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[[quoteright:349:[[http://www.kellysears.com/Video/TheDrift http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/spacedrift_3526.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:349:Nothing to do now but count the stars.]]

->''"It's cold outside\\
There's no kind of atmosphere\\
I'm all alone\\
More or less..."''
-->-- '''Ending theme''', ''Series/RedDwarf''

So you're watching a good old SpaceOpera or your favourite CyberPunk TV series. There's been a grand battle and within all the excitement, you forget that in an intergalactic space war so big there must have been at least a few casualties. It is of course, the writers' jobs to remind of this eventually so as to add to the drama whilst slowing the pace a little.

Next you, the casual viewer, will be shown images of the debris left behind in the battle. It will only be a matter of time before you're shown a body (or parts thereof) floating within the wreckage.

This is DramaticSpaceDrifting.

Common in ScienceFiction, this is when a spaceship blows up in a battle and relatively important characters are visible drifting through the debris, usually with all body parts intact. This is a trope based mostly in aesthetics rather than adherence to scientific fact, though a lot of modern depictions manage to accurately portray the effects of decompression on human beings (namely that a person does not explode nor freeze, instead suffocating in vacuum). Characters are usually dead, thus emphasizing the tragic consequences of the battle at a human level, but there are occasions in which characters are still alive and such occasions can either have the same effect or achieve a more comedic one.

See also ThrownOutTheAirlock.

No relation at all to MultiTrackDrifting.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/CowboyBebop''
* ''Anime/TenchiMuyo'' had living characters drift through space on at least two occasions
* ''Anime/OutlawStar'' sort of does this in the episode "Cats and Girls and Spaceships" though a flower was used instead of a human.
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' often features this, usually with a character's battered mecha, although the pilot's often still alive inside. An episode of ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'' begins with the body of a soldier from the One Year War having drifted out somewhere around Saturn. Early episodes showed the drifting corpse of Kamille's mother.
* [[spoiler:The haunting ending of]] Creator/SatoshiKon's "Magnetic Rose," the first short in ''Creator/KatsuhiroOtomo's Anime/{{Memories}}'' compilation.
* ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes''

* "The Short, Happy Life of Roons Sewell", a comic arc in the ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse'', ended with Roons' death; the front of his Y-Wing exploded, sending shrapnel through his flight suit and ejecting him into space. There's an image of him still out there during his eulogy, frozen dead with a manic smile on his face. Unusually for this trope, it's a relatively uplifting thing - he gave his life, he saved people in doing this, his sacrifice had meaning. If we cannot celebrate the moments we hold back a dark tide, why fight it at all?
* In [[RebelLeader Rogue Leader]], an ''ComicBook/XWingSeries'' comic, it was shown that a week after the Battle of Endor, the sanctuary moon's skies are still crowded with ships and bodies (and pieces of both). Some pilots, including Wedge, signed up for salvage duty, because [[DueToTheDead even Imperials deserved a proper funeral]].
* ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'': At the end of "Dark Justice", the four Dark Judges are blasted into the vacuum of space when Dredd, Anderson, and the survivors of the ''Mayflower'' escape in the aquatic dome. Dredd notes that for those monsters, floating forever will at least be some kind of justice.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/DeadSpaceDownfall'' ends with [[spoiler: Vincent's]] body floating through space, as the series theme song "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" plays.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'' when [[spoiler:Frank Poole's body is drifting.]]
* The ending of ''Film/DarkStar''. Completely PlayedForLaughs, especially given [[SoundtrackDissonance the music playing at the time]].
* ''Film/EnemyMine'' begins with a closeup of a dead pilot amidst the wreckage of his fighter during the battle.
* An underwater version of this is seen in the wreckage of the USS Montana in ''Film/TheAbyss''.
* The rock monster in ''Film/GalaxyQuest''.
* The opening shot of the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' film ''Film/{{Damnatus}}'', including a human skull for no discernible reason other than {{Grimdark}}ness.
* A quick flash during the opening space battle above Coruscant in ''Film/StarWars Episode III: Film/RevengeOfTheSith'', when the Clone fighters escorting Anakin and Obi Wan are blown up.
* The 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' film shows us how one ends up with dramatic space drifting when it depicts a person hurtling out of a breach in the hull of the ''Kelvin''. Played straight when USS Enterprise warps into Vulcan's orbit and finds the fleet that arrived shortly before has been massacred.
* ''Film/{{Alien}}'' - [[spoiler:Kane's dead body]] is shot from an airlock as if out of a cannon.
* Parodied in ''Film/SpyHard'', where General Rancor is launched into space aboard his rocket, and then floats around until he slams into an Apollo-type spacecraft, prompting a voiceover of "Houston, we have a problem".
* The plot of ''Film/{{Gravity}}'' is about two such characters, knocked free after their space shuttle is destroyed by a cloud of space debris. The question is then, how do you get back to Earth?
** There's also a few drifting corpses in some of the early scenes, some of whom aren't even wearing spacesuits.
** Also [[spoiler: the ultimate fate of Matt Kowalski]].
* An early example: George Pal's 1955 film ''Film/ConquestOfSpace'' has a crew member who is attached to a string and hanging of the side of the ship after shards from an asteroid puncture his suit. The rest of the crew quickly become unnerved by having the body dangling off the side so the commander eventually decides to release him.
* George Pal's earlier film ''Film/DestinationMoon'' had a mid-mission crisis where one of the crew accidentally falls off the side of the rocket and is stuck floating off the back. Fortunately his partners are able to save him.
* ''Film/EuropaReport'': James Corrigan provides a HeroicSacrifice by letting himself drift off into space when a failed maintenance job sprays a toxic substance over his spacesuit and he runs the risk of poisoning the atmosphere of the ship.
* [[spoiler: Hugo Drax]] in ''Film/{{Moonraker}}'', after being ejected by Bond with the classic [[PreMortemOneLiner quip]] "Take a giant step for mankind."

* This is the plot of the Creator/RayBradbury short story (and play) ''Kaleidoscope''. Most of them are live (for now), and able to talk to each other by radio till they get out of range.
** Also ''No Particular Night or Morning'', which ends with an insane astronaut jettisoning himself out into space, though unlike most examples he actually finds such a fate rather comforting.
* Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold's ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'':
** The last chapter of ''Literature/ShardsOfHonor'' focuses on a shuttle crew recovering bodies in Escobar orbit after the big battle.
** In ''Creator/{{Komarr}}'' a precise analysis of the trajectory of drifting debris is used to help determine the cause of a space accident.
* In ''[[Literature/HyperionCantos The Fall of Hyperion]]'' by Dan Simmons, one of the characters passes through a portal onto a warship that's been destroyed in the fighting -- it's open to space and full of the dead bodies of its crew.
* ''Franchise/StarWarsLegends'':
** Happens in ''Literature/{{Shatterpoint}}'' with the troop complements of a number of destroyed [[DropShip Drop Ships]] -- infantry, grenadiers, and the like. Except because they're in environment suits, they're still alive. And because they're clones, ''they keep fighting''. In fact, the associated short story "Equipment" is told through the eyes of one of these troopers. [[spoiler: [[EarnYourHappyEnding He lives]]]].
** The end of ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear: Spore'' has a Star Destroyer torn apart in the middle of an AsteroidThicket, scattering its mind-controlled crew out into the vacuum. [[spoiler: Spore's primary host is killed. It survives, but it's harmless without air and a living primary host.]]
* In ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'' Arthur and Ford are tossed off the Vogon ship. They float free for a few seconds before the Infinite Improbability Drive brings the ship to save them.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In ''Series/BabylonFive'', when Commander Sinclair finally remembers what happened at the Battle of the Line: his squad member Mitchell is ambushed and killed, and the next thing we see is his ''helmet'' drifting away, past Sinclair's front view in his Starfury.
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' had Lee floating through space after the destruction of the Blackbird, watching ''Galactica'' and ''Pegasus'' tear two Cylon basestars to pieces. Ron Moore got the idea from the story of Ensign George Gay, the only survivor of his squadron who watched the climax of the Battle of Midway while floating in the Pacific.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS19E2FourToDoomsday "Four to Doomsday"]]: Happens when the Doctor's safety line was untied while he was trying to jump through space into the TARDIS. Fortunately, he had a cricket ball in his pocket.
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS20E5Enlightenment "Enlightenment"]] gives us Turlough's PG suicide attempt.
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS28E8TheImpossiblePlanet "The Impossible Planet"]]: Scooti's body, when everyone else discovers she's been blown into space, as she's sucked into the black hole.
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS35E3UnderTheLake "Under the Lake"]] has an underwater variant. The other characters discover Pritchard is dead when they see his body floating outside the cafeteria windows.
** [[Recap/DoctorWhoS36E5Oxygen "Oxygen"]] opens with two spacesuited corpses tumbling through the void, as the Doctor gives a voiceover ChekhovsLecture on the dangers of outer space.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' did several varieties of this several times; one notable instance is D'argo and John floating in space after jumping out a ship which they'd loaded with explosives to [[spoiler:ignite an inhabited moon's atmosphere, destroying Scorpius' gammack base]].
** Another point in the series, John had to jump from a ship that was being destroyed ([[ItMakesSenseInContext after he had sabotaged it with him still on it]]), to another ship that was drifting some hundred yards away. The kicker? He did it ''without a spacesuit''.
** There was also at least two cliffhangers involving John being stranded alone in space after incidents with wormholes. The first time Moya was sucked into a wormhole while he was outside, leaving him alone in the middle of deep space, the second time he was left in orbit around Earth.
* Several times in ''Series/{{Firefly}}'':
** During the episode "Objects in Space" in which [[spoiler:Jubal Early is spaced and left to die]]. Played for comedic value at the end of the episode, where even Jubal recognizes he is performing some excellent DramaticSpaceDrifting.
--->'''Early:''' Well, here I am.
** Also in the Firefly episode "Bushwhacked" when ''Serenity'' encounters a derelict ship and then a dead body smacks into the cockpit windshield, startling Wash ([[JumpScare and the audience]]).
* In an episode of ''Series/StargateSG1'' a bad guy gets beamed out into space for holding a gun on someone. When the former hostage asks what happened to him, he drifts towards the bridge window and actually gets a shot off before smacking into it and sliding off.
* Two examples in ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', both involving Asuran replicators (nanite robots).
** The first is after an Asuran scientist does a HeelFaceTurn. When the other replicators detect this they wirelessly reprogram him, causing him to attack the Atlantis team. They beam him into outer space, with the episode closing on a shot of him floating around.
** The second is of [[spoiler:Dr. Weir (now turned replicator) and her Ascension-seeking brethren]] floating in space after she tricked them into following her through the Stargate to protect the rest of the expedition.
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' does this pretty often, but one of the standouts is in ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', "The Best of Both Worlds", part II, where we see an incredible amount of debris after the battle with the Borg at Wolf 359 - nearly forty Federations ships all blasted to pieces, amounting to ''11,000'' deaths. Of course, many would have preferred [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome actually seeing the battle]].
** Which we did, in ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'''s pilot.
** In "The Next Phase", Geordi and Ro fight a Romulan who's in phase with them, but out of phase with normal matter, thus all of them having intangibility. The Romulan attacks the pair, but is sent flying through the bulkhead and out into space, where we see him quickly drift out into space, motionless.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* The 1960s science fictional "Moon Period" in ''ComicStrip/DickTracy'' is quite justifably called a DorkAge, but it did give Chester Gould a chance to do some spectacular artwork that he couldn't have done otherwise. The scene where a murderer tosses a body out of the space coupe and leaves it drifting in the black sky is pretty chilling.

* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' had this, though it wasn't after a battle.
* ''VideoGame/QuakeIV'' brutally featured this in its [[http://youtube.com/watch?v=bMRBb00z8bg intro]].
* ''VideoGame/StarCraft'' had a scene in the Terran ending, showing an arm drifting amidst debris, blood trailing from the stump on one end, and smoke trailing from the cigarette still held between its fingers on the other.
* Sprinkled throughout the zero-gravity sections of ''VideoGame/DeadSpace''. Can be expected or a horrifying surprise depending on how well orientated you are.
** The cover also features an example; what appears to be Isaac's severed arm, floating away.
* In one of ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}: Anniversary'' terminals, the corpses of several Marines are shown floating alongside the wreckage of several UNSC ships, demonstrating what happens to any human fleet that tries to get in Thel 'Vadamee's way.
* Played with in ''VideoGame/LEGOStarWars'': the animation of the destruction of the first Death Star shows all sorts of exploding starship parts flying straight at you, ending with a flailing Stormtrooper minifig.
* ''VideoGame/EveOnline'' will have this at the site of any major PVP battle, at least until some macabre scavenger scoops up the corpses for his trophy collection.
** Anything smaller than a capital-sized vessel will look like a generic large, medium, or small-sized piece of sparking space-flotsam, depending on the size of the destroyed ship in question. Capital-sized ships, however, look like actual wrecks: they retain the appearance of the original ship while being scorched, hollow, and dark, with several sections of the outer hull missing.
* In the beginning of ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', during the attack on the ''Normandy'' SR-1, Shepard is separated from the ship and thrown out into space. His/her suit begins to leak and Shepard flails wildly as he/she falls into the atmosphere of a nearby planet and burns up.
** Fun fact: when done with male Shepard, the scene is a shot-for-shot reconstruction of [[spoiler:Frank Poole's death]] in ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey''.
* ''Videogame/WingCommander'':
** One NonStandardGameOver of ''Wing Commander I'': gained after your carrier is destroyed in a defend-the-base mission, shows your fighter drifting in space with the words, "With your carrier destroyed, you drift endlessly through the void."
** In the winning ending of ''Wing Commander II: Special Operations 2'', the empty helmet of [[spoiler: the traitor Zach "Jazz" Colson]] is shown floating in space.
** [[IncrediblyLamePun So he'd be playing the blues now?]]
** On rare occasion, after shooting down a ship in ''Privateer'', you can see a body part (often a hand or booted foot) floating in space.
** When investigating the transport destroyed in the intro of ''Wing Commander IV'', you may see [[StrippedToTheBone a charred skeleton]] floating around in space.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'', you are at one point treated to the picture of [[spoiler:Wheatley doing this in the ending. Well, all right, not terribly ''dramatic'' since he's an AI and is invulnerable to the effects of spacing, and he's got the Space Module for company.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheForceUnleashed'' this happens to [[spoiler: Starkiller]] at one point. You can also send enemies to this fate by breaking the windows on ships and getting them sucked out into space.
* It's possible to do this to yourself (or, well, the kerbalnaut you're controlling) in ''VideoGame/KerbalSpaceProgram'' if you run out of EVA pack fuel before you can reach your spaceship's capsule.
* In the first episode of ''VideoGame/TalesFromTheBorderlands'', Vasquez boasts about [[KlingonPromotion double-crossing his old boss Henderson and taking his job]], when Henderson's frozen corpse drifts pass the window of the space station. Vasquez even [[LampshadeHanging points out]] the appropriateness of the timing.
* ''VideoGame/SpaceEngineers'' features fully destructible spacecraft, zero gravity, and player ragdolls. This results in exactly what you'd expect.

