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Abandon Ship

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Mission Control: Abandon ship, Space Girl! Abandon ship!
Space Girl: Computer, eject! Eject! [nothing happens] Eject!
Ship's Computer: So that's it? You've only just started going down and you already want to bail?
The Key of Awesome, "Space Girl: Abandon Ship!"

Essentially, you have a ship of some sort, be it an oceangoing vessel or a Cool Starship. At some point, the ship suffers some catastrophe that makes it a very good idea not to remain there, because it is about to explode, fall to the planet below, go careening uncontrollably into the nearest star, or, you know, sink. What are the passengers and crew to do? Why, they must Abandon Ship! Bonus points if the trope's actual name, which is a Stock Phrase nearly omnipresent in all movies dealing with naval action, wet or otherwise, is used.

If much of the story has taken place on the ship, then her death (and it will often be played as a death rather than a destruction, complete with strangely mournful sounding metallic groans and dramatic music) will be rather dramatic and played out. If our hero gets to the lifeboat only to realize that a friend or loved one has not similarly done so for some reason, a miniature quest may ensue as they make their way through the chaotic process of the ship breaking up and sinking. Some reference might be made to the Captain Going Down with the Ship.

On a military airplane, the crew might be expected to make use of Ejection Seats to escape the plane. Otherwise, they'll probably have to get out the old fashioned way: Strapping on a parachute and getting to an exit before the plane crashes. Starships typically have Escape Pods for the same purpose.

Not to Be Confused with Abandon Shipping, which occurs when a Shipping community suddenly abandons a given pairing (and was formerly known as Abandon Ship).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • After War Gundam X: the crew of the Freeden escape from their ship (in jeeps; remember that they're on Earth) after ramming an enemy battleship to clear the path for Garrod's launch into space.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, the crew of the White Base is forced to abandon ship after getting shot down during the Final Battle.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE has the Diva "sink" in the very last arc, after three generations of steady service. It's a very emotional event for all the Feddies.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, where the crew of the Dominion (along with Flay), who abandon ship when Natarle turns on her commander and the Archangel destroys the ship. Too bad the pod drifts straight into Rau le Creuset, who's more than happy to finish the job.
  • Happens in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, where The Captain of ORB's attack fleet urges the crew to join the Archangel while he goes down with the ship.
  • One Piece, when the Going Merry goes down.
  • When the St. Anne is in danger of going under in Pokémon: The Series, the captain getting on a lifeboat first causes a stampede evacuation. In the chaos, they leave behind five kids and fourteen Pokemon — the main characters.

    Comic Books 
  • In Asterix, most encounters with the pirates end up with the pirate ship sinking. At times, they scuttle their own ship as the gauls are approaching.
  • In Jonah (a comic strip in The Beano) whenever the sailors on a ship realise Jonah is aboard they would often shout 'Aaagh it's im' and attempt to leave the ship before it's inevitable sinking (Jonah would manage to sink the ship everytime).
  • Almost inevitably happens whenever Groo the Wanderer gets on board a boat.
  • Tintin: In The Red Sea Sharks, Tintin and Haddock's kidnappers abandon ship after it catches fire, only for Tintin and Haddock to put out the fire (with a little help from a wave crashing on the deck), restart the engines, and take over the now-repaired ship.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The phrase and concept are Played for Laughs when Dean "Sourpuss" catches Etta and two other Holliday Girls ditching a lecture. Etta shouts abandon ship to get everyone to bolt but their escape is interrupted by a villain attack.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The Sangtee Empire navy attempts to abandon some slave ship escorts when they realize they've been hacked, boarded and overrun by the rebels, presumably so they can use their favored tactic of blowing the ships up from afar. The crew is trapped and captured before they can leave on their own terms, then disarmed and forced to leave via the indefensible escape pods while the rebels leave with their ships and the most valuable political party aboard as prisoner

