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Sometime in The Future, the technology of space travel improved enough to allow moving personnel and materials off Earth on a large scale. At this point, humankind started Settling the Frontier in its own astronomical neighborhood. The most likely places for colonies to be established are on The Moon (which may be called Luna, for the same reason that Earth is often known as Planet Terra), Mars or both, though other planets, moons, dwarf planets and even asteroids within The Solar System are fair game for this trope.

In the not-so-far future, these colonies may consist of little more than mining operations or military outposts; in farther futures, these colonies may become part of galaxy-spanning empires centered on Earth. Making the environment more Earthlike, to the point where you don't need a spacesuit or pressurized dome to breathe, tends to require some amount of Terraforming, unless Zeerust-flavored Artistic License can be invoked. In the latter case, the colonization effort may run up against indigenous aliens.

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Off-Earth colonies may serve as a refuge from populations dislocated from Earth That Used to Be Better. They will also likely be the first targets of an Alien Invasion. If the colonies have enough resources and political willpower to potentially become independent of Earth, The War of Earthly Aggression may result.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Gundam series usually have large space station-type colonies orbiting Earth, and cities on the Moon are pretty common. The Universal Century continuity also has the Axis colony, that was initially in the Asteroid Belt, and settlements near Jupiter that play a role in later installments. A few series also have settlements at Mars, either on a terraformed surface or just more orbiting space colonies, and at least one series included a giant space colony near Venus.
  • Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita in the US) has colonies on Venus, Mars, and Jupiter that have wildly divergent cultures.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico starts with the destruction of a colony on Mars by invading "Jovian Lizards." The Jovians are in fact humans, the descendents of an earlier generation of lunar colonists driven into exile.
  • Space Battleship Yamato 2199 has one Martian colonist on the crew, fighter pilot (initially, accountant) Akira Yamamoto. The colony was destroyed early in the war.
  • Galaxy Express 999 sets several early installments within the solar system, including a Martian ghost town, the icy cemetery on Pluto, and a library in the Oort cloud.
  • Cowboy Bebop has the solar system at large undergoing this due to the Earth itself being nigh uninhabitable. With worlds like Mars being the most developed and prosperous. Colonization of Venus, on the other hand, is still a work in progress and relies largely on flying cities...which is a surprisingly realistic depiction of what it would take to terraform Venus.
  • In the backstory to Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, the alien Inbit conquered the Earth, but humanity had already spread to other planets. These remained untouched by the invasion, and bases on the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter have the resources to attempt to recover Earth decades later. The series takes place during the Second and Third Reconquest Expeditions.

    Comics 
  • The original Guardians of the Galaxy was set in a distant future where humanity had colonized every world in the solar system, resulting in some pretty odd evolutionary offshoots of the species. In the team we had a crystalline man from Pluto, a Heavyworlder from Jupiter, and a flaming girl from Mercury.
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    Film 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey features multiple colonies on the Moon. The Americans have to close off their Clavius base when The Monolith is discovered.
  • Moon is about a solitary worker running a Helium-3 mining operation on the moon.
  • Mr. Nobody: In one of the possible realities, Mars is being gradually and realistically colonized by humans who travel there in cryosleep.
  • Total Recall (1990): Mars has been settled by human colonists. The mutant descendants of the first colonists are fighting a guerilla war against the colonial administration, which is only interested in mining turbinium ore for Earth.

