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Q is seeking asylum on the Enterprise after he has been thrown out of the Continuum and stripped of his powers.



The USS Enterprise-D is called to Bre'el IV to help its people with their moon, which is falling out of orbit and threatening the planet. As they explore ways of returning the moon into its orbit using the ship's tractor beam, a strange piercing sound is heard before Q suddenly tumbles from mid-air, completely naked, onto the deck of the bridge. "Red alert," Q says while grinning at Captain Picard.

Act One[]

Q in civilian clothing

"These aren't my colors."

Picard and the crew are convinced that Q is responsible for what is happening to the Bre'el. However, Q insists that he had nothing to do with it and that he has been stripped of his powers and was given the choice to be turned into anything he so desired, as long as it was mortal. He chose to be Human and was sent to the Enterprise because out of all the beings in the universe he considers "Jean-Luc" the closest thing to a friend he has. When a desperate Q practically begs to know what he can do to convince the crew that he is mortal and has lost his powers, Worf succinctly suggests that he dies.

Picard facepalm

"… in all the universe, you're the closest thing I have to a friend, Jean-Luc."

Counselor Troi confirms that she can sense emotions from Q which reveal that he is terrified. Data scans Q with a tricorder and tells the captain he is reading Human life signs from him. While not believing Q entirely, Picard has Worf throw him into the brig for safekeeping. Moments later, broadband emissions illuminate the Enterprise until they shrink down to sneak into the brig, where Q has fallen asleep.

Act Two[]

Q in brig

"If you are Human, which I seriously doubt, you will have to work hard to earn our trust."

Picard is suspicious of Q's motives and keeps asking him to stop torturing these people and get their moon back to its proper place. Q insists that he has nothing to do with it. Q complains about how ordinary it is to be Human. For instance, not realizing what "sleep" is, he describes it as suddenly feeling weak and being no longer able to stand, and feeling the life oozing out from him. Q finally convinces Picard that he can help return the moon to its natural orbit with his immense knowledge of spatial phenomena from all over the universe. Picard, still deep in doubt that Q is Human, releases him from the brig and assigns Data to keep him out of trouble.

In engineering, Q is not very helpful. He suddenly develops a back pain while bending over looking at the moon's orbit at the master systems display table. Data calls for medical assistance. While Dr. Crusher is en route, Q suggests to Geordi La Forge that he merely change the gravitational constant of the universe, thereby altering the mass of the moon. That suggestion is quickly dismissed as impossible. Dr. Crusher arrives to treat Q, vocalising that she is not particularly sympathetic. She diagnoses classic back muscle spasms and treats him, not particularly gently, leading to Q grumbling about her bedside manner. La Forge realizes that they could wrap a low-level warp field around the moon, thus reducing its gravitational constant, making it lighter so they can push it. Q replies that he is glad he could help. Once Dr. Crusher has treated him, he starts to complain of a noisy stomach that, as Dr. Crusher tells him, is probably a sign that he is hungry.

Guinan and Data, 2366

"The captain and many of the crew are not yet convinced he is truly Human."

Data takes Q to Ten Forward to get something to eat. Sitting together at the lounge's bar, Q asks Data what he eats and since Data doesn't "eat" in the traditional sense, he suggests something chocolate to Q, as it is Deanna Troi's favorite food when she's in a bad mood. Q orders ten chocolate sundaes; Data notes that's likely excessive, but Q says he is in a terrible mood, and reasons that since he has never consumed food before, he must be hungry enough to eat it all. Guinan enters, which gives Q a sense of uneasiness as this is not a moment he was looking forward to. Guinan had already heard the news that Q was exiled from the Continuum. Q retorts that he thinks of it as merely a career change. Data explains Q's transformation to Guinan and tells her the crew is not entirely convinced Q is truly Human. Guinan then calmly stabs his hand with a fork to test if he's really mortal. Q reacts in excruciating pain. Guinan responds that Q seems Human enough to her.

Q protests Picard making Guinan a member of the crew instead of him, calling her dangerous. Guinan recounts how Q used to be omnipotent and terrorized countless species for his own amusement. She recommend that Q now learn how to be a mortal, citing Data as a prime example of someone to learn from. Guinan calls Q a pitiful excuse for a Human, and that the only way he would survive is on the charity of others. Q's sundaes then arrive, but his encounter with Guinan has made him lose his appetite.

Calamarain attack Q in Ten Forward

"Somebody help me!"

