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James T. Kirk

Universe : Prime Timeline
Name : James T. Kirk [1]
Species : Humans

Early Life

James Tiberius Kirk [2] was born on Earth in Iowa. [3] By 2233 he had moved to Tarsus III, where he was living during the crisis that destroyed most of the colony's food supply. Unaware of the imminent arrival of a relief convoy, Governor Kodos had one half of the population of the colony executed so as to prolong supplies for the remainder. Kirk was one of nine people who witnessed the massacre, which brought Kodos lasting infamy. [4] Kirk's father, George, was a major source of inspiration in his life and he would recall how proud his father was to see James take command of the USS Enterprise. [5]


Kirk enlisted in Starfleet Academy with the help of a man named Mallory, whose son would later serve under Kirk on the USS Enterprise. [6] Kirk gained a reputation as a hard worker at the academy - his close friend Gary Mitchell would later refer to him as "a stack of books with legs". Whilst at the Academy Kirk was assigned to teach some classes. Upperclassmen often warned new cadets that in Kirk's class "you either think or sink". [1] Possibly Kirk's most notorious incident came when he took the Kobayashi Maru scenario which was designed to test the character of a cadet faced with a "no-win" situation. Kirk stubbornly refused to admit that any situation had no resolution, and after failing twice he reprogrammed the simulation so that it was indeed possible to succeed, becoming the only person in Starfleet history to beat the no win scenario. Kirk's daring action earned him a commendation for original thinking. [7]

During his time at the academy Kirk served as an Ensign on the NCC-1371, USS Republic. On one occasion he was forced to log a mistake made by his friend Ben Finney, earning his friend a reprimand. Finney would long harbour a grudge against Kirk over the incident. [8]

Kirk's first post after graduation was as a Lieutenant under Captain Garrovick on the NCC-1547 USS Farragut, where he served as tactical officer. On Tycho IV a dikironium cloud creature killed 200 of the Farragut's crew, including Garrovick. Kirk would long blame himself for the incident because he hesitated to fire when faced by the creature. However, the Farragut's first officer noted that Kirk was "a fine young officer who performed with uncommon bravery". [9]

As a Lieutenant Kirk surveyed the planet Neural, becoming a personal friend of the leader of the Hill People, Tyree. Kirk recommended that the Federation fully enforce the policy of non-interference on the planet. [10]

By 2264 he had been promoted to Captain and assigned command of the NCC-1701 USS Enterprise, replacing Captain Christopher Pike. [11] His exploits on board the Enterprise made his a legend within Starfleet. He made more first contacts than any other captain in Starfleet history, a record even Captain Janeway did not equal in her time aboard Voyager. [12] Kirk's first contacts included those with the First Federation [13], the Thasians [14], the Gorn, the Metrones [15], the Melkotians [16], Miri's people [17], the Horta [18], the Organians [19], the Platonians [20], the Kelvans [21], the Vians [22], the Scalosians [23], the Cheronians [24], the Excalbians [25] and others. His five year mission was regarded even a century later as one of the greatest chapters in Starfleet history. [26]

Although often a stickler for the rules, Kirk was not afraid to violate them when he believed the cause justified it. Over his career he saved at least three entire civilisations from extinction - the Pelosians, Baezians and Chenari - despite having to violate the Prime Directive to do so. [26] In 2267 he refused to attend the inauguration ceremonies on Altair VI despite direct orders to do so, instead going to Vulcan so that Commander Spock could fulfil his pon'farr. [27] In the same year Kirk was suspected of causing the death of one his crewmembers, Ben Finney, through negligence and of committing perjury to cover this fact up. He became the first Starfleet Captain ever to stand trial, angrily refusing any deal offered by the prosecution so as to get his day in court. A spirited defence by attourney at law Sam T. Cogley proved Kirk's innocence beyond any possible doubt when Finney was discovered to still be alive, having staged his own death. [28]

Kirk regarded himself primarily as a soldier rather than a diplomat [29], but he was trained in diplomacy. [30] Kirk would rarely use force except as a last resort, but when required he could demonstrate tremendous personal bravery. A skilled and determined hand to hand fighter who mixed and matched various fighting styles as needed, Kirk rarely lost anything remotely approaching a fair fight. [31] On one occasion he was able to gain the upper hand over an entire room full of Eminians despite the fact that several of them were armed - much to Spock's chagrin when he arrived with a rescue party a few moments later! [32] His engagement of the Gorn on the surface of on Cestus III and subsequent one-on-one duel with the Gorn Captain after the attack became famous and was an inspiration to Captain Sisko over a century later. [33] When battling Doctor Soran on Veridian III Kirk rapidly gained the upper hand, something which Captain Picard had proved singularly unable to do shortly before. [34]

