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Look, Admiral, ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to serve on an exploratory vessel. And for you to put me in the captain's chair... yes, I'm ready.— Ed Mercer to Admiral Tom Halsey[1]

Ed Mercer was the Human Captain of the USS Orville. Since his days at Union Point, Mercer was respected as a gifted, young officer who seemed destined for admiralty. However, an affair between his wife, Kelly Grayson, and another man left him emotionally devastated and his performance suffered. A year later, Mercer was given command of the Orville based on Kelly's secret recommendation to Planetary Union Central.

From early into his career, Ed was involved in some of the Planetary Union's most important political and military missions: infiltrating and capturing the Yakar, leading the Orville in the Battle of Earth, and representing Earth at the Planetary Union Council's vote on the Sanctuary.

Ed is portrayed by Seth MacFarlane.


Early life[]

Admiral Halsey promotes Ed to captain.

Ed Mercer was born to Bert and Jeannie Mercer in Boxford, Massachusetts on Earth sometime in the late 24th century.[2] As a child, he dreamt of commanding his own starship.[3]

Ed enrolled in the academy Union Point, where he became "drinking buddies" with Gordon Malloy.[3] Gordon and Ed sat next to each other in every class they shared, such as astroarchaeology under Professor Lamarche.[4] One of Ed's flight instructors was Marcos, the eventual captain of the USS Roosevelt during the Battle of Earth.[5] He got a 'B+' in Temporal Theory, later stating no student received an 'A' in the course. "It's time travel, no one really gets it."[6] Ed excelled academically and graduated top of his class,[3] and he enlisted in the Planetary Union's Fleet.

In 2400, Ed served as an Ensign on the USS Bohr along with Gordon and Ycil.[7]

Ed began dating Kelly Grayson, an officer several years his junior, in 2414.[6] Ed and Kelly married later that same year and rented an apartment in New York City, New York.[8]

The two were friends with another couple, Jeff and Maureen. (In fact, Ed and Kelly each hated them, but assumed the other like them.) When they invited Ed and Kelly to an opera, Kelly made Ed smoke marijuana beforehand, knowing he hated opera. Kelly mixed up joints and accidentally gave him her "weapons-grade weed." The marijuana took effect in the middle of the theater, and Ed grew intensely paranoid he would be paralyzed if he stayed in his seat for longer than two minutes. He jumped out of his seat and "bashed" Maureen's head, giving her a massive bruise on her face. Jeff and Maureen stopped hanging out with Ed and Kelly.[8]

Ed worked tirelessly to advance in rank and commuted to Epsilon Eridani every day, much to Kelly's dismay, who felt ignored.[9]

Ed and Kelly's marriage strained. Kelly later said that she tried on "numerous occasions" to talk to her husband, but Ed simply shut her out. Ed claimed she never showed appreciation for working for their future.

Around September 2418, Ed came home to find Kelly in bed with Retepsian archaeologist Darulio. Dumbstruck and at a loss for words, Ed left, refusing to listen to Kelly as she begged for a chance to explain.[3] The couple divorced, and Ed moved out of the apartment[8] to live with Gordon.[10]

Ed grew depressed following the affair. His work ethic collapsed, and he began self-medicating with alcohol.[3] He showed up late to work, his work became "sloppy," and was reported six times for working hungover.[3] Admiralty was going to consider Ed for command until his recent unprofessionalism alarmed them.[11] In 2419, Kelly secretly recommended Ed to Admiral Tom Halsey for command.[12]

Halsey promoted Ed to captain of a mid-level exploratory vessel as his "one last chance."[3] As the Orville's helmsman had departed with her previous captain, Ed quickly hired Gordon.[3]

Early career as captain[]

Ed sits in his captain's chair for the first time.

I just want to say I am thrilled to be your new captain. I want this to be an efficient ship, tightly run, but also one that you're glad to be serving on.🔈ℹ︎— Ed Mercer[13]

Ed became captain of the USS Orville in the morning of September 10, 2419.[14] After introductions with his new crew, he spearheaded their first mission to resupply the science station on Epsilon 2. Along the way, they picked up their new first officer, Kelly. Ed was incensed. Kelly tried to apologize, which angered him further, so she agreed to request a transfer to another ship.

The Orville arrived at Epsilon 2 the next day. Ed led an away team to the Epsilon Science Station with Kelly, Chief of Security Alara Kitan, and Doctor Claire Finn. Their mission was sabotaged by Derek Ashton, a researcher and spy, who hailed the Krill military to steal a quantum accelerator from the scientists.

The away team managed to return to the Orville with Doctor Aronov and the device. Outclassed by the heavier Krill ship, Ed and Kelly cunningly sent the accelerator to the Krill destroyer with the seed of a redwood tree. Ed remotely activated the device, causing the seed to erupt in growth and destroy the Krill ship.

