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Captain Space, Defender of Earth!

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Dr Chaotica: Captain Proton!
Tom Paris: Spaceman First Class, protector of Earth, scourge of intergalactic evil... at your service.
Star Trek: Voyager, "Night"

In The Future, when mankind has explored the outer reaches of space, the forces of evil threaten our peace. But never fear, for humanity is under the stalwart protection of the hero (or parody hero) of Space Operas and serials, known as Captain Space, Defender Of Earth!

There have been accusations of this being a Dead Unicorn Trope, since parodies of it are now better known than and arguably outnumber the original straight examples, but yes, by all the stars in space, the trope was once played straight by characters like Dan Dare, Captain Future, and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger!

The parodies tend to be based more on (the popular perception of) Captain Kirk and on Adam West's portrayal of Batman than on the old Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers stories, but that does not stand in the way of their quest For Great Justice! Okay, it might, but even if he is an arrogant Jerkass (meant to mock the old values, or what we think they were), that won't stop people from admiring him (or Green Skinned Space Babes from falling into his arms) due to his deep, manly voice, larger than life mannerisms, dedication to truth and justice, and some of his trusty gadgets (Ray Gun mandatory).

When our hero actually is heroic, although sometimes an idiot, he leads the fight to stop Death Rays, alien armadas, Space Pirates, and Evil Overlords from destroying The Federation! Furthermore, he does not need to do this alone, as he is always accompanied by a Girl Friday, a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, or a Space Cadet, who may also be parodies of their respective archetypes or the true saviors of the day!

In animation our hero is often drawn with an exaggerated chin and a top-heavy body, to show off his space manliness!

Compare the Space Cadet (who aspires to be Captain Space when he grows up), Space Police, The Cape, The Ace, Raygun Gothic, Captain Superhero (with which this can overlap if a character is a Superhero In Space), For Great Justice, Space "X".

Note that this is not merely parodies of space operas. This is about any character(s) acting this way.


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    Anime & Manga  

    Comic Books 
  • Nexus has more than a few elements of this, since he was based partly on Space Ghost.
  • V for Vendetta has a Show Within a Show called Storm Saxon as an idealized Aryan hero. He seems to mainly be a Mighty Whitey who fights black cannibals.
  • 2000 AD:
    • In 1981 Dash Decent who was mostly a Flash Gordon parody, but whose name also suggested Dan Dare.
    • Around this same time, a "Tharg's Future Shocks" strip penned by Alan Moore centered around Rocket Redglare—"Golden-Haired Guardian of the Galaxy, Steel-Eyed Sentinel of the Spaceways, and Enemy of Evil Extra-Terrestrials." He's been living out his life as a washed up retiree, ever since he defeated his Meng the Merciless -styled arch enemy.
  • Nova becomes a reconstruction of this in Annihilation.
  • Lance Blastoff, from Frank Miller's Tales to Offend, is a parody of the sexist and racist elements this character sometimes embodies.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy:
    • Rocket Raccoon of the started as a very weird version of this trope plus Funny Animal. He later learned that the people he was protecting were actually abandoned mental patients; he'd been created to serve as the least-threatening asylum orderly possible. This leads to his modern characterization as a cynical, kleptomaniac bounty hunter.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2008) started on the very premise of deconstructing this trope, taking some of Marvel's forgotten characters who had played it straight and remaking them as severely flawed characters.
  • DC Comics has their own stable of space heroes: Star Hawkins, Space Ranger, Tommy Tomorrow, and so on. Twilight was intended to give an update to all of them, as was the New 52 story Threshold. Also from DC Comics is Adam Strange, who is inspired by John Carter of Mars (a forerunner of Flash Gordon).
  • Starlight was a reconstruction of Flash Gordon where the Flash expy has come back to Earth and grown old with nobody believing his stories of space adventures apart from his now dead wife. He comes out of retirement when an alien teenager comes to Earth and asks him to save their planet again.
  • Private Eye had Dan Dire, who was based on politician, Neil Kinnock and fought the Maggon (a Mekon parody, based on Margaret Thatcher).
  • Astro City's own Astro-Naut (in honor of whom the city was named) is a Decon-Recon Switch of the archetype - having developed space travel technology during the war with the help of (friendly) aliens, his refusal to share it with the goverment during the fifties led him to be labeled a traitor to the country. He kept traveling across the cosmos to keep an eye on alien menaces (and find his lost Green-Skinned Space Babe love) despite his decreasing popularity and detatchment from human life. His fall from grace was reversed, however, once he gave his life protecting the city from Space Invaders. In keeping with the Deliberate Values Dissonance of his mid-fifties time period, his spaceship had an airbrushed image of his girlfriend, and he kept smoking his cigarettes even when wearing a Fishbowl Helmet.
  • Valérian plays it straight and likely inspired many other examples. While the titular character is heroic, he is part of the Space Police instead of a lone hero.
  • In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue of Fables, it is revealed that one of Bigby and Snow's sons Connor Wolf would go on to become a renowned adventurer and hero to countless fable worlds, one of which in a Science Fiction setting that evokes the idea of the trope.

