Minuet was a sultry female hologram and character created in the holodeck of the USS Enterprise-D. She was created by Commander William T. Riker in 2364. Minuet, who was highly astute and self-aware, existed within the confines of a program of the Bourbon Street Bar, a New Orleans jazz club set in the year 1958. (TNG: "11001001")
Wishing to play some music, Riker specified the location and requested an audience for the program. Initially the system created a full crowd, but Riker reduced the audience to one, a woman. The system created the female character first as a blonde, but Riker changed her appearance to that of a redhead because - as he said - "blondes and jazz seldom go together". The character was further revised at his request that she appear "sultry" until her final configuration was set. (TNG: "11001001")
Prior to the program's initiation, the holodeck had been upgraded by the Bynars and it was immediately clear that Minuet was different from any other holodeck character. Riker found her unbelievably realistic and intuitive, a view shared by Captain Picard. Minuet was able to adapt to subtle visual and audio cues given off by the people in the holodeck. She spoke French to Captain Picard after hearing his name, despite not being programmed to do so, and made other slight adjustments to her personality and actions in order to provide the most realistic companion possible. The result was that Riker found Minuet to be fascinating, almost "too real", and realized that he could fall in love with her just as with a real woman. However, she seemed to be aware of her status as a computer program; for example, when Picard marveled that she responded in French merely upon hearing his name, she responded that she accessed the French language database from the ship's computer. (TNG: "11001001")
However, it transpired that Minuet was programmed by the Bynars to distract Riker while they took control of the Enterprise in an effort to save the main computer of their homeworld. When Picard and Riker tried to leave the holodeck, Minuet tried to stop them before ultimately revealing the details of the situation. The Bynars provided her program with information that allowed Riker and Picard to help them save their world if their own attempts failed. After the Enterprise had been safely returned to Starbase 74, Riker returned to the holodeck to her program, only to find that the enhanced Minuet character had disappeared. In her place, another short-haired brunette appeared, who both by personality and appearance was nowhere near the Minuet Riker had interacted with while the Bynars were in charge. His attempts to recreate her failed and he was deeply disappointed. (TNG: "11001001")
After an accident during an away mission in 2367, Riker was stranded on Alpha Onias III with a lonely alien known as Barash who created an elaborate deception, making Riker believe that sixteen years had passed since his accident in 2367 and that he was the Captain of the Enterprise-D. In the reality Barash had created for Riker based on Riker's memories, 'Minuet' was his wife, Min Riker. The fact that a holographic figure he was so enticed with was supposed to be his flesh-and-blood wife alerted Riker that this reality was not real at all. Apparently, Barash mistook Riker's strong feelings for Minuet as meaning that she was a real woman and not a holodeck character. (TNG: "Future Imperfect")
"What's your name, and tell me you love jazz."
"My name is Minuet, and I love all jazz - except Dixieland."
"Why not Dixieland?"
"You can't dance to it."
- - Riker and Minuet, upon meeting each other
"Au fond c'est vrai, nous sommes tous parisiens." ("Deep down, it is true: we are all Parisians")
- - Minuet to Captain Picard'
Minuet is the first appearance in Star Trek canon of a Starfleet-created hologram who is self-aware and described as more capable than a "standard" hologram due to an adaptive nature. Later examples are Moriarty, the USS Voyager's holographic doctor, and Vic Fontaine.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation short story "Of Cabbages and Kings" (part of the anthology Strange New Worlds), the Enterprise - which had developed sentience but realized it had to give that sentience up to avoid being dismantled - preserved itself by downloading its new programming into the Minuet program.
In the Star Trek: Titan novel Synthesis, Minuet's program was relocated to the holodecks on board USS Titan. It was the core of the Avatar program when the ship's computer ascended to become an artificial intelligence with her own agenda.