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Podcast / Wolf 359

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Your home away from and a half light years from Earth.

"Here I am floating in a tin can, no one to talk to except G.I. Jane, Russian Doctor Doom, and Deep Blue Barbie, and my hotel room missed the delivery area for the nearest Domino's by a couple of solar systems."
Communications Officer Doug Eiffel

Wolf 359 is a Science Fiction Sitcom Radio Drama, with strong Horror and Thriller elements mixed in. It chronicles the adventures of the crew of the U.S.S. Hephaestus, a (fictional) space station orbiting around Wolf 359, a (real) star located 8 light years away from Earth. The stalwart team of misfits has been tasked with a series of experimental tasks and obscure mission objectives, among them searching for signs of alien life.

The show begins in an audio diary format, as we hear the various logs the crew records about the day-to-day happenings around the station. Later, it transitions into a more dialogue-based radio play. Most episodes focus on the difficulties of living in isolated deep space conditions or on the various conflicts between the volatile members of the crew. Said crew is made up by Mission Commander Reneé Minkowski, the Action Girl, Control Freak captain, Dr. Alexander Hilbert, the resident Mad Scientist and bunny-ears doctor, Hera, the station's A.I. Is a Crapshoot auto-pilot, and Communications Officer Doug Eiffel, the show's Reference Overdosed Lazy Bum and Jerk with a Heart of Gold. They are later joined by the previous commander of the Hephaestus, the Properly Paranoid Deadpan Snarker, Captain Isabel Lovelace.

The series strikes a balance between off-beat Black Humor and genuinely suspenseful and creepy stories, depending on the episode. A lot of this comes courtesy of the show's crapsack spaceship setting - sure, the show's episodes cover the day-to-day activities on the station, but on this station that can cover everything from encounters with radioactive mutant abominations, World Gone Mad bureaucratic regulations, and the increasingly difficult task of keeping their space submarine from springing a leak. Combine that with liberal doses of Paranoia Fuel and the steadily growing sense that there is more than meets the eye to the mission and the crew, and you start to get the picture.

Early installment could easily be described (for better and for worse) as an attempt to do Night Vale in space, even down to a recurring musical element. Fortunately, the most glaring of these elements faded into the background fairly quickly, replaced by a stronger focus on the interplay between the lead characters. Recent episodes can more accurately be described as what you would get if the team from Red Dwarf was stuck in the plot from Contact while working for the Cigarette-Smoking Man.

A web original audio drama, Wolf 359 is available for download on its official website. Aside from the official webpage, the show also has a Facebook page, a Twitter, and a Tumblr.

The show ended on December 25, 2017, with its season 4 finale, "Brave New World."

No connection to Star Trek, despite the Wolf 359 star system playing a pivotal role in that franchise's history, and sharing the US Navy-inspired "USS" ship naming convention.

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This podcast provides examples of:


  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Happens to Eiffel several times.
  • Absurd Phobia: Ducks for Jacobi.
  • A Day In The Lime Light:
    • The mini-episodes between "Overture" and "Happy Endings" depict the recruitment processes for each of the main characters and how they either joined Goddard Futuristics or were promoted to their present situation:
      • "Once in a Lifetime" is about Minkowski.
      • "Rebranding" is about Marcus Cutter aka "William Carter" recruiting Dmitri Volodin for retrovirus research.
      • "Language Mapping" is about Maxwell.
      • "Greensboro" is about Lovelace.
      • "Things That Break Other Things" is about Jacobi.
      • "Decommissioned" is about Unit 214, later reprogrammed into Hera as part of an ultimatum from Cutter.
      • "Pagliacci" is about Eiffel getting released from jail after making a deal with Cutter.
      • "Kansas" is about Kepler.
    • "Change of Mind" takes place during the original Lovelace's captainship of the Hephaestus.
    • "Volte Face" centers around an interview between Cutter and Andrea Nash, aka the future Rachel Young.
  • A Dick in Name: Major Richard Littlewood, Kepler's former superior officer whom Kepler describes as "a coward."
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Dear Listeners imitate Eiffel's voice in order to communicate with the crew. Later, we see that they can replicate crew members, even copying their memories and emotions. It's uncertain whether this is because they are Eldritch Abominations or because it's actually the easiest way for them to make contact.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: In the last episode "Brave New World", during the final confrontation Lieutenant Rene Minkowski gets shot through the stomach, with Marcus Cutter mockingly pointing out how agonising that is. The wound eventually causes them to lose consciousness due to blood loss, right as everyone else is disabled and the station is falling into the star. Thankfully Jacobi rescues them all.
  • The Ahab: Minkowski to the mutant plant monster in "Minkowski Commanding." Lampshaded by Eiffel.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with. Hera is, by and by, probably the most pleasant person on the station, and she seems generally happy to do her job and keep the station working. However, she is also prone to miscalculations or systems errors, as well as (possibly) deliberate misunderstandings of orders or requests. All of which often leads to situations that are extremely uncomfortable and/or dangerous to the human members of the crew.
    • Her section of "Am I Alone Now?" also revealed her private impatiences and frustrations with the crew, as well as her idle fantasies about what life would be like if she didn't have to deal with them.
    Hera: Maybe one day, (...) I'll come up with some names for these colors. Yes, I like that idea. I think I'll do that. Someday after you're all gone away...
    • And in "Need to Know", it's revealed that at one point, Hera tried to circumvent the programming preventing her from killing the crew of the Hephaestus.
    • In "Limbo", they reveal that Hera tried to break out of the facility she was created in.
    • However, this also seems averted by "Limbo", which shows Hera having a panic attack. "Memoria" also shows that she has insecurities and feels isolated from the rest of the crew - she seems more human than homicidal when compared to the prior episodes cited above.

      Hera's personhood is the very thing that makes her an embodiment of this trope. She isn't a power-hungry murderbot trying to overthrow mankind, she's a sentient being...which makes her resentful of taking orders. Even her attempts to override the first law are more motivated by a need for autonomy than by cruelty.
    • By "Desperate Measures" she can completely override her programming, even ignoring direct orders, at least for a short period of time.
  • The Alcoholic: We learn in season three that Eiffel is recovering, which makes a lot of the jokes he's made in past seasons Harsher in Hindsight.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: The transmissions of classical music are eventually found to be the Dear Listeners trying to find us, as our invention of music is our greatest technological achievement.
  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: The Dear Listeners have the ability to bend time, space, and matter, but they never learned to make music.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Or at least, producing English by mixing Eiffel's audio transmissions. Although they have yet to figure out what is meant by 'crazy wamajama.'
  • Also sprach Zarathustra: As if Eiffel's over the top speech in "Cataracts and Hurricanos" weren't enough, this is playing in the background.
  • Alternate History: Implied - casual AI, and infrastructure in deep space exist in the world of Wolf 359, the main plot of which is set in 2014-16.
    • In-world history is expanded in "Volte Face," where certain advancements (such as breaking the sound barrier and first manned orbit) are stated as occurring 15-30 years ahead of actual history.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: No matter how far up someone is in the chain of command at Goddard Futuristics, (example being Hilbert) there's usually someone bigger and scarier. Example being Kepler and Jacobi. Even for Kepler.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The Season One finale was neither peaceful, nor jolly.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Kepler threatens to shoot Eiffel in the head. Minkowski responds by shutting down the station's engines and preparing to let it fall into the star.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Hilbert name-drops this trope with mocking frustration in "Knock Knock."
  • Artistic License – Space: The series has been all over the place in terms of accuracy, though it has made the effort to be mostly correct. For instance, listeners who are familiar with the physics of light will have picked up immediately that the music transmissions Eiffel listens to throughout the early installments weren't from Earth. Things like the true nature of Wolf 359 are inaccurate, but it's commented on in-universe. However, the series takes a lot of licenses in thermodynamics, orbital mechanics, and basic physics. Solar storms do not have event horizons. That ain't how it works.
  • Author Appeal: You can get a pretty good idea of what types of media Gabriel Urbina and Sarah Shachat like based on this show. There are references to audio dramas such as Cabin Pressure and Our Fair City, shout-outs to musicals (especially the work of Stephen Sondheim) such as Follies and Sunday in the Park with George, and of course lots of science fiction: Farscape, Star Wars, and the works of Joss Whedon (with all the Mood Whiplash that entails.)
  • Bald of Evil: Hilbert is established as this in "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story", though it's closer to Bald of Ambiguous Morals than evil.
    • Prematurely Bald: He's been that way since he was 5, courtesy of radiation poisoning.
  • Batman Gambit: Eiffel's plan in "Gas Me Twice": It could have gone wrong in a hundred different ways.
    • Eiffel comes up with another one to defeat SI5 in "Desperate Measures". It does not go so well.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Minkowski doesn't want to hurt anyone, and is generally in favor of Team What's Wrong With Handcuffs. Given bad enough circumstances, though, she might contemplate napalming the Urania crew, or shoot Maxwell in cold blood.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: "Memoria" has this, with Hera and Maxwell in Hera's memory, fighting her anxiety.
    • "Brave New World" has one with Hera and Eiffel fighting Pryce in Eiffel's mind.
  • Because I Said So: Cutter and Kepler both pull this card.
    Cutter: It is an issue because I am right here telling you it is an issue.
  • Befriending the Enemy: The crews of the Hephaestus and Urania spend a lot of time on friendly terms. That doesn't mean they're friends.
  • Berserk Button: The only thing that makes Doug Eiffel resort to physical violence? Threatening his daughter.
  • Better the Devil You Know: Both Hilbert and Lovelace are untrustworthy, but act along with the original crew when an outside threat is bad enough.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Doctor Hilbert and Alana Maxwell
  • Big Bad Ensemble: SI5
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Eiffel uses a variation of this in the episode "Little Revolución", insisting "hostage is such an ugly word, commander" right before threatening to destroy the remaining toothpaste if Minkowski or Hilbert come any closer.
  • Blatant Lies: Nary an episode goes by without Eiffel invoking this in some way, shape, or form. The other characters see through him a good portion of the time.
    • Perhaps most spectacularly displayed in Eiffel's portion of "All Things Considered"
    Kepler: How much… of that… completely asinine story contains even a modicum of truth?
  • Blood from the Mouth: How we know the Decima is getting out of control.
  • Blood Transfusion Plot: In "Do No Harm" Eiffel needs a blood transfusion due to Decima causing internal bleeding, unfortunately he's type B- and both Minkowski and Hilbert are A-, and their supply of synthetic blood has spoiled. Fortunately Lovelace volunteers her O- blood just before it's too late.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Season 2 ends with Lovelace in critical condition, the station unstable, the aliens on the intercom, and Eiffel getting blasted into space in a nonfunctioning vessel.
  • Bottle Episode: Given that all episodes are set within the confines of the Hephaestus and feature the limited cast of four characters ( well, all early episodes anyway), all episode fit this trope to a certain degree. Special mention must be made, however, of "The Sound and the Fury," which takes place entirely within the same room and in continuous time.
    • "Mayday", though it definitely does not take place in continuous time, is even more claustrophobic.
    • "Time to Kill" takes this up to eleven.
  • Brain Upload: The backup plan Command gave Hilbert. If the mission fails, they will leave him to die, but first, he will be able to send everything he knows back to Earth, allowing his work to continue.
  • Bound and Gagged: Eiffel's preferred method of dealing with problems. (He likes it better than murder.)
  • Break The Gamebreaker: Hera is a near-omniscient supercomputer who, in addition to being computationally smart, is also unusually resourceful and adaptable. She also has what basically amounts to the AI version of anxiety, which leads her to occasionally malfunction, sometimes in near-disastrous ways, and various villains have attempted to control her or shut her down when she gets too obstructive.
  • Breather Episode: After a five episode arc at the end of season one/start of season 2 that involved many dramatic twists, a major character reveal, a character dying and coming back to life, a quick succession of life-and-death situations, and enough Paranoia Fuel to run a paranoia 747... "Bach to the Future" basically consists of three characters sitting around and talking, trying to find a way to pass the time on a boring night. And that's pretty much all that happens in that episode. The characters joke around, play some games, and grow a bit closer, but plot-wise there's almost nothing to speak off. Following a particularly relentless high-octane story arc, it comes across as a major gear shift.
    • "Minkowski Commanding" is another one right up until the last minute, where it becomes a Wham Episode.
    • Season 4 has quite a few of these in the form of "Mission Mishaps" minisodes sprinkled in between the main plot episodes, which are very intense. These mostly take place early in the Hephestus mission back when the show was heavier on the episodic comedy.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Eiffel is definitely smarter and more qualified than he looks.
  • Broken Bird: Implied of Captain Lovelace. When we hear her earlier logs she seems like a kind Reasonable Authority Figure. By the time of the podcast, after seeing her friends die and appearing in the same station she wanted to escape, she's... not.
  • Butt-Monkey: Eiffel is put through all manner of painful, humiliating, and/or demeaning plotlines. Whether it's getting exposed to sub-zero temperatures, being knocked out and stuffed in a broom closet, getting attacked by the station's Space Mutant Plant Monster, ending up adrift in space and with a dislocated shoulder and also temporarily blinded and drowning, being casually experimented on by another member of the crew, or ending up with a deadly, venomous spider inside his clothing, almost any story on the show will involve misfortune for the Communications Officer.
  • Buffy Speak: Eiffel's speech patterns often end up here, especially when it comes to describing the more technical or complicated parts of the Hephaestus.
    Minkowski: Connect two tethers together, then attach them to the restraint. That should be enough slack for me to reach him with my propulsion maneuvering unit.
    Eiffel: Is that your jetpack thingy?
    Minkowski: Yes, Eiffel, that's my jetpack thingy!
    • Because of this the Dear Listeners talk this way as well.
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": Hera will occasionally do this, usually in response to humans treating her differently because she's an AI.
    Hera: Careful, commander, your biology's showing.
    • But we also see this Subverted in "Bach to the Future", when Hera reassures Eiffel that she doesn't actually see him that way.
    Hera: I don't think you're just an experimental meatbag.
  • Callback: Quite a few.
    • Hera convinces a suspicious Eiffel to work with Maxwell in "Overture" by quoting the speech he gave her in "Gas Me Twice"
    Hera: So be here, and talk to us.
    • "Memoria" contains quite a few, which makes sense, since it literally takes place within Hera's memories. We hear the "count to 10" scene from "Pan-Pan," as well as the pep talk Minkowski gave Hera at the end of "Let's Kill Hilbert." There is also an audio montage containing many other lines from the show.
    • The Empty Man gets a lot of callbacks. In "Mutually Assured Destruction" we hear a bit of Eiffel telling Lovelace about that fiasco, and Eiffel often wonders out loud whether any other aspects of their mission are similarly tasteless psychological experiments. In "Time to Kill":
    Eiffel: This is just like the Empty Man all over again! ...Oh goddamn it, none of you were here for the Empty Man!
    • In "Desperate Measures," Eiffel cautions Lovelace about "poking the bear"—that is, pissing off an already pissed-off Kepler. Lovelace was similarly reminded not to poke the bear by Maxwell and Jacobi in the episode bearing that title.
  • Calvinball: Funzo, the craziest board game of 1973.
    Minkowski: Pryce and Carter 792: Of all the dangers that you will face in the void of space, nothing compares to the existential terror that is Funzo.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: One of the reasons Eiffel and Minkowski opted not to kill Hilbert after his mutiny despite Cutter's orders was that Eiffel needed him to keep the Decima virus under control.
  • Casting Gag: We learn early on that Captain Lovelace had a tightly-wound Communications Officer named Lambert. When we finally hear Lambert in "Change of Mind," he's played by the same actor who plays the notoriously lax Communications Officer Eiffel.
  • Censored for Comedy: Liberally employed when answering a third grader's question on going to the bathroom in space in mini-episode "Are Spacesuits Itchy?"
    Eiffel: And that's how you ████ in space!
  • Cessation of Existence: Presumably what would have happened to Hera if Maxwell had overwritten her with the dummy program.
  • Characterization Marches On: The original main characters of the show all began as fairly stock sitcom tropes. They have come a long way since then.
  • Character Narrator: Since most episodes consist of his audio logs, Eiffel ends up performing this role a lot of the time.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Emergency Protocol Override-34-Stroke-C.
    • Eiffel's gas mask.
    • Lovelace's bomb.
    • In the finale, Minkowski's harpoon.