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Battle of Britain, being a war film about a months-long aerial battle, includes numerous scenes of airmen bailing out of bombers and fighters. Or at least trying to.
  • In the film Battleship, the destruction of the John Paul Jones via a pair of alien "Shredder" droids sees a good portion of the crew bailing out of the ship as it's taken apart beneath them. Earlier in the film, the Myouko has several bail-outs after getting blown in half by alien det-charges. However, this trope is sadly averted with the loss of the Sampson, the destruction of which is so sudden and cataclysmic that there are no survivors.
  • In Beat the Devil the whole gang has to do this when Harry's efforts to fix the malfunctioning engine result in much more worse damage. The kicker comes in a late scene when our survivors see the ship, which didn't sink after all, pulling into port.
  • Dunkirk. Not only does it happen more than once, it happens more than once to the same characters. Those who have survived the trauma of one sinking are not eager to go below decks on the next craft.
  • The Finest Hours: Mr. Sybert defies this trope and refuses to abandon the ship as the seas are too rough for the lifeboats and he believes their best chance is to keep the stern afloat as long as they can until someone can reach them. Only then do they evacuate.
  • The Hunt for Red October: A key part of the plot involves Captain Ramius having to find a way to get his crew to abandon the ship without figuring out what he's trying to do. This is exactly what happens during the film's climax, with an American frigate taking the Soviet crew aboard while unbeknown to them, Hot Sub-on-Sub Action takes place beneath them.
  • Also Lifeboat, which starts out with this in the opening moments before the whole rest of the movie takes place in a cramped lifeboat filled with hungry, thirsty, desperate survivors.
  • Near the end of The Matrix Reloaded, the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar has to bail after the Sentinels spot them and blow the ship up with a bomb.
  • A Night to Remember: The whole reason for watching it, with the process taking place over more than half of the film.
    Captain Smith: (through megaphone) Abandon ship! Every man for himself!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: A British naval officer, who just had Captain Jack Sparrow hijack his ship from him, yells this to his crew after he realizes the Dauntless, with its rudder disabled, rams into their little lifeboat. The men dive into the water, but the lifeboat is smashed to pieces.
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: Even after the Black Pearl fights off the Kraken, Captain Jack Sparrow knows the ship is too badly damaged to escape and the Kraken will be back. He gives the order to abandon ship and tells the others to get into the life boat. Gibbs at first protests the idea of abandoning the Black Pearl that Jack had fought so hard to get back in the previous film but Jack simply responds "She's only a ship, mate." Gibbs realizes it's pointless.
    Gibbs: Abandon Ship. Abandon ship or abandon hope.
    E.I. Company Lieutenant: Sir, what do you command?!
    Lord Cutler Beckett: [staring into the distance] It's just...good business.
  • In Pirates Of Tortuga, the crew of a pirate ship is ordered to abandon ship. Hilariously, they all dive overboard and swim for it, instead of using lifeboats.
  • Red Tails depicts an aviation variation on this trope:
    • In the prologue, a formation of American bombers is being attacked by German fighters. The pilot of a badly damaged bomber orders his crew to prepare to bail out. Immediately afterwards, a German fighter attacks the bomber head-on, killing both pilots. Some men can briefly be seen tumbling out and opening chutes.
    • Later on, a fighter pilot's plane is shot up, and he bails out in the most expeditious manner available: He jettisons the canopy, unbuckles his seatbelt, and rolls the plane over so he falls out before opening his chute.
    • Another pilot, badly injured, and his cockpit filling with gasoline from a ruptured fuel tank, tries to bail out, but is too weak to pull the emergency release for his canopy. He crashes on landing, but is pulled from the burning plane and survives.
  • The 1957 Tyrone Power movie Seven Waves Away (AKA Abandon Ship) has the ship in question hitting a mine, forcing the survivors in an overloaded lifeboat. The surviving ranking officer tries to keep it afloat by ruthlessly throwing out those who can't survive and keeping those he feels can, making no moral judgements on who is worth saving. Loosely inspired by the real-life 1841 sinking of the William Brown.
  • Spaceballs:
    • The movie has this as one of the few tropes that are played straight (at first):
    Colonel Sandurz: "Attention! This is Colonel Sandurz in forward command! Abandon ship!note  Repeat: abandon ship! All personnel please assume your escape pods! Close down the circus! Evacuate the zoo! Self-destruct sequence has been activated! Abandon ship!"
  • Starship Troopers. When the Roger Young is seriously damaged by Bug plasma the crew tries to get to the lifeboat deck to escape.
  • Happens in several Star Trek movies:
    • The Search for Spock features the destruction of the Enterprise, though there weren't exactly a lot of crew members to evacuate.
    • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, our heros and a couple of humpback whales must abandon the captured bird-of-prey HMS Bounty before it sinks into San Francisco Bay.
    • Star Trek: Generations has the trope implied when the Enterprise-B, under the command of Captain Harriman, arrives to rescue the passengers and crew of two El-Aurian refugee ships trapped in a Negative Space Wedgie. Also used when the Enterprise-D is about to suffer a warp-core breach, but Downplayed as they evacuate everyone to the saucer section and detach from the engineering hull.
    • Star Trek: First Contact features a scene where the crew of the Enterprise-E evacuates the ship so as to self-destruct and kill the Borg on board. Subverted when the Borg Queen deactivates the selfdestruct sequence and gets killed shortly afterward, so the ship is saved.
    • Star Trek (2009): The prologue features the crew of the USS Kelvin abandoning ship, with the shuttles launching from the shuttle bay making for a nice visual metaphor for James T. Kirk's birth just before the Kelvin is destroyed, with Kirk's father, George Kirk, staying aboard to make sure the shuttles escape.
    • In Star Trek Into Darkness, Spock orders the Enterprise abandoned when she is crippled and falling from orbit over Earth. The ship's tumbling badly hinders the evacuation, as crewmembers are sent falling to their deaths via Gravity Screw and a brief view of the shuttle bay shows the escape shuttles are similarly being tossed around. The ship is saved and the evacuation averted in the end.
    • About a third of the way through Star Trek Beyond, the Enterprise is attacked by Krall's Swarm of Mecha-Mooks, which tear the ship apart, eventually forcing Kirk to order the ship evacuated before it crashes into the planet below. However, aside from a few of the core members who manage to land scattered but safe, the rest of the crew who manage to get away in the life pods and shuttles are taken prisoner. And beyond that, it's implied that a lot of the crew was killed either in the attack or the subsequent crash.
  • Comes up in a few of the Star Wars films:
    • In A New Hope, one of Grand Moff Tarkin's lieutenants reports that they've determined the Rebel plan has a significant chance of suceeding, and advises that Tarkin and his staff should do this, just to be safe. Tarkin scoffs at the idea.
    Tarkin: Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances.
  • The Filipino film Temptation Island forces its characters to do this, after a fire sinks their yacht.
  • Titanic (1997): Half the reason for watching the movie.
    • And about the only reason to watch Titanic II is to see The Asylum subvert the hell out of Titanic.
  • Considering that Tora! Tora! Tora! shows the attack on Pearl Harbor, it's no surprise that there's at least one call to abandon a severely damaged ship.
  • Under Ten Flags. A British merchant ship gets surprised by a disguised German raider, but The Captain decides to ram it rather than surrender. However the African crewmen in the engine room panic and flee to the lifeboats, forcing the captain to give the order to abandon ship when he realises the situation is hopeless. Of course he has to add That's an Order!, as heroic Brits would never willingly abandon ship like those cowardly Africans!
  • Happens in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, following the two torpedo hits on the titular cruiser.

