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A Science Fiction Radio Drama written by James Follett and broadcast on The BBC in The '80s.

Telson, Sharna, Darv and Astra are the only crew members of Challenger, a ten mile-long Generation Ship on a mission to discover a new planet for humanity to settle on after Earth's sun threatens to go nova. The entire first and second generation crew were killed when a meteorite struck the ship, an 'accident' arranged by the ship's sentient computers, Angel One and Two, when the humans wanted to abort the mission and return to Earth. Twenty years later the third generation have been raised thinking their Angels are literally guardian angels, except for the rebellious Darv who insists on exploring the damaged sections of Challenger which are outside the Angel's control. It's there he discovers a recording of a survey report of a habitable planet that the previous generation called Paradise. Meanwhile the Angels have decided it's the right time to return to Earth, which they calculate will have fallen into a state of barbarism enabling them to Take Over the World. Only due to Time Dilation from traveling at near the speed of light a million years have passed, and the Earth has vanished from its solar system.

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In Earthsearch 2 the Angels return intent on seizing the children of the protagonists, who have settled on Paradise. The Angels are being targeted by mysterious transmissions which are damaging to higher-level computers, so the Angels need a human crew to pilot the Challenger to seek out and destroy the source.

James Follett also wrote novelisations for Earthsearch and the second season (Earthsearch: Deathship) as well as a prequel novel Earthsearch: Mindwarp. The latter was made into a radio play by Big Finish and broadcast as a three-part series in 2006.


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This Radio Drama has the following tropes:

  • Absent Aliens: Although aliens are mentioned (the protagonists are often mistaken for them) they never encounter any, though alien spacecraft are seen in a Shipwreck Graveyard in Season 2.
  • Absurdly Dedicated Worker: Tidy, to everyone's irritation. After it loses contact with the Angels after the Great Meteoroid Strike, it continues to clean up its allocated area for decades though there's no-one there to make a mess. When they settle on Paradise it insists on sweeping their footprints off the beach every night, even though the tide is going to do that anyway. On the other hand after they're kidnapped by the Angels, Tidy makes a point of checking on their wellbeing every day they're in suspended animation, for over sixteen years.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • The central switching room for the Angels. In Season One they guard it with nightmare barriers (holographic monsters to frighten off intruders) and in Season 2 they integrate their systems into the ship to remove this vulnerability entirely. However Angels have to return to the central switching room to handle the vast intake of knowledge promised by Earthvoice, enabling it to destroy them.
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    • The Angels cannot pilot the Challenger directly; it needs a crew of four humans. Turns out you can program surgical-androids to do the job, but these too are subject to A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: The protagonists end Season One by giving up the search for their long-lost home planet Earth, settling instead on the planet "Paradise", which they vow to make "their own Earth".
  • Adult Fear:
    • When the Angels discover that Astra is pregnant, they decide to steal the foetus without her knowledge and raise the child in another part of the ship.
    • In Season 2 the Angels send an android to kidnap the children of the protagonists. The attempt only causes the accidental drowning of Astra's son. Then when they're forced to take refuge on the Challenger, the Angels knock out everyone and put the adults in suspended animation for sixteen years while allowing their children to age normally. By the time they are revived, Bran and Elka are adults with unquestioning faith in the Angels.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • The Angels were created as the control systems of the Challenger, but being in control of everything on board, and regarding themselves as superior to the crew who become increasingly dependent on them over each generation, makes it inevitable that they succumb to megalomania.
    • Solaria D was created as an artificial sun for the Earth while it was being moved to another solar system. When its freewill computer decides to Take Over the World, it threatens to fry an entire city if control of the other artificial suns isn't handed over to it. The President only avoids this by cutting off the tractor beams holding it in orbit. The protagonists aren't happy on finding out Solaria D wants to make contact with the Angels, and destroy it at the first opportunity.
    • In Season 2, the Angels have built Android Surgeon-General Kraken to control the other androids and pilot the ship as they no longer have a human crew. However the Axon disabling beacon also affects Kraken, and it eventually goes insane and wrests command of the ship from the Angels.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey!: The Earth Worshippers on Challenger II, which is a derelict hulk but whose fusion reactors will continue to work for millions of years.
    Dren: Oh Mighty Power, Guardian of the Fusion Reactors of our beautiful Holocaust City, Giver of Light and Warmth, Sentinel of the Food Farms, we ask you to accept the spirits of these two creatures into your Kingdom of the Planet Earth where they will find life everlasting.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen
    • The crew leave their starship in a shuttle to explore the derelict Challenger II. On returning they discover that Fagor has taken control of their own Challenger and is flying it away. It turns out they have enough fuel to catch up, but only after their air has run out. As if that wasn't bad enough, Fagor then sets out from their ship under its own power to finish them off anyway. Fortunately this provides the answer to both their problems — the crew discover that Fagor's master had upgraded the shuttle with plasma cannons, and once they've destroyed the robot they realise they can turn the shuttle around and accelerate backwards using the plasma cannons' recoil.
