Doctor (Star Trek): Wikis


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The Doctor
Species Hologram
Affiliation United Federation of Planets
Posting Chief medical officer,
USS Voyager
Portrayed by Robert Picardo

The Doctor, an Emergency Medical Hologram Mark I (or EMH for short) is a fictional character from the television series Star Trek: Voyager, played by actor Robert Picardo. The character also appeared in the now-closed Star Trek: The Experience Borg 4-D Adventure at the Las Vegas Hilton.

The EMH is a holographic computer program designed to treat patients during emergency situations, or when the regular medical staff is unavailable or incapacitated. Programmed with all current Starfleet medical knowledge, the Doctor is equipped with the knowledge and mannerisms of historic Federation doctors, as well as the physical appearance of his programmer, Dr. Lewis Zimmerman.


Character bio

The character of the Doctor began his service on the USS Voyager as the standard Emergency Medical Hologram built into almost every newer Starfleet ship's sickbay. The EMH is for use should the ship's doctor be incapacitated. In the series' first episode, Voyager's Chief Medical Officer, along with his Vulcan nurse, were killed. The EMH eventually developed his own personality, although he generally maintained his acerbic wit. Since he was originally intended as a temporary medical backup system, not as an artificial life form, considerable strains were placed on the Doctor's program during the early parts of the journey.

Attempting to develop a realistic personality, the Doctor not only manufactured a holographic family,[1] he had an increasing number of other 'human' experiences. This resulted in the Doctor's program evolving to become more lifelike, with emotions and ambitions. He developed meaningful and complex relationships with many members of the ship's crew. The Doctor also developed talents as a playwright, artist, photographer, and even became a connoisseur of the opera.

A recurring theme was the ethical aspects of an artificial, yet apparently sentient, being. In Episode 105 "Latent Image" triaging two patients with an equal chance of survival, with only enough time to treat one, the Doctor chose Harry Kim, a friend. The other patient, Ensign Jetal, died. The Doctor was overwhelmed with guilt, believing that his friendship influenced his choice. When the stress nearly led to his program breaking down, Captain Janeway had these specific memories deleted. The Doctor later discovered clues to this experience, thus Captain Janeway was convinced that he had a right to learn to emotionally cope rather than be treated merely as a defective piece of equipment.[2]

The Doctor submitted a holo-novel titled Photons Be Free to a publisher on Earth, detailing the manner in which holograms were sometimes treated by Starfleet. His characters were closely based on Voyager's crew, but exaggerated to appear more intense and vicious, creating fears among the crew their reputations would be ruined. Tom Paris convinced the Doctor to make adjustments without sacrificing his theme. The Doctor lacked legal rights as Starfleet did not classify him as a "sentient being". Thus he was forbidden to make any subsequent holonovel changes. Captain Janeway's subsequent efforts resulted in the Doctor being accorded the status of 'artist', (though not a "person"). This permitted him to rewrite the novel. Four months later, it was known throughout the Alpha Quadrant as a very thought-provoking piece of work.

The Doctor's standard greeting was "Please state the nature of the medical emergency" when activated, though later modified to say whatever he chose. (He was later given the ability to deactivate himself.[3])

The Doctor later acquired a mobile emitter from the 29th Century.[4] Previously confined to Sickbay or the Holodeck this allowed him to move about freely. This was first revealed to the crew as the Doctor was exiting a car on the streets of Los Angeles in 1996, to Tuvok, Tom Paris, and Rain Robinson. The Doctor exited the car along with Starling and his bodyguard. The mobile emitter made him ideal for missions where the environment would be harmful or otherwise fatal to the crew. In "Friendship One", the Doctor joins a rescue mission to a planet in nuclear winter disguising himself in a native's radiation suit. He tosses a phaser to Tuvok, who stuns the weapon bearing natives, allowing the crew to beam out to Voyager.

The Doctor's programming evolved to the point where he fell in love with Seven of Nine, though she did not reciprocate. In an alternate future episode, "Endgame", the Doctor adopts the name 'Joe', and marries a human female, named Lana (played by Amy Lindsay).


