Find yourself in space without an oxygen tank? Not a problem! Breathing in the vacuum of space is just as easy as breathing on Earth, especially if you are a superhero or somehow able to leave the atmosphere under your own power.
May also be related to Super Not-Drowning Skills and Harmless Freezing, since breathing while underwater or in a solid block of ice isn't really a big deal either.
In Real Life, people can theoretically survive in space for a few moments, given medical assistance afterwards. It is recommended to not hold your breath, as the internal pressure will cause your lungs to rupture.
It should also be noted that the Milky Way does have an extremely thin "atmosphere", the interstellar medium, held in place by the gravity of all of the material in the galaxy, but it's far too thin to do a living Earth creature any good (typical densities of the ISM are about 1 atom per cubic centimeter; the air you are breathing is about 10^19 - ten billion billion times more dense).
Often a form of Art Major Physics. When characters aren't just hanging out but talking in the great vacuum, you have Space Is Noisy. A form of The Needless. Also a form of Beyond the Impossible unless canon explains how they can do it. If everyone can do this, it's probably because Space Is Air.
A PBS promotion for Sesame Street briefly has Big Bird and a five-year-old girl on the Moon during the Apollo landings with no protection whatsoever.
Anime and Manga
In AKIRA, Tetsuo flies into space to blow up an orbital space laser. He's shown projecting an energy field around his body, presumably to protect against the vacuum of space. He also seemingly has no trouble breathing without an air supply. May be justified since at that point Tetsuo has massive Psychic Powers.
In the finale of Busou Renkin Kazuki and Victor end up fighting a duel for a month or so on the moon. They are a new evolution of humanity at that point in time, but still...
Digimon Frontier: Late on the series, our heroes end stranded in a moon, and there's no air problems. A Fan Sub actually lampshaded this. Then again, They're in the digital world. Everything is made of data, so real-world physics don't apply.
Doraemon - Doraemon has pocket gadgets that allows one to breathe in space without a suit.
In Dragon Ball, Son Goku uses his power pole to drop the rabbit-like Carrot Master and his thugs off on the moon. Neither Goku making the trip or the moon bound gang members suffer any ill effects likely due to anime physics.
Vegeta and Nappa are shown to be able to breathe in space, even though Frieza later claims that Saiyans cannot. This was in a brief filler episode where both Saiyan warriors are standing just outside their spaceships. Being in close proximity to their vessel's artificial atmosphere could possibly explain this.
Frieza's own species is strong enough to survive vacuum pressures and radiation, so they can float through space all they like.
Frieza's species may have evolved with the ability to use anaerobic respiration. Resisting vacuum pressures and radiation is a result of being strong enough to resist them from training or exposure to it, either that or energy manipulation to create an environment for resistance.
Cell, having Frieza's cells (Yeah...) can probably do the same thing, and does so in filler. The various forms of Majin Buu also have no problems moving around in space, nor does Baby from GT. Seems to be a trend across Dragon Ball villains.
Also, during the fight between Bardock and Frieza, Bardock is just floating in space kicking butt (or is at least in the outer atmosphere). Despite Frieza's claim, it seems Saiyans can breathe in space, or they can channel enough energy around them to create a shield of such to trap oxygen in however temporarily.
Plus, Bardock was only in the upper atmosphere for less than ten minutes.
In Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Beerus and Goku have a conversation and part of their fight in low Earth orbit. Justified for Beerus as he is a legitimate Physical God, but Goku had by that point lost the Super Saiyan God form. Several comments that Beerus makes suggest that Goku may have permanently ascended to "god" status... or at the very least, he has kept some of the upgrades offered by the Super Saiyan God form, even though that's not supposed to happen.
Galaxy Express 999 - Tetsuro is baffled to hear the sound of distant church bells as the 999 approaches a planet. Its inhabitants are so arrogantly pious that they have gravitational wave emitters which broadcast an intense graviton carrier wave which induces the sound of distant church bells in passing ships. Impressed, Tetsuro rolls down the window and sticks his head out to get a better look. note The Aesthetics of Technology is part of the setting — Technology has advanced so far that spaceships can be built to look like steam locomotives, so for all we know, there's a forcefield Hand Wave protecting Tetsuro.
GaoGaiGar - Guy Shishioh has survived in space without a space suit, but he was a cyborg at the time, later on, when he becomes an evoluder, he no longer needs anything to survive in space. Mamoru and Kaidou both can fly and survive for long periods in space un-aided, even while unconscious!
Glass Fleet: unless it's relevant to the plot that they don't, it's safe to assume that humans can breathe in space. There's only one time where it's relevant.
The highly evolved Silver Tribe in Heroic Age have this ability, as do the Nodos. Then again, the former can create matter out of nothing and the latter are giant superpowered space monsters in human form.
On the last episode of the Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel anime, the girls fly off to space via pure willpower to destroy a Kill Sat. They're also shown surviving re-entry into the atmosphere fine. Oddly, despite all her complaints of "How do we go to space?" and "How do we come back from space?", Kurumi never asks how are they breathing in space.
A number of characters in Sgt. Frog get away with this. Lampshaded in the Funimation dub, when the narrator complains about Space Police Officer Poyon walking around unprotected in space at the start of episode 11.
Kiddy Grade and Kiddy GiRL-AND have multiple examples of characters breathing in space, handwaved by the ubiquitous nanomist technology.
Mai-Otome. Some fans have tried to justify it by saying "Otome can breathe in space," but nanomachine enhancements would not change the fact that "Otome needs oxygen badly!" In the OVA Arika even takes the completely-normal Mashiro with her (for a sight-seeing tour of the world... no seriously, that's exactly what she says).
It's entirely possible that said sequences only take place in the outer atmosphere where some oxygen would still be present, although that still doesn't help the Mashiro example. Then there's the fact that Lena gets slammed into the side of the moon in Sifr...
The heroes from Night Wizard can move around in the moon with no problem whatsoever, and with no need of air either. Because they're wizards.
The third season of Sonic X. All the furries and alien beings can breathe, speak, and generally not die while strolling or freefalling in space without wearing anything other than their fur or clothes. It's even Lampshaded in one episode when Chris tells Tails, who is currently trimming the trees planted on the Blue Typhoon's runway, that trees don't thrive well in the vacuum of space. Oddly enough, all two human characters have to wear a space suit when space walking.
Early in the first season Sonic wing-walks the Blue Tornado into space, and promptly freezes when outside of Earth's atmosphere. He is fine when they re-enter it. Their own universe must have different laws, or something...
In Star Blazers/Space Battleship Yamato, our heroes can turn their regular uniform into a spacesuit just by putting on a helmet. This often leaves their neck or the back of their driving-glove-clad hands open to space, which realistically would produce massive bruising at best.
In Space Battleship Yamato: The New Journey, Desslok is shown standing on his ship without even a helmet. Also, his cape is billowing in the space-wind.
Really, that's par for the course for any Matsumoto production. The windows on the Galaxy Express 999 open, Harlock is often seen steering the Arcadia from his battle bridge - on top of his ship (next to the fluttering Skull and Crossbones flag) and Big One from Galaxy Railways has a balcony at the rear where you can stand and watch while your hair blows in the space-breeze.
The Zentraedi cannot actually breathe in space, but they're designed to have a greatly increased resistance to vacuum. Breetai gets Thrown Out the Airlock at one point, but then spends a minute or two crawling around outside the ship and jumps back in with no ill effects. In Macross Frontier, Ranka gets exposed to vacuum briefly, and is unhurt, which she chalks up to her quarter-Zentran ancestry.
Everyone in the Tenchi Muyo!OVAs appears to be able to breathe in space. This is probably the least strange thing about space in that series, so it doesn't stand out too much. The characters in the lower power-tier require spacesuits, but since they use hyper advanced technology, they don't look much to the part — invisible forcefields instead of helmets, and so on. Ayeka, Tenchi and Mihoshi all wear such suits early in the anime, but later Tenchi stops using his, due to realizing the power of the Light Hawk Wings. Usually handwaved by the fact that those who have any significant importance in Kajishima's canon are explicitly said to be Physical Gods and thus technically don't need to breathe.
Strangely, in the Tenchi in Tokyo timeline, Ryoko can still levitate, conjure fireballs, pass through walls, and perform short-range teleportation, but she can't breathe in space like in the OVA and Universe timelines.
Toward the Terra - Jomy and Soldier Blue can both breathe in space (and the initially-thin atmosphere of Naska), although this is attributed to their hyper-advanced Psychic Powers. Other Mu don't seem to have this ability.
Eneru from One Piece flew to the moon following his defeat and had no trouble walking around in just awesome pants. He is living lightning after all. That, and the One Piece'verse has only the vaguest resemblance to Real Life physics.
Yes! Pretty Cure 5 - The Pretty Cure 5 were able to fight on the moon without any problems. Presumably they consulted Sailor Moon on proper breathing-in-space technique.
Batman does this in one of the early issues of Justice League International(granted, it was due to the New Genesis-created training satellite's programming directive to not actually harm its opponents, thus causing it to create an artificial atmosphere when Bats's space helmet gets broken, but all the same).
One issue of Justice League of America showed Batman training himself, not to be able to breathe in space, but to at least survive the vacuum of space for a couple of seconds. The Martian Manhunter helps while wondering if he should.
Pretty sure one of the elseworlds has him actually breathing in space...
During the Trial By Fire storyline of JLA, Firestorm finds himself out on the moon, breathing normally. Then, he is attacked and transformed back into Ronnie Raymond. He is immediately unable to breathe or function, and it is only Flash's assistance that saves him.
However, even Superman is seen using a breathing apparatus in space in early Post-Crisis comics, though he has since kicked his oxygen addiction as part of his general muscling up to near Silver Age levels.
Nowadays, that just means that he can hold his breath for absurd lengths of time (as can several of his spaceworthy allies, like Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman). He's still working this trope, though, when he talks in space, which he's done in a couple recent issues of JLA.
In the video game Justice League Heroes, Martian Manhunter reminds Superman to hold his breath in the intro to a series of levels that take place on Mars. A few levels later, Superman and Wonder Woman are fighting in the vacuum of space and talking, screaming, and fairly obviously breathing. Inconsistency much?
Averted in some instances in that Superman has ridiculous lung capacity (due to his amazing strength being able to compress air in his lungs like an oxygen bottle). So a lot of the time Superman is simply holding his breath... then again, some of the time he's not.
And at one point he didn't even need to breath altogether: during Jeph Loeb's run on Superman during the time when Brainiac 13 upgraded Metropolis. Superman was suffering from Kryptonite Poisoning induced by a nanobot, and Steel, Superboy, and Supergirl were shrunk down to go into Superman and cure him. While there, Superboy and Steel got blown into Big Blue's stomach, which was "the intestinal equivalent of a nuclear reactor! This is the man's power source... his body's splitting atoms to convert them into pure energy"! The person talking was The Prankster in Steel's hijacked armor, so his scientific knowledge of the situation may not be accurate, and this was a few origin re-tellings ago....
As of the New 52, Kryptonians do not have to breathe. Supergirl discovers this when she gets surprised and gasps while swimming.
In Justice, Superman and Captain Marvel can survive in space without breathing - however, only Cap can talk, because he does it magically. Superman can't.
Speaking of Wonder Woman, her Silver Age version had earrings to provide life support in space by creating a "transparent envelope" (apparently "bubble" was too undescriptive). Since she was also sculpted from clay and brought to life through magic it is entirely possible she does in fact not need oxygen to survive.
Subverted in X-Men: What If Stryfe Killed Apocalypse, (somewhat before Fatal Attractions, set during the events of X-Cutioner's Song) where it is demonstrated that vacuum is one of the things which will, in fact, kill the shit out of Wolverine. If that were to happen today, he'd barely blink an eye. . .
Speaking of X-Cutioner's Song, there's one scene where Cyclops and Jean Grey escape one of Stryfe's fortresses and attempt to get away by crawling across the moon. Not only do they survive that brief point of time before they pass out. That's also counting the fact that there's also probably enough gravity that Jean can take a misstep and promptly faceplant onto the moon's surface and get a bloody nose.
Apollo of The Authority works this way. At one point he is asks how he operates in space, and responds that he just doesn't breathe. "Just like that?" "Well, I'd look pretty stupid if I tried to breathe in space, wouldn't I?" That's all the (non-)explanation we get.
And yet he can talk in space...
Jenny Quantum doesn't need to breathe either - apparently, taking little jaunts into space to "chase the sun" is a typical father/daughter thing for ridonkulously powerful superheroes. Since she's an Energy Being in human form, it might make sense. Or not.
Apollo, due to the way his powers work, is directly nourished by solar energy and solar energy alone. He doesn't need to eat or breathe. He probably doesn't need to sleep either, but that doesn't stop him from sharing a bed with Midnighter.
And he's married to Batman. Come on people, that was the easy one.
For that matter, Midnighter once mentioned that he and Apollo can survive in anaerobic environments, albeit briefly. That's right; the Bat-expycan breathe in space.
In the cartoon series, it was explained away as one of the properties of the flight rings
In Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan doesn't need to breathe, and momentarily forgets that ordinary humans do, he then provides Silk Spectre with a Legion style invisible forcefield. Mars is only slightly more human friendly than space.
In Invincible, any Viltrumite (plus Allen the alien) can survive in space so long as they hold their breath.
Which apparently is a very long time. Long enough to cross interstellar distances without a spaceship.
The Fantastic Four just use helmets— their uniforms double as spacesuits (except the Thing, his skin is tougher than any spacesuit) — the Space Activity Suit was still several years away from invention when the FF started this practice.
In PS238, they take a class excursion to the moon. The various superkids require various levels of protection, and Captain Clarinet (the son of a Superman Captain Ersatz) has some trouble explaining that he DOES, in fact, need to breathe, and thus goes up wearing a breathing-apparatus. (He still has no trouble with the radiation, temperature, or general vacuum-ness, though.) Then Emerald Gauntlet Jr. reveals that his Gauntlet can both provide a protective force-field AND gather oxygen-atoms from the surroundings to allow him to breathe. "I'm cool that way", as he puts it. Then he winds up marooned on the moon along with a few other students, including the Evil Genius Zodon, and suggests that he could just ferry them all back to Earth with his Gauntlet... only for Zodon to explain that, while he can probably gather enough oxygen to maintain breathing on the moon (the moon's consists of approximately 40% oxygen, though most of it is bound to silicon), the same cannot be said for interplanetary space.
If you're a comic book character simply ignoring physics is a valid option: in Trinity, Despero leaps out of his armada flagship to fight Green Lantern in space, when his lackey objects saying he has no space suit on, Despero merely shouts "Air is for cowards! Do it!" and he actually survives perfectly fine.
In the Sam & Max: Freelance Police comic episode, "Bad Day On The Moon", the eponymous duo blast off to the moon (via thousands and thousands of match heads stuffed into the DeSoto's tailpipe) with only a set of penny-conscious moon gear (paper bags with plastic eye holes to put over their heads) to protect them from the lack of atmosphere on the moon. But, despite Sam's preparedness (he brought a spare bag in case he ran out of air), it turns out that they can breathe easily on the moon, as Max exemplifies by taking his bag off to dig some moon dust out of his eye. Explained thusly:
Sam: So let me get this straight: We can breathe on the moon? Max: I guess those candy-butt astronauts never had the stones to try!
