Gowron, son of M'Rel, was Chancellor of the Klingon High Council in the late 24th century. He ruled during the Klingon Civil War, Klingon-Cardassian War, and Dominion War. He was killed by Worf in 2375.
Before 2367, Gowron was a political outsider, who often challenged the decisions of the Klingon High Council. After the death of Chancellor K'mpec, Gowron and Duras, son of Ja'rod, became the two leading candidates for leadership of the council. It was suspected that Gowron had in fact poisoned K'mpec to advance his career, though many believe that K'mpec was indeed poisoned by Duras.
Gowron traveled on the IKS Buruk to undergo the Rite of Succession in the Gamma Arigulon system, where K'mpec had gone to rendezvous with Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who would serve as Arbiter of Succession. Gowron, like a typical Klingon, was skeptical of an outsider's ability to function as Arbiter, and was frustrated with his choice of undergoing the ja'chuq, but still went along with little argument. Once Duras was killed by Worf through the Right of Vengeance, Gowron's election as chancellor was complete. (TNG: "Reunion")
Klingon Civil War
Following Gowron's election, Duras' sisters, Lursa and B'Etor, challenged Gowron's office. They appealed to the High Council to install Toral, the illegitimate son of Duras, as chancellor. The resulting division of loyalty in the council quickly sparked the Klingon Civil War in late 2367. (TNG: "Redemption") After a few weeks, Gowron's forces emerged victorious. With the help of the Federation, ties that the Duras family had with the Romulan Star Empire were exposed. In addition, Gowron reinstated the House of Mogh in recognition of the actions of Worf and his brother Kurn coming to his aid in the conflict. (TNG: "Redemption II")
In the aftermath of the war, Gowron found it was best to avoid calling attention to the Federation's support during the war. He ordered that all official accounts of the events omit the Federation's involvement in the conflict and emphasize his own courage and strategic genius. (TNG: "Unification I")
When a clone of Kahless the Unforgettable was created in 2369, Gowron dismissed his right to rule the Klingon Empire, though he soon became worried that the clone's existence would plunge the empire into another civil war. In order to keep the peace, he agreed to support Kahless as the spiritual leader of his people, agreeing to support his succession as "Emperor" (the title having been defunct for generations), while Gowron would remain leader of the Council. (TNG: "Rightful Heir")
In 2371, a Klingon named Kozak was killed in an accident at Quark's on Deep Space 9. D'Ghor, posing as Kozak's brother, made a claim before Gowron and the Council to the House of Kozak, but Gowron temporarily transferred leadership of the House of Kozak to Quark, who had secretly married Kozak's widow, Grilka. Together, they proved to Gowron that D'Ghor had dishonored himself by trying to financially ruin Kozak for years instead of openly fighting him. D'Ghor challenged Quark to personal combat, but Quark refused to fight. D'Ghor was about to kill the unarmed Ferengi when Gowron intervened and discommended D'Ghor for his dishonorable attempt to kill an unarmed opponent who was not even attempting to fight back. Furthermore, Gowron proclaimed that the House of Kozak would become the House of Grilka and commended the Ferengi for his uncommon bravery. (DS9: "The House of Quark", "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places")
As the cold war between the Dominion and the Alpha Quadrant escalated during the 2370s, Gowron took prominent Klingon General Martok as his military adviser. Martok had secretly been replaced by a Changeling, and used his position to influence Gowron's military decisions. (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising") When a civilian revolution took place on Cardassia Prime in 2372, Martok spread misinformation that the Cardassian uprising had been supported by the Dominion. This view gained some credence as it fit the Founders' modus operandi, since they regularly made use of infiltrators to weaken their enemies. Martok led Gowron to believe that the civilian-led Detapa Council had been replaced by Changelings. Seeking to protect the Empire, Gowron ordered the invasion of the Cardassian Union. The move was condemned by the Federation Council, and Gowron withdrew from the Khitomer Accords, ending the decades-long alliance with the Federation, beginning the Federation-Klingon War. When Captain Sisko took the Detapa Council under his protection, Gowron led an unsuccessful assault on Deep Space Nine, ultimately withdrawing after conceding that it was not in the Empire's interest to fight a war with the Cardassian Union and the Federation at the same time. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior", "Rules of Engagement") Kurn revealed to Worf that Gowron's reasoning for breaking the treaty was "because [he] underestimates the Federation. He thinks they're soft, weak, but he is wrong." (DS9: "Sons of Mogh")
