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Sovereign class Captain's chair

Captain's chair of the Sovereign-class USS Enterprise-E

For the interactive video game, please see Star Trek: Captain's Chair.
"You don't respect the chair. You know why? Because you're not ready for it."
"He likes that seat."
"People don't enter Starfleet to become commanders, or admirals for that matter. It's the captain's chair that everyone has their eye on."

The command chair, also referred to as the captain's chair or simply the chair, was the most important position on board a starship bridge. This seat, as its alternate name implies, was occupied by the captain of the vessel, or the officer who commanded the vessel in the captain's absence. The ship's duty officer sat on the command chair at all times and monitored all operations on the bridge. The chair was usually equipped with companels and other related equipment. In addition, some versions could swivel, so the commanding officer could easily turn to face any relevant station.

NX class[]

NX Enterprise Command Chair

Aboard the NX-class Enterprise

The right arm of the command chair on the bridge of the NX-class Enterprise NX-01 included a control panel that could flip up at the touch of a control. Additionally, both arms of the chair included at least one companel. An adjustable panel built into the chair's left arm had the additional capacity of being able to fire spatial torpedoes from the starship. (ENT: "Fight or Flight", "Cold Front")

While serving aboard Enterprise in May 2151, Vulcan Sub-Commander T'Pol used a companel on the chair's right arm to contact an away team on board an Axanar starship, and also contacted the armory by using a companel on the chair's left arm. T'Pol later deployed the docking arm by remotely extending it from the chair's right arm. (ENT: "Fight or Flight")

When Ensign Travis Mayweather assumed temporary command of Enterprise later that year, he was slightly hesitant to accept advice, from Ensign Hoshi Sato, that he occupy the command chair rather than his typical position at the helm. Once he moved to the captain's chair, Mayweather remarked, "The bridge looks a lot different from here." (ENT: "Cold Front")

Makeshift command chair

The makeshift command chair

In 2152, while passing a trinary star system that was emitting a dangerous form of radiation, the entire crew of Enterprise – with the exception of T'Pol – became affected and began to obsess over trivial matters. Charles "Trip" Tucker, the starship's chief engineer, became obsessed with the command chair which, according to Captain Jonathan Archer, was not comfortable enough. Commander Tucker eventually fixed the problem by lowering the chair one centimeter. (ENT: "Singularity")

In September of that year, a makeshift command chair, a cargo container with netting, was set up in a temporary command area for the crew's evacuation to Enterprise's catwalk. When Captain Archer first entered the command post, Tucker asked him if he wanted to try the chair out, though Archer replied, "Maybe later." (ENT: " The Catwalk")

In 2154, Captain Hernandez showed Captain Archer the bridge of her ship, the second NX-class starship, Columbia. Archer suggested the installation of a lumbar support in Columbia's command chair, as Hernandez would probably be spending a lot of time in the chair. (ENT: "Home")

Enterprise Command Chair, 2154

The redesign Enterprise command chair

When Enterprise was refitted following the Xindi mission, one of the additions was a completely redesigned captain's chair, which Commander Tucker joked "came with everything but its own protein resequencer." (ENT: "Borderland")

The NX-class command chair was the only chair on the NX-class bridge that was not bought from an Italian showroom. Set Decorator James Mees commented, "I bought the seat itself at a boating and marine supplier. I recovered it in leathers in our colors and some different things like that, and then the rest of the chair we built from scratch; there's a retractable arm and a retractable video screen in it, and the base lights up and it completely swivels. It's quite exciting!" The chair's armrests and base were built specially. To help Mees finalize the details, Senior Illustrator John Eaves drew some sketches of the chair. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 85 & 86) Production Designer Herman Zimmerman concluded, "We made a really cool chair for Captain Archer, but it uses a lot of the same dramatic devices – like a pop-up television screen and a communications button that you can hit with your fist – that hark back to James T. Kirk's chair." (Star Trek Monthly issue 103, p. 32) Ultimately, the NX command chair featured the smallest screen of all the plasma screens on the NX-class bridge, measuring seven inches across. For ENT: "Singularity", a potential updated version of the NX-class command chair – an over-planned chair supposedly designed by the obsessive Tucker – was based on a design by John Eaves. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 144, pp. 28 & 30)

