'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' Almost Had a Meta Finale

At the Star Trek Las Vegas convention Star Trek: Deep Space Nine showrunner Ira Steven Behr described a very different ending he originally proposed for the series finale.

As TrekMovie describes, the convention ended with a panel dedicated to a single, beloved episode: Season 6's "Far Beyond the Stars." In the episode, Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), commander of Deep Space Nine, has a vision of himself in a distant past.He was no longer a member of Starfleet, but a science fiction author in 1950s New York named Benny Russell. Russell has written a story about a black space station captain titled "Deep Space Nine," but is unable to get it published thanks to the racism of American society.

Originally pitched by writer Marc Scott Zicree, the metafictional elements of "Far Beyond the Stars" stuck with Behr, particularly how the episode was "about the dreamer and the dream and who is dreaming and what they're dreaming about." When it came to write the series finale, Behr considered returning to Benny Russell.

"The final episode would end up with Benny Russell on Stage 17 at Paramount, wandering around the sound stages, realizing that this whole construct, this whole series that we had done for seven years, was just in Benny's head," Behr said in his pitch to co-executive producer Rick Berman. "That is how I wanted to end the series."

Berman questioned what this ending could mean for other Star Trek series. If DS9 is nothing but a dream, what about Star Trek: Voyager? What about Star Trek: The Original Series? "I said, 'Hey man, I don't care who is dreaming those shows, I only care about Deep Space Nine and yes, Benny Russell is dreaming Deep Space Nine.' He didn't go for it."

In the version that aired, series finale "What You Leave Behind" depicted the final battle of the Dominion War, including the catastrophic toll suffered by the Cardassians, who changed the tide of battle by turning against the Dominion. Ultimately peace was secured by Odo, who agrees to return to his homeworld and help bring about more civil relations between the shapeshifting Founders and the "Solids" they look down upon and fear. But while the DS9 finale is considerably more grounded than Behr's original "it was all a dream!" plans, it wasn't short on the fantastical or the interplay between dream and dreamer.

Many of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's spiritual themes emerged from Sisko's relationship with The Wormhole Prophets—godlike beings with no conception of time or the causation it enforces. And so while the finale did not end with Benny Russell, it did investigate the relation between our dreams for the future and the likelihood of their ultimate realization. As Sisko fulfills their design, the viewer is left to ponder how much Sisko shaped his own destiny and how much it was out of his hands. No metafiction required.