In an interview with Io9, Executive producer/showrunner Ira Steven Behr speaks about creating Deep Space Nine and reaction to the show during its first run.
Often, Star Trek shows take a while to find their footing, and Deep Space Nine was no different than the rest in that regard. But Deep Space Nine was always in a difficult place, following the popular Star Trek: The Next Generation and on air at the same time as Star Trek: Voyager.
“Back in the day,” said Behr, “I knew — we knew —that this was going to tell this dark story. It got to the point where I literally, around season five, season six, it was nowhere certainly, near the end…I literally told the staff we’re just writing this now for ourselves, you know? This is for us. We have to like it. I don’t care who’s watching anymore. Clearly, I’d been told—[co-creator, executive producer] Michael Piller came and told me, he said, ‘Voyager‘s the flagship show. You guys are doing great work, but, you know, you’re in the shadows and you’re going to remain in the shadows.’ And it was like, ‘Okay guys. We’re in the shadows. Let’s do what we want.
“I was very, very, very disappointed at the time of the bad responses to Deep Space Nine. I really was shocked, it took me by surprise. I thought science fiction fandom was much more brave and bold, and willing to accept the challenge. And then I realized they just want to do the same old thing.”
But Behr had no second thoughts on what he was doing with the show and understood that the show wasn’t for everyone. “So, even though that was a battle every day, I always felt that was the right way,” he said. “I never second guessed it. And so, the fact that people watch it now…the only thing that kind of shook my tree a little bit was when I’ve met a lot of people in the last few years, you know, who go: ‘I loved it from the beginning and I was there all the way.’ And I’m like, really? When people tell me they didn’t like it, I totally believe them! ‘I tried to get into it when it was on, but I just didn’t like it, now, I’m a fan, but back then I didn’t like it…’ That, I totally get. The people who said they got it from the beginning, I’m like, ‘Where the hell were you!?'”