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Series: Terra Nova
A television show produced by Steven Spielberg and Brannon Braga which, after a Troubled Production, premiered on Fox in late September 2011. On March 5, 2012, it was announced that Fox would not pick up the series for a second season.

The plot involves humans from the post-apocalyptic future traveling through a time portal to live in an Alternate Universe (maybe; see below) that resembles the Middle Cretaceous. From what we see in the first episode, all life on Earth is dying in the future and so the people have gone through the portal to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.

The premise is an Excuse Plot to have dinosaurs and humans interacting on a television show. The showrunners promised that the show would take pains to prevent upsetting dinosaur fans. They were lying.

There is a Character Sheet.

Completely unrelated to the video game Terra Nova Strike Force Centauri, and the Star Trek: Enterprise episode of the same name, which Braga co-wrote and produced.


Tropes featured in this work include:

  • Adult Fear: When they just get to Terra Nova one of the soldiers is about to open the backpack they just smuggled their youngest daughter in with a giant knife.
  • Aborted Arc: The baby Ankylosaur taken in by the family looked like the setup for a Team Pet, but then there's nothing until they release it back into the wild a few episodes later.
  • Affably Evil: Boylan is more of an Affable Jerk Ass than deliberately evil, although he is collaborating with the Sixers. May cross over into Jerkass With A Heart Of Gold territory, as of the finale. He certainly prefers Taylor to the Phoenix Group, and is one of the very first to welcome him back to Terra Nova. And in one episode, it's implied that Boylan and Taylor use to be very good friends but the murder of their CO/Taylor's mentor at Taylor's hand and the subsequent cover up between the two put a lot of pressure on the relationship. It is suggested that Boylan for his part wanted to be a good soldier and report the incident but Taylor wanted to protect the colony and bribed him to keep quiet. The end result being the current situation between the two.
  • Alien Sky:
    • Of a sort. The first thing the Zoe asks when she sees Terra Nova's sky is "Are those clouds?". The future is so polluted the sky is nothing but smog.
    • Due to the moon apparently moving back a centimeter each year, and this being 85 million B.C., the moon is very close to the sky, but it just adds to the Scenery Porn. The characters also mention the stars being different (although this is not reflected in the visual since there are no visible stars). Technically the moon shouldn't actually be that close. 85 million years ago the moon would only be 2,007 miles closer (it recedes 38mm per year) meaning that it would be 0.8% closer than it would be in 2149, it wouldn't be significantly different. However, it can appear much larger due to an optical illusion because it's a new perspective for them to see the moon.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: The Nykoraptor from The Runaway was seen wagging its tail while trying to attack Jim, who was suspended from a rope trap (this is particularly unusual as raptors have very stiff tails).
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: The Brachiosaur eating from Zoe's hand. Since they are grazing right next to the fence, though, it's doubtful Zoe is the first human they've met.
  • Alternate Universe: We are told that Terra Nova exists in a different timestream than our Earth, which is why they can safely go back in time without creating all sorts of horrible time paradoxes. Various hints indicate the reality of the situation is far more complex.
  • Amnesia Danger: "What Remains"
  • Animal Eye Spy: The giant dragonfly is used by the Sixers to spy on Terra Nova. They lure it in using specific colors and vibrations, and a microchip attached to its body records information.
  • Annoying Arrows: Taylor is shot by a Sixer and he basically just shakes it off.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Lucas is this to Taylor
  • Armies Are Evil: The Phoenix Group
  • Artistic License:
    • The opening credits show Pangaea, despite the fact that 85 million years ago, apart from some minor continental shift and rise in sea-level, the planet was almost identical to present day Earth.
    • The moon was closer to Earth, 85 million years ago, but, unless the portal in time also displaced them in space and put them far nearer to the equator to create an optical effect, the Moon was barely distinguishable from the way it looks now.
  • Artistic License - Biology: When a crow-sized animal with hollow bones flies into people and clothing racks at full speed, more likely this will kill the animal, not fling things 40 times their weight into the air.
    • There is no way an animal as bulky and heavily built as a slasher could run 45 mph.
  • Artistic License - Geography: The symbol used extensively in media material and in-Universe by the expedition features the supercontinent Pangaea in a configuration from the Triassic Period, 150 millions earlier to the setting. By this point Gondwana was almost entirely broken up and much of Laurasia was covered in intercontinental shallow seaways.
    • The final episode does appear to acknowledge that the world is not just one big landmass at this point. When the Phoenix officers are discussing the planned detonation of the charges that will strip away the vegetation and animal life, they use a map image showing multiple detonations across a large land-mass and comment that the dozen or so detonations will clear half the continent.
    • The Sixer camp has avoided detection and stayed hidden for years, despite the fact that the spy in Terra Nova can leave and get to it on foot without well-worn paths, then return to Terra Nova all within a workday. In reality that would place it really close.
  • Artistic License - Paleontology:
    • Anachronism Stew and Misplaced Wildlife can be applied to basically every dinosaur present and several other animals (i.e. swordfish had not evolved yet, rhamphorynchoid pterosaurs were extinct by then).
    • In an unusual inversion of portraying dinosaurs with insufficient plumage, the Carnotaurus is seen with highly developed feathers even though it is well known Carnotaurus had no feathers.
    • It is, however, played painfully straight with the Nykoraptor, which are dromaeosaurs that don't have quite enough feathers (it is averted with the slashers though, as they are not dromaeosaurs).
    • Most of the theropods also have pronated hands.
    • Some of the inaccuracies are possibly justified, since the show may or may not take place in a separate time stream, where resemblances to our own time stream would be purely superficial.
  • Badass/Colonel Badass: Nathaniel Taylor, who went one on one with a carnotaur as a distraction. And lived. More than that, when he first came through the portal, there was a strange temporal effect that meant backup wasn't coming for a long time. Taylor survived 118 days alone in the Cretaceous. Mira points out - snarking of course - that congrats, he survived 118 days. The Sixers? Yeah, they're over 1000 days. Of course, they got sent out with hundreds of people, a fair amount of supplies, and still lost a lot of people before they learned. Taylor was sent alone with whatever he was carrying, and survived without aid.
    • His second-in-command, Washington, is no slouch in the Badass department herself.
  • Badass Family: The first season finale shows that the Shannons definitely are one.
  • Batman Gambit: When Taylor is ambushed by Mira and taken hostage, he runs into a grove of explosive plants. He knows the plants are explosive but he also knows that Mira won't shoot to kill. Anticipating this, the real reason he runs into the plants is to get her to shoot the plants, cause an explosion, and then take one of the plant's thorns as a tool to free himself.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Lucas slams Skye's head into the hood of a rover hard enough to knock her unconscious, yet she gets up again a few minutes later without a mark to show for it.
  • Beneficial Disease: A cold provides the main character immunity from another infection that wipes the person's memory.
  • Benevolent Boss: Lucas thinks of himself as one. He's obviously nothing of the sort.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Slashers are famed for the barbs on the ends of their tails. Promotional materials suggested that they could cleave a human in half, but in the show, all they can do is make lacerations. Realistically, this isn't a good way for a predator to hunt. However, the show tries to make it more realistic by having the slashers generally leap at their prey headfirst with claws outstretched, rather than use their tails. The tails are only brought into play when their prey is cornered or unaware of the slasher's presence. A later episode confirms that only males have these barbs and that they are mostly used in fights between males, rather than as a hunting implement.
  • Big Bad: Lucas
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: More plausible than most instances of this trope, three-foot long centipedes. Which really existed. There's also a gigantic dragonfly. And leeches that get very big when sucking blood. You have to figure the latter are adapted to feeding on very large animals, so...
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Just when the Too Dumb to Live teenagers are about to die a very deserved death from the Slashers, Taylor and Jim's reinforcements arrive and deploy all kinds of advanced weaponry to drive them off.
    • Jim saving Maddie from Horton's spider.
      • Justified—Zoey told him the safe word and where they were.
    • Jim again, where he beats up Lucas and at least 5 mercs before being held down when they were beating up his son.
    • To a lesser extent, the Carnotaurus that the Shannons use to infiltrate Hope Plaza and cut off Terra Nova from the present day.
  • Bigger Bad: Lucas' benefactors.
  • Big Good: Nathaniel Taylor. He's doing everything in his power to sabotage the true purpose of Terra Nova, because he believes that much in its advertised goal of a new beginning for humanity.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: On one side there's the Sixers antagonizing the Tenth Voyagers for survival, and hinted at control over time at the end of the pilot. On the other hand we have the Slashers and Caurnotaurs (although technically, they're just hungry). There's a third side, too: The people of the future want access to the past in order to exploit Terra Nova for resources, and they're perfectly willing to use violence to achieve their ends.
  • Black Market Produce: The orange in the first episode.
  • Book Ends: The season begins with the Shannons coming to Terra Nova and ends with them returning to Terra Nova, complete with the same sound track.
  • Broken Pedestal: Zig-zagged with famous geologist Horton. At first Maddy is just disappointed that he doesn't seem like the person who wrote the book, then she learns that he's a fraud when his hand-written letter doesn't match his current signature, and then the fraud (who was Horton's research assistant) claims the real one wasn't as nice as Maddy believes. Maddy is torn on whether or not to believe him, but her mother points out that the real one took the time to respond to a hand-written letter in a No Paper Future with a letter of his own.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Taylor decides not to execute Curran, a soldier he previously exiled for murder. Instead, he appoints his former subordinate to be his spy among the Sixers. He later proves instrumental in rescuing Skye's mother.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Nate Taylor. Justified by being that Badass. Averted with the teenagers.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Taylor's son went missing a few years back. He's behind the Sixers, or at least they work for him by proxy.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Basically what Terra Nova is. It's initially presented as a land of peace and bounty, where human beings can Set Right What Once Went Wrong. However, it's quickly revealed that the colony is under constant threat from ferocious dinosaurs and Sixers. Even within the walls of the colony, things aren't always peachy.