The Klingons conquered a number of Cardassian colonies but failed to take Cardassia Prime. Gowron declared victory anyway, in order to avoid assassination attempts. He fortified his positions in Cardassian space and continued expanding the borders of the Empire. He also ordered several attacks on Romulan targets on the Klingon-Romulan border. (DS9: "Hippocratic Oath")
In late 2372, Gowron demanded that the Federation withdraw from the Archanis sector, in particular Archanis IV. During this time, the Dominion planted false information in Starfleet through Odo that Gowron, not Martok, was a Changeling spy. (DS9: "Broken Link") Starfleet sent a team to Klingon military headquarters on Ty'Gokor to expose Gowron. Eventually, they discovered that Martok was, in fact, the Changeling agent, and Gowron's men swiftly killed the impostor. (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising")
After the Cardassians joined the Dominion in 2373, the Klingon forces were driven from Cardassian space. Facing the combined forces of the Dominion and Cardassia, Gowron reinstated the Khitomer Accords and posted a permanent contingent of Klingon officers on the Cardassian border at station Deep Space 9, commanded, ironically, by the real Martok. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")
The Dominion War
In early 2374, Gowron was reluctant to involve the Empire in Operation Return. However, he was later persuaded to assist Captain Sisko's forces by Martok and Worf. The late arrival of the Klingon fleet proved critical in the battle, throwing the Dominion lines into disarray, and allowed the Defiant to break through. (DS9: "Favor the Bold", "Sacrifice of Angels")
Several months later, the Dominion and the Orion Syndicate used Gowron's feud with the Klingon ambassador to Farius Prime in an attempt to bring down the Treaty of Alliance. Gelnon and Raimus hoped that, by having Liam Bilby, Krole and Flith assassinate the ambassador with Klingon weapons, it would look like Gowron had ordered the pro-Dominion ambassador's execution. (DS9: "Honor Among Thieves")
Gowron played a role, albeit unknowingly, in bringing the Romulan Star Empire into the war against the Dominion. In late 2374, Captain Sisko contacted Gowron and asked him to issue a formal pardon to Grathon Tolar, who was needed by Sisko and Elim Garak to forge a holo-recording. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")
Martok's actions during the war had made him a prominent figure throughout the Empire, such that he was regarded by the Klingon people as their savior. Feeling threatened by Martok's growing political influence, Gowron took direct control of the Klingon Defense Force in 2375. He began trying to undermine Martok's military standing, repeatedly sending him against impossible odds so that he would be forced to retreat. (DS9: "When It Rains...") Martok refused to challenge Gowron even after such dishonorable actions, believing it would be tantamount to turning against the Empire.
Instead, Gowron was challenged by a member of Martok's house, Worf. Worf, who had been subtly directed by Captain Sisko to have Gowron removed as Chancellor, defeated Gowron in one-on-one combat, killing him, and passed the leadership of the High Council to Martok. Despite his disapproval of Gowron's actions, Worf still performed the Klingon death ritual for him, acknowledging the former Chancellor as a Klingon warrior. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")
"You will die slowly, Duras."
"K'mpec was also stubborn. He, too, refused to listen. Now... he is gone. You need not make the same mistake."
"The grasp of Duras reaches up from the grave!"
"Are you blind to what they represent? Then go... your blood will paint the way to the future."
"What are you, Worf? Do you tremble and quake with fear at the approach of combat, hoping to talk your way out of a fight like a Human? Or do you hear the cry of the warrior, calling you to battle, calling you to glory like a Klingon?"
"You have made many enemies, Worf. Fortunately, I am not one of them!"
" What kind of fools do you have working for you, Picard?"
"What was his name? If you were really there, you should be able to tell us the name of the man who stood outside the walls. Describe him to us. How tall was he? What was he wearing?!? What color... were his eyes?!"
"Kahless has been dead for a thousand years; but the idea of Kahless is still alive. Have you ever fought an idea, Picard? It has no weapon to destroy, no body to kill. The idea of Kahless' return must be stopped here and now – or it will travel through the Empire like a wave, and leave nothing but destruction behind."
"You should have killed me when you had the chance. I promise you will not get another."
"It's time for me to take a more active role in this war. As of today, I'm assuming direct command of our forces."
"I decide what can and cannot be done."
