In the third episode of the original series of Star Trek, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", a powerful psychic makes a grave for Kirk as part of an elaborate attempt to kill him.

The grave has a headstone engraved with Kirk's name. But on the stone his middle initial is "R". I thought that his middle name was Tiberius. Why is it different in this episode?

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    Who is James R Kirk? over on SFF.SE. I had exactly the same question when I watched that episode.
    – Ixrec
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 21:15
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    NB: "Series" is the British English term where "Season" is used in American English. In American English, a "Series" is all of the episodes in all "seasons" of a show. AmE: "The entire series of the original Star Trek is 3 seasons long". I'm not aware of the British English term that means "all of the episodes", although I assume there is one. Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 8:46
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    @ToddWilcox Except in Doctor Who, where "series" tends to be used for New Who (post 2005) and "season" for Old Who (pre-1996). Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 8:55
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    @ToddWilcox I'll remember to use Google Translate next time. ;-)
    – matt_black
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 9:35

1 Answer 1


It was a mistake.

Out of universe, just a production goof. In universe, Gary Mitchell made a human error.

From Memory Alpha:

The gravestone Mitchell creates for Kirk says "James R. Kirk". According to D.C. Fontana in the introduction for Star Trek: The Classic Episodes 1, when the mistake was discovered, Gene Roddenberry decided that if pressed for an answer on the discrepancy, the response was to be "Gary Mitchell had godlike powers, but at base he was Human. He made a mistake."

Additionally, from IMDb's trivia page:

According to the Starfleet Access commentary on the Blu-Ray, the remastering crew debated over whether or not to change the middle initial on the "James R. Kirk" tombstone to the proper T. While some members of the crew were for it and some against it, they ultimately decided not to, due to the ridiculous amount of rotoscope work it would have required.

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    Up until now I thought there was no such thing as a non-ridiculous amount of rotoscope work! Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 8:46

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