  • In one of the Captain Future stories by Allen Steele, terrorists board a luxury spacecraft so the captain orders the passengers and crew into the lifepods. They're surprised when the terrorists make no move to stop this; they're not taking hostages but want the spacecraft for their own purposes, merely holding onto the crew they need to pilot the ship.
  • It's not the whole ship that's abandoned, but when an enemy attack breaches the section that Ciaphas Cain note  and Jurgen are in, they are forced to abandon the ship in order to save their own lives. This being a Ciaphas Cain note  book, this just drops them into even greater danger.
  • The crews of several damaged vessels try to escape in Banner of the Stars, but survival in unarmed escape pods is rather dicey in the middle of a battle. The Basroil crew, including Lafiel and Jinto, are also forced to abandon their ship at the end.
  • Dead Silence has a moment where the passengers to the Ghost Ship Aurora tried this. It didn't save them.
  • Happens reasonably frequently in the Honor Harrington universe, with crew abandoning ships that have taken damage in combat. These run the range from small numbers of survivors evacuating in escape pods right before the ship explodes to an orderly evacuation of a ship that is still intact but has taken sufficient damage to its alpha nodes or hyper-generator that it cannot leave the system and has to be scuttled. For a specific example, in Shadow of Freedom Solarian Vice Admiral Dubroskaya surrenders to a Manticoran task force after witnessing the enemy's first salvo pounding her own ships. However, her surrender comes only moments before the second Manty salvo arrives, so she quickly gives orders to abandon ship. Only a few hundred of her thousands of crewmembers make it out in time. Dubroskaya and her staff don't.
  • In "Hornblower and the Cargo of Rice," the Marie Galante was taken as a prize and Mr. Midshipman Hornblower placed in command to sail her back to England. Unfortunately, an undetected leak caused the titular cargo of rice to expand and burst the Marie Galante, forcing Mr. Hornblower and the prize crew to abandon her.
  • In The Lost Fleet, any ship that isn't completely obliterated when two fleets pass by one another at the combined speed of 0.2c but is still severely damaged usually launches Escape Pods shortly after. The victor usually sends out destroyers (The Alliance) or hunter-killers (Syndics) to pick up any surviving pods, both theirs and the enemy, although it's not uncommon for some trigger-happy officers (on both sides) to shoot at the enemy pods). The backstory for the series has the main character, John Geary, order the evacuation of his patrol ship just before charging at the Syndic warships that ambushed the convoy at the opening stages of the Alliance-Syndic war. His only intent was to delay the enemy, giving the unarmed convoy and his crew a chance to get away. He ends up surviving as a Human Popsicle and is found a century later, with the war still going on. The good news it that his sacrifice was not in vain, as his gambit worked. The bad news is that his sacrifice was used by the Alliance officials to promote an utterly ridiculous way of fighting the war: charge at the enemy in a "damn the torpedoes" style and hope your "fighting spirit" is strong enough to let you win.
  • Happens twice in Old Man's War: Once towards the end of the second act, when a fleet of Colonial Defense Force ships is ambushed while trying to retake a human colony captured by the Raery. The ships are attacked so suddenly upon completing their faster-than-light trip that the only people to make it off of any of the ships are assault troops ready to launch in their shuttles, and even then only a very small handful survive. The second time is an Invoked Trope. A ship crewed entirely by members of the Ghost Brigades pops out of FTL in just the right place for the entire crew to skydive from orbit directly over their objective in specially designed reentry suits, timing their jump to make them look like more debris from the ship being attacked and destroyed.
  • The crew of the Cerys in Septimus Heap is forced to Abandon Ship after it's overrun with Warrior Jinn. It doesn't work very well at the start.
  • The Star Trek Expanded Universe novel The Valiant reveals that this was the fate of the SS Valiant, the first human ship to attempt to cross the Galactic Barrier. Before blowing up the nukes on his ship, Captain Tarasco ordered the evacuation of the crew in escape pods. A good number of them died anyway either from the explosion's shockwave or equipment malfunction, but the others managed to make it to an M-class planet, where they made planetfall. They founded a city called Magnia and discovered that even they were not immune to the effects of the Barrier, although to a lesser extent than the Valiant's chief engineer Geirrod Agnarsson (who was affected just like Gary Mitchell of the later USS Enterprise). Basically, they became a race of telepaths living just beyond the Barrier. Their descendants finally make contact with the Federation shortly before the TNG era to warn of a hostile alien race. The USS Stargazer with a young second officer named Jean-Luc Picard is sent to investigate.
  • In the novel "When the Ship Sank" a ship is torpedoed and sinks slowly but people cannot escape because the entire engine crew has been killed and no one can turn off the engines. It eventually sinks and the survivors spend a horrific night in the water until they are picked up by another ship. The second ship is taking them back to England, where the first ship came from, but is intercepted by another submarine (or maybe even the first one) which opens fire with its deck guns sinking it in minutes. Most of the people on board, including almost all the survivors from the first ship are killed almost instantly.
  • In Joseph Conrad's short story "Youth", the cargo of coal carried by the Judea ignites off the Australian coast, and despite the crew's efforts to extinguish it, and then recruit another ship to tow them to port to improve their chances of getting the fire under control, the fire rages to the point that the crew are forced to give up the idea of saving her and, after rescuing what they can to appease the underwriters, they retreat to a safe distance in the lifeboats to watch her sink below the surface.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • "Babylon Squared" takes place aboard the space station Babylon Four, which had been lost (as in, physically misplaced, as in, a five-mile-long space station just disappeared in a instant for no known explanation) years previously. The station reappears, just long enough for the crew of Babylon Five to effect an evacuation. As the station is about to disappear again, the remaining crew members (and the personnel from Babylon Five who came to retrieve them) make a hasty retreat to cram onto the remaining shuttles.note 
      • The same episode includes a Flash Forward where Babylon Five, in flames, is being evacuated as the security personnel frantically attempt to hold off the unseen attackers to give the civilians time to escape. As a matter of fact, the visual of a lone shuttle escaping the station just before it explodes gets used for a long string of Prophecy Twists. That visual does finally come true. But not the way anyone expects.
    • In "A Voice in the Wilderness, Part 2", the station is at risk of being destroyed by the planet below blowing itself to pieces. Sinclair asks Garibaldi to make sure that Ivanova makes it onto an escape ship, even if Garibaldi has to knock her out and bodily toss her in.
  • Used for Party Scattering in Blake's 7.
    • Season 3 starts with the crew of the Liberator taking to the life capsules after life support is damaged while fighting an alien invasion. By the time Avon makes it back to the ship (which is self-repairing) he finds the Liberator has been seized by Federation soldiers and he spends the next episode getting rid of them. Blake himself (along with Jenna) never make it back to the ship, making Avon the series lead by default.
    • In the final episode, their replacement vessel the Scorpio is attacked and crashlands on a planet. Tarrant pilots the ship down to give the others time to teleport off. This also leads to Party Scattering, and a Tragic Mistake ensues.
    • Our heroes get hold of the Liberator in the first place because it's been abandoned during a space battle.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Waters of Mars", the crew of Bowie Base One make a valiant effort to do this when the base is overrun by people infected with Murder Water. Unfortunately, the pilot of the escape shuttle has to blow it up when he is infected as well, leaving them stranded. Almost.
  • Everyone but Mal leaves Serenity in the Firefly episode "Out of Gas" when an explosion leaves the ship dead. Fortunately, Mal manages to thwart would-be killers who offer a replacement part only to shoot him and the power is restored. Zoe, who was injured in the blast, wakes up and orders the shuttles to turn back and they return just in time to save Mal.
  • An example from the final season of Lost. Many of the remaining characters are on board a submarine, and soon find that the Big Bad has smuggled a bomb on board. It detonates (taking out a major character in a heroic sacrifice), and proceeds to cause the sub to sink. The survivors rush to flee the sinking vessel, with the exception of Sun (who is trapped behind debris) and Jin (who chooses to remain on-board to die with his wife).
  • The NCIS episode "Chimera" has Team Gibbs fly out to a naval research ship to investigate an officer's sudden and mysterious death; by the time they get there, the crew has already abandoned ship out of fear of a deadly pathogen.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Happens in the finale of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Unlike most other examples, a sizable amount of the ship remains, even after the Final Battle takes place in it. Unfortunately, the Big Bad had already set it for a Colony Drop - it's possible there was enough left after impact to be turned into a galactic settlers' colony as intended, but we never get a good look.
    • In the teamup with Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, we see a battle on Mirinoi taking place in an Earthlike city the likes of which had never been seen on the planet before - they lived in huts and Mirinoi native Maya was basically Tarzan as a Power Ranger. We don't get confirmation but apparently even if the Terra Venture will never fly again, the new world has that "shining capital" Commander Stanton wanted. (It was the City Dome that Trakeena had tried to crash on them.)
    • Way back in the first season, Goldar says this in his "This Cannot Be!" declaration as Cyclopsis' system crashes with Ultrazord bearing down on it. Smart move.
  • Happens regularly in Red Dwarf.
    • In "Marooned", the crew are forced to abandon ship because 5 black holes are approaching, it turns out to be grit on the scanner scope.
