Actor William Shatner’s indelible performances, along with his iconic style of enunciation, made the character of Captain James T. Kirk into a global phenomenon and a cultural icon. Kirk first appeared on television over fifty years ago via the original Star Trek (1966-1969) series.
Brash, confident, and fearless, Kirk never backed down from a fight. And while their explorations were peaceful, the members of the U.S.S. Enterprise often found themselves in conflict with a number of aliens, including the Klingons and Romulans. Kirk always did his best to bring his crew through unscathed. Sadly, many “red shirts” died to bring the show to syndication.
Despite his suave and sophisticated ways, Captain Kirk often found himself in some of the most unorthodox and even ludicrous situations. But leave it to Shatner to pull off every crazy version of his iconic role. And that’s our heading, Captain. Here are the 15 Most WTF Versions Of Captain Kirk.
15. Bizarro Kirk
Parallel universe Kirk will kill you, and you’ll never see him coming. In the episode “Mirror, Mirror” (1967), an ion storm adversely disrupted the transporter beam as Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelly), Scotty (James Doohan) and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) returned to the Enterprise after negotiating for dilithium crystals with a benevolent race of beings. But a power surge sent the landing party to an alternate universe in which Starfleet had been replaced by a barbaric empire.
Aboard the I.S.S. Enterprise, Kirk discovered that his crew was one of treachery and bloodlust. Officers advanced through the ranks by assassination, and everyone was armed with phasers and daggers. To escape, Scotty duplicated the conditions of the storm by utilizing the engines to fuel the transporter. Luckily, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) of the bizarro universe was also a man of honor, as he helped Kirk and the others return to their world.
In one scene, audiences got a glimpse of the savage Kirk in the normal universe. The evil landing party had been found out by Spock and thrown into the brig. The unscrupulous Captain tried to buy off the Vulcan, but Mr. Spock simply found the whole exchange fascinating.
14. Old Man Kirk
Whatever you do, don’t use Code 2! In the episode “The Deadly Years” (1967), the crew of the Enterprise visited Gamma Hydra IV. Kirk and the landing party found that the colony there was suffering from a mutation that accelerated the aging process. Chekov (Walter Koenig) was frightened when he found a dead body, and the team quickly transported two surviving members – Robert Johnson (Felix Locher) and his wife (Laura Wood) – to the ship.
Before Dr. McCoy could find out why the Johnsons were suddenly stricken with extreme old age, the pair died. And the landing party discovered they were infected, except for Chekov. As the captain slowly lost his mental capacity to the aging process, Old Man Kirk was helpless to aid the Enterprise when she fell under attack from the Romulans.
McCoy realized that Chekov wasn’t infected because his fear earlier on the planet had pumped adrenaline through his body and immunized him. With the help of Dr. Janet Wallace (Sarah Marshall), McCoy created a vaccine that reversed the aging effect. Kirk regained his youth, rushed to the bridge, and saved the day.
13. Ghost Kirk
It wasn’t Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but the presence of a ghostly Captain Kirk did seem to deck the halls. During the episode “The Tholian Web” (1968), the Enterprise came across another federation vessel: U.S.S. Defiant. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Chekov transported aboard only to find the whole crew had murdered one another.
Space itself had driven the Defiant‘s crew completely insane. The team decided to return to the Enterprise when McCoy realized the ship was dissolving. The unstable nature of that space forced Kirk to wait while the others escaped to safety. Before Kirk could be extracted, the Defiant disappeared. Spock was certain that Kirk was still alive, and trapped in interface, but his spacesuit was running out of air.
Uhura, and later others, saw a spectral Captain Kirk roaming the Enterprise decks, but there was still the matter of the Tholians. In a race against time to escape the hostile aliens, Spock and Scotty figured out a way to flee and retrieve the ghost-like Kirk from certain death.
