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Series / The Orville

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The Universe has a crew loose.

The Orville is a live action Science Fiction Dramedy television series created by, and starring, Seth MacFarlane as a homage to classic Star Trek. It premiered on Fox on 10 September 2017. It moved to Hulu for its third season in 2022, with all three seasons also available on Disney+ on August 2022. Outside the US, the series airs on Disney+'s Star hub in many countries.

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. Fellow Star Trek alumni Brannon Braga, Robert Duncan McNeill, David A. Goodman, James Conway and Jonathan Frakes are involved behind the scenes. Other Trek series alumni have made guest or cameo appearances.

The series has a Recap Page.

Dark Horse Comics released limited runs of comics based on the series. Titled "Season 1.5" and "Season 2.5", these are canonical and help fill in the gaps during hiatuses. In 2022, a canonical novella titled The Orville: Sympathy for the Devil was published, based on a scripted Season 3 episode that was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also a VR exploration sim of the Orville in early access on Steam.

The first official trailer for Season 1 can be viewed here and the second extended trailer here. Watch the Season 2 trailer here. Watch a Season 3 sneakpeek here.

On May 11, 2019, FOX officially renewed the program for a third season before a later announcement revealed that the show would be moving to Hulu for its third season. Unfortunately the series suffered severe production delays, which were exacerbated by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic: season 3 started production December 4 and wrapped in August 2021; the showrunners had hoped to air the season by the end of 2021. On September 23, 2021, however, it was officially announced it would premiere on March 10, 2022, carrying the name The Orville: New Horizons. On February 4, 2022, it was announced that the premiere had again been delayed and had been slated for June 2, 2022. The season features some of the final performances of Norm Macdonald, who passed away in September 2021. Watch the trailer for the new season here.

It is widely believed that the show's third season will be its last, as the cast's contracts have expired and the sets are reported to have been struck, and a Post-Credits Scene in the third season finale features a janitor character turning off the lights on the bridge — a common narrative device in series finales. However, no official announcement has yet been made either way.

Tropes in this series:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Yaphit to Dr. Finn. Not surprising, considering he's a sentient blob. She does her best to let him down gently. Constantly.
  • Absolute Xenophobe:
  • Ace Pilot: Gordon Malloy, the helmsman of the Orville, along with navigator John LaMarr.
  • An Aesop: The episode "Majority Rule" is one about the evils of social media fueling manufactured outrage through the court of public opinion.
  • Affectionate Parody: The show initially comes across as a spoof of Star Trek that lampshades and pokes fun at Trek tropes while indulging in lowbrow humor. Yet, the show is also a sincere attempt to celebrate the optimism and thrill of exploration of Star Trek, and is deliberately being positioned as the antithesis of the gritty trend of contemporary SF genre offerings. Seth MacFarlane has gone on the record as a huge Star Trek fan, and a fan of space in general, and that he has no desire to tarnish the series that he loves.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In "Identity", the Orville goes to Kaylon because Isaac stopped functioning. While on that planet, the crew learned that the race that had built the Kaylons got exterminated by their creations. The end of the episode has the Kaylons leaving their planet, ready to commit genocide on a galactic scale. Ultimately justified: the Kaylon started out just wanting their creators' respect... and the company that built them responded by sending out "upgrades": pain receptors and remote controls for same to enforce compliance, which quickly degenerated into their owners using them to torture the Kaylon for their own amusement. The Kaylon are now convinced that all interaction with "biologicals" will end with their own enslavement.
  • Alcubierre Drive: The Orville's quantum drive is explained to be an Alcubierre-White variant in supplementary material.
  • Alien Blood: Envall look identical to humans, except that they have yellow blood that reacts explosively when exposed to nitrogen. Orrin used it to destroy Krill ships.
    • Moclan blood is black.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The aliens speak English. Justified for those in Union service. Even those on their own planet do so. The Season 1 episode "Into the Fold" confirms that this is due to the Orville crew using a translator.
  • All There in the Manual: The book World of the Orville has detailed backstories and the various technologies used by all factions, including the Planetary Union.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Both the Krill and the Chak'tal (space orcs) are aggressively territorial and expansionist species with a penchant for leaving no survivors. It shouldn't come as a surprise that they've been at each other's throat on occasion.
  • 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.
  • An Alien Named "Bob": 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.
  • And Starring: Chad L. Coleman receives an "Also Starring" credit after the main titles.
  • Animation Bump: The Season 3 preview shows a noticeable upgrade in VFX quality, with the Orville model now featuring more texture than previously.
  • Arc Villain: Kaylon Prime is the chief villain of the "Identity" two-parter after The Reveal that the Kaylons have decided to wage a genocidal Robot War against all organic life and sent Isaac to spy on humanity. However, his death does not mean the end of hostilities.
  • 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.
  • Author Appeal: The series is an homage to classic Star Trek because Seth MacFarlane is a huge fan.
  • Author Tract: In the grand tradition of science fiction writers, Seth MacFarlane's optimistic vision of the future just so happens to coincide strongly with his own views.
    • Not only has humanity become a completely secular society, but in fact it's recognized as a sociological phenomenon that species which mature enough to become spacefaring tend to become secular as well - in other words, Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions is a fact of social science. The only overtly religious species is The Fundamentalist and overtly villainous.
    • Marijuana is completely legal, its use is widespread, and its effects are shown to be completely benign if not beneficial.
  • 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.
  • Birthday Buddies: In "All the World is Birthday Cake," Kelly asks Bortus to have a shared birthday party with her, as they have the same birthday. Later, after visiting a planet where people are divided into castes based on when in the year they were born, the two do share a birthday party.
  • 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 saving the Union colony and obtaining the Krill holy book they were there to get in the first place, as well as an entire Krill cruiser. While they managed to spare the Krill children aboard the cruiser, they did kill almost 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. Kelly asks Darulio in front of Ed if he was in heat during that incident, and he says "maybe", strongly implying that he was.
    • "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes". Ed's just had his heart broken again, since it turned out that his new girlfriend Janelle Tyler was actually Teleya, the former Krill schoolteacher, who'd been sent to lure him out for capture and interrogation. But Ed tells her that there's more of "Janelle" in her than she's willing to admit, and sends her home in hopes that releasing her will open the door for peace talks further down the road. He even gives her a parting gift—the complete works of Billy Joel—and tells her that if she ever feels like doing another movie night, she knows where to find him. The hesitation on her part suggests he's not entirely wrong.
    • "Sanctuary" ends with a compromise. Like all compromises, it sucks. The Union gets Moclus to leave the female sanctuary colony alone, but they have to refuse its request for independence and end the network that gets female-born Moclans to the sanctuary and away from forcible "correction." It's also put the Union on precarious ground with Moclus, who supply most of their weapons tech.
    • "Domino" ends with the Kaylon making peace with the Union with hope for a future membership and Teleya in the hands of the Union about to stand trial for war crimes. However, the Krill and the Moclans are still allied against them. And Charly Burke sacrificed herself to stop the Krill-Moclan alliance from wiping out the Kaylon. Also, Teleya makes it clear Ed is never going to see their daughter again.
  • 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.
    • Lieutenant Tharl, the temporary replacement security officer, has an extra esophagus on the outside of his body, extending from where his nose would be in another species. Just how he breathes or smells is not shown.
  • 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.
  • Blunt "Yes": In "Ja'loja," Claire asks Isaac if he thinks she's a bad parent.
    Isaac: (immediately) Yes.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In the episode "Home", after Alara leaves the ship permanently, she leaves behind a gift for Ed: a jar of pickles.
    • In "Twice in a Lifetime", Gordon sends an egg sandwich 3 months forward in time. This pays off comedically during a tense moment in the season finale.
  • 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 .
