Q (Star Trek)

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Q portrait.jpg
Species Q
Portrayed by John de Lancie
First appearance "Encounter at Farpoint" (TNG)

Q is a fictional character who appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as in related products. In all of these programs, he is played by John de Lancie. The name "Q" also applies to all other individuals of the Q Continuum. "Q" is also rumored to represent the viewing audience, as in "John Q. Public," who considered the newer Star Treks in comparison to the original series. Q is said to be omnipotent, and is continually evasive regarding his motivations. His home, the Q Continuum, is accessible to the Q and their guests, and the true nature of it is said to be beyond the comprehension of "lesser beings" such as humans so it is shown to humans only in ways they can understand.

Beginning with the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q became a recurring character, with pronounced comedic and dramatic chemistry between himself and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He serves as a major antagonist in the beginning of The Next Generation. During the early seasons of The Next Generation and later over the later seasons of The Next Generation and Deep Space 9, Q's motivations are never transparent, but while in some episodes he acts as a villain, in others he takes it upon himself to teach a lesson to the crew, albeit usually in destructive ways and to subject to his own amusement. Other times, notably during Deja Q and Voyager, Q appears to the crew seeking assistance. Gene Roddenberry chose the letter "Q" in honor of his friend, Janet Quarton.[1][2]

Televised appearances[edit]

In Q's debut, "Encounter at Farpoint", Picard and the Enterprise crew are put on trial arguing that humanity is a dangerous race and should be destroyed. However, by saving the life of a kidnapped alien species, the crew proved humanity's worth. Q's next appearance was later in the first season in the episode "Hide and Q", where he wanted to have a human enter the Continuum, settling on Picard's first officer, Commander Riker (the reason being that humanity had the potential to one day evolve beyond the Q and Q wanted to understand how), but Riker remained human. Q also lost a wager he made with Picard, detailing that if he failed to turn Riker, then he has to stay out of humanity's path – forever. Upon losing the wager, Q appeared banished by unknown forces, though this may have been deliberate dramatic flair on the part of Q, since Q in later episodes continues to reappear as if he had made no such wager. After this he appears in "Q Who". He offers to divest himself of his powers and guide humanity in its quest into uncharted territories and prepare it for unknown threats. When Picard argues that humans are capable of dealing with anything, Q whisks the U.S.S. Enterprise to the system J-25 for what is presumably the first human encounter with the Borg. Picard resorts to asking for Q to save the ship. Q brings the Enterprise home and tells Picard that other men would rather have died than ask for help. It is implied in the episode and later stated in the Star Trek TNG Companion that the Borg already knew about Earth and were already en route, Q's actions actually giving humanity an early warning. It is implied that the Borg had already attacked both Federation and Romulan outposts, which bears the signatures of their attack style, in the first season finale "The Neutral Zone".

This is later proven true in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Regeneration". This is the result of Q's sending the Enterprise to system J-25, which then intensified the Borg's interest in humanity, prompting them to make a much more intense effort to capture the Federation's capital world (Earth). Their interest is such that they would go back in time, causing the alteration of the events of Star Trek: First Contact, and then encountering the Crew of the NX-01 Enterprise during "Regeneration", and enabling the Borg of the 24th Century to become aware of Earth in the first place. Q's actions created a stable time loop within the Star Trek Universe, explaining why the Borg were making their way to Earth by showing how they 'first' became aware of the Federation. The actions Q took in sending the Enterprise D to System J-25— and thus maintaining the time loop, are expanded upon in the Star Trek novels as being partially (though indirectly) the reason for the existence of the Mirror Universe, explaining that Zefram Cochrane attempted to warn Earth and the worlds that would become part of the Federation about the Borg after First Contact. In one reality, the one in which the regular continuity takes place, Cochrane's warnings go either unheeded or not understood at all.[citation needed]

In "Déjà Q", Q is punished by the Q Continuum by being made mortal; his committing of an uncharacteristically selfless act (sacrificing his life so that a race attacking him won't destroy the Enterprise) garners the return of his powers. In the same episode, Q says that Picard is "the closest thing in this universe that I have to a friend." Toward the end of The Next Generation, Q is less antagonistic toward Picard, even, in "Tapestry", apparently saving Picard and helping the captain better understand himself (although whether Q actually appeared in this episode or was merely a hallucination Picard experienced during surgery is deliberately left ambiguous). In the series finale, "All Good Things...", Q gives Picard a "helping hand" in saving humanity by helping him figure out what is causing "anti-time" to flow into the universe which will invariably stop humanity from ever being born.

