James T. Kirk – he's not just the Captain of the Enterprise, he's a thief of hearts - charming, witty and handsome. Sure, put him in a one-on-one scenario with a giant lizard monster and he'll attack with a cannon made of rocks and dirt, but one-on-one with a lady? Let's just say the codes of 1960s television demand we “fade out.”
Since today is Valentine's Day and we can always use a little extra game, let's take a moment to salute our Captain. Here, then, are Captain Kirk's 10 best girlfriends.
A marine biologist during the peak of the late 20th century's “Save the Whales” movement, Dr. Taylor never expected that she and two humpbacks named George and Gracie would be the ones to save the humans.
Captain Kirk used his interplanetary charm to get the info he needed out Gillian, but her inquisitive spirit won her a ticket to the 23rd century. In addition to bringing her firsthand knowledge of probe-responding whales, she also brought an advanced palette for elaborate pizza.
A “Drill Thrall” who wore a “collar of obedience.” Yeah, this was definitely one of the feistier ones.
The leading lady from “The Gamesters of Triskelion” is best remembered for her shocking green hair and an outfit one would consider revealing no matter what side of the galaxy you're from. While Shahna may have been athletic enough to train space gladiators, she wasn't exactly the sharpest crystal in the dilithium matrix. After Kirk shows her “what beauty is,” she helps liberate him, Chekov and Uhura from the grip of the Providers. When she hopes Kirk will take her with him to the “lights in the sky,” he uses some excuse about her needing to stay behind and advance the society of her emerging people. Somehow when Kirk says it, it sounds legit.
Sometimes when you are with a beautiful woman it is as if time stands still. That's especially the case if that woman is a Scalosian.
“Wink of an Eye's” Deela, a regal blond whose presence at first may just seem like a buzz in your ear, took a real liking to Captain Kirk. So much so she wanted him to help repopulate her planet. But despite her smile and proclivity to be photographed at Dutch angles, Kirk's relationship with her didn't last long – and that's in either time phase.
Another amorous partner who teetered on the edge of villainy, Marta the Orion wasn't the first “green woman” to appear on Star Trek, but she's the only one caught smoochin' Captain Kirk. In the episode “Whom Gods Destroy” she is Garth of Izar's asylum-bound “kept woman,” ready to do her consort's bidding even if it means putting the moves on a Starfleet captain.
Played by Yvonne Craig (yes, Batgirl, making this one of the first of many DC/Trek connections), Marta proved that even in the future, there's something incredibly enticing about women who are a little bit loopy.
Even when facing the business end of a life sentence on a frozen penal colony, Kirk can't help but score with the ladies.
Despite sharing a prison bunk with Dr. McCoy on Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country's Rura Penthe, there's a moment of intimacy between Kirk and fellow prisoner (and possible escape aide) Martia. First seen as African supermodel Iman, it was later discovered that she (he?) was actually a shapeshifter. Before dying at the hand of a Klingon disruptor, the final form the creature took was that of Captain Kirk himself. So, in a way, this was one of Kirk's most narcissistic love interests.
Not just humanoids fall under the spell of James T. Kirk – even artificial intelligence gets its microchips all a-flutter around the Captain, as seen in “Requiem for Methuselah.”
The android companion to the great immortal Flint (whose resume includes being a Macedonian conquerer, Renaissance painter and Romantic composer), Rayna soon grew to have tremendous feelings toward Kirk.
As is so often the case around William Shatner, however, these feelings caused her to literally short circuit.
Rayna the Robot marked an important step for Kirk in his relationship with women. He found it difficult to just shake her off as the Enterprise sailed off to their next star, so much so that Spock had to give him something of an emotional memory wipe – an ambiguous procedure still causing debate among Trek fans today.
Here's a tip. Want women to fall at your feet? Come to them as a weather-controlling god.
“The Paradise Syndrome” is one of the more tender TOS episodes; indeed, it forms a nice opening bookend with TNG's “The Inner Light.” Kirk gets bonked on the head and finds himself living among Space Native Americans. He's forgotten everything, including how to pronounce his name (Kirok is close), but he hasn't forgotten how to love.
He marries the lovely Miramanee and impregnates her, but she and fetus die when Kirk's lack of divinity is exposed. It is one of the few episodes of original Trek where, yes, the status quo is restored, but it doesn't end “all right.”
While Kirk was shacked up with Miramanee, however, we now know that, halfway across the galaxy, a previous love affair of his had indeed sired him a son.
Carol Marcus, first introduced to us in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (though perhaps referenced in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” according to some) was no mere floozy. An equal to Kirk in almost every way, Dr. Marcus was an intellectual giant whose devotion to her career (molecular biology) matched Kirk's enthusiasm for command. Amicably, the couple split, knowing neither could step away from their career to commit to a relationship. Their child David reunited with his father, just in time to get killed by Klingons in the next movie.
Of all of Kirk's girlfriends, no one shattered his heart quite like “The City on the Edge of Forever's” Edith Keeler, and that's because, let's face it, he killed her. Oh, sure, it's not like he picked up a phaser and fired. Rather, preventing Dr. McCoy from whisking her away from that oncoming vehicle did the trick. Yeah, he protected the timeline and kept the 20th century safe from fascism, but try telling that to a man who’s lost a companion as warm, caring and beautiful as Edith Keeler. All you'll get back is the refrain “he knows.”
1 – The USS Enterprise
At the end of the day, Captain Kirk has but one true love: the Constitution-class heavy cruiser designation NCC-1701.
Just look at the joy in his eyes when he sees her from Scotty's shuttle in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Or the pain at her destruction in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
Perhaps so many of Kirk's entanglements with women were so, how shall we say, ephemeral, because he knew that there'd never be a place in his heart for two lovers. As he puts it to Bones in “The Corbomite Maneuver:” I've already got a female to worry about. Her name is Enterprise.
Now, I know I've left off a bunch of good ones, but hopefully not your favorite. But if that is the case, please, let me have it in the comments. And may your Valentine's Day take you boldly to wherever it is you want to go.
Jordan Hoffman was the movies editor at UGO.com for more than four years. He has produced two independent films (look 'em up!) and is a member of the New York Film Critics Online. In 2005, he was named the Ultimate Film Fanatic of the NorthEast by IFC. Jordan fell in love with Star Trek through TOS reruns just as TNG was getting ready to launch. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels. He has a funny story about the one time he met Leonard Nimoy.