Data (Star Trek)

From Academic Kids

Template:ST Character

Data, played by Brent Spiner, is a character in the Star Trek fictional universe. He has served as the second officer and chief of operations on the USS Enterprise-D and the USS Enterprise-E. Data appeared throughout the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series as well as in later movies.

Data was an android, a robot designed to resemble a human, with a positronic brain. He was roughly the counterpart of Spock from the original series, in that he had a logical mind and finds humans hard to understand yet is drawn to the concept of humanity. This desire combined with his apparent innocence about the reality around him charmed viewers and made him one of the most popular characters of the series.

Data's name is properly pronounced dayta as opposed to the alternate pronunciation datta. This was addressed in a second season episode of TNG when Data corrected Dr. Katherine Pulaski when she used the latter pronunciation.



Data was created by Dr. Noonien Soong. Data's construction followed Dr. Soong's previous, less successful attempt at an artificial humanoid life form, Lore, who was later to become a recurring character on TNG. Lore was more or less Data's "evil twin". A total of seven androids of Data's type were constructed, but they are prone to cascade failure of neural systems, and may all be short-lived.

Having been rescued by Starfleet officers from a planet in which almost all life had been destroyed by the Crystalline entity, Data decided to join Starfleet as a career. After attending Starfleet Academy, Data served with distinction on the Enterprises-D and -E, with the rank of lieutenant commander. Data held the Starfleet Command Decoration for Valor; Starfleet Command Decoration for Gallantry; Medal of Honor, with Clusters; Legion of Honor; and the Starcross. ("The Measure of a Man")

In 2364, Data discovered his "brother" Lore, a prototype created by Dr. Soong. However, Lore was psychopathic and deactivated Data in an attempt to take over the Enterprise. ("Datalore")

In 2365, cyberneticist Bruce Maddox obtained permission to have Data reassigned for study, wherein he would be deactivated, disassembled, and duplicated. Data refused, and sought and won a legal judgment declaring him a sentient life-form with the same rights as other Federation citizens. ("The Measure of a Man")

Desiring to reproduce himself, Data created a daughter, Lal, in 2366; unfortunately, she suffered a cascade failure of her neural systems and died shortly after being activated. ("The Offspring")

Data was thought lost in a shuttle accident in 2366, but had in fact been kidnapped by fraudulent antiquities dealer Kivas Fajo. Fajo was subsequently arrested and Data released. ("The Most Toys")

In 2367, Data was taken over by a homing signal generated by Dr. Soong, who intended to give him an emotions chip which he had perfected in secret after being thought dead. Data was forced to take over the Enterprise and bring it to Soong's lab on Terlina III. Unfortunately, the homing signal summoned Lore as well, who tricked Soong into giving him the chip and then killed him. ("Brothers")

In 2368, Data's head was discovered in an archeological dig in San Francisco. The ensuing investigation sent Data, later followed by several senior Enterprise officers, to late 19th century San Francisco. Data's presence set up a number of temporal paradoxes involving Guinan, who had been present on Earth at that time, and the senior staff. Jack London and Mark Twain appear in the episode. Data's head was blown off in the 19th century; the officers escaped with his body but Captain Picard was left behind. Picard implanted a message into the head, and when it was reattached the crew was able to avoid catastrophe and rescue him. ("Time's Arrow")

In 2370, Data was kidnapped by Lore and coerced through Lore's manipulation of Soong's aforementioned emotions chip into aiding an insurrection by the Borg. After the threat to the Federation was dealt with, Data was forced to disassemble his brother. From Lore, Data obtained the emotions chip which Soong had intended for him. ("Descent")

In 2370, Data met a woman who appeared to be Dr. Juliana Tainer, the widow and collaborator of Dr. Soong; in a sense, Data's mother. However, she turned out to be an android constructed by Dr. Soong after the original Dr. Tainer died; she had, unlike Data, been unaware of her nature as an android. Dr. Tainer eventually divorced Dr. Soong and remarried. ("Inheritance")

In 2371, Data chose to use the emotions chip he had obtained from Lore. Despite difficulties in adaptation, Data successfully integrated the emotions chip. (Star Trek: Generations) He was later able to deactivate the emotions chip at will, which he did at the request of Captain Picard during the Borg attempt to commandeer the Enterprise-E, following the Battle of Sector 001 in 2373. (Star Trek: First Contact)

Data was chosen to become first officer of the Enterprise-E in 2379; shortly thereafter, he discovered a second prototype version of himself, whom Dr. Soong had named B-4. However, before acceding to the first officer's position, he was lost in the line of duty while saving the Enterprise-E and its crew from the thalaron beam generator aboard the Reman ship Scimitar when that ship exploded. (Star Trek: Nemesis). However, before his death, Data transferred his memories to B-4 in the hopes that B-4 would learn something from this. This gives the possibility for Data to be resurrected in a future movie.

In an alternate future created by Q, Data held the Lucasian professorship at Cambridge University. (All Good Things...)


Missing image
Data with Spot.

Characterizing his relationship with friends as based on a dependency that stems from a sense of familiarity that is caused by frequent contacts, physical and visual, Data explained that his "mental pathways have become accustomed to your sensory input patterns." These "mental pathways" had a brief intimate relationship with crewmate Tasha Yar ("The Naked Now") in 2364, and attempted to pursue a romantic relationship with another crewmate, Jenna D'Sora ("In Theory"), in 2367. In 2373, Data had an intimate encounter with the Borg Queen. Data also has a pet cat named Spot. Over the years, a strong relationship of loyalty, respect, and trust has emerged between Jean-Luc Picard and Data. This relationship has many elements associated with a typical father-son experience, especially in terms of the mentoring qualities. One will note the overt protection of Picard by Data when there is a threat -- see, for example, the first Borg encounter in First Contact within the Enterprise-E.


The character of Data was inspired by a made-for-TV movie Gene Roddenberry wrote in the 1970s entitled, The Questor Tapes, which was the pilot for a series that would have detailed the adventures of a lifelike android searching for the secret of being human. In the movie, Questor was to have experimented with sexuality, actually making love to a female character. Network censors did not allow this scene to be used in the film, but a decade later, relaxed standards allowed an "intimate relationship" to occur between Data and Tasha Yar, as described above.

Brent Spiner on Data

The ending for Star Trek: Nemesis gave slight suggestion that B4 may become a replacement for Data, thus possibly becoming Data in the process and mirroring Spock's rebirth and the cryptic suggestions alluding to it at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). However, Brent Spiner has noted that he has visibly aged out of the role and that it would be implausable for him to continue playing an android whose appearance should not change with time. Hence, B4's presence (and suggestion that he has a copy of Data's memories stored) is most likely meant to have been a tease.

In 2005, Spiner recorded a brief, voice-only cameo as Data for the finale episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, "These Are the Voyages...". Data is heard speaking to Deanna Troi over a com-link. Spiner had previously played Arik Soong, an ancestor of Data's creator, in a fall 2004 story arc on Enterprise.

Key episodes and films (incomplete)

Notable moments in Data's life as shown on screen.

External link

nl:Data (Star Trek) sv:Data (Star Trek)


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