In the DS9 episode "Q-Less", Q at one point goads Commander Benjamin Sisko into a bare-knuckle boxing match, all the while belittling and insulting him. When Sisko loses his temper and knocks Q down, an astonished Q says, "You hit me! Picard never hit me!" Sisko counters frankly that "I'm not Picard." Q responds with a smile, saying "Indeed not...you're much easier to provoke." While on the station, Q gives hints to help the crew keep their station from being destroyed by an artifact that has been brought aboard it.

Q in a Starfleet uniform

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Death Wish" Q pursues a rogue member of the Continuum, named Quinn, who has been inadvertently released from his asteroid prison by the crew of that ship, and who seeks asylum on the Voyager. He demands that Q make him human, as he does not wish to be a member of the Continuum any more, but Q refuses, because Quinn intends to commit suicide if he becomes human. The two parties agree to allow Captain Janeway to mediate their dispute, and after Janeway eventually finds in favour of Quinn, Q makes Quinn human, after which Quinn commits suicide.

Later, in the Voyager episode "The Q and the Grey", Q reappears on the Voyager, asking Janeway to bear his child. He eventually reveals that he has started a war among members of the Continuum in a campaign for individual freedom, having been inspired by Quinn. Q believes that the birth of a new member of the Continuum could revitalize the Q. Janeway refuses, and after she and her crew bring about a ceasefire in the Continuum, Q eventually mates with the Female Q he had been involved with (referred to in Star Trek novels as 'Lady Q'), producing a son. Q makes Janeway his godmother.

Their progeny is born conscious and with all the power of any other Q, although lacking adult maturity.

In the episode "Q2", which is the last televised appearance of Q, Q appears on Voyager with his immature, rebellious son, who appears as a human teenager (played by John de Lancie's real-life son Keegan de Lancie, and referred to in the novels as "Little Q" or "q"). Q asks Janeway to mentor his son, and the two adults agree that the boy will remain on Voyager, without his powers, and either learn how to be a responsible, productive inhabitant of the cosmos, or spend eternity as an amoeba. Eventually the young Q comes around, but the Continuum is not entirely convinced, so in negotiation with Q, they come to an agreement. Q must eternally guard, observe, and accompany the boy to ensure his proper behavior.


The similarity between Q and Trelane, the alien encountered in Star Trek episode "The Squire of Gothos", inspired writer Peter David to establish in his 1994 novel Q-Squared that Trelane is a member of the Continuum, and that Q is his godfather (some evidence suggests that Q is also Trelane's biological father).[citation needed]

Q's past is expanded on in the trilogy The Q Continuum, which sees Q and Picard travel through Q's past, witnessing Q's first encounter with the being that inspired his interest in testing other races. This being, known as 0, is similar to Q in power and abilities, but is utterly malevolent in desires. Q ends up bringing him into the Milky Way Galaxy through the Guardian of Forever, and 0 ends up assembling other seemingly omnipotent beings from the original Star Trek, including The One, the being who impersonated God in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. This group was later defeated in a battle with the Q Continuum, though the dinosaurs were left extinct as a result. Q was thus put in charge of watching over Earth and its inhabitants. 0 later returned from his banishment beyond the galaxy and sought revenge on Q, but was defeated.

List of all appearances[edit]

Television episodes and novels featuring Q often have titles that play on the letter "Q".


  1. ^ BBC Online
  2. ^ Star Trek Creator - The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry by David Alexander page 536

External links[edit]