After their narrow victory in the Battle of Epsilon 2, Ed asked Kelly to remain First Officer.

Imprisonment in a Calivon zoo[]

A Calivon woman and her son, Nidal, watch Ed and Kelly at the zoo.

Around September or October 2419, the Orville picked up a distress call from the USS Blériot. When they arrived, a battle with the Krill had just ended and Ed learned his parents, Jeannie and Bert, were aboard. Ed and Kelly took a shuttle over, leaving Alara acting captain.

The Blériot was actually a Calivon buoy with a teleporter disguised by a holographic generator. The buoy sent Ed and Kelly to a zoo exhibit, an exact replica of their old apartment in New York City. Within a few days, Ed and Kelly devolved to bickering about each other.

Meanwhile, the Orville traced Ed and Kelly to Calivon space. Alara and Isaac negotiated their release. (Alara nearly got Ed and Kelly killed when she told the Calivon Zoo Administrator that the pair are sick.) Once freed, Ed resumed command of the ship.

The Bio-ship[]

Ed Mercer rescues Kelly Grayson from Hamelac's torture.

Captain, it seems we have encountered a dictatorial theocracy.
Oh, great, those are always fun.
🔈ℹ︎— Isaac and Ed Mercer[15]

The Orville encounterd a massive bio-ship in November 2419. He led an away team into the ship to discover an enormous interior ecosystem, so he split the team in two: himself, Isaac, and Doctor Claire Finn in one group and Kelly Grayson and Alara Kitan in the other.

Ed's group found a couple with a small farm. Their son, Tomilin, believed the officers to be from the "Underland" and took them to the Reformers, a group of religious dissidents under a theocratic dictatorship led by Hamelac. Elsewhere, Hamelac's police shot Alara and took Kelly to Hamelac for interrogation. Alara managed to contact Ed, who rescued her and led a rescue mission to save Kelly.

The group stormed Hamelac's headquarters and took Kelly by force. Kemka, leader of the Reformers, then guided the away team to the Bridge of the bio-ship. Ed ordered the ship's sunroof to be opened so that the people would realize they do not live in the world Hamelac preached.

Pria Lavesque and the theft of the Orville[]

The time-travelling thief Pria Lavesque takes control of the Orville away from Ed.

Ed lost control of his ship in late November or December 2419 when the Orville picked up a distress signal from the Horizon, a ship trapped on a nearby sundiver. Ed, Helmsman Gordon Malloy, and Alara took a shuttle and rescued its captain, Pria Lavesque. Ed invited Pria to a cocktail party later that evening and the two soon began dating.

Pria claimed to be a Vega Mining Consortium worker but was secretly from the 29th century. During a tour of the ship's Engineering, she installed a small device which granted her control of the Orville. Kelly and Alara suspected Pria is not who she said she was and illegally searched her quarters. Ed was furious and reprimanded them both. Chief Engineer Steve Newton discovered Pria's device, and Ed confronted her.

Pria revealed her true identity: an antiquities dealer from the future who traveled through a wormhole to steal the Orville. She took the Orville to the 29th century for sale to a Benzian collector, but the Orville's crew managed to wrest control back and fled to the 25th century.

Ed vowed never to mistrust his First Officer, Kelly again, then summoned Pria to his office. She pleaded with him to return to the 29th century and not disrupt the original timeline, but Ed ordered the Orville to fire upon the wormhole, destroying it and erasing Pria.

Other missions[]

Tribunal on Moclus.

  • In October 2419, Ed refused to force Doctor Claire Finn to perform a sex-change operation on the child of Second Officer Bortus and Klyden, and all parties attended Tribunal on Moclus. At Tribunal, Ed scoured the planet to find Heveena, a lone female living in the mountains. He brought her to testify, and she revealed herself to be the famous author Gondus Elden.[16]
  • In December, the Orville answered a distress call from the mining colony Kastra 4, under attack by the Krill destroyer Kakov. Under Ed's orders, they eluded the enemy by flying through the planet's atmosphere, then dropeds the entire payload at once, destroying the Kakov utterly and winning the Battle of Kastra 4.[17]

Infiltration of the Yakar[]

Ed undercover on board the Yakar as "Chris"

Ed, they're sending you into enemy space, and you're acting like it's some big joke. My God, if you are discovered.
Look, Kelly, why do you think I'm trying to lighten the mood here? I'm scared off my ass.
— Kelly Grayson and Ed Mercer[18]

Ed's most dangerous, and important, mission of his early career as captain took place in December 2419. In the aftermath of the destruction of the Kakov, a rare Krill shuttle was recovered from the wreckage. Admiral Ozawa joined the USS Orville to give Ed and Gordon Malloy a new mission: to pose as Krill survivors from the Kakov, infiltrate a Krill destroyer, and escape with a copy of the Anhkana. The Anhkana was a Krill holy text that preached the destruction of all other species believed inferior, which Planetary Union Central understood motivated the Krill. Though an Anhkana sat in every destroyer, the Union had not yet procured a copy.

