Podcast / Wolf 359

Your home away from home... seven and a half light years from Earth.

"Here I am floating in a tin can, no one to talk to except G.I. Jane, Russian Doctor Doom, and Deep Blue Barbie, and my hotel room missed the delivery area for the nearest Domino's by a couple of solar systems."
Communications Officer Doug Eiffel

Wolf 359 is a Sci-Fi Sitcom Radio Drama, with strong Horror and Thriller elements mixed in. It chronicles the adventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Hephaestus, a (fictional) space station orbiting around Wolf 359, a (real) star located 8 light years away from Earth. The stalwart team of misfits has been tasked with a series of experimental tasks and obscure mission objectives, among them searching for signs of alien life.

The show begins in an audio diary format, as we hear the various logs the crew records about the day-to-day happenings around the station. Later, it transitions into a more dialogue-based radio play. Most episodes focus on the difficulties of living in isolated deep space conditions or on the various conflicts between the volatile members of the crew. Said crew is made up by Mission Commander Reneé Minkowski, the Action Girl, Control Freak captain, Dr. Alexander Hilbert, the resident Mad Scientist and bunny-ears doctor, Hera, the station's A.I. Is a Crapshoot auto-pilot, and Communications Officer Doug Eiffel, the show's Reference Overdosed Lazy Bum of an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. They are later joined by the previous commander of the Hephaestus, the Properly Paranoid Deadpan Snarker, Captain Isabel Lovelace.

The series strikes a balance between off-beat Black Humor and genuinely suspenseful and creepy stories, depending on the episode. A lot of this comes courtesy of the show's crapsack spaceship setting - sure, the show's episodes cover the day-to-day activities on the station, but on this station that can cover everything from encounters with radioactive mutant abominations, World Gone Mad bureaucratic regulations, and the increasingly difficult task of keeping their space submarine from springing a leak. Combine that with liberal doses of Paranoia Fuel and the steadily growing sense that there is more than meets than the eye to the mission and the crew, and you start to get the picture.

Early installment could easily be described (for better and for worse) as an attempt to do Night Vale in space, even down to a recurring musical element. Fortunately, the most glaring of these elements faded into the background fairly quickly, replaced by a stronger focus on the interplay between the lead characters. Recent episodes can more accurately be described as what you would get if the team from Archer was stuck in the plot from Contact while working for the Cigarette-Smoking Man.

A web original audio drama, Wolf 359 is available for download on its official website. The show is currently on its fourth season, with new episodes released every two weeks. Aside from the official webpage, the show also has a Facebook page, a Twitter, and a Tumblr.

Despite the title, no direct connection to Star Trek.

This podcast provides examples of:


  • Absentee Actor: "Cigarette Candy" only has two of the three main cast members.
  • Adult Fear: In "Limbo", Doug reveals that he drunkenly caused a car crash that deafened his infant daughter and seriously injured two high schoolers.
    • For Minkowski, the realization that her crew (and especially Doug) look to her for instructions when she often doesn't know what to do, and might not be able to get everyone home alive.
    • Similarly, Lovelace was unable to save her crew, and is traumatized as a result.
    • Hera's fear of people "putting their fingers in [her] head" initially seems pretty AI specific, but definitely corresponds to some very human adult fears: losing or forgetting herself (as to a brain injury or senility), losing control of herself/being violated, being erased/"killed", etc.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Dear Listeners imitate Eiffel's voice in order to communicate with the crew. Later, we see that they can replicate crew members, even copying their memories and emotions. It's uncertain whether this is because they are EldritchAbominations or because it's actually the easiest way for them to make contact.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with. Hera is, by and by, probably the most pleasant person on the station, and she seems generally happy to do her job and keep the station working. However, she is also prone to miscalculations or systems errors, as well as (possibly) deliberate misunderstandings of orders or requests. All of which often leads to situations that are extremely uncomfortable and/or dangerous to the human members of the crew.
    • Her section of "Am I Alone Now?" also revealed her private impatiences and frustrations with the crew, as well as her idle fantasies about what life would be like if she didn't have to deal with them.
    Hera: Maybe one day, (...) I'll come up with some names for these colors. Yes, I like that idea. I think I'll do that. Someday after you're all gone away...
    • And in "Need to Know", it's revealed that at one point, Hera tried to circumvent the programming preventing her from killing the crew of the Hephaestus.
    • In "Limbo", they reveal that Hera tried to break out of the facility she was created in.
    • However, this also seems averted by "Limbo", which shows Hera having a panic attack. "Memoria" also shows that she has insecurities and feels isolated from the rest of the crew - she seems more human than homicidal when compared to the prior episodes cited above.
      • Arguably, Hera's personhood is the very thing that makes her an embodiment of this trope. She isn't a power-hungry murderbot trying to overthrow mankind, she's a sentient being...which makes her resentful of taking orders. Even her attempts to override the first law are more motivated by a need for autonomy than by cruelty.
    • By "Desperate Measures" she can completely override her programming, even ignoring direct orders, at least for a short period of time.
  • The Alcoholic: We learn in season three that Eiffel is recovering, which makes a lot of the jokes he's made in past seasons Harsher in Hindsight.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: The transmissions of classical music are eventually found to be the Dear Listeners trying to find us, as our invention of music is our greatest technological achievement.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Or at least, producing English by mixing Eiffel's audio transmissions. Although they have yet to figure out what is meant by 'crazy wamajama.'
  • AlsoSprachZarathustra: As if Eiffel's over the top speech in "Cataracts and Hurricanos" weren't enough, this is playing in the background.
  • Alternate History: Implied - casual AI, and infrastructure in deep space exist in the world of Wolf 359, which seems to occur not long after 2012.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: No matter how far up someone is in the chain of command at Goddard Futuristics, (example being Hilbert) there's usually someone bigger and scarier. Example being Kepler and Jacobi. Even for Kepler.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The Season One finale was neither peaceful, nor jolly.
  • And Then Lovelace Was An Alien: Made extra ironic when you think of all the times she accused Hilbert/Kepler/etc. of not being human, or when you consider that her first message in "Happy to Be of Assistance" involved her pretending the ship was under attack by aliens.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Kepler threatens to shoot Eiffel in the head. Minkowski responds by shutting down the station's engines and preparing to let it fall into the star.
  • Annoying Patient: Eiffel in "Cigarette Candy." In retrospect, Hilbert deserves it.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Hilbert name-drops this trope with mocking frustration in "Knock Knock."
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: When Maxwell confronts Jacobi about the way he lost his cool during "Time to Kill," it involves a few of these.
  • Artistic Licence – Astronomy: The series has been all over the place in terms of accuracy, though it has made the effort to be mostly correct. For instance, listeners who are familiar with the physics of light will have picked up immediately that the music transmissions Doug listens to throughout the early installments weren't from Earth. Things like the true nature of Wolf-359 are inaccurate, but it's commented on in-universe. However, the series takes a lot of licenses in thermodynamics, orbital mechanics, and basic physics. Solar storms do not have event horizons, and stars can't instantly change color or increase their own mass. That ain't how it works.
    • To be fair all the characters present freak out because they know darn well that the star shouldn't be doing that. Also the star didn't really do it by itself...
  • Author Appeal: You can get a pretty good idea of what types of media Gabriel Urbina and Sarah Shachet like based on this show. There are references to audio dramas such as Cabin Pressure and Our Fair City, shout-outs to musicals (especially the work of Stephen Sondheim) such as Follies and Sunday in the Park with George, and of course lots of science fiction: Farscape, Star Wars, and the works of Joss Whedon (with all the Mood Whiplash that entails.)
  • Bad Dreams: Lovelace has nightmares of her previous time on the Hephaestus.