Kirk was also a highly capable in Starship combat. His skilled battle against the Romulan warship which invaded Federation space in 2266 resulted in victory against a vessel with the advantage of stealth and greatly superior firepower, convincing the Romulans to abandon their plans for a full scale war with the Federation. [35] Kirk frequently used misdirection and bluff against opponents with stunning success; on one occasion he bluffed a vastly superior First Federation vessel into believing that the Enterprise was fitted with a secret system which rendered it invulnerable to attack. [13] He used a similar bluff against the Romulans in 2267. [36] In 2285 He was able to trick Kruge into sending the majority of his crew to capture the Enterprise, which Kirk had set for self destruct. [37]

In 2268 Kirk began to display increasingly erratic behaviour, leading many of his crew to believe that he was suffering from a mental breakdown. On stardate 5027.3 he took the Enterprise into Romulan territory and was quickly surrounded. In fact this incident was part of an elaborate ruse which Kirk had agreed to undertake on Starfleet's behalf, faking a breakdown in order to provide the Federation with plausible deniability for his actions. Kirk was able to steal a Romulan cloaking device, giving the Federation a chance to counter this technology. [38]

So great did Kirk's reputation become that by 2287 the Klingon Captain Klaa believed that defeating Kirk in battle would automatically bring him regard as the greatest warrior in the entire galaxy. [39] In 2293 Starfleet believed that Kirk's mere presence alongside the Klingon peace mission to Earth would prevent any attempted attack. [2]

Several of Kirk's missions involved time travel, and his actions in the past would later earn him infamy with Starfleet's Temporal Investigations agency. In all Kirk amassed no less than seventeen separate temporal violations, the biggest file on record as of 2373. One Temporal Investigations agent summed up the organisation's attitude towards Kirk when he claimed "the man was a menace". [33] However, his actions in the past saved Humanity from extinction on at least one occasion. [3]

After the five year mission of exploration ended the Enterprise returned to Earth. Kirk was promoted to Rear Admiral and became Chief of Starfleet Operations. On his recommendation Captain Decker replaced him as captain, supervising the extensive refit which the ship underwent at this time. In 2271 Kirk claimed the Captaincy back to deal with the V'ger crisis personally, over Decker's objections. [40] He eventually retired, but missed the service and returned to Starfleet again. [34] He took command of Starfleet Academy for a time, but did not find this a terribly fulfilling post. Kirk was again thrust into action in 2284 when Khan Noonian Singh attempted to steal the Genesis Device whilst the Enterprise was in the area on a training mission. Despite having to cope with a ship full of trainees, Kirk was able to thwart Khan's plans and ultimately left him to be killed when the Genesis Device was detonated. Captain Spock was killed on the mission, sacrificing his life to save the ship. [7]

Spock's death had a profound impact on Kirk and his subsequent discovery that his friend had implanted his katra within Doctor McCoy before his death led him to commit his gravest violation of regulations. With the assistance of some of his former officers Admiral Kirk stole the Enterprise from Spacedock and took it to the newly formed Genesis planet, hoping that the use of the device may have somehow regenerated Spock's body. This proved to be the case, and Kirk was able to return Spock's body to Vulcan to be reunited with his katra. Unfortunately the Enterprise itself was destroyed during the mission. [37]

After a time on Vulcan Kirk returned to Earth in a captured Bird of Prey. His return coincided with the arrival of an alien probe of immense size and power which was seeking to establish contact with the long extinct humpbacked whales of Earth, inflicting environmental devastation on the planet in the process. Kirk once again travelled into the past to capture a pair of suitable whales so that they could respond to the probe. He was ultimately successful, and the probe duly left the planet in peace. For their actions in saving the planet most of the charges against Kirk and his crew were dropped, and he was demoted to Captain and assigned command of the NCC-1701-A, USS Enterprise. [3]

Kirk once again faced retirement in 2293. For his last mission he was sent to escort the Klingon chancellor, Gorkon, to a peace conference on Earth. Kirk was opposed to the mission, and was suspected of involvement in the assassination of Gorkon when it appeared that Enterprise personnel beamed aboard the Klingon ship and murdered him. Kirk was tried and convicted of the crime and sentenced to life on Rura Pente. He promptly escaped and returned to the Enterprise, uncovering the true conspirators and rushing to Khitomer to prevent yet another assassination. Kirk finally retired from Starfleet for good shortly after this mission. [2]

