[[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!]]]]

->''"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 while being 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 [[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.

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!!Examples

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[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Lelouch as Zero is The Kirk in ''Anime/CodeGeass''.
* Mu La Flaga is The Kirk in ''GundamSeed'', 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'']].
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[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* [[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, [[TheHero Luke]] serves as The Kirk to [[TheLancer Han]]'s TheMcCoy and [[BadassPrincess Leia]] or [[TheObiWan Obi-wan's]] TheSpock in ''ANewHope'', but the dynamics start to twist up from there.
** I'm not sure that this works. Luke is more the [[WideEyedIdealist na´ve farm boy]] (TheMcCoy) and Han the more sensible, pragmatic one (The Kirk, since he says Kirk-like things such as "NeverTellMeTheOdds") but there isn't really a [[TheSpock Spock]]-equivalent. Obi-Wan is less cynical than Han, and Leia abandons the entire Rebel Alliance just to save Han in Episode VI.
*** Luke does became The Kirk, but only in ''ReturnOfTheJedi''. Because he has controlled emotions. For example [[TheObiWan Obi-wan]] told him that he has to kill his father in order to bring peace, but Luke a logical suggestion that maybe he can be saved because Vader didn't kill, 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/TheAvengers'': 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.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* Alyosha of ''Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov'', who, oddly enough, was played by 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.
* Tobias in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' takes this role whenever he's alone with Marco and Ax.
** What do you mean? Out of the Animorphs Marco and Ax are the two most logical. Both are occasionally given to bouts of emotion overwhelming logic (understandable seeing as they're both teenagers) but out of the group they're definitely both closer to TheSpock end of the scale than TheMcCoy end.
*** A better example from Animorphs would be Jake, with Rachel and/or Cassie at TheMcCoy end, depending on whether the story is about saving things or killing them.
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[[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.
* In ''{{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.
* 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, he gets all the [[GirlOfTheWeek hot]] [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe alien]] [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses princesses]].
*** And 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|Reimagined}}'' usually brings the moral clarity to situations where other characters' judgement is blinded by prejudice or fear.
** When he isn't blinded by his own prejudice and fear, that is.
** Arguably, same would go for [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaClassic the original Apollo]], being the most moral character on the show.
* From ''Series/BlakesSeven'' we have Roj Blake himself.
* Carly in ''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.
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[[folder:Toys]]
* [[MakingASplash Gali]] often fills this role in ''{{Franchise/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]].
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[[folder:Videogames]]
* 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]].
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
* 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]]).
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[[folder:Web Originals]]
* In the ''[[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.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Alien X in ''WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce'' that takes this concept more than a little too literally...
** Ben himself 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 UltimateAlien 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.
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