Early in the run of Star Trek: Enterprise, the opportunity to sit in the NX-class command chair proved to be a temptation to the series' regular cast. "I think pretty much everybody has [sat in it], yeah," laughed Scott Bakula, shortly after working on the first several episodes. "We joke about it. I come in and Anthony [Montgomery] will be sitting in my chair: 'What are you doing?' We're laughing about it. He jumps up." Concerning the regard that the series regulars in general had for the chair, Bakula went on to conclude, "We're having a lot of fun with it." (Star Trek Monthly issue 84, p. 32)

Constitution class[]

The command chairs installed aboard ships of the Constitution-class in the 2250s and 2260s featured three slightly different versions of the same command chair. Most, such as the one on the USS Enterprise, featured a backrest that only reached the mid-back. A few, such as that of the USS Lexington, had a full backrest. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer")

The full backrest used for the Lexington helped visually distinguish between the bridges of that ship and the Enterprise. The same full backrest was used on the set re-dress of the bridge for the mirror universe ISS Enterprise in the episode TOS: "Mirror, Mirror".

Primarily, the chair contained command control button on either of the arm rests. The left side contained the button for the intraship comms, and the right side contained buttons for manually placing the ship on red or yellow alert, as well as one to jettison pod. (TOS: "Court Martial") For a time, the command chair had a "gooseneck viewer" on the right armrest. (TOS: "The Cage", "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

The command chair on the ISS Enterprise was identical to the one on the USS Enterprise despite it being from the mirror universe. Captain Michael Burnham took the command chair on the ISS Enterprise in 3191 while freeing the ship from a pocket of interdimensional space, although her crew consisted only of Cleveland Booker. Burnham also rejected Booker's suggestion of her using Captain Christopher Pike's catchphrase "hit it" in favor of her own "let's fly." (DIS: "Mirrors")

Constitution class (alternate reality)[]

Captain's chair, USS Enterprise (alternate reality)

The Constitution-class command chair of the USS Enterprise

In the alternate reality, the Constitution-class command chair could swivel and was equipped with an intercom. (Star Trek) The chair also had self-extending twin-shoulder seat belts, as did other seats on the ship. (Star Trek Into Darkness)

Captain Christopher Pike was in the command chair of the USS Enterprise when the ship launched from Starbase 1 on a mission to Vulcan in 2258. Spock, as acting captain during Pike's absence, then occasionally occupied the chair, temporarily leaving it to go on a mission to rescue members of the Vulcan High Council including his mother, Amanda Grayson. After Spock returned, James T. Kirk momentarily assumed the chair. However, Spock told him to get "out of the chair", an instruction Kirk complied with. Once Kirk proved Spock was too emotionally compromised by the recent destruction of Vulcan to continue in command, the right to take the command chair became Kirk's. As Sulu informed the bridge crew of the fact that Kirk was now acting captain, Kirk quickly familiarized himself with the chair's controls and then used the intercom system to broadcast a message ship-wide that he was now in command, and they were going to follow Nero to Earth. (Star Trek)

The next year, after Kirk violated Starfleet regulations by revealing the Enterprise to a group of primitive Nibirans, Christopher Pike accused Kirk of not respecting "the chair" because Pike felt Kirk wasn't yet ready for it. The Enterprise's command chair had never been occupied by Hikaru Sulu until Kirk temporarily promoted him to the position of acting captain, while Kirk led a landing party to Qo'noS and captured Khan Noonien Singh there. Later, Kirk, recruiting Khan to help him commandeer the USS Vengeance, promoted Spock to acting captain of the Enterprise with the rationale that the person who sat in the chair needed to know what they were doing. Moments after the power grids aboard the Enterprise started failing and the ship became caught in Earth's gravity, Spock activated the chair's seat belt. Shortly before the Enterprise commenced an historic five-year mission, Kirk assumed command and the associated chair from Sulu, who admitted he had enjoyed sitting in it. (Star Trek Into Darkness)

A few years later, Kirk once again used the chair's intercom to explain to the crew the nature of their mission when they were ordered to locate and rescue survivors from the other side of the Necro Cloud nebula. Following the Battle of Altamid, Kirk used a phaser to ignite the ventral thrusters on the wrecked saucer as a way to distract Kalara and Krall's drones by causing it to flip over onto its dorsal side. This action destroyed the entire bridge upon impact with the surface of Altamid. (Star Trek Beyond)

As shown in the blooper reel on the Star Trek DVD and Blu-ray, the captain's chair is not actually bolted onto the floor, as Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine accidentally knocked it over while filming Spock's attack on Kirk.

