Top 50 Shatner Moments in Trek, pt. 5: The Top 10

Let's take a moment and look back at the road we've traveled.

Pt. 1

50. Kirk Takes a Swing at the Lava Rock Monster ("The Savage Curtain")
49. "Uhurayouretheonlyonewhocandoit" ("Mirror, Mirror")
48. "One more move... and I'll break it." ("All My Yesterdays")
47. Pose in Doorway ("Wolf in the Fold")
46. "Relax and Enjoy Yourself" ("Wolf in the Fold")
45. Selected lines from "Day of the Dove"
44. "Too close, may be a trap, let's move out." ("Operation: Annihilate!")
43. "You're killing her-r-r-r!" ("The Gamesters of Triskelion")
42. Selected lines from "Piece of the Action"
41. Attack of the Killer P's (Shatner's signature words-that-begin-with-P delivery.)

Pt. 2

40. "I think it's time we did a little simple and plain communicating. Tonight." ("Errand of Mercy")
39. "Are you all right?" ("I, Mudd")
38. "Let's get out of here!" ("Return of the Archons")
37. "McCoy! LEONARD McCoy? Stay right here! SPOCK! SPO-O-OC-CK!" ("City on the Edge of Forever")
36. "THERE'S NO SERUM. There are no miracles! There's no mortality! ALL THIS IS FOR NOTHING." ("The Omega Glory")
35. "Free-fall!" ("Wolf in the Fold")
34. "Turnabout Intruder" trailer. ("It's done.")
33. Kirk with Chekov ("Day of the Dove")
32. "Here's one thing you can be sure of, mister." ("Balance of Terror")
31. Selected Captain's Log Craziness

Pt. 3

30. "Be in touch with you later." ("Whom Gods Destroy")
29. "What's happening to Lt. Youhoara?!" ("The Gamesters of Triskelion")
28. "If you! Can't! Keep her... that's your problem." ("By Any Other Name")
27. "NO BLAH BLAH BLAH!" ("Miri")
26. "There she is! That's the one. What have you done with Spock's brain?" ("Spock's Brain")
25. "Spock's Brain" pain freakouts
24. Double Shoulder Grabs
23. Selected pre-Romulan-surgery moments from "The Enterprise Incident"
22. Kirk as World Destroyer/ Computer-Suicide-Whisperer ("The Return of the Archons")
21. Selected post-Romulan-surgery moments from "The Enterprise Incident"

Pt. 4

20. "Damn it, Bones - I need you." (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
19. "Voyager 6?!" (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
18. "Kirk... to Enterprise..." ("Dagger of the Mind")
17. "Took full poison..." ("A Private Little War")
16. "I said give me the brandy!" plus freakouts ("The Enemy Within")
15. "I! Have had! E-nough of YOU!" (Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock)
14. "DIG!" and other moments from "The Cloud Minders"
13. "It's like a jigsaw puzzle..." ("This Side of Paradise")
12. "I... can't... leave!" ("This Side of Paradise")
11Poetic Episode Enders

"My friends... we've come home."

Without further ado:

Honorable Mention:

"Maltz! Jo-ol-l y-ICHU"
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

It's the capper from an already intense scene - the culmination of violence and conflict of the film - and Shatner has already Shatner'd two or three moments into the Hall of Records. Then wham - surrounded by the planet tearing itself to bits - comes this one. I love it for the character moment (Kirk is crafty and listened to Kruge say it earlier, and even after all he's been through in the past half hour of his life, he swipes it) but of course also for the soundbite. There was a time in Trek fandom where any Wagnerian delivery in Klingon was cause for celebration, and this remains one of the best.


"Get out of my way, Salish."
"The Paradise Syndrome"

Man, this whole scene. Specifically, it's this little eye-alert Kirk (or, Kirok, rather) gives to Salish before they start their melee. I tried my best to get it above, but it's best watched and not screencapped.

"Then you must strike me dead."
"I have no intention of striking you dead."
"You bleed...



"I can get that for you-u-u..." 
"Mirror Mirror"

The brief glimpse we get of Mirror Universe Kirk is truly amazing. From the great jump-cut of regular-universe-Kirk wondering what the landing party's counterparts might be up to on their Enterprise to this:


nothing disappoints. The music cue after Spock's "Fascinating" and that wails throughout Evil Kirk's last hurrah ("Power...?!") deserves special mention, as well.


"I wanna live!" 
"The Enemy Within"

I imagine for any actor it's an agreeable challenge to play a character split into evil and good halves. For Shatner, it's not just a challenge; it's a jihad. I don't know if it's true or not if he never watches his own performances - he says he doesn't but actors say all sorts of things - but if it's true he'd never watched "The Enemy Within" since the 60s, he really should do himself a favor and check it out. I'd love to see an interview with him where footage of this "I WANNA LIVE!" is playing behind him. How does he react to it now? I bet it'd be like when Conan O'Brien played his version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" for him on Late Night

Regardless, what can I possibly write about this episode that accurately describes the Shatner insanity within? It transcends good/ bad. Like Wagner's operas, Shatner's performances are their own self-contained universes, insulated from any criticism or even rational comprehension, aloft on air currents we mere mortals could not perceive without their demonstrating their existence to us.


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan

Cuz you kind of have to, right?

Remember when the internet was new and you came across this for the first time? (Right up there with this. And this.

Anyway, when I covered this movie during the Captain's Blogs, it was discussed in the comments how it was obvious to most other people that Kirk was bluffing/ goading Khan into overconfidence by belting out his name like this. I accept the logic of this, but I'll never be able to shake my 7-or-8-year old perception of this scene: that Shatner just occasionally lets loose a landslide/ lightning-strike from the mountaintop and every adult in the room was just going along with it. I asked my brother about it afterwards, and we laughed for something like five hours.  



"You! Are! The Evil! Fulfill the Prime Directive."

Perhaps the most enduring of the Kirk-isms from TOS is his ability to convince sophisticated planet-ruling (or planet-destroying) AI to destroy itself. How is it he is able to perceive the reductive flow of logic that will lead to a redundant cycle ending in self-destruction? Unknown. He's got to hold the Starfleet record for such a thing, though. (Think of the planets in the Enterprise's wake who owe their freedom to the organic recalcitrance of this one man.)

If Kirk had been around for the Terminator movies, they'd all have been a lot shorter. 


"This Side of Paradise" 

Here's the exception to the no-monologues rule I mentioned earlier. Technically, I guess, it's a dialogue, but it's all Kirk/Shatner. The craziest harangue in TV history! (At least until the shows started cussing.) 

"What makes you think you're a man? You're an overgrown jackrabbit, an elf with a hyperactive thyroid." 
"Jim, I don't understand." 
"Of course you don't understand. You don't have the brains to understand. All you have is printed circuits." 
"Captain, if you'll excuse me -" 

"What can you expect from a simpering, devil-eared freak whose father was a computer and his mother an encyclopedia?" 
"My mother was a teacher. My father an ambassador." 
"Your! Father! Was a computer. Like his son. An ambassador from a planet of traitors. A Vulcan never lived who had an ounce of integrity." 
"Captain, please don't -"
"You're a traitor from a race of traitors. Disloyal to the core, rotten like the rest of your subhuman race, and you've! got! the! gall... to make love to that girl." 
"That's enough.
"Does she know what she's getting, Spock? A carcass full of memory banks who should be squatting in a mushroom, instead of passing himself off as a man? You belong in a circus, Spock, not a starship. Ri-ight next to the dog-faced boy..." 

My old band did a Trek concept album (of sorts) and the title track should be available at this link, if you want to hear the above run through the ol' Boat Chips super-computer. (Note: said super-computer obsolete circa 1999.)


"Of all the souls I have encountered..."
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan

While it is specifically Kirk's choked-up eulogy at the end of TWOK I am quoting here, it is basically Shatner's whole performance from the moment he learns what's going on through the funeral I'm including here at spot #4. 

