Spy & Sly Snape

Elim Garak

Star Trek - Deep Space Nine


Garak is really one of my favourite!! I believe lots of Snape fans would like him, too. That's why I provided much more detail about him then with others! Here are Quotes: my favourite Snappish ones from Garak! You'll recognize the same Snape attitude to life!!


Summary and analysis

Some more information and quotes at Garak's Tailor Shop  or Garak's Shop

Garak, a man who understands so well the falsity of truth and the reality of lies, and for whom a lie can be so much more merciful than the truth. 
Elim Garak is a character in the fictional Star Trek - Deep Space Nine series. At first, he was cast for one episode only, but then he was asked to do a lot more!  Through the 7 seasons, he got more and more screen time and importance. Of course, in Star Trek, there are different races. Garak is a Cardassian, the alien counterpart of the German/Japanese nations, in my opinion. Very proud people who managed to make lying into a real art!  

History:  Reference

Garak was a spy for the Obsidian Order. The Obsidian Order is a Cardassian secret police organization. The show's Security Chief, Odo, once "remarked that it was one of the most brutally efficient organizations in the galaxy. The Order kept very close tabs on all Cardassian citizens to ensure loyalty, and was greatly feared. It was said that the average Cardassian could not sit down to dinner without the contents of the said meal being noted and logged by the Order. Odo also noted that the Order caused people to disappear for even less than eating something the order did not approve of. Enabran Tain is a Cardassian military leader, and the only leader of the Obsidian Order who lived long enough to retire." A lot like the Death Eaters if you ask me!!  Of course they were not all bad like them, but you know what happens when secret services take control of a government!!

Tain was in fact Garak's father, but since he was an illegitimate child, he  admitted it only on the day he died!  Garak knew and always strived to get his father's respect and admiration even though his father was always harsh with him. Cardassian punishments are far worst than ours I assure you!! Still, Garak showed his utter and devoted engagement in the Order.  He committed many murders, tortures, interrogations and such as a spy. Very skilled and dangerous!! Like Snape as a Death Eater I'm sure!

However, as with any Snape there was an event which changed everything:  one day Garak let children escape interrogation instead of killing them. He said he was then cold and hungry and didn't want to go on doing this pointless interrogation since the kids knew nothing. He gave them all the money he had on him, let them off the hook, and went home. Garak always regretted letting his feelings rule over him in that event. He seemed to be angry at him for just slacking off duty thanks to his stomach, but it was more than that. Had it not been children, Garak would have continued his interrogation/torture duties. But they were clueless children, so along with his need for a hot place and meal, he saved those innocents. This resulted in his exile by Tain. In such an organisation, it's like betraying Voldemort's orders to kill someone! You can't do that!   It was a big blow to Garak because he had betrayed his organisation, but also his father. And family is everything for his race.  Ouch!  

Garak started anew on Deep Space Nine station  (the name was Terok Nor then), which was ruled by his people at the time. This station is next to Bajor, a planet invaded by the Cardassians.  (Consider the Cardassians like Hitler's Nazi and the Bajorans like Jews.  Hence, Garak is a kind of non recognised Shindler to them, so they accept him even though he doesn't meddle with them. But they don't like him because he has two-faces. At least, they tolerate him!) He was mistreated there because of his past.  If I'm not wrong, he worked for the Underground which tried to free Bajor (the planet next to Deep Space Nine) from his people.  That made him enemies of course!  So when the Federation arrived and liberated the Bajor nation, he stayed there. What a better place to be exiled!  Bajorans hate Cardassians because they made them slaves for 40years, so Garak thought this was indeed the best place where not to meet any more Cardassians.  Still, he was always on the receiving end of other people's contempt and disgust because he was a Cardassian.  Just like Snape being an ex-Death Eater!  So he was always alone.  

He was a tailor on DS9, but always continued spying in the background. No one ever caught him! He does know a lot still, and operates in secret. He always denies his activities though because they are so well planned and faultless.

However, Garak always retained a strong attachment to his planet and people. All his spying actions from then on were always for the good of his people. He believes in democracy and hates the military government in place. Hence, even though Garak looks like he is egoist, he will do anything for his people!  

His one and only friend on the station is Dr. Julian Bashir  (Chief Medical Officer of Deep Space Nine). He is a lot like Watson to Holmes if you will.  Julian represents the light side Garak is capable of dealing with while he does not with others. Still, even with Julian, Garak is very secretive, never invited him over to his private quarters for example. They have regular meals together in a restaurant. And they also play together in the Hologram Suits.  Thanks to their conversations, we learn about Garak. Especially how often he lies to confound people and such. He is distrustful, but he is funny about it. In a very sarcastic way!  : )  See his quotes, very good and Snappish!

As the series evolves, Garak gets more and more important.  "When the Dominion War engulfed the Alpha Quadrant (the universe is divided in 4 quadrants), Garak was essential in providing intelligence on Cardassia to the Federation. Although this caused intense guilt, he realized that helping fight his people was the only way to save them. In 2375, Garak returned home to help out the Cardassian underground and thus helped in the defeat of the Dominion " So you see, Garak always does what is good, but according to his own interests. In his case, his people or his person.  A very Slytherin approach.  He saved the day on more than one occasion, sometimes with unethical means which were not approved by the Federation, but still, he succeeded!  Garak knows the rule of the game!  

