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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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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

11 February 1989 (USA) 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?


The Starbase is a re-use of the model for Regula 1 from Star Trek II- the Wrath of Kahn. See more »


Maddox's whole case is to establish Data as property and not a sentient crew member. This is to gain the right to dismantle Data and learn about his construction. Data objects because something unique (Lt. Cmdr Data) would be lost.

Guinean later leads Picard down the idea that Maddox's work could result in a form of slavery imposed upon a race of androids.

In previous stories, it was established that the security buffer for the transporter could recreate someone even though they weren't in active transport. However, this was never mentioned during the trial. Doing this would have strengthened Maddox's argument to gain an exact example of Data while giving Guineans discussion with Picard a poignant immediacy. See more »


Capt. Picard: I need your help.
Captain Phillipa Louvois: An historic moment.
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Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Contagion (1989) See more »


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

Best episode of the ST:TNG series.
6 December 2007 | by Mike_WigginsSee all my reviews

Of all the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, this is the episode that I consider, without hesitation, to be the best episode of the series. Its brilliant writing explores many facets including the right to choose your pathway in life (be you android or not), what makes a "sentient being" ("Does Data have a soul?"), the ethics of robotics (do we have the right to make slaves out of them?), friendship, camaraderie, and other factors.

As MTDAVIES mentioned, this is the type of storyline that Gene Roddenberry wanted for "Star Trek". By the time this episode came along, most of us who watched the series were already attached to the Enterprise crew, and especially to Data as he was the foil for exploring ourselves and the human condition. To have Data be told that he didn't have the right to choose for himself was inconceivable. The resulting JAG case was riveting as well as emotional.

You just can't ask for better Star Trek than this. This also ranks very highly in the "Best Science Fiction ... period" category.

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