This film and its sequels provide examples of the following tropes:
Abandon Ship: Occurs in both the first and third movies. The third movie proceeds on to the main plot, a group of survivors making their way across the planet while defending themselves against the bugs until they can regroup with a squad of Marines from their ship. They find the Marines, still in their dropship, dead as soon as they left their home ship due to an air leak.
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The Mobile Infantry operating without armor or artillery support was actually justified in the novel, because the MI powered armor suits let them provide their own support. When the movie eliminated the powered armor, it failed to account for this, making the MI's tactics look very silly. Lampshaded: After the initial attack on Klendathu failed miserably, everyone acknowledged that the MI's tactics were moronic. In later operations they're seen operating with heavy air support.
Almost Kiss: Between Carmen and Zander just before the asteroid appears.
Always Chaotic Evil: The Bugs. Although it's deliberately left unclear whether the Bugs started the war or if the humans did, they are absolutely merciless in battle and kill the humans without restraint. The second film makes it clear that they see humanity as this, regarding them as a virus.
Anachronic Order: The opening newsreel takes place during the initial invasion of Klendathu, before the movie jumps back a few months, then catches up about half-way through.
At the end of the second film, Sahara is the only soldier from the outpost who makes it out alive, with Dax opting for a Heroic Sacrifice and others having been killed by Dax and Sahara after they were infected with the Control Bug.
At the end of the third film, Lola and Holly are the only ones who survive from the group that crash-landed on the planet.
An Arm and a Leg: The recruitment officer, lots and lots of AI troops. Rasczak in spades.
When hit with missiles, orbiting space ships do not fall perpendicular to the planet and they especially do not fall down RELATIVE TO THE CAMERA.
The asteroid Carmen almost misses, unless it was dense as hell, should in no way have enough mass to create such a significant gravitational field, especially enough to counter the ship's own artificial gravity field.
Ascended Extra: Male!Dizzy was a Sacrificial Lamb for the first scene of the novel; Carl was killed offscreen — er, off-page. Both have more important roles in the movie.
Author Tract: According to director Paul Verhoeven's commentary, almost every scene was supposed to convey some sort of social or political message. Surprisingly not done in the commentary for the second film, where the film-makers point out that everyone assumes the movie is about Iraq, but the script was written long before that war started.
Autodoc: An injured Rico is placed in a nutrient tank with automated metal hands mending his thigh wound.
Back In The Saddle: Rico's teacher Mr. Rasczak returns to duty as Lieutenant in the MI. Drill Sergeant Zim is so eager to get back on the front lines that he deliberately gets himself demoted to Private to do so.
Sgt. Zim! Starts the movie as a Drill Sergeant Nasty, then takes a VOLUNTARY DEMOTION so that he can go into combat, THEN captures a brain bug! Being played by Clancy Brown certainly doesn't hurt his badassitude.
Also worth mentioning is Carmen who sustains a massive explosion to the face when the bridge takes a hit over Klendathu. While Rico's recovering in the bacta tank, Carmen has a tiny cut through her eyebrow which actually serves to enhance her looks.
Behind the Black: In the first film, Carmen and Xander notice a gravity field affecting the ship, and all its advanced sensors indicate that it's probably an asteroid. This is opposed to simply looking out the front window, in which the giant asteroid about to hit them is clearly visible.
As subtle as a Morita Assault Rifle to the face in Marauders. Magnificent Bitch Admiral Enolo Phid begins to use religion as part of the Federation's propaganda after witnessing in the video records traitor Sky Marshall Omar Anoke communicating in near- Religious Ecstasy with the Brain Bug from the first movie that was being contained for interrogation. Seeing the most powerful man in the galaxy do exactly as told without thought or protest convinces her to adopt a Christian-esque religion to render the people servile. Reflects Emperor Constantine's co-option of the Christianity cult that was growing popular amongst the plebs, claiming the new god was On Our Side and Wants Us To Win. In Anoke's case, he orchestrates a massacre on Roku San on behalf of the "God Bug" Behemecoatl and manipulates fellow religiously devout assistant, Holly, into falling for his eloquent religious words before she learns who his "god" really during his betrayal, casually suggesting killing him as he's worshiping "The Wrong god". Amidst all the bashing, former atheist Action Girl Lola's religious awakening appears to be the only instance where religion is not associated with mind control.
