(written from a Production point of view)
In this final adventure, the Federation Alliance prepares a final invasion of Cardassia. Meanwhile on Bajor, Kai Winn releases the Pah-wraiths from the Fire Caves which threatens the safety of not only Bajor, but the entire Alpha Quadrant. (Part 9 of 9, Series Finale)
In his quarters, Julian Bashir and Ezri Dax wake up, having slept together for the first time the night before. The two are enjoying their new relationship. However, Julian worries that, now that they're together, something might happen to them, for the couple are due to set off that day for the long-awaited invasion of Cardassia. Ezri makes a pact for the two of them; they're both coming back alive.
Miles and Keiko O'Brien continue to raise their two children, Molly and Kirayoshi. They are a family excited to be returning to Earth after the end of the Dominion War, so that Miles can teach at Starfleet Academy. Miles just hasn't yet found the time to inform his best buddy, Julian, nor has he had the time to give him the model of the battle of the Alamo. Miles promises Keiko he'll tell Julian about his departure when he thinks he's ready to hear it, but it's clear he's not looking forward to breaking the news.
In the Sisko quarters, Benjamin comforts a pregnant Kasidy, who is experiencing morning sickness. Jake drops by to walk his father to the new USS Defiant, formerly the USS Sao Paulo, on what everyone hopes to be the final mission of the war.
Odo and Worf walk to the Defiant from the Promenade. They both hope to find Kira alive and well when they reach Cardassia Prime. Kira, meanwhile, is still hiding in Mila's basement with Damar and Garak, planning the Cardassian Rebellion.Arriving on the bridge, Sisko asks the crew if they are ready to end the war. He orders Nog to set course for Cardassia. The Federation Alliance fleet, comprising numerous Starfleet, Klingon and Romulan starships, departs Deep Space 9 on a course that will bring about the final battle of the war.
At Dominion Headquarters on Cardassia, Weyoun notes the Alliance's advance on their territory. They will pass the border in the morning. The Female Changeling is then talking with Thot Pran of the Breen, promising both Romulus and Earth as his reward if they win the war. While Pran takes his leave, Weyoun reminds the Founder that she had previously stated that he would have control of all Federation territories, including Earth. She responds that she would promise the Breen the entire Alpha Quadrant if it meant winning the war. Just then, Legate Broca reports that Damar is still alive, and he is in the capital city.
Damar and Garak are stopped on the streets of the Cardassian capital by two Jem'Hadar soldiers. They recognize Damar, who Garak claims is his cousin. The Jem'Hadar silence him, telling them Damar will be taken in for questioning, while Garak will be killed on the spot. Suddenly, a Breen arrives, who the Jem'Hadar can't understand and who kills them on the spot. It is actually Kira, disguised as a Breen. They safely continue on their way to the resistance meeting, where they plan the following day's course of action: sabotaging Cardassian power plants and communications, thereby cutting off the Dominion fleet from headquarters.
On the bridge of the Defiant, the crew engages in small talk. Worf accepts Julian as Dax's new lover, even bantering with her about it. O'Brien finds it difficult to tell Julian that he has accepted the teaching position on Earth. While talking to Odo about Kira, whom they haven't heard from, Sisko has another vision from the prophet appearing as Sarah, his mother. She tells the Emissary that his task is nearing completion, and that, cryptically, his journey's end lies not before him, but behind him.
On Bajor, Dukat (still appearing as a Bajoran) enters the quarters of Kai Winn Adami, having regained his vision through the "forgiveness" of the Pah-wraiths. The Kai has learned the secrets of the Book of the Kosst Amojan, and claims to have been waiting for Dukat. Together, they embark to the depths of the Fire Caves to release the Pah-wraiths, who they hope will gain control of the Celestial Temple and destroy the Prophets – and their Emissary, Winn adds. Dukat announces that Sisko's fate will be left to him. Winn points out that Sisko may not survive the invasion of Cardassia. Dukat isn't worried, he's certain that Sisko will survive... and looks forward to dealing with him afterwards.
Quark, meanwhile, is passing time by playing "Go Fish" with Vic Fontaine in the holosuite wishing he was playing Tongo instead, but unfortunately, the game is not included in Vic's program, as it is period specific. Quark's is experiencing a noticeable lull in business in light of the heightened war effort. Quark can't help but worry about Nog and the others. He complains to Vic that people pass through his bar looking for a good time, never bothering to notice that he doesn't have a good time; he's too busy making sure everyone else does. Vic tells Quark that the life of a bartender is a lonely one. But, alas, even Vic has better plans than Quark – he departs with a beautiful date to see Jimmy Durante and Peter Lawford at the Sands. Quark reminds Vic that a bartender's life is a lonely one, but Vic retorts that he isn't a bartender.
As the Female Changeling orders the Breen to fight side-by-side with the Jem'Hadar, Weyoun notices that the Dominion lines are spread too thin at their center and proceeds to order more ships to reinforce it. Before he can send the order, all power is suddenly lost in the building. As emergency power comes on, Broca announces that the power disruption was due to an act of sabotage by civilians. The Founder grabs him by the throat, suspending him in mid-air, furious that the general population is rebelling. Broca, gasping for air, assures her it is an isolated uprising, and agrees that the civilians be severely punished for acts of resistance. Their long-range communications (and ability to communicate with their fleet) are still not working.
When power is restored to the Capitol about half an hour later, Weyoun broadcasts a message announcing the complete destruction of Lakarian City, home to two million Cardassian citizens, in retaliation for the acts of sabotage. After watching the broadcast, Garak's anger towards the Dominion is intensified. Damar laments not killing Weyoun when he had the chance. Kira assures him that he will get another chance if they attack Dominion Headquarters. Doing so could potentially end the war completely without an unnecessary bloodbath. Although Damar had spent nearly two years living in the building, he says there is no way to sneak in because his security codes are no longer valid. They will need to force their way in, and Garak prepares by setting up explosives.
The Dominion has fallen back to the Cardassian system in the Alpha Quadrant at this late stage of the war. Sisko, along with the entire Starfleet attack force, engages the Dominion Jem'Hadar fighters and Breen vessels there. The Breen ships in particular are highly maneuverable, and even the Defiant has a difficult time hitting one of them. As the dogfights ensue, several Jem'Hadar fighters appear to ram Klingon Bird-of-Prey ships in apparent suicide runs.
At Mila's house, a squad of Jem'Hadar and Cardassian soldiers knocks on her door as Kira, Garak, and Damar hide in the basement. Suddenly, Mila's corpse is dumped down the stairs to the basement, and the Jem'Hadar also throw down a stun grenade, easily subduing the trio.
The Defiant is in the thick of the battle, charging into enemy lines. Miles suffers a shoulder wound from exploding bridge debris and, during the heat of the battle, finally gets up the nerve to tell Julian that he and his family are leaving Deep Space 9 for Earth; Miles has accepted a position teaching engineering at Starfleet Academy. Ross orders Sisko to take the Defiant to help bolster the Romulan line; the Romulans have just lost their flagship.
Back on Cardassia Prime, Dominion headquarters still cannot communicate with their fleet; they have no idea how the battle is going for either side. Then, Broca comes to tell that Damar, Garak, and Kira are captured. The Female Changeling orders Damar's immediate execution.
Before the Jem'Hadar can execute Damar, Kira, and Garak, the Cardassian soldiers accompanying them kill the Jem'Hadar first in retaliation for Lakarian City. They declare allegiance to Damar.
In the midst of battle, the Defiant is taking heavy fire. As a Breen warship pelts her with torpedoes, it is suddenly destroyed by a Cardassian ship as the entire military turn on the Dominion for the destruction of Lakarian City, and begin attacking the Breen and Jem'Hadar. Sisko rallies the Allied forces for an attack on the Dominion's center. When communications between planet-side headquarters and the Dominion fleet are brought back online and Weyoun learns of the Cardassians' switching sides, the Female Changeling orders all of their forces to fall back to Cardassia Prime. Legate Broca offers to talk to the rebels, but he is taken away by Jem'Hadar to be executed. The Founder then orders the extermination of the entire Cardassian population.
Meanwhile, the Jem'Hadar and Breen ships quickly turn around and retreat to Cardassia Prime. Sisko speaks with Martok and Admiral Ross, who are elated that the Cardassians have joined them. When Admiral Ross states that now that the Dominion has been driven to Cardassia Prime, they can be held indefinitely. Sisko and Martok remind him that the enemy still has an impressive ability at shipbuilding. In addition, the Cardassian forces are now compensating for the third of the fleet lost. They all agree they should continue onwards, until the Dominion has been thoroughly defeated.
