Created By: fulltimeD on May 6, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on February 11, 2014

Ambiguously Living Ship

It\'s not clear if this spaceship is alive or not.

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We all know the famous living spaceship trope. But sometimes, it's not clear whether a Cool Starship is a Living Ship or not. These ships may display characteristics of a Living Ship, but are never stated to be alive as such. Some species even design their (purely mechanical) technology this way for their own reasons (aesthetic or otherwise). More primitive species especially will attempt to copy the smooth, flowing lines of the Higher-Tech Species' organic technology.


  • Both Red and Black Lectroid spaceflight technology in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension has a very organic appearance, but it is never specified whether it is Organic Technology, or if Lectroids just like that aesthetic.
  • The Alien Nation TV Movies feature very organic-looking Tenctonese Overseer starships, and Ret Cons the design of the saucer-shaped slave ship that crashed on Earth into a similar aesthetic. Their large military cruisers were huge, dark, crescent-shaped starships (some were so big they were more like mobile starbases) with very organic textures. One of their smaller ships was actually a redress of the Thermopod from Buckaroo Banzai.

Live-Action Television
  • Star Trek: Enterprise featured the Xyrillians, reptilian humanoids accustomed to a different atmosphere and pressure level than humans, who traveled in an organic-looking spacecraft with grass growing on the floors and food growing from the walls, as well as supporting primitive fish-like animals in water-filled chambers, which the crew consumed. Basically, their ship supported a simple ecology, and certainly looked as organic as many of the examples on Living Ship, but it was never spelled out.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation and especially Star Trek: Voyager. Borg ships might very well be considered Mechanical Lifeforms. They have regenerative capabilities and function much like a single-minded entity when their crews are linked into the collective, thinking as one. They can also "reproduce" by assimilating other ships with Borg drones and nanoprobes.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • The form that the Farpoint Entity's mate assumed when it confronted the Enterprise in the pilot episode ("Encounter at Farpoint"), before it revealed its true form.
    • In one episode, the Enterprise-D becomes semi-self aware, and spawns an offspring which leaves to explore the galaxy. The Enterprise then goes back to being a regular ship.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • The show featured several ambiguously organic-looking guest ships of the week, including Daelen's ship and the Benthan patrol vessels from "Vis a Vis," the Hierarchy Ships (which possessed a very skeletal, organic armored external appearance), and the cytoplasmic lifeforms' ship (very organic looking, and theorized to have been controlled by chemical secretions).
    • The Voyager crew once encountered a mimetic species commonly called "Silverblood" by fans. Its natural form was a mercury-like liquid, which on contact with other life forms and even non-living technology, assumed the form and function of whatever it touched, whether a humanoid, machine, or something else entirely. The Silverblood returned in a later episode, having moved on from copying the crew to copying the entire titular starship; meaning that the "copy" Voyager was made from the same living mimetic substance as its Silverblood "crew" of copied humanoids.
  • Babylon 5
    • The most advanced species (Shadows, Vorlons, other First Ones) had Organic Technology, but the Minbari, Brakiri and Streib did not. They did, however, design their ships to emulate the organic curves and textures of Living Ships, to appear more powerful to other species. The Streib went all out and apparently designed all of their technology this way, based on what we saw of them in their single appearance. Their cousins, the Vree, are a Higher-Tech Species but don't share this proclivity.
    • White Star-class ships (hybrids of Minbari and Vorlon technology) have organic components such as the biological hull armor, which can't be reproduced without Vorlon help, and other characteristics of a Living Ship like self-healing capabilities, but they are not considered alive like a pure Vorlon ship.
    • The Thirdspace Aliens' ships looked like Organic Technology but this was never explored very far.
  • Farscape
  • The buried alien spaceship in the nineties version of The Tomorrow People had a vaguely organic look and empathic/telepathic abilities. It was much more organic looking in the unaired pilot.
  • Doctor Who. The TARDIS is said to be alive, but things change in the writer's room, especially as the Whoniverse uses Broad Strokes. For most of its history it wasn't seen as alive, and was only confirmed as such in the new series.

Western Animation
  • Bob from Tripping the Rift is a more humorous example. He sure acts like he's alive!

Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • May 6, 2012
    I'm trying to decide if the TARDIS counts or not, since it's been confirmed that it is alive. Anyone else have any thoughts?
  • May 6, 2012
    I left it off for that reason. It is definitely confirmed alive.
  • May 7, 2012
    Note to self: Borg ships also "reproduce" through nano probe assimilation.
  • May 7, 2012
    The Tardis has been confirmed as being alive, but things change and it may become important to the plot later on that it is not alive. For most of its history it wasn't seen as alive.
  • May 7, 2012
    • Bob from Tripping The Rift is a more humorous example. He sure acts like he's alive!
  • May 8, 2012
    Would these count? (If so, I'll try to look them up so as to give more detailed examples rather than these off-the-top-of-my-head examples.)
    • Star Trek The Next Generation: The Enterprise becomes semi-self aware, and spawns an offspring which goes out to explore the galaxy. The Enterprise then goes back to being a regular ship.
    • Star Trek Voyager: the Voyager is built using "neural gel packs," meaning that the ship is sort-of cognizant of its own existence. Rarely mentioned.
  • May 8, 2012
    ^ The Next Generation example probably counts. I don't know about the neural gel packs though. It was never stated to be self aware even slightly; just that the gel packs provided for smooth computational processing than regular old isolinear chips on other ships.

    The Silver Blood copy of Voyager might count though.
  • May 8, 2012
    @wotnotplot: Is it only the New Series so far that it has been confirmed alive? Because if that's the case, I will add it and paraphrase what you said.
  • May 8, 2012
    Yes, I believe so.
  • May 10, 2012
    Will updates w/ examples this weekend...
  • May 14, 2012
  • February 10, 2014
  • February 10, 2014
    Eh, I have a beef with "ambiguous" tropes. They rarely say how "ambiguous" it is.
  • February 11, 2014