Star Trek: Picard follow-ups may make Trelane of Star Trek: The Original Series a Q canonically
The hint that Trelane, the Squire of Gothos from The Original Series episode of the same name, may retroactively become a confirmed member of the Q Continuum in film or tv canon has been raised as Star Trek: Picard ends and speculation about a follow-up series, movie, or even a Klingon centric spin-off swirl.
Yet some fans may point to the novel canon and say “Trelane has been a Q since The Next Generation was originally airing”. Other fans may protest that novel canon is separate from tv or film canon as they can differ greatly from each other or openly contradict each other, even canon differing from novel to novel.
Considering Trelane a member of the Q Continuum is not something new as John de Lancie himself has spoken about this in interviews before and the similarities between Trelane and Q come across less as an accident and more as purposeful evolution of the characters.
There are very blatant similarities between Trelane in Star Trek: The Original Series and Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation
What strengthens this comparison even further is how much of The Original Series shows up or is referenced in the beginning of The Next Generation. Not only did Gene Roddenberry hire many of TOS writers for TNG (until tension and behind-the-scenes drama forced many, including D.C. Fontana herself, to leave) he himself was determined to have more control over this series, not letting the network interfere like they did during TOS, almost trying to create a series closer to what he originally envisioned before network meddling took it out of his hands to some extent.
The TNG premiere “Encounter at Farpoint” became an unexpected collaboration between Fontana and Roddenberry as the network changed the original plan for the pilot and more material was needed to bring the episode up to the new longer run time. Fontana wrote the A plot, where the crew is introduced and the mystery of the episode is solved, but Roddenberry wrote the framing scenes with Q putting Picard on trial.
Watching Trelane’s only appearance, “The Squire of Gothos” and Q’s introduction “Encounter at Farpoint” back-to-back reveals just how similar the two characters are. Both beings challenge the Enterprise captains, putting James Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard on trial, complete with donning costumes as judges. Trelane and Q also freeze crewmembers – Hikaru Sulu and Kirk versus Tasha Yar respectively – for being “insubordinate”. Neither respects the crews and often derides them. Even how they present themselves is similar as both favor high-ranking military dressage with various medals and awards pinned to their anachronistic coats.
Q’s behavior in his cameo in Deep Space Nine even echoes Trelane’s behavior as well. Trelane becomes petulant near the end of his episode as Kirk breaks the swords they are dueling with then when Q’s parents scold him before taking him away, Trelane protests he could have won. It very much feels like the precursor to Q complaining that “Picard never hit me!” before Commander Benjamin Sisko snaps “I’m not Picard!” gleefully. Considering Trelane’s actor was still alive and showed up on DS9 to reprise his other character from TOS (Klingon captain Koloth from TOS‘ “The Trouble with Tribbles” then DS9‘s “Blood Oath”), it’s very tempting to imagine Sisko reacting to The Squire of Gothos in the same way he did to Q had he cameoed in DS9.
There is even a book written by frequent TOS TNG novel writer Peter David that explicitly makes Trelane a Q. “Q-Squared” had Trelane become more powerful than before, to the point Q himself enlisted Picard to help tame Trelane. Throughout the novel, Kirk and Picard must deal with Trelane and Q, both cosmic beings hopping across time to mess with both crews. There is even a scene where Trelane travels into the one timeline where Jack T. Crusher survived and torments him (because Crusher can’t catch a break!)
There is even a fun moment of foreshadowing at the conclusion where Picard explicitly asks if he is Q’s son and Q defers but does say Trelane’s family are respected members of the Continuum, implying Q is “babysitting” a member of their species’ nobility. Did someone in the Star Trek: Voyager writing room remember this scene and use it as inspiration for the creation of Q Junior years later, since “The Squire of Gothos” does create a precedent for members of the Q reproducing?
Making Trelane a part of the Q Continuum may not change film or tv canon to a great degree, as the novel canon already made him one decade ago, it does acknowledge how similar Trelane and Q are. If William Campbell was still alive, he might have returned as Trelane. As this is no longer possible, it is up to John De Lancie and the writers to make this connection.