Star Trek: 10 Crazy Captain Kirk Theories That Have Actually Been Confirmed
For those of you that like fan theories, they were swirling around this character decades before it was cool. James Tiberius Kirk was just as dramatic as the name implies and as the intrepid Captain was the subject of many fan theories. Some of these turned out to be true, occasionally revealed in the same season of Star Trek: The Original Seriesor decades later in a modern Star Trek movie or television show.
We're not talking about the silly theories, like the ones about Kirk's "true mission." Or the ones about a romantic relationship between Kirk and Spock, as compelling as that is. These are theories about Captain Kirk that have been confirmed as fact by Star Trek canon. It turns out that Kirk isn't as exciting as he led us to believe, but the creativity of the fans shines through nonetheless.
10 The Not So Kobayashi Maru
Kirk was famous in Starfleet for a number of reasons, one of which was a rather dubious honor. He was the only cadet who had ever passed the supposedly impossible Kobayashi Maru simulation. Keeping it real, however, this is the guy who didn't believe in the "no-win scenario." Kirk had a talent for bluffing, but you can't bluff a computer.
Extreme theories pointed at the computer for the answer, and they were proven right by Star Trek (2009.) Here, Kirk actually changed the program to win. He was caught cheating but instead of getting expelled, he got a commendation for "original thinking" or more colloquially, being an effective sneaky-pants.
9 He Wasn't Her First
Kirk was a fairly young officer, but the USS Enterprise had been in service for a number of years. Fans guessed that at least one other captain must have commanded the ship before Kirk's arrival. Not only was this theory correct, but there were more layers to this space onion.
It's revealed that there was a Starfleet cover-up, a secret alien race with amazing powers, a tragic story of human survival, and the brave acceptance of a grim fate. The usually loyal Spock goes behind Kirk's back in this bit of drama and actually steals the Enterprise, an incident connected to certain Vulcan fan theories about memory and loyalty.
8 Estranged Children
Given that Kirk was a ladies man, fans naturally speculated that there must be some kids out there somewhere. If you keep your eyes peeled in Star Trek: TOS, there are a lot of subtle hints as to how many women there were. Most people talked about green kids or a Kirk family line that could move so quickly nobody could see them.
Fans who theorized that Kirk had left a human kid behind were too dull to be correct. No wacky alien love stories, no retelling of Troilus and Cressida? But it was true. Any number of kids could have grown up the exact same way as David Marcus did, and the character was so dull he was wiped out before anyone got to know him and nobody cared.
7 Kirk's Childhood
It didn't take long for fans to ask about Kirk's early years. Who and where is his family? Where's he from? Other than the TOS episode Operation Annihilate, in which his brother Sam Kirk abruptly dies and the episode focuses on Spock, we get very little background on Kirk's family. Theories ranged from a normal midwestern childhood to a resident of an interstellar colony.
In an interesting twist, both theories turned out to be true. Kirk and Sam had a fairly normal childhood in Iowa. On the extreme side, in the episode The Conscience of the King, it's revealed that Kirk spent his early years on the doomed colony of Tarsus IV, where he was one of nine surviving colonists out of 4,000, slaughtered to avert famine, courtesy of Kodos the Executioner.
6 The Fate of the "Space Seed"
If you want to talk about classic rivalries, let's talk about Kirk and Khan. One of the things that made Star Trek: Wrath of Khan compelling is that it continued from the original franchise and in doing so, served up some mighty fine fanservice for those who speculated about the fate of the USS Botany Bay from the episode Space Seed.
There were a lot of questions about how the tension between Kirk and Khan would be resolved. More cynical theories stated that something had gone horribly wrong on Ceti Alpha V, and Khan was already cooking up his revenge. A generation later, these theories were proven true with one of the best movie sequels ever produced.
5 The Mirror Universe and the Defiant
The concept of the mirror universe goes back as far as the Star Trek franchise itself. This is more about the arc of the entire Star Trek franchise, but Kirk was the first character to be subjected to the treatment. In The Tholian Web Kirk is trapped on the USS Defiant as it fades into another universe. Kirk is rescued in time, but the Defiant disappears.
Fan theories about the ultimate fate of the ship abounded, with some of the crazier ones stating that the ship would turn up again in the Mirror Universe. This was confirmed when the Defiant appeared in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode In a Mirror, Darkly. Specifically, this is the Mirror Universe of Captain Jonathan Archer's Time, confirming that the ship ended up in the Mirror Universe.
4 Evil Kirk
There were all kinds of fan theories about an "evil" version of Starfleet. The writers thought it was a good idea, and Kirk was the first to step through the looking glass, confirming many wacky theories about parallel universes and alternate timelines.
In The Enemy Within, a transporter experiment splits Kirk into his good and evil selves. This predates episode 204, Mirror, Mirror which involves four crew members from the USS Enterprise as victims of another transporter malfunction, and switching places with their doubles in Mirror Universe. The evil version of Spock was especially chilling.
3 The Video Will
In another entry from the episode Thalion Web, which is considered essential viewing, this fan theory is about Kirk personally. There's speculation about the relationships Kirk had with Spock and McCoy. A lot of that is revealed in the "living will" that he left for them to find should anything happen to him during this episode
This had the effect of snuffing some fan theories while confirming others. There are no favorites, emotional pleading, and shocking confessions. In fact, Kirk predicted exactly how his colleagues would behave without him around, and they were so embarrassed by this that they lied about listening to the living will when he returned and pretended that they had never watched it.
2 Secretly Smart
This one might be a matter of opinion, but you can see it if you pay attention. Let's face it; anyone would look like an idiot if they stood next to Spock. If Spock was the nerd and McCoy was a romantic, Kirk was the meatheaded jock, with a simple "see something, punch it" philosophy.
Fans theorized that Kirk was secretly both sensitive and intelligent, which seemed crazy because he acted like such a jerk most of the time. In episodes like The Trouble with Tribbles, he shows he has his own capacity for factual deduction and understanding. It's hard to look at an episode where he cuddles cute fuzzy critters and figures out the plan of a Klingon spy without concluding he's a sensitive smart guy.
1 The Passing of a Generation
Of course, the one subject concerning Captain Kirk that had more fan theories than anything else was how he would finally meet his death. The most extreme theories predicted a tragic death where Kirk sacrifices himself for the good of the entire universe, perhaps even in the company of another notable Starfleet officer. These proved to be true, finally confirmed in Star Trek: Generations.
This movie's title references the passing of the torch to a new group of heroes, embodied in the character of Jean Luc Picard. Kirk dies while putting an end to the Nexus and the mad schemes of Dr. Soren, and it's the fast-moving, bone-crushing, Shakespearan ending that many predicted decades ago.