Millennia ago, the Talosians were engaged in a war so devastating that it rendered the surface of Talos IV uninhabitable. The survivors retreated underground, where they concentrated on developing their mental abilities, to the extreme that, while they became extremely advanced telepaths, other skills, such as the maintenance of the machines left behind by their ancestors, had atrophied. By the twenty-third century, the planet's surface was only just beginning to support life once again.
In 2236, the S.S. Columbia disappeared after checking in near the Talos Star Group, where it crashed on Talos IV. Only one member of the expedition, Vina, survived, and while the Talosians were able to repair her body's injuries, they were unfamiliar with Human anatomy, and she was left disfigured. Nearly twenty years later, in 2254, the Talosians lured the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 to Talos IV. The Talosians captured Captain Pike, hoping to use him and Vina as breeding stock to help repopulate their world. With a lifespan "many times" that of Humans, they planned to carefully guide Pike and Vina's offspring, and thousands of Talosians actively scanned Pike's mind during his captivity. Their plan failed when they realized that Humans were too aggressive a species for their needs. They let Pike and the Enterprise go, but Vina chose to stay behind.