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Recap / DuckTales S1E4 "Where No Duck Has Gone Before"

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The nephews and Doofus are wild over Courage of the Cosmos and are thrilled when Scrooge gets the studio (as repayment for an overdue loan) and they get to meet the lead actor. But when they, "Courage", and Launchpad find themselves literally launched into space, they find that the real hero may be much closer to home.

This episode includes the following tropes:

  • Accidental Astronaut: During the filming of the first revamped episode, the starship Phoenix smashes through the ceiling and goes into space (Scrooge told Gyro to make the set as real as possible, and Gyro took him literally). This causes trouble when the group encounters very real and hostile aliens.
  • Actor/Role Confusion: The boys don't seem to recognize that Major Courage is a TV character and the actor's stunts on the show are no less fake than the scenery. They get a hard lesson on this when they see "Major Courage" in actual action, and he's nothing like the heroic character he portrays.
  • An Aesop:
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: It takes the nephews and Doofus a substantial part of the episode (and "Major Courage" most of it) to realize that they're really in outer space with real aliens instead of on a set. Launchpad discovers it after inadvertently dumping himself into outer space.
  • Angry Collar Grab: In Major Courage's first scene, he sees Scrooge and company and grabs the director by the collar, demanding to know what the "clowns" are doing hanging around his set. When the director tells him Scrooge owns the studio, Courage immediately lets go of him in favor of flattering his new boss.
  • Answer Cut: As the Phoenix approaches the asteroid field, Courage hammily declares that the boys don't need to fear because he's here, and then adds as an aside that this is just a TV show anyway. The camera then cuts to Launchpad, carefully controlling his terror as he tries to save the ship from the very real danger.
  • Artistic License Film Production: No one on seasonal television has contracts that last longer than the life of a given series, presumably to avoid situations like Major Courage's at the end of the episode.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Launchpad, the only person aware that a field of asteroids is real and deadly, has an absolutely terrifying time trying to keep the Phoenix from running into them. Ultimately, he brings it "right through without a scratch", but the toll the experience took on him is clear as he staggers upstairs to inform the others.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Launchpad accidentally dumps himself into outer space when he opens the wrong door. Not only can he breathe, but he can also talk.
  • Boom, Headshot!: A G-rated example; Launchpad blasts Bulvan in the face with the food-maker he nabbed from the Kronks' robot, knocking him back and blurring his vision long enough for the party to escape.
  • Broken Pedestal: Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Doofus idol worship Major Courage, hero of the TV show "Courage of the Cosmos." The boys go on the show and are blind to the fact that their hero is just a vain, egotistical actor. When they realize that they have really been launched into outer space and real aliens have captured them, Courage panics, and the boys see what a coward he really is ("real heroes just do their jobs!").
    Courage: What happened? What's going on?
    Huey: We're going home!
    Dewey: No thanks to you!
    Louie: Yeah!
    Doofus: You've been saved by a real hero — Launchpad McQuack!
  • Cassandra Truth: No one believes Launchpad when he says that they're in space.
  • Corrupted Character Copy: Major Courage is a copy of William Shatner's Kirk, in all the wrong ways. The "major" continually talks in the same odd rhythm that Kirk uses when he gets excited, and is equally hammy, but in reality, he's got none of the courage of the original. Kirk, while he doesn't interact with children much thanks to his job, protects them fiercely from any peril. "Courage" (or rather, his actor) readily abandons the boys to save himself. Part of this is the merge between character and actor during the episode. We see almost nothing about how Courage is portrayed in the show, but the actor, while he's happy to adopt the role of heroic space commander to show off, doesn't live up to the hype.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The actor who plays Major Courage tries to punch out the alien overlord, still convinced the entire adventure has been an episode. He gets a couple of strikes, to no effect, and then the alien smacks him against the wall. This finally makes him realize what's happening, and he races for the ship and takes off without the others.
  • Death by Transceiver: Subverted. Scrooge is angrily watching Courage over the "radio" when the Kronk ship goes chasing after him and eventually catches the Phoenix, which disrupts the transmission again. However, given that it's Launchpad driving the Kronk ship, Courage doesn't get anything more than a bad scare.
  • Dirty Coward: Courage abandons Launchpad and the others on the alien spaceship after realizing that they really are in space.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Courage's wig falls down when Launchpad starts calling him out.
  • Dogpile Of Doom: The episode ends with Major Courage, now demoted to being a candy vendor, sinking under a swarm of bratty children all trying to get candy at the same time.
  • Episode Tagline: The sentence "Real heroes just do their jobs" appears multiple times.
  • Foil: Major Courage and Launchpad contrast with each other pretty much every single time they're in a scene together.

  • Glad I Thought of It: Seconds after Launchpad suggests that one of them should play sick as a distraction, Courage announces that they'll use "the old sickness ploy" to escape. Notably, Launchpad doesn't say anything, but unlike when Darkwing Duck pulls that routine on Launchpad all the time in his series, his smirk indicates he knows Courage did not come up with that idea on his own.
  • Gone Horribly Right: To increase the budget for Courage of the Cosmos as part of a way of reinventing it, Scrooge has Gyro build a new spaceship that he wants to be as realistic as possible. Gyro's response? Make it an actual working spaceship.
    Scrooge: [dumbfounded as the rocket blasts off] What did
    Gyro: [nervous] Well, you said make it as real as I could so... I did.
  • Good News, Bad News: After the "prop" spaceship blasts into outer space, Scrooge takes his frustrations out on the ground control transmitter, before asking Gyro if they have a radio to communicate.
    Gyro: [points nervously at wreckage] Well yes....and no.
    [Scrooge whimpers, realising what he's done]
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Launchpad gets antagonistic around Courage out of jealousy.
  • Hate at First Sight: Launchpad and Courage immediately become rivals because both of them want the boys' respect. Courage's unpleasant demeanor and lack of any real-life ability doesn't help matters.
  • Humiliation Conga: "Courage". In the climactic battle with (unbeknownst to him) real aliens in (again unbeknownst to him) real outer-space, he gets taken down easily. Then he realizes they are in space with real aliens and abandons the others. Exposed as a Dirty Coward, he loses the admiration and respect of the boys. When the failing show is canceled, with their blessing, and the studio becomes a museum, Courage is forced to work as a candy vendor. When Scrooge reminds him of his five-year contract, in front of a crowd of demanding bratty ducklings, Courage looks ready to bawl.
  • Idiot Houdini: Gyro Gearloose. True, Major Courage was kind of obnoxious and he did leave Scrooge's nephews and Launchpad behind on an alien ship, but Gyro, who caused the whole incident because of his Literal-Minded interpretation of Scrooge's orders for a real-looking set, got off without a scratch.
  • If I Wanted X, I Would Y: When Launchpad inadvertently dumps himself into outer space and sees the Earth far below him, he exclaims, "If I wanted to see the world, I would have joined the Navy!"
  • I'll Kill You!: After Major Courage refuses to go back for the triplets and actually has the nerve to gloat about escaping the Kronks, Scrooge tells Gyro that if he makes it home in one piece, he'll kill him.
  • Improvised Weapon: Launchpad appropriates a custard-maker from the Kronks' robot and uses it as a non-lethal weapon against them. (It probably helps that it looks like a gun.)
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Launchpad intuits how to operate an alien space ship, a vehicle he had even expressed doubts about his ability to control. He flies it like he's been doing it all his life.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Courage cuts off Launchpad's appeal about returning to Earth, saying they never go home before encountering aliens. Launchpad says aliens don't exist — and then the Kronk ship appears.
  • Ironic Echo: Scrooge obtains ownership of a studio that produces a show that Scrooge dislikes, and the star, Major Courage, constantly reminds Scrooge of his five-year contract, especially after he accidentally blasts off into space with the nephews and upon finding out he really is in space, finds a way out and leaves them behind, refusing to come back for them. At the end, Scrooge turns the studio into a space museum, where Courage is forced to do humiliating work as a candy vendor. He begs Scrooge to call it off, whereupon Scrooge reminds him of his five-year contract.
  • Ironic Nickname: Major Courage's actor goes by his character's moniker the entire episode. Given that he won't take any risks for anyone else, it becomes ironic once he realizes the danger.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Subverted with Courage of the Cosmos. He has a heroic beak, but he's really a Dirty Coward.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Major Courage is so confident that he can escape Scrooge's reprisal that he feels safe gloating about escaping the aliens right after refusing to go back to save Scrooge's nephews. He gets a shocking dose of retribution when Scrooge has him employed as a candy vendor at the new space museum. Worst of all, since the contract doesn't specify in what capacity Scrooge is required to employ him for those five years, Courage isn't allowed to bail out!
  • Miles Gloriosus: Courage, who doesn't know that the danger is real for most of the episode, walks around making hammy heroic declarations and challenging the aliens to fights. Then he attacks Bulvan, gets smacked down, and realizes that this isn't an episode he's filming — and promptly takes off in the only ship, leaving the others behind.
  • Mind Probe: The aliens strip directions to Earth from Launchpad's mind. This comes back to bite them.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: The actor who plays Courage of the Cosmos is an arrogant blowhard and a Dirty Coward.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Scrooge tells Gyro to make the set "as real as [he] can." He means to make it realistic-looking, but Gyro makes it a real spaceship. The boys, Launchpad, and Courage could have avoided their hair-raising encounter with the Kronks if Mr. Gearloose wasn't so Literal-Minded.
    • Upon discovering that everyone has actually gone up into outer space, Scrooge destroys the computer console in front of him in frustration. Unfortunately, it happens to include the only working radio, keeping him and Gyro from contacting Courage, Launchpad and the boys and warning them about what's happened.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Earlier, the aliens probed Launchpad's brain for info on Earth to plan for an invasion. When our heroes escape, the aliens planned to use what information they scanned to beat them back to Earth. Unfortunately, Launchpad has really wrong ideas about space (directions are reversed, the sun orbits the Earth, etc.), resulting in the alien ship pin balling all over space.
  • The Nicknamer: Courage tends to nickname everyone. Scrooge, being his boss, gets a variety of ingratiating nicknames, the boys get called "little buddies" and he briefly calls Launchpad "L.P."
  • Papa Wolf: Despite his terror when he realizes everything's real and the pain he endures, Launchpad never strays far from his goal of keeping his "little buddies" safe. He attacks Bulvan with their only weapon (a food-creating device) to prevent him from re-capturing the boys and places himself as the rear guard during the retreat. This places him in stark contrast to Courage, who abandons the boys as soon as he realizes he could actually die.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: The current events and Launchpad's standoffish behaviour lead the kids to dismiss him as just being jealous of Courage. Doofus seems particularly broken by the prospect of his Big Brother Mentor acting like a petty Jerkass. Naturally when Launchpad is vindicated (and Courage proves to be a Miles Gloriosus) Doofus is the first to acknowledge this error and proudly declare Launchpad to be a real hero.
  • Removing the Rival: Courage kicks Launchpad, toppling him down a staircase, so that he can have the boys' attention and adoration all to himself. He's notably displeased when Launchpad comes back to warn the others that they've actually been launched into space and any danger they encounter can kill them.
  • Replacement Pedestal: The episode features a "one pedestal breaks as another is rebuilt" version. The boys fawn over the hero of their favorite TV show, Courage of the Cosmos. Launchpad butts heads with him and the boys (who normally have some respect for Launchpad's heroic side) turn on him, claiming that he's just jealous. Unfortunately, the group gets into an actual space adventure no thanks to Gyro following Scrooge's instructions too closely. When Major Courage shows himself to be a coward and Launchpad saves the day, the boys chew Courage out and return to respecting the pilot.
  • Shout-Out: As they enter the Kronks' ship, Launchpad says, "I have a bad feeling about this."
  • Show Within a Show: Courage of the Cosmos is a sci-fi show in the DuckTales (1987) universe.
  • Sick Captive Scam: The boys, Launchpad, and Courage are imprisoned on an alien spaceship and brainstorming ideas for getting out of their cell. Launchpad recommends playing sick, an idea which Courage likes enough to steal.
  • Space Episode: The story sees part of the cast get accidentally launched into space.
  • Straw Loser: Major Courage served as this for Launchpad; Launchpad may be a bumbler, but he's still a fairly competent pilot (bar some crashing issues). Courage, on the other hand, is a TV star first, with no actual experience flying, and furthermore, he lacks Launchpad's courage and protectiveness of the boys.
  • Stylistic Suck: The ultra-cheap set and props for "Courage of the Cosmos." Including the strap-on beak worn by the actor playing the villain and a toaster as a communicator, which noticeably pops out toast before the scene ends.
  • That's What I Call "X"!: Near the end, when the aliens attempt to navigate to Earth with the data they stripped from his mind, Launchpad says, "Now that's what I call using my head!"
  • A True Hero: The triplets and their friend Doofus are major fans of a sci-fi show called Courage of the Cosmos. Circumstances lead to them meeting the main actor, and they're ecstatic, fawning over and hero-worshipping him despite Launchpad's objections that his derring-do isn't real and that legitimate heroes do their thing without cameras. Then Gyro's revamped sets for the show accidentally send the boys, Courage, and Launchpad on a trip through outer space. "Courage" reveals himself as a coward and Launchpad shows himself a hero in real life, not just in acting.
  • Tuckerization: Major Courage shares his surname with Alexander Courage, the composer for the original Star Trek series' soundtrack.
  • Unusual User Interface: The steering mechanism for the Kronk ship looks like a glowing ball. The pilot drives the ship by manuevering his hands around it.
  • Weld the Lock: Launchpad squirts custard from the food synthesizer on the lock to the transporter room door to make sure the Kronks can't open it. This works until they begin burning through the door.
  • Where No Parody Has Gone Before: The show Courage of the Cosmos is a reference/parody of Star Trek: The Original Series, down to the hammy acting, the low budget special effects, and having a Scottish engineer.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Kronks have no scruples in this regard. Alien overlord Bulvan threatens to mulch (literally, because the Kronks use "inferior beings" for fertilizer) the nephews and Doofus, and when he catches them trying to get away, he says he'll have them "stuffed." Naturally, however, he never gets the chance.
  • You're Insane!: Launchpad asks Courage, "Are you crazy?" when he insists on fist-fighting the alien leader. The encounter proves enlightening for Courage.
  • You're Just Jealous: A third-person variation; the boys tell Courage not to pay any attention to Launchpad's criticisms as it's just because he's jealous. He is jealous, but he's also right about Courage not being a real hero.