  • Bald of Evil: Hilbert is established as this in "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story", though it's closer to Bald of Ambiguous Morals than evil.
    • Prematurely Bald: He's been that way since he was 5, courtesy of radiation poisoning. As noted below, Hilbert was the lucky one.
  • Batman Gambit: Eiffel's plan in "Gas Me Twice": impersonating a member of Command to keep Hilbert distracted, then goading him into overriding the programming protocol that was controlling Hera. It could have gone wrong in a hundred different ways, if not for the fact that Hilbert is so predictable.
    • Bonus points because it all had to come together before Minkowski ran out of air.
    • Eiffel comes up with another one to defeat SI 5 in "Desperate Measures". It does not go so well.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Minkowski doesn't want to hurt anyone, and is generally in favor of Team What's Wrong With Handcuffs. Given bad enough circumstances, though, she might contemplate napalming the Urania crew, or shoot Maxwell in cold blood.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: "Memoria" has this, with Hera and Maxwell in Hera's memory, fighting her anxiety.
  • Because I Said So: Cutter and Kepler both pull this card.
    Cutter: It is an issue because I am right here telling you it is an issue.
  • Befriending the Enemy: The crews of the Hephaestus and Urania spend a lot of time on friendly terms. That doesn't mean they're friends.
  • Berserk Button: The only thing that makes Doug Eiffel resort to physical violence? Threatening his daughter.
  • Better the Devil You Know: Both Hilbert and Lovelace are untrustworthy, but act along with the original crew when an outside threat is bad enough.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Doctor Hilbert and Alana Maxwell
  • Big Bad Ensemble: SI 5
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Eiffel uses a variation of this in the episode "Little Revolucion", insisting "hostage is such an ugly word, commander" right before threatening to destroy the remaining toothpaste if Minkowski or Hilbert come any closer.
  • Blatant Lies: Nary an episode goes by without Eiffel invoking this in some way, shape, or form. The other characters see through him a good portion of the time.
  • Blood from the Mouth: How we know the Decima is getting out of control.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Season 2 ends with Lovelace in critical condition, the station unstable, the aliens on the intercom, and Doug getting blasted into space in a nonfunctioning vessel.
  • Bottle Episode: Given that all episodes are set within the confines of the Hephaestus and feature the limited cast of four characters ( well, all early episodes anyway), all episode fit this trope to a certain degree. Special mention must be made, however, of "The Sound and the Fury," which takes place entirely within the same room and in continuous time.
    • "Mayday", though it definitely does not take place in continuous time, is even more claustrophobic.
    • "Time to Kill" takes this up to eleven.
  • Brain Upload: The backup plan Command gave Hilbert. If the mission fails, they will leave him to die, but first, he will be able to send everything he knows back to Earth, allowing his work to continue.
  • Bound and Gagged: Eiffel's preferred method of dealing with problems. (He likes it better than murder.)
  • Break The Gamebreaker: Hera is a near-omniscient supercomputer who, in addition to being computationally smart, is also unusually resourceful and adaptable. She also has what basically amounts to the AI version of anxiety, which leads her to occasionally malfunction, sometimes in near-disastrous ways, and various villains have attempted to control her or shut her down when she gets too obstructive.
  • Breather Episode: After a five episode arc at the end of season one/start of season 2 that involved many dramatic twists, a major character reveal, a character dying and coming back to life, a quick succession of life-and-death situations, and enough Paranoia Fuel to run a paranoia 747... "Bach to the Future" basically consists of three characters sitting around and talking, trying to find a way to pass the time on a boring night. And that's pretty much all that happens in that episode. The characters joke around, play some games, and grow a bit closer, but plot-wise there's almost nothing to speak off. Following a particularly relentless high-octane story arc, it comes across as a major gear shift.
    • Minkowski, Commanding is another one right up until the last minute, where it becomes a Wham Episode.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Eiffel is definitely smarter and more qualified than he looks.
  • Broken Bird: Implied of Captain Lovelace. When we hear her earlier logs she seems like a kind Reasonable Authority Figure. By the time of the podcast, after seeing her friends die and appearing in the same station she wanted to escape, she's... not.
  • Butt-Monkey: Eiffel is put through all manner of painful, humiliating, and/or demeaning plotlines. Whether it's getting submerged in sub-zero temperatures, being knocked out and stuffed in a broom closet, getting attacked by the station's Space Mutant Plant Monster, ending up adrift in space and breaking his arm (all while temporarily blinded, mind you), being casually experimented on by another member of the crew, or ending up with a deadly, venemous spider inside his clothing, almost any story on the show will involve misfortune for the Communications Officer.
  • Buffy Speak: Eiffel's speech patterns often end up here, especially when it comes to describing the more technical or complicated parts of the Hephaestus.
    Minkowski: Connect two tethers together, then attach them to the restraint. That should be enough slack for me to reach him with my propulsion maneuvering unit.
    Eiffel: Is that your jetpack thingy?
    Minkowski: Yes, Eiffel, that's my jetpack thingy!
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": Hera will occasionally do this, usually in response to humans treating her differently because she's an AI.
    Hera: Careful, commander, your biology's showing.
    • But we also see this Subverted in "Bach to the Future", when Hera reassures Eiffel that she doesn't actually see him that way.
    Hera: I don't think you're just an experimental meatbag.
  • Callback: Quite a few.
    • Hera convinces a suspicious Eiffel to work with Maxwell in "Overture" by quoting the speech he gave her in "Gas Me Twice"
    Hera: So be here, and talk to us.
    • "Memoria" contains quite a few, which makes sense, since it literally takes place within Hera's memories. We hear the "count to 10" scene from Pan-Pan, as well as the pep talk Minkowski gave Hera at the end of "Let's Kill Hilbert." There is also an audio montage containing many other lines from the show.
    • The Empty Man gets a lot of callbacks. In "Mutually Assured Destruction" we hear a bit of Eiffel telling Lovelace about that fiasco, and Eiffel often wonders out loud whether any other aspects of their mission are similarly tasteless psychological experiments. In "Time to Kill":
    Eiffel: This is just like the Empty Man all over again! ...Oh goddamn it, none of you were here for the Empty Man!
    • In "Desperate Measures," Eiffel cautions Lovelace about "poking the bear"—that is, pissing off an already pissed-off Kepler. Lovelace was similarly reminded not to poke the bear by Maxwell and Jacobi in the episode bearing that title.
  • Calvinball: Funzo, the craziest board game of 1973
    Minkowski: Price and Carter 792: Of all the dangers that you will face in the void of space, nothing compares to the existential terror that is Funzo.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: One of the reasons Eiffel and Minkowski opted not to kill Hilbert after his mutiny despite Cutter's orders was that Eiffel needed him to keep the Decima virus under control.
  • Cessation of Existence: Presumably what would have happened to Hera if Maxwell had overwritten her with the dummy program.
  • Characterization Marches On: The original main characters of the show all began as fairly stock sitcom tropes. They have come a long way since then.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Emergency Protocol Override 34 stroke C.
    • Eiffel's gas mask.
    • Lovelace's bomb.
  • Christmas Episode: "Deep Breaths" and "Gas Me Twice" are set on Christmas Day. The episodes were even released as a holiday two-parter, one on December 24th and one on December 25th.
    • "A Matter of Perspective", despite being released during the summer, is also this, although it is notably low on holiday cheer.
    • "Bolero" was released on Christmas, although it does not take place on Christmas canonically. No holiday cheer was employed in the making of this episode.
