Being from a species native to a low-gravity planet, it was extremely difficult for Melora Pazlar to function in the Earth-like gravity more commonly preferred by species from other worlds. As a result of this limitation, only a small number of her kind actually left the Elaysian homeworld to explore space.
The limitation she experienced did not stop her, however, and she soon enlisted in Starfleet. Part of her reasoning for joining Starfleet was to encourage others and show them that she could overcome any adversity; however, she also had a strong desire to explore space and other worlds, instead of merely being confined to her planet.
At some point in her life, she learned to speak Klingonese to a fluent level and developed an interest in Vulcan music such as etudes by Delvok. She also enjoyed Klingon food, preferring to see "the blood running through the veins" of her racht. (DS9: "Melora")
During her studies at Starfleet Academy, Pazlar kept people at arm's length, believing other people would treat her differently because of her limited mobility in "normal" gravity. Her servo controls and anti-grav chair were needed for her to operate effectively at the Academy and she felt these distinguished her from the rest of the students. She eventually graduated as a stellar cartographer.
By 2370, Pazlar had achieved the rank of ensign. Her first deep space assignment came in that year, when she was temporarily assigned to Deep Space 9, to survey a sector in the Gamma Quadrant. Upon her arrival at the space station, she requested permission from Commander Benjamin Sisko to conduct the survey alone, believing she could accomplish the task more quickly and to a higher standard than if somebody accompanied her. When Sisko refused, she treated it as evidence that he thought she was disabled in some way, though Sisko eventually made it clear that Starfleet policy did not allow anyone to go on a mission alone, especially not an ensign.
Her stubbornness to do things by herself caused her to have an accident while attempting to obtain an extra astrometric array for her mission. When entering the cargo bay, she tripped, landing on her servo controls. It was only after Lieutenant Jadzia Dax found her that Pazlar was taken to the infirmary and her controls repaired. Subsequently, the mission to the Gamma Quadrant was delayed by a day, in order to give her time to recover.
During Pazlar's time on the station, Doctor Bashir researched and further developed Nathaniel Teros' work on neuromuscular adaptation. If successful, the therapy would make it possible for a low-gravity species, such as Elaysians, to move in an Earth-like gravity by elevating the motor cortex neural output of the brain. Pazlar was initially ecstatic about the news that she may be able to function in "normal" gravity like the rest of the crew, but after her second treatment, disadvantages emerged; once the procedure was complete, it would be irreversible, and any exposure to low-gravity could seriously disrupt her nervous system. Pazlar decided she would take the time to think about the treatment, over the course of her mission in the Gamma Quadrant.
Upon returning from that mission, she and Dax were ambushed by the criminal Fallit Kot and forced back into their runabout, the Orinoco. When Commander Sisko prevented their departure by means of a tractor beam, Kot shot Pazlar, forcing an overload in her servo controls and knocking her to the deck. The tractor beam was subsequently released and Pazlar, along with Quark and Dax, were taken through the wormhole. Commander Sisko, accompanied by Chief Miles O'Brien and Doctor Bashir, quickly beamed to the runabout Rio Grande and initiated pursuit.
On the Orinoco, an injured Pazlar lay on the floor as the ship accelerated to warp. Believing she was dead, Kot paid her no attention, thereby enabling Pazlar to reach the gravity controls by the transporter pad, where she disabled the gravity on the runabout. While all of the Orinoco's inhabitants floated in the air, she kicked herself away from a console and into Kot, knocking him against the cockpit window and allowing Dax to gain control of the situation. The Rio Grande eventually caught up with them and Pazlar was taken back to the station.
After having given some thought as to her neuromuscular treatments, Pazlar ultimately decided not to go ahead with them, believing it would strip her of what it meant to be an Elaysian.
Melora had a brother who resided on Elaysia with her family, none of whom had been off-world before. When she decided to leave her homeworld for a career in Starfleet, they gave her a cane made from the wood of a garlanic tree as a gift. Pazlar also kept a picture of her brother, on a table in her quarters.
Doctor Bashir was the officer who prepared the station for Pazlar prior to her arrival. During the course of his preparation, he came to know her Starfleet record by heart, greatly admiring her devotion to overcome any adversity. As a result of this, he once said he felt as though he had known her for years. Upon her arrival, he took the time to befriend her and attempt to see beyond her defensive exterior. He eventually managed to persuade Pazlar to realize that nobody is completely independent, when he pointed out that "in space, we all depend on one another to some degree."
Pazlar quickly became romantically involved with the doctor. Although she initially questioned whether a relationship between two such different species could work, the two of them did enjoy meals at the Klingon restaurant. She even lowered her guard enough to allow Bashir to experience weightlessness with her, during which they also shared their first kiss.
