Malcolm McDowell: Kirk’s Death In Star Trek Generations Was “Very Poor”

Does anyone like how they killed Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek: Generations? Fans certainly aren’t happy about it, and now the actor who pulled the trigger reveals he thought it was a "very poor" way to end Kirk’s legacy.


McDowell on killing Kirk

One of the biggest controversies in all of Star Trek is the death of James T. Kirk in Star Trek: Generations. Recently we heard from director David Carson on how he argued against the scene, and now we hear from the man who did the deed. In a new interview Malcolm McDowell, who played Dr. Soran in Generations, had this to say about killing Kirk:

Pose this one for me (to the powers that be): If you have—which they had—this icon of American television, why the hell didn’t they give him a spectacular death? Why did they give him such a really paltry death? Me shooting the bridge out or some BS whatever it was? They should have sent him off in a glorious fashion, and they didn’t. They missed an opportunity. …

Yeah, they re-shot. What did they reshoot? It was just as bad as the first one. And they spent several million dollars (on the reshoots). If you’re asking me, I thought it was poor, very poor, even the reshoot. They should have seen Shatner off in a big way.

I don’t care whose fault it was. Whoever came up with his death at the end, I thought it was really cheesy. I just think the man, whether you like him or not, should have been given a blazing death. And I, course, would have been happy to have supplied that. Look, I just think it was a missed opportunity for this great, iconic figure that everybody loved or everybody loathed. He was one of those great figures that caused dissention and debate and arguments.

He is right, of course.

McDowell and Shatner face off in "Star Trek: Generations"

More from McDowell at

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Maybe Kirk will go down in a blaze of glory in the JJ-verse.

I think McDowell and Shatner need to get together with some of those special effects gurus that make those great indie shorts on YouTube (e.g. Minecraft: The Last Minecart, or Frozen Crossing), and do their own reshoot of Kirk’s death in Generations.

Shatner’s still pretty spry and McDowell is only 67 years young! They could totally do it!

Kirk shouldn’t have been killed in the first place! ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ was a perfect finale for all the original cast and I don’t think they should have brought a few of them back for the next movie.

I always thought that they should have left his final fate essentially untold. Don’t show his death at all. But, in order to do that without also having to deal with a living Kirk in the 24th century, they may have had to tell a much different story. Or, just scrap the idea of bringing together the two crews, skipping Generations and going straight to First Contact.

Kirk should have died, but not like that…

I didn’t see the need to kill of Kirk anyway. It’s one of those things where once they get ot the movies, the filmmakers believe they have to do something big. Kill off Amanda, destroy Vulcan etc.

In my opinion, who said he would have to die? Why could he not have lived out a long and productice life? But if he does have to die, it should have been better than what they wrote and/or re-shot.

At least in the novels written by Shatner, Kirk lives after this death in Generations aftyer Picard places the Starfleet Delta badge on Kirks grave. I will not reveal how Kirks lives, in case some one has not read his novels but I am Ok with it…mainly because Kirk gets to live.

Beautifully said, Malcolm! I could not agree with him more!

Damn you, Rick Berman!

Malcolm would have preferred to commit “a bit of the old ultra-violence” on him. : )

I liked the movie…but Kirks death is a TERRIBLE wrong that absolutely needs to be corrected.

I like the thought of a Klingon going out in a blaze of combat, such as with Kor, but I still believe that the very best way for these prime characters to leave us is like a cowboy riding off endlessly into the setting sun….

Remember McCoy strolling down the hallway in the TNG opener or Scotty riding off in his shuttle in Relics?

Kirk should not have died … at least I do not want to see Kirk being dead anymore! … right? JJAbrams, boborci, Lindelof and everyone involved in this story now? … :-):-)

Worst death scene in the history of Star Trek TV and movies and possibly one of all the movies!

Shat-Kirk should have died along the lines of George Kirk in JJTrek.
That, or boinking Rand’s 8 great-great-great grand nieces in a sonic shower.

11 — Also agreed. Hollywood’s going thru a lousy phase where we MUST see the beginnings and endings of every character, no matter how little that adds to the tale. Yuck! Just tell good stories!!

I thought everybody loved Kirk but it was Bill who fairly evenly split opinion!

