Odo doesn't eat and doesn't sleep - he just reverts to his liquid form and stays that way for a few hours. But that surely generates no energy. With that in mind, how does he get the energy that he needs to survive?

up vote 23 down vote accepted

From the Memory Alpha page on Changelings:

Since Changelings do not eat, "Robert Wolfe used to theorize," said Ronald D. Moore, "that the Changelings pulled their energy directly from subspace (or some [other] quasi-scientific realm)." Wolfe's theory also stated that "Changelings use some sort of subspace 'pocket' to store additional mass during a morph."

This obviously non-canon recounting by one DS9 writer about another writer's harebrained ideas appears to be the closest to any canonical explanation of changeling metabolism, since the only on-screen references to eating are to explicitly say that they don't eat.

Directly from the webchat on September 12th, 1997 with unnamed questioners and Ronald Moore that Memory Alpha gets its quote from:

Questioner: Do you know what Odo uses as an energy source? I've asked this once before, but Odo doesn't eat food...and he sure doesn't use energizer batteries...

Moore: Robert Wolfe used to theorize that the Changelings pulled their energy directly from subspace (or some over quasi-scientific realm we have yet to establish) but it's not a question we're exactly foaming at the mouths to address on the show since it would lead us back into the Land of Technobabble.

And a chat on January 30th, 1998 also with Ronald Moore:

Questioner: And (sorry) how can Odo change his shape without altering his mass? If he turns into a rat, wouldn't he be an extremly heavy rat? What happens to his mass? Sorry about all the ?s

Moore: I have no idea. Robert Wolfe was a proponent of the theory that the Changelings use some sort of subspace "pocket" to store additional mass during a morph, but we've been careful not to address this issue directly since it's a good question without a really good answer.

  • Probably something to do with the morphogenic matrix, but as your answer says it was never explicitly covered in the show. – Xantec Oct 10 at 22:00
  • I've never understood why people are so afraid of technobabble. Apparently even the writers were! Isn't it a science-fiction show? – Ham Sandwich Oct 11 at 14:18
  • @HamSandwich Not really, no; it was a character drama set in space! – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 11 at 14:31
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    @HamSandwich, I'm one of the nerds who dislikes technobabble when it doesn't apply to the plot. I.e., being unable to go to warp because the inertial dampers failed could be a great plot point if the obvious way out of trouble is to go to warp. Most of the time, inertial dampers failing has no consequence. It's something shouted while the crew is in combat, and brings me out of immersion. Canonizing changelings being trans-subspace beings would be a way to detect subspace disturbances using established Trek tech, which pokes more holes in changelings on Earth, which is important to the plot. – Ghedipunk Oct 11 at 16:59
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    @Ghedipunk: I always thought the point of "inertial dampers failing" was "...and that's why we get to shake the camera, which is ostensibly more dramatic than not shaking the camera." – Kevin Oct 16 at 20:22

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