Celebrating John de Lancie on his Birthday: The True Nature of Q

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 07: John de Lancie speaks during FAN EXPO at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on January 07, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. FAN EXPO New Orleans was previously produced as Wizard World New Orleans. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 07: John de Lancie speaks during FAN EXPO at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on January 07, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. FAN EXPO New Orleans was previously produced as Wizard World New Orleans. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images) /

John de Lancie is a Star Trek icon for his portrayal of Q

John Sherwood De Lancie was borne in Philadelphia, on March 20, 1948, being one of two children borne to John De Lancie SR and his wife Andrea. Throughout the course of his prolific career, De Lancie’s talents have been featured on numerous TV shows, several movies and he has even lent his deep resonant voice to a number of voice roles in animation and video games.

De Lancie is an extremely talented actor and an extraordinary man, but I don’t think anyone would disagree (including De Lancie himself) that he is most well-known for his role in Star Trek, playing one of the series most iconic “villains” known only by the letter Q.

De Lancie was once quoted as saying;

"My popularity is very disproportionate to the amount of times that I actually was on the show. … It’s a double-edged sword. I never partook of the financial rewards of the show in terms of being a regular, I just came on and once a year would do a show."

De Lancie carries the honor of being one of the few characters to appear in multiple series of the Trek franchise, with eight episodes of the Next Generation, one episode of Deep Space Nine, three episodes of Voyager, and one episode of Lower Decks.

Sense then, he has reprised his role in the currently ongoing series of Star Trek Picard, but he has recently announced that he will not be in season 3.

John de Lancie’s Q remains a popular Star Trek staple

The character of Q represents one of the wonderfully grey areas that Trek tackles so readily, for it would not be entirely accurate to refer to him as a “villain” in the traditional sense, in fact, despite his mischievous personality and obnoxious acerbic attitude, or perhaps even because of it, Q very well might be one of Trek’s anti-heroes.

"Picard: “Either leave or finish us.”Q: “Temper, temper, mon capitaine; I’m merely trying to assist a pitiful species.”"

From Encounter at Farpoint.

Throughout the course of TNG, Q would appear to the crew of the enterprise, and most times, despite his wreaking of havoc for the Enterprise and its crew, more often than not his motivations for doing so were to teach some type of valuable lesson to the crew, even if he pushed them to the edge of insanity more then once by doing so.

At one point, he was stripped of his god-like powers by the Q Continuum, he briefly became a member of the Enterprise crew, only to sacrifice himself to an alien race in order to save the Enterprise.

Due to the selfless nature of this sacrifice, the Q Continuum brought him back to life and restored his powers.

Q would return to the Enterprise to teach Picard a valuable lesson about love, using the legend of Robin Hood to illustrate his point and playing the role of the Sherriff of Naughtingham.

After this lesson had concluded, Q found himself interested in Picard’s love interest Vash. Q offered to take her on a journey to various archaeological ruins of the galaxy and she accepted, however, to pay off a debt he owed to Picard, Q promised that Vash would come to no harm.

Q has taken others under his tutelage and acted as a mentor in the case of the young woman Amanda Rodgers, who was working in sick bay aboard the Enterprise. While she was at first adverse to learning from Q due to his petulant and abrasive attitude, he finally persuaded her to go with him to the Q Continuum in order to learn how to properly use and manage her Q-like powers.

When Picard found himself critically injured during an alien ambush, Q would appear to him as God, telling Picard he died because of his artificial heart, offering him the opportunity to travel back in time to the incident in his youth that resulted in his receiving an artificial heart, allowing Picard to change his fate. Along the way, Picard would learn much about himself, not only as a youth, but as the successful and accomplished Star Fleet captain he had become, and was grateful to Q for this revelation.

Q would make several appearances in Voyager as well, one of the most memorable, as a parent to his son Q JR.

Captain Katherine Janeway would assist Q in solving his own issues, and to thank her for her assistance, Q provided Janeway with a map through the delta quadrant that shaved 3 years off Voyager’s journey home.

When Janeway asked Q why he didn’t just use his god-like powers to transport them all the way home, Q stated that it would set a bad example for his son if he did all the work for them, thus proving his fatherly nature towards his child.

One of the attributes of Q, and indeed what makes him one of the most interesting Trek characters (not to mention one of this Trekky’s personal favorites) is that regardless of his “villain” like ways, he is not a mustache twirling villain, bent on chaos, power and world domination.

Don’t get me wrong, Q is a big fan of chaos and power, but somehow, in his own Q-like fashion, he somehow makes it work for the good of those around him.

Throughout the years, Q has provided us with thrilling stories, excitement, and intrigue, moments of pure comedy, and offered up some of the most profound questions regarding the very nature of humanity and what it means to be human.

It is beyond question, that Q will go down in Trek lore as one of its most memorable characters, and this is in no small thanks to how completely brilliantly he has been portrayed by John De Lancie over the last 35 years.

I dedicate this piece to the incredible talent and prowess of John De Lancie, whom true Trekkies will always refer to as “Q” and wish him a very happy 74th birthday.

Happy birthday, mon Capitaine.

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