Clues (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 14
Directed byLes Landau
Story byBruce D. Arthurs
Teleplay byBruce D. Arthurs
Joe Menosky
Featured musicDennis McCarthy
Production code188
Original air dateFebruary 11, 1991 (1991-02-11)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Devil's Due"
Next →
"First Contact"
Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 4)
List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

"Clues" is the 14th episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, it originally aired on February 11, 1991 in broadcast syndication. The teleplay was written by Bruce D. Arthurs and Joe Menosky from a story by Arthurs and was directed by Les Landau.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Starfleet starship USS Enterprise-D. While en route to investigate a mysterious planet, the entire crew, with the exception of Lieutenant Commander Data, is rendered unconscious by an apparent wormhole. After they revive, Data explains that they were unconscious for only thirty seconds but a variety of clues discovered around the ship seem to indicate that he is lying.


The Enterprise investigates a T Tauri class star system with a single Class M planet that was picked up on a long-range sensor scan near the Ngame Nebula. As they approach the planet, the ship encounters a wormhole and everyone except Lt. Commander Data briefly loses consciousness. When the crew regains consciousness, some of the ship's sensors suggest it has been nearly a day since the wormhole encounter, but Data states they were only out for moments and the ship's instruments were affected by the wormhole. Captain Picard opts to send a probe into the system to avoid further harm to the ship per Data's suggestion. The probe reports only the presence of a frozen gas giant instead of the Class M planet from before; again, Data attributes this to the effects of the wormhole.

As the ship moves away from the system, the crew begin to find evidence that does not support Data's claims that they were only unconscious for a few moments; Chief Medical Officer Dr. Crusher has found moss samples have grown fully in that time, and has found that Worf, complaining of a sore wrist, actually had his wrist broken and reset by a medical professional. Picard begins to suspect Data's claims, and believes the rest of the crew is suffering from missing time syndrome. Picard confronts Data on the issue, but Data cannot provide a rational answer. Further studies of the crew by Dr. Crusher show that Data's explanations are impossible; they have lost a day from the wormhole encounter, and there is evidence that Data tampered with the probe's readings to mask the Class M planet. Picard recognizes that Data's actions may be for the protection of the Enterprise, but orders the ship to return to the system.

When they near the Class M planet, Ship's Counselor Troi is taken over by a mysterious energy pulse from the system, and starts to speak to the crew with a different voice. The entity that has taken over Troi informs Picard that his plan has failed, and that their people will prepare to destroy the Enterprise. Picard learns from Data and the entity that they are in the space of the Paxans, a highly advanced but very xenophobic race who have kept themselves hidden by firing a stun beam at any ship that nears their system and then moving it away; crews of such ships normally associate it with the effects of a wormhole. However, in the case of the Enterprise, the stun beam did not affect Data; Data had revived the crew as the Paxans were attempting to move the ship, and forcing a physical encounter that led to Worf's wrist being broken. Picard was able to offer the Paxans a deal as to attempt to conceal their previous meeting, using memory-wiping technology from the Paxans to forget their encounters with them, and ordered Data to behave as he did to protect the ship.

Picard is able to convince the Paxan in control of Troi that the previous plan failed because they left too many clues on the Enterprise that piqued human curiosity to solve the mystery and that if the Enterprise vanishes, it will cause others to come investigate. The crew of the Enterprise, with the help of the Paxans, work together to completely eradicate any possible clues; once completed, the crew is stunned again, and the ship moves away from Paxan space. When the crew revives this time, they accept Data's explanations without question and continue on their mission.

Similarity to Red Dwarf[edit]

In their book The Red Dwarf Programme Guide, Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons point out the "uncanny similarities" between Clues and the Red Dwarf episode "Thanks for the Memory", which aired on UK television nearly two and a half years earlier. Howarth and Lyons note that the American show "has the cast waking up to find that time has passed of which they have no memory. Despite the resistance of their mechanical crew member, they attempt to find out what has happened, but learn that they were better off not knowing. One of them even has a broken limb..."[1]


In 2016, Vox rated this one of the top 25 essential episodes of all Star Trek.[2]

In 2017, Netflix announced that "Clues" was among the top ten most re-watched Star Trek episodes on their streaming service, excluding the first two episodes of each series.[3][4] Also in 2017, Popular Mechanics said that "Clues" was one of the top ten most fun episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, praising it as good science fiction television and a good plot twist.[5]


  1. ^ Chris Howarth & Steve Lyons, Red Dwarf Programme Guide: Third Revised Edition (Virgin Publishing Limited, 2000), pp. 80-81.
  2. ^ Siede, Caroline (2016-09-06). "Star Trek, explained for non-Trekkies". Vox. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
  3. ^ "Netflix's Top-10 Most Re-Watched Trek Episodes". Retrieved 2019-02-24.
  4. ^ Whitbrook, James. "This List of the Most Re-Watched Star Trek Episodes Is Baffling". io9. Retrieved 2019-02-24.
  5. ^ Moseman, rew; Wenz, John (2017-09-08). "The 10 Goofiest 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Episodes". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2019-03-13.

External links[edit]