Q (Star Trek)
|Title/Rank:||too omnipotent to need one|
|Relationships:||relationship with Suzie Q; father to Q Junior|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager|
|Other:||Memory Alpha article|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
You are arrogant, you're overbearing, and you think you know everything.
But I do know everything.
That makes it worse.
--Vash & Q, 'Q-Less' (DS9)
Q is a representative of a godlike race, also called the Q, and plays a trickster archetype. Despite being a close-to omnipotent being, he almost always presents in the same middle-aged male body and comes across as less mature than Wesley. He has a thing for captains, flirting with Jean-Luc Picard and stealing his girlfriend, and coming on to Kathryn Janeway. He also has an unexplained history with Guinan, which leaves them deadly enemies.
Key episodes include the one where he's made human as a punishment and takes shelter on the Enterprise ('Deja Q', aka the episode that launched a thousand AUs); the one where he throws the Enterprise at the Borg after Picard turns him down; and the one where he has to make a baby with Janeway to stop a civil war.
Other canonical Q entities, all confusingly also known as Q, include:
- Amanda Rogers, a Q entity raised as human ('True Q', TNG)
- Q2 ('Deja Q', TNG)
- Quinn, a suicidal Q ('Death Wish', Voyager)
- the female Q (Suzie Q, Lady Q), Q's mate ('The Q and the Grey', Voyager)
- Q Junior, Q & the female Q's son ('Q2', Voyager)
Alara Rogers on her changing perspectives on the character:
Immediately I decided that I hated the character of Q. He was a ripoff of two or three different Classic Trek concepts -- I counted Trelane, the Metrons, and maybe the Melkotians as well-- and the concepts hadn't been that great the first time. Godlike being puts humanity on trial for being too warlike. Oh, spare me. Q was pompous, arrogant, hypocritical, and apparently none too bright, and I was deeply annoyed with the show for trying to tell me that highly advanced beings would behave like that. ...
...So I watched the Q episode [of DS9], and discovered something shocking.
I liked Q.
He was still arrogant, but now it was clear that he was supposed to be an asshole, that he wasn't emotionally a superior being at all, and that that was the point. Q is the guy, in D&D terms, with the Intelligence of 18+ and the Wisdom of 3. He's an arrogant, overbearing, obnoxious jerk who, unfortunately, really does know everything. The character was far, far funnier than I remembered. ...
Rather than being the mere plot device (and a ridiculous one at that) he was in the first episode of TNG, I found that Q was actually a character who changes and grows over time throughout his appearances on the series. Unlike every other godlike alien Classic Trek, or even TNG and DS9, presented us with, Q is just this guy. He's not merely a foil for the good guys to prove how moral, how smart, or how agnostic they are; he's a character, a person in his own right. And while his species is obviously very different from ours, it's clear that emotionally, they're pretty damn similar. Which isn't all that likely, but what the hell, it's TV, I can suspend my disbelief.
Atara Stein on an early Q episode, 'Hide and Q':
...Q needed a new twist.
Fortunately for his subsequent appearances on the show, de Lancie establishes some interesting facets of Q's demeanor that will provide significant material later. One is simply the energy of his performance, particularly given the stilted lines he is given. ... He is such fun to watch, particularly in Q's confrontations with Picard, that he had to be brought back in some fashion. This episode also subtly (or not so subtly) establishes Q's polymorphous sexuality. His demeanor toward Riker during their conversation on the planet is campy and seductive; he draws close to the first officer, invading his personal space and giving him a series of low-lidded seductive looks while speaking in a bedroom voice that incongruously undermines the pretentious dialog about human evolution. One viewer, who had never seen a Q episode before, watched a minute or so of this scene, then asked, "Is Q gay?" Q's smile and tone of voice with which he delivers the line "You're gonna miss me" is far more flirtatious thanmenacing.
Alexander V. on the appeal of Q:
The universe isn't like that. There are no 'good' and 'bad' guys. I
personally think that's why Q is on the show. On one side you have all those Federation boys who think they know EXACTLY what is right and what is wrong. And the other side you have Q who is a 'bad' guy (But only to Federation standards), but he shows that things like 'good' and 'bad' are just personalconcepts. ...
