- "He's devious and amoral and unreliable and irresponsible and... and definitely not to be trusted."
Q was a highly powerful entity from a race of omnipotent, godlike beings also known as the Q.
Q appeared to the crews of several Starfleet vessels and outposts during the 2360s and 2370s. All command level officers in Starfleet are briefed on his existence. One such briefing was attended by Benjamin Sisko in 2367. (DS9: "Q-Less") He typically appears as a Humanoid male (though he can take on other forms if he wishes), 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 has 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.
- "Either leave or finish us!"
- "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 spaceborne entity 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 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")
In his third appearance in 2365, Q 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 believing 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 this encounter, Q alluded to a past association with Enterprise bartender Guinan; Guinan declined to elaborate on the nature of her 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 omnipotence and immortality and transformed into a Human by the Q Continuum, as punishment for his irresponsibility. He sought refuge on the Enterprise, requesting asylum and protection from those beings in the universe whom he had tormented. Although Captain Picard and the rest of the crew were unconvinced of the sincerity of Q's plea (and indeed suspected that the entire situation was merely an elaborate prank), Picard agreed to provide Q temporary asylum. Although 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 this 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 resolved to leave on a shuttle, allowing the Calamarain to kill him and preventing further risk to the Enterprise crew. Another Q intervened at this point, acknowledged Q's selfless act and restored Q's 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'd 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 Sheriff of Nottingham. Ultimately, Picard learned and everyone was returned to the Enterprise. Intrigued by Vash, though, 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, Q 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 had 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 believed to be Q's doing, but they were, in fact, due to an embryonic lifeform that Vash had unknowingly brought back from the Gamma Quadrant. Q also had a brief confrontation with Commander Benjamin Sisko during his visit and disrupted an auction that Quark and Vash staged in Quark's Bar. Although he was intrigued by Sisko hitting him, Q eventually got bored because "Sisko was so different than Picard". One might speculate that his actions were intended to ensure Vash's safety in regards to the promise made to Picard two years earlier. In the end, Vash and Q 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 Jean-Luc Picard when the latter was critically injured in a Lenarian ambush. Appearing as "God", Q told Picard that he had died because of his artificial heart, and offered him the chance to return to the incident in his youth, allowing him to relive the events leading up to his near-fatal injury and change history. Although Picard was successful in changing history, he eventually realized that 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 had become. Although 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 that the seven-year-old trial had never actually ended, Q proclaimed Humanity guilty of "being inferior" and informed Picard that his race was to be destroyed. He sent Picard 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 this paradox, Picard himself was responsible for the creation of the anomaly, which propagated backwards in normal time (anti-time having the opposite properties of normal time), thus destroying Humanity in the past.
However, in addition to sending Picard jumping through time, Q also provided Picard 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, 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 was his idea. Q promised to continue watching Humanity, proclaiming 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 cause disorder – 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 in 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. Janeway, however, flatly refused.
Q then 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 attempted to negotiate a truce between the two sides. These negotiations failed, however, because the status quo faction refused to accept any terms other than surrender. They attempted to execute both Q and Janeway, but they were stopped by personnel from Voyager, with the assistance of a female Q, 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 then proposed mating with his old girlfriend (instead of with Janeway) and she agreed. The new child, nicknamed 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")
Q's child, however, did not prove to become the perfect "savior" child that he was meant to be. Junior grew into a spoiled brat, causing chaos and disorder. Q tried to briefly leave his son with "Aunt Kathy" aboard Voyager, hoping 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 and left him aboard Voyager, again under the care of Janeway, telling him to reform his ways within a week or Junior would be sentenced to spend eternity as an Oprelian amoeba.
Although 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 stole the Delta Flyer II from Voyager. Junior passed with flying colors, offering 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 Human. Outraged, Q proclaimed that he would leave the Continuum if his son was not allowed to rejoin – the pair was a "packaged 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 didn't send them all the way back to Earth, his response being that it would be setting a bad example for his son if he did all the work for them. (VOY: "Q2")
Q was played by actor John de Lancie.
The name "Q" was chosen by Gene Roddenberry, in honor of an English Star Trek fan, Janet Quarton. She was the first president of the UK Star Trek fan club, and Gene Roddenberry and many others spent time at her home, in the Scottish highlands. (Star Trek Encyclopedia 2nd ed., p. 392; )
In an interview, John de Lancie drew parallels between Q and the character Trelane from the TOS episode "The Squire of Gothos", believing that Gene Roddenberry explored his storehouse of effective creations in writing The Next Generation and found one that would turn out to be highly successful again in TNG.  In another interview, de Lancie said 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)
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.
Along with Quark, Morn and Evek, Q is one of only four characters to appear in all three Star Trek series based in the 24th century: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. However, William T. Riker or his duplicate Thomas Riker appeared on four Star Trek television series in episodes primarily set in the 24th century.
Of the twelve 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.
- Locations "created" by Q:
According to Q in the String Theory books, omnipotent beings are actually rather fond of games of choice and chance, as it is only under these conditions that beings such as Q can 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 are both featured in the novel Q-Squared, in which Trelane is 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 is explained in the novel The Buried Age, which also reveals that 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" suggests that there is at least one individual "above" Q, naming herself "Petunia", who, in the play, seems to have taken Q's powers and placed him, together with Spock, on an asteroid.
- Planet X
- I, Q
- The Next Generation - Q Continuum:
- Star Trek: New Frontier:
- Star Trek: Voyager - String Theory:
- The Buried Age
- The Eternal Tide
- Reference books: