The Klingons were a humanoid warrior species that originated from the planet Qo'noS (pronounced Kronos), an M-class planet in the Beta Quadrant. One of the major powers of the galaxy, the Klingons were a proud, tradition-bound people who valued honor and combat. The aggressive Klingon culture had made them an interstellar military power to be respected and feared.
History and politics Edit
- Main article: Klingon history
Kahless the Unforgettable founded the Klingon Empire some time in the 9th century through the performance of many heroic feats. He unified the Klingon people when he killed the tyrant Molor. Kahless came to be revered in Klingon society to the point of near-deification, and many aspects of Klingon culture came to revolve around an emulation of Kahless' life. (TNG: "Rightful Heir")
The warrior ethos had been an important aspect of Klingon society since the time of Kahless, but the warrior aspects became much more dominant beginning in the early 22nd century. Previously, Klingon society was regarded as socially balanced, but over time, the warrior caste gained greater prominence, to the point where the Klingons widely came to be regarded as a "warrior race." (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Judgment")
Because of their aggressive outlook, the Klingons generally had poor relations with other races after they began to move out into space. Because the worlds of the Klingon Empire were resource-poor, the Klingons developed an intense belief in the need for expansion and conquest in order to survive. The Klingons' relationship with Humans and the Federation was rocky at best. Following the disastrous first contact between Klingons and Humans in the Broken Bow Incident, tense rivalries and unavoidable conflicts often developed between the two races. (ENT: "Broken Bow"; TNG: "First Contact")
In the year 2154, the Klingons gained access to the genetic material of Human Augments and tried to adapt this genetic engineering to improve themselves. The test subjects did gain increased strength and intelligence, but then, their neural pathways started to degrade and they died in agony. One of the subjects suffered from the Levodian flu, which was modified by the Augment DNA to become a fatal, airborne, mutagenic plague that spread rampantly through the Empire, from world to world. In the first stage of this plague, Klingons lost the ridges on their foreheads and began to look more Human. With the help of a Klingon scientist named Antaak, Dr. Phlox of the Earth starship Enterprise was able to formulate a cure that halted the genetic effects of the virus in the first stage. This retained the changes in appearance, along with some minor neural re-ordering. The neural ordering caused changes in the emotional make-up of the Klingons. For example, the infected started to feel fear. Even though the infected did not develop any stage-two characteristics – such as enhanced strength, speed, or endurance – they did not die from it. This left millions of Klingons changed. These alterations were even passed on to their children. (ENT: "Affliction", "Divergence") From the 2270s onward, Klingons encountered by the Federation had their forehead ridges restored. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
The fallout from their failed attempt at genetic enhancement apparently so embarrassed the Klingons that they refused to discuss the incident with outsiders. Due to the secrecy of the Klingon Empire, knowledge of the change became lost over time to the general population of the Federation. By the 24th century, the reason for smooth-forehead Klingons was not widely known outside the Empire, and questions were generally met with a brusque answer along the lines of, "We do not discuss it with outsiders." (ENT: "Affliction", "Divergence"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")
By 2223, relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire degenerated to a point of relentless hostility, which lasted for several decades. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; TNG: "First Contact")
The lingering tensions between Klingons and Humans continued to rise, eventually leading to the Battle of Donatu V, near Sherman's Planet in 2245, and later erupted into what was considered the Federation-Klingon War of 2267. The Organians quickly intervened and ended the war after only four days of fighting. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles", "Errand of Mercy") Over the next several decades an uneasy peace developed, broken only by brief but fierce skirmishes and conflicts (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier). A true and lasting peace finally came in 2293, with the signing of the Khitomer Accords, thanks to the efforts of Chancellor Gorkon and the Human Starfleet officer James T. Kirk. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; VOY: "Flashback") Since then, despite several periods of rocky relations (see Federation-Klingon War (2372-73)), the Federation and the Klingon Empire have been steadfast allies, especially in the face of Dominion aggression in the 2370s. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior", "By Inferno's Light")
