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James T. Kirk

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For the alternate reality counterpart, please see James T. Kirk (alternate reality).
For the mirror universe counterpart, please see James T. Kirk (mirror).
For additional meanings of "James T. Kirk", please see James T. Kirk.

"Don't let them promote you. Don't let them transfer you. Don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship because while you're there, you can make a difference."

- James T. Kirk, 2371

James Tiberius Kirk was arguably the most famous and highly-decorated starship captain in the history of Starfleet. Over the span of three decades in the late 23rd century, he commanded the Template:ShipClass starships USS Enterprise and USS Enterprise-A, serving Federation interests as an explorer, soldier, time-traveler, and diplomat.

Early history

James Tiberius ("Jim") Kirk was a Human descendant of European settlers on Earth's American continent, who pioneered the western frontiers of the United States of America in the 19th century. (TOS: "Spectre of the Gun") He was born on March 22nd, 2233 (Stardate 1277.1), in Iowa on Earth, the son of George and Winona Kirk. His mother and father were serving on board the USS Kelvin under the command of Captain Richard Robau while Winona was pregnant with him. His parents named him after his maternal grandfather, James, and his paternal grandfather, Tiberius. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "The Deadly Years"; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; Star Trek)

See also: Ambiguities
Kodos the Executioner

Gov. Kodos in 2246

In 2246, Kirk was living on the planet Tarsus IV during a food crisis that was starving the colony of eight thousand people. Governor Kodos, sympathetic to old eugenics philosophies, tried to save a portion of his colony by killing the four thousand colonists he deemed least desirable or able to survive. Kodos was unaware of the imminent arrival of relief ships. The thirteen-year-old Jim Kirk was one of only nine eyewitnesses to the massacre. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")

Starfleet Academy

By 2250, Kirk returned to Earth to start his training at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, thanks to some assistance from a man named Mallory. He later credited his father as his inspiration for joining Starfleet. (TOS: "The Apple"; Star Trek)

In his plebe year, Kirk was a participant in the successful peace mission to the planet Axanar. He was awarded the Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission. (TOS: "Court Martial", "Whom Gods Destroy")


Finnegan as he appeared in 2250

Cadet Kirk soon caught the attention of a boisterous, bullying Irishman named Finnegan. The upperclassman evidently hazed "Jamie-boy" mercilessly throughout their shared time at the Academy. Sixteen years later, Kirk's antipathy for Finnegan was strong enough to be sensed by the Shore Leave Planet, which produced a simulacrum that Kirk could pummel for satisfaction. (TOS: "Shore Leave")

Kirk's academic studies introduced him to men he encountered later in his career. Among his more prominent teachers was John Gill, the noted professor of history and cultural observer. Captain Garth of Izar's exploits were required reading for cadets, and the famous captain joined Kirk's pantheon of heroes. Another subject, the "Pasteur of archaeological medicine", Dr. Roger Korby, became a man Kirk wanted to meet. (TOS: "Patterns of Force", "Whom Gods Destroy", "What Are Little Girls Made Of?")

Kirk began a friendship with instructor Lieutenant Ben Finney that continued into their service together aboard the USS Republic. Kirk and underclassman Gary Mitchell became fast friends after Mitchell's admission to the Academy. Mitchell later served under Kirk as helmsman aboard the USS Enterprise. (TOS: "Court Martial", "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

See also: Friendships: Ben Finney, Gary Mitchell
In a line of dialogue from the script of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" that was not included in the episode's final edit, Kirk makes an admission about his time at the Academy, stating, "I sort of leaned on cadets I liked."

During command training, Kirk confronted the Kobayashi Maru scenario, a simulation used to evaluate a student's reactions to a "no-win" battle and rescue situation. Kirk refused to accept his first two defeats. Before his third attempt, Kirk secretly reprogrammed the simulation computer, consequently becoming the only cadet in Academy history to beat the "no-win" scenario, and earning a commendation for original thinking. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Junior officer

Kirk was commissioned as an officer in the Federation Starfleet with the serial number SC937-0176CEC. In the early 2250s, he served as an ensign, along with his friend Lt. Ben Finney, aboard the USS Republic. Finney made a mistake nearly catastrophic to the ship, and the incident was logged by Kirk, resulting in his friend's reprimand and fall to the bottom of the promotion list. (TOS: "Court Martial")

Upon graduating from the Academy, Kirk began service under Captain Garrovick. Kirk's first deep space assignment was as a lieutenant aboard Garrovick's USS Farragut, serving as a tactical officer. (TOS: "Obsession")

As a young lieutenant in 2255, Kirk was assigned to command his first planetary survey mission, on Neural. Kirk met and befriended one of the planet's natives, the Hill man Tyree. His report described a primitive but promising culture, and Starfleet endorsed his recommended policy of non-interference. (TOS: "A Private Little War")

The Farragut engaged the dikironium cloud creature at planet Tycho IV in 2257. Captain Garrovick and two hundred of the ship's crew were killed by the creature. Farragut's record tapes of the event included Lieutenant Kirk insisting upon blaming himself for the disaster, citing his delay in firing the ship's phaser banks at the creature as he lost consciousness. The Farragut's executive officer disagreed, stating, "Lieutenant Kirk is a fine young officer who performed with uncommon bravery." (TOS: "Obsession")

See also: Ambiguities

The USS Enterprise and her five-year mission


The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)

Kirk's Starfleet service through the late 2250s and early 2260s was rewarded with a rapid rise through the ranks. In 2264, at 31 years of age, he was promoted to captain and assumed command of the Template:ShipClass starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), after Christopher Pike.

Kirk famously commanded the Enterprise and her namesake over the course of three decades, but it was her historic five-year mission from 2265 to 2270 that made him a legend in space exploration. In addition to his overall mission statement, "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life, etc.", Kirk received standing orders to investigate all quasars, and quasar-like phenomena. Kirk's living quarters aboard the Enterprise were on Deck 5, room "3F 121". (TOS: "The Galileo Seven", "Journey to Babel"; VOY: "Q2") During this historic mission, Kirk violated the Prime Directive on at least one occasion in order to ensure the survival of the Pelosian race. Years prior to this, Kirk also prevented the extinction of the Baezians and the Chenari. (VOY: "Q2")


Kirk 2265

Kirk in 2265

Kirk's first major step, attempting an extra-galactic probe in 2265, proved to be a disaster. Discovering a recorder-marker from the SS Valiant that described a catastrophic disaster following a visit to the galaxy's edge, Kirk pushed on, and encountered the galactic barrier for his first time. The Enterprise failed to breach the barrier, and barely escaped destruction. With warp engines badly damaged, Enterprise limped under impulse power towards the Delta Vega lithium cracking station. Kirk's helmsman, his best friend Gary Mitchell, began a transformation triggered by the barrier, developing psychic powers that progressed rapidly, with a commensurate loss of his Humanity. Ignoring Spock's advice to destroy Mitchell immediately, Kirk hesitated until after Mitchell killed navigator Lee Kelso. On the surface of Delta Vega, Kirk hunted Mitchell, only able to kill him with the help of another officer undergoing the same transformation as Mitchell, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

Following the tragedy, Kirk shuffled the Enterprise's command crew. Lieutenant Commander Spock, a legacy officer from the former commander, Captain Christopher Pike, remained science officer and Kirk acknowledged him as first officer. A new chief medical officer, Dr. Leonard McCoy replaced Dr. Mark Piper. Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott remained chief engineer. Lieutenant Nyota Uhura became communications officer and Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu was transferred to the helm. Kirk did not settle on a regular navigator for another year.


On stardate 1512.2, Kirk made First Contact with the First Federation, when the Enterprise was detained by Captain Balok and his massive spaceship Fesarius. Both captains bluffed ferociously, but Kirk's poker-face held. Balok proved to be quite friendly, eager to begin a cultural exchange.(TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")

On 1533.6, Kirk and his crew made a brief first contact with the uncanny Thasians. During his encounter with Charlie Evans, Kirk showed his judo prowess as well as his deep-rooted compassion when Charlie's "teachers" wanted to take him back to his isolated existence. (TOS: "Charlie X")


The Romulan commander

Kirk repelled the first Romulan incursion into Federation space in over a century, on stardate 1709.2. Four Earth Outpost Stations along the Romulan Neutral Zone were destroyed by a Romulan Bird-of-Prey equipped with a cloak and a powerful plasma torpedo system. Kirk engaged and pursued the Romulan ship, disabling it before the Romulan commander ordered his ship's self-destruction. Kirk and his bridge crew became the first Starfleet officers to make visual contact with a Romulan, finally revealing their appearance to Starfleet. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

The Enterprise reached Exo III on stardate 2712.4; where Dr. Roger Korby was found after years of silence, exploring and exploiting a sophisticated android manufacturing technology – the legacy of a long-dead civilization. Korby had replaced his own damaged body, transplanting his personality into an android replica, and built himself a beautiful companion, Andrea. After exhibiting madness, the android Korby was destroyed. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?")

On stardate 2817.6, Kirk responded to the call of Thomas Leighton, a fellow survivor and witness to the horror of Tarsus IV. Leighton suspected the leader of a traveling theater troupe, actor Anton Karidian, of being Kodos "the Executioner", a man long thought dead. After Leighton's murder and the revelation of other witnesses' deaths, Kirk convinced Lenore Karidian to bring the acting troupe aboard the Enterprise. Attempted murders of Kirk and Enterprise crewmember Kevin Riley (another survivor) led Kirk to confront Karidian/Kodos, discovering the recent killings were the acts of his mad daughter, trying to protect her tormented aging father. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")

Kirk's command was jeopardized by Spock when he kidnapped his horribly crippled former commander, Fleet Captain Christopher Pike, and commandeered the Enterprise. Spock locked the ship on course to Talos IV before submitting to a tribunal of Kirk, Pike, and Commodore Mendez. Spock's crimes were in violation of General Order 7 and punishable by death. After Spock's ultimate goal was revealed, to allow Pike, a Starfleet hero, to live a semblance of normality under Talosian illusion, Starfleet declined to prosecute the matter. (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I", "The Menagerie, Part II")

When the Enterprise passed through the Omicron Delta region, Kirk hoped to get his crew (and himself) some badly needed shore leave. While Kirk and his landing party investigated a hopeful candidate world, they were beset with manifestations of their hidden desires. In fact, they had discovered the Shore Leave Planet, and the advanced technologies left behind by an ancient, enigmatic species. (TOS: "Shore Leave")


Kirk became the first Federation starship captain to ever face a court martial, after he was accused of causing the death of Lt. Commander Ben Finney, the Enterprise records officer. Kirk employed the defense attorney Samuel T. Cogley, and was prosecuted by his former flame Areel Shaw at his trial on Starbase 11, convened by Commodore Stone. Kirk was exonerated after Finney was discovered alive, having faked both his death and the evidence implicating Kirk. (TOS: "Court Martial")

On 2124.5, the Enterprise was waylaid by a being calling himself "General Trelane (retired), the Squire of Gothos". Though immensely powerful and troublesome, Trelane was revealed to be nothing more than a child of his species, and a badly-behaved one at that.

Kirk made first contact with the Gorn Hegemony and the Metrons on stardate 3045.6. Finding the Federation base on Cestus III destroyed, and Gorn forces lying in wait, Kirk ordered the Enterprise to give chase to Gorn starship responsible, intending to destroy it. The pursuit took the two belligerents through Metron space. The Metrons, pacifistic but powerful, interrupted the engagement and declared both sides were savages. Kirk and the Gorn captain were taken from their respective ships to a desolate planetoid by the Metrons, who forced the two captains to fight each other, threatening to destroy the loser's vessel. Kirk was victorious, but refused to kill the Gorn. The Metrons were impressed by Kirk's act of mercy and allowed both ships to go free. (TOS: "Arena")

Khan Noonien Singh, 2267

Khan in 2267

The Enterprise discovered the SS Botany Bay on stardate 3141.9. The ancient vessel carried a group of genetically-engineered Augments from Earth's Eugenics Wars, kept alive in cryogenic freeze. Their leader, Khan Noonien Singh, seduced the Enterprise ship historian Lieutenant Marla McGivers, revived his comrades, and attempted to steal the starship – before he was foiled by Kirk. Somewhat respectful of Khan's integrity and abilities, Kirk exiled Khan and his people on planet Ceti Alpha V, where the former tyrant would have a chance to "tame a world" without threatening others. (TOS: "Space Seed")

On stardate 3192.1, the Enterprise was caught up in a "civilized" interplanetary war between Eminiar VII and Vendikar, whose engagements were fought only by computers, and marked 'casualties' among the citizenry dutifully reported to death chambers. After the Enterprise was declared a target and the crew ordered to die, Kirk destroyed the Eminiar computers, forcing them to finally treat with their enemy – or face a war that would destroy their civilization. (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon")

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy discovered the first known silicon-based lifeform, a sentient Horta matriarch, on the mining colony Janus VI on stardate 3196.1. (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark")

At the start of the first Federation-Klingon War, Kirk and Spock attempted to convince the apparently-primitive Organians to accept Federation protection. When Kirk and Spock began conducting a guerrilla war against the Klingon occupation, Organians abandoned their false humanoid forms and intervened, forcing an end to the interstellar war, imposing the Treaty of Organia. Organians predicted that, in time, the antagonistic powers would eventually become friends. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")

Responding to the recent silence from the Deneva colony, Kirk found that his brother, George Samuel Kirk, had been killed by a hive-mind of marauding neural parasites and that the colony's remaining population was under their influence, causing mass insanity. McCoy and Spock were able to develop a method of killing the exotic creatures. (TOS: "Operation -- Annihilate!")

