Follow TV Tropes


Bold Explorer

Go To
Columbus "discovers" the New World, much to the surprise of those already living there.

"Something hidden. Go and find it.
Go and look behind the Ranges —
Something lost behind the Ranges.
Lost and waiting for you. Go!"
— "The Explorer", Rudyard Kipling

The urge to explore is as old as Mankind, and in every generation, there are those who feel compelled to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before...and maybe stick your flag in new terrain. It's easy to dream, but unknown lands can be dangerous, so only the boldest are willing to live that dream. Tales of these bold explorers are a favorite topic for fiction.

Before history even began, bold explorers (and the settlers who follow them) had reached almost every habitable land on the planet. Our oldest surviving tale, The Epic of Gilgamesh features the bold explorations of Gilgamesh the King, making this Older Than Dirt. In the Age of Exploration, starting in the early Renaissance, Marco Polo (re-)discovered China, Columbus (re-)discovered America, and Magellan found a way to circumnavigate the globe.

Though most of the world is considered explored today, the rest of the universe still beckons, and this is a common trope in both Historical Fiction and Science Fiction. This trope was extremely common in early Interplanetary Voyage stories—some of which actually date back to the above-mentioned Age of Exploration.

Only the bold need apply. Those who, through no fault of their own, are kidnapped to or ship-wrecked on new lands, or who are merely bad navigators, do not qualify, though their subsequent actions may prove them to be examples.

Note that this is such an ancient trope and so very much a case of Truth in Television that there is little to be gained from mentioning Real Life examples, as most people can probably think of dozens. A Historical Domain Character can go under the proper medium.

May overlap with other tropes such as The Pioneer, who is specifically looking for a new home, though it's more usual for pioneers to follow the explorers. Intrepid Merchant is another one that frequently goes hand-in-hand with this one, as new locations often mean exotic goods and new, untapped markets for old products. Sometimes a state-sponsored version of this would be either an Ambadassador or engaged in Cloak and Dagger, likely both. Compare Gentleman Adventurer and Adventurer Archaeologist. The darker side of this often overlaps with Evil Colonialist.

Do not confuse with Boldly Coming, which is more about discovering if alien species are compatible with humans.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Adventures of Christopher Columbus is about Christopher Columbus' first voyage to find a trade route to the Indies westwards and portrays him as bold (there's the addition of an evil aristocrat who wants to maintain an obscurantist status quo and slanders Columbus at the court, wanting everyone to believe he's crazy) and even heroic (yeah).
  • Attack on Titan: Eren dreams of joining the Survey Corps because they venture outside of Wall Maria, the outermost Wall, and attempt to map it out or study the Titans. However, they have a high casualty rate as evidenced by the few returning members in the first episode, most of whom are injured. One of the bits of trivia given during the Eye Catch in Episode 2 mentions that the territory outside of Wall Maria is unknown due to it being lands infested by Titans.
  • Mendoza in The Mysterious Cities of Gold is a charismatic explorer who claims to be the one who brought Esteban to Spain as a child, and now wants him to return and use the power of the locket to help find the titular cities.
  • One Piece: Played for laughs for Kozuki Oden of the Wano Country. Since in his younger days, Oden always felt suffocated by the fact he had to remain in the land of Wano, wished to leave and explore the rest of the world. He famously tried to unsuccessfully multiple times to flee on a boat, despite doing so being illegal, until he got his wish by secretly sneaking on the Moby Dick. After joining the Whitebeard Pirates, Oden explores multiple islands around the entire world, often putting himself in danger because of how excited he is, despite the warnings of his mates. Oden writes his adventures in a journey log, where he comments how he knew very little of the world and that meeting this many different people and cultures made him feel small. He then joins the Roger Pirates, with whom he reaches the Sky Islands and, more importantly, Laugh Tale, the island where Roger's treasure is located.
  • In Vinland Saga, Leif the Lucky is the man who found Vinland, though he's now old and retired.
  • Allen's Disappeared Dad was an explorer in The Vision of Escaflowne. In fact, his frequent absences and the fact that he never returned from one of his voyages are the source of Allen's massive Daddy Issues.
  • A part of the background in Macross: after the near destruction of Earth and humanity at the hands of the Zentraedi in the original series, humanity started sending out colony fleets to explore space and settle new places so that even if Earth is destroyed humanity will survive... And given that in space there's still hundreds and possibly thousands of Zentraedi Main Fleets (indeed, the one that attacked Earth was identified as the 118th), each counting almost five millions of warships plus a flagship the size of Japan, their equally trigger-happy enemies, the embittered hostile survivors of the original fleet, and other things just as dangerous, the colonists still as this trope count even as part of large and heavily armed fleets.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Omenseekers of Kaldheim spend most of their time sailing through the seas of Bretagard in a neverending quest to explore and discover, and put a great deal of effort in searching for ways to travel into and explore the other realms as well.

