Kelly is portrayed by Adrianne Palicki.
Kelly Grayson's father served within the Planetary Union and she followed suit, enrolling at Union Point. While there, Grayson recounts that her diplomacy professor, Professor Fincher, falsely told others that she wanted to hook up with him and, enraged, she pushed him into a pool.
Eventually she met Ed Mercer, a cadet in training to be a Captain. The two hit it off and fell in love. During Ed's officer exam, Kelly suprised him with a picnic date of sandwiches, banana bread, and rosé wine.
Kelly and Ed lived in New York City happily married for years until Ed's duties on behalf of the Union made him start to become distant, Kelly feeling lonely and miserable in their failing marriage began to have an affair with a Retepsian named Darulio. One day during a love making session, Ed walks in on them and leaves in disgust. Promptly getting filing for divorce and entering a deep depression shortly afterwards.
Spurred by regret by her actions, one year after the affair Grayson successfully petitions Admiral Halsey to promote her former husband to Captain of the USS Orville. She also requests to be assigned as part of the ship's main crew to work alongside Ed as they did before.
Due to being close friends with her father, Halsey heeds her request and Grayson is assigned to the Orville as its new First Officer. Mercer is incensed that his former wife is now a part of the crew and, after a brief argument, Grayson agrees she will request a new assignment when another first officer becomes available. Exiting, she meets Gordon Malloy and asks if the two could have a professional relationship as Commander and Lieutenant in spite of Ed and Kelly's divorce.
After, Grayson accompanies Mercer to the Epsilon Science Station of Epsilon 2. Their mission is sabotaged by an undercover Krill operative, who calls for a Krill destroyer seeking a secret time-accelerating device created on Epsilon 2 that was taken aboard the Orville. The vessel is outgunned by the much heavier Krill ship, whose Captain threatens to destroy the Orville if Mercer does not cede the device.
Grayson devises a plot to give the device to the Krill with the seed of a redwood tree inside. After the Krill take the device, Captain Mercer sarcastically wishes the Krill Captain Happy Arbor Day as the Orville remotely initiates the device, causing the redwood to grow rapidly and destroy the enemy ship. Kelly insists afterwards that Got Wood would've been a better pun based quip, the rest of the Bridge agrees as well.
Back on Earth for repairs, Grayson tells Mercer that a new post is available on the USS Chanute. However, Mercer acknowledges Grayson's wisdom and talent and requests that she stay. Grayson meets with Admiral Halsey, whom she thanks for promoting Mercer to Captain and assigning her as his First Officer.
Weeks later, the Orville detects a distress signal from the USS Blériot. To the crew's surprise, Mercer's parents are aboard the craft. After reassuring Alara that she will be a competent interim captain, Mercer and Grayson travel to the Blériot via shuttlecraft only to be teleported away. The two awaken in their old apartment but are unable to exit. After making sure the food synthesizers work, Ed and Kelly slowly begin to bond again and reminisce about the good times in their marriage.
The next morning however, Ed discovers they that have been abducted by the Calivon and placed in their zoo. Over the course of the day, Ed and Kelly begin to irritate one another with the quirks and attitudes that led to their divorce in the first place before Alara and Isaac arrive and barter the two's freedom in exchange for a collection of Human reality shows from 21st century Earth. On the Orville, Kelly praises Alara for her leadership.
Mere days later, Bortus gives birth to a female Moclan. He attempts to gain permission from the captain to have her undergo a sex change operation who refuses. Later on however, Ed confesses to Kelly his uncertainty about his decision and whether or not he is forcing Human customs and conventions on an alien society before a Moclan ship arrives intending to take the child to Moclus. After seeing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer however, Bortus wishes the child to remain female and asks Kelly to debate that position on the child's behalf. Despite Kelly's best efforts however, Topa is ultimately forced to undergo the procedure to become male.
When the Orville encounters a massive spacecraft, Kelly joins the away team to investigate it. Upon learning it is a bioship, she joins Alara in exploring the environment. The two walk through the fields of the artificial ecosystem and discuss their past relationships. Kelly emphasizing that while she does regret cheating on Ed with Darulio, it was an inevitable accumulation of their failed marriage. Suddenly, Alara and Grayson are both ambushed by armed men who shoot down Alara and capture Kelly. After Bringing her to their city, she witnesses the mob justice of the highly-religious society worshipping a deity called Dorahl. She is soon then interrogated by their leader, Hamelac.
