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Ed, I can't apologize enough. I know it doesn't matter to you, but I am sorrier for what I did to you than anything I've ever done in my entire life.— Kelly Grayson[1]

Kelly Grayson was a human Commander and First Officer aboard the USS Orville. Unlike most of the crew who served under the Orville's previous captain, Kelly personally requested to serve as Ed Mercer's first officer. She previously served aboard a different, unidentified ship.[2]

As a child, Kelly dreamed of finding love and becoming captain of a ship. She studied as a cadet at Union Point and joined the Planetary Union as a Science Officer, where she met Ed. Soon after, Kelly was sent to the Orville in the year 2421 due to a temporal disturbance. She learned that she would eventually cheat on, and divorce, Ed. Once returned to her time period, Kelly decided to end their relationship, altering the timeline and ensuring the Kaylon would one day destroy the Union. In this timeline, Kelly married Cassius and served as First Officer of the USS Jefferson until the Battle of Earth against the Kaylon, after which she successfully led a ragtag crew to send Doctor Claire Finn back in time to erase her memory.

The timeline restored, Kelly and Ed were married from 2414 to 2418 until her affair with Darulio ended their relationship. Wracked by guilt, Kelly quietly convinced the admiralty to promote Ed to captain of the Orville and assign her as first officer.

Kelly was known as one of the most level-headed, courageous, and creative members of the crew: planting a redwood seed in a quantum accelerator saved the Orville in the Battle of Epsilon 2; and, in the Battle of Earth, she led a daring mission to recruit the Krill which turned the tide of battle for the Union.

Kelly is portrayed by American actress Adrianne Palicki.


Early life[]

Kelly I'd love it

Kelly accepts Ed's offer for a second date.

Kelly Grayson was likely born on Earth[3] on November 2 in the 2380s or early 2390s.[4] Growing up, her most important goals in life were to fall in love, to captain her own ship, and "to help make the galaxy a better place."[5]

As a child, Kelly took piano lessons because she was told she "had the hands for it" but quit after three lessons. "Had the hands," she recounted. "But not the talent."[6]

Kelly Grayson's father served within the Planetary Union and she followed in his footsteps.[7] She enrolled at Union Point where she took courses in diplomacy[8] and a year of interplanetary law.[9] Grayson recounted that her diplomacy professor, Professor Fincher, had falsely told others that she wanted to hook up with him and, enraged, she had pushed him into a pool.[8]

Kelly recalled of her time at Union Point, "I used to drink all night and then report for duty the next morning."[3] In one incident, Kelly slid down the main conduit in her underwear as a party game with other cadets but was caught by her commanding officer. Staff made Kelly clean toilets as punishment.[3]

After matriculation, Kelly served as a Science Officer in the Planetary Union; first as an ensign, and then as a lieutenant by 2413.[3]

Dating Ed Mercer and travel to the year 2421[]

Kelly met and dated Ed Mercer in late 2414, a fellow officer several years her senior. Their first date consisted of a night of heavy drinking. While brewing coffee to treat her hangover, Kelly was sent to the USS Orville in the year 2421 after a version of herself from 2421 came into contact with a quantum accelerator.

The future upset younger Kelly: divorced, childless, socially distant from the crew, and never having attained captaincy. The older Kelly grew disappointed and sad: "When I was younger I used to think I'd be a captain at this point in my life. ... I thought I'd have a husband and kids by now."

Young Kelly was briefly made an officer in the year 2421 and served aboard the Orville until the Isaac and Chief Engineer John LaMarr learned how to return her to 2414. Before leaving, young Kelly told her older self that she was impressed by her leadership and constitution to serve as first officer. Doctor Claire Finn administered a drug before young Kelly returned to make her forget that she would date, marry, and eventually divorce Ed over the next seven years.

Alternate timeline: 2414 through 2421[]

Kelly alternate

Kelly in an alternate timeline.

Claire's memory wipe failed because Kelly was deficient in the protein beta-secretase. Young Kelly decided to turn down Ed's request for a second date to spare themselves the pain of a failed marriage, sparking a different chain of events where Ed never helmed the Orville and the Kaylon won the Battle of Earth.[10] "I thought not seeing him again would save us pain," she later reflected. "I was wrong."[11]

In this timeline, Kelly served aboard several ships as an officer and rose in rank to become First Officer of the Leviathan-class heavy cruiser USS Jefferson under Captain Al Mosley.[11] According to Talla Keyali, she had an "an outstanding service record."[12] She met Cassius, a Union civilian who had been assigned to the Orville as a schoolteacher, in a terminal. Cassius immediately transferred to the Jefferson. The two eventually married.[11]

