The following article was written by my good friend Dave who is fed up with the reactions people have to the death of Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the film Star Trek: Generations. Enjoy.
Captain James Tiberius Kirk died saving billions of lives, the Enterprise and her crew, and an entire solar system from destruction. Did he ever meet any of the people he saved? No. Did we, the viewers? No. Was it Kirk’s Enterprise and his crew? No. Did we know this solar system or was it special in any way (other than being in the path of the Ribbon)? No. Does that diminish Kirk’s death in any way? Absolutely not. Again, billions of lives, the beloved Enterprise and an entire solar system were saved.
I do not know about you, but if I could die doing that, I would gladly take it. Now, I am not Kirk and neither are you (unless William Shatner or Chris Pine is reading this) so of course a death like that would be more than we could hope for. But, for Kirk? Surely he must deserve better than having a bridge dropped on him. He is James T. Kirk after all! Take a look at the death of Spock as a comparison. The brave Vulcan saved his ship and her crew, admirable, yes, but Kirk saved billions of lives and then some. While Spock may have received a better death on-screen, Kirk’s would have meant more had the billions of lives he’d saved had the opportunity to learn of his sacrifice. Given a choice of receiving a “better” death and saving just one ship versus dying the way Kirk did while saving an entire solar system from destruction, I submit that Kirk would choose the latter and be glad of it.
Throughout his command of the Enterprise, Kirk risked his life time and time again, often in situations less dignified than his final adventure. Yet he did so without hesitation. He was a man who would not have cared how he died but only that his death meant something. And his death meant something. It meant survival to the crew of Picard’s Enterprise and to the billions of inhabitants of the solar system he saved. Yes, it is true that those billions will never know what Kirk did for them, but does that lessen his sacrifice in any way? Would Kirk care that they would never erect a monument to him on that planet? No, of course not. Kirk, a true hero, did not do it for the accolades; he did it because it was the right thing to do.
But, you might be saying, that Kirk, one of the most beloved science fiction characters of all time, “deserved better than having a bridge fall on him on a nameless planet trying to save another nameless planet from an utterly forgettable villain.” I would ask, first, where is it written that people get the deaths we think they deserve? Must everyone who dies do so in a way that we think sufficient? That does not happen in real life so why should it happen in fiction, too? Second, I repeat again that Kirk died saving billions of people, the Enterprise, and an entire solar system. Is the manner of Kirk’s death more important than what it achieves? Would we, the viewers, have been happier if he died fighting a rogue Klingon/ninja hit-squad over Angel Falls while achieving absolutely nothing but giving us one hell of a battle scene? No, it would have felt like cheat. Kirk would have died for nothing. Instead, Kirk’s manner of death may have been mediocre at best, but we must look at what he achieved by dying and what he would have thought about it.
Captain James T. Kirk died as a man of action and through his actions, saved billions of lives, the Enterprise and her crew, and an entire solar system. He was glad to know his death achieved so much. we should accept that, while the manner of his death may not have been what he deserved, in the end we could not have asked for anything more from our hero.