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miles edward o brien


Portrayed by: Colm Meaney

Miles Edward O'Brien


Earth (Ireland)

United Federation of Planets

Tactical officer, USS Rutledge;
Transporter chief, USS Enterprise-D;
chief of operations, Deep Space Nine;
chief engineer, USS Defiant;
Professor of Engineering, Starfleet Academy

Senior Chief Petty Officer

Colm Meaney




The back story of the character states that Miles O'Brien was born in Killarney, a town in County Kerry in Ireland, Earth, in September 2328. He claims descent from Brian Boru, the famous Ard Rí, or High King of Ireland (and founder of the O'Brien Clan). His father, Michael O'Brien, wanted him to play the cello, so he pursued this and was eventually accepted into the Aldebaran Music Academy (revealed in DS9 episode "Shadowplay"). However, a few days before he was scheduled to start classes there, he enlisted in Starfleet. O'Brien can also be seen playing the Cello as part of Data's string quartet early in the TNG episode "Ensigns of Command". In the DS9 episode "Invasive Procedures", it is revealed he has two brothers.

The TNG episode "The Wounded" establishes that O'Brien served as tactical officer aboard the USS Rutledge during the Cardassian War and that he was emotionally scarred by the Cardassians' massacre of hundreds of civilians on Setlik III. In this episode, it is clear that the classic Irish tune The Minstrel Boy plays a major part of his journey as a character: an innocent man thrown into the destructive nature of war. He sings the song in this episode, and much later, in the final episode of DS9 "What You Leave Behind", The Minstrel Boy is the first musical theme to be heard in the flashback sequence.

In the DS9 episode "Bar Association", O'Brien jokingly claims to be a direct descendant of real-life Irish High King Brian Boru (according to Irish tradition, all people with the surname "O'Brien" are descendants thereof). Later, he speaks more seriously of fictional ancestor Sean Aloysius O'Brien, (perhaps a reference to the supposed birth name of John Ford) a major player in one of the first United States workers' unions, who participated in the Coal Strike of 1902 in Pennsylvania, and was shot, then dumped into the Allegheny River. In the episode "Rules of Engagement" we learn that during O'Brien's 22 years in Starfleet he had fought in 235 separate battles and had been decorated by Starfleet on 15 occasions and was considered to be an expert in starship combat.


O'Brien's first appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation is as the battle bridge flight controller in The Next Generation premiere episode "Encounter at Farpoint." In almost all of his subsequent TNG appearances, however, he is a transporter operator. In the TNG episode "Where Silence Has Lease" when Riker and Worf prepare to beam to the USS Yamato, Riker refers to him as a "lieutenant" and the character is wearing lieutenant collar pips. He still wears Lieutenant pips in "Sarek" In later episodes, the collar symbol has changed and O'Brien is referred to simply as Chief.

In 2367, he confronted Capt. Benjamin Maxwell, his former commanding officer on the USS Rutledge, when Maxwell attacked Cardassian ships and outposts without authorization and threatened the peace between the Federation and the Cardassian Union (TNG: "The Wounded").

During the Klingon Civil War, O'Brien is assigned to the bridge as tactical officer due to Worf's resignation from Starfleet and the temporary reassignment of officers to other ships in a fleet led by Capt. Picard (TNG: "Redemption Part II").

O'Brien marries Keiko Ishikawa aboard the USS Enterprise-D in the TNG episode "Data's Day". They have a daughter, Molly, who is delivered by Worf in "Disaster".


The character of Miles O'Brien was transplanted from TNG to DS9 at the beginning of the latter show. In the story, Miles O'Brien transfers from the Enterprise-D to Deep Space Nine, in the DS9 premiere episode "Emissary", to serve as the station's chief of operations. With the help of Jadzia Dax, he devised a way of moving the station from orbit around Bajor to the site of the newly discovered wormhole, allowing Bajor to take possession. He would later assume an additional role as chief engineer of the USS Defiant, which is assigned to Deep Space Nine in the episode "The Search".

Here he meets Dr. Julian Bashir, who initially irritates O'Brien (Episode: "The Storyteller"), but the two characters eventually become best friends. In particular, they frequently play darts and fight historical battles in the holosuites.

Miles was reprimanded for violating the Prime Directive when he helped an alien from the Gamma Quadrant referred to as "Tosk", escape from other aliens who had been hunting him in "Captive Pursuit".

