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Important note: Several characters in this series are not who they appear to be and their tropes easily reach Walking Spoiler status. Even scrolling down on this page will reveal a twist of the first season. Browse the page at your own risk.

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The Federation

Starfleet

Crew of the U.S.S. Discovery (NCC-1031)

    Captain Gabriel Lorca 

Captain Gabriel Lorca

Played by: Jason Isaacs

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/std_lorca.jpg
"You helped start a war. Don't you want to help me end it?"

The commanding officer of the U.S.S. Discovery and a respected military tactician within Starfleet. Or so we are led to believe at first; he is really the Gabriel Lorca from the Mirror Universe. His prime-universe counterpart formerly commanded the U.S.S. Buran before it was lost with all hands during a battle with the Klingons.

  • Ambiguously Evil: He fully admits to being pragmatic, ruthless and willing to do whatever it takes to save the Federation, even if it means breaking a few rules. Secretly harboring the creature from the Glenn, for instance. The ambiguous part is thrown out the window when he's revealed to be a Terran from the Mirror Universe who is bad even by their standards. He's just really good at hiding it.
  • Asshole Victim: When he is killed in episode 13, it feels very much deserved.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: As a brilliant military tactician, he has certainly earned his command.
  • Badass Longcoat: Changes into civilian clothes including a knee-length leather coat after the Discovery arrives in the Mirror Universe and Lorca, Burnham, and Ash plan to infiltrate the Terran fleet with Lorca posing as Burnham's prisoner. He later gets thrown into an agonizer booth, takes over the Terran flagship, and gets into a martial arts battle with Mirror Georgiou all while still wearing the coat.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Holds this attitude since he knows what Klingons do to prisoners, which is why he destroyed his last command when it was ambushed by the Klingons, or so he claimed.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Saves the day as the architect of an impressive Gunship Rescue of Corvan II. It's the first in a string of such feats.
  • Blood Knight: Downplayed, but he does seem to have warmongering tendencies, at least compared to the more idealistic members of his crew, which makes complete sense once his Mirror Universe origins are revealed.
  • The Captain: Of the U.S.S. Discovery.
  • Character Death: Killed by Mirror-Georgiou in episode 13.
  • Consummate Liar: Comes with being a Manipulative Bastard. For one thing, he managed to fool every psych test Starfleet put him through, maintaining a Mask of Sanity while suffering from crippling PTSD. He also successfully disguised his true nature as the Mirror Universe version of Lorca.
  • The Corrupter: Will drop hints and tips to his crew about how to get around pesky Starfleet orders and regulations.
    Lorca: ''[to the bridge crew after detailing how he's going to ignore an admiral's orders and make it look innocent] ...If you're planning on disobeying a direct order, best not to advertise the fact.
    • This happens frequently enough that the crew is surprised when Lorca does something by the book.
      Lorca: Notify Starfleet Command. Ask for orders.
      Saru: [looks shocked]
      Lorca: Is there a problem?
      Saru: No sir. Uh, just in the past we have engaged in... alternative thinking on these matters.
    • From almost the moment Burnham came on board, Lorca has been trying to subtly manipulate her into abandoning her Starfleet ideals and join him in the ruling the Terran Empire.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Lorca has a recent battle injury to his eyes that make bright lights and sudden dark-to-bright lighting changes painful and debilitating. Actually there's nothing wrong with his eyes. He's from the Mirror Universe where the humans there are naturally photosensitive compared to their Prime Universe counterparts.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gets a shot in at Stamets when Saru calls Burnham the smartest Starfleet officer he knows.
    "And he knows you."
  • Dead Person Impersonation: He winds up impersonating his Mirror Universe counterpart, who is missing and presumed dead. It turns out that the reverse is true: this Lorca really is from the Mirror Universe, and is impersonating his supposedly dead Prime Universe counterpart.
  • The Dragon: He served as this to the Terran Emperor. She trusted him with her most sensitive missions and even her adoptive daughter.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He really did love the Michael Burnham of the Mirror Universe, and sincerely wants the Prime Universe version to join him.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: He has a mysterious triangle shaped one on on his back. Turns out it is a scar from an agonizer. A bit of Foreshadowing of his Mirror Universe origins, as well as the fact that he was quite the dissident back in his own universe.
  • Evil Virtues: Resourcefulness, ambition, valor, patience, and diligence in particular. He's willing to go to extreme lengths to carry out his true goals and puts on a very convincing front that often contradicts everything he believes. He is also, in a sense, genuinely loyal to Burnham and, in his own twisted way, loves her.
  • Fantastic Racism: Is xenophobic even by Terran Empire standards. He claims that he betrayed Georgiou because her policy of enslaving all aliens was too tolerant for him. This makes it all the more impressive that he managed to work side-by-side with aliens, including having Saru as his Number Two.
  • A Father to His Men: Takes a shine to Lt. Tyler very quickly and he refuses to abandon him, he also immediately agrees to help Michael find Sarek after she asks him. The loss of his last command weighs on him heavily. This is something of a half-truth, as he cares for his crew in the Mirror Universe, not the loss of the Buran in the Prime Universe.
  • Friends with Benefits: With Admiral Cornwell.
  • Genius Bruiser: Brilliant military tactician and a badass with his fists. He's the brains and the brawn in a fight.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: Has a friends-with-benefits relationship with Admiral Cornwell, his immediate superior officer who is also a psychiatrist that is assessing his mental fitness for command after he displays a pattern of reckless behavior.
  • In the Back: How the Emperor kills him.
  • Irony: Lorca is really an imposter from the Mirror Universe, but he fails to realize that Ash Tyler is an imposter as well, in the form of a heavily surgically-disguised Voq, who works his way into Lorca's trust very quickly — even more remarkably so when one considers that Terran Empire officers like Mirror-Lorca are usually paranoid to a fault. Then again, that might be exactly why it was so easy for Tyler to gain his trust, since Lorca assumed that the moralistic and pacifist Prime Starfleet counterparts were too soft to be capable of betrayal. Not to mention the fact that Voq/Tyler really believed he was who he seemed to be, and not putting on a deliberate front like Lorca.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Despite his rather abrasive personality and questionable command status, Lorca does start showing something of a softer side towards Michael and it seems apparent that much of his harshness stems from the trauma of war and losing his entire previous crew. Not really: this is all a disguise for the fact that the Lorca we've been watching has been the Mirror Universe version the entire time, and he's a manipulative, violent psychopath who's racist even by Terran Empire standards.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Lorca's Manipulative Bastard tendencies have always kept him a bit morally ambiguous, but once he fully reveals himself as actually being Mirror-Lorca, he proves himself in every way worse than the Emperor he's trying to overthrow.
  • Kill and Replace: It's ambiguous, but in coming to the prime universe, he may have taken the place of his deceased counterpart. Expanded Universe material, however, indicates that the prime Gabriel Lorca is still alive somewhere in the Mirror Universe.
  • Loophole Abuse: His mission grants him wide latitude to do whatever he needs to to accomplish it, and he decides that includes essentially hijacking Burnham out of prison and getting her on his crew.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Has his own personal hobby room filled with some of the deadliest and most illegal weapons in the galaxy, including guns, phaser rifles, disruptors, swords, daggers, bat'leths, poisons, and chemical and biological weapons. It also has exotic creatures (presumably test subjects) including Cardassian voles, tribbles (seen dissected on his lab table), a Horta, and the skeleton of a Gorn, as well as a containment pen for larger, more dangerous creatures where Ripper, the giant space tardigrade, is kept. Lorca says he studies war and wants to learn from the best.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Plays the audio of the Corvan II distress calls over the entire ship's intercom to motivate the crew — and mainly to guilt-trip Lt. Stamets — into pushing themselves to the limit to save the mining colony on Corvan II.
    • He also managed to hide the severity of his PTSD from multiple Starfleet psychological evaluations.
    • Furthermore, he's managed to hide the fact that he's actually the Mirror Universe version of Lorca, having replaced his counterpart around the time the Buran was destroyed, without anyone suspecting any problems except for Admiral Cornwell.
  • Mask of Sanity: He's deeply traumatized from the destruction of the Buran, and is prone to violent outbursts if he's reminded of it. However, Lorca is manipulative enough to hide this from all of the psychological evaluations Starfleet put him through to determine whether he was fit to captain Discovery. This in turn is another mask to conceal his background and training as a Terran Imperial Fleet officer from the Mirror Universe.
  • Military Maverick: When Admiral Cornwell states that his decision to use Burnham is damaging to fleet morale, he bristles and responds that he was given the latitude to fight the war however he best saw fit.
    "My ship, my way."
  • Nerves of Steel: Doesn't even flinch when the giant tardigrade comes crashing into a forcefield mere inches from his face. Saru notes that the captain is not afraid of the things that scare most people.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Not for Mirror!Lorca, but for his prime counterpart - Vice Admiral Katrina Cornwell presumes Prime!Lorca dead after assuming that no prime universe resident could survive alone in the Mirror Universe, using almost exactly these words. This, of course, raised to a virtual certainty the chances that we will see Prime!Lorca alive and well at some point in the show, particularly if he's even half as resourceful as his Mirror Universe counterpart. Expanded Universe material has evidently revealed that Prime!Lorca remains alive.
  • Pillow Pistol: He sleeps with a phaser under his pillow. Admiral Cornwell considers it not a sign of preparedness, but of paranoia, and together with the way he assaults her when she touches him in his sleep, it convinces her that he should be relieved of his command. After The Reveal, it's implied that the reason he does this is because every Terran officer has to be constantly on guard for any underling attempting a Klingon Promotion.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Despite being a vehement xenophobe, he is able to work with a crew that has several aliens, including one serving as his first officer, without once betraying his feelings.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Keeps a pet tribble in his ready room.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Averted. Even after everything he went through, he maintains Nerves of Steel. Subverted when his Mask of Sanity is revealed, and Double Subverted when we learn he is a Mirror Universe denizen, where Terrans are known to be paranoid to a fault.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Considers the Federation to be a failed social experiment because, in his mind, no society that tolerates diversity and freedom can truly thrive. He holds this mentality because he grew up in the Terran Empire, a fascist dictatorship.
  • Sole Survivor: Of the Buran, his former command. He tells Tyler that he destroyed the ship to spare them capture and torture by the Klingons. Averted in the Mirror Universe, where his entire crew was captured and held prisoner on the I.S.S. Charon.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Jason Isaacs uses a mild Southern accent to portray Lorca.
  • The Starscream: He was a right-hand man to Emperor Georgiou and was given her foster daughter, Mirror Burnham, to mentor. Their relationship turned romantic and he attempted a Military Coup over Georgiou's policies toward aliens, which Lorca felt weren't xenophobic enough.
  • The Strategist: Brilliant military tactician tasked with weaponizing the science vessel he was assigned to captain. When the unique propulsion system is finally fully functional, he pulls off a string of impressive rescues and victories in battle. He is also using the ship as part of his own personal long con to go home to the Mirror Universe and overthrow the Emperor.
  • Tranquil Fury: Of a sort. He takes eyedrops to relieve his photosensitivity just before ordering and observing the destruction of the Klingons' Ship of the Dead with General Kol aboard.
  • Walking Spoiler: Probably the Most Triumphant Example in Star Trek to date, as for much of the first season, he impersonated his Prime Universe counterpart while commanding the U.S.S. Discovery.
  • Wall of Weapons: His private laboratory aboard Discovery has a large collection of Klingon and other alien weapons hanging on walls or sitting on examination tables. Harry Mudd decides to test some (or possibly all) of these on him during "Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad", with at least one being instantly fatal via disintegration.
  • We Have Reserves: Has absolutely no qualms with sacrificing his subordinates in the name of victory.
  • Weakened by the Light: See Weaksauce Weakness below.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: He suffered eye damage that makes him extremely photosensitive, and any sudden bright light is both painful and debilitating. It's a lie; the reason he is photosensitive is because he's from the Mirror Universe, where Terrans are naturally more sensitive to light than Prime Universe humans.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lorca is willing to bend and break Starfleet regulations if it means winning the war against the Klingons. And that includes giving Burnham a position on his ship without the knowledge or approval of the brass, or bringing a dangerous creature onto his ship without telling the crew.
  • Wife Husbandry: According to Emperor Georgiou, he initially was a father figure to Mirror-Burnham until their relationship developed into a romantic one.
  • You Did the Right Thing: Tells Burnham that she made the correct decision in mutinying at the Battle of the Binary Stars, even at significant cost to herself.

    Commander Saru 

Commander Saru

Played by: Doug Jones

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/std_saru.jpg
"My people were biologically determined for one purpose, and one purpose alone: to sense the coming of death. I sense it coming now."

A science officer and the first Kelpien in Starfleet, he serves aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou and later as the first officer of the U.S.S. Discovery.

  • The Ace: Subverted. He's far faster, stronger and more agile than a human, apparently also more intelligent (being able to think on his feet and learning dozens of different languages) and has a sixth sense for danger - yet his evolutionary ingrained baseline fear that is active at all times has rendered him quite neurotic. Still, his sheer capability makes one wonder how the predators of his world must be if this species was at the bottom of the food chain. When his ganglia fall out, he loses that constant fear and suddenly becomes aware of just how powerful he really is.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's lanky, usually advocates avoiding fights, and freely admits that his race sits at the bottom of the food chain. However, his Required Secondary Powers include being cunning enough to anticipate and quickly understand enemy tactics, being fast enough to run any other member of the crew down, and more than strong enough to throw individuals around and crush objects with his bare hands. To survive as prey on his homeworld, his people Had To Be Sharp.
  • Badass Pacifist: Joined Starfleet for the exploration, not the potential for space battle. That said, once they find themselves at war with the Klingons, Saru is shown to be cool-headed and quick-thinking, even getting promoted.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Saru's ganglia can sense deadly threats but it appears they also are responsible for instilling the perpetual fear Kelpians feel. When his fall out, Saru doesn't feel constantly afraid for the first time and realizes just how powerful he actually is.
  • Brutal Honesty: When Burnham tries to apologize for her mutiny, Saru makes it very clear to her that while he understand why she betrayed Captain Georgiou, and believes that she feels remorse for what happened, he now considers her a threat and will be keeping a close eye on her.
  • The Captain: Following the reveal of Lorca's treachery, Saru steps up and takes command of Discovery until the crisis is over. The crew readily accepts his leadership.
  • Cowardly Lion: Despite always being the first to advocate for a graceful retreat, Saru is an extremely competent officer and, given that he's both fast and tough, fully capable of holding his own in a fight. He'd simply prefer never to have to.
  • Cunning Linguist: Has learned 90 languages to prepare for his starfleet duties.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Is unhappy about how Lorca often keeps him in the dark and refuses to consult him for advice.
  • The Eeyore: Is incredibly cautious and pessimistic, although he also has shades of The Comically Serious.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "Choose Your Pain" reveals how his lingering hostility to Michael is because her actions at the Battle of the Binary Stars deprived him of the opportunity to eventually follow in Burnham's footsteps and learn from Georgiou as her first officer.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Even though he is Lorca's first officer, he is still kept in the dark about some of the secret projects ongoing aboard the ship. This may be foreshadowing of Lorca's mirrorverse bigotry.
  • Lovable Coward: Despite his pessimism and paranoia, he is generally a thoroughly Nice Guy, and often downright witty when he chooses to be.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: His species can can sense the approach of death, signified by ganglia emerging from the back of their heads, though he can't give any specific details.
    • Inverted in one episode, where his Rousing Speech to the crew is that they're about to go into battle against impossible odds and he doesn't sense approaching death, meaning they're gonna win.
    • In "An Obol for Charon" his ganglia fall out, and for the first time in his life he doesn't feel fear all the time.
  • Number Two: He's Discovery's first officer until Lorca reveals his true Mirror Universe colours, whereupon he becomes The Captain (if temporarily).
  • One Head Taller: And then some; if Saru is typical, Kelpiens are considerably taller than humans of either sex. Thanks to episodes in the Mirror Universe as well as the short episode "The Brightest Star", we see that this is fairly typical for his species.
  • Planet of Hats: His aforementioned sixth sense stems from his race's status on his homeworld; they are a "prey species" that has been hunted nearly to extinction, and have evolved the ability to sense the approach of death as a defense mechanism. This is something of a subversion of the trope, as the predator species is also from his homeworld.
  • Rank Up:
    • He is promoted from lieutenant-commander to full commander during the Time Skip after the pilot episode, presumably just prior to becoming the first officer aboard Discovery.
    • He gets a de facto field promotion to become The Captain of Discovery once Lorca is revealed to be an imposter from the Mirror Universe.
  • Science Hero: Aboard the Shenzhou, he was the ship's science officer, and still tends to have plenty of involvement with scientific operations as first officer aboard Discovery.
  • Sour Supporter: He dislikes Lorca for his warmongering tendencies, but he still serves him as a faithful first officer.
  • The Spock: Generally behaves in a calm and logical manner. He isn't as emotionless as Spock's demeanor, though, he's just reserved — he can crack dry jokes, he is troubled by his conflicted relationship with Burnham, etc.
  • Super Speed: He can sprint up to 80 kmh (faster than an ostrich, but slower than a cheetah).
  • Super Strength: He can crush Starfleet communicators bare-handed and overpower humans with ease.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The short episode "The Brightest Star" reveals that the Kelpien civilization on Kaminar is still at a pre-warp stage, and when Saru accepts then-Lieutenant Georgiou's offer to leave, Federation laws dictate that Saru can never return to his family.

    Commander Michael Burnham 

Commander Michael Burnham

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/burnham_michael.jpg
"All life is born from chaos. The world doesn't always adhere to logic. Sometimes down is up, and sometimes when you're lost, you're found."

The lead protagonist of Star Trek: Discovery, she was raised on Vulcan and was the first human to attend the Vulcan Science Academy. By the start of the series, she is the first officer aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou, although she ends up being recruited by Captain Lorca aboard the U.S.S. Discovery after the events of the two-part pilot. She is eventually made a bridge science officer, and ship's science officer and Commander again.

  • Action Girl: She's more of a Science Hero, but nonetheless she is trained in Vulcan martial arts, knows how to use a phaser, can fight a Klingon in melee combat, and regularly gets herself into (and out of) plenty of dangerous situations as the series' lead.
  • Anti-Hero: At least initially, she is fairly aggressive for a Starfleet officer.
  • The Atoner:
    • It appears that her service aboard Discovery will be her way of redeeming herself after her actions aboard the Shenzhou at the start of the series. She succeeds.
    • Also subverted in "Context is for Kings", where Burnham tries to refuse a chance to redeem herself because she feels that what she has done cannot be atoned for. She only seeks the punishment she feels she deserves, until Lorca appeals to her sense of wonder and duty.
  • The Cassandra: A great deal of the conflict in the show can be boiled down to “Burnham was right, but nobody listened.”
  • Combat Pragmatist: When fighting Voq and gradually getting overpowered, Burnham goes for his eyes. She's also proven herself willing and able to shoot first when she feels it necessary.
  • Commander Contrarian: Even though Captain Georgiou is her commanding officer and something of a mentor to her, she advocates tactics that are rather strident and aggressive in contrast to her captain's more cautious approach.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Downplayed. When she comes on-board Discovery, she is withdrawn from everyone except Saru, not wishing to make any sort of connection since she thinks she won't be staying. When she realises Lorca intends to keep her on, she opens up a bit, but it's still obvious she had a Vulcan upbringing.
  • Dramatic Irony: She utterly hates the Klingon and the guy she's in love with is actually Klingon himself.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: In the first episode, everyone dismisses her opinions about the Klingons' aggression because of her perceived prejudice against them — and then trying to mutiny against her captain doesn't make things any better.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: When she is the first officer on the Shenzhou, Burnham has short, straight-styled hair. When she's a prisoner, she has a very unkempt afro. When she begins working aboard Discovery, she still has curly hair but it's now styled.
  • Famed In-Story: As a result of the actions resulting in her court martial, Burnham is widely known as the mutineer held responsible for starting the war with the Klingons and because she's apparently the first mutineer Starfleet ever had. In-universe, however, no one seems to care that T'Kuvma's Klingons were deliberately trying to start a war, and nothing Burnham could have done would have prevented that, even if killing T'Kuvma only made the situation worse by turning him into a martyr.
  • Fatal Flaw: Klingons. Having been orphaned by a Kingon attack on her home colony, she will do anything to stop them. In the pilot, she perpetrates a mutiny against her own captain because she feels she's right in how to deal with them, and is imprisoned because of it.
    • Her ruthlessness is also a serious problem for her, leading to things like the aforementioned mutiny or abusing Saru's trust in "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry".
  • Gender-Blender Name: Her name is "Michael", which can be a feminine name depending on culture, although Tilly notes she's never heard of another female with it.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Though she is the protagonist, she is rather hawkish and aggressive for a Starfleet officer, at least among those seen in Star Trek to date.
  • Guile Hero: Successfully cons Harry Mudd by manipulating his greed and his ego.
  • Happily Adopted: More or less, although Sarek comments that she cannot learn Vulcan due to being "too human". He later laments that he never encouraged her enough — though given his track record with Spock, that appears to be a habit with him, as Vulcans don't believe in excessive praise. She got along well with Sarek's human wife, Amanda. We learn in the second season that she even got along well with Spock, until she did something to sabotage their familial relationship, in hopes of protecting Spock from the Logic Extremists.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: How Captain Georgiou thought of her, as the captain states in her pre-recorded will.
  • Military Maverick: Goes with being a Commander Contrarian. Uniquely for a Star Trek show, however this attitude has serious consequences as opposed to the light slap of the wrist it usually warrants (or approval from the brass) in previous incarnations. She's court-martialed and sent to prison for life as a result of her attempted mutiny.
  • Morality Pet: To a whopping 3 people.
    • To Ash Tyler AKA Voq, who basically pulls a Heel–Face Turn for her.
    • To Gabriel Lorca, who is willing to kill pretty much everybody on his way to the Terran throne, except for her.
    • To Emperor Philipa Georgiou, who is completely fine with being hunted down by Starfleet and the Klingon, till the end of her days, but can't bring herself to kill Michael.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe, her attempted mutiny, especially since it's the first time that it has ever happened in Starfleet history.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Does not hold any positive opinions of the Klingons, due to losing her parents in an attack on a Human/Vulcan outpost when she was a child.
  • No Social Skills: Thanks to her Vulcan upbringing, she has trouble making friends and finds socializing to be quite puzzling.
  • Number Two: The first Trek series protagonist to be this instead of The Captainnote . Initially, she is the first officer to Captain Georgiou aboard the Shenzhou, before being stripped of rank and recruited by Captain Lorca aboard Discovery.
  • Parental Substitute: Sarek and Amanda Grayson are this to her, after she was orphaned as a child in a Klingon attack.
  • Properly Paranoid: She's absolutely convinced the Klingons are not there for peaceful purposes when they come out of nearly a century of isolation — and is proven right.
  • Rank Up: Inverted. For her actions aboard the Shenzhou in the pilot episode, she is court-martialed, stripped of her rank, and sentenced to imprisonment for life.
    • For her actions aboard Discovery in saving the ship and crew multiple times, not to mention the entire Federation, she's given a Presidential pardon, her record is expunged, and her rank reinstated.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Lorca tries to get her to stay in the Mirror Universe and rule at his side as he was honestly in love with her Mirror counterpart, and has a great deal of respect for her, saying that Burnham is better than Mirror!Burnham was.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Michael is Spock's never-before-referred-to foster sister. Of course, Spock never mentioned his half-brother Sybok until he showed up in the flesh, so it's not out of character. Similar to Sybok, a Vulcan that deviated wildly from Vulcan culture, Burnham's reputation as Starfleet's first mutineer would make him that much less likely to bring her up in conversation, not to mention that they did not have a positive relationship growing up together.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: She is correct that the Klingons are going to attack, but it's mainly because her bias is guiding her thought process than any reasonable logic; best shown when she's trying to persuade her captain to give the Klingons a "Vulcan hello" to scare them off convinced it'll mean peace, when it reality the Klingons want a war with with Starfleet to bring back the glory of the Empire. And it doesn't matter to them who fires first.
  • Science Hero: Attended the Vulcan Science Academy and entered Starfleet to serve as a xenoanthropologist, before working her way up to a command position. After she is reinstated she accepts a position as Discovery's Science Officer.

    Commander Ellen Landry 

Commander Ellen Landry

Played by: Rekha Sharma

The first chief security officer aboard the U.S.S. Discovery.

  • Action Girl: Comes with the territory of being the security officer.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: She is the chief security officer, and also holds a relatively high rank among the crew.
  • Dead Star Walking: Rekha Sharma has been in quite a few sci-fi series, but only lasts two episodes. And unfortunately, her character does not get the benefit of Cylon resurrection in Star Trek.
  • Fantastic Racism: Makes several comments disparaging Burnham's Vulcan upbringing, and then there's how she disparages one large-scale tardigrade, which itself is quite possibly more intelligent (in its own way) than many of the crew and the main computer put together. This attitude ends up being a subtle foreshadowing flag pointing at Lorca's origins — since of course this version of Lorca, being a Terran Empire officer in disguise, would be far more comfortable with her general belligerence and bigotry than most captains.
  • Foreshadowing: Her own Fantastic Racism is an early mirror for Captain Lorca's own Terran Empire bigotry—as is her closeness to him for her mirror counterpart's also being an ally of his.
  • Jerkass: Rather harsh towards most people, Burnham in particular, and she shares Captain Lorca's warlike attitudes to a large degree.
  • Mauve Shirt: Is treated like one of the main cast, but she gets killed partway through her second episode.
  • Secret Keeper: Is aware of her captain's pet projects, and facilitates his work. It raises the question as to when, exactly, she first entered Lorca's confidence, and just how much she knew or didn't know about his true origins in the Mirror Universe, though she is definitely not from the Mirror Universe herself.
  • Too Dumb to Live: She decides to let Ripper, the giant tardigrade, out of its containment field so she can cut off its claws to study, blithely ignoring Burnham's warnings that the sedative Landry used on Ripper might not work. And this is after Landry witnessed first-hand what the creature did to a squad of Klingons. Unsurprisingly, Ripper proceeds to maul Landry to death.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: She is notably more hardnosed, rough around the edges, and, not least, gun-toting than both Michael and Tilly, who are more level-headed, calmer, and science-focused. She only lasts a few episodes.
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: She dubs the tardigrade "Ripper". Guess what it fatally does to her not too long afterwards?
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    Lieutenant-Commander Paul Stamets 

Lieutenant-Commander Paul Stamets

Played by: Anthony Rapp

An astromycologist and science officer aboard the U.S.S. Discovery, who by extension serves as the ship's chief engineer.

  • Adorkable: His outright awe (and naked jealousy) at Ripper being able to communicate in several ways with his beloved intergalactic mycelial network is definitely this.
  • Ambiguous Situation: In "Into the Forest I Go", Stamets's overuse of the spore drive causes his body to become non-responsive (and his eyes to turn an icy blue) after accidentally sending Discovery into an unknown region of space, which turns out to be the Mirror Universe. Ultimately, he isn't dead, but he's left temporarily both blinded and delirious.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Injected himself with an experimental tardigrade gene therapy method to allow himself to act as a Wetware CPU for the spore drive in Ripper's absence. The space-time side effects on his physiology grant him Ripple Effect-Proof Memory, among other things, which he uses to great effect in "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad". On the other hand, it leaves his mind open to being influenced by his Evil Counterpart in the Mirror Universe through the mycelial network.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Getting to know him is a lot of work thanks to all those insufferable walls he throws up. Michael manages to defrost him with a mix of being damn good at her job and sharing his drive to figure out puzzles and mysteries.
  • The Engineer: Mainly by title, as the "spore drive" that he helped develop is the revolutionary propulsion system at the heart of Discovery, so he is assigned as the ship's chief engineer in addition to being a science officer.
  • Insufferable Genius: His first words to Burnham are "Who are you?" and demanding to know who assigned her to him, as "I give the assignments around here!" He soon ends up as a Defrosting Ice Queen.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stamets is caustic, but he does care deeply about others and it's implied that he would be a more pleasant person if Starfleet wasn't trying to co-opt his life's work for war. He's the first person that rather openly tells Burnham that Lorca is a "war monger", when others like Saru tried to shy around the topic. And though he's initially impatient with Tilly, by the second season he considers her a friend and goes to great lengths to help her when "May" takes over.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: How most of his interactions with Dr. Culber go, especially since "Choose Your Pain" revealed they were already a couple before they were individually introduced on-screen.
  • The Lost Lenore: Culber becomes this for Stamets, prompting Stamets to make plans for leaving Starfleet after the Klingon War ends.
  • Morton's Fork: His own actions with the spore drive cause one that rivals the Sword of Damocles. Either he confesses to his boyfriend, Dr. Culber, straining their relationship and putting Culber's career in jeopardy — or he doesn't, and he's forced to continually lie to Culber to maintain the facade of normalcy. He ends up trying to Take a Third Option by co-opting Cadet Tilly to help him deal with the side effects, but this only puts her career in jeopardy as she tries to aid him as best she can while keeping Stamets' genetic self-modification a secret. This ends up falling apart when the genetic modifications, or at least the side effects, are discovered in "Into The Forest I Go". Stamets still agrees to make a series of micro-jumps to help expose the Klingon flagship's cloak, followed by one more to get Discovery back to a starbase — which ends up Tempting Fate one time too many, landing Stamets in a Heroic RRoD and landing Discovery in the Mirror Universe.
  • The Navigator: Essentially becomes this after using the tardigrade DNA to be able to interface with the Spore Drive.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Necessary, given the way his "spore drive" links fungal mycelia with interstellar travel.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: He injects himself with tardigrade DNA to serve as a replacement for Ripper. It works, but leaves him with some side effects including growing dissociation with normal space-time — not to mention violating the Federation's laws on eugenics and bioaugmentation.
  • Reluctant Warrior: At best, he barely tolerates the fact that he and his research have been dragged into a war. He would rather be back in his nice little laboratory than serving aboard a Starfleet vessel. It's not simply for his own comfort, though: he has deep-seated moral reservations about his research being used for military applications, when he was investigating it purely for the pursuit of knowledge and out of awe at the natural world.
  • Retirony:
    • After Kol's death, Stamets decides to leave Starfleet so he can find a cure for whatever the tardigrade DNA has been doing to him and so he can spend more time with Culber. However, Stamets decides to do one last jump to get Discovery back safely to Federation space and that one jump sends the ship to the Mirror Universe and leaves Stamets catatonic.
    • By the second season, Stamets is still so broken up over Culber's death that he plans to leave Starfleet for a position at the Vulcan Science Academy — but the urgent mission to investigate the "red bursts" under Captain Pike causes those plans to be put on hold.
  • Straight Gay: He's gay but not flamboyant. This makes him the first original characternote  in Star Trek who is explicitly gay.note 
  • Science Hero: Specializes in astromycology, or the study of fungi in space.
  • The Stoner: After the first time he jacks himself into the spore drive, he starts acting like one might expect of someone who's exposing himself to magic mushrooms.
  • Time Dissonance: After his Bio-Augmentation, he has a little trouble keeping himself focused within space-time. Taken Up to Eleven after his ill-fated final jump in "Into the Forest I Go", which leaves him catatonic in a Heroic RRoD.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: What motivates him to unravel the mysteries of the "mycelial network" that spans the cosmos.

    Doctor Hugh Culber 

Doctor (Lieutenant-Commander) Hugh Culber

Played by: Wilson Cruz

A medical officer aboard the U.S.S. Discovery.

  • Back from the Dead: When Stamets kissed Culber's corpse while trapped in the mycellial network, he inadvertantly pulled Culber's consciousness into the network. After Stamets discovers this, he convinces May to use her transport cocoon to fashion a new body for Culber to inhabit, effectively resurrecting him.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: More subtle than most, but his snarking at Stamets is very clearly this. Subverted when it's made clear they are in fact a couple.
  • Bury Your Gays: Subverted. Tyler/Voq kills him, but Stamets later manages to rescurrect him.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Culber is the only character who doesn't compromise his morals over the course of the series. Stated by the producers as the reason why a Mirror!Culber didn't appear. They didn't want to tarnish that by having a having an evil version.
  • The Lost Lenore: To Stamets, which weighs heavily on Stamets even into the second season.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Until "Despite Yourself," Culber seems to be staffing sickbay all by himself; there are only a couple of other whiteshirts and even they rarely appear in the scenes he's in. After that episode we meet the actual CMO and her staff.
  • The Medic: Aboard Discovery, but not the Chief Medical Officer.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: His attempts to defend himself from May's people nearly cause their extinction.
  • Neck Snap: Voq takes over from Tyler and breaks Culber's neck when Culber decides to relieve Tyler for duty until he can get to the bottom of whatever is wrong with Tyler's memories.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: After being a recurring actor in Season 1, Wilson Cruz becomes a regular and part of the main titles in Season 2 — ironically, while his character is apparently still dead.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: When Tilly apologizes for Stamets' condition, Culber says that it's not her fault—she was put into an impossible situation by her superiors.
  • Straight Gay: He's in a relationship with Stamets.

    Lieutenant-Commander Airiam 

Lieutenant-Commander Airiam

Played by: Sara Mitich (Season 1), Hannah Cheesman (Season 2)

The spore drive operations officer aboard Discovery and a cybernetically augmented crewmember.

  • Bit Character: Frequently visible, but has not been integral to any episode's plot to date.
  • Commanding Coolness: Between her stated rank, and being the most emotionless visible bridge officer aboard Discovery.
  • The Other Darrin: The role of Airiam switched from Sara Mitich to Hannah Cheesman between the first and second seasons.
  • Robot Girl: Certainly robotic and appears to present as female.
  • The Un-Reveal: In a bit of a Riddle for the Ages, her background has been variously described as a "synthetic-human hybrid", an "augmented alien", or an "augmented human", but has never been confirmed on-screen.

    Lieutenant Ash Tyler 

Lieutenant Ash Tyler

Played by: Shazad Latif

The second chief of security aboard the U.S.S. Discovery, and formerly a prisoner of war of the Klingons. He eventually turns out to be Voq, who had been subjected to extreme surgery to appear human, and turned into a sleeper agent with a copy of the original Ash Tyler's personality superimposed on his own. The procedure didn't quite take and the resulting conflict between the two identities threatened Tyler's life, until his Klingon handler, L'Rell, subdued Voq's personality for good. The resulting person is now a mix of both Ash Tyler's and Voq's memories and experiences and Tyler's personality.

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Ends up alienated from the rest of the crew once his takeover by Voq comes to light. Thanks to Tilly, it doesn't last very long, although Stamets still feels It's Personal due to Dr. Culber's murder.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Even if you consider the surely extensive progress medicine has made in the 23rd century, what Tyler/Voq has gone through certainly dwarfs this — it's not just merely surgical alteration of his appearance (like that of Arne Darvin in TOS), but basically reshaping him into a human down to his bones and organs. It's incredible that his physiology was able to take all this and survive.
  • Becoming the Mask: Played with. It's not that Voq likes humans or actually wants to be one — only his cover personality became so convinced he was still real that he proved impossible to suppress, leading the personalities to clash violently and harming themselves. L'Rell puts an end to it by erasing Voq, leaving Tyler in control with access to both Voq's and Ash Tyler's memories.
  • Body Horror: The surgery done to Voq to turn him into Ash Tyler was apparently so extensive and painful, it led to Ash remembering it as torture and developing PTSD-like symptoms from it.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • When asked by Lorca about his family, Tyler mentions that he never knew his father, with his mother claiming he "didn't miss much there." Meanwhile, Voq doesn't seem to have known his family at all, calling himself "Son of None".
    • In Season 2, Tyler almost averts becoming this himself, by promising to stay with L'Rell and be a father to her and Voq's infant son, though they ultimately decide to give the child away to protect him from L'Rell's opponents.
  • Face–Heel Revolving Door: Goes back and forth due to some conflicting issues. After his memories of being Voq start to resurface, he kills Culber, regains his dedication to T'Kuvma's xenophobic ideals, and attempts to kill Michael. However, his brain and neural system start to fail as a result of the clashing human and Klingon consciousnesses, so L'Rell makes the decision to give Voq a Mercy Kill, leaving Tyler with control once more. After this point, he takes no more villainous actions, although he is still wracked by guilt over what "he" did under Voq's influence.
  • Fake Memories: His memories of his time as a prisoner of war are all faked to give him cover as a Manchurian Agent.
  • Give Him a Normal Life: At least with regards to L'Rell and Voq's child — or as normal as a life being raised by monks and never knowing your parents can be, anyway. L'Rell and Tyler both decide that this is the best for their son, after it becomes clear how much his mother's status puts him in danger, and put him with a group of reclusive monks on Boreth to be raised in ignorance of his lineage.
  • Grand Theft Me: Tyler fully believes that he really is Ash Tyler, so from his perspective, Voq was forcibly taking over his body to undermine the Federation.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Agrees to accompany L'Rell to help her unify the Klingons and keep the peace with the Federation, even though it means living among people who despise him for looking and being part-Human.
    • When he finds out that L'Rell and Voq had a son, he promises to stay by L'Rell's side as her companion and be a father to the child, even though he can't bear her touching him due to his confused memories. Luckily for him, Mirror-Georgiou finds a better solution for everyone involved.
  • Human Resources: His original human body was vivisected and dismantled to provide Voq with substitute organs, tissue and neural patterns.
  • Love Interest: To Burnham. The two of them clearly have feelings for one another and they have sex later in the first season.
  • Manchurian Agent: "Ash Tyler" is Voq, who has been transformed into a Klingon sleeper who can be awakened if L'Rell utters a code phrase, although something went wrong and the code phrase doesn't work as completely as it should. Encountering Voq's mirror counterpart fully awakens Voq.
  • Mr. Fanservice: In the Mirror Universe, while posing as Burnham's guard, he gets a fair amount of time being scantily-clad in their quarters.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When he realizes that he killed Culber under Voq's influence, he is horrified.
  • Posthumous Character: The original Ash Tyler more than likely is long dead before the copy of Ash Tyler ever appears on the series. Even after the truth comes to light, his crewmembers act like That Man Is Dead and the "new" Ash Tyler is a distinct person (which is basically true).
  • The Power of Love: It's pretty heavily implied that L'Rell's trigger phrase to re-activate Voq didn't quite take because Ash genuinely fell in love with Michael Burnham.
  • Rape as Backstory: As Tyler, he believed L'Rell spared him from beatings in return for sexual favors. While he's seemingly fine with it when he first tells Lorca about it in "Choose Your Pain", he reacts to meeting L'Rell during their flight by beating her up in a rage, and is thrown into a Heroic BSoD suffering a traumatic flashback when meeting her again a few episodes later. With the reveal that Tyler really is Voq and was given faked memories to make him believe he had always been Ash Tyler, it is implied that he interpreted Voq's memories of a consensual relationship as a forced one. This is later reinforced when he rejects L'Rell in Season 2 by stating that being touched by her seems like a violation to him, causing her to back off at once in horror.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: He's a former prisoner of war who is traumatized by his experiences. He tends to present a composed facade, but seeing L'Rell causes his PTSD to relapse at the worst possible moment. Later inverted when it turns out that his PTSD is from emerging memories of Voq's horrific surgery, instead of trauma he endured as a prisoner of war.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Voq eventually pulls this on Tyler to advance his own plans and infiltrate Starfleet. It's a variation on the usual trope, in that Tyler is just a copy of his original self's personality overlain onto Voq's body, which has been Stripped to the Bone and rebuilt with Tyler's original human organs and tissue in an extreme surgical technique.
  • That Man Is Dead: When L'Rell removes Voq's personality allowing Tyler to take control again, Tyler is considered by everyone, including himself, to be someone new due to having the original Ash Tyler's personality and memories combined with Voq's memories. No one is sure who or what he will turn out to be.
  • Token Good Teammate: He becomes a member of Section 31 between "Point of Light" and "Saints of Imperfection" and appears genuinely convinced that they're good people - despite someone like Ex-Emperor Georgiou working for them.
  • Walking Spoiler: He's not the original Ash Tyler, since Voq assumed his identity and appearance in order to infiltrate Starfleet and the Federation. Meanwhile, the original Ash Tyler is actually dead, if the amount of Organ Theft needed to complete Voq's surgical alterations is any indication.
    • Furthered when L'Rell essentially allows Ash Tyler's personality to take control after the conflict between the two personalities causes serious problems to Voq/Tyler. In a sense, although the original Tyler is in all likelihood technically dead, he metaphorically lives on in Voq's modified body. It remains to be seen how this plays out.

    Lieutenant Keyla Detmer 

Lieutenant Keyla Detmer

Played by: Emily Coutts

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/keyla_detmer_before.jpg
Before the Battle of the Binary Stars
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/keyla_detmer_post_battle.jpg
After

Formerly the helm officer of the U.S.S. Shenzhou who, like Saru, was re-assigned to the U.S.S. Discovery.

  • Ace Pilot: Par for the course among federation helmsmen like Sulu and Paris. When Discovery screws up a jump and ends up in the gravity well of a star, she gets them out. She also mentions in "New Eden" that she got her pilot's license when she was twelve years old.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Agrees to Tilly's plan in "New Eden" when she realizes that she essentially gets to pull donuts — in a starship.
  • Back from the Dead: Badly injured during the Battle at the Binary Stars, Burnham apparently assumed she had died and was startled to encounter her serving on Discovery.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Zig-zagged. The Battle of the Binary Stars left her with injuries requiring a cranial implant. The hair on the left side of her head is shaved off around it, leaving visible surgical scars where they put the implant in, and she's missing her left eyebrow. If you look closely, she also lost her left eye and needed it replaced with a prosthetic; prior to the battle both of her eyes were green, but now her left eye is a mismatched, artificial-looking blue. That said, even with the implant, she is still attractive.
  • Funny Background Event: She and an unknown male crewmember are busily making out during the party at the start of "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" (and every subsequent time loop).
  • Mythology Gag: Her cranial implant gives her more than a little resemblance to Annika "Seven of Nine" Hansen.
  • Rank Up: She was a lieutenant junior-grade aboard the Shenzhou, but six months later aboard Discovery, she is now a full lieutenant.
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    Lieutenant Gen Rhys 

Lieutenant Gen Rhys

Played by: Patrick Kwok-Choon

The tactical officer aboard Discovery after the loss of Commander Landry and through the end of the Klingon War.

  • Bit Character: He's mainly on-screen to be another officer on the bridge.
  • Bridge Bunny: A male example; he is Discovery's tactical officer.
  • Graceful Loser: Doesn't take it badly when Tilly rejects his advances at the party in "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad".
  • Token Minority: The only visible Asian bridge officer.

    Lieutenant junior grade Joann Owosekun 

Lieutenant junior grade Joann Owosekun

Played by: Oyin Oladejo

The operations officer aboard Discovery.

  • A Day in the Limelight: "New Eden". She accompanies the landing party on Terralysium,the audience finds out more about her backstory, and she's the one who comes up with the way of escaping the basement they're locked in, not the uber-competent Burnham or experienced Pike.
  • Bit Character: In season one, she's mainly been on-screen to be another officer on the bridge. She gets fleshed out more starting with Season 2.
  • Bridge Bunny: A female example; she is Discovery's operations officer.
  • In-Series Nickname: Gets referred to as "Owo" by several of her crewmates in season 2.
  • Nerves of Steel: Alongside Detmer, she has to help Pike, Burnham and Nhan navigate an Asteroid Thicket at high speed in "Brother".

    Lieutenant junior grade R.A. Bryce 

Lieutenant junior grade Ronald Altman "R.A." Bryce

Played by: Ronnie Rowe Jr.

The communications officer aboard Discovery.

  • Ace Pilot: To some extent. He piloted the shuttlecraft carrying Burnham, Landry, Stamets, Tilly and a Red Shirt to the U.S.S. Glenn in "Context Is For Kings".
  • Bit Character: He's mainly on-screen to be another officer on the bridge. In "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad", Harry Mudd lampshades this by disparagingly calling him "random communications officer man".
  • Bridge Bunny: A male example; he is Discovery's communications officer.
  • Communications Officer: The main one on the bridge.
  • Token Minority: The only visible black male bridge officer.

    Lieutenant junior grade Linus 

Lieutenant junior grade Linus

Played by: David Benjamin Tomlinson

A Saurian science officer aboard Discovery.

  • Lizard Folk: He is a Saurian, after all.
  • Reality Ensues: Has a respiratory illness in the second season premiere; after all, even Enterprise showed that colds can occur on a sealed environment like a starship.
  • Starfish Language: His species communicate through clicks and other throat noises that even the universal translator has trouble parsing at times.

    Doctor Tracy Pollard 

Doctor (Lieutenant junior grade) Tracy Pollard

Played by: Raven Dauda

A physician aboard Discovery.

  • After-Action Patch-Up:
    • Averted with Stamets, whose case gets reassigned to her from Dr. Culber after Stamets falls into a catatonic state in the first season. Stamets ends up needing more radical treatment.
    • In "Brother", she gets Burnham back on her feet in a matter of hours after Burnham takes a jagged piece of red-hot metal through her leg while escaping from the wreck of the Hiawatha.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She has ample opportunity to use this skill, given how often officers end up in the sickbay due to their own actions.
  • The Medic: The most frequently seen doctor on the ship, at least after Culber is killed. It is unclear whether or not she is the Chief Medical Officer.
  • The Perfectionist: Burnham notes in "Brother" that Pollard is "the definition of meticulous".

    Ensign Silvia Tilly 

Ensign Silvia Tilly

Played by: Mary Wiseman

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tilly.jpg
"You guys, this is so fucking cool!"

The resident Ensign Newbie of the U.S.S. Discovery. In the first season, she was still a cadet in her final year at Starfleet Academy.

  • Adorkable: So much. She squee-geeks by hopping up and down.
  • Big Sister Mentor: She's roommates with Burnham, who develops this kind of relationship with her.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She has all the personality quirks mentioned in this section, but also was brilliant enough to be fast tracked through Starfleet Academy, and is (or at least thinks she is) "the best theoretical engineer on the ship".
  • Character Development: In the third episode, she tries to keep Michael away from her, afraid that others will judge if they think Silvia is friends with the mutineer. In the penultimate episode, she conspicuously changes seats to eat with Tyler in the mess hall, inspiring others to do the same.
  • Compressed Hair: On-duty she wears her hair in very severe bun. Off-duty, she looks more like Merida from Brave.
  • Ensign Newbie: The most naive member of the cast, although it takes her a season to Rank Up to become an actual ensign.
  • Future Badass: Subverted. It was originally assumed that Lt. Stamets got Unstuck in Time as a result of his integration into the spore drive, and at one point asks why The Captain is there, when it's still just Cadet Tilly. He seems to have actually gotten an impression from the Mirror Universe where Tilly is The Dreaded Captain.
  • Morton's Fork: Ends up with one of these courtesy of Lt. Stamets; either she could report his condition to Starfleet Command and get him into a heap of trouble, thereby setting the spore drive back for decades and undoing the whole reason for Discovery's existence — or if she doesn't, they could both get found out and end up in a heap of trouble anyways, with the addition of her own future career on the line. She could go to the ship's medical staff, but they're obligated to report Stamets' condition to Starfleet Command, with the added complication of Dr. Culber being in an active relationship with Stamets at the time. It's something an intern should never have been stuck dealing with.
  • Motor Mouth: By her own admission, she talks more when she's nervous.
  • Naïve Newcomer: She's rather excited by things that are happening compared to the other more jaded characters.
  • Precision F-Strike: She's the first character to use the word "fuck" in any Star Trek series, turning a previously fairly serious scene comical.
    "You guys, this is so fucking cool!"
  • Rank Up: She's made an ensign for her actions in the Klingon War.
  • Science Hero: She works for Lieutenant Stamets in the sciences department aboard Discovery.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Exhibit A, Tilly in her alternate universe outfit.
  • Space Cadet: On her midshipman cruise before graduating from Starfleet Academy.
  • Training from Hell: Protip for rookies: don't let anybody with Vulcan training work out how badly you want to improve in any given activity. Their idea of an itinerary hurts, especially in the beginning.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Her mother is very doubting of her abilities and compares Tilly unfavorably to her stepsister, as we see in "The Runaway."
  • The World Is Just Awesome: She may have fast-tracked her career under Stamets, as well. With the power of squee, of all things.

    The U.S.S. Discovery 

U.S.S. Discovery (NCC-1031)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/uss_discovery_ventral.jpg
"All things can be understood once they are discovered; the point is to discover them."

The titular ship and primary setting of the series. A Crossfield-class starship designed for scientific purposes, she is assigned a new mission under the command of Captain Lorca.

  • 2-D Space: Zig-zagged. At warp or impulse speeds, Discovery tends to remain on the same plane as other vessels (as is the norm for Star Trek). When using the spore drive, however, she often seems to "drop in" vertically or obliquely, which makes sense if we assume that the geometry of the mycellial network is very different from normal space.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rescues Burnham's disabled prison shuttle at the beginning of "Context is for Kings". Later uses her spore drive to break the siege of Corvan II and (unsuccessfully) defend the U.S.S. Gagarin from a Klingon fleet.
  • Brought Down to Normal: With the Klingon War over, at the start of the second season, the spore drive is being taken out of commission due to the practical, legal and ethical drawbacks on its use. Zig-zagged in short order, however, as Captain Pike orders occasional use of the spore drive to facilitate the investigation of the "red bursts", including a rapid arrival to answer a Distress Call from New Eden.
  • Cool Starship: As expected of any Star Trek vessel in a starring role.
  • Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: While Discovery's exterior wouldn't look too out of place in an episode of TOS, the interior looks even more advanced than the Enterprise-E in the late 24th century. This may be justified, since the ship is testing new technologies as part of her long-term mission.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The outer surfaces of the two rings that make up the primary hull counter-rotate whenever the ship uses its spore drive, right before the ship itself appears to spin around its longitudinal axis and vanish.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: In addition to standard warp drive, Discovery is a prototype for "displacement-activated spore hub drive", a new FTL propulsion technology that operates using the mycellium spores on an interdimensional species of fungus to make quantum jumps across the universe-wide "mycellial network".
  • Fragile Speedster: Thanks to the spore drive, Discovery is fully capable of pulling off a Gunship Rescue or a Sneak Attack virtually anywhere in Federation or Klingon territory, making for plenty of in-universe Paranoia Fuel for the Klingons. That said, such operations need to be pulled off with lightning speed and precision, since if the initial attack fails to more-or-less end the battle, then Discovery, being designed and built fundamentally as a science vessel, does not last long at all in an outright firefight. This is best demonstrated when the ship attempts to rescue the U.S.S. Gagarin from a Klingon fleet: when Discovery jumps into the battle, the Klingons simply cloak and regroup before making a coordinated counterattack that destroys the Gagarin and forces Discovery to retreat.
  • Hero Killer: Inverted, and generally in David vs. Goliath situations as well.
    • Successfully destroys the Klingons' Ship of the Dead in "Into The Forest I Go".
    • Takes down the I.S.S. Charon in "What's Past Is Prologue" by firing mycelium-spore-charged torpedoes into the Terran ship's core.
  • Hyperspeed Ambush: The spore drive allows Discovery to essentially teleport to any location, allowing them to appear anywhere undetected. This takes the Klingons completely by surprise at Corvan II, and makes Discovery critical to the war effort thereafter.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: The other thing that the spore drive is good for. Combined with the aforementioned Hyperspeed Ambush, this makes Discovery good for Hit-and-Run Tactics.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Her name is a reference to the space shuttle Discovery. Also, the entire Crossfield class is named after a test pilot named Albert Scott Crossfield, the first man to fly at Mach 2. Accordingly, Discovery's sister ship USS Glenn is named after John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Played with. Lorca certainly has many plans to convert her and the research run on her into primary weapons, but many seem to be works-in-progress, or depend on complete scientific crapshoots. Discovery is functionally the last remaining of her class (unless a U.S.S. Crossfield is out there somewhere), and duplicating her drive is not going to be easy. Hence, the ship has no physical backup in the foreseeable future, even if the data and schematics are already secure with Starfleet.
  • Organic Technology: Several characters describe the Spore Drive this way, since its basic operating mechanism involves a "network" formed by interdimensional fungal spores.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The spore drive originally needed Ripper the giant tardigrade plugged into it for long-distance jumps. Since Ripper turned out to be sentient and in obvious pain during the procedure, they found a way to use a willing Lt. Stamets instead. After the end of the war, Starfleet forbids Stamets from using himself as the navigator due to the Federation's anti-eugenics laws, so the spore drive is to remain unused until an alternative means of safely navigating the network is found.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Discovery is a science vessel, built as a testbed for various new and developing cutting-edge technologies (including black-ops experiments), and specifically built around Stamets and Straal'snote  new spore-drive. It wasn't meant to be built for some time, but after the war with the Klingons began, it was fast-tracked through construction to be finished in only a few months. The result is that much of the crew is composed of Science division personnel used to working in planet-side labs, who were fast-tracked into field work (Stamets in particular). Wanting to pursue dangerous or even aggressive black-ops military projects, however, Lorca also hand-picked more than a few crewmen from ships lost in the Klingon war, who (he hoped) wouldn't be opposed to getting payback, including Burnham, Saru and Detmer from the crew of the Shenzhou. So the crew are an odd mix of Ensign Newbie and/or Bunny-Ears Lawyer scientists on the one hand and Shell-Shocked Veteran types on the other, initially resulting in a Dysfunction Junction.
  • Science Hero: A Starfleet ship that pulls double duty as a mobile scientific research platform and a deep-space, long-range warship operating behind enemy lines, kicking Klingon ass, crewed by scientific elites and commanded by a genius tactician, and operating experimental technology. She is designed to carry out more than 300 different scientific experiments at any one time, and simultaneously engage in combat as part of a drawn out war.
  • Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot: When we first see Discovery in "Context is for Kings", the camera pans around the ship for a solid forty seconds while she tractors Burnham's shuttle aboard.
  • Superweapon Surprise: Discovery is Starfleet's answer to Klingon cloaking technology, and by the middle of the first season, the ship's capabilities have singlehandedly turned the tide of the war. Gradually subverted though, as the Klingons realize this, and are actively seeking to capture the ship and the secrets of its technology. Further subverted when soon thereafter the Klingons are once again ascendant as they spread cloaking technology through their fleets. Discovery can appear suddenly anywhere, but can't be everywhere, while the Klingons can also suddenly appear anywhere but not being restricted to a single ship means they can attack in multiple locations at the same time.
  • Teleport Spam: Is capable of using the spore drive to this effect, but it's extremely taxing to its organic navigator (Lt. Stamets). In "Into the Forest I Go", the ship makes 133 jumps in rapid succession to map the Klingons' cloaking frequencies, which nearly kills him.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: See Everything's Better with Spinning above. The spore drive creates spinning as well by spinning the ship around its long axis right before it jumps.

Starfleet Command

    Admiral Brett Anderson 

Admiral Brett Anderson

Played by: Terry Serpico

An admiral in Starfleet; his command ship is the U.S.S. Europa.

  • Big Damn Heroes: Briefly pulls this off, arriving with his ship just in time to save the disabled Shenzhou from crashing into an asteroid with the use of a Tractor Beam.
  • Da Chief: At the start of the series, he is in charge of whichever Starfleet subdivision includes the Shenzhou.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Attempts to pursue a negotiated solution to the standoff and the battle with the Klingons, and does his best to bring it to fruition. T'Kuvma and his followers are having none of it, so it gets him and his crew killed.
  • Taking You with Me: When a cloaked Klingon ship rams and wrecks the Europa, his last act is to order an overload of his ship's warp core, taking the enemy vessel with it.
  • Uncertain Doom: The Europa was destroyed at the Battle at the Binary Stars, but it is left unclear whether he died in the process or managed to escape by some means.

    Vice-Admiral Katrina Cornwell 

Vice-Admiral Katrina Cornwell

Played by: Jayne Brook

An admiral in Starfleet; she oversees Lorca’s project.

  • Da Chief: The admiral overseeing Discovery, and presumably the Glenn as well, before the latter was destroyed.
  • Defiant Captive: After Kol captures her, his interrogators have no luck getting any information out of her, even though she is shown as being barely able to stand when we see her again.
  • Enemy Mine: Teams up with L'Rell (who is claiming to want to defect) in a short-lived escape attempt that's interrupted by Kol.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: After being alarmed by Lorca's instability and paranoia, she thinks it's a symptom of PTSD. She doesn't realize that "Lorca" is actually his counterpart from the Mirror Universe.
  • Friends with Benefits: Her friendship with Lorca has no noticable romantic, but a sexual component.
  • The Handler: She is the flag officer who Lorca reports to, and has intimate knowledge of his research project.
  • The Medic: She formerly served as a medical doctor in Starfleet.
  • Old Flame: She and Lorca have a history, though their careers keep them apart. This doesn't keep Lorca from talking her into bed when she makes a personal visit. It just serves to infuriate her more when she finds out Lorca was really an imposter, in the form of his duplicate from the Mirror Universe.
  • Only Mostly Dead: The beatdown and electrocution that L'Rell administered to Cornwell didn't kill her, as initially seemed to be the case, but left the admiral partially paralyzed.
  • Put on a Bus: Towards the end of "Into The Forest I Go", she is sent via medical shuttle to a starbase to undergo surgery and treatment for her injuries.
    • The Bus Came Back: Returns in "The Battle Without, the Battle Within'' fully recovered, although she looks exhausted given the situation Starfleet is in.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She and her colleagues independently arrive at the same conclusion that Burnham does, and order Lorca to stop using the tardigrade, lest they damage their only means of using the spore drive.
  • She Knows Too Much: When Cornwell gets captured by the Klingons shortly after determining that Lorca is not psychologically fit for command, Lorca tries to slow-walk her rescue so she won't be able to recommend that he be relieved of his position. While Michael and Tyler manage to rescue her, Starfleet declares Lorca a war hero, meaning that Cornwell's reservations will likely go unheeded.
    • The malfeasance of Lorca's Mirror Universe counterpart eventually comes to light when Discovery returns to the Prime Universe, but with every scrap of information relating to the Mirror Universe being kept top-secret by Starfleet, it's unclear whether the truth will ever come to light.
  • The Shrink: She was a psychiatrist by training before rising to the Starfleet admiralty, and is assessing Captain Lorca as she supervises his activities.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Starts drifting towards Jumping Off the Slippery Slope as the Federation gets more desperate in their war with the Klingons, to the point of putting the Mirror Universe's former Emperor, Philippa Georgiou, in charge of an assault on Qo'noS.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: She believes that Lorca and Tyler are both suffering from Post-traumatic stress, when both of them are actually imposters playing a part.

