Carol Danvers: There are a lot of planets in the universe, and unfortunately they didn't have you guys.
While most superheroes are earthbound, there are those who travel the spaceways, fighting evil and protecting the innocent. These characters have many of the defining traits of any other Super Hero: costumes, codenames, powers, rogues galleries, secret identities, etc. The difference is that their adventures take place away from Earth and involve Space Opera elements: aliens, spaceships, strange worlds, sci-fi weaponry, etc. Keep in mind, an Earth-based hero who ventures to space from time to time is not an example because Earth is still their primary base of operations. At the same time, while superheroes who fit this trope sometimes venture to Earth, their primary base of operations is outside Earth's orbit, so they are still examples.
The reason behind why these heroes decide to fight evil in space can vary. Some of these heroes are aliens who simply don't live on Earth, some are a part of the Space Police, and others are from the future where space travel is much more common. The important thing to remember is that these heroes are not earthbound. In short, they are superheroes in space.
Compare with Captain Space, Defender of Earth!
- Battle of the Planets (not so much the original Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) features a team of superheroes in bird-themed suits of Power Armor and ships, fighting evil across the spaceways.
- Dragon Ball:
- Dragon Ball Super features a team hailing from Universe 11 called the Pride Troopers participating in the Tournament of Power. They're basically a Sentai team with members drawn from all over their native universe.
- Earlier in the series, Frieza's spacefaring flunkies, the Ginyu Force, were a parody of Sentai teams, despite being villains. They were big on striking dramatic poses.
- Darkhawk is a space-based superhero complete with a secret identity and powers who has Power Armor built by Space Pirates. After War of Kings, he began adventuring completely in space.
- For Green Lantern, once the Silver Age rolled around, Hal Jordan became the new Green Lantern and the concept was revamped as a group of Space Police (the Golden Age version was more magic-based). Hal was given a costume, power ring, and used his new identity to patrol his sector of space, fighting evil.
- The Guardians of the Galaxy are a team of super heroes based in space, many of which are aliens or at least non-human. There have been two versions: one set in the future where space travel is common, and another set in the current 616 Marvel Comics universe that used to operate in the far reaches of the galaxy, far away from Earth. Nowadays they stay close to earth to protect it from the horrors of outer space (and have some adventures on Earth too).
- The Inhumans are a race of superbeings that either live on the Moon or in deep space, depending on the era, and often fight evil alien races or help the superheroes of Earth when they go off-world. What's interesting is that wearing masks, capes, and elaborate costumes and giving themselves superhero-like names such as Black Bolt is common to their people. Their tradition of adopting a new name and career after gaining abilities from their Mutagenic Goo, the Terrigen Mists, parallels the superhero tendency of adopting a new identity after gaining powers. In-universe, it also predates the era of superheroes by tens of thousands of years.
- Legion of Super-Heroes is probably the first superhero team that fits this trope. They are a futuristic team of teen super heroes who operate in space. They are deliberately invoking this trope on themselves, as well. Their costumes and code names are chosen based on their admiration for Earth's 20th-century "Age of Heroes."
- New Gods, like the Inhumans mentioned above, are a race of superbeings who live on their own planet and have many adventures in space. Like the Inhumans, it's common for them to wear superhero-like costumes and give themselves superhero-like names such as Mr. Miracle. Both the New Gods and Inhumans were created by Jack Kirby who liked to mix alien races with superheroes.
- Nova is a member of the Xandarian Space Police, which gives him certain powers and a nifty costume. His membership with New Warriors ended when his duties as a space-based hero took him away from Earth.
- Silver Surfer is an alien superhero who lives in space since he no longer even has a planet. He was given powers and a new identity by Galactus in order to find worlds to devourer and has been atoning for his crimes by fighting evil ever since.
- In X-Men, space-based super teams Starjammers and Imperial Guard (based on Legion of Superheroes) have been frequent allies and enemies when they were in bad moods.
- Captain Mar-Vell from Marvel Comics spent a large part of his time in space, and was in fact a Human Alien. He was a superhero from the Kree race who loved Earth enough to fight against his own people to protect it.
