Wagon Train to the Stars
Adventure Towns or the Planet of Hats are just a "hyperjump" away. The term comes verbatim from Gene Roddenberry's original pitch for Star Trek: The Original Series to NBC in the middle of the 1960s, and references the early Western show Wagon Train, which was about a wagon train making its way west. The original is now less well known than the "...to the stars" phrase, making it an example of the "Weird Al" Effect. Note that these shows need not necessarily take place in outer space. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, for example, was essentially a Wagon Train to the Stars show, underwater. (so, recycled in the ocean?) The ship is often enough, as in Wagon Train, a colonization/settlement effort that never quite gets to its destination, at least until the finale. If the ship has no fixed destination (Doctor Who, Firefly) then this overlaps with Walking the Earth, sharing most of the same tropes. In either case, it may feature the Bold Explorer. Compare Space Western, Space Opera.
Anime and Manga
- Macross aka Robotech features this in a way when Macross City is rescued after a "space fold" accident and housed in the titular ship; the successor TV shows, Macross 7 and Macross Frontier take place on actual, literal stellar wagon trains (complete with collapsible roofs) intended to colonize planets.
- Uchuu Senkan Yamato, especially the "Quest For Iscandar"
- SF Saiyuki Starzinger (dubbed as "Spaceketeers" in the US), a sci fi retelling of the classic Asian story Journey to the West (Saiyuki) does this as well (the dub however, changes the Saiyuki references to Three Musketeers references).
- Galaxy Express 999. Bonus point for having the main characters travel in an ACTUAL space train.
- Animorphs: The journey that Marco, Santorelli, Menderash, Jeanette, Tobias and Jake take aboard the Rachel to find the Blade ship was this, at least according to Marco. We never get the details of their adventures, though.
- Night on the Galactic Railroad
- Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky has interstellar colonization by means of quite literal wagon trains, using artificial gateways to get to their destination planets. They're not the focus of the book, but twice we see wagon trains preparing to embark.
- Star Wars has an evil version: the Yuuzhan Vong. They're from another galaxy, and had to travel millions of light-years at slower than light speed. They came in a HUGE fleet.
- So huge, in fact, that the novels created a Retcon stating that the primary reason the Empire constructed the Death Star and its other superweapons was to use them against the Yuuzhan Vong. The fact that they could be used to enforce their rule through fear and to fight the Rebellion was merely a bonus.
- In Melanie Rawn's unfinished The Exiles trilogy, colonists from Earth find a new home in another solar system. Rawn named their spaceship after the actual wagon one of her ancestors rode out West.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek and spinoffs (except Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which was set on a space station) is both the Trope Maker and the Trope Codifier. The trope is the phrase Gene Roddenberry used to pitch the show to network executives.
- Doctor Who
- Red Dwarf
- Battlestar Galactica (Classic) (and its 21st century Continuity Reboot of the same name) took it further by having a small 'ragtag fleet' of ships under the Galactica's protection, forming a literal Wagon Train to the Stars (well, minus the wagons anyway. And they were trying to get to Earth, from the stars, but that's not important right now).
- Space: 1999
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
- The second season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
- Stargate SG-1 has often been this, especially in its first seasons. Technically, it doesn't take place on a spaceship, but there's not much practical difference between a base that stays inside a mountain and has a gate to a new world each week, and a ship that actually travels to a new world each week.
- Stargate Universe, however, fits this perfectly.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. There is a colony ship which is traveling to another planet. Evil aliens keep attacking and damaging it, and some of the damage can't be repaired, so while they started off with 10 engines, by the end they have only one, then zero. But, they did eventually get to their destination, which was covinently the home planet of the alien team member none of them had any way of knowing it was beforehand.
- Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito is a literal Wagon Train Through The Books.
- Kingdom Hearts makes this a prominent (and very convenient) aspect of gameplay.
- Super Mario Galaxy (though without the spaceship).
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 has a spaceship ("or should I say faceship?!")
- While the Galaxy in Mass Effect has a very effective and fast hyperspace highway network and the player never quite goes out of their way to explore new frontiers, the Normandy, her crew and the assorted adventures they have over the course of an overarching plot remain the heart and soul of the series' appeal.
- The Quarian race have been living the life of space nomads for the past 300 years. While most of the spacefaring species are organized in the Citadel Council, the quarians lost their homewold in a Robot War and have been living on spaceships ever since. They travel the stars as scavengers who salvage wrecked ships, until one day they find a way to take back their ancestral home with the protagonist's help.
- Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go, in later seasons.
- Book one in the Star Trek: New Earth series is called "Wagon Train to the Stars". The book is nothing less than LITERALLY that. A group of civilian settlers embark on a nine month journey at warp two to the Occult system to colonize the planet Belle Terre as a new colony. At the last second, Starfleet decides to get involved, giving the settlers a four ship UFP escort led by (of course) the starship Enterprise under the command of the original space cowboy, Jim Kirk. In fact, the only way that the Council, and Spock (who was in command of the Enterprise as this takes place between TMP and TWOK) would even leave Federation space was if Kirk was in command of the Enterprise. The colonists are on Conestoga-class ships (partially designed by Scotty), most of which have Western-style names (i.e. the pathfinder ship is called the Rattlesnake, the hotel/casin vessel is Uncle Jake's Pocket), and when they fell under attack just after reaching the Occult system, they 'sphered the ships' with Kirk saying (and this is a DIRECT quote from the book)"It's an old defensive tactic. Circling the wagons, only in three dimensions instead of two."