William J. Ross was a Human male who served as a Starfleet officer in the mid- to late-24th century. As an admiral, Ross took command of military operations during the Dominion War and led the Allied forces during the Battle of Cardassia, later presiding over the signing of the Treaty of Bajor, which ended the war.
In 2374, Ross was the head of Starfleet forces during the Dominion War and coordinated his battle plans from Starbase 375. When Captain Benjamin Sisko and his crew arrived at the starbase, Ross appointed him the lead in a mission to destroy a Dominion ketracel-white facility using the Jem'Hadar attack ship they had captured a year prior. (DS9: "A Time to Stand")
Captain Bennet served as Ross's adjutant during the early days of the war. Following her promotion to command the Seventh Tactical Wing, Ross assigned Captain Sisko as his new adjutant, and gave command of the USS Defiant to Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax. On Sisko's advice, Ross later approved a plan in which the Defiant, under Dax's command, would attack the Dominion's new sensor array in the Argolis Cluster. The mission ultimately proved successful. Ross later ordered Sisko to review some tactical reports and present an opinion on the Bolian operation at 0600hrs the next morning. (DS9: "Behind the Lines")
Shortly thereafter, Ross was present during the briefing for Operation Return, Sisko's plan to retake Deep Space 9 from the Dominion. Ross supported the plan and allayed the concerns of Admiral Coburn that Earth would be left unprotected. Once everything was in place, Ross gave the go-ahead to Captain Sisko, wishing him good luck in the assault. (DS9: "Favor the Bold")
Towards the end of the year, Ross presented Sisko with the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor for his actions in retaking Deep Space 9 and forcing the Dominion into temporary retreat. Following the award ceremony, Ross had scheduled a briefing to discuss a new plan to strike the Dominion behind the lines. General Martok and Sisko observed the plan would need the help of Romulan forces, who until then had also been on the defensive, protecting their territory. Martok, optimistic of their chances, believed that in just a year's time all three of them would be drinking blood wine in the halls of the Cardassian Central Command following their victory over the Dominion. During a meeting with Romulan Senator Letant, Ross attempted to convince him to join the fight, explaining the Dominion would continue to send ships at them one after another. Letant was ultimately swayed and committed his forces to the assault. Ross later ordered Sisko to take the lead in the operation which was to become known as the First Battle of Chin'toka. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")
In early-2375, Ross again visited Deep Space 9 to inform Colonel Kira Nerys, who was temporarily in command, that Romulan Senator Kimara Cretak and her delegation would be establishing a presence on the station for the duration of the war. (DS9: "Image in the Sand")
After it was discovered that the Romulans had established plasma torpedo launchers on the Bajoran moon Derna, Ross at first refused to get involved, as he felt it could destroy the alliance they had established. However, when Colonel Kira set up a blockade of the moon in protest, he realized her resolve and told Senator Cretak that if she didn't remove the weapons, he would. (DS9: "Image in the Sand", "Shadows and Symbols")
Later that year, Admiral Ross aided the covert Federation organization Section 31 by helping their agents infiltrate the first Federation-Romulan conference on Romulus in order to place a mole named Koval at the highest levels of the Romulan government. Doctor Julian Bashir, who had also attended the conference, was deceived by Ross in a formidable plot to deliver Senator Cretak into the hands of the Tal Shiar in exchange for Koval's continued loyalty to the Federation-Romulan alliance. Cretak had been in consideration for a seat on the Romulan Continuing Committee, just like Koval; but when she was arrested by the Tal Shiar based on a scheme perpetrated by Section 31 and Ross, the seat fell to Koval, insuring his loyalty to the Federation.
When he found out, Bashir was furious and confronted Ross. Going off-record, Ross defended his actions of setting up an innocent woman by stating that he had no choice. He saw Cretak as a patriot who would not have had any remorse delivering the Federation into the hands of the Dominion and striking a separate deal with them if it served the Romulan Empire. He admitted he disliked doing what he did, however he also disliked ordering young women and men to die and felt this was the best way to maintain the alliance. In justifying his actions, Ross quoted Cicero's famous line "Inter arma enim silent leges", translated as "In times of war, laws fall silent". (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")
In late-2375, Admiral Ross met with Benjamin Sisko and ordered him to take the USS Defiant to the Chin'toka system, where Breen forces had broken through the lines in two places. During the engagement, which became known as the Second Battle of Chin'toka, the Defiant was destroyed and the system lost to Dominion forces. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil")
Following this, Ross met with Sisko, Martok, and Romulan General Velal to discuss the Dominion's retreat into Cardassian space. During discussions, Ross agreed with both Sisko and Martok in that to leave Dominion forces to rebuild would be a mistake, and that a major offensive on Cardassia Prime should be launched. (DS9: "The Dogs of War")
Later known as the Battle of Cardassia, Ross personally participated in the assault, taking command of the Starfleet element aboard a Federation starship. During the battle, he maintained a constant communications link with Sisko and Martok, later ordering Sisko to help the Romulans, who had been hit badly, while he and Martok hit the center of Dominion lines.
