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Universe : Prime Timeline
Species Name : Klingons [1]
Political Affiliation : Klingon [1]
Quadrant : Beta

One of the major powers of the Alpha/Beta quadrant, the Klingons originate on Qo'noS (pronounced Kronos), a class M world. [2] Many mysteries surround the history of the Klingon people, at least in part because of their habit of periodically re-writing their past for political purposes. [3]

According to legend, the first Klingon was a male named Kortar. [4] His Klingon heart was created by the gods out of fire and steel - the gods declared it the strongest heart in the heavens, so loud did it beat. When Kortar's heart weakened out of loneliness, the gods created a female for companionship. Her heart was even stronger, and he became jealous of her power. Fortunately the female heart also posessed wisdom, and she suggested that the two could join together to become an unstoppable force. The gods attempted to flee this powerful combination, but the joined hearts destroyed them. [3] As punishment for his actions, Kortar was condemned to ferry the souls of dishonoured Klingons to gre'thor [4] where they are watched over by Fek'lhr, a vaguely Klingon-esque figure. [5] It is tempting to view Fek'lhr as the Klingon equivalent of the Human devil, but in fact the Klingons have no devil. [6]

Klingons who die with their honour intact are spared gre'thor, instead travelling to sto-vo-kor. [7]

The Klingon empire originated approximately 1,500 years ago. [7] According to legend, the empire was founded by the warrior Kahless the Unforgettable. A mighty warrior, Kahless performed many amazing and heroic feats; on one occasion he fought his brother Morath for twelve days and nights because Morath had broken a promise and so brought shame on the family. [8]

Morath's dishonourable behaviour continued; eventually he killed his own father whilst trying to steal his sword. When the theft was discovered by Kahless Morath threw the sword into the sea, claiming that if he could not possess it then nobody would. Kahless wept at the loss, and his tears caused the sea to flood the shore. The people begged Kahless to stop weeping and he did, whereupon he walked into the sea to find the sword. He held his breath for three days and nights before finally finding the sword. This incident marked the last time the two brothers spoke.

Still disconsolate from the loss of his father, Kahless went to the underworld to search for him. There he invented the Mok'bara, a Klingon martial arts form which he showed to his father. His father was able to use the forms to remember his body and so return to the land of the living. [9]

Needing a weapon of his own, Kahless went into the mountains to the Kri'stak volcano. He cut off a lock of his hair and thrust it into the river of molten rock, then plunged it into the Lursor lake and and twisted it into the shape of a sword. Kahless used the sword to kill the tyrant Molor, whereupon he named it the Bat'leth, or "sword of honour". [7] Kahless carried the sword in many of his adventures, using it to conquer the Fek'Ihri, skin the serpent of Xol, to harvest his father's fields and even to carve a statue for his beloved. [10]

Ultimately Kahless united the Klingon people to form a great Empire. He issued the laws of honour with which the people would be governed. Feeling that his work was done, Kahless decided to leave for the afterlife. He pointed to a star, telling his people to look for him to return there. [7]

When the Klingons first made contact with the Federation in 2151 they appeared largely humanoid. The main visible differences centered around the heads, which bore a pattern of prominent ridges. [2] In 2154 the Klingons attempted to create genetically engineered super-soldiers using DNA recovered from Human Augments; the attempt backfired, unleashing a deadly virus which as a side effect caused the bony cranial ridges to dissolve. [11] The Denobulan Doctor Phlox was able to cure the effects of the virus, but many millions of Klingons still went through the first stages and had their cranial ridges erased, leaving them looking remarkably Human-like. [12] They retained this appearance through to the latter half of the 23rd century when they slowly began to change to something closer to their original appearance. [13] By the 2280's all Klingons had returned to sporting a distinctive set of ridges occupying almost the whole upper area of their heads. [14] Over time these alterations have faded into history - remarkably, by the mid to late 24th century even some Starfleet physicians were not aware that there had ever been a problem. Many Klingons of this era are extremely embarrassed about these cosmetic changes and refuse to speak of it, simply stating that it is "a long story" that they "do not discuss with outsiders". [15]

On average Klingons are larger and physically stronger than Humans. [16] They are noted for having no tear ducts, [17] and while most have red blood [18] there are some whose blood is distinctly pink. [17] Klingons suffer from certain allergies, most notably a strong reaction to small furry animals such as Tribbles. [19]

Internally, Klingon physiology is markedly different from that of Humans. There is a great deal more multiple redundancy in their organs, a principle they call Brak'lul. This allows Klingons to survive severe injuries in battle. [20] They have twenty three ribs, two livers, an eight chambered heart, and even redundant neural function [20] and multiple stomachs! [21] Surprisingly, Klingons have relatively little knowledge of their own biology and their medicine is very poorly developed. This is largely due to their warrior traditions - a Klingon who is wounded is expected to be left to survive or die through his own strength, or to undergo the Hegh'bat, a form of ritual suicide. [20]

Ritual is a very important element in Klingon society. [16] They believe that once a Klingon has died the spirit exits the body for gre'thor or sto-vo-kor, leaving behind a worthless shell to be disposed of. [22] Despite this, sometimes friends of the deceased will sit with the body to protect it from predators, a practice known as Ak'voh. [23] On the death of a Klingon is it traditional for those on hand to howl into the sky as a warning to the afterlife that a Klingon warrior is about to arrive. [22] In some cases a funeral dirge is sung in memory to the deceased, [24]

Other Klingon rituals include the R'uustai, a bonding ceremony which joins two people together in a relationship similar to brotherhood. [25]

The warrior ethos has always been important in Klingon society, but it has not always dominated in the way it does today. In the mid 21st century the warriors weren't nearly as powerful, and Klingon society was regarded as being much more fair and balanced. Over the next century the warriors gradually gained the upper hand, until the Klingons became widely regarded as a warrior race. [26] It was even common practice for Klingons to sharpen their teeth before battle! [2]

Despite the modern emphasis on warrior honour, in fact Klingon society often observes these principles more in words than in actions. Politics at the highest level of the Empire tends to be a ruthlessly pragmatic affair, often lacking in the very honour that Klingons speak of so highly. [27] It has been said that the Klingon Empire is in deep denial of itself, maintaining centuries of honour and tradition whilst even its most honourable members are entirely willing to accept and even participate in corruption at the highest levels. [28]

Despite initial appearances of success [2] their first contact with Humanity in 2151 was later viewed as disastrous, leading to decades of war. [29] A period of peace followed, but in 2223 relations shifted towards hostile again. [30]

In 2242 relations had worsened to the point of open hostility, and the battle of Donatu V was fought in this year. The outcome of the battle was regarded as inconclusive. [19]

In 2265 a peace treaty was signed. Although the Klingons would claim to have followed the treaty, over the next three years there would be repeated raids on Federation outposts which were suspected to have been carried out by Klingon forces. [31]

Open warfare began again in 2266, but the war was quickly ended by the intervention of the Organians. [1]

Over the years the Federation and Klingon Empire made several further attempts to coexist peacefully, with notable breakthroughs including the Korvat Negotiations in 2289 [24] and the Khitomer Conference in 2293. [17] Peace was finally achieved after the Narendra Incident, in which the crew of the Enterprise-C sacrificed themselves and their vessel to assist a Klingon colony under attack by Romulans. [32] The peace held until 2372, when the Federation's refusal to support the Klingon's war against the Cardassians resulted in an attack on Deep Space Nine. [33] The alliance was reinstated later in this year in order to present a united front against the Dominion threat. [34] That alliance has continued to the present, and the two powers worked closely throughout the Dominion war. [35]

Klingon relations with the Romulans have also been somewhat variable. In the 2260s the two were at least somewhat friendly; Romulans used Klingon warships in their military. [36] The two later became enemies; in 2344 the Romulans attacked the Klingon outpost on Narendra III, killing many Klingons. [32] In 2367 the Romulans backed Duras in his attempt to claim the Chancellorship of the Klingon high council.  [37] The attempt failed when the Federation blockaded the Romulan border, preventing supplies from reaching Duras's forces. [38]

In theory the Klingon Government consists of an Imperial structure with a High Council advising the Emperor. However, for centuries the title of Emperor was left vacant and the Chancellor of the High Council has ruled the Empire. This situation was modified in 2369 when Kahless apparently returned from the dead, although it was later learned that the returned Kahless was in fact a clone of the original created by Klingon scientists. Despite this, Chancellor Gowron allowed the cloned Kahless to take the Imperial throne as a figurehead in order to promote unity among the Klingon people. [7]

The Klingons fought alongside both the Federation and Romulans in the war against the Dominion, acquitting themselves with great bravery in that conflict. [39] During the final stages of the war Gowron was killed in single combat by Lieutenant Commander Worf, who then appointed General Martok as Chancellor. [28]

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 TOS 1 Errand of Mercy
2 ENT 1 Broken Bow
3 DS9 6 You are Cordially Invited...
4 VOY 6 Barge of the Dead
5 TNG 4 Devil's Due
6 TOS 3 Day of the Dove
7 TNG 6 Rightful Heir
8 TNG 5 New Ground
9 TNG 6 Birthright, Part 2
10 DS9 4 The Sword of Kahless
11 ENT 4 Affliction
12 ENT 4 Divergence
13 Star Trek : The Motion Picture
14 Star Trek III : The Search for Spock
15 DS9 5 Trials and Tribble-ations
16 Generic canonical information
17 Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country
18 Star Trek : Generations
19 TOS 2 The Trouble With Tribbles
20 TNG 5 Ethics
21 VOY 3 Macrocosm
22 TNG 1 Heart of Glory
23 DS9 5 The Ship
24 DS9 2 Blood Oath
25 TNG 3 The Bonding
26 ENT 2 Judgment
27 TNG 3 Sins of the Father
28 DS9 7 Tacking into the Wind
29 TNG 4 First Contact Picard stated that first contact led to decades of war, although the actual contact we see in Enterprise is peaceful and quite positive
30 Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country Spock stated that there had been 70 years of unremitting hostility as of the movie. But hostility does not necessarily mean open warfare, of course
31 TOS 3 Day of the Dove Kang states that his people have followed the treaty, and the Enterprise officers discuss the possible violations
32 TNG 3 Yesterday's Enterprise
33 DS9 4 The Way of the Warrior
34 DS9 5 By Inferno's Light
35 DS9 7 What You Leave Behind, Part 2
36 TOS 3 The Enterprise Incident
37 TNG 4 Redemption, Part 1
38 TNG 5 Redemption, Part 2
39 Various Deep Space Nine episodes
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Errand of Mercy
Series : ENT Season 1
Episode : Broken Bow
Series : DS9 Season 6
Episode : You are Cordially Invited...
Series : VOY Season 6
Episode : Barge of the Dead
Series : TNG Season 4
Episode : Devil's Due
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Day of the Dove
Series : TNG Season 6
Episode : Rightful Heir
Series : TNG Season 5
Episode : New Ground
Series : TNG Season 6
Episode : Birthright, Part 2
Series : DS9 Season 4
Episode : The Sword of Kahless
Series : ENT Season 4
Episode : Affliction
Series : ENT Season 4
Episode : Divergence
Film: Star Trek : The Motion Picture
Film: Star Trek III : The Search for Spock
Series : DS9 Season 5
Episode : Trials and Tribble-ations
Source : Generic canonical information
Film: Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country
Film: Star Trek : Generations
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : The Trouble With Tribbles
Series : TNG Season 5
Episode : Ethics
Series : VOY Season 3
Episode : Macrocosm
Series : TNG Season 1
Episode : Heart of Glory
Series : DS9 Season 5
Episode : The Ship
Series : DS9 Season 2
Episode : Blood Oath
Series : TNG Season 3
Episode : The Bonding
Series : ENT Season 2
Episode : Judgment
Series : TNG Season 3
Episode : Sins of the Father
Series : DS9 Season 7
Episode : Tacking into the Wind
Series : TNG Season 4
Episode : First Contact
Comment : Picard stated that first contact led to decades of war, although the actual contact we see in Enterprise is peaceful and quite positive
Film: Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country
Comment : Spock stated that there had been 70 years of unremitting hostility as of the movie. But hostility does not necessarily mean open warfare, of course
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Day of the Dove
Comment : Kang states that his people have followed the treaty, and the Enterprise officers discuss the possible violations
Series : TNG Season 3
Episode : Yesterday's Enterprise
Series : DS9 Season 4
Episode : The Way of the Warrior
Series : DS9 Season 5
Episode : By Inferno's Light
Series : DS9 Season 7
Episode : What You Leave Behind, Part 2
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : The Enterprise Incident
Series : TNG Season 4
Episode : Redemption, Part 1
Series : TNG Season 5
Episode : Redemption, Part 2
Series : DS9 Season
Episode : Various Deep Space Nine episodes

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 63,616 Last updated : 21 Oct 2017