In Star Trek Into Darkness,

McCoy learned that he could revive Kirk by using Khan's blood. So, he needed Khan alive.

My Question is:

Why didn't McCoy use the blood of one of Khan's crew when time was running low and it was a possibility that Spock would fail to capture Khan?

  • 8
    The better question would be "Why did they need him alive?" Since his blood brings people back from the dead, wouldn't it be easier to kill him, and take his blood while he's "regenerating"? Or why not extract his blood after he's dead (and stays dead)? Blood is blood. Jun 4, 2013 at 15:05
  • 1
    @Andrew Blood contains living cells too. Its not like dead liquid which doesn't require life functions to survive. See gira.cadouarn.pagesperso-orange.fr/english/medicine/…
    – user931
    Jun 4, 2013 at 17:35
  • 3
    @SachinShekhar: So why can't you shoot him and then extract his blood right away? Do you posit something instantly happens to all his blood cells when he "dies"? Death is a process, not an instantaneous binary state. Jul 16, 2013 at 16:30

7 Answers 7


I can think of two things:

  • First, they weren't sure how to revive the cryogenically frozen crew (this was stated, even though they were sure on how to yank one out, as well as freeze and later de-freeze Kirk)

  • Second, there was no proof that the regeneration trait was shared by all the rest of the crew.

  • Probably true, but the day that McCoy can't defrost someone frozen with 300 year old technology is the day...
    – uncle brad
    Jun 4, 2013 at 12:11
  • 1
    @unclebrad He said he couldn't. Same as Scotty, they always can't do it, yet they always manage to. But still, it can be argued that using Khan's blood was a safer bet. And I could even say there were 71 potential failed attempts at reviving an augment successfully, but McCoy isn't that cruel.
    – MPelletier
    Jun 4, 2013 at 13:43

One added thought as I was just watching the movie; McCoy talks about a transfusion. So he needs more than just a hypo of blood to save Kirk. I'm thinking the TOS episode "Babylon" where Spock was used as a transfusion for his father Sarak. In that type of situation you would need Khan to be alive, but you could most probably use one of the others as well.

  • This doesn’t quite answer the question.
    – Obsidia
    Mar 7, 2018 at 0:23

As I understand it, if you want the blood to remain viable you have to get it on ice immediately or it starts to congeal. The timeframe is short. I don't know how short but you can look it up. If the heart stops beating there is the problem of getting the blood out, which is much easier when you have the heart pumping it into the area you are extracting it from.

There is also the problem of no oxygen and a build up of CO2 and toxins that are not being removed through the natural processes. The chances of success are much higher if he's alive.

On the other 72 superhumans, there was no guarantee any of them had the regenerative properties of Khan.

Thawing them out must be a lengthy process. I'm sure if Khan had died and Bones wasn't able to get to him soon enough to extract use-able blood, he would have then turned to the others, but why risk it?


One other possibility is this: Let's just say Dr McCoy could wake one of Khan's crew without killing them, he would be taking a huge risk of now having two of these super beings alive and able to wreak havoc on anyone around them. With two of them awake the possibilities are endless. There would be no way to predict what capabilities they would have working in tandom. The safe thing to do was to get Khan back to the ship to draw his blood. The benefit of this is two fold. 1. You are sure the blood will work and 2. They could get Khan back into his cryotube, which is more or less what happened.


Yea, but if he had a crew member he wouldn't need Kahn alive. If they were genetically essentially the same, they might not have the leadership skills of Kahn but physically they were probably all a good source of blood. And you could set it up to keep them sedated in time to cryogenically seal them back up, at least giving them the same chance they gave Kirk as it would only be logical not to have any of them f possible.

  • This doesn't really answer the question though.
    – Monty129
    Feb 22, 2014 at 3:07

I would imagine that a cryonically frozen person would require, as others have said, a lengthy revival process. Blood removed from someone still in the process of revival may contain certain properties that could prevent a successful transfusion. Khan was the only superman who was completely alive, and whose blood had been tested properly (well, not properly, but as close as they were going to get). I think the other people's blood would have been good enough, but not in such a short time frame.

  • Good speculation, but that's not really what we're looking for here. Also, you'll note that the question already has an accepted answer! May 27, 2014 at 6:50

It's simply a plot device that they needed Kahn alive... it was a way to make it so Spock doesn't cross that line and possibly bring Kahn back if they decided to. Tho I don't think they plan to make more than three Stare Trek movies so I guess that is mute. There was no reason why McCoy couldnt Use Kahn's crew. They stated they can't revive them without the proper sequence but that probably had to do with brain activity, meaning they can "dethaw" the crew and keep the bodies alive through artificial means. When Mccoy realizes Kahn'so blood could save Kirk... he orders to put Kirk in a cryopod to preserve Kirk's brain function and tells the nurse to keep the removed occupant in a coma... which is a way to preserve brain function... meaning the body is alive.

  • I think the question was looking for an in-universe answer ...
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 5, 2016 at 1:01

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