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Generation Ships
aka: Generation Ship

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Amos: So the Mormons are going to ride that thing all the way to Tau Ceti, huh? Ballsy bastards. No guarantee there's even a planet worth a damn on the other side of that hundred-year trip.
Holden: They seem pretty sure. And you don't make the money to build a ship like that by being stupid. I, for one, wish them nothing but luck.
Naomi: They'll get the stars. How can you not envy them that?
Amos: Their great-grandkids'll get maybe a star if they don't all starve to death orbiting a rock they can't use. Let's not get grandiose here.

If the laws of physics don't allow Faster-Than-Light Travel, it's going to take a long time to colonize the stars. If you can't get close enough to lightspeed to take advantage of Time Dilation, don't have the medical technology for functional immortality, and you don't want to resort to suspended animation/hibernation or Brain Uploading, no one starting the journey is going to see the destination. Their grandchildren might, or their grandchildren, or theirs. You get the idea.

This doesn't have to wind up as a City in a Bottle, but frequently does, and did in what is perhaps the first story to use popularize this trope, Robert A. Heinlein's "Universe". This is simply the most common failure mode, as it's rare to have a generation ship story in which things don't go horribly wrong, whether technologically, socially, or both.

Generation Ships are great settings for sociological comment: the author has a nice sealed pressure vessel to play out their theories or critique existing cultures.

A Generation Ship is almost always a Starship Luxurious — it's got to sustain the equivalent of an entire ecosystem, whether it does so with rivets-and-bolts machinery or with an actual terrarium-style recreation of a full-fledged habitat, not to mention accommodate hundreds or thousands of people for their entire lifespans without them going mad from boredom and claustrophobia.

Sometimes, a Generation Ship doesn't have a decided destination — it's an interstellar trade ship, connecting isolated colonies or installing the Hyperspace Gateways that will allow FTL expansion and exploitation, in which case the populace are usually Space People. Occasionally, the generation ship will arrive to discover that someone developed an FTL drive while they were en route and the world they were going to colonize already has a few million people on it.

If it's a Colony Ship, expect the residents to be less-than-keen to leave the ship and start a new colony when they arrive at their destination. Will often be a Mile-Long Ship, if not an outright Planet Spaceship.

Contrast Casual Interstellar Travel, where interstellar travel is faster and only takes days.

Has nothing to do with fandom Shipping older and younger characters.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 2001 Nights concludes with Tachyonians setting out on a possibly eternal generation ship voyage.
  • Gundam: The official backstory for ∀ Gundam says that there are no space colonies because they were all converted into Generation Ships and left the Earth Sphere. We get to see the beginnings of this process in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. The Genesis System used at the end of the series was originally created as a laser propulsion/nuclear pulse hybrid engine meant to be attached to colonies to facilitate their exodus from the solar system and thus escape the conflict between Naturals and Coordinators, before Patrick Zara decided to repurpose it as a doomsday weapon and tried to use it to end the war in a more direct manner. In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray, the heroes actually help a neutral colony fix one to use for its intended purpose.
  • The eponymous Sidonia from Knights of Sidonia, one of several massive ships constructed to flee Earth after humanity lost the first war against the Gauna. Contact with her sister ships was lost long ago and they're presumed destroyed by the time the series opens. In the end, the Sidonia's mission is accomplished, establishing a colony on a habitable planet, before it departs to find another.
  • Uniquely, Macross has several examples of faster-than-light generational ships (they can cross the galaxy in a couple of years, but they end up being generational because they have no idea where they're going; the galaxy's a big place to map), with humanity deliberately spreading itself out to avoid species-ending disasters like the one that happened at the end of the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross, with examples including City 7 of Macross 7 and the eponymous Macross Frontier.
  • Megazone 23: The first two installments take place on a colony ship that's returning to Earth after centuries away. The inhabitants think they're living in 1980s Tokyo, the "best time to live" chosen by the computer that runs the ship. They wind up at war with a second-generation ship of people who retained or developed a higher level of technology.

    Comic Books 
  • Earth 2 ends with a Homeworld Evacuation on generation ships after Darkseid successfully takes over the Earth. Their trip only lasts for a short time after Convergence with the discovery of a new Earth-like planet, but most of the ships crash-land on Earth with Terry Sloan, who specifically engineered the flaw of the generation ships, leaving him de-facto ruler over the survivors.
  • In one EC Comics story, a generation ship's crew have a rare trip. There is no mutiny, no critical systems failure. They reach their destination, and it's entirely livable. After exploring a bit (and encountering weather for the first time) they decide that planets stink.
  • Fantastic Four #253 has the FF come across an alien race who have been traveling so long that they have adapted to their ship's artificial environment and cannot survive on a planet. When Reed reveals this to their captain, he doesn't take it well because the religion he follows finds the idea that they are not as their god created them but have evolved abhorrent. He commits suicide when his first mate reveals that the "500" awakened crews to be kept as caretakers were in fact survivors of 20,000 cryogenic sleepers. Incidentally, all the aliens look the same. It's a bit of a surprise to find the first mate is female, the captain's wife, and that her ancestors knew all along but kept it a secret. Ultimately, the next leader decides to keep the truth from her people for the greater good.
  • Judge Dredd's "Dark Justice" story was set aboard a generation ship that had left Earth due to many of Mega City One's elite having had enough of the city after Chaos Day. Unfortunately, the ship didn't make it very far due to the Dark Judges getting on board and slaughtering their way through the crew and passengers.
  • The Legends of the Dead Earth annuals retell the stories of DC heroes from people who have forgotten many details from now-uninhabitable Earth that they left from these ships in their scatter across the universe for a new homeworld. Examples include Batman as a partner of Catwoman and differing accounts of whether Aquaman was a villain or a hero, ranging from a retelling of the stories to Legacy Characters living up to their name.
    • One of the stories taking place on the ships focuses on Tris Plover, who's assigned as an agricultural worker and sentenced to be a fertilizer at age 30 until she joins with Batman as Robin after the discovery that the ship has gone off course. Although she manages to use new navigation data to get the ship on right track, the new course will take at least more than three centuries to reach the journey, and Tris has to turn herself in to the authorities, knowing that she will not be there to see it.
    • In Impulse annual #1, Trace Wyndham was born on a generation colony ship which was travelling to a distant galaxy to create a new civilisation. The crew was specifically selected as the best and brightest that humanity had to offer. However, an unspecified disaster struck. Trace's parents placed him in a lifepod but did not accompany him and were killed when the ship was destroyed. Trace was the Sole Survivor of the tragedy. The pod floated in space for several years until it was discovered by a Dargonian ship and brought to Mtoncanf.
    • In Wonder Woman Vol 2 annual #5, a generation ship was launched from Earth prior to its destruction in the hope of finding a new home. However, a warp field breach severely damaged the ship and the comparatively few survivors were forced to eke out a "pitiful, subsistence life." Over time, they split into two groups. One of the groups became known as the Unremembered, for reasons that they were lost to them. One of their number, AlyXa, later learns that it is because they do not have access to a memory transfer device. After 10,000 generations, the other group evolved into the Ratbats. Neither group had any concept of life beyond the worldship, the name of which had been long since forgotten.
  • The Mighty Thor: The Levians from Thor #256 live on a generation ship and encounter Earth superheroes who request their aid to combat Sporr for abducting many of its people with its Combat Tentacles. Much to the dismay of Thor, Warriors Three, and Levians who slew Sporr, it's discovered to be Good All Along, as its "abduction" was in fact nursing the weak and old in the garden environment.
  • Superman: In the first appearance of Brainiac, after he has shrunken down Earth cities, it is claimed that it will take a century to return to his planet, meaning the descendants of the stolen people will inhabit his planet.

    Films — Animation 
  • Battle for Terra has the last survivors of a massive interplanetary war fleeing the solar system in a generation ship (the Ark) to the Terrians star, at least a hundred year's travel away. The ship has been experiencing more and more frequent fatal malfunctions, forcing humanity to take drastic measures to survive, becoming Invading Refugees.
  • In the Australian satire Go to Hell!! (1997) by Ray Nowland, Corrupt Corporate Executive G.D. builds a space ark to escape the destruction of his planet. He stays in suspended animation, waking every generation or so to keep an eye on things, eventually being regarded as a god. By the time they get to Earth, the crew has become so inbred they're useless to him, so G.D. has to uplift the local monkeys as a slave labor force. You can guess the rest.
  • After Earth is destroyed in Titan A.E., most of the surviving humans turn their ships into this. Fortunately, this only lasts 15 years until Planet Bob (a.k.a. New Earth) is created.
  • The Axiom from WALL•E is one of these, sustaining human life in space after the Earth has become uninhabitable. Subverted in that it wasn't meant to be. The humans were supposed to be aboard for just a few years, while the Wall-E units cleaned up the earth. The Buy-n-Large president, however, deemed the Earth permanently doomed and ordered the Autopilot to keep them in space forever. He turned out to be wrong, but it's 700 years before the first plant life reappears on the planet. By that time the inhabitants have been heavily affected by generations of sedentary lifestyles, although they recover quickly once their routines are broken.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Pandorum, the Elysium becomes this after one of the crewmembers kills the other awake crewmembers, awakens most of the Human Popsicle colonists and tries to play God with them. The colonists turn into ravenous monsters by a retrovirus designed to adapt them to a new environment and live aboard for nearly a millennium.
  • In a baffling non-space example, the train in Snowpiercer becomes one of these, with children born on board. It houses the last survivors of a brutal, global Ice Age, and is powered by a Perpetual Motion Machine.
  • Space Mutiny tries to use this trope, but it doesn't really make much sense since there are Space Pirates and rapid space travel. Presumably, the Southern Sun launched before proper FTL was invented, but that just begs the question of why the mutineers are so bad for wanting to leave, or why they needed to hijack the whole ship to do so instead of hitching a ride on a shuttle.

  • Across the Universe (Beth Revis) is set on a generation ship called the Godspeed, which is on a journey to a habitable planet that will take hundreds of years to complete. While a lot of the colonists elected to be turned into Human Popsicles for the duration of the trip, there was a need for an active crew to perform maintenance. Thus, many generations have lived and died on the Godspeed as it slowly makes its way towards its destination.
  • Aniara is one of the cruelest aversions on record. Aniara was originally just intended for the relatively short jaunt between Earth and Mars, but is forced off-course and takes engine damage, meaning that the ship is forced off into the endless void with no hope of rescue. Most parents Mercy Kill their children when they find out.
  • Andrey Livadny's novel Ark is set aboard the title ship, a Moon-sized (literally, as it is the hollowed-out Moon with engines attached) ship built by humans to fly around the galaxy and collect samples of intelligent life to eventually bring back home. These "samples" were put into special habitats modified to the conditions on their homeworlds, even including artificial suns. There was also a human habitat for the families of the crew. Then an onboard cataclysm killed most of the senior officers and damaged many cybernetic systems, isolating the habitats from the command module and each other. Millennia later, the ship is falling apart with disrepair, as the human descendants have regressed into a near-Medieval state and forgot their origins. The only hope is a boy who has been a Human Popsicle since the cataclysm and is the only one who can regain access to the command module and direct the ship to a habitable planet. The ending reveals a possible Stable Time Loop, as the planet they find is eerily similar to Earth.
  • Aurora (2015) is chiefly set on a generation ship which is approaching the end of its voyage at the start of the book. A major theme of the book is the fact that while the original generation-ship crew may have consented to their risky mission, their children don't get a choice.
  • Bas-Lag Cycle:
    • Non-space example: in Perdido Street Station, the khepri residents of New Crobuzon are descended from refugees who'd fled a mysterious disaster on their native continent. As their ramshackle ships took decades to cross the ocean, and thousands of the refugees died en route, some khepri vessels technically invoke this trope by having only ship-born crew members left on board when they reached land.
    • Another non-space generation ship is Armada from The Scar, which is a floating city built by connecting hundreds of regular ships. It doesn't have a permanent destination and it is not meant to ever reach land (as it is a piratical society) but has a permanent population that has lived in the city for generations.
  • One is briefly visited in Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Ten Thousand Bars.
  • Book of the Long Sun is set within a vast generation ship called the Whorl. It isn't quite a City in a Bottle, because the characters are vaguely conscious that there is an "outside" (the oldest character in the books has some faded memories of living there)... but they have no real idea what outside actually means, and none of them expect to ever experience the outside.
  • In Harry Harrison's Captive Universe, a Generation Ship with a seamless environment is launched: by design the highly repressive, extremely stable Aztec cities onboard believe themselves to be in an inaccessible river valley. The ship tenders are if anything more rigid and religious: an extraordinary asceticism rules their lives and repairs are sacred rituals.
  • In Robert Reed's short story "The Children's Crusade", the eponymous organization creates a simulation of the Mars they wish to some day make. On it, there is a crashed alien generation ship where the organic passengers are essentially cargo, while the robotic crew controls the ship. The organization, backed by AIs, eventually reveals that it intends to launch a similar ship to a star several thousand years distant.
  • Chrysalis by Robert Reed has the last lifeboat of humanity traveling through the galaxy to collect species before they destroy themselves, with immortal robots controlling the ship. It turns out that humanity didn't do such a thorough job blowing themselves up, and those that survived on Earth have advanced far beyond the technology of the ship and spread across the galaxy.
  • One of the main characters in Cloud Cuckoo Land, Konstance, lives in one.
  • Colony: Various systems go wrong (notably the eugenics program determining who is allowed to mate with whom, and the career-allocation system), so the later generations are hopelessly inbred, illiterate and unqualified for their jobs.
  • The planet Martine was settled by one of these in Crest of the Stars and the Abh's original home was one as well before they cracked the FTL issue.
  • Molly Gloss' The Dazzle Of Day is set on a generation ship, the Dusty Miller, populated by Latino Quakers as it nears a system where they could possibly settle. Much of the action of the novel deals with the decision of whether to stop here or go on. Since all decisions are made by the Quaker practice of Consensus, this is a complex task.
  • The aliens known as Monks in The Draco Tavern are implied to be piloting a generation ship — the present crew may not have ever seen the home world.
  • In Empire from the Ashes, the planetoid-class ships have perfectly good FTL that can get them around to most places in less than a year, but they're still set up as generation ships because they oftentimes go on long tours of duty and it's considered necessary for the health of the community to have children born and growing up as they would be on a planet. Of course, being what they are, these ships have crews in the hundreds of thousands and provision for a natural increase up to doubling.
  • Endless Universe, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, is an example of a generation ship planting FTL gates.
  • Ben Bova's Exiles trilogy covers three generations in three books: the first generation on the ship, the ones who finally reach their apparent destination, and the ones who finally reach the end of the journey. By the time they get there, the ship has started to decay, they live in technological ignorance and don't even know they're on a journey or there's anything outside.
  • Domingo Santos' story "The First Day of Eternity" (published in Analog) concerns a ship, the Diaspora 32, that has been traveling for 721 years.
  • In Footfall, the Fithp use a hybrid generation ship to reach Earth: most of the passengers are in stasis, but necessary maintenance and piloting is carried out by successive generations of crew. The result is a significant culture clash between the 'Shipborn' and the defrosted original generation ("sleepers").
  • The concept turns up a number of times in Robert A. Heinlein's Future History continuity:
    • Orphans of the Sky has the massive generation ship Vanguard, whose inhabitants have forgotten their origins and fallen into barbarism, yet the ship still functions after centuries of neglect (albeit with an assist from Cargo Cult maintenance procedures). Guess they don't make them like they will have used to. An excerpt indicates the ship was specifically designed in a way that minimized the amount of automation and moving parts, thus reducing wear and tear and extending the functional lifespan of the ship.
    • The New Frontiers from Methuselah's Children was a Generation Ship which was later upgraded with a FTL Drive. It was in fact a sister ship of the Vanguard.
    • In Time Enough for Love, there is a throwaway paragraph indicating that the ship from Orphans had been found, lifeless due to eventual social decay, but the descendants of that story's protagonist were found alive on a nearby planet when the ship's course was backtracked.
  • In Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, the protagonists Waverly and Kieran are some of the first children successfully conceived in deep space. They live on a ship called the Empyrean with hundreds of other children and families. The ship has been traveling for over 40 years on its journey to populate a distant planet.
  • Hayven Celestia has generation ships that carry stargates, the krakun live long enough to see the end of such a voyage but prefer to crew their gateships with shorter-lived slaves subject to extreme Population Control measures while they themselves commute through the gates.
  • In Honor Harrington, the generation ships remained a chief way of human Diaspora way after the Faster-Than-Light Travel was invented, for Hyperspace remained a scary place for several centuries before they found a way to safely navigate it. The habitable planets were prospected by the daredevils with far more spunk than common sense, betting their lives on a chance they don't meet the Negative Space Wedgie on the way; while the settlers themselves moved far more safely and sedately in the slower-than-light ships, first as generation crews, and later as Human Popsicles. The protagonists' world of Manticore took about 600 years to be settled since the launch of the colonization ships, in which time the colony trust managed to Lightspeed Leapfrog them to supply an already prepared bootstrap colony for them.
  • In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy, the Jacob's Ladder is a generation ship on a multi-century journey to colonize another planet. It covers its bases by having a living ecosystem with crew members that are born and die en route in addition to holds carrying frozen sleepers. The society on the Jacob's Ladder has regressed to a quasi-medieval feudal system that considers the ship's fragmented AI to be angels on one side and a quasi-city known as Engine on the other, who are at war. And though they have developed technologies that allow them to technically live forever, they are only made accessible to the Exalts of the House of Rule, while everyone else is a Mean and not worthy of it. Additionally, large parts of the ship had broken down and stopped to function, making travel between Rule and Engine extremely difficult and leaving parts of the ship to fend for themselves. The last book not only reveals that the feudal system was intentional and the ship was originally launched by religious fanatics whom nobody else on Earth wanted anything to do with, but also that technology has marched on. When the Jacob's Ladder finally arrives at a habitable planet they find it already colonized by other humans, who also consider the inhabitants of the ship to be fanatical aliens because their technology has changed them so much from their ancestors.
  • Ted Reynolds' novella Ker-Plop features quite possibly the ultimate example: the ship in question was sent out by a previous (human) galaxy-wide civilization to colonize one of the Magellanic Clouds, and is now returning. It's the size of a (dwarf) planet, has its own gravitational field, and (as the protagonist eventually realizes) contains a population nearly equal to the total population of the galaxy, since it's inhabited in three dimensions rather than just on the surface, as with habitable worlds.
  • In Lilith's Brood, the Oankali travel on these (also a Living Ship) as they go from world to world making genetic trades.
  • The Mayflower Ark in Orson Scott Card's Lovelock is a low-key example: time dilation means that it will arrive at its destination within the lifetime of (most of) its original inhabitants, but the voyage is still long enough that some births are expected en route.
  • Lucifer's Star has an unusual example: while Faster-Than-Light Travel exists, starships are so large and meant to last so long than people can be born, grow up, serve, and die on a starship without leaving it save at ports for shore leave. Entire families identify themselves by their ship's name.
  • Mirabile is set on a colony world settled by a fleet of five generation ships. That's all backstory, and the ships themselves don't actually appear, but there are occasional references to events from the trip (like one of the ships losing most of its population to a disease epidemic, which the colonists are still worried about a possible recurrence of).
  • In Non-Stop, a plague on a generation ship reduces the passengers to barbarism: they lose all idea of who they are or even what a spaceship is. The bioengineered plants go into overdrive, turning the ship into a jungle, increasing the sense of obscuration and isolation. The reader's first clue as to what's going on is when the jungle turns out to have bulkheads.
  • On the Edge of Gone takes place immediately prior to the launch of a generation ship, exploring the ship's construction and resources while contemplating who deserves a ticket into outer space after an apocalyptic event on earth: how much life can the ship support, which individuals earn a place aboard, and ultimately what the ship's destination and purpose should be.
  • On the Steel Breeze: Humanity launched about a dozen converted asteroid ships towards a distant Big Dumb Object with a few million occupants. Though the journey takes 200 odd years and several generations of people are raised onboard, it isn't strictly necessary; Longevity Treatment make 200+ year lifespans a piece of cake, and cryosleep units are available to "speed up" one's journey, though there are not enough to have the entire population frozen at a given time.
  • Orthogonal takes place in a universe where physics is different and Time Dilation works in reverse — the faster you travel, the more time passes from your perspective. The protagonists, seeing an oncoming disaster that they don't have the technology to prevent, build the Generation Ship Peerless so their descendants will have enough time to develop Sufficiently Advanced Technology to Save the World, while only four years pass on the homeworld.
  • Bernard Werber's "Le papillon des étoiles" (in English, Star Butterfly) focuses on a generation ship that, over time, forgets its original purpose and origin. The generations eventually rediscover violence and weapons, civilization devolves into a middle-age-esque tyranny until, by the time the ship reaches its destination, only 5 people are alive on the ship, and only 2 manage to leave it safely.
  • Paradises Lost, by Ursula K. Le Guin, focuses on the generations who grow up on the ship. Likewise, Stephen Taylor's opera based on Paradises Lost.
  • In Paradox, the Pelted left Earth on a fleet of generation ships. On board, they segregated into the various cultures and races that came to comprise the Alliance after the discovery of Faster-Than-Light Travel a few centuries after they reached their destinations.
  • Common FTL travel powerful enough to at least get around one's own galaxy makes these relatively uncommon in the Perry Rhodan universe, but they're not unknown. Ships (and space stations) intended for really extended missions, such as some undertaken by mortal helpers of the setting's Powers That Be, may be designed to fit the trope, and suitable vessels have turned into this purely by accident, as happened to the SOL when its cosmic odyssey dragged out longer than expected and the shipborne generation started to have their own ideas about what uses their 'home' should be put to. Stretching the definition of "ship" to the limit, a major significant example would be the cosmic swarms, literally mobile star clusters whose multi-species 'crews' quite naturally were born, lived, and died on the worlds orbiting said stars while going about their assigned task of aiding the spread of intelligence throughout the universe.
  • Harlan Ellison's Phoenix Without Ashes is set on one of these. Originally a screenplay for a sci-fi miniseries, it was later expanded into a novel by Ellison and author Edward Bryant, and has recently been adapted into a comic book miniseries. The story is set in the Ark, a massive cluster of self-contained biospheres several thousand miles long. Each biosphere hosted a different civilization completely isolated from the rest. At the time of Ellison's story, the Ark had been in space so long that the individual civilizations had forgotten they were in a ship; and the Ark itself had been damaged by collision with an asteroid and was slowly failing. The television show was supposed to have been a series that featured different writers creating stories for each of the individual civilizations after Ellison's pilot. Originally intended for ITV/ITC, it was picked up by the Canadian subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, but according to Ellison, they were completely incapable of dealing with the sheer scope and nature of the project. Executive Meddling eventually altered the project so much that they ended up with an In Name Only version that eventually aired under the title The Starlost.
  • The title species in Quozl seek out new habitable worlds in these.
  • The title vessel in Rendezvous with Rama superficially appears to be failed example of these in the original novel as there are no apparent inhabitants in the vessel. The characters speculate that all of its inhabitants died off during the vessel's hundred-thousand-year journey through space, leaving some pre-programmed robot systems in operation, although the robots are biological in nature and are created denovo whenever needed and recycled when not needed so there is no reason to believe the 'inhabitants' are not also made-on-demand. The sequels reveal that they aren't intended to be generation ships (as they can accelerate to relativistic speeds) for travel but are merely prowling the cosmos to find the perfect life forms. They end up being generation ships anyway, because the Myrmicats at least are reproducing aboard them, and eventually, so do the humans and octospiders. Since the trips take some time to get to all the solar systems on a given voyage and return to the node, some aliens inevitably reproduce aboard. When the stranded humans did this, they were provided for by the spaceship, with extra food, and eventually requisitioned cribs.
  • In the Revelation Space Series novel Chasm City, the planet of Sky's Edge was settled by 5 (only 3 made it) generation ships traveling at 6% lightspeed. At least four generations pass by on the ships, and resource shortages cause animosity and eventually a cold war towards the end of the journey, which upon colonization breaks out into a full-blown war. The main character manages to survive most of the journey and beyond thanks to a longevity treatment. Sky's Edge has been in a near constant state of war since then, making it a popular shipping destination for high-tech weapons produced in more advanced systems.
  • In Norman Spinrad's Riding the Torch, the remains of the human race in its entirety had to leave Earth after a nuclear cataclysm, flying Bussard ramjet ships ("torchships") in search of a habitable planet. Slowly they use the resources gained from the void by Bussard engines to develop an entire civilization under the guise of an ever-expanding fleet of torchships.
  • Ringworld has probably the most extreme example — the Fleet of Worlds is the Puppeteers' entire planetary system converted into a generation ship to flee the galaxy. The Pak also did this with when they colonized Earth and the Ringworld itself. In addition to that ultra-long journey (half a million years), the Pak have ships that would be generation ships for a species with less incredible lifespans — Phssthpok flies a ship for 1200 years (ship's time), alone.
  • The backstory of The Saga of Seven Suns involves 11 generational ships sent out into space. None of them reach their destinations, however. Nine are found by an alien race who use their FTL technology to take them to habitable planets. Another ends up colonizing whatever asteroids and other non-terrestrial environments they can find becoming Space Gypsies. The other one is assumed to be lost until it is discovered that the supposedly friendly Ildirians that rescued the others kept the last one to do breeding experiments with and have been raping generations of human women to experiment on their hybrids.
  • The short story "Schism", set in the Elite universe, examines what happens when a homegrown Cult Colony inside a Generation Ship that has been out of contact with human civilization for centuries encounters another derelict vessel in the void of space.
  • In Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth's Search the Sky, Generation ships (called longliners) are used to carry messages and trade between planets. They're pretty horrid: while they don't quite forget their mission, the people on board end up suffering mental retardation (It's not too clear why. Inbreeding or a lack of intellectual stimulation?), and they're kept from overpopulation by massive infanticide. But every place in that book is in horrible shape: it's a horribly Darker and Edgier world before it was popular.
  • Second Genesis by Donald Moffitt has a Living Ship called Yggdrasil that takes a journey between galaxies; it would normally be called a generation ship, but its inhabitants have discovered immortality, and so a few centuries of relativistic travel is not much of a burden.
  • Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo is set on one of these, which has been in space for so long that everyone has forgotten about the original plan. They keep trying to land and settle without success.
  • The short story "Shipwright" by Donald Kingsbury is about a generation ship whose captain uses a time-stretching field to live for "centuries" while generations toil and die on the ship itself; the society comes to worship him eventually.
  • In Slow Train to Arcturus by Eric Flint and Dave Freer, most of the ship consists of misfits people wanted off Earth in their own sealed habitats, including neo-Nazis, Space Amish, radical feminist genetic engineers, Native Americans, extreme sports enthusiasts, and North Korea. A Plot Tailored to the Party follows with a message about needing each other to survive (well, at least needing everyone except for the neo-Nazis and the leaders of the North Korean group). The neo-Nazis turn out to have descended into not only barbarism but cannibalism. Unfortunately, they're the first habitat the alien protagonists attempt to enter; fortunately, they accidentally vent their habitat to space afterward, and a blend of people from the other habitats re-colonize it. The Amish had (intentionally) forgotten they were in space, but the others knew what was still going on.
  • The novel The Star Seekers by Milton Lesser depicts a coming-of-age quest on board a generation ship which has turned into four separate societies in the centuries since it left "Urth".
  • Star Trek:
    • In The Galactic Whirlpool, the Enterprise discovers a generation ship launched just before the Last World War, whose inhabitants have — surprise surprise — forgotten their origins and descended into barbarism.
    • A short story in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series features a generation ship whose passengers didn't forget their origins and descend into barbarism but were deliberately put in Medieval Stasis by the race that launched the ship, as apparently this was supposed to make them more likely to survive on a newly colonised world. This was a bit of a problem, because something had gone quite badly wrong with the guidance systemnote  and it was now in very real danger of performing a Colony Drop on a populated planet in the Klingon Empire. Thankfully, it turns out that people who actually knew how to operate and maintain the ship had been put aboard in cryosleep, and once the joint Starfleet/Klingon Defence Force mission woke them up the situation was resolved.
    • The TNG-era novel The Last Stand deals with two sets of these (one of which is in the backstory). However, neither descends into barbarism. The Enterprise arrives to a planet after detecting a warp test. The planet is inhabited by the Lethanta, whose ancient records indicate that their ancestors have escaped from a world far away, devastated by Orbital Bombardment, and arrived on asteroids converted into sublight evacuation ships. The Enterprise then detects an armada of sublight ships in the system. As it turns out, the ships belong to the Krann, the race responsible for devastating the Lethanta homeworld. Their own homeworld (in the same system) was hit by a plague, which they assumed was designed by the Lethanta as punishment for the Krann throwing off the Lethanta yoke earlier (Crusher later proves that the plague was natural), which is why the Krann fleet bombarded the Lethanta homeworld with cobalt bombs. Realizing that some Lethanta have escaped, the equally homeless Krann have sworn to follow them to the ends of the universe and finish them. Since they didn't know where the Lethanta went, they spent centuries going from star to star, searching for their enemy and building up their fleet for a final confrontation. While the Krann did not degrade into barbarism, most have forgotten their origins and the purpose of the journey. The average Krann worker doesn't know who the Lethanta are, that they once lived on a planet, or that they're at war. The Krann military leaders, though, know everything. The end reveals that both races are on the verge of developing warp travel. Apparently, this would make the Krann an instant superpower thanks to their large fleet, despite the fact that their tech is nowhere near what Starfleet has. After the war is stopped, and the two races agree to live in peace, one of the Krann leaders sends the arrested dictator along with a small portion of the fleet after the original Lethanta asteroid ships, which were secretly sent with a group in case the Krann succeeded. The leader is skeptical that the peace will hold (too many generations of hate), and is determined that, should the inevitable war resume, none of the Lethanta survive.
    • The Rihannsu series has a few courtesy of the titular Rihannsu (or Romulans, as the Federation calls them):
      • The first group are the ships they built to find a world where to live without Surak's reforms. As they stay clear of known inhabited world (their navigational data coming from pirate ships that tried and failed to subjugate Vulcan, so the Rihannsu assumed any inhabited world on the map would be populated by hostiles) they have a very hard journey, and only a handful of ships reach the Twin Worlds to colonize them... At which point part of the crews elect to stay on board, becoming the Ship Clans and playing an important role in Rihan politics until the ships fall apart to lack of maintenance.
      • The second group is the ships of the Lalairu, a neutral nomadic species that at times offers to host diplomatic meetings against enemies, maintaining the parlay under threat of annihilating whoever fires first. At the RV Trianguli meeting between the Rihannsu and the Federation, the Rihannsu react to Ael's arrival by trying to arrest her... And discover the hard way the Lalairu were fully willing and capable of enforcing their threat.
      • A third group comes from Rihannsu of mostly Ship Clan descendant, who reacted to the increasingly oppressive ways of their government by building new generation ships and escaping to space. Massively armed generation ships, given they fully expected to have to fight their way away from the Rihan Grand Fleet, and fully capable of playing a decisive role when the Rihan Civil War breaks out.
  • In Tau Zero, the Leonora Christine is only supposed to take 5 years of time (relative to the passengers on board) to reach Beta Virginis. It becomes a generation ship, though, when its deceleration unit breaks down.
  • In Terre en fuite (in English, Fleeing Earth), the Nested Story reveals that the people of the Second Civilization of humans (after most of us die out in another Ice Age) discover that the Sun is about to go nova. Since they can't build enough ships to fit everyone from Earth and Venus (terraformed and settled), they instead decide to move both planets by building giant "space magnets" at the poles. The original plan is to move them to the Outer Solar System, hide behind Jupiter, and return once the Sun settles down. However, they discover that the Sun will not return to its yellow dwarf state after the explosion and have to move to a new system. Thus, both planets become giant generation ships, although the interstellar journeys only take several decades thanks to the "space magnets" accelerating the planets to 80% of the speed of light.
  • The action in "Thirteen for Centaurus" by JG Ballard takes place on a generation ship, but not really — the main character figures out it's all a scam when he sees supplies being trucked in.
  • Time for the Stars: The Lewis and Clark is out long enough for some of the crew to marry and have children, despite relativistic time dilation causing only a couple years to pass on board.
  • In The Tomorrow Log by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, a Generation Ship has actually forgotten that it was supposed to colonize a planet and has become a flying Cult Colony.
  • The Ur-Example and possibly the Trope Maker here is Don Wilcox's 1940 novelette "The Voyage That Lasted 600 Years", told from the perspective of a Keeper of the Traditions who is supposed to go into hibernation and be revived every one hundred years to check on how society is progressing and return it to the proper path if necessary. It started the venerable trope of the ship's crew forgetting about their goal and regressing civilizationally.
  • Simon Hawke's/Nikolai Yermakov's The Whims of Creation is set on one, generations after humanity has left the Earth That Was.
  • The Winemaster by Robert Reed has a Buick being used essentially as a generation car. The transhuman/posthuman residents are so small and live so quickly that an hour in real-time is like a year to them; several generations go by in the trip from a northern state into Canada.
  • The Xeelee Sequence novella Mayflower II is set on a fleeing generation ship bound for a satellite galaxy 25,000 years away; at .5c, the trip will take fifty thousand years. A crew of nigh-immortal "pharaohs" rule over the "transients" (colonists with normal human lifespans). As the ship drifts through space and time, the society of the transients breaks down as the pharaohs slowly die off, devolving into little more than chimps with reflexive ship maintenance habits. The story is dark, chilling, and an excellent one.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda:
    • The Magog Worldship. The Arcology also appears to be one of these. While it's technically, a space station, it is equipped with a (very ancient) slipspace drive.
    • Another episode dealt with part of the crew ending up on the Bellerophon, an ancient generational ship launched by Earth centuries ago to "to gather knowledge of life and civilization to go farther and deeper into space than anyone had ever gone before". The ship is so old that it doesn't even possess a slipspace drive, relying instead on massive engines that accelerate it to near the speed of light, with the consequences of such a design being a major plot point for the episode.
  • Ascension (Miniseries) takes place aboard a starship intended for a 100-year voyage, launched in the 1960s. Except that it doesn't. The whole thing is being faked on Earth as a huge, elaborate experiment. The reasons for this are poorly explained, but seem to be an attempt to somehow force the next step in (super)human evolution. Also serves as something of a deconstruction, as the people currently aboard the Ascension, which is halfway through its fake journey, have to deal with the fact that they — thanks to a decision taken by their parents and grandparents — were all born aboard the ship and will all die aboard it, never going anywhere else or meeting anyone new, their lives essentially serving only to provide for the eventual settlers once they arrive. At some point in their lives, pretty much everyone goes through an existential crisis as a result. The ""Truman Show" Plot" experiment is also deconstructed in one of the sub-plots, as the leaders of the organization have come to believe that this is Awesome, but Impractical at best. This leads to the leader of the Ascension compound to do anything necessary to protect his experiment and his part in it — including cold-blooded murder.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Ark" has the title spacecraft serving as both a generational ship for its crew (of both humans and subservient aliens), and as a Human Popsicle-stand for the remaining billions of humans and subservient aliens, since a ship that could carry both species in their entirety would've been far too massive to build (or move).
    • "The Beast Below" has the entire United Kingdom (minus Scotland) on a single spaceship, searching for a new home after the Earth becomes uninhabitable. The discovery of just how this massive ship is travelling through space with the engines apparently off forms the main mystery of the episode. And the Doctor claims it is just one of many, with each country building their own ship. The others are just not shown.
    • "World Enough and Time"/"The Doctor Falls" has an example of things having gone horribly wrong before the planned voyage even began. A Mondasian generation ship was on its shakedown cruise when it became caught in the gravity well of a black hole. The crew members who went from the bridge at the front to the rear part of the ship to try to soup up the engines became trapped by massive Time Dilation effects along the length of the ship, bred, and created a culture which eventually, under the effects of social degeneration, increasing environmental degradation due to technical failures, and possible manipulations by the Master, turned themselves into Cybermen in what may be a new official origin for the culture.
  • Earth☆Star Voyager is about teenagers chosen for a twelve-year space journey to the planet where, together, they will restart the human race.
  • It appears that the 'Verse was colonized by these in Firefly.
  • The Orville: "If the Stars Should Appear" has a ship that was meant to carry three generations of its people to the nearest planet, but an ion storm disabled the engines and the ship drifted through space for over 2000 years until being discovered. Its inhabitants completely forgot their origins.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "A New Life", the members of Father's religious community are unwittingly the first generation of humans to travel aboard a huge generation ship belonging to a group of alien merchants. It will take 500 years to reach the aliens' destination where their descendants, who will number approximately 100,000, will be sold into slavery.
  • Terra Venture in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy was intended to be a generation ship but monster attacks and visiting a hostile Pocket Dimension cut its journey much shorter. They managed to reach an inhabitable planet complete with Human Aliens within a year or so.
  • The Red Dwarf housed a breeding population of life-forms descended from a single pregnant cat for about 3 million years, long enough for them to evolve sapience and build their own arks to leave.
  • As the journey to the new planet in Silversun would take many years, most of the crew were adolescents and teenagers, so that there would be at least some crew still around when they got to the planet. A lot more people are in cryogenic stasis.
  • In the Space: 1999 episode "Mission of the Darians", the crew of Moonbase Alpha responds to a distress call from a 20-mile-long ship on a 900-year voyage. They discover that an accident a century earlier has wrecked most of the ship and its passengers have reverted to barbarism, except for an elite who are keeping themselves alive by using the others for transplant surgery. The ship provides a good example of an Endless Corridor.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate Atlantis has the Travelers, a race of space nomads who live entirely on self-built ships in order to avoid being culled by the Wraith. Despite their strict population control, they don't have the resources to build new ships anymore and were forced to abandon some people on planets where the Wraith culled them. This was why they kidnapped Sheppard in their introductory episode: they found an Aurora-class Ancient battlecruiser and needed his ATA gene to get it operational since the ship could carry thousands. They lost one of their ships in the battle above Asuras and with the Replicators gone, they settled on a planet... then the settlement and the Aurora was nuked in the final season when their Stargate exploded.
    • Stargate Universe:
      • The Destiny could be seen as a generation ship, in that it not only took the resources of an entire generation to build but wasn't even boarded until over a million years after it launched. While it is a ship on autopilot and flies through FTL, the scope of its mission is so large that the Ancients who built it could not have hoped that they or their children would be alive to see that mission to its end.
      • The Novus civilization, founded by the crew of the Destiny over 2000 years before the crew actually encounters Novus (long story), dedicated its resources to building a fleet of ships for its millions of citizens so that they could evacuate their dying world. They will reach their destination in a few hundred years (in stark contrast to the 10 days Destiny needs to cover the same distance with its FTL).
  • The Starlost takes place on a huge generational ship with different biomes sealed off and having forgotten it was a ship. Ben Bova and Harlan Ellison wrote books about the Executive Meddling and the Novelization.
  • Star Trek:


  • Dimension X: In episode thirty-one, an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's "Universe", a generation ship was constructed in its own orbit beyond the Moon over the course of 60 years. It was launched on a mission to colonize Centaurus but a mutiny led by Huff resulted in the ship going off course. The successive generations have forgotten their original history.
  • Earthsearch: The Challenger is a low-key version of this trope; rather than a colony ship, it's a survey ship to find new worlds for humanity to move to en masse after the sun threatens to go nova. Although it's also a Sleeper Starship, a year in suspended animation means the crew ages one month, so this trope is still necessary. The Angel computers however decide to kill off the crew and raise the next generation under their control so they will be subservient to them. In one episode they also encounter the Challenger II, where the crew over the generations broke into two warring societies, with one refusing to believe that the outside universe exists and regarding Earth as their equivalent of Heaven.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS: Spaceships has the uses the traditional concept for the Universe and Endeavor. The third ship is the Magellan which carries 20 thousand people in luxury at FTL speeds, allowing for ridiculously long trips.
  • In Lancer, humanity managed to send out ten massive generation ships just before suffering a total collapse of Earth-based civilization, leaving their fledgling colonies stranded and starving. So far, three have been mentioned — one starved to death before reaching its destination, one arrived just fine and became the Karrakin Trade Baronies, and the last arrived late and became the Aun. Ten thousand years later smaller ships capable of approaching the speed of light are commonplace and used to reach systems light-years from the Portal Network.
  • Metamorphosis Alpha is set on one of these. It was reworked later as the Amazing Engine setting book "Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega".
  • Starfinder features the Idari, a colony ship that departed for the planet Akiton in the Golarion system. However, it departed before the advent of Drift engines, so by the time it got to Akiton, the planet's natives were too technologically advanced and culturally integrated to simply colonize the planet. So instead, the Kasathans piloting the ship just parked it in solar orbit, treated it like a space station, and petitioned to join the Pact Worlds. Unlike Absalom Station, the Idari has stayed a Kasathan enclave instead of turning into a melting pot, but free travel to and from the ship is permitted under Pact Worlds law.
  • The jump drive in Traveller makes these unnecessary, but several races used them to make colonies before they discovered the drive, and there are a few adventures that involve encountering one from a previously uncontacted race.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Most of the larger human vessels, even if they already have warp drives, qualify. If you have mixed-gender crews aboard ships that stay in service indefinitely, and many have service records going back hundreds if not thousands of years, "voidborn" navy brats are inevitable. The bigger ships become a self-containted society unto itself, and some ships even have problems with small civilizations growing on forgotten or unfrequented decks.
    • The craftworlds of the Aeldari are Planet Spaceships created from large interstellar trading vessels to act as generational refugee ships. These massive vessels have no destination in mind as they are independent colonies in their own right and, depending on the lore, have little to no faster-than-light capabilities. In many circumstances, they don't even need it, as they serve as a minor hub of the the webway, and many boast fleets of their own.
    • Orks tend to treat space hulks as this, happily piling in when they find one with no idea where or when they might have a chance to get off again. Given the nature of the Warp, hulks' lack of direction, and the fact that orks spawn by dying and will happily turn on each other if there's no one else to fight, many generations can easily pass during travel.
    • Possibly true for the Tyranids as well, which appear to have traveled from another galaxy. However, most of the ground troops are simply created from scratch when the fleet nears a target, and the majority of the remainder hibernate. Only a select few 'nid monstrosities, the Tervigons, are awake for the journey.

  • Parodied in one Australian play in which the crew of a Generation Ship fall into barbarity and think that the Human Popsicles are the equivalent of frozen food. When the last remaining colonist wakes up early, he's not too impressed.
    "You mean to tell me you've eaten all the great scientists and engineers who were going to build this new world? Didn't anyone protest?"
    "Of course they did. But we ate them anyway!"

    Video Games 
  • In Chaos Rings III, Theia has been home to the only known humans alive for the past one thousand years. Theia was originally one of many ships designed to evacuate the planet Marble Blue when a planet-eating monster called "the Entity" arrived, but it was unable to escape the planet's orbit after the Entity deemed Marble Blue too dangerous an environment for its egg and laid it on Theia instead, leaving it stranded. Unable to carry out its original purpose of finding a new home for humans, Theia was repurposed to be that home.
  • Building one of these and sending it to Alpha Centauri is one of the ways to win Civilization.
  • Civilization: Beyond Earth has the majority of the factions arrive to the planet in Sleeper Starships with the exception of Al Falah, a Middle Eastern faction, who sent out their ships before reliable Human Popsicle technology became available, knowing that those departing would never see their new home. Instead, they resolved to prepare the future generation for the hardships of settling an alien planet. On the plus side, the generations of focused teachings have bred out any centuries-long animosities between tribes and races, leaving a single goal — success (hence the name of the faction, which means "our success"). The flavor text even mentions that the leader of Al Falah, Arshia Kishk, used to take spacewalks from her ship the Golden Shah during the journey before becoming pregnant with her daughter. Apparently, it was a pilgrimage of sorts. Arshia is from the fifth generation, since the departure from Earth.
  • According to the manual, you can occasionally run across these in the original Elite; however, that's the only place they exist in that game. In the expandable remake Oolite, on the other hand, you can really run across them with the right OXP.
  • Elite Dangerous adds generation ships (and other 'mega ships') in the 2.3 Multicrew update. So far, every generation ship discovered has been lifeless for centuries; however, a large number of systems were successfully colonized and the ship disassembled. It should also be noted that they kept making generation ships even after the invention of Faster-Than-Light Travel, they just bolted into the ship for even greater range.
  • Homeworld has this in the backstory: when the Hiigarans were exiled, the entire civilization was packed into a fleet of identical FTL-incapable generation ships that crossed half the galaxy on sublight until the last four or so reached Kharak. Some of them broken off and became the Kadeshi, a society who camped out in a nebula and gave everyone they met a choice: join or die (the ship is plundered and destroyed in both cases). By the time their distant siblings who made it to Kharak found them, the Kadeshi were religious fanatics who worshipped the nebula and talked in a Creepy Monotone. Oh, and according to the Expanded Universe, they were also albinos. One of the generation ships is still floating in the center of the nebula, unmanned and slowly spinning in place.
  • In the backstory of Infinite Space, the Magellanic Clouds were settled by generation ships from the Milky Way. The remains of one form a towering ruin that resembles a Space Elevator. It also contains the means to access the Overlords' databanks and work out how to foil their plans to wipe out the universe.
  • The titular Marathon colony ship is a generational ship. The Martian moon Deimos was converted into the Marathon and sent on a 300-year journey to Tau Ceti.
  • The planet Enroth in Might and Magic VI, VII, VIII and Heroes of Might and Magic I, II and III was, as found out it Might and Magic VI, colonised via generation ship (an oddly Egyptian-themed generation ship).
  • One of the factions in Pandora: First Contact, a group of environmentalists called Terra Salvum, did not have the funds to buy a proper Sleeper Starship from the Noxium Corporation. Instead, their sympathizers in the corporation stole the plans for a ship and built their own. However, they lacked the proper experience and scientific knowledge to equip it with reliable cryo-pods. Instead, they ended up going with this trope. The trip to Pandora only lasted several decades, but improper radiation shielding in most of the ship's areas resulted in the premature deaths of the adults. As such, only their children (born aboard) reached the planet alive. They're even more fanatical about protecting the planet from human exploitation than their parents.
  • The entire world of Phantasy Star III takes place on one of these. Ships like it were basically planetary escape pods, sent out when Parma exploded. Didn't go too well, though — some got lost, some were caught in the explosion and destroyed. Later, in Phantasy Star IV, the heroes find the wreckage of one such ship that was crippled in the escape and suffered the nasty fate of getting stuck in a decaying orbit around Motavia.
  • In the backstory for PlanetSide, the Terran Republic launched several generation ships before they learned how to force open wormholes. Contact with the generation ships was lost several years after launch.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri shows that everyone aboard the Unity was actually a Human Popsicle for the duration of the journey.
  • In Wild ARMs 5, the Veruni spent most of the 10,000 years they wandered for a new home on their ship, Locus Solus. By the time the Veruni have settled on Filgaia the ship itself is considered by many of the Veruni to be their homeland, and they revere it to the point of calling the ship Mother.
  • In WildStar, Exiles live onboard these ships, with elements of Sleeper Starship, who are being chased by the Dominion for 300 years until the discovery of Nexus.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Analogue: A Hate Story, a generation ship named Mugunghwa was sent from Earth in the 24th century to colonize other worlds. One day it vanished, only to reappear as a lifeless derelict millennia later. You are hired and sent to the ship to find out what the hell happened for it to end like that. The sequel Hate Plus reveals that its navigational AI was destroyed by a rebellion less than half a millennium into the ship's voyage, thus ensuring that the Mugunghwa would never reach its destination even without Hyun-ae's intervention.

  • The history of the Aquaans in Harbourmaster only goes back as far as their life on one such vessel, prior to their discovering humanity (which already had Faster-Than-Light Travel).
  • Unity is set on a generation ship several million years in the future.

    Web Originals 
  • Alis Volat Propriis is about one of these. It stops off at multiple planets/moons to create multiple colonies to deal with population problems.
  • Bosun's Journal: The Nebukadnezar is a generation ship originally intended to carry human settlers to Gliese 514, and built to house an immense self-sustaining internal system and with each of its four rotating cylinder habitats large enough to hold a small nation's worth of colonists. It missed its target, and, being unable to efficiently maneuver itself in deep space, was doomed to drift through space forever. Its sheer size and hardy systems were capable of saving its passengers due to being stable enough to endure indefinitely with sufficient maintenance, and over the ages it essentially becomes a bottled, enclosed world of its own. An advanced civilization develops within and rules for nearly three hundred thousand years; after it collapses due to a terrible war, the ship's cavernous interior and life support systems become home to thriving ecologies of once-human animals, even as the ship's steady course carries it out of the Milky Way altogether. Eventually, after the reemergence of sapient life, it's retrofitted for true, permanent space sailing and becomes a nomadic island-world traveling through intergalactic space.
  • Journey to Alfahsfere: A generation ship was partially damaged during an attack by pirates in the Oort Cloud. After thousands of years, the inhabitants of one sphere regress to a hunter-gatherer existence.
  • Orion's Arm: A few early colony ships were these, but smaller and faster sleeper ships had a tendency to reach the destination systems earlier. They're currently used as mobile habitats, freighters, and wormhole layliners.
  • Para Imperium: The initial Colony Ships from Sol to the systems that later became the Core Worlds of the Federation were crewed by teenagers at the time of launch who were well past middle-age when they reached the closest star systems. By the time Alpha Centauri had re-established interstellar travel they had developed immortality and a Portal Network but children are still often born on starships.

    Western Animation 
  • Used in the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "Lord of the Sands". The descendants of an Earth sleeper ship had crashed on a desolate planet and formed a tribal civilization roughly seventy years earlier. Something had wiped out the adults, so the tribe was mostly comprised of adolescents — led by a rogue Crown Agent.

Alternative Title(s): Generation Ship