The term originated from the Bene Gesserit's prescient powers, and their inability to venture into a specific region of prescience knowledge. This region, though mysterious in nature, was known to be unattainable to females. Specifically, the spice melange allowed the Bene Gesserit to unlock genetic memory, but only on the female side. For reasons unknown, they could not see into the male side, and the very thought of trying was terrifying to them. Further, melange also exposed the Sisterhood (and others) to a very limited form of prescience - thoughts, feelings, images into the very near future, but no more.
Attempts to Create the Kwisatz HaderachEdit
The Bene Gesserit desire to uncover this knowledge and its associated powers drove them to initiate a long-running genetic breeding program that would yield a male with mental powers capable of bridging space and time, and that he would be under direct control of the Sisterhood. The Bene Gesserit knew that, not only would their Kwisatz Haderach possess Other Memory on both the male and female side, but that he would be able to predict the future precisely. He would be Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, Mentat, and Navigator, all in one being.
After the emergence of this male - Paul Atreides - the term Kwisatz Haderach was also understood as meaning "one who can be many places at once", and became synonymous with Paul. In time it also came to encompass his sister, Alia, and his son Leto II, since they all had similar abilities.
The initial Bene Gesserit plan was to breed the daughter of Duke Leto I to a Harkonnen male, which would produce the Kwisatz Haderach. This was to be the culmination of more than 10,000 years of careful breeding. This plan would have seen the end of the centuries-old feud between the Great Houses House Atreides and Harkonnen, and placed a prescient, Bene Gesserit-controlled male on the Golden Lion Throne, the Kwisatz Haderach. However, because of her love for Duke Leto, the Lady Jessica disobeyed her fellow Bene Gesserit and gave birth to a son instead of a daughter, to give him an heir, Paul.
It seemed fairly certain from early in Paul's life that he would in fact be the Kwisatz Haderach, since he showed an ability to see into the future. At twelve, he escaped an assassination attempt by House Moritani against himself while he and Duncan Idaho fled in the jungles of the Eastern Continent of planet Caladan. At age fourteen, he saved the life of Governor Kio while on Balut, at the famed Theater of Shards.
So, at fifteen years of age that the Bene Gesserit sent a Reverend Mother to test Paul's prescience and his training in the Bene Gesserit ways. This event appeared to be a significant catalyst for the events that would befall the universe for the next several thousand years, since Paul's testing with the Gom Jabbar, as well as the Sisterhood's silent complicity in his father's death, proved to instill significant negativity in Paul against the Sisterhood. As a result, when he reached young adulthood, and ascended to the Golden Lion Throne, he vowed that he would never be under the control of the Sisterhood. As a result, the Sisterhood lost control of their breeding program, their Kwisatz Haderach, and the possibility of placing a Bene Gesserit on the throne.
During the Ascension of House Atreides, the Bene Tleilaxu also tried to breed their own Kwisatz Haderach, and named him Thallo. However, faced with being trapped by his own destiny, and realizing he was a Kwisatz failure through Prescience, Thallo tried to kill the population of the city of Thalidei through mass genocide and then commit suicide, before being killed by Marie Fenring.
Paul Leaves the Golden PathEdit
Indeed, it appeared that the majority of people did not realise that to know the future is to be trapped by it. Paul could see that he would have to lead humanity onto a drastic course in order for it to escape its own annihilation. As a result, he chose to escape the Golden Path by allowing himself to be blinded, so that he could walk into the desert and not be a burden on his tribe. The mantle of the Golden Path was subsequently taken up by Leto II.
Kwisatz Haderach's ImpactEdit
As Kwisatz Haderach, both Paul and his son Leto would at times experience significant grief because they knew they were trapped by their own destinies. One of the few people who understood this was in fact one of Paul's enemies. It was through the failed Tleilaxu Kwisatz Haderach 'experiment' that the Tleilaxu Master Scytale could in fact sympathise with Paul and the decisions he had to make.
When Leto II, the next Kwisatz Haderach, ascended to the throne, not only did he manage to avoid Bene Gesserit control, but he also took control of their breeding program, and relegated them to a relatively insignificant role in the universe throughout the 3500 years of his reign.
