Roughly around the time the Pah-Wraiths were introduced in DS9 (Season 6), Benjamin Sisko started having visions that implied his life was really the creation of Benny Russell, an author in 1950s New York. These visions caused Sisko to question his decisions, and nearly prevented him from opening the Orb of the Emissary in S07:E02 (Shadows and Symbols). It occurred to me that the Benny Russell visions could be a creation of the Pah-Wraiths designed to make the Emissary falter.

Has anyone involved with the DS9 production commented on where the Benny Russell visions originated from or what their purpose was, specifically on whether or not they came from the Prophets or Pah-Wraiths?

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    In-universe, the visions came from them both. The first time, the vision was from the Prophets, but in season 7, the Wraiths take part (where Benny is in an asylum)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 21:43
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    I've made a little edit for you with regards to our policies on tag hierarchies, I suggest you have a quick read of that (if you haven't) and familiarise yourself with the conventions we try to maintain :) good day!
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 22:10
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    Why should the vision come from either the Prophets or the Pah-Wraiths? Why can't they just be a psychological problem of Sisko? Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 18:55
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    @M.A.Golding - Bashir confirmed that the visions coincided with a change in Sisko's synaptic potentials, which was something he couldn't explain and could be indicative of external influence
    – Omegacron
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 19:32
  • @NKCampbell - make that an answer with something to back it up and I'll accept it.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


Memory Alpha's article on "Far Beyond the Stars" assumes that Sisko's "Benny Russell" experience in that story is a vision from the Prophets. While not citing writer or producer commentary, it does reference lines of dialogue within the Benny Russell vision as corroboration, such as

Then, as he's almost home, Russell hears a preacher (Joseph) on a street corner who seems to be speaking directly to Benny. "Write those words, Brother Benny!" the preacher advises – write the words of the "God of the spirits of the prophets."

MA similarly assumes, and the story itself certainly does seem to bear it out without ever explicitly saying so, that Sisko's vision in "Shadows and Symbols" comes instead from the Pah-wraiths, who have a clear interest in distracting or preventing Sisko from completing what he's trying to do. The problem here is that Sisko never describes his vision to anyone in the story. He just behaves oddly until he breaks through and releases the Prophet who was once also Sarah Sisko.

Various interviews after the series wrapped up note that the writers toyed with the idea of ending the series on a pull-out to Benny Russell, sitting on a set, about to watch his stories adapted into a television series, thus suggesting that the entire series was actually his fictional creation in the first place--that Benny Russell was always real and Sisko always not--but that they decided that, in order for that to work, they would have had to have introduced Benny Russell much earlier in the series.

  • "for that to work, they would have had to have introduced Benny Russell much earlier in the series" - and it would have invalidated the entire Trek canon and made it all Benny's stories (Sisko met Picard and traveled back in time to TOS era). Problematic to say the least but a cool idea
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 14:31

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