5 Best Star Trek Doctors From Every Series And Movie
We countdown our choices for the five best doctors in the history of Star Trek
The Star Trek franchise is replete with doctors of different types, from the Original Series to Picard and Strange New Worlds. It is also full of strong opinions about each of them—their characterization, their bedside manner, and even their ethics. But from Boyce to M’Benga, there is always a need for medical attention when you’re seeking out new life among the stars, even if it comes from a sentient hologram.
5. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley, Karl Urban)
Star Trek’s original on-air doctor was not a lot of things (a bricklayer, for one), but he was an outstanding surgeon who once, with the help of alien technology, reinstalled Spock’s brain. He also laid the groundwork for defining Star Trek doctors and how they function as part of a crew. His forthrightness and candor led to clashes with his captain and of course the aforementioned Vulcan, but his medical knowledge and determination always saved the day.
It seemed McCoy could just stare and work and sweat over a complex medical problem and solve it through sheer force of will—and seriously, so much sweat. In the new Trek films, Karl Urban’s take on the character deepens in humor and humanity as the series moves on, though no one can match the particular magic of DeForest Kelley.
4. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Doctor Bashir could be a lot of things—arrogant, naïve, pushy, and for a while, a bit too openly infatuated with Jadzia Dax—but he could not be beat. A bit of a mad scientist, Bashir resorted to incredible contortions of medical science to take the wildest chances at saving his patients. He might have developed a bit of a Messiah complex at a certain point, but there was always Garak to outwit him or his best pal Miles O’Brien to bring him back down to Earth, or at least to the holodeck.
When he wasn’t brazenly attempting to cure a plague or fix mental illness, he was actually fun to hang out with, for a genius. We’d defend the Alamo with him any time.
3. The Doctor (Robert Picardo)
Returning to a crankier Star Trek doctor, Voyager’s Emergency Medical Hologram-turned-chief medical officer made Robert Picardo a quick fan favorite who has endured as a stand-out character on the series for decades. His unintentionally humorous lines were always a delight and even gave a single, shining bright spot to Trek’s worst episode, “Threshold” (“Wake up, Lieutenant!”).
The Doctor not only had to grow as a physician throughout the series, but also into his humanity, and his best episodes helped bring light to the inequities of class-based access to medical treatment (“Critical Care”) and the complexities of both neuroscience and the soul (“Repentance”).
There’s a lot to love in The Doctor, and in Robert Picardo’s StarTrek.com interview, the actor provides insights into how he got the role and his history with the character.
2. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden)
For six of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s seasons, Doctor Crusher was a forthright advocate for patients’ rights and equal access to care, even if her patients were terrorists. She was a close friend, trusted advisor, and sometimes romantic partner to Captain Picard and was never afraid to push back at him, challenging his much-vaunted ethics when she thought he was in the wrong. She also did groundbreaking research, made new discoveries, and managed to raise a teenage son who turned out pretty all right as an ascended transdimensional being.
Though she was tragically under-developed in the TNG movies, her long-awaited return in Season 3 of Star Trek: Picard mined dramatic depths in her soul and in her relationship with Jean-Luc (as only she could call him). But we have to make an honorable mention for her underappreciated Season 2 replacement, Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur), whose earnest frankness was matched only by her insane surgical skills, which saved the captain’s life.
1. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz)
Star Trek: Discovery has two doctors, but the series’ medical chief won our hearts from the beginning with his brilliance, his clear-eyed perception, and his holistic approach to medical care. More than waving magical devices over people to heal their broken bones, Dr. Culber seeks to heal people’s souls as well. As the series progresses, he transitions further into the role of ship’s counselor, a role not seen since Deanna Troi in Next Generation, but all the more relevant in our time, and to a crew suffering from PTSD, grief, and much more after leaving their homes, families, and century behind.
But Culber stands out most to us as a doctor who is vulnerable and models taking care of himself as well, turning not just to the blunt and incisive Kovich (David Cronenberg), but to his equally brilliant and supportive husband, chief engineer Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), for help when he needs it most.