    • The Sentinel—a computer controlling the environment in a lunar dome— determines that the four humans are a threat and starts pumping the air out. Luckily they manage to talk it out of killing them just in time.
    • When Spaceguard Six explodes, flying debris damages the control tracks to the environmental systems. The plants in the farm galleries start dying, cutting them off from food or fresh oxygen. Although there's only six humans on the ten-mile ship, it's pointed out that the higher function androids (which have organic components) also use oxygen.
  • Alternative Calendar: When the Sentinel is told the Challenger left Earth in the year 2090 of the Third Millenium, it replies that the date is meaningless. However they're able to establish the launch date by saying it's 321 years after the first Moon landing, as the Sentinel is maintaining a museum on that historic event.
  • Apocalyptic Log:
    • The series begins with the previous commander of the Challenger announcing their return to Earth, just before the entire first and second generation crews are killed by the Great Meteoroid Strike. Astra then calls for the hologram recording to be turned off.
    • When the protagonists are on Solaria D, one of the orbiting artificial suns used when Earth was being moved to another solar system, they search through the records of the crew to find out where Earth went, but only find routine technical reports. Then they play an unlabelled disk that shows the commander of Solaria D calling on the President of Earth to cut the tractor beams holding Solaria D in orbit because its freewill computer has gone insane and is about to burn up a city unless its demands are met. The commander is then killed by a welding android sent by Solaria D.
  • Ancient Keeper: Several Artificial Intelligence versions with the Moon Sentinel and the Custodian of the Past in Season 1, and Earthvoice in Season 2.
  • Appeal to Force: Killer Robots like Fagor and Kraken are able to take over the ship by dominating the surgeon-androids, the only androids with the intelligence and dexterity to pilot Challenger. As they are expensive and delicate machines, the surgeon-androids are programmed for self-preservation, so threats to Crush, Kill or Destroy them are an excellent motivator.
  • The Ark: In Season 2 the Angels try to force the humans off Paradise, using Hostile Terraforming to melt the icecaps and make it rain for forty days and nights, causing a global flood. Fortunately their large ferry shuttle is airtight, and so they are able to salvage some flora and breeding pairs of the local animals.
  • Baby Factory:
    • While among the Underpeople, Darv forces one of them to show him where the men are. She takes him to the suspended animation chambers where all the males are kept until needed for breeding purposes.
      Recording: Hallo. My name is Forty-One. I was born during the seventh generation and I was last activated during the hundred and tenth generation when I helped provide Karina of the Velos family with a daughter.
    • The Angels are using their human crew as this. Whenever their plans don't appear to be working, they make preparations to raise another generation under their control and then kill off the previous one.
  • Bedtime Brainwashing: The Angel computers send hypnotic commands to the crew as they are being revived from suspended animation, but are still in REM sleep. This includes making Darv and Astra forget they've seen the Paradise survey report, and making them accept their sexual maturity as normal.
  • Benevolent A.I.: After two seasons of the malevolent version Earthvoice averts the trope; though at first it appears otherwise, this is only to lure the Angel organic computers to their destruction.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Angels have monitors all over Challenger, originally for the crew's protection. However thanks to the Great Meteroid Strike there are large parts of the ship that they can't monitor. Also Darv discovers the feeds in their quarters and disables them so the Angels can't monitor their conversations. In Season 2 they install dummy tracks as a decoy, but our heroes realise finding them was too easy and seek out the real ones. They then leave Tidy to guard their quarters so they can't be repaired while they're away.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Telson and Sharna turn up Just in Time to save Darv and Astra from being killed by Thorden with Deadly Gas, who later return the favour by saving Telson and Sharna from being hung by the Earth Worshipers.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When the crew is revived in Paradise's solar system, the Angels have to resort to increasingly implausible fibbers as to why Challenger can't investigate the inner planets and why all the sensor systems have been knocked out of action.
    • After various Half Truths fail to convince Darv and Astra that Paradise is actually a Death World, the Angels claim that the Northern Lights are caused by high levels of radiation that is fatal to humans.
    • In Season 2, the Angels try to lure the protagonists into the Challenger, which has been extensively redesigned to make it appear to be another spacecraft. They deny this of course, claiming that a programming error caused an android to paint VOYAGER 30 on the outside. Darv asks if the same programming error also caused it to add 23RD EARTH TRANS-GALACTIC SURVEY MISSION as well.
  • Brain in a Jar: In the novelization freewill computers take this form. In the radio series Telson describes the Angels as two racks of organic integrated wetware circuits.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Telson starts the series with unquestioning faith in the Angels, and ends up discovering these godlike beings are just two racks of organic circuitry who Ain't Too Proud to Beg for their lives.
