Do we really know whether the Q can time-travel as opposed to just having the ability to set up good illusions, and possibly take people out of time?

Don't we only have his word for it? Is there some hard example that shows Q really can travel and alter the timeline?

  • 12
    i mean the federation was able to time travel close to 70 years earlier, so its not unreasonable that a god like entity such as Q can time travel.
    – Himarm
    Sep 2, 2015 at 15:49
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    Well, if Q did alter the timeline, how would we know? Sep 2, 2015 at 16:03
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    It could all also be just a Holodeck sim of Barkley. At some stage you just gotta accept what is being presented
    – user001
    Sep 2, 2015 at 16:04
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    There are so many methods of time travel in Star Trek; it seems implausible that Q isn't aware of some of them and able to replicate some of those. Whether he bothered in the instances he seemed to do so is another question.
    – Politank-Z
    Sep 2, 2015 at 16:39
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    Sorry, this question is specious and unnecessary. If the Federation could travel through time affecting timeline and have LAWS and restrictions for doing so, why would anyone doubt the Q who have exhibited abilities as far beyond the Federations as the Federation's is above ours boggles the mind. We don't have to take their word for it. We have seen Timeships from the Federation future. We have seen the Enterprise routinely travel to the past. The Q clearly have complete control over matter and energy, why would you doubt time travel as one of their abilities? Sep 2, 2015 at 20:19

4 Answers 4


Yes. In the episode "Death Wish", the Q known as Quinn (AKA Q2) takes the Voyager back in time to the Big Bang itself.

TUVOK: Captain, based on our readings, it appears that we have been transported back in time to the birth of the universe.

Janeway looks sharply at Q2 who smiles as he watches the viewscreen... acknowledging.

Q2: Very old hiding place.

ANGLE (OPTICAL) There's a flash, and Q1 appears near Torres.

Q1: (beat, to Q2) I know all the hiding places, Q. I hid here from the Continuum myself once.

Even if Tuvok was somehow mistaken about his readings, since this time jump was made in an attempt to evade another Q (who presumably would be in no way fooled by a mere illusion) it makes no sense for this to have been a trick.

  • 2
    "Since this was an attempt to evade another Q, it makes no sense for this to have been an illusion." But where is the direct confirmation that time travel occurred? This "travel" could have been to some alternate pocket of spacetime, a Q-esque illusion. (I'm not going to downvote this answer, but I fail to see how this confirmation of time travel is superior.)
    – Praxis
    Sep 2, 2015 at 18:55
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    That's irrelevant. A being as powerful as Q could confuse the sensors so as to mimic the conditions believed to have been present at the Big Bang. If you can find a statement from Berman or Braga, etc., that Q is capable of time travel, then that would be undeniable.
    – Praxis
    Sep 2, 2015 at 18:58
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    @praxis - he might be able to confuse sensors, but how would he confuse another Q?
    – Valorum
    Sep 2, 2015 at 19:16
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    "...but how would he confuse another Q?" Ah, that's the key! I would suggest you emphasize that point more strongly, rather than the bit about Tuvok.
    – Praxis
    Sep 2, 2015 at 19:18
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    @Richard I reversed my downvote. I downvoted you because I didn't see how this answered the question, about having something that shows Q can really "travel and alter the timeline", because it could all be an illusion as Praxis pointed out. I'm commenting now to say Im convinced but I think your wording could still be clearer. Your reasons are clearer in your comments. Why don't you say in your answer that he can fool Voyager but not another Q?
    – user49238
    Sep 2, 2015 at 19:53

Nature of the Q continuum

The Q continuum is an extradimensional realm, and as such exists outside the space-time continuum of the universe as we perceive it.

It is highly likely, as extradimensional beings, that the Q can travel through time in our universe. Our universe is either a spacetime submanifold of the larger Q continuum or are two disconnected universes. In either case, the Q seem to be able to enter our spacetime manifold at a point of their choosing ("point" meaning a location in space and time).

Memory Alpha has the same opinion:

The Q Continuum was an extradimensional plane of existence inhabited by a race of beings known as the Q. The term could also refer to the Q society itself.

