"Oh! Boom, bitch. That's what I'm talking about. Right there. I'm like, boom." ― John LaMarr after destroying a Krill destroyer[source]

John LaMarr is the Human Lieutenant Commander and Chief Engineer of the USS Orville. According to Admiral Halsey, LaMarr served with the Orville under the previous captain as Lieutenant and Navigator prior to Ed Mercer assuming command.[1] LaMarr serves as Navigator for most of the first season. He was promoted to Chief Engineer in the episode New Dimensions, replacing Steve Newton.

John LaMarr is portrayed by J. Lee, whom creator Seth MacFarlane had in mind when he wrote the character. Consequently, LaMarr's personality and actions often reflect specific traits of Lee.

Early historyEdit

John LaMarr grew up on a farming colony on an unnamed planet. He later described the colonists of his youth as deeply suspicious of anything perceived as intellectual, which pushed him to hide his brilliance from his peers.[2]

LaMarr attended the academy at Union Point where he earned some of the highest marks in the history of the school, an achievement he keeps secret.[2] After matriculation, his humble, guarded attitude led to a quiet career in the Planetary Union, though he did attain the advanced helmsman class of level eight early on.[1] He was assigned to the Orville where he served as a navigator under an unnamed captain.[1]

Career Edit

As Navigator Edit

By September, 2419, LaMarr is serving as Navigator under the Orville's new captain, Ed Mercer, and working alongside a new pilot at the helm, Lieutenant Gordon Malloy.[1] Malloy and he become friends in addition to co-workers: fighting in numerous battles as pilot and navigator and spending time together when off-duty.

In the Orville's first mission, LaMarr proves himself a crucial member of the Orville's bridge crew. Forced into a battle with a heavier Krill warship, LaMarr assists Malloy maneuver the Orville in a difficult attack tactic called "Hugging the Donkey" to distract the Krill from capturing a shuttle holding the ground team, Doctor Aronov, and valuable technology.[1]

Perhaps LaMarr's most notable moment on the bridge came later that year. The Orville and an enemy Krill destroyer wage a protracted, vicious battle in which both vessels' hulls had severely weakened. The Orville in particular is vulnerable to even the slightest damage on the starboard side. With only minutes to spare, Second Officer Bortus, as acting commmander, gives weapons controls to the Navigator, who targets the enemy's quantum engines. LaMarr knew that the Orville could not destroy the Krill's weapons fast enough; but the possibility that the enemy's engines were fatally damaged could save them if the plasma torpedoes could strike. The gambit works: the Orville's plasma torpedoes explode against the hull of the ship, destroying the engines inside, and saving the Union ship.[3]

Imprisonment on Sargus 4 Edit

John LaMarr Willks Social Correction Final Vote Sargus 4

LaMarr is imprisoned on Sargus 4 and forced to undergo an apology tour.

In early 2420, LaMarr is assigned to a landing team on Sargus 4 to find two missing Union explorers. While teasing Chief of Security Alara Kitan, he simulates grind dancing on a statue of Mella Giffendon. His dance is witnessed by several passerby, one of whom records LaMarr's dance and uploads the video to the planet's Master Feed. LaMarr receives hundreds of thousands of "downvotes," public votes of disapproval, and LaMarr is arrested and forced to undergo an apology tour.

The arrest creates a crisis for the Orville. Admiral Tucker forbids the Orville intervene by pulling LaMarr from Sargus 4 as it would contaminate the developing culture. LaMarr is sentenced to a final vote: if Sarguns cast over 10 million downvotes against LaMarr, he will be subjected to a drastic neurological treatment called social correctionScience Officer Isaac manipulates public Sargun opinion by uploading doctored videos of LaMarr in heart-warming situations to the Master Feed. The plan works and public opinion turns in time for LaMarr to avoid correction.

Promotion to Chief EngineerEdit

John Lamarr

"Now maybe people will believe me when I say I am not a commander." Academically-gifted Lieutenant LaMarr felt unready to accept command responsibility.

"Aside from Isaac, John is the smartest officer on board."
"My God, he sure doesn't act like it. I heard about the Yaphit thing.

Kelly Grayson and Ed Mercer[source]

The Orville's commanding staff had still not discovered LaMarr's remarkable academic record: first, because LaMarr's relaxed work attitude struck others as immature; and second, because neither Captain Mercer nor Commander Kelly Grayson had cause to review it. That cause came in several months later with the departure of the ship's Chief Engineer, Steve Newton.

Newton transfers assignment for the chance to design a new space station. At his farewell reception, LaMarr and Malloy play a practical joke on Lieutenant Yaphit and Bortus by hiding a piece of Yaphit's gelatinous body inside Bortus's food. The prank incenses Yaphit, who reports the two to Grayson. The Commander reviews their personnel files and sees that LaMarr boasts some of the strongest Union aptitude ratings and Union Point academic performance records of all time.

