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Geordi La Forge

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Geordi La Forge

Geordi La Forge
Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge
Species Human
Born February 16th, 2335, Mogadishu, Somalia, African Confederation, Earth[1]
Affiliation United Federation of Planets
Posting USS Enterprise-E
USS Enterprise-D
(Seasons 1-7, GEN)
Position Chief Engineer
(USS Enterprise-E,
USS Enterprise-D - Seasons 2-7, Movies)

(USS Enterprise-D - Season 1)
Rank Lieutenant Commander
(Seasons 3-7, Movies)
(Season 2)
Lieutenant, Junior Grade
(Season 1)
Father Edward La Forge
Mother Silva La Forge
(missing in action)
Portrayed by LeVar Burton
First appearance "Encounter at Farpoint" (TNG)

Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge is a VISOR in the series and the first film, replaced by ocular prosthetic implants in the last three films.


  • Concept and development 1
  • VISOR 2
    • In universe 2.1
    • Reality 2.2
  • Appearances 3
    • Alternate time lines 3.1
  • Reception 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Concept and development

Lt. (J.G.) Geordi La Forge
An away-mission regular who is racially black and birth-defect blind – although with prosthetic super-high tech artificial "eyes" which can detect electromagnetic waves from all the way from raw heat to high frequency ultra-violet, making other crewpersons seem hopelessly "blind" by comparison. His closest friend is Data, and the two of them are particularly efficient when working together on away missions. Because of his "eyes", Geordi can also perform some of the functions of a tricorder.


Jamaican accent" and instructed those agencies not to submit "any 'street' types".[4]

LeVar Burton auditioned for the role in 1986.[4] He had previously appeared in Roots and other major network shows. He stated that "years ago I was doing a TV movie called Emergency Room and it was a fairly miserable experience. But there was a producer on that show, a man named Bob Justman.... six, seven years later, I get this call from Bob Justman and he’s working at Paramount on this new Star Trek series and he said I remember your love of the show, we’ve got this character, would you be interested in coming in and seeing us? And I said was [franchise creator] Gene [Roddenberry] involved? He said he is. And I said I’ll be right there."[5] Roddenberry was very pleased with Burton at his first audition.[6]

Burton also commented that he was anxious about his role, because he feared that ST:TNG was going to flop: "At the beginning, you know, there was a lot of conversation in the press at what a bad idea this was [but] I thought that since Gene was involved we had a real good shot of making a good show that would carry on in that tradition of Star Trek."[5]

Throughout the series, Burton was equipped with Geordi La Forge's trademark VISOR, which he found extremely unpleasant to wear: "It’s pretty much a living hell... 85 to 90 per cent of my vision is taken away when the VISOR goes on... I bumped into everything the first season – Light stands, overhead microphones, cables at my feet – I tripped over it all... So it’s a sort of conundrum – the blind man, who puts on the VISOR and sees much more than everyone else around him, when the actor actually does that he’s turned into a blind person. Then there was the pain. In the second season, we re-designed the VISOR and made it heavier and the way we actually affixed it was that we screwed it, we literally screwed it into my head and so there were screws that we would turn and there were flanges on the inside that would press into my temples and so after fifteen or twenty minutes of that I got headaches. So I had a daily headache for about six years. Which was also no fun."[7]

During the series, Burton's character was Chief Engineering Officer, and thus was often portrayed repairing machines or discovering new scientific phenomena. Burton commented how hard it sometimes was to straight-facedly deliver the [8]

Asked about his favorite scenes, Burton answered that he especially liked holodeck adventures: "The Holmes and Watson episodes for Data and Geordi, the Robin Hood episode, you know, those were a lot of fun for us. I think the holodeck was a very cool concept, you know. You can create a three dimensional reality ... I mean, how cool is that?"[9]

Following the end of the series, Burton has stated how much he profited from The Next Generation; "When I got married my best man was Brent (Spiner, who portrayed the ST:TNG character Lieutenant Commander Data) and my groomsmen were Michael (Dorn, Lieutenant Worf) and Jonathan (Frakes, Commander Riker) and Patrick (Stewart, Captain Picard). No matter what, we will always be family to each other. I mean in every respect. There have been times when, there have been feuds within the family, when it hasn’t been all hugs and kisses. But we have stuck together."[10]


In universe

La Forge's ocular implants from Star Trek: First Contact

In the Star Trek: Nemesis During the Ba'ku incident, La Forge began to experience pain in his eyes after sojourning on the planet. Doctor Crusher removes his ocular implants to discover that his

In 2372, Geordi is transferred to the new Sovereign class starship Enterprise-E. When the ship travels back in time to the 21st century, he works alongside Dr. Zefram Cochrane and helps him successfully launch Earth's first warp-capable vessel and achieve first contact with the Vulcans (Star Trek: First Contact).

