As ‘Star Trek’ Beams Into Theaters, Our Five Reasons Why We Love Captain Kirk

There were many memorable characters aboard the Enterprise during the original Star Trek series. There was the intelligent and overly-honest Spock. The crotchety surgeon Leonard “Bones” McCoy. The compassionate and strong-willed Nyota Uhura. And leading them all was Captain James T. Kirk, a character directly inspired by Horatio Hornblower. Even now, years after we last saw him in command, fans love talking about Kirk and why he was so dang cool. So with the new movie coming out with Chris Pine taking the helm, let’s look at some of the qualities that made this man a hero.

Easy-Tear Shirts: A real man looks for any excuse to show the ladies his guns. Kirk clearly thought of this when he ordered all his uniforms to tear apart five seconds into any fight. This probably saved time when he left his fallen opponent to hit on nearby girls.

No-Nonsense: When superior officers made bad decisions, Kirk called them idiots to their faces. When the god-like Charlie X was atomizing innocent people through sheer willpower, Kirk flatly told him to cut it out. When Charlie demanded to know why, Kirk looked the demi-god in the eyes and said, “Because I’m telling you to!” Ever wonder what John Wayne would be like in space? Kirk was pretty close.

Loyalty: Kirk expected 100% dedication from his crew. And in exchange, he’d take a bullet for you. When Spock was in trouble, Kirk disobeyed direct orders to save him. When “Bones” McCoy was in jail, Kirk sprung him and stole a Federation starship for their getaway. Although a military man, Kirk believed that morality and loyalty could not be compromised by regulations. He was both establishment and rebel.

Sacrifice: Jim Kirk understood it when Spock said that the needs of the many sometimes outweigh the needs of the few or the one. When his best friends Spock and Bones were in danger, he put his entire military career on the line just to help them. During a time travel adventure, Kirk allowed a woman he loved to die because her survival would’ve destroyed history. When asked how he could make such sacrifices, our hero simply answered “If I hadn’t, the cost would have been my soul.”

He Knows How to Win: Kirk’s skills at reading people and unpredictable cleverness constantly helped him beat impossible odds. He bluffed his way against cosmic-powered gods and even faked his own death to outmaneuver enemies. When the Enterprise was damaged beyond repair and enemies were arriving, Kirk blew up his beloved ship to save his crew and take out their attackers in the process. As he later wondered if he’d done the right thing, Bones told Kirk that he had done “what you’ve always done: Turn death into a fighting chance to live.”

Which Kirk-ism did we miss that ranks on your list? Drop your own tribute to the captain in the comments below.