Star Trek: Discovery has no plans to introduce the iconic character of James T. Kirk anytime soon. Kirk is most widely remembered as the star of the original 1960s Star Trek series and was, of course, played by the one and only William Shatner. The actor would return to the role throughout the years in Star Trek's big screen offerings, but J. J Abrams' 2009 reboot saw Chris Pine take over the part and he has since appeared in two further installments. A fourth entry in the series was in place but it's currently unclear as to whether this project will ever see the light of day, particularly with a Quentin Tarantino-directed Trek movie also reportedly being planned.
While Star Trek's future on the big screen is somewhat murky, things are looking far rosier for the franchise on TV. Despite receiving some criticism from fans for supposedly meddling with established canon, the first season of Star Trek: Discovery was released to a largely positive critical reception. The show's debut run also generated a lot of discussion with its season finale cliffhanger, in which the Discovery came face-to-face with the fabled Enterprise. Following this shocking reveal, it was announced that Discovery season 2 would feature two familiar characters from Trek history: Ethan Peck as Spock and Anson Mount as Christopher Pike.
With more established figures appearing in season 2, and with Discovery set only a decade before the original series, some viewers have speculated as to whether or not other major characters, such as Kirk, will also feature at some point. Discovery co-creator and showrunner, Alex Kurtzman, has now denied this is a possibility for the show's immediate future. In an interview with THR, Kurtzman states:
"There's a 10-year gap between where we are in Discovery and Kirk's arrival on the Enterprise. There would [have to] be a major time jump if we were going to do something like that. What Kirk was doing at this particular time is another question, but we don’t have any immediate plans [for the character]. I have not spoken to Shatner about it."
Kurtzman's comments certainly seem to rule out an appearance by Kirk in Discovery, not only for season 2 but also for any potential third season as well, given how definitively the showrunner debunks the possibility. Kurtzman is also correct when he hints at a timeline discrepancy in bringing Kirk into Discovery. During the period the show is set, Kirk would either still be at Starfleet Academy or serving as a Junior Officer. While it's technically possible that the future Captain of the Enterprise would encounter the crew of the Discovery, it's highly improbable, at least from a narrative point of view. Kirk would also be far less of a natural addition that Pike and Spock, the latter already having a strong connection to the series through adopted sibling, Michael Burnham.
Whether Discovery should introduce Kirk is another matter altogether. On one hand, the added buzz and publicity surrounding Kirk's arrival would no doubt provide a boost to viewership and increase interest in a series that, in the U.S. at least, is currently only available via CBS' own streaming service. However, it would likely also add further confusion to Discovery's place in Star Trek canon - one of the most criticized elements of the show thus far. Perhaps it's safer for the series, and for Discovery's female contingent, if Kirk is kept away for now.
Star Trek: Discovery season 2 premieres January 17th on CBS All Access.