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Series / Space Force (2020)

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"It was a very successful mission ordered by POTUS himself which proved assault rifles will work in the vacuum of space."
General Naird

Space Force is a workplace comedy series from Greg Daniels (The Office (US)) that centers on a group of people tasked with establishing the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Space Force. Mark Naird (Steve Carell) is the eccentric general in charge of the effort and the series follows his collaboration to get "boots on the moon" per the orders of the President, frequently clashing with the scientific curiosity and pacifism of his head scientist Adrian Mallory (John Malkovich). Along for the ride are snarky scientist Chan Kaifang (Jimmy O. Yang), social media director Tony "Fuck Tony" Scarapiducci (Ben Schwartz), pilot Angela Ali (Tawny Newsome) and Mark's daughter, Erin (Diana Silvers).

It premiered on Netflix on May 29, 2020. In November 2020, it was renewed for a second season which premiered on February 18, 2022; and turned out to be the last one, as Netflix canceled the series in April 2022.


Not to be confused with Space Force (2018) by Jeremy Robinson.

This series provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: The first indication of how competent Naird can actually be is his expertise with helicopters.
  • Affectionate Nickname: "Bug" for Naird's daughter Erin. Arguably a sign that he still views her as a cuter, younger child and isn't recognizing or supporting her development as a teenager.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: One might assume by how absurd the concept of a Space Force is treated that it is an entirely fictitious concept made up for the show, but President Trump really did establish an official United States Space Force in 2019.
  • Always Someone Better: The Chinese military space program to Space Force. The first two episodes revolve around the Chinese having a better Kill Sat than Space Force and they are the first ones to put boots on the Moon.
  • Arc Words: "Boots on the Moon", which was the President's tweet and is stated several times in the first episode by Naird to motive the Space Force.
    • Actually he said "Boobs on the moon" but we assume that was a typo.
  • Asian Rudeness: Naird and Mallory very diplomatically try to appeal to the Chinese astronauts about claiming the entire Sea of Tranquility. The main Chinese scientist curtly responds with little more than "Stay away, thank you," and hangs up.
  • Artistic License – Law: When Naird asks his Chinese counterpart about his children, he reminds him he only has one child with "you know our policy". In real life the One Child Policy was reverted to a two child policy in 2015, although given the general's age, this may not have changed his plans.
    • High level CCP cadres are expected to still adhere to single births even if the rest of the populace is allowed to have additional children, as they are expected to be the vanguard of the nation's family planning policies. Whether the showrunners understand Chinese politics to this level of detail is anyone's guess.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • It is mentioned that Naird was previously the Number Two of the United States Air Force during his promotion ceremony. However, the position being referred to is the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, by statute held by a four-star general. As a three-star lieutenant general at the time, Naird would never be able to hold this position unless it was only in an acting capacity.
    • Naird's personal secretary is a Brigadier General and the second-in-command of Space Force. A real service chief would have a high-ranking officer commanding their large headquarters staff, while their personal staff would include a military assistant/liaison officer and a personal assistant/receptionist.
    • The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the show only seem to include the chiefs of the four well-known service branches (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force), the new Space Force chief, and the Coast Guard commandant. It seems to be missing the Chief of the National Guard Bureau (elevated to the Joint Chiefs in 2012 in real life), as well as the Chairman and Vice Chairman, which are separate positions from the individual service branch Chiefs. Also, the Coast Guard commandant is considered a "non-member attendee" by invitation only, which makes his presence conspicuous in the absence of the other members, but is perhaps reflected by the great disdain they show for him.
    • No Space Force craft would carry the callsign "Space Force One". Such a designation would be reserved exclusively for any Space Force aircraft carrying the President, as is the case with other service branches, e.g. "Air Force One" and "Marine One".
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Given the risk to the population should a rocket break up or go off course during launch, it is extremely unlikely that the middle of Colorado would be selected as the location for launching experimental spacecraft; there's a reason all US launchpads are near the ocean.
    • Lampshaded in episode one by Dr. Mallory mentioning the possibility of Epsilon 6 breaking up over Denver.
  • Ass Shove: During the meeting with the Chinese delegates, one of them insults an Apollo astronaut by claiming the moon landings were faked and claims him to be an actor instead of an astronaut. Said astronaut threatens him with this.
    Gus Kelly: I put my boots on the moon... and I'll put my boot up your ass if you don't shut up!
  • Bad Liar: Naird, oh, Naird.
    Naird: I don't want to carpool.
    Chan: Why not?
    Naird: I... find... your presence. Grating.
  • Bait-and-Switch: During Naird's trial, we see his defenders giving disastrous testimonies; Dr. Mallory calls the jury Neanderthals and then immediately tries to justify it, Brad starts telling the story of how he lost one of his testicles due to mishearing the Secretery of Defense and then lies about having locked Grabaston in the bathroom before being shown evidence to the contrary, Tony, in lieu of an actual testimony, pushes what is essentially Naird propaganda on the jury complete with pictures of Naird's head photoshopped onto the bodies of shirtless muscular models, and Erin confesses to having dated a Russian spy and says her dad may have dreamed of killing Kick. Once Naird is cleared of all charges and gets to keep his job, he asks Mallory how he went unpunished despite the damning testimonies. Cue a montage of the previously un-shown glowing, sincere praise they gave of his actions and character in addition to the above shenanigans.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The final episode of season 2 has the entire base and their satellites hacked by the Russians. One of the satellites, Blue Oyster Cult, is rigged by the Russians to crash in their home country. Since they can hear what Naird's group is saying, they all pretend to act like they think China actually hacked it, act like scientists and to fool the Russians into thinking that the satellite is carrying enough plutonium to kill ten of millions of people and that there's nothing they can do to stop it since they have no control over it due to the hacking. The power comes back almost immediately.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Pretty much everyone involved with trying to rein in Naird's ego or the other branches of the military.
    • Often Naird himself when dealing with his superiors.
  • Beta Couple: Chan and Ali seem set to become this, in contrast to Mark and his wife's marital strife.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Brad is usually cheerful and harmless, but when Naird asks what's worse than a Toilet Paper Prank but not as bad as a home invasion/murder, Brad suggests a home invasion where they only think they're going to be murdered, so they have to deal with the trauma forever.
    Naird: Jesus, Brad, no wonder my dogs are scared of you.
  • Blackface: When Fuck Tony asks the astronauts if they have any skeletons in their closets, one woman says that she dressed as "a photo negative" one year for Halloween. Fuck Tony replies, "So... blackface."
  • Blood Knight: Kick Grabaston gives off these vibes.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: Space Force is hacked and their satellites are sent into a collision course over Russia. Naird suggests that the hackers might be Russian terrorists who are listening in on them via the computers, and stages a fake conversation about how they suspect the Chinese are the hackers and that the satellite has a secret nuclear cargo that could end all life on Russia if it were to crash, which successfully gets the hackers give back control.
  • Book Ends: Harry Nilson's "Spaceman" plays over the pilot episode's opening credits as we see Mark Naird proudly driving to Space Force's secret (well, "secret") headquarters, and it plays in the last scene of the first season as Mark flies away with his family after both he and his wife Maggie escaped their respective confinements to go look for their daughter Erin, with the chances that they are now fugitives from the law dangling over their heads.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Erin can come across as this on several occasions.
    Mark: Ditching first period just to see me off?
    Erin: No, I got suspended. Gave a teacher the finger.
  • Brick Joke: Two bricks! In the pilot, Naird gives a dirty look to the convenience store clerk who makes comments about a launch he shouldn't know about. Cut to a pleasant musical sequence as he drives into the secret base. Upon arrival he tells the guards to hold the clerk, who is in the trunk, until after the launch. Much later in the season finale, Erin is hanging around outside the store, and behind her on the window is a missing person sign with the clerk's face.
    • Before the Chinese delegates arrive, Naird is given multiple lessons in Chinese etiquette as to not come off as "cowboy" to them. When General Gao and his family get off their plane, all three of them are wearing cowboy hats.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Coast Guard. None of the other armed forces commanders have any respect for the Coast Guard, and the show never misses an opportunity to make a joke at their expense. Even the casting gives them less attention, as the other chiefs of service branches are all played by higher-profile actors.
  • Call-Back: Season 2 ends with all Space Force personnel singing Kokomo by The Beach Boys to deal with a stressful situation, the song that played over the end credits on the pilot episode after Naird used it for the same purpose.
  • Captain Obvious: When Mallory points out Naird's "code" for getting laid may have been broken after some particularly unsubtle comments from another scientist and a roomful of people staring at him, winking, and giving thumbs up, Naird just replies "no shit".
  • The Cameo: Terry Crews appears in Season 2's 6th episode as Kick Grabaston's replacement while Naird is doing a video conference with the other heads of US military.
    • Patton Oswalt appears in two episodes of season 2 as the astronaut assigned to land on Mars, though his later appearance gives him more screen time.
  • The Cavalry: Just as methheads on motorbikes are about to catch up to Erin, her father lands a helicopter right in between them.
  • Character Tics: Naird has a tendency to sing to himself when he's stressed. The entire cast does this in the season 2 finale at the discovery of a life-ending asteroid heading for Earth.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Yuri/Bobby vanishes completely about midway through the first season.
    • Mark’s parents disappear from the show after about Episode 4. Real Life Writes the Plot in this case however, due to Fred Willard's passing, although Naird does refer to his parents once in season 2.
    • POTUS, who's whims and tweets heavily influence the plot all through the first season, is not mentioned at all in season 2, although it's eventually revealed that this is because there is a New POTUS.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: A stressful call with his sister where she was incredibly rude results in Tony smoking a joint to calm himself down.
  • Claustrophobia: Angela developed this as a result of being stuck inside a small capsule with all of the Chinese astronauts. When she and Dr. Chan take an elevator ride together, the hackers deactivate it, leaving the two of them trapped. Angela immediately starts freaking out and has to be talked down.
  • Cliffhanger: At the end of season one, Space Force has been forcibly taken over by Gen. Grabaston, both the American and Chinese moon habitats have been demolished, leaving the astronauts stranded, and Mark and his wife have both escaped from the authorities after getting their daughter out of a dangerous situation.
    • Season 2 ends with Space Force becoming part of the American Strategic Defense Plan and getting exclusive access to a Hawaiian telescope. The first thing they see upon turning it on is a really big asteroid heading directly towards Earth.
  • Conflicting Loyalty:
    • Naird's genuine dedication to the United States versus his reservations about Space Force and his (often silly or outright dangerous) orders.
    • Mallory and his subordinates' genuine dedication to exploring space versus their disgust with the pointless and destructive space warfare that the government has assigned them to research.
  • Court-martialed: Naird after he returns to Space Force between seasons 1 and 2.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mallory expresses sympathy for Naird's cancelled dentist appointment, and Naird replies "I'll floss later". The dentist appointment was code for the conjugal visit Naird was supposed to have with his wife.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Erin with Yuri, a.k.a. Bobby.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone takes their turn, but especially the scientists, Chan and Mallory.
  • Depending on the Writer: Ali. She swings like a pendulum between what her backstory strongly implies and what her current situation demands for comedy. She's got a degree in mathematics, but inexplicably isn't capable of understanding the fundamentals behind botany so she needs Chan. She's a US military officer, but (also inexplicably) can't hit anything with a BB gun unlike the Staff Sergeant.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The main arc of the season finale: The Chinese astronauts drove over the Apollo 11 flag in retaliation for the Americans landing in the Sea of Tranquility, so the Secretary of Defense orders Space Force to destroy the Chinese moonbase entirely. Accidentally ends up being less so disproportionate when the Chinese end up doing the same to the American base.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Prisoner and guard; overlaps with the double standard for statutory rape in which the victim is willing but on the wrong side of a power dynamic depriving them of their capacity to truly consent; in this case, see the Prison Rape example below. The show does treat this mostly seriously rather than Played for Laughs, but still without acknowledging the full legal or moral implications.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: When all seems lost after a disastrous phone call with the Chinese, Dr. Mallory sits at his desk drinking whiskey and rambling insults he wishes he had said to their main scientist.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Dr Mallory is perpetually frustrated by how little Naird or indeed most of the military chain of command heeds his common sense or scientific advice.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: In a variation that's more embarrassing for the person Naird is explaining himself to, he tells Chan he doesn't want to carpool to Denver with him because he finds him "grating". The truth is that he's actually going to a conjugal visit with his wife, not Denver.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Chan and Ali, even moreso when they're put in a scene together. They dance to kpop, argue about holding hands and discuss Fullmetal Alchemist.
    Ali: You have kidnapped a woman so you can yell at her about cartoons. How dare you?
  • Enhance Button: Double subverted. General Naird shouts "Enhance!" when looking at a low-quality zoomed-in image of the Indian rocket. He's met with laughter from the science team and Dr. Mallory explains that it doesn't work that way and it's impossible to create information from nothing. Chan then offers to "increase the contrast" instead, which inexplicably bumps the image to perfect clarity anyway.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first scene we see Naird in has him 1) accept a promotion to four-star general, during which he mentions having worked long and hard to get there and gotten shot down "both figuratively and literally" along the way; 2) gloat to his previous superior about taking his place, while berating him for being, among other things, a womaniser; 3) find out that he's not in fact taking the superior's place but will be heading a new military branch that everyone treats as a joke. He's tough, stubborn and old-fashionedly principled, but also unlucky and prone to jumping the gun. The episode ends with him successfully launching a satellite despite every scientist warning it could fail. When Mallory asks how he could have possibly be sure it was going to turn out okay, Naird shows great observational and personality assessment skills by pointing out one of the scientists brought an umbrella on a clear day; odds were good they were never going to find it safe enough to launch if they were that overly cautious.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While the senior commanders of the armed forces all have General Ripper tendencies they are all horrified at Grabaston's suggestion to launch a direct attack against the Chinese lunar base, fearing it could lead to a full-scale war, suggesting less dramatic pranks instead. Unfortunately, SecDef supports the direct attack. Perhaps unsurprisingly, by the end of the next episode (3 months later), both the SecDef and Grabston no longer hold their positions.
  • Extended Disarming: Parodied in a case that would be minor if it wasn't regarding cell phones - F. Tony hands over his phone to adhere to an NDA, then his nemesis demands the extra one from his ankle holster, which he pretends not to know about at first but begrudgingly gives up.
  • Fake Static: When Naird gets a call about ordering an unprovoked attack, he warns that his phone is about to run out charge, then immediately hangs up and tells everyone not to answer the phones for 2 hours.
  • A Father to His Men: Naird shows glimmers of this, particularly when he sends Ali a gift to apologize for snapping at her during work hours, and truly grows into his role over season one.
  • Flipping the Bird: General Grabaston does this to Duncan when he challenges the general to present a Space Force ID to enter the a way that resembles a rocket launch.
  • Foil: Naird and Mallory. They are both men of principle who have a tendency to be stubborn and childish at times, but Naird is a stiff-necked soldier and Mallory a sensitive pacifist.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Everyone hates Fuck Tony but they tolerate him for the most part - when Naird isn't throwing him into a cell to ensure he can't Tweet unfavorable things about Space Force.
    • He's mellowed considerably in the 2nd season while retaining the PR and social media savvy. Even the nickname Fuck Tony is completely gone.
  • Fun with Acronyms: BWAM - Black Women, Asian Men.
  • Funny Background Event: A very dark example which is quite obvious but still not the main focus of the scene - when Mark is on the phone with his father, his parents' home nurse is giving CPR to his mother in the bed behind him.
  • General Ripper: All generals in charge of the armed forces other than Mark Naird and the one in charge of the Coast Guard act like this, with Grabaston being the most prominent because he's in charge of the Air Force and wants to absorb Space Force into his group, and acts like an old-school Jerk Jock at all times. Subverted for all but Grabaston when an unjustified attack is being ordered; they protest quite reasonably (albeit without going so far as to disobey orders).
  • The Ghost:
    • The President, usually referred to solely as POTUS (but almost certainly Donald Trump) is frequently implied to approve projects that make little sense and do so via Twitter.
      • Season 2's first episode mentions that there is a new administration, implying that Joe Biden (or an Expy thereof) is now president.
    • Naird pretty casually mentions "my dogs" in the first season finale. They are never shown or referred to at any other time, despite it being a bit late for Early-Installment Weirdness.
  • Girls Behind Bars: Most of the stereotypical elements of this trope are averted with Maggie's incarceration, although her overall vibe doesn't indicate too much distress from the prison environment itself, just that she feels very isolated from her family. Erin at one point talks with other prisoners through the fence in the yard, and they mess with her preconceptions a bit but don't deny being criminals or the unpleasantness of their circumstances. We don't know Maggie's crime so the prison may be low-security. The most sensationalized part of it is Maggie's relationship with a guard - which is Prison Rape by law - who is so devoted to her she helps Maggie escape, but even that doesn't engage with Girl on Girl Is Hot or related tropes.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Performed by India against Space Force. Or was it? We never get a solid answer, although the Mole Hunt is ultimately called off.
  • Hate Sink: General Kick Grabaston, whose smug, bullying persona seems calculated to be as unnecessarily unpleasant as possible.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: The President is only ever referred to by his title or POTUS, but is implied to be Donald Trump. Likewise the First Lady is only FLOTUS.
  • Honor Before Reason: Erin mentions that Naird is so Lawful that he was the star witness for the prosecution in his wife's trial, despite the fact that as her husband, he could have legally refused. ("Spousal privilege" or "marital privilege" is the legal doctrine that says married people cannot be forced to testify against each other.)
    • For the same reason, he returns her to jail after her escape at the end of season 1. She, obviously knowing his character at this point, is understanding, though not happy, about it.
  • Hostile Hitchhiker: Erin's sub-plot in the last episode of the first season involves her trying to run away from home and getting caught in the "hostile to hitchhikers" variant with some very shady (and never-talking) stoners who take her to a shack deep in the desert and chase her when she tries to run off.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After being the subject of several pranks, Naird chastises Malloy, Tony, Chan, Ali, and Erin for wasting their time screwing around with pranks, pointing out it's an easy way to lose theirs jobs and for Space Force to be absorbed into another agency before storming off back to his office. He later disappears from his office and is found assisting a man in a Hazmat suit resuscitating an alien and they start freaking out. They freak out even more when the alien begins strangling Naird, only for him, the alien, and Erin to start laughing. The alien pulls it's head off, revealing it to actually be Brad in a costume.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: The convenience store clerk does not take this phrase seriously. General Naird does (although luckily not literally). That's how the clerk ends up in Naird's trunk after asking him about the secret launch and then joking that the phrase applies.
  • Ignored Expert: Hardly anyone in the Space Force's chain of command pays any attention to Dr. Mallory's scientific advice, much to his frustration.
  • Indecisive Parody: The initial portrayal of Space Force, both in advertising and the first episode is as a joke and giant, useless taxpayer boondoggle, with its members save Dr. Mallory all in over their heads. However, the branch is frequently shown to succeed in its missions, despite receiving little respect, support, or recognition, and the overall goal of space exploration and scientific advancement is never mocked.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Grabaston sneers, "Nice suit" at Dr. Mallory's fashion, Mallory smoothly replies, "It's not a suit. It's an ensemble."
  • Invisible President: The United States President is never seen or named, but given the actual timeline behind the creation of the real Space Force, and the fact that his top staff await his instructions via Twitter, it's not hard to guess which POTUS is intended.
