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  • 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.
    • Season 4 provides hard proof that at least some primitive alien life exists, with Ilus being home to some basic lifeforms.
    • It's indicated that the entities responsible for the destruction of the Builders may very well still exist, a prospect that deeply troubles Holden.
  • Ace Pilot:
    • Julie Mao's most treasured possession is her space racing pinnace, 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 his 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".
      • Then it's subverted as she's visibly shocked by having to kill two thugs, though to be fair, there’s a substantial difference between roughing someone up and shooting them dead.
    • 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.
  • Actor Allusion: In the conflict on planet Ilus, both of the leading instigators are played by actors who had extremely similar roles and very similar scenarios in Game of Thrones and Vikings respectively. In Vikings, it was two families going to war with each other while trying to survive the harsh climate of Greenland. For Game of Thrones, the actor was cast as the leader of Black Watch Mutineers, while potentially surrounded by hostile forces.
  • 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, and enabling the audience to learn about each person as the others in the group do.
    • 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".
    • In the novels, Alex merely has an ex-wife to get over. In the series, they also have a son with whom Alex wants to reconnect.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Alex and Amos are both younger, slimmer, and less bald than their literary counterparts.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • In the books, despite the Space Cold War being ostensibly "even" between Earth and Mars, it's made very clear multiple times that Earth would easily lose any straight-up war with Mars in a complete Curb-Stomp Battle, and would only be able to manage a Pyrrhic Victory if it launched an unexpected & devastating first strike. Here, the United Nations of Earth and the UNN are both generally portrayed as being a lot more formidable and dangerous. While it's repeatedly stated that the MCRN is qualitatively superior, the UNN has more ships, and the cold war between Earth and Mars is more of a traditional Mutually Assured Destruction scenario between the two powers.
    • The Pella, the flagship of Marcos Inaros, is given this treatment when it debuts in the fifth season. In the books, it was a Corvette-class like the Rocinante. In the TV show, it's upgraded to a full-blown light cruiser. Word of God admits that this was done to make the ship scarier.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Ashford is probably the most prominent example. He's far more well-meaning and reasonable, and even when he takes a directly antagonistic role at the end of season 3, he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist at worst, as opposed to the incompetent Insane Admiral of the book.
    • Downplayed in the case of both Jules-Pierre Mao and Sadavir Errinwright, who are more complex characters than in the books and each get a couple of Pet the Dog moments. Mao seems to genuinely befriend Mei Meng and tells Strickland to shut down the experiments on children...but his crisis of conscience doesn't last long when Strickland shows him results. Errinwright tries to secure the safety of his family when he thinks he's going down for his part in the conspiracy, but once he regains the upper hand, he's worse than ever - also a case of Adaptational Villainy, as we just don't see enough of him in the book to judge how personally monstrous he is.
  • Adaptational Late Appearance: In Season 3, the book character Carlos "Bull" de Baca was Adapted Out and his role mostly given to an Adaptational Early Appearance for Camina Drummer. However, by Season 5 Adaptation Expansion had moved Drummer beyond her Book 5 introduction as Fred Johnson's security chief, so Bull is introduced then and in that role instead.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: 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 first 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.
    • Miller doesn't personally accept bribes in the book. Then again, he didn't just threaten to have people Thrown Out the Airlock in the books. He actually did it.
    • 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 of the vacuum" 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 throughout the first and second seasons, 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 political 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.
    • Anna Volovodov in the books is a redhead, while here she's a blonde.
  • 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 that whenever Season 1 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. Ironically, he ends up being Adapted Out of the fourth season (which is based on Cibola Burn), partially due to his actor being preoccupied with other projects.
    • 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".
  • Aerith and Bob: There's Jim and Joe, Fred and Naomi... and then there's Praxidike and Sadavir.
  • Afraid of Blood: Alex doesn't deal well with seeing Amos' protruding leg bone in "Back to the Butcher".
  • After-Action Patch-Up:
    • 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".
  • Age Lift: Nami, the daughter of Anna and Nono, is introduced as a baby or toddler in the novels; In the TV series, she's a few years older.
  • 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.
  • All for Nothing: Some Martians take this view of the effort to terraform Mars after the Ring suddenly opens up access to dozens if not hundreds of planets suitable for human habitation.
  • Alliterative Name: Naomi Nagata, Arjun Avasarala, and Mei Meng.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Bobbie and her squad are very hard on one of the squadmembers because he was born on Earth, rather than being native-born martian.
  • 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 (and later seasons) 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.
  • 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.
    • Beginning in Season 3, Thomas Jane receives special billing on episodes he appears in.
  • 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.
  • The 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.
    • Michael Iturbi and Col. Janus, along with the entire rest of the Arboghast crew, when the ship is disassembled by the protomolecule in the atmosphere of Venus.
    • Admiral Souther, a Reasonable Authority Figure in the UNN, is murdered by Fleet Admiral Nguyen while trying to conduct an Anti-Mutiny against him.
    • Cotyar, Avasarala's Sarcastic Devotee, pulls a Taking You with Me on the protomolecule that's infected him and the rest of the Agatha King by blowing up the entire ship, killing the aforementioned Nguyen as well.
    • Anna's friend Tilly Fagan is one of the many casualties of all the ships' deceleration in the Slow Zone of the Ring, though the fact that Clarissa was attacking and trying to kill her anyway at the time certainly didn't help.
    • Cohen Casti, Monica's blind cameraman, is revealed to be another such casualty, having been Killed Offscreen by being sliced in half with a door.
    • Diogo Harari gets an elevator dropped on him by Naomi while trying to kill her, Holden, and Drummer.
    • Chandra Wei, who becomes Amos's uncertain ally with benefits throughout Season 4, eventually has to choose between her feelings for him and her loyalty to her boss, and sides with the latter, forcing Amos to kill her in self-defense.
    • Klaes Ashford, while attempting to hunt down and kill Belter terrorist Marco Inaros, instead ends up being captured and Thrown Out the Airlock by Marco and his son Filip (though not before flipping them both off and singing up to his last breath as he's executed while also secretly warning the UN of Inaros' planned terrorist attack).
    • In the Season 5 finale, Alex Kamal strokes out after executing a high-g burn to save Naomi.
  • 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.
    • In "Delta-V", Clarissa Mao apologizes to Ren before, during, and after murdering him to conceal her sabotage.
  • 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..."
    • "The work must be finished..."
    • "Doors and corners"
  • Arm Cannon: Unlike Earth's ground forces and regular Martian Marines with their more conventional rifles, MMC Special Forces like Draper's unit wield miniature miniguns mounted to the lower right arm of their Powered Armor.
  • 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.
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • No matter how huge a space warship is, any ship-to-ship weapon goes through its hull like a hot knife through butter, and more powerful ones like railguns usually punch clean through the entire vessel without slowing down. It appears that, similar to today's seabound warships, armor has fallen out of favor as a protective measure, and the best (and only) thing you can do to avoid damage is to not get hit in the first place.
    • Completely averted by Martian Goliath-class Powered Armor. These hulking suits are Immune to Bullets and highly resistant to most other forms of damage. It requires heavy weapons or similarly massive trauma to inflict serious damage on them.
    • Also averted during Holden's and Miller's mad dash to the Roci in "Leviathan Wakes". The body armor they took off the dead mercs was intact before they got into the shootout near the docks, but shows multiple bullet impacts afterwards that would've been lethal without the plating's protection.
    • Played completely straight in Season 4. Some characters wear body armor, others don't, but they all die the same when shot.
  • 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. This might be justified by Eros being several light-minutes away from the crucial observers at the time it disappeared from radar, which would've made it impossible to guide a swarm of (presumably) radar-guided missiles with the necessary precision without the help of an on-site spotter.
    • Given how much the series makes of the dangers of radiation and of its importance to the Protomolecule, it oddly completely ignores how much radiation there is in space just from the Sun when you do not have a planetary magnetic field pushing high-energy particles aside.note  Radiation exposure is currently the greatest single health risk associated with extended stays in space.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Getting impaled through the solar-plexus should result in death very quickly given the number of important arteries in the region as well as the nerves and tissues that control breathing that make it very close to a real life version of an Instant Death Bullet. Hyper-advanced medical treatment doesn't mean much when you should be dead long before you could receive any.
  • Artistic License – Economics:
    • A large proportion of Earthers cannot find paid work owing to extensive overpopulation and automation and therefore 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 is also highly automated, yet Mars takes pride in its entire citizenry being productive despite having a larger population than 21st-century Earth crammed onto a much smaller, less hospitable planet.
    • Belters are depicted as a downtrodden proletariat oppressed by the inner planets. Which is comparable to the crews of remote science stations and offshore oil platforms being depicted as being proletarians oppressed by the corporations or government agencies that own them. The setting lacking the Easy Logistics of Casual Interplanetary Travel, Artificial Gravity and the Matter Replicator means that it makes little sense to crew mining stations with more than the minimum necessary crew, and even less sense to have them procreate and raise children in an environment where they will inevitably end up as relative cripples due to the effects of low gravity on their physiology.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • Fred Johnson describes the Rocinante as a "corvette-class frigate." Corvettes and frigates are two completely different categories of light warship, whereas a "class" of ships commonly refers to a series of ships built to the same design, generally named for the first ship in the seriesnote .
    • Gunnery Sergeant Draper leads a four-man fireteam (sometimes incorrectly called a "squad", itself a common misconception in fiction since a military "squad" refers to a unit of multiple fireteams). Assuming a gunnery sergeant is an E-7 in the Martian Marine Corps as it is in the US Marine Corps, Draper should be the senior NCO (an advisor/staff member to the commanding junior officer) of an entire platoon of around 50 personel, a job that takes about nine years of service to make, for which someone in their early twenties looks really young. Corporal or just plain Sergeant Draper would be a much more fitting rank for the job she's shown doing.
  • 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.
  • Aspect Ratio Switch: In Season 4, scenes set on and around Ilus/New Terra are shot in anamorphic widescreen rather than 16:9 like the rest of the series.
  • 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: (annoyed) 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", though Amos struggles to override the devices when they keep trying to default over to "hospice mode".
