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|Star Trek character|
|First appearance||"Emissary" (1993)|
|Last appearance||"The Dogs of War" (1999)|
|Portrayed by||Max Grodénchik|
|Posting||Deep Space Nine Resident|
Rom is a Ferengi, the son of Keldar and Ishka. He is Quark's younger brother, and the father of Nog. On the show he is often used for comic relief, but over the show's run the character grows in importance. In the early season he works at Quark's restaurant.
Max Grodenchik previously played two different Ferengi characters in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Captain's Holiday" and "The Perfect Mate". While working on "Perfect Mate" head of the makeup department Michael Westmore told Grodenchik about a new Star Trek series and that it would include a Ferengi as a series regular, and that his agent should check for casting call coming in a few months time. Months later Grodenchik read for the role of Quark at a large and busy casting call but did not feel the audition went well and did not expect to hear back and forgot about it. A few weeks later at a smaller casting call he auditioned again but did not think it went well that time either. As he was waiting disappointed outside the gates of Paramount studios, Armin Shimerman came over and talked to him. Shimerman had figured out that they were the last two up for the role of Quark, but he also noticed that the script mentioned Quark's nephew Nog and so there was the possibility of there being the part of Nog's father. In the pilot episode, he was hired for one day's work in the role of "Ferengi Pit Boss". Grodenchik was hired for one episode at a time and was contracted on a day-by-day basis for the duration of his role as Rom. He was hired again as a guest star on the fourth episode and was credited as "Rom". He would return to play Rom in thirty-seven episodes.
In the Star Trek science fiction universe, Rom was born around 2335, Rom did not have the business acumen typically associated with the Ferengi race; he was described as one who "didn't have the 'lobes' for business". He had a knack for fixing things but, until around 2372, he worked exclusively as a waiter and stock boy in his brother Quark's bar on Deep Space Nine (DS9). Rom frequently displays a lack of confidence, largely due to Quark's habit of belittling him. There is evidence to suggest[specify] that Quark was attempting to protect Rom from inevitable failure by preventing him from venturing into business for himself. Nevertheless, after four years living among Federation and Bajoran citizens on the station, and possibly[vague] inspired by his son Nog's admission to Starfleet (which made him very proud), Rom left the bar to become an engineer in the Bajoran Militia.
Odo once described Rom as "an idiot, [who] couldn't fix a straw if it was bent". These opinions, were only due to Rom's social ineptitude and meek, almost subservient, demeanor, and stood in contrast to his genius as an engineer. His talent play an important role in the Dominion War, in 2373, Rom designed and distributed a self-replicating minefield that blocked access to the Bajoran wormhole and prevented Dominion reinforcements from entering the Alpha Quadrant for several months.
His first wife, Prinadora, bore his son Nog. She stayed behind on Ferenginar when Rom first came to Deep Space Nine, but the marriage was later dissolved after she and her father stole the bulk of his profits. Rom eventually married Leeta, a Bajoran Dabo girl employed at Quark's bar, after a period of doubt about her love after having been burned in his first marriage.
When Grand Nagus Zek became less greedy after coming into contact with the Bajoran prophets, he founded the Ferengi Benevolent Association and appointed Rom chairman ("Prophet Motive"). Acting atypically, Rom took advantage of the opportunity and embezzled money from the charity.
Throughout his seven years on DS9, Rom underwent great personal growth as a colleague, parent, and in nearly every other aspect of his life and career. He also proved valuable, on several occasions, in helping his people deal with important issues facing their society. Not the least through the influence of his Starfleet neighbours, Rom becomes a more thoughtful and caring individual. In 2375, to the shock of everyone, including Rom himself, Zek appointed Rom to succeed him as Grand Nagus, becoming the new leader of the Ferengi and their economy. Rom's political affiliations are frequently hinted as being left-wing and more liberal than those of his brother. In the episode 'Bar Association' he forms a union of the bar staff at Quark's bar and quotes Karl Marx ("Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!") as well as demonstrating admiration for Miles O'Brien's ancestor, Sean Aloysius O'Brien, a union leader.
Quark, Rom and Nog do not understand or speak English/Federation Standard, but rather rely on Universal Translators implanted near their ears ("Little Green Men").
Rom's final appearance in the series is "Dogs of War", the second to last episode of the final season.
