List of Star Trek: Discovery characters

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Star Trek: Discovery is an American television series created for CBS All Access by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman. Set roughly a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series and separate from the timeline of the concurrent feature films, Discovery explores the FederationKlingon cold war while following the crew of the USS Discovery. It premiered on September 25, 2017.

The series stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, a Starfleet mutineer who is given a war-time field assignment as a science specialist on the USS Discovery and the adopted sister of original series character Spock. Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, and Mary Wiseman also star. They were joined by Jason Isaacs for the first season and Anson Mount for the second. Characters seen previously in Star Trek also appear in recurring roles, including Spock's father Sarek, portrayed by James Frain, and Harry Mudd, portrayed by Rainn Wilson.

The following list includes Star Trek: Discovery's main cast, as well as all guest stars deemed to have had recurring roles throughout the series, and a supplementary list of other noteworthy guests.

Overview[edit]

Character Portrayed by Appearances
First Season 1 Season 2
Main characters
Michael Burnham Sonequa Martin-Green "The Vulcan Hello" Main
Saru Doug Jones Main
Voq / Ash Tyler Shazad Latif Main
Paul Stamets Anthony Rapp "Context Is for Kings" Main
Sylvia Tilly Mary Wiseman Main
Gabriel Lorca Jason Isaacs Main Does not appear
Hugh Culber Wilson Cruz "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry" Recurring Main
Christopher Pike Anson Mount TBA Does not appear Main
Recurring characters
Philippa Georgiou Michelle Yeoh "The Vulcan Hello" Recurring Does not appear
L'Rell Mary Chieffo Recurring Guest
Sarek James Frain Recurring Guest
Kol Kenneth Mitchell "Battle at the Binary Stars" Recurring Does not appear
Katrina Cornwell Jayne Brook "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry" Recurring Does not appear
Jet Reno Tig Notaro TBA Does not appear Recurring

Main characters[edit]

Michael Burnham[edit]

Sonequa Martin-Green

Michael Burnham (portrayed by Sonequa Martin-Green) is a Science Specialist aboard the USS Discovery. Burnham was First Officer of the USS Shenzhou, where she was referred to as "Number One,"[1][2] until she was convicted of mutiny and sentenced to life in prison. Discovery Captain Gabriel Lorca brings Burnham back to duty with a temporary wartime assignment as a scientist on his ship. Burnham was raised following Vulcan culture and traditions by Sarek, and is the first human to attend the Vulcan Learning Center and Vulcan Science Academy.[3][4]

Series co-creator Bryan Fuller had anticipated casting announcements for the show in October 2016,[2] but no announcements had been made by the end of that month. The majority of the series main characters were believed to have been cast by then, but no actress had been cast for the series' lead role. This was a source of "some internal stress" at CBS, with the casting of the character deemed "a far tougher assignment" than expected.[5] Several African American and Latina actresses were being looked at for the role, with CBS "not seeking a huge star and [preferring] a fresh face for the part."[6] Martin-Green was cast in the role in December, which was revealed with the character's production codename "lieutenant commander Rainsford".[7][8] Her casting was officially confirmed in April 2017, following the end of her run on The Walking Dead, with the character's actual name also revealed.[1] The character has an inner conflict due to being raised by Sarek, with showrunner Aaron Harberts explaining that many of the actresses tested for the role "either went way too robotic and chilly or way too emotional", but Martin-Green was "able to be aloof but warm; logical but able to surrender her emotional side to the audience."[3]

Since Sarek's son Spock never mentioned a sister in the original series, executive producer Alex Kurtzman said that the specifics of Burnham's backstory would be revealed in a way that would not break the existing canon continuity.[4] As the show's protagonist, Burnham was not made a starship captain, like those of previous Star Trek series, "to see a character from a different perspective on the starship—one who has different dynamic relationships with a captain, with subordinates, it gave us richer context".[9] She is referred to as Number One to honor the character of the same name portrayed by Majel Barrett in the original Star Trek pilot "The Cage",[3] and was initially pitched to CBS as only being called Number One in the series.[2] Fuller deliberately gave the character a traditionally male name as he did with the female leads of three previous (non-Star Trek) productions. Martin-Green decided that the character was named after her biological father.[10]