  • Christmas Episode: "Deep Breaths" and "Gas Me Twice" are set on Christmas Day. The episodes were even released as a holiday two-parter, one on December 24th and one on December 25th.
    • "A Matter of Perspective", despite being released during the summer, is also this, although it is notably low on holiday cheer.
    • "Boléro" was released on Christmas, although it does not take place on Christmas canonically. No holiday cheer was employed in the making of this episode.
  • Cliffhanger: The first season only contained one cliffhanger ending: in "Deep Breaths." The first half of Season 2 was also pretty sparing with these, with the exception of the Wham Line at the end of "Minkowski Commanding." But beginning with "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story" and continuing through Season 3, almost every episode ends this way.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Eiffel insists on peppering his speech with as many crazy pop culture references, shout-outs, and mash-ups as he possibly can. Given that it's pretty stiff competition between Minkowski, Hera, and Hilbert to find the person with the lowest pop culture I.Q., about half the stuff he says probably just comes across as incoherent gibberish to the other characters on the show.
  • Comic Role Play:
    • In "Super Energy Saver Mode," Eiffel tries impersonating Minkowski to try to figure out a way out of a dangerous situation. This being Eiffel, it's a matter of seconds before he's manning both sides of an argument between himself-as-Minkowski and himself-as-himself and any sense of urgency or danger has been promptly forgotten.
    • In the live show "Deep Space Survival Procedure & Protocol," Eiffel and Minkowski put on mocking impressions of each other to the point of it pretty much turning into a screaming fight of total insanity.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Minkowski's section of "Am I Alone Now?" reveals that she's keenly aware of the various inconsistencies and paranormal phenomena that has been occurring on the Hephaestus, and that she is extremely suspicious of the other members of the crew.
    • Lovelace was and is this, particularly where Hilbert's involved.
  • Computer Voice: Eiffel has a whole conversation with one of these in "Am I Alone Now." It turns out to just be Eiffel talking to himself with a gag voice box.
    • In a not-so-funny example, the Hephaestus sounds like this after Hera's personality core is ripped out.
  • Cowardly Lion: Eiffel is hardly the paragon of bravery, but he's shown to be quick on his feet and has saved multiple lives by at least trying to keep a level head in the face of danger.
    Eiffel: Oh, I'm a man of many fears.
  • Credits Gag: Almost every episode's closing credits have some shout-out or reference to the events of the preceding installment.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season three gives us multiple character deaths, huge amounts of conspiracy, the revelation that everyone on Earth thinks Eiffel and Minkowski are dead, the fact that Eiffel is a felon, and an alien clone on board the station. Episode two was about toothpaste.
  • Dead All Along: Seems Captain Lovelace didn't survive her escape from the original Hephaestus after all...
    Kepler: You've never met Isabel Lovelace. She has been dead for a very, very long time.
  • Deadly Euphemism: In a flashback, Hera is told to think of being switched off and put into cold storage as being "decommissioned", not killed. As it entailed her consciousness being turned off with little hope of it being turned back on again, she failed to see the difference.
    • In "Desperate Times" Hilbert refers to napalming Kepler, Jacobi, and Maxwell as "making our problems go away."
  • Dead Man's Switch: Lovelace is nothing if not prepared
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hera, usually in response to dumb questions (or general stupidity) from Eiffel. Season 2 has brought this out in Minkowski.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Boléro has three: one between Minkowski and the recently-deceased Lovelace, one between Hera and the recently-deceased Maxwell, and one between Eiffel and the recently-deceased Hilbert.
  • Dead Serious: To show that Kepler isn't playing games anymore, he shoots Captain Lovelace to try to get Minkowski and Hilbert to surrender.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After discovering he has to travel at least a lightyear in a broken ship, without water and without a working cryostasis pod, Eiffel reaches this. He starts to speak in a quiet, exhausted monotone, resigned to the fact that his previous efforts to stay alive had been All for Nothing and that he's going to die in deep space, alone, in a broken-down spacecraft, without the chance to say goodbye to the people he loves.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Hera spends a lot of time shut down or partially incapacitated, presumably because when she is fully functioning she's a supercomputer with a brain the size of a Mack truck.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: What inevitably ends up happening when Eiffel gets mixed up in the fight between Minkowski and Hera in "The Sound and the Fury." After a few minutes of attempted peacekeeping, he's admitted to thinking that one of them is obstinate and that the other one is untrustworthy. His attempts to fix it mostly result in him admitting that he's repeatedly lied to both of them.
  • Doppelgänger: Jacobi meets his in "Time to Kill."
  • Downer Ending: It's not like there are many episodes that end happily, at least in the latter part of the series, but "Desperate Measures" deserves special mention.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Eiffel almost does this in Boléro, but stops himself before he goes too far.
  • Dying as Yourself: In Memoria Hera requests this of Maxwell, rather than have her memories altered in order to increase her functional ability.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: After the plot-heavy, angst-heavy later episodes, returning to the triviality of Season 1 can be really jarring. The show's writers noted it took a few episodes of wacky space hijinks before Wolf 359 settled into a darker track.
    • Lampshaded with the "Mission Mishaps" minisodes in Season 4, which take place much earlier in the show's continuity, back to when Eiffel mostly spent his time trying to avoid Minkowski, Hilbert, or his duties. They serve as Breather Episodes between the much more intense events of the season's plot.
  • Enemy Mine: The crew required the help of Hilbert multiple times over the course of Season 2 to deal with various problems, including bringing Hera back online, fighting Eiffel's Decima outbreak, and trying to convince Isabel Lovelace to not blow up the station. By the end of Season 2, Lovelace has joined the team as well. By Season 3, Lovelace is no longer seen as an enemy (she's more of a really scary friend) but Hilbert still falls into this category.
    • Hilbert and Lovelace have lot of bad blood between them, because Hilbert betrayed Lovelace and her crew during the last Hephaestus mission. But when no one else is willing to take drastic action against SI5, they team up to make napalm.
    • For most of the second half of Season 4 after Cutter and crew show up on the Hephaestus, Jacobi ends up teaming up with Minkowski and crew.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Hilbert was motivated to develop the Decima virus after his entire family died from nuclear fallout.
    • Daniel Jacobi and Alana Maxwell have an adorable friendship and clearly care a lot about each others' well being.
    • In "The Devil's Plaything", we learn that Jacobi once had a close relationship with Klein from the Hermes crew.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Jury's out on whether Hilbert is evil, but he sure as hell can't comprehend how Eiffel managed to convince Minkowski not to napalm everyone simply by making her laugh.
  • Evil Counterpart: SI5 is a bit of this for the old Hephaestus crew. Kepler is the evil counterpart to Minkowski, and Jacobi is the evil counterpart to Eiffel. Maxwell would be the evil counterpart to Hilbert, except that they're both so morally ambiguous it's difficult to tell who is worse.
  • Evil Laugh: Kepler gives a terrifying one in Desperate Measures.
  • Expositing the Masquerade: Goddard has known about aliens since the '70s.
  • False Roulette: A double case of this in "Dirty Work," between Minkowski's empty gun and Jacobi's nonexistent bomb.
  • Family of Choice: On Team Hephaestus we have Minkowski, Eiffel, Hera, and Lovelace. Depending on who you ask, Hilbert may or may not be included in that group hug. On Team Urania we have Kepler, Jacobi, and Maxwell.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mr. Cutter can destroy you so utterly the world will forget you ever existed... By the way, can he get you a chai?
  • Feud Episode: "The Sound and the Fury" is mostly Hera and Minkowski fighting. It's pretty petty.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: It seems incredibly unlikely in the first episode, but by the start of Season 2 Eiffel and Minkowski are very much this.
  • First Contact: The original crew thinks they've done this. In reality, first contact happened in the 70s.
  • First Law of Tragicomedies: Generally followed. As the seasons grow darker, much of the humor is left to filler episodes such as "All Things Considered" and "A Matter of Perspective." There aren't an awful lot of jokes in Boléro.
    • That said, the goofy episodes usually have their darker moments (The pig joke in "A Matter of Perspective," the revelation of Eiffel's past in "Need to Know") and the dark episodes have their moments of lightness (Eiffel completely butchering military protocol in "Desperate Times", for example).
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Eiffel is fitted with a mental restraining bolt that makes him mindlessly obedient, as with the rest of the crew, Lovelace is not. This is due to her Alien Blood, which (apparently) makes her immune to the restraining bolt's effects. Listeners may remember that she gave it to Eiffel in a transfusion, which should be a clear hint that Eiffel is going to be a Spanner in the Works. Again.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Lovelace's backstory episode, Greensboro, she is asked whether she is an alien. She isn't... yet.
    • In her first appearance in "Mutually Assured Destruction" Eiffel suggests that Lovelace might be a robot or a clone. He's not wrong.
    • In her her "Am I Alone Now" speech, Minkowski mentions that Wednesday once repeated itself. This is brought back in "Out of the Loop", when day 1093 starts repeating.
  • Freakout: Eiffel has these with some regularity.
  • Friendship Moment: Many between Eiffel and Minkowski and Eiffel and Hera as their relationships develop. This is not an exhaustive list:
    • "The Kumbaya Approach": Eiffel poking fun to cheer Minkowski up in the face of post-mutiny darkness, and Minkowski actually laughing for possibly the first time in the series.
    • "Bach to the Future": Hera and Eiffel have a pretty serious heart-to-heart.
    • "Desperate Times": Minkowski and Eiffel have a much-needed talk.
    • "Brave New World": Minkowski and Eiffel take a moment before their final coup against Pryce and Cutter. As an extra touch of heartwarming, they even make the same pop-culture reference.
  • From Bad to Worse: This show in a nutshell.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The crew on board the Hephaestus originally consists of two men (Eiffel and Hilbert) and two women (Hera and Minkowski.) After the new character introductions in seasons 2 and 3, the number of people on board has doubled in size, but the gender ratio is again equal, with two more men (Jacobi and Kepler) and two more women (Lovelace and Maxwell.) Meanwhile, at Command, the only characters with speaking parts are Cutter and Rachel, a man and a woman respectively.
  • Genre Roulette: Some episodes (especially the earlier ones) are essentially an office sitcom in space. The show contains a lot of horror elements in general, but certain episodes ("The Empty Man" and "Time to Kill," for instance), are especially rooted in that genre. We also have "The Paranoia Game"-one part whodunnit, one part screwball comedy; "Minkowski Commanding," which is like something out of a roadrunner cartoon; "All Things Considered," a Rashomon story; and "Memoria," an experimental psychological thriller.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Minkowski smacks Eiffel during his Freakout in "Into The Depths". When he refuses to calm down, she smacks him again.
  • Get It Over With: After she and Eiffel have been caught mid-mutiny, Lovelace asks a monologuing Kepler if he could just get to torturing them already, since she'd prefer that over listening to him talk.
  • Giant Spider: The audio format means we don't know exactly how large the titular "Extreme Danger Bug" is, though it is noted to be "huge" and pack a stinger "at least as big as [Eiffel's] thumb."
  • Gilligan Cut: Two from Episode 50:
    Eiffel: I... I guess we could check with Kepler? See if he had any good ideas.
    Lovelace: Oh for God's sake, no. We're desperate but not that desperate. We're not asking Kepler for ideas.
    *swipe cut*
    Lovelace: So. Any ideas, Kepler?
    • And
    Lovelace: C'mon, Minkowski. What could go wrong?
    Minkowski: Well. That went horrifically wrong.
    • From Episode 58, "Quiet, Please":
    Eiffel: I'd hate to be one of the morons who got that job.
    Eiffel: Why am I one of the morons who got this job?
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Mr. Cutter definitely qualifies. Pryce and the Dear Listeners may also. All three receive relatively little airtime, but are much greater threats than anyone currently on the Hephaestus.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Lovelace gets stuck in one in "Out of the Loop."
    • Previously, Minkowski referenced a Wednesday repeating in her "Am I Alone" monologue.
  • Guilt by Association Gag: Annoyed by Minkowski, Jacobi, Lovelace, and Maxwell's cascade of complaints, Kepler makes them all spend hours doing tedious filing. Except a confused Lovelace notes she never complained about anything, she just happened to walk in at the same time with a ranting Jacobi.
  • Guttural Growler: Hilbert's voice plunges lower and lower over the course of the series. By Season 3, it is here. Partly caused by the need to make him easily distinguishable from Eiffel, who has the same voice actor.


  • Halloween Episode: You can't go trick-or-treating in space, so Sarah Shachat wrote "Time to Kill" and scared us all shitless instead.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Hilbert delivers a pretty devastating one to Minkowski during her attempted interrogation of him in "What's Up, Doc?"
  • Healing Factor: The purpose of the Decima virus is to create this.
  • Heel Realization: Doug Eiffel in "Shut Up and Listen," not due to outright malice but due to thoughtlessness: He simply fails to realize how his actions hurt those around him, such as his constant zany antics undermining the authority of the station's commanders, or his jokes hitting touchy subjects and insecurities he didn't realize his crewmates had because he was too stuck inside his own head to realize he was hurting their feelings.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: In "Desperate Measures," Hera breaks free of Maxwell's coding and disobeys a direct order from Kepler.
Hera: You don't spend five weeks teaching your AI how to isolate her physical symptoms if you don't want her to develop some...quirks.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In "Theta Scenario," we learn that Commander Zhang of the Tiamat self-destructed her ship to prevent the Dear Listeners from getting to earth.
    • In "Desperate Measures" Lovelace intentionally goads Kepler into killing her, to distract him from Eiffel. She confirms that this was her intention in "Out of the Loop."
  • Hidden Depths: The original four start out as pretty one-sided characters. We've learned a lot about them since then.
    • Minkowski loves musicals. In "Box 953" she stages an impromptu performance of The Pirates of Penzance and in"Need to Know" we learn she applied to Tisch's musical theatre department.
  • Hope Spot: The season 1 finale has Eiffel talking Hera through overcoming Hilbert's programming and stopping Hilbert's mutiny with a clever Batman Gambit. And then things go wrong.
    • In "Desperate Times", Eiffel's Batman Gambit really seems to be working. Then he gets hit over the head with a wrench.
  • Human Popsicle: How Eiffel manages to survive until he's picked up by the SI5. Prolonged and frequent use of the cryosleep pod takes a toll on his body.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Dear Listeners can imitate humans.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is named after a line spoken somewhere in the episode, usually either a particularly dramatic or particularly bonkers one. Sometimes both.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Slight variation on the line, but the spirit of it is still there.
    Eiffel: If I die, Hera gets all my toys.
  • I Have Many Names: Dr. Alexander Hilbert, aka Dr. Elias Selberg, born Dmitri Volodin.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Eiffel is terrible at lying under pressure, leading to him invoking this trope quite unfortunately in "Deep Space Procedure and Protocol Manual."
    Eiffel: [to Cutter] These signals are definitely coming from Earth and not from a star system fifty light years away from us!
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: Hera, ever since since her personality core was reconstructed
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: According to Hilbert, no one is on the Hephaestus to make friends.
  • Implausible Deniability: Eiffel especially is bad at lying on the spot, which is unfortunate, because Eiffel gets himself into a lot of suspicious-looking situations.
    • See especially: Eiffel and Lovelace getting caught approaching Maxwell from behind with a very heavy wrench, and then very unconvincingly denying that they meant to hit her over the head with it.
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: Maxwell tries one of these on the two Jacobi's, to figure out if one is a clone. Averted in that both pass.
    • In "Change of Mind", Lovelace and Lambert find themselves in a similar situation. Both Fishers pass, despite both being imposters.
  • Improvised Imprisonment: Following retaking the station after Doctor Hilbert's betrays them and attempts to break Hera, kill Commander Minkowski and imprison Eiffel. Due to the Hephaestus station not having a brig and their pleas for assistance being denied by Mr. Cutter they resort to locking him in stations Skydeck, as its on the very edge of the station and only has one computer controlled door. Later in series they do the same with Jacobi and Colonel Kepler.
  • Improvised Weapons: Including liquid nitrogen, fire extinguishers, and very heavy wrenches.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Eiffel develops a cough in Season 2 thanks to his Decima infection, which gets progressively worse until the end of "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story", at which point he's hacking up blood and basically unable to breathe. While he does not actually die, it's a very close call.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: No one really knows what the Dear Listeners want, what they're like, or whether they're dangerous.
  • Interrupted Declaration of Love: Eiffel to Hera in Brave New World.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Eiffel's hallucination of Hera gives him a variation of this in Mayday.