During the making of the movie Star Trek, many members of production staff sat in the chair. "I think everybody had a seat in the captain's chair," opined Leonard McCoy actor Karl Urban. Those who sat in the chair included Urban himself, Pavel Chekov actor Anton Yelchin, a boom operator, Nyota Uhura actress Zoë Saldana and Zachary Quinto together, as well as Director/Producer J.J. Abrams. However, some people found sitting in the chair was too difficult. Roberto Orci was advised to sit in the chair but initially chose not to. "At the end, finally, I did," he stated, "but I waited 'til... I didn't want to jinx it. I was one of the last to sit in the chair." Orci's writing partner Alex Kurtzman didn't sit in the chair at all, neither did Production Designer Scott Chambliss. "I couldn't sit on it," Chambliss admitted. "I just kept walking kind of around it, looking, and I never once sat in that chair." A running in-joke amid the film's creation, was using the controls on the chair as if they operated a replicator, ordering such things as "a latte with a twist of lemon," in Urban's words. For a sense of realism on the set, the chair was outfitted with lights, at least one LED display, and other gizmos. "It's cool, it's way cool," Urban related. ("The Captain's Chair", Star Trek DVD/Star Trek BD special features)

Constitution II class[]

Constitution II class command chair console, 2270s

Refit command chair controls

During the early 2270s, those Constitution II-class starships that were refitted as Constitution II-class starships had new streamlined command chairs. The chair aboard the Enterprise was upgraded with not only a full back support, including an automatically adjustable headrest, but also a safety restraint mechanism that allowed the armrests to hold down the occupant during turbulence and red alert. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Upon Kirk stealing the Enterprise from Spacedock One for a self-appointed mission in 2285, Captain Lawrence H. Styles threatened Kirk that, if he went ahead with the theft, he would "never sit in the captain's chair again." This turned out to be partly true, as the Enterprise was self-destructed in close proximity to the Genesis Planet during Kirk's same unofficial mission, Kirk even fell from it to the floor upon learning the death of his son, David Marcus. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

USS Enterprise-A command chair, 2287

Aboard the Constitution II-class

Kirk did later assume the captain's chair of the Constitution-class USS Enterprise-A, once later admitting, in 2287, that he missed his former chair. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

For Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Set Dresser John Dwyer made sure to acquire a new command chair for the Enterprise. "The old chair was flat up the back and had two aluminum panels that locked on your leg, with buttons on them," he recalled. "It was a real hindrance to the actors. Not only did you have to remember your lines and your moves, you had to get out of this thing… so we constructed one that was easy to get out of and looked semi-comfortable." (Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, pp. 143-144)

Crossfield class[]

Saru in command chair

Saru in Discovery's command chair

Aboard Crossfield-class vessels such as the USS Discovery, the captain's chair was considered a non-critical system. (DIS: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")

The captain's chairs on at least two vessels, the Crossfield-class USS Discovery and the Walker-class USS Shenzhou, had a small metal burr on the bottom of the left armrest due to a construction glitch at the San Francisco Fleet Yards. Commander Michael Burnham observed Captain Philippa Georgiou would rub the burr with her thumb during tense moments in order to stay "in the moment," so frequently that Georgiou had worn it down to an indentation. Burnham also observed Saru touching the burr on Discovery, and Ensign Sylvia Tilly touched it as well upon taking command of the ship for the first time. (DIS: "Su'Kal")

