Star Trek’s Top 10 Charlatans & Con-Men | TrekMovie.com
jump to navigation

Star Trek’s Top 10 Charlatans & Con-Men May 21, 2011

by TrekMovie.com Staff , Filed under: List , trackback

A California preacher had the world abuzz with a prophesy that today (May 21st) was to be the end of the world, starting with rolling earthquakes across the planet. Armageddon hasn’t happened, making today his second inaccurate rapture prediction. In honor of our reprieve and in celebration of being alive, TrekMovie thought we would look back at some of Star Trek’s greatest hucksters, tricksters, charlatans, and con-men (and women)     

 

STAR TREK’S TOP 10 CHARLATANS & CON-MEN

10. Martus Mazur

Not all El-Aurian’s are like Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Guinnan and use their skills at being excellent "listeners" for the good. For example Martus Mazur in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Rivals," turned his skills into a life of small-time cons leading him into Odo’s jail where he found a gaming device that he thought changed his luck. After convincing a Promenade store-owner to open a casino based on these games he inadvertently started altering the laws of probability on the station. Mazur ended up back in jail after Jadzia Dax sorted out the scheme, but Quark was nice enough to bail him out as long as he left DS9. 

9. Arridor & Kol

In a clever call-back, the Star Trek: Voyager episode "False Profits" featured the two Ferengi (Arridor & Kol) who had fallen into a wormhole in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Price." When we meet up with these two Ferengi again, they have reinvented themselves as gods, using their technology to trick the poor backward inhabitants of a Delta Quadrant planet, demanding tributes. But thanks to the crew of the USS Voyager, the charlatans are out-conned, when Neelix poses as yet another member of the planet’s mythology in order to scoop up the Ferengi. Alas Arridor and Kol jumped back through the (closing) wormhole, dashing yet another hope of Voyager getting home. 

8. Sybok

In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier we learned that William Shatner shouldn’t direct Star Trek movies, and that Spock had a brother – well a half-brother – named Sybok. But Sybok was no ordinary Vulcan, he was a charismatic prophet who could feel your pain and take you to the center of the galaxy to meet God (aka Sha Ka Ree). Or at least that was his plan. Turns out the being at the center of the galaxy was just some trapped alien entity that wanted a starship, and luckily James T. Kirk was there to stop him. In the end Sybok redeemed himself by sacrificing his life to help the Enterprise escape. If only he could have saved the movie.  

7. Telepathic pitcher planet

The crew of the USS Voyager were desperate to get back to the Alpha Quadrant so when they found a wormhole in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Bliss," it appeared that they had finally found their way home. However, what they had really found was a space-dwelling con-artist entity that used telepathy to convince suckers it was whatever they wanted most, only to lure them in and consume all their energy. Luckily The Doctor and Seven were immune (again) and they saved the (again) hapless crew. 

6. Cyrano Jones

Cyrano Jones was an intergalactic trader featured in Star Trek’s "The Trouble With Tribbles" and he was the guy who was responsible for all that trouble. He traded the cute furballs to the unsuspecting rubes on Station K-7 (including members of the crew of the USS Enterprise) without letting them know that tribbles were (as Dr. McCoy discovered) "born pregnant." After the tribbles infested the station and ship and ruined an entire shipment of quadrotriticale grain, Jones was ordered by Kirk to clean up his mess or face some serious jail time. Jones went on to have some Animated Series shenanigans ("More Tribbles, More Troubles") involving Klingons, tribbles and tribble-hunting creature called a "Glomer."  

5. Berlinghoff Rasmussen

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Matter of Time," a 26th century historian named Max Hedroom Berlinghoff Rasmussen visits the USS Enterprise to observe. However, it turns out that Rasmussen is actually an "inventor" from the 22nd century who stole a real 26th century time-pod and was actually on board the Enterprise to steal pieces of 24th century technology to take them back to the 22nd to be "invented." Luckily Inspector Data figured out his insidious plan and he was sent to do hard time. Well this is TNG so he was detained so that "many legitimate historians could talk to him"…oh the humanity.

4. Dala, Mobar & Zar

Captain Janeway and her crew on board the USS Voyager tried their best to keep with the core Federation values while traveling across the Delta Quadrant. But one group of alien con-artists saw an opportunity by selling (fake) Federation entrance fees to dupes. Eventually this all catches up on Dala (impersonating Janeway), Mobar (as Chakotay) and Zar (as Tuvok), when the real Janeway set things straight. But one wonders, maybe they had the right idea. Perhaps Janeway would have had an easier time in the Delta quadrant if she thought like a Ferengi.

3. Benjamin Sisko (& Elim Garak)

On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the show really liked to play in the grey areas and in the episode "In The Pale Moonlight" Captain Sisk, with the help of the always shady Elim Garak, enlisted in a political long con of galactic import. The plan was to dupe the Romulan Empire into believing the Dominion was about to double-cross them. Unfortunately the astute Senator Vreenak spotted their "faaaaaaaake." But in the end Vreenak paid the price as Garak killed the Senator and made it look like Dominion did it, giving Sisko the result he wanted. So unlike other hucksters featured in this article, Sisko actually got away with it…and he could live with it too.

2. Ardra (Imposter)

The closest Star Trek parallel to this weekend’s non-end of the world comes in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Devil’s Due" when a con artist impersonated the Ventaxian mythology figure of Ardra. According to legend, Ardra granted the Ventaxian’s a thousand years of peace and prosperity, only to have to pay the price of becoming her slaves and handing over all their stuff when she returned. And this imposter showed up to collect. But she got more than she bargained for when she also claimed The USS Enterprise, which was in orbit at the time, leaving it to Jean Luc Picard to foil her dastardly plans – revealing she she was just using a cloaked ship to fake her supernatural abilities and handing her over for arrest.

1. Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd

Harry Mudd is certainly Star Trek’s most famous con man. Before he even encountered Captain Kirk in Star Trek’s  "Mudd’s Woman," he had accumulated an impressive criminal record. In that episode Mudd used an illegal drug to convince some lonely miners that he can arrange marriages with beautiful women. Turns out the ladies weren’t so hot, but the miners liked them anyway But that wasn’t enough for Kirk who detailed Mudd, but he later escaped an eventually lured the Enterprise to a planet full of androids, attempting to trade the crew’s lives for his after the androids wouldn’t let him leave ("I, Mudd"). He even got into some later Animated Series trouble ("Mudd’s Passion") selling love potions. Bottom line, this guy is not to be trusted. But, he did it all with a smile, so he wins points for style.

 

Honorable Mention: Quark

Some may be wondering why Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Quark didn’t make this list. Well firstly we must remember that in the DS9 episode "Civil Defense," Chief Constable Odo described Quark as "a self-important con artist who’s nowhere near as clever as he thinks he is." And really, while many of his deals were a bit shady, Quark was just a business man. And when you are dealing with a Ferengi, you know what you are getting into.

 

Who are your faves?

Are you happy to be alive, or were you making plans for the rapture? Who are your favorite Star Trek con-men? Should we have listed James T. Kirk, for his ability to bluff? (Corbomite, Fizbin, Reliant shield code, etc). Perhaps, but those were more tactical deceptions and not real elaborate cons, or that is what we are going with. Sound off below.

 

 

Comments

1. Steven - May 21, 2011

No Vash? I thought she’d make the top 10.

2. I'm Dead Jim! - May 21, 2011

Maybe the world did end… in alternate timeline.

Yeah, Vash should be there.

3. Christopher Roberts - May 21, 2011

Anyone just feel that?

Nah, I’m just mess with ya.

Actually I lifted something heavy once and experienced the rupture.

4. Commander/Captain/Ambassador Spock - May 21, 2011

I feel that Sybok should be higher on the list.

Think about it, Star Trek 5 is his fault. Is that not the biggest con?

(Actually, I kind of like Trek 5 to the point of not hating it.)

5. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - May 21, 2011

My top ten.
1. Harry Mudd. _ Hey. Any doubt.
2. Vash. Sexy.
3. Cyrano Jones. Goofy but Smart.
4. Quark. But. He was a good guy to.
5. Sybok is a good bad guy.
6.Arridor & Kol. What can you say.
7. Sisko and Garrek. You do what you have to do.
8. Q. Hey. he is Powerful.
9. General Trelane. He could be a Q. But was a Child.
10.Martus Mazur. he is no Guinen and bo Dr. Soran. But. He could be.

6. TrekkieJan - May 21, 2011

Fun tongue in cheek article! And yes, Vash – and maybe that cigar smoking shape-changer from Final Frontier.

7. rebecca - May 21, 2011

I too was a little surprised that Vash was left out, but this is a fun article.

8. Dee - lvs moon' surface - May 21, 2011

Well… would be more funny and controversial if James T. Kirk was included in the list, of course! … I agree with Harry Mudd #1 …

:-) :-)

9. CommanderJacobs - May 21, 2011

Anyone see the MST3k version of Star Trek V? Actually it was pirate, but they did a good job on it… Those were con men for you… Too bad Paramount went after them like flies on, well you know what.

10. Jeyl - May 21, 2011

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Not only are you not giving Garak his own dedicated spot, but you’re also not giving him the #1 spot? Sure, “On the Pale Moonlight” was an excellent episode that showcased what extreme measures “The Sisko” was willing to take in order to defeat the Dominion, but all of it was a direct result Garak. Heck, not only does he convince Sisko to con the Romulan ambassador, but he himself cons Sisko by killing the ambassador when the plan doesn’t work! So while Sisko may have gotten away with what he wanted, Garak was the true master mind behind it. Not only did he come up with a con that included a backup plan, but he also convinced “THE SISKO” that this was the best course of action to take. And you put Harry Mudd two steps above him?

11. Andy Patterson - May 21, 2011

“Harcourt Fenton Mudd! You lazy good for nothing. You’ve been drinking again….”

12. Tiberius III - May 21, 2011

Q is not #1??? Are you kidding me? What about Balok? Or Odona’s father? Data’s “mother”?

13. TheDoctor - May 21, 2011

Shouldn’t Berman and Braga be on that list?

14. Tiberius III - May 21, 2011

Honorable Mention should be T’Pring. She managed to con Spock into killing his Captain!

15. Tiberius III - May 21, 2011

12. My bad. Data’s mother didn’t know she wasn’t human. But how about Sylvia?

16. Basement Blogger - May 21, 2011

Great stuff TrekMovie and fellow Trekkers.

The world didn’t end. Time to party. How about Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Hicks and the Knicks cheerleaders performing Friday? Partying …. Partying … Yeah…. Fun fun, fun , fun…

http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/video/Stephen-Colbert-Sings-Friday-with-The-Roots-4111/1317553

17. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - May 21, 2011

HOW THE HELL DO YOU LEAVE OUT Q????????????

18. Tiberius III - May 21, 2011

What about Lore?? The Talosians?

19. Tiberius III - May 21, 2011

That alien from TNG’s “Future Imperfect”?

OK I’ll stop now…

20. Dr. Sheldon Cooper - May 21, 2011

DS9’s “Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang” was a con involving the Terek Nor gang. Knocking over a Vegas casino has got to rank in there with the greatest Trek cons!

21. Gabriel Bell - May 21, 2011

Fantastic article. Very clever and appropriate. All great choices!

22. dmduncan - May 21, 2011

Well, it wasn’t a total failure for the rapture club. A volcano in Iceland erupted.

23. Andy Patterson - May 21, 2011

Finnegan was a pretty big liar and scoundrel.

24. Red Dead Ryan - May 21, 2011

What about Seska from “Voyager”?

25. Charla - May 21, 2011

Yes I think Q would be a good addition to this list too.

26. Red Dead Ryan - May 21, 2011

Lieutenant Eddington, Mirror Sisko, Mirror Hoshi Sato

27. Stephen - May 21, 2011

#6- Wrong movie. I’m hereby revoking your geek cred. jk Anyways, an honorable mention should also go to Gul Dukat for convincing Kai Winn that he was a Bajoran (for a few episodes, anyway.)

