As a genre writer and actor, Star Trek has always been a source of inspiration in my creative journey.
Part Western, part fantasy, part action, and part intrigue – all wrapped up in a sci-fi package. And when you factor in the characters, set-pieces, and storylines, it had a bit of everything a genre fan could ask for. For me, it was the characters more than anything that kept me tuning in.
Ever wonder which of the Three Stages of Star Trek you’re in? Keep reading to find out!
How it all began
One of my favorite memories from when I was little is of Star Trek TOS reruns that would play on TV every weeknight at 8 pm.
In the summertime, I would run home in the evenings just to catch it, and then return back outside for an extra hour or so of playtime before my mom called me in again.
Back in those days, the biggest argument was who was cooler, Kirk or Spock – this would morph into the classic Kirk or Picard debate with the rise of The Next Generation a short time later – but it was no less true then as now.
We would quarrel about the fact that Kirk was the one in charge and was always ready for a fight, while the other side would point to Spock’s ice-cold demeanor, even in the stickiest of situations…
And the also-important fact that Spock beat Kirk during their mano-a-mano pon farr faceoff in Amok Time.
As a true fan, I would always point out that Kirk purposely threw the fight, but even I will admit that the official record remains at Spock 1, Kirk 0.
And though the opening credits clearly proclaimed three names, instead of just two, let’s be honest – Dr. McCoy was never part of the above argument.
And if we ended up roleplaying, the first to be decided was always Kirk and Spock, while whoever got the short straw would have been happier pretending to be Scotty or Sulu than crusty old Bones.
More than anything, it was a rite of passage for boys my age, and I would think those of the generation before, and maybe even after, mine.
And though our love for Star Trek never waned, I discovered something about myself, my friends, and I suppose, other men in general, in the years since.
A simple observation about changing perspectives that nonetheless feels true.
The Three Stages of Star Trek
You see, just like the three names that opened the show in order of importance, most men go through what I like to call the Three Stages of Star Trek.
What do I mean? Let me explain.
Stage One of Star Trek – The Captain Kirk Stage
When we are little, we start off in Stage One – The Kirk Stage.
We idolize Captain Kirk because he represents everything we want to be – he’s strong, handsome, and brave. He’s the top-dog on the Enterprise, the one who gives the orders and takes the chances.
He’s the shoot-first, ask question later type of hero who always gets the girl. The embodiment of guts and glory, with a dropkick ready for any occasion.
What little boy wouldn’t want to be like that?
Stage Two of Star Trek – The Mr. Spock Stage
But as we grow older and reach early adulthood, leave high school for college or start a trade, we start to take on responsibilities and begin to look at the world differently.
Before we know it, we’re firmly in Stage Two – The Spock Stage.
In this stage, we learn to appreciate logic and a more thoughtful approach, so naturally, we find ourselves aligning with Mr. Spock all the more.
He’s the brains of the operation, after all, and no matter the predicament, he’s the coolest cat in the room.
Even the space hippies thought so on their way to Eden, and while Spock wooed the ladies with his Vulcan melodies, poor Kirk fumed in the corner as the uncool “Herbert”.
Stage Three of Star Trek – The Dr. McCoy Stage
And finally, as we enter middle age, and many of us have kids and careers and mortgages and bills to pay, and have probably been crapped on by life once or twice, we come to realize that we’re firmly in Stage Three – The McCoy Stage.
Sooner or later, it hits us that though we idolize Kirk and respect Spock, we’ve actually become most like Dr. McCoy.
At times angry, bitter, and maybe even a touch cynical, but always with a good heart. And like the good doctor, we take care of those we love and we’re always loyal to those who are loyal to us.
It may sting at first to recognize the reality of it, but I think we each come to terms with it sooner or later because it feels right.
Conclusion: The Three Stages of Star Trek
And let’s face it, overall, each of these Star Trek heroes is a man to admire, and we can be so lucky to end up like them – loved, respected, and befriended.
So, no matter what stage you’re in, embrace your inner Kirk, Spock, or McCoy and make the most of your ongoing mission to boldly go!