Kelly served on the Jefferson when it rendezvoused with the Orville, commanded by Captain Griffith, after an alternate version of the Battle of Epsilon 2. It was there Kelly realized that Isaac was still emissary and that a Kaylon attack on Earth would happen again. She considered warning the Union of the Kaylon, but Cassius cautioned her not to raise an alarm: "The Universe will take care of itself."[11]

In January 2421, Kelly met Doctor Claire Finn and her son. To Kelly's horror, Claire had recently accepted an appointment on Outpost 73; without Claire aboard the Orville, Isaac would never fall in love with Claire and never betray the Kaylon. Kelly warned Admiral Tom Halsey of the threat, but was rebuffed as the Orville was already on its way to Kaylon 1,[11] so she independently contacted Chief Security Officer Talla Keyali and Chief Engineering Officer John LaMarr - neither of whom believed her but both of whom notified Griffith that Kelly knew of the highly classified quantum accelerator. Mosley was incensed that Kelly somehow knew of the quantum accelerator. Kelly, in turn, resigned her commission.[12]

No longer a Union officer, Kelly and Cassius left the Jefferson in February 2421 at its next stop: Outpost 73. They secured a scavenger ship with the aim to recruit crew members of the Orville from the original timeline. Claire was first to join. Meanwhile, the Kaylon routed the Union at the Battle of Earth. Several Kaylon Spheres attacked Outpost 73, and Kelly watched in horror from the ship's Bridge as her husband was killed.[12]

Kelly sent Claire back in time to 2414 with a modified memory-wiping drug. After Claire wiped young Kelly's memory, the alternate timeline was erased and Kelly accepted Ed's request for a second date, returning events to the original timeline.[10]

Marriage to Ed and divorce[]

Ed and Kelly picnic

Ed and Kelly on a date.

Kelly married Ed Mercer in 2414, only months after their first date. During Ed's officer exam, Kelly surprised him with a picnic date of sandwiches, banana bread, and rosé wine.[8]

Kelly and Ed lived in an apartment in New York City.[2]

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 hates 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.[13]

Ed's commitment to work and neglect of their relationship made Kelly feel lonely and miserable. Ed commuted to Epsilon Eridani every day for several months.[3] In late 2418, Ed caught Kelly in bed with Darulio, a Retepsian civilian archaeologist in the Union. They divorced soon after and did not see each other for a year.[2]

Wracked by guilt, Kelly quietly convinced Admiral Tom Halsey to promote Ed to captain and to make her first officer.[14] Kelly mentioned that she was assigned to a different ship prior to joining the Orville and "bailed on her crewmates" to transfer.[2] Halsey later stated that he agreed because of his friendship with her father.[7] Both Ed and Kelly were soon assigned to the USS Orville.

Early career as first officer[]

Kelly was picked up by the USS Orville from Station 794 on September 10, 2419, joining the team on its first mission under now-Captain Ed Mercer to Epsilon 2. Ed was furious and Kelly stated that she would request a transfer off the Orville.[2]

The next day, Kelly joined an away team to Epsilon Science Station on Epsilon 2. Their mission took an unexpected turn when Derek Ashton, a researcher and Krill spy, hailed a Krill destroyer to attack the station and seize its quantum accelerator.

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 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.

Kelly arranged for Lieutenant Murphy of the USS Chanute to replace her. After their narrow victory in the Battle of Epsilon 2, and deeply impressed with her clever solution, Ed asked Kelly to remain First Officer.

Imprisonment in a Calivon 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.

Calivon Zoo Ed Mercer Kelly Grayson

Ed and Kelly are the newest addition to a Calivon zoo.

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.

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[]

Grayson Tomilin Mercer Finn Torture

Kelly was badly tortured by Hamelac.

The Orville encountered a massive bio-ship in November 2419. Kelly joined an away team into the ship only to discover an enormous interior ecosystem, so Ed split the team in two: Ed, Isaac, and Doctor Claire Finn in one group and Kelly and Chief of Security Alara Kitan in the other.

Kelly and Alara were stopped by police of a theocratic dictatorship led by Hamelac. They shot Alara and left her for dead and kidnapped Kelly. Hamelac tortured and interrogated Kelly, believing her to be a Reformer, a member of secretive group of religious dissidents. Alara woke up and contacted Ed, who rescued her and led a rescue mission to save Kelly.

The group stormed Hamelac's headquarters and took Kelly by force. As the Reformers had taken over the ship from Hamelac's government, the Union rescued the population on the bio-ship and settled them on a planet.

