Star Trek Actor Explains Why The Next Generation's ‘Code Of Honor’ Should Remain In Rotation, Despite Offensive Content

Star Trek Actor Explains Why The Next Generation's ‘Code Of Honor’ Should Remain In Rotation, Despite Offensive Content

Star Trek is a franchise that prides itself on being ahead of the curve on social change, but it hasn't had a perfect track record in its 50+ years. One especially egregious example exists with The Next Generation's Season 1 episode called "Code of Honor," which is currently available to stream with a Paramount+ subscription. There has been debate about whether the episode should remain available to watch, and actor Cirroc Lofton recently had some interesting thoughts on that subject.

For those unfamiliar, "Code of Honor" has a reputation as one of the worst episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode introduced the Ligonians, an alien race that was cast with entirely Black actors who were given clothes that resembled a 1940s tribal aesthetic for costumes. The episode garnered almost immediate criticism from the cast, and many fans have debated whether it should be taken out of viewing rotation entirely for its poor representation. 

Cirroc Lofton is known for his time as Jake Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but he's been working through watching The Next Generation on his podcast, The 7th Rule, with actress Denise Crosby. Crosby, who played Chief of Security Tasha Yar in the episode, believes that "Code of Honor" should stay available for viewers to watch despite the controversy. Lofton revealed to in a recent interview that he feels the same and explained why below: 

I think you learn from history and you grow from it. You can’t ignore it. If there is no progress and we can’t recognize that it’s something that we’ve evolved from as a society, if we don’t see that difference, then we haven’t moved anywhere.

Paramount+ could scrub Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Code of Honor" from its library and the episode could be taken out of syndication, but Cirroc Lofton doesn't think that needs to happen. He'd sooner see the episode used as a hallmark of where we've come from and showcase how the franchise that featured one of TV's first on-screen interracial kisses could make a racially offensive episode in the late 1980s. 

While talking about the justification for keeping "Code of Honor" in rotation, Cirroc Lofton name-checked one of his more memorable episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Lofton likened the message audiences can take away from "Far Beyond The Stars" to what they can say about "Code of Honor": 

In Deep Space Nine, they had the episode 'Far Beyond the Stars,' and in that episode, my character was killed by the police in an act of police violence. When we watch now, it brings up so many emotions of different cases in which we’ve seen that thing play out. And unfortunately, we haven’t moved far from there. That episode is set in the ’50s, and here it is in the 2020s. And it’s still something that we’re dealing with as an issue, we haven’t resolved to move forward from it. And, to our credit, at least in this particular 'Code of Honor' case, we can realize, hey, we’ve to some degree moved past that stereotype of how we’re going to depict Black men on television. We’ve seen the light that there’s more to Black people than these stereotypes that they use, the sexualization, and all of these other kinds of really brute physical, basic concepts.

After making a case for it remaining in rotation, Cirroc Lofton did note that he agreed with other Star Trek actors like Jonathan Frakes, who felt the episode should have a disclaimer pointing to its offensiveness. One would imagine it wouldn't be too hard for Paramount+ to put a disclaimer ahead of the episode, considering the streamer has done so for other shows on the platform like Jackass and Big Brother's live feeds. 

Fortunately, Star Trek gets the narrative right more often than not, though it probably wouldn't hurt to slap a disclaimer on some other episodes as well. Who knows? Maybe there's a yet-to-be-made entry amongst the upcoming Trek shows that may be seen in a bad light down the stretch. Perhaps as long as such episodes are kept up as reminders, we'll lessen the odds of seeing it happen again. 

Star Trek: The Next Generation is available to stream on Paramount+, which is the definitive home for the franchise. Now would be a great time to join, considering the premiere of Strange New Worlds Season 2 is coming up on June 15th.