Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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Name: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Abbreviation(s): DS9
Creator: Rick Berman, Michael Piller
Date(s): 1993-1999
Medium: Television series
Country of Origin: United States
External Links:
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the second spin-off of the Star Trek franchise. It is arguably the most ethnically and gender diverse of the franchise with multiple characters of color and female characters in lead positions. Due to the station setting, it concentrated less on boldly going and more on dealing with the ramifications of changing alliances and reconstruction; political intrigue, religion, and conflicting loyalties are major themes. DS9 was also much darker in its depiction of both the future in general and the Federation in particular.

This fandom was very active in the 90's when the show was airing, and experienced a new surge of fandom in 2010 when the show was brought to Netflix. As a contemporary of Babylon 5, another science fiction show about a space station, these shows were often compared, the fandoms deeply divided, and there was much discussion about the influence of B5 on DS9.


Commander Benjamin Sisko (played by Avery Brooks) is the commander of a Federation space station known as Deep Space Nine. On the edge of the Alpha Quadrant, he and the station's inhabitants must deal with old resentments, new and fragile alliances, and threats from unknown forces outside of Federation space.

Whereas the other Star Trek shows dealt more with exploration, by its nature DS9 was more sedentary. Concentrating less on boldly going and more on dealing with the ramifications of changing alliances and reconstruction, DS9 dealt strongly with political intrigue, religion, and conflicting loyalties.

The cast of characters includes a mix of Starfleet officers, private Federation citizens, and others, some of whom had also appeared on Star Trek: TNG: Sisko's son Jake, the Bajoran liaison officer Kira Nerys, Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax, Doctor Bashir, Miles O'Brien, Worf, the Changeling Constable Odo, the Ferengi businessman Quark, and later Ezri Dax. Because of the show's complex plot arcs, there are a large number of significant recurring characters, including the Cardassian tailor Garak, Quark's brother Rom, Quark's nephew Nog, the former commander of DS9 Gul Dukat, Miles's wife Keiko, and the Bajoran spiritual leader Kai Winn Adami.

Relationship with Babylon 5

There was also a rivalry with another popular and critically acclaimed television series, Babylon 5, created and produced by J. Michael Straczynski for Warner Bros. The two productions, which ran largely concurrently, were observed to be so similar that Babylon 5 fans accused Paramount, to whom Straczynski had previously pitched his series, of plagiarism. Considering how fellow Trek alumni like Walter Koenig and Andreas Katsulas had major roles in the rival series, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry agreed to a guest appearance as a gesture of goodwill to encourage a reconciliation between the fandoms." [1]

The Babylon 5 Quotient by J. Michael Straczynski is a post on CompuServ in which he described the show, and essentially accused Warner Bros. and other PTB of ripping off his ideas to use in Deep Space Nine (January 2002)

Fan Reception

While many enjoyed the dense and multiple storylines, a number of fans found it difficult to follow or boring in the early days. The show was also much darker in its depiction of both the future in general and the Federation in particular than either the original Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation. Some fans felt it let down the Trek franchise; for example, Ridley Scott writes:

Deep Space 9 was significantly different from all preceeding Treks: the setting was an abandoned Cardassian station in the Bajoran system (as opposed to the Federation flagship roaming about the Galaxy); there was some friction between characters (mainly between Starfleet and non-Starfleet personel, as opposed to the extreme camaradry displayed in previous Treks); the characters weren‘t exploring actively (going somewhere unknown in a ship), but passively (hanging at the mouth of the wormhole, waiting for the unknown to fly through); the series is much more action oriented (specially starting from the third season) than any past Trek. Rick Berman and Michael Piller comitted one fatal mistake: to treat STAR TREK like a science-fiction show. STAR TREK is so much more than just a science-fiction show that what they left out (the morals, the ethics, the guiding dream) made Deep Space 9 a failure, at least according to me.[2]

From a fan in 1997:

I freely admit to more than a little perverse pleasure out of knowing that [their ratings dropped] happened after they "punched up" the show by removing everything in it that I cared about and loved. they "punched up" the show by removing everything in it that I cared about and loved.

Seems to me the solution's simple -- get Kira out of the hooker duds, do character pieces more often that they used to do, bring back the Cardassians, shove Worf out an airlock, and ditch Garak's jailbait prom date and let him be the camp queen he was and always will be. :-) I was the most vocal defender of DS9 for the first three years of its existence. But the PTB kept saying, "No one is watching," when me and a large nu[m]ber of friends of mine were watching manically. What they meant was that not enough white males were watching, so we were all "no one." And the changes in the show's format were obviously aimed at making the show more "male," because that was how they defined success. (Interestingly, most times I complain about DS9's current format on here, I get e-mail from *men* agreeing with me, so they aren't doing it successfully.)

I loved the show, and had it remained the same, I would now be a booster for both shows. But their 4th season about-face was aimed at offending me -- I've gone over the changes before in great detail. In the face of that, why bother watching? It pissed me off for a show that *good* to decide that cowardly backsliding was the way to go.

It was the first of all the Trek shows to really take women's roles seriously, and to imply slash content very close to the surface. It also got rid of that smooth, overpolished aura that TNG had that nearly put me to sleep (although they did have a bunch of wonderful shows, I think they would have been better had REAL PEOPLE been involved in the action), and introduced real characters with texture and flaws. The 4th season changes totally backslid on the women's roles and the slash content, and I was back to eating table scraps as a viewer again, getting the occasional "good line," or "good scene" for the women while the rest of the time they pranced around in hooker costumes. [3]

A fan in 2020 wrote:

It was generally regarded as sort of a flop at the time; the ratings weren't as good as Next Gen's had been, and that was blamed at least in part on the fact that DS9 included plotlines that spanned entire seasons, and that you had to watch each episode from week to week to understand everything that was happening. This was actually pretty unusual for a prime-time show at the time, and was certainly unusual for Star Trek; TNG would occasionally have episodes that referenced earlier ones (mostly relating to either Data and Lore or Picard/Locutus) and typically had 2-part cliffhanger episodes to span season breaks, but otherwise kept most episodes entirely self-contained, with endings that restored the status quo so they could be watched in almost any order.

The two showrunners of DS9 eventually parted ways. Brannon Braga would keep working on Voyager and later Enterprise, shows that more closely followed the strictly-episodic model of TNG. The other, Ronald Moore, left to work on other projects, and eventually became the executive producer for the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, one of the shows that arguably started today's trend of "prestige television" that has season-spanning plots you have to tune in for every week (or binge online to catch up, an option that wasn't really possible when DS9 was on the air). [4]

In the early days, there were many rumors and a fan push for GLBT representation on the show, which seemed to fall mostly on deaf ears. However, in the fourth season episode called "Rejoined", Jadzia Dax, a character from a race which carried genderless symbiotes which were passed to another upon each person's death, meets up with the former wife of her symbiote and attempts to rekindle the relationship. This episode featured the first same-sex kiss in Star Trek canon.


Beginning in the early 90s, the fandom straddled fandom's migration to the internet, having many stories and discussions both online in the Usenet forums and websites, and offline in zines.

Some early anecdotal comments regarding the Internet:

In her column, "Netchatter," a fan in 1995 tries to ease the way for others into the new realm of online: "... sometimes a crabapple creeps into the feast. I want to sincerely apologize to my friends who acted upon certain recommendations I made in this column and were subjected to personally unpleasant and in some cases hurtful communications in the course of attempting to join in organized electronic fandom. Please, don't think that this is the norm on the Net. Check out the newsgroups. Yes, there are a fair share of obnoxious people and time-wasting posts...but there are also many free-ranging, intelligent, thought-provoking and fun posts as well. Whatever happens, please don't let negative experiences sour you on net fandom! Keep looking, with other listservs, Usenet groups, forums and other private e-mail discussion :-). There is a big world of fandom out there!" [5]

Another fan in 1995 reports on the results of a DS9 fan fiction survey she had conducted.[6] "Half the respondents were new to the fan fiction arena (in the last three years or so), myself included. Since almost all the responses were generated off the Internet, a lot of the authors claimed that after getting on-line, they were intrigued by the stories they found there, and wanted to try their hand at it. Two writers stated that they didn't realize others wrote fan fiction until they attended a convention or got on-line." [7]

A fan in 1996 comments: "What you have to realize is that online fandom is a VERY small part of overall Trek (or DS9 for that matter) fandom. Most people don't have access to or own their own computer and those of us who are online (myself included) tend to forget that fandom at large is not on the Internet. I personally do not think of the Internet as, to use a statistical term, unbiased estimator of how good or how bad the show is doing. That's what Nielsen ratings are for." [8]

For an overview of Star Trek fandom's online activities from the early 1990s, including show commentary, episode guides and fan fiction, visit the textfile directory/WebCite.

Second Wave

In 2010, Deep Space Nine was brought to Netflix, and a new group of fans were able to watch it.

Most of the new fandom is located on Tumblr and is art and fanfic based. There is a highly active fic community on AO3, with the occasional fic on Bashir/Garak remains the most popular ship and greatly dwarfs other ships; however ships like Odo/Quark and Kira/Jadzia have grown substantially in popularity. Elim Garak/Kelas Parmak and Elim Garak/Kelas Parmak/Julian Bashir have also emerged due to Una McCormack's beta canon novels. Femslash beyond Kira/Jadzia and the less common Jadzia/Lenara is rare, but there is a small community of rare pair femslashers. Despite their previous prominence, Kira/Dukat and Julian/Jadzia fics are extremely rare.

(to be added: clubs, websites, pairings, etc.)


Art from the zine Bashir... Julian Bashir, featuring Bashir, Garak and Sisko, by Wendy Price-Bradtke

Bashir is the most popular character among fanwriters, and Garak/Bashir is the most popular slash pairing. Other common slash pairings include Bashir/O'Brien and the newly popular Quark/Odo. Het pairings are more varied, but the common ones include Odo/Kira, Julian/Jadzia and Kira/Dukat. Femslash was originally relatively rare, but Kira/Jadzia has become the fourth most popular pairing on Ao3 for the fandom.

A fan in 1995 summarizes what folks on the Internet were saying at the time about pairings:

Two new polls announced their results in the last few weeks. One enterprising Netter held a "best ST character" survey, and Sid's fandom rang loudly. Doctor Julian Bashir was the highest-ranked DS9 castmember, at number seven overall. The only other DS9ers in the top ten were Odo at number 9 and Dax, tied for 10th with Montgomery Scott. In order, the other Niners were; Garak, 11th; Sisko, 12th; Kira. 15th; Quark, 16th; O'Brien, 17th; Gul Dukat, 22nd; Vedek Bareil, 23 rd; Morn, 25th; Nog, 26th; and Keiko, Jake and Rom didn't register :-}. The other noteworthy poll was an interesting counterpoint. It was the Cutest Couple Contest, and the diversity of the Net was definitely in evidence here. The top vote-getters were a Voyager couple (Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres), the second place couple were from TNG (Bev Crusher and Captain Picard); and the third place vote getters were three couples, including the highest vote-takers from the Station, Jadzia Dax and Julian Bashir. Obviously, there are a lot of die-hard romantics among the Niner Net crowd. Other multiple vote-snagging couples were: Dax and Sisko, Dax and Kira, Bashir and Garak, Bashir and Tom Paris, and Kira and Odo. I guess someone liked "Heart of Stone." These results were very much in keeping with the majority of the fan fiction that has been posted in the last several months as well. Fans are a fascinating bunch.[9]



Outpost #4 cover art, featuring the main cast from the early seasons, by Gabi Stiene
Cover art of Warp #42, featuring several characters, by unknown artist

Kira Nerys/Odo:

Garak/Bashir slash:

For a list of more fanzines for DS9 fanzines, see Category:Star Trek DS9 Zines.


See: Category:Star Trek DS9 Fanfiction for a complete listing of DS9 fic with Fanlore pages



Character or Pairing Focused


On LiveJournal

On Tumblr

On Facebook

Fan Clubs


Meta/Further Reading

External Links & Resources

  • The DS9 Encyclopedia & Lexicon - Tracy Hemenover's data intensive website with character bios, episode guides and descriptions of all sorts of show trivia."This site is for fanfic writers, trivia buffs, and anyone else who (like me) loves the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."


  1. ^ "Memory Alpha Wiki". Archived from the original on 2015-05-15.
  2. ^ Ridley Scott's Star Trek Page: DS9 Page (accessed 23 May 2012)
  3. ^ from Janice C at Ratings for syndicated action shows (Jan 24, 1997)
  4. ^ a comment by Narshero at Lizardfuckers are Nazis
  5. ^ Multi-Species Medicine #18
  6. ^ she admits her pool was somewhat small; she had 25 respondents
  7. ^ Multi-Species Medicine #14
  8. ^ Multi-Species Medicine #27
  9. ^ "Netchatter" by Brenda S. Antrim in Multi-Species Medicine #18