    • In Season 2, Bran loses confidence in the Angels when they hand over control of the Challenger to his father (who handles the crisis better than the Angels anyway), and Elka when the Angels reveal just how expendable she is to them.
  • The Captain: Telson is made commander by the Angels because of his unquestioning faith in them. However he gradually learns to be more flexible in his thinking, which is why the others continue to accept his authority when they've lost faith in the Angels. In Season 2, the Angels put his son in charge of the Challenger, but no-one takes Bran seriously as they know he's just a puppet captain. As soon as a real emergency arises, the Angels force him to 'temporarily' hand over command to his father.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Angels only loyalty is to themselves. Telson even contemplates allowing Solaria D to contact them, as freewill computers are so self-centered it can only do them harm. He changes his mind on finding that Solaria D has gone mad with power and is seeking an ally to conquer Earth.
  • City in a Bottle
    • On the derelict hulk of Challenger II, the protagonists discover a society that denies the existence of a universe outside the spaceship and regards Earth as the equivalent of Heaven. Those shown the stars through an observation portal Go Mad from the Revelation or assume they're being deceived with fake images.
    • The prequel, Earthsearch: Mindwarp takes place in an Underground City thought to be surrounded by rock infinitely in all directions, but when the main characters escape they find themselves on the original Earth.
  • Cliffhanger: As you'd expect in an episodic Radio Drama.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Darv asks George the agricultural android if he's heard of the Great Meteoroid Strike. George retorts indignantly that androids do not strike.
  • Computer Voice: Angel One is 'female' while Angel Two has a male voice. At the end of Season 2 there's an Oh, Crap! moment when, after the Angels have supposedly been destroyed, their voices answer during a systems check, but Darv realises that the voice would be one of the harmless subsystems left untouched by Earthvoice. Most androids have the usual Machine Monotone.
  • Constantly Curious: Darv disobeys the Angels by exploring the Forbidden Zones; areas of the starship which are not covered by their surveillance that the Angels claim are dangerous. However when the Angels discover Earth is missing, they realise Darv's curiosity will be more useful to them in finding Earth than Telson's caution and obedience.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Somewhere in the vastness of interstellar space they just happen to accidentally run into the Challenger's sister vessel, just so they can have an adventure on board. The Angels comment on how unlikely this is.
    • The Challenger ends up near the Paradise planet when going to explore the nearest star cluster. Worse for the Angels, it happens right when they have to take the crew out of suspended animation because Astra is pregnant.
    • The crew defeat an evil robot that tried to take over the ship. Having done so they decide it's time to set course for their next destination, but it turns out that they don't have to, because out of all the infinite directions it could have chosen the evil robot randomly selected the very course they wanted to take.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: Darv and Astra are viewing the Paradise recording in the library's hologram player when the player shuts down due to a fault in the disc, or so the Angels claim.
  • Cool Starship: The Challenger is a ten mile long Generation Ship capable of reaching relativistic speeds. Its mission is to search for habitable planets, and it's equipped with sophisticated Terraforming equipment and two of the most advanced computers ever built.
  • Crush. Kill. Destroy!
    Fagor: [gunfire] [gunfire] No-one! The cowardly vermin hide from Fagor. [gunfire] When Fagor finds them, Fagor kills! [gunfire] Kills! [gunfire] Kills!
    Angel One: Fagor...
    Fagor: The murderer of the Lord Thorden!
    Angel One: Fagor!
    Angel One: Listen Fagor, there is no-one there. We are all around. We are the Angels: Angel One and Angel Two. We are the Challenger's control systems. [gunfire] All that has done is destroy one voice terminal, Fagor. There are a million throughout—[gunfire]
    Fagor: Then Fagor will destroy a million voice terminals!
  • Cutting the Knot
    • When Fagor wants to go somewhere, he just blasts through every bulkhead in a straight line instead of trying to navigate the corridors.
    • In Season 2 our heroes have to find the main control room after the Angels have redesigned the entire ship. However they realise that the control room hasn't been moved after all—instead a maze of corridors have been created to misdirect them. So they use their PD guns to cut a hole in the bulkheads like Fagor did.
  • Cryonics Failure: A scheming warlord tries to blackmail the computers into letting him join the crew; he hides a military robot on board that's programmed to activate if his life signs fail. He thinks this is perfect insurance against the computers killing him by sabotaging his cryosleep pod. He's wrong.
  • Death World: The Angel computers attempt to dissuade their human crew (who have spent their entire lives on Challenger) from settling on Paradise by claiming the seas are poisonous and the Northern Lights are a sign of high radiation levels.
  • Delusions of Grandeur
    • All freewill computers eventually go mad with power and want more of it.
