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Missing Mission Control

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Mission Control is a helpful character who provides the main character with valuable information during a mission. The main character can usually count on them for help when they feel like they're stuck in a corner. But what happens if the Mission Control is killed, kidnapped, or otherwise incapacitated? Suddenly, the main character's on their own, and is likely to be completely in the dark without their guidance. This is highly likely to happen in more cynical stories. Naturally, there is a lot of drama to mine in this situation.

If the main character also resents the Mission Control for sitting in a comfortable office while they risk their necks, this can lead to instances of Harsher in Hindsight, and can also lead to the main character developing a strong sense of guilt. If they are kidnapped, there will probably be a Story Arc later on revolving around rescuing the Mission Control character.

If Mission Control Is Off Its Meds, however, the main character may consider this a blessing. See also But What About the Astronauts?, where the Mission Control is missing because everyone in the world is dead.

Obviously, a Sub-Trope of Mission Control.

WARNING: This trope is usually spoileriffic by its very nature, so do not read the examples if you are not a Spoiler Hound.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Later on in Last Exile, Claus and Dio return to the Silvana after a successful mission and try to contact the bridge...only to find that no one is responding. Turns out that Maestro Delphine, the charmingly sadistic leader of the Guild, has pulled an All Your Base Are Belong to Us on them and is waiting...
  • In episode 7 of Valvrave the Liberator, the last thing L-Elf Karlstein does before his coup d'état is take out Hollywood Hacker Akira. When another student notices that the alarms have failed to sound during Karlstein's attack, the camera cuts to Akira Bound and Gagged in the control room.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The jammed communication between Dredd and Mission Control is a key plot point in the movie.
  • Pretty much the central factor behind the plot of Crimson Tide: the USS Alabama suffers a radio equipment malfunction while in the middle of receiving a high-priority message: The crew does not know whether their orders are to launch their nuclear missiles or to abort, and The Captain and the Commander Contrarian end up unable to agree on their next course of action.
  • Tansy, the poor air traffic control operator in Kangaroo Jack. After she locates the main characters (who are stranded in the desert after a plane crash), she gets taped up and gagged by the villains, who then destroy her equipment so she cannot send help for the heroes. The heroes simply believe that Tansy was disconnected due to some equipment failure.
  • In Vantage Point the baddies take out Mission Control which greatly helped to carry out the attack.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the episode "Penelope" of Criminal Minds, the team's Mission Control Garcia is shot and hospitalized. The rest of her FBI team has to try to catch the attempted murderer without her. However, they do have a stand-in who is not nearly as skilled or quick as Garcia.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "Chains", Hana is kidnapped while trying to help a young girl in peril at a rest stop, and the task force is forced to try and find their computer genius, without the aid of their computer genius.
  • On Leverage, a few times the team have to do without Hardison's hacker skills due to him being in danger or missing his equipment, and things get seriously hinky. Also inverted in "The Long Way Down Job" where Nate, Eliot and Parker are out of range.
  • In the Season 1 finale of Person of Interest, this happens when Finch is kidnapped by Root, aka Caroline Turing.
  • In one episode of Quantum Leap, Sam accidentally changes the past so that Al never joined the Quantum Leap Project, so he has to do without Al's help while he tries to put things right.
  • In Supernatural, Garth goes missing at the end of season 8 and is no longer able to help out the hunter community.

