- For other uses, see Badlands.
The Badlands was a region of space made up of intense plasma storms and gravitational anomalies spanning over 84 parsecs (or 274 light years). The Badlands were located in sector 21305 along the Federation-Cardassian border in the Alpha Quadrant . The region contained 2 stars, 17 planets and 43 moons, three of which were class M, and a large asteroid belt. (ST short story: "The Specter of Jamestown") It was known that both the Federation and Starfleet had developed a healthy fear of the Badlands. (DS9 novel: Behind Enemy Lines)
The Badlands were believed to have been formed around 500,000 years prior to the 24th century, a theory developed to explain how stars and planets came to exist in such a volatile area. This would later lead to concerns such violent conditions could spread or, by whatever means the Badlands began, start somewhere else. (ST short story: "The Specter of Jamestown")
The first Federation exploration of the Badlands was made by the USS Enterprise in 2268, with the Badlands name being applied by the Enterprise chief medical officer, Leonard McCoy, after the region located in South Dakota on Earth. During that first mission to the Badlands a Romulan Bird-of-Prey was destroyed, and shortly after the crew began exhibiting signs of radiation sickness. Unbeknownst to anyone at this time, the Bird-of-Prey was testing an experimental quantum singularity drive, and the singularity was still traveling around the Badlands. (TOS - The Badlands, Book One novella: Part I)
The next major attempt to chart the Badlands was conducted in 2335 by the Oberth-class research vessel, USS Yosemite. The Yosemite became the first ship to penetrate the plasma storms and was subjected to a subspace incursion that disrupted its power systems. Captain Indul and her crew discovered the ship's warp engines had acted as a lightning rod, attracting the energy of the Badlands right at their vessel. (TNG - The Badlands, Book One novella: Part II)
During the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor during the mid-24th century, the Bajoran Resistance used the Badlands as a refuge from Cardassian patrols. The only drawback to using the Badlands was the poor sensor range, so they were often forced to use echo-location to evade the Cardassians. (DS9 episode: "Starship Down")
During the 24th century, many ships became lost in the Badlands. During the 2340s and 2350s alone, the Cardassian Union lost many vessels, including the freighters Kamal and Ravinok. The remains of the Ravinok were later discovered on the planet Dozaria, and was found to have been attacked by the Breen. (DS9 episode: "Indiscretion"; DS9 - Avatar novel: Book One) In the mirror universe, the Badlands were also used as a staging area by the Terran Rebellion before their capture of Terok Nor in 2372. 
In 2368, the USS Enterprise-D was assigned to complete a full survey of the Badlands. The Enterprise was joined in their survey by Cardassian officers, Jos Mengred and Pakat. During the mission Commander William T. Riker was stricken by the same illness that had struck the crew of the original Enterprise a century earlier, thankfully he was cured. (TNG - The Badlands, Book One novella: Part II)
Following the creation of the Demilitarized Zone in the Federation-Cardassian Treaty of 2370, the Maquis used the Badlands as a favored hiding place from Cardassian patrols, and a great place to stage attacks from, much like the Bajoran resistance before them. In one of their first major offensives, they kidnapped Gul Skrain Dukat and held him on an asteroid in the Badlands. (DS9 episode: "The Maquis, Part II")
In 2371, the Badlands became a hunting ground for a being known as the Caretaker, who would snatch starships away and transport them to the Delta Quadrant. The ships that were taken included the Starfleet vessels USS Voyager and USS Equinox, the Maquis vessel Val Jean, and a Cardassian Galor-class warship. (VOY episodes: "Caretaker", "Equinox, Part I", "The Voyager Conspiracy")
Three weeks before the disappearance of the USS Voyager, Maquis Captain Chakotay, commanding the Val Jean, was about to lead an attack force against the Montee Fass shipyards in the Oliv system. However, the attempt had to be aborted due to plasma storm activity in the Badlands. The mission was not a complete failure, as Chakotay was able to destroy the Cardassian station, Opek Nor. The attack drew the attention of Gul Aman Evek and the Vetar which pursued the Val Jean into the Badlands, where the Maquis ship disappeared, and the Vetar was badly damaged in the plasma storms.
The crew of the Vetar were rescued by the USS Voyager and the Cardassian warship, CDS Prakesh. Always the scientist, Captain Kathryn Janeway, surveyed the star charts and theorized that the Badlands anomaly was a free-floating quantum singularity that was traveling around the Badlands, and was released by the Romulan Bird-of-Prey in 2268. (VOY - The Badlands, Book Two novella: Part III)
In mid 2373, at the behest of Constable Odo, the USS Defiant entered the Badlands to track down the Badlands anomaly. Also at this time, Centurion Bokra of the Romulan Star Empire, was dispatched to the Badlands to retrieve the anomaly and use it against the Dominion. Bokra was successful in capturing the anomaly, but shortly after his ship was destroyed by two Jem'Hadar attack ships, and the anomaly was released again. Fortunately, the Defiant captured the anomaly and transported it 10,000 light years into deep space using a Romulan folded-space transporter. (DS9 - The Badlands, Book Two novella: Part IV)
By the end of 2373, Cardassia had joined the Dominion, and the new alliance sent the Jem'Hadar to vanquish the Maquis. The Maquis decided to make their last stand on the planet Athos IV, located in the Badlands. The base was discovered, but thanks to the efforts of Captain Benjamin Sisko and Michael Eddington the remaining Maquis escaped. (DS9 episode: "Blaze of Glory")
At some point, the Maquis had investigated the planet Sindorin, interested in a rare element found on the planet that the trees absorbed, blocking sensor scans. However, the Maquis abandoned plans to use the planet due to a combination of the weather and the arrival of the Dominion. The Dominion took an interest in the planet and built a Jem'Hadar hatchery on the surface, but were unable to bring it online before the end of the war. Former Section 31 operative turned traitor Ethan Locken took command of the facility until Section 31 dispatched Doctor Julian Bashir to bring him and the facility down. (DS9 novel: Abyss)
Following the end of the Dominion War in 2376, the USS Enterprise-E was dispatched into the Badlands to investigate Klingon reports of Breen activity in the Badlands. After three weeks they found no evidence of the Breen, and despite other similar reports of Breen activity, Commander Elias Vaughn thought it unlikely the Breen would amass a hidden fleet. The Enterprise did though discover the Cardassian freighter Kamal, which contained the Orb of Memory, which they then transported back to Bajor. (DS9 novel: Avatar)