  • Brutal Honesty: Bortus doesn't tend to sugarcoat what he thinks, as when Gordon requests permission to take the command qualification test in "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes". He at least has the decency to wait until Gordon's out of the room before he states his opinion:
    Bortus: He will fail.
  • 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.
  • Bury Your Gays: In the episode “Domino,” Charly Burke, died shutting down a genocide weapon, calling out to her female love interest who died in a previous battle in her last seconds.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When talking to Gordon and John about the whole Locar situation in "Deflectors", Talla muses that the situation is stranger than normal for the Orville. The guys are quick to set her straight.
    Talla: This has got to be the weirdest thing to happen on this ship, right?
    John: One time I almost died because I humped a statue.
    Gordon: Isaac once cut my leg off.
    John:And the captain and commander, they got put in a zoo.
    Gordon: Bortus almost crashed the ship 'cause of porn.
    Talla: ... I see.
  • 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."
    • In "Deflectors", Talla muses that her current predicament vis-a-vis Locar and Klyden must be the most insane thing ever to happen on the ship. John and Gordon disabuse her of that notion with a series of callbacks.
  • The Cameo: Liam Neeson as the long-dead captain of the colony ship.
    • F. Murray Abraham as the president of the Planetary Union council.
    • Bruce Willis as a sentient plant sent to Kelly.
  • 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 BSoD 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.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: The quantum drive can propel a starship from one star system to another in a matter of days, or even just hours.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: In the middle of the second season, dramatic revelations about the Kaylon drive the 2nd half of the season to be Darker and Grittier and more conflict-driven and serialized, in line with most contemporary sci-fi. New Horizons continues this trend, with relatively few moments of deliberate comedy and exploring a lot of very hefty subject matter.
  • Character Development: Most of the main characters (and even a few minor ones) have season or even series-long arcs.
    • Alara has several episodes that show her insecurities and why she feels the need to prove herself. By the time she leaves the series, she's noticeably more confident.
    • Ed and Kelly's former marriage and how it effects their feelings for each other and any new partners they have comes up in numerous episodes, and both characters see a lot of growth throughout the series.
    • Season 3 shows how Charly grows from hating the Kaylon for the death of her crush to forgiving Isaac and ultimately sacrificing herself to save them.
    • Bortus and Klyden's marriage arguably has more problems than Ed and Kelly's did, as they deal with differing opinions on their culture (leading to their child going through a sex change), smoking addiction, porn addiction, and Klyden trying to stab Bortus through the heart (the Moclan manner of divorce). However, ultimately Klyden comes to see how flawed Moclan society and his own views are when the Moclan government is exposed in trying to kidnap and murder his daughter Topa simply for being a female. This leads him to be a better father to his daughter and repair his relationship with Bortus by renouncing his Moclan citizenship to return to the Orville.
  • Chasing a Butterfly: In the episode "Midnight Blue," Topa sees a rare blue Luminite, a tiny creature that glows like a firefly, and chases it into the woods where she is abducted by a crew of Moclans and taken to a black site where they intended to kill her.
  • 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 save for those who wish to seclude themselves like the few remaining female Moclans.
    • The Kaylon homeworld is built over completely with massive skyscraper cities and advanced technology. As heavily urbanized as it is, it's also remarkably pristine and sterilized. Because it's actually built over the mass graves of their own builders.
  • Civil War vs. Armageddon: The secular, liberal Union is locked in a long war with the Krill, a race of religious fanatics, but they put aside their differences in order to fight the Kaylon, who intend to wipe out all organic life regardless of their differing ideologies.
  • 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:
    • In the Union, admiralty wears purple, command wears blue, medical and science wear green (with different badges), operations wears orange (or a light red), and security wears a darker shade of red.
    • Each major faction seen so far has their own colors for the beams their weapons fire. Blue for the Union, green for the Krill, orange for the Moclans and red for the Kaylon.
  • 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.
    • During the Krill-Union alliance, a Krill delegation visits Earth and is treated to a night on Broadway to see Annie. They misinterpret the showtune "Tomorrow" (mainly the lyric "The sun will come out tomorrow") as a haunting, dark prophecy. Being a highly photosensitive race from an Always Night planet, they view the sun as a symbol of suffering and death.
  • 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.
  • Comm Links:
    • For the first two seasons, the Union uses two different types of communicators. Comscanners are taken on away missions and, like the name suggests, are used to communicate with the ship and to scan objects of interest. Uniform tunics incorporate a communicator for intraship calls that can be activated by tapping a button on the cuff.
    • In Season 3, the Union switches to using the cuff-mounted communicator for all communications.
  • Composite Character: Almost every character is a combination of different Star Trek characters.
    • Ed Mercer has Kirk’s improvisational skills, Picard’s social awkwardness, and, like Sisko is on his first command following personal turmoil (an ugly divorce instead of being widowed).
    • Kelly Grayson is the Statuesque Stunner first officer like Una a.k.a. “Number One”. Like Beverly Crusher, has a complicated history with the captain. Her relationship with her past self was similar to Will Riker’s relationship with his transporter duplicate.
    • Gordon Malloy is an immature practical joker who often rubs people the wrong way and also happens to be a very talented pilot, like Tom Paris. He fell in love with a hologram and eventually faced the reality that it wasn’t really the woman it was based on, like Geordi Laforge.
    • John started out as an ordinary Mauve Shirt who worked on the bridge, and turned out to be a brilliant engineer, qualified to be chief engineer, like Geordi Laforge. He’s usually seen hanging out with Gordon and going along with whatever stupid thing Gordon is up to, similar to Harry Kim’s relationship with Tom Paris.
    • Bortus: Proud Warrior Race Guy, like Worf, only crew member with a spouse and child, like Chief O’Brien, and suffered from holoaddiction like Reginald Barclay.
    • Alara Kitan: Security chief who left after one season, like Tasha Yar, and a fish-out-of-gravitational-water, like Melora Pazlar.
    • Isaac is an android trying to understand humans, like Data. He sees himself as superior to humans, like Spock. He has the appearance of a stereotypical sci-fi robot, and pretended to be friendly but is secretly a member of an evil robot race that wiped out their creators, like Automated Unit 3947. He turned his back on his xenophobic people because he knew what they were trying to do was wrong, like Odo.
    • Doctor Claire Finn is Chief Medical Officer and a single mother (albeit by choice) like Beverly Crusher (though both her sons are more similar to Jake Sisko than Wesley Crusher) but with a more laid back personality like Kasidy Yates, who was also played by Penny Johnson Jerald.
    • The Moclans are a composite of Klingons, a Proud Warrior Race Guy species, and the J’naii, a race with draconian laws regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, that are the opposite of real-life Earth norms.
    • Xelayans have the superior strength and cultural aversion to militarism like the Vulcans, but with the earthy, colorful aesthetics and grounded temperament of the Bajorans.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Subverted. While it is initially stated that a female Moclan is born once every seventy-five years, we see several in one episode: Heveena, Topa, and Klyden. In a later episode, we see that Heveena leads a colony of over six thousand females and reveals that the Moclus government is hiding how many females are actually born.
  • Cool Starship: The Orville looks seriously sleek and pulls off some pretty cool tight maneuvers in the pilot and in later episodes.
  • Costume Evolution:
    • The crew's uniforms receive a slight update in season 2, with the divisional badges becoming completely metallic with no color.
    • The uniforms receive another update in season 3, with the addition of dark-gray patches where the shoulder meets the chest while the divisional badges become slightly smaller.
    • Mark Jackson's costume as Isaac, as well as all of the Kaylon, is completely overhauled in season 3 with more-detailed plating and a tighter-fitting bodysuit beneath to make him seem more like an android rather than a man in a costume.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • In "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes", the Krill force Ed to give them his command codes. Later, it's revealed that the codes he gave them are useless—Union captains are issued dummy command codes that feed seemingly-real tactical data specifically for use in this type of situation.
