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The Sword of Kahless (episode)

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For the bat'leth itself, please see Sword of Kahless.

Klingon Dahar Master Kor, Jadzia Dax, and Worf search for the fabled Sword of Kahless on a remote planet in the Gamma Quadrant.


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Dahar master Kor is seated in Quark's, regaling a crowd with the story of the glorious battle between Kor, Kang, and Koloth, and the forces of T'nag. Almost the entire bar is gathered around the old Klingon, except Worf, who huddles uncomfortably at the bar, quietly listening. When Kor finishes, Jadzia Dax notices Worf and invites him to meet her old friend. Worf declines, reminding her that he is considered an outcast by most Klingons, but she insists. Introduced by Jadzia anyway, Kor calls Worf a traitor and a pariah, followed by a long uncomfortable pause – after which he smiles, extends his hand, assures a visibly upset Worf that anyone so disliked at the highest levels of the Klingon Empire is a friend of his.

Worf prepares to accompany Jadzia Dax and Kor, a legendary Klingon warrior, on a mission to recover the Sword of Kahless, the mythical, millennia-old weapon of the Klingon Empire's first leader – an artifact missing for centuries. A Vulcan geological survey team mining bakrinium discovered evidence of the sword's presence without realizing its significance and gifted the Shroud of the Sword to Kor when he was ambassador to Vulcan. When the drunken Kor finally retires to his quarters after first speaking with Worf, he is attacked by a Lethean named Soto, who reads his mind, then erases the incident from Kor's mind.

The next day, Dax finds Kor passed out following the attack and assumes he is merely hung over. She explains that she has verified the authenticity of the Shroud, particularly since it shows evidence of Hur'q DNA. Captain Sisko – hoping to restore Federation/Klingon relations – allows them the use of a runabout for travel to the Gamma Quadrant world where the sword is believed to be located. Upon arrival in a subterranean vault, the three get into a deserted, protected chamber, but find that all the artifacts hidden there have been removed. But Worf, unwilling to give up, discovers another hidden chamber, where they finally find the Sword of Kahless.

When they exit the chamber, they are confronted by several Klingons led by Toral, son of Duras, who hired the Lethean to attack Kor and learn about their plans to recover the Sword. Though outnumbered, Kor, Worf, and Dax brawl their way past Toral's group and escape into the caves. Toral's ship was jamming their communications with the runabout, though, so Dax advises that they try to exit the caves so they can break through the jamming when they reach the surface.

As they trek through the caves, Kor grows increasingly bombastic about plans for the Sword and the Empire when they return. He expresses that it would require a true warrior to unite the Klingon people, not someone like Gowron or even the reborn Emperor Kahless. Later, Worf decides that it is his destiny, not Kor's, to possess the Sword and lead his people. The long journey takes the three of them to an abyss, where Kor slips and loses his footing, but still holds the Sword. Worf saves Kor by grabbing the other end. Straining, he tries to convince Kor to let go and land on a dangerously small ledge, but Kor refuses. Dax helps pull up Kor and holds on to the sword herself as the other two squabble over it. She holds it even as she sleeps.

Dax is awakened by the sound of Worf and Kor, ready to fight to the death. They are interrupted when Toral's party catches up to the trio and begins another battle, which Toral loses again. Then, Worf and Kor turn on each other, and Worf is on the verge of killing Kor when Dax stuns each of them with her phaser. She forces Toral to deactivate the jamming signal, then transports the three of them back to the runabout. Later, on board, Worf and Kor realize that the Sword turned the two of them against each other, and will probably divide the Klingon people as well. They make the decision to jettison the sword into space, leaving it to destiny to decide when it should be revealed to the Klingon people.

Memorable quotesEdit

"You know what I like about Klingon stories, Commander? Nothing. Lots of people die, and nobody makes any profit."

- Quark, to Worf

"Which of us had slain him? No one could say for certain, so we cut out his heart and all three of us feasted on it together!"
"Big heart."

- Kor and Jadzia Dax, poking holes in his story about his, Kang, and Koloth's battle against T'nag

"Kor! I have someone I'd like you to meet."
"I'd like you to meet our strategic operations officer, Commander Worf."
"Ah, Worf the traitor, the pariah, the lowest of the low. (big pause then a grin) It's a pleasure to meet you. Any enemy of Gowron and the High Council is a friend of mine."
"This is a great honor."
"No doubt."
"Worf is a great admirer of yours."
"Yes. Please. (they sit) I have heard stories about you since I was a child. Your confrontation with Kirk on Organia, your attack on Romulus, your defense of the Korama Pass..."
"Everything I have done pales in comparison to what I am about to achieve. I am on a quest. A quest for the most revered icon in Klingon history..."

- Jadzia Dax, Kor and Worf

"Damn that Ferengi and his replicated bloodwine!"

- Kor

"A true warrior has no need to exaggerate his feats."
"You'd better hope that I exaggerate, or else when they start singing songs about this quest and come to your verse, it will be "and Worf came along.""

- Worf and Kor

"The sword will unite us if it's held in the hands of a true Klingon, not a politician like Gowron, or some toothless figurehead like the Emperor. The sword must rest in the hands of someone who has been hardened by battle, pure of heart, who understands loyalty and honor. A warrior like Kang and Koloth."
"Someone like you?"
"The Empire could do far worse."

- Kor and Worf

"Did you see the look on the face of that Klingon that I killed? It was as if he understood the honor bestowed upon him. The first man in a thousand years to be killed by the Sword of Kahless."
"I'm sure he was very proud."

