At the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as the Enterprise escapes the nebula, leaving the dying Reliant behind, we see Khan engaging the memory banks of the Genesis device.

Later we see Spock's coffin torpedo ends up on the newly formed Genesis planet and as part of the result of the Genesis effect, clearly gets resurrected.

Wouldn't Khan have been resurrected too? Although, yes, the Reliant was destroyed by the Genesis wave explosion, shouldn't he (and his crew??) have been resurrected as a by-product of the Genesis effect as well?

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    Khan's body would have been obliterated, blasted into billions of tiny little pieces, and altogether vaporized in the explosion, as opposed to Spock, whose carcass was torpedoed to the burgeoning Genesis planet? Remember, the wave destroys life, "in favour of its new matrix.". Khan and his crew were caught up in the destructive, life-killing part of the wave.. Spock's body was part of the 'new matrix"
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 16:04
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    Maybe he did, in the centre of the planet. Being confined, for his pride and rebellion, in something geometrically resembling the Ninth Circle of Hell seems appropriate for someone who quotes Milton.
    – Gaultheria
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:11
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    @Gaultheria Maybe Kruge was swallowed up by Khan, who had become a lava-spewing Balrog like being at the core of the Genesis planet.
    – Deepak
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 16:38

6 Answers 6


As observed in this dialogue from the movie:

McCoy: Dear Lord. You think we're intelligent enough to... suppose... what if this thing were used where life already exists?

Spock: It would destroy such life in favor of its new matrix.

Khan and his gang were literally at ground zero supplying the detonating Genesis Device with raw material. Spock came in much later, comparatively, to be exposed to a slow "simmer" of the cooling Genesis Effect.

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    it might have khan dna in the future of the creation of that planet tho.... Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 19:44
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    It also may be connected to the instability of using protomatter, which seems to have made things work as intended.
    – trlkly
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 23:00

The Genesis Device detonation didn't resurrect anybody.

Spock was very definitely dead when he was put into the torpedo. His death in the engine room was caused by his efforts to make sure the Enterprise escaped the Genesis Wave. His funeral and "burial at sea" was after the sun and planet had formed.

From The Wrath of Khan (emphasis added):

KIRK: We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honoured dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world, a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel that sacrifice a vain or empty one... and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this. Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, ...his was the most ...human.

It's uncertain if the Enterprise was was aiming to put it in orbit of the planet, have it incinerate in the atmosphere, or launch it into the star. The survey crew from the Grissom was clearly surprised to find it intact on the surface.

From The Search for Spock:

SAAVIK: Metallic mass.

DAVID: Close-range scan. ...A photon tube! ...Gravitational fields were in flux. ...It must have soft-landed!

ESTEBAN: In code to Starfleet. 'Captain's Spock's tube located on Genesis surface.'

In short, Spock is the only person to be restored in any way by the Genesis Device. Spock had no interaction with the detonation itself, only the after-effects of the formed matrix. Spock's interactions have nothing in common with Khan's interactions with the wave (being at ground zero). There's no reason to believe entirely different interactions should have remotely similar results.

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    If the Genesis Device detonation didn't resurrect anybody, then what resurrected Spock? Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 20:06
  • @JesseC.Slicer That's beyond the scope of this question. It'd make a good separate question.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 20:07
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    @T.J.L.then perhaps it might be germane to constrain the big bold part of the answer to "The Genesis Device detonation didn't resurrect Khan" since that's what the question asked. Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 20:22
  • @JesseC.Slicer The only other person resurrected was Spock. The body of the text serves to point towards how he was resurrected, as evidence that Kahn didn't experience the same conditions.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 20:29
  • As I recall, possibly from a novelization of the movie, Spock was reborn and aged rapidly to adulthood (like the plants and trees on the planet). I'm searching for evidence...
    – Arluin
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 22:15

The out-of-universe reason is that Ricardo Montalban was offered the chance to reprise his role (including in a guest appearance in TNG that would have been revealed as a holodeck episode), and turned it down. According to an article from Starlog magazine in 1992, Montalban believed that bringing Khan back would cheapen his death.

Due to worsening injuries from a riding accident in 1951, he could only walk with great difficulty (as you can see at 0:13 of this ad from 1983) and, by the mid-1990s, was confined to a wheelchair.

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    Do you have a source for that?
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 1:55
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    I originally read it in a magazine article years ago by someone who wrote the episode and was told it that was the reason it was rejected. The plotline reminded me of “Ship in a Bottle,” but I could not tell you which came first and whether both writers came up with a similar concept independently.
    – Davislor
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 2:03
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    @Joe The article appeared in Starlog in 1992. “Ship in a Bottle” was apparently unrelated to that pitch.
    – Davislor
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 2:37

Unless Khan transferred his katra beforehand to a survivor, as Spock did (and then had it restored to him), it seems irrelevant. If a new lifeform based on Khan's DNA arose from Genesis, it would be empty, and not really Khan and there's no reason to believe it would grow into Khan.


Spock was not resurrected. A new life form based on his DNA was generated. The lifeforms on the Genesis planet grew at an accelerated rate.

From transcript:

DAVID: There are your lifeforms. These were microbes on the tube's surface. We shot them here from Enterprise. ...They were fruitful, and multiplied.

SAAVIK: But how could they have evolved so quickly?

DAVID: Saavik. ...What is it?

SAAVIK: Spock's burial robe. (there is an earth tremor and a piercing cry)

[Genesis planet surface - arctic]

(Saavik and David find a young Vulcan)

SAAVIK: (in Vulcan) I am Saavik. ...Can you speak?

DAVID The Genesis Wave. His cells could have been regenerated.

[Genesis planet surface - arctic]

SAAVIK: We have found the life sign. It is a Vulcan child, perhaps eight to ten Earth years of age.

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    I don't see that the transcript supports your claim. Commented Mar 31, 2019 at 12:52
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit: you're right. I got so involved in arguing that Spock wasn't resurrected that I forgot that wasn't the question.
    – Arluin
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 18:27

Perhaps he was. We don't know. We do know that the imediate effect was an explosion large enough to provide for a "cool ships warp away from explosions" moment, centred on the position of the Reliant.

The subsequent effect was to coalesce the mutara nebula into a star and at least one rocky planetoid. It's not at all clear how the positions of those celestial bodies relate to the position of the Reliant at detonation. It seems like a reasonable guess that the star forms at the centre of mass of the nebula, and we know the planet is habitable so it has to form in the star's "goldilocks" zone. Exactly where that is will depend on how much mass is available in the nebula, all of which is spectacularly unlikely to put it anywhere near Reliant.

So a hypothetical resurected Khan is now a baby, without a space suit, floating randomly in space in the vague vacinity of a newly formed planet.

It's going to take more than a genetically engineered intelect to survive that one, resurected Khan dies again almost instantly.

  • This seems like mostly speculation about some situation that you have no evidence of after your main answer of "we don't know". It might be better to instead focus this on the "we don't know" aspect and back it up with evidence for why we don't know.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 12:07
  • valid criticism, thanks, I might have a bash at that later. I just found the "what if Kahn was resurected" line of reasoning to be an interesting thought experiment. Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 12:26
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    @TheLethalCarrot I think "we don't know" is perfectly valid in this case. It would be perfectly reasonable for a later series to do precisely that : resurrect him as a result of the "genesis effect". As it stands it's an open question whether Khan's character would ever be resurrected in this way and there is no evidence to contradict this as possible. Asking for evidence to prove we don't know is absurd - the reason we don't know is because there's a lack of evidence to the contrary. There's no evidence possible to quote. Commented Mar 29, 2019 at 16:11

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