Theft of the Orville and letter of reprimand[]

Pria Lavesque Charlize Theron Kelly Grayson

Kelly (left) at a cocktail party

I think you're letting her charisma cloud the fact that she may not be what she seems.— Kelly Grayson to Ed Mercer[15]

Kelly received a letter of reprimand on her permanent record in November or December 2419 after a serious breach of privacy. When the Orville picked up the distress signal from the Horizon, a ship trapped on a nearby sundiver, an away team 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 was not who she said she was and illegally searched her quarters. Ed was furious and placed a letter of reprimand on Kelly's file. Meanwhile, Chief Engineer Steve Newton discovered Pria's device.

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 flee to the 25th century.

Ed vowed never to mistrust his First Officer, Kelly, again, and the Orville destroyed the wormhole, permanently altering the timeline.

Rescue of John LaMarr from Sargus 4[]

Orville Majority rule

Kelly purchases Vote Badges on Sargus 4.

Around late December 2419, Kelly led Claire, Alara, and Navigator John LaMarr on a search for Union anthropologists Tom and Lewis, both of whom went missing during an undercover mission on Sargus 4. John grinded on a statue of Mella Giffendon, and a video was uploaded to the planet's Master Feed. The police arrested John for his offense and he was forced to undergo an apology tour. Kelly followed John through his tour, and she explained the repercussion of failing an apology tour - Social Correction - which terrified him.

Kelly, Claire, and Alara met Lysella, a native Sargun barista, and recruited her to find Lewis, who was socially corrected a month prior. (Tom had been killed attempting to escape Social Correction.) Lewis was taken to the Orville where Claire determined that his correction drastically and irreversibly damaged his brain. Kelly and Alara brought Lyslla to the Orville and, along with Ed, Gordon, Second Officer Bortus, and Isaac, successfully manipulated the Master Feed to change Sargun opinion of John. As John received too few downvotes required for Social Correction, he was freed and returned to the ship.

Other missions[]

IMG 1563

Kelly is strongly against sex reassignment of Bortus and Klyden's child.

Darulio returns, and the Navarian-Bruidian conflict[]


Tempers (and passions) rise when Kelly's old flame returns.

Oh, am I yelling? Am I yelling? Are you worried people are gonna hear that you banged Darulio again when you were supposed to be in the shuttle bay preventing a war from starting? Are you insane?Ed Mercer to Kelly Grayson[17]

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.

Compounding the problem was that the Union forensic archaeologist joining the Orville is Darulio, the man who slept with Kelly in 2418. Worse, Kelly slept with Darulio a second time when she was supposed to greet the Navarian delegation in the Shuttle Bay. Captain Ed Mercer was outraged and threatened to dismiss Darulio, but Kelly was un-remorseful and desired a relationship with him.

Ed confronted the archeologist in Science Lab 1 and 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 looms. Kelly was heartbroken that Darulio stayed with Ed, and passed the night in her quarters crying.

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 attraction. Both sides called off hostilities, and Kelly (and Ed) recovered from the influence of Darulio's pheromones.

First contact with a multiphasic planet[]

Kelly Grayson girl dermoscanner

Kelly heals an injured girl and changes that planet's history forever.

I didn't heal that girl with my touch. I used a tool. Like you would use a garden hoe or a hammer. It's just a little more advanced, that's all.— Kelly Grayson to the Valondis[18]

Kelly and Ed began dating again in April or May 2420. Meanwhile, Kelly joined Helmsman Gordon Malloy, and Isaac on an away team that crash-landed on an uncharted planet. Kelly explored the planet's surface while Gordon and Isaac repaired the shuttle. She encountered two young indigenous girls, one of whom fell and cut her forehead, and Kelly used a dermoscanner to heal her. The native people witnessed the healing and worship Kelly as a god. Ed, protecting Kelly, neglected to include Kelly's first contact in his incident report to Admiral Ozawa.

Kelly Grayson

A mother thinks Kelly is the return of her goddess.

The planet was multiphasic: it spent 11 days in an alternate universe and appeared in the USS Orville's universe for a brief time before returning to the other one. Moreover, time progressed far slower in the alternate universe. Eleven days in the Orville's universe was equivalent to 700 years in the other.

When the planet next appeared, it had advanced from a bronze-age level of technological development to something like the Middle Ages on Earth. When an away team traveled to the surface, a woman recognized Kelly as a deity and begged Kelly to bless her son. Along a road, the team saw people crucified for disbelief in Kelly. In a nearby city, a mother warned her child that Kelly watched him always; a man slit the wrists of accused criminals, saying that if they were innocent, Kelly would heal them. Admiral Ozawa was furious that first contact was made. She formally reprimanded Ed and ordered the Orville to stand by.

Kelly was deeply upset that people worship and kill in her name. She returned to the planet to find the Valondis, the religious leader, and convinced him she was not divine. However, after Kelly left, a nearby official murdered the Valondis to preserve power in the Church of Kelly, and worship of Kelly continued unabated another 700 years.

