Armin Shimerman 'Begged' Star Trek's Writers To Make Up Their Minds About Quark's IQ

The "Star Trek" shows from the Paramount+ era clearly have a lot of affection for the original 1966 "Star Trek" pilot and the 1990s Trek shows "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Voyager." Of the newer programs, both "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" rely heavily on characters and events from "The Cage." Meanwhile, "Star Trek: Lower Decks" seems to be drawing from the attitudes and iconography from NextGen. "Star Trek: Picard" is, obviously, about Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), but also "Voyager" character Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). And "Star Trek: Prodigy" features a hologram of the U.S.S. Voyager's Capt. Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) as one of its central characters. 

Curiously, there haven't been many overt references devoted to events and characters from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (which ran for seven seasons, from 1993 to 1999). To date, there have been a few cute winks to DS9 in "Lower Decks," and an episode of "Picard" saw a brief shot of a bar named Quark's, but apart from these minor, passing references, "Deep Space Nine" seems to remain the black sheep of the "Trek" family. 

This does not stem from a lack of desire from certain members of the cast. Armin Shimerman, who played DS9's shrewd bar owner and freelance criminal element Quark, has said that he would love to return to the franchise ... but only if the paycheck was right

Shimerman, appearing at the 2022 Fanboy Expo in Knoxville, Tennessee (and transcribed via Trek Movie), talked about wanting to return as Quark, but also the nature of his character. Shimerman revealed that DS9's writers played a little too fast and loose with Quark, leading to Shimerman's constant questions as to how smart Quark really was. 

How smart is Quark?

To offer a brief rundown: Quark is a Ferengi business owner on the Bajoran space station Deep Space Nine. He ran the bar when Bajor was still being occupied by the Nazi-like Cardassians, and now has adjusted to selling drinks to the Bajorans and Starfleet officers who run the station during Bajor's reconstruction. Ferengi are a species devoted to commerce and profit. Everything they say and do is in service of making more money. Even their belief systems are built around the acquisition of wealth; a Ferengi can't enter the afterlife until they've paid enough money for a prime ticket. Quark is staunchly devoted to this philosophy. Although Quark's values may not match those of humans, he is still deeply principled, and will stand up for his business and his right to earn more and more money ... even if it's not entirely legal. 

That said, Ferengi were also often the "comic relief" of "Deep Space Nine," and were the stars of the show's few comedy episodes. Because Quark's values so differed from the Starfleet characters, the show's writers were constantly tempted to give him comedy lines about amusingly exploiting his workers while pooh-poohing Gene Roddenberry's post-capitalist sci-fi utopia. The push-and-pull of Quark is that he is a smart businessman, but also something of a buffoon, a dichotomy Shimerman did not appreciate, as he said in Knoxville:

"We could not change lines. We could make suggestions, which were rarely followed. I know that three times a year I would take the writers out to lunch and make some suggestions. I remember begging them many times, 'Just tell me what his IQ is. Just tell me because sometimes he's smart and sometimes he's not. Just tell me what his IQ is.'"

The trouble with Ferengi

Shimerman might be considered one of few "Trek" actors who was able to inform an entire alien species. Just as Leonard Nimoy defined Vulcans with Spock, Shimerman has largely determined the attitudes and behaviors of Ferengi through various characters. 

In the first season of "Next Generation," a lot of dialogue was devoted to a strange, off-screen species called the Ferengi that Starfleet, at the time, knew very little about. It was clear the writers were setting up the Ferengi to be the central villains of the new series. The Ferengi would appear on screen for the first time in the episode "The Last Outpost" (October 19, 1987) and would be transformed into sniveling, cowardly, comedic villains. Shimerman played one of the first Ferengi, Letek, and attempted (as he said in Knoxville) to hunch his character over like Richard III. The result didn't quite work, and the Ferengi looked silly. 

After that, it was an uphill battle to give the Ferengi a personality beyond that initial portrayal. When Shimerman was cast as Quark, he was given an opportunity to "redeem" an entire Trek species. On DS9, the Ferengi were still comedic, but they emerged slowly as real people as well. More human than humans, in fact. Shimerman said: 

"You may not agree with me, but the Ferengi were the most human of creatures on 'Star Trek.' You might not like the Ferengi, but a lot of the characteristics that the Ferengi had are very much human characters. And so I was very was happy to do that."

Shimerman's comments certainly make curious Trekkies wish Paramount+ would prepare a big enough paycheck, just so we can see where Quark is some 20 years on. No doubt, his principles are still intact.