    Vice-Admiral Terral 

Admiral Terral

Played by: Conrad Coates

A Vulcan Admiral.

  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: A dark-skinned Vulcan with no hair and as Admiral in Starfleet.
  • The Handler: He takes over as the Lorca's contact with Starfleet Command once Vice-Admiral Cornwell gets captured by the Klingons.
  • Not So Stoic: After Lorca goes off on his own to rescue Sarek against Terral's orders, Admiral Cornwell claims that she thought he was about to throw a fit. Which she notes is impressive, given that he's a Vulcan and all.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: He is reluctant to order Sarek's rescue, presumably because Sarek isn't that popular on Vulcan, so Lorca just says he'll clean up the mess on his own and hangs up.
  • Tranquil Fury: Many of his on-screen interactions with Lorca tend to carry an undercurrent of palpable dislike and frustration.

Crew of the U.S.S. Shenzhou (NCC-1227)

    Captain Philippa Georgiou 

Captain Philippa Georgiou

Played by: Michelle Yeoh

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/std_georgiou.jpg
"Starfleet doesn't fire first."

The commanding officer of the U.S.S. Shenzhou, she is a mentor figure to Burnham within Starfleet.

  • The Captain: Of the U.S.S. Shenzhou.
  • Da Chief: To Burnham and the crew of the Shenzhou; she does not hesitate to chew out Burnham for openly questioning in front of the crew and sends her to the brig for her attempted mutiny.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Her Establishing Character Moment is walking into a near-combative agreement between her Number Two and her Science Officer, and ordering that the time and date of the agreement be noted in the log.
  • Dead Star Walking: Michelle Yeoh is credited as a "special guest star", and Captain Georgiou does not survive the two-part pilot episode.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Running out of food supplies on their damaged ship, the Klingons ate her corpse to sustain themselves.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Georgiou is stabbed through the chest by T'Kuvma's dagger, and dies from it immediately.
  • Martial Pacifist: Maintains that Starfleet never acts out of aggression, but engages the Klingons anyways to safeguard the Federation.
  • The Mentor:
    • One of two for Burnham, the other being Sarek; she thinks it is high time that her Number Two got her own command.
    • Also serves as this for Saru; as "The Brightest Star" reveals, it was then-Lieutenant Georgiou who first met Saru on Kaminar and successfully lobbied for an exception to be made to the Prime Directive so that he could leave his homeworld and join Starfleet.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: T'Kuvma stabs her in the heart during the raid on his ship in the second episode.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Advocates a level-headed approach to the predicament facing her crew and her ship.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Would rather be a diplomat and an explorer than a soldier, although that doesn't mean that, when the soldier is needed, she isn't as pragmatic and ruthless as any warmonger.
  • Sacrificial Lion: She's a veteran and high-ranking Starfleet officer, and still falls victim to the savagery of the Klingons.

    Doctor Nambue 

Doctor Nambue

Played by: Maulik Pancholy

The chief medical officer of the U.S.S. Shenzhou.

  • The Medic: Aboard the USS Shenzhou. He treats Burnham's radiation burns after she is recovered from the debris ring where she investigated the Klingon beacon.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It is left unrevealed whether or not he survived the eponymous "Battle at the Binary Stars".

    Ensign Danby Connor 

Ensign Danby Connor

Played by: Sam Vartholomeos

"Captain — incoming! Warp signatures detected!"

A junior officer assigned to the bridge crew of the U.S.S. Shenzhou, he is described as being "Starfleet through and through".

  • Bridge Bunny: A male example. He appears to crew the Operations station on the bridge of the Shenzhou.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Turns out to be a bit more important than the audience was left to believe in "Despite Yourself", when his mirror-universe Evil Counterpart shows up as captain of the I.S.S. Shenzhou. Michael is forced to kill him in self-defense when he tries to assassinate her so he can remain in command.
  • Ensign Newbie: He is addressed as "Ensign" in the pilot, and seems relatively young.
  • Heroic BSoD: He suffers an injury when the Klingons attack the Shenzhou, and goes wandering into the brig in a despairing daze, as he maintains that he's an explorer and not a soldier.
  • Kill the Cutie: The most idealistic of the main characters aboard the Shenzhou, and gets blown out into space when the Klingons attack the ship, as if the audience needed any further confirmation that the series intends to be Darker and Edgier than past Trek installments.
  • Oh, Crap!: Has one of these upon detecting a lot of incoming Klingon ships.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: He gets blown out into space in the second episode when the Klingons attack the Shenzhou. He's the first character with significant screentime to be killed off.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Is said to be "Starfleet through and through".

Crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701)

    Captain Christopher Pike 

Captain Christopher Pike

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pike.JPG
"Wherever our mission take us, we'll try to have a little fun along the way, too, huh? Make a little noise? Ruffle a few feathers?"

Played by: Anson Mount

The current captain of the Enterprise and the forerunner to James T. Kirk. He takes temporary command of Discovery in the face of a crisis in Season 2.

For tropes relating to his appearance in the Original Series, please see the TOS character page.

  • Buffy Speak: He often does this when his adrenaline is up.
    "I was expecting a red thing! Where's my damn red thing?"
  • The Captain: A temporary one for Discovery, with Commander Saru still assigned as the ship's first officer.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Displays an enormous amount of dry humour and snarkiness when he shows up to take command.
  • Famed In-Story: A display graphic in the first season showed him as already having received commendations during his service in Starfleet.
  • Good Counterpart: To the mirror Gabriel Lorca as captain of Discovery.
  • Hero of Another Story: Along with the rest of the crew of the Enterprise.
  • Mildly Military: Even by Starfleet standards, he's got a very informal and easy-going style of leadership.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: His introductory episode makes a point of contrasting him with Lorca. He understands why the crew doesn't trust him, makes a point of learning the names of the primary bridge crew, when Burnham quietly calls him out for thinking the crew wouldn't do their outmost to rescue stranded Starfleet personnel he silently acknowledges and accepts her criticism, and one of the first things he wants to do is change the captain's ready room to have seats so that, unlike Lorca, his subordinates would be comfortable to stay and talk with him.
  • Self-Deprecation: When Tilly accidentally puts his personal file up on the main screen, Pike specifically points out the F he received in Astrophysics at the Academy.
  • Survivor Guilt: The Enterprise was on a five-year mission of exploration when the Klingon War broke out, and Pike was ordered to keep going since it would have taken too long to get back to Federation space. He feels no small amount of guilt at having missed the fight.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Downplayed. Pike mentions having come from a religious home, a source of much friction between himself and his father. While Pike isn't himself religious, he shows the most sympathy for the religious beliefs of the people of New Eden and displays a willingness to believe there might be something greater at work. He's also the first one to call the building the signal is coming from what it obviously is, a church.

    "Number One" 

"Number One"

Played by: Rebecca Romijn

The first officer of the Enterprise and the second-in-command to Captain Pike.

    Lieutenant Spock 

Lieutenant Spock

Played by: Ethan Peck

A science officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, the son of Sarek and Amanda Grayson, and the adoptive brother of Michael Burnham.

For tropes relating to his appearance in the Original Series, please see the TOS character page.

  • Hero of Another Story: Along with Captain Pike and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise.
  • Rank Up: Specifically averted; he has yet to be promoted to become the Enterprise's first officer.
  • Revision: The series reveals Spock apparently enjoyed drawing as a child, and continued drawing as an adult, something not seen in previous portrayals.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Played by Ethan Peck, as he is younger than his initial portrayal by Leonard Nimoy in the Original Series.

    Commander Nhan 

Commander Nhan

Played by: Rachael Ancheril

An engineering officer from the U.S.S. Enterprise, who comes aboard Discovery with Captain Pike. She stays aboard as Chief of Security while the Enterprise is out of action.

  • All There in the Manual: It's not specified on-screen, but she is from Barzan, the same planet that would discover a natural wormhole to the Gamma and Delta Quadrants a century later in TNG's "The Price".
  • The Engineer: Specifically noted as being an engineering officer prior to beaming aboard, and she remarks on the ingenuity of Reno's work aboard the Hiawatha.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: To Pike; he brings her aboard Discovery as an engineer, but she ends up serving as the security chief aboard the ship.
  • Red Shirt: Averted, despite the fact that she actually wears red.

    Lieutenant Evan Connolly 

Lieutenant Evan Connolly

Played by: Sean Connolly Affleck

A science officer from the U.S.S. Enterprise, who comes aboard Discovery with Captain Pike.

  • Bait-and-Switch: When told that a "science officer" is coming aboard Discovery from the Enterprise, Burnham initially assumes it will be Spock. Instead, it's this guy.
  • Butt-Monkey: In his only episode, he gets snarked at by his captain, sneezed on by Linus (the Saurian crewmember), and then Killed Mid-Sentence on the way to the U.S.S. Hiawatha.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He mockingly brushes off Burnham's warnings that his calculations are off while flying through an Asteroid Thicket, and is Killed Mid-Sentence while doing so.
  • Red Shirt: Played straight, as he crashes into an asteroid when Burnham and Pike lead the mission to rescue the survivors from the Hiawatha. Ironically, as a science officer, he wears blue.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ignores Burnham's advice while piloting at high speed through a debris field, leading to a Surprisingly Sudden Death.

Crew of the U.S.S. Hiawatha (NCC-815)

    Commander Denise "Jet" Reno 

Commander Denise "Jet" Reno

Played by: Tig Notaro

The chief engineer aboard the U.S.S. Hiawatha.

  • Badass in Distress: She encounters an away team from Discovery when her vessel is disabled and left in a precarious position in the grip of stellar phenomena.
  • Commanding Coolness: Her rank is commander, and she must have nerves of steel to have survived on the Hiawatha for months before rescue.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Talks animatedly with her medically comatose crewmates, although it's unclear if she did this before being greeted by the unexpected rescue party.
  • The Engineer: The chief engineer aboard the Hiawatha.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Operates several flying drones to assist her and guide the Discovery crew, and keeps her crewmates alive through ingenious means (both biological and mechanical).
  • Locked Out of the Loop: In "Brother", she has been stuck aboard the Hiawatha since before the Klingon War ended, and doesn't learn that it's over until Burnham and Pike arrive.
  • MacGyvering: Once again has to use engineering tools for a medical purpose when they need to put a cortical implant in Tilly while engineering is locked down. (Notably, she only held up the drill as a joke before realizing they don't have a way to get the appropriate medical device.)
  • The Snark Knight: Upon being told that the Hiawatha and the asteroid it crashed on is headed for a pulsar, she sarcastically reacts with relief after she "thought you said we were all going to die".
  • They Call Him "Sword": Introduces herself as "Jet", a nickname she likely picked up from her engineering background.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Not that she had much choice. She spends ten months aboard the shipwrecked Hiawatha working to keep the surviving patients alive.
  • You Are in Command Now: Somewhat by default; by the time the Discovery arrives, she's the only crew member still active aboard the Hiawatha. Her crewmates are either dead or in varying states of medically-induced comas.

Section 31

    Leland 

Leland

Played by: Alan van Sprang

An agent of Section 31.

  • Bald of Evil: Of the "shaved bald" variety.
  • Beard of Evil: To a degree; also plenty of Perma-Stubble.
  • Dark Is Evil: Dresses all in black, and hands Mirror-Georgiou a black Starfleet badge like those seen on a few guards aboard Discovery.
  • Refitted for Sequel: Originally appeared in a scene that was deleted from the first season finale, where he recruits Mirror-Georgiou into Section 31. His first official appearance on the show is in episode 2.03, "Point of Light".

Civilians

    Ambassador Sarek 

Sarek

Played by: James Frain

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sarek0.jpg
"Change is the essential process of all existence, Commander Burnham. You must challenge your preconceptions, or they most certainly will challenge you."

A Vulcan astrophysicist, ambassador and the father of Spock. For tropes relating to his appearance in TOS, please see here.

  • Ambadassador: When first introduced in a flashback he was still an astrophysicist. By the time he re-appears in the series present, he's an ambassador. He gets the badass cred when, in a mind-meld with Burnham, he demonstrates he's as proficient in hand-to-hand combat as she is.
  • Category Traitor: Extremist Vulcans consider Sarek to be too enamored with humans in general, let alone marrying one, having a half-human son, and having a full-human foster daughter. Even non-extremist Vulcans tend to look askance at him.
  • Character Outlives Actor: Thanks to this being a prequel, it no longer matters that Mark Lenard is currently unavailable. James Frain can step into the shoes of a younger Sarek and look and sound credibly like a young Lenard.
  • Dark Secret: He lied to Burnham for years about her rejection from the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. In reality, they accepted her application, but they warned Sarek that they would not accept Spock if Burnham entered since they were only willing to accept one "non-Vulcan", so Sarek decided that Burnham would join Starfleet instead. This was ironically for nought, since Spock ultimately decided to join Starfleet and not the Expeditionary Group.
  • Happily Married: With Amanda, in contrast to his relationships with both his biological (Spock) and adopted (Burnham) children.
  • The Mentor: A civilian mentor to Burnham, who was raised on Vulcan and attended the Science Academy.
  • Parents as People: Michael goes through a similar arc as her adopted brother when it comes to this trope, unsurprisingly enough, since Sarek basically embodies it. He is always depicted as juggling a lot of contradictory balls (and roles... and ideals) in his day-to-day life, and she finally realises how many he actually (and unwittingly) fumbles while trying to find compromise, both privately and publically, on a very regular basis. He is no perfect, Classic Vulcan; and, certainly no perfect father, either. But, he's not abusive and is quite flexible in surprising ways, even within his limits — and, he genuinely loves his wife and children. Even though expressing any of that in a highly cuddly way... ain't ever gonna happen. Coming to terms with his limits and flaws is something all those who love him have to eventually learn. And, he constantly has to learn to come to terms with theirs.
  • Parental Substitute: For Burnham; she is his adoptive daughter. Conversely, she may be a "replacement" for Spock in Sarek's life, as at this point, the two were not on speaking terms.
  • Saved by Canon: His death is 112 years from now, so he'll live through this series.
  • Stern Teacher: Seems to be his attitude towards Burnham, guiding and encouraging her but adamant that she will never be able to learn to speak Vulcan as a human. He implies that he regrets not being more encouraging to her when she was younger.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: James Frain plays a younger Sarek.

    Amanda Grayson 

Amanda Grayson

Played by: Mia Kirshner

Sarek's human wife, the biological mother of Spock and foster mother of Michael Burnham.

  • Happily Married: Though restrained in their show of affection, as is proper for a Vulcan couple, Sarek and Amanda are clearly very fond of each other.
  • Mama Bear: When Spock appears to be in trouble, she tries to find and help him even against Starfleet's resistance and enlists Michael and even Pike to help her. She also refuses to believe that Spock murdered his doctors.
  • Parents as People: Amanda confesses that trying to raise Spock in a detached and emotionless Vulcan manner led to her becoming estranged to her own emotions, and she's afraid that it caused emotional damage to Spock himself.
  • Parental Substitute: She and Sarek adopted Michael after her parents were killed.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She's gentle and soft-spoken, but doesn't hesitate to speak up when she perceives an injustice, especially against her children. After Spock's doctors refuse to led her speak to him or tell her what's wrong with him, she is not above stealing his medical files.

    Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd 

Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd

Played by: Rainn Wilson

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dsc_mudd_head.jpg
"Better hurry — we're getting very close to ... *boom*"

A charismatic Con Man and swindler, who will one day cross paths with the crew of the Enterprise. For tropes relating to his appearance in TOS, please see here.

  • Actually a Doombot: In "The Escape Artist", he poses as a bounty hunter selling "Harry Mudd" to local civilians for half the Federation bounty on his head — but these are only androids designed to distract their captors until the real Mudd has made a clean getaway.
  • Affably Evil: If he is anything like his TOS self.
  • Beard of Evil: Sports a somewhat scruffy one, in contrast to his mustache in TOS.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: After acquiring a time travel device, he creates a time loop and manages to murder Lorca and destroy Discovery well over 50 times before being stopped.
  • Cardboard Prison: Whatever control Stella Grimes and her father promise to exercise on him apparently didn't last long, if "The Escape Artist" is any indication.
  • Character Outlives Actor: Much like with Sarek, Harry Mudd lives on with a new actor in the role.
  • Darker and Edgier: Unlike his TOS self, Mudd is shown to be more than capable of committing murder. Although, thanks to time travel shenanigans, none of the people he kills aboard Discovery stay dead, he had every intention of murdering Lorca and selling his crew to the Klingons to be slaves.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Always has a wisecrack ready, especially in the episode where he gets Discovery caught in a time loop. Probably helps that he had, quite literally, all the time in the world to think of them.
  • Dirty Coward: And pretty unapologetic about it.
  • Evil Is Petty: He wanted Lorca dead for leaving him behind on that Klingon prison, fine. Repeating it over 50 times For the Evulz? That's a whole 'nother story.
  • Irony: Mudd got into financial trouble as a result of wanting to impress his future wife Stella so she'd marry him ... in a decade or so he's probably going to admit he really regrets that decision.
    • It's later revealed that Mudd never actually loved her, he just wanted to get his hands on her dowry. And once his father-in-law gets him under his control and forces Mudd to stay with her, he already regrets the decision.
  • It's Personal: He swears revenge on Lorca for leaving him on the Klingon prison ship as retaliation for selling out to the Klingons.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He points out that a lot of people get caught up in the 'crossfire' between Starfleet and other cultures, and he for one is sick of it.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Uses his horrible little pet insect to spy on his fellow prisoners and pass the info on to his Klingon jailers.
  • May–December Romance: Maybe, depending on how actor ages are interpreted, as Rainn Wilson is 51 and Katherine Barrell, who plays Stella, is 27. The characters' original actors in TOS, however, were only three years apart.
  • Me's a Crowd: Pulls this with his android duplicates in "The Escape Artist", in a Call-Forward to his appearances in TOS.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Has a pet bug/scorpion thing called Stewart.
  • Saved by Canon: He has to live to become Kirk's occasional problem in TOS.
  • Smug Snake: The trailers seem to play up this aspect of him, which was always present, but makes him seem a bit darker and more obviously evil. He's seen cheekily reminding the officers that they don't have much time left until an explosion, and when Burnham exclaims to him "You're mad!" his response is a smirking "I'm Mudd!"
  • Time-Shifted Actor: As the series is a prequel, Rainn plays a younger Mudd.
  • The Trickster: As per usual.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: He will in the future, at least if his TOS self is any indication.
  • Villain Ball: Had he kept his mouth shut about Stella and simply been content with killing Lorca once, he would have gotten away with his revenge plot.

    Stella Grimes 

Stella Grimes

Played by: Katherine Barrell

The daughter of Barron Grimes, she is Harry Mudd's bride-to-be and his wife by the time he crosses paths with the crew of the Enterprise.

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Considering that she knows what sort of person Harry is, loves him anyway, and doesn't seem interested in trying to change him, it's safe to assume this trope is in play.
  • Daddy's Girl: Her father adores her, and he is willing to do anything to make her happy.
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Defied. When Harry (desperately trying to explain why he ditched her) claims he left to work on his (many, many) character flaws, Stella assures him that she's well aware he isn't perfect, always has been, and is fine with that.
  • Informed Flaw: During his run-ins with Kirk and company, Harry always made Stella out to be a shrewish harridan, as exemplified by the android replicas he made of her. However, when she appears in the flesh she is an attractive, amiable and very understanding young woman.
  • May–December Romance: By all appearances she is considerably younger than Harry.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She is 5ft 9in (175 cm) tall and extremely attractive.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Stella is considerably more attractive than Harry.
  • Warts and All: She knows Harry's a conniving lowlife. She doesn't care; she wants him anyway, and has no illusions about being able to change him.

    Barron Grimes 

Barron Grimes

Played by: Peter MacNeill

A wealthy individual and Stella’s father.

  • Arms Dealer: One of the quadrant’s preeminent weapons dealers, and he has made a fortune from the Federation-Klingon War.
  • The Dreaded: Harry is absolutely terrified of him.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: He absolutely detests Harry, but he makes damn certain he marries his daughter, because Stella loves Harry… for some reason.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Grimes dresses in an impeccable suit complete with a stylish cape.


The Klingon Empire

The High Council

    L'Rell 

High Chancellor L'Rell

Played by: Mary Chieffo

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lrell.jpg

Formerly of the House of Mo'Kai, L'Rell is introduced as a battle deck commander on T'Kuvma's ship, and later becomes the leader of his remaining followers.

  • Anti-Villain: Starts out as a decidedly unsympathetic character but has some Evil Virtues that may make her a sort of Noble Demon. She undergoes Character Development that takes her to significantly more sympathetic territory and may qualify as an Anti-Hero by season 2.
  • Cincinnatus: She stated early on that she did not desire a leadership position, preferring to work in the background. However, circumstances in the first season finale led to her accepting the position of chancellor in order to unite the Klingon Empire and fulfil T'Kuvma's vision.
  • Co-Dragons: Along with Voq, she appears to be this to T'Kuvma among his followers. After T'Kuvma is dead and Voq is transformed into Tyler, she becomes a Dragon Ascendant.
  • Dark Action Girl: Her capture of Lorca and fight with Ash shows she can handle herself in a fight, despite espionage being her house's main focus.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male and Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: A rather complicated situation. Tyler believes that she sexually abused him while he was a prisoner on her ship, and this is treated respectfully by the people around him. However, with the reveal that Tyler actually is Voq in heavy surgically-modified disguise, it's heavily implied that the memories of rape were really from a consensual relationship between her and Voq, before he was altered to become Tyler. Moreover, a follow-up scene in Season 2, where Tyler rejects L'Rell's advances and states that they seem like a violation to him, sees L'Rell backing off at once in apparent horror. The show consistently plays what appear to be Tyler's memories of abuse and assault for horror rather than titillation and treats the PTSD he suffers as a result with utmost seriousness, so depending upon one's stance, this trope is either Zig-Zagged, subverted, or averted.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • She seems to genuinely care about her crewmates on the Ship of the Dead, risking herself to protect Voq and swearing dire vengeance on Kol when it turned out that he'd had many of the others killed.
    • She and Voq were lovers, so she's understandably upset when she initially can't get Voq's personality to emerge from Tyler and he rejects her.
    • In Season 2, she threatens to cut Georgiou's throat when Georgiou asks if she's able to kill Tyler to save her chancellorship.
    • She also swears to kill the head of House Kor when he kidnaps her son to try and force her to abdicate.
    • Also in season 2, she immediately recoils in horror when Tyler/Voq tells her that her touch feels like a violation.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While being a pretty harsh and savage person in her own right, she has nothing but contempt for Kol and considers him to have no honour.
    • She doesn't seem to have had any problem with torturing prisoners, but recoils immediately in horror when Tyler/Voq tells her that her touch feels like a violation to him. This also, in retrospect, makes it seem almost certain that what Tyler interprets as being memories of L'Rell raping him were actually corrupted memories of a consensual relationship between L'Rell and Voq.
  • Facial Horror: Gets a nasty burn on the left side of her face courtesy of a near miss from a Klingon disruptor fired by Lorca. Once treated, she still has a large amount of scarring on her face.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: L'Rell is a minor member of a relatively weak Great House, but after Burnham gives her access to a bomb that could wipe out all life on Qo'Nos, she uses it to blackmail the Great Houses into making her chancellor.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After Burnham convinces her that T'Kuvma's war has only left the Klingon Empire more divided than ever, L'Rell agrees to work with her to bring peace between their peoples.
  • Kill the Ones You Love:
    • She erases her lover Voq's personality to spare him from the torture of being trapped inside of Tyler and no longer a Klingon.
    • Inverted in Season 2, where she fakes the deaths of both Tyler and her unnamed son to save them from becoming victims of her political enemies.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: After becoming Chancellor and ending the war with the Federation, L'Rell starts wearing more opulent and feminine clothing - which don't keep her from actively fighting to free her kidnapped son and defend her office.
  • Klingon Promotion: Actually averts this, as she becomes Chancellor of the Empire using the threat of a superweapon hidden by Mirror-Georgiou on Qo'nos.
  • Last of His Kind: She considers herself and Voq to be the only Klingons remaining true to T'Kuvma, and with the personality-death of Voq, she's officially the last member of the House of T'Kuvma.
  • Mama Bear: Threatens to disembowel Kol-Sha if he hurts her and Ash's son. She also tells the High Council to address her as "Mother" instead of Chancellor, deeming it a far "fiercer" title.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Successfully wins over General Kol by playing on his prejudices that she's switched sides, and suggests a fate worse than death for Voq, all to ensure she has an opportunity for both her and Voq to escape without Kol's knowledge.
    • With the reveal that Tyler is really Voq, the whole kidnapping and escape of Lorca in "Choose Your Pain" was demonstrated to be a brilliant piece of theatre to get Tyler/Voq aboard Discovery and into Lorca's trust.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: What she wanted was to support Voq in reclaiming his rightful place as T'Kuvma's successor and fulfilling T'Kuvma's dream of uniting the Klingons, staying in the background, while he acted as the face of the operation. What she got instead is a new job directly in the limelight as the Klingon High Chancellor courtesy of the Federation, with most of Qo'noS' noble houses arrayed against her. The one person reliably on her side is Ash Tyler, who is all that remains of Voq, after she had to kill his personality to save at least the Ash part of him — which only happened because she persuaded Voq to become a Deep Cover Agent in Starfleet in the first place.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Her relationship with Voq led to an infant son, whom she tries to keep secret from everyone (except her uncle and other trusted retainers). This proves wise when, upon Ash discovering the child's existence — inadvertently revealing him to L'Rell's adversaries due to some cleverly placed listening devices — the baby gets promptly kidnapped. Finally, L'Rell agrees to give up her son to a reclusive order of monks on Boreth to protect both him and her chancellorship.
  • Torture Technician: She is an expert interrogator and is capable of devising custom tortures for her victims, such as exploiting Lorca's sensitivity to light by forcing his eyes open and shining bright light into them.
  • Women Are Wiser: She's a skilled strategist, in contrast to Voq's single minded devotion to T'Kuvma.
  • Woman Behind The Man: States she doesn't want leadership because she prefers operating behind the scenes in support. This is apparently due in part to one of her parents being a member of the House of Mo'Kai, which is known for espionage and covert action.

    General Kol 

General Kol

Played by: Kenneth Mitchell

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/disc_kol.jpg
"But your strange ship, her crew, and cloaking technology will now serve me."

A commanding officer among the Klingons. Represents the House of Kor on the High Council.

  • Arc Villain: He wins the power struggle following T'Kuvma's death and becomes ruler of the Klingon Empire and, by extension, the Big Bad of most of the first season. Voq and L'Rell play second string with their own undefined plans. His leadership of the Klingon Empire, along with his existence, ends in "Into The Forest I Go" when he is killed in battle with Discovery.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: He freely admits he just wants to place himself and the House of Kor in charge, with little regard for what becomes of the other Great Houses so long as they end up subservient to him.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Follows in T'Kuvma's doomed footsteps, making him more of an Arc Villain overall when he is killed after nine episodes of the first season.
  • Four-Star Badass: A Klingon version.
  • Honor Before Reason: Initially makes the tactically sound decision to withdraw from a battle with Discovery until he can figure out what they're up to, only to completely forget about that when Burnham makes an unexpected appearance and personally challenges him.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Gets Voq's surviving crew to join him at the drop of a hat by supplying them with food after six months of struggle and starvation, and then takes off with T'Kuvma's "sarcophagus" ship and its cloaking device. He then uses his control over this technology to convince the other houses to rally behind him, offering it in exchange for their loyalty.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In his very first appearance, he establishes himself as both classist and prejudiced against those he considers outcasts of Klingon society. This is a Call-Forward: When Kor, the namesake of his House, later reappeared in Deep Space Nine, it was revealed that he denied Martok acceptance into the officers' class years before, even though his application was exemplary and the final "acceptance" step was merely a formal rubber stamp, purely because Martok was not of noble birth.note 
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: As with all Klingons, he sees himself as a warrior first and foremost. Michael exploits this by challenging him to a duel so he'll be too distracted fighing her to notice her sabotage.
  • The Rival: The most outwardly antagonistic of all the members of the High Council who answered T'Kuvma's call, he vows to put him in his place one day. T'Kuvma is killed before he can ever make good on that threat. However, he wins over T'Kuvma's followers and gets them to abandon his hand-picked successor, in essence eliminating T'Kuvma's legacy.
  • Smug Snake: While he's certainly very dangerous and competent, he still comes across as this since the threat he poses is due to him exploiting T'Kuvma's memory and accomplishments for his own cynical ends while thinking nothing of murdering and betraying T'Kuvma's sincere followers.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After Discovery figures out how to penetrate the Sarcophagus' cloak, Kol screams as Discovery bombards his unshielded ship into pieces.

    Kol-Sha 

Kol-Sha

Played by: Kenneth Mitchell

Leader of the House of Kor and a member of the High Council after the death of his son, Kol. He considers Chancellor L'Rell to be a puppet of the Federation and is suspicious of the human-looking Tyler.