- Kor and Dax

Background informationEdit

Story and scriptEdit



  • Showrunner Ira Steven Behr was pleased with the episode. Behr commented: ""The Sword Kahless" was an interesting show to conceive. I thought it was a good Worf show, with the idea of taking Worf to that place where he crosses the line, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The goal consumes you, so that it wraps your mind up and you can't shake free of it. I thought that was a lot of fun, and I thought that it worked well. I thought the acting was nice – John Colicos was terrific and Michael was wonderful. I think the episode suffered a little bit production wise. Those caves got a little boring and the action scene at the end was okay, but could have been better. Recently, I've been reading a lot of things that said we didn't use Worf enough, but I thought that the shows that we did use Worf in were all interesting shows, and were definitely interesting takes and interesting riffs on that character. By the time we brought Worf into the mix, we had half the season conceptually. Not stories yet, but we knew what we were going to do in these shows and since we had those ideas, you better believe that we were going to do them, since ideas are tough to come by!" ("The Producer's View", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 8)
  • This episode was somewhat unpopular with some viewers when it first aired, something which disappointed writer Hans Beimler and producer René Echevarria. What particularly disappointed them was the fact that many viewers were unable to accept the notion that the bat'leth itself had no actual power. According to Echevarria, "A lot of fan reaction was that there must be a tech explanation, that the sword must be emitting something. I was astonished." Beimler explains Echevarria's astonishment when he says, "the sword itself doesn't have any magic. It's the concept of the sword that has the power. We wanted to explore the notion that there were some dark streaks to be revealed within these characters. The minute anyone starts talking about the sword it starts infecting them, so Worf gets caught up from the very beginning." Both men were disappointed that many fans missed this point, instead assuming that the Sword of Kahless had some mysterious power that simply wasn't revealed in the episode. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • The episode has become more popular in recent years and was voted by fans to be part of the Klingon Fan Collective DVD release.
  • John Colicos greatly enjoyed the episode, commenting: "I absolutely loved it. I thought this was a marvelous kind of tour de force, and I loved all the baiting with Worf – the fight that we had together – all of that was really quite fun to play. I enjoyed that tremendously. Hans Beimler wrote it specifically for me, and he gave me glorious opportunities – in fact he put the word 'glorious' in, too, which seems to have gone down in Klingon history". ("The Sword of Colicos", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 8)
  • Upon the opening of the wormhole, Kor remarks that their quest for the sword, "will be glorious." He says something similar to Kirk towards the end of "Errand of Mercy" regarding the possibility of facing the USS Enterprise captain in war.
  • "The Sword of Kahless" was the second episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to be directed by LeVar Burton after "Indiscretion" and the first to have Michael Dorn in a main role. Burton was pleased with the final episode, commenting: "Great episode. Good Klingon stuff. I think that was the first episode I directed last season that had Michael Dorn in it so it was great to hook up with him again. That was a lot of fun for me. I thought John Colicos was terrific, too. It was also a show that was memorable for me because we spent so much time in the caves on Stage 17. of the seven-or-eight-day schedule, we had about four in the caves, I enjoyed it. I thought that was a good episode". Burton also coined the name "Action Barbie" for Farrell during the filming of the episode. He explained the origin thusly: "Action Barbie – that's my girl. Because she is. She's Action Barbie. She's this incredibly statuesque woman who doesn't mind throwing a kick or punching you in the groin. She's Action Barbie to me". ("Directing The Sword of Kahless", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 8)
  • Terry Farrell commented: "["The Sword of Kahless"] was great because it was the first time I did action for LeVar Burton. He didn't expect me to do well at it. When I did, he called me 'Action Barbie'. So "Sword of Kahless" was my Action Barbie episode, and I've been Action Barbie on the set ever since". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 18)


Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest starsEdit


Uncredited co-starEdit


Alvanian cave sloth; ambassador; Bajoran wormhole; bakrinium; bat'leth; bloodwine; Cardassia; cave-rat; Caves of No'Mat; chant; cleric; clone; Dahar master; Degebian mountain goat; disruptor pistol; d'k tahg; Earth; Emperor's Crown; Federation; Fek'Ihri; Ferengi; field destabilizers; figurehead; First Empire; force field; Gamma Quadrant; Gowron; Great Domes of Qo'noS; Hall of Heroes; heart; House of Duras; Human; Hur'q; Hur'q Central Museum; jamming signal; Kang; Kirk, James T.; Kahless; Kahless the Unforgettable; kilometer; Klingon; Klingon-Cardassian War; Klingon Empire; Klingon High Council; Klingon history; Klingonese; Koloth; Korma Pass; legion; Letheans; Lukara; mek'leth; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; mining; Mogh; Mok'bara; Molor; "Old Man"; Organia; Pakled; phaser; poison; polarity; politician; Qo'noS; Quark's; razor; Right of Vengeance; Rio Grande, USS; Romulus; Rozhenko, Helena; Rozhenko, Sergey; runabout; Sabak; Sabak's armor; Serpent of Xol; Shroud of the Sword; snoring; Starfleet; statue; strategic operations officer; Sword of Kahless; T'nag; tavern; toad; Torch of G'boj; Torna IV; tour guide; tricorder; vat; Vulcan; Vulcan (planet); Yridian brandy

Unreferenced materialEdit

K'Tanco, IKS

External linksEdit

Previous episode:
"Little Green Men"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 4
Next episode:
"Our Man Bashir"

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