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Series / SeaQuest DSV

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"The twenty-first century — mankind has colonized the last unexplored region on earth, the ocean. As captain of the seaQuest and its crew, we are its guardians, for beneath the surface lies the future."

SeaQuest DSV was a groundbreaking show set initially in 2018. It first aired on NBC in 1993 with Roy Scheider as Captain Nathan Bridger and Jonathan Brandis as Lucas Wolenczak. The show received significant retools at the beginning of each season, including numerous cast rotations. Scheider left after the second season and was replaced by Michael Ironside as Captain Oliver Hudson. The show was then renamed SeaQuest 2032 as the second season finale set up the characters to be thrust ten years into the future. The third season performed abysmally, and the show was canceled.

SeaQuest was essentially a wet Space Opera, and its stories and characters would be equally at home on the Enterprise or Serenity as under the ocean, save for Darwin, the boat’s dolphin crew mate, of course. As the flagship of the UEO (like the UN, but wet), seaQuest and her crew had dual roles as a military powerhouse and research/exploration vessel. She could dive deeper, move faster, and hit harder than anything else on or under the sea. The design of the boat was revolutionary, not only as a fictional vessel, but as a set and special effect. The interior sets struck a balance between cold functionality and whimsy, the latter provided by the transparent swim tubes (or hydropressure system, to series scholars). These allowed Darwin to enter any part of the boat, from the bridge to the launch bays and back. Darwin was provided with speech by an advanced computer system developed by the boat's Teen Genius.

SeaQuest was one of the first TV series to supplant motion-control cameras and physical models with CGI.

Among the show's ensemble cast, notable is Ted Raimi, brother of famous director Sam Raimi. Ted Raimi is also known as Joxer, from Xena: Warrior Princess.

SeaQuest was produced by Steven Spielberg, David J. Burke, and Rockne S. O'Bannon, who later went on to create Farscape.

Not to be confused with Sealab 2020, which SeaQuest (intentionally or unintentionally) drew a couple broad ideas from.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: In the third season, Bridger's search for his son is left unresolved. The Chaodai and the defecting sub-fighter pilot who replaces Fredericks when she's killed in the ensuing fight are set up in what turned out to be the final episode.
  • Amicable Exes: zig-zagged with Katie Hitchock and Ben Krieg, who married while in the naval academy and divorced before the show opened (which is why they can serve together). In day to day life they snark and swipe at each other quite a bit. However, there's at least half a dozen scenes in season one that show that when things are serious they are still each other's person. There's never any doubt why they divorced, but it's also clearly shown why they married at all. The episode ''seaWest'' is a particularly good example of this, bordering on Ship Tease.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Starring Dr. Robert Ballard (the guy who discovered Titanic and Bismarck, as well as scads of slightly-less-famous shipwrecks) and explaining the real-life oceanographic science behind each episode. Season 2 had the segments done by the cast and featured much less science, instead explaining marine lifeforms.
  • And Starring: "And Stephanie Beacham as Dr. Kristin Westphalen" in the first season, "And Peter De Luise as Dagwood" in the third.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "Dream Weaver", Ford, who has seen sea monsters, encountered two species of extraterrestrials, helped restore the helmet of the Prince of Atlantis to its rightful heir, and whose boat's doctor is a telepath, dismisses a folk singer suddenly channeling a spirit speaking ancient Greek as a rocker publicity stunt.
    O'Neill: I recognize the language.
    Ford: Yeah, and the translation is "Buy my album; send me money."
  • Artificial Human: Introduced in season 2 are the GELFs, or "Genetically Engineered Life Forms", more disparagingly called "daggers". They were created in the early 2000s to be super soldiers, are sterile, and have unusual camouflage-like patterns on their skin. They're kept locked up in a facility by themselves aside from Dagwood, who was not considered a threat on account of being so simple-minded.
  • Atlantis: The main subject of "Lostland".
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
    • A previously thought-to-be-extinct Deinosuchus, a 50-foot crocodilian, was the Whatever in a plot ripped off from The Beast from Twenty Thousand Fathoms.
    • Also in 'Treasures of the Tonga Trench,' where the 50 Foot Whatever was a bioluminescent squid.
