Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Hero Worship redirects here; for the concept, please see hero worship.

Data helps the only survivor of a wrecked ship, a child, cope with the loss of his parents. Meanwhile, the crew investigates the cause of the wreck.



"Captain's log, stardate 45397.3. Two days ago, Starbase 514 lost contact with the research vessel Vico, which was sent to explore the interior of a black cluster. We are en route to investigate."

The USS Enterprise-D arrives at the designated coordinates of the black cluster, scanning for the Vico within the cluster. The vessel appears to be adrift and the sensors detect no life signs. The Vico has experienced multiple hull breaches, but it is determined that it is barely safe enough for an away team to beam over. Riker, La Forge, and Data beam on board the vessel. While on board, they find a young boy caught under the wreckage of the damaged ship.

Act One

"Captain's Log, supplemental. A young boy shielded from our initial sensor scans has been discovered pinned beneath a fallen beam. The degree of damage to the Vico is making our rescue attempt difficult."

Because the area where the boy is trapped is protected by several layers of shielding and victurium, he cannot be beamed out from under the wreckage. Data says he can lift it away, but that may quicken the imminent hull breach, so he advises Riker and La Forge to beam back ahead of him. When the boy wonders how Data can lift the heavy wreckage, Data tells him he is an android, not a normal man. Working together, Data frees the boy and they run to an unshielded corridor, allowing them to be beamed away by Hutchinson moments before the hull collapses.

The boy, Timothy, turns out to be the only survivor of the ship. He tells Data and Crusher that the ship was attacked and boarded by another vessel. Geordi reports that the away team found his mother's body underneath some wreckage in another part of the ship, while his father was likely blown out into space when the bridge was exposed. Seriously traumatized, Timothy initially only trusts Data. Counselor Troi advises Data that "his world is gone," and the crew must help him to make a new one.

Act Two

La Forge and Data are examining the files transferred from the Vico. It appears some EM pulse hit the ship and damaged its databanks, erasing 83% of its data, including sensor logs. They start a structural analysis while Data asks La Forge about whether he has experienced a traumatic event. Data learns that a support structure is important for young children.

Timothy has trouble blending in and appears to be suppressing his traumatic experience on board the Vico. While learning mythology in class, Timothy ignores the lesson and continues with a model of the Dokkaran Temple of Kural-Hanesh from their sculpture class. On the bridge, the crew learns that the vessel was attacked with disruptor-style weapons, and an attack style consistent with cloaked vessel. They suspect the Romulans, Klingons, or Breen. However, the ship wasn't boarded, so Timothy is not being truthful for some reason. Counselor Troi advises Data to spend time with him, given that the boy only seems to feel comfortable around Data.

Data goes to Timothy's quarters, and recognizes the model he's building. Timothy is happy about the model, but then dismayed when Data innocently critiques the structure. Data attempts to comfort him when he is called by La Forge to Engineering and has to leave. Before leaving, Data decides to quickly build the model of the Temple with his super speed. Timothy is amazed by Data and asks how he does that. Data responds by saying that he is an android and was designed to exceed Human capacity, both mentally and physically. He further states that he does not possess the ability to experience emotions like Humans do. Timothy seems intrigued by the notion of not feeling happiness or sadness. He begins to emulate Data.

Act Three

In the observation lounge, the senior staff review new findings. The cluster has unpredictable gravitational regions, and Picard decides to traverse them to understand what happened to the Vico. Troi says she will meet with Timothy soon to attempt to get more information.

Counselor Troi checks in on Timothy and takes him to Ten Forward. Timothy claims to be an android, employing many of Data's mannerisms.

Speaking with Captain Picard in the Ready Room, Troi describes this phenomenal healing process, that Timothy has found a new way to suppress his trauma, and that this behavior will eventually drop off as Timothy grows stronger. Troi suggests Picard that this process should be encouraged. Picard, in turn, requests that Data help make Timothy the best android possible. Data then begins teaching him how to be an android. While Data fixes Timothy's hair to look like his own, Timothy, in trepidation, asks what was the scariest thing Data has ever faced, to which he replies that he does not possess the quality of fear. Timothy then asks Data what would do if he had a nightmare. Data explains that he does not have dreams, as he does not require sleep. Data realizes why Timothy was asking these questions. He asks Timothy if he had been having disturbing dreams. Timothy replies that he does not need sleep.

Data would accompany Timothy, such as when getting a check-up with Dr. Crusher, and painting with him. Data tells Timothy during their painting session that he can talk to him about anything he wants. When he falls asleep painting, Data lies Timothy on his sofa.

Act Four

The Enterprise enters the cluster, and experiences gentle nudges as the gravitational fronts affect the ship. Worf sees a ship on his sensors, but it appears to be reflections of the ship itself.

Meanwhile, Data and Troi observe Timothy having a laugh at school. Troi believes Data's work is not done, however, and encourages him to talk to Timothy about his desire to be Human. In Ten Forward, they share in some dessert, and Timothy finds that Data cannot enjoy food like he can.

