- For other uses, see Progenitor.
The Progenitors were an ancient alien species that were the first form of life that existed in the galaxy.
Arising into sentience, they explored space but found no race like their own. Thus, they seeded many planetary environments with a DNA code that would lead to the further development of Humanoid based lifeforms. (TNG episode: "The Chase")
At some unknown point in the distant past, they created the Undercity on the planet Ba'ku where they began a period of research at the Institute in order to manipulate their genetic structure to better themselves far beyond normal evolution. This led to the inadvertent creation of the Xenophore Seed which turned against its makers that led to the Xenophore War. Ultimately, the Progenitors managed to prevail against the Xenophore and exterminated it but at the cost of their own civilization. Among those infected with the genetic plague was Xa'tal who was left in stasis on Ba'ku in the hopes that she could eventually be cured of her infection. (TNG video game: Hidden Evil)
It was speculated that the ancient race died out due to an early invasion by the dark matter-based lifeform known as the Totality and that they were responsible for the creation of the galactic barrier. (TOS novel: Captain's Glory)
During the 2360s, Professor Richard Galen uncovered evidence of the ancient humanoid race along with a program that was a message from the Progenitors. This required the collection of genetic samples from numerous species, a task that the Klingon, Cardassian and Romulan peoples also engaged in, as they believed that message would be a great technological advance for them. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a former student of Galen's, completed the find after the Professor's death, which led to the viewing of a message from the Progenitors that explained their past. (TNG episode: "The Chase")
Later, in 2376, Admiral Ratok of the Romulan Star Empire along with his colleagues managed to decipher the warnings of the Progenitors within their own DNA. This led to Ratok and his fellow Romulans staging a secret strike against Ba'ku where they journeyed into the Undercity to claim the Xenophore with the intention of creating a new Romulan hegemony. After eliminating Xa'tal, Ratok claimed the Xenophore Seed in order to weaponize the organism for his own uses but he was defeated by Ensign Sovok along with the crew of the USS Enterprise-E. (TNG video game: Hidden Evil)
- The novel Federation by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens also conflates the Preservers and ancient Progenitors, which carried over into their later works with William Shatner, most notably in the Preserver novel.