Q is a fictional character in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as in related media. In all of these programs, he is portrayed by John de Lancie. He is a being of unknown origin who is unconstrained by, and possesses immeasurable power over, normal human notions of time, space, the laws of physics, and even reality itself, being capable of violating or altering any or all of them in creatively unpredictable ways with a casual thought or hand gesture, limited only by his seemingly unlimited imagination. 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 some otherwise unfathomably Machiavellian and manipulative purpose, or simply to prove a point. Like his fellow Q, he is said to be nigh-omnipotent, and he is continually evasive regarding his true motivations.
The name "Q" applies not only 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.
Beginning with the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" of The Next Generation, Q became a recurring character, with pronounced comedic and dramatic chemistry between Jean-Luc Picard and himself. He serves as a major antagonist 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 brutal 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. Q later inspired the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic antagonist Discord, whom de Lancie also portrays.
Some episodes have suggested that the Q had evolved to their current state over time, that possibly they were much like humans. Q once suggested that eventually the humans might even advance beyond the Q.
Q is one of the most beloved recurring characters on Star Trek: The Next Generation, in large part due to the comedic and dramatic chemistry between actors John de Lancie and Patrick Stewart (who plays Picard, captain of the Enterprise).
Episodes featuring one or more Q Star Trek: The Original Series: The Squire of Gothos (not canon†) Star Trek: The Next Generation: Encounter at Farpoint Hide and Q Q Who? Déjà Q Q-pid True Q Tapestry All Good Things . . . Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Q-Less Star Trek: Voyager: Deathwish The Q and the Grey Q2 Novels: Q-in-Law Q-Squared I, Q Star Trek The Q Continuum (Q-Zone, Q-Space, Q-Strike) Computer game: Star Trek: Borg †Note: Many fans have speculated that Squire Trelane was a Q; this formed the basis for Peter David's book Q-Squared. However, this link is only speculation, not canon.
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.
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, but whereas Q has been shown to be more of a "merry prankster" throughout Star Trek canon, 0 is utterly malevolent in his desires. 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. This group was later defeated in a battle with the Q Continuum, though the dinosaurs were left extinct as a result. Q was thus put in charge of watching over Earth and its inhabitants. 0 later returned from his banishment beyond the galaxy and sought revenge on Q, but was defeated.
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.
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, allowing them to interact with characters from the original timeline in the new history created by Spock's trip to the past, as well as to help 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.
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