  • Jerkass to One: Naird’s assistant Brad, for all his faults, is a pretty Nice Guy! That is except when it comes to Fuck Tony.
  • Jump Scare: Dr. Malloy pulls a prank on Dr. Chan by getting him to looking at a strangely-behaving strain of bacteria that suddenly appears to mutate and attack the microscope while roaring, startling Dr. Chan.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • The Armed Forces branches are shown to not get along very well, and there is a large amount of friction in particular between Space Force and Air Force, as Grabaston was Naird's biggest rival even before the formation of Space Force, and he doesn't even believe Space Force should be a thing and should just be part of the Air Force's operations.
      Grabaston: This is bullshit, space is part of the air!
    • While not the major antagonists Air Force was, Space Force is shown to have friction with their fellow space organization NASA
      Mallory: Ah, of course, NASA; Nerds of Average Science Ability.
  • Just Following Orders: Naird considers it, but ultimately defies carrying out an unprovoked attack on this logic, saying that it is not treason to disobey an unlawful order.
  • Kinda Busy Here: Erin calls her father, who tells her unfortunately he's been arrested and can't help her. She then calls Duncan, who tells her he's in the exact same situation.
  • Lame Comeback: Naird multiple times struggles for comebacks, occasionally resorting to just repeating the same threat or diss back at his rival.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kick Grabaston's potentially war-causing orders in the final episode of season one results him being summarily... honorably discharged with full benefits... by the Secretery of Defense.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Downplayed since Ali and Chan were only just starting to get close to each other, yet exaggerated because Ali literally leaves the planet. They're clearly maintaining their burgeoning relationship though, as Ali continues to confide in him during the flight to the moon, and Chan shows an especially loving pride for her accomplishment.
  • Longing Look: Chan gives a few to Ali during the launch and landing.
  • Malaproper: "Stop the rocket! Abortion!" Eddie, the last-minute moon colonist recruit, is not well-trained, nor does he seem to have that capacity.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Grabaston calls Naird "Nerd" a few times. As if he needed more evidence of being an old-school Jerk Jock.
  • Meaningful Echo: Ali disobeys Naird and refuses to land her helicopter against regulations while shuttling him around in the pilot episode, so Naird tells her she's on "thin ice, Captain". In the season finale, when he disobeys orders himself and brings her in on the plan, she responds "thin ice, General, thin ice" in agreement.
  • Medals for Everyone: Subverted. Spacechimp Marcus doesn't get a medal because he ate his crewmate.
    Naird: I just said he represented the best of us! Brad! No medal for that asshole!
  • Mildly Military: Most of the senior staff of the base acts way too immature for experienced military officers. The science team is not much better. This is meant to hammer home the fact that Space Force does not have access to the top recruits. Or possibly even the middle recruits.
  • Modern Major General: Naird with Space Force in particular. He's an excellent pilot, but clearly out of his depth with the science required for much the work at hand.
    Naird: Keep in mind that we don't have any protractors in space... are you familiar with the sonic boom?
  • Mood Swing: "The Europa Project" features the staff getting into a prank war that in the end even Naird begins to enjoy. He has a hearty laugh at the latest prank of being served "fake" divorce papers before realizing they are in fact real and the episode ends with him breaking down crying.
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: Discussed. When Mallory calls the leader of the Chinese Moonbase, he insists to Mallory that they were there first. He then invokes this trope when Mallory mentions the Apollo Moon Landing.
    "I haven't heard of that, but I have heard of greenscreen."
    • One of the Chinese generals believes this to the point of "commenting" on a former Apollo astronaut's acting ability. Said astronaut is none too pleased.
  • The Mutiny: Attempted by Naird against the SecDef's orders for an attack against the Chinese base, at least until Kick Grabaston arrives to put things back in motion.
  • My God, You Are Serious!: The four main Joint Chiefs all joke around about how much they'd like to attack China for driving over the Apollo 11 flag, but when they realize the Secretary of Defense is totally serious, all but Grabaston point out what an insanely stupid and immoral idea that would be.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: Mysterious initial with F. Tony Scarapiducci. Who everybody likes to call "Fuck Tony".
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: In "It's Good to be Back on the Moon", after Ali spends the whole episode debating and settling on the episode title as her first words to say upon stepping out onto the lunar surface, to honor America's return after many decades, complete with swelling music and Drum Roll, Ali declares "It's good to be black on the moon. Oh, goddammit."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Anabela Ysidro-Campos is a clear parody of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in name, appearance and mannerisms.
    • Tony "Fuck Tony" Scarapiducci is a combination of former White House Communications Director Tony Scaramucci and social media influencer @fuckjerry.
    • Pitosi is also this for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
    • Mark's own backstory is clearly inspired by the US Air Force fighter pilot Scott O'Grady, who was shot down over Bosnia and spent a week pursued by enemy troops out in the wilderness.
    • Edison Jaymes, the blond wunderkind inventor whose products turn out to be bunk, has a private space exploration corporation, and created a fleet of futuristic-styled cars sporting the name "Edison," is a combination of Elizabeth Holmes and Elon Musk (strongly associated with Tesla, named after the famous rival of Thomas Edison).
      • Incidentally, "Edison" was the name of the blood testing devices Holmes' company, Theranos, tried to create.
    • The characterization of the unnamed and Invisible President implies quite a bit about the real 45th POTUS, from his rather dubious decision-making process to sending official policy updates through Twitter.
    • Astronaut Gus Kelly's name is a mix of astronauts Gus Grissom and Scott Kelly.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • We never find out exactly how Mark's wife ended up in prison, just that it happened sometime after the move to Space Force. Parodied in an episode where Erin explains what happened, entirely off-screen.
      Lancaster: ...And she only got 20 years for that? That's a good lawyer!
    • Details of what exactly happened on the Moon between the Season 1 cliffhanger and the three month timeskip of Season 2. The Chinese and American's had to share a pod until they could be retrieved, but we find out very little about the retrieval or what they did in the meantime. Ali is notably traumatized by the whole experience and thus does not want to talk about it at all.
  • Not Me This Time: When Space Force suspects a spy within its ranks after India allegedly steals the Pegasus design, Russian observer Yuri is quick to point out that if he were the spy, it wouldn’t be to benefit India. He doesn't do himself any favors by pointing out that his Russian superiors are furious at him for not stealing the designs first'. Perhaps that's why he stops appearing shortly after this episode.
  • Oh, Crap!: An off-screen variant; after Naird and his group stage a panic to the Russian hackers listening that the satellite they hacked and were sabatoging by making it crash down in Russia is carrying enough plutonium to blow a hole in the world and kill tens of millions when it crashes. Just a few seconds after stating this, the hackers back off.
    • The season 2 finale ends with Space Force getting sole access to a Hawaiian telescope and immediately discovering a substantially large asteroid that is on a collision course with the Earth!
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: The show isn't too obvious about this in any one episode, but the fact that it rarely has many speaking scientists and engineers other than Mallory and Chan means they do seem to take point on a lot of different areas. At one point Mallory says that human habitation on other planets is his life's work while running a psychological study in a simulated habitat, implying that psychology and sociology, various habitat engineering disciplines, and/or medical studies could all be involved; Chan brags about his degree in "astrobiology". In the pilot Chan speaks to the readiness of a rocket launch, which Mallory is clearly an expert in as well. And in the war games episode, Mallory is in charge of equipment selection including powered exoskeletons, and comes up with a software or control systems hack that Chan executes.
  • Only Sane Man: The position is held most firmly by Ali, but Chan and Mallory also have shades of it.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The normally genteel and pacifistic Dr. Mallory is so upset by the rude and professionally disastrous phone call he had with the head Chinese scientist that he sits alone in his office, drinking whiskey and ranting, "I will fuck you up!" for several uninterrupted minutes.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: "It's good to be black on the moon."
  • Overt Operative: Various American military men discuss the likelihood that Russian observer Yuri is a spy. He's clearly dating Erin to spy on her father and nonchalantly asks her standard password-recovery questions, like, "What was the name of your father's childhood pet?"
  • Papa Wolf: The final episode of the first season has Naird escaping custody after being arrested for mutiny in order to go look for Erin, who tried to run away from home and ended up among a bunch of very shady stoners in the middle of the desert. Combined with Mama Bear when we see that Maggie Naird broke out of prison to go look for Erin.
  • Perspective Reversal: Generally, Dr. Mallory is the pacifist and General Naird's instinct is to drop bombs on things, but after a Chinese counterpart refuses to resolve a disagreement reasonably for the sake of scientific progress and slights Mallory personally, he becomes a vocal proponent of provoking a violent conflict with China, and Naird has to be the restrained one.
  • Precision F-Strike: Upon being informed that his punishment is to be dismissed from the military, Kick's response is "Are you FUCKING kidding me?!". The secretary of defense orders a security guard to escort him from the room but Kick says it won't be nessessary and exits the room himself.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: F. Tony "Fuck Tony" Scarapiducci, the Space Force media manager, is a Manchild version of this. He leaks stuff on Twitter as fast as he can write it.
    • Season 2 has him struggle to physically let go of his phone so one of his fellow testifiers has to take the phone out of his hand and give it to the woman assigned to collect their phones. Withdrawal quickly sets in and he turns to asking people the time and what's trending. He also freaks out to point of Dr. Mallory having to slap him twice.
  • Prison Rape: Maggie casually tells her daughter she's dating a guard at her prison, and clearly considers it consensual and desirable. Legally and morally, however, a guard having a sexual relationship with a prisoner is rape.
  • Put on a Bus: Kick Grabaston is never seen again for the rest of season 2 after being stripped of his command during Naird's trial in the first episode of the season.
  • Race Fetish: Chan mentions his preference for black women, or at least, their supposed compatibility with Asian men, a full episode before Ali asks him to tutor her.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
    • "The Fog of War" portrays the Space Force team as this as they prepare to square off against an Air Force team in a mock battle. Naird is quick to point out that the Space Force's combination of fresh cadets and older astronauts is at a distinct disadvantage against an Air Force team implied to be battle hardened combat veterans.