Advanced holographic projection technology recovered from the Calivon[8] was adapted to fashion holographic disguises for Ed and Gordon. Posing as Krill soldiers "Chris" and "Devon," Ed and Gordon were picked up by the Yakar. Captain Haros gave Chris and Devon quarters. The two met Teleya, a school teacher on the ship.

Ed and Gordon capture the Yakar in one of the Planetary Union's most successful missions against the Krill.

Ed and Gordon managed to make a partial copy of the book, and, later, discovered a massive bomb several decks below. The bomb was a prototype to be dropped on the Union colony planet of Rana 3. Ed noticed that the Krill were extremely susceptible to UV radiation, and they devised a plan for Gordon to hack into the ship's engineering and cause the ship to emit large amounts of light; enough to kill a Krill but not enough to kill a Human.

Gordon successfully hacked into the ship's computers and sets a timer for the UV blast. Ed found Teleya and her young students in a classroom, and he destroyed the lighting. The Yakar arrived at Rana 3, but a blast of UV radiation was emitted, killing most Krill life on board excepting Teleya and the students.

Ed and Gordon took the nearly empty, captured Yakar to Planetary Union space. The mission was a rousing success. Not only did the two successfully acquire a copy of the Anhkana, but stole an entire Krill destroyer to boot.

January 2420 through January 2421[]

For the sake of the mission, Ed is forced to work alongside Darulio, in spite of their history.

Around January 2420, the Orville supervised research on an ancient birthing bucket discovered on the planet Lopovius. Ownership of the world was claimed by the Bruidian and Navarian species, resulting in a protracted and bloody conflict. As the birthing bucket contained genetic material of the first peoples of Lopovius, both sides agreed to honor the analysis of the Planetary Union as proof of one species' right to the planet.[19]

Compounding the problem was that the Union forensic archaeologist joining the Orville was Darulio, the man who slept with Ed's then-wife, Kelly Grayson, in 2418. Worse, Kelly slept with Darulio a second time when she was supposed to greet the Navarian delegation in the Shuttle Bay.[19]

Ed was outraged and threatened to dismiss Darulio. However, when he confronted the archeologist in Science Lab 1, he was unwittingly exposed to Darulio's sex pheromones and developed an attraction. Ed courted Darulio, ignoring his duties and jeopardizing the peace process, and ultimately slept with Darulio as the threat of war loomed.[19]

Fortunately, Chief of Security Alara Kitan learned of Darulio's pheromones and, with Nurse Henry Park, used synthesized Retepsian pheromones to lure the Navarian and Bruidian ambassadors into a temporary romantic asttraction. Both sides called off hostilities, and Ed (and Kelly) recovered from the influence of Darulio's pheromones.[19]

Discovery of a multiphasic planet and letter of reprimand[]

Ed is shocked to see the planet is centuries more advanced a mere eleven days later!

Ed's record as captain was marred around April or May 2420 with a letter of reprimand when Ed and Kelly began dating.[20]

After an away team of Kelly, Helmsman Gordon Malloy, and Isaac crash-landed on an uncharted planet, Kelly healed an injured girl with a dermoscanner. The native people had witnessed the healing and worshipped Kelly as a god. Ed, protecting Kelly, neglected to include Kelly's first contact in his incident report to Admiral Ozawa.[20]

The planet's peoples developed a religion around Kelly, invoking her not only as a healer but as a judge of accused criminals; and Ed was forced to inform Ozawa of Kelly's first contact. Ozawa was furious though she declined to strip him of command only because the away team "never intended to go down there in the first place."[21] She placed a letter of reprimand in his permanent file at Planetary Union Central.[20]

Ed took Kelly to the Valondis, the religious head, to disavow her godhood. While the Valondis believed her, he was quickly assassinated by a church leader to preserve power in the Church of Kelly. Ed next sent Isaac in an attempt to steer the people away from Kelly yet, as the peoples eventually surpassed the Union in technological prowess, they abandoned religion and belief in Kelly irrespective of the Orville's interference.[20]

Rescue of the Chogs[]

Ed meets the Chogs.

