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Trials and Tribble-ations (episode)

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Sisko meets Kirk
Series: DS9
Season: 5x06
Original Airdate: 1996-11-04
Production Number: 503
Year: 2373/2268
Stardate: 4523.7
Story by: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Teleplay by: Ronald D. Moore & René Echevarria
Directed by: Jonathan West
Dulmur and Lucsly

A vengeful Klingon spy takes the Defiant back in time to kill Captain James T. Kirk.


Lucsly and Dulmur from Temporal Investigations arrive on DS9 and ask Sisko about a recent temporal incursion in which Sisko took the USS Defiant back in time. He tells them the full story may take some time -- no pun intended -- and begins to recount the events leading to the incursion.

The Cardassian government had expressed a desire to return one of the Bajoran Orbs, so the Defiant went to Cardassia Prime to collect it. Without knowing which orb it was or even if it were genuine, Captain Sisko secured it in crew quarters to be authenticated on Bajor. Before leaving Cardassia Prime, Barry Waddle came aboard -- a human merchant who had been trapped on Cardassia when the Klingons attacked. He was an elderly, seemingly harmless man.

As the story progresses, Sisko's voiceover ends and we are in the present tense.

Halfway back to DS9, Chief O'Brien announces a massive surge in chroniton radiation around the ship as the entire bridge glows brightly. The viewscreen shows nothing but white noise. The ship drops out of warp and decloaks as someone activates the transporter. Sisko orders Lieutenant Commander Dax to get the ship back under cloak as O'Brien repairs the viewscreen.

When the image is restored the crew is shocked to see the original USS Enterprise -- James Kirk's ship -- in orbit of Deep Space Station K-7. They discover that it is stardate 4523.7.

The Defiant crew discovers that Wattle stunned the deputy guarding the Orb and transported off the ship. They learn that his real name is Arne Darvin, and he is a Klingon who was altered to look human. The younger Darvin had been -- or rather, is -- on K-7 posing as a Federation official in order to poison a shipment of quadrotriticale and thus sabotage the Federation's efforts to colonize Sherman's Planet.

The Defiant crew don't know where Darvin went or what he plans to do, so all they can do is search for him -- and do it without being noticed. The crew discard their 24th century Starfleet uniforms and don Kirk-era uniforms -- Sisko in a gold Command uniform wearing Lieutenant's stripes, O'Brien in a red support uniform and Bashir in Medical blue. Dax appears in female uniform appropriate to the era and Odo and Worf arrive dressed as civilian traders.

With a final warning from Sisko to avoid contact with anyone from that time period as much as possible, the crew beams out, with Odo and Worf searching K-7 and Sisko, Dax, O'Brien, and Bashir searching the Enterprise.

Kirk, Spock, Sisko and Dax

Kirk, Spock, Sisko and Dax

Aboard the Enterprise, O'Brien and Bashir learn to use an old-style turbolift. They scan for Darvin using their 23rd century tricorders but have no luck. Dax reminisces about the era while she conducts her scans with equally negative results.

Meanwhile, aboard K-7 Odo learns that Darvin had been on the station not long ago as he ordered a raktajino in the station's mess hall. While he doesn't know where Darvin is now, the waitress tells him Darvin will be back. Odo watches as Cyrano Jones entices Lieutenant Uhura with a tribble, and when Worf arrives shortly thereafter, Odo has acquired a tribble of his own, which infuriates Worf. He explains that the Klingon Empire once sent hundreds of warriors to eradicate tribbles in the 23rd century. Odo sarcastically asks if they still sing songs about the "Great Tribble Hunt."

The Enterprise goes to Red Alert as the IKS Gr'oth, a Klingon D-7 Battlecruiser, approaches the station. Dax immediately recognizes it as Koloth's ship and wants to meet him, as he was an associate of Curzon. She notes how much fun it would be, but Sisko tells her it would be too much fun and orders Bashir and O'Brien over to K-7.

There, they tease Odo and Worf for sitting at the bar while they were crawling through conduits on the Enterprise, but they're interrupted as Pavel Chekov, Montgomery Scott and Freeman enter. O'Brien is convinced that Freeman is James Kirk himself, but a confused Bashir points out that Freeman is actually wearing Lieutenant's stripes.

More importantly, the waitress points out Klingons sitting in either corner of the room; however, these Klingons look nothing like Commander Worf. Bashir and O'Brien speculate about genetic engineering and viral mutations but Worf refuses to discuss it. Meanwhile, a Klingon named Korax talks down Chekov and Scotty, who try to restrain themselves. When Korax claims the Enterprise should be hauled off as garbage, Scotty jumps up and punches him. Everyone in the bar quickly joins the fight, including Bashir, O'Brien, Worf, and Odo.

Kirk Bashir and Obrien

Kirk questions a group of officers that includes Bashir and O'Brien.

Kirk reprimands his crew -- including Bashir and O'Brien -- but releases them. Meanwhile, Odo and Worf have captured Darvin in the midst of the fight on K-7 and have beamed him back to the Defiant. There, he reveals that he plans to kill Kirk with a bomb hidden in a tribble.

