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It was said that a Cardassian citizen could not sit down to a meal without each dish, complete with its preparation and ingredients, being duly noted and recorded by the Obsidian Order. Like the military, the Obsidian Order was supposed to submit to the Detapa Council, but in practice, the Order had far more independent authority. Even members of the Cardassian military were not immune to Obsidian Order inquiries, although Legates could be well connected and protected from the Order's observations; Tekeny Ghemor was able to turn off Obsidian Order listening devices.

He and other well-connected Cardassians frequently reminded high-level Order operatives that the Obsidian Order's charter to operate was a privelege that could be revoked at any time.

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Almost every Cardassian lived in fear of the Order, as its constant surveillance led to sudden eliminations of numerous "traitors. The Order was equally as obsessive in its collection and storage of artifacts and information, never knowing when it might become useful in the future. Among its vaults were archaeological finds from across the quadrant, art, cryogenically stored biological samples and cadavers, banks of computer drives storing an exhaustive variety of information, and more.

However, after Cardassia joined the Dominion in , the Order's role was replaced by the Cardassian Intelligence Bureau , which was just as effective, if not more so. In fact, when Elim Garak attempted to contact some associates of his, who were on Cardassia Prime in , every one of them was found and killed within one day of speaking to him. Garak called it " a testament to the effectiveness of Dominion security, " adding, " One should admire such The governing body of Cardassia was the Cardassian Union. The elected Detapa Council had ruled for centuries.

Over the years, the Council's power was usurped by Cardassian Central Command , the military branch of the government, and the Obsidian Order , the intelligence agency , transforming Cardassia into a fascist police state. By the late 24th century , the Central Command's control was slipping, due to civilian protests and the Cardassian dissident movement.

The Obsidian Order had been given limited autonomy and thus took a very active role in Cardassians' lives, but it was forbidden from raising an army and its autonomy could be revoked at any time. The latter half of the 24th century saw significant changes. A secret joint operation between the Obsidian Order and the Romulan Star Empire 's Tal Shiar , intended to cripple the Dominion, raised an armada of ships equipped with cloaking devices.

Led by Enabran Tain , the plan nearly succeeded but had been sabotaged by a Changeling infiltrator.

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The joint Cardassian-Romulan fleet was destroyed utterly at the Battle of the Omarion Nebula , and the staggering losses suffered by the Order, combined with public outcry, had caused its downfall. Without the Obsidian Order to keep the populace in line, the dissidents' power grew and eventually succeeded in securing control of the government. A civilian revolution reinstated the power of the Detapa Council, but this drew the attention of the nearby Klingon Empire.

Claiming that the Detapa Council was replaced by Changelings, Chancellor Gowron and General Martok who was himself under the influence of a Changeling infiltrator initiated the Klingon-Cardassian War , in a thinly veiled attempt to seize control of Cardassian territory. The invasion, combined with terrorist pressure from the Maquis in the Demilitarized Zone , resulted in utter chaos.

In an attempt to restore Cardassia to its former glory, S. Dukat secretly negotiated Cardassia's entry into the Dominion.

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DS9 : " The Way of the Warrior ". When Gul Dukat completed negotiations with the Dominion in , the Detapa Council ceased to exist altogether, just as the Obsidian Order and Central Command had years prior. The majority of Cardassian affairs were thereafter handled by Dukat, since he was placed as the leader of the Cardassian Union and given the rank Legate , though he was constrained to work under the regulations of the Dominion.

While the two groups were occupying Deep Space 9 during the first three months of the Dominion War , Dukat generally controlled the Cardassian and Dominion fleets, with Weyoun overseeing his decisions.

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The two individuals were able to maintain an equal standing with each other, though both were subject to the unquestionable authority of the Founders. Major Kira once noted, however, that the Cardassian and Dominion troops mutually hated each other. Subsequently, it proved relatively easy to turn the groups of opposing troops posted to DS9 against each other, with subtle manipulation on the part of the resistance cell operating on the station. The Cardassian fleet attacks the Breen-Dominion Alliance.

Because the death of his own daughter Ziyal caused Dukat to suffer a breakdown, the responsibility of commanding the Cardassian people as well as holding the rank of Legate was adopted by Damar. Since the new leader lacked the self-confidence and leadership skills of his former mentor and predecessor, however, Weyoun was able to take increasingly more control over the Cardassian people, with Damar becoming little more than a figurehead.

Eventually, Damar had absolutely no say in any political decisions. This became blatantly obvious when Female Changeling made territorial concessions to the Breen in , in order to convince them to ally with the Dominion. Eventually, the Cardassians revolted, and Damar defected to the Cardassian Rebellion as its leader. Legate Broca was installed as a puppet leader, completely under Weyoun's control and subservient to the Breen. Weyoun ordered escalating atrocities against Cardassian civilians attempting to quell the revolt, which enraged the military. Near the end of the Dominion War, the Cardassian fleet turned on the Dominion, allowing the Federation Alliance to gain a decisive advantage during the Battle of Cardassia and eventually win the Dominion War.

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The Cardassians had opted for independence rather than Dominion governance. In the mirror universe , the Cardassians were a founding race of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. DS9 : " Crossover ". In one quantum reality , the Cardassian Union had been overthrown by the Bajorans , who became increasingly aggressive towards the Federation , prior to Riker , was a Cardassian ensign.

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TNG : " Parallels ". By , Cardassian technology had become notably inferior compared to newer classes of starships operated by the Federation , particularly Galaxy -class and Nebula -class vessels. A Cardassian warship was easily destroyed by the USS Phoenix , even when the warship had the ability to penetrate the Phoenix 's shields. The Phoenix 's use of photon torpedoes at long range gave the vessel superiority over the warship. Furthermore, Cardassians on board the USS Enterprise -D made several comments about the superiority of Federation technology, notably the ship's transporter technology, as well as the vessel's sensors , which were able to determine Cardassian transponder codes at long ranges, an ability that Cardassian sensors did not have at the time.

However, the Cardassians did possess the ability to mask the contents of their supply ships from the Enterprise 's scans. TNG : " The Wounded ". Despite advances in Federation technology, the Cardassians remained formidable opponents. While their shield technology matched unfavorably against both Federation and Klingon weapons , Cardassian weapons were quite capable on their own terms. However, the vessels also featured multiple dorsal phaser arrays to deal with attacks by swarms of smaller vessels, such as Maquis raiders and Federation attack fighters.

In battle, Cardassian ships also employed missile weaponry similar to photon torpedoes. Despite the Federation's production of superior vessels by the s , the Federation-Cardassian War featured a stalemate between the two powers. After the conflict ended, Admiral Haden told Captain Picard that the Federation wasn't "prepared for a new sustained conflict" with the Cardassians, revealing that — despite technological advantages and new classes of superior ships — the Cardassians remained a legitimate threat to Starfleet.

During the Klingon-Cardassian War, the Klingons inflicted considerable damage on the Cardassian military due to their sudden, unprovoked invasion. Nevertheless, the Cardassians were able to sustain a stalemate after the invasion was blunted. Compensating for their ships' relative weaknesses, the Cardassians were able to win many engagements by employing unique tactics see above.

Despite its increasing technological inferiority compared to newer Starfleet ships, the bulk of the Cardassian military continued to consist of Galor -class ships.

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While they remained inferior to the Galaxy - and Nebula -class vessels in one-on-one engagements throughout the Dominion War, the Cardassians tended to deploy these ships in attack groups of two or three ships, to compensate for their relative weakness. During the Second Battle of Deep Space 9 , Captain Benjamin Sisko was forced to dispatch two wings of Galaxy -class ships to engage a group of Galor -class destroyers, which posed a serious threat to the Federation's smaller vessels. DS9 : " Sacrifice of Angels ", " Waltz ". By the late 24th century, the Cardassians used beritium , dolamide , kelindide , rhodinium and uridium in the construction of their ships and military equipment.

