|“||I've been living with the truth for years. The goggles let me see nothing else. It's what's kept me alive.||”|
A brilliant, introspective, and forward-thinking medical pioneer, Dr. Charles McNider, better known by his alter-ego Dr. Mid-Nite, was a founding member of the Justice Society of America. With his trusty owl Hootie, he acted as the team's resident doctor and detective. Born in the early 1900s, Charles' knowledge made him a valuable asset to the JSA until his death in 2010 during a battle against the ISA. He was defeated by Shade with his knowledge and mantle thought to have been a token of the golden age of heroes.
Unbeknownst to Pat Dugan, Charles uploaded his artificial intelligence into his goggles which survived the 2010 battle. In 2020, Beth Chapel activates the goggles, and Charles, whom she nicknames Chuck, continues to aid the JSA through his artificial intelligence. He befriended Beth and they became close, sharing similar interests and intellect. The goggles and his AI were destroyed by ISA leader Icicle, leaving Beth heartbroken.
Charles McNider was born in 1914. He studied at Keystone University where he earned a Doctorate of Medicine and the University of Civic City where he earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in Neuroscience. He married a woman named Myra and they lived in the quaint town of Melody Hills, Indiana. They had a daughter together named Rebecca McNider, and lived a happy life.
At some point, McNider lost his sight fighting the mob. In an effort to regain his vision, he built a pair of goggles that helped him see, allowing him to further fight crime and have other technological advances. In 1941, Charles joined the Justice Society of America and became the superhero, Dr. Mid-Nite. His primary sidekick was Hootie, an owl that he cared for deeply.
As a civilian, Charles worked as a doctor and was often on call which often took him away from his family. One day, Rebecca desired to attend a birthday party across the street, but wasn't allowed due to a scene she caused at the store with Myra. Rebecca was annoyed and argued that her father would let her go if he were here, but Myra reminded her that he wasn't as he's on call. Rebecca sulked outside when she was lured across the street, coerced into stealing a doll, and ultimately murdered by the dark entity of vengeance called Eclipso. His daughter's death tore through his marriage and life, leaving him and Myra with crippling grief. Dr. Mid-Nite was absent from the JSA's decision to kill Eclipso's human host, a decision that was prompted by the demons murder of Rebecca.
Charles uploaded an AI version of himself into the JSA database to help aid himself and those who would join the JSA after he was gone. He made two pairs of goggles, the original pair which was kept at the JSA headquarters, and a second pair that he wore in the 2000s. On Christmas Eve 2010, Charles McNider and his fellow JSA members battled the Injustice Society in a mansion in California. Dr. Mid-Nite fought against The Shade, who used his power over shadows to form a giant hand and engulf Dr. Mid-Nite. Pat Dugan witnessed the event and believed his friend had been killed, as he was unaware that The Shade had transported McNider to the Shadowlands. McNider's AI form lived on inside his former pair of dormant goggles. His goggles and suit were safely stored in the JSA's headquarters by Pat.
On Christmas 2010, Dr. Mid-Nite fights bravely alongside his fellow JSA members against the Injustice Society. Pat Dugan bursts into the mansion and catches the attention of Dr. Mid-Nite, who shouts at Stripesy to leave. He is then consumed by a large black body of smoke and screams as he's dragged away. Stripesy watches in horror, only muttering Dr. Mid-Nite's name. Through Pat, Dr. Mid-Nite's memory is kept alive over the years as both Pat and Rex Tyler work to get justice for Charles and the rest of the JSA's murder. Ten years later, Pat's stepdaughter Courtney Whitmore finds the Cosmic Staff and becomes the leader of the JSA. Pat explains who Charles McNider was, even pointing out his banner in the JSA's headquarters. Pat also introduces Courtney to Charles's trusted owl, Hootie, who used to land on Dr. Mid-Nite's arm every time he came to the headquarters. Hootie has been waiting a decade for Charles to return. Pat explains that Hootie doesn't understand that Charles and the rest of the JSA aren't coming back. Courtney finds this sad but asks Pat why there can't be a new Dr. Mid-Nite. Despite his objections, she steals Charles's goggles and costume from the headquarters and kicks off a recruitment mission.