Shortly after his retirement he was a guest of honour at the launch of the NCC-1701-B USS Enterprise. He was able to lend a helping hand when the badly unprepared ship was involved in the rescue of some El-Aurian refugees shortly after launch. Unfortunately he was feared killed in the mission when the part of the ship he was in was destroyed by an anomaly known as the nexus. In fact Kirk was alive and well in the Nexus, a realm where normal time and space did not apply. Kirk ultimately left the Nexus to lend assistance to Captain Picard in thwarting the plans of Doctor Tolian Soren. Although successful, Kirk was killed when a damaged bridge collapsed whilst he was on it. Captain Picard buried Kirk's body on a mountaintop on Veridian III under a simple stone cairn. Kirk's final words were "it was... fun. Oh my..." [34]


Kirk's relatives included a brother, George Samuel Kirk, his sister in law Aurelan and nephew Peter. George bore a striking resemblance to his brother. Unfortunately he and Aurelan were killed in the neural parasite infection of the Deneva colony, though Kirk was able to defeat the infestation before Peter was affected. [41]

Kirk was a friendly and approachable man who had many close friendships. In his early career his most notable friend was Gary Mitchell, whom Kirk got to know at the academy. Kirk appointed Mitchell as his navigator on the Enterprise early in the historic five year mission, but in 2265 Mitchell was affected by passage through the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy. He developed tremendous and rapidly increasing mental powers, leading to a drastic personality change which made him arrogant and dismissive of normal Humans. With the help of Doctor Dehner, who was also affected, Kirk was able to kill Mitchell. [1]

Kirk was also a close friend of Ben Finney - indeed Finney named his first daughter, Jamie, after James. The relationship soured after Kirk reported Finney for an error during their service together, earning him a reprimand, and Finney eventually developed an insane hatred of his former friend. [28]

Kirk's two closest friendships were undoubtedly with Doctor Leonard H McCoy and Commander (later Captain) Spock. Although during the early years of their acquaintance Spock's Vulcan nature would make him ashamed of his friendship with Kirk [42], he eventually fully accepted the relationship. When Spock was killed in 2285, his dying words were a declaration of friendship to Kirk. [7] Kirk in turn risked his career to resurrect his friend on the Genesis planet [37] and helped him regain full command of his faculties afterwards. [3] The three officers saved one another's lives on countless occasions during their time together, and despite their lengthy close service they eventually began spending their shore leaves together as well. Kirk would comment in 2286 that his fellow officers had become his family, and that he regarded Spock as a brother. [39]

Kirk counted on McCoy to speak his mind regardless of rank or other considerations, and McCoy was openly critical of Kirk despite their friendship. When Kirk argued his way back to command of the Enterprise in 2271, McCoy criticised Kirk's excessive pushing of his crew and openly wondered if it would not have been more effective for the mission to allow Decker to remain in command. Kirk rarely took these criticisms personally, but rather valued the input. Indeed so close was the relationship that McCoy abandoned his civilian life and returned to Starfleet service simply because Kirk told him he was needed. [40] McCoy could aslo be a great source of support for Kirk, as for example when he was depressed over the prospect of losing command of the Enterprise to a computer system in 2268. [43]

Although Kirk was not usually as friendly with his other officers as he was with McCoy and Spock, a feeling of friendship and family did indeed exist. This is perhaps epitomised by the fact that every one of Kirk's senior officers volunteered without hesitation to assist him in his theft of the Enterprise to rescue Captain Spock in 2285, despite knowing that it would almost certainly end their own careers. [37]

Kirk was famed as a ladies man [33], and had many romantic encounters. He was only too happy to engage in brief relationships to secure an advantage on a mission. For example in 2268 he seduced the Kelvan, Kelinda, in order to provoke her commander into a jealous rage. [21] As a captive of the residents of Triskelion he seduced his "drill-thrall", Shahna. [44] He also seduced Deela, Queen of the Scalosians, in an attempt to steal her weapon when she had the Enterprise hijacked in 2268. [23] Whilst on Rura Pente in 2293 he flirted with Martia, one of the inmates, prompting fellow inmante McCoy to wonder "what is it with you?" [2]

He also had many relationships of a purely personal nature. Mitchell set Kirk up with a blonde lab technician whilst at the academy in an attempt to divert his attention from being quite so hard on his students. Kirk almost married the woman. [1] Whilst at the academy he also had an involvement with Janice Lester. The affair ended badly as a result of Lester's intense self-hatred. [45] He became involved with Janet Wallace in 2261, but the affair ended because of career pressures. Kirk met Wallace again six years, four months and an odd number of days later. [36] Under the influence of the PSI-200 infection he revealed an attraction to Yeoman Rand, but felt it inappropriate to pursue any relationship given his role as her commanding officer. [42] In 2268 Kirk lived several months on a primitive planet whilst suffering from a case of amnesia. He became involved with a settlement of American Indians which lived there, and fell in love with Miramanee. The two married, but Miramanee was tragically killed shortly afterwards. [46]

Whilst on an alien amusement park which was equipped with technology capable of recreating anything a person desired, Kirk met a recreation of Ruth, a woman he had been involved with in 2252. [47]

In 2269 Kirk fell in love with the android Rayna Kapec. She returned the emotion, though this ultimately overloaded her systems and destroyed her. Spock helped Kirk to forget Rayna with a mind meld. [48] When Kirk was forced to spend some months in 1930s New York in an attempt to locate Doctor McCoy after he passed through the Guardian of Forever, he met and fell in love with Edith Keeler. When Spock discovered that Keeler was destined to die, and that her continued survival would ultimately cause Germany to win World War II and conquer the world, Kirk prevented McCoy from saving her from a fatal car crash. [49]

During his brief retirement he fell in love with a woman named Antonia, whom he considered marrying. Ultimately he decided to end the relationship and return to Starfleet, though whilst in the Nexus Kirk enjoyed the prospect of reliving his time with Antonia. [34]

Perhaps his most significant relationship was with Carol Marcus. The two had a son together, David. Carol felt that Kirk's career would be a detrimental influence on David, and asked him to stay away from the boy. Kirk complied until 2285, when circumstances brought them back together. Carol had not even told David who his father was, and David was angry at the Starfleet officer who he assumed was a militaristic stereotype. Although Kirk resisted the temptation to reveal the truth to David Carol did, and the two were finally able to talk as father and son. [7] Unfortunately David was murdered by a Klingon whilst investigation the Genesis planet shortly afterwards. David's death was devastating to Kirk [37], and he retained a passionate hatred of Klingons for many years afterwards. This was a major factor in his resistance to peace efforts after the destruction of Praxis in 2293. [2]

Kirk had many role models during his life, including historian John Gill [50], Captain Garth of Izar [51] and Dr. Roger Korby. [52] He was especially fascinated by Abraham Lincoln, one of the presidents of the United States of America. In 2269 the Excalbians recreated Lincoln as part of their study into Human concepts of good and evil. [25]

Kirk also had his fair share of enemies. Whilst at the academy he was mercilessly hazed by an upperclassman Finnegan. When an alien amusement park recreated Finnegan in 2267, Kirk was able to gain great satisfaction from a prolonged bare-knuckle fight in which he eventually defeated his tormentor. [47]

Hobbies / Interests

Kirk had an interest in antiques, and decorated his apartment on Earth extensively with items including ancient weapons and computers. [7] His interest in history was such that he could recite at least part of the US constitution from memory. [53] He admired the strength and resourcefulness of the Augments who took over much of Earth in the later 20th century, though he simultaneously condemned their methods and philosophy. [54] Kirk also had an interest in Earth's Ancient West frontier, which the Melkotians exploited in an attempt to punish the Enterprise crew for entering their space in 2268. [16] Notably, however, his knowledge of 20th century automobiles was rather lacking. [55] Kirk was also keen on martial arts [14], rock climbing [39] and horse riding. [34]

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation

Associated with

Crew of the Enterprise 1701/1701-A

Played by

SeriesSeasonActorFilm / Episode Title
TOSWilliam Shatner
TOS3Sandra SmithTurnabout Intruder
SNW1Paul WesleyA Quality of Mercy
TASWilliam Shatner
William ShatnerThe Motion Picture
William ShatnerThe Wrath of Khan
William ShatnerThe Search for Spock
William ShatnerThe Voyage Home
William ShatnerThe Final Frontier
William ShatnerThe Undiscovered Country
William ShatnerGenerations


# Series Season Source Comment
1 TOS 1 Where No Man Has Gone Before
2 Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country
3 Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home
4 TOS 1 The Conscience of the King
5 Star Trek XI
6 TOS 2 The Apple
7 Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan
8 TOS 1 Court Martial It is at odds with present practice that Kirk would be a serving Ensign whilst still at the academy, but Obsession makes clear that his first post after graduation was as a Lieutenant on the Farragut. Presumably this post was some sort of training placement akin to Nog's time at Deep Space Nine.
9 TOS 2 Obsession
10 TOS 2 A Private Little War
11 TOS 1 The Menagerie, Part 1
12 VOY 7 Friendship One Admiral Hendricks said Janeway had made first contact with more species than anybody since Kirk
13 TOS 1 The Corbomite Maneuver
14 TOS 1 Charlie X
15 TOS 1 Arena
16 TOS 3 Spectre of the Gun
17 TOS 1 Miri
18 TOS 1 The Devil in the Dark
19 TOS 1 Errand of Mercy
20 TOS 3 Plato's Stepchildren
21 TOS 2 By Any Other Name
22 TOS 3 The Empath
23 TOS 3 Wink of an Eye
24 TOS 3 Let that be Your Last Battlefield
25 TOS 3 The Savage Curtain
26 VOY 7 Q2
27 TOS 2 Amok Time
28 TOS 1 Court Martial
29 TOS 1 Errand of Mercy Kirk specifically states "I'm a soldier, not a diplomat".
30 TOS 2 Metamorphosis McCoy remainds Kirk of this
31 Various Original Series episodes
32 TOS 1 A Taste of Armageddon
33 DS9 5 Trials and Tribble-ations
34 Star Trek : Generations
35 TOS 1 Balance of Terror
36 TOS 2 The Deadly Years
37 Star Trek III : The Search for Spock
38 TOS 3 The Enterprise Incident
39 Star Trek V : The Final Frontier
40 Star Trek : The Motion Picture
41 TOS 1 Operation: Annihilate!
42 TOS 1 The Naked Time
43 TOS 2 The Ultimate Computer
44 TOS 2 The Gamesters of Triskelion
45 TOS 3 Turnabout Intruder
46 TOS 3 The Paradise Syndrome
47 TOS 1 Shore Leave
48 TOS 3 Requiem for Methuselah
49 TOS 1 The City on the Edge of Forever
50 TOS 2 Patterns of Force
51 TOS 3 Whom Gods Destroy
52 TOS 1 What Are Little Girls Made Of?
53 TOS 2 The Omega Glory
54 TOS 1 Space Seed
55 TOS 2 A Piece of the Action
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Where No Man Has Gone Before
Film: Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country
Film: Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : The Conscience of the King
Film: Star Trek XI
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : The Apple
Film: Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Court Martial
Comment : It is at odds with present practice that Kirk would be a serving Ensign whilst still at the academy, but Obsession makes clear that his first post after graduation was as a Lieutenant on the Farragut. Presumably this post was some sort of training placement akin to Nog's time at Deep Space Nine.
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : Obsession
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : A Private Little War
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : The Menagerie, Part 1
Series : VOY Season 7
Episode : Friendship One
Comment : Admiral Hendricks said Janeway had made first contact with more species than anybody since Kirk
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : The Corbomite Maneuver
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Charlie X
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Arena
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Spectre of the Gun
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Miri
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : The Devil in the Dark
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Errand of Mercy
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Plato's Stepchildren
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : By Any Other Name
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : The Empath
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Wink of an Eye
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Let that be Your Last Battlefield
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : The Savage Curtain
Series : VOY Season 7
Episode : Q2
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : Amok Time
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Court Martial
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Errand of Mercy
Comment : Kirk specifically states "I'm a soldier, not a diplomat".
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : Metamorphosis
Comment : McCoy remainds Kirk of this
Series : TOS Season
Episode : Various Original Series episodes
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : A Taste of Armageddon
Series : DS9 Season 5
Episode : Trials and Tribble-ations
Film: Star Trek : Generations
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Balance of Terror
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : The Deadly Years
Film: Star Trek III : The Search for Spock
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : The Enterprise Incident
Film: Star Trek V : The Final Frontier
Film: Star Trek : The Motion Picture
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Operation: Annihilate!
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : The Naked Time
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : The Ultimate Computer
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : The Gamesters of Triskelion
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Turnabout Intruder
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : The Paradise Syndrome
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Shore Leave
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Requiem for Methuselah
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : The City on the Edge of Forever
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : Patterns of Force
Series : TOS Season 3
Episode : Whom Gods Destroy
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : What Are Little Girls Made Of?
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : The Omega Glory
Series : TOS Season 1
Episode : Space Seed
Series : TOS Season 2
Episode : A Piece of the Action

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 145,682 Last updated : 2 Apr 2014