  • Axe-Crazy, Blood Knight: Marilyn Stark, in spades. Was willing to start a nuclear war at Livingston Trench, completely in defiance of orders, because she was sick and tired of having the biggest boat in the water and not being able to kick ass with it. Later blew up several farming and mining communities for the sole reason of pissing off the seaQuest crew enough to chase her. Deleted scenes have her fatally shooting a crewman who tries to tell her that this may be a bad idea.
  • Bad Omen Anecdote: The crew are exploring an ancient alien spacecraft. One of them brings up a science fiction story he read as a kid that was about a similar situation, except the ship hadn't really crashed. The characters in the story were trapped when the ship took off again and dissected.
  • Berserk Button: Do not call Dagwood a freak. He will remind in you in no uncertain terms that he is a prototype.
  • Better as Friends: Bridger and Dr. Smith.
  • Big Storm Episode: Season One, Episode Nine: "Bad Water".
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: Krieg finds a pile of glowing rocks at the bottom of a trench that he thinks are rare gems. They turn out to be fecal pellets with surviving bioluminsecent bacteria.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Stark attempts to use this against Bridger in the pilot.
    Stark: I kill for power, you kill for peace. We're two sides of the same coin, each heroes to our own causes. Let's see who gets the parade.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Consider what happens when people start shooting at each other thousands of feet below the sea (hint: Ominous Crack followed by Chunky Salsa Rule). However, all the series ever showed consisted of a few flashes, explosions and clouds of bubbles.
  • The Bridge: Both the original and second subs had very cool-looking bridges, with tubes that allowed Darwin (or a probe, or someone willing to swim through them) to get all the way to it. Understandably, this was an important plot point on various episodes.
  • The Bus Came Back: In the third season, Ben Krieg returns for "In the Company of Ice and Profit", while Bridger leaves in "Brave New World" and returns in "Equilibrium" and "Good Soldiers".
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Shortly after his introduction in "Daggers", Piccolo reveals that he has bio-engineered gills, allowing him to breathe underwater. Brody later states that the sensors around the G.E.L.F. colony can detect anything as dense as scuba gear or a wetsuit, so Piccolo's the natural choice to swim in and disable the alarms.
  • Command Roster: Played straight, as befitting a series on a naval submarine:
  • Communications Officer: Lieutenant JG Tim O'Neill.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title:
    • "The Sincerest Form of Flattery": The episode deals with an AI-controlled attack sub that goes rogue, but which was programmed using Bridger's personality, and using tactics he developed. Imitation, after all...
    • "By Any Other Name" deals with an underwater horticultural colony being overrun by an unknown force, a plant that mutated and became intelligent and aggressive. And immune to lasers. A rose (or crazy B-movie inspired monster plant) by any other name.
    • "And Everything Nice" has Lucas falling for a girl on shore but this turns out to be a subversion as sugar and spice she is not. She's actually part of a terrorist cell using Lucas to gain access to UEO facilities.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The end of "Treasures of the Tonga Trench". Having determined their treasures are actually fecal pellets (i.e. fish poop)note , Bridger comes to deal with Krieg, who started the whole thing, leading to a string of violated regulations. His punishment: confinement to quarters for 24 hours...before he can clean up.
    Krieg: Captain, can't you smell?
    Bridger: Yes, I can. 24 hours, lieutenant.
  • Cool Big Sis: In the first season, LCDR Hitchcock had major overtones of this toward Lucas. Most clearly seen in "The Stinger".
  • Cool Ship: So cool, in fact, that the UEO doesn't build another one until absolutely necessary. When the crew makes it back to Earth after being missing with seaQuest for ten years, Bridger actually asks Hudson why they didn't build a replacement again; during their absence, the world has politically fractured to the point that only the antagonistic powers like Bourne's "Macronesian Alliance" or mega-corporations like Larry Deon's still have the technology to build another one, and even they can't actually afford to do it.
  • Crapsack Future: At the beginning of the third season, seaQuest has been missing for ten years. In its absence, a dictator has taken control of most of the colonies in the Pacific Ocean and is poised to take over the entire Pacific Rim before Lucas' next birthday.
    Cpt. Hudson: [to Lucas] I'd celebrate that birthday as soon as I could if I were you.
  • Dark Secret: Both Bridger and Ford were involved in the UEO's unethical experiments on Daggers.
  • Darker and Edgier: In a Serial Escalation from Season 2, which was Hotter and Sexier and far more action-focused, Season 3 went another step further - the 2032 is set During the War, while the series itself turns into a rather bleak and nihilistic Military Science Fiction.
  • Deus ex Nukina: The season 1 finale, in which the sub's nuclear payload is used to weld shut a massive magma-spewing crack in the ocean floor off Australia.
  • Dictionary Opening: "Daggers" uses this to introduce the new definition of the title word, referring to the engineered humans.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: In "Nothing But The Truth", environmental terrorists take over the ship, and the skeleton crew aboard has to scramble to retake it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • At the end of "Destination Terminal", Captain Hudson realizes that Ford and Henderson were on a date and orders them to finish up before returning to duty.
    Henderson: 'Debrief' me.
    Ford: Yes, and I think it was an order.
  • The Dragon: In the third season, General Stassi to President Bourne, and Mason Freeman to Larry Deon.
  • Dropped-in Speech Clip: The opening shot of the first episode has a portion of John F. Kennedy's remarks at the Dinner for the America's Cup Crews, speaking of why people are continually drawn back to the sea.
  • Dumb Muscle: Dagwood, the ship's janitor from season 2 on, is a prototype genetically modified super soldier... with the mental capacity of a nine-year-old.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Milos Teslov, a political dictator on the run from authorities for 'ethnic cleansing' and has killed what he claims is millions of people, cares deeply for his traumatized son, and would do anything to hear him talk again. By the end, he gets his wish
  • Everyone Can See It: Bridger and Dr. Smith (for a brief moment when they flirted with a May–December Romance); Ford and Henderson (during Season Three).
  • The Exact Center of Everything: An antagonist of the week abducts Darwin the dolphin because he's convinced that the hyperintelligent creature can tell him how to reach the center of the universe. He's apprehended at the end, but allowed to ask the dolphin for the answer to his question. Where does Darwin say the center of the universe is? "In you."
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Seen in the episode "Bad Water" when lightning strikes the communications buoy.
  • Faking Engine Trouble: One episode of 2032 had seaQuest getting caught in Macronesian waters, and Captain Hudson giving the excuse they were having engine trouble, and the Macs offer to "escort" them to port. Hudson accepts and orders his helmsman to take an erratic course with variations in speed until he can find a way to make a break.
  • The Federation: The United Earth Oceans Organization (usually just referred to as UEO).
  • Femme Fatale: Lucas is seduced (for a PG-rated version of 'seduced') by one of these in the episode And everything nice. She's an agent for a terrorist cell assigned to honey trap him into helping the group access UEO computers. Her undercover persona is specifically designed to appeal to Lucas and gain his sympathy, though to his credit, he sees through her act pretty quickly.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: An especially egregious example about the second version of the seaQuest. Among its many weapons are 'intercepts'- weapons that can destroy incoming torpedoes. In the second season opener, the crew used them to defend against an attacking sub - yet in that season's finale, they seemed to forget they had those weapons and let the ship get sunk by an alien super-weapon fired at them.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Darwin the dolphin has the benefit of being extra playful with his speech apparatus.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • The titular seaQuest is designated a Deep Submergence Vehicle.
    • It's equipped with WSKRS ("whiskers") — Wireless Sea Knowledge Retrieval Satellites — to relay telemetry data back to seaQuest.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Lt. Krieg rails against this over a mess-hall meal in "Whale Song". Among other things, eating beef has been outlawed due to the environmental impacts of ranching, and most fruits and vegetables are grown hydroponically from genetically engineered seed (all the better to foil a would-be Military Moonshiner like Krieg himself, according to Lucas - "they engineered the buzz out of [barley], you can't distill it.") Krieg's subsequent machinations to get his hands on half a pound of real pre-ban ground round form most of the B-plot and are heavily Played for Laughs - especially since Bridger confiscates the completed burger... and takes a big bite before throwing the rest away.