In early June 2420, Ed and Gordon took a shuttle from AXP 1E 1048-59 to Outpost 23 to speak at a tactical conference to brief officers on their mission on the Yakar. En route, they intercepted a distress beacon from the BCV Burton, which had crashed onto a nearby planet after a devastating battle with the Tzel, but they were shot down by the Burton's still-active Plasma Cannon. They crashed onto the planet's surface, discovering a population of Chogs surviving off of the Burton's Food Synthesizers.[22]

Ed and Gordon investigated the wreck of the Burton. A 100-year-old message left by its acting captain explained that after the Burton crashed, the planet's ecosystems, once verdant, were destroyed by a leaking quantum reactor. The Burton's surviving crew set the Burton up to protect the remaining Chogs. When the Orville arrived, Ed arranged for the Planetary Union to terraform the planet so that the Chogs may thrive once again.[23]

Other missions[]

Betrayal of Janel Tyler[]

Ed meets Janel Tyler at the Mess Hall bar in August 2420.

Ed met the ship's dark matter cartographer, Lieutenant Janel Tyler, in August 2420 and the two soon began dating.[30] By about September or October, the two took a romantic excursion to Sensoria 2, but they were waylaid by Krill marauders and taken captive.

Ed and Janel were imprisoned in separate prison cells aboard a Krill destroyer, and guards forced Ed to watch them torture Janel until he gave up his Planetary Union command codes. Ed gave them false codes. Satisfied, Janel revealed herself to be Teleya, the schoolteacher from the Yakar. Over the course of a year, she had undergone transcellular micrografting to appear Human, fooling even bioscanners, to enter the Union and eventually join the Orville.

Suddenly, the ship was attacked by Chak'tal, an enemy of the Krill. Ed and Teleya fled the destroyer by escape pod to the nearest habitable planet.

Survival and escape[]

Ed carries a distress beacon up a mountain.

The planet was empty of sentient life, and a signal was impossible from the lowlands where they landed. Teleya forced Ed to carry a portable distress beacon to the peak of the nearest mountain. Midway, the two realized the sun will rise soon, so they sought shelter in a cave. Ed predicted that if the Krill and the Union did not learn to trust each other, violence and war would leave "nothing left on Earth excepting fishes."

Ed learned that day on the planet lasts the equivalent of 23 Earth days. Without food and fleeing Chak'tal soldiers who pursued them to the planet, Teleya permitted Ed to summit the mountain and send the distress signal. The USS Orville picked up the signal. Ed guided Teleya up the mountain, covered by Ed's jacket. Chak'tal began scaling the mountain and the Orville's shuttle approached. Teleya, sensing the desperation of betrayal, almost shot Ed, but she instead handed him the Plasma Pistol to fire upon the Chak'tal and hold them at bay until they boarded the shuttle.


Back aboard the Orville, Ed made a highly controversial unilateral decision to release Teleya to the Krill, overriding his First Officer's strong objections and risking a court martial, in the hope that his decision would soften the Krill to the Union.

The Kaylon conflict[]

Ed leads the Orville through the brutal Battle of Earth against the Kaylon.

The USS Orville had hosted the Kaylon emissary Isaac since September 2419, ostensibly to learn about the Planetary Union and the cultures of biological life in order to determine whether or not to join the Union.[31] The Kaylon remotely deactivated Isaac in late January 2421, having secretly decided that biological life must be eradicated from the universe. When the Orville arrived, the Kaylon commandeered the ship and launched an attack on the Union.[32]

During the journey to Earth, the Kaylon held Ed and the other senior officers captive in the Shuttle Bay. Along the way, the Kaylon armada was greeted by the USS Roosevelt. Wishing to keep their attack secret, they forced Ed and First Officer Kelly Grayson to tell Marcos, now captain of the Roosevelt, that the armada was an ambassadorial envoy as the Kaylon have decided to join the Union. Ed secretly alerted Marcos that his message is a lie by wishing him "a 13-button salute," but the Kaylon knew of the code; they destroyed the Roosevelt and, as punishment, forced Ed to watch them kill an ensign.[5]

Isaac unexpectedly betrayed the Kaylon, killing the Kaylon and allowing Ed and the surviving crew to re-take the ship. In the ensuing Battle of Earth, Ed led the Orville through a fever-pitch fight against the Kaylon armada. When several spheres made a break for Earth, Ed ordered the Orville to evacuate and to ram the ship in a last-ditch, kamikaze attempt to stop them. Fortunately, a large Krill fleet arrived in time to route the remaining Kaylon.[5]

Lak'vai Pact of Tarazed 3[]

The Planetary Union selects Ed to sign the Lak'vai Pact of Tarazed 3.

The Kaylon conflict permanently altered the political relations of the Planetary Union and the Krill, and the two hastily agree to a temporary ceasefire in February 2421. As Ed's experience with the Krill was unmatched by any other officer, the Union sent Ed to the Tarazed system in March to sign a lak'vai pact with Ambassador K.T.Z.

The rogue terrorists Orrin and Leyna Channing attempted to sabotage the signing, but Ed managed to stall for time until sufficient evidence was procured to charge the pair with violating the ceasefire. Ed and the Ambassador signed the Lak'vai Pact of Tarazed 3 several days later.

