Q was a highly powerful entity from a race of godlike beings known as the Q.
- 1 History
- 2 Q's disguises
- 3 Locations "created" by Q
- 4 Appendices
Q appeared to the crews of several Starfleet vessels and outposts during the 2360s and 2370s. As a consequence, all command level officers in Starfleet were briefed on his existence thereafter. One such briefing was attended by Benjamin Sisko in 2367. (DS9: "Q-Less") Q typically appeared as a humanoid male, though he could take on other forms if he wished, and was almost always dressed in the uniform of a Starfleet captain. (VOY: "Death Wish")
In every appearance, he demonstrated superior capabilities, but also a mindset that seemed quite unlike what Federation scientists expected for such a powerful being. He had been described, in turn, as "obnoxious," "interfering," and a "pest." However, underneath his acerbic attitude, there seemed to be a hidden agenda to Q's visits that often had the best interests of Humanity at their core.
"Temper, temper, mon capitaine; I'm merely trying to assist a pitiful species."
Picard and the Enterprise-D
Q was first encountered by the Federation when he appeared aboard the USS Enterprise-D in early 2364. He warned the crew of the Enterprise that Humanity should return to their home star system or be destroyed.
When he encountered resistance, Q placed Humanity on trial, with Jean-Luc Picard and his command crew as representatives. Q accused Humanity of being a "dangerous, savage child-race." Picard managed to strike a deal with Q, however, and submitted to a test of conduct to prove that Humanity had evolved beyond its previously savage state.
The Enterprise's mission to Farpoint Station served as this test. The Starfleet crew sufficiently proved their evolved state of being by discovering and assisting a space vessel lifeform that had been coerced by the Bandi to take the form of a starbase. Q disappeared but promised the crew they had not seen the last of him. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")
The next time Q appeared on the Enterprise later that year, he created a bizarre and deadly "game" for the ship's crew, in order to demonstrate that he had given Commander William T. Riker Q-like abilities. His motives for this were that Humans had a desire to grow and explore, which the Q did not have or understand. Q wanted Riker to join the Continuum so they could understand and possess this desire because if they did not, Humanity could one day surpass the Q.
Q and Picard settled on a bet that, if Riker rejected his offer, the Q would leave Humanity alone forever. Ultimately, Riker rejected these new powers, and Q was forced back into the Continuum. (TNG: "Hide and Q")
Q's third appearance on the Enterprise was in 2365. He presented himself as homeless and expressed an interest in joining Picard's crew, his reason being that Humanity would eventually push into uncharted territory and would need a guide as they were ill-prepared to face what they would find. He even offered to renounce his powers to prove that his offer was genuine. However, when Picard vehemently declined (inspired by thinking that Humanity could handle any threat), Q hurled the Enterprise into the path of a Borg cube. Ultimately, Picard had to beg for Q's help in escaping from the pursuit of the Borg ship. (TNG: "Q Who")
In that encounter, Q alluded to a past association with Enterprise bartender Guinan. She declined to elaborate on the nature of their relationship, other than to express an extreme dislike for Q. Based on Q's reactions, the sentiment seemed mutual. (TNG: "Q Who")
In 2366, Q was stripped of his power and immortality and transformed into a Human by the Q Continuum, as punishment for his irresponsibility. He sought refuge on the Enterprise, and requested asylum and protection from the beings in the universe whom he had tormented. Though Captain Picard and the rest of the crew were unconvinced of the sincerity of Q's plea and indeed suspected the entire situation was merely an elaborate prank, Picard agreed to provide Q temporary asylum. During a visit to Ten Forward (almost humorously), Guinan took advantage of the situation and stabbed Q in the hand with a fork. Though not a scientist, Q provided theoretical guidance for Geordi La Forge's analysis of Bre'el IV's moon, which was in danger of colliding with its planet of orbit. During that time, Data was assigned to watch Q and Q gained an unusual perspective on Humanity and its condition from observing Data, in turn. However, after a Calamarain attack nearly destroyed Data (who risked his life to protect Q), Q became ashamed of his newly-discovered lack of empathy for other beings, and resolved to leave on a shuttle, allow the Calamarain to kill him, and prevent further risk to the Enterprise crew. Another Q intervened at that point, acknowledged Q's selfless act and restored his powers as a reward. In gratitude, Q corrected the orbit of the moon and also gave a special gift to Data, his "professor of the Humanities", a brief moment of genuine laughter. (TNG: "Deja Q")
