The female changeling nearly always appears in a female-Odo-like-version. I understand that she uses that form when negotiating with the Federation or meeting Odo, which is explained in other questions and answers. But that is not my question. She even keeps this form when Odo (or someone else from the Federation) is not around.

Why does she not take the appearance of a lifeform of the Gamma Quadrant (Jem'Hadar, Vorta, ...) or at least the form of allied species (Cardassian, Breen), when only together with them? Before coming to the Alpha Quadrant, they did not know how humans looked, so they must have another appearance when communicating with species there. Why did she not use this appearance? I remember that they replaced Martok with a changeling, so they should have the ability to take form of their allies or minions.

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Is this ever explained in the series?


3 Answers 3


If I recall, the changelings didn't trust the solids enough to "not appear" humanoid. Odo himself is very self conscious about being seen in "his bucket" or otherwise during those times he just can't maintain his humanoid shape. Very few people are invited to see changelings in their natural state, Kira being one of those few.

  • yes, but why does she not take a Vorta, cardassian, etc. form when only together with there minions and allies, but the human form, which is the enemy... If they dont trust the solids enough to not appear in humanoid form, they must have appearad to the vorta and Jem'Hadar in an humanid form when first encoutering them in gamma quadrant, why dont use it now, but only odos human-like form, even if he is not around...
    – kl78
    Oct 27, 2015 at 14:11
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    She doesn't take a human form, she and they in general take a loosely humanoid form. Most aliens in Star Trek are humanoids from an appearance point of view. If she approximated more cardassian maybe she'd have more prominent eye sockets or something, but it would be so vague I don't think you'd even notice.
    – Escoce
    Oct 27, 2015 at 14:17
  • Hm, ok, can you post a quote or reference to the information your last comment? I remember that only odo had the problems and she took that form because of him when she first mets him, then never changes the form in the rest of the series even when he is not around, which is strange for me, because none of there allies are humans... But if this their generell and only humanoid appearance, you are right and i will accept your answer, but never heard this before...
    – kl78
    Oct 27, 2015 at 14:21
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    They also replaced martok with a changeling, so they could do a klingon, why not a cardassian?
    – kl78
    Oct 27, 2015 at 14:28
  • No, Odo didn't have a problem. I can't come up with a quote, and wouldn't even begin to have the time to really hunt one down, but we can extrapolate from what we DO know. Early on in the series Odo is asked about his more fluid approximation of human form. He says he can take on a more detailed form, but that it is more work to sustain and will tire him out sooner. Just because she chooses the same approximation is by no means just simple diplomacy or deference. The changelings would NEVER admit a weakness. Additionally, and again most aliens are of humanoid form anyway.
    – Escoce
    Oct 27, 2015 at 14:31

There are countless examples that show the changelings despise all solids; the form she chooses is a basic humanoid form (no specifics features from any one species). What you're asking is the same as why didn't Sisko get pointy ears when he meets with the Romulans - it's insulting to both species (especially when the Founders think other species are lower life forms, and have no desire to try to make 'lower life forms' more comfortable).

They are proud of being different and superior; the basic form allows communication whilst simultaneously emphasizing she is a 'god among insects'; she won't belittle herself by assuming a form to fit in.

She says this to Odo, implying death was preferable to being a humanoid:

Female Shapeshifter: Ah, poor Odo. Perhaps we should have killed you. It would have been far less cruel. [After the Founders have turned Odo into a "solid"]

And this (again she's proud of being different) - the human form is only to interact, nothing more; she wants to control solids, not be like them:

Major Kira: You belong to the Dominion, don't you?

Female Shapeshifter: Belong to it? Major, the Changelings are the Dominion.

Odo: [understanding] You are the Founders!

Female Shapeshifter: Ironic, isn't it? The hunted now control the destinies of hundreds of other races.

Odo: But... why control anyone?

Female Shapeshifter: Because what you can control, can't hurt you.

Odo: How do you justify the deaths of so many people?

Female Shapeshifter: The Solids have always been a threat to us. That's the only justification we need.

Odo: But these Solids have never harmed you. They travel the galaxy in order to expand their knowledge, just as you once did.

Female Shapeshifter: The Solids are nothing like us.

Odo: No - I suppose they're not. And neither am I.

And finally the only time she takes full humanoid appearance is to understand Odo not wanting to join them:

Odo: But why lead us here? Why replace Major Kira?

Female Shapeshifter: I needed to understand why you chose to live with the solids rather than your own people. I suspected it had something to do with Major Kira. Now, I'm certain of it.

Female Shapeshifter: Save her, if it suits you. But it won't make any difference. She is never going to love you. How could she? You are a Changeling.

This all points to them wanting to be different, being proud of it, and having no need to belittle themselves by pleasing solids.

One more thing too: if you were a politician going to China I'm pretty sure you would not squint your eyes to look like the locals (might not go down too well).

  • Could you explain the downvote please?
    – Matt
    Nov 8, 2016 at 14:33
  • No idea about the down vote, but this bit — “What your'e asking is the same as why didn't Sisko get pointy ears when he meets with the Romulans” — doesn’t quite seem accurate. Nov 8, 2016 at 15:03
  • Oh! Also your last sentence sounds a wee bit racist. Nov 8, 2016 at 15:06
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    @PaulD.Waite - That was one of the reasons I downvoted. The bit about Sisko was just puzzling
    – Valorum
    Nov 8, 2016 at 15:11
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    That's what I was trying to point out, imitating features of another race (or nation) could be interpreted wrongly as being insulting/racist, even if its a changeling doing it (and sticking to the generic humanoid would prevent such misinterpretation). It only sounds racist because I used an example that people could associate with today, I'm sure sure sure other species would view it the same. No offence is intended!!
    – Matt
    Nov 8, 2016 at 15:15

First and foremost because she is the, not merely a or any other female changeling.

We might, from 'our' point of view, compare her to the Borg Queen… very much like and at the same time utterly unlike her minions.

Part of Mrs Changeling's function is to appear to every-race other in either quadrant not as an individual with anything like Odo's whimsical ideas of what form to take when, but as an icon; a thematic image of how changelings might like to be seen, underpinned with various religiously significant memes and tropes.

She keeps that form when no-one from the Federation is around for reasons similar to how and why actors stay 'in role' when they're off screen or stage.

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    Can you offer any evidence to back up these bold statements about her intentions?
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2023 at 22:17
  • Valorum, that query refutes what I tried to put across, being that 'her intentions' don't exist, as such. Do you doubt that she, or anything about her, is meant to represent the Link as a whole? I said nothing about her intentions and of course I back up those bold statements only by pointing out that they are half the point of Western literature… not something to explore here but do raise a specific Question. I merely watched the episodes and considered how general principles of culture, ethics, literature, religion, philosophy and the like might apply. Can't you do that? Dec 22, 2023 at 22:45
  • That's a very long-winded way of saying "no".
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2023 at 22:46
  • Sorry, Valorum. I'm glad I'm not responsible for your background knowledge, and I'm not! That was a polite way of saying 'why not watch those episodes again, consider them in much more detail and if they lose you, Post any queries here?' Dec 22, 2023 at 22:57
  • So your evidence is, if I can paraphrase, every episode in which this character appears or is mentioned.
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2023 at 23:06

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