When the Cardassian forces switched sides against the Dominion, Ross initially suggested they kept the Dominion bottled up at Cardassia Prime. After objections from both Martok and Sisko, he later changed his mind and ordered all forces to press on in a three-pronged attack, eventually defeating Dominion forces and taking Cardassia Prime.
On returning to Deep Space 9, Ross participated in the signing of the peace treaty to end the Dominion War, giving a speech that echoed that of Douglas MacArthur during Earth's World War II. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
Ross' relationship with Sisko was initially one of a professional nature. Their early meetings on Starbase 375 consisted of tactical reports and mission planning with no room for personal conversation. When Ross appointed Sisko his adjutant, he did however, note that he was very impressed with Sisko's performance on the Defiant and felt they would make a good team. Sisko expressed some desire to remain with his ship, especially on the eve of the Argolis mission, and did not return Ross' expression of congratulations on his new position.
During the mission itself, Sisko could not sleep, instead waited up for news of the Defiant's progress. Admiral Ross attempted to remind him he was now responsible for an entire tactical wing with thousands of lives at stake and that he had to get used to the Defiant being away on missions. When the crew returned after completing their mission, Sisko relaxed slightly, and both he and Ross shared a drink in the ship's mess hall. (DS9: "Behind the Lines")
As time went on, Ross and Sisko began to discuss matters of a personal nature. Prior to the launch of Operation Return, Ross paid a visit to Sisko to wish him good luck on the mission. As Sisko was reading a book on Bajoran texts, the conversation quickly changed to Bajor, with the captain recommending he visit the planet sometime. Ross joked that he, "was already planning [his] next R&R there". (DS9: "Favor the Bold")
Upon awarding Sisko the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor, Ross noted his remarkable leadership and meritorious service in the fight against the Dominion and his bravery in taking back Deep Space 9. Due to Ross' respect for the Sisko as a Starfleet officer, he personally chose him to plan the invasion of Cardassia in late 2374. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")
Despite his respect for Sisko, the captain's role as Emissary of the Prophets did cause friction between the two. This came to a head when Ross ordered him to, "stop meddling in Bajoran affairs and return the damned tablet", referring to Sisko's acquisition of the Reckoning Tablet from Bajor and after an official protest from Kai Winn Adami. (DS9: "The Reckoning")
The two also clashed following Sisko's vision from the Prophets telling him not to go on the mission to Chin'toka. Sisko asked Ross to let him stay on Deep Space 9 but unsatisfied by Sisko's reasoning, Ross warned him, "You've got to make a decision. You are either the Emissary or a Starfleet captain. You can't be both." Sisko ultimately decided to go on the mission as planned. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")
After Sisko took leave to return to Earth in 2375, Admiral Ross had his doubts about whether he would return. However, when Sisko did indeed return to the station, his relationship with Admiral Ross began to improve, so much so that he invited Admiral Ross to preside over his wedding to Kasidy Yates. (DS9: "Image in the Sand", "Afterimage", "'Til Death Do Us Part")
This relationship improved as the year went on. Following the destruction of the Defiant at the Second Battle of Chin'toka, Ross promised Sisko he would find him a new ship, though it may take some time. He later kept this promise when he presented the Captain with the USS Sao Paulo on stardate 52861.3, just in time for the assault on Cardassia Prime. Ross even arranged for the ship to be renamed the USS Defiant in honor of Sisko's former ship. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil", "The Dogs of War")
As commanders of their respective fleets, Ross and Martok spent most of their time together discussing the war effort. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets", "When It Rains...", "The Dogs of War", "What You Leave Behind")
In late 2375, Ross was invited to participate in Martok's induction into the Order of Kahless though appeared noticeably uncomfortable during the ceremony, especially when he learned he was to cut the palm of his hand using a Klingon d'k tahg. Even though this was a learning experience for Ross, he still took to it in honor of Martok's service and partook in some blood wine to celebrate. (DS9: "When It Rains...")