    Comic Books 
  • Congo Bill was a British adventurer and explorer who eventually swapped minds with a gorilla via magic ring, becoming the superhero Congorilla.
  • In Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, one of Diana's few redeeming qualities pre-character development is her passion for exploration, as she explores the island, vanquishes monsters, and reclaims magical treasures.

    Comic Strips 
  • Spaceman Spiff, one of Calvin's alter-egos in Calvin and Hobbes, is a bold interstellar explorer, who constantly gets captured by bizarre alien life forms (usually Calvin's parents or his teacher).

    Fan Works 
  • Don't Keep Your Distance: The entire point. Paint the Seedrian-Fox has long romanticized herself and her best friend Arrowhead the Toad as Bold Explorers, but learning of her father's existence for the first time takes them (plus three of their other friends) on a real-life quest across the entire world.
  • Queens of Mewni:
    • Cosmica the Explorer, fittingly enough, who spent much of her reign mapping the multiple dimensions that made up the universe after winning dimensional scissors from Hekapoo.
    • Her daughter, Polaria the Navigator, would map Mewni's oceans, islands, and coastal kingdoms.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Magic Voyage: The heavily fictionalized account of how Christopher Columbus boldly set off to prove that the world is round.
  • Moana: Entirely revolves around this trope, as it tells of the Polynesian culture's proud history of being masterful explorers of the Pacific Ocean. Interestingly, Polynesian history had a period of time (between 1000 and 2000 years) when their explorations stopped (known in academia as the "long pause"). The story of Moana is a fanciful, mythological "explanation" for the "long pause" and by the end of the film, Moana leads her people back toward their grand heritage of voyaging and wayfinding.
  • Pocahontas: John Smith's explorations of the new Virginia Territory are how he met Pocahontas in the first place. During the song "Mine, Mine, Mine", he sings of how he's never seen a wilder, more challenging land than Virginia and how he doesn't plan to miss any of its dangers.
  • Wallace & Gromit: In the short film, A Grand Day Out, Wallace & Gromit are off to explore the moon, which turns out to be made of green cheese.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Dave Bowman, Frank Poole, and the deceased crew of the Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey, who are on an expedition to explore strange findings near Jupiter.
  • Aguirre, the Wrath of God takes this trope to the point of insanity, as Lope de Aguirre explores South America in search of a City of Gold, ignoring death and deprivation among his men along the way.
  • Parodied in Almost Heroes, where Hunt and Edwards want to beat Lewis and Clark, and be the first to chart a way across America to the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, neither one is particularly bold.
  • Carry On Columbus turned the bold exploits of explorer Christopher Columbus into a silly sex farce.
  • The enthusiastic General Thayer and, to a lesser extent, Dr. Cargraves and Jim Barnes, in the classic SF film Destination Moon.
  • The aptly named Explorers features a trio of kids who manage to build a spaceship, and then boldly set off to hunt for aliens.
  • Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, the bold Captain Kirk Expy from the titular Show Within a Show in Galaxy Quest.
  • The recon team sent through to explore the worlds on the other side of the Stargate in Stargate.
  • La Vallée (a film mainly remembered because Pink Floyd provided the soundtrack) features a bunch of hippies, joined by the wife of the French consul, exploring uncharted regions of New Guinea—one of the very last unexplored places on the planet—seeking the truth about a mysterious valley marked on maps as "obscured by clouds".
  • In Fritz Lang's 1929 silent film Woman in the Moon, Helius and Professor Mannfeldt plan and lead an expedition to the moon.

