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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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Sound Mix:




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 »


When Riker calls Data to the stand, the computer reads out Data's medals and commendations. Riker tries to skip the reading, but Picard objects and insists the full record be read, and the judge sustains the objection. Later, however, when Picard calls Maddox to the stand and the computer begins to read out his accomplishments, Picard tries to skip the reading, and Riker does not object. The judge had already warned Riker that any laxity on his part in prosecuting the case would result in a summary judgment against Data, and this would seem to qualify. See more »


Capt. Picard: Starfleet is not an organization that ignores its own regulations when they become inconvenient.
See more »


Referenced in King of the Nerds: Trek Wars (2014) See more »


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

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User Reviews

No disassemble!
6 May 2016 | by Mr-FusionSee 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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