(covers information from several alternate timelines)
James Tiberius "Jim" Kirk was a male Human Starfleet officer in the 23rd century. He was arguably one of the most famous and highly decorated starship captains in the history of Starfleet. As the commanding officer of the Constitution-class starships USS Enterprise and USS Enterprise-A, Kirk served United Federation of Planets interests as an explorer, soldier, time-traveler, and diplomat.
His exploits were required reading for cadets studying Early Starfleet History in the 24th century. They included the saving of the Phylosians from extinction, despite it being a violation of the Prime Directive, along with his saving of the Baezians and Chenari years earlier, and a record-setting number of first contacts. This record stood until the 2370s, when Captain Kathryn Janeway set a new record by being the first Federation captain in the previously unexplored Delta Quadrant. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy", "Errand of Mercy", "Assignment: Earth", "Journey to Babel", "Elaan of Troyius"; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Star Trek Generations; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations"; VOY: "Q2", "Friendship One")
He was born on Earth in Iowa on March 22nd, 2233. (TOS: "The Deadly Years"; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" production resource) He was the son of George and Winona Kirk. His parents named him after his maternal grandfather, James, and his paternal grandfather, Tiberius. (Star Trek) He also had one older brother, George Samuel. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", "Operation -- Annihilate!")
In 2246, Kirk was living on the planet Tarsus IV during a food crisis that was starving the colony, which consisted of eight thousand people. Governor Kodos, sympathetic to old eugenics philosophies and unaware that relief ships were imminent, tried to save a portion of the colony by killing four thousand colonists he deemed least desirable or able to survive. The thirteen-year-old Jim Kirk was one of only nine eyewitnesses to the massacre. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")
In 2250, Kirk entered Starfleet Academy, with help of a man whose son later served on the Enterprise. (TOS: "The Apple") Kirk often spoke of his father as being his inspiration for joining Starfleet. (Star Trek) There he first met Gary Mitchell. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")
As a plebe, Kirk soon caught the attention of a boisterous, bullying Irishman named Finnegan. The upperclassman evidently hazed "Jimmy-boy" mercilessly throughout their shared time at the Academy. Fifteen years later, the Shore Leave Planet sensed Kirk's antipathy for Finnegan and produced a simulacrum that Kirk could pummel for satisfaction. (TOS: "Shore Leave")
As a cadet, Kirk participated in a successful peace mission to the planet Axanar, for which Starfleet Command awarded him with the Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission. (TOS: "Court Martial", "Whom Gods Destroy")
When he was a midshipman, Kirk began a friendship with his instructor, Lieutenant Benjamin Finney. Their relationship was so important to Finney that he named his daughter, Jame, after Kirk. (TOS: "Court Martial")
Kirk's academic studies introduced him to several men that he encountered later in his Starfleet career. Among his more prominent teachers was John Gill, a noted professor of history and cultural observer. (TOS: "Patterns of Force") Kirk studied the exploits, especially a victorious mission at Axanar, of Garth of Izar, a famous captain who joined Kirk's pantheon of heroes. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy") Another subject, the "Pasteur of archaeological medicine", Dr. Roger Korby, became a man Kirk wanted to meet. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?") As well, Kirk studied the military strategies of Klingon General Koord. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
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 making a third attempt, he 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)
Early postings and assignments
In the mid-2250s, some years after beginning his friendship with Lieutenant Finney, Ensign Kirk rejoined his friend, together serving aboard the USS Republic. When Finney made a mistake nearly catastrophic to the ship, Kirk logged the incident, which resulted in his friend being reprimanded and put to the bottom of the promotion list. (TOS: "Court Martial")
During the same period, Lieutenant Kirk worked as an instructor at the Academy. Cadet Gary Mitchell, who was a student in Lieutenant Kirk's class, where, according to the upperclassmen, "you either think or sink". Mitchell later remembered Kirk as a, "A stack of books with legs." 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," whom Kirk almost married.
