As we close out the Sci-Fi Scoundrels list here at SarcastiBots, I’m not going to be making any really controversial decisions. However, just because they’re obvious choices for inclusion here doesn’t make them any less valid. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure about including this particular character on my list, however, after consultation with the rest of the SarcastiBots staff, it was clear I should. So without further ado, let’s check in with Captain James Tiberius Kirk at number three on the Scoundrel Round-Up.
Now, before I jump feet first into Kirk’s history, I figure I should make mention that while I enjoy the modern Star Trek movies, I’m not going to be using them as part of my discussion here. The whole alternate timeline thing they did in the first one just creates too much confusion in my opinion so I’m going to be sticking with Kirk classic rather than new Kirk. Even at Starfleet Academy, Kirk’s scoundrel nature was pretty clearly on display. One of the final tests at the Academy was supposed to be a no-win scenario. There was no way to save both the ship you were captaining and the Kobayashi Maru. It was a test to see how a potential Starfleet officer would deal with such a scenario. However, to young Kirk, there was no such thing as a non-win situation so before taking the test, he cheated and reprogrammed the simulation so he could win it. While he got in trouble for doing it, there were certain parts of Starfleet that admired Kirk’s outside the box tactics and he wasn’t drummed out of the Academy for blatant cheating. After graduating the Academy, Kirk served under Captain Garrovick aboard the USS Farragut. While serving aboard the Farragut, they were attacked by a cloud creature (meaning the episode “Obsession” would have been one of Melllvar’s favorites) and 200 crew members were killed. Kirk felt personally responsible for these deaths and tried to take the blame, but the surviving executive officer disagreed and Kirk’s career was saved. Following his experiences on the Farragut, Kirk returned to the Academy and was an instructor before taking the helm of the USS Enterprise as it began its five year mission.
In the year 2265, James Kirk took over command of the USS Enterprise from Captain Pike and was tasked to “boldly go where no man has gone before.” To do this, first Kirk attempted to breach the galactic barrier, however, this ended very badly—crippling the Enterprise and gifting one of Kirk’s friends, Gary Mitchell, with uncontrollable psychic powers. Kirk was forced to kill his friend, but he did so only reluctantly. The Enterprise’s adventures continued for the next five years, with Kirk being the first captain to actually see Romulans. In 2667, Kirk became the first Starfleet captain to face court martial. Kirk was on trial of the death of Lt. Commander Ben Finney, but he was later acquitted because it was revealed that Finney faked his death. That same year, Kirk made first contact with the Gorn. However, like most of Kirk’s first contacts, things did not go smoothly and he was forced to fight the Gorn to the death. Kirk beat the Gorn but refused to kill him, earning both the respect of the Gorn and the Metrons. The year 2267 also marked Kirk’s first encounter with Khan Noonien Singh. Kirk foiled Khan’s plot to revive his comrades and steal a starship and exiled him to Ceti Alpha V. Throughout the Enterprise’s five year mission, Kirk and his crew also ventured back in time on many occasions. The Federation Department of Temporal Investigations recorded seventeen temporal violations during his career, breaking a record that stood since 2373. Like other Starfleet regulations, the Department of Temporal Investigations noted that Kirk often broke the rules about time travel when he thought doing so was for the greater good.
Returning to Earth in 2270, Kirk was promoted to rear admiral and became Chief of Starfleet Operations, a position that took him out of the Enterprise’s captain’s chair. The Enterprise was dry docked for a refit and during that time, Starfleet learned of an energy cloud called V’ger that was assimilating information from and destroying everything in its wake. The Enterprise was the only ship close enough to intercept it and Kirk convinced Admiral Nogura to let him take command because of his experience dealing with threats like this. Kirk and his first officer, former Enterprise captain William Decker, discovered that V’ger was actually the Voyager 6 space probe which had somehow developed sentience during its travels throughout the galaxy. Decker came up with the unusual solution of allowing V’ger to assimilate a simulated human to reunite V’ger with its human origins. The plan worked and Decker created the first of a new benign species. Kirk remained captain of the Enterprise after the V’ger incident but would have to step away again when his position as an admiral required him to return to Earth to get back to his real job of supervising cadets on the command track at Starfleet Academy.
Of course, Kirk being a restless soul, working a desk job at Starfleet Academy began gnawing at him again. Kirk jumped at the chance to be part of a training cruise aboard the Enterprise, now captained by Spock. However, even that would not go as planned. At the same time, Khan escaped from Ceti Alpha V and stole the Genesis Device from the Regula I space station. Dr. Carol Marcus called the Enterprise about the theft and Kirk came to the aid of his former lover, with Captain Spock stepping aside to let Admiral Kirk take command of the Enterprise to hunt down Khan. Kirk’s battle with Khan was ugly, nearly destroying the Enterprise and eventually leading to the death of Spock. However, like in any good franchise, there was a twist and Spock wasn’t actually dead. When Spock’s body was jettisoned into space, it landed on the Genesis Planet and was reanimated by those energies. Kirk was unaware of that, but did want to find Spock’s body to save Dr. McCoy’s life since his body was reacting badly to Spock’s special Vulcan mind meld. The Enterprise crew would follow Kirk into violation of Starfleet orders and steal the Enterprise and return to the Genesis Planet only to find Spock alive. Kirk and the crew returned to Earth to face charges for breaking nine separate Starfleet general orders and regulations, but they were waylaid on the way home when Earth was besieged by an alien probe that spoke only in whale song. The aliens erroneously believed that whales were the dominant species of Earth and when the then-extinct whales were unable to respond to the probe, its continued broadcasting created havoc on Earth. The Enterprise crew, currently manning a renamed Bird-of-Prey called the HMS Bounty used the slingshot effect to travel back in time to steal some humpback whales to redeem Earth in the eyes of the aliens who were expecting to converse with whales. Because of their actions that saved Earth, Starfleet dismissed all charges against the Enterprise crew, though Kirk was permanently demoted to captain, a punishment I’m sure he had absolutely no problem with. Kirk remained on board the Enterprise and would captain her until his retirement.