Saru[edit]

Doug Jones

Saru (portrayed by Doug Jones) is a Commander serving as First Officer of the USS Discovery,[11] and the first Kelpien to enter Starfleet.[12]

In the Star Trek: Short Treks episode “The Brightest Star”, we learn how Saru adapted a communication device left behind by the pre-warp Kelpien’s oppressors (the Ba’ul), eventually connecting with a young Starfleet officer – Lieutenant Philippa Georgiou – who gets permission to “rescue” him from his planet.

Jones was revealed to have been cast as Saru in November 2016.[11] Kelpiens, a new species created for Discovery, were hunted as prey on their home planet and thus evolved the ability to sense the coming of death. This skill has given them a reputation for cowardice in the Federation.[12] Jones was excited to, "from the ground up, develop and find this character and his species" and not have to honor a previous fan-favorite representation.[13] He based Saru's walk on that of a supermodel,[4] out of necessity thanks to the boots he had to wear to portray the character's hooved feet forcing Jones to walk on the balls of his feet.[14] The producers compared Saru to the characters Spock and Data from previous series in the franchise.[12]

Saru was introduced in the series premiere as a Lieutenant Commander serving as Chief Science Officer on the USS Shenzhou, which is rendered a hulk during a battle in the series' second episode.[15] Before the events of "Context Is for Kings", Saru becomes First Officer on the USS Discovery.[16]

In the Mirror Universe storyline Saru is a nameless slave stationed on the ISS Shenzhou.

Voq / Ash Tyler[edit]

Shazad Latif (2017)

Voq (portrayed by Shazad Latif) is an albino Klingon, described as being "touched by fate and fire".[17][18] He undergoes surgery to disguise himself as Ash Tyler, a human Starfleet lieutenant and former prisoner of war.[19][20]

Latif was originally cast in the role of the Klingon Kol in December 2016, before being recast as Tyler at the end of April 2017.[21][22][19] Voq was initially credited as being portrayed by Javid Iqbal, an invented actor named for Latif's father, to hide the connection between the characters.[20] Latif described his character as "a very complex and painful and deep character",[19] and noted that "there's a chemistry, a relationship" with Burnham.[23] Latif's accent for Voq is Arabic-inspired, and he tried to maintain "a kind of pharyngealness" to Tyler's American accent.[20]

Paul Stamets[edit]

Anthony Rapp

Paul Stamets (portrayed by Anthony Rapp) is a Science Officer specializing in astromycology (the study of fungi in space).[11][24]

Rapp was revealed to have been cast as Stamets in November 2016.[11] He was originally cast in a different, smaller role, but when discussing gay actors who could portray the character Stamets, the executive producers realized that Rapp was the actor they wanted to fill that role instead. He did not audition for either role.[25] He is the first openly gay character in a Star Trek series, and the showrunners "wanted to roll out that character's sexuality the way people would roll out their sexuality in life". Rapp noted that Hikaru Sulu was portrayed as gay in the film Star Trek Beyond, calling that "a nice nod. But in this case, we actually get to see me with my partner in conversation, in our living quarters, you get to see our relationship over time, treated as any other relationship would be treated".[26]

Stamets is inspired by a real-life mycologist of the same name,[27] whom Fuller had introduced to the series' writers early on after becoming interested in his research into spores. The character's outlook that physics and biology are quantifiably the same thing also comes from the real Stamets' research and theories.[28]

Sylvia Tilly[edit]

Mary Wiseman

Sylvia Tilly (portrayed by Mary Wiseman) is a cadet in her final year at Starfleet Academy, assigned to the Discovery.[29][30] She works under Stamets aboard the Discovery, and becomes roommates there with Burnham.[30]

Wiseman was cast in March 2017.[29] Tilly was included to represent people "at the very bottom of this ladder" of the Starfleet hierarchy. She is "the most optimistic ... has the biggest heart", and Harberts described her as "sort of the soul of our show".[25] The character was named after showrunner Gretchen J. Berg's two-year-old niece.[28]

