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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/AttackOfTheClones http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/drop-ship_aotc_7707.png]]]]
->'''Natalia:''' Argh! Can't you shake them, Lieutenant?\\
'''Foster:''' Major, this is a ''drop''ship; it doesn't shake, it ''drops!''
-->-- ''VideoGame/MechAssault 2''

''[[Film/{{Aliens}} Strap yourselves in boys, we're in for some chop!]]''

For maximum effect, listen to [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIGHCoVzqtk this]] when reading the article.

A common vehicle in MilitaryScienceFiction: A Drop Ship is a craft used to carry troops, vehicles and/or supplies from an orbiting ship to the surface of a planet or natural satellite and back, sometimes while under fire. Some are effectively a MilitaryMashupMachine between a space shuttle and a transport helicopter, while others are full-sized landing craft that are substantially larger. If the ship is armed and/or the troops involved happen to be reinforcements, it may be the vehicle of a GunshipRescue. Drop ships can go by may different names. These include, but are not limited to: drop ship, assault shuttle, landing craft. In a proper sci-fi setting, the size and configuration is limited only by the author's imagination.

TruthInTelevision, given the fact that the physical requirements of "getting from a planet to orbit and back" are far, far different than those of "getting from orbit around one planet to orbit around another". Think of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Lunar_Module the lunar lander]] as a kind of Drop Ship and you'll get the idea.

For when the vehicle is not designed to go back up, see DropPod. Sometimes, deployment results in [[ItsRainingMen a rain of men]].

Often part of a StandardSciFiFleet. Supertrope to SpheroidDropship. Not related to ColonyDrop.


* One of the most famous, if not the TropeMaker, is the dropship from ''Film/{{Aliens}}''. The ship (maybe) and its pilot (definitely) were inspired by ''Literature/StarshipTroopers'', though the preferred method in the book for deploying the Mobile Infantry was literally to drop them from orbit. However, drop ships were used when the deployment was on a more relaxed schedule, and ships were used to take the [=MIs=] off the planet. The movie, though, played it straight.
* LAAT's and ''Acclamator''-class ships both perform this role in the ''StarWars'' prequels, on different scales. The Acclamators are dropships ''for'' dropships, which is pretty impressive. There are also LAAT-derivatives and (off-screen) barges for dropping off AT-[=ATs=] and other walkers.
** Sentinel ships are an EU greatly enlarged version of the lambda shuttle seen in the movie built as drop ships, one is actually seen in one of the Episode V remastered editions.
*** The Lambda shuttle itself is used like this in some Eu works and is the inspiration for several drop ships in other works of fiction.
** The ''VideoGame/StarWarsBattlefront'' games use [=LAATs=] and other craft as ship-to-ship boarding dropships. There are various other kinds of dropship in the StarWarsExpandedUniverse, primarily but definitely not exclusively belonging to the Empire. There are a lot of different classes, designed to ferry anything from stormtroopers to [[SpiderTank AT-ATs]] to and from the surface of the planet and the Star Destroyer drifting in orbit.
* ''Film/TheForceAwakens'' continues the tradition with the First Order Transporters, also known as Atmospheric Assault Landers. They're tiny compared to Lambda shuttles, but each one still carries up to 20 stormtroopers and can unload them all in seconds.
* ''Film/EdgeOfTomorrow''. Four-engined tilt-rotors are used for the Operation Downfall invasion force, with the soldiers in their PoweredArmor dropping down on a cable which releases just before they hit the ground.
* In ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', the Chitauri ground troops were transported to Earth by Leviathans which combine this trope with LivingShip.

