"It's easy to spoof a bad movie. A good movie, now that's hard."SPACEBALLS: THE TV TROPES PAGESpaceballs
is a 1987 farcical comedy film
directed by Mel Brooks
which does for Science Fiction
— especially Star Wars
— what Blazing Saddles
did for The Western
Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) — the bold, bossy and beautiful
heir to the throne of planet Druidia — runs out on her wedding
before she is officially married to the painfully dull Prince Valium
(Jim J. Bullock
), the only eligible bachelor prince
in her region of space. Once she's in space, however, Vespa and her robot servant Dot Matrix
(performed by Lorene Yarnellnote
; voiced by Joan Rivers
) soon become the target of the Spaceballs, a group of evildoers — led by Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis
) and President Skroob (Mel Brooks) — who plan to ransom her off for access to Druidia's atmosphere (in order to drain it away and use it to replenish their homeworld's own thinning atmosphere
Vespa's only hope lies with two mercenaries-for-hire: Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and Barf the Mawg (John Candy
), who hope to use the substantial reward offered by Vespa's father for her safe return to pay off debts owed to crime boss Pizza the Hutt (Dom De Luise
). With a little help from wise-cracking mystic Master Yogurt (also Mel Brooks), Lone Starr fights to save Planet Druidia, defeat the Spaceballs, and (maybe) get the girl, too.
In reality, the plot's a big excuse
which gives Mel Brooks
a large enough canvas to poke fun at tons of sci-fi tropes.
An Animated Adaptation
based on this film — Spaceballs: The Animated Series
— was developed a couple of decades later; however, it languished in Development Hell
for so long, only thirteen episodes were made. G4 eventually gained the rights, but due to said Development Hell
, it ended up promoting the show before it was ready. The series didn't air until a year later, and by that point, production had been axed before the first episode ever aired.
- Abandon Ship: Played for Laughs. Everybody is shown running for the Escape Pods in the film's climax — the orchestra, a variety of circus freaks, and even a bear — but leaving behind Colonel Sandurz, President Skroob, and Dark Helmet. Many of these are part of the capper of a Brick Joke initiated when Colonel Sandurz orders the cancellation of a three-ring circus and the closing of the zoo aboard Spaceball One as part of the preparations for Ludicrous Speed.
- Adventurer Outfit
- Affectionate Parody: Star Wars, and sci-fi in general, of course.
- Agony of de Feet: While practicing with the Schwarz, Lone Star lifts a massive statue of Yogurt, only to lose concentration and drop it on Barf's foot.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Spaceballs. 'Cause what you got is what we need, and all we do is dirty deeds.
- Amusing Alien: Is there an alien in this film who isn't?
- Anachronism Stew: Played with. Like the franchise it mimics, Spaceballs appears to be set "in a galaxy far, far away", only with futuristic trappings. However, with the exception of Druidia, every locale in the film features contemporary details: a Winnebago trailer, Heavy Metal music, pizza, videotapes, The Merch (including a flamethrower!), Washington, D.C.-like government buildings, and references to such things as Disneyland and Wide World of Sports. Rule of Funny, of course.
- Antagonist Title: The Spaceballs are The Empire in the film.
- Arranged Marriage: Vespa and Valium.
- Artistic License – Physics: In reality, a vacuum cleaner would never work to steal an atmosphere on a normal planet (else Earth would not be inhabitable, as it's surrounded by vacuum). But it's a comedy film, so we should really just relax.
- As You Know: Spoofed — Dark Helmet addresses the audience to make sure they're up to speed after an infodump from Colonel Sandurz.
Dark Helmet: Everybody got that?
- At Arm's Length: Lone Starr and Dark Helmet, during the sword fight.
- Autocannibalism: Pizza the Hutt gets locked in his limo and eats himself to death, freeing the heroic duo from their debt.
- Awesome McCoolname: Lone Starr.
- Banister Slide: The three main villains, in order to get to the Self-Destruct Mechanism's cancellation button.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: Barf evacuates Vespa and Dot from their spaceship using a ladder. At least Dot is a robot.
- Lone Starr later uses the same ladder to descend into a portion of Spaceball One that appears to be open to space, which contains a door into a bathroom.
- Beachcombing: "Are we being too literal?" "No, you fool, we're following orders. We were told to comb the desert, so we're combing it!"
- Bears Are Bad News: One takes the last escape pod on Spaceball One, much to the President's dismay.
- Berserk Button. Don't. Shoot. Vespa's. Hair. Do, and you'll be gunned down with a fury that would make Rambo look like a pussy.
- Big Bad: President Skroob
- Big "NO!": Princess Vespa, when she's threatened with being given her old ugly nose back.
- Big Red Button: One that activates Spaceball One's Self-Destruct Mechanism; the one that turns it off turns out to be out of order. "Fuck! Even in the future nothing works!"
