Try as you might, your ships will never be as cool as John Berkey's.
"The only thing between you and the vacuum of space is six feet of solid style."
The cool ship can be a spaceship that other characters consider a piece of junk
. In fact, you get extra points for junky
. If you can't call it a rustbucket, though, it has to be the one and only latest, just-about-a-prototype, bleeding-edge techno-miracle
An ancient living Precursor-craft
, retrofitted with the latest techno-miracle gadgetry disguised
as a rustbucket, that can think for itself... Okay, dude, quit hogging the cool.
A form of Cool Ship
. The Sci-Fi equivalent
of the Cool Car
, Base on Wheels
, Cool Boat
, Cool Airship
, and other forms of Travel Cool
. In fact, because Space Is an Ocean
, it is often heavily inspired by the Cool Boat
; many spaceship types are named after equivalent water ship types. See the Standard Sci-Fi Fleet
for various types.
Cool ships can even be single-seaters with no room to get up and walk around but capable of zipping across the cosmos in no time
. The lack of facilities
is a non-issue, Hand Waved
for the Rule of Cool
To be even cooler, the cool starship may also be a Faceship
or come with escape pods
, faster than light drivenote
, and transporters
. If enemies try to board it, you may need to activate the Self-Destruct Mechanism
If the cool starship has enough surreal qualities, it may be an Eldritch Starship
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Anime and Manga
- Many anime series are named after the Cool Ship:
- UFO Robo Grendizer: The titular Humongous Mecha was both a giant robot and a starship. Grendizer could combine with a flying device to form a Cool Starship allow Faster-Than-Light Travel between planets. Vegans' spaceships also count.
- The Bebop from Cowboy Bebop.
- Also, the personal fighter ships used by Spike (Swordfish), Faye (Redtail), and Jet (Hammerhead).
- The shuttle Columbia. Even if it does almost burn up on re-entry, the fact that an ancient space shuttle still sort-of-kind-of works is pretty freaking awesome.
- The Blue Typhoon from Sonic X. It even has a Thunderbird 2 style launch pad for the smaller vessels!
- The Gekko-Go aircraft from Eureka Seven.
- The Swordbreaker from Lost Universe.
- The Soyokaze from Irresponsible Captain Tylor The junky rust bucket trope is somewhat subverted here, as the ship is recognized as junk by everybody and their mother's dog.
- The played straight component of it includes the fact that it has a bar, spa, fighter hanger, and marine detachment.
- The Arcus Prima flying Simoun carrier from Simoun (and the Messis as an example of a junky rust bucket).
- Technically just airships - no space-travel exists in Simoun universe.
- The Silvana airship from Last Exile, and the Exile itself when the Mysteria awaken it and it sheds its defensive cocoon.
- Space Battleship Ryo-Ohki from Tenchi Muyo!, who also doubled as a Weasel Mascot.
- Not to mention Kagato's ship, the Soja, from the OVA. It had as many dimensions as it did floors. Including a Pocket Dimension where its actual creator, Washu, was kept prisoner, sealed inside a Crystal Prison.
- Jurian ships in general look like nature preserves.
- The Galaxy Police are no slouches at building cool starships either.
- The Arcadia from Space Pirate Captain Harlock and all related series.
- The Galaxy Express 999. Steam trains IN SPACE!.
- The Nirvana in Vandread.
- And the bigger enemy ships too.
- SDF-1 Macross from Macross
- Gundam gives us the White Base, the Albion, the Argama, the Ra Cailum, the Reinforce Jr., the Ptolemaios, and the Archangel, among others (Check this fan-arranged pic◊ for size comparisons.)
- The Diva from Gundam AGE gets upgraded into a transforming White Base with a Wave Motion Gun.
- Size-wise however, all of them pale in comparison to the behemoths from Gundam Wing:
- The interstellar vesel Peacemillion, a fan-shaped starship which is almost the same size as a space colony.
- ... which was then out-trumped by the White Fang battleship Libra, a four-diamond, colony-sized vessel with a Wave Motion Gun in the center.
- Then there's the asteroid-like deep-space ship Celestial Being from Gundam 00. Houses a quantum supercomputer? Check. Fully operational mobile suit factory? Check. Thousands of laser emplacements all over the surface? Check. Wave Motion Gun? Check. This was a ship designed to travel interstellar distances and safeguard thousands of human beings on board from alien threats. It can also turn completely invisible. It clocks in as the largest mobile spaceship in the franchise at 15 kilometers... not counting the ELS planetoid as a ship, which was roughly the size of the Moon.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's Super Galaxy Dai-Gurren was the Moon for awhile (not a typo).
- The fact that it turns into a Planet-sized Mecha with sunglasses on both torso and head only makes it more awesome.
- The Anti-Spirals have the Ashtangas which look like a HUGE (as in, several times the size of a planet) stone with several dozen faces and arms - scary as hell.
- The original Dai-Gurren and the Tengen Toppa Dai-Gurren (a billions times bigger version that looks more demonic). The fact that the latter can shoot inter-dimensional anchors or fire missile barrages that affects probability, as in missiles that make it more improbable that the enemy will evade future attacks. And that's considered weak.
- The Arthra from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and Nanoha A's.
- It gets decooled in Nanoha StrikerS when the ship is in the process of decommissioning, but rides one last time to serve as a base. In return, the third season gives us The Saint's Cradle, a wickedly cool looking and extremely powerful warship. And by the way, Chrono has also a new spaceship, the Claudia.
- Nanoha Force gives the Esquad Hückebein (which is so cool, it violates the laws of magi-physics) to the villains, and the Wolfram (a Spiritual Successor to Arthra) to the heroes.
- The Bay Tower Base, and later the Orbit Base from Yuusha-Oh GaoGaiGar are multiple Cool Ships connected to a hub, which can deploy and serve various purposes. Three of them transform into the handle of a giant hammer in the OVA.
- Also the J-Ark, a Cool Starship whose bridge detaches from the ship and turns into a Cool Robot that can then recombine with the rest of the Ark to form the even Cooler Robot King J-Der. It's also piloted by Soldato-J, one of the biggest Badasses in the series, for even more cool points.
- The Shangri-La from Toward the Terra contains wide open fields, gardens, flowing rivers, palisades, a massive shrine for its leader, and a "bridge" in the form of a platform suspended above the aforementioned fields. Further, the ship uses psychic energy to attack, defend, and conceal itself, is capable of both space and atmospheric flight, and can even warp from the surface of a planet.
- Believe it or not, the manga version of Chrono Crusade actually contains a (spoileriffic) example. Pandaemonium, the demon's world, is actually a gigantic spaceship that crashed into Earth and sank to the bottom of the ocean. It's huge, containing a huge city inside of it, including a large field of grass and trees. And yes, this means the demons are actually aliens.
- The Amaterasu from Starship Operators. Being the newest ship made with cutting edge technology probably has something to do with it.
- Getter Robo has the Emperor Machines, three planet-sized starships made from Mars And The Dinosaurs.
- La Muse and various other ships from Kiddy Grade.
- All of the ships from Gankutsuou are unbelievably cool.
- Imperial admirals' ships in Legend of Galactic Heroes, primarily Reinhard's Brunhilde and Muller's Percivale.
- Frieza and Cooler of Dragon Ball Z each have at least one.
- The Bell from Magic Users Club.
- Planetes has Debris Section's Toybox, which is the epitome of Used Future and is still working fine despite being older than some of the crew and gets a spectacular sendoff. The Wernher von Braun fits into the "techno-miracle" category.
- Many of the ships in Bodacious Space Pirates such as the Bentenmaru, the Barbaroosa, the Odette II, the Parabellum and the Grand Cross.
- Transformers Headmasters has Rodimus Prime's successor, Fortress Maximus - a Headmaster whose massive (non-living) Transtector body becomes the Battleship Maximus. Like his Western counterpart, Fortress Maximus is roughly city-sized.
- Transformers Masterforce introduced Fortress's brother Grand Maximus, whose battleship mode is... New Battleship Maximus. Really. Unlike his big brother's Transtector, though, Grand's is only a bit larger than God Ginrai, comparable in size to the Marvel Comics version of Fortress Maximus; both of them are just large enough in battleship mode to allow God Ginrai or Powermaster Optimus Prime to stand on. As a result, full-size Transformers can't hitch a ride inside Grand's ship, but it can accomodate humans (or human-sized Transformers).
- The Ship of Starlord, simply called "Ship", a sleek, highly maneuverable starship— which is actually a sentient shapeshifting Energy Being who is in love with her pilot.
- The giant Celestial-built Ship (also simply called Ship) of X-Factor. Eventually blew up, but the AI survived and became an ally of Cable.
- Friday, the "Smartship" of Power Pack.
- The Starjammer, of the Space Pirate group of that name who are friends of the X-Men.
- The Carrier, interdimensional base of The Authority.
- Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy had two cool ships and a mobile, time-travelling space station. And currently live in the severed head of a robot alien.
- The Silver Age Hawk Man and Hawkgirl had a Thanagarian starship with a retro look.
- The Fantastic Four used to have an orbital rocket that launched from the middle of Manhattan. It was phased out in favor of a captured Skrull starship.
- Comet Man's alien mentor Max has a Fortiquian Comet Ship, which disguises itself as, guess what, a comet in order to make observation easier.
- In Bill Mantlo's Micronauts, the team's Robot Buddy Biotron gets destroyed, only to be rebuilt as a Living Ship-slash-Humongous Mecha named Bioship. Bioship later gets destroyed, and he is rebuilt again in his original human-sized "Biotron" form.
- Spaceman Spiff's little red rocketship from Calvin and Hobbes. Come on, you know you love it.
- Regular Calvin's little red wagon deserves a mention for somehow managing to get to Mars and back.
- Calvin's cardboard box has to be one of the coolest devices ever: it's anything the plot requires it to be, including a time machine, but still looks like an ordinary cardboard box to most people.
- A new Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comic features the Luck Of The Draw, an awesome little ship◊ with a badass rotating warp drive thing on the back◊.
- Superman villain Brainiac has a ship that, in many incarnations, is a giant version of his head with tentacles on it.
- Any and all space vessels designed by Jack Kirby.
- In DC's Star Raiders graphic novel, the titular ship is a fast, nimble one-man attack craft with a galaxy-skipping warp drive and disproportionately heavy armament and defenses. It's so cool that simply discovering it inspires Jed and Tommy to start La Résistance against the Zylons and use it as their flagship.
- In BIONICLE, the entire universe of the first 8 years of the story is contained within a 16 million feet tall sentient robot which travels between planets.
- The Ark of The Transformers. Unlike its cartoon coungerpart which never flew again, Grimlock got the Autobots to get the ship spaceworthy in a manner of months, and later even smacks Unicron in the face with it! It was then stolen by Shockwave and Starscream, only for Ratchet to crash it into the Earth again to stop them (as well as Megatron and Galvatron who were also on board). What happened to it next depends on the subsequent continuity:
- In Generation 2, Megatron was able to get the Ark up and running again, apparently on his own, but it was destroyed early on in the series by Fortress Maximus.
- In Regeneration One, Megatron used it as his control center to nuke the Earth and control his zombie Decepticon army. After Megatron was stopped, Galvatron took over, and got it into space before Optimus Prime could arrive to destroy it; only Galvatron brought Starscream along, and Starscream dumped Galvatron off at the first opportunity, and was last seen taking the Ark away from Cybertron.
