The conversations in the writers' room not only build out Hunt's back story, they also give new shape to the character. Months into the writing, Sam Humphrey, supervising producer on the show, said: "I'm still discovering her. I'm still learning about her." He added with a laugh, "Of course you can't go have coffee with her."
Sometimes during the struggle to divine their creation's actions and motivations, the writers and producers bounce ideas off of Ms. Delany, who is also an executive producer. "In many ways she's not that far off from myself, weirdly enough" Ms. Delany said. "Underneath it all, she is a nerd, and that's what excites her, the science."
The nerdiness appealed to Ms. Delany, who calls herself — like her character — a "nerd under it all" and said she had 10 Words With Friends games going with cast members and others on the set. It is a trait that she is especially happy to portray on screen. "We need to have more smart women on television," she said.
Ms. Delany, 55, came to prominence in the late 1980s in the series "China Beach," about women working at a military hospital during the Vietnam War. She most recently spent several years on "Desperate Housewives," the soapy ABC series that has been on since 2004. ABC nudged her toward "Body of Proof" last year.
On a Friday last August in Providence, Mr. Murphey and Matthew Gross, an executive producer, were lounging in Mr. Gross's almost uncomfortably sparse office at the end of a hallway, talking through Hunt's relationship with her mother, Joan Hunt, played by Joanna Cassidy.
"They're both experts at getting under each other's nerves," Mr. Murphey said.
Mr. Gross added, "Every time they're together, they know there'll be fireworks, yet they're inextricably connected."
The fireworks also allow for moments of humor, needed to balance the gravity of the cases. But those moments can't come in the autopsy room, Mr. Gross said, because it would undercut Hunt's role as a respectful advocate for the dead. "The humor's got to come either from people colliding with different agendas or from different personalities; the funniest thing is that Megan acts like she's everybody's boss, yet she's right there on the bottom."
And Ms. Delany noted: "A lot of the fast part, the humor, is her way of coping with her feelings. She's always deflecting by coming up with snappy lines and throwing everybody off." Since the first episode Ms. Delany has toned down the abrasiveness of her character a bit. "Now it's more, 'She's just trying to do her job,' " she said.
She has also recommended against monologuelike wrap-ups at the end of episodes, as she did during a table read for Episode 103. "Let's have more give and take between me and the other people talking," she said in the meeting.
That recommendation was taken back to Mr. Gross's office, and by the next morning the script was reworked accordingly. Dr. Megan Hunt had evolved once more.