Chapel abandoned a career in bio-research for a position in Starfleet, in the hopes that a deep-space assignment would one day reunite her with her fiancé, Dr. Roger Korby – a scientist of renown, incommunicado from his expedition to Exo III since 2261.
On stardate 2712.4, the Enterprise reached Exo III. Korby was found, exploring and exploiting a sophisticated android manufacturing technology, the legacy of a long-dead civilization. Korby had replaced his own damaged body, transplanting his personality into an android replica, and had built himself a beautiful companion, Andrea. After exhibiting his madness, the android Korby was destroyed. Initially, Chapel doubted if she should stay aboard, but she elected to remain with the Enterprise throughout the five-year mission. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?")
By 2267 there were occasional times when Chapel was called upon to help other doctors and sometimes with McCoy being the patient. But she also knew when it was a good idea to be supportive of Dr. McCoy even when others questioned whether he could be so reliable. On stardate 3478.2 such an event happened. When Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Lieutenant Arlene Galway contracted the mysterious rapid aging syndrome on the planet Gamma Hydra IV due to the radiation left by a passing comet, Chapel was called upon to help the visiting Dr. Janet Wallace to try and help comfort, if not cure Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Lt. Galway (unfortunately before a cure was discovered Galway died of old age.) Later when Dr. McCoy, with Spock's help, figured out that it was increased adrenaline levels that kept Ensign Pavel Chekov from developing the syndrome, Chapel instinctively knew that McCoy would be able to figure out an antidote for the rapid aging syndrome in time for him to cure himself, Kirk, Spock and Scotty, and stood up for him against the questioning of that wisdom out of Dr. Wallace and visiting Commodore Stocker, but also still let it be known that Dr. Wallace could be of great assistance to her and Dr. McCoy. Sure enough Chapel's wisdom was born out when McCoy did find the antidote in time to save himself, Kirk, Spock and Scotty. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")
In 2268, there were times though that both Dr. McCoy could greatly confuse Chapel, as well as when she would be put into danger. On stardate 4657.5, Chapel was in the Enterprise sickbay when McCoy and the Kelvan Tomar brought in Spock, from the surface of the Class M planet where the landing party had met the Kelvans. McCoy told her that Spock was close to dying, when Chapel could tell that wasn't true. This was a ruse by both McCoy and Spock on the orders of Kirk, because Kirk wanted them up on the ship to help stop the Kelvans from taking the ship to the Andromeda Galaxy and Spock had put himself into a Vulcan vacation trance to trick the Kelvans into thinking he was truly gravely ill. McCoy had to hint to Chapel to keep quiet, who did take the hint but still remained confused. On stardate 4658.9, the Kelvans still went ahead and hijacked the Enterprise to go to the Andromeda Galaxy and Dr. McCoy complained to Kirk that he had watched four of his best doctors and nurses, including Chapel, be neutralized into dehydrated cuboctahedral crystalline solid blocks, the size of a human fist and which represented the "distilled" essences of their being because they were considered by the Kelvans to be non-essential personnel. Chapel and the other doctors and nurses were restored to normal after Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty, the only four not neutralized, regained control of the Enterprise. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
Chapel displayed mothering "instincts", even if she never did become a mother herself. On stardate 5029.5, when the Starnes Exploration Party children were on board she both knew, instinctively, what activities might both amuse them and keep them calm. But at the same time she was the first to notice, and then reported to Dr. McCoy, how the children didn't cry for their recently deceased parents. (TOS: "And the Children Shall Lead")
Two times Chapel showed how wonderful her skills were at being a lab assistant. On stardate 5693.2, she assisted Dr. McCoy in developing the diluted theragen derivative to cure the mental degradation effects caused by the interphase as the Enterprise was passing through Tholian space. She also assisted Dr. McCoy by administering the cure throughout the ship and assisting him in the transporter room in administering the tri-ox compound to Kirk when he was beamed aboard from the USS Defiant. On stardate 5710.5, Chapel assisted Spock and Dr. McCoy in synthesizing an agent to counteract the hyper-acceleration effects of the Scalosian water. (TOS: "The Tholian Web", "Wink of an Eye")
Relationship with Spock
Even while she still sought to locate Korby, Chapel was deeply infatuated with the Enterprise's half-Vulcan science officer, Spock. While her attraction never interfered with her professional duties, it was an ongoing source of tension and bemusement throughout the five-year mission.