In 2255, upon graduating from Starfleet Academy, Lieutenant Kirk began his service under Captain Garrovick. Kirk's first deep-space assignment was as a lieutenant aboard Garrovick's USS Farragut. As a phaser gun crew member, he was assigned to a phaser station. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "Obsession")
Later that year, the young lieutenant visited Neural on his first planetary survey mission. Kirk met and befriended one of the planet's natives, the Hill man Tyree. Kirk's report described a primitive but promising culture, and Starfleet endorsed him recommending a policy of non-interference. (TOS: "A Private Little War")
In 2257, the Farragut engaged the dikironium cloud creature at the planet Tycho IV. The creature killed Captain Garrovick and two hundred of the ship's crew. 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 ship's executive officer disagreed, stating, "Lieutenant Kirk is a fine young officer who performed with uncommon bravery." (TOS: "Obsession")
Commanding the USS Enterprise
Kirk's Starfleet service through the late 2250s and early 2260s was rewarded with a rapid rise through the ranks. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before") Kirk was initially quartered on Deck 12 in 2266, before moving to Deck 5, room "3F 121". (TOS: "Mudd's Women", "Journey to Babel")
Sometime in or before 2265, at thirty-two years of age, with the rank of captain, he assumed command of the Constitution-class starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) from Christopher Pike, bringing Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell along with him. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "The Menagerie, Part I") Also under his command was his former instructor, Ben Finney. (TOS: "Court Martial") Along with the Enterprise, Kirk also acquired Pike's science officer, a Vulcan lieutenant commander named Spock, as his first officer. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")
For five years, Kirk commanded the Enterprise from 2265 to 2270, which made him a legend in space exploration. (VOY: "Q2") In addition to his overall mission statement – "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life, and new civilizations" – Kirk received standing orders to investigate all quasars, and quasar-like phenomena. (TOS: "The Galileo Seven")
On more than one occasion Kirk and Mitchell took part in missions together, including one on the planet Dimorus, where they encountered rodent-like creatures that shot poisonous darts. Mitchell took one of the darts meant for Kirk, saving Kirk's life but nearly dying himself. The two later visited Deneb IV, where in at least three cases, Mitchell was capable of carrying long telepathic conversations with the natives, scoring 80% or higher on comprehension. On one night, a telepathic conversation with a female native had a deleterious effect on Mitchell. Kirk later stated that he'd been worried about Mitchell ever since that night. As a pun Mitchell referred to the girl as a nova. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")
Following a stopover at the Aldebaron colony, the Enterprise attempted to determine the whereabouts of the missing SS Valiant. After discovering the Valiant's disaster recorder, which described a catastrophic disaster following that early vessel's 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 its warp engines badly damaged, the Enterprise limped under impulse power towards the Delta Vega lithium cracking station.
The barrier triggered a transformation in Kirk's helmsman and best friend Gary Mitchell, who began developing psychic powers that progressed rapidly, with a commensurate loss of his Humanity. Ignoring Spock advising him to destroy Mitchell immediately, Kirk hesitated until after Mitchell killed navigator Lee Kelso. On the surface of Delta Vega, Kirk hunted Mitchell, and managed to kill him only 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 from astrophysics to the helm. Kirk did not settle on a regular navigator for another two years. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "Catspaw", "Amok Time", "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
On stardate 1512.2, Kirk made first contact with the First Federation, when the Enterprise was detained by Captain Balok and a massive spaceship under Balok's command, the 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 stardate 1533.6, Kirk and his crew made a brief first contact with the Thasians, an uncanny group of aliens. While interacting with Charlie Evans, a temporary visitor to the Enterprise, Kirk demonstrated prowess with judo, and deep-rooted compassion when Charlie's "teachers" wanted to return him to an isolated existence. (TOS: "Charlie X")
Kirk repelled the first Romulan incursion into Federation space in over a century, on stardate 1709.2. A Romulan Bird-of-Prey equipped with a cloak and a powerful plasma torpedo system destroyed four Earth Outpost Stations along the Romulan Neutral Zone. Kirk engaged and pursued the Romulan ship, disabling it before the Romulan commander ordered his own 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. Against Kirk's wishes, an android duplicate of Kirk was created too. However, the android Korby, after exhibiting madness, destroyed himself. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?")
On stardate 2817.6, Kirk responded to a call from Dr. 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 was murdered and other witnesses' deaths were revealed, Kirk convinced Anton Karidian's daughter, Lenore, to bring the acting troupe aboard the Enterprise. Attempted murders of Kirk and Enterprise crewmember Kevin Riley (another survivor) led Kirk to confront Karidian (who was indeed 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 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 Defense Attorney Samuel T. Cogley, and Kirk's former flame Areel Shaw acted as prosecutor at his trial, which was held on Starbase 11, convened by Commodore Stone. Kirk was exonerated after Finney was discovered alive, having faked his death and the evidence implicating Kirk. (TOS: "Court Martial")
When Spock kidnapped his former commander, Fleet Captain Christopher Pike, who had been horribly crippled, and commandeered the Enterprise in 2267, he inadvertently jeopardized Kirk's command. After Spock locked the ship on course to Talos IV, Kirk was a member of a tribunal that tried Spock, the other members being Pike himself, and an illusion of Commodore Mendez. Spock's crimes were in violation of General Order 7 and were punishable by death. Once it was revealed that Spock's ultimate goal was 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 arrange for his crew (and himself) to take some badly needed shore leave. While Kirk and his landing party investigated a candidate planet to determine its suitability for that purpose, they were beset with manifestations of hidden desires they had. In fact, they had discovered the Shore Leave Planet, and advanced technologies which an ancient, enigmatic species had left behind. (TOS: "Shore Leave")
On stardate 2124.5, a being calling himself "General Trelane (retired), the Squire of Gothos" waylaid the Enterprise. 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 was put on trial, albeit this time in an illusory court, by Trelane. (TOS: "The Squire of Gothos")
Kirk made first contact with the Gorn Hegemony and the Metrons on stardate 3045.6. Finding a Federation base on Cestus III destroyed and Gorn forces lying in wait, Kirk ordered the Enterprise to give chase to a Gorn starship that had been responsible for the attack, 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 removed from their respective ships by the Metrons and deposited on a desolate planetoid, where the Metrons forced the two captains to fight each other, threatening to destroy the loser's vessel. Kirk was victorious, but refused to kill the Gorn. Kirk's act of mercy impressed the Metrons, who allowed both ships to go free. (TOS: "Arena")
The Enterprise discovered the SS Botany Bay, an ancient sleeper ship, on stardate 3141.9. The vessel carried a group of genetically engineered Augments from Earth's Eugenics Wars, kept alive in cryogenic freeze. Their leader, Khan Noonien Singh, seduced Enterprise historian Lieutenant Marla McGivers, revived his comrades, and attempted to steal the starship – before Kirk stopped him. 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")
At the start of a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, Kirk and Spock met with the Organian Council of Elders personally and attempted to convince the Organians, who were apparently primitive, to accept Federation protection. Shortly after the planet Organia was subsequently occupied by Klingons, Kirk and Spock began conducting a guerrilla war against the Klingon occupation, but Organians abandoned their false humanoid forms and intervened, forcing an end to the interstellar war and imposing the Treaty of Organia. Organians predicted that, in time, the antagonistic powers would eventually become friends. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")
Responding to the Deneva colony having recently gone silent, Kirk found that a hive-mind of marauding flying parasites had killed his brother, George Samuel Kirk, 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!")
