Michael Burnham is Spock’s Adopted Sister, and it’s Canon. No, Seriously.

Burnham is Spock's adopted sister (courtesy CBS)

Panel Reveals Familial Connections

CBS had a Star Trek Discovery panel at Comic-Con 2017.  Moderated by Rainn Wilson, most of the primary cast were present, answering questions, and generally promoting the upcoming series.

One of the most intriguing pieces of information to come out of the event has to do with the main character’s childhood and upbringing.  It’s already known that Commander Michael Burnham (see character profiles) attended the Vulcan Learning Center as a child and Vulcan Science Academy as a young woman.  There are hints of Vulcan mannerisms in here character that reveal themselves in the trailers.

What’s new information is that Burnham was raised by Sarek and Amanda.  For those that don’t know, Sarek is Spock’s Vulcan father, and Amanda is his human mother.  That means Michael Burnham is Spock’s adopted sister.

Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Michael Burnham, tells fans that her character’s parents both died when she was just a child.  It’s then that Sarek makes a decision to take her under his wing to raise and mentor her as his own child on Vulcan with Amanda.

Sarek and Amanda adopt Burnham (courtesy CBS)
Sarek and Amanda adopt Burnham (courtesy CBS)

Has History Been Rewritten?

So how have fans never heard of Burnham prior Star Trek Discovery?  Most fans would instantly say that it cannot be canon to Star Trek: The Original Series.  This, even though Sybok, Spock’s half-brother, was never mentioned until Star Trek V: The Final Frontier when he revealed himself and his followers.  If Star Trek V can get away with injecting siblings and it’s canon, can’t Discovery?

The answer to that is an uncomfortable “yes”.  But what’s interesting, and comforting, is it doesn’t appear to be exactly what’s going to happen.

During the Discovery panel at SDCC, executive producer Alex Kurtzman made a few relevant comments.  “We’re aware [that Spock has never mentioned Burnham].  You’ll see where it’s going, but we’re staying consistent with canon” Kutzman said, preempting fan concerns.  He also recently made it public that Discovery has people on-staff specifically to raise red flags when the writers may be diverging from series canon.  Assuming the show’s showrunners are listening, we’ll end up with an adopted sister to Spock that fully fits within canon.

Specifics surrounding how won’t be revealed until the show airs in September.  For now, fans know that Sarek committed Michael Burnham to Captain Philippa Georgiou.  It’s also know that Georgiou finds it hard to believe that Burnham came to her seven years ago.  In other words Burnham came to Sarek and Amanda as a child and likely left them in her late teenage years.  This after attending the Vulcan Science Academy as a young woman; an Academy that is likely fully immersive.  Meaning she probably didn’t spend a whole lot of time actually with Amanda and that Sarek was likely more a mentor than a father.

About the potential of breaking Star Trek‘s history…. “we are very consistent with our origins” says Kurtzman.

Star Trek Discovery airs September 24th on CBS All Access in the USA, CraveTV/Space in Canada, and on Netflix around the rest of the world

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About Cassius Adams

Cassius Adams is the creator of ncc-1031.com and is a content contributor. He has been a Star Trek fan for nearly three decades. Cassius discovered his passion for the franchise early into TNG's run, and nourished that passion throughout DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and the movies. Cassius can be reached by emailing cass@ncc-1031.com or you can follow him on Twitter at @supercass