Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 22

Space Seed

Aired Unknown Feb 16, 1967 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
217 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Enterprise picks up a crew of genetic supermen from the 20th century... and their leader, Khan, plans to create a new empire.

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  • Enterprise discovers a ship adrift through space for two centuries containing a group of genetically engineered tyrants.

    "Space Seed" is a well known episode primarily because of the popular movie "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn" as any "Star Trek" fan would know. That aside, this is actually a very good episode. It does have it's flaws but it's quite entertaining and the late Ricardo Montelban gives a very good performance (As he did in the aforementioned . He is the main reason why Khan is such an iconic character in the Star Trek universe. As mentioned in other reviews posted here, the climactic fight between Kirk and Kahn in engineering is a liability. Kahn was easily overpowered despite being ten times stronger than Kirk. I did not care much for the character of Marla McGyvers. She seemed more like eye candy than a character. Still I believe it is easy to see why this episode is so popular. Despite some glitches it is actually quite entertaining.moreless
  • McCoy offers up his ear to a man who does not exactly appreciate Vincent Van Gogh’s work

    Now I'm guessing the only reason this episode got rated this high is because Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan" was such a hit. I'm not knocking the episode. But I find it highly questionable it is in the same category as "Mirror, Mirror" or "Balance of Terror". Ricardo Montelban's performance was wonderful, I must say. If only I could get a woman to unconditionally devote herself to me like that. Wasn't too thrilled with the end fight Khan and Kirk had. After all, Khan had "10 times Kirk's strength"moreless
  • A good but not great episode....

    "Space Seed" is an enjoyable episode but it has its problems (including a lame storyline regarding the ship's curvy Historian and a ridiculous idea of a 1990s Eugenics War) and just plain doesn't match up to other Star Trek episode heavyweights (way out of league with the likes of The City On The Edge Of Forever, Mirror Mirror, and The Trouble With Tribbles). Richardo Montalban is perfect in the unforgettable role of Khan. The character of Khan is the episode's real highlight but I am confused as to why the character is considered one of the Cpt. Kirk's ultimate enemies since the two hardly share any screen time together. In fact the best scene of the episode involves a showdown not between Khan & Kirk but between Khan & Dr. McCoy. "Space Seed" is not as good an episode of Star Trek as everyone seems to think it is - obviously hyped up because of the popularity of the film Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.moreless
  • The Enterprise discovers a ship full of genetically engineered criminals.

    This is, of course, famous for being the prequel to the second Star Trek feature film (often cited as the greatest Trek film of them all), with Ricardo Montalbán as Khan. The episode, introducing the evil superman, has a bit of a weak screenplay is nothing special as a result. While Montalbán gives a great performance (as does Madlyn Rhue), the original idea for the story – a Renaissance man from the past being out of place in the future – is buried amid the action. That said, it's not a clunker; it has some interesting sci fi concepts and enough twists and turns to keep the viewer engaged until the closing credits role.moreless
  • The Enterprise comes across a freighter that has been drifting in space for 200 years, and houses a frozen race of 'super humans'. But their leader, dictator Khan, plans to create a new empire. A quite good episode, although I'd say not a complete classicmoreless

    This review contains minor spoilers.

    This is one of Original 'Star Trek's most well-known episodes, much due to its big screen sequel 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan' (1982), which is often regarded as the best of the big-screen outings; certainly for the original crew at least.

    The story is a reasonable one, and undoubtedly the best thing about the episode is Richard Montalban as Khan. He gives a mesmerising performance, and ranks as one of Original 'Trek's best guest performers.

    If the episode has any flaws, it is that the middle section is rather dragged out and over-talky. The opening scenes when Khan and his people are discovered are good, and the ending (which I'll get on to in a moment) certainly picks up, but the middle section falls between the two.

    The later sections of the episode, as Khan and his people take over the Enterprise, prove to be the best moments of the episode. We have seen aliens and various other super-beings take over the ship, but with the human (albeit genetically enhanced) Khan it is something different, and feels more like a genuine threat.

    The final, inevitable showdown between Kirk and Khan takes place in engineering. Again. How many 'final fights' take place in engineering?! There are loads – including the previous-but-one broadcast episode, "Court Martial'. And again, I did find the obvious stunt-double work to be distracting - they didn't even seem to try and hide their faces on this one.

