WHO ARE THE Q? A STAR TREK SPECIES OVERVIEW
“He's devious and amoral and unreliable and irresponsible and… and definitely not to be trusted."
– Jean-Luc Picard
Q is a member of the Q species, with powerful god-like powers to manipulate time, matter, energy, and even reality. After appearing several times in the 2360s and 70s, all Command level officers are briefed on the Q, especially this Q.
To humans, Q shows up mirroring their appearance, often in a Starfleet uniform.
While his behavior is annoying and pest-like, his agenda seems to be to help humanity, albeit in a manner that perplexes and annoys.
The USS Enterprise-D was the first to encounter Q. He appeared on the Bridge of the ship, and he warned the crew of the Enterprise that Humanity should return to their home star system or be destroyed. When Picard refused, he brought the crew of the Enterprise to trial, on behalf of all humanity. Q called humanity a "dangerous, savage child-race." Picard managed to convince Q to allow a test. Their mission to Farpoint Station. The crew successfully helped a space vessel lifeform that had been coerced to take the form of a space station. Q disappeared but promised the crew they had not seen the last of him.
Q again appeared on the Enterprise-D later in 2364. He took the bridge crew, (leaving Picard on the Enterprise) to a planet, and greeted them in a Napoleonic uniform after emerging from a tent. He informed them that they were playing a game. After Yar protested, he claimed to have put her in a “penalty box”. In reality though, she was back on the Enterprise bridge with Picard. On the planet, aliens dressed up in French gear were approaching with period weapons. Or at least that’s what was assumed till the weapons were shown to be phaser-like instead.
Meanwhile, Q had reappeared on the bridge. He taunted Yar and Picard, betting that he could turn Riker into a Q and he would not reject the power. Picard took that bet, saying if Q lost, he’d have to stay away from Humanity forever. Q continued discussing it with Picard in his ready room and Picard quoted “What a piece of work is Man” from Hamlet at Q. When he got to the line “how like a god”, Q objected then disappeared. He reappeared next to Riker on the planet and told him that he now had the powers of a Q.
Riker transported the crew back to the bridge but rejected his new powers afterward. Upsetting Q, he transported the whole of the bridge crew back to the planet, including Wesley Crusher, Dr. Crusher’s son. Worf and Wesley were attacked by the aliens in French uniforms and killed, but Riker used his powers to save them and the crew. Riker was amazed by his abilities but not aware that his new powers were changing the person he was. Q then reappeared on the bridge as a monk. Riker tried to give each of the crew members something they desired. Geordi’s sight, Wesley, adulthood, Data however, rejected becoming human and Worf was tempted with a Klingon female. These temptations were all rejected, causing Riker to become introspective. He rejected his Q powers once again. The wager lost, Q was pulled back to the Q Continuum.
In 2366, Q was stripped of all the powers of being a Q by the Q Continuum and made human as punishment for his past misbehavior. They dumped him on the Enterprise where he begged Picard for asylum. Unconvinced that this wasn’t another ruse or game of Q’s, he did accept his request. Guinan, who managed Ten Forward, tested Q's mortality by stabbing him with a fork. Q offered his insight to help LaForge with the analysis of Bre'el IV's moon, which was in danger of colliding with Bre’el itself. Q began to learn from the humans through the observations of Data, who had been assigned to watch Q.
The Calamarain, a race of non-corporeal lifeforms that existed as ionized gasses, attacked the Enterprise, to get at Q, and nearly destroyed Data. In his shame, Q stole a shuttlecraft to sacrifice himself so that the Enterprise would not be destroyed with the next attack. This growth was noted by the Q and the other Q intervened and invited him back to the Continuum.
Q returned later in 2367 to thank Picard. His timing was comical as Picard was having a romantic rendezvous with his lover, Vash; A human woman with a passion for archaeology. Q decided that Picard needed a lesson in love and put Picard, Vash, and the senior staff of the Enterprise into a scenario that had them cast as part of Robin Hood with Q acting as the Sherrif of Nottingham. Picard satisfied Q that he had learned about love and Q released them. Q then offered to have Vash travel the universe with him, to explore all the ruins that she wanted and she accepted.