Meeting Vash and acting as benefactor
In 2367, the Enterprise crew encountered a woman claiming to be the mythical Ardra of Ventax II. Her demonstrations of omnipotent power resembled those of Q, to the extent that the Enterprise crew speculated that she might be of the Q Continuum or perhaps Q himself. Picard pointed out that the woman's obsession with the Contract of Ardra was atypical of Q and her powers were later proved to be the product of sophisticated technology rather than any innate ability. (TNG: "Devil's Due")
Later, in 2367, Q returned to the Enterprise to "properly" thank Captain Picard for his role in helping him regain his standing in the Continuum. At the time, Picard was meeting a past lover named Vash (whom he had met on Risa) the year before. (TNG: "Captain's Holiday") Q resolved to teach Picard a lesson about love, and cast Picard, Vash, and the Enterprise command crew into an elaborate scenario styled by the ancient legend of Robin Hood. Q himself assumed the role of the High Sheriff of Nottingham. Ultimately, Picard learned and everyone was returned to the Enterprise. However, intrigued by Vash, Q offered to take her on a journey of exploration to various archaeological ruins of the galaxy and she accepted. To pay his debt to Picard, he promised no harm would come to Vash. (TNG: "Qpid")
In 2369, he once again appeared aboard the Enterprise-D, this time to instruct Amanda Rogers, a seemingly Human female who developed Q powers during an internship with Doctor Beverly Crusher. Shortly after Rogers' birth, the Continuum used a tornado to execute Rogers' parents, two Q who had assumed life as Humans on Earth, for being unable to resist using their powers while in Human guise. Although Q's petulant and acerbic attitude did little to ingratiate himself to Amanda, he eventually convinced her to go with him to the Continuum, to learn to use her new-found abilities. (TNG: "True Q")
A few months later, Q followed Vash back to the Alpha Quadrant, after the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole created a new avenue of travel between there and the Gamma Quadrant. Having had so much fun with Vash, Q wanted to continue exploring the galaxy, but Vash wanted nothing to do with him. While the two were at Deep Space 9, mysterious power drains were thought to be Q's doing, but they were, in fact, due to an embryonic lifeform that Vash had unknowingly returned from the Gamma Quadrant. Q had a brief confrontation with Commander Benjamin Sisko during his visit and disrupted an auction that Quark and Vash staged in Quark's. Though he was intrigued by Sisko hitting him as Picard never did, Q eventually became bored because "Sisko was so different than Picard," being so much easier to provoke. One might speculate that Q's actions were intended to ensure Vash's safety in regards to the promise that he had made to Picard two years earlier. In the end, Q and Vash went their separate ways, though both eventually admitted to retaining a certain fondness for each other. (DS9: "Q-Less")
Later that same year, Q appeared to Picard when the latter was critically injured in a Lenarian ambush. Appearing as "God", Q told Picard he died because of his artificial heart and offered him the chance to return to the incident in his youth, which allowed him to relive the events leading up to his near-fatal injury and change history. Though Picard was successful in changing history, he eventually realized the event – and his previous nature as an arrogant, brash young man – was a part of his identity, and had helped mold him into the successful Starfleet officer he became. Even though he was uncertain as to whether the experience had been real or simply a vision, Picard was grateful for Q's revelation. (TNG: "Tapestry")
In 2370, Q returned to the Enterprise to continue the trial against Humanity. Claiming the seven-year-old trial never actually ended, Q proclaimed Humanity guilty of "being inferior" and informed Picard that his race was to be destroyed. He sent him traveling through time to his own past and present, as well as to a potential future. In all three time periods, Picard was presented with a temporal paradox in the form of an eruption of anti-time in the Devron system. In that paradox, Picard himself was responsible for the creation of the anomaly, which propagated backward in normal time, anti-time having the opposite properties of normal time, thus destroying Humanity in the past.