    • The eating of beef wasn't outlawed; it was the manufacture, sale and transport that was made illegal. (Hmm... sounds a bit like the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)
      • Also, several staff officers are seen lunching on roast beef, with the tone of the scene suggesting that this is the future equivalent of good scotch and Cuban cigars when it comes to greasing wheels among the wealthy and well-connected.
  • Gas Leak Cover Up: The cover for the first encounter with the aliens in "The Fear that Follows" is a bioreactor spill, which is effective enough to clear the civilians in the area.
  • Gentle Giant: Dagwood.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: Hitchcock poses as one to infiltrate a mining community held hostage in "seaWest."
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Hyper Reality Probe (an unmanned recon vehicle controlled by VR goggles and gloves).
  • Gonna Need More X: Bridger invokes it twice, in a combination of this and Actor Allusion. The first time they need a smaller boat (they're trying to hunt down a tiny vial of neurotoxin before its ice enclosure melts), the second time they need a new boat (after sacrificing the first in the season finale).
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: When Dagwood goes to Cpt. Hudson's office to talk about becoming an official member of the crew, there's a series of proffered handshakes and salutes that awkwardly go unanswered. A similar sequence happens before Dagwood leaves the office.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Season two's premiere shows incredibly lax behavior by the guards of a remote island prison housing super soldiers. Two of the guards routinely play a video game on watch and the second in command is fraternizing with one of the prisoners. There are apparently no check-ins either, because the prisoners are able to progressively capture all of the guards and not one alarm is sounded until the commanding officer realizes no one is answering the radios and the prisoners are coming for him.
  • Halloween Episode: First season "Knight of Shadows". Aired Halloween night 1993.
  • Heroic Dolphin: Darwin the dolphin routinely saves the day and/or is integral part of the plan to do so.
  • Hidden Depths: Hudson never stops being as hardline as he starts off as, but he's perfectly willing to give Lucas a chance when Lucas is willing to join up to stay, and he comes to value Dagwood's presence. Hudson also does a lot for Piccolo, helping him overcome his dyslexia, which leads to Piccolo working to become an officer and sub-fighter pilot.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Kreig and Lucas have a moment in the pilot that may not have been written as a seduction, but which the actors clearly have a little fun with.
  • Hotter and Sexier: One mandate from the network, concerning the lackluster response to the first season, was to up the sex appeal for the second; dump all the "mature" actors, except for Roy Scheider (so he could keep being the team dad), create more excuses for the characters to be out of uniform so that the women could show more skin, move characters like Lucas and Ortiz to the foreground. Thus, Stephanie Beacham, Royce Applegate and John D'Aquino were fired (all due to their age, even though D'Aquino was only 35) to be replaced by Rosalind Allen, Edward Kerr and Michael DeLuise. Stacy Haiduk didn't like the idea of her driven, brainy character being reduced to a sex symbol and quit, replaced by Kathy Evison.
  • Human Popsicle:
    • Convicted war criminal Dr. Rubin Zeller in "Games". Or at least, he was until he offed the prison warden, stuffed him into a freezer, and then pulled a Dead Person Impersonation on the seaQuest crew. He would've gotten away with it, too, if not for the cryonics chamber inconveniently leaking dead warden all over the sea deck.
    • Also occurs in "When we Dead Awaken" with Lt. Brody's mother, and also to a murder victim in the very beginning of the episode. In "Good Soldiers", a dagger corpse is found in this condition as well.
  • Human Subspecies: The Daggers, or Genetically Engineered Life Forms. They were designed as Super Soldiers in the first years of the 21st century, and by the shows' present, they are The Remnant, as making new is outlawed and they are all sterile.
  • I Want My Jet Pack: The series estimate of 2022 (30 years ahead of when the first season was written) technology was... optimistic, to say the least. Remember all those underwater colonies and geothermal plants constructed in the first decade of the 21st century, along with advances in genetics and biotechnology?
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • On both sides: "It's not a Stinger, it's a Gazelle" + "It's not a Gazelle, it's a Stinger".
    • Also, the episode introducing Wendy Smith has her consistently call the seaQuest a ship, while Bridge insists that it's a boat. In this case it's Truth in Television, as Bridger is in line with modern American naval parlance regarding submarines.
