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I'm a doctor, not a...

Dr Leonard McCoy's much-parodied signature phrase

“He’s dead, Jim” remains Dr Leonard McCoy’s most famous and oft-quoted catchphrase, but the irascible medic was equally fond of pointing out his own limitations at times of stress by proclaiming “I’m a doctor, not a…” (fill in the blank as appropriate) and variations thereof. For instance:

“What am I, a doctor or a moon-shuttle conductor?” (The Corbomite Maneuver)

“I don’t know, Jim. This is a big ship. I’m just a country doctor.” (The Alternative Factor)

“Me, I’m a doctor. If I were an officer of the line...” (A Taste of Armageddon)

“I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer.” (The Devil in the Dark)

“I’m a surgeon, not a psychiatrist.” (The City on the Edge of Forever)

“I’m not a scientist or a physicist, Mr Spock...” (Metamorphosis)

“Look, I’m a doctor, not an escalator.” (Friday’s Child)

“I’m a doctor, not a mechanic.” (The Doomsday Machine)

“I’m a doctor, not an engineer.” (Mirror, Mirror)

“I’m not a magician, Spock, just an old country doctor.” (The Deadly Years)

“I’m a doctor, not a coal miner.” (The Empath)

Starfleet medical personnel from later incarnations of Trek picked up the catchphrase, like Deep Space Nine’s Dr Bashir (“I’m a doctor, not a botanist”), and Voyager’s holographic doctor took it to knowing limits of absurdity (“I’m a doctor, not a counter-insurgent”).

McCoy’s signature phrase has been parodied on everything from Saturday Night Live to Family Guy, and DeForest Kelley himself nodded to it on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In (“I’m not a doctor, I’m a convicted murderer”) and a TV advert for Trivial Pursuit (“How should I know? I’m an actor, not a doctor”).

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