The Post-CrisisCaptain Atom originally couldn't breathe in space, and once, when an enemy teleported him to the outer solar system, he had to fly back to Earth while holding his breath, which he could only do for a normal amount of time. Later on, though, he learned to use his powers to create and manipulate matter to keep his lungs filled with air indefinitely, so he could stay in space as long as he wanted.
In Infinite Crisis, Superboy Prime jaw jacks with the entire Green Lantern Corps. in space. The Corps. are protected by their rings of course. When Earth 1 & 2 Supermen tackle Superboy Prime, they hold their breath while Prime keeps insulting them and throwing punches casually, until they throw him through the red sun of Krypton and fly him right into Mogo, a Planet that just happens to be a Green Lantern. Comics are weird.
The Mighty Thor plays this fast and loose. It's not specifically stated that he doesn't need to breathe, but he is shown surviving in space for short periods. The writers probably thought "He's a god, so why not?
Short periods? You mean like the time when he flew to space to intercept Skuttlebutt? Or when he and Beta Bill Ray flew with Sif in a chariot pulled by two goats into another galaxy to close a demonic gate? Yeah it took quite long time.
It's now confirmed that Thor can survive perfectly fine in space, considering he went round for round with the Phoenix Force (the entity itself, not the host) in deep space wearing nothing but his normal sparkly pants.
In Cerebus the Aardvark, during Cerebus' time on the Moon with the Judge at the end of Church and State II and the extensive "trek through the solar system" section in the last quarter of Minds, Cerebus and other characters have no space-faring gear of any sort.
Elegantly averted in Titan A.E., in which Korso and Cale make a magnificently scientifically-accurate "jump" from their damaged and drifting shuttle to the airlock of another ship. They even remember to exhale first, and are treated afterwards for frozen skin and decompression. In the novelization, they even shut their eyes and spray their faces with foam from the fire extinguisher before they make the jump, to protect the delicate tissue there. Hot damn.
In Treasure Planet, everyone can breathe in space. No explanation; they just... can. Chalk it up to Rule of Cool, since the whole movie treats space like an ocean. Space is called "The Aetherium". And there's all sorts of spaceborne organisms, like Space Whales.
Films — Live-Action
In Airplane II: The Sequel, after the Mayflower crash lands on the Moon, the passengers evacuate onto the surface without any breathing gear. Also, they can hear each other fine and there's apparently normal Earth gravity.
Dr. Evil: It's a flu shot. You've been in the coldness of space, I don't want you to get sick.
Near the end of The Black Hole the characters are inexplicably seen climbing from the Cygnus to the probe ship through the vacuum of space without space suits.
Gamera can breathe in space as well... he can fly too...
This essay describes the biology of Kaiju, such as how they can move, fly and Breathe In Space.
Justified in Jason X, as Jason is more or less undead.
In The Return of Hanuman, Hanuman fought against Rahu and Ketu in outerspace, with no space equipment whatsoever.
Parodied in Spaceballs, when Barf moves Princess Vespa to Lone Starr's ship, he just takes a ladder and climbs in her sun roof.
In Star Trek: First Contact, Borg drones stroll across the hull of the Enterprise without environmental suits. Presumably, their internal replicators (mentioned in series episode "I, Borg") supply them with whatever gases they need. Perhaps whatever turns their skin gray also maintains their internal pressure.
Given that the Borg don't need to eat it's entirely possible that they don't need to breathe. It's also possible forcefield trickery is at play, or those drones seen working on the Enterprise hull have been specifically modified to function in a vacuum.
In The Empire Strikes Back, while they use breathing masks at the time, when Han, Leia, and Chewy venture outside the Falcon while hiding in what turns out to be a giant space worm, they don't seem to have any protection against decompression. One could assume the asteroid was large enough to have enough of some semblance of an atmosphere, or that the worm's innards are responsible.
Abused in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: Superman talks in space. Solar Nuclear Man uses his super-breath in space. To freeze Superman. Lacy screams in space. And by that point, the brain melts, if it hadn't already from everything else wrong with that film.
And in a deleted scene, he takes the boy who wrote to him saying he should destroy all of Earth's nuclear weapons for a flight around the Earth, without a spacesuit. At least in the comic book adaptation he gives him one.
Hilariously, at the end of the film, after defeating Nuclear-Man and Luthor asks him how he did it, Superman begins his answer with the words "High school physics..."
During Superman II, Zod, Ursa and Non (well, him, not so much) had a lengthy conversation with each other about taking over the world whilst on the moon. As well as talking to an astronaut. Even if they could talk in space, he shouldn't be able to hear them through his air-tight helmet.
In Man of Steel, Superman briefly flies outside of Earth's atmosphere, despite the movie establishing that he needs to breathe. Although he might have been holding his breath.
Averted in the original Total Recall (1990), where the lack of a breathable atmosphere on Mars is a bit deal, even though the movie still fails biology since major decompression is shown to be survivable with no after effects or fatal trauma whatsoever. Once the atmosphere comes back you're instantly fine. Unless you're the bad guy.
Inelegantly averted in 12 to the Moon where NASA apparently coughed up the extra cash to replace the astronaut's faceplates with "invisible force-screens" that they make a point to mention before the crew steps out (read: They didn't want to fuss with trying to work camera lighting around proper helmets.)
Averted quite well in 2001: A Space Odyssey. During Bowman's famous emergency spacewalk from his pod to the Discovery, he's shown to be carefully hyperventilating before blowing out his breath so his lungs won't explode in the sudden vacuum.
The "explode" word is a bitoverblown... it would however quite tear them to the point of severe internal bleeding and inability to provide blood oxygenation. Also, it might hurt a bit.
Although hyperventilating doesn't really over-oxygenate your blood (the blood in your arteries is already holding just about all the oxygen it possibly can; anything below 95% of capacity is an indication that something's wrong, and below 90% is a cause for serious concern). It just lets you go longer before your breathe reflex (which is based on carbon dioxide levels) becomes overwhelming. That's why swimmers who hyperventilate before diving still run the risk of blacking out: they use up all their oxygen but are unaware and don't feel the need to surface for breath.
It's also significant that he really is only exposed to hard vacuum for a very short time - about twelve seconds or so. A fit adult could probably survive that without any serious medical effects.
Reginald Martin (under the pen-name E.C.Elliot) wrote a series of fourteen juvenile SF books featuring protagonist Kemlo and his friends, the "spaceborn". Merely by being born on an orbital space station, they gained the power to "breathe" in space, and needed to wear protective suits to enter an atmosphere.
In From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne, soon-to-be-shot-into-space adventurer Michael Ardan is asked whether it is not foolish, since there is little if no air on the Moon? "Then I will only breathe on special occasions!" he quips.
This book was written in 1865. That so much of it was correct is rather eerie.
Or rather not, as the concept of the SEP field is better summarised "not MY problem".
Sergei Pavlov's Moon Rainbow series feature some humans who entered into a symbiotic relationship with a (non-sentient) race of living Nanomachines, which apparently could do an instant and reversible matter-energy conversion on the whim, and thus acquired a whole bunch of cool super powers. One of these powers was that they didn't actually need to breathe anymore, as the symbiotes would supply required oxygen directly into the cells through the energy-matter conversion. But convincing one's own body that it doesn't need to do one of its most important functions was an another matter entirely. One of the main characters used up all his oxygen (it's a long story) and ended up suffering an extremely frustrating and futile desire to breathe... for a good six hours after his last bottle died. Though, he was still new to his powers yet.
In the Animorphs series, it's revealed that Andalites do not require space suits, instead simply wearing masks with a breathable gas that prevents decompression. It's... considerably less efficient for humans, and merely draws out the process of suffocation in space.
Spider Robinson's Stardance novels wind up with humanity dividing into air-breathers and space-farers, through the consumption of some reddish gunk found in Titan's atmosphere. The spacers can live quite normally in vacuum with their biological symbiote/suits.
H.P. Lovecraft's work features not one, but three alien species, not counting the famed Cthulhu himself, who are capable of flying through space completely naked. Cthulhu, the Byakhee and the Mi-Go may get a pass, since they're explicitly said to be extradimensional beings made of exotic matter, but the Starfish Aliens known as the Elder Things are not. It is explained that they "absorbed certain chemicals" in preparation for their journey through space, though at least on Earth the required knowledge was later lost.
In the sci-fi series Akiko, this is handwaved hilariously when the eponymous character takes her first trip into space in a roofless shuttle—there's plenty of air in space!
In John Varley's Eight Worlds books and stories, wherein humanity has been driven from the Earth by enigmatic aliens and is forced to live on the other worlds of the Solar System, humans are often fitted with a portable force-field generator which operates automatically when they walk from pressurised to unpressurised areas. The force-fields merge when brought together so that people can embrace and make love in vacuum. Meanwhile, in the rings of Saturn, the Symbs are humans who live in symbiosis with biological, semi-sentient spacesuits. They spend their entire lives in vacuum, the symbiots providing them with all the oxygen they need and recycling their waste for nutrition via photosynthesis.
In a novel from Star Trek: The Lost Era, a Neyel transported aboard a ship after being blown out into space isn't quite dead after all; it turns out Neyel have engineered themselves to survive vacuum for a time. As is pointed out, they're not the only race who can survive space; mention is made of the Nasat, a nod to Starfleet Corps of Engineers.
Averted and played with in the Lensman series. In Gray Lensman Kimball Kinnison breathes space just long enough to close the airlock he was standing in when his spacesuit got punctured, and when he looks at himself afterwards: "Eyes, plenty bloodshot. Nose, bleeding copiously. Ears, bleeding, but not too badly; drums not ruptured, fortunately - he had been able to keep the pressure fairly well equalized. Felt like some internal bleeding, but he could see nothing really serious. He hadn't breathed space long enough to do any permanent damage, he guessed." But then, much later in Children of the Lens, Kinnison undercover as the writer Sybly Whyte produces: "Fools! Did they think that the airlessness of absolute space, the heatlessness of absolute zero, the yieldlessness of absolute neutronium, could stop QADGOP THE MERCOTAN?"
In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Givin race evolved on a world whose wacky lunar orbits regularly robbed areas of atmosphere. As a result the Givin developed an exoskeleton that doubles as a spacesuit. The Force Did It.
In Know no Fear, Roboute Guilliman is vented into space and presumed dead. Several chapters later, he reappears none the worse for wear despite being exposed to hard vacuum (or at least the thin edge of Calth's atmosphere) for a significant amount of time. The cover illustration depicts him fighting on the outer hull of a starship in this manner. It helps that he's a Super Soldier to the super-soldiers.
In Book of the Short Sun, the alien Inhumi are supposedly able to fly unaided and unprotected between planets. It is left as an exercise to the reader to decide whether this is actually possible, even in-universe.
The novel "Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of Thonboka" by L. Neil Smith, had the Oswaft, aliens who evolved in space and were perfectly happy there, absorbing enough loose atoms in a nebula to grow bigger than aircraft carriers. They could even do hyperspace jumps.
Peter F. Hamilton's "Fallen Dragon" has some people encounter immense creatures engineered to serve as a kind of galactic library. They orbit red giant stars and live off the radiation and the matter in the solar wind.
In Doctor Who, it is established that due to their alien biology, Time Lords such as the Doctor can survive in the vacuum of space without the need for external protection.
However, while Time Lords do not need space suits, they still need oxygen to breathe. There was one notable instance in which the Fifth Doctor had to go outside a ship into the vacuum of space, but all he took with him was an oxygen tank from a medical kit. Other episodes establish that Time Lords have a "respiratory bypass", which allows them to survive being strangled. Its not clear if this means a Time Lord can survive for even longer periods in space, although they would be unconscious (whereas the Fifth Doctor needed to repair something on the outside of the ship so he had to stay conscious, so he took oxygen with him).
Taken to heavy levels in The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, where the Eleventh Doctor can not only breathe, but can talk in space without the need of a spacesuit or space helmet (He still needs a spacesuit, as he falls to Earth afterwards).
In The Rings of Akhaten, he flies through deep space on a scooter with literally no protection whatsoever. He is later talking to Grandfather, the sentient planet and is heard despite almost whispering, and the other person being miles away in space.
In the KTMA "Season Zero", there is a series of episodes where Joel is absent, as the bots locked him out of the Satellite as a prank. When he makes it back inside and they question his survival, he tells them to relax.
Stingwingers bodily disembarked from the Scorpion Stinger into the vacuum of space to destroy two of the Megazords in the episode "Journey's End".
Ironically, the villains themselves were robots, and would naturally have no problem with vacuum. The horses, on the other hand, were, to all appearances, perfectly normal horses.
There are canonically indigenous bats living on the moon in the PR universe, per Turbo. Plus, Merrick's Ranger form is named for the LUNAR wolf... which stops being silly when you consider the lifeforce of his monstrous Org alter ego Zen-Aku is bound to the moon's own ecosystem.
Rita, Zedd, Finster, Goldar, and Rito wander around the surface of the moon to no ill effect for the entire second half of Power Rangers Zeo. They even watch television. There's something approaching an Earth-normal atmosphere there.
It's also much, much closer than our Moon, as Rita can watch her monsters fight in real-time from there and also throw her staff from her palace to the battle-site in under a second. Unless she really is accelerating the thing to ~3c with magic... but then why make the monsters in the first place when you could rain superluminal moon-rocks on people?
Maybe she can but doesn't - that falls under the usualFridge Logic of PR villains' Monster of the Week approach, like "why don't they attack the Rangers at home at night?"
Additionally, in the In SpaceCrossover episode "Shell Shocked", the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can also breathe in space - they go for a ride on the Rangers' Galaxy Gliders. In a bit of meta-irony, the TMNT franchise died (until 2003) shortly after.
For the most part, Farscape manages to avoid this trope, the exception being D'Argo. Apparently Luxans can survive unprotected in space for "a quarter-arn", and in the miniseries he uses this ability to keep someone else alive longer than they normally could have. Also, in the mini-arc "Look At The Princess", John Crichton manages to hold his breath long enough to float from one craft to another. Even though the air pressure will rupture your lungs, that's why you don't hold your breath in a vacuum, though that's the least of that scene's problems with science . . .
The Martian Manhunter on Smallville not only can survive in space, being in Earth's atmosphere actually inhibits his Healing Factor. Well, he is from Mars, air's a lot less thick and oxygenated over there.
Lois and Clark sees Superman hanging around in space without any protective gear. Then, just as everyone's convinced that he can do that because he's Superman, he takes Lois for a trip up there with him. Without any sort of breathing apparatus. And has a conversation with her there.
Lexx, being a rather low budget Canadian/German TV series (and fueled by the MST3K Mantra for the most part) gave its characters spacesuits consisting of... a helmet with a plastic visor covering the eyes. That's all. Also, the "moth" spaceships they used had noticeably plastic doors. But it was all part of the charm.
The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica featured a season 3 episode where the Chief and Cally are forced to do an unprotected spacewalk (really just a jump into a waiting Raptor) when an airlock malfunctions and seals them in.
Treated pretty realistically, Cally is in pretty bad shape afterwards but the Chief is mostly OK, but then he IS a cylon and thus can be expected to be a bit tougher to environmental hazards.
Rammstein in their video for "Amerika", where they appear on the Moon in astronaut suits but without helmets. Justified, since the Moon surface where they perform is revealed In-Universe to be just a set.
In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's Spaceman Spiff persona is once seen repairing his spaceship without adequate vacuum protection. This is Artistic License on the part of the character rather than the author.
Calvin himself breathes in space just fine, such as in the strips where he sneezes himself into orbit, grows too large to stand on the Earth, or flies to Mars with Hobbes on his wagon.
If the backglass and Astral Finale of Junk Yard are taken into consideration, the player character flies into space with nothing but a fish bowl for oxygen.
The Match Sequence for The Party Zone shows Captain B. Zarr flying through outer space in his rocket, with the cockpit open and exposing him to vacuum with no ill effects.
The Rule of Fun/Cool physics of the Dungeons & Dragons setting Spelljammer allow this: there is no oxygen in space, but whenever an object goes into space, it takes an "envelope" of air with it. So everyone can breathe in space, for a minute or handful on their own. The amount of air is proportional to the size of the object, which helps the crew of a huge ship, but not a giant, for example, since it uses proportionally as much air. After a while, the air becomes stale and eventually runs out, though far-traveling ships usually avoid it with air-creating spells or plants. Escape velocity or burning up in the atmosphere aren't problems - if you go up high enough, you end up in space, simple as that. All of this was designed to allow Space Pirates to stand on the decks of their wooden ships... In Space. Incidentally, the way gravity works is even weirder.
And that's within the solar system containing crystal spheres. Outside, the universe is filled with volatile, gaseous phlogiston. You still have to worry about running out of air, but if you do, breathing phlogiston places living things in suspended animation. People preserved thusly can be revived even millennia later by giving them fresh air, with only a slight chance of death from shock. Putting people in air tight coffins for trips between crystal spheres makes for the ultimate budget travel option!
Not actually true. They can, however, hold their breath for quite some time, and they do have specific adaptations that can create a hardened layer over the skin as a sort of organic vacuum suit, plus the ability to voluntarily enter a sort of deep coma with a metabolic rate near zero. So they can survive prolonged exposure, but breathing isn't how they do it.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse features a type of shapeshifting wererats known as the Munchmausen Ratkin who, in addition to ignoring temperatures of absolute zero or burning hot lava, don't suffocate in a vacuum. It's heavily implied that they can do this because they're batshit insane.
In Mage: The Ascension, mages could breathe in space. Technocracy mages could not, since they were committed to a worldview (!) that included "no air in space". (One sourcebook recommends recruiting any Technocracy mage who can breathe in space, because they're clearly rejecting Technocracy views or they'd die trying this.)
During the last level of Binary Boy, both the Boy and a few other humanoid characters can walk around in space without protection just fine (even though the Boy did need a scuba mask when going underwater.)
Billy: We'd better hold our breath, this is a hard vacuum.
Jimmy: Good idea, bro!
The DuckTales NES game has a moon level, yet Scrooge McDuck doesn't get sprites of him in a space suit. Parodied here:
"Wait Uncle Scrooge you need a suit out there! How are you alive? You need heat! Also air!"
The remake finally explains why Scrooge can do that. He's been chewing oxygen-flavored taffy (Though this doesn't explain how he can survive the extreme cold and lack of air pressure, among other things).
Duke Nukem waffles on this. In Duke Nukem 3D, Duke can handle the vacuum of space just fine with only a t-shirt and a cigar for defense. In Duke Nukem Forever however, Duke needs to hold his breath to walk on the surface of the moon. Still Beyond the Impossible, but it seems that Duke's spacesuit-grade lungs went the same way as his ability to carry more than two guns at once during his twelve year break. Duke is seen wearing a spacesuit on the postcards that came with the Balls of Steel Edition of Forever (also featured on the walls in a few spots in the casino level.) Presumably Duke didn't want to demasculate the other astronauts when that shot was taken. Space Suit was an planned inventory item that would have activated automatically like the Scuba Gear. In the pre-release 1.0 demo leak, it changes Duke's speed/physics to moon conditions while letting him survive in the vacuum of space. However, only one such vacuum area was built (in the level Dark Side) so the Space Suit was turned into a decorative sprite, and the vacuum area was altered slightly with a forcefield so that it could be played normally. It's still in the Zoo demo level, so its cutting must have been a late one.
Final Fantasy IV has the party travel to the moon. They can walk around on the moon without needing anything to help them breathe.
In Half-Life The aliens that live on Xen before being teleported to Earth all appear to be able to breath as well. Either they can all Breathe in Space, or Xen has some form of atmosphere similar to Earth.
The atmosphere would have to be similar between Earth and Xen; the Xenians wouldn't be able to survive for very long on Earth if it wasn't.
In Portal, Chell, seems to get by okay on the moon for a good twenty seconds or so, although this is presumably with all the air from Aperture Science being sucked toward her through the portal she placed up there (plus, in Real Life, death in vacuum is neither guaranteed nor instantaneous, popular portrayals notwithstanding), and she does ultimately pass out once brought back to Earth.
The Kirby series featured many levels or scenes that take place in space, most of them with the little pink hero traveling on the Warp Star. In Kirby Mass Attack, Daroach even lampshades it when talking about a level that takes place on an asteroid: "How can you even breathe in space?" The oddest thing may not even be him surviving, since he's an alien but the fact Kirby is still able to vacuum up everything in sight when there is no air.
Mass Attack is also where Kirby is too weak to survive underwater anymore but space seems to take less effort.
In Mass Effect 1, every squad member wears a completely sealed helmet in any remotely hazardous location, including ones without any atmosphere. Mass Effect 2 lets this slide; half the team wears nothing more than a breath mask in hard vacuum (though Zaeed's admittedly covers his entire face). Special mention to Jack, who goes about in her usual Stripperiffic outfit and a breath mask.
In Mass Effect 3, DLC squadmate Javik doesn't wear as much as an oxygen mask in vacuum. Apparently, Protheans really can breathe in space. This is also the result of certain DLC looks for squaddies - Ashley and James can apparently survive with just a visor or headset.
Averted in the opening to Mass Effect 2. The Player Character gets spaced and his/her suit punctured, resulting in death as expected. Or not expected, as getting your suit shot full of holes in a space level doesn't have any such effect during gameplay.
In the case of in-game, it is probably Gameplay and Story Segregation to avoid unfun levels of any Health damage being fatal, and lore wise all hits would be taken by the Kinetic/Biotic Barriers.
In Metroid Prime, not only can Ridley breathe in space, he can fly directly from a space frigate to the surface of the planet it orbits without burning up while entering the planet's atmosphere! Oddly enough, in Metroid Zero Mission he does fly a spaceship to the surface of Zebes.
The "burn up in the atmosphere" thing is just because of the velocity you hit the atmosphere with. The shuttle, for example, has to deal with the heat because it has to slow down from orbital velocity (which is really friggin' fast, relatively) in order to land. If you had some way of "hovering" above a planet without orbiting, you could descent with relative ease.
It also helps that Ridley is a Space Dragon, and they probably got that name for a reason.
We never see exactly how Ridley gets to Ceres and back. It's entirely possible he's taking a spaceship. After all, in Zero Mission he most certainly did not fly to Zebes through space, he was hitching a ride on the Pirate Mothership.
If Ridley can withstand the heat of his hideout in Norfair (Which Samus needs the Varia suit for), he can probably survive a little re-entry.
At the end of Persona 3, the main character's Universe Persona allows him to levitate unaided into outer space for the final battle. Then again, he makes the trip from Earth to the core of Nyx's embodiment (the Moon) in just a minute or two from everyone's perspective, so some sort of metaphysical transportation might be involved. Whichever the reason is, it is presumably why he doesn't need a spacesuit.
Ratchet can survive wearing no protection on baby planets that logically shouldn't hold any atmosphere. He did gain an O2 helmet in the first game and presumably still has it — not that they alter his model to include it in any of the subsequent games. The mask still leaves his upper face and tail exposed to hard vacuum with no ill effects.
Curiously, in the Gemlik Base level in the first game, Captain Qwark is inexplicably able to breathe and talk in the open vacuum of space when confronting Ratchet, who needed an O2 mask just to transverse the level. This is odd considering Up Your Arsenal had him bragging about how he spent six days clinging to Dr. Nefarious' spaceship, while holding his breath the whole trip.
In Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal, Ratchet has a helmet with a visor that normally only covers his eyes, but it extends to cover his whole face and a rebreather appears automatically upon Ratchet entering a vacuum, diving underwater, or entering certain toxic atmospheres. There are still some baby planets where the rebreather doesn't activate, but these worlds also tend to have plants and animals that are apparently doing just fine out there, so this trope may still be in effect.
Plus in the Future games, the O2 mask was changed from a full helmet to a small face mask.
It varies in the Sonic the Hedgehog games; most stages set in space don't have a problem with breathing, but there are some exceptions, especially any stage where only Super forms are permitted. It may be possible that the other space station-based stages have artificial atmosphere.
In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic is only exposed to vacuum briefly when either reaching the Death Egg while grabbing onto Robotnik's rocket ship, or leaving the space station as it explodes and falling towards the planet. This naturally shifts the focus for suspension of disbelief from not needing air into surviving re-entry.
This game also has a relatively lengthy True Final Boss fight set outside the Death Egg in high orbit, however, it requires Sonic to be in Super or Hyper mode which is invulnerable anyway.
Super Sonic can still DROWN when he's underwater for too long without breathing in an air bubble. (Although this feature is not present in Sonic the Hedgehog 4) So he has to breathe when he's underwater, but not when he's in space. Hyper Sonic can't drown, though.
And in Sonic Adventure 2, even though characters can get sucked out of the space station through broken windows, none of them have any trouble breathing in the vacuum when they venture outside.
Meanwhile, Sonic X ignores this and has Sonic and (non-human) friends in space with no troubles breathing at all.
Used and averted in Sonic Robo Blast 2. Various parts of Egg Rock Zone involve entering a hard vacuum, and you will run out of air pretty quickly. But then, you finish the zone and get to the Final Boss, and your character can breathe in space just fine.
While Terrans in Starcraft all wear heavy powered armor that doubles as an environment suit, Zerg and Protoss foot-soldiers seem to have no problems whatsoever operating in the vacuum of space without protective gear. While the manual handwaves this for the Zerg as the result of their having assimilated a spaceborne race in the backstory, there's no explanation for why the Protoss can breathe in space. They may not need to as they don't have any recognizable mouth or nostrils through which to breathe anyway.
A close look at the victory screen when playing as Protoss reveals what appears to be a respirator, as well. Their shields may also play a part.
It's since been shown that the Protoss are photosynthetic, they only need light to survive.
In the Space battles in Star Wars Battlefront 2, there exists a glitch where you can exit a capital ship without a fighter, and (after some frustration) walk around on top of it. Gravity works as normal, and you don't take any damage. It is averted, however, on Polis Massa, as you take steady damage outside of the facility (unless you are playing a droid).
In Super Mario Galaxy, the issue is never brought up and Mario can just breathe in space as if it were filled with air. Then again, there is a conspicuous "woosh" sound when he flies from planet to planet; maybe that space is filled with air...
Strangely averted in Super Paper Mario, where Tippi will insist that you need to get a "space helmet" (Which is just an empty goldfish bowl) before you can start chapter 4 proper. You're then given the option to be a wise guy by refusing to put it on, with an appropriate result.
And in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, he didn't need anything to breathe, either on the moon or in transit to it. Even though travel consisted of being shot from a cannon. Goombella realizes and lampshades this if you ask her about the moonbase's entryway. It's because paper doesn't need oxygen.
According to Mazinger Z, the Boss Borot has an open-air cockpit. But when Mazinger Z appears in Super Robot Wars, the Boss Borot can be deployed in space just fine without apparent modifications (it will perform like crap due to having a terrible rating for space combat, but in both Mazinger Z and Super Robot Wars the Boss Borot is a Joke Character anyways). This actually has a Justification: any mech (not just Borot) that isn't airtight simply has the pilot wear a spacesuit.
Also, Rom Stoll can talk in space as he does his lectures. However, he's a robot.
Whenever Yoko uses her sniper rifle attack of the Yoko M Tank on outer space terrain in Super Robot Wars Z2.
La Tale has several dungeons that take place both inside and outside a space station. The only effect it has on you is an enhanced jumping ability.
Touhou: Anyone can breathe in space... as long as it's the fantasy version. If you cross the border of the fantastic and the real when you're on the moon, you die.
The true final stage of Imperishable Night takes place halfway between Earth and Moon. One of the heroines actually lampshades it.
In Silent Sinner in Blue, Sakuya opens a window while inside a flying spaceship.
During Tenshi's Last Spell in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, you are fighting on top of stone pillars reaching above the atmosphere.
Tumble Pop has the last two levels set in outer space and on the Moon, but the sprite of the main characters remains the same.
In World of Warcraft, you can fly over the Twisting Nether while in Outland, which given Outland's broken nature, would be an area of questionable atmosphere. You can also fly to the flight ceiling with no worries about the air running thin. This is a fantasy world, meaning the explanation is just a simple hand wave away.
You could argue that (ignoring game mechanics) the reason your character stops at the sky box is because the air's gotten too thin to go any higher comfortably - especially since the sky box isn't that far up.
You also can only do that in specific locations, say, between two of the outstanding peninsula and some of the floating islands. Trying to wing off in a random direction for long enough will subject you to 'Fatigue,' which will eventually kill you. This could be the game mechanic equivalent of running out of oxygen.
Its also worth pointing out that the Twisting Nether isn't space. Space in the Warcraft universe is called The Great Dark. The Twisting Nether is kind of like hyperspace, mixed with hell. Point being, it's magic.
Prior to the Dev Team declaring only those things to be canon that are in-game, it was canon that the Twisting Nether was a dimension in which thoughts became reality and the laws of physics were irrelevant. Outland was yanked into the Twisting Nether by the events of Warcraft II.
Xenosaga has chaos able to survive in space (for an unspecified amount of time) and talk too. Probably Justified, as he's the personification of Anima and (the power behind) Jesus.
In the Felix the CatLicensed Game for the NES, there is a level where you must travel through space. This in fact averts this trope—your magic gives you a spaceship, but losing your magic makes you die instantly, as does your magic timing out (so you have to keep on refilling your magic meter). Makes for a surprisingly difficult level.
The Super Smash Bros. series plays this straight with the Star Fox stages. Brawl actually parodies this with one of Fox's Codec conversations, where Slippy gives this trope quite the Lampshade Hanging. You can hear more about it right here.
Space Channel 5 is inconsistent with this one. Some levels show Ulala in outer space while wearing a full spacesuit, but at the end of the game she leads a parade through hard vacuum without even an oxygen supply.
Starkiller in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. He flees the planet Kamino in Darth Vader's starfighter, the TIE Advanced x1. Every official schematic of said vehicle asserts that it has no life support system (Like every other part of the TIE line, hence why the TIE Pilots wear those costumes).
The reason of which is another, more logical example in the SWU at large. Darth Vader, thanks to his "armor" being a glorified life-support system, is essentially always in a space suit. Early drafts of a A New Hope even had him fly through space (The Force?).
Putt-Putt and Pep can breathe in space perfectly well in Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon. Strangely, Pep does wear a helmet at first, but loses it as soon as they land on the moon.
In Kid Icarus: Uprising, everyone can breathe in space with no problem. Then again, that's probably the least unrealistic (and most consistent) aspect of space in that game, plus we don't see any mortals from Earth up there, just demons, space pirates, and an angel or two. Pit has to hold his breath underwater though.
Lampshaded in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten: During the penultimate chapter, the protagonists go to the moon to stop the Big Bad's plans of destroying the world. Fuka, the only human in the group, immediately notices that she can breathe normally. Fenrich explains that angels and demons don't need oxygen, neither does Fuka, because she's technically dead.
While all units in MechWarrior Living Legends are air-tight and have closed life support systems, nothing particularly bad happens to the pilot of a BattleMech or a Battlearmor when their cockpit is breached and exposed to the elements - even on a map like Extremity or Inferno
They can't exactly breathe in space, but according to the X-Encyclopedia the Paranids can survive unprotected in hard vacuum for about forty minutes on average.
Lampshaded in Lunar Defense Force, a fangame in which Shroobs are about to invade Equestria and Princess Luna fights them on the moon.
Shroob number whatever: Am I the only one who can't breathe?
The ending of Super Heroine Chronicle has both Original Generation girls Noel Kazamatsuri and Meru Ransheru to breathe and talk in space. They also stop a space ship that somehow is attracted to Earth's gravity when said space ship is nowhere near Earth.
Shortpacked! is the Trope Namer ("How would he know? Has he tried?"). More recent strips show that, while Bruce Wayne can breathe in space, Dick Grayson can't. One Bigger Than Cheeses comic lampshades this with the title "Breathing in space doesn't help on the sun"—the comic itself is about what would really happen in a fight between Batman and Superman. Also, neither can The Flash... oops!
In Schlock Mercenary, the F'sherl-Ganni genetically modified themselves to let them survive in space for brief periods of time, while carbosilicate amorphs don't breathe in any normal sense (though they do have to protect their eyes from vacuum damage - by swallowing them). Trope namer referenced almost to the letter here, with Shortpacked! mentioned in that strip's note.
Aylee's species doesn't need to breathe and was originally found in the vacuum of space. When she forgets that humans do need to breathe, Hilarity Ensues.
Lodoze, a parody of Lobo, can apparently breathe in space because he's so tough. (Although, as Bun-bun puts it shortly before making short work of him, it's easy to be "tough" when you're completely invulnerable.)
Terinu - Terinu freaks his companions when he demonstrates this ability in an early issue of the comic. All There in the Manual explains that since his race was designed to be used as power sources on ships, they were designed with extreme survival measures in mind, with special mucous filling their lungs and nasal passages and forming a transparent shell over their eyes to prevent damage, and using their Bion abilities to provide energy to their bodies in lieu of blood oxygen.
The titular character of Vexxarr frequently makes space walks (or whatever his species does) with no more protection than a sweater. Apparently Bleen only need to breathe once a week or so, like eating. There's also the "rock crabs" who live in space and their silicoid predators.
It turns out that Tennyo from the Whateley Universe can fly through space, because she just doesn't need to breathe. Or other stuff. And, based on her DNA, she's not anything close to human.
While there are several heroes and villains in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe who are immune to all the problems usually involved with vacuum exposure (usually by way of being otherwise invulnerable), nearly all of them still need to breathe (they use some form of breathing apparatus when they do go into space). The ones who don't need to breathe are either Energy Beings, or else are The Shield (whose immunity to injury includes an immunity to suffocation).
Several Looney Tunes shorts (primarily in the The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Show / The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show show the characters doing this, particularly Bugs Bunny in the Marvin the Martian Episodes, and Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers. Even Porky Pig and Sylvester could survive in space after a flying saucer takes them into space on top of the spacecraft, having cut out underneath their campsite.
The Magic School Bus does this in a holiday episode, where Arnold takes off his space helmet on Pluto. The result? His head turns to ice, and the audience gets nightmares. However, the very next shot is of him sitting in the classroom, blowing his nose due to a serious cold he got. Because that's the worst thing that ever happened from taking off your helmet on Pluto.
"An excellent question, but not even remotely the point."
Ben 10 also features several alien species which can survive just fine in space, one of which Ben transformed into in order to continue fighting.
In fact, it appears to be that everything can breathe in space except humans, since every time he's been in space his alien forms have been able to breathe.
Averted in more recent episodes: Ultimate Spidermonkey was unable to breathe in the vacuum of space.
Lampshaded in an episode of Ben 10: Omniverse, where after boarding a derelict spaceship Ben takes off his helmet without bothering to check whether there's still atmosphere. His new partner Rook asks how he knew it would be okay, and Ben just responds that it's never been a problem in the past.
Plo Koon in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Even though he has a mask, it's actually an air filter rather then a breathing device. It's explained in supplementary materials as a property of his thick Kel Dor skin. Not that weird, really, considering there are other species in the Star Wars Expanded Universe that survive in vacuum through similar means (like the Givin, to name one). Curiously, Koon explains in the episode that he will be able to "endure the pressure for a short time," despite the fact that, in space, it is the LACK of pressure that he would need to endure. (Maybe he was referring to his internal pressure?)
ThunderCats don't bother about breathing gear either when they venture into space. And they don't even bother handwaving it... suppose it could have to do with their magic/tech catsuits?
One humor fic had fun with this, with Jaga, during his long sojourn piloting the ship all alone, becomes suicidal and throws open an airlock... only to be flummoxed by discovering that ThunderCats can apparently breathe in space. (Tigra makes an editorial comment about how he hadn't noticed before, but that they can and it's really weird.)
Not even just the cats. Mandora may have been a gynoid, but Captain Bragg and his circus, and when he hauls the Lunattacks and Mutants to Exile Island (an asteroid with its own problems).
In the Sam & Max: Freelance Police episode "Bad Day On The Moon", Sam and Max are able to breathe on the moon (which has no atmosphere) without special equipment, Max shrugs it off by saying "I guess those prissy paranoid astronauts didn't have the spine to try it." Given that the characters reach the moon by driving there in a 1960 Desoto convertible, this is not that surprising.
The episode was adapted from the comic of the same name, where the line is "those candy-butt astronauts didn't have the stones to try it."
The ability to breathe on the moon isn't even handwaved for the game Bright Side of the Moon, which provides the page image.
League of Super Evil: Skullosus tangles with a military guy over a cold ray, succeeds, and retreats to his space station. Shortly thereafter, the military guy, with no space-suit, pops up in the base. He got there by the helicopter hovering just outside the window, and Skullousus incredulously points out that should be impossible:
"Helicopters in space? How does that even work?!"
"No time to quibble over logic!"
Starfire in the Teen Titans animated series is explicitly stated to be able to survive the conditions of space. In the comics back in the 80s, it was explained that her species breathes nitrogen, which at the time was believed to be highly prevalent in space. It was recently retconned to hydrogen which is present in space, but considering how thinly it is spread... And the fact that hydrogen is a fuel, not an oxidizer. Nitrogen at least is a weak oxidizing agent, but hydrogen is a reducing agent, meaning that a hydrogen metabolism would use hydrogen in place of FOOD, not oxygen.
The Bugs from Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles can walk sans spacesuits across the surface of Pluto, an asteroid, a steaming alien jungle, the deserts of a methane planet, the ocean floor off Hawaii, and the shore of same with equal ease.
The ghosts in Danny Phantom don't seem to need to breathe, both Danny and Vlad in ghost form flies around in outer space without any problem. Danny and Vlad did wear a spacesuit helmet, though the latter survived the lack of air just fine without one—without the rest of the suit it would have been pretty useless. They are half-ghosts.
Lobo rides a rocket motorcycle through space without life support. He can also talk in space unaided, something no-one else in the DCAU can do.
Averted in another JLU episode, where Superman breaks out of the Watchtower and flies into space to stop the Watchtower's hijacked railgun from firing on CADMUS and Superman is pretty weakened and beat up afterwards. Most likely not actually averted, as he seemed just fine until the gigantic fusion beam cannon fired about 10 feet in front of him.
During the episode "The Return", a wave of superheroes attempts to stop Amazo before he enters orbit. Of them, only Superman needed special gear. Green Lantern gets a pass because his ring generates life support. S.T.R.I.P.E. does wear a suit of Powered Armor, so it's probably self-contained. Captain Atom is composed of pure energy and doesn't need to breathe. Orion's flight-rig can generate atmosphere. Starman isn't human. The only weird one in that mix was Dr. Light, who somehow copied GL's trick.
An especially funny moment in Superman: The Animated Series has Bizarro flying into space only to begin suffocating a few hundred kilometres out, forgetting that Bizarro needs oxygen badly.
The rule appears to have been revoked for Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (which is near enough to a DCAU story that it fits here), as Superman is shown in the first scenes flying unaided in space.
Yeah, but Superman is voiced by Mark Harmon in that, and he can do anything Batman can.
In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, during the first episode, Batman is shown occasionally in space without breathing gear. Plus, the breathing gear he gets is just a plastic covering of the mouth hole in his suit.
Then again, with that hole plugged, the suit covered his entire body. Being that this was a heavily gadget-laden Batman, perhaps the suit was self-contained?
People breathing is space is one of the less bizarre aspects of how space works in SilverHawks. SilverHawks and ThunderCats use most of the same wonky rules for space, being by the same creators. There's air, gravity, and in the case of SilverHawks, night and day by virtue of switching on a gigantic light on a schedule. Ironic, as the show pretends to educate children about astronomy and space facts. Granted, the SilverHawks are explicitly stated to be full-conversion cyborgs and Limbo to be an Alternate Universe. God only knows what the rules are there.
Fireball XL 5. Need to breathe in space? Take an oxygen pill. No spacesuit necessary. Lasts for hours.
She-Ra: Princess of Power - Averted but later subverted in the episode "Horde Prime Takes a Holiday". She-Ra climbs an unbreakable grappling hook (that He-Man pulled out of his pants... yeah...) to Horde Prime's spaceship. Once she gets to the upper atmosphere she remarks that she's having a hard time breathing, so she turns her sword into a space helmet (don't ask, it's She-Ra). She continues the trip to the spaceship with nothing but a space helmet and her skimpy outfit. Later on though she takes the helmet off to turn it back into a sword and cut the rope.
Played straight in other episodes, one of which began with She-Ra and Swift Wind taking a leisurely flight through space without a care and another had He-Man talking and breathing with no trouble, despite being in the space between galaxies. It could be justified that they were transformed into their super-powered alter-egos.
He-Man himself can breathe in space in The New Adventures of He-Man. However, the series consistently shows that, even if He-Man can breathe in space, the Galactic Guardians need at least a minimal space gear. It's never outright stated, though.
In one episode, the main characters were floating in space with no suit and breathing. When Timmy asked how this was possible, he was told this was a TV Show. Justified, as they were in a Show Within a Show based on Space Ghost.
In The Powerpuff Girls, the girls frequently end up in space for one reason or another, and have no trouble breathing, talking, shouting, or, in The Movie, hearing screams and gasps from the Earth while on an asteroid. Depending on the Writer: in one episode they did have spacesuits on.
Used frequently in Super Friends. Actually, usually only Superman went into space without breathing equipment. Nonetheless, the other Super-Friends were able to survive with just fishbowl helmets. Oh, and Space was Noisy.
While Futurama generally averts this, only the robotic Bender not requiring a space suit, the "talking in space" issue is not averted. Then again, in a series where vessels can easily travel between galaxies despite not travelling faster than light (because the speed of light was increased) and the Planet Express ship specifically travels by moving the universe around it, this isn't that unusual. In a few episodes it's played straight, though. In Into The Wild Green Yonder the Planet Express ship crashes into a space station through a massive glass window. When it backs up and reverse out, there's nothing holding the air in place.
This happens to Batman himself in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. After the destruction of the Kryptonite meteor, Batman is trapped in what can only be described as a small airplane for several minutes in space, while Superman beats up the President. Finally, Superman gets around to rescuing his best friend, who is unconscious, but still alive.
Yogis Space Race is just one of countless examples, but Huckleberry Hound actually revels in this. He can be found on the top of his and Quack-Up's racer relaxing and trying to get a tan (Huck even mentions this in the first episode, saying that since they'll be passing "the Sun", that he wanted to take the opportunity)!
X-Men - The X-Men travel to Asteroid M for The Climax of Pryde of the X-Men.
Completely and utterly subverted in South Park. Both Willzyx (episode: "Free Willzyx") and Tom Cruise (episode: "201") are lying dead on the Moon, having long since asphyxiated. It's a surprise Kenny hasn't died this way yet.
The very first episode of Biker Mice from Mars had this trope. When the mice are being pursued by Plutarkians, Vinnie gets up and opens a door on the side of their spacecraft and leans out to fire a bazooka at the Plutarkian ship. And it's quite clear that there's no airlock or anything like that.
In Transformers, it's kinda messy to sort it out. On one hand, Cybertron clearly has an atmosphere, because we see a huge fire erupt in the pilot, space-traveling humans have no trouble breathing there, and some Decepticons are able to control the weather by creating acid rains. However, only one episode, War Dawn, ever shows the presence of this atmosphere visibly — every other time, it's a bleak and empty nightscape, even after Cybertron's explicitly shown to have "sucked off" part of Earth's own atmosphere when Megatron had teleported it into our planet's neighborhood. War Dawn contains heavy contradictions of several varieties, and probably has no say in the matter. Also, that acid rain only affects robots but leaves humans uninjured, so even the weather's screwed-up. It's easier to accept that the writers and animators never thought this one through.
A shot from one of the badly animated season 3 episodes showed Spike (a normal human) floating through space for a short while without any gear.
Extends to Transformers Animated, too. When Captain Fanzone is teleported to Cybertron, he can get by just fine.
Yet Predaking needs to flap his wings to fly there in the finale. Maybe there is a non-breathable atmosphere?
in Tom and Jerry, Tom shows this ability in a few cartoons. This is a show where he can also jet through the air and come apart like a multistage rocket.
Phineas and Ferb tends to flip-flop depending on the situation. In "Rollercoaster", the rollercoaster car accidently flies into space, passes over a satellite, and is ablaze during reentry, but the kids show no discomfort from lack of air, and Phineas casually remarks that they should've charged a higher admission. Conversely, in "Out To Launch", everyone is wearing space suits whenever they're outside safe environments. (The Milk Shake Bar asteroid explicitly has an Earth-like atmosphere, despite its size.) Also, in "Unfair Science Fair Redux", Candace has no problem hanging out on Mars in only her regular casualwear. Well, no problem with the atmosphere, at least. The rather clingy martians who want her to stay with them are a different issue.
"Prehistoric Pterodactyls". The title creatures breathe just fine while Superman was taking them unprotected through space to another planet.
"The Robot of Riga". Superman carries Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane through space unprotected while returning them to Earth from the planet Riga. The odd thing is that the episode had already established that the Rigans had spaceships (that's how Jimmy and Lois reached Riga in the first place), so it could have shown him taking them back in one.
On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Beezy manages to climb to Miseryville's moon and sculpts it into a heart without the need of any kind of gear. Oddly enough, Jimmy and Lucius needed suits in an earlier episode.
On an early episode of The Venture Bros. Brock Sampson got sucked into the vacuum of space for a good 10 minutes before he was rescued. He survives since he's just. That. BADASS!
Wander over Yonder constantly zigzags this trope. In most instances, the characters are just as fine in outer space as they are in a breathable atmosphere. Other times, they're perfectly okay provided they hold their breath or are in a contained area (such as a bubble or a spaceship). A few times however, the characters do show halfway realistic effects to being out in space, yet they're perfectly fine when standing on an asteroid or a small planet which shouldn't have any atmospheres to speak of.
Wallace & Gromit can breathe just fine on the moon in "A Grand Day Out". They don't exhibit weightlessness in outer space either.