The Character Arcs in Star Trek Deep Space Nine

With all this new Star Trek coming out (Picard, Discovery, Lower Decks), I thought it high time to revive a blog series I’d forgotten about. Earlier this year, I analyzed the cast of Star Trek Voyager and assigned each member of the main crew their arc. Today, I’m going to take a look at the very large cast of Star Trek Deep Space Nine and give myself more work by analyzing not only their arcs, but which change best suits them, or if they’re round or flat characters.

Deep Space Nine had an absolutely huge recurring cast of secondary characters, so I’m sticking to a list of just twelve. I’m not even including anyone from the series’ Mirror Universe or the Dominion, as there just isn’t enough source material to work with. The twelve I’ll analyze in today’s post are the core characters the series’ used the most. If there is a cross next to an actor’s name, it means they have passed on into Paradise.

A Quick Review of Character Changes and Arcs

*In this section I refer to Meg LaTorre’s iWriterly blog post on the Types of Character Arcs in fiction,
as well as several resources on KM Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors website.
If I use a different resource I’ll include a separate hyperlink.

01


Positive Change

Normally used for the heroes in the story. The characters with this change type often struggle more when faced with difficult choices or internal conflict. They want to become a better person.

02


Negative Change

While this type of change is often used for “villains,” other characters can have negative plot lines which will not land them on the truly evil side of things.

03


Flat Characters

No matter the choices these characters make, they basically stay where they started at the very beginning. Sometimes they’ll change. Usually not.

04


Round Characters

To directly quote Judy Blume’s Masterclass on the matter: “Round characters are fully realized characters that come into conflict with each other […] spurring character development.”

05


The Change Arc

Whether this character’s change is immediate or over the course of time (or both), protagonists usually have these arcs. To quote LaTorre, “This change is radical.”

06


The Growth Arc

Characters within the growth arc has more internal change than outward change. Change still happens, but not as radical as the aforementioned arc. They’ll grow as a person regardless of external circumstances.

07


The Shift Arc

According to LaTorre via Reedsy, ““The protagonist changes his perspective, learns different skills, or gains a different role. The end result is not ‘better’ or more than the starting point, just different.”

08


The Fall Arc

Fall arcs can apply to both protagonists and antagonists. This change often results in a decrepit state of mind, death, true villainy, etc. Or even a fall from grace.

Check out this post over on KM Weiland’s blog concerning large casts of characters.
There she explains how a balance of the above changes and arcs can greatly benefit a story.

Now that all that’s out of the way, here are



Linked character names will take you to Memory Alpha,
a website dedicated to fandoms and detailed pages about characters, shows, etc.
Linked actor names will take you to their IMDB pages,
should you wish to learn more about either!

Captain Benjamin Sisko
The Change Arc

Captain Benjamin Sisko was portrayed by Avery Brooks

From the very first episode, Benjamin Sisko and his son, Jake, are thrust into an intense period of change. It propels the entire series forward, and many aspects connect the Sisko family to the people of Bajor. You could say that Sisko’s path very much mimics that of the Bajorans.

The Bajoran home world has just come out of a fifty year occupation by the Cardassians. Sisko must not only bridge a broken peoples’ relationship with the rest of the galaxy, but somehow promise them there is hope for a brighter future.

Change follows Sisko all the way to the final episode. But I refuse to include any spoilers here. This series has one of the most emotional conclusions I’ve ever seen. Avery Brooks poured his entire heart and soul into Sisko, and it’s evident in his arc.

Jake: “…He insisted that she cut up his food for him.
He was treating her like she was some kind of slave.”
Sisko: “It sounds like he’s acting like a Ferengi to me.”

source

Constable Odo
The Shift Arc

Constable Odo was portrayed by Rene Auberjonois

Odo, the station’s constable. Odo, the enigma. Odo, the only one of his kind on Deep Space Nine.

For much of Odo’s arc, he’s searching for his origins but he’s sure of who he is as an individual. Then how, pray, does Odo end up in the negative change arc?

Sometimes what we seek isn’t what we’re meant to find. Or what we wanted to find. Odo’s story is one with many layers, but was it better at the beginning or at the end?

Odo: “Where’s the Changeling? I lost him in the conduits.”
O’Brien: “We haven’t seen him.”
(another Odo emerges from another access port)
Changeling/Odo: “Wait. It’s me, Odo.”
O’Brien(looks at both Odo’s) “You don’t say.”

source

Dr. Julian Bashir
The Growth Arc

Doctor Julian Bashir was portrayed by Alexander Siddig

Stay with me on this one. I’ll not deny that Dr. Bashir had some amazing character moments and difficult choices he had to make throughout the series, including defying orders on several occasions.

Due to some behind-the-scenes tension, Bashir wasn’t developed as well as Sisko or Dax. It’s a well known fact among long time Trek fans that Season Four is when Bashir really begins to shine.

Even with all the writers’ issues with the Bashir character arc, Siddig did an amazing job portraying one of my first television crushes.

Kai Winn: “There is more at stake than one man’s life.”
Bashir: “One man’s life is all I’m concerned with at the moment.”

source

Chief Miles Edward O’Brien
The Shift Arc

Colm Meany reprised the role from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Colm Meany wasn’t sure about reprising O’Brien on another series, but I’m sure glad he did! Because of this O’Brien became an integral character on DS9. Grandfathered in, if you will.

We saw some of his development on Next Gen, but he was more of a secondary character there. Watching the Chief’s growth from Next Gen to the end of DS9 was, and still is, such a joy.

One of the most serious episodes in all of Trek involves O’Brien. If you’re already a fan, you know precisely the one I speak of. It only affirms Trek’s relevancy to what 2020’s brought us. And it O’Brien’s arc shows us that humans in the 24th century will struggle with and overcome the same things we do today.

“It’s not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became, because of you.”
– O’Brien to Glinn Daro

source

Major Kira Nerys
The Growth Arc

Major Kira Nerys was played by Nana Visitor

Major Kira Nerys, very set in her ways when it comes to what she believes, is still willing to accept into her life new relationships, new thoughts and takes on whatever the universe throws at her with strength and grace.

The Round character type suits Kira the most. As she’s Bajoran, she’s just as passionate about her faith and her politics as Cardassians are about order and conquest. Kira’s passion is what draws people of all races to her, and thus needs to change and grow in order to survive.

“If you want to change the government, Minister Jaro, you vote to change it.
You don’t sneak up from behind it with a dagger.”
– Kira to Jaro

source

Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax
The Change Arc

The Dax Symbiont’s eighth host was played by Terry Farrell

Confession: I had a hard time pinpointing Dax’s character arc. And even now I’m still unsure if I made the right choice. Dax, the symbiont within its host of Jadzia (read up on Trill physiology here), has already given Jadzia eight life times’ worth of experiences by the time her character’s introduced in Episode One.

As such, I do believe her character was thought out long before they cast Farrell into the roll. Round in that she knows firmly who she is even with the memories of so many lifetimes inside her.

Even so, Dax still manages to experience much change. Her change isn’t as integral to DS9s timeline as Sisko’s, but their arcs compliment one another well.

Dax: “The Korvat colony. First day of negotiations, I walked out on you, right in the middle of that long-winded speech of yours. You should have seen the look on your face. Nobody had ever had the kajunpak’t to show their back to the great Kang before Curzon did.”
Kang: “I almost killed Curzon that day.”

source

Lt. Commander Worf
The Shift Arc

Michael Dorn also reprised his role from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Because he previously appeared on Next Gen with Chief O’Brien, Worf is quite the Round character. Much of his character’s already developed, so if you really want to get the full Worf experience in, watch all of that series first.

That’s why Worf has the Shift Arc in DS9. We see him learning new skills, learning how to deal with different situations, and how he’s able to hold fast to his heritage in a place he’s never felt quite comfortable in.

If you thought Worf already had quite the role in TNG, just you wait!

Worf: “Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them a millennia ago. They were more trouble than they were worth.”
Kira: “I don’t think I’ll ever understand Klingons.”
O’Brien: “Don’t worry about it, Major. Nobody Does. It’s the way they like it.”

source

Quark
The Shift Arc

Quark was portrayed by Armin Shimerman

Whether you want to believe a Ferengi can change or not, Quark falls under the Shift Arc category. Two of my absolute favorite DS9 episodes are completely Ferengi-centric: “Little Green Men” and “The Magnificent Ferengi.”

Even with those two fantastic episodes, and other times Quark shines in episodes like “Business As Usual” and “Profit and Lace,” Quark ends up exactly where he began.

As a Ferengi, Quark was raised with an intense need to earn profit. The entire population within the Ferengi alliance, after all, knows the Rules of Acquisition by heart.

For Quark, even with all his aspirations and more deals gone wrong over those gone right, his character ends with some negative changes.

Quark: “You practically begged me to stay,
which was against my better judgement, but I did!”
Sisko: “I didn’t beg you, I blackmailed you.”

source

Rom
The Shift Arc

Max Grodenchik portrayed Rom

Max Grodenchik has said that Rom was supposed to be just a guest on DS9. While it’s true he’s not in the opening credits, both he and Nog really should’ve been.

Rom is not your typical Ferengi. He’s often criticized by members of his own race, or mocked by others, for being too influenced by “hoomans.”

Rom’s arc connects him to several story threads, and he takes it all on in, well, in Rom’s own way. And Rom’s own way is exactly what’s so endearing about him.

Even when he’s plotting against Quark – because he is, after all, still a Ferengi. A Ferengi with a finish you’ll never see coming.

Rom: “I’m going back to Quark! At least then I’ll be cheated by family!”

source

Nog
The Shift Arc

Nog was portrayed by Aron Eisenberg

Nog, influenced by his friendship with the Sisko family, begins to desire something more than what his society expects of him. There’s so much backstory with Nog and the man who portrays him that it could be its own separate blog post.

Because of those desires, he’s met with some tough resistance from those who can’t believe a Ferengi would want something more than profit. He wants to join Starfleet.

Nog’s journey from childhood to trusted member of the crew is a great reason families should watch DS9. For a secondary character, that’s not too shabby if you ask me.

Jake: “I- I- I made other plans!”
Nog: “What could be more important than dom-jot?”
Jake: “I have a date.”
Nog: “Ohhh. We-ell. That’s different.”

source

Gul Dukat
The Fall Arc

Gul Dukat was played by Mark Alaimo

What can I say about Gul Dukat that won’t spoil anything for you? For the character that he is, he’s one of the most developed I’ve ever seen in a Star Trek series. Next would have to be Commander Worf.

Dukat’s journey is one filled with challenge after challenge. He falls from grace, reclaims his place and falls again. Does this give him some form of Cardassian inferiority complex?

Let’s just say that Dukat is the polar opposite of DS9s resident Cardassian, Garak. While their race, as a whole, is ambitious, confident and efficient, this combination of traits feed both Dukat’s ego and his downfall.

Kira: “Why is it when you smile I want to leave the room?”
Dukat: “I suppose it’s because of my overwhelming charm.”

source

Kai Winn Adami
The Fall Arc

Kai Winn was played by Louise Fletcher

Speaking of ego, Winn Adami likes to begin many of her statements with the “I.” I’ll not hide my feelings about this particular character: Adami is a snake, and I’m sure she’ll not appreciate my use of her given name here.

Adami not only qualify for the Fall Arc, she’s a rather flat character as well. Her wants are singular. And, irony of ironies, she’s openly bitter about her circumstances.

Is that bitterness warranted? Is it self-imposed or was it fed by the Bajoran thirst for freedom from the Cardassian Occupation? I guess you’ll just have to watch and decide for yourself.

Kai Winn: “I was chosen by the Prophets to lead our people into a new era. I know that! But I was not meant to be in a room with a Cardassian, debating legalisms and diplomatic nuances.”

source

“But Leigh! You left out Ezri Dax. Jake Sisko. Garak. Weyoun. Keiko and Molly and Kirayoshi O’Brien. Not to mention Liquidator Brunt, Quark’s cousin Gala, Moogie, the Grand Nagus, Damar, Leeta-“

Slow down, slow down, slow down. Deep Space Nine has one of, if not the largest pools of secondary characters I’ve ever seen in a series. And, whether you like my analysis or not, those folks are secondary characters.

While Jake Sisko did indeed grow up on the show (figuratively and literally), there really aren’t enough Jake-centered episodes fully round out his character. I should hope that even Jake Sisko himself, the captain’s son turned author, would agree with that conclusion. In conclusion: his is a flat character arc.

As for the others, some I’d love to see come back if Deep Space Nine were ever revived. But without Odo or Nog (rest in Paradise, Rene and Aron), as well as certain characters written off the show, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.

For now, don’t let my analysis of these characters dissuade you from watching Deep Space Nine. Sandwiched between The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager, the writers for DS9 were able to explore a different kind of frontier.

“Very well written and insightful. Writing is definitely your strong suit!” -Greg

Published by Leigh A. Hartman

Hey all! Welcome to my website! I'm currently writing my first novel series called The Firedamp Chronicles. Check out the following links to find out more about why I write!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: