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Trials and Tribble-ations

Production no.: 503
Teleplay by: Ronald D. Moore & René Echevarria
Story by: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: Jonathan West
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: November 2, 1996
Jack Blessing ................
James W. Jansen ..........
Charlie Brill ..................
Leslie Ackerman ...........
Charles S. Chun ............
Deirdre L. Imershein ..... 

Appearing in footage: 
William Shatner .............
Leonard Nimoy .............
DeForest Kelley ............
James Doohan ..............
Nichelle Nichols ............
Walter Koenig ..............
Stanley Adams ..............
Paul Baxley ..................
Whit Bissell ..................
Charlie Brill ..................
Michael Pataki ..............
Guy Raymond ...............
David Ross ...................
William Schallert ...........

Lt. Watley 

Cyrano Jones

Two men arrive at DS9, their dress conservative, their expressions grim. They are Dulmur and Lucsly, from Starfleet's Department of Temporal Investigations, and the DS9 officers have been expecting them. "I guess you boys from Temporal Investigations are always on time," Dax jokes, but the two don't even crack a smile. They head into Sisko's office.

"Where do you want to start?" the captain asks. "The beginning," answers Dulmur; "If there is such a thing," Lucsly chimes in somberly. Dulmur asks, "Captain, why did you take the Defiant back in time?" "It was an accident," replies Sisko. "So you're not contending it was a predestination paradox?" "A time loop -- that you were meant to go back into the past?" Sisko says no. "Good." "We hate those." When they ask what happened, Sisko tells them, "This may take some time." "Is that a joke?" demands Dulmur. "No." "Good." "We hate those too."

Sisko launches into his narration. Two weeks ago, the Defiant went to Cardassia Prime to transport an Orb which the Cardassian government was returning to Bajor. This Orb was the Orb of Time, although they didn't know it at first. Sisko had it secured on the ship, intending to bring it back to Bajor for authentication. And while the Defiant was at Cardassia, they took on a passenger.


Worf brings the passenger into the Defiant's mess hall. He is a human merchant who introduces himself as Barry Waddle, and greets Bashir and O'Brien with pleasure at seeing other humans again; he was trapped on Cardassia when the Klingons attacked. "After six months, I was hoping the Klingons would invade. At least they know how to make coffee, even if they are foul-smelling barbarians. Sorry," he says sheepishly to Worf, and slinks off. O'Brien advises Worf not to take it personally. "I rather like the way you smell," Bashir offers. "Sort of an earthy, peaty aroma," O'Brien agrees. "With a touch of lilac," Bashir adds.

Cloaked to avoid detection by the Klingons, the Defiant heads home and reaches the halfway point. O'Brien is joking with Dax about Worf when he suddenly detects a massive surge of chroniton radiation. In the middle of his sentence, everything becomes distorted, and there is a strange white flash. Then things return to normal, and the crew regain their bearings. They have dropped out of warp; Dax reports that somehow they are now over 200 light years from their last position. The ship decloaks, and someone activates the transporter. "Deactivate it and get us back under cloak," Sisko orders. O'Brien reports that he's picking up another ship dead ahead. Slowly he brings the viewscreen back online. The static clears, and the Defiant crew find themselves staring in shock at none other than the original starship Enterprise.


"His ship," Dulmur intones darkly, referring to none other than Captain James T. Kirk. "Seventeen separate temporal violations," Lucsly notes. "The biggest file on record." "The man was a menace," Dulmur opines. The date of the Defiant's arrival, they learn, was 4523.7 (105 years, 1 month, 12 days ago; a Friday). Sisko tells them that the Enterprise was orbiting a deep space station, K-7, near the Klingon border at the time.


