For the most part, when appearing on Starfleet vessels, Q shows up wearing the uniform of whatever crew he visits.

I guess he doesn't have the creativity to create his own duds? Presumably the Q don't "wear" humanoid shapes while hanging out in the Continuum, and obviously wouldn't wear clothes.

But every time he visits Picard or Janeway, he's wearing the same sort of uniform.

If humans are so "pathetic" and "non-enties" from the Q's perspective (and they are), why dress like them?

  • 5
    He's doing it to make fun of them. And while Q teases about our being pathetic non-entities, it is revealed over time that he actually likes us a lot and is intrigued by us and is looking out for us.
    – Broklynite
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:19
  • I don't see how wearing the uniform would make fun of them, though. If anything, it sort of gives validation to them: if a mighty Q is willing to wear the uniform, it (or what it represents) can't be all that bad! Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:21
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    @T-1000'sSon Haha, I'm going to wear this deeply symbolic uniform without having earned the privilege, and there's nothing you can do to stop me. It doesn't matter that most of your kind have to work, and train, and sacrifice to wear this uniform, since your struggles are beneath me
    – DavidS
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:30
  • Thanks, I didn't think of that. Though Q could technically snap his fingers and either alter history, or just make everyone in the Federation think that's he's a legit member of Starfleet. Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:47
  • 2
    It never seemed to me like he was making fun of it. More like Hey, guys! Can I play? I'm cool, right? HE wants our respect.
    – Mazura
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 23:16

4 Answers 4


Q wears two distinct types of uniform;

Uniforms that he wears to mock humanity (typically Picard) as being an aggressive, violent child-like race

enter image description here

... the same humanoid face and figure as with the Elizabethan dress, but now the green officer's uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps. Over his jacket pocket three rows of medals and his narrow garrison cap shows the bars of a Captain.

"Q" (MARINE CAPTAIN): Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the communists. All it takes is a few good men.

PICARD: What? That nonsense is centuries behind us!

"Q" (MARINE CAPTAIN): But you can't deny Captain, that you're still a dangerous, savage child-race.

PICARD: Most certainly I deny it. I agree that we still were when ... humans wore costumes like that four hundred years ago...

"Q" (MARINE CAPTAIN): At which time you slaughtered millions in silly arguments about how to divide the resources of your little world. And four hundred years before that you were murdering each other in quarrels over tribal god-images. And since there have been no indications that humans will ever change

PICARD: But even as far back as that costume, we had begun to make rapid progress.

"Q" (MARINE CAPTAIN): Oh? Shall we review your "rapid progress"?

The "Q" visitor moves a hand again to create THE SAME SOUNDS and the SAME BLINDING FLASH, producing the same human image but this time unshaven and with an UGLY AUTOMATION LOOK AND IN THE UNIFORM OF A MILITARY OFFICER FROM THE MID 21st CENTURY WARS. Q's voice sounds a bit drugged now as he eyes his new costume.

"Q" (21ST CENTURY) (interrupting): Rapid progress to where humans learned to control their military with drugs?

TNG: Encounter at Farpoint

Uniforms that he wears specifically to annoy Picard, Riker and Janeway

enter image description here

"Q" (ADMIRAL): Starfleet Admiral "Q" at your service!

PICARD: You are not a Starfleet admiral, "Q"...

"Q" (ADMIRAL): Neither am I an Aldebaran serpent, Captain. But you accepted me as such.

Riker nods, a hint of the irony of this on his features.

RIKER: He's got us there, Captain.

TNG: Hide and "Q"

  • Is the device Q sticks up his nose supposed to have supplied the drugs? Commented May 10, 2016 at 19:01
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    Funny how everyone seemed to forget that little chapter in humanity's history while looking down on the Founders for controlling the Jem'Hadar with their addiction to Ketracel White, isn't it?
    – Roger
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 20:50
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    I'm assuming So the sheriff of Nottingham and the trumpet-playing mariachi band player outfits fit into the 2nd, annoying category...
    – iMerchant
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 21:46
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    @iMerchant - Very much so. Also this saucy number.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 22:06
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    @Roger I don't know if the writers just forgot or what, but it does go with DS9's darker view of the Federation to have that hypocrisy.
    – Torisuda
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 2:00

It's a symbol of authority

Q's whole shtick is that he thinks he's superior to everyone else. The best way to look superior to anyone on a starship is to have the highest-ranking uniform around.

As to why he wears a captain's uniform and not an Admiral's uniform or some sort of "Ultra-Admiral" uniform of his own design, I think he does that just to annoy the two captains.

  • 1
    The script indicates that the "ultra-admiral" uniform is the dress uniform of a Starfleet Admiral rather than something of his own devising.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 17:25
  • This might be true, but it's ultimately secondary to Q's seemingly real purpose, to get a rise out of the humans he's, uh, enlightening. Yeah... enlightening. In fact, Picard is known to take the bait on occasion.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 17:35
  • @Richard Ultra-admiral should be a real rank in the military. Commented May 14, 2016 at 4:57

In any military or quasi-military institution (eg Starfleet) the uniform and associated insignia has a particular significance because is is a very real symbol of authority. On one hand this is down to practical considerations as it is necessary for an officer or NCO to be able to assume authority regardless of whether they are known to the individuals they command or not. A large military organisation would quickly break down in a crisis if every leader had to assert themselves by force of personality in order to be able to issue orders. In fact this dynamic is a common trope especially in US centric sci-fi (see especially the leadership tensions between Galactica, Pegasus and the civil administration in the BSG reboot).

In many organisations the uniform and insignia also have specific legal status and may be fundamental to the sense of identity, loyalty and motivation of a unit. this goes back at least as far as the Roman Empire where the 'Eagle' insignia of a Legion was a physical symbol of their honour an identity. Certainly in the modern British army apparently archaic symbols like Colours (regimental standards) and cap badges and berets are treated with more reverence than the actual 'uniform' (in the sens of official clothing) or even badges of rank. There is also the fact that (for UK armed forces that least) that 'commissioned' ranks and Colours have a very specific legal authority originating from 'the Crown' (ie the seat of national sovereignty) as opposed to just being administrative ranks and the same applies to sworn Police Officers.

There is also the fact that a recognizable national uniform is a key part of of the rules of war and fighting in uniform gives specific legal protection to the wearer distinguishing them from eg spies and saboteurs.

There is also a strong sense that both a uniform and (especially) badges of rank are something which need to be earned and imply the acceptance of a certain code of behaviour.

So for an obvious enemy to appear in Star-fleet uniform is a clear provocation as it is both appropriating a culturally important identity and treating it as trivial. This is emphasized by the fact that Q goes out of his way to act in a way which is the antithesis of conventional military discipline and deportment.

On a more subtle level Q is also mocking the jingoism and unthinking nationalism which Starfleet overtly rejects but is still arguably implicit in it's quasi-military discipline.

  • Further aside: the notion of officers having a special legal origin to their authority isn't just a UK thing. Officer commissions are issued in the name of the head of state in many nations. In the US, commissions (nominally) originate in Congress and approved by the President (though in practice it's more of a formality for both).
    – rickster
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 15:48

The Q are non-corporeal, least so different there is no way to extrapolate them. When Q first appeared he manifested himself as a triple headed serpent. To appear more interactive, he manifested in a form Picard would idolize, a Sea Faring captain. Then as a United States Marine to mock uniformed comformist service, then as an Overdressed starfleet admiral. The reason to mock and troll them.

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