Mission to Zyxx is an improvised science fiction comedy podcast following the adventures of Ambassador/Emissary/Zima Knight Pleck Decksetter (played by Alden Ford), security officer Dar (Allie Kokesh), the android C-53 (Jeremy Bent), and their artificially-intelligent ship, the Bargarean Jade (Moujan Zolfaghari), in the remote Zyxx quadrant. They're typically dispatched on their assignments by Junior Missions Operations Manager Nermut Bundaloy (Seth Lind).
Many of the other characters, such as the clones known as C.L.I.N.T.s are played by cast member Winston Noel. Most episodes also feature a special guest (or several guests), playing characters of their own invention.
After a bitter civil war where the Galactic Monarchy was overthrown and succeeded by the Federated Alliance, ambassadorial teams were dispatched throughout space to initiate diplomatic contact with unknown planets and species. Pleck Decksetter leads one such team, a job he got basically by walking off the street into a recruitment office on his home planet.
Each season ends with a dramatic finale that reshuffles the political context, often invoking character development or callbacks. Somehow the crew and their mission remain largely the same.
Mission to Zyxx provides examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: A few examples.
- IQQ's Sex Gun fires raw sexual energy.
- Kor Balevor explains that his limbs were simultaneously amputated when a starship ran out of ammo and started firing cybernetic replacement parts. He got hit with a spare torso directly in his torso.
- Affectionate Nickname: The Bargarean Jade is "Bargie" to the crew, C-53 is "C", and Dar likes to call Nermut "Nermie" when they're flirting with him.
- Ambiguous Gender Identity: Dar's gender is as fluid as the plot requires.
- …And That Little Girl Was Me: The series finale reveals that the Narrator is a grown-up Horsehat, and the Podcast was a bedtime story for Beano.
- The Artifact: Pleck starts the show as the crew's Ambassador and semi-official leader (since C-53 and Dar are explicitly to aid his missions). He is later changed to Emissary (same job, different boss) before becoming obsessed with a Zima prophecy to fulfill a specific task. After he succeeds in the season three finale (for a certain definition of success) Pleck has no official position on the ship and no guiding objective; for most of season four he's just hanging around.
- Artificial Human: The CLINTs are clones designed for combat with several "upgrades" including absence of genitals, a detachable edible pinky finger, three livers, and a butt-gun.
- Ass Shove:
- In "The New Norm", Dar cheats to win the eating contest by stuffing their chutes and flaps with hot dogs.
- All CLINTs keep an emergency backup firearm. It's very warm.
- The Assimilator: The K'hekk are an insectoid hivemind race that assimilate other beings by laying eggs in their eyes to take control of them.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Frequently referenced. Dar's biology is the most frequently explored, what with all their chutes and flaps and such.
- Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Dar's species can juck literally anything (see reconfigurable genitalia under Exotic Equipment), and the process can trigger asexual reproduction in themselves.
- Boy Band: According to "Brihx or It Didn't Happen" AJ used to be in CLINT-SYNC. Naturally he was the Bad Boy.
- Butt-Monkey: As the frail and incompetent Token Human, Pleck is the target of abuse from his nonhuman coworkers, weird alien guest stars, and planetary environmental hazards.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Inevitable, in a science-fiction setting where almost all of the set dressing is made up on the fly. Highlights include Brethian roulette, garfons (feathered bird-like creatures that lay eggs and can be breaded and fried for sandwiches but are definitely not chickens), and aggneg (a thick egg-based drink consumed on holidays that is definitely not eggnog).
- Catchphrase: From AJ at the slightest provocation: "Let's lock and load, people!"
- From C.L.I.N.T.s in general we have "Get down on the ground!" "Keep your head on a swivel!" and some variation of "I'm the best at X."
- Cerebus Retcon: In the first episode Pleck accidentally shoots Dar during a hasty retreat. Though they're not badly injured it showcases both Dar's tough-guy status and Pleck's rank incompetence. "The Daming of the Crew" reveals that Dar actually died there and was replaced by a time-travel duplicate.
- The Chosen Many: The Zima scrolls designate many specific individuals for many specific individual tasks (such as the Chosen One for cleaning up the camp on Zima Prime).
- The Chosen One: The Trope is poked fun at with the introduction of the Zima Knights and the reveal that Pleck is The Chosen One. He really is, but the Zimas have a lot of Chosen Ones, and Pleck is just the One who's been Chosen to do one very specific task.
