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Left to right: Doctor Claire Finn, Security Officer Alara Kitan, Helmsman Gordon Malloy, Captain Ed Mercer, First Officer Kelly Grayson, Lt. Commander Bortus, Navigator John LaMarr, Isaac. The USS Orville is shown below.
The Universe has a crew loose.

The Orville is a live-action Science Fiction Comedy/Dramedy television series created by, and starring, Seth MacFarlane in an homage to classic Star Trek. It premiered on Fox on 10 September 2017.

Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane), an officer in the Planetary Union, finally gets to live out his dream of exploring uncharted space as the captain of the USS Orville, a mid-level exploratory vessel. Joining Ed on this adventure is a crew packed with colorful characters from all over the galaxy including, to his chagrin, Kelly Grayson, his XO and ex-wife.

The series features many connections to Star Trek; Penny Johnson Jerald (Kasidy Yates on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) plays Doctor Claire Finn and fellow Star Trek alumni Brannon Braga, Robert Duncan McNeill, David A. Goodman, James Conway and Jonathan Frakes are involved behind the scenes. Several actors from various Trek series have also made guest or cameo appearances.

The first official trailer can be viewed here and the second trailer here. Now has a Recap Page.

On November 2nd 2017, Fox announced the series would be renewed for a second season.


Tropes in this series:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Yaphit to Dr. Finn. Not surprising, considering he's a sentient blob.
  • Ace Pilot: Gordon Malloy, the helmsman of the Orville, along with navigator John LaMarr.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Much of the first season involves a main character tagging along with Captain Mercer or XO Grayson, or taking a larger spotlight than the rest of the crew. Even though the pilot first episode introduces the crew as a whole, it still focuses on the relationship between the Captain and his XO.
    • Episode 2 revolves around Alara taking command after Mercer & Grayson are captured, while Episode 10 continues her character development with an episode dedicated to her overcoming fears and insecurities.
    • Episode 3 is about Bortus and his species' laws regarding female offspring.
    • Episode 5 and 9 both centre around Ed & Grayson's relationship with the guest character for that episode.
    • Episode 6 has Gordon joining Mercer on an infiltration mission to a Krill ship.
    • Episode 7 is ostensibly about John LaMarr despite having nothing to do with his life on the Orville. Episode 11 has John being pushed into a command role to take over the Engineering department.
    • Episode 8 has focuses on Doctor Finn (and her two kids) & Isaac surviving after a crash on an unknown planet.
    • Episode 12 is primarily about the impact accidentally influencing a civilization has on Kelly, though it also focuses on the Ed/Kelly relationship, too.
  • Aerith and Bob: An Inverted example in "Krill." While disguised as aliens, Ed panics when asked for his and Gordon's name, and blurts out "Chris and Devon." The aliens comment that those are unusual names, but otherwise don't question it.
  • An Aesop: episode "Majority Rule" is one about the evils of social media fueling manufactured outrage through the court of public opinion.
  • Affectionate Parody: At first glance, the show comes across as a spoof of Star Trek that lampshades and pokes fun at all the tropes Trek is known for while mixing in low-brow humor. However, the show is also a sincere attempt at celebrating the optimism and thrill of exploration of Trek, and is deliberately being positioned as the antithesis of all the gritty sci-fi shows currently on the air.
  • Alcubierre Drive: The Orville's quantum drive is explained to be an Alcubierre-White variant in supplementary material.
  • Aliens Speaking English: All of the aliens speak English. This is justified somewhat when it's those in Union service. Even those on their own planet do as well though. The first season episode "Into the Fold" finally confirms that this is due to the Orville crew using a translator of some type.
  • Amicable Exes: Ed and Kelly are slowly moving towards that, especially after the revelation that Kelly could have possibly been under the influence of alien pheromones when she slept with Darulio. They even make an attempt at rekindling their relationship but ultimately decide that their working relationship is more important.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: When Ed and Kelly wake up in a replica of their old apartment, they briefly speculate that they've been sent back in time, then dismiss that thought as crazy. That said, there is very little evidence to suggest time travel and more evidence to suggest something mundane is the cause, such as locked doors preventing them from leaving.
  • As You Know: In the episode "New Dimensions", Kelly explains to LaMarr that with the advent of matter replicators, status and rank in society was no longer measured by wealth and physical possessions but rather skill and reputation. While this is something LaMarr already knows, she does this recap to set up her pitch that he consider pursuing the Chief Engineering position.
  • Bad "Bad Acting":When Ed and Gordon are sent to infiltrate the Krill in episode six, they don't make much attempt to act the part; while the Krill are very obviously stoic and reserved, Ed and Gordon are... themselves, mostly. Gordon in particular insists on going off on long asides. He's so bad at fitting in that at times it seems like he's trying to get them caught.
  • Belly-Scraping Flight: This trope actually breaks a crash-landing shuttle in half in "Into The Fold", separating Dr. Finn from Isaac and her sons.
  • Birds of a Feather: Ed and Kelly's broken marriage makes it difficult for them to get along, but they clearly share a dry sense of humor and a snarky outlook towards life.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • "Pria" - Good news, the ship didn't blow up in the Negative Space Wedgie or end up as an artifact in an alien museum via Timey-Wimey Ball. Bad news: Pria broke Ed's heart by revealing she was mostly using him to get the ship, and she vanishes when the wormhole was destroyed.
    • "Krill" ends with Ed and Gordon being able to save the Union colony and were able to obtain the Krill holy book as well as an entire Krill cruiser. While they managed to spare the Krill children aboard the cruiser, they did kill all the adults on the ship to accomplish this. As the children just watched Ed and Gordon kill their parents, these kids now have every reason to hate the Union as they grow up.
    • "Cupid's Dagger". The episode's minor and major threats are resolved, but it is strongly implied that Ed and Kelly's divorce, predicated on her sleeping with Darulio, could possibly have been avoided as she might have been under the influence of Darulio's alien pheromones at that time.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    • Moclans are an all-male species... who lay eggs to reproduce... and are sometimes born "female". They also urinate only once a year and can eat almost anything.
    • Darulio's people emit powerful pheromones while in heat, powerful enough to induce all-consuming lust, even if that person hated the carrier seconds earlier.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Moclans reproduce by laying eggs, although they are male. Or at least it seems that way to begin with...
  • Blob Monster: Yaphit, the only gelatinous lifeform aboard. He's constantly trying to hit on Dr. Finn but is actually a pretty good engineer, especially since he can get into places humanoids can't.
