As the commanding officer of Deep Space 9, a former Cardassian station that became key to winning the Dominion War, Benjamin Sisko came face to face with a series of villains. There was Kai Winn, a manipulative religious leader who envied Sisko’s connection to the Prophets. There was Weyoun, one of the Dominion’s Vorta, and the Dominion itself. There was even Eddington, a former Starfleet officer who defected to the Maquis and who viewed Sisko as the Javert to his Valjean (he was obsessed with Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables).
But there was one villain who proved especially heinous. Gul Dukat, the former Cardassian prefect of the station when it was called Terok Nor, was a formidable foe. He never forgave the Cardassian government for abandoning its occupation of Bajor, and that rage fueled him as he plotted his revenge.
As Dukat competes against the Borg Queen in this week’s round of the Villain Showdown, here’s everything you need to know about his villainy and story. His exploits span all seven seasons of Deep Space Nine as his path became intertwined with both Sisko’s and the fate of the Federation.
The Evolution of Evil
When we first meet Dukat, he’s bitter that the Cardassian occupation of Bajor has come to an end and that he must relinquish control of his former station to Starfleet. For the first three seasons of Deep Space Nine, he recurs as a nemesis who the crew must outwit, be it due to a scheme to use an orphaned Cardassian to discredit a political rival or when O’Brien accidentally triggers a trap Dukat had set up to destroy the station in the event of a Bajoran uprising.
However, over the course of the series, Dukat proves himself to be a menacing figure. By allying the Cardassians with the Dominion, Dukat places the might of the Cardassian military on the side of one of the most powerful foes the universe has ever known. He and the Dominion succeed in taking back Deep Space 9, though they ultimately are driven back after Starfleet mounts a full offense. Dukat escapes Starfleet imprisonment and decides he will destroy Sisko and Bajor, leading him to becoming a hugely powerful villain in the show’s final seasons.
Dukat, for a very long time, wanted to be Sisko’s respected arch-nemesis. While he ultimately was in a narrative sense, he never earned Sisko’s respect, only his distaste and hatred. Dukat was also obsessed with Kira Nerys, proving to her that he was “compassionate” towards the Bajorans during his time as prefect on Terok Nor. However, Kira spurned his advances, seeing right through his schemes.
Dukat’s biggest rival, though, was Elim Garak. Garak, the station’s resident simple tailor/spy, frequently worked to undermine Dukat whenever he would arrive at the station. Dukat tried to have Garak killed several times; but it never worked and Garak emerged victorious from their rivalry. When Dukat posed as a Bajoran, he entered into a relationship with Kai Winn. However, when the truth about his identity was revealed, she would later go on to betray him in the series finale “What You Leave Behind.”
He’s Not Father of the Year
Dukat was the father of Ziyal, who was half-Bajoran and half-Cardassian. Ziyal firmly believed in her father’s goodness, but when faced with the truth, she rightfully turned her back on him and sided with Kira and her fellow resistance fighters. Unfortunately, Ziyal was killed by Damar when Starfleet re-took Deep Space 9, leading to Dukat having a break from reality and going on a most murderous war path.
Dukat realized that the Bajoran wormhole was the home of the Celestial Temple and the Bajoran Prophets, who had chosen Sisko as their emissary. Determined to destroy them, Dukat entered a pact with a Pah-wraith, an evil spirit that possessed him. As he returned to Deep Space 9 to release the Pah-wraith into the Orb of Contemplation, therefore shutting down the wormhole, he killed Jadzia Dax — one of his most heinous acts.
Ultimately, Sisko was able to defeat Dukat and trap him in a fiery pit with the Pah-wraiths forever; though both he and Sisko plummeted into the pit, Sisko was spared that same fate when the Prophets saved him. Dukat’s ultimate end was fitting for a villain who’d spent so much time causing so much pain across the Trek universe.
Does Dukat have what it takes to defeat the Borg Queen in our Villain Showdown? If he’s your most hated villain, be sure to vote and come back next week to see if he emerges victorious. In the meantime, let us know on social media what your favorite Dukat moment is, and let us know why you think he was a terrifying adversary for the Deep Space Nine crew!
Julian Gardner (they/them) is on the editorial team for StarTrek.com