In at least two Star Trek episodes, a "Lee Kuan" is mentioned in the same breath as very well-known imperialists (Alexander, Caesar, Hitler, to name a few). One episode is Season 3, Episode 14 (Whom Gods Destroy), and the previous one is Season 2, Episode 21 (Patterns of Force). Googling leads me to Lee Kuan Yew, who was leader of Singapore during that time. But Lee Kuan Yew doesn't seem to be like Alexander, Caesar or Hitler, in that there seems to be no imperialistic aggression towards other nations (looking at the Wikipedia article on Military history of Singapore). So who is this Lee Kuan? Is he fictional?

  • When Spock first lists of the names, he's hopping through history, so it would make sense that Lee Kuan would be from a time that hadn't happened yet from a 1960s perspective, but still be in their past.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 14:37
  • Note that Chinese name the family first. So his name would be "Mr. Lee", or to his friends, "KwanYew". The term "Lee Kuan" would never be used, any more than "Marian Smith" would be called "Ian Smith". Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


Remember that Star Trek takes place in the future and not everyone mentioned has existed. If you ever have questions, I strongly encourage you to check out Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wikia.

From Memory Alpha Wikia (information from direct Star Trek canon):

Lee Kuan was a noted Human historical political despot on Earth sometime between the mid-20th and the 23rd century, who ultimately failed at his goals of conquest and absolute power.

Spock put him in one line with Ramses, Julius Caesar, Alexander, Napoléon Bonaparte, and Hitler to show that Earth history is full of men seeking absolute power. (TOS: "Patterns of Force")

Fleet Captain Garth of Izar boasted to Captain James T. Kirk that as Master of the Universe, he would go much farther and have more success than other previous despots such as Lee Kuan, Alexander, Caesar, Napoléon, Hitler, and Krotus. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")

From Memory Beta Wikia (information from licensed Star Trek works):

Lee Kuan was a noted Human historical political despot on Earth during the early-to-mid 21st Century, who ultimately failed at his goals of conquest and absolute power.

In the year 2031, Kuan helped to strengthen the Eastern Coalition (also known as the ECON), an alliance of Asian nations politically opposed to the United States and its allies. By 2051, Kuan held the rank of general in the ECON armed forces, at which point he overthrew the emerging democracy. He launched an attack on the Americas, joined by the Pacific nations.

  • I think it makes more sense now. At the time of Patterns of Force, I must have confused Krotus with another despot previously shown in the series (Kodos?) and thought every name mentioned so far was a known real or fictional character. Lee Kuan seemed to be an exception.
    – muru
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 4:20
  • 1
    Clearly a quiet dig at the real Lee Kuan Yew, IMO. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 14:17
  • @Randal'Thor but LKY was staunchly pro-Western, so they'd have no reason to make such digs (if they'd even have heard of him).
    – RonJohn
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 3:21
  • This is actually a fairly common occurrence in Star Trek (and SciFI generally). Lt. McGivers has several portraits of historic conquerors in her quarters, including Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte and Khan Noonien Singh. Janeway tells Tom that by being the first man to breach the Warp 10 barrier, he'll be joining the ranks of Orville Wright, Neil Armstrong, and Zefram Cochrane. "Genesis is going to work. They'll remember you in one breath with Newton, Einstein, Surak". STII:WoK tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FamousFamousFictional
    – Shane
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 5:56

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