Gabriel Lorca[edit]

Jason Isaacs

Gabriel Lorca (portrayed by Jason Isaacs) is Captain of the Discovery,[31] a "brilliant military tactician".[32]

Isaacs joined the series in March 2017,[31] describing Lorca as "probably more f-d up than any of" the previously seen Star Trek captains,[4] and comparing the character to his portrayal of Mike Steele in the film Black Hawk Down. Isaacs was initially given the first two scripts for the series, which Lorca does not appear in, and an early draft of his introduction in the third that was going to be re-written, but agreed to join the series after discussing the series and character with the executive producers.[33] He plays the character with a slight southern U.S. accent,[34] wanting to avoid using his own English accent and being "a very pale shadow of the brilliant Patrick Stewart [Picard on The Next Generation]", and "he’s a military man, but he can be immensely charming. I’ve been privileged enough to work with the [U.S. Army] Rangers at Fort Benning, and no matter where you come from in America, if you train down South where most of the bases are, you pick up some form of a Southern accent. And I wanted something that had subliminal hints at the military."[35] Isaacs initially wanted to ad-lib a catchphrase for the character feeling that all Star Trek captains should have one, coming up with "git'r done" which the writers turned down due to it being widely used and copyrighted by Larry the Cable Guy.[34] Comparing his character to Captain Georgiou, Isaacs said, "Georgiou is a mother figure, and I am unsentimental and don’t see my job as protecting [Burnham] emotionally or any other way. I see her as a very, very useful asset in this war."[35] In addition to having a standard Captain's ready-room, Lorca also has a room referred to as his "menagerie" where he keeps things that he collects. This includes the skeleton of a Gorn, a species that is apparently first discovered later in the original series, with Harberts feeling that the presence of this skeleton added to the mystery of the character—how did he come about it, and how does the rest of Starfleet not know of the species if he does?[28]

Hugh Culber[edit]

Wilson Cruz

Hugh Culber (portrayed by Wilson Cruz) is a Medical Officer of the Discovery. Culber is Stamets's love interest and partner.[36] Tyler kills Culber in Episode 10 of the first season.

On creating the first gay couple in a Star Trek series, Cruz said he "felt like it was a long time coming ... What's great about the way that the show is handling it is it's not like we are having a special two-hour episode about gay relationships in space. It's not that. They just happen to be in love, and they happen to be coworkers. And, I hope by the time we get to [the 23rd] century that it will be exactly like that."[37]

Christopher Pike[edit]

Anson Mount

Christopher Pike (portrayed by Anson Mount) is captain of the USS Enterprise.

After the first season concluded with the Discovery receiving a distress call from the Enterprise, specifically from Pike, Harberts expressed interest in exploring that character in the second season, feeling that he had not been seen much in Star Trek previously and so "there’s an interesting opportunity that we might have to delve into and flesh out a character who I think is a pretty darn heroic and selfless captain."[38] In April 2018, Mount was cast as Pike, which was described as a "key role" for the season.[39] He revealed in July that he was contracted as a main cast member for the full season.[40]

Recurring characters[edit]

Introduced in a previous series[edit]

Sarek[edit]

Sarek (portrayed by James Frain) is a Vulcan ambassador and astrophysicist, the father of Spock, and the surrogate father of Michael Burnham.[41][4] Frain appears as a younger version of the character who was first portrayed by Mark Lenard in the original Star Trek series episode "Journey to Babel".[41][42]

Introduced in season one[edit]

Philippa Georgiou[edit]

Philippa Georgiou (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh) is the captain of the Shenzhou.[43][44] Georgiou has a "mother and daughter" relationship with Burnham after the latter joins the Shenzhou.[4] Yeoh chose to retain her ethnic Malaysian Chinese accent for the role, another way the series diversified its cast.[45]

Georgiou is killed in battle by T'Kuvma in the aftermath of the Battle at the Binary Stars. Later in season one the Mirror Universe Georgiou is introduced. In this universe she is the ruthless Emperor of the Terran Empire and adoptive mother of Michael Burnham.

L'Rell[edit]

L'Rell (portrayed by Mary Chieffo) is the Battle Deck Commander of the Klingon ship.[46] L'Rell is a member of both the house of T'Kuvma and the house of Mo'Kai, the latter having been first mentioned during Star Trek: Voyager. Chieffo said that because of this, there would be an "interesting exploration of what it is to be of two different ideologies" for the character.[47] Chieffo looked back at past female Klingons seen in Star Trek for inspiration, and said that she wanted L'Rell to follow in the vein of Grilka from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[48]

Kol[edit]

Kol (portrayed by Kenneth Mitchell) is the Commanding Officer of the Klingons, and opponent of T'Kuvma's goals.[46][22] Kol is a member of the house of Kor, a character portrayed by John Colicos in the original series. Mitchell described Kol as both "complicated" and "powerful",[47][48] and said that he studied Colicos's "subtle" performance and read the novel The Final Reflection to prepare.[48]

Katrina Cornwell[edit]

Katrina Cornwell (portrayed by Jayne Brook) is a Starfleet admiral. She appears several times as Captain Lorca's direct superior and later confidant. She and Lorca had a previous romantic relationship. She was captured by the Klingons while replacing Sarek as a peace envoy and held on the Klingon Ship of the Dead. Surviving her ordeal she forms an odd non-friendship with L'Rell and is later rescued by Burnham and Tyler. Her background is in mental health and psychology, which was vital in breaking Tyler out of a PTSD flashback long enough to aid in the escape from the Sarcophagus ship. After her rescue she returns to Starfleet.[49]

Introduced in season two[edit]

Jet Reno[edit]

Jet Reno (portrayed by Tig Notaro) is the Chief Engineer of the USS Hiawatha.[50] Notaro joined the series because of a preexisting relationship with Kurtzman, who had the part written for the actress.[51] The character was originally named Denise Reno, but Notaro was able to rename the character and changed it to Jet Reno.[52]

Guest characters[edit]

Introduced in a previous series[edit]

  • Amanda Grayson (portrayed by Mia Kirshner): The human wife of Sarek. Kirshner appears as a younger version of the character who was first portrayed by Jane Wyatt in the original Star Trek series episode "Journey to Babel".[9][53]
  • Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd (portrayed by Rainn Wilson): A charismatic con-man. In March 2017, Wilson was cast as a younger version of the character first played by Roger C. Carmel in the original Star Trek series episode "Mudd's Women".[54] He described his version as "a reimagining, a reinvention in the same way so many things have been reimagined and reinvented. He's a bit more dastardly than the original. But that character made such an impression on me, and it is a dream come true to try to bring him to life with as much drama and comedy as possible."[55] Wilson "stole a lot of things that I loved from [Carmel's] performance, and then added a lot more of my own."[23]
  • Stella Mudd (portrayed by Katherine Barrell): Harry Mudd's wife. An android replica of the character was previously portrayed by Kay Elliot in the original Star Trek series episode "I, Mudd".[56]
  • Number One (portrayed by Rebecca Romijn): First Officer to Pike on the Enterprise, first portrayed by Majel Barrett in the original Star Trek pilot "The Cage".[57]

Introduced in season one[edit]

Damon Runyan and Clare McConnell portray Ujilli and Dennas, leaders in the Klingon Empire, respectively.[22] Additionally, appearing throughout the season are Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer,[61] Ali Momen as Kamran Gant,[61] Chris Violette as Britch Weeton,[61] Romain Waite as Troy Januzzi,[61] Sara Mitich as Airiam,[62] Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun,[62] Ronnie Rowe Jr. as R.A. Bryce,[63] Conrad Coates as Terral,[64] and Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys.[64] Tasia Valenza and Julianne Grossman voice the computers of the Shenzhou and the Discovery, respectively.[61][62]

Introduced in season two[edit]

  • Leland (portrayed by Alan van Sprang): A Section 31 agent. Sprang was cast for the original ending of the first season, but the scene was cut and later released separately online along with confirmation that he would continue to play the part in the second season.[65]

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