''"In the far future, the [human group] fights a pitched battle against the mighty [alien name] Empire, but deep in the mysterious [region of space], among the ruins of the past, a darker threat looms."''

Does the above sentence sound familiar? It should. It's probably the single most popular SpaceOpera premise around. In fact, you could even call it the Standard Sci-Fi Setting. Typical features of the Standard setting include:

* [[CasualInterstellarTravel Easy faster than light travel]]. This comes in several flavors:
** a PortalNetwork of "jump gates," "wormholes," or so forth, or
** a web of HyperspaceLanes spanning the galaxy, or
** "warp drive," "jump drive," or some other kind of FasterThanLightTravel through SubspaceOrHyperspace.
* SpaceIsAnOcean and the StandardSciFiFleet is sailing it.
* Thanks to the above tropes, trade between {{One Product Planet}}s are common.
* Mystical/Metaphysical elements, generally including PsychicPowers, LifeEnergy, or something else similar to FunctionalMagic (usually associated with either [[EvolutionaryLevels Highly Evolved]] HumanAliens or SufficientlyAdvancedAliens).
* Very little, if any, of TheSingularity, except possibly as a [[JustifiedTrope justification]] for SufficientlyAdvancedAliens. Humans themselves will almost never be post-Singularity. TranshumanAliens and {{Ridiculously Human Robot}}s will be subject to FantasticRacism, possibly because there is NoTranshumanismAllowed.

* HumansByAnyOtherName, usually "[[PlanetTerra Terrans]]".
* NeglectfulPrecursors.
* An ancient and hidebound [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy proud warrior race]] who may double as ScaryDogmaticAliens. Their ships will typically be purple, green, or gold. If anyone has an EnemyCivilWar ready to break out, it will be these guys. May experience an EnemyMine situation with the HumansByAnyOtherName if a common threat appears.
* A genocidal alien race that's either TheVirus, PlanetLooters from "beyond known space" or a full-on HordeOfAlienLocusts. Rogue robots out to kill all organic life are another common variant. These guys are usually what wiped out the NeglectfulPrecursors. Their ships will usually be sleek and angular when they aren't [[LivingShip organic blobs]]. Either way, their ships tend to be red, purple, black, or other [[ColorCodedForYourConvenience "evil"]] colors. May provoke the other races into [[EnemyMine uniting against them]].
* A [[ProudScholarRaceGuy wise/spiritual race]] decked out in CrystalSpiresAndTogas. These are often HumanAliens and/or SpaceElves, possibly the NeglectfulPrecursors, if they're already extinct. Their ships will be sleek, but more rounded, and usually colored white, silver, or blue (gold or copper/bronze is rare, but acceptable). If there's a metaphysical aspect, these guys will be brimming with it more than any others. Bonus points if they have [[ShadowArchetype a rival sect called the "Dark" something]].
* [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe Space Babes, usually blue or green-skinned]].
* TheGreys or LittleGreenMen, the two most common type of aliens used due to them being from alleged-alien sightings. Their somewhat less common cousins, TheReptilians, pop up from time to time. The former tend to be the ProudScholarRace, while the latter tend to be the ProudWarriorRace.
* As many as a dozen other races of little to no consequence beyond certain characters or as background elements. May include Robots, aforementioned rebel/heretical sects, Alien Slavers, an EldritchAbomination, non-locust Zombies, Robot Zombies, [[NinjaPirateZombieRobot Robot Eldritch Abomination that command zombies]], and on down the line.

* TheFederation, TheEmpire, or other space faring humans that fly [[ISOStandardHumanSpaceship big gray battleships and little gray fighters]], and comprise the bulk of the StandardSciFiArmy. They have a good chance of being [[HumansAreSpecial descended directly]] from the NeglectfulPrecursors.
** A [[LaResistance "rebel" faction]] fighting against one of these groups is a frequent option.
* {{Space Marine}}s if the film was made after ''Film/{{Aliens}}'' or the book written after ''Literature/StarshipTroopers''; guys with [[RaygunGothic ray guns]] and [[SpaceClothes tight outfits]] if before or homaging before.
* Oh, and SpacePirates. Space pirates are ''inevitable'' in such a setting.
* In some more recent works, one or more of the above factions might have "[[MegaCorp Incorporated]]" in their name somewhere, but they'll still be the same for story purposes.