28. moauvian waoul- aka: seymour hiney - May 21, 2011

Good job Anthony.

29. DC - May 21, 2011

I actually don’t think Sybok belongs on this list. He didn’t have any ill intent. He legitimately believed that he was relieving people of their pain and he legitimately did believe that God and Sha-Ka-Ree lied at the center of the galaxy.

30. Red Dead Ryan - May 21, 2011

There was also Eris from the “Deep Space Nine” episode, “The Jem’ Hadar”. She was a Vorta who pretended to be a refugee fleeing the Jem’ Hadar and the Dominion as a ruse to infiltrate the Alpha Quadrant as a spy. Commander Sisko was fooled, while Quark had discovered the lock around her neck could have easily have been broken off by Eris herself.

31. sci-fiddy - May 21, 2011

no Outrageous Okona??????????????????

32. Odkin - May 21, 2011

Ummmm…. Corbomite Maneuver, anyone?
Fizzbin?
Kobayashi Maru?
Spock’s mechanical rice picker accident?

Where is the MASTER of the con…. the STAR of Star Trek…. the often imitated, never duplicated… Captain James T. Kirk?

33. Buzz Cagney - May 21, 2011

Very good piece.
I held off cutting the lawn and washing the car yesterday as I figured I wasn’t going to be around today to worry about it.
What a bloody nuisance!

34. Renifer - May 21, 2011

Captain Kirk managed to con a lot of women and alien creatures out of their tunics.
Q was overlooked, and should have been at the top, if not number 1.
And aren’t *all* Ferengi confidence men? I mean, isn’t that what they do?
Also, the woman that conned Kirk into infecting her with the plague so that she could spread it to her world and control the out of control population?
What was her name? Rayna? I don’t recall. She was definitely trixey though.

35. Buzz Cagney - May 21, 2011

You know what we all need to do today? We need to all hide.
That was that mad God botherer who predicted rapture would believe he was the only one that got left behind!
He’ll be pretty pissed I reckon. :-D

36. JP Saylor - May 21, 2011

Why isn’t JJ Abrams on the list?

See what I did there?

37. Tanner Waterbury - May 21, 2011

@ 9

You mean the Rifftrax version? Those are the same guys from MST3K. I have all the Trek Rifftrax and find em hilarious.

And Vash should be on this list.

38. quietbynature - May 21, 2011

They DEFINITELY should have had Vash on the list. I was surprised not to see Q, also, but I suppose manipulative doesn’t necessarily equate to con artist. Q’s intentions were actually generally honorable, correct? Vash and Seska, on the other hand, were always looking out for number one!

39. DJT - May 22, 2011

No one has a problem with Sisko being on this list??? What?

Plus, ST5 was a dream! So Sybok get a free pass.

40. vjeko1701 - May 22, 2011

Mudd first? Why? If anything by the standards Sisko should have been first and Andra second, Mudd deserves perhaps only the fifth place. Sisko tricked an entire empire into war and changed the course of history, while Andra almost became the absolute ruler of an entire planet filed with people, not obeying androids. Mudd was to me just an annoying little nuisance together with Cyrano Jones.

41. Jeyl - May 22, 2011

Gah. The more I look at this list, the more flawed it is…. It’s Garak!

42. Jonboc - May 22, 2011

yeah, Sybock wasn’t trying to con anyone…he truly believed he would find the almighty, so he doesn’t belong on the list. Colonel Green was pretty slippery, as was Parmen and his wife.

43. N - May 22, 2011

Ferengi in general, they just made DS9 all that more fun. Also VOY: Bliss reminds me of V…

44. Jai - May 22, 2011

Great photo of Sisko in full badass mode ;) I think a two-hour version of that episode would have made a fantastic theatrical movie. I bet it would have been a huge mainstream hit too. “Star Trek: In the Pale Moonlight”. Oh well.

Back to conmen…

Let’s not forget the Changeling who pretended to be Martok on DS9. He successfully managed to pull that off for two whole years at the highest level of the Klingon Empire, until he was exposed by Odo during that undercover Seal mission by Sisko & co to take out Osama Bin…er, Gowron.