    • In "Identity, Part II", after the Kaylon seize control of the Orville, they need Ed to ward away another Union ship. He ends his communication by offering the Union captain a "thirteen button salute", a code phrase meaning that their ship has been seized by a hostile force. Unfortunately, the Kaylon are aware of the phrase's meaning and blow up the other Union ship before it can escape.
  • 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.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Union fleet vs. the Kaylons. When the scene cuts back to the fight over Earth, most of the dead or disabled starships are Union ships. The dialogue on the Orville makes it clear that shields don't even slow down the Kaylons' weapons. Union ships are seen going up in flames after one, maybe two direct hits from Kaylon weaponry; the Orville only survives due to glancing blows for most of the fight. And then the Krill show up and kick the teeth out of the Kaylons while they are still engaging what remains of the Union fleet, forcing a few of the Kaylons' remaining ships to run for it.
  • Cute Bruiser: Alara, being an alien from a planet with much higher gravity than Earth, which makes her strong enough to smash through doors and walls and punch people across the room.
  • 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.
    • During "Home", Alara's family is held hostage at gunpoint. It's mainly Alara's security training that saves her and her family from major harm, since she's currently severely weakened by spending too long away from her homeworld and has to use a hoverchair to move around while on it.
  • 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.
    • Also played straight with the Kaylon, who don't need external lighting, and dismiss it as an ineffective use of power, and usurp the Krill as the main antagonists.
  • 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.
    • Season 1 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.
      • Season 2 Episode 3 has Alara as the focus as she goes back to her home planet & family and subsequently being Put on a Bus.
    • Episode 3 is about Bortus and his species' laws regarding female offspring.
      • Season 2 Episode 2 deals with Bortus' addiction to holodeck porn and his festering resentment of Klyden over Topah's "corrective" surgery.
    • Episode 5 and 9 both center 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.
      • Finn & Isaac's relationship is the focus of the 6th episode of Season 2.
      • Isaac and the Kaylon as a whole are the focus of the Season 2 double episode "Identity".
    • Episode 12 is primarily about the impact accidentally influencing a civilization has on Kelly, though it also focuses on the Ed/Kelly relationship, too.
    • Talla arrives early in Season 2 as a Replacement Goldfish for Alara, and the 7th episode of the season is her focus episode.
    • Ensign Charly Burke, a new addition to the main cast as of Season 3, gets plenty of focus in "Electric Sheep", the season premiere.
  • Decomposite Character: The Krill are similar to the Klingons as they were portrayed in the TOS era, a constant looming threat of unreasonable conquerors. By contrast, the Moclans are similar to the Klingons as they were portrayed in the TNG era, a Proud Warrior Race Guy ally species with laws and customs that seem gruesome and barbaric by human standards, which make the alliance with them tenuous.
  • 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; see High Times Future below.
    • 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, with the implication that they're no longer about the spectacle but about fun for the participants (and medical technology can heal most injuries anyway).
    • 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.
    • Isaac is a member of the Kaylon, a xenophobic race of artificial beings. As time goes on, he becomes torn between the Kaylon's core values and his growing affection for humankind.
    • 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.
    • Meat hasn't been part of the human diet for centuries.
  • Democracy Is Bad: "Majority Rule" is about a version of direct democracy being horribly oppressive. Their government appears to function on a social media system, where everything (including scientific facts) are voted on by an uninformed public, and the results are taken as true. Most disturbingly, people who receive too many downvotes are lobotomized (and killed if they resist). This, however, only applies to this extreme case, as the Union is explicitly a democracy, and Admiral Halsey insists that, while inefficient, it's still the best system that's ever been tried.
  • 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.
  • Discount Lesbians: The Moclans are the main (and basically only for Season 1-2) LGBT+ representation on the show, being a (nearly) all male species with same-sex relationships as the norm (even males reproducing together somehow). They are highly misogynist and heterophobic (with a few exceptions).
  • 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, though not as rare as most of them think). 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). Plus sex reassignment surgery in general of course.
    • "Majority Rule" has a society whose punishment of minor social infractions takes real-world online mobbing and demands the perpetrators apologize for them up to eleven, as citizens have the right to vote on whether they're forgiven when an apology is deemed sincere enough, or put to death.
    • Similarly, in "Deflectors" the Moclan view on opposite-sex attraction is very clearly modeled after attitudes towards homosexuality in our world. Moclans who are attracted to women are condemned as 'perverts' and 'deviants', and are arrested and punished if their nature is found out.
    • In "Sanctuary" it's revealed there's a secret network that brings Moclan females to a hidden colony world where they can be safe, reminiscent of the Underground Railroad.
    • "A Tale of Two Topas" features the titular character realizing she's a girl and had been misassigned shortly after birth. Basically a standard transgender experience, except Topa was born female to begin with and surgically reassigned after which she'd been raised as male due to her culture's misogyny.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
    • On Talla's previous vessel, the ship was damaged after a Krill encounter, and the only available help was from the Janissi, a matriarchal species. To appease their misandrist values, Talla punched her captain in the face, breaking his nose and knocking him out cold. This is a throwaway joke line, whereas Moclus' abuse of women is not.
    • Downplayed in a later episode focused on the Janissi. While calling out their culture's discrimination against men as unacceptable, the crew still initially appeases the ambassadors by indulging in their norms, playing the denigration of the men for laughs at some points, and keeps the offer for a Union seat availible (if only as pragmatically necessary against the Kaylon), whereas Moclus' sexism would get them expelled from the Union a few episodes after.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male:
    • Conversed and subverted. Bortus, upon hearing of Alara's bad luck in dating, offers to command another officer to mate with her. Alara turns his culturally insensitive suggestion down after calling it the "nicest and most wrong thing" ever said to her.
    • Later, a Janissi ambassador tries to take Ed as a sex slave, but everyone (except Gordon) objects to this.
    • Telaya had sex with Ed while under the false identity of Janel Tyler, which qualifies as rape by deception. He clearly feels hurt and betrayed that she deceived him, but barely mentions the sexual aspect.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Both Kelly and Ed have sex with Darulio after his pheromones create an irresistible attraction to him that overwhelms even basic reasoning. When they discover this, they're mildly upset, and he's embarrassed about being caught, but everyone treats it more like a faux pas than sexual assault. The crew is even willing to use the same pheromones to create an attraction between two visiting ambassadors in order to stop a war. At no point does anyone point out that the people involved are effectively being raped.
  • 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.
    • Inverted in "A Happy Refrain", where Claire initiates sex with Isaac. Isaac feels that his research into relationships ends after copulating and tries to break off the relationship, which just makes everything complicated.
    • Acting on poorly thought out advice from John, Isaac asks Kelly if she'd like to "go on a date, followed by sexual conjugation". He almost asks Talla the same before Kelly stops him.
    • Apparently, Moclans refer to sex as "the sexual event".
  • 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 John, but not so much for the two people the crew went to save: one is killed, and the other is left permanently lobotomized.
    • "Primal Urges" has Bortus and Isaac successfully rescue citizens from the collapsing planet but only have time for one shuttle's worth, leaving many of the citizens behind, including the de facto leader.
    • "Deflectors": Talla is forced into a no-win situation with either letting Klyden rot in jail for a murder he didn't commit (but wouldn't have felt sorry about), or sending Locar back to Moclas for a sentence of death or life imprisonment after being outed as heterosexual/xenophiliac. She ends up choosing the latter, but tells Klyden to stay the hell away from her. It also did no favors for the already rocky Bortus-Klyden marriage, and Ed openly wonders if the Moclans can even be allied to the Union, much less a member state.