Kelly Grayson

Kelly realizes the planet now worships her as a goddess.

Kelly offered to stay on the planet to correct her mistake, but the Orville's senior staff sends Isaac, whose Kaylon body could endure for millions of years. Isaac returned 11 days later, the planet having evolved well beyond the Union's capabilities. She learned that, as the peoples eventually surpassed the Union in technological prowess, they abandoned religion and belief in Kelly irrespective of the Orville's interference.

Recognizing that Ed compromised his professional judgment to protect her, she broke up with him.

June 2420 through mid-2421[]

Giliac camps Regorian

Kelly and Bortus are imprisoned in this Regorian prison camp.

Kelly continued to serve aboard the USS Orville and began dating Cassius, a civilian schoolteacher on the ship, starting in late June 2420.[19] The two announced their relationship to Ed Mercer in August.[20]

Imprisonment on Regor 2[]

In October 2420, Kelly joined a first contact delegation to Regor 2. The Regorians learned that Kelly and Second Officer Bortus were born in the month of Giliac according to their astrological system and imprisoned them in a Giliac camp.

While the Planetary Union tried a diplomatic solution to free Kelly and Bortus, Kelly witnessed widespread abuses by the Regorian guards against fellow Giliacs and the two became convinced that a violent insurrection would be necessary. Kelly and Bortus attempted a prison break and nearly succeeded, but were re-captured at the prison gates.

The guards decided to execute Kelly and Bortus, but stopped when they saw a new star in the sign of Giliac. (In reality, the Orville had positioned a solar sail to imitate a new star and disrupt the constellation.) The Regorian government freed both officers shortly thereafter.

Other missions[]

  • In June 2420, Kelly served as acting captain when Ed and Helmsman Gordon Malloy traveled to Outpost 23. She supervised Isaac's study of magnetar AXP 1E 1048-59. Ed and Gordon crashed on the Chog homeworld and discovered the remains of the lost Union ship BCV Burton. Kelly led the Orville's search and rescue.[19]
  • Kelly served as acting captain in September when Ed ventured to the surface of Xelaya to speak with Chief of Security Alara Kitan.[21]
  • She served as acting captain in late September or early October when Ed was captured by the Krill after he was double-crossed by Janel Tyler (Teleya). Kelly rescued Ed and Teleya from an uninhabited world, to which the two fled to escape the Chak'tal.[22]
  • When the Orville discovered a hidden sanctuary for Moclan females around March 2421, Kelly served as acting captain while Ed and Heveena went to the Planetary Union Council to persuade the members to protect the planet from Moclus. Meanwhile, the Moclan government quietly ordered Captain Jakohn to forcibly extradite the women. Kelly and Bortus flew alone to the planet's surface and fought Jakohn's soldiers until the Council reached an agreement with Moclus.[23]
  • In early or mid-2421, young Kelly helped the Orville avoid the scans of patrolling Kaylon spheres by hiding among the icy rings of Vendek 2 and shutting down all power.[3]
  • In July 2421, Kelly and Ed posed as Alibars in the capital of their planet to determine whether a large, orbiting construct was a weapon.[24] 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.[25]

Battle of Earth[]

In late January 2420, Isaac, the Kaylon Emissary to the Planetary Union and a Science and Engineering Officer aboard the USS Orville, deactivated, his mission to gather intelligence on the Union having concluded. The Orville returned Isaac to Kaylon 1. Kelly and Doctor Claire Finn convinced the Kaylon to reactivate Isaac, who promptly resigned his provisional commission with the Union.[26]

The Orville remained docked at Kaylon 1 as it awaited the Kaylon's decision whether or not to join the Union. Meanwhile, the Kaylon quietly constructed an armada. The Orville discovered the corpses of the Builders, the biological lifeforms behind the Kaylon. The Kaylon revealed they had overthrown their architects and now sought to eradicate all biological life in the galaxy. A small detachment, including Isaac, commandeered the Orville and imprisoned the officers. The armada and the Orville then launched their offensive on Earth.[26]

Recruiting the Krill[]

Imprisoned in the Shuttle Bay, the senior officers recognized that while a shuttle could not reach Earth ahead of the armada, the Krill were nearer and could be contacted. Kelly and Helmsman Gordon Malloy escaped by shuttle, hotly pursued by an Interceptor.[27]

The Interceptor nearly closed upon the shuttle, but Kelly and Gordon diverted all power to the quantum drive to exceed the shuttle's theoretical speed ceiling and to end up somewhere in Krill space. Within moments, three Krill destroyers arrived and captured them. One of the Krill captains interrogated Kelly and Gordon, unpersuaded by their account, until the Interceptor attacked. The Krill barely won the ensuing brutal battle, but the survivors quickly agreed to join the upcoming Battle of Earth to ensure the Kaylon would fail in their quest to exterminate all biological life.[27]

During the Battle of Earth, Kelly served beside the Krill captain and returned to the Union after the informal coalition defeated the Kaylon.[27]

An Old Friend[]

In early 2422, the Orville unexpectedly discovered signals indicating thriving life on the planet of Narran 1, which all previous Planetary Union surveys had indicated as being a barren rock. Kelly personally joined the away team to investigate the planet, along with Ed Mercer, Gordon Malloy, Talla Keyali and Bortus. Once there, the group found themselves in a series of bizarre scenarios in which they seemed to keep shifting time periods and locations, and in each instance, one of their lives being placed in danger. Kelly personally experienced this when she was pulled under the surface of Lake Ruell of Xelaya by an octopus-like creature and very nearly drowned until she was rescued by Talla. She, like the others, experienced a strange feeling of being outside her own body at the moment when it seemed like she was about to die.

Eventually, "Talla" revealed herself to actually be a woman named Dinal who had secretly replaced Talla. She stated that they didn't know her, but did know her ancestors. "Your ancestors?" asked Kelly and she replied "Oh, Kelly, our goddess, lord and savior," revealing herself to be from the Multiphasic Planet, the members of which had once worshiped Kelly as a deity. "Or, more accurately, a simple human woman with a less-than-simple relationship to our forebears," continued Dinal. She explained that since that time, her people had experienced nearly 50,000 years and grown beyond a typical mortal existence. They had learned to take the reins of evolution, but in that time had lost all concept of mortality. She thus conceived these experiments in order to see what it was like through their eyes. She told them to leave behind the abstractions they inhabited and that they would meet again one day.[28]

Helping Topa[]

Later that year, Kelly paid a visit to the Environmental Simulator, where she discovered Bortus and Klydens' son, Topa, using the command program. He apologized for having exceeded his allotted time and when she noted he was using the program asked if it was not permitted. She told him that there were no restrictions, but admitted to being surprised, as people his age didn't normally use it. He told her that when he was old enough, he was thinking of taking the entrance examination for Union Point. She told him it was a mountain to climb, but offered her guidance and a chance to shadow her to learn more about what service aboard a Union vessel entailed.

Topa took Kelly up on her offer and the two toured the various departments of the Orville. She explained that a lot of Union service was mundane busy work, things such as "ass-kissing" and working to resolve the types of cultural conflicts that emerged aboard a vessel with so many species. Topa seemed fascinated by what she revealed, but questioned why she had chosen to join the Fleet. She told him that she was someone who had always felt comfortable with responsibility. However, when she asked him why he wanted to join, he told her that ever since he was a young child, he had always felt incomplete, as though he were a placeholder or a bookmark. He told her that he was not happy and felt as though there was something wrong with him.

Kelly reported Topa's feelings to Captain Ed Mercer and Doctor Claire Finn, stating that she felt that it was likely the person he is and the person he was were going to collide with each other, referring to the fact that he had undergo an operation as a baby to have his sex changed from female to male. Claire suggested that she might have him drop by her office for a chat, but Kelly felt this might be a breach of trust. She also felt like a horrible person for keeping the secret from him. She decided to have a chat with Bortus and Klyden. She informed them of their son's concerns, suggesting that they might tell Topa the truth. While Bortus seemed receptive to the idea, Klyden shut down the conversation, eventually ordering Kelly out of the room. He later ordered Topa to stop training with Kelly. Topa later went to Isaac, asking him about his recent suicide attempt.

Both stymied and troubled, Kelly again spoke with Topa, giving him a cryptic hint that led him to a file which revealed the truth about his sex-change operation. Bortus then secretly transmitted Topa the password to the file. Topa then confronted his parents, asking if he had been born female. Though Klyden remained silent, Bortus told him the truth. Klyden then confronted Kelly, telling her that if they were on Moclus, he would be within his rights to break her neck. She told him she had only pointed Topa in the right direction, but he accused her of playing God with his family. She told him that underneath the "manufactured exterior," Topa was still female, at which point he tried to hit her, but was unsuccessful. She then ordered him out of her office, telling him she would break his arm off and mount it on her wall if he ever tried to strike an officer again.

Bortus later came to Kelly, and she apologized, saying that she had been out of line. He, however, told her that he was the one who had given Topa the password, but he did not know how to help him, that he was more confused than ever. Topa then came to Kelly, expressing a desire to meet a fellow Moclan female. She then showed her a recording of the trial in which their operation was ordered in the Environmental Simulator, featuring the speech given by Heveena. Shortly after this, Topa asked Claire to perform a surgical procedure to transition them back to female. Things were complicated, however, when Kelly, Ed and Claire chatted with the admiralty, who ordered them not to allow the procedure on the grounds that it might cause the Moclans to leave the Planetary Union.