    • Also, Dagwood is a prototype, not whatever slur someone just shouted at him.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: The DSL deep-diving suit in "Avalon" played this trope straight; other episodes averted it by putting the cast in regular SCUBA gear.
  • Joke and Receive: In "Daggers", O'Neill has trouble getting the new seaQuest's video communications to work properly, instead accidentally picking up random classic TV broadcasts. Ortiz jokingly asks if he can get Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein... which just happens to be on the next channel they pick up.
  • The Kirk: Captain Bridger, who is both the Reasonable Authority Figure going by the book and capable of using his instincts, gut feeling and experience when the situation calls for it..
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": Piccolo, probably. It's hard to tell if he actually has dyslexia, or it comes from his lowly background.
  • Like a Son to Me: Lucas to Captain Bridger.
    Lucas: Your son died...
    Bridger: But I'll never be sure, and not knowing eats me alive everyday. But you know what's helped? You.
  • Living Ship: The boat has an organic, self-repairing external skin (handy if you've just been torpedoed). At least one episode involves it developing an infection and threatening to lose all structural integrity.
  • Man-Eating Plant: They were genetically engineered under special lighting, able to uproot themselves and turned people to dust by drawing them into the center of 3 branches atop them. Problem was, their weakness was regular sunlight.
  • MegaCorp: Deon International, whose CEO, Larry Deon, is such an egomaniac that his employees have to get tattoos of the company logo.
  • Mega-Maw Maneuver: One episode in the third season saw a giant sub that captured UEO transports by swallowing them with an enormous door on the bow.
  • Military Science Fiction: Season 3 was retooled into this, ditching any pretense of being anything else than a regular military series that involves a lot of futuristic Hot Sub-on-Sub Action. Notably, all civilians so far on board of seaQuest have to either enlist or leave the ship.
  • MockGuffin: "Treasures of the Tonga Trench" Turned out to be fool's gold, though. Or to Krieg's relent, bioluminescent fish poop.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The Deinosuchus in "Meltdown" laid several eggs on the shoreline. Subverted when Dr. Smith explains that she is sterile; the eggs are infertile.
  • Mood Dissonance: The opening of "Sympathy for the Deep" juxtaposes an uplifting recording about "the harmony of all life" against an Empathy Doll Shot.
  • More Dakka: Invoked:
    • By Stark in the pilot, who insists on loading every torpedo tube the Delta-IV has to finish seaQuest off in one glorious barrage. Subverted; it takes so long that seaQuest's juryrigged plan to get around her sabotage has more than enough time to work and sink her.
      • Her action also goes against US Navy (which Stark served in) doctrine, where a submarine commander would never empty all their tubes at once, keeping at least one weapon in reserve. Tom Clancy relates this fact in his book "Submarine".
    • When Westphalen convinces the bridge crew to fire torpedoes into the sea floor, thus creating a hole that will divert a flow of lava and stop it from erupting and killing Commander Ford and several others stranded on an island, she's asked how many to fire. She has no idea how many would be enough and they fire a full barrage; this later turns out to be four torpedoes worth of overkill.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Sea Wedgies, technically.
    • At least in the first season they were real-life Negative Sea Wedgies, including such things as black smokers (undersea vents of superheated, mineral-rich water) and fresh-water sinkholes within an undersea karst formation (fresh water is less dense than salt = sinking submarines). The And Knowing Is Half the Battle segments at each episode's end explained some of these concepts in greater detail.
  • Non-Lethal Warfare: Tries hard but doesn't always work out that way. In the first episode, Bridger orders a torpedo's charge reduced to 20% to avoid destroying the "pirate" submarine that's been trying to kill them all. However, the pirate boat's armor can't even take that, and it's hulled and sunk anyway. Bridger is noticeably not happy about it.
  • Not So Above It All: In "Whale Song", Krieg has been making an illegal hamburger, and at the end he finally finishes it, when the captain comes to talk to him. Just as Bridger's about to leave he smells the burger and confiscates it. Just before he throws it away, however, he pauses, looks around then steals two bites out of it before tossing the rest.
  • Ocean of Adventure: The show takes this as its premise, treating the ocean as a new frontier full of mystery and dangers yet to be discovered.
  • Ocean Punk: The oceans are the new frontier and underwater colonies are besieged by pirates, Eco-Terrorist groups, regular terrorists, nations at war, oceanic examples of the Negative Space Wedgie, sea monsters, science run amok, and plain screw-ups that happen when you are a thousand feet under the sea and probably are too eager to pull something nobody has ever done before to keep track of things. The United Earth Oceans (UEO) built the seaQuest to play sheriff.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the pilot when Stark realizes that her insistence on More Dakka has given seaQuest enough time to work around their sabotaged targeting systems.
    Stark: He tagged us!
  • Ominous Crack: Happens to a gang of terrorists who attempt to hijack the seaQuest in "Nothing But the Truth". The terrorist ringleader asks LCDR Hitchcock, who up to that point has been under orders to cooperate with them, if the pressure at their current depth will crush their escape sub. She says it will. The terrorist, thinking this is the moment where he's supposed to trust her (something he outrighted pointed out she'd do eventually after only telling the truth), takes this as "the lie I was waiting for" and leaves anyway. Cue escape sub going Crunch.
  • Organic Technology: The seaQuest itself has an organic shell.
  • The Other Darrin: in-universe. Nathan Bridger conceived, designed, and personally oversaw the construction of the first seaQuest, and was slated to be her Captain, until his son's death triggered his retirement. Marilyn Stark's ''aggressive'' tendencies were probably exacerbated by the fact that she knew full well she was an example of this trope - if Robby Bridger had survived, she wouldn't have gotten anywhere near the seaQuest's Captain's chair.
  • Parental Abandonment: Lucas' parents didn't have time enough to bother with him, hence they dumped him on seaQuest.
  • Parental Substitute: Captain Bridger to Lucas Wolenczak.
  • Plot Hole: Lt. Brody explicitly dies at the end of "Spindrift" after sacrificing himself for Lonnie. However, later episode "Brainlock" shows him being alive and well. The DVD sets put the latter episode ahead of the former to try and correct this.
  • Population Control: An episode with an island nation that enforces their population via death squad.
  • Precap
  • Psychic Powers:
    • Wendy Smith; also, there seems to be a sizeable population of psychics in the human population, referred to as 'spyers'.
    • Darwin also exhibits some kind of minor psychic or empathic ability in 'Devil's Window' and 'Hide and Seek'.
    • And don't forget the three psychics the UEO sent out in the first season episode aptly named 'Treasures of the Mind', where it's also shown that Bridger has some psychic abilities too.
    • In the episode Siamese Dream it's shown Piccolo possesses psychic powers as well.
  • Put on a Bus: Lots, including practically two-thirds of the season 1 cast.
  • Quickly-Demoted Woman: Played straight and subverted with Stark in the pilot; she was relieved of command of the seaQuest for being Axe-Crazy, but wound-up Captain of the Delta-4 Big Bad sub.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: Tom Piccolo is established as being mostly illiterate as a result of his dyslexia, and throughout 2032 he's taking steps to correct it, getting a pair of reading glasses from Capt. Hudson and learning to read with the help of Lt. Henderson. It enables him to pass his officer's exam.
  • Reduced to Dust: The episode "By Any Other Name" has the crew arrive at an underwater research station where the crew has seemingly vanished, but they find strange piles of dust all over the place. Throughout, people keep disappearing, leaving more piles of dust. The culprit is eventually found to be some genetically engineered plant that suck the water out of people, leaving just dried piles of dust. This is a real process called Desiccation, but for anyone who didn't know beforehand watching, this episode wouldn't have made it seem believable.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Lucas as a replacement for Captain Bridger's missing son. Lucas and Darwin are two of the few things that help convince Bridger to stay on the seaQuest after the pilot, and Dr. Westphalen occasionally lampshades their relationship.
  • Resigned to the Call: Bridger is basically press-ganged into command of the seaQuest by Admiral Noyce, brought aboard as a visitor, shown around and introduced to the crew, informed that Darwin has been integrated into the ship, then led to his quarters where a uniform is waiting for him, despite him making it clear that he will have no part of it. As circumstances conspire to keep him aboard and in a position to give out orders, he finally gives in and officially takes the commission.
  • Reverse the Polarity: In Chains of Command.
  • Running Gag: Lucas falling off of chairs.
