Admiral Janeway

Something has always bothered me about Admiral Janeway seen in Star Trek: Nemesis.  (I saw something online a few minutes ago that brought this subject to mind)  In 2278, when Voyager returned home, she was a Captain.  A year later, in 2379, she was an Admiral.  No biggie there, she obviously got promoted between the end of Voyager and that movie.  However, her rank in Nemesis makes no sense.  I’m going to use this chart from the old Star Trek Encyclopedia to illustrate what I mean.  (thanks to Bernd Schneider and his site Ex Astris Scientia for the chart)


Looking at the chart, you can see there are five ranks of Admiral, just as there are in most Navies, Admiral one through five stars.  In the current US Navy, those are Rear Admiral Lower Half, Rear Admiral Upper Half, Vice Admiral, Admiral and Fleet Admiral.  Looking at this image from Star Trek: Nemesis, you can see Janeway with 3 pips inside a rectangle on her collar.  (Thanks to Memory Alpha for this image)


That rank insignia makes Janeway a 3-star Admiral, aka Vice Admiral, in 2379.  So, in the span of a year, (or so) she would have to have been promoted three times, or would had to have skipped the two Rear Admiral ranks entirely.  This makes absolutely no sense.  I can get the whole thing where she returned from the Delta Quadrant, saving her crew and providing valuable information on both that region and on new propulsion technologies, so she was promoted.  But, skip two entire ranks?  That’s just ludicrous.  For one thing, for all the good she did on Voyager, she did some questionable things too.  Granted, nothing worse than any other Starfleet Captain has done on the shows, but certainly a few iffy things.  Still, there was nothing I could see that would stop her from getting a promotion, but to a more appropriate rank of Rear Admiral Lower Half.  (formerly known as Commodore)

Stuff like this is just what irks me about Star Trek at times.  Of course, I know what they did.  The script called for Janeway to be an Admiral, so they made her an Admiral using whatever rank insignia they had on hand.  They didn’t care that the insignia they gave her promoted her way too fast, they just did it to make their film.

13 responses to “Admiral Janeway

    • It’s the military mind in me. I know people usually don’t get promoted like that. Of course, there have been exceptions, like war times. I was on Brigade Staff Duty talking to this retired Sgt. Major one time who served in WW2. He said, back then, you could make Sergeant in a matter of months if you had some proficiency in your job. But, that was a special case where people were dying right and left in one of the worst wars in history. Under normal circumstances, there’s no good reason for someone to spontaneously skip ranks, such as going from Captain to Vice Admiral, seemingly skipping ranks, or going from Cadet to Captain. It’s just bad writing, or possibly just bad costuming on the part of the Nemesis crew.

  1. That’s because Nemesis was directed by Stuart Baird, someone who was not familiar with Star Trek (he had not seen a single clip of TNG!) and who specifically said he didn’t want the film to rest on past history of the Trek universe, but rather something that stands alone.

    And of course it was partly written by Rick Berman; Janeway was a sort of pet character to him and he always wrote her as this amazing hero in all the Voyager episodes he wrote. I’m convinced he would have put Janeway in there even if it violated continuity entirely.

    If the Trek universe made any sense, Janeway would have been arrested and put in jail for the exceedingly numerous crimes she committed in the Delta Quadrant. But I guess allying with the Borg, getting Species 116 assimilated, murdering Tuvix and violating the Prime Directive more times than I can count is no big deal as long as you get your crew home, right? Makes Equinox so ironic.

    • Well, directors aren’t really responsible for costumes or for keeping things in line with the other shows and films. He would have had people for that and I can assume someone simply didn’t want to go to the expense of casting a more appropriate rank insignia. If memory serves, we never saw an Admiral on TNG, DS9 or Voyager with less than 3 pips. So, they probably used what was at hand.

      Janeway getting promoted may or may not have been the best option, it all depends on your point of view. Many people thought Kirk should have been put before a court martial board for the multiple regulations he ignored in TWOK that led to so many deaths aboard the USS Enterprise. But, that’s not what the writers did. Janeway could have been in a lot of trouble, could have been simply asked to resign her commission once everything she did good was weighed with what she did bad, or she could have been promoted. It depends on who is writing. I always just assumed her presence in Nemesis was a “hey there” the Voyager fans. And, they had to make her an Admiral so that she could give Picard orders.

  2. Really…
    In J.J.’s Trek movie, a 3rd year cadet on academic suspension stows away aboard a starship. Then because he manages to help save earth, gets promoted to captain over hundreds (maybe thousands) of other officers (including Spock) and gets his own ship?
    It’s MOVIE logic. It doesn’t have to make sense.

    • I covered that in my reply to scifieric’s comment.

      And, why shouldn’t it make sense? Just because it’s a movie they should get a pass on making something at least partially believable? Many movies have been blasted by critics and viewers over the years for not being believable.

