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Memory Alpha
Multiple realities
(covers information from several alternate timelines)

"But she was right, peace was the way,"
"She was right. But at the wrong time."
– Kirk and Spock, 1930 ("The City on the Edge of Forever")

Sister Edith Keeler was a female Human social worker in New York City, United States, in the 20th century.

In 1930, she ran a soup kitchen out of the 21st Street Mission. Known for her compassion and forward thinking, she sought to bring peace to the entire planet. But that same year, she was killed in a traffic accident. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever")

Alternate timeline[]

McCoy's actions[]

After he had traveled back in time from the year 2267 to the year 1930 through the use of the sentient time portal known as the Guardian of Forever, Doctor Leonard McCoy made the acquaintance of Keeler, who took care of him while he was in a delusional paranoid state as the result of a cordrazine overdose he had accidentally administered to himself. Keeler was a strong and vocal pacifist, and her ideas on space travel, new energy sources, and a peaceful society were so far ahead of their time that they brought ridicule from those at the shelter.

Consequences[]

Upon recovering, McCoy saved Keeler from dying in a traffic accident, unwittingly changing history. This resulted in the creation of an alternate timeline in which Keeler continued striving for her goals, and eventually founded one of the largest peace movements in the United States. Her actions finally attracted the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with whom she met on February 23, 1936, to confer on her plan of action for assisting the needy. By the late 1930s, the growing pacifism caused by actions Keeler set into motion delayed the United States's involvement in World War II for so long that the delay allowed Germany to complete its heavy water experiments and be first in the development of the atomic bomb. This, together with the V-2 rocket, enabled Germany to conquer Earth.

Kirk's and Spock's actions[]

Edith Keeler and Jim Kirk

Keeler and Kirk

In the future, Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock learned of this alteration to history from the Guardian, who told them that, due to McCoy's actions in the past, history had been altered and the Earth they knew no longer existed. Having no choice, Kirk and Spock opted to travel to the past through the Guardian's portal, hoping to undo the damage to history caused by McCoy.

Interactions with Keeler[]

Arriving at a point in time before McCoy's arrival, they met Edith Keeler, with whom Kirk quickly fell in love and the two began a relationship. Keeler also observed that Spock was a true and loyal friend who belonged at Kirk's side, seemed always to have so belonged, and was convinced that he always would. Keeler mistakenly thought that Spock and Kirk had served together in World War I, and that was why Spock referred to Kirk as "captain."

Necessities and discoveries[]

Being trapped in the past where money was still used, Kirk and Spock stole clothes from a fire escape and needed food to survive. Spock also needed to acquire electronic components to build a mechanism with which he could retrieve essential information from his tricorder. Keeler was able to secure work and living accommodations for both men. Upon reviewing tricorder data taken from the Guardian using a mnemonic memory circuit that Spock had improvised, Kirk and Spock learned that, to restore the timeline, Edith Keeler had to die.

Resolution and results[]

When he and Spock ultimately reunited with McCoy, while Spock held the doctor back to stop him from saving Keeler from the traffic accident, Kirk made the heartbreaking decision to stand where he was and do nothing to save her, thereby ensuring her death and thus the restoration of the timeline.
It was a testimony to the strength of Kirk's character that, though he had fallen for Keeler, he was willing, even at great personal cost to himself, to allow her to die to prevent history from being distorted. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever")

Appendices[]

Background information[]

Edith Keeler was played by Joan Collins, and stunt doubled by Mary Statler. She was listed as "Sister Edith Keeler" in the end credits of the episode.

Apocrypha[]

In the TOS novel Final Frontier, Kirk was so traumatized by Keeler's death that he retreated to his family's farm in Iowa, where he immersed himself in old letters from his father.

In the novel Battlestations!, Kirk named a schooner after Edith Keeler.

The alternate timeline in which Keeler was saved from death by McCoy was explored in the novel Provenance of Shadows. As suggested in the original episode, Keeler's influence grew, delaying but not preventing America's entry into World War II.

Numerous novels and comics have postulated that Kirk never got over Keeler's death and that he truly loved her. One example of this would be the The Final Voyage, when Kirk, being held prisoner by Klingons who had learned Talosian powers of illusion, was subjected to an illusion of Keeler willingly walking in front of the truck while mocking him about letting her die to save all history. This enraged Kirk and he beat the Klingon to death while berating him about how he buried himself in work, tried to lose himself in the Enterprise and other women, but that he had to make Kirk remember Keeler.

In the short story Remembering the Future, set after Kirk's death, Kirk enters the afterlife and is given the chance to change one detail from his past. Kirk decides to save Edith Keeler by having Spock mind meld with her to temporarily remove her ambition. Edith is then brought to the 23rd century with Kirk, Spock and McCoy when the Guardian detects that history has been fixed.

In the German photocomic adaptation Gefangen in der Vergangenheit published in Gong magazine, Edith Keeler was renamed "Eva Light", her face was replaced with a different actress and the setting was changed from New York to San Francisco.

External links[]

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