  • Crapsack World: The future; there's a reason they're leaving for the past.
    Josh: You don't know what 2149 is like! I had three friends who killed themselves in my junior year. No-one believes they have a future, no-one believes in anything anymore...
  • Comforting the Widow: Jim immediately twigs that the real reason Elizabeth was chosen to come to Terra Nova was because Malcolm intended to seduce her, knowing that her husband was imprisoned back in the future. Hence his shock upon realising Jim broke out and came back with them.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Dinosaur versus ATV versus Sonic Pulse Gun.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lucas Taylor's backers are almost cartoonishly evil. They bring an evil army through the gate, they shoot a harmless Brachiosaurus for no reason, they want to commit mass deforestation and genocide in order to facilitate their mining operation, and they even talk about all the selfish things they're going to do when they get their money.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Pretty much anyone can do this to Lucas, as every time he has gotten into a fight the person gave him a thorough beating that he so justly deserved.
  • Cut Short: Sadly.
  • Dawson Casting: Skye is a "teenager" (actual age unsaid) young enough to be flirty with 17-year-old Josh. Allison Miller was 25 when she filmed the pilot episode.
  • Death from Above: So far, the colony has suffered a swarm of horny pterodactyls AND a meteorite that fried every electrical circuit in camp, rendering guns, lights, and all but the most primitive medical equipment useless.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse / Back for the Dead: Josh's girlfriend from the future is rather abruptly killed by a bomb sent through with her group.
  • Defiant to the End: Washington, pretty much says "screw you" before Lucas killed her.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "It's an EMP Pulse!" Thank you Maddy.
  • Dysfunctional Family: A lot of the show's conflicts come from this, mostly between Jim and Josh. Explained by the presence of two Hormone-Addled Teenagers and the fact that dad was in prison can't help.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Much better; within the adults' lifetime the sky was completely blotted out by pollution, domes are in use, population control is in effect, masks are needed to breathe, and everything is grimy.
  • Elite Mooks: The Phoenix Group, or as Lucas puts it "The best army money can buy."
  • Enemy Mine: Taylor and Mira end up working together to fend off a pair of territorial slashers. After some personal backstory, they recognize it's a Worthy Opponent relationship between them. In fact, they also reason that they're much more the same than different - both ultimately want to protect their family and loved ones in the only way they know how. For Mira, that's her daughter back in the future. For Taylor, that's the colony.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Weaver cruelly shot down a brachiosaur for no reason Lucas, of all people, seemed to feel that this was an unnecessary course of action. Making the portal go both ways, hiring an evil army to help him destroy the Terra Nova colony just to prove that he's better than his dad, and killing innocent colonists in the process: sure...no problem. But gunning down innocent animals without a good reason is where he draws the line.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Basically the reason the show exists.
  • Evil Is Petty: Seems to be a running theme. While the good guys and even some of the Sixers and their agents are all motivated by the greater good or the well-being of friends and family, Lucas Taylor's sole reason for destroying Terra Nova is to show his father that he's better than him. And his Corrupt Corporate Executive backers are perfectly willing to deforest the entire planet and kill every living thing on it for no better reason than monetary gain.
  • Expy:
    • The Sixers sure sound a whole awful lot like The Others.
    • Also, who wasn't secretly hoping that Stephen Lang's speech to the newcomers would start with, "You're not in Kansas anymore! You are on Terra Nova!"
    • And the Slashers are essentially Jurassic Park Velociraptors, except they look different.
    • The Shannon family has been likened to The Simpsons.
    • Most of the fictional dinosaurs are expies of real dinosaurs:
      • Nykoraptor: Velociraptor
      • Empirosaur: Spinosaurus
      • Slasher: Velociraptor again, as mentioned above, though of the fictionalized Jurassic Park variety
      • Ovosaur: Ornitholestes (or some other small, primitive coelurosaur).
      • And the Ancestral Komodo Dragon, although not a dinosaur is an expy of Dilophosaurus and Dimetrodon.
  • Exact Words: They stated to Josh that if he helped the Sixers they would get his girlfriend to Terra Nova, they did, along with a bomb that kills her as she enters.
  • Failed a Spot Check / Offscreen Teleportation: How else to explain Lucas getting shot twice and then somehow escaping cleanly despite being mere feet away from both Taylor and Skye?
  • Feathered Fiend: The Slashers and Nykoraptors, and to a lesser extent the Carnotaurus.
  • Females Are More Innocent: It turns out that the female Sixer leader Mira is working for associates of Lucas Taylor, and has more or less been coerced into the role in much the same way as another female "villain", Sixer spy Skye Tate. Lucas Taylor, on the other hand, causes trouble for the colony largely out of a sense of Disproportionate Retribution for his father's decision years earlier that led to his mother's death, and the associates are doing it out of pure greed.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Taylor, mostly, though Wash and Guzman also wear 'em. All the better to be badasses with, my dear...
  • First Time in the Sun: In the pilot episode, when characters are about to walk outside into the past, a voice on the PA system warns them that their eyes may not be used to the strong sunlight.
  • Fling A Light Into The Past
  • Foreshadowing: Remember the first Sixer we meet? And how Skye convinces him to let them into the vehicle by telling him her name? Yeah, she's the spy. Of course he's going to help her.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: To the point where the black market orange Jim brings home is regarded as a rare, exciting treat.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Jim and Elizabeth both note that Josh's rebellious nature and his relationship with Skye mirrors their relationship when they were younger.
    • Josh is just as rebellious and ambitious as Jim while Maddy is whip smart like Elisabeth. Also, Josh looks like Jim while Maddy and Zoe resemble Elisabeth.
    • Some very specific examples:
      • Elizabeth is a brainy doctor who fell in love with a policeman. Maddy is a brainy medical student who fell in love with a security officer.
      • Jim broke the law to get his family through the time portal. Josh broke the law in an effort to get his girlfriend through the time portal.
      • Jim attacked a police officer threatening his family. Josh attacked Lucas when he was threatening Skye. Pointed out with Josh saying he finally understands Jim's actions.
  • Genre Blindness/Too Dumb to Live:
    • Tasha, who thought it was a good idea to run for it rather than wait in the heavily armored vehicle waiting for confirmed backup for rescue. She survives — if badly injured. In all fairness, she was clearly in a state of extreme panic and not thinking rationally. And she took a machine gun with her. On top of that, the slashers do eventually punch a hole through the ATV, forcing the other teens to abandon it.
  • Good Animals, Evil Animals: The Brachiosaurus and Ankylosaurus are both depicted as harmless (sometimes even playful) vegetarians. The Carnotauruses, Slashers, and Nykoraptors on the other hand, are vicious and feral predators.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Is increasingly this.
  • Guns Are Useless:
    • All the dinosaurs are apparently Immune to Bullets. Luckily, they have sonic turrets for dealing with larger predators that near the perimeter and those odd green-light-shooty-gun-thingies seemed to work pretty well on the slashers.
    • Averted when Weaver takes down a brachiosaur with one shot.
  • Hand Wave: The show at times seems to be made of it:
    • Humans would probably take a lot longer to adjust to the much higher oxygen levels in the Mesozoic age, but a simple facemask for a few minutes post transfer seems to do the trick.
    • In the pilot Josh refers to Jim having to break out of a maximum security facility armed with a few items Elisabeth is able to sneak into a rebreather. And the very next scene finds Jim riding the train...
  • Happily Married: Jim and Elisabeth
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: The herbivore dinosaurs are shown to be playful in the pilot episode. The main character's youngest daughter even feeds them treats.
  • High Heel-Face Turn: The Mole Skye switches her allegiance back to Taylor once Lucas finishes his equations
  • Idiot Ball: Both sides suffer this in the finale.
    • Hero Ball: Shannon keeps damning evidence in his pockets when he attacks a platoon of soldiers, thus revealing that he's a traitor (attacking them in itself exposed his ruse, but he just made things even worse with that).
    • Villain Ball: Lucas takes Skye at her word when she claims she wants to do a Heel-Face Turn, going so far as to escort her without guards. Predictably, he got captured.
      • It get's even more stupid when one of Lucas' bosses comes with him to Terra Nova for no defined reason and is manipulated by Elizabeth who injects him with a virus and promises to cure him if he secures Jim's release. He, instead of using the Phoenix Group to force her to cure him, agrees. No wonder the good guys won if this guy's in charge
  • I Have Your Wife: Seems to be the Sixers' and Phoenix Group's standard M.O.; they do this in spades.
    • Mira's employers in 2149 are holding her daughter to ensure her cooperation.
    • Mira, in turn, was holding a young girl's brother hostage to coerce the girl into retrieving a key artifact for Lucas' work. She does, however, let both kids return to Terra Nova when the situation is resolved.
    • The Sixers and their employers pull this one on Josh as well, promising to get his girlfriend Kara onto the Eleventh Pilgrimage if and only if he steals critical medical supplies for them. It does not end well.
    • The Sixers have been holding Skye's ill mother for three years to effectively blackmail Skye into acting as their spy in the colony. They even threaten to withhold medical treatment or outright harm her if Skye does not cooperate. Eventually, Curran breaks her out and returns her to Terra Nova.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • In the fifth episode, one of Taylor's soldiers commits an elaborate murder...with a live dinosaur as the weapon. Everyone thinks it's just an unfortunate accident until Jim's cop instincts kick in. A skeptical Taylor hangs a lampshade: "How do you kill a man with a dinosaur?"
    • Used again in the 1st season finale, where they send one into 2149.
  • In the Back: Lucas does this to his father. But seriously, you didn't have to be Genre Savvy to spot that coming a mile away.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Word for word reasoning for the third child.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Skye helping Josh to possibly get his girlfriend onto the next pilgrimage to Terra Nova. Unfortunately, the guy who can help is working with the Sixers, who plan to use Josh against Terra Nova. That fact eventually turns her against the idea. And then later, we find out that Skye is the true spy for the Sixers...
  • Jerk Ass:
  • Just Shoot Him: Skye to Lucas. Seriously who didn't scream "FINALLY!" when she did it?
  • Jungle Punk: Especially the Sixers.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Just in case you've forgotten that we're not supposed to be rooting for the Corrupt Corporate Executive, he coldly guns down a Brachiosaur for basically no reason. They were going to burn down the entire area anyway, which surely would have killed it. Even Lucas seemed put off by it.
    • The Phoenix group disables the anchor for the portal on Terra Nova's end by strapping a bomb to one of the new colonists (definitely without his consent) and sending him through to explode.
    • While Slashers aren't exactly cuddly, you have to admit Taylor and Mira shooting one with an arrow and then setting it on fire was a bit over-the-top. The second Slasher's reaction could probably be translated into English as "What the hell man? What was that all about???".
  • Kill and Replace: Horton's assistant killed him and took his place.
  • Killed Off for Real: Kara and Washington.
  • Kill It with Fire: As part of their mining operation, the Phoenix group plans to use incendiary bombs to completely sterilize miles of jungle.
  • Laser Sight: Green lasers are standard issue on the assault rifles, which is reasonable when dealing with dinosaurs, but they'll have to turn them off when fighting the Sixers.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Lucas claims that Skye and he are this since they share the same "father," though his questionable actions towards her would say another thing.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Hunter gets the end of his leg chewed on by a dinosaur. Despite this, at the end of the episode he’s merely hobbling along on the leg with the help of two friends.
    • The Slashers themselves, as well. At one point, Josh puts something like five assault rifle rounds into one. It retreats, but it ought to be dead. The Carnotaurus are even tougher — one of them takes several dozen rounds to the face from a jeep-mounted BFG, falls over, and gets up again without an apparent scratch. Taylor doesn't even bother to shoot at it with his rifle during his distraction, even as it charges him.
    • Lucas gets shot twice, center of mass, and manages to get away unnoticed. He was no more than a meter away from Taylor and Skye at the time. No word on how far he got, but he shouldn't have been able to walk straight, much less escape so quickly and quietly.
  • Meet Cute:
    • Maddy and her explanation on dinosaur digestion to the young soldier.
    • Josh and Skye meeting in the marketplace.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Josh's necklace, which was given to him by his girlfriend.
    • Taken to inanimate and in-universe Tear Jerker status in the season finale. It's now his one tangible reminder of her.
  • The Metric System Is Here to Stay: Feet and Yards still get a mention occasionally, though.
  • Mis Placed Wildlife:
    • The show takes place 85 million years into the past, which puts it in the Late Cretaceous Period (the Santonian Age, to be specific). Carnotaurus (lived 70 million years ago) isn't too far out of place, but the brachiosaurs and Allosaurus (mentioned but not seen) are way out of place.
    • In addition to issues of time, you've also got issues of space - although Brachiosaurus and Allosaurus fossils have been found in similar places from western to central North America, Carnotaurus was located in Argentina.
    • The second episode has pterosaurs which are clearly belong in rhamphorhynchoidea, small with long tails but that went extinct at the end of the Jurassic, and not the surviving suborder pterodactyloidea, larger with short tails.
    • There's always the giant centipede. There were giant myriapods at one point in Earth's history, but they weren't centipedes and, more importantly, they lived over 200 million years before the timing of the show, in the late Carboniferous.
  • The Mole:
    • Skye, while her mother was effectively held hostage by the Sixers.
    • Jim has his son Josh become this when the Phoenix Group takes over.
  • Moment Killer:
    • Maddy has a habit of killing the mood at any given time by explaining in great detail the science behind whatever way cool thing everyone else is looking at.
    • Episode Three's pterosaurs, meanwhile, raise it to an art form.
    • Skye does it to herself when... coiling up the parasite in Hunter's stomach. He's talking about how his feelings when the parasite breaks and slides back inside.
    • Jim walks in on Maddy getting intimate with Reynolds. Their fault for doing so in the jungle near the makeshift camp, of course. Maddy very nearly ruins it herself, as she often does, but Reynolds gets her back on track.
    • Lucas too. It appears that his father as finally gotten through to him, and they share a warm hug. That is until Lucas literally stabbed his father In the Back.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Harnessed by 22nd-century technology in order to send the "pilgrimages" back in time to Terra Nova.
  • Never Found the Body: Invoked as the reason why 22nd-century scientists determined Terra Nova was in a different "timestream", after they sent a mechanical probe through the Negative Space Wedgie and it never showed up in the present era. The probe, for its part, currently rests on a monument in the middle of the Terra Nova settlement.
    • Until it got blown up in the Phoenix Group's attack. The Stable Time Loop may still be in play.
  • No Paper Future: It's implied that non-digital media is pretty much dead in the future. With Earth's resources effectively gone, this is understandable.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Blowing up Hope Plaza is treated as a permanent solution, even though the technology behind it should be something easily reproducible (albeit time-consuming and costly on that scale).
  • Obfuscating Disability: Jim Shannon pretends that an explosion has made him deaf, mentally inhibited with partial amnesia, and left him with a limp. He blows his cover when he beats the shit out of Lucas and a few Phoenix soldiers with his crutch to defend his son.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Shannon and Taylor return from luring the pterosaurs to their new mating ground sporting numerous wounds and gushing about how awesome it was. Too bad the budget couldn't handle showing it.
    • On the villainous side, the Phoenix Group pretty much rolled over Terra Nova while Jim was in the hospital.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist:
    • Averted with Lucas. Malcolm states that despite Lucas being a brilliant physicist, he is no engineer.
    • Malcolm, however, plays this trope significantly straighter, as he seems to be both a biologist and an engineer. He is head of the Science Department, after all.
  • Overprotective Dad: Jim has shown signs of this towards his daughter's dating life. It should be noted that Jim is likely just messing with Mark for his own amusement. He doesn't seem to mind the relationship.
    Jim: (to Mark) "You know I carry a gun and hold grudges right?"
    • And then again when he became temporary CO:
      Jim: "You seem more nervous than usual. Is that because today I'm not just Maddy's father, I'm also your CO?"
      Mark: "Permission to neither confirm nor deny, sir."
    • He also half-heartedly pulls this routine regarding Josh; when Jim is questioning Skye in "Within" about her whereabouts, she comes up with the cover story that she was with Josh at her house:
      Skye: (beat)
      Jim: Anything you say can and will be used against you.
  • Planet Looters: Turns out to be the true purpose behind Terra Nova, rather than the advertised "new beginning". Once Taylor's son, Lucas, can make the portal two-way, future Earth will strip mine alternate past Earth for its own benefit.
  • Plot Time: The teenager sneaks out with his friends on orientation day and has the adventure in the evening, while the father's first day sure feels like more than one.
  • Poison and Cure Gambit: Elizabeth does this to get Jim out of prison in the season finale. She was bluffing. The "cure" she injected was a sedative.
  • Population Control: In the future, families are limited to two children each.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Zig-Zagged:
    • With a dash of Super-Persistent Predator: Judging by the early episodes, most theropods, fictional species and otherwise, think of nothing but murder all day. Parodied here. However, it's not that big of a stretch for a hungry predator to go after humans.
    • Averted with the giant centipede, which doesn't attack Jim; he just freaks out when it crawls over his hand.
    • When Taylor and Mira are forced to team up against a pair of slashers the justification for the pursuit is that the dinosaurs are claiming new territory and see them as threats to be chased away, not just food.
    • The little pterosaurs at first appear to be this, attacking people in the streets for no reason. It's later discovered that Terra Nova was constructed where it was because eggshells found in the soil made it fertile growing ground. Turns out that it's actually a nesting ground, and every few years the creatures that laid those eggs return to breed. What may have laid all those eggs, you ask? Those very same pterosaurs that are now attacking Terra Nova.
    • The Carnotaurus pretty much plays this trope straight.
    • Sometimes Nykoraptors attack people for food, but only when the human is vulnerable or the nyko is cornered. It's actually mentioned that their favorite food is a herbivorous compsognathid called Gallusaurus prima.
    • The empirosaur doesn't try and attack anyone, it's just terrified of the fire the Sixers use to drive it toward Terra Nova. Ultimately it doesn't even attack the colony; they successfully frighten the creature away with fire before it even gets close. Turns out it was just a distraction.
    • While it's unfortunately never shown on-screen, Xiphactinus is supposedly a dangerous and aggressive fish. It also is very tasty. Terra Novans regularly catch and eat the juveniles.
  • Previews Pulse: The pulses in the trailer signal the end of the peacefulness.
  • Private Military Contractors: The Phoenix Group.
  • Psycho for Hire: The mercenaries in the Phoenix Group.
  • Psychotic Man Child: Why does Lucas wants to destroy Terra Nova, kill countless innocent people and strip mine the past for all its worth? Simply to get back at his dad for the delusional belief he was a constant disappointment to him.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Lucas again (and often). Anybody else notice the pattern here?
  • Ptero Soarer: Averted with the unidentified tapejarids seen in a few brief flyovers.
  • Punch Clock Villain:
    • Mira is only working for the bad guys because they have her daughter, and the only way they'll ever be reunited is if Lucas can get the portal to work both ways.
    • Skye is only The Mole because Mira is treating her mother for a disease that Terra Nova doesn't even know is curable.
  • Putting on the Reich: The flag of the Phoenix Group looks very reminiscent of a Nazi battle standard, and the thuggish mercs turn Terra Nova into a virtual stalag, complete with searchlights sweeping the grounds at night.
  • Rags to Riches: Sort of. Jim goes from being an escape convict in the first episode to pretty much Taylor's right hand man and at one point temporary Commanding Officer of Terra Nova.
  • Raptor Attack: Instead of actual raptors, though, we get the slashers, which appear to be proceratosaurids. With tail barbs, for some reason. The only genuine raptors to appear are Nykoraptors, which resemble fairly-accurate Velociraptor-type dinosaurs. They aren't as dangerous as the slashers and have only a scarce few scenes.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Brachiosaurus have fleshy nostrils on top of their heads, just like their counterparts in that other mass media work showing dinosaurs. However, in the two decades since that movie came out Science Has Marched On, with the most likely position of the nostrils being on the snout.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Commander Taylor. Yes, he's keeping a few secrets, but mostly he's just interested in making sure the colony survives. Noted in the third episode, where he immediately takes measures (with three deaths to deal with) to ensure that people are kept as safe as possible until the threat is resolved.
    • Lucas claims himself to be one, right before he has two mercs hold Josh so he could beat him.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Josh. An encounter with Slashers in the middle of the jungle straightens him out, though.
  • Red Shirt: Terra Nova seems to send patrols out into the jungle for the sole purpose of dying dramatically, which they do in droves.
  • La Résistance: Jim begins to set one up within minutes of getting his hearing back from the explosion.
  • Sadistic Choice: Taylor was made to choice between saving his wife or his son.
  • Scenery Porn: Frequently.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: At the end, the family comments on how much bigger the moon is, 85 million years in the past, as it drifts from the earth at about half a centimeter per year. However, at that rate, the moon would only have drifted about 425 kilometers out of its total 400,000 km. distance — not enough to make such a significant difference in appearance. It could be that the smogginess of their century-of-origin meant they'd never seen the optical illusion that makes the moon look larger when it's near the horizon.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Nathaniel Taylor. Well, it's more like "Screw the corrupt corporations in 2149 who want to strip-mine the Cretaceous Period, I'm doing what's best for the future of humanity!" But you get the idea.
  • Seldom Seen Species: Carnotaurus isn't very common in media despite being well-known, and (apart from the feathers) was depicted very accurately. There are also Xiphactinus, a type of marine fish, which lives in the lakes near Terra Nova. The 20-foot-long adults are never seen or mentioned, but 3-foot juveniles are caught and eaten by Terra Novans. A less obvious example are the large pterosaurs seen in a few short scenes—rather than the typical Pteranodon seen in pop culture, it's an unnamed (and probably undiscovered) type of tapejarid. The slashers also aren't raptors at all; they're proceratosaurids.
  • Settling the Frontier: A new frontier in time instead of space.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The basic plot. Until Nate Taylor reveals that it's a lot different than so.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: Done from Jim's perspective early in the season finale when he wakes from a three-day coma and stumbles around the badly-damaged settlement to find Phoenix Group soldiers everywhere and Lucas and Mira in charge. Jim soon runs into Elizabeth, who restores his hearing and fills him in on what he missed.
  • Shout-Out
  • Shoot the Dog: Shoot the Brachiosaurus.
  • The Slow Path: Because no-one realise that the initial portal connection wasn't stable, when Taylor stepped through the portal with the next person right behind him... they didn't arrive for 118 days from Taylor's perspective.
  • Stable Time Loop: Some fans think that the reason the show takes place in an alternate time stream is because it used to be part of our time stream, but branched off from ours when the Terra Novans arrived and started building the colony.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: The show plays this straight while also averting it. Most of the dinosaurs appearing are fictional, but the few real species that appear are pretty famous: Carnotaurus, brachiosaurs, Ankylosaurus, etc. Even most of the fictional species resemble well-known dinosaurs. Completely averted with the Slashers, which look like proceratosaurs.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: When Jim infiltrates Hope Plaza, he brings a carnotaur with him to even the odds.
  • Super-Persistent Predator:
    • The Slashers are really determined to get into that jeep. The carnotaurs, however, realistically freak out and retreat as soon as the sonic pulse guns start firing.
    • In the next episode, the pterosaurs are really determined to get to their hatching ground aka the Terra Nova base. Justified, as that's a place they'd realistically want to get to. They don't actually go out of their way to attack people who aren't outside, except for one occasion where they break into a house.
    • Averted with the ancestral Komodo, which has apparently gained a reputation among the colonists as a coward.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Commander Taylor killed his commanding officer when he arrived in alternate past earth to relieve him of command of the Terra Nova colony shortly after he learned the truth about the project. That those behind Terra Nova are trying to find out how to make the portal go both ways so they can exploit the resources on the Terra Nova side.
  • Take Our Word for It: It's repeatedly said that it's dangerous to go outside the fence without support - there are that many dangerous critters out there. However the characters seem to show, time and time again, that its fairly safe to go wandering outside the fence, and actually pretty common to do so.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • The Sixer who gets snatched out of his ATV and eaten by a Carnotaur. Famous Last Words: "We're all clear!"
    • "Don't worry, slashers hunt mostly at night!" Guess what happens about five minutes later.
    • "Don't worry, Hunter, if slashers munch on one of us, it won't be your scrawny ass."
  • There Is Another MacGuffin: The Phoenix Group found an ancient ship's figurehead in The Badlands, implying there's a second time fracture that leads there, they just don't know where on Earth it exists in the future. Yet.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: Meteoric iron is mentioned as a vital resource for Terra Nova, presumably for construction and repairs. Shame the Sixers control the quarry. Also the resource that the guys in the future are most interested in.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The scientist who chased the little green beetle right into the path of a Carnotaur, and just stood there smiling as the dinosaur looked down on him, preparing for a very easy breakfast. Partially justified in that he is later revealed to have been exposed to a virus that induces short-term memory loss, but even so, ANYONE should instinctively know to run when there's a forty-foot predator looming over you that wants to chew on your head!
    • Although in fairness, the virus regressed people mentally to various ages. Given his scientific notes turned into nursery rhymes and drawings, it's implied that he regressed to a young child, which would explain his reaction of childlike wonder instead of fear.
    • Tasha. Sure, honey. Leave the armored ATV and run into the jungle at night where there are hungry carnivorous dinosaurs waiting to eat you. The other teenagers are pretty bad too makin' moonshine out where the predators are and all that. It was like a checklist for a slasher movie.
    • Josh is a pretty high contender too, almost to the point where "Rebel" becomes synonymous with "idiot."
      • Did no research about what life will be like there. ("Allosaurus? That's a meat eater, right?")
      • Does not drink the fluid designed to acclimate his body to the new biosphere because it doesn't taste good.
      • Grabs a fruit because he's craving solid food but has no idea how to open it.
      • Distracted by the Sexy into going outside the walls (hey, remember that allosaurus you were scared of before?)
      • Drinks alcohol in a wild environment full of predators.
      • Of course, as far as the Terra Novans knew, that area was off limits for no reason. Skye only found out about it being "Slasher territory" (even if that isn't the real reason...) at the end of the first episode, and she's been there for years. It's not as if Josh can be expected to know what is and isn't off limits if she doesn't. Makes no sense that he doesn't get sick, though.
    • To be fair, this was all in the pilot. Having a near-death experience seems to have balanced Josh out a little.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Skye considers trying to beat the ignition code for a vehicle out of Lucas, but believes he would enjoy it.
  • Town with a Dark Secret:
    • Although initially presented as a world of peace and bounty, the Shannons quickly learn that they're in danger from Slashers and Sixers ... something the orientation tour failed to mention.
    • Jim Shannon also later discovers Taylor may not be such a clean person, having murdered his mentor. But then Taylor himself reveals that the entire reason for the Terra Nova colony wasn't a second chance, but a way to obtain more resources for the future.
    • The season finale reveals that the Badlands, a supposedly empty area far from the portal, holds artifacts from Earth's history. As soon as they're cut off from the future, the Phoenix group heads there without delay.
  • Trash the Set: Used in the first season finale to show the Terra Nova settlement in the aftermath of the Phoenix Group's curbstomping of the defense forces.
  • Trojan Horse: In the first season finale, Taylor and Jim replace a cargo container being shipped to 2149 with one containing a carnotaur.
  • True Love's Kiss: Jim kisses Elizabeth to infect her with a virus that helps cure her memory loss.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The Sixers. In the first episode Terra Nova accepts them in to save them from a dinosaur attack. The moment the dinosaur leaves, they come out of their vehicle with guns armed. In their defense, the two forces are extremely bitter enemies.
  • Villainous Incest: Lucas toward Skye. They're not actually related (Taylor is a father figure to her rather than her actual father), but he refers to her as a sister nonetheless. This doesn't stop him from constantly touching her affectionately flirting with her.
  • Weird Moon: Justified, as they are 85 million years in the past...kind of, see above.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The portal is one-way, so anyone who goes to Terra Nova isn't coming back. The future can still send supplies and such, though. When Lucas makes the portal two-way, Jim blows up Hope Plaza, permanently cutting them off from the future...although the wooden figurehead implies that there's another portal in the Badlands.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: Boy howdy.
  • Zerg Rush: A flock of crow-sized pterosaurs attacks this way when their nesting ground is invaded due to the fact that Terra Nova was literally built ON TOP of it! And there are millions of them.

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alternative title(s): Terra Nova
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