Of all the Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine was undeniably the darkest. While light moments were woven in throughout the show’s run, the levity that The Next Generation and Voyager exhibited was forgone in favor of a realistically depressing view of the devastation of war. The comic relief of DS9's Quark the bartender is generally thought of as the one who brought some semblance of normalcy to the station in especially challenging times.. However, the true bringer of balance was Morn, Quark’s ever-present barfly.
Morn (whose name is an anagram for Norm - Cheers, anyone?) never spoke a single word in DS9. His off-putting appearance is juxtaposed with his consistent luck with the ladies. On several occasions he can be seen flirting with two or even three Dabo girls at a time, but because he doesn’t speak, the “flirting” is mostly arm touching. In the season six episode “Who Mourns for Morn?” (another callback, this time to The Original Series episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?”), Jadzia Dax even admits to once having a crush on Morn, although she claims he wasn’t interested.
This flirtatious persona was bolstered by his reputation for being a Chatty Cathy. Quark is most often heard complaining about Morn’s propensity for talking: “It’s a relief not to have to listen to him go on. You know Morn - he never shuts up” (“Who Mourns for Morn?”). Morn is rarely seen outside of Quark’s; he even has a designated stool at the end of the bar that Quark vows to always keep filled after Morn’s alleged death in “Who Mourns for Morn?”.
While he may not be the most deep or layered character in the show, Morn’s existence is an absolute treasure and necessity. The multi-season arc of the Dominion War casts an omnipresent cloud of doom and gloom over the station and its tenants. The sun occasionally breaks through in happy moments (i.e., “You are Cordially Invited”) but ultimately, those are fleeting. Whatever reprieve the crew gets from the gruesome, day in, day out fighting doesn’t last for long. That’s where Morn comes in. Whether there’s been an attack on the station one day or trade negotiations fall through the next, Captain Sisko and his crew can walk into Quark’s and have the comforting familiarity of Morn greeting them with a simple wave or eyebrow-raise. This consistency is a psychologically proven way to feel some measure of control and consolation during a turbulent time.
The premise of Voyager was dark as well, and in time Captain Janeway recruited Delta Quadrant-native Neelix to act as an official morale officer. Neelix’s zany antics and well-intentioned goofs always gave the crew of Voyager a good laugh, even while navigating a dangerous part of the galaxy 70,000 lightyears away from home. In a sense, Morn was DS9’s Neelix.
The two characters couldn’t be more different. Neelix was a blabbermouth (and a consistent one at that), while Morn never said a word. The thing is, Morn didn’t need to speak. His silence spoke for itself - the solace one felt in his presence was enough.
“Who Mourns for Morn” shows us that every member of the crew of DS9 was greatly impacted by Morn’s “death,” not just the ones that have had previously shown encounters with the Lurian courier. Death is rife on the station during the last few seasons as the casualty reports flood in each week, but the loss of everyone’s favorite smooth-talker was felt more deeply than perhaps one might have thought.
As the crew walks across the promenade to Morn’s memorial service, we see Chief O’Brien and Dr. Bashir discuss Lurian memorial customs, and Worf mentions to Jadzia how much he’ll miss their weekly holosuite sparring practice. Even Odo, the station grump (at this point, anyway), brings a bottle opener for Morn to have in the afterlife. Although it isn’t explicitly mentioned, I’d bet a hefty container of gold-pressed latinum that everyone was more than relieved to have Morn back in the bar, yakking it up with Quark and his usual entourage of Dabo girls.
Emma Trevino (she/her) is studying English at the University of New Mexico and is set to graduate next May. She can be contacted on Twitter @itsemmatr