The man is correct on one thing though- Kirks death stunk on high.

Kirk didn’t need to die,and he didn’t need to die that way.You know you’ve gotten a bad send-off when even your “executioner” thought you went out badly.
When it came to torch-passing,Star Trek ’09 was light years better than Generations ’94

“Shat-Kirk should have died along the lines of George Kirk in JJTrek”

Exactly! Kirk’s fate was tied directly with the Enterprise. They planned on killing the Enterprise-D, why not do it in fashion with Jim Kirk sitting in the chair, saving the good Captain Picard and his crew from some Klingon menace. Something epic, not the craptastic slap in the face that all us TOS die hards got.

I still cannot watch that movie because it make me sooooo mad the way that Kirk went out…and he went without Spock and McCoy by his side (or saving them)….so sad!

How does Generations begin?

With Kirk going into the bowels of the Enterprise-B because the captain belongs on the bridge, and this was Harriman’s Enterprise.

How should Generations have ended?

Defeat Soran, beam up together before the destruction of the D. When the inevitable peril comes, and the damage is so severe that they can’t separate from the bridge Picard starts to Dash to the Battle Bridge to separate from there.

Kirk stops him. This is your ship…. (knowingly) I’ll go.

Kirk gets to the Battle Bridge, seperates the ship, saving the day. The saucer flies to safety as he watches pensively. He sits in the chair… alone… on the bridge of the Enterprise where he belongs. He knows he does not belong to this Century, but he belongs to this ship and the will end together.

He always knew… he’d die alone.

#8 – Sadly, I don’t agree with you about those novels. I only read the first one, but it felt like I was reading a lame Trek fanfic, filled with endless fan-wank and ego-stroking. It didn’t inspire me to do anything other than avoid the rest of the series. About the only good part of it, to me, was the explanation of the origin of V’Ger (i.e. the “machine planet” that rebuilt V’Ger being the Borg homeworld). Other than that, it was nothing but a massive monument to William Shatner’s ego.

The ending had even more problems than what is being discussed. PIcard should have exited the Nexus before Soran even left the Enterprise and stopped him then. Kirk did not even need to be involved! But anyway…

I am still of the opinion that the ending to Generations and all the subsequent TNG movies were all just Picard Nexus fantasies where he plays action hero. Whatever that was Picard encountered in the Nexus, it wasn’t James T. Kirk. Really, as if Kirk’s ultimate fantasy would be to sit in a cabin while being bitter about his Starfleet career? The man absolutely could not stay off the bridge of the Enterprise, and he was even hearing the call of the Captain’s chair on the Enterprise B! If you have to kill Kirk (which by the way, YOU DON’T), then kill him where he really lived – on the bridge of the Enterprise.

#2,Jim,we can only hope!! I agree,it was REALLY,REALLY BAD!!!! I mean,I have the DVD,and have had it for a while now,and have only watched it twice.

He should have died in his sleep.

#19 I 90% agree with you.

The post Generation novels were super hard-core nerd wank. But the very first book in the series “Ashes of Eden” took place before Generations.

It wasn’t about space ships or V’Ger or The Borg. It was just about a man facing his own obsolescence. It was only a sci-fi story in that they occasionally mentioned being in space. The parallels between the author and the character as evident and heartbreaking. It’s really a wonderful book (that was sadly followed by hyper nerd-out fanfic)

I was sad to see James T. Kirk die, BUT…

1) It was a heroic death. He sacrificed his life to save Veridian III (4 billion people??)

2) He isn’t really dead, because like Guinan, his “shadow” is still alive in the NEXUS…

3) He didn’t die alone, as Picard was right next to him just before he slipped away.

4) What opportunities were available in the current Trek universe at that time anyway??? How would his character best be used…I mean look what they did with Scotty after “Relics”…?

Killing James T. Kirk is like killing James Bond. It should never happen.

The only reason it did was because Ron Moore (someone new to the francise) arrogantly decided to go this route, to “put his mark” on ST history.

As we all know it was a mistake, because Old Kirk would have been in ST 2009 along with spock (JJ Abrams said he tried to work Kirk into the story but couldn’t find a good way out of Kirk’s death).