Following the Battle of Cardassia, Martok opened a bottle of blood wine with both Ross and Sisko following his promise to do so upon their victory over the Dominion. However, Ross and Sisko declined to drink over the bodies of their enemies, much to Martok's displeasure. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
As a Starfleet admiral and Sisko's superior, Ross did not come into contact with Kira Nerys until early-2375, following Sisko's decision to take leave on Earth. With Kira in command of Deep Space 9, Ross informed her Romulan senator Cretak and her delegation would be establishing a presence on the station for the duration of the war. Though Kira voiced her objections to the admiral, Ross firmly rejected them, tell her the decision had already been made and that she didn't have a say in it. Though the two of them clashed on the issue, Ross did compliment Kira on her command of the station in Sisko's absence, hinting that he didn't believe the captain would return. (DS9: "Image in the Sand")
Their relationship became further strained following the placement of Romulan plasma weapons on the Bajoran moon of Derna. Though Ross sympathized with Kira's stance that the Romulans had no right putting weapons on a Bajoran moon, he declined to assist her in removing them for fear it would jeopardize the alliance. Kira took this to mean the Bajorans weren't as important to the war effort as the Romulans, and decided to take matters into her own hands by blockading the moon, thereby preventing any Romulan ships from reaching it. With the blockade in place, Ross attempted to convince Kira to stop what she was doing to no avail. When he realized the colonel's resolve, Ross decided to take a positive stance and instructed Cretak to remove the weapons "or he would". Following the incident, Ross jokingly instructed Kira to remind him never to play poker with her. (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")
"The Prophets don't see me as a Starfleet captain. They see me as their Emissary."
"That's the problem, isn't it? For the past six years you've tried to be both, and up to now I've been patient. I've indulged you, I've gone out on a limb for you many times, but this is it. You've got to make a decision. You are either the Emissary or a Starfleet captain. You can't be both."
"Let's get one thing straight, colonel. I came here as a courtesy to you. This decision has already been made."
"Remind me never to play poker with you."
"I don't like it. But I've spent the last year and a half of my life ordering young men and young women to die. I like that even less."
"That's a glib answer and a cheap way to avoid the fact that you've trampled on the very thing that those men and women are out there dying to protect! Does that not mean anything to you?"
"Inter arma enim silent leges."
"Four hundred years ago, a victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war. Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph. From both we have learned there can be no going back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we've won in war."
- - William Ross, quoting Douglas MacArthur at the signing of the Dominion treaty (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
- "A Time to Stand"
- "Sons and Daughters" (referenced)
- "Behind the Lines"
- "Favor the Bold"
- "The Reckoning" (referenced)
- "Tears of the Prophets"
- "Image in the Sand"
- "Shadows and Symbols"
- "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
- "'Til Death Do Us Part"
- "The Changing Face of Evil"
- "When It Rains..."
- "The Dogs of War"
- "What You Leave Behind"
William Ross was played by actor Barry Jenner.
The script for "A Time to Stand" describes Ross as, "despite being a man no older than Sisko, shows signs of the burden of office." As Sisko was born in 2332, this would put Ross around age 42 at the time of the episode. 
The producers were so impressed by Jenner's portrayal of Ross in auditions, that they quickly wanted to get him into the show. Though flattered, Jenner felt he was just doing what any actor would do; "It's too easy for someone in my category to come in and play Mister Stern, Mister Disciplinarian, Mister Admiral," he recalled, "And there are plenty of actors who deliver the lines, where the words are direct and spoken correctly, with the delays in the correct spot. But I gave him a backstory. As an actor, I tend to give everybody I play some sort of previous life. In Ross's case, he was obviously a line officer who'd seen a lot of combat, seen a lot of people killed, and he's got a lot of memories. And that really tied into the way I did the audition scene, where he was talking to Sisko about sending young men and women off to battle, knowing that some of them wouldn't come back." Indeed, after shooting "A Time to Stand", Ira Steven Behr joked, "We've had other admirals on this show. We're glad we've found you. Sorry it took five years!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp.476-477)
