L'Rell was a 23rd century Klingon warrior, a follower of T'Kuvma. She later led the Klingon Empire as head of the Klingon High Council, a position she first used to end the Federation-Klingon War of the mid-2250s.
When she came of age, her mother presented her with a knife and demanded she cut her own heart in half if she would not choose to belong to one House or the other, due to the heavy feuds between the Klingon Houses during this time period. Instead, L'Rell chose to build a bridge, embracing T'Kuvma's philosophy that the Klingon Houses should not be divided by bitter blood feuds but work together as one united Klingon people. (DIS: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry")
Serving House T'Kuvma
In 2256, L'Rell reported to T'Kuvma that their flagship's long-range sensors had detected Starfleet reinforcements en route, prompting T'Kuvma to order Voq to light the Beacon of Kahless. (DIS: "The Vulcan Hello") Following the Klingons' victory in the ensuing Battle of the Binary Stars, L'Rell and Voq proclaimed T'Kuvma as T'Kuvma "the Unforgettable" to the Klingon High Council. After the Council leaders returned to Qo'noS, she informed T'Kuvma that all surviving Federation starships had gone into hiding and posed no threat. (DIS: "Battle at the Binary Stars")
L'Rell was one of T'Kuvma's closest followers for many years, and did not object when he chose Voq as his right hand and heir. After T'Kuvma was killed shortly thereafter at the Battle of the Binary Stars, she faithfully followed Voq as the new leader of House T'Kuvma. When he asked her about this several months later, she said that she trusted T'Kuvma's judgement, as he saw a devotion and sense of purpose in Voq that so many of the other Klingons from powerful Great Houses lacked. Moreover, she did not look forward to the compromises and restrictions that would accompany such a position of political leadership: as she explained, she preferred the greater freedom of action which would come as Voq's greatest champion, enforcer, and defender – without having to worry about political entanglements.
When Kol transported aboard the Sarcophagus and convinced most of its crew to mutiny and abandon Voq, L'Rell appeared to go along with Kol's plans. Kol ordered her to kill Voq immediately, however, L'Rell convinced Kol to exile Voq to the wreck of the USS Shenzhou. L'Rell then transported aboard the Shenzhou herself and revealed she was still loyal to Voq. (DIS: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry")
L'Rell secretly supervised the choH'a' procedure which transformed Voq into a replica of the Human Ash Tyler. Before the procedure was performed, she became pregnant by Voq; when she discovered this, she had the fetus removed and gestated ex utero. (DIS: "Despite Yourself", "Point of Light")
Serving House Kor
Soon after, L'Rell was the captain of a D7-class battle cruiser. This ship served as a prison ship. Among her many duties, she was an interrogator and torturer. Her prisoners included Harry Mudd and Ash Tyler. According to Tyler, L'Rell had taken an "interest" in him; something which Tyler forced himself to utilize in order to stay alive, leading her to rape him. A month after leaving Voq aboard the Shenzhou, L'Rell captured Gabriel Lorca, captain of the USS Discovery and interrogated him. She suffered burns from a phaser blast to the left side of her face during Lorca and Tyler's escape attempt. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain")
After recovering from her injuries, which left extensive scarring, L'Rell returned to the Sarcophagus, ostensibly to interrogate Vice Admiral Katrina Cornwell. L'Rell attempted to ingratiate herself with Kol, arguing that her talents would be useful to his house. However, L'Rell later confided in Cornwell that she intended to defect to the Federation and asked Cornwell to help her get aboard the USS Discovery. L'Rell and Cornwell staged a fight in front of Kol's men, to win the general's trust.
On board the Sarcophagus, L'Rell hid Cornwell in a side room, but discovered to her horror that the room was filled with corpses – including her friends Grafk, Torath and Silrek. The outraged L'Rell vowed to kill Kol and avenge her comrades. L'Rell then feigned pledging fealty to Kol, but Kol saw through the deception and ordered her to be taken away for punishment. (DIS: "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum")
L'Rell was placed in the same side room as Cornwell, and was present when Tyler and Michael Burnham infiltrated the Sarcophagus on a mission to penetrate the ship's cloak. As Tyler and Cornwell were beamed back to the Discovery together, she grabbed hold of her former prisoner and was brought along with the two Starfleet officers just before the Sarcophagus was destroyed. L'Rell was then taken prisoner herself, and placed in Discovery's brig, where Tyler – still traumatized by the events on the Sarcophagus – visited her cell and demanded to know what she did to him. L'Rell told him not to worry, that she would never let "them" hurt him, and then noting, "Soon." (DIS: "Into the Forest I Go")
With the intensity of his memories of being Voq increasing, Tyler went to demand answers from L'Rell of what she had done to him. L'Rell began to repeat the same Klingon prayer regarding Kahless that Voq had recited with T'Kuvma when he died. Voq's personality began to emerge, and he began to recite the prayer with L'Rell. However the prayer did not work as expected as the Tyler personality regained control a few minutes later. At that point he pushed L'Rell back in to her cell and left the brig. (DIS: "Despite Yourself")
After the Voq personality had been fully awakened the Tyler and Voq personalities warred for control. First officer Saru went to L'Rell to ask what had been done, and to request L'Rell's assistance in helping Tyler, who was dying due to the war being waged inside his body. When Tyler was beamed in to her cell, she finally agreed to help Tyler. In sickbay L'Rell removed Voq's brain patterns from Tyler's brain. Realizing that her old friend was gone, L'Rell performed the Klingon death ritual for Voq. (DIS: "Vaulting Ambition")
Once Discovery had returned to the home universe, the mirror universe version of Philippa Georgiou went to interrogate L'Rell. L'Rell was shocked to see Georgiou as T'Kuvma had killed her and the crew of the Sarcophagus had consumed Georgiou's body. When L'Rell refused to divulge the best locations on Qo'noS for a Starfleet landing party to infiltrate the planet, Georgiou began to torture L'Rell for information until Michael Burnham was able to get Georgiou to stop. (DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?")
