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Q is an anti-villain from Star Trek: The Next Generation, who is depicted as a rogue member of the Q Continuum - a society of godlike aliens who are nearly omnipotent by human-standards. Q loves to misuse his power and has the personality of a trickster villain: taking delight in causing mischief. In his first appearance, he tried to put the entire crew of the USS Enterprise on trial for the crimes of humanity and ever since then he has taken to making trouble for them, especially Picard - who he seems to have a fondness for. He also caused trouble for other members of the Federation and innumerable other species, he got so bad that eventually the other members of the Q Collective removed his power - but he managed to get them back again and became somewhat more responsible.
He was introduced as a major antagonist in Season 1 yet many of his actions later have a teaching purpose and in "Tapestry" and "All Good Things..." he actually helps Picard overcome obstacles. He has since been more of a nuisance than a villain. Gene Roddenberry chose the letter "Q" in honor of his friend, Janet Quarton.
He is portrayed by John de Lancie.
Q appeared to the crews of several Starfleet vessels and outposts during the 2360s and 2370s. All Starfleet personnel of command status are briefed on his existence. One such briefing was attended by Benjamin Sisko in 2367. 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.
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 seemed to have the best interests of Humanity at their core. This could possibly suggest that Q's obnoxious, problematic, and troublesome attitude was far from his true nature, although this opinion cannot be directly proven.
When temporarily rendered Human by the Continuum, Q claimed to possess an IQ of 2005.
Picard and the Enterprise-D
He 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, and when he encountered resistance, he placed Humanity on trial with Jean-Luc Picard and his command crew as representatives. He 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.
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. He 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. His motives for attempting to recruit Riker were not made clear. However, he did imply that the Q needed a Q who was originally Human to ensure that Humans would not eventually surpass the Q.
In his third appearance in 2365, Q first expressed an interest in joining Picard's crew. He even offered to refrain from using his powers for the duration, perhaps to prove that his offer was extremely genuine. However, when Picard vehemently declined, Q tried to show how much he could be of assistance by hurling the Enterprise into the path of a Borg cube. Q was hoping to show the Federation that it was entirely unprepared to meet some of the more powerful races that existed in the universe. Ultimately, Picard had to beg for Q's help in escaping from the pursuit of the Borg ship.
Interestingly, 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 express her extreme dislike for Q. Based on Q's reactions, the sentiment seemed mutual.
In 2366, Q was stripped of his omnipotence and immortality and transformed into a Human by the Q Continuum as punishment for his thoughtless 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 investigative analysis of the Bre'el IV satellite. During this time, Data was assigned to watch Q, and Q gained an unusual perspective on Humanity and its condition. However, after a Calamarain attack nearly destroyed Data, Q resolved to end his life in order to prevent further risk to the Enterprise crew. Another Q prevented Q from sacrificing himself, and restored Q's powers as a reward for his selfless act. In gratitude, Q corrected the orbit of the Bre'el IV moon, which was in danger of colliding with its primary – an event which the Enterprise crew was trying to prevent. Q also gave a special gift to Data, his "professor of the Humanities" – a brief moment of laughter.
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 too atypical of Q, and her powers were later proved to be aided by sophisticated technology rather than any innate ability.
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 friend named Vash, whom he'd met on Risa the year before. 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 his lesson, and everyone was returned to the Enterprise. Intrigued by Vash, though, Q offered to take her on a magnificent journey of exploration to explore various archaeological ruins of the galaxy, and she accepted.
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 her internship with Doctor Beverly Crusher. Shortly after Rogers' birth, the Continuum used a tornado to execute Rogers' parents, two Q who had assumed life as Humans on Earth, for secretly conceiving a child. 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.
Later that same year, Q appeared to Jean-Luc Picard when the latter was critically injured in a Lenarian ambush. Appearing as "God" (though Picard had a hard time accepting that he was dead and that he would have to spend eternity with Q because, according to him, "the universe is not so poorly designed."), 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, and cocky young man – was a part of his respective 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.
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 past, present, and future, where he 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 and authoritative for the creation of the anomaly, that 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 contradictory 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 was a test, aimed at determining whether Humanity was capable of expanding its horizons to understand some of the advanced concepts of the universe. Departing, Q promised to continue watching Humanity, proclaiming that "the trial never ends."
Deep Space 9
In 2369, 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 her, 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. Despite his boisterous rambunctiousness, his presence may have, in part, been due to his promise to Picard to ensure Vash's safety. In the end, Vash and Q went their separate ways though both eventually admitted to retaining a certain fondness for each other.
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 the hearing. 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.
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. However, Janeway flatly refused. Q then kidnapped Janeway 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 then proposed mating with his old girlfriend instead, and she agreed. The new child, nicknamed Junior, became the first child born in the Continuum in millennia, and his presence brought an end to the civil war.
However, Q's child did not prove to become the perfect "savior" child that he was meant to be. Junior grew into a spoiled brat, causing even more chaos and disorder than his father's pranks ever did. 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. However, after spending years with the child, Junior only began to behave worse. As a result, Q 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 by the Continuum to spend infinite 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 were 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.