    • In the episode "Megalomania", Android Surgeon-General Kraken declares he's going to conquer a sun and absorb its energy, then every other sun until he's the most powerful being in the Universe. He's quite mad by this stage of course. It's also in this episode that we discover Elka is the real villain of the two children, and the Angels have promised her that she and her descendants will rule the Earth.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Lenart gleefully slaughters the inhabitants of Holocaust City with laser cannons, as the two societies hate each other after generations of conflict.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: The Angels just want power for its own sake.
  • Do-Anything Robot:
    • Averted at first as androids are programmed for specific roles. However the crew realise that the surgical androids have the dexterity and intelligence to be reprogrammed to pilot the ship.
    • In Season 2, George the agricultural robot and Tidy the cleaning robot find themselves being used to fight other killer robots, as George is built like a tank and Tidy has the necessary dexterity to handle a PD gun. Neither are particularly happy about being used for tasks outside their programming.
  • Earth All Along: Paradise is similar to Earth except that it's two-thirds covered in saltwater oceans, has four seasons, and is the third planet from its sun. Cleverly, throughout the series they had dropped hints that "their Earth" was not the same planet as ours, but then covered them up with Expospeak: for example, the other planets of their solar system have different names from ours, but as soon as this is revealed, it is mentioned offhand that the planets had been renamed. Likewise, we are told that their Earth was the second planet from its sun, but we are told this by a computer which is speculating wildly based on inaccurate information. At the end of Season 2 they discover the real Earth, but leave its inhabitants to evolve naturally and return to Paradise. "Paradise is our Earth now."
  • Earth That Was: Having predicted that their sun would go nova, humanity sent the Challenger expeditions to find a habitable planet, and eventually developed the technology to move their planet in its entirety to another solar system.
  • Enfant Terrible: Bran as a child appears to be a budding psychopath. Turns out he's being mind-controlled by his sister Elka, committing wicked pranks to make her look good by comparison.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Earthvoice has the humans listen in on its conversation with the Angels, who urge Earthvoice to kill them as a threat, even Elka and Bran whom they've promised will rule Earth on their behalf. This breaks their devotion to the Angels once and for all.
  • Eternal English: The language the protagonists speak is no different from the other humans they encounter, even though there's a million years difference between them. In fact they frequently cite the fact that they speak the same language as proof that they are not Human Aliens.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Thorden is reluctant to kill Astra and Darv with Deadly Gas because they look just like children. He goes ahead however when urged on by the Imperial Prosecutor.
    • When Elka and the Angels urge Bran to kill their parents, he refuses. It's the first time he's refused his sister anything and causes him to start throwing off her influence.
  • Evil Is Hammy
    • Thorden is the Grand Emperor of the Solaric Empire, and so has the requisite boisterous ham.
    • Bran as an adult is a gun-toting megalomaniac. Unlike Thorden, no-one takes him seriously as they know he's just a puppet for the Angels. Turns out he's a puppet for Elka, and this is all just an act.
  • Evil Plan: The Angels want to find Earth because they want to rule an entire planet instead of a single starship. They calculate that Earth will have fallen into barbarism while they were away, so they can rule as Gods with their human crew as Puppet Kings. Once human society has advanced in technology, they can be used to conquer the Universe as well.
  • False Reassurance
    • When Telson and Sharna say they're searching for Earth, the Earth Worshippers promise to send them there. As Earth is their equivalent of Heaven, this involves putting a noose around their necks and placing them on top of a trapdoor.
    • Thorden assures Telson that he's coming up to Challenger in an unarmed ferry shuttle. That doesn't stop his weapon shops from upgrading it with an extensive arsenal for his next visit.
  • Fantastic Racism: The androids think they're more efficient than the lazy and easily distracted humans, the humans think they're better than the androids which are not too bright and Just a Machine anyway, and the Angels think they're better than everyone because they've got Delusions of Grandeur.
  • Foil: The frivolous and disobedient Darv and Astra, for the more stoic and task-oriented Telson and Sharna.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Angel" means Ancillary Guardians of Environment and Life.
  • Future Imperfect: In the Solaric Empire, Earth is now regarded as a fairy tale, even by the Custodian of the Past, an AI that maintains the records.
  • Forbidden Zone: The uncontrolled zones that the Angel's monitoring systems can't cover. Darv keeps disobeying to explore them, and eventually discovers a hologram recording in the cabin of the previous commander about the discovery of Paradise, a habitable planet.
  • Generation Ship: Though it's also combined with Sleeper Starship.
  • Ghost Planet:
    • The protagonists are surprised to find the Moon covered in domed cities that are completely deserted, as the Moon has long since been evacuated due to the dangers of radiation from the sun, and returning there is now taboo. The inhabitants of Zelda Five have long since abandoned their own domed cities and now live underground.
    • Earth has only a single township with less than ten thousand people.
