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I recently watched Star Trek season 1 episode 22, Space Seed, which is the first appearance of Khan Noonien Singh.

I didn't see Chekov anywhere in that episode, and I was waiting for him to show up and have some interaction with Khan. You can see from the clip of Wrath of Khan below that Khan and Chekov clearly recognize each other immediately when they meet on Ceti Alpha VI:

I did some Googling and found out Chekov joined the crew just in time for the events of Space Seed, so he was definitely on the ship somewhere:

Chekov's first assignment, at the age of 22, was on the USS Enterprise under command of Captain James T. Kirk. He joined the crew sometime prior to the spring of 2267. (TOS: "Catspaw", "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "Space Seed", "I, Mudd"; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Is it ever explained anywhere how they recognize each other?

Did they just meet off camera somewhere or in some deleted scene perhaps?

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9 Answers 9

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He never met him in the TOS tv series. Walter Koenig did not join the cast until the second season of TOS. So, as far as the cinematic/tv universe, it is a big, gaping plot hole.

In the expanded universe, we find out in the books that Chekov was an officer for the night watch aboard the Enterprise at the time of the Space Seed episode, having joined at some point between I, Mudd and Space Seed in the timeline, as you noted above. As such, he would be familiar with the events and probably met Khan and his crew "off camera", as far as the tv series goes.

In the books, we find out that during the time that Khan was on board, Chekov led a group of officers in resistance against him. This is referenced in the novelization for the Star Trek II movie, as well as in one or two other novels.

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    Also of interest: youtube.com/watch?v=APVUlNe2nPk and youtube.com/watch?v=bH1GPf9viPI
    – jamesdlin
    May 10, 2015 at 20:59
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    It's not really a "big, gaping plot hole." The evidence that Chekov was on board the Enterprise at the time of Space Seed and the fact of Khan's genetically enhanced memory make up a perfectly reasonable explanation for their recognition of each other. May 13, 2015 at 13:30
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    That depends on how picky you are on Star Trek canon. Officially, Star Trek books are, for the most part, not official canon and therefore nothing that happens in them officially ever happened. There is nothing on-screen that can account for this discrepancy. It's only if you include the expanded universe (books, comics, etc) that this is explained.
    – BBlake
    May 13, 2015 at 19:53
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    @BBlake There is also nothing on screen that clearly shows he was not on the Enterprise during that time. Khan's dialog in ST2 reveals that he was there, and there is nothing on screen that contradicts it. May 18, 2015 at 22:38
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    @BBlake The word "discrepancy" refers to when one source says one thing, and another saying something that contradicts it. If STII says they knew each other, and the series is silent on whether they knew each other, that's not a discrepancy. Jan 1, 2020 at 4:06
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I read an interview with Walter Koenig many years ago and he talked about this. No he wasn't on the show in the first season when Space Seed was made. What happened was at the time Star Trek II was being filmed he felt that he did not have enough lines in the movie. So even though he knew that Chekov never met Khan before, he decided to just go along with it fearing he would be written out of the scene and have even less screen time if he had told them.

I found this reference:

"Though Khan recognizes Chekov immediately, the two never appear together onscreen in “Space Seed,” because Walter Koenig had not yet joined the cast. Meyer was aware of the continuity error but didn’t care about it. Supposedly Koenig picked up on the error right away, but didn’t speak a word of it lest they swap out his character for someone else."

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    Interesting stuff, but can you back it up in any way? Where did you see the interview, for instance...
    – Valorum
    May 11, 2015 at 19:42
  • How would this work? Did Koenig write the script? May 12, 2015 at 14:54
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    It's been so long I really do not remember where I read or saw it. But this site makes a small reference to it: "Though Khan recognizes Chekov immediately, the two never appear together onscreen in “Space Seed,” because Walter Koenig had not yet joined the cast. Meyer was aware of the continuity error but didn’t care about it. Supposedly Koenig picked up on the error right away, but didn’t speak a word of it lest they swap out his character for someone else." theviewscreen.com/star-trek-ii-the-wrath-of-khan
    – Mykewlname
    May 13, 2015 at 18:30
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    It would be great if you integrated that into your answer. May 18, 2015 at 0:15
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    Great find. Well done.
    – Valorum
    Jun 22, 2015 at 16:08
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Walter Koenig was at our Star Trek Convention several years ago. He told a funny story that explained how Khan had met Pavel Chekov.

Apparently, Chekov was in Engineering and was in the bathroom so long that Khan could barely hold himself together. When Chekov finally came out, Khan screamed at him to never get in his way again and said he would always remember his face.

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  • Funny and quite interesting. I'd love to see some kind of evidence to back this up as I'm sure he's been asked it more than once :-)
    – Valorum
    Jun 6, 2015 at 7:19
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    @Valorum I don't know; have you never been asked the same thing so damn many times that you start making things up? "Why was my answer downvoted?" "Oh, we've been having a problem with cosmic rays flipping bits on the server."
    – Spencer
    Dec 1, 2016 at 4:06
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If you watch TOS in order of Stardate, the season 2 episode Catspaw, which first features Chekov, takes place as of Stardate 3018.2, and the season 1 episode Space Seed, in which he is not seen because he was not yet in cast, takes place as of Stardate 3141.9

Now most people "don't care about Stardate order as there was no order when it was being produced" but it does explain how Khan could recognise Chekov. And when you remember that there are slews of episodes that don't feature certain main cast members, it is reasonable.

So there's my answer, going purely off the TV series and not on books or comics or short stories.

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  • This is the only persuasive answer of the bunch to me. The "they never listed all the things that didn't happen, so maybe something happened off screen" argument can be used to justify almost any plot hole or absurdity.
    – Sarah G
    Apr 21, 2018 at 22:58
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Chekov wasn't in the "cast" till season 2, but he was obviously a member of the Enterprise crew, the majority of which we never see (numbering over 400). Hardly a "gaping plot hole". The books aren't canon, no, and they don't have to be. All we know (from the exchange in WOT) is that Khan and Chekov obviously encountered each other at some point on the ship. That much is canon, and no more. And that's enough. No problem.

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As state, Chekov (in reality) was not a member of the cast during the Khan episode "Space Seed." The lore clears this up, placing him on the night shift and having an off-screen encounter.

I remember seeing an interview years ago in which Walter Koenig (Chekov) explained he had read the script for "The Wrath of Khan" noticing his role and recalling that he wasn't a member of the cast in the season one episode featuring Khan. He stated that he remained silent regarding the plot-hole because he wanted a chance to play a captain. I believe this explanation came before his story of meeting Khan when he had "Montzuma's revenge."

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the video interview where he states he wanted to play a captain so bad he kept his mouth shut about the gaping plot hole. Regardless, the cited video is funnier and the lore explanation having Chekov as an unfeatured, non-bridge crew member on night shift during the events of the Khan episode makes sense as he would have been, at some time, promoted from within the Enterprise crew, leading to him being a featured cast member from season two on.

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Khan is shown on camera having access to the ships computer while convalescing in sickbay. This explains familiarity with marla and chekov (ships personell files) and how to overload the engines. You might want to retrict access there for non crewmembers jim!

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Chekov's first appearance in Star Trek was the episode "Catspaw" (Stardate 3018.2) and "Space Seed" was actually later in the timeline (Stardate 3141.9) so it could be reasonably argued that Chekov was on board at the time, and just didn't appear in the episode. Khan was hardly an obscure character, so Chekov would probably recognize him even if he never met him, and D Rich makes a valid case for Khan recognizing Chekov, given Khan has "the superior intellect".

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. These points are covered in previous answers; you should only add a new answer if you're providing new details not already posted.
    – DavidW
    Jan 1, 2020 at 0:11
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Honestly, the 'it happened off-screen' explanation is the most solid explanation, and the only one we need. Even if we ignore post-Wrath of Khan books and writings. There is NO reason, in this instance, not to accept that their meeting 'happened off-screen'. Take into account that we are never told in TOS that Kirk has an estranged out-of-wedlock son, but there is nothing in the series that says he couldn't have had one, and the movie tells us he did have one. What's more, David was alive during the events of "Space Seed", and even before the first season, since it was only 15 years before Wrath of Khan took place. Nothing in the TV show or movies exists to contradict that David could exist, so when the movie tells us he does exist, we accept it. The character of Chekov was not referred to in Season One (and in the real world he hadn't been conceived or casted) BUT the movie tells us Chekov was on board and that he and Khan met at some point. That's really all we need to know. It only qualifies as a 'plot hole' if it is contradicted by some earlier onscreen reference or occurrence; like if they had said in TOS that Chekov was new to the ship the first time he appears in "Catspaw". The show never says that -- he just appears in an episode like any number of one-off or multi-episode crewmen and women who have never been seen before and are never seen again. In fact, he's treated as if he's in the episode as if he has been there for quite some time. There's no reason why Chekov couldn't have been on the ship during the events of "Space Seed" and there's no line of dialog anywhere to contradict the idea that he might have been. If we're relying on SEEING Chekov in "Space Seed" to believe that he was there, then why aren't we insisting that Kirk have a picture of Carol Marcus or one of a young David in order to believe that THEY existed during the events of "Space Seed"? The movie tells us that Kirk had a child out of wedlock with Carol Marcus and that she's a brilliant scientist, and that Kirk took the Kobayashi Maru Test but Spock did not, it tells us that Khan's wife has died, that Seti Alpha IV exploded, that Genesis is a project that has been going on for some time, that the Enterprise has been made into a training vessel, that Spock is now a Captain, and it tells us that Chekov was on the Enterprise when Khan was there and that they met. We don't see any of this, but there's no reason why any of it can't be 'true'. If we accept any of this, then we must just accept all of it. Because there's no reason not to.

In fiction, a plot hole, a discrepancy, or an anomaly exists because of some prior rule of the fictional or real universe that precludes its existence or occurrence. Something that happens off-screen is not patently a plot hole, so long as it doesn't violate the laws, norms, or history the fictional universe you're observing. There is literally no reason why Chekov couldn't have been on the ship during the events of "Space Seed" and therefore no reason to disbelieve that he and Khan might have encountered each other during any one of the unseen moments in which Khan was on the Enterprise.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. It would be appreciated if you'd edit this to separate it out into a few more paragraphs to make it a bit more reader-friendly. Sep 10 at 15:51

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