Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Multiple realities
(covers information from several alternate timelines)

"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."

Khan Noonien Singh (or simply Khan) was an extremely intelligent and dangerous superhuman. He was the most prominent of the genetically-engineered Human Augments of the Eugenics Wars period on Earth. Khan was considered, by the USS Enterprise command crew, over three centuries later, to have been "the best" of them. Reappearing with a cadre of Augment followers in the 23rd century, Khan became a notorious enemy of James T. Kirk.

Khan's existence as an Augment served, as well, as a warning to society of the danger in attempting to create "supermen" through technological means. Ambassador Spock stated that he was the most dangerous adversary the Enterprise ever faced. (ENT: "The Augments"; TOS: "Space Seed"; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume"; Star Trek Into Darkness)


20th century origins[]

Khan Noonien Singh, 1996

One of the few historic pictures of Khan from the 1990s

Records of the period, including Khan's origins, are vague. Khan was born, or created in 1959. (Star Trek Into Darkness) He was the product of a selective breeding or genetic engineering program called Project Khan, based on the eugenic philosophy that held improving the capabilities of a man improved the entire Human race. Augments produced by the program possessed physical strength and analytical capabilities considerably superior to ordinary Humans, and were created from a variety of Earth's ethnic groups. Khan's background was suspected by McGivers to be Sikh, from the northern region of India. (PIC: "Farewell"; TOS: "Space Seed")

Khan lived up to the axiom coined by one of his creators, "superior ability breeds superior ambition". By 1993, a wave of the genetic "supermen," including Khan, had simultaneously assumed control of more than forty of Earth's nations. From 1992 to 1996, Khan was absolute ruler of more than one-quarter of Earth's population, including regions of Asia and the Middle East. Considered "the best of tyrants"; Khan's reign was considered the most benevolent. His regime was free of much of the problems that plagued Earth history of that era – as Khan was never known for engaging in massacres, genocide or wars of aggression. However, the citizens of his regime enjoyed little freedom. Khan had little, if any, respect for individual liberty, which was also a key issue for Earth history. As such, personal initiative and financial investment were low, and scientific progress suffered as a result.

Khan asleep aboard the Botany Bay

Khan aboard the Botany Bay

In the mid-1990s, the Augment tyrants began warring among themselves. Other nations joined in, to force them from power, in a series of struggles that became known as the Eugenics Wars. Eventually, most of the tyrants were defeated and their territory recaptured, but up to ninety "supermen" were never accounted for.

Khan escaped the wars and their consequences along with eighty-four followers, who swore to live and die at his command. He saw his best option in a risky, self-imposed exile. In 1996, he took control of a DY-100-class interplanetary sleeper ship he christened SS Botany Bay, named for the site of the Australian penal colony. Set on a course outbound from the solar system but with no apparent destination in mind, Khan and his people remained in suspended animation for Botany Bay's centuries-long sublight journey. (TOS: "Space Seed"; Star Trek Into Darkness)

21st century temporal changes[]

Khan Noonien Singh, child

Khan as a child in 2022

Due to the changes caused in the timeline as a result of various Temporal Wars, the original events concerning the rise of Singh were pushed back, and events reinserted themselves at a later date in the timeline. According to Romulan temporal agent Sera, in a revised 2022 timeline, "And all this was supposed to happen back in 1992, and I've been trapped here for 30 years trying to get my shot at [Khan]."

The Khan of this era lived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the Noonien-Singh Institute for Cultural Advancement.

As a child in the revised timeline, he witnessed La'an Noonien-Singh shoot and wound Sera, his would-be assassin. La'an entered Khan's room and found her infamous ancestor cowering behind his bed. When Khan asked if she was going to kill him, she looked at the gun and sat it on the desk next to the bed. La'an assured him that she would not hurt him, as she proceeded to wipe Romulan blood from his face. Curious, La'an asked if he was alone, or if there were others like him. Khan gestured to a photograph on the wall of himself and six other children. He then asked if she was going to take him away. La'an told him that it may not make sense to him, then or maybe ever, but he was where he needed to be. She walked to the entrance of the room, activated the temporal transporter device in front of Khan, and returned to her own time period.

Khan’s legacy in the altered timeline was a history of torture, genocide, and his descendants.

In an alternate timeline, which was created from the revised timeline, Sera successfully assassinated Khan by blowing up a nearby fusion reactor (also destroying Toronto) after a Federation Department of Temporal Investigations agent was shot and failed to protect Khan. As a result, a dark future for Humanity emerged in which Earth was nearly uninhabitable, Starfleet and Federation never formed, and the Romulan Star Empire was the dominant force of the region.

This timeline was averted after Khan's descendant, La'an, encountered the temporal agent aboard the USS Enterprise who directed her to return to the past, and with the help of James Kirk, from the, now, alternate timeline. The two time traveled to the past and La'an stopped Khan's assassination and restored the timeline to as she knew it. (SNW: "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow")

23rd century return[]

Kirk and Khan's first meeting

Khan meeting James T. Kirk for the first time

The USS Enterprise discovered the Botany Bay in 2267. The boarding party's arrival and investigation of the Botany Bay activated Khan's stasis unit to revive him – but the ancient mechanism faltered. The decision of Captain James T. Kirk to remove him from the stasis chamber, and Dr. Leonard McCoy's subsequent ministrations, saved Khan's life.

Twelve of the stasis units had failed during the voyage out from Earth. Kirk, and the Enterprise, taking the Botany Bay in tow, left the remaining 72 sleepers for disposition at Starbase 12 following their leader's successful recovery. The Botany Bay's undocumented departure, and the fragmented records of the period, initially obscured the identity of the sleepers from the Enterprise crew – but the man with incredible recuperative powers in sickbay led Kirk to suspect their genetically-manipulated nature.

Khan McGivers Kirk social

"Social occasions are only warfare concealed."

Khan took advantage of Kirk's hospitality. He familiarized himself with his lost history by absorbing the ship's technical manuals. He discovered a weakness in the attraction he engendered from the pliant and submissive ship's historian, Lieutenant Marla McGivers. At a dinner given in Khan's honor, Khan regaled the captain's table with a romantic interpretation of the Eugenics Wars, until he was finally prodded by Kirk into declaring "We offered the world order!"

Khan and Kirk, 2267

Khan sizes up Kirk at dinner aboard the Enterprise

Eventually, Kirk and Spock identified their guest as being the deposed tyrant from Earth's past. Khan was confined by Kirk to his quarters. Khan, however, soon began his takeover of the Enterprise, starting with his influence over McGivers. With her help, Khan escaped to the Botany Bay – and revived his followers, including Joachim, Joaquin, Kati, Ling, McPherson, Otto, and Rodriguez. Re-boarding the Enterprise, Khan took control of the Enterprise from engineering and cut life support to the bridge.

With the crew subdued and Kirk held hostage, Khan asked the officers to spare Kirk's life by joining him in his quest to take the Enterprise to a colony "willing to be led" by himself (more correctly, to be conquered by him, a task which the arsenal of the Enterprise would make most simple). The officers' recalcitrance led McGivers, unwilling to go so far as to participate in murder, to betray Khan and release Kirk. The Augments were disabled with anesthetic gas, but Khan was quick enough to avoid inhaling the gas by shutting himself in the Engineering section and isolating its atmospheric and life-support functions from the effects of the gas.

Khan attempted to destroy the Enterprise with a warp core overload as Kirk engaged the tyrant in physical combat. Although Kirk was a skilled opponent, Khan's superior strength enabled him to quickly outmatch the Starfleet officer. During the fight, Khan overconfidently boasted that he had five times the man's strength, ergo Kirk was no match for him. When it became clear that Kirk could not defeat Khan hand-to-hand, Kirk pulled loose a heavy flow-control rod and used it to subdue him.

Khan wearing Starfleet uniform

Khan wearing a Starfleet uniform

Kirk retained some admiration for the determined, capable man of history. The prospect of imprisoning and rehabilitating the Augments seemed to Kirk to be unavailing to the Federation. Instead, Kirk granted an opportunity to Khan and his followers: colonize the dangerous but habitable nearby world of Ceti Alpha V. McGivers was given by Kirk the choice of facing court martial or joining the new colony. McGivers chose to go with Khan, and Khan took up Kirk's challenge to "tame a world", citing Milton's Lucifer, "It is better to Rule in Hell, than Serve in Heaven." (TOS: "Space Seed")

Second exile[]

Ceti Alpha V, 2285

Ceti Alpha V in 2285

With Starfleet-issue cargo containers for shelter, Khan and his people settled in to life on their new world. Only six months after their landing on Ceti Alpha V however, a cataclysm on Ceti Alpha VI shifted the system's orbits, causing massive ecological devastation on Ceti Alpha V.

Khan's ingenuity and the meager shelter of the cargo containers kept his people alive while most of the indigenous life perished. The rugged indigenous Ceti eels survived – and as the only hosts available for their young, Khan's people were beset by the creatures. Over time, Khan lost twenty of his people to the slow, maddening death caused by the eels, including his "beloved wife."

It was the intent of the filmmakers, and a widely accepted fact in Star Trek apocrypha, that this wife was McGivers from the original "Space Seed" episode; however, this was never confirmed on-screen.

Khan, 2285

Khan, after being discovered by Terrell and Chekov

Neither Kirk nor Starfleet followed up on the colony's progress, probably because Starfleet and Federation records never recorded the colony as official, and due Starfleet cover. The starship USS Reliant, attached to Project Genesis and tasked with finding a suitable proving ground for the device, finally arrived at the apparently lifeless world in 2285.

Captain Clark Terrell and Commander Pavel Chekov, the latter of whom himself was a former Enterprise crewmember, beamed down to survey the planet they assumed to be Ceti Alpha VI, where they were captured by Khan. After using a pair of juvenile Ceti eels on his captives, Khan demanded to know the nature of their mission and the whereabouts of James Kirk.

The beginning of vengeance[]

Using his captives' vulnerability to suggestion, Khan and his followers hijacked the Reliant. Khan marooned the crew of the Reliant on Ceti Alpha V. With knowledge of the awesome potential of the Genesis project, he used Chekov to notify spacelab Regula I of Reliant's pending arrival and their intention to retrieve all Genesis information, "as ordered by Admiral Kirk." Khan's lure proved successful. The Enterprise, engaged in a training cruise at the time, altered course to investigate the odd reports from Regula I.

Khan's lieutenant, Joachim, called out his superior on the beginnings of his obsessive behavior. Joachim suggested that he had already beaten Kirk by foiling Kirk's plans for him and the Augments. Khan's reply gave the first indication of the price that exile on Ceti Alpha V exacted on his ability to reason or – more accurately, to govern his overpowering passions:

"He tasks me! He tasks me, and I shall have him! I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares maelstrom and 'round Perdition's FLAMES before I give him up." – Khan, paraphrasing Ahab from Moby Dick, Or – The Whale.

Arriving at Regula I, Khan raged through the space station. He was seeking the now-missing Genesis data, and tortured those station crew members unable to escape the suspicious return of Reliant. When they proved uncooperative, Khan slaughtered them. He then left Terrell and Chekov behind, as they might prove a useful means to monitor Kirk's communications and follow his lead to Genesis, in the event that the Enterprise reached the station.

USS Reliant

USS Reliant

Khan intercepted the Enterprise, which was en route to Regula I. Concealing her intent, Reliant approached, feigning communications trouble, and mounting a devastating surprise attack using the Reliant's phasers to cripple the Enterprise. Khan hailed to gloat over his triumph and discuss terms of surrender. His only reward proved to be Kirk's initial open-mouthed stare of surprise.

The parley allowed the more experienced starship commander to override the Reliant's tactical systems using the ship's prefix code to access them. With a few weak phaser shots from the Enterprise, the Reliant lost photon control and warp power (which would also disable the phasers), forcing Khan to retreat to Regula I.

After the Enterprise limped to the space station, a landing party led by Kirk rescued Terrell and Chekov from the storage locker in which Khan had imprisoned them. After Kirk discovered the Genesis device in the bowels of the Regula planetoid, Terrell contacted Khan, who beamed the device to the Reliant. However, Terrell, fighting the effects of the Ceti Eel, refused Khan's order to kill Kirk and instead committed suicide. Resisting the influence of his own Ceti Eel, Chekov collapsed unconscious and the eel crawled out of his ear to be immediately vaporized by a quick blast from Kirk's phaser.

Despite the turn of events, Khan felt some small satisfaction, since Kirk and his party were now marooned within Regula, and the Reliant was on its way to find and destroy the Enterprise. Khan calmly, but hatefully, sneered at Kirk that he had done far worse than simply kill Kirk, and that he would redirect Kirk defeating him last time by leaving him in the same situation that Kirk had left Khan all those years ago;

"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 at the center of a dead planet. Buried alive… buried alive."

