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Star Trek: Who Created Data And What Happened To Him?

In the long history of "Star Trek," few characters are as beloved by fans as the android Data (Brent Spiner). A cybernetic being powered by a positronic brain, Data served as second officer on Jean-Luc Picard's (Patrick Stewart) U.S.S. Enterprise, the setting of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." But while fans got to spend time with Data over the many episodes of TV and movies in which he appeared, far less is known about his reclusive creator, Doctor Noonian Soong (also Brent Spiner).

Indeed, the story of Data's creation by Soong is documented in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and additional information has been included in other movies and series, most recently "Star Trek: Picard." We've learned that the cyberneticist came from a long line of geniuses who worked to create new life forms using science, not all of whom were pure of heart. Indeed, Soong himself was driven by an obsession that lasted until his final moments. Though he was declared a madman and considered a disgrace by Federation scientists, he continued his work in secret. Eventually, he was destroyed by his own creations.

The mad cyberneticist Noonian Soong made Data and his evil twin Lore

Doctor Noonian Soong came from a long lineage of mad cybernetics experts, and they were engaged in some questionable experiments long before Data was assembled. Soong's ancestor, Adam Soong (Brent Spiner once again) went so far as to create a series of clones. All of them died with the exception of one, Kore, and he spun the fiction that he was her father in the traditional sense of the word. That history was depicted in Season 2 of "Star Trek: Picard." Adam may even have been connected to the creation of the villain Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), but that's a story for another time. Later, in the "Star Trek" timeline's 22nd century, Adam's descendant, Arik Soong, picked up the torch of genetic and cybernetic experimentation. The character was featured in multiple episodes of "Star Trek: Enterprise."

This lineage eventually culminated with Data's progenitor, Noonian Soong, who worked in secret alongside his wife, Juliana O'Donnell (Fionnula Flanagan) to perfect his research and create the fan-favorite android. But Data was actually the fifth such android Soong built. The first three were far less capable and much closer to mindless robots. His breakthrough came with the fourth attempt, Data's evil brother Lore. Ultimately, it was Soong's fifth android, Data, whom the scientist considered to be the apex of his work. Unlike Lore, who had emotions but lacked a sense of ethics and therefore was a loose cannon, Data was not given the emotional programming, allowing him to function within certain ethical parameters.

Data's brother Lore killed their creator

Ultimately, it was Noonian Soong's own work that killed him. His fourth android, Lore, was much like Data but without the sense of ethics that kept him from being corrupted. Over time, Lore developed a deep resentment for his father figure, believing that Soong was playing favorites and preferred Data. Lore's paranoia was further confirmed when he learned that Soong was secretly developing an emotion chip for Data. The actual reason for this was that Soong mistakenly believed that Lore was disassembled and functionally dead, so he had no reason to work on Lore's own upgrades.

When Soong sent out a signal summoning Data to Terlina III, where he had secretly been furthering his cybernetic experiments, it also drew Lore's attention, and the two brothers converged on the planet in the Season 4 "The Next Generation" episode "Brothers." After Soong reveals in the episode that he'd created an emotion chip for Data, Lore's jealousy grows. He deactivates Data, then impersonates him in order to receive the emotion chip for himself. But since the chip wasn't meant for him, Lore becomes unstable and attacks the already sickly Soong.

In Soong's final moments, he compares Lore to the biblical Esau, Jacob's evil sibling who impersonated his brother to receive a false inheritance from their blind father, Isaac. But as Data, rescued by William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), comes to the aid of his dying creator, he finally refers to Soong as "father."