Created by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (sometimes abbreviated to ST: DS9 or DS9) is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. Set in the 24th century from the year 2369 through 2375, it took place on a space station instead of a starship, so as not to have two series with starships at the same time (the starship USS Defiant was introduced in season 3, but the station remained the primary setting for the show). This made continuing story arcs and the appearance of recurring characters much more feasible. The show is noted for its well-developed characters and its original, complex plots. The series depended on darker themes, less physical exploration of space, and (in later seasons) an emphasis on many aspects of war.
DS9 premiered in 1993 and ran for seven seasons, ending in 1999. Rooted in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe, it was the first Trek spin-off created without direct involvement from Roddenberry, although he did give his blessing to the concept shortly before his death in 1991. The series was created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller, at the request of Brandon Tartikoff, and produced by Paramount Television. Key writers, in addition to Berman and Piller, included show runner Ira Steven Behr, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Ronald D. Moore, Peter Allan Fields, Bradley Thompson, David Weddle, Hans Beimler, and René Echevarria.
A spin-off from Star Trek: The Next Generation, DS9 began while its parent series was still on the air, although there were few crossover episodes between the two shows. The station's first appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation was during the sixth season episode "Birthright" and in addition, two Next Generation characters, Miles O'Brien and (from Season 4 onwards) Worf, became regular members of DS9.
Conceived in 1991, shortly before Gene Roddenberry's death, DS9 centers on the formerly Cardassian space station, Terok Nor. After the Bajorans have liberated themselves from the long and brutal Cardassian Occupation, the United Federation of Planets is invited by the Bajoran Provisional Government to administer joint control of the station, which (originally) orbits Bajor. The station is renamed Deep Space Nine.
According to co-creator Berman, he and Piller had considered setting the new series on a colony planet, but they felt a space station would both appeal more to viewers and save money that would be required for on-location shooting for a "land-based" show. However, they were certain they did not want the show to be set aboard a starship because Star Trek: The Next Generation was still in production at the time and, in Berman’s words, it "just seemed ridiculous to have two shows—two casts of characters—that were off going where no man has gone before."
In the pilot, the station is moved near the newly discovered Bajoran wormhole, allowing access to the distant, unexplored Gamma Quadrant. It quickly becomes a center for exploration, interstellar trade, political maneuvering, and eventually open conflict.
While its predecessors tended to restore the status quo ante at the end of each episode, allowing out-of-order viewing, DS9 contains story arcs that span shows—or seasons—and one installment often builds upon those that aired earlier, with several having cliffhanger endings. Michael Piller, who spoke very highly of Behr's contributions, believed this to be one of the series' best qualities, allowing repercussions of past episodes to influence future events and remain with the show, forcing characters to "learn that actions have consequences". This trend was especially noticeable toward the series' finale, by which time the show was scripted—intentionally—very much as a serial.
Contrary to Star Trek: The Next Generation, interpersonal conflicts were featured prominently in DS9. This was at the suggestion of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s writers (many of whom also wrote for DS9) because they felt that the prohibition limited their ability to develop interesting stories. In Piller's words, "people who come from different places—honorable, noble people—will naturally have conflicts".
The pilot episode aired just weeks before the debut of Babylon 5. The creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, indicated that Paramount was aware of his concept as early as 1989, when he attempted to sell the show to the studio, and provided them with the series bible, pilot script, artwork, lengthy character background histories, and plot synopses for the first 22 episodes. Paramount passed on Babylon 5, but later announced Deep Space Nine was in development two months after Warner Bros. announced its plans for Babylon 5. Straczynski has stated that he thinks Paramount may have used his bible and scripts as the basis for DS9's first season. In 1993 he said, "'Okay, YOU (Paramount) know what happened, and *I* know what happened, but let's try to be grownup about it for now,' though I must say that the shapechanging thing nearly tipped me back over the edge again. If there are no more major similarities that crop up in the next few weeks or months, with luck we can continue that way."