La Forge once impressed Captain Jean-Luc Picard by staying up all night to fix a shuttle craft that Picard mentioned had a superficial problem. Upon learning this, Picard decided he wanted Geordi on his next command ("TNG": "The Next Phase") which ended up being the Enterprise-D where Geordi was assigned to him as a helmsman. At the beginning of Season 2, he was promoted to Lieutenant and named Chief Engineer; in Season 3, he rose to Lieutenant Commander, a rank that he held for the duration of the series and movies.

La Forge was born February 16, 2335 in the African Confederation on army brat", frequently moving homes depending on where his parents were stationed around Earth (or other planets). He attended Zefram Cochrane High School (Star Trek: First Contact) and then Starfleet Academy from 2353 to 2357 (TNG: "Conundrum"). In 2357, he was assigned as an ensign aboard the USS Victory under Captain Zimbata (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data"). After his first cruise, he was transferred to the USS Hood serving with then Lt. Commander William Riker for her 2361-64 cruise, during which he was promoted to lieutenant junior grade (TNG: "Conundrum").

In the series, we learn that Geordi was born prosthetic attached at the temples that provides him with vision. Interfacing directly with his brain, the device enables him to "see" much of the electromagnetic spectrumradio waves, infrared, ultraviolet, and beyond, but not normal light perception, though it does allow Geordi to see the visible light section of the EM spectrum.


LeVar Burton, who played the character of Geordi La Forge, disliked the VISOR prop because it restricted his peripheral vision – albeit less than its prototypes – and the constant pressure of the prop's arms on his temples caused headaches. In commentary for Star Trek Generations, film writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga noted Burton also felt the prop limited him as an actor, as it denied him the use of his eyes in conveying emotion. The original prop was inspired by a one-piece women's hair clip brought to production by Michael Okuda during the initial conceptual development of the VISOR prop.

On August 14, 2012, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published an article stating the code which the retina uses to send signals to the brain has been cracked, and scientists have successfully restored full vision to blind mice. Scientists were able to mimic this ocular response using glasses, and speculate that a similar pair of glasses may be available for human use within two years.[20]

Several types of visual prosthesis are in development or trials in humans, and one device has been approved for sale in the European market. As of 2006, 16 blind people worldwide have had sight partially restored in a procedure where electrodes implanted in their brains take impulses from a camera to allow patients to see lights and outlines of objects.[19] There is a device developed by NASA called a Joint Optical Reflective Display, or JORDY, that is presumably named for Geordi La Forge.

New Scientist magazine reported on research as to whether a device similar to a VISOR can actually be created for blind or visually impaired people. Partial sight has been successfully restored to blind rats by installing an implant behind the retina.[18]


There was a short time period in Star Trek: Insurrection where Geordi regained his actual sight, due to the effects of fictional metaphasic radiation, in the atmosphere of the planet Ba'ku. However, the effects of the metaphasic radiation wore off after leaving the planet, and the cybernetic eyes were once again used in the film Star Trek Nemesis.

Sometime between 2371 and 2373, before the time of the film Star Trek: First Contact, the VISOR was replaced by cybernetic eyes, performing the same functions. On film, they are depicted using a combination of cosmetic contact lenses and CGI.

Twice in the series, Geordi refused to be granted natural vision, first by Commander Riker who had been given extraordinary amounts of power by Q, because it would have come at the cost of Riker's humanity,[16] and later by Doctor Katherine Pulaski.[17]

The device does not reproduce normal human vision, but does allow the character to "see" energy phenomena visible to the naked human eye while expanding the wearer's full perceived spectrum to 1 Hz — 100 PHz. This also allowed the character to see human vital signs such as heart rate and temperature, giving him the ability to monitor moods and even detect lies in humans (but not aliens).[15] In the episode "Heart of Glory", Captain Picard keys the main viewer to Geordi's visor allowing him to see the way he does. Seeing all the overlapping and different wavelengths was highly confusing to the Captain, prompting him to ask Geordi how he was able to differentiate between them all. Geordi's response made the comparison of a child hearing many different sounds at once and eventually being able to pick out what they needed; it is a learned talent.