Despite the tone of the previous movie, Invasion never treats religion negatively. There is only one guy in the squad (Holy Man) who actually believes, almost to excess in fact, but the other characters do little more than poke mild fun at him for it (because he's tattooed up the wazoo). At a base level, his faith is treated fairly, and it even gets a call back as a touching moment later.
Better to Die than Be Killed: Lt. Rasczak shoots an unfortunate soldier before he gets mauled by a giant bug. He then requests for the same to be done to him if he were to get in a similar situation. Which happens.
Betty and Veronica: Rico for Dizzy and Ibanez. Interestingly, he essentially winds up with neither as Dizzy dies and Ibanez friends him to be a career pilot.
Big Bad: The Brain Bug in the first film, which leads the other Bugs. The third film reveals that the Brain Bugs are actually in thrall to an even higher leadership caste of which there is only one member, the humongous Bug God Behemecoatyl.
Bigger Bad: Behemecoatyl is retroactively the Bigger Bad of the first two films. It is the absolute leader of the Bugs, but is never seen in the previous ones, in which the humans only fought its minions.
Big Book of War: In Marauder, General Hauser is attacked by a civilian and cites every regulation he is violating by attacking an officer. Yes, for each punch, uppercut, and kick to the balls, there is a regulation for that.
All over the first film, but because it plays its satire with such a straight face, you have to be paying attention to catch it. Pay particular note to casualty numbers in the newsreel on the Battle of Klendathu and then the numbers displayed in Rico's Federation hospital. The media are underreporting the deaths by a factor of ten.
In the third film, just about everything the Federation says on the news seems to be this whenever it involves the main plot. Which makes you doubt the veracity of the news reels' ongoing B Plot about the growing Peace Movement and its leader.
"This led to massive peace protests where 127 students and peace protesters died." Itīs played like somehow the protestors and regime critics killed so many "innocent citizens" but they play it while showing armored police standing around beating people. Someone tell them to show better footage next time.
Boom Head Shot: In Marauder, although with a Brain Bug its disproportionately large head makes it difficult to get in any other kind of shot.
Bottomless Magazines: In spite of the massive amount of ammo expended, you can pretty much count on one hand the number of times anyone reloads on-screen.
Brain Food: The Brain Bugs, who use a rather straw-like proboscis to stab through the skull and suck out the juicy brainmeats within.
Brainwashed: In the third movie, Sky Marshal Omar Anoke is brainwashed by the captive Brain Bug after he confers with it multiple times. He shuts down the defenses on Roku San, leading to its takeover by the Bugs. When his ship crash lands on a Bug planet, he leads the survivors to the Bug's supreme leader, the planet-sized Bug God Behemecoatyl. He gets devoured by Behemecoatyl for his efforts.
Ace, Carl, and Carmen are nowhere to be seen in the third movie. In the case of Carmen, Denise Richards had a schedule conflict, although she is referenced as the one that tipped Rico off to the Sky Marshal's visit.
Bug War: The war is against the giant Klendathu Arachnids.
California Doubling: Buenos Aires, the Mobile Infantry boot camp, and Klendaathu all look suspiciously like the same southwestern U.S. desert. Which is ironic in a way, because the scenes set on alien planets were all filmed on Hell's Half Acre, in Wyoming.
The Call Knows Where You Live: Buenos Aires. Note that in the novel, only one of Rico's relatives was in B.A., and he didn't even find that out until months later.
Censor Decoy: FedNet censors a cow being ripped apart by an Arachnid and later the Brain Bug being probed, yet they show the gruesomely mangled bodies of humans killed by the Arachnids not once, but TWICE.
