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Hard Time 

O'Brien tries to re-integrate to life on the station after serving 20 years in a virtual prison.


Alexander Singer


Gene Roddenberry (based upon "Star Trek" created by), Rick Berman (created by) | 4 more credits »

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Episode cast overview:
Avery Brooks ... Captain Sisko
Rene Auberjonois ... Odo
Michael Dorn ... Lt. Commander Worf
Terry Farrell ... Lt. Commander Dax
Cirroc Lofton ... Jake Sisko
Colm Meaney ... Chief O'Brien
Armin Shimerman ... Quark
Alexander Siddig ... Doctor Bashir
Nana Visitor ... Major Kira
Rosalind Chao ... Keiko O'Brien
Margot Rose ... Rinn
Hana Hatae ... Molly O'Brien
F.J. Rio ... Muñiz
Craig Wasson ... Ee'char


O'Brien has been accused by the Argrathi of espionage and has already been sentenced: twenty years jail time in a artificial reality. While O'Brien felt like he was twenty years in a cell, only a couple of hours has passed. But the memories sure feel real for the chief. The crew of Deep Space Nine do their utter best to let O'Brien re-adjust to the 'new' situation, but it is clear the happening has had a major impact on him. He gets increasingly more violent to even his closest friends and refuses to go to a psychiatrist. O'Brien even purposely tells he was alone in his cell, while this clearly isn't true. Something about his cell-mate Ee'Char is bothering him immensely. The fact that a hallucinative Ee'Char hunts him is driving him mad. Written by Arnoud Tiele (imdb@tiele.nl)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official Site





Release Date:

15 April 1996 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode features a performance by Margot Rose as K'par Rinn, one of O'Brien's jailers. She previously appeared in the beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Inner Light (1992), as Kamen's wife Eline. In that Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) episode, Picard is swept into an imaginary world for 50 years, as O'Brien is swept into a cell for 20 years in this Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) episode. See more »


[last lines]
Molly O'Brien: Daddy's home, Daddy's home!
Chief Miles Edward O'Brien: That's right - Daddy's home.
See more »


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Main Title
Written by Dennis McCarthy
Performed by Dennis McCarthy
See more »

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User Reviews

typical 90s "mental health" episode
17 September 2017 | by ashleybmeyerSee all my reviews

Rich with a creative sci-fi plot element, but showcases the worst in traditionalist mental health models. No one on the ship (not even the "counselor") is able to help a traumatized person recover from torture. Maybe it was meant to be a cautionary tale, but we see the victim's allies fail to offer real support, and instead just offer varying flavors of tough love and mounting levels of even more punishment. Lots of missed opportunities to address punitive vs restorative justice systems and post-traumatic stress disorder recovery tools.

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