- Speaking of Fortress Maximus, he had the Steelhaven, which ferried his faction from Cybertron to Nebulos to Earth, and then went back to Nebulos to get a new body for Optimus Prime. It disappears after a while, though, possibly suggesting it was cannibalized to make further repairs to the Ark.
- Blast-Off and Sky Lynx each served as a Cool Starship for the Spakehikers, a bunch of human kids who were inadvertently caught up in Blaster's self-imposed exile from Commander Grimlock's Autobots. Being a Combaticon, Blast-Off only cooperated because of the mode lock device intended for Blaster being used on him instead.
- The IDW continuity of The Transformers featured a series of numbered ships named after the original Ark, which was lost in the Dead Universe. The Wreckers also have their own Cool Starship, the Xantium, which looks like the mutant offspring of Fortress Maximus and the Argama.
- The titular starship from the live action adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato. Built from the wreck of a World War II battleship giving it even more reason to be awesome, comes complete with a starfighter squadron, massive beam cannons, rows upon rows of beam gatling guns, and of course, THE Wave Motion Gun. Not to mention this one ship fought off an entire alien race and is the only reason the Earth was saved.
- Technically, since it carries a squadron of starfighters, can destroy fleets with its Wave Motion Gun and has all the firepower of an actual battleship that attacks with laser beams instead of bullets, the more accurate title would have been Space Battlestar Yamato.
- District 9, where a ship that looked freaking AMAZING hovering over Johannesburg turned out to be a (mostly) inoperable piece of junk. Case in point◊.
- From the Star Wars movies:
- Han Solo's Millennium Falcon was the "junky" kind: a set of engines, a bunch of plating and a couple of guns held together with bubblegum, duct tape, and the will of The Force. However, although the ship's systems can be unreliable, the ship is faster than anything and has enough armaments (guns, missiles) to be considered a powerful warship for its size. The most techno-miraculous thing about it is that it flies at all, let alone so well. Not to mention that it's over 100 years old, per the ''Legacy of the Force'' series. Never mind that it's falling apart at the seams, the Falcon is, quite simply, an ostensible light freighter that can outshoot, outrun, and outmaneuver starfighters. A heavily modified light bulk freighter (in fact, customization's the raison d'etre of some of the manufacturer's starship lines including the Falcon's) piloted by a top of his class naval academy graduate.
- Let's recap: a light freighter that can outshoot, outrun, and outmaneuver starfighters. Imagine a large, old, double cabin pickup truck that's faster than a Bugatti Veyron and has the armor and weapons of a US-Army Humvee! And it's over 100 years old!!
- The Falcon was cool enough to jump franchises and fight the Borg in a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in Star Trek: First Contact.
- General Grievous' Invisible Hand.
- Darth Vader's dagger-shapednote flagship, the Executor. If you weren't in awe when you first saw it dwarf a freaking Star Destroyer in The Empire Strikes Back, then you were watching it wrong. His big brother, the Eclipse. How awesome is it? It's twice as big mass-wise (albeit a little shorter), jet black, and has a mini-superlaser on its nose that can render a planet uninhabitable in a single shot. It's meant to take on entire fleets and come out victorious.
- The Clone Wars show us the Separatist precursor to the Executor, the Malevolence. Almost as huge as the Executor, armed with an EMP main gun that can disable entire fleets, and captained by General Grievous.
- The Clone Wars has the Twilight, a junky freighter in the vein of the Millennium Falcon.
- Heck, Star Wars is naturally packed with Cool Ships, although most of them don't hang around long enough to become characters in their own right, let alone iconic in the wider culture. X-wings in general, the various very shiny Naboo royal cruisers, and Darth Maul's Sith Infiltrator (only really seen in the Expanded Universe) are just the start. They have names (because Lucas & co. have given absolutely everything a name) but the supplementary books are stocked with craft that, visually, sample every level in the artistic barrel, from the top to the very bottom. Which is actually realistic. Not everything could be that awesome.
- Knights of the Old Republic has the Ebon Hawk, a clear homage to the Falcon, though it's trimmed in red. The crime lord you steal it from proudly calls it "the fastest ship on the Outer Rim", and on the planet Korriban you find that it's been around for quite a while, long enough to be famous among smugglers. It has several storage compartments of varying levels of secrecy and actually is very well maintained, though Jolee Bindo complains that the food synthesizer needs cleaning.
- The Nebulon-B and Acclaimator class frigates look pretty damn cool, and the Nebulon-B is quite formidable for its size.
- The standard-issue Imperial Star Destroyer. The way it loomed into the scene after the title crawl in A New Hope was just awe-inspiring. And damn if it doesn't look intimidating.
- The Suncrusher. It's barely bigger than an X-Wing, yet it can destroy solar systems in a single shot, and endure glancing hits from the prototype Death Star's superlaser. Oh, and it takes out a Star Destroyer by flying through it, coming out the other side without so much as a scratch. The only way to destroy it was dumping it in a black hole.
- The Death Star. "That's no moon..."
- Vader's personal TIE Advanced x1. It managed to take a TIE Fighter, essentially the Star Wars version of Zerglings, and actually make it a decent combatant. Shields and a hyperdrive go a long way to making it the Imperial version of an X-wing or Y-wing. The only drawback is that it moves slightly slower than average TIE Fighters, although the fact that the only one we see in the films is flown by the greatest pilot in history tends to make up for this.
- On that note, the TIE Interceptor. While still just as fragile as a typical TIE Fighter, it's wicked-fast and has a dagger-like profile that absolutely screams "Evil" with a capital E.
- TIE Fighters in general are useless, but very cool. And don't tell me that you don't love that memorable screaming noise that even the bog-standard TIE makes when it flies by.
- In the EU, the TIE line of ships eventually gets to the TIE Defender, which is more heavily armed, more heavily shielded, and faster than Vader's TIE Advanced model. "Trips", as the Rebels call them, made it into EU material outside of the TIE Fighter computer games and in the early days of the Alliance / Empire war were generally considered a failure due to the massive pricetag (and the fact that the admiralty feared such expensive and non-expendable fighters would be used as an excuse to cut funding to Star Destroyer construction), although the handful of times they saw deployment they certainly fit the criteria. As production became less expensive and the Imperials' military philosophies had to change with their shrinking territory, the Defender became more common.
- There is also the slightly less powerful but more common TIE Advanced, a mass produced variant of Darth Vader's personal fighter. It was proven capable of outmaneuvering any Rebel starfighter, and experienced pilots were able to outwit renegade TIE Defender pilots. The thing's nickname? The TIE Avenger.
- The Delta-7 Aethersprite. For the curious, that's the wedge-shaped one Obi-Wan flew in Attack of the Clones. That thing is tiny, yet Obi-Wan is still able to take on another cool ship, the Slave I, which is owned and maintained by a Mandalorian Bounty Hunter.
- The Errant Venture is the only civilian-owned Star Destroyer, and it's red. This makes other Star Destroyer captains jealous. While initially stripped of the bulk of its guns to make it civilian-legal, eventually Booster Terrik (who isn't big on legality) not only had them restored, he also installed a mini-superlaser in the bow. While it can't blow up planets like the Death Star or render them uninhabitable like the Eclipse, it can one-shot almost any warship. The Venture also has twice the starfighter capacity as a typical Star Destroyer, since all the landing craft, walkers, etc were removed, though in practice most of that capacity is used to let freighters dock since Booster uses it as a mobile smugglers' port.
- The Sith Mediation Sphere. It's a giant bat-winged eyeball powered by pure EVIL. Bad. Ass.
- Carracks are pretty cool too. They're smaller frigate-sized warships, but they're fast and bring to bear a lot of heavy turbolaser batteries, meaning that small squadrons of them can bring down capital ships many times their size. Their weapon mounts are also modular, meaning they can easily and inexpensively swap out turbolasers for quick-firing laser cannons when used as anti-starfighter escorts, or ion cannons when used in a police role against smugglers and pirates.
- The giant saucers from Independence Day. Mainly because of their sheer size, presence (Gravitas. Balls.) and destructive force, rather than anything uniquely "cool" about the design of the ships themselves. The mother ship was "only" 500 kilometers across, yet 1/4 the mass of the Moon. That made it 20 times the density of solid lead, on average. Tell me that ain't cool!
- The Gotengo of Atragon and Godzilla Final Wars has a massive beam shooting drill on its bow and can function in the air, under the sea and dig through the ground.
- The Cygnus from Disney's The Black Hole. It's made of thin struts of metal supporting acres of glass. It looks like an enormous spaceship-shaped greenhouse, lit by millions of twinkly lights. The only reason such an amazingly beautiful but fragile thing can survive spaceflight is the Rule of Cool.
- The RLS Legacy from Treasure Planet should count as well. It's a classical sailing ship traveling through space (or the Etherium) and in one scene it even escapes from a black hole!. If that isn't cool, nothing is.
- Star Trek universe:
- Enterprise-D◊ from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Enterprise-D...the future refit◊ from "All Good Things". Best Star Trek ship EVER. A third warp engine sitting between the original two, and a freaking huge phaser cannon running pretty much the whole length of the ship.
- The refit◊ Enterprise from the TOS movies was pretty freakin cool also, especially in the first two moves. Admit it... love or hate Star Trek: The Motion Picture, you enjoyed that first Scenery Porn reveal of the ship in all her glory...
- The original Lady E (see Live-Action TV below), despite being converted to a training ship and getting her shit wrecked, the Enterprise simply doesn't go down, and comes back to mop floors with the Reliant. She returns in the sequel where, despite still being damaged in the previous film, critically undermanned, running under heavy automation, and lacking the actual capacity to raise her shields, still gives as good as she gets from a Klingon bird-of-prey.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- The Miranda-class light cruiser USS Reliant◊, the first new class of Federation ship to be introduced onscreen in the franchise, just looks plain Bad Ass.
- Played with in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The USS Excelsior◊ was intended to be an uncool starship, an obnoxiously modernist contrast to the good old Enterprise we know and love. We love her anyways.
- Also from that movie was the USS Grissom. Small, sleek, and completely unlike anything ever seen in Star Trek up to that point thanks to its unique split-level design.
- The Enterprise-B that appeared in Star Trek: Generations was also an Excelsior-class starship, and proved to be as underprepared and bug-ridden as its class-type predecessor. Of course, it was so brand new most of its best toys were to be installed Tuesday.
- Then there's the one that started it all, Zefram Cochrane's warp vessel, the Phoenix◊. At first it just looks like this rickety, cobbled-together thing that's barely a step up from a 60's space capsule... Then the side panels come off, and the warp nacelles unfold and lock into position◊. And that is when the discerning Trekkie knows epic-ness is about to ensue.
- The Enterprise -E◊. Sovereign class, the most heavily armed and advanced starship in Starfleet in the regular Star Trek verse. In earlier (real life chronology) Star Trek they were hesitant to make the ships out to be more than exploration vessels with a reasonable armament needed for defense. After the introduction of the Defiant in Deep Space Nine, they felt more comfortable with a genuine battlecruiser, which the Enterprise-E happily fulfilled. Her Big Damn Heroes entry into the Borg battle in First Contact exemplifies this ship's power. Later uses of the ship, sadly, gave it more of a Butt Monkey status. And aesthetically, the Enterprise-E pretty much combines the coolest aspects of the Enterprise-A, Excelsior, and Enterprise-D.
