|Goss, a Ferengi male in 2366|
|Place of origin:||Ferenginar|
|Pel, a Ferengi female in 2370|
"Neither would I. But once you accept that, you'll find they can be a lot of fun."
The Ferengi were a warp capable humanoid species from the planet Ferenginar. Ferengi civilization was built on a caricature of free enterprise, where earning profit was the sole meaningful goal in life, superseding all other endeavors.
The Ferengi governing body, known as the Ferengi Alliance, was formed over a period of ten thousand years, beginning with the establishment of a system of currency, to their purchase of warp technology, and finally to its state in the 24th century. (DS9: "Little Green Men")
On average, Ferengi were shorter than Humans. They had orange-brown colored skin, blue fingernails, enlarged skulls, wrinkled noses, and sharp teeth. Internally, they had ascending ribs and upper and lower lungs, as well as an unusual four-lobed brain that could not be read by telepathic species such as Betazoids, although Counselor Troi was able to detect "deception" and "danger" from the Ferengi Bok. (DS9: "Bar Association"; TNG: "The Battle"; TNG: "The Price"; TNG: "The Last Outpost") Ferengi physiology was similar to that of the Dopterians, of which they were distant relatives. (DS9: "The Forsaken")
The Ferengi's most distinguishing feature was their large ears (called "lobes"), which gave them extremely acute hearing, sensitive enough to tell a person's species and gender, even through electronic distortion (DS9: "The Darkness and the Light"), atmospheric/altitude changes (DS9: "Starship Down"), and the decibel level of a sound. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior") The lobes of the Ferengi male were larger than those of females. The sensitivity of the ears, while providing great sensual pleasure, also made them vulnerable to pain and other problems, including severe infections of the tympanic membrane which, if left untreated, can become fatal. (DS9: "Bar Association")
The Ferengi generally referred to Humans as "Hew-mons" (pronounced "hyoo-mons"). There were exceptions to this, like Sovak who addressed Jean-Luc Picard several times as "Human" rather than "Hew-mon". (TNG: "Captain's Holiday")
Ferengi blood pressure was much higher than that of Humans. When Nog, Rom and Quark were sent back to 1947 and analyzed by Human doctors, one of the medics commented on Quark's blood pressure, "Two-fifty over one-sixty-seven. If you were Human, I'd say you were due for a heart attack." (DS9: "Little Green Men") Ferengi blood contained cells called pyrocytes. (TNG: "The Perfect Mate")
Otherwise, the Ferengi appeared to have a rather strong immune system. Quark was one of a very few members of the station's crew unaffected by the aphasia virus that struck Deep Space 9 in 2369. This may also have been due to the fact that Ferengi brains are very different from those of other humanoids. (DS9: "Babel")
Ferengi were known to have lifespans that could exceed one hundred years. Following a cosmetic procedure performed on Vulcan, Ishka commented that her lobes hadn't felt so firm in a century. (DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi")
When startled, frightened or in pain, Ferengi often emitted a high-pitched scream. (DS9: "Little Green Men", "The Siege of AR-558", "The Circle") Some Ferengi demonstrated a hissing reaction when threatened or in distress, not unlike an Earth cat. (DS9: "Sanctuary")
Society and culture Edit
Cultural development Edit
The Ferengi culture was centralized around the concept of greed and profit earning. As Quark once put it, "There is nothing beyond greed. Greed is the purest, most noble of emotions." Finally, the 10th Rule of Acquisition states that "greed is eternal." (DS9: "Prophet Motive")
However, the Ferengi managed to avoid many of the worst aspects of an evolving culture and their social history was notable for the absence of atrocities such as slavery or genocide, a distinction the Ferengi felt made them morally superior (though their definition of "slavery" clearly did not extend to their treatment of women). Ferengi culture slowly grew out of its early stages by introducing a remarkable economic system that developed from early bartering systems to become one of the leading cultures in interstellar commerce. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Little Green Men")
Unlike most other cultures who frequently idolize warriors or politicians, businessmen were the pillars of Ferengi society for millennia. This tendency led to the slow merging of business and political fields in Ferengi culture and that influence was evident in the near-universal application of the Rules of Acquisition, as both a personal and financial code of ethics.
The Rules of Acquisition provided advice that all good Ferengi followed, in order to lead a profitable life. For example, the first Rule of Acquisition was "Once you have their money, you never give it back."
In addition to the Rules, the Ferengi also recognized the Five Stages of Acquisition: infatuation, justification, appropriation, obsession, and resale. (VOY: "Alice") They also recognized these traits in other species; Earth's Wall Street was regarded with near-religious reverence by Ferengi. (VOY: "11:59")
The drive for individual gain in Ferengi society led to inventions that spread across many species of the galaxy. Examples included such diverse items as holosuites, synthehol and the popular drink Slug-o-Cola. (DS9: "Profit and Lace", "Body Parts")
The social norm of acquisition made Ferengi with other motivations remarkable to their peers. Leck announced he "didn't care about latinum" and sought only the thrill of the kill, and was described by Quark as an "Eliminator" whose "priorities are different" from "typical Ferengi"; Nog agreed with the assessment, and Brunt later described Leck as a "psychopath." (DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi")
Role of women Edit
Ferengi women were referred to as "females." They were barred from most aspects of society, such as not being allowed to earn profit or to travel. They were not even allowed to wear clothes and were expected to be undressed at all times. "Thinking about things", as Quark once put it, was not something either expected nor desired by females. Neither was having opinions or political views. They further were not allowed to have any claim to the estate of a husband should the marriage end, as all females were generally required to sign a waiver of property and profit, giving up any such claim. (DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs")
Laws and traditional social values relegated females to the level of property. Women had no valued role in society, apart from the propagation of male heirs.
