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Series / Blake's 7

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Left to right: Vila, Blake, Jenna, Gan, Avon, Cally. In the background, Liberator.

Vila: Where are all the good guys?
Blake: You could be looking at them.
Avon: What a very depressing thought.

Blake's 7 is an iconic British SF series created by Terry Nation, who had earlier created the Daleks and the After the End drama series Survivors. It ran on BBC1 for four thirteen-episode series between 1978 and 1981.

The series, which takes place during the "third century of the new calendar" note , is about the quest of a group of rebels to overthrow the evil and fascistic Federation that controls Earth and most of the known Galaxy. Though it is sometimes referred to as a Space Opera, it tended to the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, particularly after a certain point. The format had elements of Wagon Train to the Stars. It was also lower-budget and looked it.

It is distinctive in that most of its leading characters are of the Anti-Hero type rather than your usual clean-cut heroes. Avon, the lead of the latter two seasons, was the epitome of this. It is often seen as Nation's attempt to subvert Star Trek — the B7 Federation's logo is the Trek Federation's logo rotated through 90 degrees — and other subversions of what, at the time, were standard Space Opera tropes are common.

Roj Blake (or just "Blake"— in The 'Verse, people typically used only a single name) had led a rebellion against the Federation which had been put down. Brainwashed, Blake had renounced the rebellion he led and was leading the life of a normal citizen until he was brought out of his brainwashing by a new group of rebels. Again, that putative rebellion was quashed and Blake was framed for crimes he didn't commit (child molestation, though this wasn't mentioned again after the second episode) and sent to a prison planet.

En route to exile, Blake and a group of prisoners managed to escape from captivity and take control of a mysterious and very advanced alien spaceship which they called the Liberator and resolved to fight back against the Federation. The series then chronicled their attempts, which were usually unsuccessful, to overthrow the Federation.

Blake was perhaps the only "good" character amongst the Seven but, though he sometimes appeared to be The Captain, he never had the full authority and respect from the others to truly perform the role. The other main characters in the series were: Kerr Avon (Avon), an amoral computer expert who refused to trust anyone— a real Anti-Hero; Jenna Stannis (Jenna), a smuggler who was the pilot of the Liberator during the first two series; Vila Restal (Vila), a cowardly thief; Cally, a humanoid telepath with kamikaze tendencies exiled from the planet Auron; and Olag Gan (Gan), a Gentle Giant, but only because he had a limiter fitted to his brain after he killed his girlfriend's murderer in a rage. Liberator was controlled by a sentient computer known as Zen.

The Federation was represented by an array of troopers, usually outfitted in black uniforms and gas masks. For the first two series, the Seven were pursued by Travis, a psychotic killer (and The Dragon) dispatched to "seek, locate and destroy Blake" by Big Bad Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce), the impossibly glamorous Supreme Commander (later President) of the Federation.

At the end of the first series, the Seven beat Servalan to the supercomputer Orac (originally presented as a Weapon of Mass Destruction but downgraded when it was kept on), which was capable of finding information on almost anything but was also programmed with the personality of its creator, an irascible old man.

The second series saw Blake determined to strike at the heart of the Federation by destroying its central computer— the series had a Story Arc, but often the quest for information about Star One was little more than a MacGuffin. The end of this arc shooed out some of the crew and introduced Del Tarrant (Tarrant), a former Federation officer who had deserted their ranks, and weapons expert Dayna Mellanby (Dayna). Despite the departure of Gareth Thomas, who played Blake, the series retained its title, with Avon now becoming the leader of the Seven.

The rather grim Season C finale was supposed to be the end of the series (and, indeed, was the last episode written by Nation), but a year later, the BBC brought it back, though without the active involvement of Nation. Another post-season reshuffle introduced the computer Slave and the female gunslinger Soolin. If anything, this final season was even darker than before, with one of the most surprising endings to ever grace a TV show.

Blake's 7 was clearly a strong if unspoken influence on Farscape, Lexx, and Firefly, as well as having a minor influence on Babylon 5 — J. Michael Straczynski noted that, in writing all of Season 3, he was doing something that hadn't been attempted in SF TV since Terry Nation wrote all of Season A of Blake's 7. It had a much stronger influence on the sequel series Crusade, which became even more obvious when information began to leak about plot developments that would have occurred had the show not been canceled. It was also directly cited by Joseph Mallozzi as an inspiration for Dark Matter.

In 2007, a new Alternate Continuity radio version was produced with some interesting twists to the story, and since 2011, Big Finish has been making audio dramas featuring the original cast. (For more, see the Audio Play page.)

Big Finish is also publishing a series of novels, including a trilogy about Avon by Paul Darrow which is largely set twenty years after the events of "Blake".

One of those shows that's perpetually on the cusp of a big-budget revival. A couple of scripts were ordered for a possible TV revival at one point. ...Then it was gone again. Then there was a possibility SyFy would reboot it. They even did concept art, but it appeared to lapse quietly back into Development Hell.

There's quite a strong element of sexual tension within the show, though much of it is beneath the surface, mainly because it was originally shown in an early evening timeslot. Fans note much subtextual Ho Yay in many of the male relationships. Amongst British SF fandom, Blake/Avon (or Avon/Blake— the order can be very important to fans) slash fiction is very popular, as is Avon/Tarrant. Even Avon/Vila is not unknown.

Blake's Seven provides examples of:

