Created By: lakingsifDecember 20, 2012 Last Edited By: lakingsifDecember 21, 2012
Nuked

Spaceships Must Have Weapons

In science fiction many spaceships and starships can be relied upon to have implausible weaponry.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
a.k.a. Starships Must Have Weapons

The common Spaceship or Starship is likely to have a defense system; the Cool Spaceship or Starship is likely to have an awesome, if incredible, form of retaliation. In the form of laser power or Humongous Mecha. Be it a Death Ray, Wave Motion Gun, or any other form of the Impossibly Cool Weapon, because Reality Is Unrealistic.

It doesn't always have to be a weapon of imminent injury, though, it could just as easily be an attractive form of Non Lethal Warfare because Spaceships must have weapons. As long as there is some sort of offense available, there needn't be any reasoning. The weaponry itself is also often somewhat 'futuristic'.

Asteroid Miners are frequently equipped with high-power lasers.

Examples

  • Averted with Serenity of Firefly, which is explicitly unarmed in the TV series and armed with a garden variety cannon in the movie.

  • The Millenium Falcon in Star Wars was modified with military grade weaponry that an imperial TIE pilot probably wouldn't expect on a freighter.

  • Dukat's freighter in the 4th Season of Star Trek Deep Space Nine was a standard Cardassian ugly flying brick that Dukat and Kira modified with weaponry taken from the wreckage of a Galor-class cruiser, a heavily armed Cardassian warship.

  • The Eureka Maru from Andromeda was a cargo/salvage ship that was armed to the teeth, to the point where it could often go toe to toe with the same ships that the Andromeda (a massive warship) would struggle with. Possibly justified in that the Andromeda is from 300 years ago and the Maru was built during a time when an entire galaxy is at war with itself.

  • The "Super-High-Mobility-Flying-Ship" Ragnarok from Final Fantasy VIII is simply an agile form of transportation, which is equipped with a particle cannon, two multi-barreled lasers and two retractable mega-claws.

  • In the Escape Velocity series it's rare to find a ship that isn't at least minimally armed, and even the ones that don't have guns have slots for them. Lampshaded by the Flavor Text for the UE Shuttle in EV Override, which treats it as a testimony to how dangerous the universe is.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • December 20, 2012
    StarSword
    We've got Frickin Laser Beams. I'm not sure this is really a trope as there's plenty of sci-fi that favors kinetic weapons instead.
  • December 20, 2012
    lakingsif
    This is where a trope about the fact that many spaceships seem to be fitted with Frickin Laser Beams, despite whether they get into mortal combat with one another or not. I haven't seen much sci-fi that has more ships with kinetic weapons than those with lasers, and some have both.

    Is there a trope for "Otherworldly craft will inevitably have some cool mecha, whether its used or not, because its futuristic and cool"? because we could sure do that instead, kinetic included.
  • December 20, 2012
    aurora369
    Averted with Serenity, which is explicitly unarmed in the TV series and armed with a garden variety cannon in the movie.
  • December 20, 2012
    Chabal2
    Asteroid Miners are frequently equipped with high-power lasers.
  • December 20, 2012
    fulltimeD
    This isn't a trope. It's a cliche. At least, the current description leaves a lot to be desired.

    I can see where a spaceship that has weapons but which one wouldn't expect to have weapons, like a cargo ship or a mining vessel, being a trope, as that is specifically plot-relevant. For example, the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars being modified with military grade weaponry that an imperial TIE pilot probably wouldn't expect on a freighter. But there's no reason to limit this to lasers, as it could cover any kind of weaponry. And yes, there is a LOT of science fiction that favors kinetic weapons or other "harder" (no pun intended) weapons, so much that it kind of invalidates this as a trope, unless it's expanded like I described.
  • December 21, 2012
    lakingsif
    I did also suggest that expansion, because of the harder weaponry.
  • December 21, 2012
    fulltimeD
    I would suggest downplaying the "coolness" as there are many settings in which the weaponry is more or less mundane, but unusual for the particular spacecraft it's mounted on.

    Another example would be Dukat's freighter in the 4th Season of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, a standard Cardassian ugly flying brick that Dukat and Kira modified with weaponry taken from the wreckage of a Galor-class cruiser, a heavily armed Cardassian warship.
  • December 21, 2012
    HawkofBattle
    • The Eureka Maru from Andromeda was a cargo/salvage ship that was armed to the teeth, to the point where it could often go toe to toe with the same ships that the Andromeda (a massive warship) would struggle with. Possibly justified in that the Andromeda is from 300 years ago and the Maru was built during a time when an entire galaxy is at war with itself.
  • December 21, 2012
    StarSword
    Video Games:

    • In the Escape Velocity series it's rare to find a ship that isn't at least minimally armed, and even the ones that don't have guns have slots for them. Lampshaded by the Flavor Text for the UE Shuttle in EV Override, which treats it as a testimony to how dangerous the universe is.
    • In the X-Universe series the only NPC ships you'll find that don't have at least a defensive tailgun will be either of Goner make (the Goners are pacifists), or will be one of the UFOs floating around (which nobody cares about).
  • December 21, 2012
    zarpaulus
    I doubt this is a trope, civilian starships are rare in fiction and most of the few ships that are not warships often have to fend off aliens or pirates or law officers. So they have damn good reasons to be armed.
  • December 21, 2012
    nitrokitty
    This sounds like People Sit On Chairs to me. It's like saying that aircraft carriers must have planes.
  • December 21, 2012
    fulltimeD
    It's more like saying Planes Must Have Propellers, because Propellers Are Cooler Than Jets. The problem with this is that many planes don't have propellers (or even jets, in the case of gliders), and there's no actual objective basis for saying that propellers are cooler than jet engines.

    Or it's like saying that shows set in the future must have robots. But there are plenty of shows that take place in the future and don't have robots. That's not an averted trope, because there's no trope in the first place to avert.

    I do think there might be a legitimate basis for a trope involving rustbuckets unexpectedly armed with cutting edge weapons, but the OP seems to be going for something far less consistent and concrete and more of a cliche, which pushes this into People Sit On Chairs territory. There's no rule saying a spaceship "must" be armed; they usually are armed for dramatic, narrative reasons, not because spaceship aesthetics typically require weapons. They don't. There are plenty of unarmed spaceships in fiction. It's just that they are rare in particular sub-genres like Space Opera which focus on space-based combat.

    As this stands, though, this is Not A Trope.
  • December 21, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Also, this is pretty much covered by Standard Sci Fi Fleet, which mentions Q-Ships and Blockade Runners. Most of the "examples" listed here would be covered by those descriptions.
  • December 21, 2012
    lakingsif
    fair enough, dude. you wanna move them?
  • December 21, 2012
    fulltimeD
    move what where? the examples to Standard Sci Fi Fleet? A lot of them are already on there. You're free to add whatever examples are lacking, though.

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