The First Duty

The First Duty
"The First Duty"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
ST-TNG The First Duty.jpg
Cadet Wesley Crusher testifies at an accident inquiry.
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 19
Directed by Paul Lynch
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Naren Shankar
Featured music Jay Chattaway
Production code 219
Original air date March 30, 1992 (1992-03-30)
Guest stars
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

"The First Duty" is the 119th episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the 19th episode of the show's fifth season. The episode has an average rating of 4.5/5 on the official Star Trek website (as of November 2, 2007).[1]


In this episode, while visiting Starfleet Cadet Wesley Crusher at Starfleet Academy, the crew of the Federation Starfleet starship USS Enterprise learn of an accident that claimed the life of a cadet.


The Enterprise returns to Earth, where Captain Picard is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Starfleet Academy's graduation ceremony. However, the crew comes to learn of an accident during flight training that has injured Wesley Crusher, and caused the death of another squad member, Joshua Albert. Picard, concerned, orders his crew to investigate the accident, and discovers evidence that Wesley's squad were attempting to perform a banned maneuver called the "Kolvoord Starburst". Picard accosts Wesley and demands to know the truth, but Wesley refuses to answer him. Picard reminds him of his Starfleet duty.

Wesley is torn between telling the truth and the demands of his squad leader, Locarno, who insists that he state the accident was Joshua's fault. Locarno attempts to coerce Wesley into keeping with the lie, making Wesley question his friendship at odds with his role and duty as a Star Fleet Officer.

At the tribunal, Wesley is driven by Picard's trust in him, and the emotions of Joshua's father. The Admiral decides, in the absence of conclusive proof of any further wrongdoing (aside from rendering and incorrect flight plan, and allowing a squad member to fly unprepared) to take away the squad's flight privileges and issue formal reprimands, just as Wes subsequently reveals the truth at the last moment. Locarno, realizing he cannot hide it any longer, admits that he instigated the lie and made the rest of the squad cover up his actions. Locarno is expelled from the Academy while Wesley and the rest of the squad lose the past years' academic credits. Wesley is crushed but Picard encourages him that the immediate future will be difficult, but he will eventually regain the trust of his classmates.

Future character appearances

The minor character Sito Jaxa would later appear significantly in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks", where it emerges that Picard requested her assignment to the Enterprise because he wanted to give her a fair chance to redeem herself.


The character of the Squadron leader, Nick Locarno, would lay the groundwork for the role of Tom Paris in Star Trek: Voyager. In fact, the same actor, Robert Duncan McNeill, plays both characters. It was originally intended for Nick Locarno to be a character on Voyager, but various outside issues (namely having to pay a royalty to "The First Duty" writers Ronald D. Moore and Naren Shankar for every episode of Voyager in which the character would appear) necessitated creating a different character, Tom Paris, whose background and personality were based in part on Locarno's.[citation needed] The props crew on Star Trek: Voyager would eventually place a framed headshot from McNeill's appearance as Locarno on Admiral Paris' desk as Tom Paris' Starfleet Academy graduation photo.


This episode was aired for the cadets of the United States Air Force Academy as an illustration of the institution's honor code.[citation needed]

See also

  • "Lower Decks", the seventh season episode prominently featuring then-Ensign Sito Jaxa.
  • Dump and Burn

External links

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