  • Sand Worm: A very large, fire-breathing variant that lived in a system of tunnels beneath the sea.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Darwin, of course, as well as the rest of his pod in the second episode.
  • Science Fiction
  • Sensor Suspense: Done a few times, starting in the first episode. "There's nothing that big down there... except... a Title Drop..."
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Chief Shan, the helmsman played by Dustin Nguyen in the last three episodes of the first season, was featured so heavily in his episodes that he started to feel like a regular character in training. Then came Season 2 and he was gone, never to be mentioned again.
  • Smug Snake: Many, but a recurring one was President Bourne of the Macronesian Alliance. Played by Michael York for extra Evil Brit slime.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Darwin. Somewhat subverted, as without the vocoder, he'd have no speech at all. However, he does understand a limited selection of hand signals, including "down" (dive to a certain depth, indicated by sequential signs) and "tag" (locate an object, attach a tracking transponder to it and return).
    • "Tag" turns out to be surprisingly handy in a good many plots. Nobody's going to pay attention to that dolphin swimming up to your boat, until it plants something on you and swims away...
  • Spoiler Opening: The opening credits for the first two seasons show attack submarines that aren't introduced until the third season.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: Captain Hudson shows a map of the aggressive Macronesian influence. He asks Lucas when his birthday is then asks the computer to predict its extent by that date. The map changes to show a much larger area.
  • Stock Footage: Usually what you would expect, especially in light of the expense of CGI effect in those days; for example, the shots of seaQuest crash-diving to escape the Delta-IV in the pilot are often reused to show the boat simply diving. One episode, however, has old footage from Airwolf to give the villain an attack helicopter that strafes Caicos Key. One of the first shots in the series (two military subs rising from below) is lifted from The Hunt for Red October.
  • Sub Story: The last to air on TV until Last Resort twenty years later.
  • Submarine Pirates: In the pilot movie, a heavily modified Delta IV submarine was being operated by pirates, led by former seaQuest captain Marilyn Stark. The pirates were working for an evil corporate syndicate; Stark just wanted to see her old boat drown.
  • Superstitious Sailors: Chief Crocker is the sub's resident old salt, keeper of nautical lore and various superstitions, most notably demonstrated in "Knight of Shadows", when he tasks himself with warding off evil entities.
    Lucas: What's that?
    Crocker: (sprinkling something in a doorway) It's salt, it keeps the devil from the door.
    Lucas: Is that why you spit?
    Crocker: No, sailors spit for good luck.
  • Survivor Guilt: Piccolo in the series finale. He's forced to bail in the fight against the Chodai, leaving Fredericks to be killed by them. He clearly feels bad and offers Captain Hudson to help clean out their deceased comrade's quarters.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: A good many of them.
  • Take That!: In the 3rd season episode Equilibrium, Nathan Bridger finds himself conflicting with the crew of the seaQuest over how to respond to the disaster, leading to conflict with Lucas. Later in the episode, Lucas is giving a minor "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Bridger about how Bridger wasn't willing to consider other options than his own, stating Bridger never conceded to anything. One of the reasons stated was "When you thought that seaQuest stopped being what it should be, you left!" - In fact, Bridger's stated reasons for leaving were to track down his apparently non-deceased son, which his duties as seaQuest's captain would conflict with. Roy Scheider (Bridger's actor) on the other hand, had complained loudly and publicly during the second season about the falling quality of the series and became so disgusted he left the show. In short, Lucas' speech is directed at Scheider, not Bridger.
  • Teen Genius: Lucas Wolenczak
  • That's an Order!: Bridger and MCPO Crocker prove their badass credentials in "Brothers and Sisters" to talk down a grief-crazed teenager who's resisted all of the crew's attempts to reach out to him - reasoning that a hardcore Military Brat might respond better to a more authoritarian approach, Bridger and Crocker break out their Bling of War and order the kid to stand down.
  • That Was the Last Entry: In the Halloween episode Knight of Shadows, the seaQuest crew exploring the sunken liner George find the Captain's Log, with the final entry "I am going to the engine room now." They had earlier discovered the captain's mummified body in the engine room, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
  • Theme Naming: Several underwater colonies have names derived from marine life, like Abalon and Calimar.
