Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (ST:DS9 or STDS9 or DS9 for short) is a science fiction television series produced by Paramount and set in the Star Trek universe. A spinoff of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it ran for seven seasons from 1993 to 1999 and was created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller. The show was based on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry.


About the show

This series is a departure from the established Star Trek formula; it is the first series not to feature the Enterprise and her crew. Instead, the series chronicles the events surrounding the space station Deep Space Nine, a former Cardassian ore processing station (originally called Terok Nor) which has recently been placed under joint control of the Federation and Bajor, the planet it orbits. In the first episode, the crew discovers the presence of a nearby stable wormhole which provides immediate travel to and from the distant Gamma Quadrant; this immediately makes the station an important strategic asset, as well as a vital center of commerce with the largely-unexplored area of space.

Inside the wormhole live aliens who exist beyond time and do not understand the linear nature by which other lifeforms experience it. These aliens are the Bajoran Prophets which are worshipped as gods by the people of Bajor, and the wormhole itself is the long-prophesied Celestial Temple. Commander Benjamin Sisko, who discovered the wormhole, becomes revered as the Emissary of the Prophets, a spiritual role with which he is not at all comfortable.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine inspires strong opinions from Star Trek fans. Some abandoned the series early on, dissatisfied by its grittier themes, while some contend that the series abandoned Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's original concepts (though it has been reported that Roddenberry approved the concept of the series just before his death). Others hold that it is still the most solidly written of the Star Trek series produced. Fans of the series are known as "Niners" (after a baseball team of the same name which appeared in a later episode of the series) and are quite protective of their show against criticism.

The show was never the tremendous ratings success that its predecessor had been, and indeed Entertainment Weekly in a mid-1990s article suggested that Star Trek would soon end its voyage, but it remained the top rated first-run syndicated drama series throughout most of its run and was successful enough that Paramount launched two more Trek series. During its run it had to compete with its sister shows The Next Generation and Voyager which contributed to the low ratings.


The USS Defiant NX-74205
The USS Defiant NX-74205

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine also differs from previous Star Trek series in that it contains story arcs which span several episodes. Other Star Trek series tend to largely restore the status quo ante at the end of an episode so that the episodes can be seen out-of-order without compromising their plot. Here, however, not only are events in one episode often referenced and built on in later episodes, but sometimes several episodes in a row would be cliffhangers. This trend is especially strong near the end of the series' run, by which time it has become very much a serial.

One such story arc is that of Benjamin Sisko's role as a religious icon. He initially faces it with open discomfort and skepticism, referring to the Bajoran Prophets simply as "wormhole aliens" and striving to keep his role as commander of the station distinct from any obligations which the Bajoran people try to place on him. Later he becomes more accepting of his role, and by the end of the series he appears to embrace it.

The episode "Rules of Acquisition" introduces the Dominion, a ruthless empire in the Gamma Quadrant. It is led by "the Founders," comprised of a race of shapeshifters known as Changelings (the same race as station security chief Odo). They were once persecuted by non-shapeshifters (whom they call "Solids") and they are now out to control any who are not like themselves. The Founders have created two races to serve them: the Vorta, sly and subversive diplomats; and the Jem'Hadar, strong and brave shock troops. These races worship the Founders as gods.

The Dominion invades the Alpha Quadrant, forms an uneasy alliance with Cardassia, and eventually goes to war with the other major races. Throughout the series, loyalties and alliances change repeatedly: alliances with the Cardassians are made, broken, and remade; a short conflict with the Klingons flares, and the Federation finds an alliance with the Romulans.

Another example of DS9's darker plot material is Section 31, a secret organization that exists apart from, but dedicated to the preservation of, the Federation. This undemocratic shadow organization justifies its unlawful, ethically questionable tactics by claiming that it is essential to the continued existence of the Federation. Section 31 is prominent in several episodes of the Dominion War plot.