Though the refitted Enterprise wasn’t quite ready, it was called into service once again, this time sent to Nimbus III to stop Spock’s half-brother, Sybok, after he captured the members of a peace delegation that were to negotiate a treaty between the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans. Sybok’s plan was actually to take control of a starship and leave the galaxy and Sybok commandeered the Enterprise. The Enterprise passed through the great barrier and Sybok met “God” only to learn it was a malevolent force that needed a spaceship to escape. Kirk’s final mission took place in the year 2293 when he was tasked with escorting Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to Earth for a peace conference. Kirk wasn’t terribly pleased with the assignment because he didn’t trust the Klingons and this mistrust led to him being blamed for Gorkon’s assassination aboard the Enterprise. Kirk and McCoy were tried by the Klingons and sentenced to serve out their time on the Rura Penthe penal asteroid. Taking a page from Kirk’s book, Spock broke with Federation rules and rescued Kirk and McCoy once his own investigation revealed Kirk had been set up by a secret cabal of Federation and Klingon officials that didn’t want peace between the two groups. Kirk defeated General Chang at Khitomer and saved the Federation president from assassination and the Khitomer Conference concluded with a peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Kirk retired from active duty shortly thereafter, realizing that the universe had changed and an old warhorse like him wasn’t really needed anymore.
However, just because he was retired didn’t mean Kirk wasn’t still an honored member of Starfleet. Starfleet couldn’t just let a good starship name lie fallow and commissioned the new Enterprise-B and Kirk was invited along on its shakedown cruise. During the cruise, the Enterprise-B received a distress call from a pair of ships transporting El Aurian refugees that became trapped in a massive energy distortion called the Nexus. Kirk’s advice allowed the Enterprise-B to rescue most of the refugees but the Enterprise-B was then caught in the Nexus. Kirk sacrificed himself to save the Enterprise-B and the galaxy presumed that was the end of James Tiberius Kirk. However, fate had other plans and Kirk remained happily trapped inside the Nexus for 78 years, until the Nexus started causing problems again in 2371. Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise-D were tasked with preventing the Nexus from destroying the Veridian system and Picard wound up inside the Nexus. Kirk did not want to leave his life in the Nexus but Picard eventually convinced him to and the two Enterprise captains saved the Veridian system from Tolian Soran and the Nexus. Kirk died preventing Soran from launching a missile that would direct the Nexus’s energies to the planet of Veridian IV. Picard was there when Kirk died and buried him under a simple stone burial mound on Veridian IV.
Once again, the biography shows a lot of scoundrel-y moments in Kirk’s life. From his Academy days to his final actions aboard the Enterprise-B, Kirk was someone who never let himself be bound by rules in the service of what was right. That character served him well throughout his career and his morality engendered a degree of loyalty within his crew that even meant the oft-times coldly logical Spock would follow Kirk even when he was breaking the rules. Kirk was someone who did try to obey the rules but felt that if the rules keep you from doing what’s right, it’s perfectly okay to break those rules. Like many scoundrels, Kirk also had an impressive poker face. He was not above bluffing his opponent into surrender and used that ability expertly and without qualms.
Of course, you can’t talk about James T. Kirk without mentioning his pimpingness. Riker from TNG may have been a bit of a horndog, but James T. Kirk pretty much banged his way across the galaxy. Honestly, he’s a bit of a man-whore and I’m surprised Kirk never picked up some sort of intergalactic STD. Even more shockingly, he apparently only fathered one child when he was with Dr. Carol Marcus. Kirk may have been a playa, but he was apparently not the most virile Starfleet captain out there. Ironically, with his only son, it was Dr. Marcus who decided that Kirk should have nothing to do with is kid. Kirk kind of seemed like the guy that would be a deadbeat dad, but actually it was Dr. Marcus not wanting her son exposed to Kirk’s nature that led him to be an non-existent entity in his son’s life.
Like Riker, Kirk may have been part of Starfleet, but considering how often he flouted the rules in the pursuit of what he felt was right, it’s clear James T. Kirk had a little bit of scoundrel in him. He was charming, confident, and he wasn’t afraid to let you know he was the best guy around. Sure, in large doses, those traits can all be pretty annoying, but Kirk was just so charming in his arrogance, you kind of forgive him for it. Like any good scoundrel, he inspired loyalty, since very few times did his crew oppose his rule-breaking. Also, like your white hat scoundrels, he never took advantage of the fact that people trusted him and would follow him to the ends of the galaxy.