Sisko and Dax opt to scan the Enterprise using its internal sensors (meaning they must go to the bridge itself) while everyone else searches K-7, excluding Worf, who like all Klingons is allergic to tribbles. After scanning the ship and finding nothing, Sisko and Dax realize that the explosive tribble must be in the cargo holds on K-7.

They beam over and search frantically through the hold, finding the explosive tribble just in time to have Major Kira beam it into space before it explodes. The Enterprise crew goes about their business, and the Defiant crew uses the Orb of Time to return to the 24th century. Before they go, Sisko brings a duty roster PADD to Kirk for approval as a pretense for meeting the famed captain.

As the story concludes, Sisko's voiceover resumes and we are back in the present tense.

Sisko admits outright that he intentionally violated temporal displacement policy by interacting with Kirk, and he accepts any consequences his actions may carry. However, Dulmer and Lucsly admit there was probably no harm done, conceding that either of them would likely have done the same in Sisko's place. The temporal agents depart quietly, unaware that Deep Space 9 has become infested with tribbles itself.

Memorable Quotes

"Wait a minute, aren't you two in the wrong colors?"

"Don't you know anything about this time period?"

"I'm a doctor, not a historian."

"In the old days, operations officers wore red, command officers wore gold, and--"

(Enters in a mini-skirt.) "Women wore less."

"I think I'm beginning to like history..."

- Bashir, O'Brien, Sisko, Dax

"I had no idea."


"He's so much more handsome in person. Those eyes!"

"Kirk had quite the reputation as a ladies' man."

"Not him. Spock."

- Dax, Sisko

"Do they still sing songs about the Great Tribble Hunt?"

- Odo on the Klingon "battle" against the tribbles

"We do not discuss it with outsiders."

- Worf, when the lack of cranial ridges on Kirk-era Klingons is noted.

"I lied to Captain Kirk! I wish Keiko had been there to see it."

- O'Brien, to Bashir, after O'Brien told Kirk he didn't know who started the fight.

"Didn't you take elementary temporal mechanics at the Academy? I may be destined to fall in love with that woman and become my own great-grandfather."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"Ridiculous? If I don't meet with her tomorrow, I may never exist!"

- Bashir, O'Brien

Background Information

Conceiving the Episode

  • This episode was broadcast the year of Star Trek's 30th anniversary and was written as a tribute to the original series.
  • An earlier idea for the 30th anniversary episode, conceived by writer Ronald D. Moore, was to revisit Sigma Iotia II, from the episode "A Piece of the Action," where we would discover imitators of Kirk and Spock, as a social commentary on the Trekkie phenomenon.
  • However, fellow writer Rene Echevarria wanted to revisit a classic episode using original footage. This was made possible by recent technological innovations such as those used in the movie Forrest Gump.
  • When the writers sat down to decide which episode to use, there was little question that "The Trouble with Tribbles" was the most famous Trek episode, as well as an excellent choice in that it was relatively lighthearted compared to other well-known episodes such as "The City on the Edge of Forever."
  • In what Ira Steven Behr describes as the most massive coincidence he has experienced, Behr and the other producers were at a pizza parlor in Beverley Hills discussing the possibility of bringing original TOS actors back for this episode when he recognized Charlie Brill (Arne Darvin). Although Behr was hesitant to discuss the matter directly with Brill due to the complications that normally entail Hollywood negotiations, Brill was greatly honored to be given a chance to make history twice and felt that Gene Roddenberry would be proud. Behr later joked that the remarkable turn of events proved God was a DS9 fan.

Merging the Past and Present

  • The writers were initially skeptical about whether creating an episode such as this with the relatively limited budget of a television series would be possible. However, when the visual effects team showed them a clip from "The Trouble with Tribbles," they were unable to tell that an extra person had been added to the scene because the blending was so seamless.
  • Contrary to the normal technique of "bluescreen" or "greenscreen" shooting, in which the new footage is shot with a blue or green background in order to allow the computer to easily place the characters into another piece of footage, the scene in which Dax and Sisko are working behind Kirk and Spock was shot with an actual set background. This was due to the fact that there was no panel for Sisko and Dax to pretend to repair in the original footage.
  • Creating the footage for scenes such as the fight with the Klingons took almost a full week to shoot due to the number of components involved and the complexity of staging and other minor details. Normal bluescreen/greenscreen shooting time is half a day.
  • Everything from the TOS sets was created faithfully right down to the blinking lights on the bridge, which the crew recreated by freeze-framining and painstakingly examining the TOS footage.
  • The original Enterprise, now in the Smithsonian museum exhibit, had been refurbished and altered slightly over the years. Knowing that fans would inspect every minor detail of this episode for consistency, the staff consulted sketches made for the original series and had a special set of plans made for the new model's construction. They even inspected it with a magnifying glass to ensure that everything was perfect.
  • The original model of space station K-7 had been lost by the time this episode was made. The recreation used in this episode was created as faithfully as possible by simply watching the episode as any fan might.
  • The clip featuring Sisko meeting Kirk was juxtaposed from "Mirror, Mirror" instead of "The Trouble with Tribbles."


  • Due to the complexities of recreating TOS sets, Herman Zimmerman nearly made a set that would have looked three-fourths the size it should have when seen through the lens of a camera.
  • Ironically, it was easier in many cases for the DS9 actors to interact with stock footage than real people, due to the fact that they could watch the existing footage and observe exactly what the other person would be doing in the scene.
  • Jadzia Dax's enthusiasm about the 23rd century and her desire to revisit old friends was the writers' avenue by which to convey their own enthusiasm about writing the episode. It was also intended to represent the way fans of TOS would feel when watching the fusion of past and present Trek series.
  • When Dax and Benjamin Sisko enter the corridor aboard the Enterprise, the reactions from the actors are genuine, as they had not been on the set prior to that shot and were truly amazed by how faithfully the set recreated the look and feel of TOS.
  • The hostile opinion Klingons have toward tribbles and Worf's story about their eradication is a metaphor for the hunting of rabbits and similar animals due to the threat they once posed to farmers' crops.
  • The scene in which Dax is on the bridge of the Enterprise took twelve takes because of the complexity involved in the timing of the scene.
  • Some of the buttons in the original footage had in fact been jelly beans.
  • Quark appeared in this episode, but had no spoken lines.
  • George Takei (Hikaru Sulu) does not appear, this was, however, remedied by his appearance in Star Trek: Voyager's 30th Anniversary episode "Flashback".
  • The names of the temporal investigators, Dulmer and Lucsly, are anagrams of "Mulder" and "Scully", the paranormal investigators of The X-Files.
  • The term "D-7", in reference to the original Klingon battle cruiser, started out as an inside joke between Shatner and Nimoy. It eventually became a reference to this style of battleship, but it wasn't "official" until this episode.
The Klingon question

Worf faces "the big question"

  • The difference in appearance of TOS and TNG/DS9/VOY Klingons, first recognized as canon here, would later be addressed in the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence." There was a conscious effort to keep Worf at a distance from TOS-era Klingons due to the obvious make-up differences. Ronald Moore wrote Worf's explanation (or lack thereof) into the script because he felt that there was "not a single explanation that's less than preposterous" for the make-up differences and he believed that fans could figure out why the Klingons looked so different. Bashir and O'Brien's dialogue concerning the issue had them suggesting reasons, "genetic engineering" or "viral mutation", that had long been proposed by fans as the reasons for the differences. When the "Enterprise" episodes were filmed, the final canon explanation for the difference combined both their suppositions.
  • This episode is summarized in the novel Trials and Tribble-ations.
  • It's not surprising that O'Brien believes that Ensign Freeman is Captain Kirk: Paul Baxley was a regular stunt double for William Shatner in the original series!
  • This episode also contains the first reference to the new Sovereign class USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-E). After Sisko mentions the Defiant was in front of the Enterprise, Dulmer tells him to be more specific, as there had been five. Lucsly corrects him and says there had been six.
  • This is the first appearance of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) since its destruction in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
  • When Dulmer references the date of the original incident and Lucsly adds that it was a Friday, it is a reference to the fact that "The Trouble with Tribbles" originally aired on a Friday.
  • According to Dulmar and Lucsly, this episode takes place "a hundred and five years, one month, and twelve days" after the events of "The Trouble with Tribbles".

Links and References

Main Cast

Guest Stars

Cast of "The Trouble with Tribbles"


alternate timeline; Antarean glow water (Antares system); auxiliary communications juncture; Bajor; Bajorans; Cardassia Prime; Cardassians; Cestus III; chicken sandwich; chroniton radiation; cloaking device; coffee; command division; Constitution-class; D7 class; Dax, Curzon; Dax, Emony; Deep Space K-7; Denebian slime devil (Denebian); Department of Temporal Investigations; Defiant, USS; duotronic sensor system (duotronics); Elementary Temporal Mechanics; ensign; Enterprise, USS; Enterprise-E, USS; fish juice; food processor; Gorn; Gr'oth, IKS; Hall of Warriors; internal sensors; Koloth; Klingons; Klingon augment virus; Klingon battle cruiser; Klingon Empire; Klingon Intelligence; Klingon Imperial Fleet; kevas; Lexington, USS; lieutenant; lilac; medical tricorder; Nash, USS; navigational computer; operations division; O'Brien, Keiko; Ol' Miss; Orb of Prophecy; Orb of Time; Orb of Wisdom; predestination paradox; quadrotriticale; raktajino; red alert; shore leave; Spican flame gem (Spica); Tarkalean tea (Tarkalean); temporal violation; time loop; transporter; transtator; tri-cobalt device; tricorder; trident scanner; Trills; trillium; tribbles.

Previous episode:
The Assignment
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 5
Next episode:
Let He Who Is Without Sin...
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