  • British Brevity: Unusually for a network show debuting in the fall, the first season is capped at 13 episodes, with there having been no option for a "Back Nine" order to be exercisednote . The first season's episode count was later reduced to 12, with one already-completed episode being held for the second seasonnote .
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Mercer assigns Malloy as the helmsman because, despite being having been previously benched because he annoys Union Central top brass so much, he is also an Ace Pilot and Mercer's best friend.
    • Subverted with Mercer himself, who seems like he's going to be this, but is a perfectly capable officer who just has a dry sense of humor.
  • Call-Back:
    • Malloy having a new leg is referenced in episode 6.
    • Alara's break-up with a fellow crewmember is referenced in several successive episodes.
    • Dr. Finn's fear of heights, first mentioned in "If the Stars Should Appear," is also referenced in "Into the Fold" and "Firestorm."
  • The Cameo: Liam Neeson as the long-dead captain of the colony ship.
  • The Captain: Ed Mercer, who is assigned to the Orville not because he's earned a promotion to a command position by performance at a lower rank, but because the Planetary Union has three thousand ships to crew and he's one of the few who are both available and qualified for the job. It helps that Kelly secretly argued on his behalf. A Downplayed Trope example, as he's implied to have had an exemplary service record prior to his divorce, which lead to him acting poorly in the year leading up to his introduction to The Orville. He has a brief moment of Heroic B.S.O.D. after learning about Kelly's role in his assignment but eventually admits that it doesn't matter in the long term, as he has more than proven that he's worthy of command.
  • City Planet: The Moclan homeworld is almost this, as every habitable part of their world's surface has been heavily industrialized. Only a few patches of desolate mountain range, too precipitous for factories, remain unpopulated.
  • Collapsible Helmet: Krill soldiers have helmets that retract at the push of a button. It's eventually revealed that they have an extreme sensitivity to light, which is why they need the helmets and why they don't use them during an indoor firefight.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Admiralty wears purple, command wears blue, medical wears green, operations wears orange (or a light red) and security wears a darker shade of red.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • The Orville is called in to protect a science facility that has developed technology capable of accelerating the flow of time. Before they explain, a banana is used in a demonstration, rotting in seconds. Ed and Kelly promptly tag team some snark until the explanation begins.
      Ed: So ... it's an anti-banana ray.
      Kelly: That's really interesting.
      Ed: We need no longer fear the banana.
      Kelly: Does it work on all fruit?
      Ed: What about salads?
    • When Kelly voices her suspicions of Pria to Ed (who is smitten with her), she comments that if she's proven wrong, then Ed can "bang her on the kitchen sink for all I care!" Ed balks, citing that sex in a kitchen wouldn't be hygienic.
    • Isaac, being Kaylon, is completely unable to truly understand emotion. Pretty much any social situation with him that isn't strictly scientific is this trope.
  • The Comically Serious:
    • Lt. Commander Bortus is nearly monotone and definitely serious. Naturally, he's the subject of many a joke, such as when he spends the second episode hatching an egg while completely naked. Gordon is clearly trying to invoke this when, for example, he convinces Bortus to sing "My Heart Will Go On" for karaoke.
    • Isaac is like this too, due to his role as the show's Spock analogy.
    • Captain Mercer occasionally comes across as this, as well, as the show's nature sometimes forces him to deliver bizarre lines in an authoritative tone. Lampshaded in "Firestorm" after Alara is attacked by a clown when Ed, in all seriousness, warns his crew to be on the lookout for pies and seltzer bottles; it's later revealed that this is a simulation of Ed programmed by Isaac, who has been depicted previously as taking statements and jokes literally.
  • Cool Starship: The Orville looks seriously sleek and pulls off some pretty cool tight maneuvers in the pilot and in later episodes.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage:
    • All things being equal, Ed Mercer wasn't exactly on the short list for command of a starship. But, as the admiral meeting with him admits, they have three thousand ships to staff and are in dire need of captains to command them, so he's getting a shot. In actuality, however, they wouldn't have brought him on if not for Kelly secretly pleading on his behalf.
    • Kelly also gets the chance to be his first officer because of this alleged shortage but also because her father is close friends with the Admiral.
  • Culture Justifies Anything:
    • This is the Moclan stance in "About A Girl." Their culture teaches that being born female is a genetic defect that is to be corrected as soon as possible. Even after being shown empirical evidence that this is not so even among their own species, they still hold to their beliefs.
    • Darulio's people are apparently so open about sex that they consider turning down an offer to sleep with someone as rude. Add pheromones that can be transferred by touch and induce crazy, overwhelming lust in their recipients, and...well, there's a reason he has so many entries on the "YMMV" page.
  • Dark Is Evil: Played straight, but strangely, with the Krill. Yes, they're the series primary villains. Yes, they are religious nuts who plan to wipe colonies off the map simply because their religion teaches the galaxy belongs to them alone. And they also react to ultraviolet light the same way as a classic vampire.
  • Damsel out of Distress: In episode 8, Doctor Finn is captured by a hostile native after her shuttle crashes on an uncharted world, but is able to break out of her cell, arm herself, defeat the alien, and escape on her own.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The show pulls the "decon" switch on a lot of Star Trek tropes, from the silly (shuttlecraft with seatbelts, the replicator being used for tequila and pot brownies) to the serious (the Prime Directive in "Mad Idolatry"), and plays them for comedy (sometimes veering into outright Gallows Humor), but it pulls the "recon switch" by showing why humanistic values are still the right call, even (or especially) when it could hurt the heroes in the long run.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • It's mentioned that humans in the future no longer have zoos, discussing it as a barbaric practice.
    • Marijuana is now openly accepted, to the point that it is possible to freely order pot brownies via the ship's food replicator. Additionally, it is implied that Kelly is a frequent user of particularly strong marijuana, and yet is still a ranking Commander and first officer of a ship.
    • Boxing and other "blood sports" stopped being practiced on Earth centuries ago, though Alara spends a lot of her recreational time practicing boxing in the simulator, while other crew members use their simulator time to act out swordfights and pistol duels.
    • Most Moclans are male, so the rare female is viewed as an aberration to be corrected.
      • When the human crew points out the fact that gender is not an aberration in their societies, they are called out on it, with several Moclans noting that what is right for one species is not necessarily right for another.
    • It's noted in "Krill" that space-faring societies tend to become very secular. The Krill are an exception, and their religion teaches that all other beings are on par with how we see bugs.