    I find this to be a mostly good episode, but maybe not a complete classic; and I do agree to an extent with another reviewer that this episode may have got a high rating only due to its connection with its popular big screen sequel. It's good, but certainly not in the same league of some of the other first season classics (in my opinion). But not bad either.moreless
John Arndt

John Arndt

Crewman #1 (uncredited)

Guest Star

Jan Reddin

Jan Reddin

Crewman #2 (uncredited)

Guest Star

Joan Johnson

Joan Johnson

Female Guard (uncredited)

Guest Star

Bobby Bass

Bobby Bass

Guard (uncredited)

Recurring Role

DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy

Recurring Role

James Doohan

James Doohan

Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (19)

    • Trivia: The ship that Khan stole was of the DY-100 class. The S.S. Botany Bay's number was DY-103.

    • Despite the fact they say that McGivers is knowledgeable about the late 20th century, she seems to know almost nothing about the Eugenics Wars, and there is no indication of any 20th century paintings, statuary, etc., in her quarters.

    • When Khan first asks McCoy to speak to the captain, the doctor depresses the button on the com panel, and without him saying a word, the bridge answers. The com isn't a "hotline" to the bridge, so it wouldn't have connected there unless he called for it specifically.

    • After the Enterprise determines the ship they find doesn't have life signs or charged weapons, they are still at Red Alert for no apparent reason.

    • The reception for Khan is said by Kirk to be an official dinner, yet only he, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty wear dress uniforms. Everyone else, including Uhura, wears standard uniforms.

    • As ship's historian, McGivers should have a blue sciences uniform, but wears the red of Engineering and Security.

    • It is constantly said that Khan had been in stasis two centuries (200 years). But the show takes place in the mid to late 23rd century, so it is actually closer to three centuries.

    • When Khan states that he will save Kirk if any of the officers join him, it seems that it would make more sense for someone to say "Sure, I'll join you" and then betray Khan later on (as McGivers does), instead of just sitting there watching the Captain die.

    • Why do they announce over the comm system that Kirk is on his way to Engineering to go after Khan...where Khan is, listening in on the comms? Can't they figure he might hear them say Kirk's heading his way?

    • Both Scotty and Kirk say they knew about Khan - Scotty says he had a sneaking admiration for Khan, and Kirk says he was the "best of the tyrants." So why the heck don't they recognize him, or at least figure out that the guy in their ship named Khan from the year 1996 might just be related to the guy they're admiring named Khan from 1996? And why aren't there any pictures of Khan in 1996 they could check their passenger against?

    • When McGivers recompresses Kirk, the "inches of mercury" on the gauge (the measure of vacuum) move to a higher number, which indicates a higher vacuum reading: 30" HG being a perfect vacuum.

    • When the landing party beams over at the beginning, the transporting officer is wearing a blue jumpsuit, but when they go to the closeup of his hands, they have a red uniform, two braid stripes, and are the standard shot they use when Scotty does the transporting.

    • As Khan decompresses Kirk, the gauge on the wall says 10 HG and then drops. But in a camera shot a couple of seconds later it says 20 HG.

    • The Eugenics Wars occurred beginning in 1993 and seem to have been a World War. yet in the Next Generation we find out that World War III doesn't occur until the 21st century. The Eugenics Wars sure seem like they would be considered a World War.

    • While he's suffocating Kirk recommends that five of his bridge officers receive commendations but there's seven crew on the bridge. Did the other two not suffocate heroically enough for him?

    • This is the first but not the last time that Kirk turns over the ship's library to a possible dangerous visitor who, sure enough, uses the information to take over the ship.

    • Lt. McGivers didn't have the gold braid to be a lieutenant, she was an ensign but was always called "lieutenant".

    • In the scene where they discover Khan in his sleep chamber still alive, Kirk loses his phaser. It falls off of his belt onto the floor as he bends down, Dr. McCoy notices it, and reaches down and shoves it aside as they finish the scene.

    • In the engine room fight scenes between Kirk and Khan, the use of stunt doubles is very obvious.

  • QUOTES (20)

    • McCoy: The Eugenics Wars of the 1990s.
      Spock: Your attempt to improve the race by selective breeding.
      McCoy: Oh no not our attempt, Mr. Spock. A group of ambitious scientists.

    • Kirk: Those men went out to tame a continent, Khan. Can you tame a world?
      Khan: Have you ever read Milton, Captain?
      Kirk: Yes, of course.

