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    Elim Garak 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/9973b751_8654_45f5_b4e6_77ca0bafe744.jpeg
Played By: Andrew Robinson

"Lately, I've noticed everyone seems to trust me. It's quite unnerving. I'm still trying to get used to it."

A Cardassian tailor (and magnificent bastard) with a Mysterious Past as a top-notch spy, field agent and torturer for the feared Cardassian Obsidian Order; his moral ambiguity, unique skills and network of shady contacts become rather important in later seasons.


  • The Ace: Spy, fighter, thief, engineer, hacker, saboteur, negotiator, espionage agent, intelligence gatherer, demolitions expert, torturer, starship navigator, and tailor, Garak has every war-relevant skill you can imagine, and probably a few others you'd rather not.
  • Abusive Parents: When Garak eventually opens up a little bit about his childhood, it's clear he had a very troubled relationship with his father. He was often locked in a closet as punishment and spent his entire life wishing his father would give him even a small amount of approval.
  • Adopt the Dog: Interrogating Odo in "The Die is Cast" is a bad assignment for Garak. On the one hand he is eager to regain his standing with Tain and relishes the chance to get back to work, but on the other he clearly has respect for Odo and his time amongst the Federation has softened him somewhat. He relishes the chance to extract a nugget from the intractable Odo, but as soon as he does, Garak can't bring himself to divulge it. At the end of the story, Garak sighs as he picks his way through the charred remains of his shop, having lost any chance he had of resuming his old life.
  • Agent Peacock: He may not look like much, even by Cardassian standards. But this wispy tailor managed to go toe-to-toe with Worf in close-quarters combat. He lost, but he earned Worf's grudging respect in the process.
    Worf: You fight well, for a "tailor".
  • Almighty Janitor: This lowly tailor is plugged into more intelligence resources than the whole of Starfleet combined. He even gives Section 31 a run for their money.
  • Ambiguously Gay: According to his actor he initially played Garak as being omnisexual. He behaved rather flirtatiously when he introduced himself to Bashir and has several ambiguous scenes, such as telling Bashir to take his (isolinear data) rod and eat it, after which Bashir offers him chocolates.
    • And then there is his absolute relish at foiling Bashir's romantic liaison in the secret agent program.
      (mugging shamelessly) "Odd. She seemed so interested in your advances just a moment ago. I wonder what scared her away. ...Oh, no! I do apologize. You must be incensed."
    • "Call to Arms" revisits this, years later, in a wry way. Garak wonders why Bashir's patients put up with his awful bedside manner, to which the Doctor bats his eyes and says it's his boyish smile. Garak, with a withering look, retorts, "Not so boyish, anymore, Doctor." Zing.
    • Garak can't help running his mouth when in trouble. In "Broken Link", when confined in a mess hall by two ornery goldshirts, Garak loudly observes that, in his professional opinion, what Starfleet uniforms really need is a nice scarf.
    • In one episode, O'Brien discovers that arguing is considered a form of courtship by Cardassians. Which puts Garak and Bashir's constant debates into perspective.
    • It's also established elsewhere that shoulders are erogenous zones for Cardassians and is roughly the equivalent of grabbing someone's ass. What's the first thing Garak does to Bashir? Put his hand on Bashir's shoulder.
    • Many a fanfiction has Garak and Bashir becoming a couple, and one such pieces was actually performed by Andrew Robinson and Alexander Siddig.
  • Anti-Hero/ Anti-Villain: Whether you label him as either a 'hero' or a 'villain', you cannot deny that Garak is one of DS9's greatest allies in the war against the Dominion, but he also committed what could charitably be called war crimes in service of the cruel Cardassian Union, which he's still loyal to. The one thing you can be certain of is that his actions are often in service of a greater good, and he will not hesitate to sacrifice his life, honor, and dignity for that good. The problem is determining which 'good' he's serving, and which side he's really on.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Practically begs for the information he needs, because he doesn't want to have to keep torturing Odo under orders from Tain.
    • In "Second Skin", he guns down another Cardassian agent and then drops this utterly savage Bond One-Liner. Perhaps the most frightening thing about it is the possibility that he might actually be telling the truth.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Garak delights in calling out people when they seem to mistrust him, only to then compliment them for being wise enough to do so.
  • Badass Bookworm: A jovial, well-educated tailor, who survived some of the harshest espionage of the war and could gun down a room full of Jem'Hadar troops in 15 seconds flat.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Explicitly rips Sisko a new one for criticizing this at the climax of "In the Pale Moonlight" when they both know that was why Sisko came to him in the first place.
    Garak: That's why you came to me, isn't it captain? Because you knew I could do those things that you weren't capable of doing.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Inverted — Garak once confessed that life on the station was itself torturous. Ironically, his neural implants which made him immune to pain (and depression at being exiled) eventually shorted out and caused him agony for a few days. His enthusiasm for interrogation is never the same after that experience.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The friendliest Cardassian you'll ever meet... and arguably the most dangerous by far.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's a highly entertaining conversation partner with a gift for sarcasm and wit, but he demonstrates many, many times that you should never turn your back on him.
  • Bond One-Liner: Appropriately for a ruthless superspy, he's very good at these.
    • After snidely berating an old rival Cardassian and then obliterating him with one disruptor shot:
    Garak: (disintegrates him) Some people should never be promoted.
  • Break the Badass: As seen in the final episode, after the Dominion War he's definitely a broken man.
    Garak: Some would say we got exactly what we deserved. After all, we are not completely innocent here. And I'm not just referring to the occupation of Bajor. Our history is filled with arrogant aggression. We joined the Dominion and betrayed the entire Alpha Quadrant. Yes... we are guilty as charged.
    Bashir: But Cardassian people are strong, they will survive. Cardassia will survive...
    Garak: (hostile, but still grieving) Oh please, doctor, spare me your insufferable Federation optimism! Of course it'll survive. But not as the Cardassia I knew. We had a rich and ancient culture; our art and literature was second to none. And now look at us. So many of our best minds all... gone.
  • The Butler Did It: Subverted. Everyone important on DS9 knows he is a spy. Still his supposedly lowly position allows him to work more informally then might otherwise be which can be useful when the Command Roster needs him.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "There may be hope for you yet." He utters the phrase pretty much anytime he observes a principled or noble character show signs of cynicism or suspicion (particularly if they indicate they don't trust him).
    • In the early seasons, he was fond of introducing himself as "just plain, simple Garak".
  • Category Traitor: In "Second Skin", Entek thinks Garak is betraying the Obsidian Order by helping Starfleet and the Bajoran Government rescue a Bajoran officer and a Cardassian dissident from the Order's clutches.
  • Character Development: Garak was originally intended to be an antagonist and foil to Bashir. However, like Dukat, the writers began exploring more sympathetic sides to the character—and unlike with Dukat, the writers didn't later consider this move a mistake.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Garak is a big smiler, and it always bodes badly for somebody. Interestingly, a frown usually means that he's telling the truth.
  • The Chessmaster: To a considerable degree. He even out-manipulates Sisko in the Season 6 episode "In The Pale Moonlight". Although he argues that Sisko faked it to keep his hands clean (there really wasn't any other reason to get Garak involved), and Sisko admits in the closing log entry that that may be true.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: His desire to engage in this kind of behavior becomes less and less as time goes by due to the influence of the Federation and, in particular, a couple of personal relationships mainly with Bashir and Odo.
  • Claustrophobia: He suffers from an acute version that becomes a plot point on several occasions.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: One of his many areas of expertise. Though one he discovers he's lost his taste for when he's offered a chance to return to his old life.
  • Combat Pragmatist
    Odo You'd shoot a man in the back?
    Garak: Well, it's the safest way, isn't it?
  • Consummate Liar: It's so difficult for most people to be able to tell when he's being truthful or lying that the default reaction is to assume he's always lying. He himself encourages this attitude. This has the useful side-effect of him being able to protect important information because he'll even lie about trivial things, resulting in people not being able to tell what's important and what's not. There are a very few who learn how to read him accurately, most notably Odo.
    Bashir: Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?
    Garak: My dear Doctor, they're all true.
    Bashir: Even the lies?
    Garak: *grinning* Especially the lies.
    • His constant lying could be considered a muscle reflex. He lies when there's no reason at all to do so, and admits he'll do it just for the practice.
  • Crazy-Prepared: At one point Garak spots an assassin sent after him and deliberately blows up his own shop so security will protect him. The Crazy Prepared part? Garak builds the bomb with a specific type of pheromone trigger (that's also incredibly rare!) favored by the assassin's species to make the frame stick. Apparently he had one lying around just in case. He spotted the assassin on the morning transport, and had everything ready before lunch. Also, In the Pale Moonlight was one long example of how Crazy-Prepared Garak is capable of being.
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: Since Cardassian epics often feature scheming protagonists, Garak mentions he dislikes Julius Caesar because he feels that Shakespeare made Caesar look foolish for not realising that Brutus was obviously plotting to kill him. Given that Caesar is supposed to be a genius, he believes the play is a Farce more than a Tragedy. However, the end of the episode suggests that Garak has finally gotten the point of the play, at great cost.
    • He also stated that the moral he got out of The Boy Who Cried Wolf was "Never tell the same lie twice."
    • He insists to Bashir that a Cardassian novel written in the 'repeating epic' style (where the same storyline is repeated several times in a single novel, with only aesthetic differences between the chapters) is Cardassia's greatest form of literature.
  • Cultured Badass: Practically a textbook example of this trope. He is not only highly skilled in the fine art of espionage and manipulation, but can also discuss the finer points of Cardassian literature with a refinement matched by no other.
  • Curiosity Causes Conversion: According to Robinson, Garak is intrigued by Bashir's motiveless compassion for others - something totally alien to Cardassians at this point in their history.
  • The Dandy: He is, by his own reluctant admission, a pretty good tailor. Garak's also the first to whine about wearing a tacky-looking disguise.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has so many, he's probably the Trekverse's most triumphant example. For example, after getting beaten up by Klingons, Garak tells Bashir that he got the better end of the deal.
    Bashir: They broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavicle.
    Garak: Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks which no doubt did serious damage to their egos! Thanks to your ministrations, I'll be back on my feet in no time, whereas the damage I did will last a lifetime.
    • At points it seems like Garak is physically incapable of not snarking, even when it's likely only to make his situation worse. Several times, when approached or straight-up ambushed by clearly hostile people, his instinctive response is to put on his most infuriating smile and say something highly inadvisable. Even his mirror universe counterpart (in many ways much less nuanced a character) can't seem to tone it down while talking to a Klingon who just stabbed him and hasn't even pulled the knife out yet.
  • Defector from Decadence: What Garak becomes after his old intelligence outfit is dissolved, leaving the corrupt military free to align themselves with Weyoun. Believing the Dominion does not have Cardassia's best interests at heart, he throws in his lot with the Federation and combines efforts with Kira and Damar to organise the resistance. He knows it will destroy the Cardassia he loves (although even he was shocked by just how thoroughly the old Cardassia was destroyed) but he does it anyway.
    • One of his (many) excuses for why he was exiled after the Cardassian withdrawal.note  Even through the Central Command was preparing to pull out from Bajor the next morning, they still prodded Garak to interrogate some child scavengers. This was beyond the pale even for Garak: Tired, hungry, incensed at having to grill clueless children to satisfy some nebulous bureaucracy, he sprang the orphans loose and tossed them some latinum for their troubles rather than finish the interrogation and turn them over for execution.
  • Determinator: It's pointed out by other characters in In Purgatory's Shadow that Garak isn't the "giving up sort". In By Inferno's Light he goes on to prove this by defying a chronically debilitating phobia to engineer everyone's escape from a Dominion internment camp. His determination even earns the respect of the Klingons.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Murderous plans are as natural to Garak as breathing after his time in the Obsidian Order, so unlike, say, Sisko (who reluctantly gives his assent in "In the Pale Moonlight" and wrestles with his conscience for the rest of the episode), he approaches murder, treachery and political assassination with the same casual attitude as running up a new dress uniform for Sisko or arguing literature with Bashir.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": He insists everyone should think of him as "plain, simple Garak!". This becomes a bit of a running gag among the characters once they're used to the contradiction between his claim of simplicity and his personality, which borders on Complexity Addiction.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: The Cardassians may secretly employ him to keep eyes and ears on DS9, but they also seem to have good reasons for making sure he stays out of Cardassia.
    Kira: Don't worry, he's on our side. I think.
  • The Dreaded: Several characters (most notably Grathon Tolar) freak out when they realize that they are a pawn in one of Garak's games. It's not unearned, given that Garak is incredibly amoral, amazingly well trained in many things, and freakishly well-connected in many parts of the quadrant.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played with. He's gotten away with some truly dark stuff with nary a slap on the wrist. Things like torturing Odo to try and rejoin the Obsidian Order, trying to destroy the Changelings' new homeworld, murdering any number of people over the course of the series. However, while most people forgive him, they also learn to never again trust him. Nog, especially, never forgets the whole Empok Nor incident, which is something Garak himself compliments.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Downplayed and subverted. Garak's cynicism makes it very hard for him to see things from a more idealistic standpoint, and he admits he finds people like Bashir and Ziyal utterly baffling. It's for this reason he actually respects the Federation, for keeping to their virtues in spite of the brutality of the world.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • When the Klingons invade DS9, he and Dukat are fighting side by side protecting the civilian leaders. He later admits letting him live was probably a mistake.
    • The fate of Cardassia and the Alpha Quadrant ends up requiring Garak, Kira and Damar to put aside their three-way loathing of each other and work together. By the end of series, there are even signs of a Fire-Forged Friends beginning to form between Garak and Kira.
    • Pulling off the plan to bring the Romulans into the war against the Dominion requires that Sisko make use of Garak's less than legal talents and contacts.
  • Enfant Terrible: We learn snippets about Garak’s youth, and it sounds like he used to have quite a temper. He would raise hell in the family home (Mila remembers him as being a horrible brat) and invent charges of treason just so he didn’t have to hear peoples' voices. Then again, maybe he hasn't changed much since there are many people he intends to "look up" when he gets back.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His relationship with Tain is...complicated, but he clearly cares for Ziyal and Mila (who, according to A Stitch In Time, also happens to be his mother) and he's devasted by their respective deaths.
  • Evil Is Petty: Garak is said to have been much more vindictive in his younger days. He once invented treason charges against a Gul just for being long-winded. (This was a little much even for Tain, who called him off.)
  • The Exile: He evaded taxes. No, wait, he killed some Bajoran prisoners. No, wait, he let some Bajoran prisoners escape. No, wait, he killed the daughter of a prominent Gul. No, wait... in truth, the real reason he was exiled is never revealed, but he certainly has fun lying about it. And, of course, every single version is true. Especially the lies.
  • The Extremist Was Right: "In The Pale Moonlight". Killing a Romulan senator who was stonewalling an alliance with the Federation was indeed extreme, but it was necessary to save the Alpha Quadrant. Besides which, the senator wasn't particularly sympathetic to begin with.
  • Face Your Fears: Battling acute claustrophobia to ensure everyone's escape from a Dominion internment camp.
  • Fake Defector: A simulated version of Garak pulls this in "The Search," but it's pretty in-line with what Garak would do anyway.
    [to Jem-Hadar] "You see, I pretend to be their friend... and then I shoot you."
  • Fake Guest Star: He is introduced in the second episode of the show and appears in all seven seasons. He becomes absolutely central to the plot. Yet he doesn't appear in the opening credits because Robinson asked not to.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • In "Things Past", Garak had no moral qualms with the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, despite overwhelming evidence of Cardassian atrocities. While immersed in Odo's hallucination, he remarks that Cardassians are not used to doing menial work and that Bajorans are naturally more suited for menial labor.
    • He seems to have a special hatred for the Romulans. While on a Tal Shiar ship, he calls the Romulan "pointy eared" in an attempt to provoke anger between the Romulans and the Cardassians. During the Dominion War, he's disgusted by the reality that his assistance is killing Cardassians to save Romulans.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Being sentenced to running a space station clothing boutique is akin to this. The only one of his kind, humiliated by having to perform a job far beneath him, unable to use his skill set for fear of immediate arrest and execution, and forbidden to return to his homeworld ever again... And add to that the natural Cardassian aversion to other species, space station temperatures and even room lighting. No wonder he's got an addiction to his wire.
    "The temperature is always too cold. The lights always too bright. Every Bajoran on the station looks at me with loathing and contempt."
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: By the series end, all of Garak's old friends in the Order have been rubbed out... either by the Dominion, Tain, or by Garak himself. He reacts to each death as though he broke a pencil. In the seven year run of the show, only three deaths have any effect on him: Tain, Ziyal, and Mila.
  • The Gadfly: Well, for starters, he pointlessly lies to people as practice. He once gets Worf to crack and agree to sponsor his application to Starfleet, claiming that he's seeking redemption. Garak turns around and mockingly suggests that he skip straight to the rank of Captain (Shades of John De Lancie!), whereupon Worf realizes he's been had.
    Garak: Lying is a skill like any other, and if you want to maintain a level of excellence you have to practice constantly.
    Worf: Practice on someone else.
  • Freudian Excuse Denial: A case where it's actually accurate, has Erzi is treating his claustrophobia, believing it to be the result of abuse he went through as a child, when in reality it's the result of one of his "My God, What Have I Done?" moments.
  • Good Is Not Soft: "Good" is actually probably stretching things a bit. Over the course of the series, it is demonstrated many, many times that just because Garak is an ally of the Federation does not mean he's going to follow their rules. People who fail to learn this lesson about him the first time usually don't get the chance to learn it a second.
  • Guile Hero: With a little quick planning, and only six deaths, he managed to turn the Romulan Empire against the Dominion. Add in his saving of Martok, Worf, and Bashir, and he basically single-handedly saved the entire Alpha Quadrant.
  • The Gunslinger: Multiple times throughout the series, Garak is shown to be incredibly quick on the draw with almost any kind of firearm. Perhaps the most impressive instance is in "Second Skin", where he manages to outshoot and kill another Obsidian Order agent who already managed to draw his weapon while Garak's back was turned.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Case in point: The man manages to backstab both Starfleet and the Jem'Hadar within the space of a single thirty-second scene. He seems to be a shining example of his people's hat.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: When you realise that Garak blew up his own shop to enlist Odo’s help he goes from being one of the finest magnificent bastards of Trek to the finest.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: "Profit and Loss". When Quark asks Garak why he helped the dissidents escape, Garak says it was necessary, but it's not clear whether Garak's talking about helping the dissidents escape or alluding to the mysterious crime that got him exiled from Cardassia.
  • I Have This Friend: In 'The Wire', as Garak is telling Bashir three contradictory stories about how he came to be exiled, he often includes a character named 'Elim', who is either an aide that Garak killed along with a transport full of Bajoran civilians, or a childhood friend and fellow Obsidian Order member whom Garak tried to frame for releasing Bajoran prisoners but was in turn betrayed and framed by Elim instead. It turns out 'Elim' is Garak's first name.
  • Implausible Deniability: It's obvious from the first episode he's in that he has government connections, knowledge of terrorist operations and experience with covert activities, but he insists on denying that he's a spy. Even after Dr. Bashir has met the person who recruited him into the Obsidian Order, Garak continues to deny he was ever a member. After the first three years of the show, he does eventually drop the pretense.
    Garak: My dear doctor, I am no more a spy than you are a...
    Bashir: Doctor?
  • Improbable Weapon User: He once kills an engineer with a flux coupler.
  • Indispensable Scoundrel: Garak is a former member of the Cardassian Obsidian Order, who in his time has picked up an enormous skillset which includes: spy, fighter, thief, saboteur, assassin, demolitions expert, torturer...and tailor, which is his occupation on DS9. He's well known for being a Consummate Liar and Deadpan Snarker, and no one trusts him any further than they could throw him, but he becomes an integral part of the crew's efforts to stop the Dominion.
  • Ironic Fear: Garak's claustrophobia puts him in a bad spot, but he'll have to overcome his fear in order to help his friends to escape prison.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The concept of sacrificing a few to save many is not lost on him. Sure, he could try a little harder to avert it at times, but the extremeness of the Dominion threat makes his hastiness to do so understandable. He's at least willing to sacrifice himself as well.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Garak is also a big proponent of the strategic withdrawal, as seen in "Rocks and Shoals" when Nog hisses at him to keep quiet during their interrogation. Broached with the question, "Is there a Doctor in your unit?" Garak is rapidly calculating which answer is less liable to get them killed. He answers truthfully, and survives. It also comes into play in "Our Man Bashir", in which Julian insists on keeping the holo-program going at great personal risk while Garak actually gives a speech about how his surviving so long has been contingent on his "knowing when to quit!"
  • Knowledge Broker: His long list of Intelligence contacts and general ability to ferret out information enable him to act as one and it's one of the reasons why Sisko's team and later the Federation find him so useful to keep around.
  • Last-Name Basis: Absolutely everyone on the station calls him "Garak". This is actually a plot-point in The Wire. In By Inferno's Light, when he's muttering to himself, he even calls himself "Garak". The only two people in the entire show who ever use his first name are Mila and Tain, and even Tain doesn't use his first name all the time.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: Garak's Clothiers is just a normal shop run by a simple man. It's definitely not a front for a Cardassian spy.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: When Garak really needs to bring out the big guns, the unnatural cheer and fey mannerisms vanish instantly. Best seen in "Tacking Into The Wind", when a disguised Odo gives Garak a plasma rifle to shoot their Jem'Hadar captains, Garak goes from smiling pleasantly to ruthlessly gunning down Jem'Hadar with a stone-faced expression in literally the time it takes to raise the gun and fire.
    • Another example was "Broken Link" when the Female Changeling told Garak there were no survivors from the Cardasian and Romulan fleets attack on the Founders homeworld. Making it abundently clear to him that their species had doomed itself in this action and the Dominion was going to make them all pay. The diplomatic tailor vanished and what was seen under that mask, even if only for a split second...
  • Loveable Rogue: You'd be a fool to trust a word he says, but he's so goshdarn charming and hilarious that you'll find yourself believing in his lies anyway.
  • Loves Secrecy: He's a Consummate Liar who delights in befuddling other characters by dribbling out just enough information that he can then make fun of their attempts to guess the truth. We do eventually learn some solid details of his backstory despite him, though, namely that he is a disgraced former operative of the Obsidian Order (the Cardassian equivalent to the KGB) and the illegitimate son of its then-head Enabran Tain. Still, after a particularly good trolling session at Worf's expense, he remarks:
    Garak: Lying is a skill like any other, and if you want to maintain a level of excellence you have to practice constantly.
    Worf: Practice on someone else.
    Garak: Mr. Worf, you're no fun at all.
  • Mob-Boss Suit Fitting: Sometimes played with since Garak, the station's tailor, also has ties to Cardassian intelligence. At one point, Sisko has Garak take his measurements during an officers' meeting in the Ward Room in order to pass on intelligence to the Cardassians.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: In "The Wire", he gives Bashir three contradictory backstories (all while suffering intense withdrawal symptoms). He later claims that they're all true.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Despite being exiled, Garak clearly still reveres Cardassia, and refuses to betray them despite having all the opportunities and reasons to do so. Intellectually, even as he defends it with great fervor, he seems to feel some guilt over the atrocities he helped commit during the Bajoran occupation, and his time on DS9 with its multi-racial crew certainly develop a lot more empathy in him towards the concerns of other races.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: He's genuinely horrified whenever he makes a mistake, especially if it results in someone's death. After the Empok Nor incident, he asks Bashir to make sure that his victim's wife knows he's sorry, which is the only time in the series he apologizes for taking a life.
  • Mysterious Past:
    • In a single episode, he gives at least three different versions of the reasons for his exile, and insists they're all true (especially the lies). He goes on to tell even more different versions in later episodes. Even by the end of the show, the full truth of him was never revealed.
    • The novel "A Stitch in Time" reveals that Garak had an affair with an old friend who was married to a prominent gul. Tain ordered him to end it and Garak refused. The gul found out, confronted Garak, and ended up dead. Tain saw this as a betrayal and refused to help him with his legal troubles.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Initially with Bashir and later with Odo as well. An odd dynamic eventually even begins to form with Worf and O'Brien as well.
    • Though it's one-sided for most of the series, he also has a high opinion of Kira and is always amiable towards her, in spite of or perhaps because of the fact that she's one of the people he knows could be a genuine threat to his life.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Garak takes such delight in creatively lying and spinning the truth that if he admits to not knowing what's going on, he's actually being honest. It also means that whatever's going on is very, very bad. Odo picks up on it when Garak doesn't give an excuse about the Flaxian assassin's ship exploding.
    • On another specific example, in "Empok Nor", Garak kills a man while under the influence of a drug that escalated the traditional Cardassian arrogance into a murderous xenophobia. When he was cured, he sincerely asked O'Brien to make sure that his victim's wife knew that he was sorry; while understandable, as this is the only time he killed someone without deliberate intent or purpose, it is still a significant moment.
  • Overlord Jr.: The son of Cardassia-Prime's longest-lived, most feared spymaster. Tain himself once admitted that Garak possessed an uncanny cruelty and resourcefulness that surpasses his own and is the best liar he's ever known.
  • Open Secret: Everyone knows that he's a Cardassian spy, and he rarely makes any serious effort to change their minds. The only thing that stops him from being an Overt Operative is that doesn't make a habit of outright admitting he's a spy to the people he's spying against, even when blatantly involving them in his espionage - he prefers to keep it an Open Secret.
  • Patriotic Fervor: He loves Cardassia, and speaks highly of its art and culture. That said, he recognizes when his people have crossed the line, such as in their alliance with the Dominion.
  • Perpetual Smiler: The only time Garak usually frowns is when he's telling somebody the truth.
  • Properly Paranoid: Played for Laughs sometimes, a plot point that makes him Crazy-Prepared at other times. As he points out to Quark, "paranoid" is something they call people who think they have threats against their life. Garak has threats against his life.
  • Recurring Character: In the early years, he'd show up a few episodes a season. He is essentially a main character by the end, however.
  • Retired Monster: Garak is a complicated subversion. He was caught and exiled for an unspecified crime (hinted to be some kind of treason or betrayal of the Obsidian Order) and he has a reputation for being a very dangerous man who shouldn't be trusted. However, as the show progresses, it's becomes less clear that this reputation is as cut-and-dried as it first seemed. Eventually, it becomes clear that he's not so much heartless about the past, and he may not easily admit it or apologise for it, but he's carrying at least some guilt about it. His motivation for everything he did in the Order was a bitter and cynical I Did What I Had to Do, and he wasn't above sacrificing his own sense of morality for his job or Shooting The Dog if he had to.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In "Second Skin", used as an excuse to get himself on the bridge because he knows trouble is about to break out that he'll need to get involved in: Odo drags him there for acting suspiciously and he complains it's because the quarters on the Defiant are making him claustrophobic. No-one believes him. It's another two years before the audience (and characters) learn that he really does suffer from claustrophobia.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: Uses variations of this to explain why he has access to top-secret information. That valid code used only by the Obsidian Order? Oh, Garak overheard it while hemming someone's trousers.
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: He lies all the time is quite honesty about how often. He's a legend in his own lifetime.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: Garak always took delight in his Cardassian paranoia rubbing off on the upright, naive DS9 crewmen he had to work with. Dr. Bashir was his pet project.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: In a franchise notorious for Space Clothes, Garak was always quite dapper, as Cardassian fashion goes. He really is an excellent tailor.
  • Shoot the Dog: The go-to guy for this on the station.
    That's why you came to me, isn't it, Captain? Because you knew I could do those things that you weren't capable of doing.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Parodied. Improbable military knowledge? He reads a lot! Unusual and fancy engineering equipment? It's a common tailor's tool! Fluency in Klingonese? Overheard it while hemming a woman's dress! Expert ability to rewrite high-class military encryption software and enter in valid codes despite having been in exile for years? Any tailor can do it!
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Garak was working as a humble gardener at a Romulan embassy, several consuls died mysterious and ultimately untraceable deaths. Garak swears up and down that this has nothing to do with him.
  • That Man Is Dead: Claims to be responsible for the death of his best friend, Elim (or was it Elim who framed and exiled him?). This is then revealed to actually be Garak's first name.
  • Token Heroic Orc: Garak doesn't mind Cardassia's military expansionism, per se. The tipping point is when his homeworld is overrun by the Dominion due to a couple short-sighted opportunists, like Dukat.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Played with; he's more of a token Anti-Villian teammate, far from unsympathetic, and generally everyone likes him up to a point, but he is still the one willing to take more controversial action as a first option where the rest of the crew would try something else first.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Deconstructed in "The Wire". Garak has a "wire" in his brain which transmutes pain into pleasure, making interrogating him useless. Years of toiling miserably on the station, however, compelled him to switch it on for hours at a time — and later indefinitely, as his body became addicted to the endorphins. Bashir had to convince him to go cold turkey.
  • Torture Technician: Part of his former job as an agent of the Obsidian Order. He was an in-universe Memetic Badass in this regard. His former mentor reminisced about the time Garak broke a suspect just by staring at him for four hours straight. However, after getting the chance to return to his old life, Garak discovers this part of the job has become a deal-breaker for him, when he has to spend hours interrogating Odo and realises he doesn't have it in him to be that ruthless any more.
    Tain: Afterwards, he just kept saying "those eyes… those eyes…"
    • Speaking of those eyes, I mean, look at that profile picture...
  • Tranquil Fury: In the finale, Mila - the closest thing Garak has to a family left - is shot dead in front of him, followed by her home being bombed into oblivion by the Dominion, leaving Garak nothing to mourn or bury. He clearly tries putting a face over it, but it's obvious that Garak is almost out of his mind with rage and pain.
  • Trickster Mentor: He wants to help Dr. Bashir lose his naivete and become more capable of spotting lies and deception, by lying to and deceiving him.
  • Undying Loyalty: Garak was stuck on a station that was a living hell to him, as described so in "The Wire," but it is clear that he could have left at most any time had he made a deal with the Federation to give them evidence on the Obsidian Order and all he knew about Cardassia. He never did so because he is still loyal to his home even after being banished. In short, Garak is loyal to Cardassia, but Cardassia is not loyal to him, and both parties know it.
  • The Unfettered: If Garak has a job he wants to do, you damn well better hope it's one that benefits your side, because he will stop at nothing to get it done. He seems to take great pleasure in reminding people of this, and ridiculing them when they don't believe him. He even directly calls Sisko out on this at the climax of "In the Pale Moonlight" for pretending otherwise, saying "That's why you came to me, isn't it captain? Because you knew I could do those things that you weren't capable of doing."
    Rusot: You're still a Cardassian, Garak. You're not going to kill one of your own people for a Bajoran woman.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: He knows Sisko won't be able to stomach the realities of what it will take to bring the Romulans into the war, so he pulls this on Sisko ensuring the Romulans do indeed enter the war on the Federation's side by virtue of keeping his true plan secret from even Sisko until Sisko (too late) works out what the real plan was.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It was only on Tain's deathbed that Garak received some recognition.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sisko's realisation of the true plan leads to an aggressive confrontation between the pair. After getting sucker-punched, Garak points out that Sisko knew exactly what kind of man Garak was, therefore Sisko knew (even if only subconsciously) that Garak would kill to get the job done—as he put it, to "do those things you weren't capable of doing."
  • Wild Card: Garak is loyal only to himself. He does care about his homeland, though, and as Cardassia falls under the heel of the Dominion in later seasons, Garak starts helping the Federation more actively in their war against them.
  • Worthy Opponent: To Worf, at least in terms of physical combat. After the two got into a brawl, Garak proved to be one of the few people capable of going toe-to-toe with him for more then a few seconds. Worf still beats him, but then softly remarks that Garak fought well... for a tailor. He later earned the respect of Worf and General Martok for facing his claustrophobia to help them escape a Dominion prison.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: One of the finest players in Trek history. If Garak wants to get you by the balls, no amount of deception or evasion will save you. He knows how to improvise on a bad hand and come out not just on top, but leave nary a clue of his involvement.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: In order to return home, Garak essentially had to assist in tearing down the central government and reducing much of his homeworld to ashes. He did revisit his childhood home and reunite with his beloved Mila, just as he'd dreamed, but the house was soon flattened by Dominion bombs and Mila was killed for harboring the rebels.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: He gets very disconcerted at the thought of people actually trusting him.
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    Gul Dukat 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/6074282a_2452_422f_a96a_ed6bd2d5d005.jpeg
Played By: Marc Alaimo

