Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ran for seven seasons from 1993-1999. Despite initial fan and media grumblings about the concept of a static space station being the center of the series, the show managed to win everyone over with its flawed characters, new ideas for a Star Trek series, and deep story arcs.
But the show was not without its secrets and controversies, both behind-the-scenes and in real life. There have been arguments, petty jealousies, and strange behavior off screen. There have been occurrences of back-stabbing and intense, conflicting ideas about what to do in a series or episode.
Both fans and those who work on the show are passionate about the ideals of the franchise’s mythology and what makes Star Trek great. Sometimes, you can’t avoid an impending scandal. Making everyone happy is one of the hardest things to do in television and movies, and often, what makes fans unhappy is when their favorite character (or actor or actress) is treated badly or elements of an episode offend them.
Here’s 15 Dark Secrets Behind Star Trek Deep Space Nine.
15 Garak's orientation
Andrew Robinson, who played Garak, wrote A Stitch in Time, a memoir about the life of the Cardassian. Garak is the tailor who previously worked in a covert group of Cardassian secret agents. He’s killed, stolen secrets, and betrayed his own people. But there was more to Garak that fans often speculated about.
Garak has never been obvious about his sexuality. According to Robinson, “It’s not defined. He’s not gay, he’s not straight, it’s a non-issue for him.” Originally, Robinson portrayed Garak as “omnisexual” during that first season, even flirting with Bashir in the pilot episode. The producer told Robinson that was okay, but soon, someone higher-ups got nervous.
The show had to stay on the “straight and narrow,” so Robinson “backed off from it.” The writers “supported the character beautifully,” but for that part of Garak’s life, they just “made a choice they didn’t want to go there.”
14 Alexander Siddig Could Have Played Sisko
Avery Brooks was not Rick Berman’s first choice to play Benjamin Sisko. In fact, it was Alexander Siddig. When Berman saw Siddig’s performance in the TV show A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia, he cast Siddig.
However, Berman realized that Siddig was too young for the role of Sisko – Siddig was in his mid-twenties – and the showrunner changed his mind. Berman wanted to keep Siddig, so he gave the actor the role of Dr. Bashir. This was a detested choice by the network: for the first 2 seasons, the network continuously told Berman to fire Siddig. Bashir was not a popular character, but the plan was to change the character over time, so the producers remained steadfast about Siddig.
Another reason the network wanted him fired was because Siddig and Colm Meaney – who played Mile O’Brien – clashed in real life, often arguing about England and Ireland.
13 Avery Brooks Had To Have Hair
Sometimes actors must often endure strange or sensible contract stipulations to take on new roles. From 1985 to 1988, Avery Brooks played Hawk in Spenser: For Hire, the sidekick to Robert Urich’s Spenser. In the show, Brooks had a bald head, which made him as cool as Kojak. When Avery Brooks was hired for Deep Space Nine, part of his contract included a provision that he must have hair. In this case, the request was reasonable.
The reason was the network and showrunners didn’t want viewers to be confused with his Hawk character. In the early seasons, Brooks had short, cropped hair and no goatee, unlike his Spenser: For Hire role. As the series went on and as the character of Benjamin Sisko became respected and more popular, Brooks was allowed to shave his head and grow a goatee.
12 Worf was added because ratings were dropping
Any television show succumbs to a drop in viewership and low ratings after a season or two. Deep Space Nine was no different. While consistently popular, the show experienced a slow downturn in viewer numbers that seemed difficult to bring back up. But producers and the network had a few ideas.
One idea the network had was to blow up Planet Bajor. But that wouldn’t make sense to the show because the planet was vital to Deep Space Nine. And hadn’t they endured enough from the Cardassians?
Ultimately, it was agreed to bring on a popular character from The Next Generation to help with ratings. So, beginning in season 4, Worf became a permanent part of the space station. However, this made it hard for writers because an entire new role had to be added to current and future story arcs, including the Dominion War. But Star Trek writers are always up for a challenge, and they made Worf function and eventually get married.
11 Jadzia Dax forced out
By the season 7, Terry Farrell was burnt out. She wanted to do other projects, at least when DS9 wasn’t filming. At one point, she had obtained an audition for something with Jerry Seinfeld, but DS9 executive producer Rick Berman said she couldn’t do it. When her contract was up at the end of season 6, Farrell had a few ideas that would help her feel less frustrated.