  • In Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise, the titular character was the first of these, although his primary profession is that of a space trader. This doesn't stop him from, occasionally, traveling to unexplored systems to scout it for potential habitable worlds. He can then sell this information on a heavily-populated planet, so it can start building a colony ship. It's not stated if he ever actually lands on any of the virgin worlds, but even traveling to an unexplored system is rife with a degree of danger, as there is always a chance that his ship's relativistic drive can deposit him inside another object or in a dangerous gravity well. His first journey with the drive was in the 21st century as a NASA test pilot, who successfully tests the drive on a trip to the moon Triton and is then sent to Alpha Centauri, where he discovers a habitable planet, which he names Penelope after his daughter. He then goes on a century-long trek and discovers several more planets before heading home. He also relays to his wife a story of a space trader couple who track a signal from another space trader to an uninhabited planet he discovered. They find his ship in orbit and his shuttle on the ground, but no sight of him. Assuming he died, they take his ship and plan to take it to the nearest industrial colony to sell. However, the wife has other plans and absconds with her new ship. When she doesn't appear at their destination, the husband is horrified and assumes she may have died, only discovering the truth years later.
  • Tully the human from the Chanur Novels was a bold explorer who got lost in Compact space, captured by the Kif, and rescued by the Chanur clan.
  • Children of Mother Earth has some point-of-view characters who view themselves as this, but as they rediscover Greenland, which is already inhabited, the inhabitants (whose point of view is also told) are not happy about being "discovered" by a country that plans to invade theirs.
  • Quetza in El Conquistador. He is an explorer so bold and clever that he even discovers Europe several years before Colombus even ships. He even recognizes that he isn't where he expected to be, and recognizes the threat that the Europeans impose on his people and culture.
  • In Coyote, Carlos Montero sets off to explore the new world of Coyote while the rest of the colonists are still settling in and trying to learn the local dangers.
  • The Discworld frequently and savagely parodies this trope, describing explorers as arrogant, nosy, foreigner-hating busybodies who try to communicate with natives by talking to them slowly and loudly. In fact, Lord Vetinari convinced the Ankh-Morpork Explorers' Society to change its name to the Trespassers' Society on the grounds that they could hardly be "discovering" territories already settled by people.
    • One stellar example mentioned in The Discworld Mapp is the ambitious but incompetent Sir Roderick Purdeigh, who on one voyage tried to circumnavigate the Disc but wound up going around the Circle Sea for six months.
    • Another famous Tresspasser, first mentioned in Witches Abroad, is Guy de Yoyo, noted for naming his "discoveries" after himself (Lake Yoyo, River Yoyo, Yoyo Falls, etc.) without troubling about whether the locals might already call them something.
    • Ponce de Quirm in Eric is a slightly more sympathetic example, although Rincerwind feels that spending your entire life searching for the Fountian of Youth is kind of missing the point.
  • In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh explored many new lands, defeating monsters and bringing home their treasures. Any actual Trope Maker is probably lost to history, so this is likely as close as we'll ever get.
  • In The First Men in the Moon, when James Cavor discovers a material that blocks gravity, he quickly decides to set off and explore the moon.
  • From the Earth to the Moon has Michael Ardan, who persuades the Gun Club to build a hollow shell that can carry him (and some others) to the moon.
  • Heechee Saga: Most of the inhabitants of Gateway Asteroid, in Gateway, were this, although some were there out of pure desperation. Still, it takes more than a little chutzpah to climb into an ancient alien craft, set the controls at random, and push go. Especially when you have no idea how long the voyage will take, and thus how much food and water you should bring.
  • In Labyrinths of Echo, Sir Manga Melifaro has not only traveled every continent of the known world but also wrote a Great Big Book of Everything afterwards (in eight volumes).
  • In The Lost World (1912), Professor Challenger is a man of science who has no hesitation to set off and explore a mysterious plateau in the Amazon.
  • In Mission of Gravity, the small centipede-like creature named Barlennan on the planet Mesklin is a bold explorer, which is what brings him to the one area of the planet where humans can visit even briefly.
  • In Noob, Törk mapped the shape of the Continent Without Return, which is protected by a Perpetual Storm.
  • The Outbound Flight duology concerns an attempt by the Galactic Republic to mount an extragalactic expedition. Due in large part to the arrogance of the expedition's Jedi commander (though diplomatic sabotage by Darth Sidious was also involved), this expedition runs badly afoul of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force and is destroyed by Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo.
