Star Trek Canon Special Note
Not everything listed in the origin is Canon. That is because only television shows and movies are considered canon. This being a comic website there are many things here that are not canon. So unless it is contradicted in film it should be listed as part of the character biography.
Born March 22nd, 2233 in Riverside, Iowa, Earth, James T. Kirk served in the United Federation of Planets, most often as commander of the Starfleet vessel U.S.S. Enterprise. He had an older brother, George Samuel Kirk, but "Sam" and his wife Aurelan died at Deneva in 2267, with his nephew, Peter, surviving them. As a child of thirteen, Kirk witnessed the massacre of 4,000 colonists during a famine on Tarsus IV, at the orders of Governor Kodos.
A family friend named Mallory helped Kirk enter Starfleet Academy, as a first-year cadet already breveted to the rank of ensign aboard the U.S.S. Republic. Kirk became the only cadet to beat the "no-win" Kobayashi Maru scenario, by secretly reprogramming the simulation computer to make it possible to win. This earned him a commendation for original thinking.
After graduation, his first assignment was as lieutenant aboard the U.S.S. Farragut, commanding a survey mission to Tyree's planet Neural in 2254. His discovery of the creature now known as a "cloud vampire" led to the deaths of his captain and 200 shipmates. Though he realized there was nothing he could have done to save them, the knowledge plagued him with guilt until his successful destruction of the creature years later as Captain of the Enterprise. Upon Captain Christopher Pike's promotion to Fleet Captain, Kirk succeeded him, retaining Chief Science Officer Spock, as First Officer.
The Enterprise Mission of 2265-2270
In 2265 the USS Enterprise was deployed on a 5 Year Mission of deep space exploration. The Enterprise crew discovered a record marker from the SS Valiant that told of disaster following a visit to the edge of the galaxy. Undeterred, Kirk attempted to breach the barrier, barely escaping destruction. His best friend and helmsman, Gary Mitchell, was powerfully affected by the barrier's energy. He soon exhibited psychic powers that progressed rapidly, while growing distant and disdainful of humanity in general. Ignoring Spock's advice to destroy Mitchell immediately, Kirk tried to reason with his friend until Mitchell killed the navigator, Lee Kelso. Attempting to maroon Mitchell on the surface of Delta Vega, Kirk soon hunted an escaped Mitchell with god-like power. Kirk convinced another officer undergoing the same transformation as Mitchell, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner of the danger such power posed. With her intervention, Kirk literally escaped his own grave, carved by Mitchell, knocked him into it, and fired on the cliffs above, triggering a rockfall that crushed and buried his best friend.
Kirk frequently bucked authority to save lives, violating the Prime Directive of non-interference in alien civilizations to save the Pelosian, Baezian, and Chenari races. When Governor Kodos, now known as the Executioner, was discovered aboard ship Kirk refused to kill him when he had the chance, allowing a more fitting punishment at the hands of Kodos' daughter. Even when Spock commandeered the Enterprise, Kirk supported him once he was told Spock hoped to restore his badly injured, paralysed former Captain, Christopher Pike.
Kirk also spared a genetically engineered human Augment, Khan Noonien Singh, a warlord in Earth's Eugenics Wars, who had escaped in suspended animation aboard the SS Botany Bay with 84 of his followers after conquering almost a quarter of the planet. Reviving aboard the Enterprise in 2267, after more than two centuries of sleep, Khan quickly brought himself up to date on its technology. Reviving his crew, he seized control of the Enterprise with the aid of Lieutenant Marla McGivers. After her sympathies turned back to Captain Kirk, he regained control and gave Khan the choice of taming the planet Ceti Alpha V or facing punishment. Khan accepted, quoting Milton's Lucifer from Paradise Lost: "It is better to Rule in Hell, than Serve in Heaven."
Kirk arguably saved the Earth on at least two occasions during this period. In 2267, a distress call from the badly damaged U.S.S. Constellation brought Kirk and a landing party aboard to repair her. A doomsday machine called a "planet killer" had destroyed and fueled itself on the planet of those who created it. It now attacked anything in its path, including the Constellation, and was on a course for Earth. Stranded on the Constellation, Kirk and Montgomery Scott restored the weapons stations and drew the planet killer away from destroying the Enterprise. Kirk then piloted the Constellation down the machine's throat, detonating it just before beaming to safety.