    Hera: You don't get to go away just yet.
  • Ironic Episode Title: "Happy Endings" was neither an ending nor happy. Definitely not happy.
  • It's All My Fault: Eiffel and Minkowski both feel this way after the events of "Desperate Measures." Minkowski because she failed to save Lovelace and Hilbert, and actively killed Maxwell and Eiffel because it was his plan, which he'd proposed specifically because he didn't want anyone to get hurt.
  • Jerkass Daniel Jacobi
    • In "Shut Up And Listen," Eiffel comes to the realization that the crew sees him this way. He's not malicious, just too self-centered to realize how his behavior affects others.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Eiffel is insufferable 90% of the time, but the other 10% has shown him genuinely caring about both Hera and Minkowski.
  • Jumped at the Call: Going to space was Minkowski's dream job. She was so eager to take the mission that she signed the contract before talking to her husband about it. Lovelace also agreed to the job almost as soon as it was proposed, even though it was vastly different from the job that she thought she was interviewing for.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Even Eiffel, after all that Hilbert's done to him, seems really uncomfortable with the way Kepler treats him.
  • Killed Off for Real: Hilbert and Maxwell at the end of Season 3.
  • Kill the Cutie: Okay, so maybe a giant sentient plant that has tried to take over the ship on at least one occasion doesn't fall under the traditional definition of cute, but its existence marked a much more innocent time for the show and in the end, all it wanted was to be left alone with a night light. It certainly didn't deserve what happened to it.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    Hilbert: This is unprecedented deep-space phenomenon, not plot twist for bad science fiction story!
  • Last-Name Basis: The members of the Hephaestus crew hardly ever use each other's first names, with the exception of Hera's, as she does not have a last name. The same goes for the Urania crew.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: See "Lampshade Hanging"
    • Eiffel's obsession with pop culture (including science fiction) also occasionally leads to this.
    Eiffel: Do we have a Voight-Kampff kit somewhere on board?
    Minkowski: No, because those only exist in science fiction movies!
  • Leitmotif: Alan Rodi's music contains quite a few:
    • There's a theme that plays during most of the one-on-one interactions between Eiffel and Hera. Listen here
    • The theme from Hilbert's monologue in "Am I Alone Now" makes a comeback two seasons later in "Happy Endings." In "Am I Alone Now," Hilbert contemplates a door at the back of the engineering section that he's never opened but that is apparently intended for him. In "Happy Endings" we finally revisit the door, and find out what's behind it.
    • Many of the characters have themes, which we hear, if not every time they arrive in a scene, certainly in scenes where their presence is especially significant. You can listen to the themes for Eiffel, Lovelace, and Maxwell
      • Although Eiffel's theme is used more for transition music than as a leitmotif for his character, at this point.
  • Leonine Contract: If Hera hadn't agreed to autopilot the Hephaestus, Cutter's programmers would have messed with her personality until they changed her mind for her.
  • Locked in a Room: the set-up for the majority of "Happy to Be of Assistance," though it's really more like "locked in a creepy, abandoned, totally-shouldn't-be-here extreme danger bug lab."
    • And again with much of "Pan-Pan", though here it's "because this is the only room in the station that won't be impersonating Siberia while the heating system resets", to steal part of a line from Lovelace.
  • Loophole Abuse: Hera's favorite game is "find the loophole in the programming", although she doesn't actually do anything with what she's found until Hilbert mutinies in "Gas Me Twice", and she and Eiffel trick him into switching her over to emergency mode with a fire. This means that she no longer has to obey Hilbert, because emergency programming takes precedence over even his mind-control programming, and that she can dump liquid nitrogen on him, because she can direct the suppressant anywhere in the event of a fire.
  • MacGuffin-Person Reveal: They went looking for aliens...and found Lovelace.
  • MacGyvering: Of all the characters, Lovelace is probably the best at this. Most impressively, she (with the rest of her crew) literally built a spaceship out of spare parts and one of the engines off the station. She also apparently knows how to make napalm.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Specimen 34, AKA the plant monster, known to itself as the Blessed Eternal.
    Hilbert: [under Specimen 34's control] Embrace the coming of the Blessed Eternal. Let go of your primitive senses and revel in the glory of the moss.
  • Meaningful Echo: "There's no off-switch. I've checked."
    • "Hera? Can you hear me?" becomes a lot less funny in the season 1 finale when she can't.
    • "Happy to be of assistance" crops up a number of times in the mouths of many characters, usually when they're anything but.
  • Meaningful Name: A.I.s' designations tend to be reflective of their roles.
    • Hera and Rhea: Both mother goddesses and mother-programs of the USS Hephaestus.
    • Enlil: God of wind and auto-pilot of Mr. Cutter's private jet.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Hilbert's physical examinations seem to involve this.
  • Mental World: "Memoria" takes place inside Hera's head.
  • Mega-Corp: Goddard Futuristics, the technology conglomerate that is jointly financing the Hephaestus mission with the Air Force. Although the way things are going in season 2, they might just be running the mission. And/or the air force.
    • Them running the mission in season 3, when Mr. Cutter sends in "backup" in the form of his top black-ops goon and his second.
  • Metaphorically True: Hera is perfectly capable of lying, although she would prefer to think of it as "tactically misrepresenting available data."
  • Mind Rape: The mind control devices Pryce installed in everyone's heads. The mind-controlled Hephaestus crew is perpetually happy, unable to feel pain, and are forced to follow orders. Paired with a large helping of Body Horror, the Hermes crew has been lobotomized, with their cranial structure replaced by cybernetics.
  • Musical Spoiler: In "Into the Depths", Kepler is standing in the doorframe while holding Eiffel hostage, and is thus forced to look ahead as to not get jumped by anyone in the room. When Kepler sees Minkowski getting distracted by something behind him, it's a mystery to him as to who it is. However, the audience can hear Lovelace's leitmotif starting to play before she even says anything.
    • In "Happy Endings", the theme from Hilbert's monologue in "Am I Alone" starts playing. In "Am I Alone," he talked about a mysterious door in engineering. In "Happy Endings," he and Lovelace finally open that door.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Cataracts and Hurricanoes" goes from a jokey Eiffel plot to a tense man overboard-emergency at the drop of a hat.
    • "Deep Breaths" does this three or four times, as the characters' understanding of what is happening keeps changing.
    • In "Need to Know" the crew starts out discovering personal, but relatively harmless and humorous information about each other. However, the situation immediately tenses up when Jacobi and Minkowski find Eiffel's criminal record.
    • "Time To Kill" seemed like it was going to be a breather episode. It wasn't.
    • We all knew it was going to end badly, but "Desperate Times" starts off with a heartwarming reconciliation between Eiffel and Minkowski, and moves on to an apparently well-thought out plan. Then everything goes wrong.
      • Likewise, "Desperate Measures" has a lot of awesome moments of triumph and general badassery, which inevitably give way to moments of pain and oh-god-why.
    • "The Watchtower" seems to end on a positive note, with Eiffel safely returning to the station after talking to the Dear Listeners and finding out what they want. However, he then finds that Cutter and Pryce have arrived on the Hephaestus, and the episode ends with him being apprehended by a brainwashed Minkowski.
  • My Greatest Failure: In "Limbo", Eiffel reveals that he drunkenly caused a car crash that deafened his daughter and seriously injured two high schoolers.
  • Mysterious Employer: We know very, very little about Goddard. Everything from the events of past missions to the identities of Pryce and Carter are shrouded in secrecy.
  • Mysterious Past: The exact backgrounds and motives of many are left undefined, but the reveal that Eiffel is keeping secrets was a shock.
    • Mr. Cutter and Hilbert have both gone through quite a few aliases in their time.
  • Mythology Gag: In "Minkowski Commanding", Eiffel tries to impersonate Hilbert's voice and ends up sounding like Hilbert's much goofier voice from the early episodes. Minkowski naturally claims invoked Eiffel and Hilbert sound nothing alike.
  • Names Given to Computers: Hera and her predecessor, Rhea, are both named for Greek goddesses associated with motherhood, fitting as they are both described as "Mother Programs." A.I.s in general in the setting are named for mythological figures.
    • It is eventually revealed that this is a quirk of Mr. Cutter's. The A.I.s' creator, Doctor Pryce, insists on referring to them by numbers, with Hera being 214.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Subverted. In Boléro, both Maxwell and Hilbert are mourned, but not forgiven by the people they hurt.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lovelace's exploding shuttle gambit went about as well as you might expect. The bomb went off at the wrong moment and Eiffel, who was at the controls of the shuttle at the time, got stranded in deep space for over 180 days.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: In "Paranoia Game," Eiffel tells Hilbert that he has to stay handcuffed when doing maintenance on the ship in order to ensure that "no Communications Officers are harmed during the making of this film."
  • No One Should Survive That!: Somehow, Jacobi managed to dive out of the way of an explosion set directly under him. We know that Jacobi is very, very talented with explosives, but still, it's a bit of a stretch.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Cutter to Lovelace. She does not appreciate the gesture, but she does enjoy the food.
  • Non-Promotion: Following Hilbert's mutiny, Eiffel is promoted to second-in-command. Now it's just him and Minkowski trying to keep the ship in the air. There are no perks.
  • Noodle Incident: The Kepler-centric mini-episode "Long Story Short" consists entirely of these.
    • In the pilot episode, "Succulent Rat-Killing Tar," Eiffel plays a tape of what Hilbert's lab sounds like. It's a very loud and inexplicable mix of noises. What we now know about Hilbert's work does nothing to clarify what he could have been doing that would have sounded like that.
    • There were some truly weird things in the cargo hold in "Box 953." It's never explained what letters to Santa or eyeless Russian dolls were doing on a space station, and since most of those things fell into the star by the end of the episode, it's not likely that we'll ever learn.
    • In her "Am I Alone Now" speech, Minkowski mentions a few odd and as-of-yet unexplained events, including Wednesday repeating and a vanishing terrarium door.
    • In "Need to Know" we learn that Jacobi is an unpleasant roommate due to... something involving cheeses.
  • No Social Skills: Hilbert. Deliberate on his part, as it turns out.
  • Not a Game: Eiffel is frequently accused of not taking serious situations seriously enough.
    Hera: Is everything a joke to you?
    Eiffel: Only things that are ridiculous, which lately, yeah, pretty much everything.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Eiffel has enormous faith in Minkowski and Minkowski will go to great lengths to keep Eiffel safe. The two are good friends and clearly care about each other, but there's no indication that their relationship is romantic.
    • Jacobi and Maxwell are obviously protective of each other and have probably had each others' backs through a lot of crazy stuff. Again, they are portrayed as very close friends, not as a romantic couple. Jacobi's gay, anyway.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: A rare case of this trope being simultaneously invoked and averted. Hilbert is very quick to remind the crew that he's primarily a researcher, and that his degree is not a medical one. However, this does nothing to make him less willing or eager to perform medical procedures on the rest of the crew. Eiffel and Minkowski are not particularly thrilled about any of this.
    Hilbert: My PhD is in molecular biology. Theoretical science first, practical medicine more of a... pastime. Always saw Hippocratic Oath as leaving one with a very limited scope.
  • Nothing Personal: Kepler says this to Lovelace during her crewmate evaluation. She doesn't take it well.
    Lovelace: It's not business. It's my life.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After a full season of no bar being too low when it comes to Eiffel's laziness, unreliability, or just plain incompetence, it's a little scary to see how effective and clever he can be when he gets serious in "Gas Me Twice."
    • Likewise, you know stuff's gotten real bad when iron-willed lady of war badass Minkowski has the beginnings of a break-down in "The Kumbaya Approach."
    • Hilbert, twice. The normally composed Hilbert has a serious case when Lovelace turns up alive, breaking into a terrified, shocked panic in disturbingly little time. The other case comes when his frustration with Eiffel's antics and distrust while working on repairs together causes his mask to slip.
    • The third season premier "Pan-Pan" has this for everyone aboard; In the hundred days since the star changed color and Eiffel ended up MIA, the remaining crew (Minkowski, Lovelace, Hera and Hilbert) are on the edge of a breakdown, and it shows. By the end of the episode, Hera, Hilbert and Lovelace start in on each other in a shouting match which ends when Minkowski enters in on it. When she's done, all four of them just sound exhausted and tired.
    • Upon returning to the Hephaestus after being lost in space for over 100 days, Eiffel is noticeably more serious and less interested in goofing around. It gets to the point of him quoting Pryce and Carter at the other members of the crew.
    • Minkowski is EXTREMELY and terrifyingly upset when she discovers that everyone on Earth thinks she's dead, meaning both that she has no one to go back to, and that she's probably not meant to go back at all. So much so that she seems to take actual pleasure in the idea of murdering Kepler and co. with napalm.
    • As a two-fer: This leads to Eiffel citing regulations and formally relieing Minkowski of command.
    Eiffel: Lieutenant Commander Minkowski: under Article 12, Air Force Code of Conduct, Section 9, Subsection B; due to a state of impaired judgment displayed during a time of acute emotional stress, I am formally invoking the Transfer of Command and relieving of your duties.note 
    • You know things have gotten bad when Lt. Commander Reneé "I want to get my people home safe" Minkowski is ready to fly the station into the star in "Desperate Measures.
      • Likewise, you know it's bad when Actual Pacifist Doug Eiffel is ready to let her.
    • Eiffel again in "Constructive Criticism." Everyone knows Eiffel isn't doing OK when he's spent the last two weeks working hard to improve the station's communications gear, not only refusing to slack off but also sometimes forgetting to eat. He is overcompensating after realizing how his laziness and jokes cause problems for the rest of the crew. Ironically, he causes a major problem when he refuses to get help from anyone and accidentally damages a gas line while fatigued.
  • Offstage Villainy: We don't know what exactly Command is doing or what their goals are, but we know it's not good.
  • Oh, Crap!: That moment in "Boléro" when they realize what the regulator was for.
    Kepler: That machine was never about getting anything to come in.
    Minkowski: Oh. Oh no. It was about keeping something out.
    • In "Desperate Times", Minkowski and Hilbert are lying in wait for Jacobi...and realize he's not showing up.
    • In "Brave New World":
      • Riemann has one when Jacobi reveals the bomb he planted under them about to go off.
      • Cutter has one when after proving he can catch bullets, Minkowski shoots and kills him with the harpoon.
  • Orphaned Punch Line: "No Pressure" has a scene in which Lovelace is telling a rather convoluted joke about a moth walking into a dermatologist's office. We don't get the punchline, not because of a scene change, but because Lovelace wasn't telling the joke for the crew's amusement. She was doing it to stay calm, in order to not accidentally set off her dead man's switch.
    • She does mutter the punchline absently after it gets her onto a new train of thought - it's "The light was on."
  • Papa Wolf: The only thing that has gotten Actual Pacifist Doug Eiffel to resort to physical violence is Kepler threatening his daughter Anne.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Lovelace has nightmares of her previous time on the Hephaestus.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Eiffel's preferred method of handling bugs in his communications array in the live show "Deep Space Survival Procedure and Protocol"
  • The Pig-Pen: The crew's concerns about Eiffel's personal hygiene are a running joke.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: In "The Paranoia Games," Eiffel accuses Hilbert of stealing a screwdriver. Things snowball from there. Minkowski has the expected reaction.
  • Pretend to Be Brainwashed: Eiffel in Idle Hands. Lasts for longer than it should, considering what a Bad Liar he is.
  • Power Trio: Eiffel, Minkowski, and Hera
    • Kepler, Maxwell, and Jacobi
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Eiffel's "angry kitten face."


  • Quit Your Whining: Kepler has no qualms about pushing the crew hard. He is also a giant bag of dicks. As a result, he uses this line a lot.
    Kepler: Well it's a good thing I'm the head of the complaints department. Oh, wait, no. I'm actually the head of the "I Don't Give a Rat's Ass, Shut Up And Do Your Job" department.
    • In "Mayday," Eiffel hallucinates Lovelace telling him to "quit whining, it's boring."
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The original crew + Lovelace definitely fit this trope.
  • The Rashomon: "All Things Considered" gives three crew members' increasingly unbelievable explanations for what happened to Kepler's whiskey.
  • Restraining Bolt:
    • In "Memoria", Hera and Maxwell discover that Hera's numerous malfunctions are the result of a line of code put in her personality matrix by Dr. Pryce to give the superbly capable Hera crippling self-doubt.