- Quasar like Captain Mar-Vell before him was the Protector of the Universe and spent a great deal of time literally protecting the universe.
- Infinity Watch was a team of space-trotting superheroes that spun-off from the The Infinity Gauntlet story arc. They were led by Adam Warlock and had many members who would later join the Guardians of the Galaxy.
- Nexus is a human who was Touched by Vorlons in the far future.
- Superman's Bronze Age Friendly Rival Vartox was the defender of the planet Valeron — at least until it was destroyed.
- The Bronze Age Starman, Prince Gavyn, was similarly the greatest hero of his alien world. His series received a Fully Absorbed Finale in the pages of DC Comics Presents, Superman's team-up title.
- Obscure DCU hero Ultra the Multi-Alien defends the spaceways in some future era.
- The Omega Men are, for the most part, a much darker take on this than usual as most of them are quite far from heroic by the end.
- The Valkyries from Stand and Deliver (Star vs. the Forces of Evil) are a quintet of heroines who hail from different parts of the universe that right wrongs throughout the universe.
- In Kara of Rokyn, Supergirl begins operating in planet Rokyn permanently.
- In A Prize For Three Empires, Carol Danvers spends several years operating in space after joining the Starjammers.
- The entire setting of The Unfantastic Adventures of Bizarro No. 1 is a weirdly-shaped planet known as Thrae, where Bizarro lives and operates.
- Guardians of the Galaxy is the movie version of the above comic entry as they are space-based, super-powered beings who gradually turn into superheroes by the end of the movie. The leader even demands to be referred to by a superhero name, Star-Lord.
- Prince of Space: "Your weapons are useless against me!"
- The Jedi from Star Wars are a Space Police organization consisting of Warrior Monks armed with Laser Swords and Psychic Powers; with their mission being to fight and defeat their archenemies the Sith, along with battling various other warlords and criminals across the Galaxy.
- Power Rangers in Space qualifies. They still technically have lives and identities linked to Earth, but they spend a copious amount of time searching the galaxy for their mentor.
- Doctor Who could be considered a Not Wearing Tights version of this. The Doctor is a monster-fighting alien genius with a machine that can go anywhere in time and space, although Earth tends to feature heavily.
- The Galactic Champions sourcebook brings this trope into the Champions Universe setting.
- A handful of the characters in Sentinels of the Multiverse are spacefarers.
- In one timeline, KNYFE, after stealing a ship to pursue the retreating head of a marauding alien monster, enjoys the extraterrestrial lifestyle so much she makes it a full-time job.
- While the prime wardens are earth based, they spend most of their time in space, only on earth when space stuff comes to them or there's magic stuff. Captain Cosmic, however, is the only member who hangs out in space on the regular in his solo series. Parse did this for a time, too.
- Star Power is a more traditional Space Opera universe than most examples. It's the distant future and humanity has spread to several planets, and the heroine is empowered by an ancient being as the newest (and last) of the Star Powered Sentinels who wield stellar energy to defend the galaxy from evildoers.
- Space Ghost:
- The original Space Ghost was this before he moved to [adult swim]. He was a superhero who fought crime in outer space and had a pair of teen sidekicks.
- When Space Ghost was revived in the 1980s as part of the anthology series Space Stars, he often joined a trio of super-powered teens called Teen Force, consisting of super-fast Kid Comet, shapeshifting Moleculad, and psychic Elektra.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (TV cartoon spinoff of Toy Story) is him kicking baddies in their asses across planets as a member of the Space Police.
- The 1986 cartoon Silverhawks had a team of "partly metal, partly real" superheroes protecting the Limbo galaxy from the villainous Mon*Star.
- Another 1986 Space Police cartoon is Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. The Rangers have brain implants that enhance their abilities, and they protect their galaxy from an entire Rogues Gallery of villains.
- Filmation's version of Mighty Mouse made him this for its "Mighty Mouse and the Great Space Race" episodes.
- The Brown Hornet, eponymous hero of the Show Within a Show from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.