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Series / Thunderbirds

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5... 4... 3... 2... 1! Thunderbirds are go!note 

S-O-S! Mr. Tracy, the western world is falling...
S-O-S! International Rescue, hear us calling...
Kate Kestrel, "SOS", Terrahawks

Created by the preeminent British puppet-show producer Gerry Anderson and originally airing on ITV in 1965–66, Thunderbirds is the story of the Tracy family, a wealthy clan who embark on a unique philanthropic venture.

In the year 2065, American billionaire ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his five sons (Scott, Virgil, Gordon, John and Alan) form "International Rescue", an organisation whose purpose should be self-explanatory. They use technology designed by their resident Techno Wizard, "Brains", which is far beyond anything possessed by any military or civilian agency on the planet, even given the show's far future setting of the late 21st century.

Every week, some monstrous disaster would occur, and the boys (primarily Scott and Virgil) would pilot their awesome Thunderbird aerospace craft to the scene, moving at speeds that would make an aeronautical engineer drool. Scott would get there first, survey the situation, and call back to Virgil, who would then arrive at the scene with the right equipment loaded into the cavernous interior of Thunderbird 2's "pod". Amongst other things, a drilling vehicle (Mole) or an underwater rover (Thunderbird 4) could be loaded into 2. In fact, the other wiki has a list of the many bizarre vehicles deployed.

There were five Thunderbirds, one for each brother:

  • Thunderbird 1: Was the most used. Looks like a missile, moves like a jet fighter. Takes off from base vertically using rockets then switches to horizontal jet propulsion and lands horizontally. Usually used for recconaissance to travel to the disaster quickly and assess which of International Rescue's other resources is needed in that situation.
  • Thunderbird 2: A ginormous plane that incorporates equipment pods into its fuselage. A selection of pods is available, each pre-loaded with specialist rescue equipment. The heavy lifter of the fleet (and the most frequently seen, turning up in all but one of the episodes and both movies).
  • Thunderbird 3: An actual rocketship. Mostly used to get to Thunderbird 5, but also used on a number of space rescue missions.
  • Thunderbird 4: A small submarine/underwater rover, usually carried by Thunderbird 2 in pod #4.
  • Thunderbird 5: A Space Station, capable of receiving transmissions from all over the globe and automatically detecting and translating distress calls.

Acting as an espionage back-up, to prevent any of IR's tech from being stolen and used for military or destructive purposes, was prim and proper spy Lady Penelope, and her rough-edged cockney Battle Butler Parker, in Penny's pink six-wheeled (and heavily-armed) Rolls-Royce limousine, FAB 1.

The miniatures used were cutting edge for the time. The show was described as feature film quality, to the point where Lord Grade, the head of the commissioning company ITC Entertainment, upped it from a half hour to an hour long drama (necessitating additional scenes to be shot for the first few episodes).

Oh, and all the characters were puppets. The show was filmed in Supermarionation, which was a process using souped-up marionettes with moving lips electronically synchronized with pre-recorded dialogue.

This show is a classic in its native Britain, and around the world. The first season was such a success that it was decided to make a full-blown movie before production began on the second season; the result was Thunderbirds Are Go, wherein the Tracys must rescue an imperilled Mars rocket after a scrape with the local lifeforms. Expected to be a blockbuster of James Bond proportions, it performed poorly at the box office.

An unsuccessful trip made by Lew Grade to try and sell the show to American networks ensured the second season would be the series' last; further, amid corporate fears that the bubble had burst, Gerry Anderson was instructed that said second season be cut back to just six episodes. United Artists, surprised at the failure of the first movie, subsequently commissioned another — Thunderbird 6, where designing a new Thunderbird vehicle is put on hold when a state-of-the-art luxury airship is in danger — and this also flopped. But by then Anderson was already at work on new Supermarionation projects with a new generation of puppets.

Punk/new wave band The Rezillos released a song "Thunderbirds Are Go" in 1978, singing the praises of the series: "the TV show that's never been beat." 80s band Fuzzbox released a single called "International Rescue" as an affectionate tribute/parody of the series, which made it to number 11 in the UK charts. Also in regards to the show's presence on the music scene, Gerry Anderson co-directed the video for "Calling Elvis" by Dire Straits in 1991, where the band members appear as marionettes and footage from Thunderbirds is intercut with footage of a woman meandering around her house.

In 1982, ITC took Scientific Rescue Team Techno Voyager (note: onscreen it is transliterated in Engrish as Techno Boyger, thus the vehichles retain the TB designation making the Thunderbirds connection slightly more obvious), a 24-episode anime on Fuji TV inspired by the series, and dubbed it as Thunderbirds 2086. This series is not considered part of the Thunderbirds canon by most fans, but interestingly was originally planned as such until a dropoff in popularity of the franchise in Japan led to difficulties in finding a sponsor. Nevertheless, it tanked and was canceled early in both Japan and the UK, though the US and Canada did get all 24 episodes in syndication.note  A pre-Macross Artland worked on episode 10, which notably features a Misa Hayase prototype as a minor character.

The early 90's saw a few attempts to revamp the show for a new American audience, the first being airings on Fox on Saturday mornings, with the episodes whittled down to fit in a half-hour time slot with rerecorded dialogue and some new music. After a fairly short run this version faded from view. Much stranger was the attempt that followed shortly afterward, known as Turbocharged Thunderbirds. Live action segments were added of the "Hack Masters", Trip and Roxette, operating out of "Hacker Command" (that is, Thunderbird 5 with the new name digitally superimposed on the side), where they coordinated the actions of the supermarionettes from the 60's footage. What's more, the forces of evil now reported to another new character, a giant spectral head named "The Atrocimator". Who was voiced by Tim Curry. This version also didn't last long, and when it's remembered at all, it's mostly for the bizarre idea behind it.

2004 saw the release of a live-action version directed by Jonathan Frakes.

A revival, titled Thunderbirds Are Go, started on 4 April 2015 and concluded on February 22, 2020.

There are also three audio episodes recorded by the original cast and released in the Sixties. In 2015 these were used as the basis for three new episodes filmed in Supermarionation style. And in 2021, Big Finish acquired the rights to the series and released three full-cast audio adaptations of John Theydon's tie-in novels.

Thundertropes are go!

  • Abandoned Area: A few show up over the series. They make for pretty believable rescue locations, after all.
  • Abandon Ship: Used surprisingly rarely for a series that's all about rescuing people, who are often trapped inside the latest technological-wonder-gone-wrong. But then again, just getting the people out wouldn't allow the team to show off their awesome vehicle designed just for this exact type of emergency!
  • Adaptation Expansion: This occurred with the audio dramas adapted into tv episodes as part of the Thunderbirds 1965 project.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: Despite the tendency of large-scale science and technology projects in the Thunderbirds 'verse to catastrophically and explosively fail, nobody ever stops building the damn things.
  • The Alleged Computer: To the modern viewer, most computers in the series are built after the manner of this trope, complete with mechanical winding and grinding sounds as the computers take minutes to perform the most simple tasks. With all their vision of how technology would advance in the 100 years after the show was filmed, the production team seem to have assumed that computing technology was as good in the 60s as it would ever be.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The recurring villain, The Hood, was never named in dialogue or credits in the original TV episodes, only in publicity materials.
    • Many things about the main characters' history, like the Tracy boys' Expansion Pack Past, Jeff's late wife, and the founding of International Rescue, are also never mentioned on the series, and their headquarters was never actually referred to as "Tracy Island".
    • The same goes for specific details surrounding the Thunderbird vehicles and other machines, like their dimensions, speed and other technical data.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: The creators liked this trope and used it in several episodes as it gave a natural sense of urgency to their rescues.
    Scott: The last atom of air in those tanks could be the difference between life and death!
  • Alternate Techline: The Thunderbirds universe continues the trend of technology from the 1960s, extrapolating it into the 21st century. As we get closer and closer to the 2060s, a lot of the tech looks increasingly out of place.
    • All in-series passenger airliners are supersonic. After Concorde proved too expensive for the masses and so loud that it was banned from flying over several countries, the industry focused on size over speed, and now even that is being sacrificed for efficiency.
    • Everything is nuclear powered. The prevailing mood now is that nuclear power is only really practical in large ships, submarines and power plants, and no one in their right mind would ever suggest a nuclear-powered plane today. Even the oven on Tracy Island is nuclear powered.
      Kyrano: It would be much quicker to use the nuclear cooker.
      Grandma: I could never get the hang of the rods.
    • While magnetic tape does still have its uses in the computing world, it has nowhere near the level of ubiquity it enjoys in Thunderbirds.
    • Computers in general are shown to still be room-sized and built for one specific job, far from the miniaturised, versatile machines of today. Scott's mobile control, which he had to ask for help to unload from Thunderbird 1, could easily be replaced with a modern laptop or even tablet.
    • It seems mobile phones never took off, with everyone instead making video calls from a dedicated phone booth. And no one today would bat an eyelid at someone talking to their smart watch.
  • Amphibious Automobile: FAB 1 has a hydrofoil that pops out of its undercarriage if Lady Penelope ever needs to make an impromptu trip over water.
    • Inversely, Thunderbird 4 has hoverjets for making brief trips over land.
  • Animal Theme Naming: International Rescue like to alternate between this and Exactly What It Says on the Tin. As a general rule, the machines we see in more than one episode get this treatment. Apart from the Thunderbirds themselves (not all of which can fly), there is also the Mole, their drilling machine, and Firefly, their firefighting bulldozer.
  • Appease the Volcano God: In one of the more... peculiar comics, an African tribe tries to sacrifice Thunderbird 2 by rolling the gargantuan aircraft into an active volcano.
  • Artistic License – Geography: A few locations and directions are a bit off. See the Recap section for specific examples.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: International Rescue have no official authority; indeed, they strive for total independence and anonymity. In the first few episodes, they have to work hard to persuade the authorities to let them help and are only permitted because all other options have been exhausted. But once they have established a name for themselves by saving every life entrusted to them, they are generally granted total control of a danger zone the minute they arrive.
  • Automated Automobile: Surprisingly averted. With all the seriously advanced tech that International Rescue possess, you'd think they'd let the computer do at least some of the work, but you never even see them put a Thunderbird on autopilot on the way home.
    • Supplementary materials say that the interfaces the crew use are greatly ergonomically simplified, so the computer decides what function to assign each control by context. This goes a long way towards explaining (for example) how Scott can control the many functions of a hypersonic rocket / ramjet plane by moving only two levers backwards and forwards.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Pretty much every vehicle in the series is a victim of this. See the individual episodes in the Recap section for specific examples.
  • Automobile Opening: Each episode kicks off with a countdown of the Thunderbirds vehicles racing to the rescue.
  • Beeping Computers: All part of the Zeerust. How else would you know they were doing anything while they grind through those instructions, line after painful line?
  • Beware the Nice Ones: International Rescue is altruistic and will stop at nothing to rescue those in need. However, those who take pictures of their technology are dealt with harshly, whether it be having their film wiped remotely, or even find themselves shot off the road by Lady Penelope.
  • Big Anime Eyes: Due to the limits of the Supermarionation technology at the time, the puppets had heads that were disproportionately large with exaggerated facial features, including this trope. This turned out to be a good thing: when they developed the ability to use realistically-proportioned puppets for Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, they found that the smaller eyes were far less emotive, and went for a middle ground in Joe 90.
  • Big Disaster Plot: The majority of episodes revolve around International Rescue either responding to a disaster in progress, or preventing a disaster before it can begin.
  • Big Storm Episode: There are a few of these. The deadly nature of a storm makes it a natural location to find International Rescue saving people who are experiencing this trope.
  • Billions of Buttons: Surprisingly averted. Although the fancy equipment is capable of many things, when control panels are seen, they have relatively few buttons and dials, and often only those relevant to the plot are seen. Sometimes the equipment is operated by speaking into it. However, large panels of unlabelled lights (which are always filament lamps, rather than the LEDs they would be nowadays) are regularly seen, which flash all the time.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: This is how gunfights are usually ended in this series. It's an odd example: while the showrunners had no problem with the heroes shooting the villains to death in their vehicles, they would rarely let anyone take a bullet in face-to-face combat.
  • British Brevity: While the first season got a US length 26 episodes, the second and final season whittled it down to just six, totalling it to 32 episodes. It did, however, spawn several movies, package films and revival episodes afterwards.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Any time a member of International Rescue is incognito around a civilian, you can expect the civilian to start singing the praises of International Rescue to them while they modestly try to change the subject. Alternatively, if disaster strikes under those conditions, the undercover member must convince the civilian that only International Rescue is capable of saving them.
  • But Now I Must Go: International Rescue only stick around long enough after each mission to make sure the victims are safe, then they jet back to base and let the local authorities take care of the cleanup.
  • Caper Crew: Despite being a heroic organisation, International Rescue occasionally finds itself needing to orchestrate a con-like mission to prevent the villains from starting a disaster (e.g. The Man From M.I.5, The Cham Cham). Under these conditions, the hierarchy goes thus:
    • The Mastermind: Jeff, as leader of International Rescue, calls all the shots.
    • The Partner in Crime: Lady Penelope takes the second-in-command role, being an expert in espionage. As such, she also acts as The Conman, The Roper, and just about any other front-line role needed.
    • The Gadget Guy: Brains, naturally.
    • The Safe Cracker: Parker, being an ex-burglar, fills this role.
    • The Driver/The Muscle/The Fixer: The Tracy boys in their Thunderbirds machines.
  • Cast Full of Rich People: Jeff is a billionaire, and he and his family are the focal characters, living in the lap of luxury on a private South Pacific island. The main secondary character is Lady Penelope, who downplays her wealth, yet still lives in an English stately manor with an awful lot of works of art and jewellery.
  • Cast Herd: The Characters section shows pretty well that this trope is in effect. Especially noticeable with Lady Penelope and Parker, who usually have their own adventure that only intersects that of the Tracys towards the end of the episode.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: But of course. Charging into danger is part of the day job of International Rescue. You can't expect them to go all to pieces every time their lives are at risk.
  • Catchphrase: "F.A.B.", International Rescue's codeword for "yes". Fan theory is that it stands for "Fully Advised and Briefed". However, when asked what it meant, Gerry Anderson replied, in an isn't-it-obvious sort of way, "Fab..."
  • Character Title: Let's face it, the Thunderbird machines are just as much characters in the show as the puppets themselves.
    • In the live action movie, members of International Rescue are often called "the Thunderbirds" by the public. They seem to have adopted the title, as teenaged Alan dreams of the day he will become "a Thunderbird".
  • Chekhov's Gun: Is there a cool, unique vehicle in the first few minutes of the episode? Is everyone taking about what an amazing work of engineering it is? It's going wrong within a few minutes, and everyone is going to need rescuing from it.
    • There's also a better than evens chance of it exploding spectacularly before the end.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: International Rescue will never turn down a call for help, even if they put themselves at risk of being unmasked.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: During times of anxious waiting, characters are often seen with a cigarette between their fingers. Even the heroic members of International Rescue do this when their family members are in danger. This was filmed in the 60s, after all.
  • Clown Car: Thunderbird 2's pods can contain any number of heavy vehicles needed for the rescue. This is most apparent in Trapped In The Sky when just one elevator car, barely fitting out the door, looks like it fills the whole pod alone; over the course of the rescue, another three will come out to join it. Are those things inflatable?
  • Code Name: Very much zig-zagged:
    • The team's engineer/scientist "Brains" is never called by any other name, excepting the episode Alias: Mr Hackenbacker. Given the episode's title, there is no guarantee that "Hiram Hackenbacker" is even his real name, and Brains may be layering codenames upon codenames.
    • The Hood's real name is never revealed. Heck, even the name "The Hood" is never uttered on screen. The only name he is ever called by on screen is "Agent 7-9", and that in just a single episode.
    • As for our boys in blue — who take their anonymity seriously enough to attempt murder to preserve it — they merrily parade around the danger zones calling each other by their real names. Are they taking refuge in the fact that a first name alone is not very useful in identifying someone? Well:
      • It often happens that rescuees and officials call them by their surname, so they're not secret about that, either;
      • Scott will often radio their top-secret agent Lady Penelope, addressing her by both title and name whilst surrounded by non-IR-ers.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:... or at least, to look stunning on your new colour TV. The flagship vehicles of International Rescue each have a bold, unique colour scheme:
  • Combining Mecha: In 2086, Thunderbirds 1 and 3 connect to Thunderbird 2 for transport.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: A series of brand new adventures for International Rescue. While most instalments had the same sort of plots as were seen in the TV series, some were more... peculiar. Like the one where Thunderbird 3 crashed on an ocean-covered Venus and had to fight sea monsters. Or the one where Thunderbird 2 was stolen by an African tribe who tried to sacrifice it to a volcano god.
  • Coming in Hot: Does the episode centre around an aircraft or spacecraft? Hope you weren't too attached to it because it will be crash landing before the credits roll. Such a pervasive trope it is that even the Thunderbirds themselves are not immune.
  • Command Roster: While not a military organisation, International Rescue has its chain of command:
    • Jeff takes the role of The Captain: he is the final decision maker.
    • Scott is his Number Two, and takes command at the danger zone.
    • Brains is a combination of Mr. Fixit and The Scientist, supported by Tin-Tin as Wrench Wench.
    • John has the dubious honour of being the Communications Officer: he answers the call, passes on the message, and then his job is done.
    • Lady Penelope is the Security Officer, though secretly so in the eyes of the world.
    • Virgil, Gordon, Alan and Parker take the roles of Ace Pilot / Submariner / Astronaut / Driver respectively.
  • Comm Links: Each member of the Tracy Island crew has a wristwatch that doubles as a video phone, capable of transmitting to the other side of the planet, in a world where cellphone technology does not exist.
    • In Lady Penelope's case, it's her makeup compact.
  • Compilation Movie: Three, all airing in 1981, under Anderson's Super Space Theater title.
    • Countdown to Disaster, featuring the episodes "Terror in New York City" and "Atlantic Inferno".
    • Thunderbirds in Outer Space, featuring the episodes "Sun Probe" and "Ricochet".
    • Thunderbirds to the Rescue, featuring the episodes "Trapped in the Sky" and "Operation Crash-Dive".
  • Computer Equals Tapedrive: Seen everywhere from secret spy installations to nuclear power stations, but most prominently on the main communications console of Thunderbird 5.
  • Continuity Nod: Several projects and vehicles, such as the Fireflash atomic powered airliner and the Sunprobe project, as well as characters involved in those projects, turn up more than once and reference the previous encounters. Not surprising really, they did still have the models after all.
  • Continuity Snarl: Hoo boy! The series was first released in 1965. Since then we've had movies, comics, novels, annuals, guide books and interviews with the cast/crew — all of which largely contradict themselves. This include topics such as: How did the boys' mother die?note  What order were the boys born in?note  Up to and including, what year is the show set?note 
  • Contrived Coincidence: The average rescue is set up by means of a series of comically ludicrous coincidences and horrible design/engineering. For example, in Day of Disaster a vehicle is transporting a giant rocket. Fully fuelled. With people inside. And it's set up with an unstoppable automatic launch countdown. And they have to cross a weak bridge. And there's a storm. And the bridge supervisors are idiots.
  • Cool Car: FAB 1. A pink, six-wheeled, amphibious, weaponized Rolls-Royce complete with Battle Chauffeur and bulletproof bubble canopy.
  • Cool Chair: The pilot's seat in Thunderbird 1, which swivels to keep Scott upright at all times and has all the ship's controls built in.
  • Cool Garage: Tracy Island, with all its retractable and hidden landing and launch bays.
  • Cool Plane: A wide variety thanks to the nature of the show, but Fireflash is a regular civilian feature: a nuclear-powered, supersonic jetliner that seats 600, has a huge lounge and bar in the wings, and uses rockets for the initial boost through the sound barrier and beyond. Just look at it! Undeniably cool.
  • Cool Ship: Five main ones, and many more which needed to be rescued. More specifically:
    • Thunderbird 1, piloted by Scott, looks like a space rocket but is in fact a Cool Plane: a hypersonic aircraft powered by a nuclear thermal engine, designed to get to the crisis scene as fast as possible to gather intel and perform damage control until the heavy equipment arrives.
    • Thunderbird 2, piloted by Virgil, is also a Cool Plane: a giant less-hypersonic-but-still-fast lifting-body transport for moving the specialist gear needed for a particular rescue. (This one is unsurprisingly the most frequently seen of the lot, appearing in both (all right, all three) movies and all but one episode of the TV show.)
    • Thunderbird 3, piloted by Alan, is a Cool Starship: an SSTO rocket used for space rescues (sadly underused in this regard) and reaching Thunderbird 5.
    • Thunderbird 4, piloted by Gordon, is a Cool Boat: a submarine for underwater rescues. Small enough to be transported in Thunderbird 2's pod 4, but very versatile thanks to its huge variety of tools.
    • Thunderbird 5, manned by John: a space station which monitors all radio frequencies worldwide and filter out the distress calls from the rest of the chatter.
    • Also the Mole, used for underground rescues, and a host of souped-up construction gear hauled in the rest of Thunderbird 2's pods.
  • Could Have Been Messy: The series is built on people caught up in disastrous events which are often quite violent, and yet no one suffers more than cuts and grazes. Gun fights usually end with a gun being shot out of someone's hand. In the rare event that someone is killed, it is bloodless and forgotten extremely quickly.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Alan doesn't quite like it when Tin-Tin shows interest in another man. This is best seen in "End of the Road", when her old friend Eddy Houseman comes to visit her, and "Ricochet", when she turns out to be a great fan of Rick O’Shea. Ironically, in both episodes Alan ends up having to rescue the men he doesn't like.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Subverted, as the bulk of the Tracy family fortune comes from selling aerospace-related technology through various front companies. The reason they are so adamant about keeping the Thunderbirds secret is that that level of aerospace technology has several direct military applications, none of which the Tracys want to be party to.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Virgil plays the theme song on a piano at the end of the pilot episode.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Lady Penelope is usually totally calm and collected, even in great adversity (with the exception of being caught in mud in The Impostors). In Brink of Disaster, when thieves have made off with Lady Penelope's jewel collection:
    Parker: They happear to 'ave gained access to the Rolls Royce.
    Lady Penelope (calmly): Oh dear, I hope they don't scratch the paintwork. I'm off to Ascot in the morning.
  • Don't Ask, Just Run: Played with in "The Uninvited". Scott walks note  out of a pyramid just as Virgil is coming in to land. Scott urgently tells him by radio to get away, because the pyramid might explode, but because Virgil is so relieved to hear from Scott after a long silence, he does not recognise the urgency.
    Scott: Calling Thunderbird 2.
    Gordon: Hold it Virgil, it's Scott!
    Virgil: Go ahead, Scott, coming in to land right now.
    Scott: (urgently) No, Virgil! Keep away! Regain height, and keep away from the pyramid, it's going to go up at any moment.
    Virgil: But Scott, are you all right?
    Scott: Don't ask questions! Just do as I say, and beat it!
  • Drill Tank: The Mole, one of TB 2's pod vehicles, sets a gold standard for the type. It has rockets to push it into the ground, for fab's sake!
  • Drives Like Crazy: Lady Penelope, of all people, at first. She grows out of it.
    • Also the woman who causes the inferno in City of Fire by crashing in the underground parking area, and the archeologist Wilson who drives carelessly in the desert, causing the trailer to break away from the truck.
  • Easy Logistics: In "Ricochet", we find out that even a pirate radio station can put a manned space station into orbit. This is apparently so common that nobody can keep track of the launches. This raises Fridge Logic as to how on Earth nobody has found Tracy Island yet, and possibly Fridge Horror if you consider the fact that if you have the resources and knowledge to put a satellite in orbit, it's not a lot harder to shoot one down.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Tracy Island.
  • Epic Launch Sequence: Tracy Island seems to have been completely repurposed specifically to facilitate this trope, as each of the eponymous vehicles gets its own lengthy sequence of being moved into position every time they launch, complete with sections of the landscape moving aside.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Everything is Made of Explodium, including vehicles.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: International Rescue.
  • Excessive Steam Syndrome: The creators made extensive use of steam, smoke, and zero-thrust rocket motors to depict take-offs and landings in miniature. Rockets in flight were filmed inverted, so the smoke would rise away from the rocket instead of climbing after it.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Nearly all of the Tracy Brothers (who range in age from late to early 20's) had quite interesting careers before retiring from them to join IR full time. Scott served in the U.S. Air Force where he got decorated for bravery, John published four textbooks on astronomy and is known as the discoverer of the Tracy quasar system, Gordon used to be a Olympic champion at the butterfly stroke and served at the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (from Stingray), and Alan was a successful race-car driver. (His career was briefly revived in the episode "Move and You're Dead".) Jeff also counts; he was a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, astronaut for the Space Agency and one of the first men on the moon, and finally started his own company.
  • Exposition Diagram: In the episode Terror in New York City, the plan to move the Empire State Building is explained by the characters watching the news on television, with diagrams showing exactly how this will be done.
  • Exty Years from Publication: The series was set in the 2060s, conveniently exactly one century after it was made (as is the case with almost all of Anderson's series). Confusingly, though, some episodes are dated in the 2020s.
  • Fake Aristocrat: One episode has Parker pretend to be an English lord and get everyone in the hotel to play Bingo with him. This was part of a scheme where in the event a fire broke out (thanks to a dish falling off a building and lodging itself on a mountain in a position where it would project the sun's rays at the town where the hotel was) everyone would be awake to fight the fire.
  • Faux Action Girl: Tin-Tin actually does have an IR uniform and occasionally joins the boys on a rescue mission... but stands as the person who ended up in need of rescue the most. Averting this trope is one of the few positive things fans can point to about the 2004 film.
  • Finagle's Law: The series loves this trope, as the vast majority of episodes revolve around something going terribly wrong, thus motivating the characters into action. A notable example is the episode "City of Fire" where a giant building goes up in flames because of a car accident in the basement. Naturally, cars in The Future are all Made of Explodium...
  • Fun with Acronyms: "F.A.B.", the Tracy boys' catchphrase, essentially meaning "understood." Anderson himself has said that it wasn't really intended to stand for anything other than "fab" — even though it takes longer to say. Fanon sometimes has this as standing for "Fully Advised and Briefed."
    • Using acronyms like FAB, and those seen in other Anderson series, such as P.W.O.R. (Proceeding With Orders Received) from Stingray and S.I.G. (Spectrum Is Green) in Captain Scarlet, was a nod to then-current real life radio practice which required responses to messages to be understandable even if the signal was bad. Oddly enough, the show's use of actual radio practice — giving directions like "Left-left two degrees" got it wrong, as there should only have been one "left" but two "rights" so as to be decipherable even if all that could be heard was one or two unintelligible squawks.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: When the main villain, the Hood, uses his mesmeric powers on any other character, his eyes glow yellow.
  • Glowing Mechanical Eyes: when the Tracy Brothers' portraits in the lounge are used for communication, their eyes flash while the portrait is static, before converting to a Video Phone.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: In Terror in New York City, TV journalist Ned Cook is determined to cover the event of the Empire State Building being moved. Even when the operation goes wrong and the ground starts cracking up under his feet, he stays where he is, until he falls through the ground, the Empire State Building falls on top of him, and he has to be rescued in a very difficult operation.
  • Homage: Travel website Orbitz briefly had a series of commercials dubbed Destination: Orbitz, with Anderson-esque puppets helping people with travel- the lead puppet was voiced by Maurice LaMarche and they even had the insert shots!
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: In 30 Minutes After Noon, the main villain is not seen, and communicates with his subordinates by radio. There is also a brief scene where three British agents are discussing infiltrating the mission; we do not see the men, only their hats on the stand.
  • How We Got Here: The episode "Move - And You're Dead" begins with Alan and grandma stranded on a bridge with a bomb. While Thunderbirds 1 and 2 are on their way to save them, Alan recalls how they got into this situation in the first place (which takes up most of the episodes time). Justified because Jeff is asking him how he got there in full detail to keep him concentrating, so he doesn't fall unconscious from heat exhaustion and fall to his death, if not triggering the bomb's motion sensor.
  • Hover Bike: International Rescue has several of these at its disposal for navigating around a danger zone. note 
  • Humiliation Conga: Tends to happen to The Hood a lot.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Lady Penelope was designed to resemble her voice actress, Sylvia Anderson.
  • An Insert: Human hands pressing a button for a puppet character. The series also liked to use cutaways to get around the problem — you'd see, say, Parker holding a cigarette when Penelope would ask for a light, then cut to another shot, then to Penelope holding the lit cigarette. "Thirty Minutes After Noon" takes this a step further by having a human hand holding a pen in the foreground with a couple of puppets in Forced Perspective in the background.
    • Not just Lady Penelope, but Everybody Smokes - the boys were often seen smoking after a mission. In Vault of Death, even Lady Penelope's cook is smoking over the food.
    • Another notable insert is during "Vault of Death", involving a close-up of Lady Penelope's black-gloved hand clicking fingers to pass the time, and distracting Parker from his stethoscopic safe-cracking.
      Parker: Look here, do you think we might have a bit of hush, Milady?
    • According to some reports, the bomb in "Trapped in the Sky" was actually a can of shaving foam.
  • Instant Emergency Response:
    • Surprisingly averted most of the time. The Thunderbirds are incredibly fast, but it still takes some time to get to the scene of emergencies, which of course makes their operations once there races against time with only minutes left.
    • This is played with and lampshaded in "Vault of Death". A workaholic employee Lambert is accidentally locked inside the vault, with the air being pumped out, and Lambert is completely unaware. International Rescue are called out some ninety minutes previously, and set to work rescuing him; and minutes before the air runs out, Lambert himself discovers his plight, and tries to call International Rescue himself. Just then, Virgil and Alan explode their way into the vault, and introduce themselves.
      Lambert: International Rescue? I knew you were highly efficient, but this is ridiculous!
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Used in several episodes.
    • "Sun Probe": When those in Thunderbird 3 have to move closer to the sun than was estimated, they hope that they can stand up to the heat. There is a cut to Virgil and Brains wrapped up in warm clothing on the side of a mountain, hoping that they can stand up to the cold.
    • "The Uninvited": After Scott has crash landed in the desert, Jeff says that there is not a single solitary soul for miles. There is a cut to Scott in the desert, and the archaeologists coming across him. Later, the archaeologists say they will die without water, and there is a cut to Tintin saying "The water's lovely!" in the swimming pool at Tracy Island.
    • "Cry Wolf": When the boys call for help about being trapped down a mine, and are not believed, they then despair that they will never get out. The action then cuts to Gordon relaxing on Tracy Island, saying "this is the life".
  • Just in Time: Many of the rescues were completed with very little time to spare, before a bomb going off, air running out, etc.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Surprisingly averted with Alan most of the time, as he proves to be competent. However he does have the background of being a racecar driver. Every now and then when the plot demands it, he complains about something. Later franchise instalments played it irritatingly straight however.
  • Large Ham: The Duchess of Royston is about as hammy as puppets get.
  • Laser Cutter: Laser cutters are used in these episodes:
    • "City of Fire", to cut through the steel fire doors to rescue the family trapped underneath a burning building.
    • "Vault of Death": the lasers are not powerful enough to get through the very thick door of the Bank of England vault, in the very limited time.
    • "Operation Crash Dive": Gordon uses a laser to cut the engines off the sunken Fireflash aircraft, to make it float to the surface.
    • "Thirty Minutes after Noon": Lasers are used to rescue Southern from behind three steel doors.
    • "Cry Wolf": The Hood uses one to burn through the door to the tracking laboratory.
  • Machine Monotone: The robot Braman constructed by Brains as well as the vocal interface of an elevator. Note that in-series it was very surprising to hear these voices respond with pleasantries like saying 'thank you' and 'you're welcome.'
  • Made of Explodium: In the Thunderbirds universe, everything can explode or burn with really cool flames if the plot commands it. Or even if it would just be really cool if something exploded. If something is introduced that might conceivably blow up, rest assured that it will have done so by the end of the episode.
    • The tail end of the opening credit sequence has a totally random oil refinery in the background. Its only purpose is to explode.
    • A particularly bad example occurs in "Brink of Disaster", in which a monotrain is stuck on a disintegrating bridge. Of course, it's not enough for the bridge to just fall apart, its joints and bars actively and regularly explode.
    • In "The Uninvited", the trailer of the archaeologists' desert jeep becomes uncoupled, and falls down an embankment. Just after one of them has said "all our gasoline and water is in that trailer", it explodes spectacularly. OK, maybe justified with the gasoline, but would it not happen immediately on falling?
  • Made of Iron: The Hood crashes at least three times in the series, including once flying a light aircraft into a villa. His face gets a bit dirty, and the film he's transporting is destroyed. It's implied, however, that he's Killed Off for Real in Thunderbird 6.
  • Master of Disguise: The Hood, and, to a lesser extent, Penelope.
  • Meaningful Name: The sons of Jeff Tracy are all named after famous astronauts of the 1960s, specifically, the Mercury Seven: Alan Shepard, Virgil Grissom, John Glenn, Gordon Cooper, and Scott Carpenter.
  • Mission Control: John Tracy up on the TB 5 station, Jeff Tracy back at HQ, and Scott once he was on the scene of the rescue. Folks spent a lot of time talking to microphones on this show.
  • The Mole: Kyrano, a reluctant example. The Mole was not, to the best of our knowledge, a double agent.
  • The Movie: Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbird 6, neither of which were very successful.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Parker would occasionally slip back into his old habit of stealing, like when Penelope caught him sneaking off to the casino with safe cracking equipment.
  • No Antagonist: There's the Hood and some one-shot villains, but there are also many episodes where the accident is down to pure bad luck or innocent mistakes.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Many of the cast's voices or appearances were cribbed off then-current celebrities.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Pretty much the raison d'être of many episodes. It's almost as if Gerry Anderson decided the most dangerous thing about the 2060's was that they were populated by idiots.
    • The Fireflash in "Trapped in the Sky", an atomic-powered aeroplane which would have killed all of its passengers by radiation poisoning if it didn't land within 2 hours.
    • In "Day of Disaster" a vehicle is transporting a giant rocket. Fully fuelled. With people inside. And it's set up with an unstoppable automatic launch countdown. And they have to cross a weak bridge. And there's a storm. And the bridge supervisors are idiots.
    • The Crablogger in "Path of Destruction", an atomic-powered logging machine which was going to blow up if not shut down properly, a complicated process that took upwards of five minutes. We guess a red "emergency stop" button was too simple — then anyone could have stopped it should it have been about to smash through a village or destroy a dam.
    • The monorail in "Brink of Disaster": completely automatic, and cannot stop if the signal wires are severed. When the owner of this train tries to persuade Jeff to invest in it, Jeff is none too happy about having to be rescued because of this. Unlike most other examples, this episode actually lampshades the trope with Jeff, Brains and Tintin all pointing out the glaring safety issues.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: IR's policy of strict secrecy concerning their equipment when the Tracy family could possibly save thousands of lives, not mention make a spectacular profit, by licensing out the designs of their Thunderbird vehicles to the various nations and organisations wanting to augment their own emergency response forces. Presumably, this is to keep IR's equipment unique and the plot complication of keeping that secrecy. Although it's also stated that IR's technology could be used for destruction if it fell into the wrong hands.
    • The 2004 movie also dropped thisnote , presumably because nowadays, trying to keep their vehicles and tech under wraps would be far more difficult, what with how technology has advanced- you can't exactly just shoot someone's cameraphone or smartphone out of their hands (though an earlier unused script had cameras simply stop working when pointed at the Thunderbirds). On the other hand, the main plot is The Hood attempting to utilize the Thunderbird craft for his own evil ends, justifying the latter concern.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Well, saving the world is a family business. However, it was established that International Rescue has agents all over the world, although we never get to see any of them aside from Lady Penelope and Parker, and the hillbilly agents from "The Imposters".
  • Off-Model: The Thunderbird craft in the Comic-Book Adaptation only vaguely resemble the models seen on screen. One wonders if the artist had seen an episode of Thunderbirds once and was trying to do it from memory.
  • One World Order: Possibly. The government is never really explored, but there is seemingly a "World Navy", though whether it represents the entire world is unclear, as it seems to enjoy testing nuclear weapons for no apparent reason. Tie-in material hints that the show may be in the same universe as Stingray and Captain Scarlet, and it's made clear there is a world government.
  • Parasol Parachute: In "The Cham-Cham", Parker climbs on the roof of a cable car careering down a wire at a high speed. Lady Penelope offers him her umbrella, to help him attach hooks to it lowered by Thunderbird 2. When Parker falls off the roof, he uses the umbrella as a parachute.
  • Parental Bonus: As a true "all ages" program, episode plots and characters were very well written, particularly after the episodes were lengthened to an hour.
  • Piggy Bank: At the end of "Vault of Death", Light-Fingered Fred easily breaks into the Bank of England vault, chuckling "they call this place burglar-proof? They'd do better to use my kids' piggy banks".
  • Police Are Useless: Averted. One of Jeff Tracy's rules for International Rescue is that it focus on saving lives and dealing with emergencies, and not catch the criminals or terrorists that might cause them. Averted on a couple of occasions when IR helps law enforcement by preventing criminals from escaping. One episode also had the Hood attack Gordon in Thunderbird 4, only for Gordon to shoot back and destroy his submarine.
  • Pop The Tyres: Subverted on an episode: Lady Penelope attempts to shoot out the tyres of a car, only for it to fail because they've been reinforced to protect against such things. In another episode, when some crooks try to escape with her jewels, she gets Parker to shoot the tyres. The crooks try to drive off in Fab 1, but Lady Penelope uses remote control to make it go round in circles.
    Parker: You don't want me to shoot up the Rolls-Royce, do you?
    Lady Penelope: No. For one thing, you wouldn't succeed; and for another, it won't be necessary. (Uses remote control on car) Now I think we can go back to bed.
  • Psychic Powers: The Hood has these. Among other things, he can telepatically hypnotize Kyrano, and instantly put people to sleep.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Just about every male English character in the show is portrayed with an aristocratic, nasal, Received Pronunciation accent, and would never dream of raising their voice even in their current life-or-death situation.
    • It's a bit of an Enforced Trope as the show was made in Britain, by British showmakers who would definitely know better, but was intended to be sold to American broadcasters for an audience who would be expecting this trope.
  • Ray Gun: Used by the Tracy boys a couple of times and on one occasion the baddie.
  • Recycled In Space: A lot of concepts were Ripped from the Headlines sixties tropes given a futuristic spin. For example, pirate radio ships being anchored outside national waters became pirate radio spaceships outside Earth orbit, and Concorde became Fireflash.
  • Rescue: A genre example on the grandest scale.
  • Restricted Rescue Operation: The show runs on this trope, as the titular craft are designed specifically for rescue. Despite really specific equipment, expect a lot to go wrong, forcing an out-of-the-box solutions. Also, International Rescue must operate under strict secrecy, as they do not wish their technology to fall into the wrong hands.
  • Retro Rocket: Thunderbirds 1 and 3, as well as some other vehicles.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension:
    • In Terror in New York City, Ned and Joe are trapped underground in a cave which is slowly filling with water from an underground river. Although breathing apparatus is passed down to them from above, the tension rises as they wonder if they will be rescued before the air runs out. Not only that, but buildings above them are collapsing, which might cause the roof to cave in.
    • In "Martian Invasion", the actors trapped in the cave are threatened with this.
  • Rudely Hanging Up: In "End of the Road", Eddie Houseman does this when his boss is pleading with him not to proceed with a reckless and highly dangerous job involving explosives. However, Eddie has to swallow his pride minutes later, as the explosion places him in an extremely perilous situation, from which he has to be rescued.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The title sequence proclaimed it to be filmed "In Videcolor" and "Supermarionation." Plain-English translation: "It's in colournote , and it's a (sophisticated) puppet show." The "super" in "Supermarionation" referred to the automated lipsynching. The characters' voice tracks were fed to solenoids in the puppets' heads that moved the lips based on the audio level of the speech.
  • Shoe Phone: Watch phones, powder compact phones and of course teapot phones.
  • Shout-Out: In "Brink of Disaster", the gadgets that Lady Penelope deploys from the Rolls Royce are reminiscent of the Aston Martin in Goldfinger.
  • Sibling Team: The five Tracy Brothers, with their father serving as the Team Dad.
  • Speech Impediment: B-B-Brains has a t-tendency to s-stutter.
  • Spinoff: The presence of Zero-X in the first movie seems to make it double up as the pilot of the following series, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. However, it isn't really confirmed in-series as the Thunderbirds never showed up in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: This happens only once: in the pilot episode Trapped in the Sky, between Scott and Lady Penelope.
  • Stock Footage: By the pound. Only parts of the stock launch footage are usually used per episode in order to provide some variety to the launches. For the same reason, FX director Derek Meddings also insisted on shooting more angles than strictly necessary.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Lady Penelope, even by puppet standards.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The special effects crew were really, really good at explosions and flames, with the result that almost every episode had a spectacular explosion of some kind at some point.
    • The intro ends with this.
  • Suspicious Missed Messages: Although not mentioned, it seems that scheduled calls are part of International Rescue's policy, to ensure their own safety.
    • In "The Uninvited", Scott radios from the pyramid saying he is trapped inside. Jeff says that if he does not hear from Scott within ten minutes, he will send Thunderbird 2 out; and he follows through on this.
    • In "Desperate Intruder": When Tintin and Brains have been hypnotised by the Hood, those on Tracy Island know that something is wrong when they are impossible to contact. Suddenly an alarm sounds, implying that a scheduled message had been missed, prompting Jeff to send out the Thunderbirds to investigate.
  • The Tag: Almost all the episodes have short and usually funny scene at the very end, after the rescue has taken place, often involving the secrecy of International Rescue. (See the Recaps for individual examples.)
  • Team Dad: Jeff Tracy is a literal example.
  • Technology Porn: All the time, but especially the launch sequences.
  • Techno Wizard: Brains.
  • Theme Naming: All the Tracy sons were named for American astronauts. The Mercury Astronauts in particular: Scott Carpenter, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Alan Shepard, Gordon Cooper and John Glenn. Jeff being a former astronaut himself, it's probable that this is an in-universe example.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman:
    • Poor Gordon, and his favoured ride, Thunderbird 4. His skills as a diver and submersible pilot were not useful as often as he might have liked. Most of the times he was called out on a rescue he was riding shotgun with Scott or Virgil as generic backup, and despite being a Tracy brother he was less important to the plot than Tin-Tin, Brains, or Penny almost all the time. TB 4, despite being a main-line vehicle, was the size of a van next to a fleet of giants, and was overshadowed in importance by many barely-seen robotic pod vehicles, like the Mole. On the few occasions when there was danger at sea, he really did shine. Gordon was recognised as the best marksman on the team, though, and was often utilised when something needed aiming, e.g. firing the cable from Thunderbird 2 into the Zero X in the first movie.
    • Gordon's insignificance is also notable in that we never see him using his portrait in the lounge to talk to Jeff.
    • A particularly bad example of this is seen in Thunderbirds Are Go (the movie) when IR covers the second launch of Zero X. Scott, Virgil and Alan are all sent off in TB 1, 2 and 3 to watch over the launch, but Gordon has to stay home because "It's unlikely [TB 4] will be needed." Okay, but what is, say, TB 2 going to do if Zero X gets in trouble? Virgil will be too busy flying to do anything to help, whereas Gordon could have done something if he'd been there.
    • And he did have more to do than John Tracy, who was stuck on Thunderbird 5 just about all the time. (In part because Gerry Anderson didn't like how the puppet looked — to the extent that "Operation Crash Dive", the only episode in which Thunderbird 5 actually does something other than relay the mission of the week, coincides with Alan being on duty relieving John!)
  • To the Batpole!: The famous "rotating furniture" that took the Tracys from the house to the hangars. In City of Fire, there is also a revolving desk in a control room, which does not appear to serve much purpose.
  • Toyless Toyline Character:
    • The show has had various toy lines released over the years, but good luck finding toy figures of Tin Tin, her father Kyrano, and grandma Tracy.
    • As far as one can consider vehicles to be characters, various pod vehicles that appeared in only 1 episode never got a toy; only the more famous ones (the Mole, the Firefly, etc.) did.
    • Downplayed with Thunderbird 5; there are some toys of this Thunderbird, but notably fewer than of any of the other thunderbird vehicles. Several lines of Thunderbird merchandising (like the 1992 toy series) completely omitted the space station, often in favor of Lady Penelope's FAB 1 car (most likely since Thunderbird 5 never participates in any action, limiting its play value).
  • Track Trouble: In "Brink of Disaster", the fully automatic monorail track is damaged by a patrolling heli-jet crashing into it.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Every episode begins with a brief preview montage, essentially summarising the episode you are about to watch.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Thunderbirds 1, 2, and 3 are all ridiculously fast, moving anywhere around the globe (or Earth orbit) inside a couple of hours. For example, Thunderbird 1 once flew from Tracy Island (somewhere in the Pacific Ocean) to London, England at a quoted speed of at least 7500 mph, which is just shy of Mach 10. Tie-in media establishes TB1's top speed as 15,000 mph, and TB2's as 5,000 mph. TB1's speed was given in the original script for the pilot episode ("Trapped in the Sky"); TB2's is quoted on-screen in "Terror in New York City".
    • Special mention to Thunderbird 3 which flew from Earth to so-close-to-the-Sun-that-it-was-on-the-verge-of-melting in the time it took Thunderbird 2 to fly from the South Pacific to the Himalayas.
  • Understatement: Lady Penelope's response to anything from mild inconvenience to apocalyptic disaster is a disappointed, "Oh dear, how tiresome."
  • Unraveled Entanglement: International Rescue erases a television videotape with a remote magnetic pulse device in order to protect their secrets. When the cameraman unloads the (now smoking) tape from the truck-mounted camera, the tape starts to unravel all over the announcer standing below.
  • Vehicle Porn: The series is a celebration of futuristic technology. As such, the Thunderbird machines are as much main characters as the Tracy family. Each episode treats us to loving, slow shots of them — at minimum — taking off and landing. The Vehicles Of The Week get similar treatment, although only to start the excitement for them to get into trouble and be rescued (or explode spectacularly) by the end of the episode.
  • Video Phone: These are used extensively. However, there are only a couple of occasions when the visual aspect is actually used to convey information (other than the callers' faces):
    • "Move - and you're dead": Jeff sends a picture of the bridge of San Miguel to Brains in Thunderbird 2.
    • "The man from MI5": Lady Penelope uses her powder compact transmitter while "fixing her make up", sending a coded message using her lipstick.
  • Weaponized Car: Lady Penelope's Rolls Royce, which is heavily armoured, and has guns coming out of the back and front.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Sure, Jeff Tracy is a millionaire and Brains is a Gadgeteer Genius, so International Rescue certainly has the resources and the technical knowhow to set up their organization, but that still begs the question how they managed to build their entire fleet of futuristic machines, an island base filled with secret hangars to house these machines, and even a manned space station, without anyone finding out. It's hard to believe Brains could have done all that with only the Tracys' help.
    • There was a handwave provided in the episode "Terror In New York City" for how the eponymous Thunderbird vehicles are kept in service; components are bought from a variety of different manufacturers -presumably through various shell companies- and no one part is significant enough to clue someone in as to who and what it is going towards, even when they needed to carry out extensive repairs on Thunderbird 2 after some trigger-happy warship captain tried to blow her out of the sky with surface-to-air missiles. Of course, this only explains where International Rescue gets the parts without attracting attention. It doesn't explain how they ever build their vehicles, or their base of operations.
  • Women Drivers: Justified in "City of Fire" as this was a learning driver and played unfortunately straight in "Vault of Death" — although perhaps justified in that she's been driven around by other people her whole life. Averted in later episodes, when Penny actually does learn to drive.
    Lord Stilton (as Lady Penelope drives towards a cliff edge): REVERSE!!!!
    Lady Penelope (reversing rapidly, while looking in front): There was no need to shout, Lord Stilton. You see, we're going quite smoothly.
    Parker: Oh we are, madam, but backwards!
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The Fireflash's stated top speed is Mach 6, but it evidently cruises at a much lower speed as it still takes several hours to get anywhere. Rule of Drama, perhaps, but Mach 6 is approximately 4,000 mph.
    • Against that, at the start of "Trapped in the Sky", the flight time of Fireflash's maiden commercial flight (between London and Tokyo) is given as 2 hours. That actually works out to be pretty close for a cruise altitude of 250,000 feet as given in the episode.
  • Zeerust: Kind of inevitable, considering the show was made in the 1960's.
    • The Thunderbirds themselves, particularly 1 and 2, were based on aircraft and prototypes that were state-of-the-art at the time; TB 1 on the MiG 19 and 21, along with a series of X-planes, and 2 on experimental lifting-body aircraft. All other kinds of high-tech machines have clicky panels, big shiny microphones and chrome-plated-chrome. And not to mention; reel-to-reel tapes, telegrams and manual typewriters are still fully in use in the the futuristic world of the Thunderbirds, while things like the internet, mobile phones, tablets, pocket calculators etc. are not present at all.
    • The International Rescue crew do have watches with little full-colour screens, on which they can see each other; although they don't use them very often. It's also notable that panels of flashing lights (of which there are many) clearly use filament lamps: not an LED to be seen.


Video Example(s):


Rolling road & Sky

Clip from the documentary Filmed in Supermarionation demonstrating special effects techniques used in Thunderbirds.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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