Emergency Command Hologram

The "Emergency Command Hologram", aka "ECH", is first coined by the Doctor in the episode, "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy", in which he creates a program that allows him to daydream. In these grandiose daydreams, the Doctor adds routines which allow him to take command of Voyager in the event that the command crew were disabled. A dramatic morph transformation occurs changing his uniform from science blue to command red, his rank pips subsequently appearing. The daydreams are picked up by a Hierarchy vessel in a nearby nebula and believed to be real events. Once the crew discover that the Doctor is daydreaming they use the holodeck to view his dreams. This includes the one expressing his desire to be an Emergency Command Hologram. Captain Janeway promises to consider his proposal. The Doctor soon gets the opportunity to live out his daydreams as, with the assistance of the crew, he pretends to be in charge to neutralize a war fleet.

The ECH made its debut the following season in "Workforce". After an incident with a subspace mine that releases a great amount of tetryon radiation, the crew is forced to abandon ship. To keep the ship moving the Doctor takes over the command functions.

In the episode "Renaissance Man", against the wishes of the crew, the Doctor uses his ECH program to eject the Warp core.

Backup copies

Unlike most computer programs, the Doctor's program was never copied or backed up. Voyager has a limited memory capacity; the Doctor's entire program uses 50 million gigaquads ("Lifesigns"). This limitation was also mentioned in "The Swarm." However, "Living Witness" depicts a future in which a backup copy does exist.


One recurring theme in the Doctor's life was his lack of a name. Starfleet did not assign a name and initially the Doctor maintained that he did not want one. Later, he adopted such names as 'Schmullus' (by a Vidiian patient), 'Schweitzer' (after Albert Schweitzer), 'Van Gogh', 'Kenneth', 'Jones', and several others. The captioned dialog of early episodes, and early promotional material for the series' premiere, referred to him as 'Dr. Zimmerman', after his creator, Lewis Zimmerman. In the series finale, a future is shown where he has chosen the name "Joe."

Enterprise-E EMH

Robert Picardo also had a cameo in the movie Star Trek: First Contact, where he played the emergency medical hologram of the USS Enterprise-E. Doctor Beverly Crusher activated him as a means of distracting the Borg, while they escaped. He replied, "I'm a doctor, not a doorstop", an homage to Doctor McCoy's famous line "I'm a doctor, not a..." (the Doctor also made this reference several other times, on Voyager). When the Borg break in, he attempts to offer them cream for itchy skin caused by their implants.


Robert Picardo initially auditioned for Neelix. Despite Ethan Phillips getting the part, Picardo was asked by the producers to come back and audition for the Doctor—something that shocked him, because usually actors would be passed over completely.[5] During his audition for the role of the Doctor, Robert Picardo was asked only to say, "Somebody forgot to terminate my program." However, he then ad-libbed, "I'm a doctor, not a nightlight!" (Picardo was initially afraid that he may have ruined his chances—ad-libbing, he explained, was something that one just 'did not do' in an audition.)


  1. ^ "Real_Life". Writers: Harry 'Doc' Kloor and Jeri Taylor; Director: Anson Williams. Star Trek: Voyager. 1997-04-23. No. 64, season 3.
  2. ^ "Latent Image". Writers: Eileen Connors and Joe Menosky; Director: Mike Vejar. Star Trek: Voyager. 1999-01-20. No. 105, season 5.
  3. ^ "Jetrel". Writers: Jack Klein, Karen Klein, and Kenneth Biller; Director: Kim Friedman. Star Trek: Voyager. 1995-05-15. No. 15, season 1.
  4. ^ "Future's End". Writers: Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky, Directors: David Livingston (part I) and Cliff Bole (part II). Star Trek: Voyager. 1996-11-06–1996-11-13. No. 50 and 51, season 3.
  5. ^ "Robert Picardo ("The Doctor" - VOY)". Star Trek Official Site. 6 May 2002. "When I didn't get the part, the producers shocked me by asking me to reconsider the Doctor. Usually in TV, when you have tested for one role, they simply throw you into the ash can and move on to another actor." 

External links

Simple English

This is an article about the character on the TV series Star Trek: Voyager. For other uses, see The Doctor (disambiguation)

The Doctor is a character on the American television show Star Trek: Voyager. He is a hologram with a database of medical knowledge and is the chief medical officer on Voyager.


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