  • Badass Grandpa: To some extent. He's visibly much older than Kol was, at any rate, and manages to get the upper hand on both L'Rell and Tyler.
  • Dirty Coward: Lets his mooks fight against L'Rell and Tyler, and only steps in at the end to hit the pair with a paralysing weapon.
  • Gutted Like a Fish: The means of his demise at L'Rell's hands.
  • Spy Cam: Spies on L'Rell and Tyler using a listening device made of nanobots dissolved in his House's trademark facepaint.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: He looks much like his son — and is played by the same actor.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Kidnaps L'Rell and Voq's infant son to pressure L'Rell into abdicating.

    Dennas 

Dennas

Played by: Clare McConnell

A member of the Klingon High Council, representing The House of D'Ghor.

  • Bling of War: She is the only Klingon to wear any headgear, an intrincate jeweled headdress covering her ridges.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She is the first member of the Council to look past her prejudices and take T'Kuvma's proposal seriously.

    Ujilli 

Ujilli

Played by: Damon Runyan

A member of the Klingon High Council, representing The House of Mo'Kai.

  • Back for the Dead: Shows up in "Point of Light" for the first time since the early first season and soon ends up dead at the hands of Kol-Sha.
  • Covered with Scars: The cultural significance of this for Klingons, or of the House of Mo'Kai, hasn't yet been revealed but Ujilli and several other Klingons who may be associated with him or his House seem to have undergone some form of ritualistic scarification. Ujilli, as leader of the House of Mo'Kai, seems to have the most scars, probably to indicate his badass leadership status, but the Klingons on the prison ship who carried out L'Rell's orders in "Choose Your Pain" also seemed to be sporting scars, so it seems to be a trait common to most if not all of the House of Mo'Kai.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He follows Dennas's example and asks to listen to more of T'Kuvma's proposal. With the reveal by L'Rell that the House of Mo'Kai is known for being spies, it would make sense that the representative of that house would want to gather information.
  • Secret Keeper: In Season 2, he shelters L'Rell and Voq's infant son for his niece. Subverts this himself after Tyler confronts him about spying on him, as he feels that Tyler should know about his/Voq's child.

The House of T’Kuvma

    T'Kuvma 

T'Kuvma

Played by: Chris Obi

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dsc_what_we_know_about_tkuvma_header.jpg
"We have been waiting for someone worthy of our attention."

A leader who is seeking to unite the Klingon houses.

  • Anti-Villain: Though the Klingons are still an adversary of the Federation in the 2250s, he seems to have lofty and noble goals to unify the Klingon Empire. Additionally, from a Klingon perspective at least, he makes a decent case against the Federation, claiming that they are expansionist, colonialist, and worst of all liars, by doing their empire building whilst insisting "We come in peace". That said, he still respects Starfleet as worthy opponents.
  • Big Bad: At the start of the series.
  • Dark Messiah: He considers himself to be a successor of sorts to Kahless, the Klingon messiah; he leads a cult of personality, and he wants to unite the Klingons against the Federation. After his death, Voq starts praying to him as if he were a god.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Despite the general messianic speeches, when Georgiou's message is playing, he sarcastically predicts exactly when she will get to the Federation phrase he considers a complete lie: "We come in peace."
    T'Kuvma: Here it comes ...
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Promotional material built him up as the series' Big Bad and ultimate antagonist. Michael kills him in the second episode — though in such a way that he becomes a martyr and his ideology lives on.
  • Fantastic Racism: He has nothing nice to say about humans, or any other non-Klingon species for that matter.
  • Genghis Gambit: Seeks out the forces of the Federation, the most formidable adversary that he can find, in order to spark a war that will drive the Houses of the Klingon Empire to unite in battle.
  • Hypocrite: Downplayed, due to Blue and Orange Morality. T'Kuvma is all about restoring the honor of the Klingon Empire but lies to the Federation's Admiral about talking peace. While the Klingons have a lot of Deliberate Values Dissonance going on and they are not above sneak attacks, this would be considered cowardly by the traditional warrior culture because he's explicitly breaking his word. On the other hand, even Worf, son of Mogh once pointed out that, to Klingons, "There is nothing more honorable than victory," so from a Klingon perspective, he's really just being pragmatic.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: When Admiral Anderson arrives at the Battle of the Binary Stars, he proposes a cease-fire. T'Kuvma accepts, telling Anderson to prepare to receive his envoy ... and then has one of his cloaked ships ram Anderson's flagship, the Europa.
    T'Kuvma: Lest anyone doubt that I can render my ships invisible.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Even as he lies dying, he tries to ensure that his memory will inspire Voq and the rest of his followers to fight on.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: As a leader seeking to unite the feuding pieces of the Klingon Empire.
  • The Red Baron: His followers style him "the Unforgettable", the same moniker used for Kahless.
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: Argues that Starfleet and the Federation operate like this.
  • Worthy Opponent: Considers the assembled Starfleet ships and their crews to be this.

    Voq 

Voq

Played by: Javid Iqbalnote 

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/voq.jpg

One of T'Kuvma's most devout followers. An albino, Voq is looked down upon by rigid Klingon social structure as a mistake of nature, and treated as an outcast. As a result, he is not a member of any Great House, calling himself "son of no one", and was apparently even shunned by his own familynote . Despite being an outcast, he seeks to prove his devotion to Klingon ideals through his own faith and deeds — a devotion that impresses T'Kuvma enough to make him his right-hand warrior. This devotion runs so deep that he volunteers for a complete physical surgical transformation into a human infiltrator in the form of "Ash Tyler".

  • Anti-Villain: While he's a ruthless, human-hating killer, he is also somewhat sympathetic due to the discrimination he has faced because of his albinism, his courage, his willingness to admit his limitations and accept advice from others, and his genuine devotion to T'Kuvma's teachings that is contrasted with the selfishness and treachery of his rivals.
  • Death of Personality: When the conflict between Voq and Tyler's personalities begins to cause them to self-harm, L'Rell is forced to erase Voq's personality to save his life. She does the Klingon death rattle for him, meaning that as far as she is concerned, Voq is dead.
  • Dragon Ascendant: He becomes T'Kuvma's second-in-command, and gains control over the rest of his House, or what's left of it, after T'Kuvma is killed in battle. At least, until he volunteers for complete surgical alteration into a human, at which point L'Rell takes over as the new Dragon Ascendant of T'Kuvma's remaining followers.
  • Dramatic Irony: He despises the Federation in general, and Burnham in particular for killing T'Kuvma. So naturally, when he still thinks he's Ash Tyler, he falls in love with her.
  • Evil Albino: He appears to have albinism and is fanatically dedicated to bloodthirsty Klingon ideals.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Or Wrong, on a number of levels and depending on your viewpoint. Voq is a hero by Klingon standards and his actions very much spurred the other Houses to action, but despite that, the other Houses turned on him and each other at the earliest opportunity, since despite his personal glory, he wielded little to no actual power in the Empire. His extreme method of becoming a Manchurian Agent in Starfleet came with a boatload of risk, but it nearly paid off as his virtually perfect cover swiftly got him into Captain Lorca's favour. But it ended up not working, and Voq's personality was given a Mercy Kill by L'Rell, leaving Ash Tyler back in control with both lives' worth of experiences and skills.
  • Hero Killer: Murders Dr. Culber in "Despite Yourself", before attempting to do the same to the Mirror Universe Voq (his own counterpart) and the prime-universe Michael Burnham. And before all that, he was a party to the murder-via-vivisection of the real Ash Tyler in a Klingon prison.
  • Honor Before Reason: Before L'Rell convinced him to see reason, Voq was prepared to starve to death aboard T'Kuvma's derelict ship rather than "contaminate" the ship by repairing it with parts from the Shenzhou.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Notably averts the Klingon patronymic tradition, declaring himself "son of no one".
  • Jumped at the Call: Voq is the only one who steps forward to be the new "Torchbearer".
  • Macho Masochism: Voq proves his devotion by holding his hand over a flame, letting it burn without flinching. This is possibly a shout-out to the Roman soldier Gaius Mucius Scaevola, who according to legend did the same thing.note 
  • Red Right Hand: Voq is an albino, which makes other Klingons see him as a freak and mistake of nature, not belonging to any Great House. T'Kuvma says he's come to see this as a "mirror" and sees himself in Voq: he's unattached to the decadent feuds of the Great Houses, and has a driving need to prove that he is a true Klingon (striking a chord with T'Kuvma because he feels the Great Houses have forgotten the traditions of honor and glory that Khaless set down for them). It goes double when he holds his hand over a flame in an act of Macho Masochism, charring the skin on one hand.
  • Shaming the Mob: The faith of T'Kuvma's followers wavers to the point that they aren't sure if any of the Great Houses will respond to their call to unite if they light the beacon of Khaless. After Rejac is killed, T'Kuvma calls for another to replace him as their "Torchbearer", to honor their House — none will, and even Rejac's own brother expresses his doubts. Then "Voq, son of no one" steps forward, a shamed albino derided as a freak of nature by his fellow Klingons, who declares that while he is not a member of an honored Great House, he will prove his honor through his own faith and deeds by taking Rejac's place. T'Kuvma accepts, moved that this shamed outsider has displayed more courage and devotion than the high-ranking members of Great Houses who refused the call.
  • Shoot the Medic First: After finally reasserting himself and pulling off a Split-Personality Takeover while disguised as Ash Tyler, Voq's first act is to kill Dr. Culber as soon as medical scans finally reveal that "Tyler" really is a surgically-modified Klingon.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Once he is surgically and neurologically disguised as Ash Tyler, he eventually overwhelms Tyler's personality when confronted with his more heroic MirrorUniverse counterpart.
  • Villainous Valor: Willingly allows himself to undergo Body Horror levels of surgical and neurological alteration, right down to having his personality hidden under human memory patterns. Essentially, he gives up everything he believes in just to infiltrate and undermine Starfleet.


The Mirror Universe

The Terran Empire

     The Emperor 

Emperor Philippa Georgiou

Played by: Michelle Yeoh

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/startrekdiscoverys01e11thewolfinside1080pamznweb_dlddp51h264_ntbmkv_snapshot_4805_20180115_144559.jpg
"Don't you bow before your Emperor?"
The ruthless and xenophobic leader of the Terran Empire. Georgiou is a secretive figure whose identity is known only to a few.

  • Ambiguously Evil: In season 2 she is depicted working - quite effectively, we might note - for Section 31. Her motives for aligning with them are unclear (it would be entirely plausible that she's with them purely because she likes the adrenaline rush), but her mission is to maintain L'Rell's leadership of the Klingon Empire, which in turn seems the likeliest path to avoiding a resurgence of war. It's not clear at this point whether she's a Token Evil Teammate, but she is given a significantly less ruthless characterisation than she was in the first season.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: She's the top lady, and a stunningly skilled fighter capable of gunning down whole units of soldiers with ease and sparring equally with Lorca.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: When Michael declares that she won't kill Lorca, Georgiou responds by stabbing him in the heart and tossing his body in the the Charon's reactor. This trope is also why Cornwell engineers a Dead Person Impersonation and Tyrant Takes the Helm below — let the Terran do that which Starfleet will not.
  • Bi the Way: She happens to be bisexual. When hitting a strip club (or perhaps a sex club; it's not entirely clear), she solicits two Orion sex workers for sex, one male, the other female.
  • The Bus Came Back: After a scene at WonderCon showed her recruitment into Section 31, it was theorized that she could return to the main show. Although she will indeed appear in the second season of Discovery, it was also announced that Mirror-Georgiou would be the star of her own series focusing on Section 31.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Admiral Cornwell has Emperor Georgiou impersonate Captain Georgiou, claiming that she was captured by the Klingons at the Battle of the Binary Stars and was rescued by Discovery on a classified mission.
  • Depraved Bisexual: A Mirror Universe classic.
  • Dragon Lady: A cruel empress played by Michelle Yeoh. Her opulent finery strongly resembles those of contemporary Asian royalty to boot.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: For all of her brutality, she claims that she loved her universe's version of Michael Burnham, and she can't bring herself to kill the Prime version when she has the chance.
  • Evil Virtues: Love, resourcefullness and valor.
  • Expy:
    • The head of a xenophobic empire, destroyed a planet (or several) and wears a lot of gold, including a golden wreath. Emperor Georgiou is totally the God-Emperor of Man.
    • A genocidal warlord is used to fight the Klingons because Starfleet lacks the necessary savagery and military mindset. Sounds an awful lot like Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Khan from Star Trek: Into Darkness.
  • Foil: To Sarek. She adopted her universe's Burnham, the same way Sarek did and she too had trouble instilling certain values in her child.
  • Graceful Loser: She calmly accepts what she believes be her impending death at the hands of the Lorca loyalists, though Michael saves her. Later, when Michael demands that she either steps down from her plan to blow up Qo'noS or shoots her, Georgiou, after thinking it over, realizes that she cannot do the later and calmly concedes her defeat to Michael.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: See for yourself.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Possibly, albeit downplayed. She is depicted as an agent of Section 31 in season 2. Section 31 is itself often morally ambiguous, but in this case their aim is to maintain L'Rell's leadership of the Klingon Empire and in turn avoid restarting the war.
  • Honey Trap: Sleeps with two Orions to get information.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Like the regular universe, she still has a mother/daughter bond with her version of Michael Burnham. The only difference is that this version made it more official and actually raised Burnham.
  • Karma Houdini: Emperor Georgiou was a brutal and genocidal tyrant who attempted to commit genocide against the prime universe Klingons, but Michael and Starfleet agree to let her go free in return for handing over the detonator to the bomb that would have destroyed Qo'noS.
    • In season 2 she is shown working - quite effectively, we might note - for Section 31. It's possible this is representative of at least a mild Heel–Face Turn in her character, as she seems to be quite adamant about maintaining L'Rell's leadership of the Klingon Empire, which in turn seems to be necessary for peace. However, her motives are as yet unclear. Section 31 is itself often depicted in a morally ambiguous fashion, so her alignment with them fits her character arc quite well.
  • Kneel Before Zod: She's mildly annoyed when Burnham (who's having a Heroic BSoD at the sight of her long-lost captain) doesn't immediately bow before her. Her reaction to Saru (an alien) not doing the same is significantly less mild, to the point where she nearly shoots him.
  • Lady of War: Has the look and demeanour.
  • Light Is Not Good: The colours of the Terran Empire are black and gold and it seems that the higher the rank, the more gold the officers wear. The Emperor takes the cake.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: She's a monstrous conqueror and racist, but Lorca tried to overthrow her because she's not racist enough.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Averted. When Burnham doesn't destroy the rebel base on Harlak as ordered, Georgiou personally takes her flagship to the planet and levels the entire continent.
  • Parental Substitute: Burnham was not just her subordinate, she was the Emperor's adopted daughter.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Subverted. After killing Lorca, Georgiou decides to hold off his minions long enough for Michael to escape. Georgiou figures that, since she'll never be able to reclaim her throne after being topple from it, she might as well die saving the closest person she has to a daughter. However, Michael manages to get her caught in Discovery's transporater and brings her with her to the prime universe.
  • Put on a Bus: Her fate at the end of Season 1 — Michael and Starfleet allow her to walk away with her freedom in exchange for control over the bomb that she planted on Qo'noS. See The Bus Came Back above.
  • Replacement Goldfish: She and Michael have this issue about each other to some extent. Georgiou makes it clear that she is not the Good Captain that Michael knew and that treating her as such is a bad plan, but nevertheless she herself can't kill Michael for similar reasons.
  • She Is the King: Georgiou is a woman, but she uses the title "Emperor". (In Chinese history, most women who held the title of Empress were more wives or concubines of a ruling Emperor, but Wu Zetian, who did rule in her own name, was sometimes called Emperor.)
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Georgiou dismisses Michael's explanation for the rescue as some kind of attempt to effect a Heel–Face Turn and says instead that Michael was trying to atone for not saving "her" Georgiou—and that it doesn't work that way because they're not the same.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: The Emperor has quite an extensive list of titles:
    Maddox: Lords of the Empire, privileged guests, all hail her Most Imperial Majesty, Mother of the Fatherland, Overlord of Vulcan, Dominus of Qo'noS, Regina Andor. All hail the Emperor, Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponiusnote  Centarius.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Cornwell places her in command of Discovery during the final assault on Qo'noS so she can oversee the complete devastation of the Klingon homeworld.