In 2369, Amanda Rogers, Dr. Crusher’s intern, discovered that she was a Q after (the long pesky) Q had thrown a few tests at her to prove her abilities. He appeared to the crew and explained that he was there to evaluate her. Amanda's parents had assumed being humans on Earth but had died in a mysterious tornado. The Q were unsure if she was Q or Human and so the Q sent their “humanity expert” to see. Q tested her while Picard investigated the deaths of her parents, and it was found that the tornado that killed them was actually an execution because her parents had violated a mandate while on Earth. The Q was unsure of Amanda’s parentage to be Q or something else. If Amanda was something else, Q would have to terminate her as allowing omnipotent beings to roam freely would be dangerous. After being confronted, Q admitted to Picard that he wasn’t sure if she was omnipotent or not.
Rogers was conflicted but eventually used her powers, accepting that she was Q, by saving the people of Tagra IV. She then agreed to go with Q to the Continuum.
Deep Space Nine
Q did not only plague the Enterprise. He followed Vash back to the Alpha Quadrant just as a new wormhole linking trade with the Gamma Quadrant had been established at Deep Space Nine. Vash had been dropped off in the Gamma Quadrant and made her way back to DS9 via the USS Ganges with Lieutenant Jadzia Dax and Ensign Pauley. The ship had lost power and had nearly killed the three of them with a lack of oxygen. Eventually, Q showed up to tell her off for “pinning” after Picard. Benjamin Sisko dealt with the aggravations of Q much differently than Picard had, leading to a startled Q after Sisko belted him. “You hit me! Picard never hit me!”
Vash resisted temptations to join Q, saying she was going back to Earth, and Q finally abandoned her for good, noting that he would miss her.
Picard’s Past and the Never Ending Trial
Picard’s artificial heart failed and Q appeared to him as “God”. He gave Picard the chance to go back and have a do-over at his youth. Picard relived his past and triumphed, changing history, but found out that his history was what made him the officer he was, and without it, he would not have become the man he had became.
Picard was not sure if the whole experience was real or not, but he still had some gratitude towards the revelations given.
In 2370, Q returned to the Enterprise to resume the trial that he'd started years before. Picard had to deal with a problem in three different times, past, present, and future. Dealing with it successfully meant proving to the Q Continuum that Humanity was worth not destroying. Picard figured out that it was an eruption of anti-time in the Devron system, which affected everything by destroying in the past and erasing all futures. It was a paradox, one that Picard created. Q did help Picard by helping him to understand anti-time eruptions. Picard was successful in all three times, closing the anomaly before it caused the ripples of destruction. Q told Picard that he had won but that “the trial never ends”.
The USS Voyager, which had been stranded far from Earth, in the Delta Quadrant, discovered a Q whom they accidentally released from his containment on a comet. He requested asylum so he could commit suicide. The Continuum had imprisoned him to keep him from doing so, to keep, as the Q is known to the Enterprise would say later, the Continuum from sliding into chaos and civil war as his actions would impact them all. This Q called himself Quinn. Q appeared to take him into custody, but Quinn convinced Q that chaos and free will are necessary. Quinn turned himself mortal and Q resolved to be more true to himself.
This however did result in the war in the Q continuum that was feared. Q to stop it, decided that mating with Captain Janeway would be the best way to solve the war. She declined, but she did offer to help negotiate between the warring sides of order and chaos. They failed. The Status quo side required the execution of Q and Janeway. A female Q, and an old flame of Q, appeared and rescued them along with the Voyager crew using Q weapons. Eventually, the two Qs agreed to mate and have the child that would end the hostilities. Junior is born, the first Q child born for a thousand years.
However, later on, “Aunt Kathy” (Captain Janeway) got stuck with Junior, as he had turned into an entitled brat. The Continuum threatened that they would turn him into an Oprelian amoeba unless he straightend up within the week. Junior proved himself by being willing to sacrifice himself for a friend. However, it was too little too late for the Continuum and they wanted to make him human permanently. Q protested for Junior and said that they were a package deal. The Continuum relented on the condition that Q would be in perpetual custody of Junior. To say thank you, he gave a map to Earth to Janeway. When asked why he didn’t just zip the ship all the way back to Earth, Q replied that he would be setting a bad example for his son if he did all the work for them.
Q was well known to most of Starfleet, including on the ship the USS Cerritos. He appeared (in his trial outfit) or was referenced several times by crewmen. He made some of the crew play a human chess game. The opposing pieces were anthropomorphic playing cards holding hockey sticks. With football goal posts at either end of the chessboard, as well as a singing, dancing soccer ball.
He even appeared to Ensign Mariner, after K'Tuevon Prime, attempting to goad her into entertaining him, of which she said she was not interested.
Q, the eternal trickster is likely to keep plaguing Starfleet, especially Picard, in the future.