Which reminds me, there was also that Changeling who secretly replaced Bashir for a month, nearly managing to deliberately wipe out the entire Bajoran solar system along with entire Starfleet and Klingon fleets by being just a few seconds away from successfully triggering a supernova.

45. OLLEY OLLEY OLLEY - May 22, 2011

Some say that Trek universe prime wasn’t getting stale and dated.

I would like to direct your attention to the photo of Martus Mazur, he looks like a stereotypical fraudster who has been cast straight from Murder She Wrote.

46. chrisfawkes.com - May 22, 2011

Don’t worry about the rapture not happening. It’s not the end of the world.

I hated Harry Mudd as a character. I did not mind Sybock other than that he was supposed to be Spock’s brother.

47. Lore - May 22, 2011

No problem with Sisco being on the list. It was the only way to win the war with the Dominion.

48. CommanderJacobs - May 22, 2011

@37 — noooo, there was a version BEFORE that. They used some of the MST3k titles and made their own robots, etc…. and they were FUNNY.

ON TOPIC FOR A CHANGE, we can confuse bad guys, hippocrites, megalomaniacs, etc with the con men. And Q is in the latter category.
VASH was a con artist, and Garack was pulling a con with Sisko, but he was a ‘retired’ spy. His type of con-artist was akin to the original MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE plot lines.

49. OLLEY OLLEY OLLEY - May 22, 2011

Special mention for Sybok’s Mullet.
It disappears near the end of the film

50. Kev -1 - May 22, 2011

Telepathic pitcher planet? Missed that one. Just when you think you’ve seen them all…

51. nony - May 22, 2011

I like Sybok/Laurence Luckinbill. Too bad he didn’t get a better movie.

I wouldn’t count Q as a con artist, because there’s nothing a Q could gain by trickery that he couldn’t just snap his fingers and make happen himself. The Qs don’t need money or fame or material goods and are already omnipotent. They like to make people’s lives difficult and mess with them, but it’s usually just for their own idle amusement.

52. MrRegular - May 22, 2011

Sybok was actually a interesting character. And Trek V wasn’t all bad. The scene where McCoy confronts the death of his father is one of the most powerful in the entire series. If only the rest of the film would have been so thoughtfully directed, and with better special effects.

53. Ian K - May 22, 2011

Agreed!! Although Seska was I think I bigger con artist than a few of them.

54. Obsidian - May 22, 2011

I too liked the concept of Sybok, although he didn’t have to be related to Spock, did he?

Trek V would have been better without the God thing, (pun intended). Starting out with a hostage crisis on a planet, with Sybok mixed in was not a bad start. Then have some good writers flesh out where things go from there. Lose the new ship having technical difficulties, or tone it down. Scotty and Uhura discovering feelings for each other was very interesting too.

(Uhura and Spock was even MORE interesting in ST09, though.)

Sigh. Can’t re-write history.

55. Luke Forester - May 22, 2011

How could you forget Morn?

56. Holger - May 22, 2011

I’d have put Ardra on #1, because of the tremendous scope and complexity of her con.

57. Frank - May 22, 2011

I’ve read through the entire list, and nobody, yes, NOBODY has mentioned (drum roll, please) – either:
Moriarty (remember “Ship in a Bottle”? I was fooled the first time I saw it), or:
the probe from “The Inner Light” (it fooled Picard, didn’t it?), or – my favorite here –
the Squire of Gothos! (Okay, so he didn’t really fool the crew, but his entire set-up was based on a cheap con.
And I agree that the Talosians should have made the list.

Great job, though.

58. Mark - May 22, 2011

How about that dude who kidnapped Data for his collection

59. Anthony Pascale - May 22, 2011

thanks for all the feedback and hope you enjoyed our latest list. Of course with a top 10 list, we cant list them all, but lots of great suggestions.

60. Alex - May 22, 2011

The Sisko made the top 3. I’m impressed…!

61. Michael Hall - May 22, 2011

“Inter-galactic trader? Really?? If Cyrano Jones was truly capable of such a thing, I’m sure the asking price on the hardware would make dicking over the price-per-head of tribbles quite unnecessary.

