What are the historical antecedents of Q's judge costume?

Q wearing a flowing red gown with brocade collar

Specifically, does it come from a specific human time and location?

  • 3
    Are you asking where Q pulled it from, or where the show's costume designers got their inspiration from? Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:20
  • 1
    @JasonBaker, "specific human time and location" seems to imply "where did Q pull it from" Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:40
  • @ThePopMachine My first thought about "specific human time and location" was out-of-universe inspiration. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:56
  • 2
    @AngeloDeMichaels: If OP meant the inspiration for the costume designer, the 'human' qualifier wouldn't be necessary. Unless we have met extraterrestrial humanoid races IRL and no one told me. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 17:01
  • 2
    The collar of state could be from any European country from about 1400 to 1850 or so. The cartridge-pleated shoulders evoke 15th century Italy or 16th century western Europe. From this picture, I can't quite tell what's going on with the hat.
    – Martha
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 18:20

5 Answers 5


So far the best answer I can find.

JOHN De LANCIE (Q): I actually think the judge’s costume was pulled off another show. They did that kind of thing all the time, especially early on. Studios have a bazillion costumes in stock and they’re just redone to fit whatever’s needed on the next show or movie. So I believe that judge’s costume was a cardinal’s outfit from something else. - See more at: http://www.startrek.com/article/encounter-at-farpoint-28-years-later-an-oral-history#sthash.wfllWqzK.dpuf


The in-universe explanation is that it is from the mid-21st century courts, specifically 2079.

Encounter at Farpoint

DATA: Historically intriguing, Captain. Very, very accurate.

PICARD: Mid twenty first century. The post-atomic horror.


Q (JUDGE): Objection denied. This is a court of the year 2079, by ...

Anglo's answer is a great practical reason for the costume choice. I would like to add that the court also has a very sinister, guilty-until innocent feel that many Catholic Inquisition courts were / or at least portrayed to be as. The costume reflects this idea rather successfully.


This is covered in the show's original script. The decor and clothing are consistent with the year 2049, prior to first contact.

[It is an immense courtroom meant to reflect strength and power. (We'll discover that it dates back to the mid-21st Century post-atomic crisis era.) Both decor and legal procedures reflect the time when a desperate humanity, still wounded and bleeding from nuclear war, sought answers to its pain and problems through the merciless strength of a new form of dictatorial government representing neither capitalism nor communism.]


"Q" (JUDGE): This is a court of the year 2049, by which time more 'rapid progress' had caused all 'United Earth' nonsense to be abolished.

In the episode, the line is broadly identical, but for reasons known only to the writers, the setting (and Q's line) had been shifted forward to a point after the end of the Third World War

"Q" (JUDGE): This is a court of the year 2079 [, etc]

  • Intersting, chakoteya says 2079. I am curious as what was said on-screen now.
    – RomaH
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 18:35
  • @RomaH - The episode says 2079. I've updated the answer to reflect what happened on-screen
    – Valorum
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 18:51

The costume borrows styling from the traditional French academic robes still in use today. I got my doctorate at Strasbourg and my shoulder sash (that bit coming over Q's left shoulder), while not the same color, is virtually identical in appearance. The shroud covering the sides of the head is definitely not part of my set-up, however; it might be an attempt on the part of the producers to evoke that Inquisitional mood one of the other commenters mentioned.


Given what De'Lancie has said 'pulled it off another show', but at one of my first ever UK Star trek Conventions I was told with quick shift, that it was a set of French C16th Judges Robes and indeed it is only those robes are black.

Anyone making it, the hat the most difficault thing to make well

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