April 2421 through July 2421[]

The Human representatives to the Planetary Union Council deliberate.

Several weeks later, the Orville discovered a planet of Moclan women and girls hidden from the government on Moclus, a refuge known as "The Sanctuary." While the Orville remained in orbit, Ed and Heveena, now the planet's leader, joined Admirals Halsey, Tucker, Perry, and Ozawa at the Planetary Union Council on Earth.

Moclus demanded the women be delivered home to be forcibly transitioned from female to male, lest the planet exit the Planetary Union and forge an independent alliance with the Krill. With the Kaylon threat imminent, the Union's members were split over acceding to Moclus.

In close-door sessions, Ed argued forcefully for refusing Moclus' demands on human rights grounds, and said he had told the Council for years not to rely so heavily on Moclus for its weapons manufacturing. Meanwhile, a Moclan Battlecruiser, led by Captain Dojin, found the sanctuary planet and began capturing the female Moclans. After admiralty ordered the Orville simply to stand by, Ed indirectly instructed First Officer Kelly Grayson and Second Officer Bortus to stop Dojin's illegal rendition and a skirmish soon broke out between the Orville and Dojin's soldiers.

The Council agreed to a provisional compromise: the enclave would cease bringing female Moclans and the Moclan government would take no action against the planet's current inhabitants. Ed told Heveena that he was dissatisfied with the shaky peace agreement.

Mission to Alibar[]

In July 2421, Ed and Kelly posed as Alibars and investigated whether a large construct in orbit around planet Alibar was a weapon.[7] The two determined the weapon was in fact an enormous Quantum Shifter, a device to shift the entire planet to an alternate universe. They escaped to the Orville just before the Shifter activated.[33]

Mission to Cruxis[]

Later that year, Ed bumped into his old professor, Lamarche, while the Orville was docked at Outpost 47. Lamarche enthralled Ed with evidence part of the fleet of the Zankon empire, which existed 3.4 million years ago, was hidden inside the Cruxis system - a powerful quaternary star system.[4] The group indeed found the lost Zankon fleet, but it was destroyed by Lamarche's assistant, Chalmi, to prevent another species from using Zankon technology to hurt others.[34]


New Horizons[]

Coming soon...

Alternate timelines[]

Ed in the alternate timeline.

In the original timeline, Ed died in late 2419 when the USS Orville was destroyed in a dark matter storm. The timeline was permanently altered when Pria Lavesque saved the Orville in an attempt to steal the ship.[2]

In an alternate timeline where Kelly Grayson declined a second date with Ed in 2413, Ed never became captain of the Orville. Almost immediately after Kelly turned him down, Gordon Malloy took Ed to a bar to cheer him up. They met Olix, who consoled Ed and the two became acquaintances. Ed vowed to take the first assignment possible just to be away from Kelly, a rash choice that probably damaged his career. It would be a long time before he focused back on his career and became commanding officer of the Epsilon Eridani outpost.[35]

Though getting close a couple of times, Ed never attained command of a starship. He served as Second Officer of the USS Watson from earlier than September 2419 and then as its First Officer in October. He later told Kelly that he had anticipated "another year or so" to become captain were it not for the Kaylon conflict.[36]

Ed was unhappy during his time on the Watson. The captain, Barrett, found him immature and annoying, but talented and intelligent enough to keep, and she privately rejected his application to transfer to the USS Jefferson. Ed had applied to the Jefferson to work beside Kelly, who was now its First Officer. Ed still worked aboard the Watson at the start of the Battle of Earth.[36]

The Battle of Earth was a disastrous route of the Union's fleet, with the Kaylon purging Earth of all life before campaigning to wipe out all biological life from the galaxy. Ed and Gordon Malloy somehow acquired the shuttlecraft ECV-342-1 and scavenged for supplies from deserted Union outposts for months until they were picked up by Kelly and her crew to reset the timeline.[35]

Relationship with Kelly Grayson[]

Darulio and Kelly Grayson caught in the act.

Ed met Kelly Grayson in 2413. The two went for drinks for their first date, leaving Kelly very hungover the next morning. Ed called, and she accepted his invitation for a second date. Kelly later recalled Ed had "zero game" for calling at 9:00 a.m. the next morning: "If I had been five years younger, I probably wouldn't have answered. But I had too much fun with you."[37]

Ed and Kelly married in 2414,[10] getting an apartment in New York City, New York.[8]

Ed claimed that during this period, Kelly would make Ed drink more than he wanted at parties.[6]

Ed began commuting to the Epsilon Eridani outpost, but his commitment to work taxed their relationship. Kelly recalls experiencing months of loneliness.[6]

With their relationship at the brink of collapse, Ed and Kelly attended counseling. In late 2418, Kelly met and slept with Darulio, a Retepsian archaeologist working as a civilian for the Planetary Union. "Ed had trouble with balance," Kelly later told Alara Kitan. "Between work and home. I just started to feel like I was living alone. Although I regret sleeping with Darulio, in a way I feel it was inevitable."[38] Ed discovered the affair and the two soon divorced.