During his time as first officer of Discovery, Commander Rayner was visibly reluctant to take the captain's chair during his times in command of the ship, something that both Tilly and Lieutenant Christopher noticed. Rayner only took the chair for the first time while rallying the crew to rescue their captain and recover the Progenitors' technology before his old enemy Breen Primarch Tahal could arrive. (DIS: "Mirrors", "Lagrange Point")

Dreadnought class[]

Vengeance command chair

The Vengeance's command chair

When commandeering the Dreadnought-class USS Vengeance, Captain James T. Kirk ordered Admiral Alexander Marcus to vacate the command chair. Marcus refused, even after Kirk threatened him, "I could stun your ass and drag you out of that chair." Marcus hurried out of the chair in an attempt to escape when Khan, who had accompanied Kirk onto the bridge, went on the offensive. After murdering Admiral Marcus and taking control of the Vengeance himself, Khan assumed the command chair, though a detonation aboard the ship hurled him out of it. Immediately following the crash of the Vengeance in San Francisco, Khan was cowering behind the chair, though he soon left it. (Star Trek Into Darkness)

At one point, Star Trek Into Darkness Art Director Harry Otto posed for a photograph in the Dreadnought-class command chair. [1]

Excelsior class[]

During an honorary tour of the Enterprise-B on its maiden voyage, James T. Kirk – now retired from Starfleet – gave a longing gaze towards the ship's command chair. When Captain John Harriman asked Kirk and his companion Montgomery Scott to take their designated side seats, Kirk was reluctant to leave the command chair, briefly resting an arm atop the back of it, but then did as Harriman had suggested. Kirk later glanced at the chair again, upon advising Harriman, "Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair."

Enterprise B command chair

The Excelsior-class command chair aboard the USS Enterprise-B

When the ship subsequently became caught in a gravimetric field emanating from the Nexus, the craft shuddering caused firstly Harriman and later Kirk to cling onto the chair. After Kirk and Scott hatched a plan to enable the Enterprise-B to break away from the field, Kirk finally assumed the vessel's command chair while Harriman volunteered to go to main engineering to make modifications necessary for the plan to work. However, Kirk thereafter left the chair, swapping places with Harriman. Harriman thereafter left the chair to investigate a hull breach which had apparently cost Kirk his life.

Kirk had actually been drawn into the Nexus, in which Captain Jean-Luc Picard attempted to recruit him to help stop Tolian Soran on Veridian III. Kirk concluded that the situation he now found himself in, of whether to make a difference again, was "about that empty chair on the bridge of the Enterprise," and he proceeded to assist Picard, actually being killed in the process. (Star Trek Generations)

Freedom class[]

USS Franklin bridge

Aboard the USS Franklin.

The Freedom-class starship had a more basic version of the command chair when the USS Franklin was discovered by members of the crew of the USS Enterprise in 2263 of the alternate reality, as it was from nearly 100 years earlier. After James T. Kirk boarded the ship, he was displeased when alien scavenger Jaylah situated herself in the command chair while he was on the Franklin bridge. This caused Montgomery Scott to mouth to Jaylah behind Kirk's back that Kirk liked sitting in the command chair. Later, when launching the Franklin to pursue Krall (somewhat ironically, the Franklin's former captain), Kirk took the Franklin's command chair and remained there during a battle which followed. As the Franklin prepared to fly into the Swarm ships' midst, Kirk grabbed on tight to the armrests of the command chair. (Star Trek Beyond)

Galaxy class[]

TNG First Season Command Chair

Aboard the Galaxy-class USS Enterprise-D in 2364

In 2364, Captain Jean-Luc Picard showed young Wesley Crusher the command chair aboard the USS Enterprise-D. A panel on the right arm of the chair had been designed for log entries, library computer access and retrieval, viewscreen control and intercoms. The left arm of the chair was equipped with a panel that could be flipped open to reveal backup conn and ops panels, plus armament and shield controls. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")

The script of "Encounter at Farpoint" does not specify that the controls on the left arm of the chair are hidden beneath a panel, although Picard opens a panel on the chair's left arm in the final version of the episode. Furthermore, this script identified the chair either as the "command station" or the "command position". [2]

Riker and wrecked command chair

Riker with the ruined command chair of the Enterprise

By 2365, the command chair on the Enterprise-D had been upgraded to a newer version with padded armrests and the replacement of the hidden control panels with permanently open ones. This chair remained on the bridge until the ship's destruction in 2371. In hindsight, Commander Riker subsequently admitted, "I always thought I'd get a shot at this chair one day," referencing his long-held desire to captain the Enterprise, a goal Picard suspected he might still attain. (TNG: "The Child"; Star Trek Generations)

Donald Varley

Captain Varley in the command chair of the Yamato

Picard in Alternate Timeline Enterprise-D Captain's Chair

Picard in the command chair of an alternate timeline Enterprise-D

In an alternate timeline in 2366 in which the United Federation of Planets was at war with the Klingon Empire, the bridge of the Enterprise-D featured a more militaristic-looking command chair. Furthermore, unlike the Enterprise of the normal timeline, this chair was not surrounded by seats for the first officer and another officer. (TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise")

In the past time-frame of TNG: "All Good Things...", the command chair on the bridge is not the same chair that was used in the first season, but rather, the upgraded chair that was introduced in the second season.

The command chair was not intended to be replaced for the film Star Trek Generations but had to be, after the production staff discovered – fifty hours before filming – that it had been stolen. With time running out, shop crews labored for a straight eighteen hours to craft a new chair. They fashioned the replacement out of fiberglass molded over foam built on an old frame from the first season. The thief had left behind, fortunately for the production crew, the chair's cast-iron base, so that was also used. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 312)

Kelvin type[]

The command chair aboard the Kelvin-type was outfitted with a control panel on the chair's right armrest. The controls available included a manual steering column and an intercom.

George Kirk on dying Kelvin

George Kirk being propelled out of the USS Kelvin's command chair

Aboard the USS Kelvin in 2233 of the alternate reality, Captain Richard Robau and Lieutenant Commander George Kirk consecutively occupied the command chair while the Kelvin was attacked by the Romulan mining vessel Narada. Both officers used the chair's intercom but, as the Kelvin crashed into the Narada in a ramming maneuver, Kirk was flung out of the chair. (Star Trek)

Kobayashi Maru simulator[]

In the alternate reality, a command chair on a simulated bridge in the Kobayashi Maru scenario could rotate and had a control panel on each armrest.

While James T. Kirk was undergoing the Kobayashi Maru test in 2258 of the alternate reality, he ate an apple while sitting in the command chair. (Star Trek)

Protostar class[]

The USS Protostar, the prototype ship of the Protostar-class class, had a captain's chair in the center of the bridge. It had holographic displays and consoles. (PRO: "Lost and Found", et al.)

The USS Prodigy had a slightly different arrangement with a second chair for the first officer. (PRO: "Ouroboros, Part II")

Gallery of command chairs[]


Background information[]

Shooting Where No Man Has Gone Before

A shot of Captain Kirk in his command chair is filmed

USS Enterprise command chair, bonus feature

A close-up of the panels of the command chair from the alternate USS Enterprise

On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a particular command chair prop was included, over multiple years, in viewscreen appearances of Cardassian Gul Dukat. In DS9: "Return to Grace", a built-up version of the chair appeared aboard the Groumall, a Cardassian freighter commanded by Dukat. ("Oddments", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, No. 12)

An oversized Romulan command chair was built for DS9: "The Die is Cast". "We never shot it," said Laura Richarz, "because it was way too big and very clunky. However, it was thronelike." As a result, the chair was used in DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs", as Grand Nagus Zek's throne at the Chamber of Petitioners in Ferenginar's Tower of Commerce. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 445-446)

The command chair of the Enterprise-E was designed by illustrator John Eaves, who placed the chair a few inches above all the others on the starship's bridge in order to accentuate the captain's position, focusing the bridge design on him. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 110, p. 22)

Jean-Luc Picard, command chair seat belts

A deleted scene showing seat belts on the command chair of the Enterprise-E

In a deleted scene from Star Trek Nemesis, the Enterprise-E's command chair is refitted with seat belts. This chair design later served as the command chair for the Enterprise (NX-01) in Season 4 of Star Trek: Enterprise.

External link[]