    • In "Polymorph", they decide to abandon ship when a chameleonic life form attempts to suck out their emotions.
    • In "Demons and Angels", the ship has a major overload after a problem with a matter replicator, once they've escaped the ship it blows up only to leave two copies in its place, a high version and a low version. Once they work out a way to replicate the original, they must then get out of the new "low" Red Dwarf before it disappears.
    • In "Only the Good...", the entire resurrected crew of Red Dwarf abandon ship when a genetically engineered virus begins eating the ship from the inside out.
    • In "Mechocracy", the crew are forced to do this yet again when Lister accidentally lets a computer virus in which has locked the ship on a course with a black hole. Thankfully, the combined powers of all of the machines onboard are able to overpower the virus.
  • Stargate:
    • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Ethon", the Prometheus, Earth's first starship and primary spacecraft for the preceding three seasons, is badly crippled in battle against an Ori satellite superweapon. Lacking the necessary time to repair the ship, Col. Pendergast orders a full evacuation minutes before the ship is destroyed in the next attack.
    • In a Stargate Atlantis episode, Sheppard ends up in the future and is told by a hologram of McKay about the fate of the other main characters. Carter and McKay end up taking a new Daedalus-class battlecruiser and attack Michael's hive ships. However, when Michael sets a trap for Carter, she transports the entire crew to the nearby planet's surface and then rams the battlecruiser into the nearest hive ship, with the resulting explosion taking out the other two hive ships. Naturally, since Sheppard ends up going back in time, this never happens.
  • Just as it happens fairly often in the films, this trope also plays out surprisingly often in the various Star Trek series:
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Doomsday Machine", Commodore Decker ordered his crew to abandon the Constellation after she was crippled by the titular weapon, the twist being that the planet they evacuate to is then destroyed by the planet killer, driving Decker insane.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • "The Battle" shows that Picard was forced to do this with his old ship, the Stargazer, after a battle with the Ferengi.
      • A few episodes later, "11001001", has an interesting variant. A group of aliens have simulated a warp core failure on the Enterprise while it is in spacedock and the ship needs to be evacuated as they don't know it's fake. However, as Riker and Picard are distracted by something in the Holodeck, it falls to the next in command, Data, to make the call to evacuate the ship.
      • The Cold Open of "Cause and Effect" starts with Picard yelling "All hands abandon ship! Repeat, all hands abandon—" just before the Enterprise explodes. We then go through variations of this same scenario several more times.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • The pilot episode "Emissary" actually begins this way, with a prologue showing the starship Saratoga serving as part of a Starfleet task force assembled to stop the Borg at Wolf 359. After the Saratoga is knocked out of the fight by a single hit from the Borg Cube, the rest of the scene is the panicked crew and passengers abandoning the crippled and burning ship, with the main protagonist Benjamin Sisko being forced to leave behind his (already deceased) wife to get his son to safety.
      • The episode "Valiant" ends with this happening to the titular warship after an ill-fated attack on a Dominion warship. Only one Escape Pod escapes with three survivors.
      • In "The Changing Face of Evil", the Defiant itself, along with all but one ship from the allied fleet, gets taken out to demonstrate the Breen as being a credible threat.
    • Star Trek: Voyager has this happen to the titular ship perhaps more than with any of the franchise's other ships:
      • "Dreadnought": Janeway orders the crew to abandon Voyager just before trying to use the ship in a Heroic Sacrifice to stop a superweapon (by ramming) from destroying an innocent planet. Fortunately, it ends up not being necessary.
      • "Year of Hell": In the cliffhanger ending of Part One, everyone minus Janeway and her senior staff is ordered to abandon the severely damaged Voyager.
      • "The Haunting of Deck Twelve": A non-corporeal alien takes control of Voyager, forcing the crew to abandon her until Janeway can reason with the alien.
      • "Workforce": Voyager hits a radiation mine, forcing everyone to leave — except for the Emergency Medical Hologram, who is immune to radiation. It turns out that the mine was laid by Salvage Pirates who are eager to get their hands on the ship. Fortunately, the Emergency Command Hologram can serve as a Crew of One when required.
    • The Star Trek: Enterprise Two-Part Episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" has the Mirror Universe crew abandon Enterprise during a battle, except for Captain Forrest. They continue Part Two in the spacecraft they'd been sent to capture.
    • After the Battle of the Binary Stars in Star Trek: Discovery, the USS Shenzhou is wrecked so badly that the survivors abandon her. The Europa had already been partially evacuated before setting off a warp-core breach to take out the Klingon ship tearing into her.