Leadership of the Empire
After Michael Burnham convinced the mirror universe counterpart of Philippa Georgiou to give up control of the hydro bomb she had planted deep within a volcano on Qo'noS, Burnham gave the detonator to L'Rell. Burnham and Tyler convinced L'Rell to use the detonator to force the Klingon High Council to accept her as the new leader of the Empire. In a speech to the Council, L'Rell gave them a choice to accept her leadership of the Empire and end the war against the Federation or she would detonate the hydro bomb, destroying Qo'noS. Acceding to her demands, Klingon forces broke off their attack on Sector 001 and returned to Klingon space, bringing the war to an end. (DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?")
Some weeks later, L'Rell, now holding the title of High Chancellor, was contacted by Sarek. L'Rell assured Sarek that the Klingons had nothing to do with the seven red bursts that had mysteriously appeared across the galaxy. (DIS: "Brother")
While the USS Discovery investigated the red bursts, L'Rell turned her attention to cementing her rule and promoting unity. To this end, she unveiled the D7 class starship and her plans to have all Klingon Houses adopt it as the backbone of their fleets. Her plans were momentarily derailed when the High Council pushed back against her leadership, in particular the omnipresence of her torchbearer, Ash Tyler. Throughout her rule, L'Rell had been hiding, both from Tyler and the Empire, that she and Voq had had a son. Tyler eventually found out and convinced L'Rell to accept the child and be a family, only for Kol-Sha to kidnap the child to use against her. Kol'Sha's coup was stopped by the intervention of Philippa Georgiou. On Georgiou's advice, L'Rell banished Tyler and arranged for her son to become a monk on Boreth. Pretending that it was Tyler who planned the coup and that it was Kol'Sha who defended her, L'Rell called again for Klingon unity, this time claiming a title more fierce than that of Chancellor: "Mother". (DIS: "Point of Light")
Later that year, Tyler requested L'Rell's aid to arrange the Discovery's safe passage to Boreth as a part of their red burst investigation. L'Rell rendezvoused with the Discovery aboard a D7-class battle cruisier, emphasizing to Captain Pike that Boreth was a sacred planet and forbidden to outsiders, but was eventually persuaded. Tyler initially volunteered to go down to Boreth, but L'Rell considered this 'too risky', as he could reveal L'Rell's deception regarding the true status of Tyler and their child, prompting Captain Pike to go in his place. Following Captain Pike's retrieval of a time crystal from the planet's surface, L'Rell returned to Qo'noS to resume her duties as chancellor. (DIS: "Through the Valley of Shadows")
During the Battle near Xahea, L'Rell aided the Discovery and the USS Enterprise by leading a Klingon armada from a Klingon cleave ship with Tyler at her side, helping ensure Control's eventual defeat. (DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2")
|Leaders of the Klingon Empire|
|Emperors:||Kahless I • Reclaw I • Reclaw II • Sompek • Mur'Eq • Kahless II|
|Chancellors:||2151 Chancellor • 2153 Chancellor • M'Rek • L'Rell • Mow'ga • Gorkon • Azetbur • K'mpec • Gowron • Worf • Martok|
- "The Vulcan Hello" (Season 1)
- "Battle at the Binary Stars"
- "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry"
- "Choose Your Pain"
- "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"
- "Into the Forest I Go"
- "Despite Yourself"
- "Vaulting Ambition"
- "The War Without, The War Within"
- "Will You Take My Hand?"
- "Point of Light" (Season 2)
- "Through the Valley of Shadows"
- "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2"
L'Rell is played by Mary Chieffo.
L'Rell appeared in an extended scene from "Battle at the Binary Stars", in which she was present as T'Kuvma turned towards her with a flaming bat'leth in his hand, said something to her, and then walked past her, carrying the bat'leth with him.
Chieffo tweeted an image of her as L'Rell in advance of the second season premiere, showing her with hair.