One suggestion she made was that she could be a recurring character in season 7. But Berman didn’t allow Farrell to make any demands, telling her to “take it or leave it.” Farrell chose to leave it. In the wake of that news, her character was killed off, leaving it closed for any type of return in the final season.
Interestingly enough, when Farrell saw producer Ira Behr at a convention and sat down to talk with him about what happened, she “thought poor Ira was gonna projectile vomit when I told him. He was just so shocked. He’s like, ‘We could’ve done that.’”
10 Fans hated Ezri Dax at first
When Jadiza Dax died and a new symbiont was needed for Dax, the actress Nicole de Boer was brought in as Ezri Dax. She played a counselor on the space station, and when the USS Defiant was fully operational, the communications officer.
Some fans didn’t appreciate Terry Farrell being forced to leave the show, and the episodes that focused on Ezri helped the criticism of her character as an “ill-conceived idea” and not a good “replacement Dax.” TV Guide nicknamed her Ally McTrill after Calista Flockheart’s character in Ally McBeal. Ezri’s neurotic behavior resembled McBeal’s. Fans and viewers either took it as a compliment or an insult; de Boer herself took it as a compliment.
Initially, de Boer felt Star Trek fans disliked her character because she hadn’t received any fan mail. However, she had been getting fan mail since her first day on set. The production team held sacks of mail, and the actress didn’t get to see the mail until three-fourths of the way through season 7.
9 Roddenberry Would've Hated DS9
Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek is well known. He foresaw a universe of diversity on a utopia-like level in the Federation. Medical and technological advances improved the lives of so many that a dedication for further improvement propelled the peaceful domination of Starfleet.
But with Deep Space Nine, the tide turned darker. The show was announced after Roddenberry’s death in 1991, and many felt Deep Space Nine wouldn’t have happened if Roddenberry had lived. Majel Barrett – Gene’s widow – never gave definitive answers if her husband would have like or hated it. She has said both, specifically stating the original Star Trek would’ve had more battles, but budget and technology at that time became the biggest obstacle. “[Gene] knew what the fans liked.”
Rick Berman said to EW, “It’s going to be darker and grittier. These characters won’t be squeaky clean.” Whether you feel DS9 is against Roddenberry’s vision or not, it’s hard to argue the show wasn't very popular.
8 Costly Pilot Episode
Issues and changes with the pilot episode, “Emissary,” caused the initial cost of it to go up. The Deep Space Nine pilot was inspired by The Next Generation’s pilot, “Encounter at Farpoint", meaning main characters were not really introduced until later in the episode’s story. Michael Piller, one of Star Trek’s most influential writers, took the “human must convince aliens that humanity isn’t bad” trope and gave Benjamin Sisko a god-like existence with the aliens.
However, preliminary scripts had too much dialogue and a weak idea of a working, but run-down spaceship, with technology far behind Starfleet. The concept was changed in favor of having the space station looted by the Cardassians before they left. That meant costly sets would have to be built. Piller had to rewrite scripts, and “Emissary” cost $12 million. Of that, $2 million were used to build stationary sets for Deep Space Nine.
7 Controversy Caused By Fans
Some ideas inserted into DS9 that were unfamiliar to previous Trek shows and movies triggered fans into an anger only passionate Star Trek fans could generate.
Money had never been a concept that Roddenberry found should be in Star Trek. Deep Space Nine showed that money was important, mainly due to the nature of the space station. Fans were also upset that a more upbeat attitude in Roddenberry’s vision was being changed to something less hopeful and gloomier.
A major concept that upset fans was The Dominion War storylines. Fans and some people directly involved with the show felt that Roddenberry wouldn’t have liked a war taking precedent. But TOS writer D.C. Fontana has said that Rodenberry would have loved it since he was a veteran of World War II.
6 An Episode Cut For Violence
For the first time in a Star Trek series, footage was cut for violence from the producers and network. The episode, called “To the Death”, has members of Deep Space Nine going to a planet with something called the “Iconian Gateway.” This gateway is a space portal to almost anywhere.
When they are on the planet, they meet throngs of Jem’Hadar, who are enhanced beings bred for combat, and much fighting ensues. Someone had counted and reported 52 Jem’Hadar were shown to be killed. The episode was edited, shaving off 45 seconds, keeping the Jem’Hadar deaths to 20.
