Star Trek: 10 Greatest Captain Kirk Speeches

If James T. Kirk doesn't inspire you, who else in Star Trek can?

Star Trek Captain Kirk Star Trek 6
CBS Media Ventures / Paramount Pictures

Part of being a strong commanding officer is having something to say - as we evidenced in our list breaking down Captain Picard's greatest speeches. A captain often needs to inspire strength and unity in their crew, while also saving words to help people recover from recent loss and tragedy. On the bridge of a starship, anything can happen.

Captain Kirk was technically the first Starfleet captain that audiences were introduced to on mainstream television, with The Cage reserved for the network and the audiences at conventions. Therefore, he was truly the archetype for what a captain should be. 

Many of his speeches have reached iconic status, not just in the fandom, but in the wider community as well. While just as many of them have been parodied, William Shatner's Kirk frequently delivered some of the deepest statements known to Starfleet. Despite the sheer amount of joking that has been done about the man's speech patterns over the years, the truth is simple: if his speeches hadn't been as good as they were, we wouldn't be talking about them sixty years on. 

Here are ten of the best - ranging from his earliest days to his latest. 

10. Risk Is Our Business

Star Trek Captain Kirk Star Trek 6
CBS Media Ventures

Return To Tomorrow is a second season episode of Star Trek and contains some of the loftiest ideals in the franchise. Kirk, speaking entirely as himself in this scene, encourages his crew to take these risks that go beyond personal safety. After all, why else are they exploring the final frontier?

They used to say if man could fly, he'd have wings … but he did fly. He discovered he had to...Risk … risk is our business! That's what this starship is all about … that's why we're aboard her!

With so much Star Trek behind us now, it is perhaps easy to believe that space can be perfectly safe. Despite the interruptions from the Borg, the Klingons, and the Romulans, shows like The Next Generation seemed to border on the comfortable for much of their runtimes. The Original Series is a bit of a rougher beast - it, being the first, was truly charting the unknown.

Kirk's urgency here is difficult to miss. They are not out in the final frontier - and in this episode, three weeks from communication with Starfleet - to play it safe. They are there to learn, and grow. In this case, that meant sharing their physical forms with the Arrettans, even if that didn't exactly end well for some volunteers. 

Star Trek led the path for exploring the unknown, with Return To Tomorrow serving as a perfect example of this exploration.

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Writer. Reader. Host. I'm Seán, I live in Ireland and I'm the poster child for dangerous obsessions with Star Trek. Check me out on Twitter @seanferrick