By this time in 2267, Kirk had finally settled on Ensign Pavel Chekov as the Enterprise's regular navigator. (TOS: "Catspaw", "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

Kirk diverted the Enterprise from an assigned ceremonial mission on Altair IV to Vulcan on stardate 3372.7, in order to save his first officer from the dangerous effects of his pon farr mating cycle. In the presence of the Vulcan Matriarch, T'Pau, Kirk was forced to participate in Spock's marriage ceremony. (TOS: "Amok Time")

On the planet Halkan,a transporter malfunction swapped the Enterprise landing party with a corresponding landing party from a parallel "mirror universe", where the United Federation of Planets had been replaced with a savage, oppressive, Terran Empire. The ISS Enterprise was captained by a sadistic alternate version of Captain Kirk, whose first officer was a ruthless, bearded Spock. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

A distress call led the Enterprise to the crippled USS Constellation, nearly destroyed by an ancient machine deemed a "planet killer". After the unbalanced Commodore Matthew Decker made a suicide run with a stolen shuttlecraft, Kirk piloted the Constellation inside the machine, detonating the engines and destroying the device. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")

Kirk, Spock and McCoy discovered Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of the warp drive, missing for 150 years, on a planetoid, kept alive and young by the Companion energy being. At Cochrane's request, Kirk did not log the encounter. (TOS: "Metamorphosis")

While visiting a Federation science colony on Gamma Hydra IV, the strange radiation from a rogue comet affected Kirk and members of his party, causing rapid aging. Kirk's accelerated dotage forced the visiting Commodore Stocker to relieve Kirk from command of the Enterprise until a cure was discovered by Dr. McCoy. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")


On stardate 4523.6, the Enterprise was dispatched to Deep Space Station K-7, where Kirk's patience was tested by Klingons, Federation bureaucrats, and the cuddly but prodigious vermin, tribbles. Unknown to Kirk, his actions were observed and facilitated by Benjamin Sisko and the crew of the USS Defiant, brought from the 24th century via a Bajoran Orb; Sisko even got Kirk's autograph (although Kirk thought he was signing a shipping order) and told Kirk that it had been an honor to serve with him. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

Kirk found the contaminated society of Sigma Iotia II, based on 1920s Chicago gang culture, puzzling at first, but he quickly warmed to it. Uniting the world's "gangs" under one "boss", the Iotians became a Federation protectorate. (TOS: "A Piece of the Action")

Kirk and Tyree

On Neural in 2268

Kirk returned to Neural, the site of his first Starfleet assignment, on stardate 4211.4. Klingons had begun supplying the primitive native villagers with firearms, leading them to war on the neighboring Hill People. Kirk decided to supply the hill people with similar weaponry, escalating the conflict, but putting both sides on equal footing. (TOS: "A Private Little War")

After John Gill's failure to report in from his cultural observation mission to Ekos, the Enterprise was assigned to investigate. Kirk found his old professor had developed an idealization of Utopian fascism and had abandoned observation for intervention, creating a Nazi-like world government that overwhelmed Gill's best intentions. Kirk aroused the subverted Gill in time to avert Ekos' impending war with neighboring Zeon, and heard Gill recant his philosophies before he died. (TOS: "Patterns of Force")

Scouts from the Kelvan Empire in the Andromeda Galaxy hijacked the Enterprise for their return voyage on stardate 4657.5. The Enterprise, modified with Kelvan technology, became the first Federation starship known to cross the galactic barrier, briefly leaving the boundary of the Milky Way Galaxy before Kirk and his senior officers overwhelmed the Kelvans and returned to Federation space. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")

Scott recognizes Kirk as Romulan

In Romulan disguise in 2268

Inexplicably to his crew, Kirk began exhibiting bizarre behavior on stardate 5027.3, and ordered the Enterprise across the Romulan Neutral Zone . Three Romulan starships detained the Enterprise, and Kirk and Spock met the Romulan commander aboard her ship, where Kirk's death was faked. The ruse allowed Kirk, surgically altered to look Romulan, to infiltrate the Romulan vessel and steal their cloaking device. Using the device, the Enterprise cloaked and escaped to Federation space, taking along the captured Romulan commander. The entire operation had been designed to give the Federation deniability in case of failure, and place the culpability on Kirk. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident")

On 4842.6, the Enterprise discovered the Amerind planet, where an ancient race, the "Preservers", had transplanted elements of Native American cultures that were endangered in centuries past. When an accident separated Kirk from the landing party and induced his amnesia, Spock was forced to abandon the search, in order to command the Enterprise in the interception of an asteroid on course to hit the planet. For several months, Kirk was worshiped as a god called "Kirok" by the inhabitants, and took a wife. With the return of the Enterprise and the restoration of his memories, Kirk was able to activate an ancient planetary defense mechanism left behind by the Preservers, destroying the approaching asteroid. (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome")

Near Tholian space on stardate 5693.2, the Enterprise discovered the USS Defiant, adrift and its crew dead, trapped in a spatial interphase. Tholian commander Loskene responded to the trespass of "recently annexed" Tholian space. Kirk was lost in the interphase and presumed dead. The Enterprise exchanged fire with the Tholians, and the unstable region incited madness among the crew. A second Tholian vessel joined the engagement, producing a web to ensnare the Enterprise. After various crew members witnessed Kirk's spectral image, he was retrieved from interphase, and the Enterprise used the rift to escape Tholian entrapment. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")



Garth of Izar in 2269

Enterprise visited the Federation asylum on Elba II on stardate 5718.3, where Kirk's longtime hero, Fleet Captain Garth of Izar was committed as a patient. Garth, capable of cellular metamorphosis, attempted to escape and commandeer the Enterprise by assuming the visage of Kirk. Spock was able to determine which man was truly his captain, and Garth was returned to rehabilitation. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")

On stardate 5725.3, the Enterprise encountered a community of non-corporeal energy beings embodying the souls of the last 100 Zetarans. Seeking lifeforms that would allow them to live again, they killed the custodians of Memory Alpha, wiping the Federation's central archive of accumulated knowledge. (TOS: "The Lights of Zetar")

A deadly plague struck the crew of the Enterprise before stardate 5843.7. Seeking a cure on Holberg 917G, Kirk encountered Flint, a near-immortal Human. Born as Akharin, during Earth's 4th millennium BC in Mesopotamia, Flint had later been known as Solomon, Alexander the Great, and Leonardo da Vinci, among other famous identities. Kirk fell in love with Rayna Kapec, an android built by Flint to give him company in his final days of seclusion. A century later, Captain Janeway of the USS Voyager expressed some doubt about this encounter. (TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah"; VOY: "Concerning Flight")

The Enterprise was greeted by an incredibly realistic simulacrum of Kirk's hero, the American President Abraham Lincoln, on stardate 5906.4. On the surface of the planet Excalbia, a silicon-based Excalbian re-created the historical figures Surak, Genghis Khan, Phillip Green, Kahless, and Zora. Kirk, Spock, Lincoln, and Surak were pitted against the others as means for the Excalbians to understand the nature and strength of good versus evil. (TOS: "The Savage Curtain")


After the freighter USS Huron was attacked and looted, the starship Enterprise captured the Orion vessel responsible. The incident marked the end of Orion's official neutrality. (TAS: "The Pirates of Orion")

The Enterprise encountered Kukulkan on stardate 6063.4. The benevolent alien being had periodically visited ancient Earth civilizations and influenced their architecture and agricultural development. Kukulkan revealed that he had visited the Egyptian, Mayan, and Aztec cultures, where he was taken for a god. (TAS: "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth")

Reaching the end of her five-year deployment in 2270, Kirk ordered the Enterprise set on a course returning her to Earth. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; VOY: "Q2")

Time travels

Several of Kirk's voyages involved travel through time, either personally through time portals or along with the entire starship Enterprise via acceleration through gravity wells. According to the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations, Kirk, who sometimes ignored regulations when he felt it was for the greater good, amassed seventeen separate temporal violations during his career, more than any other person on file as of 2373. His time-travel exploits were well-known enough that, when Sisko, after he and his crew returned to the 24th century, told Dulmur and Lucsly that the vessel they encountered in the past was the first Enterprise, the two DTI investigators shrugged at the realization that it was "his" ship, which Sisko proudly confirmed. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

Observing planet Psi 2000 in its death throes of 2266, the Enterprise was endangered after the engines were shut down and she began to fall from orbit. An emergency cold-restart of the engines to escape the planet's gravity threw the ship three days into the past. (TOS: "The Naked Time")

In 2267, after escaping the gravity well of a black star, the Enterprise was hurled through space and time to Earth of 1969. As the Enterprise skimmed the upper atmosphere, the United States Air Force scrambled an F-104 Starfighter jet to intercept the Enterprise, now considered a UFO. The pilot, John Christopher, was brought aboard, and the plane crushed, unintentionally, in the ship's tractor beam. Kirk and Sulu beamed down to the Omaha, Nebraska military base to destroy photographic evidence of the Enterprise's appearance. A method developed to return to their own time, warping around the sun's gravity well in a slingshot maneuver, allowed Christopher's replacement before his close-encounter and the return of the Enterprise to her own time. (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday")

Guardian of Forever, 2267

The Guardian of Forever

In 2267, after experiencing violent time distortions, the Enterprise discovered the source, the Guardian of Forever. McCoy, delusional from an accidental cordrazine overdose, entered the time portal, altering history to the extent that the Federation and the Enterprise no longer existed. Kirk and Spock followed McCoy, appearing in 1930 New York City on Earth. Finding shelter in exchange for work, Kirk fell in love with his beautiful, idealistic benefactor, Edith Keeler. Spock discovered that history's recorded death of Keeler was stopped by McCoy, and Kirk was forced to restrain the doctor from saving her life, the price for restoring the timeline. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever")

In 2268, Kirk was ordered to repeat the recently proven slingshot maneuver, taking the Enterprise back to 1968 on a mission of historical observation. Intercepting the enigmatic agent Gary Seven, Kirk attempted to stop his interference, but eventually cooperated with Seven's effort to avert a nuclear exchange between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. (TOS: "Assignment: Earth")

A visit to the planet Sarpeidon, doomed by its sun's impending nova, revealed that the Sarpeidans had escaped en masse into their own planet's past via their Atavachron time portal. The harried and ubiquitous Atoz mistook Kirk, Spock, and McCoy for tardy natives, and he thrust them into the planet's past. (TOS: "All Our Yesterdays")

Kirk and Spock used the Guardian of Forever a second time in 2269, on a mission of historical observation to the dawn of Orion civilization. Upon their return, no-one but Kirk recognized Spock as the Enterprise first officer. Supposedly killed in his childhood, Spock returned to the Vulcan of his youth, playing the role of the nearly forgotten cousin that had saved his life during the kahs-wan, a Vulcan coming-of-age ordeal. (TAS: "Yesteryear")

See also: The Whale Probe crisis, The Nexus

Later career

James Kirk, 2270s

As a rear admiral in the mid-2270s

The USS Enterprise returned to Earth in 2270. Kirk's successful mission resulted in his promotion to rear admiral (making him the youngest admiral in Starfleet history at age 37 (citation needededit)) and a posting as Chief of Starfleet Operations at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco for the following two and a half years. Kirk recommended Willard Decker to replace him as Enterprise captain while the ship underwent an extensive refit at the San Francisco Fleet Yards, but he told Decker how envious he was and how much he hoped to find a way to get a starship command again. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

In the early 2270s, Earth was threatened by the approaching entity V'Ger, an energy cloud assimilating information from (and destroying) objects in its path. The only starship positioned to intercept it was the Enterprise, her refit nearly complete but still awaiting trial runs. After convincing Admiral Nogura that he was the best man to meet the threat, Kirk rushed the Enterprise into service, assuming the rank of captain for the duration of the mission. Decker regarded Kirk's command as an insult and a mistake, and pointed to his recent desk service and unfamiliarity with the ship's new systems, but the younger man fulfilled his duty as first officer. The entity proved to be the 20th century NASA space probe Voyager 6, having amassed great power and self-awareness in its travels. When Kirk and his party discover the true nature of 'V'Ger' and negotiate a visit to the actual probe itself, located at the heart of the 'V'Ger' vessel, Decker uses the opportunity, with 'V'Ger's protection, to fulfill his wish to merge with the V'Ger entity through the simulacrum of his lover Ilia, thereby uniting V'Ger's mechanical nature with its Human origins. The union resulted in the birth of a radically new, and benign, lifeform. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Admiral Kirk kept his flag on the Enterprise, commanding her through the 2270s. Kirk retired from Starfleet (albeit briefly) in 2281 to pursue a number of personal goals and affairs. (Star Trek Generations)

See also: Ambiguities

The wrath and wake of Khan



Kirk returned to Starfleet in 2284 and took a position in the admiralty, supervising command-track cadets at Starfleet Academy among his duties. The lack of a center seat gnawed at him, until he began to express discontent in his latest posting. If only for the chance to be back in space on his beloved former ship, he eagerly boarded the Enterprise, now commanded by Captain Spock, as an observer to a cadet training cruise.

