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If Wishes Were Horses (episode)

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"If Wishes Were Horses"
DS9, Episode 1x16
Production number: 40511-416
First aired: 16 May 1993
15th of 173 produced in DS9
15th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 173 released in DS9 Remastered  
270th of 728 released in all
Teleplay By
Nell McCue Crawford & William L. Crawford & Michael Piller

Story By
Nell McCue Crawford & William L. Crawford

Directed By
Robert Legato
46853.2 (2369)
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Station residents suddenly find their imaginations are manifested in physical form; a spatial rift threatens to destroy the Bajoran system.

Summary Edit

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Quark tells Odo he needs to lighten up and have some fun, perhaps in a holosuite. Odo dismisses imagination as a sign that one is not paying attention to one's real life. Quark offers to create a Shapeshifter "playmate," at which point Odo declares, "You're disgusting!"

At seeing Jake Sisko walking toward a holosuite, Odo warns that Quark had better not have created any "playmates" for him. Jake's program, Quark explains, is one that includes famous baseball players from Earth, such as Tris Speaker, Ted Williams and Buck Bokai. Quark has made it his business to learn about human customs and traditions because a wise man, he says, can smell profit in the wind. He tells Odo to try it. "I don't have a sense of smell," Odo says.

As Quark explains economics to Odo, on the other side of the bar, Dr. Bashir and Lieutenant Dax are having dinner. Julian wants to become romantically involved, but Jadzia politely refuses and points out that he has eyed several other women as well. She returns to Ops, where she finds there are elevated thoron emissions in the nearby Denorios belt. Dax and Sisko hypothesize that it is due to the high amount of traffic around the station.

Meanwhile, O'Brien reads his daughter Molly a bedtime story – "Rumpelstiltskin" – and tucks her in. However, Molly comes back out and claims Rumpelstiltskin is in her room. O'Brien returns with her and finds that Rumpelstiltskin truly has appeared in her room. A more submissive version of Dax tries to seduce Dr. Bashir in his quarters. Buck Bokai, a famous baseball player, follows Jake home from the holosuites.

The characters eventually disappear, and random events, such as snow on the Promenade, occur all over the station, seemingly from people's imaginations. Quark finds himself surrounded by beautiful women who are unable to resist him and hopes whatever is going on lasts forever, until he realizes every one of his customers is winning at dabo. He desperately tries to "wish" them to lose, but as Odo points out, Quark is outnumbered. Later, Odo returns to his office and runs a security sweep, only to discover that he has wished Quark into a holding cell.

The wishing spree continues until the emissions detected earlier turn into a void near the station. It continues to grow exponentially until Sisko realizes it is part of the wish effect, and as more people believe it exists, its size increases. Once the station wishes the void away, "Buck Bokai" appears in Sisko's office, where he explains that he is part of an extended mission that followed a Federation ship through the "hole in space." His people wanted to see what "imagination" is really about in an attempt to learn more about humanoids. "Bokai" departs shortly after suggesting that he and his compatriots might return "next year" to inform Sisko about his species.

Log entries Edit

  • "Station log, stardate 46853.2. We have launched a probe to study the subspace anomaly. Meanwhile, more than half the people aboard DS9 have reported manifestations of their imagined thoughts."
  • "Station log, supplemental. The subspace anomaly continues to expand. As of yet, we've been unable to find a way to contain it. As a precaution, we have diverted all incoming ships away from the station."

Memorable quotes Edit

"Family entertainment. That's the future, Odo. There's a fortune to be made. Little holocreatures running around. Rides and games for the kiddies, Ferengi standing in every doorway selling... useless souvenirs."
"You're going to replace all your sexual holoprograms with family entertainment?"
"Oh, no! No! I'm expanding! I'm negotiating to lease the space next door so I can use the same hologenerators."
"You're still disgusting." (Odo walks off)
"Till the day I die."

- Quark and Odo

"Julian, you are a wonderful friend." (Bashir sighs heavily) "I enjoy the time we spend together!"
"Stop! You're driving a stake through my heart!"
"Try a high pitched sonic shower. It'll make you feel better."
"No it won't!" (Dax walks off) (to self) "I've already tried it."

- Dax and Bashir

"Sorry I'm late. I was having dinner with Julian."
"How is our young doctor?"
"Young. Anything going on?"