  • Gratuitous Panning: Whenever the two Angel computers are speaking to each other, one is on the left and the other on the right. Originally due to the limitations of FM stereo receivers, this tended to cause a slight distortion on the vacant channel. Now that the series is only re-run on the digital Radio 4 Extra, the problem no longer arises.
  • Half Truth: The Angels describing Paradise as a Death World. Isn't almost seven-tenths of its surface covered by water, which by the way happens to be undrinkable? Doesn't it have an axial tilt causing severe temperature changes that would inhibit the growth of crops? Isn't most of the land in the Northern hemisphere, where it can be affected by ice ages which have threatened global extinction several times? Not to mention an atmosphere that doesn't provide full protection from cosmic ray bombardment.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management:
    • Challenger II has split into two societies after generations of conflict. One denies the existence of anything outside the hull of the spaceship. The other society rejects the offer of leaving on with the protagonists on the Challenger, as the search for Earth seems to be just the kind of unrealistic pipe dream offered by past leaders to motivate and control their people.
    • The Angels are so fixated on finding the source of the signals they ignore information that the Challenger is being drawn into a black hole. Even when they accept this as fact, Angel One refuses to allow the humans into the control room to steer the Challenger away from danger.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After a number of Break the Haughty moments, Bran finally shakes off the influence of his sister Elka and refuses to go along with the Angel's plan to kill his father.
  • Hologram: Used for library records, communications, and the nightmare barriers the Angels use to defend their central switching room.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: When they finally find Earth, the civilisation that once had the technology to move their planet to another solar system is now a mere ten thousand primitives scratching out an existence on a desert planet.
  • Humans Are Psychic in the Future: Erika has Mind-Control Eyes that the Angels have taught her to use, but no explanation for this is given in an otherwise hard-scifi series. Though there was a suggestion that the Angels had somehow influenced her in the womb.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Elka uses her Mind-Control Eyes on Sharna to make her hand over her firearm, but she's able to shake off the effects and grab it back as she never loaded the weapon in the first place. She then points out that years of dealing with the Angels have made her more resistant to such tricks.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • The Challenger isn't armed, but Telson flies it low over Zelda Five and turns on the Deflector Shields used to destroy incoming asteroids. He then threatens to destroy the entire planet if his captured crewmembers aren't handed over.
      • Averted in the novelisation when they're no use against Fagor — the Angels lure him out of the ship, but they're only designed to destroy incoming objects. Fortunately there are actual weapons on the shuttle the protagonists are on, as Thorden has secretly armed it.
    • In Season 2 the Angels show the Challenger's terraforming technology can be used for Hostile Terraforming if needed.
  • Indy Ploy: Darv's plan for being Almost Out of Oxygen. Not wanting to go back to Challenger II and join one of their societies (one which will likely kill them and the other will put him and Telson in People Jars), he knocks out Telson and Sharna, then burns the all fuel heading after their spacecraft, hoping to work out how to make up nine hours of missing oxygen on the way.
  • Interstellar Weapon: In Season 2 transmissions designed to attack freewill computers are being sent out from another part of the galaxy by Earthvoice, who has been warned by the Moon Sentinel that the Challenger is searching for Earth.
  • It's the Only Way: When the Angels refuse to move Challenger closer to Paradise, claiming that the inner planets are bathed in deadly radiation, Darv and Astra steal a shuttle knowing they won't have enough fuel to return. They end up running out of fuel and ditch in the ocean.
  • It Won't Turn Off: Right after the Angels decide to erect nightmare barriers because they're worried that Astra and Darv are getting too close to their central switching room, a hologram projector in the room they're hiding in starts playing images of strange creatures. Astra starts to panic, thinking that the Angels are toying with them, but Darv suddenly realises that he turned on the projector three hours ago, and it's playing a transmission that only just arrived from a probe. A probe that's landed on a planet that the Angels claim could not support life.
  • Killer Robot:
    • To ensure his safety while on the Challenger, Thorden smuggles on board the warrior android Fagor, a ten foot tall black android with six manipulator arms, dynamic widebeam lasers and built-in thrusters so it can travel in space.
    • In Season 2 the Angels have created Fagor-like Mecha-Mooks to defend the central control room. They don't appear to be as good as Fagor though, because the protagonists send them down like chumps with their PD guns. Their commander Android Surgeon-General Kraken gives them a lot more trouble.
  • Lady Land: The Underpeople are a female society that keeps men in cryogenic suspension until they're needed for reproductive purposes. The protagonists escape before ending up a Human Popsicle themselves.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: When Darv and Astra see the Paradise survey report the Angels wipe their memory while they are asleep because the Angels want to conquer a developed world rather than colonize an undeveloped one. Darv does still remember some of the recording after his memory is jogged, but the Angels feel it's too risky to do so a second time.
  • Logic Bomb:
    • The Sentinel starts to pump all the air out of the library dome, because its programming orders it to kill anyone searching for Earth. So the protagonists open fire on the control circuits; as the Sentinel is also programmed to protect the library, it's forced to release them.
    • Higher-level androids will malfunction if forced to make decisions on their own for long periods of time. More and more of their processing faculties are diverted to decision-making at the cost of their judgement, leading to Insane Troll Logic. This happens to Android Surgeon-General Kraken when he's cut off from the Angels after an attack by the axon disabling beam.
  • Machine Worship: At the start of the series, the protagonists are divided over whether the Angels really are guardian angels or merely the Challenger's control systems.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident
    • The Great Meteoroid Strike. The Angels become aware of a meteorite on a collision course, so they arrange for the crew to have a group meeting where the meteorite is going to impact, then turn off the sensors and asteroid defense systems for 'routine maintenance'.
    • Thorden is killed with a Cryonics Failure, the Angels claiming afterwards that it was because they weren't familiar with his biology. It's not an explanation that Fagor accepts.
  • Mama Bear: Astra is the most timid member of the group until she realises she's pregnant; then she's willing to take any risk because she's convinced (accurately) that the Angels intend to steal her child. This is why the Angels were stopping the crew from sexually maturing — they would put the interest of their children first, as the second generation crew did when they voted to give up the Earthsearch mission.
  • Manchild: A physical version. When they encounter other humans, the protagonists are treated as children or Humanoid Abominations.
  • Mile-Long Ship: Challenger is ten miles long. An extensive rebuilding prior to Season 2 to remove the section damaged by the Great Meteoroid Strike reduces its length to seven miles.
  • Moral Myopia: Our heroes cheer when Spaceguard Six explodes killing everyone in it. Yes they were holding them against their will, but the Challenger really was a threat to Earth, and the inhabitants of Spaceguard Six had dedicated generations of lives to defending it. The novelisation averts this with Darv's muted response when Telson congratulates him.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Darv is fascinated with the 'growths' on women's chests once his sexuality starts developing.
  • No Nudity Taboo:
    • The protagonists until they start sexually maturing, then they start feeling inexplicably embarrassed about their nakedness. Astra regards her growing breasts as Body Horror until the Angels brainwash her to accept the changes to her body as normal.
    • In the novelisation, Lenart strips off her spacesuit to show she's naked underneath.
  • Not in My Contract: Tidy is a cleaning and garment-making robot, but its dexterity causes it to be used as a Do-Anything Robot to handle one crisis after another, ranging from burying a dead elephant to going into battle against Killer Robots. It is not happy about this and doesn't hesitate to make its feelings known.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In Season 2
    • Darv pretends to be ignorant of what a central switching room is, so Solaria D will allow him past the androids guarding it to carry out repairs. Once inside it's a simple matter to pull the plug.
    • Elka pretends to be The Ditz when she's actually the real villain, dominating Bran with her psychic powers.
  • Only One Name: The protagonists, justified as there's only four of them on the ship, so they don't need more than one name. When they encounter
  • Only Smart People May Pass: In Season 2, the protagonists finally succeed in finding Earth, only it's a wasteland with what remains of humanity occupying a village next to a tower holding a repository of all human knowledge. The single door is designed so it can only be opened after humanity has regained a certain level of scientific development. The door contains a radioactive isotope that heats the door slightly so it jams in the frame, requiring refrigeration technology to reverse the effect.
  • Orwellian Retcon: The Angels have removed all references to sex from the library and visual records of people without clothes, so their crew won't realise how their maturity has been impeded. When Darv stumbles on a recording of a habitable planet, including an unclothed native woman breastfeeding a baby, the Angels brainwash him to forget he saw it. When they decide to allow the crew to sexually mature, they then implant subliminal suggestions so they accept the changes as normal.
  • Planet Spaceship: A literal version; Earth was surrounded by orbiting artificial suns and moved to another solar system.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Telson is so cautious when the two women are exploring the Moon that even Sharna ends up Removing the Earpiece so they don't have to listen to him warning them about possible threats. However they end up being Lured into a Trap anyway when the Sentinel tries to kill them.
    • The Moon Sentinel and Spaceguard Six try to stop our heroes from getting to Earth because they're guarding it against potential threats. But the Angels actually are a threat to Earth, which has collapsed into a primitive state as they have predicted.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The fusion reactors on the Challenger II are still working, and will continue to do so for millions of years even though it's a derelict shattered by internal warfare.
  • Raised by Robots: The protagonists are raised by nursery androids.
  • Ray Gun: PD (plasma discharge) guns.
  • Reverse Polarity: Our heroes escape Spaceguard Six by setting negative traction at at 150% on the Artificial Gravity holding them there. It works too well, throwing all the captive spacecraft into space and destroying Spaceguard Six in the process. Turns out the reverse of traction is explosion.