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 a savage, oppressive, Terran Empire had replaced the United Federation of Planets. A sadistic alternate version of Captain Kirk captained the ISS Enterprise, whose first officer was a ruthless, bearded Spock. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")
A distress call led the Enterprise to the crippled USS Constellation after an ancient machine, deemed a "planet killer", had nearly destroyed that starship. After Matt Decker, a Starfleet commodore who was now mentally unbalanced, 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. An energy being Cochrane called "the Companion" had kept him alive and young all those years. At Cochrane's request, Kirk did not log the encounter. (TOS: "Metamorphosis")
While visiting a Federation science colony on Gamma Hydra IV, strange radiation from a rogue comet affected Kirk and members of his party, causing rapid aging. Kirk's accelerated dotage forced Commodore Stocker, who was visiting the Enterprise, to relieve Kirk from command of the ship until Dr. McCoy discovered a cure. After Kirk was cured, he managed to maneuver the Enterprise out of the Neutral Zone and away from Romulan ships via a bluff. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")
On stardate 4523.6, the Enterprise was dispatched to Deep Space Station K-7, Klingons, Federation bureaucrats, and myriads of cuddly but prodigious tribbles tested Kirk's patience. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations") Unknown to Kirk, Benjamin Sisko and the crew of the USS Defiant observed and facilitated his actions after a Bajoran Orb brought them from the 24th century; 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. (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 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 failed to report in from a 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")
On stardate 4842.6, the Enterprise discovered the Amerind planet, where an ancient race, the "Preservers", had transplanted elements of Native American cultures that had been endangered in centuries past. When an accident separated Kirk from the landing party and caused him to suffer 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, the inhabitants worshiped Kirk as a god called "Kirok". During that time, Kirk took a wife. Upon the Enterprise's return and the restoration of his memories, Kirk was able to activate an ancient planetary defense mechanism, which the Preservers had left behind, and thereby destroy the approaching asteroid. (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome")
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 its 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")
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")
The Enterprise visited a Federation asylum on Elba II on stardate 5718.3. Kirk's longtime hero, Fleet Captain Garth of Izar, was committed as a patient. Garth, capable of cellular metamorphosis, assumed Kirk's form in an attempt to escape and commandeer the Enterprise. Spock was able to determine which man was truly his captain, and Garth was returned to rehabilitation. (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")
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 Flint had built to give him company in his final days of seclusion. (TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah") A century later, Captain Janeway of the USS Voyager expressed some doubt about this encounter. (VOY: "Concerning Flight")
An incredibly realistic simulacrum of Kirk's hero, the American President Abraham Lincoln, greeted the Enterprise 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")
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's 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 had 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. Kirk was regarded by DTI as a "menace".(DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")
When the Enterprise traveled back in time from 2267 to Earth of 1969 but was accidentally observed by the United States Air Force, Kirk, with Sulu, beamed down to a military base in Omaha, Nebraska, to destroy photographic evidence of the Enterprise's appearance. By warping around the sun's gravity well in a slingshot maneuver, Kirk and his crew managed to rectify the situation and return to their own time aboard the Enterprise. (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday")
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. Kirk found himself and Spock shelter in exchange for work, falling in love with a beautiful, idealistic benefactor, Edith Keeler. After Spock discovered that McCoy had prevented history's recorded death of Keeler, Kirk was forced to restrain the doctor from saving her life again, 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 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")
In 2269, Kirk and Spock used the Guardian of Forever a second time, 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 a nearly forgotten cousin who had saved his life during the kahs-wan, a Vulcan coming-of-age ordeal. (TAS: "Yesteryear")
The USS Enterprise returned to Earth in 2270. Kirk's successful mission resulted in his promotion to rear admiral and a posting as Chief of Starfleet Operations at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco for the following two and a half years. With Spock leaving Starfleet to return to Vulcan to purge all emotion, Kirk recommended Will 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 mid-2270s, V'ger, an energy cloud assimilating information from (and destroying) objects in its path, threatened Earth. 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 late 20th century NASA space probe Voyager 6, having amassed great power and self-awareness in its travels. When Kirk and his party discovered the true nature of V'ger and negotiated a visit to the actual probe itself, located at the heart of the 'V'ger' vessel, Decker used 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)
Following the success of this mission, Kirk commanded the Enterprise in the mid-to-late 2270s. His quarters were on deck 5. Kirk retired from Starfleet (albeit briefly) sometime before 2284 to pursue a number of personal goals and affairs, namely his relationship with a woman named Antonia. (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. A call from Dr. Carol Marcus alerted the Enterprise, which 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".
The subsequent engagement with his old enemy was tumultuous for Kirk, including a near-disastrous blunder disregarding Starfleet regulations quoted by Saavik that nearly doomed his ship and crew, a meeting with his estranged son, David Marcus, a difficult subsequent battle with Khan, and the resulting death of his friend of twenty years, Spock. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
The Search for Spock
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 soon 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)
Returning to Earth
After three months of exile on Vulcan, Kirk and his crew departed (aboard the Bird-of-Prey renamed 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
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 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 Constitution-class 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; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
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 called the Galactic Army of Light 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 Sha Ka Ree. The entity they encountered proved to be a malevolent force, imprisoned and looking for release. Sybok joined the entity in combat, sacrificing himself, permitting the Enterprise-A to escape. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
Kirk's career culminated in 2293, when the Enterprise-A was assigned to escort Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to Earth for a peace conference. Kirk opposed the peace initiative Spock covertly negotiated. He especially resented that Starfleet had chosen him 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.
The Klingons arrested Kirk and McCoy, then 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 Excelsior-class 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 Whorfin-class ships transporting El Aurian refugees, trapped in an energy distortion called the Nexus.
With the advice of Kirk, and the help of Scott 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.
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. Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise-D discovered Kirk within the Nexus. Kirk agreed to leave his idyllic but unsatisfying existence to help Picard punch the deranged scientist Tolian Soran, who was going to destroy 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 that Kirk could truly make a difference. 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 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)
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")
In 2258 of the alternate reality, Spock encountered the alternate reality version of Kirk on Delta Vega after saving his life. Spock was surprised to see Kirk who he referred to several times as "old friend" which confused the alternate Kirk as he and the alternate Spock hated each other. Spock was further stunned to learn that this Kirk did not command the USS Enterprise, rather it was commanded by his own alternate self.
When questioned about his prime self's father, Spock told the alternate Kirk that the prime version always spoke of him as his inspiration to join Starfleet and that his father had lived to see Kirk become captain of the Enterprise, surprising the alternate Kirk by his prime self's command of the ship. Spock later beamed the alternate Kirk and Montgomery Scott to the Enterprise, instructing the alternate Kirk to take command as the only way to defeat Nero. Before departing, Kirk pointed out Spock's changing of history as cheating and Spock told him that it was "a trick I learned from an old friend" referring to the prime Kirk.
While facing the alternate Kirk, the Romulan miner Nero who had originated from the Prime Reality referenced the James T. Kirk from that timeline, saying that he recognized the alternate Kirk from Earth's historical records. He then mentioned that that Kirk was considered " a great man" who later went on to captain the USS Enterprise of that timeline.
Following the Battle of Earth, Spock and the alternate Spock met in a Starfleet hanger. There the prime Spock told his alternate self that his friendship with his Kirk was one that would come to define them both in ways the alternate Spock had not yet realized and he stayed out of the situation with Nero to enable the alternate Kirk and Spock to see the potential of their friendship taking a similar path. Spock urged his alternate self to stay in Starfleet and foster that friendship with James Kirk, something the alternate Spock ultimately chose to do. (Star Trek)
In 2263, after Spock Prime's death, it was revealed that his belongings contained a picture of him with Kirk, as well as the rest of the bridge crew of the Enterprise-A, in the year 2287 of the prime reality. The alternate Spock discovered this picture and it inspired him to remain in Starfleet following the death of his counterpart and join the crew of his own reality's USS Enterprise instead. (Star Trek Beyond)
Intellect and personality
After his personality was split due to a transporter accident 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 Kirk's dual nature manifested itself in his 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 served 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 a 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 spent 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 orders and attempted to rescue Kirk and McCoy from Klingon imprisonment, 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")
Beyond his command skills, Kirk exhibited a comprehensive knowledge of starship systems. When Ben Finney's sabotage of the Enterprise caused the ship to lose orbit above Starbase 11 in 2267, Kirk managed to scramble up a Jefferies tube to effect the necessary repairs. After the "planet killer" nearly destroyed the USS Constellation, Kirk directed Montgomery Scott and a skeleton crew to salvage the ship, 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 the 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 was 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 the salvaging 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")
A textbook example of Kirk's ability to wield the Enterprise against a well-matched opponent was in the encounter with the USS Reliant, a Miranda-class 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 came 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 Lieutenant Commander Worf remarked that it would be an honor to meet Kirk. Lieutenant 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
He also mourned the loss of his friend Gary Mitchell, (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before") his brother, George Kirk, (TOS: "Operation -- Annihilate!") and his son, Dr. David Marcus. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) 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)
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")
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")
Under the euphoric, enervating influence of Omicron pod plants, the entire Enterprise crew mutinied, abandoning the ship for the 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, phasers were ineffectual against the cloud creature, 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 the 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 don't want my pain taken away; I NEED my pain". (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
The demands of Kirk's career required his best possible health, which Dr. McCoy closely oversaw. 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 Spock rescued Kirk from an accidental free fall, 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 eventually proved wrong when he died on Veridian III in the company of Jean-Luc Picard. (Star Trek Generations; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
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, roundhouse punches, two-fisted swings and open-hand slaps in varying combinations, and even drop kicks. One or two of Kirk's blows overwhelmed a variety of enemy guards and henchmen. 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 the Orion spy Thelev assaulted him, 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, a larger, more powerful opponent clearly out-classed Kirk, leaving him 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 the massive ancient android Ruk attacked Kirk 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
After beaming down to the planet Gamma Hydra IV, Kirk, along with Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Scott 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 amnesia while stranded on a distant planet; (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome") aliens also captured him twice and subjected him to physical trauma. (TOS: "Wink of an Eye", "Return to Tomorrow")
At the end of that year, the governing council of the planet Gideon attempted to use the Vegan choriomeningitis organisms in Kirk's blood to control their planet's overpopulation. (TOS: "The Mark of Gideon")
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 followed his call throughout their own careers, and were integral factors to his long success and lasting reputation.
