In 1999, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine brought its saga of the Starfleet crew aboard the titular space station during a time of war to a close with the finale episode, “What You Leave Behind.” While the finale was mostly well-received by fans, it was not the ending that showrunner Ira Steven Behr initially pitched.
Speaking during a panel at Star Trek Las Vegas, Behr revealed that he really wanted the series finale to call back to the popular season six episode “Far Beyond the Stars,” revealing that the entire story of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was actually the dream of science fiction writer Benny Russell.
“I did pitch to [executive producer] Rick Berman that the final episode would end up with Benny Russell on Stage 17 at Paramount, wandering around the soundstages, realizing that this whole construct, this whole series, that we had done for seven years, was just in Benny’s head,” Behr said (via Trek Movie).
But Deep Space Nine is just one television series in the Star Trek franchise, and Behr’s dream ending could have had major implications for the rest of the franchise as well.
“That is how I wanted to end the series. And Rick said ‘Does this mean The Original Series was in Benny’s head? Does this mean Voyager was in Benny’s head?’ 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," Behr said.
In “Far Beyond the Stars,” series lead Sisko finds himself experiencing the life of Benny Russell, a black science fiction writer in 1950s America. Russell imagines Deep Space Nine as a story he’s trying to sell, but struggles with the racism of the era. In the end, this is revealed as a vision sent to Sisko from the prophets in the wormhole near Deep Space Nine. In reality, it’s a powerful episode about what science fiction is for, what it is capable of, and why who writes it matters.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. There's a documentary planned for release later this year titled What We Left Behind that will feature the cast and creative team that worked on the show looking back on the time they spent, the stories they created, and the legacy of the series.
If you're looking to celebrate Deep Space Nine’s anniversary another way, you can rewatch some of the show’s best episodes, or check out Star Trek Online's new Deep Space Nine-centric expansion Victory is Life.
What do you think of Behr's dream ending for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? Let us know in the comments!