Beth Chapel unexpectedly shows up at Courtney's house after overhearing Courtney and Yolanda Montez discussing recruitment for the JSA. She is a talkative young girl with bright eyes and an uncanny intellect. While she waits for Courtney to come home, she sees the Whitmore's dog, Max, chewing on a pair of goggles. She rescues the goggles from the dog and enters Courtney's room. She tries on the goggles and is stunned when they whir to life. The voice of Charles McNider speaks to Beth, introducing himself as the artificial intelligence of one Dr. Charles McNider. He used to be Dr. Mid-Nite, an original member of the Justice Society of America. He shows her his credentials and a picture of himself, though his peaking in the first person is jarring to her at first. He offers to speak in the third person instead, but she tells him that it's fine, calling him "Chuck". She asks if this is okay and he doesn't seem bothered by the nickname. Chuck asks whom he has the pleasure of speaking with, and Beth introduces herself. He greets her and accesses the JSA database to learn everything he can about the girl.
Beth is the only person who can hear Charles' voice, making her a translator for Chuck's information. This includes telling Courtney that she made a classic rookie superhero mistake by referring to Wildcat by her real name, Yolanda. Courtney eventually agrees to let Beth use the goggles for the night, and Beth and Chuck are able to help Courtney identify who Rick Tyler really is and his connection to the JSA. Later that night, Beth confides in Charles about her family situation and he is sympathetic. He then shows her that what happened to Rick's parents wasn't an accident, thus, allowing the new JSA to recruit Rex.
Beth becomes accustomed to the goggles and very close friends with Chuck. She enjoys talking with him and he tells her about his favorite book. He brags that he bought the first edition of the copy which was published in 1953. Beth teases that he's old but laughs at something he responds with, saying that he's wise, not old. She has never read it but agrees to watch the movie something that he finds great offense in, humorously replying that she should just go ahead and burn the book already. She laughs at the joke as it correlates with the plot of the book. Their relationship seems to be close, with Beth telling Courtney that Chuck is becoming her best friend. Chuck later tells Beth that The Gambler is hacking into Empire Enterprises, bitterly telling her that Gambler was his arch-enemy and mocks Gambler's hacking style. That night, Beth witnesses a fight between Wildcat and Tigress and begs Chuck to tell her what to do as she isn't a fighter. He identifies a fire extinguisher that she uses to attack Tigress with so she and Yolanda can escape.
Beth, now fully accustomed to the goggles, bonds more with Chuck by using their Karaoke mode to sing together as she gets ready for school. She now commonly refers to Chuck as her "best pal" while he cares for her well-being and tries his best to advise her and the JSA.
Beth later wears the goggles while analyzing the Burman household, and they run a facial recognition scan on Bobbie Burman. Chuck is surprised when the goggles aren't able to identify Bobbie. When Beth looks at Pat, Chuck remarks that this is the first time he's seen Pat since that night. He determines Pat's height, weight, and resting heart rate. Chuck casually states that Pat is fourteen pounds heavier since their last encounter. Later, when Beth explores a secret passageway in the Burman household the goggles cease to work and show static interference. Chuck heavily advises Beth against going any further, and later, tries to convince her not to go into Cindy's room. She insists that she can't leave without finding something to help her team. He is able to identify Shiro Ito off of a picture in Cindy's room, though he believes Dr. Ito to have died.
As time passes, Charles becomes close to each member of the JSA as they refer to him as "Chuck" as well, but the bond he shares with Beth is beyond that of anyone else. He shows sympathy for her loss after the death of Henry King Jr., acknowledging that his death has been hard on her and everyone. He then assists Beth in hacking into the ISA's database and faces off with The Gambler once more. Gambler is proud of his ability to hack the goggles, asking whom he has the pleasure of speaking with. Chuck proudly states that Beth is Dr. Mid-Nite.
