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[[quoteright:300:[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kirk1_239.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[[Creator/WilliamShatner I...can't...de...cide...butImust!]]]]

->'''John''': I don't wanna be like you. I don't wanna stoop that low. Kirk wouldn't stoop that low.\\
'''Scorpius''': That was a television show, John. And he made Priceline commercials. But if you insist, then look to Kirk the way he really was: savage when he had to be.
-->-- ''{{Series/Farscape}}'', "Revenging Angel"

''"CaptainsLog, stardate 8675309: Once again I find myself faced with [[SadisticChoice an impossible dilemma]]. Do I save the planet [[SugarBowl Pupolon]] by [[SaveThePrincess rescuing the]] [[TheHighQueen High Priestess]], despite her Klingon captors doubtlessly [[InescapableAmbush waiting in ambush]]? Or do I ignore their plight and, by [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt letting it be destroyed]], obey the [[AlienNonInterferenceClause Prime Directive]] and get the {{Aesoptinum}} needed to protect TheFederation? My friends and officers [[TheSpock Spock]] and [[TheMcCoy McCoy]] have been [[DebateAndSwitch debating this at length]], with no clear answer.\\\
[[TakeAThirdOption There has to be a better way...]]"''

Rounding out the archetypal FreudianTrio with TheSpock and TheMcCoy, The Kirk must balance these opposing personalities and be able to take their advice and choose between them (or literally, [[TakeAThirdOption choose "between them"]]) without being overcome either by emotion or dispassionate logic, representing what in [[UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud Freudian psychology]] is called the ego.

Usually, The Kirk is TheCaptain or a similar leader who needs to be practical rather than emotional or distant. It's not impossible for a show to have TheMcCoy or TheSpock as the leader, but they'll have to be far more ideologically flexible than they would otherwise.

They usually share a lot of the traits of the ReasonableAuthorityFigure, but depending on the [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism slant]] of the series he might lapse into [[MoralDissonance less than heroic decisions]], or end up choosing one of his two friends over the other more often. That said, the [[TheChainsOfCommanding burden of deciding what course of action to take can be heavy]], while the task of bringing his friends around to accept said decision is complicated as well. At the least, he's mostly immune to DeathByPragmatism. With poor characterization, may become the StandardizedLeader.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Lelouch as Zero is The Kirk in ''Anime/CodeGeass''.
* Mu La Flaga is The Kirk in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED'', but interestingly it's Murrue, TheMcCoy, who fills the role of TheCaptain on the Archangel with SergeantRock Natarle, TheSpock, as her second-in-command; he is more pragmatic and emotionally thicker-skinned than the idealistic and inexperienced Murrue, but more laid-back than Natarle and more capable of seeing past military regulations than she is. Mu's influence as a mediator between the two is felt most strongly in the first parts of the Archangel's journey, before Murrue gains confidence in herself as captain.
* Meowth of Team Rocket in ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', although they're all pretty much on equal footing (early in the series, however, Meowth claimed to be the leader of the Trio and this may be why). Meowth typically subverts this by wholeheartedly agreeing with whichever one of his teammates happens to have the same ideas in mind he has.
* Marika in ''LightNovel/BodaciousSpacePirates'' fits this role perfectly, with Chiaki taking the roll of TheSpock.
* Hikaru in ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth'' fills this role. She's the closest thing to TheLeader that the group has, with a cooler head than [[TheMcCoy Umi]] and a more gung-ho attitude than [[TheSpock Fuu]]. She's especially affected by the end of the first half and [[spoiler:ends up taking one hell of a third option to fix the Pillar System at the end of Part II by applying the power to ''everyone'']].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Franchise/StarWars'': Obi-Wan Kenobi displays elements of this {{trope}} in the {{Prequel}} Trilogy, alongside [[AntiHero Anakin Skywalker]]'s TheMcCoy with various members of the Jedi Council serving as TheSpock. In the Original Trilogy Luke became The Kirk, but only in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi''. Because he has controlled emotions. For example Obi-wan told him that he has to kill his father in order to bring peace, but Luke gives a logical suggestion that maybe he can be saved because Vader didn't kill Luke, and if was truly evil he would have killed him. His [[TheLeader leadership]] skills have also improved over the last two movies.
* According to co-writer Roberto Orci, the 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' film maintains this {{trope}}, but swaps [[TheCaptain Kirk]] and [[TheMedic McCoy]]:
--> "[[TheMedic McCoy]] in a way represents for us, or represented for us, the extremes of The Kirk and The Spock. If [[TheSpock Spock]] is [[StrawVulcan extreme logic]], ... extreme science, and [[TheCaptain Kirk]] is extreme emotion and intuition, here you have a very colorful doctor, essentially [[TheHeart a very humanistic scientist]]. So he, in a way, is literally and figuratively a representation of [[EmotionsVsStoicism two extremes]] that often served as the glue that held [[FreudianTrio the trio]] together."
* ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'': Iron Man fits TheKirk, and Captain America fits TheMcCoy. Given that Thor is calculative and likes control, and that Banner (when he's not Hulk) is calm and logical, either one could be TheSpock.
* The eponymous Hellboy in ''Film/{{Hellboy}}'' is this, especially when contrasted with Abe Sapein (TheSpock) and Liz (TheMcCoy).

