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Encyclopedia > Captain Kirk
Captain James T. Kirk
Captain James T. Kirk

James Tiberius Kirk, a fictional character in the Star Trek television series, was the captain of the starship Enterprise (NCC-1701 and NCC-1701-A). He was the leading character in the original series and the films based on it. James Kirk was played by actor William Shatner.


Fictional biography

Virtually nothing regarding Kirk's birth has been established in on-screen canon, except for the fact that he was born in Iowa. One speculated birthplace for Kirk is Riverside, Iowa though other real-life towns in the state have laid claim to the future Enterprise captain. His birthdate has never been officially established, but fanon speculation suggests March 22, 2233, based upon the real-life birthdate and age of actor William Shatner.

While a youth on Tarsus IV, he was one of only nine surviving witnesses to the massacre of 4000 colonists because of utilitarian extermination by Kodos the Executioner so that the colony could survive a devastating famine. George Samuel and Aurelan Kirk, Kirk's older brother and sister_in_law, died during the invasion of neural parasites on Deneva in 2267. Kirk's nephew, Peter Kirk, survived.

He had a distinguished career in Starfleet Academy, becoming the first person to defeat the Kobayashi Maru test that stymied cadets for many decades, even until the 2370s. Whereas any situation would be met by the simulator's overriding dictate that the cadet lose, Kirk won by rewriting the program to allow him to rescue the Kobayashi Maru's crew. His Starfleet serial number was SC 937-0176 CEC.

Kirk began his Starfleet career as a Cadet in 2250. While still a student at the Academy, James Kirk was granted a field commission as an Ensign and posted to advanced training aboard the USS Republic in the year 2251. He was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade in 2253 and returned to Starfleet Academy as a student instructor. Kirk developed a reputation as a "stack of books with legs" and it was said that in his class "you either think...or sink."

Upon his graduation from Starfleet Academy in 2254, Kirk was promoted to a full Lieutenant and served aboard the USS Farragut, NCC-1647. Kirk gained a tremendous amount of experience onboard the Farragut, commanding his first planet survey and also surviving a deadly attack by a gas cloud alien, in which a large portion of the Farragut's crew (including her Captain) were killed.

James Kirk's career between 2254 and 2263 has never been established in the Star Trek universe; however fanon has conjectured that he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander sometime around 2255. Further theories also hold that Kirk was promoted to Commander in 2260 and assigned as the Officer-in-Charge for the Enterprise Refit Overhaul, where the ship was completely redesigned and refitted following ten years of space duty under Captain Christopher Pike. Such duties would have made Kirk the ideal choice to become the next Commander of the Enterprise, which he was appointed in 2263 with a promotion to Captain upon Pike's promotion to Commodore.

Kirk became the second official captain of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. According to Star Trek: The Animated Series which is not considered canonical, however, he was the third, following in the footsteps of Captain Robert April who predated Pike as captain of the vessel. However until a live action television series or movie acknowledges April's existence, any information regarding April is considered fanon, not canon.

Kirk commanded the Enterprise's historic five year mission from 2264-2269. Upon completion of the Enterprise's mission, he was promoted to Admiral (apparently having skipped the rank of Commodore) and assigned as Chief of Starfleet Operations while the Enterprise under went a 2 1/2-year refit.

In 2272, to combat the V'Ger Crisis, Admiral Kirk accepted temporary command of the Enterprise over Captain/Cmdr Willard Decker who oversaw its refit while in dry dock. After the subsequent disappearance of Decker, Kirk appeared to take command of the vessel. It has long been suggested in fanon that a second five-year mission of the Enterprise followed, however this has never been established in the canon. Nor has speculation that Kirk accepted a voluntary reduction to the permanent rank of Captain for this mission ever been made official. Between 2272 and 2284, therefore, the details of Kirk's career are officially unknown (these dates are, themselves, speculative). What is offical is that Kirk retired from Starfleet sometime around 2282 (Star Trek Generations) and returned to Starfleet, appointed as an Admiral, in 2284. (According to some sources, including the producers of the film, and costume designers, Kirk's rank is Vice Admiral, however as this has never been stated on screen, by strict guidelines of canon all we know officially is that his rank was Admiral.)

By 2284, Kirk was in command of Starfleet Academy's training department and briefly took command of the Enterprise in order to pursue his old enemy, Khan Noonien Singh, and retained de facto command of the vessel following the death of Captain Spock. He was later demoted back to Captain after stealing the Enterprise and sabotaging the USS Excelsior NX-2000 in 2285 in order to revive Spock. Kirk was given control of a new USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A, which he commanded for several years until the vessel was decommissioned circa 2293.

With Carol Marcus, he had a son named David, who was killed by Klingons in 2285. He recorded in his log years later that he could never forgive them for the death of his son. This recording was used as evidence against him when a Klingon court convicted him of murdering Klingon Chancellor Gorkon in 2293; he was sentenced to a life term in the prison mines of Rura Penthe but was subsequently rescued and cleared of guilt.

In 2294 he was lost (and presumed dead) when the Enterprise-B was damaged by the Nexus Of Joy, through which he entered. In this alternate plane of existence, he was persuaded by Captain Picard from the year 2371 to return to planet Veridian III in the "real" universe and stop Soran from sacrificing 283 million lives in order for him to reenter the Nexus. During the final battle with Soran, Kirk was killed and his remains were buried on Veridian III by Picard.

His adventures and tactics are of legendary renown in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.


Kirk's middle initial was originally "R." This appeared in the episode Where No Man Has Gone Before, which was Star Trek's second pilot episode and the first episode to feature Kirk. In that episode a tombstone for Kirk appeared, bearing the name "James R. Kirk" and birth and death stardates. This appears to have been promptly forgotten about. Kirk's middle initial became "T." for the rest of the original series and has remained thus ever since.

The full middle name "Tiberius" first appeared in the episode "BEM" from the 1974 animated Star Trek series, and subsequently appeared in the introduction to the Star Trek: The Motion Picture novelization. It is explained that Kirk's grandfather Samuel was fascinated by the Roman emperor Tiberius. The name finally appeared canonically in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, in a scene where Kirk is on trial.

Book continuity

Shortly after Star Trek: Generations, William Shatner and co-writers Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens wrote a series of novels taking place after the events in the movie, bringing Kirk back from the dead, much like mainstream comic books. While the novels are not mentioned in regular continuity, they are often read by fans who felt Kirk had died an "unheroic" death and deserved something more. Critics cite an overdone focus on Kirk as the glorified hero, often leaving Picard and others in downplayed roles. These novels, which are not considered part of the overall continuity of the other Star Trek novels, are collectively referred to by fans as the "Shatnerverse."

Plot summary

  • Star Trek: The Return - Shortly after the events in Star Trek: Generations, a Romulan ship transports the body of Captain Kirk from Veridian III. The Romulans, having a vendetta against Kirk, use an "ancient alien technology" to bring him back, turning Kirk into a puppet for the Romulans. Kirk faces off against several characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation before being subdued, and is treated by Spock and Dr. McCoy, who are still alive in the 24th century.

Meanwhile, Picard, Beverly Crusher and others from the Enterprise_D are assigned to a special Borg strike team, with a new ship designed for this purpose. Kirk meets with Picard once more, and goes on to destroy the Borg homeworld located in the Delta Quadrant, disabling the Collective (albeit temporarily). He is presumed dead in the final explosion, but is transported away at the last second.

  • Star Trek: Avenger (needs plot summary)
  • Star Trek: Odyssey _ Collects The Ashes of Eden, The Return, and Avenger.
  • Star Trek: Spectre _ (needs plot summary)
  • Star Trek: Dark Victory _ (needs plot summary)
  • Star Trek: Preserver _ (needs plot summary)
  • Star Trek: Captain's Peril _ (needs plot summary)
  • Star Trek: Captain's Blood _ (needs plot summary)

Possible return to television

In the summer of 2004, media reports began circulating that the producers of UPN's troubled Star Trek: Enterprise series were in negotiations with William Shatner to reprise the role of James T. Kirk for a special series of episodes. As of October 2004, there remain conflicting reports as to whether an agreement has been reached, with some newspapers reporting that Shatner has been signed to appear, and others saying that UPN has balked at Shatner's asking price. Enterprise co-producer Brannon Braga has stated that, should Kirk return, it will probably be as an alternate universe version since the "real" Kirk died in Generations. However, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the co-authors of the so-called "Shatnerverse" novels, are now staff writers on Enterprise, so a tie-in with the Shatner novels is a possibility. As of December 2004, no agreement had been reached with Shatner, although rumors are rife that a deal is imminent. Manny Coto, one of the show's producers, and an unidentified Paramount Pictures spokesperson quoted in media reports, have both indicated that an appearance by Shatner is a possibility for the season finale. Shatner, for his part, has said he is more likely to appear in the fifth season, if the program is renewed.

See also

External link

  • "James T. Kirk (http://www.memory-alpha.org/en/index.php/James_T._Kirk)" article at Memory Alpha, a Star Trek wiki

  Results from FactBites:
STARTREK.COM : Biography (1090 words)
Kirk's ancestors pioneered the American frontier, and his Midwest roots tied him closely to American history, a lifelong interest.
As a child of 13, Kirk witnessed the massacre of 4,000 people during a famine by the governor of Tarsus IV, nicknamed Kodos the Executioner.
Kirk once contracted and recovered from Vegan choriomeningitis, but still carries microorganisms of it in his blood.
  More results at FactBites »



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