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Old February 5 2009, 06:09 PM   #1
Thor Damar
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Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Galaxy?

Part 1: of Mice and Klingons.

Out of all the Races that we see in the Star Trek Universe I consider the Cardassians to be the most interesting both in terms of storytelling and personality.
If you compare the Cardassians to the other major non-Federation species (I'm ignoring the UFP for the time being), you can definitely see a major difference in the characterisation of the Cardassians as a civilization and as Individuals. For example if we take the most famous race in Trek, the Klingons, we can see a perfect example of how an entire Civilization can be turned from a diverse group of individuals, Classes and societies into a one dimensional walking stereotype.

The Klingons that we see in TOS are a cunning expansionist Empire locked into a Cold War with the UFP and every time we see the Klingons they are matching wits with starfleet on the front lines of this war. What is interesting about these Klingons is the way that they are presented onscreen with some Klingons having a sense of humour, a keen intelligence and some even showing a level of corwardness! These Klingons are ruthless but are willing to use their common sense when necessary and work with the Federation as required and they also engage in spying and other underhand methods to achieve their aims (perhaps it's the Human Augment in them). In short these Klingons are a worthy counter-point to the Federation of this era. Indeed these TOS Klingons I would consider to be prototypes for the Cardassians.

Fast forward to the TNG era and thereafter and, through the power of the brain bug the Klingons have become cliche spouting, sword wielding space Vikings who randomly attack everything they come across. These Klingons are obsessed with their Honour and spend their whole lives trying to die with said honour(by killing lots of people in battle). The Klingons of this time have no tuck with garnering Intel and planing their tactics,instead launching sneak attacks and beaming into battle swords waving.
It's a shame that the Cardassian Union had to lose a war to these bozo's.

Of course I am discussing the Canonical Klingons that we see on screen; I have read KARD'S brilliant IKS Gorkon books and "A burning House" and I think that these books give the Klingon Empire a much welcome complexity.However the fact of the matter is that the Klingons have been reduced to a mono centric culture that severely weakens the fabric of Star Trek.
(As this is quite a long post I will split this essay into a number of parts each of which will examine a major Trek Civilization. Part 2 will deal with those pointy eared masters of subterfuge; the Romulan Star Empire)
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Old February 5 2009, 08:00 PM   #2
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal



Right on Thor Damar. You think alot like me concerning the 1979-now head-ridged ”Klingns”.

Wow! December of 2009 will mark 30 years of head-ridged, or, literally, bnehead “Klingns”

Nevermind aficionados expected to actually buy TNG “Klingons” having an interstellar civilization, they couldn't have any civilization in real life. Give me a break ST makers.

Your observation of TOS Klingons being similar to the Cardassians who'd come along decades later is dead on. I`ve thought that myself for many years now.

Cardassians, great examples being Dukat (pre-Dominion) & Garak, are very complex interesting characters.

Trek's PTB initially ruined the Klingons (appearance-wise) way back in 1979. The final demolition of Klingons (both their mentality & in terms of their believability) occurred on TNG. DS9, V'GER & other Trek just followed TNG re:“Klingons”.

I'll never care for or like ENT's forced explanation of non-headridged Klingons. That was ridiculous

The Klingons devolved from being the “original Cardassians” to being Space Cavemen. They're now the “Gungans” of ST.

In Broken Bow that “Klingon” who crash-landed into that fellow's barn's name should've been Honour-Honour Klings.

Here's typical “speech” (babble) by the Space Cavemen (TNG-type “Klingons”):

“Meesa H-O-N-O-R! Yousa H-O-N-O-R? Meesa honor Exskreez me! Yousa come up heres fight meesa you insult meesa H-O-N-O-R Hello daddee! It be bad bombin' but yousa must fight meesa to death,H-O-N-O-R! Meesa H-O-N-O-R! Yousa no H-O-N-O-R! Exskreez me!”

SW is stuck with Gungans & we're stuck with Space Cavemen
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Old February 5 2009, 08:16 PM   #3
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

The Cardassians are by far the most interesting race from Trek. I might even argue that they are more interesting than Trek humans are.
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Old February 5 2009, 08:16 PM   #4
judge alba
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

i agree with you on the klingons before tmp they were more 3 dimensional but after/ the movies when tng was on they became boring each klingon was pretty much the same as the next one
now the cardassians on the other hand seemed much more diverse and intreasting, they seemed to be a blending of the warrior klingons and the secrective romulans but each seemed differant between each person more so then the klingons. dont get me wrong i liked the klingons but they did become boring
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Old February 5 2009, 08:21 PM   #5
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

destro wrote: View Post
The Cardassians are by far the most interesting race from Trek. I might even argue that they are more interesting than Trek humans are.

Agreed, the Humans of the 24th Century are do gooding Commies. (Not that I've got anything against Communists, but Star Trek ones are a lot duller that the real thing!
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Old February 5 2009, 08:22 PM   #6
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

Well, I do think the Cardassians are more interesting that the Klingons, but then again, I never found the Klingons that interesting. Sorry. Individual Klingons could be quite interesting, but en masse, not so much.

In TOS, they are plain old bad guys, and the fact that they sometimes have a sense of humor and intelligence doesn't change that -- lots of bad guys in lots of genres have senses of humor and intelligence, so that isn't enough to make them distinctive to me. In fact...they kind of remind me of some of the bad guys from film noire. Philip Marlowe interacted with guys a lot like that, and Sydney Greenstreet would have made a fine Klingon official, now that I think about it (aside from the fact that he was dead by then -- that would limit his effectiveness). Some of the bad guys in Clint Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns were kind of Klingonish, too.

In TNG, yeah, it's true, they pretty much become intergalactic Vikings. Which is OK, I still enjoyed many of the characters (as individuals) and story lines, but I just got tired of all the posturing and blood wine and testosterone (or the Klingon equivalent) and so on. But even there, they could be quite interesting. I think Gowron is a very interesting character, for example.

I think the Romulans are great adversaries, too -- they've always been my favorites -- but I don't think they ever realized their full potential, and I'm not sure the new Trek movie is going to do that. Maybe, though.

I guess I like moral ambiguities -- at least in fiction, if not so much in real life. And the Cardassians and the Romulans offer lots of that.

Last edited by JustKate; February 5 2009 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Inserting an actual fact
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Old February 5 2009, 08:30 PM   #7
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

Aquehonga wrote: View Post


Right on Thor Damar. You think alot like me concerning the 1979-now head-ridged ”Klingns”.

Wow! December of 2009 will mark 30 years of head-ridged, or, literally, bnehead “Klingns”

Nevermind aficionados expected to actually buy TNG “Klingons” having an interstellar civilization, they couldn't have any civilization in real life. Give me a break ST makers.

Your observation of TOS Klingons being similar to the Cardassians who'd come along decades later is dead on. I`ve thought that myself for many years now.

Cardassians, great examples being Dukat (pre-Dominion) & Garak, are very complex interesting characters.

Trek's PTB initially ruined the Klingons (appearance-wise) way back in 1979. The final demolition of Klingons (both their mentality & in terms of their believability) occurred on TNG. DS9, V'GER & other Trek just followed TNG re:“Klingons”.

I'll never care for or like ENT's forced explanation of non-headridged Klingons. That was ridiculous

The Klingons devolved from being the “original Cardassians” to being Space Cavemen. They're now the “Gungans” of ST.

In Broken Bow that “Klingon” who crash-landed into that fellow's barn's name should've been Honour-Honour Klings.

Here's typical “speech” (babble) by the Space Cavemen (TNG-type “Klingons”):

“Meesa H-O-N-O-R! Yousa H-O-N-O-R? Meesa honor Exskreez me! Yousa come up heres fight meesa you insult meesa H-O-N-O-R Hello daddee! It be bad bombin' but yousa must fight meesa to death,H-O-N-O-R! Meesa H-O-N-O-R! Yousa no H-O-N-O-R! Exskreez me!”

SW is stuck with Gungans & we're stuck with Space Cavemen

Klingon Gungans!

Growon must be rolling in his Grave! I agree with you 100% on this I'm not a huge fan of the Klingons and the casual racism they represent.

"you are truly brave, you have a KLINGON heart!"

At least with the Cardies you know where you stand. (as far away as possible in the case of Dukat)

Btw when I get round to dissecting the noble people of Cardassia Prime I will be examining them through a case study of several Cardassians of note from Skrian Dukat to Cell Moset and comparing their character traits and what they represent.


(Part 2 on the Rommies will be up soon)
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Old February 5 2009, 08:44 PM   #8
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

JustKate wrote: View Post
Well, I do think the Cardassians are more interesting that the Klingons, but then again, I never found the Klingons that interesting. Sorry. Individual Klingons could be quite interesting, but en masse, not so much.

In TOS, they are plain old bad guys, and the fact that they sometimes have a sense of humor and intelligence doesn't change that -- lots of bad guys in lots of genres have senses of humor and intelligence, so that isn't enough to make them distinctive to me. In fact...they kind of remind me of some of the bad guys from film noire. Philip Marlowe interacted with guys a lot like that, and Sydney Greenstreet would have made a fine Klingon official, now that I think about it (aside from the fact that he was dead by then -- that would limit his effectiveness). Some of the bad guys in Clint Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns were kind of Klingonish, too.

In TNG, yeah, it's true, they pretty much become intergalactic Vikings. Which is OK, I still enjoyed many of the characters (as individuals) and story lines, but I just got tired of all the posturing and blood wine and testosterone (or the Klingon equivalent) and so on. But even there, they could be quite interesting. I think Gowron is a very interesting character, for example.

I think the Romulans are great adversaries, too -- they've always been my favorites -- but I don't think they ever realized their full potential, and I'm not sure the new Trek movie is going to do that. Maybe, though.

I guess I like moral ambiguities -- at least in fiction, if not so much in real life. And the Cardassians and the Romulans offer lots of that.

The last line of your post is why I am a fan of the RSE and the CU, it's the Gray spirit that runs throughout their portrayal in Trek that makes them interesting adversaries for our heroes. And that is what they are intended to be, the point I want to make is that they can (and do) become so much more than that, Damar being such an excellant example of this.

I find you opinions on the Klingons to be interesting because to me they will always be the thugs with the swords blathering on about honour yet at the same time presenting some noticeable individuals (Martok and Growon).
I guess the Klingons where more fun as the Villains and not in the "lets fight everyone and start the Dominion War" way.
They just do not have any Style and class I guess.
(You can tell that I'm not a big fan of the Klingons really!)
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Old February 5 2009, 09:30 PM   #9
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

the Klingons are hardly a bunch of one-note walking stereotypes.

Gowron is a political schemer who rewrites the history books to suit himself and wastes the lives of troops to make a potential political rival look bad.

Duras is a scheming traitor who allies with the Romulans to gain power.

Martok is a blue-collar working grunt who worked his way up the ranks.

Worf is actually more Klingon than most others because he lived outside the Empire and wasn't corrupted by it.

Klag refused to see his father because said father wouldn't regain his honour on the battlefield, preferring to lie in bed and await death.

Kurak was a warp scientist who hated the military because her work wasn't recognised.

Drex was little more than a bully and a brat.

Klingons rule!!!
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Old February 5 2009, 09:31 PM   #10
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

I'm a huge fan of the Klingons, and they are my favorite species.

That being said, I do think Cardassians are one of the most interesting species.

For anyone who enjoys learning more about them, I HIGHLY recommend the novel trilogy Terok Nor. It's a wonderful look into the Cardassian species, and our favorite evil doer, Dukat.
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Old February 5 2009, 09:35 PM   #11
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

From Capt. Calhoun: >>the Klingons are hardly a bunch of one-note walking stereotypes.<<

Also, Lursa is just cool -- I know, she was a very exaggerated character, but I like her anyway. How much? Well, I'll tell you. I don't normally name plants, particularly outdoor plants, but I had this beautiful rose bush that produced the most wonderful yellow roses...but it also had the most vicious thorns I've ever seen, and it had them everywhere but on the flower petals themselves. Everywhere. You could NOT touch that bush without getting stuck, usually stuck but good. And when you'd prune that bush, you'd end up with these segments that make a bat'leth look like a Tinker Toy. So...I named it Lursa.
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Old February 5 2009, 09:41 PM   #12
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

Ohhh yes, I am in total agreement with you on this, Thor! (As I think my user name and fanfic should suggest.)

I even remember going all the way back to "The Wounded," the first time I EVER saw any Cardassians...I was a little kid at the time, but I remember being surprised at the depth in those three characters, right from the start. Macet, Daro, and Telle had three totally distinct personalities: Macet caught between a rock and a hard place, and having to play politics with both Picard and Central Command to keep a war from blowing up (not to mention his understandable frustration with Picard's distrustfulness and reticence to ACT...oh, and the dumb-as-hell borderline-racist comment Picard made at the end about Cardassians not understanding loyalty--when in fact MACET WAS RIGHT), Telle who's just a typical thug...and then Daro, who really seemed to have a LOT going on under the surface and with whom I could sympathize almost immediately. I mean, I had the feeling that he would've said something really amazing had O'Brien not blown him off--and when that happened...the haunted look on his face just said it all.

My immediate thought, besides being amazed at the way these three characters were acted, was amazing. Minus Telle, these guys had DEPTH. They had restraint (yeah, I know Macet started out guns-blazing, but he wasn't so stuck on himself and some sort of stubborn warrior pride that he couldn't listen when Picard made his case). They were capable of regretting their actions. In that, it was immediately obvious this was going to be more than an alien-of-the-week race, and they were immediately leaps and bounds above the TNG Klingons, in terms of interest for me.

And I think since we got three different "Cardassian templates" right from the start, the race as a whole ended up being developed along those lines. While there were a lot of Telle-like thugs, to be sure, I think this set the tone right away for how the Cardassians would be written in the future.

The Klingons just struck me as flat--one-dimensional, and quite frankly, not played in a very intelligent manner, ruled by bloodlust. Why on Earth the Federation would actually ALLY with them and condone their actions (and not simply have an armistice) is still to this day beyond me.

And it was even more irritating, to me, when Jadzia got into their culture. I was much more able to understand Bashir wanting to find out about Cardassian culture. Me--I think I would enjoy reading enigma tales...much better than Klingon opera, which is probably a cross between Wagner and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre...
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Old February 5 2009, 10:19 PM   #13
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

^ Exactly what I'm talking about. The Cardassians have a depth that just isn't seen anywhere else in Trek.(The Romulans do not get enough screen time, the Ferengi became a joke etc).
There is a lot you can do with the Cardassians in the star trek Universe and I've enjoyed every novel and fanfiction that deals with the Cardassians. (I have had the thought of writing my own piece of fiction but I'm not sure where to set it, the Cardassian Revolution, the Klingon War or elswhere?)
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Old February 5 2009, 10:26 PM   #14
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

captcalhoun wrote: View Post
the Klingons are hardly a bunch of one-note walking stereotypes.

Gowron is a political schemer who rewrites the history books to suit himself and wastes the lives of troops to make a potential political rival look bad.

Duras is a scheming traitor who allies with the Romulans to gain power.

Martok is a blue-collar working grunt who worked his way up the ranks.

Worf is actually more Klingon than most others because he lived outside the Empire and wasn't corrupted by it.

Klag refused to see his father because said father wouldn't regain his honour on the battlefield, preferring to lie in bed and await death.

Kurak was a warp scientist who hated the military because her work wasn't recognised.

Drex was little more than a bully and a brat.

Klingons rule!!!

I think that you are right about those particular Klingons (Especially Klag and Martok) but when I look at the Klingon Empire all I is a dying culture obsessed with an abstract notion of Honour that will attack anyone at the drop of the hat.
I agree with Dax(Ezi) the Klingon Empire is dying and maybe it deserves to die.

And in closing;

Long live the Romulan Star Empire and the Cardassian Union
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Old February 5 2009, 10:26 PM   #15
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Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

For real insight into the Cardies, read "A Stitch in Time" by Andrew Robinson
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