Searching for a workaround, the crew seized on the fact that the admiralty had said that they could not allow a Union medical officer to perform the procedure. Claire offered to resign her commission in order to perform the procedure, but Isaac offered to do it instead, as he was capable as an artificial lifeform of performing the procedure and was legally an "observer" aboard the Orville, with no actual commission. Thus, the procedure went forward. It was successful but resulted in Klyden leaving Bortus and Topa. Additionally, Ed and Kelly both received a chewing-out in person from Admiral Howland, who issued them a scathing rebuke for violating orders, but revealed that the Moclans were only more determined to vanquish the Kaylon threat because it was a Kaylon who had performed the procedure. Afterwards, Kelly invited a much-happier Topa to visit the Orville's bridge, allowing her to sit in the captain's chair.[29]

The False Captain[]

Sometime following this, the crew of the Orville were asked to negotiate with the Janisi, a fiercely matriarchal species that treated all men as second-class citizens and feared that they would try to usurp control if given any position of power. They decided to put on a farce, by presenting only women in top leadership roles, with the men of the ship's crew sidelined or absent entirely. As such, Kelly temporarily took on the role of Captain of the Orville, presenting Talla Keyali as her first officer and Navigator Charly Burke as Chief Engineering Officer.

The Janisi seemed impressed with Kelly. When Kelly showed them the Orville's engineering deck, Captain Losha described it as being "most impressive." The conversation turned to the technical specifications of the quantum drive, including fourth-generation technology the Janisi did not possess. Losha asked if Kelly might be able to share it with them, but she told them that it wasn't up to her but that anything might be possible if the Janisi showed a willingness to discuss an alliance. At this, Losha told her that she negotiated well.

Things soured when it was decided that it was time to time begin revealing the farce by slowing easing the Janisians into the idea that men held positions of power within the structure of the Planetary Union. This began by bringing males, including Captain Ed Mercer, into a meeting with them and having them stay silent at first. Kelly promised the Janisians that the males were only there to observe. She then played Earth music, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and revealed that it had been written by male composers. Losha commented that Kelly seemed to take an unusual pride in the accomplishments of males, and she asked in turn why they disdained them.

Losha replied that they did not disdain them, but they felt that they had to be kept to a subordinate status as they could not be trusted with power. She said that the Union did not let men lead and this was a good foundation for an alliance. She then began ordering the males present about like servants and even asked Kelly to lend her Ed for mating. At this point, Kelly was forced to drop the farce entirely, revealing that Ed was captain. Losha called the deception a critical error, that they had lied to them in order to curry favor. She stated that she and the others would be departing shortly.

Following this, Kelly began searching desperately through the Janisi legislative and constitutional framework. After much study, she discovered something she believed could be of use: that in marriage, Janisi men were required to be faithful, but the women were free to mate with whoever they wanted. With this, Ed and Kelly returned to the Janisi, Kelly explained that she had been unfaithful in her marriage to Ed. Ed told them that despite this, he had retained her as his first officer because he valued her expertise, judgment and professional skill and that he would trust her with his life. Hearing this, Losha said that she could tell that the alliance meant a great deal to them. She stated she would make no promises, but that if the Union elected to send a diplomatic representative to the Janisi Regency that they would receive her.[30]

Helping Topa, Again[]

Per the terms of the treaty between the Planetary Union and Moclan governments, each were permitted to send a delegation to Heveena's female Sanctuary world. The Moclans ensured that Heveena was not smuggling anymore females to the planet, while the Planetary Union ensured that the Moclans were not any way harassing or suppressing the colonists. The Orville was selected to send a delegation due to their past work in the matter and Ed chose Kelly and Bortus to serve as the inspection team. Topa also asked to come along, wanting to meet Heveena, who had argued on her behalf at the tribunal regarding her original sex change operation. Bortus was unsure, but Kelly convinced him to allow it, saying that it would be a life-altering experience for her to meet other Moclan females.

Once they were on the planet, Heveena entrusted Topa with a secret mission. She revealed to her that she had resumed her underground smuggling operation and entrusted her with the name of her contact on Moclus, wanting her to use Orville's communications array to speed the process. Topa, however, was kidnapped by members of the Moclan delegation. When her absence was missing, Kelly and Bortus decided to personally take off in a shuttle and pursue the Moclans.

The trail took Kelly and Bortus to the Zonari System, where they discovered a secret black site. As the pair explored the landscape and assessed the site for an entry point Kelly apologized for instigating the situation by bringing Topa along to begin with. Bortus, in turn, reassured her he did not blame her. He further said that he considered Kelly a part of his family and told her how much he valued her assistance in caring for Topa since Klyden left with Kelly admitting that Topa was very special to her. They infiltrated the site, Kelly demonstrating formidable combat prowess as they made their way to the secret room where Topa was being held. There, they discovered that Topa had been tortured for the name of Heveena's contact and that the Moclans were about to kill her, having gotten the information they needed. Kelly was only barely able to prevent Bortus from killing Topa's torturer, though witnessed as he attacked him and stabbed him in his one good eye using the Krill torture device that he had used on Topa.

The two of them then rushed to the Planetary Union Council, where they revealed Topa's torture. This resulted in the Moclans being expelled from the Planetary Union. Afterwards, Bortus's husband Klyden returned to the Orville, apologizing to Topa and admitting his wrongness. He told Kelly that Bortus had told him of her heroic actions and thanked her for saving his daughter's life. Kelly agreed that she and Bortus made a pretty good team. Klyden then invited her to share in the family meal and she happily accepted.[31]

The Kaylon Join the Union[]

Coming soon...



Kelly is happy to be serving aboard the Orville and making amends for the affair

In her 20s, Kelly was an outgoing lieutenant who loved fraternizing, heavy social drinking, and horseplay. But after her promotion to lieutenant commander, Kelly developed a dispassionate sense of professionalism. She refused to date Ed Mercer while both of them served aboard the USS Orville because it jeopardized his objectivity as commander.

Kelly is congenial, caring, and trusting, and has a dry, at time sarcastic, sense of humor. She nearly single-handedly won John LaMarr a promotion from Navigator to Chief Engineer because she saw his potential as an intelligent leader.

Yet Kelly has her flaws. Though passionate of being a Union officer, Kelly can be somewhat self-righteous and believes in the certainty of her actions when not considering the consequences. Additionally, she feels the burden to make things right and help people reach their full potential whether they want it or not. This is seen when she used her influence to get Ed Mercer a captaincy as way to repair their relationship. While altruistic at times, it is not always for the benefit of others but her ego. Such as when she illegally searched Pria Lavesque's quarters based on weak evidence and jealousy. And also, when she healed an injured girl on Kandar 1, so the indigenous peoples deified her as a healing goddess. Her compassion compromised her principles against first contact, and profoundly shaped the development of the world.

Relationship with Alara[]

Kelly has developed a close bond with security chief Alara Kitan. Becoming both and friend and mentor to her, understanding very well Kitan's feelings low confidence and doing her best to encourage or comfort her. During Command Performance Kelly was one of the only crew members to believe in Alara when she was promoted to acting Captain, ensuring her she had what it takes to lead the Orville during her and Ed's absence. Later, during Firestorm Kelly personally confronted Alara insisting Harrison Payne's sudden death was not her fault and that she shouldn't blame herself. Likewise, Kelly often confides in Alara regarding emotional difficulties.

Relationship with Ed[]

Kelly crossing eye

Kelly demonstrates crossing eyes separately.

Ed is furious when Kelly first joins the Orville and undercuts her in front of others. "If you want a painful, jabby shoulder massage, she's the best there is," Ed tells Doctor Aronov.[2]

Kelly Grayson and her ex-husband Ed Mercer have a strong professional relationship and a close bond, despite their complicated past together. While married, Kelly was extremely unhappy, citing Mercer's excessive ambition and overzealous workaholism as a source for their deteriorating marriage, in addition to the fact he refused to vocalize the existence of any issues. Despite this Kelly feels immense guilt for responding to her feelings of loneliness by cheating on Ed, understanding the severe nature her actions took on him.

Retepsian cranium splat

Kelly cheating with Darulio for the first time

While working on the Orville Kelly and Ed have contemplated the idea of possibly pursuing a relationship again, but never follow through on it. The first time the idea was suggested, both parties realize that the irritating mannerisms each one displays would be too unbearable for the other to deal with. The second time Kelly and Ed respectively seem to have moved past this, but still decide against formally dating again when Kelly suggests being romantically involved would compromise both of their abilities to properly do their jobs.


Kelly and Ed have a frequent on again and off again relationship

Relationship with the crew[]

While quite familiar with the crew, Kelly can affect a much sterner style of leadership compared to her fellow Commanders. Nonetheless, she appears to have a friendly and respectful relationship with the majority of those who work on the Bridge.

Kelly is often found leading scout parties to any unknown planets or vessels the Orville encounters. While there, she makes it a priority to bring everyone back alive. When John LaMarr is forced to undergo an Apology Tour Commander Grayson accompanies him throughout all of his interview's campaigning for his freedom. Likewise, her crew mates return this loyalty to Kelly as shown on the bioship. Where an away team went undercover and fought their way into Hamelac's office in order to save their Commander and friend from torture.

Helmsman Gordon Malloy deeply dislikes Kelly for cheating on Ed, calling her "a total bitch" to the bridge crew.[2] When she joins the Orville, Kelly tries to hold a professional relationship. Gordon softens his opinion after Kelly plots to use a redwood seed in the quantum accelerator to destroy a Krill destroyer.[2] As they continue to work together, this antagonism eventually disappears entirely, replaced by a solid friendship and sense of camaraderie.[32]

According to Kelly, much her job as first officer involved the mundane busywork of managing things such as relationships among the vessel's crew. Her job was to make sure "the left hand knows what the right hand is doing" and that the crew liked knowing that she was paying attention to things such as basic morale. Things such as resolving culture clashes also fell under the purview of the first officer, which at times required a delicate touch.[29]


Commander Kelly Grayson

Promotional image of Kelly from the first season

Kelly was the second character created by Seth MacFarlane, after Ed Mercer. MacFarlane originally devised the persona of Ed to be a flawed, but ultimately good leader, and thought to add a co-worker who is also his ex-wife to flesh out Ed's imperfections and create drama.[33]

Kelly was probably written specifically for his friend Adrianne Palicki as MacFarlane had written the characters of Gordon Malloy and John LaMarr for his friends Scott Grimes and J. Lee, too. By 2016, the two had been friends for over ten years. MacFarlane approached Palicki directly to fill the role of Kelly, giving her a copy of the pilot script to read first. She accepted the role after reading just the first five pages.[34]

While filming Old Wounds, MacFarlane sent Palicki a draft of Cupid's Dagger to give her insight into her character's relationship with Darulio and Ed, which taught Palicki that Kelly is "trying to do something wonderful for [Ed]" and to regain his trust.[35]


Kelly Ja'loja sketch

Sketch for Kelly's Ja'loja outfit

Kelly's hair was designed by Maxine Morris, the hair department head, who cycled through a variety of looks in the first season. Mid-season, Morris decided to give Kelly curly, robust hair modeled after (Wikipedia) Veronica Lake, which was most obvious during Ed's cocktail hour in the episode Pria. However, MacFarlane preferred a straighter, sleeker look and by the episode Majority Rule, Kelly's hair was completely straightened.[36]



Kelly New Beginnings

Kelly meets Cassius.


  1. Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Episode 2x13: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
  4. In All the World is Birthday Cake her birthday is likely the first Monday in November in the year 2420, which will be November 2.
  5. Kelly Grayson. Episode 2x13: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
  6. Episode 2x06: A Happy Refrain
  7. 7.0 7.1 citation needed.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Episode 1x03: About a Girl
  10. 10.0 10.1 Episode 2x14: The Road Not Taken
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Digressions, Pt. 1
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Digressions, Pt. 2
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Episode 1x02: Command Performance
  14. See Episode 1x01: Old Wounds; Episode 1x11: New Dimensions.
  15. Episode 1x05: Pria
  16. Episode 1x06: Krill
  17. Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
  18. Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry
  19. 19.0 19.1 Episode 1.5x01: New Beginnings, Pt. 1
  20. Episode 2x01: Ja'loja
  21. Episode 2x03: Home
  22. Episode 2x04: Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes
  23. Episode 2x12: Sanctuary
  24. Episode 2.5x01: Launch Day, Pt. 1
  25. Episode 2.5x02: Launch Day, Pt. 2
  26. 26.0 26.1 Episode 2x08: Identity, Pt. 1
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Episode 2x09: Identity, Pt. 2
  28. Episode 3x03: Mortality Paradox
  29. 29.0 29.1 Episode 3x05: A Tale of Two Topas
  30. Episode 3x07: From Unknown Graves
  31. Episode 3x08: Midnight Blue
  32. Episode 3x06: Twice in a Lifetime
  33. Pascale, Athony. "Interview: Seth MacFarlane Talks Mission Of ‘The Orville’ And Defends Star Trek: TNG’s Replicators". Sept. 14, 2017.
  34. Radish, Christina. "‘The Orville’: Adrianne Palicki on the Incredible Sets and the Hopeful Side of Sci-Fi". Collider. Oct. 5, 2017.
  35. "The Orville: Interview: Adrianne Palicki". Sci Fi Bulletin. Nov. 10, 2017.
  36. Berger, Howard & Maxine Morris. "Space and Beyond". The Artisan. 2018.
  37. Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear
  38. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named citation needed
  39. Episode 2x05: All the World is Birthday Cake
  40. Episode 2x11: Lasting Impressions