Dr. Ira Graves appears in only one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he proclaims himself to the “grandpa” of Lt. Commander Data.
- Lt. Commander Data’s curiosity about his past and longing to be human are explored in “The Schizoid Man” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Dr. Ira Graves claims to be Data’s grandpa and teaches Data about his creator, Dr. Noonien Soong, in the episode.
- Graves transfers his consciousness into Data’s positronic brain, causing Data to exhibit strange behavior until Graves relents and allows his human part to die.
Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) had a self-proclaimed “grandpa” on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the brilliant scientist Dr. Ira Graves (W. Morgan Sheppard). When TNG began, Data did not know anything about his life before Starfleet found his deactivated android body on Omicron Theta. As the show progressed, Data learned more and more about his past, including his creator, Dr. Noonien Soong, and his twin brother, Lore (both played by Brent Spiner). More than anything, Data longed to be human, and he spent much of his TNG journey observing the people around him, trying to understand what made him different.
In Star Trek: The Next Generation season 2, episode 6, “The Schizoid Man,” Data encounters a scientist named Ira Graves who claims to be Data’s grandpa. At Graves’ request, Data refers to the aging scientist as “grandpa” throughout “The Schizoid Man.” It sounds somewhat humorous with Data’s uniform way of speaking, but it also speaks to Data’s innocence and his desire for family. It’s endearing to hear Data call this man grandpa, but it also feels off somehow, and Graves later proves he has no respect or care for Data as a sentient being.
10 Ways Data Was Human Before Picard Season 3
Though Data was finally given a more human body and emotions in Star Trek Picard season 3, he was already human in all the ways that mattered.
Who Is Data’s “Grandpa,” Dr. Ira Graves In Star Trek: TNG & What Happened To Him?
W. Morgan Sheppard portrayed Dr. Ira Graves in his only appearance in TNG’s “The Schizoid Man.”
In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Star Trek: Picard, more members of the Soong family were introduced, but Star Trek has not revealed anything more about Graves or his connection to the Soongs. In “The Schizoid Man,” the USS Enterprise-D travels to Dr. Ira Graves’ home to provide medical care for the ailing scientist. Graves recognizes Data as the creation of Dr. Soong, and claims that he taught Soong everything he knows, making him the “father” of Soong’s work. After finding out that he has only three weeks to live, Graves uses his knowledge of cybernetics to transfer his consciousness into Data’s positronic brain.
In only a few scenes, W. Morgan Sheppard makes Dr. Graves a memorable and compelling, if deeply flawed, character. Brent Spiner, too, delivers an incredible performance, as more and more of Graves’ personality takes over.
When the away team returns to the Enterprise, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the crew begin to notice that Data has been acting strangely. The half-Betazoid Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) later senses two personalities within Data’s mind, and Picard realizes what Dr. Graves has done. Picard pleads with Graves to give up Data’s body, and while Graves initially refuses, he eventually relents after realizing the harm he has caused. Graves then somehow transfers all of his accumulated knowledge into the Enterprise’s computer but allows the human part of himself to die. Neither Dr. Graves nor the knowledge he supposedly transferred to the computer are ever referenced again.
Other Star Trek Characters Became Androids – Including Picard
Star Trek has a long history with androids and other forms of artificial life.
Since the earliest episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, the Star Trek franchise has been fascinated with artificial life and immortality. In Star Trek: The Original Series season 1, episode 7, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?,” Dr. Roger Korby (Michael Strong) created android bodies and transferred his own consciousness into one just before he died. Korby built an android copy of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and planned to build an army of androids. TOS season 2, episode 20, “Return to Tomorrow,” finds Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) at the mercy of noncorporeal beings who wish to build android bodies for themselves.
Star Trek: Picard introduced updated androids created by Dr. Altan Soong and Dr. Bruce Maddox (John Ales). These androids built upon the technology used to create Data, and Dr. Soong also used this technology to build a synthetic golem body. Although he planned to transfer his own consciousness into the body before he died, Altan later saved the life of Admiral Picard by giving him the golem body. Picard died of a terminal brain condition and would have remained dead if Altan had not gifted him the golem. Data, too, gained a new golem body in Picard season 3, fulfilling his dream to be as human as possible that began in Star Trek: The Next Generation.