- Bilingual Bonus:
- Cyrillic letters appear in Eagle 5's targeting scope, including a combination that does make perfect sense — "ПЁС — КОТ" (Dog — Cat).
- And a minor one - after Dr. Schlotkins and the Hospital Hottie get caught making out in the dark, Helmet tells him to "get back to the golf course and work on your putts!" Putz is also Yiddish for penis/dick.
- Blade Lock: Parodied as Lone Starr and Dark Helmet's Laser Blades get twisted around each other: "I hate it when I get my Schwartz twisted!"
- Blowing a Raspberry: Parodied. Dark Helmet exclaims, "There is only one man, who would dare give me the Raspberry! Lone Starr!" after the hero has jammed Spaceball One's radar literally with... jam... Raspberry-flavored jam.
- The Bore: Prince Valium puts himself to sleep, he's that boring.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall
- At one point, the villains believe they've captured Lone Starr, Barf, Vespa, and Dot, only to learn they've mistakenly captured their stunt doubles.
- After Colonel Sandurz takes a brief turn as Mr. Exposition, Dark Helmet lampshades it by turning towards the camera to ask, "Everybody got that?"
- When on the desert planet, at one point there's a transition from Barf and Lone Starr to the sun beating down on the desert, with it shining through behind them in a dissolve effect. Halfway through, Barf comments, "Nice dissolve!"
- During the duel between Lone Star and Dark Helmet, one of the camera crew gets killed by a wayward strike.
- A camera collides with Dark Helmet during a zoom-in shot. Just before, Colonel Sandurz blatantly sees the camera approaching and backs out of the way.
- Dark Helmet and Colonel Sandurz watch the movie on video to find out where the heroes are at that moment.
- As the heroes attempt to elude a squad of guards firing lasers at them, Dot comments "Ooh, I HATE movies like this!"
- As President Skroob comes running into the bridge of Spaceball One:
Skroob: (panting) The ship is too long. If I walk, the movie'll be over.
- Pretty much half of Yogurt's lines are breaking the fourth wall, with him hawking merchandise for the movie in the middle of the movie.
Yogurt: Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made!
- Even his last line spoken in person gets it:
Lone Starr: Will we ever meet again?
Yogurt: Who knows? God willing we'll all meet again in Spaceballs Two: The Search For More Money.
- After the Spaceballs force King Roland to give them the air shield code, Sandurz goes to turn off the wall communicator—and instead turns off the movie.
- Brick Joke:
- While preparing for Ludicrous Speed, Sandurz mentions cancelling the three-ring circus and closing the zoo. When it comes time to abandon ship, the crowd includes several circus freaks and a bear.
- Early in the "you're looking at now" bit, the shelves of videotapes include several Rocky sequels, setting up the Rocky 5000 gag near the end of the movie.
- After the Princess's wedding, Dot mentions she won't be needing the virgin alarm anymore.
- During the first rescue of Vespa, Barf mentions that she doesn't look like a Druish princess... about an hour later, we see her original nose.
- Butter Face: Princess Vespa's stunt double. Because it's a guy.
- Butt Monkey: For an evil warrior feared the universe over, Lord Dark Helmet seems to have very unfortunate things happen to him on a near-hourly basis. Just for funsies, here are some examples — he burns his mouth with coffee in his introductory scene, gets hit in the head with the door of Vespa's car, is sent flying into the front control panel of Spaceball-One when they decelerate from Ludicrous Speed, is found role-playing a liaison between himself and Vespa with dolls, and can't keep his helmet visor up to save his life. And that's before the climax of the movie.
- Camera Abuse: The camera hits Dark Helmet in the face during a close-up. Later, a cameraman gets slashed during the climactic battle sequence between Lone Starr and Dark Helmet.
Dark Helmet: Um, he did it!
Lone Starr: What?!
- Camp Gay: The "You've captured their stunt doubles" Spaceball guy.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Dark Helmet.
- Check Please
- Delivered by Barf when he collapses in the desert.
- Delivered by Barf and Lone Starr in stereo after seeing a singing, dancing chest-burster come out of John Hurt.
- Child Marriage Veto: King Roland never has to back off from his demand that his daughter shall marry a prince. Sure the horribly boring Prince Valium was the only prince left in the galaxy, but it turns out that the hero is actually also a prince. Problem solved.
- Close-Call Haircut: Which proves to be Princess Vespa's Berserk Button: "He shot my hair... Son of a bitch!" Also coincides with My Favorite Shirt.
- Clothing Damage: The hem of Vespa's wedding dress gets increasingly torn and ragged during her trek through the desert, baring quite a bit of her legs by the movie's climax.
- Colonel Bogey March: Dink dink! Dink dink dink dink, dink, dink! Dink dink! Dink dink dink dink, dink, dink!
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Lone Starr's Schwartz is red-orange, and Dark Helmet's is green, since the ship lasers in Star Wars were as well.
