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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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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Episode cast overview:
Amanda McBroom ...
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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)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title comes from a statement by Plato: "The measure of a man is what he does with power." 18th-century English philosopher Samuel Johnson expanded the saying: "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." The direct source for this episode, however, is most likely Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s version: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Other famous variations of the "measure of a man" line have been created by 17th-century English Bishop Robert South, 19th century British scientist Lord Kelvin, Elton John, Joe Biden, and J.K. Rowling. See more »


Data tells Picard that Maddox was the only dissenting member of a screening committee that approved his entrance into Starfleet. This implies that the majority approved him. Since only sentient beings can take the oath of a service personnel officer, this would be the grounds for Data's status as a living being, but this is overlooked at the trial. See more »


Capt. Picard: Phillipa Louvois. And back in uniform. It's been ten years, but seeing you again like this makes it seem like fifty. If we weren't around all these people, do you know what I would like to do?
Captain Phillipa Louvois: Bust a chair across my teeth.
Capt. Picard: After that.
Captain Phillipa Louvois: Oh, ain't love wonderful?
See more »


Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data's Day (1991) See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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problem with the premise of this plot line
21 January 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode does a great job of exploring the nature of humanity and freedom. But there's always been one thing that bothered me about this episode as it relates to the whole Star Trek universe. Commander Maddox makes the statement that Data is a piece of machinery, no different than the ship's computer. However, Data is COMMANDER Data, a commissioned Starfleet officer, who graduated from Starfleet Academy. The ship's computer can make statements and recommendations, which crew members can evaluate, then either accept or reject. As a command officer, if Data gave an order and a crew member chose not to obey it, that crew member risked a court martial. This directly implies that Starfleet recognized Data as a sentient being, and not a "calculator" to be experimented upon. In all fairness, I also realize that by using this argument, Gene Roddenberry would have ended up with a very short episode.

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