"It's a letter of the alphabet, as far as I know."
The exact circumstances of how the Q came to exist was unclear. While Quinn stated that the Q were once not unlike humanoid lifeforms, Q implied that the Q never came into existence, but rather, always were. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
The existence of the Q dated back no less than four billion years. They evolved over "countless centuries" into their current form and considered themselves to be the ultimate form of life, existing in a state of "ultimate purity".
However, this caused most of the Q to develop an apathetic attitude towards the universe as the Q believed that they already done and had experienced everything. As such, there was nothing left for them to see, do, experience, or discuss, because they had already done so at some point, ultimately leaving them feeling empty. (VOY: "Death Wish", "The Q and the Grey")
In one rare instance, a reprieve was experienced by Q in 2369, after spending two years in the Gamma Quadrant with Vash. He claimed that "seeing the universe through your eyes, I was able to experience wonder. I'm going to miss that." (DS9: "Q-Less")
As a result of the Q easily succumbing to their own boredom, many often acted on their own accord, often interfered – maliciously or otherwise – with the affairs of other species, not to mention the inner workings of the galaxy itself. One noted example among the Q included the time Q misplaced the Deltived asteroid belt. (TNG: "Deja Q")
Others occasionally started wars among innocent species. (VOY: "Death Wish", "Q2") Such as the time Q instigated a hundred-year war between the Vulcans and the Romulans. (VOY: "Death Wish") In another instance, Q pitted the Vojeans and Wyngari against one another for his own amusement. (VOY: "Q2")
Q had also intervened and influenced Human affairs, for what was essentially the positive, since at least the time of Isaac Newton, and included involvement in the American Civil War in the mid-19th century and assisted in indirectly saving Woodstock, during the mid-20th century. By the 21st century, the very same Q was finally imprisoned in a comet, purportedly for eternity, because his views topics such as suicide caused a disruption within the Continuum. (VOY: "Death Wish")
Around 2165, another Q "had some dealings" with the El-Aurian, Guinan, that left bitter feelings between the two. While Q claimed that Guinan was "not what she appears to be. She's an imp, and where she goes, trouble always follows;" Guinan, noted of Q, that he was often busy "frightening one race after the other, teasing them like frightened animals, and [..] enjoying every moment of [his] victims' fears."(TNG: "Q Who", "Deja Q")
First contact between the Federation and the Q occurred in 2364, when the crew of the USS Enterprise-D met Q, who proceeded to put Humanity on trial for "being a grievously savage child-race." (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint") Q visited the Enterprise seven times in all, including the time he introduced them to the Borg in 2365. (TNG: "Q Who") After his fourth, and around the time of his fifth visit in 2367, Starfleet held a briefing on Q, attended by Benjamin Sisko, among others. (DS9: "Q-Less") By 2371, every captain in Starfleet had been briefed about Q's appearances on the Enterprise, though apparently not shown what he looked like as Captain Janeway initially assumed Quinn was that particular Q. (VOY: "Death Wish")
Further aspects of 24th century interactions with the Q included involvement in a Q Civil War. The Q had come to fear the influence of Human compassion and curiosity into their otherwise timeless, apathetic, and stable culture. The war was incredibly destructive to this dimension and involved weapons which, during a firefight, incidentally caused the supernova of numerous stars. The war was ultimately ended upon the birth of Q Junior, restoring the Continuum to the status quo. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
The true extent of the abilities of the Q was as enigmatic as the Q themselves. On multiple occasions, the Q claimed to be omnipotent, but more specifically: ageless, all-knowing, and all-seeing. (TNG: "Q Who", "Deja Q")
According to Q, they did not experience claustrophobia, being "too hot or too cold, growing feeble with age, losing my hair, catching a disease, being ticklish, sneezing, having an itch, a pimple, bad breath. Having to bathe," having to sleep, experience hunger, much less eat, nor even stub their toe. (TNG: "Deja Q")
Contrarily, the dissident Quinn, once suggested that the Q were, in fact, not completely omnipotent. This was seemingly the case amongst their own kind, as they had demonstrated the ability to execute, or less lethally, conditionally grant and (temporarily) relieve the powers of others, as well as renounce their own powers; but not their mortality, and were therefore unable to commit suicide. (VOY: "Death Wish", "Q2"; TNG: "Hide and Q", "Q Who", "Deja Q", "True Q")
What was most evident about the Q were that their capabilities reached cosmic levels of power. With a mere thought, and a snap of their fingers or a wave of their hand, the Q had unlimited control over space, time, and matter. (VOY: "Q2")
An individual Q could accomplish such feats as traveling to a time and place that existed before and outside the universe itself, to other visiting other galaxies, tampering with primordial gene pools, punching holes in the fabric of spacetime, changing the gravitational constant of the universe, or accidentally destroying a galaxy, all on a whim. (TNG: "Deja Q", "True Q"; DS9: "Q-Less"; VOY: "Death Wish", "Q2")
Further examples of their cosmic feats included causing temporal anomalies (such as temporal loops), subspace inversions, knocking small planets out of orbit, restoring the orbit of a moon, completely restoring a polluted atmosphere to its natural form, or rearranging the tectonic plates of a planet. (TNG: "Deja Q", "True Q"; VOY: "The Q and the Grey", "Q2")
They possessed knowledge of the future, as well as knowledge of personal aspects of a person's life, such as knowing a mortal's favorite food, when they will encounter a previously unknown species, or when they will explore a particular region of space. (TNG: "Q Who", "Tapestry"; VOY: "Death Wish") They also possessed the power of suggestion. (DS9: "Q-Less")
They had the ability to grant and strip their powers to non-entities, such as was the opportunity given to William T. Riker, a Human who, in 2365, was bestowed with the powers of the Q. (TNG: "Hide and Q", "Q Who")
Similarly, they possessed the ability to alter a mortal's age, endow or deprive sight to the blind, physically mute an individual by fusing their jaw and removing their vocal cords, or completely change an individual into another species. (TNG: "Hide and Q", "True Q", "Q2")
They also possessed the ability to control technology, such as to inhibit a starship's transporter from operating, freeze the functionality of its shields, or simply transport a starship over vast distances of several thousand light years. (TNG: "Q Who", "Deja Q"; VOY: "Death Wish")
One unanticipated fallacy of Q, while in Human form, was his inability to anticipate, nor prove immune, to a punch delivered by Benjamin Sisko. (DS9: "Q-Less") Nevertheless, Q had the ability to give his own illusions, or so-called 'fantasies', a life of their own, by allowing himself to have "no more idea what's going to happen than [the next person]." (TNG: "Qpid")
One thing which Q normally did not do was mate with another Q, in fact, it was even claimed that "the Q are way beyond sex." When Kathryn Janeway suggested the idea of two Q mating to procreate, Q stated flatly that even if he wanted to mate, that he would not know how, as it was totally unprecedented. Janeway replied that he would figure it out, being omnipotent, after all. Ultimately, it involved simply touching forefingers (while in Human form), a method described as both "dirty" and satisfying. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
In spite of this, Q coupled and become involved with other Q. One example included the supposed three billion year involvement between Q and Q, be it one that was never physical. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
This did not, however, impede their ability to mate as other species. Despite the claim of being involved with another Q, Q also claimed to have been single for "billions of years". During said time, he claimed his experiences was "fun, at first," as he spent his time "gallivanting around the galaxy, using [his] omnipotence to impress females of every species." He even once claimed that foreplay with a Q could last decades. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
When Q ultimately expressed a desire to procreate with the Human, Kathryn Janeway, he also said he "could have chosen a Klingon targ, the Romulan empress, [or] a Cyrillian microbe." (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
In fact, Q believed that they could "only mate with a species capable of copulation." (VOY: "The Q and the Grey") This was especially true if both Q were of the same species capable of copulation. For instance, during the mid-24th century, two Q mated as Humans, creating a Q offspring. (TNG: "True Q")
Philosophy and culture
- See main article: Q Continuum
The Q believed in the death penalty, life imprisonment, being bestowed mortality, transformation into lower lifeforms, or banishment from the Continuum as varying degrees of punishment for crimes. (TNG: "Q Who", "True Q"; VOY: "Death Wish", "Q2") They were, notably, impressed with acts of self-sacrifice. (TNG: "Deja Q"; VOY: "Q2")
The Q believed that Humans were "moving faster than expected, further than they should." (TNG: "Q Who") At one point Q indicated that Humans might have one day equaled his species. This concern was, in fact, one reason which the Q wished to learn more about Humanity. (TNG: "Hide and Q")
Under normal circumstances, the Q were known merely by the name "Q". This caused no confusion among the Q as they always knew to which of them was being referred when the name "Q" was used. Some, such as Q, chose the name Quinn, though this occurred only after becoming Human. When referred to by non-Q, descriptors ("female Q") or titles ("Colonel Q", "Miss Q") were often added to distinguish that particular member. (TNG: "Deja Q"; VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
- See: List of Q
In the Peter David novel Q-Squared, Trelane was revealed to be a member of the Q Continuum, with Q being assigned as his mentor. In the book, Trelane was able to tap into "The Heart of The Storm," the theoretical and literal center of the universe, where chaos exists; doing so gave Trelane more power than the entire Continuum, allowing him to close it off and play with the universe as he pleased. Trelane then manipulated three different tracks of the Enterprise-D timeline, with the ultimate goal of the experiment being the merging of all parallel timelines and the destruction of the multiverse order. Captain Picard, with the help of Q, managed to stop Trelane, though the experience reduced Trelane to a speck of his former existence.
The trilogy Q Continuum introduced an additional Q known as the Quaestor, who resembled Picard. In this series it was revealed that the most prominent Q pulled a similar being known as 0 through the Guardian of Forever, and that 0 proceeded to bring forth such entities as the "God" of Sha Ka Ree, Gorgan, and the Beta XII-A entity to join him in his villainy. The Continuum was forced to act, with the Quaestor leading Quinn, Q2, and the female Q into battle against 0 and his forces. The outcome of this battle was the imprisonment of the Sha Ka Ree entity at the center of the galaxy and 0 outside of it, while their two allies escaped. The Q Continuum created barriers to prevent the return of their two prisoners, and Q was assigned to watch over Earth due to his part in wiping out the dinosaurs by redirecting an attack aimed at the female Q by 0. The barriers created to keep 0 out were later weakened by the Q civil war, and he briefly managed to return but was then defeated by the unlikely alliance of Q and the Calamarain. He was then returned to exile, and the Continuum repaired the barriers.
The Q Gambit featured the Q caught in a war against the Pah-wraiths. Unlike the three-dimensional world, they found themselves oddly powerless in their own continuum. Following Q's merging with a Prophet, he became even more powerful than he had been before.