If a woman was caught earning profit, she was forced to give back all she had earned and either sign a confession, admitting the error of her ways, or be sold to indentured servitude if she refused. Her male relatives would then have to make restitution. (DS9: "Family Business")
Marriage, like everything else in Ferengi culture, was a business contract, signed between the prospective groom and the bride's father, in which the father leased his daughter to the groom for a set period (usually five years) for an agreed fee, paid on the birth of a son. (DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume") Pregnancies were considered rentals under Ferengi law. (DS9: "Nor the Battle to the Strong")
In addition to being forbidden to earn profit and own property, Ferengi females were not allowed to wear clothes, leave their homes without male escort, or speak to males they were not related to. Their role as caregiver to the male children of a family was strictly defined. Mothers were expected to teach their children the Rules of Acquisition, and to soften their male children's food by chewing it for them. (TNG: "The Last Outpost", "Ménage à Troi"; DS9: "Life Support", "Family Business") Because of this, Ferengi males were often very protective and loving of their mothers, and this was even reflected in the Rules of Acquisition; Rule 31 was "Never make fun of a Ferengi's Mother." (DS9: "The Siege")
By the late 24th century, females made up 53.5% of the Ferengi population and some Ferengi began to realize that exclusion of females from business represented a significant loss of profit opportunities. In the latter half of the century, Ishka – Quark's mother – and Grand Nagus Zek led a movement aimed at reforming cultural traditions that had excluded women, starting by giving females the right to wear clothing. The idea was that giving females that right allowed them to have pockets. Once they had pockets, they would likely want to fill them with latinum, so they were going to need jobs. After they started earning latinum, they were going to want to spend it, which meant Ferenginar would expand its workforce and consumer base at the same time. Initial progress toward this goal seemed less than promising, but by 2375, with the ascension of the progressive Rom to the position of Grand Nagus, the likelihood of further reforms seemed inevitable. (DS9: "Profit and Lace", "The Dogs of War")
Because of the long-standing ban on acquisition of profit by females, any female wishing to engage in commerce had to either bury evidence of her involvement in a transaction or appear as a male. Notably, Pel not only altered the manner of her attire, but also disguised her breasts and the size of her lobes in order to be included in Quark's financial decision-making. Using this disguised appearance, she was involved in the first recorded business transaction between the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants. A contract would likely not have been concluded without her input, making it, at the time, the most significant financial achievement by a Ferengi female. (DS9: "Rules of Acquisition") Her skill in successfully negotiating the contract between the Ferengi and the Karemma later had a profound impact on the entire Alpha Quadrant. It proved the basis by which the Federation made First Contact with the Founders, which in turn led to the Dominion War. (DS9: "The Search, Part I")
Quark himself was later involved in an even more significant instance of cross-dressing, one which thereafter fundamentally altered the nature of Ferengi society. After Grand Nagus Zek attempted to give women the right to wear clothes, he was immediately displaced from power by Brunt, and forced to set up a government-in-exile on Deep Space 9. While there, Zek tried to convince top Ferengi businessmen to join him for a conference to demonstrate the intelligence of women, using Ishka as his exemplar. When she collapsed after suffering a heart attack, Quark had to fake being the female "Lumba", so as to impress Nilva, an ultra-conservative manufacturer of Slug-o-Cola. It being decided that simple cross-dressing was insufficient, Quark received gender reassignment surgery for the occasion, which was reversed afterwards. Quark's "Lumba" sufficiently influenced Nilva to call for and get the immediate reinstatement of Zek as Nagus. Zek's women's rights agenda therefore continued. (DS9: "Profit and Lace")
Rituals and traditions Edit
The Ferengi Attainment Ceremony was a time in Ferengi tradition that an individual became old enough to make his own decisions. A young Ferengi who was about to embark on his first significant business opportunity might auction off personal items that had strong sentimental value in order to raise capital for his venture. (DS9: "Heart of Stone", "Little Green Men")
Ferengi greeted one another by putting their wrists together, hands apart, and fingers curled inward, equivalent to the old Human custom of shaking hands (the natives of Gamma Trianguli VI had an almost identical gesture); Jadzia Dax and Quark regularly greeted one another in this manner. On the other hand, when agreeing upon a deal, the two Ferengi placed the back of one hand against that of the other, and pulled it away to the side quickly, as if to signify mutual distrust and understanding. (DS9: "Business as Usual", "The Magnificent Ferengi")
A Ferengi acting in some form of service or submission was commonly known to bow very slightly, face up, making the same hand gesture used in greetings. The cultural connotations of displaying open hands were echoed again in the "obscene" gesture of a person waving empty hands above his head. (TNG: "The Last Outpost"; DS9: "The Emperor's New Cloak")
A Ferengi entering another Ferengi's home was required to pay an admission fee of one slip of latinum per person. One was also required to sign a waiver, acknowledging responsibility in the event that something went missing following one's visit. A traditional greeting in such situations had the resident Ferengi welcoming the visitor to his home and reminding him that "My house is my house," to which the visitor replied, "As are its contents." (DS9: "Family Business")
The Ferengi had a legal tradition called plea bargaining. If a Ferengi required something, especially of importance, that had been taken by another individual, the Ferengi could give something that the individual required in order to have their item returned. (DS9: "Emissary")
Traditional Ferengi cuisine consisted largely of slugs, insects, grubs, and other creatures Humans would call "bugs." Many partook in the beetle snuff habit, snorting a fine powder of dried beetles. In one instance, Jake Sisko told Nog that he was helping his girlfriend, who was studying to become an entomologist, to which Nog replied, "What's an entomologist?" Jake explained that it was "someone who studies bugs." Nog, misunderstanding the science, replied, "Ohhh! She wants to become a chef!" However, only native bugs were considered edible, and foreign (off-planet) bugs were treated with disdain. (DS9: "Sanctuary")
According to traditional Ferengi beliefs, the hammer represented sexual prowess. (TNG: "Birthright, Part I") Actual sexual practices of Ferengi were not well known but oo-mox, manual stimulation of the lobes, was widely practiced and could be performed by non-Ferengi. In accordance with their male-dominated society, it was not unusual for a Ferengi to have female servants who would perform oo-mox for him in public, as a means of pleasure and to communicate his status by overtly demonstrating that he could afford such luxuries. (TNG: "Ménage à Troi"; DS9: "The Nagus")
Appropriately for a materially obsessed species, the Ferengi demonstrated interest in cosmetic enhancements by way of tooth sharpeners and surgical procedures such as lobe enlargements to accompany the usual conspicuous displays of wealth. (DS9: "Little Green Men", "Family Business")
Main article: Ferengi language
The Ferengi written language resembled a flow chart in appearance, with sixty-degree angles and text most commonly emanating outward from a central hexagon. The hexagon might remain fixed, possibly denoting subject or tense, as the text around it flowed, branched, expanded, and changed. (DS9: "Family Business")
Because their homeworld had an extremely rainy climate, the Ferengi had 178 different words for rain, in all its various forms. Conversely, there were no Ferengi words for crispy, as the condition is largely unknown to them. (DS9: "Let He Who Is Without Sin...")
Ferengi military personnel wore uniforms that underwent a major change in style between 2364 and 2365. Many Ferengi males wore a headdress, which consisted of a cloth wrapped around the back of the head. The name and purpose of this item was unknown. After Nog and Rom joined Starfleet and the Bajoran Militia respectively, they wore headdresses in materials and colors that matched their uniforms. (citation needed • edit)
Ferengi education employs a work-study approach with apprenticeships in a wide range of business and economic fields, throwing students into the cutthroat competition of Ferengi commerce; anyone who survives graduates. (DS9: "A Man Alone")
Mirror universe Edit
The Ferengi of the mirror universe are, for the most part, seen as far more compassionate and less greedy than their counterparts in the "prime" universe, often paying for this compassion with their lives. They were oppressed by the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance, during the 2370s, and many Ferengi are aligned with the Terran Rebellion. (DS9: "Crossover")
In Ferengi philosophy, the pursuit of profit at any cost was the guiding principle for all traditional Ferengi. With the invention of currency and the concept of profit approximately 10,000 years ago, Ferengi philosophy began to evolve toward the pursuit of material wealth. This guiding principle became so basic to Ferengi that it was eventually codified in the Rules of Acquisition. (citation needed • edit)
Greed, deceit, distrust, and opportunism were highly prized values among Ferengi and all were represented within the Rules. The Ferengi belief in conducting all business dealings under the advisory caveat-emptor, or "buyer beware", further reflected the pursuit of profit at all costs. (TNG: "The Last Outpost")
Though slavery (of men) was unknown in Ferengi society, exploitation was the rule. The formation of labor unions was forbidden, and indeed most Ferengi did not wish to eradicate exploitation but to become the exploiters. (DS9: "Bar Association")
If profit represented the ultimate goal to Ferengi, the loss of profit opportunity represented the ultimate punishment. Ferengi who broke the law could be punished with the loss of all property and assets. If the crime was deemed severe enough, the offending Ferengi's family could also suffer loss of profit opportunity, and could even be sold into indentured servitude to repay their debts – both literal and philosophical. The binding nature of contracts was considered a supreme law in Ferengi society and breaking a contract with a fellow Ferengi was a severe crime. (DS9: "Family Business", "Body Parts")
Capital punishment was not unknown among Ferengi but perhaps even more feared was revocation of a Ferengi's business license. Such an action prohibited other Ferengi from conducting business with the offender and virtually ostracized a Ferengi from his own society, leaving him with so few opportunities for true profit that death might be preferable. (DS9: "Body Parts") Should capital punishment become necessary (such as for going on strike), the preferred method is defenestration from the top of the Tower of Commerce. Not only is the forty-story descent effective, but it allows those in the Sacred Marketplace below opportunities to place wagers on where the condemned will land. (DS9: "Bar Association")
Regard for profit above all else, including life, was also evident in the Ferengi attitude toward dealing in weapons and other military technology. Though the galaxy abounded in weapons dealers, the Ferengi had an approving attitude toward the profession. (TNG: "The Perfect Mate"; DS9: "Business as Usual") Similarly, the Ferengi attitude toward personal liberty was superseded by desire for profit. Despite, or perhaps because of, never having endured slavery themselves, Ferengi showed themselves willing to engage in slave-trading and the capturing of aliens for slave labor if profitable. (ENT: "Acquisition"; TNG: "Rascals")
The Ferengi cultural emphases upon profit and wealth extended to spirituality, leading to a fairly robust and detailed religious life, even if the central philosophy behind the religion was relatively simple.
