The Ferengi (//) are a fictional extraterrestrial species in the American science fiction franchise Star Trek. They were devised in 1987 for the series Star Trek: The Next Generation before being used in the subsequent series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise.
When launching Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987, Gene Roddenberry and the show's writers decided to introduce a new alien species to serve as antagonists for the crew of the USS Enterprise-D. The Ferengi first appeared in "The Last Outpost", the show's fourth episode, which was set in the year 2364. The writers decided that the Ferengi ultimately failed to appear sufficiently menacing, instead replacing them as primary antagonists with the Romulans and Borg. Throughout the rest of the series, Ferengi characters were primarily used for comedic effect. When creating Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the show's writers decided to introduce the Ferengi bartender Quark (Armin Shimerman)—and subsequently his brother Rom (Max Grodénchik) and nephew Nog (Aron Eisenberg)—as recurring characters, again largely using them for comedic purposes. Ferengi characters were subsequently utilised in a single episode each of Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise.
Deep Space Nine writers have described how they saw the Ferengi as a satirical presentation of 20th century humans. Critics have drawn comparisons between the Ferengi and antisemitic stereotypes of Jews.
Star Trek: The Next GenerationEdit
The idea of the Ferengi were devised by Gene Roddenberry and Herb Wright. The new alien species first appeared in the fourth episode of the first season, "The Last Outpost", which was based on a story by Richard Krzemien and a teleplay by Hebert Wright. In this story, the USS Enterprise-D makes first contact with the Ferengi while pursuing one of their vessels, which has stolen a T-9 energy convertor. Both ships are immobilized over an unknown planet, leading away parties from both ships to beam down, where they encounter each other. One of the actors who played a Ferengi in "The Last Outpost", Armin Shimerman, would go on to play a Ferengi again in the later episode "Peak Performance" and then the Ferengi bartender Quark in Deep Space Nine.
The outfits of the Ferengi presented in this episode featured fur wrap-arounds. As weapons, they were given blue energy-bolt whips, which were subsequently dropped from the series and not used in later depictions of the species. Mike Okuda designed the Ferengi insignia to present the idea of "dog eat dog". It was colored green because of that color's associations with greed, envy, and money. The Ferengi ship featured in the episode was designed by Andy Probert, who used a horseshoe crab on Wright's desk as inspiration, with the model then being constructed by Greg Jein.
The Ferengi were reused for the ninth episode, "The Battle", based on a story by Larry Forrester and a teleplay by Herbert Wright. This episode was first aired in November 1987. In the episode, a Ferengi called DaiMon Bok gives the Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard the derelict ship he once captained, the Stargazer. Over the course of the episode, it is revealed that this is part of Bok's plan for vengeance, for he holds Picard responsible for the death of his son many years before. Forrester's first plot outline had featured various scenes aboard the Ferengi spaceship, but these did not make it into the episode. Rick Berman later noted that because of their "silliness quotient", the Ferengi became "a disappointment as a major adversary".
Star Trek: Deep Space NineEdit
When the writers were putting together the premise of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, they decided to introduce a recurring Ferengi character who could inhabit the Deep Space Nine space station which was used as the main setting for the show. The show's co-creator, Michael Piller, later noted that: "It was clear to me that having a Ferengi aboard Deep Space 9 would provide the show with instant humor and built-in conflict with the Federation guy in charge of the station". The show's creators developed the character of Quark, a Ferengi bartender who would, according to Piller, be "a constant thorn in the side of law and order, but who has a sense of humor about it. He'd be someone who could obviously throw lots of story dynamics into play." Piller and the others consciously wanted to play the Quark character off against the station constable, Odo (René Auberjonois); according to Piller, "the idea of Odo and Quark being at loggerheads was there from day one".
Interpretation as a parody of JudaismEdit
In the book Religions of Star Trek, Ross S. Kraemer wrote that "Ferengi religion seems almost a parody of Judaism. Critics have pointed out a disturbing correlation between Ferengi attributes (love of profit that overrides communal decency; the large, sexualized head feature, in this case ears) and negative Jewish stereotypes." Commentator Jonah Goldberg wrote – in a generally tendentious article – that Ferengi were portrayed in The Next Generation as "runaway capitalists with bullwhips who looked like a mix between Nazi caricatures of Jews and the original Nosferatu."
Ira Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe state on the Deep Space Nine DVD commentary[which?] that the Ferengi are meant to be 20th-century humans. "The Ferengi are us. That's the gag, the Ferengis are humans. They're more human than the humans on Star Trek because they are so screwed-up, and they are so dysfunctional. They're regular people. And that was the fun of that." The name Ferengi was coined based on the Persian term Ferenghi, used throughout Asia (compare older Feringhee), meaning "foreigners" or "Europeans".
- Nemecek 1995, p. 38.
- Nemecek 1995, p. 37.
- Nemecek 1995, pp. 37–38.
- Nemecek 1995, pp. 40–41.
- Nemecek 1995, p. 40.
- Nemecek 1995, p. 41.
- Erdmann & Block 2000, p. 14.
- "Chapter 5: What Happens When You Die?", pg. 180, Ross S. Kraemer, Religions of Star Trek, 2001
- "It's Time For A Confession", Jonah Goldberg, The Corner, September 28, 2007
- Star Trek writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "Ferengi is, after all, the Persian word for foreigner, particularly for European." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 114)