"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 Halsey[source]
Ed Mercer is the Human Captain of the USS Orville. Since his days as a cadet at Union Point, Mercer was respected as a gifted, young officer who seemed destined to become Admiral. However, an affair between his wife, Kelly Grayson, and another man left him emotionally devastated and his performance record suffered. A year later, Mercer is given command of the Orville based on a secret recommendation to Union headquarters from Grayson.

Ed is portrayed by Seth MacFarlane.


Ed Mercer was born in Boxford, Massachusetts on Earth sometime in the late 24th century. He appears to have a good, albeit somewhat irksome relationship with his parents who are very nurturing and friendly but a bit quirky and lacking in personal boundaries. Ed apparently dreamed of being a starship captain from a very young age and took every opportunity to learn and prepare for it, eventually enrolling in the academy Union Point, where he met Kelly Grayson, a beautiful, fiery, and like-minded young woman whom he would eventually marry.

Mercer was at the top of his class at Union Point, surpassing all his peers by a wide margin. Upon his graduation into the Union Fleet, Ed worked tirelessly day and night on multiple ships to advance up the ranks and secure both a ship of his own and with it a stable future for himself and his new wife Kelly who like him had also graduated into the Union Fleet. Ed's obsessive work-ethic evidently put considerable strain on his marriage to Kelly, who claimed she tried on numerous occasions to talk about it but that Ed would simply shut her out, while Ed retorted that she never showed any appreciation for his supporting them and working for their future. Tensions finally came to a head when one fateful day Ed came home only to find Kelly cheating on him with the Retepsian archaeologist Darulio. Dumbstruck and at a loss for words, Ed simply turned and walked out, refusing to listen to Kelly as she begged for a chance to explain. Ed subsequently filed for divorce and moved in with his best friend Gordon Malloy.

After the affair, Mercer's work ethic collapsed and he started self-medicating with alcohol. After a year, Grayson quietly recommends Mercer to Admiral Halsey for command of a starship. Halsey hesitatingly assents, and promotes Mercer to Captain of the mid-level exploratory vessel Orville as "one last chance."

The Orville's New CaptainEdit

Mercer is introduced as a depressed, even cynical officer who was cited at least six times for coming into work hungover. Despite this, Grand Admiral Halsey promotes Mercer to command of the Orville, which recently lost its captain, restoring Mercer's spirits. Mercer quickly recruits Malloy as Helmsman while awaiting for a new First Officer.

After meeting with his new crew and senior officers, the Orville begins its first mission: bringing supplies to a science station on Epsilon 2. Along the way, the ship rendezvouses with their newly-assigned First Officer; Mercer is horrified to learn that the officer is his ex-wife, Grayson. Though she tries to apologize for the affair, Mercer refuses to acknowledge her appointment and demands she reassign herself.

At the Epsilon Science Station, Mercer is flanked by Grayson, Lieutenant Alara Kitan, and Doctor Claire Finn. Their mission to the science facility is sabotaged by a Krill spy, who contacts the Krill military. A Krill warship arrives and deploys troops in an attempt to steal a time-acceleration device from the scientists. The ground team manages to return to the Orville with Doctor Aronov and the device. Outclassed by the heavier Krill ship, Mercer and Grayson devise plan to distract the Krill long enough to use a redwood seed and accelerate its age with the device. They deliver the device to the Krill with the seed inside, and remotely initiate the device, causing the seed to erupt in growth and destroy the Krill ship. Mercer acknowledges Grayson's abilities and asks her to remain as First Officer.

Zoo ImprisonmentEdit

Mercer is approached by Lieutenant Commander Bortus, who explains that he has laid an egg, and requests relief of duty for 21 days to incubate it. Mercer happily grants Bortus leave.

The Orville is requested to help the civilian ship USS Blériot fend off a Krill attack. When the Orville arrives, hostilities with the Krill have ended. Mercer learns that his parents, Jeannie and Ben, are aboard the Blériot. Mercer and Grayson agree to personally pick up his parents by shuttle and escort them home, temporarily leaving Kitan as acting captain.

Mercer and Grayson connect to the Blériot and attempt to enter, only to realize as they walk in that they entered a replica of the apartment they shared while married. Unable to force the doors of the apartment open, the two make themselves comfortable and chat about their happier memories of marriage and Grayson's affair.

