Toward the end of Genesis, de-evolved Worf is pounding on a door, trying to get to Deanna Troi. Data and Picard are also behind the door. Picard then decides to take Deanna's pheromones with him in a hypospray, in order to lure Worf away. This action obviously put Picard at great risk.

Why didn't Data simply open the doors to the sickbay, and then subdue Worf? Worf was likely stronger but still unquestionably not a match for Data, weapon or not.

(And yes, I know the out-of-universe reason is so that there'd be plenty of action for fans to watch, with Patrick Stewart being pursued by an angry Michael Dorn. But I don't need the obvious real-world explanation.)

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    To nitpick they were in Sick bay, not someone's quarters.
    – Xantec
    Nov 15, 2014 at 3:46
  • Thanks. I haven't seen the episode in a while.
    – user30592
    Nov 15, 2014 at 18:12

3 Answers 3


The trick would be subduing a feral and enraged Worf without injuring him. As an analogy, a man can within reasonable size limits subdue a wild animal with his bare hands. Doing so without injuring the animal (or himself) is a whole other story. Data could snap Worf's neck or strangle him to unconsciousness easily enough, but Worf might well break his own bones and teeth trying to get free, much as a panicked wild animal might. Or Worf might dimly remember where Data's off switch is...

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    I appreciate your answer. Though if Worf couldn't even speak English anymore, I doubt he'd recall anything about Data's off switch.
    – user30592
    Nov 15, 2014 at 2:22
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    I don't like this answer because it dismisses Data's fine motor control.
    – Tritium21
    Nov 15, 2014 at 5:35
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    Data is not only strong but also extremely fast and precise. I don't buy this answer Jan 13, 2015 at 14:43
  • only Beverly Crusher knows where the off switch is located. just because others have seen it done to him doesn't mean they know where it is exactly, and IIRC there were defense mechanisms around it as well.
    – Malachi
    Sep 16, 2015 at 19:03
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    @Tritium21 I know I'm a few years late here but its not about fine motor control as this answer mentions. An animal (including humans) can break there own bones even when perfectly restrained. There is no safe way to restrain a panicked animal without injury. The muscle strength of a panicked animal can exceed the bone strength - you can break your own bones trying to lift a car off a child for example
    – Matt
    Oct 29, 2019 at 20:38

Because asking Data to subdue Worf in his enraged state could easily lead to Worf being inadvertently killed, something that they're desperately trying to avoid.

Note that they discuss the (more obvious) option of using hand-phasers on Worf. Data immediately highlights that this idea also has the potential to cause him serious injury:

PICARD : Set your phaser to heavy stun.

DATA : We have no way of knowing if the stun setting will have any effect on him, sir. And a higher setting may kill him.

  • There's also no guarantee that Data could take him depending on how much his strength has increased, but I would assume that he could since Data would have been able to pry that door open quite easily.
    – Omegacron
    Dec 22, 2017 at 20:27
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    @Omegacron - Even if Worf's strength was doubled, he'd still be no match whatsoever for Data; scifi.stackexchange.com/a/68317/20774. The greater risk is that Worf will harm himself trying to hurt Data.
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2017 at 20:39

In addition to the other answers pointing out that Data couldn't be sure he could subdue Worf without hurting him, he also couldn't be sure he could subdue Worf before Worf hurt somebody else.

It's a numbers game:

  • If Data lets Worf in and tries to subdue him:
    • There's a 75% chance that he can subdue Worf without seriously hurting him.
    • There's a 60% chance that he can subdue Worf before he hurts Picard or Troi.
  • If Data goes along with Picard's plan:
    • There's a 90% chance that Worf will abandon Troi and follow Picard.
    • There's an 80% chance that Picard can elude Worf until the situation is resolved.

I'm making those numbers up, but that's what I imagine Data's calculations look like. You're assuming that there's a high chance of Picard being hurt and a low chance of Worf being hurt, but that's not necessarily true. And in-universe, since Data did decide to go with Picard's plan, then he must have calculated the odds and decided it was the way to go.

  • Without wishing to appear rude, you seem to have pulled these numbers straight out of your bottom. Is there any specific rationale for them? In specific, I would imagine that the chances of him being able to subdue Worf would be 100%. The chances of Worf hurting Picard if he did so would be close to 0%
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2017 at 23:41
  • @Valorum I specifically said I'm making up the numbers. You and I can argue about what the percentages would be, but in-universe, Data crunched the numbers and decided that Picard's plan was the best. That means that in-universe, the chances of nobody getting hurt was higher in Picard's plan then if they had let Worf in. So a lot of the assumptions in OP's question aren't valid. Dec 22, 2017 at 23:45
  • Since Data is basically a logical entity, it follows that his decision must have been based on logic. I'm not sure how this answer explains what logic was at play when he made his decision. If anything, your logic suggests that the safe option would have been to kill Worf to prevent Worf from killing anyone else.
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2017 at 23:51
  • @Valorum Uhhh... what? Data has multiple metrics to consider: not hurting Worf, not allowing him to hurt others, etc. The existing answers highlight the focus on not hurting Worf. My answer was an attempt to focus on the other half: not allowing Worf to hurt others. I think we're all saying the same thing, so I don't know why you're disagreeing here. Dec 22, 2017 at 23:54

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