In the Star Trek episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" Kirk finds out that Dr. Korby wants to perfect humanity by replacing humans with androids. The two have the following exchange:

KORBY: What you saw was only a machine, only half of what I could've accomplished. Do you understand? By continuing the process I could've transferred you – your very consciousness – into that android. Your soul, if you wish. All of you. In android form, a human being can have practical immortality. Can you understand what I'm offering mankind?

KIRK: Programming. Different word, but the same old promises made by Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Hitler, Ferris, Maltuvis.

Why didn't Kirk mention Khan as part of this list? I'd assume that one of the most prominent figures of the Eugenics Wars – and one having been prominent more recently than the three non-fictional characters in the list – would be a prime example for Kirk, especially given how strongly characters associated with the Federation throughout the franchise react to ideas related to improving humanity through scientific augmentation – because of the Eugenics Wars.

Clearly, the character of Khan had not yet been invented by the time this episode was written, but I'm wondering if there's any in-universe explanation for this omission.

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    Interestingly, when Kirk first encounters Khan he doesn't react with visceral hatred; "KIRK: He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous." - More like grudging respect...
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 0:22
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    For the same reason that Picard didn't mention the Xindi attack in the same breath as "Pearl Harbor and Station Salem One". Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 1:30
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    Ferris? Clearly, Ferris Bueller was quite a busy boy after his day off. Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 23:44

3 Answers 3


Kirk didn't know who Khan was until he met him,

...which occurred after the events of "TOS: What are Little Girls Made Of?" - Kirk had only a vague understanding of the events of the late 90's Eugenics Wars, none of the specifics relating to Khan. Kirk did not recognize Khan on sight, nor his name.

From the transcript of the episode "Space Seed":

KIRK: This Khan is not what I expected of a twentieth century man.

SPOCK: I note he's making considerable use of our technical library.

KIRK: Common courtesy, Mister Spock. He'll spend the rest of his days in our time. It's only decent to help him catch up. Would you estimate him to be a product of selective breeding?

SPOCK: There is that possibility, Captain. His age would be correct. In 1993, a group of these young supermen did seize power simultaneously in over forty nations.

KIRK: Well, they were hardly supermen. They were aggressive, arrogant. They began to battle among themselves.

SPOCK: Because the scientists overlooked one fact. Superior ability breeds superior ambition.

KIRK: Interesting, if true. They created a group of Alexanders, Napoleons.

SPOCK: I have collected some names and made some counts. By my estimate, there were some eighty or ninety of these young supermen unaccounted for when they were finally defeated.

KIRK: That fact isn't in the history texts.

Later, after Spock reviews the historical files, Kirk and the officers have a discussion about the history of Khan, seemingly after reading up on him, in which the officers seem to have some manner of understanding of the history, but clearly neither Kirk nor knew enough of Khan to recognize him on sight, which would seem to imply that Khan wasn't well known enough (or on the top of his mind) to categorize at the time w/ those other dictators)

  • Well, when they made the movie of Khan's life he was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch so that's what they visualized him as looking like. Seriously, it has been said that records of the time were fragmentary. And if you want to factor in Greg Cox's books (and I really want to), Khan ruled mostly from "behind the scenes". Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 20:06

Khan was no Kodos

In 2246 — twenty years before the events of TOS season one — thirteen-year-old James Kirk was on Tarsus IV when Governor Kodos ordered the deaths of four thousand people (half the population of the colony):

"The revolution is successful. But survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well-being of society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the colony. Therefore, I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered, signed Kodos, Governor of Tarsus IV."

Kodos, "The Conscience of the King" (TOS 1x12; 13th in order of production)

This childhood experience with the genocide of Tarsus IV's so-called less worthy population — and the resulting survivors' guilt — must have set the standard (in terms of deaths caused) for how the adult Kirk would evaluate tyrants.

Khan, compared to Kodos, apparently didn't cause that sort of harm on that scale:

"There were no massacres under [Khan's] rule."

— Scotty, "Space Seed" (TOS 1x24; 25th in order of production) ; quote from chakoteya.net transcript

"What Are Little Girls Made Of?" (TOS 1x09; 10th in order of production) may have been produced with Kirk's "The Conscience of the King" experience in mind; the two episodes were in development around the same time, much earlier than "Space Seed".

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    why didn't he mention Kodos then either? ;)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 3:45
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    @NKCampbell - He probably wouldn't want to talk about that due to survivor's guilt and PTSD, I'd expect.
    – Gaultheria
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 3:54
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    lol - well played!
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 4:32
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    I'm sure that I'm not the only one who first read the intro as "Kang was no Kodos".
    – Spencer
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 10:58
  • Kodos wasn't trying to create perfect humans, he was simply deciding who would live/die during a famine.
    – Arluin
    Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 21:04

Korby made his mistake when he asked Kirk instead of just plopping them on the carosale & fabricating them. Also, I can't imagine a mid-23rd century space-colony being so far out that Kodos couldn't wait for supplies. Or at least place the "unproductive members" under cryogenic-freeze.

  • 2
    That doesn't answer the question. Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 6:50

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