- The aliens of the Trek movies? Valdore◊, Ru'afo's ship◊ and the freakin' Scimitar.◊
- The re-imagined USS Enterprise◊ (NCC-1701) from the 2009 Star Trek movie. This highly underrated ship demonstrated how a Beam Spam is meant to be done. According to the crew, it was explicitly designed to be the Enterprise from The Original Series with the sleekness of a Hot Rod.
- The USS Vengeance◊ from Star Trek Into Darkness is this and more. As if the namenote doesn't indicate some level of Badass, then the ship's classification will: she's meant to be the starship version of the old HMS Dreadnought and the line of ships she inspired, all in anticipation of a full out war with the Klingons. It's actually capable of catching up with ships in warp in just a few seconds, destructive as hell and can be operated with minimal crew members, sometimes even a single guy. And that's not even touching the subject of who designed her... Khan frickin Noonien Singh.
- USS Discovery of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. A spaceship controlled by a genius computer in which the only real way to travel is in a cryo-chamber. Admittedly not FTL, but ranks highly on the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness in that respect. However, as humanity's first long distance spaceship, its a pretty good effort, delivering the astronauts to Jupiter (Saturn in the book). Also the inspiration for the Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot, accompanied by the "Adagio" from ''Gayane'' by Khachaturian.
- The brief external shot of the Venture Star in Avatar was pure scenery porn. The spacecraft design was incredibly realistic, perhaps more so than any other movie starship to date, being based on Charles Pellegrino and Jim Powell's Valkyrie antimatter starship, with an additional Laser Sail for "ground power" acceleration while outbound from Earth.
- The possible patron saint of this trope is the bubble spaceship from The Fountain. It's a freaking bubble, and it houses some land, the Tree Of Life, and Hugh Jackman. How can you beat that?
- The NSEA Protector from Galaxy Quest. Lovingly and accurately modeled by the Thermians after the ship from the (cancelled) TV show, it can do everything a TV starship can do. It's also the last holdout of Thermian civilization against Sarris's forces.
- The Last Starfighter:
- The Messiah from Deep Impact. An ambitious Orion Drive-powered spacecraft, theoretically capable of interstellar travel (but put to emergency use as a comet-buster). Oddly, the coolest thing about it — how the Orion drive actually works (it throws nuclear bombs out the back of the space ship and rides the blast waves) — was never mentioned in the film.
- Spaceball-1 from Spaceballs is a parody of cool starships. Its introduction is an Overly-Long Gag about how huge the actual thing is (to the point that even the BGM grows impatient for it to end), it transforms into a humongous Robot Maid, and it includes a mall, a three-ring circus, and a zoo. Lonestar's space ship is, likewise, a parody of the Millennium Falcon. It's a Winnebago with wings.
- The ZARYa◊ from the Soviet sci-fi classic Moscow — Cassiopeia. As you can see, most of the ship is taken up by its giant Antimatter-powered nuclear engines, which serve to accelerate it to near-light speeds.
- The "Tet" space station, and the "Odyssey" (for how little time it appears on-screen, anyway) in Oblivion (2013) .
- Benny's SPACESHIP! SPACESHIP! SPACESHIP! in The LEGO Movie.
- In the Ender’s Game film, the fleet that humans bring to battle the Formics has a number of dedicated Attack Drone carriers, dreadnoughts capable of shredding Formic capital ships with a single volley, and a unique ship armed with the MD-500 (AKA the "Little Doctor"), capable of obliterating an entire fleet or causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. The Formics, for their part, appear to only use carriers that launch swarms of fighters, typical of their bug-like mentality.
- The kids from Animorphs are partial to Dome ships, especially newer models like the Elfangor. The Rachel is also supposed to be pretty sweet.
- The "Cavorite sphere" from H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon was nothing more than a room-sized sphere of anti-gravitational Applied Phlebotinum known as Cavorite, named after the story's well-meaning Mad Scientist Cavor. No giant rockets here. To begin their journey the crew merely unleashed the moorings so the hull could set about its gravity-repulsive business and, like a metal hot air balloon, float off into the void. This altogether genteel and erudite mode of transport allowed its Victorian-era crew to focus on pipe smoking, tea preparation, existential angst, and other civilized behaviors. Possibly the ultimate in Steam Punk technology.
- The Starship Lady MacBeth in The Night's Dawn Trilogy. It's essentially a giant flying sphere, but it also has 3 fusion rockets and 8 overpowered communication lasers (Masers) that just happen to double as Deathrays. It also has an Anti Matter Drive - Antimatter itself is illegal, but nowhere in the Confederation laws does it say that a antimatter drive is illegal.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has some:
- The Heart of Gold, with its "infinite improbability drive" is reckoned, in-universe, to be the coolest ship ever.
- The Bistromath is arguably a subversion of this trope.
- Hotblack Desiato's Space-Limo in the books and television series. So cool Zaphod and Ford can't help but steal it. Even in the radio series, where it looks the same but is actually the flagship for a massive intergalactic war fleet.
- The novel Invaders From the Infinite featured the Thought - a ship made of, well, solidified thought. Its main armament consisted of the device that made it.
- In Dan Simmon's Hyperion Cantos:
- The Consul's ship. All the comforts of home and a well-equipped hospital IN SPACE, a fully automatic self-repair system, and a friendly AI with a sense of humor to boot. What's not to like? (Well OK, no weapons, but as stated in the books, the exhaust of a fusion-driven ship would make a good enough weapon anyway.)
- Spin-off short story Orphans Of The Helix features the Amoite Spectrum Helix, an ubertech coloniser ship designed so that when it spins up its phlebotinum drive it looks like the DNA double-helix.
- The Archangel Class ships from Endymion counts as a cross between cool and terrifying.
- In the mil-SF novel series Honor Harrington, approximately seventy percent of the books deal with cool space ships that can kill worlds and use gravity as their Deflector Shields, and the steady improvement of such. Harrington's own command becomes one as the saga continues. The books are unabashedly "Horatio Hornblower in space," and author David Weber designed the spaceflight physics to encourage maneuvers and combat right out of the 18th century, including broadsides of gamma-ray lasers and missiles capable of doing 0.8c.
- Kind of subverted in the very first book, in which the Super Prototype ship seemed incredibly Cool on the surface- it was able, in theory, to casually destroy vessels orders of magnitude larger- but was actually horribly flawed by a fatal case of Awesome, but Impractical in a world too far on the realistic end to let such things slide.
- The ship was a standard cruiser fitted with a gun that could bring down the "shields" and propulsion systems of any other ship (leaving it open to the full broadsides of the other weapons on the ship.) It had a range of something like fifty thousand kilometres when the next shortest ranged weapon had a range of one light second (three hundred thousand kilometres) and missiles had an effective range of millions of kilometres. Generally speaking, in that universe no ship ever got within one hundred thousand kilometres of another with malevolent intent without one of them exploding very shortly thereafter.
- Special mention goes to HMS Medusa and GNS Honor Harrington (the first purpose built podnaughts); HMS Hexapuma (a heavy cruiser capable of taking down most existing battlecruisers in a one-on-one fight, nicknamed the "Nasty Kitty" by its crew); and the entire Roland class of Destroyers (fitted with missiles able to take out capital ships!)
- Also worthy of mention is HMS Minotaur (Minnie to her friends, just don't call her that in front of her captain), the first of Manticore's LAC carriers. Capable of carrying and deploying a wing of 100 Light Attack Craft (20,000 ton "fighters"), she and her wing almost single-handedly destroyed an entire battleship task group in their very first engagement and put the fear of the new Manticoran super-LACs well into the hearts of the People's Navy.
- HMS Nike, originally a one-off Super Prototype but now the lead ship of the Royal Manticoran Navy's newest class of battlecruisers, is also worthy of mention: Among the fastest battlecruisers yet built but almost large enough to be considered a battleship by pre-First Havenite War standardsnote , and capable of engaging Solarian League superdreadnoughts on better than equal terms.
- Although they seem somewhat pedestrian compared to the newer examples listed above, Honor Harrington's commands from the second and third books of the series, the new HMS Fearless (a Star Knight-class heavy cruiser built to replace the Courageous-class light cruiser from the first book) and HMS Nike (the Reliant-class battlecruiser mentioned above) definitely qualify in the context of the books they first appeared in. At the time, they were among the newest, fastest and most powerful ships of their type in any navy and got in multiple crowning moments of awesome. The Fearless can almost be thought of as an Honorverse counterpart to Captain Kirk's original Constitution-class USS Enterprise: a top-of-the line heavy cruiser in its day, not the biggest or most powerful ship, but the perfect command for a daring, slightly unorthodox starship captain like Kirk or Harrington to prove themselves with.
- In another Weber series, Empire from the Ashes, Dahak is a sentient battleship the size of the Moon (having destroyed and secretly replaced the original 50,000 years ago). Even after he gets planetoid companions, all the characters still agree that Dahak is an awesome ship. Dahak II even more so.
- On the subject of Weber, "Star Runner" from In Fury Born. An AI-controlled light cruiser equipped with battleship-grade engines and shields. As it's too small to carry useful numbers of the long-range SLAMS (Supra-Light Accelerated Missiles - essentially targeted black holes), the designers pretty much decide 'sod it' and pack it bow to stern with Frickin' Laser Beams, missile launchers and point defence. It can outrun destroyers and outgun battleships, in spite of the fact it's a light cruiser. It also has a hologram projector capable of making it look like a down-on-its-luck tramp freighter rather than, say, a stolen military experimental ship piloted by the most wanted woman in the sector.
- In the classic Skylark Series by E. E. “Doc” Smith, Doctor Richard Seaton and friends trade up through a series of increasingly powerful spacecraft. He discovers a substance that catalyzes the conversion of copper to energy and linear momentum, then makes contact with a succession of alien races and gains galaxy-turning scientific insights. The original Skylark is a forty-foot steel-hulled sphere, refitted with the alien metal "arenak" into Skylark II, then replaced with the mile-long blimp-shape of Skylark III using an even stronger metal, "inoson." He finally constructs the gargantuan Skylark of Valeron (his wife being tired of numbers) out of thin air and raw computation (having discovered the secrets of Sixth Order Forces and time manipulation), a thousand-mile-wide sphere. Its size wasn't ego — he simply needed that much room for mechanisms to lock onto Earth after being thrown to the far side of the universe.
- The Great Glass Elevator in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Ordinary elevators can't travel to the Moon and back.
- The Culture series by Iain M. Banks, and how!
- The General System Vehicles are 200 kilometer long ships with force fields used as hulls, housing millions if not billions of denizens, ruled by sentient "Minds" (AI) and able to turn into overpowered warships when the need arise. Less than 1% of the Culture population lives on planets, because the Culture consider it uncool to Terraform worlds, and because GSVs are part of the Culture PR policies: you don't need to go to one of the Culture's homeworlds when you see near your own world a nomadic self-sufficient sentient Metropolis that can kick a star out of its own solar system showing how advanced the Culture is and what awaits you if you make the very deadly mistake of pissing off their Minds and/or their denizens.
- Note that because of the Culture ships' sense of humour, these ships are likely to call themselves something like the Cutie-Pie, or something about the lack of gravitas in their names. This is part of the charm: how can you not like names like the Psychopath-class Rapid Offensive Unit Frank Exchange of Views?
- From Use of Weapons: "The ship was over eighty kilometres long and was called the Size Isn't Everything."
- Arguably culminates in Surface Detail with the Abominator class "Picket Ship" the Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints. It curbstomps a Culture tech (they thought) equivalent battle group in milliseconds and then proceeds to wipe out thousands of smaller craft per minute. It also keeps very high resolution recordings of all its engagements as possibly the closest thing a warship-Mind can have to porn.
- No one is really certain about its combat power (even itself),note but Mistake Not... from The Hydrogen Sonata definitely takes the cake in the name department. Its full name is Mistake Not My Current State of Joshing Gentle Peevishness for the Awesome and Terrible Majesty of the Towering Seas of Ire That Are Themselves the Milquetoast Shallows Fringing My Vast Oceans of Wrath.
- In James Blish's Cities in Flight books, devices called "spin-dizzies" lift up whole cities and send them into space. It's just as cool as it sounds. They can also be used on whole entire planets.
- Subversion? The cool ships in the "Ship Who..." series tend to be middle of the road, completely average ships. Not too junky, not too edge of the tech. Mainly because it's too expensive. And the ships can't afford it (yeah, the ships are alive — each ship is controlled by a "brain", a human born with incapacitating disabilities raised as a "shellperson" and trained to control ships, space stations, or cities, who are cybernetically connected to the ship/station/city systems). Oddly, few have weapons.
- Larry Niven's Known Space series of novels and short stories features ships built into the Puppeteer-produced General Products Hull. Sure, you can only get them in "cigar-shape" or "kilometer-wide-sphere" models, but they're completely invulnerable to anything short of antimatter. And they're transparent.
- They actually come in 4 sizes/types. A sphere, roughly the size of a basketball, a cylinder 300 feet long and 20 feet wide, pointed at both ends and with a slight "wasp-waist" constriction near the tail., a cylinder with rounded ends and a flattened belly. and a transparent sphere around 1,000 feet in diameter.
- This series is full of awesome ships: Lying Bastard, Angel's Pencil, ramships, The Wunderland Treatymaker, Outsider Ships, the Wunderland raid payload, any slaver ship, the Ringworld and The Fleet of Worlds, .
- Frank Herbert's other series, starting with Destination: Void, includes a ship which becomes self-aware and omnipotent. It refers to itself as Ship. Also, from the same author, Spacing Guild Heighliners from Dune. Massive cargo ships several miles long that are the only things in that wold capable of FTL Travel.
- The Teacher, Flinx's KK drive starship in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, is custom built for him by a race of hyperintelligent aliens after he teaches them civilization. It is unusually fast and well-armed for its size, employs a powerful AI to run things, can reconfigure itself to disguise its appearance from the authorities, and most importantly has the power to land on a planetary surface on interstellar drive without destroying both ship and planet, a feat beyond the capabilities of any other ship in The Verse.
- Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space mostly takes place on the "Nostalgia for Infinity," one of only a few hundred "lighthuggers" existence. Infected with an alien plague that affects nanotech, the ship is riddled with strange, cancerous organic-like growths and failing systems and changes layout in unpredictable ways yet it can still reach the speed of light and travel between stars.
- It also carries a whole bunch of "Hell-class" weapons, all of which easily outperform the state of the art in space weapons used by almost anyone else and capable of smashing planets. Each weapon is AI-controlled and independantly mobile like a miniature warship, and was designed by future humans from an alternate reality.
- At the end of Revelation Space, Captain John Brannigan's variant of the Melding Plague (a cybernetic virus) is allowed to take over the ship, rendering The Captain into a Living Ship.
- The sequel, Redemption Ark, introduces the Nightshade and the Zodiacal Light, lighthuggers that use inertia-suppressing machinery to effectively reduce their mass and achieve much higher acceleration.
- House Of Suns, a separate novel unrelated to the Revelation Space universe, has the Silver Wings Of Morning, a '50 kilometer long ship capable of accelerating at hundreds of Gs, and has a 8 kilometer long cargo hold, filled with more interstellar ships.
- The Ark in Tuf Voyaging is an ancient, thirty-kilometer-long "seedship" containing the genetic material for thousands of species and millions of bacteria with the technology on board to clone them all, tweak their genetics as desired, and warp the fabric of time to age them up as needed. It even comes with fancy shuttles named for mythical beasts. And a Nice Hat.
- In Poul Anderson's Tau Zero, almost the whole story takes place aboard the good ship Leonora Christine. It's a Bussard Ramscoop that sucks in its fuel from the interstellar medium, and so can theoretically keep accelerating indefinitely. Which it does.
- Executor's sister ship, the Lusankya (originally Executor II). It was buried under Coruscant's surface and used as a brainwashing facility; the New Republic knew of the facility and the name, but they thought it was a secret prison on a distant planet, not right in the heart of the Empire. Its rising, to the utter gaping shock and horror of the New Republic, which had just captured the planet, was a Crowning Moment Of Awesome. When the New Republic captured it they did not rename it, unlike virtually every other captured capital ship. And, well, face it. If there was ever a ship's name that went really well with terrified/awed bits of Ominous Latin Chanting, it's Lusankya.
- If there's anything more awesome than the background of the Lusankya (she wasn't just any SSD - she was the Executor's friggin twin sister), it was the fact she was used mainly by the good guys. Just imagine what the original Executor would have been like as a Rebel flagship (complete with Rebel Alliance/New Republic sunbirds on her sides), and you have the Lusankya. Many an Imperial Warlord and wannabe Emperor has literally pissed themselves upon seeing her exit hyperspace, especially when, going by her New Republic transponder signal, they were originally expecting a Mon Cal cruiser or Nebulon-B-class frigate. And that's not discounting how the Republic also used her against other Executor-class Super Star Destroyers, as best shown in the Third Battle of Orinda◊. Hell, even the Yuuzhan Vong (who usually despised and looked down upon New Republic ships for being inorganic) outright feared her, especially when the New Republic began utilizing Imperial tacticsnote against them at the Battle of Borleias.
- Even the Lusankya's death was incredibly epic - the ship was damaged during a long siege, and so it was slowly stripped of weapons, and a reinforced spar full of explosives constructed along its 8km central spine. In the final battle of Rebel Dream, it rammed an enemy worldship and exploded, wiping out the attackers' command cadre and allowing the garrison to evacuate from what was supposed to be a suicide mission.
- The page image is a Cool Starship from A Maze of Stars
- Scott Westerfeld's The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds are full of Cool Spaceships. Pictured here are the Rix battlecruzer (top) and the Lynx (bottom).
- Arthur C. Clarke:
- In The Songs of Distant Earth, the Magellan is powered by zero-point energy. It can keep accelerating 'til it's travelling just a hair shy of the speed of light. To protect itself from the interstellar medium — which at 0.999c is more like a constant shower of cosmic rays — the front of the starship is one huge long chunk of ice, which slowly wears down over the course of a voyage and has to be replaced.
- Also the titular spaceship from Rendezvous with Rama, a giant alien generation ship.
- The Phoenix Exultant of The Golden Oecumene. It's designed and built by the greatest engineer in the system and tough enough to fly into the heart of the sun.
- Technological miracle? How about a spaceship built with Renaissance-level technology? Living ship? Well, sort of; its power source is a lot of swamp dragons. General cool appearance? It's designed to look like a bird-of-prey in the process of catching a salmon. It is, of course, The Kite from The Last Hero.
- The Rhabwar from Sector General, pictured at the top of the page.
- The USS Sagittarius◊ from Star Trek: Vanguard is a fast-looking, sexy little thing, even when it's on fire and about to be curb stomped by Klingons. Also, the fiercely awesome USS Bombay◊. Not only is it a TOS-ified version of the already cool Reliant, it kicks ass and takes names in an insane five-on-one battle before getting blown up. Starship Determinator FTW.
- Remaining in the Star Trek EU, Diane Duane's Rihannsu novels have the Bloodwing. That, according to Kirk himself, defeated the Enterprise more than once (to be fair, the Enterprise always gave her a desperate run for her money and won her fair share of bouts). That was before her commander Ael augmented her guns and switched sides to save the Romulan Empire from itself. After the change of sides... Well, on one occasion Bloodwing flew past Romulus' defenses and landed on the Imperial Senate building, then flew away after blowing up the only ship that dared not to be awed enough to try and stop her...
- Also in the EU are New Frontier's ships.
- Both versions of the Excalibur, the second being what amounts to a hot rod version of the Galaxy-class.
- The Trident, Excalibur's sister ship
- The Spectre, a badass Romulan vessel that can be rigged to run silent and virtually undetectable.
- In the post Star Trek: Destiny universe you now have the Vesta-class, spearheaded by the USS Aventine◊. Forget warp speed or transwarp. These babies were built with quantum slipstream drives - the kind that make a jaunt from Earth to the Delta Quandrant (a 70-year journey for Voyager) a quick three-week trip. But don't let their quick velocity give the impression of a Fragile Speedster - the Vestas can go toe-to-toe with the heavy hitters of the Breen Confederacy or Romulan Empire.
- The ships from Neal Asher's The Polity books - the 'Cable Hogue' has the same mass as Earth's Moon, but it's bigger. 'Geronamid' and 'Jerusalem' are space-distorting huge, and make planet-eating alien creatures of near-infinite intelligence wet themselves just by their arriving anywhere. AI controlled, they also tend to be very self-aware, often inscrutable and occasionally inclined to sarcasm. The wardrones are even more fun...
- Subverted in Iain M. Banks's The Algebraist, where the Luceferous VII, designed to suit the whims of the eponymous genocidal despot who has some definite ideas about how a badass flagship should look. His engineers apparently cried at one point, not wishing to be tortured to death for defying him when his designs became far too impractical to implement. It is mocked by the staff of the Navarchy as being a clear sign of vanity trumping sense, being too big to travel FTL via wormholes and far more vulnerable in a real fight than a sensible warship.
- In Tony Daniel's Metaplanetary series, the forces of the outer system have Cloudships: spiral-shaped clouds of connected meteoroids with uploaded minds named after classic writers; males are shaped clockwise, females counter-clockwise. They regularly travel to Alpha Centauri. The forces of the inner system have 5-mile long ships shaped like bundles of scythes with limited intangibility. There's also a Jeep with an FTL-engine-in-a-Thermos
- The Emiline is the tricked-out space yacht belonging to Miles Flint, Retrieval Artist. A man of otherwise simple tastes, it's the one thing he spends his lavish fortune on: black, sleek, fast, upgraded with the latest defense and security whenever a new version comes out, richly carpeted and furnished and modified with a few features he's used to from his days with Armstrong police: handcuff mounting points, a brig, and so on.
- The Troy class Battle Globes from the Troy Rising series. A nickel-iron asteroid, hollowed and inflated to 9km in diameter, with walls 1.5km thick, acting as home-port and carrier to Constitution class cruisers, and hundreds of assault shuttles. Plus an armament of tens of thousands of missiles, and laser emitters capable of throwing a petawatt or so (and more to come). Two-point-two trillion tons of death. And they fitted Troy with an Orion Drive to make it mobile. So far, they've built two of them, with a third on the way...
- Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth:
- Far Star. A Foundation ship with a highly advanced drive and a computer that responded to human thought. It was so advanced that it could decide the fate of a galaxy, depending on the thoughts of its captain by enforcing either the Psychic Static of a Foundation ship or strengthening the telepathic powers of either a Second Foundation or a Gaia agent..
- Munn Li Compor has a nearly-identical ship provided to him for the purpose of following the Far Star, and both the Far Star and Compor's ship lack weapons, to keep their captains from going out of control. Mayor Branno's gravitic warship, on the other hand, is not lacking in weapons... including ones aimed at the Second Foundation.
- The Great Ship from Robert Reed's Great Ship series. A ship larger than Saturn, full of hundreds of thousands of rooms, each capable of being modified to suit any biology. The Ship has a hull made of a nearly-indestructible material that spreads energy from impacts across hundreds of dimensions. Propulsion is provided by fusion engines larger than Ganymede, fueled by hydrogen tanks deep enough to submerse Europa in. The Ship may also be a thinking entity
- The heroes of Galaxy of Fear, after losing their original ship, end up taking the villain of the book's ship, The Shroud. It's battered looking and doesn't seem to be armed, but it's noted for performing well and has great engines. However, its greatest asset was the information in its computers. Unfortunately it crashes as part of a Closed Circle.
- The eponymous fake ship in Mark S. Geston's Lords of the Starship is designed to be this in-story. It's seven miles long with a wingspan of three miles and takes a workforce of thousands more than a century to build, using ancient technology that's conveniently been rediscovered for them. Its ostensible purpose is to revitalise the economy of its Crapsack World and motivate the workforce by giving them something to believe in. In reality the project is designed to weaken and impoverish the country in preparation for an invasion, foment a war between pro-and anti-ship factions, and then use the ship's humongous rockets to incinerate both armies fighting over it, thereby eliminating any effective defense.
- Foot Fall: Thuktun Flishithy of the Fihtp, a true interstellar ship that carries part of a world's population to Earth, and Michael, the Orion-driven ship launched by Earth in response to the Fihtp actions after their arrival.
- This was the main point of the Terran Trade Authority series, especially the first book. Given that many of the illustrators went on to be prolific and influential cover illustrators in their own rights, some of the designs may seem quite reminiscent of other examples on this page. Celebrated in this fan-made video.
- In Robert Reed's Marrow and The Well Of Worlds, the Great Ship is so mind-bogglingly huge it's difficult to call it a "ship." Built by an unknown race and possibly millions or billions of years old, it is much larger than planet Earth, large enough that an entire planet was hidden in one corner and nobody noticed, and made out of a nearly-indestructible substance called hyperfiber. When the Great Ship drifts, empty, into the Milky Way, humans colonize it, figure out how to run the massive engines, and decide to take it on a round-trip tour of the galaxy. They pick up colonists of several other species along the way.
- The Circe in Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise is the titular character's relativistic ship (no FTL Travel in this 'verse), allowing him to travel the thousands of settled worlds in his capacity as a space trader (the first space trader, in fact). Starships are rare due to the nature of interstellar travel, but the Circe is actually the first, starting its "life" as the Star Conqueror, NASA's first ship equipped with the Ramsden drive back in the late 21st century, which French piloted to Alpha Centauri and back. After NASA was disbanded and its property sold off, French absconded with the ship, renaming it. Subjectively, the ship is over 2000 years old, although French had it modified and expanded over time.
- Orion First Encounter: The Orion, which can travel interstellar distances in seconds, understand multidimensional physics and uses holographic boxing gloves and tiny bugs as weapons.
- Implied by the first edition cover art of each book in Greg Egan's Orthogonal trilogy, but at least partially averted in the actual story. The Generation Ship "Peerless" is a hollowed-out, internally-reinforced mountain propelled through space by a bunch of rockets, and it is never visually described as anything more glamorous than that, but the artwork depicts it as a sleek, sexy, and definitely-not-made-of-rocks-and-dirt spaceship. Of course, the ingenuity required to make such a feat happen in the first place might qualify it as a Cool Starship, but the discrepancy between how it is represented in the artwork versus the story certainly highlights the trope.
- The enormous Black Ship in the Nation of the Third Eye novel by K.K. Savage can switch between physicality and the astral world at will. Also, it is the most powerful ship in the Solar System and hosts the Grand Temple - a room that is over 2 miles high.
Live Action TV
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Earth Defense Directorate starfighters, the Draconian Hatchet fighters, the Belly Bombers used in Return of the Fighting 69th, Ardala's ship, and the Searcher from Season Two as well as Hawk's Talon fighter. With real talons.
- Firefly and Serenity:
- Serenity. She's a clapped-out, rusty cargo transport, but she still gets you where you want to go. And homey.
- The über awesome city ships that the Alliance have, a collection of skyscrapers floating through space, just because you can. They were designed to be a sort of counterpoint to Star Wars Star Destroyers, tall as opposed to long, and made to resemble office buildings to reflect the bureaucratic nature of the Alliance. note
- Space Academy had the Seeker, a more cigar-shaped version of the space shuttle that looked like it had an old cathode ray tube TV screen for an engine.
- "The Starship Enterprise◊" of Star Trek, in its various incarnations, is likely the archetypal Cool Ship for television. But a franchise this wide has room for plenty more:
- Described as the "quintessential gemstone" or the "holy grail" of Sci-Fi, Shatner himself said Matt Jeffries concept was a "very imaginative design". Even with its Zeerusty charm, she still holds up today.
- This was subverted in That '70s Show. The camera moves underneath a chassis to display it as a huge behemoth flying in space, only to reveal that it's a Vista Cruiser with Eric and Donna sitting in it. Incidentally, it could be considered a Cool Car.
- Babylon 5:
- The White Star. Although JMS wasn't entirely happy with the design, saying that from certain angles it looked like a plucked chicken. He even had a character say so in a later episode.
- The Babylon 4 station had engines and was even bigger. It served as the base of operations for a war 1000 years before it was friggin built.
- The Omega-class destroyer line. So ugly they're beautiful, and while they may have no gravity control or certain other features that come standard with starships (especially in the Babylon 5 universe), they can still take on much more advanced civilization's warships on nearly equal terms. The Advanced Omegas especially get a Shout-Out, because they were built with reverse-engineered Shadow technology.
- Omegas weren't built yet in time for the Earth-Minbari War. It's possible they would have allowed humans to hold off the Minbari onslaught a little longer (although not by much). Supplementary material claims that several prototypes (called Nova-X) were involved in the first battle of the war, as they happened to be undergoing testing in the Vega system where the Minbari attacked, one of them managing to ram a Minbari Sharlin-class war cruiser.
- The Excalibur from Crusade.
- The Shadow's giant starfield colored spider monster warships. Very effective at evoking the utter hopelessness of fighting them.
- The Sharlin-class War Cruiser from the Minbari Federation. It's a giant blue angel fish...and that doesn't sound particularly cool, until you see it...
- The Vorlon ships. All of them. The dreadnoughts are imposing enough and can One-Hit Kill almost any ship. Their fighters (mostly drones) can swarm-kill a Shadow Battlecrab, even if they're vulnerable to Starfury weapons. Then there's the Vorlon Planetkiller, which is a 27-kilometer behemoth that can do exactly what its name suggests. Even the transport used by Kosh looks amazing, especially since it's semi-alive.
- The new EarthForce Warlock-class destroyers. They don't have the spinning sections, as they're the first EarthForce ships to use Artificial Gravity. This means they're faster and more maneuverable. Plus, they feature advanced weapons and defenses. They're supposed to be a one-to-one match to the Minbari Sharlin, even though there are only 50 of them in the fleet.
- To be fair, just about every civilization in B5 have at least one badass warship in their fleet and most of them have radically different designs depending on their origin. Try asking about favorite ships in any Babylon 5 fan forum and you're guaranteed many different opinions.
- Even the little Starfury fighter class deserves a knock. Its key element is its six degrees of freedom. It is designed to move and turn through the three dimensions with ease, so few can match its sheer maneuverability. It was such a uniquely useful design that it's drawn Real Life attention for a future spacecraft design.
- The Earth Alliance's Explorer-class ships. These are the ships that are the vanguard of Earth's influence, and while they might not be very pretty, they're huge, they're often the first Earth ships to enter new star systems (the Cortez was even stated to have been on a five year mission), and they can build jumpgates!
- Andromeda Ascendant from Andromeda.
- Andromeda actually has two, one of each kind: The Andromeda Ascendant◊ as the hot technomiracle, and the Eureka Maru◊ as the "rusty bucket of bolts".
- How about the Siege Perilous-class Deep Stand-off Attack Ship II? It has 180 missile tubes, 24 35-megawatt PDL turrets, 4 anti-proton cannons. Built to destroy entire fleets. Out of 4 built, 3 were shown on-screen (Wrath of Achilles, Balance of Judgement, and Resolution of Hector), and they look amazing◊.
- There's also the Bellerophon◊, Earth's first starship launched in the 22nd century (before humanity's First Contact with the Systems Commonwealth) which lacks a slipstream drive but has a giant fusion engine used to accelerate to relativistic speeds. Thousands of years later, it's still exploring the galaxy with the original crew thanks to Time Dilation. Oh, and since the ship is unarmed, the crew will happily use their fusion engine to incinerate enemy ships, although they might need to refuel at the nearest gas giant after that.
- What about the Pax Magellanic which was a sister-ship to Andromeda, but was instead gold from stem to stern?
- The Liberator from Blake's 7 (also the Scorpio, but only after getting the star drive).
- The Doctor's TARDIS on Doctor Who. Even though it barely works and constantly shakes and smokes, it is still the most powerful ship in the universe, capable of towing the Earth through intergalactic space. And it looks like a Police Box. And have we mentioned that it's Bigger on the Inside?
- Aside from the TARDIS, the new series features the Daleks' badass flying saucers◊, not to mention the beautiful Byzantium◊ from The Time of Angels (pre-crash, of course). It has cyborg trees on board to generate oxygen! Freaking cool!
- Not to mention the super-epic Starship UK from "The Beast Below", which not only features skyscrapers mounted on a shiny metal platform, but is powered by the last Star Whale.
- John Crichton's Farscape One from Farscape. Few ships can safely fly through a wormhole; Farscape One makes it look easy.
- Speaking of Farscape... Talyn. Moya was like a good Team Mom, but Talyn was like that dangerous but cool kid everyone knew about but never really knew growing up.
- Lo'La. Period.
- Until we see her more-modern cousins. Luxan fighters work commando-style: sneak in, hit hard, then vanish again. With a little tactical data, Jothee's ship briefly crippled the Scarran Dreadnought with a few well-placed shots.
- You can't leave out the Peacekeeper Command Carrier, warships so large and heavily armed that they're thought to be unbeatable.
- Or the Scarran Dreadnaught, which is even larger.
- Or possibly the coolest of Cool Starships that never actually got to be seen: A single Nebari host vessel took down the legendary Command Carrier Zelbenion. In fact not just took her down, but outright curb-stomped her. Let's be clear on this: This wasn't even a Nebari warship.
