Should've gone to Specsavers.Humankind's last stand.
This page is for the 1983 miniseries and its sequels. For the 2009 reimagining
try V (2009)
A militaristic alien starfleet arrives on Earth from Sirius, and its people, human-like aliens
, appeal to Earth to help produce chemicals to save their dying world. As months go by, the so-called Visitors infiltrate every level of human society. But a select few become suspicious; forming a resistance, they soon discover the truth — the Visitors are not
like us, they are not
our friends, and they don't want our help; they want our water. And other things
Originally aired as two miniseries and a one-season regular series, V
is, in the words of creator Kenneth Johnson, a story of power — how different people react to it, and how they react to those who have it. It is an unabashed metaphor for the rise of Nazism prior to World War II; in fact, the story was originally to be a direct allegory involving a home-grown fascist regime being elected to govern the United States, based on Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here
, but NBC wanted a sci-fi show
since Star Wars
had been such a hit.
The story is told in several interweaving arcs, each following a different set of characters (not unlike The Lord of the Rings
or many disaster films of the 1970s) as their individual plotlines eventually merge and they unite to combat the all-powerful evil.V (1983):
Fifty three-mile-wide spaceships take positions over key cities of the world. The aliens reveal themselves to be human in appearance (but with an electronic voice effect), and ask for help to save their doomed home planet. As they weave their way into society, biologists, archaeologists and scientists of similar fields begin disappearing; and a med student, Julie Parrish, organizes a small resistance.
Meanwhile, news cameraman Mike Donovan also grows suspicious and sneaks aboard the Mother Ship where he discovers the aliens' secret: they're really humanoid reptiles
. He also learns that they've come to steal Earth's water and to harvest humans for food. The Visitors use their contrived influence with human governments to institute martial law, effectively taking over the world. The Visitors attack Donovan's home town and kidnap his family; meanwhile, in a biological "experiment", a kidnapped girl is impregnated by a Visitor. The rest of the miniseries focuses on the fledgling Resistance's struggle to become a significant threat to the Visitors' plans.V: The Final Battle (1984):
Moving forward several months, we find that the Resistance is still struggling a near-futile battle with the Visitors, and Robin Maxwell's alien pregnancy advances with no way to stop it. But the tide turns when the Resistance stages an attack on the Visitor admiral, unmasking him on live television. Unfortunately, leader Julie is captured and put through a brainwashing "conversion chamber", though she is later rescued. Robin eventually gives birth to twins, one a human-like girl and the other a reptiloid with blue eyes. The reptile dies, and a bacterium is found in its system. The girl, Elizabeth, quickly molts into the body of an eight-year-old
, after which she is taken to the Visitors by a priest who believes she is a bridge of peace. He is killed for his trouble and Elizabeth stays with the Visitor leader Diana.
Meanwhile, the bacteria which killed the reptile baby is developed into a biotoxic weapon that will poison the Earth to the Visitors without harm to humans or the ecology. The Resistance mounts a bold attack to spread the so-called "Red Dust" into the atmosphere, but the villainous Diana has an ace — a thermonuclear device in her spaceship that will destroy Earth. And so, as the Visitors withdraw from all over the globe, the Resistance must take over the L.A. ship and fly it into space before the Earth-Shattering Kaboom
. But Elizabeth deactivates the bomb with hitherto unreferenced magical powers
, saving the day
.V: The Series (1984-85):
A year after the events of The Final Battle
, Star Child Elizabeth molts again, into a 20-year-old. Diana escapes custody on her way to stand trial and flees into space where it is revealed that the Visitor fleet has retreated only as far as the moon. It is also revealed that the Red Dust not only has had an impact on Earth's ecosphere, but that it requires a sustained cold spell to reproduce, rendering it ineffective in warm climates (like Los Angeles). The Visitors re-invade Earth, and Diana quickly strikes a truce with businessman Nathan Bates, making L.A. a "free" city
However, the core members of the original Resistance (now including Bates' son Kyle) are having none of that, and they reunite to cause mayhem and disrupt the Visitors at every turn. Eventually, after heavy casualties on both sides of the struggle, the Visitors' "Great Leader" arrives on Earth to call off the war and to take Elizabeth home with him. The cliffhanger ending reveals that Kyle, who has pursued a romance with the Star Child, has stowed away on the Leader's ship.V: The Second Generation (2008):
Written by Kenneth Johnson and ignoring the events of the second miniseries and the series
, this new novel picks up the progress of the Visitor occupation of Earth some twenty years later, here in the modern day. Answering a distress signal from Earth (sent at the end of the first miniseries), a new alien race has arrived to help the humans win their freedom.
Not to be confused with V for Vendetta
V contains examples of:
- 2-D Space: When the mothership has to leave earth in the final episode, it does so by flying sideways, despite its Dramatic Alien VTOL.
- '80s Hair — Diana (and most of the other women as well) suffer acute cases of this at various points.
- Aborted Arc: The humans send out a message for help for the aliens' enemies, with the idea "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Said potential allies never appeared in the show, but The Second Generation continues this point.