Grayson assigns LaMarr to assist Isaac and scan a spatial anomaly that damaged the ship's quantum engines, replacing Yaphit. LaMarr is uninterested in a promotion and assuming more responsibilities, but assents. After the two pore over data recovered by the team, LaMarr realizes that the spacial anomaly is a pocket of two-dimensional space.

LaMarr Dann Malloy

LaMarr and Gordon Malloy's love for practical jokes got them in hot water when a prank on Yaphit goes too far.

Meanwhile, Krill are alerted of a cache of stolen Krill weapons resting near the Orville in space. With the Krill closing in from almost all sides and the spacial anomaly behind them, engineering needs to find a way to escape quickly. LaMarr conceives of a "quantum bubble" that would allow the ship to maintain three-dimensional form inside a bubble while traversing two-dimensional space.

LaMarr and Mercer pilot a shuttle in front of the Orville that was modified to manifest a spatial conduit that permits the shuttle to enter two-dimensional space and towed the ship to a new exit to three-dimensional space. Sufficiently impressed by LaMarr's experience and new-found maturity, the Captain offers Newton's old position to LaMarr, leapfrogging Lieutenant Yaphit, who was next in line for promotion.

LaMarr's first day as Chief Engineer stands as the capstone of the episode New Dimensions:
LaMarr Yaphit Chief Engineer

LaMarr approaches Engineering as Chief Engineer for the first time.

Okay, everybody listen up. There's a new boss in town and his name is Lieutenant Commander John LaMarr. You guys ready to step it up? Okay, boom. Now, if we can increase engine efficiency to 97 percent by the end of the work week, we can all take off early and get wasted. Sound good? Well don't just stand there, snap to it.


LaMarr gets along best with his bridgemate, Malloy. The two are laid-back and often disregard decorum. LaMarr drinks soda on the bridge, addresses other crew members as "man" or "dude," even to superior officers, and frequently makes openly critical or sarcastic remarks.[4] In the episode Command Performance, LaMarr jokes about Kitan's inexperience after she demurred in the face of a decision. When Kitan dares him to repeat his remark, he stands down and addresses her as "sir."

Production Edit

John LaMarr promotional image

The first season character promotional image of LaMarr.

The character of John LaMarr is mostly unchanged from the initial development stages of the show of April, 2016. In the pilot script, LaMarr is introduced as "co-pilot" and "level eight helmsman" of the Orville; and the character is described simply as a black man in his 30s.[4] Creator Seth MacFarlane wrote LaMarr specifically for the actor J. Lee, who protrays LaMarr on the show.[5] Consequently, some of the personality traits and quirks of LaMarr on film are in fact extensions of Lee's personality off-camera.

Actor J. Lee explains LaMarr's casual attitude during introductions in Old Wounds as LaMarr's way to assess Captain Mercer: "When I first meet Ed, the new captain of the ship, I sort of take him in and size him up a little but then quickly shows how great of a captain he really is."[6]

LaMarr often functions as a writer's tool to explain the story through metaphors that audiences will understand. For example, Isaac says that the Orville can enter Calivon space because Isaac is Kaylon. LaMarr summarizes: "White guy can go to Compton if black dude says it's cool."[7]


  • He requests permission from Mercer to drink soda on the bridge. Later, during the Orville's first departure from Earth, LaMarr can be seen drinking soda on the bridge.[1]
    • In the original script, LaMarr spills his drink once Malloy "hugs the donkey."[4]
  • He finds blue jeans to be uncomfortably tight and to look ridiculous.[8]
  • He loathes the music of Barry Manilow, which the rest of Engineering loves.[9]
  • He has a crippling fear of clowns (coulrophobia), and considers "hobo clowns" to be the scariest of all. His phobia is so strong even mention of the word "clown" causes him to grow noticeably uncomfortable.[10]
    John LaMarr Pria Lavesque Gordon Malloy

    LaMarr congratulates Pria Lavesque with a fist bump for successfully navigating a dark matter storm and saving their ship.

  • He has one of the highest academic records from Union Point, and after Isaac is considered the most intelligent member of the Orville.[2]
  • He experiences motion sickness when entering 2-dimensional space, vomiting in front of the Captain.[2]
  • LaMarr's character parallels Geordie LaForge of Star Trek: The Next Generation. LaForge and LaMarr started on the bridge and later were promoted to Chief Engineers.
  • According to Lee, "Seth wrote the character with me in mind so we both say 'boom.'" [5]


References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Episode One: Old Wounds.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Episode Eleven: New Dimensions
  3. Episode Four: If the Stars Should Appear
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 MacFarlane, Seth. Orville 1x01 - PilotFox Broadcasting Co.
  5. 5.0 5.1 LaPalme, Kevin. "THE ORVILLE’S J LEE AND HIS LEAP OF FAITH". LaPalme Magazine. Dec. 6, 2017.
  6. Mayo, Lauren. "Actor J Lee talks artistry and new Fox series ‘The Orville’". Rolling Out. August 24, 2017.
  7. Episode Two: Command Performance.
  8. Episode Seven: Majority Rule.
  9. Episode Eight: Into the Fold.
  10. Episode Ten: Firestorm.