Star Trek made Leonard “Bones” McCoy famous for his unique catchphrase but it wasn’t as spoken as much as you’d think.
Star Trek is known for its often-quoted, but rarely accurate catchphrases. The most notorious of which is “Beam me up, Scotty”. It’s misquoted quite a bit but it’s highly associated with James T Kirk and the original series. A less misquoted and often repeated line involves that of Leonard McCoy, aka “Bones”.
It’s of course his infamous line “Dammit Jim (man), I’m a doctor, not a….” and then you fill in the blank. It’s become so famous and highly associated with the character thanks to the original series that it was one of few things that went from the original series to the Kelvin Universe.
It’s iconic and said quite often; right? Well, no. While not misquoted, much like the eponymous redshirts, it isn’t as prevalent as you may think. In fact, according to Ladies Who Trek on Twitter/X, it’s actually only been heard in five of the original 79 episodes of Star Trek.
That’s 6%, or 6.329% to be exact. That’s not a lot to hear something on repeat for it to be a line so synonymous with a character.
Star Trek’s most quoted line by Bones lends itself to some hilarity
Now, you can write the line for dramatic emphasis; “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a soldier!” but the parodies of the line are where the real money is at. “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a proctor!” I’m pretty sure that hasn’t been used, but go ahead and use it if it tickles your fancy.
It’s a fun and cheeky line, just like “Beam me up, Scotty” or, “Make it so”. It’s just one of those things that reinforce your fandom and let everyone else know that you’re part of the Trek Tribe.
We’re not sure why it’s lasted decades and why the Kelvin Timeline had Karl Urban keep it alive in the newer films, but it’s pretty iconic when it comes to the Star Trek zeitgeist. So the why of it isn’t important to us.
The fact that it is important is what matters to us.