The second time was a more personal experience, beginning with the discovery of a sentient time portal, the Guardian of Forever. Dr. Leonard McCoy, unhinged by an accidental injection, leaped through the portal into 1930's New York City, changing history so that the Enterprise and Federation ceased to exist. Kirk and Spock journeyed to just days before McCoy's entry into the time period, and discovered that McCoy saved Edith Keeler, whom the Captain was now in love with, from a fatal car accident. Her efforts toward peace allowed the Third Reich to be the first to create Nuclear Weaponry, and from there, to conquer the Earth. Realizing he must kill the woman he loved, Kirk agonizingly held McCoy back as his love died in the accident.
After adventures as varied as repelling a cloaked Romulan incursion, placing planets patterned after Chicago, Illinois era gangsters and the Third Reich each on a path toward freedom, and killing a 11,000 mile-long cell in space cloaked in negative energy, Kirk became the first Starfleet Captain to return from a Five Year Mission.
Upon his return to Earth in 2270, Kirk was promoted to rear admiral, posted to Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco. His first saved the Earth from the entity V'ger in 2271. It was an energy cloud assimilating information from objects in its path, by destroying them, and was approaching Earth. Kirk replaced Willard Decker, becoming Captain of the Enterprise once more. "V'ger" turned out to be NASA's Voyager 6 probe, which had become self aware and developed great power, like Nomad, another sentient probe Kirk defeated in his first Five Year Mission by confronting it with errors in its program. Decker willingly merged with the entity, which was forming into a simulacrum of his beloved Ilia, to save the Enterprise and its crew. An entirely new form of life was the result.
After another Five Year Mission, he supervised cadets at Starfleet Academy as an admiral in 2284. He was welcomed aboard the Enterprise as an observer by Captain Spock, when a call from Dr. Carol Marcus relating to the Genesis Device drew them toward her position on the space station Regula I. Spock insisted on Kirk taking command. When the U.S.S. Reliant approached without hailing them, Kirk did not raise shields, and was fired on. When Khan appeared on the viewscreen, Kirk realized he had been lured into a trap. After buying time by pretending to surrender, Kirk used the Reliant's prefix code to lower their shields and strike back.
Evading him, Khan was certain of victory later when he left Kirk stranded in the center of a planet. There, Kirk met his son by Dr. Marcus, David Marcus, and examined the Genesis cave with him. A ruse with Spock had fooled Khan, and Kirk and the scientists beamed up to the Enterprise. Seeing Kirk escape, Khan was in a rage, and the Captain lured him into the Mutara Nebula. Letting Khan's ship overshoot his, Kirk then fired on the Reliant. Nearly dead, on a broken ship, Khan activated the Genesis device. The Enterprise's warp core damaged, there was no way they could warp away from the imminent detonation. Until Spock, placing his katra within Dr. McCoy without his knowledge, then manually repaired the warp core.
After warping out of danger, Genesis activated, wiping out the Reliant and everything within the interstellar cloud. A new world, the Genesis planet, with developing life was left in its wake. Devastated by warp core radiation, Spock died assuring Kirk, "I have been... and always shall be... your friend." Grief stricken at the loss of his best friend, Kirk had Spock's remains placed in a coffin. Eulogizing the half human, half Vulcan Spock, Kirk said, "Of all the souls I've encountered in my travels, his was the most... human." The coffin was fired through the ship's torpedo tube into space, landing on the Genesis planet. The body within began to regenerate.
Devastated by the loss of his best friend, Kirk returned to Earth in 2285 aware that McCoy was still more distraught, with signs of mental illness. Planning to return to the Genesis Planet after repairs to his starship, the Commander of Starfleet Admiral Morrow refused to permit the trip, and informed him the Enterprise would be decommissioned. Ambassador Sarek confronted Kirk about Spock's katra, a Vulcan's mental life record, certain he had left it in the Captain. After investigating ship's records, Kirk realized Spock had imparted it via mind meld to McCoy. Kirk's core officers immediately agreed to rescue the detained McCoy, steal the Enterprise, recover Spock's body from Genesis, and restore his katra to it on Vulcan. At Genesis, the Klingon Kruge's Bird-of-Prey attacked and disabled the Enterprise. Kirk and his crew abandoned ship for the planet's surface, after engaging the destruct sequence. The Enterprise was destroyed, along with a Klingon boarding party. Kirk found Saavik, who had brought Spock's rapidly maturing body through the pon farr ceremony, killed Kruge in hand-to-hand combat, enraged at the Klingon's murder of his son, David. Kirk used a Klingon command over Kruge's communicator to beam onto the Bird-of-Prey, seizing it with his crew and warping to Vulcan, where Spock was restored.
After three months on Vulcan, Kirk and his crew departed aboard the Bird-of-Prey they christened the "HMS Bounty" for Earth, to face charges of violating nine Starfleet General orders and regulations. During the journey, an unstoppable alien probe besieged Earth, communicating only in whale song. After answering Earth's distress signal, Kirk used the slingshot effect to take the Bounty back in time to 1986 San Francisco, returning to 2286 with the humpback whales George and Gracie: the second time he saved the Earth. The Federation president declared to Kirk, "we are forever in your debt". Dismissing all charges facing the crew save one charge of disobeying the orders of a superior officer against Kirk, the "punishment" was a permanent reduction in rank to captain. He was returned to duty on the newly constructed Constitution-class starship, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A), commanding the Enterprise-A for the next seven years.
The culmination of Kirk's career was briefly hijacked, along with his ship, in 2287 by Spock's half brother Sybok, traveling to meet "God" through the Great Barrier on the legendary planet Sha Ka Ree. The malevolent force they encountered there was fought by Sybok, permitting the Enterprise-A to escape. In 2293, the Enterprise-A escorted Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to Earth for a peace conference, against Kirk's wishes. He resented being chosen the Federation's olive branch when a Klingon had killed his son. A cabal of Federation and Klingon officials assassinated Gorkon, framing the Enterprise-A in the process. Kirk and McCoy were arrested by the Klingons, who tried and convicted them for his murder, sentencing them to the Rura Penthe penal asteroid. Spock violated orders and treaties, eluding detection as the Enterprise-A entered Klingon space. Kirk escaped from prison with McCoy, nearly killed by a shapeshifting fellow prisoner in the process, and was beamed aboard by Spock. Warping to Khitomer, the Enterprise was nearly destroyed by General Chang in a Bird-of-Prey prototype that could fire while cloaked, but after performing "surgery" on a photon torpedo with McCoy, Kirk destroyed the craft in tandem with Captain Sulu at the Battle of Khitomer. Kirk saved the Federation president from assassination, and the historic Khitomer Conference continued.
Enterprise-A was decommissioned, and Kirk retired permanently from Starfleet. Shortly after retirement in 2293, Kirk joined his friends Montgomery Scott and Pavel Chekov as honored guests of Captain John Harriman on the maiden voyage of the Excelsior-class starship USS Enterprise-B. This ceremonial cruise, with the Enterprise-B not crewed or equipped for regular duty, soon received a distress signal from two refugee transport ships, trapped in an energy distortion called the Nexus. With the retirees advice, the rescue mission was a partial success, but the Enterprise-B began slipping into the Nexus' gravity field. For once declining an offer of command, Kirk offered to modify the ship's deflector relays. He succeeded, and the ship escaped, but not before a burst of energy from the Nexus breached the secondary hull. Kirk was lost, presumed dead. But like Spock on Genesis, he would be rediscovered.
In 2371 Kirk was discovered within the Nexus by Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise, having been pulled within it during the breach of the Enterprise-B's hull, yet unaware of the passage of 78 years because of the non-linear nature of time within the Nexus. Kirk agreed to leave his idyllic but unsatisfying existence in the Nexus, to help Picard stop the deranged scientist Dr. Tolian Soran from destroying Veridian IV merely to reenter the Nexus. Kirk advised Picard to refuse anything that would take him away from the current Enterprise, because he would not be able to make a difference in the universe.
