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It is mentioned in The Forsaken (S1E17) that when he first took humanoid form, Odo mimicked the hairstyle of Dr Mora, the Bajoran scientist who was studying him. In a later episode, The Alternate (S2E12), we get to actually see the doctor, and indeed the resemblance is very obvious:

dr Mora

Note that this is before we find out who the Dominion and the Founders are, and what they look like.

So why do other Changelings, when in humanoid form, so often have the same distinctive hairstyle? I'm thinking first and foremost of the Female Changeling, but several others qualify as well.

female changeling another changeling

What's the point? Are they imitating Odo? Is there any explanation in canon, or did the writers just forget where Odo's hairstyle came from?

  • It's likely that imitating another life-form exactly is more strenuous than a rough approximation like Odo's. It's possible that it's simply more efficient to assume a "baby skilled" shape when an exact imitation is not required, such as when infiltrating. – CJ Dennis Oct 10 '17 at 4:33
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From Memory Alpha - Changeling entry: Background Information Section

  • The Changelings frequently assumed a form similar to that of Odo; however, Odo's unique appearance was the product of his difficulty with assuming convincing humanoid forms, not mandated by his racial makeup.

  • Since other Changelings have no difficulty in convincingly assuming humanoid forms, they must therefore assume an "Odoid" form out of choice. This may be because before meeting Odo and the races of the Alpha Quadrant, they had no need to reveal themselves individually to outsiders, and thus had no need for a unique humanoid form to differentiate themselves from other species. Odo would have provided them with a useful template.

From an AOL Chat with Ronald D. Moore (DS9 writer)

  • "Odo modeled his look after Dr. Mora and the Founders then modeled their look after Odo. They did this initially as a compliment and way of reaching out to their long-lost Changeling, and later they kept doing it as a dig and reminder to him of his own limitations." (AOL chat, 1997)
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    Thanks for the Moore quote, good find! I wonder what Dr Mora would think of the invaders of the Alpha Quadrant all having his hairdo :P – Junuxx Dec 14 '12 at 7:54
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    Still, after thinking some more... this doesn't explain why the Jem'Hadar and Vorta recognize Odo as a Founder, does it? I get the impression they are already quite accustomed to the "Odoid" form when they first meet Odo. – Junuxx Dec 14 '12 at 16:39
  • AOL? What's that? </sarcasm> – Iszi Dec 19 '12 at 16:10
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    @Junuxx: tragically, Doctor Mora was beaten to death on Bajor during the Dominion War after being mistaken for a Founder. – Paul D. Waite Jun 4 '15 at 11:19
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    @PaulD.Waite: Source? Joke? I can't tell. – Junuxx Jun 6 '15 at 1:03
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I'm inclined to say that hair is a vanity that Changelings largely don't care about, but the Founders didn't necessarily copy it from Odo.

Laas, another Changeling

Laas is a Changeling who, like Odo, had never met his people. But he has a similar hairstyle, although the rest of his face is styled less like the other Changelings. Odo and Laas likely gave themselves hair (rather than being bald) to better fit in with the solids.

But because they are shapeshifters they tend towards simple styles that don't require much focus to keep in check — remember, unlike us humans, every piece of a Changeling must be consciously controlled. Odo may well have copied Dr. Mora, but for Laas to choose the same style...? The slicked-back look allows them to look like they have hair, while not needing to focus on it very much to keep it in check.

The particular hair color the founders chose may have been copied from Odo, but that doesn't explain why they were all wearing dresses. Kira and Odo were both wearing pants.

So while I can't say the writers did forget, it seems like a fair possibility from my perspective. Or, perhaps better said to be a retcon - the writers probably wanted something about the human form of the Changelings to be consistent across the entire species, and the similarities to Odo's default form was the best way to do it.