  • In the prologue to Pandora's Star, Earth sends a manned spaceship to Mars whose crew is extremely irritated to discover that, while they were hoofing it, a couple of garage tinkerers in Los Angeles discovered how to create stable wormholes and beat them there. Fast forward five hundred years or so, and the normally wormhole-dependent Commonwealth builds an FTL-capable exploration starship named the Another Chance, captained by the leader of the Mars expedition. (Immortality therapy was involved.)
  • A somewhat fictionalized (but reasonably realistic) Christopher Columbus in Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus.
  • In Poul Anderson's Polesotechnic League stories, David Falkayn is an aristocrat who would rather be out exploring new worlds than sitting in comfort on his home planet.
  • In the Priscilla Hutchins series, Hutch herself is a borderline case, but a more clear-cut example is George Hockleman, a rich entrepreneur in Chindi who hires an Academy ship, and the use of Hutch, to go chasing alien interstellar radio signals in the hope of making First Contact.
  • In the Red Mars Trilogy, John Boone becomes a worldwide hero after leading the first expedition to Mars.
  • Subverted in Robert Sheckley's short story, "The Minimum Man". The Planetary Expedition and Settlement Board has tried using the classic bold explorer type to discover new worlds, but these bold types aren't timid enough and tend to overlook obvious dangers that make newly discovered worlds unsuitable for colonization, so now they're going the opposite way, and choose the accident-prone suicide-risk hapless nebbish Anton Perceveral to form a new breed of explorers. Double subversion: hardships turn Anton into the classic bold explorer anyway. This isn't uncommon in the Board experience, and the mission still counts as success, but Anton is disqualified from further exploring.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: There's something of a history of adventurers and visionaries sailing off from Westeros to explore distant lands. These fall mostly into two groups: some head off east, following the coasts of Essos, while others head west into the Sunset Sea that marks the edge of the known world. The former group return with tales of distant lands and strange peoples; the latter never return at all.
    • King Brandon "the Shipwright" Stark was an ancient King in the North who loved seafaring, built a great fleet, and attempted to sail across the Sunset Sea. He vanished and never returned home, driving his son, Brandon the Burner, to torch his entire fleet in grief.
    • Tommen II Lannister led an expedition into the ruins of Valyria in the century after its Doom, intending to explore its ruins and plunder its wealth and sorcery. He never returned. In more recent times, his descendant Gerion, one of Tywin's younger brothers, mounted a second expedition to search for his ancestor's remains and the family's ancestral sword, which had been lost with him, but also vanished once he reached the haunted ruins of Valyria.
    • Alisse Fairman led an expedition of three ships to the Sunset Sea, seeking to circumnavigate the world and discover new lands. Her only confirmed discovery was a trio of small islands, reached after losing a ship to either storms or a kraken. The other crew chose to return home, while she set off to continue sailing further west and was never heard from again.
    • Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake, was an avid explorer. In his first journey, he sailed to Yi Ti and Leng in the distant east, returning with a treasure of jade, spice, and silk. His second trip took him to Asshai-by-the-Shadow, the easternmost land known, where he claimed to have seen Alisse Fairman's ship at port. Later trips took him along Essos' norther coast and into the frozen norther seas in an attempt to discover a sea passage around the crown of Westeros. In total, he made nine great voyages, which were so famous Maester Mathis wrote a book entitled The Nine Voyages about them.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The planet Corellia was the first human civilization to get their hands on hyperdrive, which triggered a wave of bold explorers—the first humans to scout out much of the galaxy.
    • Senior Anthropologist Hoole is well known for taking incredible risks in order to document obscure worlds and isolated peoples, starting from his first appearance in The Illustrated Star Wars Universe in which he survived just about everything Tatooine threw at him (short of the Sarlacc). This tendency continues in Galaxy of Fear, in which he journeys from a living planet to the uncharted swamps of Dagobah without batting an eyelid at the things he sees and documents.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Eshonai, the Parshendi general and their last Shardbearer, was once just a girl who wanted to see the world. Her maps and stories inspired her people, and soon the Parshendi were roaming the entirety of the Unclaimed Hills. One of these parties stumbled upon the Alethi king, out on a hunting expedition, which connected the Parshendi to the outside world again. Eventually, this resulted in the Parshendi assassinating the Alethi king, fleeing to the Shattered Plains, and fighting a long, losing war of attrition. Though Eshonai couldn't possibly have seen any of that coming, she still blames herself.
