The most responsible person I know.— Kelly Grayson, on Claire Finn
Prior to joining the Orville, Doctor Finn was a seasoned officer who had served aboard many Planetary Union vessels. Claire transferred to the ship shortly before September, 2419, when she learned the ship was getting a new, inexperienced captain.
Claire lived on the Orville with her two sons, Ty and Marcus Finn. Her brief relationship with Isaac, a Science and Engineering Officer, was the primary reason Isaac betrayed the Kaylon, helping the Union win the Battle of Earth in February 2421.
When asked about her childhood in late 2420, Claire recalled Baltimore was full of arts and entertainment then, and, while she preferred life aboard the Orville, she had not returned to her hometown in some time and missed the rain.
- I used to sit outside on the front porch before a thunderstorm and smell the ozone in the air. And then the rain would come crashing down in big, dark curtains, and it was exciting and beautiful and humbling and wonderful. And I always thought to myself, 'This is what being alive is all about.'
She joined the Planetary Union as a commissioned officer in the Medical wing. She specialized in molecular surgery, DNA engineering, and psychiatry and took an interest in temporal field technology, the acceleration of time within a quantum bubble. At that time, Claire worked on an unknown project with Lewis, a civilian Union anthropologist, and the two became close friends.
Claire was a single parent. For most of her life, Claire had desired children but, by her own description, she never found a man suited to be her husband. Near the year 2409, she decided to have a child on her own through artificial impregnation, and gave birth to Marcus.[n 1] Several years later, she used artificial impregnation again to bear a second child, Ty.
In 2419, after years of service in the Union, Doctor Finn requested a transfer to the Orville. By that point, Claire was already a highly experienced doctor and over-qualified for the post. She later recalled that she requested the Orville because she wanted a ship with a freshman captain: "I always request my transfers based on where I'm needed. I'm more stimulated that way."
Career under Captain Mercer
Doctor Finn arrived at the Orville shortly before Captain Ed Mercer in September 2419 and almost immediately ingratiated herself among the crew as a smart and collected senior officer. "This is your first command," she told Ed at their first meeting. "And I think you can use my help."
Claire worked in the Chief Medical Officer's Office at the front of Sick Bay, where she led a staff of medical officers. From the earliest days under Captain Mercer, she quickly established herself as a source of strength for the rest of the senior staff and frequently remains on the Bridge[n 2] to stay abreast of the ship's affairs. Yet her presence both on the Bridge and in Sick Bay placed her in the unique position to help the bridge officers and to communicate the needs of the rest of the ship. Claire became a tough but loving therapist and adviser.[n 3]
Claire served as acting commander in October 2419 when Ed and First Officer Kelly Grayson went missing, Second Officer Bortus was on a leave of absence, and Chief of Security Alara Kitan joined Isaac for an away mission to the Calivon system to rescue Ed and Kelly. As the highest ranking officer on the ship, Claire was placed in the captain's chair.[n 3]
In early 2421, the Kaylon seized the Orville and imprisoned Claire and other surviving officers in the Shuttle Bay. She allowed Ty to sneak with Lieutenant Yaphit into the communications array to send a warning to Planetary Union Central of an imminent attack. After the officers retook control of the Orville, Claire worked in Sick Bay during the Battle of Earth.
Mission to Epsilon 2
Claire's skills would be put to the test one week into her transfer to the Orville on a resupply mission to the Epsilon Science Station on Epsilon 2. Claire joined Ed, Kelly, and Alara to speak to Doctor Aronov. Aronov was adamant that the Krill were interested in stealing a quantum accelerator, a device which could accelerate the flow of time, for themselves. They were interrupted by Doctor Derek Ashton, a lab technician and undercover Krill operative, who took Claire hostage. She was rescued by Alara, who distracted and subdued Derek.
Derek had already called for Krill support, and a cloaked Krill destroyer emerged from hiding to raid the facility. Faced with two teams of Krill soldiers, Claire and the others battled their way to their shuttle and returned to the Orville. Along the way, she treated Ed for a shoulder wound. The experience solidified her place as both a valuable medic and a practiced voice of reason for the crew.
