''Wing Commander Academy'' was an American animated series released in [[TheNineties 1996]] as part of the USANetwork's SaturdayMorningCartoon lineup. Based on the ''VideoGame/WingCommander'' series of video games, it featured several of the games' characters, [[HeyItsThatVoice most of them played by the actor who portrayed them]] in the later games, and filling in backstory on The Kilrathi and Admiral Tolwyn. The plot centers around a group of [[PluckyMiddie cadets]] going on their final cruise before graduating from the MilitaryAcademy.

Character info can be found on the [[Characters/WingCommander general Wing Commander universe sheet]].

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!!Tropes employed by the cartoon:
* AlwaysChaoticEvil: Averted, the Kilrathi are actually portrayed as [[CombatPragmatist practical and pragmatic]], and are stated to never take actions without sound motivation, though said motivation may not always be readily apparent, and occasionally rely on alien reasoning.
* TheAnimeOfTheGame
* ArtifactTitle: Strictly speaking, the title only accurately describes the show for ''one episode''. While they are cadets through the entire course of the show, the Academy itself only appears in the pilot episode before they are transferred to the ''Tiger's Claw''.
* AsskickingEqualsAuthority: The Kilrathi.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: Commodore Tolwyn. See BackInTheSaddle below.
* BackInTheSaddle:
** In one episode, the ''[[TheBattlestar Tiger's Claw]]'' is attacked while most of her fighter wing is away. Because his remaining pilots are badly outnumbered, Commodore Tolwyn decides to climb into a fighter to [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking personally take part in the fighting]].
** Also {{inverted}} in the episode "The Chain of Command", where Tolwyn has Maverick stay aboard the ''Claw'' and supervise from the bridge while the rest of the fighter wing goes to fight the Kilrathi, in order to teach the cadet what it [[AnAesop means to be in command]], knowing that [[TheChainsOfCommanding others might die following your orders]].
* BadassBoast: Upon being informed during a briefing that they will be going up against a Kilrathi Dreadnought, which nobody in Confed has been able to defeat in combat yet, Maniac declares ''"If the Kilrathi can find a way to build it, we can find a way to blow it up!"''
* BelligerentSexualTension: Maniac and Archer seem to make quite a few abortive attempts to get each other to open up. Almost universally results in them bickering, or on one occasion, Maniac getting ''tossed across the room'' by a woman who must have been half his size.
* TheBrigadier: Commodore Tolwyn, also a FourStarBadass
* CallingTheOldManOut: In the final scene of the series, towards Tolwyn, who everyone has [[BrokenPedestal come to see as a]] BloodKnight with a vendetta against Prince Thrakhath. [[spoiler: Of course, they don't know that Tolwyn is himself dealing with a chain of command who refuse to give him reinforcements and who keep sending the ''Tiger's Claw'' into high-risk operations alone.]]
* TheChainsOfCommanding:
** Several episodes focus on the weight and responsibility of leading people in combat, and the certainty that some will die following your orders. This trope is also used to give Commodore Tolwyn some CharacterDevelopment to balance against what we see of him in the games. Most of the cadets see him as an all-powerful flag officer who makes things happen by ordering them to be so, when in reality he is just as restricted by the orders his superiors hand him as the cadets are by his orders. So when he requests reinforcements for a major operation and is told they can't be spared, the cadets simply see him as a [[TheAce glory hound]] willing to [[WeHaveReserves sacrifice their lives]] to achieve his goals. This leads to a MedalOfDishonor moment when Blair refuses a medal since he is outraged to learn he was used as bait on a suicide mission.
** In another episode Tolwyn explains this problem to Blair. He then tells Blair that his decision to ram the enemy flagship, which was blockading the jump point, was not a bluff. It was the only chance for escape and if the flagship had not moved then both ships would have been destroyed.
* CharacterDevelopment: Several characters, but especially Gwen "Archer" Bowman's arc where she starts hesitating in combat after having to shoot down another cadet. On the other side, Kilrathi captain Garahl nar Hhallas gradually grows disillusioned with his Prince's motives for prosecuting the war. Also, outside of [[Literature/WingCommander the books]], the series is the source of almost all of Admiral Tolwyn's character development.
* ChekhovsSkill: The payoff to a RunningGag where Maniac keeps wanting to try and attack the Kilrathi carrier by [[SuicidalOverConfidence flying into its hangar bay and gut it from the inside]]. [[spoiler: Turns out, Maniac really is that good. [[BigBad Prince Thrakhath's]] [[CoolStarship dreadnought]] is crippled when Maniac finally gets to try this.]]
* ContinuityNod: The Battle of Repleeta gets depicted in a flashback. Repleeta was occasionally referenced in the manuals as being a particularly drawn out and brutal battle over a planet nobody really wanted, both sides fighting simply to spite the other side and keep them from gaining it.
* CrossThrough: The USA Network's 1996 Saturday morning cartoon lineup had a storyline on November 16 about "The Warrior King" (voiced by Michael Dorn), a man chasing an "[[{{MacGuffin}} Orb of Power]]" through various dimensions. After an expository intro, he confronted M. Bison in ''WesternAnimation/StreetFighter'' ("The Warrior King", Season 2, Episode 9) and battled The Fiend in ''TheSavageDragon'' ("Endgame", Season 2, Episode 8), both of whom attempted to abuse the Orb's powers. From there the Orb landed in the hands of Shang Tsung in ''WesternAnimation/MortalKombatDefendersOfTheRealm'' ("Resurrection", Season 1, Episode 9; the Warrior King only makes a cameo as a shadow), after which Raiden tossed it to the universe of ''Wing Commander Academy'' ("Recreation", Season 1, Episode 9), where the Warrior King's quest ends and he [[RidingIntoTheSunset flies off into the stars]].
* DangerouslyGenreSavvy: Karnes.
* DeadpanSnarker: Dr. Kyle, of the medical ship ''Pleiku''. Commodore Tolwyn as well.
* DeadStarWalking: [[spoiler: Blizzard, Ragitika as well.]]
* DeathFromAbove:
** Several episodes featured air strikes on ground targets, but the last episode, notably, featured this trope being invoked with [[spoiler: Prince Thrakhath's ''own flagship'' being dropped on the temple which was concealing his troops, and presumably the fighters he had parked around it.]]
** Visually invoked in several episodes, where fighters attacking enemy ships are shown "diving" down at their target, even though there really isn't strictly any "down" in space.
* DownerEnding: Several episodes, and arguably the whole series. Even in victory, war really sucks.
* DramaticIrony: Due to its original conception as a tie-in of sorts to ''Wing Commander III'', the audience already knows the fates of several of the characters, and how their relationships will develop.
* DramaticSpaceDrifting: "The Last One Standing" focuses on a pilot who went renegade and his squad. The squad gets wiped out towards the end of the episode, leaving shattered wreckage floating in space, including a destroyed helmet.
* DrillTank: In a flashback scene involving Grunt's time as a Marine on Repleeta, the Kilrathi use one to dig up into human rear areas.
* EarlyBirdCameo: Several of the pilots who don't get introduced until later episodes have non-speaking cameos in the earliest episodes.
* EnemyMine: Subverted. Sometimes, the other guy just plain hates you and will stab you in the back after you help him out.
* EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether: {{Justified|Trope}}, as the show is about the characters still technically being ''in'' school.
* {{Expy}}: Garahl nar Hhallas, who's basically the same as the games' Rhalga "Hobbes" nar Hhallas prior to defecting.
* FakeStatic: In "The Lords of the Sky", Maniac uses faked radio interference to ignore an order from Blair for the flight wing to stay together on a reconnaisance mission.
* GenreBlind: The Dolosians.
* GenreSavvy: Grunt.
-->'''Grunt:''' If there's one thing I learned in the Marines, it's never to volunteer for anything!\\
'''Tolwyn:''' Spoken like a true veteran.\\
'''Grunt:''' Thank you, sir!
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: In the episode "Invisible Enemy", Maniac is on the outs with the rest of the crew because they think he abandoned his wingman in favor of racking up more kills. In the mess hall, he complains to Maverick that it "Seems like I'm about as popular around here as chipped beef on toast." This dish is more commonly known as ''shit on a shingle''.
* HeroicBSOD: Archer suffers from a recurring form of this every time she has to pull the trigger, after being forced to kill [[spoiler: Blizzard]]. Earns her a WhatTheHellHero (see below).
* HeroesWantRedheads: Blair towards [=McEaddens=]. And the redhead definitely wants him back.
* HighSchoolAU: Oddly enough, the original premise of the show was basically the characters of ''Wing Commander III'' transplanted into an Academy class together, with Tolwyn as their instructor. Most of the changes that occurred (Many of the younger characters from WCIII are replaced with Expies to better justify them actually being in school together, for starters) can be chalked up to this being a PragmaticAdaptation.