  • 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. By today's standards of drama, Star Trek The Original Series was essentially this, albeit not to the same degree as Orville.
  • 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 Xelayan tequila to try and calm her nerves. She does it again later before making a command decision.
    • Kelly tells Claire that she doesn't drink on duty. This immediately changes once the latter brings up possibly dating Isaac.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the Season 3 premiere, Isaac fries his systems with a targeted EMP after the crew's hostility toward him in the wake of the Kaylon attack on Earth reaches a boiling point. Tellingly, though, it's not until Marcus Finn specifically says that he wishes Isaac was dead that Isaac decides to go through with it.
  • Dystopian Edict:
    • "Majority Rule" features a planet where the number of "likes" a person has attached to a device they wear can have them get mind wiped in the worst case. As if the entire planet is a comments section, so to speak.
    • "All the World is a Birthday Cake" features a planet ruled by astrology. Specifically, people are deemed to be either cursed or destined for greatness depending on the stellar sign they were born under. To top it off, it's really just a fascist dystopia that targets people based on Fantastic Racism.
  • 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.
  • Easy Sex Change: Topa is given female-to-male sex reassignment surgery, then has this reversed later. In both cases it appears to be a very brief, outpatient procedure that can be done in an hour so, as by the show's future this kind of surgery has advanced far beyond the much more involved process that would happen today.
  • Enemy Mine: The Krill show up to save Earth from the Kaylon's crusade to wipe out all organic species.
  • 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 Orville is a small ship, and 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. Talla also claims to have seen him eat a fork on a bet. 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 Kaylon, a race of artificial lifeforms, view all biological life forms as innately inferior, due to their own objectively superior abilities. Ed describes their view as "legendarily racist", but Isaac seems entirely open to both interacting with biologicals and learning about their culture and habits. Unfortunately, the rest of the Kaylons consider biologicals to be a threat, and have no compunction about killing inferior beings, which drives them out outright attempted genocide.
    • The Calivons see any sentient species less advanced than themselves as being akin to animals, to the point of 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.
    • Yaphit thinks he's a victim of this when he discovers that he's potentially being passed over for promotion to the freshly vacant Chief Engineer post in favor of a human.
    Yaphit There was less crap in Bortus' colon!
    • "All the World is a Birthday Cake" features a planet where astrology is basically the religion. People born to a "bad" star sign are viewed as having an inherent criminal tendency and are kept in concentration camps as a result. Interestingly, they don't seem to think this tendency is inherited, as we see a child of two camp prisoners being born under a "leadership" sign and treated almost reverently (and taken away from her parents as a result). Likewise, being born under completely different skies and following a completely different calendar doesn't make a difference.
  • 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. That said, there are scenes and dialogues that suggest that the Union isn't as cohesive as other versions of this trope.
    • This is shown primarily through the Moclans, who are members of the Union but still seem to have some sort of military of their own, and where some of their own laws are still observed over those in the Union. Their culture is also radically different from others in the Union to the point of driving our heroes to exasperation more than once, and Ed openly wonders how much longer they can tolerate each other.
    • In "Identity, Pt. 1", Ed explains that the Union isn't necessarily a single cohesive state, but is instead an alliance between multiple governments that follow a strict set of rules amongst them, making it somewhere between The Alliance (or a Fictional United Nations) and a confederacy.
  • Final Solution: The Kaylon, it turns out, killed the species who created them in the past, and want to destroy all other organic species because they believe they're a potential threat to their race expanding into the rest of the galaxy, starting at the Humans.
  • 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 Isaac) do regard organic sentients as such with rights to be respected. Isaac, 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. He's even on the ship because the Kaylon want to learn about other cultures, which they wouldn't need to do if they didn't see something of value in them, unlike the Calivon.
    • 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 that they can freely slaughter.
  • 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.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Lasting Impressions" Kelly has a conversation with Gordon about how some personal characteristics, even minor ones, only exist because of a relationship with other people and includes the line "Imagine [...] if someone went and deleted Ed from my life". Well we don't have to imagine, we see what would happen in the Season 2 finale "The Road Not Taken".
  • The Episode “No One Left On Earth But Fishes” quotes “The King and I” on the devastation international enmity can lead to, in “The Road Not Taken”, the Kaylon assault has no one left on Earth, not even fishes.
  • For Want Of A Nail: The alternate timeline seen in “The Road Not Taken” shows that Kelly rejecting Ed’s second date means that Ed did not become Captain of the Orville, resulting in the Enemy Mine between the Union and the Krill not occurring. As a result, the Kaylons successfully destroyed both Earth and the Orville: within nine months, all non-Kaylon species are forced into an underground resistance in order to even survive (with Alara leading one such cell), Bortus is stuck at the bottom of the ocean with the sunken ship, Isaac never performed his Heel–Face Turn without Clare to teach him about humanity and is offline, Ed and Gordon are stuck fleeing from planet to planet, and Kelly, wracked with guilt, is desperately getting the crew back together to rectify her mistake.
  • Gay Conservative: On Moclus, being gay is the conservative position, as their species is predominantly male. In fact, the notion of women being allowed to even exist in their society, is considered radical, and men having an attraction to women is treated very much like homosexuality has been treated in traditional human societies.
    • Charly Burke lost a woman she was in love with during an attack by the Kaylon. She takes a harsher anti-Kaylon stance than the rest of the crew and openly distrusts Isaac.
  • Genre Throwback: Seth MacFarlane was unhappy with the dark direction science fiction was being taken, and wanted to make a series that was a throw back to the light, more optimistic take Star Trek had.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In universe. The female Moclans, led by Heveena, regard Dolly Parton and her music with reverence, considering her to be humanity's greatest artist.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: After the Kaylon, a planet of killer robots, declare war on the mostly-pacifistic Union, their red-lit warships contrast against the Union's pleasant blue-lit ships.
  • 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.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Teleya's brief relationship with Ed in her guise as "Janelle Tyler" has produced a daughter named Anaya. The girl looks to possess both human and Krill features, although she also ages much faster than a human child would (she looks to be 7 despite being born only a year before). Ed wants Teleya to use Anaya as proof that humans and Krill can coexist, but Teleya fears the reveal would undermine her authority.
  • Hard Truth Aesop:
    • "About a Girl" - Just because a culture's laws are backwards and cruel and you put up a good fight, doesn't mean you'll win said fight.
    • "Majority Rule" and "All the World is a Birthday Cake" - You can't change people's beliefs, but you can use those beliefs to manipulate them.
    • "Cupid's Dagger" - Sometimes, sexual assault is difficult to prove and the predator will happily use the guilt, shame, and doubt of victims to merrily escape any fallout for his actions.
    • "Deflectors" - Being different, in many places, is a crime. Being an utterly bigoted asshole is not a crime, unfortunately. And Being Good Sucks.
    • "Sanctuary" - Realpolitik often means having to capitulate to another nation's demands, even if those demands are to let them abuse their own people. Also, political compromise deals mean no one gets what they want.
    • "Gently Falling Rain" - If someone is filled with hate, making overtures and taking a chance on them probably won't result in a change of heart. Even an honest gesture of good faith can come back around to bite you hard.
  • Heavy Worlder: Xelayans come from a world with gravity high enough to instantly crush human bone. This gives them incredible strength when they're in more Earth-like environments.
