Khan was created for the original series Star Trek episode "Space Seed", and was named in honor of Gene Roddenberry's friend from World War II, Kim Noonien Singh. Roddenberry hoped his friend would hear his name on television and contact him, but never heard from Mr. Singh.
Records of the period, including Khan's origins, are fragmentary and therefore vague. He was the product of a selective-breeding and genetic-engineering scientific program, based on the eugenics 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 "engineered" from a variety of Earth's ethnic groups. Khan's background was suspected to be Sikh, from the northern region of India.
The Eugenics Wars
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 the regions of Asia and the Middle East. Considered "the best of tyrants", he severely curtailed the freedoms of his subjects, but his reign was an exception to similar circumstances in Earth history – lacking internal massacres or wars of aggression. In the mid 1990s, the Augment tyrants began warring amongst themselves. Other nations combined their efforts 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 as many as ninety "supermen" were never accounted for.
Khan escaped the wars and their consequences along with 84 followers (including Joachim, Joaquin, Kati, Ling, McPherson, Otto, and Rodriguez) 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 the SS Botany Bay, named for the site of the Australian penal colony. Set on a course outbound from Earth's 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.
They were discovered in the Mutara sector in 2267 by the U.S.S. Enterprise, captained by James Kirk. Kirk and an away team including historian Marla McGivers went aboard the Botany Bay and revived Khan, unaware of his involvement in the Eugenics Wars. Khan studied ship records, quickly bringing himself up to speed on 271 years worth of technological innovation. He then revived his own people and captured the crew of the Enterprise. The crew regained control of the ship and Kirk left Khan to rule on the abandoned planet Ceti Alpha V with 71 followers and McGivers, who became his beloved wife.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
But the new colony was on Ceti Alpha V for only a few months when Ceti Alpha VI exploded, shifting the orbit of Ceti Alpha V and killing many of Khan's people. With the loss of most life on the planet, except the Ceti eels, Khan's indomitable will reemerged. The eels took 20 of his followers, including his beloved wife. Fourteen years later, the U.S.S. Reliant went down to what they thought was Ceti Alpha VI, only to find out that due to the planet's shift they were really on Ceti Alpha V.
Khan and his people quickly captured Captain Clark Terrell and First Officer Pavel Chekov. The eels were dropped into their ears, affecting the cerebral cortex to allow them to become obedient to suggestion by Khan. He used them to capture the Reliant and strand its crew on the planet, returning to his merciless beginnings as leader. Kirk, now an Admiral, was left with a skeleton crew of trainees to investigate. Khan had the Reliant feign communications problems, allowing him to approach and fire on the un-shielded Enterprise. Khan gave Kirk five minutes to inform his crew that they must unconditionally surrender. Kirk used the Reliant's prefix code to override their shields and fire back. Khan now had to flee, his ship limping away as Kirk beamed to the center of the Genesis planet. Khan's suggestion triggered Captain Terrell and Commander Chekov to transport the Genesis device up to Khan's ship.
Once Terrell was ordered to kill Kirk and refused, vaporizing himself with his own phaser to avoid murdering a fellow officer, Khan decided to maroon Kirk on the planet, leaving him with these words:
"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!"
But following another ruse, Kirk and the rest of his party were beamed back up to the ship and fled toward the Mutara Nebula. Kirk taunted him, and Khan once again let his anger get the better of him in his quest for revenge. He pursued Kirk into the Nebula, losing track only to be overtaken and fired on. The ship nearly destroyed, a dying Khan activated the Genesis Device. He perished in an explosion of creative force that failed to reach the escaping Enterprise, delivering his last words, from Melville's Moby Dick as he did so:
"From Hell's heart, I stab at thee... for hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee..."
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 became extremely adaptivity in space combat and strategy, shown widely throughout The Wrath of Khan.
- Expert combatant: Khan's strength, intelligence and strategic abilities make him an expert 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.
Star Trek Into Darkness
"You think your world is safe? It is an illusion, a comforting lie told to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace, for I have returned, to have my vengeance."
In the alternate timeline, Khan's origin remains the same, but he instead of being revived by Captain Kirk he is revived Admiral Alexander Marcus of the Federation to construct weapons and warships for an upcoming war with the Klingon Empire. To prevent any suspicion, Khan was given the alias of "John Harrison". Khan would rebel against Starfleet by conducting acts of terrorism, one of which included the murder of Admiral Christopher Pike. The Enterprise crew captures him on Kronos, and he reveals the truth about his motives to them, his past and Marcus' plan to wipe out his people. Khan assists Captain Kirk in an attempt to arrest Marcus, but betrays Kirk, kills Marcus, and capture the massive battleship, the USS Vengeance. Khan attempts to destroy the Enterprise, only to be tricked by Spock. He then attempts at another escape by sending the Vengeance into Starfleet's base and San Francisco.
Khan is eventually defeated in combat by Spock, who uses his blood and regenerative DNA to revive the deceased Kirk. He is then put back into cryogenic sleep along with his cohorts.
Skills and Abilities
- Superhuman strength
- Muscular capacity augmented beyond human extremes
- Can punch through walls
- Capable of cracking open a human skull with his bare hands
- Superhuman durability and endurance
- Skin is abnormally tough and resistant to bladed weaponry and explosions
- Completely immune to phaser blasts and lasers
- Can jump from vast heights
- Superhuman intelligence and calculation
- Possesses an IQ of well over 300, approximately
- Capable of absorbing and calculating enormous amounts of information instantaneously
- Capable of thinking three-dimensionally
- Logical to an extreme
- Possesses an extremely eidetic memory
- His eyes can process environments with extreme precision
- Superhuman senses and bodily functions
- Can survive abnormally long periods without fresh oxygen
- Blood cells possess extraordinary regenerative abilities
- Speed of heart rate and lactic acid production means can engage intense physical activity for days on end
- Nervous system and procession of thought means his reflexes are incredibly fast and precise
- Genius-level intellect
- Expert at hand to hand combat
- Has matched and very nearly defeated Spock in close-quarters combat
- Expert marksman
- Capable of wiping out an entire Klingon battalion single-handedly, and killing them all without sustaining a single blow
- Master of aerial warfare and piloting spacecraft
- Can pilot a ship larger and infinitely more complex than the USS Enterprise single-handedly
- Master strategist
- Master of manipulation
- Expert on orbital skydiving
- Extreme arrogance - superiority complex
- Will do anything to preserve the lives of his people
- Psychopathic personality means that his sanity has very narrow limits
- Susceptible to surprise attacks in combat
- Can be fooled by a person of extreme intelligence that matches or exceeds his own
Weaponry and Equipment
- Portable transwarp beaming device (Ship only)
- USS Vengeance
- Three man cannon (Can carry and wield effortlessly in one hand)
- Phaser pistols
- Phaser rifles
- Combat knife
- Portable life-support equipment