* Used in ''Franchise/{{Dune}}''.
* "Drop shuttles" are standard equipment in the Literature/VorkosiganSaga.
* The spaceplanes and Kulu Ion Fliers in Peter F. Hamilton's ''Literature/TheNightsDawnTrilogy'' perform this on a regular basis, some with more success than others. Most notable being [[spoiler: Ashley's last-second rescue of the ''Lady Macbeth''s crew and assorted others when an ironberg (yes, that's exactly what it sounds like) is about to fall on them from orbit. Another of the ''Lady Mac''s spaceplanes was used to sterilise a landing zone in a jungle with belly-mounted microwave lasers.]]
* [=VTAs=] in the ''Literature/ConfederationOfValor'' series.
* A variation is used in ''Literature/TheHistoryOfTheGalaxy'' books in the form of Marine Assault Modules. Unlike a typical example of a Drop Ship, [=MAMs=] can be equipped with [[FasterThanLightTravel hyperdrives]], although they aren't likely to have fuel for more than one jump. Besides carrying {{Space Marine}}s and/or [[RealRobotGenre Real Robots]], they also feature two powerful turrets to allow them to clear the deployment area or break down fortifications prior to the ground assault. They can either land to unload troops or deploy {{Drop Pod}}s (basically, shipping crates with landing thrusters). Not designed for space warfare, they are invaluable during ground assaults.
* The ''Literature/{{Eldraeverse}}'' brings us the ''Flapjack''-class cavalry dropship, which uses a '''pair''' of {{Orion Drive}}s - one to accelerate out of orbit, and one to brake hard on landing. The latter doubles as a nuclear daisy-cutter to clear the landing zone.
* ''Literature/ChakonaSpace'': Capt. Foster runs an interstellar freighter. His CoolStarship has several shuttles for various tasks. One of them is described as a retired military surplus assault shuttle.
* ''Literature/TheRadiantDawn'' and the Wutner drop pods, though they are sort of a cross between this trope and [[DropPod Drop Pods]]. The ships themselves are only designed to go one way, though the orbital craft has a tractor beam that can lift them back off the planet's surface.