By 2265, Kirk and Spock were serving together aboard the Enterprise and were familiar enough with each other for Spock to address Kirk as "Jim". 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 both Kirk and Spock'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 part 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 dozen times over! Isn't that worth a 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 led to 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 the Tholians presented 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, "Captain Kirk speaks somewhat figuratively, and with undue emotion, but what he says is logical and I do, in fact, agree with it." (TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy")
When Dr. Janice Lester, a former lover of Kirk's, took over Kirk's body, Spock performed a mind meld on Kirk while he was trapped in Lester's body. Spock believed Kirk was Lester before anyone else, 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)
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, Scott, Sulu, and Chekov, Kirk rescued McCoy from confinement and commandeered the Enterprise from Earth Spacedock. The renegade mission saw 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 the 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. During this meeting, Spock called the alternate Kirk "old friend" several times and felt it was good to see a version of James Kirk despite the terrible events of that day. Kirk, who had been accused of cheating on the Kobayashi Maru by the alternate Spock, told Spock Prime that his actions in changing history could be construed as cheating. Spock nostalgically admitted that it was "a trick I learned from an old friend", referencing the prime Kirk.
When meeting with his alternate reality counterpart, Spock Prime admitted to deceiving the alternate Kirk to force him and the alternate Spock to work together to defeat Nero rather than intervening in the situation himself to make both men see the potential of their friendship. Spock Prime explained it as "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." He then encouraged the alternate Spock to stay in Starfleet and foster that friendship, something Spock ultimately chose to do. (Star Trek)
In 2263 of the alternate reality, the alternate Spock discovered that even so long after Kirk's death, Spock Prime kept a picture of him and the bridge crew of the Enterprise-A amongst his personal things. (Star Trek Beyond)
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 when McCoy fired a phaser (unusually for McCoy) in 2266. When the M-113 creature 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 Commander Spock and Chief Medical Officer McCoy were to play 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'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)
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 the ship's 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)
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". (TNG: "Relics"; TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "The Naked Time", "The Changeling", "The Paradise Syndrome", "Elaan of Troyius"; Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
As the ship's second officer, commanding the Enterprise while Kirk led a landing party, Scott's personal loyalty to Kirk served as a bulwark against various ambassadors or potentates who threatened mission success. Usually, Scott 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")
When escape from the mirror universe via the transporter meant one of the Enterprise party had to stay behind to operate the controls, Scott stoically volunteered. After Kirk overrode him, Scott's one-word plea "Jim!" was one of the few times he familiarly addressed Kirk. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")
Scott kept his temper throughout Korax's barrage of taunts and insults thrown at Kirk, but a cross word about the Enterprise led Scott 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 Scott to quarters as punishment, the engineer beamed at the chance to catch up on technical manuals. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles")
Kirk observed Scott'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 Scott 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 Scott's behalf. If Scott 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 Scott'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)
When the V'Ger threat forced the newly refitted Enterprise into duty, Scott 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, Scott 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)
In 2293, Scott accompanied Kirk, along with Chekov, to the christening ceremony of the USS Enterprise-B. Kirk expressed to Scott his surprise over Hikaru Sulu finding the time to make a family after encountering his daughter Demora. Scott reminded Kirk of a saying he always said, "If something's important, you make the time." Scott also commented on Kirk's seeming restlessness, asking him if he found retirement to be a little lonely. "You know, I'm glad you're an engineer. With tact like that, you'd make a lousy psychiatrist", Kirk replied to him. Later, Kirk was believed to be lost in a hull breach in deflector control caused by an energy tendril from the Nexus. Making his way to the heavily damaged area, Scott mourned the loss of his former commanding officer. (Star Trek Generations)
Upon being rematerialized in 2369 after spending 75 years in the USS Jenolan's transporter buffer, Scott immediately remarked to Riker and La Forge that Kirk must have taken the Enterprise out of mothballs to come looking for him. (TNG: "Relics")
Though Hikaru Sulu was briefly an Enterprise physicist, he was transferred to the command division under Kirk's command, where Sulu became the ship's senior helmsman throughout the historic five-year mission. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "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", "The Savage Curtain") and on away missions as delicate as the timeline-risky visit to the 498th Air Base in Omaha, Nebraska, on Earth in 1969. (TOS: "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 discover Sulu had a daughter, Demora, on the maiden voyage of the Enterprise-B. Chekov had to remind him that he'd actually met her before, twelve years prior. (Star Trek Generations)
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 her, 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, and violence. That version of Kirk 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 started telling her that she was "too beautiful to ignore" and "too much woman." As he stalked closer to her, he claimed that they'd both been "pretending too long." Then, he suddenly grabbed her and began kissing her fiercely. The Kirk duplicate tried to pin her to the floor to rape her but Rand defended herself, leaving a large scratch on her attacker'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 the 2270s. (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 deadly virus which had been accidentally created by a life prolongation project on the planet. 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 Rand. 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")
When Kirk was a midshipman, he befriended Academy instructor Lieutenant Ben Finney. Some time later, Ensign 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")
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 was 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)
Often described as a ladies' man, 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. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")
While attending the Academy, Kirk was romantically involved with at least two women.