  • Cliffhanger: The first season only contained one cliffhanger ending: in "Deep Breaths." The first half of Season 2 was also pretty sparing with these, with the exception of the Wham Line at the end of "Minkowski Commanding." But beginning with "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story" and continuing through Season 3, almost every episode ends this way.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Eiffel insists on peppering his speech with as many crazy pop culture references, shout-outs, and mash-ups as he possibly can. Given that it's pretty stiff competition between Minkowski, Hera, and Hilbert to find the person with the lowest pop culture I.Q., about half the stuff he says probably just comes across as the incoherent gibberish to the other characters on the show.
  • Comic Role Play:
    • In "Super Energy Saver Mode," Eiffel tries impersonating Minkowski to try to figure out a way out of a dangerous situation. This being Eiffel, it's a matter of seconds before he's manning both sides of an argument between himself-as-Minkowski and himself-as-himself and any sense of urgency or danger has been promptly forgotten.
    • In the live show "Deep Space Survival Procedure & Protocol," Eiffel and Minkowski put on mocking impressions of each other to the point of it pretty much turning into a screaming fight of total insanity.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Minkowski's section of "Am I Alone Now?" reveals that she's keenly aware of the various inconsistencies and paranormal phenomena that has been occurring on the Hephaestus, and that she is extremely suspicious of the other members of the crew.
    • Lovelace was and is this, particularly where Hilbert's involved.
  • Computer Voice: Eiffel has a whole conversation with one of these in "Am I Alone Now." It turns out to just be Eiffel talking to himself with a gag voice box.
    • In a not-so-funny example, the Hephaestus sounds like this after Hera's personality core is ripped out.
  • Cowardly Lion: Eiffel is hardly the paragon of bravery, but he's shown to be quick on his feet and has saved multiple lives by at least trying to keep a level head in the face of danger.
    Eiffel: Oh, I'm a man of many fears.
  • Credits Gag: Almost every episode's closing credits have some shout-out or reference to the events of the preceding installment.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season three gives us multiple character deaths, huge amounts of conspiracy, the revelation that everyone on Earth thinks Eiffel and Minkowski are dead, the fact that Doug is a felon, and an alien clone on board the station. Episode two was about toothpaste.
  • Dead All Along: Seems Captain Lovelace didn't survive her escape from the original Hephaestus after all...
    Kepler: You've never met Isabel Lovelace. She has been dead for a very, very long time.
  • Deadly Euphemism: In a flashback, Hera is told to think of being switched off and put into cold storage as being "decommissioned", not killed. As it entailed her consciousness being turned off with little hope of it being turned back on again, she failed to see the difference.
    • In "Desperate Times" Hilbert refers to napalming Kepler, Jacobi, and Maxwell as "making our problems go away."
  • Dead Man Switch: Lovelace is nothing if not prepared
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hera, usually in response to dumb questions (or general stupidity) from Eiffel. Season 2 has brought this out in Minkowski.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Bolero has three: one between Minkowski and the recently-deceased Lovelace, one between Hera and the recently-deceased Maxwell, and one between Doug and the recently-deceased Hilbert.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After discovering he has to travel at least a lightyear in a broken ship, without water and without a working cryostasis pod, Eiffel reaches this. He starts to speak in a quiet, exhausted monotone, resigned to the fact that his previous efforts to stay alive had been All for Nothing and that he's going to die in deep space, alone, in a broken-down spacecraft, without the chance to say goodbye to the people he loves.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Hera spends a lot of time shut down or partially incapacitated, presumably because when she is fully functioning she's a supercomputer with a brain the size of a mac truck.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: What inevitably ends up happening when Eiffel gets mixed up in the fight between Minkowski and Hera in "The Sound and the Fury." After a few minutes of attempted peacekeeping, he's admitted to thinking that one of them is obstinate and that the other one is untrustworthy. His attempts to fix it mostly result in him admitting that he's repeatedly lied to both of them.
  • Doppelgänger: Jacobi meets his in "Time to Kill."
  • Downer Ending: It's not like there are many episodes that end happily, at least in the latter part of the series, but "Desperate Measures" deserves special mention.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Eiffel almost does this in Bolero, but stops himself before he goes too far.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: After the plot-heavy, angst-heavy later episodes, returning to the triviality of Season 1 can be really jarring. The characters are also portrayed very differently between Seasons 1 and 2: Season 1 Eiffel is completely useless and pretty unsympathetic, while Eiffel in later seasons is portrayed as a lazy guy who hasn't read the manual, but who is nonetheless intelligent, empathetic, and good at his job. Season 1 Hera is a pretty stereotypical Humans-Are-Meatbags AI, while in later seasons she's rebellious and understandably against people controlling her via her programming, but nonetheless cares deeply about her crew. Season 1 Hilbert is pretty goofy and has a weird high squeaky voice, whereas Hilbert in Seasons 2 and 3 is a morally gray, any-means-to-an-end murderer with a voice lower than his moral standards. Of the four Minkowski's character changes (notably the removal of the stick from her butt) are most easily attributed to character development, but even for her, the differences between Seasons 1 and 2 are jarring.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dear Listeners are likely this.
  • Enemy Mine: The crew required the help of Hilbert multiple times over the course of Season 2 to deal with various problems, including bringing Hera back online, fighting Doug's Decima outbreak, and trying to convince Isabel Lovelace to not blow up the station. By the end of Season 2, Lovelace has joined the team as well. By Season 3, Lovelace is no longer seen as an enemy (she's more of a really scary friend) but Hilbert still falls into this category.
    • Hilbert and Lovelace have lot of bad blood between them, because Hilbert betrayed Lovelace and her crew during the last Hephaestus mission. But when no one else is willing to take drastic action against SI 5, they team up to make napalm.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Hilbert was motivated to develop the Decima virus after his entire family died from nuclear fallout.
    • Daniel Jacobi and Alana Maxwell have an adorable friendship and clearly care a lot about each others' well being.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Jury's out on whether Hilbert is evil, but he sure as hell can't comprehend how Eiffel managed to convince Minkowski not to napalm everyone simply by making her laugh.
  • Evil Counterpart: SI-5 is a bit of this for the old Hephaestus crew. Kepler is the evil counterpart to Minkowski, and Jacobi is the evil counterpart to Eiffel. Maxwell would be the evil counterpart to Hilbert, except that they're both so morally ambiguous it's difficult to tell who is worse.
  • Evil Laugh: Kepler gives a terrifying one in Desperate Measures.
  • Family of Choice: On Team Hephaestus we have Minkowski, Eiffel, Hera, and Lovelace. Depending on who you ask, Hilbert may or may not be included in that group hug. On Team Urania we have Kepler, Jacobi, and Maxwell.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mr. Cutter, the crew's liaison with Goddard Futuristics and supervisor, is exceedingly polite, soft-spoken, and personable. In fact, he is all of these things to such an exaggerated degree that it comes across as a bit unnerving. He is also a master manipulator, expert chessmaster, and all-powerful corporate executive. Combine all of that with his propensity to play mind games with his underlings and his position of authority over the protagonists, and you get very bad news indeed. At this point in the series the characters know that he's planning something bad, which probably involves their murder, but the details of his evil plan are still a mystery. The fact that he's so overbearingly polite and friendly just makes him feel more unnerving and unpredictable.
  • Feud Episode: "The Sound and the Fury" is mostly Hera and Minkowski fighting. It's pretty petty.
    • "Pan-Pan" features EVERYONE fighting, and it's...less petty.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: It seems incredibly unlikely in the first episode, but by the start of Season 2 Eiffel and Minkowski are very much this.
  • First Contact: The original crew thinks they've done this. In reality, first contact happened in the 70s.
  • First Law of Tragicomedies: Generally followed. As the seasons grow darker, much of the humor is left to filler episodes such as "All Things Considered" and "A Matter of Perspective." There aren't an awful lot of jokes in Bolero.
    • That said, the goofy episodes usually have their darker moments (The pig joke in "A Matter of Perspective," the revelation of Eiffel's past in "Need to Know") and the dark episodes have their moments of lightness (Eiffel completely butchering military protocol in "Desperate Times", for example).
  • Five-Man Band:
    • The Leader: Minkowski
    • The Lancer: Hera
    • The Smart Guy: Hilbert
    • The Big Guy: Lovelace
    • The Chick: Doug
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A lot of fans have pointed out that the entire first season can be taken as foreshadowing for stuff yet to come, in that the plots of many of the goofy early episodes are smaller-scale, less-catastrophic versions of the plots of later episodes.
      • In "Little Revolution" Eiffel attempts a mutiny. In "Deep Breaths", Hilbert attempts a mutiny. In "Desperate Times", the Hephaestus crew attempts a mutiny.
      • In both "Cataracts and Hurricanoes," and "Mayday," Eiffel is blasted away from the Hephaestus and water is a problem.
      • "Pains and Irregularities" and "Cigarette Candy" both foreshadow the Decima arc.
      • The titular figure of "The Empty Man" can be interpreted as the aliens, which can imitate human form. Furthermore, the messages in the episode all describe what the Empty Man is doing, and while the first few are pretty vague, the last few correspond to very distinct events in the Dear Listeners plot. ("Two: The Empty Man sees you" could be a reference to the DL's reception and interpretation of Eiffel's logs. "One: The Empty Man shall knock" describes exactly what Jacobi's double did in "Time to Kill". And as of "Bolero," we've made it through the countdown, all the way to "Zero: The Empty Man is with you."
      • In "Super Energy Saver Mode", Hilbert accidentally causes Hera to go off-line.
    Hera: I'm just afraid that sooner or later that man is going to do something reckless and some- [shuts down]
    • In Lovelace's backstory ep, Greensboro, she is asked whether she is an alien. She isn't...yet.
    • In her first appearance in "Mutually Assured Destruction" Eiffel suggests that Lovelace might be a robot or a clone. He's not wrong.
  • Freakout: Eiffel has a pretty spectacular one in "Into The Depths".
    Kepler: Like I said-
    Minkowski: Eiffel, you're freaking out!
  • Friendship Moment:
    • "Cataracts and Hurricanoes" has two: Minkowski comforting the wounded Eiffel, and Hera playing him the recording of the transmission he was trying to intercept.
    • Minkowski laughing at Eiffel's joke (at her expense, no less) in "The Kumbaya Approach."
      • Especially moving as it's pretty much the first time in the show that Minkowski has done something as human as laughing.
    • A slightly surprising one in "Knock Knock": After a massive paranoid shouting match wherein weapons were drawn, the tension breaks as Minkowski and Eiffel have a genuinely cute moment about how she could end him unarmed but wouldn't because he's (in his words) "too pretty." It's a much-needed light spot in an otherwise very dark, emotional, and chaotic episode and a nice reminder that, at the end of the day, these two really do trust each other.
    • Minkowski and Eiffel in "Securitae" after she discovers Eiffel is still alive and gets him to shut up by hugging him so hard he can't breathe.
    • Eiffel and Minkowski's reconciliation in "Desperate Times."
  • From Bad to Worse: This show in a nutshell.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The crew on board the Hephaestus originally consists of two men (Doug and Hilbert) and two women (Hera and Minkowski.) After the new character introductions in seasons 2 and 3, the number of people on board has doubled in size, but the gender ratio is again equal, with two more men (Jacobi and Kepler) and two more women (Lovelace and Maxwell.) Meanwhile, at Command, the only characters with speaking parts are Cutter and Rachel, a man and a woman respectively.
  • Genre Roulette: Some episodes (especially the earlier ones) are essentially an office sitcom in space. The show contains a lot of horror elements in general, but certain episodes ("The Empty Man" and "Time to Kill," for instance), are especially rooted in that genre. We also have "The Paranoia Game"-one part whodunnit, one part screwball comedy; "Minkowski Commanding," which is like something out of a roadrunner cartoon; "All Things Considered," a Rashomon story; and "Memoria," an experimental psychological thriller.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Minkowski smacks Eiffel during his Freakout in "Into The Depths". When he refuses to calm down, she smacks him again.
  • Get It Over With: After she and Eiffel have been caught mid-mutiny, Lovelace asks a monologuing Kepler if he could just get to torturing them already, since she'd prefer that over listening to him talk.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Up until recently the podcast kept its language pretty PG, which led to a few moments like this:
    Eiffel: Ffffffrequencies! Amplitude! Watts! Buttons! I'm working!
  • Giant Spider: The podcast format allows us all to individually decide exactly how big the extreme danger bug is, but we know that it is both hairy and slimy.
  • Gilligan Cut: From Episode 50:
    Eiffel: I... I guess we could check with Kepler? See if he had any good ideas.
    Lovelace: Oh for God's sake, no. We're desperate but not that desperate. We're not asking Kepler for ideas.
    *swipe cut*
    Lovelace: So. Any ideas, Kepler?
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Mr. Cutter definitely qualifies. Pryce and the Dear Listeners may also. All three receive relatively little airtime, but are much greater threats than anyone currently on the Hephaestus.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Lovelace gets stuck in one in "In the Loop."
    • Previously, Minkowski referenced Wednesday repeating in her "Am I Alone" monologue. The creators had insisted that it was just a random weird thing and might never come up again, but now it seems that it was caused by a phenomenon similar to the one that caused Lovelace's loop.
  • Guttural Growler: Hilbert's voice plunges lower and lower over the course of the series. By Season 3, it is here.


  • Halloween Episode: You can't go trick-or-treating in space, so Sarah Shachat wrote "Time to Kill" and scared us all shitless instead.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Hilbert delivers a pretty devastating one to Minkowski during her attempted interrogation of him in "What's Up, Doc?"
  • Healing Factor: The purpose of the Decima virus is to create this.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: In "Desperate Measures," Hera breaks free of Maxwell's coding and disobeys a direct order from Kepler.
Hera: You don't spend five weeks teaching your AI how to isolate her physical symptoms if you don't want her to develop some...quirks.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The captain of the Tiamat self-destructed her ship to prevent the Dear Listeners from getting back to earth.
    • In "Desperate Measures" Lovelace intentionally goads Kepler into killing her, to distract him from Eiffel. She confirms that this was her intention in "In the Loop."
  • Hidden Depths: The original four start out as pretty one-sided characters. We've learned a lot about them since then.
  • Hope Spot: The season 1 finale has Doug talking Hera through overcoming Hilbert's programming and stopping Hilbert's mutiny with a clever Batman Gambit. And then things go wrong.
    • In "Desperate Times", Eiffel's Batman Gambit really seems to be working. Then he gets hit over the head with a wrench.
  • Human Popsicle: How Eiffel manages to survive until he's picked up by the SI-5. Prolonged and frequent use of the cryosleep pod takes a toll on his body.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Dear Listeners can imitate humans.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is named after a line spoken somewhere in the episode, usually either a particularly dramatic or particularly bonkers one. Sometimes both.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Slight variation on the line, but the spirit of it is still there.
    Eiffel: If I die, Hera gets all my toys.
  • I Have Many Names: Dr. Alexander Hilbert, aka Dr. Elias Selberg, born Dmitri Volodin.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Eiffel is terrible at lying under pressure, leading to him invoking this trope quite unfortunately in "Deep Space Procedure and Protocol Manual."
    Eiffel: [to Cutter] These signals are definitely coming from Earth and not from a star system fifty light years away from us!
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: Hera, ever since since her personality core was reconstructed
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: According to Hilbert, no one is on the Hephaestus to make friends.