- Adult Fear: The dream sequence that opens The Final Battle is a rather literal visualization of a parental nightmare. Mike Donovan's son has previously been abducted by the aliens to be preserved as food. In the dream Mike and his son try to flee the ship as they're pursued by enemy soldiers. Sean is blasted to death in front of Mike and he screams in horror before he wakes up.
- Affably Evil: John, the leader of the visitors. His kind smile and congenial public image hides the Visitors' true intentions.
- Air-Vent Passageway — Used several times, in fact.
- Alan Smithee: The "Lillian Weezer" who shares story credit on V: The Final Battle is V creator Kenneth Johnson, who washed his hands of the followup due to Executive Meddling.
- Alien Invasion — um... duh. Oh, and they have Flying Saucers, too. Hot dog!
- Aliens Are Bastards
- Aliens Speaking English — Since the Visitors are trying to fit into human society, they must speak the local language at all times. The trope was also subverted with the character of Willie — played by Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund, no less — who was initially assigned to the Middle East and trained in Arabic, but ended up in Los Angeles by mistake and has to learn English on the fly.
- And This Is for...: Right before tossing a Molotov Cocktail into a Visitor craft, Ruby says, "This one's for Abraham".
- Anyone Can Die: Major characters are routinely killed off throughout the weekly series' run.
- Artistic License – Astronomy: Water is a very common element in space - even in the 1980's it was pretty well known that comets are almost entirely ice water. The idea of needing to suck it up from a planet and ship it interstellar distances is silly in real life.
- Artistic License – Biology: Is the Red Dust a bacteria or a toxin? The two things are very different, but the dust is referred to as both, seems to have the properties of both, and doesn't make sense as either.
- Backup Twin: Martin's brother Philip appeared several episodes after Martin was killed off, and more or less filled Martin's role. Given that the Visitors were alien reptiles disguised as humans, there was no actual reason for Philip to be Martin's twin brother, as opposed to just another Visitor wearing the same human mask as Martin. But he was anyway, just because.
- Badass Grandpa: Abraham, an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor who provides his home as a safehouse for refugees fleeing from the Visitors, and when he's discovered remains behind to buy them time to escape. He also teaches children how to 'properly' deface Visitor propaganda posters and comes up with the iconic 'V' symbol of the resistance. His neighbor is no slouch either, concealing a stockpile of Molotov cocktails in her cart which she is perfectly happy to use when Visitor targets of opportunity present themselves.
- The Baroness: Diana is the Sexpot variety. She's beautiful and sadistic, although those who know that she's an evil reptile underneath her human skin are understandably disgusted. She proves herself more extreme than any of her comrades and ends up as the primary villain. Considering Jane Badler was an experienced Soap Opera villainess, it wasn't a stretch for her.
- Beast and Beauty: Relationships between humans and Visitors, as all the aliens look human, but are really reptiles.
- The alien Willie (played by a pre-Freddy Robert Englund) is a kindly, nerdy bumbler who strikes up a relationship with a human woman named Harmony. When she learns the truth, the horrified look on her face as his fake hand is ripped open was one of the most poignant scenes in the mini. Later, they hook up again as she admits that she didn't fall for his looks in the first place. Unfortunately, she is tragically killed in the end.
- This mini also subverts the trope on a routine basis, but the nastiest example is with the character of Robin Maxwell. Long story short, she falls for one of the aliens, but it turns out she was only being manipulated into sleeping with him to conceive a hybrid child and their night together technically counts as rape. After she gives birth to two children, one mostly human and the other mostly reptilian, she murders the father with a bio-weapon engineered from the blood of the less human child.
- Big Bad: Technically John during the miniseries, but he remains a fairly uninvolved character during the Visitor occupation. Diana quickly overshadows him and kills her own superiors while cracking down on the resistance.
- Bigger Bad: The Visitors' Leader, who is more or less a stand-in for Adolf Hitler. He has the entire Visitor civilization under his heel, and ordered the invasion of Earth, but he remains on their home planet until late in the last series.
- Bizarre Alien Reproduction — Visitor females develop a ring of discoloration around their necks when pregnant, which is how Willie recognizes that Robin is expecting.
- Book Ends: The original miniseries begins and ends in the mountain camp of two different resistance groups.
- Bottomless Magazines — The captured Visitor laser pistols seemingly never need to be reloaded or recharged.
- The Novelization is basically an attempt to fill every Plot Hole in the series; the lasers, like all their technology, are powered by cold-fusion, and run on deuterium (heavy water). Still doesn't explain why they need water from planets, though. It's actually far more common in space.
- Brainwashed: The Visitors have a brainwashing method called conversion, but humans are so resistant to it that it is only considered worth the bother for a few vital individuals.
- Brainwashed and Crazy — Julie, but she gets better.
- Brainwash Residue — Diana has attempted to brainwash Julie Parish into being her slave. She fights off the brainwashing, mostly successfully, but occasionally catches herself using the wrong hand. In V: The Final Battle, Diana telepathically commands Julie and she has flashbacks to the brainwashing. Julie doesn't quite give in, but the internal struggle gives Diana a chance to escape.