  • Time Skip: The third season begins in a Crapsack Future ten years after the end of the second season.
  • Title, Please!: With the singular exception of "Knight of Shadows", the episode titles are not shown on screen in the first two seasons. Averted in season 3, where every episode title is presented before the "guest starring" credits in the first act.
  • Token Religious Teammate: O'Neill, whose devout Catholicism compared to everyone else pops up as a plot point a few times.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Piccolo first willingly participated in a scientific experiment as a test subject to lower his sentence (effectively ending it) and then got allocated to seaQuest as a crewman as his parole.
  • Translator Collar: Darwin has one, a system of underwater microphones and speakers that pick up his clicks and whistles and translate them to Frank Welker speaking in pidgin English via computer. Only works aboard ship, and only in certain locations equipped with the hardware (namely the sea deck and the bridge). In the second season it seems tied specifically to the handsets the crew uses to speak to him, with Bridger bringing one off the boat to talk to Darwin while he sets up a barbeque.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Compared with Nathan Bridger, Captain Oliver Hudson is a military hardass that runs a tight ship. He outright tells Lucas that either he enlist, or there is no place for him on-board. And that's just his first decision. However, despite his heavy-handed approach and personality, he is still a Reasonable Authority Figure and a competent commander.
  • Unable to Cry: Invoked in "Brainlock". Lt. Fredericks is a "chippie", which means she has a mind control chip that prevents her from feeling fear. It also means her thoughts are monitored 24/7 and she hasn't cried in four years.
  • Uncertain Doom: The fate of main castmembers Dr. Wendy Smith and Migel Ortiz never specifically explained or mentioned after their final appearance in Season 2's finale; they simply don't show up with the rest of the scattered crew 10 years later in 2032. When trying to explain the events on the alien world (the resolution of which was never seen on screen), Bridger says "some of us didn't make it; we lost some very good friends", so basically Smith and Ortiz were killed in the fight somehow, but they are never specifically mentioned for the rest of the series.
  • Underwater Base: Lots of those too, as one might expect.
  • Vehicle Title: The seaQuest is where all of the main characters are stationed and 95% of the action takes place.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mycroft the hacker in "Photon Bullet", the radical environmentalists in "Nothing But the Truth", and the anti-whaling people in "Whale Song". And that's just on one DVD!
  • "What Now?" Ending: Season 2 ends with an explosion on the seaQuest's bridge, its hull ruptured, sinking on an alien world, while most of the command staff are trapped in a firefight on an alien spaceship and Bridger, giving Lucas a rushed Final Speech, hits the detonator to destroy said spaceship (which had brought seaQuest to this world in the first place, leaving the question of how the seaQuest could be returned to the earth). The episode ends with only Lucas, Dagwood, and Darwin alive for sure, the former two floating in a raft in an alien sea, miles from land. This whole mess is resolved by... a season premiere where seaQuest is found in a cornfield on Earth 10 years later, and the remaining crewmembers scattered in various locations that were linked to their "last happy memories". How they got back is explained; the aliens they were helping brought them back to Earth. Why it took ten years and why they were dumped off so randomly is not.
  • The Worf Effect: The Chaodai are able to nearly sink the seaQuest with a mere three of their highly advanced sub-fighters, and in the process kill Fredericks.
  • Working with the Ex:
    • LCDR Hitchcock and Lt. Krieg.
      Krieg: What a sweetheart.
      Bridger: (disbelievingly) The Lieutenant Commander is a sweetheart?
      Krieg: Oh, that's old history... see, Katie and I, we used to be... (Beat) Married.
      Bridger: (quizzical look)
      Krieg: Seemed perfect on the surface. We were both top in our Academy class, headed for command, and then we... well, you can see. (long pause) I guess she didn't really leave me, she just... left me behind.
    • "Smoke on the Water" reunites Captain Hudson with the woman he's left at the alter twice.
  • Wrench Wench: Henderson (who also qualifies as a Brainy Brunette).
  • Yellow Peril: The Chaodai, a Southeast Asian maritime nation that uses a Brain/Computer Interface to allow their sub-fighter pilots to outmaneuver pretty much any other pilot.

Alternative Title(s): Sea Quest 2032