Published Nov 3, 2023
The Best of Quark
In celebration of Armin Shimerman's birthday this weekend, we highlight our favorite Ferengi's pursuits of profit.
By Christine Dinh
A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.
Rule of Acquisition #18
When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered, fans were treated to a lot of franchise firsts — a series set on a space station as opposed to a starship Enterprise, long-overarching storylines, interpersonal conflict between the crew, and a deeper understanding of other cultures outside the Federation, including the Bajorans, Cardassians, and the Ferengi.
The Ferengi were seen as irredeemable, one-dimensional villains on Star Trek: The Next Generation; however, through the character of Quark, and his family (brother Rom, nephew Nog, and mother Ishka), viewers had the opportunity to view the Ferengi with more depth and nuance than the universe previously afforded them. The Ferengi and its strict, capitalist society proved an interesting foil to the Federation ideals.
In celebration of Armin Shimerman's birthday this weekend, we're highlighting our favorite Quark moments in pursuit of profit.
"Rules of Acquisition"
In this episode, Quark meets his match in new hire Pel (a female Ferengi masquerading as a male Ferengi) who challenges his views of a patriarchal society with her cunning and entrepreneurial spirit. Before learning her true identity, Quark feels the mounting romantic tension between the two. When exposed, Quark doesn't out Pel for violating Ferengi law in regards to wearing clothes and trying to earn profit as a woman. Knowing what the bar means to Quark, he promises Rom the bar in exchange for his silence about Pel. While he ultimately tells Pel he would not be happy with a non-traditional Ferengi wife, he feels the pang of the lost of her presence aboard the space station.
Who Mourns for Morn?
When the crew learns that bar fixture Morn was killed in an ion storm, Quark takes the opportunity to welcome in profit by way of hosting a memorial party for his former patron. It's during this memorial that Quark learns that Morn's entire estate was left to him.
This episode gives us another window to Quark's softer side when he comes across someone with a greater thirst for profit and greed than him — Morn's ex-wife and a host of other unsavory characters who were part of a heist with Morn. Stuck with dealing with all their tomfoolery, Quark actually comes to miss Morn, who as it turns out, faked his death in order to avoid the motley crew in hopes that Quark (and Odo) dispatches them. For his troubles, Morn regurgitates some bars of latinum for the bar owner, proving him the only one worthy of being cut in.
"House of Quark"
"I am Quark, son of Keldar, and I have come to answer the challenge of D'Ghor, son of whatever."
Never one to miss out an opportunity for profit, Quark takes credit for the untimely death of his patron, Kozak, who stiffed him on his tab, citing self-defense, as business booms alongside his newfound popularity with many arriving to hear his tale, despite Odo's caution that the Klingon's family may retaliate.
Soon, Kozak's brother D'Ghor and widow Grillka arrive to learn if Kozak died honorably in battle or not against the "slayer of Klingons." Taken to the Klingon homeworld against his will, Quark becomes entangled in another family's finances and drama. Unwilling to let the House of Kozak to fall, and the opportunity to lead her own House, Grillka presents Quark to the Klingon High Council stating that as Kozak's killer, he's invited to take his place, and his wife, resulting in the interim House of Quark. Doing what he does best, Quark aids Grilka in her quest by going over financial records of the House of Kozak, where he informs the widow and then the High Council that D'Ghor had been unscrupously attacking his brother's family assets for some time to weaken it for a takeover. Unable to leave Grilka in ruins, he arrives at a Council meeting to fight D'Ghor.
"Hew-mons used to be a lot worse than the Ferengi. Slavery. Concentration camps. Interstellar wars. We have nothing in our past that approaches that kind of barbarism. You see? We're nothing like you. We're better. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lock to pick."
Star Trek never misses an opportunity to highlight what society needs to overcome to achieve its Federation ideals.
When Odo informs Quark that his request to use the station's monitors to sell merch, the bar owner finds his way to crashing Sisko's father-son trip in hopes of change the commander's opinion of him and reconsider his request. However, their camping trip on an uninhabited planet in the Gamma Quadrant runs afoul when Quark embarrasses Nog who runs off and Quark and Sisko are taken prisoner with a mysterious women. They soon learn about the Jem'Hadar and the Dominion, and their distaste of those on the other side of the wormhole encroaching on their space.
It's on this trip that Quark calls out the Federation's hypocrisy for talking about tolerance yet disproving and scorning Ferengi values, pointedly noting, "We're a constant reminder of a part of your past you'd like to forget." You can't argue with someone who's spitting facts.
"The Magnificent Ferengi"
What's a list of Quark moments without the episode where our favorite Ferengi rises to the level of action hero... who also makes a profit.
When Quark's mother Ishka is captured by the Dominion, he rallies a ragtag crew to rescue her while withholding mention that there's a substantial reward on the line should they succeed. Upon running some battle simulations in the holosuite, Quark realizes their hopes of succeeding hinges on what they do best — making a deal — as opposed to exercising brute force.
As leader of the group, Quark accounts for things like an escaped prisoner, what he couldn't account for was Rom slipping mention of the profit, and the subsequent fight among the crew and a dead bargaining chip (the aforementioned prisoner). Unwilling to leave his mother behind (and demonstrating his love for her), he utilizes each Ferengi's strength, including Nog's engineering prowess, and they return to Deep Space 9 with Ishka as well as a Vorta prisoner.