In the second Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan, the character Khan uses Ceti eel larvae to subvert the self control of two people, Terrell and Chekhov. Khan gets the larvae from an adult eel that he has in a cage within his domicile. Why did Khan have these eels? Did Khan and his crew eat them, or was Khan keeping them to use in the event that someone would eventually return to the planet? Or, most unlikely, was Khan using them on his own people?

Is there a canon explanation for this?

  • 10
    Kahn is smarter, stronger, and faster than we mere mortals. Hoping to understand his motives is sheer madness.
    – erdiede
    Jan 24, 2012 at 2:16
  • 4
    Didn't he specifically say they were pets? (And he could always use them on uncooperative members of his clan.)
    – Tango
    Jan 24, 2012 at 2:29
  • 1
    @DaveDuplantis Thanks for the corrections. I must have had my brain in backwards that day.
    – Xantec
    Jan 25, 2012 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


From "Wrath of Khan" script:

Let me introduce you to Ceti Alpha V's only remaining indigenous life form; what do you think? They've killed twenty of my people, including my beloved wife. Oh, not all at once and not instantly, to be sure. Their young enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex. This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion. Later, as they grow, follows madness, paralysis -- and death. These are pets, of course -- not quite domesticated.

It isn't explicitly stated, but he likely did keep them just in case he needed to ensure someone's cooperation - he's a smart fellow who plans ahead.

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    It's Kahn - he knew their only chance was a ship coming, so he planned ahead for what he'd do when a ship arrived. Hence, the Yeerks (2nd to last paragraph).
    – Jeff
    Jan 24, 2012 at 16:01

Because they task him, and he shall have them! Or less obliquely, these eels were the only thing left to eat on planet.

KHAN: Allow me to introduce you to Ceti Alpha V's only remaining indigenous life form.

After fifteen years, whatever food stores Kirk left Khan's party would have been consumed long ago. Even if Kirk left them replicators, Khan would need some kind of organic matter as feedstock, which means they are eating the eels one way or another. It's either that or go cannibal and start shoving their comrades into the hoppers.

  • 1
    Evidence that replicators needs organic feedstock?? Aug 8, 2014 at 20:31
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    @PopMachine: The assumption is replicators build things from existing atoms rather than build atoms from energy. To create a gram of matter (e.g. a single raisin) would require the energy of a few Hiroshima-style atomic bombs. Much easier to believe nanoscale assemblers are rearranging atoms to produce that beefsteak. Hence, you need a feedstock of atoms to use in the replicator.
    – Kyle Jones
    Aug 26, 2014 at 22:40
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    Not objecting to the claim of needing material, objecting to the claim of need /organic/ feedstock. You need hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, etc, not organic material. Aug 27, 2014 at 14:47
  • Of course 'organic material' is essentially just 'carbon-containing material', after all...
    – Charles
    Aug 12, 2015 at 15:38
  • TNG era replicators just need matter. The older protein resequencers and food synthesizers weren't so versatile. memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Food_synthesizer memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Protein_resequencer Feb 13, 2016 at 2:10

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