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Series / Space Force (2020)
aka: Space Force

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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.


This series provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: The first indication of how competent Naird can actually be is his expertise with helicopters.
  • 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.
  • 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 – 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.
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    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bad Liar: Naird, oh, Naird.
    Naird: I don't want to carpool.
    Chan: Why not?
    Naird: I... find... your presence. Grating.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Pretty much everyone involved with trying to rein in Naird's ego or the other branches of the military.
  • Beta Couple: Chan and Ali seem set to become this, in contrast to Mark and his wife's marital strife.
  • Blackface: When Fuck Tony asks the astronauts if they have any skeletons in their closet, 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.
  • 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, considering he is literally setting up a new branch of the military.
    Erin: I got forty seconds with my father. You really think that number's gonna go up when you start fucking around?
  • 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.
  • Casting Gag: Fuck Tony's actor is playing a Manchild who is an ass to his coworkers.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Conflicting Loyalty:
    • Naird's genuine dedication to the United States versus his reservations with the Space Force and the current administration as a whole.
    • 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: What awaits Naird if he returns to Space Force after the first season finale.
  • 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 undestanding 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.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: When all seems lost after a disastrous phone call with the Chinese, Mr 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In his first mission he pushes to get a satellite launched despite the objections to the entire science team involved. When the launch goes well and Adrian questions how he could have known it was going to work without understanding any of the science, Naird points out one of the scientists brought an umbrella with him when the day was perfectly clear, suggesting to him they are far too cautious for their own good and likely would kept postponing the launch indefinitely.
  • 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, POTUS supports the direct attack.
  • A Father to His Men: Naird shows glimmers of this, particularly when he sends Ali a gift to apologise for snapping at her during work hours, and truly grows into his role over season one.
  • 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 boy 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 unfavourable things about the Space Force Launch.
  • Fun with Acronyms: BWAM: Black Women, Asian Men.
  • General Ripper: All generals in charge of the armed forces other than Mark Naird and the one in charge of the Coast Guard, 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.
  • The Ghost: The President, usually referred to solely as POTUS (but implied to be Donald Trump) is frequently implied to approve projects that make little sense.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Performed by India against Space Force. Or was it?
  • 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 never referred to by name, but is implied to be Donald Trump.
  • 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.
  • 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 giant, useless taxpayer boondoggle, with its members save Dr. Mallory all in over their heads. However, the group is frequently shown to succeed in its missions, and the actual mission 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 that his top staff await his instructions via Twitter, the show is pretty clearly lampooning Trump.
  • 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.
  • Longing Look: Chan gives a few to Ali during the launch and landing.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Grabaston calls Naird "Nerd" a few times. As if he needed more evidence of being an old-school Jerk Jock.
  • 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
  • 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 the work at hand.
    Naird: Keep in mind that we don't have any protractors in space... are you familiar with the sonic boom?
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: Mysterious initial with F. Tony Scarapiducci. Who everybody likes to call "Fuck Tony".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Anabela Ysidro-Campos is a clear parody of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in name, appearance and mannerisms.
    • Tony "Fuck Tony" Scarapiducci name and job (Public Affairs) is Tony Scaramucci.
    • Pitosi is also this for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
    • While likely not based on a specific individual, Fuck Tony's nickname seems to be a Shout-Out to the popular Instagram influencer account @fuckjerry, which has done social media work for political figures in the past.
    • 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. Incidentally, "Edison" was the name of the blood testing devices Holmes' company, Theranos, tried to create.
    • The characterization of the unnamed and Invisible President takes a few shots at Trump, from his rather dubious decision-making process to sending official policy updates through Twitter.
  • Noodle Incident: We never find out exactly how Mark's wife ended up in prison.
  • 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.
  • Only Sane Man: The position is held most firmly by Ali, but Chan and Mallory also have shades of it.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The normally genteel 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 this is the case for Maggie, or if she is actually bi.
  • 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.
  • Straight Gay: Dr Mallory's sexuality is revealed quite non-chalantly in the fifth episode, albeit in embarrassing circumstances.
  • That's an Order!: Played for Laughs during the launch:
    Ali: You are ordered to be quiet.
    Naird: Ordered to be quiet!
  • There Are No Therapists: Justified. Naird doesn't dare seek professional help for his numerous issues, because if he seems the least bit psychologically unstable he can lose his security clearance.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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


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