12. Evil Kirk
During the episode “The Enemy Within” (1966), the transporter was up to its old tricks. It once again malfunctioned while the Enterprise crew visited the frigid Alpha 177. Captain Kirk, Mr. Sulu (George Takei), and a geological survey team beamed to the cold surface to explore, but Fisher (Ed Madden) slid down a small hill covered in a mysterious ore and cut his hand. When he transported to the ship for medical attention, the strange ore affected the transporter system.
Kirk beamed up next and almost collapsed from weakness once he materialized. While Scotty helped him to the sickbay, another Captain Kirk appeared in the transporter chamber. Somehow, the ore had caused Kirk to split in half. His positive side struggled to maintain the strength of command, while his evil version ran amok and attacked Yeoman Rand (Grace Lee Whitney).
Unable to bring the landing team aboard for fear of splitting them in half, Kirk watched helplessly as Sulu and the others began to freeze to death. After finally helping Kirk capture his dark half, Spock and Scotty figured out a way to reverse the effects. Kirk was made whole again, while Sulu and the technicians on the surface were finally saved.
11. Heartbroken Kirk
The Enterprise was nearly torn apart by mysterious distortions emanating from a strange planet in the episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” (1967). It also led to McCoy temporarily going mad, and he fled the ship via the transporter.
Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and a large landing party beamed down to find him. Once on the surface, they discovered the cause of the distortions: The Guardian of Forever. The Guardian was a gateway to other times. While Kirk and Spock were distracted looking at images of the past, McCoy jumped through the portal. The Enterprise vanished, as McCoy had inexplicably done something in the past that changed history.
Spock joined Kirk, as the pair went back in time to retrieve McCoy and set things right. They were successful, but McCoy had saved a young woman named Edith Keeler (Joan Collins) from dying. It turned out her death was instrumental in the U.S. winning World War II. During his time in the past, Kirk fell madly in love with Keeler. Spock warned Jim that she must die to set things right. As a car raced toward her in the streets, Kirk was forced to stop McCoy from saving her.
10. “Native” Kirk
In “The Paradise Syndrome” (1968), the Enterprise visited an Earth-like world to prevent its collision with a planet-sized asteroid. Captain Kirk stumbled onto a mysterious obelisk. As Spock and McCoy squabbled, they didn’t see Kirk fall into the structure. Jim had accidentally triggered the opening beneath him with his communicator. Once inside, the captain was caught in the console’s energy beam which wiped out his memory.
Unable to find the Captain, because their tricorders couldn’t penetrate the obelisk, Spock and McCoy returned to the Enterprise in order to intercept the asteroid in time. When Kirk finally emerged, he was mistaken by the natives as their god. With no memory of who he was, Kirk acclimated to their culture. The tribe called him Kirok, and Jim eventually fell in love and married a woman named Miramanee (Sabrina Scharf).
When Kirok couldn’t calm the storm brewing on the planet, the natives stoned him and his wife just as Spock and McCoy returned. Spock used a mind-meld to restore Kirk’s memory, and the pair utilized the obelisk to deflect the asteroid. The planet was saved, but Miramanee succumbed to her injuries. She died bearing Kirk’s child.
9. Old West Kirk
When an alien race tells you to stay away, you stay away. During “Spectre of the Gun” (1968), the Enterprise crew was on a mission to establish contact with the Melkotians, but were warned to not make further contact. Despite the eerie message, Kirk took a landing party down to their planet of Theta Kiokis anyway.
The Melkotians were angered, so they put the crew members through a bizarre alternate reality that replicated Tombstone, Arizona. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and Chekov found their phasers had been replaced by six-shooters and that they themselves had become the Cowboys from Earth’s wild west. And waiting to kill them at the O.K. Corral were Wyatt Earp (Ron Soble), his brothers, and Doc Holliday (Sam Gilman).
After Holliday and the Earps’ weapons failed to do their jobs, Old West Kirk beat Wyatt to a pulp but didn’t kill him. The Melkotians saw the captain’s capacity for compassion as a sign of higher intelligence and hopefulness. Kirk and the others were then welcomed as friends.