    Comic Strips 
  • The original Dan Dare is one of the most bona fide, straight examples you'll ever find, and we love him for it. Later iterations end up being deconstructions, though.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin's Spaceman Spiff persona, who doesn't defend Earth so much as get randomly captured and shot down on faraway planets.
  • Comic strip character Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! is the parody version of this trope.
  • While neither strip started out this way, both Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon evolved into this trope over time. Buck started out with purely earth-bound adventures, but ended up venturing into space more and more often over the years, to the point that his early non-space stories feel like Early-Installment Weirdness. Flash started out in a Planetary Romance constrained to the planet Mongo, but eventually left to have these sorts of planet-hopping adventures instead; however, since most fans regarded Mongo as the heart and soul of the story, Flash and his friends eventually returned there and the strip again became a Mongonian Planetary Romance until it ended in 2003.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Many would claim E. E. "Doc" Smith is the father of this trope, though his best-known creation, the Lensman series, is arguably more of a Space Police story.
  • Captain Future and his friends are another early straight example, complete with a popular animated adaptation in Japan.
  • Honor Harrington has the series within a series Preston of the Spaceways, often mentioned in the context of warning against stupid heroics. To be told one is "playing Preston of the Spaceways" is not a compliment.
  • The parody was firmly entrenched by the time Robert A. Heinlein wrote The Rolling Stones (1952) in The '50s: Roger Stone and, later, Grandma Hazel help support the family by writing a deliberately over-the-top three-vee serial in the Captain Space Defender mold.
  • In universe, this is how Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) is portrayed. Whether he is or not in person is debatable.
  • Used as a joke in-universe in the X-Wing Series.
    "Elassar Targon, master of the universe!"
  • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Highest Science has the Doctor discover a triangular video cassette showing "Captain Millennium" battling "Libida, Queen of the Virenies", which he considers to be So Bad, It's Good. (And when it ends on a cliffhanger with the Captain's assistant being threatened by an evil robot, he concludes it's "almost like real life, in a glamorized sort of way".)
  • There was a short written series in French kid magazine Astrapi called Nono le robot conteur ("Nono the robot story-teller"). In the last episode, a girl asks Nono to tell his own story, and he reveals he used to be Cosmo Max, a handsome and famous space adventurer with dozens of fangirls. However, he wanted to become immortal, so he turned himself into a robot.
  • The Space Academy series by C.T. Phipps: Vance Turbo, HERO OF SPACCCE develops this reputation by the third book where people correct his pronunctiation of the title affixed to his name. EarthGov and Space Fleet has worked to give him a legendary reputation as a defender of the innocent and opponent of evil through their propaganda machine. Interestingly, plenty of people believe he's the parody Idiot Hero of the trope as well, though neither is accurate.
  • Toby Frost's Space Captain Smith, hero of the British Space Empire, is Captain Space with a Stiff Upper Lip.
  • In Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, Oscar Hoffa's work as a television producer includes watching an episode of The Adventures of Crunch Crandall, Spaceman, whose titular hero fights to "save the fair Skarlotta, a Martian lass from the foul clutches of 'It,' the nameless monster of Ursa Minor." Oscar's executive complaints include not seeing enough cleavage on Skarlotta and the monster needing to be recast on the grounds of being "a faggot."
  • Isaac Asimov's The Complete Adventures of Lucky Starr has overtones of this trope, intentionally as the series was requested as a juvenile series of sci-fi books who Asimov wrote under a pseudonym, but is downplayed by Asimov's traditional style.
  • Deconstructed in Will Save the Galaxy for Food and its sequel Will Destroy the Galaxy for Cash, whose setting had a brief "golden age" of heroic star pilots before they were rendered technologically obsolete by teleportation.

    Live-Action TV 


    Pro Wrestling 

    Theme Parks 
Captain EO featured Michael Jackson as a musical one of these.


    Video Games 
  • CAPTAIN GORDON, DEFENDER OF EARTH! of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is the Trope Namer.
  • Blasto: Phil Hartman voices the title charter, who is played for comedy.
  • Rad Gravity in The Adventures of Rad Gravity.
  • Captain Commando mixes this with Toku tropes.
  • Your protagonist in Creature Shock, investigating a monster-infested asteroid.
  • Captain Quazar: The title character.
  • Drake Redcrest in Chibi-Robo! is an action figure from a Show Within a Show.
  • Crash and Coco's Star skins in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled have them look the part, but play it for laughs, since they end up having accidents with their respective tools.
  • Earthworm Jim was a deliberate parody of space heroes plus the Mascot with Attitude.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Galaxy Star is a sincere portrayal of this trope. Captain of the Galaxy's team, he's the charismatic and handsome American given jurisdiction to protect both Earth and Space, and does so without sinister intent. Both Zophy and Sharkungo consider him their good friend, and is eager to provide them with as much support as he can.
  • Captain Falcon of F-Zero and Super Smash Bros. fame is this trope as seen through Japanese eyes, particularly in the latter where he is voiced in overly hammy and terse Fake American Engrish.
  • Captain Cosmos from Fallout 3. Posters even showed the time slot of his show to be identical to the original air time of Star Trek: The Original Series. In the fifth DLC, one of the major NPCs is a big fan.
  • Rolf from Galaxy Fight fits the bill, with his heroic personality, wearing a red and white space suit at all times, and utilizing a ray gun and jet pack in combat.
  • Flip Hero in Hero and Hero Core. This heroic spaceman thwarts the machinations of Cruiser Tetron and his robot minions. Subverted: Hero is one of Tetron's machines gone rogue.
  • Live A Live's Distant Future chapter features Captain Square, the protagonist of an in-universe retro video game. He looks like Captain Future with goggles in lieu of a helmet, and fights alien monsters across 9 different levels.
  • Commander Shepard in Mass Effect is a modern Reconstruction of this trope, alongside the myriad of other space sci-fi reconstructions that Mass Effect is famous for.
  • Captain Jethro from Planet 404
  • Captain Qwark of Ratchet & Clank. In the first game, Ratchet seeks his help to fight Chairman Drek, only to learn he'd been hired by Drek as a spokesman and The Heavy. In later games he varies between secondary antagonist and annoying Distressed Dude.
  • Ace (Dexter) from Space Ace. Parodied somewhat in that the villain's secret weapon has changed him into a gawky kid who's constantly yelling and screaming. The player gets the option of changing him back into the musclebound space warrior version, but doing this makes the level more difficult.
  • In Stellaris, one Random Event has one of your science ship's chief officers (presumably a captain) going insane and believing themself to embody this trope, and that the very stars are pulsing to send them a coded warning about a coming catastrophe that only they can avert. The event ends with said officer being shipped back to your homeworld for therapy, bidding them farewell with "Thank you for your service, [Science Officer], protector of the realm!"

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner has "Space Captainface, pretender of the galaxies", Strong Bad's alter ego as head astronaut/poster boy for Strong Badia's space program, SBASAF (the Strong Badian Administration of Some Aluminum Foil, pronounced "sbace-aff"). His missions include Camera Spoofing an Italian spy satellite and attempting to turn fifteen bucks into a million dollars through a "vague understanding of the theory of relativity".

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Space Ghost is a rare latter-day example that plays this trope completely straight.
  • As in the original game, Dexter is this in the Space Ace segments of Saturday Supercade.
  • Atomic Betty uses this trope to add to the retro-futuristic appeal of the show. The title character is notably different other examples of this trope in that she's a 12-year-old girl who has to Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World (or in this case, the galaxy).
  • Ben 10 and especially it sequels are known to play this trope straight. The Plumbers are a secret Space Police that deals with different inter-planetary issues, they travel between planets fighting against the bad guys with a different set of weapons or alien superpowers. It's clear that Ben wants to be like this, as he wanted to join in the first series a special organization that was mostly a lighthearted parody of this (They were portrayed as rather cartoonish but still capable and useful) and in the flashforward episodes he is seen as a straight example of this trope. The sequel series Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien shows a very diverse set of Plumbers with many of them falling squarely on this trope.
    • With the increasing Space Opera elements in the series, this is seen as a logical progression, inter-planetary travelling became a standard of the series, and many of the villains in the show are classical sci-fi enemies that must be dealt with a regular space hero.
  • Duck Dodgers, in both the original cartoon and its TV series Spin-Off.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is a cartoon based off the Buzz Lightyear property seen in the Toy Story movies. In this cartoon, Buzz is less of a parody than Captain Space heroes often are and the show is closer in tone to genuine Space Opera.
  • Major Courage (a parody of Shatner's Kirk) of Courage of the Cosmos, a Show Within a Show in the DuckTales (1987) episode, "Where No Duck Has Gone Before".
  • Zapp Brannigan of Futurama thinks he's a dashing space hero, but in actuality is a despicable, cowardly, perverted idiot who inevitably gets all the men under his command killed pointlessly. Unlike most examples he is not so much a broad parody, as he is very explicitly based on Captain Kirk (his character was originally pitched as "What if William Shatner was captain of the Enterprise rather than Kirk?"), although he does have moments of referencing other things - in "In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela" he has a recurring Imagine Spot in the form of an incredibly cheap looking black-and-white adventure serial called "The Transcredible Exploits of Zapp Brannigan", depicting Action Girl Leela as a helpless Damsel in Distress and Zapp as a macho hero fighting a stereotypical Yellow Peril villain.
    So, Emperor Chop Chop, once again we meet at last. Drop that space gun or I'll shoot... like so! [shoots]
  • The "Starboy and the Captain of Outer Space" movie-within-a-show in Home Movies.
  • Crash Nebula is a Show Within a Show in The Fairly OddParents! starring the titular Crash Nebula, a prime example of this trope.
  • The eponymous character of Captain Star is an egotistical Captain Kirk spoof totally oblivious to the fact that he's been Kicked Upstairs to a desolate planet at the edge of the universe.
  • The Vindicators, and especially Vance Maximus (Renegade Starsoldier), from Rick and Morty, seem to be a more modern take on this, with Maximus himself being a clear nod to the film portrayal of Star-Lord. This contrasts with Rick and the various sci-fi beings he usually interacts with, who are based more on cheesy eighties and nineties cartoons.
  • In Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jupiter Jim is a popular series the turtles are big fans of, and the main character seems to be inspired by this trope.
  • In Steven Universe, Lars helps the Off-Color Gems steal a Cool Starship in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome. He then becomes the ship's commander, and gets fully into this trope when making decisions (while posing heroically).
  • Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys as the name indicates is a parody of this trope mixed with Apes in Space.
  • Captain Adam Francis Shatner in Tripping the Rift is a parody of this trope as the name implies (referencing two well-known actors of camp shows Adam West and William Shatner) as captain of the Confederation (the in-universe parody of The Federation) and with many characteristics of the trope.
  • Marissa Faireborn in the third season of The Transformers has a bit of this vibe. It probably helps her badass status that she's implied to be Flint and Lady Jaye's daughter.
  • In the 1960's, Space Angel was this trope, with Clutch Cargo-style animation! (That is, real filmed actors' mouths superimposed over still drawings. Really!)
  • The eponymous Commander Clark tries his hardest to live up to the trope, although his animal instincts can tend to get in the way.
  • In a VeggieTales episode about bullying, Junior daydreams of being a space hero of this type, facing off against an evil alien who resembles his bully.


Dan Dare Pilot of the Future

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Main / CaptainSpaceDefenderOfEarth

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