James T. Kirk

Captain Kirk (Zach Trek original art!)

Thoughts on Kirk:

Kirk is one of my favorite fictional characters in general. He wasn’t perfect (that would have made him an unrealistic, and therefore uninspiring character), but he had many qualities that I think are admirable. Here are some of my favorite character traits:

  • A passion for liberty. Whenever Kirk encountered peoples who were being oppressed, be it by an alien race or an artificial intelligence, he tried to free them from their oppressors.
  • A healthy balance of respect and disregard for rules. Kirk never flaunted or broke rules without good reason, but when there was good reason, he didn’t hesitate to do the right thing. There are numerous examples, but I think my favorite is from Star Trek III. Spock’s life was on the line, he knew what the right thing to do was and tried to do it by the rules, but was denied. Without a moment’s hesitation his response was: “The word is ‘no’. I am therefore going to do it anyway.” Had he not saved the Earth shortly thereafter, it almost certainly would have cost him his career.
  • Dedication to principles. He would stake everything on following his principles. Star Trek III is an example of that, but my favorite example is from the episode Court Martial. Confident that he was in the right, and pressured to give up his command and avoid being the first Starfleet Captain ever court martialed, he instead demanded (again, without a moment’s hesitation) to stand trial. No one’s life was on the line, and he had an easy way out, but he instead staked his career and future and risked public humiliation on his steadfast belief that he was right.
  • Dedication to duty. My favorite example of this is from This Side of Paradise. “Nirvana” spores had caused his entire crew to abandon the ship to live in seeming paradise, and when Kirk was infected too, it was his ingrained devotion to his duty and his ship that overrode the intoxication.
  • This may not be a character trait, but he had a special talent for out-reasoning computers, which he needed more often than you might expect. Maybe spending all that time around Spock rubbed off on him, because he was skilled at presenting despotic artificial intelligences with paradoxes that disabled them or led them to self-destruct.

Kirk Links:

Kirk Collectibles