Back on Bajor, Dukat and the Kai have reached their final destination in the Fire Caves. As the Kai begins reading from the sacred text of the Kosst Amojan, the vast underground cavern springs to life, engulfed with billows of red flame.
As the resistance begins planning their strategy for entering Dominion headquarters, Garak enters to report that the capital city is being destroyed building by building, meaning they all need to make a quick escape. Garak mourns for Mila, a part of his life since he was a child growing up, and notes that he dreamed for years of returning home and even considered living in the house with her again. But now Mila is dead, the house is about to be destroyed and the Cardassia he knew is gone. When Kira tells Garak he can fight for a new Cardassia, he decides his new motivation for destroying the Dominion is revenge. Kira notes to herself that revenge is also a good reason to fight.
Adami discards her Kai vestment, throwing it into the raging fire pit before them. She continues reading from the sacred text, invoking the spirit of the Pah-wraiths.
On the Defiant, the crew regroups as reports come in that the Dominion is retaliating against the Cardassian people.
Damar's resistance reaches Dominion Headquarters, and find the entrance protected by a neutronium door. There is no way to blast through, even with the explosives Garak prepared. To everyone's astonishment, Garak begins laughing. When Damar asks why, Garak asks him to consider the irony: their heroic charge into the "lair of the beast" is being thwarted by a locked door. Soon Kira, Damar, Ekoor, and the whole rebel party collapse with laughter.
The Female Changeling is trying to keep the Breen in the fold. Then she collapses knowing she is going to die soon. She reveals to Weyoun she hasn't been able to change shape in weeks and the irony at the fact she is going to die as a solid.
Damar suggests pretending to give himself up, but Kira warns him he'll be shot on sight. But the door opens from within. A pair of Jem'Hadar drag Legate Broca and two other Cardassians outside and execute them with bayonets, then dumping their bodies. The Cardassians leap upon the opportunity and kill the executioners before engaging in a fire fight with several other Jem'Hadar. While the resistance succeeds in breaking into the compound, Damar is fatally wounded and dies in Garak's arms, simply saying "Keep...". Kira takes command, and reminds the Cardassians of Damar's orders that they don't stop until they capture the Female Changeling.
Inside, Weyoun is alerted to the security breach and admits to the Changeling that there are only a few Jem'Hadar guards in the building as most of them are assisting in the Cardassian extermination. He sends the few he has to guard the door, despite knowing they'll likely fail.
The Federation Alliance has driven the Dominion all the way back to Cardassia Prime. The Dominion is cornered and the Alliance prepares to move in for the kill. Admiral Ross proposes a three-pronged attack: the Romulans and Cardassians will attack the Jem'Hadar; Chancellor Martok will lead the Klingons against the Breen; and the Federation will knock out the orbital weapon platforms. Ross predicts that casualties will be about 40%, and Martok expects that number to rise with their ground assault.
The rebel strike team breaks into the heart of Dominion headquarters, capturing Weyoun and the Female Changeling. Only three rebels survive the attack: Kira, Garak, and Ekoor. With a sneer, Weyoun asks where Damar is, knowing full well that he must already be dead. Garak shoots Weyoun down for gloating over the terrible destruction wreaked on Cardassia. The Founder mourns as Garak had just killed the last Weyoun, which more than pleases Garak.
Kira tells the Founder that the Dominion has lost the war, but the Founder refuses to surrender, promising a fight to the bitter end. With the Breen and Jem'Hadar fighting to the last man, she promises, the Allies will lose so many ships and so many lives that their victory will taste as bitter as defeat. This way, they will never threaten the Gamma Quadrant.
On the Defiant bridge, Sisko, Odo, and Worf are speaking to Kira. She tells them the founder is deteriorating. Sisko says she has to stay alive in order to order the retreat of the Jem'Hadar. Odo offers to beam down and speak to the founder.
In the Fire Caves, Winn pours a toast, offering it to Dukat. He drinks from the cup; however, he soon bends over in pain. The ex-Kai says she is offering him as a sacrifice for the Pah-wraiths; who better than Dukat? Dukat sprawls and dies. She then proceeds to awaken the Wraiths.
At Cardassia Prime, Odo beams down to talk with the captured Founder. He asks her to stand down her forces yet she retorts that she still believes that the Federation Alliance would invade the Gamma Quadrant. While acknowledging the Federation having its own flaws (such as Section 31's plan for the Founders' genocide), Odo assures her that the Federation wouldn't sanction such an invasion, nor would it allow the Klingons or Romulans to do so. He suggests he can cure her and they link, against the better judgment of Garak. After joining briefly for only about ten seconds, the Female Changeling is cured; she can assume her normal, smooth-featured shape. She had also communicated to Odo, during their link, that she will order the surrender of all Jem'Hadar and Breen; moreover, she will stand trial for her actions in the Alpha Quadrant. With the Female Changeling facing years (possibly a lifetime) of incarceration, Odo vows to be the one who delivers the cure to the Great Link, and tells Kira that he will be rejoining the Great Link for good.
On the battered surface of Cardassia Prime, a new dawn rises over the now-shattered capital city. Martok lustily drinks his bloodwine in victory, but Sisko and Ross, disturbed by the carnage they see, refuse to celebrate. Martok reminds them that many Bajorans would call this poetic justice, but Sisko is unmoved and tells him he won't share a toast over the bodies of innocent victims. He and Admiral Ross pour out their bloodwine and leave, and Martok notes to himself (in Klingon) that he'll never truly understand humans.
At Dominion headquarters, Garak and Bashir are reviewing the casualty reports from the attempted genocide of the Cardassians: eight hundred million, and still climbing. Bashir searches for words to console his friend, but Garak breezily tells Bashir not to bother; after all, many would say that Cardassia has gotten exactly what it deserves, and they would be right – not only for Dukat's role in bringing the Dominion, and thus the war, to the Alpha Quadrant, but for a whole history of conquest and atrocities on other worlds, of which Bajor is only one. Garak tells Bashir he will be staying on Cardassia and thanks him for his friendship over the years, admitting he'll miss their lunchtime chats. Bashir says he hopes they will see each other again. Garak, ever cynical, says he hopes so too, but wouldn't count on it.
Aboard DS9, the Female Changeling signs the formal instrument of surrender, officially ending hostilities between the Dominion and Federation Alliance.
After the ceremony, Martok and Ross offer Worf the Federation ambassadorship to the Klingon Empire. Worf tells Captain Sisko that his loyalty is to him first and Sisko states that, although he will hate losing Worf on DS9, it's his choice. Worf tells Sisko that it was an honor to serve alongside him (a compliment Sisko returns) and accepts the new posting. Martok is very happy at this, grateful to have an ambassador he can go Targ hunting with on Qo'noS.
Kira, who doesn't want to lose the love of her life, asks Odo to return after curing the Founders. He explains how painful it will be for him to leave her, but that the only way for the Founders to learn to trust solids will be for him to remain in the Link. So instead, Kira requests she be the one to take him to his homeworld; he gratefully agrees.
The crew mingle in Vic's lounge for celebration and farewells. Among the groups, Jake is asking Miles if they already found a place to live to which Miles responds they have some locations in sight. He receives much help from the present staff, with Worf even suggesting Minsk. Quark, who is getting to be a regular at Vic's, encourages everyone to stay put, citing his distaste for change. Sisko tells Quark to get used to it, as things are going to be very different from now on. As everyone gives the moment pause, Captain Sisko lifts his glass in a toast:
"To the best crew any captain ever had. This may be the last time we're all together. But no matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel, a part of us... a very important part, will always remain here, on Deep Space 9."
Vic sings "The Way You Look Tonight" to the assembled crew, who came aboard Deep Space 9 distanced, suspicious and sometimes hostile towards each other, yet despite all this grew into close colleagues and friends.
On Bajor, Dukat is resurrected by the Pah-wraiths and regains his Cardassian visage, his eyes glowing red with their power.
On DS9, as the couples take to the dance floor, Benjamin suddenly has a strong sensation. As the Emissary, he now understands what his task is. Benjamin excuses himself abruptly from the party and heads to a runabout pad.
Dukat taunts Winn, saying she wasn't good enough to be the Pah-wraiths' emissary. He reveals to her that the Pah-wraiths plan to spread across and destroy Bajor, the Celestial Temple, the Alpha Quadrant and even the entire galaxy. He then nonchalantly notes that Sisko has arrived. Sisko raises his phaser rifle at Dukat but the Pah-wraiths' power is strong, and with a flick of his wrist Dukat causes Sisko to drop the weapon and fall flat to the ground. He recovers and punches Dukat, to no avail. Dukat, controlling Sisko's movements, causes him to bow in front of him. Sisko fights against Dukat's power, telling him that just like when he allied Cardassia with the Dominion he has joined forces with the losing side while promising to stop both him and the Pah-wraiths from destroying Bajor and the Alpha Quadrant.
Winn grabs the Book of the Kosst Amojan, intending to cast it into the fire pit, but it suddenly appears in Dukat's hands. Dukat summons the fire, which engulfs Winn Adami, vaporizing her, but not before she yells to Sisko to focus on the book. With Dukat concentrating on Winn and her death, he is momentarily distracted from Sisko, who breaks free of Dukat's hold and lunges at him, propelling both men (and the Kosst Amojan) over the cliff, into the fire pit.
As they tumble through the flames, Dukat and the book disintegrate, but Sisko suddenly materializes in the Celestial Temple. The prophet disguised as Sisko's mother Sarah gives him both good news and bad. The good news is that the Emissary succeeded in his mission by returning the Pah-wraiths to the Fire Caves, and by destroying the book he had trapped both them and Dukat inside a prison that can never be escaped; the bad news is that he must remain indefinitely in the Celestial Temple as his work there is only just beginning.
On DS9, the others explain to Kasidy that they found Sisko's runabout but there was no sign of him. Just then, the Emissary comes to Kasidy in a vision. Relieved to see her beloved husband, she embraces and kisses him one last time. He informs her that he will not be coming back, and Kasidy now realizes the "sorrow" predicted by the prophets. Now speaking in non-linear riddles himself, he solemnly declares his role as Emissary, speaking of destiny, of having a great deal of things to do and learn. However, he promises Kasidy that he will return "in a year, or maybe... yesterday". They say their goodbyes, and then suddenly Kasidy is back on DS9, telling Jake she has spoken to his father.
The time has come to finally part ways. As O'Brien and family leave their quarters for the last time, Miles finds a plastic soldier on the floor, and this allows him to quickly reminisce of his adventures with Bashir. Worf looks back at the changes he experienced: a new post, intrigue, love, and even political upheaval, but is still able to look forward as he joins his friend, brother, comrade, and leader Martok on a ship bound for Qo'noS and his new mission. Odo gives Kira his old bucket as the two think about how after many years of friendship the two found true love in each other. Quark can't help but think back on the wild goings-on at his bar and the myriad adventures that took place in his holosuites over the years. Jake closes the model of the house on Bajor his father will now never build, as he remembers the fond times the two had together over the years.
Odo tries to depart the station quietly in the runabout, without having to say goodbye to anyone. Quark, knowing that Odo would try and avoid any kind of goodbye, confronts him in the corridor asking for some kind of farewell, but Odo refuses. Regardless, Quark raises a toast to him and still believes that Odo "loves" him. O'Brien and Bashir part company with a big hug and misty eyes, having become the best of friends after serving seven years together.
Kira pilots Odo's runabout to the Changeling planet. Beaming down to the surface, Kira is shocked at how different the Great Link appears, sickly and green. Odo confirms that they're dying; he needs to join them. Odo has Kira tell everyone back on DS9 that he will miss them, including Quark. They say their tearful farewells. Odo morphs his uniform into his tuxedo; knowing Kira always liked it on him he wants it to be her last memory of him. He slowly walks into the "ocean" of Changelings, eventually morphing and merging with them. Odo's cure spreads throughout his people, saving them all as the Link changes back to its natural golden brown.
Colonel Kira, comfortably situated in the commanding office on DS9, congratulates Lieutenant Nog on his promotion. She picks up Sisko's baseball from the desk, throws it up in the air and catches it while overlooking Ops. Bashir suggests to Ezri that they partake in the Battle of Thermopylae in a holosuite, a battle that is similar to the Alamo in that the smaller force – the Spartans – fought valiantly but was defeated. Kira goes to crack the whip on Quark, who had been taking bets on the selection of the next Kai, the Colonel banning all betting pools under penalty of Quark spending some time in the holding cells; the confrontation reminiscent of a similar encounter between the two many years earlier. Leaving Quark's, Kira sees a lonely Jake on the upper Promenade staring out the windows at the Denorios Belt. She joins him and they look out the window at the Bajoran wormhole, which is finally open for travel again after two years of war. They look towards the Celestial Temple and the Gamma Quadrant, where Jake's father and Kira's close friend have both gone, as life goes on at Deep Space 9.
"I thought you said a bartender's life was a lonely one."
"It is, but I'm not a bartender."
- - Quark and Vic Fontaine
"For each act of sabotage committed against the Dominion, another Cardassian city will be destroyed. I implore you not to let that happen."
- - Weyoun
"Together we will release the Pah-wraiths so they can lay claim to the Celestial Temple and destroy the Prophets."
"And their Emissary."
"No, no, no. Benjamin Sisko will be dealt with by me and me alone."
"Assuming he survives the invasion of Cardassia."
"Oh, he'll survive. But I promise you, he'll wish he hadn't."
- - Dukat and Winn
"Sir, the Cardassians! They're attacking the other Dominion ships!"
"They've switched sides."
"Their timing couldn't be better."
- - Odo, Ezri, Nog and Sisko, after the Cardassian fleet defects mid-battle
"I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for the Cardassians."
- - Admiral Ross
"All during the years of my exile I imagined what it would be like to come home. I even thought of living in this house again with Mila. But now she's dead, and this house is about to be reduced to a pile of rubble. My Cardassia's gone."
"Then fight for a new Cardassia."
"I have an even better reason, Commander. Revenge!"
"That works too."
- - Elim Garak and Kira Nerys
"I want the Cardassians exterminated."
"All of them. The entire population."
"That will take some time."
"Then I suggest you begin at once."
- - Female Changeling and Weyoun
"I wish you hadn't done that. That was Weyoun's last clone."
"I was hoping you would say that."
- - Female Changeling and Garak, after Garak killed Weyoun
"You may win this war, commander, but I promise you, when it is over, you will have lost so many ships, so many lives, that your "victory" will taste as bitter as defeat."
- - Female Changeling
"The Dominion has spent the last two years trying to destroy the Federation, and now you're asking me to put our fate in their hands?"
- - Female Changeling
"Before you waste too many tears, remember, these are Cardassians lying dead at your feet. Bajorans would call this 'poetic justice'."
"That doesn't mean I have to drink a toast over their bodies."
"Human-PaH. Ka DiJaQ. (Human creatures. Who would understand them?)"
- - Martok and Sisko
"Four hundred years ago, a victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war: 'Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended... we have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no going back. We must move forward to preserve in peace what we've won in war'."
- - William Ross, quoting Douglas MacArthur
"Did you really think the Pah-Wraiths would choose you as their Emissary? Soon, the Pah-wraiths will burn across Bajor, the Celestial Temple, the Alpha Quadrant. Can you picture it? An entire universe set in flames!!! To burn for all eternity. The Prophets have sent me a gift. Their beloved Emissary, set forth like an avenging angel to slay the demon."
- - Dukat
"You are pathetic!"
"Then why are you the one on your knees?"
"First the Dominion, now the Pah-Wraiths. You have a talent for picking the losing sides!"
- - Sisko and Dukat
"Benjamin, please, we've known each other too long. And since this is the last time we will ever be together, let's try to speak honestly. We've both had our victories and our defeats. Now it's time to resolve our differences and face the ultimate truth: I've won, Benjamin. You've lost."
- - Dukat
"The Pah-wraiths will never conquer anything! Not Bajor, not the Celestial Temple, and certainly not the Alpha Quadrant!"
"And who's going to stop us?"
"You can't even stand up."
"Then I'll stop you!'"
- - Benjamin Sisko, Dukat and Winn
- - Dukat, after killing Kai Winn
"The Emissary has completed his task."
"But the Pah-wraiths...?!"
"You've returned them to their prison within the Fire Caves."
"The book was the key, wasn't it?"
"To a door that can never be opened again."
"And Dukat...is he dead?"