- Comically Cross-Eyed: At lease two minor characters in Spaceballs are cross eyed - Major Asshole and Philip Asshole (employed as a gunner!) - see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sen8Tn8CBA4
- Comically Missing the Point: When Lone Starr tries the Vulcan neck pinch on a guard, the guard just tells him how to properly do it, and then passes out when it's done right.
- Composite Character: Lone Starr is a combination of Luke Skywalker (training in the resident magic source and rivalry with the lead villain) and Han Solo (criminal ties, Only in It for the Money, cynical, best friends with a furry alien and romantically involved with the princess), with the costume design of Indiana Jones. Yogurt is Yoda (name and appearance) and Obi-Wan (training style). Colonel Sandurz represents the various Imperial officers that appeared through the movies.
- The Consigliere: Vinny, perhaps, to Pizza the Hutt.
- Conveniently Close Planet: Lone Star's Winnebago comes out of Hyperspeed and promptly runs out of gas. Cue nearby desert planet to land on.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Spaceballs threaten to undo Princess Vespa's nose-job and return her nose to its original grotesque size unless the King hands over the access codes to Druidia's planetary defenses. It works.
- Corrupt Politician: Not only is Skroob one, he's an incompetent one. See The Ditherer, below.
- Creator Cameo: Co-writers Ronny Graham as the Minister and Thomas Meehan as the King's assistant.
- Darth Vader Clone: Dark Helmet
- Death by Gluttony: Pizza the Hutt eats himself to death after getting accidentally locked in his limousine.
- Decoy Getaway / Ninja Prop: "You've captured their stunt doubles!"
- Delegation Relay:
Skroob: Helmet, what's going on?
Dark Helmet: Sandurz, what's going on?
Skroob: (to Helmet) Do something!
Dark Helmet: (to Sandurz) Do something!
Sandurz: (into PA) Do something!
- The Determinator: Spoofed.
Lone Starr: (exhausted and dehydrated) Must go on... must go on... must go on... who am I kidding? (collapses)
- Digital Destruction: On original, non-anamorphic DVD, the scene where Dark Helmet threatens to restore Vespa's old nose became cropped so strongly, viewers can't see the crooked tip of her old nose.
- The Ditherer: President Skroob.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Vespa, until someone shoots her hair.
- The Don: Pizza the Hutt.
- Double Entendre
- Lone Starr and Dark Helmet square off with their "Schwartz" lightsabers suggestively held at crotch height. Dark Helmet remarks "Hmm... I see your Schwartz is as big as mine. Now let's see how well you... handle it!" Made even better when they both glance down to check.
- Also, this line: Sandurz: It's Mega-Maid, sir. She's gone from "suck" to "blow"!
- And: "Oh, yes, sir. Snotty beamed me twice last night. It was wonderful."
- Also, after King Roland gives Dark Helmet and President Skroob the combination to his planet's air shield therefore preventing Princess Vespa from having to be given back her once ugly nose by the nose surgeon, Dark Helmet dismisses the nose surgeon by telling him: You can go back to the golf course now and work on your "putts".
- Dramatic Timpani: Provided by an actual timpanist, who reappears during the evacuation sequence.
- Droste Image: The "Now" scene.
- Drum Roll Please: Sandurz pauses in mid sentence for this.
- Emergency Refuelling: The need to keep their ship fueled is Played for Laughs; "I told you we should've put more than five bucks in" - right before they make a crash landing on a desert planet. Fortunately, they eventually find some fuel.
- The Empire: The Spaceballs, though apparently technically a republic, being led by a President and not a monarch.
- Entitled Bastard: The princess starts out this way. She gets over it pretty quickly, however... She kinda lost the attitude along with the matched luggage.
- Ermine Cape Effect: The king of Druidia is always wearing his crown and ermine robes.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Vespa
- Fairytale Wedding Dress
- Fake Static: Barf uses this ploy to make King Roland promise a million space bucks to rescue Princess Vespa. Note that he wasn't pretending to lose picture to get away from the conversation as is standard of this trope, but rather as a way of saying "I'm losing interest in this deal."
- Fanfare: Can't be a parody of Star Wars without one.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Light Speed < Ridiculous Speed < Ludicrous Speed. Somewhere in there is presumably "Hyperactive", courtesy of Eagle 5's Hyper-Jets.
- Fast-Forward Gag: When they are watching themselves in the movie, Helmet doesn't want to see the part where his plan to go Ludicrous Speed backfires. "Go past this. Pass this part. In fact, never play this again." It then leads to another gag involving the villains watching themselves.
- Flynning: The entire Laser Blade fight consists of a few pirate halves done so slowly that a higher intensity scene could have been had by hopping two children up on sugar and giving them foam swords. It was probably intentional, as the slow, clumsy fight choreography of Star Wars: A New Hope was legendary.
- Foe Yay :
- Lord Helmet playing with a Princess Vespa doll says to the Lord Helmet doll, "Oh, your helmet is SO big!"
