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Khan Noonien Singh

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Ah, Kirk, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish best served cold? is very cold in space!
~ Khan to Captain Kirk

Khan Noonien Singh is a villain from the Star Trek franchise and the main antagonist of the feature film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

He was portrayed by the late Ricardo Montalban.


Early History

Hailing from Northern India, he was genetically engineered to be the perfect human (or "Augment") in the late 20th century Earth. Khan and several other Augments fought to take over the world in what became known as the Eugenics Wars. Khan himself became absolute ruler of one-fourth of the world from 1992 to 1996. When his bid for power failed, he and many of his followers put themselves into cryogenic sleep on the SS Botany Bay and fled into space.

Awakened in the 23rd Century and Exile

I have five times your strength. You are no match for me!
~ Khan to James T Kirk during their fight

Khan with Kirk in the TOS episode "Space Seed."

In the 23rd century, the Botany Bay was discovered drifting in space by the USS Enterprise. Khan was revived by the ship's historian, Marla McGivers, who wished to learn from him. She became increasingly attracted to Khan, and fell in love with him.

Khan then attempted to commandeer the Enterprise and use it to create a colony for himself and whoever would follow. He was eventually beaten by the ship's crew and its captain, James T. Kirk, and agreed to go into exile on the paradisical and uninhabited planet Ceti Alpha V.

During his exile, the nearby Ceti Alpha VI exploded, which resulted in Ceti Alpha V's orbit being shifted, which turned the planet into a desert wasteland which in tyrn also resulted in the deaths of twenty of his followers, including McGivers. This enraged Khan, who blamed Kirk for her death.

Loss of his people, Vengeance against Kirk, and Death

I've done far worse than kill you. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet... buried alive! Buried alive...!
~ Khan's famous speech to James Kirk

Khan in Star Trek II

Some years later, the starship USS Reliant arrived at Ceti Alpha V looking for a lifeless planet on which to test the Genesis Device, which created life from nothing. Khan managed to take control of Reliant commanding officer Captain Clark Terrell and his first officer Commander Pavel Chekov, and learned of a side effect of Genesis: If used on a planet containing life, all of that life would be destroyed.

He decided to use the Genesis Device in his plan of vengeance against Kirk, who had since been promoted to Admiral. He attacked the space station Regula I and seized the Genesis Device. He then confronted Kirk, who was aboard the Enterprise for a training mission, and attacked. Kirk managed to hack into the Reliant's computer and shut down its shields, then fired upon the ship and dealt heavy damage.

In their next encounter, Khan attempted to trap Kirk underground on the moon that Regula I was orbiting; this prompted Kirk to shout "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNN!!!" into his transmitter. Kirk was later safely beamed back aboard the Enterprise.

Khan and Kirk's next encounter occurred within the Mutara Nebula, and Kirk laid massive damage on the Reliant. Khan, in a last-ditch attempt to kill Kirk, activated the Genesis Device. The Genesis effect killed Khan and destroyed the Reliant, but Kirk and the Enterprise got away safely thanks to Captain Spock sacrificing his life to save his crewmates.

Skills and abilities

Khan possesses incredible physical and mental attributes, making him physically, mentally and intellectually superior to even the most exceptional of humans:

  • Enhanced strength: He possesses superhuman strength, and is capable of crushing a phaser pistol in his fingers and lifting a grown man off the ground with one hand.
  • Enhanced durability: Khan was extremely durable, and could withstand immense amounts of damage with complete ease, shown during his fight with Kirk.
  • Superior intellect: His intelligence is incredibly high, making him the perfect strategist. He possesses a very precise memory - he never forgets a face - and is capable of quickly deducing completely correct conclusions based on little-to-no information.
  • Master strategist: Khan is extremely learned in space combat and strategy, shown widely throughout The Wrath of Khan.
  • Expert combatant: Khan's strength, intelligence and strategic abilities make him an awesome fighter - he uses his brute strength and durability to overwhelm an opponent, but also relies on the overconfidence of his opponents. He only lost his fight with Kirk because of his own arrogance and overconfidence.


New Policy on Genetic Engineering

After Khan's death, his actions left a lasting impression on how genetic engineering in the Federation is conducted. No human on Earth wasn't allowed to genetically enhance another human in the same fashion that Khan and his people were.

This was enforced around a century later when Julian Bashir, Chief Medical Officer of Deep Space 9, was discovered to be an Augment like Khan. His father was put in a Federation penal colony for six months. When Julian asked Rear Admiral Bennett if that was a bit harsh, he said no and he elaborated in the following quote:

Two hundred years ago, we tried to improve the species through DNA re-sequencing. And what did we get for our troubles? The Eugenics Wars. For every Julian Bashir that can be created, there's a Khan Singh waiting in the wings, a superhuman whose ambition and thirst for power have been enhanced along with his intellect. The law against genetic engineering provided a firewall against such men. And it's my job to keep that firewall intact.

With the exception of Julian, every person who was discovered to be an Augment was locked away in an asylum.

Transcending Realities

In an alternate reality, Kirk and the Enterprise crew encountered a version of Khan indigenous to that universe. During a battle with that Khan, Spock contacted Spock Prime about the original Khan:

Spock: I will be brief. In your travels, did you ever encounter a man named Khan?
Spock Prime: As you know, I have made a vow never to give you information that could potentially alter your destiny. Your path is yours to walk and yours alone. That being said, Khan Noonien Singh is the most dangerous adversary the Enterprise ever faced. He is brilliant, ruthless and he will not hesitate to kill every single one of you.
Spock: Did you defeat him?
Spock Prime: At great cost, yes.
Spock: How?

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