Composite Character: In the novel, Carl is Rico's childhood friend who dies offscreen, the only psychic is an unnnamed "sensitive" who makes one brief appearance (and Rico suspects his talent is really just very good hearing), and Jenkins is one of Rico's later squadmates. Also in the novel, Colonel DuBois, Rico's teacher, and Lt. Rasczak are separate characters, but Michael Ironside pulls double duty when the two are combined.
Cult Colony: Port Joe Smith is a colony founded by "Mormon Extremists" just inside the Arachnid Quarantine Zone. Bugs apparently found them quite tasty. Well duh. No cigarette or coffee after taste, and caffeine-free. Delicious and nutritious!
Dead Man's Trigger Finger: An early source of conflict (and Dark Comedy), after a recruit shot in the head during a ridiculously dangerous live-fire training exercise spastically fires a long burst from his assault rifle into a group of nearby New Meat, causing further casualties.
Death by Cameo: Scriptwriter Edward Neumeier briefly appears as a murderer who is sentenced to death by lethal injection in a show trial (from what we can tell there wasn't even a trial, just a verdict).
Death by Sex: After spending over half of the movie pining, the day after Dizzy and Rico have sex, she dies.
Death from Above / Colony Drop: The Bugs use this by (somehow using plasma) shooting asteroids, but the humans seem to have trouble with the concept. Yes, this makes so little sense that it's implied it's bull anyway; the more likely explanation is that the government did it themselves as an excuse for war.
Deconstructed Trope: Of classic Hollywood Tactics with usually gory results. Trying to out-Zerg Rush a faction that would make the actual Zerg proud? As in sending in millions of unprotected infantry without any support whatsoever? Or, never asking for space freighters to transport the infantry on the planet around? Placing all your space ships as close as possible to each other so the enemy anti-orbital artillery can conveniently land hit after hit? Yes, all of those are done by the humans and all of those end in utter failure. The bugs on the other hand are incredibly Dangerously Genre Savvy when it comes to tactics in this movie series.
Digital Head Swap: Done in-universe in Marauder to create the illusion that Sky Marshal Omar Anoke is still around.
Happens in the third movie, but most of the time is spent focusing on the survivors, and The Cavalry preparing their Humongous Mecha for the rescue mission.
Dolled-Up Installment: The film had little to do with the novel on which it was allegedly based. The rights to the name were bought after the script was written.
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Played with. The exciting battle scenes seem to undermine Verhoeven's supposed message, but most of the soldiers still die agonizingly horrible deaths. But the trope itself is also a large part of the message, the unsavory elements of the war and its reasons are referenced by people trying to downplay or or distract from those elements.
Drives Like Crazy: Ibanez flies this way. She doesn't suffer any serious repercussions for her recklessness.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: In Marauder, a squad of Marines are introduced, their leader gets a few Bad Ass moments by way of an introduction, and then The entire squad dies off-screen as soon as their dropship launches because it wasn't properly sealed to keep the atmosphere in. We don't even learn of their fates until the final act.
Drop Ship: Appear to basically be shuttles carrying shipping containers for the troops to ride in. A smaller version is used to recover Rico's Roughnecks from the outpost in the first movie.
Evil Versus Evil: A federation of warmongering fascists is pitted against a merciless race of alien killers. The first movie was playing sly with the notion that it was humanity that provoked the bugs. The later films however depicted the bugs as being pretty horrible while showing that humanity was still the propaganda-heavy, war-glorifying nutcases they were in the first movie (though with a few more sympathetic characters whereas the bugs are all monsters.)
Famed in Story: Dax, at the end of Hero Of The Federation. Played for irony, as the Federation trumpets him as the champion of the very ideals he was shown to be very cynical towards in life.
Fantastic Racism: Hinted at after a soldier continues to shoot an already dead Bug, covering him with alien gore.