- Later, he and Lone Star are comparing the size of their... um... schwartzes.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Slow down the "Instant Cassettes" scene to find what possibly looks like a Working Title for the movie: Spaceballs Chapter Eleven: The Spaceballs Grow Desperate
- Freudian Slip: "I'll have the cleavage. Uh, the special." (Barf at the diner staring at the waitress)
- Funny Background Event:
- The Merch, as a Running Gag.
- The stuff in the back of the Winnebago includes a fire hydrant labeled "Mawg's Room".
- When Rico is getting his groin zapped, Colonel Sandurz is looking away with a traumatized facial expression, as if he knows what all too well how that feels.
- The "You're looking at now" bit includes several Rocky sequels (see Brick Joke).
- Dr. Schlotkin and the nurse suddenly making out when Sandurz turns the movie back on.
- Mr. <Insert Product Here> machinery in the background of various scenes.
- Glasses Pull: Of a kind. Dark Helmet pulls the mask down over his face whenever he wants to be scary and dramatic, and pops it up when he starts expressing exasperation or confusion. Or when he realizes he can't breathe in that thing.
- Good Is Dumb: The Trope Namer, when Helmet tricks Lone Starr and takes his Schwartz ring.
"So, Lone Starr, now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb."
- Greasy Spoon
- Groin Attack: Dark Helmet's preferred use of his Schwartz powers is to Schwartz-choke the nads of subordinates who fail him. Or annoy him. ("You went over my helmet?") After the first time, they start covering themselves immediately when he gets angry.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Non-Human Sidekick Barf: "I'm a mawg; I'm half-man, half-dog. I'm my own best friend!"
- Have a Nice Death: Self-Destruct Voice: "Have a nice day."
- His Name Really Is Barkeep / Unfortunate Names
- Gunner's Mate First Class Philip Asshole.
- Not to mention his cousin, Major Asshole, who got him the job.
- Hospital Hottie: The assistant to the plastic surgeon brought in by Helmet when he threatens to give Vespa her old nose.
I bet she gives great helmet
- Hot And Cold: Princess Vespa, in the original sense.
- Ho Yay : Lord Helmet and Lone Star are comparing the size of their... um... schwartzes.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Spoofed. It appears Dark Helmet is gloating to Vespa over her capture, but all it turns out is him playing kissy-kissy with his dolls.
- Improv: The entire sequence of Dark Helmet playing with dolls was unscripted. Mel Brooks had a sudden idea to shoot the scene and simply gave the dolls to Rick Moranis and told him to roll with it.
- Imperial Storm Trooper Marksmanship Academy: Played straight, since the majority of the Spaceball One Crew, being members of the Asshole family with their eyes naturally crossed, cannot aim pretty well either.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: Mega-Maid.
- Jewish American Princess: Vespa is a clear reference to this stereotype.
Princess Vespa: I am Princess Vespa, daughter of Roland, King of the Druids.
Lone Starr: Oh great. That's all we needed. A Druish princess.
Barf: Funny, she doesn't look Druish.
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Vespa, while still in her dress, is handed a gun. She refuses to use it until her hair is singed. Then she goes "good enough for Rambo" by mowing down a line of Spaceballs.
- The Kingdom: Druidia
- Keep the Reward: Near the end, Vespa laments how greedy Lone Starr was to take the money and leave, only for her father to tell her that he only took 248 spacebucks for food, gas, and tolls. (Lone Starr had asked him not to tell her.)
- Knows A Guy Who Knows A Guy: Dark Helmet is Lone Starr's father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate.
Lone Starr: So... what's that make us?
- Large Ham: Dark Helmet, Lone Starr and many more!
- Laser Blade: Used in the climactic battle.
Dark Helmet: And I see your Schwartz is as big as mine!
- Lawful Stupid: Lone Starr. Don't ever trust something if you can't see where it keeps its brain! Dark Helmet even lampshades this (naming a trope in the process) after stealing the Ring of the Schwartz from Lone Starr:
- Leave the Camera Running: The intro, which pans over Spaceball One for about ninety seconds. Heck, even the orchestra gets tired of it.
- Left the Background Music On: Timpani player!
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: After watching the painful footage of being catapulted into the bulkhead of Spaceball One, Dark Helmet says, "No, no. Go past this part. In fact never play this part again", and nervously drinks his coffee.
- Lie to the Beholder: Dark Helmet makes himself appear as King Roland in order to lure Vespa into his clutches. Dot sees through the illusion, too late.
- Lightning Bruiser: Spaceball One is (of the three we see to any degree) not only the most heavily armed, but also the fastest, if Ludicrous Speed counts for anything.
- Love Makes You Dumb: At least during first meetings, "Now listen: on this ship, you are to refer to me as 'Idiot', not 'You captain!' I mean, you know what I mean." So much for Lone Starr always being right.