- Dax and Sisko

"Why do we tell her stories about evil dwarves that want to steal children?"

- O'Brien

"She really is submissive, isn't she?"

- Dax, beginning to get annoyed at her double

"I am not submissive! ... am I?"

- Illusory Dax seeks affirmation from Bashir

"Let me out of here! Let me out of here! Get the Nagus on subspace, I want to talk to him and I mean now!" (He touches the force field holding him and gets zapped) "I'm not spending another minute in this cell!"
"How did you get in there?"
"How did I get in here?! You put me in here!"
"Ahh. Hah! I guess I did, didn't I?" (Odo chuckles)
"Yeah..." (Quark then vanishes)
(Odo chuckles) "No imagination indeed. Hah!"

- Quark and Odo, as Odo watches his security cameras and sees Quark in a holding cell

"Perimeter sensors are picking up a subspace oscillation. What the hell does that mean?"

- Kira

"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?!" (Grabs a mug from Rom's tray and bangs it on table) "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN..." (Notices Morn passing by) "...And all androgynous creatures... Your attention, please!"

- Odo

"I'm going to have to ask you all to please refrain from using your imaginations."

- Odo

Background Edit

Story and scriptEdit

  • The story of "If Wishes Were Horses" was different from the final teleplay. Michael Piller commented: "It was a very hard concept to make work. Somedbody came in and said, 'Jake brings a baseball player home from the holodeck', and that was the pitch. Basically, I said we just did the Moriarty episode, where [ Moriarty ] walks out of the holodeck in Next Generation and I didn't want to do another holodeck show, but I would like to do a show that celebrates imagination, since that's really what Star Trek is a celebration of the imagination. We knew it was sort of a "Where No One Has Gone Before" concept, but that was six years ago on another show, so why can't we do something where strange things are happening that people are imagining?" (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 53)
  • Aside from the aforementioned "Where No One Has Gone Before" (where The Traveler brought the Enterprise to a remote region of space, where the crew's imagination becomes reality as well) other episodes with similar premises include TOS: "Shore Leave" and TNG: "Imaginary Friend".
  • Rumpelstiltskin was originally written as a leprechaun, but was changed when Colm Meaney objected, claiming that this was an offensive stereotype against Irish people. According to Meaney, "Using caricatures or cliches of any nation is not something Star Trek is or should be into." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Michael Piller recalled his modifications to the script to placate Meaney: "We needed a reason for it to be happening and we came up with the idea that O'Brien would be telling a bedtime story about a leprechaun. We had the script written, and Colm Meaney called Rick [Berman] and said, 'Every Irish actor I know has worked his entire life to overcome the stereotype of Irish people and leprechauns. It's really racist, and I don't want to do it'. We had no idea there was any sensitivity to leprechauns in the Irish culture and certainly we did not want to force Colm Meaney to act with a leprechaun, but what the hell do you do after you've got a whole story structured around a leprechaun stealing a child? Well, we went through story tales and Robert [Hewitt Wolfe] came in with Rumpelstiltskin, and we went by it at least once, maybe twice, because Rumpelstiltskin wasn't exactly the same thing and wouldn't work in the structure we had. When I finally sat down to rewrite it, I said, 'Okay, Rumpelstiltskin - let's see where it goes'. It was one of those scripts where I had no idea how to resolve it or where it was going to go. I wrote each scene to see if it worked and had fun with it". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 53)
  • Writer William L. Crawford says of the mysterious aliens in this episode, "They were a little shy. And they would use their ability to reflect the fantasies or unconscious of individuals they ran into to bring out their good and bad points, so the aliens could make a decision if they wanted to go further." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


Rob Legato and Terry Farrell

Robert Legato directs Terry Farrell on the set of "If Wishes Were Horses"