  • Knife Party's debut album is titled Abandon Ship, reflecting on their stance that the current EDM scene "is irreparably fucked and needs to go away".
  • Less Than Jake has it as the title for one of their songs. The phrase is used to represent how life (the ship) spirals out of control and one must either find something to keep going or leave it because "it's sinking way too quick".

  • In The Mercury Theatre on the Air's Oct. 9, 1938 adaptation of Hell on Ice, the crew of the Jeanette have to abandon ship when it is crushed by the Arctic ice (this was a Real Life story of an Arctic expedition that ended in disaster).
  • Our Miss Brooks: In An American Tragedy, Mr. Conklin, Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton are stranded on a sinking rowboat on Crystal Lake. Subverted as they are unable to abandon ship, as none of them are wearing lifejackets and only Mr. Boynton can swim.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Traveller adventure Action Aboard - Adventures on the King Richard. If there's a problem aboard the title passenger starship, all of the passengers are put onto lifeboats. The lifeboats are cast off and the passengers wait until either (a) the problem is resolved and they can be retrieved or (b) the problem can't be resolved and they're on their own.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, when the carrier Kestrel is hit by an anti-ship missile, the crew abandons ship after launching the player's squadron on one last mission. Captain Andersen evacuates last.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, the plot kicks off when the heroine’s ship is attacked by the titular STORM, throwing her and everyone else into the sea. Later, this nearly happens again when a kraken attacks, but this time the crew is able to bring the ship into port before it sinks.
  • At the end of The Crystal Key, part of the final puzzle is to make Ozgar think it's time to do this, by entering a code that sets off the ship's alarms.
  • In Double Homework, Morgan does this as the yacht comes back to port, so she won't get caught with the jet ski she stole to get to the boat.
  • In Star Wars The Force Unleashed 2 Kota delivers this very line with extreme Narm.
  • Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved begins with this, with the Marines and crew of the Pillar Of Autumn fighting their way to the hangar deck or the life pods so that they might try and escape the ship's imminent destruction. Naturally, the Covenant forces proceed to try to destroy as many of the escape pods and drop ships as possible. Unexpectedly, the Pillar Of Autumn survives and lands intact on Alpha Halo's surface, where it waits until the Remixed Level finale.
    • Halo Infinite begins with a cutscene of the UNSC Infinity getting ambushed by the Banished. During the ensuing battle, Master Chief is thrown into space by Atriox and the crew is forced to evacuate to Zeta Halo; audio logs found throughout the game fill in the gaps of what happened before, during, and after the evacuation. The first mission sees Master Chief give the Banished a taste of their own medicine, sabotaging the engines of the Ghost of Gbraakon and forcing the Banished to ditch that vessel.
  • Happens in the Revenge of Meta Knight game mode of Kirby Super Star. The player gets to listen to the Enemy Chatter, which by the end does start getting a little desperate, but they decide to try one last fight against Kirby in Meta Knight's behalf before evacuating. Except for the Captain; he splits once Kirby takes out the Halberd's reactor.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic begins this way as well. Given how the first film started, this seems to be a theme.
  • Mario Party 2: This is played straight in a mini-game of the same name. The characters have to climb to the top of a mast while the ship is sinking. Whoever reaches the top first wins, but if nobody manages to do so (i.e. they end up falling into the water) then the minigame ends in a draw.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2 begins with the heroes being forced to abandon The Normandy before her destruction. Joker insists that he can avoid total destruction, but is convinced to leave by Shepard at the last minute. He makes it out, but Shepard dies. To add insult to injury, the very next mission has Shepard having to abandon ship again, this time from a space station that is under attack. Worth noting, Mass Effect is produced by BioWare, the same company that produced Knights of the Old Republic, and this mission feels a bit like an homage to that game's first mission.
    • Mass Effect 3:
      • In a bit of Sequel Escalation, begins with the heroes being forced to abandon Earth in the face of an overwhelming attack.
      • In Mass Effect 3: Omega, Aria's plan to attack the eponymous station involves sneaking very close to it in a captured Cerberus warship and then wreaking havoc on the defenders. When the stations' defense grid proves too powerful, her backup plan is to evacuate the ship, re-using the escape pods as boarding pods to continue the attack.
  • The level "Crew Expendable" in Modern Warfare 1 takes place on a cargo ship. Naturally, by the end of the level you're frantically running for your chopper before the ship sinks.
  • Morpheus: The luxury yacht, Herculania ended up as this when Jan rebelled against his father, JC Pharris by hijacking the ship's helm and imprisoning the passengers inside a mysterious machine. As a result, the crew took a pair of lifeboats, and JC set out in search of help when Herculania reached Northern Greenland. By the time the game takes place, the ship, while surrounded by ice, survived completely intact, albeit haunted by ghosts of the people who inhabited it.
  • In StarCraft II, the Terran Battlecruiser utters this when he is attacked.
  • When a ship is destroyed in Space Pirates and Zombies, it will eject all of its remaining crew before blowing up. Other ships in the field can pick them up and add them to their own crew... or toss the uncooperative ones right back out.
  • Subnautica begins with this, as the entire reason the player character is stranded on an alien world is that the spaceship he's been travelling on, Aurora, suffered catastrophic damage, forcing people to evacuate in the escape pods. Unfortunately, his is the only pod that survives the crash.
  • Referenced in Bowser Jr.'s up special in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, which is named after this trope and features Junior being launched out of his Junior Clown Car, which then explodes after a few seconds.