* Alyosha of ''Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov'', who, oddly enough, was played by Creator/WilliamShatner in the movie version.
* [[TeamMom Meg]] in ''LittleWomen'' often takes this role in TheGloriousWarOfSisterlyRivalry between Jo and Amy.
* ''Tom Corbett, SpaceCadet'': Tom is a classic Kirk, settling arguments between his two teammates almost every time they have to do anything, and almost always rightly.
* Literature/HarryPotter is very much this, with [[TheLancer Ron]] as his [[TheMcCoy McCoy]] and [[TheSmartGuy Hermione]] as TheSpock. Initially played straight, but the dynamic is played with in later books.
* Nancy Drew is commonly written as being The Kirk between cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne.


[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* This {{trope}} is named for [[TheCaptain Kirk]] of ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries''. Notably, the original [[TheCaptain Kirk]] [[TakeAThirdOption took a lot of third options]] like [[UnwinnableTrainingSimulation the Kobayashi Maru]], but other times these decisions were likely to make many races angry in the future, leading some to think dick move.
** And like TheMcCoy, there is a lot of GenerationXerox between the series, giving each their own [[TheCaptain Kirk]].
*** ''[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration TNG]]'' had [[TheCaptain Jean-Luc Picard]], albeit he was more philosophical and [[TheSpock Spock-ish]] than [[TheCaptain Kirk]] at times. Will Riker resembled [[TheCaptain Kirk]] much more in personality, at least before he [[GrowingTheBeard grew the beard]].
*** ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine DS9]]'' had Sisko act more like the entire FreudianTrio by himself.
*** ''[[Series/StarTrekVoyager Voyager]]'' usually had Janeway deliberate this way, with The Doctor and Chakotay advocating the Emotional choice, and Tuvok and Seven the logical (and possibly StrawVulcan) or efficient one.
*** ''[[Series/StarTrekEnterprise Enterprise]]'' of course had Archer, with T'Pol and Trip filling in TheSpock and [[TheMcCoy McCoy]] roles, respectively.
* Jeffrey Sinclair and later John Sheridan has this same role in ''Series/BabylonFive'' as commanders of the eponymous space station, the SpinOff show ''Series/{{Crusade}}'' has the same character with Captain Gideon from ''Excalibur''.
* Mac from ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'' is constantly flip flopping between being as idiotic and delusional as [[TheId Charlie]] or as comparatively rational as [[TheSuperego Dennis]].
* In ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', Chloe Sullivan often fills this role between Lana and Clark.
* ''[[Series/DoctorWho The Doctor]]'' has fallen into this {{trope}} so far, he can no longer be deduced as either an [[AntiHero anti-hero]] or [[AntiVillain anti-villian]]. He will give his life (but has not been able to, yet.) to save anyone, any race (minus the Daleks), and planet, or any specific cascade inspired by certain snake haired monsters of Greek mythology from an alien race known to exterminate any other race... You get the idea.
* Blake from ''Series/{{Workaholics}}'' is the most kindhearted of the trio, but also the most naive and impressionable. As a result he can either side with the irrational and uncontrollable Adam or the more buttoned-down and reasonable Anders at any given moment.
* Believe it or not, Jack O'Neill of ''Series/StargateSG1'' wasn't really his quartet's Kirk; that honor fell to Samantha Carter and occasionally Daniel.
** Which makes Carter a good fit for the new leader in ''Series/StargateAtlantis,'' replacing another Kirk figure, Dr. Weir. The leader of the main team, Sheppard, tends a bit toward TheMcCoy-ish in his thinking, though he does have the Kirk-ish role in picking the proper course of action out of [=McKay=]'s stream-of-consciousness TVGenius-ness, Ronon's rashness, and Teyla's more [[TheMcCoy McCoy-ish]] tendencies.
*** Also, Sheppard gets all the [[GirlOfTheWeek hot]] [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe alien]] [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses princesses]]. The GenreSavvy [=McKay=] makes sure to [[LampshadeHanging point this out]], comparing Sheppard to Kirk himself.
*** Sheppard fully ascends to Kirkdom in the last season. Woolsey is TheSpock, while Teyla & Ronon are TheMcCoy.
* [[TheCaptain Mal]] in ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' can be pretty emotional and [[AntiHero amoral]] in his own right, but has the virtue (much as he'd deny it) of listening to his crew before making a decision, but being brave enough to take unpopular decisions regardless.
* Lee Adama in ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' usually brings the moral clarity to situations where other characters' judgement is blinded by prejudice or fear.
* From ''Series/BlakesSeven'' we have Roj Blake himself.
* Carly in ''Series/ICarly'', the centre of the [[FreudianTrio trio]] that includes TheSpock like Freddie, and TheMcCoy-type Sam. In ''iDate Sam & Freddie'' where Samantha and Freddie start dating, she ends up having to solve all their fights, until the end where it becomes too much and she tells them if they can't stop fighting they shouldn't date at all.
* John Crichton from ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' went from being TheMcCoy to The Kirk, while D'Argo and Aeryn started out more TheSpock and became Kirk-ish as they went along. Pilot is probably the purest Kirk character on the show.
* On ''Series/{{JAG}}'', the role of the Kirk alternated between Harm and Mac.
* President Wayne Palmer in ''Series/TwentyFour'' was The Kirk to Tom Lennox's Spock and Karen Hayes' [=McCoy=] and found their differing viewpoints useful in his decision-making process.
* ''Series/TeenWolf'': Scott fits this trope. Scott displays leadership qualities and is the one who has the ability of bringing people together to work for a common effort.
%%** With Stiles as TheSpock and Isaac as TheMcCoy? Similarly, Lydia and Allison could stand in as TheSpock and TheMcCoy, respectively.
* President Bartlett from ''Series/TheWestWing'' played TheKirk, usually with Leo/Toby as TheSpock and CJ/Sam as TheMcCoy.
* Season 1 of ''Series/{{The 100}}'' has Chancellor Jaha as the Kirk inbetween Abby's [=McCoy=] and Kane's Spock. In Season 2, Clarke fills the role of the Kirk inbetween Lexa as the Spock and Abby still being TheMcCoy, though Clarke ends up agreeing with Lexa more often than not.
* According to Sheldon in ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'', Leonard is the Kirk and he is TheSpock, it can be inferred that Penny is TheMcCoy.
* Quinn Mallory in ''Series/{{Sliders}}'' acts as The Kirk in most episodes making a middle point position to Arturo's [[TheSpock Spokish]] personality and Rembrandt's [[TheMcCoy McCoy behavior]].