In 2370, he is arrested by the Cardassians and charged with supplying weapons to the Maquis. The charges were dismissed when it was revealed to be part of a conspiracy to discredit the Federation (Episode: "Tribunal").

After an accident aboard the station in 2371, O'Brien was temporarily shifted forward in time by a few hours. He died when he deliberately contaminated himself to determine what caused the events he had witnessed. He sent his future counterpart back in his place ("Visionary)".

Miles was temporarily relieved of duty after a visit to the planet Argratha. O'Brien had been falsely accused of espionage and was given the simulated memory of a 20-year prison sentence. O'Brien became paranoid and emotionally distressed upon his return to the station and attempted suicide "(Hard Time)".

In 2373, he has a son, Kirayoshi, delivered by surrogate Kira Nerys in episode "The Begotten".

At the end of Deep Space Nine, O'Brien and his family depart the station to move back to Earth, where Miles is to serve as an engineering professor at Starfleet Academy. The soundtrack accompanying these moments on screen is to the tune of "The Minstrel Boy".

DS9, in particular, makes mention and the use of Miles' many years of experience in Starfleet as a device to allow the character to play a major part in various storylines and as further justification for his holding what is, essentially, a command-level position while still being a noncommissioned officer. Indeed, Miles has as much as, if not more, command experience than those officers he works with. For instance, during a formal extradition hearing regarding Lt. Commander Worf, O'Brien is declared an expert in starship combat owing to his experiences and is asked to critique Worf's actions. Also, Miles offered Worf some guidance about commanding and managing others during a crisis. Miles' style of command can be classified as generally hands on with an emphasis on "thinking on your feet" when solving problems. However, Miles is not above asserting his authority when required. All that said, Miles uses a straightforward and common-sense approach toward the issues he faces.


Miles O'Brien of the Mirror Universe was a Terran slave who worked for the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance aboard station Terok Nor. In 2370, O'Brien was working in the station's ore processing center. O'Brien was also occasionally recruited to repair Benjamin Sisko's raider when it was docked at the station. Sisko claimed he hated the name Miles, and instead nicknamed O'Brien "Smiley". Miles was known on the station for being an excellent "tinkerer and putterer".

When Smiley met a Julian Bashir from another universe in the ore processing center, he initially thought that Bashir's "wild" tales of his counterpart being Chief of Operations was simply a ruse to get him to help Bashir. However, Bashir was able to persuade him to help after he realized that anything had to be better than being a slave. Smiley agreed to help Bashir try to escape from the station only if he could go back with him to the other universe. When Captain Sisko defied Intendant Kira Nerys who commanded the station, Smiley changed his mind and decided to join Sisko's crew, deciding that there was something worth staying for after all (Episode: "Crossover").

When Mirror Sisko was killed by the Alliance in early 2371, Smiley took charge of the Terran Rebellion. In order to complete Sisko's last mission, he recruited Benjamin Sisko to take the place of his deceased counterpart long enough to convince Jennifer Sisko to leave the Alliance and start working for the Rebellion (Episode: "Through the Looking Glass").

While he was aboard Deep Space 9, Smiley took the opportunity to download a large portion of the station's database, including the schematics for the USS Defiant. Smiley used the stolen specifications to build a warship, which they named Defiant. After the rebels managed to capture Terok Nor from the Alliance, the Alliance prepared to recapture the station. Smiley once again recruited Sisko in order to help them finish construction of the Defiant in time. After successfully defending the station, Smiley sent Sisko back home (Episode: "Shattered Mirror").

In 2375, Smiley was in command of the Defiant when it pursued Brunt's ship as it stole a cloaking device from the station, and later negotiated Regent Worf's surrender and capture (Episode: "The Emperor's New Cloak").


During the story progression of TNG and DS9, O'Brien wears black silver-rimmed insignia, or lieutenant junior grade (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint"), lieutenant insignia ("Redemption, Part II") and then black gold-rimmed insignia (DS9: "Emissary"). Sergey Rozhenko calls him a Chief Petty Officer in "Family" (TNG) but he had referred to in previous episodes as Lieutenant. Eventually, O'Brien receives a distinct senior chief petty officer's insignia and his rank is emphatically identified in "Hippocratic Oath" (DS9).

While there has never been an official explanation from the Star Trek producers as to why the character's rank was adjusted, two groups of fans ...

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