  • Heel–Race Turn: The Krill, of all races, are the first to ally with the Planetary Union when the Kaylon launch their war to rid the galaxy of organic life. This is turned on its head when the moderate Krill Chancellor who wanted to deepen ties with the Union is ousted by a far more radical Teleya, who cancels the alliance. The Moclans, whose strongly misogynistic culture had already made them an uneasy ally, are finally kicked out of the Union when their government blatantly commits several crimes against other Union citizens. The Moclans then ally with the Krill out of necessity, and both soon get their hands on a stolen superweapon that can be used to wipe out the Kaylon. The Union then allies itself with the Kaylon because they think wiping out a sentient species goes too far, first as a pure Enemy Mine, but when a biological sacrifices herself to destroy the weapon, Kaylon Primary is so startled that he agrees to a peace treaty and even possible membership in the Union.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Isaac broadcasts a signal which shuts down all Kaylons on the Orville, including himself. However, the crew are able to revive him due to Yaphet's knowledge of them.
    • Charly overloads the superweapon that can wipe out all the Kaylons in the galaxy despite hating the Kaylon with all her heart. She remains at the epicenter of the massive explosion. The sacrifice is so startling that Kaylon Primary is willing to consider peace with the Union.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Inverted with the Moclans, who are (mostly) an all-male species. If a Moclan has a preference for females, he is considered an aberrant and a criminal. When Klyden learns that Bortus's ex-boyfriend Lokar is a closet heterosexual, he threatens to out him, which would result in Lokar's arrest and shame to his family. Lokar fakes his death at Klyden's hands and plans to flee. When the truth is discovered, he is offered asylum with the Planetary Union, but decides that he'd done enough hiding and returns to Moclus to be tried. The sad irony here is that Klyden was hatched female and was "corrected" to male as an infant, so there's a bit of self-loathing involved there.
  • High Times Future: 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. It seems that the only stipulation about use is that it not interfere with one's ability to perform their duties.
  • Hollywood Board Games: In "Lasting Impressions", Gordon keeps yelling his guess (Dick Van Dyke) for one of the Pictionary drawings. The other players ignoring him doesn't deter him. He might be an Ace Pilot but can act as an utter doofus on more mundane matters. At least he apologizes after the deed.
  • 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).
  • Homage Shot: 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.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: The nearly all-male Moclans have same-sex pairings typically, surgically "correcting" females to male since they deem them weak. Yet they somehow still reproduce. It's pretty unclear what counts as male, biologically speaking, among them.
  • Human Aliens: A few of the species encountered of the course of the show are nearly identical to humans, with the series taking a step further and having these races also having comparable cultures and societies to humanity. In the episode "Majority Rules", it's suggested that this is because the planets they develop on are similar to Earth.
  • Humans Are Special: Played with, and occasionally subverted. Humanity is portrayed as generally more open, diplomatic, and tolerant than most of the other races in the galaxy note . That said, they are still portrayed as being plagued by many of their old vices, such as resentfulness, pettiness, and alcoholism.
  • 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 Isaac 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.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: In the episode Identity, Part 2, Kaylon Primary tests Isaac's loyalty to the Kaylon cause by ordering him to kill Ty. However, this plan backfires as it ends up turning Isaac against the Kaylon.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Krill soldiers only score one hit during the entire firefight in the pilot episode, 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 charges into it and 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. At the end of "Home", when Alara has left the ship, she leaves Ed a jar of pickles.
  • Improbable Age: Despite being Chief of Security, Alara 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 
  • Industrial World: Bortus' homeworld, Moclus, is almost entirely covered in arms factories.
  • Inertial Dampening:
    • 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.
      • Obviously, of course, all the ships in the series must have some form of dampeners, or every instantaneous jump from cruising speed to quantum speed would render the crew into paste. Most likely, they just subtly lowered the dampeners' setting unnoticed for the Krill incident.
    • 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.
  • Insane Admiral:
    • Averted. Despite being heavily inspired by Star Trek, where nearly every admiral was in some way corrupt, the Admiralty of the Planetary Union are all presented as consummate professionals willing to listen to reason but unafraid to dress down Mercer and his crew when they rightfully deserve it. Y'know, like real Admirals.
    • Eventually played straight after 3 seasons with Admiral Perry, who commits treason to ensure the total destruction of an enemy species. At the same time, he fully intends to return to Earth to face the repercussions for his actions as befits a Union officer, but Teleya decides that He Knows Too Much and has him killed.
  • Internalized Categorism: In "All the World is a Birthday Cake", one of the Rogerians imprisoned for being born to an astrological sign with supposed criminal tendencies is insistent that their imprisonment was necessary, that people such as him really do have such bad traits.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: Lampshaded in "Krill," when Ed and Gordon try to come up with a list of plausible Krill names. When they actually meet the Krill, Ed's mind goes blank, and he ends up calling themselves "Chris" and "Devin' respectively; the Krill don't make anything of it.
  • 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.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: As an Affectionate Parody of Star Trek, this is to be expected. It follows the trope closely, in largely the same manner as Star Trek did. The most obvious example is the fact that the Captain and First Officer repeatedly send themselves on dangerous away-missions.
  • Manly Gay: Moclan society in general, to the point of being a One-Gender Race with an intolerance towards heterosexuality. They're (nearly) all large, muscular, gruff and serious males with the vast majority desiring the same sex. Bortus explains in "Deflectors" that Moclus is an inhospitable world and his people had to fight hard just to survive on it.
  • Mars Needs Women: Blob-like crewman Yaphit has the hots for Doctor Finn.
  • The Masochism Tango: Bortus and Klyden's marriage shows them constantly at odds, to the point where it seems like they actually hate each other. There's a massive disagreement when their child is born female, with Klyden revealed to be a Boomerang Bigot, over giving the child "corrective surgery" to make her male. Then Bortus gets addicted to holographic pornography and starts ignoring his marriage, so Klyden tries to divorce him by stabbing Bortus through the heart per Moclan customs. Then Klyden exposes Bortus' former partner for being heterosexual and starts to indoctrinate their son with his Homonormative Crusader beliefs, earning Bortus' ire. Bortus then gives Klyden a "The Reason You Suck" Speech in front of his own commanding officer. This comes to a head when Topa finds out that she was born female, with Bortus supporting Topa's choice to have the surgery reversed over Klyden's objections. Their marriage dissolves as Klyden disowns his family and returns to Moclus. However, after Topa is kidnapped and tortured by Moclans, Klyden has a change of heart and returns, asking Topa for forgiveness and restoring his relationship with Bortus. Like Bortus, Klyden renounces his Moclan citizenship after the Moclans are expelled from the Union. Klyden even makes an effort to befriend Kelly, inviting her to have dinner with their family.
  • 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.
  • Matter Replicator: The Orville features two types of replicators. Wall-mounted units generally used for food and drink and pedestal-style units with flat tops that are used for larger items such as clothes and furnishings.
  • 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."
  • Melting Pot Sci-Fi Setting: As an Affectionate Parody of Star Trek, and therefore its Planetary Union is an equivalent of the United Federation of Planets. The Planetary Union has its Headquarters on Earth, but has over 300 allied planetary governments and a multicultural military. Examples of species include the Moclans - a nearly all male race who focus on combat, the (friendly) Blob Monster-like Gelatin, the Scholarly Xelayans who are strong due to being from a high gravity planet and many more.
  • Mildly Military:
    • The Union Fleet is explicitly referred to as a military service but, for the most part, isn't strict on formalities as long as everyone behaves within certain boundaries. The Orville crew is particularly casual, reflecting Ed's laid-back personality and command style. Also, all admirals are shown wearing five stars on their epaulets, the real-world insignia of fleet admiral, despite some being of lower rank like vice admiral (a three-star rank).
    • LaMarr is overly casual even in comparison to the fairly easy-going crew of the Orville. This comes back to bite him when he takes over as Chief Engineer: no one respects him because of his lackadaisical attitude. He quickly learns that respect has to be earned and starts using a command voice, while still being friendly.
  • 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.