  • '70s Hair: Tame, perhaps, but certainly present. Blake's hair is curly and 'fro-shaped.
  • '80s Hair:
    • Not every woman, but Jenna definitely (especially in Series 1), actually being the 80s notwithstanding.
    • Tarrant has the male equivalent. In fact, most of Servalan's high ranking male subordinates at Space Command seem to have this as well. Since Tarrant is a former Federation officer turned deserter and smuggler, this kind of makes sense.
  • Abandon Ship: Our heroes get hold of the Liberator in the first place because it's been abandoned during a space battle. In-Universe the trope is used for Party Scattering.
    • Season 3 starts with the crew of the Liberator taking to the life capsules after life support is damaged while fighting an alien invasion. By the time Avon makes it back to the ship (which is self-repairing) he finds the Liberator has been seized by Federation soldiers and he spends the next episode getting rid of them. Blake himself (along with Jenna) never make it back to the ship, making Avon the series lead by default.
    • In the final episode, their replacement vessel the Scorpio is attacked and crashlands on a planet. Tarrant pilots the ship down to give the others time to teleport off. This also leads to Party Scattering, and a Tragic Mistake ensues.
  • Accidental Aiming Skills: In "Orac", Avon saves Blake's life by shooting out Travis' gun hand from a considerable distance. When Blake compliments him on the shot, Avon bitterly replies that "I was aiming for his head". Rumour has it that this was an ad-lib by Paul Darrow, who's rather fond of Westerns and couldn't resist the Shout-Out.
  • Ace Pilot: Jenna and Tarrant. Everyone else learns basic piloting techniques, but anything complicated is left to them.
  • Action Figure Speech: In "Headhunter", a killer android gets its head knocked off, with no apparent effect other than a tendency to start Milking the Giant Cow during its speeches.
  • Action Girl: Most of the women in the series can handle themselves in a fight, but Dayna, by virtue of youth and sheer variety/depth of combat skill, stands out.
  • Advanced Ancient Humans: There were a couple of episodes that implied a human(oid?) galactic civilization existed tens of thousands of years before the present.
  • Aerith and Bob: As this is The Future and language has evolved; some names are the same, while others are spelt differently.
  • Affectionate Pickpocket:
  • Agony Beam: In "Aftermath", weapons inventor Hal Mellanby uses "vitashock" rifles against barbarians trying to break into the entry hatch of his underground base — the idea being aversion therapy so they'll associate the hatch with pain and stay away, avoiding the need to kill them. However the barbarians aren't stupid; they work out what's happening and sneak up on their firing position during the night.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • While Orac does not have homicidal tendencies, he is frequently reluctant to follow orders given to him, dismissing them as an irrelevant waste of time. Zen, on the other hand, deliberately withholds information from the crew on more than one occasion until the crew takes "full" control of the Liberator at the end of "Redemption". It's also the backstory of that episode — the System was a Master Computer created by one of three constantly warring planets. It ended the conflict by taking over the other planet's computers and enslaving their inhabitants.
    • Played straight to a cliched degree in "Headhunter". Mueller's android is an evil, homicidal machine that can control any other machine, and wished to use this ability to conquer the universe.
  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: The Space Rats in "Stardrive" are stereotypical outlaw bikers Recycled In Space, although they have huge Mohicans and Roy Wood-style facepaint.
  • All in the Eyes: In "Voice From The Past", rebel conspirators arrive at an auditorium only to find it empty of their supporters. Then Supreme Commander Servalan appears on the theater screen to inform them that the Federation has known about their plot the whole time. As she speaks, Servalan's image is reduced from a Close Up On Head to an Eyed Screen to a single eye.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Though in fairness most of them are or were human colonies, which would have been chosen for their ability to support life. Spacesuits are only used for vacuum however, with the occasional mention of breathing masks. Thermal suits are worn for the more colder planets.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen:
    • In "Time Squad", while answering a Distress Call Blake and Jenna get sealed inside a tiny spacecraft whose oxygen has already been used up. Despite being barely familiar with the Liberator at this point in the series, and their Ace Pilot stuck on the spacecraft with Blake, the others have to scoop the craft into their cargo bay so it can be broken into.
    • In "City at the Edge of the World", Vila and Kerril are unexpectedly teleported to an automated spacecraft, where a recorded voice informs them they will remain alive only as long as the air that was teleported with them lasts. When they don't die as expected, Vila realizes that air is filtering through the Forcefield Door from a habitable planet outside, as the spacecraft has reached its destination.
    • In "Headhunter", Orac puts Scorpio into Lock Down to prevent the Monster of the Week from escaping. It responds by shutting down life support, but fortunately, the crew gets into rescue suits in time. Avon then has to break quarantine to rescue them, as the suits have limited oxygen supply.
    • In "Assassin", our heroes seize the spaceship of a Professional Killer, who escapes and shuts off the life support remotely, forcing them to split up and search in the limited time they have left.
    • In "Warlord", Xenon Base is sabotaged; bombs destroy the teleport and all entrances, yet the ventilation is left intact to spread a lethal virus. So the people trapped inside have to shut down life support leaving them with air for around 20 hours, and it will take at least four days to dig themselves out.
    • In "Hostage", Travis locks our heroes in an airlock and starts to pump out the air. Vila wants to know how many minutes they have left before they die of oxygen deprivation. Avon's reply? "I'll let you know."
  • Alone with the Psycho: In "Countdown" the rebels are searching for a Federation officer, who unknown to them has killed a rebel and stolen his uniform. Because this man and other Federation troops are still prowling around, Blake is assigned a bodyguard. Of course the bodyguard turns out to be the disguised Federation officer, which the rebels only realise when they finally locate the officer's file with his photograph.
  • Amazon Brigade: The mutoids used as soldiers by Servalan and Travis, though we do see some male mutoids in early episodes.
  • Ambiguous Ending: In the final episode, the heroes have distributed the antidote to the drugs the Federation rely on to suppress their populations to the anti-Federation planets and go in search of the missing Blake to unite them only to be gunned down at the hour of their greatest triumph. However whilst Blake is categorically killed by Avon with evident bloody wounds the rest of the group show no such trauma raising the possibility that they are only stunned. Gareth Thomas insisted on Blake being definitively killed off but had the series continued to a fifth season it would have been revealed that the rest of the characters had actually survived, unless their actor decided to leave anyway.
  • Ambiguously Human:
    • Cally the Auron, whose nature, unfortunately, changes from season to season; she was initially portrayed and repeatedly described as a very humanoid alien, but later became an artificially enhanced clone from an isolationist human society. Might also be an example of Human Aliens, depending on what you believe.
    • Also, various planetary populations encountered by the crew who appear human but have ancient civilizations predating the Earth colonies. Some are explicitly stated to be Human Aliens, others are left ambiguous.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Avon is a particularly good example: he begins as a mix of The Rival and The Lancer, supporting Blake only when it's in his personal interest and because he wants the Liberator. Later, once he becomes the leader of the group, he becomes increasingly paranoid and sociopathic, at one point nearly murdering Vila in cold blood.
    • Blake himself was edging into this trope towards the end of the Star One story-arc; he was pressing ahead with a plan that he knew would cause massive collateral damage and potentially kill millions of innocent bystanders, despite being presented with a perfectly workable alternative plan — by Avon no less — that could have achieved the same goals almost bloodlessly. And the Federation were bouncing back from Star One getting blown up by the final season, so he might as well have not bothered.
  • Anyone Can Die: And how.
  • Apocalyptic Log: In "Power", a literal Battle of the Sexes is taking place between the primitive male Hommiks and the technologically advanced Seska. Tarrant finds a video log by a Seska detailing how they're losing the war. It ends when a large axe slams down on the table in front of her.
  • Apologises a Lot: Slave is programmed with a cringing sycophantic personality, so this trope happens constantly. Tarrant finds his servility less than convincing however.
    Tarrant: That's no problem so long as Slave can match vectors.
    Dayna: Well, he says he can.
    Tarrant: He says he's sorry most of the time. I don't believe that either.
  • Appeal to Force: While the Federation uses all the tools of a soul-crushing sci-fi dystopia like brainwashing, torture, censorship, and propaganda. the High Council is not above thinking that Murder Is the Best Solution.
    • When Albian legally demanded their independence, the Federation hid a Doomsday Device on the planet and threatened to detonate it if they rebelled.
    • When Saurian Major rebelled, half the population were deported and La Résistance wiped out with biological weapons.
    • Once Agravo had been mined of all useful minerals, the Federation evacuated the skilled personnel and left the others to die a slow death when their resources ran out. As it turns out an industrial accident kills them first.
    • Gauda Prime was designated an agricultural world, but when it was discovered to have mineral wealth on the land that the Federation settlers legally owned, the High Council declared it an Open Planet where all law & order was suspended. Anyone who refused to leave could then be legally murdered.
    • When Servalan herself becomes President she commits mass genocide just to blackmail the Auronar into cloning children for her. And they say Babies Make Everything Better...
  • Archer Archetype: Dayna. Female, graceful, and rather cocky in comparison to the world-weary Anti Heroes she teams up with, she's even shown using a bow and arrow in her introductory episode, because she enjoys the challenge of mastering the Good Old Ways.
  • Arm Cannon: Travis has a large yellow Power Crystal (a lazeron destroyer) set on his artificial hand. He lost the hand after being shot by Blake, so is eager to use it on him. Instead Travis tends to lose the hand whenever someone is Blasting It Out Of His Hand.
  • Artefact Title: Blake leaves the show and is no longer leader of the Seven after Season 2, but the title Blake's 7 remains for Seasons 3 and 4.
  • Ass Kicks You: This happens to Dayna to conclude a rather unconvincing fight scene in "Stardrive".
  • Asteroid Thicket: Season A had two "meteor storms", with lots of rocks hitting the ship as if it were a heavy hailstorm or an avalanche.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: In "Redemption", our heroes manage to escape into the launch bay holding the Liberator. A squad of Faceless Goons get the Slow Doors open and charge after them, only to come running back out when they're scorched by the blast of the Liberator taking off.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: A giant claw reaches through the door to attack someone in "Weapon".
  • Attack Reflector: In "City at the Edge of the World", Bayban the Butcher has kidnapped Vila so he can get through the door to a vault. Turns out the door is actually a forcefield disguised as a door. Any attempt to cut or blast through reinforces the forcefield, reflecting the energy back at the attacker. Vila gets through with a low energy probe, set just a fraction below the energy threshold of the forcefield. Bayban on the other hand decides to let loose with a spaceship laser cannon and blows himself up along with the entire city.
  • Auction of Evil: Avon is paraded at a slave auction in "Assassin".
  • Author Appeal: Chris Boucher would often insert references to classic westerns into the scripts. This appealed to Paul Darrow greatly, as he was a big fan of the genre.
  • Author Tract: All three of Ben Steed's episodes ("The Harvest of Kairos", "Moloch", and "Power") are tracts about how men are stronger than women, and (in an inversion of Mother Nature, Father Science) women need to abandon their dependence on machines and be Closer to Earth with the manly men to find happiness.
  • Auto-Doc: In "Volcano", Avon gets a futuristic splint put on his arm that apparently heals the broken bone as well. However in "Breakdown" when Blake suggests using their Magical Computer Orac and the Liberator's advanced medical facilities to treat Gan's malfunctioning brain-implant, Avon derides the idea and insists they find a proper neurosurgeon. In "Headhunter", Scorpio is shown to have a medicapsule which is used to put a wounded man in suspended animation.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Those metal gun-holsters in Season D look very fancy, but more than once the characters have trouble putting their guns away. Blooper reels also show that thanks to the trigger being built into the handle, they had a tendency to accidentally discharge when an actor picked one up. On the other hand, they were designed to be much tougher than the Liberator guns, which had a tendency to break whenever Paul Darrow picked one up.
    • The Liberator hadn't been designed by the special effects team as was the usual procedure, so it wasn't designed to conceal the mounting rods and suspension wires, was too front-heavy, and had a tendency to jab the set crew with its prongs.
  • Back for the Dead: Blake returned in the last episode and was killed off by Avon, because Blake was too stupid to explain his real motives, leading Avon to think Blake was a traitor. Definitely a [[invokedFanon Discontinuity moment for diehard fans. Blake's death was apparently a condition for Gareth Thomas to appear in the episode, his death included blood to make sure that he was really dead. Seeing as it ended up being the final episode, it didn't really matter anyway, especially as just about everyone else ended up dead by the end of the episode anyway, though with some ambiguity so that they could return if the series was extended.]]
  • Back for the Finale: Blake came back for the final episode, and was bloodily shot dead. This was because Gareth Thomas was fed up with the part and wanted it to be unambiguously the last time he would have to play the role in case the show got Un-Cancelled.
  • Bad Vibrations: In "Sarcophagus" a build-up of telekinetic energy is shown when a tray of drinks starts first to vibrate, then float in the air!
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: In "The Harvest of Kairos", Servalan gets a Forceful Kiss from Jarvik. Servalan decides she appreciates his manly audacity and makes him The Dragon.
    Servalan: But first, there is the question of that degrading and primitive act to which I was subjected in the control room. [Beat] I should like you to do it again.
  • Bandage Mummy: The Rebel Leader Shivan in "Voice From The Past", who's been so horribly tortured by the Federation that he's a bandaged cripple who can barely speak. Eventually he rips off his bandages to reveal himself as Travis in disguise. Why none of the rebels looked under his bandages to check his identity or treat his extensive injuries is not revealed.
  • Batman Gambit: Servalan in the appropriately titled "Gambit". Also in "Weapon" it's shown that a profession called a psychostrategist exists whose entire job is to plan these.
  • BBC Quarry: The Trope Maker along with Doctor Who — according to Gareth Thomas there was one occasion when they heard noises at the other side of the quarry, and discovered Doctor Who was filming there at the same time (though evidence of filming dates shows this may be apocryphal). Sometimes there are In-Universe justifications such as the atmosphere is too thin to support much vegetation, the planet has been mined out by the Federation, or devastated by nuclear or biological warfare. However there were plenty of planets portrayed by English forests or windswept grassy hills. Scowles (ancient iron ore quarries) also provided a more visibly interesting version of the trope.
  • Bear Trap: In "Hostage", Blake gets caught in one set by Travis. Fortunately, he's wearing a spacesuit boot that protects his foot from any serious damage, but it pins Blake in place out of reach of his teleport bracelet, leading to his capture.
  • Beehive Hairdo: The Reveal in "Assassin" that Piri is actually Cancer is given when she somehow has time for an Evil Costume Switch into black clothes and a towering bun of hair. The latter makes her invokednot as scary as she should be.
  • Beeping Computers: Both Zen and Orac: with Zen making a variety of humming noises, and Orac making a particularly irritating set of high-pitched beeps.
  • Behind Every Great Man: In "Power", Nina, a former leader of the Seska, is implied to be running the Hommiks through her strong but dimwitted husband. After he gets killed, she announces they're going to leave and start a new society, presumably involving a bit more cooperation between the sexes. Or back-breaking toil and Stay in the Kitchen? It's not quite clear.
  • Better the Devil You Know: Blake refuses to kill Travis. "...As long as he's alive, he'll be the one chasing me. And I know I can beat him."
  • Big Bad: Servalan, Supreme Commander of the Federation's military forces, and during Season C the President of the Terran Federation. She is deposed in the final season and takes on another identity, but still causes trouble as the main antagonist and evil face of the Federation.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Everything in the Federation is taped, logged, and recorded in triplicate. Woe betide you if one of those recordings shows you conspiring or plotting or thieving or, I don't know, passing a political criminal the salt. You will vanish and no-one will remember you ever existed.
