Leonard McCoy

From Academic Kids

Template:ST Character

Leonard Horatio McCoy, M.D., nicknamed "Bones", is a fictional character in the fictional Star Trek universe, played by the late DeForest Kelley. In Star Trek: The Original Series, he was one of the three main characters and the humanistic counterpart to the logical Spock; capable of great compassion, yet also cranky, superstitious, and irrational, shunning advanced technology (especially the transporter beam, which he regarded with distrust) and occasionally even bigoted with regard to Spock's part-Vulcan ancestry. It is also notable that he was the only southerner among the racially and ethnically diverse crew of the NCC-1701.

McCoy often complains about technological advances in medicine and professes a preferance toward "good ol' fashioned country medicine"; however, when he actually encountered old-fashioned medicine during a trip to the 1980s in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, he reacted with anger and disgust. As it is, McCoy is a physician of considerable skill, capable of even successfully treating creatures who have physiologies he is unfamiliar with, such as the Horta.



Although the following information is not considered official Star Trek canon, fans and writers of the original series have conjectured some biographical facts about the character. They suggest Leonard McCoy was born in 2227 and attended the University of Mississippi from 2245 to 2249 and medical school from 2249 to 2253. A backstory, developed by Star Trek writer D.C. Fontana but not used in the series, speculates that Leonard McCoy was married shortly before obtaining his medical degree. Starting a private practice, McCoy fathered a daughter before being divorced by his wife and losing custody of his child. Sometime after 2260, Leonard McCoy closed his medical practice and enlisted in Starfleet to escape the pain of losing his wife and daughter. Fontana's version of events, though not officially canonical, is considered part of the Star Trek Expanded Universe.

In terms of canon among the only facts known of McCoy's early career is that at one point he met Emony Dax, a Trill athlete (with whom he had a sexual relationship, it seems) while a student at Ole Miss, and that he performed euthanasia on his terminally ill father, Dr. David McCoy (an event depicted in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier).

Joining Starfleet already as an educated doctor, McCoy was not a graduate of Starfleet Academy but rather was commissioned to the advanced rank of Lieutenant. His early assignments are unclear, but by 2265, he had been promoted to Lieutenant Commander and was assigned as a medical observer to the planet Capella. The assignment was unfruitful, as the Capellans found little need for medical arts and existed under a tribal society where only the strong survived.

In 2266, Leonard McCoy was named Chief Medical Officer on the Enterprise NCC-1701 under Captain James T. Kirk, replacing Doctor Mark Piper. (Some non-canonical, "Expanded Universe" stories suggest that McCoy was assigned to Enterprise from the start, but took a leave of absence for reasons not disclosed, during which time Piper substituted for him.) McCoy served until 2269, when the ship's five year mission ended. It is speculated that Leonard McCoy was promoted to Commander at this time, but in any event he had retired from Starfleet by 2270 and again was engaging in private medical practice.

In c.2271, Leonard McCoy was recalled to Starfleet and recommissioned as a Commander at the request of Kirk (Starfleet using an obscure "reserve reactivation clause" which McCoy likened to being drafted). After serving as the Medical Officer during the V'Ger Crisis, it is speculated that he signed on for a second five year voyage and served as Chief Medical Officer until 2276, although the occurrence of a second five-year mission is not, as yet, considered canonical. His assignments of the late 2270s are unknown, but by 2282 he was a Medical Training Instructor at Starfleet Academy.

In 2286, Leonard McCoy was appointed as Chief Medical Officer of the second USS Enteprise (NCC 1701-A). He served at this post until 2293, when the vessel was decommissioned. Star Trek fans have speculated that McCoy was promoted to Captain sometime after 2295 and further speculation indicates that McCoy may have become the head of Starfleet Medical School, though to date nothing canonical has been confirmed about this part of his life.

By the early 24th century, Leonard McCoy had risen the to rank of Admiral; some have speculated he at one point was the Starfleet Surgeon General and that also he may have held a special rank known as Branch Admiral, however there is nothing in canon to support this. Retired from Starfleet, he remained on-call for Starfleet duties and frequently performed starship medical inspections. He appeared at the age of 137 years in "Encounter at Farpoint", the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Data escorted him through the corridors of the new Enterprise-D. (At one point, the ever-cranky McCoy asks, "I don't see no points on your ears boy, but you sound like a Vulcan." When Data responds, "No sir, I am an android," the doctor says, "Almost as bad." However, when Data responds that the Vulcans were an honorable race, McCoy agrees.)1

McCoy had no actual further appearances in The Next Generation or any of the following television series, though he was shown briefly in the past, in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", using footage from the original "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode. McCoy has made appearances in several Next Generation era novels. The passing of DeForest Kelley in 1999 would probably preclude McCoy from making any further appearances in Star Trek shows or movies.

In the non-canonical "expanded universe" of Star Trek, McCoy's death was marked by a comic book story published by DC Comics soon after Kelley's death, in which Spock and Montgomery Scott - two TOS characters known to still be alive and active in the 24th Century - visit McCoy on his death bed.

McCoy's book Comparative Alien Physiology became a classic among medical textbooks on par with Gray's Anatomy, and part of the knowledge base of the Emergency Medical Hologram.


1 There is debate among some fans over whether the character played by DeForest Kelley in "Encounter at Farpoint" is actually McCoy, given that the character is never referred to by name, nor indicated as such in the credits. The general consensus is that the character is, indeed, Leonard McCoy.


  • (Upon learning that he is carrying Spock's katra) "That green-blooded son of a bitch! It's his revenge for all those arguments he lost!"
  • "Why you green blooded, inhuman..." (To which Spock replies, "That is correct, Doctor.")
  • "Logic! My God, the man's talking about logic! We're talking about universal Armageddon!"
  • (Talking to Data) "Don't see no points on your ears boy, but you sound like a Vulcan."
  • (Talking to Spock) "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?"
  • "He's dead, Jim!" (which has become a well known catch phrase)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!"; "I'm a surgeon, not a psychiatrist!"; "I'm a Doctor, not an engineer!"
  • "Well, what do you know. I finally got the last word."
  • "I'm beginning to think I can cure a rainy day."
  • "I'm not a magician, I'm just an old country doctor."
  • (referring to ships named Enterprise) "If you treat her like a lady, she'll always bring you home."


In Star Trek: The Original Series Leonard McCoy was best known for pronoucing something dead and for comparing himself to something that he wasn't. The following is a list of the number of "McCoyisms" that can be found in the Original Series

Declaring Something Dead

"He's dead, Jim."

  1. Crewman Green in The Man Trap
  2. The Space Puppy in The Enemy Within
  3. The Adult Creature in Miri
  4. Doctor Adams in Dagger of the Mind
  5. Captain Kirk in Amok Time
  6. Scotty in The Changeling
  7. Crewman Jackson in Catspaw
  8. Scotty in I, Mudd
  9. Lieutenant Galway in The Deadly Years
  10. The Table Dancer in Wolf in the Fold
  11. Lieutenant Tracey in Wolf in the Fold
  12. Commissioner Hengist in Wolf in the Fold
  13. Priestess Nona in A Private Little War
  14. Captain Kirk in Return to Tomorrow
  15. Professor Starnes in And the Children Shall Lead
  16. Marvick in Is There in Truth No Beauty?
  17. Ensign Chekov in Spectre of the Gun
  18. The Old Man in For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
  19. Murdered Scientist in The Lights of Zetar

Compared to Something that McCoy isn't

"I'm a Doctor, not..."

  1. A Moon Shuttle Conductor (The Corbomite Maneuver)
  2. A Bricklayer (The Devil in the Dark)
  3. A Psychiatrist (The City on the Edge of Forever)
  4. A Mechanic (The Doomsday Machine and The Empath)
  5. An Engineer (Mirror, Mirror)
  6. A Scientist (Metamorphosis)
  7. A Physicist (Metamorphosis)
  8. An Escalator (Friday's Child)
  9. A Magician (The Deadly Years)
  10. A Flesh Peddler (Return to Tomorrow)
  11. A Coal Miner (The Empath)

The Transformers cartoon parodied McCoy in the episode The Return of Optimus Prime with Wreck-Gar saying "I'm a doctor, not a forklift" when lifting Optimus Prime's dead body on an operating table, and saying "He's dead, Jim" when asked if he could repair Optimus Prime. (Wreck-Gar also parodies Montgomery Scott in the same scene.)

The Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager sometimes uses some of McCoy's "I'm a Doctor" McCoyisms. The Emergency Medical Hologram from Star Trek: First Contact (not to be confused with the hologram from Voyager) also states, "I'm a Doctor, not a doorstop".

HK-47 in the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic also says "Dammit, master, I'm an assassination droid, not a dictionary!" at one point, obiviously parodying McCoy.

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