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Season 1 Promotional Poster (Clockwise from top left: Naomi Nagata, Josephus Miller, Julie Mao, Jim Holden).
"In the 23rd Century, Humans have colonized the Solar System. The UN controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The Inner Planets depend on the resources of the Asteroid Belt. Belters live and work in space. In the Belt, air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising. Earth, Mars and the Belt are now on the brink of war. All it will take is a single spark."
Opening Scroll, Dulcinea

A space opera and mystery series based on the book series of the same name written by James S. A. Corey.

About two hundred years from now, humanity has colonized the Moon, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt. Ships range the spaceways as far out as Saturn, mostly to scavenge for ice rocks near that planet, but closer in, they facilitate trade, commerce and transportation among the inner planets. The current state of affairs is tense, as Earth and Mars compete with each other for dominance in the solar system while the residents of the asteroid belt ("Belters") feel they are being exploited by the "Inners" who buy the resources they mine. Meanwhile, a young woman named Juliette Mao, the daughter of a corporate magnate, has disappeared. What exactly her disappearance may mean to interplanetary affairs will be uncovered as the series progresses.

The show aired for three seasons on Syfy from 2015 to 2018. Amazon Studios has officially picked the series up for additional seasons on Prime Video.

Has its own separate character sheet.

A four issue prequel Comic Book series called The Expanse Origins was released digitally in 2017.


This series provides examples of the following:

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    A-E 
  • Aerith and Bob: There's Jim and Joe, Fred and Naomi... and then there's Praxidike and Sadavir.
  • Absent Aliens: Played with. While no alien races have appeared yet, Dresden determines that the protomolecule is extra-solar in nature, and is ecstatic that it's proof of alien life. Season 3 reveals that it was created by a race of Precursors who used it to build and maintain their Portal Network before something wiped them all out.
  • Ace Pilot:
    • Julie Mao's most treasured possession is her space racing sled, the Razorback, and judging by the videos of her popping champagne in her case file and her ability to reach Eros in just a shuttle, she must be pretty good at it.
    • Double Subverted with Alex Kamal, who was deemed better suited to transports by the Martian Navy and even describes himself as a "glorified bus driver" with a mundane civilian job on the ice-hauler Canterbury, but still proves one hell of a pilot after Falling into the Cockpit of the frigate Rocinante.
  • Action Dad: Deconstructed by Alex, who's estranged from ex-wife and son because he prefers the action of piloting spacecraft, even if it's fairly pedestrian ice-hauling.
  • Action Girl:
    • Julie Mao might be the richest heiress in the System, but she'll still plant you in the deck.
    • Octavia Muss declares, "If I want his ass kicked, I'll do it myself!" when Miller smacks around an uncooperative prisoner, and proves a Big Damn Hero for Miller in "Rock Bottom".
    • Naomi Nagata may not be great in combat (she's unarmed and covering her ears during the shootout in "Salvage"), but she's really active in Fight to Survive situations like MacGyvering the Sinking Ship Scenario in "The Big Empty", plugging the leak in "CQB", and navigating Eros' unfamiliar tunnels in "Critical Mass".
    • Gunnery Sergeant Bobbie Draper is a female Martian Space Marine capable of winning an arm-wrestle with her own Powered Armor, which even the rest of the badass marines consider a spectacle.
    • Drummer proves herself one in "Pyre" when she kills several of the Belters storming Tycho's control deck.
  • Action Survivor:
    • Kenzo in Season 1 is this: he may be a corporate spy who has quite a few tricks up his sleeve, but he hardly appears to be a fighter and prefers relying on sabotage and manipulation.
    • In Season 2, Prax is a botanist, who, after barely escaping a collapsing dome on Ganymede and less than merciful "rescuers", returns to the station with the 'Rocinante' crew to search for his missing daughter. Not accustomed to guns and shocked by violence, he is no great help in altercations, but offers plenty of brainpower to make up for it.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • In the books, Holden's crew knows each other fairly well and gets along pretty much from the start while the show makes them more distant and argumentative, making their collective Season 1 arc into more of a Fire-Forged Friends story.
    • Avasarala's son was killed in a skiing accident in the books, but in the show he was a UNN soldier killed by the OPA, giving her an It's Personal interest in the OPA and an Adult Fear understanding that War Is Hell.
    • Inverted with Holden and Naomi's Relationship Upgrade. In the novels, Naomi initially refuses Holden until he can prove she's a genuine Love Interest rather than a Lust Object because of his Ethical Slut past on the Canterbury. In the show, this isn't an aspect of Holden's backstory and they get together without any qualms in "Safe".
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Alex and Amos are both younger, slimmer, and less bald than their literary counterparts.
  • Adaptational Heroism: While generally quite faithful to the novels, Avasarala's more abrasive Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior! and Sir Swears-a-Lot traits are downplayed. It's perhaps no coincidence that "Windmills", the episode where she exclaims "Shit!", was penned by the guys who wrote the novels.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Not "villainy" per se, but in the first novel Holden is idealistic to a fault, whereas the show makes him a bit Darker and Edgier while still acting as the crew's voice for heroic idealism. He also reluctantly destroys a defenseless medical ship that threatens to expose his operation to destroy Eros in "Godspeed", while the closest thing he did in the book was threaten a UN science ship being escorted to Eros, and they backed off before he was forced to fire.
    • Though quite jaded about such things, Miller doesn't personally accept bribes or threaten to have people Thrown Out the Airlock in the books.
    • Avasarala doesn't condone or oversee Cold-Blooded Torture in the novels.
    • In "Dulcinea", Capt. McDowell ignores the Distress Call and calls whoever leaked it a "piece of shit do-gooder." In the novel, Holden notes that if McDowell had really wanted to Refuse The Call he'd have done so quietly, but by announcing it publicly McDowell gets credit for resenting the expensive detour while Holden gets credit for having a Hero Complex for doing something they both know to be right.
    • The crew of the Donnager is portrayed more antagonistically by seizing and roughly-handling Holden's crew rather than rushing to save them from the pursuing mystery ships. Holden also describes Lopez's interrogation as, "surprisingly human," in the novel, unlike the steely interrogations of the show. The show also portrays the Martians as vindictive in dealing with the Xinglong, while the books leave it ambiguous whether the incident was a suicidal gesture of defiance, an accidental shooting by antsy Martians, or both.
    • Star Helix, while still very much Law Enforcement, Inc., at least attempts to act like a legitimate police force in the books rather than a gang of hired thugs. The same can be said of Dawes and his followers, who are explicitly members of OPA's security apparatus (and appear to operate within a chain of command and follow rules of their own) rather than just another gang on Ceres.
    • The OPA, while disparaged by its opponents (Avasarala calls them "Hezbollah in space" and "a rugby scrum with a currency"), are actually a functioning government with an established hierarchy, court system, currency, security apparatus, and foreign policy in the novels, capable of controlling piracy and delivering disaster relief without any assistance from the Inner Planets. The series tends to portray them as a street gang writ large, relying on real and implied threats to get their way.
    • In the show, Bobbie Draper starts out as a Blood Knight who's itching for a fight because of her serious grudge against Earth. In the books, she staunchly refuses to counteract the interests of her home-world but is otherwise a Gentle Giant who struggles with PTSD rather than Fantastic Racism. That said, Bobbie seems to be developing towards this personality following the Ganymede incident.
    • In the books, Captain Martens is a calm chaplain who helps Bobbie deal with her PTSD. In the show, meanwhile, he's a Faux Affably Evil officer who's a part of the conspiracy around the protomolecule.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: A minor point, but in the books Bobbie Draper's Powered Armor is a distinctive red to camouflage against the Martian surface. In the show, it's a plain, sterile grey.
  • Adaptation Expansion: By taking 10 episodes to adapt just 400 pages of a nearly 600 page novel in Season 1 there's room for quite a bit of this.
    • Chrisjen Avasarala, an Iconic Sequel Character from the second novel, is brought forward into Season 1 with an all-new Third Line, Some Waiting plot of her own.
    • Miller's investigation into Julie Mao is much more in-depth, with Anderson Dawes in particular taking on a much broader antagonist role.
    • Holden's crew run into problems in Season 1 that they don't have in the first book, particularly the Sinking Ship Scenario in "The Big Empty" and everything to do with the stowaway spy Kenzo in "Windmills". Also, the strict POV structure of the books means whenever the show separates Holden from his crew like in "CQB" or "Leviathan Wakes", one group or the other is acting out new material (Holden in "CQB", his crew in "Leviathan Wakes").
    • Havelock is a more important character with his own minor arc in Season 1, something that doesn't happen in the books until the fourth novel, Cibola Burn.
    • Some events only mentioned in the books, such as the destruction of Anderson Station and the Xinglong, are dramatized on-screen.
    • Bobbie Draper, like Avasarala, is only introduced in the second book, so her initial material in Season 2 is original since the show hasn't quite reached that point yet.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Ade's last name is Nygaard rather than Tukunbo.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Dresden describes what the protomolecule does to a human being as "incredible" and the victim as "fortunate" and "blessed"... while being very careful not to infect himself, of course.
  • Advertised Extra: Florence Faivre (Julie Mao) is mostly relegated to photos and video clips except for a few memorable sequences in "Dulcinea", "Critical Mass", and "Home".
  • Afraid of Blood: Alex doesn't deal well with seeing Amos' protruding leg bone in "Back to the Butcher".
  • After Action Patchup:
    • Amos suffers a compound leg fracture during the crew's escape from the Donnager that requires medical attention from Naomi and Holden at the start of "Back to the Butcher."
    • Miller and Octavia have one that results in an awkward Almost Kiss after she saves his life in "Rock Bottom".
    • Holden and Naomi share a quiet moment while she's setting the Auto Doc to treat his radiation poisoning in "Leviathan Wakes".
  • The Alcoholic:
  • Alien Geometries: The inhabitants of Ceres and Eros Stations live in miles and miles of tunnels that spiral beneath the asteroids' surface with "down" being oriented outwards towards the crust because the stations' gravity is artificially created via centrifugal force (like the Discovery One from 2001: A Space Odyssey but on a much larger scale) rather than the asteroids' mass. Ceres Station's introduction in the premiere episode provides some idea of how internal tunnels are oriented.
  • Alliterative Name: Naomi Nagata, Arjun Avasarala, and Mei Meng.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • It's never explained on-screen, but Miller rousing the CPM mercenaries to Let's You and Him Fight by calling them "just meat for the machine" is ironic because CPM literally stands for Carne Por la Machina ("meat for the machine"), which is doubly appropriate since they're being left as literal meat for the protomolecule.
    • It's implied during Avasarala's conversation with her grandson in "CQB", but the novels make it explicit that the Colony Drop is the new Mutually Assured Destruction between Earth and Mars.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Lt. Lopez survives just long enough to turn over control of the Tachi to Holden's crew and is finished off by the extremely high-g burn the ship makes to escape the battle.
  • Almost Kiss: Miller and Octavia have one as he's comforting her about shooting two people to save his life. It takes the Awkward Silence route when Miller turns away.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: The crew's main problem during the Sinking Ship Scenario in "The Big Empty", made worse when a broken airlock requires them to vent the ship to make repairs. Then it gets even worse when Alex's respirator craps out, forcing Shed to share with him, resulting in both suffering this inside their suits.
  • Altum Videtur: Ancient Grome provides many middle names in the 23rd Century: Juliet Andromeda Mao, Fredrick Lucius Johnson, and Josephus Aloisus Miller.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Diogo is left Dramatic Space Drifting by his uncle Mateo in "Rock Bottom", and isn't seen again until six episodes later when he shows up again as part of the OPA assault team in "Doors and Corners."
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Amos sports two Hebrew tattoos, though these are actor Wes Chatham's actual tattoos that the showrunners decided not to cover up. One along his outer forearm is Hebrew lettering that (although a little garbled) translates to "State your opinion." He also has "Timshel" written in Roman letters on the inside of his forearm, which means "thou shalt rule over it" in reference to sin, taken from the Cain and Abel story. Whatever Amos's background, he's almost certainly not a practicing Jew.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The ice-hauler Paj loses his arm to a giant block of ice in "Dulcinea".
  • And Starring: Shohreh Aghdashloo (Avasarala) gets this.
  • And This Is for...:
    • This is clearly what's going through Holden's mind when he orders the destruction of the ship that blew up Ade Nygaard and the Canterbury.
    • When Miller shoots Filat Kothari on Eros as revenge for impaling his partner Havelock.
  • Anti-Nihilist: Holden knows he lives in a Crapsack World, but that never stops him from trying to make it better.
  • Anti-Villain: Anderson Dawes is a main antagonist in the Belt, but he's mostly just a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants a better life for his people.
  • Anyone Can Die: While not as blood-soaked as some other recent Darker and Edgier series, this one doesn't shy away from disposing of characters — even ones who looked about to be major.
    • The series premiere ends with Ade Nygaard and Captain McDowell getting vaporized along with the rest of the Canterbury's crew.
    • The fact Havelock subverts this by surviving getting impaled during the riots in "Remember the Cant" is actually pretty surprising, since it was staged so much like a Sacrificial Lamb moment.
    • Shed Garvey, one of the initial Five-Man Band of survivors, is decapitated by a railgun with absolutely zero warning in "CQB".
    • Captain Theresa Yao invokes Going Down with the Ship via a Self-Destruct Mechanism and Lieutenant Lopez succumbs to his wounds during the survivors' high-g escape.
    • Franklin DeGraaf gets killed by a UN hit squad, who make it look like a suicide.
    • Julie Mao is dead by the time the Rocinante's crew finds her.
    • Miller shoots Dresden to stop him from giving up his information to Fred Johnson.
    • Miller makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save Earth in "Home".
    • Sutton is set up as a foil to the Hot-Blooded Draper, only to be unceremoniously killed during the battle over Ganymede, which also claims the lives of Draper's entire squad.
  • Anything That Moves: Octavia cites "Bang every space-bucker I could find" as something a Rebellious Princess might do on Ceres to piss off her father, with the implication she did something similar once upon a time.
  • Apocalypse How: The alien station at the heart of Ring space has a Wave Motion Gun capable of inflicting a Class X-2, which it used on multiple star systems in a futile attempt to save its creators from... something. The climax of "Abbadon's Gate" has it charging to attack the Solar System after identifying humanity as a threat.
  • Apologetic Attacker: In "Assured Destruction", Cotyar reluctantly strangles Theo the electrician before they're picked up by the UNN, because he doesn't trust Theo not to reveal Avasarala's location if the UNN leans on him enough. He apologizes while doing it.
  • Applied Phlebotinum:
    • A fusion drive that provides constant acceleration in order to allow Casual Interplanetary Travel.
    • The protomolecule is acknowledged in-universe to be capable of defying the laws of physics, making it even harder to cope with for the protagonists, who don't have this luxury.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Jules-Pierre Mao to his daughter Julie, who ultimately dies fighting to stop his N.G.O. Superpower from killing millions of Belters. Unfortunately, Julie's body yields enough protomolecule samples to go ahead as planned.
  • Arc Symbol: The OPA monogram (which resembles an anarchist A) appears more and more frequently as the organization gains power and support in the Belt.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Remember the Cant!"
    • "Milowda na ányimals!" (Belter for "We are not animals!")
    • "(When) the blood's on the wall..."
  • Armies Are Evil: Neither the United Nations (Earth) or Martian navies are portrayed in a particularly positive light. The UNN has a track record of blasting stations full of families open to vacuum when their workers mutiny rather than let them surrender, and the MCRN is shown to be very hostile and abusive to Asteroid Miners whose ships they inspect in the wake of the destruction of the Donnager.
  • Artificial Gravity:
    • Ships simulate gravity by having the decks arranged vertically relative to the engines, with the thrust providing the gravity whenever the engines are active.
    • In "Home", the protomolecule is able to maintain Eros' normal gravity in spite of completely changing its spin and momentum, in addition to providing Inertial Dampening that prevents anyone still on it from being killed by the forces involved.
  • Artificial Limbs: Discussed. Many Earthers and Martians can afford to have lost limbs regrown from bio-gel, but many Belters have to make due with advanced prosthetics that can sense heat and pressure. Some even take pride in preferring "a good Belter-built fake."
  • Artificial Meat: In "Salvage", Kenzo offers a line on a place that sells "vat-grown ribs".
  • Artistic License – Astronomy:
    • The explanation for Dawes' scar is solar radiation heating up the metal components of the old space suits to the point they burn. In reality, most of that radiation energy would bleed off as infrared long before it got hot enough to sear flesh.
    • The planetoid Eros jams the radar, leaving only visual observation possible from a nearby ship. Eros is about ten miles wide and can be easily seen by a telescope. It was first seen from Earth in 1898.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Getting impaled through the solar-plexus should result in death very quickly given the number of important arteries in the region, not to mention the nerves and tissues that control breathing. Hyper-advanced medical treatment doesn't mean much when you should be dead long before you could receive any. This is mitigated by the fact that Ceres has lower gravity.
    • Earth's population is around 30 billion despite this number being significantly higher than the highest real-world projections. Meanwhile Mars supports a population of 9 billion despite being effectively an airless rock with a surface area somewhat smaller than the land area of Earth. Where they get enough oxygen, water and food for everybody is not elaborated on.
  • Artistic License – Economics: A large proportion of Earth's population cannot find paid work owing to extensive automation of the economy and subsist on a welfare scheme called Basic Assistance. Given that Martians tend to stereotype Earthers as indolent "takers", this is apparently not the case on Mars. Even though their technology is supposed to be generally more advanced than Earth's, and so the Martian economy should probably be automated to at least the same degree. It could be that Mars exiles or executes their unproductive citizens, but if they do it has never been mentioned in the show.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Used intentionally and often lampshaded and discussed. The show is hard Sci-Fi by television standards, but it's acknowledged in-universe that the protomolecule doesn't play by the laws of physics, and the fact it can do things the characters simply can't is a major source of drama.
    • Accidentally invoked in "Here There Be Dragons": Alex's method of reaching Ganymede without alerting MCRN ships is scientifically sound... except that one of the moons he passes (Cyllene) is way too far from Ganymede to make sense. According to one show runner, this was only caught after the scene had been shot and couldn't be changed.
  • Ascended Extra: Several characters are given more material than their book counterparts.
    • Anderson Dawes is a relatively minor character in the books, while the show embellishes him into a moderate antagonist, first for Miller and later for Holden/Johnson.
    • Havelock is a minor satellite character to Miller in the first novel, but the show gives him his own subplot.
    • Gia, the Hooker with a Heart of Gold who befriends Havelock, is an unnamed, single-scene extra in the books.
    • Holden calls his family once or twice in the books, but nothing with the depth of Avasarala's visit to their farm in "Windmills".
    • Cotyar, a very minor character who acts as head of Avasarala's security detail in Caliban's War, shows up much earlier here and assists in her investigation into the U.N. conspiracy.
  • Asshole Victim:
  • Assimilation Backfire: The protomolecule uses Julie Mao, the first thing it absorbed on Eros, as the central node for all the growth on Eros. This allows Miller to talk Julie into diverting Eros into Venus, rather than hitting Earth as originally intended.
  • The Assimilator: The protomolecule, given the way Dresden speaks of "letting it learn" by infecting all of Eros Station in "Critical Mass". Not only does it infect living tissue, it mimics the structures it infects. Julie Mao was killed by the protomolecule, then it completely mimicked her — memories and all — to use as a "brain" of sorts.
  • As You Know:
    • This exchange in "Dulcinea":
      Ade Nygaard: We're obligated to check it out.
      Capt. McDowell: I'm well-aware of the statute, Miss Nygaard.
    • Lampshaded in "Safe":
      Admiral: Due to light-speed delay, it will be two hours until we get a response—
      Avasarala: I know how the fucking thing works.
  • Asteroid Miners: A major occupation for Belters, with the poorest of them living as "rock-hoppers" who spend their lives moving from asteroid to asteroid struggling to harvest enough valuable material to survive while corporations like Pur-N-Kleen use freighters like the Canterbury to harvest ice from Saturn's rings.
  • Asteroid Thicket:
    • Averted in the Belt, where asteroids are realistically distributed and reasonably well-charted.
    • Saturn's rings in "Dulcinea" provide a reasonably justified version of the denser conception, which is why the Canterbury is there to collect ice.
    • Another justified and possibly invoked example occurs in "Safe", in the form of an "abandoned asteroid mine": a small thicket implied to have been formed from the remnants of either a very large isolated asteroid or a number of smaller ones intentionally gathered into a vaguely stable gravitational system for more convenient processing.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: The OPA employs demagogues and later video announcements to get their anti-Inner message out to the public.
  • The Atoner:
    • Fred Johnson's motivation for joining the OPA after what he did to Anderson Station.
    • Clarissa is haunted by the blood she's spilled in her quest for vengeance against Holden. At the end of the third season, she attempts a heroic self-sacrifice, but survives.
  • Author Filibuster: Parodied in "Doors and Corners" when Alex's angst about not saving more people from Eros turns into a rant that threatens to Break The Fourth Wall as the camera presses in closer and closer... until he looks over to find Amos has already bailed and offered to buy a random girl drinks if she'll listen to Alex instead.
  • Auto Doc: Military ships come equipped with these while civilian ones like the Canterbury seem to lack them. Holden and Miller are very grateful for the one on the Rocinante when they get extreme radiation poisoning in "Leviathan Wakes".
  • Awesome by Analysis: Fred Johnson neatly demolishes Holden's bluff when they first meet in "Rock Bottom":
    Johnson: That's a Corvette-class Martian frigate that typically crews thirty. I only see two of you. That tells me that you're trying hard to hide your numbers. Tactically, if there were more, as a show of force, you would've brought them out. I'm guessing there are two to four people left on your ship, and I'm confident there's no Martian Navy on board. If they were, they'd be out here speaking with me now. You walked off that ship because you're in charge. At least you think you are...
  • Awkward Silence: Between Miller and Octavia when Miller turns away from their Almost Kiss in "Rock Bottom".
  • Backstory:
    • The interrogations in "Remember the Cant" provide a lot of info on Holden's past, some key insights into Naomi's and Alex's, a crucial lowlight from Shed's, and absolutely nothing about Amos.
    • "Back to the Butcher" actually dramatizes the decade-old incident that earned Fred Johnson the titular epithet "The Butcher of Anderson Station" and prompted him to become a Defector from Decadence.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Capt. Yao of the Donnager is very confident before battle in "CQB":
      "Well, whoever they are and whatever they've come to do, it's just become a suicide mission. They started this fight, and we're going to finish it."
    • Avasarala gives an epic, long-winded one in "Paradigm Shift", explaining exactly how she'll tear apart the Mao family if they don't hand over Jules-Pierre to pay for his part in The Conspiracy. See the quotes under Mega Corp. below for the whole thing.
    • Holden delivers one to the MCRN blockade over Ganymede in "A Monster and a Rocket".
      "This is the warship Rocinante. You're aware of our capabilities more than anyone. We're escorting a vessel of refugees away from your AO. Any ship that opens fire on us will feel the sum total of our state-of-the-art Martian arsenal rammed up its ass. We'll all die together. This is your only and final warning."
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Chrisjen Avasarala has never been elected to anything but is currently Number 3 in the government of Earth and knows all the gambits to get information out of her opponents.
  • Badass Creed: When preparing for a drop, Bobbie Draper psyches up her Martian Marines with a call-and-response:
    Bobbie: Who's going to feast on Earth's sky and drink their rivers dry? (MMC!) Who's going to stomp their mountains into fine Martian dust? (MMC!) 'Til the rains fall hard on Olympus Mons, who are we? (MMC!) I can't hear you! (MMC!) Who are we?! (MMC!)
  • Badass Crew: The Rocinante crew.
  • Bad Boss:
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Miller confronts Dawes in one full of OPA members in "Windmills" and tries to start a Bar Brawl.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: CPM, Eros' Law Enforcement, Inc., are this since they are mainly gangsters and mercenaries hired by The Conspiracy.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Prax is ready to kill Dr. Strickland, but Amos convinces him that he's not that guy. Once Prax leaves, Amos turns around and says "I am that guy." before doing the deed himself.
  • Bad to the Last Drop: 99% of coffee in the Belt would appear to be this. The other 1% is brought there aboard Inner Planets naval ships.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Miller gets grabbed this way leaving Julie Mao's apartment in "Back to the Butcher".
  • Bait the Dog: Sematimba seems at first like a reasonable guy given his affinity for Miller, but then he kills an Eros survivor for slowing him down and threatens to shoot Naomi if she doesn't abandon Holden and Miller.
  • Band of Brothels: Prostitution is common and well-policed, and when Amos warns a prostitute that a prospective client is packing a knife, Alex asks, "Are you their union rep?" in a tone that implies he's only partially joking.
  • Bar Brawl: Miller tries to start one in "Windmills".
  • Batman Gambit: In "Remember the Cant", Avasarala "leaks" just enough information to her old friend Ambassador Frank DeGraaf to prompt him to send a panicked message to the Martian government, and deduces from the Martian government's own panicked reaction that they really didn't destroy the Canterbury.
  • Battering Ram: Holden summarizes Miller's plan in "Godspeed" as using the Nauvoo as one of these, though in this case, they're not trying to open the target, they're trying to Hurl It into the Sun.
  • The Battlestar: MCRN Donnager carries an arsenal of torpedoes and railguns capable of fighting off a small fleet by herself, as well as a large hangar bay housing smaller vessels such as the frigate Tachi.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Miller always has Perma-Stubble, but it becomes one of these for a couple episodes after escaping Eros until he shaves in "Static".
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted.
    • In "The Big Empty", Miller and Octavia discuss why Julie Mao would retain a scar in an era that averts Scars Are Forever, with Miller even calling it a "badge of defiance."
    • Julie Mao is the focus of the worst Body Horror in Season 1.
    • Naomi gets blood splattered all over her in "Leviathan Wakes" and has to explain to Holden that it's not hers.
  • Before I Change My Mind: Miller tells Diogo this after deciding to take over the Dead Man Switch in "Godspeed".
  • Being Good Sucks: Answering a Distress Call always carries the danger of being Lured into a Trap.
  • Being Watched: Miller feels this way as he pushes deeper into the protomolecule's Genius Loci in "Home", and doesn't buy it when Naomi suggests it's because she's watching him from Mission Control on the Rocinante.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Miller and Octavia until around the time she saves his life in "Rock Bottom".
  • Berserk Button: If you value keeping your airway intact or your brains in your head, don't insult or threaten Naomi in Amos's presence.
  • Better Than Sex: Diogo claims space-walking is this, though Miller is skeptical that he has the experience necessary to make that comparison.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence:
    • "CQB" contains one between The Battlestar MCRN Donnager and six advanced stealth fighters, which is interspersed with a running gun battle as Holden's crew attempts to escape.
    • The joint OPA and Rocinante assault on Thoth Station in "Doors and Corners".
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Olivia arrives just in time to save Miller from being Thrown Out the Airlock in "Rock Bottom".
    • In "Salvage", Miller saves the Rocinante crew from a UN black ops team that was trying to assassinate them.
  • Big Dumb Object:
    • The protomolecule turns Eros into one of these, capable of defying the laws of physics to propel itself on a course towards Earth. It ends up crashing into Venus instead and begins constructing a new one, which ultimately becomes The Ring at the edge of the system.
  • The Big Guy: Amos is naturally the largest and strongest of the Rocinante crew, and growing up on Earth only increases this by also making him a Heavy Worlder. His rough upbringing and emotional detachment also make him the most comfortable with violence.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Belter Creole is entirely unsubtitled. Most of the time, the Creole is limited to a few words or the odd phrase that viewers can guess. Sometimes, lines will be spoken entirely in Creole and the only way viewers will be able to understand is if they learn the patois themselves.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Miller occasionally converses with Belters this way, though usually they each throw in some of the other's language as well.
  • Bio-Augmentation:
    • Implants of various sorts are common. Communications devices and organ augmentation are mundane while identity scramblers are expensive and illegal.
    • Belters have to resort to drugs or hormones just to maintain reasonable health and well-being (if injuries haven't reduce them to outright prosthetics), and these treatments don't always work well. Miller, for instance, has spurs on his spine where the vertebrae didn't quite grow properly because of "cheap bone-density juice when he was a child."
    • Martian marines have communications systems and other implants to augment the equipment in their battle armor. Amos taunts one such marine by insisting castration is a mandatory part of the process.
    • Season 3 features a documentary cameraman who has extensive augmentations visibly implanted beneath his skin. He's also blind but can use his implanted tech to see through drone cameras.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The protomolecule's Meat Moss and skin lesions as The Virus crackle with blue light very reminiscent of electricity and give off radiant blue spores. It's creepy as all hell.
  • Biotech Is Better: This is used to establish class disparities. After a hauler on the Canterbury loses his arm below the elbow to an ice block, he's told he could go for the bio-gel that regrows limbs. He opts to go for a prosthetic limb because he's been with Pur-n-Kleen long enough for the company to provide him with a deluxe model featuring pressure feedback and hot-and-cold sensors.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The heroes might not be paragons (though some try), but several villains are utter monsters.
  • Black Market Produce: A major cottage industry in the belt. Dairy products are held in particularly high regard: while expensive, vegetables and fruit can be grown hydroponically both legally and illegally with minimal fuss. Small livestock like chickens likewise can be raised or smuggled fairly easily, and even the tank-grown Artificial Meat is a passable substitute for the real thing. Dairy, however, requires either maintaining at least one large female livestock animal in orbit, or moving dense wheels of cheese from the ground into space and law enforcement swiftly cracks down on "curd cartels". Cheese, in fact, is such a prized commodity that the troubles on Ceres noticeably quieted down when one such cartel began selling genuine cheddar on the station.
  • Black Site: Avasarala travels to one of the UN's a couple of times to interrogate a Belter caught smuggling stealth tech.
  • Blatant Lies: Errinwright's claims that Fred Johnson is framing Earth.
  • Blood Knight: Bobby Draper is just itching for a fight with Earth, until she gets a taste of real combat on Ganymede and decides that War Is Hell.
  • Boarding Pod:
    • What the unknown enemies use to seal the fate of the Donnager after the latter blows away four of six of the attacking ships. The Donnager self-destructs to prevent a successful capture.
    • Fred Johnson uses modified FedEx containers to make a special delivery of boarding parties to take control of The Conspiracy's base on Thoth Station.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Avasarala's escort ship leaves her to die on Jules-Pierre Mao's ship in "Caliban's War", under orders from Errinwright, and even fires five missiles at it just to be sure.
  • Body Horror: One of the book authors once noted that, "If I wrote greeting cards, they'd probably have a squick factor." The TV adaptation lives up to everything that implies.
    • Cutting her way into the cargo bay of a Ghost Ship in "Dulcinea", Julie Mao finds a giant, glowing Meat Moss Eldritch Abomination in the process of assimilating a human torso.
    • Some of the negative traits a lifetime in low-g has spawned among the Belters, especially their low bone and muscle densities that leave them unable to even breathe back on Earth.
    • In "Salvage", Miller and the Rocinante crew find Julie Mao has been killed by the protomolecule infection in her shower. Blue-black lesions cover her pallid remains from head to toe, sprouting spines like anemones, and crystalline structures have grown straight out her left eye and mouth, while a gossamer webbing has rooted her to the shower.
    • Miller and Holden's slow degradation from radiation poisoning. Holden's descriptors "melt from the inside out," and, "bleeding out of places you don't even want to know about," don't help.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Season 1 begins and ends with a character encountering the protomolecule, showing how it's changed.
    • At the end of Season 2, Dr. Strickland is whistling the same tune that Amos was at the start of the season.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Despite being a native Belter who's never left Ceres, Miller dresses like an Earther, works for an Earth-based Law Enforcement, Inc., and generally acts superior to other Belters because of it. He's even the first character to hurl the Fantastic Slur "Long Bone" at another Belter.
    Miller: I am nothing like you, longbone. Take your OPA bullshit back to the Medina, and wait for the revolution with all the rest of the victims.
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • The fate of Shed Garvey, whose head simply disappears thanks to an unlucky railgun round.
    • How Miller takes revenge on Filat Kothari, the thug who impaled his partner. Bonus points for covering the guy's retreat first only to put one between his eyes once he got a little closer.
    • In "Doors and Corners", the boarding party is taken by surprise when one of their group is shot in the head and a big red splash appears. After the shooting stops, Miller realizes he was actually hit by a non-lethal gel round which didn't even penetrate his space suit helmet, as the minimal crew weren't expecting boarders and were only armed to the extent necessary to disable the prisoners they were watching over.
    • Played straight in the same episode, where Miller pops Dresden in the head then shoots him twice more for good measure.
    • Drummer does this to the Belters who shot her in an attempt to force missile launch codes out of her and Fred Johnson in "Pyre".
    • Amos delivers this to Strickland in "Immolation", though we only get the perspective of the blood splatter against the airlock door.
  • Born Lucky: Diogo just happens to get caught stealing water by the comparatively merciful Joe Miller rather than a more aggressive cop or serious gangster, then he's Thrown Out the Airlock far from anywhere but is picked up by a passing ship before his air runs out, and then gets shot in the face but survives because his opponent was only equipped with non-lethal ammunition.
  • Boss Banner: A couple government officials get these with their name and position, including third-line protagonist Chrisjen Avasarala after she's already been on-screen for over a minute.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Miller gets better-than-expected mileage out of his six-shot cylinder despite a closeup at the start of "Leviathan Wakes" that proves that's exactly how many bullets it holdsnote .
    • Averted in the case of the Rocinante itself, which runs low on ammo on a semi-regular basis. At one point the crew resorts to raiding a Martian debris field to restock.
  • Bread and Circuses: Lt. Lopez claims in "CQB" that, "The only thing Earthers care about is government handouts: free food, free water, free drugs so you can forget the aimless lives you lead."
  • Brick Joke: When they part ways in "Home", Miller tells Diogo to get himself laid. The next episode, he's seen walking hand in hand with a prostitute saying, "Miller, this one's for you."
  • Bring News Back: Holden and (at his insistence) his crew are escorted off the Donnager by a squad of Martian marines because they're the only ones truly capable of testifying that Mars did not destroy the Canterbury.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • Anderson Dawes tells Miller one about how he had to Mercy Kill his sister in order to keep his family alive. Miller points out that Dawes didn't sacrifice himself and that just proves him a coward.
    • Happens again when Sutton talks about how Mars avoided a war with Earth in the nick of time through diplomacy to talk about the value of peace, only for Draper to state that led to a Space Cold War where Mars was delayed a century in its terraforming efforts.
  • Broken Pedestal: At least two in season 3.
    • Naomi becomes this to Amos after it is revealed that she gave the protomolecule to Fred Johnson. Lampshaded by Amos.
    • Camina Drummer feels deeply betrayed after Fred Johnson tells her that he has struck an unholy alliance with Anderson Dawes not long after an attempted mutiny by OPA sympathisers on Tycho which almost left both of them dead.
  • Broken Masquerade: After investigating the disabled stealth ship in "Godspeed", Avasarala has it pushed into the nearest UNN patrol route so it will be discovered and reveal the connection between the stealth ship attacks and Protogen (and hence Jules-Pierre Mao). Mao is good enough to wriggle out of any personal liability, but it definitely puts a dent in his plans and sours his partnership with Errinwright.
  • Brutal Honesty: When Miller asks if he really just saw his old friend Sematimba's body at the end of "Leviathan Wakes", Amos bluntly answers, "Yes. I shot him."
  • Bullet Sparks: All over the place during the dash to the Tachi in "CQB".
  • Bullying a Dragon: Miller didn't really think calling Amos "no-neck" or a "trigger-happy whack job" would end well for him, did he?
  • Burial in Space: Miller gives Sematimba this at the end of "Safe" by ejecting his body bag out the airlock.
  • The Butcher: Fred Johnson is called "The Butcher of Anderson Station" for killing the entire population of Anderson Station because they complained that low oxygen rations were causing brain damage in their children. Oh and he blew up it while they were desperately trying to surrender. By the time of the series he's a Reasonable Authority Figure, possibly because he was kept from knowing they had surrendered. Although he's genuinely a changed man Johnson is also more than willing to use his reputation as The Butcher to intimidate people.
  • Call-Back:
    • Diogo reintroduces himself to Miller in "Doors and Corners" by shouting, "Stay away from the aqua," recalling Miller's parting warning to him in "The Big Empty".
    • While infiltrating Eros in "Home", Miller returns to the pachinko parlor he and Holden hid out in for awhile in "Leviathan Wakes".
    • And also a Call-Forward, depending on how you look at it. The camera frequently focuses on thrust controls located on the armrests of the pilot's seat. It turns out that the drive's inventor, Solomon Epstein, died because he couldn't reach his panel-mounted throttle under 17 Gs of thrust, and couldn't use the voice commands either, because his experimentally-tweaked used spaceship's previous owner spoke Chinese.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Miller finds a video message of Julie Mao doing this:
    Julie: You're so blind and so condescending, and you're never going to change. If you won't take yourself seriously as an adult then why should I care about being your child? You wanna sell the Razorback, do it. You can't buy me off or control me anymore. Maybe what you hate about me the most is that I remind you of yourself.
  • Camera Spoofing: When Anderson Dawes kidnaps Cortazar, he loops the camera feeds in that section of the station so no one realizes until he's well on his way out.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • The UN's ambassador to Mars, Franklin DeGraaf.
    • Kenzo, the corporate espionage spy from Tycho Station.
  • Can't Stop the Signal:
    • Despite talk in "The Big Empty" about the Donnager already being in jamming range when Holden sends out his message, events on Earth and Ceres in the next episode revolve around reactions to his broadcast, so it clearly got out.
    • In the titular Flashback in "Back to the Butcher", some Belter protesters transmit a signal to anyone listening when it becomes clear the UN just intends to kill them all without further negotiation.
    • In "Critical Mass", Fred Johnson beams out a transmission containing evidence pinning all the recent strife on Earth, and since the culprits cannot stop him they waste no time manufacturing evidence pointing right back at him.
    • Subverted in "Godspeed". When the crew of the Rocinante catches a humanitarian group investigating Eros, they jam long-range comms. The group tries to break for signal range by going around the asteroid, so Holden reluctantly blows up their ship.
  • The Captain:
    • Holden on the Rocinante, despite Amos' initial insistence that he isn't.
    • Captain Yao of the MCRN Donnager.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Lt. Sutton and GySgt. Bobbie Draper.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: When Miller starts doing this in "Home", Naomi tells him, "Hey, don't get all Holden on me: weird and chatty under pressure."
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: An Applied Phlebotinum fusion drive allows this.
  • Category Traitor: Miller is viewed as a traitor (welwala in Belter Creolenote ) by other Belters because he dresses like an Earther and works for Ceres' Earth-based police force, Star Helix Security.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: In "Reload", some rescued Martians try to seize the Rocinante. Holden and Bobbie manage to talk them down, at which point Amos shows up and immediately lampshades his tardiness.
    Amos: Did I miss it?
  • Centrifugal Gravity:
    • Belter stations like Ceres and Eros are asteroids that have been "spun up" to create gravity through centrifugal force. The show occasionally shows how liquid and dust fall in unusual ways due to the high rate of spin required to achieve the effect.
    • Tycho Station is a roving construction yard that has rotating habitat sections to provide inhabitants with gravity while maintaining gravity-free construction space.
    • The Generation Ship Nauvoo is capable of generating rotational gravity through a massive drum that dominates the habitable section of the ship. This comes in handy in "Fallen World", when the protomolecule station has frozen every other ship in the vicinity, making the rechristened Behemoth the only ship capable of generating gravity for the proper treatment of wounds.
    • The UN Navy's Truman class also has two prominent centrifuge habs, though these are only seen in exterior shots and mentioned in the lore, not actually seen functioning yet. It's established early in season 3 that many of these ships were only just being pulled out of mothball, so it's possible that these habs weren't a priority.
  • Character Development: Boomerang Bigot Miller has a minor epiphany in "Static" when he catches himself using the word "us" to refer to all Belters, including himself.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Julie Mao's animatronic gerbil, which turns out to conceal the data chip with information on the Phoebe incident that led her to the Anubis.
    • Julie's racing sled, the Razorback, is a big one for seasons 2 and 3.
      • In "Home", Miller realizes that Eros is heading for Earth because it's assimilated Julie, who thinks she's flying the Razorback home.
      • And in the season 3 premiere, Bobbie and Avasarala use the Razorback to escape Jules-Pierre Mao's yacht right before a missile strike destroys it.
    • The Generation Ship Nauvoo is revealed to be one when Miller incorporates it into his new plan in "Static". And again in season 3 when Fred Johnson has it recovered and retrofitted into a Belter warship rechristened the Behemoth.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Subverted by Havelock's practice with Belter Creole and gestures. Worse than useless, it's comical to the thugs who ambush him in "Remember the Cant".
  • The Chessmaster: Avasarala tries to manipulate every given situation to come out her way.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Holden has it.
    Naomi: It's not your problem. It's not your fault! None of it is.
    Holden: Okay, but now I'm making it my problem.
  • Children Are Innocent:
    • The three-year-old girl outside Miller's apartment with her pet bird in "Dulcinea".
    • Avasarala's grandson doesn't understand his grandmother's fear of an interplanetary war resulting in a Colony Drop.
      Grandson: Nobody could throw rocks that big. It just happens sometimes because, you know, gravity.
  • City Mouse: Miller notes that he's "more of a city Belter" when asked why he's never done a space-walk before in "Godspeed".
  • The City Narrows: The Medina district, located at the innermost part of Ceres Station, where Centrifugal Gravity is weak and property is cheap.
  • Civil War: Although Earth, Mars, and the Belt are increasingly independent, many still consider a potential war between them to be this within a united humanity.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • "The Big Empty" ends with Holden's crew being captured by the Martian Navy.
    • "Remember the Cant" ends with Havelock being ambushed and impaled.
    • "Leviathan Wakes" (and therefore Season 1) ends with Holden's crew picking up the villains' transmission back to their base, and the protomolecule evolving.
    • "Godspeed" ends as the protomolecule begins moving Eros, with Miller trapped aboard manning a Dead Man Switch.
  • Close Up On Head: The series' opening scene builds outward from an extreme closeup of Julie Mao's face, which writer Hawk Ostby says they did to subvert the Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot.
  • Code Name:
    • Julie Mao's OPA operative code name is "Lionel Polanski".
    • Avasarala's security code name is "Archangel".
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Avasarala achieves this on a Belter caught smuggling illegal stealth tech simply by exposing him to Earth's gravity; because his body is not adapted to it, he suffers tremendously. Avasarala gets chewed out for this but isn't punished, and the smuggler goes on to use gravity itself as his Cyanide Pill by wrestling out treatment for a multi-g transit to Luna, proving it wasn't going to work no matter how long they left him on those hooks.
    Chrisjen Avasarala: I'm sorry the gravity of a real planet hurts, but it's appropriate: you wish to hurt Earth, the Earth that is now crushing your weak Belter lungs and your fragile Belter bones.
  • Cold Equation:
    • Averted when Shed chooses to save Alex from suffocation by sharing his air supply with him in "The Big Empty".
    • Anderson Dawes describes facing this choice with his Ill Girl sister Athena when recalling his backstory in "Rock Bottom".
  • Colonel Badass: Fred Johnson was one when he still served the UN. Avasarala still calls him by this rank to appeal to his old allegiance when she secretly reaches out to him in "Static".
  • Colonized Solar System: Humanity has yet to expand beyond, and only Mars and the Asteroid Belt are heavily settled, with a couple outposts at least as far out as the Saturnine moon Phoebe (where the protomolecule was discovered).
  • Colony Drop:
    • Given Avasarala's reaction to her grandson's talk about the dinosaur-killer and her worry about "people who throw rocks" in "CQB", this trope is the new Mutually Assured Destruction.
    • In "Rock Bottom" Diogo's Uncle Matteo attacks a Martian patrol skiff using his cargo (a small asteroid) as an improvised weapon.
    • "Godspeed"/"Home" has Eros pushed out of orbit by the protomolecule and set on a collision course with Earth. Given it's three-times bigger than the rock which took out the dinosaurs, stopping it is of vital importance. Thanks to Miller, it ends up hitting Venus with an impressive boom.
    • The crisis on Ganymede is caused by the destruction of an orbital solar mirror which impacts on a large part of the surface colony, the fallout of which renders the rest of the colony uninhabitable.
  • Color Wash: Scenes aboard ships get a heavy blue filter.
  • Combat Tentacles: Season 1 ends with the protomolecule seizing a character with these.
  • Comically Small Demand: Played for Laughs in "Home" when Fred Johnson's response to being called "the most powerful man in the System right now" is a sardonic, "Oh really? Then go get me a cup of coffee." Instead, Drummer just smirks and flips him off.
  • Commitment Issues: Ade Nygaard just wants to stay a Friend with Benefits to Holden, who's disappointed but understanding.
    • Holden himself has been the acting XO of the Canterbury for months, but refuses the captain's offer to make it permanent.
  • Companion Cube: Alex develops a very personal connection to every ship he pilots, and he falls absolutely head-over-heels in love with the Rocinante.
  • Company Town: Ceres and the other large Belt settlements are run as such, which is why the OPA is becoming popular.
  • Composite Character:
    • In the novels, it's a Martian Innocent Bystander named Enrique Dos Santos rather than Havelock who gets impaled by angry Belters.
    • The show's Lieutenant Lopez takes on the roles of two Martian lieutenants from the novels: the selfsame Lt. Lopez who interrogates Holden, and marine Lt. Kelly who helps Holden's crew escape.
    • In the books, Octavia Muss takes over as Miller's partner after Havelock leaves Ceres at Miller's urging, and Miller has an ex-wife named Candace who is mentioned a few times. In the show, Octavia is one of Miller's colleagues and also the ex-wife.
    • Cotyar of the show fills the roles of both Cotyar of the books as Avasarala's head of security, and also of Soren, Avasarala's much put upon personal assistant who dutifully absorbs the majority of her vitriol.
    • Inverted with Col. Janus, who doesn't appear in the books, but exists in the show as a counterpoint to Dr. Iturbi, providing the viewer with an interesting character dynamic instead of just stale reports to Avasarala.
  • The Confidant: Holden will discuss things with Naomi that he won't with the rest of the crew.
  • Conlang: Belters speak "Belter Creole", a patois featuring words from Russian, Turkish, German, etc. and integrates hand gestures for communicating in spacesuits. They also continue to speak English (using an accent that sounds vaguely Afrikaans) and Chinese (which is heard in station announcements).
  • Connected All Along: Julie Mao's disappearance, the attacks on the Canterbury and Donnager, the ruin of Phoebe Station, the bio-weapon on the Anubis, it all leads to the release of the protomolecule on Eros.
  • Continuous Decompression: Played fairly realistically in "CQB" when a railgun blows two fairly large holes in the room the crew are in, and they have to quickly but calmly patch the holes. Naomi also notes afterward that since air was rushing out both sides, they're now trapped in an room surrounded by hard vacuum.
  • The Conscience: In addition to being The Captain, Holden is often his crew's voice of morality, though he himself turns to Naomi if he's having doubts about something.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: A summit between the UN and MCR takes place on Earth in a large, mostly empty hall with big windows that let in plenty of sunlight. There are also large flower arrangements and a buffet featuring plenty of fresh fruit on clear display. This is all done so that the UN can thumb its nose at the MCR delegation, showing the Martians that, in spite of their superiority complex over Earth, none of them will ever get to see such luxuries on Mars in their lifetimes.
  • The Conspiracy: The ultimate culprit for everything in Seasons 1 and 2 is one of these involving billionaire Jules-Pierre Mao and UN Undersecretary-General Sadavir Errinwright.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Miller and Holden's storylines finally intersect in "Salvage" when their respective investigations lead them to the same hotel on Eros at the same time, with Miller arriving just in time to save Holden and his crew from a UN hit squad, though its downplayed by the fact they've been Working the Same Case.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Octavia saves Miller this way in "Rock Bottom".
  • Cool Starship:
    • The Rocinante is fairly plain on the outside, but the inside is pretty sleek and awesome.
    • LDSS Nauvoo, the only true starship in the series so far, is a Generation Ship and the largest vessel humanity has ever built. It also fully averts Standard Human Spaceship, what with it being a cathedral as well as a ship. Becomes even cooler once the OPA hijack it and turn it into the warship Behemoth.
  • Cop Killer: Filat Kothari and his goons become attempted ones in "Remember the Cant". Star Helix Security is not impressed.
  • Corrupt Cop: Miller to an extent, though he has more boundaries than many Law Enforcement, Inc. employees in the Belt.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jules-Pierre Mao.
  • Corrupt Politician:
    • Miller justifies being a moderately Corrupt Cop by noting that his bosses are bribed even better.
    • Sadavir Errinwright is part of The Conspiracy.
  • Costume Porn: Avasarala seems to wear a different intricately-made and vibrantly-coloured sari in every scene.
  • Crapsack World: Everywhere. Things are better than they are in the 21st century, but the more things change the more things stay the same; advanced medical technology and synthetic foods have made disease and hunger less of an issue than any previous era (for some people, that is), but they've been overshadowed by overpopulation, class warfare and extreme environmental damage — and off-world, that damage can be as simple as "didn't hire an honest contractor."
    • Although Earthers live in relative comfort with an average life expectancy of 123, unchecked population growth (to around 30 billion) and a dramatic rise in sea levels due to global warming has led to job shortages and most remaining land being heavily developed, so most people live on some sort of government assistance. At first glance, this may sound like an ideal socialist safety net, until Bobby Draper meets some people on "Basic Assistance" firsthand: they live in cardboard boxes in a Manhattan storm drain, and their self-taught doctor informs her that they can’t afford clean drinking water or basic medications, and that he will have his hands full in the summer trying to keep deaths from dysentery to a minimum. Private property is heavily regulated (and usually seized by the government, unless the owner is extremely rich and/or connected) to the point that in the show's time-setting, a 22-acre farm in Montananote  is considered extravagant and the government would like nothing better than to seize it. While issues like taxation and personal liberties aren’t addressed, what we do see doesn’t bode well.
    • Mars is even higher due to its superior tech base - but it's also a hardline military dictatorship, with all that implies. Strangely, they're actually better off than much of the system, with low population pressure, low unemployment, and (publicly) the most advanced technology. Just don't expect to shoot your mouth off and get away with it — and be prepared to be discarded at the drop of a hat for some ephemeral "greater good." The only reason it hangs together as well as it does is because Earth makes a pretty good villain in interplanetary politics; every Duster knows that the reason the terraforming stalled decades ago is because of Earther embargoes — while Earth loves to rub in how their environment may be screwed-up, but it's a damn sight better than what anyone else in the system has.
    • The average Belter life expectancy is 68 — at least when it comes to age. Low- or zero-gravity takes its toll on muscle and bone growth, hypoxic environments stunt child development, cops are often just thugs with badges, and general poverty and organized crime reign. Most Belters die a lot sooner due to the screwed-up infrastructure of their stations, let alone the rampant crime and corruption as well as strict water and air rationing. Drug use and slumlording is ignored while water theft—greywater theft—is harshly punished. The Belter working class are stuck in highly dangerous jobs and forced to live in tight quarters. Earther and Martian corporations run operations in the Belt and outer moons with virtually no oversight and often pay only lip service to employee safety and health benefits, while paying next to nothing. Various outer moons, asteroids, and space stations are ostensibly governed, if at all, by Earth or Mars, but it’s obvious to Belters that the "Inners" don’t give a shit about them.
  • Creator Provincialism:
    • A minor point, but despite the UN's One World Order, the half of Earth's interplanetary nuclear arsenal that actually gets launched in "Home" appears to come solely from the continental United States.
    • Bobby Draper, a 23rd-century Space Marine from Mars, is awarded the Purple Heart when she's wounded.
  • Creepy Cleanliness: Used to some degree with the Martians and Earthers. The MCRN flagship Donnager is dark but clean and sterile, the elite levels of Ceres Station are a spotless white with islands of perfectly groomed green, and the UN headquarters in New York border on a crystal spire. However, this is also subverted with the Rocinante, which is equally clean despite becoming the protagonists' beloved home.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Beheaded by a Rail Gun isn't a good way to go.
    • The Virus slowly consumes whoever it infects, keeping them alive as it eats them. You only get to die when its growth stops something important, like breathing, and even then that may not be the end of you.
  • Cult Colony: In Season 1, the Mormons are financing humanity's first Generation Ship, and Miller gets to know one of their colonist on his transit to Eros.
  • Cultural Posturing: The Belter ice-hauler Paj refuses even the idea of regenerating a lost arm by declaring, "Screw the Inners and their magic Jell-O! No offence, Holden. I'd rather a Belter-built fake any day!"
  • Culture Clash:
    • Earthers vs. Martians vs. Belters.
    • Havelock (an Earther) is a complete Fish out of Water on the Belter station of Ceres.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Inverted when The Donnager engages in combat with a stealth ship. The captain of the Martian flagship is initially very relaxed and almost casually confident of victory. It gradually becomes apparent that the mightiest battleship in the Martian fleet is absolutely no match for this new enemy, as the battle steadily progresses more and more badly against her. The ship is boarded by enemy troopers, and the Captain is forced to initiate a self destruct sequence. Even at the moment of destruction, The Donnager's captain expresses disbelief that defeat was even possible.
    • In a moment of frustration and anger, Alex makes the mistake of getting physical with Amos, who easily overpowers him. It doesn't turn into a real fight, but Amos makes damn sure Alex knows it is a very bad idea to pick one with him.
    Amos: I don't want to fight you, Alex. Please don't make me. 'Cause if we do, who's going to fly the ship?
  • Cutting the Knot: The Rocinante is held in place by docking clamps and none of the codes the crew knows works. Alex gets around this problem by breaking off some clamps through sheer force and then simply jettisoning the fake gas tanks the remaining clamps were holding onto.
    Alex: You are a gunship and I am a Navy pilot, so... to hell with this "gas-hauler" bullshit!
  • Cyanide Pill: The Belter smuggler subjected to gravity torture on Earth uses gravity itself as this by wrestling out of his gravity-coping treatment during his multi-g transit to Luna, thus avoiding further interrogation and proving it wasn't going to work no matter how long they left him on those hooks.
  • Cyber Punk: With a bit more emphasis on the "punk" than the "cyber".
  • The Cynic: Miller.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Anderson Dawes's Ill Girl of a sister Athena didn't just die, Dawes himself had to kill her to save the rest of the family, including his three other sisters.
  • Da Chief: Captain Shaddid of Star Helix Security is a female example.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • It's stated multiple times that anyone who signs up as crew for a ship like the Canterbury is probably running from something in their past. Holden left Earth because, "everything I loved was dying," and the UN Navy because he didn't want to be an oppressor. Alex is a washed-up divorcee, Shed is hiding from debts to drug dealers, and Naomi has some kind of OPA affiliation but doesn't believe in causes.
    • Miller's badly-fused vertebrae are described as the mark of a ward of the state who was given cheap medication as a child, and he later tells Holden he and Sematimba were Street Urchins who stole chips from pachinko parlors and joined Law Enforcement, Inc. Star Helix to hand out beatings instead of taking them.
    • Amos is secretive about his rough background on Earth. In Season 3, a reporter accuses him of being a former gangster who took someone else's identity at the age of 17 before leaving Earth.
    • During his time as a UN Marine colonel, OPA leader Fred Johnson destroyed a station full of Belter mutineers and their children even though they were trying to surrender, earning himself the epithet "The Butcher of Anderson Station".
  • Darker and Edgier: The novels are by no means all fluffy bunnies and sunshine, but the show definitely takes a darker interpretation of the material.
  • Dark Reprise: A much more somber version of the main theme plays over the montage that ends "Immolation". Ironically, this was the first episode to air after Syfy announced the series' cancellation, which makes the sequence far sadder than was intended.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Octavia cites this as a common form of rebellion, implicitly from personal experience.
  • David vs. Goliath: In "Doors and Corners", the crew has to outfight the stealth ship that both outsizes and outguns the Rocinante to protect two Boarding Pods attempting to breach the station the ship is protecting. It takes some fancy maneuvering around the station's habitat ring, the Rocinante takes a decent beating, and they lose a pod when the station reveals it has a functioning anti-asteroid gun, but they manage to disable both the stealth ship and the station's defences.
  • Dead All Along: The civilzation that built the protomolecule and the ring network turns out to have been wiped out by an unknown party long ago.
  • Deadly Euphemism: In "Windmills", Errinwright activates a black-ops team to "take Holden off the board."
  • Dead Man Switch: A rain of shrapnel damages the last of the massive explosive charges being planted by Miller and Diogo in "Godspeed", triggering the 60-second timer and forcing someone to hold their finger on a reset button to keep it from detonating. Naomi offers to remotely shut it down, but since they're short on time, Miller decides to stay behind and detonate it himself. Events conspire to keep him from having to go through with it... at least immediately.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Miller.
      • When asked why he wears his distinctive Cool Hat, Miller claims "It keeps the rain off my head," which would be snarky even if he wasn't a lifelong inhabitant of an artificial biosphere who's never even experienced rain.
      • When told that the bomb he's holding the Dead Man Switch on needs extra work to disarm in "Home", Miller remarks, "Yep, my bomb has to be special," and once the plan changes he declares, "I'm gonna take my pet nuke for a walk."
    • In "The Big Empty", Naomi doesn't take well to everyone's hesitation: "I'm sorry, does anyone need a back rub first?"
    • Exasperated by her overbearing security detail in "Windmills", Avasarala declares, "No, I wasn't murdered in the last 30 seconds."
  • Death by Adaptation: Sematimba, Admiral Souther, Cotyar, Tilly, and Diogo all bite the dust, unlike their (less prominent) novel counterparts.
  • Death Glare: Holden gives Naomi one when she locks him out of control of the Knight's so he can't chase stupidly after an extremely dangerous ship in "The Big Empty".
  • Death of a Child:
    • In the backstory in "Back To the Butcher", the station nuked to bits by Fred Johnson had entire families on board, and there's a shot of a dead father holding his daughter's corpse as they float through space.
    • In the Season 1 finale "Leviathan Wakes", the entire population of Eros station is consumed by the protomolecule, which is implied to include a little girl Naomi couldn't convince to leave the station with her.
  • Deal with the Devil: Naomi worries they're doing this by accepting Fred Johnson's invitation in "Back to the Butcher".
  • Decontamination Chamber: The Roci's airlock doubles as one in "Salvage".
  • Decoy Protagonist: Julie Mao has all the potential to be a main character but turns up dead instead.
  • Defector from Decadence:
    • Despite her father being one of the wealthiest men in the System, Julie Mao is fundamentally committed to opposing the Inner Planets' oppression of the Belt.
    • In the eleven years since he blew up Anderson Station, Fred Johnson has transitioned from a colonel of UN Space Marines into a leader of the OPA. His reasons fit the trope even more once "Doors and Corners" reveals his nickname and reputation are based on a lie: Anderson Station's transmissions were being jammed the entire time, and he had no idea they had surrendered.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: While threatening the Martians in "The Monster and the Rocket", Holden warns them that "this is our only, and final, warning".
  • Designer Babies: Reasonably common, since Lt. Lopez describes Holden as such like it's a mundane fact in "Remember the Cant", though their dialogue implies a "full genetic mix" from eight people is more peculiar.
  • Detonation Moon: The Martians destroy the Saturnine moon Phoebe to keep Earth from investigating it first. In retaliation, Earth blows up Deimos, the smaller of Mars' two moons, reasoning that the base there is lightly staffed and of little strategic significance. Avasarala and Souther protest that this will seriously piss off the Martians, but are overruled.
  • Deuteragonist: Holden and Miller bear the brunt of the storytelling together, with a Avasarala and others providing a Third Line, Some Waiting.
  • Died Standing Up: Due to a combination of magnetic boots and lack of gravity, most people killed on a spaceship tend to be left floating in a standing position, which makes hallways full of bodies that much creepier.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Holden's initial reaction to the loss of the Canterbury is to chase down the enemy ship, never remembering he's in a leaky lifeboat. The others have to restrain him until he calms down.
    • Solomon Epstein, inventor of the Epstein drive which all current spaceships use, was tinkering with his prototype and disabled the voice recognition software because it was acting up (mainly because he didn't speak Chinese). Doing this killed him, because once he started up the drive, the g-forces pinned him to his seat, preventing him from shutting it off.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Star Helix is the closest thing to law on Ceres, but is generally accepted to care more about profits than the law, and even Miller is not averse to bribes and brutality. Later, their chief, Captain Shaddid, is revealed to be working for OPA boss Anderson Dawes when she fires Miller to cover up what Julie Mao was doing for the OPA.
    • CPM is even worse than Star Helix. The majority of their officers are former gang members, and are easily bought by the Private Military Contractors working for The Conspiracy, showing no remorse in exposing the citizens of Eros to the protomolecule and lethal radiation.
  • Disability Immunity: The children Protogen kidnapped from Ganymede possess a rare genetic defect that inhibits the growth of the protomolecule, keeping it from asserting its own will as it does in everything else it infects. However, this resistance isn't perfect, ultimately only slowing the transformation.
  • Disappeared Dad: Alex is one to his son.
  • Disappearing Bullets:
    • In "Leviathan Wakes," Amos shoots Sematimba, spattering Naomi with blood from the exit wound, but the bulkhead and panels next to her are unscathed.
    • In "Doors and Corners," members of Miller's boarding party surround a group of Protogen scientists using a strange computer interface in a small room. When they react violently to being disconnected from it, the Belters panic and mow them down with full-automatic fire. As in, guys standing in a circle facing inward spray bullets at other guys in the middle, with their own guys just a few feet behind the targets. Miraculously, they manage to avoid friendly fire, though Miller cringes and tries to get them to hold fire. Played somewhat for dark humor, as Miller is clearly herding cats as he tries to lead the eager but inexperienced OPA fighters.
  • Disposable Sex Worker:
    • Inverted in "Dulcinea" when a brothel patron killed by some other thugs is simply disposed of while Miller gently reassures the sex worker witness Gia, who goes on to become a minor character via Platonic Prostitution with Havelock.
    • Also inverted in "Rock Bottom" when Amos makes a point of telling a male prostitute that a potential patron is packing a knife.
  • Disposable Vagrant: The Conspiracy behind the protomolecule seem to consider all Belters this, since they infect the entire population of Eros with the protomolecule just to see what happens.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Anderson Dawes has a prominent scar on his neck where a faulty EVA suit caused electrical burns. It's shared by a generation of older Belters including founding members of the OPA, and later generations (including Naomi) have similar marks tattooed on their necks as a sign of solidarity or allegiance.
  • Distress Call: Holden's storyline in "Dulcinea" centres around the Canterbury receiving one from a ship called Scopuli. Captain McDowell tries to pretend they never received it until Holden secretly logs it officially, leaving them legally required to respond.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The OPA monogram is a circular O containing an A that's jagged enough to also pass for a P... kinda like some versions of the Anarchist A.
    • The cry of "Remember the Cant!" deliberately echoes "Remember the Maine!", another ship who's destruction triggered a war.
    • The stencil of Holden used by OPA members bares more than a little resemblance to the famous stencil of Che Guevara. Indeed Holden is mythologized as a freedom fighter and/or terrorist just like Guevara, even though Holden has no real political agenda.
    • As aggressively nationalistic as they are, as much as they look down on Earthers and Belters, as much as they insist that they are the future of Mankind, you could be forgiven for expecting the Martian Marines to start goose-stepping at any time.
  • Domed Hometown:
    • Martians live under domes.
    • Ganymede is the breadbasket of the Belt, and features large greenhouse domes that use enormous orbital mirrors to provide sufficient light.
  • Doomed Hometown: The Canterbury gets destroyed in the first episode, soon after Captain McDowell points out that it's effectively been Holden's home for the last five years.
  • Double Tap: When Miller shoots Dresden in the head, he follows it up with a couple more after the man has hit the floor just to make sure.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Former soldiers Holden and Fred Johnson agree on the need to return Lt. Lopez's body to Mars in "Rock Bottom".
    • Anderson Dawes describes leaving his dead little sister in a bauxite cave they found together.
    • Miller gives his old friend Sematimba a Burial in Space near the end of "Safe".
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Lampshaded. "Dulcinea" is literally the title of the series premiere, and in it Joe Miller develops a fascination with his subject Julie Mao, and to a lesser extent James Holden (an avid Cervantes fan) wants more from his Friend with Benefits Ade Nygaard.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: In Season 1, the UN Secretary-General is an Invisible President so Undersecretary-General Sadavir Errinwright is the de facto ruler of Earth. However, this turns out to be Early Installment Weirdness since the Secretary-General is introduced in Season 2.
  • Dramatic Irony: The audience knows Kenzo is Avasarala's spy from the moment he first appears on screen, but Holden doesn't realize it until he betrays them on Eros two episodes later.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting:
    • The embracing bodies of a father and daughter get this treatment after the destruction of Anderson Station in the titular sequence in "Back to The Butcher".
    • Asteroid Miner Mateo leaves his nephew Diogo this way in "Rock Bottom", instead of taking him on his Suicide Attack.
    • Much like in "Back to the Butcher", this is used in "Pyre" to emphasize the horror of some Belters having some innocent Earthers and Martians Thrown Out the Airlock.
  • Drawing Straws: In "Home", Avasarala immediately proposes a lottery system for evacuating Earth.
  • Dream Intro: The second episode opens with a dream that Jim has of the time he met his recently-deceased girlfriend while he was actually dozing off for a brief moment.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Although they sometimes display good camaraderie, Bobbie Draper spends at lot of her screen-time shouting angrily at her squad and having hawkish disagreements with her superior.
  • Driven to Suicide: The Belter smuggler who commits suicide during his transfer from Earth to Luna to avoid further interrogation using Earth's own gravity as his Cyanide Pill.
  • Driving Question: As in any good mystery story.
    • "Who destroyed the Canterbury?" and "What happened to Julie Mao?" in Season 1.
  • Dressing as the Enemy:
    • Alex spends several episodes wearing an MCRN uniform, which is justified since he is ex-Martian Navy and wearing the uniform while piloting an obvious MCRN vessel to Tycho Station would allay suspicions if they were hailed.
    • Holden and Miller swipe the uniforms of a pair of guards they kill on Eros so they can avoid trouble from other patrols.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In "Paradigm Shift", Alex catches Amos "fixing" the Martian flag on the Roci (painting out Deimos, which the UN destroyed two episodes prior). He's far from amused, since seventeen Martians died in that event and Mars lost a significant cultural icon.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Holden chooses to force the Canterbury to investigate a Distress Call rather than ignore it, which he knows will cost them their punctual delivery bonus.
  • Dying Alone:
    • In "Critical Mass", we learn Julie Mao died a horrific, agonizing death all alone in a dark hotel room as The Virus ate them from the inside out.
    • Subverted in "Godspeed" when Miller is all set to do this, even turning off his radio so he can listen to the protomolecule's babbling broadcast in peace, until events conspire to keep him alive.
    • Solomon Epstein is unable to call for help after becoming immobilized by a high-g burn, and winds up dying in his chair when he suffers a stroke as a result.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first episode features a man who is extremely tall and fragile due to being raised in low gravity. The episode implies that this is not uncommon, but no other such character is ever seen again. While in the book, everyone raised outside of Earth's high gravity is very tall, the show's Pragmatic Adaptation does away with this detail.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Both Mars and the Belt see themselves as independent of the home planet, and Mars is in many ways more technologically advanced, but most educated people are pretty sure they aren't yet sustainable without certain resources from Earth.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Overpopulation, urban sprawl, and climate change lead Frank DeGraaf to proclaim that, "We had a garden, and we paved it."
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The opening credits use the Statue of Liberty to show rising sea levels on Earth. Then a new facility is constructed to raise it back to sea level.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The protomolecule. In its first appearance it's squishy and cephalopodic Meat Moss surrounded by occult blue bio-luminescent spores that runs on Human Resources. Then "Critical Mass" proves it's also infectious via Mutagenic Goo, and by "Leviathan Wakes" it has full-on Combat Tentacles and can arrange its spores into a humanoid shape.
  • Electronic Eyes: The corporate spy Kenzo has one that's featured in several POV shots in Season 1.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump: This is standard procedure when facing Space Pirates given Holden's excited plea for Canterbury to eject its load of ice when attacked in "Dulcinea".
  • Empty Chair Memorial: In "Home", the crew of the Rocinante pour Ganymede gin and raise a glass toward the empty chair where Miller once sat.
  • Empty Quiver: When Earth launches half their nuclear arsenal to stop Eros, circumstances require them to hand over guidance to Fred Johnson. When the nukes prove unnecessary and Earth sends the abort codes to detonate them, Johnson manages to save and appropriate nearly 30 as an insurance policy.
  • Enemy Mine: In "Static", Avasarala reaches out to Fred Johnson, hoping he has solid proof of the conspiracy which he'd be willing to share. He transmits back the location of the derelict stealth ship which his team disabled in the previous episode.
  • Energy Absorption: The protomolecule feeds on energy, as shown in "Salvage" when it's found wrapped around a deactivated reactor, and in "Critical Mass" when Julie Mao smashes all her electronics in an attempt to slow its infection of her.
  • The Engineer: Naomi and Amos' role on the Canterbury and the Rocinante.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: The series premiere, "Dulcinea", show off two of them:
    • The Establishing Shot of Ceres Station begins with ships in orbit before using everything from ventilation shafts to public transit to progresses continuously from floor to ceiling down through the docks, the wealthy district, and the working-class districts before finally emerging from the ceiling of the slummy marketplace at the very heart of the planet, thereby establishing not only the station's layout, but that "down" is out and gravity influences property value.
    • Aboard the Canterbury, Holden has a Walk and Talk with Naomi and Amos that carries them down a hallway from just outside the galley, into an elevator, up several levels, down another hallway, and onto the bridge where Holden starts up another conversation with Alex in a single take that lasts for over a minute.
  • Escape Pod: Knight is technically a shuttle with other primary uses (like investigating a Distress Call 20,000 km out), but it serves this purpose for Holden's crew in "The Big Empty".
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Holden's decision to log the Scopuli's distress signal, committing the Canterbury to a dangerous rescue mission even though it could easily be a pirate trap, establishes him as the resident Knight In Sour Armor.
    • Avasarala is introduced tickling her grandson before hopping on a transport to oversee the Cold-Blooded Torture of a tech smuggler, establishing her pretty solidly as a pragmatic anti-hero.
    • Fred Johnson's first direct meeting with Holden consists of him effortlessly Sherlock Scanning his way through Holden's bluff of having half a platoon of pissed off Martian marines on the Rocinante.
  • Establishing Shot: Used frequently, along with a Title In.
  • Eureka Moment: Going through the data-broker's workshop Miller spots a half-constructed robotic gerbil and immediately tears out of the room. It turns out Julie Mao hid secret data from the broker inside a similar device.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Deep down, Jules-Pierre Mao does on some level love his daughter Julie.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Played With by Anderson Dawes, who professes disgust at Filat Kothari's ambush of Havelock and offers the man's hiding location to Miller, but however real his revulsion might be what he's really looking for is leverage over Miller.
  • Everybody Knew Already: When Holden and Naomi reveal their relationship to Amos and Alex, they cheer and groan respectively. Both had long since figured it out and were betting on when it started, a bet Alex lost.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Anderson Dawes believes this and probes for Miller's. He's quite disappointed when Miller doesn't take up his offer of Filat Kothari's whereabouts.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Dresden, again. As he explains in "Doors and Corners", he sees the protomolecule as the key to humanity's future, as it could allow all humans to adapt to any environment, even hard vacuum. Therefore, he sees every horrible act he's committed as merely the price of progress.
  • Evolving Credits: Starting in season 2, the credits change to reflect in-universe developments such as the destruction of Deimos, the departure of the Nauvoo from Tycho Station, and the protomolecule spreading across Venus.
  • Exact Words: Faced with "unequivocal" orders that "under no circumstance" is he to let Phoebe Station fall into UNN hands, Lt. Sutton opts to destroy the entire moon rather than waste his marines' lives contesting it.
  • The Exile: In "Pyre", Fred Johnson threatens this to Holden when he chooses to head for Ganymede to destroy the new source of protomolecule that has popped up. Holden isn't deterred, partly because Fred may very well no longer be in command of Tycho Station by the time Holden gets back.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: Polyamorous marriages aren't considered unusual. Holden has eight parents (five fathers, three mothers) since he was conceived from a mixture of all eight genetic profiles, though it's implied such marriages also produce naturally-conceived children with two "true" parents even though the others are given equal consideration as parents. Again, the series hasn't yet explored whether Holden's parents really are polyamorous or are just using every trick at their disposal to keep the government from seizing their land.
  • Expanded States of America: Montana is said to be located in the North American Trade Zone, presumably an expanded union of the USA, Canada and Mexico. It makes sense, given that Earth is essentially united in a One World Order run by the UN, that individual countries no longer have the same sovereignty they once did.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Miller has this reaction to meeting Holden.
    Miller: Half the system thinks your some kind of outlaw hero, but you're really kind of clueless, aren't you?
  • Eye Scream: Not that they're alive to feel it, but victims of the protomolecule tend to sprout crystalline structures from their eyes.

    F-H 
  • Facial Markings: Some OPA operatives have distinct facial tattoos to show which specific faction they belong to.
  • Fainting: Holden passes out during the escape from the Donnager, which is justified in that they are going really fast without Inertial Dampening and only Alex the pilot is shown getting his coping drugs.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Sutton has a fantastic one as things devolve into chaos, remarking "I can't believe we're doing this" in reflection of his belief about the pointlessness of war.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: How Holden's crew find themselves in possession of a badass Martian space frigate. Bonus points for Alex having to pilot their Die or Fly escape while still groggy from a sedative he took to conserve oxygen earlier.
  • False Flag Operation: By the end of "Remember the Cant", Earth and Mars agree the destruction of the Canterbury was one meant to start a war between them, with the OPA as the primary suspects. OPA leader Fred Johnson, however, doesn't know any more about the incident than they do, and in "Leviathan Wakes" it's revealed the real culprit is a mysterious faction from Earth so secret that only the highest levels of government even know it exists.
  • Famed In-Story:
    • The Belter smuggler interrogated in "The Big Empty" knows who Avasarala is and says he's heard "many interesting tales" about her.
    • Holden becomes this after his face is put on the placards and graffiti of the "Remember the Cant" protests across the Belt. Amos snarkily offers to rearrange his face for him.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Jim, there's something you should know..." — Ade Nygaard.
    • "Trust me, we're all going to be just fi—" — Shed Garvey.
    • "I didn't think we could lose." — Capt. Theresa Yao.
    • "It would have been nice to see an ocean on Mars." — Lt. Lopez.
  • Fan Disservice: Julie Mao crawling around naked is the opposite of sexy since she's covered in lesions from The Virus eating her alive.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Aboard Ceres Station, the ruling class from Earth lives and works in clean, spacious environs with hydroponic parks and the most Centrifugal Gravity. The Belter middle class live in more crowded areas but still have a simulated sky and reasonable gravity. The poorest Belters live the furthest down, which is slummy and cave-like with relatively little gravity.
  • Fantastic Racism: Earthers vs Martians vs Belters, each with their own derogatory terms. Though all still human, each faction has been separated long enough that there are distinct physical and cultural differences. Fred Johnson puts it best: "Our language has changed, the things we care about have changed, even our bodies have changed. We look upon each other as different, and we've grown to hate each other for that."
    • Belter nationalists deeply resent anyone from the Inner Planets as imperialist oppressors and have derogatory terms like welwala for Category Traitors like Miller who admire, emulate, or work for them.
    • Earthers are effectively Heavyworlders simply because there are no heavier gravities than Earth. They have an intense attachment to land, especially land they've grown up on; this is a result of the 20th century's environmental damage, and the following two centuries they've spent repairing it. The common belief is that Earth is the only "real" planet and the rest of the system exists to support it.
      Chrisjen Avasarala: Earth must come first.
    • Martians have adapted to a lower-oxygen breathing mix, and are more resistant to radiation due to Mars' lack of an atmosphere. They are equally obsessed with the terraformation of Mars; as a result, they have an almost fascistic dedication to their government and chains of command, being willing to die without a second thought if ordered to. They also consider themselves superior to those who live on Earth, given that they have had to work and dedicate their whole lives to make their planet even mildly liveable, and deplore both Earthers laissez-faire attitudes and the fact that they receive "handouts" and "free drugs" to cope with their "aimless" lives.
      Franklin DeGraaf: ...an entire culture dedicated to a common goal, working together as one to turn a lifeless rock into a garden.
    • Belters have long, thin bones due to lack of gravity, numerous ailments due to inconsistent nutrition, and a fraction of the lifespans of Earthers or Dusters. They are 110% focused on survival - space is such an unforgiving environment that everyone who wasn't obsessed to that extent is long dead. This means they are for most intents and purposes Human Aliens. An Earther newcomer is bewildered by the riots triggered by the destruction of the Canterbury, but Miller is ambivalent — it doesn't matter if they didn't need it at that precise moment, someone fucked with their water supplies and that means someone is getting Thrown Out the Airlock.
      Miller: Belters don't take the long view when you screw with basic resources. That water was future air, propellant mass, and potables for us. We have no sense of humor about that shit.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix:
    • Earther and Martian warships use N for Navy instead of S for Ship in their acronyms, creating UNN (United Nations Navy) and MCRN (Mars Congressional Republic Navy) rather than UNS and MCRS.
    • The Mormon colony ship Nauvoo is prefixed LDSS (presumably for Latter Day Saints Ship).
  • Fantastic Slurs:
    • "Long Bone" and "Skinny" are used as insults against Belters because of their much longer but weaker bone structure caused by childhoods spent in low-g. Boomerang Bigot Miller is the first character to use both.
    • Martians are known derisively as "Dusters" for the aridness of their home-world, though Bobbie Draper freely calls a fellow Martian "one of the toughest Dusters I've served with" in "Static". The term "Mickie" is also thrown around in reference to Martian Navy personnel, likely derived from the first two letters of MCRN.
    • Belters derisively refer to people from Earth and Mars collectively as "Inners" or "Inyalowda", and any fellow Belter who supports, imitates, or shows interest in them as a "welwala."
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Despite all his talk about Just Following Orders and the Roci crew's decision to not simply have him Thrown Out the Airlock, Kenzo doesn't hesitate to reveal their location to his employers at the first opportunity.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Subverted by Alex Kamal, who's still going strong despite treasuring a physical photograph of his family in a world where nearly all photographs are solely digital.
  • The Fatalist: Amos, when he talks about "the Churn":
    Amos: When the jungle tears itself down and builds itself into something new guys like you and me, we end up dead; doesn't really mean anything. Or we happen to live through it. Well, that doesn't mean anything either.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Fred Johnson is plainly apprehensive for his troops when preparing for battle in "Doors and Corners".
    • Lieutenant Sutton aborts his Martian marines' mission to land on Phoebe when he realizes Earth will get there first with ten times as many troops, not wanting to sacrifice them needlessly.
  • Faux Affably Evil:
    • Anderson Dawes is soft-spoken, articulate, and publicly prevents an assault on an innocent Martian in the wake of the Canterbury incident, but in private he has no qualms about ignoring Julie Mao's distress call or having Miller kidnapped, tortured, and Thrown Out the Airlock.
    • Jules-Pierre Mao presents himself to the world as a charming captain of industry but secretly has some truly nefarious plans.
  • The Federation: Deconstructed. The United Nations mixes and matches this with People's Republic of Tyranny, being at least partially democratic, and maintaining order on Luna and the Belt, but also having its share of corruption, and being strongly opposed to Belter independence in order to maintain control of the belt's resources, providing plenty of reason for others to see it as The Empire.
  • The Fettered: Holden has the inflexible moral code of a Knight Errant.
  • Fiction 500:
    • Jules-Pierre Mao is the richest man in the solar system.
    • Hillman's family own all the terraforming stations on Mars, and she is mentioned to have a hefty inheritance waiting for her.
  • Fictional Currency. Plastic token have completely replaced paper money, at least out in the Belt.
  • Fight to Survive:
    • The Sinking Ship Scenario in "The Big Empty", which requires a lot of MacGyvering
    • The protagonists' escape from the Apocalypse How on Eros, both Naomi's MacGyvering navigation and Holden and Miller's struggle to reach the Rocinante while also slowly degenerating from radiation poisoning.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Being Locked in a Room during a Sinking Ship Scenario makes the Canterbury survivors somewhat hostile with each other during "The Big Empty", as does Lt. Lopez's interrogation in "Remember the Cant", but they come out the other side as this.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: The Canterbury is destroyed in the premiere. The third episode is even titled "Remember the Cant".
  • Fish out of Water: Havelock, a newly arrived Star Helix employee from Earth, serves as the Naïve Newcomer for all things Belter.
  • Flashback:
    • "Back to the Butcher" has a flashback to a takeover of a mining station by the workers, ending in them being slaughtered by the UN, to establish the backstory of Fred Johnson, "The Butcher" who slaughtered them.
    • "Critical Mass" starts off with a flashback that fills in the remaining gaps in Julie Mao's story up to Holden and Miller's arrival at her apartment on Eros.
    • "Paradigm Shift" goes back 137 years to show how Solomon Epstein created (and lost his life to) the Epstein fusion drive, as a demonstration of how a new technology changes everything going forward.
  • Flechette Storm: The shrapnel from the destruction of the Marasmus rains down on Miller and Diogo in "Godspeed", creating a hole in Miller's suit and damaging the timer on one of the bombs they were setting up.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • Naomi gives Lt. Lopez the "okay" circle that means "asshole" in some real-life countries when he demands to see her hands in "Remember the Cant".
    • Drummer playfully flips off Fred Johnson in "Home" by extending all four fingers with her index and middle finger crossed.
  • Foreign Queasine: Though mushrooms aren't particularly taboo, a Belter technician eating one he found on some grey-water pipes in a maintenance shaft earns a slight sideways glance even from Miller. Lower-class Belters waste nothing.
  • Foreshadowing: The Blue Falcon Hotel's name is a big clue as to what will happen there. See Meaningful Name below.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Subverted in "Rock Bottom" when, after several episodes without mention, Holden and Naomi make toasts To Absent Friends for Shed Garvey and the Martian marines from the Donnager, though not for Ade Nygaard and crew of the Canterbury (who get a subtler And This Is for... in "Salvage" when the crew nukes the Anubis).
  • For Science!: Dresden's main motivation. So much so, in fact, that he's willing to betray his own employers so long as his current captors permit him to continue his research.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: The Rocinante crew:
    • The Optimist: Holden, the charismatic and idealistic leader who doggedly does the right thing.
    • The Realist: Naomi, the caring but practical supporting leader.
    • The Cynic: Amos, the antisocial follower who prioritizes action and survival over discussion and morality.
    • The Apathetic: Alex, the laid-back non-action guy whose real love is just piloting his ship.
  • Freudian Excuse: Holden was conceived specifically to keep the government from seizing his parents' land and so grew up seeing himself as meant to fight injustice.
  • Friends with Benefits: Jim Holden and Ade Nygaard had this kind of arrangement. He wanted it to escalate into a romantic relationship, but she was reluctant to let it do so. This was mooted by her death when the Canterbury was destroyed.
  • From Bad to Worse: The initial adventure of Holden's crew in four words. In four episodes, they survive the destruction of two ships, in between which they have to cope with a Sinking Ship Scenario, imprisonment, interrogation, and infighting.
  • Functional Addict: Miller might very well be The Alcoholic, but it never gets in the way of his job.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Kenzo offers to show the Rocinante crew to a place on Eros that makes "ochre-infused tank-grown ribs".
  • The Future Is Noir: Justified in exterior space and especially powered-down ships, where helmet-mounted lights are the main source of light.
  • Future Slang: Belter speech is full of this, even when they're speaking English rather than full-on Belter Creole.
  • Gaia's Lament: The result of 30+ billion people on Earth. Put most poignantly when Franklin DeGraaf laments that while the Martians are building a garden, "We had a garden, and we paved it."
  • The Gambling Addict: Paj, the ice-hauler who loses in arm in "Dulcinea" is probably one, since his improved investment plan for his upcoming bonus is to avoid his prior mistake of visiting the casino before the brothel and offers to bet on who can load ice faster.
  • Germanic Efficiency: The Martians fit the bill. Their technology is top-notch, their soldiers are stoic and expeditious, and their complex infrastructure is implied to be a marvel. This makes sense for a culture whose only prerequisite is the resolve to commit their lives to turning a lifeless rock into a garden.
  • Gatling Good: Warships continue to use gatling guns for point defense.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Julie Mao's code name is Lionel Polanski.
  • Generation Ships: Said to be the largest and most complex ship ever constructed, the Mormon Church is funding construction of the colossal LDSS Nauvoo, a ship designed to make a 100-year journey to another solar system (the setting's hard sci-fi limits prohibit anything faster) in hopes of colonizing a new world. Since life expectancies commonly exceed 100 years in this setting, many crew members may live to see their destination, but they'll still spend the majority of their lives on the ship.
  • Genius Loci: The protomolecule basically turns a spaceship into this, scaring the hell out of both Julie Mao and Holden's crew. Then it's released on Eros and does the same thing with the entire asteroid.
  • Get Out: The co-pilot of The Weeping Somnambulist yells this at the Roci crew when their attempt to prevent her ship from being hijacked gets her husband killed.
  • The Ghost: The UN Secretary-General is referred to but never shown in Season 1, though this is later subverted when he does show up in Season 2.
  • Ghost Ship:
    • The series' opening scene centres on Julie Mao escaping from a cell to discover a derelict ship inhabited only by empty, floating space suits and an Eldritch Abomination.
    • In the same episode, Holden's crew investigate a Distress Call from the Scopuli, but find no evidence of its crew except one creepy floating helmet. Its reactor is powered down, there's a huge hole in the side, and the Distress Call is actually coming from a module obviously left to draw in an Innocent Bystander.
      Amos: Pirate bait...
    • Holden's crew investigate another one in "Salvage", or rather the same one Julie Mao explored in the premiere.
    • The footage of the interior of the stealth ship defeated by the Rocinante in "Doors and Corners" looks like this when Avasarala sends a drone to investigate it in "Godspeed".
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Errinwright is introduced doing this when chiding Avasarala for using gravity torture.
  • Global Warming: Anthropocentric climate change as a result of Earth supporting thirty billion industrialized humans is more than enough to raise Earth's sea levels several meters, producing changes in global geography.
    • The Statue of Liberty's base is now below sea level, so it — along with Manhattan Island — is surrounded by levees.
    • When Bobbie Draper wants to see the ocean, she's able to reach it without leaving Manhattan since, in the 23rd century, the East River is effectively part of the Atlantic Ocean.
    • The Hamptons is now a separate island from Long Island, and is the location of a UN Black Site.
    • The Yukon is now an archipelago, with the city of Anchorage (where Franklin DeGraaf and his husband later move to) now being situated on an island within it.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Captain Yao scuttles the Donnager once it's clear the ship will be captured.
  • Going Native: Holden is accused of this for being so pro-Belter, though he's actually adopted basically none of their language or culture.
  • Go Look at the Distraction: Anderson Dawes escapes with Cortazar by having Diego fly off in his ship so the Rocinante will give chase, while Dawes and his men escape in a smaller shuttle during the commotion.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The prototype for the engine which allowed feasible interplanetary travel worked so well during its test run that it not only doomed its creator to death by aneurysm from continuous acceleration within minutes, it also rendered the craft unrecoverable - after 37 hours of constant boost at 7 Gs, it's still shooting out of the solar system at 5% of lightspeed.
  • Good Feels Good: Sardonically invoked by Cotyar when discussing whether Chrisjen should turn in Errinwright in for his role in the Eros incident.
    I'd forgotten what it felt to be fighting for the good guys. It's nice. I like it.
  • Good-Guy Bar: Holden's crew has a few drinks in one on Tycho. Moreover, Amos interviews a male prostitute because, "You can tell a lot about a place by how they treat their people," and ascertains the place is this trope because the answer is, "Better than most."
  • Good People Have Good Sex: According to Ade, Holden is "entirely too good" at sex.
  • Good Samaritan:
    • Why Holden logs the Distress Call that forces the Canterbury to investigate the Scopuli.
    • The Marasmus contains a crew of these who came to Eros to try to provide medical and humanitarian aid in "Godspeed". It gets them all killed when they learn of the protomolecule and Holden reluctantly blows up their ship to keep them from talking.
  • Good Shepherd: Miller meets a Mormon one on the transport to Eros.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Conspiracy includes UN Deputy Undersecretary Sadavir Errinwright.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Lt. Lopez mentions "free drugs" as part of the decadent welfare state on Earth.
  • Godzilla Threshold: In "It Reaches Out", having been framed for a crime they didn't commit and finding themselves on the business end of weapons by two different fleets, Holden orders Alex to fly the Roci into the Ring, counting on the decelerating field to stop the missile just fired at them while the ship does a hard burn at the last moment to keep them from being turned into paste.
  • Grammar Nazi: Kenzo is mildly annoyed that Amos thinks "Anubis" is pronounced "An-you-bis".
  • Gravity Screw: In "Dandelion Sky", after Bobby's commander throws a grenade inside the alien space station at the heart of the slow zone, the station retaliates by suspending him above the ground, disassembling the commander's body, and then using his mass to repair the damage done by the grenade. It then adjusts the slow zone to a fraction of what it previously was, causing every ship within the slow zone to suddenly halt, killing hundreds and critically injuring many more from the massive g-forces.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Double Subverted. Dresden believes that someone deliberately steered Phoebe (and the protomolecule) into the solar system to wipe out Earth-based life, and that they will likely return to finish the job someday. He's right that it was sent by an intelligence, but wrong about the rest: those guys just wanted to create another Ring for their Portal Network, but now they're all dead, and it's hinted that whatever killed them may become a threat to humanity in the future.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: In "Here There Be Dragons", a grenade is tossed through a door at the Roci crew. Amos instantly screams "Grenade!", scoops it up, pitches it back through the door, then slams it shut and ducks for cover. The grenade ends up releasing the protomolecule creature that was being held in the room, which proceeds to kill pretty much every one of the aggressors save a scientist, who remains alive just long enough to explain how karmic the whole thing was before bleeding out. The creature escapes through an airlock.
  • Guile Hero: Being a Badass Bureaucrat means Avasarala can get her way in just about anything with just a conversation or two.
  • Guttural Growler: Avasarala of course has Shohreh Aghdashloo's trademark rasp, and Chad L. Coleman adds noticeable gravel to his already husky voice to portray Fred Johnson.
  • Had To Be Sharp: There's little room in the Belt for weakness, as Anderson Dawes' deceased sister could tell you.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Miller lives, acts, and even dresses like one in his dark coat and trilby hat.
  • Hates Small Talk: Holden's mother Elise and Avasarala have this exchange in "Windmills":
    Elise: Can we stop with the bullshit, now?
    Avasarala: Oh, I had a little left about how charming your home is.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: A non-fatal example when Captain Shaddid asks this of Miller regarding the secret files he found in Julie Mao's apartment; after confirming he hasn't, she reveals she's working for the OPA, confiscates the files, and fires him.
  • Heavy Worlder: Earthers, by virtue of the fact humanity has yet to colonize a celestial body with higher gravity. This is most pronounced in the case of Bobbie, an elite Martian Marine who is accounted as the best fighter of all the main cast, but as a native Martian she can barely walk on arrival to Earth. The trade-off is that Earthers also require more food and oxygen.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In "Cascade", Errinwright goes to Avasarala and confesses his involvement with Jules-Pierre Mao, providing plenty of evidence, all because between Eros and the apparent Super Soldiers on Ganymede, things have gone too far beyond what he was expecting when he signed up to the conspiracy.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • Holden blows up a Good Samaritan medical ship which had come to provide assistance to Eros, only to learn of the protomolecule and intend to spill the beans to the entire system. Holden feared that more ships would come and inadvertently spread the protomolecule, and the medical ship had already lost a man due to their ill-advised attempt to help.
    • Cotyar kills Theo the electrician to keep Avasarala's location a secret, as he doesn't believe Theo would keep his mouth shut if the UNN put effort into making him talk. Admiral Nguyen even lampshades it, noting that Theo looked like the kind of guy who would talk, as opposed to the tight-lipped Cotyar.
  • Hell Hole Prison: Alex mentions "breaking big rocks into little ones on Olympus Mons" as a likely punishment for not co-operating with the crew of the Donnager in "Remember the Cant".
  • The Hero: Holden, though his Hero Complex often only causes more trouble in this Crapsack World.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.:
    • Holden has a brief one in "Dulcinea" when the Canterbury is destroyed.
    • Miller suffers one upon finding the mutated body of Julie Mao and loses his moral compass for a while afterward, shooting a guard in the guts to use him as a ploy to get past other guards.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Deconstructed - The rest of the Canterbury crew clearly find Amos' capacity for violence TERRIFYING, and only the fact that they are in a life-or-death situation and NEED him (as well as being scared) stop them from calling him out. As the series continues, it reveals more on more of his upbringing, which includes possibly being a victim of, but definitely witnessing, child prostitution and forced prostitution of adults. Amos himself understands that his mind does not function the same way as most peoples', and he realizes how detrimental this can be and takes measures to work around his limitations, such as relying on his friends for a moral compass. When they meet a character who has had brain surgery to remove his empathy, he is the only one able to understand his motivations well enough to interrogate him, and afterward quizzes him about whether the process might be reversible, and spirals into a depression when the answer is "no".
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The Martian marines battle the unknown Boarding Party to get Holden's crew to a shuttle so they can escape to Bring News Back. Only Lt. Lopez even makes it to the ship, and he dies from his wounds shortly after.
    • Subverted with Miller in "Godspeed", when he stays behind to man a Dead Man Switch until the Nauvoo rams Eros, only for the protomolecule to cause the asteroid to dodge the incoming ship.
    • Played Straight in "Home" when Miller stays on Eros to talk Julie—who's become the central brain of the protomolecule's Genius Loci—into hitting Venus instead of Earth by allowing himself to be infected and riding the asteroid down.
    • In order to maintain a target lock, the Rocinante crew agrees to do a very hard burn to keep Eros in visual range, fully knowing this will eventually create g-forces strong enough to kill them, though in the end it's subverted when an alternative presents itself and they can slow down before that happens.
  • Herr Doktor: He lacks the accent, but you don't name your Mad Scientist "Dresden" without this in mind.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Anderson Dawes shows off his in "Rock Bottom".
    • Errinwright supported The Conspiracy through some pretty nefarious stuff when it was developing a bio-weapon that could tip the Balance of Power in Earth's favour, but when events in "Home" turn it into a threat against Earth itself he has a serious freak-out.
      Errinwright: You call yourself "a man of the System", but I'm not: Earth is my home, so whenever you're ready I'd really appreciate it if you'd make a fucking appearance and rein in your goddamn science experiment!
    • Zig-zagged when Amos suddenly notes that a crushed muscle can result in fatal potassium poisoning. That's some detailed medical knowledge for such a bruiser, but Prax immediately notes that it's information about "hurting people."
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge:
    • Subverted in "Dulcinea" when Holden's crew attempts to do this by ducking behind an the nearby asteroid, but it turns out the torpedo wasn't actually aiming for them.
    • In "Godspeed", this is done on an asteroid-sized scale when the protomolecule manages to make the whole of Eros dodge the incoming Nauvoo.
  • Hired Guns: The Conspiracy recruits gang members from other stations to work as these for CPM on Eros.
  • History Repeats: Colonies crave independence - and will do anything to get it.
    • The Space Cold War between Earth and Mars has many parallels with the 20th century Cold War between the USA (Earth) and the USSR (Mars). The Vesta Blockade nearly caused a shooting war decades ago, much like the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The conspiracy found the protomolecule and unleashed it on Eros to discover its purpose and hopefully harness it for their own. Instead, they gave the protomolecule the means to get back to its mission, as it is able to push Eros out of orbit and aim it at Earth.
    • When caught by the Rocinante crew, other members of The Conspiracy try to dispose of them via grenade. Amos immediately tosses it back at them allowing one of their protomolecule experiments to escape and slaughter them all.
  • Hollywood Healing: The cast frequently suffer from grievous injuries and diseases, including cancer, that are brushed off in an episode or two due to advanced medical technology.
  • Honey Trap: Miller accuses Gia of being this in "Back to the Butcher". She's not and responds by yelling "Fuck you!" in Belter Creole.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Gia, the Belter prostitute Havelock visits to learn more about Belter culture and language. She even visits him in the hospital after he's wounded taking it on himself to patrol her district during the riots. She doesn't take it well when Miller mocks them and accuses her of being a Honey Trap.
  • Hope Spot: Someone picked up the Knight's signal! Oh wait, it's a Martian battleship, presumably coming to finish the job their stealth ship started.
  • A House Divided: Holden's crew don't exactly see eye-to-eye during their desperate situation in "The Big Empty", leading to some tense moments including Amos holding a gun to Holden's head. They get along much better afterward.
  • How We Got Here: The first half of "Critical Mass" is devoted to catching the audience up on what's been happening to Julie Mao all season.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: In "Home", it's revealed that Julie Mao's consciousness became the keystone of protomolecule's Genius Loci on Eros. Miller even muses, "The protomolecule infected her; what if she infected the protomolecule back?"
  • Human Resources:
    • The coroner Miller deals with on Ceres implies that most people who die on Belter stations are recycled as fertilizer unless they have contrary religious directives on file.
    • The entire population of Eros are turned into this for the protomolecule in "Leviathan Wakes".
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Miller resignedly declares, "The stars are better off without us," after detailing his plan to "commandeer" the Generation Ship that constitutes humanity's first attempt at interstellar travel.
  • Human Shield: Amos puts Alex in a choke-hold and proposes using him as this when he accuses Naomi in "Remember the Cant".
  • Hurl It into the Sun:
    • Understandably uncomfortable with storing the protomolecule sample in the container from the Anubis on their ship, Amos suggests they use a missile to fire it into the sun. Naomi vetoes the idea, as the sample may prove useful in formulating a vaccine. As a compromise, they instead stick it in a missile with proximity sensors and leave it free-floating at an abandoned asteroid mine, far from anyone who might think to look for it or even stumble upon it.
