Commander Saru was a male Kelpien Starfleet officer from Kaminar who lived during the mid-23rd century. The first Kelpien to have voluntarily left his homeworld, and the first of his species to enter Starfleet service, Saru served aboard at least two Federation starships, the USS Shenzhou and the USS Discovery, and served through much of the Federation-Klingon War of 2256-57. On more than one occasion, he took command of the Discovery in place of the captain, Gabriel Lorca. Saru eventually took command permanently, albeit as acting captain, after Lorca surreptitiously took the Discovery into the mirror universe, where it was discovered that Lorca was in fact his mirror counterpart. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain", "Despite Yourself", "What's Past Is Prologue")
Following Discovery's escape from the mirror universe and Lorca's death, Saru commanded the vessel's mission to Qo'noS in mid-2257, where it successfully forced a truce with the Klingons. For his part in ending the war, Saru was awarded the Starfleet Medal of Honor, the first Kelpien to be so honored. (DIS: "The War Without, The War Within", "Will You Take My Hand?")
In his youth, Saru lived an agrarian life on his home planet Kaminar, with his sister, Siranna, and father, Aradar. When Saru was younger he and his family were scared of the Ba'ul's watchful eye as it took Kalpians as they experienced the va'hari. Though discouraged by his father, Saru contemplated his people's place in the universe and questioned the ritual sacrifice of his people to the Ba'ul. He was instructed by his father to dispose of debris fallen from the Ba'ul ship, Saru instead built a communications device from the alien technology and established contact with Lieutenant Philippa Georgiou.
After corresponding with Saru, Georgiou was given special permission by Starfleet to retrieve Saru. As his people were a pre-warp civilization, Saru accepted the caveat that he could never return (and potentially contaminate his culture), and departed with Georgiou for the USS Archimedes. (ST: "The Brightest Star"; DIS: "The Sound of Thunder") He took with him a handful of seeds and a knife that had belonged to his sister. (DIS: "An Obol for Charon")
After being granted refugee status by the Federation, Saru was processed at Starbase 7, where he saw for the first time a diversity of lifeforms. Listening to their stories and aspirations, Saru resolved to join Starfleet to help those in need, as he had been helped. (DIS: "An Obol for Charon")
Saru was the first Kelpien to join Starfleet. (DIS: "The Vulcan Hello") As such, he felt pressured to perform well, which led him to attempt to learn 94 Federation languages to the detriment of his personal health. (DIS: "New Eden", "An Obol for Charon") He had a first contact specialist qualification. (DIS: "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum")
Science officer of the USS ShenzhouEdit
In 2249, Saru had obtained the rank of lieutenant and was serving in the sciences division aboard the USS Shenzhou under Captain Philippa Georgiou as a bridge officer. He was present when Michael Burnham arrived on the starship. (DIS: "Battle at the Binary Stars")
The Federation-Klingon WarEdit
First officer of the USS DiscoveryEdit
When the prison transport shuttle carrying the disgraced former Starfleet officer Michael Burnham was brought aboard the USS Discovery for repairs, Saru escorted the former officer to engineering so that she would work as a "data cruncher" under Lieutenant Paul Stamets.
Fear and Pahvo Edit
According to Saru, Kelpiens lived in a state of constant fear from the moment of birth. Saru may have been the first of his species to have this alleviated, as after encountering the native energy lifeforms of Pahvo, he briefly experienced relief from this state while on the planet. He became so desperate to continue experiencing this lack of fear that he proceeded to first deceive, and then attack his fellow officers in an attempt to keep the planet out of the Federation-Klingon war. These actions eventually led to the Pahvans withdrawing their influence on him, as they came to believe it was generating disharmony among their Starfleet guests. (DIS: "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum")
Mirror universe and captain of USS Discovery Edit
Following the victory over General Kol and the Sarcophagus's destruction, Saru confirmed that the spore drive had dropped Discovery into unknown space. After learning that they were in a parallel universe, Saru then helped Cadet Tilly to pose as her counterpart after Lorca decided to have Discovery pose as the ISS Discovery. After Lorca and Burnham boarded the ISS Shenzhou, Saru was left in command of the Discovery. (DIS: "Into the Forest I Go", "Despite Yourself")
Saru, along with Tilly, then found Dr. Culber dead and in the arms of Lieutenant Stamets. With Tilly, Saru agreed to use the mycelium spores to treat and heal him. Saru then had Tyler (who had been revealed to be Klingon sleeper agent Voq) beamed back aboard the Discovery with information on the USS Defiant's arrival to the mirror universe. Saru was able to decrypt the information on the Defiant, but much of the information was redacted. When Dr. Pollard and her medical team were unable to help Tyler/Voq, Saru then allowed L'Rell in helping Tyler/Voq in easing his pain. Saru was then contacted by Burnham to come to the ISS Charon. (DIS: "The Wolf Inside", "Vaulting Ambition")
En route to the Charon, Lt. Stamets came to and told Saru of his counterpart's damage to the mycelial network and the eventual destruction of the entire multiverse. Saru was then contacted by Burnham, who told them that Lorca was really a Terran posing as his counterpart. After this revelation, Saru decided to take command and destroy the Charon before it destroys the entire multiverse. Following Discovery's arrival at the Charon's coordinates, Saru then spoke with Lorca, who offered to spare him and Discovery's crew in exchange for Burnham. At first, Saru agreed. However, when Burnham and Georgiou attacked Lorca, Saru ordered Discovery to open fire.