* ''Webcomic/CrimsonDark''
* ''Webcomic/CtrlAltDel'' in ''Idiots In Space'' - "I didn't see any flailing if you didn't."
* [[WesternAnimation/AtomicBetty Betty]] during a side story of ''Webcomic/PowerpuffGirlsDoujinshi''.
* ''Webcomic/SamAndFuzzy'': [[http://samandfuzzy.com/1315 "Skull panda is invulnerable to the cold vacuum of space"]] ([[spoiler:The vacuum was cold]]).
* ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary''. Most people you see doing this survive, however, due to PowerArmour or BizarreAlienBiology.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Similar to the first ''VideoGame/WingCommander'' entry, above, in the episode "The Last One Left" of ''WesternAnimation/WingCommanderAcademy'', you see the empty helmet of [[spoiler:Daimon Karnes]] floating in space, at the end of the episode.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'': Bender does this after being fired out of a torpedo tube in which he was napping.
* Happens to ''WesternAnimation/BlackDynamite'', after his crappy space ship falls apart. Dynamite is saved thanks to his gun and a stereotypical black voice AI.
* The ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' episode "[[Recap/StevenUniverseS3E24Bubbled Bubbled]]" consists almost entirely of this, as Steven and Eyeball Ruby, having been ThrownOutTheAirlock in the previous episode, drift through space together.
* The ''WesternAnimation/RickAndMorty'' episode "[[Recap/RickAndMortyS3E7TheRicklantisMixup The Ricklantis Mixup]]" closes on the bodies of several Ricks and Mortys drifting around the Citadel of Ricks after being ThrownOutTheAirlock [[spoiler:by the newly elected president, Evil Morty]].