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Possible spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Picard follow:

I always, perhaps wrongly, thought that David Marcus was completely a retcon invented for The Wrath of Khan. And I thought that the implication was that Kirk was not aware of his son until they met in that movie. I assumed that this was to avoid making Kirk into the deadbeat dad bad guy. (In this respect, that would be similar to the relationship between Picard and his son, Jack Crusher, years later).

Now, as of the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode "Subspace Rhapsody", it is definitively established that Kirk knew about Carol Marcus' pregnancy and even that the child was male.

Did I wrongly remember or wrongly interpret the previously established canon regarding the relationship between Kirk and David Marcus and Kirk's knowledge thereof? What facts around this where established when?

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    I haven't watched TWoK in years but I'm pretty sure it was implied that Kirk at least knew of David's existence before then. His surprise was that this - this grown-up, intelligent, accomplished man - was his son. Aug 17, 2023 at 20:49
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    The very first thing Kirk asks Carol Marcus after he locates her in the Genesis cavern is: "Is that David?"
    – Buzz
    Aug 17, 2023 at 21:15

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The pertinent line from the transcript for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan is:

KIRK: I did what you wanted. ...I stayed away. ...Why didn't you tell him?

The implication is strongly that Kirk was, at the very least well aware of her pregnancy. He's discussed his obligations with her and they've agreed that he won't have any contact with David.

As to his knowing that the kid is a boy, we know that they spent time at the Academy together and it wouldn't be at all unusual for him to learn some basic details about her new baby, either by asking around, or simply being told by mutual acquaintances.


It may interest you to learn that the original screenplay for The Wrath of Khan has this reversed. Kirk is entirely unaware of the existence of his child.

DAVID: Go back. I'm going to kill him.

CAROL: (takes a breath) You do that and you'll have murdered your father.

[All react. David and Kirk, facing each other, are turned to stone. Bones, Jedda and Chekov turn to look at Carol, wondering. Terrell very casually takes the phaser from Jedda.]

KIRK: Carol. Is that true? [She nods --] Why didn't you tell me?

The official novelisation preserves this.

She glanced across the cavern toward Jim. She had sworn to herself never to tell him about David, or tell David about him, but telling them the truth had been the only way to keep them both alive. She needed to talk to Jim—to David, too—but since Genesis disappeared they had all three been revolving around each other like satellites, pulled together by her revelation and pushed apart by time and old pain and lack of trust.

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