In addition to sending Picard jumping through time, Q provided him with hints to understanding the nature of the paradox. Ultimately, Picard determined the solution and devised a way to close the anti-time anomaly in all three time periods. Following the success, Q revealed that the entire experience had been a test devised by the Continuum and had been aimed at determining whether Humanity was capable of expanding its horizons to understand some of the advanced concepts of the universe, including the potential of Humanity's own evolution – but helping Picard had been his idea. Q promised to continue watching Humanity and proclaimed that "the trial never ends." (TNG: "All Good Things...")
Janeway and Voyager
In 2372, Q was sent by the Continuum to board the USS Voyager, whose crew had unintentionally released a renegade Q from confinement in a rogue comet. When the other Q (later known as "Quinn") asked for asylum on Voyager in order to fulfill his wish to commit suicide, an act considered illegal in the Continuum, Q was permitted to represent the Continuum at a hearing to determine whether the requested asylum would be granted. Q argued that permitting a Q to commit suicide would cause unspeakable chaos and disorder – a profound irony, considering Q's own history as a prankster and renegade. When confronted with his past deeds, Q commented that [his] record has been expunged.
Ultimately, Quinn's arguments prevailed and he was made into a mortal being. Q himself was touched by Quinn's dedication and beliefs – Quinn had previously been an admirer of Q's because of Q's propensity to stir controversy and spread chaos – and actually provided Quinn with the means with which to commit suicide. Q resolved to return to some of his old habits and to encourage the Continuum to allow more chaos into their own order. (VOY: "Death Wish")
Following the death of Quinn, a massive Q Civil War broke out as the forces of the status quo resisted the calls for change in the Continuum, by a faction led by Q himself. Seeking to end the conflict, Q devised a plan to mate with Kathryn Janeway, the captain of Voyager, in order to create a new Q / Human hybrid – a new breed of Q that would help bring an end to the civil war. However, Janeway flatly refused.
Q kidnapped Janeway and took her to the Continuum, where he again tried to persuade her by explaining the nature of the conflict. However, Janeway again declined, though she openly sympathized with Q for his inability to understand love and tried to negotiate a truce between the two sides. However, those negotiations failed because the status quo faction refused to accept any terms other than surrender. They tried to execute both Q and Janeway, but they were stopped by personnel from Voyager, with the assistance of Q female, an old flame of Q's. Q and the female Q were able to equip Janeway and the rest of Voyager's crew with Q weapons, which they were able to use to battle the opposing status quo faction.
Q proposed mating with his old girlfriend instead of with Janeway and she agreed. The new child, nicknamed "Q junior," became the first child born in the Continuum for millennia and his presence brought an end to the civil war. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
Regardless, Q's child did not prove to become the perfect "savior" child he was meant to be; he grew into a spoiled brat and caused chaos and disorder. Q tried to briefly leave his son with "Aunt Kathy" aboard Voyager and hoped that Janeway's "vaunted Starfleet ideals" would rub off on him. Q himself began to learn more about the role of being a parent, revealing that much of Junior's actions were not punished properly by Q. However, after spending years with the child, Junior only began to behave worse. As a result, the Continuum stripped his son of his powers, left him aboard Voyager (again under the care of Janeway), and told him to change his ways within a week or he would be sentenced to spend eternity as an Oprelian amoeba.