Picard orders Worf to perform various scans, but they get refracted by the waves. Picard performs an experiment by firing phasers into the cluster. They are refracted, even when fired at full intensity. Picard asks Data whether a disruptor-style weapon would also be ineffective, and Data says yes; likewise, a ship's cloaking device would be impossible to maintain. The evidence before them is clear: Vico could not have been attacked inside the nebula.

They call Counselor Troi to bring Timothy to the ready room. There they once again ask Timothy what happened to his ship. He insists that they were attacked. Data then tells Timothy "androids do not lie." Breaking down, Timothy tells them that it was him, that he "killed them all."

Act Five

Timothy explains that while the ship was being impacted, he lost his balance and his arm hit a computer panel in Engineering, just before the ship was destroyed. Timothy believes he must have caused the ship's destruction, but they tell him that it was impossible for him to have done so just by hitting a computer panel, as there were safety protocols. While Picard, Data and Troi try to reassure the boy that he is not responsible, they are all left with wondering what really caused the Vico's destruction.

The Enterprise then shakes and Timothy says that this is how it started on the Vico as well. The wave front intensity increases and Commander Riker orders that Worf raise the shields to 75%. The ship is then shaken again harder than before. Picard comes out of his ready room and orders Ensign Felton to bring the Enterprise full about and engage at warp 2, but the ship's engines have been disabled by the cluster. They continue to increase shield strength. Timothy remembers hearing the same demand for increased shield strength aboard the Vico before it was destroyed. Developing a theory, Data leads Timothy to the science station at the aft section of the bridge and begins running a rapid analysis.

Despite the increased shield strength, the Enterprise is hit even harder, and Picard orders warp power transferred to the shields, something which Timothy also remembers hearing. The transfer is made, and an enormously powerful wave front is fifteen seconds from impact when Data tells the captain to drop the shields. Riker objects that that is suicide, but Data, deathly serious, repeats his recommendation. Picard orders the shields be lowered, and the wave front barely rocks the ship. Data then explains that their own shields caused the increases in the wave front. If they had maintained the shield strength with warp power, they would have been torn apart. Data says that this was also the cause of the Vico's destruction. Thanks to Timothy's memory and Data's own speedy analysis, the same disaster was averted on the Enterprise.

Outside the schoolroom, Data and Troi talk about Timothy. Troi says he still has a lot of pain but he is a boy again. Data talks to Timothy. Timothy says he misses his parents but that he is all right. He also says that Data must have thought it was pretty silly when he was imitating him; but Data responds by saying that he has often heard that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Timothy asks if they can still do things together and Data says he would be happy to count Timothy among his friends. "That would be... acceptable", Timothy replies with his android persona.

Log entries

Memorable quotes

"I am designed to exceed Human capacity. That is correct."

- Timothy, imitating Data

"His world is gone, Data. We're gonna have to help him build a new one."

- Troi, on the tragedy of Timothy losing both his parents on the Vico

"Data, I would like you to make Timothy the best android he can possibly be."

- Picard

"Timothy, your head movements are counter-productive. Can you be still?"
"But you do it."
"The servo mechanisms in my neck are designed to approximate Human movements. I did not realize the effect was so distracting."

- Data and Timothy

"You sound like you don't want to be an android."
"I am an android. That will never change."

- Timothy and Data

"I would gladly risk feeling bad at times, if it also meant that I could taste my dessert."

- Data, discussing advantages of being Human

"We were attacked! We were attacked!"

- Timothy

"Impact in fifteen seconds."
"Sir, drop the shields."
"That's suicide, Data!"
"Captain. Drop the shields."

- Worf, Data, and Riker

"I have many Human friends. I would be pleased to count you among them."
"That would be… acceptable."

- Data and Timothy

Background information

Story and script


Patrick Stewart painting

Stewart painting on the set

Cast and characters

  • Michael Piller saw this episode as a good example of how the character of Deanna Troi was expanded in later seasons. He commented, "I think 'Hero Worship' and, as a whole, this has been a very good season for Deanna Troi. We have used her as a counselor as well as she has ever been used. She certainly had more time on screen and what I think has come out of it is proof that she is really a wonderful actress and has levels of credibility and truth on the screen. I'm a big fan of hers and she really rose to the challenge this year." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 236) He also joked, "Jeri Taylor and I say that since we've been here the counseling scenes have become much more numerous and realistic. But that experience doesn't come from practicing – it comes from being a patron!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 188)
  • In contrast, writer Joe Menosky commented, "It was a Troi-heavy episode, and I had a love/hate relationship with Troi. Loved the actress, but hated the character. I used to say that having a full-time therapist on board the Enterprise – in a command position no less – would date our series more than any other story element. And in retrospect, that was true." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 238)
  • Harley Venton appears as Ensign Hutchinson in this episode. He previously played another transporter chief, Collins, in "Ensign Ro".

Sets and props

  • The landscape scene Data paints in this episode was in fact one created by Dan Curry in central California. ("Memorable Missions" ("Hero Worship"), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature) Curry explained, "I thought it would be fun if Brent was painting one of my own works […] The art department made a print on canvas that looked slightly unfinished so Brent could dab paint on it." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 239)



Production history

Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars


Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double

Stand-ins and photo doubles


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External links

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Star Trek: The Next Generation
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