    • Darulio's people are apparently so casual about sex that they consider turning down an offer to roll in the sheets to be rude and are oblivious to the concept of consent.
  • Designer Babies: Kaylon, being entirely mechanical beings, use a central computer to add new members to their race that are expressly designed to fit specific needs within their society.
  • Disappeared Dad: Downplayed Example. While Claire is a single mother with two sons, her responses to Isaac's questions about two-parent families and her decision to have children reveals that she "never found a man I wanted to have them with" implying she never intended for a "dad" to be a necessary part of her family structure.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: "About A Girl" mirrors the common practice of "correcting" intersexed babies' genitals if they are "ambiguous" (that is, do not align neatly as either male or female). In this case, the baby is not intersexed, but female, and the Moclans enforce an all-male society (female babies are very rare among them). There are also the issues of how much parents should be allowed to determine children's futures, and specifically regarding surgery that isn't medically necessary (circumcision, a real-life issue where this comes up, is one example used in the episode). Plus sex reassignment surgery in general of course.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Both Kelly and Ed have sex with Darulio while influenced by his pheromones to feel attraction toward him. This isn't something he can control, granted, but he didn't have to sleep with them. Of course, his culture considers rejecting an offer of sex rude, so it's fair to say they don't have the same consideration of consent. Nobody calls it rape, or even wrong, after finding out though. The same also goes for Dr. Finn's willingness to have intimate relations with Yaphit when he gets Darulio's pheromones rubbed off on him, though in Yaphit's case he was ignorant of the situation (he'd been pining after her for a while, and thought that he'd finally gotten to her).
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Isaac says he's fascinated by biological beings' interpersonal relationships when Alara recounts her love life, and that he'd be happy to "attempt sexual relations" with her. She politely declines.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "About A Girl" ends with the Moclan court ordering that the baby undergo sex reassignment, against the wishes of Bortus but in line with his mate's preference.
    • "Krill" ends with not only a failure to change the Krill's hostile belief system (save for one, maybe) but with a strong chance of reinforcing those hostile beliefs.
    • "Majority Rule" ends well for a crew member, but not so much for the two people the crew went to save: one is killed, and the other is left permanently lobotomized.
  • Dramedy: Cast and crew explicitly refer to this series as being part of this genre. The situations the crew find themselves in are very serious, but their reactions are often comedic, and their side conversations almost always are.
  • Drinking on Duty:
    • Malloy has a beer while shuttling Mercer to the Orville. Mercer is not amused by this, especially when Malloy pretends to be a Drunk Driver and almost causes a crash.
    • Alara unexpectedly finds herself in command. One of the first things she does is order a shot of tequila to try and calm her nerves. She does it again later before making a command decision.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Halston Sage's make-up for Alara initially included a heavy brow portion (as seen in the pilot) but this was removed by the second episode to allow Sage's eyebrows to be visible. (Doubles as an unintentional Shout-Out to Star Trek: The Original Series which saw Mr. Spock's makeup also undergo noticeable changes between the show's first two pilots and the weekly series).
    • Isaac was originally the ship's science and engineering officer before this was dropped in favor of having him solely be the science officer while introducing a new Chief Engineer.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • The Krill commander in "Old Wounds" wants to use newly-developed temporal technology for evil purposes, but he's also happily married and sides with Kelly in needing to take the time to work on one's marriage in order to make it work.
    • The episode "Krill" has Ed encounter a Krill schoolteacher whose brother was on board a warship he ordered destroyed. The same schoolteacher believes that humans have no souls and sees nothing wrong with testing a planet-scale WMD on a peaceful farming colony.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: First Ed and Kelly, then Malloy, and then everyone else on the Orville.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Each time they've faced off against the Krill, it's always been against warships that significantly dwarf (and outgun) the Orville. The Union does have heavy cruisers, but even those appear to be smaller than Krill destroyers/battlecruisers.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Sparks fly across The Bridge during battle sequences, but don't kill anyone. This trope is lampshaded in "Krill" when Ed asks why the automatic fire suppression system didn't kick in only for Alara to point out that the system in question exploded and is on fire.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Moclans, due to evolving in a harsh environments with little edible food, are able to extract nutrients from almost anything. In a single sitting, Bortus demonstrated that he can eat a ball of wasabi, a cloth napkin, a cactus, and a glass without feeling any ill effects. The only time he feels stomach pains is when he accidentally ingests a piece of Yaphit, which resists digestion and struggles to get out.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Kaylons, a race of artificial lifeforms, view all biological life forms as inferior. However, it's revealed through Isaac's actions and commentary that their "racism" is not based upon any philosophical, cultural, or spiritual prejudice but rather the straight-forward logical evaluation that as artificial lifeforms they are, in fact, stronger, faster, smarter and more durable than biological lifeforms.
    • The Calivons take this Up to Eleven, as they see any species less technologically advanced than them as akin to animals, even keeping them in a zoo.
    • The Krill go for the "fundamentalist" variety of Scary Dogmatic Aliens, preaching that they are the only species with souls, and all other intelligent life can be slaughtered without a second thought.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix: Union ships have the registry prefix "ECV".
  • Fantasy Counterpart Religion:
    • The Krill religion seems to be heavily based on Abrahamic religions: a single god/prophet name Avis, church-looking temples, a holy book and an ethnocentric religion that claims they're the chosen ones of the universe. Like the Abrahamic religions, the Krill's has possibly been twisted by extremists too. The Krill blessing "Temeen Everdeen" seems similar to the Islamic phrase "Allahu Akbar". Also the old saying from their holy book, 'Judge not a stranger by his sheath but by his sword' contradicts much of what the Krill espouse, and is both intentionally funny (heroes are running around in holographic disguises) and unintentionally funny since the Krill do nothing but judge other species that way.
    • The religion shown on the ship in "If the Stars Should Appear" also seems to resemble Christianity, as they have a holy book and one creator god, plus more specifically nastier aspects of certain historical Christian churches (a theocracy and Inquisition-like authorities). The religion of Kelly in episode 12 is an obvious stand-in for Christianity. It's based on a miracle performed by Kelly on a hurt child (Kelly using a dermal scanner to repair a wound), which only grows until it becomes a planet-wide religion with the church having lots of power. Their religious leader's garb is heavily Pope-like, while his Number Two looks almost identical to a Catholic cardinal. They also go through a period eerily similar to the Spanish Inquisition, torturing and executing suspected "heretics". By their equivalent of the early 21st century, their religion has also become similar to modern-day evangelism, as well as the religious terrorism caused by Muslim extremists post 9/11.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The quantum drive engines of Union vessels, including the Orville.
  • The Federation: The ship and crew are part of the "Planetary Union", a direct reflection of Star Trek's United Federation of Planets. Planetary Union Central plays the role of Starfleet Command.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Why Ed divorced Kelly (and let his career start to sink badly). The pain of betrayal from Kelly's infidelity hurt him badly.
  • First-Name Basis: Regularly invoked, with Ed and Kelly rarely addressing their subordinates by their rank or surname. Of course, Ed is usually referred to as Captain to his face (though Gordon and Kelly often get a pass on this), but we often see characters such as Alara referring to him otherwise as Ed.
  • Foil:
    • The Calivon to the Kaylon. Both are well aware that they're technologically superior to the rest of the species shown thus far. However, where the former won't even talk to other species, regarding them as not unlike animals, the Kaylon (at least Issac) do regard organic sentients as such with rights to be respected. Issac, as his species's representative, is very confident in his abilities but rarely comes across as arrogant and patronizing; the only instance of him talking down to another person is when disciplining Dr. Finn's children, repeating a line that Finn had used verbatim. Likewise, he has thus far demonstrated no issue with following orders or cooperating with his fellow officers.
    • The Krill to the Calivon and the Kaylon, in regards to their xeno-relations. Unlike the Calivon and Kaylon who simply view most other species as curiosities to be studied to one degree or another, the Krill see other species as soulless abominations to be exterminated.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Alara's problem trying to blend in on Sargus 4 would have been solved with the holograph generators Isaac had made for the crew in the episode right before. However the previous episode also established that the generators had a flaw that caused them to short out, so Mercer might have vetoed its use during what was a culturally sensitive infiltration mission.
  • Guile Hero: Ed, especially when it comes to ship battles. The Orville isn't the biggest, baddest ship in space, so surviving against more powerful enemies means getting clever.
  • Holographic Disguise: In episode 6, Mercer and Malloy use mobile holographic projectors to disguise themselves as Krill in order to infiltrate a Krill ship.
  • Homage: The show is essentially a love letter to Star Trek and its aspirational ideals. The pilot episode also homages, in particular, Star Trek: The Next Generation's early days as a syndicated series, with ad breaks coming at odd times (referencing how syndicated shows are awkwardly cut to make room for extra ads) and the crew's departure from space dock featuring unnecessary reaction shots of various members staring at the viewscreen (referencing how early TNG episodes used this technique to try and make mundane special effects sequences seem more dramatic while also padding for time).
    • An overhead shot through the transparent bridge dome showing the crew busy at their stations is a direct homage to similar shots in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage," and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • Human Aliens: The species in "Mad Idolatry" are nearly identical to humans. Xelayans are also very close, though far stronger than human beings.
  • Idiot Ball
    • In episode 7, LaMarr gets himself arrested for "dry-humping" a statue of a famous person on an alien planet. And this was right after the Captain explicitly warned the away team not to do anything to draw attention to themselves.
    • Kelly does the same in the season 1 finale - no sooner has Issac finished telling her to be extremely careful about cultural contamination does she reveal herself, use tech to heal someone, and worse of all, sticks around long enough to introduce herself and get herself seen by a large group of natives.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Krill soldiers only score one hit during the entire firefight, and it's not even fatal. According to Mercer, getting shot in the shoulder still hurts like hell, but Grayson says that he only curses when he's overstating it.
  • Impossible Pickle Jar: In the pilot, Captain Mercer can't open a vault door and asks Pint-Sized Powerhouse security officer Alara to "open this jar of pickles for me." Instead of using her super strength to turn the wheel that opens the door, she just knocks it over, along with part of the wall. Captain Mercer then quips that he "Loosened it up for ya." This subsequently becomes a Running Gag, with Ed using the exact same "jar of pickles" phrase in subsequent episodes when he needs Alara to open doors that are too tough for him.
  • Improbable Age: Despite being Chief of Security, Kitan is in her early 20s. She explains that since it's rare for her kind to join the Union, they tend to get fast-tracked. In the very next episode, this becomes an issue when she finds herself temporarily in command of the ship during a crisis and lacks the experience to know what to do.
  • Indecisive Parody: Early reviews cited that the series couldn't seem to decide whether it wants to be a spoof of Star Trek or a mostly straight-played clone of it. As the series matured it became obvious that it was going to be a "love letter" to Star Trek and its inspirational ideals. It also became apparent that MacFarlane was classifying the show as a "parody" to allow him to offset legal challenges about heavily referencing the Star Trek intellectual property. note 
  • Inertial Damping:
    • Averted on the shuttlecraft, and to the benefit of our heroes when Mercer defeats a Krill stowaway by hitting the brakes. Because the Krill isn't wearing a seatbelt, he flies into the windshield. This potential risk doesn't stop passengers from regularly being shown taking their seatbelts off and walking around the cabin.
    • Also averted in "Krill" when the crew reacts to G-forces when their ship pulls away from the planet.
  • Info Dump: A large portion of the dialogue is expository, in reference to how Star Trek has to devote a lot of lines to explaining what is going on so the audience can understand the story. Given its status as a partial parody, the series usually lampshades this by often following an infodump (especially of the technobabble variety) with a joke.
  • Just Think of the Potential: Doctor Aronov extols the potential benefits of the quantum field manipulator, especially when it comes to feeding people with fast-growing crops and healing injuries in an instant.
  • Law of Alien Names: Lampshaded in "Krill," when Ed and Gordon try to come up with a list of plausible Krill names.
  • Lighter and Softer: Versus Star Trek: Discovery and the JJ Abrams films. In fact, the show was created to be this as a response to the Darker and Edgier route that other sci-fi shows have taken in recent years.
  • Mars Needs Women: Blob-like crewman Yaphit has the hots for Doctor Finn.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Ed and Kelly are a Downplayed example. Ed's no stranger to a fistfight or a gun battle, but relies more on his wits and his words to even the odds. Kelly is less inclined to talk her way out of trouble, and has no problem with a full-on brawl. It's also evident in the case of Darulio; Ed shows up to the date with fresh baked banana bread and a bottle of wine and is completely unable to keep himself from gushing like a schoolgirl while Kelly's forced attraction is pretty much a beeline to the bed. From a visual standpoint, Kelly tends to have a more aggressive posture, usually standing erect, while Ed slouches a bit.