* The Peacekeeper Marauder from ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' is a heavy fighter/dropship hybrid operated by elite commandos. It has a large hatch on the bottom from which troops can egress. They seem to be used most often in boarding operations and as scouts.
** The Scarran Stryker and the Luxan Penetrator serve a similiar role.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''{{TabletopGame/Battletech}}'' Dropship-category spacecraft are the primary means of conveyance from the [[FasterThanLightTravel Jumpships]]. They are routinely the size of large warehouses, necessary to carry the HumongousMecha that are the stars of the franchise. They tend to be the home base for the units they carry; the jumpships that carry them from system-to-system aren't large enough to physically hold the dropships, they have to dock to the outside (Since they're spaceworthy craft by themselves, there's also no real ''reason'' to bring them inside).
** The lightest 'Mech-carrying dropship, the Leopard, weighs in at 19 times the heaviest 'Mech, has enough weapons to match any assault lance it might encounter, and more armor tonnage than a light 'Mech weighs in total. Lighter designs like the Claymore and Avenger are actually ''more dangerous'' because they're the ones designed for a straight combat role. Heavier ones like the Overlord and Fortress are considered basically immoveable objects; the force required to take them out is simply too large to be worthwhile when there's other fighting to be done.
*** The main reason for the size of [=BattleTech=] Dropships is the fact that rather than travelling from orbit to the surface of a planet, they travel through an entire ''solar system''; Battletech FTL limits the closest a [=JumpShip=] can get to a star's gravity well to a distance that, using the Sol system as an example, stretches out to around the orbit of Jupiter. On top of that, the faster-than-light drive on the average [=JumpShip=] takes up so much of its volume that their ''sublight'' maneuvering drives don't allow them to go anywhere in a hurry, so they tend to just hang out at the jump points where they arrived and recharge their K-F cores while the [=DropShips=] play taxi.
* ''TabletopGame/DropzoneCommander'' appears to have been built entirely around the idea that "dropships are cool." Every faction has them,[[note]] Okay, Shaltari Gates technically don't ''carry'' their cargo, being mobile teleporters, but they fulfil the same function.[[/note]] in sizes ranging from little infantry-carrying gunships to giant monstrosities that can hold and deploy nine tanks at once. And, well, the name is a bit of a clue.
* ''TabletopGame/TranshumanSpace'' doesn't feature many military dropships -- they'd probably be too vulnerable to the setting's efficient automated point defences, for a start, and anyway nobody is looking to conduct many big space-to-ground invasions. However, one supplement for the line, ''[[http://www.sjgames.com/transhuman/wingsoftherisingsun/ Wings of the Rising Sun,]]'' features an unusual civilian use of the trope, as it describes a {{Rescue}} organization whose operatives can get anywhere on Earth within minutes -- because they're based on orbiting space stations and use very impressive dropships.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' has a lot of these, such as the Imperial Guard Valkyrie, the Space Marine Thunderhawk, the Eldar Vampire, or the Tau Orca.
** Some factions prefer different methods -- the Grey Knights favour teleportation, for example, and the Dark Eldar wander through mystical tunnels in the space-time continuum onto the battlefield.
** Orks rarely bother with individual Drop Ships, preferring to bring their space transports to the planet. They use hollowed-out asteroids with huge engines for space travel, and sending thses Roks swreaming through the atmosphere reults in on of two things: thousands of angry and armed orks emerging from the wreckage and crater ready to krump some 'eadz, or a titanic explosion visible from space as the rok detonates, which is slightly less desirable than the first result, but not by much.
* In ''TabletopGame/RocketAge'' the Japanese have been deploying Flying Lotus Drop Ships in support of various tribes in the jungles of Venus, giving them a vicious edge.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/StarCraft'':
** Dropships act as the standard Terran transport in [[VideoGame/StarCraftI the first game]]. The unit's voice is even a ShoutOut to Corporal Ferro from ''Film/{{Aliens}}''. The Protoss have Shuttles, and while the Zerg Overlords are initially [[ConstructAdditionalPylons control suppliers]], you can later upgrade them to OrganicTechnology shuttles.
** ''VideoGame/{{StarCraft II}}'' has Terrans using an upgraded Dropship, the Medivac, which doubles as a Medic, hence the name. The Protoss abandon the Shuttles for Warp Prisms, which convert the 'cargo' between physical and energy states for transport. Warp Prisms can also be used as makeshift Pylons, which coupled with Warp Gates allows the Protoss to transfer over far more soldiers than the Warp Prism itself can carry. Meanwhile, the Zerg Overlords remain more or less the same, but are now able to excrete creep onto the ground.
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** The most ubiquitous ones seen in the franchise are the UNSC's Pelicans and their Covenant counterparts the Spirit and the Phantom.
** The Falcon helicopter from ''VideoGame/HaloReach'' is often used as a transport.
** The Pelican's lack of weapons in ''VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved'' was parodied in ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'': "If we can put a tank on a ship, why don't we put guns on the ship?" Which, by the way, ''Literature/HaloTheFlood'' answered with the Pelicans having run out of ammunition for their weapons.
** Some of the lesser known dropships: the Albatross (which can carry a lot more than the Pelican), [[VideoGame/HaloWars the Pod]] (which is large enough to carry half a UNSC base), the stealth-capable Owl, the cargo-carrying Darter, and the FTL-capable Condor.
** On the Covenant's side of the war, there are two variants: the Type-25 'Spirit' Troop Carrier, and the Type-52 'Phantom' Troop Carrier. The former being the tuning fork ship and the latter being the more rounded one; The Spirit's smaller size makes it more capable of sending small strike team to an area fast but has little in the way of fire power while the Phantom is pretty much the Covenant's answer to the UNSC's Pelican.
* Orca Dropships were used in ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianSun Tiberian Sun]]'', the second ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianSeries'' game. Bonus points for having Michael Biehn star in the game as one of the main characters.