  • Implausible Deniability: Eiffel especially is bad at lying on the spot, which is unfortunate, because Eiffel gets himself into a lot of suspicious-looking situations.
    • See especially: Eiffel and Lovelace getting caught approaching Maxwell from behind with a very heavy wrench, and then very unconvincingly denying that they meant to hit her over the head with it.
  • Imposter-Exposing Test: Maxwell tries one of these on the two Jacobi's, to figure out if one is a clone. Averted in that both pass.
  • Improvised Weapons: Including liquid nitrogen, fire extinguishers, and very heavy wrenches.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Doug develops a cough in Season 2, which gets progressively worse until the end of "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story", at which point he's hacking up blood and basically unable to breathe. While he does not actually die, it's a very close call.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: No one really knows what the Dear Listeners want, what they're like, or whether they're dangerous.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Doug's hallucination of Hera gives him a variation of this in Mayday.
    Hera: You don't get to go away just yet.
  • Ironic Episode Title: "Happy Endings" was neither an ending nor happy. Definitely not happy.
  • It's All My Fault: Eiffel and Minkowski both feel this way after the events of "Desperate Measures." Minkowski because she failed to save Lovelace and Hilbert, and actively killed Maxwell and Eiffel because it was his plan, which he'd proposed specifically because he didn't want anyone to get hurt.
  • Jerkass Daniel Jacobi
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Eiffel is insufferable 90% of the time, but the other 10% has shown him genuinely caring about both Hera and Minkowski.
  • Jumped at the Call: Going to space was Minkowski's dream job. She was so eager to take the mission that she signed the contract before talking to her husband about it. Lovelace also agreed to the job almost as soon as it was proposed, even though it was vastly different from the job that she thought she was interviewing for.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Even Eiffel, after all that Hilbert's done to him, seems really uncomfortable with the way Kepler treats him.
  • Killed Off for Real: Hilbert and Maxwell, presumably.
  • Kill the Cutie Okay, so maybe a giant sentient plant that has tried to take over the ship on at least one occasion doesn't fall under the traditional definition of cute, but its existence marked a much more innocent time for the show and in the end, all it wanted was to be left alone with a night light. It certainly didn't deserve what happened to it.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    Hilbert: This is unprecedented deep-space phenomenon, not plot twist for bad science fiction story!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: See "Lampshade Hanging"
    • Eiffel's obsession with pop culture (including science fiction) also occasionally leads to this.
    Eiffel: Do we have a Voight-Kampff kit somewhere on board?
    Minkowski: No, because those only exist in science fiction movies!
  • Leitmotif: Alan Rodi's music contains quite a few:
    • There's a theme that plays during most of the one-on-one interactions between Doug and Hera. Listen here
    • The theme from Hilbert's monologue in "Am I Alone Now" makes a comeback two seasons later in "Happy Endings." In "Am I Alone Now," Hilbert contemplates a door at the back of the engineering section that he's never opened but that is apparently intended for him. In "Happy Endings" we finally revisit the door, and find out what's behind it.
    • Many of the characters have themes, which we hear, if not every time they arrive in a scene, certainly in scenes where their presence is especially significant. You can listen to the themes for Eiffel, Lovelace, and Maxwell
      • Although Eiffel's theme is used more for transition music than as a leitmotif for his character, at this point.
  • Leonine Contract: If Hera hadn't agreed to autopilot the Hephaestus, Cutter's programmers would have messed with her personality until they changed her mind for her.
  • Locked in a Room: the set-up for the majority of "Happy to Be of Assistance," though it's really more like "locked in a creepy, abandoned, totally-shouldn't-be-here extreme danger bug lab."
    • And again with much of "Pan-Pan", though here it's "because this is the only room in the station that won't be impersonating Siberia while the heating system resets", to steal part of a line from Lovelace.
  • Loophole Abuse: Hera's favorite game is "find the loophole in the programming", although she doesn't actually do anything with what she's found until Hilbert mutinies in "Gas Me Twice", and she and Eiffel trick him into switching her over to emergency mode with a fire. This means that she no longer has to obey Hilbert, because emergency programming takes precedence over even his mind-control programming, and that she can dump liquid nitrogen on him, because she can direct the suppressant anywhere in the event of a fire.
  • MacGuffin Person Reveal: They went looking for aliens...and found Lovelace.
  • MacGyvering: Of all the characters, Lovelace is probably the best at this. Most impressively, she (with the rest of her crew) literally built a spaceship out of spare parts and one of the engines off the station. She also apparently knows how to make napalm.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Cutter and Kepler both qualify. Lovelace and Hilbert have their moments.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Minkowski spends all of episode three trying to get someone to pay attention to a weird plant sample that's exhibiting unusually rapid growth in the greenhouse. By the time that anyone bothers to actually pay attention to her and see what she's talking about, the plant has not only gotten much larger than a human, it's also grown an eye, teeth, and enough sentience to attack Eiffel on sight. The characters manage to escape from it, but the Space Mutant Plant Monster remains at large within the space station.
    • In The Sound and the Fury, the Plant takes over Doctor Hilbert's mind and goes on a rant, dubbing itself "The Blessed Eternal" and threatening the entire crew with death. Neither Hera or Minkowski are particularly concerned about it, focusing more on their argument.
    • In Minkowski Commanding, however, it's suggested that the Plant Monster isn't actually malevolent - all it seems to want is a light and to be left alone. Minkowski ultimately decides to offer it a deal - it doesn't bother her crew, and she leaves it alone. Its earlier threats are not brought up.
  • Meaningful Echo: "There's no off-switch. I've checked."
    • "Hera? Can you hear me?" becomes a lot less funny in the season 1 finale when she can't.
    • "Happy to be of assistance" crops up a number of times in the mouths of many characters, usually when they're anything but.
  • Meaningful Name: Averted for most of the characters, but the episode title for "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story" is this. It covers Hilbert's origin and why he acts the way he does.
    • The A.I. s of the Hephaestus employ this. Both Rhea and Hera are mother goddesses - nurturing goddesses. They nurture life on the station by facilitating the life support systems. Bonus points, because Hera is the mother of Hephaestus in the myths, making her role as supervisor of its systems pretty interesting. A more foreboding version of this? Hera, despite her status as Hephaestus' mother, threw him down to earth, crippling him. While Hera isn't exactly homicidal (see AI is a crapshoot above), this makes her name a little foreboding.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Hilbert's physical examinations seem to involve this.
  • Mental World: "Memoria" takes place inside Hera's head.
  • Mega Corp.: Goddard Futuristics, the technology conglomerate that is jointly financing the Hephaestus mission with the Air Force. Although the way things are going in season 2, they might just be running the mission. And/or the air force.
    • Them running the mission in season 3, when Mr. Cutter sends in "backup" in the form of his top black-ops goon and his second.
  • Metaphorically True: Hera is perfectly capable of lying, although she would prefer to think of it as "tactically misrepresenting available data."
  • Mind Rape: The mindcontrol-devices Pryce installed in everyone's heads. The mind-controlled Hephaestus crew is perpetually happy, unable to feel pain, and are forced to follow orders. Paired with a large helping of Body Horror, the Hermes crew has been lobotomized, with their cranial structure replaced by cybernetics.
  • Musical Spoiler: In "Into the Depths", Kepler is standing in the doorframe while holding Eiffel hostage, and is thus forced to look ahead as to not get jumped by anyone in the room. When Kepler sees Minkowski getting distracted by something behind him, it's a mystery to him as to who it is. However, the audience can hear Lovelace's leitmotif starting to play before she even says anything.
    • In "Happy Endings", the theme from Hilbert's monologue in "Am I Alone" starts playing. In "Am I Alone," he talked about a mysterious door in engineering. In "Happy Endings," he and Lovelace finally open that door.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Cataracts and Hurricanoes" goes from a jokey Eiffel plot to a tense man overboard-emergency at the drop of a hat.
    • "Deep Breaths" does this three or four times, as the characters' understanding of what is happening keeps changing.
    • In "Need to Know" the crew starts out discovering personal, but relatively harmless and humorous information about each other. However, the situation immediately tenses up when Jacobi and Minkowski find Eiffel's criminal record.
    • "Time To Kill" seemed like it was going to be a breather episode. It wasn't.
    • We all knew it was going to end badly, but "Desperate Times" starts off with a heartwarming reconciliation between Eiffel and Minkowski, and moves on to an apparently well-thought out plan. Then everything goes wrong.
      • Likewise, "Desperate Measures" has a lot of awesome moments of triumph and general badassery, which inevitably give way to moments of pain and oh-god-why.
    • "The Watchtower" seems to end on a positive note, with Eiffel safely returning to the station after talking to the Dear Listeners and finding out what they want. However, he then finds that Cutter and Pryce have arrived on the Hephaestus, and the episode ends with him being apprehended by a brainwashed Minkowski.
  • The Movie Buff: Eiffel
  • Mysterious Employer: We know very, very little about Goddard. Everything from the events of past missions to the identities of Pryce and Carter are shrouded in secrecy.
  • Mysterious Past: The exact backgrounds and motives of many are left undefined, but the reveal that Eiffel is keeping secrets was a shock.
    • Mr. Cutter and Hilbert have both gone through quite a few aliases in their time.
  • Narrator: Since most episodes consist of his audio logs, Eiffel ends up performing this role a lot of the time.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Subverted. In Bolero, both Maxwell and Hilbert are mourned, but not forgiven by the people they hurt.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Lovelace's exploding shuttle gambit went about as well as you might expect. The bomb went off at the wrong moment and Eiffel, who was at the controls of the shuttle at the time, got stranded in deep space for over 180 days.
  • Nightmare Fuel: "Time to Kill."
    • "Theta Scenario". What happens to Commander Zhang's ship is truly creepy, especially since we don't know all the details.
    • The dear listeners enter this territory a lot, especially by season four.
  • Non-Promotion: Following Hilbert's mutiny, Eiffel is promoted to second-in-command. Now it's just him and Minkowski trying to keep the ship in the air. There are no perks.
  • Noodle Incident: The Kepler-centric mini-episode "Long Story Short" consists entirely of these.
    • In the pilot episode, "Succulent Rat-Killing Tar," Eiffel plays a tape of what Hilbert's lab sounds like. It's a very loud and inexplicable mix of noises. What we now know about Hilbert's work does nothing to clarify what he was could have been doing that would have sounded like that.
    • There were some truly weird things in the cargo hold in "Box 953." It's never explained what letters to Santa or eyeless Russian dolls were doing on a space station, and since most of those things fell into the star by the end of the episode, it's not likely that we'll ever learn.
    • In her "Am I Alone Now" speech, Minkowski mentions a few odd and as-of-yet unexplained events, including Wednesday repeating and a vanishing terrarium door.
    • In "Need to Know" we learn that Jacobi is an unpleasant roommate due to...something involving cheeses.
  • No Social Skills: Hilbert. Deliberate on his part, as it turns out.
  • Not a Game: Eiffel is frequently accused of not taking serious situations seriously enough.
    Hera: Is everything a joke to you?
    Eiffel: Only things that are ridiculous, which lately, yeah, pretty much everything.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Eiffel has enormous faith in Minkowski and Minkowski will go to great lengths to keep Eiffel safe. The two are good friends and clearly care about each other, but there's no indication that their relationship is romantic.
    • Jacobi and Maxwell are obviously protective of each other and have probably had each others' backs through a lot of crazy stuff. Again, they are portrayed as very close friends, not as a romantic couple.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: A rare case of this trope being simultaneously invoked and averted. Hilbert is very quick to remind the crew that he's primarily a researcher, and that his degree is not a medical one. However, this does nothing to make him less willing or eager to perform medical procedures on the rest of the crew. Eiffel and Minkowski are not particularly thrilled about any of this.
    Hilbert: My PhD is in molecular biology. Theoretical science first, practical medicine more of a... pastime. Always saw Hippocratic Oath as leaving one with a very limited scope.
  • Nothing Personal: Kepler says this to Lovelace during her crewmate evaluation. She doesn't take it well.
    Lovelace: It's not business. It's my life.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After a full season of no bar being too low when it comes to Eiffel's laziness, unreliability, or just plain incompetence, it's a little scary to see how effective and clever he can be when he gets serious in "Gas Me Twice."
    • Likewise, you know stuff's gotten real bad when iron-willed lady of war badass Minkowski has the beginnings of a break-down in "The Kumbaya Approach."
    • Hilbert, twice. The normally composed Hilbert has a serious case when Lovelace turns up alive, breaking into a terrified, shocked panic in disturbingly little time. The other case comes when his frustration with Eiffel's antics and distrust while working on repairs together causes his mask to slip.
    • The third season premire "Pan-Pan" has this for everyone aboard; In the hundred days since the star changed color and Eiffel ended up MIA, the remaining crew (Minkowski, Lovelace, Hera and Hilbert) are on the edge of a breakdown, and it shows. By the end of the episode, Hera, Hilbert and Lovelace start in on each other in a shouting match which ends when Minkowski enters in on it. When she's done, all four of them just sound exhausted and tired.
    • Upon returning to the Hephaestus after being lost in space for over 100 days, Eiffel is noticeably more serious and less interested in goofing around. It gets to the point of him quoting Price and Carter at the other members of the crew.
    • Minkowski is EXTREMELY and terrifyingly upset when she discovers that everyone on Earth thinks she's dead, meaning both that she has no one to go back to, and that she's probably not meant to go back at all. So much so that she seems to take actual pleasure in the idea of murdering Kepler and co. with napalm.
    • You know things have gotten bad when Renee "I want to get my people home safe" Minkowski is ready to fly the station into the star in "Desperate Measures.
      • Likewise, you know it's bad when Actual Pacifist Doug Eiffel is ready to let her.
  • Offstage Villainy: We don't know what exactly Command is doing or what their goals are, but we know it's not good.
  • Oh, Crap!: That moment in "Bolero" when they realize what the regulator was for.
    spoiler: Kepler: That machine was never about getting anything to come in.
    Minkowski: Oh. Oh no. It was about keeping something out.
    • In "Desperate Times", Minkowski and Hilbert are lying in wait for Jacobi...and realize he's not showing up.
  • Orphaned Punch Line: "No Pressure" has a scene in which Lovelace is telling a rather convoluted joke about a moth walking into a dermatologist's office. We don't get the punchline, not because of a scene change, but because Lovelace wasn't telling the joke for the crew's amusement. She was doing it to stay calm, in order to not accidentally set off her dead man's switch.
  • Papa Wolf: The only thing that has gotten Actual Pacifist Doug Eiffel to resort to physical violence is Kepler threatening his daughter Anne.
  • Parental Issues: Jacobi has daddy issues. Maxwell has a restraining order on her family.
  • The Pig Pen: The crew's concerns about Eiffel's personal hygiene are a running joke.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: In "The Paranoia Games," Doug accuses Hilbert of stealing a screwdriver. Things snowball from there. Minkowski has the expected reaction.
  • Power Trio: Eiffel, Minkowski, and Hera
    • Kepler, Maxwell, and Jacobi
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Eiffel's "angry kitten face."


  • Quit Your Whining: Kepler has no qualms about pushing the crew hard. He is also a giant bag of dicks. As a result, he uses this line a lot.
