It would be difficult to even consider Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a western, but that was the original idea proposed by Brandon Tartikoff, who was involved in the creation of the series and had previously been the President of NBC Entertainment before moving to Paramount Pictures. In fact, Tartikoff wanted the show to be like “The Rifleman in Space.”
To anyone who isn’t familiar with The Rifleman, it was a series that ran from 1958-1963 and focused on father Lucas McCain and his son, Mark. The two left their own hometown after Mark’s mother died, leaving Lucas to raise his son alone. The two braved a new frontier in New Mexico where Lucas had bought a ranch. A lot of the focus was on the single parent aspect, and that is part of what intrigued Tartikoff when Deep Space Nine was being discussed.
And if you can’t wrap your head around how the series could have possibly been a western in space, you’re not alone. Though Deep Space Nine does have some “frontier” elements as Sisko is in unchartered territory, both at the Bajoran wormhole and as a single father, there is little else to connect it to a western with blazing rifles and 19th century drama.
Tartikoff’s idea didn’t pass muster fortunately, and the western theme was abandoned. It is interesting, though, to think about exactly what he had in mind when he was thinking of a western. Would there have been horses? Cattle? Ranches in space? Or was he thinking more of the lines of Space Cowboys? We’ll never know the answers to these questions, but speculating can be half the fun. Can you imagine Captain Sisko in a cowboy hat? How about Odo in boots fighting the lawless crowd on the promenade and Kira wearing a holster for the fast draw of her laser? Okay, so maybe that isn’t what Tartikoff had in mind, but it is what comes to mind when we see “western.”