** In ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberiumWars Tiberium Wars]]'', the job is, in turn, filled in by the V-35 Ox transport. In an ironic turn of events, the Nod equivalent transport ship is the actual dropship, and is called by that term as well.
* In the original ''{{Transformers}}'' game for the [=PS2=] (not [[TheProblemWithLicensedGames The Game Of The Movie]]), Decepticlones travel using dropships. They don't have weapons (but carry troops who ''do'') and are at first near-indestructible- at least til you upgrade your arsenal...
** Heck, if you time it right and jump off a high enough ramp/have the gliding Minicon, you can actually hitch a ride [[OutsideRide on one!]] (or if you're especially good/lucky, '''inside''' one, though [[ViolenceIsTheOnlyOption the only way OUT again is to blow it up]])
* ''Franchise/MassEffect:''
** Geth Dropships often show up in ''VideoGame/MassEffect1''. Depending on the mission, they either fly away after you defeat all the geth they dropped, or somehow have an infinite supply of geth and must be destroyed with a turret.
** You also have the Mako, which is awesome enough that it gets on the ground by being dropped from high altitudes without taking damage.
** ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' and ''[[VideoGame/MassEffect3 3]]'' replace the [[ScrappyMechanic Mako]] with the UT-47 shuttle when Shepard needs to be deployed planetside. Various mercenary factions, Cerberus, the Systems Alliance, and the Asari and Salarian militaries use the A-61 Mantis gunship for similar purposes when it isn't simply being deployed as a [[GunshipRescue gunship]].
** Occasionally you also use the [[HoverTank M-44 Hammerhead]], although it's very rare for it to be used in actual combat drops because it is [[GlassCannon basically a tissue box with a heavy seeker missile launcher bolted on top]].
* The COG uses Assault Derricks in ''VideoGame/GearsOfWar'' to ferry troops and Grindlifts (a drill DropPod) from the surface of the planet to the Hollow, a series of large underground caverns that serve as the home of the Locust.
* ''VideoGame/MachinesWiredForWar'': The Machines don't mess around with drop ships, they use giant metal drop pods and build bases from them.
* In ''Videogame/PlanetSide 1'', there are three; one that carries large vehicles and [[HumongousMecha BFR's]] (Lodestar) and functions as a [[BaseOnWheels mobile repair and rearm point]], another for carrying passengers and small vehicles (Galaxy) with a variant that carries automatic grenade launchers and [[GatlingGOod chainguns]], and one that carries 4 passengers and [[InvisibilityCloak cloaks]] (Phantasm). ''Planetside 2'' drops the Lodestar (its functionality is now on the AwesomePersonnelCarrier) and Phantasm, but allows players to [[CharacterCustomization customize their Galaxy for combat roles]], and adds the Valkryie, a slow but very agile helicopter-esque aircraft which can carry 4 passengers (plus the gunner and pilot) into combat, while the passengers can shoot out of the sides with their guns or [[MagicTool repair the vehicle mid-flight]].
* ''VideoGame/Battlefield2142'' has drop ships for both factions that also have drop pods as well. A full drop ship with competent gunners can usually be effective enough to be a lethal threat to gunships, infantry and light vehicles.
** Another use for the dropships, which was considered a GameBreaker by many, was to pilot the ship directly into heavily armed vehicles a la kamikaze style. The kill was usually rewarded to the pilot, but sometimes the kamikazed would get the kill, or both parties would get a kill. Another way to do it was to eject out of the drop ship before the ship hit the vehicle, which allowed the pilot to survive, but would cost him the kill. This was done so much, that in one patch, the ability to maneuver the drop pods from a drop ship was taken out. It was reinstated in the following patch though, although the controllablility wasn't as strong as it used to be.
* The craft to get onto Forbidden Island in ''VideoGame/MegaManLegends 2'' was called a drop ship.
* ''VideoGame/GroundControl''[='s=] Crayven Corporation dropships where rather square while the Order of the New Dawn were more triangular, and both seemed to have 'belly doors' that could drop off troops very quickly. By ''Ground Control 2'' they were more similar to existing aircraft and could be upgraded with more powerful weaponry and extra armor.
* In ''VideoGame/MasterOfOrion II'' the invasion with a ground combat is the only way to capture an enemy colony (except for a Telepathic race) and special single-use "Transport Ships" are the only way to deliver troops for the invasion.
* The Sky Crane dropships and their un-named ARM counterpart in ''VideoGame/{{Section 8}}''. It fulfills a similar role to the dropships in the ''WesternAnimation/RoughnecksStarshipTroopersChronicles''; soldiers are shot out of ports in the side for the classic ItsRainingMen assault, and after the battle lands to extract the infantry. It also ferries in heavy armors and heavy tanks requisitioned by the player.
* ''Dropship: United Peace Force'', a launch title for the UsefulNotes/PlayStation2.
* ''VideoGame/QuakeIV'' features dropships similar to those in ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' and ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'', all though they tend to 'fall' rather than drop on several occasions, the game opens with the players drop ship hitting so hard it knocks them unconscious.