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: "Shore Leave", "Turnabout Intruder")
In the late 2250s, as an instructor at the Academy, Lieutenant Kirk was romantically involved with a "blonde lab technician" whom Gary Mitchell had introduced him to. His relationship with her grew serious, as he almost married her. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")
Kirk was involved with Dr. Carol Marcus prior to taking command of the Enterprise. She bore his son, David Marcus, 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)
In 2263, Kirk broke off a relationship with Areel Shaw. Kirk was reunited with Shaw four years later, when she was assigned as the prosecutor in his court martial, though Shaw was pleased when she lost the case and Kirk was exonerated of any wrongdoing. (TOS: "Court Martial")
During an Enterprise lab's Christmas party in 2265, Kirk met Dr. Helen Noel and danced with her. He used her first name to address her and engaged in brief flirtation with Noel that ended unsatisfactorily for Kirk. He later exhibited irritation when McCoy assigned her to help Kirk investigate Tantalus Penal Colony, and Kirk insisted on using her surname while working with her. Testing the neural neutralizer, Noel conditioned Kirk to believe that their previous encounter had been 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")
Also in 2266, Kirk met a girl called Miri, who was soon about to enter puberty, despite being about 300 years old chronologically speaking. Kirk attracted her to him by calling her "pretty" when they first met, and they went on to develop a close friendship. When the Enterprise left Earth Two (where Miri lived) shortly thereafter, Janice Rand told Kirk that Miri had really loved him. He accepted that, but said that he never got involved with older women. (TOS: "Miri")
Later the same year, 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 in "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 priority was always the ship, despite his personal feelings for women such as Lenore. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King")
In 2267, Kirk and Spock traveled back to the 1930s to repair damage to the timeline Leonard McCoy accidentally caused. 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 an automobile struck and killed her, thus restoring the timeline. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever")
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 her Elasian tears infected him. 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")
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")
Deela was queen of the (infertile) male Scalosians who hijacked the Enterprise in 2268. They planned to use the male members of the ship's 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")
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. He would later be reunited with a life like illusion of Antonia during his 75 years in the Nexus, which was, from a chronological standpoint, his longest-lasting romance. (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 turned out to be Martia who was ultimately double-crossed and killed.) (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
As Kirk became more and more well-known, these exploits became 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 the "he" to whom she had referred 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 lived 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 son 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)
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.
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 Khan Noonien Singh attacked the station. 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)
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 being 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. As Kirk and his crew made their escape from the collapsing Genesis planet, he somberly and mournfully said goodbye to his son. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
Kirk kept David's memory close, with a picture of his son in his quarters aboard the 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
- Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission
- Grankite Order of Tactics (Class of Excellence)
- Preantares 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 (TOS: "Court Martial")
- Leonard James Akaar – The Teer of Capella IV bears the first names of Leonard McCoy and James T. Kirk. (TOS: "Friday's Child")
- 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. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, et al.)
- 2233: Born to George and Winona Kirk in Iowa.
- 2246: On Tarsus IV, he was one of nine witnesses to a massacre ordered by Governor Kodos.
- 2250: Began a fifteen-year friendship with Gary Mitchell.
- 2252: Entered Starfleet Academy as a cadet. Was romantically involved with Ruth and bullied by Finnegan. During his time at the Academy, participated in the Axanar Peace Mission.
- 2252 to 2255: Befriends Lieutenant Benjamin Finney. Promoted to ensign and was assigned aboard USS Republic, along with Lieutenant Benjamin Finney.
- 2255: Promoted to lieutenant. Was on his first planetary survey mission at Neural.
- 2257: Graduated from Academy after defeating the "no-win" Kobayashi Maru scenario. Assigned to the USS Farragut under the command of Captain Garrovick. Encounters dikironium cloud creature while serving aboard the Farragut.
- Late 2250s/Early 2260s: An instructor at the Academy. Gary Mitchell was one of his students. Relationship with Carol Marcus ends; their son, David Marcus, is born.
- 2261: Breaks off relationship with Janet Wallace.
- 2263: Breaks off relationship with Areel Shaw.
- 2265 – 2270: He assumed command of the USS Enterprise for a historic five-year mission.
Specific accomplishments include:
- 2265: Takes the USS Enterprise to the galactic barrier, the first Earth ship to do so in two hundred years. During the mission, is forced to kill close friend Gary Mitchell.
- 2266: Achieved first contact with the First Federation. Later that year, repels a Romulan incursion and destroys a Romulan Bird-of-Prey.
- 2267: Became the first Starfleet Captain ever to stand court martial, charged with negligent homicide in the death of Benjamin Finney; charges dismissed.
- 2268: Responsible for stealing a Romulan cloaking device during a covert Starfleet intelligence mission. Experiences amnesia and lived among the American Indians on Amerind where he wedded Miramanee.
- 2269: Diverts the asteroid-ship Yonada from destroying Daran V. Nearly killed by Dr. Janice Lester with whom he'd had a year-long relationship years before. Trapped in a planet's past along with Spock and McCoy on a planet about to go supernova
- 2270: Promoted to Rear Admiral and assigned as Chief of Starfleet Operations.
- Mid-2270s: Accepted temporary grade reduction to Captain and assumed command of USS Enterprise to intercept V'ger.
- 2281: Retires from Starfleet.
- 2282: Meets Antonia and enjoys a romantic relationship with her until choosing to resume his Starfleet career instead of marrying her – a decision he later regrets.
- 2284: Returns to Starfleet as an instructor at Starfleet Academy.
- 2285: Assumes temporary command of the Enterprise during a routine training mission, engages Khan Noonien Singh in the Battle of the Mutara Nebula. Deserts from Starfleet later that year to retrieve body of Captain Spock from the Genesis Planet.
- 2286: Returns to Earth to face court martial charges. Subsequently, saves the planet in the Whale Probe incident. Demoted to captain for disobeying orders of Starfleet Commander Harry Morrow and assigned to command the USS Enterprise-A.
- 2287: Takes the Enterprise-A to the center of the galaxy after Vulcan renegade Sybok hijacked the ship.
- 2293: Along with Captain Hikaru Sulu of the USS Excelsior, was responsible for saving the Khitomer Conference: retired from Starfleet and was presumed killed later that year during the maiden voyage of the USS Enterprise-B.
- 2371: Jean-Luc Picard finds Kirk alive inside the Nexus. Killed while defeating Tolian Soran's plans and saving planet Veridian IV.
The wit and wisdom of Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk.
"Above all else, a god needs compassion!"
"This vessel... I give, she takes. She won't permit me my life, I've got to live hers."
"Double dumbass on you!"
- - Kirk, to Taxi driver (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
"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?"
"No beach to walk on."
"I wanna live! I wanna live!"
"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!"
"...Nothing is more important than my ship."
"You said you wanted freedom. It's time you learned that freedom is never a gift, it must be earned."
"In every revolution, there's one man with a vision..."
"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."
"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, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill... today!"
"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."
"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.
"Excuse me, Gentlemen... I'm a soldier, not a diplomat. I can only tell you the truth."
"Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate."
"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."
"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!"
"War isn't a good life, but it's life."
"Do you know the one, 'all I ask is a tall ship...?'"
"It's very old."
"20th century Earth. 'All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by.' You could feel the wind at your back in those days, the sound of the sea beneath you. And even if you take away the wind and the water, it's still the same... The ship is yours, you can feel her. And the stars are still there, Bones."
"You could serve as Human sacrifice."
"No I wouldn't enjoy that at all. Besides you seem to need me alive."
"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."
"Poor Matt... He gave his life in an attempt to save others... Not the worst way to go"
"What a terrible way to die."
"There are no good ways, Sulu."
"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."
"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!"
"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)
- - Kirk
"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?"
"You're too beautiful to ignore. Too much woman."
"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?"
"Worlds may change, galaxies disintegrate, but a woman... always remains a woman."
"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."
"Mr. Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That is the only planet in this galaxy that can make that claim."
"You sleep lightly, captain."
"Yes, duty is a good teacher. I see you've changed your dress-maker."
"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."
Kirk and Spock
"Spock, I think I'm in love with Edith Keeler."
"Jim, Edith Keeler, must die."
"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!
"Spock, I'm sick of your half-breed interference!"
"Analysis, Mr. Spock?"
"Very bad poetry, captain."
"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."
"Kill Spock? That's not what we came to Vulcan for."
"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)
Opinions of Kirk
"This officer's record shows him to be an insubordinate, unprincipled, career-minded opportunist with a history of violating the chain of command whenever it suited him."
- - General Chang, on Kirk's disregard for Starfleet regulations (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
|Commanding officers of the starships Enterprise|
|Enterprise NX-01:||Archer • T'Pol • Tucker • Lorian|
|USS Enterprise:||April • Pike • Kirk • Decker • Spock|
|USS Enterprise-D:||Picard • Riker • Jellico • Halloway|
|ISS Enterprise NX-01:||Forrest|
|ISS Enterprise NCC-1701:||Pike • Kirk|
|USS Enterprise:||Pike • Kirk|
James T. Kirk appears in:
- Star Trek: The Original Series: (Every episode except for "The Cage", First appearance)
- Star Trek: The Animated Series: (Every episode except for "The Slaver Weapon") (In "The Slaver Weapon" archive voice footage only)
- Star Trek films:
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Archive footage only)
- Star Trek: Enterprise (Archive voice footage only)
Actor William Shatner played James T. Kirk throughout TOS, TAS, and the first seven Star Trek films. Don Eitner served as body double for Shatner as the pair of Kirks in TOS: "The Enemy Within". Actress Sandra Smith also played Captain Kirk (in Janice Lester's body) in TOS: "Turnabout Intruder".