When Pazlar decided not to continue with her neuromuscular treatment, Bashir was disappointed but respected her decision and offered to continue with it at any point, should she change her mind. Before leaving Deep Space 9, Pazlar had one last meal with him at the Klingon restaurant, where they were serenaded with Klingon lullabies by the chef. (DS9: "Melora")
Commander Sisko assigned Lieutenant Jadzia Dax to the survey mission after he had refused Pazlar's request to conduct it alone. Though Pazlar initially objected to this, she soon came to develop a working relationship with Dax, even going as far as to ask her advice on long distance relationships, after Pazlar became involved with Doctor Bashir.
Though Dax agreed that "love across light years" was hard and lacked intimacy, she partially alleviated Pazlar's fears by recounting the story of a hydrogen-breathing Lothra and an Oxygene who fell "hopelessly in love," staying together for fifty-seven years despite the fact they could only spend forty minutes a day in the same room. Concluding, Dax advised her to focus on the present, enjoy the moment, and not look to the future until it was necessary. (DS9: "Melora")
"I'm sorry if I seem overly sensitive. But I'm used to being shut out of the 'Melora' problem. The truth is there is no 'Melora' problem. Until people create one."
- - Melora to Sisko, in their first meeting
"I don't need a medical opinion to tell me my own capabilities...."
- - Pazlar, defending her request to pilot the runabout alone
"I've been in one chair or another since I left my homeworld. My family gave me this cane made from the wood of a garlanic tree.... They had no idea what it would be like to live off-world... in what you consider 'normal' gravity. Only a handful of Elaysians have ever left home. But I always knew I had to be one of them. I dreamed about exploring the stars as a girl. And I wasn't going to allow any... 'handicap,' not a chair, not a Cardassian station... to stop me from chasing that dream."
- - Pazlar, on her reasoning for joining Starfleet
"Melora... no one on this station is completely independent.... In space, we all depend on one another to some degree...."
"I just want you all to know you can depend on me...."
"Okay, you've proven that.... What do the rest of us have to do to convince you?"
"That you can depend on us."
- - Julian Bashir and Pazlar, on her determination to be completely independent
"I don't understand, myself.... How can I possibly have second thoughts...? This would mean real independence.... It's everything I ever wished for.... But then I start to think about home... and how I won't ever be able to go back... maybe just for a short visit... but never really go back...."
- - Pazlar to Dax, on whether or not to go ahead with the neuromuscular treatment
"Let's just sit here awhile and listen.... I want to remember all of this...."
- - Pazlar to Bashir, as the Klingon chef serenades them
Melora Pazlar was played by Daphne Ashbrook. The character was initially to be Deep Space 9's science officer, because the producers liked the idea of a character who came from a low-gravity environment, but this was changed to the Trill Jadzia Dax, as it would lead to fewer complications. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 93)
The character was created by Evan Carlos Somers, who wrote the initial draft of "Melora". As Somers himself uses a wheelchair, the story held special importance for him, with his experiences of working in the narrow studio offices contributing to the personality of the character. (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 60)
The producers initially thought the character would be male, but Somers always envisioned her as a female, and a love interest for Bashir; "'Zero-gravity sex with Bashir' was a prime element to the story in my mind. I also liked the idea that by falling in love with someone who isn't disabled, and having this cure presented to her concomitant to a growing love affair, maybe Melora is doing it for him. How can she turn this cure down? He loves her and he would never want to do anything wrong for her. But she didn't really think it out. In fact, she was surviving, and functioning very well, prior to her arrival on the station. Now, she's faced with a difficult assignment, but when she leaves, things are going to be OK again. She doesn't have to be cured, and she doesn't have to do it to please Bashir." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 6, p. 60)
In the first draft script of "Melora", the character of Pazlar was a lieutenant with the surname "Opree" (though she already had the first name "Melora"). The same script draft described her as "a stunning humanoid woman in her late twenties." By comparison, the revised final draft of the episode's script described her as "a cool, professional young woman in her mid- to late-20s [....] Although her face is a mask, the extraordinary pressure from gravity is apparent in every move she makes." This would put her year of birth somewhere between 2340 and 2345. 
Daphne Ashbrook prepared for the role of Pazlar by taking a wheelchair to a local shopping mall. Commenting on the experience, she said, "Everything's an obstacle and also nobody looks at you. I think because people are uncomfortable and they don't know what to do." 
The make-up used for Pazlar's physical appearance was influenced by the fact she was to be involved in a romantic relationship that had to be believable for Bashir, as the extent of the make-up was therefore kept to a minimum, so that Pazlar was kept beautiful despite being an alien. A blond wig with a receded hairline was used to allow for an alien-looking forehead appliance. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 152; Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season 2, DS9 Season 2 DVD special features)
Jim Martin designed Pazlar's exoskeleton; "I started with a basic framework for her limbs. The producers didn't want any chest or waist pieces. They just wanted it to be around her arms, her neck, and her legs. And they didn't want regular hinges, because hinges aren't futuristic enough. So [Senior Illustrator] Rick Sternbach designed an expanding and contracting kind of hinge, something that pulls in rather than rotate, that I incorporated into my drawings. But the metallic bands kept popping off, once right in the middle of a scene. [Property Master] Joe Longo never let me forget it!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 94)
Pazlar's chair was initially to have utilized the anti-grav technology that has been a part of Star Trek since The Original Series, and the chair from TNG: "Too Short a Season" was to be pulled out of storage and remodeled. However, the chair had originally been designed with the larger set of the USS Enterprise-D in mind and it was quickly realized that it would not be practical in the relatively small Deep Space Nine corridor sets. (The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, p. 108)
Set Decorator Laura Richarz purchased the chair seen in the finished episode, which was revamped by Joe Longo. He remembered how the production crew decided to keep the wheelchair as simple as possible, recalling that he "...added a control panel and some wheel covers to block out the spokes in the wheels, and changed the joystick. Basically we tried to keep it as simple as possible, because of our experience on 'Too Short a Season'. We had made a big albatross of a moving chair for that, and it was bad. But this one worked great." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 93)
Melora Pazlar appears as a selectable crew member in the video game Star Trek: Starship Creator, in which her personnel file states she was assigned to the USS Yellowstone conducting deep space surveys, prior to arriving on Deep Space 9. It further states that, following the events depicted in "Melora", she is assigned to the stellar cartography department on the USS Prokofiev.
According to the Pocket TNG novels Gemworld Book One and Gemworld Book Two, following the Dominion War, Pazlar is assigned to the USS Enterprise-E, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, where she assists in a scientific study on the effects of low-gravity on Primus IV. Before arriving at the planet, Pazlar receives a telepathic distress call from one of her world's species, the Lipul, that indicates Gemworld is in catastrophic danger. Pazlar convinces Picard of the threat, and upon arrival at Gemworld, the Enterprise discovers that the machinery that maintains Gemworld's atmosphere is failing. Pazlar and the Enterprise crew manage to save the artificial world from destruction, but in doing so, Pazlar is forced to take the life of one of her own people. The books also detail a brief romance between her and Reginald Barclay.
The first book of the Star Trek: Titan series, entitled Taking Wing, establishes Melora Pazlar as serving as a lieutenant and head of the stellar cartography lab aboard the USS Titan, at Captain William T. Riker's request. It also mentions her being decorated for valor after saving 192 of her shipmates, during the Dominion War.
In the third Titan novel, Orion's Hounds, Pazlar is viciously attacked by her shipmate Tuvok, who is under the telepathic control of the star-jellies. Shortly after the incident, Pazlar asks Tuvok to train her in various means of self-defense. She is also depicted in the cover illustration.
In the Star Trek: Destiny novel Gods of Night, Pazlar is promoted to Lieutenant Commander and made chief science officer. Titan Chief Engineer Xin Ra-Havreii also makes several upgrades to the stellar cartography holotank which allows her to not only operate in a zero-gravity environment, but also project a holographic avatar of herself into every major area on the ship, via a complex holopresence system. This allows her to participate in senior staff meetings without the need to leave the holotank. Xin also makes a romantic advance towards Pazlar but she declines, although she does not understand why.
In the Destiny novel Mere Mortals, the Titan arrives at New Erigol and is threatened by a Caeliar ship. Riker assigns Pazlar and Ra-Havreii to search for non-tactical weaknesses to exploit, and towards this end, they calculate the size of the sphere surrounding the planet and prepare a strike team. During the attempt, Pazlar initiates the subspace trajectory, but the attempt is aborted when a scrambling field prevents the transport from working. Pazlar is later visited by Counselor Huilan Sen'kara, in what she thinks are her quarters but is actually the holotank; the counselor expresses concern that she is using the tank to completely isolate herself from the rest of the crew, physically and emotionally. He further expresses that, by not using her exoskeleton, she would likely forget how to, losing the ability to ever leave, a thought she dismisses. After continuing to work, Pazlar and Ra-Havreii are able to discover the soliton pulses keeping open micro-subspace tunnels and then tap into them to witness the invasion of the Borg Collective at the Azure Nebula.
- Melora Pazlar at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- Melora Pazlar at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
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