The friendship between Geordi La Forge and Data continued to blossom and grow stronger over the course of their tenures aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise-D and U.S.S. Enterprise-E, as the only event able to sever their bond was Data’s untimely death during Shinzon’s attack in Star Trek Nemesis. Despite the tragic conclusion, the duo enjoyed a wealth of interesting adventures, ranging from perilous missions and tense situations to humorous moments and displays of camaraderie, throughout the years. Let’s reminisce on the time the pair shared with one another and choose some standout memories that the two created during their voyage through the stars.
Okay, this selection is probably the most unexpected one on our list. Needing to ascertain the mysterious manufacturer of a phaser rifle crafted to resemble one issued by Starfleet, La Forge and Data opted to run some tests on the weapon’s energy output in engineering. While there was surely a logical in-universe reason for this decision, the juxtaposition of the experienced officers firing a phaser of unknown origin right next to the Enterprise-D’s warp core proved to be a sight that was simultaneously hilarious and worrisome. Fortunately, the pair managed to get to the bottom of the problem without causing a catastrophic breach.
Summoned by Data, La Forge and Counselor Troi entered the android’s quarters to find the ship’s science officer sporting a full beard. The genuine shock experienced by the audience over seeing Data’s new look — coupled with La Forge and Troi’s stunned-yet-amused reactions — made this moment one for the history books. Although Troi exited swiftly, Geordi remained behind so that he could attempt to better explain why the situation had elicited those mixed reactions to the android. While brief, this interaction exemplified La Forge’s constant struggle between being supportive of Data’s quest to become more human and being honest when his friend took that endeavor too far.
Hoping to learn more about the benefits of pet ownership, La Forge borrowed Spot and enlisted Data’s cat as a temporary roommate. During the cohabitation, Spot’s raucous behavior rattled the chief engineer and shattered his level-headed composure. Data arrived to find an angry La Forge on the hunt for the troublesome feline, which led to a discussion about the merits of investing time to train the cat. Later in the episode, the duo continued this conversation while crawling through a Jefferies tube in an effort to repair the starship’s sensors. The frank and funny conversation provided a glimpse into a typical day for the two friends, who expertly balanced their Starfleet duties with opportunities to chat and learn from each other.
Assigned to ascertain the stability of the Barzan wormhole by Captain Picard, La Forge and Data piloted a shuttlecraft through the aperture to become Starfleet’s first official visitors to the Delta Quadrant. In addition to the historic nature of their journey, the officers shared an inadvertently touching moment prior to their departure. As Geordi expressed concern over being trapped in the shuttle for eternity, Data innocently tried to soothe his friend’s worries by assuring him that he would have the android to keep him company. The wormhole turned out to be a bust, but La Forge and Data safely returned home before the subspace tunnel could strand them on the other side of the galaxy.
Following the tragic news that the U.S.S. Hera, the vessel captained by Geordi’s mother, was missing and presumed destroyed, La Forge became convinced that his mom and her crew were actually stranded in the depths of a nearby gas giant. Despite evidence to the contrary, La Forge disobeyed Picard’s orders and planned to utilize an experimental interface unit to remotely guide a probe and hunt for the Hera. Data anticipated his friend’s decision, but he chose to go against his own judgment, attempting to ensure the engineer’s well-being. Geordi never found his mother, but Data’s steadfast allegiance showed him that certain friendships are just as resolute as familial connections.
Perplexed by Dr. Crusher’s ire over a practical joke he played on the holodeck, Data returned to his quarters and confided in Geordi that he wished to install the emotion chip that had been recovered from his brother Lore. The discussion demonstrated Data’s trust in La Forge, both as a valued friend and an excellent engineer. Not only did the android express his innermost thoughts about becoming more human to Geordi, but he also relied upon his friend to perform the procedure that would activate the chip. La Forge served as both comrade and colleague, as well as someone who Data consulted for vital advice about his future.
When Data’s emotion chip began to malfunction aboard the Amargosa Observatory, the android found himself too frightened to rescue La Forge from Soran’s clutches. Geordi’s capture left Data wracked with guilt and eager to deactivate the chip. The android even offered himself to the Duras sisters in exchange for La Forge’s return, though ultimately they requested Picard instead. Once safely back on the Enterprise, La Forge was quick to absolve Data of any blame for what occurred. The engineer simply comforted his friend by telling him that, while he wasn’t behaving like himself, he was certainly behaving more human. The pair’s ability to reconcile so easily highlighted the sturdiness of their bond.
While assessing Data’s newly found brother B-4, the android and La Forge once again showcased their close relationship as they theorized about B-4’s potential for sentience. Sadly, this turned out to be one of the pair’s final conversations. With Picard aboard the Reman flagship Scimitar, Data elected to back up his captain and recruited La Forge to assist him in leaping across the void to infiltrate the enemy vessel. On the surface, the unspoken goodbye seemed to be a mismatch for their lengthy friendship. However, considering there was so much on the line, it began to make sense that the two would be able to bid farewell without a word.
With La Forge, Picard, and Troi all imprisoned by Lore, the devious android manipulated his brother Data’s emotional programming and used him against his shipmates. In the ultimate test for any friendship, Data prepared Geordi to undergo a dangerous procedure that held a high mortality risk. The engineer sought to remind the android of who he truly was by detailing a fond sailing trip that the two experienced, an effort that caused Data to delay the experiment and reconsider his position. Once back to his old self, Data informed La Forge that he must avoid utilizing the emotion chip that his father had built. As a true friend, Geordi replied that he wouldn’t let Data give up on his life-long dream of becoming more human.
In perhaps their most iconic adventure, Data and La Forge assumed the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in a new holodeck program. The ship’s chief engineer inadvertently ordered the computer to craft a foe who could defeat Data, thus bringing a sentient James Moriarty hologram to life. While the episode is primarily remembered for the pair’s pursuit of elusive clues and their dealings with Moriarty, Geordi’s defense of Data’s deductive reasoning in the face of Dr. Pulaski’s doubts about the science officer’s capabilities stands as yet another excellent example of his faith in his android friend.
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer who has contributed articles to the official Star Trek website and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and the official Star Wars website. Jay also serves as a part-time assistant and consultant advising many actors and creatives who work on his favorite sci-fi shows and films. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.