In "Deja Q," the human Q tries to take charge in Engineering, an attempt which greatly annoys Geordi. After Geordi tells Q to shut up, Q angrily states that he will not be spoken to in that manner. Geordi then calls for Data, who strongly suggests to Q that he cooperate.

It seems unlikely that Data would harm Q, so maybe he was suggesting that he'd physically drag Q from Engineering if the confrontations continued.

  • 3
    Keep in mind that Data is often seen "trying out" human behaviors, most often to comical effect. There's no reason to think that Data wouldn't try aggression or coercion. Another idea: Data, as a logical being, is also capable of stating the logically obvious (suggesting cooperation as the best approach) with a blank stare (which can be perceived as threatening (for humans)), without even requiring Data to want to hurt Q. Implications often elude Data, especially when related to human emotion.
    – Flater
    Aug 2, 2017 at 12:42
  • As a side note, Star Trek TNG has accepted Issac Asimov's Three (Four) Laws of Robotics. As such, the First Law would tell him to avoid injuring a human being (Q) unless by doing so he would be saving another human being from harm. As Asimov himself explored, the term "from harm" is very broad, but I think this would preclude Data from damaging Q if he could avoid it.
    – Zoey Green
    Aug 16, 2017 at 23:35
  • Also note that Data subscribes to the "0th Law" which overrides the first with concerns for "Humanity." His shooting of Capt. Fajo in "The Most Toys", and his shooting people and serving on a warship, shows he can balance individual harm against harm against society. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics). However, I'm strugging to find a reference to Data stating he follows those laws, only references to positronic brains, so feel free to ignore this whole concept.
    – Zoey Green
    Aug 16, 2017 at 23:41
  • 1
    I appreciate the comment, but there is no reason to think that Data follows those "rules." Lore is an android, and he most certainly does not. Aug 17, 2017 at 1:16

4 Answers 4


Yes, I think Data was implying he would physically move Q out of the engineering department by force.

Data will not injure somebody because of his moral programming, but he might injure them to prevent harm. He would not be interested in physically harming Q or overpowering him, but he would forcibly remove him from engineering if instructed by the chief engineer, Geordi.

Q was reduced to a human in that episode, so Data could have overpowered him. However, I doubt Data would need to move him by force because he has several means to move him without harming him.

  • He can have use the transporter's site-to-site beaming feature to put him directly to the brig.
  • He could have rendered Q unconscious with a Vulcan neck pinch. (He used this in the episode where he and Spock were on the planet, Romulus.)
  • He could have handcuffed him.

The point is that Data had multiple means to detain Q without harming him, but would have if necessary. Merely by threatening force, one can compel another to change their behavior without actually using force.

I gotta say the crew was admirable in their professionalism towards a vulnerable and detested Q in that episode.

  • 1
    If it came down to more physical means, Data's brute physical strength is many times greater than that of a human, but it is also many times more precisely controlled. I suspect Data could apply the proper amount of force to compel Q's acquiescence without physically harming him. It may be uncomfortable for Q, but Data would not have to injure him.
    – T.J.L.
    Aug 22, 2017 at 20:03
  • As for how 'admirable' the crew behaved, I prefer Guinan approach - stab him in the hand with a fork and then follow up with 'seems human'
    – Matt
    Dec 27, 2019 at 16:32

If by "hurt" you mean violently inflict physical punishment on Q, then no, as it is against the ethics code of Star Fleet to injure a prisoner without good cause, as well as the fact that Data (as an android) probably has some protocols that disallow him from harming a human unless he is in some special circumstance. But keep in mind that there are other ways to "hurt" someone. For a good part of that episode, Q was kept in the brig, which he was obviously unhappy with. He was also forced to wear clothing which "wasn't his colour".

Aside from physical punishment, there are plenty of ways in which Q could be dealt with, including sending him back to the brig or surrendering Q to the Calamarain (waiting outside to attack him). I don't think Data was threatening to physically assault Q, rather he was reminding Q that disciplinary actions could be taken if he continued to resist.

Data's statement could also have arisen from the general feeling of disdain that the crew had for Q, as he had constantly brought trouble for the Enterprise in the past (including alerting the Borg to their existence).

TLDR: Data was not making a physical threat, but rather reminding Q that there could be punishment for his actions.


I'd say he was suggesting he would physically remove Q to the brig, rather than threatening physical harm. The rest of the crew may have liked to see Q roughed up a bit, but this desire wouldn't have been a factor in Data's motivation.


Q is not dumb, and it may have been galling for Q to be reminded that cooperation opens more opportunities, and maintains existing opportunities.

Data's strong suggestion would have reminded Q of this, as in his human form other desires can overwhelm.

Data may have known that Q would respond intellectually to this reminder.

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