Captain Kirk is said to be the only known person to have beaten the Kobayashi Maru in the original series.

What irks me is, he apparently added a subroutine which magically tipped the scales in his favour. He says he "changed the conditions of the test". This is very ambiguous, as there should not technically be any loophole or simple turnaround by which someone can beat the Kobayashi Maru, an unwinnable scenario. What modifications had he actually made? Is there any canon info? Or just speculation?

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    have you watched the new reboot star trek movie, because it answers practically all of your questions. in the first 30 minutes.
    – Himarm
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 16:11
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    1. I was asking about the original. I've only just gotten around to watching star trek, so I'm watching all the movies in chronological order before progressing to TOS and DS9. I haven't watched the reboot, though. Could you quote please?
    – CrazyMod
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 16:23
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    The test was built in such a way that it could never be beaten. So the only way to beat it was to tweak the question/test itself.
    – nbz
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 16:43
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    This question asks what was changed to enable a win. The only place in the proposed dupe that mentions that Kirk hacked the win-conditions of the test is in a deleted answer. Not a dupe.
    – phantom42
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 18:33
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    Multiple questions in the same post are frowned upon. Pick a question.
    – JohnP
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


First, a little background. The "Kobayashi Maru" test is as follows:

A lone Federation starship is patrolling the Neutral Zone border. The ship receives a distress call from a transport ship - the Kobayashi Maru - from deep inside the Zone. The Maru should not be trespassing where it is, but claims to be under attack from the Klingons. A "winning" solution is to successfully rescue the Maru.

Obviously, one response is to ignore the distress call.

If the captain decides to help, the single Bird of Prey attacks the starship. If the starship defeats the single attacker, three BoP uncloak and attack. Should the Federation ship succeed against 3, then five more ships appear. This continues until the captain flees or the starship is destroyed. Various books have been written telling how the different characters have worked through this situation.

Kirk, however was able to (have someone) modify the scenario. When he attempted to rescue the Maru, and was challenged by the Klingons, upon announcing who he was, the Klingons retreated and allowed him to rescue the ship.

Kobayashi Maru from Wikipedia

As a side note, an unrelated but similar test is used to test the candidates. Called the "Psych Test", a variety of simulated emergencies take place in order to test the candidate's preparedness for being a starfleet cadet, such as Wesley's attempted rescue of two trapped scientists during a fire. TNG - Coming of Age This, while similar in forcing the person to make a tough decision in a no-win scenario, is not the Kobayashi Maru, as it's used for Starfleet candidates, not cadets.

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    The KM might well have been replaced or reworked by the time of TNG, but the episode you quote doesn't establish that. For one thing, KM was a training exercise for cadets (as per the Wikipedia article you reference) rather than a test for candidates. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 21:26
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    @HarryJohnston is correct. The test referenced from Coming of Age was part of the Starfleet Academy entrance exam, and not done by cadets already in the Academy on the Command track (like the KM).
    – ssell
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 21:55
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    In the novel Sarek, Kirk's nephew also beats the KM test, by issuing a challenge to the Romulan (I am unsure when the specifics of the KM were established, but at this point the tes contained cloaked Romulans, not Klingons) Commander leading the attack on the Kobayashi Maru. Under Romulan law, the Commander had to accept, and could not fire upon the Federation vessels during the challenge, enabling the crew to rescue the KM. All Kirk's nephew (I forget his name) had to do was live long enough to enable his crew to make the rescue. He was acknowledged as the second man to beat the KM. Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 8:26
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    What source does the first Bird of Prey come from, and does that source reconcile that in Wrath of Khan, there is no first Bird of Prey - rather three Klingon (non-BoP) warships attack?
    – Dronz
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 6:40
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    In the SNES computer game Starfleet Academy, the final mission is the Kobayashi Maru. Three birds of prey decloak when you try to rescue the Maru, and you are prevented from warping away due to being surrounded by cloaked birds of prey. If you name your character "James T Kirk" however, then when you hail the Klingons they are in awe of you and let you go. You then get a dressing down in the debrief about hacking the simulator.
    – Nick
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 18:15

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