Kirk sacrificed his life to save the inhabitants of Veridian IV and crew of the Enterprise-D, climbing along a damaged metal bridge to grab the control panel needed to disable the missile that Soran would have used. The bridge plummeted down a cliff when its support beams broke. As he lay dying in the wreckage, Kirk was assured by Picard that he had made a difference. Kirk replied that his help was the least he could do for the captain of the Enterprise, and that "It was... fun. Oh my..." Captain Picard buried Kirk in a simple rocky grave on a Veridian III mountain top, much like Kirk's friend, Gary Mitchell, had intended for him 106 years before.
James T. Kirk was created for the television show Star Trek, and played by William Shatner in the second, successful pilot for the series. Horatio Hornblower, the fictional captain tortured by every failure to protect his crew and beloved ship, was an inspiration for the character.
Major Story Arcs
A Transporter malfunction due to an ion storm beams Kirk into a Mirror Universe version of his ship: the “I.S.S” Enterprise. In this universe, the crew works for the “Terran Empire” and are ruthlessly militaristic. Assassination is seen as a means to promotion, so officers bring knives, sidearms, and bodyguards with them, as well as Agonizers that superiors use to torture them for minor infractions. Failure results in torture in the Agony Booth or execution. Kirk soon wins the trust and affections of Lieutenant Marlena Moreau after she realizes he is not “her” Kirk.
She shows him the Tantalus Field, a device that kills or disarms opponents at a distance, which the Mirror Kirk used to eliminate rivals. After realizing Mirror Spock has the same personality as the original, Kirk appeals to him by suggesting the Federation framework is the most logical. While Mirror Spock agrees, he says that one must have power. In his greatest violation of the Prime Directive, just before beaming back to his universe's Enterprise via a modified transporter, Kirk tells Mirror Spock about the Tantalus Field, hopeful that Spock will set his universe right in time.
The New Reality
James T. Kirk in the reboot Star Trek movie is played by Christopher Pine. The original, aged Spock (Leonard Nimoy) cameos as a future Spock from an alternate reality in which the TV series is canon. Due to the premature death of Kirk's father in the new reality, he has a more abrasive personality than the original Kirk, causing tension between him and Spock, rather than the friendship the elder Spock remembers. This abrasiveness causes the Fleet to make Spock captain of the Enterprise, and Kirk first officer. But over time, they overcome their differences, Kirk becomes captain, and Spock resumes his role as first officer.
The Captain is renowned for defeating bigger adversaries in single combat. Using an eclectic mix of Judo, boxing, and wrestling moves Kirk has taken down a Mugato, the Klingon Kruge, and his Augment nemesis, Khan. Unable to best the Gorn hand-to-hand, Kirk gathered alien plants and minerals to create a cannon that fired a large diamond at his opponent, though Kirk then refused to kill him for sport.
Kirk’s knowledge of ship’s systems and weapons tech allows for last gasp victories over superior forces. His work with Mister Scott to turn a derelict, damaged starship back into a fighting vessel and, finally, a bomb, overcame the doomsday weapon that had killed its creators. When his damaged ship was about to succumb to a planet's gravity, he ascended a Jeffries tube to restore the systems and escape.
Kirk preferred subtlety to brute force, and often played on the ambitions and emotions of those who opposed him. Even allies like Spock needed appeals to logic; McCoy, to basic humanity. Kirk used paradoxes or harping on errors to overcome Nomad and other artificial intelligences. But he exploited jealousy to create dissension in the enemy camp, as well.
Possessed of an exuberant vitality and personal magnetism, Kirk would frequently attempt to charm his opposition into joining him instead. He often convinced female adversaries in particular to become double agents or to openly rebel alongside him. He did not bring his newfound allies aboard the Enterprise as crew or to resettle them, however, as that would violate the Prime Directive. But it meant leaving many women he had dearly loved.
Kirk's undercover identities included colonial Earth citizen, Native American betrothed to Miramanee, Romulan, and the role he found most distasteful, an SS Nazi officer. Historian John Gill had violated the Prime Directive, using a Third Reich ideology and framework of power to try to advance the civilization of Ekos more efficiently. Kirk donned the uniform only to aid his revered professor and prevent the Ekosian "final solution" planned against Zeon.