  • The Medic: Doctor Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) is the Orville's chief medical officer and "one of the most accomplished physicians in the Planetary Union."
  • Mildly Military: LaMarr is overly casual even in comparison to the fairly easy-going crew of the Orville.
  • The Mole: One of the scientists at the Epsilon station is in league with the Krill.
  • Mood Whiplash: Pretty much has become a staple of the entire show, as scenes can go from someone cracking a joke at someone else's expense or being a Cloud Cuckoolander to a dead serious discussion about a topic or a scene of extreme violence.
  • Nepotism: Gordon gets the pilot spot due to being Ed's best friend, and Kelly has a lot of influence with the Admiral due to his friendship with her father, which she uses to put Ed in command. All three are perfectly competent in their roles, however.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Alara says it's hard to find a date as most guys are turned off by a girl who can effortlessly kick their ass with her pinky. She says that, so far, Ed is the only guy who doesn't seem to care about her strength at all.
  • No-Sell: The Orville's weapons don't inflict any damage to the Krill destroyer. Justified since the Orville is an exploration ship, trying to fight a dedicated warship the size of a Union heavy cruiser.
  • No Sense of Humor: Isaac is an artificial being that doesn't understand humor or sarcasm. In episode 4, Malloy tries to teach him practical humor.
  • Number Two: Kelly Grayson serves as the first officer of the Orville.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The show, while having comedic elements, isn't quite the MacFarlane comedy farce that trailers would have you think. Indeed, one comedic scene in the trailer is actually a somewhat serious scene in the actual episode it's from.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Surprisingly enough, the crew are all a bunch of seasoned professionals, with Captain Ed Mercer fully capable of doing his job. The Captain may be a bit neurotic, but most of his more ridiculous statements and actions are to keep people from shooting him through Confusion Fu. And even though Gordon and John come across as goofy comic relief a lot of the time, in the crunch they show themselves to be supremely competent and reliable. That said, this is somewhat of a Reality Ensues situation as in order to get to their positions as senior officers in the first place, they would need to be good at their jobs, a fact actually stated on screen by Kelly in "Command Performance" when she reassures Alara that the young officer can handle being in command. Taken Up to Eleven with John, who is eventually revealed to be the smartest person aboard the ship, save for Isaac. He's just lazy and has gotten used to hiding his true intelligence (he grew up on a farming colony). However, once he's forced to step up, he proves himself a capable engineer and commander, earning a promotion.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Kelly, when Mercer catches her in bed with a blue alien. Both times.
    • Bortus has this reaction when his hatchling comes out female.
    • Gordon's face says it all in the episode "Krill" when his and Ed's infiltration of a Krill ship goes awry.
  • One-Gender Race: Moclans have only males. Turns out they do have females, but they're rare and Moclan society mandates that they be surgically reassigned as males, as Moclans consider the female gender a horrific birth defect that needs to be fixed.
  • The Only One: As befitting an Indecisive Parody of Star Trek (which frequently exaggerated it to the extent of having the Enterprise be the only ship in response range of near-Sol space (as in the Federation's capital and military headquarters), it's not uncommon for the USS Orville to be the closest ship available to respond to a crisis, despite being only a mid-level exploration ship rather than a dedicated combatant. Justified in the pilot: the Planetary Union Fleet has a severe staffing shortage, which is a major reason Captain Mercer got command of Orville in the first place after wrecking his career following his divorce.
  • One World Government: Earth apparently has one in the future, not surprisingly.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions:
    • Discussed in regards to the Krill, as unlike most advanced civilizations, they have increased in religiosity rather than decreasing. Their religion teaches that other species are soulless abominations lacking in true intelligence and sentience, more akin to animals than people, going so far as to use captive humans as sacrifices.
    • Seems to be the way for society in general as by the 29th century, where "You can go to hell" is a complete non sequitur.
    • The Chief Engineer still exclaims "Oh my God" after a crewmember is badly hurt. Alara also uses this phrase, and she is an alien. Of course, for most even now that's just an expression.
    • The society influenced by Kelly during its Bronze Age eventually grows out of religious fundamentalism and embraces reason.
  • Parting Words Regret: In the opening of "Into the Fold", Dr. Finn's older son, Marcus tells his mother that she "sucks" because he's unhappy with her for making him come on the family trip when he doesn't want to go on it. After their shuttle crashes on an unknown world and they're separated, he fears she may be dead and expresses regret for it. When they finally get back in contact, she assures him that she knows people sometimes say stuff like this in anger and it doesn't mean they don't love each other.
  • People Zoo: The Calivon keep members of less technologically advanced species in a zoo on their planet, since they consider them to be like animals. Mercer and Grayson become their latest exhibit.
  • Percussive Therapy: Alara deals with guilt of failing to save Payne in "Firestorm" by annihilating punching bags in the simulator.
  • Pheromones: Darulio's species goes into heat once a year, releasing a pheromone and causing anyone who makes physical contact with them to become completely overwhelmed with sexual lust, regardless of gender or species.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Alara Kitan, the ship's security officer, comes from a high-gravity world. She shoulder-charges a locked solid metal vault-style door and smashes it clean out of the concrete wall it's embedded in. She can also leap great distances.
    Mercer: ... Loosened it for ya.
    • The Orville itself. Repeatedly mentioned to be "Mid-sized" it's dwarfed by the Union Heavy Cruisers. But the smaller ship can pack a wallop.
  • Planet of Hats:
    • Moclus, Bortus' homeworld, is home to the Moclans, a species in which individuals are universally male and culturally find the thought of females, at least within their own species, to be abhorrent. The planet's industrial base is also almost completely dedicated to weapons research and manufacturing.
    • Played with by Xelayas, Alara Kitan's homeworld. It initially appears that the Xelayan hat is that the planet has such a naturally high gravity that it bestows her species with Super Strength in human-normal environments. After some development however it becomes clear that the Xelayans themselves are highly disdainful of physical roles and prefer intellectual pursuits. Alara herself is viewed by her own parents as intellectually slow and deficient.
