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Series: SeaQuest DSV

"The twenty-first century — mankind has colonized the last unexplored region on earth, the ocean. As captain of the SeaQuest and its crew, we are its guardians, for beneath the surface lies the future."

SeaQuest DSV was a groundbreaking show set initially in 2018. It first aired on NBC in 1993 with Roy Scheider as Captain Nathan Bridger. The show received significant retools at the beginning of each season, including numerous cast rotations. Scheider left after the second season and was replaced by Michael Ironside as Captain Oliver Hudson. The show was then renamed SeaQuest 2032 as the second season finale set up the characters to be thrust ten years into the future. The third season performed abysmally, and the show was canceled.

SeaQuest was essentially a wet Space Opera, and its stories and characters would be equally at home on the Enterprise or Serenity as under the ocean, save for Darwin of course. As the flagship of the UEO (like the UN, but wet), SeaQuest and her crew had dual roles as a military powerhouse and research/exploration vessel. She could dive deeper, move faster, and hit harder than anything else on or under the sea. The design of the ship was revolutionary, not only as a fictional ship, but as a set and special effect. The interior sets struck a balance between cold functionality and whimsy, the latter provided by the transparent swim tubes (or hydropressure system, to series scholars). These allowed the ship's dolphin crew mate, Darwin, to enter any part of the ship, from the bridge to the launch bays and back. Darwin was provided with speech by an advanced computer system developed by the ship's Teen Genius.

SeaQuest was one of the first TV series to supplant motion-control cameras and physical models with CGI.

Among the show's ensemble cast, notable is Ted Raimi, brother of famous director Sam Raimi. Ted Raimi is also known as Joxer, from Xena: Warrior Princess.

SeaQuest was produced by Steven Spielberg, David J. Burke, and Rockne S. O'Bannon, who later went on to create Farscape.

Not to be confused with Sealab 2020, which SeaQuest (intentionally or unintentionally) drew a couple broad ideas from.


This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: In the third season, Bridger's search for his son is left unresolved. The Chaodai and the defecting sub-fighter pilot who replaces Fredericks when she's killed in the ensuing fight are set up in what turned out to be the final episode.
  • Actor Allusion - In "Brave New World", Bridger makes a reference to "Tobias and his rebel friends"- Tobias being played by Mark Hammill (in "Dream Weaver" and "Splashdown").
    • Another possible allusion is the name of Lieutenant James Brody, a character introduced in season 2, in reference to Roy Scheider's role as Martin Brody in Jaws.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle - Starring Dr. Robert Ballard (the guy who discovered Titanic and Bismarck, as well as scads of slightly-less-famous shipwrecks), and explaining the real-life oceanographic science behind each episode. Season 2 had the segments done by the cast and featured much less science, instead explaining marine lifeforms.
  • Atlantis - The main subject of "Lostland".
  • Atlantis Is Boring - One of the greatest subversions.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: A previously thought-to-be-extinct Deinosuchus, a 50-foot crocodilian, was the Whatever in a plot ripped off from The Beast From Twenty Thousand Fathoms.
  • Axe Crazy, Blood Knight: Marilyn Stark, in spades. Was willing to start a nuclear war at Livingston Trench, completely in defiance of orders, because she was sick and tired of having the biggest boat in the water and not being able to kick ass with it. Later blew up several farming and mining communities for the sole reason of pissing off the seaQuest crew enough to chase her. Deleted scenes have her fatally shooting a crewman who tries to tell her that this may be a bad idea.
  • Badass Grandpa: Both Bridger and MCPO Crocker invoke this a few times. Notable examples include "Brothers and Sisters," when they both haul out their Bling of War to go talk down a grief-crazed teenager. (The kid is a hardcore Military Brat and won't respond to the rest of the rather Mildly Military crew.)
  • Bad Omen Anecdote: The crew are exploring an ancient alien spacecraft. One of them brings up a science fiction story he read as a kid that was about a similar situation, except the ship hadn't really crashed. The characters in the story were trapped when the ship took off again and dissected.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Consider what happens when people start shooting at each other thousands of feet below the sea (hint: Ominous Crack followed by Chunky Salsa Rule). However, all the series ever showed consisted of a few flashes, explosions and clouds of bubbles.
  • The Bridge: Both the original and second subs had very cool-looking bridges.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Stark attempts to use this against Bridger in the pilot.
    Stark: I kill for power, you kill for peace. We're two sides of the same coin, each heroes to our own causes. Let's see who gets the parade.
  • Command Roster: Played straight, as befitting a series on a naval submarine:
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The end of "Treasures of the Tonga Trench." Having determined their treasures are actually fecal pellets (i.e. fish poop), Bridger comes to deal with Krieg, who started the whole thing, leading to a string of violated regulations. His punishment: confinement to quarters for 24 hours...before he can clean up.
    Krieg: Captain, can't you smell?
    Bridger: Yes, I can. Twenty-four hours, lieutenant.
  • Cool Big Sis: In the first season, LCDR Hitchcock had major overtones of this toward Lucas. Most clearly seen in "The Stinger."
  • Cool Ship: So cool, in fact, that the UEO doesn't build another one until absolutely necessary. When the crew makes it back to Earth after being missing with SeaQuest for ten years, Bridger actually asks Hudson why they didn't build a replacement again; during their absence, the world has politically fractured to the point where the technology to do so is no longer available to the UEO.
  • Dark Secret: Both Bridger and Ford were involved in The UEO's unethical experiments on Daggers.
  • Deus Ex Nukina: The season 1 finale, in which the sub's nuclear payload is used to weld shut a massive magma-spewing crack in the ocean floor off Australia.
  • Die Hard on an X: In "Nothing But The Truth," environmental terrorists take over the ship, and the skeleton crew aboard has to scramble to retake it.
  • Dumb Muscle: Dagwood, the ship's janitor from season 2 on, is a prototype genetically modified super soldier... with the mental capacity of a nine-year-old.
  • The Dragon: In the third season, General Stassi to President Bourne, and Mason Freeman to Larry Deon.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Milos Teslov, a political dictator on the run from authorities for 'ethnic cleansing' and has killed what he claims is millions of people, cares deeply for his traumatized son, and would do anything to hear him talk again. By the end, he gets his wish
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Seen in the episode "Bad Water" when lightning strikes the communications buoy.
  • Fan Nickname: DSV was occasionally expanded out as Dysfunctional Space Vehicle by fans who felt that it was a retooled Star Trek.
  • The Federation: The United Earth Oceans Organization (usually just referred to as UEO).
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Darwin the dolphin.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Lt. Krieg rails against this over a mess-hall meal in "Whale Song." Among other things, eating beef has been outlawed due to the environmental impacts of ranching, and most fruits and vegetables are grown hydroponically from genetically engineered seed (all the better to foil a would-be Military Moonshiner like Krieg himself, according to Lucas - "they engineered the buzz out of [barley], you can't distill it.") Krieg's subsequent machinations to get his hands on half a pound of real pre-ban ground round form most of the B-plot and are heavily Played for Laughs.
    • The eating of beef wasn't outlawed; it was the manufacture, sale and transport that was made illegal. (Hmm... sounds a bit like the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)
  • Genre Savvy: Lucas does not accept everything at face value when Seaquest is abducted by alien rebels who need their help to fight against their tyrannical overlords; he believes that the story they give the crew is just a little too perfect, as if engineered to make them as sympathetic as possible. It turns out SeaQuest really can turn the tide of the fight because neither side has underwater technology even close to their space travel technology, but the alien rebels are lying about being the rebels and are actually the bad guys hoping to gain the underwater advantage by manipulating the crew.
  • Gentle Giant: Dagwood.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Hyper Reality Probe (an unmanned recon vehicle controlled by VR goggles and gloves).
  • Gonna Need More X: Bridger invokes it twice, in a combination of this and Actor Allusion. The first time they need a smaller boat (they're trying to hunt down a tiny vial of neurotoxin before its ice enclosure melts), the second time they need a new boat (after sacrificing the first in the season finale).
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Hitchcock poses as one to infiltrate a mining community held hostage in "seaWest."
  • Heroic Dolphin: Darwin the dolphin.
  • Hidden Depths: Hudson never stops being as hardline as he starts off as, but he's perfectly willing to give Lucas a chance when Lucas is willing to join up to stay, and he comes to value Dagwood's presence. Hudson also does a lot for Piccolo, helping him overcome his dyslexia, which leads to Piccolo working to become an officer and sub-fighter pilot.
  • Hotter and Sexier - Season 2
    • Literally and figuratively in season 3. Seems they left the air conditioner behind in space.
    • Literally in the first season episode 'The Regulator' when their thermal control chip was broken, too.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: Of course.
  • Human Popsicle: Convicted war criminal Dr. Rubin Zeller in "Games." Or at least, he was until he offed the prison warden, quite literally stuffed the poor sap in the fridge, and then pulled a Dead Person Impersonation on the seaQuest crew. He would've gotten away with it, too, if not for the cryonics chamber inconveniently leaking dead warden all over the sea deck.
    • Also occurs in "When we Dead Awaken" with Lt. Brody's mother, and also to a murder victim in the very beginning of the episode. In "Good Soldiers", a dagger corpse is found in this condition as well.
  • Human Subspecies: The Daggers.
  • Insistent Terminology: On both sides: "It's not a Stinger, it's a Gazelle" + "It's not a Gazelle, it's a Stinger"
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: The DSL deep-diving suit in "Avalon" played this trope straight; other episodes averted it by putting the cast in regular SCUBA gear.
  • Jerkass Fašade: well, an "Arrogant, incompetent, even cowardly" facade, but still. Ford was under orders to do so in the pilot episode, as part of the ploy to get Bridger back, and he handled it well until a dangerous situation arose (then it started to crack).
  • The Kirk: Captain Bridger.
    • ...but definitely not Milos Teslov, a political criminal played by William Shatner in "Hide and Seek."
  • L Is for Dyslexia - Piccolo
  • Like an Old Married Couple: LCDR Hitchcock and Lt. Krieg, frequently. Then again, they had been.
    Krieg: What a sweetheart.
    Bridger: (disbelieving) The Lieutenant Commander is a sweetheart?
    Krieg: Oh, that's old history... see, Katie and I, we used to be... (Beat) Married.
    Bridger: (quizzical look)
    Krieg: Seemed perfect on the surface. We were both top in our Academy class, headed for command, and then we... well, you can see. (long pause) I guess she didn't really leave me, she just... left me behind.
  • Like a Son to Me - Lucas to Captain Bridger.
    Lucas: Your son died...
    Bridger: But I'll never be sure, and not knowing eats me alive everyday. But you know what's helped? You.
  • Living Ship - The ship has an organic, self-repairing external skin (handy if you've just been torpedoed). At least one episode involves it developing an infection and threatening to lose all structural integrity.
  • Man-Eating Plant - They were genetically engineered under special lighting, able to uproot themselves and turned people to dust by drawing them into the center of 3 branches atop them. Their 'roar' was pure Narm and their weakness? Regular Sunlight!
  • Mega Corp.: Deon International, whose CEO, Larry Deon, is such an egomaniac that his employees have to get tattoos of the company logo.
  • Mega-Maw Maneuver: One episode in the third season saw a giant sub that captured UEO transports by swallowing them with an enormous door on the bow.
  • Mock Guffin/Gold Fever - "Treasures of the Tonga Trench" Turned out to be fool's gold, though.
  • More Dakka: Invoked:
    • By Stark in the pilot, who insists on loading every torpedo tube the Delta-IV has to finish Seaquest off in one glorious barrage. Subverted; it takes so long that Seaquest's juryrigged plan to get around her sabotage has more than enough time to work and sink her.
    • When Westphalen convinces the bridge crew to fire torpedoes into the sea floor, thus creating a hole that will divert a flow of lava and stop it from erupting and killing Commander Ford and several others stranded on an island, she's asked how many to fire. She has no idea how many would be enough and they fire a full barrage; this later turns out to be four torpedoes worth of overkill.
  • Negative Space Wedgie - Sea Wedgies, technically.
    • At least in the first season they were real-life Negative Sea Wedgies, including such things as black smokers (undersea vents of superheated, mineral-rich water) and fresh-water sinkholes within an undersea karst formation (fresh water is less dense than salt = sinking submarines). The And Knowing Is Half the Battle segments at each episode's end explained some of these concepts in greater detail.
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: Tries hard, but doesn't always work out that way. In the first episode, Bridger orders a torpedo's charge reduced to 20% to avoid destroying the "pirate" submarine that's been trying to kill them all. However, the pirate boat's armor can't even take that, and it's hulled and sunk anyway. Bridger is noticeably not happy about it.
  • Not so Above It All: In "Whale Song", Krieg has been making an illegal hamburger, and at the end he finally finishes it, when the captain comes to talk to him. Just as Bridger's about to leave he smells the burger and confiscates it. Just before he throws it away, however, he pauses, looks around then steals two bites out of it before tossing the rest.
  • Oh Crap: In the pilot when Stark realizes that her insistence on More Dakka has given Seaquest enough time to work around their sabotaged targeting systems;
    Stark: He tagged us!
  • Ominous Crack: Happens to a gang of terrorists who attempt to hijack the seaQuest in "Nothing But the Truth." The terrorist ringleader asks LCDR Hitchcock, who up to that point has been under orders to cooperate with them, if the pressure at their current depth will crush their escape sub. She says it will. The terrorist says "That's the lie I was waiting for" and takes off anyway. Cue escape sub going Crunch.
  • Organic Technology - The SeaQuest itself.
  • Parental Abandonment - Lucas' parents didn't have time enough to bother with him, hence they dumped him on Seaquest.
  • Parental Substitute - Captain Bridger to Lucas Wolenczak.
  • Population Control - An episode with an island nation that enforces their population via death squad.
  • Precap
  • Psychic Powers - Wendy Smith; also, there seems to be a sizeable population of psychics in the human population, referred to as 'spyers'.
    • Darwin also exhibits some kind of minor psychic or empathic ability in 'Devil's Window' and 'Hide and Seek'.
    • And don't forget the three psychics the UEO sent out in the first season episode aptly named 'Treasures of the Mind', where it's also shown that Bridger has some psychic abilities too.
    • In the episode Siamese Dream it's shown Piccolo possesses psychic powers as well.
  • Put on a Bus: Lots, including practically two-thirds of the season 1 cast.
  • Quickly Demoted Woman: Played straight and subverted with Stark in the pilot; she was relieved of command of the seaQuest for being Axe Crazy, but wound up Captain of the Delta-4 Big Bad sub.
  • Reverse the Polarity: In Chains of Command.
  • Sand Worm: A very large, fire-breathing variant that lived in a system of tunnels beneath the sea.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Darwin, of course, as well as the rest of his pod in the second episode.
  • Science Fiction
  • Sensor Suspense: Done a few times, starting in the first episode. "There's nothing that big down there... except... a Title Drop..."
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Darwin. Somewhat subverted, as without the vocoder, he'd have no speech at all. However, he does understand a limited selection of hand signals, including "down" (dive to a certain depth, indicated by sequential signs) and "tag" (locate an object, attach a tracking transponder to it and return).
    • "Tag" turns out to be surprisingly handy in a good many plots. Nobody's going to pay attention to that dolphin swimming up to your boat, until it plants something on you and swims away...
  • Spiritual Successor: To Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: Captain Hudson shows a map of the aggressive Macronesian influence. He asks Lucas when his birthday is then asks the computer to predict its extent by that date. The map changes to show a much larger area.
  • Stock Footage: Usually what you would expect; for example, the shots of SeaQuest crash-diving to escape the Delta-IV in the pilot are often reused to show the ship simply diving. One episode, however, has old footage from Airwolf to give the villain an attack helicopter that strafes Caicos Key.
  • Sub Story
  • Submarine Pirates - In the pilot movie, a heavily modified Delta IV submarine was being operated by pirates, led by former seaQuest captain Marilyn Stark. The pirates were working for an evil corporate syndicate; Stark just wanted to see her old boat drown.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute - a good many of them.
  • Take That: In the 3rd season episode Equilibrium, Nathan Bridger finds himself conflicting with the crew of the seaquest over how to respond to the disaster, leading to conflict with Lucas. Later in the episode, Lucas is giving a minor "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Bridger about how Bridger wasn't willing to consider other options than his own, stating Bridger never conceded to anything. One of the reasons stated was "When you thought that seaQuest stopped being what it should be, you left!" - In fact, Bridger's stated reasons for leaving were to track down his apparently non-deceased son, which his duties as seaQuest's captain would conflict with. Roy Scheider (Bridger's actor) on the other hand, had complained loudly and publicly during the second season about the falling quality of the series and became so disgusted he left the show. In short, Lucas's speech is directed at the actor, not the character.
  • Teen Genius: Lucas Wolenczak
  • The Bus Came Back: In the third season, Ben Krieg returns for "In the Company of Ice and Profit," while Bridger leaves in "Brave New World" and returns in "Equilibrium" and "Good Soldiers.
  • Token Religious Teammate: O'Neill, whose devout Catholicism compared to everyone else pops up as a plot point a few times.
  • Translator Collar - Darwin has one, a system of underwater microphones and speakers that pick up his clicks and whistles and translate them to pidgin English via computer. Only works aboard ship, and only in certain locations equipped with the hardware (namely the sea deck and the bridge). In the second season it seems tied specifically to the handsets the crew uses to speak to him, with Bridger bringing one off the ship to talk to Darwin while he sets up a barbeque.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future
  • Uncertain Doom - The fate of main castmembers Migel Ortiz and Dr. Wendy Smith is never specifically explained or mentioned after their final appearance in Season 2's finale; they simply don't show up with the rest of the scattered crew 10 years later in 2032. When trying to explain the events on the alien world (the resolution of which was never seen on screen), Bridger says "some of us didn't make it; we lost some very good friends", so the common assumption is that Ortiz and Smith were killed in the fight somehow, but they are never specifically mentioned for the rest of the series.
  • Underwater Base: Lots of those too, as one might expect.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mycroft the hacker in "Photon Bullet", the radical environmentalists in "Nothing But the Truth", and the anti-whaling people in "Whale Song". And that's just on one DVD!
  • "What Now?" Ending - Season 2 ends with an explosion on the Seaquest's bridge, its hull ruptured, sinking on an alien world, while most of the command staff are trapped in a firefight on an alien spaceship and Bridger, giving Lucas a rushed Final Speech, hits the detonator to destroy said spaceship (which had brought Seaquest to this world in the first place, leaving the question of how the Seaquest could be returned to the earth). The episode ends with only Lucas, Dagwood, and Darwin alive for sure, the former two floating in a raft in an alien sea miles from land. This whole mess is resolved by... a season premiere where Seaquest is found in a cornfield on Earth 10 years later, and the remaining crewmembers scattered in various locations that were linked to their "last happy memories". How they got back is explained; the aliens they were helping brought them back to Earth. Why it took ten years and why they were dumped off so randomly is not.
  • The Worf Effect: The Chaodai are able to nearly sink the Seaquest with a mere three of their highly advanced sub-fighters, and in the process kill Fredericks.

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alternative title(s): Seaquest; Sea Quest2032; Sea Quest DSV
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