Working together aboard the Orville[]

Ed and Kelly did not speak to each other for a full year. Motivated by guilt and a chance at forgiveness, Kelly quietly petitioned admiralty to promote Ed from lieutenant commander to captain and to make her his first officer. Ed took command of the USS Orville in September 2419 and Kelly joined the next day. Though initially outraged, Ed accepted her as first officer after surviving the Battle of Epsilon 2.

Their former relationship became a point of contention on the job. For example, she grew jealous when Ed dated Pria Lavesque and she illegally searched Pria's quarters.

By January 2420, Kelly had accepted that a relationship with Ed would be impossible: "He would never trust me in that way again."[19]

Darulio returns, and a second attempt at a relationship[]

Darulio was assigned to the Orville in the winter of 2420 to study a Lopovian birthing bucket. Kelly slept with Darulio a second time (missing her appointment with the Navarian and Bruidian delegations), infuriating Ed and reopening old wounds. Kelly considered dating Darulio; Ed spoke with Darulio, intending to remove him from the ship. Ed soon grew amourous with Darulio, and the two slept together.

Darulio, as a Retepsian, was in a biological period of producing a powerful, nearly irresistible sex pheromone.[19] When the pheromones wore off, Ed asked Darulio if Kelly had been under the influence of his pheromones when she slept with him. Darulio says only, "Maybe."[19]

Ed took Darulio's answer as confirmation Kelly had not been in control of herself when she had the affair and several months later told her over drinks in the Mess Hall that he was ready to attempt a relationship again. The two dated for a month. However, after Ed protected Kelly by failing to notify Admiral Ozawa of first contact with a developing world and risking his career, Kelly decided that a relationship was impossible and broke up with him around June 2420.

Moving on[]

Kelly began dating Cassius, a civilian schoolteacher aboard the ship, in July and revealed their relationship to Ed in August. Ed was hurt and jealous, he even spied on them enjoying wine in her quarters, but slowly accepted her new boyfriend. Ed briefly dated the dark matter cartographer Janel Tyler from August until September, and Kelly broke up with Cassius around December 2420.

Dating young Kelly[]

By early 2421, Ed stated he was still open to a relationship again, but Kelly remain edunchanged. After Isaac's research on the quantum accelerator brought Kelly from seven years ago into the present, Ed began dating her, which perturbed the older Kelly.

On their first date, Ed and young Kelly went for dinner at Mooska's. She goaded Ed into drinking heavily, and the two kissed goodnight. For their second date, Kelly took Ed, Gordon, Bortus, Klyden, and Talla Keyali to a simulation of one of her favorite places on Earth: a nightclub. Ed felt out-of-place in a club at his age.

Ed slowly saw his feelings for young Kelly were really a reflection of his feelings for the older Kelly. One night, Kelly wore blue lingerie, which Ed recognized as an article older Kelly had worn on their one-year anniversary. After a brief kiss, Ed confessed, "Seven years ago, she was you, and I was completely in love with her. And yes, she's changed a lot, but so have I. We've evolved together. And... I still love her."


Ed, in the eyes of the admiralty, you've proven yourself worthy of that chair. You have validated our trust in you.— Admiral Halsey to Ed Mercer[39]

Ed Mercer was a skilled, if inexperienced, leader. Since his days as a cadet at Union Point, Ed's achieved top scores and worked hard, and Admiral Tom Halsey predicted he would command his own heavy cruiser by the age of 40.[3] Yet Ed's commitment to work came at the cost of personal development, and his early marriage to Kelly Grayson suffered.

Becoming captain of the USS Orville reinvigorated Ed, and he quickly proved a capable, attentive commander willing to risk life and reputation for the sake of others. He risked court martial to release Teleya to the Krill without Union approval.[40] When Captain Dojin forcibly extracted Moclan women from their sanctuary planet for sex reassignment surgery, Ed feigned communication problems so that Kelly, as acting captain, could fight Dojin's soldiers under the shield of plausible deniability.[41]

Ed's independent streak derived from a principled understanding of morality where ethical values are more important than blindly following orders; and Ed rarely came to a decision without examining his own beliefs first. For example, he played devil's advocate with Kelly when he questions the Moclus' mandatory sex reassignment of Topa.[16]

However, Ed's willingness to jettison protocol for others got him into trouble. While dating Kelly in May 2420, he declined to inform Admiral Ozawa that Kelly made first contact with a planet's developing civilization. The infraction nearly cost Ed his rank.[20]

Ed consumed alcohol liberally, therapeutically, and socially. Gordon Malloy was Ed's drinking buddy at Union Point. After his divorce from Kelly, Ed self-medicated with alcohol and his job performance suffered.[3] Ed continued to drink heavily even as a captain to the point that Chief of Security Alara Kitan mentioned that the crew had noticed he was often seen at the Mess Hall's bar during off-hours.[27]

A true explorer at heart, Ed once expressed that he would choose to live forever if it were possible. When asked why, he replied simply "I want to see what happens."[42]

Ed's crisis of self-doubt[]

Kelly helps Ed learn to trust himself and accept help from others.