- Clones Are People, Too:
- Cloned Light Infantry Nomadic Troopers, or CLINTs, are very prideful and individualistic, with deep-running rivalries and are very insistent about having their own particular talents (or, more often, other CLINTs having specific deficits they have to make up for). Non-CLINTs don't typically see the differences, though it's usually easier to humor a CLINT than trying to convince him he's identical to all the others.
- Escaped CLINT AJ tags along with the crew and develops as his own character.
- Common Tongue: Almost everyone in the galaxy speaks Regular. Exceptions include Flarn (which speaks Weird) and Juntawa (which speaks Juntawa).
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Bargie wears one as a disguise to compensate for her active locator beacon.
- Crazy Cultural Comparison: The show's bread and butter. Approximately 70% of the jokes in a given episode revolve around either pointing out oddities in the guest star's behavior, or inverting the trope by pointing out ways that this supposedly-bizarre alien is in fact more civilized and mature than the crew (Pleck in particular is usually the butt of this type of joke).Pleck: If a horse breaks its leg, you just kill it.
Dar: What happens to a Tellurian when they break their leg?
Pleck: They go to the doctor.
Shataina: Why wouldn’t you treat them the same?
Pleck: I mean, I’m not a horse doctor, so I don’t know, but I’m just saying—
C-53: Oh, so now you’re saying there are horse doctors, and yet you still kill the horses. Very nice, Pleck. Very nice.
- Credits Gag: Across the fourth season the opening crawl describes the Allwheat with a different metaphor each episode, including "like if the sun hated you" and "a black hole really hitting bottom".
- Eating Contest: Dar is challenged to one in "The New Norm" to establish diplomatic relations.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The CLINTs are militant clones who commit genocide on a moment's notice. They are raised by Ms. Janelle Fitzmeyer, who loves each and every one of them and is adored in return.
- Exotic Equipment: Dar's genitalia can be configured to best pleasure any given partner. What exactly's going on down there is never described in detail.
- Eyepatch of Power: Pleck tries one to look cool. Later he needs it, after losing the eye.
- Eye Scream: The K'hekk lay an egg in Pleck's eye. Over several episodes his eye grows to four times normal size before eventually hatching.
- Fantastic Drug:
- Dust, a very illegal drug whose effects aren't entirely clear and seem to vary depending on who's doing it. Droids can do dust because it has a technological component, according to C-53.Pleck: How does [dust] affect you?
C-53: I just don't work very well for a while. [...] You wouldn't think that's fun, but it is.
- Hyper-proton fuel is a very powerful and expensive fuel which allows ships to fly much faster than normal. Ships can handle it just fine, but it's basically meth for droids.
- Dust, a very illegal drug whose effects aren't entirely clear and seem to vary depending on who's doing it. Droids can do dust because it has a technological component, according to C-53.
- Farm Boy: Pleck's family back on Rangus 6 grows grass for Zy-ball fields. He originally signed up with the Alliance because his parents pushed him to get a job and he didn't want to be a farmer.
- Fun with Acronyms: Nermut's job title catches a few jokes, especially when he's promoted to Temporary Emergency Emissarial Negotiations Missions Operations Manager.
- Functional Addict: Sammo and Wink are two extremely skilled operatives for the Rebellion who are high on Dust in every appearance.
- Gag Penis: An extended amount of time is spent discussing the size of Nermut's genitals. His junk is two inches long, which sounds hilariously tiny until Nermut reminds everyone that he's 19 inches tall.C-53: Junior Missions Operation Manager Nermut Bundaloy, I've been thinking about your genitalia—
- Heart Drive: Droid C-53 has a cube that contains his consciousness. He swaps his cube to various frames over the course of the show including a battle droid, a forklift, and a humidifier.
- Heist Episode: Season 2's "Pro of Cons", where the team infiltrate a party to swipe a valuable target.
- Hilarious Outtakes: Included in every episode after the closing credits.
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Nermut and Dar have an ongoing flirtation, which is interesting because he's a shy, bookish iguana-sized lizard-bird creature, and they're an assertive, empowered massive hulking being full of chutes and flaps.
- Hypocritical Humor: Timmis the intelligent germ protests that its life is undervalued because it is smaller than the crew. Timmis wears clothing fashioned from smaller germs, whose lives it does not value because they are smaller than Timmis.
- I Can't Hear You: C-53 can create "zones of silence" that render specific individuals incapable of hearing the crew's conversations, allowing them to have asides during the show. Other times the specific individual interrupts said conversation by merely walking up into range.
- Insistent Terminology:
- Zima warriors train to use "woodsabers" in combat. Everyone else just calls it a stick.
- CLINTs never dance, but sometimes do tactical footwork.