Writer and producer Rene Echevarria noted how Jenner "bucked the trend" of Star Trek admirals coming off as bad guys; "Traditionally, admirals in Star Trek never came off very well," he commented, "Most of them seem shifty or untrustworthy. [Jenner] seemed like a good foil. Light and droll and all the things we wanted an admiral to be." Similarly, Behr explained, "Finding an admiral [...] has usually been both a joke and a horror. Because what we basically get at casting sessions is either gruff! or bland. Gruff or bland. [Jenner] brings a gravitas to the role, and yet you can see there's a man behind the uniform. I think that Barry Jenner is one of the unsung heroes of the show, one of the pieces of the puzzle that might not be readily apparent to the audience. But he's part of the glue that makes our job easier." Hans Beimler said in agreement, "We went through admirals the way some people go through tissues. Tissue after tissue had been discarded. We could never find the right person. They were either too strident or too difficult or too unbelievable. But when we found Barry, we knew we had found someone that we could develop and use on he show. He gave us the right attitude - that admiral attitude - that was really intelligent. He seemed like someone who could be Sisko's boss." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p.496)
In "Image in the Sand", Odo refers to Ross as "Bill". This was originally put in as a joke by writers Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler, but as Behr explained, it quickly caught on; "At the time Hans and I wrote the line, we weren't even sure if that was the admiral's name, because Odo was making a joke. But it caught on, and after that, every goddam writer had to put the name in his script. You know, 'Oh, there's Bill Ross', 'Let's get Bill Ross to perform the ceremony'. So he's no longer Admiral Ross, he's Bill." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 598)
Ira Steven Behr specifically wrote Ross into "Shadows and Symbols" as he knew Jenner would be able to pull off Ross's backing down without making him appear weak. During one scene in the episode, Jenner also felt as though Ross would experience regret for his decision not to back Kira, due to his respect for her, something that was appreciated by Behr; "Ira came down to the set and watched as Nana [Visitor] and I went through the scene where Ross tells Kira he won't back her if she goes against the Romulans. Afterward, he came over and asked what I was playing there. I told him that I was trying to show that Ross feels regret over his decision because he really respects Colonel Kira. And Ira told me he never thought of putting that into the scene, but he appreciated that I did." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 602)
Perhaps Ross's most notable episode is "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", in which his character goes through an important change. Looking back on the episode, Jenner recalled, "He'd do anything to save the Federation. And here he put so much value on the success of the war efforts that he's willing to do things that might not be thought of as honest and aboveboard. He was willing to bend some rules behind the scenes and go through some soul-searching to defend the integrity of the Federation." Behr observed that Ross was, in many ways, like Sisko; "Ross is a compromised guy, just like Sisko", he commented, "But it's not like he's a double agent. If he were, we'd have never allowed him to marry Sisko and Kasidy." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 661)
Speaking of the wedding itself in "'Til Death Do Us part", writer Bradley Thompson revealed Ross's words were based on the marriage ceremony of Miles and Keiko O'Brien in TNG: "Data's Day"; "Ron [D. Moore] had written the speech that Captain Picard delivers when he married O'Brien and Keiko [...] and he based that on a speech Kirk gives at the wedding in the original series. David [Weddle] and I looked at both of those episodes, and then modified it a little. We took the tradition and improvised on it, because the words don't actually come out of a book. You can say whatever you want. So they're similar but not identical to what Kirk and Picard say." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 687-688)
Over the course of the series, actor Barry Jenner put together his own personal backstory for the character; "He has two children", Jenner explained, "a boy and a girl, both serving in Starfleet. The young man was lost in battle, but his daughter is still alive, and I think that one of he reasons Ross likes Benjamin Sisko is because he would trust for his daughter to serve under the captain." Jenner also took the time to explore Ross's office and noted that one of his diplomas mentions his first name as being "Cliff". As the diplomas were set decoration and were never intended to be seen on camera, they weren't taken into consideration when naming the character. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 598)
In a September 1999 issue of Star Trek Monthly, a news article mentioned Jenner had been asked to reprise the role of Ross in Star Trek: Voyager, something which never transpired. (Star Trek Monthly issue 56)
William Ross has become a popular character in numerous non-canon works.
The novel Articles of the Federation reveals he and his parents took a publicly-offered tour of the Palais de la Concorde when he was just seven years of age, during the 2320s. During the tour, he enters the Presidential Office and meets several prominent Federation Councillors.
In the SCE eBook Home Fires, Ross is a Lieutenant Commander working with Starfleet Intelligence in the 2350s. In 2355 he recruits the services of civilian captains Giancarlo and Aldo Corsi of the freighter Ulrika's Hope to conduct some discreet scans of the Topin system in hopes of gaining intelligence on the workings within the Cardassian Union. Despite Ross's assurances, the scans are detected and the Ulrika's Hope is intercepted by a Cardassian vessel commanded by Gul Mogad, who kills Giancarlo Corsi. Ross and his team manage to save most of the Hope's crew, but the grieving Aldo gives Mogad the intelligence gathered in exchange for a cessation of hostilities.