In the meantime, the mental reprogramming of the adults in Blue Valley has begun leaving Barbara, Pat, and Justin vulnerable. Beth begins to freak out as she is confused about why the bad guys aren't being affected by the mental wave. Chuck theorizes that they are wearing a protective earpiece to block the frequencies. Beth wonders if they can mimic the signal but Chuck needs to examine the earpiece in order to remake it. Hourman thinks they need help, but then Beth realizes she can hear them despite having previously encountered problems communicating in the tunnels. Chuck discovers several low-frequency blockers in the tunnels, which have been turned off. Beth realizes the ISA knows that the JSA's in the tunnels, which is why the blockers are off. She thinks they can turn them back on. Steve dares her to hack into his systems. Chuck continues to try and beat Gambler at his game but every firewall he breaks through Gambler puts another one up, resulting in a stalemate. Beth wants to make a distraction causing Chuck to realize they should hack into something he really cares about. Gambler is curious about this and Chuck coyly states that Gambler only cares about his money. Suddenly concerned, Gambler witnesses Chuck and Beth drain all his accounts into various charity donations. With Gambler distracted, Chuck is able to turn the blockers back on, but not for long. However, the temporary interruption should be enough to break Pat and Justin free for good. The plan works and the adults are freed once more. Hourman thanks Beth for her great work, but Beth congratulates her best pal Chuck who did the work. He responds that it was a team effort, referring to her as his "best pal" much to her joy.
When Stargirl succeeds in destroying the ISA's machine, Chuck, Barbara, and Beth celebrate happily. But moments later, Icicle burst through the door and snarls that Beth has caused a lot of problems for him. But he's not going to let her stop him. He holds out his hand and uses his ice powers to freeze Dr. Mid-Nite's goggles, causing Beth pain as she clutches at the goggles. The vision begins to short circuit and the glass fractures. Chuck panics telling her that something is wrong and begins to beg for Beth to help him, as he is dying. He screams loudly as he is destroyed. Beth is forced to rip the goggles off and they fall to the ground, the glass fracturing. Icicle then throws Beth into a wall.
When she awakens, she cradles the goggles in her hands, mourning the loss of her friend. She tells Wildcat and Stargirl that Chuck is dead - Icicle killed him. Once the battle is over, Beth solemnly stores the goggles in a cardboard box. Rick and Courtney try to assure her that they'll fix the goggles, but she tearfully admits that it isn't the goggles she's sad about. It's him, it's Chuck, he's what made the goggles special. Rick assures her that they'll find a way to fix him, to which Yolanda agrees.
Beth works tirelessly to fix the broken goggles to regain her lost friend. Her attempts to reboot his artificial intelligence fail repeatedly, until one night when his voice crackles through the goggles. She happily puts the goggles on to speak with him, only for him to coolly state that he doesn't know who she is and disconnect himself. Beth refuses to give up and tries to reboot him again, though this time, the goggles respond. Charles speaks through them to warn her that whoever she is she has to be careful, as Eclipso is here. His voice cuts out once again so Beth relays the message to Rick Tyler.
She attempts to bypass the remaining firewalls but the AI still doesn't reboot properly. She is about to give up when she hears Charles's voice calling out, asking if anyone can hear him. She happily puts them on but he still doesn't know who she is. She tries to explain that she is Beth Chapel, his best friend, but he doesn't remember her. He asks why she calls him Chuck so she explains that his name is Dr. Charles McNider - his AI. Charles is wildly confused as he doesn't understand. He asks where Pat is and what happened to the JSA. He has to find them as he's been lost for years. Beth asks who he is and he reveals that his name is Dr. Charles McNider and he's been trapped in The Shadows. Beth realizes that he's the real Dr. Charles McNider. He merely mutters the name The Shade as Beth realizes that he's alive. In The Shadows, Charles calls out for Beth Chapel as he wanders through a plane of nothing but dark shadows.
In the days that follow, Beth meets with Pat at The Pit Stop to convince him that she spoke with the real Dr. McNider who is still alive. He doesn't believe her as it's impossible - he saw McNider die. She argues that that he's alive, and that's why he didn't recognize her voice wen she rebooted the goggles. Pat still isn't convinced as it could be Eclipso making her see or hear what she wants. Rick believes Beth and asks Pat what that could mean, so Pat states that if Dr. McNider is alive, then they'll stop at nothing to help him. But until they know for sure, they have to focus on the problem at hand.
Beth continues to try and repair the goggles as Dr. McNider contacts her again. She explains who she is again and he asks what she's doing with his goggles. She states she found them but he detects the partial lie. She changes the subject to him supposed to be dead, so he explains that clinically speaking he's alive. He deduces that she has his original goggles so the two pairs must be connecting because the shadow barrier has been breached. She giddily says it's bonkers and he hesitantly asks how old she is. Beth states she just turned sixteen but is very trustworthy. He begins to panic as he thinks "they" have seen him and has to keep moving. She asks where he is, so he reveals he's in the Shadowlands. The connection cuts out before he can elaborate.
