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Portrayed by Andrew J Robinson

Elim Garak


Cardassia Prime

Formerly the Obsidian Order

Cardassian Embassy on Romulus
Deep Space Nine (exile)

Andrew J. Robinson


In the series, Garak is an exiled spy from the Cardassian empire and a former member of a prestigious Cardassian intelligence group called the Obsidian Order. Garak was exiled to the space station that became known as Deep Space Nine and established a tailoring business there.


Garak is introduced in the third episode of the first season of Deep Space Nine "Past Prologue" (after the double episode "Emissary"). In the episode, he appears in the replimat on Deep Space Nine, where he flirtatiously introduces himself simply as "Garak", a tailor exiled from Cardassia, to the station's discomfited doctor, Julian Bashir. In the same episode, it is discovered that Garak was simply known as "The Spy" to the crew of Deep Space Nine, being the only Cardassian left on the station after Cardassia withdrew their occupation from the nearby planet Bajor.

Over the course of the series, Garak at first denies involvement with a feared Cardassian intelligence agency called the Obsidian Order, only to later reveal his connections as he (or as the plot) deems necessary. As Garak's friendship with Bashir develops, it is revealed that he was one of the Obsidian Order's highest ranking operatives, and that he was exiled from Cardassia due to unspecified reasons. The details of Garak's exile are never revealed, but it is suggested that his exile resulted from either letting prisoners escape during the occupation of Bajor, or betrayal of the head of the Obsidian Order named Enabran Tain, who is later discovered to also be Garak's resentful biological father. Garak's constant enigmatic secrecy keeps him a character of both interest and importance in the series, and he later uses his contacts with Cardassia and the training he received as an operative of the Obsidian Order to assist the Federation in the war against the Dominion.


As the series develops, Garak's early life is revealed little by little to the audience and the other characters in the series.

Garak has a long-standing antagonistic relationship with the prefect of Bajor, Gul Dukat. In the episode "Civil Defense", Dukat states that it was a mistake for his father to have once trusted Garak, and later in "For the Cause" it is revealed that Garak had Dukat's father tortured and killed. Later, Garak fell from grace and was exiled from Cardassia. He fled to the Cardassian space station Terok Nor when the Cardassians withdrew from the station, leaving it for the Federation and Bajorans. The reason for Garak's exile were never stated explicitly. In "The Wire", a delirious Garak gave three different and contradictory stories for his exile; first that he had killed some escaping Bajoran prisoners in the last days of the occupation but in the process also killed the daughter of a powerful Cardassian military official, then that he actually took pity on some Bajoran children and allowed them to escape, and finally that he had been framed for letting Bajoran prisoners escape. In "Improbable Cause", Garak's former mentor Enabran Tain plainly accuses him of betraying Cardassia but no details are given, while in "The Way of the Warrior" Dukat cynically reminds Garak to remember to aim his phaser at Klingons and not Cardassians.

Garak's character is elaborated on when his childhood abuse is revealed. Garak, whose father, Enabran Tain, was the head of the Obsidian Order, is seen to have an acute form of claustrophobia as an adult. His claustrophobia is strongly suggested to have resulted from his father locking him in a closet as punishment for him not doing his chores, often for hours at a time. Garak only overcomes this with the help of Ezri Dax who was newly posted to DS9 as the station's psychologist.

In an effort to gain his father's acceptance and approval, Garak followed his father's footsteps and joined the Obsidian Order; at one point he was stationed on Romulus (and was likely involved in the deaths of several Romulan officials), until the Cardassians stationed him on occupied Bajor. In his role as an agent of the Obsidian Order, it is suggested that Garak was one of the most skilled operatives within the organization with a particular talent for interrogation. Indeed, Garak has shown ability in hand to hand combat, computer programming and repair, piloting and code breaking. These talents came to the forefront on many occasions and Captain Sisko made use of them himself by recruiting Garak to work with Federation personnel; most especially during the Dominion War. Of note, Garak worked with a Starfleet detachment commanded by Captain Sisko while a mission to destroy a vital Jem'Hadar supply port.

In the third season of Deep Space Nine, during the joint Romulan/Cardassian attempt to destroy the Founders' home world, Garak is given the opportunity to return home by proving himself to Tain as a trustworthy operative of the Obsidian Order. As a result, Garak is assigned to interrogate and torture Deep Space Nine's chief of security, Odo, whose people had founded the Dominion. Garak returns to Deep Space Nine with Odo after apologizing to him and the two form a unique bond after realizing that they were more alike than they had originally thought. Later, when Garak goes with Worf to the Gamma Quadrant to try to find surviving members of the failed attack on the Founders, a dying Tain finally reveals to Garak that he is proud of him as his son.

In the last two seasons Garak had shifted his loyalties completely towards the Federation, primarily because his old political rival, Gul Dukat seized control of Cardassia and aligned it with the Dominion. In these later seasons, Garak uses his knowledge to assist the Federation in its war against the Dominion and Cardassia. Garak developed serious psychological trauma knowing that he had contributed to the deaths of his fellow Cardassians Towards the end of the war Garak served as a Federation liaison to Legate Damar and his Cardassian rebellion against the Dominion, along with the Bajoran Kira Nerys. In retaliation for the rebellion, the Dominion killed 800 million Cardassians. As a result of the war, Garak's exile ends and he returns home to Cardassia.


In a novel written by Andrew Robinson, Garak's life is further explored. The novel focuses on a letter from Garak to Bashir and suggests that Garak has become involved in the political and social rebuilding of Cardassia.


Garak is optimistic and polite, traits that he uses to obscure people's knowledge, or suspicion, of his work as a spy. Despite his image of an optimistic and well-mannered being, he is widely known to be deceitful, even to those whom he considers to be "friends," e.g. Doctor Julian Bashir. Garak is secretive, often creating elaborate stories about himself to avoid scrutiny about his exile. On several occasions, Garak discussed a friend named Elim, who was later revealed to be fictional. Elim, in fact, was Garak himself, his full name being Elim Garak. As his father Tain once said of him, Garak never told the truth when a lie would do. At one point, Doctor Bashir told him the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" and upon hearing the moral ("no one believes a liar when he is telling the truth"), Garak insisted that the true moral was "you should never tell the same lie twice".

Garak on numerous occasions is seen to have internal conflicts between his morals and his obligations to the Cardassian central command. Despite substantial evidence to suggest that he was an operative of the Obsidian Order, Garak on several occasions denies having ever been involved with the group, claiming he is just "plain, simple Garak, a tailor on the Promenade" and that his difficulties with the Cardassian government stem from tax evasion. He repeats this story frequently, even to people that he knows are aware of the truth about his past.


In the mirror universe Garak is a vicious and sadistic Gul in the Cardassian military. He was Intendant Kira's second-in-command and resented her authority. Worf's mirror universe counterpart personally blamed Garak for losing the Terok Nor station to a Terran (human) slave rebellion, although Garak blamed Kira and attempted to manipulate him into trying to get revenge on Kira.

Robinson reportedly disliked portraying this version of Garak, as he lacked any of his counterpart's depth or complexity, instead serving as a mere treacherous minion.


Garak appeared in the following Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes:

"Past Prologue"
"Profit and Loss"
"The Wire"
"The Search: Part 2"
"Second Skin"
"Civil Defense"
"Distant Voices"
"Through the Looking Glass"
"Improbable Cause"
"The Die Is Cast"
"The Way of the Warrior"
"Our Man Bashir"
"Shattered Mirror"
"For the Cause"
"Body Parts"
"Broken Link"
"Things Past"
"In Purgatory's Shadow"
"By Inferno's Light"
"Empok Nor"
"Call to Arms"
"A Time to Stand"
"Rocks and Shoals"
"Favor the Bold"
"Sacrifice of Angels"
"In the Pale Moonlight"
"Tears of the Prophets"
"The Emperor's New Cloak"
"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
"When It Rains…"
"Tacking Into the Wind"
"Extreme Measures"
"The Dogs of War"
"What You Leave Behind"

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