    • Kaylon-1, Isaac's homeworld, is a machine society. They see their own advanced technology lifeform as superior to biological lifeforms. The Kaylon's attitude stems from a purely logical perspective rather than any philosophical, cultural, or spiritual prejudice, yet it is perceived as Fantastic Racism by other species.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: The series opens with Ed walking in on Kelly having sex with an alien. The subsequent breakdown is why his career is so far off track for the rest of the pilot. It is revealed at the end of the pilot that the entire series can be traced to this event, as it is Kelly's guilt that led her to pull the strings to get Ed his post as Captain of the Orville. As of "Cupid's Dagger," it's also terrifyingly unclear as to whether Kelly actually consented or was taken advantage of by the alien's powerful pheromones.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: The humans on the crew are fond of referencing Earth's pop culture, much to the puzzlement of their alien shipmates who have no idea what they're talking about. The pilot featured a Pre-Mortem One-Liner by Mercer involving Arbor Day which is totally lost on his crew. Later episodes show the crew passing time by watching Earth fiction like the old Rudolph cartoon or Seinfeld, usually with the alien shipmates making amusing observations or misunderstanding the situations being presented.
  • Post-Scarcity Economy: The Planetary Union apparently has one, given there is no money anymore, and referring to another planet as "still capitalist" in "Majority Rule". In "New Dimensions", Kelly explicitly attributes this to the invention of Matter Replicator technology.
  • Proscenium Reveal: Episode 10, "The Orville S1E10 "Firestorm"" eventually reveals that all the problems Alara is dealing with in the episode are part of a simulation designed to help her overcome her fears.
  • Questionable Consent: "Cupid's Dagger". Darulio is in heat and is giving off pheromones that cause people to come into skin contact with him to become sexually attracted to him (in this case, Kelly and Ed at the same time). He (and the episode's writers) seems to have little comprehension of the implications; the closest he comes to acknowledging it, a statement that his species considers it rude to refuse sex, comes off as Culture Justifies Anything in context. It's revealed at the end of the episode that he may have been similarly in estrus when he slept with Kelly in the pilot.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: A Downplayed Trope example versus how odd they could have been, given the creator. Everyone is actually fully qualified for their job; they just have off-putting personalities.
  • Rapid Aging: The inventor of the quantum field technology is pushed into her own device, aging her 100 years in 10 seconds. This kills her, of course.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Ed when he's informed that Kelly is being assigned to his ship, which is stretched over several scenes as he sprints to his office.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Captain Mercer was an amazing officer but his poor behavior after his divorce ruined his reputation and stalled his career. Therefore, Mercer ends up getting his first command because fleet headquarters is desperate to staff their massive fleet. The Admiralty also takes another risk putting Mercer and Grayson together. However, they manage the risk by assigning the highly experienced Consummate Professional, Lieutenant Commander Bortus to assist, and if required, take over a command position.
    • When a spaceship is damaged/destroyed, its debris becomes a problem for other ships nearby.
    • Xelayans are fast-tracked through the ranks because their species rarely join the military, they are very strong by human standards and make excellent military officers. It sounds good in theory but it also results in very young officers being thrust into positions of responsibility that they're not adequately prepared for, as seen when Alara is forced to take command of the Orville and suffers extreme anxiety and self-doubt.
    • If you save the children of your enemies but end up killing their parents, those children grow up and are quite capable of holding a grudge.
    • It actually takes a few moments for a communications officer to "open a channel"; you can't just start talking immediately upon giving the order. This one is Played for Laughs.
    • The feud between two warring races in "Cupid's Dagger" is solved by exposing the rival leaders to alien pheromones, causing them to develop romantic feelings toward each other and order their respective fleets to stand down. However, the story itself points out that this truce won't last forever. Fortunately, they have a lasting solution with the discovery that their DNA proves that they have a common ancestor.
    • Centuries of societal convention are not going to be overturned just because you disagree with them, no matter how much evidence you bring to the table. Societal change is slow, ponderous and difficult, as seen in "About a Girl" and "Majority Rules". This one is especially noteworthy, since the original Star Trek is well-known for its Easy Evangelism.
    • Zig-zagged in the episode Mad Idolatry which reveals that the Union has a policy of avoiding "cultural contamination" (their equivalent of Star Trek's Prime Directive). At first it shows how Kelly's repeated involvement, despite her good intentions, caused her to become a historical religious figure leading to fundamentalism, war, and division in her name. However, by the time of their final meeting with the planet's representatives, we are shown that their society outgrew her influence by themselves, advocating the Star Trek ideal that if a race is going to survive, it has to evolve into a better version of itself. Yet, at the same time, their society is shown to be more technologically advanced than the Orville's universe, suggesting that Isaac's presence for 700 years may have inspired that society to greater advances because they knew an artificial life-form was possible and had one available for study.
  • Red Shirt: Generally averted throughout Season 1, where the crew are usually seen suffering treatable injuries but not killed. Even in the episode "Firestorm" with the actual death of Lieutenant Payne, it is subverted because he does not become a Forgotten Fallen Friend but actually receives a funeral, a eulogy, and a scene where Captain Mercer talks about how he hates having to write condolence letters.
  • Religion Is Wrong: Every time a religion makes verifiable claims thus far in the series, it's proven they're wrong.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: This trope might or might not be in effect in the episode "Pria," depending on how one interprets the Timey-Wimey Ball. One character states that the crew's memories would be altered as a result of a change in the timeline, which would avert the trope, but the overall outcome of the time travel, and one character's reaction at the end of the episode, seem to contradict this, requiring the trope to be in effect.
  • Robot Buddy: The android Isaac is an artificial life-form from a machine society that considers biological life-forms to be inferior. However, Isaac intentionally took on a posting aboard the Orville to study human interaction and is often seen socializing with the other crew and ends up bonding with Claire's children.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens:
    • Xelayans, like Alara, have ridged foreheads, noses, and ears. Between the pilot and second episode, the make-up was altered by removing a piece across the brow, allowing Halston Sage's eyebrows to become visible.
    • Moclans, like Bortus, have ridges and grooves across their entire heads, requiring more elaborate prosthetics for actors like Peter Macon. Bortus is also shown nude, necessitating a full-body costume that shows Moclans having leathery and spotted skin with ridges along the spine and chest.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In "Pria", the titular character's initial outfit has a giant red Black Widow symbol on the torso. Turns out she's not to be trusted. Ironically, she actually plans to save The Orville.
  • Running Gag: The show developed a few early on:
    • The human crew members making a reference to Earth pop culture and their alien peers not getting it.
    • Ed running into jammed doors he can't open and immediately asking Alara to use her Super Strength to take care of it, always with the same phrase:
      Ed: Alara, you want to open this jar of pickles for me?
