Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 2, Episode 9

The Measure of a Man (11 Feb. 1989)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Reviews: 9 user | 8 critic

When Data resigns his commission rather than be dismantled for examination by an inadequately skilled scientist, a formal hearing is convened to determine whether Data is considered property without rights or is a sentient being.


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Title: The Measure of a Man (11 Feb 1989)

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Episode cast overview:
Amanda McBroom ...
Brian Brophy ...


At Starbase 173, the crew have a bit of leave. Data learns some of the intricacies of playing poker while Captain Picard runs into an old friend of a sort, Captain Phillipa Louvois, who established a new JAG office at the base. She once prosecuted him, unsuccessfully, but there is admiration at least, on both sides. Problems arise however when Commander Bruce Maddox receives permission to disassemble Data to determine how he functions. When Data expresses doubts about Maddox's likelihood of success, he refuses to undergo the procedure and resigns his commission. He soon finds himself the center of a judicial inquiry to determine if he is just a machine and a piece of property or a sentient being who has the right to make his own decisions. Captain Louvois finds herself sitting in judgment with Captain Picard defending Data's claim against Commander Riker who is forced to present the opposing arguments. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

11 February 1989 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Data's storage capacity is stated as 800 quadrillion bits. In modern terms, this equates to 88.818 pebibytes (PiB), or more simply, 100,000 terabytes (TB). See more »


When Data is made to bend the rod of steel during his hearing, he bends it almost right in half with a kink at the top where it is bent and there is no more than an inch between each side. When Riker places the bent steel on the table, it is clearly bent in an arch by machine, likely a pipe-bender, with a much larger gap and has no kink were it is bent. It barely resembles the piece Data bent by hand. See more »


Captain Phillipa Louvois: I'm glad you felt you could... well, come to me.
Capt. Picard: The word 'trust' just isn't in your vocabulary, is it? Good try, nine out of ten for effort!
See more »


Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Quality of Life (1992) See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation End Credits
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
See more »

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User Reviews

It could be used in an ethics class!
30 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Too many people look at the Trek stories and shows as "just science fiction" but Gene Rodenberry had much more in mind. This episode stayed true to Rodenberry's vision and made us think and question. It looked at themes of Civil Rights and Slavery.. it looked at ethics, morality and science all intermingling.

There was some excellent acting in this one. Whoopi Goldberg, Diana Muldaur, Patrick Stewart & Brent Spiner all played their prospective roles particularly well. But, in my opinion, it was the character of Riker that played the most difficult role in this story and Jonathan Frakes pulled it off excellently!

The character of Lt. Commander Data, the android crew member, was an ingenious invention of the Next Generation writers. Each time they explored his character the more interesting he became. This story, by Melinda M. Snodgrass, however, is the best of those explorations of character. It could be used in an ethics class! It is a definite "must see!"

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