- Lots of Luggage: After the Winnebago crash-lands on the desert planet, Lone Starr tells Princess Vespa to take only what she needs to survive. She determines that this includes her industrial-strength hair dryer, carried in a very large suitcase (which, naturally, she forces Lone and Barf to carry).
- Ludicrous Speed: The Trope Namer, when Helmet says that they can't catch Lone Starr going at lightspeed. They need to go to ludicrous speed.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Spoofed:
Dark Helmet: I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's FORMER ROOMMATE!
Lone Starr: ... What's that make us?!
Dark Helmet: Absolutely nothing. Which is what YOU are about to become.
- Magic Feather: The Schwartz Ring Lone Starr gets from Yogurt.
Yogurt: The ring was bupkis! I found it in a Cracker-Jack box!
- Matron Chaperone: Dot Matrix has this as one of her functions, even if she's actually not older than Princess Vespa.
Dot: That was my Virgin Alarm. It's programmed to go off before you do!
- May the Farce Be with You: A very well known example. The DVD case actually uses the exact phrase "May the Farce be with you" as a tagline.
- Meaningful Name: Prince Valium.
- And the Asshole family.
- "Vespa" means "wasp" in Italian. A petulant or easily irritated person, especially a woman, may be described as "waspish."
- Mega-Maw Maneuver: Spaceball One eats Princess Vespa's spaceship.
- The Merch: Beautifully parodied. Taken one step further by some of it clearly being Transformers merchandise with Spaceballs stickers on them. The Merch helps the baddies find Lone Starr and company, and it's everywhere if you look for it. Sadly there was no real life Merch for Spaceballs, because of an agreement between Mel Brooks and George Lucas.
- Mile-Long Ship: Subject of the opening Overly Long Gag. Justified by the fact that Spaceball One has to be able to transport the entire atmosphere of an Earthlike planet.
- Misaimed Marketing: In-Universe:
- Moment Killer: Damn that Dot Matrix and her virgin alarm....
- Mook Lieutenant: Colonel Sandurz
- Moses in the Bullrushes: As luck would have it, Lone Starr is really a prince who was sent off, Superman style, complete with Orphan's Plot Trinket.
- Mugged for Disguise: Lone Star and Barf beat up two guards and steal their uniforms. Of course, Barf doesn't fit in his properly.
- Musical Gag: At least two. First, the orchestra getting increasingly frustrated with the length of Spaceball One. Second, when we go to Spaceball City the first time, we're treated to a rendition of "Hail to the Chief" with a very wrong final note.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: "Meet Dr. Schlotkins, the best cosmetic surgeon in the entire universe and Beverly Hills."
- My Little Panzer: Spaceballs the flamethrower. The kids love it.
- My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: The Virgin Alarm. "It's programmed to go off before you do!"
- Mythology Gag: The Mr. Rental unit, contains VHS cassettes of every Mel Brooks movie made up to that point. From The Producers to Spaceballs?
- Nerd in Evil's Helmet: Dark Helmet. The surprise came to the audience only, since his staff already knew him (and was used to pretending they don't know he's playing with dolls).
- Nepotism: The reason Dark Helmet is surrounded by Assholes is that Major Asshole got all his cousins aboard Spaceball One.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Lone Starr sneaks up behind a mook and tries to use the Vulcan neck pinch on him and gets it wrong. The mook gives him a few pointers and corrects his grip... and promptly passes out.
- Nitro Boost: Liquid Schwartz.
- Nobody Calls Me Chicken
- No, Except Yes:
Barf: Look, Your Highness, it's not that we're afraid— far from it! It's just that we've got this thing about death. It's... not us.
- Then, once they've accepted the deal.
- No Fourth Wall: Among other things (see Camera Abuse and As You Know above), the bad guys manage to track down the good guys by watching Spaceballs: The Movie on VHS. They're literally watching their own movie within the movie itself! Many other examples abound in Breaking the Fourth Wall, above.
- Non Sequitur Thud
- After Spaceball One comes out of Ludicrous Speed and Dark Helmet takes a header into computer terminal and smashes the terminal, his head, and his helmet:
Dark Helmet: Why don't we take a five-minute break? Smoke if you got 'em! (thud)
- Barf does it on the desert planet: "Oh waiter... Check Please!" (thud)
- The Obi-Wan: Yogurt, who is pretty much Yoda as a crusty-but-lovable Yiddish guy. (Well, honestly, what did you expect from Mel Brooks?)
- Obvious Stunt Double: An In-Universe / Breaking the Fourth Wall example when the Spaceballs capture the heroes' stunt doubles. Princess Vespa's is a man.
"You idiot! You captured their stunt doubles!"
- Oh, Crap: Everyone in the bridge of the Spaceballs One when Dark Helmet ordered for the ship to go to Ludicrous Speed.
- Only in It for the Money: Lone Starr provides the page quote.