Ferengi spirituality flowed largely from their belief that the universe was bound together in the Great Material Continuum. A Ferengi who lived a good life (one who made a profit and accumulated wealth) was said to navigate the Great River of the Continuum. Such Ferengi were rewarded for their success in interpreting the wants and needs of this life by positioning themselves for success in the next life. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")
In the case of Ferengi, the mercantile belief in the finite but eternal nature of material accumulation meant that you could take it with you. Upon death, a Ferengi found himself before the Blessed Exchequer, to whom Ferengi prayed in life, and was evaluated on the basis of the profit earned while alive. A successful Ferengi was allowed to bribe their way into the Divine Treasury, where the wealth he had accumulated could be used to bid on his next life, under the supervision of the Celestial Auctioneers. An unsuccessful Ferengi might find himself cast into the Vault of Eternal Destitution, never to return. (DS9: "Little Green Men", "Body Parts", "The Emperor's New Cloak")
The Ferengi death ritual prohibited an autopsy from being performed on a deceased Ferengi. However, it was accepted practice for a Ferengi to auction off his vacuum-desiccated remains after death, providing the opportunity for their loved ones or enemies to own a piece of the Ferengi after his passing and as a final opportunity to raise capital for the soon-to-be deceased. (TNG: "Suspicions"; DS9: "The Nagus", "Body Parts")
The Ferengi Alliance was the main political body of the Ferengi. It was dedicated to the promotion of profit and commerce and was overseen by a Grand Nagus, who acted as both head of state and principal business leader. The Nagus' power was supported by both the Ferengi Bill of Opportunities as well as the Rules of Acquisition. (DS9: "Profit and Lace")
The Ferengi Commerce Authority, or FCA, was an agency of the Alliance concerned with business practices and the enforcement of trade under the Ferengi Trade By-Laws and Ferengi Code. Agents of the FCA were known as Liquidators and were governed by the Board of Liquidators. The FCA tightly regulated Ferengi business affairs in all industries and throughout the quadrant.
Additional government institutions included the Ferengi Gaming Commission, Ferengi Health Commission, and the Ferengi Trade Mission. (DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs"; VOY: "Infinite Regress"; TNG: "The Perfect Mate")
Generally, the Ferengi Alliance stayed neutral in the politics of the galaxy, since the Ferengi were solely interested in profit and making enemies would diminish business opportunities. In the spirit of free enterprise, most Ferengi business ventures were made without the knowledge of the government. As a result, while a number of hostile conflicts occurred between the Federation and the Ferengi in the 2360s, the Ferengi Alliance itself was not held responsible. Quark once claimed that the Ferengi had never fought an interstellar war. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar")
The importance of business was felt even in Ferengi government, as powerful businessmen could easily become powerful political figures, representing their companies the way states or worlds are represented in most other cultures.
The neutral tendencies of the Ferengi and their government were evident in the 34th and 35th Rules of Acquisition: "War is good for business" and "Peace is good for business." Counter-intuitively, this neutral status often enhanced the influence of the Ferengi Alliance in the galaxy. By positioning themselves as interested only in commerce, not only did Ferengi manage to avoid being embroiled in larger conflicts, such as the Dominion War; they also made themselves available as intermediaries. Ferengi trade representatives often accompanied other governments on diplomatic missions where trade negotiations might serve to open the door to more extensive relations between trade partners who might otherwise have difficulty doing business because of the political climate. (DS9: "Starship Down")
In keeping with their neutral tradition, the Ferengi did not maintain a standing military force and were generally considered ineffectual in most military matters. However, the role of DaiMon in Ferengi commerce was a quasi-military rank and the Alliance did provide the use of starships, notably the D'Kora-class marauders, for the purpose of mercantile exploration and, in some cases, defense of business interests. (TNG: "Ménage à Troi")
See also Edit
Ferengi history reached back approximately 10,000 years, but much of their early history was limited to legend. The most significant events of early Ferengi history were the creation of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition by Gint and the merging of business and political philosophies into the office of the Grand Nagus. (DS9: "Little Green Men", "Body Parts")
After the evolution of their commerce-intensive society, the Ferengi purchased warp drive technology and began to expand their commercial interests in the galaxy. Even at this point, however, the Ferengi were a mysterious race who were often only known through rumor. Due to their ambitious and covetous nature, many Ferengi have shown a tendency not to identify themselves to new species during a first encounter and to exploit such species' lack of knowledge about Ferengi philosophy and society. (ENT: "Acquisition"; VOY: "False Profits")
In 2151, Starfleet had their first encounter with the Ferengi, although they would not realize it for two more centuries. This initial encounter took place when four Ferengi marauders boarded Enterprise NX-01 after rendering its crew unconscious using a "Trojan Horse" device. The pirates attempted to plunder the starship of items they believed held value, but their plans were ultimately foiled by the Enterprise crew and the Ferengi's own greed. With Enterprise back under Starfleet control, the pirates were allowed to leave with a warning not to plunder any more ships in the area. (ENT: "Acquisition")
In 2355, while Captain Jean-Luc Picard was in command of the USS Stargazer, Starfleet had another encounter with the Ferengi, although again it wouldn't be realized until nine years later. While traveling through the Maxia Zeta system, the USS Stargazer was attacked by an unidentified starship, damaging shields. This forced Captain Picard to perform a maneuver in which the Stargazer jumped into high warp, making it appear to the attackers that the ship was in two places at once. This tactic was so highly regarded by Starfleet that it was given the designation "the Picard Maneuver". During the ensuing confusion, the Stargazer was able to destroy the enemy vessel, but the damage to the Stargazer was substantial and the crew were forced to abandon the ship. (TNG: "The Battle")
Official First Contact between the United Federation of Planets and the Ferengi occurred in 2364 in the Delphi Ardu system, where a Ferengi vessel and the USS Enterprise-D were trapped in orbit by a derelict outpost of the ancient Tkon Empire. Prior to this contact, there were multiple incidents of contact between Ferengi and Humans but, for various reasons, documentation of the Ferengi as an identified race was not recorded. (TNG: "The Last Outpost")
Upon first contact with the Ferengi, Starfleet personnel observed the species to speak with broken English, often gasping and hissing, and moving in a cat-like "slinking" manner. Within the space of two years, however, the Ferengi had adapted to Federation mannerisms and later encounters had the Ferengi speaking perfect English and moving as a normal Human would. A carry-over which was (and still is) common among all Ferengi is to call Humans by the name "Hew-mons" instead of the correct pronunciation. (TNG: "The Price"; DS9: "Emissary")
See also Edit
- "The Last Outpost" (Season One)
- "The Battle"
- "Peak Performance" (Season Two)
- "The Price" (Season Three)
- "Captain's Holiday"
- "Ménage à Troi"
- "Future Imperfect" (Hologram Only) (Season Four)
- "Unification II" (Season Five)
- "The Perfect Mate"
- "Rascals" (Season Six)
- "Chain of Command, Part I"
- "Force of Nature" (Season Seven)
- "Emissary" (Season One)
- "A Man Alone"
- "Past Prologue"
- "The Passenger"
- "Move Along Home"
- "The Nagus"
- "The Storyteller"
- "The Homecoming" (Season Two)
- "The Siege"
- "Rules of Acquisition"
- "Necessary Evil"
- "The Alternate"
- "Playing God"
- "The Jem'Hadar"
- "The House of Quark" (Season Three)
- "Life Support"
- "Heart of Stone"
- "Prophet Motive"
- "Through the Looking Glass"
- "Family Business"
- "Little Green Men" (Season Four)
- "Our Man Bashir"
- "Paradise Lost"
- "Bar Association"
- "Shattered Mirror"
- "Body Parts"
- "The Assignment" (Season Five)
- "The Ascent"
- "The Darkness and the Light"
- "For the Uniform"
- "Doctor Bashir, I Presume"
- "Business as Usual"
- "Ferengi Love Songs"
- "Soldiers of the Empire"
- "Blaze of Glory"
- "Empok Nor"
- "In the Cards"
- "Call to Arms"
- "A Time to Stand" (Season Six)
- "Rocks and Shoals"
- "Behind the Lines"
- "Favor the Bold"
- "Sacrifice of Angels"
- "You Are Cordially Invited"
- "The Magnificent Ferengi"
- "One Little Ship"
- "Profit and Lace"
- "Tears of the Prophets"
- "Image in the Sand" (Season Seven)
- "Take Me Out to the Holosuite"
- "Treachery, Faith and the Great River"
- "The Siege of AR-558"
- "It's Only a Paper Moon"
- "The Emperor's New Cloak"
- "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang"
- "'Til Death Do Us Part"
- "The Changing Face of Evil"
- "The Dogs of War"
- "What You Leave Behind"
Background information Edit
The Ferengi were initially developed by Gene Roddenberry and Herbert J. Wright. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 94) Veteran Ferengi actor Armin Shimerman stated, "[Gene] Roddenberry was the one who created the Ferengi. It was something he worked on." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, p. 124) Roddenberry, however, delegated the task of creating the species to Wright. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 36)
The Ferengi were invented in an attempt to fill a need for a new recurring adversary on Star Trek: The Next Generation, much like how the Klingons had provided a real threat to the Federation in The Original Series. In fact, the Ferengi were intended to take the place of the Klingons, who could no longer be used as regular antagonists. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 94)
After Gene Roddenberry tasked Herb Wright with inventing a new species to regularly menace the crew of the Enterprise-D, Wright set to work. Recalling that inspiration for the conflict between the Federation and the Klingon Empire in The Original Series had come from hostility between the US and the USSR during the Cold War, Wright sought an equivalent relevant to the US of the era he was living in, the 1980s. There was meanwhile a palpable feeling that the nation's financial sector was essentially full of greedy barbarians, a notion Wright transplanted into the futuristic science-fiction setting of The Next Generation. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 36) Rob Bowman offered, "The Ferengi sprung from the stereotype of agents and lawyers being cutthroat, greedy and wanting only money." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 35) Wright thus conceived the Ferengi as a species of profit-obsessed, ruthless aliens. He was especially fond of the contrast between them and the crew of the Enterprise-D, who had no desire or need for money. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 36)
Another influence on the Ferengi was what Herb Wright described as Gene Roddenberry's "sex fetish." In early first season discussions between them about developing the Ferengi, Roddenberry let Wright know it was his intention to make the species well-endowed. "He wanted to put a gigantic codpiece on the Ferengi," Wright stated. "He spent 25 minutes explaining to me all the sexual positions the Ferengi could go through. I finally said, 'Gene, this is a family show, on at 7:00 on Saturdays. He finally said, 'Okay, you're right.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 2/3, pp. 60-61) With Roddenberry's approval, the development of the new species got underway. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 36)
The word "Ferengi" was derived from the Arabic and Persian word faranji (written فرنجي), which meant "frank", as in the Frankish/European traders who made contact with Arabic traders; the word later came to mean "foreigner" in general, though in modern Arabic, it is generally restricted to the meaning "European". Thus, Robert Hewitt Wolfe stated, "Ferengi is, after all, the Persian word for foreigner, particularly for European." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 114)
Much time and energy was invested in creating the look of the Ferengi – lots more, actually, than had gone into the design of the original Klingons. Ferengi were envisioned as being short in stature and having faces that, to human standards, seemed grotesque. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 36) The Ferengi ears were originally big because it was imagined that they were especially attuned to hearing sounds. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 74)
In the script for TNG: "The Last Outpost", the first view of a Ferengi, as seen on the Enterprise-D's viewscreen, is said to be "large," and "menacing," though later descriptions of how the Ferengi look, up close, characterize them as "hairless humanoids with protruding cupped ears, dressed in strange clothing," and "fine-boned, small – looking far different and less menacing than the image transmitted to the Enterprise Main Viewer." The Ferengi accent is described as "alien, clipped," and "arrogant," and members of the species are also scripted as having "blue colored nails," and "beady eyes" which "'dart' around birdlike," although the Ferengi are "marginally blind" with "weak eyesight." 
The facial appearance of the Ferengi was designed by TNG Senior Illustrator Andrew Probert, and refined and produced by Makeup Supervisor Michael Westmore. (Star Trek Encyclopedia 2nd ed., p. 152) The design was tried out in concept sketches, in which Probert illustrated the species with massive ears and teeth similar to those of piranha. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 36)
At first, the producers advised that large, sharply pointed ears designed by Andrew Probert looked too much like oversized Vulcan ears and should seem more original. The producers were also dissatisfied with the Ferengi having a long chin which made them, in the producers' own words, "look more like a witch than an alien." Almost immediately, the makeup team modified the design. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 74) Michael Westmore recalled, "We took the drawings and eliminated the chin, and we changed from a batlike ear to a round ear [....] By rounding them off we still got a big-eared effect." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 26) In their reference book The Art of Star Trek (p. 94), however, writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens opine, "The loss of the pointed ears [...] reduced the aura of danger the drawing so effectively conveys." To give the Ferengi some more character, the makeup department next added sets of wrinkles across their large, bulbous noses. The addition of the military tattoos, representing allegiance to the Ferengi Alliance, was the final touch in the initial makeup process. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 74)
Even up to the time of casting "The Last Outpost", the Ferengi were intended to serve as a recurring nemesis. "That's how it was explained to me – it was told to my agent and passed on to me," said Armin Shimerman. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 54)
Once the early Ferengi makeup was designed, some test photographs of Armin Shimerman wearing a prosthetic Ferengi headpiece were taken. The original design of the makeup, as included in "The Last Outpost", pressed the actors' ears flat against their heads. During a sixteen-hour day of production, this became exceedingly painful for the performers. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 95)
The actors in "The Last Outpost" were directed to, in the words of Armin Shimerman, "jump up and down like crazed gerbils." This recollection was confirmed by Rick Berman. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, pp. 61-62) However, Shimerman even went so far as to describe the Ferengi themselves as "angry gerbils" in "The Last Outpost". (The Art of Star Trek, p. 94)
Although the Ferengi aren't canonically referred to as having poor eyesight, Herman Zimmerman was of the opinion that it still accounted for their beady eyes and, to compensate, their large ears. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 38)
When the Ferengi made their on-screen debut in "The Last Outpost", the general reaction was disappointment, with many realizing the species was no real substitute for the Klingons. As the TNG producers discovered, the Ferengi didn’t offer much threat. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, pp. 36 & 188) Hence, many people (including Ira Steven Behr and Armin Shimerman) consider the introduction of the Ferengi in TNG to be "a disaster." Indeed, Shimerman once commented that, by portraying his Ferengi character of Letek as very one-dimensional, he had done a "horrible thing [...] to the Ferengi." (Crew Dossier: Quark, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features) Additionally, Shimerman admitted, "It's one of the great disappointments of my life that it didn't flesh out to be exactly what Gene Roddenberry had wanted it to be." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 54) Behr rhetorically asked, "Was there ever an alien race on Star Trek that did not work more than the Ferengi when they were introduced?" (Quark's Story, DS9 Season 2 DVD special features) Likewise, Wil Wheaton has stated that the Ferengi were "probably the lamest enemy ever introduced in the history of television."  Maurice Hurley critiqued, "The Ferengi were just terrible. They were like pests. It was like making a villain out of a housefly." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 27) Hurley criticized further, "I still think the Ferengi were a waste of time. Goofy. No bushido involved; it was a joke. We had these arguments from the beginning. I was the lone voice screaming in the wilderness. If somebody's interested in gold, they're not much of an adversary. If we can make gold in our replicator–and we can–then it's like sand at the beach in Santa Monica. Who cares? Give 'em all the sand that they want. Get them out of here. They want gold? Here, take a truck load and get out." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 158 & 160) Rick Berman concurred that the Ferengi didn't "measure-up to the level of villainy intended." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 35) In fact, he believed they had a high "silliness quotient" so they were a "disappointment as a major adversary." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 41) On the other hand, Producer Robert Justman thought the Ferengi worked best when they were first introduced. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 21) Michael Piller remarked, "There's a big difference of opinion about the Ferengi." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 35) Nonetheless, TNG's audience was disinterested in the notion of Picard regularly having confrontations with a race of cutthroat capitalists. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 36)