    Literature 
  • The Dispossessed has an anarchist moon colony.
  • The Gods Themselves has a lunar colony, who are increasingly separatist relative to the Earth.
  • In One Day on Mars, Mars has been colonized long enough for people to have a particular phenotype (tall, pale, black-haired).
  • In The Pentagon War, prior to the main story, Mars was colonized by the Western powers on its southern hemisphere and by China on its northern hemisphere. The two colonies quickly grew to each others' borders and had a war, which was squelched when the World Federal Government stepped in and subjugated both sides.
  • The Red Mars Trilogy tells the story of the colonization, terraforming and deadly conflicts of Mars over several generations. Several other planets and satellites are shown with small colonies and research stations on it, such as Miranda, one of the moons of Uranus.
  • Robert A. Heinlein wrote a number of stories involving lunar colonies:
  • In Spin, Mars is terraformed and colonized by Earth. Due to the Year Outside, Hour Inside premise, the Martian colony becomes technologically advanced enough to develop interstellar travel (of a sort) and longevity treatments within the lifetime of the protagonists.
  • In Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the entire solar system has been colonized in a contrived way that results in the solar system having the same political systems as twentieth-century Earth on a larger scale: for instance, the United States of Jupiter is basically the USA, while the Earth itself has become the equivalent of India (with the Moon as Sri Lanka).
  • In The Expanse the former colonies on Mars have become an independent military power in a cold war with Earth. Both planets exploit the Belt, whose inhabitants have formed their own unique culture.
  • In the Revelation Space Series, Mars was colonized by the augmented Conjoiners and Europa was colonized by the democratic anarchists. The Conjoiners fled the system after the Coalition for Neural Purity attacked them and the Demarchists moved their operations to the Epsilon Eridani system. The Solar System was dethroned as the hub of human civilization when Earth underwent a second ice age, and by the time most of the stories take place it is a backwater in comparison to Epsilon Eridani.
  • In Arrivals from the Dark, we gets to see the progress of this, even though the main focus is on humanity's interactions with aliens. The first novel Invasion takes place in 2088 and has humans establishing bases (even domed cities) on the Moon and small outposts on Mars and dwarf planets. USF even trains its Space Fighter pilots on Mars and Venus. The Outer Solar System is still unsettled at that point. After the failed Alien Invasion and the resulting influx of Imported Alien Phlebotinum, Artificial Gravity allows for quick and easy interplanetary travel, while the FTL drive allows for other stars to be explored. The human presence on Mars steadily expands, and the planet is eventually terraformed and holds a sizable population (200 million) by 2352. It's stated the Mars served as the testbed for many of the terraforming technologies and techniques later used to settle barely-habitable worlds. The Asteroid Belt is home to numerous mining operations, as well as shipyards for the Space Navy (why put shipyards far away from the source of the materials?). Even Pluto has a presence in the form of a long-range monitoring station and a Lo'ona Aeo mercenary recruiting base.
  • In the Hyperion Cantos, Mars was colonized a long time ago and is actually the only human-inhabited planet in the Solar System (Earth having become Earth That Was due to a Negative Space Wedgieor so everyone thinks). Mars is the headquarters of FORCE, the military of the Hegemony, and is inhabited by the Palestinians. Yes, the Palestinians, who won their independence at some point but very shortly thereafter lost it in the crossfire of an unrelated Middle Eastern nuclear war.
  • In The Man in the High Castle, the Nazis have already colonized the Moon, Mars, and Venus by 1962. One character speculates that, by the time Japan gets their first spaceship off the ground, Germany will have the entire solar system sewed up tight.
  • The Pride of Parahumans: Corporations colonized the Belt with transgenic "parahumans", who have since rebelled and achieved independence. Other short stories indicate aerostat habitats over Venus and colonies on Mars.
  • The prequel novels to Ender's Game reveal that Luna was already a bustling metropolis by the time of the First Invasion. Other planets aren't really settled, although asteroid mining is in full force by both corporations and independent mining clans. The arrival of the Formics puts a stop to colonization, especially after the discovery that an even larger Formic armada is on the way. All resources are put towards building an International Fleet to repel the advanced enemy.
  • The backstory of The Stainless Steel Rat reveals that Mars was colonized in desperation, when Earth was deemed to be in its final throes. All resources were put towards terraforming Mars to even the most basic survivability levels. Even then, only a small portion of humanity was able to move there. The rest eventually mutated by the increased solar radiation and degraded. At some point, Earth's entire nuclear stockpile was set off, wiping out the remains of terrestrial humanity. From that point, Mars became humanity's new homeworld, from where it expanded out into the galaxy. Even the name "Earth" was eventually lost (most people think it was called "Dirt" or something).
  • In the long-ago short story "Thundering Worlds," every planet in the solar system has been colonized, but the sun is dying. So with powerful rockets attached, the planets leave Sol for a younger star. In the end, Mercury is sacrificed to destroy a set of competing alien worlds, as back then it was thought to be smaller than Pluto.
  • The first novel of The History of the Galaxy series has a Mega-Corp work to terraform Mars, while another Mega-Corp seeks to fill it with mega cities (they're rivals in that regard: the first one wants a green Mars, while the other one just wants it to be a Planetville). However, both efforts are derailed when the second corporation's careless digging accidentally unleashes a huge underground burst of nanodust, which clogs every machine on Mars and makes either terraforming or construction impossible for a long time. Fortunately, around this time, humanity discovers hypersphere, allowing other star systems to be visited and settled.
  • In The Lost Fleet, Mars was the first colonized planet. Unfortunately, it's a case of Gone Horribly Wrong, as the original settlers wanted it to be entirely independent of Earth. The result is a planet run by gangs. Even centuries later, the three nations on Mars are still run by gangs. In the prequel The Genesis Fleet series, everyone treats Martians with the same disdain due to the planet being a Wretched Hive. One character expends a lot of effort to lose her past as a "Red": she moves to Earth, gets rid of her Martian accent, and tells everyone she's from Albuquerque.
  • In The Killing Star, humanity has spread out across much of the Solar System. There are research outposts on Mars, the Moon, Gandymede, Miranda, and Triton; huge solar-powered antimatter factories on Mercury built by self-replicating robots, space colonies and hollowed-out asteroids that have become whole worlds unto themselves, including Ceres. Nearly all of them are wiped out by a series of relativistic bombings launched by an alien civilization, leaving only a few scattered survivors. And that's just in the first few chapters.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5, a colonized Mars is an important (and restive) member of the Earth Alliance. Commander Sinclair was born and raised there, and numerous human military charactersnote  were stationed there earlier in their careers (often tying in with Mars's and Earth's backstory in the show paralleling the relationship between the United Kingdom and Ireland). It was outright stated that many of the Earth Alliance and Earth Force agencies on Mars were blatantly corrupt. There are also references to the Earth Alliance's colonies on the moons of Earth and Mars, and three of Jupiter's Galilean moons.
  • The Red Dwarf was a Neptune-to-Earth ore frieghter, before the radiation leak that killed all but one of the crew and forced the AI to take the ship out of the system. It's also mentioned a few times that Rimmer grew up on Io.
  • In Star Trek, Mars was colonized between the events of the movie First Contact and the series Enterprise. The Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, where the Enterprise-D was built, are in synchronous orbit above the Utopia Planitia region on the Martian surface. (This would have to be a powered orbit, as Utopia Planitia isn't on the equator.) Other parts of the solar system are also colonized. Venus has terraforming stations on it, the Moon is so developed that you can see some of the settlements from Earth's surface, and there were other research stations and such throughout the solar system. Humans weren't the only ones to do this, since the Klingons had a mining station on Praxis, one of their homeworld's moons (before it blew up), Neelix was from Rinax, one of the Talaxian homeworld's moons, Bajor had at least one moon that was inhabitable and had about 50 refugees from Cardassian oppression flee there, and there are many other examples.
  • The Expanse deals with a brewing conflict between Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt colonies.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Quality of Mercy" and "The Light Brigade", there are colonies on Mars and various moons in the Solar System. Europa base is a major part of the Solar System's defence perimeter.
    • On a much smaller scale, there is a research facility called Aphrodite on Venus in "The Joining".
    • In "Phobos Rising", both the Free Alliance and the Coalition of Middle Eastern and Pacific States have bases on Mars. It is also mentioned that both blocs had moonbases 30 years earlier and that the Alliance had one on a body known as Sagan V.
    • In "The Human Factor", the sequel to "Phobos Rising", there is a base on Jupiter's moon Ganymede in 2084. It was established by Free Alliance and Eastern Coalition moderates in order to terraform Ganymede and show that the two sides could live together in peace.
    • In "Worlds Apart", there is mention of a moonbase.
    • In "Think Like a Dinosaur", Earth has established a base, the Tuulen Transfer Station, on The Moon.
    • In "In the Blood", there are bases on the Martian moon Phobos and Jupiter's moon Titan.
  • The Outer Limits (1963):
    • In "Cold Hands, Warm Heart", General Jeff Barton is working on Project Vulcan, the planned colonization of Mars.
    • In "The Invisible Enemy", the M-2 is sent to Mars in 2024 to assess the feasibility of colonizing it in the future.
  • Star Cops: There are bases on both The Moon and Mars in 2027.