  • 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 Mao to pay for his part in The Conspiracy while also giving a veiled threat to Erringwright how she knows that he's part of the protomolecule conspiracy. See the quotes under Mega-Corp below for the whole thing.
    • "My name's Solomon Epstein. And I changed everything." - Solomon Epstein.
    • Holden delivers one to the MCRN blockade over Ganymede in "The Monster and the 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.
    • Also, if you like keeping your brains inside your head, don't even think about harming a child with Amos anywhere the solar system. He will not hesitate go across the system, fight through an army, and steal the kill from a Papa Wolf to make that point really clear.
    • Chrisjen Avasarala really does not like it when people make cracks about her age or imply in any way that she's old. Which is why Cotyar likes doing it.
  • 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:
    • Octavia 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.
    • In "Caliban's War", just as Mao's men are about to kill Cotyar and Avasarala, Bobbie returns after leaving to get her Power Armor and curb-stomps all of them easily.
    • Anna tasers Clarissa from behind before the latter can finish throttling Naomi to death in "Fallen World" .
    • In "Abaddon's Gate", Naomi stops Diogo from killing Drummer and the latter from making her Heroic Sacrifice by dropping an elevator on him, and Clarissa completes her Heel–Face Turn by attacking Ashford's forces before they can shoot Holden and Naomi, and then Ashford himself to stop him from firing the laser at the core of the Ring, before forcibly shutting down the ship's reactor so the Ring won't view humanity as a threat.
  • 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 like Holden certainly 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.
    • Katoa gradually starts to look more inhuman and horrifying as he's turned into a Hybrid by the protomolecule growth in his body. And in one of the worst examples in the whole series, he completely rips apart his nurse offscreen; we see the man's insides and guts strewn out all over the floor.
    • Manéo Jung-Espinoza gets this when he travels into the Ring, entering the Slow Zone; since his ship is traveling way too fast at the time, it's forcibly decelerated, and the inertia and sudden g-forces tear his body completely apart, leaving him as nothing more than a red splat left of him.
    • Inside the Ring Station, the leader of Bobbie's platoon throws a grenade that leaves a dent in the floor. The commander is then lifted into the air by the station, disassembled, and broken down into his matter to refill this dent.
  • 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 "longbone" 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.
    • Murtry doing this to the belligerent but unarmed Belter thug Coop on Ilus is what sends the already fragile RCE-Belter relations into a rapid downward spiral.
  • 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.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: In "Down and Out", the guards at the prison have biometrically-locked guns that only respond to their individual users. When deprived of her gun against a prisoner with mods that make him super-strong, the guard grabs the gun of a dead colleague and uses his hand to fire it.
  • Boss Subtitles: 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, who starts to instead look to first Prax and later Anna as his new "moral compasses".
    • 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 sympathizers 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."
    • Amos lives this trope, often to the disgust, anger or unsettlement of other characters. The main crew gets used to it after a while.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Rare example of played straight, done a lot, AND justified. In zero-g, bodies, especially with grav boots on tend to remain standing. People in general are easier to pick up. The bullets themselves need low penetration to avoid punching holes in the ship’s hull, out into space. This creates a lot of scenarios where dead bodies can be used as temporary cover, or someone can be grappled onto and used to absorb low penetration rounds.
  • 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.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • The Mormons as a whole seem to serves as this system-wide. Nobody ever takes them seriously, their plan to colonize another star system via Generation Ship is regarded with amusement at best, and when this ship is days away from embarking on its journey, it gets hijacked by Fred Johnson to be used as a giant battering ram against the Protomolecule-infested Eros. The church's official complaint to the U.N. doesn't get more than the most superficial considerationnote , and when the hijacked ship is eventually recovered it... gets turned into an OPA dreadnought instead of being returned to them.
    • Of all the main characters, Amos always seems to end up getting the short end of the stick. If the plot calls for a protagonist to be grievously wounded, you can bet it'll hit Amos most of the time, and hardest at that. His status as The Big Guy doesn't help because his being the most combat-proficient crew member means he's also the most likely to get shot, cut or beaten up. Aside from physical injuries, Amos is also supremely unlucky in just about anything that concerns his private life, so far culminating in being forced to kill his kinda-girlfriend in self-defense late in Season 4.
  • 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, and Captain Kirino of the MCRN Hammurabi.
    • Fred Johnson for Tycho Station.
    • Camina Drummer, Johnson's Number Two, becomes this for the repurposed Nauvoo (now the OPAS Behemoth) as of "Delta-V". This causes some tension with Klaes Ashford, her First Officer from Dawes's faction. When Drummer is seriously injured in "Fallen World" and temporarily out of commission, Ashford replaces her as captain.
  • 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?
  • Central Theme:
  • Centrifugal Gravity:
    • Belter stations like Ceres and Eros are asteroids that have been artificially "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 Ring 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.
  • 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. He also becomes significantly more altruistic and selfless after discovering Julie Mao's corpse, to the point of performing a Heroic Sacrifice by convincing the resurrected Julie to have Eros crash into Venus instead of Earth.
    • Holden becomes more and more accepting of the fact that he lives in a Crapsack Solar System and even takes a certain level in cynicism, but still never lets go of trying to make the Solar System a better place for everyone.
