|The official Dominion emblem|
|Founded:||Between 8000 BC and the 4th century|
Alpha Quadrant (2373-2375)
|Major Species:||Changelings, Vorta, Jem'Hadar, Cardassians (2373-2375), Breen (2375)|
The Dominion was a major galactic political power, whose influence was exerted over thousands of planets in the Gamma Quadrant. By the year 2372, the Dominion had existed for somewhere between two to ten thousand years. The Dominion was created by the Changelings, a species of shapeshifters native to a rogue planet within the Omarion Nebula, who referred to themselves as "the Founders."
Absolute rule of the Dominion remained in the hands of the Founders and their Great Link, whose decisions could not be disputed under any circumstances. However, the Founders were largely content to leave the administration of the Dominion's daily affairs to the Vorta. The loyalty of the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar was genetically-engineered, which in most cases ensured absolute obedience to the Founders. The Founders themselves were rarely seen, even by their servant races, and were treated as gods or myths. Due to such a social standing within the Dominion, most of what the Dominion's member races carried out were often for the glory of the Founders, or to please them in some way, similar to how religious figures prayed or carried out an action to please their god(s). (DS9: "Hippocratic Oath", "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")
A Dominion political strategy frequently used was to not use its military might during initial contacts, but rather, to take over via influence and espionage. While Jem'Hadar fighters destroyed the USS Odyssey as a show of force, the Dominion used its vast influential and espionage tactics to destabilize the Alpha Quadrant. For example, the Dominion precipitated a war between the Cardassian Union and the Klingon Empire, and then struck an alliance with the Cardassian Union, knowing full well they would accept due to their dire state, so as to gain support and a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant before deploying its military power. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "The Way of the Warrior", "By Inferno's Light")
Dominionese was at least one common language used by the Dominion. It is unknown if the Dominion member races maintained or used race-specific or planet-specific tongues.
Little is known about the Dominion's economy; it was, however, presumed to have had a massive one considering the size of its territory. The Karemma were known to be involved in commerce, but the extent to which their activities affected the economy as a whole is a mystery. Presumably, the commodities required to build and maintain the Dominion's gargantuan shipbuilding and cloning operations were sourced from subjugate planets and shuffled as necessary, with shortfalls addressed by Jem'Hadar shock troops.
The Dominion was founded on the principle of control, with the intent being to neutralize any potential threat to the Founders by whatever means necessary. In cases involving cooperative species such as the Karemma, the extent of Dominion interference was fairly minimal and restricted to material support. However, if the target species was or became less cooperative, the Jem'Hadar were dispatched to wipe out any opposition. The fear of massive Jem'Hadar reprisals was enough to keep most planets in line. For a prospective member, at first contact the Dominion may have appeared helpful, or even benevolent. A typical Dominion strategy was to make concessions in the short term for an advantage in the longer term, which may have been centuries in advance. (DS9: "The Search, Part I", "Statistical Probabilities")
The more notable member races included:
- Breen (allied 2375)
- Cardassians (2373-2375)
- Jem'Hadar (military servant race)
- Karemma (economic servant race)
- T-Rogorans (conquered 2370)
- Vorta (administrative servant race)
- Yaderans (conquered 2340)
- Son'a (allied 2375)
By the time of the Dominion War, Dominion technology appeared to have significantly outpaced that of most Alpha Quadrant species.
Instead of phased energy or disruptor beams, Jem'Hadar rifles emitted powerful polaron beams which had the side effect of acting as an anticoagulant in some humanoids, thereby impeding the natural wound healing process. (DS9: "The Ship")
Similarly, Dominion warships displayed more impressive firepower than their Alpha Quadrant counterparts. Phased polaron beams were mounted on all Jem'Hadar attack ships. These initially cut through Federation shielding without effort; however, the DS9 crew subsequently managed to adapt their shields to withstand Dominion weapons for short periods. By the time of the Dominion invasion of the Alpha Quadrant, Federation shields had no more difficulty withstanding polaron weaponry than any other energy weapon. The Breen also wielded a huge advantage on the battlefield with an energy dissipating weapon capable of disabling Federation and Romulan vessels with a single shot. Effective countermeasures were eventually developed by Starfleet engineers. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Call to Arms", "The Dogs of War")
Dominion warp capability was less advanced when compared to most major Alpha Quadrant species. A Dominion fighter was capable of at least warp 7 and a battle cruiser was capable of at least warp 4.7. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Valiant")
While some Dominion technology was in many ways more advanced than that of the Federation, one Vorta lamented that Starfleet engineers were famed for being able to "turn rocks into replicators". (DS9: "Rocks and Shoals") At least some Dominion technology was manufactured by Dominion member species; it is known, for example, that at least one type of torpedo carried on board Jem'Hadar attack vessels was sold to the Dominion by the Karemma, a Dominion member. (DS9: "Starship Down") The Jem'Hadar did, however, seem capable of performing not only some minor and emergency repairs but also understanding complex engineering on even Starfleet vessels. (DS9: "One Little Ship")
- In The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond documentary on the DS9 Season 3 DVD, several of the writers give their views on the need to create a specific identity for the Gamma Quadrant:
- Michael Piller: "I can remember that once we decided that we were going to go deeply into the wormhole, that we essentially were forcing ourselves to decide for ourselves what we were going to find there."
- Ira Steven Behr: "We just felt that having done a year and a half of the show at that time, that we had such a rich backdrop that we hadn't yet explored. What's on the other side of the wormhole? Is it just more space?"
- Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "We just felt it was time to give a face to the Gamma Quadrant. Voyager was going to be wandering through the Delta Quadrant from place to place, meeting new people every week, and we wanted to make the Gamma Quadrant distinctly different from that, by creating the Dominion, a sort of unifying anti-Federation in a way, just to give it a completely different character. Instead of like the big mysterious out there, which all the other Star Trek shows had done, and Voyager was going to do, it was a very specific, dangerous, nasty Other, so that part of the motivation."
- The Dominion was first mentioned in "Rules of Acquisition", then in "Sanctuary" and next in "Shadowplay", before finally being encountered in "The Jem'Hadar". The initial idea was to make the Dominion a kind of anti-Federation, similar in structure but with very different ideologies. The Dominion was to represent a wide array of alien races, just as does the Federation (as opposed to the mono-species Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire, and Cardassian Union), but it was to be fascist-like, ruled by coercion and domination, in contrast to the cooperation and freedom of the Federation. As Robert Hewitt Wolfe explains, "The Dominion was not monolithic, it wasn't just the Romulans or the Cardassians, they were distinct in that they were the Dominion, they were, like the Federation, a collection of different races. But unlike the Federation, they were bound together by fear and extortion, whereas the Federation is bound together by noble thoughts and love and friendship and all that good stuff. So in a lot of ways, they were the mirror image of the Federation." (The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features)
- Even though the discovery of the Dominion in The Search occurred chronologically several months before Voyager was taken to the Delta Quadrant (and there is an episode with a Jem'Hadar fighter pictured on Voyager's screen) they are never referred to as the Dominion by Voyager's crew. In one episode after learning of the Dominion War after communicating with Earth, Chakotay tells B'Elanna Torres of how the Maquis have been wiped out by the Cardassians who have "an ally from the Gamma Quadrant that supplies them with weapons," implying he had never heard of them before.
- Initially, the plan was was for numerous different species to be seen on Dominion vessels and involved in various parts of the Dominion's activities, although eventually, only three "main" species were firmly established: the Founders, the Jem'Hadar, and the Vorta, although the Karemma were also a member (indeed, they were the first member of the Dominion to be mentioned, in "Rules of Acquisition") and subsequently, both the Cardassians and the Breen became members. Robert Wolfe has also stated in interviews that the Hunters from "Captive Pursuit" were also members (and that the same people who bred the Jem'Hadar for the founders bred the Tosks for the Hunters), although this was never established on-screen and is therefore not canon.
- The concept of introducing three species at once, as opposed to the more traditional Star Trek method of introducing major races one at a time, was Ira Behr's and came from the fact that he didn't want to risk introducing only one species which may not work. If the Dominion was basically a single race, and the audience didn't accept that race, the ramifications for the show would have been disastrous, so Behr felt it better to err on the side of caution, feeling that if he introduced three races, at least one of them was bound to work. As it turned out, all three were readily accepted by viewers, and all three would become major players in the later years of the show.
- Robert Hewitt Wolfe explains the structure and organization of the Dominion: "The Gamma Quadrant isn't empty, it isn't just a bunch of planets. It's bound together by the Dominion, a very very tough, very smart, very old civilization, run by the mysterious Founders, who are experts in genetic engineering, and who turn out to be Odo's people, the Shapeshifters. They then go and engineer these slave races that do their bidding. Essentially, the two main slave races were the 'carrot' and the 'stick'. The carrot being the Vorta, who would come to your planet and say, 'Hey, you're nice people, here's some M-16s and some popcorn, and whatever else you want baby, alcohol, fire-water? All you have to do is sign this little contract and we'll make you cool.' Then there's the Jem'Hadar. So the Vorta say, 'Oh, you don't want to play ball? Then meet these guys. They're gonna kick your asses." (The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features)
- One idea that the writers had that was never actively utilized on-screen was that the Dominion knew about the Federation long before the Bajoran wormhole was discovered, and that they were developing a long-term strategy to deal with the inevitable contact. As Wolfe explains, "The Dominion knew the Federation was out there long before the wormhole was opened, and they had plans to deal with the Federation when the Federation was projected to enter their space in two hundred years, and they were building slowly towards that, that's why they sent out Odo in the first place. But then the wormhole opens up and suddenly the Federation is in their backyard today and it just throws everything into question for both the Federation and the Dominion." (The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features)