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Krill are falling into the "religious fundamentalist" variety. They have a holy book that declares all other life forms are inferior animals without souls or lives worth considering, and consider it a holy mission to rule the galaxy.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Averted.
    • Mercer takes a moment to comment that 3,000 ships exploring a quadrant of the galaxy really isn't that many when you think about it.
    • There have been several situations where, even with faster-than-light travel, travel time or the time constraints of a task has been an issue. Often such instances comes with at least one cutaway showing how the crew reacts to that travel time such as watching TV while warping around.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: When acting Captain Alara is given direct orders to abandon her mission to recover the kidnapped captain and commander, she gets flak from the crew. She decides to step up and ignore the Admiral's orders in order to save them, and wins back the crew.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: In "Command Performance", Alara (as acting Captain) orders Isaac to tractor in a Calivon probe. It self-destructs when it moves too close to the ship, to prevent them from analyzing the technology.
  • Ship Tease: Although they are divorced, there have been several episodes with scenes teasing the possibility that Ed and Kelly still share a flame for each other.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Generally more serious than you might suspect. There are jokes and moments of inherent silliness here and there, but the pressure of commanding a starship and the moral conflicts the characters get into are largely played straight. Seth MacFarlane could have easily gone for pure farce, but he treats the material pretty earnestly, making it more of a Star Trek homage than a strong parody, with several episodes ending on somber notes.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Bortus and his mate. Bortus tends to be more of the masculine/manly type (from a human perspective) while Klyden is a bit more prone to emotion (from a human perspective) and emotional needs. That said, Klyden is also a stay-at-home dad stuck on a starship so that might be expected. On the other hand, Bortus is the one who laid and incubated their egg which is more of a female role for Earth biology. Klyden turns out to have been born female, for what it's worth.
  • Shout-Out: There are many many shout-outs to classic sci-fi shows and tropes:
    • The Orville's departure from space dock features a pass-by shot done on a physical model of the ship and the crew can be seen through a porthole as the camera swoops over the bridge. This is in reference to the opening credits of "The Cage", Star Trek's original pilot, and a shot which has received homages multiple times in the franchise, to include Star Trek: The Next Generation and the JJ Abrams reboot.
    • The show's opening credit sequence is reminiscent of Star Trek: Voyager's.
    • The second episode, "Command Performance," has Captain Mercer with a plush toy of Kermit the Frog and praising his virtues. In the same episode, Lt. Alara is mockingly referred to as "Dora the Explorer" by a couple of her crewmates. And of course, Doctor Finn describes herself as an "Obi-Wan" when giving Alara advice.
    • The Orville crew are shown traveling down to planets' surfaces using shuttles, poking fun at how Star Trek came up with the transporter because Gene Roddenberry realized it would be prohibitively expensive to show shuttles flying about in a 1960's television series.
    • The music for the mysterious derelict in "If The Stars Should Appear" is a clear homage to Jerry Goldsmith's music for V'Ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
    • The outfit that Pria is wearing when the Orville rescues her at the start of the episode looks like the command uniforms from Star Trek: The Next Generation: Red with black shoulders and arms.
    • In "Command Performance" when Alara enters Bortus's quarters and finds him naked he asks "Is it not customary to request permission before entering someone else's quarters?" Whether intentional or not (and if not, it's a huge coincidence), this is almost word-for-word Data's line to Commander Bruce Maddox, "Is it not customary to request permission before entering an individual's quarters?" in "The Measure of a Man" from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
    • And then there's the many, many in-universe references to popular media from the early 21st century and late 20th.
  • Shown Their Work: Thanks to supervising producer Andre Bormanisnote  The Orville has some very hard science at its core.
    • Union ships' quantum drives are based on the Alcubierre Drive (based on the work of Miguel Alcubierre) which, in theory, allows for faster-than-light travel while still keeping within Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. The reason why Union ship engines form three rings in the aft is because physicist Harold White postulated that a torus-shaped (or donut shaped) warp bubble would be much more energy efficient than a sphere-shaped warp bubble.
    • The Orville's interior is covered in fuzzy paneling. This is supposed to be organic plant material that continuously absorbs the carbon dioxide exhaled by the crew and converting it into breathable oxygen, thus reducing the need for a mechanical/chemical scrubbing system.
  • Space Cadet Academy: Union Point, where Mercer was top of his class.
  • Space Elves: Despite being Heavy Worlder people with Super Strength, it appears that the Xelayans are this if Alara's parents are any indication. They strongly favor intellectual pursuits and talk down to people they consider to be of lesser intelligence. As far as they are concerned, humans are "the hillbillies of the galaxy". Just to complete things, they have pointed ears.
  • Special Guest:
  • Spiritual Successor: To the original Star Trek series, most specifically Star Trek: The Next Generation. Word of God (creator and head writer Seth MacFarlane, in numerous interviews) is that the series was specifically inspired by the optimistic, forward-thinking tone of the early Star Trek series. The trope is further reinforced by the fact that the series is co-produced by several Trek veterans, most notably Brannon Braga, a veteran writer for the TNG-era Trek series and co-creator of Star Trek: Enterprise.
    • Averted with regards to Galaxy Quest. Despite numerous reviews and articles suggesting it also inspired The Orville, and that it is a spiritual successor, MacFarlane is on record that the movie did not inspire his series.
  • The Spock:
    • Lt. Commander Bortus sometimes comes across as very literal-minded, and generally maintains a logical approach to most subjects, but he can be persuaded to change his mind from outside influences.
    • Isaac fills Spock's science officer function and often comments on human emotion; doubles as "The Data" in this regard.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: The Planetary Union favors sleek rounded designs for its ships and shuttles with multiple engines forming distinctive arches in the aft.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet:
    • The most commonly-encountered type of Krill ship is a destroyer. In "Krill", Bortus calls the Krill vessel attacking the colony a battlecruiser, but it looks exactly the same as a Krill destroyer. Despite this, a Krill destroyer is about the same size as a Union heavy cruiser, so "destroyer" may mean something else to the Krill than it does to us.
    • In the same episode, the Orville rendezvous with a Union flagship, which is for the most part just a (much) bigger version of the Orville.
  • Starfish Alien:
    • Yaphit, a crewmember aboard the Orville that comes from a race that are essentially blobs of jelly, voiced by Norm MacDonald. Curiously, he finds human women attractive. Black human women. He openly states that Pria is the first white woman he's ever considered such.
