Hero Overview

I believed in you. I thought you had potential. But apparently I was wrong. May whatever god you believe in... (snorts) ...have mercy on your soul. This court stands adjourned.
~ Q

Q is a recurring character in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He is one of Jean-Luc Picard's best friends.

He is played by John de Lancie, who also played Santa Claus, DiscordProfessor Fitz Quadwrangle, and Mr. Olsen.


In Q's debut "Encounter at Farpoint", he puts 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 judgement, though he hints it will not be the last time the crew sees him.

Q's next appearance was later in the first season, in the episode "Hide and Q", when he decides to admit a human into the Continuum. Q feels that humanity has the potential to one day evolve beyond the Q and wants to understand how. He settles on Picard's first officer, Commander Riker, but Q fails to trigger the evolution and Riker remains human. Thereby losing a wager with Picard, Q is bound by the terms of the wager to stay out of humanity's path forever. Q instantly vanishes, but continues to appear in later episodes as if the wager never occurred.

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. The 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Companion states that the Borg already knew about Earth and were already en route (having previously attacked Federation and Romulan outposts in the first-season episode, "The Neutral Zone"), and that Q's actions were intended as an early warning. The Star Trek: Enterprise episode, "Regeneration", explains that the encounter in system J-25 intensified the Borg's interest in humanity, prompting them to escalate their plans to capture Earth. Using time travel, the Borg alter the course of events depicted in Star Trek: First Contact, where they encounter the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise and inform their 24th-century predecessors of the existence of Earth. Q's actions stabilized the time stream by creating a different cause for the Borg's awareness of the Federation. This anomaly is expanded upon in the Star Trek novels as being a partial indirect cause of the Mirror Universe, whose reality diverged from the original time stream when Zefram Cochrane attempted to warn Earth and the other worlds that would form the Federation about the Borg after the events of First Contact. In the original reality, Cochrane's warnings go unheeded.[citation needed]

In "Déjà 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."

Q returns to the Enterprise in the TNG episode "Qpid" to thank Captain Picard for helping him regain his place in the continuum. At the time Picard's "friend" Vash is paying a visit. Q uses this opportunity to teach Captain Picard about love. This episode begins a partnership between Q and Vash which is seen again during the DS9 episode "Q-Less". In the TNG episode "True Q" Amanda Rodgers, a young human student, seems to develop the powers of the Q during her internship with Dr. Beverly Crusher. Q boards the Enterprise, uninvited, to instruct Amanda and determine if she is fit to take her place in the continuum. While Amanda initially rejects Q's offer to join the continuum, she is unable to resist using her powers, and ultimately decides to explore her powers in the continuum. This episode is the first reference to Q reproduction.

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 (although whether Q actually appeared in this episode or was merely a hallucination Picard experienced during surgery is deliberately left ambiguous). In the series finale "All Good Things...", Q gives Picard a "helping hand" in saving humanity by helping him figure out what is causing "antitime" to flow into the universe, which will inevitably stop humanity from ever being born.

In the DS9 episode "Q-Less", Q at one point goads Commander Benjamin Sisko into a bare-knuckle boxing match, all the while belittling and insulting him. When Sisko loses his temper and knocks Q down, an astonished Q says, "You hit me! Picard never hit me!" Sisko counters frankly that "I'm not Picard." Q responds with a smile, saying, "Indeed not, you're much easier to provoke." While on the station, Q gives hints to help the crew keep their station from being destroyed by an artifact that has been brought aboard it. His interest in humankind could be explained when he says goodbye to Vash: "When I look at as gas nebula, all I see a cloud of dust. Seeing the universe through your eyes, I was able to experience ... wonder. I'm going to miss that."

In "Death Wish", Q pursues a rogue member of the Continuum, named Quinn, who has been inadvertently released from his asteroid prison by the crew of that ship, and who seeks asylum on the 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, Q makes Quinn human, after which Quinn commits 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, sparking a civil war between Quinn's progressive followers and the conservative traditionalists 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 with whom he had been involved (referred to in Star Trek novels as 'Lady Q'), producing a son. Q makes Janeway his godmother.

Their progeny is born conscious and with all the power of any other Q, though lacking adult maturity.

In "Q2", which is the last televised appearance of Q, 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. In negotiation with Q, they come to an agreement. Q must eternally guard, observe, and accompany the boy to ensure his proper behavior.


Q basically has the traits of an on-and-off hero.

He is a mischievous, sneaky, and wacky trickster. He is a vastly enigmatic and powerful alien who was originally cast as an antagonist, but becomes more heroic over time. Despite being named a misanthrope, Q actually had a hidden fondness for humans, especially Jean-Luc Picard (as well as Janeway). He also had a much less favorable relationship with Sisko (though he found his easy-to-anger nature amusing).

While on good terms with Picard and the crew, Q can sometimes be a bit of an overconfident braggart and a bit of a liar.


Q can take any form he desires, though he prefers humanoid forms. Initially, he dressed as a judge and was very wrathful, playing the part of a misanthropic god. After growing an affinity for humans, he took on a form akin to a Federation officer, though he was never officially part of any crew. In short, Q tends to take whatever form is most suitable for the location or individual he wishes to interact with.


  • Discord is based on Q and is therefore similar to him in many ways, as well as sharing the same actor John de Lancie. However, Discord is more mischievous than Q and uses less contractions in his vocabulary (Q was also much more malicious than Discord when first introduced, outright killing others (something Discord would morally never do, despite his chaotic nature).
  • Q is easily the most powerful character in the entire Star Trek universe, only rivaled by other members of his species - Q has no known limit outside his imagination and the laws enforced by other Q.
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