Spock and Captain Kirk hide among some reeds.

The news that Captain James T. Kirk would be returning to Star Trek, his young self being portrayed by Vampire Diaries in the second season of Strange New Worlds was shocking. Unless some typically Trek-y timey-wimey shenanigans are on the cards, the odds are that this is a young Kirk in a time before he captained the Enterprise. What do we know about Kirk?

What Were Kirk’s Academy Days Like?

At least on-screen, the answer is surprisingly little. Kirk's rise in the ranks was rapid, given what little we know: Jim entered the academy in 2265 and commanded the flagship of the Federation by 2265. Five of those 13 years were spent in the Academy's command training program, balancing studies and practical education with a role as a Starfleet midshipman, serving as an officer cadet and participating in missions, including a diplomatic mission to the planet Axanar. Kirk was the first Academy student to ever topple the no-win scenario by hacking the famous Kobayashi Maru practical test.

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What Was Kirk’s First Starship?

We don't know much about Kirk's early career. In the first episode of Star Trek season one, we learn that one of Kirk's earliest commission was as an ensign, where he served alongside one of his instructors at the Academy. After their time at the Academy, Kirk and Finney were close friends, but their relationship soured when Kirk made a mistake that nearly destroyed the Republic, leading to Finney being reprimanded by Starfleet and left unconsidered for promotion.

Kirk was fast-tracked through the ranks. Kirk returned to the Academy to teach after being a lieutenant. Lieutenant Kirk's first deep space assignment was aboard the Farragut, where he was assigned as a member of the phaser. Two years into the assignment, the ship encountered a non-corporeal entity known as the Dikironium cloud creature, which attacked the ship and killed two hundred members of its crew.

Kirk, one of the few survivors, believed his delay in following orders to fire upon the cloud creature was to blame for the disaster. Kirk was cleared of wrongdoing by the Farragut's surviving executive officer and his heroism in the line of duty saw him quickly move through the ranks.

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How Did Kirk Become Captain of the Enterprise?

When Kirk was just 32 years old, he became the new Captain of the ship, replacing Christopher Pike, who had been on board since 2250. The Menagerie, the famous season one episode of Star Trek, uses footage from the series, but we don't know how or why Pike left.

Kirk's career would lead him to go where no man had gone before, when an accident during an inspection aboard took his life. Kirk's early years will likely come to pass in Strange New Worlds.

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