  • The Travels of Marco Polo is a biographical (and somewhat confused) recounting of the Italian explorer's 13th-century expedition to the Middle East and China. It was a blockbuster hit in its time.
  • Tunnel in the Sky: Subverted. The creator of the portal network saw a jungle through his portal, picked up a gun, and stepped through into what he thought was the Jurassic. And was then arrested by the local Brazilian police for carrying a gun in a park.
  • Jack Vance's Ports of Call features Myron Tany, a wannabe bold explorer who lucks out when his great-aunt, Dame Hester, receives a spaceship as part of a legal judgement and reluctantly agrees to let him use it. Unfortunately for Myron, Dame Hester insists on coming along.
  • The Vinland Sagas tell how Leif Ericson's explorations led him to become the first European known to have set foot on North America. (The popular theory that Leif's father, Erik the Red, discovered Greenland, however, is not supported by the sagas, nor by any other historical evidence.)
    • According to one saga North America was discovered by one Bjarni Herjolfsson who just wanted to visit his parents in Greenland. Every time he sighted land he quickly established it wasn't Greenland and sailed on. So not much of a Bold Explorer but one heck of a devoted son.
  • Voyage dans la Lune (1657) by the Real Life Cyrano de Bergerac, casts Cyrano himself as the first explorer to the moon. Although there were earlier stories of people visiting the moon, the use of a non-magical method of transportation (fireworks) has led some to classify this as one of the very first works of true Science Fiction.
  • Most of the crew of the Space Beagle in The Voyage of the Space Beagle, especially Director Morton, the head of the expedition. (The protagonist, Elliot Grosvenor, is along as more of a troubleshooter.)
  • Alex Lukeman (as Alex Dain) wrote Bane of Kanthos in 1969. It's the story of Robert Lansing (no, not that Robert Lansing), who's been an independently wealthy Bold Explorer from an early age. When we meet him he's running for his life to escape a band of irate Jivaro Indians. With his pet parrot Quito he discovers a pyramid temple with unusual levels and configurations, and a dark zone from which he can smell fresh sea air. Quito flies through and Lansing follows, and they are hurled through time and space to an alternative reality filled with Vikings, swords, wizards, and adventure. He becomes known as Rocar the Snake-killer, vanquishes a terrible enemy and the Warrior Princess falls in love with him. Then he's bitten by a spider and goes into a coma. The End. It's clear Dain meant it to go on, but his other projects probably got in the way. Apparently enough people have complained that in 2015, Dain not only put out a revised edition but is preparing sequels, to be called The Chronicles of the Gates. We will finally find out what happened to Rocar.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Blackadder episode "Potato", the bold explorer Sir Walter Raleigh returns in triumph to England, which makes Blackadder jealous, so when Sir Walter says that even he wouldn't attempt to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, Blackadder tells the court that he's going to do just that. Of course, Blackadder isn't actually bold; his plan is to sail to France and hide out, then return and claim to have sailed around the Cape. Unfortunately, the ship captain he picked for his expedition isn't capable of making it even as far as France.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Waters of Mars", Captain Adelaide Brooke is the commanding officer of the first human outpost on Mars. The Doctor tells her that her granddaughter is destined to follow in her footsteps by piloting the first human ship to Alpha Centauri.
  • The Orville sets itself up as a comedic parody of Star Trek, but makes a point of keeping the wonder of exploration a central theme.
    Captain Mercer: In the vast emptiness of the Universe, we have found a fullness of cultural diversity.
    And when a First Contact unfolds, the Cosmos becomes a living, breathing, organism.
    And we become a way for the Universe to know itself.
  • Professor Challenger from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. The rest of the team sort of become this default once they are in the Lost World.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the whole purpose of the team was to go through the Stargate and see what they could find on the other side.
  • Most versions of Star Trek have revolved around this. Captain Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series, Captain Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise, and Captain Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds are classic examples. Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation is a more subdued version, but his second-in-command, Commander Riker is a classic version; they both count. In Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Janeway was possibly more focused on finding her way home, but still took her mission of exploration seriously.

  • Patti Smith's song "Amerigo", on her 2012 album Banga, is based on Amerigo Vespucci's, letter about his first voyage to the New World in 1497. As in his real letter, the explorers bring priests who baptize the indigenous people, and the newcomers realize that the Indian people are wiser than themselves; but now Patti's vision of history takes flight; the journey puts the travelers in an altered state, and they end up Going Native, feeling as Patti says "it was so pure and beautiful that they themselves were transformed."
    And the sky opened
    And we laid down our armour
    And we danced, naked as they
    Baptized in the rain
    Of the New World.

  • Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Explorer" is basically an analysis of this trope.

    Puppet Shows 

  • The Book of Mormon:
    • Hagoth is described as "exceedingly curious", building and launching a number of large ships into the Pacific Ocean. Their original aim was to carry people and supplies to the land northward, and in some cases they succeed, but several of them disappear.note 
    • Nephi also sees Christopher Columbus in a vision, and asserts that God had a hand in him choosing to set out and discover the Americas.

  • Sebastian from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues is too young to explore the world, but still has a great sense of adventure that he satiates by going hiking and exploring.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The aptly named Explorer's Corp, a division of ComStar, specialized in exploring the uncharted regions of the Deep Periphery, well beyond the borders of the Inner Sphere. Until the day that an Explorer's Corp ship jumped into Clanspace and was captured by the Clans, setting off the events that led to the Clans invading the Inner Sphere and everything that happened after that.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Deep dragons live for exploration and the thrill of discovery, and specifically in exploring the winding caves of the Underdark. While they rarely venture to the surface world, they greatly enjoy following distant, unmapped tunnels leading ever deeper into the earth, and discovering unknown treasures and sites of natural wonder never seen by mortal eyes.
  • Mage: The Ascension includes the Void Engineers, who are an entire scientific convention focused on this. In their past (when they were the Seekers of the Void), they were the ones responsible for exploring unknown lands. Although some elements of that still remain (usually focused on undersea exploration or other areas difficult to reach), the modern version is mostly focused on space exploration.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Cloud dragons are avid explorers, spending large parts of their lives journeying in search of new lands, new sights, new people, and new treasures. Many cross planar boundaries in this process and most of the ones in the Material Plane came there in search of new vistas or treasures their native Plane of Air doesn't hold.
    • The Taotake are a nomadic seafaring people who place an immense degree of value on discovery and exploration. They're not considered truly adult until they discover and name something that no Taotake did before, and sail across every sea in Golarion as they explore and map out every corner of the world.
  • Rocket Age: A ton of these exist across the Solar System. The International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation has field agents all over Mars, the Roosevelt Station Exploration Society is an entire club of explorers on Venus and the Lizard Monkey Second Hatching is a religious order who go on exploration pilgrimages. All this is before we get to the independent explorers and smaller expeditions.
  • Space 1889: Several adventures are about exploration or about saving a lost exploration party. An explorer would be a perfectly suitable player character concept and it is also a career available in character generation.
  • In Traveller, the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service is an agency of Bold Explorers. They have other duties as well due to mission creep. They do scientific research, occasional police duties, intelligence work, Imperial courier service, and special ops in wartime. They are kind of like a cross between Nasa, the Indian Political Service, and in some ways the Coast Guard. The exploration side of their job is dying down in the Gurps default time of Emperor Strephon's reign, simply because most of the unexplored territory is on the other side of rival empires. While expeditions still go out from time to time, most of their work is tidying up backwater planets. Other governments, corporations, and private citizens have been exploring for thousands of years and continue to do so.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The background for the series contains this a lot. In the "present" of the setting, it mostly consists of the Mechanicus searching for lost technology. Given the setting, their explorators have to be considered pretty bold even when they're part of a large fleet. Rogue Traders also do plenty of exploring in the effort to open up new markets. In fact, the first edition of Warhammer 40K was titled "Rogue Trader" and explicitly described them as fitting this trope.
    • The Tau, as the youngest major species in the setting, must have a lot of these, although it's only the wars after they've "discovered" a populated planet that get much attention.
    • Orks also fit the trope nicely, with their habit of launching themselves randomly into space in the hopes of finding new planets to conquer and new people to fight.

    Theme Parks 
  • At Universal's Islands of Adventure:
    • Poseidon's Fury has the "World Discovery Group", an organization that's exploring the Temple of Poseidon in order to extract as much information and artifacts out of it as they can.
    • In Skull Island: Reign of Kong, there's the Eighth Wonder Expedition Company, which was formed for the purpose of exploring Skull Island and studying its inhabitants.

