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.
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.