As a race, the Q were immortal, but not absolutely omniscient or omnipotent, just possessing the ability of instantaneous matter-energy transformation and teleportation, as well as the ability of time travel. Their apparent abilities included moving entire asteroid belts and stars, creating alternate timelines, and affecting universal states of nature such as the gravitational constant.

Note that these are just my opinions and the opinions of whoever contributed to the Memory Alpha entry.

Knowledge of time travel techniques

Since the Q are for all intents and purposes omniscient and know exactly what humans have and have not achieved, there is no denying that the Q would know that humans themselves have achieved time travel in the past (a feat performed twice by the original Enterprise crew). Therefore, the Q would know how to achieve at least one form of time travel.

Since the question was "Do we really know whether the Q can time-travel?" (rather than, "Have we seen an actual instance of Q travelling through time?"), the answer would almost certainly be Yes.

Possible canon example

In terms of canon, we see in the series finale of TNG ("All Good Things...") an example of Q travelling through time, at least seemingly. He and Picard travel between four different time periods: the present; seven years prior; twenty-five years into the future; and far into the past to a time when life was only beginning on Earth:

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On the face of it, there is no indication that these travels were an "illusion". On the other hand, since only Picard remembers what happened, it could have been an elaborate illusion. The sentiments of the official StarTrek.com entry on the episode suggest that it was "real", however:

Picard is returned to the moment his adventure began, coming from the Turbolift in his bathrobe. He shares his experience with the crew, using what he has learned about the future to forge a new, closer relationship with his dearest friends.


  • 2
    Actually, if you disregard Q's statements, "All Good Things" offers no independent confirmation of time travel. Note that Picard treats it as if the Temporal Prime Directive doesn't apply to the whole affair.
    – Valorum
    Sep 2, 2015 at 17:45
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    @Richard : I respectfully disagree. The temporal rift is present in all four time periods, and so we are witnessing travel between four points in time along a single timeline. Q has merely altered some aspect of the relationship between the four times precisely so that Picard doesn't have to violate the TPD to solve the problem.
    – Praxis
    Sep 2, 2015 at 18:52
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    @Richard : That's a fair point. I've added a bit more to the end of my answer. By the way, I at no point tried to pass off the Memory Alpha quote as fact. I used the word "opinion" in all versions of my answer. :-)
    – Praxis
    Sep 2, 2015 at 19:14
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    @praxis - I still have concerns. The episode in question offers no independent confirmation. Which is ultimately what the OP wanted. Yes, it's pedantic, but it's a pedantic question.
    – Valorum
    Sep 2, 2015 at 20:26
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    @Richard : I'm confused by your concerns. Where am I being definitive? I title that section as "Possible canon example". I write in that section, "On the other hand, since only Picard remembers what happened, it could have been an elaborate illusion." I call the excerpt from StarTrek.com "sentiments". And then I go on to say that your answer is better. Help me out here.
    – Praxis
    Sep 2, 2015 at 20:30

It would seem to me the answer can't be a complete yes, as it appears the Q can't see extremely far into the future, as Q notes in "Hide and Q" there is a future that is beyond even their ability to conceive.

Riker: Eons! Have you any idea how far we'll advance?

Q (COMMANDER): Perhaps in a future you cannot yet conceive... even beyond us. And so, we must know more about the human condition. We have selected you, Riker, to become part of the "Q"... to bring that human need and hunger to us so that we may understand it.

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    I don't see how this answers the question. That the Q are blocked from seeing/visiting a possible future doesn't mean that they can't time travel.
    – Valorum
    Sep 3, 2015 at 3:25
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    It's certainly possible (Even likely) they can time travel to the past, but if the Q can't see a future it would almost have to be that they can't time travel to it.
    – Tron
    Sep 3, 2015 at 4:24
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    @Luker except at the same rate as the rest of us
    – user46509
    Sep 3, 2015 at 9:55
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    I never took Q saying "...even beyond us" to mean "beyond the ability of the Q to see". Rather, I think he was implying that humans have the potential to advance themselves to levels beyond those that the Q has attained (the "perhaps" was to avoid giving Riker a definitive answer about humanity's future).
    – Mwr247
    Jul 1, 2016 at 19:24

