Dr. Joseph M'Benga was a Starfleet doctor who performed his medical internship on Vulcan. This question asks why he didn't operate on the Vulcan Sarek in "Journey to Babel". The answer to that question establishes the timeline:

  • M'Benga completes his internship on Vulcan.
  • M'Benga is assigned as chief medical officer of the Enterprise under Captain Pike.
  • "In 2267, however, M'Benga returned to Vulcan to further his studies."
  • The events of Journey to Babel (S2E10) occur. M'Benga is not aboard to help Sarek.
  • M'Benga is re-assigned to the Enterprise.
  • The events of A Private Little War (S2E19) occur. This time, M'Benga is available and helps Spock.

But the chronology of season 3 raise another question.

  • Spock's Brain (S3E1) is abducted. M'Benga does not appear in this episode, even though he clearly would be the best person to take care of Spock's body and reattach it to his brain. Instead, those duties are performed by Dr. McCoy.
  • However, M'Benga appears again in That Which Survives (S3E17). There is no mention of him leaving the ship between his two appearances.

What is the in-universe explanation why Dr. M'Benga didn't take care of Spock in the episode Spock's Brain? (Support your answer with sources, no opinions.)

  • 7
    It's a seriously bad idea to cross TOS and SNW continuities and I hope that becomes more difficult as SNW continues. The out universe answer is "Dude! M'Benga was in 2 episodes. It's just a show and there's not going to be an answer to everything." Dec 31, 2022 at 5:22
  • 3
    It's still a well-developed and well-thought-out question. +1. Jan 4 at 23:18
  • 2
    There is no in-universe explanation.
    – Lexible
    Jan 6 at 5:47
  • 1
    We often see people leaving for conferences in the Star Trek universe, in SNW, it's a plot point that Nurse Chapel applies for fellowships that lasts as long (or short) as a couple of months. There are a lot of valid reasons why M'Benga might have been off-ship at the time of Spock's Brain, and since TOS focusses on McCoy as the ship's doctor, we're simply not being told why.
    – Philipp
    Aug 7 at 8:00

1 Answer 1


Good question! If we're trying to line up cannon, a more simple answer is to remember that The Enterprise is a military vessel and part of a large exploratory/military organization (Starfleet). In the real-world military, people get re-assigned, take leaves of absence, or leave one position to take another but still serve in the same division. With that in mind, it's by the time Kirk becomes captain, M'Benga is a highly decorated and experienced officer (served on the front lines during the Klingon War, and on Enterprise for more than a decade), so he probably has the authority to cycle on and off the Enterprise according to whatever project/specialty he's doing at a given time. But he still has lots of friends and good memories on Enterprise, so when it matches his schedule, he puts in to do some temporary service with his old shipmates. Seems like lots of former Enterprise crew can't resist coming back aboard - Admiral April, Kirk (MULTIPLE TIMES), Spock, McCoy, etc.

  • 2
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    – Community Bot
    Jul 8 at 4:39
  • 2
    You make a lot of assumptions without backing. The Enterprise, for example, performs important military functions, but it's not necessarily a "military ship." In addition, it is highly unlikely that any decorated officers have the authority to "cycle on and off" starships. In all the Star Trek episodes I've seen, officers have never casually left starships to pursue their own projects. Jul 8 at 4:40

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