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A Guide to the Different Uniform Colors the Characters Wear in ‘Star Trek’

I don't think I want a red shirt.

star trek tng

Star Trek: The Original Series premiered in 1966. And in the year 2022, the franchise doesn’t seem to be slowing down soon. Currently, there are several ongoing television series with a new film and series recently announced.

I was a toddler when Star Trek: The Next Generation came out in 1987, making Picard’s Enterprise crew one of my earliest memories. I still love the series (as I sip out of my Chateau Picard wine tumbler). But the meaning of their uniform shirts eluded me for the longest time. Honestly, I thought you just picked your favorite color outfit when you joined a crew. After the “redshirt” trope (where a redshirt team member was more likely to die on a Star Trek away mission) became known, I thought there might be more to it. Apparently, there is a whole color-coded system in place. And the meaning of the colors changed slightly through the various shows.

The Original Series

For the original Star Trek series and the Enterprise prequel that came later, the uniform color breakdowns are:

Red – Engineering, Security, and Communications

Blue – Science and Medical Staff

Gold – Command Staff

Green – Command Staff Formal

The original series is where the redshirt trope comes from. It always seemed like if a random character in a red shirt went on an away mission, then they were not making it back to the ship. The largest group of people wore red uniform shirts, which would make it more likely that a person who died or got injured would have a red shirt on.

The Next Generation

When The Next Generation arrived, the series changed several things from the original, including the uniform colors:

Red – Command Staff

Blue – Science and Medical Staff

Gold – Operations and Security Staff

TNG, more so than the original series, set the template for most future shows. Even though the uniform styles changed, the color classifications stayed the same in Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Discovery, Picard, and the animated show Below Decks.

However, every season contained at least one character who wore their own take on the uniform that did not line up with the standard Starfleet look. Examples being: Deanna Troi from TNG (to relate to her patients better), Odo and Kira Nerys from Deep Space Nine (because of their connection to the Bajoran military), and Seven of Nine in Voyager (because of her cyborg physiology).

Now that we are clear on which uniform color means what, which color would you pick?

(feature image: Paramount)

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D.R. Medlen is secretly a selkie that will one day return to the sea. In the meantime, she spends her days fangirling over anything from comic books to folklore podcasts, and everything in between. She lives that hobbitcore life while teaching her offspring the ways of the nerd.