If you look at Admiral Pike's rank insignia in Star Trek Into Darkness, and then look at Captain Kirk's insignia, they look pretty much the same. I am not able to really tell the difference. Both of them have 4 pins of some sort on their shoulder boards. The only possibility I can come up with is the spacing of them. Admiral Marcus has 5 so it's easy to see the difference with his, and Spock has 3.

3 Answers 3


The rank seems to be indicated not only by the pips on the shoulder board. It's a combination of that and their tunic.

Screenshots showing Pike and Marcus

The higher ranked Admirals (e.g. Pike and Marcus) have a white pillar on the front of the uniforms.

Screenshot of Kirk

The lower ranked Captains/Commanders (e.g. Spock and Kirk) just have solid gray tunics.

So Admirals get 4-5 pips on the shoulder boards, plus white on the tunic. Captains and Commanders get 3-4 pips on the shoulder boards, with no white on the tunic.


Besides the white front of the uniform tunic, admirals have gold shoulder insignia, while captains and below wear silver.


At the time of that pic above, Pike had been made Captain. Marcus is an Admiral. Kirk had been demoted in position but no one really stated that he had been demoted in rank (and unlikely given he had served with distinction in the first movie). It was even a greater (strange) inconsistency when Admiral Pike (at the time) questioned Kirk's maturity (after the first movie - during the second). Just remember though, as stated in the third movie, "Admirals do not fly" and, so, that would suggest that Admiral Pike was demoted in rank to captain a starship.

  • 1
    Some of this is an answer to the question but referring to another answer to back it up and some of it is tangential conversation. Answers should try to be standalone. Could you edit this so it isn't referring to the other answer but is self contained, add a bit more evidence and clean up the tangential information?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 13:52

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