This entry is for reference purposes only. The Star Trek name, and all references to the Ferengi and their Rules of Acquisition remain the copyright of Paramount.
The Ferengi are an alien race first seen in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, though they have also featured in the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (aka DS9), Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise. They are humanoid aliens, who are bald (even the women), brown skinned1 and have pointed teeth, which they take delight in keeping extra sharp and polished. However, the most prominent difference between the Ferengi and humans is that the Ferengi have extremely large ears. These offer them brilliant hearing, which allow them to not only hear faint sounds and sounds from a long distance, but also to pick out particular voices from a noisy, crowded room. Their ear lobes are also highly sensitive erogenous zones and females, both Ferengi and of other races, often use this to their advantage, when conducting business with male Ferengi.
The Ferengi are, above all, a business-like race whose aim is to gain personal profit, usually by the exploitation of others. The Ferengi have no sense of honour, and will go to any length to gain profit. To help them gain profit, the Ferengi follow a strict set of guidelines called the Rules of Acquisition.
The Ferengi have strict laws and views on females. The original Ferengi view was that females were not allowed to make profit, were not allowed to leave their homes and were not allowed to wear clothes. However, over the course of the DS9 series, the view and roles of Ferengi women in society changed and they became more accepted as equals.
The Rules of Acquisition
Within the context of the TV series, the original Rules of Acquisition were written by the first Grand Negus2, Gint. Since then, new rules have been added and some of the old ones have been re-written and re-ordered. According to the Enterprise episode 'Acquisition', which is set in the year 2151, there are 173 rules. By the 24th Century, there are 285 rules. The year in which the original set of Rules were created and how many there were originally is unknown. However, it is assumed that new rules have been progressively added by subsequent Grand Nagi over the years building upon the original handful of rules.
The Official Rules
Below are some of the official Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. For the purposes of this entry the 'Official Rules' are defined as those that have appeared in the Star Trek TV series.
Rule One - Once you Have their Money you Never Give it Back
This is one of the most important Rules of Acquisition, which is probably why it is the first. Quark, a Ferengi bartender in DS9, is extremely good at following this rule. He has a policy of giving no refunds to anyone - although he's not averse to offering a few (cheap) free drinks to smooth over any problems.
Rule Six - Never Allow Family to Stand in the Way of Opportunity
The Ferengi put themselves and their profit above all other things, including their family. The similar Rule 21 - 'Never place friendship before profit' - shows how the Ferengi are also willing to put their profit above their friends as well as their family. In the Voyager episode 'False Profits', the rule 'Exploitation begins at home' is quoted, but no number is stated. This rule further reinforces how the Ferengi are willing to exploit both family and friends for personal gain.
Rule 18 - A Ferengi without Profit is no Ferengi at All
This rule truly shows how important profit is to the Ferengi race. Profit isn't just a way of life to the Ferengi, it is what makes a Ferengi a Ferengi. Profit is an essential part of every element of the Ferengi lifestyle.
Rules 34 & 35
Rule 34: War is good for business
Rule 35: Peace is good for business
These rules show how the Ferengi should be able to make profit whatever the situation. It also shows that a good Ferengi is one that can take advantage of any situation. In the DS9 episode 'The Siege of AR-558' Quark makes a reference to rule 34, saying that war is good for business the further away from the front lines you are.
Rule 94 - Females and Finances Don't Mix
This rule supports the Ferengi view of females, that they should not be allowed to conduct business or make profit.
Rule 95 - Expand or Die
This rule was first quoted in the Voyager episode 'False Profits'. In the Enterprise episode 'Acquisition', this rule is quoted as being the 45th rule. It is unknown whether the rules number was simply misquoted or whether the rule was re-arranged and given a different number at a later date.
Rule 111 - Treat People in your Debt like Family - Exploit Them
This is another rule that shows the Ferengi put their greed above all people, and also supports rule six in telling Ferengi to exploit their family. Absolutely no one is above exploitation.
Rule 239 - Never Be Afraid to Mislabel a Product
This rule was quoted in the DS9 episode 'Body Parts'. When it was quoted, Quark was having a dream of speaking to Grand Negus Gint at the entrance of 'The Divine Treasury'3. In Quark's dream, Grand Negus Gint tells Quark that the Rules of Acquisition aren't really rules, but suggestions, and that he called them the Rules of Acquisition as a marketing ploy.
Rule 285 - No good deed ever goes unpunished
This is the last Rule of Acquisition. It is there to warn the Ferengi about doing good deeds for people. The Rules of Acquisition tell the Ferengi to exploit people and not help them. Because of this, the Ferengi are known by other races to be cheaters and untrustworthy.
The Wisdom of Others
There have been occasions where Rules have been created by others in times of need or when the situation seemed to warrant some inspired pearls of new Ferengi-style wisdom.
In the DS9 episode 'House of Quark', Quark's business isn't doing very well, so Quark invents himself a new rule:
286 - When Morn leaves, it's all over.
Morn is the barfly of DS9, and spends most of his time sitting in Quark's Bar. He was based on the character called Norm in 'Cheers'4. Throughout the whole of DS9, the viewers never hear Morn say a word, however, he is actually meant to be a talkative but boring person.
In the Voyager episode 'False Profits', the character Neelix - who is a Talaxian trader and adopted Diplomatic Ambassador to the Voyager crew - pretends to be a Ferengi, assisted by some radical cosmetic surgery, and creates a new rule of his own:
299 - Whenever you exploit someone, it never hurts to thanks them - that way, it's easier to exploit them the next time.
The Unwritten Rule
Also in the same Voyager episode, a new 'Unwritten Rule' is created:
When no appropriate Rule applies, make one up!
The Unwritten Rule is very handy to remember and follow in tough situations.
Zek's Revised Rules
In the DS9 episode 'Prophet Motive', Grand Negus Zek has an encounter with the Prophets5. The Prophets devolved Zek to a time when the Ferengi were not controlled by greed and profit. After his encounter with the Prophets, Grand Negus Zek went on to write the Revised Rules of Acquisition. These rules proved to be the total opposite of the existing Rules of Acquisition. The Revised Rules that were mentioned in the episode were:
- 1 - If they want their money back, give it to them.
- 10 - Greed is dead.
- 21 - Never place profit before friendship.
- 22 - Latinum tarnishes, but family is forever.
- 23 - Money can never replace dignity.
- 285 - A good deed is its own reward.