      • Sorry, sometimes sarcasm doesn’t come through in a typed message.
        YES, it absolutely SHOULD make sense, and that’s is why J.J.’s movies fail for me. He makes no attempt to have things make sense, the action is all that matters, the rest can be filled in later with whatever convoluted “logic” the “writers” can muster.

  3. Didn’t Kirk skip several Grades from Captain to Full Admiral in the 2 1/2 years between TOS and TMP? As far as NuTrek, I always just imagined that NuKirk was a 3rd year drop out, so 3 years later he would be Commission and in Graduate/Command school. At least that would make some sort of sense!

    • Kirk could have been a Rear Admiral Lower Half in TMP, which replaced Commodore in the US Navy and appears to in Trek as well, since we never saw any Commodores post TOS. (There were some in Enterprise, but that makes sense as that was pre TOS) He would still have been addressed simply as “Admiral” if he were. Kirk had 3 solid stripes close together and a fourth separate. For all we know, that’s the correct rank insignia under the system they used in TMP for Rear Admiral Lower Half. Since Admirals were never seen on TOS, it’s possible. Of course, Rear Admiral Lower Half in the US Navy replaced Commodore, so it would also be possible that it would use the same rank stripes if that were true in Starfleet as well, but then again maybe not. Since that rank insignia was seen in that movie alone and not in any other Star Trek on film, we can infer whatever we want.

      According to the book The Lost Years, Vice Admiral Ciana outranked him, suggesting that he was indeed a Rear Admiral. That is, of course, not canon, but it only makes sense. It’s also possible Starfleed did away with Rear Admiral entirely (not including Star Trek Online, which is iffy on its Trek correctness anyway) and entry level Admirals are simply called “Admiral” with other distinctions like Vice Admiral and Fleet Admiral being higher ranking officers.

      According to Memory Alpha, he is indeed a Rear Admiral, though I don’t know where they supposedly got that information. Their site usually only uses canon sources and Kirk’s full rank is never said in TMP. Though, it’s also possible that the person writing the article simply went with what made sense. After all, a grade reduction from Rear Admiral Lower Half to Captain would only be one step down, and would make a lot more sense than a higher ranking Admiral being reduced temporarily to Captain for one mission. (For his “punishment” in Star Trek IV, he likely went down several ranks, as happens in punitive military actions.)

  4. Little late to the party.
    Your right it unlikely that Janeway jumped two rank grades, thought normal promotions process.
    But it is likely that she did and here is why.
    You need to keep in mind that Janeway could have been on the fast track to being promotion to Admiral before being lost in the delta quadrant. (can’t remember if Voyager was her first command or second.) Either way, Voyager could have been a short command ie a year or two before being promoted to admiral. As she was a scientist first she would have been given something in this area, once promoted to Admiral. This would have taken a few years and if she was not lost in the Delta Quadrant she would have been Admiral by the time of Nemesis, but she would not be in a Command to send Picard off on a mission. Most likely she would have given of a few science station or even the whole of Starfleet R&D in the Sol System.

    With her being lost in the delta quadrant that went out the window and Starfleet would not promote her while she still far from home with no back up, once communications where restored.
    It makes little sense for her to be promoted as there would be no one to fill in the Captain spot on board Voyager. (If someone took her place then their role would have to be filled and so on. Given that Voyager had already lost a number of crew, the reaming crew had to do more than one job just to keep the ship running. It would mean with promotions going on people would have to do two to three jobs on-board.)

    Now with Voyager coming back home, she would have been given the promotion to Rear Admiral or even fast tracked straight to Admiral. Reason for this is that the whole Alfa and Beta Quadrant had just come out of the Dominion War. Starfleet took heavy losses in this war, the Dominion did make it to mid to inner core worlds of the Federation and even manage to attack Earth. (Granted the attack on Earth was with the help of the Breen who live in the Alfa and Beta Quadrant and home world is closer to Earth than the Cardasian Empire)
    With the number of loss of ships and life so high going by what we saw in DS9 I would say that at least half or more, of Starfleet manpower was lost in the war. This means Starfleet would have lots of positions to fill. Given Janeway and her crew experience from being lost in the delta Quadrant for seven years, those that stayed with Starfleet would have been promoted fast, to fill in these role, that need people with experience.
    It also likely that Janeway Command staff all got their own Command. This would mean that Ensign Harry Kim, jumped four ranks to be made Captain with his own ship as I stated he had the experience for the job.
    So basically her promotion and any others we did not see with such a large jump are battlefield commission. As the Federation and Starfleet would be in recovery mode after the war. Picard would also have been offered a promotion but given his conversation with Kirk he did not take it so he could stay in command of the Enterprise. The Nemesis mission was also Riker last mission with the Enterprise as he had a command lined up once the mission was finished, though that would have been after his marriage to Troi if the Nemesis mission did not happen.

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