Majel Roddenberry played Nurse Chapel for three seasons
Every doctor needs a nurse, and Majel Roddenberry was Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy’s nurse for three seasons on Star Trek: The Original Series. As she wasn’t considered a main character, there wasn’t a whole lot for her to do, although she was given some interesting scenes every now and then. Still, it wasn’t enough to really make her stand out as a character…at least not in Roddenberry’s opinion.
Being quoted in Star Trek A Celebration, Roddenberry had previously said that Nurse Chapel wasn’t that interesting of a character, and that she didn’t care for her very much. But many fans took a liking to the charming nurse and wanted to see her and Mr. Spock unite, especially after some of their more intense scenes like on “Amok Time.”
Majel Roddenberry wanted to be on Star Trek after the first pilot
Roddenberry played Number One on the original pilot of Star Trek, but when that didn’t get picked up, she was out of a job, just like several other characters. When a second pilot was ordered, she was determined to get on the show, saying “they weren’t going to keep me out of this thing.” So she dyed her hair blonde and managed to look like a totally different character than Number One.
In the original script for “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” Christine was a doctor going after her fiancé. That changed when she got the part to a nurse, and that bothered Roddenberry, who called Chapel a “namby-pamby type of woman.” She thought, overall, Nurse Chapel wasn’t too smart, and often wished Number One was there instead of Chapel.
It’s not surprising Roddenberry didn’t like the character. Most of the women on Star Trek: The Original Series didn’t have much depth to them as the stories didn’t revolve around the women. They were there to be pretty, wear short skirts, and occasionally flirt with the captain, Spock, or other males aboard the ship. Going from the second in command of a starship to a nurse who was only in 25 of the 79 episodes had to sting more than a little. So Roddenberry’s dislike was understandable. Still, she was part of Star Trek, and for that alone, she cemented her place in history.