Katherine Pulaski, MD
|Affiliation||United Federation of Planets
USS Enterprise-D Chief Medical Officer C.M.O.
|Portrayed by||Diana Muldaur|
Commander Katherine Pulaski, MD, played by Diana Muldaur, is the replacement chief medical officer for Dr. Beverly Crusher during the second season of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Muldaur had previously played the parts of two separate characters (also doctors) in separate episodes of the original Star Trek series: Dr. Ann Mulhall in "Return to Tomorrow" and Dr. Miranda Jones in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?".
Despite being a regular character on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Muldaur was always listed during the opening credits as a "Special Guest Star".
Following production of the second season, Muldaur left TNG and joined the cast of L.A. Law. Gates McFadden returned to continue playing Dr. Crusher. It has never been revealed why Pulaski left the Enterprise. Since her departure, Pulaski is seldom mentioned on TNG. She is directly referenced when Dr. Crusher states that she is aware of Pulaski's short-term memory erasing technique in "Who Watches the Watchers". Pulaski is also indirectly referenced in "Ship in a Bottle" as the hostage whom Professor Moriarty had captured in his previous adventure. Later, in the series finale to Star Trek: Voyager, Pulaski's name can be heard being paged over an intercom at a Starfleet medical facility as Kathryn Janeway leaves the room of her ailing friend Tuvok.
In a reference to the fate of Muldaur's character on L.A. Law, The Star Trek Encyclopedia categorically states that "there is no truth to the rumor that an ancestor of Dr. Pulaski was killed falling down the elevator shaft at a prestigious Los Angeles law firm. None at all".
Fictional character biography
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2012)|
Prior to serving on the Enterprise-D, she serves on the USS Repulse under Captain Taggart, who was sorry to lose her.
Kate is a fairly traditional doctor, well versed in methods that her nurses consider archaic, such as splints. She has a cool bedside manner, and is known to prescribe "PCS", also known as "Pulaski's Chicken Soup", for minor ailments.
She shares many personality traits with Dr. Leonard McCoy of the original Star Trek, including a distrust of transporters and androids and a no-nonsense attitude (see for instance her favor of using splints).
She is outgoing and much more bubbly and louder than the quiet, reserved Beverly Crusher. She also has a high-spirited nature and is known to be very charming toward most of the crew, while at the same time she likes to make humorous or even slightly sarcastic remarks every now and then. In short, she very strongly possesses a lot of archetypically "human" personality features, and could be described as the opposite of such calm, rational individuals as Data or Spock, who mostly lack these features.
Pulaski is also well respected in the field of research. Her book, "Linear Models of Viral Propagation", has been considered the standard text on the subject for several years.
Pulaski has been married and divorced three times by the time she joins the Enterprise crew in 2365. She remains on good terms with all three men. Prior to this she has been involved with Kyle Riker, estranged father of Enterprise first officer William Riker, but they never married because of his preoccupation with his work.
She takes a noticeable liking to Lieutenant Worf in "Up the Long Ladder". He is embarrassed when diagnosed with the Klingon equivalent to measles (a traditionally childhood disease), Pulaski violates regulations by omitting the diagnosis and treatment from his medical records to protect his pride. Worf shows his appreciation by agreeing to perform the elaborate Klingon tea ceremony with her—something not usually shared with outsiders—while noting that she must not actually consume the tea as it is quite poisonous to humans. Katherine, however, immediately injects herself with an antidote to fully share the experience with him. She considers his statement that death, like tea, is something best shared "romantic." After drinking with him, Katherine asks to hear some Klingon love poetry.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard's working relationship with Dr. Pulaski is somewhat strained, and at the beginning of her service on the ship, her stubborn, brusque manner annoys him at times. This eventually changes. In the episode "Unnatural Selection", a highly-contagious disease which causes rapid aging and decline followed by death, is investigated by the Enterprise. In order to protect the crew from exposure, Dr. Pulaski examines a young man who carries the disease, by leaving the ship with him and examining him inside a shuttle. Unfortunately, she becomes infected with the disease and begins experiencing immediately painful symptoms. She then quarantines herself on a planetary medical facility where others afflicted with the disease are living, while she, along with the Enterprise medical staff and researchers on the planet try desperately to discover a cure. Pulaski rapidly ages near the point of death, until a sudden cure is discovered involving the transporters which instantly reverses the aging effect. Throughout the ordeal, Capt. Picard admires Pulaski's courage and dedication. Their professional relationship remains solid after these events.
Pulaski has some "personality" issues with Lieutenant Commander Data. Despite the fact that Data has always been seen as alive (and later won the legal rights of a sentient being), Pulaski thinks of Data merely as a machine, and does not understand why he wants to be human. She sometimes speaks about him in the third person while he is present, even referring to him as "it".
The non-canon Next Generation novel Vendetta by Peter David shows her as having returned to the Repulse after she leaves the Enterprise.
- The Star Trek Encyclopedia by Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda and Debbie Mirek, published in 1994 by Paramount Pictures
- "The Icarus Factor"
- "Up the Long Ladder"