Discovery was successful in disabling the Charon's shields. Saru then ordered Burnham beamed aboard prior to destroying the Charon. Following the Charon's destruction, Saru and the crew then used the destruction's shock wave to return to their universe. (DIS: "What's Past Is Prologue")
Return to the War Edit
Unfortunately, Saru, Stamets, and the crew then discovered that they overshot their return by nine months, by which time the war was going badly. Saru also discovered that Burnham had saved Emperor Georgiou and lied about the mirror universe Kelpiens. Discovery was then boarded by Admirals Shukar, Gorch, and Cornwell, and Ambassador Sarek. At first Saru demanded to know the reason as to why they boarded. Saru then had mind-meld with the Ambassador who learned about Discovery's trip to a parallel universe, Lorca's true colors and apparent demise. Saru was debriefed on the specifics of the disastrous turn the war had taken since Discovery was seemingly destroyed, and subsequently relinquished command to Cornwell for Discovery's trip to Starbase 1. However, he sensed danger on approach, and Starbase 1 immediately turned out to be occupied by the House of D'Ghor. With several Birds-of-Prey converging on Discovery and Cornwell too shocked by this turn of events to give orders, Saru was forced to order a retreat.
Saru became first officer under Emperor Georgiou, posing as her prime counterpart, during a mission that was supposed to map Qo'noS' volcanic system for a future military strike. However, the mission turned out to be the military strike; rather than a mapping drone, Georgiou had brought a hydro bomb, which she intended to detonate in a volcanic vent, producing catastrophic results. After Burnham alerted him to the true mission, Saru contacted Cornwell and threatened to mutiny with Burnham if Starfleet Command did not back down. Burnham was authorized to prevent Georgiou from detonating the bomb, and handed the detonator to L'Rell, who took leadership of the Klingon High Council and rapidly enacted a cease fire. Saru was awarded the Starfleet Medal of Honor for his actions, the first received by a Kelpien. Soon after, Saru led the ship on a voyage to Vulcan to pick up the Discovery's new commanding officer, but was sidetracked along the way to respond to a distress call from the USS Enterprise. (DIS: "What's Past Is Prologue", "The War Without, The War Within", "Will You Take My Hand?")
The Red BurstsEdit
Saru met with the Enterprise's CO, Captain Christopher Pike, along with Commander Nhan and Lieutenant Evan Connolly. He was told that Pike would be taking command of Discovery under Regulation 19, Section C in order to investigate seven red bursts that had appeared. Saru believed the red bursts could be either temporal anomalies or black holes. As the Discovery investigated the first red burst, they found the USS Hiawatha on a interstellar asteroid. Saru kept Discovery's shields down to ensure that the landing party and the Hiawatha's crew were able to beam back. After Burnham was beamed back, Saru had piece of the asteroid brought into Discovery's shuttle bay and Discovery left the system. Saru and Captain Pike agreed to a "joint custody" of Discovery for duration of the investigation. (DIS: "Brother")
Saru convinced Pike to use the spore drive to reach the second burst, knowing Starfleet would allow it. Saru was left in command of Discovery as Pike and his landing party investigated a distress signal from a white church at the New Eden colony on Terralysium. During this time, Saru warned Ensign Tilly that her reckless behavior could endanger her position in the Command Training program. (DIS: "New Eden")
Into the FutureEdit
Personal interests Edit
Professional development Edit
As the first and potentially only Kelpien to enter Starfleet, Saru felt pressure to over-perform at Starfleet Academy and in his career. By 2257, he understood 94 languages including English, Mandarin Chinese, Wolof, Spanish, and Russian. (DIS: "New Eden", "An Obol for Charon")
Even while serving aboard the Shenzhou, he imagined a path where first officer Michael Burnham would be mentored by Captain Georgiou, move on to her own command, and he would take her place as Georgiou's mentee. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain") As first officer aboard Discovery, he sought to emulate the command decisions of Starfleet's most decorated captains, including Georgiou, Pike, Robert April, and Jonathan Archer. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain")
"I feel the same about you. You are the only one who knows me. You replaced the sister I had on Kaminar, Siranna."