Following this, in The Future Begins, Ross appears as Second Officer on the USS Leonov, during the conflict with the Tzenkethi. During one battle against two Tzenkethi vessels, the Leonov's warp core is breached, and the crew barely have time to make it to escape pods. The Tzenkethi kill half of the surviving crew by shooting down the pods. Those who survive, including Ross, find refuge on an L-class planet. A few months later, Ross learns that the ship's coordinates had been given to the Tzenkethi by a member of a rogue intelligence network from within the Federation. Ross tracks down the agent to a remote moon in the Arias sector, where he explains the Leonov had been about to receive orders to destroy a presumed Tzenkethi industrial complex that had been based on bad intelligence. Section 31 thought that the loss of innocent life would aggravate matters with the Tzenkethi, and took steps to keep the Leonov from carrying out its mission. Ross makes the difficult decision not to report the man to Starfleet Command. This is the first time Ross comes into contact with Section 31 during his career. The book also gives Ross's middle name as "Johannes".
The non-canon video game Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Fallen reveals that Ross served as first officer on the USS Ulysses during a mission to locate the orb of the Pah-wraiths in 2361. During their search, the ship is attacked by a Galor-class warship and Ross is taken captive by the Cardassians. Furthermore, his character makes several non-speaking appearances on the station's promenade in-between missions.
In the The Sky's the Limit short story "Turncoats", Admiral Ross travels to Draken IV after Vice-Proconsul M'ret and his aides N'veran and Revaik defect to the Federation aboard the USS Enterprise-D in 2369. Ross expresses his desire to oversee their debriefing but the Vulcans request they be brought to Vulcan instead. After the Enterprise is damaged by a Romulan weapon and Starfleet is unable to contact her, Ross send the USS Nolan to investigate.
The Slings and Arrows eBook The Oppressor's Wrong reveals that Ross was given his assignment on Starbase 375 following the death of Admiral Eric Hahn and the arrest of Captain Ishmael Snowden for his role in a conspiracy against the Federation government.
According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch novels Avatar, Book 1 and Avatar, Book 2, Ross is kept busy in the months following the war, overseeing the response to an attack by rogue Jem'Hadar soldiers on starbase Deep Space 9. The books also state his flagship is the Prometheus-class USS Cerberus. He is also kept busy coordinating fleet actions in the Gateway Crisis, as featured in the Star Trek: Gateways novel series.
The SCE eBook Breakdowns Ross heads an inquiry into the near-destruction of the USS da Vinci at Galvan VI, later finding Captain David Gold not at fault for the incident. This takes place in the year 2376.
In the Pocket DS9 novel Abyss, also set in 2376, Ross has access to the Pathfinder Project database and asks the crew of Deep Space 9 for their opinions on the data gathered by the crew of the USS Voyager during their time in the Delta Quadrant.
Ross also appears in the A Time to... novel series, during which, in 2379, he discovers that Federation President Min Zife is responsible for supplying the Tezwan madman Kinchawn with the weapons that were responsible for the deaths of 6000 Klingon warriors. Ross and several other Starfleet admirals resolve to remove Zife from office, with Ross insisting that the President needs to be held accountable for his crimes, even if the public never knew. Ross is later contacted by Section 31, who write Zife's resignation speech and have the President and two of his top advisers quietly executed for their crimes. Following Zife's resignation, Ross is considered as a likely candidate for the office but declines to run, instead becoming an advisor to Nanietta Bacco's campaign.
This story is followed up in Articles of the Federation, in which Ross is forced to retire from Starfleet when President Bacco discovers his involvement in Min Zife's death. Because of his respected position and history, Bacco allows Ross to disappear into obscurity rather than face public punishment. The novel gives his retirement year as 2380.
In the Star Trek: Titan novel Taking Wing, set in late-2379, Ross orders the USS Titan to Romulus in response to Praetor Tal'aura's request for relief and humanitarian aid to the stricken Romulan Star Empire, following Shinzon's assassination of the Imperial Senate.
With regards to Ross's personal life, the novelization of "Sacrifice of Angels" reveals Ross had a son who also served in Starfleet, while the novelization of "What You Leave Behind" states he was a friend of Morn.
William Ross also appears as a selectable commanding officer in the video game Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dominion Wars, in which he is voiced by his Deep Space Nine actor Barry Jenner. He also has a card in the Star Trek Customizable Card Game.