seems to have acquired a commission (she goes up for command qualification at one point), and the variations in her duty attire seem (in-universe) to have more to do with mood than protocol.


This was the Pilot episode, meant to establish whether or not the series would be a success to win over audience. Personal parameters were not yet established, so Troi who is in Starfleet, would wear a uniform. Most likely, this uniform was used because they were the only uniforms available at the time of filming - the "Skant" uniform, which is unisex and could be worn by anyone.

Both men and women wearing the Starfleet "skant" uniform, resembling a very short dress

In the series: Per captains' discretion, the uniform code was adapted to permit certain cultural and religious apparel, such as Worf's baldric, Ro Laren's earring, et). Troi, being ship's counselor, whose job it was to get crew members to open up personally about their feelings, would not do well in the basic service uniform. A more relaxed on-duty outfit was permitted.

In reality, Troi's low-cut outfits were a throwback to the costumes of the original series.

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