Follow TV Tropes


Space Cadet

Go To

For the Robert A. Heinlein novel, see Space Cadet (Heinlein). For the virtual pinball table, see Full Tilt! Pinball. For the science fiction timeline, see Space Cadet (Rvbomally). And for those of you who came here looking for the term's idiomatic meaning, that's a Cloudcuckoolander.

"And if I'm dismissed from service, who will defend planet Earth?"
"I believe Corbett is available."
"Tom Corbett?" said Proton in disbelief. "That space cadet!"

A Discredited Trope from the early Pulp Magazine days of media science fiction (peaked in the 1950's in movie serials and TV shows), involving a hero who was part of an organization that handles law and order in outer space, much like in a Western... in space. Frequently, the titular Space Cadet was a child or teen who was a new recruit or a sidekick to an older hero. May be the equivalent of Walking the Earth with isolated outposts and frontier planets; especially strange when the Kid Hero seems not to have a family at home. His training place would be the Space Cadet Academy. His great goal in life is to someday become Captain Space, Defender of Earth!. These days you're more likely to see Space Police.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Audio Dramas 
  • In the story record for Atari's Asteroids, the first act consists of space patrolman Jim Stanton doing a lot of Expo Speak banter with an eager young space cadet. Oddly, the cadet vanishes from the story after the second act for no obvious reason.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Space Cadet (Heinlein) is notably interesting for being perhaps the Ur-Example, and showing what modern readers will easily recognize as a cell phone in the opening pages. It inspired the creation of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's earlier story Misfit also fits the trope, and makes the inspiration from the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps more explicit.
  • The Complete Adventures of Lucky Starr: David "Lucky" Starr is a young member of Earth's Council of Science, and is in his early twenties. Rather than being a sidekick, he has one in the form of John Bigman Jones, his unofficial buddy in their quest to keep the solar system safe for the average citizen and foil the plots from the Sirian colony.
  • The Norby Chronicles: Jefferson Wells is a cadet at Space Academy, training to become a member of Space Command. He purchased Norby to be a teaching robot, who was made an Honorary Cadet for helping to defeat a terrorist. Norby tries to teach Jeff school subjects the normal way, but they keep getting drawn into interstellar, pan-dimensional, and Time Travel adventures instead.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Harrington herself in the novella "Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington".
    • The Star Kingdom: Stephanie Harrington and several of her friends are Probationary Rangers with the Sphynxian Forestry Service. Sort of a Reconstruction of the trope, as Stephanie was made the first such Probationary Ranger to justify the Forestry Service keeping tabs on her to keep her out of trouble.
  • The first of The Ship Who... stories was published in 1961. The partnered brainships and brawns in the Courier Service are not specifically associated with law and order, but fly between colonies making vital deliveries, transporting personnel to emergencies, trying to evacuate endangered colonists, and along the way encounter some of the kinds of things Space Cadets have to address, usually while complaining that they are not "spacerangers".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Tom Corbett: Space Cadet. Tom and his companions Astro and Roger Manning, are all cadets on a training ship. The series would go on to become a franchise in radio, comic strips and novelisations.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • AAA was visited by "Los Cadetes del Espacio" tecnico stable in the 1990s. Abismo Negro, Maniaco, Mosco de la Merced, Histeria and March-1 got together and formed Los Rudos de la Galaxia in an attempt to get rid of them.

  • Son of Cliché with their sci-fi spoof "Dave Hollis: Space Cadet". The underlying but underdeveloped theme of the last living human lost in space was later re-used; many of the gags from SoC were later recycled into Red Dwarf.

    Western Animation