Is McCoy from Georgia?

I noted on Twitter and Facebook recently that McCoy does not do well in the cold. He tells Spock to “Leave me here!” after collapsing in Sarpeidon’s ice age in All Our Yesterdays and succumbs to the frigid waste of Rura Penthe in The Undiscovered Country with a “Leave me, I’m finished!” to Kirk.

A scene from the Star Trek episode All Our Yesterdays. McCoy has just collapsed in a snow storm and Spock is about to help him.

More than one person replied to those posts with a variation on “Well, he’s from Georgia.”

But that’s one of those truisms that fans repeat but for which there is no on-screen confirmation.

The closest we get is McCoy’s reference to a “Georgia-style mint julep” in This Side of Paradise, but that is hardly definitive. It’s possible to like Scotch without being Scottish. 

A scene from the Star Trek episode This Side of Paradise. Dr. McCoy is sitting under a tree, mint julep in hand.

We almost got to see McCoy speak proudly of his birthplace in the episode Spectre of the Gun. The final draft shooting script for The Last Gunfight (as the episode was still called) had McCoy visiting with Doc Holliday over a dental patient in Holliday’s barber chair. McCoy blocks the man’s pain using a pressure-point technique Spock taught him and pulls the tooth using a pair of pliers. Holliday is impressed and the two chat briefly, revealing both were born in Georgia. McCoy specifies Atlanta as his birth city.

A page from the script for the Star Trek episode The Last Gunfight.

That exchange was written by Gene Coon (under his Lee Cronin pen name) in a script dated May 9, 1968, but revisions and polishes followed from Arthur Singer and Fred Freiberger and we never got to see the scene.

We do know that the producers thought of McCoy as a “gallant southern gentleman” born in Georgia. The third revision of the Star Trek Writers/Directors Guide (the show “bible”), dated April 17, 1967, contains the following character description:

It is interesting to note that the previous version of this document, dated August 30, 1966, does not mention Georgia at all.

His birthplace is also given as Georgia in The Making of Star Trek. (Thank you to my friend-in-Trek Karl Tate for pointing this out.) The book is semi-canonical, as it did have Gene Roddenberry’s blessing. Here is its character description, which draws heavily from the 1967 guide:

So, is McCoy from Georgia? Officially, we can’t say as it was never stated on screen. But fandom has long thought so, and there are behind-the-scenes supports for that.

2 Comments

  1. Well, Deforest Kelley was himself from Georgia, and as far as I can tell, used his own accent for the character. So I think that hints that the character is from Georgia as well.

    Joe Haldeman’s Planet of Judgement has a great flashback to McCoy losing his family and deciding to enlist in Starfleet.

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    1. Hi Adam. Yea, absolutely, Kelley’s personal history is another reason fans have long said McCoy is from Georgia. And that makes sense, especially in light of the show bible.
      I own and have read Planet of Judgement but it has been a long time since I last read it. I would guess Haldeman got that idea from the show bible.
      Thanks for reading.

      Like

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