After the war, Garak was able to remain home on Cardassia. With 800 million dead, and the Cardassian homeworld virtually destroyed by the Dominion, it proved to be a bitter-sweet moment for Garak

Also more on this website DS9 Encyclopedia

Quotes: my favourites Snappish ones here

Traits of character:

What is there more to say?  
-Well, that his main weapon is lying because he doesn't trust people. While Snape hold on information, he lies to protect himself.  You never know if what he says is true. For example, the day he was told "the boy who called to the wolf story" he said the moral of the story was not that lying was bad, more that you should never use the same lie twice!  Also, he once said: ""The truth is just an excuse for a lack of imagination".  So you see, for Garak, lying is an art and a necessaty!  

-He has a very sly personality . Though Snape does not smile as much, he still does when he has a bad comment to make about Harry or Neville. With Garak, you can notice that trait in his smile.  He smiles like he knows a lot more than you, hence you feel belittled or afraid. It's like saying: "don't meddle with things you don't understand".  His smile also serves to hide his true feelings. When he is on an important spying-like mission, believe me, he does not smile at all!  He is even scary so.  

-Like Snape he is very secretive and never divulges his information unless it's necessary. Very Slytherin indeed. He has this reptilian approach to life really. His actor said this about him: AndrewRobinson: People are pawns in his world, to be moved any way he needs them to be moved. He looks for people's weaknesses to exploit them. He admires strong people, but only at an arm's length. He has no close relationships. He's a loner. Reference

-He tries to win back his people's confidence: he was very much against one regime (of Gul Dukat) and he wants to save his people from that even though he's been considered a traitor.  In the end of the series, he goes back to his planet to do just that!  

-He is very cunning, witty and intelligent

-He's in exile and so the only one of his kind on Deep Space Nine

-He always helps the Federation when the cause is just for him or his people. He will answer to coersion against him. However as capable as he is of being really helpful, he can also be a total bastard on certain occasions, just like when Snape disagrees with Dumbledore or stops Harry from doing the right thing.  He has other methods and values from the others, just like I imagine Snape differs from the other teachers.

-Like Snape, he has this sense of seeing the world as it is: often a very harsh, unfair  place. 

-Keeps people away by being unfailingly polite or highly sarcastic. Also, he can make undiplomatic comments about people he meets or deals with because he blows the naked truth at them. Very Snapish!

-Knows how to spot a cute lady, but will not make a move on her.  He's way too distrustful for engaging in a relationship with anybody.

-His love life is the replica of most Hermione/Snape fanfictions.  Really!  Ziyal was the daughter of Gul Dukat, the Cardassian ruler who was very much against Garak.  Garak was a spy against Dukat in his time but pretends to be a simple tailor now even though he still spies a lot from Deep Space Nine. Therefore, like Slytherin and Gryffindor, Garak and Ziyal were not supposed to fall for each other at all!  Garak even killed and tortured her grand-father as a spy!  When Ziyal came to Deep Space Nine for protection, he became very suspicious of her.  He was sure she wanted revenge for her grandfather.  But that was not it at all.  Recognise Snape's untrusting character yet?  When she invited him for a Cardassian sauna, he brought a weapon with him. But she just wanted a sauna with another Cardassian because she felt lonely (she was half Bajoran so also an illegitimate child).  That's when for the first time he trusted someone from his own kind again.  That was so sweet!  Afterwards, their relationship developed slowly.  He was often cold and reluctant as if he couldn't understand.

Ziyal: Why don't you just let Garak design a dress on his own? You know whatever he comes up with will be beautiful.
Garak: My dear, I find your blind adoration both flattering and disturbing, but she does have a point."

Ziyal is such a kind woman (artist) and you could see she totally won Garak's confidence even though he would never have admitted so.  When he had to flee once, it showed she loved him and he loved her.

"Ziyal: Well, what's going to happen to you?
Garak: Ooh well, let me tell you a story. I once knew a Cardassian, a dashing, handsome young man with a promising career, but one day, through no fault of his own, he found himself exciled and alone with nowhere to turn. But did he give up? No. He struck upon a brilliant plan: instead of fleeing for the rest of his life he sought shelter in the one place no one expected him to go: in a stronghold of his people's most hated enemies. There, surrounded by hostile strangers, he built a life and there, against all odds, against the merciless logic of the universe itself, he thrived.
Ziyal: By becoming the greatest tailor in the galaxy.
Garak: And the moral of the story, my dear, is to never underestimate my gift for survival."

 She kissed him and he was so surprised by that!  He was all tensed!  When he came back, she died for the same cause as Garak.  She was dead when he found her. He didn't go crazy about it, but he sure looked saddened. Someone who knows Garak noticed how he was affected by that.  Interestingly, when Kira (who had been against their being together) told him: "She loved you", he answered : "I could never figure out why... I guess I never will".  You see how much he doesn't think himself worthy of love.  So much like Snape I think.  In the end, he went back to his planet to help his people.


Someone told me there's a complete Deep Space Nine novel about him called "A Stitch in Time" by Andrew Robinson (who played Garak in DS9).  They also wrote a DS9 follow up series in a three book collection! The first one is about Cardassia after Garak goes back home, along with O'Brien!  Hope to read it someday!


As seen in these two playing cards, Garak has two lifes: spy and tailor. He switches between these two persona at will and depending on the circumstances. However, in both, he he both the same Garak. He just admits to more skills in one that's all! You have both his resumes included!

Again, I am amazed so many people like Snape-like character but, as in those books or movies, they are not so in reality!! They always are alone!!  Yet they have such a strong fandom follow up!  Amazing!!

From an interview with the actor:

Over time Garak became a major character/plot mover, did you ever expect he would become so popular?

AndrewRobinson: Never.

AndrewRobinson: It was a total surprise.

AndrewRobinson: I was originally hired to do one episode, and the fact that I'm here now, talking about Garak like this, never ceases to amaze me.