He questions her on who she and where she came from. Though she initially tells him the truth, he dismisses her talk of a greater universe outside the ecosystem as lies. Kelly gets frustrated by his stubbornness and eventually begins taunting Hamelac, which results in him demanding she be physically tortured. Fortunately, the rest of the away team eventually arrive to rescue her shortly after. Kelly is freed while Hamelac is soon then incapacitated. Captain Mercer reveals to Kelly that he has befriended a group of native rebels called the Reformers, who have managed to locate another door leading outside the ecosystem. The crew enters through it and after a long elevator ride up only to find the Bioship's bridge.
Isaac turns on a large monitor which plays a message from Jahavus Dorahl, the ship's long deceased captain, who reveals that the Bioship was designed for his people to explore new worlds but that they became marooned in space after collision with an Ion Storm. The revelation of this message confirming Dorahl was indeed not a god.
Captain Mercer proceeds to open the hull revealing the stars for the first time to the natives in the Ecosystem. Kelly tells Kemka that the Orville has given the people their future back before promising to send a Union ship to aid the process.
After the crew rescues mining captain Pria Lavesque from an asteroid hurtling towards a star, she is brought aboard the Orville and given temporary quarters until they can drop her off somewhere safe. In the meantime, Pria joins Kelly and other crew members to a cocktail party that night in the Mess Hall. The entire time she overtly flirts with Captain Mercer which causes Grayson to become suspicious of her motives. Kelly eventually searches the Vega Mining Consortium database and is unable to find any mention of Pria Lavesque in any of their records. In Engineering, she informs Ed of this but he dismisses her findings as being a non-issue. Insisting mining companies are notorious for poor record keeping.
They argue about it further and the Captain wonders why she's so passionate about this, and Kelly backs down, saying that she doesn't think it's a good idea to give someone they barely know access to the entire ship. Afterwards, Kelly still can't shake the feeling of doubt and goes to Alara requesting her to search Lavesque's quarters as a favor to her. Lieutenant Kitan agrees to do it as long as Kelly promises her it is strictly due to her concern for the ship, and not jealousy from Mercer's obvious attraction to Pria. They then go to look in her quarters and at the foot of the bed find a grey rectangular object. Before either of them can investigate further Pria enters the room and both of them are busted.
Mercer scolds them for the misdeed, but Kelly defenders herself saying that they discovered the mysterious rectangle and how she thinks it could be something dangerous. Ed claims it could very well be a belt buckle for all they know, he dismisses Alara and tells Kelly he thinks the reason for her distrust of Pria is due to him having intimate feelings for her. Their conversation is cut short due to an emergency on the Bridge, where the Orville is caught in a dark matter storm. Malloy has difficulty navigating through it but Pria offers to help, Kelly signals for Ed not to let her but he does anyway and she is fortunately able to get them to safety.
Later, Grayson and Mercer get called to Engineering where they find the Gray Rectangle from Lavesque's quarters now attached to the Orville's engines. They confront Pria and she confesses that she is a bounty hunter from the 29th century, and that the rectangle is a piece of futuristic technology that gives her control over the entire ship. Kelly leaves to try and figure out what to do while Ed profusely apologizes to her. She quietly forgives him and they return to engineering to figure out how to remove the rectangle.
They learn the hard way that the device is too advanced for them to dismantle and try their luck on Bridge. The Orville reaches its assigned destination and Pria teleports out of her quarters into the room and takes them to the 29th century. While distracted Mercer tries to regain control of the ship and Kelly challenges Pria to a physical fist fight. Beating her down in a tough battle as they return to their native time. Ed proudly tells her that he will never make the mistake of not trusting his First Officer's instincts again.
Kelly along with Ed are called into the Briefing Room by Admiral Halsey where he explains that the Planetary Union has found a way to stop the notorious Navarian-Bruidian conflict of Lopovius by an archeologist examining DNA residue found on an ancient artifact. Halsey explains further they need the USS Orville to act a neutral host for the Navarian and Bruidian ambassadors while they await the results.
