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Chancellor Gowron
Chancellor Gowron
Founded: circa A.D. 900
Founder: Kahless the Unforgettable
Homeworld: Kronos (Qo'noS)
Capital: First City
Official Language: Klingon (sometimes incorrectly called Klingonese), (see: universal translator)
Currency: darsek
Affiliation: Klingon Empire

Klingons (Klingon: tlhIngan) are a warrior race in the fictional Star Trek universe. They were recurring antagonists in Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) and later became the uneasy allies of the United Federation of Planets.

Created by screenwriter Gene Coon, Klingons were introduced in the episode "Errand of Mercy" (1967). They were named for Lieutenant Wilbur Clingan, who served with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the Los Angeles Police Department.[1]


[edit] Klingon biology

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One-eyed General Martok, a 24th century Klingon who would one day be Chancellor.
One-eyed General Martok, a 24th century Klingon who would one day be Chancellor.

[edit] External

Roughly humanoid in appearance, Klingons typically sport long manes of luxuriant hair with moustaches and beards common among males. Perhaps their most prominent external feature is their ridged forehead. These intricate, bony patterns, conform to the individual's nose, forehead, and on down the spine. The patterns, also visible on their feet and backs, vary by family line and are an evolutionary remnant of their prehistoric crustacean-like forms, when the Klingon ancestor had more extensive exoskeleton.[2] The patterns are less prominant on individuals of mixed parentage, such as K'Ehleyr or B'Elanna Torres.

[edit] Change in appearance

23rd century Klingons descended from victims of the Augment Virus.
23rd century Klingons descended from victims of the Augment Virus.

In the original series (TOS), Klingons were typically portrayed with bronze skin and facial hair suggestive of North Asian peoples, such as the Mongols, and possessed physical abilities similar to humans (in fact, Gene Coon's only physical description of them in his Errand of Mercy script is "Oriental, hard-faced" and a memo further specifies they should be 'the Ho Chi Minh type'). For Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Klingons were "reimagined" or retconned and were depicted with ridged foreheads, greater physical strength, new uniforms, and a distinctive language. Gene Roddenberry said the movie era Klingons are closer to his original vision, but could not be realized in a low-budget television show[citation needed].

There appeared to be four distinct varieties of the "original" Klingons throughout the various Star Trek series. [3] In TOS, there appeared two "races:" some who were pale with neatly groomed hair and others much darker (an olive-bronze), with thick, bifurcated eyebrows. The two never appeared together. The differences in the two phenotypes may explain, in part, Dr. McCoy's immediate lack of knowledge of Klingon anatomy when he tried to save Chancellor Gorkon in 2293.

These races were based on the various makeup forms viewed during the run of TOS, the TOS film series, and the "Next Generation" Klingons. In TOS, the Klingons shown lacked ridges on their heads, were olive-bronze (a minority were of a paler complexion; see previous paragraph above). The second "race" were the "Mark Lenard" Klingons, shown in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. They were tall, thin in build, with both a single crested ridge extending over their partially bald heads and an occipital bun on the rear of their skulls (some fans refer to these Klingons as either specially bred "Battle-Class" Klingons, or derisively as "Duck's ass" Klingons, based on their haircuts). The third Klingon "race" was represented by General Chang in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. This Klingon was only slightly ridged in the center of the forehead, lacking the "normal" side ridges. They were largely hairless except for a small wisp at the back of the skull and (in males) a small goatee. The fourth "race," and most common shown in Star Trek, are the triple-ridged or "Worf"-type. These Klingons have individualized or clan-based ridge patterns, ranging from the slight "webbed" ridge pattern of Colonel Worf of Star Trek VI, to the craggy triple ridges of the Emperor Kahless (clone).

The Worf-type Klingons were first portrayed by Lady Valkris and Lord Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. They became retconned as the main type of Klingon with The Next Generation, and in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The canonical explanation was revealed in a two-part storyline on Star Trek: Enterprise ("Affliction" and "Divergence") which aired on February 2005.

In an earlier series of episodes, the Augments, humans grown from genetically engineered embryos from the Eugenics Wars of the late 20th century, were defeated by Captain Jonathan Archer and the Enterprise NX-01 in Klingon space. The Klingon High Council feared that Starfleet was developing armies of Augments and that they would pose a serious threat to the Empire's existence. Even when they were told by the Vulcan High Command that the Augments were created without Starfleet's knowledge or consent, they remained suspicious and so decided to fight fire with fire. The Klingons gained access to the genetic material of the human Augments, and wanted to adapt this genetic engineering to augment their own species. The experiment did not work correctly; at first, subjects did gain increased strength and intelligence, but their nervous systems could not handle the strain and they died. One of the test subjects had a virulent flu, which — combined with the genetic changes wrought by the experiment — became a deadly, airborne plague that spread rampantly across the Empire, from world to world, causing the physical changes to change them into the human-looking Klingons of Kirk's day.

Dr. Phlox of the Enterprise NX-01 formulated a cure for the virus, however not before millions of Klingons were physically altered. And owing to the genetic nature of the virus, these alterations were passed to succeeding generations of offspring.

In addition to the change in appearance that the Klingons underwent, Phlox also mentioned "some minor synaptic re-ordering." This could explain why the TOS Klingons behaved very differently from the rest. TOS Klingons did not possess the gutteral brutishness of later Klingons. This is particularly evident in the character Koloth, who cowered away from Kirk at the end of "The Trouble With Tribbles" but was less cowardly in "Blood Oath." In "Divergence" a female Klingon also stated that she "felt fear for the first time since I was a child... we have become weak like them (humans)" which also supports the idea that the virus/cure affected their personalities as well.

The Klingons were apparently so embarrassed by the fallout from this disaster, that they absolutely refused under any circumstances to discuss the incident with outsiders in later years. There is also evidence, illustrated by the ignorance of members of the Deep Space Nine crew who encounter human-like Klingons during time travel into the past [4] that knowledge of the change might have become lost to mankind over time. When Worf was asked about the origin of the human-looking Klingons, he simply replied that it was something that Klingons "do not discuss with outsiders." Bashir and O'Brien ponder possible causes between themselves, genetic engineering and mutated virus, both of which were shown to be the cause. The Enterprise storyline also indicates that an early form of the Starfleet intelligence service Section 31 was somehow involved in the transformation of the Klingons.

Phlox indicated that "someday" the physical alterations could be reversed.

The episode "Divergence" revealed that not all Klingons were affected by the virus. No canon explanation has yet been offered to suggest why only the humanlike Klingons were seen in The Original Series, save for statements made in "Divergence" that the genetically altered version of the race would be stronger and more intelligent, suggesting they may have been desirable soldiers in later Klingon/Federation conflicts. The Klingons in Star Trek: The Motion Picture were the first Klingon crew that was shown to be dealing with something other than the Federation, so there is no evidence proving these particular Klingons had ever been afflicted. Other possible explanations include the idea that by the time the cure to the virus had been administered to all Klingons, every last one was infected by the virus so that they would have been changed somewhat by the virus anyway. This could also explain the "darker-skinned" Klingon observation stated above. The darker Klingons could have been descendants of Klingons that had only been in the initial stages of alteration when they were cured, so that they retained their more natural pigmentation. It is also possible that some Klingons used cosmetic surgery to restore their pre-alteration appearance.

In the Star Trek: Vanguard novel Summon the Thunder, the humanlike Klingons are called QuchHa', or the unhappy ones. They usually serve in their own units, although sometimes they are known to mix with the rest of the fleet personnel.

All attempts at retconning aside, the changes in Klingon appearance can best be explained by an inconsistent treatment of pre-existing material by the series' and movies' writers. Fans have followed several variations of both canon and non-canon sources to produce Klingons with varied fusions, mixtures and heritages. These are portrayed in fiction, fan-produced films, and in professional fiction, such as The Final Reflection and How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford and Kahless by Michael Jan Friedman.

[edit] Internal

Most Klingon body functions incorporate multiple redundancies, such as redundant stomachs, lungs, livers, an eight-chambered heart (although the Star Trek Medical Reference Manual shows a three-chambered heart), and twenty-three ribs. [5] This characteristic, known as "brak'lul," [5] makes Klingons incredibly resilient. Klingon ribs are arranged in a latticework; the structure might be compared to chainmail. Klingon teeth are typically serrated, with multiple edges and ridges.

Mr. Spock once said Klingons lack tear ducts, although Klingon myth states that Kahless once filled the ocean with his tears. The Klingon expected lifespan is at least 150 years (in one movie novelization it was stated that Klingons were "old" at 45 and aged much quicker than humans). However, it is typical that male Klingons die young while in battle and not of natural causes.

[edit] Reproduction

Klingon pregnancies run 30 weeks.[6] The process of giving birth can sometimes take several days. Interbreeding is possible with Betazoids [7], humans [8], Romulans [9], and with medical intervention, Trills [10]. Klingon traits remain dominant over several generations.

[edit] Blood

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country depicts Klingons having lavender blood, but all other depictions of Klingon blood have been red like human blood. Director Nicholas Meyer explained in the DVD commentary that the reason for the blood being colored pink was because in the original filming it was meant to be colored red but censors argued that doing so made the film too gory and would necessitate an "R" rating. Changing the color of the blood to pink satisfied the censors, as it no longer resembled human blood, and the film was able to be rated as "PG-13." Meyer saw no need to explain the color of the blood since Klingons were not human and there was no reason to assume their blood would be the same color.

Despite this behind-the-scenes explanation, the reason why some Klingons have been seen to have pink or violet blood and other red, human-like blood has not been specifically explained in the canon of the Star Trek series or novels. Fans have suggested a number of theories.

In Star Trek universe terms, the violet blood may have resulted from a unique atmospheric gas mix on the Klingon vessel - as suggested by the renegade boarding party's need to wear environmental suits, rather than merely wearing disguises. However, Colonel Worf noticed that the slain Colonel West did not have Klingon blood, so they realized that the Klingon appearance was a disguise. (Note that this was in supplemental footage, not included in the original film release.) This indicates that at the time, red was not the normal Klingon blood color.

Another widely discussed possibility is that the color change was a side-effect of the Augment Virus. (The mundane reason behind the issue is that violet blood allowed Star Trek VI to maintain a PG rating rather than something more restrictive. It also facilitates discerning Klingon blood from other species' blood without the aid of a tricorder or similar means; Colonel Worf makes this distinction during the movie's dénouement.)

[edit] Culture

Main article: Klingon culture

[edit] Government

Main article: Klingon High Council

As of 2369, the Klingon people and their interstellar empire became governed by the oligarchic Klingon High Council and a figurehead emperor, although in the past the emperor's role was much more powerful. The Klingon political state is referred to as the Klingon Empire, although the name "Imperial Klingon Empire" was used once.[11]

[edit] Legal System

Main article: Klingon law

[edit] History of the Klingon Empire

[edit] Prehistory

Billions of years ago, the first sentient humanoids in the Milky Way seeded their DNA across the galaxy, mixing it with local DNA[12]. Klingons, therefore, developed partly from the indigenous prehistoric life on Kronos and partly from alien DNA.

Little is known of the Klingons before the establishment of the Empire. Their religion states that the first Klingons destroyed the gods who created them. Klingon physiology with its redundancies and great strength is ideal for military operations. These characteristics suggest the Klingons were at one time a vassal race. This is non-canonically supported by the events of the Star Trek novel Kahless; alternating chapters are set in the 'present' (ie, the 24th Century) and many centuries prior, while Kahless still lived and roamed the Klingon homeworld in a 'feudal' lifestyle.

[edit] 1st millennium

Kahless the Unforgettable
Kahless the Unforgettable

The Klingon Empire was founded circa 900 AD on the Klingon homeworld of Qo'noS by Kahless the Unforgettable when, according to dialog in the Deep Space Nine episode "The Sword of Kahless", he slew the tyrant Molor with the first bat'leth.

The Empire went through several dynasties of rulers, experiencing a period between the 2nd and 3rd known as the "Dark Time", a 10-year experiment in democracy.

Around the 14th century, Qo'noS was invaded by the Hur'q, who pillaged many treasures, including the sword of Kahless.

The Klingons eventually expelled the Hur'q, which is the Klingon word for "outsider", from their homeworld. According to "The Klingon Empire: A History in Brief", found in the official Star Trek Klingon Academy Cadet Manual (page 163), the Klingons gleaned their advanced technology from the invaders, and used it to expand their empire into space. If the Klingon designs were in fact stolen, and not developed on their own, this might explain why Klingon technology seems to advance so little during the ensuing centuries compared to other planets, such as Earth. It also explains how such a warlike and anti-intellectual civilization was able to develop warp drive, in that they reverse engineered it from the technology of an invading race.

By 2069 the High Council was formed, eliminating the position of Emperor until 2369.

[edit] 22nd century

Around the early part of the 22nd century, the warrior class began exerting a greater influence throughout Klingon society, radically altering, notably, the justice system.

In 2151, a faction in the Temporal Cold War from the 28th century attempted to alter the timeline by using the Suliban Cabal to incite unrest within the Klingon Empire. This resulted in the first contact between Klingons and Humans and sparked the first voyage of the Warp 5 vessel, Enterprise. Concurrent with this mission, Enterprise communications officer Hoshi Sato became the first known human to learn the Klingon language. Although initially positive, the relationship between Starfleet and the Klingon Empire remained on shaky ground during the first few years of contact, with Enterprise being fired upon by a Klingon battle cruiser only a few weeks after the vessel's trip to the Klingon homeworld[13]. By 2152-53, Captain Jonathan Archer had become a fugitive from Klingon justice, and at one point Enterprise destroyed a Klingon vessel carrying the then-head of the House of Duras who was pursuing the fugitive. The long-term fallout from this has yet to be revealed in canon, although the crew of Enterprise redeemed themselves somewhat in 2154 by helping the Empire stop the Augment Virus from becoming fatal.

[edit] 23rd century

Around 2218, relations between the Empire and the United Federation of Planets degenerated substantially, with intense hostility lasting until 2293.

In 2266, war between the Federation and Klingon Empire is stopped before it can begin by the interference of the Organians. The Organian Peace Treaty forced on both sides holds each to a non-aggression pact and an establishment of a neutral zone in which each side must nonviolently compete for trade agreements with any planets. The Organian influence, frequently mentioned during the original series, completely disappears in the movies, for reasons that have yet to be explained.

In 2267 the Klingons and the Romulans forged a military alliance and the Klingons traded several D7 battlecruisers in exchange for cloaking technology[14]. The basis for this alliance was grounded in real-world economics; the script called for a Romulan ship to appear, but the original Romulan ship model was not available so rather than go to the expense of building a new one, the Klingon D7 model was substituted.

In 2293 the atmosphere of Kronos (Qo'noS) was contaminated when Praxis, one of its moons, and its primary mining facility, exploded. This event was a turning point in relations between the Klingons and the United Federation of Planets, as the Klingon Empire could not afford to maintain their excessive military activities and deal with this new problem (parallels with the breakdown of the Cold War and the relationship between the United States and the cash-strapped former Soviet Union were obvious). Thus the two powers entered into an alliance, which was maintained for many years -- until the Cardassian invasion of 2372. The resolution to the Kronos atmosphere issue is yet to be explained. Though a planet Kronos is shown to still be inhabited and still the Empire's seat of power well into the 24th Century, differences between both appearance and distance from Earth in various incarnations of Star Trek taking place both before and after this event may indicate the capital was moved to a new planet, maintaining the old name. It is, however, unclear whether this was in fact the intended implication, or merely the result of continuity errors.