Initially, Chapel kept these feelings to herself. However, when the Psi 2000 intoxication afflicted the crew of the Enterprise, Chapel admitted her love for Spock, who was shocked:
- "I'm in love with you, Mr. Spock. You, the Human Mr. Spock... the Vulcan Mr. Spock.... I see things... how honest you are. I know how you feel. You hide it, but you do have feelings. Oh, how we must hurt you... torture you."
Chapel insisted that Spock address her by her first name, as opposed to her title, which he resisted. Chapel was unaware that Spock's inability to react to her emotionally was further complicated by his betrothal to T'Pring. Leading him to the ceremony in which his fiancée rejected him in favor of a different suitor, Spock underwent a period of intense emotional outbursts: a blood fever known as pon farr. Chapel characteristically doted after the Vulcan, preparing plomeek soup, a traditional Vulcan broth. The experience allowed them to discuss, even if briefly, Chapel's confession of love. Despite his acknowledged inability to return her affections, he did refer to her as Christine for the first time. (TOS: "The Naked Time", "Amok Time")
Chapel's longing for Spock was well-known among crew members, and noted openly by Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy on a number of occasions. During Spock's recovery after a near-death experience on Neural, fellow medical officer Dr. M'Benga caught Chapel tenderly holding Spock's hand while watching his recovery on the medical panel atop his bed. M'Benga was sympathetic, despite Chapel's attempt to hide her feelings. Chapel later pro-actively aided Spock by secretly holding his consciousness to keep him from being destroyed by Henoch. (TOS: "A Private Little War", "Return to Tomorrow")
Three years after confessing her love to Spock, Chapel finally shared a kiss with him. Unfortunately, the situation was forced by powerful telekinetics, compelling Chapel to admit that, despite her long-standing desire to be close with the Vulcan, all she wanted to do, given the humiliation of the situation, was "crawl away and die." (TOS: "Plato's Stepchildren")
When under the influence of the women of Taurus II, the male crew members of the Enterprise were incapacitated by the siren's song. Lieutenant Uhura took command of the vessel, and assigned Chapel to acting chief medical officer. They led a landing party down to the planet's surface to rescue Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy. (TAS: "The Lorelei Signal")
While in miniaturized state, Chapel assisted Dr. McCoy in mending Hikaru Sulu's broken leg; as she attempted to retrieve a microscope laser, she tripped into the lab fish tank and nearly drowned, before she was saved by Captain Kirk.
At some point following the events on Dramia II (TAS: "Albatross"), Chapel was able to complete her medical degree. Chapel returned to the Enterprise at the end of its refit, as chief medical officer.
Upon the return of Dr. McCoy during the V'Ger crisis, he explained to Kirk that he was "going to need a top nurse not a doctor who will argue every little diagnosis with me."
In 2286, she was stationed at Starfleet Headquarters, where she coordinated relief efforts while Earth was suffering a severe ecological "attack" from an orbiting space probe. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
- "The Naked Time" (TOS Season 1)
- "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
- "Operation -- Annihilate!"
- "Amok Time" (TOS Season 2)
- "The Changeling"
- "The Deadly Years"
- "Journey to Babel"
- "A Private Little War"
- "The Immunity Syndrome"
- "By Any Other Name"
- "Return to Tomorrow"
- "Elaan of Troyius" (TOS Season 3)
- "The Paradise Syndrome"
- "The Enterprise Incident"
- "And the Children Shall Lead"
- "Spock's Brain"
- "The Tholian Web"
- "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"
- "Plato's Stepchildren"
- "Wink of an Eye"
- "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"
- "The Lights of Zetar"
- "The Way to Eden"
- "Turnabout Intruder"
- Star Trek films
In his reference book The World of Star Trek (3rd ed., p. 28), writer David Gerrold reckoned that the character of Christine Chapel "was obviously created specifically" to love Spock and went on to say, "The need to dramatize Spock's Vulcan aloofness requires that a woman fall in love with him and be continually rebuffed. Hence, Nurse Chapel."
Christine Chapel was played by Majel Barrett.
The script of "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" includes the following description of Chapel; "She's a strong, calm woman, very much in control of herself which emphasizes only more for us the flickers of emotions that do occasionally show through." Also, as scripted for that episode, Chapel's abandonment of a career in bio-research was stated to have been specifically for a position aboard the Enterprise, though this ultimately changed to being an assignment aboard a generic vessel. 
Christine Chapel proved to be highly unpopular among fans of Star Trek's original series. "It was because of her love for Spock and his occasional moments of gentleness toward her that Christine Chapel was largely disliked among the Trekkies who adored Spock," explained David Gerrold. "Female fans saw her as a threat to their own fantasies and male fans saw her as a threat to Spock's Vulcan stoicism." However, the fans who met Majel Barrett were often surprised by how beautiful she was. Gerrold concluded, "They just couldn't see it in her as Chapel because of the relationship between her and Spock." (The World of Star Trek, 3rd ed., p. 28) Another difficulty was due to the fact that the role was not fleshed out, which frustrated Barrett herself as well as the show's producers, notably Robert Justman. (Star Trek Magazine issue 144, p. 14)
In Star Trek: The Animated Series, the voice for the character of Chapel was provided by Majel Barrett, reprising the role from TOS.
Christine Chapel was intended to be included in the ultimately aborted television series Star Trek: Phase II, in which her promotion to doctor was planned to be established. The Writers'/Directors' Guide for that series said of the character, "Introduced in Star Trek I as Nurse Chapel, her medical degrees have been accepted by Starfleet, and she has returned to the U.S.S. Enterprise to serve as McCoy's associate. She is second in command of the ship's medical section, and McCoy seems to enjoy passing on to her every duty he finds too boring, irritating or annoying to himself. Yet outside of Captain Kirk, she is probably McCoy's closest confidante. An expert in psychotherapy, she has unusual ability to teach patients how to use the healing powers of their own bodies." (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 119)
In character notes that Gene Roddenberry wrote for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Chapel was mentioned in the note about Dr. McCoy and was described as being influenced by the fact that McCoy was dealing with a great deal of pressure at the time of the film, even to the point of almost causing him to suffer a nervous breakdown. The section regarding Chapel stated, "[She] must take on an overly large portion of the load of treating the sick, and is likewise subject to breakage." (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 102) Majel Barrett was delighted that, in The Motion Picture, Chapel was promoted to doctor status and that she herself was not required to ruin her hair by dying it blond to match her TOS appearances as Chapel. In the film, Barrett's portrayal of Chapel was partly based on the description of the character from the Writers'/Directors' Guide for Phase II. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 119) Her appearance in The Motion Picture is in keeping with the fact that long hairstyles were disallowed in that film. (The Making of Star Trek, p. 142)
Little canonical information exists about Chapel's life outside of her career in Starfleet.
Simon and Schuster's officially licensed Star Trek: Starship Creator interactive software, written by production staffer Michael Okuda, lists some supplemental biographical details on Chapel. It mentions she is the child of Lauren Chapel and Patterson Chapel of New Orleans, Louisiana, Earth; and has an interest in ballet. Other information includes a birth date in 2237, Starfleet Medical Academy Nursing Degree in 2266 and doctorate by 2271. She graduated in the 98th percentile of her class, with degrees in bioresearch, medical archeology, and endocrinology. It assigns her original rank as a "brevet" (or provisional) ensign, and states that she rose to become the director of Starfleet Emergency Operations by the time of her Star Trek IV appearance.
In Peter David's New Frontier novel Renaissance, Scotty mistakes one of the characters, Morgan Primus, the mother of Robin Lefler, as "Christine". It was also suggested in that series that Primus was actually Christopher Pike's "Number One". This mistaken identification was a joke referring to the fact that both roles were played by the same actress.
|Chief medical officers of the starships Enterprise|
|USS Enterprise:||April • Boyce • Piper • McCoy • Chapel|
|USS Enterprise-D:||Crusher • Pulaski • Ogawa|
|ISS Enterprise NX-01:||Phlox|
|ISS Enterprise (NCC-1701):||McCoy|
|USS Enterprise (alternate reality):||Puri • McCoy|
- Christine Chapel at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- Christine Chapel at Wikipedia
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