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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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

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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

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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.”

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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!”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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“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.


My Multiple MC Problem

Even though I’ve done a lot of writing since childhood, this is the first time I’ve attempted something as big as Project Firedamp. Not only are there a lot of moving parts, historical facts to keep straight, and cultural differences to look out for, things are in their early stages and I’ve got time to make changes.

When my idea for #ProjectFiredamp first came to fruition, I tossed around several sub genres of historical fiction before settling on historical adventure. The time period I chose (late Victorian) and the characters created (some real, some not) really give me wiggle room in the adventure realm.

However, since a few NPCs (if you do online gaming you’ll know this stands for non-player character) and my antagonist were, in fact, real people, I still have to play the “How far can I go into their historical facts without bogging down the reader?” game. (Thank you, Paulette, for getting “NPC” stuck in my head! I love our writerly DMs). Not only that, but since I decided to have two point of views instead of just one, the fear of under developing one of them is real.

Dare I add a third POV? I’m not sure I’m capable of juggling that many subplots just yet!

I asked a question similar to this on Twitter a few weeks ago and KM Weiland shared her method for developing characters. Not only does she have a full book called Creating Character Arcs and its corresponding workbook, she also has a list of interview questions I’ve started using myself. While my fear of under developing a main character is still ever present in the back of my mind, these resources have really helped keep some of that anxiety under control. Let’s face it – I’m a list lover. And you’ve surely deduced by now that I’m an outliner as well.

Method is something I never looked at as a kid. Heck, I grew up in the 90s. We didn’t have as many easily-accessible resources then as we do now. I promise this isn’t a sponsored post. Ms. Weiland will have no idea I’m writing this until I share it on Twitter. Everyone has their own way of helping them keep track of their characters. So far, keeping a running dialogue with them via a list of “interview” questions is helping my process. Maybe those lists will help keep that seed of multiple MC doubt from growing!


How Removing One Villain Solved Everything

I’m one of those people who learn lessons the hard way. It’s a stubborn streak I inherited from three of my grandparents. As much as I love them – thanks guys. Some cycles are harder to break than others. This can be applied to characters you create for stories as well. You fall in love with them, paint them in your mind, and think about them as you work your 9 to 5 job or cook dinner for the kids. But what happens when a character says goodbye? Not you. The character.

Work on THE FIREDAMP CHRONICLES began nearly four years ago. I thought this particular character was, well, brilliant. His storied, embattled past, who his ancestors were and mannerisms. Little did I know my most thought-about character held back the entire story. My own personal villain.

I cried. Literally, not figuratively. I’ve got the “receipts” to prove it. Please excuse the typos – I’m only human!

Emotion is something I don’t oft post online in any manner. However, November 19th, 2019 called for it. I didn’t realize, until today, just how much he was holding everything back. I suppose that’s the very definition of a villain, isn’t it? They’re nefarious, whisper self doubt in your ear, and can be quite ridiculous in the things they choose to latch on to. For years he had me wound so tightly ‘round his finger I couldn’t see potential in other’s stories. So I’ll end this post on a high note. Here’s an embed of the pros of leaving my original villain behind. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll make an appearance in future stories!


When a Character Says Goodbye

I always thought writers were crazy when they Tweeted about their characters “speaking” to them. For the first time since my novel’s conception, I experienced a “sayōnara” moment with my original villain. Now I know what all those “crazy writers” were talking about. And you know what? I’m now one of them. Yay!

The downside to saying goodbye to a villain is, who do I put in his place? An entire plot line is now poof, gone. Destroyed during a ten minute research session on a chilly November Saturday morning. He’s gone after my mind’s played with his family history for three years.

I looked at my villain in the eyes; he looked back. Then he gathered up his crown and jauntily walked out of the story.

Fighting with him, I called him back, reaching for his cape as it billowed behind him in the wind. “NO! Did these past three years mean nothing to you?!” Just like the villain he is, he ignored my pleas, blood, sweat and tears, and disappeared into the morning sun. He left me in the dust. In a pile of words, scenes, plot lines and intrigue only he can solve.

Sometimes characters will do that to you. You’ll discover that they’re just not right for the current story that needs telling. I was going to pull my own form of villainy and out him for his treacherous, turncoat nature but you know what? I think I’ll just lock him in the story vault and feed him with facts of what he hates the most – news that the Union Army won the Civil War.


Thoughts One Week Ahead of #RevPit

What is your general feeling as a writer prepping for #RevPit right now? Stressed? Perhaps. Are you ready or far from it? Maybe you’re not participating and you’re tired of hearing others go on and on about it.

I suppose now would a good time to explain exactly what #RevPit is. This is an annual contest put on by the editors of the website called Revise and Resub. They award those chosen “w5 weeks of our editors’ developmental editing expertise.” Runners up win a query/first page edit or a synopsis edit.

Tantalizing, right?

This time last year my manuscript wasn’t even completed. I wanted to participate so badly that I thought, “Maybe I can finish writing this thing in…five days.” Heck to the no! I write historical adventure fiction. I can easily spend five hours researching the fact that typewriters weren’t even invented yet during my story’s time period!

So that idea went out the window real quick. But that’s when I started following some of the RevPit editors. I got to chat with them. Learn from them. Be a Twitter thread stalker when three of them started tossing out tips and tricks for writing outlines or self-editing or how to write an author bio.

If you’re just starting out in Twitter writing community this year like I was last year, that’s perfectly okay. You don’t have to know what everything is right away. It’s like starting a new job. Unless you’ve been “in the biz” for years already, you have to take those baby steps. I didn’t know what a story aesthetic was. Or a blurb, synopsis or that there was a debate on whether or not to use the Oxford Comma.

If you’re frustrated that you can’t participate in #RevPit, don’t fret. You’ll get there! It just took me an extra year because I’m a slow writer, but it also gave me a goal to work for.

Up to this point I’ve mostly mentioned things for those not participating in this year’s contest. For those of you who are: BREATHE.

“But Leigh,” you say. “This is a big deal!”

Trust me, I’m not refuting that by any means. While I don’t typically follow astrology or put much stock in my “Libra” personality, I do often try to be a balanced person and see both sides of anything. I apply this to my activities online as well.

If you stress yourself to the point you’re worried you’re never going to finish in time to submit, schedule time into your day to fully concentrate on your preparations. Heck, I’m still just thinking about my synopsis and tomorrow’s going to be a full on library day where I knuckle down and work on nothing but that. I finished my other projects earlier this week so I can focus on that last bit.

Breathe in, breathe out. You’ve got all the pieces, right?

“But Leigh,” you say. “There’s so SO much advice out there! How do I weed out what’s true and what isn’t?”

Do the research. As an employee of the retail world I learned early on to subscribe to the philosophy of, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” If what you’ve looked up seems to go against the grain, ask. Use the #writingcommunity tag, add an editor from #RevPit’s site and see what happens!

So you know what? You’ve got this! Regardless of if you’re entering #RevPit this year – you’ve got this! Work at your own pace. Don’t try to enter or do every little tag (you’ll stress yourself out even more), and do your research. Make sure you’re participating in something you can get behind.

Good luck to my fellow entrants!


A retail worker by day and content creator by night, Leigh is from Pittsburgh, PA. When she’s not working on her first novel series based on the rich history of the Keystone State, she’s watching Star Trek, True Crime and home reno shows. Leigh also partners with other writers and editors on weekly interviews for her blog called The Five Question Interview series.