* The StandardSciFiHistory as BackStory.
* An epic SpaceBattle where the future hangs in the balance as a result of it, or leading up to it.

A typical plot involves the humans fighting the {{Proud Warrior Race Guy}}s until one or the other stumbles upon the ruins of the Neglectful Precursor civilization and unleashes the [[SealedEvilInACan evil third race]]. Then a bunch of people die, there are lots of cool [[StuffBlowingUp explosions]], and the first two races [[EnemyOfMyEnemy team up]] to take out the genocidal aliens. Usually they have to track down some LostSuperweapon and use it to destroy the alien queen/mothership/homeworld, thereby saving the galaxy... for now.

Not surprisingly, this setting tends to fall toward the "soft" end of the MohsScaleOfSciFiHardness. Examples come mostly from TV, Movies, and especially video games, where scientific accuracy often [[RuleOfCool takes a back seat to awesome visuals and an engaging storyline]]. Compare SciFiKitchenSink, which takes a Standard Sci-Fi Setting, then crams as many other SpeculativeFictionTropes into it as it can.



* ''ComicBook/{{Legion of Super-Heroes}}'' has a 1000-years-from-now setting that was so close to the Standard Sci-Fi Setting (at least until the threeboot) that you'd think it's clearly based on ''Franchise/StarTrek'' had it not actually ''preceded'' Trek by a good 8 years. FTL? Original has warp drive, reboot adds Stargates. Threeboot isn't so stock, as transmatter gates have rendered spacecraft obsolete. The United Planets is TheFederation (it was at least once erroneously called "the Federation of Planets"). Mysticism? Check. Not just psionics, but explicit magic, since it takes place in the FantasyKitchenSink Franchise/DCUniverse. Proud warrior race? The Khunds, sometimes specifically based on Klingons. Alien hordes? Check. Space pirates? Check.
* Creator/DCComics' ''ComicBook/StarRaiders'' graphic novel features one of this. Easy FasterThanLightTravel, PsychicPowers, ScaryDogmaticAliens, TheEmpire, LaResistance, and lots of Epic Space Battles.

* The ''Franchise/StarWars'' ExpandedUniverse is more or less the TropeCodifier in modern fiction. The films have an extremely light version of this, checking off the technology section, but mostly missing out on the population section (aliens are used for flavor but have little relevance), and being very light on factions (space pirates are shown to exist, but only matter in what side they take with the main two factions). The Expanded Universe fills out the rest, having stories where pretty much everything gets its DayInTheLimelight, elaborating on a ProudWarriorRace through the Mandalorians, the Yuuzhan Vong being ScaryDogmaticAliens from "beyond known space", and also giving much more relevance to side factions (including some corporations).
* Equally important is ''Film/{{Aliens}}''. While the movie lacks other alien civilizations and ''easy'' faster than light speed, it single handedly defined human culture, technology, military, and visual style for Standard Sci Fi Settings for decades to come. ''Series/BabylonFive'', ''VideoGame/StarCraft'', ''VideoGame/FreeSpace'', ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'', and ''Franchise/MassEffect'' are more or less directly based on this movie.

* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' may have picked this trope up from the older pulp science fiction like the ''Literature/{{Lensman}}'' series.
* ''Literature/TheSagaOfSevenSuns'' uses this, but it sometimes borders on ClicheStorm.
* The ''Literature/{{Uplift}}'' Universe of Creator/DavidBrin.
* Andrey Livadny's ''Literature/TheHistoryOfTheGalaxy'' series fits many parts of the trope. There's the [[TheFederation Confederacy of Suns]], the late [[TheEmpire Earth Alliance]], animal-like [[HordeOfAlienLocusts Forerunners]], [[CasualInterstellarTravel easy FTL travel]], SpaceMarines (although less of the ''Literature/StarshipTroopers'' variety and more of the piloting HumongousMecha kind), SpacePirates, and several NeglectfulPrecursors (many of whom are still around). There's a notable absence of {{Proud Warrior Race Guy}}s and CrystalSpiresAndTogas. Rogue robots are the main theme of several novels (one novel deals with a completely automated gigantic alien mothership attacking a small human colony). There is only one race of HumanAliens, and they're blue.
* ''Literature/PandorasStar'' does it brilliantly.
* ''Literature/TourOfTheMerrimack'' fits this, with the US as TheFederation, Palatine as the ProudWarriorRace at war with them, and the Hive as the HordeOfAlienLocusts that forces the two into an EnemyMine.
* The ''Literature/HumanxCommonwealth'' universe, with the titular Commonwealth as TheFederation, the [=AAnn=] as TheEmpire with elements of ProudWarriorRace, scads of {{Precursors}}, including the Xunca as the NeglectfulPrecursors, along with their LostTechnology, and the galaxy-devouring [[UltimateEvil Great Evil]] as the BiggerBad.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' is one of the main sources of this setting and has used the basic plot for both ''[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration The Next Generation]]'' with The Borg as TheVirus and ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' where they fought against the Dominion, not to mention countless one-off episodes that have used this plot to preach AnAesop of cooperation.
* ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'' had The Commonwealth, the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Nietzscheans]], the [[PlanetLooters Magog]], and various {{Precursors}}. It was following the standard plot pretty well [[JumpTheShark until]] the mysticism took over and it [[MindScrew got weird.]]
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' - originally a planet-of-the-week adventure centered around the titular device, with not that much overall continuity - mutated into this slowly, picking elements over time (especially starting with season 6), although it took the addition of ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' to complete the transition. The Ancients are the NeglectfulPrecursors, the Wraith and Replicators are the genocidal planet looters or PlanetEater (and the former wiped out the Ancients), the Tau'ri (us, modern Earthlings) are the spacefaring humans with grey ships, and the Jaffa are {{Proud Warrior Race Guy}}s serving the Goa'uld, a race of ScaryDogmaticAliens.
** The Franchise/StargateVerse differs from the Standard Sci-Fi Setting in a number of ways. First and most importantly, the characters are mostly modern Americans, and all the high-tech stuff is unknown to the general world simply because of a {{Masquerade}}. Morality is more [[BlackAndGrayMorality black and gray]] than in many Sci-Fi settings because the military often has to ShootTheDog. This is almost unique in that most of the protagonists are GenreSavvy. However, by the end of the series Earth basically is playing the role of TheFederation, thanks partially to the [[NeglectfulPrecursors Very Neglectful Precursors]] and partially to Earth's role in freeing the {{Proud Warrior Race Guy}}s from millenia of slavery.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** The series starts out with the Narn as the {{Proud Warrior Race Guy}}s, The Minbari as the CloserToEarth race, and the Shadows and Vorlons being both the NeglectfulPrecursors ''and'' the PlanetLooters at the same time, in varying amounts.
** It's worth noting that B5 sets the clichés during the first season and then proceeds to [[{{Deconstruction}} Deconstruct]] them in short order. The Narns mellow down considerably, the Minbari demonstrate serious flaws and hypocrisy, the Centauri who initially seemed to be ineffectual comical figures develop a darker edge, and so on. The less significant races keep to their clichés pretty tightly, though - the Drazi, for example, demonstrate the ProudWarriorRace traits quite a bit, when the Narn set them aside.
