The Child (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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"The Child"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 1
Directed by Rob Bowman
Written by
Featured music Dennis McCarthy
Cinematography by Edward R. Brown
Production code 127
Original air date November 21, 1988 (1988-11-21)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

"The Child" is the first episode of the second season of the syndicated science fiction television show Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the 27th episode of the show overall. It was first broadcast on November 21, 1988.

In this episode, ship's Counsellor Deanna Troi gives birth to a mysterious child, while the Enterprise transports dangerous cargo.


As the Federation starship Enterprise‍ '​s new chief medical officer, Dr. Katherine Pulaski, is brought aboard, the Enterprise prepares to travel to Aucdet IX in order to take on dangerous virus samples, which will be carried to a Starfleet Medical station in order to devise a cure for a plague epidemic in the Rachelis System. On leaving the starbase, a ball of energy passes through the hull and enters the ship unnoticed, eventually settling into ship's counselor Troi's quarters. The next day, Pulaski finds that Troi is pregnant; the fetus is developing at an accelerated rate and will be fully developed in 36 hours. Troi does not know who the father is, but is aware of a "presence" entering her body the night before. Though the senior staff debate terminating the pregnancy, Troi decides she will carry the child to term.

While the Enterprise arrives at Aucdet IX and begins to transport the samples into a highly secure storage vessel, Troi gives birth to an apparently normal boy, whom she names Ian Andrew after her father. Ian continues to develop rapidly; within a day, he appears as a four-year-old child with corresponding mental faculties. Troi and Pulaski observe Ian purposely putting himself in harm's way, seemingly just for the experience. When asked if he is ready to explain who or what he is, though, Ian responds "not yet."

Having completed the transfer of the virus samples, the Enterprise heads for Starfleet Medical, but the crew finds one of the plague strains is growing inexplicably; should it continue growing, it will rupture the storage vessel and result in the catastrophic exposure of all on board. They discover that an unknown source of Eichner radiation is causing the growth. Separately, Ian confides to Troi that he is the source of the crew's problems and will have to leave. Troi realizes Ian is dying, and calls for medical assistance. As Pulaski tries to keep Ian alive, Commander Data scans him and discovers that he is the source of Eichner radiation. Ian dies in Troi's arms, and turns into a ball of energy, which settles into Troi's hands, communicating telepathically with her for a moment, then leaves the ship. Troi reveals that Ian was a life-force entity, curious about the Enterprise and its crew, and went through the process of being born and growing up to live as one of them. With Ian gone, the plague sample returns to normal, and the crew continues on to Starfleet Medical.

Story history[edit]

"The Child" was originally written as an episode of Star Trek: Phase II, and was to feature the Deltan navigator, Lieutenant Ilia, and a female child, Irska. It developed from a story pitch by Jaron Summers, and was written as a script by Summers and Jon Povill, who shared credit on the resulting teleplay. As a result of Povill's work on the script, he became Story Editor on the series. With the abandonment of Phase II, "The Child" was also abandoned.

However, in 1987, a second Star Trek television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, came on the air. Unlike Phase II, which featured the original characters in a new mission, TNG featured new characters, with some closely based on additional characters proposed for Phase II. A major Writers Guild of America strike took place in the summer of 1988, leading to the start of many fall seasons being delayed. At that time, the producers of The Next Generation decided to look into the Phase II archives for scripts. Upon the termination of the writer's strike in August, Maurice Hurley, the head writer and a co-executive producer for season 2, did a "quick script revision."[1] At least one of the original writers has spoken publicly in opposition to this revised script, which has been derided by some for the crew's apathy toward what some have called Troi being raped. The script was originally focused on the proposed new character of Ilia, who had been the basis for the TNG character Deanna Troi, and was relatively easy to adapt. The episode, which was the second season premiere, aired in November rather than the usual September. The writer's strike would also result in the last episode of the season "Shades of Gray", the only clip show in Star Trek‍ '​s history.

The original script was published in 1997 in a book about Phase II by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.[2]

"The Child" was later filmed as an episode of the Star Trek: New Voyages fan series.


In its original broadcast, "The Child" was watched by 10.9 million viewers.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Susan Sackett (2002). Inside Trek: My Secret Life With Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry. HAWK Publishing Group. ISBN 1-930709-42-0. 
  2. ^ Reeves-Stevens, Judith and Garfield. Star Trek: Phase II: The Lost Series. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-56839-6. 
  3. ^ "Star Trek: The Next Generation Nielsen Ratings – Seasons 1–2". TrekNation. Archived from the original on October 5, 2000. Retrieved May 23, 2014. 

External links[edit]