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Flying Cutlery Spaceship

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The spaceship equivalent of a guy wearing a black hat and twirling his mustache. Or, rather, one thousand razor-sharp metallic mustaches twirling all at once with the energy of a thousand suns glowing beneath its armored plates.

At first, spaceships in science fiction tended towards simple, clean shapes lined with greebles. With advancing technology — especially in Computer-Generated Images — TV and movie spaceships became increasingly complicated as programmers could animate smaller and smaller individual segments. This has caused an explosion in the number of sharp edges and non-functional moving parts assigned to antagonist spaceship designs, to the point where most people in fiction powerful enough to threaten a planet are seen flying around in giant metal squids with a hundred vicious claws and blades on every tentacle.

The interiors of these ships are usually as dark and shadowy as the exterior, with huge docking bays, long corridors and plummeting shafts. Between those plummeting shafts, all the sharp edges and any actual defense systems within, they also almost-invariably suffer from No OSHA Compliance.

As a general rule, the spaceships become more squid/octopus-like as they grow in size and in the number of spikes and blades they possess. Often they possess a Wave-Motion Gun, and for extra points, the ship has to radically and slowly transform its shape just to use it, giving the heroes enough time to disarm the superweapon.

If a ship is simply covered in Spikes of Villainy, it's technically not this trope. This is about when enemy spaceships go way overboard on the sharp edges to impractical levels. How does a pilot climb inside such a ship without tearing their pressure suit? How could it be air-tight with all those shifting parts and gaps in the hull? And then there's the issue of dead weight, which is the last thing a real spaceship needs if it's going to go anywhere.

Compare and contrast Eldritch Starship and Standard Alien Spaceship.


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    Film - Live Action 
  • Galaxy Quest: The Big Bad's ship. This was probably intentional parody, though. It was really big, and it looked like a sea urchin with engines and a giant ominous maw in front.
  • Serenity: The Reaver ships are covered in jagged metal spikes, looking like they were slapped together from scrap metal. The Reavers also enjoy splattering blood like paint on their hulls and stringing half-eaten corpses to their bows. In the film, when Mal has to infiltrate Reaver space, he disguises Serenity in this fashion.
  • Star Trek (2009): The Narada, of course, arguably one of the biggest and most physically complicated examples. It used to be a simple mining vessel, but getting Borg tech upgrades, an insane captain and a little while getting poked around by the Klingons all resulted in it looking like some kind of mix between a Lovecraftian squid and a whole warehouse's worth of knives.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The last two films, Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis, had plenty of villainous ships like this. Insurrection featured a number of pointy horseshoe crab–style villain ships plus a giant, spiky weapon-ship that would strip life-supporting particles from the rings of an inhabited planet. Nemesis featured an oversized warbird with an insanely impractical (and very, very spiky) transformation sequence just to fire its main weapon.
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Of course the Klingon Bird of Prey, which debuted as the villain Kruge's warship. Arguably this is where the trope originated. Compared to the more recent examples on this list, Kruge's Bird of Prey was actually rather tame, but it did have cool moving wings with disruptor cannons on the tips. Also, unlike most of the ships on this list, Kruge's ship was an actual physical model, not a CGI mashup.
  • General Zod's Black Zero in Man of Steel is jagged, roughly squid-shaped, and stands on three tentacle-like legs.

  • The Eschaton Series: In Singularity Sky, it's mentioned that most real space warships look like "a cubist's vision of a rabies virus crossed with a soft drink can" — as opposed to the New Republic's sleek-looking but inferior fleet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 provides many early examples.
    • This is a design hallmark of all organic Shadow vessels, which all have prominent spikes/tentacles all over their bodies.
    • This is also seen among some Earth vessels operated by elements associated with the Shadow-influenced Clark government in later seasons. A Psi Corp base was a heavily modified civilian ship covered in spiky antennae like a big black sea urchin. There are also the Advanced Omega destroyers, which are definitely described as having Shadow technology incorporated, but obviously not fully effectively, as their hulls are covered with random, unhealthy-looking black spiky outgrowths.
    • Some Narn vessels have a milder pronged design.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • The Cylon raiders fit this, being sleek, slim unmanned vessels with two huge blade-like wings containing missiles and cannons. The red eye-stripe on the "cockpit" certainly helps with the image, too. Their mother ships, the Basestars, thankfully avert this trope despite simultaneously looking like starfish.
    • The Cylon "homeworld," aka The Colony, is an absolutely massive spaceship gradually built around the craft of the original five Cylons. It resembles a giant octopus more than anything, with a spherical center with giant claws jutting out in every which direction. Since it's both spacebound and FTL-capable, aerodynamics presumably isn't much of an issue.
  • Farscape:
    • The jet-black Peacekeeper Prowlers look like a cross between a dart and vicious black hornet, though the most-often-seen example of one in the series is a stolen fighter operated by the heroes.
    • In "The Peacekeeper Wars", the horseshoe crab–like Scarran fighters, Strykers, and especially the Scarran Emperor's flagship, the sleek, silver Decimator, which actually carried multiple nuclear warhead launchers in its forward spines.
  • Firefly: The Reaver ships in both the series and the film are covered in jagged metal spikes, looking like they were slapped together from scrap metal. The Reavers also enjoy splattering blood like paint on their hulls and stringing half-eaten corpses to their bows.
  • Star Trek series:
    • The Jem'hadar ships averted this, being your basic angular fighter type, but the Breen ships from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were asymetrical (just to be different) flying mashups of sharp edges, blades and spikes with a couple engines strapped on for good measure.
    • The Stealth Romulan Holo-Ship from Star Trek: Enterprise was very spiky indeed, although in this context they might have been signal transmitters. Also, several of the Reptilian-Xindi and Insectoid-Xindi warships from the same series.

    Video Games 
  • EVE Online:
    • Sansha's Nation ships all have numerous large knife blades sticking out from them for no apparent reason.
    • Large Rogue Drone ships (that aren't stolen and repurposed Gallente hulls) have multiple antennae and claws. Some Rogue Drone Carriers also feature a glowing frontal maw.
    • Sleeper Drones are generally much more Standard Alien Spaceship, but they also all have one or two claws.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light: The Lanius spaceships look like large silver blades arranged in a vaguely aerodynamic shape and adorned with bright blue lights. The Lanius themselves also have spikes protruding from their bodies.
  • Warframe: The Grineer galleons have dozens of prongs protruding from their hulls, giving them an appearance of giant insects.
  • Wing Commander series: Kilrathi fighters often have asymmetrical designs which incorporate claw or fang-like curves and points in order to make them more intimidating.

  • Homestuck: Her Imperious Condescension, the supreme ruler of the troll empire, known in her human guise as Betty Crocker (yes, that one), has a starship shaped like the prongs of a trident. The resemblance is deliberate, because she also uses a trident as her weapon of choice. She eventually rebrands the Betty Crocker logo into the same trident, and the human race, unaware of its true significance, just assumes it's a fork.

    Western Animation