    • Amos starts to develop the vestiges of an internal moral code for himself after he gains a Broken Pedestal for Naomi and forms an Odd Friendship with Prax.
    • Both Alex and Naomi find themselves Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life aboard the Rocinante, with Alex quickly realizing that he's at his happiest as the Roci's pilot. Meanwhile, Naomi takes time off to help work with the OPA on the Behemoth before figuring out that she truly misses being with her friends aboard the Roci more than anything else.
    • Bobbie Draper starts out as a typical gun-ho Martian Marine, but the massacring of her entire squad and the realization of The Conspiracy within the MCR government has her defect to the UN. Furthermore, she starts to better understand how many lies she's been fed her entire life and strives to earn her own independence from Mars, to the point where she both forms an Intergenerational Friendship with Chrisjen (even serving as her bodyguard for most of the first half of Season 3) and even becoming a crew member aboard the Rocinante.
  • 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.
    • Part of Melba Koh's introduction in Season 3 consists of her getting lectured on how not to install an electrical component lest it shut down the entire ship in a Disaster Dominoes effect. This knowledge comes in very handy in the season finale.
    • Holden's cancer. Or specifically, the medication he's been taking for it all the way since the Eros incident ends up being able to kill the blinding micro-organisms caught by everyone on Ilus inside the protomolecule structure.
    • Early in Season 5, Holden uses an injector to re-oxydize Monica Stuart's blood so she doesn't die oxygen deprivation. Later in the season, Naomi uses a similar injector to survive jumping through the vacuum of space without protective gear.
  • 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".
    • Played straight by Bobbie being strong enough to arm-wrestle her own Power Armor. When she battles the Hybrid!Katoa on Io in "Immolation", they both fall from a great height that damages her armor, leaving it as nothing more than dead weight around her. She uses this skill to lift her arm up high enough to shoot the Hybrid before it can kill her.
  • 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".
  • Civil War v. Armageddon: The Earth-Mars Coalition breaks down into interplanetary war and the Belters openly rebel against both planets due to the machinations of a Mega-Corp experimenting with — and failing to control — the alien Protomolecule that threatens to consume all life in the solar system.
  • 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.
    • "Caliban's War" ends with Fred Johnson finding the protomolecule that Naomi left for him, and Naomi revealing to Holden that she did so (and essentially betrayed his and the rest of the crew's trust), then cuts off before showing much of Holden's reaction to this.
    • "Immolation" ends with the protomolecule growth on Venus launching a jellyfish-like structure into space for purposes unknown.
    • "Dandelion Sky" ends as the Ring Station slows the "speed limit" in the Slow Zone down greatly, jolting every spaceship there to a grinding halt that injures or kills hundreds of people, and shows Holden things that happened in the past, leaving him in a Heroic BSoD.
    • "Abaddon's Gate" has this same station open up numerous other portals, leading to some 1300 habitable systems for humanity to explore. The Rocinante crew, now back together, decides to head through one of them to begin investigating what happened to the race of Precursors who built the Ring portal system.
    • "Cibola Burn" ends Season 4 with Arc Villain Inaros spacing Klaes Ashford before launching the last of six stealth-coated asteroids at Earth, with none of the protagonists being aware of the impending Colony Drop. However, Ashford managed to broadcast a warning before dying, setting the stage for Season 5.
  • Climate Change: 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.
  • 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 does this to 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. She even taunts him when she visits him to hear who he's working for:
    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.
    • The season finale of season 4 has Marco launching asteroids outfitted with Martian stealth technology at Earth, which make impact three episodes into season 5. Three hit Earth before the UN catches on and retasks their satellites to detect and destroy the remaining rocks, which is more than enough for Marcos to make his case that the rest of the solar system should fear retribution by the Belt.
    • He repeats the trick in the season 5 finale, engineering a stealthed meteorid storm on the fleet guarding the Sol Ring at the same time his own fleet moves into attack position. It turns what would have been a Curb-Stomp Battle against him into an almost complete rout. Marco only loses a few skiffs to the damaged capital ships, aided by a fleet of defecting Martians.
  • 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.
  • Commie Nazis: A downplayed variant with the Martian Congressional Republic. While their heavy nationalism, habitual disregard for Earthers and Belters, and insistence that they are the future of humanity comes across as disturbingly similar to Nazi Germany, their Space Cold War with the United Nations on Earth and other cultural attributes (such as government-planned economics being responsible for their terraforming efforts) bear more similarities to the Soviet Union.
  • 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.
    • Camina Drummer takes on the roles of many different characters at different times. In Season 2, she serves the roles of both her namesake (Fred Johnson's security chief) and Sam Rosenberg (Tycho's top engineer and friend of the Roci crew). In Season 3, she shares the role of Michio Pa (XO of the Behemoth) with Klaes Ashford, as well as filling that of Bull de Baca (Fred Johnson's protogee who's paralyzed by the hard deceleration). In Season 4, her material is basically entirely new. Then Season 5 sees her back in Michio Pa's new role as the polyamorous space-pirate who defects from the Free Navy.
    • 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, 2, and the first half of 3 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".
    • Similarly, Anna saves Naomi from Clarissa like this in "Fallen World".