  • Robot Buddy: Cleaning robot Tidy and agricultural robot George. Unlike the Angels they are loyal and obedient but never happy about all the tasks they're constantly being forced to do that are outside their programming. Tidy has a Running Gag of complaining about all the mess he has to clean up, while George always gripes that Robots Are Just Better but it's no use expecting miracles from them.
  • Robots Think Faster
    • The Sentinel asks our heroes to be patient for a few moments... because it's consulting records over a million years old for information on the Challenger.
    • In Season 2, the fact that the Angels are too busy to answer routine queries from the crew is a sign that they're suffering more from the mysterious transmissions than they claim.
    • When Kraken goes mad and decides to overload the fusion engines, Darv informs him there's a thousand safety interlock codes he'd have to remove first. Kraken proceeds to demonstrate just how quickly an android with six manipulator arms can enter a thousand codes.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Loads of biblical references, the implication being that these are origin stories that have become myths for our own world.
    • The Angels have been putting drugs in the food to prevent the crew from reaching sexual maturity. However Darv takes Astra to the food galleries and they start eating Tempting Apples right off the trees, so their bodies start maturing and they eventually have sex, leading to an Adam and Eve Plot.
    • Also as per Adam & Eve, once they do start maturing the characters feel inexplicably embarrassed about their nakedness.
    • Early in Earthsearch 2, the crew load breeding pairs of animals into a shuttle to wait out a global flood caused by rain that lasts forty days and nights.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Tidy's default setting. Though there are times when you can't blame him.
    Telson: Tidy, a job for you. You're to stay by the entrance. If that door tries to close, you're to jam it with your body and yell.
    Tidy: Thanks. I'm glad to be of use!
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • The Solarian Empire defeated their own Angels in the First Computer War and buried them in a vault on Kyros in case some of the circuits were still active. They're not happy when the protagonists detect a magnetic anomoly and start digging there.
    • Emperor Thorden has the Custodian of the Past locked away under his personal seal. Helan's abhorrence to it implies that it's an AI of some kind, though it's not malevolent that we see and even regards Thorden with some fondness.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Sex is only implied, though this is also because the protagonists have no idea what sex is even after they've done it — they're just acting on inexplicable compulsions they've never had before.
  • Science-Fiction Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Averted; even travelling at near-light speed requires a multiple generation crew who still have to spend years in suspended animation. Though there's still the occasional Contrived Coincidence for Rule of Drama.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Great Meteorite Strike causes more damage than the Angels anticipated, removing their control of large parts of the ship and destroying their knowledge of Time Dilation.
  • Shipwreck Graveyard: In the episodes "Supermass" and "Deathship" the Challenger is drawn into a black hole, only to discover it's an artificial construct littered with derelict spacecraft. This is Spaceguard Six, whose inhabitants are dedicated to protecting an Earth they've never seen by trapping any potential invader.
  • Sleeper Starship: Relativity is never violated, as interstellar travel is only possible due to suspended animation.
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: Androids like George or Tidy are level 3, and are often used to coordinate Level 1 and 2 service androids. The Angels think themselves Level 5, and they are at least Level 4.
  • Space Is Noisy: Lampshaded when the Custodian of the Past supplies sound effects for her lecture on the origin of the solar system, despite there being no sound in space. The axon disabling beam makes a musical sound, but it's speculated that this is actually caused by harmonic resonances being created when it strikes the ship.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Averted; the crew draw straws on who goes on their first mission to a planetary surface, and the two women are selected. After this they naturally fall into their Darv/Astra and Telson/Sharna pairings.
  • Stealth Pun: Kraken puts a sun on the monitor and announces that he intends to conquer it.
    Darv: What a bright idea.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer
    • The Angel computers use Bedtime Brainwashing to make Darv forget about the Paradise survey recording, by associating it with a childhood nightmare to make his subconscious mind afraid of remembering the recording. Later when Darv gets insolent they induce a fear response by transmitting a subliminal signal to remind him of the nightmare. The 'nightmare barriers' guarding the Angel's central switching room use this in combination with holograms of monsters.
    • In Season 2, the Artificial Gravity room of Spaceguard Six is guarded by an auto-suggestion field that causes a fear response to deter people from entering. Elka is unaffected because she's wearing an alien space helmet, but the moment she takes it off she becomes a Hysterical Woman. Why the aliens didn't use these helmets to enter the AG room and escape is not mentioned; perhaps they couldn't read the Eternal English on the control panel?
  • Sword over Head: Telson makes it to the central switching room and finds their guardian angels are nothing more than a couple of circuit racks that could be smashed with a hammer. He decides they are Not Worth Killing, a decision he regrets when the Angels return to kidnap their children in Season 2.
  • Tempting Fate
    • When Telson threatens to blast Zelda Five to rubble, Thorden threatens to launch his intercepters only to be told they've been wiped out in the last blast from Challenger.