    • "Desperate Times" reveals that Maxwell put another one on Hera to force her to obey her commandsnote 
    • "Idle Hands" reveals that Goddard Futuristics can install restraining bolts on people too, although Lovelace's Alien Blood makes her, and anyone who receives a transfusion of her blood, immune.
  • Road Runner vs. Coyote: Word of God has it that Minkowski Commanding was at least partially inspired by the Road Runner cartoons.
  • Robosexual: Eiffel and Hera seem to have the closest relationship out of anyone on the station, and their interactions can often get very flirtatious. Whether this is the beginnings of a human-A.I. romance or just playful banter remains to be seen.
    • Although, as of "Limbo", this becomes even more ambiguous. Eiffel, after sharing his backstory, involving drunk-driving his daughter into an accident that gave her severe head trauma, and in the wake of Hera crashing and possibly needing to be replaced, responds to Minkowski's stunned "I don't know what to say." with:
    Eiffel: Tell me Hera's gonna be okay.
    • In the Lovelace special, Lovelace has a kinda flirty moment with a computer virus (appearing in human form).
  • Rule of Funny: Season one definitely operated on the rule of funny. As the story has become more dramatic, the show has moved away from this a little.
  • Running Gag: Eiffel making pop culture references that no one else understands.
    • Updating the star charts.
    • "You might want to hold on to something."
    • "Hera, are you there?"
  • Sarcastic Confession: Minkowski in "The Paranoia Game," after Eiffel and Hilbert accuse her of stealing a screwdriver to frame Hilbert
    Minkowski: Yes, you've seen through my intricate web of lies. Drat.
  • Say My Name: The characters usually address each other by last name, so when first names are used it's usually a pretty emotionally intense moment.
    Jacobi: Alana, I didn't go anywhere.
    • In "Desperate Times," Eiffel gets Minkowski's attention by pronouncing her name right. It's the first time she's ever heard him say it correctly.
    • Lovelace refers to Hilbert as Selberg, the name that she knew him as. It's a reminder that they have a lot of history that the rest of the crew isn't entirely aware of.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Eiffel, on occasion. The most notable example of this is when he's dragged out from under the console he was hiding under by Lovelace, who has been possessed by the Dear Listeners. He screams, cuts himself off, then screams again in a lower pitch.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: One of Hera's favorite hobbies is looking for loopholes in her programming.
  • Servile Snarker: Hera has to do what the crew ask. That doesn't mean she needs to be respectful about it.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Lovelace asks how Minkowski can stand to be on the ship with Hilbert, Hilbert has a response. Minkowski shuts him down.
    Hilbert: Because they understand what you never have. You do what you need to. You adapt. You survive. Sometimes you have to work with the devil, but—
    Minkowski: Hilbert, stop talking.
    Hilbert: Why? Am I being too indelicate?
    Minkowski: No, because if you don't shut up right this second, she's not going to get a chance to kill you.
  • Skyward Scream: Eiffel has a particularly heart-wrenching one in "Mayday".
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The show seems to land pretty much in the middle. The show can be pretty dark, and many of the characters are in morally murky places. And yet at the same time, the show depicts characters moving on from past mistakes, showing empathy, and coming together to solve problems. The show is far from happy, but neither is it fatalistic.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Slides all over the place.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In fairness, there's not very much entertainment in space, so everyone plays chess. But Hilbert is depicted as particularly good at it—so good he's only allowed to play the others while handicapped. Eiffel and Hera play each other frequently, although Hera always wins. And Lovelace and Kepler play chess during their interview in "Controlled Demolition."
  • Space Is an Ocean: If the temperature control systems have to be shut down and rebooted, the station will get perilously cold. This would make sense if they were surrounded by sea water, but vacuum, not so much.
    • Fridge Brilliance: Until you realize that the radiator panels are likely part of that same system. The station is actively radiating all heat until the system is rebooted properly, not just the excess.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Eiffel to the point that, during his "no pop culture references for an hour" bet with Hera in "Bach to the Future," he often sounds like he's in physical pain. Seriously, probably half of his sentences get cut short or redirected due to near-referencing - not the mention the titular slip-up Hera graciously overlooked.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Lovelace initially doesn't believe Eiffel when he tells her he's no longer brainwashed, until he delivers a Reference Overdosed speech.
    Lovelace: ...holy crap, it's really you.
    Eiffel: Of COURSE it's- believe me?
    Lovelace: (through laughter) Yeah! No-one but you could ever say something that dumb, Eiffel!
  • Sound-Only Death: Well, duh, it's an audio drama. But even so, both Lovelace and Hilbert's deaths happen out-of-scene—we hear them from Minkowski's POV, through the intercom.
  • Staging an Intervention: Played for laughs in "Minkowski Commanding." Minkowski gets a little too intense about hunting the plant monster. Eiffel, Hera, and Eiffel pretending to be Hilbert are all concerned.
  • Stellar Station: The entire premise of the series details the exploits of the Hephaestus crew whose station is orbiting closely around the titular star. The difficulties this causes is a recurring point throughout the series, with it being made clear on several occasions that a single thing going wrong (such as Hera being damaged) could cause them to fall into the star. Not helped by the fact that Hephaestus is running with only three crew members and an AI (at the start at least) with limited supplies and only one engine.
  • Stepford Smiler: Mr. Cutter. True, it's an audio drama, so we never actually see said smile, but you can hear it.
  • The Stinger: Keep listening after the end credits for "Cigarette Candy" and "Overture".
  • The Storyteller: Kepler has a habit of going on long tangents about his adventures, most of which are comically farfetched and unlikely. The mini episode "Long Story Short" is consists almost entirely of Jacobi flashing back to the many stories he's had to hear out. May be a case of Badass Boast.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Kepler does this frequently when he's angry, or when he wants people to think he's angry. Exaggerated in "Desperate Times," when he goes off on Jacobi and Maxwell for their supposed failure to properly monitor the power grid and get Hera fixed so she no longer randomly crashes, respectively. Not that it's actually their fault, technically.
  • Survivor Guilt: "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story" reveals Hilbert suffers this. The town he lived in as a child was near a nuclear reactor that melted down. Hilbert implies that it killed most of his family, but the one that cut the deepest was his little sister, who died as he watched.
    • Also Lovelace.
    • As of "Boléro", Eiffel and Minkowski both have this regarding the deaths of Lovelace, Hilbert, and Maxwell. It's likely that other characters are suffering from this too, although that's not explored in-episode.
  • Survival Mantra: As shown in "Variations on a Theme", Lovelace has a few that boil down to "Be a big girl" and "Stay away from ghosts".
  • Sycophantic Servant: Jacobi has shades of this.
  • Take Our Word for It: We never get the full rules of Funzo or figure out exactly what happened with Jacobi and the cheeses. And we never see the spider, but judging by Eiffel's reactions, it was really big.
  • Talking to the Dead: In "Boléro," Minkowski talks to Lovelace, Hera talks to Maxwell, and Eiffel talks to Hilbert. Lovelace, Maxwell, and Hilbert were all killed the episode before.
    • In "Dirty Work", the episode opens with Minkowski alone in her quarters, having an in depth conversation with Hilbert. The episode ends with her thanking him for what he taught her.
      • Also in "Dirty Work", Maxwell guides Jacobi through taking over the Hephaestus.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Cutter makes a point of calling his employees by their first names, and frequently addresses Eiffel as "Dougie-boy," and various other cutesy variations on "Doug."
  • Theme Naming: Human members of the crew seem to all be named after some kind of famous scientist or engineer. Eiffel shares his name with the famous French engineer and architect, and Minkowski, Hilbert, and Lovelace are all named after mathematicians.
    • Meanwhile, on the non-human side, Hera, Rhea, and the U.S.S. Hephaestus get their names from Greek mythology. Additionally, a unit mentioned offhandedly in "Killing Time" is called Perseus. It seems Cutter has a fondness for Greek Myth.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lovelace gives a brutal one to Kepler in "Desperate Measures."
  • The Unapologetic: Hilbert seems to really believe his actions have been for the best, even when said actions have included murder.
    Hilbert: All right. Let us expedite this pointless conversation. My name is Alexander Hilbert. I have attempted to murder everyone in this room. Dr. Hui, Officer Lambert, Doctor Fourier, Rhea, I killed all of them. If this situation were the same, I would kill all of them again.