Beginning in 2249, Saru served with Burnham for seven years aboard the Shenzhou. They often disagreed with the handling of various situations, so much so that Captain Georgiou found it remarkable when they did concur. (DIS: "The Vulcan Hello") Nevertheless, Saru highly esteemed Burnham's intelligence and skills. He also held a great deal of affection for her, and in fact had come to view her as a surrogate sister. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings", "An Obol for Charon")
Burnham's actions before the Battle of the Binary Stars in 2256 drove a rift between them. Saru had expected that, once Burnham was promoted to her own command, he would then have the opportunity to be mentored by Georgiou as she had been. After Georgiou's death, Saru was resentful of Burnham, which caused him to act coldly toward her when Lorca brought her to the Discovery. The two reconciled once Saru admitted his thoughts to Burnham, and Burnham gifted him Georgiou's telescope. (DIS: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry", "Choose Your Pain")
Sylvia Tilly Edit
Tilly respected Saru as a superior officer, and asked for his recommendation to the Command Training Program. (DIS: "The Wolf Inside") Upon acceptance, Tilly often worked with Saru as her CTP director. (DIS: "New Eden")
- 2239: Leaves Kaminar and joins Starfleet.
- 2240s: Assigned to the USS Shenzhou.
- 2250s–2256: Chief science officer of the USS Shenzhou.
- Participates in the Battle of the Binary Stars. Abandons the Shenzhou with the remaining crew after the death of Captain Georgiou.
- Is assigned to the USS Discovery as first officer, serving under Captain Gabriel Lorca.
- Participates in helping the Discovery defeat the Klingons during the Attack on Corvan II.
- Takes charge as acting captain of the Discovery after the capture of Captain Lorca until his return.
- Helps the Discovery to win a victory against Kol, destroying the Sarcophagus during the Battle at Pahvo.
- Ends up in the mirror universe after the Discovery's spore drive appears to malfunction during a jump, though this was a part of Lorca's plan, as he was actually from this universe. Once again becomes acting captain of the Discovery.
- Takes over command of the Discovery on a permanent basis when Lorca is exposed as an impostor.
- Led the Discovery on a mission to Qo'noS, which resulted in the end of the war. Awarded the Starfleet Medal of Honor for his actions, the first awarded to a Kelpien.
- Continues his command of the Discovery on a voyage to Vulcan to pick up its new commanding officer, but is sidetracked along the way to respond to a distress call from the USS Enterprise, leading to Discovery taking Christopher Pike as interim commanding officer.
- Undergoes vahar'ai, a condition which is supposedly fatal, due to the influence of a living sphere, but survives and realizes that the Great Balance may have been a lie.
- Returns to Kaminar and liberates the Kelpiens from the Ba'ul.
- Takes command of the Discovery in the battle against the Section 31 drone fleet.
- Presumed dead by Starfleet after taking the Discovery and her crew forward to the 32nd century.
Memorable quotes Edit
Your world has food chains. Mine does not. Our species map is binary; we are either predator or prey. My people were hunted, bred, farmed… we are your livestock of old. We were biologically determined for one purpose, and one purpose alone – to sense the coming of death. I sense it coming now."
"It is well known that my species has the ability to sense the coming of death. I do not sense it today. I may not have all the answers; however, I do know that I am surrounded by a team I trust. The finest a captain could ever hope to command. Lorca abused our idealism. And make no mistake, Discovery is no longer Lorca's. She is ours. And today will be her maiden voyage. We have a duty to perform, and we will not accept a no-win scenario. You have your orders. On your way.
- - Saru. to the crew of the Discovery, prior to attacking the Charon (DIS: "What's Past Is Prologue")
"I saw hope, in the stars. It was stronger than fear. And I went towards it."
|Commanding officers of the starships Discovery|
|USS Discovery: Lorca • Georgiou • Pike • Saru|
|ISS Discovery: Unnamed • Tilly|
Background information Edit
Saru was played by actor Doug Jones.
Saru and Michael Burnham are the only two characters to appear in every episode of Star Trek: Discovery.
Doug Jones did not have to audition for Saru, as the show was pitched to him.
In the early novel Desperate Hours by David Mack, it is claimed that Saru is from a world called Kelpia and that he was rescued from that world by Starfleet officers. Saru later appears in Fear Itself by James Swallow, where his home planet is instead called Kaminar. The release of the Short Treks episode "The Brightest Star", months later, confirmed the latter name as the name of Saru's planet in canon.