"He is where he belongs...with the Pah-wraiths."
- - Sarah Sisko and Benjamin Sisko
"I am their Emissary, and they still have a great deal for me to do."
- - Benjamin Sisko
"Please, tell everyone I'll miss them."
- - Odo and Kira
"Your time of trial has ended. You need to rest now."
"I intend to. As soon as I return to Deep Space 9."
"That will not be necessary. You are with us now."
- - Sarah Sisko, explaining to her son Benjamin that he has completed his task as Emissary
"The more things change, the more they stay the same."
- - Quark, quoting Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, the last spoken line of the series
Ending an eraEdit
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine finished shooting on 20 April 1999. The final scene to be shot was between Armin Shimerman and James Darren, the scene where Quark and Vic Fontaine play "Go Fish".
- The party in Vic Fontaine's bar, which was also filmed on the last day of shooting, features cameo appearances by various producers, writers and other members of the production crew, as well as various actors from the show without their prosthetic makeup (see list).
- The idea to include some of the show's recurring actors as extras was Ira Steven Behr's. As Cecily Adams (Ishka) says, "It wasn't like Ira was asking for a favor of us so much as he was including us in a very special time. I felt honored that they included me. I was thrilled to be there." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Andrew J. Robinson, Robert O'Reilly, and Star Trek: Voyager actor Robert Picardo all visited the set on the final day of shooting, although none of them appear in the scene itself.
- Chase Masterson was also present for the party scene, although she too doesn't appear in the scene (or the episode). However, as she explains, that wasn't the point of being there; "We were there just to be there and for the support, just to take away one last piece that we will always remember. And I'll never forget, Ira Behr got up on the scaffolding on the side of the sound stage, and with tears in his heart, and his eyes and his voice, and said how much it meant to him to be a part of this show, and, I mean, there wasn't a dry eye in the house, it goes without saying. For a man like that, who truly created this incredible piece of work, and for him to be telling us how much it meant to him." ("Last Goodbyes", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- The speech Behr gave from the scaffolding was; "As the captain said, this is the best crew ever. This may be the last time we're all together, but no matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel, a part of us, a very important part, will always remain here – on Deep Space 9. Okay. Back to work." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Speaking on the last day of filming, Rene Auberjonois said, "I don't think anybody can really deal with it. I think we're sort of trying to do business as usual. The last day is a little heightened, you can feel it in the air." ("Ending an Era", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- Of the final day of shooting, Alexander Siddig commented in 2002; "The final show was a climactic emotional time, and everybody turned up on that set the final day, everybody, there was a sense of the weight of the day, the weight of what was going to happen, what a momentous event it was, at least for us working on the show, and so it was emotionally charged, and sentimental. It was an emotional, wonderful day, and it couldn't have been better working in this big bar, with a festive scene to do, it was classy that they organized it that we did that scene finally, as opposed to some scene with just two people, it was great to have a big scene with everyone." ("Ending an Era", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- Of the final day, Nana Visitor has commented, "I couldn't stop weeping." Indeed, she ruined numerous takes because she was crying, especially during Vic Fontaine's rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight", which is in fact dedicated to her – both character Kira and actress Visitor (look before at the quotes). ("Last Goodbyes", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- When Vic Fontaine is singing "The Way You Look Tonight", Ira Behr was looking at the cast from across the room, and he suddenly realized it was all over. Of this realization he says simply, "It was a moment I'll never forget." ("Last Goodbyes", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- Of shooting this scene, James Darren says, "I was all choked up. They picked this great song, "The Way You Look Tonight". All of the lyrics have a double meaning. I told Ira afterward, 'From now on, whenever I sing that song, I won't be able to think about this night, because I'll never get through the song.'" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- In 2002, Ronald D. Moore, who still becomes emotional when discussing the end of the show, commented, "I remember the end. We were all gathered together, they had shot the final shot, and the AD came up and she just started saying, 'Okay, it's time to say goodbye and goodnight to Nana Visitor.' And everybody applauds. And that's when it hit me, it was like, 'Oh my God, this is it, we're saying goodbye'. 'Goodbye and goodnight to Alexander Siddig. Goodbye and goodnight to Michael Dorn. Goodbye and goodnight to,' and at every one, every one, as she goes through the entire cast, there's a surge of emotions that's building, and we're all in this confined place, we're all in Vic's. And the applause is getting louder, and the cheers are getting louder, and we're going through the cast one by one by one to Avery. 'Goodbye and goodnight to Avery Brooks.' And the place just explodes, and we're hugging each other and crying, and I'm crying and I'm going up to cast members and I can't even, I literally can't even talk, I literally can't even say goodbye to them, there's tears rolling down my face, and I turned and I looked, and I waved at the writers. I just walked out. I walked off the soundstage and got in my car, and that was it, that was it, that was the moment it was all over. The wrap party was just going to be something fun we did later, but I just remember so clearly walking out of that soundstage in my Vic's suit, and into the night air and Deep Space Nine was over. It was such a moment, it just hit me so hard, those people, how much I loved those people, how much I loved those characters, how much I loved Deep Space Nine." ("Last Goodbyes", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- The last person to leave the set on the final day was Ira Behr, who waited until even the lighting and electrical equipment had been removed. On his way out, he was heard to say, "I have many years to not be here." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- A reproduction of the invitation to the Deep Space Nine wrap party was included in Star Trek Vault: 40 Years From The Archives. 
Deep Space Nine's legacyEdit
- Speaking in 1999, just before filming finished on "What You Leave Behind", Ira Behr said, "The publicity before the show began, which we all supported, was that Deep Space Nine is going to be a darker, grittier Star Trek than you've ever seen before, and that was the intention. But as the show grew, I think we discovered that the real legacy of Deep Space Nine is that it's probably the most Human of all the Star Treks, even though it's got the most aliens, it's truly the most human." ("New Frontiers: The Story of Deep Space Nine", DS9 Season 2 DVD special features)
- In 2002, Ron Moore stated, "I think Deep Space was the show that really took Star Trek as far as you could take it. You have The Original Series, which is a landmark, and sort of like changes everything about the way science fiction is presented on television, at least space based science fiction. Then you have Next Generation, which for all of its legitimate achievements, is still a riff on the original, its still sort of like, okay, it's another starship, it's another captain, it's different, but it is a riff on the original. Then here comes Deep Space, and it just runs the table in a different way, it just says, 'Okay, you think you know what Star Trek is?' Let's put it on a space station, and let's make it darker and let's make it a continuing story, and let's continually challenge viewer assumptions about what this American icon means, and I think it was the ultimate achievement for the franchise. Personally, I think it's the best of all the shows, I think it's an amazing piece of work." ("Ending an Era", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- Ira Behr has also said, "We live in uncertain times. And this is a very uncertain business. I hope for the best, I expect the worst. But having something like Deep Space Nine in my pocket really takes a tremendous weight off my shoulders. I don't need to worry about finding my great moment, because I had a great moment. I had a great moment that lasted seven years." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Story and scriptEdit
- The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion describes the source of the episode title as an "obscure quote": "All that you take with you is what you leave behind". The quote referenced is likely, "All you take with you when you're gone, is what you leave behind," attributed to John Allston. The phrase also appears in the Pericles quote, "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others," which was used as an epigram in the book Twist of Faith, an omnibus edition of the first four novels of the DS9 relaunch novels.
- In the early stages of putting this episode together, both the studio executives and Rick Berman were adamant that the final episode wasn't to be exclusively about the Dominion War, an idea with which Ira Behr agreed; "I could see their point. Deep Space Nine is bigger than just the Dominion War. So we split it. We had a two-hour episode, which allowed us to give the audience the big battle scenes and all that stuff, but then say, 'Hey, this is the final episode, and we have a lot of other stuff to take care of too'!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the composition of the script for this episode, Behr explains, "I wanted to tie up all the loose ends. I didn't want this show to end like so many TV shows do, with all this open-ended 'Whatever happened to these characters?' I mean, obviously these characters go off and have some kind of life, but in terms of this series, I wanted to bring some closure, it was important to me. Part of it was selfish, I mean we had played with these characters for seven years, if someone else was going to play with them, they would have to jump off from where we left them, we wanted to put some parameters. And then it became a discussion with the staff, with the writers, who was going to end up where, and people got pretty opinionated on who was going to wind up where in terms of Bashir and O'Brien etc., there were a lot of separations. And I think that also was a recognition of the separation I was feeling, and that we were all feeling. Bashir and O'Brien separated. Kira and Odo separated. Jake and Sisko separated. That's heavy stuff." ("Ending an Era", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- Damar was chosen as the first recurring character to die, as Casey Biggs had played William Travis in the 1988 IMAX film directed by Kieth Merrill, Alamo: The Price of Freedom, and Travis was the first to die at the Battle of the Alamo. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The first draft of this episode's script was submitted on 16 March 1999.
- In the original draft of the script, Damar went down with all guns blazing, but without any lines. Distraught at the thought of a death without words, Casey Biggs asked director Allan Kroeker for permission to improvise, hence his final word, "Keep...". When asked at conventions, Biggs admits he had no idea of how he would have finished the statement.
- Originally the writers were to appear sitting at the bar in Quark's, but this idea was abandoned because, as Ira Behr explains, "The shot would stick out like a sore thumb. It would have been a 'Brrr-rump-bump' where we didn't need a 'Brrr-rump-bump'." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the scene where Ross and Sisko refuse to share a drink with Martok while standing in the middle of a devastated Cardassia, Ira Behr says, "It shows the difference between Humans and Klingons. Martok enjoys the victory. He enjoys the bodies. He enjoys the triumph. And in some ways he's right. The Bajorans would have called these deaths poetic justice, and that's something we wanted to remind the audience about. But we Humans see things in complicated ways. It's tough being a human. It's much easier being a Klingon." Similarly, J.G. Hertzler points out, "It takes a certain amount of intellectualization to say 'War is wrong.' Klingons are not able to do that. And the fact is, the Cardassians brought it on themselves. So Martok just enjoyed that one moment of 'We won'." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the final farewell scene between Garak and Bashir, Behr comments, "A lot of people thought their relationship had been forgotten and we didn't need to give them a goodbye scene, that the important thing was Bashir and O'Brien. But I felt that we needed it. For seven years, this guy had been wanting to get out of exile, and he helps free his planet, helps his people do the right thing, and finally he gets to go home to ruins. Bashir gives us this human, kind of well meaning but not really helpful response to all that's happened, while Garak has his eyes wide open." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the final farewell scene between Bashir and O'Brien, Behr says, "That relationship means a lot to me. It's one of the great unsung things about Deep Space Nine, relationships like that. People might think that a Star Trek series doesn't need relationships like that, but I think it does. As an audience member, I enjoy seeing it. It gives the show meaning, and it certainly gave the final episode a lot of meaning." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the 'lack' of a farewell scene between Quark and Odo, Armin Shimerman says, "Odo knew exactly what Quark was looking for, and he was damned if he was going to give it to him. And Quark appreciated the fact that there was no resolution to their game. That meant the game was still afoot." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The writers had considered killing Sisko off during the Battle of Cardassia and resurrecting him for the battle with the Pah-wraiths, but they ultimately decided it was necessary for him to survive the war. As René Echevarria explains, "Sisko was going to die in the Dominion War and then be resurrected by the Prophets on some level, or maybe go into their world to do battle with the Pah-wraiths. But nobody was really satisfied with that. We'd been talking about it for several days, but suddenly we realized that he couldn't die in the war. He had to go into battle with the Pah-wraiths and give his life in that battle. That's the mythic structure. The Prophets had created this man as their champion in the material world. If he had died and gone into their realm in order to fight, why did they need him in the first place?" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Originally, the episode was to end without any ambiguity as to whether or not Sisko was going to return to his corporeal life – the answer was a definite 'no'. The idea was that Sisko had become a Prophet, and that was how it would remain for all time, thus confirming the Sarah Prophet's warning in "Penumbra" and "'Til Death Do Us Part" that if he married Kasidy Yates, he "would know nothing but sorrow." The sorrow was that he was going to have to leave his unborn child behind, and would never get to be with her after her birth. Indeed, the final scene between Sisko and Kasidy was shot this way, with Sisko telling Kasidy he would never be back. However, a day or two after the shoot, Avery Brooks called Ira Behr and told him he wasn't happy with the scene. He felt that having a black man leave his pregnant black wife to raise their child alone carried certain negative connotations that he wasn't comfortable with. As Terry J. Erdmann puts it in the Companion; "In the 24th century, the situation conveyed only sorrow. However, in the 21st century, there was a secondary social issue that had particular resonance." As such, the scene was rewritten and reshot so as to clarify that Sisko will return some day.
- The producers also toyed with the idea of ending the series with a shot of Benny Russell sitting outside a television sound stage holding a script for "Deep Space Nine" – essentially making the series, and possibly the whole of Star Trek, either a dream or a prophecy from the Bajoran Prophets – but this idea was ultimately rejected. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the controversial notion of turning Sisko into a god, Ira Behr comments, "It was perfect on so many levels, because of the franchise, and how fans have treated captains like gods since the days of Kirk, and they might as well be gods to the fans. I wanted to literalize it." ("Ending an Era", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- Of the final shot of the series, Cirroc Lofton comments, "Jake experiences a loss of some sort, where he's not exactly completely lost his father, but he's lost him in a certain way. And so by experiencing that loss, he's changed and he has to cope with this new reality that's facing him. And he's alone, he's very much alone. And Jake is contemplating, he's thinking back about old times and he's remembering his father, he's looking out to the night sky knowing that his father is out there somewhere and that he'll some day be reunited with him". (Crew Dossier: Jake Sisko, DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- After the show aired, some viewers were said to have found the conclusion overly dark, especially the fact that Jake never gets to say goodbye to his father. Their relationship had been constant since the first episode of the series, and some fans found it 'unfair' that things ended the way they did. Of this criticism, Ira Behr says, "A lot of people thought it was a problem. But at some point, I realized that the last shot of the show, which I'd thought was going to be in the bar with Quark and Kira, should be this image of the kid standing there, waiting for his dad. And missing him. Is his father ever going to come back? The son yearning for the father was like the audience yearning for the show. As we push back from the image of him, push back from the station, farther and farther away until it's gone, it was just like, boom, right on the road we came in on. So no, there is no goodbye between father and son, but to me, the idea that Jake's waiting for Ben is better than any goodbye we could ever have had." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- One particular criticism of the end of the series stemmed from the show's failure to bring Bajor into the Federation, at least on screen... a great irony concerning it was Benjamin Sisko's original mission as established in the series' pilot, "Emissary". Although implied during the series' fifth season ("Rapture") that admission into the Federation would eventually come, despite being temporarily waylaid by Sisko's prophetic visions of doom to come (which materialized in the form of the Dominion War), it was only later in the DS9 novel Unity that the planet's admission was actually realized.
Behind the scenesEdit
- Although some of the battle scenes seen in the Battle of Cardassia were new, a large portion were re-used from episodes such as "Call to Arms", "Tears of the Prophets", and "Sacrifice of Angels". Footage of an explosion aboard a Klingon ship was re-used from Star Trek Generations, and the shot of a Cardassian shielding himself from an explosion aboard a ship was first used with Garak on Cardassia in the previous episode "The Dogs of War".
- The final shot of Deep Space 9 was a CGI model created by digital effects artist Aristomenis Tsirbas, the first and only time that the station was shown using CGI. Tsirbas commented "I really appreciated working on the last shot of Deep Space Nine. I had a bit of a crusade to prove to the visual effects community that digital animation could look as good as shooting real models. And the space station was always a model. But the very last shot on Deep Space Nine is a pullout from inside the station all the way out, which is impossible to do with the model because if you're in that close the detail just isn't there. So I was tasked to build a digital version of the station and then create this cosmic zoom from inside the station then out through the galaxy until you see a nebula. And that was pretty cool". 
- Avery Brooks accidentally hit Marc Alaimo for real while filming the final confrontation between Sisko and Dukat. Alaimo had to take several days off after the incident. Brooks, however, was scheduled to leave town almost immediately after shooting had finished, and was unable to wait for Alaimo's return. As such, for some of their scenes in the Fire Caves, the two actors were shot on separate days, with Brooks shooting when Alaimo wasn't present and vice versa. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- When Kai Winn raises the Book of the Kosst Amojan above her head and it disappears, a grip with long arms was perched on the rock behind her, and simply took the book from her hands. It took ten takes to get the scene right. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The Fire Caves set benefited from the extension that was carried out on Paramount Stage 18 for Star Trek: Insurrection. The fire seen in the Fire Caves was the same fire element that had been created by Gary Monak for the Badlands, as seen in the episode "For the Cause". Foundation Imaging worked on the effects of the actual Pah-wraith flames. 
- The USS Defiant bridge set was kept and used as a variety of bridge sets in Voyager and Enterprise.
- Star Trek: Voyager's holodeck set was used to serve food during the final days of shooting. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The scene of the Defiant performing the aerobatic loop-the-loop was especially popular with viewers, and is a shot of which Gary Hutzel is extremely proud. ("Ending an Era", DS9 Season 7 DVD special features)
- The intended name for the Romulan flagship during the Battle of Cardassia appears to have been the D'ridthau. However, it was not mentioned in filmed dialogue, and is only contained in the pronunciation key from the final script, the line containing the reference having apparently been deleted. Its earlier use is implied by its inclusion in the novelization of the episode, where William Ross says, "The Romulan flagship D'ridthau has been destroyed."
- The wrap party was held at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles. In addition to the main cast and several recurring actors, other attendees included Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Dan Curry, David Stipes, Herman Zimmerman, Rick Berman, Bill Gocke, Joe Longo, Gary Hutzel, Majel Barrett, Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda, Michael Westmore, Lolita Fatjo, Bob Gillan, James Van Over, Larry Nemecek, and David Livingston. Terry Farrell also joined her castmates for the party.
- This episode marked the final contribution to the Star Trek franchise for the majority of the cast and behind-the-scenes staff, including writers and producers Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler, René Echevarria, David Weddle, Bradley Thompson, Steve Oster, Terri Potts, and Robert della Santina, directors of photography Jonathan West and Kris Krosskove, and visual effects supervisor Gary Hutzel. One notable exception was Ronald D. Moore, who briefly remained as a writer and producer on Star Trek: Voyager; his stay on that show was not to be a happy one however, and he left the franchise for good shortly afterwards. Another notable exception was Jeffrey Combs, who would go on to play the recurring role of Andorian commander Thy'lek Shran in Star Trek: Enterprise. It was also the last time Michael Piller was credited on-screen (except for his creator credit on Voyager), though his last actual contribution to the franchise had been the script for Star Trek: Insurrection. Production designer Herman Zimmerman also went on a brief hiatus from Trek, though he returned two years later for the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise.
- It was David Weddle and Bradley Thompson who went back through the past episodes to find clips for the montage. They chose almost ninety clips which they felt best illustrated what the montage scenes were trying to achieve, and the editors whittled them down to a more manageable number. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The moments the characters recall are as follows:
- Miles O'Brien recalls showing his model of the Alamo to Bashir in "The Changing Face of Evil", playing Falcon in "A Simple Investigation", fending off Hovath's attack in "The Storyteller", having his shoulder popped back into place by Bashir in "Inquisition", viewing tribbles aboard the Enterprise in "Trials and Tribble-ations", eating while Bashir was talking about theater in "The Die is Cast", playing racquetball in "Rivals" and singing Jerusalem in "Explorers".
- Worf recalls arriving on Deep Space 9 and meeting Sisko for the first time in "The Way of the Warrior", being Duchamps in "Our Man Bashir", kissing Ezri in "Penumbra", fighting Gowron in "Tacking Into the Wind" and hanging upside down aboard a Dominion ship in "Strange Bedfellows".
- Odo and Kira Nerys recall Odo showing his bucket filled with flowers in "The Abandoned", dancing together and kissing in "His Way" and Odo becoming a cloud of energy in "Chimera".
- Quark recalls being confronted by Worf on the IKS Rotarran's bridge in "Shadows and Symbols", fighting with Odo in "The Ascent", stopping O'Brien and Bashir from smashing their glasses after toasting Clive from their Battle of Britain holoprogram in "Homefront", being disgusted watching Rom pouring liquid into his ear to soothe his pain in "Bar Association", playing for the Niners in "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" and watching several of the other characters heading to Vic's lounge in "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang".
- Jake Sisko recalls fishing in the holodeck of the ship which brought him and his father to DS9 in "Emissary", hugging his father on the Promenade in "The Nagus", laughing with his father on their trip to the Gamma Quadrant in "The Jem'Hadar", crying at his father's bedside in "The Visitor", piloting their lightship in "Explorers", moving out of his father's quarters in "The Ascent" and embracing his father in "Nor the Battle to the Strong".
- Of the montage scene, Armin Shimerman has commented, "For me, the saddest part of the finale is the very quick sequence of vignettes about Jake, watching him grow up. I've always had a very large sadness for passing of time, and to watch those sequences made me very sad". 
- Flashback scenes of Jadzia Dax are conspicuously absent from the end of the episode because the producers were not able to obtain permission from Terry Farrell to use her image. . Originally, however, the script had called for clips of Jadzia to be included in the scene. As Ira Steven Behr explains, "We had planned to see Terry Farrell in the flashbacks but she refused to let us use any of her clips. The way I see it is this: Her manager was informed that we were thinking of using Terry in a scene in the final episode. It would have probably been three hours of work... maybe four. The price they quoted us was too high for the budget. After all, this was a show where we had to cut out hundreds of thousands of dollars from the original draft. Her manager was informed that we weren't going to be able to use Terry. And on top of it, the scene we had been thinking of for her was really not that germane to the plot. I think Terry's feelings were hurt. When it came to the issue of the clips, they again felt that they would prefer that we went a different way without using the character of Jadzia Dax. So we did. I wasn't happy about it. I'm still not happy about it. But it is a reminder that even Star Trek is just part of the great showbiz sludge." (X) As a result, this is the only season finale not to feature Jadzia.
- The ratings were very strong throughout the nine-episode arc, with the finale being the highest rated dramatic show in national syndication for the week it aired. "What You Leave Behind" was also one of the highest rated shows of the series' entire run.
- After the show aired, a poll was carried out jointly between Star Trek: Communicator (the official Star Trek fan club magazine) and the Star Trek Continuum (the authorized Star Trek website at the time), with "What You Leave Behind" voted as the second best episode of the series. "Trials and Tribble-ations" came first.
- In 2001, readers of Star Trek Monthly voted "What You Leave Behind" as the fourth best episode of Star Trek, beaten only by "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II", "All Good Things...", and "Trials and Tribble-ations". (Star Trek Monthly issue 75)
- Lolita Fatjo has stated that "What You Leave Behind" – along with "The Visitor" and "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" from DS9, and "The Measure Of A Man", "The Inner Light" and "All Good Things..." from TNG – is one of the fewer than ten episodes she was most proud to have been involved with. 
- Of the final episode, Ira Behr has stated, "I was satisfied. In fact, satisfied was an understatement. I saw the show for the first time with an audience at the Museum of TV and Radio and it was a great night. So yeah, I think we crammed everything we could into those 89 minutes and I make no apologies or excuses". (X)
- "What You Leave Behind" won the best television episode SyFy Genre Award in 2000. 
- In Star Trek 101, Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block list "What You Leave Behind" as being one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Speaking several weeks after filming had wrapped, Nana Visitor commented, "I think, maybe foolishly, but I think we could have gone on. I think there were more stories to tell. But it's a good place to end it. I think it could go on from the way the last episode is, I think you could start again the next year with what's happening now, but it's gotta end sometime." ("Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys", DS9 Season 1 DVD special features)
- Visitor also says of the character arc of Kira, "She has come full circle, but going full circle, she's explored all the degrees all the way around the circle, so she's pretty much in the same place, but not the same person at all. There's a depth and an understanding, and an experience that only going the whole way around the trip gives you. So that's why the way it ended is very satisfying for me, as an actor, as the keeper of Kira, she comes full circle." ("Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys", DS9 Season 1 DVD special features)
- Of the final episode, Andrew J. Robinson has commented, "I thought they wrapped up Garak very well. It was very satisfying for me – the whole storyline with Kira, and going to Cardassia and working with the resistance and Damar. That all worked out terrifically... It had a lot of good stuff in it, including a scene with Bashir that I was very pleased with. I have no second thoughts on this. It was resolved. The resolution worked for me, and quite frankly if I never do Garak again, that's okay because I feel that the character was served and truly played out." 
- Robinson also commented on the opinion Garak had of his own people, "You know he's bitter at the direction of his own government, the direction of his own society, the political direction that Cardassia took to bring them into alliance with the Dominion. That's where the bitterness is. And he's bitter at the Cardassian leaders who brought Cardassia to this point. There's no love lost with Garak about the Federation, you know. He regards the Federation as basically clueless people – clueless in terms of what Cardassia is about. But there is also the respect that he has for the individuals, for people like Bashir and Sisko and for the people that he did meet and become involved with on the station while he was there. It's really the previous Cardassian leadership that he's bitter about". 
- Of Garak's murder of Weyoun, Ira Behr says, "In the end, Garak wasn't a tailor, he was a killer. His instinct was to kill. Not to hit. Not to knock down. Not to chide him most fiercely. But to kill Weyoun." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of his death scene, Jeffrey Combs comments, "I didn't want to die like that. I thought I'd get involved in a big struggle and have a grand death. But giving me an abrupt end was perfect for Garak." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of Weyoun 8 being the 'final' Weyoun, Combs has stated, "I said to Ira, 'If you think that the Vorta have all their eggs in one basket, you've got another thing coming. How many times have I died?' I don't think there's any question that there's some Weyoun clones hidden away in a cave somewhere." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) In the Relaunch novels, Combs is proven correct, as Weyoun 9 becomes Odo's attache.
- Of the episode, Salome Jens has commented, "I felt quite complete with the series, actually, I thought the final two hours had wrapped up wonderfully. There was a question with what happened to her, but certainly I loved the fact that I had the opportunity to show some other sides to the character in that episode. I really enjoyed those last two hours for myself because it gave me some acting to do. In a lot of the other scenes in the past I had to hold back because of the nature of the character; she's not someone who loses it or goes out of control in any way. So it was nice to have some other colors for her."
- She has also pointed out, "One of the reasons they sent (Odo) out was to understand what was happening with the solids, because they felt threatened by them in some ways. The resolution was quite wonderful. She has the power to become anything she wants to be after that; she can disappear. Certainly she's going to be responsible for the actions that she took. There was something kind of majestic about it. And honorable, finally."
- Jens also commented that "something real happened for everybody... I think everyone was ready, it's like it was time. I know some people felt very sad about it, but it was a worthy journey, and it had completed itself. And when something completes itself, there's also some joy in knowing that it's done, that you did it. Seven years is a mystical number. It was a good number to quit. It was a very spiritual number, seven. And I think people really felt that way. Everybody had had a very productive seven years. And it was time to move on."
- Of her final scenes in the episode, Jens said, "They really trusted me. It was quite extraordinary. And when they saw what I had done, Ira Behr came onto the set and said, 'that was fantastic.' They loved the scene where I deal very powerfully with Broca. I know the producers were very pleased with what I had done, and they really let me alone, because they just trusted that I knew what to do. And, certainly, at this point I knew a lot about the character; there was not much they could tell me. I knew just where to go. She didn't change; she just had to deal with the events that were there to be dealt with. There were some things that were beyond her control, including her illness, and I really liked that scene where she had to deal with the fact that she might die, and what her sadness about that was. It was not about dying or about her – it was about her people. I thought that was quite wonderful. I loved that scene." 
Nicole de BoerEdit
- Nicole de Boer commented: "I really enjoyed 'What You Leave Behind'. I thought the producers did a great job with it. It did a nice job of closing out all the storylines. I didn't have a lot to do in 'What You Leave Behind', and that was fine. By that point, there had been so many Ezri episodes that I knew she couldn't be too heavy in the finale, and that it would be much more of an ensemble show. Like I said, I was fine with that, but I was sad after we were done with with it, because I thought 'Well, now it's really over and I would have liked to have contributed more'. I laughed when we were doing it, because, during the battle scenes, I was basically saying, 'The phone is for you, Captain. It's Admiral so and so' That's basically all I did". De Boer did, however, enjoy her scenes with Alexander Siddig. She commented: "I think [Ezri and Bashir] make a very cute couple. The last scene with them together was very sweet, but that first scene was not so sweet. It was pretty sexy, I thought! I'd like to think that they will live happily ever after, unless work or something was to separate them. I can't see them not getting along or not having feelings for each other". ("Dax for the Memories", Star Trek Monthly issue 60)
- The scene of Odo's return to his people (accompanied by Kira) is the first (and last) scene set in the Gamma Quadrant since Season 5. (DS9: "Children of Time")
- Admiral Ross' speech at the armistice signing, "Four hundred years ago, a victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war, 'Today, the guns are silent...'," is a reference to the speech given by General Douglas MacArthur at Tokyo Bay after the official surrender of Japan which ended World War II in 1945.
- Aron Eisenberg (Cadet/Ensign/Lieutenant Nog), Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat), J.G. Hertzler (Vulcan captain, later General/Chancellor Martok), and Mark Allen Shepherd (Morn) are the only actors, besides the regulars, to appear in both this episode and the pilot, "Emissary".
- Avery Brooks (Commander/Captain Benjamin Sisko) is the only actor to appear in every episode of the series.
- This is the first of two Star Trek series finales in which Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun) appears. The second is the Star Trek: Enterprise series finale "These Are the Voyages...", in which he plays Shran.
- This episode marks the deaths of Mila (Julianna McCarthy), Damar (Casey Biggs), Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs), and Kai Winn (Louise Fletcher), in that order. Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) does not die but is trapped "with the Pah-wraiths," presumably in the same non-corporeal form as Sisko.
- The wall decoration inside Mila's home was later hung on the wall of T'Pol's quarters in Star Trek: Enterprise.
- O'Brien mentions "flux capacitors," while talking to Bashir about his decision to return to Earth, a reference to the 1985 Robert Zemeckis movie Back to the Future.
- This was the final episode of Star Trek to air before the death of DeForest Kelley on 11 June 1999.
- In the final moments of the episode, Colonel Kira asks Nog to begin cargo inventories; this was the first task performed by Nog after he had decided to join Starfleet. Sisko had him do it to see if he could be trusted in the third season episode "Heart of Stone".
- This is the only final episode of the spin-offs to be set entirely in the "present", at that time the late 24th century.
- Before the final episode aired, TV Guide printed a retrospective article declaring DS9 to be the best Star Trek series to date. Four covers of the magazine were produced with all of the main characters featured. The first featured Sisko; the second Bashir, O'Brien, and Jake; the third Ezri, Worf, and Quark; and the fourth Kira and Odo.
- Allan Kroeker directed this season finale episode. He has the distinction of directing the final episodes of three Star Trek series: Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.
- The penultimate scene of this episode is about Kira confronting Quark about new rules on the Promenade and his bar. The penultimate scene of the premiere episode "Emissary" was just the same.
- This is the only series finale of Star Trek not to reference a stardate in any way.
- Although Salome Jens appeared in the credits in all of her DS9 appearances, this is the only episode in which her role as the Female Changeling is explicitly credited.
- The tune of "The Minstrel Boy", sung by O'Brien and Captain Maxwell in TNG: "The Wounded" is played in the soundtrack during the scene where O'Brien takes one last look at his quarters and finds the figurine of William B. Travis.
- This episode's novelization was written by Diane Carey. The book establishes that the Cardassian fleet turned against the Dominion because Weyoun was actually foolish enough to send his message about the destruction of Lakarian City not only all across Cardassia, but to the Cardassian fleet as well.
- Another scene depicted in the novelization, set just after the signing of the surrender documents, shows the Dominion fleet heading back through the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant. After the wormhole closes, Admiral Ross declares, "Ladies and gentlemen I have the privilege of announcing that for the first time in two years there are no Dominion ships in the Alpha Quadrant!"
- This episode has the largest guest cast in Trek history.
- The final scene of the episode concludes with a completely computer generated Deep Space 9, for the first time.
- The shooting of this episode started on 29 March 1999; the wrap party was held on 22 April 1999.
- This is the only live action finale where the last line is not delivered by the captain of the that series. In this case, it was delivered by Quark. (The final line of The Animated Series was delivered by Sarah April.)
- After this episode, Star Trek: Voyager was the sole carrier of the Star Trek franchise, beginning with "Equinox, Part II" until the series' end in May 2001. (Star Trek: Enterprise would not begin airing until September of that year.)
- During the scene on Cardassia with General Martok, Admiral Ross, and Captain Sisko, Martok speaks Klingon for the last time. This line, however, was not written into the script, so Hertzler decided to throw some Klingon in. In a BBC interview, Hertzler recalled, "All that was written for me to do, was to sort of shrug my shoulders and drink. I said, 'Man, if there's ever a time when Martok would say something in Klingon, at least to himself, it would be then.' So I said, 'If that's the intent then let me just say [barks out some Klingon],' which means, 'Humans, go figure!.' So that's what I did." 