The VISOR also caused him persistent pain, which could not be treated without interfering with the device.[11] Beverly Crusher and Katherine Pulaski, the two high-ranking doctors who served on the ship, were unfamiliar with the device when first meeting LaForge.

though the complete term appeared only in novelizations and other written tie-in products, and never in the series. [14]eplacement",Rrgan Oensory Snstrument and Iisual V for "backronym VISOR is a [13].

During the events of the comic book mini-series Star Trek: Countdown (which serves as the official prequel to the 2009 Star Trek film), Geordi (now a civilian) is reunited with Data and Picard during an effort to stop a massive supernova that threatens all of existence. Geordi ultimately designs the Jellyfish, the advanced spacecraft that is piloted by Ambassador Spock in the film.[21]

Alternate time lines

In the alternate timeline of TNG series finale "Leah Brahms and had three children (Alandra, Brett, and Sydney) with her. He had left Starfleet and became a novelist. However, these events may never happen because of the divergence of the time line at the episode's end.

In the alternate 2390 future in Future Imperfect", a fictitious La Forge had cloned eye implants and had no need of his visor.


Critics and fans have responded favorably to the character. Burton himself has complained on DVD featurettes about the lack of romantic interests for his character. At least one scholar, however, decries that out of seven principal black characters across the Star Trek series, only La Forge and Afrofuturism.[22]

In David Greven's book Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek (2009), he described the use of the VISOR as a means to obscure the face of the character, describing it as a "surprisingly clunky symbol of blindness". However, he felt that the bionic eyes used in the film series were an improvement but followed a pattern of African American eye modifications in fantasy and science fiction films such as Halle Berry as Storm in X-Men (2000). Greven suggested that these changes were to create the impression that the wearer was alien in nature and to highlight the difference between that character/actor and the others in the film.[23]

See also


  1. ^ La Forge's medical record seen in the Season 5 episode "Cause and Effect" simply stated that he was born in the "African Confederation". The remastered version of the episode, released two decades later, changed the record's text to clarify that his birthplace was "Mogadishu, Somalia, African Confederation, Earth".
  2. ^ Roddenberry (1987): p. 7
  3. ^ Nemecek (2003): p. 15
  4. ^ a b Shrager (1997): p. 75
  5. ^ a b "Interviews | LeVar Burton | Auditioning for Geordi". BBC Cult. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  6. ^ Schrager (1997). p. 76
  7. ^ "Interviews | LeVar Burton | VISOR Pain". BBC Cult. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Interviews | LeVar Burton | Technobabble". BBC Cult. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Interviews | LeVar Burton | The Acting of Science". BBC Cult. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Interviews | LeVar Burton | A Friendly Crew". BBC Cult. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Encounter at Farpoint". Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2. September 28, 1987
  12. ^ "The Masterpiece Society". Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 5, Episode 13. February 10, 1992
  13. ^ "The Enemy". Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, Episode 7. November 6, 1989
  14. ^  
  15. ^ "Up the Long Ladder". Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, Episode 18. May 22, 1989
  16. ^ "Hide and Q". Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 1, Episode 10. November 23, 1987
  17. ^ "Loud as a Whisper". Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 2, Episode 5. January 9, 1989
  18. ^ Bionic eye' may help reverse blindness"'".  
  19. ^ "New device allows woman to see, even without eyes". News 14 Carolina. March 31, 2008. Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  20. ^ Smialek, Geanna (August 14, 2012). "Blind Mice Given Sight After Device Cracks Retinal Code".  
  21. ^ Star Trek: Countdown #3–4
  22. ^ Eglash, Ron (Summer 2002). "Race, Sex and Nerds: from Black Geeks to Asian-American Hipsters". Social Text 20 (2): 49–64.  
  23. ^ Greven (2009): p. 100


  • Greven, David (2009). Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.  
  • Gross, Edward; Altman, Mark A. (1995). Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages. Boston: Little Brown & Co.  
  • Nemecek, Larry (2003). Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (3rd ed.). New York: Pocket Books.  
  • Reeves-Stevens, Judith; Reeves-Stevens, Judith (1998). Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission (2nd ed.). New York: Pocket Books.  
  • Roddenberry, Gene (1987). Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer/Director's Guide (PDF). Hollywood, CA:  
  • Shrager, Adam (1997). The Finest Crew In The Fleet: The Next Generation Cast On Screen And Off. New York: Wolf Valley Books.  

External links

  • Geordi La Forge at the official Star Trek website
  • Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
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