The Klingon relationship with the Romulan people was also extremely unstable. A short-lived alliance and technology exchange notwithstanding, the Klingons typically regarded the Romulan Star Empire as a "blood enemy" since at least the 23rd century. Sporadic Romulan attacks against Klingon colonies (see Khitomer Massacre) and interference in Klingon affairs (see Klingon Civil War) continued to sour relationships between the two peoples. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident"; TNG: "The Enemy", "Sins of the Father", "Redemption II")
In the alternate reality, in 2233, the crew of the USS Kelvin briefly considered whether a particular lightning storm effect, observed by the Kelvin near the edge of Klingon space, might be Klingon in origin. Starfleet discarded this possibility. The phenomenon preceded the arrival of the Romulan mining vessel Narada from the prime universe. The Narada attacked and obliterated an armada of 47 Klingon Warbirds in 2258. (Star Trek)
By 2259 in the alternate reality, after first contact with the Empire, the Klingons had conquered and occupied two planets known to the Federation and fired on Starfleet ships half a dozen times. Tensions between the two powers were high and an all-out war was considered inevitable. During that year, before surrendering to the Federation, Khan Noonien Singh destroyed three D4-class patrol ships on the Klingon homeworld, killing the crews of the vessels. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
"Even half drunk, Klingons are among the best warriors in the galaxy."
Klingon society was extremely complex. Before its decline in the mid 22nd century and again in the late 23rd century, Klingon society was based on a feudal system organized around traditional Great Houses of noble lineage, to which various parts of the population owed fealty. The Great Houses are traditionally represented in the Klingon High Council, which is led by a Chancellor.
The decline of Klingon culture is demonstrated in the acts of the Klingons themselves. They stopped caring about their weapons to the point that they let them rust and even stopped caring for true honor. (ENT: "Marauders", "Judgment") Sometime after the augment virus took hold of the Klingon Empire, a new regime took control, turning the Empire into an authoritarian state that kept tabs on all who served. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy") The old ways returned in the latter 23rd and early 24th centuries respectively.
Males traditionally dominated public life in the Empire, assuming the leading roles in politics and the military with only rare exceptions. (TNG: "Redemption") A notable exception to the prohibition of women serving on the High Council came when Azetbur became Chancellor of the High Council after her father, Gorkon, was assassinated in 2293. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) Women, in turn, traditionally dominated the household and the management of the family's affairs. (DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited") Klingon women were treated as equals, except in politics and matters of inheritance. Law prohibited them from serving in the High Council and they could not take control of their Houses unless they had the money and no male successors of the lineage. Otherwise, Klingon women were expected to exhibit the same physical prowess and lust for blood and honor as the men.
Klingon society functioned through a system of family reputation and honor. Tradition was an integral part of their lives and breaking from observances was considered a grievous insult to society, an insult not forgotten easily. An offense usually brought shame to the offender's name for several generations. The highest shame was discommendation, an action by the High Council to officially strip a Klingon of his personal or family honor. Bloodlines and relations were also taken very seriously by any "true" Klingon. Lines comprised more than mere family members. (TNG: "New Ground")
An integral part of tradition was the various rituals that marked milestones in a Klingon's life or the history of the Empire. Most notable of the rites was the Rite of Succession, which a future leader of the Empire had to complete with a valid Arbiter of Succession (Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in the case of Gowron) overseeing the proceedings. Before the Rite could begin, there was another elaborate ceremony needed to confirm the death of the previous leader. This was known as the Sonchi ceremony. (TNG: "Reunion") Individual Klingon warriors were expected to go through the Rite of Ascension to be recognized as a full adult. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor") If the house that an individual Klingon belonged to was dissolved or fell into dishonor, he could be adopted into another house through the R'uustai or alternative ceremonies that symbolically marked the joining of kinship and allegiance. (TNG: "The Bonding"; DS9: "Sons of Mogh", "Soldiers of the Empire", "Sons and Daughters")
The most distinctive feature of Klingon anatomy (except in those individuals afflicted with the Augment virus) was a sagittal crest, beginning on the forehead and often continuing over the skull. The cranium was encased in an exoskeleton, which possessed a feature known as the tricipital lobe. (TNG: "Descent")
On average, Klingons were larger and physically stronger than Humans, though they possessed a much lower tolerance for cold weather. (VOY: "Displaced"; DS9: "Change of Heart") They were known to lack tear ducts. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Internally, Klingon anatomy was markedly different from that of Humans. There was a great deal more multiple redundancy in their organs, a principle they called brak'lul. This allowed Klingons to survive severe injuries in battle. They had twenty-three ribs, two livers, an eight-chambered heart, three lungs, and even redundant neural function as well as multiple stomachs. Some geneticists believed that the extra organs, notably the third lung, evolved to give Klingons greater stamina on the battlefield. Klingons had relatively little knowledge of their own biology and their medicine was very poorly developed. This was largely due to their warrior traditions – a Klingon who was wounded was expected to be left to either survive through his own strength, die, or undergo the hegh'bat, a form of ritual suicide. (TNG: "Ethics"; VOY: "Lineage")
Despite the anatomical and physiological differences between Klingons and Humans, the two species had very similar nutritional requirements. Dr. Pulaski once noted that, while most Humans find Klingon food unpalatable, usually, "what kills us, kills them." (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor") However, the "tea" used in the Klingon tea ceremony seems to be an exception. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder") Apparently, the tea concentrated some (unknown) toxic heavy elements found in the soil in which its planet of origin grew, synthesizing a poison deadly to Humans, and capable of seriously sickening Klingons, as it did.
Klingon pregnancies normally ran thirty weeks, but with mixed species, gestation times were shorter. The odds against Klingon-Human conceptions were rather high; however, when successful, Klingon and Human metabolisms sometimes clashed, causing biochemical fluctuations in the mother, which may lead to fainting. Klingon traits remained dominant for several generations, even with a single ancestor; therefore, a child even ¼ Klingon still possessed forehead ridges, if he or she carried the gene. (VOY: "Lineage")
Klingons had ridged spines, chests and feet. (TNG: "Ethics"; DS9: "Sons of Mogh"; ENT: "Broken Bow") After birth, some Klingon infants experienced a pronounced curvature to the spine, a form of scoliosis, which was correctable by surgery. This "defect" tended to run in Klingon families, especially among females. Federation medicine, fortunately, advanced beyond that, allowing an additional choice of treatment involving genetic modification. (VOY: "Lineage")
Klingon children matured far more quickly than Human children. At the age of only one Earth year, a Klingon child had the appearance a Human child had at about four. By the age of eight Earth years, a Klingon attained the maturity a Human did not reach until about age sixteen. (TNG: "Reunion"; DS9: "Sons and Daughters") When Klingon children began growing into adults, they went through jak'tahla, a Klingon form of puberty. (Star Trek: Insurrection) Like other mammalian species, Klingon females were capable of lactating to breast-feed infants. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")
Doctor Julian Bashir once sarcastically noted that the natural odor produced by Klingons was comparable to an "earthy, peaty aroma with a hint of lilac." (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations") To Humans and Vulcans alike, Klingon ships smelled bad. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; ENT: "Sleeping Dogs") For example, Leonard McCoy once referred to the environment of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, operated until recently by Klingons, as having a "stench." (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
Klingons such as Kurn had the instinctive ability to sense the decision to kill by looking into the eyes of their opponents. (DS9: "Sons of Mogh") Worf did not have this ability, probably due to the fact that he was raised by Humans on Earth.
Religion and tradition Edit
- See also: Klingon wedding
Ritual was a very important element in Klingon society. While the Klingons were not a religious people as such, they did believe that deities existed at one time. However, Klingon warriors supposedly slew their gods, as they were considered to be more trouble than they were worth. (DS9: "Homefront")
Once a Klingon died, the spirit was considered to have exited the body, leaving behind a worthless shell to be disposed of. (VOY: "Emanations") In the Klingon death ritual, it was traditional for those on hand to howl into the sky, as a warning to the afterlife that a Klingon warrior was about to arrive. (TNG: "Heart of Glory"; DS9: "Tears of the Prophets") In some cases, a funeral dirge was sung in memory of the deceased, or friends sat with the body to protect it from predators, a practice known as ak'voh. (DS9: "The Ship")
Furthermore, a Klingon who was unable to fight, and hence unable to live as a warrior anymore, had the traditional obligation of committing the hegh'bat, which was the Klingon ritual suicide. Tradition dictated that the eldest son or a close personal friend must assist. That person's role was to hand the dying Klingon a knife so that he could plunge it into his heart, remove it, and then wipe the blood on his own sleeve. (TNG: "Ethics")
The Klingon afterlife was supposedly divided into two branches. The dishonored were taken to Gre'thor aboard the Barge of the Dead, a vessel captained by Kortar, the first Klingon. Kortar was supposedly the one who had originally killed the gods who created him and was condemned to ferry the dishonored to Gre'thor as a punishment. Once in Gre'thor, the dishonored were watched over by Fek'lhr, a vaguely Klingon-esque figure. While it may be tempting to view Fek'lhr as the Klingon equivalent of the Human devil, according to a statement made by Kang, the Klingons had no devil. (TNG: "Devil's Due"; VOY: "Barge of the Dead"; TOS: "Day of the Dove")
Those who died honorably supposedly went to Sto-vo-kor, where Kahless was said to await them. However, should a noble warrior die in a manner that might not merit a place in Sto-vo-kor, such as being assassinated in a surprise attack, he may still earn a place, if others dedicated a great battle to his name, thus showing that he had earned respect among the living. (TNG: "Heart of Glory", "Rightful Heir"; VOY: "Barge of the Dead"; DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")
Klingon rituals included the R'uustai, a bonding ceremony which joined two people together in a relationship similar to brotherhood. (TNG: "The Bonding") Klingon tradition held that "the son of a Klingon is a man the day he can first hold a blade." (TNG: "New Ground")
If a Klingon warrior struck another Klingon with the back of his hand, it was interpreted as a challenge to the death. Klingon warriors spoke proudly to each other; they did not whisper or keep their distance. Standing far away or whispering were considered insults in Klingon society. (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising")
According to Worf, taking hostages was considered by Klingons to be a cowardly act. Although, there was an incident in which a Klingon aimed his disruptor at the Enterprise-D's warp core, thus taking the ship hostage, in effect.
When going into battle, Klingon warriors often sang the traditional warriors' anthem, which was essentially an invocation to Kahless and a pledge to win a good death in battle. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire")
When choosing a mate, it was traditional for a female Klingon to bite the male's face, allowing her to taste his blood and get his scent. Males were also known to bite the face of the female they were interested in. (VOY: "Blood Fever", "Prophecy", "Infinite Regress")
Worf once told Wesley Crusher that, per Klingon mating rituals, "Men do not roar. Women roar. Then they hurl heavy objects. And claw at you." Of men, Worf said, "He reads love poetry. He ducks a lot." (TNG: "The Dauphin") Klingon daughters traditionally were given a piece of jewelry called a jinaq when they became old enough to select a mate. (TNG: "Birthright, Part II")
Science and technology Edit
Klingon space Edit
Food and beverages Edit
- Bregit lung
- Grapok sauce
- Heart of targ
- Klingon martini
- O'mat Gri T'M pffiots
- Pipius claw
- Rokeg blood pie
- "Hide and Q" (Season One)
- "Heart of Glory"
- "A Matter Of Honor" (Season Two)
- "The Icarus Factor" (holograms only)
- "The Emissary"
- "Shades of Gray" (archive footage only)
- "The Offspring" (hologram only) (Season Three)
- "Sins of the Father"
- "Reunion" (Season Four)
- "Future Imperfect" (illusion only)
- "The Drumhead"
- "The Mind's Eye"
- "Redemption II" (Season Five)
- "Unification I"
- "Unification II"
- "New Ground"
- "Cost of Living"
- "Imaginary Friend"
- "Rascals" (Season Six)
- "A Fistful of Datas"
- "Birthright, Part I"
- "Birthright, Part II"
- "The Chase"
- "Rightful Heir"
- "Gambit, Part II" (Season Seven)
- "Preemptive Strike"
- "Past Prologue" (Season One)
- "Dramatis Personae"
- "Invasive Procedures" (Season Two)
- "Playing God"
- "Blood Oath"
- "The Maquis, Part II"
- "The House of Quark" (Season Three)
- "Through the Looking Glass"
- "The Way of the Warrior" (Season Four)
- "The Sword of Kahless"
- "Return to Grace"
- "Sons of Mogh"
- "Rules of Engagement"
- "Shattered Mirror"
- "Broken Link"
- "Apocalypse Rising" (Season Five)
- "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"
- "Nor the Battle to the Strong"
- "Trials and Tribble-ations"
- "In Purgatory's Shadow"
- "By Inferno's Light"
- "Soldiers of the Empire"
- "Children of Time"
- "Blaze of Glory"
- "Call to Arms"
- "A Time to Stand" (Season Six)
- "Sons and Daughters"
- "Favor the Bold"
- "Sacrifice of Angels"
- "You Are Cordially Invited"
- "In the Pale Moonlight"
- "His Way"
- "The Reckoning"
- "Tears of the Prophets"
- "Image in the Sand" (Season Seven)
- "Shadows and Symbols"
- "Treachery, Faith and the Great River"
- "Once More Unto the Breach"
- "The Emperor's New Cloak"
- "Strange Bedfellows"
- "The Changing Face of Evil"
- "When It Rains..."
- "Tacking Into the Wind"
- "The Dogs of War"
- "What You Leave Behind"
- "Flashback" (Season Three)
- "Real Life" (hologram only)
- "Day of Honor" (hologram only) (Season Four)
- "The Killing Game" (hologram only)
- "The Killing Game, Part II" (hologram only)
- "Infinite Regress" (Klingon Borg)
- "Someone to Watch Over Me" (photo only)
- "Barge of the Dead" (dream only) (Season Six)
- "Unimatrix Zero" (Klingon Borg)
- "Unimatrix Zero, Part II" (Klingon Borg) (Season Seven)
- "Flesh and Blood" (hologram only)
Background information Edit
- See: Depicting Klingons
In the novel Summon the Thunder, part of the Star Trek: Vanguard series, the Klingons who had a Human appearance (descendants of the victims of the Klingon Augment virus) are referred to as "QuchHa", or "the unhappy ones". They usually served in their own units although they also were known to mix with the rest of the fleet on occasion.
"Against Their Nature", the first installment of "Star Trek: Klingons - Blood Will Tell", an IDW Comics series which tells the stories of "Errand of Mercy", "The Trouble with Tribbles", "A Private Little War", and "Day of the Dove" from the Klingon point of view, suggests that, while Phlox and Antaak's cure removed Augment strength and Augment intelligence, those affected retained the superior ambition of Augments, and as such these Klingons were largely responsible for the Empire's expansion in the century between Enterprise and TOS, eventually becoming powerful enough to achieve a majority on the High Council.
In the novel Pawns and Symbols, Klingons are discovered to be color-blind in the Human sense, unable to distinguish red from black. It is also discovered that their vision extends into the ultraviolet, to 32,000 Ångströms.
In the novel Ishmael, the Klingons are described as having been economically conquered and uplifted by the Karsid empire. The Klingons then rebelled and overthrew the Karsids, obtaining their high technology. This was given as one reason for why the Klingons were the way they were, and also how they could have developed star-faring technology given their current social structure.
In Star Trek Online, most Klingons are once again enemies with the Federation by 2399, having taken advantage of the Romulans by conquering much of their territory in the wake of the death of Shinzon and then the destruction of Romulus. The Klingons have also conquered the Gorn, the Orions, and the Nausicaans. Evidently, Klingons are seen joining Starfleet, if unlocked. The Federation-based mission "Past Imperfect" gives a possible answer to how the Augment virus' alterations was eventually cured by revealing that the mad Klingon Admiral B'Vat had kidnapped Miral Paris and brought her to the past, where they used her Klingon/Human DNA to manufacture a cure.