8. Dr. Janice Lester Kirk
Ever wonder what it would be like to bump into your ex in the 23rd century? During the episode “Turnabout Intruder” (1969), while engaged in a rescue mission on Camus II, Captain Kirk was reunited with his old love Dr. Janice Lester (Sandra Smith). Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy joined Dr. Coleman (Harry Landers) to investigate faint life signs in the distance, while Kirk remained with Janice.
With the help of alien technology she discovered, Janice switched bodies with Kirk. Power hungry and starving for a command of her own, Lester took over the Enterprise. Kirk tried to convince his friends that he had been imprisoned in Lester’s body, but it was only when Spock mind-melded with Janice Lester that the truth was revealed.
Lester knew the only way to keep Kirk’s body was to destroy her true vessel, but the death penalty was expressly forbidden by Starfleet. The crew mutinied, but Janice wouldn’t be circumvented. She very nearly succeeded in having the captain executed, but the transference grew weak and Jim was finally returned to his body thanks to Spock’s meddling mind-melds.
7. Khan’s Kirk
Spock wondered what would grow from the seed Captain James T. Kirk planted at the end of the episode “Space Seed” (1967). Well, it only gave birth to one of the greatest cinematic sci-fi rivalries of all time, and it all started when the Enterprise found the S.S. Botany Bay adrift in the icy cold of space.
Kirk took a landing party aboard to find 72 superhumans in suspended animation. Their leader Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) and his followers were condemned as criminals and exiled from Earth some 300 years before, as a result of the Eugenics Wars. Khan tried to take the Enterprise by force, but the woman he loved Lt. Marla McIvers (Madlyn Rhue) betrayed him, as both were eventually marooned on Celti Alpha V.
Kirk and Khan have been inseparable ever since. The pair’s most epic battle occurred fifteen years after “Space Seed” in the feature film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Their most recent confrontation came in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).
6. Roman Kirk
Render unto Kirk the things that are Kirk’s. Well, Captain James T. Kirk wasn’t a Caesar at all in the episode “Bread and Circuses” (1968), but rather a Roman slave on an unknown alien planet. When the Enterprise stumbled upon the wreckage of another federation vessel, the S.S. Beagle, the crew followed the debris trail to a civilization that was modeled after the Roman Empire.
The Beagle’s commander R.M. Merik (William Smithers) had broken the prime directive of non-interference by aligning himself with the empire’s ruler Claudius (Logan Ramsey). Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were all made slaves of the empire when Jim refused to bring his entire crew down to the planet.
With the help of the enslaved gladiator Flavius (Rhodes Reason), and a power surge initiated by Scotty from the Enterprise, Kirk was able to rescue Spock and McCoy. The trio found themselves surrounded though, but Merik finally realized the error of his ways. Using a communicator, he signaled the Enterprise to beam up the landing party. Kirk and the others vanished to safety, but Claudius stabbed Merik for his betrayal as the former commander sacrificed himself for Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
5. Nazi Kirk
During the episode “Patterns of Force” (1968), Cultural Federation observer John Gill (David Brian) might very well have made the biggest blunder in all of Star Trek history. While his intentions were good, Gill broke the Prime Directive of non-interference in order to bring stability to the neighboring Ekosian and Zeonian planets. And the efficient model he chose to pattern their societies after was the Nazi Regime of 20th century Earth.
Kirk and Spock beamed down to investigate and found a world inhabited by Nazis. The duo disguised themselves as Nazi officers but were almost immediately captured. Once they managed to escape with the aid of a Zeon prisoner named Isak (Richard Evans), Dr. McCoy joined them and a group of resistance fighters.
With the aid of Daras (Valora Noland), Kirk and the others were able to find Gil. He had been drugged and used as a pawn by the real threat, a power-hungry Ekosian named Melakon (Skip Homeier). McCoy counteracted the drug, so that Gil could stop the madness. John managed to set things right, but he was then murdered by Melakon. Daras, Isak, and the resistance prepared to set things right, in the end, as Kirk and his team departed.