In an open communication with Kirk, Spock's simple coded message (beginning with the signal, "Hours would seem like days") led Khan to believe Enterprise would need two days to effect basic repairs, unaware that Spock was actually telling Kirk that those repairs would be complete in two hours. After discovering his prey under way at full impulse power and bound for the obscuring clouds of the Mutara Nebula, Khan's pursuit faltered on the advice of Joachim, who knew that pursuing the Enterprise into the nebula would disrupt shield and sensor functions for both vessels. A surprise hail from Kirk, alive and taunting from the Enterprise bridge, threw Khan into a rage, and his passions overcame him. Ignoring the consequences of engaging his enemy on the level playing field of the nebula, Khan spurred the Reliant after Kirk.

Khan spits his last breath

"For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee…"

The Battle of the Mutara Nebula was the last action of Khan's life. The two starships, barely able to discern one another due to interference within the nebula, exchanged a series of near misses and solid blows, until the Enterprise caught Khan off-guard by descending and then rising to attack the Reliant from behind. Reliant was crippled and adrift with Khan's followers either dying or dead. Rather than surrender, Khan activated the Genesis device, hoping to take Kirk and the Enterprise along with him to oblivion. Unfortunately for him, Captain Spock managed to repair the damage to the Enterprise's engines which allowed the starship to escape at warp seconds before the Genesis Device detonated, destroying the Reliant and Khan with it. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"No… no, you can't get away. From hell's heart, I stab at thee. For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee." - Khan's last words, from Captain Ahab in Herman Melville's Moby Dick


"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."

Khan had children who would continue his line after he left Earth. One of his descendants was Lt. La'an Noonien-Singh, chief of security of the USS Enterprise. (SNW: "Ghosts of Illyria")

The geneticist Arik Soong believed Augments like Khan could be created without exhibiting his more vicious, psychopathic or megalomaniacal instincts. Soong's "children", created from Augment embryos stolen in 2134, failed to live up to the hopes of their "father". Soong believed Khan and the Botany Bay to be nothing more than a myth, although his "children" believed differently.

After his imprisonment in 2154, Soong, convinced by his creation's actions that his theory was dangerously wrong, redirected his efforts to the perfection of artificial Humanity. His descendant, Noonien Soong (possibly, given Arik's admiration for him, named after Khan Noonien Singh) continued the effort with the invention of Soong-type androids, including B-4, Lore, and ultimately, Data. (ENT: "Borderland", "The Augments"; TNG: "Datalore"; Star Trek Nemesis)

Sera, a Romulan temporal agent from an unknown point in the future, told La'an that "Khan becomes a brutal tyrant. I mean, maybe Humanity needs the dark age that he brings in to usher in their age of enlightenment. Or maybe it's just random. Doesn't really matter though, 'cause if I kill him, the Federation never forms, and the Romulans lose their greatest adversary." (SNW: "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow")

Khan's theft and premature detonation of the Genesis Device alarmed the Klingon Empire who mistakenly believed the device was the result of the Federation's development of an "ultimate weapon", increasing tensions between the two powers until the détente of 2293. Immediately, though, a group of renegade Klingons led by Kruge tried to steal the "Genesis torpedo" for themselves, but were unsuccessful. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

In 2368, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise-D agreed with faux historian Berlinghoff Rasmussen that saving an endangered planet could allow "the next Adolf Hitler or Khan Singh" to come into being. According to the captain, first year philosophy students had been asked the question ever since the first wormholes had been discovered. (TNG: "A Matter Of Time")

Khan and his Augment brethren were considered so dangerous that by the late-24th century, genetic engineering was banned throughout the United Federation of Planets (except as treatment for serious medical conditions) in order to avoid creating another tyrant like Khan, although Doctor Kingsley and her colleagues continued genetic engineering research in the 24th century. A black market in the genetic manipulation of children with limited abilities continued, however, resulting in the enhancement of Humans like Dr. Julian Bashir. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection"; DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume")

In 2380, Ensign Beckett Mariner argued that Khan was "the all-time biggest badass" because he was "a genetically engineered supervillain! Dude was a space seed!" Ensign D'Vana Tendi was also eager to discuss what she called "Khan and that thicc, thicc chest," but needed to pee. (LD: "Veritas")

In 2259 of the alternate reality, the USS Enterprise of that reality came into conflict with the Khan of that world who had been found and revived by Admiral Alexander Marcus as part of the militarization conspiracy. The Spock of that universe, concerned about Khan, contacted his prime universe counterpart to ask if he had ever encountered Khan in his world. Spock Prime told his alternate self he'd vowed never to disclose anything of his world but was alarmed enough by Khan's presence to tell Spock that Khan was the most dangerous enemy ever faced by the Enterprise and her crew and it took a great cost to defeat him.

In the alternate reality, the alternate James T. Kirk died in similar circumstances to Spock Prime while attempting to save his own Enterprise from the alternate Khan. The Khan of the alternate reality was spared after Doctor Leonard McCoy discovered that his blood could be used to revive Kirk. The alternate Khan was ultimately placed back in stasis with his crew. (Star Trek Into Darkness)

Memorable quotes[]

"Where am I?"
"You're in …" (Khan squeezes McCoy's neck) "You're in bed, holding a knife at your doctor's throat."
"Answer my question."
"It would be most effective if you would cut the carotid artery just under the left ear."

- Khan and McCoy, in sickbay (TOS: "Space Seed")

"Khan is my name."
"Khan, nothing else?"

- Khan and Kirk (TOS: "Space Seed")

"Such men dare take what they want."

- Khan, before kissing McGivers (TOS: "Space Seed")

"Tyranny, sir? Or an attempt to unify Humanity?"
"Unify, sir? Like a team of animals under one whip?"

- Khan and Spock, on the reign of the dictators during the Eugenics Wars (TOS: "Space Seed")

"You have a tendency to express ideas in military terms, Mister Khan. This is a social occasion."
"It has been said that social occasions are only warfare concealed. Many prefer it more honest – more open."

- Kirk and Khan (TOS: "Space Seed")

"You fled. Why? Were you afraid?"
"I've never been afraid."
"But you left at the very time mankind needed courage."
"We offered the world order!"

- Kirk and Khan (TOS: "Space Seed")

"Go or stay, but do it because it is what you wish to do."

- Khan, to McGivers (TOS: "Space Seed")

"He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous."

- Kirk on Khan, during the Eugenics War (TOS: "Space Seed")

"It appears we will do well in your century, captain."

- Khan (TOS: "Space Seed")

"The trip is over. The battle begins again. Only this time it's not a world we win. It's a universe."

- Khan, greeting his revived followers (TOS: "Space Seed")

"Your air should be getting quite thin by now. Do you surrender the bridge?"
"Academic, captain. Refuse and every person on the bridge will suffocate."

- Khan and Kirk (TOS: "Space Seed")

"Nothing ever changes, except man. Your technical accomplishments? Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity but improve man and you gain a thousand fold. I am such a man."

- Khan, to his hostages (TOS: "Space Seed")

"My vessel was useless. I need you and yours to select a colony planet, one with a population willing to be led by us."
"To be conquered by you… a starship would make that most simple, wouldn't it?"

- Khan, on his intentions for the Enterprise and McCoy retorting (TOS: "Space Seed")

"Each of you in turn will go in there! Die while the others watch!"

- Khan, to his hostages (TOS: "Space Seed")

"It does not matter, the captain is dead. Take Mr. Spock next."

- Khan (TOS: "Space Seed")

"If I understood your manuals, that's an overload in progress. Your ship flares up like an exploding sun within MINUTES!"

- Khan, setting the Enterprise's engines to overload (TOS: "Space Seed")

"I have five times your strength. You're no match for me!"

- Khan, shortly before being incapacitated by Kirk (TOS: "Space Seed")

"I will take her. And I've gotten something else I wanted. A world to win, an empire to build."

- Khan's last words at the hearing (TOS: "Space Seed")

(to Captain Terrell) "I don't know you." (to Commander Chekov) "But you… I never forget a face, Mister…Chekov, isn't it? I never thought to see your face again."
"Chekov, who is this man?"
"A criminal, Captain! A product of late 20th century genetic engineering!"

- Khan, Terrell and Chekov (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"You lie! On Ceti Alpha V, there was life! A fair chance–"
"THIS IS CETI ALPHA V!!! Ceti Alpha VI exploded six months after we were left here. The shock shifted the orbit of this planet and everything was laid waste. Admiral Kirk never bothered to check on our progress. It was only the fact of my genetically engineered intellect that allowed us to survive. On Earth… two hundred years ago… I was a prince… with power over millions."
"Captain Kirk was your host. You repaid his hospitality by trying to steal his ship and murder him!"

- Chekov and Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I'll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares maelstrom and round perdition's flames before I give him up!"

