Was Trelane From ‘Star Trek’ a Q?

Star Trek's Trelane and Q

Screenshots from CBS / Paramount Star Trek's Trelane and Q

They both had incredible god-like powers, which they used to torture the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. They could both appear and reappear at will and control both matter and energy. The only difference between the beings known as Q and Trelane was about 90 years of history. This begs the question — was Trelane part of the Q Continuum?

For those who are not familiar, Trelane was a character who first appeared in the TOS episode “The Squire of Gothos,” which first aired in 1967. Captain Kirk and company faced this being who demonstrated that he had nearly unlimited powers. In the end, the only reason why Kirk and the Enterprise were able to escape from Trelane’s grasp was because a “parent being” stopped the nonsense. It turned out that Trelane was just a child. 

Trelane judging Kirk

CBSTrelane judging Captain Kirk in “The Squire of Gothos.”

Trelane was portrayed by actor William Campbell, who would also appear on the classic episode “Trouble With Tribbles” as the Klingon agent Koloth. Campbell would then reprise this role in Deep Space Nine’s “Blood Oath.”

The god-child character of Trelane was created by writer Paul Schneider. He also wrote the “Balance of Terror,” which featured the original Trek villains — the Romulans. 

Meanwhile, in the 24th Century, on the first episode of The Next Generation, we meet a similarly powerful character, who stopped the mighty Enterprise-D in its tracks and forced Captain Picard to make a case (in a courtroom) for the human race. 

Portrayed by actor John de Lancie, Q has become one of the most beloved characters in the Star Trek Universe. While not quite a villain, he’s more of a trickster who enjoys interacting with humans. Q has been so popular that he’s appeared in TNG, Voyager, and the animated Lower Decks.

Q judging Picard

ParamountQ judging Captain Picard in “Encounter at Farpoint.”

Q was written into the “Encounter at Farpoint” episode by Gene Roddenberry to extend the episode’s run time. Initially, fans were to meet Picard, William T. Riker, and the rest of the “new” crew as they investigated the mysterious power source and happenings at Farpoint Station. That story was written by D.C. Fontana, who had worked on TOS as well. Roddenberry’s trial with Q made “Encounter” longer, which pleased the brass at Paramount. 

Why Roddenberry created Q

In the documentary Chaos on the Bridge, which chronicled the pressures and turmoil behind the scenes as Roddenberry and his team formulated the new Star Trek, host William Shatner pointed out that Roddenberry was famously an atheist

Shatner was interviewing longtime Trek producer Brannon Braga on those early days at TNG, and the question as to why Roddenberry would involve the supernatural on his show that was supposed to be about science. Braga said that Q’s inclusion on Trek was “pretty startling.”

“Q is God,” said Braga, who worked on TNG, the films featuring the Next Gen cast, and Star Trek: Enterprise. “Just look at the character… look at everything about the character. God’s a character… on Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

In “Encounter at Farpoint,” Q finally lets Picard go after the captain successfully argues that humans were no longer savage. There was no parent to pull Q back, but that happened in the episode “Deja Q.” That story centered around Q losing his powers and finding himself kicked out of the Q Continuum — the race of immortal beings like Q.

Where Campbell and de Lancie Agreed

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The similarities are indeed striking. When asked about this, Campbell thought that eventually, Trelane and Q ought to meet.

“I expect that they’ll someday reprise the Squire of Gothos (character), preferably in a battle with Q (John de Lancie),” Campbell told the Chicago Tribune in 1994. “They’re so alike, and I know John quite well.”

Mr. de Lancie also commented on the possible relationship or how the two characters might have some ties during a Star Trek DVD interview on the subject. He even speculated that Roddenberry may have unconsciously dipped into Star Trek’s past to find a foe worthy of the new crew and ship.

“It’s kind of carrying that baton through time,” said de Lancie. “To continue that idea that started very possibly with Trelane — I’m not sure. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

The Answer Might Be in Black and White


Eric PesolaThe Q Squared novel by Peter David.

Though some fans still wonder, the book may be closed on the subject — literally. In 1994, Pocket Books released a Star Trek novel written by Peter David called Q-Squared. In this novel, Q encounters Trelane, while poor Picard and the Enterprise are stuck in the middle. 

When readers arrived at a pivotal scene about midway through the book, they might have learned the answer to the Q/Trelane riddle. As Picard, Riker, Worf, and others responded to an intruder at Ten-Forward, Q arrived just moments before. He told Picard that he would handle things.

It was then that Q turned to Trelane and said:

“You are coming with me right now,” said Q. “We’re going back to the Q Continuum!”  

This might be enough for some fans. Others point out that this was just a book and not canon — which many consider only television shows and films.

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