** The dark side of the Minbari is shown almost right away though they always have an attractive side as well as a dark side and the Narns don't really mellow although G'kar does(they simply change from [[TheEmpire the would-be Empire]] into TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized). The Minbari curiously are both a ProudWarriorRace and a ProudScholarRace. The Centauri are a big surprise; no one would expect them to be good enough at fighting to be brutal conquerors anymore. [=EarthGov=] is a surprise; we expect it to be TheFederation and instead it evolves into a PoliceState but with the twist that it is an isolationist and nativist PoliceState rather than TheEmpire and spends more time supressing internal rebellion then in aggression. Interestingly most of the characters including the command staff and all the main ambassadors, at one time or another end up as LaResistance to their own government in various ways and degrees. The Vorlons are a real surprise turning out to be almost as evil as the shadows except for Kosh. The Shadows follow the generic description above almost exactly being the SealedEvilInACan that forces leaders from other races to form TheAlliance.
* ''Franchise/{{Firefly}}'' is arguably a Standard Sci-Fi Setting adapted to fit closer to the realistic end of the SlidingScaleOfRealisticVersusFantastic. It clearly has many of the elements, as listed below, but lacks the more fantastic ones like aliens.
** There's no faster-than-light travel, but it's still easy to travel between dozens of inhabited planets and moons.
** SpaceIsAnOcean
** PsychicPowers: River.
** [[TheEmpire The Alliance]] and the [[LaResistance Independents]].
** TheVirus: Reavers, who come from the edge of known space and turn some of their victims into Reavers.
** SpacePirates: commonplace.
** Epic SpaceBattle where the future hangs in the balance: the series was seemingly slowly building up to this before it was cancelled. The movie does give us one.
** MegaCorp: Blue Sun.
** Plot: [[spoiler:a couple of defeated [[LaResistance Independents]] try to make a living away from [[TheEmpire the Alliance]] and stumble across a [[PsychicPowers girl that was experimented on by the Alliance]] who leads them to discover the ruins of an abandoned planet where nearly everybody died because of an [[TheEmpire Alliance]] experiment, but which also turns out to be the origin of the [[TheVirus Reavers]].]]
* Some of the future in ''Series/DoctorWho''. In particular the Dalek Wars where TheAlliance, including Earth, is battling the Dalek Empire (the ultimate ScaryDogmaticAliens), and the First Earth Empire period, with the Earth Empire as TheFederation and the Draconian Empire as TheEmpire. It's a bit of a different angle, since we see the setting from the perspective of a [[MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch not-so-neglectful]] member of the NeglectfulPrecursors.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' is something like this painted [[DarkerAndEdgier black and covered in skulls]], with a lot more races, a great deal of GothicPunk and a heaping helping of CosmicHorrorStory.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Rifts}}'''s ''Phase World'' setting. The Consortium of Civilized Worlds is TheFederation, the Transgalactic Empire is TheEmpire of ScaryDogmaticAliens, and the CrystalSpiresAndTogas are handled by the United Worlds of Warlock. Any examples of TheVirus or PlanetLooters are, for the time being at least, nascent and/or lying in wait.
* ''TabletopGame/FadingSuns'' uses a setting which falls nearly exactly into this trope. The extinct Ur have littered space with floating portals that allow for travel ans strange technologies, the Known Worlds are United under the new Phoenix Emperor, harboring numerous races amongst the humans. The Vau are the wise race living in their own world outside the empire. And constantly straining to get in the Empire are the Symbiots, a metamorphic plague/virus/infestation. Of course, space pirates, political conflicts and psychics manifestation abound.
* TabletopGame/{{Traveller}} has many fairly familiar tropes.
** {{Precursors}}=Ancients
** Humans "classic"=Solomani
** Venerable Race=Vilani
** Psionic Race=Zhodani
** ProudWarriorRace=Aslan
** SpacePirates=Vargr
** TheFederation=The Imperium