Babylon 5's first-run syndicated ratings averaged between 3 and 4% of U.S. households from 1995 to 1997, whereas DS9 ranged from 4 to 5% during the same time span. The PTEN vs. UPN network rivalry may have been a factor in the development of such similar shows, since both networks were competing for control of the same independent stations and status as the 5th major network (after ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX). Each nascent network wanted the other to fail. Ultimately, PTEN dissolved in 1997, while The WB (majorly owned by and named after Warner Bros.) and UPN (launched by Paramount, but later managed and then owned by CBS) merged to form The CW in 2006.
Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks)
Commander (Seasons 1–3)
Captain (Seasons 3–7)
Benjamin Sisko is the Starfleet officer placed in charge of Deep Space Nine. At the start of the series, he is a grieving widower (his wife having been killed by the Borg at the Battle of Wolf 359) and the father of a pre-teenage son, Jake. He and Jadzia Dax discover the Bajoran wormhole, which the Bajorans believe is the home of the Prophets, their gods and protectors. The Bajorans hail Sisko as the Emissary of the Prophets, an exalted religious status that initially makes him very uncomfortable. Due to his exemplary leadership, at the end of the third season, he is promoted from commander to captain and becomes a key leader of Federation forces against the Dominion. We also find out that his biological mother was a Prophet who possessed a woman who was his father's first wife, who (after Sisko's birth) left the woman's body and when she came to herself, she just left Sisko's father. Sisko was actually raised by his stepmother and his father; however, he was led to believe his stepmother was actually his (as he called her) "Mama".
Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor)
Major (Seasons 1–6)
Colonel (Season 7)
Kira Nerys is a Bajoran militia officer, former guerrilla fighter during the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor, and, as the station's Bajoran liaison officer, Sisko's second-in-command. She is initially suspicious of the Federation's intentions toward her planet, but grows to trust and befriend the rest of the crew. Like most Bajorans, she is deeply religious, which makes it awkward having the Emissary as her commander. Ro Laren, a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, was the first choice of the producers for Sisko's first officer, but Michelle Forbes did not want to commit to a television show.
Odo (Rene Auberjonois)
Chief of Security
Constable Odo is the station's incorruptible chief of security. He is a Changeling, capable of assuming any shape he wishes, but usually assumes a shape of a male adult humanoid. He was found in the Denorius Belt, brought back to the planet Bajor by the Cardassians (who maintained a military occupation of Bajor), and raised in a laboratory by a Bajoran scientist, Doctor Mora. Odo yearns to find his own people, but when he finally does, he is less than pleased to discover that they rule the Gamma Quadrant with an iron fist.
Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig)
Chief Medical Officer
Lieutenant, junior grade (Seasons 1–3)
Lieutenant (Seasons 4–7)
Julian Bashir is the station's chief medical officer. Although Human, his parents had him illegally genetically enhanced when he was a child because he could not keep up with his peers. Somewhat tactless, he nevertheless develops friendships with several of the station's residents, particularly Miles O'Brien and, more ambiguously, a mysterious Cardassian named Garak. Siddig appears in the opening credits as Siddig el Fadil, a shortened form of his birth name, for the first three seasons. He was credited as Alexander Siddig after he married co-star Nana Visitor, which placed their names together in the alphabetical cast credits, although his stated reason for the name change was that he discovered that viewers did not know how to pronounce his name. Siddig continued to be credited as Siddig el Fadil when he directed.
Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell)
Chief Science Officer
Lieutenant (Seasons 1–3)
Lieutenant Commander (Seasons 4–6)
Jadzia Dax is the station's Trill science officer. She shares her life and thoughts with a long-living symbiont named Dax, who has already experienced seven prior lives "Joined" with other Trills. The previous host, a larger-than-life federation diplomat and womanizer Curzon Dax, had been a close friend of and mentor to Sisko. Jadzia is killed by Gul Dukat at the end of Season 6.
Ezri Dax (Nicole de Boer)
Ensign (Season 7)
Lieutenant, junior grade (Season 7)
Ezri Dax was added to the show after the abrupt departure of Terry Farrell. Farrell's character was killed off and the writers introduced Ezri as a young Trill Starfleet officer and the next host of the Dax symbiont. Unprepared and untrained for the role, she is often frustrated by aspects of the symbiotic relationship and the eight lifetimes worth of memories she inherits. She also confronts the memories of Jadzia's love for Worf as well as her own attraction to Dr. Bashir.
Worf (Michael Dorn)
Strategic Operations Officer
First Officer - USS Defiant
The fourth season saw the addition of Michael Dorn, who had recently finished seven years on Star Trek: The Next Generation as the Klingon Worf, in order to boost ratings. Worf transfers to Deep Space 9 when the brief war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire breaks out, and stays on as Strategic Operations officer and later as a liaison to the Klingon Empire. He eventually marries Jadzia Dax.
Miles O'Brien (Colm Meaney)
Chief Operations Officer
Senior Chief Petty Officer
Miles O'Brien is the Chief of Operations, keeping the station in working order. He is married to botanist and teacher Keiko. They have a daughter, Molly, and later a son, Kirayoshi. O'Brien is the first main non-commissioned Starfleet character, reprising a supporting role in The Next Generation.
Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton)
Student (Seasons 1–5)
Journalist (Seasons 5–7)
Jake is Benjamin Sisko's son. He decides not to follow in his father's footsteps, desiring to be a writer and reporter instead. He at first resents the idea of living on an old Cardassian space station, but soon learns to adapt. He develops a deep friendship with Nog, a Ferengi who is the station's only other inhabitant in his age group. Jake eventually becomes a reporter with the Federation News Service. Throughout the seven seasons, both Jake and Nog evolve from young children into young men with storylines showing their rites of passage, successes, and mishaps.
Quark (Armin Shimerman)
Quark is the owner of a bar. Like most of his species (with the notable exception of his brother Rom), he is extremely greedy and willing to do whatever it takes to acquire more latinum. This almost invariably brings him into conflict with Odo. Quark does, however, display a moral code on several occasions during the series, electing to save lives rather than obtaining monetary benefit. Sisko also considers Quark an anchor to the merchant community and social potpouri of the station and repeatedly took steps to keep him in operation on the station.
The setting of the show—a space station rather than a starship—fostered a rich assortment of recurring characters. It was not unheard of for "secondary" characters to play as much, or more, of a role in an episode than the regular cast. For example, "The Wire" focused almost entirely on Elim Garak, while "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" featured Weyoun, with a secondary plot centered on Nog. "It's Only a Paper Moon" featured Nog and holographic crooner Vic Fontaine (James Darren) carrying the story.
Several Cardassian characters figure prominently in DS9, particularly Gul Dukat, the main villain of the series, played by Marc Alaimo. A complex character, he undergoes several transformations before ultimately becoming profoundly evil, and Sisko's archenemy by the show's conclusion. A StarTrek.com article about Star Trek's greatest villains described Gul Dukat as "possibly the most complex and fully-developed bad guy in Star Trek history".
Elim Garak, portrayed by Andrew Robinson, is the only Cardassian who remains on the space station when the Federation and the Bajorans take over. Widely suspected of being an agent of the Obsidian Order, the feared Cardassian secret police, he maintains that he is merely a simple tailor. Garak's skills and contacts on Cardassia prove invaluable on several occasions, and he becomes a pivotal figure in the war with the Dominion.
Damar (Casey Biggs) is initially a glinn serving under Gul Dukat aboard the freighter Groumall, later to become his loyal aide and rise in stature as Dukat regains prominence. He becomes the new leader of the Cardassian Union when Dukat has an emotional breakdown, precipitated by his daughter's death at the hands of Damar ("Sacrifice of Angels"). As the Dominion War progresses, Damar becomes increasingly dissatisfied with Cardassia's relationship with the Dominion. The tipping point is reached when the Dominion forms an alliance with the Breen and Cardassia is relegated to a secondary and increasingly marginalized role ("Strange Bedfellows"). Damar forms and leads an insurgency against the Dominion, playing a vital role in its eventual defeat ("What You Leave Behind").
Jeffrey Combs (of Re-Animator fame) has stated that he had auditioned for the role of William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when Jonathan Frakes (who won the part) later directed the DS9 episode "Meridian", he recommended Combs for a part. Combs made his Star Trek and DS9 debut as a one-episode alien named Tiron, before being cast as the Ferengi Brunt and the Vorta Weyoun. He would go on to appear in thirty-one episodes of DS9, playing four distinct characters—five, if one counts the "mirror universe" version ofBrunt. In "The Dogs of War", he also became one of the few Star Trek actors to play two distinct roles (Brunt and Weyoun) in the same episode. He also appeared in the series Star Trek: Enterprise, as the Andorian commander Shran. He is one of very few people to have appeared in three of four modern Star Trek series.
In addition to Quark and his brother Rom (Max Grodénchik), several other Ferengi had recurring roles, among them their shrewd mother Ishka (Andrea Martin, later Cecily Adams), who eventually engineers a social revolution on the Ferengi home world, Rom's son Nog (Aron Eisenberg), the first Ferengi to join Starfleet, and Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn), the Ferengi leader. Though she is Bajoran, the character of Leeta (Chase Masterson), a Dabo girl in Quark's bar and later Rom's wife, is often involved with the Ferengi storyline. After Ishka's social revolution, Grand Nagus Zek names Rom as the Grand Nagus to lead the "new" Ferenginar.
The Klingon Empire plays a more significant role in DS9 than in any other Star Trek series. Aside from Worf, recurring Klingon characters include Chancellor Gowron (Robert O'Reilly), leader of the Empire until he was challenged and killed by Worf for incompetence who then refused the mantel of leadership in favour of General Martok (J. G. Hertzler) during the Dominion War. Kor, a Klingon character from Star Trek: The Original Series resurfaces in three DS9 episodes. One of them, "Blood Oath", unites Kor with two other Klingons from the original series: Koloth and Kang. John Colicos, William Campbell, and Michael Ansara reprised their original series roles (Colicos is also notable for playing the key role of Count Baltar in the original Battlestar Galactica).
Morn is a minor character who is a fixture in a bar, spending seven years sitting at Quark's. According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia; it became a running joke that, despite the other characters' remarks on how talkative and funny he is, he never speaks a word on camera. Morn did have a line in the script for pilot episode "Emissary", but it was edited for episode run time, after which the creators conceived the joke that he never talks.
In the first episode, Starfleet Commander Benjamin Sisko arrives (along with his young son, Jake) at Deep Space Nine, a space station formerly run by the Cardassians during their oppressive occupation of Bajor, a planet which the space station orbits. He is assigned to run the station jointly with the newly liberated Bajorans as they recover from the Cardassian occupation, to help pave the way for Bajor's entry into the Federation. Sisko and Jadzia Dax stumble upon the first stable wormhole ever found and discover that it is inhabited by beings who are not bound by normal space and time. To the strongly religious people of Bajor, the wormhole aliens are their gods (the Prophets) and the wormhole itself is the long-prophesied Celestial Temple, where they reside. Sisko himself is hailed as the Emissary of the Prophets, through whom the Prophets primarily act.
This provides the basis for a long-lasting story arc. Sisko initially considers his role as a religious icon with open discomfort and skepticism, referring to the Prophets simply as "wormhole aliens" and striving to keep his role as commander of the station distinct from any religious obligations that the Bajorans try to place on him. Later, he becomes more accepting of his role and, by the end of the series, he openly embraces it. The political and religious implications of this on the Bajorans and its spiritual leaders (most notably, Winn Adami) also provide a central arc that lasts until the end of the series.
The station crew early on has to contend with a human resistance group known as the Maquis. Rooted in the events of The Next Generation episode "Journey's End", in which Native American settlers refuse to leave when their colony world is given to Cardassia as part of a treaty, the Maquis is an example for the show’s exploration of darker themes: its members are Federation citizens who take up arms against Cardassia in defense of their homes, and some—such as Calvin Hudson, a long-time friend of Sisko's, and Michael Eddington, who defects while serving aboard the station—are Starfleet officers. The show’s sharp departure from traditional Star Trek themes can be seen in episodes such as "For the Cause", in which Eddington complains to Sisko, "Everybody should want to be in the Federation. Nobody leaves paradise. In some ways, you’re even worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You assimilate people and they don’t even know it." The Maquis also allows DS9 to subvert some longstanding Star Trek icons: Thomas Riker, a duplicate of Enterprise-D first officer Commander William Riker (also played by Jonathan Frakes; character first appeared in ST:TNG's "Second Chances" episode), is revealed in the episode "Defiant" to be a member of the Maquis who gains access to the station's crew and facilities by impersonating the Enterprise's Riker.
