14 user 4 critic

The Drumhead 

A retired admiral boards the Enterprise in an effort to determine the actions aboard the ship surrounding an act of sabotage and possible treason.


Jonathan Frakes


Gene Roddenberry (created by), Jeri Taylor | 4 more credits »




Episode complete credited cast:
Patrick Stewart ... Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes ... Cmdr. William Riker
LeVar Burton ... Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
Michael Dorn ... Lt. Worf
Gates McFadden ... Dr. Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis ... Counselor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner ... Lt. Cmdr. Data
Bruce French ... Sabin Genestra
Spencer Garrett ... Simon Tarses
Henry Woronicz ... J'Ddan
Earl Billings ... Adm. Thomas Henry
Jean Simmons ... Adm. Nora Satie
Ann Shea Ann Shea ... Nellen Tore


A Klingon traitor is arrested: engineer Lieutenant J'Ddan, who passed secrets to the Romulans via fluid in a medical syringe, sabotage is feared. Retired female Federation Admiral Satie and her former assistants arrive to take charge of the investigation, with security chief Worf. Meanwhile Data and LaForge look into the sabotage risk. J'Ddan's denial of sabotaging the vital dilithium chamber is credible, which implies another traitor aboard, so the crew is grilled, starting with medic Simon Tarses who gave J'Ddan his injections. After a paranormal counsel believes Tarses a liar, he's tricked by lies into acting guilty, even though the 'sabotage' was in fact found to be an accidental failure, and confesses he lied about his ancestry to hide a Romulan grandfather. Picard objects against the unethical procedure, Satie calls upon Starfleet chief of security Admiral Henry to look for an even wider conspiracy, starting with Picard himself, based on his long-term record, and Worf, based on ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

27 April 1991 (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?


This is the only time in the run of the series that the inner isolation door in main engineering is seen; normally the outer door is seen after a warp core breach. See more »


Considering that Admiral Nora Satie relied heavily on the advice given to her by her Betazoid assistant, it is surprising that Captain Picard did not require the assistance of Counselor Deanna Troi throughout the interrogations and trial. See more »


Captain Jean-Luc Picard: This is not unlike a... a drumhead trial.
Lieutenant Worf: I do not understand.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: 500 years ago, military officers would upend a drum on the battlefield. They'd sit at it and dispense summary justice. Decisions were quick, punishments severe; appeals denied. Those who came to a drumhead were doomed.
See more »


References Star Trek: The Next Generation: Conspiracy (1988) See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation End Theme
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
See more »

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User Reviews

Rated highly, but still IMO underrated
18 April 2019 | by brianjohnson-20043See all my reviews

The Drumhead might be my favorite TNG episode. It certainly is my favorite episode that isn't regularly mentioned as a top 5 episode, such as The Inner light, or the good Borg, Q or Time Travel episodes.

The drumhead has the type of villain which really gets under my skin more than others due to the type's continued effectiveness and presence throughout history.

This episode's villain is so camouflaged that she uses one of the typically good characters, in Worf, as an ally in her corruption. And Worf follows along willingly, only seeing his errors at the end of the episode.

It's a phenomenon we can find often in people who get so swept up in an opportunity to create order and justice of some sort, that they end up resembling the very type of evil they're trying to fight due to their own tribal arrogance and exaggerated fear of the other. Often such villains gain power and test the norms slowly one step at a time until before many realize it, there's a completely new evil norm out of a promise for a miracle cure to a problem where a solution hasn't been demonstrated as much as asserted as a problem.

And just like Worf, the individuals who seem to get swept up in such mistaken causes are typically the people who seem unable to spot irony, hypocrisy or enjoy a joke or construct a joke because they're so serious and desperate for vengeance. Their good qualities get obscured by their lesser illogical desires to get their way in solving some issue regardless of the costs.

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