    Kepler: Well it's a good thing I'm the head of the complaints department. Oh, wait, no. I'm actually the head of the "I Don't Give a Rats Ass, Shut Up And Do Your Job" department.
    • In "Mayday," Eiffel hallucinates Lovelace telling him to "quit whining, it's boring."
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The original crew + Lovelace definitely fit this trope.
  • The Rashomon: "All Things Considered" gives three crew members' increasingly unbelievable explanations for what happened to Kepler's whiskey.
  • Road Runner vs. Coyote: Word of God has it that Minkowski Commanding was at least partially inspired by the Road Runner cartoons.
  • Robosexual: Eiffel and Hera seem to have the closest relationship out of anyone on the station, and their interactions can often get very flirtatious. Whether this is the beginnings of a human-A.I. romance or just playful banter remains to be seen.
    • Although, as of "Limbo", this becomes even more ambiguous. Doug, after sharing his backstory, involving drunk-driving his daughter into an accident that gave her severe head trauma, and in the wake of Hera crashing and possibly needing to be replaced, responds to Minkowski's stunned "I don't know what to say." with:
    Eiffel: Tell me Hera's gonna be okay.
    • In the Lovelace special, Lovelace has a kinda flirty moment with a computer virus (appearing in human form).
  • Rule of Funny: Season one definitely operated on the rule of funny. As the story has become more dramatic, the show has moved away from this a little.
  • Running Gag: Eiffel making pop culture references that no one else understands.
    • Updating the star charts.
    • "Hera, are you there?"
  • Sarcastic Confession: Minkowski in "The Paranoia Game," after Eiffel and Hilbert accuse her of stealing a screwdriver to frame Hilbert
    Minkowski: Yes, you've seen through my intricate web of lies. Drat.
  • Say My Name: The characters usually address each other by last name, so when first names are used it's usually a pretty emotionally intense moment.
    Jacobi: Alana, I didn't go anywhere.
    • In "Desperate Times," Eiffel gets Minkowski's attention by pronouncing her name right. It's the first time she's ever heard him say it correctly.
    • Lovelace refers to Hilbert as Selberg, the name that she knew him as. It's a reminder that they have a lot of history that the rest of the crew isn't entirely aware of.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Eiffel, on occasion. The most notable example of this is when he's dragged out from under the console he was hiding under by Lovelace, who has been possessed by the Dear Listeners. He screams, cuts himself off, then screams again in a lower pitch.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: One of Hera's favorite hobbies is looking for loopholes in her programming.
  • Servile Snarker: Hera has to do what the crew ask. That doesn't mean she needs to be respectful about it.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Lovelace asks how Minkowski can stand to be on the ship with Hilbert, Hilbert has a response. Minkowski shuts him down.
    Hilbert: Because they understand what you never have. You do what you need to. You adapt. You survive. Sometimes you have to work with the devil, but—
    Minkowski: Hilbert, stop talking.
    Hilbert: Why? Am I being too indelicate?
    Minkowski: No, because if you don't shut up right this second she's not going to get a chance to kill you.
  • Skyward Scream: Eiffel has a particularly heart-wrenching one in "Mayday"
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The show seems to land pretty much in the middle. The show can be pretty dark, and many of the characters are in morally murky places. And yet at the same time, the show depicts characters moving on from past mistakes, showing empathy, and coming together to solve problems. The show is far from happy, but neither is it fatalistic.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Slides all over the place.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In fairness, there's not very much entertainment in space, so everyone plays chess. But Hilbert is depicted as particularly good at it—so good he's only allowed to play the others while handicapped. Eiffel and Hera play each other frequently, although Hera always wins. And Lovelace and Kepler play chess during their interview in "Controlled Demolition."
  • Sneeze of Doom: Subverted in "Extreme Danger Bug".
  • Space Is an Ocean: If the temperature control systems have to be shut down and rebooted, the station will get perilously cold. This would make sense if they were surrounded by sea water, but vacuum, not so much.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Until you realize that the radiator panels are likely part of that same system. The station is actively radiating all heat until the system is rebooted properly, not just the excess.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Eiffel to the point that, during his "no pop culture references for an hour" bet with Hera in "Bach to the Future," he often sounds like he's in physical pain. Seriously, probably half of his sentences get cut short or redirected due to near-referencing - not the mention the titular slip-up Hera graciously overlooked.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Lovelace initially doesn't believe Eiffel when he tells her he's no longer brainwashed, until he delivers a Reference Overdosed speech.
    Lovelace: ...holy crap, it's really you.
    Eiffel: Of COURSE it's- ...you believe me?
    Lovelace: (through laughter) Yeah! No-one but you could ever say something that dumb, Eiffel!
  • Sound-Only Death: Well, duh, it's an audio drama. But even so, both Lovelace and Hilbert's deaths happen out-of-scene—we hear them from Minkowski's POV, through the intercom.
  • Staging an Intervention: Played for laughs in "Minkowski Commanding." Minkowski gets a little too intense about hunting the plant monster. Eiffel, Hera, and Eiffel pretending to be Hilbert are all concerned.
  • Stepford Smiler: Mr. Cutter. True, it's an audio drama, so we never actually see said smile, but you can hear it.
  • The Stinger: Keep listening after the end credits for "Cigarette Candy" and "Overture".
  • The Storyteller: Kepler has a habit of going on long tangents about his adventures, most of which are comically farfetched and unlikely. The mini episode "Long Story Short" is consists almost entirely of Jacobi flashing back to the many stories he's had to hear out. May be a case of Badass Boast.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Kepler does this frequently when he's angry, or when he wants people to think he's angry. Taken Up to Eleven in "Desperate Times," when he goes off on Jacobi and Maxwell for
  • Survivor Guilt: "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story" reveals Hilbert suffers this. The town he lived in as a child was near a nuclear reactor that melted down. Hilbert implies that it killed most of his family, but the one that cut the deepest was his little sister, who died as he watched.
    • Also Lovelace.
    • As of Bolero, Eiffel and Minkowski both have this regarding the deaths of Lovelace, Hilbert, and Maxwell. It's likely that other characters are suffering from this too, although that's not explored in-episode.
  • Survival Mantra: As shown in "Variations on a Theme", Lovelace has a few that boil down to "Be a big girl" and "Stay away from ghosts"
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: "Overture" features the 1812 Overture, a song famous for its use of cannons as a musical instrument. Right when the cannon hits are supposed to happen, something in the comms room explodes.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Jacobi has shades of this.
  • Take Our Word for It: We never get the full rules of Funzo or figure out exactly what happened with Jacobi and the cheeses. And we never see the spider, but judging by Eiffel's reactions, it was really big.
  • Talking to the Dead: In "Bolero," Minkowski talks to Lovelace, Hera talks to Maxwell, and Eiffel talks to Hilbert. Lovelace, Maxwell, and Hilbert were all killed the episode before.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Cutter frequently addresses Eiffel as "Dougie-bear," "Dougie-boy," and various other cutesy variations on "Doug."
  • Theme Naming: Human members of the crew seem to all be named after some kind of famous scientist or engineer. Eiffel shares his name with the famous French engineer and architect, and Minkowski, Hilbert, and Lovelace are all named after mathematicians.
    • Meanwhile, on the non-human side, Hera, Rhea, and the U.S.S. Hephaestus get their names from Greek mythology. Additionally, a unit mentioned offhandedly in "Killing Time" is called Perseus.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lovelace gives a BRUTAL one to Kepler in "Desperate Measures."
  • The Unapologetic: Hilbert seems to really believe his actions have been for the best, even when said actions have included murder.
    Hilbert: All right. Let us expedite this pointless conversation. My name is Alexander Hilbert. I have attempted to murder everyone in this room. Dr. Hui, Officer Lambert, Doctor Fourier, Rhea, I killed all of them. If this situation were the same, I would kill all of them again.
  • They Look Like Us Now: The Dear Listeners can replicate crew members, even down to things like memories and emotions.
  • Three-Laws Compliant: Played With with Hera. Although she is not malicious, and genuinely seems to care about most of the crew (especially Eiffel, Minkowski, and Maxwell), we also know that she enjoys looking for loopholes in the very programming that prevents her from harming people, has attempted twice to exploit these loopholes and kill Hilbert. She has also apparently made attempts to override this programming completely, not because actually wanted to kill anyone, but because she wanted to know whether she could.
  • Title Drop: All of the episodes are named in this manner.
  • Token Evil Teammate: While none of the members of the Hephaestus crew could be considered particularly terrific human beings, Hilbert is the most ruthlessly amoral and conniving of the lot. Hilbert was this to the previous Hephaestus crew as well.
    • Jacobi and Maxwell also seem to get along with the protagonists quite well on some occasions, even when it's abundantly clear that they would kill everyone if given the order.
  • To the Pain: Kepler threatens Eiffel and Lovelace with a number of nasty-sounding devices.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Kepler, who outranks Minkowski, takes command of the Hephaestus.
  • Uncoffee: Made with seaweed, apparently.
  • Unnecessarily Large Vessel: The Hephaestus. Presumably because Phase Two requires additional personnel.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Eiffel, especially in early episodes.
    • In "All Things Considered," Eiffel, Minkowski, and Jacobi are all this, as all of them tell obviously untrue stories about what happened to Kepler's whiskey.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Knocking Maxwell and Jacobi unconscious is referred to as "popping the weasel."
    • When Cutter threatened to reprogram Hera, he referred to it as "pulling bricks out of the Jenga tower."
  • Villain Episode: A number of the mini-episodes. "Rebranding," "Things That Break Other Things," and "Language Mapping" show Hilbert, Jacobi, and Maxwell's recruitments, respectively, while "Kansas" shows us Kepler's promotion. We also hear from Rachel and Mr. Cutter in "Meanwhile."
  • Villainous Friendship: Jacobi and Maxwell very obviously care for each other. Jacobi sounds terrified when Maxwell gets trapped in one of the extraneous rooms and almost dies because temperature control is out. Maxwell, for her part, is absolutely devastated when they have to let the second Jacobi outside the module die in "Time To Kill".
  • Villain Has a Point: Hilbert's Decima Project could have been legitimately beneficial to humanity, had he been able to complete it.
  • Villainous Rescue: Kepler and the SI 5 crew save Eiffel from dying in deep space during "Mayday."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Eiffel and Minkowski seem to be headed this way as of season 2. They're not exactly clashing less than they used to, and they still bug the crap out of the other person, but there's a much stronger sense that they've got each others' backs when the going gets tough.
  • Walking Spoiler: Isabel Lovelace
    • The introduction of S5 in Season 3 means that half the cast now consists of people you can't talk about without spoiling something
  • We Have Been Researching Phlebotinum for Years: Goddard has known about aliens since the 70s.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Jacobi's loyalty to Kepler is probably at least partially daddy issues.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lovelace. Hilbert may also qualify.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Minkowski, Commanding" becomes this at the end. Captain Lovelace is alive.
    • "Deep Breaths" becomes one when Hilbert reveals his true colors, takes control of Hera, and tries to kill Minkowski and incapacitate Eiffel.
    • "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story" and "Do No Harm" have a two-fer. The former has the Decima virus in Eiffel's bloodstream come out of dormancy and serve as a cliffhanger for "Do No Harm". The latter sees the star suddenly, abruptly shifts color.
    • "Securite" also qualifies.
    • "Memoria" as well.
    • "Desperate Measures": At least three people are dead, the ship is blown half to hell, and Kepler has gone off the deep end.
    • "Dirty Work": Eiffel thinks he's figured out what The Dear Listeners want, and at the end of the episode he jumps into the star.
    • "Watchtower": Eiffel has a direct conversation with one of the Dear Listeners and finally learns their plan: they travel the universe forming alliances with races that have new technologies, but often destroy those they dislike. Fortunately they like humanity for one invention in particular: music. Also, the station has been taken over by Cutter, who is now actually on board there.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "Knock Knock": "Hello, does anyone copy? This is Douglas Eiffel aboard the USS Hephaestus station. Please respond."
    • From "Who's There?": "Commander, he's not showing up on any of my scans. He's gone."
    • From "Need to Know": "The court finds the defendant, Douglas Furnand Eiffel, guilty on one count of kidnappping and three counts of child endangerment."
    • "Bolero": "That's not Captain Lovelace, Eiffel. You've never met Isabel Lovelace. She has been dead for a very, very long time. ... That... is a thing. A thing that is very good at impersonating Captain Lovelace."
    • From "Watchtower":
    Cutter: Listen to the smart lady, Doug. Everything's going to be just fine. After all, I'm here now.
    • From "Terms and Conditions": "Long story short? The end of the world, Minkowski. The end of the world."
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Eiffel gets a lot of this. He is quite skilled with the radio equiptment and is often an emotional center, but he can also be lazy, scatterbrained, and not very knowledgable about the station. His feelings of uselessness as a result are a major focus of the live show.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: This question is pretty thoroughly explored with Hera, who is clearly a person, but is limited by her programming and not always treated as a person.
    • Since the revelation that Lovelace is a clone created by the Dear Listeners, it's likely that this question will also be explored with her in Season 4.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Eiffel's reaction to learning that Minkowski, Hilbert, and Lovelace planned to overthrow SI 5 with napalm.
    • Hera to Minkowski after she shoots Maxwell.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: There is a series of bonus episodes showing how all of the characters got recruited by Goddard.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Eiffel is surprised to hear that people are listening to his logs.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Eiffel's crippling fear of spiders is one of the central elements of the plot in "Extreme Danger Bug."
  • Wrongly Accused: Subverted. Minkowski assumes that Eiffel was wrongly convicted of kidnapping and child endangerment, but it turns out that she doesn't even know the worst of it.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Minkowski's speech to Hera in "Let's Kill Hilbert."
    Hera: I can't. I can't do anything. I can't find the commands. The old me could've done this but now, after what he did to me, I just can't.
    Minkowski: Listen to me, Officer. You are crew of this ship. If Eiffel dies, it's because he trusted you, and you went behind his back. Do you want that?
    Hera: No!
    Minkowski: Then fix it.
    Hera: Have you been listening? I-
    Minkowski: Can. You are the smartest person I have ever met, Hera. Focus that intelligence, and save our moron.
  • You Are Not Alone: For as dark, isolated, and paranoid as Wolf 359 can be, found family and the abilities of very different people to get each other through difficult situations are major themes.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The original Hephaestus crew that Lovelace was captain of was never supposed to make it out alive, and it seems the same of the current crew.
  • You Got Spunk:
    ' Kepler, to Lovelace: Oh, that's right. You're funny.''
  • You Have Failed Me: Cutter threatens to have Rachel pushed out a window should she fail to deliver some reports in time. Judging by the fact that we hear from her later, perfectly healthy if annoyed, he did not follow through on this threat.
    • In "Desperate Times," when important systems start failing just before the contact event, Kepler goes OFF on Jacobi and Maxwell.
    Kepler: Answer correctly, and you win...Jacobi's job! Jacobi's room! And a lovely set of steak knives, although you'll have to pull those out of Jacobi's incompetent corpse.
  • You Watch Too Much X: Eiffel has watched too much EVERYTHING.