Days later, the archeologist is delivered to the Orville via the USS Olympia. Unfortunately, Grayson finds out too late that the archeologist is Darulio, the man she cheated on Captain Mercer with during their marriage. After an awkward greeting Ed storms out of the Shuttle Bay in a huff. Kelly tries to calm him down but Mercer remains livid. Noticing how deeply this is affecting him, Kelly proceeds to apologize once again for the affair. Later, Kelly confronts Darulio in the Science Lab, confirming to him what they did years ago was a mistake and will never happen again. He claims that he understands and Grayson soon begins to notice his attractive physical features, Darulio returns her compliments with flirtatious remarks and they eventually proceed to have sex once again in her quarters. Captain Mercer later walks in on them once again. Kelly runs into the hallway after him to try and explain but Ed is not only frustrated she neglected her duties on the Bridge to be with him, but that it was heavily implied having a relationship with Darulio would be extremely inappropriate. Commander Grayson confesses that she likes him and she has the right to date whomever she pleases.
Later, Kelly hangs out with Alara in her quarters where they discuss what happened. Grayson explaining that whenever she's around Darulio she experienced this extreme sexual desire, and that perhaps he was always meant to be to her soulmate but wasn't able to recognize it because of her guilt of cheating on Ed with him. She eventually joins Darulio in the Mess Hall for drinks until Mercer shows up and claims that he had plans to get drinks with Darulio at this time too. The Retepsian invites Kelly to join them anyway and she fights with Mercer for his attention. Darulio gets up to get another drink while Kelly puts the pieces together Ed is into him too, and that they'll both need to compete with one another for Darulio's affection.
This continues on for a short period of time until Ed makes Darulio a fancy meal and invites him to his quarters for a movie. Kelly realizing this as him choosing Ed over her and becomes cripplingly depressed from heartbreak. Fortunately, Kelly is soon after informed her feelings are the results of Darulio releasing Retepsian pheromones that his species produces during heat. The pheromones soon after wear off and Ed tries to apologize for his behavior before, Kelly embarrassed by the ordeal tells him it's best they simply don't talk about it again. Soon after, Darulio announces to both of them that his Archeological work on the Orville is done and he's leaving now. Before going, Grayson asks if he was in also in heat when they had their affair and he simply replies "Maybe".
Explaining the TruthEdit
After John LaMarr is reprimanded for a prank against Lieutenant Yaphit, Kelly looks over his records only to find out he scored some of the highest academic marks at Union Point, to the point of being literally a genius. She suggests to Captain Mercer that with Steve Newton retiring from his role as Chief Engineer soon, it would be wise to promote LaMarr as his replacement. Ed Mercer is skeptical to do this, acknowledging while John might be gifted intellectually he's simply too immature for the position and being a Chief Engineer requires more than just smarts.
Later, the Orville crashes into a mysterious Spatial Anomaly and Kelly sees this as an excellent opportunity for LaMarr to prove his intelligence. She suggests to Captain Mercer that he lead a team to investigate the anomaly. Later, Grayson approaches Ed in his office once again encouraging him to consider promoting John. This time he's more open to the idea claiming that Kelly's instincts are often invaluable. She agrees with him, accidentally blurting her instincts are the reason he even became the Orville's Captain. Mercer demands to know what she means by that and Kelly explains her part in swaying Admiral Halsey to promote him. Ed, instead of showing gratitude is frustrated, insisting he wanted to promoted on his own merit.
The Commander and Captain's relationship remains strained from this revelation for days, until Ed takes time to relax in the Mess Hall where Kelly joins him. She bluntly tells Mercer that he's being a "prideful ass" acting the way he is, that every person no matter who they are or what they achieve gets help along the way. But it doesn't make them any less deserving. Ed acknowledges her arguments and confesses that he just needs to work this out on his own. Captain Mercer soon after comes to Grayson's office and gives her a formal apology for his behavior. She thanks him for it and Ed kisses her on the cheek.
After Kelly heals Ed's hand from a game of latchkum they decide to get a drink in the Mess Hall together. There, Mercer admits to coming to terms with her being under the influence of Darulio's pheromones during the affair, and asks her if they can go on a date again and see what happens. Kelly is very open to the idea and agrees to do it. The next morning, the crew encounters a planet that suddenly appears in what was, formally empty space. Kelly leads an away team to the surface. Exploring, Kelly finds the planet to exist at the Bronze Age level of development and comes across the outskirts of a community. She runs into a young girl who hurts her hand, which Kelly as a kind gesture heals with her Comscanner. Soon after multiple natives witness her action and Kelly flees to prevent further cultural contamination. Upon returning to the Orville, Mercer leaves this incident out his report before the planet vanishes, leading Isaac to calculate it was in a multiphasic orbit and would return in eleven days.
When the planet next appeared, it had evolved to a 14th century level of technological development. When an away team travels to the surface, a woman asks Kelly to bless her child before the team realizes that Kelly had become worshipped as a goddess of healing by the native populace. Despite orders from the admiralty to wait, the Orville crew returns to the planet where Kelly explained to a Priest that she was not divine and asks him to stop the religion.
Upon the planet's next reappearance, it had evolved to a 21st century level advancement with Kelly still being worshiped. At a staff meeting, Kelly offers to stay on the planet to personally correct and educate the natives before Isaac, who could live for millions of years, volunteers to go in her place. After the next eleven days passes, the planet had evolved to a level beyond the Union. Two natives then teleport aboard the Orville with Isaac where they explained that Kelly had not contaminated the planet's development, merely taken the place of whatever deity would have been created with worship of her being abandoned naturally over time. Despite this, Kelly's faith in herself was shattered and she convinces Ed that they needed more time apart from one another.
It would not be incorrect to compare Kelly to a female version of Ed Mercer. Much like her ex-husband, Kelly possess a dry wit to the world, responding to emotionally stressful situations with a witty comeback or a sarcastic quip. Compared to her ex however, Kelly is a much more serious individual and is able of switching to a mature mind-set at a moment's notice. This was best highlighted by Ed falling into a deep depression following the divorce while Kelly took the initiative and arranged for Ed to be hired as Captain of the USS Orville. She is a very responsible woman, taking accountability for the public debacle of Sargus 4 and doing her best to make amends for the emotional devastation that their divorce caused Ed.
Kelly is a very stubborn and driven individual. Often taking extreme stances on social or political issues faced by the crew. While these attitudes might appear to be a character flaw, they are justified by her superb instincts. Grayson instantly knew Pria Lavesque was lying about her past and despite being warned not to pursue any investigation on the matter continued away, eventually saving the Orville from being marooned in the 29th century. While Kelly abides by the rules of the Planetary Union with regards to dealing with other species, she places this as second compared to her heart, and does what she can to aid any lifeforms she encounters in whatever way she can.
After being unintentionally deified by the Multiphasic Planet however, Kelly's self-confidence was shattered, causing her to become more withdrawn.
Relationship with AlaraEdit
Since coming aboard the Orville, Kelly has closely bonded with security chief Alara Kitan. Becoming something of a mentor to her often, comforting Alara and/or giving advice. Likewise, Kelly often confides in Alara regarding emotional difficulties.
Relationship with EdEdit
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.
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.
Relationship with the CrewEdit
While quite familiar with the bridge crew, Kelly can affect a much more stern style of leadership compared to her fellow Commanders.
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.
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.
- Her favorite part of being a fleet officer are the arts and crafts.
- Kelly's last name may be a reference to Amanda Grayson, Spock's mother in Star Trek.
- Kelly taught Alara Kitan the "basics" of boxing during About a Girl.
- It is revealed in Old Wounds that Kelly has at least one sibling who is wed to her and Mercer's old marriage councilor. Currently no information about them has been shown in the series thus far.
- Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
- Episode 1x02: Command Performance
- Episode 1x03: About a Girl
- Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear
- Episode 1x05: Pria
- Episode 1x06: Krill
- Episode 1x07: Majority Rule
- Episode 1x08: Into the Fold
- Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
- Episode 1x10: Firestorm
- Episode 1x11: New Dimensions
- Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry