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[[quoteright:340:[[TabletopGame/BattleTech http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dropship_6404.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:340:Note the HumongousMecha[[labelnote:*]]Approximate height for that Timberwolf is 12 meters[[/labelnote]] and the large turrets.]]

->''"All hands to the Escape Testicle!"''
-->-- '''Starship Hooters 3: Undresser'''

A SciFi plot calls for a vehicle that can land on an alien planet and be somewhat badass. A SpacePlane would be cool, but you'd need a runway. So instead, you have a DropShip shaped roughly like a sphere that consists of a vertically mounted rocket engine surrounded by landing struts, fuel, cargo, a control room, and usually a ramp to offload personnel and cargo. The type of engine is unimportant. It can be an actual rocket or a HandWaved "[[DramaticAlienVTOL antigravity generator]]" or "[[PowerFloats reactionless thruster]]".

Why a sphere?
* From an aerospace engineering perspective, there could be several good reasons:
** A sphere is the only shape that is aerodynamically identical in any direction, a fact that might be of interest to a SufficientlyAdvancedAlien.
** A sphere, while doing away with wings that would be useless in space, is still more aerodynamic than, say, a cube. While it might not generate much lift, it could be quite maneuverable in both space and atmosphere.
** Spheres have been shown as an effective shape for atmospheric reentry, as demonstrated by the Soviet manned space program.
** Of all possible spacecraft shapes with the same internal volume, a sphere has the least surface area (which also means that of all possible spacecraft shapes with the same surface area, a sphere has the most internal volume.) This might make it a good choice for both commercial and military use, as it would store the most cargo per unit of armor.
* Spheres are also naturally an extremely strong shape (this is why many deep sea submersibles' pressurized crew compartments are spherical) which would help in the harsh conditions of both space and many planets with a thick atmosphere.
* More importantly to [[MostWritersAreWriters writers]], spheres are ''[[RuleOfCool cool]]''.
** Spheres are "cute". [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnWsL9mWaO0 consider this commercial]].
** Spheres are sleek, but not as stereotypical as a FlyingSaucer or RetroRocket.
** Spheres are badass. Nothing says "we mean business" like a MotherShip that looks like a wrecking ball with guns.
** Perhaps most importantly of all, spheres are [[AlienGeometries alien]], [[ButNotTooForeign but not too alien]]. We instantly recognize a sphere as a familiar shape, but not one we're used to seeing in the sky. They've got SinisterGeometry, but still clearly leave open the possibility we could find that their crews are NotSoDifferent from us.

# It ''must'' look like a spheroid. Obviously there will be some variations. Antennae, landing gear, square hatches, etc., are all fine as long as they don't detract from the fact that it's still ''basically'' a spheroid. Egg shapes and squished spheres are also OK as long as its closer to being a sphere than it is to a cylinder or FlyingSaucer. However, examples that are arguably less a sphere than a "fat vertical rocket", "rotund FlyingSaucer", "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOEEZwcmrBs sphere on a pole]]", etc. should be listed elsewhere.
# Vertical takeoff and landing. The vehicle is essentially incapable of landing like a traditional airplane. Once airborne, it can change course.
# Single-stage, surface-to-space capability. SufficientlyAdvancedAliens usually equip such vessels with interstellar capability, while more primitive variants may only be capable of going between the planet and an orbiting MotherShip.


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'': Frieza's Saiyan Pods are of the sufficiently advanced variety. There's also the larger ones adapted from that technology.
* ''Literature/AWindNamedAmnesia'' features an especially huge one.
* ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'': TheMovie deals with an AlienInvasion that uses this sort of space ship.


[[folder: Films -- Animated ]]

* The second KatyCaterpillar movie, ''Katy, Kiki & Koko'' had the shapeshifting alien use such a ship. It was not capable of taking off vertically and had to reach escape velocity by bouncing on the ground.


[[folder: Films -- Live-Action ]]

* ''Film/{{Sphere}}''. Technically not a drop ship, but still an alien "spacecraft".
* The [[http://hollywoodjesus.com/movie/et/34.jpg alien spaceship]] in ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial''.
* The classic [[http://davidszondy.com/future/space/aries.htm Aries trans-orbital shuttle]] that takes Heywood Floyd from Station V to the Moon in ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'' fits this to a T.
* ''Film/{{Starman}}'' may be the TropeCodifier.
* The alien "Gods" in ''Film/PumaMan'' is also a round sphere.
* The [[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lucrehulk-class_Core_Ship Lucrehulk-class Core Ship]] in ''[[Film/AttackOfTheClones Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones]]'' are dual purpose ships. They're the central "command" core of the Trade Federation ships (with large crescent sections surrounding them as seen in Episode I), but as those cannot enter the atmosphere in their entirety, they may also detach to be used as landing craft, or fly independently.
* The Borg Sphere in ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact'' hovers somewhere in the gray area between trope played straight and subversion.
** It's definitely a spheroid, and the only reason it's not a dropship is because Enterprise destroyed it first.
* TheRemake of ''Film/TheDayTheEarthStoodStill2008'' has a spheroid energy vessel of some sort, instead of the classic FlyingSaucer that landed on the Mall in the original.
* Film/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy movie has [[strike: [[IncrediblyLamePun a ball]]]] tons of fun with this trope.
* The spaceship in ''Film/AttackOfThe50FootWoman'', except the characters call it a satellite because the screenwriter goofed. (It was made when Sputnik had just made 'satellite' the latest buzzword.) The 1993 remake uses a straight-up FlyingSaucer.
* The lifepod in ''Film/StarshipTroopers3Marauder''.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* The derelict space craft from Creator/AndreNorton's ''Literature/TheTimeTraders'' series were giant spheres. In the second book, ''Galactic Derelict'', the heroes managed to find one intact.
* In ''Literature/{{Magnus}}'', Dragylon the Imperial Fortress is a massive, invisible, sun-sphere and headquarters of Lucifer. Dragylon also contains the GreatBigLibraryOfEverything and Lucifer's CoolChair.
* In ''The Literature/BlackFleetCrisis'', the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Yevetha]]'s thrustships are spherical, based on the surface area argument quoted above.
* The sphere is a reasonably common shape for starships in ''Literature/PerryRhodan''. Most notably, it's been traditionally used by the dominant [[HumanAliens humanoid races]] of the Milky Way galaxy, the Terrans themselves included, for their capital ships (basically anything above fighter/small craft scale) for thousands of years, so there are plenty to go around.
* Creator/EEDocSmith favoured this shape in the ''[[Literature/SkylarkSeries Skylark]]'' universe (only ''Skylark Three'' was elongated) and for the FTL capital ships in the early part of the ''Literature/{{Lensman}}'' sequence. By the time of ''First Lensman'', however, the teardrop shape is becoming more prominent and the spheres are having trouble keeping up (literally). After the first space battle in that book, no more spheres are built and it's implied the ones which exist are phased out. By Kim Kinnison's era the ships are all teardrops.
* Peter F. Hamilton's famous ''[[Literature/TheNightsDawnTrilogy Night's Dawn]]'' trilogy features a lot of spherical spacecraft (e. g. ''[[CoolStarship The Lady Macbeth]]''), due to the FTL drives creating a spherical area for the travel - anything poking out is cut off. They are mostly used by the Adamists, one of the two major factions of future humanity in that series. While they are never shown to land on planets (instead preferring to ferry freight using a SpacePlane), they could presumably land on a planet vertically due to their huge fusion engines and fuel tanks.
* Mentioned in the ''Literature/{{RCN}}'' series as relatively unpopular, as they had an unfortunate tendency to roll when landed, with all the sinking that implies (all ships in the setting preferred a water landing whenever possible). Most ships in the setting are cigar-shaped, with retractable pontoons, to avoid that very problem.
* In the ''Literature/KnownSpace'' series by Creator/LarryNiven, the General Products Corporation makes two standard hulls for starships (the Type 1 and the Type 4) which are perfectly spherical. The Type 1 is about the size of a basketball and is typically used to make space probes. The Type 4 is a kilometer in diameter and is generally used to move entire colonies all at once.
* In the book ''Literature/IllegalAliens'' the starship All That Glitters and the copies of it that the Unified Earth Government makes after the All That Glitters is confiscated are spherical. The All That Glitters literally drops out of a sunny day into Central Park. Also in that book the Great Golden Ones, the Galaxy's defacto police force, use multiple centehedronal battle-platforms to blockade Earth.
* While not strictly speaking spheres, in the ''Literature/PosleenWar'' series by Creator/JohnRingo, the centauroid Posleen utilize Command Dodecahedron (C-Dec) and Battle Dodecahedron (B-Dec) spaceships that have landing capacity as their primary invasion platforms.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* M78 Space Garrison Commander Zoffy arrives in a bright red energy sphere as ''Series/{{Ultraman}}'' [[spoiler:lies unconscious after Zetton damaged his Color Timer in the last episode.]] They both leave Earth soon after. This is a Callback to the first episode, as Ultraman himself was traveling in one of those when he accidentally collided with Hayata's ship.
* Sontaran landing craft in ''Series/DoctorWho''. Almost all Sontaran spaceships are spherical, not just their drop ships.


[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'''s Sphereoid-type dropships are the TropeNamer. Sphereoids have superior cargo capacity over conventional [[SpacePlane Aerodyne dropships]] and do not require any runways to land or takeoff. However, they have no lift surfaces, making them totally dependent on their fusion rockets for ascent, descent, and directional control; if they fail, the ship drops like a rock, destroying anything on board and anything within [[ColonyDrop several hundred meters]]. Not all models of dropship with this design paradigm are "spheroid" either, a more apt descriptor for some of them would be "ovoid".
* The ''Broadsword'' class mercenary cruiser in ''TabletopGame/{{Traveller}}''. Oddly, though its description says it can't land on planets with atmospheres, one does exactly that in ''Adventure 7 Broadsword''.
* The Kroot of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' are known to have space-capable "warspheres".


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Bungie's new game ''Videogame/{{Destiny}}'' features The Traveller, a ''Film/{{Sphere}}''-like being that uplifted Humanity, which got mysteriously smacked down a few decades later after exploring the Solar System. The Traveller's [[BlueAndOrangeMorality motives are unknown]], though it seems generally helpful.
* These are present in the ''VideoGame/MechWarrior'', ''VideoGame/MechAssault'', and ''Videogame/MechCommander'' game series, which are based on ''Tabletopgame/BattleTech''. For the most part, they function as a StationaryBoss, with huge amounts of armor and high-powered weapons. ''Mechassault 1'' starts off with a ComingInHot landing by a sphereoid dropship after it was damaged by anti-air fire, causing it to smash into the ground and damage or destroy most of its [[HumongousMecha BattleMechs]]. The ships' idiot technician cannibalizes parts from heavy battlemechs to repair a ''Cougar'' scout mech, much to the annoyance of the commander.
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'': The Didact's "combat" Cryptum in ''VideoGame/{{Halo 4}}''. It's not his main ship, though.
* ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankFutureToolsOfDestruction'' featured a few of these as escape pods, used both in the story for a quick getaway and in gameplay to take you to a different part of the level. They would not be featured again, however ''[[RatchetAndClankIntoTheNexus Into the Nexus]]'' would reveal that it was rather luxurious as it had a holo-screen, wet bar, games console and massaging seats. It would also explain why it disappeared: activating all the features at once would cause it to explode, forcing a recall.