- Kangaroo Court: "Pump Up the Justice" follows an in-universe courtroom reality show. Proceedings are governed by dramatic reveals and commercial breaks, and the outcome is driven not by evidence but by the audience voting by phone-in.
- La Résistance: at least two.
- According to the first season opening crawl the Galactic Monarchy was overthrown by one to create the Federated Alliance.
- Past that point the Rebel Alliance (represented chiefly by Rolphus Tiddle and Seesu Gundu) continues to oppose both the Federated Alliance and later the Empire.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Ads during the show are typically read as intercepted transmissions from leaders of the Rebellion against the Federated Alliance, often at less-than-appropriate times such as the middle of a distress call from a crashing spaceship. That might've just been a fun conceit, until in one episode where we meet Centurion Tiddle, and C-53 identifies his father as Rolphus Tiddle, Rebel commander and underwear salesman.
- Leet Lingo: In "Jennifer's Bargie", the Bargarean Jade is forced to change her identity to escape her creditors. She goes with "B4RG13".
- Lethal Lava Land: Muftala Secundus, a lava planet and the prison of evil Zima Kor Balevor.
- Like Parent, Like Spouse: C and Pleck note that Dar's parent Dad and Dar's partner Nermut share some characteristics like loud Hawaiian shirts and a penchant for corny jokes.
- Loophole Abuse:
- As an ambassador team, the crew is forbidden from carrying weapons on missions... except for Dar's ion cannon, which they've filed as spare droid parts since it was originally part of a droid's body when they got it.
- Nermut attempts to negotiate a nonaggression pact with a tornada, his race's traditional predators. When the tornada claws the bottom line, Nermut sucessfully argues this constitutes a legally binding signature.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Given the sci-fi format it was bound to happen.
- One is wielded against the crew in "What Happens On Magnifiku" with the specific objective of seducing one of them.
- Being consumed by "The Magnificent Kevin" channels this experience on a pure emotional level.
- Make a Wish: The most powerful entity in the universe offers one wish to whoever unlocks its power. Turns out that's Beano, and it grants a wish in the season 2 finale.
- The Man Behind the Curtain: "Brihx or It Didn't Happen" reveals that galactic pop star Brihx is really a puppet controlled by their choreographer, who happens to be a roboticist.
- Manchurian Agent: All Alliance droids have a program called the Quontoran Override that causes them to lose control of themselves and immediately vaporize any Rebellion members they happen to come across. The crew discovers this when C-53's Quontoran Override is activated upon meeting the son of Rebellion leader Rolphus Tiddle.
- Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: For episode "Innerpaste" AJ cleans his helmet air filters, in the process massacring a civilization of intelligent germs. He immediately tries to shift the blame.
- Mile-Long Ship: The Delegator, flagship of the Federated Alliance.
- Mr. Exposition: C-53 typically fills this role when Pleck has entry-level questions about what's going on, given his encyclopedic knowledge of most things a droid could know about. Played doubly straight in season one, as part of C's job is to prepare expository reports regarding planets and cultures that the ambassador team will be visiting. Pleck never reads these reports.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: The Juntawa language consists entirely of the word "Juntawa" with various tonal emphases. Non-native speakers who attempt it inevitably enrage native speakers with their rudeness. Amusingly, Pleck manages to deliver a very emotional performance of a Juntawa script in "Sea World According to Gerp".
- No Such Thing as H.R.: The Alliance's horrific treatment of its employees is a recurring plot point in season one.
- After a mission that goes spectacularly poorly, Nermut informs the team that they are suspended without pay until further notice and hangs up. He then calls back ten seconds later to inform the team that their suspension is over, as the duration is apparently randomized every time. They could have theoretically been suspended for decades.
- Missions Operations Managers are denied rations during their annual performance review. When it's Nermut's turn, he nearly dies of starvation because the person reviewing him happens to be on vacation. The crew has to call a medical team to stabilize him, and even then he's only allowed food again once his review is complete.
- As punishment for allowing someone to remove his restraining bolt even though it was a hallucinatory sequence and didn't really happen, C-53 is forced to spend an indeterminate amount of time attempting to pick up a small marble that is perfectly shaped to slip from his fingers every time he manages to grab it. Nermut considers this to be a punishment for himself as well, since he has to sit and watch until it's over.
- Pleck is punished for using dust on the job via Operation Six, which isn't described in detail but sounds a lot like C-53 mildly electrocuting him. The punishment backfires when Dar and Bargie think it looks fun and ask C-53 to do it to them too.
- Of course the same people who hand out these punishments are also an evil empire, so sometimes their employees are straight up executed. Nermut is supposed to be one, fortunately the crew comes to his rescue.
- Noodle Incident: C-53 has some heavy emotional history with a boat captain that he refuses to discuss. The audience finally finds out what happened in the second-last episode.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: At the end of season one, the Council of Seven come to the conclusion that the crew are actually incredibly clever rebel spies, and their abysmal track record and penchant for jucking up every mission they're sent on is actually a method of avoiding suspicion.
- Obviously Evil: Kor Balevor is discovered on a lava planet in a castle bound by chains of pure Space and has spent his imprisonment teaching crows to screech intimidatingly.
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Council of Seven, seven best friends who run the Federated Alliance. An episode late in the first season gives the audience a glimpse into how their meetings typically go.
- Once per Episode: C-53's recitation that there is "An incoming transmission from Junior Missions Operation Manager Nermut Bundaloy," even after Nermut makes it clear he's sensitive about still being a Junior Missions Operation Manager. The gag continues into future seasons, though the exact wording of C-53's announcement changes to reflect both Nermut's current occupation and the occasional switch to a different caller.
- Once a Season:
- Pleck's Zima master, Papa Derf, appears in one episode each season, at the end of which he dies violently.
- The second-to-last episode follows someone other than the crew.
- Parody: While all sorts of scifi gets skewered, the setting is mostly a spoof of Star Wars.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Rock the Pote" the crew has to hide their alien appearances on a planet that has not yet discovered space travel. Hulking Dar chooses to wear only a fake beard.
- Passed-Over Promotion: Nermut has been a Junior Missions Operations Manager for several years. Protocol requires JMOMs to be automatically promoted to Missions Operations Manager after six months. Even the Council of Seven is confused by this, but they think Nermut's done it on purpose to cover his tracks as a Rebellion mastermind.
- Planet Spaceship: The most devastating ship in the armada is the Planet Crusher, big enough to crush a planet. It is exceeded by the Planet-Crusher Crusher, big enough to crush a Planet Crusher.
- Planet Terra: They use the older Tellus for Earth while humans are Tellurians. Similar to Doc E.E. Smith in his Lensman novels.
- Punch-Clock Villain: The CLINTs will follow lethal orders without question, but AJ proves that if you can get them out from the chain of command then they're happy-go-lucky dummies along for whatever club will have them.
- Really Gets Around: Dar has a personal goal of jucking at least one member of every species they encounter. Their list of partners is already in the hundreds when the show starts.
- Rebel Leader: The Rebellion is led by commanders Rolphus Tiddle and Seesu Gundu. Rolphus hires the crew to work for the Rebellion in season two, and Seesu is a continuing presence over several seasons (if always on the far end of a commlink).
- Repressed Memories: AJ can memory-wipe himself at will and does so repeatedly during "The Daming of the Crew".
- Restraining Bolt: All Alliance droids are equipped with one. The bolt prevents them from accessing or discussing memories of their lives before the Alliance, hinders their ability to form preferences and opinions, and instills in them a great loyalty to the Alliance and an overwhelming desire to destroy the Rebellion. C-53's causes him a great deal of mental strain until he loses it when his frame is destroyed on Klongtdt.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Zima warriors traditionally wear a bathrobe and carry a fighting stick ("Woodsaber!"). Pleck completes the look with sandals, cargo shorts, and an eyepatch.
- Running Gag:
- The Federated Alliance Identification Card, or FAIC (pronounced "fake"). The traditional reaction upon confirming that one is valid is a dubious-sounding, "Hm, that's a pretty good FAIC."
- Pleck never reads the pre-mission briefings and handouts that C-53 prepares for him, to C-53's increasing consternation.
- The episode summary for every season's finale is "Nermut gets a promotion."
- Bargie spends the majority of the first season struggling to remember Nermut's name and title. She still can't remember it well into season two.
- Beano wuv [x].
- Any time Pleck mentions the Space in seasons one and two, expect a chorus of groans and annoyed comments.
- Whenever the crew is given an opportunity to drink, Pleck orders an orange beer. He has yet to actually receive an orange beer, as something always happens to deprive him of it.
- Every version of the opening narration states that one of the crew's goals is to "meet weird bug creatures and stuff".
- Russian Roulette: B-69-420 suggests the crew play a game of Brethian roulette with his ion cannon. He promptly dies when the first shot destroys his cube; the crew tells Nermut that his death was a suicide so they won't have to fill out any paperwork.
- Sanity Slippage: Pleck undergoes this across season four due to his The Artifact status and a telepathic intrusion. Symptoms include following conspiracy websites and caching shrimp around the ship.
- Sapient Ship: Bargie is both a spaceship and a member of the crew, apparently as an AI inseparable from the hardware. Tiny Toots is another. Judging from the Crews' Line dating service such ships are common but not universal.