- To be clear, Nebari don't even have "warships". When you conquer people through the use of your awesome Psychic Powers, your ships may be little more than troop transports.
- It's pretty much stated that the Nebari are a Higher-Tech Species, compared to even the heavy-hitters like the Peacekeeprs and the Scarrans. When John offers his wormhole knowledge for sale, the three bidding powers include the Nebari as well.
- Subversion: the new Battlestar Galactica, BS-75, survived the Cylon attack to become the focus of its series because it was old, obsolete, and less cool than the rest of the fleet, without being actually junky. (Though by virtue of achievement Galactica is still really, really cool, with many a-Crowning Moment Of Awesome.)
- The Battlestar Pegasus is a straight up example. Likewise the Mk VII Vipers.
- To quote the commander of Pegasus, "Galactica's not a Relic, it's a Classic." And this "bucket"'s main defense are not crazy shiny looking shields but saturating the surrounding area of space with an absurd amount of explosions.
- Hell, the Cylon basestars count. There's a ship that looks both truly unique and Bad Ass. They also look like Split-Level Aggravation◊.
- Let's show some respect to the original Battlestar Galactica as well. The Galactica herself was an iconic intergalactic aircraft carrier with an impressive design that finely balances sheer awesome mass and grace, surpassed only by the Vipers she carried. And the Cylon Raiders managed to make a simple ovular design look intimidating and agile.
- The Lexx, a massive spacecraft that resembles a dragonfly. Its only weapon is a Wave Motion Gun that smashes the planets into bite-size chunks.
- The Spaceship of the Imagination from Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, and its successor, Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, capable of taking its respective pilots (and their passenger, the viewer) anywhere in time or space, to view the world on the macro or micro level.
- Stargate Verse has a fair number of these:
- Stargate SG-1: The 303-class, Prometheus.
- The successor 304-class, Apollo, Korolev, Odyssey, and Daedalus, and now the Sun Tzu and the General Hammond (formerly Phoenix).
- Anything Ancient.
- The Lost City of Atlantis!
- Stargate Universe takes place entirely on an Ancient Cool Ship. This is one of those ships that despite being old and run-down it almost makes it even cooler.
- The Destiny is doubly-cool, just from how it refuels: by flying though stars!
- Hey, did everyone forgot about the Ori battleships?! Despite being shaped like a toilet seat, their main weapon can one-shot most ships in the known universe and have brutally powerful shields. If you see one heading for you, get the fuck out of there or you're DEAD if it gets into weapons range.
- The Goa'uld Ha'tak-class motherships: They are flying pyramids that land on mountains. The Lucian Alliance later upgrades them to be a match for a fully tricked-out Daedalus-class battlecruiser. Earth humans aren't the only ones who can make things better. Yes, they can even resist the Ori mothership-killing plasma beams.
- The Replicator ships, which are, basically, giant Replicators.
- Asgard ships. They cross intergalactic distances in days. The O'Neill and the Daniel Jackson were particularly cool, being pretty much the Asgard equivalent of a Super Star Destroyer.
- Anything built by the Wraith can classify as either creepy or cool, depending on your outlook. When you hear the whine of a Dart, you'd better run. The Super-Hive in the Grand Finale is a ginormous organic ship with an uber-thick hull that can withstand anything and overpowered cannons that can cripple Daedalus-class ships. And that was before it finished growing.
- Puddle jumpers. They might not be as impressive, but they can be invisible and they're shaped to fly straight through a Stargate at high speed. If I were one of the many random Marines and scientists on Atlantis, I'd freakin' want to visit planets in a nice, safe puddle jumper rather than walking straight into an ambush.
- The Jupiter Mining Corporation ship Red Dwarf from the BBC's sci-fi comedy of the same name: ten kilometers of engineering that's survived three million years and the demise of humanity. A possible subversion of the trope, since it was specifically designed to be utilitarian, but it still counts as the "hero ship" of the series, or possibly an "antihero ship" to extend the metaphor.
- Then you've got Starbug, a transport ship used for ferrying people from the surface of planets to the Mining ship and exploration of planets. Has no FTL travel yet somehow managed to track the massive mining ship (although it did take a few centuries) and somehow managed to increase the amount of space within it. Oh and then after the main crew is killed by their future selves the ship somehow changes shape again to allow more extra room.
- Needless to say the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series UFO abounds with them. SST's, tilt-fan aircraft decades before the Osprey
got off the ground crashed, jet-powered seaplanes, submarine-launched jet fighters, Lunar Modules piggyback-launched from VTOL carrier aircraft, bug-like Moon Mobiles that travel with an eerie wooo sound note , Interceptors with a Big Fucking Nuke in the nose. What more could a teenage fanboy ask for?
- The Eagles from Space1999 also fit, being the best thing about the series apart from Martin Landau. Pretty much all of the spaceship designs (by Brian Johnson and his team, who'd also worked on 2001) count. And the show did have a cool season 1 theme tune by Barry Gray.
- The Astro Megaship from Power Rangers in Space and Lost Galaxy. All the functionality of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Enterprise, plus it turns into a giant robot! It's got Linkara's seal of approval! As does Master Vile's skull spaceship. Serpentera also technically counts.
- The basis for the Astro Megaship - Mega Ship / Galaxy Mega from Denji Sentai Megaranger. Since the series was themed around computers rather than space travel, it was used as an orbital base instead of transport, but still.
- The Gokai Galleon from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.
- The Vulture from "Salvage 1." Built in a 1979 scrap yard from parts including a gasoline truck, a cement mixer and some old tires, the Millenium Falcon ain't got nothing on this baby when it comes to being a miraculously functional "piece of junk." It took its crew of a junkman, a former astronaut, and a propulsion expert all the way to the Moon and back to salvage NASA's collectibles.
- Space: Above and Beyond had several:
- The SA-43 Endo/Exo-Atmospheric Attack Jet (known as the Hammerhead) that the Wildcards flew into battle.
- The USS Saratoga which acted as The Battlestar of the series.
- The Chig fighters, which felt reminiscent of the TIE Defenders in their design.
- Chiggy von Richthofen's Ace Custom is a highly-advanced Chig fighter that is completley invisible on sensors (although its presence in the vicinity creates "ripples" on the screen) and armored against the Hammerheads' main turrets. One Hammerhead pilot attempted to ram Chiggy and only got his fighter destroyed with nary a scratch on the ace. As a final "fuck you", the Chigs have painted "Abandon All Hope" in English on its nose cone. It only succumbed to Conservation of Ninjutsu. Chiggy could destroy entires squadrons of fighters, but when faced with a single human (well, In Vitro) ace in a standard Hammerhead, couldn't outmaneuver him and caught a missile up its tailpipe.
- The Blackjack from Slingers is the only known ship that can "sling" itself through space (within the fiction, anyway).
- The Iron Savior, an ancient Atlantean warship capable of razing Earth to the ground, as it did in Unification.
- The Challenger, from James Follett's two Earthsearch series for BBC Radio, is ten miles long and capable of reaching relativistic speeds. Its mission is to search for habitable planets, and it's equipped with sophisticated Terraforming eqipment and two of the most advanced computers ever built. Unfortunately the computers have gone nuts and killed most of the crew, leaving only four kids whom they hope to use as pawns in their evil plan...
- Warhammer 40,000: Battlefleet Gothic. Ten-thousand-year-old mile-long cathedrals to war and destruction with broadside guns that can screw continents. In space.
- Just to clarify: Escorts (the lightest ships) are supposed half a mile to a mile long, Cruisers generally range from 4 to 8 miles long, and Battleships are larger than Super Star Destroyers.
- The Blackstone Fortresses. Enormous and fantastically ancient mobile starbases built to slay Eldritch Abominations and armed with cannons that shoot Negative Space Wedgies!
- Anything the Necrons build as well. It's pretty uncommon for anything to slip by Cadia and Ultramar but a bunch of necron frigates snuck through half the Imperium controlled galaxy unnoticed and managed to land on Mars, one of the most heavily defended planets in the setting that has about half the imperial navy in orbit at all times with a considerable nextdoor on Terra as well.
- The Cairn-class Tombship deserves special mention here. Not only is it the size of the Imperium's biggest battleships, it's much, much tougher, and it can carry a Sepulchre. No one's sure what exactly is in the Sepulchre, but given that it can Mind Rape entire crew of an aforementioned miles-long flying cathedral from hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, it's doubtful anyone wants to know.
- Tau ships count, too. As if the fact that within half the Imperium's lifetime the Tau went from "pointed sticks" to "tank-killing railguns, limited FTL, and drone workers", but the Tau avoid the "overdone Gothic" of Imperial space cathedrals in favour of sleek, curved surfaces.
- The Manta is probably the toughest thing on the table in a standard scale game.
- How can we have one of these without mentioning Phalanx? Not only is it the size of a small moon, it houses the entire Imperial Fists chapter.
- And Eternal Crusader, the pimped-out battle barge of the Black Templars.
- And Bucephalas, the Emperor's battle-barge.
- And Hunter's Premonition and Covenant of Blood from the Night Lords books.
- And the Eldar Craftworlds. So big they have in fact been mistaken for planetary bodies, and are able to carry an entire Eldar FLEET (up to and including a couple of their battlecruiser equivalents) in their docking bay... come to think of it most of the Eldar ships are pretty cool too.
- The Flame of Asuryan deserves special mention here for being undeniably badass.
- The Planet Killer, basically a Black Stone Fortress that Abbadon The Despoiler got a hold of, whilst there are many ways to blow up a planet in the 41st Millenium, this is considered one of the most efficient. Also unlike other examples of super-ships built around a single Wave Motion Gun with insufficient defence to protect against fighters, the Planet Killer has 50% of its fire power in ranks of heavy lance batteries, its actually capable of solo deployments as its support weapons are capable of matching the damage output of its superweapon.
- Just to up the ante, Imperial observers have noted that the Planet Killer (and newer Chaos ships in general) should be physically impossible - as in it should not be able to exist in the universe, let alone fight. Unfortunately for everyone else, it was constructed on a planet in the Eye Of Terror, a rip in space where the Immaterium intermingles with the physical world - in other words a place where the laws of physics are what you want them to be. Actually, make that both Planet Killers - the Imperium blew the first one to pieces during the Gothic War. It's useless without escorts.
- Imperial Ironclads - turned into giant rams.
- Can't mention 40k without an obligatory Ork reference, in this case several. Roks, taking the biggest asteroid you can find and filling it up with More Dakka and engines, Kroozers, which are basically 50% ship splitting ram, 40% Dakka, 10% anything else, and the Space Hulk, biggest ship in the game, made from random space junk slamming into each other until it hits the mass of an average moon, or bigger. Also like the Kroozers, the Space Hulk will attempt to ram targets or rather obliterate them into sub-atomic particles and like all Ork things, including the other ships, has more guns on it than any other faction, to the point of the space hulk being close, close to 1% of the way to Enough Dakka. Remember this is a race that has its equipment held together by some primeaval ancestor of Duct tape.
- There's also The Rock, the base of the Dark Angels chapter of space marines. It's the largest surviving remnant of Caliban, their home planet, that survived the orbital bombardment when half the legion went rogue. It's one of (if not) the biggest and most heavily armed things in Imperial space, being much larger than battleships or battlebarges, and it's surmounted by the Tower of Angels, the main fortress of the Dark Angels from before the destruction of Caliban.
- The Ultramarines' awesome trio of Battle Barges: Severian, Octavian, and Caesar. They also have a cool strike cruiser that uses experimental plasma weaponry floating around: the appropriately named Vae Victis.
- The Nicor, relic-flagship of the Charcharodons Astra, widely regarded as one of the most, if not the most, ruthless and brutal Imperial space marine chapternote It features relic plasma weaponry and an entire deck of teleporters.
- The ne plus ultra of Cool Starships in the 41st Millenium are the massive Gloriana-class battleships that form the flagship of each Legion fleet. Each one boasts the most powerful armament and huge fighter wings. By legion:
- Invincible Reason of the Dark Angels: Flagship of Lion El'Jonson, Primarch of the I Legion. Destroyed the Nightfall during the Battle of the Aegis Sub-Sector.
- Pride of the Emperor of the Emperor's Children: Flagship of Fulgrim, Primarch of the III Legion. Took part in the Siege of Terra.
- Iron Blood of the Iron Warriors: Flagship of Perturabo, Primarch of the IV Legion. Survived a boarding assault by 50 Imperial Fist terminators and destroyed a large part of their chapter fleet at the Battle of Phall.
- Swordstorm of the White Scars: Flagship of Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the V Legion. Took part in the Siege of Terra.
- Hrafnkel of the Space Wolves: Flagship of Leman Russ, Primarch of the VI Legion. Led the Burning of Prospero and was taken with Russ and his picked warriors on their final mission into the Eye of Terror.
- Oath of Stone of the Imperial Fists. Never used as a command ship as they already had Phalanx. Destroyed by Iron Warriors during the Battle of Phall. Noted to have been "old when the Crusade was young."
- Nightfall of the Night Lords: Flagship of Konrad Curze, Primarch of the VIII Legion. Destroyed during the Battle of the Aegis Sub-Sector by the Invincble Reason under the command of Lion El'Jonson after a failed boarding action led by Konrad Curze and 1st Captain Sevatar.
- Red Tear of the Blood Angels: Flagship of Sanguinius, Primarch of the IX Legion. Noted to be exceptionally beautiful to look upon. Crash-landed on the surface of Signus Prime to serve as a strongpoint and Legion flag transferred to the Covenant of Baal, it was eventually returned to service as the Blood Angels evacuated the planet.
- Fist of Iron of the Iron Hands: Flagship of Ferrus Mannus, Primarch of the X Legion. Boarded by Fulgrim and his Phoenix Guard prior to the Istvaan V Drop Site Massacre, its final fate is unknown.
- Conqueror of the World Eaters: Flagship of Angron, Primarch of the XII Legion. Took part in the Shadow Crusade against Ultramar and the Battles of Armatura and Nuceria. Destroyed many Ultramarines capital ships. Equipped with giant harpoon type weapons called Ursus Claws and commanded by a Badass Normal human captain named Lotara Sarrin. Though heavily damaged, it managed to escape when Roboute Guilliman's fleet caught up with the Shadow Crusade at Nuceria.
- Macragge's Honor of the Ultramarines: Flagship of Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the XIII Legion. Led the defense of Ultramar from the Shadow Crusade, aiding in the repulse of the surprise attack of the Word Bearer's at Calth, remaining a lynchpin of the void war. Led Roboute Guilliman's fleet in their efforts to bring the Shadow Crusade to battle as it withdrew from Ultramar. Trapped and destroyed Lorgar's personal flagship Fidelitas Lex at the Battle of Nuceria.
- Endurance of the Death Guard: Flagship of Mortarion, Primarch of the XIV Legion. Took part in the major battles of the Heresy, corrupted by the Plague God during its warp-transit to Terra, becoming a living ship.
- Photep of the Thousand Sons: Flagship of Magnus the Red, Primarch of the XV Legion. Contained vast libraries of forbidden knowledge. Was ordered away from the Burning of Prospero so could not stop the sack of the Thousand Sons' homeworld. Possibly destroyed during the Heresy.
- Vengeful Spirit of the Sons of Horus: Flagship of Horus Lupercal, Primarch of the XVI Legion. Effectively the flagship of the entire Great Crusade, it was on the bridge of the Spirit that the Emperor and Horus fought their fateful duel to the death. Fled into the warp following the defeat of the traitor armies at the Siege of Terra under the command of First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon, it still led the fleet of the reconstituted Black Legion 10,000 years later. Possibly destroyed over Crythe by the Blood Angels, as Abaddon transferred his flag to the Planet Killer (see above) after.
- Fidelitas Lex of the Word Bearers: Flagship of Lorgar Aurelian, Primarch of the XVI Legion. Took part in the Shadow Crusade, eventually destroyed over Nuceria by the Macragge's Honor.
- Flamewrought of the Salamanders: Flagship of Vulkan, Primarch of the XVIII Legion. Fate unknown.
- Shadow of the Emperor of the Raven Guard: Flagship of Corvus Corax, Primarch of the XIX Legion. Destroyed in a treacherous surprise attack by the Terminus Est in the Istvaan system.
- Alpha of the Alpha Legion: Flagship of Alpharius Omegon, Primarch of the XX Legion. May have been a battle barge, there is a canon conflict. Had a sister ship, the Beta. Or, perhaps, no such legion exists.
- Magic: The Gathering: The Weatherlight, although it was designed by what was essentially a god to be part of a weapon that was powerful enough to kill an actual god So Yeah.
- Traveller has lots of these. The Terran Confederation Navy had the Indomitable class battleships, which practically destroyed the Vilani navy on their own.
- The Lightning class frontier merchant, half warship, half merchant. These were able to cruise in Vilani space at will, changing to privateers or scouts when needed.
- A fairly normal feature is a computerized surface that can be used to customize any imagery the captain desires. Similar features are available on several of the bulkheads. Thus even fairly ordinary Starships can look cool
- One of the possible settings in Maid RPG is space. Given the nature of the game, at least one of these will be involved in any game taking place in that setting.
- In Exalted the very Sun itself is a battlestation known as Dirigible Engine Daystar designed to fight back armies of billions of Raksha and rogue Primordials. The Daystar is detailed in five parts on the Ink Monkeys' Blog (I, II-1, II-2, II-3, III, Final).
- In Shards of the Exalted Dreams, a lot of cool spaceship are also discussed, especially in Heaven's Reach (the science fiction version of Exalted, quite appropriately) and Gunstar Autochtonia. The Son of Heaven III, one of the largest warships ever built in the Heaven's Reach universe, certainly deserves a place on this list, being described as a fortress-city flying through space, with skyscrapers-modules decorated with immense frescoes, capable of housing a whole fleet of smaller ship, or of serving as a conference hall for negociations with the Son of Heaven. However, it is dwarfed (both in size and in cool factor) by the titular Gunstar Autochtonia, a world-sized starship crafted out of the body of a living god, modified for millenia by mad geniuses to become the greatest weapon in the galaxy, capable of winning the war against the creators of the universe. The Gunstar is home to billions of humans, dragon-kings, Exalted and rogue gods, and has never been completely explored or maped (it helps that Elsewhere technology allows it to be bigger on the inside), and is defended not only by all the weaponry that the Exalted are able to build, but also by the Gunstar Defense Line Voidfighters, spacefighters who can transform into (what else?) mecha suits.
- The Starfire hex-map-based wargame was all about combat between fleets of starships. The units varied in size from tiny one-man fighters all the way up to Monitors four times as large as a space battleship, armed with quasi-inertialess ion engines, nuclear missiles, antimatter missiles, Frickin' Laser Beams, Tractor Beams, Deflector Shields, and a host of other deadly hardware.
- BattleTech subverts this, in the Star League era the SLDF had plenty of cool starships, but the the first two succession wars saw the destruction to most of them. Fortunately the Clans brought many of them in their exodus, and possess some of the most advanced warships in the Inner Sphere. Comstar still possess some of those older ships, and IS Houses are still trying to make new ones.
- This ship from Dresden Codak.
- In the long-running comedy Mil-SF Schlock Mercenary the mercenary company "Tagon's Toughs" advances through a series of starships of various sizes, the latter three with AI shipminds that are full characters. They start with the Kitesfear (small and patched, but with excellent fire coverage), to a used Tausennigan Ob'enn Thunderhead-class superfortress (ridiculously oversized) which dubs itself the Post-Dated Check Loan, then to one of its troop boats (the Serial Peacemaker,), and most recently acquired the ship of a larger merc company, renaming it the Touch and Go.
- This says nothing compared to some of the UNS Fleet. For example, the UNS Battleplate Morokweng, a ship design originally intended to block asteroid impacts the hard way, and this particular example is implied to be even bigger than previously seen battleplates. Gets into a pissing match with both the Touch and Go and the Athens II at the same time, and is carrying enough pee to outpiss both of them and nearly feed the crushed remains into its annie plants.
- The Cloak of Untrammeled Dignity, here.
- In Ronin Galaxy, Cecil and Giancarlo amaze Taylor with their extravagant ship, while declining to answer her question about how a couple of scruffy mercs were able to afford it...
- In the comedy SF webcomic Starslip Crisis, the Fuseli is a star-traveling art museum, a repurposed "luxury battleship" originally named the Crimson Fall. It still carries its diamond-lined mahogany laser cannon.
- This ship from A Miracle of Science. The martians are not allowed to have battleships, so they call it a police cruiser.
- The White Knight from Terinu, personal fighter of Rufus Brushtail. Not only does it look cool, it's got the requisite "recovered from a junkyard" background.
- In Sluggy Freelance Torg, Riff, and Zoe are very excited to get one of these. Though Riff is a bit disappointed it doesn't come with space lasers.
- Freefall gives us the Savage Chicken, distinctly on the junky end of the scale. In the earliest strips, it's a non-flyer, without running water. Even as of July 2011, it is currently only repaired enough to serve as an orbital-only shuttle, pending funds for further work.
- Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger has two thus far—- Quinn's own ship, the Thunderbird, and the recently introduced Sapphire Star, a luxury cruise ship with a diameter measured in kilometers.
- In Girls in Space the girls' spaceship is a VW Bus
- The Chainless from Mushroom Go sails on land and is powered by a star.
- Drive has the Machito after it's upgraded, and La Invencible.
- Homestuck has the Battleship Condescension, the troll Empress's signature starship that could go near the speed of light on manual power alone. Of course, being the Empress of a vast galactic empire, she had a Ψiioniic hooked up as the main battery so that the ship could go even faster!
- Westward: The Westward itself is humanity's first starship, a giant colony-ship that can leap across the galaxy in a second under the guidance of a big-brained Martian scientist. And it packs enough power to shift the orbits of planets or create a mini super-nova if you aren't careful with the controls...
- In Commander Kitty we have the Velvet Knight, the starship of Ace and his crew. The main viewport even looks like a pair of sunglasses.
- Quite a few in Among The Chosen, but the Sabrosa stands out the most.
- Nemesis in The Last Angel is the first Dreadnaught built by Humanity and its first true warship. Chariots, the flagships of the Compact, also count.
- Orion's Arm is chock-full of Cool Starships. Even though none of them are faster-than-light, it doesn't matter since everyone is immortal anyway. Most of said starships are also sapient, and often transapient, and have extremely propulsion technology - monopole-based "conversion" drive, which can render antimatter engines obsolete, is a commonplace standard-issue drive system, and the greater AI powers use various forms of Reactionless Drive. The pinnacle of all are the Voidships, created and used only by the greatest archailects, which leave normal space altogether and exist within Alcubierre-esque void bubbles, and can only be detected as very fast moving gravitometric distortions.
- Star Trek Phoenix has the new Ascension class USS Phoenix◊
- Tech Infantry has several. The EFS Stornoway is a fleet destroyer with an experimental graviton cannon. The freighter Resolve is a rusty bucket of junk with as much personality as the Millennium Falcon. And then there are the Star Control Ships, massive warships several miles long, and the Vin Shriak Worldships, hollowed-out asteroids refitted as warships several hundred miles long. The Bugs create starships partly by gluing together the dead bodies of their own workers and soldiers with saliva.
- AH.com: The Series has several, most notably of course the eponymous MES AH.com, which subscribes to the "vast rickety old warship with skeleton crew" setting similar to Red Dwarf.
- The Concept Ships Blog. Your one-stop-shop for obscenely awesome transportation methodologies.
- The Dominion And Duchy universe has had several in fourteen 'sections' of the story so far. The main government has a Senate Tower that converts into a starship, what might be a major religious group has the Cathedrum Valencia, which is a flying tower with alabaster wings and holographic clouds swirling around it. There are also the three Earth ships that while not described are the first Earth ships to travel faster-then-light. The majority of the examples on this page are trumped by the Bellacroix. While it is the 'Capital City Ship of the Monolith Group', it is massive. It is described as being the size of the Soviet Union!
- The Unconstant Lover in The Endless Night is frequently described as a piece of junk but is also one of the most maneuverable cargo freighters in the galaxy due to the bizarre and dangerous modifications it has undergone, making it the perfect pirate spaceship.
- The setting of The Countryship Yoors qualifies for this. As the same suggests, it's a ship. The size of a country. Of course, which country is never specified...
- The Idealist, which is the first AI controlled ship created by the Tau Empire.
- Nexus Gate you yourself can own one!
- In Pay Me, Bug!, the protagonist owns one. And he just got a windfall to use in upgrading it, too!
- Comicron 1 from Atop the Fourth Wall.
- The USS Exit Strategy from To Boldly Flee. Not only can it reach Jupiter in just a few daysnote , but it's converted from The Nostalgia Critic's house. Indeed, General Zodd was so impressed, he ordered Turrell to convert their ship into a house.
- The Freelancer Project's Mother of Invention from Red vs. Blue is an incredibly cool starship, controlled by an equally cool AI.
- The ship that Sister arrives in Blood Gulch/Coagulation in ... may have a warp/relativistic/Timey-Wimey Ball drive note , is much larger on the inside, can be commandeered by an AI such as Sheila, was stolen by Tex, and is based on Halo's Cool Spaceship the Pelican dropship.
- Whateley Universe: Tennyo's ship in "Tennyo's Easter", which is fast even for an FTL craft, has an AI which may be smarter than Tennyo, and may be older than our solar system.
- On Cerberus Daily News a thread in the OOC section is all about making even more ships up to us in RPs.
- Transformers Animated the Autobots had a junky old decommissioned warship serving as their mode of transportation. While not that cool, what made it cool was in the last episodes of season 2...where it turns out the big but creaky old ship is in fact a single Transformer, Omega Supreme. There's also Lockdown's ship that has the ability to become invisible.
- The original series has the Autobots' cool ship the Ark, although it crashes in the very first episode and spends the entire rest of the series being used as a building rather than a spaceship.
- And the Decepticons' flagship, the battlecruiser Nemesis, which returned in Beast Wars and really showed off her massive destructive ability before crashing in South America, to be rediscovered later by Megatron, who took out its power core to give himself a super-boost of power. Yes, he was empowered by the engine of his personal warship.
- Fortress Maximus, like his anime counterpart, had a space battleship mode in the G1 finale "The Rebirth". Scorponok could also fly in space, in city mode... somehow.
- Transformers Cybertron gives us the Atlantis, Ogygia, Lemuria, and Hyperborea, four ancient Cybertronian starships equipped with loads of guns and self repair systems that keep them in good condition even through millennia of abandonment. The Atlantis was at the bottom of Earth's ocean, the Ogygia and Hyperborea were buried (the Hyperborea did have its temple-styled observation deck exposed, though), and the Lemuria sat for ages with its ventral decks in a lake. They can be merged into a colossal warship called the Ark. There's also Vector Prime, who turns into one.
- And not to forget the Transformers that turn into spaceships: Cosmos, Sky Lynx, Omega Supreme, Blast Off, Astrotrain, Cyclonus, Scourge...
- Among the most unique ships is the Quintesson Cruiser, which is a spinning screw shaped ship. Mostly used by the Quintessons, and the Autobots used one and impaled Unicrons eye with it.
- Transformers Armada got its name for a very good reason. Both the Autobots and Deceptions field fleets of massive starships. One of the most notable are the Axalon and the Hydra Cannon.
- The ships from Invader Zim.
- Planet Express Ship in Futurama.
- All three GPSS Absolutions from Toonami
- Mator and Captain Roger from the ''Cars Toons'' "UFM: Unidentified Flying Mater" and "Moon Mater", respectively.
- Jumba's spaceship from Lilo & Stitch, and the massive spaceship Gantu captains early in the movie.
- Aya the Interceptor◊ from the Green Lantern animated series is a Green Lantern starship. Oh, and it's the fastest thing ever created by sentient beings.
- Most ships from the French cartoon Once Upon a Time...Space. The coolest ones were the warships used by the republic of Cassiopeia.
- There is so far nothing in existence that can be called a true "spaceship", i.e, a space-equivalent of an oceangoing vessel, which could be loosely defined as a reusable space vehicle note capable of practically traversing interplanetary or at least cislunar distances note , and not necessarily aerodynamic in any sense or designed to land anywherenote . And a true starship - a spaceship which can practically traverse the huge distances between stars - is much farther off. The International Space Station was built and space and stays in space, but it doesn't go anywhere, and even the Apollo command modules were one-shot non-reusable deals. So technically, this trope is not yet Truth in Television. That doesn't stop the following quasi-examples - unmanned probes, surface-to-orbit launch craft, and realistic proposed spaceships which could be (but have not yet been) built - from being cool.
- The Space Shuttles, in spite of their flaws, qualify as "cool", if for no other reason than that they are among the relative few spacecraft recently in use (by July 2011, the fleet was retired).
- How about the shuttle and its accompanying tank/booster combo that the Soviets built?◊
- The massive Saturn V rocket, with the Apollo capsule and lunar lander were awesome.
- The Proton rocket. Most launchers launch satellites. This thing launches space stations, or at least modules thereof.
- The Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne was an awesome little white epoxy rocketplane with a unique movable tail/wings combo and blue star decals. The still-being-constructed SpaceShipTwo ups the ante by being silver and black. SpaceShipTwo has now been revealed and, yes, it is still freaking cool.
- Deep Space 1 was only an unmanned space probe, but it was propelled by an ion engine, several times more efficient than a normal (chemical) rocket. Dawn and Hayabusa are also propelled by ion engines - the latter being the first spacecraft to collect samples form an asteroid and bring them back to Earth, and the former being the first double-orbiter probe - planned to orbit the asteroid Vesta, then leave under power once its done collecting data and fly to the dwarf planet Ceres. Ion engines accelerate much much more slowly than rocketsnote so they can't be used as launch engines, but once in space, their ability to fire for a very, very long time means that they eventually hit velocities far greater than what a rocket with the same amount of propellant could manage.
- Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 — so far, among humanity's only starships, together with Pioneers 10 and 11, as they've recently left the Solar System. Bonus coolness points for the fact that they're still working after thirty years in space, plus Voyager 2 being the unique probe that has explored the four outer planets.
- The Cassini spacecraft, currently in orbit around Saturn. Extra coolness points because she carried a lander -Huygens- that landed on Saturn's moon Titan in January 2005.
- Heck, pretty much any real-life spacecraft qualifies as cool, even if only because they're going to be the great-granddaddies of everything you see above. Also, because while everything else listed above might be only plastic/CGI models in real life, these things actually go into space. Can't beat that.
- And apart from the above craft, which exist, there are plans for spaceships we could build in the near future if we had a reason to - they'd be awfully expensive, probably built in orbit like the $157 billion International Space Station, but unlike the station, they would need to have engines, large amounts of propellant, much stronger shielding and cooling, and a greater stock of supplies for manned missions, if the journey is years long and two-way with no resupply from Earth. And would thus be proportionally more expensive. Notably, chemical rockets of the sort used for launching into orbit would be woefully inadequate for taking manned missions or heavy robotic payloads to other planets, given their terrible fuel efficiency. Any true spaceship would need a far more powerful propulsion system. A few such designs existing today include:
- Project Orion/Nuclear Pulse Propulsion - a spaceship powered by frickin' nuclear bombs, which works by dropping a nuke behind it, detonating it and riding the explosion using a massive inertial plate at the back of the ship. With thousands of thermonuclear shaped charges, such a ship could conceivably reach a small fraction of the speed of light, making it useful for trips to Mars or the outer solar system, or very slow interstellar travel. Such a ship could feasibly launch from Earth directly, but with... unfortunate and rather obvious side effects. Orion, despite its inelegance, is the most powerful propulsion system presently in existence, and the closest thing we have, at the moment, to a fusion drive. BUT... it can't be built due to international treaties banning the use of nuclear weapons in space, not to mention the fear that terrorists might get their hands on some of the bombs or the technology used to manufacture them. Fictional implementations often switch it from nuclear bombs to pellets of fusion fuel mix with the detonation arising from laser-based inertial-confinement fusion.
- NERVA / Nuclear Thermal Propulsion - a spaceship powered by nuclear thermal engines, which use a fission reactor to heat up and energize a propellant before spitting it out the back at high velocity. There are several versions of the design using solid, liquid and gaseous reactor cores and various different choices of propellant. The reactor would also generate power for the ship when not being used to fire the engines.
- VASIMR / Electric Propulsion - a spaceship driven by VAriable Specific-Impulse Magnetoplasma Rockets, a type of electromagnetic plasma engine which heats propellant and ionizes it before accelerating it out through magnetic fields to generate thrust. This of course requires a source of electric power, which can be solar for inner system missions, but would probably require nuclear reactors for outer system or manned missions. An alternative to the VASIMR would be the Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster (MPDT), which uses different methods - combined electric and magnetic fields - to achieve similar effects. A prototype VASIMR module is slated to be installed on the International Space Station soon, used for station keeping (maintaining orbital altitude) and for testing the properties of plasma propulsion in an actual space environment.
- The plasma exhaust ports also look very Star Wars-esque.
- One overall proposal for a true deep space ship is the NAUTILUS-X - a large reusable vessel for human exploration of the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and interplanetary space. Designed around modular units, with an integrated centrifuge for creating artificial gravity, to be assembled in Earth orbit like a space station. The proposal is designed to use solar power, and be driven by some manner of ion or plasma propulsion. The Long-Duration variant of the design can theoretically support a crew of six for a two year mission. (The obvious destination for such a mission? Mars.)