For many, this deliberate departure from traditional star trekking was the show’s greatest strength, and the show’s fans feel that DS9’s ability to delve into dark territory only made it richer and more complex.
The premise of the show was unusually intense for “Star Trek.” The distant planet of Bajor had, for several decades, been occupied by the murderous, Nazi-like Cardassians. The Bajorans, thanks to their resistance efforts, had finally liberated themselves, but their planet’s government was in shambles. In order to oversee Bajor’s reconstruction, a nearby Cardassian space station was handed over the Federation, and was staffed by multiple Starfleet officers. Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks) had to ensure the station’s repair — the Cardassians destroyed a lot of it on the way out — and work with the Bajoran Major Kira (Nana Visitor) to keep her planet from collapsing into anarchy.
Bajor was on the precipice of becoming a corrupt theocracy in its post-war years, but was held in check by the fact that Sisko had discovered a stable wormhole near Bajor that many of the locals considered to be a Celestial Temple where their deities, The Prophets, lived. Indeed, non-corporeal aliens lived the wormhole, and Sisko’s contact with them made him the Bajoran Emissary, a holy figure indeed.
Unlike previous Trek shows, though, “Deep Space Nine” was about longterm plans. Sisko, Kira, and the rest of the enormous cast weren’t on a short, simple mission of one-time diplomacy. They wouldn’t be able to clock out for the day after having, say, delivered relief aid. Saving Bajor was a mission that would take many, many years. And there were no ships to sail away in.
Indeed, the stationary nature of the series altered Trek’s very ethic.