Khan Noonien Singh escaped from his exile on Ceti Alpha V by hijacking the USS Reliant, leading to his theft of the Genesis Device from the Regula I space station. Alerted by a call from Dr. Carol Marcus, Enterprise changed course to investigate. Despite Kirk's (somewhat half hearted) protests, Spock insisted on deferring his command to Admiral Kirk, quipping that as a Vulcan "he had no ego to bruise" (in a possible reference to Captain Decker's less than favorable response at passing command to Kirk). The subsequent engagement with his old enemy was tumultuous for Kirk, including a meeting with his estranged son, David Marcus, and the death of his friend of twenty years, Spock. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Kirk, 2285

Kirk in 2285, stealing the Enterprise

Kirk's return to Earth in 2285 was solemn. The loss of Spock affected Kirk deeply, and McCoy began to show signs of mental illness. Planning to return to the Genesis Planet after his battle-damaged starship was fully repaired, Kirk's hopes were dashed when Commander, Starfleet Admiral Morrow announced that the Enterprise would be decommissioned. Ambassador Sarek approached Kirk, leading to the discovery of Spock's katra surviving in McCoy. Kirk's senior officers rallied to him, conspiring to rescue McCoy and steal the Enterprise from Earth Spacedock in order to recover Spock's body from the Genesis planet and to bring it, and his katra, to Vulcan. At the Genesis planet, a Klingon Bird-of-Prey's attack left the Enterprise disabled. After setting an auto-destruct sequence, Kirk and his crew abandoned the ship for the surface. The Enterprise was destroyed, taking a Klingon boarding party along with it. Finding Spock's body reanimated by Genesis, Kirk took the Bird-of-Prey to Vulcan, where Spock's katra and body were reunited. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Spock and Kirk, 1986

Kirk and Spock walking the streets of San Francisco in 1986

After three months on Vulcan, Kirk and his crew departed (aboard the Bird-of-Prey re-named HMS Bounty) for Earth, to face their charges of violating nine Starfleet General orders and regulations. During the voyage, a mysterious probe besieged Earth and communicated only in whale song. After answering the planetary distress signal and determining the probe's objective, Kirk used the slingshot effect to take the Bounty back in time to 1986 San Francisco. With the help of cetacean biologist Dr. Gillian Taylor, Kirk successfully obtained the humpback whales George and Gracie and returned with them to 2286. By providing the whales that could answer the probe's query, Kirk redeemed Humanity's extermination of a sentient species, and saved Earth from an environmental catastrophe. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

The USS Enterprise-A

Constitution class refit bridge 2

Kirk and crew on the bridge of the Enterprise-A

Following the Whale Probe incident, the Federation president declared to Kirk, "we are forever in your debt". In light of their recent heroics, all charges facing his crew were dismissed, but one remained against Admiral Kirk: disobeying the orders of a superior officer. Kirk's "punishment" was a permanent reduction in rank to captain and a return to the duty that had served the Federation so well, starship command. He was assigned to another Template:ShipClass starship, the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A), in 2286. He commanded the Enterprise-A for the next seven years. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

After a brief shakedown cruise proved the Enterprise-A wasn't quite up to par, Kirk vacationed in Yosemite National Park with Spock and McCoy, while Montgomery Scott attended to the technical problems. The respite was interrupted after Spock's half-brother, Sybok, raised a small force to take over the planet Nimbus III and captured the Federation, Klingon and Romulan representatives. Kirk and the Enterprise-A responded. Most of Kirk's crew fell under Sybok's influence and joined in his quest to meet "God", by taking the starship through the Great Barrier to the legendary planet Sha Ka Ree. The entity they encountered proved to be a malevolent force, imprisoned and looking for release. Sybok joined the entity in combat, permitting the Enterprise-A to escape. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

Kirk and McCoy on trial

Kirk and McCoy on trial

Kirk's career culminated in 2293, when the Enterprise-A was assigned to escort the Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to Earth for a peace conference. Kirk opposed the peace initiative covertly negotiated by Spock, and especially resented that he was chosen to be the Federation's olive branch. A cabal of Federation and Klingon officials instigated an attack on Kronos One that appeared to come from the Enterprise-A, and assassinated Gorkon. Kirk and McCoy were arrested by the Klingons, who tried and convicted them for the murder of Gorkon, sentencing them to the Rura Penthe penal asteroid. In violation of orders and treaties, Spock took the Enterprise-A into Klingon space, eluded detection and rescued Kirk and McCoy. Following his victory over General Chang at the Battle of Khitomer, Kirk saved the Federation president from assassination, and the historic Khitomer Conference continued.

After a final joy-ride on the heading "second star to the right, and straight on till morning," the Enterprise-A was decommissioned, and Kirk retired permanently from Starfleet. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

The Nexus and death

Shortly after retirement, Kirk joined his friends Montgomery Scott and Pavel Chekov as the honored guests of Captain John Harriman on the maiden voyage of the Template:ShipClass starship USS Enterprise-B. The event, featuring a media frenzy surrounding Kirk, was little more than a ceremonial cruise, as the Enterprise-B was not yet fully crewed or equipped for regular duty. Soon after departure, the ship received a distress signal from two Template:ShipClass ships transporting El Aurian refugees, trapped in an energy distortion called the Nexus.

With the advice of Kirk, and the help of Scotty and Chekov, the rescue mission was a partial success, but the Enterprise-B succumbed to the Nexus' gravimetric field. Declining Harriman's offer to take command, Kirk volunteered to modify the ship's deflector relays and successfully enabled the ship's escape, but not before a burst of energy from the Nexus breached the secondary hull. Kirk was lost and presumed dead.

Kirk thinking

Kirk, just before jumping over a chasm

Events of 2371 revealed Kirk had entered the Nexus, yet unaware of the passing of 78 years due to the non-linear nature of time in the Nexus. Discovered by Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise-D, Kirk agreed to leave his idyllic but unsatisfying existence within the Nexus in order to help Picard stop deranged scientist Tolian Soran from destroying the Veridian system.

As Kirk explained to Picard, the main reason he always returned to the command chair of the Enterprise was that it was only there so that Kirk could truly make a difference, and he advised Picard to refuse anything Starfleet offered him that would take him away from the current Enterprise, because he would thus lose the ability to make a difference in the universe.

Kirk dead

Kirk's last breath

Kirk sacrificed his life to save the inhabitants of Veridian IV, as well as the crew of the Enterprise-D, climbing along a precariously-balanced metal bridge in order to grab the control panel necessary to disable the missile that Soran would have used, the bridge subsequently falling down a steep cliff when its support beams broke. His last words, spoken to Picard after being assured that he had made a difference, were to comment that his help was the least he could do for the captain of the Enterprise, as well as to assure Picard that "It was... fun. Oh my...". (Star Trek Generations)

Picard burying Kirk

Kirk's body buried by Picard

Captain Picard buried Kirk in a simple stone cairn on a Veridian III mountain top, echoing the burial of his friend, Gary Mitchell, 106 years before. (Star Trek Generations; TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

Intellect and personality

James Kirk's evil counterpart

The darker half of Kirk rages in frustration, 2266

After his transporter personality split in 2266, Kirk was forcibly introduced to the competing elements in his personality, described most roughly as passive and aggressive. (TOS: "The Enemy Within") One half of that nature manifested itself in Kirk's frequent melancholy about the state of his life: when he was aboard ship, he longed for a life of ease; (TOS: "The Naked Time") when moored, his thoughts were with the Enterprise. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) His violent tendencies ranged from his enthusiastic beating of Finnegan to his willingness to provoke Spock. (TOS: "Shore Leave", "This Side of Paradise") Evaluating Khan in his first encounter, Kirk admitted, "We Humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless". (TOS: "Space Seed")

The flexibility of his nature was a large part of his success. The man sensitive enough to tread lightly among gangster Iotians in the manner of their culture, was the same who saw the plain necessity in destroying the war-computers that were a cultural pillar of Eminiar VII. (TOS: "A Piece of the Action", "A Taste of Armageddon")

Kirk had a strong moral center and devotion to the values he found embodied in the Federation, spending most of his life in its service and defense. In numerous incidents, he risked his life for causes he deemed just, including his final act on Veridian III. His confidence in his righteousness sometimes led him to creatively interpret, and outright disobey, his orders. (Star Trek Generations; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Kirk embraced the culture and history of his homeland, especially western lore and the life of his hero Abraham Lincoln. Recognizing the document mirrored on the planet Omega IV, he could recite the preamble of the US Constitution from memory. His extensive knowledge of his ancestral background would serve him well on numerous occasions. In travels to Earth's past, or on planets mirroring Earth's development, Kirk was able to function and pass himself off as native of the time or culture with (more or less) ease. (TOS: "Spectre of the Gun", "The Savage Curtain", "The Omega Glory", "The City on the Edge of Forever", "A Piece of the Action")

A charismatic and successful leader, Kirk inspired loyalty from his officers, some of whom would spend the bulk of their careers under his command. His command crew risked their careers at his call, conspiring to steal the Enterprise on a mission to save their comrade Spock. As a commander in his own right, Hikaru Sulu disobeyed his orders by attempting to rescue Kirk and McCoy from Klingon imprisonment, and later coming to Kirk's aid at the Battle of Khitomer. After Montgomery Scott's recovery from a transporter loop in 2369, the old engineer's first assumption was that Kirk himself had taken the Enterprise out of mothballs to come to his rescue. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; VOY: "Flashback"; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; TNG: "Relics")

Kirk repairs Connie 2267

Making repairs in 2267

Beyond his command skills, Kirk exhibited a comprehensive knowledge of starship systems. When Ben Finney's sabotage of the Enterprise caused her to lose orbit above Starbase 11 in 2267, Kirk was capable of scrambling up a Jefferies tube to effect the necessary repairs. After its near destruction by the "planet killer", Kirk directed Scotty and a skeleton crew in the salvage of the USS Constellation, recovering enough power and control functions so Kirk could pilot the hulk, solo, into the machine's maw. On several occasions Kirk displayed his skill in inducing self-destruction in computers and androids by confronting them with paradoxes. After the Enterprise's major refit of the early 2270s, Kirk's extended desk-duty showed in his unfamiliarity with the new systems, but he corrected the mistake in the following years. His last act of 2293 was the successful modification of the Enterprise-B's navigational deflector, saving the ship from destruction by the Nexus. (TOS: "Court Martial", "The Doomsday Machine"; Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek Generations)


Kirk's historic role as an explorer was rivaled by his reputation for tactical genius. In several notable engagements, Kirk used the USS Enterprise effectively as a weapon of war. In 2269, a simulacrum of Abraham Lincoln was struck by Kirk's propensity to take the offensive when required. He asked of Kirk, "Do you drink whiskey?" Kirk responded, "Occasionally. Why?" Lincoln answered, "Because you have qualities very much like those of another man I admire greatly, General Grant." In 2379, the Enterprise-E had a series of battle maneuvers named for Kirk, including the evasive maneuver "pattern Kirk epsilon". (TOS: "The Savage Curtain"; Star Trek Nemesis)

As a means to avoid battle, or to divert his opponent long enough so he could get he upper hand, Kirk frequently "bluffed" or lied his way through a parley. In two incidents, Kirk used his corbomite gambit. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "The Deadly Years") He misled Khan into expecting valuable data, rather than a devastating phaser strike in their encounter of 2285. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) His capitulation to Kruge was a lure to draw the bulk of the Klingon crew to the Enterprise before he ordered its destruction. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) Perhaps Kirk's most intricate, audacious misdirection of an enemy is found in the events leading up to his theft of a Romulan cloaking device in 2268. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident")

The Romulan incursion of Federation space in 2266 led Kirk into a drawn-out cat-and-mouse chase against a commander in whom Kirk found an instinctual rapport. The Romulan Bird-of-Prey had the ability to render itself invisible as well as delivering a powerful plasma torpedo that nearly overwhelmed the Enterprise. Both captains used ruses that simulated more damage than actually received. Kirk was able to briefly track the Romulan, by mirroring its movements to simulate a sensor ghost. Finally, emerging from the camouflage of a comet's tail, Kirk was able to disable the Romulan vessel. Before ordering his vessel's self-destruction, the Romulan captain remarked that under different circumstances he and Kirk might have been friends. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

In 2267, Kirk found the USS Constellation, severely damaged and adrift in space, with only Commodore Matt Decker aboard. The Constellation had been attacked by a huge, ancient device, and the crew evacuated to a nearby planet, which the planet killer destroyed and consumed. Kirk directed salvage of the Constellation and Decker was sent to the Enterprise. Upon return of the planet killer, the unmoored Decker assumed command of Enterprise, endangering it in a useless attack. Kirk was able to maneuver the Constellation enough to distract the device. Decker was relieved, but stole a shuttlecraft he took into the maw of the device, destroying himself. Inspired by Decker's mad attempt, Kirk piloted the Constellation to the machine's mouth, detonating the ship's impulse engines and destroying the device. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")