Q shows that our human standards
are not the only ones. They might even be wrong. In fact theyprobably are wrong.
A lot of fans could only explain Q's behaviour by assuming he was in love with Picard; Picard/Q gained a devoted following to become one of the major TNG slash pairings. Janeway/Q failed to have the same popularity, with many fans considering the pair had no chemistry. Q also gets paired with many other Trek characters, including Paris, Bashir and Data, not to mention droves of original characters who often score highly on the Mary-Sue scale.
Non-explicit Q fanfiction frequently explores Q's true nature and how it differs from the human experience, often in the context of a trusting relationship with another character. Q is sometimes included in ensemble adventures (occasionally for Trek series in which he doesn't appear), usually as a generic villain or as a plot device for time or dimensional travel, or the like.
- The King Who Would Be Man by M Fae Glasgow (in Pæan to Priapus II; 1990) -- an early printzine example of the pairing with many of the ideas explored in later fanfiction already in place: female Q, female Picard, d/s powerplay, Q affected by human emotions after his spell of humanity
- Sanity & Reality by Tiggy Malvern (c.2002) -- set during the Dominion War arc of DS9
- Accidental by Shalott (2003) -- Q's true form
- A Far Distant Star by Icarus Chained (2007) -- explores Q's experience of the universe via Deanna Troi
- For more examples, see the Picard/Q article
- Only Human by Alara Rogers -- a novel in which Q never regains his powers after 'Deja Q'; Q/f (started in 1993; remains a WiP as of 2012)
- Several spinoff AUs in the Only Human verse are almost as well known, including PropinQuity by Mercutio and InseQurity by Mercutio & Alara; Q/f
- The Night The Day The War Began by Alara Rogers (2009) -- Q/Amanda Rogers (another Q entity). Alien sex
- The Friends With Benefits series by Alara Rogers (2009-2011) -- a group of post-Voyager stories in which Q and Janeway are casual lovers
- Dance of Chameleon and Mirror by Alara Rogers (1994) -- backstory for Q and Guinan
- From Me to Q by Julia Houston (c.1997) -- episode-like adventure with implied P/Q
- Beyond Gloomy Chaos by Laura Taylor (2000) -- post-DS9 novel
- And Justice For Q by John Berger (2001) -- fallout for the Borg incident
- Alara's Q Archive -- small archive of stories selected by Alara Rogers
- Alt.Fan.Q Story Archive -- archive for alt.fan.q, plus recs from Mercutio
- Vash's Q Fanfic Archive (defunct)
- Works tagged 'Q' at Archive of Our Own
- TNG & Voyager works tagged 'Q' at fanfiction.net
- BiblioQ -- directory of Q fanfiction to 1997, both printzine & online, reviewed by Alara Rogers & Mercutio
- Q-niverse: Alara Rogers
- JM's Fanfiction
- Mercutio's Fanfiction (also other fandoms)
- Queriana's Q-FanFiction (defunct)
- Varoneeka's Slash, Mush, and More...
- Qubed (1992)
- Quisine (?-1991; 4 issues) -- publication of the Q Appreciation Society, with fanfiction and essays
- alt.fan.q -- for discussions of Q, other Q, Q from James Bond, actors that play Q, and postings of stories about Q. Basically anything Q. Also lengthy discussions of other characters played by John de Lancie.
- 'More Maligned than Malignant' by Annie Hamilton (?-1991) -- series of three essays on Q's role as a teacher, which appeared in the zine, Quisine
- 'Star Trek's Q: A Byronic Hero for The Next Generation' by Atara Stein (1994); paper presented to the Philological Association of the Pacific Coast & reprinted in The Byronic Hero in Film, Fiction, and Television -- discusses Q's resemblance to Byron
- Q Rules! by Atara Stein (1995)
- Minding One's P's and Q's: Homoeroticism in Star Trek: The Next Generation (link) by Atara Stein (1998) -- Picard/Q
- Through and Through Q by Alara Rogers (2004)
- Captain Control and the God of Ritalin by Alara Rogers (2004) -- Picard/Q