We're not just doing this for money; we're doing for a shitload
- Only Sane Man: Barf, as he often has to play negotiator between Lone Starr and Vespa during their desert trek. To a lesser extent, Colonel Sandurz serves as one to the Spaceballs.
- Overly Long Gag: At the beginning of the movie, panning across Spaceball One. Even the orchestra gets annoyed.
- Overused Running Gag: Lampshaded:
Dark Helmet: Why are you preparing? You're always preparing! Just go!
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: 1-2-3-4-5.
- Planet Looters: The Spaceballs.
- Planet Spaceship: The Spaceball One, a parody of the Death Star from Star Wars, has a similar moon-like scale.
- Precision F-Strike:
- Pressure Point:
Lone Starr: (sneaks up behind a guard and grabs his neck)
Guard: (pause) What the hell are you doing?
Lone Starr: ... the Vulcan neck pinch?
Guard: No, no, stupid. You've got it much too high, it's more down here where the shoulder meets the neck!
Lone Starr: Like this?
Guard: Yeah! (collapses)
Lone Starr: Thanks.
- Prince Charmless: Prince Valium
- Product Placement
- Pun: It's a Mel Brooks film. It's the standard humor.
- When you say you're going to comb the desert, out come the oversized prop combs.
- "Well, just what we need... a Druish princess!" "Funny, she doesn't look Druish." (Mel Brooks has said that the only reason he named the planet Druidia was so he could make that one joke.)
- "What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz, CHICKEN?"
- "PIZZA THE HUTT!"
- "Yogurt! I HATE YOGURT! Even with strawberries!"
- "Radar... about to be... jammed!"
- "There's only one man who would dare give me the raspberry!"
- Put Off Their Food: At the end of the movie, when a diner patron who ate the Special begins moaning in pain, Barf - who'd also ordered the Special - quickly changes his order. After the alien bursts out and does its dance, both Lone Starr and Barf simply say "Check Please" and leave without eating.
- Putting on the Reich: The Spaceball military personnel, naturally, parody the use of this trope in Star Wars. Lampshaded, of course:
Spaceball Trooper: "Jawohl, Lord Helmet!"
- Rage Helm: Dark Helmet, in an over-the-top parody of Vader.
- Reading Ahead in the Script: The Spaceballs watch the VHS of the movie to find out where the heroes have escaped to. This causes great weirdness when they first get to the part of the video that's currently going on.
- Reality Ensues: When Spaceball One comes out of Ludicrous Speed, Dark Helmet follows Newton's First Law and smashes into the wall in front of him.
- Reality-Writing Book: An example of a video rather than a book. The evil characters watch the video of the movie they are starring in — at one point their actions in the film universe and the video are perfectly synched up, which confuses the hell out of Dark Helmet.
- Recursive Canon
- Recursive Reality: The villains watch a video of their own movie, and end up on the scene where they are watching it, seeing an infinite number of themselves watching themselves.
- Recycled In SPACE:
- Although it is mostly a parody of Star Wars, the plot closely resembles the classic romantic comedy It Happened One Night. Down to Lone Star only accepting the $200-something travel expenses as pay, rather than the million dollars—sorry, million space bucks.
- Parodied relentlessly, with the Millennium Falcon equivalent being a literal Winnebago with wings — lampshaded when Spaceball guards call it exactly that — and the currency being "space bucks", among other examples. Especially funny near the end, with the actual Millennium Falcon and the Winnebago both stopping for gas, IN SPACE!
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Subverted with the baby xenomorph.
- Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: Spaceballs features a review of Rocky Five... Thousand.
- Ring of Power: Subverted, save for the lightsaber part... maybe.
- Robot Buddy: Dot Matrix, Princess Vespa's robot hand-maid.
- Robot Maid
- Royal Brat: Vespa
- Runaway Bride: Vespa
- Running Gag: Both within the movie — Spaceballs merch everywhere — and reusing several gags from previous Mel Brooks movies.
- Russian Reversal: "Or else Pizza is gonna send out for YOU!"
- Say Your Prayers: Barf does this at one point when they're about to crash on Vega.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Princess Vespa, when she's attacked by the Spaceballs. "I don't have to put up with this; I'm rich!"
- See the Whites of Their Eyes: "Radar about to be... jammed!"
- Sequel Snark: Yogurt jokes that he and Lone Starr will meet again in Spaceballs 2: the Search for More Money, as part of the movie's Running Gag about merchandising. No sequel has been made, though an animated series had a short run in the mid 2000s.
- "Coming up next, Pongo's review of Rocky Five... Thousand."
- Share the Male Pain: Because Dark Helmet is a master of the Groin Attack.
Dark Helmet: I always have coffee before watching radar. You know that!
Colonel Sandurz: Of course I do, sir!
Dark Helmet: (to crew) Everybody knows that!
Crew: (in unison, covering their crotches) Of course we do, sir!
- Shout-Out/Reference Overdosed
- A specific mention is probably deserved by the wonderfully insane combined reference to Alien (complete with John Hurt) and One Froggy Evening.
- And of course, the single longest gag in the film, the opening establishing shot of Spaceball One, is a Shout-Out to the shot of the Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Episode IV. The shape of Spaceball One and the music that plays during its reveal also shout out to Jaws; the ship is shaped like a shark, and the music is a slower horn-version of the Jaws theme.
- "Spaceballs?!" "Oh, shit. There goes the planet."
- Pizza the Hutt's mook Vinny Poker-Face seems to be a reference to Max Headroom, with his angular head and neck twitch.
- Lone Starr tries the Vulcan neck pinch from Star Trek. The guard then tells him how to do it right, and then passes out due to the pinch now working.
- When President Skroob tells the crew to prepare for The Metamorphosis and Dark Helmet replies, "Ready, Kafka?"
- And then there's this gem:
"What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz...? Chicken..?
- The evil plan of the Spaceballs is a reference to a ethnic joke probably not told anymore. Why do Jews have big noses? Because air is free. Being Mel Brooks this is probably intentional.
- Skroob telling Marlene and Charlene to "chew your gum!" is meant to be a reference to Wrigley's Doublemint Gum, which used twins in their advertisments.
- It's not clear where exactly the parody comes from, but Spaceball One's transformation to Mega-Maid is either a reference to the SDF-1's transformation in Robotech or Transformers. It might be both. Barf specifically describes it as a Transformer.
- The Schwartz being wielded through a ring is a double parody of both The Force and The Lens of Civilization.
- Princess Vespa is engaged to Prince Valium.
- Show Some Leg: Completely incidental, but Princess Vespa spends most of the desert displaying this due to the condition of her dress.
- Sigil Spam: Overlaps with the various merchandising jokes, since "Spaceballs" is both the name of the movie and the name of the villains.
- Significant Anagram: "Skroob" is an anagram of "Brooks."
- Single-Biome Planet: The protagonists crash-land on the "desert moon of Vega", which bears a startling resemblance to Tatooine in A New Hope.
- Sir Not-Appearing-on-This-Cover: The cover for the original DVD doesn't have Lone Starr, Vespa, or Dot on it.
- Skip to the End: It boils down to "the short short version", thanks to the impatient priest annoyed at the constant interruptions.
Priest: Do you?
Lone Starr: Yes.
Priest: Do you?
Priest: Good! You're married! Kiss her!
- Skirts and Ladders: Between Dot Matrix and Barf. "Stop looking up my can!"
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Lone Starr and Princess Vespa.
- Sorry to Interrupt / Suspiciously Specific Denial: "No, sir! I didn't see you playing with your dolls again!"
- Space Based Weapon Has Cutoff Range: Especially the scene when Spaceball 1 is chasing Princess Vespa's car.
- Space Jews:
- Mel Brooks has said the only reason that the planet in Spaceballs is named Druidia is so he could throw in the line about a "Druish Princess". Plus plenty of more scenes. That's okay because Mel Brooks has N-Word Privileges. "Funny, She Doesn't Look Druish!"
- President Skroob wears a traditional Jewish groom's tuxedo.
- Yogurt's over-the-top Yiddish accent.
- Space Trucker: Lone Star driving a Winnebago through space.
- Spit Take: The Mr. Coffee scene. "Hot... too hot!"
- Spontaneous Weapon Creation: It's possible that this is how Schwartz weapons work. Yogurt claims that the rings from which they appear to come are really a Magic Feather.
- Squashed Flat: Barf's foot, after Lone Star drops a statue on it.
- Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot: Parodied, see Overly Long Gag.
- Stealth Pun:
- One Spaceball guard yells at Barf, "You son of a..." before getting shot. Barf is half dog.
- The can of Perri-Air that Skroob uses turns out to have a second pun beyond the obvious Product Placement gag. The stylized "P" on the can also resembles a "D", and Skroob brings the can up to his nose. He's sniffing his Derri-Air. (If you don't get it, say it out loud.)
- Stock Scream: It's a parody of Star Wars - of course it's going to have the famous Wilhelm Scream (it's when the one trooper gets shot in the rump after Barf reflects the shots back).
- Strange Salute: The Spaceball fleet has a couple:
- Lord Helmet's minions covering their groins whenever they speak to him (though this might be a purely practical defensive action, given his preferred method of dealing with sub-par performance).
- President Skroob's salute: make a rude hand sign, then immediately pretend to wave politely; perfectly appropriate for a two-faced backstabbing organization.
- Streaming Stars: Parodied when Spaceballs One goes to Ludicrous Speed. "They've gone to plaid!"
- Stupid Minds Think Alike: "That's amazing! I've got the same combination on my luggage!"
- Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Via Dark Helmet: "That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!" It turns out that's the combination of President Skroob's luggage.
- Suddenly Suitable Suitor: Lone Starr discovers that his pendant is actually a birth certificate proving he's a Prince — making a marriage between himself and Vespa suddenly fine.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: Parodied with the restaurant scene when Kane starts coughing and goes into convulsions, followed by a chestburster... which dons a top hat and cane and sings "Hello My Baby" in the voice of Michigan J. Frog. John Hurt reprises his role from the original Alien, lampshaded by his muttered, "Oh no, not again!"
- Surrounded by Idiots: "I knew it! I'm surrounded by Assholes!"
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- Lord Helmet always drinks coffee while he watches radar. Everybody knows that!
- Colonel Sandurz definitely didn't see Lord Helmet playing with his dolls again.
- Teleporter Accident: President Skroob winds up with his head on backwards after being beamed into the next room. Beaming him back undoes it.
- Theme Tune Rap: 'Cause what you got is what we need and all we do is dirty deeds, we're the SPACEBALLS!
- Title: The Adaptation: Lampooned, in all its adaptations.
- Time Travel Tense Trouble: Happens during the aforementioned scene where Helmet and Sandurz are viewing Spaceballs: The Movie.
Dark Helmet: When will "then" be "now"?
Col. Sandurz: Soon.
- Too Dumb to Live: The entire Spaceball race. Dark Helmet implies that President Skroob is responsible for their atmosphere being squandered:
President Skroob: Planet Druidia, 10,000 years of fresh air!
Dark Helmet: (whispers, to Sandurz) The way he runs things, it won't last 100.
- Transforming Mecha: Spaceball One's transformation into Mega-Maid.
Colonel Sandurz: Prepare for metamorphosis!
Dark Helmet: Ready, Kafka?
- Treacherous Spirit Chase: Dark Helmet manages to lure Princess Vespa out of Yogurt’s home by using the schwartz to disguise himself as her father, King Roland.
- Trend Covers: The Collector's Edition DVD case and menus evoke a Star Wars DVD.
- Twin Threesome Fantasy: Skroob indulges in this with Marlene and Charlene.
- Unmanly Secret: Dark Helmet plays with dolls that look like the main characters of the movie when he thinks he's alone... Of course, Col. Sandurz catches him in the act, but assures him that he "didn't see [him] playing with [his] dolls again."
- Used Future
- Lone Starr's Winnebago has seen better days.
- And then there's the issue of that non-functional self-destruct cancellation on Spaceball One...
Dark Helmet: FUCK! Even in the future, nothing works!!!
- Vader Breath: Spoofed. It sounds like he's having trouble breathing because he is.
Dark Helmet: I can't breathe in this thing!
- Villain Song: "Spaceballs" is as close as it gets during this movie, and since this is a comedy, the song is played when Spaceball 1 is evacuating during the self destruct.
Cause what you got is what we need and all we do is dirty deeds
We're the Spaceballs, Watch Out! cause we're the Spaceballs
- Visual Pun:
There's only one man who would dare
give me the raspberry... (flips down helmet; menacingly) LONE STARR!
Sir, are you sure we aren't being too literal? Dark Helmet:
No, you fool; the president told us to comb the desert, so we're combing it.
Made worse by the fact that a pair of black Spaceballs are using a giant afro pick
instead of a comb.
- When Lone Starr calls for Barf for the first time. By the way Lone Starr speaks and rocks, he looks like he really is going to vomit.
- Villainous Crush: Dark Helmet seems to harbor one for Princess Vespa from what one could tell from the doll scene.
- Vicious Vac / Planet Looters: Mega-Maid.
- Vocal Dissonance:
- The deep voice singing "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" in Spaceballs prison turns out to be...Princess Vespa.
Barf: She's a bass!
- And how Helmet has a normal voice with his mask up, and a deep one with it down. Still, it completely sounds like Rick Moranis trying to deepen his voice(which is likely intentional).
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Gets a Lampshade Hanging — "That's all we needed... a Druish Princess!"
- Who's on First?: The exchange between Sandurz and Dark Helmet in the "instant videocassette" gag.
- Why Waste a Wedding?: Valium out, Lone Starr in.
- World of Pun: The radar gets jammed, they comb the desertnote , and of course there's the Druish princess.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Well, half-wrong. The guy who went over Lord Dark Helmet's helmet knew he was in trouble and anticipated a neck choke as punishment. He didn't expect Dark Helmet to aim a bit lower.
- Your Spacecraft's Size May Vary: Mega-Maid, who at first starts off as big enough for a starship(albeit a star-Winnebago) to enter its "ear canal," then shrinks, but still big enough for a Spaceball to slide out its nostril.
- You Taste Delicious: Literally, since Vinnie starts picking up parts of his boss, Pizza the Hutt. He even says those Exact Words. Later, Pizza the Hutt eats himself to death after getting trapped in his limo, freeing up the duo's debt.
- Zeerust: That computer-letter font just doesn't look as futuristic now as it did in The Eighties...