Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha

For the mirror universe counterpart, please see Hugh Culber (mirror).
"One tends to worry when they're doomed to love a brilliant but reckless maniac who's willing to risk his life for glory."
– Hugh Culber to Paul Stamets, 2256 ("Choose Your Pain")

Commander Hugh Culber was a Human male Starfleet officer who lived during both the mid-23rd and late 32nd centuries. He served as a physician and counselor aboard the USS Discovery. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain")

Early life

At the age of sixteen, Culber was injured in a fall while hiking on the cliffs of Cabo Rojo, on Earth. Culber was rescued by a Doctor Kashkooli, who stitched and closed a puncture wound on his shoulder, which gave him a "very sexy scar.", as described by Paul Stamets. The experience inspired Culber to go to medical school. (DIS: "The Sound of Thunder")

Starfleet career

23rd century

Federation-Klingon war

During the war in 2256, Culber served with his husband, Lieutenant Paul Stamets, aboard the USS Discovery.

In 2256, Culber treated Stamets after he was injured in an unsuccessful test of the Discovery's spore drive. (DIS: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry")

In December of 2256, Specialist Michael Burnham introduced Culber to "Ripper", a tardigrade, after coming to believe that Ripper was experiencing pain during the starship's spore jumps. Culber agreed to run some tests. Scans of Ripper's frontal lobe showed significant cumulative deterioration every time Discovery went to black alert. The next time Discovery went to black alert, Ripper collapsed into a state of extreme cryptobiosis, reducing water content levels to one percent. Culber could barely detect Ripper's vital signs, and neurological tests indicated Ripper was possibly sentient. Acting Captain Saru ordered Culber to re-hydrate Ripper for more spore jumps. Culber refused the order, stating that he would "not be party to murder." Saru then ordered Lieutenant Stamets to carry out the order. Unbeknownst to Commander Saru, Lieutenant Stamets injected himself with Ripper's DNA and operated the spore drive in place of Ripper. Stamets rationalized to Culber that he knew he would leave him if he allowed anything else to happen to Ripper. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain")

Following the Battle at Pahvo, when Stamets entered a state of catatonia, Culber believed his moments of lucidity were merely insane ramblings. (DIS: "Despite Yourself")

Tyler snaps Dr. Culber's neck

After Ash Tyler experienced nightmares of having undergone surgery following Klingon imprisonment, he asked Culber to perform an examination on him. Culber discovered that Tyler's skeletal structure and organs had been surgically altered and that the Tyler personality had been overlaid over that of someone else. This led him to try to ground Tyler, which triggered a reaction in Tyler, who broke Culber's neck, killing him. (DIS: "Despite Yourself") It was later discovered that Culber had been correct and that Ash Tyler's personality had overlaid that of Voq, a Klingon. (DIS: "The Wolf Inside")

For his service during the Federation-Klingon War, Culber was posthumously awarded the Starfleet Medal of Honor. Paul Stamets accepted the award on Culber's behalf. (DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?")

Unbeknownst to anyone, when Stamets had cradled Culber after his death in one of his moments of lucidity, he had unknowingly drawn Culber's essence into the mycelial network where the jahSepp regarded Culber as a "monster" as he inadvertently killed many of them while defending himself as the network began attacking Culber as a foreign body. (DIS: "The Wolf Inside", "Saints of Imperfection")


Part of Hugh Culber that survived in mycelial space

In 2257, during a mission into the mycelial network to rescue Sylvia Tilly, Culber was found by Stamets, Burnham, Tilly and the jahSepp incarnation of May Ahearn who had sought out Tilly's help to deal with the "monster" in the network. After Culber's DNA was added to the jahSepp cocoon in the outside universe, May and the jahSepp were able to rebuild Culber's body through the cocoon, resurrecting him.

After his resurrection, Culber was subjected to extensive scans. (DIS: "Saints of Imperfection") Doctor Tracy Pollard ran every scan or test she could think of on Culber, to the point that Culber thought there wasn't a scan or test that she had not performed. While the scans showed his new body was healthy, Culber's body was completely new, with even the old scar on his shoulder gone. Pollard advised Culber that it would take time for him to get used to his new body and that, while she would continue to monitor his condition, he could resume a normal life. (DIS: "The Sound of Thunder")

Culber was reinstated in his post by Captain Christopher Pike, and helped in an operation on Essof IV to capture the Red Angel. (DIS: "The Red Angel")

Culber decided to transfer to the USS Enterprise, but he eventually changed his mind, when he realized that his place was with Stamets on the Discovery. He was among multiple crewmembers who volunteered to stay on board when Burnham took the ship forward into the 32nd century, to elude Control, with no chance of coming back. Along with the rest of the volunteering crew, Culber was presumed dead by Starfleet, based on the testimonies of the Enterprise senior officers. (DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow", "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2")

32nd century

After Discovery arrived in the year 3189, Culber helped the crew adjust to their new lives in a time in which everyone they had known had died centuries earlier. In particular he helped Keyla Detmer deal with her guilt at being the one who piloted Discovery through the wormhole to the future. (DIS: "Forget Me Not")

Following Discovery's finding of Federation Headquarters, Culber was interrogated and debriefed by a security hologram about his "death". He was then part of the away team that boarded the USS Tikhov to retrieve a seed sample from Urna to help a group of Kili refuges with a prion infection. Culber then helped the doctors treat the refugees.(DIS: "Die Trying")

He also treated Philippa Georgiou for a unique condition which arose from her travelling across universes as well as through time. (DIS: "The Sanctuary", DIS: "Terra Firma, Part 1")

During an investigation into the Burn, Culber was beamed down to wreckage of the KSF Khi'eth in the Verubin Nebula with Burnham and Saru. During this time, a holoprogram disguised him as a Bajoran in an outfit that hid his medical supplies and away mission gear. When Osyraa attacked the USS Discovery, he elected to stay behind with Saru and Su'Kal on Theta Zeta they were on. Culber, along with Saru, Adira, and Gray Tal were able to convince Su'Kal to turn off the holo-program. He promised Gray that he, Adira and Stamets would help him be seen again by all. Culber and the others were then beamed aboard Discovery. Culber and Adira were then reunited with Stamets upon their return to Federation Headquarters. Culber, like the rest of crew, updated their uniforms and accepted Burnham as Discovery's new captain. (DIS: "Su'Kal", "That Hope Is You, Part 2")

Five months later, Dr. Culber was present for the re-opening ceremony of Starfleet Academy, and had the chance to voice appreciation to Federation President Laira Rillak. Follow the recovery of the Deep Space Repair Beta Six escape vessel's second trip, Culber found Commander Nalas deceased. (DIS: "Kobayashi Maru")



Background information

Culber is portrayed by Wilson Cruz. He stated about the character, "It was important for me, when we were developing Doctor Culber, that he had this big heart, but he was also someone who was formidable, who could stand up to authority, who, you know, had no problem voicing his opinions and insisting on going the right way. So, I think we achieved that." (AT: "Despite Yourself")

External links