Can't you see from my expression how inhuman this so-called "logic" is?!
The McCoy is part of a Freudian Trio
along with The Kirk
and The Spock
. Where the former is rational and intuitive
, and the latter is cold
and logical, the McCoy is emotional
. He cares about others deeply; for him doing the right thing is not a question of convenience or moral relativity, but about the concrete reality right now
. Which is to say, someone like The Kirk
cares about saving people; the McCoy cares about making things right
. This often leads the heroes into hot water as this concern for others blinds him to complications in the Moral Dilemma
of the week and leads him to advocate (or take it upon himself to do) "the right thing", regardless of how disastrous it would be in the short or long run.
That said, they help keep the drama of a situation personal
both for the characters and the viewer, reminding us just why the Littlest Cancer Patient
deserves for The Hero
to use the phlebotinum that only works once
on him rather than to get them home.
To be fair, the Spock
can be just as compassionate, but is tempered with detachment and enough forethought to realize that the right answer might not be the correct one
, (illogical as that sounds
The McCoy is frequently a target for reminders about the Prime Directive
, and one or more episodes might focus on how having his heart on his sleeve can actually cause quite a bit of damage to the people he "helps" with the best of intentions
The McCoy still functions as an admirable character, however, due to his absolute devotion to his Moral beliefs and his refusal to give in to what others may tell him. For him, there is no such thing as acceptable losses. And if you start claiming that numbers can be lost
or that A Million is a Statistic
, you can expect a thorough chewing out for your coldness
. In the McCoy's mind, every life matters and everyone deserves to be saved. While The Spock
sees people as numbers in the greater picture, The McCoy sees people with real lives and emotions.
Also, the McCoy exists as a counterpart to The Spock
. If they are the moral center of the team in general too, then they are The Heart
as well. Likely to be the Red Oni in a Red Oni, Blue Oni
combination. Closely related to the McCoy are Hot-Blooded
and Agent Mulder
. Probably sides with the Romanticists in Romanticism Versus Enlightenment
The McCoy is the Honor Before Reason trope
personified, and may occasionally be a Strawman Emotional
. Will sometimes use I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder
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Anime and Manga
- The main characters of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fit directly into this trope. Rather than listening to logic, they prefer to screw the (Physical and otherwise) rules and dive right into a situation. They kick reason to the curb because that's the Team Gurren way.
- Murrue Ramius from Gundam SEED is a more reasonable McCoy in a command position, with a Sergeant Rock as her Deputy Captain, and The Kirk as an Ace Pilot and both of their primary advisor.
- Kallen and Suzaku from Code Geass fill this role for their respective sides.
- This personality archetype is, with a few exceptions in certain characters (namely Usopp and Robin, and then only occasionally for either), a prerequisite for joining the Straw Hat Pirates in One Piece. It also seems to be the default personality for the majority of the characters aligned with good, period.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Sayaka and Madoka are the McCoys to Homura and Kyuubey's Spocks. In this way, it almost seems to Take a Third Option when it comes to the Emotions vs. Stoicism debate: Sayaka lives by her emotions and ends up paying for it in every possible universe becoming a Witch in the main timeline, Madoka ends up rewriting the universe into a happier place through the Power of Love, Homura is by far the most competent Magical Girl outside Madoka and none of the latter's achievements would have been possible without her and vice versa if her Back Story is any indication, while Kyuubey has an arguable point in the goal he's working towards, but does so in an inarguably cruel and heartless way. In other words? Neither is specifically better than the other, and in fact both may be necessary, depending on the situation.
- Umi Ryuuzaki in Magic Knight Rayearth takes this role. It's not enough for her to defeat Ascot—he has to apologize and take responsibility for his monster friends, dammit! And when he does, she smiles and encourages him to make a complete Heel-Face Turn, resulting in him developing a huge crush on her.
Films — Live-Action
- According to co-writer Roberto Orci, the 2009 Star Trek film maintains this trope, but swaps Kirk and McCoy:
in a way represents for us, or represented for us, the extremes of Kirk
. If Spock
is extreme logic
, ... extreme science, and Kirk
is extreme emotion
and intuition, here you have a very colorful doctor, essentially a very humanistic scientist. So he, in a way, is literally and figuratively a representation of two extremes that often served as the glue that held the trio
- Though it comes off in a very similar manner to the show, and is very well played.
- Anakin Skywalker shows elements of this trope in the Prequel Trilogy. Especially since this was the reason he turned to The Dark Side.
- Mr White of Reservoir Dogs, in comparison to the cold and logical Mr Pink and the psychopathic Mr Blonde. He tells the dying Mr Orange his name and defends him all through the movie from accusations that Orange is a rat, based purely on the fact that he likes the guy.
- The Avengers: Iron Man fits The Kirk, and Captain America fits The McCoy. Given that Thor is calculative and likes control, and that Banner (when he's not Hulk) is calm and logical, either one could be The Spock.
- In The Brothers Karamazov, the brothers form a Freudian Trio: Alyosha as an idealistic Kirk, Ivan as the cold, rational Spock, and Dmitri is the emotional McCoy.
- Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, in contrast to her sister Elinor. Possibly the Trope Maker, considering this is one of the first known intentional uses of it (Austen intended the sisters' Emotions Versus Stoicism to be a metaphor for Romanticism Versus Enlightenment). Also notable as one of the few cases where the McCoy is wrong and has to learn to be more reserved, rather than the other way around.
- In the Harry Potter books, Harry, Ron and Hermione start out as The Kirk, The McCoy and The Spock respectively. Throughout the course of the novels, they all grow out of and beyond these labels, often switching around (Hermione's dedication to house-elf liberty is very McCoy-ish, for example) or not quite fitting any of them.
- Ned Land from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is an emotional harpooner who isn't excited about going around the world on the Nautilus and simply wants to return to civilization, in contrast to Aronnax's Kirk and Conseil's Spock.
- In the Star Trek novel Star Trek: Vulcan's Forge Rabin (an earlier friend of Spock's) is like this, though more friendly and less crotchety than ...the real McCoy.
- Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables
- Matteo in Someone Else's War.
- The Dresden Files: In Cold Days, Titania states that she acts according to "the wisdom of the heart", compared to Mab, who she says acts according to "Reason. Logic. Calculation. The cold numbers. The supremacy of the mind.".
- Harry also acts as this at times, most prominently in Grave Peril (where he absolutely refuses to abandon his girlfriend even knowing that it could mean an all out war with the Red Court, and it does indeed cause a war that nearly gets his own side wiped out), and Changes (where he goes against pretty much every piece of advice he'd previously given himself or others for the sake of rescuing a daughter he hadn't even known existed until a day before).
- However, it should be noted that this mindset is heavily deconstructed in all of those examples; Titania's "wisdom of the heart" makes her unhelpful even when all of reality (including her own domain) is at stake if Harry fails, and Harry's actions have truly disastrous repercussions for the world and the people he cares about (predictably for The McCoy, the latter hits him much harder than the former).
- Cassie in Literature/Animorphs.
- Fittingly, several doctors fill this role in Dino Attack RPG. Dr. Alan Pierce is arguably the most notable, with Wade, Carver, and Shaw behind him. Crusher, Copper, and Hale are more practical, and Medic is... well... Medic.
- In 1776, John Adams is a McCoy protagonist, incredibly passionate about American independence. He starts a stick-fight with Dickinson at one point and nearly jeopardizes the entire vote over the anti-slavery clause, but he's an absolute Determinator about wanting freedom from England and rights for all citizens.
- In Persona 4, this role is shared by Yosuke and Rise.
- Garrus Vakarian of the Mass Effect series evolves into this over the course of Mass Effect 1 & 2. By the second game, he forms a team of Cowboy cops to combat the corruption on the station in Omega. True to the "Get into hot water" portion, his whole squad ends up massacred.
- Starting in Mass Effect 2, Joker ends up pairing off as The McCoy to EDI's The Spock, appropriate as EDI is a Artificial Intelligence. Jacob and Miranda have a similar dynamic as the two senior Cerberus officers aboard in ME2, along with Tali and Legion. Bioware seems to enjoy this character dynamic.
- Merrick from Dawn of War Retribution objects violently to the notion that he and his men are cannon fodder. After an incident that ends with thousands of soldiers dying in a cataclysm, he attacks his commanding officer, and has the balls to tell him off whilst a commissar holds a gun to his head, itching to pull the trigger.
- Tidus practically embodies this trope in Final Fantasy X, frequently throwing all respect for the alien culture he finds himself washed up in to the winds in order to do what he perceives as the right thing, particularly when it involves stopping people from dying.
- The titular character from Sonic the Hedgehog, in contrast to Tails and Knuckles.
- Lloyd Irving in Tales of Symphonia has spades of this. While Colette is The Chosen and works hard to bring about the regeneration of the world through a set quest procedure until it turns out to not be the case at all with Cruxis, Lloyd doesn't follow tradition and urges others, in his own short-sighted viewpoints, from half-elves discriminated to Exspheres and what they're used for, to make their own decisions and accept/help each other along the way.
- Durkon and Elan sometimes fall into this, in contrast with V's The Spock.
- Conrad from Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name is not a very humanitarian/sentimentalist example, but he is the only part of the main triad (himself, Hanna and Zombie) that is freaked out by the general supernatural weirdness of the comic. He's pretty much a staple Only Sane Man who questions everyone else's logic and peculiar calmness in the face of things that should scare the crap out of normal people like him.
- Arcturus Winrock from Suicide for Hire pulled a HUGE McCoy on Hunter when he killed a cancer patient.
- In Harkovast Scatterpod plays the McCoy to Quinn-Tain's Spock over the morality of Quinn-Tain killing BrightLeaf.
- Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender . She once detained the group for three days by essentially poisoning Appa (well, she just fed him berries to turn his tongue purple, but she had no idea whether he could safely eat them) to help a village who lived on a polluted river, even destroying the factory that polluted it, in spite of being on a tight schedule.
- Sam in Danny Phantom forces Vegan meals and steals frogs from being dissected in her school, displays her disguise on a Beauty Contest to bring individuality to the girls, and other humanitarian beliefs she has up her sleeves. When she's not doing that, then she makes sure Danny is going the right path.
- Mikey Blumberg from Recess
- Brattus from Mr. Bogus