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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.


Robert Scheerer





Episode complete credited cast:
Patrick Stewart ... Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes ... Cmdr. William Riker
LeVar Burton ... Lt. Geordi La Forge
Michael Dorn ... Lt. Worf
Marina Sirtis ... Counselor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner ... Lt. Commander Data
Wil Wheaton ... Wesley Crusher
Diana Muldaur ... Doctor Pulaski
Amanda McBroom Amanda McBroom ... JAG Captain Phillipa Louvois
Clyde Kusatsu ... Admiral Nakamura
Brian Brophy Brian Brophy ... Commander Bruce Maddox
Whoopi Goldberg ... Guinan
Colm Meaney ... 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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TV-PG | See all certifications »


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Release Date:

11 February 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Measure of a Man See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Television See more »
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Technical Specs


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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 »


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 »


[at the hearing regarding the civil rights of androids like Data]
Capt. Picard: Now, the decision you reach here today will determine how we will regard this... creation of our genius. It will reveal the kind of a people we are, what he is destined to be; it will reach far beyond this courtroom and this... one android. It could significantly redefine the boundaries of personal liberty and freedom - expanding them for some... savagely curtailing them for others. Are you prepared to condemn him and all who come...
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Star Trek: The Next Generation End Credits
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

What makes Data tick
6 December 2018 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

This TNG story concerns Brent Spiner as Lt.Commander Data and an order that Captain Picard has received to have Data report to Brian Brophy a cybernetics professor with Star Fleet. Data is to report to be disassembled to find out just what Dr. Sung did that makes Data the unique creation he is. The theory is that if we can build a race of Datas, the Federation would be invincible.

From Patrick Stewart on down the Enterprise crew regards Data as one of them and don't like him being dissected like a lab rat. Brophy throws the whole matter into the Federation's futuristic JAG office in the person of Amanda McBroom.

Every player out there loves courtroom scenes and that is no less true in the Star Trek franchise. Patrick Stewart is Data's Counsel and Jonathan Frakes is dragooned into prosecution.

Ironic as all get out in that Data's never ending quest for humanity he should be put through a procedure like this to prove him worthy of being treated like a living being. Not Clarence Darrow, not F. Lee Bailey could have done a better job of defending him than Captain Picard.

Of course a little advice from Guinan helps which occurs in a key scene with Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg.

One of the best episodes in the series.

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