Soldier: Ain't much to look at after you scrape them off your boot.
Fetish-Fuel Future: Co-ed showers! Also, getting fitted for a mecha unit requires that you stand naked in front of a small device which is only high enough, and large enough, to cover your crotch.
Notably, these scenes (from the first and third movies) aren't played like typical Fanservice. All the characters, male and female, have a reasonable, non-sexual discussion. Meanwhile, the camera does not focus on the sexy bits. It simply films everyone talking and interacting, exactly as if they were still wearing clothes.
Field Promotion: Taken to extreme levels with Rico once they end up in the Roughnecks. After taking out a tanker in an extremely reckless move, he was elevated to corporal. After the Lieutenant Rasczak dies? You're now acting Lieutenant. And when they go back to HQ, instead of assigning another one they just make the promotion permanent. Not that he did nothing that ever warranted those promotions.
A Form You Are Comfortable With: Subverted in Marauder. Turns out that using the zombified remains of the dwindled members of the Dwindling Party as your mouthpiece only really serves to make everybody a lot less comfortable. Even The Mole is visibly thrown a bit by this.
Gender Is No Object: Men and women serve together in all parts of the Federation military (and even shower together). In the book the Mobile Infantry is strictly male, and women do serve, but they are almost universally in the Space Navy since they make better pilots.
God Emperor: The Bugs' supreme leader, Behemecoatyl, is explicitly referred to as the "Bug God".
Half The Woman She Used To Be: Carmen's commander, thanks to a descending bulkhead door. Also the reporter seen in the beginning of the film, twice (once in the In Media Res opening and again once the film eventually works its way back to that point).
Hand Signals: Lieutenant Rascak uses them while approaching the outpost on Planet P.
Hive Caste System: In addition to the Bug castes in the novel, the movie and its direct-to-DVD sequels added Plasma Bugs, who shot blue death from their butts clear up to orbit; Tanker Bugs, giant bombardier beetles who spat red death at close range; Chariot Bugs, who carried around the bloated Brain Bugs; Hoppers, which could fly but were otherwise similar to Warriors; and in the later films Control Bugs, who were much smaller and could mind-control people similar to Puppeteer Parasites, and the God-Bug or Brain-Of-Brains Behemecoatyl, a top-level caste with a hyperintelligent and telepathic Bug that overgrows most of a planet. Even so, in the original, they used tools instead of Organic Technology.
Hive Mind: The Arachnids (or Bugs). The series expanded on them having a caste system, with each subspecies filling a specific role. The Brain Bugs and Behemacoatyl (from the third film, Marauder; the largest Bug seen so far - its body engulfed almost a planet) have extreme psychic abilities that can be used to control all bugs in the colony. In the second movie, Hero of the Federation, the General (who's been infected by a mind-control bug) uses this as a justification for exterminating humanity:
General Jack Gordon Shephard: "Poor creatures. Why must we destroy you? I'll tell you why. Order is the tide of creation. But yours is a species that worships...the one over the many. You glorify your intelligence... because it allows you to believe anything. That you have a destiny. That you have a right. That you have a cause. That you are special. That you are great. But in truth, you are borninsane. And such misery... cannot be allowed... to spread!"
Hollywood Tactics: Many examples. The writer's intent seems to use the high casualties from battles to hammer home the message that War Is Hell, but it's poorly executed and instead the human characters just come off as Too Dumb to Live. Averted by the Bugs, who use combined arms tactics, stage ambushes, and effectively use expendable drones to soak up fire. The "battle of Klendathu" is the biggest offender:
Ships are parked in orbit right next to each other, so Bug anti-space weapons can take them out easily, hit after hit. Bonus points is this problem is mentioned by the humans as one of the reasons the attack failed.
The humans fight a ground war against an enemy that is planet-bound, instead of simply nuking the place from orbit.
The attack force is light infantry (not mechanized), with no armour or air support. While the lack of armour support is Hand Waved by statements that the terrain is unsuitable for tanks and the like, there is no justification for a lack of air-support, either for bombing or rapid deployment of troops, especially when they're shown to have such capabilities.