"I should've known better than to trust you again. If you were a true Klingon, I would kill you where you stand! Fortunately for you, that child's uniform shields you from your rightful fate."
"The Klingon Empire will remember what has happened here. You have sided against us in battle. And this we do not forgive... or forget!"
"You will not have this... day..."
"Think of it. Five years ago, no one had ever heard of Bajor or Deep Space 9. Now all our hopes rest here. Where the tides of fortune take us, no man can know."
|Leaders of the Klingon Empire|
|Emperors:||Kahless I • Reclaw I • Reclaw II • Sompek • Mur'Eq • Kahless II|
|Chancellors:||2151 Chancellor • 2153 Chancellor • M'Rek • L'Rell • Mow'ga • Gorkon • Azetbur • K'mpec • Gowron • Worf • Martok|
- "Visionary" (Season 3)
- "Hippocratic Oath" (Season 4)
- "The Sword of Kahless"
- "Sons of Mogh"
- "Rules of Engagement"
- "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" (Season 5)
- "Ferengi Love Songs"
- "Favor the Bold" (Season 6)
- "Sacrifice of Angels"
- "Honor Among Thieves"
- "In the Pale Moonlight"
- "Once More Unto the Breach" (Season 7)
- "The Emperor's New Cloak"
Gowron was played by actor Robert O'Reilly. He believed he was cast in the role by "Reunion" director Jonathan Frakes partly because of "that crazy loon eyeball thing, but he saw also a sense of humor, and he has one of the great senses of humor of all time. I think that created a curiosity in him and he wanted to see more of me."
O'Reilly had been cast as Gowron after performing as Edmund in a production of King Lear, and this influenced his approach to the character. "I thought it absolutely fit. Remember, the way Gowron came in is not the way he went out. He went out as this bad, terrible Klingon, which I disagreed with strongly, but that's fine. But the earlier part of Gowron's arc, he was the outsider, the only one with honor, and he was sort of a crazed warrior who did not want to be anywhere near 'hew-mons.' So it started off very, very differently. If you take the point of view of Edmund, he's the outsider. He's the 'bastard', just out there and not part of the group, and then he decides to defeat everybody and become head of the group." 
The Enhanced First Contact expansion of the Star Trek Customizable Card Game shows a card where, in an alternate universe, Gowron, not Picard (known as Locutus of Borg in his assimilated form), was assimilated by the Borg. His name was simply "Gowron of Borg".
Gowron also appeared (in character) in a 1994 Hallmark Keepsake ornament commercial filmed to promote a Klingon Bird-of-Prey ornament. Gowron also features heavily in the video games Star Trek: Klingon and Star Trek: The Next Generation - Klingon Honor Guard, with O'Reilly reprising his role in both games.
His mirror universe counterpart (β) is mentioned as being a colonel in the service of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance in the novella The Mirror-Scaled Serpent. A firm opponent of inter-species breeding, he sent a Terran slave to assassinate B'Elanna, the half-Klingon, half-Terran Supervisor of Ardana. The slave was unsuccessful and was killed, himself, by B'Elanna's personal aide Kate Janeway. He later appeared in the short story "For Want of a Nail", contained in the anthology Shards and Shadows, in which he was killed by Duras.
In Star Trek Online, Aakar, son of Aakam, a member of the House of Mo'Kai involved in the Federation-Klingon War as seen in Star Trek: Discovery, is revealed to be the grandfather of Gowron in the "House Divided" update released in June 2020, where he is voiced by Robert O'Reilly.  Gowron himself, also voiced by O'Reilly, appears in the "House Reborn" update released for the game's 11th anniversary in January 2021. Player characters accompanied by Martok and J'Ula, the matriarch of the House of Mo'Kai, encounter Gowron in "Koth", a sort of limbo for those souls not sent either to Sto-vo-kor or Gre'thor in death; though Gowron died in honorable combat, his spirit was sent to Koth as a result of Aakar's treachery staining his family honor for three generations. When the player character and their allies enter Gre'thor seeking to free the soul of former Chancellor L'Rell, Gowron offers his own in her place, declaring that at least he would be among Klingons, even dishonored ones, rather than alone in the void. J'Ula swears to Fek'lhr, lord of Gre'thor, that she will bring the souls of both Aakar and the self-styled Emperor J'mpok to Gre'thor in exchange for Gowron being allowed to go to Sto-vo-kor.