Some people just know their purpose in life. Especially if it's part of their programming. Voyager's Emergency Medical Hologram not only knows that he's a doctor, but never tires of telling people about all the other things that he's not.


The McCoy Syndrome

I'm A Doctor...

Voyager's Emergency Medical Holographic program is a blending of many Starfleet doctors. He might be missing a bedside manner - probably because programmer Lewis Zimmerman didn't have much time for tact and diplomacy himself - but he does seem to have a few personality quirks which are not strictly necessary in order for him to perform his medical duties. Doctor Leonard McCoy would almost certainly have been one of the doctors upon whom his program was based, but some of his speech patterns seem to have been accidentally included in the program as well! Well, it's either that or the holographic Doctor took it upon himself to read up on McCoy at the earliest opportunity and then (mindful of Kes's exhortations that he should cultivate a bedside manner) incorporated some of his character traits as one of his earliest forays into building himself a life and experiences beyond his initial programming...

Whatever the explanation, the Doctor uttered his first McCoyism as early as the fourth episode Phage and did his best to equal or outstrip the bon mots of the original. Here are his contributions:

  • "I'm a doctor, Mr Neelix, not a decorator." (Phage)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a bartender." (Twisted)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a voyeur." (Parturition)
  • "I'm a doctor..." "...not an engineer." (Prototype)
    Sentence completed by B'Elanna Torres, although I'm sure the Doctor would have said it if she hadn't obliged.
  • "I'm a doctor, not a performer." (Investigations)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a counter-insurgent." (Basics: 2)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a database." (Future's End: 2)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a peeping tom." (Drone)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a battery." (Gravity)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a dragonslayer." (Bliss)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a zookeeper." (Life Line)

Obviously, there's a little of Leonard McCoy in all medical holograms. Leave that program running for more than a few minutes, especially in times of stress, and they'll undoubtedly use those words:

  • "I'm a doctor, not a doorstop." (Star Trek: First Contact)
    The Emergency Medical Holographic program of the USS Enterprise-E.
  • "I'm a doctor, not a commando." (Message In A Bottle)
    The Emergency Medical Holographic program of the USS Prometheus.

And sometimes it even rubs off on other people who spend too much time in sickbay:

  • "I am a pilot, Harry, not a doctor." (Message In A Bottle)
    Tom Paris, medic-in-denial. You'll note that he managed to get it the wrong way round...


The Real McCoy

Just in case you were wondering, here's the list of things that McCoy wasn't, for comparison purposes:

  • "What am I, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor?" (TOS: The Corbomite Maneuver)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer." (TOS: The Devil In The Dark)
  • "I'm a surgeon, not a psychiatrist." (TOS: The City On The Edge Of Forever)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a mechanic." (TOS: The Doomsday Machine)
  • "I'm not a scientist or a physicist, Mr Spock." (TOS: Metamorphosis)
  • "I'm a doctor, not an escalator." (TOS: Friday's Child)
  • "I'm not a magician, Spock, just an old country doctor." (TOS: The Deadly Years)
  • "I will not peddle flesh. I'm a physician." (TOS: Return To Tomorrow)
  • "I'm a doctor, not a coal miner." (TOS: The Empath)
  • "I'm not a mechanic." (TOS: The Empath)

As you've probably noticed, not all of them stick to the strict "I'm a doctor/surgeon/physician, not a..." formula that I've been applying to Voyager's Doctor's utterings. One day I'll go back through the Voyager episodes with the proverbial fine toothcomb and see if any more entries can be added to the EMH's list under the same rules.

McCoy contributed 11 sayings in the course of the 79 episodes of the original series, six films, and a guest cameo in the pilot episode of The Next Generation, at a ratio of approximately 1:8. Sadly the Doctor, after a promising start, backslid somewhat in the later seasons. Too much time spent singing opera to the detriment of his other duties, I reckon. But it was a worthy effort.


This page is dedicated to the memory of the man without whose character there wouldn't have been any "I'm a Doctor..." tag lines to chronicle:

DeForest Kelley