The next morning, Mercer wakes to find a group of Calivon children watching him through what should be the apartment's skyline window. He attempts to communicate but is repelled back by a powerful force field. A fellow prisoner, Lurenek, explains that they are exhibits of the Calivon Zoo. Their apartment is simply a recreation of what the Calivon interpret as Mercer and Grayson's "natural habitat." As time goes by, and unable to escape their cage, relations between Mercer and Grayson fray. Mercer scrutinizes Grayson's loud chewing and she criticizes him for drinking beer in the morning. Mercer concludes that their mutual inability (or disinterest) to rise above petty bickering was why their marriage failed.

Several days later, Kitan and Isaac barter with the Calivon for Mercer and Grayson's release from the zoo and the pair return to duty aboard the Orville.

About a GirlEdit

Ed along with the rest of his crew admire Bortus and his mate Klyden's newly born daughter, Topa. Shortly afterward Ed and Gordon begin an 1800s western adventure in the simulation, which Gordon reprograms to have the main villain, Vásquez, challenges both of them to a dance off as opposed to a gun slinging match. Ed temporarily observes the odd decision until the simulation is interrupted by Bortus who requests Ed to come to his office so they must discuss an urgent matter. He complies and after seating himself, Bortus says how Doctor Finn refuses to perform gender reassignment surgery on Topa to make her male like all other members of the Moclan species, and wants Captain Mercer to force her under order to do it. Ed claims he won't make Doctor Finn do anything and that his request is unethical. Bortus argues insisting forcing a Moclan to live as a female would be unethical from his cultural viewpoint, but Ed stands by his position and refuses to heed the request.

Bold New FrontierEdit

Meeting PriaEdit

Undercover SpyEdit



LaMarr's PersecutionEdit

Locating the MoonEdit

Darulio's ReturnEdit

Studying the ParanormalEdit

New Dimensions of TruthEdit

Wooing Kelly Edit


Ed Mercer has many desirable personality traits that make him a respectable Captain in the Planetary Union. Often naturally taking a leadership position whenever The Orville is in trouble and using his own knowledge and ingenuity to resolve conflicts that inevitably arise during a mission, making it a priority for everyone to come back alive. Mercer also shown to have a deep understanding for his crew and all they go through to maintain The Orville, especially vocalizing these feelings to Alara Kitan whom he knows suffers from continuous issues of poor self-confidence and inadequacy. He also seems to have an appreciation or sympathy towards foreign cultures that the crew encounters during their travels. This is especially noticeable when he attempted to play Devil's Advocate with Commander Grayson in regards to Moclan male chauvinism, or questioned if it was truly fair to force the natives of Dorahl's Bioship to learn about the larger universe.

Mercer however, has also shown to be very emotional and to sometimes allow personal feelings to cloud his judgement. He at first viewed Kelly Grayson as unworthy to work on The Orville despite consistently proving her value due to her cheating on him with Darulio a year prior, and defended Pria Lavesque in spite of compelling evidence she had malicious intentions for the entire ship. Above all else though, Captain Mercer has also shown to have be passionate about popular culture and humor, consistently drawing parallels to television shows or movies and often quipping about the strange instances he frequently finds himself in.

Production Edit

Ed Mercer sketch

A concept sketch of Mercer by the show's wardrobe designer Joseph Porro and illustrator Luca Nemolato. Note the name is "Ed Stevens," which was changed only late in production.

The character of Ed Mercer was invented as an "average Joe" captain named Ed Stevens with the same vanities and traits of regular people; standing in sharp contrast to the captains of Star Trek. 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."[1]


  • Mercer's original name was Ed Stevens, but was changed sometime after completing the first draft of the script and before shooting the pilot.
  • According to Admiral Halsey, Ed was not only top of his class at Union Point but was so highly regarded by his professors that they believed he would be captaining a heavy cruiser before 40, a feat practically unheard of in the Union Fleet.
  • Ed seems to be a fan of The Muppets judging by a Kermit plush found on his desk, whom he also claims to admire as a leader.
  • In Season 1, he is in his 40's, meaning that he was born in the 2370's.
  • According to Kelly, when Ed really in pain he gives straight answers with no cursing.
  • It seems as though Ed Mercer is 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 origation, which caused him to have nightmares for a month afterwards.
  • He has arachnophobia (a fear of spiders).


References Edit

  1. "Brannon Braga & The Orville Cast Full interview 2017 Panel NYC convention". NYC ComicCon. Nov. 20, 2017.