Published Feb 16, 2023
5 Times Geordi La Forge Embodied Star Trek's Hopeful Future
Celebrate the Enterprise-D's chief engineer with these five standout moments!
By Erin Nyren
Geordi La Forge has long been a fan favorite in the Star Trek universe, known not only for his friendship with Data, but for his own strength of character and ability to showcase the humanity that Star Trek celebrates.
In honor of LeVar Burton, we rounded up five of the best Geordi La Forge moments from across the Star Trek universe, especially Star Trek: The Next Generation. Let’s look back at some of the reasons why we love Geordi and all the ways that he’s exemplified everything Star Trek is about.
After Geordi is stranded on a dangerous planet during an away mission, he’s forced to work with a Romulan who’s also marooned there. At first, the Romulan Bochra is hostile and treats Geordi as his prisoner. However, Geordi keeps a cool head and wins him over during a speech in which he asks Bochra whether keeping Geordi prisoner is really more important than the two of them finding safety. Together, they combine Geordi’s VISOR technology with a transponder and manage to get off the planet.
At this point in the Star Trek timeline, Romulans and Starfleet were far from friends. But nevertheless, Geordi embodied Starfleet values and managed to set that negative history aside to achieve a common goal. This episode also produced the iconic Geordi quote, “I never lie when I’ve got sand in my boots, commodore.”
In this iconic episode, Geordi shares a moment with Picard that hints at the future changes in the perception of the Borg within the Star Trek universe. When the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise encounters an injured drone, Geordi names him Hugh rather than continuing to refer to him by his Borg designation.
After Geordi spends time studying Hugh, he begins to feel a level of sympathy for the Borg, heretofore unknown in the Federation. Captain Picard, still traumatized from his experience as Locutus, has difficulty seeing Geordi’s point of view despite the universe’s – and Picard’s – much later treatment of the Borg as beings that deserve sympathy.
"He's not what I expected, Captain,” Geordi says. “He's got feelings. He's homesick. I don't know. It just doesn't seem right using him this way."
The moment is a perfect example of Geordi’s humanity, and his compassion helps lead the rest of the crew, including Picard, to empathize with Hugh and seek to help him rather than use him as a pawn to destroy the Borg.
This Season 5 episode represents an excellent example of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the world, and his belief that every human life is valuable. When the Enterprise discovers that a planet in the pathway of a stellar core fragment is actually home to a small colony of humans, the crew gets in touch to warn them and recommends evacuating the colony. The colony, however, uses genetic engineering to ensure that every person born there is “perfect” (read: has no disabilities or genetic disease) and with a specific set of skills. As a result, the colony exists in a very fine balance that would be interrupted if anyone left.
In the end, Geordi works with Hannah Bates, a theoretical physicist from the colony, to move the fragment away from the planet. The plan utilizes the same technology that makes his VISOR work, thus allowing the colony to continue. He points out that without him using an accessibility device - his VISOR - they wouldn’t have been able to save the planet.
“Who gave them [the founders] the right to decide whether or not I should be here?” he asks her. “Whether or not I might have something to contribute?”
When a transporter malfunction causes Geordi and Ensign Ro to re-materialize on the Enterprise-D minus the ability for anyone else to see them and with the added ability to pass through solid objects, Ro quickly concludes that they both died. Geordi isn’t so sure, however.
“But my uniform? My VISOR? Are you saying I’m some blind ghost with clothes?” Geordi asks incredulously.
Not one to give in to superstition, Geordi does some investigating and figures out that rather than killed, they “phased” into a different state of existence due to some experimental Romulan technology.
Mostly through Geordi’s ingenuity, the pair are able to devise a way to get Data to understand what’s happened, and eventually are fully re-materialized – and at their own memorial ceremony, no less. It’s only due to Geordi’s persistence and faith in the power of science that Ro and Geordi are able to regain their corporeal selves.
Star Trek IX: Insurrection
In Star Trek IX: Insurrection, the crew of the Enterprise find themselves on a planet that fosters cellular regeneration in its inhabitants. This allows Geordi’s eyes to repair themselves, and he chooses to watch the sun rise knowing that it may not be a permanent fix.
“You know, I’ve never seen a sunrise,” he tells Picard after the captain joins him. “At least, not the way you do.”
While it was brief, LeVar Burton brought all his acting chops to this moment, perfectly expressing how much it would mean to Geordi to be able to see something like the sunrise with his own eyes. With all that Geordi has contributed to the Enterprise and to Star Trek overall, seeing him get to have a moment for himself was a highlight of the film, and a high point for fans.
The Heart Of the Enterprise: Geordi La Forge
This article was originally published on July 26, 2021.
Erin Nyren (she/her) is a digital editor for Paramount+. She's a Data fangirl who can't wait for more Star Trek: Picard, and lives in awe of the Star Trek actresses who had to wear one-piece uniforms.