Ron Moore also killed his own franchise; Galactica started out great but then turned into a bad soap opera (Apollo turns in his wings and becomes a Lawyer !?!) and a rip-off of prior films (the “hybrid” cylon was a direct steal from Minority Report).

Caprica was a good concept but ened up being a shallow Soprano’s with minimal SF.

What a hack.

#8 – “Written by Shatner”….GOOD ONE!

Anybody who seriously thinks he wrote any of those and not 100% the Reeves-Stevens needs a Vulcan nerve pinch. The man says he never watched TNG yet we’re supposed to believe he knew what a Borg was?

I’ve said it 100 times… if the film had ended with Picard and Kirk (rather than Riker) beaming up together, this would be a more well regarded film today. People simply hated the depressing ending, and with good reason. Leonard always says the death of Kirk was “gratuitous”, and he’s right. That was the worst decision ever in Star Trek!

To sum up:

Killing Kirk off was stupid.

I used to say, “You can tell when they run out of ideas. They destroy the Enterprise.” Clearly the same this with Kirk. They should have left it open and not close a door by killing him.

No. 25 –

I wish that this site have a Facebook button LIKE so I can press it on your post!


29. “You can tell when they run out of ideas. They destroy the Enterprise.”

Can you hear that? Sounds like the script for ST12 hastily being rewritten! :p

Go for it, Bob. Blow that ugly ship to pieces…

Actually, since Kirk saved the TNG crew aboard the crashed Ent-D saucer, and then they went on to save the existence of the Federation on the Ent-E in FC, then, Kirk saved the existence of the Federation.

Glamorous enough for me.

They should have had Kirk help Picard save the day, then disappear into the Nexus. Whether he is shown reappeared on the Enterprise-B or not, I wouldn’t have cared. I would have liked it to end open-ended. Killing Kirk, and it wasn’t even his period of time, with his friends. No, he was a stranger. It was wrong in every way. I just remember begrudgingly going to the theater and sitting through the movie as a pissed off 15 year old.

I have found no reason other than this was a personal choice spearheaded by Rick Berman, to both break away from Gene’s Trek, and to put the Original Series to bed so it wouldn’t hang over his head.

Actually wasn’t it Gene Roddenberry’s idea, that James T. Kirk would be dead by the 24th Century. All that no peace with the Klingons while Kirk lives stuff?

24 – I have read/heard this claim for a long time. It may have been a heroic death for the character, but it was executed horrendously on screen. That’s ALL that matters, this is a visual medium after all. The movie was terrible, and Kirk’s death was also terrible. That NEXUS shadow nonsense is just that. It was a foolish concept, and one Gene Roddenberry would have laughed at. Where’s the scientific basis?

19 – The first Shatner/Reeves-Stevens novel Ashes of Eden was pretty good. The Return was interesting in the sense of how Kirk was brought back to life, but yeah the ones subsequent got more and more bizarre and ridiculous.

20- You are right, Kirk wouldn’t be whining about poor choices in his life while cooking breakfast. He lived to be on the bridge of the Enterprise. He didn’t have to be killed off, but if he did, then it should have been while he was commanding the Enterprise.

Well said.

well done malcolm. At last, someone has formally gone on record saying this stuff. I commend you sir.

My view is that kirks death was totally unecesssary. He didnt have ti die at all. To me it was a cynical way to get fans of TOS into cinemas (knowing that they wouldnt want to miss their heroes death) and hoped they would buy into the new crew.

It was a dismal way to ‘hand the baton over’ to TNG. Ive never recognised this movie because of this death scene. Very poorly done.

i think shatner couldnt resist one more time on the red carpet and i think that clouded his judgement on this.


24. James T. West said:

‘I was sad to see James T. Kirk die, BUT…

‘1) It was a heroic death. He sacrificed his life to save Veridian III (4 billion people??)’

What four billion people? Did we ever see them? Did we ever see their world, what they looked like? Did we get to know characters living there that we cared about, who screamed as the Nexus destroyed their world? Nope! We got a crass bit of throwaway dialogue. Movies are about ‘show, don’t tell!’ Amateurish writing!

‘2) He isn’t really dead, because like Guinan, his “shadow” is still alive in the NEXUS…’

That’s the explanation I choose to go with, although the dialogue in the film indicates that Guinan partly remains there because the Enterprise-B’s transporter ripped her from the Nexus, while Jim chose to leave!

‘3) He didn’t die alone, as Picard was right next to him just before he slipped away.’

It was always clear that Kirk was meant to die away from Spock and McCoy. He should have gone down with his ship and, by that I mean the -A or -B.

‘4) What opportunities were available in the current Trek universe at that time anyway??? How would his character best be used…I mean look what they did with Scotty after “Relics”…?’

It was typical of the lack of respect shown to most franchises in the 1990s. It was the era of evil Jim Phelps, killing Kirk, Batman & Robin, Alien: Resurrection . . . the list goes on.

The best thing we can hope for is that we get a Star Trek cartoon series set in the new universe and Shatner and Nimoy can return to voice their characters for an episode that resolves the stupidity of Generations.

It would have been better if Kirk when he died… that his body “phased” out with Nexus-looking effects. Then we can conclude in a way, he never left, and that he’s still in the Nexus, and thus he still is thought to have died saving the Enterprise B and the El-Aurian survivors.
But Bender, I do like your Battle Bridge idea, save for… wouldn’t you engage warp drive on the lower hull and send it off into subspace? Of course, then Deanna couldn’t crash the ship, and Data couldn’t say “Oh S

This was just Berman’s “I can do Trek better than anyone” imprimatur that now rightly rings out as one of the dumbest, most poorly executed decisions in the broader context of pop culture icons. It’s a shame what ego can do.

The only thing sadder is that Shatner agreed to it.

I don’t believe Kirk is immune from being killed. Unless it were suddenly (and cloyingly) revealed that he was secretly superhuman, he’s as mortal as any well-drawn human character. The ending is not great, but I think a great Kirk death scene could’ve been amazing. It could’ve been an amazing opportunity for Shatner to go out with some dignity, knowing he had done right by the Kirk character and that Kirk would remain immortal, so to speak, in the hearts of the fans.

Malcolm your objection is SUSTANED!

Generations was simply awful all the way through. The cheesy journalists, a completely incompetent Captain of the Enterprise, the senseless deaths (from a story standpoint) of Picard’s brother and nephew. That horrible Dickensian Christmas scene. Whiney Nexus-Kirk. Kirk’s dumbass death.

There was no real narrative, simply scenes strung together and emotions shoe-horned onto the characters. The only decent thing in the movie was Data saying,”Shit!”

The Stardrive section doesn’t explode. Picard intends on taking it and ramming it into Soran’s missile launcher, but at the last minute, Kirk takes his place. He has an awesome last line, and then the Stardrive section slams into the surface of Veridian III, destroy the Missile Launcher and killing Soran.

Yeah, to me, technical values aside, it was much worse than Star Trek V.

Bless you, #46.

Yes, Star Trek V was, at least on paper, a stronger story, and nothing in “Generations” can touch the power of the scene in V where McCoy faces his past and Kirk refuses to.


That is the sound of silence from the folks who have usually defended the Kirk death scene on these boards.


My ending for generations would have been. After the klingons have been destroyed. The enterprise badly damaged, cant escape the gravational pull of the planet and is slowly falling into the atomsphere.
Just like in the film, Kirk acts as a distraction as Picard messes with the controls to the missle and just before it explodes both Kirk and Picard are beamed back up to the enterpirse D.

Once aboard the cripled enterpirse, Picard realises they cant stop the ship from falling into the planet so orders all hands to abandon ship. At some point the ship starts listing and becoming unstable so its decent into the atomsphere is speeding up. Picard orders the bridge to evacute as he takes the helm to buy the rest of the crew more time to escape. Kirk does some speech about it might be a differernt letter, but its still an enterprise. And that he will take the helm so Picard can escape.
Scene ends with picard in an escape pod with riker and data watching the enterprise D burn up as it enters the atompshere and the final shots being Kirk on the bridge smiling as the enterprise D disappears into the planet in a ball of flames.

Prob would have been cheaper to film as well rather than the dish crashing on the planet. I miss D :(

“He was one of those great figures that caused dissention and debate and arguments.”

To be fair, that death, put on film nearly 20 years ago as bad as it may have been IS still causing dissention and debate. Seems kind of fitting.