- Cassandra Truth — Abraham Bernstein about Daniel and his disturbing personal tendencies before the Visitors arrive, not believed by anyone, even his friend Ruby. He's right.
- Catapult Nightmare: Mike Donovan has a claustrophobic nightmare where he and his son Sean try to escape a Visitor mothership (Sean had previously been processed to be used as food for the aliens) and are pursued by Visitor soldiers. After Mike sees his son shot to death in front of him, he jumps awake at resistance headquarters with Julie sitting besides him.
- Coconut Superpowers: The reptilian aliens wore clever disguises to pass as human. And, since reptile-face makeup is expensive and hard on the actors, the aliens wore their clever disguises even aboard their spaceships when no humans were around to see. Also, in V: The Series, the Visitors lost the reverb effect added to their voices in both mini-series.
- Cool Guns — Ham Tyler's Ingram MAC-10. In the TV series, everyone seemed to have one.
- Creator Provincialism — Although the story is said to have a global scale, most of the pivotal events occur in Los Angeles.
- Danger Takes a Backseat — Early in the first miniseries, a scientist who becomes suspicious of the Visitors is kidnapped from his car and never seen again.
- Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: The Visitors have to wear sunglasses because they're unaccustomed to bright lights. It later turns out that this is because they're actually humanoid reptilians.
- Daydream Believer — Ever got one of those chain emails from schizos about Lizard Folk? see Paranoia Fuel.
- Day of the Jackboot: Kenneth Johnson wanted to make a mini-series based on Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here. The project was originally called "Storm Warnings." It became V when the network suggested Americans would be more likely to find the specter of Soviet Russia taking over scary than a homegrown fascist movement. Johnson felt this would destroy the entire point of the source material, and instead chose to make the oppressors aliens.
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: At one point in V: The Final Battle, the heroes discover that Visitor body armor is now impervious to conventional bullets. Teflon-coated bullets solve this problem rather quickly.
- Deus ex Machina
- The Red Dust, which initially does exactly what the plot needs it to do to ensure a happy ending.
- Elizabeth saving the day through never-before-hinted-at magic powers.
- Does This Remind You of Anything? — especially egregious during the original mini-series. Try playing a drinking game which requires imbibing upon the appearance of Nazi, Holocaust, or Hitler Youth references. It is unlikely you will see the end of the series due to intoxication.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set
- Down L.A. Drain: Elias takes the rebels to set up their HQ there.
- Dressing as the Enemy: The rebels often borrow the Visitors' uniforms in the miniseries and series. In the original miniseries, Donovan takes the uniform of a much smaller, female Visitor, who explains that it will stretch to fit him. Apparently they're one-size-fits-all.
- Drugs Are Bad: Subverted Trope. In V: The Final Battle, the street smart member of the resistance is selling drugs to Visitors and their collaborators. When his father confronts him on this, the character justifies it as a means to help undermine their enemy in some small way and his father admits he has a point.
- Dull Surprise — Mike Donovan's only expression. Except when he closes his mouth. Then it's just dull.
- The End of the World as We Know It: The aliens intend to harvest the human race for use as snack food and drain all the water, and were turning the planet into a thinly disguised version of Nazi Germany to make it easier. In the end there would be nothing left but a dead desert planet. Diana puts a spin on this when the resistance is close to winning — if she can't have it then no one will. She tries to deploy her mothership as a bomb to turn the world into an irradiated wasteland.
- Enemy Mine — Ham Tyler and Mike Donovan go way back, and they hate each other's guts. Nonetheless they have each other's back as part of the resistance.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Eleanor Dupres catches Donovan breaking into her house and threatens to shoot him as he's escaping out the window. Donovan just laughs. "You'd shoot your own son? Not even you're that cold, mother." He's right; as he runs off Eleanor fires the gun in the air and rips her dress to make it appear she'd been overpowered.
- Supreme Commander John ultimately detests irradiating the entire Earth by deploying their ship as an atomic bomb and tells Diana to concede defeat. She demands John's key at gunpoint and tries to do it anyway just to spite her enemy.
- Evil-Detecting Dog — actually, birds and rodents. Justified, given the reptilian nature of the aliens.
- Evil Feels Good — It is clearly stated that Evil Overlord Diana enjoys what she does.
- Evil Twin — Combining this with Back from the Dead, we have Phillip, who adopts the same human guise as his brother, the late Reverse Mole Martin. Phillip later pulls a Heel-Face Turn.
- Expanded Universe — A number of novels explored the adventures of Resistance fighters from other key locations around the globe. Probably the best of these was East Coast Crisis, set in New York City and concurrent with the original miniseries.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles — In one of the most reviled (or at least hotly debated) scenes.
- Faked Rip Van Winkle — The Visitors try this on Donovan in one episode of the original series, trying to locate Elizabeth so they can kidnap her.
- False Flag Operation — The Visitors blame scientists for terrorist activities, using this excuse to enact martial law, as well as turning public opinion against the people most likely to discover the Visitors' true nature.
- Fantastic Slur: The resistance occasionally refers to the Visitors as 'snakes'.