  • Big Dumb Object: Not one, not two, but three Artificial Planets: Crandor, home of the Thaarn; Ultraworld; and Terminal (first called an "artificial planet," later called an "artificially modified planet").
  • Big Electric Switch: "Headhunter" is Frankenstein's monster IN SPACE!, but seeing as this trope is used to turn on an antique generator plant (to electrocute the Monster of the Week) instead of a Mad Scientist Laboratory it's entirely justified.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Especially in the final season, where there is nobody left in the regular cast who isn't a Nominal Hero.
  • Black Site: Finding the location of Star One (a base containing the Master Computer which controls the Federation) is the Story Arc for Season Two. It's so secret that anyone who could possibly know its location has either been killed, brainwashed into forgetting it, or working in effective exile there. This backfires badly because when things start going wrong with Star One, even the people running the Federation don't know where it is!
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands:
    • Travis has a laser weapon built into his artificial hand. The hand is destroyed on two separate occasions. When Paul Darrow (Avon) does this, the "Good shot!"/"Not really I was aiming for his head" line is used (originally to be cut, but left in as Paul Darrow is a Western fan).
    • In "Headhunter", a Killer Robot does this by remotely accessing and overloading the circuits on their handguns.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In the final episode, this trope was used so the producers could bring the characters back to life if the series was renewed for another season (which had already happened once), by saying that Stun Guns had been used. Except for Gareth Thomas, who insisted he be Killed Off for Real, and so suffered an appropriately bloody death-by-exploding-squibs+bloodbag.
  • Boarding Party: The original team is formed when, having lost several of his own men exploring a deserted alien ship, the commander of the prison ship sends a boarding party comprised of prisoners. Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!
  • Bodyguard Babes:
    • Servalan often uses mutoid guards, conditioned cyborg soldiers who for some reason are all female (not that she has any objection to handsome male staff members). Any male bodyguards however are the standard Gasmask Mooks.
    • In one episode when Vila Restal thinks he's going to be rich, he fantasizes about having a bodyguard of a "thousand handpicked virgins in red fur uniforms. Vila's Royal Mounties."
  • Bolivian Army Ending:
    • The final episode ended with all the heroes apparently getting shot. Had there been a fifth season it would have been revealed that basically, any actor who wanted to do Season E would "survive", but at that point the show got canceled. Fanon has it that Vila, at least, survived, as when he is 'shot', he falls the wrong way, early - faking being hit , or so the story goes. And likewise, almost everything Paul Darrow was involved in afterwards, from the trilogy of novels he wrote to his involvement in Kaldor City as the suspiciously familiar "Kaston Iago", says Avon survived too.
    • The second season ends with our heroes facing down an alien armada while awaiting the cavalry. Avon yells "Fire" just as the credits roll.
  • Bomb Disposal: In "Countdown", Avon has to defuse a Doomsday Device that could kill everyone on the planet. He could teleport out at any time and save himself, but not everyone else.
  • Bond One-Liner: Being an amoral Snark Knight, Avon certainly isn't going to be left out. After an assassin is bitten by their own spider-creature and dies screaming, Servalan calls up and demands to know what is happening. Avon answers, "I'm afraid your friend is feeling the pinch."
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Discussed in "Space Fall" when Gan threatens to take off the guard's hand if he doesn't use it to open the door with a palm scan. The guard wisely agrees.
  • Bounty Hunter: Given that the crew had a Price on Their Head, plus Chris Boucher's fondness for Western themes, these made an obligatory appearance.
    • In "Bounty", the Liberator is seized by the Amagons, Space Pirates who engage in a variety of criminal activities including bounty hunting.
    • In "Powerplay", Zee and Barr are the nicest and prettiest bounty hunters you could meet. Pity their job is capturing people so they can be dissected for their Human Resources.
    • In "Blake", the planet Gauda Prime is a Crapsack World where all laws have been suspended by the Federation High Council, in order to kill or drive off the colonists who legally owned the land. This naturally attracted a large number of criminals and psychopaths who now have to be disposed of before law and order can be reintroduced, so they're being used as bounty hunters to catch or kill their fellow lawbreakers. Our rebel anti-heroes are not pleased to hear that Blake, ostensibly their leader but who's been missing for the past couple of seasons, is now working as one of these bounty hunters. It turns out he's secretly recruiting another rebel force from among the criminals he's capturing.
  • Boyish Short Hair:
    • Servalan has cropped black hair, but rather than being The Lad-ette combines it with her glamorous Impractically Fancy Outfits. The cropped hair was originally part of a more military appearance including helmet and uniform, but Jacqueline Pearce decided to emphasize her femininity instead, creating an iconic sci-fi villainess.
    • Dayna also has this.
  • Brainwashed: The series opens with Blake being informed that he was once a Rebel Leader who was captured and brainwashed until he was willing to publicly denounce his own rebellion. His memories were then altered so he remembered nothing about his past. However the Federation is worried that Blake will regain his memories, so they frame him and have him deported to a penal colony, setting off the events of the series.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good:
    • The pacifist Pyroans are subject to mild electric shock therapy as infants and constant psychological conditioning as adults to remove any inclination to violence.
    • The Auronar preferred to remain neutral, so when a faction wanted to oppose the Federation the majority coerced them back into line with their telepathic abilities.
    • Gan is implanted with a neural inhibitor to prevent him from killing, though it's left ambiguous whether this is a cruel overreaction to a one-off murder (Gan claims he killed a guard in revenge after the guard killed his girlfriend) or a Morality Chip to restrain a homicidal psychopath.
    • Space Commander Travis is forced to undergo "retraining therapy" after the events of Season A, but this only makes him more unstable.
  • Brandishment Bluff:
    • In "Aftermath", Servalan reveals at the end of a Mexican Standoff that her gun was out of ammunition. Avon is impressed.
    • In "Volcano", Villa of all people is able to get Servalan to back off by threatening to destroy her with the Liberator, without mentioning the power cells are low so the ship doesn't have enough energy for its weapons.
    • In "The Harvest of Kairos", Servalan is able to capture the Liberator, but Avon finds a lifeform that defends itself by projecting a mirror image of any attacker, but in a more powerful form. Servalan's scans show that Avon has somehow got hold of a powerful warship, and she abandons the Liberator in a panic.
    • In "Shadow", a crime boss is robbed and told to lie face down on the floor. A sensor device is left behind that triggers a recorded threat when he starts to move, making him think he's still being held at gunpoint.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: In "The Harvest of Kairos", Servalan seizes the Liberator and has its crew abandoned on a Death World. Their only hope of escape is an unarmed and obsolete Apollo-era landing craft.
    Tarrant: But there's nothing I can do with this...
  • Bridge Bunnies: Subverted with Servalan who has an Amazon Brigade of mutoids (creepy female cyborgs) to provide this function, as invokedshe's quite glamorous in her own right, thank you. Though Travis notes sardonically that she has a tendency to surround herself with handsome male staff.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: "Gold" has a different twist on the fake money version. The money is indeed in the case, but it's in a currency that's just been rendered invalid because the planet that issues it has been taken over by the Terran Federation.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In "The Harvest of Kairos", Servalan captures both the Liberator and Orac, abandoning the crew on a Death World where only some hasty improvisation and guile can save them.
  • Butt-Monkey: If Vila isn't, nobody is.
  • Camp: A fair amount, intentional and not.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker:
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Zen or Orac are sometimes used to verify a statement, as computers are not capable of lying. Unless they've been taken over by the Monster of the Week, of course.
  • Canon Welding - Chris Boucher's spin-off works have suggested that the show takes place in the same time period and spatial area as his popular Doctor Who story "The Robots Of Death". It could have happened earlier and with a much higher profile, as Tom Baker and some of the actors from Blake's wanted to do a crossover story, and Terry Nation originally wanted the alien invasion at the end of S2 to be the Daleks from Doctor Who. invokedWhich would have been awesome.
  • The Caper: First seen in stealing the decoder in "Seek-Locate-Destroy". Later examples include "The Harvest of Kairos", "Games" and "Gold", in which the Seven engage in outright theft for monetary gain under the guise of revolutionary acts.
  • The Captain: Downplayed as the crew are criminals, rebels and mercenaries who by their very nature tend to reject authority. They generally accept Blake (and later Avon) as their leader, but have been known to outvote them on occasion (this is why Blake and sometimes Avon are Manipulative Bastards). Avon was a Sour Supporter to Blake, and when he becomes The Captain finds himself in a running dispute with cocky newcomer Tarrant over who should be in charge of the ship. The trope was originally to be played straight with Tarrant, who was to be an older and more experienced character called "The Captain".
  • Captain's Log: In "Orac", Blake uses a Flight Log entry to fill in Avon and the audience on the previous episode's events. We never see any reference to this trope again, which is just as well because a Rebel Leader keeping a log of his activities would be a major Idiot Ball if the Liberator were captured, which it is on several occasions.
  • Captured on Purpose: In "Rumours of Death", Avon allowed himself to get captured in order to capture a Federation interrogator using the Liberator's teleport system. He even holds out for five days of torture, knowing that this particular Torture Technician will be called in to deal with particularly stubborn subjects.
  • Cargo Cult
  • Cartwright Curse: Avon from this one; Paul Darrow said that he became known as the "kiss of death". In fact one actress was truly furious to learn that he was going to kiss her, because she had been hoping to stay on for another episode.
  • Cassette Futurism: You have data crystals and microtapes, solid state computers with Billions of Buttons and esoteric talking AI's, clunky Used Future freighters and gleaming Cool Starships.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: This series has several forms of Faster-Than-Light Travel; Time-Distort and Hyperdrives (which may or may not be the same thing) are used by the Federation. The Liberator uses a different, more exotic method that involves "crossing the antimatter threshold." In Season D, Scorpio is fitted with an experimental Photonic Drive that is faster than anything else. All these systems differ in maximum speed, with the Liberator and Scorpio outclassing just about everything else, but all of them are apparently very fast; the crew darts around the galaxy and is able to return to Earth to strike at the Federation's heart without too much-extended space travel.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: Earth has experienced a nuclear war, though the environment appears to have recovered. People live in domed cities, but that's more for comfort and convenience (and it's implied, for social control) because they're not used to the outside world. The calendar has been changed, there's some Future Imperfect references and no discussion on the causes or outcomes of the conflict. Once the protagonists leave Earth, they encounter several planets that have reverted to barbarism due to war or social collapse.
  • Cat Fight: In "Gambit", Cally and Jenna stage a catfight in a crowded bar to cause a distraction. The result is hilarious.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Avon did this constantly while he was with Blake on the Liberator. But funnily enough, despite professing complete contempt for Blake's ideals and cause, and threatening to leave on many occasions, he never did; in fact, he saved Blake's life on several occasions.
  • Changing of the Guard: Blake is only a regular on the first half of the show's run, with Avon being elevated to the role of main character for the second half.
  • Chickification
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Blake has a bad case; the Liberator crew's general exhaustion and frustration from mid-Season B onward is a testament to it.
  • Classified Information: In "Horizon", the Liberator encounters a planet on the edge of the galaxy protected by a force shield. They try to find out more information from their Master Computer, Zen. Blake later gets a Federation flotilla to crash into the force shield, betting their lives that the flotilla is no better informed than they are.
    Blake: What are the surface conditions on Horizon?
    Zen: Negative information.
    Blake: Population?
    Zen: Negative information.
    Blake: Well, is there any information on Horizon?
    Zen: Negative.
    Blake: Well, is the information on Horizon classified?
    Zen: Negative information.
    Vila: Well, that was a whole lot of nothing.
  • Claustrophobia: Vila, though this was never mentioned again. As a thief he must have seen plenty of small hidey-holes, so let's just assume that Vila is scared of everything (or more likely he's just making this up to avoid risking his life, as Jenna suggests).
    Vila: I'd be glad to [crawl through the service shaft], it's just I've got this problem with enclosed spaces. There's a medical name for it.
    Jenna: Cowardice?
  • Cliffhanger: Used for each Season Finale.
  • Clones Are People, Too:
    • "Children of Auron", which features a society that practices large-scale cloning, is probably the most casual and realistic treatment of it in any Space Opera. Cally and her sister Zelda are depicted just like real-world natural twins, as independent individuals with their own personalities and motivations who just happen to look identical. The episode does, however, depict one hard-SF big disadvantage of large-scale cloning — lack of genetic variation leading to lack of disease resistance and vulnerability to epidemics.
    • In "Weapon", Space Commander Travis encounters a clone Blake and is unable to resist killing him. The Clonemasters regard this as a serious breach of ethics and Servalan has to promise them that Travis will be punished. He isn't of course, as Servalan and Travis don't care much about killing anyone (in fact Travis accuses Servalan of using him to test the effectiveness of the clone). Another clone Blake is then used for their Evil Plan but helps foil it instead, having developed his own sense of ethics.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Institutionalised by the. Most torture occurs offscreen, but it's implied to be common procedure, especially for suspected politicals.
    Shrinker: I'm going to start by burning out your eyes...
  • Cold Equation:
    • "Orbit" was inspired by the Trope Namer. Avon and Vila are on a shuttle desperately trying to achieve escape velocity. They throw out everything they can but are short seventy kilos. It turns out that the shuttle is being weighed down by a piece of super-dense matter. Once Avon finds it all he has to do is push it out the airlock - if he can, because it's so damn heavy. Trouble is, he can't get Vila to help him because he's scared Vila into hiding.
      Avon: Not enough, not nearly enough! DAMMIT! What weighs 70 kilos?!
      Avon: (pulling out a handgun) Vila...
    • Also happens in "Stardrive". With Federation cruisers closing in on them, the Stardrive's inventor says she needs 50 minutes to connect it up. Eventually it comes down to a few seconds they don't have, so Avon ends up sacrificing her to save their ship by setting the controls to launch when she makes the final connection.
    • However Avon shoots down the idea in "Warlord" (thought the person suggesting the idea has already betrayed them, so Avon is hardly inclined to sacrifice his friends to save him).
      Zukan: If two of them volunteer to die, the oxygen they have left will last the rest of them.
      Avon: If just one of them dies, for any reason at all, so do you, Zukan!
    • In "The Harvest Of Kairos", a Federation transporter with a valuable cargo is too heavy to reach orbit from a Death World, so Servalan orders the captain to leave some of his labourers behind. There's a moment of Black Comedy when a guard is taunting the labuorers as he locks them out, only to find the transporter taking off without him as well.
  • Combat by Champion: In "Death Watch", two planetary systems fight wars this way, with the loser surrendering a couple of planets and a large part of their spacefleet. Two champions fight with handguns with their duel televised for entertainment, but one side cheats by using an android with a faster Quick Draw. Turns out it's a conspiracy to start a real war by exposing the deception. Once the two sides fight each other to exhaustion, the Federation will step in to 'restore order'.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: The line is delivered verbatim in "Ultraworld" when Vila is alone on the Liberator and aliens start sending Mind Control waves onto the ship. However the most chilling example is in "Orbit". Avon and Vila are on a shuttle that can't reach escape velocity because it's too heavy. They strip the shuttle of everything they can throw out the airlock, but are short 70 kilos. Which happens to be just under Vila's weight. As Vila crouches terrified behind a hatch, Avon stalks through the shuttle with a handgun, calling softly, "Vila? Vila, I need your help..."