[edit] 24th century

In 2344 the Klingons and Romulans began a violent war after the Romulans attacked the Klingon outpost Narendra III. The Enterprise-C cemented friendly relations between the Klingon Empire and the Federation by sacrificing itself to protect the outpost from the Romulans.

By 2346, the Romulans, with aid from the Duras, carried out a particularly brutal attack on the Khitomer Outpost.

In 2357, Worf (played by Michael Dorn), Son of Mogh, and himself one of two survivors of the Khitomer massacre, became the first Klingon to enter Starfleet Academy. In 2363 he was assigned to the Enterprise-D as relief conn and Tactical Officer (Rank: Lieutenant j.g.). He was later reassigned as Chief of Security (Rank: Lieutenant, later Lieutenant Commander).

In 2367 the Klingon Civil War began following Chancellor K'mpec's assassination. Before his murder, K'mpec had named Captain Jean-Luc Picard his Arbiter of Succession. Gowron was selected, but the House of Duras and their supporters opposed this decision, and the war began. It was later revealed that the Romulans were backing the Duras. Support quickly fell from their favor, ending the war and leaving Gowron as undisputed leader of the Empire.

In 2369, the position of Emperor was reinstated, when the clone of Kahless inherited the throne with the blessing of the Chancellor and High Council. Titled Kahless II, the Emperor became titular ruler of the Empire at a time when the Empire needed a figurehead. The bulk of power, however, remained in the hands of the High Council.

In 2371, relations between the Klingons and the Federation soured over the issue of the Klingon invasion of Cardassia. When the Federation refused to support the Klingon invasion, Chancellor Gowron withdrew from the Khitomer Accords. For the next year, relations between the two powers were hostile. In 2372 fighting broke out between the two powers. However when the Federation and Klingons discovered that they were being manipulated by the Dominion, an uneasy cease-fire was declared. In late 2372, the Cardassians formally announced they had joined the Dominion, and the Jem'Hadar rapidly forced the Klingons to retreat from Cardassian space, inflicting heavy damage on them. Captain Sisko was able to convince Gowron to reinstate the Alliance.

Again allies, the Klingons and Federation turned their attention to the Dominion and the Cardassians as war against them became inevitable.

When the war began, both the Federation and Klingons fought side-by-side against the Dominion, even though the odds were against them. However, once the Romulans joined them the tide eventually turned against the Dominion. In 2375 the Federation-Romulan-Klingon fleet defeated the Dominion with the assistance of the Cardassian fleet during a final assault on Cardassia Prime. Despite the refusal of Sisko and Ross to drink blood wine with Martok in the Cardassian Central Command, the two powers remained strong allies after the war.

Shortly before the end of the Dominion War, in 2375, Gowron took direct control of the Klingon fleet (a position held up until that point by the successful General Martok) because he was concerned that Martok was becoming too popular among both the troops and the civilian population from his wartime success. Since new Chancellors can ascend to that position by killing the former Chancellor, Gowron feared that Martok would challenge him for his position. And since Gowron was much more of a politician than a general, the Klingon fleet began to take unnecessary losses which Gowron manipulated to appear to be the fault of Martok. Commander Worf, disgusted with Gowron for using bad tactics in the war simply to hurt Martok's political position, challenged the Chancellor in a meeting to ritual combat and defeated him (actually killing Gowron in the process). By the traditions of the Empire, Worf had the right to become the next Chancellor if he wished, but instead granted the role to Martok, having no desire for a political position himself, although Martok would shortly thereafter have Worf become the UFP's Ambassador to the Klingon Empire. Ironically, Martok never had any designs on Gowron or his position, even accepting the unpopular position in which Gowron had placed him without questioning his orders.

[edit] Possible future

The Klingons will not recover from the losses they suffered during the Dominion War until 2385, according to a 2375 estimate by Section 31.

In Crewman Daniels' timeline, the Klingons join the Federation by about 2554.

[edit] Alternate timelines

A few episodes featuring alternate timelines have shown a variety of developments in Klingon history and politics.

  • In the future timeline of "All Good Things", relations between the Federation and the Empire have degraded, as Geordi states that current relations are "not too cozy". In this timeline, the Klingons have also taken control of the Romulan Star Empire.
  • The Deep Space Nine episode The Visitor gives an alternate history for the events after the beginning of season 4 of that series, where the Klingons occupied Deep Space Nine, and the Federation-Dominion conflict never occurred. The episode takes places over a number of decades, and the political climate of the Empire seems to change several times.
  • As depicted in the TNG episode Yesterday's Enterprise, an alternate timeline was formed when the Enterprise-C entered a temporal anomaly instead of being destroyed by the Romulans at Narendra III. In this alternate timeline, the Federation and the Klingons have been at war for decades, with the Federation close to losing.
  • While not an alternate timeline exactly, the Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribble-ations features the disgraced Klingon outcast Arne Darvin attempting to change history, and make himself a Klingon hero. His attempts are thwarted, and it seems that almost no changes were made to the timeline as a result of his actions - other than that Tribbles were no longer extinct (and even this could be a result of the Defiant crew accidentally bringing some back to the future with them, rather than a change in the timeline).
  • In the Mirror Universe, the Klingons formed an alliance with the Cardassians to overthrow the Terran Empire. This Alliance is the major political force in the Alpha Quadrant throughout the Deep Space Nine episodes visiting the Mirror Universe.

[edit] Klingon leadership

  • Molor
  • Kahless the Unforgettable (Founds Empire c. 900)
  • Emperor Reclaw (last of the 2nd Dynasty)[15]
  • "Dark Time" (10-year democratic period between 2nd & 3rd dynasties)
  • Emperor Reclaw II (first of the 3rd Dynasty)[16]
  • Emperor Sompek (Despotic ruler who waged genocidal wars against his enemies).[17]
  • Chancellor M'Rek (2154)[18]
  • Chancellor Gorkon (died 2293)
  • Chancellor Azetbur (beginning 2293)
  • Chancellor Mow'ga (2nd Empire)[19]
  • Chancellor K'mpec (died 2366)
  • Chancellor Gowron (2366-2375)
  • Emperor Kahless II (ceremonial ruler)
  • Chancellor Worf (for a few minutes in 2375)
  • Chancellor Martok (2375-2391)

[edit] References

  1. ^ Alexander, David (1994). Star Trek Creator. 
  2. ^ "Genesis" (TNG, 1994)
  3. ^ The Evolution of Klingon Foreheads, by Bernd Schneider and Jörg Hillebrand (accessed 14 June 2006)
  4. ^ Trials and Tribble-ations
  5. ^ a b "Ethics" 23 ribs, 2 livers, and an 8-chambered heart are listed by Dr. Russel, a guest neurologist on the Enterprise to help aid in Worf's crushed vertebrae
  6. ^ "Lineage" (VOY, 2001)
  7. ^ "Parallels", (TNG, 1993)
  8. ^ "The Emissary", (TNG, 1989)
  9. ^ "Birthright", (TNG, 1993)
  10. ^ "Children of Time", (DS9, 1997)
  11. ^ "Sins of the Father" (TNG, 1990). It is likely the "imperial" was dropped because of its obvious redundancy.
  12. ^ "The Chase" (TNG, 1993)
  13. ^ "Unexpected" (ENT, 2001)
  14. ^ "The Enterprise Incident" (TOS, 1968)
  15. ^ http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Reclaw
  16. ^ http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Reclaw
  17. ^ http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Sompek
  18. ^ http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/M%27Rek
  19. ^ http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Mow%27ga

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Klingon edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Klingon edition of Wiktionary, the free dictionary/thesaurus
Wikibooks has more about this subject: