Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pioneered new depths in the Star Trek franchise by turning the lens inward and exploring what it was like to live in the Federation rather than simply explore its outer reaches. The critically-acclaimed series has found new life since the advent of streaming, appealing to more modern audiences because of its serialized storytelling, something Star Trek had previously shied away from.
The series also won positive attention for expertly exploring darker themes and wrestling with more moral ambiguity than the more optimistic Next Generation and Original Series. "In the Pale Moonlight", an episode that sees Sisko break Federation law in an effort to turn the tide in the Dominion War and then perpetuate a cover-up, is widely-considered one of the best episodes of the entire franchise.
That said, no Trek is perfect, and Deep Space Nine isn't without its faults. If you don't believe us, you haven't rewatched "Move Along Home" recently. Even though there are more hits than misses, we didn't have a hard time coming up with things about this show that left us scratching our heads or outright laughing at their implausibility.
Here are 15 Things That Make No Sense About Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
15 THE STATION ISN'T HANDICAP-FRIENDLY
Deep Space Nine doesn’t look like a traditional Federation Starbase because it wasn’t built by the Federation. The station was originally Cardassian, used primarily in their decades-long occupation of nearby planet, Bajor. The overall design couldn’t have been further from the sleek, brightly-lit Enterprise D of The Next Generation.
Everything was darker, more utilitarian and, for some reason, less convenient.
In the season 2 episode “Melora”, a wheelchair-bound Starfleet officer named Melora Pazlar arrives on the station and the risers that bordered each room's doorway have to be adjusted to include ramps. Not only does it make no sense for the Federation not to have just remodeled her quarters, Star Trek already featured a suspended a "wheelchair" that would render the problem solved anyway. Installing ramps just made it seem like O'Brien had seriously run out of ideas.
14 WHY DIDN'T THE DOMINION IMPLANT MORE SPIES?
In one of the show’s most memorable twists, Dr. Bashir was revealed to have been replaced by a Changeling spy in episode 14 of season 5, “In Purgatory’s Shadow”. The real Julian Bashir had been kidnapped, along with Klingon General Martok and former Cardassian intelligence officer, Enabran Tain. The Changeling impersonates Bashir for over a month, all the while carrying out covert operations for the Dominion, as, presumably, were the Martok and Tain doubles.
The question is, why weren’t there more Dominion spies?
Before Starfleet started religiously testing blood after the Bashir debacle, surely the Dominion could’ve gotten a few more higher-ranked impersonators installed in various enemy governments and militaries. Frankly, it makes more sense from a strategic standpoint to destabilize other powers from the inside and follow with combat, so it was weird that the Dominion’s replacement operations weren't more widespread.
13 JAKE IS ALLOWED IN QUARK'S
Quark’s restaurant always felt like more of a Dave & Busters than the Mos Eisley Cantina it was probably meant to evoke. But considering what actually went on in Quark’s, its atmosphere was actually kind of misleading.
Quark’s boasted gambling, booze, and holosuites that were routinely booked so people could play out fantasies. That’s not to mention the fact that Quark’s typically hosted Quark’s various illegal business ventures.
All that begs the question – why on Earth was Jake Sisko allowed near that place? As commander of the station, his father would’ve been well-aware of Quark’s activities. While there is one point at which Ben tries to forbid his son from spending time with Rom, at no time does he ever keep his son from hanging out at the station’s shadiest establishment.
12 ROM'S HIDDEN GENIUS
Quark’s long-suffering brother, Rom, turned out to be a mechanical-engineering genius and eventually joined the Bajoran militia to serve on Miles O’Brien’s station maintenance team. This season 4 revelation came as a shock to everyone, including Rom’s own family. Neither his brother nor his son had any idea about Rom’s aptitude, despite both having lived with him.
Max Grodenchik played Rom’s Idiot Savant routine to the hilt, and the Ferengi deservedly remains a fan favorite, but we find it really hard to believe that Rom would have been able to hide a secret life teaching himself how to be an engineer.
That said, if there were ever a Ferengi who could be self-interested enough to ignore such a big piece of his brother’s personality, it’d be Quark.
11 THE SERIES IGNORED A REALLY POWERFUL WEAPON
In the season 7 episode, “Field of Fire”, Ezri Dax investigates a series of murders aboard the station and to solve them, she enlists the help of former Dax host and serial killer, Joran. Eventually, she discovers the murderer: a Vulcan driven mad by the recent destruction of his ship at Jem’Hadar hands. The weapon he used was a modified projectile rifle he’d outfitted with a scanner and a micro-transporter.
The scanner could see through bulkheads and the micro-transporter transported the bullet as soon as it was fired to wherever the shooter directed it. It allowed the murderer to kill his victims from anywhere on the station, leaving virtually no trace.
What the show failed to answer, however, was why we’d never seen such a genius weapon before or since.
It was literally the most effective sniper rifle ever devised -- surely Starfleet would’ve developed something similar before this time.
10 HOLOSUITE MAINTENANCE
The full name of Quark’s restaurant is actually "Quark’s Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade." Holosuites were smaller versions of the holodecks that appeared on Starfleet ships large enough to house them. While holodecks typically had both practical and leisure purposes, Quark’s Holosuite Arcade was almost solely used for entertainment and/or exercise.
While everything in a holosuite program would be inorganic, the participants, of course, weren’t. If you’ve ever been to a gym, you know that active humans leave all kind of traces. And if you’ve watched enough Deep Space Nine, you’ll know that people didn't just exercise in the holosuites.
The seedy adult side of Quark’s was a running joke throughout the series, which is why it is so gross and so confusing that no one ever referenced cleaning them.
9 UH... RUNABOUT STORAGE?
DS9, like Voyager, housed a seemingly infinite supply of runabouts, ships slightly larger than shuttlecraft, but still designed for short-term travel. Before the arrival of the U.S.S. Defiant, DS9’s crew used runabouts as their primary mode of transportation to and from the station. But, it’s hard to tell where all those runabouts were kept.
Large ships docked at the station’s pylons, while smaller ships could attach directly to the docking ring that ran the circumference of the station. In the opening credits, we see the Defiant undocking from the ring in the opening credits, and various runabouts do the same thing in clips throughout the series.
But the station doesn’t appear to have a full docking bay anywhere.
If it’s as heavily-traversed a place as it seems on the show, would they really want to give up valuable parking space for runabouts?
8 EZRI'S SCREENTIME
While the addition of Ezri was an entertaining one, the brand new character seemed to get a whole lot of attention for being such a latecomer. Out of the show’s final season, a full four episodes are centered around Ezri and, as ship’s counselor, she was granted several prominent positions in other storylines in season 7 - including Nog’s adjustment to having a prosthetic leg.
Ezri got to go through more growth in a single season than Jadzia seemed to in several.
Ironically, one of Terry Farrell's frustrations was that her screentime was generally reduced to make room for others in the large ensemble, but she was also required to allocate most of her availability to the show, given her status as series regular. That makes the amount of attention Ezri got in season 7 even more confusing, despite how much we enjoyed her.
7 WORF AND BASHIR SURVIVE DOMINION CAPTURE
When Worf and Garak track a message from Enabran Tain to the Gamma Quadrant, they’re captured by Dominion forces and sent to an internment camp. While there, they’re reunited not only with Tain, but General Martok and Dr. Bashir, all three of whom had been replaced with Changeling operatives. The result is one of DS9’s better two-parters, “In Purgatory’s Shadow,” but we’re still curious why any of those people were left alive to be in it.
The Dominion is known for its brutality, so the idea that they would keep prisoners alive doesn’t really track.
Tain and Martok might be useful hostages at some point, but considering they don’t bother to keep Tain alive once he’s in their custody, that doesn’t make sense either. This basically comes down to characters not being as expendable on DS9 as they are, say, on The Walking Dead.
6 PRESIDENT GARAK
Garak’s journey throughout DS9 was never boring. The spy-turned-“tailor” kept his past as one of Cardassia’s most effective and deadly intelligence operatives shrouded in secrecy.
But season 7 was a veritable Garak buffet as he became involved in the Cardassian resistance that sprung up in response to Gul Dukat’s alliance with the Dominion, and the character finally got a redemption arc. In the series finale, Garak receives the endorsement of the Federation and the Klingons to take over leadership of the Cardassians after the Dominion is defeated.
Despite his incredible honor and heroism during the war, it seems highly unlikely that someone previously unknown due to his former job as a brutal spy would succeed. There’s no way Garak doesn’t still have a host of enemies who would gum up the works.
5 BASHIR'S INVOLVEMENT IN SECTION 31
Section 31 is one of Star Trek’s more ambitious and successful retcons. While many the Federation’s opponents came packaged with black-ops intelligence units (the Cardassian Obsidian Order, the Romulan Tal Shiar), the Federation, despite its enormous power, seemed to operate without one – until DS9, that is.
Introduced in the season 6 episode “Inquisition”, Section 31 is a fully autonomous, completely clandestine organization that’s been pulling the strings since the Federation’s inception.
As much as we love Julian Bashir, we still aren’t convinced there’s a reality in which he’d be an appropriate choice to aid Section 31 even as a patsy. He’s not a fighter, his moral philosophy diverges wildly from theirs, and he’s about as subtle as one of Quark’s jackets. Not that we minded, necessarily – Section 31 was easily Bashir’s most interesting subplot.
4 EZRI SHOULD'VE STAYED AWAY FROM DS9
Ezri Dax was the Dax symbiont’s ninth host, joining with the symbiont on its journey back to Trill after Jadzia’s untimely death. The joining was an emergency measure, so Ezri had undergone exactly zero training for the experience, and initially reacted very poorly to it.
However, after a visit to DS9 and acquainting herself with Jadzia’s friends, she remained on the station and found some stability. Considering Trill custom, Ezri probably shouldn’t have been given the assignment, consisdering the presence of Jadzia’s widower, Worf.
We learned in the season 4 episode “Rejoined” that it was considered a serious, serious taboo for any joined Trill to engage in a romantic relationship with someone from a previous host’s life. Worf and Ezri briefly break this rule before deciding it’s a bad idea, which reinforced the idea that her presence on the station was inappropriate, at least by Trill standards.
3 CHIEF O'BRIEN'S MENTAL STABILITY
In the season 4 episode “Hard Time”, Miles O’Brien is accused of espionage by the Argrathi, a Gamma Quadrant species with a unique penal system. Instead of actually incarcerating people, they simply implanted irremovable memories of jail time in the minds of the accused. Miles O’Brien received 20 years for his “crime,” and when he returned to Deep Space Nine, he had serious difficulties reconciling his new past.
He finds it so hard to reintegrate back into his old life that he actually attempts to take his own life before Dr. Bashir talks him down. The episode ends with O’Brien starting to make peace with the serious trauma he underwent… and then is completely fine by the next episode and never mentions the experience again.
The entire story was predicated on the fact that this was an experience O’Brien couldn’t get rid of, but then he appears to do just that.
2 THE FERENGI COMMERCE AUTHORITY
When it came to recurring characters, Quark’s family was the gift that kept on giving. In addition to his brother, his nephew and his moogie, Quark occasionally got visits from his cousin Brunt, of the Ferengi Commerce Authority.
Quark and Brunt weren’t exactly friends, and Brunt constantly used his position to horn in on Quark’s profits whenever possible.
That made sense with what we know of Ferengi culture, but his employer, the Federation Commerce Authority, did not.
Ferengi culture is based upon a completely unregulated market where literally anything goes --including bribery and intimidation. But the FCA, as introduced in DS9, is a regulatory agency that has so much control it can seize Ferengi assets with impunity.
Its existence threw a huge wrench into how Star Trek defined Ferengi culture, but honestly… Brunt was worth it, if only for “The Magnificent Ferengi”.
1 PICARD AND SISKO SHOULD'VE NEVER MET TWICE
During the events of The Next Generation’s iconic “The Best of Both World’s”, the Borg famously co-opted Captain Jean-Luc Picard and turned him into Locutus, Borg mouthpiece.
It was while Locutus represented the Borg that they staged their infamous attack on Wolf 359, taking out a massive portion of the Federation fleet. In "Emissary", DS9’s pilot, we learn that Benjamin Sisko lost his wife in the attack and was forced to abandon her body on his ship before it exploded.
Sisko still holds a great deal of resentment for Picard, which is evidenced when he can barely spend five minutes in the same room with the captain as he welcomes Sisko to his new command.
Why were these men intentionally put in the same room in the first place?
Surely there would’ve been someone in Starfleet’s administrative arm that would’ve pointed out the potential awkwardness of such a meeting.
What else doesn't make seep about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? Share your thoughts in the comments!