    Radio 
  • Journey Into Space:
    • The space programme's long-term goal is to establish colonies on The Moon, Mars and Venus. In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Mitch believes that the construction of a lunar colony will be a matter for their children or grandchildren. However, The Red Planet reveals that there is already a lunar colony by 1971. In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Jet experiences a premonition of the launch of a ship bound for Venus on October 30, 1965.
    • In The Host, there is a research station in orbit of Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS:
    • In the Terradyne setting, the Moon has a pressurized city (Luna City) which is the capital of the titular Mega-Corp turned empire.
    • In Transhuman Space the Moon has a significant population, Mars is partially terraformed but only genetically modified parahumans can breathe the atmosphere at present (2100 A.D.), multiple asteroids host colonies (anarcho-capitalist Duncanites mostly), and Saturn is mined for He-3.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 Mars is the primary Forge World of the Adeptus Mechanicus, while Jupiter hosts the Imperium's largest shipyards and Titan is home to the Grey Knights.
  • Eclipse Phase takes place after Earth is ravaged by a Singularity-event gone wrong and the survivors fled to the fledgling off-world colonies via Brain Uploading. The Moon is the center of the slightly conservative and decaying Lunar-Lagrange Alliance. Mars is partially terraformed (Ruster morphs can breathe) and the capital of the corporatocratic Planetary Consortium. Venus has several aerostat habitats in the upper atmosphere that were Consortium but most seceded to form the Morningstar Constellation. The Asteroid Belt is settled by a mix of corporates and anarchists. Jupiter's moons are mostly the domain of the bioconservative and fascistic Jovian Republic. And Titan and some of Saturn's other moons have the technosocialist Titanian Commonwealth.
  • In the backstory of Hc Svnt Dracones a Mega-Corp colonized Mars just before Earth fell victim to a nuclear war. 700 years later Mars, Venus, and Ganymede have been terraformed by MarsCo while Europa is host to the bioengineered monstrosities of Transcendent Technologies Inc.

    Video Games 
  • In Children Of A Dead Earth, humanity had to so somewhere after Earth was rendered uninhabitable during World War III. Almost all of the major bodies are colonized and under the control of a major power, only a handful of which have roots in pre-cataclysm governments.
  • In the original Escape Velocity, Luna and Mars are humanity's oldest two colony worlds, settled during the 21st century. Luna's low-gravity environment is home to the Confederate Navy's main shipyards. Mars, while still a reddish planet, is said to have almost a billion inhabitants. In the Escape Velocity: Nova continuity, the Moon has been strip-mined and Mars has also been colonized, but the colony never became big because the Terraforming effort was a failure. The Federation fleet also has a major refueling depot in orbit around Europa.
  • In Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony, Mars is being colonized in the 17th century by both the British and the Spanish, with the latter allying with the indigenous Martians.
  • Nectaris is about a war fought on a colonized Moon.
  • In two scenarios of SimEarth, the player's mission is to terraform and colonize Mars or Venus.
  • In the X-Universe, by 2146 Mars and the Moon have been colonized, albeit lightly, and just in time for malfunctioning terraformers to wipe them off the map. By the time we see the solar system again in 2938 in X3: Terran Conflict, the solar system is completely colonized, with every planet and every major satellite having, at the very least, orbital cities and factories. The headquarters for Earth's United Space Command fleet is located on Mars, rather than Earth. Earth itself is encircled by a massive shipyard, factory, and residential station, the Torus Aeternal. The Earth State is implied to have the Sol system built up far more densely than other races (including their Lost Colony, the Argon Federation), all of whom generally just colonize the easiest planet in a jumpgate sector and move on.
  • Mass Effect: The Solar System has been colonized rather extensively, Mars having particular mention as a rising population center which is where the Prothean ruins were discovered, which actually turned Mars into the backwater as the new technology allowed distant stars to be colonized and Mars would just be bypassed. Scans with the Galaxy Map show that all the other planets have settlements as well, most of them just research or utility stations, with Uranus having their main He-3 mining and refining facilities.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: The ending of the Soviet campaign in Yuri's Revenge implies that the Soviet Union will use the space travel technology that they took from Yuri to expand communism across the solar system.
  • Millennium: Return to Earth starts with the Moon and Mars having bases. Then Earth gets Colony Dropped by an asteroid, leaving those two outposts as the only remnants of humanity. The more militant Martian colonists declare themselves the true heirs to Earth and warn their Lunar cousins to stay on the Moon or face the consequences. Obviously, you, as leader of the Lunar colony, have no intention of doing that. The game involves sending out probes to the planets and moons of the Solar System in order to establish mining bases at viable sites. Those smaller colonies lack any manufacturing facilities. The Martians conduct periodic raids on the Moon and the other bases, necessitating that each base maintain Attack Drones and/or Kill Sats for protection (they can only be built on the Moon and must be then shipped to the other planets). The mining bases' only purpose is to provide raw materials to the Lunar colony to build and research stuff. The eventual goal is to take the fight to Mars, destroy the colony there, and establish your own. Also, near the end of the game, some of the colonies start to mutate due to the local conditions. By the end, most of them will declare independence. The final task is to build a terraforming device that turn Earth back into a habitable world. By the time of the sequel, taking place 800 years later, most of the colonies have died out.
  • The primary setting of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a colonized Solar System, though it begins in Geneva, Switzerland on Earth during the United Nations Space Alliance Fleet Week. Parts of the system are ceded to the Settlement Defense Front while others remain in the hands of the UNSA.
  • While not a Solar System example, the main gameplay of Alien Legacy involves colonizing a star system strangely similar to ours. The colonists are cut off from Earth by both space and time (presumably, centuries, if not millennia, have passed after the ship's launch). The game allows you to establish multiple colonies on suitable sites on all planet types but gas giants (large asteroids are also colonizable). You can also build multiple space stations around planets, moons, and asteroids, although they're never going to be fully self-sufficient due to the inability to mine for raw materials. Another twist is that your colony ship isn't the first to arrive to the system, except, instead of this trope, all you find are Ghost Planets with cryptic messages about a disaster of some kind.
  • The first act of Haegemonia: Legions of Iron takes place in this setting, as wormhole travel hasn't yet been discovered. It involves a war between Earth and the Solar System colonies (mainly Mars). By that point, both sides are about equal in terms of technology and industry.
  • In Conquest: Frontier Wars, the Solar System is completely settled, and one mission involves defending it from a massed Mantis invasion.
  • In the Halo universe, humanity has a presence nearly everywhere in the solar system: Mars has been terraformed and is a major population center, there are gas mines and colonies on the gas giants and their moons (though Uranus is something of a sparse backwater), Earth's Moon has a strong colony and an OCS, and even Mercury - which is too hot for proper colonization - has solar farms and antimatter production. Though, humanity tried to terraform & colonize Venus but failed, presumably since the planet is just too horrendously deadly for even interstellar humanity to tame.
  • Warframe takes place across the Solar System, or Origin as characters call it, dotted with Corpus outposts, Grineer bases, Tenno space stations and a few hapless civilian colonies living in fear of the former two.

    Webcomics 
  • A Miracle of Science: Here, humanity spread to Mars, Venus, the Moon, Ganymede and Callisto, with Mars turning isolationist and weird (until it got lonely), Venus falling to a corrupt dictatorship, and all save the Moon have been terraformed.
  • Escape from Terra: The solar system is being colonized. Mars and much of the Belt seem to be largely independent of the United World while the moon, Venus, and Mercury are (officially at least) under its heel. The first Mars colonists were members of a private space corporation that hijacked the International Space Station when it was scheduled to be decommissioned.
  • Quantum Vibe has a solar system so extensively colonized it's starting to enter a societal decline, as interstellar travel has so-far proven impossible. The arching plot of the first twelve story arcs is a research project to find somewhere for humanity to colonize further.
  • Schlock Mercenary: The solar system has been extensively settled, with underwater cities on Europa, mile-high cities on a terraformed Luna, a terraformed Mars and Venus, and more.
  • Mare Internum is set on Mars at the beginning of its colonization.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm During the late Information, Interplanetary and Nanotech Ages, the Solar System is colonized.
  • Junction Point: By the 2050's, there are small colonies and scientific outposts on the Moon, Mars, and satellites of outer planets.

    Western Animation 
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, children built a giant treehouse on the Earth's moon as a means of escaping adult tyranny. The Moon Base serves as the primary and emergency headquarters for the Kids Next Door in case something so catastrophic occurs on Earth they have to evacuate the whole planet.
  • Futurama
    • Mars is terraformed and boasts an university and casinos. Most of it is owned by Amy Wong's family, and she is implied to have been born there.
    • The moon has also been colonized, with hydroponic farms and Old West-type towns, but its most popular attraction is the theme park.
    • In the outer reaches of the solar system, Neptune is where Robot Santa has his base of operations, and Pluto is being used as a penguin reserve.
  • In the Exo Squad universe, Venus has been terraformed, Mars has been colonized by the Neo-Sapiens, and the Jovian and Saturnian moons were used for military and mining purposes. Even the trans-Neptunian planet Chaos is occupied by a secret pirate base.
  • One of the proposed spin-offs for Gargoyles was Gargoyles 2198, which would have taken place in a future where we were all over the solar system.


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