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Did a ‘Star Trek’ Game Confirm One of the Most Enduringly Popular Fan Pairings?

Alexander Siddig as Julian Bashir looks surprised to have Garak's hands on his shoulders on 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine'

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the best Star Trek show (I’m right), with characters so nuanced that they remain beloved decades after the series ended in 1999. Those characters are still referenced in more modern Star Trek incarnations, and some DS9 actors continue to participate in fan events, podcasts, and interviews. For many of us, that space station alongside a wormhole is never far from mind. Now a mobile game for the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks appears to reference one of DS9’s most enduring legacies. Yes, we’re talking about Garashir.

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Ongoing fan enthusiasm for DS9 helped fuel and fund an excellent documentary, What We Left Behind. (2019). When I reviewed What We Left Behind, I was pleased with how openly the subject of sexuality was discussed, with showrunner Ira Steven Behr lamenting that they had not done more therein, and actor Andrew Robinson, who played Cardassian tailor/spy Elim Garak, immediately opining on a subject close to the DS9 fandom’s heart. As I wrote then, Andy Robinson “commented out of the gate that Garak wanted to sleep with Julian Bashir, and Garak’s sexuality as a gay man was affirmed by both Robinson and Behr. (‘Completely gay,’ to quote Behr.)” 

Elim Garak and Julian Bashir share a heated toast

The fan pairing of Deep Space Nine’s buttoned-up chief medical officer Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and the wily Garak (Robinson), often referred to as “Garashir,” has been going strong since the ’90s. Fans saw the onscreen sexual tension and romance potential between the characters, who become unlikely friends with always-electric chemistry. While the decision was made to not let the characters canonically explore a relationship on DS9, that didn’t stop fans—or the actors. Garashir is featured as a pairing in more than 5,000 stories on fanfiction mothership Archive of Our Own, which is particularly impressive when we consider that AO3 wasn’t around in the Garashir heyday when the show was airing. Robinson and Siddig continue to encourage the “ship,” with the actors reuniting to read fluffy Garashir fanfiction in 2020. They’ve undertaken similar projects at conventions, and Robinson even wrote a Star Trek novel that’s framed via the device of Garak writing to Bashir.

But what about confirmation of a romance in the greater Star Trek canon? Well, an eagle-eyed user on X (formerly Twitter) spotted what seems to be a Garashir easter egg in an official “idle adventure” game for Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek Lower Decks Mobile. In a screenshot from the game, Lower Decks Starfleet officer Brad Boimler (voiced by Jack Quaid on the show) is seen in conversation with a hologram of Julian Bashir. Bashir’s dialogue reads, “You don’t have to tell me. I know how difficult it can be, dating a Cardassian.” The user who posted the image, hingabee, added the comment: “well that’s one way of alluding to it i didnt expect. thanks lower decks mobile game? i guESS.”

While it’s delightful that we got this winking nod to Garak/Bashir from an officially licensed source, fans would love to see further acknowledgment. Lower Decks has the perfect opportunity to do more with a relationship that should have been canonical onscreen long ago and is supported and promoted by the actors behind the characters. Another user responded to this thread with their own tweet in which they wrote, “If Lower Decks doesn’t give us Bashir and Garak living their best gay life together, I will riot.” Not only would this correct a serious mistake in Star Trek queer representation history, but I have the feeling that Robinson and Siddig would be only too happy to voice their characters exploring that frontier.

Come on, Lower Decks! We believe in you. Some of us have been wanting this for more than twenty-five years, but it would be equally excellent to kickstart a new generation of Trek fans on their own Garashir journey. We’ll meet you at Quark’s for lunch to discuss further.

(featured image: Paramount)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.

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