Odo //, played by René Auberjonois, is a fictional character in the science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He is a member of a shapeshifting species called Changelings and serves as the head of security for the space station Deep Space Nine on which the show is set. Intelligent, observant and taciturn, Odo uses his unique abilities throughout the show to maintain security on the DS9 station and, later, aids the Bajoran people and the Federation throughout the Dominion War against his own people, the Founders.
|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character|
|First appearance||"Emissary" (1993)|
|Last appearance||"Kobayashi" (2022)|
|Portrayed by||René Auberjonois|
|Significant other||Kira Nerys, Lwaxana Troi|
|Posting||Deep Space Nine|
|Position||Chief of Security|
The original Writer's Bible from 1992 for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine described Odo as follows:
Odo, an alien male, middle-aged curmudgeon, and a shape-shifter. In his natural state he is a gelatinous liquid. He was a Bajoran law enforcement officer on the space station under the Cardassians. Starfleet decides to have him continue in that role, since he's extremely savvy about the Promenade and all who frequent it. His backstory is: 50 years ago, with no memory of his past, he was found alone in a mysterious spacecraft that appeared in the Denorios asteroid belt. He was found by the Bajoran and lived amongst them. At first he was sort of an Elephant Man, a source of curiosity and humor as he turned himself into a chair or pencil. Finally he realized he would have to take the form of a humanoid to assimilate and function in their environment. He does it, but resents it. As a result, Odo performs a uniquely important role in the ensemble: he is a character who explores and comments on Human values. Because he is forced to pass as one of us, his point of view usually comes with a cynical and critical edge. But he can't quite get it right, this humanoid shape, though he continues to try. So he looks a little unfinished in a way. He's been working on it a long time. Someone might ask him: Why don't you take the form of a younger man. His answer: I would if I could. He has the adopted child syndrome, searching for his own personal identity. Although he doesn't know anything about his species, he is certain that justice is an integral part of their being, because the necessity for it runs through every fiber of his body – a racial memory. That's why he became a law man. He has a couple of Bajoran deputies; he doesn't allow weapons on the Promenade, and once every day he must return to his gelatinous form.
Actor René Auberjonois describes Odo as "a very unformed being" who was "trying to get some kind of shape to his life". Co-creator of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Michael Piller, speaks of Odo's role within the show as being prompted by needing "a character who represented the traditions of Spock and Data, the outsider who looks in at humanity."
Late in the fifth season, in the episode "Children of Time", an Odo who has lived an additional 200 years tells the "current" Kira Nerys that he has loved her from the time their friendship first began. With this revelation, Kira and the "current" Odo eventually become a couple.
According to the backstory of the series, Odo was found adrift in his natural gelatinous state in the Denorios Belt in the Bajoran system. Doctor Mora Pol studied him for seven years, not initially recognising him as a sentient being. Doctor Mora was later forced to recognise Odo's sentience when he copied a beaker on a laboratory table. Odo's name stemmed from the Cardassian language word "Odo'ital", meaning "nothing", which was the loose translation of the "unknown sample" label in Bajoran on his laboratory flask. Later on the story was slowly developed: Over 200 years before, the Changelings' Great Link (a planet in the Gamma Quadrant where Changelings exist in their natural gelatinous form) had sent out 100 Changeling infants in containers throughout the universe in order to see how other alien races react to the presence of Changelings. Of those sent out four have been accounted for:
In the Mirror Universe, Odo is the supervisor of the mining complex at Terok Nor. He is a brutal taskmaster over Terran slaves there and tolerates no deviation from his strict rules. Relatively little is known of him, as no one in the Mirror Universe is aware that the wormhole exists or who Odo's people are. During a mining accident, Odo begins an evacuation of the Terran workers from the complex. Julian Bashir, seizing the opportunity to escape, disintegrates him with a disruptor.
After filming of the episode "Crossover", which was mirror Odo's sole onscreen appearance, actor René Auberjonois liked the mirror universe uniform so much he began wearing it while playing the regular universe version of Odo as well.
In the initial Deep Space Nine relaunch novels, Odo is succeeded as security chief by Ro Laren, who is working for the Bajoran Militia. He also sent a Jem'Hadar ambassador to the Alpha Quadrant to foster understanding in the Dominion of other cultures, and soon returned to DS9.
In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Millennium series of novels, it is revealed that Odo rarely shifted into smaller forms such as insects due to a psychological block from his original training under Doctor Mora. The novel series also speculates that the Founders placed a mental block on Odo's abilities to make it difficult for him to alter his face, thus explaining why he can never get faces quite right, even after linking with other Changelings on several occasions.
In the Star Trek: Terok Nor novel Night of the Wolves, Odo was found in a spherical module in the Denorios Belt by the Cardassian vessel Kevalu, which was under the command of Dalin Malyn Ocett, in 2345.
In the Star Trek: Typhon Pact novel Raise the Dawn, Odo returned to the Alpha Quadrant to help Sisko investigate reports that the Typhon Pact, an alliance of the Federation's enemies, have stolen Jem'Hadar technology to perfect their own quantum slipstream drive, only to be trapped in the Alpha Quadrant when the wormhole was seemingly destroyed thanks to Kira's attempt to stop a Typhon Pact ship from using it again. Sisko offered Odo a place on his new ship, the Robinson, but the novel ends with Odo deciding to remain on Bajor for a time to think about what he will do next.
In 2009, IGN ranked Odo as the seventh best character of Star Trek overall. They note the character's search for identity, even as he struggles to maintain order on the space station. They highlight his relationships with Sisko, Quark, and Kira on the station, and that he can turn into any shape except a normal human form. In 2016, Odo was ranked as the 15th most important character of Starfleet and related enlisted crews within the Star Trek science fiction universe by Wired magazine.