This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, our subject is Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy from TOS. (He's Dead Jim!)
Bones is Chief Medical Officer aboard the Enterprise. Dr. McCoy serves as an accomplished surgeon, physician, and psychologist for 27 years under Captain Kirk. He is also one of Kirk's closest friends and allies, along with Spock.
Dr. McCoy attended the University of Mississippi and was a true southern gentleman, at least whenever he did not have to verbally do battle with Spock. His character is similar to an old country doctor, and he distrusts certain types of technology such as the transporter. Bones is a practical joker who has sharp wit and great lines that add so much character to the original Star Trek series.
The nickname Bones stems from the term "sawbones", which was used commonly in 19th Century medicine to refer to military doctors and surgeons who routinely performed amputations on their patients. In the 2009 movie, an unscripted line by new actor Karl Urban explains that a divorce with his ex-wife forced him into space because all he was left with was his bones. Regardless of the origin, the nickname is unique and used often.
Bones is the only crew member who routinely addresses the Captain by his first name, indicating the friendship beyond their duties. Bones also enjoys sharing regular drinks with the Captain, and he prefers Earth alcoholic drinks like bourbon, whiskey, and mint juleps. Stemming from his Southern heritage, Bones also cooks a mean pot of baked beans.
The best episodes featuring Bones include: For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky, Journey to Babel, and Shore Leave.
Our notable quote this week comes from multiple episodes: (I'm a doctor, not a...)
Actor: Deforest Kelley played McCoy and he was the first regular cast member to pass away in 1999 at age 79. Kelley also appeared in Bonanza. Karl Urban took over the role in the 2009 reboot, and he also appeared in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as on Xena warrior princess.
Until next time, live long and prosper...