* [[MakingASplash Gali]] often fills this role in ''{{Toys/BIONICLE}}''. Although her TrueCompanions are considerably more than a FreudianTrio, the two Toa she is most commonly seen interacting with are [[TheStoic the emotionally distant]] [[AnIcePerson Kopaka]] and HotBlooded [[PlayingWithFire Tahu]].

* In the SEBEC path of the original ''VideoGame/{{Persona}}'', [[HelloInsertNameHere The Boy with the Pierced Ear]] is faced with a series of {{Moral Dilemma}}s. While his buddy [[TheMcCoy Masao]] leaps to decisions driven by raw emotion, [[TheSpock Kei Nanjo]] would rather [[ShootTheDog do what is necessary]] [[CruelToBeKind regardless of how cruel it may appear]]. The choices he makes have [[MultipleEndings far-reaching consequences]].
* Robin (aka the Avatar) from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' is this for Chrom's [[TheMcCoy McCoy]] and Lucina's [[TheSpock Spock]]. Many of the game's big decisions (especially the ending) are made by the Avatar in the end.
* Creator/{{Bioware}} games often present you, the player character, with this position particularly in later games. For instance in VideoGame/MassEffect1 you are faced with a situation where you can hold back, save human lives and strike at a more opportune moment. Or attack ''now'', saving alien lives but potentially landing your allies in hot water.
* Nagi of ''VideoGame/XenobladeChroniclesX'' is the Kirk to Vandham's [[TheMcCoy McCoy]] and Chausson's [[TheSpock Spock]] out of BLADE command.
** In a more general way, Humanity as a species is this to TheMcCoy of the Wrothians and Prone and TheSpock of the Ma-non and Orphe.

* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', Haley and Roy take this role. V is TheSpock; Elan and Durkon are TheMcCoy. Belkar is [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg just there]] (except in combat, where he becomes another [=McCoy=] by [[SociopathicHero trying to murder everything that moves]]).

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* In the ''[[Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse Global Guardians]]'', Guardsman is the The Kirk, even though he's not the team leader. Achilles, the actual team leader, is TheSpock, while Arachne and Ultra-Man are TheMcCoy.
* In ''WebOriginal/TheBookOfStoriesOCT'', the Book is this, becoming the balance of Structure and Purpose, which is the literary equivalent of Logic and Emotion.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
%% * Alien X in that takes this concept more than a little too literally...
* Ben himself from ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce'' is The Kirk alongside Gwen and Kevin, especially in the first season. Strangely, Gwen and Kevin barely fit as the TheMcCoy and TheSpock respectively (both are intelligent and emotional) and can switch the roles depending on the situation. By ''[[WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien Ultimate Alien]]'' it's hard to peg any of the three as any one of the archetypes, though Ben is definitely the TheSpock in the season one finale since he decides [[spoiler: Kevin has to be stopped by any means necessary]] and TheMcCoy Gwen is [[spoiler: trying to save Kevin from himself]].
* ''WesternAnimation/MrBogus'' himself qualifies, as he most often provided the balance between his younger cousin Brattus and his best friend Tommy Anybody.
* Superman in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague''/''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' has this role, albeit more moderate in the aspect of taking harsh decisions or having the last word (as the Justice League does not have a chain of command in itself and all members are equals), even so with Batman as TheSpock and Wonder Woman as TheMcCoy, the dynamic is clearly there.