"I have unfinished business on Bajor. They thought I was their enemy? They don't know what it is to be my enemy. But they will."
— "Waltz"

The eventual Big Bad. His backstory involves overseeing the brutal occupation of Bajor. Wavered between Kick the Dog and Pet the Dog moments (especially with his daughter) before things transpired to make him nice and crazy, at which point he embraces his role as a villain, eventually seeing himself as a Dark Messiah, especially from the end of Season 6 onward.

For more information, see his page.

    Damar 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/586fd12c_03bd_4a83_966d_fc1bec16af83.jpeg
Played By: Casey Biggs

"I'd like to toss that smug little Vorta out the nearest airlock. And his Founder with him."
— "Sacrifice of Angels"

Dukat's right-hand man, whose minor role becomes gradually much more important throughout the show until he eventually becomes the leader of the Cardassian Union. He is a man both uncomfortable with power and increasingly dissatisfied with the actions of the Dominion.


  • Actually Pretty Funny: Thinks Worf killing a Weyoun clone is HILARIOUS, so much so that he shamelessly trolls the succeeding Wayoun clone over it.
  • The Alcoholic: In many appearances, he often is seen drinking a lot of Kanar. This nearly backfires on him during the occupation of DS9, when Quark gets him to spill classified information while drunk. This later morphs into Drowning My Sorrows, where he drinks to cope with being powerless to Dominion whims.
  • Ascended Extra: Damar was originally just a crewmember on Dukat's ship. Biggs originally thought he was just a glorified extra in his first episode. Then he became Dukat's first officer, then second-in-command of the entire Cardassian Union, then actual leader.
  • The Atoner: Enforced. When he angrily wonders what kind of people would order his civilian wife and son assassinated, Kira reminds him that at one time, people like him gave those orders.
  • Blind Obedience: As an officer under Dukat.
  • Character Development: Perhaps the single most extreme example in all of Star Trek.
  • The Charmer: Damar shares his boss' taste for extramarital dalliances. He tries sneaking his latest squeeze into Central Command, but Weyoun swiftly boots her out. A born politician, Damar is also seen smooth-talking Mila, who blushes and unfavorably compares Garak's manners to his.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: Damar goes out of his way to seek Dukat's approval. His interactions with Ziyal make it clear that he not only disapproves of her rebelliousness, but also show that he thinks she is undeserving of the attention that Dukat heaps on her, which may well play into his decision to shoot her under the auspices of treason. Damar is later wracked with guilt over this, but it's not entirely clear if he regrets his actions or rather, the effects it had on Dukat.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Damar increasingly retreats into a bottle as his powerlessness in the Dominion grows starker.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played straight and subverted with his murder of Ziyal. Dukat does, because he rationalizes it as being all Sisko's fault in the first place. Subverted with Kira, who doesn't, and Garak, who never mentions it, but circumstances require they all work together anyway. Word of God admitted that Kira and Garak's actors both wanted an episode where the three of them addressed the issue but the writers dismissed it because they were afraid Damar couldn't be redeemed to the audience if they did.
  • Evil Genius: Damar shows considerable technical expertise, converting DS9's deflector into an anti-graviton beam to disable the minefield, and implied to have a hand in the Orbital Weapon Platforms that devastate the Federation fleet during the First Battle of Chin'toka. This is especially notable given the men in his race are apparently stereotyped as being tech-illiterate.
  • A Father to His Men: He's utterly disgusted that Weyoun uses Cardassian troops as Cannon Fodder and is infuriated that any gains in the war will be handed over to the Breen. It's even more apparent when he leads the revolution against the Dominion, where he does is his best to support his men in the face of Kira's (deserved) criticism.
  • Foil: To Dukat. Dukat is a selfish bastard while Damar, though not above using his position for some personal indulgences, still tries his best to actually lead Cardassia. For example, Dukat switched from Central Command to working with the civilian government to save his own skin, while Damar sides with the Federation Alliance in a desperate attempt to save Cardassia. Dukat also rejects his Heel Realization, while Damar embraces his.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Positive example, he becomes a nightmare to the Dominion! Goes from a dull yes-man to the hero of the Cardassian revolution.
  • Good Is Not Nice: After switching sides in the war, he still remains a jerk to Kira and Garak. He does lighten up a little bit just before his death.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Once he decides to rebel against the Dominion he starts providing support to the Alpha Quadrant allies.
  • Heel Realisation: Damar's experiences rebelling against the Dominion give him some insight into what the Bajorans experienced during the Occupation. This realisation has a profound effect on Damar; he goes as far as to kill an old friend who suggests betraying their new allies, grimly remarking that the old Cardassia is dead.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    Damar: What kind of state tolerates the murder of innocent women and children? What kind of people give those orders?
    Kira: Yeah, Damar, what kind of people give those orders?
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Believed wholeheartedly that Dukat was a great man, even after seeing the consequences of Dukat’s Deal with the Devil. He also defended Rusot, who was a detriment to Damar’s resistance.
  • Jerkass: Damar is rude and snarky with Kira during the Dominion occupation of Deep Space Nine. He also insults Ziyal to her face and tries to forcibly take her back to her father, earning him a savage beating from Kira.
    • Jerkass Has a Point: He wasn't tactful about it, but Damar did try to warn Dukat that Ziyal was not loyal to Cardassia.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Damar died trying to give a rallying speech to his troops. Word of God is that originally he was simply going to die; but Casey Biggs decided he should say something. He still has no idea what the rest of sentence was going to be.
  • La Résistance: After the Dominion starts treating Cardassia like an expendable resource, Damar decides to rebel against them.
  • Living Legend: When the Dominion claim that Damar has been assassinated, stories start popping up that he faked his death and continues to sabotage the occupation.
  • Mook Lieutenant: To Dukat until...
  • Mook Promotion: Becomes the leader of Cardassia after Dukat goes nuts.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Unlike Dukat, who used Cardassia for his own selfish desires, Damar's patriotism is never shown to be anything but genuine. His switching sides in the war is because he realizes that Cardassia is doomed under the Dominion and its only hope is to join the Federation Alliance.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: With Weyoun. It's hinted that Damar tried bumping him off via a "transporter accident". Vorta being what they are, though, it didn't take.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: The Dominion murders Damar's wife and children as revenge for Damar's rebellion.
  • Puppet King: After Dukat is expelled, Damar is made leader of the Cardassian Union, but all the actual power is held by the Dominion.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: While Drowning His Sorrows after a particularly sore meeting with Weyoun, Damar catches sight of a mirror and tosses his drink at it.
  • Rage Within the Machine: Before officially forming the Cardassian Resistance and separating from the Dominion.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Before the last season, his Establishing Character Moment was killing Ziyal for siding against Dukat and the Dominion. Then, during the final story arc, he has a Heel–Face Turn, and ends up rebelling against the Dominion, thus proving that Ziyal was right all along. This ultimately leads to his death.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Damar probably hates Weyoun more than Weyoun's actual enemies hate Weyoun (at least until Damar becomes one of those enemies), and the feeling is very much mutual. Best exemplified when Worf breaks one of the Weyoun's necks and Damar can barely suppress his glee in his conversation with the next Weyoun.
    Damar: (cracking up) Maybe you [Weyoun] should go talk to Worf again!
    • Damar initially ends up having this working relationship with Kira and Garak once he rebels against the Dominion. They haven't forgiven him for Ziyal's murder and he still depises Kira. But both sides recognize they have to work together to stop the Dominion.
  • Undying Loyalty: Never stops being loyal to Dukat and Cardassia, not even when the former goes insane or facing immense odds in protecting the latter by betraying the Dominion. Ironically, it's a pep-talk from Dukat that helps inspire Damar to take the second action, even though Damar never recognizes (or at least doesn't acknowledge) that it was Dukat who started the whole mess.