That day, Eclipso begins his wave of attacks on the JSA by targeting Beth. She is pulled into an illusion that preys on her insecurities and feelings of not being chosen to be Dr. Mid-Nite. She is taunted by Eclipso for being a young black woman as he tries to intimidate her. She refuses to be manipulated and takes back the goggles and puts them on, causing Eclipso to vanish. Beth realizes she's still in her home, and wonders when she came back as she thought she traveled. Charles contacts Beth through the goggles and explains that she never left her home - it was all an illusion created by Eclipso. He warns her not to take off the goggles as it will allow her to see through Eclipso's visions. She thinks the goggles saved her life but he clarifies that she saved herself, whoever she is. Beth smiles and proudly says she's the new Dr. Mid-Nite. A moment passes as the JSA database updates with Beth as Dr. Mid-Nite.
The next day, Beth succeeds in making the connection between the goggles stronger. She reveals she's at her friends house but The Shade is there. She knows he tried to kill McNider the night the JSA died. McNider refutes this statement as Shade saved his life. She finds this hard to believe as Shade was a member of the ISA and helped kill the Justice Society. McNider explains that while Shade may have toyed with playing the role of super villain for amusement, McNider doesn't think Shade wanted anyone to die. In fact, McNider thinks Shade tried to pull him to safety when he accidentally put McNider in the Shadowlands. Beth asks how Shade got his powers, so McNider explains the origins of his old frenemy. He also promises to help Beth however he can from here. He's not sure it's possible to bring him back but she thinks Shade can find a way to bring him home. She asks him to unseal the confidential files on Shade and Eclipso, and McNider happily obliges. A second later, dozens, if not hundreds, of files appear to Beth. Meanwhile, Courtney is sent to the Shadowlands by Eclipso.
As the shadows consume her, Courtney is pulled to safety in the JSA headquarters by Dr. Charles McNider, who wears his Dr. Mid-Nite suit. She is shocked to see him but also worries that it isn't real. He confirms that everything around her is an illusion but assures her that he is real. He confirms his previous communication with her friend Beth. Courtney isn't convinced so he offers his goggles to show her how the Shadowlands appear without Eclipso's illusions. He asks her to hurry as she puts them on. The JSA headquarters fades away to reveal an abyss of darkness and shadows. She returns the goggles and asks how he could bear to look at that for a decade. He admits that time moves differently in the Shadowlands, but it's also better than what he hears without the goggles - the screams of his daughter.
Over the years, he managed to hack into the real world using his goggles, but he only ever receives snippets of news. It wasn't until Beth activated his secondary pair of goggles that he gained hope of escaping. He also believes The Shade didn't put him in the Shadowlands on purpose, but rather, in an attempt to save his life and didn't know he had been trapped. He explains that Richard visited him after Rebecca's funeral the pair finished off a bottle of absinthe together. He admits that the Shade must have considered him a friend. Charles than delivers a message to Beth that both he and Courtney are together in the Shadowlands.
This information is enough for Beth, Pat, Barbara, Mike, and Jennie to locate The Shade. They ask him to open a doorway to the Shadowlands so they could save Courtney and Charles. Shade is surprised that Charles is in the Shadowlands and feels remorse for having placed him there unknowingly. Despite his weakened state, Shade agrees to open a doorway using the movie screen in front of them. With much focus, he succeeds in opening a door where the two dimensions could see each other. In the Shadowlands, the Rocket Racer whirs to life and shines its headlights where the rift appears. Courtney and Charles prepare to leave when Courtney remembers that Cindy is still trapped. She refuses to leave without Cindy, and Charles presses they had to hurry in saving her. Shade struggles to keep the doorway open long enough for them to return.
Courtney is transported to Dragon King's lair in the Blue Valley Tunnels, where she witnesses Cindy be injected with a syringe. Dragon King knows Courtney doesn't have her staff and prepares to attack her with a sword. Dr. McNider appears and instructs Courtney to ignore him as he isn't real - he doesn't have any power if she ignores him. She does just that and Dragon King vanishes into smoke as she walks by. She quickly frees Cindy and the trio hurry to the JSA headquarters. They pushed through the barrier The Shade opens. Courtney presses through the film first and transitions from black and white to back into color. Dr. McNider follows soon after, embracing Pat once he's through the screen. When all three were safely returned, The Shade closes the portal and collapses into his seat, dying from the exertion of energy. As Charles stands over Shade he calls him an old friend seconds before Shade fades into shadows. Cindy is unphased by the death and asks the gathered people if they're ready to kill Eclipso.
He worked with Beth to try to save her parents from Eclipso who tried to drain them of their darkness to kill them. He was surprised to see his old friend The Shade alive and well after the Shade saved them. Shade reminded him that he's always had a flare for the dramatic. Chuck and Beth then suited up to help Courtney and the others, now joined by Jakeem, the Thunderbolt, Mike in S.T.R.I.P.E., and the newly returned Crocks, in defeating Eclipso once and for all. When Beth learned Chuck was leaving to look for his wife, she revealed to him that she not only found her in Indiana, but that she was pregnant with their son when Chuck had been pulled into the Shadowlands ten years before. Chuck was amazed to hear that he had a ten year old son and reminded Beth that she was Dr. Mid-Nite before departing to meet his son and reunite with his wife.
Charles McNider was a forward-thinking individual with a brilliant mind and a high level of intelligence. He was a brilliant hacker and advanced in his technological abilities far beyond his era. Through his AI, Charles is shown to be a humorous, caring, and honest man with an odd sense of humor. His oddness and intellectual ways allow him to bond quickly with Beth Chapel, his modern-day successor. Chuck was compassionate towards Beth during hardships; such as the death of her friend, Henry King Jr. and cared for her well-being. He tried his best to advise her against dangerous situations, but understood her desire to help her team and protect them.
As a husband and father, Charles loved his family very much and was left devastated by the murder of his daughter. While he struggled to comfort his grieving wife, he too was having a hard time processing Rebecca's unexpected death, while coping the blame from Myra, despite knowing she'd lost a child as well.
As the founder and leader of the JSA, Charles' team decisions were mostly done by vote. Upon the death of Rebecca, a vote was needed to decide what was to be done about Bruce Gordon. Since Charles wasn't involved with the vote, given him being on leave to grieve for his daughter, his vote ultimately, went to Pat. Though, given his career as a doctor who vowed never to take a life, his vote would've been the same as Pat and Jay Garrick's; no.
Charles was a middle-aged man who appeared to be in his forties with hazel eyes and large stature. His eyes were concealed with a pair of black glasses and he walked with a visual support cane.
- Longevity: Charles had been alive since 1914, yet showed no signs of his advanced age. He appeared to be physically in his fifties despite being ninety-six years old at the time of his disappearance. His physical condition was also not affected by his age.
- High-Level Intelligence: Doctor Charles McNider, M.D. and Ph.D., was a highly intelligent member of the JSA, on par with Rex Tyler. His intellect extended to medicine and neuroscience and thus acted as the team's resident doctor and detective. He built his own goggles to overcome his blindness and even managed to install an A.I. into the eyewear, modeled after himself, that is able to communicate and interact with both wearer and the given environment like an actual person .
- Dr. Mid-Nite Suit: Charles McNider wore the suit while fighting the ISA as "Dr. Mid-Nite". The suit survived the battle of 2010, despite him having seemingly been consumed by The Shade. The suit now belongs to his successor, Beth Chapel.
- Dr. Mid-Nite's Goggles: These goggles gave Charles several visual advantages on enemies and helped him see despite having been blinded. Charles uploaded his consciousness into the goggles which allowed him to live on as artificial intelligence despite his physical demise.
- Charles' Season 1 appearances after "" are limited to his voice. Additional Season 1 appearances include being pictured in "".
- Additional Season 2 appearances include being mentioned in "".
Notes and Trivia
- Charles is the first AI to be introduced in the series.
- He is the first character in the series to have been recast. His was portrayed by Henry Thomas in Season 1 and Alex Collins in Season 2.
- He is the third-oldest character to be introduced in the series, having been born in 1914, making him 107 years old.
- Prior to his disappearance, Charles had a Twitter account.
- He loved reading and bought the first edition shelf copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
- Chuck and Courtney Whitmore are the only characters to refer to Beth as "Dr. Mid-Nite".
- He is the second Golden Age JSA member to be revealed as alive. He is preceded by Sylvester Pemberton/Starman.
- Charles is the second original JSA member to have more than one biological child. The first was Alan Scott who had twins, Jennie-Lynn and Todd. However, he didn't know his wife was pregnant with their son when he disappeared.