Q (Star Trek)

Q is a fictional character, as well as the name of a race, in Star Trek appearing in the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Lower Decks series and in related media. The most familiar Q is portrayed by John de Lancie. He is an extra-dimensional being of unknown origin who possesses immeasurable power over time, space, the laws of physics, and reality itself, being capable of altering it to his whim. Despite his vast knowledge and experience spanning untold eons (and much to the exasperation of the object(s) of his obsession), he is not above practical jokes for his own personal amusement, for a Machiavellian and manipulative purpose, or to prove a point. He is said to be almost omnipotent and he is continually evasive regarding his true motivations. Q occasionally uses contractions in his vocabulary as part of his chaotic god status.

Q portrait.jpg
First appearance"Encounter at Farpoint" (1987)
(The Next Generation)
Created byGene Roddenberry
D. C. Fontana
Portrayed by
In-universe information

The name "Q" applies to the names of the individuals portrayed (all male and female characters refer to each other as "Q"); it also applies to the name of their race and to the "Q Continuum" itself – an alternate dimension accessible to only the Q and their "invited" guests. The true nature of the realm is said to be beyond the comprehension of "lesser beings" such as humans, therefore it is shown to humans only in ways they can understand; e.g., a run-down gas station in the 'middle of nowhere'.

Beginning with the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" of The Next Generation, Q became a recurring character, with pronounced comedic and dramatic chemistry with Jean-Luc Picard. He serves as a major antihero throughout The Next Generation, playing a pivotal role in both the first and final episodes. Q is initially presented as a cosmic force judging humanity to see if it is becoming a threat to the universe, but as the series progresses, his role morphs more into one of a teacher to Picard and the human race generally – albeit often in seemingly destructive or disruptive ways, subject to his own amusement. Other times, notably during "Deja Q" and Voyager, Q appears to the crew seeking assistance.

Gene Roddenberry chose the letter "Q" in honor of his friend Janet Quarton.[1]

Appearances in Star Trek mediaEdit

List of appearancesEdit

Many Star Trek television episodes and novels have featured Q and often have titles that play on the letter "Q".


Q debuted in "Encounter at Farpoint", where he puts Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew on trial, arguing that humanity is a dangerous race and should be destroyed. When they later save the life of a kidnapped alien, Q agrees to defer judgment, though he hints that it will not be the last time the crew sees him.

In "Q Who", he offers to divest himself of his powers and guide humanity through uncharted regions and prepare it for unknown threats. Picard argues that Q's services are unneeded (and unwanted), and Q rebuts him by teleporting the USS Enterprise to a distant system for their first encounter with the Borg. Unable to resist the Borg, Picard must ask Q to save the ship. Q returns the Enterprise home and tells Picard that other men would rather have died than ask for help.

In "Deja Q", Q is punished by the Q Continuum by being made mortal; his committing of an uncharacteristically selfless act (sacrificing his life so that a race attacking him will not destroy the Enterprise) garners the return of his powers. In the same episode, Q says that Picard is "the closest thing in this universe that I have to a friend."

Toward the end of The Next Generation, Q is less antagonistic toward Picard. In "Tapestry", Q apparently saves Picard and helps him better understand himself, giving Picard a chance to avoid the accident that gave him an artificial heart only for Picard to choose dying as himself over living the tedious life he would have lived without the inspiration of his near-death experience (although whether Q actually appeared in this episode or was merely a hallucination Picard experienced during surgery is deliberately left ambiguous).

In "All Good Things," Q reveals that the trial of humanity is not over and displaces Picard through different time periods where a temporal anomaly threatens the existence of humanity. After Picard resolves the situation, Q admits to having helped him find the solution and to having saved him from death. Q departs, stating that the trial of humanity is never over.

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Death Wish", Q pursues a rogue member of the Continuum, later named Quinn, who has been inadvertently released from his asteroid prison by the crew of that ship, and who seeks asylum on Voyager. He demands that Q make him human, as he does not wish to be a member of the Continuum any more, but Q refuses, because Quinn intends to commit suicide if he becomes human. The two parties agree to allow Captain Janeway to mediate their dispute, and after Janeway eventually finds in favor of Quinn, he is made human and then commits suicide. Its subsequently revealed that Q chose to assist Quinn's suicide.

Later, in the Voyager episode "The Q and the Grey", Q reappears on the Voyager, asking Janeway to bear his child. He eventually reveals that the uncertainty and instability caused by Quinn's suicide divided the Continuum, causing a civil war between Quinn's followers (of which Q is a part) and the rest of the Continuum. Q believes that the birth of a new member of the Continuum could revitalize the Q by giving them something new to focus on after millennia of stagnation and boredom. Janeway refuses, and after she and her crew bring about a ceasefire in the Continuum, Q eventually mates with the female Q (Suzie Plakson) with whom he had been involved (referred to in Star Trek novels as 'Lady Q'), producing a son. Their progeny is born conscious and with all the power of any other Q, although lacking adult maturity. Q makes Janeway his godmother.

In the episode "Q2", he appears on Voyager with his immature, rebellious son, who appears as a human teenager (played by John de Lancie's real-life son Keegan de Lancie, and referred to in the novels as "Little Q" or "q"). Q asks Janeway to mentor his son, and the two adults agree that the boy will remain on Voyager, without his powers, and either learn how to be a responsible, accountable, and productive inhabitant of the cosmos, or spend eternity as an amoeba. Eventually, the young Q comes around, but the Continuum is not entirely convinced, so in negotiation with Q, they come to an agreement. Q must eternally guard, observe, and accompany the boy to ensure his proper behavior.

In the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "Veritas", Q appears in a flashback, challenging the senior crew of the USS Cerritos to an inexplicable 'game' to prove humanity's worth, dressing them up as chess pieces facing a football field filled with anthropomorphic cards and soccer balls. Later in the episode, he appears again to challenge the ensigns to a duel, but he is unceremoniously blown off by Ensign Mariner, who tells him to "go bother Picard." Q follows them anyway, complaining that Picard is always quoting Shakespeare and making wine.

Q is set to once again return in season 2 of Star Trek: Picard.[2]


The similarity between Q and Trelane, the alien encountered in the Star Trek episode "The Squire of Gothos", inspired writer Peter David to establish in his 1994 novel Q-Squared that Trelane is a member of the Continuum, and that Q is his godfather (with it being all-but-explicitly stated that Q is actually Trelane's biological father, although the truth of this is kept an official secret).

Q's past is expanded on in the trilogy The Q Continuum, which has Q and Picard travel through Q's past, witnessing Q's first encounter with the being that inspired his interest in testing other races. This being, known as 0, is similar to Q in power and abilities (although an injury of some sort prevents 0 travelling faster than light under his own power, even if he can still teleport short distances), but whereas Q has been shown to be more of a "merry prankster" throughout Star Trek canon, 0 is malevolent in his desires, using 'tests' as just an excuse to torture other races by changing the rules of his games so that the subjects will inevitably lose. Q ends up bringing him into the Milky Way galaxy through the Guardian of Forever, and 0 assembles other seemingly omnipotent beings from the original Star Trek, including The One (the being who impersonated God in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) and (*) (the entity from "Day of the Dove", which thrived on violent conflict). However, although intrigued at 0's words about testing lesser races, Q loses his taste for 0's methods when 0's group provoke the Tkon Empire- an advanced civilisation millennia in the past- into decades of civil war and then blows up their sun just as they were about to exchange their dying old sun for a younger, fresher one, having completed their Great Endeavour despite the war. 0's group was later defeated in a battle with the Q Continuum, though the dinosaurs were left extinct as a result when Q diverted an asteroid from one of the combatants so that it would strike Earth instead. With Q having abstained from most of the conflict, he was thus put in charge of watching over Earth and its inhabitants as a possible rehabilitation project, while (*) escaped, The One was trapped at the heart of the galaxy having been reduced to just his head, and 0 was banished to just outside our galaxy and the galactic barrier erected to keep him out; as Picard observes, with 0's crippled state preventing him travelling faster than light, 0 was essentially reduced to a shipwrecked survivor cut off from the nearest inhabitable land and millennia away from anywhere else. 0 later returned from his banishment beyond the galaxy and sought revenge on Q, having manipulated a dying scientist to complete an artificial wormhole experiment, but was defeated when Picard was able to convince one of 0's old enemies to join forces with Q to stop his former mentor.

The novel The Buried Age — which explores Picard's life between the destruction of the Stargazer and his appointment to the position of captain of the Enterprise-D — ends with a cameo appearance by Q as he meets an alien woman who recently met Picard before she chose to ascend to a higher plane of existence, her tales of Picard inspiring Q's own interest in humanity. This novel also establishes why Q chose his name, as he wanted something that would be simple for humans to remember, also reasoning that, if he was ever asked why he was called 'Q', he could reply 'Because U will always be behind me'.

In the Voyager novel The Eternal Tide, Q's son sacrifices himself to save the universe, inspired by the example of the resurrected Kathryn Janeway, prompting Q to declare himself her enemy (although he swiftly gets over this hostility 'off-screen').

In the Star Trek comic series based on the alternate timeline established in the 2009 film Star Trek, Q visits that reality to take the crew of the Enterprise into their future. This allows them to interact with characters from the original timeline in the new history created by Spock's trip to the past. It also helps Q deal with a threat to the Continuum in the form of the Pah-Wraiths, which have all but destroyed the Bajoran Prophets in this timeline.

Computer gamesEdit

The 1996 computer game Star Trek: Borg was primarily made up of live action segments directed by James L. Conway and featured John de Lancie as Q.

Q also appears during Holiday events in the Massively Multiplayer Online game Star Trek Online including the creation of a Christmas Village that player characters can be teleported to.


In 2009, Q was ranked as the 9th best character of all Star Trek by IGN.[3]

In 2016, Time rated Q as the #10 best villain of the Star Trek franchise.[4]

In 2017, Space.com rated Q as one of the "15 of the Most Bizarre Alien Species" of the Star Trek franchise.[5]

In 2018, The Wrap said that Q would be at the top of the list if he was included with ranking 39 main cast characters of the Star Trek franchise prior to Star Trek: Discovery.[6]

In 2018, CBR ranked Q the #1 best Star Trek recurring character.[7]


  1. ^ Star Trek Creator – The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry by David Alexander p. 536
  2. ^ "Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Teaser Trailer Confirms Q's Return". Star Trek. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  3. ^ "Top 25 Star Trek Characters". IGN. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  4. ^ "Star Trek's 10 Most Villainous Villains". Time. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  5. ^ Howell, Elizabeth (22 September 2017). "15 of the Most Bizarre Alien Species Featured in 'Star Trek'". Space.com. Space.com. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  6. ^ "All 39 'Star Trek' Main Characters Ranked". TheWrap. 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2019-06-22.[verification needed]
  7. ^ "Star Trek: Ranking the 20 Best Recurring Characters". CBR. 2018-12-28. Retrieved 2019-06-25.

External linksEdit