There is a base, or a ship, or a city, where our heroes spend their time throughout the story. It may either be the location where most of the story takes place, or it could be a set piece only seen once in a while. Through some course of events, be it an enemy attack, or a natural disaster, or some kind of accident, everything has pitched into a state of chaos. People are wounded, equipment damaged, chaos and confusion reigns supreme, and everything is on fire.
The first order of the day, aside possibly from dealing with the cause of the damage, is putting out the fires, tending to the wounded, and repairing the damage so everything can go back to normal. Expect all this to be going on even as the driving crisis that caused everything is still ongoing. The main characters will often be split apart and unable to communicate with each other or rely upon each other directly. Expect at least one character to reach down inside himself and find the resolve and resourcefulness he needs to solve a major problem without the team mates he normally relies on. The Engineer and the Old Soldier will be at their best here, leading their men in the dangerous and critical work of getting everything operational again.
The trope draws its name from an expression used on naval and merchant vessels, for urgent repair work that is done while the ship is at sea. If unsuccessful, our characters will often be forced to segue directly into Abandon Ship.
Note: when applying this trope to video games, it should only be done when dealing with such repairs as a plot point, as opposed to game mechanics centering on unit healing or repair.
If you're looking for the comic book series of the same name, go here and please fix the link that sent you to this page.
- Appropriately enough, a comic series called Damage Control centered around a group of people tasked with cleaning up after the destructive fights between superheroes and villains in the Marvel Comics universe.
- Twice seen in USS Indianpolis: Men of Courage, first immediately following a kamikaze hit on the bow off Okinawa, and then immediately following the torpedo attack by I-58. The second attempt, however, is botched due to the severe fire and flooding the ship is taking in.
- Seen in U571 as they try to get a damaged submarine under control before they get too deep.
- Seen, too, in Das Boot, when the U-96 is in the depths of the Gibraltar Strait.
- Seen in quite a few Star Trek movies:
- In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the Enterprise is taken by surprise in the initial attack, but Kirk and Spock are able to turn the tables and deal some swift damage to Reliant. Both ships are forced to withdraw and effect repairs before they can fight again. In the final battle, both ships are again crippled, and it is only a Heroic Sacrifice by Mr. Spock that allows them to survive.
- In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when Kirk asks when they can get their captured Bird-of-Prey under way, Scotty quips, "Damage control is easy; reading Klingon, that's hard."
- The space battle in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has Scotty doing his usual thing while the Enterprise is pummeled by torpedoes.
- Again, during the battle in Star Trek: Generations, Geordi LaForge is seen ordering his repair teams around, although it ultimately turns out to be futile. Interestingly, this scene is a line-for-line recreation of a similar scene in the series epiosde "Yesterday's Enterprise", which nicely foreshadows the Enterprise's fate.
- In Star Trek: Insurrection the Enterprise gets into another space fight. It's not really seen, but right before it starts, LaForge leaves the bridge for Engineering, knowing what he's going to be doing in short order.
- The Star Trek II scene is mirrored in Star Trek Into Darkness, this time the roles are reversed. Spock is commanding the battle and Kirk is the one who does the Heroic Sacrifice to repair the ship before it crashes or burns up in Earth's atmosphere.
- A villainous example in Iron Eagle, due to Chappie and Doug hitting the airfield first, and Colonel Nakesh gives his men one hour to reopen the airfield.
- In The Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America have to do repairs on the Airborne Aircraft Carrier at 30,000 feet after Hawkeye attacks and blows up one of its engines.
- Star Wars:
- The Phantom Menace: After Trade Federation battleships shoot out the shield generators on the royal cruiser, R2-D2 and several other astromechs are called out to fix it. R2 gets it done but all the other droids are blown away in the process.
- The Empire Strikes Back: Han and Chewbacca are shown trying to get a malfunctioning hyperdrive online while being pounded by Imperial Star Destroyers.
- In Down Periscope, the Stingray starts bursting water pipes while sailing dangerously close to a freighter to sneak into a harbor, forcing the crew to patch the lines before they cause additional damage, leading to Stepanek's Big Damn Heroes moment.
Stepanek: DRESS REHEARSAL FOR HELL, BOYS!!!
- In The Hunt for Red October the sub takes damage in a fight with another sub and has to be repaired.
- Red Storm Rising had a number of instances, notably the damaged USS Nimitz limping back into port after being struck by missiles, a soviet freighter carrying troops and equipment having to fight fires after being strafed by F-15s, the seawater used to put them out inadvertently ruining a lot of missiles that had planned to install in their new base. It isn't seen, but it's obvious that this is what's going on aboard the ill-fated USS Providence. Finally, the Soviets manage to take over a USAF base in Iceland, and when the Americans attack trying to render it useless, cratering the runways, the Soviets use the repair materials the Americans themselves had left in the event of such an occasion and have them back in use before nightfall.
- Happens fairly often in the Honor Harrington series, particularly in the books that center on one or two ships. Books which focus on fleet actions will mention the damage control in passing, rather than focusing on it in depth.
- On Basilisk Station shows some of the issues that a crew of a ship in battle have to deal with. When the missile launchers on one side of the ship are damaged, along with the automated systems for transferring missiles from one magazine to another, crewmembers have to move the missiles by hand with the assistance of anti-gravity rigs, which make the missile weightless, but do not eliminate its inertia, causing one crewmember to be crushed (nonfatally) against the wall when the ship takes a hit.
- One compartment on the ship is designated as Damage Control Central and the crew there are responsible for coordinating the efforts of all damage control teams onboard. Generally it's run by the chief engineer or one of his senior assistants.
- In the Warrior Cats series, a forest fire burns through ThunderClan's territory in the fourth book. In addition to killing several cats and driving out all the prey, the camp itself was destroyed. They have to try and rebuild it with whatever little they have left to work with, and try to get back to a normal lifestyle, before the other Clans take advantage of their vulnerability.
- The Argo II in The Mark of Athena takes frequent damage through the course of the book, but since they are attacked almost every time they set down they have to do a lot of repairs on the fly, in one case their means of escape does almost as much damage as the attack, meaning Leo has to do some fast work just to keep the ship from flying apart. Another time after being attacked by a sea monster Leo got washed overboard so the others, under Annabeth's direction, had to do enough repairs to keep them from sinking.
- Babylon 5:
- A subtle example: Part of the station (one of the fork-like protrutions on the top of the station for handling cargo) is blown off during a battle with an attacking ship in the season 2 finale. In the season 3 intro, the damaged section can be seen re-attached and surrounded by scaffolding.
- The season 4 episode Endgame has a fleet of ships get crippled due to the heroes' sabotage just before the final battle of the season. The repairwork isn't shown, but is discussed soon after, and later referenced in passing when one of these ships arrives during the final battle just in time to save the Aggamemnon.
- Battlestar Galactica (1978) episode "Fire in Space". Cylon raiders ram the Galactica in suicide attacks, causing fires to break out throughout the ship. Several of the crew are trapped and Commander Adama is injured.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003) had this on more than one occasion, as the Galactica often came under attack by the Cylons. The miniseries had many of the damage control personnel get Thrown Out the Airlock when the Galactica officers were forced to vent the atmosphere from part of the ship in order to put the fires out before it was too late.
- Doctor Who: In "Voyage of the Damned", after the starship Titanic is heavily damaged, Midshipman Alonzo Frame, the only surviving crewman on the bridge, does what he can to keep the ship in orbit and its power on until the Doctor can make it to the bridge.
- Firefly: In "Out of Gas", Serenity is crippled by an explosion which disabled their life support. In this case, the required repairs are implied to be simple enough, but they don't have the required part. Mal sends them off while he waits on the ship for someone to answer their distress call.
- In the first episode of Last Resort the crew of the USS Colorado are shown repairing the sub after a missile attack.
- Another first episode, this time for seaQuest DSV, had the titular sub taking a direct from a torpedo. Afterwards, the first officer is talking about the repairs being made. Later a more extensive effort is shown tryign to root out a virus that's been screwing up their computer systems.
- Frequently seen in various Star Trek episodes after the ship takes damage.
- Scotty pulls a rather impressive one in "The Doomsday Machine" when they encounter the severely damaged starship Constellation. He (along with one or two assistants) successfully gets her moving on impulse power, raises the Deflector Shields, and recharges one of her phaser banks.
- Notable in Star Trek: Voyager where they had to do many repairs themselves.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Disaster" has the Enterprise adrift after being hit be a rare energy wave, and an inexperienced Counselor Troi in charge of managing repair efforts.
- Shown a lot in Star Trek: Enterprise, most notably after "Azati Prime" after the titular ship gets the crap beaten out of her by the Xindi. Throughout the rest of Season 3, we see lots of repairs going on in the background.
- The board game Red November is nothing but damage control on a submarine prey to fires, flooded compartments, and the looming threat of a Kraken attack.
- World of Warships has two variants of this: the Damage Control Party consumable, which is used for putting out fires, fixing floodings, and repairing incapacitated modules such as engines or turrets. The second one, Repair Party, is used for restoring hull integrity, which translates to HP being partially restored.
- Battlestations: Pacific has this as a mechanic on ships as well. In this case, damage control is divided into addressing flooding, putting out fires, repairing damaged guns, etc.
- In Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, The Protagonist, US Marine Private Tommy Conlin, is tasked during the Pearl Harbor attack with helping sailors and other Marines aboard the USS West Virginia. One of these is helping the beleaguered crew control fire and flooding damage in the bowels of the ship, saving it from certain doom like the Arizona and Oklahoma just minutes prior.
- Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon uses this as a gameplay mechanic, with crew assigned as riggers handling damage control. Riggers can repair the ship, albeit slowly and put out fires. Using more skilled riggers can speed these processes up.