* HonorBeforeReason:
** The fact that the [[CombatPragmatist Kilrathi pilots]] in one episode launched a [[SuicidalOverconfidence suicidal attack]] against the ''Tiger's Claw'' for no readily apparent reason is a clue that something is wrong in the episode "The Most Delicate Instrument".
** Played straight in other episodes though, sometimes even resulting in disputes between characters on either side who differ on how Honor should best be pursued.
* ImprobablePilotingSkills: As it turns out, Maniac really ''is'' as good a pilot as he thinks he is, culminating in his AirstrikeImpossible against a Kilrathi Dreadnought's hangar bay in the series finale.
* IncomingHam: ''"Hey Maverick!"''
* InksuitActor: Commodore Tolwyn is a dead ringer for Creator/MalcolmMcDowell. ([=McDowell=] had previously played the character in the live-action cutscenes of the video games, so the resemblance was already established.)
* IronicNickname: Maverick, who is in fact notorious for being a stickler for the regs and knowing them inside and out.
* {{Irony}}: Pretty much the ''only'' time Archer doesn't hesitate to kill a Kilrathi pilot [[spoiler: was when she unknowingly killed [[DefectorFromDecadence Bokh Nar Ragitika]], who Blair was on the verge of turning to the Confederation. The only Kilrathi she faced that she ''shouldn't'' have killed.]]
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Maniac. Although he'll never admit to it.
* LargeHam: Maniac.
* LastSecondWordSwap: Archer in the first episode.
--> '''Archer''': [[CurseCutShort Ah go f-]] fly your ship.
* LetsYouAndHimFight: {{Justified|Trope}} and {{invoked}} by Commodore Tolwyn in he first episode. Maverick and Maniac are very competitive with each other, so they are chosen to lead opposing teams in a combat simulation. {{Subverted}} by TheMole, who sabotages the fighters, giving them full-powered weapons and reprogramming the flight computers not to register shield damage.
* LooseLips: The Confeds might not have figured out why the Kilrathi were on Oasis if a Kilrathi warrior hadn't slipped up and invoked IKnowYouKnowIKnow and decided to just dispense with the falsehoods altogether. Maniac knew they were up to ''something'', and figured he could get the Kilrathi to get mad and slip up by, well, being [[JerkAss Maniac]].
* LoveConfession: Blizzard to Archer. Because of the epic levels that he takes being TheStoic to, his low-key, understated stating of his affections for her is ''correctly'' interpreted by Archer as being a complete emotional breakdown on his part, leading her to realize that there is something wrong with him.
* MilitaryAcademy: The show being titled ''Wing Commander Academy'' [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin should be a big hint]]. Several different academies are also mentioned in the game manuals and novels.
* MilitaryMaverick: Maniac is infamous for this. Tolwyn's liberal interpretations of his orders and criticism of his superiors are what got him his [[ReassignedToAntarctica current assignment]]. Amusingly enough, [[IronicNickname Maverick]] is very much ''[[AvertedTrope not]]'' an example.
* NomDeGuerre: Maverick, Maniac, Payback, Archer, Jazzman, Viking, etc.
* NoMrBondIExpectYouToDine: In "The Last One Standing", Maniac and Blair are brought in to dine with [[spoiler:Daimon Karnes]], where he explains why he went renegade.
* OneHitKill: {{Discussed|Trope}} in the first episode. The Kilrathi warship can destroy a Scimitar fighter in one hit. {{Justified|Trope}} in that, well, it's a full-on warship and carries more powerful weapons than the smaller fighters can.
* PlotDrivenBreakdown: The computer running the flight simulator crashes before Maniac can complete his run on a carrier that massively outguns the Hellcat he's flying, so we never get to see him make a fool of himself ([[ChekhovsSkill or not]]).
* PragmaticAdaptation: The show's original premise was basically how [[EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether everyone in]] ''[[EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether Wing Commander III]]'' [[EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether went to school together]].
* RammingAlwaysWorks: Bizarrely, ramming always works when you use an ''EjectionSeat'' to ram the ship with. It just seems to completely throw the Kilrathi off their game. Probably because they [[WrongGenreSavvy assume]] that the humans have packed the ejection seat full of explosives or something that might actually ''harm'' their ship, and thus freak out and get themselves killed in some other fashion.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: The reason that the famed Commodore Tolwyn is babysitting a bunch of cadets on their middie cruise.
* RedOniBlueOni: Payback and Archer (Red and Blue), as well as Maniac and Maverick to a lesser degree.
* RewardedAsATraitorDeserves: The fate of TheMole in the {{premiere}} episode, "Red and Blue". In a subversion, the "reward" isn't because he was a traitor, but the reason for the betrayal not being "noble" by Kilrathi standards, as mentioned below.
* RunningGag: Maniac ''really'' wants to try that hangar-bay attack, but nobody will let him.
* SemperFi: Grunt, a former SpaceMarine who became a StarFighter pilot after a battlefield injury got him discharged.
* ShoutOut: A space pilot character played by MarkHamill, captured by primitives, spending some time hanging by his arms and legs from a pole, then convincing the primitives to join the fight against the bad guys? [[Film/ReturnOfTheJedi Hmm...]]?
* ShownTheirWork: You do have to hand it to the production team, some real effort was made to be true to the source material.
** The major characters were played by their original actors, when getting some unknown soundalikes would have been cheaper and even almost expected in WesternAnimation.
** Confed uniforms resemble those from the games
** Ship designs were close enough to the in-game ones that you could recognize Hellcats, Broadswords, Scimitars, and Dralthi fighters. Arrows, Longbows, Sabers, and numerous other ships used in minor roles, giving the idea of a military that used a wide variety of ships rather than the small handful the heroes appear to be checked out on. The Kilrathi similarly use a wide variety of fighters from the games, with the Dralthi (AKA the "[[InSeriesNickname Flying Pancakes]]" being only the most easily recognized.
** Cockpit instrument panels resemble the ones from the games closely enough that a regular player could assess the characters' tactical situation from the instruments
** The cadets flew Scimitar medium fighters. At first this would seem an odd choice. Shouldn't cadets get light fighters or even dedicated training craft to fly? But many who have played Wing Commander believe that the Scimitar was by far the worst fighter in the game, so most in-universe pilots would probably spurn them, making them the only fighter in plentiful supply for cadets to train in.
* StealthInSpace: A Kilrathi prototype stealth fighter wrecks havoc among the Confed in one episode. Surprisingly, it's played straight- the fighter itself is not invisible to the naked eye, although it ''is'' painted black (which is naturally harder to see against the background of space). Rather, it's invisible to Confed scanners, probably using similar stealth tactics as real-life stealth fighters (radar-absorbant paint, unusual geometry, etc.).
* ThereAreTwoKindsOfPeopleInTheWorld: Daimon Karnes, in "The Last One Standing", to Blair. The two kinds of people in the galaxy, according to him, are those who fly in order to get somewhere, and those who love to fly.
* TheShrink: A mix of all three Types, actually, but mostly a {{subverted}} Type 2. The cadets don't like him, and given his personality, they probably wouldn't like him even if he ''didn't'' have the ability to get them dropped from the pilot program due to a bad evaluation, but he ''does'' have considerable authority in regards to pulling them from combat duty, and has the ear of their commanding officer regarding matters of morale. In short, obviously he cares about the cadets and the ship's crew, but the rest of them don't particularly care for him. He also shows shades of being an [[OpenHeartDentistry Open Heart Dentist]], being knowledgeable enough in other fields to know how they might affect human behavior and psychology, such as how reports of fried electrical systems in a group of fighters leads him to conclude that the pilots had their heads screwed up by the same electrical storm that fried the electronics. Up till he came across that information, he just assumed that the pilots' behavior was just them being stressed out hormonal young officers. You know, [[HumansAreFlawed normal]].
* SpaceCadetAcademy: The Terran Confederation Academy of the title, although the series actually doesn't spend a lot of time actually at the Academy itself; just following the cadets.
* StandardFemaleGrabArea: Inverted. When an argument between Maniac and Blair is about to escalate to Maniac throwing a punch, [[TheChick Archer]] restrains ''Maniac'' this way. Before ''[[SheFu throwing him]]'' across the room. Worth noting, Maniac is pretty much the biggest human character on the show, appearing to be close to twice Archer's mass and considerably taller than her. After he lands, he snarkily comments that [[FoeYay she must be fun on a date.]]
* TheyCalledMeMad: TheMole states his reason for treason was he washed out of the academy after failing a psych evaluation for being "unstable". He rants and raves and really gives the impression his evaluators were on to something when he admits this.
* ThisIsReality: After one of Maniac's brags about what he would do in a combat situation, Blair replies "[[LeaningOnTheFourthWall Hey, this isn't a game you know!]]"
* ThrownOutTheAirlock: What happened to [[spoiler:TheMole, above.]]
* TitleDrop: Maniac to Blair, "Oh come on, you know you wanna be Wing Commander"
* TragicHero: Tolwyn. Not so much in the series itself though. The ExpandedUniverse in general tends to [[ExpansionPackPast build Tolwyn's backstory]] so that he [[CharacterDevelopment comes off]] as more of a TragicHero in the later games, rather than an AntiHero. [[spoiler: Or, as of the fourth game, a FallenHero.]]
* TrueCompanions: Blair and Maniac really don't like each other that much, but they make a hell of a team when the going really gets tough.
* UniversalDriversLicense: Played straight, but limited. The cadets mostly only ever fly Scimitars or Broadswords, though many other fighters and bombers are shown. They do occasionally fly other ships, but it seems that the Confed ships all have standardized controls. The few times they ever fly a captured Kilrathi fighter, it's specifically stated that only a handful of the pilots have any experience with them, and a Kilrathi pilot who manages to get into a Scimitar isn't able to do much against a Confed pilot except be a gunnery target.
* VeteranInstructor: Commodore Tolwyn
* WarIsHell: As much as a mid-'90s cartoon could portray, anyway. The show is not at all shy about the death and occasional moral ambiguity of war, on both sides.
* WeHaveReserves: {{Subverted}}: The cadets gradually begin to think that Tolwyn looks at them this way. While he tries to look after the cadets, he ''is'' a commander in time of war and recognizes that some of them will die in combat.
* WhatTheHellHero: Several, aimed at several different characters throughout the series.
** Archer gets one from Maniac and Payback because she always hesitates before pulling the trigger, out of fear that she will [[HeroicBSOD unnecessarily take an innocent life]] (WhatMeasureIsAMook hits her ''hard'' after being forced to kill a comrade who had gone insane, humanizing ''all'' of her potential enemies in her eyes). They rightly point out that in a dogfight, if she hesitates, even for a second or two, she or one of her wingmen could be killed by an enemy who ''[[CombatPragmatist will not]]'' hesitate.
** Payback meanwhile gets one from Blair because of her excessive BloodKnight tendencies, wanting nothing more than to kill as many Kilrathi as possible, at one point violating direct orders and endangering herself and Blair on a recon mission.
** Blair gets the occasional low-grade one from his fellow cadets who suspect that he is benefiting overly from favoritism by Commodore Tolwyn, as well as one from a Kilrathi defector after [[spoiler: he believes Blair reneged on their deal to work together against Thrakhath, although it was Tolwyn who made that call, not Blair.]]
** [[CallingTheOldManOut Tolwyn] finally gets one from Blair]] because he believes Tolwyn willingly lied to Blair about the planned Marine assault and sacrificed the Cadets' lives just to pursue his vendetta against Prince Thrakhath. [[spoiler: He doesn't know that Tolwyn had requested reinforcements for the operation, but was ordered to go it alone by ''his'' higher ups.]] Similarly, Archer gives Tolwyn one or two in private. Commodore Tolwyn seems remarkably inclined towards taking these lectures from his cadets in stride.
* WrenchWench: Maya [=McEaddens=], the chief mechanic aboard the ''Tiger's Claw'', is drawn as a fairly attractive woman.
* WhatMeasureIsAMook and WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: Viking and Archer both become extremely uncomfortable with taking a life in combat. Viking drops out of the Academy and leaves the military after TheMole's sabotage nearly causes her to take the life of a classmate. Archer finds herself hesitating in combat after circumstances force her to ''intentionally'' [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone take the life of a classmate]] to save the ''Tiger's Claw''.
* {{Wingman}}: A given, since it is a show about fighter pilots. Maniac and Maverick have an ongoing argument over who gets to be whose wingman.
** In one episode, nobody is willing to fly with Archer because of her hesitation to kill the enemy. When the ''Claw'' is attacked with very few pilots aboard to defend her, [[BackInTheSaddle Commodore Tolwyn]] declares that he is her wingman. [[note]]Which makes sense, actually, since she has more recent experience flying, while he has been [[DeskJockey stuck behind a desk]] for an indeterminate amount of time.[[/note]]
** In the episode "The Invisible Enemy", Maniac's wingman is taken out by a prototype Kilrathi [[StealthInSpace stealth fighter]]. Everybody accuses him of abandoning his wingman in combat, in part for his well-earned reputation as a GloryHound. Maverick ends up teaming up with him to hunt the stealth fighter later on when he is similarly disgraced.
* WronskiFeint: In "The Lords of the Sky", Grunt uses the bottom of a canyon to scrape off some Kilrathi fighters chasing him, by diving down at it and then pulling out at the last moment.
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