At the same time, the Enterprise sensors pick up a cloud of energetic plasma, noted to have a highly organized structure. The ship's computer picks up a signal from it, proof of intelligence, but is unable to translate.

While Q sulks miserably at a table in Ten Forward, the Calamarain, a species Q tormented in the past, tries to kill him to return the favor. The crew is able to repel them with enhanced shields and Q screams for help, while Guinan looks down on him lying on the floor, remarking "How the mighty have fallen."

Act Three[]

While elaborating about the Calamarain in the observation lounge, Q is forced to admit that for all his protestations of friendship, his real reason for being on the Enterprise is protection. He insists that he did not do the Calamarain any injustice, that they are intelligent beings, even if flighty. Riker accuses him of having tortured the Calamarain and hence they are after him. Riker supposes that since Q has made many enemies over his lifetime as an omnipotent being, the Enterprise would spend all its time fighting off the enemies of Q, which is not the job that Riker or Picard signed up for.

Enterprise tractors Bre'el moon

Putting the plan in motion

Nonetheless, his knowledge is still useful in the task of moving the moon, as Data states. When Q gets to engineering, he thinks that because he has knowledge of how to move the moon, he is in charge. When La Forge tells him what to do, Q is indignant, unaccustomed to taking orders. Data tells him that it would be his wisest course of action to listen to La Forge, as he is in charge. During their attempt to surround the moon in a warp field, the Calamarain attack again, nearly killing Q. Data intervenes at great peril to himself and though he saves Q from being pulled through the hull, he himself is nearly electrocuted. He and Q both collapse to the floor in engineering, in front of the warp core.

Act Four[]

Q on viewscreen

"I don't want to be rescued."

In sickbay, Dr. Crusher and La Forge work on fixing Data, Crusher noting that if he'd been Human he'd be dead. Q tells her not to be so melodramatic, as he's Human and survived the incident. Picard rebukes him for not appearing to care that Data saved his life. Picard evicts Q from sickbay and then exits himself. Riker asks La Forge about the situation with the moon. La Forge confirms that their recent attempt has bought them another orbit at most, but they can try again when the moon reaches its perigee. Both of them, though, realize that the Calamarain will simply attack as soon as they lower their shields. La Forge bluntly tells Riker that Q is just not worth protecting any longer.

Q talks to Picard, who is drinking a cup of tea in his ready room, and admits that he cannot understand why Data would risk sacrificing himself. Going over the incident in his mind, Q is forced to admit that if the positions had been reversed and he had to endanger himself to save Data, he wouldn't have and that makes him feel deep shame. Picard gives Q short shrift, reminding him that all he ever did was bring misery and torment to the crew and he still isn't convinced Q isn't just playing some grand joke. Q insists that the joke is on him, and concludes that being Human has made him a miserable coward – a situation he cannot carry on with.

After, Q goes back to sickbay to check on Data. Doctor Crusher and La Forge are still continuing to repair him and Data is unable to speak. Q tells Data that for all as much as he covets Humanity, he's missing nothing… but regardless, Data makes a better Human than he does. Q knows the ship and planet will never be safe as long as he is on board the Enterprise, so he takes the Type 7 shuttlecraft Sakharov and leaves the ship to distract the Calamarain.

Perfectly good shuttle

"It's a perfectly good shuttle craft."

The Enterprise crew see Q is being chased again by the Calamarain but, against their better instincts, try to save him. However all attempts of trying to beam him back on board, extending the shields to the shuttlecraft, and putting a tractor beam on it fail. The Calamarain are closing on Q in the Sakharov.

Act Five[]

Q2 on shuttle


All attempts to rescue Q fail as Q2, who had Q stripped of his powers and has been watching him to see how he reacted, admits he has disabled the Enterprise's systems. He enters the Sakharov and notes Q's display of selflessness by being prepared to sacrifice himself. Frustrated, Q2 says he cannot go back to the Q Continuum and tell the others that Q was selfless just before he died because it would result in centuries of questions. So he gives Q his powers back, warning him to stay out of trouble; Q is about to seek revenge on the Calamarain, but Q2 pops in again with a warning, so Q puts the Calamarain back, blowing them away like a candle.

With no sign of the Calamarain, or the shuttle, the Enterprise crew assumes they are dead, and Picard suggests that they had seen the last of Q. However, Q then appears on the bridge as a trumpet-player with a mariachi band, making cigars appear in Picard's and Riker's mouths, and materializing around Riker a pair of scantily-clad women to celebrate. After Riker denounces Q's materializing the scantily-clad females, Q tells him he wasn't "so stolid" before he grew his beard. Q then transfers the women to Worf instead. Picard snaps at him to stop everything and Q protests that he "feels like celebrating", while Picard retorts "I don't!". Q takes away both the females and the mariachi band, leaving only himself, wearing a uniform identical to Picard's.

Laughing Data

Q's going-away present

Q, understanding that he has, once again, overstayed his welcome, declares that, as a Human, he was "ill-equipped to thank you; but, as myself, you have my everlasting gratitude." However, before he leaves, he decides to give Data a gift to thank him for saving his life. Data, believing Q is about to make him Human, is about to refuse but Q assures the android he would never inflict the 'curse' of Humanity upon him, but just wishes to give him a little "going-away present" – Q then disappears, and a few seconds later Data is overcome by a burst of uncontrollable laughter, much to the bridge crew's surprise (and, in a couple of cases, amusement). After several seconds, it stops, and while Data doesn't know what he was laughing at he states it was still a wonderful "feeling". Just then, a grateful message comes in from Bre'el IV, thanking a confused Picard for saving them. Their moon has been returned to its correct orbit, which Worf and Data confirm. 

Realizing that Q did this, and with no further threat to Bre'el IV, the captain orders a set course for Station Nigala IV. Picard muses that there may be a residue of Humanity left in Q, but just as he begins to give the command to engage, a lit cigar suddenly appears in his hand, containing an image of Q within the smoke, who advises Picard not to bet on it.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"…Red alert!"

- Picard, when Q appears on the Enterprise bridge nude

"… in all the universe, you're the closest thing I have to a friend, Jean-Luc."

- Q, followed by "the look" from Picard

"Human or not, I want no part of you!"

- Picard, to Q

"Return that moon to its orbit!"
"I have no powers! Q, the ordinary!"
"Q, the liar! Q, the misanthrope!"
"Q, the miserable! Q, the desperate! What must I do to convince you people?"
"Oh, very clever, Worf. Eat any good books lately?"

- Picard, Q and Worf

"How the mighty have fallen."

- Q crying helplessly on the floor in Ten Forward while Guinan looks on

"There are creatures in the universe who would consider you the ultimate achievement, android. No feelings, no emotions, no pain. And yet you covet those qualities of Humanity. Believe me, you're missing nothing... but if it means anything to you, you're a better Human than I."

- Q, to an injured Data

"As I learn more and more what it is to be Human, I am more and more convinced that I would never make a good one. I don't have what it takes… without my powers I'm frightened of everything. I'm a coward… and I'm miserable. And I can't go on this way."

- Q, talking to Picard in his ready room

"Who does he think he is giving me orders?!"
"Geordi thinks he is in command here. And he is correct."

- Q and Data

"Sacrificing yourself for these Humans? Do I detect a little selfless act?"
"You flatter me. I was only trying to put a quick end to a miserable existence."

- Q2 and Q

"I've been keeping track of you."
"I always felt you were in my corner."
"Actually, I was the one who got you kicked out. You know, you're incorrigible, Q. You're a lost cause. I can't go to a single solar system without having to apologize for you, and I'm tired of it!"

- Q2 and Q

"Now you and I both know that the Calamarain would eventually have destroyed the Enterprise to get to you, and that's really why you left, right?"
"It was a… teeny bit selfless, wasn't it?"
"GRRR! Yeah, and there's my problem! See, I can't got back to the Continuum and tell them that you committed a selfless act just before the end! If I do there's gonna be 'questions', there's gonna be 'explanations' for centuries!"

- Q2 and Q

(to the Calamarain in the palm of his hand) "If you think I tormented you in the past, my little friends, wait until you see what I do with you now."
"I was just seeing if you were…still watching." (gently blows the Calamarain away)

- Q and Q2

"Au contraire, mon capitaine! HEEEE'S BAAAAACK!"

- Q, just after he appears on the bridge with a mariachi band

"I'm immortal again! Omnipotent again!"

- Q and Riker

"But I feel like celebrating."
"I DON'T!"

- Picard and Q

"Perhaps there is a… residue of Humanity in Q after all."
"Don't bet on it, Picard."