  • Outsider:
    • In the prologue, after Jardin and Ellen report in about Bellarmine being crippled, their superior in the damage control team decides to give an abandon ship order. However, this is for naught when the next strike blows up Bellarmine's aft section, throwing Jardin out into space and killing the rest of the crew.
    • Near the end of chapter 1, one of the captains in the Loroi strike group asks the overall commander for permission to give an abandon ship order for a vessel in her division that's dead in space from battle damage; the request is granted.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Exo Squad: The loss of The Exo Carrier Resolute, and with it, Captain Marcus.
  • Futurama:
    • "A Flight to Remember": The crew and passengers of the Titanic frantically flee to the escape pods when the ship is captured by a black hole.
    • "Parasites Lost": Bender attempts to get everyone to do this, uttering the phrase a few times and having to be restrained. Also, the miniature ship does wind up abandoned after the end of the journey.
  • Kaeloo: In a pirate-themed role playing episode, Mr. Cat and Pretty are on a ship, and Eugly is a giant kraken. Eugly raises a fist to sink the ship. Mr. Cat, who hates Pretty, refuses to abandon the ship initially when she asks him to... but bails at the last second and jumps off, leaving Pretty on board.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "No Small Parts", Mariner (temporarily in command while Freeman is in Sickbay) orders the crew to the Escape Pods when three more Pakled ships warp in and start trying to tear the ship apart. Luckily, the Titan comes to the rescue moments later, invalidating the need.


Video Example(s):


USS Indianapolis sinks

A mere 8 minutes following a devastating torpedo attack by Japanese submarine I-58, Captain McVay of the USS Indianapolis gives the order to abandon ship, just as the ship itself begins to plunge into the water.

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Example of:

Main / AbandonShip

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