* ''VideoGame/{{Titanfall}}'' begins most games with players from both sides dropping onto the battlefield from Drop Ships that jumped to the battlefield. The Epilogue of each game entails members of the losing team racing to a Drop Ship to escape the battlements while the winning team try to either [[KillEmAll kill everyone on the losing team]] or [[SinkTheLifeboats shoot down the Drop Ship]].
* The Combine use the bio-mechanical variety in ''VideoGame/HalfLife2''. They generally carry pods full of troops, but are also capable of carrying non-standard loads, such as Gordon Freeman's jeep. Considering their biological components, they probably aren't space-worthy, but as all of the events of the game take place within the atmosphere, this isn't a big issue. They're even referred to as drop ships in-game by the Rebels.
* ''VideoGame/PerfectDark'' has two aircraft of this type, one referred to as a "jumpship" and used for urban insertion and extraction, and the other, which is actually called a dropship, used for VIP transport and agent insertion outside of urban areas. Neither goes into space, though.
* The [=ISDF=] in ''[[Videogame/BattleZone1998 BattleZone II]]'' uses large vectored-thrust dropships when carrying equipment from its enormous command ship down to the surface of planets.
* The various ''Videogame/MechWarrior'' games, set in the same universe as ''TableTopGame/BattleTech'', feature dropships. In the singleplayer games, they are often StationaryBoss battles due to their ridiculous amounts of firepower and armor. In ''[=MechWarrior=] Living Legends'', landed dropships are sometimes used as spawn points, with mech bays and aircraft hangars on the inside ready to build mechs. Like in the singleplayer games, the dropships are typically armed with an array of vulnerable turrets - however, the dropships themselves are invulnerable.
* ''VideoGame/XCOMEnemyUnknown'' has the Skyranger, a boxy transport with VTOL capability and swing-wings that let it get into small places. It's also apparently capable of suborbital travel given its ability to get to the other side of the planet in about an hour. Interestingly, it doesn't bring troops down from space, but instead ferries them to and from your ElaborateUndergroundBase.
* ''VideoGame/DustFiveOneFour'' has two forms. The MCC is one of them, and the Skirmish game mode involves destroying the enemy's while defending yours. The other is the, erm, Dropship, a small transport that can carry six people and two gunners.
* In ''VideoGame/CortexCommand'' two are available, and they are fairly important in terms of gameplay. Crates are cheap but total-loss delivery vehicles, and rockets are so very hard to fly that they might as well qualify as total-loss too (as the AI so efficiently demonstrates). The dropships are the only delivery vehicles that can be reasonably expected to make it back to orbit and give the player their purchase price back. They're also easier to use as disposable impact weapons than rockets.
* ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'' only sees Drop Ships in the Imperial Guard stronghold level of Soulstorm, and even then they just drop troops on prescripted locations (one inside your base). Given the GameBreaker nature of flyers in DoW, letting them carry troops would have been serious overkill.
* The Salmonid Mothership in ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon 2}}'' releases very small pods that land and start dispensing enemies. Overlaps with ClownCarBase in that an implausibly large number of enemies come out of them, some of them larger than the pods themselves.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The closest real-life equivalents to this trope are military gliders. Granted, these works only in atmospheric conditions, but it was an accurate and pretty reliable way to get airborne soldiers and heavy equipment, such as artillery and vehicles, where they were needed. Unlike normal gliders, they did not truly soar, and had to be cut loose from their carrier planes a short distance from their destination. They were only used during World War II, after which they were replaced by helicopters.
* Almost-RealLife Example: The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SUSTAIN_(military) Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion]] concept of the U.S. Marine Corps is a serious proposal (though one not likely to become reality any-time soon) to deploy Marines to anywhere on Earth via a small sub-orbital SpacePlane. The flight profile would be similar to that of a military glider, but with a portion of the time spent in space under rocket power.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* The Kovolis Systems Security from ''Roleplay/NexusGate'' has these in its fleet.
* In ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'', the military forces of major nations have small groups of elite Rapid Response dropships, as well as orbital platforms for forces which can be inserted via a DropPod system, and can even mix in Empowered forces. However, due to the massive cost of these procedures, even the US can only field about a battalion strength of dropship forces. On the other hand, major supervillains such as Dr. Diabolik and Gizmatic also have similar forces, as do paramilitary groups such as the MCO, ARCHAMMER, and the Knights of Purity, and even mercenary units such as the Paramount Guard and the Syndicate's Tiger Guard. Some of these are notably superior to those run by the governments, and in some cases they can staff them with SuperSoldier and Empowered elites. This is partially justified on the basis that since this is all these groups do, they can allocate a larger portion of the budgets to it, but the costs of maintaining and fielding such forces has been discussed.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* Averted for RuleOfFunny in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}''.
-->'''Captain Zapp Brannigan:''' As you know, the key to victory is the element of surprise. ''[presses BigRedButton]'' Surprise!
-->''[bay doors open under soldiers, dumping them onto the planet below.]''