There have been various questions about the android Data, how human-like he really is in his needs and behaviour, but none of them address something I started wondering as soon as I first saw him.

enter image description here

Look at that sleek, well-groomed hairstyle. As far as I've watched in TNG (which admittedly isn't very far at this point), I've never seen him with a single hair out of place. Is it just fixed-form bioplast sheeting in a different shape from his skin, or does it grow and need to be cut regularly and combed each day like human hair?

The same question could apply to his fingernails and so on, of course, so my general question is:

does Data's body change over time and require regular care, or not?

  • Alas my time zone puts me at a disadvantage again! All great answers to a great question! Apr 5, 2016 at 22:32
  • @N_Soong Ah, I should have thought of that. Next time maybe I'll try to ask a Data question while you're awake ;-) I'm surprised by the number of different good answers this got (a definite HNQ job), so it didn't suffer too much by not getting an answer from Dr Soong himself!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 5, 2016 at 23:45
  • 1
    Data should be treated as a plural
    – tox123
    Apr 6, 2016 at 2:05
  • 1
    The first thing that popped into my head when reading "Is it just fixed-form bioplast" was the episode Thine Own Self (S7E16). His look there is definitely not the usual sleek one.
    – Geobits
    Apr 6, 2016 at 5:00
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    Yes. He needs to cut his hair, clean his room, stop hanging around with those wasters he calls friends and get a job. Apr 7, 2016 at 20:46

7 Answers 7


Data did grow a beard at one point (TNG: "The Schizoid Man") so I guess he needs to cut his hair.

enter image description here

Alternatively, he can chose when to grow the hair or the beard.

After some search I found that in episode "Birthright, Part I" (at 11:05), he says he can control the rate of his hair growth. So judging from that information, it probably means he may need to cut it if he goes a little wild in his decision to grow it.

  • 11
    Wow, that looks surreal.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 5, 2016 at 16:43
  • 25
    And more importantly, did his characterization significantly improve after growing it?
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 5, 2016 at 16:50
  • 2
    TNG: "The Schizoid Man"
    – Ram
    Apr 5, 2016 at 16:50
  • 23
    When I stroke the beard thusly...
    – TecBrat
    Apr 5, 2016 at 17:22
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    The scene with Data showing off his new beard is in the opening part of the transcript here--judging by Geordi and Troi's reaction, it isn't something he was gradually growing for weeks earlier, suggesting either that his rate of hair growth could be manually controlled (so he could make it so the hair on his head didn't grow at all), or he was just using the 24th century equivalent of a fake beard (which might be considerably more advanced than the primitive fake beards of our own backwards era).
    – Hypnosifl
    Apr 5, 2016 at 17:46

This question was directly addressed in the episode Birthright, Part 1:

        Data... may I ask you a personal


        Does your hair grow?

Data thinks a moment, taken aback by the question.

        I can control the rate of my
        follicle replenishment. However,
        I have not yet had a reason to
        modify the length of my hair.

"Birthright" script (txt file)


Data's hair definitely does not require trimming.

In the episode "Data's Day", Data visits the barber shop while Geordi is getting his own cut. He tries out the following joke with Geordi:

My hair does not require trimming you lunkhead!

Even though Data is not the best at jokes, this definitely implies that Data does not need the services of the ship barber.

  • Also note, although I cannot remember the exact line, I believe Data directly makes reference to not needing a barber in this episode and in this scene.
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 5, 2016 at 16:41
  • Right, I forgot about this quote! Good find! Apr 5, 2016 at 16:42
  • Transcript here: www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/185.htm Can't check it at the moment sadly
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 5, 2016 at 16:43
  • 51
    "LAFORGE: Here for a trim? DATA: My hair does not require trimming, you lunkhead. LAFORGE: What? DATA: My hair does not require trimming LAFORGE: Lunkhead? DATA: I am experimenting with friendly jibes and insults. It was not meant as a serious disparagement."
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 5, 2016 at 16:44

No, Data was asked this by a child in Star Trek:Insurrection. See the quote below for more details. He more or less states that things about him don't change like they will for the child over time.

Although he doesn't come out and actually say it, he implies that he doesn't need the same 'maintenance' as a person would.

UPDATE: Below is the conversation about this between Data and Artim in Star Trek:Insurrection:

DATA: My legs are exactly eighty-seven point two centimetres in length. They were eighty-seven point two centimetres the day I was created. They will be eighty-seven point two centimetres the day I go off line. My operation depends on specifications that do not change. I will never know the experience of ...growing up or ...tripping over my own feet.

ARTIM: But you've never had adults telling you what to do all the time, ...or bedtimes, ...or having to eat food you don't like.

DATA: I would gladly accept the requirement of a bedtime in exchange for knowing what it is like to be a child.

  • Transcript of Insurrection here.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 5, 2016 at 16:42
  • "DATA: My legs are exactly eighty-seven point two centimetres in length. They were eighty-seven point two centimetres the day I was created. They will be eighty-seven point two centimetres the day I go off line. My operation depends on specifications that do not change. I will never know the experience of ...growing up or ...tripping over my own feet."
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 5, 2016 at 16:43
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    This simply describes that his general dimensions do not change, as the context of that scene was about tripping over one's feet. But we know that Data has some processes that mimic biological functions which does indicate he can change.
    – Ellesedil
    Apr 5, 2016 at 18:17
  • 1
    Why would any android designer choose eighty-seven point two centimetres for leg length? Sounds like a manufacturing nightmare. Apr 7, 2016 at 12:48
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    @Dan Often Wrong Soong. Apr 7, 2016 at 18:58

I'm only going to address your general question, as I think the hair aspect has been thoroughly covered.

Regarding the general question, I see two sub-questions:

1) Does Data's Body change over time?

The answers already provided are all wonderful, but there is one other point I'd like to make. Observe Data's appearance in Season 1:

enter image description here

and now in Star Trek Nemesis:

enter image description here

Between 2364 and 2379 (15 years), we can see signs that Data has aged. This is more of a visual confirmation of @Jack B Nimble's answer where Geordi briefly mentions that Data does have an ageing subroutine.

So, the answer is YES

2) Does Data need regular care or not?

This is actually addressed in my answer here. To summarise it:

  • Data has a bio-mechanical maintenance programme that is 'self-sufficient'
  • He is capable of running self-diagnostics

So, he doesn't need regular care - he can perform his own self-maintenance if required; only when something goes seriously wrong does he need to seek help from others.

So, the answer is YES, but only by himself. He doesn't need regular care from other people.

  • 2
    Re point 1, I assume that was necessary from an out-of-universe perspective? (Brent Spiner looks ancient these days!)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 6, 2016 at 0:35
  • 2
    I would consider Data's self-maintenance to be "regular care", so the answer is yes. I mean, I have to brush my teeth every day, so I require regular care.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 6, 2016 at 0:35
  • 4
    @Randal'Thor in fact, this was one of the reasons Spiner wanted to finish being Data - because it took so long to put on the makeup so Data wouldn't look so old! But if we look at it from a strictly in-universe explanation of this, then that's what I've done ;) Apr 6, 2016 at 0:37
  • @DCShannon that's a good point - I got too engrossed in what I was doing and forgot the actual question! My bad! Apr 6, 2016 at 0:37
  • 1
    @N_Soong: I suspect it's one of those things that we've been given all sorts of information about that can't really be reliably conflated to a single conclusion. Such is TV! Apr 7, 2016 at 23:41

In Star Trek: First Contact you can see Data's hair has become loose on his altered side.

enter image description here

Geordi says that Data ages.

Just in case you missed it:

LAFORGE: It's part of her aging programme. Not only does she age in appearance like Data, her vital signs change too.

Although I don't know if this means that his hair grows or not.

There is also the time Data says he occasionally ingests "semi-organic nutrient suspension in a silicon-based liquid medium" to lubricate his bio-functions. Which suggests that his body requires some regular care.

  • @amarillo I like to keep my audience in suspense. Apr 5, 2016 at 16:34
  • The rest of the answer is behind a pay service login. Apr 5, 2016 at 16:41
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    I didn't know stack exchange adopted a DLC model for votes.
    – corsiKa
    Apr 5, 2016 at 17:38
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    Does any part of this actually address his hair growing?
    – DCShannon
    Apr 6, 2016 at 0:19
  • The Borg altered parts was a replacement of his existing hair and skin. They basically did a skin and hair graft from a donor (or manufactured). It was complete with nerve endings and was able to respond to pain and various senses. His original skin probably just has micro-sensors that just say "I'm touched", or "this water is 38c". The Borg used the graft to win him over as either making him more human (fulfilling his desires), or to crush his dreams and spirit hoping he would join the "stronger" force.
    – BPugh
    Apr 7, 2016 at 12:39

In "Measure of a Man," Data says, "My condition does not change with the passage of time, Commander." Since this is responding to small talk asking how he is, he might mean his emotional condition or lack thereof. But he is typically quite literal. He also does not appear to have aged twenty-five years into the alternative future timeline of "All Good Things," and once got sent back five hundred years into the past, and had his head rediscovered and reattached in the future, with no lasting effects.

There is, as other answers have mentioned, evidence from other episodes that he does age.

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