- Khan quoting Moby Dick (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Ah, Kirk… my 'old friend'. Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold… in space."

- Khan, before attacking the Enterprise (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"All is well, sir. You have the coordinates to beam up Genesis."
"First things first, captain. Kill Admiral Kirk."

- Terrell and Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Khan, you bloodsucker! You're gonna have to do your own dirty work now! Do you hear me? DO YOU?!"
"Kirk! Kirk, you're still alive, my old friend."
"Still – 'old friend'! You've managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!"

- Kirk, taunting Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"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 and Kirk (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Impulse power restored."
"Excellent. More than a match for poor Enterprise."

- Joachim and Khan, discussing the repairs to the Reliant. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Full impulse power."
"No, sir! You have Genesis! You can have whatever you–!"
(grabs Joachim by the vest) "FULL POWER! Damn you!"

- Khan and Joachim, arguing over following Kirk into the nebula (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"No… no, you can't get away. From hell's heart, I stab at thee. For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."

- Khan's last words before the explosion of the Reliant kills him (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)



Background information[]

Khan was played by Ricardo Montalban, except in "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" where young Khan was played by Desmond Sivan.

In Carey Wilber's original draft of "Space Seed", the character that ultimately became Khan was of Scandinavian ethnicity and named Harold Erickson, and the backstory was slightly different in that he was placed in stasis aboard the Botany Bay as a means of getting rid of prisoners during an overpopulated era of Earth's history. Gene L. Coon's rewrites then transformed the character into Ragnar Thorwald, the genetically-enhanced leader of the "First World Tyranny", who hides behind the pseudonym John Erickson.

The casting of Ricardo Montalban as Khan prompted the writers to change the character's name to Sabahl Khan Noonien, after Kim Noonien Wang, a friend of Gene Roddenberry during the Second World War. Roddenberry had lost touch with him and hoped that his friend would see his name on television and contact him. (This was also the origin of the name of Noonien Soong.) NBC suggested changing the character's name to Govin Bahadur Singh, due to the racial implications of the name "Khan", but Roddenberry insisted on keeping Khan and Noonien. [1] [2]

In the final draft script of Space Seed, Khan's name was noted to be pronounced, "KAWN". He was described as "an extremely handsome, well-built man. His face reflects the sun-darkened Aryian blood of the Northern India Sikh people, suggesting just a trace of the Oriental blood often found too. The features are intelligent, extremely strong, almost arrogantly so."

The Space Seed script uses the spelling "Khan Noonien Singh", while the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan script uses the spelling "Khan Noonien Singh".

After the release of The Wrath of Khan, Roddenberry (who disliked almost all of the film's many aspects) commented, "Khan was not written as that exciting a character, he was rather flimsy. The Khan in the TV episode was a much deeper and better character than the movie Khan, except that Montalban pulled it off." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)

Khan's periodic quotations in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan were paraphrases, or direct lifts, from Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

Khan recognizes Pavel Chekov in The Wrath of Khan, even though Chekov's first appearance on TOS was not until the show's second season. To resolve this discrepancy, a long-standing joke (as told by Chekov actor Walter Koenig) postulates that, because Chekov left Khan waiting too long to use the bathroom, Khan vowed never to forget his face. (citation needededit)

In "Space Seed", Khan is one of four Enterprise guests to be given a Starfleet uniform to wear during the course of TOS. (The others were Captain John Christopher in "Tomorrow is Yesterday", Charles Evans in "Charlie X", and Craig Hundley (a child's version) in a scene that was cut from "Operation -- Annihilate!"). In accordance with Khan's assertion that he was once "an engineer, of sorts," his uniform shirt is red.

Khan costume sketch

A concept sketch of Khan's Star Trek II costume

The Starfleet insignia around Khan's neck in Wrath of Khan is a broken, movie-era Starfleet uniform buckle, although the necklace appears on Khan before he actually gets aboard the Reliant. It is known as the "Buckle Necklace", according to Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.

The surname "Singh" suggests northern Indian ancestry (from the Sanskrit simha, "lion") and possibly roots in Sikhism (male Sikhs are obliged to assume the surname "Singh", regardless of their geographical or familial origins); while "Khan" ("ruler") is originally a title of central Asian origin and also a common name for Muslim men in South Asia.

Along with Harry Mudd, Khan is one of only two opponents to face Kirk more than once in live-action Star Trek productions.