Though Q was initially unimpressed by his son's progress, he devised a test of "Q-ness" to determine whether his son had improved his attitude. He masqueraded as a Chokuzan captain and threatened Junior and his friend Icheb after they took the Delta Flyer from Voyager. Junior passed with flying colors and offered to sacrifice himself to face the consequence of his actions, which had endangered Icheb.
However, the Continuum was not impressed by Junior's progress and sentenced him to remain a Human. Outraged, Q proclaimed he would leave the Continuum if his son was not allowed to rejoin – the pair was a "package deal". "Begging for [Q's] return" as a deterrent to instability, Q earlier stated that he "holds them all together", the Continuum acquiesced, on one condition – that Q retain eternal custody of the boy. Grateful for her assistance, Q provided Janeway with a map to a shortcut that would shave three years off Voyager's journey home. Janeway asked Q why he did not send them all the way back to Earth and his response was that it would be setting a bad example for his son if he did all the work for them. (VOY: "Q2")
Q's reputation preceded him aboard the USS Cerritos, when in 2380, he was referenced by Ensign Brad Boimler in a simile explaining the existence of his girlfriend, Lieutenant Barbara Brinson, whom he described as being "as real as a hopped-up Q on Captain Picard Day." (LD: "Cupid's Errant Arrow")
That same year, he made multiple appearances aboard Cerritos. At one point, while wearing a variation of his judge's garb, he abducted four members of the bridge crew to participate in one of his challenges. He dressed the crew up as chess pieces, and put them on a large chessboard, but had anthropomorphic playing cards holding hockey sticks as the opposing pieces, football goal posts at either end of the game board, and a singing, dancing soccer ball.
After the Cerritos left K'Tuevon Prime, Q appeared before Ensigns Beckett Mariner, Brad Boimler, Sam Rutherford, and D'Vana Tendi to challenge them. Mariner told him they were not in the mood and walked away, even as Q followed them and urged them – in vain – to continue, and lamented that he found Picard to be boring. (LD: "Veritas")
Locations "created" by Q
- A post-atomic horror courtroom of 2079 (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", "All Good Things...")
- The planet of the animal things (TNG: "Hide and Q")
- Sherwood Forest (TNG: "Qpid")
- The afterlife (TNG: "Tapestry")
- The puzzle planetoid (LD: "Veritas")
The idea of Q was conceived by Gene Roddenberry as a way to help fill out the events of "Encounter at Farpoint" from a one-hour to two-hour running time. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 28) The name "Q" was chosen by Roddenberry in honor of an English Star Trek fan named Janet Quarton. She was the first president of the UK Star Trek fan club, and Roddenberry and many others spent time at her home, in the Scottish highlands. (Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 191); )
Immediately after Roddenberry invented the character of Q, the other members of the TNG preproduction staff realized it was very reminiscent of the character Trelane from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Squire of Gothos". "We're all looking at each other, saying, 'It's Trelane [from the original series] all over again,'" remembered David Gerrold. "We all hated it and very gently suggested to Gene that it wasn't very good. Of course, this fell on deaf ears. He said, 'Trust me, the way I'll do it, the fans will love it.'" (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, p. 67)
In an interview, de Lancie likewise drew parallels between Q and Trelane, feeling Gene Roddenberry had explored his storehouse of effective creations in writing The Next Generation and had found one that would turn out to be highly successful again in The Next Generation.  In another interview, de Lancie stated that, upon thinking of ways to describe Q's character, he had remembered a famous quote made about Lord Byron: That he was "mad, bad, and dangerous to know." (Star Trek 25th Anniversary Special)
Minimal makeup was used for the character of Q. "We always defined Q with a little eye makeup and a little lip color, just to make him stand out," recalled Makeup Supervisor Michael Westmore. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 26)
Production designer Herman Zimmerman was influential in the depiction of Q as a judge presiding over a courtroom. In the script of "Encounter at Farpoint," Q seemed to be floating in that area, though none of the production crew could figure out precisely how to show Q floating without resorting to visual effects for every one of those shots. Ultimately, Zimmerman suggested putting de Lancie on a camera crane and bringing him into the courtroom out of a black hole, which was exactly how Q's arrival in that scene was shot. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 30)
