William Shatner Reveals What it Would Take for Him to Return as Kirk

Leonard Nimoy (L) and William Shatner (R) promote the "Star Trek" 40th Anniversary on the TV Land network at the Four Seasons hotel August 9, 2006 in Los Angeles, California.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Leonard Nimoy (L) and William Shatner (R) promote the "Star Trek" 40th Anniversary on the TV Land network at the Four Seasons hotel August 9, 2006 in Los Angeles, California.

It’s been over 25 years since Star Trek fans last saw William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk. After playing the character for over 30 years, Shatner reprised the role for the last time in the movie Star Trek: Generations. The movie served as a symbolic passing of the torch from Captain Kirk, the very first Star Trek captain, to the new generations of Star Trek captains, specifically Captian Jean-Luc Picard.

Every so often, Shatner talked to Star Trek producers about coming back but nothing ever came of it. Though Captain Kirk died saving the universe in Generations, his character could come back with some creative scriptwriting. However, bringing Kirk back to life would only work if Shatner was willing to reprise the role again.

He’d be Willing to Come Back on one Condition

Kirk and Picard in Star Trek: Generations


In a recent interview with Inverse, Shatner revealed that he would be willing to come back, but only if his return was handled in a specific way.

Oh, I don’t know. If they wrote an interesting role and they could explain the 55-year difference I might consider it. But at the moment I’m really busy and Star Trek is in my past.

Though this new comment seems to indicate that he would come back to Star Trek, it also echoes the ambivalence he’s shown in the past. The fact that Shatner keeps reiterating that the writers need to explain the time gap seems to indicate that he hasn’t seen a pitch that handles this to his satisfaction. His comment about only being willing to come back for an “interesting role” also suggests that reprising Kirk would depend on the writing more than anything else.

Shatner has had Mixed Feelings About Playing Kirk Again

When rumors started flying about Quentin Tarantino developingStar Trek movie, Shatner made it clear that he’d like to be involved. During an interview with Reuters in 2019, Shatner said that he loves Tarantino’s movies and that he was definitely interested in working with the director. However, he hinted at the fact that his appearance in the film would need to make sense canonically. He quipped that if Tarantino was doing Star Trek “50 years later and a few pounds heavier,” he was game.

However, less than a year later, Shatner didn’t seem very enthused about reviving Kirk. A fan tweeted at Shatner about perhaps doing a cameo in one of the new Star Trek shows, and his response was definitive.

When another fan suggested in a tweet that Kirk could come back as “an awesome spooky ghost,” Shatner responded with a sarcastic quip about doing another storyline in the Nexus as they’d done in Generations. His choice of emojis clarified that he was not excited about the prospect.

A few months later, Shatner clarified why he didn’t think it made sense for him to portray Kirk in either of the current Star Trek series.

His reply indicated that his appearance on either show would clash with canon. If he appeared on Picard it would contradict the fact that Kirk had died years earlier. If Kirk appeared in Discovery then the character couldn’t be played by Shatner because he’d be too old.

Several fans pointed out the possibility of a time travel storyline in the replies, but Shatner didn’t entertain the idea.

It still sounds like Shatner returning as Kirk is a long shot, but the possibility remains.

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