  • Moral Myopia: Isaac is widely hated on the Orville and throughout the Union when it's revealed that he was a spy and he betrayed the Union to his people. Meanwhile Ed and Gordon are treated as heroes for essentially doing the exact same thing to the Krill.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In "Electric Sheep", Marcus Finn angrily tells Isaac that he wishes he was dead. After he gets his wish, he's clearly upset and heartbroken by the idea that he was the one who caused Isaac to deactivate himself.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Isaac turns against his fellow Kaylon when he's ordered to kill Ty (who's just a boy) as punishment for him trying to help free the crew.
  • Named After Someone Famous: Most of the named admirals in the series seem to have been named for famous admirals from Earth history, including William Halsey, Oliver Hazard Perry, Jisaburo Ozawa, and Ralph Christie.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Regorians in "All the World is a Birthday Cake" are an advanced society who dress like fascists and segregate a section of their population into concentration camps. Being a sci-fi series, the spin is that their target group is based on astrology, with all people who are born under a bad sign from their own history (Gilia, which collapsed into a black hole millenia ago) considered subhuman. In a twist, their segregation has nothing to do with race or genetics, so children born to Giliacs under a different sign are considered normal citizens.
  • 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.
  • New Season, New Name: Billed as The Orville: New Horizons for the third season.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted by the titular ceremony in "Jaloja", where Bortus releases an entire year of urine all at once (offscreen, thankfully).
    • Explicitly averted in "Identity (part 2)", when the whole crew is confined to the shuttle bay by the Kaylon:
      Malloy: Sorry, I was in the pee corner.
      Grayson: The what?
      Malloy: Oh, well, there's no place to go to the bathroom down here so we all agreed on one corner. me, you don't want to go over there unless you have to.
    • Then later, when Malloy is asked to go on a near-suicidal mission
      Malloy: Oh, man, pee corner is looking real good right now.
  • 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 mind about her strength at all. Talla seems to have the same problem, since she snarks about being single a few times.
    • Discussed even more in depth in "From Unknown Graves" when John and Talla take their relationship to the next level. Turns out, Xelayans have a hard time even when the guy is interested. Over the course of a couple of weeks, John has to repeatedly visit sick bay after sex with Talla because she has a hard time controlling her strength during sex and keeps accidentally hurting him. Both tearfully decide that while what they have is real and both wish they could see where it goes they can't keep seeing each other. John can't keep up with the constant pain and Claire is already suspicious of his frequent serious injuries and isn't buying a workout simulator as the cause. And Talla can't keep hurting the man she loves just from trying to be intimate with each other. It's heartbreaking and underscored by John spitting out teeth from the vigorousness of the break-up sex.
  • No Heterosexual Sex Allowed: Moclans are an all-male species (well, a female is hatched occasionally, but they almost always end up being "corrected" to male). It's also revealed that any Moclan who is attracted to females is considered an aberrant and, if discovered, will be arrested and tried for the crime of heterosexuality.
  • 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 "Pria", Malloy tries to teach him about practical jokes. This results in Malloy getting his leg amputated. (Though, after getting over the initial shock, they agree that it actually is a good prank; they can just grow him a new one, after all.)
  • 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. Ed Mercer 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. This actually makes a certain amount of sense 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. John 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: Deconstructed in the case of the Moclans, who live in a harsh, inhospitable world inhabited only by males, who procreate with each other. It turns out they actually do have females, but 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. Later we learn of a hidden colony world in "Sanctuary" settled entirely by Moclan females, to spare them being forcibly "corrected" into males.
  • 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 ECV 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.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Krill, the resident bad guy race of the first season. They have pale skin and vampiric features, are hypersensitive to light to the point that ultraviolet rays can burn them alive, they have a violent and murderous culture that sees all other races as soulless and free to be killed at leisure, and culturally they follow a Religion of Evil built around blood sacrifices and worship of an Omnicidal Maniac deity called Avis, and are basically space vampires. The major vampire trait they lack is that they do not feed on blood or Life Energy and eat regular food.
  • Outcast Refuge: Moclus's Hat is being He Man Woman Haters, to the point where they force gender-reassignment surgery on any Moclan who happens to be born biologically female. The Orville crew discover a colony of female Moclans hidden in a nebula, with an Underground Railroad transporting refugees and their families from Moclus.
  • 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. Later they explain that species have been observed as having two reactions to finding other life and going into space. One is becoming humble, and no longer thinking they were the center of the universe. The other is doubling down, becoming very xenophobic. Obviously the Krill did that. Ed mentions before they were more peaceful, and it's possible also had a more passive interpretation of their religion.
    • Seems to be the way for society in general as by the 29th century, telling someone "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.
    • Humans appear to no longer have believers in astrology, as when dealing with the Regorians (with a belief system that's entirely based on it) some must have the basic concept explained. They also hope that, due to their efforts, the Regorians will outgrow their belief too (which is basically the religion there).
    • However in the episode "If the Stars Should Appear" Ed says “Hi, I'm Captain Ed Mercer of the Jehovah's Witnesses.” As a joke. Even though it’s a joke, it could imply that the Witnesses still exist, so humanity might not have completely outgrown religion. It's likely however that he was just referencing the past for the joke.
    • "A Tale of Two Topas" introduces us to the Belkarians, a race who are part of the Planetary Union and who practise a religion that requires them to walk around naked on the first day of the month.
  • 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.
  • Persecution Flip: In "Deflectors" it's revealed that, keeping with the all-male society Moclans enforce, their culture has no tolerance for opposite-sex attraction. This is to the point of not only prejudice but expressing it being a crime which carries a life sentence. Locar is revealed to be straight or bisexual (it's unclear if he was ever actually attracted to Bortus, or simply used him as cover), and it causes his apparent murder. The episode ends with Locar facing this punishment.
  • 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 and is played by 5'5" Halston Sage. In the pilot episode, 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, crush a titanium cube into a perfect sphere with her bare hands, and punch people twice her size across the room.
    Mercer: ... Loosened it for ya.
    • The Orville itself. Repeatedly mentioned to be "mid-sized" it's dwarfed by the Union's heavy cruisers. But the smaller ship can pack a wallop, especially after it receives weapon upgrades from the Moclans in season 2.
  • 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. This leads to pretty much all of them being Manly Gay. The planet's industrial base is also almost completely dedicated to weapons research and manufacturing.
    • Played with by Xelayas, Alara and Talla'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. It's not hard to see why people would be offended by that attitude, but at the same time the Kaylon attitude comes from a logical place — they're a race of immortal machines that need not sleep, hunger, or breathe, and are stronger and smarter than most of the other races they come across. By "Identity" in the second season, the Kaylons turn out to be Absolute Xenophobes who decide that the inferiority of biological races and their past mistreatment of the one that were initially responsible for creating them justifies a war of extermination.
  • Platonic Co-Parenting: After Topa transitions back into a girl and Klyden leaves his family, Kelly begins acting as Topa's mentor and mother-figure, while Bortus remains and is an undoubtedly good father to his child. There's no romantic attraction between the two, but they have a strong friendship and work together to give Topa a good support system. Even after Klyden returns and remarries Bortus, it's clear that Kelly will still have a place in their family due to her role as Topa's mother figure.
  • 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 even on his human 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. The show also uses this for a bit of Foreshadowing in "Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes"; Lieutenant Tyler is totally unfamiliar with human pop culture, because she's actually Teleya, a Krill infiltrator.
  • 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. John notes, however, that there are colony worlds that struggle to survive, citing his own home planet as an example. Kelly explains in the penultimate episode of season one that, even though material resources are plentiful, people with skills and the will and connections to use them are not, so the Planetary Union economy largely runs on people's reputations: things no longer have value, but people do, in a non-slavery way. Status is earned by what you do, but you can fully dedicate yourself to a practice and be the best you can be, which in turn is your economic value. The other side of this is explored somewhat obliquely in the second season: Lieutenant Gordon, known as an ace pilot, decides he wants to be more than just that and applies for command responsibilities. While Commander Greyson's initial reaction could be considered a "wait, you in command?" reaction, there's the implication that if he goes for command and doesn't do well, it will devalue his personal reputation because he will be going from a "great pilot" to a "below-average commander". In "Future Unknown", Kelly explains that a society has to be ready for Matter Replicator tech, otherwise it can lead to major problems, as the rich and powerful will find ways to restrict the tech to themselves and may even start wars over it.