Rom appears in the following episodes:
Reception and analysis
Media scholar Daniel Sutko described Rom as a "lovable buffon". Though often employed for comic effect, Trekonomics author Manu Saadia deemed Rom central to what he considered the turning point in the "Ferengi arc" in DS9. He suffered because his considerable talents were unsuited for advancing in his society, but "Rom finally breaks free from the ideological constrains of his own culture, centuries upon centuries of traditions and learned behaviors. He discovers that he can actually do that, and that it does not kill him". As the Ferengi are presented as "sort of a parody of the 1990s or 2000s American acquisitive businessman", Rom's great transformation is appropriately exemplified by his formation of a trade union and even quoting verbatim from the Communist Manifesto. Likewise, Uwe Meyer stated that Rom draws on human ideology, both Communist and that of American trade unions, and that he is presented in a likeable way not the least because he is strongly influenced by the values of the Federation. J. Emmentt Winn in contrast saw the Ferengi's story arc, in which Rom played a major role, as problematic, as development towards the assimilation of the "other" into the dominant culture, the "right" choice only in the ethnocentric view of that mainstream culture.
Nadja Sennewald analyzed the roles of Rom and Quark in two gender swapping DS9 episodes. Rom is shown as generally unmasculine, emphasized in the episode "Profit and Lace" by presenting him as an expert for 'female' movement, and much better suited to imitating a woman than Quark, who actually has to fill that role. In "Rules of Acquisition" an envious Rom competes with Pel, a Ferengi woman disguised as a man, for Quark's attention. Rom is again presented as feminized in Ferengi terms, both biologically - he has comparatively small ear-lobes - and culturally - he lacks in business acumen. This three-way-relationship is repeatedly presented in filmic terms as a triangle where Rom is pushed to the side or background. In the end Rom re-establishes his masculinity by one-upping Quark, blackmailing him into transferring his bar to him, and by exposing and driving Pel away.
In 2013, Wired magazine said that Rom was arguably the best character in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and even in the entire Star Trek franchise. They praise how Max Grodénchik brought the character to life, presenting a nuanced and layered character over the seven season run. They note how Rom transforms from a comedic sidekick for Quark to Universe saving character that was much more important to the series. In 2021, Julian Beauvais writing for Screen Rant, thought that Rom was an honorable character for trying to take care of his family, using his engineering abilities to help defeat the Dominion during the war, and as Grand Nagus planning to reform Ferengi society to be more egalitarian. In 2015, SyFy rated Rom among the 21 most interesting supporting characters of Star Trek, remarking "he was far from your typical Fergengi" because he was not good at business.
- STARTREK.COM STAFF (November 12, 2016). "11 Things to Know About Max Grodenchik". Star Trek.com.
- STARTREK.COM STAFF (October 2, 2014). "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: DS9'S Rom, Max Grodenchik, Part 1". Star Trek.com.
- STARTREK.COM STAFF (October 3, 2014). "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: DS9'S Rom, Max Grodenchik, Part 2". Star Trek.com.
- "Spotlight: Max Grodenchik". StarTrek.com. 1999-03-23. Archived from the original on 2003-08-15.
- Babel (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
- Graeme McMillan (2013-12-11). "10 Reasons to Love Rom, the Greatest Star Trek Character Ever". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
- Hall, Richard A. (2021). "Grand Nagus/Ferengi". The American Villain: Encyclopedia of Bad Guys in Comics, Film, and Television. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-4408-6987-7.
- DeCandido, Keith R. A. (2015-02-17). "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: "The Dogs of War"". Tor.com. Retrieved 2021-06-01.
- Rottinghaus, Adam Richard; Pluretti, Roseann; Sutko, Daniel (October 2015). "The End of Material Scarcity: Dystopia and Immanent Critique of Capitalism". ETC: A Review of General Semantics. 72 (4): 347–358. JSTOR 44857463. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
- Saadia, Manu (2016). ""Never Be Afraid To Mislabel a Product"". Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek. San Francisco, California: Pipertext. ISBN 978-1-941758-75-5.
- Galaxy, Geek's Guide to the (2016-05-28). "The Economic Lessons of Star Trek's Money-Free Society". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
- Meyer, Uwe (2008). Fielitz, Sonja (ed.). We only want to be your partners: Star Trek: Enterprise - Politisch-ideologische Dimensionen einer Fernsehserie zwischen Kaltem Krieg und war on terror [Political-ideological dimensions of a TV series between Cold War and war on terror]. Kulturelle Identitäten (in German). 3. Peter Lang. p. 28. ISBN 978-3-631-56680-0.
- Winn, J. Emmett (2003-04-10). "Racial Issues and Star Trek's Deep Space Nine". KINEMA. doi:10.15353/kinema.vi.1046. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
- Sennewald, Nadja (2015). "Was bin ich? Geschlechtertransformationen". Alien Gender [What am I? Gender transformations]. transcript. pp. 177–180, 182, 187. doi:10.14361/9783839408056-004. ISBN 9783839408056. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- "The 5 Most Honorable Ferengi In Star Trek (& The 5 Most Dastardly)". ScreenRant. 2021-03-14. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
- Granshaw, Lisa (2015-05-08). "The 21 most interesting Star Trek supporting characters". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved 2021-05-31.