Keiko O'Brien

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Keiko O'Brien
First appearance"Data's Day" (1991)
(The Next Generation)
Last appearance"What You Leave Behind" (1999) (Deep Space Nine)
Portrayed byRosalind Chao
In-universe information
  • Botanist
  • School teacher (DS9)
Significant otherMiles O'Brien

Keiko O'Brien is a character in the fictional Star Trek universe, played by actress Rosalind Chao. Introduced in 1991, she is the spouse of the character Miles O'Brien in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999). In the Star Trek universe, Keiko Ishikawa is introduced on her wedding day, about to be married to the character Miles O'Brien.[1] We learn Keiko Ishikawa[2] is going to be married in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Data's Day which was broadcast on syndicated television in 1991. Another important episode for Keiko is "Disaster" (aired 1991) in which she gives birth to her daughter Molly O'Brien.[2]

Keiko and her family is noted as example of how Star Trek was able to expand its narrative beyond weekly space missions.[1] Keiko and her family were regularly featured through the entire run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Although the Deep Space Nine producers wanted to employ her as a full-time cast member in 1993, Chao could only work part-time, due to her pregnancy at the time and desire to pursue other projects[3].

The character has also been included in other Star Trek media, such as novels.[4]

Casting and history[edit]

Keiko is played by actress Rosalind Chao.[3] In a 1996 interview with Chicago Tribune, Chao noted how actress Nana Visitor's real life pregnancy lead to an impact on the plot and stories of the television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[3] At the time Chao was playing Keiko on that show, and the writers then established that Visitor's character, the Bajoran alien Kira Nerys, would be carrying Keiko and Miles' child.[3] Chao notes that this is one of the times that real-life events of the cast affected a fictional plot of the characters on the television show.[3]

Roasalind Chao was offered a role to become a full-time addition to the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which is what the makers of that show wanted.[3] However, the actress had to turn down this role because the demands of being part of the cast full-time was too strenuous for her.[5] In a later interview, the actress stated she believed she made the right choice, and was still able to appear many times on the show, but not as many times as the full-time characters.[5]

Chao was born in the city of Los Angeles, California, and went to college at University of Southern California.[3] She went on to various acting roles eventually leading to her debut as Keiko in the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Data's Day" (aired 1991).[3] Chao is a noted Asian-American actress, and starred in the 1993 film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club.[6]

Keiko appears as a child in the episode "Rascals", played by Caroline Junko King.[2][7]

Actress Patti Yasutake auditioned for the role of Keiko character, but was not chosen for the role for which Chao was cast.[8] Yasutake was cast as the Star Trek: The Next Generation character Alyssa Ogawa, who was featured primarily as a space nurse aboard the fictional USS Enterprise D spaceship on the television show.[8] Although Yasutake did not get the role of Keiko, her character, Nurse Ogawa, would be included in 16 episodes of TNG and also make appearances in two Star Trek theatrical films.[8]

Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine[edit]

In January 1991, a new character was introduced to the hit science fiction television show Star Trek: The Next Generation, Keiko, played by actress Rosalind Chao.[9] Keiko went on to be a recurring character on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[4]

Keiko Ishikawa married Miles O'Brien aboard the USS Enterprise D[10] in the TNG episode "Data's Day".[5] A year later, in Ten-Forward, she gave birth to a daughter, Molly, with Worf as midwife (TNG episode "Disaster").[2] Molly was played by Hana Hatae, starting with the TNG episode "Rascals". Hatae also played this role on Deep Space Nine.[11] As an adult Hatae recalls being outside at Malibu Creek to film scenes for the episode "Time's Orphan".[11]

Rosalind Chao as Keiko O'Brien was part of the recurring cast of the television show Star Trek Deep Space Nine.[12] Miles O'Brien (played by Colm Meaney), her spouse on the TV show was part of the main cast.[12]

When Miles was reassigned to Deep Space Nine, Keiko decided to start a school, and Jake Sisko and Nog were the first students to enroll. Later on Keiko went on an archeobotanical expedition to Bajor. After becoming pregnant with her second child, Keiko returned to Deep Space Nine. An accident endangered mother and child. Doctor Julian Bashir saved both by removing the fetus and implanting it into Kira Nerys's womb. In her honor, the child was named Kirayoshi O'Brien.

Kira gives birth to Keiko and Miles's baby in the episode "The Begotten" of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[9]

When the Dominion War began, Keiko and the children were evacuated away from the war zones. They remained away for a time until the fields of battle had shifted far enough away to make Deep Space Nine safe again. After the war, the O'Brien family relocated to Earth when Miles became a professor at Starfleet Academy.

What We Left Behind[edit]

Stock footage of Rosalind Chao as Keiko[13] was re-scanned at film resolution and used in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine documentary and bookend film What We Left Behind, which was shown in theaters in limited release in 2019. The documentary was noted for raising support from fans of the TV show.