    • Miller gets the idea to use the Nauvoo to ram Eros and push it into the sun. It probably would have worked, had the protomolecule not constructed engines on Eros to push the asteroid out of its orbit and straight at Earth.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Comes in drug form for Martian interrogators.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Inside the ring is a hyperspace bubble that stops anything moving above a certain speed, potentially lethally for the crew, destroys anything that breaches the bubble except at the ring, and has a strange construct in the center which draws things toward it. Then we learn something is living in there, and it wiped out the civilization that made the ring.
  • Hypocrite: Jules-Pierre Mao. His daughter Julie calls him on it in a message found in "The Big Empty". He proves it beyond a doubt in "Critical Mass" when he wipes away a tear for his dead daughter, then immediately orders the same Mutagenic Goo that killed her injected into thousands of people.

    I-N 
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Amos feels this way about, "Bombs away!" in "Godspeed".
  • I Choose to Stay: In "Here There Be Dragons", Naomi chooses to stay on Ganymede to help people escape before its inevitable collapse. Amos joins her, while Holden, Prax, and Alex go hunting for the protomolecule creature that was made there.
  • Iconic Item: Miller's trilby hat.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: every season finale is a Title Drop to whichever book that season was dramatizing.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Miller to Julie at the end of "Home".
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: How Miller feels after finding Julie's body in "Salvage".
  • Ill Girl: In "Rock Bottom", Anderson Dawes describes his deceased sister Athena as ultimately getting too ill to even travel.
  • Imaginary Friend: Miller starts hallucinating about Julie Mao in "Leviathan Wakes". While at the time this could be seen as a side effect of the radiation poisoning he's suffering, the hallucinations continue into Season 2.
  • Immigrant Patriotism:
    • Fred Johnson is an Earther who's taken up the Belters' cause as a major OPA leader.
    • Travis is a Martian marine who immigrated to the red planet from Earth when he was 5.
  • Imminent Danger Clue: Amos notices Kenzo's restlessness and the suspicious bystanders in the lobby of the Blue Falcon and begins slowly reaching for his gun. When Kenzo runs for it, a full-on gunfight breaks out.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Some angry Belter thugs shoot Havelock through the chest with a piece of rebar in "Remember the Cant". Thanks to advanced medicine, he gets better.
  • Important Haircut: Miller shaves off his Beard of Sorrow and gives himself a more Belter-style haircut in "Static".
  • Improvised Microgravity Maneuvering: When the Donnager's engines cut out and leave them free-floating in "CQB", Holden quickly tethers himself to Naomi and kicks off her to get down to engage his mag-boots and pull her back down as well, all while under fire from the enemy Boarding Party.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Naomi jokingly chides Miller for being "weird and chatty under pressure" just like Holden while Holden is right beside her. He just smiles.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: Holden notes that accepting a promotion to XO of the Canterbury would mean he'd have to stop fraternizing with navigator Ade Nygaard, even though it's a civilian ice trawler and the ship's captain doesn't seem particularly concerned about it.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: The protomolecule infection starts out like this.
  • Indy Ploy: Holden's crew basically make everything up as they go.
    Prax: Are your plans always this vague?
    Amos: This is about average.
  • Inertial Dampening:
    • There is none. Ships' engines are powerful enough that they can cruise at 12- or 13-g and accelerate up to 15- or even 20-g. In order to help cope, crews and passengers have to strap into crash couches, put on mouth guards, and be fed large doses of "acceleration drugs". But no matter how many precautions people take, blood vessels will start popping at high enough g and the drugs are lethal once you pass a certain dosage level.
    • Lampshaded and discussed when the protomolecule is able to accelerate Eros at a rate beyond what any human can survive while maintaining such a stable internal gravity that Miller is amazed that he's unable to even feel it.
    • In Season 3 a ship flying through the protomolecule Ring is stopped dead and the pilot is reduced to a smear on the windshield and a partial ribcage sticking out of his harness.
  • Information Wants to Be Free:
    • Holden believes this, and so broadcasts an account of his crew's travails at the end of "The Big Empty" as insurance against the Martian navy simply making them disappear, over everyone else's strenuous objections, which has the unintended consequence of sparking major anti-Inner violence on Ceres.
    • Miller ridicules Holden for this belief in "Godspeed": "Well, I guess we could just broadcast everything we know, and wait for Earth, Mars, and the OPA to all rally together and start singing "Kumbaya" and do the right thing." Then near the end of the episode, Holden himself is forced to destroy a ship of Good Samaritans who refuse to respect the quarantine and information blackout around Eros on these grounds, even after he identifies himself in an attempt to prove he knows where they're coming from.
    • Holden tries to makes this case again after the Eros situation is dealt with, but Fred Johnson talks him out of it because all three sides are looking for an advantage and none of them are particularly interested in peace right now.
  • Innocent Bystander:
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Space suit helmets have lighting strips around the actors' faces.
  • Inspirational Martyr: Diogo elevates Miller to this status for the OPA at the beginning of "Paradigm Shift".
  • Instant Death Bullet: Sematimba gets one courtesy of Amos in "Leviathan Wakes".
  • Insult of Endearment: Holden just smiles affectionately when Naomi accuses him of being "weird and chatty under pressure."
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Miller and Diogo, albeit a rather odd one.
  • Internal Reveal: Subverted in "The Big Empty" when Naomi nixes Holden's attempt to come clean about logging the distress call. He eventually does make the reveal in "Rock Bottom".
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Holden and Ade's Zero-G Spot sex is interrupted by the return of gravity and an intercom call for Holden to report for duty.
  • ...In That Order: "On any other day this discussion would get us shot for treason then thrown into a lunatic asylum."
  • Intoxication Ensues: Played With when Alex's hypoxia manifests like drunken ramblings. Truth in Television if this demonstration of actual hypoxia is anything to go by.
  • In Vino Veritas: Amos and Alex open up more about themselves over drinks on Tycho Station.
  • Irony:
    • The various "I'm not going," and, "I don't want to be here," statements in "Dulcinea" given that only the crew of the Knight survive the destruction of the Canterbury.
    • Holden was conceived by combining DNA from 8 parents so he could inherit sole rights to all of their respective properties, but the beginning of the second season reveals that a massive radiation dose has left him sterile.
  • Irrational Hatred: The Belters in charge of the refugee ship in "Pyre" space all the Earth- and Mars-born refugees because, "Inners wreck Ganymede." Because clearly these dirty, frightened refugees are to blame.
  • Irrevocable Order: The hybrid pods can't be stopped once they're launched, though their course can be altered.
  • I Should Have Been Better:
    • Naomi tells Amos she could've been a nicer person in "CQB" and decides she should've done more to save the people of Eros in "Leviathan Wakes".
      Naomi: We saved a few; we should have saved more.
      Holden: We will.
    • Alex spends "Static" angsting over his failure to protect one of the Boarding Pods in the previous episode, as well as how they should have saved more people from Eros. He channels this into obsessive training using a simulated recreation of the battle.
      Alex: Point is, next time I'm gonna save them all.
  • It Can Think: The protomolecule is able to imitate people with glowing spores, which suggests an emerging intelligence. Then it's discovered that the protomolecule has somehow built engines into Eros and is directing the asteroid at Earth, presumably to finish the task it was sent for. In season 3, Katoa, who has been infected by the protomolecule and is able to access its Hive Mind, mentions something called "the work" and indicates it will soon be ready.
  • It Gets Easier: Lampshaded by Naomi in "Cascade", who notes that every morally dubious thing they rationalize to themselves only makes doing the next one that much easier.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Miller essentially tells Octavia this when she's struggling with killing two people to be his Big Damn Hero in "Rock Bottom".
  • I Told You So: Avasarala can't resist noting that it's a good thing Errinwright's assassin's failed to kill Holden when the Rocinante become central to saving Earth in "Home".
  • It's Personal:
    • When Errinwright questions whether Avasarala's taking an investigation into the OPA personally because they caused her son's death, she puts those concerns to rest by confirming, "Your damn right it's personal."
    • Holden clearly has more on his mind than bio-hazard containment when he orders the Anubis destroyed.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: In "Salvage", Holden opts to destroy the Anubis from a safe distance rather than risk letting the Eldritch Abomination on board fall into the hands of the UN, the Martians, or the OPA.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
    • Earth's gravity is used to torture native Belters, who are such Light Worlders that they struggle to even breathe, let alone move, under the pressure.
    • When Bobbie Draper wants answers from the MCRN chaplain, she just beats the crap out of him until he shows her what she wants to see.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: After angrily telling Miller to get off Tycho Station, Fred Johnson has to concede that the former detective was right to kill Dresden, as the scientist was beginning to convince them that they should keep studying the protomolecule.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Miller is very abrasive and cynical, but has more limits than some and occasionally shows a gentler side.
    • Amos is a violent man who claims to have a Lack of Empathy, but he frequently shows a moral compass and a desire to be a better person.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: The Rocinante has an automated engineering system that aggravates Naomi in "Back to the Butcher" because, "There's nothing to fix!"
  • Jump Scare:
    • There are a couple of times the characters are startled by an empty spacesuit or helmet floating in zero-g.
    • Holden gets grabbed by a wounded member of the Boarding Party he mistook for dead in "CQB".
  • Just a Kid: Diogo is considered this by Miller and acts a lot like the New Meat while storming Thoth Station.
  • Just in Time:
    • The Rocinante crew manage to get to the secret codes just in time to call off the MCRN Scipio Africanus in "Windmills".
    • Holden and Miller make it to the Rocinante in time in "Leviathan Wakes'', though Amos notes that the Auto Doc keeps switching to palliative care.
  • Just Following Orders: Kenzo describes himself as "just a guy trying to do my job" when the Roci crew catch him sabotaging their ship in "Windmills".
  • Karma Houdini: Defied by Miller. He kills Dresden because he accurately assessed that Dresden would be able to talk himself out of punishment under the circumstances.
  • Kill It with Fire: This seems to be the only reliable way to destroy the protomolecule. Usually in the form of a nuclear explosion. In "Here There Be Dragons", Holden uses an incinerator to vaporize a protomolecule-infected child. And in "Caliban's War" Alex roasts a hybrid with the Roci's fusion drive.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    • Ade Nygaard is blown up along with the rest of the ship right after saying, "Jim, there's something you should know."
    • Shed Garvey is trying to calm down a panicking crew mate when his head is taken off by a railgun projectile.
    • Dresden was about to say something more when Miller's bullet takes him in the forehead in "Doors and Corners".
  • Kill Sat: Earth has five Rail Gun satellites in orbit which can destroy a starship in one shot using a heavy bullet which breaks apart into a buckshot-like spread of shrapnel that will shred anything it hits. The drawback is that the targets have to be close enough for the target to be unable to change position/course before the round hits, as there's no way to change the projectile's course once it's fired. In season 3, these satellites are used to destroy Mars' planet killer ships.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Hand-held firearms haven't changed much by the 23rd century, and warships like the Donnager rely on nuclear-warhead torpedoes and Rail Guns for ship-to-ship combat.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Miller is extremely bitter and cynical, but also committed to a strong sense of justice. He is in many ways a futuristic descendent of film noir detectives such as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.
  • Knowledge Broker: Miller finds out the dead guy who met with Julie Mao was a "data broker", and eventually he finds out this data broker sold Julie info on what happened on Phoebe Station, which set off the whole plot.
  • Lack of Empathy:
    • Cortazar, the sole survivor of the raid on the secret facility observing the protomolecule's consumption of Eros, was purposefully given this by Protogen to make him a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate. It also makes him really hard to interrogate. Scary part; it's based on a real technology.
      Holden: So someone waves a magnet at the right side of my head, and suddenly I can watch 100,000 people die in agony and not give a shit?
    • Amos has emotional detachment as a result of childhood abuse, and so cares little for anyone outside of his social circle. This makes him just the right man to know how Cortazar thinks and how to get him talking. Intriguingly, he's rather unhappy with his condition; he follows Naomi and Holden because he recognizes they have functioning moral compasses, and when he hears that Cortazar's condition is artificial, his first thought is to ask if it's reversible in an awkward manner that implies hope that his own condition could be healed.
  • La Résistance: How the OPA see themselves.
  • Large Ham: Diogo becomes this after joining the OPA in Season 2.
  • The Last DJ: Holden got dishonourably discharged from the UN Navy for swinging at an immoral superior, and has since been in self-imposed exile in the Belt. As he himself describes it, "I stopped playing."
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Holden and Miller are referred to as "Holden" and "Miller" far more often than "Jim" and "Joe", which is justified by the Mildly Military nature of being a ship's officer and a police detective.
    • Likewise, for Havelock and Capt. Shaddid of Star Helix and Capt. McDowell of the Canterbury.
    • Soldiers such as the Martian marines correctly use this along with ranks. Lt. Lopez's first name in particular is unknown.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Just one season in and it's kinda hard to discuss the show without mentioning the protomolecule.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: Policing on Belter stations is in the hands of private contractors, with efficiency rates ranging from "at least trying" to "just another gang".
    • "Star Helix Security" serves this function on Ceres, and while it's common knowledge that their superiors care more about profit margins, individual members like Miller, Octavia, and Havelock all care somewhat about actual protecting and serving.
      Miller: No laws on Ceres, just cops.
    • "CPM", responsible for security on Eros, is much worse and has recently recruited actual gang members from other stations to fill its ranks as Private Military Contractors.
  • The Lancer: Naomi Nagata is always there to tell Holden when he's wrong, and provides a pragmatic female Belter foil to Holden's idealistic male Earther.
  • The Leader: Holden.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Discussed and averted when Rocinante's crew finds Anubis. Amos says, "I kinda want to blast it." Alex softly replies, "Easy, partner. These things tend to shoot back."
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: In "Critical Mass", Holden and Miller go off to find out what's happening while the rest of the crew start heading back to the Rocinante to prepare for takeoff.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: Several of Julie Mao's online dating matches in "The Big Empty" use this in their greetings.
  • Libertarians IN SPACE!: The Belters are a hard-hitting Deconstruction of this; the no-margin-for-error conditions of deep space have produced that bizarre combination of civic pride and steadfast independence prized by this philosophy; Belters instinctively look out for each other and don't go crying to the authorities when something breaks, they fix it — by any means necessary — as it happens. However, the nasty side of this is that they're prone to vigilantism; heroic actions like aiding in the assault on Thoth Station, grey actions such as the summary murder of administrators who won't keep the air filters clean, and villainous ones such the indiscriminate spacing of "Inner" refugees.
    Miller: When I was homicide, there was this guy. Property management specialist working a contract out of Luna. Someone burned half his skin off and dropped him out an airlock. Turned out he was responsible for maintenance on sixty holes up on level thirty. Lousy neighborhood. He’d been cutting corners. Hadn’t replaced the air filters in three months. There was mold growing in three of the units. And you know what we found after that? Not a goddamn thing, because we stopped looking. Some people need to die, and he was one. And the next guy that took the job cleaned the ducting and swapped the filters on schedule.
  • Light Worlder:
    • Ceres is artificially "spun up" to maintain a Mars-normal Centrifugal Gravity of 0.3g, but most Belters never experience anything stronger and the poorest of them spend their lives as "rock-hoppers", moving from asteroid to asteroid hoping to harvest enough to make a living. This leaves them with long, brittle bones and other adverse health effects unless they can afford costly supplements to assist bone and muscle development, and there's no guarantee the supplements will even work properly, as shown by the spurs on Miller's spine from "cheap bone-density juice." As such, subjecting Belters to even 1.0g is considered Cold-Blooded Torture.
    • Growing up under only 0.3g leaves Martians with a significantly lower body-mass and physical strength than Earthers, but also makes them more oxygen efficient. Avasarala notes with apprehension that this doesn't stop their Space Marines from training at a full 1.0g. Even so, when a Martian delegation has to visit Earth, all of them need to take daily doses of drugs designed to supplement bone growth, blood flow, and respiratory function to cope with the gravity, and they're severely disoriented upon arrival.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Parodied when Jim and Naomi disclose their romantic relationship to the other two members of their crew. Jim was especially worried that Amos, who blindly follows Naomi's every word, might take issue. However, Amos assures him that Naomi is like a sister to him before immediately noting that he'd still have sex with her given the opportunity. Jim just has this brilliant "wtf?" expression on his face.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Holden took a job as a Space Trucker on an ice-hauler because of this. When he's offered a Rank Up to executive officer, he adamantly refuses.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Holden's crew only wear their Pur-n-Kleen coveralls before slapping on Beratnas Gas patches on top of the Pur-n-Kleen logos halfway through Season 1. Holden himself is shown wearing a Pur-n-Kleen t-shirt as far as Season 2 finale.
  • Living Lie Detector: Lt. Lopez takes a drug before each session that makes him hyper-aware of the micro-expressions of those he interrogates in "Remember the Cant".
  • Living MacGuffin: Julie Mao is primarily the focus of the missing persons case Miller is determined to solve, at least until the beginning of "Critical Mass" spends roughly half the episode filling in How We Got Here to give her more characterization.
  • Locked in a Room:
    • The cramped quarters of the Knight and their desperate situation in "The Big Empty" forces the Canterbury survivors to work together despite their minor animosities.
    • Miller and Holden spend some time bonding while taking cover in a pachinko parlor in "Leviathan Wakes".
  • The Lost Lenore:
    • Subverted by Ade Nygaard, who has the potential to be one, but ends up closer to Forgotten Fallen Friend.
    • Julie Mao seems to have become a Dulcinea-style one for Miller in "Leviathan Wakes", as he starts hallucinating about her.
  • Lovable Coward: Shed Garvey is slightly Adorkable and unabashedly has no interest in any Call to Adventure such as exploring the Ghost Ship Scopuli.
    Shed: Well: we came, we looked, we... uh... left.
  • Love Before First Sight: Miller develops this for Julie Mao, despite Dawes' declaration that she'd spit in his face if they actually met. When they do meet, he declares his love for her and they kiss before dying in each other's arms, but by that point he's no longer a representive of the institution she hated. And she's no longer really human, for that matter.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: In "Delta-V," Maneo flies through the Ring so fast that when it activates and stops his ship, his entire skeleton flies out of his body and splatters against his windshield, leaving nothing but an unrecognizable shredded mess in his seat.
  • Lured into a Trap: The Canterbury when it answers a Distress Call in "Dulcinea".
  • MacGyvering: Naomi is an expert at this, whether it's repairing ships with minimal supplies or using a bit of dirt to measure Centrifugal Gravity to navigate a station build inside an asteroid.
    Lt. Lopez: Based on the desperate condition of your shuttle it clearly required extraordinary improvisational expertise for you and your crew members simply to survive let alone repair your antenna array.
  • Made of Plasticine: The ice incident in "Dulcinea" shouldn't have severed Paj's hand like that. Even a mauled hand would’ve been a more likely outcome than a clean cut like that.
  • Madness Mantra: Holden finds the Canterbury's XO muttering names of flowers to himself in his cabin.
  • Mad Scientist: Dresden; Miller even calls him one in "Godspeed".
  • Magic Antidote: Miller and Holden spend "Leviathan Wakes" in a race against time to get to the Rocinante's "radiation meds", which consists of a few minutes hooked to an Auto Doc that looks like a fancy blood-pressure cuff, though this gets downplayed in the next episode when they require repeated treatments and are still left permanently infertile and in need of lifelong medication (to be administered via an implant) to ward off future cancers.
  • Magnetic Weapons: The Donnager has turret-mounted railguns while the stealth ships have spinal-mount railguns, and are apparently the smallest ships to have them.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: During the shootout in Season 2 finale, Cotyar doesn't notice he's been shot in the stomach until Bobbi points it out to him.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • Captain Shaddid implies no questions will be asked if her officers find the attempted Cop Killer Filat Kothari:
      Shaddid: If he resists take him down, if he runs shoot him, and if he "accidentally" falls out an airlock... that's life.
    • Errinwright notes that even blatantly gunning down Holden's crew will pass for "random street violence" on Eros because of it's astronomic murder rate.
  • Mars Needs Water: Earth is the last place they're trying to take it from, but the Martians are hoping to create an ocean as part of their Terraforming, so they're taking tons of the stuff from the frontiers of the system, putting them in contention with the Belters who need that water just to survive. The riots in "Remember the Cant" are sparked by the destruction of an ice-hauler. The OPA speaker in the pilot claims that Earth and Mars have stripped away Ceres' sub-crustal seas, which in real life is bigger than the Earth's supply of fresh water (200 million cubic kilometers).
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Hillman is mentioned to have over 40 brothers and sisters. However, she is from a very wealthy family that owns the entirety of Mars' terraforming equipment, so it is likely they are able to be supported. It's implied that Martians are encouraged to procreate but that Hillman's family is an outlier.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The UN War Room does this in "Home" when they learn Eros is on a collision course with Earth.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When asked who he was guarding, one of Dresden's thugs answers, "The scientist? He was a scientist." Miller isn't amused.
  • Mauve Shirt:
    • Ade Nygaard and Captain McDowell are killed as part of the Doomed Hometown in the series premiere, "Dulcinea".
    • Shed Garvey, Capt. Yao, and Lt. Lopez all die in the Space Battle in just the fourth episode, "CQB".
    • Julie Mao ultimately turns out to be this.
    • Bobbie Draper's whole squad, plus her CO up in orbit get built up just to be wiped out when the shooting starts on Ganymede.
  • Meaningful Echo: Julie's line, "you can't take the Razorback", is repeated during her final scene with Miller, and spoken as a frightened refusal to stop flying toward Earth. Before this, the line is a boast about being unable to catch the Razorback in a race.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Events on Eros are centered (literally and figuratively) around the Blue Falcon Hotel. "Blue Falcon" is the US Military's "polite company code phrase" for buddy-fucker. Sure enough, Kenzo deliberately leads Holden's crew into an ambush by a UN wetwork team, which only fails due to Amos's Sherlock Scan and Miller's Big Damn Heroes moment. Then they discover that, after barely surviving an operation that went horribly wrong and still trying to complete her mission, Julie Mao was abandoned and left to die alone upstairs by Dawes and the OPA.
    • At the end of "Leviathan Wakes", Dresden orders all the information from Eros transmitted to Thoth Station, named after the Ancient Egyptian god of wisdom (the one with the ibis head).
    • "Marasmus" is a medical term for severe malnutrition and therefore a fitting (if rather morbid) name for a ship full of Good Samaritans seeking to bring humanitarian aid to Eros in "Godspeed".
  • Meaningful Rename: In "Back to the Butcher", the gunship Tachi becomes the Rocinante (after Don Quixote's horse), but only after rejecting "Screaming Firehawk" and "Flying Alamo".
  • The Medic: Shed Garvey.
  • Mega Corp.: Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile, to a ridiculous degree; Jules-Pierre Mao owns the entire thing, and his daughter Julie is described as "the richest bachelorette in the System." The entire "protomolecule" plot - the research station on Phoebe, the fleet of stealth ships, the Eros incident, the secret observation post staffed with surgically apathetic researchers, even the protomolecule-enhanced Super Soldiers - was just a sideline of Protogen, which represents just one third of one percent of MKM's revenue.
    Chrisjen Avasarala: So, these "rogue" employees managed to make a profit and a war without even going over budget? God, maybe we should get these people on our payroll.
    • Deconstructed in that things have gone so far beyond the Moral Event Horizon that Avasarala is ready to torpedo her newly-enriched career taking down the entire company and family if they don't deliver JPM's head on a silver platter:
      Chrisjen Avasarala: Please let them know that if they can’t… I will rain hellfire down on them all. I will freeze their assets. Cancel their contracts. Cripple their business. And I have the power to do it, because I am the fucking hero who helped save Mother Earth from the cataclysm that Jules-Pierre Mao unleashed.
      Tell his children that government is more powerful than any corporation. And the only reason they think it tilts the other way is because we poor, public servants are always looking for some fat, private-sectors payoff down the road. But I’m not looking. And by the time they can pull the strings to force me out, it’ll be too late. Their family will be ruined. Their mother, the children, their children, all of them, pariahs! Outlaws! Hunted and on the run for the rest of their days until we find them, and nail each and every last one to the wall.
      Make sure you tell them that.
  • The Metric System Is Here to Stay: Distances are usually measured in kilometers ("klicks").
  • Mexican Standoff: Holden and Fred Johnson have a metaphorical one in "Rock Bottom", with Holden even noting that they both "have a gun to each other's head".
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: In the second season, Julie Mao gains control over the protomolecule infesting Eros, but is confused by her new situation and thinks she's back on her old racing ship. She starts flying the asteroid to Earth out of a desire to go home (not knowing that the impact would kill billions), and keeps accelerating when the crew of the Rocinante almost kill themselves trying to keep up with her, as she thinks it's a friendly race. Miller is eventually able to convince her to divert course to Venus, which is still uninhabited.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Invoked quite literally by Dresden. When confronted with the massacre he helped orchestrate, Dresden cites Genghis Khan killing or displacing a quarter of the global population to forge his great empire, which by 23rd Century terms would be 8 billion people (just on Earth). He considers 100,000 "hardly a rounding error" by comparison, and believes the benefits of his work will justify the atrocity.
  • Miranda Rights: Holden attempts to invoke these as a Martian marine shoves him roughly into a holding cell in "Remember the Cant".
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe. According to his mother, Holden loved Don Quixote growing up, but never figured out it was a tragedy. Of course, given the immense Applicability of Cervantes' work, Holden isn't necessarily wrong.
  • The Missionary: Though based on Earth, the Mormons have a large and active presence in the solar system, with missionaries at least as far out as Ceres.
  • Mission Control: As the pilot, Alex often stays on the Rocinante and fulfills this role.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: Holden's crew is assumed to be OPA terrorists by the crew of the Donnager. Played With in that ethnically Middle Eastern Alex Kamal is the one treated to a shower and clean clothes because he's ex-Martian Navy while his companions are imprisoned and interrogated.
  • Mister Big: Captain Yao of the Donnager is noticeably shorter than Holden even when she's standing on a raised platform, but she's absolutely in charge of their conversation and her massive warship.
  • The Modest Orgasm: Ade Nygaard during her introduction scene with Holden.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Level 4 — One Big Lie, in this case the Applied Phlebotinum of a fusion drive that allows Casual Interplanetary Travel... and of course the Eldritch Abomination that is the protomolecule.
    • Interplanetary travel is common thanks to the Epstein fusion drive allowing constant thrust, reducing interplanetary travel times from years to weeks, but a lack of Inertial Dampening restricts maximum acceleration to what the crew can bear. Faster-than-light flight is impossible, requiring a Generation Ship for interstellar travel, the first of which is under construction.
    • Artificial gravity is only possible aboard spaceships when the engines are providing thrust, pushing the deck "up" against the crew. Therefore, ships are structured like buildings, with decks oriented so that "down" is toward the engines, against the direction of thrust. When engines are shut off, crews must use magnetic boots to keep from floating.
    • Spaceships also avert Space Is Air by generally avoiding Old-School Dogfighting, using attitude thrusters for fine-tuned maneuvers like docking, and generally looking more like towers than anything aerodynamic.
    • Spaceships can execute tight turns at speed, but without Inertial Dampening the g-forces are potentially deadly to both ships and their crews, requiring crews to strap themselves into special seats, wear mouth guards, and be fed special intravenous drugs in order to cope with the otherwise lethal amounts of force on their bodies.
    • Glasses have to be held a good distance away when pouring on a dwarf planet like Ceres because of changes in gravity and the Coriolis effect, with a differential that causes the middle-class Miller to spill slightly when pouring in wealthier, more earth-like districts of Ceres. Likewise, the elliptical spin of the asteroid-station Eros allows Naomi to navigate by observing falling dust particles.
    • Medical technology, at least on the Inner Planets, has advanced to the point where severed body parts can be completely regrown with a special gel. Belters have to make do with prosthetics with force feedback and heat and pressure sensors (if their company health plan covers it).
    • Unlike artificially accelerated astral bodies like Ceres and Eros, Tycho Station is composed of rotating wheels that use centripetal acceleration to provide artificial gravity to its inhabitants while still maintaining zero-g work environments for building projects like the LDSS Nauvoo.
    • The show thumbs its nose at the fables of Explosive Decompression and Space Is Cold when the Asteroid Miner Mateo opens his helmet in the vacuum of space for a few seconds to take out a detonator he'd been storing in there. If anything the show depicts it as safer than reality.
    • Ships suffering Explosions in Space correctly disappear in a blinding flash followed by an accurate spherical explosion (albeit slowed down for visibility), often with nary a flame or Planar Shockwave to be seen.
    • Firearms using chemical combustion are used in the vacuum of space. This would work perfectly fine, since gunpowder and similar explosives use oxygen already chemically bound in the substance to fuel the combustion, and they do not require oxygen in the surrounding atmosphere.
  • Mole in Charge: Sadavir Errinwright is a high-ranking UN official, and also a key member of The Conspiracy.
  • Momma's Boy: Holden technically has three mothers, but Elise carried him to term and urged him to get free from Earth, and he still kept in contact with her every month or two until the start of the series.
  • Mooks: Of course.
  • Morality Pet: Naomi is a combination of this and The Conscience for Amos, since she's basically the only person who can subdue his fury with just words, and he mentions "Naomi wouldn't like it" as his only reason for not doing some pretty heartless things.
  • Motor Mouth: Holden orders Kenzo to shut his word-hole when he becomes this on Eros in "Salvage".
  • Mugging the Monster: The Scopuli was originally trying to hijack the Anubis's secret cargo, assuming it was just some lightly-armed science vessel. Too late do they realize that they've come across an advanced gunship, and the Scopuli is boarded and left derelict in no time flat.
  • Multi-Ethnic Name: Several, sometimes played by actors with equally mixed names.
    • Juliet and Jules-Pierre Mao. Asian characters with Italian and French given names (Bonus points for being played by actors named Florence Faivre and Francois Chau)
    • Naomi Nagata: a black woman with Jewish and Japanese names. (Dominique Tipper herself has a Franco-British name)
    • Dimitri Havelock: a Hispanic man with Russian and Scandinavian names.
    • Captain Theresa Yao of the MCRN Donnager.
    • Alex Kamal.
    • Sadavir Errinwright.
  • Multinational Team: As of the end of Season 1, the Rocinante carries two Earthers (Holden, Amos), two Belters (Miller, Naomi), and a Martian (Alex).
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: The Rocinante inflicts this on the enemy stealth ship at extremely close range in "Doors and Corners", averting Explosions in Space. However, the Roci herself suffers nearly as bad, as Drummer excitedly points out to Alex and Naomi in the next episode.
    Drummer: There's multiple PDC and railgun impacts [...] Oh ho ho, that one just missed puncturing your reactor, see? You guys would have melted, instantly! [...] Wow, if that had gone through to the inner hull your core would have snapped in two. Most ships would have been blown to scrap after that kind of beating!
  • Murder Is the Best Solution:
    • Amos feels this way quite strongly after catching the stowaway Kenzo fiddling with the Rocinante.
    • Errinwright decides in "Windmills" that "taking Holden off the board" is the best option, regardless of the lack of concrete evidence against him.
  • Must Have Caffeine: A minor subplot concerns Holden's quest for a decent cup of coffee. He finally finds a stash aboard the Tachi and indulges himself. His expression says it's Better Than Sex.
  • Mutagenic Goo: How the protomolecule spreads.
  • The Mutiny: In "Triple Point", Admiral Souther mutinies against Fleet Admiral Nguyen when he's given proof of the conspiracy surrounding the protomolecule. He sends a message to the rest of the fleet concerning this before Nguyen's loyalists manage to turn the tables, ending with Souther being shot. The result is a shooting match between the local UNN ships, which prompts Nguyen to launch the protomolecule hybrid pods at Mars to make sure the pods can never be stopped.
    • This can be viewed as Anti-Mutiny, as Nguyen's actions are illegal.
  • Mysterious Past: We learn a fair bit about the rest of Holden's crew, but the only hint at Amos' past in the first season is his enigmatic solidarity with a prostitute in "Rock Bottom" because he grew up familiar with The Oldest Profession, perhaps as the Son of a Whore.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Havelock, an Earther who's new to Ceres, plays The Watson for the first couple episodes.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Fred Johnson is known as "The Butcher of Anderson Station", and Naomi is understandably leery of putting the crew in his hands.
    • Naming a ship Anubis (after the Egyptian god of embalming and the afterlife) seems like you want it to turn into a Ghost Ship.
    • Marasmus is a medical term for extreme malnutrition, and so a rather disturbing name for a ship delivering humanitarian aid.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Alex gives Capt. McDowell the, "You gotta see this," version regarding the Distress Call in "Dulcinea". Since it's just one room over, McDowell doesn't even ask.
  • Never Suicide: Unlike many examples, it's actually entirely plausible Frank DeGraaf would kill himself, but it turns out to be this trope when Avasarala finds hidden files in his office.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: With hundreds of subsidiaries, Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile is the largest corporation in the solar system, capable of financing all of The Conspiracy's protomolecule experiments, as well as a private fleet of stealth ships more advanced than anything Earth or Mars can field.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Holden's broadcast implying Martian responsibility for the destruction of the Canterbury provides the OPA with fodder that provokes deadly riots on Ceres and nearly provokes an interplanetary war.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Zigzagged with Miller, who'll engage in bribery, Police Brutality, and threaten to have guys Thrown Out the Airlock, but also lets Diogo off with a warning after catching him siphoning the governor's water.
  • Nobody Poops:
    • Averted in "Windmills" when Kenzo insists, "You tell whoever's in charge that I have valuable information... and Christ, I've had to pee for like two hours now," and the final scene opens with him following through on this need.
    • Averted again in "Safe" when Naomi says she has to pee while supervising the opening of the safe recovered from the Anubis, and Amos responds that the ability to pee at will is one of the perks of a vac-suit.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Answering a Distress Call is one way to get Lured into a Trap.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner:
    • In "Safe", Mars figures out something is up on Phoebe Research Station, which someone has gone to conspicuous lengths to cleanse of any evidence. When an Earth ship tries to get there first and looks like they'll succeed, the Martian captain blows up the entire moon rather than let them secure it. This works out fine for the conspiracy, which wanted the evidence hidden.
    • Miller kills Dresden, keeping him from aiding anyone in gaining control of the protomolecule.
  • Non-Action Guy: Shed Garvey, the Lovable Coward.
  • No Name Given:
    • The Canterbury's original XO.
    • Avasarala's grandson is credited as "Avasarala's Grandson #1".
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Many corporations and landlords cut corners anywhere they can, including life-support systems and safety equipment, resulting in very unsafe living and working conditions. As Holden notes in "Dulcinea", it's cheaper to settle with a bunch of widows than to overhaul the Canterbury.
    • Many poor Belter entrepreneurs can't afford these things for themselves either, resulting in sometimes even worse conditions on privately-owned ships.
  • No-Paper Future: All personal and professional information and communication is stored on a network accessed by almost incorporeal hand terminals. Anything to be kept off the grid is kept in data chips. Purchases are all made either through electronic transfers or plastic coins. Justified beyond Earth (and perhaps there, too) by the obvious lack of trees. In such a world, it says a lot that Holden's parents keep actual printed books, and that Alex keeps a carbon-copy picture of his family and Miller keeps one of Julie Mao. Franklin De Graaf is positively quaint in his habit of taking notes in a little black notebook with a pencilnote .
  • No Product Safety Standards:
    • Belters who were given cheap hormone boosters as children can have physical deformities as a result. Miller, for instance, has ridges at the top of his spine where the bones didn't fuse properly.
    • Many older Belters like Anderson Dawes have tell-tale scars around their necks where faulty EVA helmets caused electrical burns. Many younger Belters have similar marks tattooed on their necks as a way to show where they come from.
  • No Respect Guy: Downplayed with Fred Johnson, who does command the respect of many but still struggles constantly with OPA members who resent him for being an Earther and The Butcher of Anderson Station.
  • No-Sell: Holden and Johnson are at least somewhat persuaded by Dresden's Motive Rant in "Doors and Corners", but Joe Miller sure isn't.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Unlike most Belters, Miller has a generic American accent and Naomi has a British one. In Miller's case it could be justified as part of his attempts to imitate an Earther. Then again, the belt has lots of inhabited asteroids. They can't all have the same accent.
  • Nothing Personal: Amos tells Kenzo precisely this in "Windmills":
    Amos: I'm not gonna lie to you. Either way this plays out, you're dead, and I'm the one that's gonna bring you the good news. You're a loose end. It's nothing personal.
  • No True Scotsman: In "Godspeed", an OPA operative asks Miller, "How the hell you Belter, never done no space-walk ever?" He replies, "I'm more of a city Belter."
  • Not So Different:
    • The Belter smuggler in "The Big Empty" points this out to Avasarala: "I'm just a citizen of the Belt. I work for the future of my people as you do for yours."
    • Amos says this to Miller after Holden banishes the latter from the Roci in "Static", but he also takes time to explain that he chooses to follow Holden because Holden is one of the few righteous people left.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You:
    • Averted in "Delta-V": when the Ring stops a ship trying to fly through it, the pilot is liquefied by the sudden deceleration. Oddly, his clothing and the ship itself appear to be left undamaged.
    • Happens again in "Fallen World". When the ring's slow zone changes and stops every ship in the vicinity, hundreds are killed by the g-forces involved, and many more are injured.
  • Nuclear Option:
    • Nukes are less taboo in space, and the Colony Drop is implied to have superseded them for planetary damage, but even so Fred Johnson's decision of Cutting the Knot by nuking a Belter station is portrayed as beyond the pale.
    • The UN's only viable option for even attempting to stop Eros from colliding with Earth in "Home" is to launch half of Earth's nuclear arsenal against it, with the second half coming behind to attempt to reduce and sterilize the debris.
  • Number Two: Naomi to Holden.

    O-S 
  • Obligatory War-Crime Scene:
    • The key moment of Fred Johnson's backstory, as shown in "Back to the Butcher".
    • The Belter crew's treatment of the Inner-born refugees from Ganymede in "Pyre".
  • Odd Friendship: The reserved, middle-aged Joe Miller and the extroverted, young Diogo.
  • Office Romance: Builds between Holden and Naomi during Season 1. Notably, it's a large part of why Naomi insists on giving Holden extra time in his Race Against the Clock to get back to the ship in "Leviathan Wakes". It becomes official in the Season 2 premiere "Safe".
  • Official Couple: Holden and Naomi.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The crew of the Donnager when they realize they've underestimated the stealth ships that have advanced torpedoes and railguns.
    • Holden and Naomi's reaction to the protomolecule on the Anubis waking up along with the reactor.
    • Holden's abrupt, "Don't touch anything," at the end of "Salvage" after seeing evidence of the protomolecule.
    • Holden's flat declaration that, "We're dead," after he and Miller are irradiated at the end of "Critical Mass".
    • Naomi, and then Miller and Diogo when they realize debris from the Marasmus is headed straight for the second of Eros where Miller and Diogo are working.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Miller's old to Havelock's young.
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • The series' very first scene is shown again, this time with additional material and context, at the beginning of "Critical Mass".
    • The end of "Paradigm Shift" has Bobbie Draper's squad witness their UN counterparts charging toward them and firing, followed by a communications blackout. Then we cut to her entire squad dead and Bobbie herself just barely alive with a humanoid monster staring down at her. The following episode is then devoted to her using drugs and hypnosis to give her clarity: The UN squad was actually being chased by something that wasn't wearing a vac-suit.
  • One-Product Planet: The moon of Ganymede is a joint Martian/UN farm world, with domed cities devoted to crop production and massive orbital mirrors providing constant sunlight. When an incident there shuts down production, mass starvation becomes a very serious concerns and tensions skyrocket.
  • One-Shot Character:
    • Jonathan Banks plays the XO of the Canterbury, who's ignominiously relieved of duty due to a terrible case of Space Madness in "Dulcinea"and not seen again.
    • Mateo, the Belter Asteroid Miner who goes on a Suicide Attack against the Martians who mistreat him.
  • One Steve Limit: So far nobody shares a name.
  • One-Woman Wail: The score of the full-length title sequence theme is built from this.
  • One World Order: Earth and Mars have both developed these under the United Nations and the Martian Congressional Republic. Both are implied to be at least a bit of a Crapsaccharine World.
    • While the average life expectancy on Earth is up to 123 years, everyone is eligible for some kind of government financial assistance, and agricultural products are taken for granted, Earth is apparently a bloated nanny-state in which having even a square inch of land to call your own is next to impossible unless you're really rich and/or powerful.
    • Mars's culture is driven by the dream of terraforming their world into an Earth-like paradise of fertile lands, blue water, and breathable air, but political and diplomatic setbacks keep delaying progress, so no Martian currently alive will leave to see it work (this despite their life expectancy being even longer than that of Earthers). Almost every Martian seen so far also displays a heavy dose of extra-strength nationalism that comes off as more than a little bit fascist.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: Maintaining actual livestock just isn't cost-effective out in the Belt, giving rise to Artificial Meat and Black Market Produce.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Praxidike "Prax" Meng.
  • Opening Scroll: To establish the basic World Building of the series:
    "In the 23rd Century, humans have colonized the Solar System. The UN controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power. The Inner Planets depend on the resources of the Asteroid Belt. Belters live and work in space. In the Belt, air and water are more precious than gold. For decades, tensions have been rising. Earth, Mars, and the Belt are now on the brink of war. All it will take is a single spark."
  • Open Secret: Holden's relationship with Ade Nygaard. Fraternization isn't allowed aboard the Canterbury, but Holden would find himself in a position requiring him to enforce the rules if he becomes the ship's XO.
  • Open Sesame:
    • People's integrated domestic computers are locked to their voiceprints. Being a cop, Miller can spoof them with his hand terminal to gain access to their files, as he does in Julie Mao's apartment in "The Big Empty".
    • Conversed when Naomi says the Trope Namer as she hacks the Marasmus' airlock in "Godspeed".
  • Organic Technology: If it's able to absorb enough mass, the protomolecule can build engines, Artificial Gravity generators, jamming systems, and even an entire starship entirely from its own bio-material.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: In "Dandelion Sky", Holden experiences a vision of a star exploding and he is completely naked even though he is wearing a space suit outside of the vision.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: "Immolation" has everything come up pretty well for the heroes: the Earth conspiracy is exposed, Jules-Pierre Mao is captured, and Prax's daughter is rescued with the other children. Then things take a massive turn for the worse when the protomolecule on Venus launches a starship.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The protomolecule is something out of speculative science fiction in a hard sci-fi setting. It doesn't behave by any known laws of physics, is capable of evolving given enough biomass to work with, and seems to have knowledge of technology far beyond humanity given its ability to move an entire asteroid with tremendous speed while generating Artificial Gravity and jamming radar. Holden actually Lampshades this in "The Monster And The Rocket";
    "When the European tall ships first arrived on the American continent, the natives couldn't see them. The sight was so completely outside of their experience, it just couldn't compute. So they didn't see."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Tycho Station outfits Rocinante with a new paint job and some gas tanks, but anyone who really looks will be able to tell she's actually a heavily-armed frigate.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Diogo tends to get really riled up over fighting against Earth and Mars.
  • Percussive Maintenance:
    • Naomi has to give the Canterbury's elevator console a slap to make it work... in the midst of reminding Holden of the ship's need for a refit.
    • Holden uses this (with a health dose of Percussive Therapy) to fix their shuttle's transponder in "The Big Empty".
  • Perma-Stubble: Holden, Miller, and Amos all have this.
  • Persecution Flip: There's a vague bit of this when an Earther official on Ceres (who happens to be black) is certain it's Belters illegally siphoning water because, "the criminals here tend to be." As it happens he's correct, but Havelock also has a point when he notes Belters might appreciate the system more if they weren't so marginalized; after all, the official's upset his park has a large patch of dead grass while the punks stealing the water are shown drinking it still dark with mud.
  • Person as Verb: In "Home", Naomi tells Miller, "Hey, don't get all Holden on me: weird and chatty under pressure." Holden himself just smiles.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Avasarala absolutely dotes on her grandson.
      Avasarala: How many times have I told you... this calls for tickling!
    • Amos grew up surrounded by prostitutes, so he goes out of his way to warn one about a potential patron packing a knife in "Rock Bottom".
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: The stealth ships that attack the Donnager are only slightly larger than a corvette, yet extremely well-armed and maneuverable. They even have rail guns, which no other ship their size has. Six of them are able to overwhelm and board the Martian flagship Donnager at a loss of four ships before the Donnager's captain scuttles her own ship to prevent it from being taken, destroying the remaining stealth ships in the process.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Miller does this a few times, including to the thug he captures on Eros in "Critical Mass".
  • Planet of Hats:
    • Earth is a dying society that is trying to hold on as best it can. Other factions consider it to be a planet full of soft and pampered people looking for the next handout. The reality, however, is much more grim.
    • Mars is fiercely militaristic and almost completely united in the goal of terraforming their world and ultimately overtaking Earth as the dominant power in the Solar System.
    • The Belt (mainly seen through Ceres) is solely focused on survival and is dependent on Asteroid Mining and ship building as its major industries.
    • Ganymede is the "bread basket" of the system and is almost exclusively focused on agriculture in order to provide the Belt with food. It also possesses advanced genetics research labs as a result of needing to develop hardier and more productive plant strains.
  • Planet Terra: Now that humanity has truly gone to space, people tend to use the proper name of Earth's moon (Luna) to distinguish it from other moons. Maps of the solar system also use the proper name of the Sun (Sol), but people still refer to it as "the Sun."
  • Platonic Prostitution: Havelock pays for the time he spends with Gia even though she's teaching him about Belter language and culture rather than having sex with him. Cynic that he is, Miller disapproves and even accuses her of being a Honey Trap in "Back to the Butcher".
  • Playing with Syringes: Dresden is introduced literally using syringes to collect samples of Mutagenic Goo, which are then injected into every occupant of Eros Station to spread The Virus.
  • Point Defenseless:
    • Averted in general. Virtually all warships have point defense systems which prove capable of shooting down incoming missiles, so long as the number isn't too great. It's unarmed civilian ships which have to worry about such things.
    • Downplayed in the Donnager's confrontation with the stealth ships. They attempt to use point-defense against a missile barrage fired at the ship, but the torpedoes have Roboteching capability that allows them to outmaneuver the defenses and score hits anyway.
    • Earth has orbiting satellites designed to shoot down missiles. These get put to the test in season 3, where they manage to destroy a large missile barrage heading toward the planet. However, one missile gets through thanks to the concentrated barrage being enough to overwhelm the defenses.
  • Poisonous Friend: Chrisjen Avasarala to Franklin DeGraaf, the UN's ambassador to Mars. Despite being a friend of her late father who's known her since she was a child, her actions result in him losing the trust of the Martians, who revoke his credentials and banish him from the planet, forcing him and his husband to give up their dream of retiring to Mars. Stripped of his pride, he's later implied to have been murdered for investigating the Donnager incident himself, with the situation Avasarala put him in making suicide a plausible cover-up.
  • Police Brutality: Of the Film Noir Wretched Hive type. Miller's no exception; his first act upon entering headquarters in "Dulcinea" is to slam an uncooperative suspect's head into the table at booking.
  • Posthumous Character: Julie Mao ultimately turns out to be this.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: While bonding with the Rocinante crew, Miller makes a quip about Teddy the Detector, a character used to teach Belter children about air filter safety. None of the crew have any idea what he's talking about and Naomi, herself a Belter, says that she must be too young to have been exposed to the character.
  • Portal Network: In the season 3 finale, once the protomolecule station is convinced humanity isn't a threat, it opens all the gates, totaling 1,300 star systems for humanity to explore.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Several through Kenzo's bio-mechanical eye, which has a computer display and can capture and transmit images.
  • Powered Armor: Certain Martian Marine Corps units are issued powered armor. By itself, the Martian suit is shown to be about as strong as a very physically fit individual, thus greatly magnifying the wearer's strength. The training exercise at the start of "Safe" also shows off some of its other goodies, like an Arm Cannon, immunity to bullets, and a guided missile launcher in the backplate. The suit is also shown to require constant maintenance and support staff are required to help a marine put it on. Marines on standby will wait around in their undersuits to save on time in case they are ordered into battle.
  • The Power of Legacy: Mateo was actually rather drunk and abusive to Diogo and his Suicide by Cop with the Scipio Africanus was actually pretty pointless, but Diogo later lionizes him as "a hero who die fighting the Inners."
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In the novels, all native Belters — including Joe Miller and Naomi Nagata — are unnaturally tall and skinny. Early Installment Weirdness has a bit character portrayed this way, but casting exclusively for this appearance would be very restrictive, and the CGI and amounts of makeup would eat up the budget, so the physical dimorphism ultimately takes a backseat to other visual and audible clues like tattoos, costuming, and Belter Creole.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Avasarala's exclamation, "Shit!" in "Windmills" is a decent substitute.
    • When Admiral Nguyen ducks Avasarala's questions about Martian intentions by arguing the communications delay means they can't afford to wait in "Doors and Corners", Avasarala responds, "I know how the fucking thing works."
    • In "Static", when Johnson sends Avasarala the co-ordinates of a derelict stealth ship, her response is an awed "What the fuck is this?"
    • Amos' reaction to the Wham Shot of "Godspeed" is a disbelieving "What. the. fuck?"
    • Avasarala in "Paradigm Shift", when she threatens to tear apart the Mao family if they don't hand over Jules-Pierre:
      "And I can do it, because I'm the fucking hero who saved Mother Earth from the cataclysm Jules-Pierre Mao unleashed!"
    • In "Caliban's War", when the crew of the Rocinante realize that the protomolecule soldier is trying to get through to their reactor:
    Alex: If it breaks through the bulkhead-
    Amos: We're pretty much fucked.
  • Precursors: If Dresden is indeed right that the protomolecule was sent, then it must have been sent by a race of these. The Investigator confirms that another species was responsible for the prototmolecule, but now they're gone and their strange technology is all that remains.
  • Present Company Excluded: "Screw the Inners and their magic Jell-O! No offence, Holden."
  • Pretext for War: The destruction of the Canterbury very nearly becomes one until Avasarala is able to ease tensions by proving Mars had nothing to do with it.
  • Prevent the War: Avasarala's overall quest, especially in "Remember the Cant", and ultimately her rationalization for the underhanded methods she resorts to in order to succeed.
  • Previously On: Helps with the Continuity Lockout. Season 2 even starts off with Miller adding an Opening Narration to fill in the uninitiated.
  • Primal Fear: The lonely emptiness of space and the possibility of being consumed by The Virus are two major sources of tension in the story.
  • Prison Episode: "Remember the Cant" sees Holden's crew locked up and interrogated by the Martian Navy.
  • Private Military Contractors: The Rocinante crew, in a sense, since they're the only technically unaffiliated military-grade frigate in the system, though they've so far co-operated quite closely with Fred Johnson and the OPA.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Bobbie Draper gives one to the MCRN chaplain in "Here There Be Dragons".
    Bobbie: WHAT! KILLED! MY! TEAM?!
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Havelock doesn't appear again after Miller visits him in the hospital in "Back to the Butcher". Presumably he's still recovering.
    • Everyone else on Ceres, particularly Octavia Muss and Anderson Dawes, drops out of the story when Miller departs for Eros, though Dawes comes back by travelling to Tycho in Season 2.
    • Avasarala sends her husband Arjun and the rest of her family away to Luna in "Leviathan Wakes" to protect them from her enemies.
  • Putting on the Reich: There's something vaguely Fascist or perhaps Soviet about the Martian uniforms with their stiff collars, blackish colour, and red epaulettes.
  • Quality Vs Quantity: Errinwright and Avasarala discuss this in regards to a potential war between Earth and Mars. Errinwright is confident that their older, more numerous fleet is more than capable of handling the newer and slightly more advanced Martian fleet. Avasarala isn't convinced the conflict would be that simple.
  • Quizzical Tilt: The man-imitating protomolecule spores give Kenzo one of these in "Leviathan Wakes".
  • Race Against the Clock: Miller and Holden have a two-fold one in "Leviathan Wakes": make it back to the Rocinante before they die of radiation poisoning and before the ship leaves them behind.
  • Race Lift: Ade Tukunbo was Nigerian in the books; Ade Nygaard is white in the show. In doing so, the show avoids the "black dude dies first" implications of her being just a mauve shirt.
  • Rail Gun: Standard armament for military spacecraft.
  • Ramming Always Works: Portrayed semi-realistically in "Godspeed" when the protagonists launch the Generation Ship Nauvoo like a massive bullet to ram the protomolecule-infested Eros and Hurl It into the Sun. Since they're aiming for an astral body with a known orbit, all they have to do is crunch the numbers. Then the protomolecule stages a High-Speed Missile Dodge.
  • Real Is Brown: Or in this case, muted blue-grey. Most scenes aboard ships or stations have a heavy blue filter. The main exceptions are the bright sunlight of Earth, the minimal light of exterior space, the pale yellow of industrial areas, and the vibrant red-brown of Ceres' market district.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • As Deputy Undersecretary, Avasarala is two steps from the top job on Earth, Luna, and by extension the Belt, and her number one concern is maintaining peace and stability.
    • After it becomes clear Holden and his crew are not to blame for anything, Capt. Yao of the Donnager carefully listens to him and takes every available step to ensure he lives to Bring News Back.
    • OPA leader Fred Johnson is much more deliberate, diplomatic, and level-headed than most of the demagogues who form a vocal part of his organization. Oddly enough, he's also known as "The Butcher of Anderson Station".
    • Bobbie Draper's superior, Lieutenant Sutton, does his best to rein in her War Hawk desires, pointing out how useless a war with Earth would be, talking her down from her more bloodthirsty impulses.
    • UN Admiral Souther is a consistent voice of reason and forbearance, and in "Doors and Corners" he resigns command and accepts reassignment to Jupiter rather than carry out a direct order to deliberately escalate tensions with Mars.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dawes gives one to Miller in "Rock Bottom", particularly pointing out that rather than The Dulcinea Effect, Julie Mao would hate Miller if they actually met.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica:
    • Saturn is even colder and more isolated than Antarctica, but in Holden's case it's self-imposed and he was simply dishonorably discharged from the UNN.
    • Admiral Souther is reassigned to command UN fleet around Jupiter in "Doors and Corners" after he refuses to play a part in Earth's brinksmanship with Mars.
  • Rebel Leader: Fred Johnson and Anderson Dawes.
  • Recursive Ammo:
    • Earth's Rail Gun Kill Sats fire a bullet that breaks into a spread of shrapnel once it nears the target, similar to buckshot except the bullet waits until the majority of the pellets will hit.
    • Mars has planet killer ships as a last-resort weapon which each carry ten missiles. Each missile can break apart into a spread of nukes that can blanket Earth if necessary.
  • Recycled In Space: The Hardboiled Detective and the Knight Errant vs. the Eldritch Abomination In Space.
  • Red Herring: Holden's crew identifies the module that put out the phony distress call in "Dulcinea" as Martian-made, but events in "Remember the Cant" prove the Martian government had nothing to do with it.
  • Red Light District: Havelock is ambushed patrolling the one where Gia works in "Remember the Cant".
  • Red Shirt: The Martian marines on the Donnager are one of the most obvious examples.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Ok, you're aboard a "salvaged" MCRN gunship disguised as a gas freighter and you find yourself flagged for inspection by an MCRN warship. What do you do? If you answered, "Pretend to be a special ops unit by breaking into a booby-trapped vault to gain access to special codes," then congratulations, welcome to the crew of the Rocinante.
  • Remember the Alamo: "Remember The Cant" becomes a rallying cry for Belters in the episode of the same name after Holden's transmission leads them to assume the Canterbury was blown up by Mars. The phrase is spray-painted in multiple places, often along with Holden's face, and it seems to be shaping him up into some sort of folk hero and fuelling further discontent between Belters and the Inner Planets.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: Each of the three main factions has these, to greater and lesser degrees:
    • Earth has the Protogen Corporation and its conspirators in high levels of the UN government - though Protogen doesn't really care about Earth at all and was merely selling out to the highest bidder, as they are practically a fourth party non-government mega-corporation. Heck, Protogen outright turns on its UN allies in Season 2 and tried to sell out to rogue elements of the Martian government, only to then be browbeaten back into working for the UN. Basically the only reason Protogen didn't try to sell the proto-molecule to the OPA is because the Belters couldn't possibly afford the cost.
    • Similar to Earth, the Martian Congressional Republic has military hardliners who would prefer a war with Earth, who after learning about the proto-molecule, gleefully allow Protogen to slaughter Martian marines in a test run of the hybrid weapons.
    • A major issue with the OPA - which isn't really a unified organization so much as an idea/movement. Word of God compares them to real-life revolutionary movements like the Irish Republican Army - each terrorist cell claiming to be the "real" OPA, though they can occasionally be browbeaten together to act towards a unified goal. Fred Johnson's powerful faction based on Tycho Station is trying to establish the OPA as a legitimate government diplomatically recognized by Earth and Mars - and while Johnson would like to acquire long-range nuclear weapons and/or the proto-molecule, he only wants them as deterrents to establish balance of power. Other groups are outright terrorists carrying out targeted assassinations, such as the "Black Sky" cell, and the extremist cell led by Anderson Dawes.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: Franklin DeGraaf's "suicide" and the quick "disproving" of Fred Johnson's accusations provides Avasarala with the information she needs to deduce something's going on in the higher levels of power on Earth.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • Holden has to be restrained from chasing after a ship that vastly out-guns his own in his blind rage and grief over the loss of the Canterbury.
    • This is what Holden thinks when Miller abruptly kills Dresden, but given Miller's prior Meaningful Look and later explanation, the actually reason was that he correctly deduced Dresden was trying to pull a Talking Your Way Out, which Holden and Johnson were falling for.
      Miller: I didn't kill him because he was crazy. I killed him because he was making sense.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Even in the 23rd Century, Miller carries a six-shooter as befits a Hardboiled Detective.
  • Rightly Self-Righteous: Holden's not faultless, but everyone admits he's as close as it gets.
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: Holden and his crew manage to land themselves smack-dab in the middle of a vast conspiracy simply by virtue of being the ones who picked of a certain Distress Call, but damned if they aren't just what the solar system needs to deal with it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Holden's crew hold him back from one in "The Big Empty" because it would be a Suicide Mission.
    • Miller spends most of "Critical Mass" looking for anyone and anything to vent his grief and frustration on after finding Julie Mao's body.
  • Roboteching: The Conspiracy's torpedoes are capable of this in their terminal phase, making them difficult for the Donnager's point defense to intercept.
  • Rousing Speech: Drummer gives one in "Intransigence", to drive up morale as the Behemoth prepares to pass through the Ring.
  • Running the Blockade: The Rocinante crew has to get past a heavily-patrolled Martian sector in "Windmills". Unlike many examples, a normal ship would probably just get a routine inspection, but since the Roci is actually a "salvaged" Martian naval frigate things are a little more interesting for them.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Although the actor is credited as a main cast member throughout the first season, Shed Garvey is abruptly killed by a rail gun round in "CQB".
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Holden notes in "Dulcinea" that the Canterbury's XO had been talking to his plants for months prior to his final breakdown.
    • Miller doesn't take Julie's death at all well, going on a minor rampage during which he starts hallucinating an Imaginary Friend.
  • Satellite Character: Arjun isn't a political force of kind, just Chrisjen Avasarala's loving and supportive husband.
  • Saying Too Much: During an inquiry on the Ganymede incident, Drapar is brought in to give a fabricated account of what happened to avoid a war. Under grilling from Avasarala, she blurts out that the aggressor wasn't wearing a vac-suit, at which point her superiors steer her back to the official line.
  • Scars Are Forever: Not in the 23rd Century due to medical advances, but Miller surmises in "The Big Empty" that Julie Mao maintains one on her face as a "badge of defiant against everything she's supposed to be."
  • Schizo Tech: Holographic displays and voice commands are mundane throughout the system so Earth's ambassador to Mars stands out with his use of pencils and notepads. The pencils turn out to be recording devices that store the user's every stroke and can interface with other pieces of technology.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The series is called "The Expanse", so this is generally averted or at least downplayed. In "Dulcinea" for instance, two days is considered, "Not far out of our way," and that only gets Canterbury within 50,000 kilometers, a distance easily within reach of their "leaky lifeboat." Inter-planetary communication also consists of sending video messages back and forth rather than real-time conversation due to the immense distances. That said, visuals are sometimes configured so that several objects travelling together that could easily be many, many miles apart are shown tightly grouped to fit on the screen together.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • Holden believes in doing this at every opportunity.
    • Admiral Souther resigns command of the UN Navy rather than take part in a deliberate escalation of tensions with Mars.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When demanding that Jules-Pierre Mao be brought to justice, Avasarala points out that she cannot be bought like some politicians and in the time it would take Mao to force her out of office, she will ruin his life and the lives of his family.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Kenzo makes a run for it just as the black ops team strikes at Holden's crew.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Downplayed compared to the novels, but Avasarala still gets in a few barbs when it comes to telling people what she really thinks.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: At the end of "CQB", Captain Yao activates the Donnager's to destroy the ships attacking her vessel, allowing Holden and his crew to escape with proof of the attack.
  • Sequel Hook Season 3 ends with a Portal Network opened to humanity, but something is living inside the network and was responsible for destroying the protomolecule civilization.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Miller clears the way in "Leviathan Wakes" by inciting a fight between two groups of CPM mooks by stoking the Belters (correct) belief that they about to be left behind.
  • Settling the Frontier: Humanity is the process of filling up the solar system. The books mention a settlement as far out as a moon of Uranus.
  • Sexposition: Not verbally, but Holden and Ade's Zero-G Spot introduction helps establish that spaceships only have gravity when the engines are providing thrust.
  • Shame If Something Happened:
    • Fred Johnson uses this threat more subtly but no less palpably than usual in "CQB" when the Mormon Church expresses discomfort with leaving him in charge of building the LDSS Nauvoo because of his OPA affiliations. Johnson simply reminds their representative that the most skilled workers in the Belt are also OPA affiliated, and therefore removing him would deprive them of quality of work on a ship that has to function flawlessly for a very long time.
    • In "Rock Bottom", Avasarala threatens a former intelligence operative who's transitioned to corporate espionage that if he doesn't lend her his operative on Tycho Station his son won't be getting paroled any time soon.
  • Shaped Like Itself: According to Naomi, their ladar system says the thing on the Scopuli that looks like a big hole in the side... is a big hole in the side.
  • Sherlock Scan:
    • Fred Johnson uses this to see through Holden's bluff of having a squad of pissed off Martian marines on the Rocinante.
    • Amos notices Kenzo's restlessness and the suspicious bystanders in the lobby of the Blue Falcon Hotel. As such, he already has his hand on his gun when Kenzo runs for it and a gunfight breaks out.
  • Shining City: New York City, or at least Manhattan, has become slightly more crystalline, as befits the capital of The Federation (or The Empire depending on your viewpoint).
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Steven Strait (Holden) gets one in "Dulcinea".
    • Wes Chatham gets one in "Caliban's War", when a very reluctant Prax patches up Amos' gunshot wounds to his best ability.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • Anderson Dawes' backstory involved killing his Ill Girl sister Athena to save the rest of his family.
    • Amos kills Sematimba when he pulls a gun on Naomi in an attempt to force her to take off without Holden and Miller.
    • Holden reluctantly blows up a ship full of Good Samaritans because allowing them to expose what happened on Eros could potentially lead to the entire solar system being infected by the protomolecule.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The pilot episode, "Dulcinea", and Holden's frigate Rocinante are named after Don Quixote's presumptive lover and horse, respectively. Holden's early exposure to Cervantes is explored in the (appropriately-titled) episode 'Windmills' when his mother Elise explains the Freudian Excuse behind his Chronic Hero Syndrome. Then there's the obvious parallels between Miller's obsession with Julie Mao and Don Quixote's obsession with Dulcinea.note 
    • "Rocinante" also works as a reference to both Alexis A. Gilliland's Rosinante trilogy, a book series similar to The Expanse, and the two-part song "Cygnus X-1" by Rush, in which the protagonist's spaceship is also called the Rocinante.
    • Writer Mark Fergus explained at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 that Paj's severed arm spinning end over end in "Dulcinea" was a reference to the bone that does the same in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but admitted it was so abstract that almost nobody got it.
    • While Avasarala receives reports of the on-going attack on the Donnager, her husband Arjun can be seen and heard in the background reading Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped to their grandson and his friends.
    • The design of Mateo's rock hauler from "Rock Bottom" was clearly inspired by the Starfuries from Babylon 5.
    • A public transit map of Ceres in "Dulcinea" includes a stop at "Cutty Station", named after Chad L. Coleman's (Fred Johnson) character "Cutty" Wise on The Wire.
    • A shop Miller visits in "Back to the Butcher" shares the name Tech Noir with the bar in The Terminator.
    • The list of ships docked in "Salvage" has a lot of shout-outs, including the Serenity and the Burninator.
    • The scenes of Eros station and its inhabitants being taken over by The Virus are straight out of Dead Space.
    • The Protomolecule-infected people look just like Husks from Mass Effect
  • Shown Their Work: The show loves to demonstrate the hard sci-fi limits of the setting, such as showing how the Coriolis effect changes how things flow and fall on Belter stations. The show is also quite meticulous in depicting gravity in space travel.
  • Side-Effects Include...: In "Leviathan Wakes" Miller and Holden keep pumping painkillers into their bodies to help keep them functional while they are slowly dying from a massive radiation dose. At one point Miller asks what effects overdosing on this stuff has, and Holden reads from a product information slip: "Possible anxiety, skin rash... sudden death." An unusually ironic example of this trope.
  • Sigil Spam:
    • The OPA display their monogram on passages all over Ceres and tattoo it on their arms, chests, and even faces.
    • The Martian Navy have plastered their MCRN logo all over the Tachi, right down to the coffee cups.
  • Sinking Ship Scenario: Holden's crew face this in " The Big Empty".
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Downplayed from the books, but Avasarala still gets away with as much as she can without the show moving to HBO or Showtime, especially after what little she did do in Season 1 proved so popular.
    • Although notably, her dialogue is substantially less restrained on the season 2 DVD release — even if the original Sy Fy broadcasts were occasionally muted to censor.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Played for Laughs when Holden and Ade joke about this during their sex scene introduction.
    Ade: You're entirely too good at that.
    Holden: I told you, I've got no power to get you promoted on this ship.
    Ade: Well, then I take it back.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Amos is the only crew-member to always keep the sleeves of his coveralls rolled up.
  • Soapbox Sadie:
    • A male example in the OPA agitator on Ceres. No matter what's happening in the solar system, he'll tell you all about how it's a conspiracy against the Belt. For instance, he insists Canterbury was destroyed by the Inner Planets exclusively to deprive Ceres of water when in reality that was at best an intended assumption.
    • Miller initially pegs Julie Mao as one of these before his investigation proves she really means it.
      Miller: Students, with big ideas and big mouths.
  • Soapbox Square: The Epic Tracking Establishing Shot for Ceres station features a voice-over on the plight of the Belt that's eventually revealed to be an OPA agitator speaking in one of these in the slum at the very bottom of the colony.
  • Social Darwinist: Captain McDowell literally proposes letting "the good god Darwin" sort out the Scopuli rather than answer the Distress Call. Admittedly he was also suspecting it to be a trap set by pirates to lure in prey. He's half right.
  • The Sociopath:
    • Amos is basically one, but he's self-aware about it and compensates by following ethical people, using them as his aftermarket moral compass.
      Amos: Ask me whether or not I should rip your helmet off and kick you off this bucket and I can't give you a reason why I should or shouldn't except, 'Naomi wouldn't like it.'
    • Also, Dresden. What else can you call someone who only sees the For Science! potential of thousands and thousands of people to an Eldritch Abomination.
    • The Conspiracy had this trait medically induced in all its employees on Thoth Station to ensure they'd have no qualms about their Mad Doctoring.
  • Son of a Whore: In a conversation with Prax, Amos strongly hints that he was this, and likely also a child prostitute.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: During the ice mining hand injury scene in "Dulcinea".
  • Space Battle:
    • In "CQB", the Donnager is attacked by six of The Conspiracy's stealth ships, destroying several before being boarded and forced to self-destruct to avoid capture and take the rest with it.
    • In "Doors and Corners", the Rocinante and the OPA launch a joint attack on Thoth Station, which is protected by one of The Conspiracy's stealth ships. After some tricky maneuvering, the Roci manages to take out the stealth ship and the station's only gun turret, allowing the OPA to land a Boarding Pod and take control of the station.
  • Space Cold War: Between Earth/Luna and Mars, with the Belt adding its own third-party pressure. Avasarala even calls it one in "The Big Empty". It goes hot in season 3.
  • Space Cossacks: While native Belters are physically incapable of living anywhere else, Earthers and Martians who move permanently to the Belt are often this. Holden in particular left Earth because, "Everything I loved was dying," and has little-to-no interest in returning.
  • Space Friction: Usually Averted, like when the Canterbury, already travelling at high speed, has to make a very high-g maneuver to redirect rather than just let off the gas a little. However, the maneuvers required to actually slow down and intercept are generally left off-screen.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Aside from the UN and MCR maintaining space navies (with associated terminology) and the mention of "shipping lanes", this is fully averted.
  • Space Is Noisy:
    • More or less an Enforced Trope, but the show does go for a more subdued version, with scenes set in space featuring muffled sounds. There's one scene that is played completely silent to emphasize the shock and danger the characters are experiencing.
    • When Holden and Naomi need to talk privately in their space suits, they kill their radios and put their helmets together so the sound will carry through the helmets.
  • Space Madness: The Canterbury's XO comes down with a case in the first episode, necessitating his replacement by Holden, who notes the guy had already been talking to his plants for months.
    XO: Jimmy boy, you know what I just can't figure out? We make it all this way, so far out into the darkness... Why couldn't we have brought more light?
  • Space Marine: The UNN and MCRN have marine detachments aboard their ships.
  • Space Navy: The UNN and MCRN for the Solar System's two major factions. MCRN ships have "NAVY" prominently emblazoned on their sides. The UNN is shown to still be using anchors in its crest.
  • Space People: Native Belters are physically incapable of living on Earth without heavy amounts of therapy and drugs. This is exploited by Earthers in "Dulcinea", where simply exposing a Belter to Earth's gravity is used as Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • Space Pirates: A notable concern for regular cargo haulers. There's even a corporate protocol for such cases: give up the cargo and negotiate a ransom for any captured crew. Captain Yao of MCRN Donnager also mentions three years of combat experience hunting them.
  • Spaceship Slingshot Stunt:
    • Deconstructed by being shown literally as a stunt by adrenaline jockeys looking to set records, and the only contestant we actually see on-screen makes a minor miscalculation and burns up in Jupiter's atmosphere. "Slingshot Clubs" get together to watch these pilots' exploits and make extravagant and illegal bets about their chances of success.
    • In Season 2, Alex plots an elaborate slingshot course around Jupiter's moon to be able to go from Cyllene to Ganymede without firing the Rocinante's engines. It goes well until he unexpectedly comes across a MCRN destroyer and he has to quickly abort the maneuver to avoid detection.
    • Mid-Season 3, a slingshot jockey attempts to "thread the needle" through the Protomolecule Ring, only for its defenses to stop his ship dead and reduce him to Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Space Station: Tycho Station is the main construction hub in the Belt, and home to OPA leader Fred Johnson. Other smaller stations are also mentioned, particularly Anderson Station, which was destroyed 11 years before the start of the series.
  • Space Suits Are SCUBA Gear: The helmets worn by the crew of the Rocinante in Season One are connected to a "breather" backpack by a corrugated rubber hose, of the sort used by old-fashioned SCUBA sets. MCRN suits have the backpack but no visible connection to the helmet.
  • Space Trucker: Although Canterbury has more the feel of a cargo ship, Holden and his crew start out as these in the business of hauling ice from Saturn's orbit back to Ceres, a vital but not very glamorous job.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Johnson has no illusions whatsoever about what kind of person Miller was after the latter performs a Heroic Sacrifice, calling the belated "a pain-in-the-ass, suicidal ex-cop".
  • Speculative Fiction LGBT: Earth, the Belt, and probably Mars, all have much more open and tolerant attitudes towards sexuality in the 23rd century.
    • Earth's ambassador to Mars is openly married to another man, which is treated as unremarkable.
    • Holden is the product of a group marriage of five men and three women who are all his genetic parents due to DNA splicing, which is apparently not particularly unusual, although a full genetic mix is implied to be pricey. In this case, it was done because the donors wanted to get around the law and keep their land, which they could do through a joint heir. The series doesn't elaborate on whether they really are actually polyamorous, or if it's just another means of avoiding having their property seized.
    • In a list of personal ads Miller peruses during his investigation on Ceres, about half of those who appear are listed as pansexual.
  • Spy Speak:
    • The data broker Julie Mao dealt with on Ceres set up their meeting via a dating site using the phrase, "I'll be your Sherpa," and Miller eventually figures out that to access the guy's shop, you go to a certain shop and ask for a sherpa.
    • The Rocinante crew avoid inspection by a Martian patrol by pretending to be a special ops team using the code-words "ubiquitous", "mendacious", and "polyglottal". Working on past experience, Alex also throws in "donkey balls", just in case.
  • The Squadette: Naomi is the only woman on the Rocinate, and serves as The Lancer to Holden.
  • Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot: Writer Hawk Ostby says they chose to open the series on Julie Mao in the storage locker specifically to kick off the series by subverting this trope.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: Most ships seen on the show feature brick-like designs in order to maximize interior space and because aerodynamics are not a concern. Even atmospheric shuttles lack aerodynamic designs as they're only meant to go straight up and down.
  • Standardized Space Views: Locations beyond Earth tend to get these as their Establishing Shot.
  • Standard Starship Scuffle: MCRN Donnager goes up against six stealth ships. Each side tries to overwhelm the other with torpedo barrages before using rail guns for close quarters battle. The battle climaxes when one of the stealth ships is able to come in close and send boarding parties aboard the Donnager.
