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: 11 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Release Date:

11 February 1989 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the first episode to feature a poker game in Commander Riker's quarters. This would become a common feature of the show for its duration with various officers and crew participating. See more »


During the trial, Riker has Data bend a solid metal bar. Data does this until the ends are nearly touching. Riker then takes the bar and places it front of the JAG officer. Now the ends of the bar are far apart. See more »


Lt. Commander Data: As Doctor Pulaski would at this junction no doubt remind us, life is rarely fair.
See more »


Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Offspring (1990) See more »


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