Restating other answers, but Star Trek canon is full of examples of humans accidentally or intentionally travelling through time; the time travels are always depicted as "real" (never hallucinations or of ambiguous "reality") and usually explore some aspect of visits to the past influencing the "present" state (or affecting the timeline). This makes time travel an established fact within Star Trek canon, and in a number of cases (e.g. TNG "A Matter of Time") accomplished by a device of human (or at least mortal humanoid) construction and control. See this page for a more comprehensive list

  • TOS "The Naked Time" (three days to "live over again")
  • TOS "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (accidentally thrown into 1960s Earth)
  • TOS "Assignment: Earth" (Gary Seven)
  • TOS "The City on the Edge of Forever" (the "Guardian of Forever" allows McCoy to mess up the timeline and Kirk & Spock to go back and fix it; OK, not a human device, but apparently of "mortal" construction)
  • TNG "Yesterday's Enterprise" (a wormhole allows an earlier Enterprise to escape destruction at the hand of the Romulans by visiting the TNG timeframe)
  • TNG "Tapestry" (Picard never gets stabbed through the heart; arguably only playing out in Picard's head so maybe we can't count this one)
  • TNG "All Good Things" (three points in the Federation timeline; Q promises Picard that only he will be aware of Q's activity, but that doesn't diminish the fact that Picard is allowed to mess up and then correct the timeline)
  • TNG "A Matter of Time" ("Dr. Rasmussen" pays a visit to the Enterprise ostensibly to witness an important disaster relief mission)
  • DS9 "Little Green Men" (Quark & co. inadvertently become the 1947 Roswell aliens; played tongue-in-cheek, but no suggestion it was just an illusion)
  • DS9 "Trials and Tribble-ations" (The "orb of time" facilitates a visit to space station K7 during the time of "The Trouble with Tribbles")
  • DS9 "Past Tense" (Sisko and others accidentally travel back to the time of the "Bell Riots").
  • VOY "Time and Again" (time is fractured on a planet utilizing a tricky form of power, pulling Janeway and Paris into the planet's recent past)
  • VOY "Future's End" (Henry Starling of the late 20th century acquires technology from Capt. Braxton's time ship)
  • VOY "Relativity" (Braxton recruits Seven to find/disarm a bomb planted by his future self)
  • VOY "Timeless" (future Chakotay and Kim save "present" Voyager by sending a message into the past via technology from Seven; not a time travel story, but built around the existence of time travel-like technology)
  • VOY "Endgame" (future Janeway "borrows" an experimental time travel device to give her past self a little help in getting home sooner)
  • ENT (various episodes) - Enterprise had a "temporal cold war" as a recurring theme / series arc. Included in the arc was the mysterious figure from the future guiding the Suliban against the Federation and Crewman Daniels who is revealed to be an operative from the future sent to stop them. Story lines include Archer being scooped out of his present day (by Daniels) to visit a bleak future.
  • "The Voyage Home" (movie) - The TOS crew "slingshot" a Klingon bird of prey around the Sun to collect a couple of whales from 20th century Earth
  • "Generations" (movie) - Not exactly a time travel story, although the Nexus seems to exist outside of normal space and time, allowing someone to exit it at a time and place of their choosing, as used by Kirk to help Picard.
  • "First Contact" (movie) - The Borg go back in time to conquer Earth and the Enterprise follows to stop them, meeting Zefram Cochrane in the process)

Given all that canon, it would be hard to imagine that the Q could not do as much or more with time than humans or "lower forms" (in Q-speak) have done, either accidentally or intentionally.

For what it's worth: there is a DS9 story of Sisko as a 1950s science fiction writer, but this is clearly revealed to be a "vision"/hallucination.

  • 1
    If you're going to give a complete list, it seems remiss not to include ENT. Jul 1, 2016 at 21:29
  • @ThePopMachine fair point
    – Anthony X
    Jul 1, 2016 at 21:38
  • I'm happy with the reasoning in this answer and you put a lot of effort into compiling this, so you get my +1 for sure. :-)
    – Praxis
    Jul 2, 2016 at 4:22
  • I don't think the events of the DS9 episode to which you refer are clearly revealed to be a hallucination or illusion. It leaves open the possibility that all of DS9 is the hallucination. Jul 3, 2016 at 2:30

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