The depiction of Q in "Encounter at Farpoint" turned out to be extremely popular. Yar actress Denise Crosby commented, "The character of Q, and the way John de Lancie was playing it, was really interesting." Rick Berman noted, "I think [Q] was certainly the most memorable element of that opening episode." "Encounter at Farpoint" Director Corey Allen remarked, "Q was so clearly a wonderful idea of Gene's, about the questions we all ask ourselves; he was the interrogator that each of us carries on our shoulder." Herman Zimmerman observed that his idea of having Q arrive in the courtroom on a camera crane "worked very well." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, pp. 19, 28 & 30)
Though a first draft script of TNG Season 1 episode "Hide and Q" that Maurice Hurley penned was substantially rewritten by Gene Roddenberry, the character of Q still intrigued Hurley thereafter. He thought of Q as an unreliable god and subsequently intended for him to feature in a story arc through the second season. Due to a writers' strike though, he was only returned in the Season 2 episode "Q Who" before Hurley left the series. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, pp. 52 & 53)
Rob Bowman, who got an opportunity to direct de Lancie as Q in "Q Who," enjoyed the experience, finding that de Lancie was easy to direct in the role. "He really had a grasp of the peculiarities of that character," Bowman remarked. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 95)
Though Q was a recurring character over a relatively long time, he was used sparingly by the Star Trek producers in case fans got tired of him. Gowron actor Robert O'Reilly once likened these circumstances to his own situation, regarding his portrayal of Gowron. (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 16, p. 22) Writing staffer Ronald D. Moore commented, "Q was a fascinating character, but I thought that he should be carefully rationed through the series. I thought if you played him about once a season, that was the most you wanted to use him." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 90, p. 17)
Devising Q stories challenged the writing staff of Star Trek: The Next Generation due to the character's omnipotence. Q could not be made completely into an adversary as he could simply wipe all the characters out of existence. The fact he was intended to be all-powerful also raised the question of why he even bothered with Humans and their allies. Both Ronald D. Moore and Jeri Taylor found it difficult to write for the character, though Moore also regarded doing so as "fun" because Q's extreme powers allowed the writers a wide variety of stories they could feature him in. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 113, p. 68)
Following Q's appearance in "Q-Less", the possibility of him making another visit to DS9 was dismissed by Ira Steven Behr, when he remarked, "I don't foresee Q being back on the show. To me, his relationship with Picard was gold. And I don't think we can top it." (AOL chat, 1997) Ron Moore agreed, "The secret to Q was the Q and Picard relationship. Q was in love with Picard, for some reason. That was the underpinning of the relationship, which was why, when he came to Deep Space Nine, he wasn't as effective a character. The weird love affair that he had going with Jean-Luc made that whole thing work, and it made 'Tapestry' work, and ultimately it made 'All Good Things...' work." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 90, p. 17)
In 2002, Q placed eleventh in TV Zone's list of the top twenty science fiction television villains, along with several other Star Trek characters; the Borg Queen was second, Dukat was fourth, Weyoun was eighth, and Seska was nineteenth. However, despite his listing, Q is not necessarily a villain, but more of an anti-hero.
Along with Quark, Morn, and Evek, Q is one of only four characters to appear in all of the first three Star Trek series based in the 24th century: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. Of these four, Q is the only one who did not appear in "Caretaker".
Of the thirteen Star Trek episodes featuring Q, eight of them use the letter "Q" in the title, often forming a pun.
Q was the first character to ever use the word "trek" in a Star Trek film or episode, which he does in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series finale "All Good Things...". However, Zefram Cochrane is the only character to utter the phrase "star trek," doing so in Star Trek: First Contact.
According to Q in the String Theory books, omnipotent beings were actually rather fond of games of choice and chance as it was only under those conditions that beings such as Q could feel the thrill of not being in total control.