Mission to the Bio-ship
The senior officers had not yet needed Claire for her medical abilities aside from basic treatment. That would change two months after the battle at Epsilon 2 when Claire was again sent on an away mission, this time to visit a mysterious bio-ship adrift in space.
When the team entered the massive ship, communications with the Orville were blocked. Alara was shot by a bio-ship officer. With no easy way back to the Orville, a crisis erupted. Claire was able to treat the wound using her Foreign Object Retractor and dermoscanner from her Medical Kit, and saved Alara's life.
Search for Lewis and Tom
In late 2419, Claire's close friend Lewis went missing during an undercover assignment with fellow researcher Tom on Sargus 4. Union command was unable to re-establish communication with the pair. She joined a search team in the winter of 2420. Unfortunately, the team was too late. Tom was killed by a Sargun Department of Corrections guard attempting to flee Social Correction, a dramatic neurological operation similar to a frontal lobotomy. Claire was devastated when she finally finds Lewis: he had been "corrected," his personality erased and mind forever altered, and the old friend as she knew him gone.
Shuttle crash and kidnapping
Claire had proven her worth as a doctor and a capable fighter, but her greatest test came six months into working on the USS Orville. Wanting to spend more time with her sons, Marcus and Ty, she planned a vacation to Arboreus Prime. The trio left the Orville in January or early February 2420 in a shuttle piloted by Isaac. However, en route to Arboreus, an uncharted spatial fold sent the shuttle into an unknown area of the galaxy, the shuttle crashing into a nearby moon.
Claire was separated from the others during the crash. Drogen, a survivalist, discovered her unconscious and carried her back to his compound. The moon's nations had recently been at war, and one side poisoned the water supply with poloxus. Drogen had foreseen the attack and stockpiled food and weapons in his fortified compound. He refused to allow Claire to leave, and she became Drogen's prisoner.
Claire injured herself to send Drogen to the crash site in search of antibiotics. Meanwhile, she scoured the facility and found a knife. She stabbed Drogen when he returned; later shooting and killing him with his own handgun. With Drogen dead, Claire recovered her comscanner and rejoined Isaac and her children. The four sufficiently repaired the shuttle to hail the Orville for rescue. Meanwhile, other inhabitants of the moon were alerted to the noise. Driven to cannibalism through sheer starvation, the inhabitants attempted to kill and eat the four. Using PM-44s set to stun, Claire and Marcus drove their attackers away.
The Orville rescued Claire and the others. The experience marked a transformative moment between Isaac and the Finn family, as Claire's relationship with Isaac grew into a friendship over their first six months together on the Orville.
In an alternate timeline where Kelly does not date Ed, Claire never served aboard the Orville. She had joined because she wanted to assist an inexperienced captain, but Ed never became captain of the Orville. Instead, the highly experienced Griffith took command, so Claire joined Outpost 73 in late 2419 instead.
In January 2421, Claire and her sons visited Arboreus 1 for vacation, which was cut short by an outbreak of Betelgeusean flu back at Outpost 73. While the Jefferson traveled to the outpost, Kelly resigned her commission. Kelly and her husband, Cassius, persuaded Claire to join them in an attempt to find crew members of the Orville from the original timeline.
When the trio disembarked at Outpost 73 in February 2421, they quickly secured a scavenger ship. Unbeknownst to them, the Kaylon destroyed the Planetary Union in the Battle of Earth. Several Spheres attacked the outpost, killing Cassius, but Kelly, Claire, and the children managed to flee.
After the Battle of Earth where most of humanity was destroyed by the Kaylon, Claire and her children joined a scavenger ship with Kelly, Talla Keyali, Ed, Gordon Malloy, John LaMarr, and Bortus. The crew sent Claire seven years back in time to Kelly to correct the timeline. She was successful and vanished.
Conflict and relationship with Yaphit
After Claire's arrival at the Orville, Lieutenant Yaphit developed a profound romantic interest in her, often singing to her with a guitar or giving her gifts. Claire, on the other hand, found Yaphit's persistent wooing to be uncomfortable and annoying.
In November 2419, Yaphit began feigning illness as an excuse to meet Claire in Sick Bay and ask her out on a date, which he attempted three times over the span of a week. When she turned him down, he made a crude sexual pass and she angrily demanded he leave. His persistence grated on Claire, eventually she threatened Yaphit with a formal complaint, if he continued his inappropriate behavior.[n 4]
In February 2420, Yaphit returned to romancing Claire. He brought a guitar, flowers, and refused to leave without a date. However, Yaphit had bumped into Darulio on his way to see Claire. Unbeknownst to Yaphit and Claire, Darulio as a Retepsian produced powerful pheromones that sparked sexual attraction between carrier and recipient. Yaphit transmitted the pheromones to Claire, creating a powerful romantic and sexual interest in Claire towards Yaphit.
Claire and Yaphit began a sexual relationship lasting several days until the pheromones wore off. During that time, Claire grew increasingly obsessed with the engineer. She later told Chief of Security Alara Kitan: "I just never gave him a chance. But when I finally allowed myself to take down my walls, I realized what an idiot I've been. Yaphit and I are soul mates."
Her obsession grew dangerous during the Navarian-Bruidian conflict, keeping Yaphit at gunpoint from erecting a special barrier between the Navarians and Bruidian war fleets. Claire avoided punishment as she was under the overwhelming influence of alien pheromones, but Yaphit left Claire alone after the incident.
Relationship with Isaac
When Claire and Isaac first met in September 2419, Claire resented his sense of intellectual superiority. "You harbor prejudice against artificial life-forms," Isaac later remarked. She answered, "Only against life-forms that think they're better than everyone else." When Isaac affirmed that he is better than everyone else, Claire sarcastically diagnosed, "Oh, and so modest." Further, she disliked that Isaac presumed to offer parenting tips when he was artificial and incapable of parenthood.
After Isaac, Claire, and her sons were rescued in late February 2420, Claire develops feelings for Isaac. The Kaylon officer had protected Marcus and Ty on the moon, and had done his best to comfort them. In a private conversation between the two, Claire noted her sons now adore Isaac and said, "Welcome to the family."
The two continued to work together. In December 2420, Isaac corrected Claire's paper on nanosynthesis in Xelayan tissue regeneration, brought her a banana, and noticed that she changed her hair style. "When I'm with him... we get along very well. I feel warmth."
Claire asked Isaac out to the Union Symphony followed by dinner in the Environmental Simulator. The first date was a dud; Isaac downloaded all information about her from the Orville's files, and Claire did not feel "excitement" without getting to know each other. After Isaac woke her up with a cake at 3:00 a.m., Claire told him that she "reached out in the wrong direction."
Isaac deleted his information on Claire and attempted a second dinner date - complete with a simulated Human body. Claire was enamored: "He figured out a way to say, 'I'm trying. Let me try.'" The two slept together. Shortly after, Isaac convincds Claire to end the relationship by acting selfishly.
Isaac began to malfunction following the breakup, realizing (in a certain way) he had fallen in love. To win Claire back, he called her to the Bridge, set the ship's environmental controls to "rain," and played "Singing in the Rain." He apologized and stated that he is better with her than without her, and the two returned to the simulator for dinner at her favorite restaurant on Earth.
The two began dating and, about a month later, announced their relationship to Marcus and Ty. Isaac suddenly de-activated and was returned to Kaylon 1. Upon reactivation, he announced his return to the Kaylon and their brief relationship dissolved. In the aftermath of the Battle of Earth, Claire stated that she will one day forgive him.
Doctor Finn was a strong-willed, independent mother and a career-minded Medical Officer. Almost immediately after meeting Captain Ed Mercer for the first time, he put her on the defensive by saying, "You don't think I have the balls to do this job." Claire shot back, "Well, I am your doctor, sir, and if your balls are under par, I'll know." In an alternate timeline, it's shown that Ed was the reason she joined the crew in the first place as she felt he would need her help and she only wanted to work somewhere that she would be needed.