  • Comm Links: The bracelets that allowed the protagonists to teleport to and from the Liberator also served as communicators. Some commlinks used by the Federation were pressed against the throat like an electrolarynx (they may have been devices that worked through jawbone conduction).
  • Compromising Call: As their teleport bracelets also serve as Comm Links, our heroes can't afford to turn them off, so this trope happens a couple of times when hiding from patrolling Federation troops.
  • Computerized Judicial System: Used to weigh the evidence in Travis' trial in "Trial" and Blake's show trial in "The Way Back", though human arbiters are used to determine the sentence. On both occasions, the trial is stacked against the accused by fabricating the evidence (Blake) or influencing the arbiters (Travis).
  • The Con in "Gambit", "Games" and "Gold"
  • Conspicuous Consumption: An episode taking place in President Servalan's palace was filmed in a stately home of England and this trope was used as a handwave — rather than the usual Domed City, Servalan has had a reconstruction of a "pre-Atomic" Big Fancy House built on the ruins of the old. A member of her administration comments bitterly, "We could have built two cities for what it cost to build that absurdity."
  • Convection, Schmonvection:
    • Averted in "City at the Edge of the World". Avon points out that firing a laser cannon at point-blank range would kill the firer with the reflected heat and energy. The Villain of the Week is crazy enough to do it anyway.
    • The Liberator can't fire its own neutron blasters without a flare shield being put up first to prevent this.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: Jenna is replaced by Dayna, Blake is replaced by Tarrant, and Cally is replaced by Soolin.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: In "Ultraworld", an unconscious Cally is strapped onto a conveyor belt to be assimilated into the giant brain running Ultraworld. She is saved at the last minute, the other characters having to contend with zombie-like baddies, who switch the machine back on each time they switch it off—cue lots of fake fighting.....
  • Cool, but Inefficient: "Weapon" had a weapon called the IMIPAK (Incipient Molecular Instability Projector And Key), a ray gun which induced incipient instability in the molecular structure of the target, after which you have to whip out and activate the Key to convert it to actual instability and thus destroy the target — except that if the target is a living being and noticed you firing the gun at him, you never get the chance because long before then, he's zapped you with his own less acronymic but far more practical weapon. It makes an excellent Explosive Leash, but as a sniper weapon it leaves much to be desired.
  • Cool, Clear Water:
    • In the pilot episode Roj Blake goes outside the Domed City for the first time and is encouraged to drink from a stream by a member of La Résistance. Blake doesn't like the taste much, even when it's pointed out that the water in the city has been recycled a thousand times and dosed with suppressants to prevent rebellion.
    • In "Horizon", Jenna's captor offers her a drink of water. She hesitates to drink it, fearing poison or drugs, so he assures her it's natural water from a stream. Jenna comments that it's likely full of lethal bacteria, but drinks anyway.
  • Cool Guns: None of which are named. The Liberator guns (a sonic lance according to sfx designer Ian Scoones), the clip-fed pistols from Season D, and the carbines used by the Federation. A rifle that could be disassembled into a shorter version was designed, but only shown in the last two episodes (the carbine version is used by Avon to kill Blake).
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: "Mission to Destiny" was an "old-fashioned" whodunnit on a spaceship. One member of the crew was found dead with the cryptic message 54124 written in blood beside him. Avon reasons that "When you are dying, it is difficult to be neat", and announces that the guilty party is a suspect whose name is SARA.
  • Counting to Three:
    • "Gambit" opens with a disgruntled patient who's going to shoot a Back-Alley Doctor on the count of three. The doctor's bodyguard shoots the gun from his hand on two.
      Doctor: Thanks. Next time don't leave it so late.
    • In "Hostage", a criminal takes Cally hostage and orders Jenna at gunpoint to teleport them both down to the planet on the count of three. On two Cally kicks him in the groin and Jenna teleports him into space instead.
    • In "Powerplay", Vila realises he's Being Watched, so starts to order a non-existent squad of troops into position, commanding them to attack on the count of ten. When nothing happens, he starts his count again.
  • Cradling Your Kill: Avon does this after he shoots Anna Grant.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: "Headhunter" is about a killer android who keeps coming after our heroes even after a Robotic Reveal involving his head getting knocked off. Turns out the head was that of its creator, and the android's real head was a Restraining Bolt so it wouldn't Kill All Humans.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The series opens with a panning security camera and Canned Orders over Loudspeaker, while drugged and docile citizens walk zombielike through white-painted corridors to the cheerful sound of muzak. Roj Blake lives a sheltered existence in a Domed City as an Alpha Grade, before he's forcibly dragged back into his past.
  • Crapsack World: The show is generally extremely cynical, and gets even more so as it progresses. The "good" characters are generally either Nominal Heroes or Well Intentioned Extremists, the victories against the Federation are minor and temporary, and increasingly rare in later seasons. The Federation is nearly destroyed at the beginning of Season C by the Andromedan invasion, but gradually gets back up to full power despite the resistance's efforts. And of course, there's the notorious ending.
  • Crossover: Terry Nation wanted the Daleks to show up in the Season Finale to Season B (he owned the rights to them after all) but this idea was invokedopposed by the producers. However a guest character, Carnell from "Weapon", turned up in a Doctor Who Past Doctor Adventures novel, Corpse Marker by Blake's 7 Script Editor Chris Boucher.
  • Crusading Lawyer: In the first episode, Blake has this kind of lawyer as representation, who got executed for his troubles.
  • Crying Wolf: In "Orbit", the Villain of the Week tries to kill Avon and Vila by overloading their shuttle so it won't reach escape velocity. They strip the shuttle of everything they can throw out the airlock but are still short 70 kilos. The computer then helpfully informs Avon that Vila weighs 73 kilos. Vila promptly hides while Avon stalks him with a gun in his hand saying, "Come out. Vila, I know how they did it, but I need your help." Then Avon really does discover how they weighed down the shuttle — by hiding a speck of super-dense matter on board — and needs help pushing it out the airlock. Vila of course refuses to come out of hiding, and Avon barely manages it in time.
  • Cult Colony: Cygnus Alpha, under BRIAN BLESSED, shows that you don't need advanced technology for oppression and brainwashing.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Just because they're rebels doesn't stop the crew of the Liberator checking things out from sheer boredom or curiosity, usually against the advice of Avon. Then Avon becomes captain and starts acting much the same way (see "The Harvest of Kairos"). In "Sarcophagus" they investigate a mysterious alien craft whose inhabitant nearly takes over the ship, only to have the exact same thing happen in the next episode!
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: In "Gambit", Servalan negotiates with Krantor, the criminal overlord of Freedom City. Once free of each other's presence, both parties make their true feelings known.
    • Servalan re Krantor: "When the Federation finally cleans out this cesspit, I shall have that vulpine degenerate eviscerated with a small and very blunt knife."
    • Krantor re Servalan: "One of these days, Toise, I am going to have Supreme Commander high-and-mighty Servalan ravaged until she does not know what month she's in!"
  • Cut Phone Lines:
    • As the protagonists' Comm Links are also their teleport bracelets they get lost, confiscated, or smashed whenever a Teleportation Rescue would resolve the plot too quickly.
    • In "Assassin", our heroes are trapped on a spaceship being remotely controlled by Servalan, who shuts down the communicator to prevent them from calling their own spaceship for help. Fortunately, Servalan can't resist reestablishing comms for some Evil Gloating, so Avon puts out an emergency call. Unfortunately, by that time their spaceship is so far away it's not certain if it received the transmission.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Mutoids have their memories (and thus personalities) wiped, having no reason to exist outside their service to the Federation. They also ingest blood directly. Federation officers, therefore, regard them as barely human and thus entirely expendable.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season B carries a noticeably darker undertone than the first season did, exemplified when Blake attempts his first major assault on the Federation in "Pressure Point", which ends in failure, and Gan paying the price with his life. Season C was nearer the first season's adventurous tone, but was followed by Season D, by far the show's darkest season despite some early goofiness.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
  • Deadly Game:
    • "Games" has the MacGuffin protected by lethal Booby Traps which include a flight simulator and a Quick Draw game that kills the players if they don't win. Fortunately Tarrant and Soolin just happen to be on the Boarding Party.
    • "Gambit" includes a game of speed chess where the challenger is strapped to an electric chair. He either wins an obscene amount of money, or he loses and the resident chessmaster pushes a button and fries him. After Vila and Avon scam the casino with the help of Orac, Vila is tricked into playing the game.
    • "Death-Watch" features a one-on-one duel to the death conducted between representatives of two planets who use the duels as a substitute for all-out interplanetary war. The events are broadcast widely, and of course nobody could possibly want to interfere with them for their own political gain...
  • Deadpan Snarker: Avon, all-consumingly. The rest of the cast qualifies as well, just not to the same extent.
  • Death in the Clouds: Recycled In Space in "Mission to Destiny". The crew of the Liberator comes across a space freighter with its pilot murdered, the controls sabotaged, and the crew all unconscious. The Liberator has to take the freighter's valuable cargo to its destination, while Avon and Cally stay to help with repairs and (of course) solve the mystery.
  • Death of a Child: Tragically in "Children of Auron" when Servalan destroys a facility full of cloned fetuses, particularly significant since she emotionally broke down immediately after (in a tearful pained way, not an angry villainous way). She'd had her genetic material implanted into some fetuses but had been tricked into believing it had been removed, but as soon as she'd fired she said knew they were hers and she "felt them die".
  • Debut Queue: Vila and Jenna get introduced to Blake at the very end of the first episode, Avon and Gan are introduced in the second, Zen in the third, and Cally finally turn up to complete the original team in the fourth. When the first major round of cast changes happened at the beginning of Season C, Dayna and Tarrant were respectively introduced in the first and second episodes.
  • Decoy Protagonist: New viewers watching the first episode might assume the thoroughly likable Varon (Blake's lawyer) and Maja (Varon's wife) are going to be major characters, as they have a lot of screen time, and spend much of "The Way Back" attempting to help Blake. New viewers would be wrong in this assumption.
    • In the following two episodes it's also left up in the air who the rest of the Seven will be, with characters introduced only to be killed off. The full complement is only established in "Time Squad", and one of them is a computer.
  • Deflector Shields: The Liberator is protected by a "force wall" against plasma bolts, meteor storms, or even tiny particles of dust if they're going fast enough. However, it's very energy consumptive; in "Duel" the Liberator's power banks are so low they can only raise the force wall just before the plasma bolt strikes. There's also a flare shield that must be raised before firing the neutron blasters, apparently to stop the crew being injured by reflected glare and radiation from their own weapons. The force wall was one of several superior technologies that made the Liberator quite a battlewagon — in "The Harvest of Kairos" Servalan is shocked that the Liberator can fire through its own force wall, and has the ability to overlap its force walls for greater protection. There were several mentions of defence fields and screens used to protect spaceships or surface installations, so the Federation apparently has similar albeit less advanced technology.
  • Depending on the Writer: Happened to Servalan, Avon and Vila, Tarrant and Cally in later seasons. After Terry Nation left the show this got so bad for the character of Avon that Paul Darrow gave up and started playing him as slowly losing his mind to compensate for it.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Egrorian in "Orbit" — although initially he's very closely attached to his one-time student Pinder, he has no problems blowing him off in favour of a relationship with Servalan. Also Krantor in "Gambit", who similarly is strongly implied to be same-sex lovers with his sidekick Toise but flirts heavily with Servalan as well.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In Season D, Servalan turns out to be Not Quite Dead and the Federation starts to reconquer its lost territories thanks to Pylene-50.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: In "Powerplay"
  • Domed City: Most of the pilot episode is set in a domed city in an After the End Earth. The outside world is shown to be quite habitable with birdlife and drinkable water, so the implication is that the dome is now used for convenience and as a further means of controlling the populace.
  • Don't Create a Martyr:
    • The Terran Adminstration decides it's too risky to kill Blake as it will lead to conspiracy theory, so decide to discredit and exile him by having Blake framed on child molestation charges using children brainwashed with Fake Memories.
    • "Project Avalon" and "Aftermath" feature rebel leaders who were spared—either for the information they had or to discredit the rebellion—while their followers were ruthlessly massacred.
  • Doomsday Device:
    • In "Countdown", the Federation have hidden a solium bomb that will kill everyone on the planet with radiation poisoning if they rebel. The rebels attempt to seize the control room before it's activated but fail, and the plot involves a Race Against the Clock to locate and disarm the bomb.
    • Another such weapon is used to protect a society of pacifists in "Volcano". They threaten to detonate the device if any aggressor attempts to land on their planet. Unfortunately, Servalan decides to call their bluff. It's not a bluff.
    • In "Orbit", a Mad Scientist offers to sell a device that can destroy any planet at any range, enabling Avon to crush the Federation with ease. Of course, it's never that easy...
  • Door Jam: In "Gold", Avon stays back to Hold the Line against guards who've chased them into an airlock transfer tunnel between two spaceships. Unfortunately one ship is about to do a Hyperspeed Escape and so the tunnel seals automatically, stranding Avon on the wrong side — he's saved by a Teleportation Rescue while a poor Red Shirt is sucked out into space. A blooper has the door closing too slowly and Avon getting through, causing the cast and crew to break out laughing.
  • Downer Ending: Especially in series 3 and 4. Had there been a series 5, there might have been some redemption from the down-ness of series 4's ending.
  • The Dragon: Space Commander Travis, a leather-clad psychopathic Federation officer with one eye and an artificial hand with a built-in laser gun. He has an obsession with hunting down Blake, the man who crippled him, that continues even after he becomes a Federation fugitive himself.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: In one episode where Travis is supposed to be a tough gunslinger, he walks into a bar and orders a vitazade. Which invokedunfortunately is now an Irish soft drink. Apart from this the usual booze of choice is "adrenaline and soma", implied to be a pick-me-up with the soma to take the edge off.
  • Duel to the Death: Between Blake and Travis in "Duel", and the Combat by Champion in "Death-Watch". Also the Throwing Down the Gauntlet version in "Power".
  • Easily Conquered World: In Season D the Terran Federation is suddenly able to reconquer several planets they lost during the upheavals of the past year. Turns out they've developed a drug called Pylene-50 that blocks the production of adrenaline. It's hard to resist a tyranny when you can't get angry or aggressive about it.
  • Economy Cast: Several planets or cultures had a population of only one or two people, especially when they had to share the screen with a number of extras playing an opposing group. In the pilot episode, the people seen walking the corridors in the opening scene are later killed in the massacre, then make an Unexplained Recovery as prisoners in the transit cell with Blake. According to producer David Maloney he'd go through scripts and whenever he saw something like "Fifty guards rush into the room", invokedhe'd cross out the fifty and write "two".
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Xenon Base, used by the crew of Scorpio.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The dark entity that tried to take over Cally in "Shadow." The motivations and true appearance of the Andromedan invaders in "Star One" is kept a mystery.