What We Left Behind in a one-day one-showing release played at about 800 theaters and grossed over US$380,000 in May 2019.[14][15]


The character of Keiko has appeared in over twenty Star Trek novels.[4] Examples of Star Trek novels that mention Keiko are The Fall: Revelation and Dust,[16] Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Warpath,[17] Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Warped,[18] and The Tempest.[19]


Noted episodes[edit]

An example of an episode featuring Keiko that is highly rated is "The Wounded" in Star Trek: The Next Generation; in 2016, Empire ranked this episode the 31st best out of the top 50 episodes of the 700 plus Star Trek television episodes.[20] Another noted episode with Keiko is "Disaster"; in 2009 Time magazine rated it as one of the top ten moments of Star Trek (including television and film productions).[21]

Character critiques and rankings[edit]

In 2015, SyFy rated Keiko as among the top 21 most interesting supporting characters of Star Trek, describing her has a fascinating character.[22]

In 2017, IndieWire ranked Keiko as the 14th best character on Star Trek: The Next Generation.[1] The words in Keiko's hybrid Japanese-Irish wedding on television were based on Captain Kirk's in the original series episode "Balance of Terror" (aired 1966) according to writer Ronald D. Moore as noted by The Star Trek Encyclopedia.[2]

In 2017, the book To Boldly Go: Essays on Gender and Identity in the Star Trek Universe states that Keiko has the only successful long-term relationship in the entire Star Trek universe with her marriage to Miles O'Brien,[23] noting that they are married in the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and go on to have two children, Molly and Yoshi.[23]

In 2018, CBR ranked Keiko the 7th best recurring character in all of Star Trek.[24][12]


  1. ^ a b c Miller, Liz Shannon; Miller, Liz Shannon (2017-09-30). "'Star Trek: The Next Generation': Ranking the Crew, From Picard to Pulaski". IndieWire. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  2. ^ a b c d e Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise; Mirek, Debbie (2011-05-17). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781451646887.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Features, Ian Spelling, New York Times Special. "Rosalind Chao Likes Part-time Status on 'DS9'". Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  4. ^ a b c "Star Trek: 10 New Character Additions That Hurt TNG (And 10 That Saved It)". ScreenRant. 2018-10-26. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  5. ^ a b c "Rosalind Chao Likes Part-time Status on 'DS9'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2019-08-22.
  6. ^ Chow, Andrew R. (2018-09-09). "In 1993, 'Joy Luck Club' Changed Hollywood. Until It Didn't". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  7. ^ Nemecek, Larry (Sep 25, 2012). The Next Generation Companion: Star Trek The Next Generation. Simon and Schuster.
  8. ^ a b c Clark, Mark (2013-06-01). Star Trek FAQ 2.0 (Unofficial and Unauthorized): Everything Left to Know About the Next Generation, the Movies and Beyond. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781480355019.
  9. ^ a b Features, Ian Spelling, New York Times Special. "ROSALIND CHAO LIKES PART-TIME STATUS ON 'DS9'". Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  10. ^ Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise. The Star Trek Encyclopedia, Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster, 1999, p. 330: "Born Keiko Ishikawa, she married fellow crew member Miles O'Brien in 2367...aboard the Enterprise-D"
  11. ^ a b "Molly O'Brien Is All Grown Up: Hana Hatae Interview". Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  12. ^ a b c Garcia, Frank; Phillips, Mark (2013-09-27). Science Fiction Television Series, 1990-2004: Histories, Casts and Credits for 58 Shows. McFarland. ISBN 9780786491834.
  13. ^ "What We Left Behind Review: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Documentary Boldly Goes into the Show's Highs and Lows". Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  14. ^ "Daily Box Office for Monday, May 13, 2019". Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  15. ^ Bastién, Angelica Jade (May 17, 2019). "What We Left Behind Boldly Argues for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Place in the Black TV Canon". Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  16. ^ III, David R. George (2013-08-27). The Fall: Revelation and Dust. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476722306.
  17. ^ Mack, David (2006-04-01). Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Warpath. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416523024.
  18. ^ Jeter, K. W. (2000-09-22). Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Warped. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743420785.
  19. ^ Wright, Susan (2000-09-22). The Tempest. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743420501.
  20. ^ "The 50 best Star Trek episodes ever". Empire. 2016-07-27. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  21. ^ Cloud, John (2009-05-08). "10 Best Star Trek Moments". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  22. ^ Granshaw, Lisa (2015-05-08). "The 21 most interesting Star Trek supporting characters". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  23. ^ a b Farghaly, Nadine; Bacon, Simon (2017-05-31). To Boldly Go: Essays on Gender and Identity in the Star Trek Universe. McFarland. ISBN 9781476668536.
  24. ^ "Star Trek: Ranking the 20 Best Recurring Characters". CBR. 2018-12-28. Retrieved 2019-06-25.

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