The Real Reason Scotty From Star Trek Is Missing A Finger

"Star Trek" was one of the most revolutionary shows of its time. Its plot helped to not only inspire future fiction writers, but influence real-world scientists, engineers, and astronomers as well (via NASA). The show also has a connection to the civil rights movement, having earned Martin Luther King Jr. as a fan. Cast member Nichelle Nichols was even convinced by King to remain on the show, as she was one of the few African American women on television at the time. While the original series only lasted three seasons, it inspired a massive franchise of other Star Trek TV series and films. 

One quality of the original series that seldom gets appropriate attention, however, relates to the character of Montgomery Scott — "Scotty,” the chief engineer, played by James Doohan. While the character canonically always had his digits, Doohan himself had by then lived for years without his right middle finger. During production he even utilized body doubles and camerawork to conceal his missing appendage (for the sake of continuity; per he never hid it in real life). Its absence was in fact the most visible of several injuries he received during his World War II military service on D-day (via All That's Interesting). 

James Doohan lost his finger while invading Normandy

Despite the characteristic Scottish accent he used in the show, James Doohan was in fact born in Vancouver, Canada (via Today I found Out). In the buildup to the European Theater of World War II Doohan became an artilleryman in the Canadian army, earning the rank of Lieutenant. In 1944, he was one of the soldiers set to land at Juno Beach during the invasion of Normandy, as this was the only beach to be assaulted by the Canadian army, rather than the Americans or British. 

After disembarking from their landing craft, Doohan himself killed two German snipers as the Canadian troops did their best to navigate a minefield. As the sun faded and the fighting continued, a Canadian machine gun mistakenly fired on Doohan (via The Vintage News). He was hit four times in the leg, once in the finger, and once in a cigarette case, which spared him an otherwise fatal chest wound. After his recovery Doohan became a pilot, flying light aircraft for the remainder of the war (via World War Wings).