- Fanservice: When the female visitor gives Mike Donovan her uniform so she can escape the camera certainly lingers on her underwear-clad body as she takes the pants off.
- Femme Fatale — Diana, among her own people.
- Fetus Terrible: Zigzagged, as Robin's pregnancy by a Visitor at first looks like this trope, causing her to crave raw meat and nearly killing her when an abortion is attempted. She gives birth to twins: a daughter who looks human, then reveals a reptilian tongue and poison spit, but grows up to be one of the good guys; and a short-lived scaled son who's the carrier of a toxin that becomes the heroes' chief weapon against the alien invaders. So he's a Fetus Terrible for humans in looks and for the aliens in physiology.
- First Contact: The very beginning of both the original series and the remake. Alien ships appear over Earth, and the humanlike aliens promise that they have come in peace and want to establish relations with mankind. Their motives and nature turn out to far more sinister.
- Flash Back — Original Miniseries: Josh catches us up on how he ended up alone in the street at the beginning of part 2.
- Fluorescent Footprints: The TV series had a Visitor use this technology in a fold-down eyepatch to track La Résistance members.
- Flying Saucer: The Visitor ships are saucer-shaped.
- For the Evulz — Diana's interrogation techniques are used not for their effectiveness, but because she enjoys it.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Not only are the blasts of the Visitors' sidearms slow enough to dodge, if you're in good shape you could probably outrun them.
- Full-Body Disguise: The alien lizards use human bodysuits to hide their true nature. It gets torn off ocassionally for the scare factor.
- Functional Magic: Elizabeth's powers were never explained or examined in any detail— and we can't help thinking that's probably for the best, as any Hand Wave the writers came up with would probably have been even more teeth-grinding than the powers themselves.
- Genre Savvy: Abraham, thanks to him surviving the Holocaust. He's even quick to point out the similarities early on.
Abraham: [after being told that they won't be targeted, and that it will all pass soon] That's what I said in 1938. In Berlin.
- Graffiti of the Resistance: The graffiti "V" stood for Victory for the resistance.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Elizabeth Maxwell, the so-called Star Child.
- The Heavy: Diana — Jane Badler even got top billing, thanks to alphabetical order. Although Diana commands the Los Angeles mothership during the initial invasion, she shares power in the Visitor fleet hierarchy with several others such as Steven as head of security and several superiors who outrank her in military matters. At the end of the two miniseries, she takes power from Supreme Commander (Fleet Admiral) John and boasts that while she planned the entire operation, he was just a meaningless figurehead.
- Hero of Another Story: Each week, the newscaster would tell of actions from around the globe with a Freedom Network Medal of Valour being awarded to a different resistance fighter who performed a heroic action.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The visitor's entire plan goes to hell all because Diana wanted Brian to impregnate Robin as part of some sick experiment, which resulted not only in Elizabeth, who has the power to disable the mothership's ultimate weapon, but the second reptilian child who was born with the fused anti-visitor virus. Without this one act that resulted in the perfect human-safe/anti-visitor germ warfare, the resistance would have arguably had no way to combat the visitors and eventually would have been wiped out over time.
- Hollywood Silencer: Several silenced pistols are used over the course of the series and they all make the classic 'fwip' sound.
- Hollywood Tactics: V: The Final Battle was full of Hollywood tactics. Some examples:
- The aliens in the movie tend to stand around out in the open in brightly-colored uniforms, despite knowing that there are rebels who will attack them. When shooting starts, they tend to flock together, making themselves an easier target. At least those brightly-colored uniforms were bulletproof in the second miniseries.
- The aliens also tend to yell, "Halt!" a few seconds prior to shooting at anyone and continue to shoot even after their targets have rounded a corner or closed a door in front of them.
- The humans have their stupid moments, too. When Donovan made a bargain for his son, he agreed to trade himself for his son. The aliens meet the humans in a canyon where the humans have a very nice ambush scenario set up. Donovan and his son trade places in a tunnel, but no one thinks that maybe Donovan should just turn around and run back to safety, even though the aliens are completely at their mercy and the humans have no reason to honor the bargain, except to advance the plot and get Donovan aboard the mother ship again. Instead, he just happily walks into the custody of the aliens and ends up blowing the cover of two Fifth Column agents. All it would have taken would be a line of dialogue about how the Vs have air support, which was their main advantage over the humans. It counts as a stupid moment for the Vs two, since the Resistance's other leader and their tactical mastermind-slash-weapons supplier is at the meeting too. They could have killed three birds with one stone and kill them too, thus decapitating the resistance in one blow.
- How to Invade an Alien Planet — The inspiration for this trope.
- Huge Holographic Head
- Human Mom, Non-Human Dad: Robin takes a liking to Brian, the Visitor youth leader. Diana then orders him to impregnate Robin, resulting in the Star Child.
- Humans Are Special — Diana told her Supreme Leader that Humans are unusually resistant to her conversion process. Thus, while it's useful for putting a few important individuals under their control, mass conversion of the entire population is completely impractical for now.
- Icon of Rebellion: The "V" hand gesture.