The biggest moment in Trek history? Very possibly. Among the saddest, for sure. When Sarek forces Kirk to re-live it in TSFS, Shatner conjures up the same emotions of helplessness and loss, and it makes me goddamn sad just thinking about the pained "no" that escapes his (admittedly gross close-ups of) lips.

I've had, unfortunately, a whole different relationship with both of these scenes in the past few years than I ever did before October 2014. They're now imbued with some parallel real world loss in my own life (he wishes he went out saving the Enterprise! And I wish I had a Mt. Selaya to lug him to), but I can honestly say the experience has led me to admire Shatner's work here far more than I already did. (Which was considerably.) 

"LLAP, my friend, 
my dear, dear friend."
(Shatner's real-world eulogy for Nimoy at the end of Leonard)


"I am Kirok... I have come! I am KI-RO-K-K!" 
"The Paradise Syndrome" 

Well... we couldn't stay somber very long, could we? Where the hell to begin with this episode and the Shatnerisms within?

His CPR technique?
This stuff?

In the comments of my original write-up for this episode (or maybe it was for Generations, I can't remember) Bryant Burnette mentioned that Kirk should have been with Miramanee when he and Picard meet in the matrix. And of course that is exactly what should have happened. Crazy that this occurred to no one! I bet it was on account of the studio not wanting to pony up to pay any extra royalties they didn't have to, but who knows - maybe it would have cost them nothing and everyone just massively dropped the ball. (More than it was already massively dropped for Generations.)

Regardless, when your grandkids ask you "Who is this 'Shatner' you always speak of?' play them this episode. "Return of the Archons," too, but make sure they never live another day without knowing the sound of Nimoy and Shatner chanting "I... I am Kirok..." together .


"Let's get the hell out of here."
"City on the Edge of Forever"

Somewhere probably exactly between Spock's death and "I am Kirok" on the axis/grid/ graph of the rationale for this post is this moment.Kirk advises his cohorts to get the hell out of many situations in TOS, but nowhere else does it have the (earned) gravitas it does here. 

Best ending of the series, pound for proverbial pound. Conventional wisdom would probably place it in the number one spot, and I wouldn't argue. It makes sense to consider this the cornerstone of any museum of Shatner's performances.


Ee'd Plebnista
"The Omega Glory"

"No! No! Only the eyes of a chief may see the Ee'd Plebnista."
"This was not written for chiefs." (
general consternation) "Hear me! Hear this! Among my people, we carry many such words as this from many lands, many worlds. Many are equally good and are as well respected, but wherever we have gone, no words have said this thing of importance in quite this way. Look at these three words written larger than the rest, with a special pride never written before or since. Tall words proudly saying We the People. That which you call Ee'd Plebnista was not written for the chiefs or the kings or the warriors or the rich and powerful, but for all the people! (...) Not only for the Yangs, but for the Kohms as well!" 

This improbable end to "The Omega Glory" has been discussed at length just about anywhere Trek has been discussed. (That clip above is missing a pivotal Shatner delivery when he tells Cloud William he did not recognize the words "you said them so badly.") I mean it can never be asked enough: what are the goddamn odds of this sort of parallel development happening? I know it doesn't matter - gloriously so, forever and ever - but FFS. And (to roll with it anyway) for that world, then, to run into a Starfleet Captain whose personal hero is Abraham Lincoln and so has the teensiest of justifiable character backgrounds to wax poetically so? And for that Captain then to be played by William Shatner?

I think it's safe to say Cloud William's mind is well and truly blown apart as surely and comprehensively as Landru's or Nomad's by this insane convergence of events.
This guy's, too. Forget about it.

Quintessential Shatner, quintessential Kirk. I've tried to include a fair sampling of serious-minded moments from the whole Shatner/Kirk gestalt, but really, it all leads to and comes down to Ee'd Plebnista. 

To the strands of Fred Steiner's Star Spangled Enterprise...

And here's to 50 more! All hyperlinks will probably be inactive moments after I hit "send", but so it goes. Here's the best roadmap I can generate to the matter at hand.