- Jean-Luc Picard and Q, who mischievously causes a lit cigar to materialize in Picard's hand

Background information[]

Production history[]

Story and script[]

  • Michael Piller recalled, "Our first take on it was that Q lost his powers, came on board and we developed a whole story about how we were about to come into a war with the Klingons. It turns out that Q didn't really lose his powers after all, he was just playing with us and pulling our strings just so that he could make himself a hero, become an officer and prove his value. It wasn't a bad story, but ultimately we sat down with Gene and Rick, and Gene said, 'If you're going to do a story – Godlike and brought to Earth – then do it. Do a story about what it's like to lose everything that you are and having to discover your own Humanity.' He kind of threw cold water on us and suggested we do it straight forward and that's what we did. We made it a comedy, we made it fun, but I think it has some extraordinary things to say about Humanity." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 191)
  • Melinda Snodgrass remarked, "I always think of Q as Loki. He's chaos. Maury Hurley always thought Q was here to teach us a lesson, to guide and instruct us. I can understand that to some extent, but I really see him as a mischief maker. He really just wants to foul Picard's head." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 191)


Filming Deja Q

Brent Spiner and John de Lancie filming a scene

  • John de Lancie considered the bridge scenes of this episode among his hardest to film. His simulated trumpet playing took several takes, and with no way found to fake the scene in which he appears suspended in the nude, he had to do it au naturel. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 114)
  • de Lancie had been provided with a g-string for modesty before it was determined that the shot would not work otherwise. Visual effects supervisor Dan Curry remembered, "It's one of the few shots we've done that came out looking exactly like the storyboard. I'd picked the spot for the camera in advance, and the scene played out just as I drew it. The script said 'Q appears nude.' We planned to have John de Lancie lay on a wooden board that couldn't be seen due to Patrick Stewart's position in the shot. As we were prepping the shot, John showed up on the set with his bathrobe on. When we were ready to go, he dropped his bathrobe and he was stark naked. That caused… ummmm… a bit of a stir." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 134)
  • The Calamarain effect was created by Curry using a sophisticated laser rig rented for one day. A range of footage was produced during that day, which he described as one of the most enduring investments he ever made: it became used as elements in anything from nebulae to phaser hits, alien transporter elements and creatures, as well as making up part of the tractor beam used in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. (Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 4 DVD special features)
  • A brief reaction shot of Troi in the observation lounge when Q informs the crew about the Calamarain is taken from "Evolution", twelve episodes prior.

Props and costumes[]


  • The Mariachi band plays the folk-song "La Paloma". The English version is called "No More", and was made popular by Elvis Presley in the movie Blue Hawaii (1961).
  • Composer Dennis McCarthy talks about his work for "Deja Q" in the article "Dennis McCarthy – Music for the Stars" in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 14, pp. 7-9. The spotting session was held shortly before New Year's Day 1990 and had, like almost always, no visual and sound effects in it. The recording session was held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, 19 January 1990 at the 20th Century Fox Scoring Stage, where The Next Generation was recorded since Paramount Pictures closed down their own stage during the second season. The orchestra for "Deja Q" required 12 violins, four cellos, four bass, one flute, one oboe, one B-Flat clarinet, three horns, two trombones, three trumpets, two pianos, one guitar and one percussion. Armin Steiner mixed together all of the instruments onto a single stereo recording at a master control board. For this episode he had a total of 17 music cues, which add up to about 18 minutes and the orchestra finished at 5:00 p.m. McCarthy then had the task to rerecord the trumpet play of actor John de Lancie and fill it into "La Paloma".


  • This episode marks the first appearance by another member of the Q Continuum (Q2) besides "our" Q. Other members of the Continuum would later appear in "True Q" and various episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
  • Q's willingness to sacrifice himself to prevent the Enterprise from suffering the consequences of his behavior is later mirrored by his son in the Voyager episode "Q2". However, the Continuum is less sympathetic that time, and forces Q to maintain eternal oversight over Junior.
  • Berthold rays were previously referred to in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "This Side of Paradise".
  • Picard calls Q a liar and Worf asserts, "You have fooled us too often, Q," but it is not clear what they are referring to; an examination of Q's previous appearances shows that while he doesn't always show his hand, he doesn't outright lie, either. In "Hide And Q", for example, he doesn't reveal the purpose of the "game" while the crew is playing it, but once Riker's powers are revealed, he is straightforward about his intentions.



  • This episode was nominated for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Editing for a Series – Single Camera Production (Robert Lederman) and for Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects.

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest star[]

And special guest star[]


Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt doubles[]



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External links[]

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