Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ran from 1993 to 1999. There were many conflicts featured over the show’s long history, but the conflict most central to the plot was arguably between the Bajorans and the Cardassians.
Given the show aired during the bulk of the 90s, fans have drawn comparisons to real-world conflicts of that period, such as the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, the First Chechen War, or the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. If you’ve ever wondered whether the writers and producers of DS9 took their inspiration from real-world conflicts, read on to get the details.
Producer Revealed Writer Room Insights About the Conflict
In an interview with Irish outlet Entertainment.ie, former DS9 showrunner and writer Ira Steven Behr was asked if the “whole Bajor/Cardassia occupation” was inspired by the history of Northern Ireland.
The short answer? It’s complicated.
Behr explained, “Obviously, this was in the ’90s, so there was the Middle Eastern conflict, Lebanon was a big hot topic, tons of things, the Northern Ireland thing came up too, so I would say it’s not based on any of them and it’s based on all of them.”
There was no single conflict or war that was the sole inspiration for the Bajoran occupation storyline on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Bajoran-Cardassian Conflict Still Fascinates Fans
A female Cardassian can be seen on duty at Starfleet Command.
— TrekCore.com 🖖 (@TrekCore) November 19, 2020
Despite the show going off the air last century, there are plenty of active Star Trek fans who are still fascinated by the Bajoran-Cardassian dynamic. One Reddit thread drew a comparison between the Bajoran-Cardassian dynamic, and the interactions between Koreans and Imperial Japan. Ultimately, as with so much media, viewers bring their own experiences and perceptions to the characters they watch on screen.
In the same interview with Entertainment.ie, Behr shared an anecdote about how fans have found representation on the series in places he didn’t necessarily expect.
“Someone came up to me and asked – with all seriousness – if the Ferengis were based on the Chinese!” he told the interviewer. “She was Chinese and she said it reminded her of her family!”
The Dominion War
The conflict between the Bajorans and Cardassians may have been where the show started, but the multi-season Dominion War arc is arguably the more explosive conflict in the history of DS9. That war, like the Bajoran occupation, doesn’t have a real-world analog. That being said, critics in the 90s were certainly quick to point out the real-life touchstones that appeared to be reflected in the Star Trek stories of the mid-90s.
A 1996 New York Times writer argued that the 1960s-era optimism of the original Star Trek was wearing thin by the 1990s:
‘With the cold war over, perhaps the Roddenberry optimism seems merely naive as headlines bring news of murderous divisions between Serbs and Muslims, Kurds and Turks, Israelis and Palestinians, Irish Catholics and Protestants, and so on across an increasingly depressing globe.”