During the Scattering and ReturnEdit
After the Famine Times promoted by Leto II after his death, the remaining power brokers in the Old Empire either forgot about the concept of the Kwisatz Haderach, or vehemently guarded against the rise of another of the super-beings. The Bene Gesserit would go so far as to terminate the life of humans that showed aspects of enhanced abilities. But as was shown with the "wild" Atreides line, the heightened human abilities continually showed themselves.
After the The Scattering, both Miles Teg and his daughter Darwi Odrade, descendants of the Atreides, showed super-normal actions. Teg was able to move at lightning-fast speed, and disabled his kidnappers on Gammu. Odrade had limited prescience that enabled her to know that the misguided Honored Matres and Bene Gesserit should merge to form one single organization.
But it was the final ghola of Duncan Idaho which caused the most concern for all involved. The conservative branch of the Sisterhood, led by Schwangyu, would go so far as to disobey the order of the Mother Superior Taraza, and try to terminate the life of a young Duncan ghola -- even as she has sworn to be his protector from the Tleilaxu, who had allied themselves temporarily with the returning Honored Matres.
The Thinking MachinesEdit
When the Thinking Machines, led by Daniel and Marty, tried to capture the fleeing no-ship, the Ithaca, piloted by Duncan Idaho; because they believed the super-being was aboard. Marty/Erasmus believed in "mathematical projections", a type of Thinking Machines prophecy, which enabled him to calculate that the Kwisatz was aboard the vessel, and continually urged Daniel/Omnius to capture the ship in their all powerful tachyon net.
For years the duo were unable to capture the starship, and as a type of backup to this variable, Omnius decided to create a clone of the first verifiable Kwisatz that history knew of -- Paul Atreides. Omnius instructed his Enhanced Face Dancer Khrone to create a clone of Paul, which he did, and to have it raised by a ghola of Vladimir Harkonnen. This ensured that the clone received a disturbed and cruel upbringing; instead of the nurturing and loving rearing given by Jessica Atreides and her husband, Duke Leto Atreides I, to the original Paul. They give their clone the name Paolo.
As decades went by, the Ithaca was finally captured, and brought to Synchrony, where Paul and his ghola-family were taken to Synchrony's capital, in the Cathedral. Omnius was doubly satisfied, as he now believed he had both possible Kwisatz's in the heart of his Empire.
Believing that a duel-to-the-death between Paul and Paolo would provide the strongest possible Kwisatz, Omnius had the two begin their knife-fight. Paolo was victorious over Paul, but overdosed on the prize provided by the Thinking Machine ruler, a chance to ingest the newly discovered ultraspice. This left Paolo writhing in a coma, lost in an infinite loop of prescience, as he slowly starved and thirsted to death. Paul, remembering techniques that he learned thousands of years earlier, brought himself back to health, but realized that he was not the prophesied super-being.
Duncan Idaho, the Ultimate Kwisatz HaderachEdit
As Paul slowly came back to health, Duncan entered the Cathedral on Synchrony. Back from the brink of death, it was then that Paul realized that Idaho was the Ultimate super-being. The Oracle of Time, who had searched for Duncan for almost 30 years appeared, and confirmed that Idaho was the near-perfect human. Over the course of the next few hours, the events of Kralizec unfolded; the banishment of Omnius by the Oracle of Time, the death of all Face Dancers, the survival of human-kind, the stabbing of Harkonnen by a ghola of Dr Wellington Yueh, and the Guild steersman bringing their ships to Synchrony.
As a final test of Duncan's abilities, Erasmus sent thinking machines to kill the nascent Kwisatz. Idaho quickly accelerated to super-human speed, and disabled and destroyed all of the machines. He then began to realize that he had prescient ability, as well.
Erasmus let it be known that all along he had believed that Idaho to be incarnation of the super-being, as Idaho had the ability to understand human-kind, and had been created over and over again over so many generations. Erasmus merged information and machine codes with Idaho's body, creating a type of Other Memory within Idaho, and allowed Idaho to become a new Evermind. His life's goal now complete, Erasmus died.
Duncan then took his place as the final and ultimate Kwisatz Haderach, the force that guided the renewed united thinking machine and human empire to a bright future. No longer would mankind attempt to ban thinking machines, and no longer would machines attempt to enslave or destroy mankind.
But apart from that, Paul is the only one and first Kwisatz Haderach as his prescience was the first and foreknowledged Duncan Idaho, who only fought his drive to machines.