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For the mirror universe counterpart, please see Saru (mirror).
"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, 2257 ("What's Past Is Prologue")

Captain 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?")

Early life

In his youth, Saru lived an agrarian life on his home planet Kaminar, with his sister, Siranna, and father, Aradar. Saru and his family were scared of the Ba'ul's watchful eye, as it took Kelpiens as they experienced the vahar'ai. (ST: "The Brightest Star")

Saru remembered listening to children's stories told by village elders around a fire, including one about a kelp monster. (DIS: "Su'Kal")

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. On one occasion, Aradar instructed Saru to dispose of debris fallen from the Ba'ul ship. Saru instead built an interstellar communications device, identified by Lieutenant Philippa Georgiou as the first of his species to show the technical capability of doing so. (ST: "The Brightest Star")

Saru follows Georgiou to the stars, expecting to never see his people again.

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")

Starfleet career

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 Shenzhou

Saru at his post aboard the Shenzhou

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")

By 2256, he had been promoted to lieutenant commander and worked as the ship's chief science officer. (DIS: "The Vulcan Hello")

That year, Saru participated in the Battle of the Binary Stars, and later evacuated the Shenzhou with the remaining crew after the death of Captain Georgiou. (DIS: "Battle at the Binary Stars")

The Federation-Klingon War

First officer of the USS Discovery

Saru stands watch on the bridge of Discovery

About six months later, Saru had been promoted to commander, transferred to the command division, and made first officer of the USS Discovery under Gabriel Lorca.

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.

When the USS Glenn, the Discovery's sister ship, suffered a catastrophe, Saru spoke up in Burnham's defense, describing her as the "smartest Starfleet officer [he] had ever met." (DIS: "Context Is for Kings")

Saru comes in contact with the Pahvans

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

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 and Tilly attempt to revive Stamets

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

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?")

Post War

The Red Bursts

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 Starfleet 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")

The Vahar'ai

As Discovery tracked down Lt. Spock's shuttle, Saru began to feel early effects of Vahar'ai. Saru believed he would need to be killed due to the madness brought on by Vahar'ai. However, after the Sphere died, Saru and Burnham discovered that his threat ganglia had fallen off on its own and that he was not dying. He realized that the Ba'ul had been lying to his people for centures. (DIS: "An Obol for Charon")

When a third red burst was found at Kaminar, Saru was eager to tell his people the truth about Vahar'ai, despite Captain Pike's concerns. Saru and Burnham went to the surface to speak with his village priest. Upon his return, Saru found out that his father had died and his sister Siranna had becom their village priest. However, Siranna was upset that he had lived and that he was only interested in finding the Red Angel. When Saru returned to Discovery, the Ba'ul contacted the ship and demanded that Saru be returned in order to maintain the Great Balance. Saru, angered by the Ba'ul's actions, refused to be returned until the Ba'ul threatened his village. Saru, over Burnham and Pike's objections beamed himself down to Kaminar.

Saru was then taken to the Ba'ul's stronghold along with his sister. (DIS: "The Sound of Thunder")

Into the Future

Following the Battle near Xahea, Saru and 88 crewmembers took Discovery through the wormhole. Discovery was able to exit the wormhole in 3189 and crash-landed on The Colony. (DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2", "Far From Home")

In 3190, Saru, known as "Great Elder" became a member of his village council. He later spoke with the Ba'ul and Kelpien High Council about returning to the stars to assist the Federation. (DIS: "Kobayashi Maru", "Anomaly (DIS)") Following this, Saru returned to Discovery to resume the role of first officer under Captain Michael Burnham, remaining a member of the village council in absentia. He retained the rank of captain but asked to addressed as simply "Saru," though he acquiesced to Burnham's suggestion of "Mr. Saru." (DIS: "Anomaly (DIS)")

Personal interests

Professional development

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")

It is unclear if Saru's native Kelpien language is included in the 94.

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. 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")

In developing his skills, Saru memorized some of the writings of Sun Tzu. (DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2")




In 3190 Saru began a courtship of President T'Rina. Initially both Saru and T'Rina were anxious to allow themselves to be emotionally vulnerable but following advice from friends and colleagues and the events of first contact with Species 10-C they decided to pursue a closeness with one another. (DIS: "The Galactic Barrier", "Species Ten-C")

Doug Jones indicated in an interview following "Unification III" that he thought Saru might have "had the hots" for T'Rina, though that was not the writers' original intention. [1]


Michael Burnham

Burnham relieved that Saru has survived vahar'ai

"After all this time, after everything that we have been through together, I realize now that you are my family Saru."
"I feel the same about you. You are the only one who knows me. You replaced the sister I had on Kaminar, Siranna.
– Michael Burnham and Saru, 2257 ("An Obol for Charon")

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

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")

When Tilly tended to get overexcited and ramble informally in tense situations, Saru often advised her to maintain her professionalism. (DIS: "Light and Shadows") Though when appropriate, he also allowed her to do so if it helped her remain calm, such as when they hiked together to a settlement on "The Colony" in 3189. (DIS: "Far From Home")

Key dates

  • 2239: Leaves Kaminar and joins Starfleet.
  • 2240s: Assigned to the USS Shenzhou.
  • 2250s2256: Chief science officer of the USS Shenzhou.
  • 2256:
  • 2257:
    • 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.
  • 2258:
    • Takes command of Discovery in the battle against the Section 31 drone fleet.
    • Presumed dead by Starfleet after taking Discovery and her crew forward to the 32nd century.
  • 3189:
    • Officially becomes the captain of the Discovery.
    • Goes on sabbatical and returns to Kaminar to support Su'Kal, who spent his entire life in a holoprogram on a derelict science ship, leaving Discovery in Michael Burnham's command.
  • 3190:
    • After five months spent on Kaminar assiting Su'Kal, returns to Discovery to serve as Michael Burnhum's first officer.

Memorable quotes

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."

- Saru, to Michael Burnham (DIS: "The Vulcan Hello")

"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."

- Saru (ST: "The Brightest Star")


Doug Jones wearing "squinted" contact lenses, discarded during pilot filming


Background information

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's first two seasons.

Doug Jones did not have to audition for Saru, as the show was pitched to him.

Saru is the second character shown to serve as first officer while holding the rank of Captain, following Spock on the USS Enterprise-A.


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.

External links