Besides the character of Trelane having been an inspiration on the conception of Q in reality, they were both featured in Q-Squared, in which Trelane was actually described as a "child" member of the Q Continuum, even implied to be Q's own illegitimate son.
The reason for Q's original interest in Picard in particular was explained in the novel The Buried Age, which also revealed he chose to call himself "Q" as he felt that his original choice of 'The Inquisitor' would be too complicated for Humans to say regularly, speculating that, if ever asked why he called himself 'Q', he would reply, "Because U will always be behind me."
The audio play "Spock Vs. Q: The Sequel" suggested there was at least one individual "above" Q, naming herself "Petunia", who, in the play, seemed to have taken Q's powers and placed him, together with Spock, on an asteroid.
Q returned in the Star Trek: Ongoing story arc The Q Gambit. Beginning shortly after the events of Star Trek: Countdown, Q visits Picard on board the USS Enterprise-E, informing Picard that Spock still lived and that the black hole actually sent him into an alternate reality. When Q tries to discuss this timeline, Picard cuts him off, believing that the various timelines should remain separate from one another. Annoyed, Q reveals he had come for Picard's counsel as Spock had set off a chain of events that would doom that timeline. But since the former captain was uninterested, Q took his leave for the other timeline despite Picard's attempt to call him back. Materializing aboard the USS Enterprise on stardate 2261.34, Q introduces himself to James T. Kirk by way of masquerading as a security officer (and complimenting the shiny aesthetic of the ship).
To test Kirk's established lack of belief in a "no-win scenario", Q replicates the Kobayashi Maru scenario in an attempt to teach Kirk that no-win scenarios are a reality. Kirk is undaunted and reveals that no matter what, he does not believe in a no-win scenario. Q takes them both back in time to when Kirk died saving the Enterprise. As the two watch, Q asks Kirk if this constitutes Kirk beating the ultimate no-win scenario before revealing he will show Kirk a scenario where failure is a certainty. He then sends the Enterprise and its crew over a hundred years into the future where the Federation no longer exists and the Dominion established an alliance with the Cardassian Union and took over the Alpha Quadrant while existing in a state of cold war against the Klingon Empire.
Q sporadically appears to Kirk throughout the adventure, offering vague advice as well as assuring that he and his crew would not be confined to these dire circumstances forever. After Gul Dukat had merged with a Pah-wraith and intended to ascend to godhood, Q finally appears to Kirk and reveals to him the true magnitude of the stakes: The higher species are at war and the Q Continuum is on the verge of defeat. Galvanized by their victory over the Prophets, the Pah-wraiths have turned on their other neighbors. Not even the Q can stop their onslaught because in spite of all the power they wield in the three-dimensional universe, they are as powerless and clueless as Humans in their own realm. Unable to find a path to victory, Q left to seek the counsel of Picard on what action to take. But when he could not get an answer, Q intended to instead seek the counsel of Kirk for his experience in triumphing over no-win scenarios.
When Q, Kirk, Spock, and Sisko are brought aboard the Enterprise as prisoners, Dukat kills Sisko, who transfer the last Prophet to Spock, and Spock then transfers the Prophet into Q through a mind meld. This causes the two to merge into an even more powerful entity, one readily capable of quelling the Pah-wraith threat. After returning the Enterprise and its crew back to their proper places in time and making it so that only Kirk and Spock remember what happened throughout their ordeal, Q returns to Picard to inform him of his latest adventure. Flatly, Picard said he did not want to know.
Q and the Q Continuum appeared in the following non-canon works:
- Planet X
- I, Q
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - Q Continuum:
- Star Trek: New Frontier:
- Star Trek: Voyager - String Theory:
- The Buried Age
- The Eternal Tide
- Reference books:
- "All Good Things..."
- DC TNG volume 1:
- DC TNG volume 2:
- Star Trek Unlimited #7: "An Infinite Jest"
- Star Trek: Ongoing: