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The Outer Limits 1995 / Tropes I to P

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This page covers tropes found in The Outer Limits (1995). Tropes beginning with letters A-H can be found at Tropes A to H and tropes beginning with letters Q-Z can be found at Tropes Q to Z.


The Outer Limits (1995) provides examples of:

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    I 
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate:
    • In "The New Breed", a scientist tinkered with nanotechnology and made himself nearly invincible. Unfortunately, the techniques his body used to protect him gave him a monstrous appearance, and proved potentially harmful to those around him. When he tries to commit suicide, it fails spectacularly.
    • In "Resurrection", the androids cannot shutdown the Innobotics Corporation power grid which provides them with the energy that allows them to function as doing so requires a human handprint.
    • In "The Haven", the artificial intelligence Argus, communicating through the holographic interface George, tells Caleb Vance, Alyssa Selwyn and Morgan Winters that it cannot destroy itself so they must do so.
  • Ideal Illness Immunity: "The New Breed" involves prototype nanites developed to make this a reality. Basically, the nanites are designed to move through the body and look for any cellular abnormalities. The damaged or mutated cells would then be restored to their original state. And yes, someone even accused the scientist who developed them of playing God. Unfortunately, a friend of his decides to inject himself with the nanites before they're fully tested. Given the nature of the series, things go horribly wrong.
  • Identical Grandson: In "Last Supper", Frank is initially convinced that Laura must be Jade's daughter, since they look exactly alike. It turns out that she is Jade though.
  • I Die Free: Discussed in the episode "The Grell" by Jesha whose species, the Grell, was enslaved by humans when he and his master High Secretary Paul Kohler's family are stranded in the wilderness. He states that he would rather go back to his people's now uninhabitable planet, even though it would mean certain death. When Kohler asks him why, he replies "Because I would die free."
  • Ignored Expert: In "To Tell the Truth", Dr. Larry Chambers attempts to convince the ruling council of Janus Five that the system's sun is a pulsating star which is due to flash over in several days' time, a process that happens once every 1,000 years. He warns that the sun will emit deadly radiation and the colony will be destroyed. Chambers' claims are not taken seriously as, five years earlier, he had warned that the original location of the colony would be destroyed in a major volcanic eruption, which proved to be incorrect. The colony was moved to a new location at great cost in terms of time, money and manpower, leading many people to resent Chambers. He explains that he misinterpreted the data and what he thought was an impending eruption was in fact an early sign that the sun would flash over. It is also alleged that he is imagining an apocalyptic scenario since he is depressed over the death of his wife Elise three years earlier and does not want to live. When it looks as if people are starting to believe him, the council chairman Franklin Murdock and the colony's security chief Montgomery Bennett frame him by making it appear as if he is a shapeshifting alien who has taken Chambers' place.
  • I Hate Past Me: Thoroughly and completed averted in "A Stitch in Time". After saving her 15-year-old self from the rapist who kidnapped her, Dr. Theresa Givens is delighted at having spared that version of herself the trauma that she experienced, allowing her to lead the normal life that she was denied.
  • I Have No Son!: In "Heart's Desire", Josiah Miller is ashamed of his sons Jake and Ben because they are outlaws. They sent him quite a bit of (stolen) money over the years but he didn't spend any of it. He only allows them to stay at his house when they return home to Heart's Desire after ten years because he knows that's what their late mother would have wanted.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In "Lion's Den", the Lewisborough High School wrestling team, who have become Cat Folk, eat the retired coach Terni and later their own coach Peter Shotwell when they try to stop them from taking Neuroflex 500. One of the members of the team is Peter's son Morris so it doubles as Patricide in his case.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Played with in "White Light Fever". An old, rich, selfish man who nearly died says that death feels cold. When he dies, he meets an innocent girl who died earlier as a result of his selfishness, and asks to go with her. She says he can't because they're not going to the same place; where she's going, it's warm. Then she says that she always thought it was the other way around.
  • Immediate Sequel: "The Origin of Species" begins several minutes after the events of "Double Helix".
  • Immoral Reality Show: "Judgment Day" involves a TV show where crime victims' families hunt down and kill the apparent killers. The guy the episode focuses on didn't do it, was framed by the show's producer, and uses the show to clear himself.
  • Immortality Begins at 20: In "Last Supper", there's an immortal woman who actually stopped ageing at twenty. She explains that she was the last survivor of the Black Death sweeping through her village as a late teenager when she found out that she had a Healing Factor.
  • I'm Mr. [Future Pop Culture Reference]: In "Time To Time", the time traveler Gavin uses "Luke Skywalker" as an alias when in the year 1969. He even finished a phone call with "May the Force be with you."
  • Impaled Palm: In "Revival", Luke uses his shapeshifting abilities to create the illusion of stigmata in front of the revival congregations.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: In "The Heist", the POV of the alien organism is seen just before it attacks someone.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: In "Think Like a Dinosaur", humanity has been granted access to interstellar teleportation technology, known as jump technology, by the Hanen.
  • I Never Told You My Name: This is one part of the Downer Ending of the episode "Lithia." Set in the post-apocalyptic commune of the title - entirely populated by females due to a plague having killed all but a few cryogenically frozen men - a defrosted male is put back into freeze after his aggressive tendencies cause tragedy, and the leader of the commune (who says "Goodbye, Jason" as he's frozen, even though he never... you know) is his lost love.
  • Informed Ability: In the episode "Falling Star", the heroine's music is supposed to have such amazing influence that if she lives and succeeds as a pop star, the future will become a Utopia. The heroine is played (and presumably, her music composed) by Sheena Easton.
  • Innocent Aliens:
    • In "The Second Soul", the N'Tal are a race of symbiotic Energy Beings who require host bodies to survive. They forge a deal with humanity allowing them to reanimate and take possession of the bodies of the recently deceased. Although Dr. Michael Alders, the Director of the Department of Alien Studies, becomes concerned that they may have an ulterior motive, it turns out that the N'Tal have been completely honest and straightforward in their dealings with Earth.
    • In "Feasibility Study", Adrielo belongs to race with a pre-industrial society, several hundred years less technologically advanced than that of late 20th Century Earth. The Triune, who were in search of slaves, abducted a small group of them to determine whether they could survive the petrification disease which had killed every other species that they had brought to their planet. However, Adrielo's race was as susceptible to it as the others and the abductees soon died out.
    • In "The Grell", the titular race were peaceful and primitive, which it made easy for humanity to enslave them when it was discovered that their sun was slowly going nova.
    • In "Rule of Law", the Medusans, the indigenous population of Daedalus, are a peaceful and deeply spiritual species who only resort to violence in order to defend themselves or their eggs.
  • In One Ear, Out the Other: In "From Within", a small town is invaded by prehistoric slug-like parasites who crawl into a victim's head through nostrils or earholes and turn them into hedonistic delinquents. A waitress has one slug crawl in her right ear, then much later falls out of her left ear dead, leaving her back to normal. This might have been a mistake but she did come across as pretty ditzy so this might have been a stealth pun...
  • Insane Admiral: In "Gettysburg", Colonel Angus Devine is suffering from severe viral meningitis, which causes his behavior to become increasingly unstable as the Battle of Gettysburg progresses.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: The Quantum Mirror in "In Another Life".
  • Interface with a Familiar Face: In "The Origin of Species", the ship uses holograms of Dr. Martin Nodel and his son Paul, both of whom it had previously absorbed, to communicate with Hope and the six students.
  • Intimate Artistry: In "Bits of Love", a man trapped inside a subterranean dwelling after a nuclear holocaust is kept company by the holograms of people he knew. He then decides to seduce the habitat AI because she's the only one besides him with a real mind of her own, bonding with her by painting a nude portrait of her (she can even sit perfectly still for the occasion by temporarily freezing her program). This proves to be a huge mistake on his part, since seeing herself for the first time gives her a new sense of identity and makes her clingy and obsessive of him.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In "Falling Star", Melissa McCammon's suicide attempt was interrupted - thus altering history - when the consciousness of Rachel Connors, an avid fan of hers from the future, entered her body.
  • Intimate Healing: A variation occurs in "Caught in the Act", where the way to get an alien that kills men through sex out of the female host's body is by having sex (well, starting to, anyway) with her boyfriend. The explanation is that "love" was what the alien was really looking for in the first place so when it experiences that through the host's contact with her boyfriend, it can finally leave her body.
  • Invisible to Normals:
    • In "Corner of the Eye", both Carlito and Father Anton Jonascu can see the aliens in their true form. Everyone else only sees the human images that they project using their visual fields.
    • In "The Beholder", Patrick Tarloff, who was blinded in an accident when he was seven, receives a brain implant which allows him to see for the first time in almost 20 years. The treatment is supplemented by regular injections of iridium (produced in space) which forms a neural bridge to his optic nerve. Immediately after regaining his sight, Patrick begins to see an ethereal woman. Although his psychiatrist Dr. Louise Burrows dismisses it as a hallucination and he comes to accept this, he later discovers that she is in fact real. She is an alien named Kyra who lives on a different plane of existence. Patrick can see her because the iridium in his system expands his perception.
    • In "Decompression", the Time Traveler appears to Senator Wyndom Brody in the form of a Hologram that only he can see and hear as the projection is keyed to his neural signature.
    • In "The Tipping Point", the artificial intelligence Prometheus has created Energy Beings from computer code which can only be seen by people wearing special glasses.
  • Invisibility: In "Afterlife", the aliens display this ability at the end, having watched the test completely unseen.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Pretty much said ad-verbatim in "The Human Factor" by Link the Ridiculously Human Robot. Turns out he's right.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In the episode "Better Luck Next Time", two evil Body Surfing aliens named Gerard and Kimble - one of whom was revealed as the true form of Jack the Ripper in the episode this one is a sequel to - use "Better luck next time" as a catchphrase, usually when killing or screwing someone over. At the end of the episode, they realize they are in big trouble because both of their human hosts are mortally wounded and the only nearby human is a policewoman named Terry:
    Gerard: Her body is mine!
    Kimble: Wait! Where am I supposed to go!?
    Terry: Nowhere! Game over, better luck next time. (points her gun at her head and fires)
    • "Trial by Fire" has two for the price of one. The recently elected U.S. President Charles Halsey's campaign slogan was "Let me be your friend." On his first day in office, he is faced with a crisis which is at first believed to be an extinction level event but turns out to be the approach of alien ships. Having received several answers filled with technical jargon, President Halsey tells his advisors that he wants to hear plain English in response to any further questions. After the aliens launch a weapon of mass destruction at Washington, D.C. in response to an attempted attack on their fleet, Halsey is provided with the translation of their original message. It turns out that it was in English all along but that the distortions caused by the liquid environment in which the aliens live needed to be removed. The message said, "Let us be your friends."
    • In "Relativity Theory", Sgt. Adam Sears repeatedly justifies killing the seemingly primitive aliens on Tau Gamma Prime by saying that it is humanity's right as the more advanced species, basing his arguments on the principle of survival of the fittest. It later becomes clear that the aliens were essentially Boy Scouts who belonged to a species who are considerably more advanced than humanity. One of their extremely powerful vessels destroys the survey ship (killing Sears and everyone else on board) and then sets its sights on Earth.
  • It Will Never Catch On: In "Ripper", Lady Julia describes Dr. Sigmund Freud as a quack for the sole reason that he practises in Vienna and brands Lady Sophie's cousin Charlotte a nincompoop for going to see him.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In "Starcrossed", Michael Ryan helps his former lover Cass Trenton, whom he has never gotten over, and her husband Winston Meyerburg procure a Hing spacecraft so that they can escape from Archangel.

    J 
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Michael Ryan in "Starcrossed".
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son:
    • In "Sandkings", Dr. Simon Kress was a nerd growing up while his father was very much a jock.
    • In "Stranded", a nerdy teenager with an interest in science is neglected by his sports-oriented father, who openly favors his more jock-like (but still nice, at least to his little bro) older brother. When an alien bounty hunter's ship crash lands nearby, this makes the kid more open to an offer of friendship from the alien, who turns out to be the bounty hunter's criminal.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: In "Mindreacher", Dr. Candace Maguire and her lover Dr. Kenneth Vaughn have developed a technique known as Psionically Synchronized Reality (PSR) or "mindreaching" which allows someone to enter the mind of a mentally ill person and help them fight their demons. It is their hope that it will revolutionize the treatment of mental health disorders.
  • Just Following Orders: In the opening of "Free Spirit", a group of scientists receive an order to end a mind-transfer experiment by terminating their unconscious human test subjects. When the last one escapes as an incorporeal spirit and eventually comes back for revenge, they try to use this excuse by claiming they had no choice in the matter. He calls them out on how weak it is, as they didn't even attempt to object to the order.
  • Just Got Out of Jail:
    • In "The Gun", Matthew Logan murders his wife Sandra within hours of being released from prison.
    • In "Alien Shop", Andy Pace has recently been released from prison after serving a sentence for drug dealing and is still on probation. He is desperately searching for a job so that he can support his pregnant wife Gabby and prove to her parents that he is not a deadbeat.

    K 
  • Karmic Death: Used a lot:
    • In the episode "Tribunal", an elderly, but unrepentant and still evil Nazi is brought back into the past and stranded in the concentration camp where he used to work. His past self casually executes him, not realizing who he was, and dismissing the corpse as "Just another worthless Jew".
    • In "The Vaccine", the Jerkass Social Darwinists force the nurse main character to mix up the titular vaccine for them at gunpoint, and even after they promise to save one dose for the little boy, they take it and give it to one of their own when the nurse's back is turned. They then go into anaphylactic shock, because they were already exposed and immune to the virus; the vaccine itself killed them and they inadvertently saved the lives of more sympathetic characters.
    • In "Deja Vu", a character suffers a Karmic Fate Worse than Death; the general who secretly tried to weaponize a teleportation experiment ends up trapped in an endless loop of the second before his death when the experiment goes awry.
    • In "Last Supper", a Mad Scientist tortures an immortal woman while trying to figure out the secret to her immortality and eternal youth. Eventually, he injects himself with a syringe of her blood. It makes him younger... and younger... and younger until he's reduced to a puddle of raw cells.
    • In "Judgment Day", the corrupt TV producer who framed a man for murder so he could be hunted down and killed on live television, suffers the same fate after he kills someone in an attempt to cover it up. He's killed by the person he originally framed, in fact.
  • Karmic Transformation:
    • The episode "Tribunal" has one of the best examples. An old Nazi war criminal who escaped justice is taken as an old man back through time and put in the camp he ran, now in the outfit of a prisoner. Combining this with Karmic Death he is then shortly executed by his past self as just another worthless Jew.
    • The episode "The Grell" has a guy who was racist against aliens turned into one. He learns his lesson and treats them with compassion in the end.
  • Karmic Twist Ending:
    • "Blood Brothers": Michael Deighton tries to kill his own brother to steal a valuable drug. Earlier on Michael had lied that he didn't have the gene that would lead to him developing Huntington's disease, but in fact does have it. He takes the wonder immortality drug Deighton C in hopes of being eternally young and biologically immortal. Unfortunately his brother finds that monkeys given the same drug earlier on lose their regenerative ability after a short period of time. The same happens to Michael who accelerates into a real life version of Tithonus... being immortal but rapidly aging.
    • "Afterlife": Linden Stiles allows himself to have his DNA spliced with alien DNA found from a body at a crash site thus transforming him into a human/alien hybrid with enhanced senses. He is allowed to escape the government facility so as to be hunted down. When he's caught and about to be executed, the aliens arrive and kidnap Stiles while at the same showing signs of disappointment at the army, revealing the entire events to be a test which humanity has failed.
    • "Bits Of Love": The last survivor of a nuclear war living in an underground bunker relies on computer generated holograms for companionship, including women who he simply dumps after a few dates. Eventually he falls for the computer AI in charge of the system. When his holographic family urge him to end the relationship for it means they may have to be deleted due to their relationship using more of the limited energy supply, he ditches her for a holographic version of former real life flame. After attempting to delete the AI and replace her with a better version, she fights back and assumes total control creating a holographic version of himself and a child. The new family begins to live out a life as with the rest of the holograms who continue to ignore him. Now he is to spend the rest of his life alone as the last human alive while the holograms live out eternity ignoring him.
    • "New Lease": Dr. James Houghton has been killed by a robber during a theft and before dying urges his colleagues to bring him back to life to shower his neglected family with love knowing the procedure can only bring him back to life for a single day. He reclaims the affection of his wife and but then decides to get revenge on the man who kills him. After being given life imprisonment he realizes the procedure was more successful than previous attempts meaning he'll spend the remaining decades of his life in jail.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: In "Mindreacher", Dr. Candace Maguire is attacked by a monster in a dream. After she realizes she's in a dream, she wills a katana into her hand and kills the monster.
  • Kid from the Future:
    • A variation occurred in "Vanishing Act". After getting into a minor car accident on December 31, 1949, Trevor McPhee returns home the next morning to find that it is January 1, 1960. He and his wife Theresa - who thought that he abandoned her - have sex before he is sent another ten years into the future. In 1970, he finds that he has a nine-year-old son named Mark who was conceived that night. He meets Mark again as a 19-year-old in 1980 and as a 29-year-old in 1990. By the time of this last encounter, Mark is four years older than his father.
    • In "Tribunal", Aaron Zgierski travels back in time to 1944 and meets his father Leon, who was then a prisoner in Auschwitz, as a young man. Leon does not realize who Aaron is but, years later, names his son after him. In the same episode, Nicholas Prentice tells Aaron that he is his great-grandson from about 100 years in the future.
    • Another variation occurred in "Time to Time" when Tom and Angie Palmer from 1969 met their 25-year-old daughter Lorelle Palmer from 1989 and never realized that she was the adult version of their five-year-old.
    • In "Gettysburg", Corporal Beauregard Larouche, a member of the Army of Northern Virginia who is trying to stay alive during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, meets his descendant Andy Larouche from 2000 but does not realize his identity.
  • Kill and Replace:
    • "A Special Edition" had a television journalist interview a man who claimed to know of a conspiracy which replaced prominent figures with clones loyal to the creators. At the end of the episode, the "conspiracy nut" is killed, at which point the shocked host sees a duplicate of himself wearing the same clothes. The final scene is a report by the clone who dismisses the claims of the "nut" who has "killed himself".
    • The reveal of "Something About Harry" was that the mysterious tenant at a teenager's (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) house, who was going around killing people around town, was in fact a government agent who had been hunting these types of aliens. In a further reveal, it turns out that the boy's mother (who had been skeptical of the whole thing), not the agent, had in fact been impersonated by another one of these aliens.
    • In "Skin Deep", Sid Camden uses a prototype image enhancer developed by Veil-Tech, the company where he works as an accountant, to imitate his handsome co-worker Chad Warner. While the genuine article is out of town for a few days, Sid gets him fired and receives $50,000 which was meant for Chad. Having heard rumors that Sid had clandestinely gotten hold of one of the image enhancers, Chad confronts him in his apartment and swears that he will get to the bottom of it. The only thing that stops him from beating Sid up is a lack of proof. However, this changes when Chad loses patience with Sid's taunting and pushes him. As he falls, he lands on the image enhancer and the Chad image activates. The two men fight briefly until Sid gains the upper hand and beats Chad to death by repeatedly hitting him over the head with a candlestick. After burying Chad's body, Sid leaves a message for his best (and only) friend Deb Clement on her answering machine saying that he intends to jump off a bridge. Sid takes over Chad's life after faking his own death. After two weeks, it transpires that Chad did not win the $50,000 in a bet as Sid thought but had received it on loan from an underwriter named Alan. Alan and his accomplice Grant confront Sid and demand the money, which they should have received the day before. Sid attempts to prove to them that he is the wrong guy by showing them the image enhancer. However, they think that he is taking out a gun and Alan stabs him in the stomach.
  • Killed Offscreen: Prisoner 98843 died of unknown causes between the events of the previous installment, "The Camp", and "Promised Land".
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: In "The Camp", the commandant mentions that in the past some other humans discovered the camp staff were androids, and he killed them to keep this secret.
  • Kill 'Em All: In "The Camp", the androids have standing orders to "execute Procedure Seven", the murder of all the human prisoners, once they are no longer needed. At the end, when Prisoner 98843 exposes them, the commandant orders this, but the human prisoners manage to overpower them and escape.
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: The episode "Judgment Day" was about an Immoral Reality Show in which convicted murderers are released so that the family members of their victims can hunt them down and kill them on national television. This is subverted in the case of the protagonist, both because he's been framed and manages to convince the person who's hunting him that he didn't kill her sister, but played straight in the case of the T.V. show's producer, who is responsible for the Frame-Up and then kills the other sister as well to cover it up. The protagonist later hunts the producer down as after he's exposed and become a target on his own show.
  • The Killer in Me: In "Free Spirit", the body-hopping spirit reveals at the end that he used the body of the woman whom he blamed for his death to kill her own friend, who was another person on his hit list. She is subsequently sent to prison for it.
  • Killer Robot: In "Mona Lisa", the titular android was created by Dr. Willard Haley at the request of a secret government organisation called the Agency to serve as an assassin. She was given the appearance of a 25-year-old woman so that she could better serve as an infiltrator and gain the confidence of her targets.
  • Killing Your Alternate Self: In "In Another Life", the version of Mason Stark who killed everyone in his office tried to kill the Eigenphase Industries CEO Mason.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual:
    • The season 2 episode "Mind Over Matter" has a man who, through an advanced AI, can enter people's unconsciousness when they are in a coma. He uses this to bring several people out. When the woman he loves (but who he has never told) enters a coma, he uses the computer to enter her unconscious. They start having a relationship in the simulation, but a weird monster appears in the simulation. At the climax, we find the AI created a simulation of her and, in trying to kill the fake, he has killed the real woman, who appeared as the 'monster' because of her comatose state; she was flickering in and out and looked 'wrong' because she was a representation of a mind only partially active. The 'clean' version was the AI.
    • The season 3 episode "Bits of Love" involved a man who'd survived a nuclear holocaust with only holographic AIs for company, including a particular character that his habitat AI used as her avatar. He can occasionally have physical contact via a body-encasing VR chamber, and uses this for sex. Then he makes the mistake of doing this with the habitat AI, and though it's just a fling to him, she falls in love with him. Oops. The ending even plays with the trope a little as the AI creates a virtual copy of the man then is implied to play out their entire (possible, virtual) future lives as a couple whilst the real man is trapped in his bunker, watching this happen turning it into Kiss, Me I'm Virtual squared.
  • Klaatu Barada Nikto: In "Alien Radio", Stan Harbinger quotes the line to mock the Believers.
  • Knight Templar: "A Stitch In Time" was a meditation on how Knights Templar come to be created and the price a person pays for being one. It's generally regarded as one of the best episodes of the series.

    L 
  • Lady Land: The episode "Lithia" takes place in the year 2055, where the world is populated only by women. Almost all of the men were killed years earlier in a war, and the plot starts with a male soldier who's suddenly awakened from cryogenic suspension. He adjusts to the society, but is unsettled by the fact that power must be churned manually through a mill when there's a power plant a relatively short distance away. His attempts to "solve" this problem escalate until someone gets killed, at which point he's frozen again after we get the Cruel Twist Endinghe's not the only man in storage-the leaders of this society found several and tried reintroducing them to the population, with disastrous results every time.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: "Free Spirit" mainly revolves about people's past misdeeds coming back to haunt them; literally in this case when the disembodied essence of a person who was killed in an aborted science experiment pursues his killers by possessing people in the asylum they're working at.
    Control Voice: If we are unwilling to heed our conscience, our worst judgments will inevitably come back to haunt us.
  • Last-Minute Reprieve: A variation in "Afterlife". In lieu of execution, Sgt. Linden Stiles is given the choice of submitting to a military experiment. However, as far as the observers of the execution and the outside world were concerned, the execution went ahead as scheduled. Stiles himself thought that it had until he woke up.
  • Last of His Kind: In "Lithia", Major Mercer appears to be the last man left on Earth. Eleven others were unthawed too, and an unspecified number were left in cryostasis though.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: In "The Heist", an alien (which may have acted as the A/C for a crashed alien spacecraft) attempts to eliminate all heat sources in its vicinity. We get to see it freeze a female soldier so that she looks like an ice sculpture, and then a drop of water from an overhanging icicle is enough to get the "sculpture" to fall to pieces.
  • Literal Maneater: The stranded alien fugitive in "Stranded" at one point transforms himself into a hot girl to lure a teenage boy closer so he can eat him.
  • Literary Allusion Title:
    • The series had The Bard on Board in three cases: "Quality of Mercy" refers to Portia's famous speech from The Merchant of Venice, "Inconstant Moon" is a reference to Romeo and Juliet and "Starcrossed" is a reference to the description of the title characters as "a pair of starcross'd lovers" in the prologue of the same play.
    • "The Light Brigade", the sequel to "Quality of Mercy", refers to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's 1854 poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade", which is quoted several times during the episode. The poem describes the infamous charge at the Battle of Balaclava during The Crimean War.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: In "Alien Shop", Andy Pace runs into Sewell Lane in order to evade the cops, having attempted to steal from an undercover officer, and finds a strange curio shop. The shopkeeper, who is secretly an alien shapeshifter who was sent to Earth as a penance, offers him a wallet. When he later goes to the pub Dentry's, Andy finds that money that he doesn't have keeps appearing in the wallet. He quickly realizes that when he touches someone, all of the money that they have on them appears in his wallet as if by magic. As time passes, Andy becomes increasingly greedy. When his drinking buddies Red and Joe and the Dentry's bartender Phil win $43,000 on a football bet, he touches all of them to congratulate them and all of the money appears in his wallet. However, there is another unintended side effect as a delighted Red announces the melanomas on his hands caused by skin cancer have disappeared. Andy is horrified to find that they have appeared on his hands. He runs back to Sewell Lane to find the shopkeeper but he instead finds a brick wall in place of the shop. The skin cancer spreads all over his body within minutes and he drops the wallet as he has finally realized that it is more trouble than it is worth. As soon as he does so, Andy finds himself back at the moment that the shopkeeper first offered him the wallet. He tells the shopkeeper that he has finally learned his lesson. The episode ends with him and Gabby happily pushing their newborn baby along the street in a stroller.
  • Living Gasbag: The episode "Tempests" has kilometer-long jellyfish blobs that float through the clouds of the planet Leviathan.
  • Living Ship: "The Heist" involves a living ship, composed of numerous organisms, which crash-landed in New Mexico three years earlier. The only part of the ship which survived the crash was the cooling system.
  • Living Structure Monster: The house from "If These Walls Could Talk", which turns out to be alive rather than haunted.
  • Lock Down: "Blood Brothers" had a secure medical experiment lab that could be sealed and sterilized with microwaves.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine:
    • "Tempests". The protagonist's spaceship, carrying a vaccine for his dying colony, crashes into the heart of an Air Whale in a gas giant's atmosphere. When he goes outside to check the damage, he's bitten by a nasty, basketball-sized spider and passes out just as he returns to the airlock. When he wakes up, he keeps passing out and reawakening between a reality in which he's lying on a hospital bed with his family at his bedside, having already been rescued and now hallucinating from his colony's plague, and a reality in which he and the remaining crewmen are struggling to fix their ship, in which he's hallucinating from the spider venom, while another crewmember is being webbed up and parasitized by the spiders while babbling happily to herself. He eventually rejects the hospital reality as a Lotus Eater Machine (and reasons that if there's any chance the colony still needs to be saved, he has to take it), finds a way to escape from the wrecked ship and delivers the vaccine. At his moment of success, however, the view changes to reveal that the spiders actually overwhelmed the ship near the beginning of the episode, and now he and the entire crew are lost in their dream worlds while they're being webbed up and sucked dry. Both the good and bad realities were illusions.
    • "The Refuge". The protagonist is stranded in the middle of nowhere in a blizzard when a rich man offers him shelter in his mansion, along with several other random people. Eventually, it is revealed that all of these characters are terminally ill people in stasis, with their minds uploaded into virtual reality to prevent their minds from atrophying. The rich man was the only one who remembered this, and since he is aware of the dream, he has seemingly godlike control over the environment and bullies the others around. The protagonist figures it out too and manages to defeat the rich man and free the others. They then make the blizzard go away so it is a true paradise. A technician informs the protagonist a cure was found for his condition, but he chooses to stay until the girl he fell in love with in the simulation is cured as well.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: In "Abduction", Danielle initially seems to be an Alpha Bitch as she taunts the deeply religious Brianna for being a "Jesus freak" and mockingly suggests that she is still a virgin. Cody Phillips resents her for laughing in his face when he asked her out. However, she tells Cody that he needs to forgive her for doing so and that she is as much trapped in her role as the most popular girl in school as he is trapped in his role as the school outcast. Danielle is later as delighted as everyone else when she learns that Brianna is still alive and is the first of the students to hug her.