  • The Empire: Though it's called The Federation (occasionally the Terran Federation), it's not The Federation in anything except some of its own propaganda. Puppet states and rigged elections on its frontiers are par for the course.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: The Terran Federation maintains control of its citizens through fear and through dosing the air and water with pacification drugs. In extreme cases such as Roj Blake's, brainwashing and re-programming were utilised when simply killing the individual would not result in the best outcome for the Federation.
  • Enemy Mine: In "Killer" and "Star One" Blake chooses to warn the Federation of a greater threat to humanity. Servalan isn't above joining forces when stranded on a planet with our heroes, but they have to be careful about turning their back on her ("Aftermath", "Moloch" and "Sand").
  • Enforced Technology Levels:
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Most prominently Servalan, also Morag, Major Thania, and others.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Avon snarkily explaining how the door panels work in "Space Fall", thus showing off his love of computers and his love of being rude to people he thinks are dumber than him. (Which is, of course, everyone.)
    • Cally knocking Blake over with her gun, and speaking to him telepathically combines her fighter nature with her dislike of actual violence, and demonstrates her telepathy.
    • Vila trying to take Blake's watch shows he's a thief in "The Way Back", though it's presented initially as being a compulsive behaviour rather than something he does because he's good at it, as in later episodes.
    • Jenna snarking at Vila, then deducing the spacecraft they're on has a faulty hyperdrive.
    • A smiling Gan threatening to tear a guard's hand off in order to make him open a door.
    • Dayna's Big Damn Heroes moment by saving Avon from some angry natives with her bow and arrow.
    • Tarrant, disguised as a Federation officer, casually introducing himself to Avon and Dayna and asking what they're doing on his ship.
    • Soolin's restrained response to her boyfriend kissing her, then beating our heroes in a Quick Draw.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: In "City at the Edge of the World", Beyban the Butcher (played by Colin Baker) speaks fondly of his mother ("Wonderful woman. Truly evil personality.").
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Travis is court-martialed by Star Command for one of his massacres in "Trial".
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: The series finale. They even threw in a line of dialogue which revealed that the only previous regular character to make it out of the series alive had died off-screen at some point since.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Happens a few times, usually when someone's cracked a joke at Vila's expense. However a more notorious example is in "Children of Auron" when Avon cracks a lame joke and everyone laughs after almost every member of Cally's race gets killed with biological warfare, including her sister.
  • Everything in Space Is a Galaxy:
    • The show uses "galaxy" and "solar system" interchangeably. Travis on one occasion spots the Liberator and crows, "There he is! I knew he'd have to return to this galaxy!"
    • One scene shows someone laying mines around the Milky Way galaxy to keep out aliens. Taken literally, this would mean there would hardly be any galaxy left by the time the minefield is laid out.
    • Despite traveling from Earth to the edges of the galaxy and back, there is a part of the galaxy that takes them centuries to travel across.
  • Evil Is Hammy:
    • Averted with the soulless Orwellian bureaucrats of the Terran Administration, but once we leave Earth and those tranquilizers they put in the water there is no shortage of Mad Scientists, religious maniacs, campy crime bosses, power-hungry schemers, murderous Femme Fatales and psychotic Federation thugs to make things interesting, half of them dressed in Impractically Fancy Outfits and Chewing the Scenery for all it's worth.
    • "Evil" is an open question, but it's certainly true that the more embittered and compromised Avon becomes, the more studs he wears, poses he strikes, and lines he delivers in staccato barks.
  • Evil Wears Black: The Federation Gas Mask Mooks wear black overalls, black gas masks, and carry black weaponry. Travis wears all black leather, and even when he's forced to leave the military is usually seen wearing black clothes. Avon, the most morally ambiguous member of the heroes, is often seen in black leather as well. However, it was deliberately averted by actress Jacqueline Pearce who decided to have Servalan wear white (though she changes to black halfway through the series).
  • Explosive Decompression: A few times people apparently explode after being teleported into space. However, it's explained the first time it happens that this isn't them exploding under internal pressure — it's the result of teleporting somebody over too long a distance so that the device can't put them back together again. On one occasion when a person gets Thrown Out the Airlock, we see a model body drift away without exploding.
  • Faceless Goons: The Federation's always gas-masked troopers, though subverted in some episodes where we see them take the masks off for breaks, or if you the viewer are going to have to remember which one is who. Even alien civilizations seem to have these as the standard sci-fi dystopia package. Given the Economy Cast, it has the added advantage of enabling extras to be reused for other roles.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The ending of a very large number of episodes involve this trope, especially in Season D.
  • Fake in the Hole: Avon throws an Everything Sensor into a group of mercenaries, shouting "Grenade!" The mercenaries reflexively dive for cover, and when they realize it was fake and look up, the heroes have them at gunpoint.
    Avon:: It must have been a dud. Sorry about that.
  • Fake Memories: This is integral to the first episode (and unfortunately dropped after that). Ordinary civilian Blake discovers that he was once a famous revolutionary who got captured, was forced to renounce the rebellion he'd lied and had his memories replaced in order to turn him into a model citizen. Later, the Federation gets Blake convicted of child molestation by modifying the memories of children so they'd remember being attacked by Blake.
  • Famed In-Story: Blake. Servalan tries to stamp this out by putting in place a total news blackout in regards to him. Turns out they Can't Stop The Signal and so the censorship only increases Blake's reputation, as any setback the Federation suffers is credited to him.
  • Fan of the Past:
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Federation has a rigid hierarchical system divided on either intelligence/merit or function — Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta grades are specifically mentioned. Blake is an Alpha, a privileged group who apparently acts as the leader (which is likely why his role as a rebel leader is treated so seriously in the pilot episode). Vila is a Delta service grade, claiming to have faked his IQ test to avoid a higher grade and the requisite military service. There's also a Labour grade who are regarded as expendable slaves.
  • Fantastic Drug: Shadow from the episode of that name. There's also "adrenaline and soma" in episodes written by Allan Prior, a Shout-Out to Brave New World. The adrenaline is drunk as a stimulant (whether it's actual adrenaline or just a brand name is unknown) with the soma presumably a downer to take the edge off. Upping the soma dosage leads to Instant Sedation.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Time-Distort and Hyperdrives (which may or may not be the same thing) are used by the Federation; the Liberator uses a different, more exotic propulsion. In Season D, Scorpio is fitted with a super-fast experimental Photonic Drive. All of these propulsion methods are limited to travel within the Milky Way Galaxy. The alien invaders from Andromeda, however, have an unspecified "intergalactic drive."
  • Faux Affably Evil: Servalan, with her creepy smile and slippery charm.
  • Final Season Casting: Glynis Barber as Soolin.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Most of the characters. Not that any of them would admit it.
    • In Cally's first appearance she attacked Blake, Avon pointed a gun at her and Jenna was distrustful of her for two episodes. By the end of her tenure, she has a Will They or Won't They? vibe with Avon and is practically gal pals with Jenna.
    • When Tarrant and Dayna first met, he pointed a gun at her and Avon and appeared to take over the ship. They get on surprisingly well.
  • Fix Fic: The episode "Sand" appears to be a Fix Fic for the dubious characterization of Servalan in the earlier episode "The Harvest of Kairos".
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Servalan with both Avon (including a Big Damn Kiss) and Tarrant (including sex while trapped on a planet together).
  • Forbidden Zone:
    • Referred to by that exact name in "Pressure Point". Protected by automated defences, the Forbidden Zone defends the Federation Master Computer called Central Control. The crew gets through by using their energy weapons as wire cutters and running very fast. Only to discover that Control was moved years ago and the Zone is only maintained as Schmuck Bait for the enemies of the Federation.
    • There's also the Bermuda Triangle IN SPACE! version containing either a Negative Space Wedgie or hostile aliens who want to discourage humans from entering their territory.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum:
  • Frame-Up: Blake is framed for molesting children rather than simply prosecuted for political "crimes" or killed, to discredit him rather than making a martyr.
  • Freudian Trio: The "Power Trio". Blake, Avon and Jenna, the three strongest personalities aboard Liberator and her first crew.
    • Id: Blake — idealistic, charismatic, and the leading figure of the Rebellion.
    • Superego: Avon — holds self-preservation as the only real value (and wealth the best tool to achieve it).
    • Ego: Jenna — quite possibly as ruthless as Avon, respects Blake for his ideals but won't follow him off the metaphorical cliff.
  • Friendly Enemy: Avon and Vila have this sort of relationship. On a personal level, they despise one another. On a professional level, they have tremendous respect for each other's skills (Avon as a computer expert, Vila as a master thief).
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Federation troopers as noted above.
  • Ghost Ship:
    • The Liberator is first discovered adrift in space after the crew abandoned the ship during a space battle. It is protected by a defence system that lures intruders with hallucinations of absent friends or family.
    • In "Time Squad", the Liberator receives a distress call from a tiny spacecraft with a crew in suspended animation. They revive and attack the Liberator crew, having been conditioned to protect its cargo against all intruders.
    • In "Killer", an obsolete deep space exploration vessel turns up at a Federation base. When they retrieve the corpse of the pilot, it revives and attacks the doctor doing the autopsy, breaching quarantine and spreading a deadly plague throughout the base.
    • In "Sarcophagus" the crew encounters an alien vessel containing the corpse of a dead woman. Turns out she's Not Quite Dead, surviving as an Energy Being who takes over Cally and then the Liberator.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • In "Dawn of the Gods" the rest of the crew try and persuade Vila to put on a spacesuit and take a look outside the ship
      Vila: Oh no. Not me. Not a spacesuit. Well, it wasn't my idea. I never did trust those things. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the whole galaxy can or will persuade me to wear one. Not a chance.
      [Cut to the airlock where Vila is wearing a spacesuit]
    • In "Rescue", the only spacecraft on the planet is on the other side of a sealed door, so our heroes leave Vila to get it open while they look for another entrance. Their search is futile, but their Master of Unlocking must have the other door open by now, surely? Cut to Vila next to an open the wine cabinet.
      Vila: There's something very suspicious about a man who keeps his booze under lock and key.
  • Girly Run:
    • Blake and Avon run like girls. It's oddly appropriate when you consider Blake is an engineer and Avon is a computer tech.
    • Travis gets one too, from the hips down (he was being doubled by another actor); in a documentary on the series, they point out that the director wanted a pell-mell run, but the set was so small that doing that would have resulted in smacking into (or, just as likely, straight through) the far wall. The attempt to find a compromise between artistic vision and safety results in sort of a bouncy, skipping... thing...
  • Good Is Not Nice: Even the more moral members of the Seven have their ruthless moments — Blake threatening to destroy a surgeon's hands in "Breakdown", Cally threatening to open fire on a neutral space station unless her friends aren't returned in "Shadow", Gan threatening to take a guard's handoff for a Borrowed Biometric Bypass in "Space Fall".
  • Government Drug Enforcement: The cult on Cygnus Alpha's fake medicine, plus the various tricks pulled by The Government back on Earth to keep people in line, from fake memories to tranquilizers in the water or food. The Federation also turns out to have a hand in the production of Shadow, a dangerous narcotic. In Season D, the Federation develops a pacifying drug that enables them to quickly reconquer the empire they just lost, and there's a story arc involving the attempt to develop a countermeasure.
  • Greek Letter Ranks: The Federation's social classes are "alphas", "betas", "gammas", and "epsilons".
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • On the prison transport in "Space Fall" they station a lone guard inside the prisoners' room, whose palm print can open the door from there. Naturally, once the camera is taken out he's overpowered and coerced to open the door by Gan threatening that they'll simply take off his hand if he refuses. Also the guard falls for Vila's magic trick distraction a second time; this makes sense when he's bored because there's nothing happening, but not moments after the ship has been endangered by the turbulence from a space battle.
    • From a review of the episode "Bounty":
      " say nothing of the guards' colour codes, which include Red Standby Alert (apparently meaning stand around and do nothing), Red Mobilisation (wander around outside the house), and Blue Mobilisation (allow the President and his daughter to escape in a vintage car accompanied by two terrorists)."
    • Zigzagged in "Rumours of Death". La Résistance knocks out a camera, and rather than say It's Probably Nothing a squad of guards is immediately dispatched to the area. However, Security refuses to seal off the area as per regulations, pointing out that if it IS nothing then their superiors will come down on them hard if the VIP's are locked out of President Servalan's Fancy Dinner. Unfortunately, the squad is ambushed and stripped of their uniforms which are then used to infiltrate the event.
  • Gut Punch: A notorious one at the end of the very first episode. The hero has been framed for child abuse by the evil government and is about to be sent to a penal colony, but his heroic Crusading Lawyer and the lawyer's girlfriend have discovered proof of the government's corruption and are about to blow everything sky-high. Then in the last-but-one scene of the episode the lawyer and his girlfriend are casually blown away by government agents. The prison ship takes off. The end.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Worn by both heroes and villains, notably Avon and Travis. An S&M shop made the outfits as they had the most experience in working with leather: there's a cute anecdote about the shopworkers frantically hiding the porn and the nipple clamps when Michael Keating (Vila) turned up for a fitting with his little daughter in tow.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: The Liberator guns were meant to evoke this trope, a wand-like device worn in a scabbard holster by the heroes.
  • Hero of Another Story: (Or possibly villain) The System, the race that created the Liberator.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It:
    • The series takes place in the Third Century of the Second Calendar. It's never explained why they stopped using the first calendar in canon, but it's likely that it has something to do with why everyone on Earth is living in domed and/or subterranean cities with going outside being illegal.
    • Also happens on the planet Xenon, where after a devastating war the inhabitants decided to abolish all technological development and start over again from the beginning.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • As noted in the description, Blake and Avon themselves were favourites among early slash writers. "Terminal" especially.
    • "Rescue" is basically The Picture of Dorian Gray IN SPACE! with much of the subtext intact.
    • It usually pops up in one form or another in Robert Holmes' episodes, most notably between Krantor and Toise in "Gambit," and Egrorian and Pinder in "Orbit". Although the standards of the time meant that they couldn't actually be called lovers on-screen, Holmes made it pretty much as obvious as you can get without outright saying the G-word. (They are also inevitably villains. Well, half of them anyway; Krantor and Egrorian were outright villainous, but Toise didn't really care for Krantor's schemes and just wanted to focus on running the casino, while Pinder was neutral.)
  • Human Aliens: Some Planets Of The Week are inhabited by descendants of human colonists, others, whose inhabitants look human, are explicitly stated to be Human Aliens.
    Dayna: I didn't know Helots were originally from Earth.
    Vila: Everyone came from Earth originally. That's a well-known fact.
    Soolin: It's a well-known opinion, actually.