Human infantry are squishy, heavily-outnumbered and armed with weak but massed ranged weapons. Rather than set up kill-zones and Defensive Feint Traps and make use of explosives to counter their numbers, they simply send the troops rushing over to fight the bugs in a Zerg Rush. Not very good when the enemy is the actual Zerg.
Poor morale and troop cohesion, with the whole assault turning into a panicked rout after only a few casualties.
Lieutenant Jack Gordon Shepherd (whose brain has been taken over by a Control Bug): "Poor creatures. Why must we destroy you? I'll tell you why. Order is the tide of creation. But yours is a species that worships... the one over the many. You glorify your intelligence... Because it allows you to believe anything. That you have a destiny. That you have a right. That you have a cause. That you are special. That you are great. But in truth, you are born insane . And such misery... cannot be allowed... to spread!"
Humongous Mecha: In the third movie. FINALLY! And while they used Hollywood Tactics when using them, they did much, much better than how the grunts did normally in the films.
I Cannot Self-Terminate: Rasczak, the leader of the Roughnecks, informs all of his new recruits "I've only got one rule: everybody fights, no one quits. You don't do your job, I'll shoot you myself." Later, during a battle he is being consumed from the waist down in a pit he's been sucked into. He tosses his rifle to Rico and screams for him to "Do it!" which prompts Rico to empty the magazine into Rasczak. Not that bad as a rule, considering the alternative to being shot in the head by the teammate is getting slowly devoured and/or brain-sucked by aliens...
The horridly unsafe live-fire exercise where, sure enough, someone gets accidentally shot in the face.
Earlier in the film, during one of the propaganda commercials, three soldiers pass off their guns to children, even teaching them how to aim them. The kids actually fight over the guns! In case you had any faith that these soldiers aren't complete imbeciles, they then proceed to pass out bullets.
Impaled Palm: The main characters are in basic training, learning how to throw knives. After blowing his throw, Ace asks Sergeant Zim why throwing knives is important in an age when pressing a button can unleash nuclear weapons with far more power. Zim orders him to lay his hand against a wall, and throws a knife through his palm, pinning it. He explains (while Ace moans painfully in the background) that by disabling a hand, you can prevent that button from being pressed.
Improbable Parking Skills: It's implied that Carmen Ibanez had to have them to land her shuttle in the middle of a besieged Mobile Infantry outpost during a fierce battle. Of course, she had already been established as the Ace Pilot.
Insert Grenade Here: Done twice in the first movie where Rico shoots a hole in the top of a armoured bug and again when Dizzy makes one swallow a grenade.
It Can Think: The humans just quickly assume that the Bugs are dumb, mindless animals, and just the idea of them being capable of intelligent thought is incredibly offensive. However, the humans learn their lesson once the Bugs spring a massive trap and repel the initial human invasion force. It's later revealed that they are being led by extremely intelligent "Brain Bugs", a leadership caste.
Ivy League For Everyone: Rico's father is adamant that he attend Harvard rather than join the infantry. Since Rico is outright shown to be a dim bulb, it seems the trope name has come true. More-than-possibly justified, however, in that Johnny's family is rich (as in the novel), and historically children of wealthy families can more easily gain admission to prestigious universities than the children of poorer families.
I Will Only Slow You Down: In the first film, during the underground battle between the MI and the Bugs Watkins is injured. He asks the others to give him a nuclear RPG round and leave him behind so he can do a You Shall Not Pass to the Bugs.
Iwo Jima Pose: Used in the opening for the second movie. And then subverted with a Match Cut to a flag, similarly positioned, with a small group of ragged troopers rallying around it trying to hold off a bug swarm.
Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Many human weapons are shown to be only marginally effective against the bugs (an entire assault rifle clip might bring down a common soldier bug), whereas the plasma bugs are able to seriously damage the human fleet.
Large Ham: Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown needed to look down to see where "over the top" stood. Arguably the best parts of the film. Later Casper Van Dien tries to replicate their Large Ham performance as a hard-ass officer, only to come off as a small slice of baloney.
Leeroy Jenkins: One guy during the invasion of Klendathu tries to be this. He's quickly swarmed by bugs and torn to pieces and it all goes downhill from there.
Mercy Kill: Lt. Rasczak snipes one of his own men who has been carried to a distant ridge by a flying bug and tells his troops, "I'd expect any of you to do the same for me." And of course, Rico has to do so later.
Mini Mecha: Serves as the Title Drop and Big Damn Heroes moment in the 2rd sequel, "Marauders", where Johnny Rico and his team of troopers bomb the "God Bug" Behemecoatyl and kill hundreds of arachnids to keep love interest Lola and assistant Holly from being devoured and assimilated.
Pretty much the whole film - life in the Federation is pretty good: everyone is fit and healthy, there is no gender divide, no poverty, black and white live in harmony and jump in and out of bed with no moral condemnation, and all under the benevolent leadership of... a Tyrannical Fascist Dictatorship.
A Nazi by Any Other Name: Since the movie is a satire of the gung-ho jingoism of the novel, they use the Nazi-like symbolism to portray the humans as an evil invading race by Putting on the Reich, and occasionally showing a propaganda commercial. This is capped by Neil Patrick Harris (at the time, best known for Doogie Howser, M.D.) as a Dr. Mengele Expy. One fan theory is that the humans faked the asteroid attack to justify the invasion. Either that, or used the opportunity provided by the otherwise natural asteroid strike to start a war. In any case it's never shown how the Arachnids could have deliberately launched the asteroid.
New Meat: Used quite a bit. A common phrase used to refer to new recruits is "fresh meat for the grinder". Quite funny, in a horrible sort of way. In the sequel a soldier says "Grow up big and strong, we need fresh meat for the grinder" to a newly-born child in the arms of its mother. Upon receiving new arrivals at the end of the first one (earily reminiscent of World War II footage of the Nazis throwing in Child Soldiers by the end of the war), Rico asks "Who are all these kids?", the reply being "we just got 'reinforced'". Upon this he quips that they (20-year old soldiers) are the "old men" now before proceeding to give them the exact same speech the unit commander he replaced did when he, Ace, and Dizzy joined the unit.
Several happen in rapid succession during the invasion of Klendathu, starting with the MI's reactions to a Leeroy Jenkins getting ripped apart, then another from a girl that falls into a bug hole does one right before she gets dragged into one, then from the rest of the MI when they see the bugs swarming out towards them, then another from the Roughnecks on Planet P when they see the giant army of bugs coming at them, and finally Carmen when she sees that she and Zander are surrounded by bugs. Her reaction is probably the most telling.
Carmen:(after giving her location to Rico) The situation is...is...(looks up to see that they're surrounded by bugs) The situation is extremely hostile!
Probably the best one was early in the Klendathu raid, when a Fleet ship damaged by the bug plasma (which was, contrary to expectations, neither random nor light) plows into another ship in orbit, directly in the Roger Young's path.
Captain Deladrier: Someone made a biggoddamn mistake!
Only a Flesh Wound: Carmen gets impaled through the shoulder by a bug talon the diameter of a soda can, picked up and thrown around by it, and yet minutes later is firing a high caliber machinegun, outruns a nuke, and then throws her arms around her friends and skips away smiling. What brave new world is this, that has such painkillers in it?
People's Republic of Tyranny: The United Citizen Federation, where civil rights are plenty (unless you want to have kids) but political freedoms are virtually nonexistent, executions are televised, and the media is a fully interactive Propaganda Machine.
In the first movie, one of several methods of punishment used by the instructors in boot camp. One trooper is sent running around a distance armory (with a Corporal swatting him with a cane to keep pace) as punishment for failing to address his instructor as "Sir".