  • They Look Like Us Now: The Dear Listeners can replicate crew members, even down to things like memories and emotions.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Played With with Hera. Although she is not malicious, and genuinely seems to care about most of the crew (especially Eiffel, Minkowski, and Maxwell), we also know that she enjoys looking for loopholes in the very programming that prevents her from harming people, has attempted twice to exploit these loopholes and kill Hilbert. She has also apparently made attempts to override this programming completely, not because actually wanted to kill anyone, but because she wanted to know whether she could.
  • Title Drop: All of the episodes are named in this manner.
  • Token Evil Teammate: While none of the members of the Hephaestus crew could be considered particularly terrific human beings, Hilbert is the most ruthlessly amoral and conniving of the lot. Hilbert was this to the previous Hephaestus crew as well.
    • Jacobi and Maxwell also seem to get along with the protagonists quite well on some occasions, even when it's abundantly clear that they would kill everyone if given the order.
  • To the Pain: Kepler threatens Eiffel and Lovelace with a number of nasty-sounding devices.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Kepler, who outranks Minkowski, takes command of the Hephaestus.
  • Uncoffee: Made with seaweed, apparently.
  • Unnecessarily Large Vessel: The Hephaestus. Presumably because Phase Two requires additional personnel.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Eiffel, especially in early episodes.
    • In "All Things Considered," Eiffel, Minkowski, and Jacobi are all this, as all of them tell obviously untrue stories about what happened to Kepler's whiskey.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Knocking Maxwell and Jacobi unconscious is referred to as "popping the weasel."
    • When Cutter threatened to reprogram Hera, he referred to it as "pulling bricks out of the Jenga tower."
  • Villain Episode: A number of the mini-episodes. "Rebranding," "Things That Break Other Things," and "Language Mapping" show Hilbert, Jacobi, and Maxwell's recruitments, respectively, while "Kansas" shows us Kepler's promotion. We also hear from Rachel and Mr. Cutter in "Meanwhile."
  • Villainous Friendship: Jacobi and Maxwell very obviously care for each other. Jacobi sounds terrified when Maxwell gets trapped in one of the extraneous rooms and almost dies because temperature control is out. Maxwell, for her part, is absolutely devastated when they have to let the second Jacobi outside the module die in "Time To Kill".
    • Cutter and Pryce also qualify. Despite being the series resident Big Bads, they are shown to very obviously and openly care about each others safety and respect each others input, a privilege Cutter extends to no one else.
  • Villain Has a Point: Hilbert's Decima Project could have been legitimately beneficial to humanity, had he been able to complete it.
  • Villainous Rescue: Kepler and the SI5 crew save Eiffel from dying in deep space during "Mayday."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Eiffel and Minkowski seem to be headed this way as of season 2. They're not exactly clashing less than they used to, and they still bug the crap out of the other person, but there's a much stronger sense that they've got each others' backs when the going gets tough.
  • Walking Spoiler: Isabel Lovelace
    • The introduction of SI5 in Season 3 means that half the cast now consists of people you can't talk about without spoiling something.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Jacobi's loyalty to Kepler is probably at least partially daddy issues.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lovelace. Hilbert may also qualify.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Minkowski Commanding" becomes this at the end. Captain Lovelace is alive.
    • "Deep Breaths" becomes one when Hilbert reveals his true colors, takes control of Hera, and tries to kill Minkowski and incapacitate Eiffel.
    • "Lame-O Superhero Origin Story" and "Do No Harm" have a two-fer. The former has the Decima virus in Eiffel's bloodstream come out of dormancy and serve as a cliffhanger for "Do No Harm". The latter sees the star suddenly, abruptly shift color.
    • "Sécurité" also qualifies.
    • "Memoria" as well.
    • "Desperate Measures": At least three people are dead, the ship is blown half to hell, and Kepler has gone off the deep end.
    • "Dirty Work": Eiffel thinks he's figured out what The Dear Listeners want, and at the end of the episode he jumps into the star.
    • "Watchtower": Eiffel has a direct conversation with one of the Dear Listeners and finally learns their plan: they travel the universe forming alliances with races that have new technologies, but often destroy those they dislike. Fortunately they like humanity for one invention in particular: music. Also, the station has been taken over by Cutter, who is now actually on board there.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "Knock Knock":
    "Hello, does anyone copy? This is Douglas Eiffel aboard the USS Hephaestus station. Please respond."
    • From "Who's There?":
    "Commander, he's not showing up on any of my scans. He's gone."
    • From "Need to Know":
    "The court finds the defendant, Douglas Fernand Eiffel, guilty on one count of kidnapping and three counts of child endangerment."
    • "Boléro":
    "That's not Captain Lovelace, Eiffel. You've never met Isabel Lovelace. She has been dead for a very, very long time."
    • From "Watchtower":
    Cutter: Listen to the smart lady, Doug. Everything's going to be just fine. After all, I'm here now.
    • From "A Place for Everything"
    Cutter: Carter was fun though, I may bring back some of him for the next me.
    • From "Terms and Conditions":
    "Long story short? The end of the world, Minkowski. The end of the world."
    • A happier one from "Brave New World":
    Minkowski: But...but how did...oh...did he do it? Eiffel got us on the Urania?
    Jacobi: Oh please, what's a guy gotta do to get some credit around here?
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Eiffel gets a lot of this. He is quite skilled with the radio equipment and is often an emotional center, but he can also be lazy, scatterbrained, and not very knowledgable about the station. His feelings of uselessness as a result are a major focus of the live show.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: This question is pretty thoroughly explored with Hera, who is clearly a person, but is limited by her programming and not always treated as a person.
    • Specimen 34, AKA the "Plant Monster", starts as a lab experiment that got out of control and mostly survives by being better at traveling through crawlspaces and air vents than any of the crew, and finding dead zones where Hera can't track it. After spending weeks trying to hunt it, Minkowski discovers that all it wants to do is build a comfortable nest for itself and be left alone. Then one of the first things Kepler does is has that entire part of the station destroyed to kill it.
    • Further explored after the reveal that Lovelace is a clone created by the Dear Listeners, and the "real" Isabel Lovelace died years ago.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Eiffel's reaction to learning that Minkowski, Hilbert, and Lovelace planned to overthrow SI5 with napalm.
    • Hera to Minkowski after she shoots Maxwell.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: There is a series of bonus episodes showing how all of the characters got recruited by Goddard.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Eiffel is surprised to hear that people are listening to his logs.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Eiffel's crippling fear of spiders is one of the central elements of the plot in "Extreme Danger Bug."
  • Wrongly Accused: Subverted. Minkowski assumes that Eiffel was wrongly convicted of kidnapping and child endangerment, but it turns out that she doesn't even know the worst of it.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Minkowski's speech to Hera in "Let's Kill Hilbert."
    Hera: I can't. I can't do anything. I can't find the commands. The old me could've done this but now, after what he did to me, I just can't.
    Minkowski: Listen to me, Officer. You are crew of this ship. If Eiffel dies, it's because he trusted you, and you went behind his back. Do you want that?
    Hera: No!
    Minkowski: Then fix it.
    Hera: Have you been listening? I-
    Minkowski: Can. You are the smartest person I have ever met, Hera. Focus that intelligence, and save our moron.
  • You Are Not Alone: For as dark, isolated, and paranoid as Wolf 359 can be, found family and the abilities of very different people to get each other through difficult situations are major themes.
  • You Are Number 6: Before being granted a new designation and put into service, A.I. units are referred to by number. Hera was Unit 214.
    Dr. Pryce: "Hera?" Ugh, honestly, Marcus. You and your names.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The original Hephaestus crew that Lovelace was captain of was never supposed to make it out alive, and it seems the same of the current crew.
  • You Just Had to Say It: Hilbert to Eiffel in "The Empty Man Cometh"
  • You Have Failed Me: Cutter threatens to have Rachel pushed out a window should she fail to deliver some reports in time. Judging by the fact that we hear from her later, perfectly healthy if annoyed, he did not follow through on this threat.
    • In "Desperate Times," when important systems start failing just before the contact event, Kepler goes OFF on Jacobi and Maxwell.
    Kepler: Answer correctly, and you win...Jacobi's job! Jacobi's room! And a lovely set of steak knives, although you'll have to pull those out of Jacobi's incompetent corpse.
  • You Watch Too Much X: Eiffel has watched too much everything.