  • Colm Meaney reflected that the episode was "very difficult to shoot because we had the appearing and the disappearing. The guy who played Rumpelstiltskin would appear to be behind my back, sitting on a console. But I had to play it in the completely opposite direction. So, he spoke from behind me, but I played the response in front of me. Then we had to reverse it and shoot it the other way. It was very complicated, but it came out well". ("Colm Meaney - Miles O'Brien", The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 5, p. 9)
  • Michael Piller recalled the filming of the scenes between Bashir and the imaginary Jadzia: "I've saved the dailies of Terry's coming on to Siddig, and [Bashir] doesn't know why, for my personal collection. There were twelve takes, and he kept breaking up and fluffing the lines". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 53)
  • Armin Shimerman especially enjoyed the scene with Quark's imaginary women. Shimerman commented: "The writers were kind enough to give me every adolescent's fantasy. They gave me these two beautiful women and were very sweet. It was fun". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 53)
  • Hana Hatae remembered childhood fear she experienced during the episode; "There are two episodes that really stand out in my mind. The first one being "If Wishes Were Horses" because I was absolutely terrified of Rumpelstiltskin. I think that I legitimately thought the actor who played him was going to steal me. I was too scared to be alone with him in the same room, so I had someone else with me at all times." [1]
  • The Gunji jackdaw which appears on the promenade was played by an emu. It is the only appearance by an emu on Star Trek. They proved to be difficult to receive direction, so one of their trainers was dressed as a Bajoran monk. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Interacting with and acting like the emu brought back memories of playing a character who transformed into a bird in Brewster McCloud for Rene Auberjonois. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Buck bokai

Buck Bokai, a baseball player mentioned throughout the DS9 series, makes an appearance in his London Kings uniform.


  • Ira Steven Behr commented: "This is an episode you've got to try and do. We should be awarded brass balls for doing Rumpelstiltskin. It's an interesting show and it has a high level of imagination and it's a high concept. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 53)
  • This is one of Terry Farrell's favorite episodes because of the fun she had playing two different types of Dax. (Crew Dossier: Jadzia Dax, DS9 Season 2 DVD special features)
  • Farrell also commented that she thought that the episode "was the first time it all sort of gelled with Sid and my relationship. It took a long time before it all came together. This was the first time we as a cast were all really together. It was an interesting moment. We realized we're like this basketball team that had found our camaraderie and felt comfortable". (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, No. 3/4, p. 97-98)


Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also Starring Edit

Guest Stars Edit

Co-Star Edit

Uncredited Co-Stars Edit

Stand-ins and doubles Edit

References Edit

2026; 2042; 2169; 23rd century; 24th century; airlock; allergic reaction; androgyny; anomaly; antipasto; art; auxiliary power; Bajoran system; Bajoran wormhole; Baneriam hawk; baseball; baseball (object); baseball bat; baseball field; baseball glove; baseball mitten; baseman; baserunning; bedroom; bedtime story; Betazoid; Betazoid envoy; blizzard; Bonsai; captain; centimeter; class-4 probe; com circuit; concussion; constabulary; crop; dabo; Daedalus class; daughter; Dax, Jadzia (illusory); day; Denorios belt; deputy; dermal regenerator; Derry; DiMaggio, Joe; dimensional shift; dinner; dwarf; ear; emergency medical kit; environmental control; exothermic reaction; fairy tale; farmer; Federation; female junior lieutenant; Ferengi; fever; fire; fish; flux density; folded space; gold; ground ball; Gunji jackdaw; habitat ring; hallucination; Hanoli rift; Hanoli system; Harry; heart; holding cell; hologenerator; hologram; holosuite; home run; homework; horse; hour; imagination; impulse engine; impulse sustainer; intruder alert; Jack; joke; junior lieutenant; kilometer; king; kingdom; Larosian virus; lease; level one personal sweep; life support; locust; London Kings; lunch; magnetic shock wave; medical tricorder; Milky Way Galaxy; minute; Nagus; Newsom, Eddie; Old Crow; ops; optical scanner; painting; perimeter sensor; plasma field; playmate; poorhouse; promenade; prophet; proton; pulse wave; pulse wave device; pulse wave initiator; pulse wave torpedo; pylon; quarters; queen; raktajino; red alert; Replimat; rift; second; security sweep; senior officer; sensor; shapeshifter; shields; sir; snow; sonic shower; souvenir; Speaker, Tris; squeaker; Stadius; stake; station log; storybook; straw; stuffed animal; subspace; subspace disruption; subspace oscillation; subspace rupture; subspace scanner; Tartaran landscape; three-dimensional chess; thoron emission; thoron field; torpedo; torpedo guidance; trollop; visual scanner; Vulcan; Vulcan science vessel; wanted poster; warp engine; wave intensity analysis; wave intensity pattern; Williams, Ted; tricorder; World Series; wormhole; year; yellow alert

External links Edit

Previous episode:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 1
Next episode:
"The Forsaken"

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