Remembering Aron Eisenberg

A few years ago my brother, Hendrik, put together a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine watchlist for our other brother, John. Early on in the viewing John complained that young Ferengi Nog, played by Aron Eisenberg, was so annoying. Hendrik and I shared a look—some irony, some amusement, a lot of affection—and told him to “Just wait.”

screen cap of Nog
Aron Eisenberg as Nog in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Paramount/CBS)

Nog has one of the most surprising, most earnest, and most poignant character arcs in all of Star Trek. In his early episodes, John’s right, he’s annoying, and little more than a plot device or comic relief, a sidekick for series regulars Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) and his uncle Quark (Armin Shimerman). But over the series’ seven seasons he grows into much more. He stands up for himself, becomes the first Ferengi in Starfleet, fights in a war, and has a beautiful arc as a wounded veteran. Nog embodies the concept of “don’t judge a book by (the preconceived notions you attach to what is depicted on) its cover” and has become a celebrated character in the fandom. 

Aron Eisenberg died Saturday, September 21, 2019, at the age of 50. It is appropriate to grieve him as a talent, as someone who brought us a beloved character and put his whole heart into the role. But Aron was also a force within the Star Trek fandom: he was a staple at conventions, he hosted more than one related podcast, and he interacted with fans across social media platforms. He was known as approachable, warm, down to Earth, and funny. Someone who understood his impact, and let people know they were heard. At the announcement of his death, hundreds of fans shared their memories of him on Twitter and Facebook and a through line quickly emerged—Aron Eisenberg was more than an actor and they were more than fans. He was a member of the community, he was a friend. 

tote bag with art by Malissa and signed by Aron and Malissa hanging in the author's bedroom
Malissa’s art, signed by Aron and Malissa (Photo: Anika Dane)

Last October, I saw Aron and his wife, Malissa Longo, at a Star Trek convention I worked at in New York. Malissa was selling tote bags with a drawing of her hand in a Vulcan salute and Aron autographed each purchase. I asked if Malissa would sign it, too, as the artist. She was surprised, and he was delighted. It was a tiny interaction, ten minutes of a packed weekend, but it stuck with me, how proud he was of her accomplishment and how grateful he was for my recognition of it. 

Born with only one kidney and the recipient of two organ transplants, Aron dealt with health concerns his whole life. He was open about it, frank, but didn’t dwell. It didn’t define him, just like Star Trek and Nog didn’t define him. Actor, photographer, personality, husband, father, friend… he was all of these things and more. We miss you, Aron. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with so many. 

Aron Eisenberg is survived by his wife and his two sons. Learn more about organ donation here.

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