One of history's most notorious dictators, Khan Noonien Singh was a genetically-bred "superman" of Earth's India in the late 20th century. Khan died in the 23rd century amid another "experiment" gone wrong. Rising to power among others of his kind, his ambition helped further the Eugenics Wars, which involved much of Earth's Third World. Finally facing defeat, he and dozens of followers escaped in the S.S. Botany Bay, a DY-100 vessel modified as a sleeper ship. The Botany Bay drifted through intersteller space for over two centuries, until 2267, when it was discovered by the U.S.S. Enterprise. With his fellow survivors, Khan attempted to seize that starship but failed, and he and his people were sentenced by Captain James T. Kirk to tame the wild M-Class world of Ceti Alpha V. Among those exiled was Lt. Marla McGivers, an Enterprise historian who fell in love with Khan and initially assisted him. Ultimately, she refused to betray Kirk and her shipmates during the tyrant's abortive takeover.
On Ceti Alpha V, the band of refugees thought their dream of conquering an entire planet would come true, but six months after being left there, the star system's sixth planet exploded, and the shockwave wreaked havoc on Ceti Alpha V's ecosystem, making it a desert wasteland.
In 2285, the embittered Khan commandeered the U.S.S. Reliant and hijacked the top-secret Genesis Device in a plan to exact vengeance against James T. Kirk. Khan failed to defeat his old foe, and died when he detonated the matter-reorganizing, terraforming device, thus annihilating the Reliant and Khan along with it.