*Could* The Ferengi Have Been Good Villains

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Emperor Norton, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Mar 22, 2001
    Burlington, VT, USA
    I think part of the problem here is that you have a species driven by profit interacting with a Federation that typically doesn't use money and that, at least at this point in the Trek franchise, was portrayed as generally not having any moral difficulties. Can you imagine anyone we saw on the E-D ever accepting a bribe?
  2. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
    It's possible but pretty doubtful ... it's just hard to make greediness seem really menacing or outrageous, definitely not entertaining villains, especially given the potential hypocrisy that most of the viewers and of course the show itself is profit-seeking. It would be really hard to portray *greediness,* gasp horror, as terrible without seeming childish (like the idea that since they're greedy capitalists they would also eat people) or hypocritical. The only way to make the theme worthwhile is to exaggerate it but probably more in ironic or comical ways.

    But it's hard to see how or why the Federation would interact with, let alone work for, them (I guess they could have products the Federation needs). The Ferengi could of course exploit non-Federation species but then that would be repetitively focused on the Prime Directive.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  3. Xhiandra

    Xhiandra Commander Red Shirt

    Apr 29, 2012
    I'm not sure they could've been. Sure, a race of ruthless CEOs would give us effective villains in a show set in the here and now, but in 24th century Trek? Not really. They're the type of threats that the Federation deals with effortlessly, unlike more ideologically-driven villains, who can still shake the Federation to its core.

    Even now, capitalists don't care about long-term profits anymore. It's all about the next quarter.
    Maximise short-term gains at all costs.
  4. JaxsBrokenHeart

    JaxsBrokenHeart Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    May 20, 2011
    The Ferengi could have worked if one of their strengths was how ruthlessly efficient their capitalism was in getting them weapons, ships, and general power in the Alpha Quadrant at cost of screwing over a lot of people. Countless planets/races working for them because of their debts, disaffected citizens from the Romulans/Klingon Empires or the Federation selling them secrets, even being able to buy genetic/medical enhancements from them (as the Ferengi have already done/acquired the research through financial means).

    Years before the Dominion they could have been the dark mirror to the Federation; the latter evolved out of self interested acquisition, while the Ferengi evolved into a newer form of it.
  5. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

    Mar 21, 2012
    The Ferengi could have worked as a galactic East India Company: a company not beholden to a nation, with territory, colonies, subjects, mercenaries and armies all on its own. An entity that operates as an empire without technically being a nation or state, beholden only to profit and expansion of trade.


    "The only trouble with capitalism is capitalists; they’re too damn greedy." - Herbert Hoover

    Not to get too deep in political issues, as those get nasty, but capitalists are not the same as economists. Economics starkly defines the short term and long term of the economy and marketplace. Both terms are not set time periods and can vary, but in essence, in the short term, there are limited variables and are things that are not variable. In the long term, everything is variable, and that dynamism of the economy and market is what allows for growth, expansion, and profitability -- in short, success. The problem throughout business history has been looking at the short term, and saying "we can't do this" or "we have to do this", while ignoring the long term (which is a real economic factor; this is not just slang) and the fact that they can do something or do not have to do something. Or that whatever the decision is will have negative consequences because they are being short sighted rather than doing what needs to be done or what can only be done in the short term given what is not variable, while planning out for the long term (as everything is variable in the long term).

    That being said, the Ferengi are not bad business people. They have ulterior motives in everything, and that motive is making money. But they will also do good things because of that ulterior motive. It is the same with any real world business. They will do what is economically logical. That being said, they do themselves become short sighted because they are so darned greedy. Oddly enough, "evil" Ferengi may actually be bad business people. Capitalism does not work under evil. Tyranny leads to market stagnation, alienating consumers, limiting expansion, etc. For example, slavery is actually very short sighted economically. In the short term, you have free labor. But you have to support that labor, feed it and cloth it to own it. If you do not, it dies or is weak and cannot work. You are removing consumers from the marketplace. You are stagnating labor, which will undermine market dynamism. And you create an elitist class and lock the economy and business environment into something of a limited dynastic rule of those elites, which undermines the mobility, dynamism, and therefore growth of the economy. On the other hand, evil Ferengi have a galaxy at their disposal. They can conquer, abuse, work to death, and drain the life force from a planet which is converted into profit. And when it is drained, leave it behind to do the same to any countless number of planets. And as an ancillary, they have trade partners and subjects paying them tribute and all the rest. But even that is short sighted, because they would earn more money in the long term simply doing good business with free people. Those people, through individual decision and freedom, make their own way and their own money, support themselves, and so forth, and decide to give some of that economic power to the Ferengi in the representative form of money. This is why the real Ferengi never had slavery, and didn't conquer worlds.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
    marlboro and JaxsBrokenHeart like this.
  6. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

    Mar 21, 2012
    What about the Ferengi as being like the Magog from "Andromeda"?

  7. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee Commodore Commodore

    May 20, 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    The Ferengi could have been written better if they were conceived and developed by people who appreciated business and actual drama, instead of being developed as ignorant caricatures to make fun of. Even in DS9, they're basically rats who live in sodden-wet hovels and scurry around chasing latinum and eating bugs.
  8. Lance Warren Baylis

    Lance Warren Baylis Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Mar 14, 2018
    People dismiss them as comic relief that got quickly ignored, but honestly TNG never stopped treating them as a danger to the crew all the way into the run. The Ferengi on TNG were comical but also consistently a threat to ship and crew. They hold the Enterprise and Hathaway in danger in Peak Performance, kidnap high ranking officers in Menage A Troi, are devious negotiators in The Price, take Picard for a run in Captain's Holiday, sieze the Goddamn federation flagship in Rascals, and that's without mentioning that the last Ferengi on TNG season seven was Damon Bok out for deadly revenge like some kind of big eared Khaaaaaaaan. ;) It was DS9 that retconned them as these basically ineffectual characters that have no danger potential. (Even then, Quark was much darker and less cuddly in the DS9 pilot.) No, it's a myth that TNG quickly decided that the Ferengi were not the new big bad. They remained powerful enemies right the way into season 7.