Commanding Officers

    Captain Michael Burnham 

Captain Michael Burnham

Former captain of the I.S.S. Shenzhou. She is presumed to have been killed by her universe's Lorca, but her body has not been found. The prime universe Michael Burnham impersonates this version of herself and takes back command of the Shenzhou.

  • 100% Adoration Rating: This version of Burnham was adored by her crew, and they never got over her loss even after Mirror Connor took command. When Burnham takes over her counterpart's role and has to kill Connor to save herself from being on the wrong end of a Klingon Promotion, the crew breaks into applause as she steps over his dead body to resume her command.
  • Adopted into Royalty: Courtesy of Emperor Georgiou.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: She joined Lorca's coup against her foster mother Georgiou.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Just like her regular counterpart, Burnham had a hard time fitting in with an adoptive parent's cultural norms. Her adoptive mother tried to instill Terran values in her, but she never fully grasped them. And ended up betraying Georgiou.
  • Never Found the Body: Her shuttle was destroyed by Mirror Lorca, but her body was never found. This ambiguity allows the prime-universe Burnham to pull a Dead Person Impersonation and pose as her counterpart.
  • Red Baron: She is known as "The Butcher of the Binary Stars" for slaughtering thousands of Klingons.
  • Unseen Character: Never seen in person, although whether or not she was Killed Offscreen is unclear.
  • Wife Husbandry: According to Emperor Georgiou, Lorca was grooming her to become his lover.

    Captain Sylvia Tilly 

Captain Sylvia Tilly

Played by: Mary Wiseman
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tumblr_p41oi0lksk1rk0k4co1_540.jpg

The captain of the I.S.S. Discovery and a brutal war criminal. She and her ship were sent to the prime universe when the U.S.S. Discovery was sent to the Mirror Universe.

  • Blondes Are Evil: Captain Tilly is a vicious blonde war criminal, in contrast to the Adorkable redhead Cadet Tilly.
  • Blood Knight: Even by Terran Empire standards, she has a reputation for being especially bloodthirsty and brutal. According to the Emperor, Tilly participated in the conquest of Betazed and the destruction of Mintaka III.
  • The Dreaded: Mirror Connor is unwilling to cross her, acceding to her demands when Cadet Tilly (posing as her) makes it clear she won't tolerate his excuses. The fact that the Emperor has fond memories of her speaks volumes.
  • Killed Offscreen: "The War Without, The War Within" reveals that the I.S.S. Discovery was destroyed shortly after crossing dimensions, presumably taking "Captain Killy" with it.
  • Klingon Promotion: Became captain by murdering her superior officer.
  • Red Baron: "The Slayer of Sorna Prime", "The Witch of Wurna Minor" and "Captain Killy".
    Saru: Captain 'Killy'? Well that's not very clever.

    Captain Danby Connor 

Captain Danby Connor

Played by: Sam Vartholomeos

The captain of the I.S.S. Shenzhou after his universe's Michael Burnham's presumed death.

  • Assassin Outclassin': His attempt to kill Michael fails and she kills him instead.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: He prefaces his attempt on Michael's life with a long monologue about how he needs to make the crew fear him, and that he finally knows how to do it, that tips her off. If he'd just whipped out his blade and gutted her, she would have been caught completely off-guard.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gets killed in short order, just like his prime-universe counterpart. Where his prime counterpart's death is treated as a tragedy, this Connor's death is treated with a standing ovation by the crew.
  • Driven by Envy: As much as his desire to keep command, it's his inferiority to Burnham in the eyes of the crew that drives him to kill Burnham rather than relinquish his command.
  • The Starscream: Tries (and fails) to kill Michael when she poses as her Mirror Universe counterpart and tries to take back command of the Shenzhou.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Finally gets some screentime after being a straightforward Red Shirt in the series premiere — and ends up killed by Burnham shortly after she boards the Shenzhou to impersonate her mirror-universe counterpart.

Others

    Commander Keyla Detmer 

Keyla Detmer

Played by: Emily Coutts

The first officer of the I.S.S. Shenzhou. Since her Shenzhou was not destroyed (unlike its prime-universe counterpart), she does not have the cybernetic implants that her prime-universe counterpart does.

  • Number Two: Aboard the I.S.S. Shenzhou.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: One of the few known survivors of Discovery crew's little sojourn to the Mirror Universe, and would likely have been left in pole position to take over as captain of the Shenzhou following the disappearance of Burnham.
  • You Are in Command Now: With Connor dead and the prime-universe Burnham having departed with Discovery, she is the highest-ranking officer left aboard the Shenzhou, though it's anyone's guess how long she can make it last.

    Lieutenant Paul Stamets 

Lieutenant Paul Stamets

Played by: Anthony Rapp

Like his Prime Universe counterpart, Stamets is a researcher of the mycelial network, although this Stamets is assigned to the Emperor's flagship, the I.S.S. Charon, instead of the I.S.S. Discovery. He and his Prime Universe counterpart are able to meet within the network.

  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He betrayed Lorca to Emperor Georgiou during Lorca's original coup. Then when Lorca usurps control of the Charon, he immediately jumps back on Lorca's side, the alternative being immediate death. It doesn't end up saving his life.
  • Karmic Death: Subverted. Lorca contemplates throwing him into the Charon's mycelial reactor as it would be poetic for a scientist to be killed by his own creation, but then Lorca declares that he hates poetry and has Landry shoot him in the back.
  • Mad Scientist: Unlike Prime Stamets, who saw the mycelial network as a means of faster-than-light travel, Mirror Stamets has managed to weaponize it, allowing the I.S.S. Charon to destroy entire planets by drawing power from the network itself.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: His mycelial reactor, used to power the Charon, has been corrupting the mycelial network. According to the mycelial network's version of Culber, this could wipe out all life in The Multiverse if his creation isn't destroyed. Mirror Stamets knows this, and was looking for a solution before he wound up trapped in the network with Prime Stamets.
  • Psychic Link: He and Prime Stamets are linked through the mycelial network.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Having already been betrayed once by Mirror Stamets, Lorca has him executed as soon as he's no longer useful.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once Lorca has seized control of the Charon, he tells Mirror Stamets this and has him disintegrated.

    Ellen Landry 

Ellen Landry

Played by: Rekha Sharma

An imprisoned Terran Empire officer and an ally of that universe's Gabriel Lorca.

    "Saru" 

"Saru"

Played by: Doug Jones

A nameless Kelpian slave who serves as Burnham's personal attendant on the Shenzhou. Burnham names him after his prime universe counterpart.

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Burnham can't bring herself to abuse this Saru like her counterpart presumably did, which is probably why he leaps into action to save her from Tyler/Voq.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: This Saru is servile and even more cowardly than his prime counterpart, but he is still incredibly strong and effortlessly saves Michael from Tyler/Voq.

The Resistance

    "The Firewolf" 

Voq

Played by: Javid Iqbalnote 

The leader of the resistance, an albino Klingon whose sense of honor compels him to unite the oppressed races of the galaxy to overthrow the Terran Empire.

  • Blood Knight: This version of Voq is heroic, but like all Klingons, he relishes battle.
  • Red Baron: Wears the pseudonym (or epithet) of "The Firewolf".
  • Uncertain Doom: "The Wolf Inside" ends with the planet he was hiding on being bombarded by the Emperor. Mirror-Voq knew that an attack was coming, but whether he had time to escape is unclear.

    Sarek 

Sarek

A Vulcan known as "The Prophet" for his great psychic powers.


Others

Alien Beings and Entities

    "May Ahern" 

May Ahern

Played by: Bahia Watson

A lifeform from the mycelial network that infects Tilly and appears to her in the form of a childhood friend of hers.

  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Takes the form of May to gain Tilly's trust. It backfires when Tilly learns that May died years ago and realizes that something sinister is going on.
  • Black and White Insanity: Since May doesn't fully understand species outside of the network, she considers anything from our dimension that harms her people to be a deliberate attack deserving of death. Tilly manages to educate her before she goes too far.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: She doesn't understand how non-fungal species work. She's annoyed that Tilly is upset at May's infecting her and misinterprets Culber's attempts to defend himself from the spores as attempted genocide.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: She came to this universe and infected Tilly to put an end to the spore drive because it is harming her own dimension.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Why "May" takes on the form that it does in order to communicate with Ensign Tilly.

    The Pahvans 

Pahvans

Inhabitants of the planet Pahvo, who try to bring about a peace deal between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

  • Actual Pacifist: Not violent at all, and they try to bring Starfleet and the Klingons together to prompt a peace treaty.
  • Energy Beings: The Pahvans manifest as clouds of blue-white energy with a vaguely humanoid form. Spore-like clouds also suffuse the structure that shelters their visitors.
  • Genius Loci: All life on the surface of Pahvo, as well as the planet itself, is an interconnected living being.
  • Organic Technology: Their planetary transmitter is the biggest example, being a blend of crystalline structure and organic plant matter.
  • Power Crystal: Pahvo includes a titanic crystalline spire that functions as an electromagnetic transmitter. Burnham, Saru and Tyler beam down to the planet to analyze it as a means of finding a way though the Klingons' cloaking devices.
  • Suicidal Pacifist: Could easily have turned out as this, since while Starfleet was willing to send someone to answer their call, General Kol fully intended to destroy their planet and move on. Fortunately, the crew of Discovery were able to defend the planet and destroy the Ship of the Dead with Kol on it.

    The "Red Angel" 

The "Red Angel"

A mysterious entity said to be responsible for seven energetic red bursts spread out throughout the galaxy — and intertwined somehow with both Burnham and Spock.

  • Anonymous Benefactor: The first signal investigated by Discovery seems to have been made solely so someone could find the crashed U.S.S. Hiawatha. The second had them arrive just in time to save a planet from an extinction level event. In the past, the Red Angel appeared to Spock and led him to Burnham when she was lost on Vulcan.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: It certainly seems to have a motif of the colour red.
  • Driving Question: Of the second season. What is it, and what are its intentions?
  • Outside-Context Problem: For Starfleet, as they cannot figure out what could make seven powerful signals appear at once spanning half the galaxy.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Or, more accurately, red signals.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Specifically brought up by Pike while discussing the angel. He recalls that Clarke's Third Law eventually picked up another corollary: "Any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial is indistinguishable from God".

    Ripper 

Ripper

A strange and incredibly powerful alien creature resembling a giant tardigrade that was found on board the derelict U.S.S. Glenn.

  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: Its claws can rend starship hulls with ease.
  • Animalistic Abomination: A benevolent example. Reality-warping powers aside, all it really wants is its freedom.
  • Badass Adorable: It's an oversized tardigrade which can shrug off disruptor fire and bat'leth attacks... and then kill the offending half dozen Klingon warriors who pissed it off using the above.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Like real tardigrades, it can survive in hard vacuum (although it teleports elsewhere after a moment's hesitation).
  • Berserk Button: While normally docile, Ripper quickly becomes homicidal if threatened.
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: If you just let this Ripper be and remember to feed it, nothing much happens. Heck, you might even get yourself an Ugly Cute, yet top-notch, navigator if you play your cards right. However... try hurting or distressing this particular tardigrade, and then it lives up to the name.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Its hide can withstand attacks from bat'leths and the kill setting on phasers without a scratch.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Ripper is not naturally predatory and didn't destroy the Glenn out of malice: it's a docile animal that was exploited in painful scientific experiments, responds to threats with deadly force, and reacts in pain when the spore drive is activated. It's genuinely heart-breaking to see it put through the wringer to provide navigation for the spore drive.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Its real name, if it has one, is unknown. Landry dubs it "Ripper" because that's what it looks like.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: It is the key to using the spore drive to travel great distances, acting like a living navigational computer through its symbiosis with the spores.
  • Put on a Bus: Burnham and Tilly release it into space with Saru's permission at the end of "Choose Your Pain", as the spore drive was slowly killing it.
  • Smarter Than You Look: In a very specific way, yes. This giant, armoured ball of a teddy-bug can embarrass a homing pigeon's navigational processing ability and make Starfleet super computers look primitive. Culber's analysis indicates it may be sentient.
  • Starfish Alien: a particularly effective one. Ripper was implied to be highly intelligent, but had difficulty communicating with humans and humanoids, who tended to assume that it was a mindless, dangerous creature.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Despite supposedly only attacking in self-defense, it seems hellbent on killing the away team aboard the Glenn, going so far as to methodically tear through the metal bulkheads and crawl through an Airvent Passageway to get them. Of course, being the Sole Survivor of a horrific accident may have messed with its head somewhat.
  • Wall Crawl: Despite being as large and heavy as a grizzly, it can crawl along the ceiling with ease. It probably helps that the metals it is clinging to are certainly strong enough to support its weight and claws that can dig into the metal.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Like Lorca, it has an aversion to light.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Even Saru, an alien rescued by Star Fleet officers, seems to assume, like the rest of Discovery's human and humanoid alien crew, that Ripper can't be sentient because it doesn't walk on two legs, speak English, or drink tea. Even when confronted with scientific evidence that the "Tardigrade" has a complex mind and a sensory system that registers pain, and clear emotional responses to pain, Dr. Culber and other Star Fleet officers are dismissive of those advocating for Ripper. Eventually, Saru gets over this, possibly because of his own back story as a member of a "prey species" rescued from mortal danger by Star Fleet, and Michael and Tilly's persistence and scientific credibility wins over Culber and Stamets, and Saru gives them the go-ahead to free Ripper.
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