- Sidekick Creature Nuisance: Beano across season two, who demands constant feeding and attention or else BEANO GO INSANE.
- Similar Squad: Ambassador Turk Manaked's team includes protocol droid D-20, security officer Parka/Anorak, missions operation manager Merle, sentient spaceship Tiny Toots, and team mascot Squeegee.
- Stating the Simple Solution: In "Plastic? Oh No, Banned" the crew is burdened with an overly complicated orders during a mission to disrupt Ted Ronka's political campaign.C-53: The plan is this. Seesu sent this along and it's spent pretty much our whole trip here printing out. It's very comprehensive.
AJ: That's a pretty thick binder.
C-53: Yes it's very, very thick. In fact I'm still sort of getting through the—
AJ: Beat him in the head with the binder. Okay, let's do this.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: In an early episode the opening narration explains that the Federated Alliance has replaced the Galactic Monarchy.Announcer: It's definitely an improvement. Totally not a lateral move.
- Swallowed Whole: A tornada eats Nermut, but he survives the journey intact.
- Talent Contest: Oddly, more than once.
- "Dead Subquadrant's Got Talent" sees the crew put one on to alleviate the boredom of immortal omniscient Dodecahelen.
- Another in "Rock the Pote" where the crew is blackmailed into helping one entrant in a local contest.
- Taught by Experience: It's easy to miss due to how glacial the progress is, but the crew do learn from their mistakes... to some degree. Like with Pleck, they go from being woefully incompetent as ambassadorial staff to a marginally effective team that sometimes even knows what they're doing. For example, after making a mortal enemy of the leader of Flurp in the very first episode, the crew do their level best to avoid invoking his wrath even further upon returning to the planet later on in "Schmorby and the Beast".
- Tears from a Stone: Only implied due to the audio format, but C-53 weeps during the exchange of vows in "Nermie, I Shrunk the Crew".Pleck: C-53, what is happening?
C-53: It is a very stirring vow.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: "The Daming of the Crew" uses poorly-explained time travel with such contradictory rules that the whole crew (and even the actors) are hopelessly confused. AJ and Pleck both suffer nosebleeds trying to keep up.
- Token Human: Tellurian, technically, but Pleck definitely qualifies. Many discussions are had about how strange his philosophy and skills are in comparison to everyone else (and how pink he is).
- Took a Level in Badass: Pleck takes one in the Time Skip between Seasons 2 and 3. He's still a mostly-useless dork, though; he was so hopeless before that taking a level in Badass for him meant he just became competent at his job.
- They Killed Kenny Again: Every time Papa Derf appears, he dies violently at the end of the episode.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Juck" is exactly what it sounds like.
- Villain Episode: Season 1's "The One with the Council of Seven" documents a meeting of the council with no appearance of our heroes.
- Villains Out Shopping: Even a member of the Council of Seven wants a Blue Julius from the mall once in a while.
- Walking Spoiler: Just about any major plot point from season three, really, especially the identity of the emperor.
- Beano manages to pull this off in a more literal sense. One episode's side-gag revolves around the crew trying not to spoil each other on a book they're all reading for book club, to the point of loudly shushing each other if anyone even mentions the plot. At the end of the episode, Beano walks into the room and casually reveals the ending of the book to Pleck and Nermut despite being told not to, making himself a literal walking spoiler. The spoiler: the two main characters of the book die at the end.
- The Watson: Pleck's rural upbringing and general lack of exposure to the galaxy makes him an excellent venue for questions that come across as ignorant in-universe, but provide key exposition for the audience.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The K'hekk are temporarily repelled in their first appearance by Dar's intense body heat.
- White-Dwarf Starlet: The Bargarean Jade, in her younger years, was an A-list holofilm star. She occasionally tries to work her way back into acting, and loves to show off her classic movies to the crew, as well as gossiping about all the famous people (and ships) she knew in the old days.
- "World's Best" Character: There a Running Gag of the C.L.I.N.T.s each declaring themselves to be the best at whatever that particular C.L.I.N.T. has just done such as making Mother's Day Cards, arguing, pushups, asking for FAICs, etc.
- You Can Talk?: "Macho Libre" sees Dar inform Jerkins that almost all spaceships are sentient. Jerkins angrily confronts his own spaceship Johnson at the end of the episode.Jerkins: Hey Johnson?
Jerkins: What? Twenty-five years and you can talk the whole time?
Johnson: The whole time. [beat] Back to silence.
Jerkins: Johnson, no one's gonna believe me. Johnson? ... Johnson?