As I understand it, the Ferengi were set up at the beginning of TNG to be the next "big bad" of the galaxy, and their capabilities are described as being equal to the Enterprise's. That being said, they do so much to violate intergalactic law, not to mention irritate and antagonize everyone they encounter, that it seems stunning that no one has launched a photon torpedo down their throats out of pure frustration.

In one episode they attempt to assassinate a Federation captain using a stolen Federation ship, in another they attack two Federation ships during a routine training exercise just because they thought there might be something they could steal. They routinely threaten, bribe, and falsely accuse other races and individuals, regardless of their power or rank. They've kidnapped Betazoid royalty and Federation personnel, they've deliberately tried to destroy property they couldn't purchase, and they don't even seem to apologize for (or even deny!) most of their actions.

I've only seen TNG, not DS9 or Voyager, but does anyone ever comment on why the Ferengi haven't been the subjects of a Klingon or Romulan genocide, or how they seem to commit so many acts of war without ever actually going to war? Even if we assume they are as powerful as the Federation (which the shows seem to walk back a little after their first introduction), they've committed plenty of offenses which would justify a Federation response, let alone a response from one of the more militant galactic powers.

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    Are Klingons and Romulans really prone to genocides? Nero was one guy and his circumstances were a bit out of the ordinary at that.
    – Shisa
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 2:33
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    @Shisa: The Klingons committed genocide against the tribbles. I know of no Romulan equivalent. Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 2:40
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    @JamesSheridan I don't think the word "genocide" can be used in the context of extermination of non-intelligent and dangerous (to the Klingons, at least) pests/animals, can it?
    – Shisa
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 2:52
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    The concept of a "tribble genocide" is a fairly long-established joke among Star Trek fans. It dates back to Worf's pronouncement that "an armada obliterated the tribble homeworld." Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 5:12
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    It's also important to note that each of the listed incidents were carried out by individual Ferengi captains, which their government then denied any involvement with. Politically, the Ferengi are innocent of any wrongdoing.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


The Ferengi fill a valuable position in the Alpha Quadrant, trading useful resources and technology back and forth between various powers, even those that may be at war with one another. The original attempt to establish them as villains in TNG failed miserably, and they were ret-conned into an almost comical species of greedy traders.

A similar position existed in our own world, with European traders, who would have been an easy target for Japanese or Chinese warlords, engaging in trade between the two warring powers in the period of European expansion. There was no reason for the stronger Chinese or Japanese powers to crush the much weaker Europeans - though obviously this would have been isolated to the European trading posts, as the Chinese and Japanese had no way of attacking Europe itself - as they stood to gain more from leaving them alone to continue trading.

This is similar to the situation with the Ferengi in Star Trek. Due to their willingness to trade with anyone - they even trade with the Dominion - and their expressed desire to maintain neutrality, it makes more sense for the various powers in the Alpha Quadrant to maintain Ferenginar as an independent state, rather than to destroy or conquer it. Especially as the Ferengi, while not warlike, are more than capable of defending themselves in the event of an attack, and could easily call upon their trading partners to defend them from outsiders.

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    While kind of a tangent, the premise that "european traders would have been an easy target for Chinese/Japanese warlords" isn't really historical. The chinese and japanese were humiliated during pretty much every conflict of that era (opium wars, black ships, boxer rebellion, etc), and china did want to get rid of the traders that distributed opium. Your conclusions about the Ferengi are fine but they don't really match the historical parallel
    – Lawton
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 3:58
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    @Lawton: Wrong time period. I'm referring to the period of the initial arrival of Portuguese and Spanish traders in the Far East, around the time of the three great unifiers (Oba Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu) in Japan, culminating in the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Basically from the late 15th to the early 17th centuries. At that time the Far Eastern powers - even Korea - were more than a match for the Europeans. It's my fault for not specifying that in my answer. The Europeans, obviously, became far more powerful than China and Japan later. Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 5:06
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    I imagined a latnum-slip based weapon system. Give up a slip and fire phasers. Once.
    – Petersaber
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 6:26
  • We know from ST: TNG that the Ferengi had formidable warships in their fleet (see memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/D%27Kora_class) that were a match for the Enterprise - the Ferengi were not completely defenseless.
    – RobertF
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 19:38

A Nitpick

Star Trek takes place in the Milky Way, with intergalactic travel deemed impossible.

Federation: Merchant Marines

The Ferengi, for the most part, have no state fleet. The Federation would not go to war over the actions of a merchant fleet. They can't - they have a problem with private enterprise, not the state.


Being disreputable was key in the Federation using them as intermediaries for trade with the Gamma Quadrant.

Klingons: Honor

The Klingons would see no honor in killing the Ferengi (See: Deep Space Nine: House of Quark)


The Klingons used them for the same thing as the Federation. As did all states officially friendly with the Federation.

Everyone else: Bite the Hand that Feeds

As annoying as they are, they are the best bet at getting rare and hard to find things, for a price. They may simply be too valuable to remove, and their business practices tolerated for just that reason.

The Ferengi were expanded greatly in Deep Space Nine. It is worthwhile to watch that series if you wish to understand them better.

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    I would like the know the reason for the downvote, if I may? (as of this posting, its +3|-1)
    – Tritium21
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 12:08
  • You get an upvote from me, not just for the substance of your answer but for pointing out the "intergalactic" boo-boo. Sci-fi fans should know the difference between a star and a galaxy.
    – peyre
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 20:56

I'm going to go with they are not unlike the Swiss...banking juggernauts who facilitate trade without picking sides. With that much monetary power they are able to pay their way...They sometimes have Vosigans in their midst....perhaps they employ armies of mercenaries?

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