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Star Trek: Why Q Was Never In A Movie (And Why That Was Right)

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The Star Trek: The Next Generation movie franchise never utilized Q - arguably the show's most famous villain - but that was probably the right call. Played with menacing charm by John De Lancie, Q appeared in both the first and last episodes of The Next Generation, as well as a handful of episodes in between. The omnipotent Q always pushed the crew of the Enterprise to their limits, sometimes lightheartedly and sometimes deathly seriously. While TNG wasn't serialized, the Q Continuum's trial of humanity was a constant throughline, culminating in the epic series finale "All Good Things," in which the Continuum threatened the decimation of humanity.

But when it came time to make Star Trek: The Next Generation films, Q was nowhere to be found. While the Borg were an obvious choice to be an adversary to Picard and friends in Star Trek: First Contact, the likes of Tolian Soran in Star Trek: Generations, Shinzon of Remus in Star Trek: Nemesis, and Ahdar Ru'afo in Star Trek: Insurrection all lacked Q's dynamism and impishness, resulting in some rather bland baddies for the majority of the TNG films. So why not utilize one of the franchise's most popular antagonists when The Next Generation made the leap to the big screen?

De Lancie himself offered an intriguing explanation, suggesting that Q's relationship with Picard had evolved into something approaching a friendship by the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and making him a snarling bad guy again would be an unfortunate regression of the character. This is readily apparent in the show's last two Q episodes, the aforementioned "All Good Things," wherein Q outright helps Picard save all of humanity, and the fantastic sixth season episode "Tapestry," in which Q offers a near-death Picard a second chance at life.


But beyond De Lancie's reasoning, the relationship between Picard and Q had largely been resolved by the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not only did Picard prove to Q that humanity was a worthwhile species, but a bit of Picard's humanity had rubbed off on Q, who was a softer, ever so slightly more benevolent character by the series' end. That level of nuance would have been hard to pull off in a two hour film, and making Q more antagonistic to justify the dramatic tension needed in a big budget action film would have been a disservice to the character.

There's a decent chance we've not seen the last of Q. De Lancie recently reprised the role to agreeably silly effect in Star Trek: Lower Decks, and it's hard to imagine Star Trek: Picard won't bring him in at some point. It could be interesting to see how Q bounces off a much older Picard with a decidedly different worldview than when last they met, and De Lancie is still as sharp as ever as an actor. De Lancie himself has even hinted at a possible return for Q. But Q's story - specifically his role in Jean-Luc Picard's life - feels like it reached a natural ending point in "All Good Things." The producers of Star Trek were smart enough to realize this while they were making the TNG films - one of the few good decisions that went into making those films. Despite the temptation to bring Q into the current Star Trek renaissance, he's probably one character who's better left in the past.

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