An ode to Worf’s gloriously weird dating advice, Star Trek’s best running gag

Michael Dorn as Worf of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Paatton/Paramount+ © 2022 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Michael Dorn as Worf of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Paatton/Paramount+ © 2022 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Worf is secretly Star Trek’s most comedic character.

Star Trek requires a strange amount of versatility from its actors. Even though it’s a drama, some of its comedic moments are legendary. Even Star Trek’s most melodramatic thespians have to have the comic timing and charm needed to pull off a punchline. No one from the franchise embodied this duality more than Star Trek: The Next Generation’s steely Klingon security officer Worf, played by Michael Dorn.

The Klingon was TNG’s most serious character, and only got more serious when he transferred to Deep Space Nine. Yet he had all of 90s Trek’s funniest lines, which it was fantastic to see reprised on Star Trek: Picard, in what was possibly the series’ funniest moments.

First, there was the Star Trek: The Next Generation season two episode “The Dauphin,” which I believe exists only so that we can see annoying wunderkind Wesley Crusher get disturbingly anatomical dating advice from Data, and a flirting lesson from Riker and Guinan that’s so steamy they forget he’s there.

But the scene with Worf is the real standout…

"Worf: “…That is how a Klingon lures a mate.”Wesley Crusher: “Are you telling me to yell at Salia?”W: “No, no, no. Men do not roar. Women roar. Then they hurl heavy objects. And claw at you.”WC: “What does the man do?”W: “He reads love poetry. He ducks a lot.”WC: “Worf, it sounds like it works great for the Klingons, but…I think I need to try something a little less…dangerous?”W: “Go to her door, beg like a human.”"

The girl Wesley is crushing on turns out to be a monster, or a diplomat, or something… the story is not the point of the episode. The point is everyone getting weird about Wesley and his crush. But it’s the shade that Worf throws at Wesley for his wussy human ways that makes it all worthwhile.

In Transfigurations, Worf’s advice to Geordi is actually significant to the story, sort of, maybe. The enterprise encounters an alien fugitive with no memory and mysterious healing powers. He fixes Chief O’Brien’s dislocated shoulder, brings Worf back to life after accidentally killing him, and makes Geordi good at flirting.

That last part isn’t spelled out, because it doesn’t really make sense. I suspect it was a leftover from an earlier draft of the story where the alien John Doe’s powers were less specifically defined. They probably left it in because it necessitated a scene establishing that Geordi was bad at flirting, and that scene came out perfect.

"Worf: “You must let her see the fire in your eyes.”Geordi: “But what would I say?!”W: “Words come later. It is the scent that first speaks of love.”G: “Thanks… That helps a lot.”"

He really wasn’t kidding about the love poetry, was he?

That first line is priceless because remember, Geordi’s eyes are not visible.

When Geordi’s crush approaches them, we feel Worf’s pain as he bears witness to an excruciating few minutes of non-flirting. Geordi’s awkwardness would be unwatchable if it weren’t for shots of Worf reacting, like an angrier version of Jim from The Office.

“I have much to teach you about women,” Worf concludes. It’s a line meant to portray him as a little clueless, but even the worst advice would be an improvement on whatever it was that Geordi was doing.

Worf only got funnier as he became more serious.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine gave us a more comedic Worf, comedy mined from his seriousness. Laugh lines from someone so steely and solemn are one of the highest forms of comedy. This carried over into Star Trek: Picard, where Worf had all the funniest moments.

In Picard’s number one funniest moment, after a deadly weapon was stolen from a Starfleet Intelligence black site, our heroes had to break into the site, to retrieve a manifest and determine what was stolen. Joining Worf on the mission are awkward former lovers Seven Of Nine and Raffi Musiker, before Seven changes her mind at the last minute…

"Worf: “I have gone into battle with lovers countless times. It can be therapeutic…”Seven: “I’m not going.”W: “That is a relief. I was practising deceit. Breakups on my homeworld seldom end without bloodshed.”"

I suppose this is more like non-advice, as he readily admits he doesn’t believe what he is saying. But what’s so funny is the maladroit candor with which he admitted he was talking complete baloney. Michael Dorn’s monotone delivery elevates the whole thing to the heights of deadpan comedy.

I’ve said before that Worf is strongly coded as being neurodivergent, and this kind of tactless honesty is a sure sign of neurodivergence.

Perhaps he was belatedly taking Garak’s advice that “lying is a skill just like any other, and if you want to maintain a level of excellence, you must practice constantly.”

Next. Paramount reportedly hopes to move into preproduction for Star Trek 4 soon. dark