  • 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.
  • Queer Establishing Moment: Charly reveals in "Twice in a Lifetime" that she was in love with her friend Amanda, but unfortunately she was killed before Charly could work up the nerve to tell her.
  • 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.
  • Racial Transformation: Teleya undergoes heavy cosmetic surgery to change her reptilian Krill features to human so she can infiltrate the Orville and spy on Mercer, then has the surgery reversed after she's been exposed and returns to her planet. Mercer himself and his shipmate Gordon had infiltrated the Krill in a similar manner before, but used a Holographic Disguise instead. Teleya's relationship with Mercer while undercover results in a half-Krill, half-Human child, so the two species are definitely biologically compatible.
  • 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.
  • Rank Up:
    • Ed Mercer first appears as a Commander (we learn later that he was stationed at the Epsilon Eridani outpost) before being promoted to Captain when Admiral Halsey gives him command of the Orville.
    • "New Dimensions" has John LaMarr taking the role of Chief Engineer and thus a promotion from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander.
  • 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.
  • Realpolitik: The Planetary Union is a large group of different species joined under a single government. However, it is not a harmonious arrangement. Certain members have beliefs and practices that the rest find morally reprehensible, but the majority bite their tongues because those members are considered vital for the survivial of the Union as a whole. This is best illustrated by the Moclans, a species who enforce their "all male" presentation through forced sex reassignments on Moclan females. This disgusts and horrifies non-Moclans, but those in power look the other way because the Moclans develop vital weapon and shield technology used in Union ships. This technology is so important, that Moclus is even allowed to maintain a large and independent military. At last it becomes so intolerable they expel Moclus, but this leads them to ally themselves with the Krill, the resurgent fanatical enemies of the Union, and the combined military might is so much that the Union has to enter an arrangement with the Kaylon.
  • Really Gets Around: Darulio, who had an affair with Kelly, is a Retepsian whose culture considers it rude to turn down a sexual advance. When he's in heat his pheromones make him irresistible to anyone who makes physical contact with him, and even Ed can't resist bedding him.
  • Red Alert: Both yellow and red alert are used on a fairly common basis. Tactical alert has also been seen.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Because Isaac ultimately turns against the Kaylon and helps the Orville crew retake their ship, leading to Mercer lobbying on his behalf and the Union deciding it's okay to revive him and let him return to duty.
  • 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.
    • Played straight multiple times in the second season's "Identity", wherein several Orville security crew are gunned down when the Kaylons take the ship, and an engineer later gets Thrown Out the Airlock by Kaylon Primary to prove their seriousness to Captain Mercer in the wake of a failed attempt to get a message to the Union command on Earth.
  • Redundant Parody: Often accused of this by critics; the show tried so hard to parody Star Trek: The Next Generation, it ended up being essentially TNG. However, there are also arguments on whether this is deliberately invoked as Seth had originally wanted to create an actual Star Trek series but got shot down, and The Orville was his attempt to do so regardless while flying the parody banner to dodge copyright lawsuits. The makers not only refer to it consistently as a Dramedy, but also as an homage to both Trek and similar optimistic sci-fi series. Seth Macfarlane himself has said the executives at Fox pushed the show into a much more comedic sphere than he originally intended. Presumably he agreed just to get his self-insert passion project the go ahead, assuming he could slowly alter the show back to his initial idea the longer it went on. If that was indeed his goal, it seems to be working.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Heveena does this by accident: she recites the lyrics of Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" to the Union's top brass in a completely serious attempt to convince them to give her colony independence. Despite Ed and Halsey's reactions, her passionate delivery of the words and the relevance to what she's talking about, combined with the fact that she has no reason to think it's weird, actually makes it work.
  • Religion Is Wrong: Every time that a religion makes testable claims so far in the series, it's proven they're wrong. This is somewhat of a Seth MacFarlane staple, though, so it's not that surprising.
  • Religion of Evil: The Krill are shown to be following one of these, and they are suggested to be one of the few space-faring races to have a religion at all. Their own race are nocturnal and their faith teaches them that they are on a Great Crusade to subjugate or destroy all other races in the galaxy, who are regarded as being without souls, as the command of their deity Avis, with religious ceremonies involving blood sacrifices such as stabbing severed human heads. It is somewhat implied that some of their tenets are actually interpretations of their religious text and not necessarily the intended message, but the result is a religion that preaches interstellar genocide and racial superiority in practice all the same.
  • 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.
  • Robosexual: Dr. Claire Finn ends up in a relationship with Isaac, a robotic life form. For their second date in the simulator, he creates a human holographic appearance (of the actor voicing Isaac). Claire then takes the initiative and switches the simulator to that of her quarters, where she finds out that he's... fully equipped (or, at the very least, his hologram is fully anatomically accurate).
  • 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 humanoid interaction and is often seen socializing with the other crew and ends up bonding with Claire's children and eventually, Claire herself.
  • 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?
  • Satiating Sandwich: Gordon's time travelling egg salad sandwich in season 3.
  • 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.
    • Exploration can get boring. While yes, space is full of wonders, a lot of an explorer's job is to just wander around and look at a slightly new example of a rock they've seen a thousand times before.
  • 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.
    • In "Sanctuary", despite the risk that this would jeopardise their careers and provoke war, the crew of the Orville all accept the decision to fight the Moclans that were sent to abduct the Moclan females from their colony, even to the point that Bortus fights against his own people until a compromise is reached.
  • 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.
    • Having said that, there are also a few occasions where they show that them hooking up again might be a really bad idea. For example when they're abducted and put in an alien zoo, they spend the first couple of nights enjoying each other's company and generally hinting to the audience that they might rekindle their relationship, but after a couple of days, they've been reminded how each other's personal habits grate on them and they're more or less at each other's throats.
    • The season 3 finale has them holding hands and smiling during Claire and Isaac's wedding.
  • 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.
    • Similarly, in "About a Girl," before boxing with Alara, Bortus says that he's pretty sure that striking a fellow officer is a court-martial offense. In "This Side of Paradise" from Star Trek: The Original Series, after Kirk deliberately provokes Spock to violence in order to shake off the influence of psychogenic spores, he then lays out a plan to free everyone else from the spores which will require them to work together. To this, Spock responds "Captain. Striking a fellow officer is a court-martial offense."
    • In "Home", Alara's father gets in a debate about a "Melloran" vaccine, which may be a reference to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Melora", which featured a Heavy Worlder race like the Xelayans.
    • In the simulation in the episode "Command Performance", Gordon tries to bluff the Krill by telling them the Orville has a new deflector system that deflects any attack back onto the attacker. This is almost certainly a reference to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver", in which Kirk successfully pulls off a similar bluff involving a fictitious material called "corbomite" that will activate if the other ship fires on the Enterprise and bounce the energy back to destroy it.
    • And then there's the many, many in-universe references to popular media from the early 21st century and late 20th.
    • A race of Killer Robots who were enslaved by their masters, turned against them, and now intend to wage a war to Kill All Humans — are we talking about the Cylons or the Kaylon?
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • It takes a big step towards the "serious" end of the scale in "Identity, Part 1", when Isaac's race, the Kaylon, reveal themselves to be Absolute Xenophobes bent on the extermination of organic life; the invasion of Earth is thwarted, but a protracted galactic war against Killer Robots still looms for the Union and their allies.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Topa has aged from an egg to a baby to about ten years old between the first and second seasons, much like Alexander in TNG. This may be a result of Moclan physiology however, as Dr. Finn's sons appear to have only aged a year or so between Seasons 1 and 2.
    • Confirmed by the official-tie in comic. Topa is technically only a few months old, but has the size and mental capacity of a seven year old child.
  • So Proud of You: Alara has spent her whole life estranged from her parents, who disliked her decision to go into military service. In "Home," she saves her entire family from being killed and gets from her father that he's proud of her. It's a big moment for her and ultimately prompts her to leave the Orville even after they find a solution that would allow her to remain and find the family life she never had before.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: part of the scene's Mood Whiplash, where else can you find a full-on firefight set to Dolly Parton's "9 to 5"?
  • 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:
  • Speculative Fiction LGBT:
    • The Moclan species is (nearly) all male and homosexual, reproducing somehow without females. As a result, they're highly misogynist and heterophobic. Any female Moclans are typically "corrected" by getting forced sex reassignment surgery following birth. The heterosexual minority is persecuted quite like LGBT+ people on Earth have been, and a Moclan male having sex with anyone female carries a life sentence. One Moclan child who'd been "corrected" coming to realize she's still female despite this and having a second sex reassignment parallels not only intersex (who frequently suffer involuntary "corrective" surgery if their genitals are deemed "ambiguous") but also trans people since her gender doesn't match what she'd been assigned.
    • The future human society is indicated to be a Free-Love Future with no prejudice toward LGBT+ people. Charly, introduced in Season 3, it turns out is into other women.
  • 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: Averted. 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. Two other members of the same species are briefly seen as members of the Planetary Union Council.
    • Dr. Finn mistakes an aquatic serpentine alien botanist for a science experiment in "Old Wounds".
  • Starter Marriage:
    • Ed and Kelly's marriage ended up as this.
    • Dr. Finn later reveals she was briefly married to Paul Christie, who was one of her medical school professors.
  • 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.
  • Submersible Spaceship: In the Bad Future created in "The Road Not Taken", the Orville was shot down by the Moclans during the Battle of Earth and sank to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The alternate Orville crew are able to reach her by diving a shuttle into the ocean and find her intact enough to repair and bring to the surface.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Talla, who replaces Alara as chief security officer, is the same species and gender. However, they are well differentiated, as Talla is taller, older, much more confident and relaxed, but also more unflappable and focused in serious situations, and she lacks the family prejudice against the military. Justified in that Ed specifically requested another Xelayan to replace Alara.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: When the Orville lands on Kaylon, they don't bother posting any guards at the ship's exit, nor do they install any type of automatic security system. This enables Claire's son Ty to just walk right off the ship without anyone noticing he's gone.
  • Tagline:
    • "The Universe has a crew loose."
    • For the third season, New Horizons, on Hulu: "New home. New missions."
  • 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 including 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 Dorahl as divine scripture over the years.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The Kaylon blow an unfortunate ensign out the airlock and make Ed watch as punishment for his resistance to their occupation of the Orville.
  • 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.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: When the Kaylon grew self-aware, they asked to be set free by their creators. Instead, they were fitted with pain circuits to use as punishment, and repressed in hopes of keeping them slaves. As a result, they rose up and killed their creators. In the present, they view all biological species as a threat which they must eliminate because of their history (except for Isaac).
  • 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.
    • Come "Identity", however, they lose that spot to the Kaylon.
  • Villainous Lineage: Kaylon Primary argues, based on human history, that we are all evil like our slave-owning ancestors in spite of Isaac pointing that's no longer the case (and ironically citing his friend Ty, who's African-American, thus descended from the victims of slavery).
  • Waif-Fu: Being a Pint-Sized Powerhouse, Alara Kitan is capable of this. Just ask Bortus in "Command Performance".
  • Weirdness Magnet: Just like Starfleet, weird is part of the job. Lampshaded in "A Happy Refrain," when Gordon - referring to the fact that the chief medical officer is currently making out with an emotionless robot with no mouth, as the rest of the crew is staring at them, and everyone is getting completely drenched in rain . . . all while still on the bridge of their starship flying through deep space - casually, if somewhat incredulously, deadpans that "We are, without a doubt, the weirdest ship in the fleet."
    • And again, an episode later, when new security chief Talla vents to John and Gordon.
    Talla: I mean, this has to be the most insane thing that's ever happened on this ship.
    John: One time I almost died 'cause I humped a statue.
    Gordon: Isaac once cut my leg off.
    John: The captain and commander? They got put in a zoo.
    Gordon: And Bortus almost crashed the ship 'cause of porn.
    Talla: ...I see.
  • 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.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The second-season episode "Identity" is the series' first two-parter — and with very good reason. The Kaylon race, far from being the relatively benign androids that resident Robot Buddy Isaac was shaping up to be, suddenly reveal themselves to be genocidal Absolute Xenophobes bent on the extermination of all organic life. And then the Kaylons deal a Curb-Stomp Battle while taking over the Orville, impress the ship into their invasion armada, and point it all straight at Earth. In one fell swoop, the Kaylon swiftly and decidedly knock the recurring, Obviously Evil Krill off of their perch as the biggest threat to the Union.
    • Season 3 has three wham episodes, first "Gently Falling Rain", where Teleya becomes the new supreme chancellor of Krill, and promptly ends the Krill-Union alliance and plunges the two powers back into war, followed by "Midnight Blue" and "Domino", where Moclus is expelled from the Union after authorizing the abduction and torture of Topa, leading them to ally with the Krill. The Union develops a powerful anti-Kaylon weapon which ends their conflict, but the Krill obtain the weapon and plan to use it to wipe out Kaylon, leading to the Kaylon allying with the Union against the Krill-Moclan alliance.
  • 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" combines the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Blink of an Eye" (planet with sped-up time, and the consequences of them accidentally influencing the race living there, and an artificial life form going down to the planet and being trapped for a lengthy period), with the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Who Watches the Watchers" (human is mistaken for a god by a primitive race after using space-age technology to heal a local) with a hint of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Meridian" (planet that periodically phases in and out of normal space).
    • A Happy Refrain is the Orville's version of the TNG episode "In Theory", where Data tries a romantic relationship.
    • "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" pulls a deconstruction switch and a gender inversion on the TNG episode "Second Chances," but then veers off hard and the next episode crashes into "Yesterday's Enterprise" with a hopeless Bad Future.
  • 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 couples' 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 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 in general and Ed in particular.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When Isaac sees Finn is having a hard time controlling her kids on their shuttle trip, he politely offers to vaporize them for her.
  • Writer on Board: Admiral Ozawa states that it is all but universal (the sinister Krill being the exception) that as species advance technologically, the importance they place on religion fades. This is not a historically accurate statement, and only reflects Seth MacFarlane's well known anti-religious views.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The epilogue of the novella Sympathy for the Devil features a scene of an elderly Ty Finn visiting a bakery and states that he is about 75 years old. However, it also describes the bakery he visits as featuring "early 26th-century technology," which would set the scene in at least 2500. The show's previously established timeline sets the events of the third season in 2424 and Ty is already pre-teen at the start of the series. This means that in this scene, he would have to be closer to 90, unless there is some sort of temporal weirdness going on that hasn't yet been revealed.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Admiral Perry, after delivering the Union's anti-Kaylon weapon to the Krill. It's implied that Teleya didn't originally intend to kill him, but after he learned of the Krill-Moclan alliance and expressed his intention to return to Earth, she didn't want the Union learning of the alliance just yet.


Lieutenant Alara Kitan

Lieutenant Alara Kitan is a Xelayan, her home planet has higher gravity than most so when off her home world she has super strength.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / Heavyworlder

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