  • 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.
    • In Season 4, Esai Martin turns out to be one. Although a reasonably decent man at heart, he abuses his position and connections to get rich by stealing valuable tech from the Martian government.
  • 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.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: The protomolecule, its effects, and the unknown intelligence behind it are less Independence Day and more "The Colour Out of Space".
  • 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 in certain respects, 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 social 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. Season 4 scratches away at the Martian veneer. The MCR faces an enormous unemployment crisis that it had been staving off by maintaining a disproportionately large military. With large numbers being demobilized, it becomes apparent that Mars simply doesn't have enough jobs to go around. The police are able to lockdown any area they wish and pull people in for questioning at any time. And, despite Martians' pride in being a dedicated and hard-working society, crime and corruption rot away at their institutions, just like on Earth and in the Belt.
    • 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, though it's likely the victim likely felt nothing in the split second it took for his head to be reduced to paste.
    • 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 colonists on his transit to Eros. Developments with the protomolecule see their ship hijacked, first as a massive bullet against Eros to knock it out of orbit and then repurposed as a Belter warship after that plan falls through.
  • 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 group of stealth ships. 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?
    • Bobbie vs Jules-Pierre Mao's assassins trying to kill her, Avasarala, and Cotyar. Bobbie has gotten her Power Armor back at this point, so when she shows up to save the other two, she no-sells all of the assassins' shots and easily wipes the floor with them.
  • 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.
  • Cyberpunk: 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.
  • Daddy Issues: Neither of the Mao sisters had a healthy relationship with their father. Julie, despite benefiting from Parental Favoritism, chafed under his hypocrisy and impossible expectations, which drove her to forsake her family and run away to the belt. Clarissa was The Unfavorite despite being devoted to their father, who never appreciated a single thing she did. This drove a wedge between Clarissa and Julie and became Clarissa's Freudian Excuse for much worse things.
  • 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. In Season 5, we learn she was right.
    • 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 (luckily, Prime Video picked up the show for a fourth season a few weeks later).
  • 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?"
    • Chrisjen Avasarala, full-stop. Just a few gems from her:
      "No, I wasn't murdered in the last 30 seconds."
      "I find it hard to believe that a Martian Marine would be fatigued from sitting in a chair."
      "This is going to be very tedious if you remain this dim."
    • Her bodyguard Cotyar Ghazi as well, to the point that most of his conversations with Avasarala are Snark-to-Snark Combat.
      Chrisjen: So, what do you think?
      Cotyar: Why do you pretend that you care about my opinion?
      Chrisjen: Indulge me.
      Cotyar: That's a fuckin' trap.
      Chrisjen: Oh, you're so predictable.
      Cotyar: Yeah, so are you.
  • Death by Adaptation: Sematimba, Admiral Souther, Cotyar, Tilly, Diogo, and Alex 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 Commie Land: While Mars is not specifically communist Bobby Draper escaping from the Martin embassy is styled directly after incidents and locations from West Berlin and the Korean DMZ.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Basia Merton has a brief apperance in Season 2, but does not return in Season 4, which adapts the book where he is a main character in. His role in the Ilus arc is given to his wife Lucia Mazur.
    • Although Miller's partner Havelock was given a larger role in Season 1 than in the first novel, when it came to adapting the Ilus arc where he's a viewpoint character, he's Adapted Out entirely.
  • 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 throughout Season 1 and the first half of Season 2, with Avasarala and others providing a Third Line, Some Waiting. Afterwards, other major characters, such as Bobbie, Prax, and Anna, have their own storylines and become deuteragonists and tritagonists to the Rocinante crew.
  • 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.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Fred Johnson is shot dead by Sakai during the Free Navy raid on Tycho. In the books, he dies from a stroke brought on by a combination of old age (the Fred of the books is much older than the one in the show) and having to use low-quality "juice" to avoid being injured by high g-forces for a prolonged period of time. His death in the books also happens an entire book/season later than in the show.
  • 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.
    • Pinkwater, the private police force that guards Winnipesaukee Island. After the rocks fall and their employers abandon them, Pinkwater shakes down the servants who maintain the Island's facilities for supplies and murder them if they refuse to hand them over. Erich laughs at their transparently obvious racket and they're forced to back down when confronted with actual criminals, though they come back in greater numbers.
  • 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.
    • The Space Cold War between the United Nations on Earth and the Martian Congressional Republic doesn't even try to avoid looking like the historical Cold War. In fact, the "Vesta Blockade" mentioned in the backstory where the cold war nearly went hot can be seen as an allusion to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    • The struggles of the Belter colonies for their independence bear many parallels with those of various native resistance and independence movements seen during the height and decline of European imperialism.
  • 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.
    • Amos's hometown of Baltimore is devastated when Marco drops asteroids on Earth.
  • 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".
    • Holden gives a heartfelt last farewell to Miller in "Cibola Burn". Due to the real Miller being long dead by then, he uses the Protomolecule sample that was projecting him into his head as a substitute before launching it into the Sun.
  • 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.
    • Ashford's death scene.
  • 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.
    • Lt. Nemeroff, a crew member of the Thomas Prince who has a crisis of faith after the ship passes through the Ring and eats his gun.
