"Death found me when I was a child, so, yeah, I knew what I was getting into."
"I don't think I did, not really. Does that make me naive?"
"It makes you optimistic."
- 1 Early life
- 2 Starfleet career
- 3 Personal relationships
- 4 Personal interests
- 5 Memorable quotes
- 6 Appendices
Tilly was born in 2233 on Earth. (DIS: "New Eden", "An Obol for Charon", "All Is Possible") She was raised by her mother Siobhan, a member of the Federation Diplomatic Corps, whom Tilly described as a "hardass" who refused to compromise, and whose presence was infrequent during Tilly's childhood. Siobhan had planned for her daughter to join the Diplomatic Corps as well, but Tilly ultimately chose to join Starfleet instead. (ST: "Runaway"; DIS: "The Red Angel", "All Is Possible")
In 2242, when Tilly was nine, she worked out how to make her food synthesizer produce only spumoni ice cream by calculating the exact protein concentration and small particle dispersion of emulsifiers required. (ST: "Runaway")
Tilly described her fourteen-year-old self as a "weird" child, who didn't have a lot of friends and had no one who believed in her, including herself. (DIS: "An Obol for Charon") In 2247, Tilly attended Musk Junior High School for six months, where she befriended May Ahearn, who gave her the nickname "Stilly". (DIS: "New Eden") She transferred schools when her mother got another posting. (DIS: "Point of Light", "An Obol for Charon")
In school, her mother remembered a particularly painful time when she had more trouble climbing a wall than the other children, where Tilly chose to run away rather than confront the challenge. (ST: "Runaway")
Although often socially awkward, Tilly came out of her shell in certain settings, such as the party held on Discovery, even showing aptitude at 20th century beer pong. During the event, Tilly rebuked romantic advances from Lieutenant Rhys. (DIS: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad") Paradoxically, Tilly also became a social mentor of sorts to Michael Burnham and facilitated her introduction to future romantic interest, Ash Tyler. (DIS: "Lethe")
In 2257, in recognition for her role in ending the Federation-Klingon War, Tilly was awarded the Starfleet Medal of Honor. She received her officer's commission as an ensign and was placed on the command track. (DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?")
Tilly continued to serve on the Discovery, under the temporary command of Captain Christopher Pike. She participated in the Command Training Program during this time, a "terrible mistake" according to her mother. (DIS: "Brother", "Point of Light", ST: "Runaway")
Later the same year, Tilly volunteered to stay on the Discovery and accompany Burnham when she took the ship forward in time to the 32nd century, with no chance to return. She recorded a farewell message to her mother before she embarked on the journey. (DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow")
After Burnham was demoted due to insubordination by Saru, Tilly was offered the job of first officer and expressed her worried about taking the job to Stamets. At first, Stamets was not very reassuring to her and later gathered several members of the crew to express their support for her taking the position. (DIS: "Unification III")
Following the hijacking and retaking of Discovery, Tilly continued as the ship's first officer under Captain Burnham and was promoted to Lieutenant for her actions. Several months later in 3190, Tilly and Ensign Adira Tal were sent to assist Commander Nalas and his crew aboard Deep Space Repair Beta Six. (DIS: "That Hope Is You, Part 2", "Kobayashi Maru")
Under the guidance of Dr. Hugh Culber, Tilly began exploring outside of her "comfort zone", such as eating foods she disliked (particularly macaroni and cheese and Rigelian rutabagas), sleeping in different positions, and taking longer walks to the bridge, as well as volunteering to help Saru water the plants in his quarters. Motivated by a desire to help her find something "meaningfully unusual" to do, Saru recommended that she accompany Captain Burnham on a mission with the Qowat Milat to track down the rogue nun J'Vini. (DIS: "Choose to Live"). She later related these activities to Culber as "baby steps", wanting something more challenging.
Culber had been approached by Dr. Kovich, working as a consultant for the newly-reopened Starfleet Academy, looking for a member of Discovery's crew to lead a group of cadets in a team-building exercise. Culber recommended Tilly, with Adira Tal accompanying her at his suggestion in order to work on their own team-building skills. Despite initial resistance by the cadets and being stranded on a dangerous Class L ice moon, Tilly was successfully able to convince the cadets to work together and survive. Upon her return to Federation Headquarters, Kovich offered Tilly a teaching position at Starfleet Academy. Re-examining her career path and the events that had occurred in her life, Tilly chose to accept. (DIS: "All Is Possible")
Upon meeting Michael Burnham, who at the time was an inmate being assigned to share quarters with Tilly temporarily, Tilly was delighted at the thought of having a roommate, stating "A roommate is like an automatic, built-in friend." While Tilly's offer of friendship was initially rebuked by a cold Burnham, and returned later in engineering, Tilly soon found herself admiring Burnham's courage. While still lacking confidence, Tilly shared her closely held dream with Burnham: that she would be a starship captain some day. Burnham, admiring Tilly's optimism, took her under her wing – often engaging in physical and dietary training together. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings", "Lethe")
Tilly and Paul Stamets frequently worked together on the spore drive. Tilly was one of the first to know of Stamets' side effects after injecting himself with the tardigrade DNA during the Klingon War. After Culber died, Tilly was the first to try and convince Stamets to stay on the Discovery instead of taking a job at the Vulcan Science Academy. (DIS: "Brother") When Tilly was infected by May Ahearn, he tried to help her remove the creature and tried to calm her down when she was panicking. He later went into the network to save Tilly after she had been abducted by May. (DIS: "An Obol for Charon", "Saints of Imperfection") After the jump to the future, Stamets, along with some of the other crew members, encouraged Tilly to take the job of first officer after Saru had offered it to her. (DIS: "Unification III") She was familiar enough with him to call him "Paul" instead of by rank or last name during a crisis. (DIS: "Su'Kal")
Tilly met the real May Ahearn when she briefly attended Musk Junior High School in 2247. They frequently ate lunch together. Tilly never spoke to May again after her mother was transferred to another posting.
After being injured during an attempt to remove a piece of the dark matter asteroid, in 2257, Tilly started seeing a hallucination of Ahearn. After learning the real Ahearn had died in 2252, Tilly discovered the hallucination she was seeing was in fact a member of a species native to the mycelial network. (DIS: "New Eden", "An Obol for Charon")
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")
Tilly had read everything there was available on Captain Philippa Georgiou, and was exceptionally excited at the prospect of meeting her after her presumed death. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings", "Will You Take My Hand?")
"Yeah, when the people who are supposed to care about you don't listen to you, it's frightening and it's lonely, and it makes you feel like you're crazy or like you're, like, not even there. I get that."
Tilly is the focus of the novel The Way to the Stars. Her grandmother on her mother's side is revealed to be named Adèle, while Tilly's father is named Iain and serves as a lieutenant specializing in xenoarcheology on the science vessel Dorothy Garrod since a year before Tilly's sixteenth birthday. Tilly's mention in the episode "Project Daedalus" of having run away from home at age 16 and engaging in computer-hacking was very likely a direct reference to the events of this novel, which was released prior to the TV episode.
Tilly appears in the "Age of Discovery" expansion to Star Trek Online, voiced by Mary Wiseman. In the tutorial for Discovery-era player characters, set shortly after the Battle of the Binary Stars, Tilly is a third-year cadet at the Academy, whose engineering aptitude allowed her to be chosen as chief engineer for the cadet cruise aboard a Malachowski-class vessel. When the player character, a fourth-year cadet, unexpectedly becomes the captain, Tilly remains as chief engineer until the ship returns to Earth after rescuing the miners of Corvan II, after which she parts ways with the player just before her eventual assignment to the Discovery. Tilly was also the voice for level-up notifications for Discovery-era Starfleet characters, before being replaced by Gabriel Lorca in May 2019.