But that wasn’t enough. When the BBC got hold of it, they trimmed the episode further. After it finally aired, fans felt the scene was fragmented and somewhat incoherent.
5 Two Females Kissing Controversy
Until Star Trek: Discovery, there had never been overt homosexual relationships in the franchise. Star Trek had dealt with racism, politics, and more, but for some reason, stayed away from same-sex relationships.
While not focusing on it, the episode of Deep Space Nine called “Rejoined” had Jadiza Dax and Lenara Kahn, a new host of the wife of Dax’s former host, kiss. Both of their hosts had unresolved feelings from their previous romantic relationship. This female to female kiss seemed innocuous, but it caused an outcry among media and fans.
In an interview in 2003, Susanna Thompson (who played Lenara), said the cast and crew knew how controversial the same-sex kiss would be, but also knew how important it was for the two characters’ backstory. A TV station decided the scene was too offensive and removed it completely. Also, producers of Deep Space Nine got a considerable amount of negative phone calls for the fifteen-second kiss.
4 Deep Space Nine Versus Babylon 5
When Deep Space Nine was announced, fans of the show Babylon 5 cried foul, and fans of Star Trek wondered if their new series was too similar to the other TV show. Of course, Babylon 5 fanatics said Deep Space Nine was a direct rip-off. Both series were set on a space station, had a war many races were getting involved in, and had multi-episodic story arcs.
Suspicions grew deep as plots and themes were revealed for DS9. J. Michael Straczynski pitched his Babylon 5 concept to Paramount in the 1980s. Paramount said no, so Straczynski took his idea elsewhere. In the meantime, Rick Berman and Michael Piller developed DS9. Straczynski was “confident” they weren’t aware of B5, but suspected Paramount or other people on the development team “steered” the creator and writer in some way.
The two shows somewhat reconciled: Majel Barrett-Roddenberry guest-starred in an episode of Babylon 5, and Bill Mumy of B5 returned the favor in DS9’s 7th season.
3 Malcolm McDowell's Demand
Star Trek fans will know Malcolm McDowell as the obsessed scientist Tolian Soran in Star Trek: Generations who wanted to destroy 2 stars to open the “Nexus,” an extra-dimensional realm where dreams and wants are turned into reality.
McDowell is the uncle of Alexander Siddig, on Siddig’s mother’s side. Even before he decided to appearance as Soran in the movie, he also wanted to appear in an episode of Deep Space Nine. He had one request: that his nephew Alexander direct the episode he would be in. The only problem is that for McDowell to be in an episode of the TV show, the acclaimed actor had to be an alien since it wouldn’t make sense canon-wise after Generations. McDowell did not want to be an alien.
Before the series ended in 1999, McDowell did not appear in any episode of Deep Space Nine. However, Siddig directed the potential episode McDowell might have appeared in, “Business as Usual.”
2 Quark's Resemblance to Ross Perot
Quark, played by Armin Shimerman, is a Ferengi, a business-oriented race mainly concerned about money. They are selfish, have little respect for their females, are instantly recognizable for their short stature, and have large ears and lobes that span their entire foreheads.
The way Quark sounded and looked and presented himself made many new viewers to Star Trek think the character was created to make fun of Ross Perot, who had made a bid for the Presidency months before the show premiered.
The resemblance is uncanny, but was in no way on purpose. Ferengi weren’t new to Star Trek with DS9. Four years prior to Perot announcing his run for the President, Ferengi had appeared first in The Next Generation episode, “The Last Outpost”.
1 The Ballad Of Vic Fontaine
Vic Fontaine was a lounge singer who was part of a holosuite program that became popular with many of the space station’s main characters. The role’s first episode was in the 6th season and was featured more prominently during the 7th season.
Originally, Fontaine had been planned to enter the series during the fourth season. One of the executive producers initially conceived of Fontaine and additionally developed him in hopes that Frank Sinatra, Jr. would take the role. However, Sinatra, Jr. turned it down, and although he did want to be in the show, he only wanted to play an alien.
Four other Vegas-style singers were approached: Robert Goulet, Steve Lawrence, Tom Jones, and Jerry Vale. Unfortunately, all declined. In the end, the show found the perfect match in James Darren, and he wound up appearing in eight episodes.
What secrets about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did you find dark or interesting? Let us know in the comments!