Initial refinements Edit
A confluence of events, among them the Ferengi having ended up being regarded as silly, guaranteed that they were prevented from becoming major adversaries; the decision to radically change them was soon made. (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, pp. 61 & 62) Robert Justman reckoned, "If you wanted to keep the characters around I suppose that's what you have to end up doing – you can't have them always hissing at each other. I guess Rick [Berman] took the road that was the best way to go once they became popular." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 21) The elements of the Ferengi which were regarded as the most negative were modified or omitted in later installments. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 36)
The Ferengi's first return appearance, in TNG installment "The Battle", was intended to provide some insight into their culture; Larry Forrester, who devised the episode's story, wrote several scenes into his first story outline for the outing that featured the Ferengi aboard their own ship, though these scenes were later removed. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 41) Showing the Ferengi in "The Battle" involved adding a set of lower teeth to the makeup, giving the species an even more carnivorous appearance. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 74) For directing the installment, Rob Bowman was asked to portray the Ferengi differently to how they had been established. Consequently, before he directed "The Battle", he was "given some notes" which warned him about what the producers didn't want the Ferengi to be like. Noted Michael Piller, "I think the Ferengi worked pretty well in 'The Battle'." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 35)
Following their reappearance in "The Battle", the Ferengi were put into a temporary period of retirement by TNG's writers. "People were afraid to use them because it wasn't working," Michael Piller revealed. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 35) The Ferengi were in fact almost outrightly abandoned as adversaries. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 128)
The final draft script for the first season TNG episode "Angel One", dated 4 November 1987, named the Ferengi as enemies with battlecruisers near a Federation outpost. (p.8, scene 14) In the final version of the episode, the Romulans had become this enemy.
In subsequent seasons, the Ferengi makeup was enhanced with the addition of cheekbones for the individual characters, which were thereby made to look more realistic. The use of airbrushing to add shadows to the Ferengi in the later seasons resulted in them becoming more physically complex. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 74)
A TNG Season 2 two-parter which was entitled "Ferengi Gold" and which heavily featured the species was written by Gene Roddenberry but never filmed. In the storyline, the Ferengi would have utilized superior technology to pose as gods. (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, p. 27)
Michael Westmore made adjustments to the Ferengi teeth as the seasons of TNG were produced, having more time to experiment with the look of some of the alien characters in the series. In retrospect, he described refining the Ferengi teeth as "one of my pastimes on TNG." He recollected, "Ultimately, I decided to create unique sets of teeth for each of the actors. I began by taking a cast of the actor's mouth and then changing the upper teeth in the cast by covering individual teeth with acrylic pointed teeth. I leave gaps between some or bring others closer together. Sometimes I even make double rows. Then I take a cast of the lower teeth and align the upper and lower to each other–sometimes even shooting a tooth into a gap between the uppers and lowers–so that when the actor speaks, his Ferengi teeth will open and close naturally." (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 74) He noted, "Now every set of Ferengi teeth are like a work of art." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 2/3, p. 105)
The notion of involving the Ferengi in TNG Season 3 episode "The Price" was suggested by Michael Piller. With hindsight, he related, "When I said let's use them in 'The Price' I thought I'd present them as vermin, weasels, and play them with a little bit of fun." Even by the end of TNG's third season, there was still a large debate over how successful the Ferengi were. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 35)
As originally conceived by René Echevarria, the third season TNG episode "The Offspring" was to have featured "some jeopardy with a Ferengi," as Echevarria later phrased it. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 142)
Having sought to further refine the Ferengi as villains ever since "The Price", Michael Piller was extremely pleased with how they are depicted in TNG Season 5. He felt proud at having turned them into characters he believed were more effective, especially in the episode "The Perfect Mate". At the end of the fifth season, he mused, "They bring energy and humor to the show. It used to be that nobody liked them because they were too funny. They couldn't be taken seriously, but this year they've been very effective for us." According to Rick Berman, though, the Ferengi remained difficult to do. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 2/3, p. 78)
During the evolution of TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I", a part originally scripted for Quark was replaced with a new Ferengi character, DaiMon Solok. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 267)
Future developments Edit
By the end of TNG Season 5, Star Trek's creative personnel knew they would be focusing on the Ferengi much more in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Remaining under the supervision of Michael Westmore, the makeup laboratory was still entirely set up to produce Ferengi makeup for DS9. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 2/3, pp. 78 & 105) In essence, the series allowed the species a chance to keep evolving. Viewers, as a result, started to actually like the Ferengi. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 349) "Of all the creatures we've had, they're probably the most unappealing," stated David Livingston, "yet now they're part of it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 6, p. 30) DS9 re-imagined the Ferengi as a scheming, profit-driven, yet likable species – a change that had begun in TNG episodes such as "Ménage à Troi". As Ira Behr states, "Deep Space Nine and Armin Shimerman and Quark and some others, have made the Ferengis a race to be enjoyed and cherished." (Quark's Story, DS9 Season 2 DVD special features) Behr specifically believed the species was "legitimized" by Quark, "for the first time in the history of Star Trek." Regarding how they were changed, Behr observed, "We're able to do things with the Ferengi now just as we would with the Klingons. The Ferengi have more to them than just the fact they are greedy little buggers in space." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, Nos. 3/4, p. 107)
Shortly prior to portraying Ferengi brothers Quark and Rom on DS9, Armin Shimerman and Max Grodénchik discussed many details about the Ferengi, when the two actors first met. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 19) The casting of Shimerman as Quark was based on the strength of his performance as Letek in "The Last Outpost". (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 6, p. 22) In the role of Quark, however, Shimerman wanted to alter the depictions of the Ferengi, undoing the damage he felt he had done to the species when they had debuted. (Crew Dossier: Quark, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features) He noted, "The Ferengi have always seemed to be very broad and on the verge of slapstick. I would like to reel that in a little." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 6, p. 22) Shimerman elaborated, "My agenda is to make the Ferengi a race to be reckoned with. Not necessarily ferocious. We're not Klingons, that's for sure. But it seems to me that the Ferengi were for many years comic stock characters. I feel badly about that because I started that–I was the Godfather of the race and started those footsteps in that wet cement and it was a mistake [....] I'm trying to make them three-dimensional. To have a culture, an agenda, and a value system. It's not a human value system, but it's a value system that if you step back and take a look at, it's still ethical. They are very ethical about their unethicalness [....] I would also like [Starfleet] [...] to eradicate some of the blindness they bring towards the Ferengi and begin to understand the value of the race [....] I am just trying to make them as centered and real and committed to their value system as the humans are to theirs." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, pp. 110 & 124)
The depictions of Ferengi in DS9 included the brotherly bond between Quark and Rom. "Even though it was comic relationship about two brothers, we dealt with a lot of things that brothers and siblings have to deal with," Armin Shimerman remarked. "I thought we did a good job of that." (Conversations at Warp Speed) Robert Hewitt Wolfe remarked, "There is a lot of love between these two brothers, it just comes out in a dysfunctional way." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 114)