    • Kirk: (to McGivers, referring to Khan) Given the choice between court martial, and accompanying him there, which do you choose?
      McGivers: I'll go with him, Sir.
      Khan: A superior woman. I will take her.

    • Scotty: It's a shame for a good Scotsman to admit it, but I'm not up on Milton.
      Kirk: The statement made when Lucifer fell into the pit. "It's better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven."

    • Khan: I should have realized that suffocating together on the bridge would create heroic camaraderie among you.

    • Khan: Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity. But improve man, you gain a thousandfold.

    • Kirk: If I can have honesty, it's easier to overlook mistakes.

    • Spock: Insufficient facts always invite danger.

    • Spock: Superior ability breeds superior ambition.

    • Khan: Go! Or stay! But do it because it is what you wish to do!

    • Spock: It would be interesting, Captain, to return to that world in a hundred years and to learn what crop has sprung from the seed you planted today.
      Kirk: Yes, Mr. Spock, it would indeed.

    • Spock: Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is...
      Kirk: Mr. Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us.

    • McGivers: I don't know if you'll like living in our time.
      Khan: Then I'll have to remold it to my liking.

    • Khan: You are an excellent tactician, Captain. You let your second-in-command attack while you sit and watch for weakness.
      Kirk: You have a tendency to express ideas in military terms, Mr. Khan. This is a social occasion.
      Khan: It has been said that social occasions are only warfare concealed.

    • Khan: [to McGivers] My name is Khan. Please sit and entertain me.

    • Kirk: Very interesting. You ready (to transport), Bones?
      McCoy: No. I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered across space by this gadget.
      Kirk: You're an old-fashioned man, Bones.

    • McCoy: A pity you wasted your life on command, Jim. You'd have made a fair psychologist.
      Kirk: Fair?

    • Kirk: So much for my theory. I'm still waiting to hear yours.
      Spock: Even a theory requires some facts, Captain. So far... I have none.
      Kirk: And that irritates you, Mr. Spock.
      Spock: Irritation?
      Kirk: Yes.
      Spock: I am not capable of that emotion.
      Kirk: My apologies, Mr. Spock.

    • Kirk: I thought you said it couldn't possibly be an Earth vessel?
      Spock: I fail to understand why it gives you pleasure to see me proven wrong.
      Kirk: An emotional Earth weakness of mine.

    • McCoy: Well, either choke me or cut my throat. Make up your mind.
      Khan: English. I thought I dreamed hearing it. Where am I?
      McCoy: You're in bed, holding a knife at your doctor's throat.
      Khan: Answer my question!
      McCoy: It would be most effective if you would cut the carotid artery, just under the left ear.
      Khan: I like a brave man.

  • NOTES (5)

    • Although Chekov was not on the show when this episode aired, Khan still recognizes him in Star Trek II. It is a general fan consensus that Chekov was on the ship during "Space Seed," but was not assigned to the bridge yet. Walter Koenig jokes that he believes Chekov accidentally made Khan wait an uncomfortably long period of time to use the bathroom.

    • The SS Botany Bay DY100 model shown in this episode was reworked and featured in the second season episode "The Ultimate Computer" as the Woden (NCC-325), an old-style automated Federation Antares-type ore freighter and is used as target drone.

    • Ceti Alpha V, where Kirk exiles Khan, McGivers and the rest of the Eugenics Wars' augments from the S.S. Botany Bay, is featured in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Twilight", as the planet where the remnants of humanity gathered after Earth's destruction by the Xindi weapon.

    • This is the first episode to mention the Eugenics Wars. This final World War, in the mid-1990's, is referred to many times in the Star Trek spinoffs, most recently in Star Trek: Enterprise episodes: "Borderlands (1)", "Cold Station 12 (2)", and "The Augments (3)." Dr. Arik Soong (Brent Spiner) starts out as a believer in eugenic science raising a group of Eugenics War era augments from embryos placed in artifical wombs.

    • This story is the basis of the 1982 movie sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.


    • Khan: Have you ever read Milton, Captain?
      Kirk: Yes. I understand. ...
      The statement Lucifer made when he fell into the pit: "It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven." Actual quote is "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven." John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I, line 263
      Khan preferred a rough world, such as Ceti Alpha V, to the heaven of Kirk's world.