Overview: Leonard "Bones" McCoy

Leonard (DeForest Kelley)
Leonard (DeForest Kelley) "Bones" McCoy.

Three men served as the central characters of the Original Series: Captain Kirk, Commander Spock, and Dr. "Bones" McCoy. Want to find out more about the "country doctor" of the Enterprise? Here's the place. Let's go over the skills, personality, and history of McCoy.

Dr. Leonard McCoy was the head of Life Sciences and chief medical officer aboard the Enterprise. That pretty much translates to "ship's doctor." McCoy was famously nicknamed "Bones" by Captain Kirk, a shortened form of "Sawbones," a term for a surgeon.

McCoy often referred to himself as a "country doctor," but he was much more. His Southern drawl and traditional ways hid a brilliant and modern mind. McCoy showed a wide range of medical knowledge. At times, he showed skills as a surgeon, physician, psychologist, and even an expert on alien biology. Yet he always reminded Kirk of his limitations with his famous catchphrase "I'm a doctor, not a..."

Even though McCoy was technically only a lieutenant commander and Spock outranked him, McCoy never shied away from arguing with him. In fact, the bickering between Spock and "Bones" often brought humor and fun to the original series. The two had opposing views with Spock's focus on logic and McCoy's emotional passion. Between the two of them, Kirk always had plenty of advice on what direction he should take. Though he and Spock bickered often, the two were really close friends. Before Spock died, he entrusted his "katra" (his life force) to McCoy.

McCoy became one of Captain Kirk's closest friends, one of the few who regularly called him "Jim." When Kirk needed help, McCoy would often break out a bottle of whiskey or saurian brandy and sit down to discuss the situation.

Despite his outwardly gruff exterior, McCoy was a deeply caring individual.

He often approached every moral dilemma with the goal of saving as many lives as possible. When danger struck, McCoy could always be counted on to run to provide aid, even at the risk of his own life. Yet he couldn't save everyone, which led to his other famous catchphrase, "He's dead, Jim."

McCoy had a great mistrust in some technology. He avoided using transporters as much as possible, preferring to use shuttlecraft whenever possible. Yet he could handle advanced medical equipment with great skill. His medical tricorder and hypospray were constantly at hand.

After the end of the Enterprise's five-year mission, McCoy retired from Starfleet to practice medicine on Earth in a rural setting. He even grew a beard. However, Kirk was able to use a little-known "reserve activation clause" to bring him back to serving aboard the newly refitted Enterprise-A. He continued to join Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew on new adventures until the end of the Enterprise's journey.

The TV series and movies never definitively said what happened to McCoy. However, unofficially, he rose high in Starfleet. According to some documents like the Star Trek: The Next Generation's Officer's Manual, McCoy eventually became Chief of Starfleet Medical.

McCoy lived long enough to get a tour of the Enterprise-D at the age of 137. By then, he had become a living legend.

In the rebooted movie series,McCoy is somewhat different. While the original McCoy went to the University of Mississippi, in the new version, McCoy went to and graduated from Starfleet Academy. But he's still the same country doctor he always was.