Star Trek: Which ranks represent the shirts of each color?


Throughout the years of the prosperity of the series and films about “Star Trek”, special attention has always been paid to the overall design of the franchise, which defines the genre of science fiction. Gene Roddenberry, the show’s creator, even had a specific set of design rules for how Federation ships were supposed to look, ensuring that they would be instantly recognizable as Federation at a glance. The importance of recognizable themes remained high, from the rather logical design of warp and transporter technology to what is potentially the most important visual aspect of the show: costumes.

Although various changes have been made over the years (though not as drastic as changing the Klingons’ appearance), Starfleet uniforms remain quite similar. In the expedition of the “Original Series”, the colors used by the officers remained fairly unchanged, each representing their work on board the ship. So, what exactly do these colors mean?


One of the most recognizable for everyone who is far from the eternal joke from “Star Trek” about poor officers dressed in red. However, the idea that wearing a red shirt in a franchise is a death sentence is not only a myth, but also something that changed dramatically after the official color changes took place at the beginning of the “Next Generation”. In The Original Series, the red uniform was most often used on board the ship, and it was worn by engineers, security and communications services. The most famous characters in red were chief engineer Scotty and the innovative Uhura (played by the late Nichelle Nichols).

After the uniform change made to TNG, the red color value has changed. It was now reserved for the commanding staff, including captains such as Picard, Janeway, and the morally dubious Sisko, as well as high-ranking officers such as Commander Riker, who was the deputy commander during the PNP. This change was present prior to the Kelvin timeline films and the later Strange New Worlds series, which both reverted to the color designations of the original series due to the coincidence of their timelines.


The blue color of the uniform was the only designation that did not change after the great uniform change of 1987 (when the pilot episode of TNG came out). The blue uniform was intended for scientific and medical personnel. It was worn by officers such as the incredibly iconic Lieutenant Spock from the original series, the ship’s scientist, as well as the early Dr. Julian Bashir aboard the space station in Deep Space 9, although it was later changed to green.


Gold or yellow, depending on the desired splendor, was the color of the commanders during the “Original Series”, as well as “Strange New Worlds” and films about the Kelvin timeline. Kirk was best known for wearing this bright yellow uniform, which actually, due to the limitations of the late ’60s for color film, was slightly green in real life. This happened because the yellow color was poorly recorded, so the yellow-green had to be made and worn to make it look golden yellow on the screen. Gold was also reserved only for the captain on board the ship, and not for those who held command positions. This explains why Kirk wore gold, but Spock, his second-in-command, did not.

The yellow-gold then moved during TNG and beyond to represent operations and security personnel as well as spawn. The disabled positive representing Geordie Laforge is best known for wearing this color at that time, being the main beginning of engineering.


The uniform, which was actually supposed to be green, not greenish-yellow, rarely appeared in The Original Series and was the official dress of the command staff. Kirk has been seen in this color several times. During TNG, the green color was replaced by a longer red robe-like uniform that Picard often wore. Green also replaced some medical workers during the Voyager and DS9 series, characters such as a holographic doctor dressed in a green jungle uniform. This change, despite being quite obvious to some, often goes unnoticed by ordinary fans, as it is much less dramatic than switching red and gold colors.

There are many other variations of the classic Starfleet uniform, which has undergone many iterations over the years. They range from the bright uniforms from the original series and the early days of TNG to the dimmer, slightly darker variations of TNG films and the much tougher DS9. However, they always kept a small color spot to help viewers immediately understand what the role of this character is on board the ship. Even the Enterprise, which took place before the Federation was founded, used color as a visual indicator of the role, very subtly following the color coding of the original series, with small colored rectangles on the shoulders on their otherwise fairly simple and similar uniforms.


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