As the oldest member of the senior staff, Claire often serves informally as a ship's therapist. Alara, the youngest senior officer, especially seeks out Claire for guidance.[n 5] Claire consoles Bortus through a difficult time in his marriage to Klyden as well.
Claire is a woman of science. When she visits the Epsilon Science Station, she is the crewmember most fascinated by the facility's tremendous scientific advances, in particular its quantum accelerator. For all of Claire's talents as a therapist, she often struggles to understand why people choose emotionally satisfying options over factually-based ones.[n 6][n 7]
Mother of Marcus and Ty
Claire is a loving, doting mother, but at times is frustrated by her children's antics. "Nobody told me it would be this bad," she complains about Marcus' combativeness. "It seems he hates me for no reason."
Relationship with the crew
Claire's relationship with Second Officer Bortus is tenser, and the two are prone to heated disagreement. In November, 2419, he requests that she perform a sex reassignment surgery on his newborn daughter, a request Claire finds reprehensible. She refuses on the grounds that to perform the operation would violate her Hippocratic Oath. Later that, she is called to testify in a subsequent trial addressing whether to order or enjoin Moclan doctors from performing the operation.
Creator Seth MacFarlane invented the character of Claire Finn with Penny Johnson Jerald in mind, and intended Jerald to portray her. Claire was written as a combination of Kasidy Yates-Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Beverly Barnes from The Larry Sanders Show, and Sherry Palmer from 24 - all characters Jerald had played.
According to supervising producer André Bormanis, Claire's wisdom and wit function as a literary tool to enable other characters to discover solutions to problems. Jerald later described Claire as "the Orville's conscience adult. She has a tongue sharpened with wisdom and fortitude."
MacFarlane aimed for Claire to serve as "the adult of the group," although initial drafting of Claire was spartan and not detailed. In the original pilot script, she is described only as a black woman in her 40s. Actress Penny Johnson Jerald, who portrays Claire, says that she envisions her character as a funny and wise officer with an attitude, calling her "the sage with sass." Later, she said that Claire is an extension of her personality, a level-headed adult in times of crises.
Claire's wig was designed by hair department head Maxine Morris in consultation with Howard Berger, make-up department head for Season 1. In early episodes, Claire wore a wig with a short taper at the neck, no bangs, and a green streak extension added to compliment her uniform. After a few episodes, Morris switched to a wig with bangs but the extension was kept for continuity.
- Claire's middle initial is revealed to be "J." in A Happy Refrain, but what it stands for is still unknown.
- In the episode If the Stars Should Appear, Claire reveals that she suffers from near-debilitating acrophobia, a fear of heights, and grabs Isaac's hand for comfort. In the episode Into the Fold, she is forced to overcome her fear when she has to escape from Drogen's compound. Later, Isaac holds her hand to comfort her.
- While she seems to enjoy giving advice, Claire does not enjoy being placed in command of the ship.
- She hates the planet Moclus because "they've completely industrialized the entire surface. It's amazing they can even breathe."
- She is able to quote the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson extensively.
- Alara fights an evil version of Claire in the Environmental Simulator. She kills a simulated Nurse Henry Park and attempts to kill Alara.
- Claire does not attend Chief Engineer Steve Newton's farewell party when he transfers to a space station because she has to work.
- Perhaps out of dedication to her career in medicine, Doctor Finn has a green streak of hair on her left side at the front, the color of the Medical section of the Planetary Union.
- Living aboard a space vessel away from Earth, Claire misses rain the most.
- Claire's favorite food is potato cakes.
- Her favorite movie is film Mind of Hermes.
- Her favorite vacation spot is Saint Lucia.
- Her favorite drink is champagne.
- Her favorite animal is the dolphin.
- Prior to Penny Johnson Jerald's casting as Claire on The Orville, she portrayed Kasidy Yates on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where she dated and eventually married Captain Benjamin Sisko, who was the Emissary of The Prophets on Bajor, or simply, "The Emissary." Coincidentally, Claire's love interest on The Orville, Isaac, also has a known alias as "The Emissary."
- Claire Finn was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the same location as the birthplace of her actress, Penny Johnson Jerald.
- In late 2420, she leads couples counseling between Second Officer Bortus and Klyden.
- She wears a red or pink band around her wrist under her uniform sleeves which can be seen in Firestorm.
- The long jacket she wears on duty is similar to Doctor Beverly Crusher's own duty jacket, from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- The year 2409 is merely a guess based on Marcus Finn's age. Episode 1x08: Into the Fold
- Finn can be found on the Bridge during the ship's first departure under Captain Mercer, and during a battle with a Krill destroyer outside the planet Epsilon 2. Episode 1x01: Old Wounds.
- Finn advises and comforts Alara Kitan, whom was acting commander at the time. Episode 1x02: Command Performance.
- After playing a song, and confessing his love, Claire fed up, threatens to file a formal complaint. Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
- When Ed and Kelly are kidnapped by Calivon zookeepers in October, 2419, 23-year-old Alara is placed in the Captain's chair. However, due to a series of command missteps, the ship is badly damaged and many people hurt. Alara sees her own inexperience as inability to lead and requests Claire to remove her from command. Claire refuses. She acknowledges that Alara may have made a mistake, even one that hurt their own crew, but that Alara learned from her error and is fit to command. The Doctor agrees to advise Alara more often in the future. Later, when Alara must decide whether to follow orders from Planetary Union Central not to rescue the missing commanders, Claire refused to decide for Alara, but simply clarified the problem so that she could better choose for herself. Episode 1x02: Command Performance
- When the Reformers explain that, even after presented with proof that Hamelac's government is based on untruths, the Dorahlian people would refuse to accept it, Claire does not understand why people would prefer a comforting lie over the truth. Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear.
- Claire thinks that people of Sargus 4 could fact-check manipulative posts uploaded by the Orville onto the planet's Master Feed, but Lysella says, "Don't worry. They won't." Episode 1x07: Majority Rule
- Middle initial "J." is revealed in "A Happy Refrain".
- Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
- Claire Finn: "I hear my mother's words in my head: 'Be open-minded, but not so open-minded your brain falls out.'" Episode 2x06: A Happy Refrain
- Episode 2x06: A Happy Refrain
- Episode 1x07: Majority Rule
- Episode 1x08: Into the Fold
- Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
- Episode 1x02: Command Performance
- Episode 2x09: Identity, Pt. 2
- Episode 1x08: Into the Fold
- Episode 1x05: Pria
- Digressions, Pt. 1
- Digressions, Pt. 2
- Episode 2x14: The Road Not Taken
- Episode 1x03: About a Girl
- Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
- Claire Finn: "I think it's been brewing since the shuttle crash." Episode 2x06: A Happy Refrain
- Claire Finn. Episode 2x06: A Happy Refrain
- Episode 2x08: Identity, Pt. 1
- Episode 1x02: Command Performance
- Episode 2x01: Ja'loja
- SciFi Diner Pilots 393 – Our Farpoint Interview with Penny Johnson Jerald (The orville, Star Trek: DS9, 24). SciFi Diner Podcast. Aug. 16, 2020.
- DesJardines, Jordan. "NYCC 2017: What’s Up Doc? Penny Johnson Jerald Talks ‘The Orville’". ScienceFiction.com. Oct. 13, 2017.
- Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 42.
- "Inside Look In 360° | Season 1 | THE ORVILLE". Fox. Sept. 1, 2017.
- MacFarlane, Seth. Orville 1x01 - Pilot. Fox Broadcasting Co.
- DesJardins, Jordan. "NYCC 2017: What’s Up Doc? Penny Johnson Jerald Talks ‘The Orville’". ScienceFiction.com. Oct. 13, 2017.
- Berger, Howard & Maxine Morris. "Space and Beyond". The Artisan. 2018.
- Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear
- Episode 1x10: Firestorm
- Episode 1x11: New Dimensions
- Episode 2x02: Primal Urges