4. Android Kirk
Double your pleasure, double your fun with two Captain Kirks in “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (1966). The Enterprise arrived at the frigid planet of Exo III to see if Dr. Roger Korby (Michael Strong) and his expedition could possibly still be alive. Nurse Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett) was particularly concerned, because Korby was her fiancé.
Miraculously, Korby had managed to survive the icy cold all this time thanks to the discovery of underground caverns. But it turned out he also found an alien technology that seemingly had the capacity to transfer human souls into the bodies of androids. Fearful that his scientific findings would be misinterpreted, Korby took Kirk prisoner.
In order to convince Kirk of the importance of his work, Korby created an android of the Captain but he didn’t transfer his soul. The captain still refused to cooperate, so Korby planned to use the android Kirk to further his ambitions. Fortunately, Kirk and Chapel were able to thwart Korby’s plans. However, Chapel also made the shocking discovery that Korby was dead. Jim and Christine had only encountered a failed attempt by Korby himself to transfer his own soul into his android replicant.
3. UFC Kirk
If you want a fight, Captain James T. Kirk can certainly oblige you. One of the most endearing and wonderfully absurd characteristics of Kirk was that he was always ready for a throwdown – UFC style. It probably would have been more prudent for the captain to remain behind on the ship, and out of danger, but almost always Jim joined the landing parties. And in so many instances, he found himself in fisticuffs.
In his very first appearance ever, during the episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (1966), Kirk faced off with his old friend Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood). With almost god-like powers, somehow Mitchell still didn’t stand a chance against Kirk. After some relentless hand-to-hand combat, Jim used a phaser rifle to drop a giant rock on his old buddy. Get some!
Even when Kirk was overwhelmed by a Gorn in “Arena” (1967) or by Khan in “Space Seed” (1967), the captain always managed to pummel his way out of the situation. Forget diplomacy, Jim literally used his arms as a means to an armistice.
2. Romulan Kirk
There’s not enough Romulan ale in the cupboards to prepare you for seeing William Shatner with pointed ears. In what was by far one of the most intriguing episodes of the much-maligned season three of Star Trek, “The Enterprise Incident” (1968) found our heroes crossing the border of the Neutral Zone on the sole authority of Captain James T. Kirk.
In order to keep Starfleet off the hook, Kirk and Spock were secretly under orders to cross into Romulan territory to find out more about the alien weapon known as the cloaking device. The pair boarded the Romulan Commander’s (Joanne Linville) ship, as Kirk pretended to be losing his mind. Spock insisted that Starfleet had nothing to do with the Enterprise illegally entering the Neutral Zone and that it was all the captain’s doing.
Spock then pretended to kill Kirk using a Vulcan death grip, but he actually used a mind-meld to simulate death. Once his body was returned to the Enterprise, Kirk had McCoy surgically alter him to look like a Romulan. Later, Romulan Kirk boarded the enemy ship, stole the cloaking device, and returned to the Enterprise. Spock was quickly rescued thereafter.
1. Gangster Kirk
Captain James T. Kirk and his crew were definitely in for more than they bargained for in arguably the funniest episode of the original Star Trek series – “A Piece of the Action” (1968). Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy beamed down to yet another planet in which the culture had been contaminated by an Earth vessel. In this case, a ship called the Horizon left a seemingly harmless book with the inhabitants of Sigma Iotia II. The native Iotians revered the book, which was based on the old gangster wars of the early 20th century.
Surrounded by mobsters, Kirk found himself trying to negotiate with both Boss Bela Oxmyx (Anthony Caruso) and Boss Jo Jo Krako (Vic Tayback). Not only did fans get to see Kirk and Spock dressed as full-fledged gangsters, but they witnessed Jim trying to drive an automobile, clutch and all – much to the Vulcan’s dismay.
A show of might by the Enterprise, courtesy of Scotty and the phaser banks, convinced the inhabitants to play ball with the Federation of Planets. Kirk then negotiated a deal with Oxmyx in which a starship would return each year to collect their cut of the profits. Spock wondered how Kirk would explain that to Starfleet.
Which alternate version of Kirk is your favorite from Star Trek? Let us know in the comments!
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