  • Stealth in Space:
    • The Martians are said to possess advanced stealth technology. That said, the Rocinante (originally a Martian frigate) can't actually hide from other ships, so it's disguised as a gas freighter in the second half of Season 1.
    • The stealth ships that destroyed the Canterbury and the Donnager are revealed to belong to a fourth, unknown faction in the solar system. These ships are about the size of a corvette, possess a dark color scheme, and seem to be shaped in a way to deflect other ships' tracking systems. They are also heavily armed for ships of their size, equipped with torpedoes, gatling guns (for point defense), and rail guns.
    • Averted in "Doors and Corners" where getting close enough to actually engage and deploy Boarding Pods with any hope of success is a crucial problem the OPA faces in storming Thoth Station.
    • In a rather impressive example, the protomolecule somehow manages to render the whole of Eros invisible to radar.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: After the survivors of the Canterbury get picked up by a Martian battleship, Alex adopts a Martian uniform since he used to serve as a pilot in the Martian military before he joined the Belters. The crew of the Rocinante no longer hold allegiance to any particular faction, but it's helpful if there's ever any need for a False Flag Operation.
  • Stock Scream: A stock crying baby is used during the aftermath of the faulty air filters in "Dulcinea".
  • Storming the Castle: The Rocinante crew join with Miller and the OPA to assault Thoth Station in "Doors and Corners".
  • Street Smart: Joe Miller. It comes with the territory of a Hardboiled Detective and makes him a real Foil for James Holden.
  • Stress Vomit: There isn't any turbulence yet since they're still attached to the main ship, so Miller's Vomit Indiscretion Shot on the Boarding Pod in "Doors and Corners" has to be this.
  • Stunned Silence: After Shed is decapitated.
  • Subspace Ansible: There is no such thing in this universe. Communication over long distances is hampered by minutes-long signal delays. In military situations, commanders gripe that the telemetry they receive is minutes-old and that their units could be wiped out at that very moment and they'll only find out after the fact. Even communication between Earth and Luna is subject to a three second delay and Chrisjen and Arjun end up talking over each other because they keep forgetting to take the delay into account.
  • Suicide Attack:
    • Captain Yao describes the six ships attacking the Donnager in "CQB" as doing this, but they turn out to be far more powerful than she imagined.
    • Mateo, a Belter Asteroid Miner who's been pushed around one time too many flies his ship straight at the Martians who screwed him over. Unfortunately for him, he's nowhere near as well armed as the stealth ships who attacked the Donnager.
      Mateo: A man's got to stand up!
  • Super Soldier: After Eros, The Conspiracy is able to refine the protomolecule and use it to create hybrids which can survive in hard vacuum and take out an entire squad of Martian marines. And this is only the prototype.
  • Surveillance Drone: Often seen floating around Earth and Ceres.
  • The Syndicate: Anderson Dawes essentially represents this side of the OPA, controlling labour and policing on Ceres, while Fred Johnson represents more the La Résistance trying to become an independent government side of the organization, though the two sides do collaborate when it's beneficial.
  • Synchronization: All the samples of the protomolecule communicate with each other instantly over intra-solar distances.
  • Synthetic Plague: The protomolecule evolves by absorbing humans and is being experimented with by a faction from Earth for unknown reasons. Dresden also implies it may have been sent to the solar system on purpose.

    T-Z 
  • Take a Third Option: Instead of allowing Earth an easy victory or starting a shooting war by fighting over it, the Martians instead opt to destroy Phoebe station completely.
  • Taking You with Me: The Donnager takes the attacking ships down with it when it self-destructs.
  • Tattoo as Character Type:
    • Many Belters have cultural ones, including stylized ring with an off-center gap around their neck in imitation of the burn-scars left by faulty connection collars of older space suits.
    • OPA members often sport these to declare their overall membership and individual faction. These are usually highly visible, often on the face or neck, with the more villainous members doubling as Tattooed Crooks.
      Miller: Boss let you wear your colors out in the open like that?
      Worker: Boss has one just like it.
    • Amos has a couple on his arms, as befits a tough-guy mechanic.
  • Tattooed Crook: While most Belters have noticeable tattoos, the more villainous ones definitely count as this.
  • Team Mom: Alex provides a male example at the end of "Safe", when he forces the crew to sit down to eat together and fusses over them in an attempt to lighten the mood and get everyone to pull together again in the aftermath of Eros.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: In "Home", Miller is able to convince Julie Mao, whose consciousness has been fused with the protomolecule, into diverting it away from Earth and into Venus.
  • Tears of Blood: Anderson Dawes says he suffered these from crying so hard over the death of his little sister.
  • The Teaser: The first few minutes of the series give us just the briefest glimpse of the protomolecule.
  • Terraform: Mars is still in the process of this. It is estimated that they will be finished in a hundred years. This is part of the reason that the Martians hate the Earthers so much; under the original plan it would have been finished already, but the project ground to a halt after Earth blockaded water resources as part of a diplomatic incident. As a result, they were forced to put so many resources into the military to defend against Earth that the project is 100 years behind schedule.
  • Tested on Humans: Dresden is fascinated by the protomolecule's effects on humans and proceeds to inject it into everyone on Eros under the guise of a treatment for radiation.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: According to Amos in "Paradigm Shift", there are actually three kinds of people in the world — bad people, people you follow, and people you protect.
  • Time for Plan B: When Rocinante is flagged for a very unwanted inspection in "Windmills", Naomi and Alex scramble to unlock the correct Spy Speak to call them off while Amos calmly heads down to the weapons-locker to prepare Plan B: trying to shoot anyone who comes through the airlock.
  • Time Skip: "Delva-V" moves the timeline forward by about six months, during which the UN-MCR war has ended with a cease-fire, the OPA has reorganized into a true Belter state (albeit a fragile one), and the Roci crew have become celebrities across the system.
  • Title Drop:
    • Miller cautions his Boarding Party that "Doors and Corners" are where they'll get ambushed in the episode of that name.
    • Fred Johnson wishes everyone "Godspeed," in the episode of the same name.
  • Title In: Establishing Shots for locations are usually accompanied by these, such as: "CERES_STATION: U.N. Protectorate / In the Asteroid Belt". A few characters like Avasrala, Errinwright, and DeGraaf also get a Boss Banner with their name and position.
  • Title Sequence: A fully-fledged Artistic Title of a flyby tracing the colonization of the solar system. Much of season 1 uses a much simpler Title-Only Opening of the Title Card laid over a stylized solar system.
  • That One Case: Searching for Julie Mao quickly becomes this for Miller, especially when he keeps it up on his own time after Captain Shaddid calls it closed.
  • That's an Order!: Holden pulls this to try to pursue the ship that destroyed the Canterbury, but the rest of the crew refuse and explain to him how stupid that order is.
  • Think Happy Thoughts: Naomi encourages Miller to do this in "Home", but he just grumbles.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting:
    • In season 1, Holden and Miller's stories get the most focus, with others fitting in around the edges. Avasrala's plot is mostly a Government Procedural about uncovering The Conspiracy.
    • Until the Ganymede incident, Bobby Draper and her marines just pop in every episode or two to give a Martian reaction to Earth's actions.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock:
    • Tormented by the thought of the children who nearly died because he took a bribe from a corrupt landlord who cheaped out on air filters, Miller threatens the landlord with this trope in "Dulcinea".
      Miller: Air is good, don't you think? Air is nice. Keep those filters clean, asshole.
    • The Asteroid Miner Mateo launches his nephew Diogo out in an EVA suit before taking his ship on a Suicide Attack against the Martians who screwed him over. A weird case in that Mateo actually expects this to save his nephew, reasoning that someone will pick him up. He's right, too; Diogo shows up in the second season, perfectly healthy.
    • Miller nearly suffers this in "Rock Bottom", but Olivia rescues him.
    • Fred Johnson spaces an unruly OPA member who doesn't want to play ball, preferring to stick to pointless terrorist attacks rather than fight a bigger enemy. It got all the other OPA members to fall in line.
    • Amos claims in "Godspeed" that "Med bays in pirate ships are usually just open airlocks."
    • In "Pyre", a refugee transport carrying survivors from Ganymede has all the Inners moved to the airlock under the guise of having them moved to another ship, then flushes them as retaliation for Earth and Mars wrecking Ganymede.
  • To Absent Friends:
    • Holden and Naomi share in the irreverent sort of this in "Rock Bottom":
      Holden: To Shed: always generous, thoughtful... sometimes a whiny little prick. [laughs] We're gonna miss you, pal, wherever you are... I hope no one there needs medical attention. [laughs again]
    • The crew toasts Miller after his sacrifice in "Home".
  • Together in Death: In "Home", Miller stays with Julie as she sends Eros crashing into Venus, deliberately removing his suit and infecting himself by kissing her just before impact.
  • Too Good to Be True: After Fred Johnson's Can't Stop the Signal moment in "Critical Mass", Avasarala is given evidence he's lying and is really behind everything, which she immediately senses is bullshit because of this trope and because she herself found evidence identical to Johnson's, but she has to play along until she's in a better position.
  • Token Evil Teammate:
    • Amos, to some degree, since he's basically a high-functioning sociopath who's always there to propose that Murder Is the Best Solution.
    • Holden starts to see Miller as this in "Static" after he kills Dresden, and so banishes him from the Roci, though he still agrees to collaborate on Miller's plan to deal with Eros in "Godspeed".
    • Subverted with Kenzo, who gets enough dialogue and development that he could become this until he willingly guides a black ops team to the Roci crew and consequently has his rescue request rejected by Holden.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A slingshot jockey in season 3 decides to make a name for himself by slingshotting himself through the alien ring that showed up six months ago. It earns him a very messy death by extreme deceleration.
  • Too Much Alike: Miller finds a message from Julie Mao to her father Calling the Old Man Out by claiming this is why they never got along.
  • Torture Cellar: The UN has one where Avasarala interrogates a Belter smuggler.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: Avasarala learns more (though still practically nothing) from a Belter prisoner through a civilized interview than she does through gravity torture, and the same prisoner ultimately uses gravity itself as his Cyanide Pill simply to avoid further torture.
  • Torture Technician: The UN employs these, though so far they've simply hung a Belter on some hooks to suffer from Earth's gravity.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Holden loves real coffee.
    • Downplayed from the novels, but Avasarala still has her pistachios in a couple scenes.
  • Transformation Horror: At the beginning of "Critical Mass", the audience is subjected to Julie Mao being slowly mutated and consumed after being infected by the protomolecule.
  • Tribal Face Paint: The OPA, rather than being a unified organization, is actually a loose conglomeration of groups that are almost tribal in nature. Some of these tribes use unique facial tattoos as a way to show allegiance.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Miller is fired after his persistent investigation into Julie Mao becomes politically sensitive.
  • Two-Keyed Lock:
    • The Self-Destruct Mechanism on the Donnager requires thumbprints from both Captain Yao and one of her lieutenants.
    • Earth interplanetary nuclear arsenal is locked behind one of these, with the keys in the hands of the Secretary-General and Undersecretary-General.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The captain and crew of the MCRN Donnager treat an attack by a group of small ships to be the equivalent of the attackers committing Suicide by Cop. Then they get a Oh, Crap! moment as they realize just how technically advanced the attackers are and the Donnager starts taking serious damage. The captain eventually self-destructs the Donnager before it can be captured.
  • Underground City: Many Belter colonies are built this way in order maximize available space and harness Centrifugal Gravity, so that "down" is actually toward the surface.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: The UN has taken over as the government of Earth.
  • The Unmasqued World: The existence of the protomolecule finally goes public at the beginning of season 3, right before the UN formally declares war on Mars.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting:
    • Used to great effect around the protomolecule Meat Moss, which pulses with bluish-white electric jolts.
    • Also used in a Real Is Brown sense to lend a cold artificial feel to spaceship and space station interiors.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Julie Mao had no way of knowing it, but by getting infected and travelling to Eros she brought the protomolecule right back into the hands of the same conspirators she'd hoped to keep it away from and the same station they'd already planned to infect with it.
  • Used Future:
    • Belter ships and technology fit this trope to a T, with some ships basically held together with duct tape.
    • The Canterbury has instruments in need of Percussive Maintenance and stowaway rats out past Saturn.
    • UN and Martian ships are better, but they still count.
  • Useless Spleen: Amos quips, "There goes my spleen," as the Rocinante performs a high-g burn that will eventually kill the crew if they keep it up in "Home".
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: In "Doors and Corners", Dresden speaks very movingly of the wonders humanity might accomplish if they can master the protomolecule, but unfortunately his plans to achieve this involve merciless mass murder.
  • Villain Has a Point: Invoked by Miller, regarding Dresden.
    "I didn't shoot him because he was crazy. I shot him because he was making sense.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Downplayed. Miller hassles Diogo this way only in response to Diogo's claim that space-walking (which Miller hates) is Better Than Sex. Likewise, he offers, "Hey kid, go get laid, will you?" as his parting advice, but since Diogo is Just a Kid with too much Patriotic Fervor it's more about telling him to live for something more than dying for a cause.
  • The Virus: The protomolecule is a glowing, blue, crystalline virus that can infect living tissue, feeds on most forms of energy, and seems to adapt as it grows. When Julie Mao discovers it infesting the Anubis, she deemed it necessary to completely power down the ship and vent every deck just to slow it down. When it's released on Eros, the mass of people it absorbs allows it to mimic human form through bio-luminescent spores, and was purposely delivered on such a massive scale because its creators are trying to make it evolve.
  • Visionary Villain: The Conspiracy behind the protomolecule has grand designs:
    • They started researching it because they discovered that Phoebe was in fact an extrasolar object that would have hit Earth two billion years in the past. The only reason humanity exists is because Phoebe was caught by Saturn's gravity — the interstellar equivalent of a Pocket Protector.
      Dresden: Without this work, humanity will be left unarmed, ignorant, vulnerable, to an enemy who's already fired the first shot.
    • Their chief researcher is an Evilutionary Biologist who seems even more interested in it because it's Imported Alien Phlebotinum; Just Think of the Potential!
      Dresden: We become our own gods. Imagine human beings able to live in hard vacuum without a suit, or under the crushing atmosphere of a gas giant. Or able to hibernate long enough to travel to the stars.
  • Walk and Talk: Holden, Naomi, and Amos have a long one in "Dulcinea" that carries them from the galley to the bridge of the Canterbury.
  • Wall of Weapons:
    • The XO of the Canterbury has a weapons locker filled with four pistols and three rifles, some of them quite antique for the 23rd Century.
    • The Rocinante has an entire deck devoted to the airlock and a locker room for Space Marine weapons and gear.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: This is something Martians fear or they wouldn't have such a powerful fleet, and Belters fear Earth and Mars basically equally.
  • War Hawk:
    • Admiral Nguyen plays this role as a Foil to Admiral Souther's dove in the UN's War Room in "Doors and Corners".
    • Bobby Draper seems to be one, even proposing: "You said our job is to prevent a war with Earth. Ever wonder if we've got it backwards? Maybe we can't have the dream of Mars until we've had that war."
  • War Is Hell: Closer to "war is pointless" actually. Many characters point out that despite hostilities between the many factions war doesn't benefit anyone. That makes it all the more concerning that someone is clearly trying to start a war.
  • The War Room: The UN begins deciding interplanetary strategic matters in one of these in Season 2, rather than just Errinwright's office like in Season 1.
  • The Watson: Miller's partner Havelock, a newly-arrived Earther, needs a lot of things in the Belt explained to him, and if they aren't explained at least viewer doesn't feel alone in their confusion.
  • We All Die Someday: A Belter thug declares this during a standoff with Miller before being called off by Anderson Dawes.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Belt would be a lot better off if its factions weren't competing against each other. Fred Johnson is a pure pragmatist, Anderson Dawes is more radical and willing to screw over Fred if he thinks it will benefit him, and Holden is an idealist who doesn't care for either side and has only marginally more appreciation for Fred's tactics (Dawes he hates with a passion).
  • We Hardly Knew Ye:
    • Ade Nygaard and Captain McDowell are nuked in the very first episode.
    • Shed Garvey gets decapitated by a railgun before the crew even make it to the Rocinante.
    • Julie Mao gets consumed and assimilated by the protomolecule.
    • Sematimba doesn't make it off Eros Station alive.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Subverted with Miller and Sematimba, who still are friends in the present day, and Miller doesn't even resent Sematimba's attempt to abandon him on Eros. In fact, he even holds a brief grudge against Amos for killing Sematimba to stop him from forcing Naomi to take off.
  • Weaponized Exhaust:
    • An unintentional example. When the Nauvoo is launched, the heat from its massive engines superheats the scaffolding behind it and a few of the automated tugs used to orient it are vaporized as they return to base.
    • In the season 2 finale, the Rocinante's main engine is used to fry the protomolecule soldier.
  • Weird Moon: While debating an attack on the Martian moon Deimos, Avasarala cites the importance of Earth's own moon in their cultural psyche. Errinwright points out that Deimos is different because it's so small that it's really just a bright dot in the Martian sky, but the Martians certainly don't see it that way.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Avasarala has nothing but Earth's best interests at heart, but as such has doesn't hesitate to resort to threats, torture, or even utterly ruining the life of a personal friend in order to fulfill her objectives.
    • Dresden is willing to commit any number of atrocities to further his research on the protomolecule, but he honestly believes that research will benefit humanity, especially if whatever sent it eventually shows up.
    • Though regarded as a terrorist by Mars and Earth (and even by some other Belters), Anderson Dawes is very sincere in his ambition to create a Belt for Belters.
    • Fred Johnson certainly has shades of this as well after having been radicalised by previous events he was held responsible for.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Zigzagged Trope. It is indicated that the average human lifespan for Earth residents has been bumped up to 130note , and one would assume that the terraformed Mars has similar stats. However, on the space colonies in the asteroid belt there are already people with debilitating physical and mental conditions due to things like low-oxygen environments. There are also signs of evolution, with some people being born with more fragile bones due to low gravity, meaning that they can't really survive on Earth anymore.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The series starts off with a bang in "Dulcinea" with the destruction of the Canterbury.
    • "CQB" has some amazing ship-to-ship and squad-to-squad combat and an out-of-nowhere Character Death.
    • "Salvage" features the true Reveal of the protomolecule, and Julie Mao finally makes an appearance...
    • "Critical Mass" and "Leviathan Wakes" answer the Driving Questions about the Canterbury and Julie Mao, and reveals the monstrous things The Conspiracy is capable of.
    • "Doors and Corners" features another cool Space Battle and reveals more about the protomolecule.
    • "Godspeed" and "Home" are based on the climax of the first novel, and as such are packed with Wham Shots, Wham Lines, and Reveals.
    • "Immolation". Mei and the other children are rescued, The Conspiracy is finally brought down for good, and the protomolecule births an Eldritch Abomination on Venus which flies off to parts unknown.
    • "Abbadon's Gate". All ships are convinced/forced to shut down their reactor core. That reassures the station they are not hostile, releasing the ships and reopening all 1300 remaining ring gates into habitable systems. Holden is certain this is the start of a new bloody gold rush.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "Critical Mass": "Theynote  were built by Earth!"
    • From "Godspeed": "The Nauvoo didn't move; Eros did."
    • From "Home":
      • "Eros has changed trajectory again, and it's accelerating. It's now on a direct collision course with Earth.
      • "Holden, we just lost radar-lock on Eros; the whole damn station just vanished!"
    • From "Caliban's War" (the very last line of season 2, in fact):
  • Wham Shot:
    • "I gave the protomolecule to Fred Johnson."
    • Shed's decapitated body in "CQB".
    • The P.O.V. Cam of Kenzo's Electronic Eyes spying on Holden and Naomi in "Rock Bottom".
    • The discovery of Julie Mao's dead body, ravaged by the protomolecule, at the very end of "Salvage".
    • When the Nauvoo sails right by Eros instead of colliding as intended in "Godspeed" because the protomolecule moved Eros to Dodge the Bullet.
    • "Paradigm Shift" has a wounded Bobbie Draper glimpsing a protomolecule-human hybrid on Ganymede.
    • The inner refugees getting Thrown Out the Airlock in "Pyre".
    • "The Weeping Somnambulist" has the UN survey Venus to see the wreckage of Eros, and there's two lifeforms down there.
    • "The Monster And The Rocket" has the Rocinante and the Sonambulist successfully rescuing 52 refugees from Ganymede... except that a protomolecule soldier managed to tear into the Rocinante's airlock, likely in the confusion when the Karakum's remains fell.
    • "Abbadon's Gate". Once the station has released all of the ships, everyone is seen staring in awe at something. This turns out to be footage of the ring gates reopening around the station. All 1300 remaining ones.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Granted, we have absolutely no reference for what space colonists from two centuries in the future should sound like, but Belters evoke this trope with a very strange accent that sounds like a vague mishmash of Afrikaans, Chinese, Eastern European, and Caribbean.
  • Whodunnit: Who destroyed the Canterbury?
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Miller hates space. So does Avasarala, for that matter.
  • Wicked Cultured: Anderson Dawes shows off this side of the OPA in his soft-spoken, articulate conversations with Miller. He even reminds other Belters that, "We are not animals," in his introduction before inviting Miller to join him at a nearby cafe.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Avasarala is stern or saccharine as needed for her profession, but is actually quite genuine and tender in the privacy of her own family and with Elise Holden in "Windmills".
  • Worf Effect: The Martian Congressional Republic Navy is constantly referenced as being the best there is. They get their asses kicked (curb-stomped, really) an awful lot.
  • Working the Same Case: Miller quickly discovers Julie Mao was part of the crew of the Scopuli—the same ship used to lure in the Canterbury. From there, Miller and Holden's plotlines progress in tandem until they run into each other at the Blue Falcon Hotel on Eros in "Salvage".
  • World Building: Of course, particularly regarding Ceres (and by extension the rest of the Belt).
  • Would Hurt a Child:
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: In "Dulcinea", Miller is fine taking a bribe to forgo a safety inspection, but when several children are among the tenants who nearly die as a result, Miller nearly has the landlord Thrown Out the Airlock.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The Distress Call in "Dulcinea" turns out to be a trap.
  • Wrench Wench: Naomi has multiple engineering degrees and other characters regularly rely on her mechanical expertise. She's even aggravated by how well Rocinante's automated engineering system works because, "There's nothing to fix!"
  • Wretched Hive:
    • Ceres' slummy innermost districts, where Miller cautions Havelock that, "People get killed for a wrong look around here."
    • Eros is a crime-ridden asteroid, said to be the murder capital of the Belt, whose "police force" is a private firm that makes Star Helix look downright friendly. The conspirators wind up feeding its entire population to the protomolecule because, in Miller's words, they "don't consider these people as human". We do, however, see that many inhabitants are just regular people trying to make a living, and want nothing to do with the violence that ravages their home.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Canterbury is owned by the Pur' N' Kleen Water Company.
  • You Are in Command Now: Holden clutches the executive officer badge he intended to refuse as if accepting this responsibility in "The Big Empty".
  • You Can't Go Home Again:
    • Holden and the other shuttle crew watch their ship, the Canterbury, get nuked in the pilot episode.
    • On a macro level, the Belters. As the smuggler in "The Big Empty" so elegantly put it, "You see my body which can no longer survive on the very planet that bore my great-grandmother. Earth has created a race of exiles out in space who have no homes to return to."
    • Directly invoked by Miller in the aptly-named "Home" when he tells Julie Mao, who's unknowingly piloting Eros, that she can't return to Earth or she'll kill everyone on the planet via Colony Drop.
    • Bobbie Draper presumes this to be the case after defecting to Earth, knowing the Martians will never forgive her for it. This one is ultimately averted: once her role in uncovering the Protogen conspiracy becomes public knowledge, she's allowed to return to Mars and even rejoin the MMC.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once the gang members hired as security for an experiment on Eros have done their part, their employers try to ditch them. Holden and Miller, having stumbled upon it, incite them to violence and use the confusion to get past.
    • Julie Mao was abandoned by Anderson Dawes after the Scopuli mission failed.
  • Your Head Asplode: One second you're calming down a panicked comrade, the next your neck is spurting blood out a foot-wide hole in the bulkhead. Rail Gun projectiles can have that effect.
  • You No Take Candle: Justified with Belter Creole, which can sound like this since it's a mix of languages of which English is only one, much like the examples in RealLife.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The OPA claims to fight for the Belters, but Earth considers them simply a terrorist group.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: When discussing their options in "Back to the Butcher", Holden points out to his crew that they're now the Sole Survivors of two mysterious attacks, and even he would believe their story if he hadn't been there.
    Holden: We look like terrorists.
  • Zero-G Spot: Holden and Ade are introduced this way. They come thudding to the floor when the thrusters cut in.

You can't take the Razorback. Catch me if you can.

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