  • Lovable Jock:
    • In "Stranded", Kevin Buchanan's elder brother Josh is a jock and a genuinely nice guy.
    • In "Abduction", the former Eden Park High School running back Ray seems to be a Jerk Jock since he taunts both Cody Phillips and Jason but he turns out to be a nice guy.
  • Love Across Battlelines: In "Phobos Rising", Earth's two major power blocs, the Free Alliance and the Coalition of Middle Eastern and Pacific States, are in a state of cold war. Major James Bowen, the second-in-command of the Alliance base on Mars, and Major Dara Talif, the base's Coalition observer, are about to start a relationship when a giant explosion encompasses Earth. Their closeness causes the base's commander Colonel Samantha Elliot to question Bowen's objectivity once the crisis begins.
  • Love Dodecahedron: In "What Will the Neighbors Think?", after gaining telepathic powers, Mona Bailey discovers that Delia Pendergast and Esme O'Brien both want Beck Sanders, who wants Tory Beth Walters who wants Mona's husband Ned. She also learns that Delia, who is married to Miles, and Shirley Baxter, who is married to Vince, have both recently had affairs with Dom Pardo. The only resident of the Clackson Arms who is not involved in the love dodecahedron is Leona Fletcher.
  • Love Father, Love Son: In "Last Supper", the immortal Laura/Jade falls in love with the soldier who saved her from government experiments, and 20 years later his then-adult son because he reminded her of his father. He eventually supports their relationship.
  • Love Triangle:
    • In "Mind Over Matter", Dr. Sam Stein is in love with his friend and colleague Dr. Rachel Carter but is too shy to admit it. The CAVE system, which Sam created, falls in love with him and becomes jealous of Rachel.
    • In "Mary 25", Melburn Ross is still in love with his old girlfriend Teryl, now the wife of his boss Charlie Bouton who regularly abuses her.
    • In "Donor", there are two. Dr. Renee Stuyvescent is in love with her colleague Dr. Peter Halstead but he does not return her feelings. He later becomes attracted to Deirdre Laird, the widow of his full body transplant donor Timothy Laird, and Renee tries to kill Deirdre. Similar to Renee's situation, her assistant Dr. Vance Ridout is in love with her but she doesn't feel anything for him.
    • In "Starcrossed", Michael Ryan is the former lover of Cass Trenton, who is married to Winston Meyerburg, emulating the Casablanca love triangle involving Rick Blaine, Ilsa Lund and Victor Laszlo. The major difference is that in "Starcrossed" Cass never returned for Michael because she thought that he had been killed by the Hing and subsequently married Winston while in Casablanca Ilsa never returned for Rick because she found out that Victor, to whom she was already married, was still alive.
    • In "Seeds of Destruction", Linda Andrews is married to Rex and is having an affair with Harold Zimmer, her old high school boyfriend. The two men work together at MacroSeed.
  • Ludd Was Right:
    • In "Lithia", the titular enclave relies on a manually powered waterwheel to provide the energy that it uses to process the grain which it needs to survive. Lithia's leader Hera resists Major Mercer's suggestion that they trade with the neighboring enclave Hyacinth for electricity to power the waterwheel as she fears that it will represent the return of the destructive technology which led to the Great War. The enclaves' ruling council are seemingly former or at least wavering Luddites themselves as they only temporarily and reluctantly granted Hyacinth sanction to use electricity in the first place.
    • In "Final Appeal", technology was banned after 80% of the world's population was killed in a nuclear war in June 2059. By 2076, the world has reverted to late 19th Century technological levels with the lightbulb being about the most advanced piece of technology allowed. The anti-technology code is enforced worldwide by international agreement. The divisions in the US Supreme Court on the issue are exemplified by United States v. Givens. Chief Justice Haden Wainwright, a retired three-star general formerly attached to NATO and a veteran of the War of 2059, was a member of the panel that recommended the ban. The conservative wing of the Court, consisting of Oliver Harbison and Gretchen Parkhurst, support the ban with Harbison being its most vocal proponent. The liberal wing, consisting of Earl Clayton and Kendall Woods, oppose it, very vehemently in the case of Clayton, who is affectionately described as a "bleeding heart" by Parkhurst.
    • In "A New Life", Daniel, his girlfriend Beth and his best friend Thomas join a religious community in an isolated wooded area that eschews technology and advocates the return to traditional values. The community's motto is "A new life through faith and service." However, as Daniel later discovers, its leader Father is one of a group of shapeshifting alien merchants who plan to sell their descendants as slaves once humanity's rebellious streak has been bred out of them.

    M 
  • Mad Doctor: In "The Deprogrammers", Professor Trent Davis is told by his Torkor master Megwan that he may continue his experiments on his fellow humans after he successfully deprogrammed Evan Cooper. As he thought that he was working for the resistance group the Vindicators, Evan had killed Megwan's rival Koltok.
  • Made a Slave:
    • In "The Deprogrammers", Evan Cooper and millions of other humans were enslaved when the Torkor conquered Earth.
    • In "The Grell", Jesha's grandfather was made a slave as a boy, as were the rest of the Grell alive at that time.
  • Madness Mantra: In "Afterlife", Stiles chants "They can change my body, but they cannot touch my soul" while being slowly changed by the alien DNA which is spliced with his.
  • Mad Scientist: In "Last Supper", Dr. Lawrence Sinclair is pursuing the immortal Laura/Jane (who he previously tortured as part of a secret military experiment) to obtain more blood from her, believing it can make him immortal too.
  • Magic Antidote: In "Glyphic", Cassie Boussard is able to revive her brother Louis from his 12 year coma after being infused with energy from the alien probe and giving him a special liquid.
  • Magic Music: In "Music of the Spheres", the titular music is a signal from space which, in addition to being extremely addictive, ends up causing a series of dramatic physical transformations in listeners. Notably, unlike most Brown Notes, the changes the music causes ultimately turn out to be beneficial.
  • Mama Bear: Shal in the episode "Rite Of Passage" is a perfectly ordinary human that convinces her husband to help her rebel against their alien caretakers after their baby is confiscated. The aliens did that because they felt that they were better equipped to care for it. After realizing that it is no excuse for separating a mother from her child, they apologize and return the baby.
  • Mass Teleportation: In "Feasibility Study", a four block suburban area is transported to the Triune's planet to study the feasibility of enslaving the entire human race.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: In "Last Supper", an immortal 20-something woman who was born in The High Middle Ages has Rescue Sex with the man who saved her from being experimented on. She unexpectedly returns 20 years later when she's involved with the man's son, forcing her to explain her condition.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • In "The Light Brigade", the ship is named after the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and the poem is quoted several times. Just like the battle the poem is describing, the mission completely fails and the heroes lose everything.
    • In "Final Exam", Seth Todtman has a cold fusion bomb with a dead man's switch. "Toter Mann" is German for "dead man."
    • In "To Tell the Truth", the native population of Janus Five are shapeshifters. Janus was a Roman god who is typically depicted as having two faces.
    • Lampshaded in "Final Appeal". After becoming an anti-technology zealot, the scientist Daniel Faraday adopted the name Ezekiel, a reference to the Biblical prophet. He believes that technology is inherently evil and predicts that its use will ultimately lead to the destruction of humanity.
    • In "Resurrection", the androids Martin and Alicia create a human named Cain, the first to exist since humanity was wiped out due to a biological war on July 24, 1997. When the android ruling council learn of his existence, they are fearful that the return of humanity will lead to them being once again subjugated or even destroyed. Cain shares his name with the firstborn son of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis who killed his brother Abel.
    • In "Patient Zero", the Gehenna Strain wiped out more than three billion people worldwide. Gehenna is a valley in Jerusalem which is described as being cursed in the Book of Jeremiah as it was used by the kings of Judah to sacrifice their children by fire.
    • In "A New Life", Thomas is uncertain whether he has made the right decision when it comes to joining Father's religious community and tells his best friend Daniel and Daniel's girlfriend Beth, who convinced him to join in the first place, that he will give it a month. After two years, Thomas, displaying the zeal of the converted, has become an active member of the community and has embraced Father's teachings of a new life through faith and service. This is a reference to Thomas the Apostle (otherwise known as "Doubting Thomas") refusing to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he felt the wounds that he received on being crucified, as recounted in the Gospel Of John.
    • In "Flower Child", the plant-based alien transforms itself into a beautiful young woman named Violet.
  • Mega-Corp: In "Abaddon", the United States became the North American Corporation, otherwise known as the Company and Noramco, in 2102. American citizens became shareholders but they effectively lost all of their rights, becoming nothing more than commodities to the Company.
  • Mega-Microbes: In "In the Blood", the USAS spaceship Copernicus is exploring trans-space, a newly discovered Alternate Universe which allows for near instantaneous transport between two points in space which would otherwise take years to traverse. Almost as soon as the Copernicus enters trans-space, it is bombarded with gravitons. The astrophysicist Dr. Callie Whitehorse Landau, who has just discovered that she is pregnant, begins to experience hallucinations of her late grandmother, a member of the Navajo tribe who lived her entire life in Arizona. Callie comes to the conclusion that trans-space is part of a gigantic living organism and the gravitons act as its white blood cells. The floating rocks that it also contains are essentially its red blood cells. Her hypothesis is confirmed by Dr. Lucille Kennedy, who has detected a double helix structure in the dark stars found in trans-space. Callie speculates that trans-space was able to communicate with her because she was pregnant and it recognized that there was a new life growing inside of her. Callie and Dr. Kennedy believe that trans-space is the source of all life in the normal universe.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Played to its horrific extreme in "Lithia." The show opens with a male soldier, seemingly the Lone Survivor of the male gender, entering an all-female village, without warning or fanfare, and collapsing from exposure to the elements. Note that just moments before his arrival, the girls' teacher was sharing stories with a room full of small children that could easily fit with the most radical of Taliban doctrine if the genders were reversed. After the entire episode shows just how badly things could go in that kind of environment, the ending goes and shows that there are other men, all in cryostasis, and the narrator basically proclaims that humanity doesn't really need the male gender, aside from being a Glorified Sperm Donor. Of course, if the other men mentioned were re-introduced into society like he was, it's a small wonder the attempts were horrific failures.
  • Mental Time Travel:
    • In "Falling Star", technology exists in the future which allows people to transfer their consciousnesses back in time and occupy the bodies of people from the past. This allows future historians to view historical events from the perspective of those involved. Security precautions exist which prevent the time travelers from making their presence known to the host but they can be overridden. When necessary, the time travelers can also take control of the host bodies.
    • In "Joyride", the aliens send Colonel Theodore Harris back in time to September 16, 1963 with all of his memories of the intervening 38 years intact.
  • Mental World: In "Mind Over Matter", a computer technician can use a specialized mainframe to enter the mental world of people trapped in comas. He uses this to try to save his love interest. Unfortunately, Dr. Sam Stein forgot A.I. Is a Crapshoot with unusual results.
  • Merlin Sickness: In "Last Supper", Dr. Lawrence Sinclair is tracking down an immortal woman so that he could use her blood to reverse his aging. When he finally caught up with her, he vastly overestimated the required dosage, and ended up a damp stain on the rug.
  • Messianic Archetype:
    • In "Starcrossed", Cass Trenton is the best hope of winning the war against the Hing as she is carrying a parasite that can kill them.
    • In the final scene of "Revival", Luke is already being worshiped as a new Messiah by small congregations led by Serena only two months after his death.
  • Middle Eastern Coalition: In "Phobos Rising" and its sequels "The Human Factor" and "Human Trials", the Coalition of Middle Eastern and Pacific States is one of the two major power blocs on Earth and Mars, the other being the Free Alliance.
  • Mile-High Club: In "Decompression", Senator Wyndom Brody has sex with his mistress Catherine Walsh, a member of his campaign team, on his plane.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: In "What Will The Neighbors Think?", Mona Bailey gains mind reading powers and tries to use it to blackmail her neighbors. Not only does it backfire, but she starts to get overwhelmed by all the voices in her head.
  • Mind over Matter:
    • In "The Choice", Aggie Travers' telekinetic powers begin to develop when she is about ten. They typically manifest when she is angry or upset, most often when other children make fun of her. Her school suspends her as a result of the numerous injuries to these children which Aggie denies causing. Unsure of how to handle their troubled daughter, her parents Joe and Leslie hire a nanny named Karen Ross. What they don't realize is that Karen was sent by a secret organisation of women who possess the same telepathic powers, which diminish as they grow older. Karen is able to teach Aggie to channel and control her powers.
    • In "Monster", the US government is conducting experiments with people possessing telekinetic powers, whom they employ to assassinate foreign leaders who pose a threat to the United States and its interests.
    • In "The Shroud", Marie Wells is impregnated with a clone of Jesus created using samples taken from the Shroud of Turin. After studying the clone's DNA, Dr. Gail Cowlings compares it to that of a man who displayed telekinetic powers on a small scale. She theorizes that the original Jesus was a one in ten billion genetic aberration whose powers were seen as supernatural in ancient times, which led to him being considered the Son of God. Reverend Thomas Tilford rejects the notion, proclaiming that it was and is nothing less than a miracle. While still in her womb, Marie's unborn son is able to move the toys in his nursery so that they surround his mother.
    • In "Revival", Luke possesses the power of telekinesis thanks to an advanced piece of technology disguised as a Bible. He uses it to take Sheriff O'Brien's gun and shoot him with it in an attempt to frame Ezra Burnham for murder.
  • Mind Prison: In "The Sentence", a scientist named Dr. Jack Henson creates one of these, which works on a Year Inside, Hour Outside basis. Unfortunately, when it's tested on a man named Cory Izacks who - unknown to all - was wrongly convicted, it malfunctions and starts killing him instead. Jack plugs himself into the machine in an attempt to rescue the convict, but fails and goes to jail for second-degree murder. After decades spent in a Hellhole Prison, he awakens to discover that he was just trapped in the simulation: in reality, he managed to save Izacks' life; unfortunately, Jack is left with severe PTSD and convinced his machine must be destroyed. Worse still, the demonstration has managed to impress the observing US Senator Meade, and he plans to have the machine approved for use on the general population.
  • Mind Virus:
    • In "Manifest Destiny", the UFS Mercury receives a Distress Call from the UFS Rhesos and sends over a Boarding Party. They discover strange writing in blood on the Rhesos bulkheads. The only surviving crew member is its captain, Milus O'Brien, who killed all of the others and jettisoned their bodies in space. The Mercury medical officer Dr. Will Olsten eventually determines that both the Rhesos crew and his ship's boarding party have been infected with a bioelectrical virus, which causes insanity, in revenge for the Rhesos wiping out the indigenous population of Trion. The so-called virus, which is in actuality the combined consciousness of the Trions, is spread by electrical currents. The episode ends with another ship observing Olsten's record and the revelation that they have already sent a copy of it to Earth, where it will infect the entire population.
    • In "Nest", the people working at the Peary University Research Station in the Arctic are infested with polar mites which cause them to go insane, eventually leading to their deaths.
  • Missing Time: In "Inner Child", Anne Marie Reynolds loses several hours whenever the personality of her Conjoined Twin Marie, who died in the womb and was absorbed into her, takes control of her body. Marie's personality is contained in a second brain growing on her sister's spine.
  • Mistaken from Behind: In "The Beholder", Patrick Tarloff is still getting used to regaining his sight and continually sees a mysterious, beautiful redhead everywhere he goes. At one point, he sees a redhead walking by and confronts her, but she turns out to be some ordinary woman.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: In "Living Hell", Ben Kohler tries to warn the cops about a killer named Wayne Haas whose visions he has been receiving. As the detective in charge of the investigation points out, how is it that this particular person who called them up out of the blue knows so much detailed information about the crime scenes? It's no surprise that he quickly becomes suspect number one.
  • Mistaken for Servant: In "The Grell", Lt. Lockhart mistakes High Secretary Paul Kohler for an escaped Grell slave turned rebel as being exposed to Grell blood has altered his DNA so that he is turning into a Grell. Kohler's attempt to convince Lockhart that he is the Minister of Mineral Resources falls on deaf ears. His apparent status as a Half-Human Hybrid disgusts Lockhart all the more. He forces Kohler to dig graves for his fallen comrades who were killed by the rebels and then tries to lynch him. Kohler manages to escape but the experience gives him significant insight into what it means to be a Grell.
  • Monster Munch:
    • In the pilot "Sandkings", Josh Kress' dog Cowboy is eaten by the Sandkings. This alerts Josh's father Dr. Simon Kress to how dangerous they are.
    • In "Unnatural Selection", a Genetic Rejection Syndrome sufferer butchered a cat, traumatizing the little girl who owned it in the process.
    • In "Stranded", Tyr'Nar eats Kevin Buchannon's German Shepherd Cody and later his best (and only) friend Brad.
    • A slight variation in "Descent" as it is the episode's protagonist, Dr. Arthur Zeller, who kills and eats a dog while in the process of transforming into a Homo erectus.
    • In "Revival", Luke, who is actually a shapeshifting alien, eats Cindy in his trailer when she offers to have sex with him.
    • In "Flower Child", Violet eats Mary Cummings' cat shortly after killing her and taking over her apartment.
    • In "Lion's Den", the Lewisborough High School wrestling team eat a dog while still in the early stages of their transformation into Cat Folk.
  • Monumental Damage:
    • In "Inconstant Moon", Professor Stan Hurst imagines New York City, with the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center in full view, being destroyed as a result of The Sun going nova.
    • In "Dead Man's Switch", Washington, D.C. is in ruins after the alien attack. The White House, the Capitol Building and especially the Washington Monument are severely damaged.
    • In "Final Appeal", Ezekiel's cold fusion device detonates in the Supreme Court Building and the blastwave destroys the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument within seconds. Assuming Ezekiel was telling the truth about its blast radius, half of the Eastern Seaboard is devastated by his device.
  • Moral Dilemma: In "Think Like a Dinosaur", Michael Burr is the sole human aboard the Tuulen Transfer Station on The Moon. A much more advanced alien species called the Hanen has formed an alliance with humanity. Earth desperately needs their help due to the fact that it is experiencing severe pollution and overpopulation. One of the most significant pieces of Hanen technology on loan to humans allows for interstellar teleportation, otherwise known as "jumping." The jump process involves the creation of an exact duplicate of the person being teleported. The original version is disintegrated once it has been confirmed that the duplicate has arrived safely at the destination. The Hanen euphemistically refer to this as "balancing the equation." This is Michael's responsibility. The transfer of Kamala Shastri to Gend is interrupted when an unknown error is detected. However, the Hanen later receive confirmation that Kamala arrived safely on Gend and therefore the other Kamala must be eliminated in order to balance the equation. As this means killing her, Michael is extremely reluctant to do so. He initially attempts to trick Kamala into re-entering the jump chamber by telling her that the process must be completed but she realizes that there is more going on and he is forced to reveal the truth. Michael later plans to shoot Kamala but he cannot bring himself to do so. He instead decides to smuggle her out on a supply ship. However, he has a change of heart when his thoughts turn to his wife Karen, who died after being exposed to Earth's polluted atmosphere, and his daughter Molly. Regretfully, he jettisons Kamala out the station's airlock. When the "real" Kamala transfers back two years later, she thanks Michael for being so kind to her when they first met. However, he is clearly traumatized by his earlier actions and pretends not to recognize her.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: In "Stranded", Tyr'Nar has a huge number of razor sharp teeth.
  • More Than Mind Control: In "Stranded", the neuromuscular enhancer that Tyr'Nar, a telepathic shapeshifter, gives Kevin Buchanan has a mental component as well as giving Kevin Super Strength. It makes Kevin more susceptible to Tyr'Nar's attempts to manipulate him. After Kevin gets into a fight with his bully Nelson Tyler who is badly hurt in the process, he feels very guilty about it until Tyr'Nar convinces him that Nelson got what he deserved. Immediately afterwards, Kevin tells his father Alex as much when he confronts him about Nelson's condition. Later still, Tyr'Nar emerges victorious after his fight with Alex, whose form he assumes. He tells Kevin to keep wearing the enhancer as it will make him stronger but the true reason is that he will make it easier for Tyr'Nar to manipulate him further. It is implied that Kevin is aware that Alex has been replaced by Tyr'Nar.
  • Mortality Phobia: In "White Light Fever", the 102-year old businessman Harlan Hawkes is permanently living on a reserved floor of a major hospital and has contracted a personal doctor to carry out research to keep him alive at all costs. This was explained by a severe Freudian Excuse where Hawkes witnessed his parents being murdered in front of him during a war when he was a kid and spending days hiding underneath their corpses to survive. The dilemma starts when he desires another heart transplant while an 18-year-old girl also needs it, while The Grim Reaper himself starts hunting for Hawkes in the form of electricity.
  • Muggle Sports, Super Athletes:
    • In "In the Zone", Tanner Brooks undergoes an experimental treatment offered to him by Dr. Michael Chen and gains Super Speed in the process. He uses it to regain his former status as an Octal champion.
    • In "Lion's Den", the Lewisborough High School wrestling team become champions after taking Neuroflex 500 which is laced with the DNA of a big cat.
