Q (Star Trek)
|Portrayed by||John de Lancie|
|First appearance||"Encounter at Farpoint" (TNG)|
Q is a fictional character in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as in related media. In all of these programs, he is portrayed by John de Lancie. Q is a being who is unconstrained by, and indeed possesses power over, normal human notions of time, space, and even reality itself - he and his fellow Q are said to be omnipotent, and he is continually evasive regarding his motivations. The name "Q" also applies to all other individuals of the Q Continuum - an alternate dimension accessible to the Q and their guests, of which the true nature 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 The Next Generation, Q became a recurring character, with pronounced comedic and dramatic chemistry between himself and Jean-Luc Picard. He serves as a major antagonist throughout The Next Generation - indeed perhaps the series' primary antagonist, as he plays a pivotal role in both the first and final episodes. He is initially presented as a cosmic force judging humanity to see if it is becoming a brutal threat to the universe, but as the series progresses, his role morphs more into one of a teacher to Picard and the human race generally - albeit often in seemingly destructive ways and subject to his own amusement. Other times, notably during "Deja Q" and Voyager, Q appears to the crew apparently seeking assistance.
In Q's debut "Encounter at Farpoint", he puts Picard and the Enterprise crew on trial, arguing that humanity is a dangerous race and should be destroyed. When they later save the life of a kidnapped alien, Q agrees to defer judgement, while not promising never to return.
Q's next appearance was later in the first season, in the episode "Hide and Q". Q decides to admit a human into the Continuum. He believes that humanity has the potential to one day evolve beyond the Q, and he wants to understand how. He settles on Picard's first officer, Commander Riker, but Q fails to trigger the evolution and Riker remains human. Thereby losing a wager with Picard, Q is bound by the terms of the wager to stay out of humanity's path forever. Q instantly vanishes, but continues to appear in later episodes as if the wager never occurred.
In "Q Who", he offers to divest himself of his powers and guide humanity through uncharted regions and prepare it for unknown threats. Picard argues that Q's services are unneeded (and unwanted), and Q rebuts him by teleporting the U.S.S. Enterprise to a distant system for their first encounter with the Borg. Unable to resist the Borg, Picard must ask Q to save the ship. Q returns the Enterprise home and tells Picard that other men would rather have died than ask for help. The 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Companion states that the Borg already knew about Earth and were already en route (having previously attacked Federation and Romulan outposts in the first season episode, "The Neutral Zone"), and that Q's actions were intended as an early warning. The Star Trek: Enterprise episode, "Regeneration", explains that the encounter in system J-25 intensified the Borg's interest in humanity, prompting them to escalate their plans to capture Earth. Using time travel, the Borg alter the course of events depicted in Star Trek: First Contact, where they encounter the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise and inform their 24th century predecessors of the existence of Earth. Q's actions stabilized the time stream by creating a different cause for the Borg's awareness of the Federation. This anomaly is expanded upon in the Star Trek novels as being a partial indirect cause of the Mirror Universe, whose reality diverged from the original time stream when Zefram Cochrane attempted to warn Earth and the other worlds that would form the Federation about the Borg after the events of First Contact. In the original reality, Cochrane's warnings go unheeded.
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.
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 the 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.
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.
In the Voyager novel The Eternal Tide, Q's son sacrifices himself to save the universe, inspired by the example of the resurrected Kathryn Janeway, prompting Q to declare himself her enemy.
In the Star Trek comic series based on the alternate timeline established in the 2009 Star Trek film, Q visits that reality to take the crew of the Enterprise into their future, allowing them to interact with characters from the original timeline in the new history created by Spock's trip to the past, allowing them to help Q deal with a threat to the Continuum in the form of the Pah-Wraiths, events in this timeline having all but destroyed the Bajoran Prophets.
List of all appearances
Television episodes and novels featuring Q often have titles that play on the letter "Q".
1No audiobook version available.
- BBC Online
- Star Trek Creator - The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry by David Alexander page 536
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Star Trek|
- Q at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Q Continuum at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Q at the Internet Movie Database