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It's mentioned on a number of occasions that Odo's appearance is due to his lack of skill in imitating specific humanoid forms. We also know that other Changelings have no difficulty in assuming convincing humanoid forms as they have infiltrated and replaced a number of humanoids in the Alpha quadrant (one example is Homefront, when Admiral Leyton is replaced by a Changeling, who also mentions Odo's inability to mimic humans).

Knowing all of this—why do the founders (all other Changelings?) look similar to Odo in their "normal" (i.e. not imitating any specific person or species) humanoid form?

marked as duplicate by Jason Baker, Politank-Z, Community Nov 10 '16 at 14:12

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  • Perhaps initially so Odo would recognize them and feel more at ease. Then going forward, why reveal before necessary an ability to replicate alpha quadrant species perfectly? – 1252748 Nov 10 '16 at 0:39
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    Out of universe, it's for easy identification by the viewer. – Tim Nov 10 '16 at 2:03

It's not entirely clear why they chose those forms (nor why they persisted in keeping them in later episodes) but the script direction for The Search, Part I gives us a solid clue. In short, they seem to have chosen to look like Odo because when Odo arrived at their homeworld, that's the form he'd chosen.

[Odo is walking toward the edge of what appears to be a large GELATINOUS LAKE. The lake appears to be made of something other than water. The surface undulates and roils in an unnatural fashion. Odo stops at the edge. Kira stands next to him and there is a long moment as Odo looks down at the strange liquid.]

[Suddenly a portion of the lake begins to MORPH. As Odo and Kira watch in amazement, a group of FOUR SHAPE-SHIFTERS detach themselves from the lake and take on the form of FOUR HUMANOIDS. Their faces have the same "unfinished" look that Odo's does and they appear to wear simple tunics. One FEMALE shapeshifter smiles at Odo and steps towards him.]

FEMALE: Welcome home.

At this point they're unaware of his incapacity to create a realistic face and presumably feel like this form is one that he's intentionally chosen and hence that he'll be most comfortable seeing, not realising that it's a sign of his immaturity as a shape-shifter.

In DS9: Chimera, we learn that an inability to cast faces is something of a trait among "the hundred" infant changelings that were sent out into the Galaxy.

ODO: A changeling.


as it MORPHS into humanoid form. Although its face is similar to Odo's in that its features are smooth and somewhat ill-defined, it's modeled on a humanoid species we've never seen before.

It's definitely male, and we get the sense that he's a bit more adept at mimicking faces than Odo, as his features are more expressive. He wears alien-looking CLOTHES that are more practical than decorative.

They presumably also chose to portray themselves as male and female to reflect the fact that Kira and Odo are different genders.

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