* The ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' games have less of a mystical bent than other examples (though the Precursors might count), but otherwise fits perfectly. The Covenant are the ScaryDogmaticAliens, The Flood are TheVirus, and The Forerunners are the NeglectfulPrecursors. The plot is largely as above.
* ''VideoGame/FreeSpace'': The Terrans play this trope completely straight, but while the Vasudans certainly fit the ProudWarriorRace stereotype, the [[OmnicidalManiac xenocidal]] Shivans are slightly anamolous. Whilst certainly ColorCodedForYourConvenience, from beyond known space, and responsible for wiping out the ([[TheEmpire downright maliciously imperialistic]]) [[NeglectfulPrecursors Ancients]], the Shivans are neither TheVirus, a HordeOfAlienLocusts, nor PlanetLooters. They don't bother with conquest, looting, or assimilation, all they care about is getting to the [[ApocalypseHow xenocide]]. FTL drives are both [[SubspaceOrHyperspace subspace drives]] and require a PortalNetwork of jump nodes to travel between systems. There is a total lack of any metaphysical aspect or aliens aside from the core 3 races. Aside from those minor details, it's a Standard Sci-Fi Setting.
* ''VideoGame/{{Starcraft}}'': The Terrans are the humans, the Protoss are the Warriors, the Zerg are the HordeOfAlienLocusts and the Xel'Naga are the Precursors. PsychicPowers are everywhere.
* ''VideoGame/GalacticCivilizations'' used this as part of its "nothing you haven't seen before" approach to game design.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'', with the network of jump gates, mass effect fields as the {{Applied Phlebotinum}} of choice, the Reapers and Protheans sharing the role of {{Precursors}}, the Krogan as [[ProudWarriorRaceguy proud warrior race]], the Salarians as [[ProudScholarRaceGuy proud scientist race]], the Geth and Reapers as the genocidal aliens (with a hint of {{Cosmic Horror}}), and the Asari doubling as both [[PsychicPowers psychic]] SpaceElves and an [[OneGenderRace entire species]] of [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe blue-skinned space babes]].
** It's the perspective of many that humanity is the come-lately {{Proud Warrior Race Guy}}s. They're trusted enough to be considered for the Council and Spectre membership, but not that much more than the Krogans.
* ''VideoGame/{{Freelancer}}'' is kinda like a conspiracy story with CasualInterstellarTravel, SpaceClothes to some degree (mostly the LSF uniforms), [[spoiler:and genocidal aliens who come to claim back their old turf]]. There are no Psychic Powers though, and the closest thing to The Federation are the four Houses that are kinda like our countries.
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'''s forerunner, ''VideoGame/{{Marathon}}'', decides to mix things up. You have the so non-proud warrior race/Alien Slaver Pfhor, then the indigenous Flick'ta replaced the planned [[TheVirus fungal zombies]], and an EldritchAbomination shows up in the final game. The S'pht and their long-lost cousins EnemyMine with the humans to take on the aforementioned threats. Other than the above alterations, the plot pretty much follows the above description to a T.
* ''VideoGame/SinsOfASolarEmpire''. The Trader Emergency Coalition (or TEC) is TheFederation, The Advent have PsychicPowers, Vasari are PlanetLooters, and there's SpacePirates and [[CasualInterstellarTravel easy faster-than-light travel]], by means of "phase jumps" along "phase lines" in "phase space." Most beyond that is uncertain, since the developers decided to drop a campaign in favor of better multiplayer.
* The ''VideoGame/StarControl'' universe does all of the above both straight and with a light-hearted tone.
* ''VideoGame/SwordOfTheStars'' has a wealth of this, although it plays with a lot of them, like different races using different faster than light drives (all the standard methods are used, but by different races) and a wealth of [[AllThereInTheManual background information]] on the different races and their inner workings that would put several sci-fi TV series to shame.
** ProudWarriorRace: Tarka, [[CombatPragmatist within reason]]
** BeePeople: Hivers, with a complex and intricate society of independently conscious but very family-oriented eusocial insectoids.
** Spiritual Race: Liir, so pacifistic their military is composed entirely of sociopaths who will annihilate your entire species if they deem you a threat.
** Precursors: Morrigi, who used to come to earth to trade trinkets with the cave-dwelling locals (and inspire myths of dragons) and are just now coming back from near extinction.
** PlanetLooters: Zuul, they'll also take slaves for labor or MindRape. Unless they're the faction in the second game who've joined with the Liir.
** EldritchAbomination: Suul'ka, [[spoiler: who are actually extremely old Liir who've grown so big their tentacles can bisect dreadnoughts]]
** PsychicPowers: In particular the Liir and Zuul, form a whole branch of the tech tree in "2".
* Lovingly parodied by ''VideoGame/GratuitousSpaceBattles''; the back story is pure fluff, used as a tongue-in-cheek excuse for the eponymous space battles. The main thing it lacks is the wise CrystalSpiresAndTogas civilization: the Tribe comes close, but they're {{Well Intentioned Extremist}}s, just as violent as everyone else.
* The ''VideoGame/WingCommander'' series is all about this. Initially it's the [[TheFederation Terran Confederation]] versus the [[TheEmpire Kilrathi Empire]], but in the fifth game the HordeOfAlienLocusts shows up.
* ''VideoGame/EscapeVelocity Nova'' is no exception to this trope. The main twist is that ''all'' the major factions are human (no [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe GSSBs]], Greys, or lizardfolk). There's also no Horde faction, and since the game takes place entirely in space, SpaceMarines are present but largely ignored. As for the precursors, little remains of their leavings and even less is understood; they're just gone.
* ''Videogame/SupremeCommander'': The [=UEF=] are the standard TheFederation, the Aeon are high tech ChurchMilitant, the Cybrans are cyborgs, and the Seraphim are the aliens. They all have HumongousMecha, and teleport via quantum physics.
* The ''Endless Universe'' of ''VideoGame/EndlessSpace'' and ''VideoGame/EndlessLegend''. The very core of all civilizations revolves around a substance called [[GreenRocks Dust]] which were created eons ago by the [[{{Precursors}} Endless]], and is used for almost anything. From building cities, creating new technologies, to a form of currency. It features multiple races of every alignment and ideology, including sentient robots, and SiliconBasedLife.

* ''Webcomic/{{Zap}}'' has a fairly similar setting. Aliens (almost all [[RubberForeheadAliens humanoid]]), psychics, AIs with very human-like personalities, an Empire (in all but name), a GovernmentConspiracy or two, SpacePirates, lost technology, {{Mad Scientist}}s and {{Bungling Inventor}}s, a [[HeroesWantRedheads hot redhead]], etc, etc.
* ''ComicBook/BuckGodotZapGunForHire'' takes place in a setting very similar to this, except Humans are relative newcomers to [[TheFederation the Gallimaufrey]] and only become notable due to [[spoiler:their possession of the Winslow]]. Oh, and their invention of the popsicle.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* Averted/subverted in ''WebOriginal/OrionsArm'', which tries to be a [[MohsScaleOfSciFiHardness hard]] sci-fi setting without sacrificing any of the appeal of the more traditional SpaceOpera. The result is a transhumanist setting ruled by godlike {{Artificial Intelligence}}s called Archai, which have experienced not one, but several [[TheSingularity Singularities]] and rule over their lesser subjects like benign deities. Advanced nanotechnology and relativistic spaceflight are commonplace, and while true FTL is impossible, [[PortalNetwork wormholes]] and ReactionlessDrive technology have been created by the Archai. CreatingLife is also not that hard, and baseline unmodified humans represent only a tiny part of the extremely diverse terragen (originating-from-Earth) civilization composed of genetically modified transhumans and sentient animals and sentient human-animal hybrids, cyborgs of all kinds, sentient robots, and several kinds of infomorphic lifeforms. And that's just the lower toposophic (read: number of Singularities crossed) levels, before you get to the various planet-sized [=AI=]s, DysonSphere-sized [=AI=]s, and the wormhole-based [=AI=]s that are the higher toposophic beings (the 'godlings' and full godlike Archai). And that's just the terragens, not counting the handful of ''[[StarfishAlien very alien]]'' aliens that the setting features. Basically, any technology or lifeform that isn't banned outright by physics is in there, somewhere.