The Ferengi in the series are no longer an enemy of the Federation, but rather an economic power whose political neutrality is mostly respected. Several episodes explore the capitalist nature of the Ferengi (usually with a comedic touch). They are guided in their lives and in their business transactions by the Rules of Acquisition.

Several of the characters have their own personal demons and stories that are rather specific to their character.

The character of Jadzia Dax is a Trill; she is a young woman who has been joined with the Dax symbiont which is more than three hundred years old. This gives her the memories of seven previous lifetimes in which the symbiont was previously hosted by men and women. In the episode "Rejoined," Jadzia meets the wife of a previous male host, and the two women share a kiss.

Odo is a shapeshifter who handles station security with a strong sense of justice and fairness. He is driven by a desire to find other shapeshifters like himself and to find out where he came from. He eventually discovers that he is one of the Founders, and he is torn between a longing to reunite with his people and a love for Major Kira.

Worf, a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, was added to the DS9 cast in the fourth season to help sagging ratings. Several episodes follow his efforts to balance his Klingon heritage with his Federation duty.


Deep Space Nine sheds some of the utopian themes that embodied the previous versions of Star Trek. It focuses more on war, religion, political compromise, and other modern issues.

The most prominent theme in the series is that of the deeply religious Bajoran people attempting to rebuild their world and their economy after years of oppression from Cardassia. The relationship between the Bajorans and the Cardassians is intentionally portrayed as a powerful Holocaust allegory; the Cardassians had put the Bajorans to work in forced slave labor camps under terrible conditions, killed them with impunity, and express regret that their actions aren't recognized as being for the good of Bajor. Deep Space Nine's first officer, Kira Nerys, was formerly an underground resistance leader responsible for many acts of sabotage and subversion and is required in her new role to learn diplomacy and patience.

The relationship between the Cardassians and the Bajorans can also be regarded as colonial in nature. Much like in Kipling's The White Man's Burden, the Cardassians believed themselves to be both technologically and culturally superior. According to Dukat, at the time of first contact, Cardassia was at least 400 years ahead of Bajor in every way. The Cardassians strip-mined Bajor and instituted forced labor camps under the guise of civilizing a lesser people. Guerrilla tactics by Bajoran fighters led to the removal of their colonial shackles in the same way that many colonies gained their independence in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Star Trek universe portrayed in Deep Space Nine is one of power politics among the galaxy's great powers. Prior to the series, the Federation was showcased as a near utopian society guided by human rights. In contrast, the Federation in Deep Space Nine tries to balance its high ideals with the practical realities of galactic politics. This theme speaks to the current state of international affairs, a mixture of power politics among states and rapidly growing avenues of international cooperation brought about by globalization.


Main characters

Recurring characters


DS9 broke a few taboos during its run.

  • The episode "Rejoined" shows two female characters — one of whom being Jadzia Dax — embrace in a passionate kiss. Although the context of the kiss is that a previous host of the Dax symbiont is male and in love with the woman being kissed, the episode nonetheless attracted criticism. (Originally, the character of Dr. Lenara Kahn, the other party in the relationship, was to be played by a man.)
  • The sixth season episode 'Time's Orphan' featured the Irish Chief O'Brien exlaim the British swear word 'Bollocks!' Although it was unlikely to have caused much furore in the US, the word was edited out in daytime UK showings. In another episode O'Brien refers to the Cardassians as 'Cardie bastards.'
  • A seventh season episode shows the Mirror Universe versions of Kira and Ezri Dax kiss in a clearly lesbian or bisexual context, but this time there was little outcry.
  • In the episode "Far Beyond the Stars," a character utters "For Christ's sake!" which is a phrase rarely allowed on American commercial television.
  • Also in "Far Beyond the Stars," a character says the word "nigger." However, Cirroc Lofton was playing a 1950's black man who was pessimistic that blacks would ever go to space, except to "shine the shoes" of whites, who he felt held blacks to be "nothing but niggers."

See also

External links

Star Trek
Series: Movies:
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