USS Reliant disabled

Reliant disabled in 2285

A textbook example of Kirk's ability to wield the Enterprise against a well-matched opponent is in the encounter with the USS Reliant, a Template:ShipClass starship commandeered by the Augment Khan Noonien Singh at the Battle of the Mutara Nebula (actually a series of two successive engagements) in 2285. Kirk admitted to getting "caught with my britches down", at first (Namely ignoring General Order 12 which allowed the Enterprise to be crippled by the non-communicative ship's sudden attack) , but he used his long starship experience and Khan's own egomaniacal psychology to level the playing field and prevail, though it would come at a great personal cost. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Klingons, in particular, recognized Kirk as a worthy opponent. The legendary Kor, frustrated by Organian interference that made battle against Kirk impossible, wistfully surmised, "it would have been glorious" in 2267. Captain Klaa believed defeating Kirk would make him the greatest warrior in the galaxy in 2287. General Chang reveled in his attack on Kirk at the Battle of Khitomer, until he lost his advantage. During a visit to the 23rd century, even Lt. Commander Worf remarked that it would be an honor to meet Kirk. Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax also commented that Koloth always regretted not getting the chance to face Kirk in battle. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy"; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

Kirk also appeared fond of -- or at least particularly prone to -- time-travel incidents, accumulating seventeen separate temporal violations over the course of his career, more than anyone on record. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

Mental assaults and trauma

As a boy, Kirk witnessed the massacre of the four thousand colonists on Tarsus IV. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")

He also mourned the loss of his friend Gary Mitchell; his brother George Kirk and his son Dr David Marcus. He also had a hidden source of pain that he would not share even with Spock and Dr McCoy (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

In 2266 Kirk was nearly killed by a salt vampire (TOS: "The Man Trap")

Succumbing to the effects of polywater intoxication in 2266, Kirk contemplated aloud the heavy responsibility of command, and the price the Enterprise exacted from his personal life: "this vessel... I give, she takes... She won't permit me my life. I've got to live hers." Ultimately, he gathered himself, speaking directly to the Enterprise, "Never lose you... never." (TOS: "The Naked Time")

Kirk learned something about his own nature after a transporter malfunction in 2266. Kirk was split into two physical duplicates, one intuitive and passive, the other violent and passionate. While separated, the survival of both personalities were threatened, and a way was eventually found to recombine the two. (TOS: "The Enemy Within")

Kirk Adams Chair 2266

Kirk is tortured in 2266

At the Tantalus Penal Colony in 2266, Doctor Tristan Adams used his neural neutralizer device as an instrument torture on Kirk. The device emptied a victims mind of thought, leaving it vulnerable to suggestion. Adams included conditioning that made him feel love for Dr. Helen Noel, including deep pain at the idea of her loss. Kirk was able to resist long-term damage from the device. (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind")


James Kirk's mind, trapped inside Janice Lester's body

Under the euphoric, enervating influence of Omicron pod plants, the entire Enterprise crew mutinied, abandoning the ship for planet Omicron Ceti III in 2267. Kirk was the last to fall under the influence, but his subconscious anger at the idea of leaving the ship rose to the surface, and broke the pod plant's effect. (TOS: "This Side of Paradise")

Upon his second encounter with the dikironium cloud creature in 2267, Kirk re-experienced the feelings of guilt over his actions in a previous disastrous incident, aboard the USS Farragut. Exhibiting a single-minded fixation on the destruction of the creature, McCoy and Spock questioned Kirk's emotional condition. As it turns out, the cloud creature is unaffected by phasers, thus Kirk learns that he could not have stopped it in their previous encounter and he had nothing to regret. With the help of his former captain's son Ensign Garrovick, Kirk lured the creature to planet Tycho IV, destroying it with an antimatter bomb. (TOS: "Obsession")

Kirk literally lost his mind on two occasions. His mind was displaced into a receptacle in 2268, briefly allowing the ancient being Sargon to live as a corporeal being. A bitter former lover, Dr. Janice Lester, used ancient alien technology to exchange her consciousness with Kirk's in 2269. (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow", "Turnabout Intruder")

In 2287, the Vulcan renegade Sybok offered Kirk the chance to "ease his pain", as he had seemingly demonstrated on Spock and McCoy. Kirk refused the offer angrily, insisting "I NEED my pain". (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)


The demands of Kirk's career required his best possible health, closely overseen by Dr. McCoy. Kirk sparred with his crew in the Enterprise gymnasium for exercise. Quarterly physical checks tested his physical fitness as well as general health. In spite of his evident strength and conditioning, Kirk did tend to put on a few extra pounds from time to time. When Dr. McCoy noticed a gain, he wasn't afraid to adjust Kirk's diet card, annoying his captain with a plate of dietary salad. (TOS: "Charlie X", "The Corbomite Maneuver")

Kirk spent a huge portion of his life aboard starships, and consequently relished the times he could spend outdoors. He was an accomplished equestrian, and kept a horse at a mountain cabin that he owned during his first retirement. Another companion at his mountain cabin was Butler, his Great Dane. He sold the cabin sometime after his return to Starfleet. A personal challenge that nearly cost him his life was free-solo climbing the face of El Capitan mountain in Yosemite National Park on Earth. After being rescued from an accidental free fall by Spock, Kirk told the Vulcan and McCoy that while falling he knew he wouldn't die because he had always known that he would die alone, and since he McCoy and Spock were present during the incident, he could not die. (However, Kirk's prediction would prove wrong, when he would eventually die on Veridian III in the company of Captain Picard.)(Star Trek Generations; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

Personal combat


Kirk's unique fighting style


Kirk incorporated techniques from Judo into his personal combat style

Kirk's command style frequently brought him in close proximity to his enemies, often resulting in hand-to-hand combat. His idiosyncratic martial-arts style used hand-chops to the neck, wrestling and Judo throws, round-house punches, two-fisted swings and open-hand slaps in varying combinations, and even drop kicks. A variety of enemy guards and henchmen were overwhelmed by one or two of Kirk's blows. In addition, Kirk regularly performed dives and rolls, either to evade phaser-fire or to attack an opponent, thereby often jumping off walls and other fixed elements.

A typical example of Kirk's fighting style in a more extended bout occurred in 2265 on the surface of Delta Vega, in the attempt to kill his friend Gary Mitchell, (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before") while typical examples of his wrestling and Judo abilities were seen when he was assaulted by the Orion spy Thelev and when he used a judo throw to disarm the Redjac entity which had taken the form of Hengist. (TOS: "Journey to Babel", "Wolf in the Fold")

At times, Kirk was clearly out-classed by a larger, more powerful opponent, and left to his wits, the aid of his crew, or pure luck to see him through. Pitted against the Gorn captain in 2267, he held his own for a time, until his injuries forced withdrawal and a search for a more efficient weapon. In 2255 and again in 2268, he wrestled a ferocious Mugato of Neural. When attacked by the massive ancient android Ruk on Exo III in 2266, Kirk could do little but hold on for the ride. (TOS: "Arena", "A Private Little War", "What Are Little Girls Made Of?")

On the Shore Leave Planet in 2267, Kirk was shocked by the appearance of Finnegan, his Academy nemesis who hadn't seemed to age. The two proceeded to slug each other until they were bleeding and exhausted. Perhaps the longest fist-fight of his life, it was clearly the most satisfying. (TOS: "Shore Leave")

Kirk fought his friend and first officer Spock on three occasions when the half-Vulcan lost his normal emotional control. A series of slaps delivered to Spock in 2266 resulted in a blow that sent Kirk over a table. In 2267, after necessarily cruel taunts, Spock tossed Kirk back and forth across the transporter room, regaining control just before he crushed his captain's skull. Spock's blood fever during his pon farr of 2267 made him so dangerous in the koon-ut-kal-if-fee ritual fight, Dr. McCoy faked Kirk's death before Spock could kill him. (TOS: "The Naked Time", "This Side of Paradise", "Amok Time")

Kirk was constantly looking to improve his arsenal of combat techniques. Upon witnessing Hikaru Sulu perform a body throw on Agmar on Phylos in 2269, he asked Sulu to teach him the technique sometime, since it might come in handy. (TAS: "The Infinite Vulcan")

Ailments and injuries

He was nearly killed twice by aliens (TOS: "The Man Trap") and in (TOS: "Arena")

While Enterprise transported ambassadors to the Babel Conference of 2268, Kirk was stabbed, puncturing his left lung, by an Orion agent disguised as an Andorian. (TOS: "Journey to Babel")

Thelev stabs Kirk

Kirk being stabbed by the Orion spy

After beaming down to the planet Gamma Hydra IV, Kirk, along with Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Scotty were all exposed to a rare form of radiation sickness from a passing comet. The radiation caused the party to age very rapidly. Standard hyronalin therapy was ineffective. It was not until Spock, Nurse Chapel, and Dr. Janet Wallace were able to concoct a new type of treatment based on an old-style adrenaline radiation therapy that Kirk and his party were cured, just in time for the captain to regain his ability to command and save the Enterprise from a heavy Romulan attack. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")

In 2268 Kirk suffered amenisa while stranded on a distant planet (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome"); he was also captured by aliens twice and subject to physical trauma in (TOS: "Wink of an Eye") and in (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow")

Early in his life, Kirk contracted and nearly died from Vegan choriomeningitis. Although he was cured, the organisms of the disease continued to be carried in his blood. At the end of the year 2268, the governing council of the planet Gideon would attempt to use these organisms to control their planet's overpopulation. (TOS: "The Mark of Gideon")

Kirk was allergic to Retinax V; as a result, he occasionally used old-fashioned corrective lenses to adjust for his increasing farsightedness. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)



An approachable, gregarious individual, Kirk made many friends across a range of worlds and status, from the Hill dweller Tyree to Starfleet Admiral Harry Morrow. Those that shared his closest, personal confidence appear to be limited to a few, including Spock, Leonard McCoy and Gary Mitchell. The core group of talented officers that he assembled in his first years aboard the Enterprise would follow his call throughout their own careers, and were integral factors to his long success and lasting reputation.


Kirk Spock McCoy bridge 2267

The inseparable trio (l to r) Spock, Kirk (seated), and McCoy, 2267

Kirk presumably first met his half-Vulcan science officer Spock upon succeeding Christopher Pike as captain of the Enterprise in 2265. After the death of Gary Mitchell, Kirk came to depend on Spock's detached, logical analysis as a supplement to his own intuitive and impulsive nature. Their official relationship deepened into a friendship of mutual respect and love that was without a doubt the most important relationship of Kirk's life. As Edith Keeler observed of Spock's place in the world, "You? At his side. As if you've always been there and always will." (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever") He once described his Vulcan friend as "the noblest half of myself" and declared that Spock's immortal soul "is my responsibility, as surely as if it were my very own." Kirk even told Spock's father that he would never realize how important Spock was to him, and declared that, despite losing the Enterprise and his son, had he not tried to rescue his friend, "...the cost would have been my soul." (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

The polywater intoxication that affected the Enterprise crew in 2266 led to a difficult encounter between Kirk and his first officer. Needing Spock at a critical moment, Kirk found him in anguished reflection, regretting his inability to express love even for his mother. Trying to bring the first officer around to the moment, Kirk slapped him. Spock's reaction was flat and revelatory, "Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I'm ashamed." Struck again, Spock responded in kind, sending Kirk backwards over a table. (TOS: "The Naked Time")

Spock was sympathetic to Kirk's plight after the transporter divided the captain's personality into opposite aspects. He referred to his own halves, "submerged... constantly at war with each other". Spock believed that Kirk could survive such a contest intact, and urged him to embrace the part of himself that, seemingly ugly, was crucial to his personality and Captaincy. (TOS: "The Enemy Within")

After Kirk discovered emotional rage was the key to nullifying the effect of the Omicron pod plants, his first step in retrieving his crew was to taunt Spock into anger. Anticipating the result of a Vulcan's strength pitted against him, Kirk wielded a pipe for protection. After calling him an "elf with a hyperactive thyroid" and that he belonged "in the circus, right next to the dog-faced boy", Spock indeed lost control, nearly killing Kirk before resuming command of himself. (TOS: "This Side of Paradise")

In 2267, Spock began his pon farr mating cycle, and behaved bizarrely aboard the Enterprise. Kirk called to Spock "the best First Officer in the Fleet" and "an enormous asset to me" as he pled with Spock to explain his actions. When told that by taking Spock to Vulcan, against Starfleet orders, Kirk fired back "I owe him (Spock) my life a thousand times over! What's one career?". Joining him on Vulcan for his marriage ceremony, Kirk was drawn into T'Pring's scheme to marry another, and forced to fight Spock to the death. McCoy, knowing Kirk was endangered, faked Kirk's death, and the marriage was not consummated. Spock, despondent that he had murdered his captain, thrilled at the sight of Kirk alive, exclaiming, "JIM!", which McCoy delighted in needling Spock about once he gained his composure. (TOS: "Amok Time")

Kirk's understanding of Spock had an enormous impact on the parallel mirror universe, visited after a transporter accident in 2267. As Kirk's party prepared to return to their proper universe, Kirk implored the mirror-Spock to re-examine his role in the fascistic Terran Empire, insisting "One man can make a difference". Mirror-Spock's consideration of those words were followed by his rise to dominance and reform of the Empire, with drastic consequences. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror"; DS9: "Crossover")

When Kirk was trapped in spatial interphase during a rescue operation in Tholian space, Spock ordered the Enterprise to maintain her position in an effort to retrieve him, in spite of the danger presented by the Tholians and the disruptive nature of the local space. After Kirk's assumed death, Spock and McCoy viewed the 'last orders' Kirk had prepared. He urged Spock to use all the Vulcan disciplines at his disposal, tempered with intuitive insight. Kirk believed Spock had the latter qualities, but should they elude him, he was urged to seek out McCoy. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")

Kirk once commented to Captain Garth that he and Spock were "brothers". Spock only said that "The captain speaks somewhat figuratively, and with undue emotion, but what he says is logical and I do agree with it." (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")