  • 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.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the fifth season finale, Alex abrudtly suffers a fatal stroke from being at a hard burn for too long. This is due to Cas Anvar being fired after the season had been filmed.
  • 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. Bobbie is similarly unamused when she actually gets a good look at it in "Assured Destruction" after she and Avasarala temporarily join the Rocinante.
  • 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.
    • In the first season, the UN Secretary-General (basically, the leader of Earth), Sorrento-Gillis, is The Ghost, and his second-in-command, Undersecretary-General Sadavir Errinwright, basically acts like the Dragon-in-Chief. Come Season 2 and onwards, Sorrento-Gillis is a significant onscreen character who sometimes overrules Sadavir's desires and doesn't always take his advice, making it weirder in hindsight that Errinwright had as much autonomy as he did with the decisions he made in Season 1.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Despite its many problems, Earth remains the only naturally habitable planet for humans until the discovery of the Ring network and still commands the largest and most capable navy in the entire system. Both Mars and the Belt see themselves as independent of the home planet, though they are ultimately dependent on Earth for survival: it is still the largest supplier of food in the system, and provides the biomatter that makes offworld farming possible.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Earth is rapidly heading in this direction, as ecological disaster, overpopulation, internal corruption, and political infighting chip away at its dominant position in Sol.
  • 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 a 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. And even ignoring all of that, it's frequently shown to be a complex lifeform that's only "alive" in a way humans can't normally understand it, and also completely violates the laws of physics whenever it shows up in the story.
    • Then there are the forces implied to have wiped the protomolecule's creators out, who are even less scrutable. It is uncertain if they are actually lifeforms in any sense of the word. The only hints to their existence are through mysterious spatial anomalies that are essentially holes in space. They have the power to disable protomolecule-based technology and disintegrate anything transiting Ring space.
  • 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 desperate 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 Launch Sequence: The Nauvoo is launched in "Godspeed" after being hijacked by the OPA to destroy Eros. Being a Generation Ship, it's so big that hundreds of smaller drone-ships have to dock with it and fire their engines to help it maneuver.
  • 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. In fact, despite Julie's defiance, he nonetheless favored her over her sister Clarissa.
    • Esai Martin, while not nearly as messed-up as the above example, is a Corrupt Cop who sells Martian government property on the Black Market to make enough money for his family of four to purchase tickets on the colony ships lining up to settle the newly discovered Ring worlds.
  • 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 landnote .
  • 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.
    • In Season 4, Holden has to take a sample of his own vitreous humor by jabbing a camera-guided syringe in his eye.

    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.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • When Ashford is Thrown Out the Airlock, his last actions are to send a covert message to make sure his death isn't in vain, then calmly sing as he floats to his death.
    • Miller in "Home", when he performs his Heroic Sacrifice to make sure Julie steers Eros away from earth.
  • "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:
    • Undersecretary Chrisjen Avasarala is this throughout the whole series. The Belter smuggler interrogated in "The Big Empty" says he's heard "many interesting tales" about her, and MCRN Ensign Sinopoli is awestruck to meet her in person in "Reload".
    • 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. The whole Rocinante crew, and Holden in particular, only becomes more and more famous as the series continues and their acts of heroism grow.
    • Anna Volovodov becomes this after she plays a crucial role in exposing Errinwright's treason and getting him arrested. When Monica needs to send out a broadcast to reassure the people in the Ring, she chooses Anna to be the one to speak because she's a known, trusted public figure whom others will listen to.
  • 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.
    • And those are just from the first four episodes; there are many, many more throughout the series.
  • 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. When they look at Outers, they see people surrounded by advanced technologies, while 90% of Earthers live in shantytowns. 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. They hold Belters in disdain in turn because of their obsession with resources; filthy laborers who become insanely violent if a single drop of water is spilled on a floor.
      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. They look at Inners and see people whose lives are a hell of a lot easier than theirs — absentee landlords to the 22nd century equivalent of 19th century African colonies or Appalachia in Space -— a place where poor local people dig out their natural resources at the behest of distant outsiders who "own" the land, get paid a pittance, and spend it on manufactured goods made by the same distant outsiders. 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). After the OPA convert the Nauvoo into a dreadnought, they rename it OPAS Behemoth.
    • Marco Inaros' Free Navy uses FN as their ship prefix, according to a Freeze-Frame Bonus in "Nemesis Games".
  • Fantastic Slurs:
  • 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. Until the Season 5 finale.
  • 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.
    • A protomolecule Hybrid stows away onto the Rocinante, and the crew end up in one of these as they try to get it out of their ship and destroy it in "Caliban's War".
    • The protagonists have to do this again in the Ring, especially in "Abaddon's Gate", where it's taken Up to Eleven: they have to stop Ashford from firing at the Ring Station, which will cause it to see humanity as a threat and not only kill everyone in the Ring (including nearly all the major characters), but destroy the entire solar system, killing all of humanity.
  • 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 Twist: 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.
    • "Intransigence" reveals that Melba is actually Clarissa Mao, Jules-Pierre's daughter and Julie's sister. We see more of Julie's tempestuous relationship with her father, and how, despite Clarissa being the obedient daughter while Julie was the rebellious one, their father still preferred the latter, to the former's resentment.
  • 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.
    • In the two-parter Season 1 finale, water is shown leaking all over Eros Station. Given how important water is as a resource to people in the Belt, this shows that the owners of Eros are up to something, since lack of maintenance on critical water infrastructure displays that they intend to write the whole station's population off.
    • If you look closely at the damages inflicted on the armor suits of the UN and Martian marines on Ganymede, it's pretty obvious that these weren't caused by weapons fire (they look very reminiscent of claw marks), which foreshadows two things: the brief appearance of the protomolecule hybrid directly after the battle, and the later revelation that the top brass in both governments knew from the beginning that this wasn't actually an Earth-Mars border clash.
  • 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 Lines, All Waiting: Season 4 starts with three plot lines that quickly split into four. Two of them interact extensively while the other two are almost completely self-contained.
    • Holden and Amos try to deal with the Earthers, Belters and Protomolecule structures on Ilus.
    • Naomi and Alex work to support them from orbit while trying to keep the expedition's ships afloat after the Protomolecule stops all nuclear fusion from working in the planet's vicinity.
    • On Mars, Bobbie struggles with her new life as a civilian before events force her to become part of a highly illegal black market smuggling ring.
    • On Earth, Avasarala is playing her usual political games as part of her reelection campaign, with some minor connections to the Roci's crew's adventures on Ilus.
  • 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.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Anna's "Reason You Suck" Speech to Clarissa/Melba in "Congregation" pretty much boils down to this:
    I keep looking for a way to care about you. I think, "Her father was a terrible person." But a lot of people have terrible parents, and...I think "Well, she's clearly a damaged person", but then...who isn't? So, I'm down to "Maybe she has a brain tumor?"...Do you have a brain tumor?
  • 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.
    • Then there’s Ilus. “You’re going to experience 200 km/h winds, followed by a tsunami. Fusion appears to have stopped being a thing and our engines won’t start. ...and the shuttle we sent to rescue you vaporized. We have no explanation for that.” “What’s going on with the moon?” “Oh... it appears to be melting.”
  • 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.
  • Gatling Good:
    • Warships continue to use oversized gatling guns for point defense and close quarters combat alike. Since only cruisers and battleships appear to be capable of mounting the much more powerful railguns, any smaller class of warships lays down a dense hail of armor-piercing bullets instead that usually kills the target ship's crew without dealing critical damage to the ship itself.
    • The Arm Cannons Martian Marines wield integrated into their Powered Armor take the shape of ultra-compact, belt-fed miniguns chambered in a 6.5mm caliber that's available with a variety of bullet types.
  • 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, some original 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Seasons 2 and 3.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 possibly spreading the protomolecule.
    • After the Ring drastically lowers the speed limit, killing hundreds of people and injuring hundreds more on all the ships that are inside it, Ashford offers that any of these ships who wish to do so may dock at the OPAS Behemoth for medical treatment, since it's the only ship in the Ring that's capable of creating Artificial Gravity, and gravity is necessary for the wounded to be able to heal properly.
  • 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".
  • Gratuitous Latin: Ancient Grome provides many middle names in the 23rd Century: Juliet Andromeda Mao, Fredrick Lucius Johnson, and Josephus Aloisus Miller.
  • 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 bitterly 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 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.
  • Happily Married:
    • Chrisjen Avasarala and her husband Arjun are shown to love each other dearly, even if the latter is a minor Satellite Character.
    • Frank DeGraaf and his husband Craig were this, before the former's death devastated the latter.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Miller lives, acts, and even dresses like one in his dark coat and trilby hat.
  • Hate Plague: The Protomolecule infestation that afflicts the battleship UNN Agatha King over Io acts like this. Sailors exposed to it lose their minds and begin physically attacking other crew members, howling incoherently as they do. Cotyar scuttles the ship by sabotaging the main reactor to prevent it from spreading further.
  • 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 in comparison to Martians and Belters.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Subversion: 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. It's then darkly subverted when it soon becomes clear that he only intends to fan the flames of war between Earth and Mars in order to help cover his own tracks.
    • Played straight: Melba/Clarissa Mao is left feeling deeply remorseful for her actions in the second half of season 3, which include framing Holden and hurting or brutally killing numerous people in order to get revenge on Holden for her father, Jules-Pierre Mao. Her guilt, combined with a "Reason You Suck" Speech from Anna and overhearing a conversation between Holden and Naomi that makes her realize she was wrong about him, convinces her to give up on her revenge and change her ways, and even leads to an attempted Heroic Sacrifice as she saves the two of them from being killed by Ashford and stops him from firing at the Ring Station, essentially saving the day and all of humanity.
  • 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 has a depressing tendency of causing even more trouble in this Crapsack World.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Holden has a brief one in "Dulcinea" when the Canterbury is destroyed.
    • Miller suffers one upon finding the mutated corpse 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.
    • Holden goes into one after the Ring Station shows him visions of the past, including how it destroyed entire star systems that it perceived as a threat.
  • 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 briefly 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.