At one point during the production of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "a couple of years" before 1997, a cameo appearance of Khan was considered. However, the writers were told that Ricardo Montalban's health would not permit him to appear, and any plans to feature Khan were abandoned. (AOL chat, 1997)

Khan was again considered for return, teaming up with a collection of antagonists that also would have included Shinzon, in an ultimately never-produced fifth and final TNG film, which was conceived, during production on Star Trek Nemesis, by Nemesis co-writers John Logan and Brent Spiner. Khan and his villainous cohorts would have faced a heroic team-up involving Picard, Data, Kirk, Spock and Archer. [3]

Assessing the portrayal of Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Nemesis Director Stuart Baird remarked, "Montalban played a pretty good bad guy." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 142, p. 35)

The portrayal of Khan in The Wrath of Khan also immediately appealed to Alex Kurtzman. He later remarked about Khan, "Not only is he scary, but he has an extremely personal and specific agenda that was understandable despite being psychotic. I think anyone who loves Trek would immediately vault Khan to the top of the villain list." [4]

When asked about the prime Khan being mentioned in Star Trek Into Darkness, Damon Lindelof said, "It would have been hubris for us to represent to the uninitiated that Khan was our idea and there was no one better [than Spock] to pop in briefly and say – 'Hey, these guys are just doing their own spin on a bad guy that was around a long time before they came along.' The minute we stop honoring, acknowledging and representing the original Trek, we are bound to lose sight of the enormous gift we have been given in sustaining it." [5]

While filming that scene, Leonard Nimoy responded to Spock's line, inquiring how the prime reality Enterprise crew originally defeated Khan, by quipping, "We picked up a hammer…", referencing how Kirk originally beat Khan into submission. ("Mr. Spock and Mr. Spock" featurette, Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray)

Nicholas Meyer wrote a script for a new, currently unproduced podcast Star Trek: Khan: Ceti Alpha V.


A trilogy by author Greg Cox describes the other events of Khan's life. The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume One chronicles the genetic enhancement project that led to his birth, and shows some of his early childhood from the point of view of agents Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln in the 1970s. The sequel, The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume Two shows his rise to power and capturing Seven's technology, as well as how he was able to secretly control so much of the world without the average citizen ever knowing. The final part of the trilogy is To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh, which explains his life on Ceti Alpha V after being left there to fend for himself, his followers, and his wife, to the point where Chekov and Captain Terrell encounter him years later.

James Swallow wrote an alternate history novella entitled "Seeds of Dissent" for the Myriad Universes: Infinity's Prism anthology. In it, Khan won the Eugenics Wars and went on to establish an interstellar empire, eventually dying at the age of 213. The Botany Bay is then said to have been launched in 2010 by Wilson Evergreen and carrying Shaun Geoffrey Christopher, Shannon O'Donnel, and Rain Robinson to escape Khan's despotism.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Dark Mirror, it is also mentioned that the mirror universe Khan won the Eugenics Wars instead of being forced to leave the planet. In the Star Trek: Mirror Universe novel The Sorrows of Empire, the mirror universe counterpart of Colonel West mentions Ranjit Singh as a descendant of counterpart (β) and a potential prospect to replace Spock as Emperor of the Terran Empire, implying that Khan or someone of his bloodline ruled the Empire in the past.

Khan is the protagonist of the comic book Star Trek: Khan - Ruling in Hell, covering the same timeframe as To Reign in Hell.

The comic book series Star Trek: Khan portrays the Khan of the alternate reality following the events of Star Trek Into Darkness describing the history of the 20th century that lead him to his rise to power and the Eugenics Wars before ultimately escaping Earth aboard the Botany Bay.

In Star Trek Online, one of the Federation players' earliest foes is a descendant of Khan, Dr. Amar Singh, a scientist who leads a group known as the "Children of Khan" and conducts experiments in Augment enhancement for the Klingon Empire, combining Klingon, Gorn, and Augment genetics to create the ultimate superbeing. He is defeated and captured by Federation players, later appearing at the prison colony known as Facility 4028, where the Female Changeling is held.

Khan is portrayed as a cat in Jenny Parks' book Star Trek Cats.

External links[]

This is a featured article. At the time it was featured (October 2006), it was considered one of the best examples of the Memory Alpha community's work. This article was featured more than five years ago though, and its status should be reviewed. You can use the links below to see how the article has changed since it was last featured.
Featured revision (439106)Diff to currentBlurb