Played With in the second film. A group of troopers are couped up in an abandoned outpost waiting for rescue, and a comely female troopernote who is possessed by a Puppeteer Parasite that she is trying to spread makes a pass at Captain Dax, claiming that she needs to burn off "excess energy". So he decides to help her out by having her do a hundred pushups as he walks off.
Pin-Pulling Teeth: In the first movie, Dizzy pulls out a grenade's pin with her teeth. Which seems entirely unnecessary, as pushing the big red button on top of the grenade is also shown to remove the pin.
Plasma Cannon: The Bugs combine this with their Hive Caste System. The towering bugs that the Mobile Infantry first encounters during their initial ground invasion of Klendathu are so-called "Plasma Bugs". They shoot huge bursts of plasma from their backs to target the human space vessels in orbit around the planet. Two of them are blown up onscreen, but the rest of them end up destroying most of the Federation's Fleet.
Carl uses these on his pet ferret ("Go bug Mom!"), the brain bug at the end ("It's afraid!"), and to guide Rico to Carmen.
In the second movie, Lieutenant Dill has psychic abilities as well. sort of. At the very least, he can "sense" oncoming swarms of bugs. Sahara, too. When she tells the lieutenant that she's pregnant, he informs her that pregnancy has been known to enhance psychic abilities.
In the third movie, Sky Marshal Anoke is a psychic. This turns out to be a case of being Blessed with Suck, as it's his telepathic sensitivity that allows the Brain Bug to turn him to their side.
The Bugs can take a full magazine of ammo (or more as drama demands) and still fight. During the battle of Klendathu it took three people all their ammo to kill one bug, which would kill at least two of them in the process. The only person who had an effective weapon only used it after the bugs had torn him in half. This is (almost) consistent with the book, as warrior bugs have no sense of self preservation and may not even feel pain: if your torrent of bullets fails to hit a vital organ but only chops away at limbs, the bug will keep coming so long as it has a limb left. But in the book, and later in the film, they realized this and aimed for the brain case on the back to disable them quickly.
Subverted in the ending fight of the first movie. After they rescue Carmen, the protagonists are attacked by an army of bugs. The protagonists respond by letting loose with a torrent of bullets that causes a mountain of bug corpses to form in about three seconds flat.
Played straight in the second film: when the Puppeteer Parasites take over a new host, they become much harder to kill.
Putting on the Reich: Taken to extremes. It is impossible to look at a dress or officer's uniform and not think "How very German." Given the film's send up of militarism and the fact that Verhoeven grew up in the Netherlands during World War II, it's not exacting surprising. But note how they are never portrayed as anything but good, even while saying and doing horrible things — thus reinforcing the film's take on propaganda. Carl's uniform is the worst offender: the cap and black longcoat haven't been seen on an officer since 1945.
Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: "Hey, Rico! Congratulations—you're dead!" Said to Rico while he's in a stasis tank, getting his various battle wounds repaired. Of course, nobody thought to tell Carmen that Rico had actually survived. Ironically enough, it's Xander who informs Carmen that Rico is still alive, immediately after seeing him amongst the troopers they just picked up on Planet P.
Rule Of Cool: It would make more sense to have a trooper or a Fleet rating loading troopers into the rescue boat on Planet P (this is, in fact, how it typically works on military helicopters in Real Life), but it was so much cooler to see Fleet officer Xander heroically jump out with an assault rifle to get Rico's men aboard.
Rule of Drama: A starship's emergency thruster control (presumably some sort of overclocking feature... we hope) is placed under a glass cover that must be smashed before use. (Not to mention waiting until the last second instead of firing it immediately, but that's a failure of another kind.)
The scene implies that they've got to get the ship rotated before firing the emergency thruster, thus the delay.
Running Gag: A subtle one. Rico surges through the ranks, but this isn't because he's especially good, it's because the people above him keep dying. "Come on, do you wanna live forever?"