    Video Games 
  • Used as a plot point in Batman: Arkham City, where Oracle, your unseen guide from the first game, has mysteriously gone missing. This leads to Batman's butler Alfred having to take over for her.
    • Not really a "plot point", more like "she was doing some stuff, brb. Alfred, it's you and me.". In the comics, that happens often. Barbara is a Voice with an Internet Connection to many other characters, not just Bats.
      • Batman: Arkham Knight features a straighter example as Oracle is kidnapped by the titular villain after the level in Ace Chemicals. Similarly Lucius Fox mysteriously goes silent at one point in the game leading to a side-mission He is being hostage by Hush.
  • In Borderlands, the "Angel" loses contact with you when the Echo network is shut down (or rather can no longer see you and is having to send its messages blind). You have to get the network back online ( which conveniently brings you to where she was guiding you to).
  • The mysterious benefactor in Depict1 loses the ability to communicate with you after the first few levels. They come back for the endgame, though.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo: Combat Evolved, this happens when John leaves Cortana in the Control Room while he goes to find Captain Keyes.
    • Ditto for most of Halo 3, after John leaves Cortana in High Charity at the end of Halo 2. This time, Cortana's also off her meds.
  • Dan in Iji becomes unavailable twice: once in Sector 5 and 6 (communications failure), and again in Sector 8 (kidnapped). The second time also ends with his death if you aren't Crazy-Prepared. Also an Harsher in Hindsight example, since Iji initially expresses annoyance that she's the only one risking her life.
  • In Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and Tony Stark are directing the player character remotely. Two of them are kidnapped at one point in the story and the third runs things alone for a while until the others are recovered.
  • In Mass Effect, the Citadel's control tower crew are killed by Saren and his Geth forces during the climactic mission.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the Normandy arrives at the Citadel to find themselves unable to reach any of the traffic controllers, this time due to a Cerberus sneak-attack. In this case, the character who normally gives the Normandy clearance is back at her post later in the game.
  • Massmouth 2: Trooper, your mission control, is discovered by the Big Bad and—despite trying to move to a "safer broadcasting spot"—you soon see him captured and killed before your very eyes.
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: When Samus takes a portal from the hot part of Bryyo to its icy part, she loses contact with Aurora Unit 242 aside from some very garbled audio transmissions. It's not until she returns through the portal that a worried 242 can contact her again.
  • Zig-Zagged in the final mission of Mirror's Edge: Faith's original Mission Control Merc dies of a gunshot wound in the opening cutscene, so she sets off to storm the Shard on her own. Mid-mission, however, she meets Lieutenant Miller, who guides her through the more tricky parts of the building before being cut off (captured or worse) by the PK, so Faith has to go on on her own again.
  • In The Nameless Mod your handlers cannot reach you while deep underground or during the horror-based mission on each route. You can get a substitute in the first instance (though you may not want to) but in the latter cases you are alone (save for the mad AI in one of them) to increase the sense of isolation.
  • PAYDAY 2: Bain is kidnapped by The Illuminati at the end of the Reservoir Dogs Heist, and Vernon Locke becomes the gang's Mission Control in all heists released afterwards. Even when the the gang gets Bain back, Locke keeps the role as Bain has only days left to live.
  • In Perfect Dark Zero, Joanna arrives at the Trinity Labs and is unable to contact Chandra. She's been a mole for a long time and sent Joanna to a death trap.
  • In Persona 5 Royal's third semester, all the Phantom Thieves besides Joker are unable to perceive the new Palace at first, including Mission Control Futaba. During the first few Palace visits, Token Evil Teammate Akechi takes over as navigator, and their dialogue is just as darkly hilarious as you'd imagine.
  • Leon loses contact to mission control (and by extension, the entire outside world) in the second chapter of Resident Evil 4, as his enemies hijack his line. Leon is unimpressed and takes the opportunity to mock them whenever they call, pushing The Dragon into a near-Villainous Breakdown with the ungodly force of his snark.
  • In Splatoon, after defeating the third boss, Cap'n Cuttlefish ends up getting captured by the Big Bad, forcing you to clear the next level without any guidance. Afterwards, Agents 1 and 2 (A.K.A. the Squid Sisters) show up and act as your Mission Control for the rest of the adventure.
  • In the Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Lambert serves as mission control most of the time on behalf of Third Echelon, while Dufraisne occasionally does the same for the JBA. During the penultimate mission, Lambert turns out to have been kidnapped by the JBA for posing as an arms dealer and his role is filled by Third Echelon Director Tom Reed for the rest of the game.
  • Unreal II: The Awakening has a mission where you go out of radio range from Aida at the beginning. This leaves you with no guidance for the rest of the mission (which is a rather creepy one, too). Aida later dies at the end of the following mission along with the rest of your crew, however.

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The crew's vehicle breaks down later in the story, and the radio is rendered useless as well in the process. They technically have a back-up plan in the form of the Talking in Your Dreams system the mages can use, except that the mage on Mission Control's side is basically comatose from helping out long distance earlier in the story, thus hindering his capacity to communicate with the other members.

    Western Animation 
  • Several episodes of Code Lyoko have XANA take over someone to get Jeremie away from the computer.
  • On Kim Possible, rival heroes Team Impossible spiked Wade's computers to rob Kim and Ron of their mission control, thus gaining the upper hand—until Wade emerges from his room for the first time ever, his Berserk Button fully engaged:
    Wade: You spiked my system! NOBODY... SPIKES... MY SYSTEM!
    Ron: (To Team Impossible) Dude, now you're so over I don't even wanna be around you!