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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




Official Sites:

Official site





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?


During the discussion of Maddox's plan for Data, Data asks "You've constructed a positronic brain?" It has been established that Data does not use contractions, but some writers forget this. 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 »


Capt. Picard: Now, tell me, Commander, what is Data?
Commander Bruce Maddox: I don't understand.
Capt. Picard: What is he?
Commander Bruce Maddox: A machine!
Capt. Picard: Is he? Are you sure?
Commander Bruce Maddox: Yes!
Capt. Picard: You see, he's met two of your three criteria for sentience, so what if he meets the third, consciousness, in even the smallest degree? What is he then? I don't know. Do you?
Capt. Picard: [to Riker] Do you?
Capt. Picard: [to Louvois] Do you? Well, that's the question you have to answer.
See more »


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


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

Great little piece of television.
3 December 2012 | by das-19See all my reviews

From the setup to the finale, this is a well paced, well acted and well plotted drama. There are moments of humor amid a true detailed exploration of the meaning of humanity, reminiscent of the works of Asimov.

Guinan is never used more effectively, and Whoopi's performance is uncannily nuanced, dripping with the precocious wisdom that defines her character. Shows what a strong dramatic actor Whoopi is, and makes me wish the character was used more with this level of effect. The best ethicist on a ship full of them.

Falters a little with Riker's reticence and feelings of betrayal, Frakes just can't deliver the internal pressure at the same level as his peers though he does his best and it's not offensive.

Ending is predictable but satisfying nonetheless, with an epilogue that caps the affair nicely. On par with the best television has to offer, and certainly the best episode of the season if not the series.

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