In its ancient history, before Cardassia became a military dictatorship , the Cardassian society was known as the First Hebitian civilization. It was home to fine art and beautiful architecture. Once the Hebitian civilization fell into decay from lack of natural resources, millions of Cardassians were starving and the planet was subjected to utter chaos. Though the Hebitian society and way of life eventually became extinct, the remaining Cardassians turned to the military to solve their problems. This began the Cardassian policy of expansion into the Milky Way Galaxy , to provide the much-needed natural resources to sustain its population.

Cardassians were capable of interstellar travel by the middle of the 22nd century. At some point before , Organian scientists observed a starship crew that had been infected by a silicon-based virus found on the surface of an M-class planet. During the 24th century , Cardassians were involved in three cataclysmic wars. The first major war was with the Federation in the midth century, which ended in a turbulent peace treaty. TNG : " The Wounded " A second war broke out when the Klingon Empire launched an unprovoked and unjustified invasion into Cardassian territory , after a successful rebellion had overthrown the military's rule.

The Klingons believed the coup to be a result of Changeling infiltration, and therefore attempted to take over the Cardassian Union. The coup was in fact successful, due to the Obsidian Order having collapsed after the Battle of the Omarion Nebula. This war devastated Cardassian infrastructure, with a great loss of life and territory. The third and largest of these conflicts was the Dominion War.

In order to drive out the Klingons from their territory, destroy the Maquis in the Demilitarized Zone and regain Cardassia's status in the Alpha Quadrant, Gul Dukat signed a treaty making Cardassia a member of the Dominion. Cardassian and Dominion forces proceeded to push the Klingon fleet out of Cardassian territory and wipe out the entire Maquis movement within a few days. While initially the alliance with the Dominion seemed to be beneficial to Cardassia, in the long run, it resulted in an exponential loss of life.

Near the end of the Dominion War, Cardassia Prime was struck by Jem'Hadar raids and orbital bombardment from Dominion and Breen forces in orbit of the planet, which attempted to wipe out the Cardassian species entirely for their betrayal. Nearly one billion Cardassians were killed in a few short hours. Jeri Taylor — an executive producer for TNG and the writer of " The Wounded ", the first episode to feature the Cardassians — invented the group name for the species.

So I just played around with the sounds and 'Cardassian' kind of fell into place. The final draft script of "The Wounded" described Cardassians thus: " These are humanoid aliens -- sleek, handsome, intense. It is worth noting that Macet the first Cardassian seen on-screen is the only Cardassian known to wear a beard. An actor who was instrumental in defining the Cardassians was Marc Alaimo. Cinefantastique , Vol.

When Westmore got Alaimo's face-cast, he saw that Alaimo had an unusually long neck, and this led to what Westmore later referred to as "long, sloping, snaky shoulders. In fact, Michael Westmore, who took many of his ideas from wildlife, had been toying with the concept of creating a snake-like makeup, and he regarded the advent of the Cardassians as an opportunity to do so.

Michael Westmore's Aliens : Season One , DS9 Season 1 DVD special features " I created a row of bony ridges, " said Westmore, " that went down the sides of the neck and flared out onto the shoulder tips, giving a strange, menacing appearance, like a praying mantis or a king cobra.

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Michael Westmore's Aliens : Season One , DS9 Season 1 DVD special features " A long neck and sharp, angular face lent itself to that makeup, so it was important to find actors with the proper physical characteristics, " he noted. In terms of the "spoon" design on the forehead of Cardassians, Michael Westmore was influenced by an abstract painting of a woman with a spoon in her forehead. He saw the image one night, while out for dinner with his wife. The painting was in the window of an art gallery.

Using the influential painting as a starting point, Michael Westmore proceeded to create the Cardassians as a relatively complex-looking species with very tough skin.

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