Named as leader of the Klingon High Council and the empire's Chancellor in late 2367, Gowron, son of M'Rel, had been a virtual Klingon outsider who often challenged the council until he made claim to its leadership when the sitting Chancellor, K'mpec, was poisoned. Gowron was chosen over Duras as his successor by Jean-Luc Picard, who served as a non-native Arbiter of Succession by request of the dying K'mpec. After Worf killed his opponent Duras, Gowron refused to return Worf and brother Kurn their family honor until they helped repulse the challenge by Duras' family to his ascension as leader.

Gowron proved to be more a pragmatist and politician than an outright warrior, although his skill with the short blade was not to be doubted. In 2369 he outfought the would-be Kahless and proved him to be a clone of the original, but eventually bowed to Worf's wisdom in installing him as a symbolic emperor. Gowron's positions have ranged from hearing minor disputes before the Council to attacking Cardassia and breaking the Khitomer Alliance with an uncooperative Federation in early 2372, all due to Dominion manipulation. After refusing to return captured Cardassian space, he even provoked a war with the UFP a year later thanks to a Shapeshifter double of his military aide, Gen. Martok, by insisting on the return of the Archanis sector after over a century. When the need for a united front against the Dominion reasserted itself some months later, though, he did agree to reinstate the Khitomer accords with a contingent at DS9. Having once restored Worf's family honor, Gowron refused to return the title, lands and Council seat he revoked after the Cardassian invasion, taking Worf's opposition to that action as a personal slap, once again bringing discommendation to the house of Mogh.

When the real General Martok returned after escape from a Dominion internment camp, Gowron made him head of the Klingons' military efforts in the Dominion War. As the war raged, however, Gowron sensed that Martok was gaining popularity and could prove to be a political rival, so Gowron took over command of the forces in 2375 and sent many warriors into battle under foolish strategies, with the intent of making Martok look bad. It was Worf who stood up to Gowron and challenged him to a bat'leth fight. Worf defeated Gowron and killed him. Worf then declined to take on the position of Chancellor, instead handing over the role to Martok.