- Idiot Ball: Our hero Mike Donovan has been captured by the alien leader, Diana, and injected with a truth serum so that he will have no choice but to reveal the identity of the spy within her ranks. The serum doesn't work as well as it should and our hero is able to resist it. Does he pretend that it's worked so that he can lie convincingly to Diana and throw her off track? No. He defiantly lets her know that it hasn't worked by answering her first easy question (What colour are my eyes?) wrongly. Unsurprisingly, Diana's response is to inject him again. This time it works fully and he is forced to tell the truth, causing near disaster for the resistance.
- I Have No Son:
- Happens to the traitor Daniel. One of the few cases where the claim is made and the audience accepts it without even blinking.
- Eleanor, one of the most prominent collaborators, declares her son Mike Donovan as no longer being part of her family (despite keeping his own son safe from the Visitors all the same) because he's a resistance leader.
- I Kiss Your Foot: In the second miniseries, human collaborator Daniel forces some college schlub to lick his boots.
- Immune to Bullets: The Visitor soldiers wear body armor and helmets which resist small-caliber weapons fire. Only Donovan's stolen energy pistol is effective, but the Fifth Columnists can't supply any more considering the weapons are too closely guarded. Fortunately Ham Tyler, mercenary extraordinaire, later comes to help with armor piercing ammo that can take the Visitors out.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Visitors, but only when it was situationally appropriate. They randomly blew a lot of things and people up too. It became comical as the series went on; the Visitors, supposedly an alien invasion army that makes worlds tremble, can never shoot straight if a named character is onscreen. In the original miniseries, the protagonists and their fellow resistance fighters are also not particularly skilled marksmen, especially with the awkward-to-use alien weapons, which some of them don't even know how to hold correctly. They win most of their firefights through sheer volume of fire. Many of the battle scenes boil down to two groups of combatants spraying ineffective suppression fire at each other from behind cover.
- Infraction Distraction: Donovan's mother catches him breaking into her house to steal a security pass. He pretends he was there to steal a photo of his son.
- Interspecies Romance: Willy the kind alien and the human Harmony Moore had a genuine romance, unfortunately cut short by her death in the second TV movie.
- Intrepid Reporter
- Mike Donovan and his cameraman Tony.
- For an Evil Counterpart version, look no further than Kristine Walsh
- It Only Works Once — the Red Dust stops working in warm environments. Further deployment of the Dust is ruled out because it affects terrestrial reptiles as well.
- Jive Turkey: Subverted with Elias Taylor talking in jive and his respectable brother, Benjamin, who talks in perfectly erudite English, tells to stop using such bad grammar in a "poor man's Richard Pryor act."
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Danny goes from merely being a self-serving, amoral, vaguely sociopathic Jerkass to unquestionably evil when he executes his elderly neighbor, Ruby, after learning she's a resistance fighter.
- Just Desserts: In V: The Final Battle, Daniel Bernstein is framed for the kidnapping of the Visitor Brian. Daniel is then captured, tortured, and taken away to be served to the aliens
- Just Following Orders: Used by humans to justify working for the visitors. One woman is called out on this, being told that the same excuse was used at the Nuremberg Trials.
- Karmic Death — Danny and Eleanor both get served different versions of this. The latter's doubles as a crowning moment of awesome for Stephen when he twigs what she's about to do and shoots her in the back as she tries to switch sides.
- Klingon Promotion: Diana pulls this off twice near the end of the second miniseries.
- La Résistance — cleverly named "the Resistance".
- Large Ham: Mike Donovan, especially during fight or chase scenes.
- Latex Perfection — the Visitors only look human. Indeed their disguise is so good they can even fool the mammals they have sex with!
- Left Hanging:
- Leno Device: Howard K. Smith's update reports.
- Les Collaborateurs — The series gives no small amount of attention to people who collaborate with what turns out to be a not-so-benevolent alien occupation. Their motivations run the gamut from unscrupulous humans who seek the favor and reward of collaboration with the Visitors, to a disturbingly plausible case of a socially awkward teenage boy who finds a place in the "Visitor Youth" (the parallels to its historical equivalent are strong) and is soon corrupted by the amount of power and impunity he possesses in his position. His grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, finds this particularly horrifying.
- Light Bulb Joke:
Q: How many Visitors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, they like the dark!
- Lotus-Eater Machine: In an episode of the weekly series, Donovan is captured by the Visitors and wakes to find himself in the bedroom of an apartment where it is ten years in the future, the war has been won and the Visitors vanquished and he is living happily with his son and his wife, Julie. In reality, of course, Julie and his son are Visitors wearing shapeshifting devices to alter their appearance and the aim is to trick him into revealing the time and location of a resistance meeting - information that he would believe was no longer relevant ten years later. Donovan finally realises it's all a trick when the Visitors overplay their hand, leaving a future edition of a newspaper in his room which includes a picture of the Star Child still as a little girl. Donovan knows, but the Visitor's don't, that the Star Child evolved into a young woman at the start of the series. Although...you'd think that they'd have figured she might have grown up anyway ten years later, so why they still had her a child...!
- Make It Look Like a Struggle: In the original miniseries, a Fifth Columnist gives Donovan her uniform to help him escape the ship, then makes him shoot her (stun, natch) so it will look like a genuine escape. She actually tells Donovan to kill her, not stun her, as her superiors would never believe any story she'd come up with. He checks her pulse, and she luckily survived the blast.
- Malaproper — Willie was supposed to be sent to Israel, not California, so he's not that proficient at English and does this pretty much all the time.
- Male-to-Female Universal Adaptor: Subverted, a reptilian humanoid is required to undergo surgical alteration (and make no mistake, even the simple act of implying as much was pretty racy for early 1980s primetime!) before mating with a human female. The novelization goes a little further than the TV show did, noting that the human subject of the experiment — although unaware of how alien her lover is — senses that something is wrong.
- Manchurian Agent: Ham Tyler is brainwashed to kill resistance leader Michael Donovan.
- Mind Probe: The "conversion chamber", which employs More Than Mind Control. This also leaves A Sinister Clue — Conversion renders collaborators left-handed (or right-handed, if they were lefties to begin with).
- The Mole — in particular, hero Mike Donovan's traitorous, got-what-was-coming-to-her collaborator mother.
- Mook-Face Turn — Willie gets captured by the Resistance and ends up joining them.
- The Mothership: Multiple alien Motherships are featured throughout the show.
- Motive Decay: In the original series, which followed the mini-series and The Final Battle, the visitors seem to have abandoned their original plan to steal all of Earth's water and use the people for food and have instead chosen to enslave the people for some reason. Even though they still use people for food, this appears to be a secondary motive rather than the primary purpose as it was in the original miniseries.
- Must Not Die a Virgin — Danny pitches this to Robin before he realizes she digs Brian and not him.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast — Does the name "Nathan Bates" sound like one of the most famous psychopaths in cinema?
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Visitors are quite deliberate Nazi stand-ins, so the parallels are numerous. The Visitors' logo is just two strokes away from being a swastika and their uniforms are obviously Nazi-esque, they harvest humans in concentration camp-like meat processing plants, run a totalitarian Propaganda Machine, scientists are persecuted with the same type of rhetoric as were the Jews, they establish quisling regimes in occupied countries staffed by collaborators and intend to completely loot the natural resources and even the people that live there (i.e. Eastern Europe), though unlike the Nazis they don't intend to settle on the land they conquered.
- Nicknaming the Enemy: The Sirian Scary Dogmatic Aliens call themselves "visitors" and are referred to as "lizards".
- Nightmare Sequence: V: The Final Battle opens with a claustrophobic sequence in which Donovan is trying to escape a Visitor mothership with his son Sean, being pursued through the corridors by their soldiers. He breaks down when Sean is blasted to death, upon which Julie wakes him up at resistance headquarters.
- Newscaster Cameo: The series featured assorted newscasters as themselves. Howard K. Smith for instance was a well known news reporter from World War II to the 1970s and appeared as himself covering the Visitors' arrival.
- Novelization — A. C. Crispin wrote an unusually good one covering both miniseries. She also co-wrote the previously mentioned East Coast Crisis.
- Non-Malicious Monster: Robin's lizard-baby. Poor thing looks scary, but literally is just... an ill baby visitor.
- Occupiers out of Our Country: A human resistance group tries to expel the aliens who have taken control of Earth.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Walsh is visibly shaken when a former mentor accuses her of being the minister of propaganda for a fascist state. She's even more shocked when the Visitors introduce them again...and he burbles enthusiastically about how great it is to see her again, having been conditioned by the Visitors.
- Ominous Floating Spaceship Most major cities are covered with the Visitors' flying saucers. Likely the Trope Codifier. In the novelisation when a second saucer shows up, Donavon comments that there'll be a lot of dead grass with two of those things floating over Los Angeles.
- One-Letter Title
- Only One Name: The Visitors go only by a first name.
- Outside-Context Villain: Donovan is filming communist guerrillas fighting helicopter gunships in El Salvador, when suddenly the gunships fly off. Donovan turns round and finds himself facing a huge frickin' UFO.
- People Farms: The original mini-series and subsequent series had reptilian aliens disguised as human-like beings bringing peace and love, only to secretly harvest the human race as a) cannon-fodder foot-troops for their wars and b) food.
- Persecuted Intellectuals: The Visitors begin persecuting and rounding up scientists and getting humanity to go along with it, because scientists had readily identified that the Visitors were actually reptilian aliens with a nefarious agenda.
- Planet Looters: The Visitors come to earth to strip it clean, but are focused on water and meat (and humans are so damned plentiful). The Novelization makes an effort to justify it; in the Visitors' experience, the industrial effort necessary to develop interstellar civilization inflicts irreversible damage on biospheres. Recycling technologies are found to be insufficient when applied to billions of people, so all civilizations they know of are fighting over what few natural resources remain. Earth is thus ripe for the plucking.
- Plot Hole — Some reviewers at the time noted that the script seemed to be constructed largely of these.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up — Elizabeth grows from infant to romantic-plot-capable in record time. In a single night she grows from an infant to about ten years old. Say, where'd all that mass come from? Last night she was a nine-pound infant, now she's a ten-year-old.
- Professor Guinea Pig: V: The Final Battle. The dust used to kill the Visitors is tested on an alien prisoner. Then while the others are busy arguing about whether they should find a human collaborator to test it on, the Hot Scientist steps into the chamber instead, and survives.
- Putting on the Reich — Campaigns of persecution against social undesirables, heavy propaganda state and totalitarian control of information, obsession with spiffy uniforms, considering V originated from an idea for a TV show about a fascist government in the United States, it is no surprise that the fascist overtones of the Vistors are reinforced in spades throughout the show.
- Kind of overt, since the alien's logo was a thinly disguised swastika, and a Holocaust survivor points out the similarities, even giving a Title Drop as "V for victory" over the regime (something used in World War II.)
- The Quisling: Kristine Walsh, Eleanor Dupres, and Daniel Bernstein are the most prominent examples. Kristine pulls a Heel-Face Turn and gets shot by Diana, Eleanor tries to save herself and gets shot by Stephen, and Daniel is framed by the Resistance as a spy and it's implied he gets eaten by Stephen.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Ham Tyler has a tendency to shoot inanimate objects with his MAC-10.
- Recycled In Space: V is Nazism WITH ALIENS!
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Red and black are the signature colors of the fascistic reptilian Visitors, with almost all their uniforms and even their flag featuring some combination of the two.
- Redemption Equals Death:
- Kristine Walsh, who's essentially become the Visitors' PR agent, breaks and announces their true nature on air. Diana promptly shoots her.
- Subverted by Mike Donovan's mother, who only switches sides (and merely gets her comeuppance) when it's obvious the resistance is winning.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning:
- The Visitors in their true reptilian forms.
- Inverted with Elizabeth's twin brother, who looked creepy because he had blue human eyes in a reptilian face.
- Replaced the Theme Tune: The series changed its theme tune a number of times during its run.
- The Reptilians — The Visitors.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent — The Visitors in their real form eat cuddly, fuzzy little hamsters and guinea pigs. They eat pretty little parakeets. And they have creepy red-and-yellow eyes. They spit acidic venom.
- Reverse Mole — actually, a whole slew of them, in the Fifth Column.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Resistance used biological warfare against the enemy. Given that most Visitors lived in sealed starships and thus had the option of simply leaving unharmed, it's not quite as nasty as it sounds.
- The Right of a Superior Species: The aliens don't really think of themselves as a superior race, but consider the humans they covertly conquered as a resource to be consumed. At one point, the original miniseries has aliens offhandedly discussing how it was inadvisable to sedate human captives before butchering them because the drug alters the taste of the flesh.
- Running Gag: Part of Donovan and Tyler's dynamic has Mike insulting Ham's driving while Ham insults Mike's marksmanship.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Visitors are barely-concealed Nazi substitutes.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale - The Visitors are going to put all the water in Southern California into a three mile wide spaceship? Um...No?
- Senseless Sacrifice: Happens at least twice in V: The Final Battle.
- In the scene where Donovan arranges to trade himself for his son, the rebels are set up to ambush the visitors, but they don't. Instead, they let Donovan get taken by the aliens.
- In a scene where the rebels are sabotaging the water facility, one of the rebels is wounded. The rebel's girlfriend comes back for him and insists she will stay with him. Two (fit) mercenaries come back, too. They pick up the perfectly fit woman and haul her away, leaving the wounded man behind to be killed. If they'd grabbed the wounded man instead, they would have all made it out alive.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: In the original miniseries, the alien invaders took on human form to disguise their true reptilian nature (as well as their intentions to cannibalize the human race). Oddly, the aliens continued to maintain their human appearance long after the jig was up. (It's possible the human suits had some sort of protective factor against the environment, but it also conveniently kept half the cast from having to don expensive alien makeup before shooting.) It doesn't explain why the electronic voices from the aliens vanished, though.
- Shout-Out — In a scene welcoming the Visitors, a high-school marching band plays the Star Wars theme — badly.
- A Sinister Clue: Whenever a human is converted to the villains' cause, it causes a brain-dominance switch. Since there are no lefties in TV Land, this leads to left-handed human collaborators.
- Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Elizabeth, with the Hand Wave that she's a hybrid, but moreso so she can have romantic involvement. Considering the TV series was a thinly disguised soap opera...
- So Happy Together — Brad and Maggie agree to get married right before going on a raid. Brad doesn't come back.
- Left the Background Music On: In the scene where Ben bleeds to death after being shot during a raid, there is a radio in the background playing cheerful music the whole time, until someone angrily smashes it.
- Squaring the Love Triangle: A variation where Robin Maxwell loved Kyle Bates, but he ended up with her rapidly grown child Elizabeth instead (although there was never a triangle in the first generation).
- Stock Footage — Little alien ship flies into big alien saucer vessel. Little alien ship flies out of little alien saucer vessel. One little alien ship shoots death rays at another little alien ship, pew pew pew! Apparently the first one or two episodes used up the entire special effects budget, and these three sequences are reused over and over and over and OVER and over and over and over and over, to the point of being really, really noticeable. Plenty of stock footage celebrations when the resistance wins.
- Stun Guns: Visitor infantry weapons seem to be a particularly painful version. They clearly hurt when they hit, but never do any serious damage even though we see a number of people on both sides take center-of-mass hits at close range.
- Stylistic Suck: The high school band that greets the Visitors arriving in Los Angeles is really bad.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Martin, Elias and Robin's father in the first few episodes of the weekly series.
- Supernatural Soap Opera: Of the Science Fiction variety. The casting choices didn't even hide it, not to mention the use of Soap Opera Aging Syndrome.
- Throw-Away Country: In the original series episode "Juggernaut", Diana has the Particle Beam Triax Cannon destroy Io as a warmup exercise prior to taking station over Earth. F fortunately, before it can destroy Los Angeles a Resistance member crashes one of the motherships into it.
- Token Evil Teammate: Michael Ironside portrays merc Ham Tyler, who was initially distrusted by the Resistance as being a warmonger. He's always the first to suggest some immoral course of action to further the insurgency. He wasn't without Pet the Dog moments though. When Ruby is killed by Daniel, nobody took it harder than Ham, who swore merciless revenge.
- Token Heroic Orc: Willie was a Visitor but played on the humans' team. It turns out, though, that there is an entire underground of Visitors who resists the leaders from within.
- Too Dumb to Live: Robin Maxwell first wanders out of hiding, to be discovered by collaborator Daniel, which leads to the Maxwells having to move, Daniel's parents being arrested, and his grandfather being killed. Having learned nothing, she leaves hiding again, this time getting captured by the Visitors, which leads to the Resistance camp being attacked and her mother being killed. Not to mention actually falling for one of the Visitors' sweet talk — very dumb, even if it did lead to a useful Half-Human Hybrid. In the series that followed the mini-series, Robin passed this trait on to her daughter, Elizabeth.
- Torture Technician: Diana is basically a Mengele-Expy with her medical "experiments". She's also the head interrogator of the Visitors and responsible for brainwashing people to serve them against their will. She insists on carrying out the Mind Rape herself specifically because she enjoys it.
- To Serve Man — One EU novel highlighted this by having a Visitor munching on
ladyfingers a lady's fingers.
- Truce Zone: V The (Original) Series turned Los Angeles into a Truce Zone, although fighters on both sides would circumvent the truce at every opportunity.
- Truth Serums: In V: The Final Battle, the hero Mike Donovan is injected with an alien truth serum and fulfills this trope completely. This is an alien formula, so...
- Two-Keyed Lock: In the second miniseries, the Visitors intend to deploy their mothership as a nuclear bomb as a last resort in case their troops can't hold on to Earth. John and Diana both take one of the arming device's two keys. John is willing to concede defeat and just retreat, but a spiteful Diana wants to kill off all of humanity because they defeated her. She orders John to hand over his key at gunpoint, and kills him when he voices his disgust.
- The Unfavorite — Elias, who suffered Why Couldn't You Be Different? in comparison to his doctor brother, Benjamin. Tragically, he gets over it too late. Technically, Elizabeth's short-lived, scaly brother qualifies too, as no one but Willie was willing to show him any affection and he was never given a name. More than one preson has been hit by Fridge Horror when they realize the lizard baby not only was misunderstood, but the poor thing was born with fatal disease.
- Vichy Earth: The Visitors turn the Earth into a puppet state under their military control to facilitate their plans to steal all the resources.
- Villain Exit Stage Left: Subverted in the regular TV series, which begins right at the moment V: The Final Battle ended where Diana made her escape. Donovan immediately realizes that she's getting away, chases her and catches her right away.
- Villain with Good Publicity: The malevolent alien Visitors begins like this, gaining control of the world's governments by pretending to be Human Aliens who have come to share their great knowledge, thus facilitating their real plan to enslave and devour mankind.
- Voice of the Resistance: V: The Series used to begin each episode with a faux bulletin from "Freedom Network" in New York, until they dropped the idea in mid-run. There's also a brief glimpse of what they hope will be their final broadcast, following the truce in the final episode.
- V Sign: The series was named after this trope. The oldest Bernstein family member, a Holocaust survivor, teaches some kids in the streets the meaning and sprays the Visitors' propaganda posters with the symbol.
- We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill — Version 2
- Wham Line: "They've come for the water."
- Whole Plot Reference: The series is basically a World War 2 historical drama with a thin veneer of sci-fi layered on top. The entire thing could have been set in 1940s France with Nazis instead of aliens and you'd have to change very little of the overall plot.
- You Do NOT Want To Know: The novelisation of V: The Final Battle doesn't have the scene where the nasty young human collaborator Daniel Bernstein gets dragged off to "serve us better" after being framed by La Résistance, but it does have Eleanor Dupres asking what happened to him and being told by a Visitor: "Believe me, you wouldn't want to know!"
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As noted above, Daniel gets hit with a version of this, though the Visitors still have one use for him.
- You're Not My Mother:
Donovan to his mother: "You know, when I was a kid, there was a woman who taught me what was right and what was wrong. I wonder whatever became of her."