Scars Are Forever: With some exceptions, most adults in the movie have lost one or more limbs, become blind due to burn wounds, or gained some other type of permanent scarring due to their military service.
Scary DogmaticHumans: Humanity is fascist in the first two movies, and by the end of the third movie, on the fast track to becoming a race of religious fanatics.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Somehow, the Bugs shoot asteroids across the galaxy (the star map in the beginning depicts the two solar systems as being on opposite sides of the galactic core) using just their ground-based plasma-launching bugs, and in a short enough time-frame to target a specific human city. On the other hand, this is a jumping-off point for a theory that the asteroid wasn't from the bugs at all, that it was a random force of nature that high command blamed on them as a convenient excuse to declare war (which Word Of God all but confirms).
From the same scene, Carmen and Xander wait until the last possible second to dodge the asteroid, even though turning left the second they detected it would have actually worked instead of clipping off an entire section of the ship.
Stupid Sacrifice: When Carmen and Zander find themselves surrounded by aliens and with the big brain-eating alien readying to do just that. Zander has a knife hidden, but he doesn't use it himself. No, he gives it to Carmen and promptly gets his brain eaten. The girl then uses it to wound the brain-eating alien and escape. No clear reason is given why the Zander didn't use the knife himself, other than to conveniently Murder the Hypotenuse.
A Telepath Did It: Apparently an in-canon explanation for how Rico rescued his conveniently-recently-lost-her-boyfriend ex-girlfriend. Happens again in Invasion, except Carl is willing to actually admit it this time.
That's an Order: Rasczak says this after telling his troops to have fun during their party celebrating their victory.
Dizzy's death could've easily been avoided if she hadn't stopped to do a celebratory dance in the middle of an evacuation from a Zerg Rush. Or, failing that, if she had run to the Drop Ship instead of happily skipping to it like a schoolgirl. Or even failing that, if she'd kept moving when Rico yelled out her name instead of stopping, turning around, and staring at the bug. Or if Rico, like an idiot, hadn't torn the jagged bug arm from her abdomen, or maybe just yelled something helpful like "Dizzy, drop so I can shoot the bug behind you" instead of "Diiiiiiiiizzzzyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy".
A very good example of this trope is towards the start, when a news correspondent (embedded with the MI) stops to give an on-camera summary of the action during the attack on Klandathu, only to be slaughtered by a Bug partway through. We later find out that this summary is being given in the middle of a mass retreat. Later on, after seeing what happens to the reporter, his cameraman dies in the exact same way.
Video Phone: Johnny Rico is talking to his parents in Buenos Aires via Video Phone when the Bug asteroid hits the city.
Villain Protagonist: The subtext of the Starship Troopers trilogy is that the humans are the evil invading aliens. On the surface, however, you're still supposed to be rooting for the humans.
Villain with Good Publicity: In the third film, Omar Anoke, Sky Marshall of the Federation Forces and propaganda pop star, who secretly defects to the "God Bug" Behemocoatl's side and orchestrated the massacre on Roku San by shutting down the electric fences thereby letting the Bugs massacre the troops. He's even spun as a hero after death, given the alternative would have been admitting to an unbelievably massive breach of security.
Parodied - or at least they tried to, anyway. Sweaty bulging muscles, A faceless implacable enemy guilty of genocidal war crimes, big guns and comradeship. And if you don't fight you are a nonperson.
The troopers are also alarmingly blase about the horrible deaths happening around them sometimes. When the panicked general during the trap is crushed by a bug, Ace has this big grin on his face like "Hey, that was really cool!" And even during a panicked evacuation, killing one big bug is enough to get at least a couple of them cheering like they're at a football game, even while they're supposed to be running for their lives.
We Have Reserves: Both the Bugs and the humans apparently follow this philosophy.
When She Smiles: Say what you will about the third film in general, and about Holly in general, but the scene when the Drop Ship's lights come back on, and her face in turn lights up with a huge smile? Gorgeous.