  • Humans Are White: Plenty of Monochrome Casting at first, but as times changed, the BBC started to cast black and Asian actors. In Season C Josette Simon (an English actress of West Indian descent) joined the cast as Dayna Mellanby in an attempt to present some racial diversity, but there were still some kinks to be worked out. For instance in "Traitor", Dayna is sent undercover to the planet Heliotrix. Avon assures her that she won't stand out as "When Helotrix was first settled, the old Stock Equalization Act was still in force. Every Earth race had to be represented." Unfortunately whoever cast the extras didn't read the script, as the only black person we see on the planet is a Federation trooper.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal:
  • Hyperspeed Ambush: This sets off the plot of "Stardrive", when the crew of Scorpio witness three Federation warships exploding for no apparent reason. They rewind the tape frame by frame and discover a tiny one-man spacecraft moving at a hitherto inconceivable speed. Given that our heroes are stuck in a clapped out space freighter, they're determined to get their hands on this new stardrive, which would give them the same advantage they had with the Liberator.
  • Hypocritical Humour: In "Space Fall" it's suggested Avon may collaborate with their captors to get himself set free. Vila calls him a "cold-hearted, murdering..." and then immediately suggests they kill him now before he can do it.
  • I Am Very British: All the main characters speak in Received Pronunciation, even those from the lower Grades like Vila and Gan.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The seasons rather than the episodes, but (probably due to the production codes) it's become traditional to refer to the four seasons as A, B, C and D rather than 1, 2, 3 and 4.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty:
    • Gender-Inverted in "Assassin". Servalan discovers Avon has been Made a Slave, so buys him for a hefty price. Their Foe Romance Subtext then reaches fetish levels when Servalan says that from now on he can call her Mistress. Unfortunately he's rescued at that point.
    • In "Dawn of the Gods", Cally is kidnapped by a powerful but lonely alien being who lays her out on a round bed covered in furs.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Although not a contemporary example, the Liberator works the same way. Its technology is so far in advance of anything the Federation has that capturing the Liberator (and later Orac) is often regarded as more important than killing Blake and his rebels.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Everyone wears wonderfully bizarre clothes, which never appear to get in the way of their adventures. Skintight leather, very long dresses, cleavage (and not just the women), and puffy sleeves abound. Jenna, for example, once saves the day in a gorgeous blue ankle-length evening dress and high-heel boots, even though her coming to the rescue would have involved climbing a lot of ladders.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Blake's lawyer in the pilot realizes the man he's talking to is involved in the conspiracy when he mentions tunnels, which the lawyer hadn't brought up.
  • Insult Backfire: "He was calling me a machine. But since he undoubtedly defines himself as a human being, I shall choose to take that as more of a compliment than anything else." You'd have thought Vila would have known better than to try and insult Avon in such a fashion.
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: Used by Blake in the episode "Bounty", and on Blake in the episode "Cygnus Alpha".
  • Invisible President: We are never shown the unnamed President, though we see a number of his underlings. This is invokedquite brilliant, as it suggests the Federation is vast, and the President has better things to do than run around after Blake. This, unfortunately, gets averted when Servalan becomes President and appears to have all the time in the world to chase after Avon. (Presumably, the original President didn't have Unresolved Sexual Tension with Blake as Servalan has with Avon.)
  • It's All About Me: Vila and Servalan. Avon pretends to be this.
  • It's a Small World, After All
    • In "Time Squad", Blake decides to make contact with La Résistance by landing on the planet Saurian Major and moving from one location to another until someone contacts him. Good thing Cally, the sole surviving member of the rebel forces after the rest were wiped out by biological warfare, is in the area!
    • Justified in "Cygnus Alpha" when it turns out Blake and Avon both worked on the abortive Federation effort to develop a matter transporter. When this trope is lampshaded, it's just pointed out that it was a very large project.
    • In "Aftermath" the script just throws up its proverbial hands and acknowledges the Contrived Coincidence when Avon and Servalan survive a massive space battle only to run into each other while stranded on an alien planet.
      Servalan: You don't sound surprised.
      Avon: Why should I be? It has a perverse kind of logic to it. Our meeting is the most unlikely happening I could imagine. Therefore we meet. Surprise seems inappropriate somehow.
  • Jade-Coloured Glasses: Avon spends most of Series 1 and 2 trying to get everyone to try a pair on, with varying success.
  • Jiggle Show: famously parodied on radio show The Burkiss Way.
    "Attention Earthlings! if you do not surrender immediately we will be forced to put on the ill-fitting clothes and the thinly disguised motorcycle helmets, and ponce up and down in the high-heeled leather boots, in the company of lots of women with no bras on!"
  • Just in Time: Whenever they do a Teleportation Rescue. Either the Liberator has to Run or Die from a Federation patrol, and only returns barely in time to hear a desperate plea for immediate teleport, or they teleport out just as someone is about to shoot them or their location is about to explode. Sometimes they teleport back to the Liberator only to find it's been captured while they were away.
  • Kangaroo Court:
    • Blake's trial is decided ahead of time since he was framed. However, he didn't help his case by refusing to even offer a defence, because he was innocent.
    • Servalan decides to remove Travis so he can't be a witness against her, so she stacks the deck at his court-martial by selecting a Hanging Judge so he will be sure to get the death penalty. In this case, however, Travis really is guilty of what he's accused of.
  • Kill All Humans:
    • Averted in "Killer". The Plague sent to infect humanity was just meant to confine us to our planet of origin, only affecting those who have gone out into deep space.
    • The Andromedans are planning a Guilt-Free Extermination War that will all but wipe out the human race. Due to their being Eldritch Abominations however we discover nothing about their motives, and there appears to be no distaste for humanity involved. They express genuine curiosity as to why Travis would assist them in their goals.
    • In "Headhunter", the killer android plans to take over the galaxy, and Orac predicts this will lead to the demise of all organic life, perhaps because Robots Are Just Better and humanity would not be able to compete.
  • The Klutz: Paul Darrow, to a level that has probably not been matched until Matt Smith and a reputation that is legendary (and still growing). He broke every single gun he was handed, and the props department got so frustrated they made him one with an aluminium core so he couldn't break it... not to mention the sets and various buttons and levers. One blooper runs like this:
    Josette Simon: [in character as Dayna] Avon, what are you doing?
    Darrow: [the knob he was fiddling with breaking off in his hand, sending him into an adorkably abashed smile and fit of giggles] Pulling the set apart.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: Blake turns into this.
  • La Résistance: Lots of planets have their own Resistance cells against Federation control, and there are elements of an interplanetary underground of freethinkers opposed to the Federation.
  • Large Ham:
    • Many, especially by the end. Well-acted, but not understated.
    • "Is it true? Have you betrayed us? Have. You. Betrayed. ME?" (Shatner would be proud)
  • Left Hanging: The deliberate version, though the producers were careful to leave themselves an out if the series was renewed again.
  • Licensed Sexist: Avon becomes a hardcore sexist in any episode written by Ben Steed. The most blatant instance is in the episode "Power", where he actually lectures a female villain on how women are inherently less strong than men. Fortunately, the other writers treated Avon in a much more even-handed way, giving him much respect for his female colleagues and even Servalan to a certain extent.
  • Limited Wardrobe: In Season D, when they're in reduced circumstances, the cast wears the same clothes episode after episode; it's not a perfect example, because they do change once or twice, but it's pretty striking after three seasons of lavishly Unlimited Wardrobe.
  • Little People: In "The Web" our heroes encounter the Decima, a genetically-engineered Servant Race four-feet high on a planet covered in five-foot high bracken.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: In "Pressure Point", Gan stops to hold up a slowly-descending door, and gets killed when the roof collapses from a grenade blast.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Though the show was very sparing with its romantic sub-plots, it's not difficult to read a subtext into the series that basically has Blake, Avon, Jenna, and Cally involved in one: Blake/Jenna and Avon/Cally both have heaps of Unresolved Sexual Tension (though mostly one-sided from poor Cally in the latter instance), while there's hints of Avon/Jenna engaging in some Belligerent Sexual Tension (above and beyond the BST Avon has with everyone, that is). Meanwhile, Cally's open admiration for Blake right from the time she joins the crew can read like a crush pretty easily. And that's to say nothing of the possibility of Blake/Avon and Jenna/Cally that's barely buried any deeper in the subtext than the heterosexual pairings...
    • The second crew gets in on it, too: Cally and Dayna are both pretty blatantly attracted to Avon, but there's also Vila with a none-too-subtle crush on Dayna; while Dayna and Tarrant have perhaps the only explicit, canonical romance between main characters in the show (though "romance" might be slightly too sentimental a term for what they apparently get up to). Avon meanwhile gives the impression of still just being Avon, while in particular having an implied Friends with Benefits dynamic with Soolin in the final season.
  • Ludd Was Right:
    • Any episode by Ben Steed has characters who either distrust technology or run afoul of it. In "The Harvest of Kairos", Jarvik waxes lyrical over the Good Old Ways in preference to the soulless machines that Servalan has surrounded herself with and even smashes a computer at the end of his speech.
    • In "Powerplay", society has split into two factions, the Primitives who wanted to live the simple life, and the High-Techs. The latter turn out to be the villains who are capturing the Primitives for Organ Theft.
    • It's a Zigzagged Trope in general. The Terran Federation is introduced using all the sinister tools of an Orwellian dystopia to enforce their rule — Government Drug Enforcement, Sinister Surveillance, Brainwashing and Fake Memories. However a few episodes later our heroes end up on a prison planet where a cult leader holds sway without any technology whatsoever, showing that oppression comes from people, not machines. Indeed, the Seven always includes one or two artificially-intelligent computers.
  • Machine Empathy: Jenna can tell the hyperdrive of the London "needs restressing, by the feel of things."
  • The Mad Hatter: By the final series, Avon is clearly well into a psychotic break. In the final episode, he implicitly describes himself as a psychopath. Paul Darrow considers Avon "under stress" rather than actually mad, at least up until that point.
  • Mad Scientist:
  • Magical Computer: Orac is even described as such though it denies being anything magical. The computer can tap into and take over any other computer, predict the future, blow up enemy vessels, operate the teleport, shrink itself to half size and help rob a casino, and work as an Auto Doc.
  • Magnificent Seven: Even when they don't alway number seven.
  • Married to the Job: Servalan, who states that "power became [her] lover" when her boyfriend left her. It has to be said that the rebels' work-life balance is also terrible.
  • Master Computer: Apparently We Will Use Dumb Terminals In The Future as the entire Federation is coordinated from Central Control aka Star One, a computer that monitors all information political, civil, or military, and handles everything from space traffic control to planetary weather manipulation. While Zee Rust is undoubtedly a factor, the idea is no doubt more appealing to the Vast Bureaucracy that runs the Federation than a distributed network would be, what with the constant threat of breakaway colonies. The Federation is however aware of what a great target Central Control is and takes excessive precautions to protect it.
  • Mechanistic Alien Culture:
    • The System, a civilization controlled by the three powerful defence computers of the three inhabited planets of their solar system, which built the starship DSV-1. The System was administered by Altas (either cyborgs, androids, or augmented humans) and black-armoured guards that appeared to be cybernetically augmented humans. There were also thousands of human slaves, descendants of the people who had built the computers that had taken over their civilization.
    • Similarly, the Ultra of Ultraworld in Series 3 are blue-skinned humanoid creatures either summoned or created by Ultraworld (a living, artificial planet/giant computer centred around an enormous brain) to interact with captured starship crews, whom Ultraworld intends to absorb into its gestalt. They walk with a jerky gait and speak in odd, robot-like cadences. The "menials," assimilated humanoid servants, are also examples of this trope: their identity, memories, and emotions are recorded on a tube and stored in a library. They behave mechanistically as they toil about, maintaining Ultraworld.
    • The Federation could be said to be an example of this; it has rigid autocratic tendencies, computerized trials, and Star One, a computer complex that controls various functions of their society. They have "grades," hierarchical classes of citizens, and Federation colonies are highly controlled environments with pharmaceuticals pumped into the air and water to pacify the people.
  • Mind Rape: Apparently Standard Operating Procedure for The Federation who will do it for pretty much any reason to their opponents (Blake was brainwashed into forgetting his dissident past), and even to innocent children (they brainwash several children into believing they'd been molested by Blake so they would have some credible witnesses with which they could smear and exile him).
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Caper episodes usually involved stealing a stash of valuable coloured crystals.
  • Mirror Match: In "Games", Soolin participates in a deadly Quick Draw game against a computer, represented by an image of herself. The computer is programmed to match and then exceed her draw time, forcing the player to lift their own game or die.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Avon pretends to be this but is in fact the most philanthropic member of the crew.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Blake's case, in which he was framed for molesting children with fake memories, convicted and sent to a penal colony.
  • Mook Mobile: Any Federation pursuit ship not commanded by Travis or Servalan.
  • Morality Chip: In Gan.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Tarrant, quite consciously if you believe invokedWord of God. Avon also has a lot of fans.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Servalan's default response to any problem, though it's not like the Federation High Council is any better.
    • The inventor of Orac wants 300 million credits for his Magical Computer, plus a doctor to fix his artificial heart. Deciding it will take too long to pry a fortune from the Federation bureaucracy, Servalan murders the doctor, has him posted as a deserter (meaning his family will be sold into slavery) then waits for the inventor to die of natural causes so she can go in and steal Orac for her personal use.
    • Servalan infects the Auronar with a Synthetic Plague just to blackmail them into cloning children for her. And they say Babies Make Everything Better.
    • Once Agravo had been mined of all useful minerals, the Federation evacuated the skilled personnel and left the others to die a slow death when their resources ran out. As it turns out an industrial accident kills them first.
    • Gauda Prime was designated an agricultural world, but when it was discovered to have mineral wealth on the land that the Federation settlers legally owned, the High Council declared it an Open Planet where all law & order was suspended. Anyone who refused to leave could then be legally murdered.
  • Naming Your Colony World: Destiny, Goth, Horizon (a planet on the edge of the galaxy, used as a jumping-off point for exploring the next galaxy), Albion, Obsidian (which has a supervolcano), Teal, Spaceworld, Ultraworld, Freedom City, Space City, Terminal, Star One (a single planet orbiting a star). In "City at the Edge of the World", Vila discovers a new world suitable for colonization, and there's a joking debate over whether to call it Homeworld or Vilaworld. See also Numbered Homeworld.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Averted despite Terry Nation's fondness for this trope and all the black-clad troopers stomping about. The sterile and shoddy appearance of the invokedNo Budget sets, lackluster functionaries, brainwashing of dissidents and ubiquitous camera surveillance draw more from the socialist dystopia of Nineteen Eighty-Four than Those Wacky Nazis.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: A black hole in "Dawn of the Gods", a Swirly Energy Thingy in "Breakdown", a giant fungal web in "The Web", and in "Terminal" a cloud of corrosive matter that eats away at the hull, leaving the interior Covered in Gunge and causing the Liberator to break apart and explode when Servalan orders "Maximum Power!" after finally capturing it.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes:
    • Notably the marble-sized plague sphere which came within a gnats whisker of killing the crew in Project Avalon. There should have been any number of ways of smuggling that weapon about the Liberator, and it would have been a short show if Servalan had bothered to try.
    • In the same episode the Federation has infaliable mind-reading technology that would make obsolete the Torture Technicians we see them using in later seasons.
  • Never Tell Me the Odds!: Averted; battle computers are consulted as a routine strategy. In "Horizon", when Avon considers abandoning his colleagues and fleeing with the Liberator, he has Orac calculate the odds of succeeding with a Crew of One. Sometimes though he is disappointed.
    Avon: Zen, can we withstand an attack of this magnitude?
    Zen: No information.
  • No Ending: Having already confirmed with the BBC management that the series was to end, Vere Lorrimer and Chris Boucher decided to conclude with a Cliffhanger Copout so they'd either have an ending no-one would forget, or create the demand for a fifth season with all the characters except Blake being stunned if the actors stayed on, or Killed Off for Real if they decided not to.
  • No-Harm Requirement: Attempts to track down and kill Blake and his rebels are hampered by the Federation's desire to capture the Liberator (and later Orac) intact. There are always rebels after all, but anyone holding the Liberator or Orac would have a Game Changer on their hands.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: Subverted as these end up demoralizing our heroes more than the sociopathic Servalan.
  • No Peripheral Vision: While at least the Federation Gas Mask Mooks have an excuse for their restricted vision, this trope even applies to the Security Robot despite having sensors placed around a rotatable head. In "Seek-Locate-Destroy" Blake is Hidden in Plain Sight by lying flat on a sloped piece of ground, and in "Project Avalon" the rebels press themselves against the side of a cave, despite the robot coming back from the opposite direction leaving them clearly exposed.
  • No Sense of Distance:
    • The number of planets featured on screen and their close proximity to each other in almost any given shot of the Liberator flying through space is absurd.
    • Federation pursuit cruisers always maintain an exceptionally close formation despite the vastness of space around them, invokedas if they're all hanging off the same mounting rod (though justified when they're lining up for an attack run).
    • In "Duel", Travis explains that the other Federation patrols have pushed the Liberator into this galaxy. One assumes he meant solar system.
    • In "Star One", a space minefield blocks the invasion route between our galaxy and Andromeda. Minefields are only effective when they guard chokepoints. In this case the invasion fleet could simply maneuver around it.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Federation pursuit ships were often more effectively conveyed through pea lights than model shots. It also added a sense of distance to the space battles.
  • Numbered Homeworld: Many of these, e.g., Altern V, Beta V, Mecron II, Zeigler V, Zolat IV, Gauda Prime, Porthia Major, Magdalen Alpha, Del-10, K-14, PK-118, XK-72, and Star One.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Vila's favourite way of getting out of anything dangerous. Some fans speculate that Avon sees right through it, and his grudging admiration for just how good Vila is at it is the reason he never quite resorts to cold-blooded murder.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The President's offsiders Rontane and Bercol, who are sent to threaten Servalan on the President's behalf.
  • One Extra Member: Inverted. The team never had more than six human members. You had to include one or more of their sentient computers to bring the group up to seven.
  • Only One Name: All the main characters are known by one name only, and it is inconsistent as to whether it is their first or last name. It's not established in the case of Cally, Soolin, Servalan, and Travis if they even have another name. It seems to be that upper-class folks use their family names, while lower-class characters use their given names.
  • Organ Theft: In "Powerplay", Cally and Vila are picked up by a hospital spacecraft from the neutral planet of Chenga, rescuing survivors from the battle against the Andromedans. Changan society split into two factions, the Primitives who wanted to live the simple life, and the High-Techs who embrace it. Unfortunately, the Primitives are being hunted and captured by bounty hunters so their organs can be used for Human Resources, and it turns out the hospital ship isn't missing the opportunity provided by the wide-ranging battle. Only a last-minute Teleportation Rescue saves our heroes from being dissected.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: In "Pressure Point", Blake has to explain to Gan what a church is as "The Federation had them all destroyed at the beginning of the New Calendar." While the Clonemasters have pseudo-religious trappings, they are a creation of the Federation used to keep control of their forbidden knowledge. In "Cygnus Alpha", the cult leaders use a phony religion to keep their society united on a penal planet with limited resources. Other than these examples however the trope is played straight, as we don't see anyone turning to religious belief to cope with their existence in a Crapsack World. Neither does the Federation use a state religion as a tool of power, which they'd certainly do if religious beliefs had any currency among the population.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In "Shadow", Blake tries to purchase the help of Terra Nostra only to be captured instead. They force him to call Cally on the Liberator, so Blake tells her to send Zen across with the money. However this backfires because his captor assumes Blake came there by shuttle (he was teleported, but that's not a well-known technology) and therefore that's a Covert Distress Code — his shuttle should still be on the Space Station, not the Liberator. Blake has to bluff him into believing the Liberator has more than one shuttle. It should be noted that the crew of the Liberator never do establish a Covert Distress Code, despite several occasions where they're coerced (or their voice is faked) to get someone to teleport up a boarding party.
  • Outranking Your Job: For the leader of a galactic empire, Servalan does a lot of running around after the Liberator. It's somewhat justified as Space Commander Travis is the one chasing our heroes while Servalan pilots a desk at Star Command, only risking her life when she's got some personal interest in the outcome (e.g. Servalan is either looking for kudos or running a private scheme that she can't afford to delegate). When she becomes President of the Terran Federation it's become a Vestigial Empire that's collapsed into chaos and Civil War, so Servalan is hoping that capturing the Liberator and Orac will increase her own power base against rival Federation factions. It's no surprise that the forces loyal to her are overthrown after Servalan is stranded on an isolated planet and apparently killed during a final ill-fated attempt to seize the Liberator.
  • Override Command: Zen could not be commanded without voice authorization from a crewmember. Anyone planning on seizing the Liberator has to take this into consideration.
  • Painted-On Pants: Apparently Paul Darrow once wore a pair of leather trousers that were so tight, he had to be helped up and down in scenes where Avon was kneeling down to do something technical. invokedTravis and Jenna also wear them.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Vila, the noted lockpicker, when stuck in a hatch (also an example of Hypocritical Humour).
    Avon: [on vox] Use your delicate, skilful touch.
    [Vila kicks the hatch open instead]
    Vila: I used my delicate, skilful boot.
  • Phlebotinum Pills: Hibernation pills for long space voyages, decontamination drugs and dream suppressants are mentioned.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Played with in "Ultraworld". Dayna has a micro grenade hidden in a tooth, which she primes by putting it back in her mouth and adjusting it with her teeth.
  • Planetary Parasite: Zil is one of a humanoid species of parasites who live on the surface of a living planet called "Host."
  • Planet Terra: The Terran Federation.
  • Playing Drunk: At one point, Vila pretends to be drunk so he can make a suggestion on how to fix the current problem (atmosphere leaking out of a hole in the hull) in the form of a rambling reminiscence, but not be called on to undertake the repair himself (because you couldn't give such a dangerous task to someone who was obviously drunk).
  • Pretty Boy: It is established in canon that Servalan likes to surround herself with these, leading Travis to sneer at her "decorative staff men".
  • Proud Warrior Race: Several primitive tribes, including the Goths, Hommicks and Sarrans.
  • Psychic Radar: Cally, the Auron telepath pulls this trick to sneak up on Blake when she's introduced.
  • Psycho Sidekick: Avon while he's second-in-command to Blake, though he only went really round the twist when Blake vanished and left him in charge for the next two seasons.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Practically everyone we see in the Federation is either worldly weary and just trying to get on with their day, or cooly indifferent.
  • The Quincy Punk: The Space Rats are violent Outlaw Bikers IN SPACE who have gigantic mohawks and glam-rock facial make-up. Not so much "stereotype punk" as "three different countercultures shoved in a blender".
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The entire crew is basically this.
  • Raygun Gothic: As much as the budget would allow.
  • Rearrange the Song: The inappropriately jolly end credit theme on the final season. Which often led to Mood Dissonance given the number of Downer Endings in that season.
  • Rebel Leader: Blake, though he ventures into morally hazy territory. Avon from Season C onwards, not that he wants to be. A number of others appear over the course of the series, including Avalon and Kasabi.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The stage is set in the first episode when Blake is warned that forged documents have been left in his room that implicates him, in case he's thinking of denouncing the dissident meeting to the authorities. By the end of Season B, the previously idealistic Blake is willing to create mass destruction by destroying the Master Computer that controls the Federation, throwing thousands of worlds into famine and chaos.
    Blake: I meant what I said on Goth, Avon. We are not going to use Star One to rule the Federation. We are going to destroy it.
    Avon: I never doubted that. I never doubted your fanaticism. As far as I am concerned, you can destroy whatever you like. You can stir up a thousand revolutions. You can wade in blood up to your armpits. Oh, and you can lead the rabble to victory, whatever that might mean. Just so long as there is an end to it.
  • Revolving Door Casting: Only two characters, Avon and Vila, made it through all four seasons as regulars. (Peter Tuddenham appeared on all four seasons, but playing three different regular characters.) Michael Keating (Vila) was the only actor to appear in every episode of the show, as Avon wasn't introduced until the second episode.
  • Revolving Door Revolution: Servalan takes over the Federation in a Military Coup at the end of Season B, gets briefly deposed by a member of her Secret Police mid-season, then permanently deposed at the end of Season C by supporters of the previous system who quickly move to reconquer the planets the Federation lost during the Civil War.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Federation Mind Raped Blake into condemning his own revolution, imprisoned him, drugged him to keep him docile, murdered his family, and eventually framed him for child molestation and sent him to a penal colony. His decisions subsequently are driven at least in part by a desire for some payback.
  • Robots Are Just Better:
    • In "Project Avalon", a Rebel Leader is replaced by a gynoid imposter. A colleague who knows her well is suspicious, but she kills him.
      Vila: He shouldn't have tried to tackle it alone.
      Avon: He probably didn't. Just being suspicious would have been enough. A machine of this type would have recognized that easily, more easily than we would.
    • In "Death-Watch," a war is fought via Combat by Champion, but one side cheats by using an android. When the two champions agree to settle matters with a Quick Draw showdown, the android instantly outdraws his opponent, despite the latter being an experienced gunfighter famous for his Quick Draw. The question then becomes for our heroes, how do you defeat an opponent who's faster than human?
    • In "Headhunter", an android with no Morality Chip has killed its creator and is rampaging through the base looking for Magical Computer Orac, who begs to be shut down before this happens, as with their combined powers they could dominate and eventually make extinct all organic humanoid life.
  • Rousing Speech: Blake likes to try and give these, much to Avon's eternal annoyance.
  • Sanity Slippage: Avon and Travis most clearly. Some would also say Blake.
  • Science Is Wrong: A subtle but quite clever example in "Cygnus Alpha". When Blake points out that the speed the Liberator is apparently traveling would "cross the antimatter interface", which is thought to be physically impossible, Avon points out that people used to think the same thing about the light barrier.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: A Federation trooper fires on the audience in the Title Sequence montage. The final episode ends with Avon raising his gun to the camera and giving a sickly grin, before the cut to black and the sound of gunshots.
  • Season Finale: Each one ended in a cliffhanger.
  • Self-Healing Phlebotinum: The Liberator had self-repair circuits allowing the ship to repair itself without help from the crew. The speed of repair generally depended on the level of damage; the worse the damage, the faster the repairs. Justified by minor damage being harder to locate.
  • Send in the Search Team: In the first episode a prison transport encounters an unidentified ship floating dead in space. After the first two parties sent to investigate fail to return, the captain assembles a team of disposable prisoners to investigate. This group contains the founding members of the eponymous seven, who take command of the deserted ship and escape.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The characters kiss, then are shown later relaxing in the afterglow yet fully dressed. One of the most blatant examples is in "City at the Edge of the World". Vila and a female mercenary named Kerril get trapped on a spaceship they're told is running out of air. As the two come to terms with their fate they embrace. When we see them next they are fully clothed and lying a foot apart despite the dialogue making it very clear that they just had sex.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Blake is this In-Universe.
  • Signature Style
  • Slave Mooks
    • Mutoids are a cybernetically-modified Amazon Brigade. Their memories have been wiped so they have no purpose outside service to the Federation.
    • Deconstructed in "Traitor". The Terran Federation has conquered a Proud Warrior Race thanks to a drug that blocks the production of adrenaline. They send a unit of these brainwashed soldiers to attack one of the few remaining resistance groups. However as they lack any form of anxiety or aggression, they placidly walk into an ambush and are massacred.
  • Sleazy Politician: In abundance, as this is a Crapsack World. Servalan is the most prominent example.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Every armed resistance group or Federation base appears to have a single female member in a speaking role, while everyone else is male. There are never any female mooks in the background, silently working their way up the ranks to the position of Supreme Commander or Rebel Leader. Averted with our heroes however as there are always two female members of the Seven — Jenna/Cally, Cally/Dayna, and then Dayna/Soolin.
  • Space Clothes: A classic example; pulpy and elaborate, with lots of metallic fabrics and weird Elizabethan touches.
  • Space Pirates:
  • Space Station: Star Command, a giant ring-shaped space station that is Servalan's headquarters in the first two seasons. There's also Space City, an ostensibly neutral Vice City secretly run by the organized crime group Terra Nostra. Space Laboratory XK-72 is a research facility maintained by a consortium of neutral planets. Spaceworld is the control centre of the System, a Master Computer that has forcibly taken over three planetary systems.
  • Space Western: Not played straight, but as Chris Boucher was a fan of The Western he'd work in various tropes and Shout Outs.
  • Space "X": Space Commander, Space Surgeon, Space Major, Space Assault Force, space hours, space fatigue, spacecast, space heater... OK, that last one is real.
  • Specifically Numbered Group: A borderline example because the titular Rag Tag Band Of Misfits are never actually called such in-universe, but for some reason they never spent more than a couple of episodes down to six or fewer main characters before picking up someone new. This persisted even after Blake himself was Put on a Bus.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Blake's 7 was meant to be Star Trek turned on its head: the symbol of the fascist Terran Federation was even the symbol of The Federation Starfleet turned 90 degrees to the right.
  • Spit Take: Avon does a rather big one in "Gambit", on hearing that Vila has been conned into playing a Deadly Game.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The show might be called Blake's 7 but Avon is in more episodes, is more popular with fans, and is more interesting.
  • Starship Luxurious: The Liberator, a mysterious, fantastically powerful alien craft; when they board it, Jenna and Avon find an on-board treasure room and a vast costume closet. It has numerous crew amenities, a teleport system, a BFG and a sentient computer.
  • Star Trek Shake: Sometimes the crew shakes, sometimes it's the camera, or they just use special effects to distort the image.
  • Stealth in Space:
    • In "Time Squad", the Liberator approaches Saurian Major from Federation space, figuring their attention will be towards neutral space. So they don't have a space traffic control system?
    • In "Duel", the Liberator orbits close to a planet to hide them from long-range detection, as opposed to hiding in deep space. However, Travis has already tracked them down and uses the planet to hide his attack run. He's only detected because some of the crew have teleported down to the planet, where they look up at the night sky and see the lights of the drive units closing in on the Liberator.
    • In "Stardrive", Avon decides to sneak past the detection grid of a planet by hugging close to an asteroid. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome and the Scorpio side-swipes the asteroid, severely damaging the ship.
    • In "Volcano", the Liberator is in geostationary orbit so it can only scan one half of a planet at the time. Servalan has a battlefleet in the same orbit on the other side of the planet, until it's time to strike. It also helps that the man in charge of the planet's detection grid is in league with her.
    • In Season B, Avon invents a deflector shield that can mask the Liberator from anything except a short-range scan. A couple of episodes later they're caught in a massive ambush thanks to the Federation developing a similar device, and Avon expresses disappointment that he can't sell his invention to them.
  • A Storm Is Coming: In "Sarcophagus", Vila has a feeling that a storm is coming, which is unlikely given that they're on a spaceship. Then someone gets a shock from touching a console, and they realize it's due to a build-up of static electricity like you'd have before a storm. Sure enough, this heralds the appearance of the Monster of the Week.
  • Story Arc: An early example and sometimes a slightly meandering one, but when the arcs get going...
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Usually models or Explosive Instrumentation with the occasional full-on version; an explosion in a BBC Quarry during location shooting for "Star One" produced a fireball that melted a camera and brought the police racing to the scene.
  • Styrofoam Rocks:
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • All the incoming leads are of the same gender as departing leads, and will usually fit the general archetype of a departed character. (Except that Tarrant, of course, is nothing like Blake when it comes to his motivations. On the other hand... bouffant hair, steers the Liberator, is a bit of a space pirate... yep, he's actually the new Jenna).
    • And then there's the Scorpio. For the first three seasons, the Liberator is the cast's greatest asset because it has two technologies that the Federation cannot match: its speed and its teleporter. When the Liberator is destroyed at the end of Season Three, they find a new ship, the Scorpio. It also has a superintelligent talking computer (something not seen on most human ships) and a teleporter system! What are the odds? But it's not very fast... until about the fourth episode of the season when they find a new super speed technology.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: On the prison ship in which the convicts are being transported, a guard has been stationed inside the cell where the prisoners are. When he's inevitably overpowered, they then force him to open the door with his palm print (which, of course, opens from the inside).
  • Sword over Head: Particularly noticeable the first couple of seasons because Travis (and sometimes Servalan) had Plot Armour, as they had to survive to serve as Blake's Arch-Enemy. The reasons given include Blake knowing that the Federation would just send someone else (and he's convinced he can always beat Travis), because he's worried he'd enjoy it, or as a Cruel Mercy (because Travis will be punished for failing, or because he's lost everything after going Rogue Agent). When Avon becomes the leader he's not burdened by such qualms, so Servalan usually arranges a Mexican Standoff or Villain: Exit, Stage Left However Avon (and Tarrant in "Sand", despite Servalan arranging the death of his brother) seem equally reluctant to kill her as Blake was to kill Travis.
  • The Syndicate: The Terra Nostra (Cosa Nostra IN SPACE!) whose main revenue is the illegal drug Shadow. Our anti-heroes attempt (unsuccessfully) to buy their help in their struggle against the Terran Federation. The Reveal is that Shadow is being harvested on a planet directly controlled by the President of the Federation, and Terra Nostra is just another means of controlling the populace, this time via its criminal underbelly.
  • Synthetic Plague: Used by Servalan (apparently not the same one both times) in "Project Avalon" and "Children of Auron". Used by an unknown alien race in "Killer".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: If there is an occasion that the crew of the Liberator do something together without snarking at each other, we are never shown it. On the other hand, they do quite genuinely look out for each other, though Avon likes to pretend he doesn't.
  • Teleporters and Transporters:
    • Liberator and Scorpio both possessed teleports, which required bracelets to be worn by those being teleported. This technology was not available to the Federation despite a massive resource project, and so gives the Seven a very useful advantage — a Teleportation Rescue would happen in almost every episode (usually Just in Time too). It's one of the reasons why the Federation is so eager to capture the Liberator.
    • A few aliens could teleport too, either psionically or using technology. The matter-transmission system on Keezarn appeared to function more like a physical gateway than a teleporter.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock
    • In "Space Fall" and "Gold" an airlock tunnel between two spacecraft is torn loose as one vessel suddenly blasts off, killing those inside.
    • In "Warlord", Servalan leaves a Sticky Bomb in the airlock of Warlord Zukan's spacecraft. Zukan sends in his aide to remove it, blowing him out the airlock the moment he detaches the bomb from the metal wall. Unfortunately, the bomb explodes at that point, fatally crippling the spacecraft, so the warlord dies anyway.
    • In "Orbit", Avon tries to airlock Vila when they're both stuck on a shuttle that needs to lose a lot of weight quickly to avoid crashing. Things get... pretty dark before an alternative solution is found.
  • Title Drop: Notably averted; "Blakes' 7" or "The Seven" is never uttered once in the course of the series. It isn't even used much among fans, who tend to refer to the cast as "the crew of the Liberator" or "the crew of the Scorpio".
  • Took a Level in Badass: Fourth-season Avon, debatably; he spends decreasing amounts of time fixing the computer and increasing amounts of time shooting people and smiling coldly in a studded leather jacket, but he's about as effectual as usual.
  • To the Batpole!: The Scorpio launch sequence in Season D. The spacecraft is lifted out of the Elaborate Underground Base on a giant elevator, launches from a letterbox-shaped entrance set in a cliff, flies through a narrow canyon and up into outer space. Reverse for landing.
  • Tragedy: The whole four-season mega-arc could be read as Avon's, with his great flaw being the inability to trust.
  • Tragic Mistake: Followed by a record-setting abrupt downfall.
  • Tragic Robot: Many fans find the death scenes of the two starship computers, Zen in "Terminus" (slowly dying from an alien fungal infestation, he constantly apologises for having "failed" the human characters), and Slave in "Blake" (shutting down after Scorpio crashes, he for the first time addresses another character by name instead of as "Master"), among the most emotional in the show.
  • Trash the Set: The Liberator at the end of season 3, the Xenon base in the penultimate episode, and the Scorpio in the finale.
  • True Companions: One example among many. After Avon saves Blake from an explosion:
    Blake: Thank you...why?
    Avon: Automatic reaction. I'm as surprised as you are.
    Blake: I'm not surprised.
    Avon: [uneasy look]
  • Tyop on the Cover: The official Blake's 7 logo has no apostrophe, rendering it simply "Blakes 7" (something for which it has been gently mocked more than once).
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll
  • Unperson: This happens to Servalan at the end of Season C when she is overthrown by the Federation High Council while hunting the Liberator to replace the Federation fleet. They install a new government dominated by the secret police instead of the military, and officially erase her from existence and pretend her period as president did not occur. She hides under an assumed name as Commissioner Sleer and manages to become a high ranking secret police commander and oversees a program of retaking Federation colonies that declared independence after the alien invasion using mind control drugs. People recognize her and she murders them as needed to hide her true identity.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Avon and Cally. One kiss when she's under alien possession doesn't really count.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: Whatever happened to Earth.
  • Used Future: The low budget alternative to Raygun Gothic, used creatively to hide the holes in the budget. The look of most Federation ships and facilities (played by industrial locations) contributed to this. For instance, the London (the prison ship taking Blake and the others to Cygnus Alpha) is a chunky freighter whose maintenance has been neglected, so the Liberator is quite impressive in contrast.
  • Variant Chess: Usually allied with Smart People Play Chess. In "Gambit" there's a Deadly Game version of speed chess where the loser is electrocuted. The crew are also fond of an intergalactic version of Monopoly (apparently called Cosmos).
  • Vast Bureaucracy: The Federation seems to be this, judging by the various detached bureaucrats attending meetings about "the Blake situation".
  • Vice City: Space City in "Shadow", and Freedom City in "Gambit".
  • Villain Cred: Beyban is disgusted that Blake edged him out of the #1 spot on the Federation's "Most Wanted" list by resorting to quick n' easy politics, unlike Beyban's earning that honour over the course of a long and brutal career.
  • Villainous Valour: Just as the Anti Heroes have negative traits, ordinary Federation soldiers and workers are shown on occasion to have heroic traits such as dedication, bravery and self-sacrifice.
  • Vinyl Shatters: In "Bounty" there's a Fan of the Past who spends a lot of time listening to a song on an antique 20th century gramophone. (The writers have admitted that this was a ruse to fill in time because the script was too short.) Near the end of the episode, Blake snatches the disc off the turntable and smashes it.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Andromedan invaders at the end of Season B assumed human form through a difficult process and struggled to maintain it; they reverted to their amorphous, green form upon death.
  • Wagon Train to the Stars: Especially in Season C.
  • Walking Disaster Area: The Seven tend to leave the places they visit littered with more dead bodies than when they arrived...
  • Was It All a Lie?: Avon and Anna Grant in "Rumours of Death". Anna even says "It wasn't all lies."
  • We Can Rule Together:
  • Weapon Running Time: Plasma bolts have running times, allowing the force wall on the Liberator to be activated.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist - Blake was descending into this by the climax of the Star One story arc. Destroying the Master Computer for the whole Federation would severely weaken the Federation's hold over its territory, but at the cost of a massive humanitarian crisis and a complete breakdown of law and order.
  • Wham Episode - "Star One", "Terminal", and "Blake" are the big three. "Pressure Point" deserves a mention, having the first death of a main character.
  • What a Piece of Junk: Scorpio, after obtaining a "Photonic Drive," goes from "obsolete freighter" to "fastest ship in the galaxy."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Notably, the fate of the clone of Blake from "Weapon" is never revealed. Some people believe that's why Servalan seemed so certain Blake was dead - she may have encountered the clone again. Blake in the finale notably can't be the clone, because he was with Jenna.
    • For that matter, what happened to Orac? Given that the computer was the only main character who wasn't there in the final massacre.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Mutoids are regarded as barely human and therefore expendable even by those Federation officers who care for their men's lives.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Being the cynical Anti-Hero that he is, Avon finds himself in this situation several times. In "Horizon" the others have teleported down to a planet and been captured, leaving Avon in sole charge of both the Liberator and Orac with an incoming Federation flotilla providing the perfect excuse to flee. He does a Big Damn Heroes instead. In "Countdown", Avon risks his life to defuse a Doomsday Device ticking down the last seconds instead of teleporting out of there. Then brutally deconstructed in "Orbit" when Avon tries to have Vila Thrown Out the Airlock in a Cold Equation situation.
  • White Void Room: Cally is trapped in a mental version by an Eldritch Abomination in "Shadow". In "Pressure Point", Blake rushes into Central Control only to find a bare white room, as the master computer has been moved elsewhere.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: At the end of "Rumours of Death", Servalan has Avon dead to rights, but she tells him to signal for a teleport before she kills him, so she can send his crew a corpse. Naturally, she's distracted at the critical moment and Avon survives.
  • With Lyrics: Briefly considered for Season D, to be sung by the actor who played Tarrant, but discarded. You can see why.
  • World of Snark: The series is set in a Crapsack World where snark is universal, having such uses as: distraction (anyone in need of a getaway; Vila); defence (anyone being held prisoner, tortured, shot at, etc; anyone dealing with Avon), coercion (Snark-to-Snark Combat; Blake); everything (Avon). The more idealistic characters (Gan, Cally, Dayna, Blake) entered the series with a relatively low level of snark. Their snarkiness grew on a par with their cynicism, especially with Blake. Avon was The Snark Knight, and every character becomes more snarky proportionally to how often they interact with him. Except Dayna, who can out-snark him from her first episode.
  • Would Hit a Girl
    • Avon has a tendency to aggressively manhandle women who try to deceive or manipulate him. This leads to a lot of Belligerent Sexual Tension with the various Femme Fatales he encounters. In one episode Avon is having a life-and-death struggle with a female Villain of the Week, including her hitting him in the groin. When he finally subdues her, he says to the other men present, "You better get her out of here, I really rather enjoyed that."
    • Also Soolin: "There are only two ways to deal with a hysterical woman. You didn't expect me to KISS her, did you?"
  • Writer on Board: The three episodes written by Ben Steed ("The Harvest of Kairos", "Moloch" and "Power") all feature a Men Versus Women conflict and are, especially when contrasted with the invokedrest of the series, unbelievably misogynistic.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Belkov in "Games"
  • You Fool!: A favourite insult of Avon's, often not unfairly. Also Servalan whenever an Evil Plan goes pear-shaped.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: Blake, Jenna, and Vila in "The Way Back". Avon and Gan then meet them on a prisoner-transportation ship in "Space Fall".
  • You Have Failed Me: Not uncommon in the Federation, but appears to be standard operating procedure for Servalan specifically (Travis is the major exception, and even then he eventually has to go on the run). Carnell in "Weapon" is smart enough to anticipate Servalan's reaction and does a runner beforehand.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: In "Pressure Point", Blake finally breaks into Central Control only to find an empty room, left there as Schmuck Bait when the Master Computer was evacuated to Star One decades ago. The search for Star One is the story arc for the rest of the season.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Federation claims that Blake is a terrorist. Some people believe it - most notably Professor Kayn from the supposedly neutral Space Station XK72.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Servalan has a fondness for Moving the Goalposts.
    • In "The Harvest of Kairos", Servalan captures the Liberator and threatens to execute our heroes one-by-one until they order Zen to transfer command authority to her. Tarrant points out Servalan will likely kill them anyway, and refuses. Avon however concedes, but quickly adds a provision to Zen that Servalan must first leave them unharmed on a planet with Earth-like conditions. Unfortunately the nearest planet of that description is a Death World, and Servalan later tries to destroy them with Orbital Bombardment just to be sure.
    • In "Terminal", Servalan uses a Hostage for MacGuffin ploy, throwing in her own spaceship in exchange for the Liberator as a way off the planet. Unfortunately her hostage is actually an illusion created with a Lotus-Eater Machine, and her spaceship crashlanded on arrival so they might not be able to repair it. And did she mention that the planet's fauna is extremely hostile and all the technology she left behind is booby-trapped?
  • You Shall Not Pass!: The finale of Season B. A gigantic alien war-fleet begins to move in single file through a gap in the anti-matter minefield protecting the galaxy — so the crew of the Liberator move their own starship into the path of the fleet and take them on in a head-on battle, trying to buy time for the Federation's warships to arrive and counter the attack.
  • Zeerust:
    • The computers are solid-state, and Avon hacks them by rewiring their circuits instead of reprogramming their software.
    • There's no networking either. In "Killer", a doctor can't access a computer to analyse the plague results because it's outside the quarantined area. The entire Federation is run by a single Master Computer instead of a less-vulnerable distributed network.
    • The notion that in the future a human could defeat "the best chess computer available", let alone six times in a row, has now become ludicrous. The last year any human was able to beat the best chess-playing computer in the world was 2005. In "Weapon" Carnell might have saved himself the small fortune he spent. Or maybe he is into antiques? The thing he uses looks exactly like the 1977 Chess Challenger 3.

Alternative Title(s): Blakes 7