One Scene Helped Star Trek Icon Finally Understand His Character

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

In all of Star Trek, the Ferengi bartender Quark has proven to be one of this franchise’s most memorable characters. He helped to cement the Ferengi’s change from barbarous bad guys to conniving capitalists, and Armin Shimerman’s humorous performance on Deep Space Nine helped to anchor some of that show’s best episodes. As for Shimerman, he credits a single scene in a forgotten DS9 episode for helping him finally understand what his character was all about.

Armin Shimerman Found Quark’s Purpose In Season One

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The Star Trek episode that inspired Shimerman’s understanding of his Quark character was “Babel,” the episode in which a replicator accident causes an infection that prevents the afflicted from communicating. In typical Ferengi fashion, Quark’s lies about his replicators being fixed end up spreading the infection and risking a stationwide pandemic.

What isn’t typical, however, is that Quark ends up taking command of Ops as one of the only people left uninfected (something he credits to a strong Ferengi immune system).

Quark In Control Shocked Everyone

Seeing Quark take control of Ops was as shocking to audiences as it was to Major Kira. It was also a bit of a shock to Armin Shimerman as he read the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine script and saw what Quark would be doing near the end of the episode. That shock turned into a pleasant surprise, however, when he realized that he now had a better handle on who this character was and how to portray him.

Fun-Loving Spirit And Delight

According to Armin Shimerman, the moment Quark was left in charge of Ops was the moment that he realized who the Ferengi really was: “Ah, this is the character, this guy who likes to have a good time, who enjoys life and who feels that no problem is insurmountable.”

To hear the actor tell it, this was a rather momentous moment in Star Trek history because it did nothing short of defining who Quark was. “That fun-loving spirit and delight became ingrained in my character at that moment.”

Quark’s Schemes

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As Star Trek fans, we had never really thought of Quark’s character quite like this, but Shimerman has an important point that the Ferengi’s personality can be distilled down to that of an enthusiastic problem-solver.

For example, why does he constantly try to run schemes when he knows that the shapeshifting Security Chief Odo almost always ends up busting him? Simple: if he truly sees no problem as insurmountable, then he would simply see each new scheme as an opportunity to finally achieve victory by successfully deceiving Odo.

Fighting The Dominion

Shimerman’s revelations about the Ferengi even help to explain some moments that would otherwise seem a bit out of character.

For example, some Star Trek fans find it unrealistic that Quark helps with a rebellion against the Dominion on Deep Space Nine, going so far as to fatally shoot a Jem’Hadar in “Sacrifice of Angels” to save his brother from execution. Certainly, Quark is no hero, but he loved both his brother and life under Starfleet rule so much that he saw fighting as just another way to solve the dilemma in front of him.

One Of The Greatest Star Trek Characters

For fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it’s notable that “Babel” is only the fifth episode of season one, so Shimerman got a handle on who Quark was very early in the series. That’s one of the reasons why his character remains a delight during even some of the worst early episodes (“Allamaraine, count to four,” anyone?). Now that Lower Decks has been canceled, we can only hope future shows and films find creative ways to bring everyone’s favorite Ferengi back.

It’s what the fans want, Paramount. And we hope you remember the 57th Rule of Acquisition: “Good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them.”

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