- In the DS9 relaunch novel Unity, by S.D. Perry, Sisko returns from the Celestial Temple on the day of his daughter's (Rebecca Jae Sisko) birth. The novel establishes that Sisko was to be made an admiral for his actions during the war. Starfleet offers him the promotion in 2377, but he turns them down, preferring to live on Bajor with Jake, Kasidy, and their new daughter in the house that Sisko designed and Kasidy had built while he was gone. Later novels establish that Sisko is still in Starfleet, but is currently on extended leave.
- The events of the relaunch novels Avatar, Book One and Avatar, Book Two take place three months after this episode. The events of the WildStorm comic book miniseries Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - N-Vector take place in the months between.
- Andrew Robinson's novel, A Stitch in Time, starts just a short time after the events of this episode.
- The "Requital" story of the Tales of the Dominion War anthology takes place during the events of this episode.
- The Left Hand of Destiny and the framing story of The Lives of Dax both take place soon after the events of this episode.
- The novel Rising Son establishes that indeed, there was more genetic material from Weyoun left over as Jake encounters Weyoun's ninth clone in the Gamma Quadrant.
- "What You Leave Behind" is often used to date novels set after it. It is mentioned in the historian's note of novels such as Diplomatic Implausibility, A Good Day to Die, Honor Bound, Enemy Territory, and the final Star Trek: A Time to... novel, A Time for War, A Time for Peace.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series. Trek nearly swept the category that year. Also nominated were VOY: "Dark Frontier", "Thirty Days", and "Timeless". "Dark Frontier" won.
Video and DVD releasesEdit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 7.13, catalog number VHR 4823, 27 November 1999
- The only DS9 standard volume released by PHE, this volume features a reversible cover sleeve: on one side, the standard DS9 layout, with the crew featured in full; and on the other, a "Feature Length TV Movie" version, featuring the Defiant in battle over the station, with the words "The Final Battle".
- The volume is labeled on the standard side as "What You Leave Behind, Parts I & II", although the episode is in its feature-length form.
- UK VHS release Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Movie: 23 October 2000
- As part of the DS9 Season 7 DVD collection
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Nicole de Boer as Ezri Dax
- Michael Dorn as Worf
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys
Special guest stars in alphabetical order Edit
- Rosalind Chao as Keiko
- Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun 8/Holosuite extra (uncredited in latter role)
- Salome Jens as Female Changeling
- Penny Johnson as Kasidy Yates
- Andrew J. Robinson as Garak
Guest stars Edit
- Casey Biggs as Damar/Holosuite extra (uncredited in latter role)
- Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat / Pah-wraith
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog/Holosuite extra (uncredited in latter role)
- J.G. Hertzler as Martok/Holosuite extra (uncredited in latter role)
- Barry Jenner as Admiral Ross
- Deborah Lacey as Sarah
- Julianna McCarthy as Mila
- Hana Hatae as Molly O'Brien
Special guest appearances Edit
- Mel Johnson, Jr. as Broca
- Greg Ellis as Ekoor
- Cyndi Pass as Ginger
- Kevin Scott Allen as Jem'Hadar soldier
- Christopher Halsted as Jem'Hadar First
- Judi Durand as Cardassian Computer Voice
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Cecily Adams as a holographic lounge patron
- Ira Steven Behr as a holographic lounge patron
- Hans Beimler as a holographic lounge patron
- Uriah Carr as a holographic lounge patron
- Amy Kate Connolly as
- René Echevarria as a holographic lounge patron
- Russ English as a holographic lounge patron
- Lolita Fatjo as a holographic lounge patron
- Max Grodénchik as a holographic lounge patron
- Kane Hodder as Jem'Hadar soldier
- Luther Hughes as Vic's Lounge bass player
- Joey as an Evora
- Scott Leva as Jem'Hadar soldier
- Irving E. Lewis as a Cardassian patrol guard
- Shauna Lewis as a dabo girl
- Dennis Madalone as
- Linda Madalone as Starfleet science officer
- Mark Major as Vorta
- Christopher J. Marcinko as Bajoran security deputy
- Dan McGee as an Human operations division lieutenant
- James Minor as
- Ronald D. Moore as a holographic lounge patron
- Tom Morga as Jem'Hadar soldier
- Robin Morselli as a holographic lounge patron
- Max Omega as Thot Pran
- Stephen Pisani as an Green alien
- Keith Rayve as a Vorta
- Chuck Shanks as a holographic lounge patron
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Robbin L. Slocum as a holographic lounge patron
- James Lee Stanley as a Bajoran security deputy
- Bradley Thompson as a holographic lounge patron
- David Weddle as a holographic lounge patron
- Unknown performers as
Stunt doubles Edit
- Leslie Hoffman as stunt double for Julianna McCarthy
- Dennis Madalone as stunt double for Casey Biggs
- Patricia Tallman as stunt double for Louise Fletcher
- Chester E. Tripp III as stunt double for Andrew J. Robinson
- Brian J. Williams as stunt double for Marc Alaimo
- Unknown stunt performer as stunt double for Avery Brooks
- Uriah Carr – stand-in for Alexander Siddig
- Amy Kate Connolly
- Randy James – stand-in for Colm Meaney
- David B. Levinson – stand-in for Armin Shimerman
- James Minor – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Robin Morselli
- Todd Slayton – stand-in for Cirroc Lofton
- Unknown performers as
Uncredited archive footage appearancesEdit
1962; 2309; Alamo; Alpha Quadrant; ambassador; angel; apoptosis; Arfillian ficus; attack fighter; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran language; Bajoran Republic; Bajoran wormhole; Bandee; bartender; baseball; Bashir 62; bat'leth; Battle of the Alamo; Battle of Thermopylae; bayonet; betting pool; blackout; bloodwine; Book of the Kosst Amojan; Breen; Breen Confederacy; canasta; canonization; Cardassia; Cardassia Prime; Cardassians; Celestial Temple; chancellor; Changeling; Constable; containment field; darts; Dax, Jadzia; Dominion; Dominion Headquarters; Dominion War; Doppler compensator; Durante, Jimmy; Earth; emergency power; Eminence; Emissary of the Prophets; evasive maneuvers; Evora; Federation; Federation Alliance; Ferengi; Fire Caves; five-card stud; Founders' homeworld; Gamma Quadrant; gin rummy; Go Fish; god; Great Link; holodeck program; hologram; holosuite; hospitality industry; humor; impulse response filter; induction coil; inertial control system; inertial damper; jackal; Jem'Hadar; kai; Kendra Province; kilometer; Klingon; Klingon Empire; Kosst Amojan; lair; Lakarian City; Las Vegas; latinum; Lawford, Peter; Leonidas; lieutenant; lightstick; Minsk; morning sickness; neutronium; New Orleans; Occupation of Bajor; Odo's bucket; "Old Man"; orbital weapon platform; Pah-wraith; palm beacon; Paris; Persians; phaser bank; phaser rifle; pinochle; plasma flow regulator; plomeek soup; poetic justice; poker; politician; Pran; Professor of Engineering; Prophets; Qo'noS; quantum torpedo; Quark's; racquetball; Restoration of Bajor; Rio de Janeiro; Rio Grande, USS; Risa; Romulans; Romulan Star Empire; Romulus; rummy; runabout; Sands Hotel; self-sealing stem bolt; Sisko's lightship; Spartans; Starfleet Academy; surrender; suicide; targ; Tarkalean tea; tea; Texas; thot; toast; tongo; torque buffer; towel; Travis, William B.; tribble; Trills; trimester; Ungtae; Vic's Las Vegas Lounge; Vorta; warp matrix flux capacitor; Way You Look Tonight, The; Wee Bairns
Akira-class; Breen warship; D'deridex-class; Defiant, USS; Defiant-class; Excelsior-class; Federation attack fighter; Galaxy, USS; Galaxy-class; Galor-class; Hideki-class; Jem'Hadar attack ship; Jem'Hadar battle cruiser; Jem'Hadar battleship; K't'inga-class; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Miranda-class; Nebula-class; Saber-class; Steamrunner-class; Vor'cha-class
- "What You Leave Behind" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "What You Leave Behind" at Wikipedia
| Previous episode:|
"The Dogs of War"
| Star Trek: Deep Space Nine|
| Next episode:|
Final episode in series