    • When the lunar landing mission is accelerated, Space Force finds themselves needing to send a group which is woefully under-qualified to go into space, with the logic it will be easier to get the vocational experts they need and let the qualified astronauts lead them along, rather than train astronauts in the necessary vocations. And their failure to actually vet the specialists leads to Space Force allowing a convicted arsonist onto the lunar mission.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: The Chief of Naval Operations, played by Jane Lynch, does not appreciate being treated any differently than the male Joint Chiefs.
    Chief of Naval Operations: Refer to my gender again and I'll fuck you in the ass.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite all their Jerk Jock bluster about the supremacy of their service branches, hard-ons for their high tech weapons, and aggressive nationalistic outrage at the sight of the Apollo 11 flag getting desecrated, all but one of the Joint Chiefs reacts with incredulity and dawning horror at the idea that the higher ups might be serious about an armed attack on the Chinese science base, pointing out that breaking treaties, starting a war, and committing war crimes are things "you should never, ever do". Unfortunately the exception is Air Force chief Gen. Grabaston, Naird's rival, former boss, and the one most well-placed to take over Space Force and carry out the attack.
    • He does take over Space Force briefly, but his actions of attempting the above results in him being dismissed from his position and, essentially, fired by the Secretary of Defense.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Naird threatens a few spacemen with this throughout the first season.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Fiery and straightforward military man Naird versus cool-headed and snarky man of science Mallory.
  • Retool: The second season revamps the structure of the show, much of it justified by the fallout of the events of the first season finale and getting their budget slashed. In general, excess characters were quietly dropped and a bit more focus was placed on the interactions and friendships with the cast, such as Dr. Mallory being established as a mentor figure for Chan. Some ongoing story arcs set up in the first season were abruptly dropped, such as Mark and Maggie's attempts at an open relationship given their circumstances and Mark striking up a new romance, but he is suddenly given divorce papers at the beginning of season two.
  • Rousing Speech: Naird has a propensity for making them. One of the main running gags is them constantly getting derailed by other characters (mainly Dr. Mallory) providing information that makes the "rousing" part Worse with Context.
  • Saying Too Much: Naird is surprisingly perceptive at spotting this even when it's subtle.
    • In the pilot, Dr. Chan reveals his overly conservative attitude when he explains he's carrying an umbrella, despite it being a sunny day, leading Naird to deduce that the not-quite-perfect conditions for the rocket launch would likely be just fine.
    • In the penultimate episode of season 1, Naird latches onto his Chinese counterpart's mention of heavy equipment, leading the team to find the drilling operation they started in secret.
  • Secret Underground Passage: There's a convincing looking fake rock face disguising the passage under the mountain peak to reach Space Force headquarters. Unfortunately its secrecy is somewhat undermined by the road leading right up to it with a keypad entry box just beforehand.
  • Self-Immolation: Mallory threatens to do this on social media if the attack is allowed to happen. It's not 100% convincing.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Dr. Mallory always dresses in tweedy but fashionable suits and ensembles. The military types at the base try to insult his aesthetic as being wimpy, but it rolls right off his back. He notes to Naird that while he dresses as he wishes to express his personality, Naird has worn the same polyester-blend trousers for thirty years so that he can fit in. If anything, it's Mallory's fashion that shows more personal strength. Naird later asks Mallory for fashion advice.
  • Ship Tease: Dr. Chan and Captain Ali. They appear to give each other a subtle Love Declaration in the season 1 finale.
  • Significant Monogram: Anabela Ysidro-Campos' initials are AYC, which can also stand for "Angry Young Congresswoman"; both a description of her character and what she is referred to by more than her actual name.
  • Situational Sexuality: Unclear if it's this or just bisexuality for Maggie.
  • Skewed Priorities: A low-key example when Erin is on the phone with her senile grandfather; as her battery dips to about 1% she has to remind him that his daughter-in-law is in prison.
    Grandpa: Oh honey, you've got to charge your phone!
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Chan and Ali have a very gentle example of this, owing to their shared snarky sense of humour:
    Ali: Do not mansplain anime to me, you rude rude bitch!
    Chan: I can't wait to get rid of you.
    Ali: Really? Is that why we've taken, like, 20 right turns in a row?
  • Something We Forgot: When Mark leaves from his visit with Maggie, we see his daughter watching the helicopter taking off as he clearly forgot that she had joined him for the trip.
  • The Stoner: During the power failure due to the hacking, Brdd catches Tony smoking a joint in the basement (hey, the show does take place in Colorado!) and they share it. Later in the episode, Brad asks Tony for more weed, though calling it jive parsley.
  • Straight Gay: Dr Mallory's sexuality is revealed quite nonchalantly in the fifth episode, albeit in embarrassing circumstances.
  • Surprise Vehicle: Somehow Naird lands a helicopter in pretty much wide open terrain without his daughter or the guys chasing her hearing him until he's nearly touched down. Not really justified by the noises of the motorbikes, since they don't see him either despite a total lack of cover.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Kick Grabaston's orders to attack the Chinese base ends up biting him HARD in the ass; the Secretary of Defence, presiding over Naird's court martial declares his actions having been made with complete disregard for human life and could have caused an international incident. Grabaston is completely stripped of command, although as the SecDef notes, he will be honorably discharged with full pension and benefits.
  • That's an Order!:
    • Played for Laughs during the launch:
      Ali: You are ordered to be quiet.
      Naird: Ordered to be quiet!
    • Played for Drama, albeit phrased for laughs, in the finale:
      Grabaston: General Naird! You were ordered to order an attack, and I am ordering you to obey that order!
  • There Are No Therapists:
    • Justified for Naird. His wife points out that high ranking military personnel don't dare seek professional help for his numerous issues, because if he seems the least bit psychologically unstable he can lose his security clearance.
    • On Mallory's recommendation, Naird does see one very breifly in season 2 after recieving his divorce paperwork. He walks out almost immediately.
      Gen. Naird: There's eight minutes of my life I'm never getting back.
    • Averted for Rule of Funny by the Chief of Naval Operations, who says she talks with her therapist all the time about how frustrating it is not having an excuse to use all the Navy's cool weapons.
    • Ali is clearly suffering from PTSD in Season 2, but the people she reaches out to fail to do anything to help her, with Tony just denying that anything is wrong with her and Chan assuming her distance is just because he's done something wrong and she's not into him anymore.
  • Think of the Children!: Downplayed; General Gao's negotiation consists of him trying to get Naird to agree to give China 70% of the Sea of Tranquality. Naird mentions that their children may be living up there too someday and that they should share the space for the good of the future generations that will live on the moon. This gets Gao to agree to a 50/50 split.
  • The Teetotaler: Downplayed due to the drink being incredibly strong Chinese liqour; after the dinner with the Chinese delegates goes south, Naird and his Chinese counterpart discuss over drinks how much of the Sea of Tranquility each country will get. Both eventually agree to split it 50/50 but by that point, Naird is so wasted he begins hitting on General Gao and has to be physically removed by Erin and Brad. Gao appears to be holding his booze well... until Naird is out of sight and he promptly faceplants into a chair.
  • Toilet Paper Prank: They seriously consider doing this to the Chinese moon base as retaliation for running over the Apollo 11 flag.
    • This done to Brad by sticking a fake spider to toilet paper before he uses the bathroom.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: F. Tony in the second season. While in the first season he had to be locked up just to prevent him from tweeting unfavorable things about Space Force's upcoming rocket launch, in the second he's a much better person: he acts as a genuine friend to Chan, insists Ali is a full-blown hero to anyone that'll listen (and a What You Are in the Dark moment shows that he truly believes this about her rather than merely saying it for PR purposes) and turns down a corporate sponsorship because their ad video made a joke out of Naird and the Space Force team (in contrast, Tony's own video was sincerely touching and respectful.)
  • Trial Balloon Question: Mark asks Erin how she would feel if he started dating, despite still being married to her incarcerated mother. Erin reacts with horror, and naturally that's when Mark's new love interest comes down the stairs after staying over the previous night.
  • Unit Confusion: The space ice cream stand has an "out for a lunch break" sign that says "back in five lightyears".
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Chan and Ali in Season 2. Ali is unwilling to advance their relationship while suffering PTSD, while Chan just assumes she doesn't like him anymore.
  • The Unreveal: Between the prologue of Naird getting the job and showing the facilities fully developed several years later, Naird's wife was put in prison for an undisclosed crime. This crime was apparently big enough that she has a 20-life sentence, but she and Naird are still on good terms and this seems to not have affected his career. The second season has Erin almost explain what happened, but only said that her dad actually testified against her. What she did that could explain all of that is left as a mystery.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • A dentist appointment for a conjugal visit, and "flossing" for A Date with Rosie Palms in one episode.
    • Visiting Denver for another conjugal visit, complete with references to "going downtown".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Naird and Mallory might argue with each other on every single point of Space Force's mission, but they share a deep respect and appreciation for each other.
  • War Is Hell: What Mallory frequently preaches to Naird.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Poor Erin has a major case of this. Thankfully seems to be in remission when her father breaks out of army custody to come help her and her mother breaks out of prison for the same reason.
  • Wild Teen Party: Averted, but not for lack of trying. When Mark is away from home for several days because he's helping with Dr. Mallory's Moon habitat experiment, Erin posts an invitation on social media for everybody at school to party at her home (immediately after reading Mark's note). Nobody ever arrives and Erin has to spend the rest of the week alone and eating the 20 pizzas she purchased for the party.
  • You Are in Command Now: For Chan, after Mallory threatens to self-immolate in protest against the attack on the Chinese base.

Alternative Title(s): Space Force