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The Measure of a Man 

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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.







Episode complete credited cast:
... Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
... Cmdr. William Riker
... Lt. Geordi La Forge
... Lt. Worf
... Counselor Deanna Troi
... Lt. Commander Data
... Wesley Crusher
... Doctor Pulaski
Amanda McBroom ... JAG Captain Phillipa Louvois
... Admiral Nakamura
Brian Brophy ... Commander Bruce Maddox
... Guinan
... Chief Miles O'Brien


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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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 »


Commander Bruce Maddox was the only member of the admissions board to object to Data's entry into Starfleet. Data entered the Academy in 2341. The events of the trial take place in 2365, 24 years later. The actor portraying Commander Maddox was 30 years old at the time of filming. Presuming his character is roughly the same age, Maddox would have been 6 years old at the time Data entered Starfleet Academy. It's highly unlikely that Starfleet would have had a child on their admission's board. See more »


Captain Phillipa Louvois: I can use serving officers as legal counsel. You, as the senior officer, would defend.
Capt. Picard: Very good.
Captain Phillipa Louvois: And the unenviable task of prosecuting this case would fall on you, Commander, as the next most senior officer of the defendant's ship.
Commander William T. Riker: I can't. I won't. Data's my comrade. We have served together. I not only respect him, I consider him my friend.
Captain Phillipa Louvois: When people of good conscience have an honest dispute, we must still sometimes resort to this kind of adversarial system.
Commander William T. Riker: You just want me to prove that ...
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Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Quality of Life (1992) See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

No disassemble!
6 May 2016 | by See all my reviews

So, the Enterprise pulls into a starbase where some incredible jackass is waiting to take Data apart for study, come hell or high water. Does Data get a say in this? Course not, so Picard drags everyone into the courtroom to hash this out. Is this a legal drama? Yes. Boring? Hell no, and that's part of why 'The Measure of a Man' is the best episode of the show thus far: it's riveting. Jean-Luc lets righteous indignation do the talking, and to see Patrick Stewart all fired up is to watch a gifted actor command the screen.

But it also asks the important questions about Data. Sure, he has some sweet superpowers, but is he more than an appliance, there to acquiesce to Starfleet's whims? It's a story about slavery, basic rights and free will. And very well done at that.


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