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 before taking his revenge on James Kirk.
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!
~ Khan's famous speech to Kirk.

Khan Noonien Singh is the secondary antagonist of the Star Trek franchise.

He served as the main antagonist in The Original Series episode, Space Seed and as the eponymous main antagonist of the 1982 feature film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

He is James T. Kirk's arch-nemesis and a traitorous, merciless, and powerful superhuman being who derives enjoyment from destroying everything.

He was portrayed by the late Ricardo Montalbán, who also portrayed Vincent Ludwig in The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad!, and Señor Senior, Senior in Kim Possible.


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


Khan with Kirk.

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

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.

Six months 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 (presumably) McGivers. This enraged Khan, who blamed Kirk for her death.

Loss of his people, Vengeance against Kirk, and Death


Khan in Star Trek II.

No, can't get away. To the last...I will grapple with thee. From Hell's heart, I stab at thee....For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee....
~ Khan Noonien Singh, quoting Moby Dick, before he died from the extensive injuries, which after he blew up with the USS Reliant after he unleashed the power of the Genesis Device.

Fourteen years and six months after the desertification, 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's 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 Rear 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.


New Policy on Genetic Engineering

After Khan's death, his actions left a lasting impression on how genetic engineering in the Federation is conducted. On Earth (and later in the United Federation of Planets, as whole), genetic engineering for any reason other than correcting serious birth defect was illegal. Any genetically enhanced person was barred from serving in Starfleet or practicing medicine.

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. However, his career was saved, when father Richard confessed to having the enhancements done in exchange for his son being able to stay in Starfleet. Richard was sentenced to two years a Federation penal colony in New Zealand. Julian suggested to Rear Admiral Bennett the sentence was harsh, but the admiral disagreed, elaborating in the following quote:

200 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.

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?

Powers 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: Like all Augments, Khan has superhuman 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: Like all Augments, Khan has increased durability. He could withstand immense amounts of damage with complete ease, shown during his fight with Kirk.
  • Enhanced regeneration: Like all Augments, Khan was engineered with enhanced blood platelets which carried a superior healing factor than humans.
  • Genius-level 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 learned in space combat and strategy, shown throughout The Wrath of Khan.
    • Expert combatant: Khan's augmentations, 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.


  • "Singh" is a male Sikh surname meaning "lion".
  • He is considered the most popular villain of the franchise, as he went from the generic "villain of the week" to one of most highly regarded villains of the franchise.
  • Khan was selected to be the second Star Trek film's villain as the director, Nicholas Meyer, felt the original film lacked a decent villain.
  • Kirk and Khan never share a physical interaction in The Wrath of Khan, only talking to each other through the teleprompter and communicators, as William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban never interacted on the set, due to Montalban's schedule with filming Fantasy Island.
  • Khan is often considered to be the chief villain of Star Trek. However, the Klingons are the true villains due to appearing in more episodes and films, especially the final movie with the original cast, The Undiscovered Country.
    • Despite this, Khan is the most prominent individual antagonist and, unlike the Klingons, never redeems himself.


           Star Trek Logo Villains

Star Trek: The Motion Picture: V'Ger
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Augments (Khan & Joachim)
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Klingons (Kruge, Torg, Maltz) | Valkris
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: Whale Probe | Kamarag
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: The One | Klingons (Klaa & Vixis) | Sybok
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Khitomer Conspiracy (General Chang, Nanclus, Valeris, Admiral Cartwright, Patrick West, Harlan Burke, Thomas Samno)
Star Trek Generations: Tolian Soran | Klingons (Lursa & B'Etor)
Star Trek: First Contact: The Borg (Borg Queen)
Star Trek: Insurrection: Son'a (Ahdar Ru'afo & Gallatin) | Matthew Dougherty
Star Trek: Nemesis: Remans (Shinzon, Viceroy, Tal'aura, Suran & Donatra)
Star Trek (2009): Romulans (Nero & Ayel)
Star Trek Into Darkness: Khan | Alexander Marcus
Star Trek Beyond: Krall | Manas | Kalara

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