I don't understand how/why McCoy would be able to help with the torpedo setup. He's a doctor, not an engineer.

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    Perhaps they needed his steady hands. Mar 10, 2021 at 14:26
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    "He's a doctor, not an engineer" — you've missed a "Damnit, Jim" in there. Mar 10, 2021 at 18:19
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    @PaulD.Waite youtube.com/watch?v=_suzpmJ8nGc
    – OrangeDog
    Mar 11, 2021 at 9:20
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    @OrangeDog Next you’ll be claiming that Kirk never said “Beam me up, Scotty”. Mar 11, 2021 at 9:27
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    The same question and answer applies to Into Darkness (ew) Mar 11, 2021 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


We get a little more info (and a different version of the dialogue) in the film's official novelisation. In short, McCoy evidently has a reasonable knowledge of the systems involved and the best person for the job, Scott, is otherwise occupied. Plus it's fiddly work and he's got surgeon's hands.

Kirk finished. "Precisely. They may be unable to completely cloak the exhaust products of their impulse engines. But accurate targeting will prove difficult." Kirk did not quite smile. "The portable equipment in the science lab, for atmospheric analysis . . ."

Spock nodded. The doctor's eyes widened as he looked from the Vulcan to the captain and back.

"That's it, then," McCoy said cheerfully.

"Pretty delicate work, though, and Scotty's tied up in Engineering right now." He started for the lift. "I'm going to perform surgery on a torpedo. You never know. . ." Spock glanced at the captain and, after receiving a nod, accompanied McCoy. "You may need assistance, Doctor."

As the lift doors snapped open, McCoy gave the Vulcan a sly glance. "Fascinating. .

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    When do you think was the last time McCoy did actual surgery? Mar 11, 2021 at 2:57
  • @MarkRansom - It's not all lasers, you know.
    – Valorum
    Mar 11, 2021 at 7:34
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    @MarkRansom Does rocket surgery not count? Mar 11, 2021 at 16:58
  • @user253751 No, but brain science does. Mar 11, 2021 at 17:15
  • @DJClayworth but he was augmented when he did that. Mar 11, 2021 at 17:18

In the movie, the other characters think that Mccoy can do it because they compare it to doing surgery on a torpedo. While he may not know how the torpedo works, he has enough experience manipulating fine components and he has the guidance of other Starfleet personnel.

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