Around March 2420, Ed learned Planetary Union Central had promoted him to captain based on Kelly Grayson's recommendation. Though Admiral Halsey told Ed that he had proven himself worthy of the captain's chair, Ed lost faith in his abilities. After a month of self-doubt and reflection, Ed saw that he should have thanked Kelly for campaigning for him: no single person succeeds without the help of their peers.[12]

Relationship with Gordon Malloy[]

Gordon Malloy and Ed Mercer had been close friends since Union Point, and Ed even hired Gordon to be helmsman of the Orville.[3] As Gordon was overly laid-back even to the point of negligence, Ed often kept him in check.

Ed and Gordon worked well together on the field. They infiltrated and captured the Yakar[17] and rescued the Chogs from their dying world.[22][23] Their friendship was not perfect. Orrin Channing had once been Gordon's best friend before Orrin was captured by the Krill. When Orrin reappeared, Ed admitted that he felt insecure about his friendship with Gordon.[43]

Relationship with the crew[]

When Ed first met Alara Kitan as his new Chief of Security, he was put off by her lack of experience.[44] His opinion softened after rescuing Kelly and him from a Calivon zoo, and he awarded her a Sapphire Star for bravery.[8] By February 2420, Ed told her, "If I was being rushed by an angry Moclan who wanted to kill me, the one person I would want between him and me is you."[44] Ed initially resented Claire Finn because he believed that she held a presumption that he needed an adviser or counselor to do his job. Over time, however, he came to trust and rely on her, to the point that he could not imagine captaining the Orville without the security of her watchful eye. When Talla Keyali first replaced Alara Kitan, it took time for him to get used to her tough, hard-edged demeanor in comparison with Alara. He found it sad, as he had developed a substantial trust in Alara. Over time, however, Ed grew to like Talla, her having proven herself on multiple occasions and having pulled the Orville's crew out of more than one tough spot.[45]


Ed Mercer is the first character created by Seth MacFarlane for the show, a reaction against the traditional approach to make captains in science fiction virtuous, wizened leaders.[46] According to MacFarlane: "There's a consistency to the classic starship captain model that they are paragons of virtue, that they are these models of nobility. That is what I was trying to steer away from, because I haven't seen a captain who is kind of that mediocre, accounting kind of guy."[47] Instead, he wrote the character of Ed as a flawed, but ultimately good person, and then added a co-worker who is also his ex-wife to flesh out Ed's foibles and add drama.[46]


  • Ed Mercer's original name was "Ed Stevens," but was changed sometime after completing the first draft of the script and before shooting the pilot.[48]
    • Ultimately, creator Seth MacFarlane gave Ed the last name "Mercer," which MacFarlane frequently uses for characters in productions like Family Guy. Mercer is a surname of some of MacFarlane's relatives.[49]
    • "Mercer" is an English surname denoting someone who specializes in trading textiles.
  • Ed's epaulet on his right shoulder (audience's left) have unique text that is barely visible. It can only be easily read in a scene in If the Stars Should Appear. The left side of the epaulet says UC 0321 PLANETARY UNION CENTRAL and the right side says M3-VW\UI-00. It is unclear what the codes mean and are probably gibberish added by the wardrobe department.
  • According to Admiral Tom Halsey, Ed was not only top of his class at Union Point but was so highly regarded that the admiralty believed he would captain a heavy cruiser by age 40.[3]
  • Ed kept a plush of Kermit from The Muppets on the desk in his office. He tells Second Officer Bortus, "He's just a leader I admire. Always keeps his cool in a crisis; inspires greatness in people."[8]
    • Rarely noticed is that Ed's Kermit object in Old Wounds is not the famous plush doll but a small, two-inch figurine. The plush doll replaced the small figurine in the next episode, Command Performance.
    • He earlier kept the Kermit doll in the living room of his apartment in New York City when he was married to Kelly Grayson.[50]
  • Ed had hypocritical standards when it came to the consumption of alcohol. He criticized Helmsman Gordon Malloy for getting drunk in the morning during Old Wounds, but attempted to have a beer shortly after waking up in Command Performance.
    • However, this may be due to Ed disapproving of intoxication while piloting a vessel, and not an overall resentment towards alcohol consumption.
  • According to First Officer Kelly Grayson, when Ed was truly in pain, he gave straight answers with no cursing.[3]
  • It seems as though Ed Mercer was highly educated on television shows from the 20th and 21st century judging by his continuous references to pop culture from those eras.
  • When he was ten, his mother took him to the Salem history museum, which "scared the crap out of him" due to the holographic recreation of the trial and caused him to have nightmares for a month.
  • Ed implied that he had been bullied throughout primary school, even claiming he had an Anti-Bullying law specifically named after him. It's unknown if this is simply hyperbole or a legitimate fact about the Earth's legal stance on bullying.
  • He had arachnophobia, a fear of spiders.
  • He and Lieutenant Dann shared the same birthday.
  • Gordon Malloy recounted that when Ed and Kelly were together, Ed called Philippa Jones "Fallopia" at a mixer at Admiral Tom Halsey's house after drinking scotch.[6]
  • Ed might have attended Union Point with someone named "Nick Lewis," but he might have invented the name.[38]
  • Ed decorated his office with the following:
    • Kermit plush doll
    • A picture hanging at the right of the door:
    • Scale model of the Orville
    • Scale model of the Wright Flyer
    • A piece of dead coral
  • He flossed with only Navidian micro-silk because he has "very tight spaces between [his] teeth."[40]
  • He swam with his shirt on until he was 20.[35]
  • He said that he had always hated his name 'Ed Mercer' and would like to pick a different one.[28]
  • Ed makes no appearance in the comic-book issue Heroes, Pt. 2, despite being incorrectly credited.
  • The last time Ed saw Professor Lamarche was at Ed's graduation from Union Point.[4]
  • Ed's philosophy for recovering from a lost love is to not visit the places where people have been happy (source: Electric Sheep).




  1. Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  2. 2.0 2.1 Episode 1x05: Pria
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Episode 2.5x07: Artifacts, Pt. 1
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Episode 2x09: Identity, Pt. 2
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Episode 2x13: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
  7. 7.0 7.1 Episode 2.5x01: Launch Day, Pt. 1
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Episode 1x02: Command Performance
  9. Kelly makes multiple comments about this in Cupid's Dagger. Ed talks about commuting to Epsilon Eridani in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.
  10. 10.0 10.1 citation needed
  11. Tom Halsey: "We would have offered you a command earlier but you haven't inspired confidence this past year." Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Episode 1x11: New Dimensions
  13. Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  14. See Timeline, note 18.
  15. Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear
  16. 16.0 16.1 Episode 1x03: About a Girl
  17. 17.0 17.1 Episode 1x06: Krill
  18. Episode 1x06: Krill
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry
  21. Ed Mercer. Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry
  22. 22.0 22.1 Episode 1.5x01: New Beginnings, Pt. 1
  23. 23.0 23.1 Episode 1.5x02: New Beginnings, Pt. 2
  24. Episode 1.5x03: The Word of Avis, Pt. 1
  25. Episode 1.5x04: The Word of Avis, Pt. 2
  26. Episode 2x02: Primal Urges
  27. 27.0 27.1 Episode 2x03: Home
  28. 28.0 28.1 Episode 2x05: All the World is Birthday Cake
  29. Episode 2x07: Deflectors
  30. Episode 2x01: Ja'loja
  31. See Episode 1x01: Old Wounds; Episode 2x06: A Happy Refrain.
  32. Episode 2x08: Identity, Pt. 1
  33. Episode 2.5x02: Launch Day, Pt. 2
  34. Episode 2.5x08: Artifacts, Pt. 2
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Episode 2x14: The Road Not Taken
  36. 36.0 36.1 Digressions, Pt. 1
  37. Kelly Grayson. Episode 2x13: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
  38. 38.0 38.1 Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear
  39. Episode 1x11: New Dimensions
  40. 40.0 40.1 Episode 2x04: Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes
  41. Episode 2x12: Sanctuary
  42. Episode 3x03: Mortality Paradox
  43. Episode 2x10: Blood of Patriots
  44. 44.0 44.1 Episode 1x10: Firestorm
  45. Sympathy for the Devil
  46. 46.0 46.1 Pascale, Anthony. "Interview: Seth MacFarlane Talks Mission Of ‘The Orville’ And Defends Star Trek: TNG’s Replicators". Sept. 4, 2017.
  47. "Brannon Braga & The Orville Cast Full interview 2017 Panel NYC convention". NYC ComicCon. Nov. 20, 2017.
  48. MacFarlane, Seth. Orville 1x01 - Pilot. Fox Broadcasting Co.
  49. Thapa, Shaurya. "The Orville: 10 Things You Never Knew About The Star Trek Parody". ScreenRant. Sept. 8, 2020.
  50. The Kermit doll can be seen in the Calivon reconstruction of their apartment. Ed: "This is the one from my office. I took it with me when I moved out." Episode 1x02: Command Performance