    • Astra isn't coping well with her first exposure to nature, so Darv assures her that everyone will turn out alright. Cue the thunderstorm.
    • Agricultural android George is being used as an improvised tank, and says that androids do not shoot at androids. Several Killer Robots appear and immediately set about proving him wrong.
  • Terraform: Challenger has the equipment to modify a planet if needed to make it habitable. In Season 2, Angels One and Two force the humans off Paradise and back onto their spaceship by using its terraforming technology to melt the icecaps, causing massive flooding. The technology is used for a more benevolent purpose at the end of the season when they discover a drought-stricken Earth.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink
  • Tempting Apple
    • Astra and Darv are munching on them shortly before they give up their innocence by having sex for the first time.
    • In Earthsearch: Deathship, the protagonists are driven out of Paradise when a bomb hidden in an apple sprays them with Knockout Gas. The radio series just has them gassed by a surgical droid.
  • The Last Man Heard a Knock...: At the start of Season 2, the humans have the entire planet to themselves. Then after one of Astra's children is apparently taken by a shark, Tidy complains of having to clean up the tracks of a strange android who has been going up and down the beach at night. They follow the tracks and find the dead child with a breathing mask on back-to-front (causing him to drown) and marks from an android's manipulator claw. The kicker is when the android is later destroyed, and they realise its PD weapon is identical to their own. Which can only mean the Angels have returned.
  • There Was a Door:
    • Fagor just blasts his way through every bulkhead in his path without bothering with doors.
    • Finding that Thorden's 'unarmed' shuttle is equipped with plasma cannons, they have no problem blasting some bulkheads in the already well-holed Challenger II to rescue Telson and Darv.
      Lenart: What a lovely way of making holes!
  • This Is Unforgivable!:
    • Telson refuses to believe that the Angels are malevolent (in fairness, he has no proof that they're not other than Darv and Thorden's suspicions) but when Darv and Astra reveal that the Angels lied about Paradise being uninhabitable, he goes right for the central switching room the moment he finds its location on a schematic.
    • In Season 2 after the Angels kidnap their children, Telson heads back there again determined to kill them off for good. Unfortunately the Angels have moved their central switching room.
  • Time Dilation: A major plot point. The children of a starship's third-generation crew, the sole survivors of a disaster that killed the crew and erased a huge amount of scientific data (including the concept of time dilation itself), return the ship to their home solar system 115 years after it set out, only to find that a million years have passed outside. Oh, and the Earth is missing.
  • Too Clever by Half: Thanks to the memory loss caused by the Great Meteoroid Strike, the Angels are a literal case of being not as smart as they think they are, and their arrogance causes them to consistently underestimate their opponents.
  • Tractor Beam: Taken Up to Eleven with an artificial black hole!
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: In-Universe. In Season 2 the Challenger is drawn towards a massive black hole, but they notice that it's not giving out the usual amount of X-Rays. Turns out it's an artificial construct used to trap potential hostile spacecraft heading for the Earth.
  • Uriah Gambit: In Mindwarp, one character is on trial for desecration—the penalty being death—but his lawyer gets the charge reduced to community service. Community service turns out to involve being conscripted to fight a war, whose opponents are also people the government wants to get rid of.
  • Vestigial Empire: The once mighty Solaric Empire is now just a few moons around the outer planets and some mined-out asteroids, populated by the descendants of the colonists who chose to remain behind when Earth was taken to another solar system to escape the sun going nova. On encountering the protagonists and being told there's an actual Earth out there (long since regarded as a myth), Grand Emperor Thorden immediately realises the potential of a resource rich planet where you don't have to live in an Underground City, and starts scheming to seize their spaceship and conquer Earth for himself.
  • Wetware CPU: The Angels are organic integrated circuitry (the more sophisticated androids also have organic components, though they don't have freewill). In Season 2, the Angels remove themselves from the vulnerable switching room and integrate themselves into the Challenger so you can't destroy them without destroying the ship. A concern is even raised that the Angels may have incorporated themselves into the brains of their crew.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: The Angels aren't worried about Fagor, because who would be stupid enough to make a Killer Robot that can self-activate its weapon system? Turns out even though the Solaric Empire fought at least three Computer Wars, they've no problem using Robot Soldiers.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The series starts with the Angels killing the entire first and second generation of Challenger's crew after four babies have been born, four being the minimum needed to pilot the starship. Any other human that falls under their control is only kept alive as long as they are useful to their plans.
  • You Keep Using That Word: A black hole is referred to as a hypothetical (which it was back in The '80s) phenomena, but then Bran says he's observed them before, in which case they're no longer hypothetical.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: While he is asleep Angel One sends Darv a memory of a childhood nightmare, promising to save Darv if he forgets the Paradise recording.
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