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Deja Q (episode)

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"Deja Q"
TNG, Episode 3x13
Production number: 40273-161
First aired: 5 February 1990
60th of 176 produced in TNG
60th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
167th of 728 released in all
Guinan and Q (2366)
Written By
Richard Danus

Directed By
Les Landau
43539.1 (2366)
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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 them with their moon that is falling out of orbit and threatening the planet. As they are trying to find a way to get the moon back into its orbit, Q suddenly drops in, literally, and Picard jumps to the conclusion.

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 sent to the Enterprise because out of all 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 has lost his powers, Worf succinctly suggests that he die.

Counselor Troi confirms that she can sense emotions from Q which reveal that he is terrified. 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. 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. Q finally convinces Picard that he can help return the moon to its natural orbit with his knowledge of spatial phenomena from all over the universe. Picard, still 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, as he complains mainly about his limited abilities as a Human and makes suggestions that no one on the Enterprise with their current level of scientific knowledge can follow. Still thinking as a Q, he suggests to Geordi La Forge that he just change the gravitational constant of the universe, thereby altering the mass of the moon. That suggestion is quickly dismissed as impossible; however, La Forge realizes that they could wrap a low-level warp field around the moon, reducing its gravitational constant, making it lighter so they can push it. Q is glad he could help and then suddenly starts complaining about back pain. Dr. Crusher is called to engineering and it seems that Q has back spasms. When Dr. Crusher heals him, he complains of a noisy stomach that, as Dr. Crusher tells him, is probably a sign that he is hungry.

Calamarain attack Q in Ten Forward

"Somebody help me!"

Data takes Q to Ten Forward to get something to eat. 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, since he had never consumed food before becoming Human, he must be really hungry. Guinan enters, which gives Q a sense of uneasiness as this is not a moment he was looking forward to. Data explains Q's transformation to Guinan, who stabs him with a fork to test if he's really Human.

The encounter understandably causes Q to lose his appetite, so he is unable to enjoy his huge chocolate treat. He warns them of Guinan being a dangerous creature. While Q sulks miserably 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 and Q screams for help, while Guinan looks down on him and says, "How the mighty have fallen."

Act Three

While elaborating about the Calamarain, 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 Calamarian 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 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. When Q gets to engineering, he thinks that because he has knowledge of how to move the moon, he is in charge. Obviously this is not the case and when La Forge tells him what to do, Q tells La Forge that he will not take orders because he has never taken orders. Data tells him that it would be his wisest course of action to listen to La Forge. 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.

Act Four

Q on viewscreen

"I don't want to be rescued."

In sickbay, Dr. Crusher works on fixing Data and reprimands Q for not even thinking that Data saved his life. Then Q is escorted out of sickbay. In the meantime, Picard and La Forge discuss how best to move the moon again, and La Forge says that they will have to wait until the moon reaches its perigee for their next try. Riker, though, realizes that they have the same dilemma of protecting Q or helping the people on Bre'el IV. Q talks to Picard (who holds a cup of tea that is 15% full and a shot later raises it to his mouth and the cup is miraculously half full) and comes to the conclusion that being Human has made him a miserable coward, so he goes back to sickbay to check on Data. Doctor Crusher is still repairing 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 figures the ship and planet will never be safe as long as he is on board the Enterprise, so he takes a shuttlecraft and leaves the ship to distract the Calamarain.

The Enterprise 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 seem to be catching up to Q in his shuttlecraft.

Act Five

Q2 on shuttle


All attempts to rescue Q fail as Q2, who had Q stripped of his powers and was watching him to see how he reacted, disables the tractor beam, transporters, shields, etc. He pops in to see Q and says that his display of selflessness has convinced him to give Q's powers back so long as he behaves himself. Q2 says he cannot go back to the Q Continuum and tell the others that Q was selfless right before he died because it would take too much effort and time. So he gives Q his powers back, and Q is about to seek revenge on the Calamarain, but Q2 pops in again, 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. Q, however, appears on the bridge as a horn-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 transfers them to Worf, instead. Q protest that he "feels like celebrating", while Picard retorts "I don't!", and Q does away with both the scantily-clad females and the mariachi band, leaving only Q, wearing a uniform identical to Picard's, which elicits a disgusted look from Picard.

Laughing Data

Q's going-away present

Q declares that, as a Human, he was "ill-equipped to thank you; but, as myself, you have my everlasting gratitude." Then, just prior to his departure, Q leaves Data a little "going-away present" – not using his powers to make him Human, as Data suspects, but allowing him to experience laughter for a few surreal moments. A grateful message comes in from Bre'el IV, thanking a stunned Picard for saving them. Picard has Worf and Data confirm that the errant moon has been returned to its correct orbit – and, the captain, knowing it was not the Enterprise who accomplished this, says there may be a residue of Humanity left in Q. A visage of Q appears in the smoke rising from a lit cigar that had materialized in Picard's hand – and tells Picard not to bet on it.

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

"How the mighty have fallen."

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

"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

"I'm immortal again! Omnipotent again!"

- Q and Riker, after Q appears on the bridge and blares a trumpet with a mariachi band

"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

Story and production

Filming Deja Q

Brent Spiner and John de Lancie filming a scene

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • The Mariachi band was playing 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).
  • First UK airdate: 15th January 1992


  • 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 behaviour is later mirrored by his son in "Q2". However, the Continuum is less sympathetic that time, and forces Q to maintain eternal oversight over Junior.

Props and costumes


  • 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 Vol. 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 the piece "La Paloma" which was played by the El Mariachi band directly during the filming of the scene.


  • 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



ant; Belzoidian flea; berthold rays; black hole; Boy Who Cried Wolf, The; Bre'el IV; Bre'el IV moon; Bre'el IV native; Bre'el system; Calamarain; chocolate; chocolate sundae; Deltived asteroid belt; delta-vee; earthquake; father confessor; gravitational constant; IQ; kilometer; La Paloma; Markoffian sea lizard; meter; missionary; Much Ado About Nothing; Nigala IV; perigee; pimple; plasma; Q Continuum; red alert; Romulan; Sakharov; silicon; suicide; tachyons; tractor beam; tricorder; tricycle; tsunami; type 7 shuttlecraft; starbase; warp field

External link

Previous episode:
"The High Ground"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3
Next episode:
"A Matter of Perspective"

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