  • As we discover later, the Changelings so a lot about Solids in general. They don't have to exploit only the evidence at hand from Odo and Kira solely. – ThePopMachine Dec 14 '15 at 16:44
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    Note, Laas didn't assume a humanoid form until after he saw Odo, so it stands to reason that aspects of his appearance are copied from Odo's appearance. Especially considering that, based on Laas' backstory, it seems like he hasn't assumed a humanoid form for quite some time. – shim Jul 27 '17 at 19:20
  • @shim: But then, Laas forms a face with forehead bulges. The way it was made to appear, I always had the impression it was supposed to be Laas's individual attempt to imitate an "average humanoid appearance" matching the species he had met before. – O. R. Mapper Oct 10 '17 at 9:19
  • Yea so it is slightly different but clearly his hair and his facial structure are influenced by Odo's – shim Oct 10 '17 at 13:25
  • I always wanted to hear Garak say to the female changeling: "And you...choose to look like that?" – Emsley Wyatt Feb 27 '18 at 23:41
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Odo based his appearance on Dr Mora - when he encountered the changelings/Founders they decided to copy Odo's appearance in order to put him (and Kira) at ease.

It is established that the Founders are much more adept at mimicking humanoids than Odo - but they continue to use the same facial form as Oda as a default throughout the series, although there is no stated reason for this. Personally, I think this is a mark of their hubris - being humaniod is tiresome (as in a dull old chore, rather than tiring), and so they only put a little bit of effort into it unless they want to infiltrate as a human/klingon/etc.

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    They mention frequently that it is tiresome to keep the same form for a longer time, but from what I gathered, the act of assuming complex forms is very interesting and even enjoyable, at least to Odo, who was fascinated by "being a tree" or imitating the sculpture-like objects in his quarters. So I'm not sure "only putting a little bit of effort into it" is a good explanation. The rest makes sense to me though. – Junuxx Dec 14 '12 at 16:45
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I think the quote from Ronald Moore explained it well.

Odo was copying Dr. Mora as best he could. Remember, Odo is practically a infant or toddler compared to most other changlings.

When Odo first returns to the changling home world they probably took a form similar to him (with genders to match him and Kiera) in order to make him feel at home with his own kind. It's always easier to relate to people who look like yourself. They probably respond that way to any changling that returns home.

After that, it makes sense for them to keep that form especially when dealing with Odo because they want him to stay with them and they want him to feel guilty for betraying his own people. and aside from infiltration, it makes sense to keep a consistent form when dealing with other solids. Otherwise people would get confused, not least of which would be the audience. It doesn't make much sense to talk to Odo looking like him and then change into a perfect looking solid to talk to anyone else.

On top of that, the changlings look down on solids as inferior species. So they wouldn't be inclined to mimic them consistently (except of course when it benefits them in some way to do so)

Now the question is why it's so hard for Odo to mimic a face, but he can mimic any other solid object perfectly, like when he becomes a bird. If he didn't do it perfectly he wouldn't be able to fly.

And speaking of flying, it makes relative (in sci-fi land) sense that he can change shape (he's technically a liquid), and size (by altering his density) but how can he change his mass? He's not gaining and losing atoms every time he shape shifts. So if he shape shifted into something really big, he would become less dense than air and would float away, and if he became really really tiny, he would become a black hole.

They could put one sentence in 7 or 8 seasons giving some sci-fi reasoning (like they do with all the other impossible stuff in Star Trek) and I'd go along with it. But every show and movie that has someone changing shape/size seems to skip that part.

When we don't understand how something works it becomes basically magic rather than science (or science fiction) and that's not what we want out of a trek show.

/end rant

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    This is not the site for rants. Please provide answers supported by evidence. – ThePopMachine Dec 14 '15 at 16:41
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    Hi RadicalxEdward, welcome to scifi stackexchange! Like @ThePopMachine said, this site somewhat strictly adheres to a Q&A format, as opposed to an open discussion platform for opinion and speculation. Because of this, your answer will probably get downvoted or removed. But don't be discouraged! The thing you're wondering about changelings changing their mass could be a good new question to ask here :) – Junuxx Dec 14 '15 at 18:16
  • I agree you, but I think, Odo has other problems as well. He doesn't eat. Where he gets energy then from? Also the Jem'Hadar doesn't eat. That little White Ketracel isn't enough for him to survive on purely chemical means. I think, these could happen by some subspace thing. – Gray Sheep Jun 11 '17 at 23:34

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