    • Dr. Finn mistakes an aquatic serpentine alien botanist for a science experiment in "Old Wounds".
  • Statuesque Stunner: A Downplayed Trope example with real-life one Adrianne Palicki (5'11), as Seth MacFarlane is 5'10 himself and is put in a Scully Box set of boots to be slightly taller than her. They tower over most of the cast.
  • Stealth Pun: "Krill" reveals that the Krill god is named Avis, leading to a number of puns based on the rental car company. One of Avis Rent-A-Car's rivals is Enterprise, the name of the ship from Star Trek; though the episode avoids making a reference to that company, another, Hertz, is name-dropped.
  • Technobabble: Generally averted. While there are circumstances in which the science must be made up (usually in regards to some kind of Negative Space Wedgie), the solutions to various problems are usually grounded in some kind of scientific principle, up to and included the basic form of interstellar travel presented in the show.
  • Technology Levels: The series appears to play this straight, with an alien species we see in "Mad Idolatry" following the same ascent of technological and social progress we see the Earth underwent before, while surpassing them in the end.
  • The Theocracy: The bio-ship in "If the Stars Should Appear" is being ruled by a theocratic dictatorship who have misinterpreted the word of their former Captain Doral as divine scripture over the years.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The episode "Pria" involves some time travel, and it's... really not entirely clear how the different possible timelines / chains of events / memories that might exist as a result are supposed to be sorted out. One character says that an entire set of events would never happen now as a result of the time travel shenanigans, but the very continued existence of the Orville contradicts this... But it also seems that some parts of the time-line are un-done.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers focused on the comedy, but the show is much more of a drama with some comedic elements.
  • Trojan Horse: In the pilot, the crew rigs the quantum field manipulator to activate and accelerate time by 100 years when the Krill activate it, having glued a modified redwood seed to the emitter. Cue a redwood sapling splitting the Krill Destroyer in half.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment:
    • When the away team discovers the elevator leading the bridge of a massive colony ship in "If The Stars Should Appear", Ed tries to make small talk to pass the time. Kelly can't let it slide.
    Kelly: A thousand light years from Earth, and you're still awkward in the elevator.
    • This is a Running Gag in "Cupid's Dagger" in which Ed and Kelly are constantly interrupted in the elevator of the Orville by the entrance of a low-level crew member who seems bent on some sort of elevator music being installed. It's eventually made his project and towards the end of the episode, when he walks in yet again after the music is now playing, Kelly shouts at him, wondering if he just does nothing but ride the elevator all day.
  • United Space of America: Not surprisingly, being a direct reflection of the United Federation of Planets, the Union has definite shades of this, right down to the name prefix USS for their starships (Trek, in turn, adopted USS from the US Navy before Gene L. Coon came up with the Federation as a concept). In "About a Girl" it was implied that the Union has a federalist system, since member worlds obviously have a fair degree of autonomy, and "Majority Rule" confirmed that their system of government is some form of representative democracy.
  • Unwanted False Faith: After being mistakenly deified by a primitive people in "Mad Idolatry", Kelly works hard to prove her mortal status. However, her efforts are to no avail. In the end, they grow out of this on their own.
  • The Usual Adversaries: If a space-based or other military enemy is encountered, it's pretty much always the Krill.
  • Waif-Fu: Being a Pint-Sized Powerhouse, Alara Kitan is capable of this. Just ask Bortus in "Command Performance".
  • We Need a Distraction: In order to buy some time for Isaac to get the engines working, Ed and Kelly start arguing with the Krill commander about their failed marriage. It works for a bit, but he loses patience and fires a warning shot to get them back on task, forcing them to come up with an alternate plan.
  • We Will All Be History Buffs in the Future: The human characters are all very knowledgeable of 20th and 21st Century pop culture to the extent that many of their conversations amount to inside jokes that the alien crew members are understandably befuddled by since the references are not even to Earth culture in their present time (although Alara seems a bit better-versed than other alien crew). In one episode the crew is shown performing karaoke of songs from the 20th and 21st centuries. Malloy's ignorance of non-entertainment history is used by Grayson as a counter-argument to Moclan claims that males are intellectually superior.
  • Where No Parody Has Gone Before: Subverted. It was originally marketed as a straightforward spoof of the Star Trek-style of Space Opera, but while there's some humor here and there, it's more of a Dramedy homage. With the conclusion of the first season, it is apparent that MacFarlane is marketing the show as a "parody" to allow him to offset any legal challenges from him heavily referencing Paramount's intellectual property. When a work is classified as a parody, it can claim "fair use" of other work's characters, settings, premises, etc without facing legal challenges of trademark or copyright infringement.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • "Pria" combines the Star Trek TOS episodes "Mudd's Women" and the Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds". The Orville ends up picking up a stranded person who's a mysterious, beautiful, charming passenger with ulterior motives and plans to sell the ship, albeit without killing the crew. It also has strong similarities to the TNG episode "A Matter of Time", given that the featured guest character is a time traveler working towards their own ends.
    • The general concept of "If the Stars Should Appear" - a giant bioship with inhabitants unaware they're on a vessel that is heading for destruction and aggressive towards strangers - is reminiscent of the classic Trek episode "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky".
    • The base concept of "Majority Rule" - the Orville discovering an alien planet identical to 21st century earth - is similar to the TOS episode "Miri."
    • The episode "Mad Idolatry" bears more than a passing resemblance to an episode of Star Trek: Voyager called "Blink of an Eye." Both involve the crew coming upon a planet with sped-up time, and the consequences of them accidentally influencing the race living there. It even has an artificial life form going down to the planet and being trapped for a lengthy period.
  • Working with the Ex: Ed's XO is his ex-wife Kelly Grayson and their re-introduction is rocky.
    Kelly: I was the one that suggested couple's counseling.
    Ed: The therapist was your brother-in-law!
  • World of Snark: Most of the cast is snarky to some degree, though Ed and Kelly are the standout examples.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: A Deconstruction sadly combined with Reality Ensues in the episode "Krill". Ed and Malloy refuse to kill the Krill children but they do kill all the adults to prevent them from destroying a human colony. Having spared the children, but killed their parents, it's pointed out that the children will grow up with every reason to have a grudge against the Union, and Ed's crew in particular.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Kelly cheated on Ed with a blue alien whom Ed dubs "Papa Smurf." She justifies it by complaining about Ed constantly working too long, though she still feels bad about it. A later episode hints that an external influence might have made her cheat.

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