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 appears in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", and his voice is audible in the Enterprise finale, "These Are the Voyages...". Although he never appears in The Next Generation or Voyager, both shows refer to him on many occasions.
Kirk is the only example of a lead character in Star Trek who meanwhile served as an admiral, doing so in the films Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and most of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. (Although Star Trek: Voyager lead character Kathryn Janeway was shown as an admiral in Star Trek Nemesis, she wasn't the lead character in that film, with Jean-Luc Picard instead filling that role).
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.     Both Bridges and Lord have since passed away.
Gene Roddenberry, in his original pitch to television producers, described the character (originally named Robert April, then Christopher Pike) that later came to be known, eventually, 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."
- Christopher (later used for 20th century Captain John Christopher)
- Raintree (later used to identify Galloway in a TOS novelization)
- Kirk (the name eventually chosen)
"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 TAS: "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" was the Latin name for the river that ran through the city of Rome. The name might also possibly have been influenced by the maverick Roman politician Tiberius Gracchus. (See also: Apocrypha)(citation needed • edit)
- 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 that series, written, among others, by Gene Roddenberry and Jon Povill between May and August 1977, described Kirk as follows:
- "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 lonelier because Starship command is the most difficult and demanding task of his century."
In order to play Kirk, William Shatner attempted to stay physically fit. "I've tried to stay limber, and I've tried to keep myself in shape," he related. "Not for a little reason. For a great reason, because I'm playing Captain Kirk, and I wanted to be ready for each movie and not act my age." ("Strange New Worlds: The Valley of Fire", Star Trek Generations (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray)
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." 
William Shatner personally found portraying the final appearance of Kirk, in Star Trek Generations, was "kind of strange and sad." ("Uniting Two Legends", Star Trek Generations (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray)
Star Trek's writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, intended the alternate reality 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." 
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.
One of the ambiguities was when Lieutenant Kirk was an instructor at the Academy. According to "Coming of Age", there was an age requirement of 16 years for cadets. Assuming that Gary Mitchell was born in 2242, the earliest that he could have entered the Academy was in 2258. Of course, this raised the probability that the blonde lab technician might be Carol Marcus. Speaking of his time at the Academy as an instructor, he said in a line of dialogue from the script of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" that, "I sort of leaned on cadets I liked."
There was then the issue of the dates on the gravestone. Considering that the stardates used in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" were chronological, with 1087.7 being the earliest stardate mentioned (Gary Mitchell's birthdate) and 1313.8 the latest (the last stardate of the episode), then 1277.1 would fall within this range, being much closer to 1312.4 – the stardate on which the episode began – than 1087.7. This would imply that Kirk was born later than Gary Mitchell. The "C" which preceded 1277.1 was not defined further; one interpretation was that it could mean captain as "C" was an abbreviation used for captain in occupation and positions. 
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, had 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."  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 corrected 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.
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 from Iowa.
On the infamous and incorrect "James R. Kirk" tombstone, created by Gary Mitchell in TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Kirk's middle initial was R, not T. 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."
Stephen E. Whitfield's 1968 book The Making of Star Trek stated that "Kirk rose rapidly through the ranks and received his first command (the equivalent of a destroyer-class space ship) while still quite young." In the canon, the class of the ship was never mentioned, and the only reference to this first command occurred in the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
In the final draft script of "Mudd's Women", Kirk referred to himself as having visited Vulcan prior to the events of the episode (which are set in 2266). Precisely when he did so was left ambiguous, however.
Kirk's second five-year mission in command of the Enterprise, following the V'Ger incident, was never canonically established, but it was 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 had appeared in many novels, comics, games, and collectibles. While Kirk was the hero of nearly every TOS novel, he was notably the star of a series of novels by William Shatner (with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens) which starred Kirk, reborn after his 24th century death when the Borg-Romulan alliance resurrected and brainwashed him, intending to use Kirk to kill Picard.
However, surgery performed by Doctor Julian Bashir, aided by Admiral McCoy, removed the implant controlling Kirk's actions, and the residual 'programming' was removed thanks to a mind meld with Spock. After his condition was stabilized and the Borg-Romulan alliance was destroyed, as well as a fatal blow delivered to the Borg Collective, Kirk went on to form a close, albeit sometimes strained, friendship with Picard, as well as once again encounter the mirror universe as his other self returned 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 Star Trek II: Biographies, Kirk was born on 28 July 2182 on Farside Base, Luna to parents Eugene Claudius Kirk and Marjorie Wimpole.
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 gave James Kirk's father's name as "George Joseph Kirk". The name of Kirk's mother was said to be "Winona Kirk". Crisis on Centaurus stated George died on the planet Hellspawn in 2250, but this was overruled canonically in the 2009 film with Spock stating George Kirk saw James taking command of the Enterprise.