When Kirk's body was taken over by Dr. Janice Lester, a former lover of Kirk's, he performed a mind meld on Kirk, who was trapped in Lester's body. Spock believed Kirk as Lester before anybody did and when Lester as Kirk ordered his execution, he continued to stand by his friend. (TOS: "Turnabout Intruder")

At the end of the Enterprise's five-year mission, a period marked by his frequent loss of his emotional control, Spock chose to leave Starfleet and his friends, to pursue the Kolinahr discipline of logic on Vulcan. His return to Enterprise during the V'Ger threat was a cold event, without acknowledgment of his past friendships. In V'Ger's aftermath, Spock finally achieved equilibrium, able to express his friendship for Kirk without the influence of aliens or illness, and notably lacking any threat of physical violence. In 2285, Spock was calmly able to tell Kirk, "You're my superior officer. You are also my friend. I have been and always shall be yours." (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Kirk and Spock, 2285

Kirk and Spock, together on Kirk's birthday

Spock's sacrifice of his own life, to save the Enterprise from Khan's detonation of the Genesis Device, deeply affected Kirk. At his funeral, Kirk could only bring himself to say of Spock, "Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... Human." (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

The revelation that Spock's katra, his living spirit, survived in the tormented mind of McCoy, led Kirk to risk his career, and in turn, his crew's. He first asked Admiral Harry Morrow for permission to retrieve Spock's body from the Genesis Planet, to bring it, and McCoy, to Vulcan. Kirk insisted that any chance to save Spock's soul was his responsibility, "as surely as if it were my very own." His request declined, he told his crew, "the word is No. I am therefore going anyway." With the help of Uhura, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov, Kirk rescued McCoy from confinement and commandeered the Enterprise from Earth Spacedock. The renegade mission would see the death of Kirk's ship, and his son. Finding Spock's body re-animated by Genesis, Kirk brought him and McCoy, to Vulcan for the fal-tor-pan (re-fusion) ritual. The first person Spock recognized was Kirk: "Jim. Your name, is Jim." (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

During their homecoming from Vulcan, and eventually their trip to 1986, Kirk tried to remind the resurrected Spock, suffering from memory loss, to their friendship and past adventures together. After Kirk and the crew's trial, Spock told his father, his "associates" are his friends. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

In 2287, the trio enjoyed a camping trip together at Yosemite National Park, which abruptly ended when Spock, half-brother Sybok diverted the Enterprise to Nimbus III. After their adventure on Sha Ka Ree and Sybok's death, Kirk referred to Spock once again as his "brother", and told him and McCoy, that they're his real family. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

When Spock later entered an alternate reality, he told the James T. Kirk of that reality of their deep friendship, despite the fact that the alternate Spock had marooned Kirk on Delta Vega. Before returning Kirk, along with Scotty's counterpart, to the USS Enterprise (revealing to this Scotty an advancement in transporter technology over a century before his prime counterpart perfected it), Spock - who in this reality had designed the Kobayashi Maru simulation and openly begrudged Kirk outsmarting it - was reminded that this could be viewed as "cheating", to which he replied that an "old friend" - Kirk - had taught him how to cheat.

Later, when the prime-Spock spoke to his own alternate reality counterpart (who had become aware of his other self's existence after being recognized as the pilot of his counterpart's incredibly advanced spacecraft, with Kirk's obviously sarcastic "surprise" at this erasing any doubt) about that universe's Kirk, he explained that he resorted to a level of subterfuge in order to inform both men of the necessity of their friendship, both to themselves and to others. Spock-Prime explained, "I could not deprive you of the revelation of all that you could accomplish together, of a friendship that will define you both in ways you cannot yet realize." (Star Trek)

Leonard McCoy

Kirk McCoy drink 2266

Sharing a drink in 2266

Doctor Leonard McCoy became chief medical officer of the Enterprise after the departure of Dr. Mark Piper in 2265. Kirk formed an easy rapport with his new Doctor, giving him the moniker "Bones" (as in the old-fashioned colloquialism "sawbones" for a doctor or a surgeon). Even after McCoy began a program of exhaustive (and exhausting) quarterly physicals and interfered with Kirk's usual diet, their friendship grew rapidly. McCoy was probably Kirk's closest friend, aside, of course, from Spock. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")

Kirk could count on McCoy to express exactly what he thought, whenever he thought it, frequently without the courtesy of a question, and the doctor was often the sharpest observer of Kirk's actions and character. An early act of constructive insubordination occurred when the Enterprise faced the ominous spacecraft Fesarius and Kirk seemed to be pushing young Lieutenant Dave Bailey past his breaking point. McCoy let his opinion loose from beside the captain's chair, and Kirk barked an angry reply. Unintimidated, McCoy continued that behavior throughout their service together, earning a wide latitude with Kirk. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")

The first time McCoy saved Kirk's life wasn't in surgery, but (unusually for McCoy) by firing a phaser in 2266. When the salt vampire of planet M-113 attacked Kirk, it appeared to McCoy as Nancy Crater, a past love and a particularly powerful impediment to inflict harm. With Spock's help, McCoy was able to see past the creature's camouflage, killing it before it killed Kirk. (TOS: "The Man Trap")

During the original five-year mission, Kirk recorded a tape of last orders to be played by Commander Spock and Chief Medical Officer McCoy upon his death. He urged Spock and McCoy to give each other the same trust and loyalty they had each shown him. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")

McCoy & Kirk

McCoy advises Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise

McCoy's retirement from Starfleet in 2270 ended abruptly when Kirk, through Admiral Nogura, reactivated McCoy's commission for the 'Enterprise's emergency deployment for the V'Ger crisis. Kirk's plea, "Dammit Bones, I need you", ended McCoy's objection to the unwelcome "draft" and he returned to his frequent duty station, hovering just behind the captain's chair. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

In 2285, McCoy advised a melancholic Kirk on his birthday, "Get back your command. Get it back before you really do grow old." (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Kirk's drastic action taken to save Spock's katra was also an effort to save McCoy from the anguishing burden of bearing Spock's "marbles". After his moonlight requisition of the Enterprise resulted in her destruction, burning through the Genesis planet's atmosphere, Kirk asked, "My God, Bones... what have I done?" McCoy replied, "What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live." (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

After the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Gorkon, Kirk and McCoy were imprisoned together on Rura Penthe. With the "help" of a shapeshifter named Martia, they were able to escape together and return to the Enterprise. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Gary Mitchell

Gary Mitchell

Gary Mitchell in 2265

Kirk met a young Gary Mitchell in 2250, and the two became fast friends following Mitchell's admission into the Academy. They participated in the same class together, with Kirk holding the rank of lieutenant. Kirk's tenacity in this class earned him the nickname "a stack of books with legs", and Mitchell later recalled how other cadets warned him to watch out for Lieutenant Kirk, since in his class, you were forced to "think or sink." In an attempt to divert his friend's attentions and make the class easier to get through, Mitchell set Kirk up with a "little blonde lab technician" (see below), whom Kirk almost married.

In a line of dialogue that was written into the script of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" but was not included in the episode's final edit, Gary Mitchell implies a recollection that Kirk nearly washed him out of the Academy.

Later in their careers, Kirk and Mitchell took part in a mission to planet Dimorus, where they encountered sentient rodent-like creatures that shot poisonous darts. Mitchell took one of the darts meant for Kirk, saving Kirk's life but nearly dying himself. Kirk and Mitchell also spent a wild shore leave together on Deneb IV.

When Kirk was given command of the Enterprise, he asked Mitchell to come aboard to serve as his senior helmsman. Mitchell was a part of Kirk's crew when the Enterprise departed for its five-year mission in 2265. Sadly, Kirk was forced to kill his friend that same year when a fateful encounter with the galactic barrier mutated Mitchell into a godlike, and eventually power-mad being. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

Montgomery Scott

Montgomery Scott, the oldest of the Enterprise senior officers, was also the most consistently deferential to Kirk. While not included in Kirk's innermost circle with Spock and McCoy, Kirk had evident faith in Scotty's capabilities as an engineer. Kirk pushed the Enterprise past her known limits many times, and the technical genius of his devoutly loyal "miracle worker" was regularly the key to success. He later admitted that a big part of his reputation was his exaggeration of repair estimates, so that Kirk could be pleasantly surprised when Scott has them done quicker than he had expected. It became a running joke of sorts between the two later on. Scott and Kirk shared a passion for the Enterprise, but Scotty's was a simpler, less complicated love for his "bairns". (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome")

As the ship's second officer, commanding the Enterprise while Kirk led a landing party, Scotty's personal loyalty to Kirk served as a bulwark against various ambassadors or potentates who threatened mission success. Usually, Scotty refrained from taking the captain's chair and hovered around the conn when left in command, as he always felt more comfortable in engineering than on the bridge in command of the ship. He took the center seat only when the situation was critical; scaring a Klingon ship away from Capella IV, or defiantly facing down three Romulan battle cruisers and demanding his captain's return. (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon", "Bread and Circuses", "Friday's Child", "The Enterprise Incident")

Scott protests leaving Kirk behind

"Aye, captain." (2267)

When escape from the mirror universe via the transporter meant one of the Enterprise party had to stay behind to operate the controls, Scotty stoically volunteered. After Kirk overrode him, Scotty's one-word plea "Jim!" was one of the few times he familiarly addressed Kirk. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

Scotty kept his temper throughout Korax's barrage of taunts and insults thrown at Kirk, but a cross word about the Enterprise led Scotty to throw the first punch in the K-7 bar-fight of 2267. When Kirk, a little incredulous that his engineer had failed to defend his honor, confined Scotty to quarters as punishment, the engineer beamed at the chance to catch up on technical manuals. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles")

Kirk observed Scotty's infatuation with two young and attractive lieutenants, Carolyn Palamas and Mira Romaine, with bemused detachment at first, until the "stiff-necked thistle-head" abandoned his usual solid professionalism and required Kirk's stern, but affectionate, scolding. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "The Lights of Zetar")

Kirk's socialization with Scotty outside of the call of duty was rare. One exception, a visit to the flesh-pots of Argelius II, was a morale-boosting effort by Kirk on Scotty's behalf. If Scotty noticed the motivation, he didn't seem to care. Even after the horrific encounter with the Redjac entity, the "old Aberdeen pub-crawler" was eager to join Kirk on a second expedition to the planet. By 2285, Kirk knew enough about Scotty's off-duty habits to detect the residue of a "wee bout" of shore leave at first glance. (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold"; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Kirk & Scott

"...she'll be ready." (2270s)

When the V'Ger threat forced the newly-refitted Enterprise into duty, Scotty protested with a litany of complaints about the rush and unready state of the starship. After Kirk revealed he had convinced Admiral Nogura to return his command, Scotty responded, "Any man, who could manage such a feat... I would'na dare disappoint. She'll launch on time, sir, and she'll be ready." (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Hikaru Sulu

Though Hikaru Sulu was briefly an Enterprise physicist, Kirk transferred him to the command division, where he became the ship's senior helmsman throughout the historic five-year mission. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver") Kirk relied on Sulu as a capable officer he could trust with the Enterprise conn in battle situations (TOS: "Arena", "Errand of Mercy") and on away missions as delicate as the timeline-risky visit to the 498th Air Base on Earth in 1969. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Tomorrow is Yesterday")

Sulu risked his career for Kirk on two occasions. Conspiring with his friends, he assaulted a security guard to liberate Dr. McCoy, and piloted the stolen Enterprise out of Earth Spacedock to the Genesis planet in 2285. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) As captain of the USS Excelsior in 2293, he penetrated the Azure Nebula in Klingon territory in an effort to rescue his former captain before he was forced to turn back (VOY: "Flashback"), and later joined Kirk in halting the Khitomer conspiracy. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Outside of their careers, the friendship between Kirk and Sulu wasn't especially close. Kirk was surprised to find out Sulu had a daughter, Demora, on the maiden voyage of the Enterprise-B, and had to be reminded that he'd actually met her before. (Star Trek Generations)

Janice Rand

James Kirk embraces Janice Rand

Holding each other close during a Romulan attack (2266)

Starfleet assigned Janice Rand as Kirk's personal yeoman in 2266. Initially, he complained about the idea of a female yeoman, leading McCoy to flatly ask, "What's the matter Jim, don't you trust yourself?". Kirk said he already had a female to worry about, the Enterprise. Kirk warmed to Rand, but an undercurrent of sexual attraction between the two became obvious in stressful situations. Suffering from polywater intoxication in 2266, Kirk confided his attraction for Rand to Spock, shouting that he had "a beautiful yeoman!". Kirk later reached out to her hesitantly, longing for, but couldn't approach but for his duty. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "The Naked Time")

A transporter malfunction created a duplicate of the Captain that contained his negative qualities, such as hostility, lust, violence. His negative side was consumed with lust and desire for Rand and went "on the prowl" to find her. Eventually, when they both were alone in her quarters, he slowly approached her. Besides being a little startled by his presence, it looked and felt normal for her, until she noticed the Captain drinking from a bottle of Saurian Brandy. Obviously drunk, he starting telling her that she was "too beautiful to ignore" and "too much woman". As he stalked closer to her, he claimed that they've both been "pretending too long". Then, he suddenly grabbed her and began kissing her firecly. Kirk tried to pin her to the floor to rape her but Rand defended herself, leaving a large scratch on the duplicate's face, which helped the crew differentiate between the two Kirk "halves". After the situation was resolved, Rand continued as Kirk's yeoman until a reassignment in 2267. She returned to the Enterprise as transporter chief in 2272. (TOS: "The Enemy Within", "The Conscience of the King"; Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Kirk and Rand repeatedly felt an attraction for one another, but resisted discussing or acting on their feelings openly. During one mission, Rand, Kirk and other members of a landing party were trapped on a planet where only children survived; adults quickly developed a wasting disease called life prolongation complex. When Rand became upset, Kirk held her close in his arms and comforted her. Miri, a teenage girl whom the team had befriended, witnessed this and became jealous. She felt that Rand was her "competition" and briefly betrayed the landing party by letting the other children abduct her. The Captain's love for Rand became obvious when he was under stress from the disease, as he became distraught and obsessed in finding his "Janice". Even grabbing Miri and shouting, "Where is she Miri? Where is she Miri? Where's Janice? Has something happened to her?…Where is she?...I've got find Janice!"(TOS: "Miri")

Ben Finney

When Kirk was a midshipman, he befriended Academy instructor Lieutenant Ben Finney. Some time later, Kirk and Finney served together aboard the USS Republic. The two became so close that Finney named his daughter, Jame, after Kirk.

A rift developed between the two friends while aboard the Republic when Kirk logged a mistake that Finney had made which could have caused the destruction of the ship. Because of this, Finney was put on reprimand and his name was sent to the bottom of the promotion list. Finney blamed Kirk for his subsequent inability to gain a command of his own.

Though their friendship was effectively over, Lieutenant Commander Finney served aboard the Enterprise in 2267 as records officer. Kirk was unaware that Finney's old grudge had been growing larger over the years, and Finney had passed into madness. To take his revenge, he staged his own death and manufactured evidence of Kirk's negligence. Finney was successful to a point, and Kirk became the first Federation Starfleet starship commander brought before a court martial. With the help of the eccentric lawyer Samuel T. Cogley and Spock, Finney's deception was revealed and charges against Kirk were lifted. Finney was arrested and faced trial, represented by Cogley. (TOS: "Court Martial")

Jean-Luc Picard

Although their association was brief, James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard had profound personal effects on one another. Very much like Spock and Leonard McCoy, Picard was instrumental in helping Kirk find meaning in his life after his greatest adventures were essentially over. In fact it could be argued that Picard is one of the most significant persons in Kirk's entire life, as he embarked on his final adventure with him and passed away knowing that he had "made a difference." Picard laid Kirk to rest on that obscure planet and was his lone mourner. (Star Trek Generations)


Kirk was notably successful in attracting women, and enthusiastic in their pursuit, yet notoriously unsuccessful in establishing any lasting relationships with women. By design or coincidence, his most significant affairs were with women fundamentally incompatible with his life in Starfleet. In weighing the balance of starship versus a settled home life, the gross tonnage of the Enterprise usually tipped the scale.

While attending the Academy, Kirk was romantically involved with at least three women. One was an unnamed "blonde lab tech", to whom he was introduced by his friend, Gary Mitchell. His relationship with her was apparently serious, as he almost married her.

Kirk had a year long relationship with Janice Lester while she also was at the Academy. He professed loving her, but the romance ended badly after "the intense hatred of her own womanhood made life with her impossible". The two were reunited in a truly bizarre manner in 2269, when Lester, extremely jealous of Kirk's successful career, traded her consciousness with that of Kirk's to take his place as captain of the Enterprise and then exact a double revenge by killing both Kirk and her womanhood. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Shore Leave", "Turnabout Intruder")

Ruth (amusement park planet)

Ruth, as she appeared ca. 2252

In 2252, another lover was a woman named Ruth. In 2267, he was greeted by a replica of Ruth created by the Shore Leave Planet in the Omicron Delta region.

File:Carol marcus.jpg

Kirk was involved with Dr. Carol Marcus prior to taking command of the Enterprise. She bore his son, David Marcus in 2261, but the relationship dissolved as their careers drove them apart. In 2285, the fractured family unit was briefly reunited. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Some have speculated that Carol may be the "blonde lab tech" Gary Mitchell introduced him to, but there is no on-screen evidence for this.

Kirk was involved with the future Janet Wallace in 2261; this relationship was also called off due to their difference in careers. In 2263, Kirk's would break off a relationship with Areel Shaw. Shaw would later be assigned as the prosecutor in Kirk's court martial four years later, but was pleased when she lost the case and Kirk was exonerated of any wrongdoing. (TOS: "The Deadly Years", "Court Martial")

During an Enterprise lab's Christmas party in 2265, Kirk engaged in brief flirtation with Dr. Helen Noel that ended unsatisfactorily for Kirk, who exhibited irritation when she was assigned by McCoy to help Kirk investigate Tantalus Penal Colony. Testing the neural neutralizer, Noel conditioned Kirk to believe that their previous encounter was a sweeping romance. The colony's mad doctor, Tristan Adams, used the suggestion of love and loss of Noel, to torture Kirk. (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind")

In 2266, the M-113 creature tricked Kirk into thinking he saw Nancy Crater; disguised as Nancy Crater it nearly seduced and killed Kirk. (TOS: "The Man Trap")

In 2266, while on Planet Q, Kirk met Lenore Karidian at a party and entered into a brief romance with the then-nineteen-year-old blonde girl. As with many of Kirk's love affairs, the two fell into "love at first sight." Kirk was clearly enamoured with Lenore, but the true depth of his feelings – and the importance of those feelings relative to his duties as a captain – were conveyed only through insinuation. When Leonard McCoy directly asked Kirk whether he really cared for the hopelessly insane Lenore, the captain paused pensively, then evaded the question with a navigational order: "Ahead warp factor one Mr. Leslie." McCoy's reply, "That's an answer," presumably indicated that he understood Kirk's unstated position: as captain, Kirk's first responsibility (and perhaps first interest) is always the ship, despite his personal feelings for women such as Lenore. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")

In 2267, the evil side of Kirk tried to assault and seduce Yeoman Rand. (TOS: "The Enemy Within")

Edith Keeler and Jim Kirk

Edith Keeler in 1930

In 2267, Kirk and Spock traveled back to the 1930s to repair damage to the timeline accidentally caused by Leonard McCoy. While searching for McCoy, Kirk met and fell in love with the compassionate and far-seeing social worker Edith Keeler. Keeler's death was found to be the focal point in history needing repair. As she crossed a street to meet Kirk, he was forced to hold McCoy back while she was struck and killed by an automobile, thus restoring the timeline. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever")

In 2267, the alien Sylvia tried to seduce Kirk into giving her the transmuter. (TOS: "Catspaw")

After 2267, Kirk had a near romance with Marlena Moreau. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

In 2268, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were held captive in a 20th century Roman Empire; Kirk was "seduced" by slave woman Drusilla. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses")

In the line of duty, to recover the Enterprise hijacked by Kelvans in 2268, Kirk seduced Kelinda, in order to arouse jealously in her commander, Rojan. Kelinda recognized Kirk's attempt at seduction, but welcomed his continued efforts. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")



On a peace mission to the war-torn Tellun system in 2268, the Enterprise transported Elaan, Dohlman of Elas, to her diplomatically-arranged wedding on Troyius. Kirk's antagonistic relationship with the arrogant and spoiled Dohlman changed sharply after he was infected by her Elasian tears. Under their powerful biochemical influence, Kirk became instantly and deeply infatuated with Elaan. He ultimately resisted the more compelling effects of the tears and fulfilled his duties, but both Elaan and Kirk experienced a tangible sense of loss at their melancholy final parting. (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius")

Kirk and shahna

Kirk "helps" Shahna

In 2268, when captured for the gladiatorial combats of Triskelion, Kirk was assigned to the tutelage of the drill-thrall Shahna. Kirk introduced Shahna to the wider universe around her, and the Human concept of love. (TOS: "The Gamesters of Triskelion")

In 2268 Kirk, with amnesia, married Miramanee. (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome")

Deela was queen of the (infertile) male Scalosians who hijacked the Enterprise in 2268. They planned to use the ship's male crew as a gene pool so her species could continue. Deela choose Kirk as her consort, who, along with the help of Spock was able to stop her plan. (TOS: "Wink of an Eye")

In 2269, the criminally insane, pathologically lying Orion inmate of the Elba II penal colony, Marta, became infatuated with Kirk while tending to him after torture. The fact that she loved him meant she had to kill him, but she failed in the attempt. Garth of Izar's jealousy led him to use Marta as a demonstration of a new explosive, killing her. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")

Rayna Kapec

Rayna Kapec in 2269

Prime Minister Hodin of Gideon, a world greatly suffering from overpopulation, abducted Kirk and forced him to spend time isolated with his daughter, Odona in 2269. As a carrier of Vegan choriomeningitis, it was hoped Kirk would infect Odona, and the rest of the population. The couple became quite affectionate in their time spent together, though Odona said Kirk "behaved like a perfect gentleman." (TOS: "The Mark of Gideon")

in 2269, Kirk's encounter with the near-immortal Flint led to their competition for the love of the android Rayna Kapec, and resulted in her destruction. Kirk was heartbroken. Spock took an extraordinary liberty with his grieving friend, melding with Kirk without his consent, whispering the word "forget". (TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah")

Kirk fell in love with Antonia after his first retirement from Starfleet in 2281. The two lived together for some time before Kirk decided to rejoin Starfleet. Later in life, he regretted not having proposed to her. (Star Trek Generations)

In 2293 Martia had a brief romance with Kirk to put him off his guard so he and McCoy could be killed trying to escape. {However it was Martia who would be double crossed and killed} (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

As Kirk became more and more well-known, these exploits would become the stuff of legend; when Jadzia Dax, upon seeing Kirk while aboard the Enterprise during the Defiant crew's trip over a hundred years into their past, mentioned how much more handsome he was in person, Captain Sisko responded that Kirk had "quite the reputation" in terms of his dealing with women - though Dax then admitted that "he" was actually Spock. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")


The Kirk family ancestry included settlers who pioneered the American frontier in the 19th century, and the Kirks of the early 23rd century rediscovered the impulse for untamed spaces. After his early childhood on Earth, Kirk was living on Tarsus IV by the age of thirteen, and his brother's family later lived on colonies as well. (TOS: "Spectre of the Gun", "The Conscience of the King", "Operation -- Annihilate!")

Kirk's father, Lieutenant George Kirk was serving as first officer of the USS Kelvin during the time of Kirk's birth. Kirk would often credit his father with inspiring him to join Starfleet. His father proudly lived long enough to see his Kirk achieve command. (Star Trek)

George Samuel Kirk (called "Sam" only by his brother) was a researcher, hoping to transfer to the Earth Colony II research station in 2265. Sam, along with his wife Aurelan and three sons, joined his younger brother for a farewell visit before the Enterprise departed for her five-year mission. It was the last time Jim saw Sam alive. Sam ended up on Deneva, with his wife and son Peter by 2267. The neural parasites invaded Deneva that year and killed the couple, but Peter survived the attack. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", "Operation -- Annihilate!")

Kirk recognized the impact his life in Starfleet had on his family life. In 2287, while camping with his friends in Yosemite, he referred to himself, Spock, and McCoy as the only family that men like themselves were likely to have. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)



Miramanee in 2268

In 2268, on the surface of the Amerind planet, an accident induced amnesia in Kirk and separated him from the Enterprise landing party.

For several months, Kirk lived among the Native American inhabitants, worshiped as a god called "Kirok". His mind at ease from the pressures of command, he took a wife, Miramanee, who became pregnant with his child.

When the tribal worship of Kirok was dispelled, he and Miramanee were stoned – fatally injuring both the young woman and their unborn child. (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome")

David Marcus

David marcus

David Marcus in 2285

Kirk's romance with Carol Marcus produced a son, David Marcus. At Carol's request, Kirk stayed out of David's early life. David knew something of Kirk, referring to him as "the over-grown boy scout" his mother used to know, but not that Kirk was his father. Carol kept David's father's identity a secret, fearing that Kirk's adventurous life would draw David away from her. In spite of the separation, Carol told Kirk that David was "a lot like you, in many ways."

In 2285, David was working with his mother at the Federation research station Regula I as part of a team developing Project Genesis when the station was attacked by Khan Noonien Singh. After fleeing to the Regula planetoid, Kirk rescued David and Carol. Kirk did not immediately recognize his son at their awkward meeting, and later became melancholy when considering an alternate life as a father. He observed David's dislike of him, complaining to Carol "I have a man I haven't seen in fifteen years, trying to kill me, and you show me a son who'd be happy to help him". After witnessing Kirk's victory at the Battle of the Mutara Nebula and the funeral for Spock, David consoled his father and admitted he was "proud, very proud, to be [his] son." (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Kirk and David Marcus' body

Kirk with David's body on Genesis

Later in 2285, David was an advisor on the starship USS Grissom, researching the Genesis planet he had helped to create. Taken hostage by Klingons, David interrupted an attempted execution of Lieutenant Saavik, wrestling a Klingon warrior briefly before he was killed with a stab to the chest. The news of David's death led Kirk to stumble to the deck in grief, telling Commander Kruge "you Klingon bastard, you've killed my son." Kirk subsequently killed Kruge and all but one of his crew. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Kirk kept David's memory close, with a picture of his son in his quarters aboard the USS Enterprise-A. Kirk's opinion of Klingons, once enemies he could occasionally respect and even share a laugh with, grew into hatred. In 2293, during the diplomatic mission to the Klingon Empire instigated by the destruction of Praxis, he logged "I've never trusted Klingons, and I never will. I've never been able to forgive them for the death of my boy." The log entry was used against him during the trial for the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon, and the incident forced him to come to terms with his hatred for Klingons. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Awards and honors

James Kirk, dress uniform

Kirk in dress uniform 2267

Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission
Grankite Order of Tactics (Class of Excellence)
Prentares Ribbon of Commendation (Classes First and Second)
Starfleet Medal of Honor
Starfleet Silver Palm (with cluster)
Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry
Karagite Order of Heroism
Leonard James Akaar - The Teer of Capella IV bears the name of McCoy and James T. Kirk
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A) - A starship was re-christened in recognition of his service, bearing the registration number of his original command, an honor carried on for generations.

(TOS: "Court Martial"; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

Key dates

Memorable quotes

The wit and wisdom of Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk.

Existential Kirk

"Above all else, a god needs compassion!"

-Kirk to Gary Mitchell (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

"This vessel... I give, she takes. She won't permit me my life, I've got to liver hers."

-Kirk on the Enterprise (TOS: "The Naked Time")

"Why me? I look around that bridge, and I see the men waiting for me to make the next move. And Bones... What if I'm wrong?"

-Kirk to McCoy (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

"No beach to walk on."

-Kirk on the life of a starship captain (TOS: "The Naked Time")

"I wanna live! I wanna live!" (TOS: "The Enemy Within")

"Don't tell me that again science officer! It's a theory, It's possible! We may go up in the biggest ball of fire since the last sun in these parts exploded, but we've got to take that one-in-ten-thousand chance!"

-Kirk to Spock (TOS: "The Naked Time")

"Death, destruction, disease, horror... that's what war is all about. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided. You've made it neat and painless. So neat and painless you've had no reason to stop it. And you've had it for over five hundred years. Since it seems to be the only way I can save my crew and my ship, I'm going to end it for you, one way or another."

-Kirk to Anan 7 (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon")

"All right. [War is] instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, ut we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill... today!"

-Kirk to Anan 7 (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon")

"It's a true Eden Jim. There's belonging and love."
"No wants. No needs. We weren't meant for that. None of us. Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is."

-Spock and Kirk (TOS: "This Side of Paradise")

"Well, that's the second time man's been thrown out of paradise."
"No, no, Bones. This time we walked out on our own. Maybe we weren't meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through. Struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can't stroll to the music of the lute. We must march to the sound of drums.

-McCoy and Kirk (TOS: "This Side of Paradise")

"Excuse me, Gentlemen... I'm a soldier, not a diplomat. I can only tell you the truth."

-Kirk to the Organian Council of Elders (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")

"Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate."

-Kirk to Apollo (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")

"Human flesh against human flesh. We're the same. We share the same history, the same heritage, the same lives. We're tied together beyond any untying. Man or woman, it makes no difference... We're human. We couldn't escape from each other even if we wanted to. That's how you do it, Lieutenant. By remembering who and what you are. A bit of flesh and blood afloat in a universe without end. The only thing that's truly yours is the rest of humanity. That's where our duty lies."

-Kirk to Lieutenant Polamas (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")

"What is a man but that lofty spirit, that sense of enterprise! That devotion to something that cannot be sensed, cannot be realized, but only dreamed, the highest reality!"

-Kirk to Norman (TOS: "I, Mudd")

"War isn't a good life, but it's life."

-Kirk to McCoy (TOS: "A Private Little War")

"You could serve as Human sacrifice."
"No I wouldn't enjoy that at all. Besides you seem to need me alive."

Garth of Izar and Kirk -(TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")

"I... am... KIROK!" (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome")

"I don't believe in the no-win scenario."

-Kirk to Saavik (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"We learn by doing."

-Kirk to Saavik (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many."

-Kirk to Spock (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

"Don't tell me... You're from outer space."
"No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space."

-Gillian Taylor and Kirk (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

"Dammit, Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They're things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away. I need my pain."

-Kirk to McCoy (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

"You have restored my father's faith."
"And you have restored my son's."

-Azetbur and Kirk (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

"I was out saving the galaxy while your grandfather was in diapers."

-Kirk to Picard (Star Trek Generations)

"Don't let them promote you, don't let them transfer you, don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship. Because while you're there, you can make a difference."

-Kirk to Picard (Star Trek Generations)

Kirk on death

"I'm used to the idea of dying. But I have no desire to die for the likes of you."

-Kirk to Ayelborne (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")

"Poor Matt... He gave his life in an attempt to save others... Not the worst way to go"

-Kirk to Spock (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")

"What a terrible way to die."
"There are no good ways, Sulu."

-Sulu and Kirk (TOS: "That Which Survives")

"How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life..."

-Kirk to Saavik (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Lieutenant Saavik was right... You never have faced death."
"No, not like this. I haven't faced death. I've cheated death. I tricked my way out of death... and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity. I know nothing."

-David and Kirk (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"My God, Bones... What have I done?"
"What you had to do. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live."

-McCoy and Kirk (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

"I've always known... I'll die alone."

-Kirk to Spock and McCoy (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

In Harm's Way

"This is the captain of the Enterprise. Our respect for other lifeforms requires that we give you this... warning. There is one critical item of information that has never been incorporated into the memory banks of any Earth ship. Since the early years of space exploration, Earth vessels have had incorporated into them, a substance known as... Corbomite. It is a material and a device which prevents... attack... on us. If any destructive energy touches our vessel, a reverse reaction of equal strength is created, destroying..."
"You now have two minutes."
"...DESTROYING the attacker. It may interest you to know... that since the initial use of Corbomite more than two of our centuries ago, no attacking vessel has survived the attempt. Death has... little meaning to us. If it has none to you... then attack us now. We grow annoyed at your foolishness."

-Kirk and Balok (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")

"They used to say if man could fly, he'd have wings... but he did fly. He discovered he had to. Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn't reached the moon, or that we hadn't gone on to Mars or the nearest star? That's like saying you wish that you still operated with scalpels and sewed your patients up with catgut like your great-great-great-great-grandfather used to. I'm in command. I could order this. But I'm not... because... Dr. McCoy is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any contact with life and intelligence as fantastically advanced as this. But I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great. Risk... risk is our business! That's what this starship is all about... that's why we're aboard her!" (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow")

"Khan. How do we know you'll keep your word?"
"Oh, I've given you no word to keep, Admiral. In my judgment you simply have no alternative."
"I see your point... stand by to receive our transmission... (whispers) Mr. Sulu, lock phasers on target..."
"Time's up Admiral!"
"Here it comes. Now, Mr. Spock."

-Kirk and Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Sir, you did it!"
"I did nothing! Except get caught with my britches down. I must be getting senile."

-Sulu and Kirk (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Kirk... you're still alive, my old friend."
"Still. Old. Friend! You've managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you KEEP MISSING the TARGET!"

-Khan and Kirk (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"KHAAAAAAN!!!" (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"We tried it once your way Khan, now are you game for a rematch? Khan... I'm LAUGHING at the superior... intellect."

-Kirk to Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Sorry about your crew, but as we say on, Earth, c'est la vie."

-Kirk to Kruge (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

"I... have had... enough of you!"

-Kirk to Kruge (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)


-Kirk to Spock (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

"Excuse me... but what does God need with a starship?"

-Kirk to the Sha Ka Ree entity (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

"Don't believe them! Don't trust them!
They are dying...
'Let them die.'"

-Kirk to Spock, on the Klingon Empire (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

"Risk is part of the game, if you want to sit in that chair."

-Kirk to Captain Harriman (Star Trek Generations)

Kirk on women

"When I get my hands on the headquarters genius who gave me a female yeoman..."
"What's the matter Jim, don't you trust yourself?"

-Kirk to McCoy (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")

"You're too beautiful to ignore. Too much woman."

-Kirk to Janice Rand (TOS: "The Enemy Within")

"Uh, there are things you can do with a lady, uh, Charlie, that you... Uh, there's no right way to hit a woman. I mean, man to man is one thing, but, um, man and woman, uh, it's, ah... is, uh... Well, it's, ah, another thing. Do you understand?"

-Kirk to Charlie Evans (TOS: "Charlie X")

"Worlds may change, galaxies disintegrate, but a woman... always remains a woman."

-Kirk to Lenore Karidian (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")

"You'll learn something about men and women... the way they're supposed to be. Caring for each other, being happy with each other, being good to each other. That's what we call... love. You'll like that too. A lot."

-Kirk to the People of Vaal (TOS: "The Apple")

"Mr. Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That is the only planet in this galaxy that can make that claim."

-Kirk to Spock (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius")

"You sleep lightly, captain."
"Yes, duty is a good teacher. I see you've changed your dress-maker."
"Release me!"
"So you could attack me again? That would be foolish."
"Call the guards if you're afraid, captain."
"I'm not afraid. In fact... I find this rather enjoyable."

-Vanna and Kirk (TOS: "The Cloud Minders")

Kirk and Spock

"Spock, I think I'm in love with Edith Keeler."
"Jim, Edith Keeler, must die

-Kirk and Spock (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever")

"Alright, you mutinous, disloyal, computerized half-breed, we'll see about you deserting my ship... You're an overgrown jackrabbit. An elf with a hyperactive thyroid... What else would you expect from a simpering devil eared freak whose father was a computer and whose mother was an encyclopedia... Your father was a computer, like his son... from a planet of traitors. A Vulcan never lived who had an ounce of integrity... You're a traitor from a race of traitors. Disloyal to the core; rotten like the rest of your sub-Human race, and you've got the GALL to make love to that girl. Does she know what she's getting, Spock? A carcass full of memory banks who should be squatting on a mushroom, instead of passing himself off as a man. You belong in a circus, Spock, not a starship. RIGHT NEXT TO THE DOG-FACED BOY!

-Kirk to Spock (TOS: "This Side of Paradise")

"Spock, I'm sick of your half-breed interference!"

-Kirk to Spock (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?")

"Analysis, Mr. Spock?"
"Very bad poetry, Captain."

-Kirk and Spock (TOS: "Catspaw")

"No, it was a calculated risk. Still, the Eminians keep a very orderly society and actual war is very messy business. Very, very messy business. I had a feeling they would do anything to avoid it, even talk peace."
"Feeling is not much to go on."
"Sometimes a feeling, Mr. Spock, is all we Humans have to go on."
"Captain, you almost make me believe in luck."
"Why, Mr. Spock, you almost make me believe in miracles."

-Kirk and Spock (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon")

"Kill Spock? That's not what we came to Vulcan for."

-Kirk to McCoy (TOS: "Amok Time")

"Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... Human."

-Kirk on Spock (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"Oh him? He's harmless. Back in the sixties, he was part of the free speech movement at Berkeley. I think he did a little too much LDS."

-Kirk to Gillian Taylor (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

"... either you're with me or you're not!"
"I am here, Captain."
"That's a little vague, Spock..."

-Kirk and Spock (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

"I lost a brother once... I was lucky... I got him back."

-Kirk to Spock (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

"You're a great one for logic. I'm a great one for rushing in where angels fear to tread. We're both extremists. Reality is probably somewhere in between."

-Kirk to Spock (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

"You know, if Spock were here, he'd say I was an irrational, illogical human being for taking on a mission like that... Sounds like fun!"

-Kirk to Picard (Star Trek Generations)



James T. Kirk appears in:


Background information

James T. Kirk was played by actor William Shatner throughout TOS, TAS, and the first seven films. The only episodes from Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series in which Kirk does not appear are the first pilot, "The Cage", and the animated episode "The Slaver Weapon". Kirk also appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", and his voice is heard on the Enterprise finale, "These Are the Voyages...". Although he never appeared in The Next Generation or Voyager, he was referred to in both shows on many occasions.

Chris Pine portrayed the alternate Jim Kirk in Star Trek.

William Shatner was not the first choice to play Kirk. The producers first approached actors Lloyd Bridges and Jack Lord for the role; both turned it down. [1] [2][3] [4] Both Bridges and Lord have since passed away.

Actress Sandra Smith also played Captain Kirk (in Janice Lester's body) in TOS: "Turnabout Intruder".

Gene Roddenberry, in his original pitch to television producers, described the character (originally named Robert April, then Christopher Pike) that would be eventually known as Captain Kirk:

The "skipper", about thirty-four, Academy graduate, rank of Captain... a shorthand sketch of Robert April might be "A space-age Captain Horatio Hornblower", lean and capable both mentally and physically.
A colorfully complex personality, he is capable of action and decision that can verge on the heroic – and at the same time lives a continual battle with self-doubt and the loneliness of command.
As with similar men in the past (Drake, Cook, Bougainville, and Scott), his primary weakness is a predilection to action over administration, a temptation to take the greatest risks onto himself. But, unlike most early explorers, he has an almost compulsive compassion for the plight of others, alien as well as human, [and] must continually fight the temptation to risk many to save one.

The name for Kirk wasn't decided until 1965. In a memo written by Gene Roddenberry to researcher Kellam de Forest on 18 May 1965, sixteen names were being considered. These names were:

  1. January
  2. Flagg
  3. Drake
  4. Christopher (later used for 20th century Captain John Christopher)
  5. Thorpe
  6. Richard
  7. Patrick
  8. Raintree (later used to identify Galloway in a TOS novelization)
  9. Boone
  10. Hudson
  11. Timber
  12. Hamilton
  13. Hannibal
  14. Neville
  15. Kirk (the name eventually chosen)
  16. North

This memo was reprinted in The Making of Star Trek and Inside Star Trek: The Real Story.

"James Tiberius Kirk" was the final choice of name chosen to adorn the new TV show's hero. "James", derived from the Hebrew name Jacob, means "grasps the heel" or "grasps the bottom"; a colloquial equivalent would be "he gets it" or even "he groks". "Kirk" is the Lowland Scots word for "Church". "Tiberius" was first identified in the animated episode "Bem", and mentioned again in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Tiberius Caesar Augustus was the second Roman Emperor, known for his darkness and corruption, from the death of Augustus in 14 AD until his death in 37 AD. Tiber is the Latin name for the river that runs through the city of Rome. The name might also possibly have been influenced by the maverick Roman politician Tiberius Gracchus. (See also: Apocrypha)

NBC's early-1966 sales broschure (reprinted in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story) described Kirk as:

A Space Academy graduate, Captain James Kirk has learned to accept the loneliness of command as he has rapidly climbed the ladder of promotion, although he never will learn to like the loneliness his post brings. Starship command is the most important position a man in the Space Service can hold, since he alone can and must make decisions in his contact with the other worlds that can affect the future course of civilization throughout the Universe. So far, James Kirk has proven himself equal to this awesome responsibility. A strong, capable, highly intelligent man in his mid-thirties, Kirk is a born leader, who has trained himself to walk the tightrope between friendship and authority without losing his sense of humor or compassion for others.

William Shatner was to have reprised his role as Captain Kirk on Star Trek: Phase II. The writers/directors guide for the new series, written, among others, by Gene Roddenberry and Jon Povill between May and August of 1977, described Kirk as followed:

A shorthand sketch of Kirk might be "a space-age Captain Horatio Hornblower," constantly on trial with himself, a strong, complex personality.
With the Starship out of communication with Earth and Starfleet bases for long periods of time, a Starship captain has unusual broad powers over both the lives and welfare of his crew, as well as over Earth people and activities encountered during these voyages. He also has broad power as an Earth Ambassador may discover. Kirk feels these responsibilities strongly and is fully capable of letting the worry and frustration lead him into error.
He is also capable of fatigue and inclined to push himself beyond human limits, then condemn himself because he is not superhuman. The crew respects him, some almost to the point of adoration. At the same time, no senior officer aboard is fearful of using his own intelligence in questioning Kirk's orders and can themselves be strongly articulate up to the point where Kirk signifies his decision has been made.
Kirk is a veteran of hundreds of planet landings and space emergencies. He has a broad and highly mature perspective on command, fellow crewmen, and even on alien life customs, however strange or repugnant they seem when reassessed against Earth standards.
On the other hand, don't play Kirk like the captain of an 1812 frigate in which nothing or no one moves without his command. The Enterprise crew is a finely-trained team, well able to anticipate information and action Kirk needs.
Aboard ship, Captain Kirk has only a few opportunities for anything approaching friendship. One exception is with ship's surgeon Dr. McCoy, who has a legitimate professional need to constantly be aware of the state of the Captain's mind and emotions. But on a "shore leave" away from the confines of self-imposed discipline, Jim Kirk is likely to play pretty hard, almost compulsively so. It is not impossible he will let this drag him at one time or another into an unwise romantic liaison which he will have great difficulty disentangling. He is, in short, a strong man forced by the requirements of his ship and career into the often lonely role of command, even lonlier because Starship command is the most difficult and demanding task of his century.

Regarding the death of Kirk, Ronald D. Moore, co-writer of the script in which Kirk died, wrote:

"[...] I felt (and still do) that the death of Kirk was an important moment in Trek and that this very human character should experience the final act in every man's existence, namely death. Kirk had never shied away from promoting and honoring the unique experience of being human (indeed, that was in many ways the foundation of Gene's entire vision – the celebration of the human spirit). Therefore, it seemed that by killing him, by letting him really play out the human experience, he would become something greater than simply another comic-book hero that never dies and is never really mortal as a result. I find vulnerable heroes more compelling than teflon-coated heroes, and to me the death of Kirk made him human, and in the end, more heroic."
"I am very much against the resurrection of Kirk for that reason – it would rob the character of something very important: his humanity." (AOL chat, 1997)

Years later, Moore added:

"Killing Kirk was a great concept and had the potential to resonate throughout the Star Trek franchise, but the execution [no pun intended] was flawed and the impact was not what we'd hoped for on any level." [5]

Star Trek's writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman intended the new Spock to be given a hologram of Kirk Prime by Spock Prime to convince him of their friendship. His message would have bookended the young Kirk's promotion to captain and explained Spock's offer to become his first officer. However, the filmmakers opted to drop the idea without proposing it to Shatner as the actor was vocal about having a substantial role in the film and not a cameo. Kirk's lines were as follows:

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you... (stops, grins) I know I know, it's illogical to celebrate something you had nothing to do with, but I haven't had the chance to congratulate you on your appointment to the ambassadorship so I thought I'd seize the occasion... Bravo, Spock – they tell me your first mission may take you away for awhile, so I'll be the first to wish you luck... and to say... I miss you, old friend.
I suppose I'd always imagined us... outgrowing Starfleet together. Watching life swing us into our Emeritus years... I look around at the new cadets now and can't help thinking... has it really been so long? Wasn't it only yesterday we stepped onto the Enterprise as boys? That I had to prove to the crew I deserved command... and their respect?
I know what you'd say – 'It's their turn now, Jim...' And of course you're right... but it got me thinking: Who's to say we can't go one more round? By the last tally, only twenty five percent of the galaxy's been chartered... I'd call that negligent. Criminal even – an invitation. You once said being a starship captain was my first, best destiny... if that's true, then yours is to be by my side. If there's any true logic to the universe... we'll end up on that bridge again someday. Admit it, Spock. For people like us, the journey itself... is home." [6]


Accepted canon regarding Kirk's early life before the Enterprise, and gaps between events portrayed in films, are scarce and ambiguous. The following notes attempt to reconcile the "mysteries" of Kirk and canon, but these questions may never be satisfactorily answered.

The producers of Star Trek have stated - including on the audio commentary - that many of the events of the alternate reality could have taken place in the original timeline. Some possible events include:

  • a rebellious youth in Iowa
  • disciplinary actions for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru
  • meeting Spock for the first time because he cheated on his test

Roberto Orci, co-writer of Star Trek, has said that in an early draft of that film, dialogue confirmed that in the prime reality, Kirk was born in Iowa and not aboard the USS Kelvin: "If not for the attack from the Narada, the Kelvin would've reached earth and Kirk would've been born in Iowa. The attack made Winona Kirk go into labor early." [7] The dialogue in question was likely Prime Spock's line in which he tells the alternate James T. Kirk that he was born on a farm in Iowa, to which Kirk corrects him, stating he (the alternate Kirk) was born on a starship. This line appears in the novelization of the film, which used an early draft of the screenplay as a basis.

Many have speculated and have accepted the date of March 22nd to be Kirk's birthday, as it is also the birthday of William Shatner, the actor who portrayed Kirk. However, this date has not been mentioned on-screen (except in the Starfleet Historical records featured in ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"). His hometown of Riverside, Iowa was also never fully canonically established on screen, although Star Trek mentions the Riverside Shipyard.

In March 1985, when the town was looking for a theme for its annual town festival, Steve Miller, a member of the Riverside City Council who had read The Making of Star Trek – a book that lists Kirk's year of birth as 2228 rather than 2233 as established in TOS: "The Deadly Years" – suggested to the council that Riverside should proclaim itself to be the future birthplace of Kirk. Miller's motion passed unanimously. The council later wrote to Roddenberry for his permission to be designated as the official birthplace of Kirk, and with Roddenberry's consent, the town developed a tourist industry around the idea. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home then established on screen that Kirk was born in Iowa.

James R Kirk tombstone

Gary Mitchell's tombstone for "James R. Kirk"

According to the infamous and incorrect "James R. Kirk" tombstone, created by Gary Mitchell in TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Kirk was born on stardate 1277.1, and was intended to die on 1313.7. That could have been the stardate Kirk actually assumed command of the Enterprise, with its place on the tombstone being part of Mitchell's morbid sense of humor. According to D.C. Fontana in the introduction for Star Trek: The Classic Episodes 1, when the mistake over the middle initial was discovered, Gene Roddenberry decided that if pressed for an answer on the discrepancy, the response was to be "Gary Mitchell had godlike powers, but at base he was Human. He made a mistake."

Gary Mitchell's recollections of Kirk at the Academy, from "Where No Man Has Gone Before", can be interpreted differently. One view is that Kirk was an instructor (or student instructor) and Mitchell one of his students. Another interpretation has Kirk as a classmate of Mitchell's, a bookworm who proved difficult to keep up with in class. Yet another interpretation has them both serving as Academy instructors, with Kirk being especially hard on his students. Dialogue from the episode does little to make it clear which is the case. The "little blonde lab technician" mentioned by Mitchell is often thought by some to be a reference to Carol Marcus; however, though it could just as easily be a reference to Janet Wallace or Ruth or some other woman with whom Kirk was involved.

The chronology of Kirk's latter days in Starfleet Academy (entry date of 2250), and service aboard the USS Republic and USS Farragut, is somewhat muddled. In "Court Martial", Kirk discussed meeting Ben Finney at the Academy, and that they were assigned together aboard the Republic, "some years later". According to many sources, including the Star Trek Chronology, Ensign Kirk's tour-of-duty aboard the Republic took place while Kirk was still an Academy cadet. In "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Gary Mitchell refers to Kirk a lieutenant while serving in the Academy, but it is not clear if this means a midshipman or a commissioned lieutenant.

In "Obsession", Kirk stated that Captain Garrovick of the Farragut was "my commanding officer from the day I left the Academy". In "A Private Little War" (taking place in 2268), he mentioned his first planet survey as young lieutenant on Neural thirteen years prior (in 2255) – leading many to believe that Kirk had graduated and was serving aboard the Farragut at the time.

Stephen E. Whitfield's 1968 book The Making of Star Trek states that "Kirk rose rapidly through the ranks and received his first command (the equivalent of a destroyer-class space ship) while still quite young." This has never been stated on screen.

One explanation of Kirk's problematic promotion history is that he received a brevet rank of ensign while at the Academy, and that his tour-of-duty aboard the Republic took place prior to his graduation as an advanced training cruise. Kirk would then have returned to the Academy, received a promotion to Lieuenant (or possibily Lieutenant Junior Grade), and served as a student instructor thereby fitting with Mitchell's statement that he remembered "Lieutenant Kirk at the Academy". It then would fit that Kirk would be commissioned from the Academy as a full Lieutenant in 2254 to serve under Captain Garrovick "from the day he left the Academy". However, dialog from episodes neither supports nor refutes this conclusion.

Kirk's days as a lieutenant commander and a commander are likewise vague since there has been virtually nothing discussed in canon regarding this stage of Kirk's career. That Kirk even held these ranks is unknown, with the possibility existing that Kirk was promoted directly to captain from the rank of lieutenant. Non-canon literature has touched on this subject somewhat, with explanations ranging from Lieutenant Commander Kirk serving as a first officer up to Commander Kirk serving as the "officer-in-charge" of the Enterprise refit project prior to his taking command.

Kirk's second five-year mission in command of the Enterprise, following the V'Ger incident, was never canonically established, but it is widely accepted by fans based on the fact that Star Trek: Phase II was to depict a new five-year mission. That show was abandoned and its pilot episode became Star Trek: The Motion Picture, while two other scripts were recycled for the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation when a writer's strike hampered production.


Outside of filmed canon productions, the character of Kirk has appeared in many novels, comics, games, and collectibles. While Kirk is the hero of nearly every TOS novel, he is notably the star of a series of novels by William Shatner (with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens) which stars Kirk, reborn after his 24th century death when the Borg-Romulan alliance resurrects and brainwashes him, intending to use Kirk to kill Picard. However, surgery performed by Doctor Julian Bashir, aided by Admiral McCoy, removes the implant controlling Kirk's actions, and the residual 'programming' is removed thanks to a mind meld with Spock. After his condition is stabilized and the Borg-Romulan alliance is destroyed, as well as a fatal blow delivered to the Borg Collective, Kirk goes on to form a close, albeit sometimes strained, friendship with Picard, as well as once again encounter the mirror universe as his other self returns to kill him. He even goes on to have a child with Teilani, a genetically-engineered Romulan/Klingon hybrid.

According to Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek: The Motion Picture novelization, Kirk was named "James" after his mother's "first love instructor" as well as an uncle (his "father's beloved brother"), and "Tiberius" because the Roman emperor fascinated his grandfather Samuel (See also: background).

According to several novels (such as Final Frontier and Best Destiny, both by Diane Carey) Kirk's father "George Samuel Kirk, Senior" was a Starfleet commander who was a close friend of Robert April and briefly the Enterprise's executive officer on its first mission. The novel Collision Course by William Shatner gives James Kirk's father's name as "George Joseph Kirk". The name of Kirk's mother is said to be "Winona Kirk". Crisis on Centaurus states George dies on the planet Hellspawn in 2250, but this was overruled canonically in the 2009 film with Spock stating George Kirk saw James take command of the Enterprise.

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