It turns out that someone had stunned the deputy guarding the Orb, and broken into the cabin. A little investigation reveals that the culprit was Waddle -- or, actually, Arne Darvin, a Klingon surgically altered to appear human, who apparently boarded the Defiant in order to gain access to the Orb. In this time period, Darvin's younger self is on K-7, posing as an assistant to a Federation official, his mission to poison a shipment of grain currently being stored on the station, in order to derail Federation colonization efforts. In 18 hours, however, Darvin will be exposed by Kirk, and arrested. The records show that Darvin becomes an outcast from the Klingon Empire, spending the next hundred years posing as a human merchant until he is finally trapped in Cardassian space, and hears about the Orb of Time.

The officers speculate over just what Darvin plans to do -- warn his younger self, or perhaps kill Kirk. "The bottom line is, we have to find Darvin and stop him before he has a chance to alter history," Sisko says. Unfortunately, Darvin wiped the transporter log when he beamed down, so they have no way of knowing if he is on the Enterprise or the station. "We'll have to search both without raising suspicion or altering the timeline ourselves. The last thing I want is a visit from Temporal Investigations when we get home." "I suppose we ought to find a way to blend in," Bashir says.

And so, all the senior officers except Kira (who will be in command of the Defiant) disguise themselves for the mission. Sisko meets up with O'Brien and Bashir; all are in period Starfleet uniforms and hairstyles (well, Sisko leaves his head as it was). Bashir is a bit confused over the change in the Starfleet color code over the last century. "I'm a doctor, not an historian." Sisko explains, "In the old days, operations officers wore red, command officers wore gold, and -- " "And women wore less," Dax chimes in, joining them and modeling her miniskirt and beehive. "I think I'm going to like history," Bashir comments.

As for Odo and Worf, they are posing as civilian traders, Worf with a turban to cover his ridges. The group gathers in the transporter room. If they time it right, they can decloak the Defiant for three seconds, beam down, and recloak, avoiding the Enterprise's old-style duotronic sensor scans. On the Enterprise, Sisko and Dax will search together, as will Bashir and O'Brien, while Odo and Worf take the station. Sisko reminds them to try to avoid contact with the people of this time period; and with that said, they start beaming. Sisko and Dax materialize on the Enterprise (inside a turbolift) and move off.

Bashir and O'Brien also materialize in a turbolift, and have a little trouble getting it to respond to the voice command until a pretty lieutenant boards the lift, grabs a handle on the wall, and then gives her command. "I won't tell anyone if you don't," Bashir whispers. Meanwhile, Sisko and Dax find a auxiliary communications juncture, where Sisko will pretend to do repairs while Dax scans. She enjoys getting to use one of the old-fashioned tricorders again. "I love classic twenty-third century design." Sisko has to shoot her a look to get her mind back on business.

On K-7, Odo enters the bar and surreptitiously scans for Darwin. Ensign Chekov and Lt. Uhura of the Enterprise enter, as the bartender dickers with the merchant Cyrano Jones. A waitress approaches Odo, who orders a raktajino. The waitress is curious. "You're the second person today who ordered that. What is it?" "Klingon coffee," replies Odo, and alertly asks who the first person was. She tells him it was an older human man; also, that they don't carry Klingon beverages. After changing his order, Odo sits barely listening to the conversation at the bar, until Jones pulls out an odd-looking little headless, legless, furry creature which makes a loud purring, cooing sound. Uhura is enchanted. "Ooh. What is it? Is it alive? May I hold it?" Across the room, Odo watches, intrigued.

O'Brien and Bashir are at an open panel where the Chief is supposed to pretend to work while the doctor scans. "I'm afraid to touch anything," O'Brien admits. "It's all cross-circuited and patched together. I can't make head nor tails of it." "Sounds like one of your repair jobs," Bashir cracks. As he is scanning, a young engineer asks what they're doing here. "Scotty told me to do this." O'Brien and Bashir are obliged to bluff. The engineer, however, is puzzled rather than suspicious, and seems to buy into their story that Bashir is here to do a study on job-related stress. O'Brien has to pretend to know what he's doing. "Well, obviously the first thing we should do is to take this transtator here, and -- " He pulls said component from its socket, and the corridor's power goes off. " -- And leave it exactly where it is," O'Brien finishes, putting it back; the power comes back on. "The job pressure's been getting to him," Bashir explains, and the engineer nods understandingly. "Hope you feel better," he tells O'Brien as the other two move off.

Worf joins Odo at his table to report on his progress, but his attention is caught by a strange trilling noise from Odo's lap. "Soothing, isn't it?" Odo says. He pulls out the source of the sound. "The bartender called it -- " "A tribble," Worf finishes, recoiling in disgust, as the tribble squeals in alarm at the mere sight of him.

Reluctantly Worf sits down; Odo takes back his new pet and calms it, explaining that he got it from a man named Cyrano Jones. "He told me tribbles like everyone, but this one doesn't seem to like you." "The feeling is mutual," Worf declares. "They are detestable creatures." Odo is a bit surprised, as he has always observed that humanoids love soft furry animals that make pleasing sounds. "They do nothing but consume food and breed," Worf tells him. "If you feed that thing more than the smallest morsel, in a few hours, you'll have ten tribbles, then a hundred, then a thousand." He goes on to describe how tribbles were once considered "mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire...an ecological menace, a plague to be wiped out." Worf relates that hundreds of warriors tracked the tribbles down and obliterated the creatures' homeworld; by the end of the twenty-third century, they were eradicated. Odo doesn't know whether to be appalled by the slaughter or drily amused by the overkill. "Another glorious chapter of Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs of the Great Tribble Hunt?" At that moment, the station suddenly goes on red alert.

So does the Enterprise, and Sisko and Dax, pretending to head toward battle stations, duck inside a turbolift, where Sisko calls the Defiant (at first hitting his command insignia before remembering to use an old-style communicator instead). Kira reports that a Klingon D-7 battlecruiser is approaching the station, but hasn't locked weapons yet. The ship is the IKS Gr'oth, commanded by Koloth, Curzon's old friend. "He isn't going to attack," Dax says. "I remember Koloth telling me he once traded insults with Kirk on a space station near the Federation border. He always regretted never getting the chance to face him in battle."

Hearing that two people have just beamed from the Gr'oth to the station manager's office, Dax is excited. She wants to go to the station and perhaps get a chance to meet Koloth in his prime. But Sisko tells Kira to beam O'Brien and Bashir over there instead. "It would've been fun," Dax pouts. "Too much fun," replies Sisko.

It turns out the Klingons only want shore leave; they are allowed by Kirk to beam aboard in small groups. The ship stands down from red alert, and Kira alerts O'Brien and Bashir that the next opportunity for the Defiant to beam them to the station will be in a few minutes. They head for a turbolift, only to find the same lieutenant they saw earlier aboard. She greets them with a smile, directed especially towards Bashir, and helpfully points out that his flap is open -- on his tricorder. Bashir fixes it and thanks her. The lieutenant lets it be known that she just transferred aboard last week, and that she is coming into Sickbay tomorrow for her physical. "Fifteen hundred. Lieutenant Watley." With a flirtatious glance at Bashir, she disembarks the lift.

Bashir, hearing the name, is stricken. "Watley. That was my great-grandmother's name...And I think she was in Starfleet." O'Brien is skeptical, but Bashir gets more and more agitated as he considers the possibilities. "No one ever met my great-grandfather. This could be a predestination paradox. Come on, Chief, surely you took elementary temporal mechanics at the Academy? I could be destined to fall in love with that woman and become my own great-grandfather...If I don't meet with her tomorrow, I may never be born!" Kira calls and asks if they're ready for transport. "Are we ever," replies O'Brien, looking at Bashir, who insists that he can't just dismiss this. "I can try," O'Brien says firmly. Bashir throws up his hands. "All right. Fine! But I can't wait to get back to Deep Space Nine and see your face when you find out that I never existed!" O'Brien thinks about it for a moment, and smiles as they dematerialize, with Bashir glaring at him.

At another wall panel, Sisko and Dax are once more scanning for Darvin when something catches Dax's eye. It's Kirk and his first officer, Spock, approaching an intercom box in response to a call from K-7; the Federation official Nilz Baris is complaining about Kirk allowing the Klingons on the station, and Kirk is patiently replying. Dax watches. "I had no idea...He's so much more handsome in person. Those eyes!" "Kirk had quite the reputation as a ladies' man," Sisko observes, to which Dax says, "Not him. Spock."

Sisko hustles her away. Dax, caught up in the history of it all, can't believe it. "Come on, Benjamin, are you telling me you're not the tiniest bit interested in meeting one of the most famous men in Starfleet history?" "We have a job to do," he says. "But it's -- it's James Kirk!" she exclaims giddily. Sisko tells her, "Look, of course I want to meet him. I'd like to shake his hand, ask him about fighting the Gorn on Cestus Three. But that's not why we're here, old man." Dax deflates, realizing he's right. "I guess the difference between you and me is, I remember this time. I lived in this time, and it's hard to not want to be a part of it again."

Bashir and O'Brien join Odo and Worf in the bar, taunting them about spending all their time here waiting for Darvin to return, while the others have been "crawling through conduits". At that moment, the Enterprise's chief engineer, Scotty, arrives with Chekov and a man in gold. O'Brien sees them. "My God, that's him." "Who?" asks Odo. "Kirk!" (Actually, it's an Enterprise crewmember named Freeman.) O'Brien and Worf start to get a little carried away, thinking about buying "Kirk" a drink, but Odo brings them back to reality. They can't risk altering the timeline.

The waitress comes by to ask for their order. "And don't ask for raktajino. If I have to say we don't carry that one more time -- " "Who ordered raktajino?" Odo asks. The waitress points out several men scattered around the bar, who she says are Klingons, but who don't have forehead ridges. Odo, O'Brien, and Bashir are mystified, and the waitress is exasperated. "All right. You boys have had enough." She goes away. The others all look at Worf, who is very uncomfortable but confirms that they are indeed Klingons. "And it is a long story...We do not discuss it with outsiders." Worf is saved from further discussion when Chekov, at the other table, stands up.

Chekov is glaring at the Klingon first officer, Korax, who is talking trash about Kirk while Scotty tries to calm the situation. O'Brien, still under the impression that Freeman is Kirk, comments on how he's ignoring the Klingon. Bashir, however, notices something and asks if he's sure that's Kirk; O'Brien says absolutely. "Why is he wearing lieutenant's stripes?" Bashir asks. But Odo recognizes the familiar signs of a brawl about to break out. "I think we've got bigger problems than a case of mistaken identity." For at the other table, Korax has turned from insulting Kirk to insulting the Enterprise. And to Scotty, those are fighting words. He stands up and decks Korax.

The brawl is on between the Starfleet and Klingon officers. O'Brien, Bashir, and Worf are swept up into it; only Odo refuses to get involved, and he is the only one who sees Darvin peering into the room. Odo grabs Worf, points out Darvin, and the two of them take off after him. Meanwhile, Enterprise security officers break up the brawl; O'Brien and Bashir are caught.


Dulmur and Lucsly look at Sisko with deep disapproval on hearing about the DS9 officers getting mixed up in the fight, but Sisko says there were no lasting repercussions. "If my people had caused any changes in the timeline, we would have been the first to notice when we got back." "Why do they all have to say that?" groans Lucsly.


O'Brien and Bashir are lined up with the other crewmen who were arrested in the brawl, with Kirk asking all of them who started it. When no one answers, the legendary captain starts asking them individually. He starts with O'Brien, who replies, "I don't know, sir." Kirk says, "All right," and moves on to Chekov, who also disavows knowledge. Finally, Kirk tells everyone that they're all confined to quarters until he finds out who started the fight. O'Brien and Bashir leave with the others.

O'Brien is awestruck at the thought that he actually lied to Captain Kirk. Suddenly Bashir steps on something that makes a squeaky noise, and bends down, picking up a tribble, of all things. "I'm sorry about that, little fellow. Who left you out here all alone?" "He's not alone," says O'Brien, turning a corner and looking ahead at a corridor littered with tribbles, some being petted by mesmerized crewpeople.

Odo and Worf have caught Darvin and beamed up with him back to the Defiant. The renegade ex-Klingon intelligence agent is completely unrepentant. "You wouldn't dare put one of the greatest heroes of the Klingon Empire into the brig." He says he's been thinking about the statue they'll put up of him, in the Hall of Warriors, which Odo takes to mean he's already set his plan in motion. "I see myself standing with Kirk's head in one hand, and a tribble in the other," Darvin replies, a visionary gleam in his eye. Worf demands to know what he's done. "Did you hire someone to kill him? Did you sabotage the Enterprise?" "Nothing so mundane," Darvin says proudly. "Let's just say that Kirk's death will have a certain poetic justice to it."

"He put a bomb in a tribble?" Sisko asks in disbelief, speaking to Odo via communicator. Odo tells him that it's Darvin's revenge on Kirk for exposing him, not to mention that it will prevent the exposure from happening, since Kirk will realize Darvin's identity from the way a tribble reacts to him. According to Darvin, the tribble is set to go off within the hour. Dax suggests that she and Sisko risk going to the Enterprise bridge to use the internal sensors to scan for explosives. Sisko orders the others back to K-7 to search there (except Worf, who Odo tells him is "allergic" to tribbles). Since they probably won't be able to get to the station's internal sensors, they will have to manually scan every tribble there. "There must be thousands of them by now," notes O'Brien, daunted. "Hundreds of thousands," corrects Bashir. Dax says, "One million, seven hundred and seventy-one thousand, five hundred and sixty-one. That's starting with one tribble with an average litter of ten every twelve hours. After three days..." "Thank you," says Sisko.

On the bridge, Sisko works at a console while Dax reroutes the sensor interface. Kirk arrives, and sits on a tribble which is in the captain's chair. He picks it up, looks around, and catches Dax's eye; she smiles and shrugs at him. Finishing her work, she comes over to Sisko and lets him know; he starts by scanning the bridge, which is clean. Dax is relieved. "When Kirk sat on that tribble, I half expected it to go off." Sisko continues scanning the ship as Dr. McCoy enters the bridge. Dax frowns in recognition, and finally remembers where she knows him from. She met McCoy when he was a student at Old Miss, and she was Emony Dax, judging a gymnastics competition. "I had a feeling he'd become a doctor. He had the hands of a surgeon," Dax says with a suggestive lift of her eyebrows. Sisko finishes scanning; the bomb is not on the ship, so it must be on the station.

Sisko calls Odo, who is scanning tribbles in the bar along with O'Brien and Bashir. Unfortunately, they can't keep up with the tribbles' birth rate. Dax gets an idea of how to narrow things down. They can assume that Darvin put the bomb somewhere that he knows Kirk will be in the next half hour, so if they stick close to Kirk, he might lead them to it. Meanwhile, Odo and the others will keep at their work.

Sisko and Dax are sitting in the Enterprise rec room when Kirk and Spock come in. Kirk is not pleased when instead of the food he orders, he gets a plate and mug full of tribbles. Scotty enters, noting that the tribbles have gotten into the food processors, probably through an air vent. "Captain, there are vents of that type on the space station," Spock says; Kirk realizes, "And in the storage compartments." Sisko and Dax get up and hurry out ahead of the captain and Spock.

The storage compartment is a mass of tribbles when Sisko and Dax climb down into it and start scanning. Most of the tribbles are dead from the poisoned grain. Dax picks up a tricobalt signature; the bomb is here. Suddenly they hear a door being worked as Kirk tries to open it from below. Finally, he succeeds, and the tribbles come raining down until Kirk is chest deep in them. Dax whispers that the bomb is right in front of them. She and Sisko begin frantically scanning tribbles and tossing them aside; a couple of them fall through the door and bonk Kirk on the head. Meanwhile, the conversation about the gorged tribbles is going on. Baris rants at Kirk that there must be thousands of them. "Hundreds of thousands," adds Kirk. Spock chimes in, "One million, seven hundred and seventy-one thousand, five hundred sixty-one. That's assuming one tribble multiplying with an average litter of ten -- " Above, Sisko and Dax glance at each other.

Then Sisko finds the tribble of doom. Carefully, he calls the Defiant and tells Kira to beam it out into space, locking onto his tricorder signal as he puts the tribble on it. Kira does; the tribble explodes, and this is miraculously not detected by the Enterprise or the station. "And as captain, I want two things done," Starfleet's greatest hero is saying below. "First, find Cyrano Jones. And second, close that door."

History continues as it did before, Kirk uncovers the truth about Darvin, and Kira opens the Orb, using it to learn how to return to their own time.


"And that's when you returned to the present?" asks Dulmur. "Well, not exactly," Sisko confesses. "Before we left, I realized there was one last thing I had to do. Something I'd been thinking about ever since I saw that ship on the viewscreen."


On the bridge of the Enterprise, Sisko hands Kirk a report to sign. Kirk looks at him, trying to place him. "Lieutenant -- Lieutenant?" "Benjamin Sisko, sir. I've been on temporary assignment here. Before I leave, I just want to say, it's been an honor serving with you, sir." Kirk nods and smiles, handing him back the signed PADD. "All right, Lieutenant. Carry on."


"Now, if you want to put a letter of reprimand in my file for that, then go ahead," Sisko tells the two Temporal Investigations men. Lucsly says they'll have to review the case before making recommendations. "However, I don't think there was any harm done," Dulmur says, and almost smiles as his partner looks at him in surprise. "Probably would've done the same thing myself." Dulmur assures Sisko he most likely doesn't have anything to worry about, as he and Lucsly leave Ops.

When Sisko emerges from his office, Kira tells him, "The constable wants to see us, on the Promenade." With trepidation, Sisko and the others go down there. "Did you tell them?" asks Odo. Sisko replies, "They didn't ask. I'm open to suggestions, people." "We could build another station," says Dax, as all of them look out at the Promenade -- which is covered with a teeming, purring mass of tribbles.

  • Perhaps the most ambitious episode, effects-wise, of any Star Trek series, "Trials and Tribble-ations" was DS9's tribute to the 30th anniversary of the first season of the original Star Trek. Using techniques similar to the ones employed in the movie Forrest Gump, along with TOS-style lighting, costumes, sets, and props, the DS9 characters were inserted into scenes from "The Trouble With Tribbles", which was chosen because it remains the most popular episode of TOS. (However, the scene in which Sisko speaks with Captain Kirk near the end was adapted from a clip of another TOS episode, "Mirror, Mirror".)
  • The images of the TOS regular cast and the guest stars of the original episode were used.
  • Charlie Brill, who played Darvin in the original, returned as the older Darvin, and also appeared in clips as Darvin's younger self.
  • David Gerrold, writer of "The Trouble With Tribbles", can be seen in two scenes, playing an Enterprise crewman. (He is the gray-haired man who passes Sisko and Dax when the Enterprise goes to red alert; Bashir and O'Brien later see him petting a tribble in the corridor.)
  • The names "Dulmur" and "Lucsly" are slightly altered anagrams of "Mulder" and "Scully", an in-joke referring to The X-Files.
  • The episode earned Emmy nominations for visual effects, art direction, and hairstyling; and was nominated for a Hugo for best dramatic presentation.
  • Bashir's line asking why "Kirk" (Freeman) is wearing lieutenant's stripes is a script error; Freeman was supposed to be an ensign.