    • Drummer attempts this on two separate occasions (once to save Ashford, and once to try to take Diogo down with her so he can't stop Holden and Naomi). The first one counts as a non-fatal example since she survives with serious injuries (though she didn't think she was going to), and in the second case, Naomi manages to take care of the problem before she goes through with it.
    • Clarissa also has non-fatal one that she didn't expect to survive in "Abaddon's Gate" to stop Ashford and his men from killing Holden and Naomi and firing the laser at the Ring Station (which would lead to it destroying the entire solar system); she takes a shot to the gut, but lives.
  • Hero Stole My Bike:
    • The Martian frigate Tachi is repurposed as the Rocinante, although characters debate whether it's a legitimate salvage or thievery.
    • Done on a massive scale, twice over, when the generation ship Nauvoo is first taken from the Mormons to deal with the Eros crisis, and then, after it's retrieved by the OPA, they keep it instead of returning it and turn into their flagship, the Behemoth.
  • 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.
    • Bobbie has to attempt this very carefully with missiles from a UN ship working for Errinwright; if she goes too slow, the missiles will hit them, but if she goes too fast while trying to get away from them, the G-forces will give the elderly Avasarala a stroke and kill her. Luckily for them, the Rocinante shows up to defend them.
    • In "It Reaches Out", two different ships from two different navies fire on the Rocinante after Holden is framed for a terrorist attack on a UN ship. On instructions from "Miller" (a manifestation of the protomolecule that only Holden can see), Holden has Alex enter the Ring at a slow enough speed to not trigger the "speed limit" to avoid the missile.
  • 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.
    • Admiral Nguyen remotely launches pods containing protomolecule hybrids from the secret facility on Io. One of the pods collides with the Admiral's ship, infecting it with the protomolecule and ultimately leading to the deaths of everyone on board.
  • 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.
    • Dr. Strickland has one of these when Amos stops Prax from killing him, thinking he is saving his life. In fact, Amos was preventing Prax from dirtying his hands, and does it himself.
  • 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.
    • They have another case of this in "IFF" when they receive the distress signal sent out from the Razorback by Bobbie and Avasarala; Holden and Amos want to ignore it (since they're already on a time-sensitive mission to help Prax get his daughter back), while Naomi and Alex want to help (especially once they realize what ship it is). Their temporary fifth member, Prax, breaks the tie and decides they should respond to it.
  • 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.
    • They later come back and retrieve the sample again to do this for real, but Naomi still disagrees, so she secretly hides it once more and gives its location to Fred Johnson, to make sure that the Belt has a sample of it. Needless to say, her crewmates are not pleased when they learn about this.
    • 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:
    • The Mars government as a whole has a superiority complex compared to Earth, and Martians see themselves as the true future of humanity, but they look down on and oppress the Belt just as much as Earth does, even though Martians actually have quite a bit in common with the Belt themselves.
    • 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.
    • Anderson Dawes's Cold Equation story about his life to Miller paints him as this in Miller's eyes, since he talks about the importance of sacrificing one's life for a cause and is heavily implied to have purposely never answered Julie Mao's distress call and allowed her to die, but is unwilling to make this sacrifice himself.
    • Dr. Antony Dresden describes what the protomolecule does to a human being as "incredible" and the victim as "fortunate" and "blessed"...while being very careful to make sure that he himself does not become infected by it.
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    I-M 
  • 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 (some ships' couches rotate and lean to try and lessen the load on people's bodies), 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.
  • 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, "You're 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 slowly shows the vestiges of a moral compass and a genuine 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!"
    • Automation in general has advanced to a point where 50% of the Earth population is unemployed (and of those listed as "employed", doubtless many are underemployed) and reliant on government subsidies.
  • 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.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: When Clarissa Mao calls Amos from prison in the Season 4 premier, she thanks him for giving her minor mechanical tasks to perform aboard the Roci on the way back from the Slow Zone. She also mentions that at one point, he sent her to the airlock where she found the safeties overridden—meaning she could have spaced herself with the push of a button—and asks if that was done on purpose. Amos confirms that it was, but unusually for this trope, there was no implied demand. As he puts it, "If I was staring down a life sentence, I'd want to at least have the option." Amos knew she recognized that she was motivated by severe Daddy Issues, was genuinely remorseful for everything she had done, and had nearly gotten herself killed helping them aboard the Behemoth, and he believed that at least giving her the option of a quick suicide was the decent thing to do for her.
  • 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.
  • 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 dorky 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. It's mentioned that the Donnagers' railguns draw so much power that most of the battleship's reactor output needs to be rerouted to actually deploy them, which is one of the major hurdles real-life magnetic weapons are facing today.
  • 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 War Room of the UN 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 has significantly advanced. On the Inner Planets, 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). Artificial blood is readily available for transfusions and can be modified for specific medical purposes (i.e. hyperoxygenation for resuscitation); using human blood donors is a sign of true emergency. Paralyzing spinal cord injuries can also be fully repaired, although it takes some time for artificial nerves to be grown.
    • 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.
  • Motive Rant: Murtry gives a truly mustache twirling, Good Needs Evil one to Holden at the end of "Saeculum". Holden immediately responds with a Shut Up, Hannibal!.
  • 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.
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