The Organians are a race of powerful non-corporeal beings that live on the planet Organia. For ten thousand years, they observed a planet that contained a silicon-based virus, and the reactions of species that encountered it, in an attempt to find a species with a higher level of intelligence. Among the species which the Organians observed as they attempted to deal with this deadly virus were the Klingons and the Cardassians.
In 2154, the Enterprise NX-01 investigated a Klingon waste site on the planet, and a landing party consisting of Commander Charles Tucker and Ensign Hoshi Sato contracted the virus. Following their protocol of non-interference, two Organian observers watched the crew's reaction to the situation by inhabiting the bodies of crew members, and subsequently altering their memories so that they had no recollection of the Organians' actions. One of the two observers (apparently the more senior of the two) felt that the Organians' protocols should be followed strictly; the other, who was impressed by the humans' compassion, felt that the time had come for the protocols to be altered. This being argued that intelligence alone was not a sufficient measure of a species' worthiness to be contacted. The senior observer initially occupied the body of Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, while his associate occupied the body of Ensign Travis Mayweather. All of the senior staff of Enterprise were possessed by the observers at one point or another.
After a period of rapid deterioration, both Tucker and Sato died from the virus. However, at the moment of Tucker's death, the junior Organian inhabited his body and communicated his admiration to Captain Jonathan Archer, who had become infected himself in an effort to save his crewmen. He explained his mission to Archer, who pled for the Organians to save his crew members — to experience compassion, not merely observe it. Although it was a violation of their protocols, the Organians complied and revived Tucker and Sato, as well as eliminating the virus from their systems and Archer's. The crew of the Enterprise NX-01 retained no memory of their interactions with the Organian observers. Before they left, the junior Organian told his superior that they should begin preparations for an offical first contact mission. (ENT: "Observer Effect")
The Organians later took the appearance of a simple pre-industrial humanoid society for the purpose of interaction with other lifeforms. Based on the preliminary Federation surveys, the Organian society rated a class D-minus on the Richter Scale of Culture. When Organia was invaded by the Klingons at the start of the first Federation-Klingon War in 2267, Captain James T. Kirk and his first officer, Spock, attempted to convince the apparently-primitive Organians to accept Federation protection. The Organians seemed completely unconcerned with external affairs, almost to the point of apathy. It was only when Kirk and Spock began conducting a guerilla war against the Klingon occupation that the Organians abandoned their false humanoid forms and intervened, forcing an end to the interstellar war. They imposed the Treaty of Organia, establishing a framework for interaction between the two enemies, predicting that, in time, they would eventually become friends. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")
The Organians demonstrated a number of abilities. At least one of them, Trefayne, was aware of events at great distances, reporting that space vehicles had assumed orbit about his world and that men had beamed down. Ayelborne was able to move through a crowded citadel without attracting the attention of anyone there. He was able to prevent the Klingons from returning to the Council chamber to search for Kirk and Spock, whom he had rescued from the citadel. He was able to appear in at least three places light years apart at the same time, these being his own world, Earth, and Qo'noS. Kirk believed that the Organians made it possible for Spock and himself to enter the Klingon citadel in defiance of long odds against them. Collectively, the Organians were able to neutralize Starfleet and the Klingon fleet, wherever they were. As beings of pure thought, they are either immortal or extremely long-lived; Claymare commented that no one had died on Organia in "uncounted thousands of years".
- They are either impervious or highly resistant to directed energy weapons at settings powerful enough to kill humanoid life. Organians may be more evolved than Sargon and his people, who could move from body to body, but could not survive without a body or other physical container.
- It is unclear exactly what the Organians really looked like, but they stated they had once been humanoid, and had developed beyond the need for physical bodies millions of years earlier, and "that of us which you see ... is mere appearance ... for your sake". Two of them then disappeared, first passing through a state in which they radiated intensely bright light.
Organians consider intervention in the affairs of others to be most disgusting, but felt they had no choice when they imposed the peace treaty in 2267 -- they simply could not watch idly as the Federation and the Klingons slaughtered each other and perhaps others. They find the discordant emotions of less evolved beings highly painful. As a gesture of hospitality to visitors, they create conventional points of reference -- physical bodies for themselves, buildings, and other objects. In 2267, the setting they created was reminiscent of a primitive agrarian community.
- Although the Organian peace treaty was occasionally mentioned in TOS, we never saw the Organians themselves again. It is not certain what happened to them in later years; the negotiations and politics portrayed in Star Trek IV and Star Trek VI suggest that they were no longer interfering in Federation-Klingon affairs. This is consistent with their declared view that such interference was most disgusting; it is possible that additional debate on the matter within their community diluted the will that permitted them to override this disgust in 2267.