62. Fraser Link - May 22, 2011

Late to the party, as often happens with a busy life … but surprised I didn’t see anyone mention Valeris (ST: VI) in the comments …

63. Greenberg - May 23, 2011

The schmuck who directed Nemesis managed to con me into watching it, although I wasn’t fooled into seeing it at the cinema so I guess that doesn’t count.

64. E. Clayton Rowe - May 23, 2011

James T. Kirk, of course. “The Corbomite Maneuver.” “Kobiyashi Maru” computer hacking, “Priceline.”

65. Hat Rick - May 23, 2011

Deep Space Nine is mentioned several times here, and I LIKE IT!

That’s because DS9 is often overlooked, and it shouldn’t be. It was wonderful.

:: Sigh. :: I wish DS9 were still on the air (in the sense that they’re producing it.) Maybe it is, in some alternate universe….

66. ?The Doctor? - May 23, 2011

One came immediately to mind that no one has mentioned yet. How about Devinoni Ral in TNG’s “The Price”?

67. All Kirk All The Time - May 23, 2011

What several of you said: James T. Kirk was by far the biggest con-man in the canon.

Someone mention “Fizbin”?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0SsR2y6Tgo

68. OLLEY OLLEY OLLEY - May 23, 2011

@ 63. Greenberg
You mean Stuart Baird, on one hand a lot of the cast felt that he was new to Trek and unaware of how a particular character would behave or say a piece of dialog.
And on the other hand there has been a lot of criticism of the script.
Initially it was a great piece from writer John Logan, who help to script Gladiator, but then it was fed to the studio and the cast who promptly ripped it apart to introduce their own little modifications and input…..I’m looking at you Spiner :P

69. n1701ncc - May 23, 2011

Why are we forgetting Khan …the greatest con man of the all.

Great to see Mudd as #1. I still say he is the next villian in star trek 2. Just think of his character a little more crazy …Heath Ledger type… as a foe for Kirk. Any thoughts

70. DS9 Rocks - May 23, 2011

The article is excellent! The list itself is pretty good. I’ve seen a lot of names thrown out as additions, especially Vash, Q and Kirk. The list is of greatest hucksters, tricksters, charlatans, and con-men (and women). I would say that of the above 3, 2 belong and 1 doesn’t.

I think many comments need to re-think their suggestions–con-men doesn’t mean bad guys. So, I don’t think Khan, Lore and other baddies belong at all. If you are evil, you’ll lie and cheat, but your primary goal is not to trick someone out of valuables. In fact, most con-men are lovable (think Mudd).

So, from the above list of additions, Vash and most definitely Kirk belong on the list. Kirk should be #1. Q is most certainly not a charlatan, since he actually had all the powers we thought he had (and perhaps more). Is he a con-man? I don’t think so. Is he a trickster–you could claim it if we were mere bystanders, but, as trekkies, we know that everything Q did had a purpose. So, I love Q, but I don’t think he belongs on this list.

With that, I also have to say that Sybok should not be on it. He wasn’t conning anyone.

I love DS9 and ITPM episode so much, that I won’t argue with the inclusion of Sisko. Although on the criteria I laid out, it’s questionable whether such singular forceful example of ends justified by the means counts.

71. Greg - May 23, 2011

Who are half of these characters??? The real con men are those peddling these recent sci-fi incarnations as “Star Trek.”

72. Punkspocker - May 23, 2011

71, not very nice. Anywho my vote is for T’pring! That nasty tart duped everyone.

73. Robert Bernardo - May 24, 2011

CommanderJacobs wrote:

> noooo, there was a version BEFORE that. They used some of the MST3k
> titles and made their own robots, etc…. and they were FUNNY.

That would be the Ryan K. Johnson version. I have the DVD of that.

74. Phil Maigroin - May 24, 2011

What about Brannon Braga or Rick Berman? They conned us and Paramount out of good Trek for years to come…

75. CarlG - May 24, 2011

I loved that Voyager episode. I’ve always has a soft spot for that trope of “con artists pretending to be the heroes for fun and profit”.

TrekMovie.com is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.