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Pairing: Jean-Luc Picard/Q
Alternative name(s): Picard/Q, P/Q
Gender category: usually slash, though genderswaps are frequent
Fandom: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Canonical?: hints
Prevalence: common
Archives: Trekiverse: Picard/Q; Alara's Q Archive: TNG
Other: interspecies
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Picard/Q is a slash pairing between Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise and the recurring character, Q, a trickster with godlike powers, a flamboyant fashion sense and absolutely no concept of personal space. Despite involving a minor character, P/Q gained a devoted following to become one of the major slash pairings of Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Atara Stein writes that "Q" comes to stand, increasingly, for Queer,[1] and John de Lancie's camped up performance certainly foregrounds the gay subtext of his relationship with Picard. John ... had a kind of boldness about him, a way of looking at Picard that was provocative, according to Patrick Stewart, and a lot of fans saw electrifying onscreen chemistry in almost every Q and Picard scene.[1]

It's hard to explain Q's behaviour during the later episodes of TNG without assuming he's in love with Picard; Ron Moore, writer of some key Q episodes, has stated that this was the creative team's intent.[1] Alara Rogers sums it up from the fannish side:

Between the obsession with joining Picard's crew, the frequent attempts to "help" Picard, the jealous hissy fits when Picard turns him down, the getting in Picard's personal space (and *twice*, in his bed)... there would be no question whatsoever that Q is in love with Picard if one of them were female. Since they're not, the producers wouldn't go there, but it's a better explanation for Q's behavior than "Q really likes humanity".[2]

Opinion differs on how far this love has a physical expression -- Moore thinks not very,[1] a lot of fans beg to differ -- as well as on to what extent Q's feelings are requited by Picard. Alara again: while the Picard side of the romantic equation is not as blatantly obvious as the Q side of P/Q, slashers can find support for reciprocity (or write stories that deliberately address the lack of reciprocity.)[2]


The attraction of Picard/Q to fan writers is manifold. Some like the power dynamics, ... Some like the opposition of the characters-- spirit of chaos vs. control freak-- and others observe that the two are in fact more similar than either of them like to admit (Q is just as emotionally distant as Picard, but hides it with sarcasm and wit instead of politeness, and Picard, as a young man, was a lot more like Q.) The witty banter plays an important role, and some are impressed by the overall equality of it-- that, despite the fact that Q is an immortal god, Picard holds his own and even gets the better of Q with fair frequency. The fact that the actors quite deliberately threw subtext in there doesn't hurt. (Alara Rogers)[2]

Much fanfiction for the pairing is explicitly sexual. An early printzine example, first published in 1990, is M Fae Glasgow's The King Who Would Be Man. M Fae includes many of the elements explored in later fanfiction -- female Q, female Picard, D/s powerplay, reluctant Picard, and Q being affected by human emotions after his spell of humanity in 'Deja Q'.

Erotic stories often explore powerplay in the context of a relationship between a near-omnipotent being and a control freak. His Beloved Pet (1996), by two giants of the pairing, Ruth Gifford & Atara Stein, is a famous BDSM story in which Picard relaxes in the role of a sub, and numerous other stories followed this pattern. Other works take the opposite route and render Q powerless, human or amnesiac to even up the power dynamics. Varoneeka's An Hour of Eternity (1999), for example, traps Q in an alt-New Orleans without his powers, and forces the couple to cooperate to get themselves out of the situation.

Gender issues form another theme for erotica. The fact that Q's human gender appears fluid and his true form is unlikely to express gender physically has led to an abundance of genderswap stories, an unusual trope in Trek fandom of this vintage -- although in perhaps the most influential, Ruth's My Fair Jeanne (1995), it is Picard who becomes a woman.

Some P/Q fanfiction explores Q's true nature and how it differs from the human experience in the context of a trusting relationship with Picard. In Accidental by Shalott (2003), Q manifests his true form during an intimate moment. In A Far Distant Star (2007), Icarus Chained uses Deanna Troi's empathic skills to explore Q's experience of the universe and his intense loneliness, a common trope in P/Q stories.

Other stories keep the P/Q temperature around that on the show. A widely recommended example is From Me to Q by Julia Houston (1997), an ensemble adventure with an episode-like feel.

Further Examples

For a full listing of Picard/Q fanfiction on Fanlore, see Category:Star Trek TNG Picard/Q Fanfiction


Mailing Lists

Yahoo groups

  • PiQuante -- founded March 2001; an adult list for discussion and posting of Picard/Q fiction, on-screen interaction and the characters of Picard and Q.[3]


Archives and Links


  1. ^ a b c d Stein, Atara. Minding One's P's and Q's: Homoeroticism in Star Trek: The Next Generation Genders 27 (1998) (accessed 17 May 2012)
  2. ^ a b c The Shipper's Manifesto: Captain Control and the God of Ritalin (Picard/Q) (accessed 17 May 2012)
  3. ^ Yahoo Groups: PiQuante (accessed 17 May 2012)