    Tora Ziyal 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/38a105e0_8a88_432b_9fd8_657a95d88fd5.jpeg
Played By: Cyia Batten/ Tracy Middendorf/ Melanie Smith

"The Institute is having an exhibition of new artists next month and he might want to include my work. It's a chance to show that Bajorans and Cardassians look at the universe the same way. That's what I want to do with my work: bring people together."

Dukat's daughter by his Bajoran mistress, Tora Naprem. Despite her lineage, she is largely sane, and well-liked by most of the station's inhabitants.


  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: She falls in love with Garak right before Deep Space 9 falls to the Dominion.
  • Butt-Monkey: A tragic example: the poor girl could not catch a break. Born a war bastard, faces massive Half-Breed Discrimination, lives for several years as a Breen mine slave, her father tries to kill her twice (for different reasons each time), she falls in love with Garak only to have him flee the station with the Federation as the Dominion moves in, gets into a Bajoran art school but then leaves due to aforementioned Fantastic Racism, and is finally shot dead by Damar as a traitor.
  • Collateral Angst: She's killed so that Dukat could have his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Daddy's Girl: Ziyal adores her father, and even after he throws his lot in with the Dominion, she does everything she can to see the best in him. She is likewise beloved by Dukat, who is at his most sympathetic when they interact. In the end, however, Ziyal sees her father for the power-mad despot that he is and turns against him, a decision that costs her life. Nevertheless, Ziyal posthumously remains the apple of her father's eye, although much of this is simple self-delusion on Dukat's part; he likely sees her betrayal as a mistake on Ziyal's part that would have been corrected had she lived.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Her relationship with Garak. Her father hates him, at least because of the Interservice Rivalry between the Obsidian Order and the regular military, and possibly due to some Noodle Incident involving Garak and Dukat's father.
  • Half-Breed Angst: Tora Ziyal is half-Cardassian and half-Bajoran, which causes a lot of angst for her because up until very recently, Cardassians oppressed Bajorans, so she feels out of place on both planets. It says something that the only people she seems truly comfortable around are Kira, a former Bajoran freedom fighter, and Garak, an exiled Cardassian.
  • The Lost Lenore: At least hinted at; after Ziyal's death, Garak reflects that he never understood why she loved him and now he never will, but in the spin-off novels he retains a certain affection for her memory even years after her death, to the point of using her memory as a moral guide as he takes up a position of authority on the new Cardassia.
  • May–December Romance: It's never explicitly mentioned (and in fact denied by both parties) that she and Garak are interested romantically in each other, but you can tell they have a very close relationship. Garak, incidentally, is around the same age as Ziyal's own father.
  • Missing Mom: Her mother died when the ship they were travelling in crashed on a Breen-controlled planet.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: A tragic inversion - her death drives Dukat mad.
  • Morality Pet: Is this for Dukat. Ultimately, this ends badly.
    • Spin-off novels also establish her as this for Garak; after he becomes the new leader of Cardassia, he reflects that he will determine if he is doing the right thing by considering what course of action Ziyal would approve of and doing that.
  • Nice Girl: Unlike her father, Ziyal is as sweet and kind as they come.
  • Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: Half-Cardassian, half-Bajoran.
  • Odd Friendship: She's a sweet and honest half-Cardassian/half-Bajoran. Garak's a Cardassian who lies with every breath and used to torture Bajorans. They make fast friends.
  • The Other Darrin: Her original actor, Cyia Batten, was replaced after two episodes — partly because the creators felt Ziyal needed more depth, as she was becoming a recurring character, and partly because of her implied relationship with Garak, as Batten was felt to be too youthful-looking for comfort. Unfortunately the new actor — Tracy Middendorf — proved to be allergic to the prosthetics, and had to be replaced herself after just one appearance.
  • Ship Tease: Has this dynamic with Garak of all people.
  • Unlocking the Talent: Subverted. She was receiving mentoring off-screen for a rare artistic gift that she was deliberately keeping secret so she could earn a prestigious university place by merit rather than through her father making connections on her behalf. Experts consider her art to be a callback to both a great Bajoran artist and a great Cardassian artist. She intends to use her mixed culture and the fact people can see both Cardassian techniques and Bajoran techniques in her work as a way of trying to bring the two worlds together and the university professor thinks her talent is good enough for her dream. And then she's murdered.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Word of God has it that she is an inherently honest person. If asked a direct question she doesn't want to answer, she would change the subject or remain silent instead. The writers felt this would create an interesting dynamic in her pairing with Consummate Liar Garak.

    Enabran Tain 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/f019b104_4fab_413c_af17_d753a9ca3298.jpeg
Played By: Paul Dooley

"I think you'll find that when I have something to say, you won't have any trouble understanding it."

Head of the Obsidian Order for 20 years, he became the only head in history to ever survive long enough to actually retire. He was Garak's mentor and also directly responsible for exiling him from Cardassia. He comes out of retirement to lead a joint Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar task force in an attack on the Founders homeworld, believing it to too great a threat to the Alpha Quadrant to ignore.