On DS9, actors preparing to don the giant Ferengi ears often consulted Armin Shimerman. "They always come to big daddy, especially the ones that have never seen the show before," Shimerman acknowledged. "I tell them what the race is all about, what the constraints and the freedoms of the makeup are, and the choices they have to make–how to use their hands, their teeth. It's a bit of a learning process [....] I have found that actors who only have TV and film training are a little intimidated by the makeup, but for those of us who originally went into the theater, it's what we wanted to do anyway; work with makeup and be a little larger than life." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, p. 110) Shimerman also proclaimed, "I became the prototype for all Ferengi that followed." (Conversations at Warp Speed) Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens wrote about Shimerman, ""He has brought a depth to the Ferengi fully the equal of The Original Series' Vulcans [....] With Shimerman’s input, the new Ferengi headpieces used on Deep Space Nine had extra folds sculpted into them to keep the actors’ ears from being crushed." (The Art of Star Trek, p. 94) Shimerman himself found the makeup troubling. "It was very difficult to wear the rubber head and the mask. It was claustrophobic, it was hot, and it was disorienting. One of the ironies is that the Ferengi had such huge ears and the actors who played them were made deaf by the makeup. It was a little like having your hands over your ears while you talk; you could hear but it was a faint sound. On hot days it was enormously hot inside the makeup. It was very, very difficult." (Conversations at Warp Speed)
It has often been suggested that the DS9 Ferengi are in fact Star Trek's representatives of 20th and 21st century Humans. For example, Ira Behr remarked, "The Ferengi, even more than O'Brien, are the closest to 20th century human beings on the show. They're us. They have the energy of 20th century human beings, they have the drive, they have the greed, they have the sense of self that we do. You can't trust them until you can trust them, and once you understand them, they're quite wonderful. And like us, they're constantly rising above their limitations." (Quark's Story, DS9 Season 2 DVD special features) In addition, Behr commented, "To me, the Ferengis are 23rd century human beings, you know. They have all the drive, the need to succeed, the greed, the self interest, the good and the bad of us." (The Ferengi Culture, DS9 Season 5 DVD special features) Similarly, Robert Hewitt Wolfe stated, "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. Obviously, the characterizing is taken to the extreme, and sometimes even made into cartoons. But the best cartoons are also us." (Hidden File 03, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features) Wolfe also said, quite simply, "In the Star Trek universe, the Ferengi are the most human people out there, because the Human people in the Star Trek universe are much more evolved than we are; the Ferengi aren't." (Crew Dossier: Quark, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features) Nonetheless, Wolfe also recognized the extraterrestrial nature of the species, adding, "I've said it before, the Ferengi offer us a unique and alien culture and yet, in the best of Star Trek traditions, it's all about us." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 114) Armin Shimerman reckoned, "The Ferengi are a number of those old [Catholic] seven deadly sins stuck together [....] By pointing out humanity's shortcomings, its nastier sides, and greedier sides, we will learn to see how ugly that is and perhaps how to eschew it in our lives." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, Nos. 3/4, p. 90)
In the writing of DS9: "The Nagus", the Ferengi replaced a syndicate consisting of various criminals from multiple different species. "I don't remember exactly why, but I came up with the idea of making it a Ferengi show," stated Ira Steven Behr. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 39) Regarding how he suggested the idea to David Livingston (who had devised the first version of the story), Behr reflected, "I said to him, 'Maybe we should do a Ferengi episode.'" ("Behr Necessities", TV Zone special #34) With the advent of the Rules of Acquisition in "The Nagus", not only did Ferengi avarice suddenly make more sense but so did everything about their social development. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 349)
Much to his surprise, Ira Steven Behr found himself directly associated with the Ferengi since writing the script for "The Nagus". He noted, "I am now identified with the Ferengi as much as Ron[ald D. Moore] is with the Klingons." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 39)
When Wallace Shawn began portraying Grand Nagus Zek in "The Nagus", he didn't know what a Ferengi was, so he asked Armin Shimerman what it was. Shimerman was somewhat concerned that the acting of the Ferengi in "The Nagus" might go overboard. David Livingston remembered, "My comment to him was, 'You can't go over the top. These guys are Ferengis.' To have those two high-caliber people in those two roles wearing those big screwy makeups with the big ears and funny noses was a treat for me." Shimerman himself remarked, "We had, I think, seventeen Ferengi running around, and nobody knew who each other was." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 49)
From its first season, beginning with the episode "The Nagus", DS9 tended to do one or two so-called "Ferengi episodes" every year. Armin Shimerman offered, "Since that time, there have been many Ferengi episodes where it has just been me, or Max and me [as the main characters left with the responsibility of making the episode successful]." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine, Vol. 19) Generally, these episodes were "comedy episodes", farcical romps that were far more cartoonish than anything else seen in the Star Trek universe, using the Ferengi to represent contemporary humans. "That's why we took such delight in the Ferengi episodes," Robert Hewitt Wolfe reminisced. (Hidden File 03, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features) For some fans of Star Trek, however, the existence of such episodes wasn't entirely welcomed, and the Ferengi episodes became something of a controversial part of the DS9 legacy. Reckoned Shimerman, "There are probably many people who grimace when they see there's going to be a Ferengi episode next week." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine, Vol. 19) Ira Behr observed, "The Ferengi just get ripped by people. There are people who love them, and a lot of people who hate them. They just find them silly." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 240) With that in mind, Behr further explained, "What I found for the most part was that the more 'passionate' fans were not big fans of the Ferengi episodes. The people I'd meet on planes who just watched the show, they loved the Ferengi episodes. They didn't see it as being untrue to the canon, or as, you know, doing the type of show that Star Trek is not supposed to be doing. They seemed to like them." (The Ferengi Culture, DS9 Season 5 DVD special features)
Meanwhile, the Ferengi continued to be featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The script for TNG Season 7 episode "Suspicions" describes the Ferengi as typically "volatile, argumentative."  Keeping the species consistent was viewed as important upon filming the role of Ferengi scientist Doctor Reyga, who Director Cliff Bole initially suspected was meant to be slightly more compassionate and less "oily" than the rest of the species. Bole later remembered, "Rick Berman said, 'Don't forget, they're still Ferengis." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 278) It took actor Peter Slutsker three hours to get into his Ferengi makeup, as Dr. Reyga, each day of filming. 
By the end of DS9 Season 1, Ira Behr was anxious about becoming too associated with the Ferengi. "I was concerned that my Deep Space Nine legacy was going to be the Ferengi and nothing but the Ferengi," he noted. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 102) Behr elaborated, "It's true I've done a lot of stuff with the Ferengi, but they're not really villains. I had this fear that my Star Trek tombstone would read, 'He really made the Ferengi work.' And there should be more to a man's life than that." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 97)
Ira Behr liked how the Ferengi are depicted in DS9 Season 2 outing "Sanctuary", with anti-Skrreean racist comments being expressed by Quark and his nephew, Nog. "There was good stuff with the Ferengis looking down on the Skrreeans," he observed. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, p. 102)
By the time Star Trek: The Next Generation was nearing its end in its seventh season, the fact that the TNG Ferengi hadn't been a success was evident. Were it not for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the last TNG episode to feature the species, Season 7's "Bloodlines", could have been the final production to ever present them. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 349) In their reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 (p. 349), Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann wrote, "A species whose culture was dedicated to lining their pockets just didn't fit on a series where the heroes didn’t even have pockets. Although meant to represent a serious threat, no one took them seriously. And although given humorous mannerisms, they weren't particularly funny [....] But that was beginning to change. As 'Bloodlines' went into production, there were quite a few Ferengi earning a living across the street from TNG’s soundstages. On Stage 18, where Deep Space Nine's beautiful Promenade set was situated, a different genus of Ferengi had emerged."
In DS9 Season 2 finale "The Jem'Hadar", a comment partly regarding the Ferengi, said by Quark to Sisko and expressed from the Ferengi perspective, highlighted the differences between them and Humans. "It was time to lay to rest this long-time feeling that the Ferengi were the 'failed villains' of the Star Trek universe," recalled Ira Behr. "I wanted people to see them as something else. And if we could show that Sisko, whose character has a lot of weight, would take what Quark says [about the positive differences between Ferengi and Humans] seriously, then the audience would take it seriously." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 155) Behr also stated, "Quark was always great in some of these shows, from 'The Jem'Hadar' on, to give the point of view of 'The Federation this, the Federation that. Well, we're actually as good or better. We're saner, we don't conquer.' They see themselves as a kinder, gentler people, trying not to get sucked up by the vast conglomeration of Federation forces, you know, it's big business, a superpower." (The Ferengi Culture, DS9 Season 5 DVD special features)
In DS9 Season 3's "The House of Quark", the Ferengi encountered Klingons, in an unlikely pairing which allowed the writers to explore aspects of both species. The writing staff obviously imagined Ferengi psychology as being far different to that of Klingons, such as not considering a fight to the death honorable. "Ferengi values would say that's a terrible way to go – so distasteful!" commented Robert Hewitt Wolfe. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 171 & 172)
The Ferengi was one alien race which, by the time Star Trek: Voyager was in initial development, had become an extremely familiar element of the Star Trek universe. Deliberately, much less attention was paid to the Ferengi in Voyager. (Star Trek: Voyager - A Vision of the Future, pp. 155 & 162)
Ira Steven Behr thought the Ferengi were treated in a particularly comedic way in "Prophet Motive", which he co-wrote with Robert Hewitt Wolfe. "They are fun to write sometimes, and we've done a lot with them compared to where they started off," Behr observed. "Of all the Ferengi episodes, 'Prophet Motive' was by far the lightest." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 92)
With Michael Piller having originated Quark as an occasionally humorous character, Ira Steven Behr continued the process, once he was promoted to becoming DS9 showrunner and executive producer, of humorizing the Ferengi. Behr further developed the psyche, incentives and society of his alien charges. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 349)
The Ferengi were on the minds of Ira Behr and Robert Wolfe as they concocted "Family Business", the second (after "Prophet Motive") of two Ferengi episodes in DS9's third season. "We wanted to do a show about the Ferengi that was more serious," related Behr. He, having an interest in sibling relationships and male bonding, used the episode to explore relations between Quark and Rom, the writers devising a physical fight between the two brothers. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 240) The next step in the "evolution" of the Ferengi was the introduction of the brothers' "Moogie" (or mother), Ishka. "Family Business" also revealed more naked Ferengi skin than had ever been shown before. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 240 & 241)
Ferengi anatomy resulted in their natural environment of Ferenginar being established as chronically rainy. "Robert [Wolfe] had this feeling that given the way Ferengi look, the style of body with big heads and ears and little eyes and no hair, that they would live in a moist climate," explained Ira Behr. In "Family Business", this decision allowed for more physical comedy between the members of the species, such as selling towels at the door for people to dry the rain off themselves. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 241)
Ira Behr approved of how the Ferengi are depicted in "Family Business". He commented, "It's about as pure a Ferengi show as you can get. This season we've accomplished two very good episodes for the Ferengi [....] I thought there was some wonderful stuff between Rom and Quark [in 'Family Business'], and the fight [between them] was good and surprising [....] The relationships were all nice [....] We were also able to develop Rom's character and Quark's character, and [...] it worked on a human level as well as a Ferengi level. It's family, and family stuff has to be dealt with." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 97)
Other members of production personnel also liked how the Ferengi are portrayed in "Family Business". "The show was as human as you can get with a show about people with those big ol' heads," stated Robert Wolfe. David Livingston offered, "The fight between Quark and Rom I thought was wonderful, flying over tables and stuff." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 97)
Multiple DS9 Ferengi episodes were directed by Rene Auberjonois, including the season three installments "Prophet Motive" (Auberjonois' directorial debut on the series) and "Family Business". "I think the fact that he got to do the two Ferengi shows is great, because he was perfectly suited to that material," commented David Livingston. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 92) Auberjonois himself commented, "As grotesque as the Ferengi are, they're also sort of adorable." (Starlog, issue #222, p. 29) He further admitted, "I've always found the Ferengi, although they can be quite grotesque, to be like fairy-tale characters." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 214)
In preproduction for "Family Business", Rene Auberjonois rehearsed principle Ferengi-playing actors Armin Shimerman, Max Grodénchik, and Ishka actress Andrea Martin, the latter of whom had to endure three hours of makeup application each day of production and wore a unique Ferengi mask, based on a stock Ferengi headpiece. The Ferengi makeup in the episode additionally included the backs of a pair of hands, two shoulders, and a back. Shimerman and Grodénchik were stunt doubled, for the fight sequence, by Stunt Coordinator Dennis Madalone and his brother-in-law, George Colucci. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 240 & 241) Auberjonois veered away from showing the Ferengi in "Family Business" in a typical manner by deciding to film them (and the rest of the episode) using low angles. "[That] isn't usually the way you shoot Ferengi, because they're small people, so you tend to keep the camera higher to accentuate the fact that they're small," he pointed out. (Starlog, issue #222, p. 29)
By DS9 Season 4, Armin Shimerman, Max Grodénchik, and Aron Eisenberg had a long-established practice of rehearsing together, in their own time, because they wanted to ensure they delivered their best performances. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 63)
In the writing of fourth season episode "Little Green Men", the idea of "revealing" that a group of Ferengi were behind actual historical reports famously purporting an alien visitation in Roswell of 1947 was thought up by freelance writers Toni Marberry and Jack Treviño. "They didn't pitch much more than Quark, Rom and Nog are the Roswell aliens," recalled Ira Behr. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 108) Representing the Ferengi as the alleged extraterrestrials proved popular with the actors playing them. "It was a great way of Star Trek [....] providing the possibilities that it wasn't Martians after all, it was Ferengi," remarked Armin Shimerman. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, pp. 61 & 63)
By the end of Season 4, Armin Shimerman felt proud of his and Max Grodénchik's efforts to "resuscitate and redefine the Ferengi" (Shimerman's words). "I must say, Max [Grodénchik] and I have come a long way towards doing that," Shimerman opined. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, No. 0)
A Star Trek: Voyager episode in which Ferengi appear is "False Profits". It depicts them much as they were to have been portrayed in the ultimately abandoned TNG two-parter "Ferengi Gold", with a group of Ferengi using advanced technology to pose as gods. (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, p. 27)
Prequel appearance Edit
Both Ethan Phillips and Jeffrey Combs, who each portrayed at least one Ferengi before appearing as a member of the species in ENT: "Acquisition", likened the Ferengi appearance to that of a human backside. Phillips once referred to the make-up as "the butthead!" Similarly, Combs declared, "The Ferengi are big orange butts." The likeness was also acknowledged by Matt Malloy, who referenced it while describing the teaser of "Acquisition", saying, "The back of my head comes up so that it looks like an ass – like someone's mooning the camera! People would know right off the bat, 'Oh, Ferengi! They're back!'" (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 26, 27 & 31)
Before being cast as "Acquisition" Ferengi Krem and Muk respectively, Jeffrey Combs and Clint Howard were considered for other Ferengi roles in the episode. Combs remarked, "I heard that they had been thinking of me for one of the more aggressive Ferengi." Howard mentioned that, when he auditioned for "Acquisition", his doing so involved "competing with several other guys for all the Ferengi roles." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 26 & 27) Though Howard tried out for the role of Grish and Matt Malloy read for the part of Muk, their casting was swapped. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 28)
By the time "Acquisition" was produced, the Star Trek makeup artists, still supervised by Michael Westmore, had built up a large stock of Ferengi prosthetics. Jeffrey Combs explained, "They have basic molds and heads and it costs them a lot of money to sculpt the new ones." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 27)
While Ethan Phillips and Matt Malloy were having their Ferengi makeup applied for "Acquisition", they sat beside one another. Regarding not only himself and Phillips but also the other actors who were portraying Ferengi in "Acquisition", Malloy later noted, "We were in the chair eight days in a row." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 30)
Though he played both Krem in "Acquisition" and Liquidator Brunt in DS9, Jeffrey Combs was careful to physically differentiate the two Ferengi roles. He later pointed out, "The brow-lines – that ridge above the eyes – are different and distinguishable if you're really looking [....] I looked as different from Brunt as I could. I even chose a different posture; Brunt was always a strutting peacock, and Krem is much more timid and shuffle-footed." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 27)
In fact, all the Ferengi-playing actors who appeared in "Acquisition" were given a lot of freedom to vary their performances as Ferengi from how the species had been established before. Clint Howard explained, "I knew what a Ferengi was – I'd seen Armin Shimerman's work, and I've seen enough of Deep Space Nine to know what they're like – but the producers and Jimmy [Whitmore, the director] said, 'These are different; this is the very first time in the world of Star Trek that we're going to see Ferengis, so be comfortable in whatever your choices are – they're fine, because it just means that everybody else has been wrong!'" (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 29) Howard was gleeful about the wide latitude given to the performers and said, "We were able to act like exactly who we were." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 44)
The performances of the Ferengi in "Acquisition" were influenced by such elements as the extensive makeup and how each of the characters had been written. Jeff Combs reported, "The parts were written very specifically in terms of who they were; you could easily tell one from the other, and they just let us run with it." Matt Malloy stated, "It was kind of over the top and we all accused each other of stealing from everyone else." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 29)
Even by the time of "Acquisition"'s making, the Ferengi make-up still had its difficulties. Jeff Combs admitted, "It's one of the hardest [makeups] that I've been in." Ethan Phillips found the Ferengi mask was "a lot warmer than the Neelix makeup," causing him to sweat more. "So that was horrific," he commented. Matt Malloy pointed out, "We were lifting stuff, dragging the captain off and unbolting his chair and walking it to the elevator. We're stomping around, having to push each other through little corridors and wedge through doorways and get in little shoving matches, and you do that three or four times and there's just no place for the heat to go [....] I was watching some scenes and thinking that there seemed to be a little delay when the guys were responding to each other, and I realized that the sound [had to move through the Ferengi masks and each actor's sweat before reaching their eardrums]." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 30 & 31) The Ferengi makeup likewise caused Clint Howard to feel as though one of his senses had been taken away. "It was like acting with a horrible head cold and I felt like my equilibrium was a little funny. [By the end,] I was ready to stop." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 44)
Whereas Ethan Phillips and Jeffrey Combs both played multiple Ferengi, Clint Howard hadn't appeared in Star Trek since childhood, when he performed as Balok in TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", and Matt Malloy had never been in Star Trek before. As a result, Howard and Malloy based their performances as Ferengi on those which Combs and Phillips delivered for "Acquisition". (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 44; Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 29)
Matt Malloy was ultimately happy with the portrayals of four Ferengi played by himself, Ethan Phillips, Jeffrey Combs and Clint Howard in "Acquisition". He opined, "I think it worked [....] They just had so much fun with these unbridled capitalists [....] [Compared with Quark and Ferengi shown in later chronology,] we're broader and meaner and, I think, funnier in that we have less awareness of right and wrong." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 31) In common with Ferengi who were depicted as living later, though, those in "Acquisition" were significantly short. "We were all the same size," Clint Howard noted, "and we were smaller than [Archer actor] Scott [Bakula] physically, so there were enough reference points in the episode that we weren't standing out like giants." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 44)
After some fans expressed complaints that the appearance of Ferengi in "Acquisition" apparently violated canon, Brannon Braga considered possibly featuring the species again in Enterprise. He suggested the series might later deal with the fact that, in "Acquisition", the crew of Enterprise NX-01 doesn't find out the name of the species. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 27) However, this plan did not take place.
Other notes Edit
The Ferengi makeup was generally accepted as one of the hardest Star Trek prosthetic schemes to endure. For example, an actor playing a Ferengi might suffer inhalation of glue vapors. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 29-30) Moreover, the large Ferengi ears ironically impaired hearing, rather than making it easier. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 6, p. 22) Matt Malloy remarked about the Ferengi, "They're fairly broad, and you have these top and bottom teeth that require a great deal of annunciation to get stuff going [....] You have this foam head on and, before you know it, you're sweating so badly that it's pooling around the base of your head and sloshing up into your ears [....] The sound has to get through the foam and then through your own sea of sweat to your eardrums!" (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 29 & 31) Laughing, Clint Howard exclaimed, "The irony of those big ears–no ear holes!" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 44) Howard elaborated, "Sure, the makeup's a pain; you're sweating a little more than normal, and the teeth make it hard to talk – when you put those dentures in your mouth it's a whole ball of wax trying to talk through them. You have to adapt to that." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 29) Jeffrey Combs relayed, "It's like the worst head cold you've ever had. It just goes on and on and by the end of the day you can't hear and there is a ringing in your ears and it really starts affecting your world. It's like being an old man." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 40) Combs further explained, "It's not so hard to get into it, but as the day progresses there is a cumulative effect. You can't hear in there, so you're like an old man with a pickle, and as the day goes on dementia sets in! Then as the long days pile up on each other it gets even harder. But you get to that place and you go, 'Now, wait a minute. I could be digging a ditch with calluses all over my hands. I think this is OK!'" Ethan Phillips complained, "The [prosthetic] head captures [the sweat] – it can't escape at all, so you've got an inch of water sloshing around and you have to try not to tilt your head because it runs into your ears!" Recalled Malloy, "[Phillips] said the breaking point is when it is Thursday morning at 4.30 and your skin is still raw from the day before and they're putting more glue on it." The makeup was so heavy that, inadvertently, the actors sometimes had tired-looking eyes, so it was best for them to keep their eyes wide open. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 30)
Despite the persistent difficulties with the makeup, everyone who played a Ferengi did so to the best of their abilities. "When you get in that makeup," observed Jeff Combs, "everybody rises to the occasion." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 29)
The performers usually cast as Ferengi had short stature. "I think they really prefer people 5'5" or 5'6"," stated Clint Howard. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 44)
Ultimately, Ethan Phillips played two Ferengi characters (though also featured as Neelix posing as a member of the species in VOY: "False Profits") and Jeffrey Combs also appeared as two Ferengi. "It's weird. I never thought I'd play three different Ferengis," Phillips concluded. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 42)
During the development of the Ferengi on Star Trek, their level of technological development additionally changed. For example, in TNG: "The Last Outpost", the Ferengi have technology on par with that of the Federation, but by the time of DS9: "Little Green Men", it was revealed that they are not that technologically advanced, and have bought a good share of their technology.
Max Grodénchik imagined the aspirations of Ferengi children, commenting, "I'm sure every Ferengi boy wants to grow up to be the grand nagus." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 223)
A Ferengi appeared sitting next to Chris Pine in a diner in a photoshoot for the December 2009 issue of GQ.  This Ferengi was portrayed by longtime Trekkie Francis, known for his NewFerenginar blogspot.
The discrepancy between the early Ferengi and the later ones was at least partly explained in the novel The Buried Age, a flashback novel looking at Picard's career between the destruction of the Stargazer and assuming command of the Enterprise-D. The book explains that the supposedly threatening nature of the Ferengi in early TNG was a product of disinformation; viewing the Federation's moneyless economic structure as a sign of insanity, the Grand Nagus ordered a military buildup and sanctioned the spread of malicious rumors so that, when they did make contact, it would be from a position of strength.
- Ferengi at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- Ferengi at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Ferengi at Wikipedia
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