The Dominion War
The second-season episode, "Rules of Acquisition" marks the first mention of the Dominion, a ruthless empire in the Gamma Quadrant, though they are not fully introduced until the second-season finale, "The Jem'Hadar". It is led by "the Founders", a race of shape-shifting Changelings, the same race as station security chief Odo. They were once persecuted by non-shape-shifters (whom they call "Solids") and they seek to impose "order" upon any who could potentially harm them, which includes nearly all Solids. The Founders have created or genetically modified two races to serve them: the Vorta, sly and subversive diplomats, and the Jem’Hadar, their fearless shock troops. These races worship the Founders as gods.
At the start of DS9’s third season ("The Search"), with the threat of a Dominion attack looming from the other side of the wormhole, Commander Sisko returns from Starfleet Headquarters on Earth with the USS Defiant, a prototype starship that was originally built to fight the Borg. It remains stationed at Deep Space Nine until season seven, providing an avenue for plot lines away from the station. With the third season, writers from the now completed Next Generation began to write regularly for DS9.
The Dominion forms an uneasy alliance with the Cardassians in the fifth-season episodes "In Purgatory's Shadow" and "By Inferno's Light" and goes to war with the other major powers of the Alpha Quadrant in the season finale "Call to Arms". Throughout the series, loyalties and alliances change repeatedly: pacts with the Cardassians are made, broken, and remade; a short war with the Klingons flares up and is settled, and the formerly neutral Romulans ally themselves with the Federation. This last alliance is made in an attempt to turn the war around, but comes as a result of criminal and duplicitous acts on Sisko and resident Cardassian Garak's behalf, thus providing an example of the moral ambiguity prevalent in DS9 in comparison to the other Star Trek series.
Another example of DS9’s darker nature is the introduction of Section 31, a secret organization dedicated to preserving the Federation way of life at any cost. This shadow group, introduced in "Inquisition", justifies its unlawful, unilateral tactics by claiming that it is essential to the continued existence of the Federation. Section 31 features prominently in several episodes of the Dominion War arc.
In DS9, the Ferengi are no longer an enemy of the Federation, but rather an economic power whose political neutrality is, for the most part, respected. A number of episodes explore their capitalistic nature, while others delved into the race’s sexist social norms. Unlike their depiction in Star Trek: The Next Generation, where they were generally portrayed simply as sexist buffoons for comedic purposes, in DS9 they received a more complex depiction, with the female partner (Ishka) of the Grand Nagus leading a women's rights rebellion on the Ferengi homeworld, and Rom, Quark's brother, leading a strike against unfair working conditions in Quark's bar. Also, Jake Sisko's best friend, Nog, has to deal with Starfleet's more liberal attitudes towards women while Jake learns to deal with his friend's cultural background in a respectful manner rather than risk the loss of their friendship. Nog later decides to join Starfleet, the first Ferengi to do so.
The Mirror Universe
Several episodes of DS9 explore the theme of the Mirror Universe, first touched upon in the TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror". In the second-season episode "Crossover", the DS9 crew first becomes aware of this alternate universe when Kira and Dr. Bashir experience operational difficulties while traveling through the Wormhole and wind up back on the station in the Mirror Universe dominated by the Klingon–Cardassian alliance. They discover that it is not DS9 to which they have returned but Terok Nor. Bajor is not friendly and there is no Federation here. "Terrans", as they are called in this universe, are ruthless barbarians according to the Intendant (Kira's mirror self) and they occupied Bajor for decades much as Cardassia had in the normal universe. The Klingon–Cardassian alliance eventually formed and Bajor was freed from Terran occupation, later enslaving Terrans as ore miners on the orbiting space station Terok Nor. Enslaved as they are, the Terran workers liberate themselves and form a resistance movement, as seen in several other DS9 episodes ("Through the Looking Glass", "Shattered Mirror", "Resurrection", "The Emperor's New Cloak").