  • Abusive Parent: He would discipline a young Garak by locking him in a closet. Garak developed a near crippling case of claustrophobia as a result.
  • Affably Evil: Bashir is surprised to learn that one of the most dangerous people in the galaxy is a jolly old man. A jolly old man who knows everything about Bashir and will kill him and everyone he cares for in a heartbeat if the doctor makes the mistake of crossing him.
  • Cruel Mercy: Tain states the reason he is willing to help Bashir save Garak's life is because Garak doesn't deserve a swift death. Tain wants Garak to grow old on that station, surrounded by people who hate him, knowing he'll never come home to Cardassia ever again. Although the later reveal that he's Garak's father, and that he thought he should have killed Garak before he was born for being a potential weakness but never did, does cast a somewhat ambiguous light on this justification.
  • The Dreaded: He was one of the most feared men in the whole of Cardassia.
  • Easily Forgiven: Despite exiling Garak and attempting to assassinate him, Garak still forgave him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He was an appalling father but he was also very proud of his son. Not that he was willing to admit it until his dying breath, however.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Tain was a ruthless, unforgiving monster but even he knew the Dominion was bad news and had to be stopped at any cost.
    • Despite being the ruthless head of the Obsidian Order, even Tain was taken aback by Garak's pre-exile vicious streak. Case in point: Tain once had to personally step in and stop Garak from manufacturing treason charges against a Legate...because Garak simply couldn't stand the man's voice.
  • Fat Bastard: The first heavyset Cardassian we meet, and a terrifying Retired Monster.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: He raised Garak to be a mirror image of himself, although it didn't work out quite as either of them had envisaged it would. Garak initially allowed it but indicates to Bashir that he has come to regret it.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: His cleverness is commented on by General Martok when explaining how Tain was able convert a life-support system into a communications console to contact Deep Space Nine.
  • I Have No Son!: Or, "You're not my son!", in this case. Even when Tain was on his deathbed, Garak had to fight tooth-and-nail for reconciliation.
  • Knowledge Broker: He calls it "keeping updated on current affairs."
  • No-One Could Have Survived That: He was seemingly killed when his ship exploded in "The Die is Cast." But Garak had his doubts.
    "Enabran Tain was head of the Obsidian Order for twenty years. If he can survive that, he can survive anything."
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever it was that happened with Dukat's father that Garak had a hand in. All we know is that he trusted Garak, and ended up on trial.
    • Also whatever caused Garak's exile. We know that Tain felt Garak betrayed him, but Garak angrily responds that he never betrayed Tain—at least not directly! Garak gives several different versions of why he was exiled over the series (not counting the obviously false ones like "tax evasion"), including letting some Bajoran street urchins go on the eve of the withdrawal. Another story had him shooting down a shuttle containing a Bajoran terrorist, killing the son of a high-ranking official who was also on it.
    • The novel "A Stitch in Time" reveals that Garak had an affair with an old friend who was married to a prominent gul. Tain ordered him to end it and Garak refused. The gul found out, confronted Garak, and ended up dead. Tain saw this as a betrayal and refused to help him with his legal troubles.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: Even in retirement he stays on top of everything, right down to knowing when people have made impulsive, last minute decisions to visit him and what their favourite drinks are. In the end, he comes out of retirement to head a joint Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar task force intent on destroying the Dominion before the Dominion can destroy the Alpha Quadrant. It does not end well. Unfortunately, he didn't realise his second-in-command (the Tal Shiar leader) was actually a disguised Founder who had instigated the entire task force with the intention of wiping out both organisations as a prelude to invasion. When Tain realises what's happened, it's too late, and he observes to Garak that he's clearly lost his touch because he'd never have been deceived prior to his retirement.
  • Offing the Offspring: His plan to return from retirement included assassinating the six men that knew too much about him just in case any of them ever decided to use their knowledge against him. The only one who survived the assassination attempt was his own son, who turned out to be more Crazy-Prepared than Tain had anticipated.
  • Properly Paranoid: It enabled him to remain head of the Obsidian Order for 20 years and become the first head to ever survive long enough to retire. Eventually subverted: retirement dulled his wits just enough for a Changeling to out-gambit him with disastrous consequences for both Cardassia and Romulus and, eventually, the Alpha Quadrant itself.
  • Retired Badass: Harder to kill than a cockroach, and exceptionally crafty even by his species' standards. One does not become the first Head of the Obsidian Order to retire without being both.
  • Retired Monster: The Obsidian Order is feared throughout the Cardassian Union. They can disappear anyone at will and regularly use Cold-Blooded Torture. When Tain comes out of retirement, his first act is to have his closest former underlings killed.
  • So Proud of You: He admitted it only with his dying breath. He also implies this in the incident where Garak is the only person to survive his purge of those who know too much about him.
  • The Spymaster: Notably, he is the only Cardassian spymaster who lived to retirement; this should give you an idea of how good he was at it.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Tain's failed attack on the Founders sets off a castastrophic chain of events that culminates with the Dominion's extermination of 800 million Cardassians and their homeworld burned to the ground by the end of the series.
  • Villain Decay: In-Universe example. Tain himself acknowledges that his years in retirement have dulled his abilities. At his prime, he would have seen the Jem'Hadar Bait-and-Switch ambush coming a mile away.

    Mila 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/457f40af_ffac_4804_a28c_34b7d121365c.jpeg
"I may not be a very good cook, but I knew how to keep a secret."

Enabran Tain's housekeeper for over thirty years, not that she knows anything about his spy activities. (And if you believe that, we've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.) Mila all but brought up Garak as her own and is deeply devoted to both men.


  • First-Name Basis: Her surname is never revealed in the show. A number of fans suspect this is because it is either Tain or Garak.
  • Killed Off for Real: She's killed after answering the door to a Jem'Hadar raid and thrown down the basement stairs.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Despite the person she works for and the life that entails, she's gentle, motherly and loyal.
  • Lethal Chef: Her stew is so noxious that Kira needs to take a long drink of water to get rid of the taste and Damar adds a lot of strongly flavored sauce to his portion to make it palatable. Mila even freely admits she was never much of a cook.
  • Old Retainer: She'd been Tain's housekeeper and confidente for over thirty years. She knew his business and kept his secrets. When he disappeared unexpectedly, she forced Garak to promise to do anything to help Tain, even though she knew the rift that existed between them. Even after Tain's death, she continued to live in and maintain his house.
  • Parental Substitute: The show makes it clear she raised Garak while he was growing up in Tain's household but doesn't claim she's his actual mother, though a number of factors and oblique hints have made fans suspicious for ages. Andrew Robinson's non-canon novel of Garak's back history does, however, choose to make her his real mother.
  • Secret-Keeper: She knew for decades that Tain had a son and who that son was, but she kept her mouth shut until long after Tain was dead. She also knew more about Tain than almost anyone else. When Tain killed off five of the six operatives who knew too much about him, he told the lone survivor of his assassination attempt (Garak) that he was thinking of also killing Mila because of how much she knew about him. Garak did point out that she had more than proved her loyalty by that point.
  • Servile Snarker: She may be a loyal servant but she's more than willing to stick her oar in, voice her opinion and is very free with pointing out the flaws in Garak's personality. In fact, serving the rebelling leader of Cardassia, one of the most dangerous secret agents in the entire Union and one of the most competent terrorist-trained Bajoran colonels, doesn't cow her at all. When she finds them lying around the basement in a fit of depression at how dismally their resistance attempt has failed, she snarks the lot of them for giving up so easily.
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Alternative Title(s): Cardassian Union

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