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, we continue our review of
characters from the Abrams timeline with a look at Dr. Leonard McCoy, also known as "Bones."
Similar to the regular timeline, McCoy joins Starfleet at an older age than most of the other major characters. As he sits next to Kirk on the new recruit shuttle, he immediately makes friends by sharing his flask and his story with the future Captain. He was forced into Starfleet after a nasty divorce, despite being aviophobic, mistrustful of technology, and none to keen on space travel.
Although Kirk and Spock have a tough start on the road to friendship in these first two movies, McCoy and Kirk begin much closer thanks to time spent at the Academy. Bones is so loyal to his friend that he attends all three of his Kobayashi Maru attempts as well as smuggles Kirk aboard the Enterprise before the conflict with Nero.
That act of friendship puts both men in position to be promoted to their well-known roles as a result of the twists and turns of the battle with Nero. Bones takes over for original chief medical officer Doctor Puri when Puri is killed in Nero's first attack. Much like Uhura, the promotion to CMO was not one that was ever going to be reversed for McCoy as he takes to the job well.
McCoy remains a trusted advisor to both Kirk and Spock, although his advice is often ignored by both when their instincts get the best of them. McCoy serves a critical role during Into Darkness in figuring out that John Harrison's torpedos have cryogenic tubes inside and figuring out that Harrison's blood can regenerate dead life forms. Thus, Harrison's greatest strength turns out to be McCoy's greatest asset at the end of the movie.
McCoy has a penchant for witty metaphors and sayings, and he takes this to a new level in Into Darkness. He uses so many metaphors that even Kirk tells him to shove the metaphors before the end of the second movie. Here's guessing that doesn't happen from the most quotable character in Starfleet.
Our notable quote this week comes from both movies:
"Damn it, man, I'm a doctor, not a physicist!"
Damn it, man, I'm a doctor, not a torpedo technician!"
"Jim, you don't rob a bank when the getaway car has a flat tire."
Actor: Karl Urban plays McCoy in the Abrams movies, and his improvisation led to both his line in Star Trek 09 about the nickname Bones and Kirk's line about stopping the metaphors in Into Darkness. Urban can also be seen as Judge Dredd in the 2012 remake and as Eomer in the final two Lord of the Rings movies.