    Video Games 
  • In Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle, much of the plot consists of following the trail of Buckleberry Tanner, a famous explorer. He was more interested in discovery than profiting from it, giving up a comfortable post as governor to go out exploring again.
  • Civilization series:
    • Most installments have at least one unit that's ideal for exploring the far-flung reaches of the map quickly and efficiently, usually called something like the Scout or the Explorer. They also often have better chances of getting beneficial outcomes from the "goody huts" that dot the map as well.
    • From the first introduction in IV and continuing through V and VI, Portugal's bonuses is geared towards exploring the map to find new markets to profit from. João III in VI in particular gives his units extra sight range and loves to explore the map while also approving of other leaders who do the same.
    João III: (agenda-based approval) Ah, yes. You and I both know the sweet melancholy of the sea.
  • Diablo III: Many of the in-game notes are provided by Abd al-Hazir, a Caldeum scholar who traveled across Sanctuary, making notes and descriptions of the things he saw, which prove beneficial to other travelers following after him.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series' backstory, Topal the Pilot was a famous one. An Aldmeri explorer and poet, he was the first to discover and explore Tamriel during the Merethic Era, encountering primitive versions of the Khajiit and Argonians, as well as a now-extinct race of bird people. His story was compiled into an epic known as Father of the Niben, but most of it was lost over the centuries.
  • Elite Dangerous allows you to become one by going to uncharted star systems in the Milky Way and then selling the information you got for a profit, and ranks you according to how much of a profit you've made (and how many systems you've visited) accordingly; the lowest rank being Aimless, and the highest rank being Elite.
  • The Europa Universalis games have Conquistadors and Explorers, leaders who specialize in exploring unexplored patches of land and sea respectively. Below a certain military tech level, forces led by them are the only units capable of revealing provinces and sea zones fogged as "Terra Incognita".
  • In I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, Melatonin and Utopia are two of the top surveyors of Vertumna. They traverse the dangerous areas of the alien planet to survey the land and guide other colonists in exploring them.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • Pikango travelled across much of Hyrule during his youth, so he's familiar with most of the continent's major regions and landmarks. Old age has done little to slow him down, as he continues to search for new vistas for his paintings.
    • You can also find the travelling merchant, Beedle, in each region too. He'll usually be near one of the horse stables, which are more like frontier settlements, but you'll occasionally see him on the road instead.
  • Mass Effect is rife with these, though they seem to almost always end badly, with most of the history of violence in the setting caused by them.
    • The Rachni Wars were unintentionally started by one of these, when a salarian explorer opened a mass relay leading to the rachni worlds in which he was captured and his ship was reverse-engineered. This led to the salarians uplifting the krogan to stop the rachni, which led to the krogan rebellions and the genophage.
    • In response to the above disaster, the Citadel made it illegal to open uncharted mass relays. This led to the First Contact War when a group of human explorers ran afoul of a turian patrol that didn't bother to explain why opening mass relays willy-nilly was a bad idea.
    • In the games proper, two separate sidequests in Mass Effect 2 involve the discovery of a wrecked exploration vessel.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda features the heroes as this. Though things generally go somewhat badly for them as well. You'll spend a lot of time wading through enemies who got there first and make new allies (who also got there first). But with a bit of determination and a lot of explosions you can carve out a new place for your fellow travellers.
  • This is the big draw of No Man's Sky: Almost everything in the game is unexplored, meaning that players essentially become these when they first start up the game.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: In Lost City, the zombies are these, attempting to explore and invade the plants' Mayincatec City of Gold. These include shovel-wielding excavators, Imps carrying Clown-Car Base tents, and Indiana Jones-esque relic hunters.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers has the famous explorer Dusknoir who provides some necessary exposition, and the ill-fated legendary explorer Scizor who you can rescue.
  • The Bread and Butter of Renowned Explorers. With a team of three explorers, it's the player's goal to discover as much as possible within a certain time frame to become the world's most renowned explorers.
  • In Rimworld, choosing the "Rich Explorer" starting scenario gives you a single colonist, stated to be a wealthy glitterworld citizen who got fed up with the boredom of VR simulations and dealing with people and so decided to pack up some essentials and head off alone to a rimworld planet to settle the frontier. The Rich Explorer is more well-equipped than the crash survivors from the default scenario - they start with a Charge Rifle (one of the best personal weapons available) and the technology for basic gun turrets already unlocked, but they are alone, which limits how much work can be done early on.
  • Skies of Arcadia: Vyse Dyne. Much of the game centers on his quest to explore all the lands of Arcadia, which is recorded in his journal entries. There's even a massive sidequest to find all 88 hidden discoveries. Vyse also lampshades it, near the beginning of the game, while he, Aika, and Fina are watching the sunset on Pirate Isle:
    Vyse: (wistfully) "I want to see what's out there... to see what lies beyond the sunset."
    • The game is set in a fantasy analogue to the Age of Exploration, with plenty of rival explorers to get first dibs on finding Discoveries if you're too slow, and the requisite empire even being a stand-in for the real-life Spanish Empire during their expansionist heyday.
  • Much of the early game for players in Stellaris revolves around science ships checking out unexplored systems and scanning them for potential resources to exploit, anomalies to research, and potential new species and empires to discover. This exploration is not without danger to those ships, as they can stumble upon hostile entities if they go in blind. Those with the Eager Explorers civic Exaggerate the trope as they start the game with a modified warp drive technology (normally only available in the mid-game at the earliest) that allows them to ignore the usual Portal Network system for interstellar travel, an extra science ship and scienist to man it, and bonuses to certain research at the cost of not starting with some technologies normal empires have like research labs or space corvettes (the most basic spaceship that can attack other units in space) as well as a lower starting population (the idea being that this empire is so eager to explore the stars they skipped ahead in the tech tree before their home planet's economy had had a chance to develop).
  • The protagonists of the Uncharted Waters series can be played as such, particularly the playable characters of the Explorer background in the second game, Uncharted Waters: New Horizons. Ernst is the best example since his overarching quest is to explore and map the entire globe. Pietro and Joao also do a fair bit of exploring, but the former is mainly after hidden treasures, while the latter's storyline involves an equal amount of naval battles.
  • In World of Warcraft:
    • Brann Bronzebeard and later Harrison Jones are seen exploring newly opened lands.
    • One of the scrolls in Pandaria tells the legend of a Liu Lang, a young Pandaren who set out to explore the world beyond the mist riding on the back of a turtle. That turtle ended up growing into the Wandering Isle that the player Pandaren come from. It still returns to Pandaria every so often to pick up any like-minded Pandaran that finds life on Pandaria to not be for them.
  • In the backstory of the X-Universe series, the crew of the twelve-man starship Winterblossom set forth in 2045 AD to explore the newly discovered jumpgate network and find habitable worlds for colonies.

  • The main cast of Stand Still, Stay Silent consists of people who explore the Forbidden Zone that is the Silent World. Given what lives there, one has to be pretty bold indeed (although Emil may be stretching that definition).

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Hilda is the blue-haired girl who's insatiably adventurous. Unfortunately for her, she has to move from the wilderness to the city, but nevertheless seeks out adventure and mystery wherever she can.
  • The Peabody's Improbable History segments of Rocky and Bullwinkle featured visits to see many bold explorers, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Marco Polo, Juan Ponce de Leon, Balboa, Columbus, and Magellan. Many of them turned out to be not-so-bold in person and needed a kick in the pants from Peabody and Sherman.
  • The Simpsons: The episode "Margical History Tour" features Lenny and Carl as Lewis and Clark, exploring the American Northwest, and Lisa as Sacagawea, the native woman who helped them — or, in this case, tried to help them, but gets frustrated by their stupidity.
  • Commander McBragg of The World of Commander McBragg, a regular segment of Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, was a now-retired bold explorer who had visited some of the most remote and dangerous parts of the world—at least to hear him tell it.
  • The Deep (2015) is about the Nektons: a Badass Family is dedicated to exploring the mysteries of the world's oceans. And the Nektons have been doing this for generations.
  • Elinor Wonders Why: The TV movie A Wonderful Journey introduces a coati inventor named Beatriz, who loves exploring around the world and getting ideas for her inventions from nature.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: Subverted with the support ship USS Cerritos, which comes in after ships like Enterprise have done all the initial bold exploring. Their job is to do all the Boring Yet Practical work of integrating new worlds into The Federation.
    Ensign Boimler: Our specialty is Second Contact. Still pretty important. We get all the paperwork signed, make sure we're spelling the name of the planet right, get to know all the good places to eat…


Video Example(s):


Star Trek: Enterprise

From the earliest sailors crossing the oceans, to the Wright Brothers testing out their airplane concept in Kitty Hawk, to Neil Armstrong being the first man to walk on the Moon, to Zefram Cochrane inventing the first Warp Drive and making First Contact with the Vulcans: The Opening to Star Trek Enterprise embodies the nature of the Human Spirit to go out and explore what is beyond that next horizon.

Or in laymans' terms: "To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / BoldExplorer

Media sources: