The Vorta: Star Trek’s guys-you-love-to-hate. The middle managers of the Dominion. The officious little adjutants of a fascist regime!
Genetically modified from some arboreal primates to help serve the Founders, the Vorta are an odd race: they have no culture of their own, have no aesthetic sense whatsoever. There’s no Vorta music, no Vorta art, no Vorta cuisine (though they do still like the nuts from their homeworld). They’re essentially immune to poison (a nice feature in a diplomat) and they are hardwired to be the friendliest liars you’ll ever meet.
By my count, there are only thirteen named Vorta in the entire run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — and five of them are named Weyoun, thanks to the Dominon’s tendency to re-clone their favorite servants like they’re playing Super Mario Bros. Though there’s only a baker’s dozen of the purple-eyed schemers in all of Star Trek, all of them leave an impression — even the individual-yet-slightly-different versions of Weyoun.
So with that in mind, here is every single named Vorta, ranked by how great they were for us to watch at home.
Fairly one-note, this standard-issue Vorta appears to be a pretty fair baseline for what all Vorta are like - competent, detailed oriented administrators with just a couple whacks of the Evil Stick to make them better able to serve the Founders. In his appearance, Borath trapped the crew of the Defiant in a virtual simulation to see just how far they’d go to resist the Dominion (really far, turns out). Nothing about Borath’s appearance really stands out, but he’s a perfectly adequate Vorta.
Luaran dies very, very quickly in her appearance, but she’s notable for one thing: Kira doing a very passable impression of Luaran over the comms to trick the Dominion. For that alone, Luaran earns a higher spot in the listings than she’d otherwise probably get.
The first appearance of an alien on Star Trek often contains some… anomalies. The first time we ever see Spock, he smiles warmly. The first time we see a Trill, they don’t have any spots. And when we meet Eris, the first Vorta we’ve ever seen, she has… psychokinetic powers that no Vorta after ever demonstrates. Perhaps in the world of genetically-engineered servants it’s an optional feature, like springing for the leather interior or seat warmers. Or, given that we never see Eris again, giving one of your custom-designed slave species psychic powers may make them a little too powerful to control.
Just gonna say it: screw Keevan. Screw his scheming ways, his weaselly little face, his hiss of a voice. Even by Vorta standards, Keevan was unusually self-serving and duplicitous. In “Rocks and Shoals,” the stranded Keevan realized he didn’t have enough Ketracel White to keep his soldiers happy and obedient, so instead he sent his men to attack Sisko — while warning Sisko first about their plan. Sisko had no choice but to massacre the Jem’Hadar soldiers — and while the Dominion may treat the Jem’Hadar like meaty, disposable cannon fodder, Sisko absolutely didn’t. His disgust with Keevan was palpable as he took him into custody.
Luckily, in his second appearance, Keevan got what was coming to him. In “The Magnificent Ferengi,” Nog, Quark, Rom and a team of other Ferengi accidentally kill him while setting up a prisoner exchange, and pull a “Weekend At Bernie’s” with the corpse, ultimately leaving his shambling body walking into a bulkhead forever. His last words? “I hate Ferengi.”
Well, Keevan, I hate you.
Whenever you pit the Vorta against the Jem’Hadar, you end up siding against the Vorta every time. Because while the Dominion’s loyal footsoldiers have no choice but to follow the Founders or literally die, the Vorta seem to really enjoy being the scheming Iago-type assistants to the Founders. It seems like a missed opportunity that the Founders didn’t genetically engineer the Vorta with moustaches to twirl.
Deyos, overseeing a Dominion internment camp, wasn’t seen beyond his one appearance on the show, but in his role he oversaw a lot of changes. His little asteroid prison reunited Garak with his father Enabran Tain, held Doctor Bashir captive while a Changeling doppelgänger tried to destroy the entire Bajoran system, and introduced Worf to Martok in what is probably one of the most important friendships in Klingon history.
When Worf’s opponent in the fighting pit, the Jem’Hadar First, announced that he could not defeat Worf, merely kill him, Deyos ordered them both shot. Worf survived thanks to a well-timed transporter, but Deyos will always be remembered one of the more-dishonorable Vorta.
8) Weyoun 8
The first Weyoun to appear on our list, Weyoun 8 was the final Weyoun to appear on the show. During his run, #8 mostly oversaw the entirely botched occupation of Cardassia, and as such his tenure is a string of failures. He failed to kill Damar’s resistance movement and also failed to break the spirit of the Cardassian people, who rose up when it seemed as though Damar was gone. Creepily loyal to the Founders, his only response to being ordered to wipe out the entire Cardassian population was “That could take some time,” clearly only concerned about the logistics rather than the morality.
Weyoun died the way he lived; that is to say, he died by being murdered yet again. Garak gunned this last Weyoun for shooting his mouth off (you’d think he would’ve learned; see the entry on Weyoun 7) and Garak was very pleased to discover that there were no more clones lying in wait.
In “One Little Ship,” Gelnon oversaw the creation of a new race of Jem’Hadar soldiers, the “Alphas,” who were explicitly designed to succeed in the Alpha Quadrant. He then proceeded to ignore the advice of his older, more-experienced soldiers from the Gamma Quadrant on the grounds that they were old news. We’ve all had a boss or two who wouldn’t listen to advice, and so in the audience our hearts kinda go out to the poor Jem’Hadar serving under him. On the other hand, his inability to listen to his inferiors means that the crew of the Defiant were able to turn the tables on their captors, so I’m kinda fine with his management style.
6) Weyoun 5
Weyoun 5 was the longest-running Weyoun during the run of the show, and he made the most of his time, forging an alliance between the Dominion and Cardassia, and forcibly taking control of Deep Space Nine, overseeing it as part of the station’s Ruling Council. During his tenure, he got some of the best line deliveries in the history of Weyouns, including his cheerful “Time to go!” when Sisko retook the station with a little help from the Prophets.
Ultimately, Weyoun 5 died in a “mysterious transporter accident” thought to be caused by Gul Damar. This might have been the early stirrings of the patriotic fervor that eventually prompted Damar to rise up against the Dominion, or it might’ve just been because he hated the guy. Either way, pour out a glass of kanar for Weyoun 5.
Yelgrun is played by Iggy Pop. Even if that was all there was to say on the matter, he’d probably be fairly entertaining just knowing that he was Iggy Pop underneath the hair and makeup. But Iggy Pop is good, really playing the role in a way that fits perfectly into the universe. Between his banter with Moogie and his negotiations with Quark, it’s safe to say that Iggy Pop was born to play an alien on Star Trek, and it’s nice that he’s got that as a fallback career if the musician thing doesn’t work.
4) Weyoun 7
Weyoun 7 was activated to capture the rogue Weyoun 6, so we had a really confusing “two Popes” scenario going for most of “Treachery, Faith, and the Great River.” In one of his first acts as the new HWIC (Head Weyoun In Charge), #7 tried to kill Odo, something the Founders never would’ve approved of. It’s hard to know whether he actually would’ve done it, but 7 was prone to being, somehow, more of a jerk than a lot of others on the list.
Ultimately, that’s what killed him. Weyoun made the mistake of being a jerk to Ezri Dax while Worf was in neck-snapping range, allowing Worf to finally make good on one of those “I would kill you where you stand” threats he’s always making to people.
Kilana was, for my latinum, one of the most-likeable Vorta ever to appear on DS9. More often than not, Vorta were played by male actors - even when you adjust for how many of them were just different versions of Jeffrey Combs. With the Vorta, everything is by design, and with Kilana’s portrayal in “The Ship,” we got a glimpse into how the Dominion’s design of female Vorta offered something different. Unlike the sort of officious glad-handing common to the Weyouns, Kilana was downright pleasant, with a projected vulnerability and even a bit of flirtatiousness clearly intended to disarm adversaries like Captain Sisko.
When he didn’t fall for her charms, she was clearly disappointed - and when their mutual distrust led to the death of a Founder, she seemed legitimately heartbroken. The back-and-forth between Sisko and Kilana was some of the best verbal jousting we saw on the show, and I wish we’d gotten to see Kilana again — though Kilana’s actress, Kaitlin Hopkins, returned as a fake-Janeway con artist in Voyager’s “Live Fast and Prosper.”
2) Weyoun 6
Weyoun 6, we hardly knew ye. This version of Weyoun only lasted one episode, “Treachery, Faith, and the Great River,” and while by Dominion standards he was a “bad Vorta,” caused by a malfunction somewhere in the cloning process, he was a good person.
Weyoun 6 still believed that the Founders were Gods, but he believed that what they were doing in the Alpha Quadrant, the war they were waging against innocent people, was wrong. Luckily for him, there was another shape-shifter around who wasn’t allied with the Dominion. Switching sides to work for Odo, he accomplished a lot in his short time with the good guys: he told Odo that the Great Link was infected with a wasting disease, he revealed vulnerabilities in Dominion ship design and, when Odo’s life was on the line, he sacrificed himself to save the Constable. Whether caused by a glitch in the cloning process, this Weyoun was a pretty all-right guy, and one of the first times Jeffrey Combs got to play any kind of good guy on Trek, a feat he’d eventually repeat with Shran on Enterprise.
1) Weyoun 4
Weyoun 4 is the first Weyoun we ever encounter on Deep Space Nine, and he contributes even more to the portrayal of Vorta culture than earlier entries like Eris, because Weyoun 4 is the one that introduces one of the key concepts of Weyouns —- that death is not the end for a Vorta, thanks to cloning. This is thanks to Jeffrey Combs, who was so good in the role that they decided they needed a way to bring him back again despite getting fragged by his own Jem’Hadar at the end of the episode. That’s what makes this Weyoun the best Vorta of them all: when he dies, you wish there was a way you could see more of him, so strongly that the show agreed and found a way to make it happen.
Sean Kelly (he/him) is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He occasionally gets depressed that he’ll never know what raktajino tastes like.