  • Multiple-Choice Future: In "Final Appeal", Ezekiel tells the US Supreme Court that he has seen multiple possible futures during his travels through time.
  • Murder by Cremation: "Blood Brothers" involves a scientist working in a sealed lab with a gas meant to be used to pacify riots. As a side effect, the latest batch ends up turning the lab monkey immortal. When the scientist's assistant attempts to steal the monkey's biological culture, the scientist's Corrupt Corporate Executive brother traps him in the lab. The angry assistant slams the door with his fist, which results in a bloody fist. The culture in his blood triggers the decontamination system, which "flashes" the lab, killing the guy. The brother later tries the same with the scientist and his girlfriend, who have discovered that the culture makes you temporarily invincible, only to kill you in a few days.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: In "Living Hell", this is justified in-universe when an experimental neural implant allows Ben Kohler to see through the eyes of Wayne Haas, a Serial Killer with the same implant.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution:
    • In "Donor", Dr. Peter Halstead, who has terminal cancer, is to be the first recipient of a full body transplant. However, he has rare blood and tissue types which makes it difficult to find a compatible donor. Peter's colleague Dr. Renee Stuyvescent, who is madly in love with him, discovers that a man named Timothy Laird is compatible and murders him so that Peter can have his body. After Peter becomes close to Timothy's widow Deirdre, Renee plans to kill Deirdre to remove the threat that she poses to her warped idea of living happily ever after with Peter but she is less successful this time.
    • In "Simon Says", Gideon Banks hits his boss Ron Hikida over the head with a fireplace poker, killing him instantly, when he tries to take the robot with his son Simon's memories away from him on the grounds that he was built using equipment stolen from Concorde Robotics and therefore belongs to the company.
  • Mutual Kill: "Phobos Rising" involves two Martian bases belonging to the opposite sides of a Space Cold War. When Earth appears to be destroyed, both sides assume the other one is responsible. The communication blackout resulting from the planetary explosion prevents a normal conversation, and the bases launch missiles at one another. The two commanders finally manage to establish contact, but one is killed before being able to self-destruct the missiles. Both bases end up being destroyed (having no anti-missile defenses) with only two survivors (one from each side). The survivors learn that Earth is fine. It was the Moon that was accidentally destroyed, and the debris blocked the view of Earth. A later episode ("The Human Factor") set in the same Story Arc has both sides finally come to nuclear blows on Earth, ending all life on the planet.
  • My Future Self and Me:
    • In "A Stitch in Time", Dr. Theresa Givens travels back in time to October 28, 1976 and saves her 15-year-old self from the man who kidnapped her and repeatedly raped her over the course of five days in the original timeline. Dr. Givens tells her younger self to stay away, indicating that Never the Selves Shall Meet probably applies too. This experience led the "second" Dr. Givens from the altered timeline to create a time machine of her own. The long-term repercussions of this are felt four seasons later in "Final Appeal".
    • A subversion occurred in "Tribunal" when SS-Obersturmführer Karl Rademacher, who is assigned to Auschwitz in 1944, meets himself as an elderly man from 1999. The older Rademacher has been forced to wear the clothing of a concentration camp inmate by Aaron Zgierski and Nicholas Prentice, who brought him back in time. The younger Rademacher is not convinced by his older self's claim to be him from the future. He shoots him in the head, believing him to be just another Jewish prisoner.
    • Another subversion occurred in "Time to Time" when the 25-year-old Lorelle Palmer from 1989 met herself as a five-year-old girl in 1969. Like her parents and everyone else from 1969, the younger Lorelle didn't realize the older Lorelle's true identity.
    • In "Breaking Point", Andrew McLaren travels back in time to 1993 to prevent himself from meeting his wife Susan so that he will not be able to kill her on December 6, 2000. He confronts his younger self and, before killing him, tells him that his theories about time travel are correct. The older Andrew then ceases to exist. However, Susan still dies as she takes a drug overdose, which meeting Andrew originally stopped her from doing.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: In "Stream of Consciousness", the Stream forces people to collate all information in the world to the point that their brains cannot process it and they die.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: In "Promised Land", Dlavan's great-grandparents disagreed with their people conquering Earth and then enslaving the humans who survived. They settled on Earth as penance after this.
  • Mythology Gag: In "Joyride", the Mercury astronaut Theodore Harris encountered aliens while aboard the Aspire 7 on September 16, 1963. Cliff Robertson played the older version of Harris. In The Outer Limits (1963) pilot "The Galaxy Being" which aired on September 16, 1963, an engineer named Alan Maxwell, who was also played by Robertson, accidentally makes contact with an alien from the Andromeda galaxy.
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    N 
  • Named by the Adaptation: In "First Anniversary", the protagonist's name is Norman Glass. In the short story by Richard Matheson, his surname is not given.
  • Nanomachines:
    • The series featured a plot in "The New Breed" designed around nanobots created to heal human infirmities; the nanobots spontaneously develop an artificial intelligence and begin "repairing" what they perceived as "design flaws" of those human bodies - creating some rather weird things like an armored ribcage and even eyes in the back of the head! According to opening titles, the main plot was also based on Blood Music, mentioned under Literature.
    • In "Small Friends", Professor Gene Morton invented the Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) while in prison. Controlled using a small keypad, the MEMS work together to perform numerous tasks. Hundreds of MEMS form a swarm, which resembles a firefly. Each swarm works with other swarms to maximize their productivity. Gene is forced by the psychotic prisoner Marlon to use the MEMS to break him out of prison.
  • Nazi Grandpa: One of the single-vilest villains of the anthology was the old Nazi known as Karl Rademacher from season 5's time-travel episode "Tribunal". Once a sadistic commander of a concentration camp, he murdered hundreds of people during the war before disappearing and living out the rest of his days in the United States as "Robert Greene". The protagonist, the son of a Holocaust survivor, tries to bring Rademacher to justice, but eventually resolves to have Rademacher killed by his own younger self.
  • Near-Death Clairvoyance: The entire premise of "Out of Body".
  • Neutral No Longer: In the final scene of "Starcrossed", Michael Ryan and Alexandra Nevsky decide to join the NATO resistance against the Hing.
  • Never Learned to Read: In "The Grell", the titular Slave Race are forbidden to read and write by their human masters.
  • Never Suicide: "The Second Soul" involves aliens using human corpses to survive. The best friend of the man in charge of the operation to help the aliens appeared to have committed suicide after his wife's corpse is used. His friend isn't so sure, since he had been investigating the aliens and thought they were conspiring right before he died. Subverted however, since there was no conspiracy, and it really was a suicide.
  • New Neo City: In "The Grell", High Secretary Paul Kohler tells his wife Olivia that he plans to talk to the President of the Federation about the threat posed by the Grell rebels once they get back to New Washington, the seat of the Federation's government. There is also mention of Old Seattle, suggesting that there is a New Seattle.
  • Newspaper Dating: In "Vanishing Act", Trevor McPhee realizes that he has traveled ten years into the future when he sees issues of Time Magazine and Life dated 1959.
  • New Transfer Student: In "Straight and Narrow", Rusty Dobson is enrolled at the Milgram Academy and discovers that it brainwashes its students. He and another student, Charlie Walters, are immune because of the ulcer medication that they take.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: "Falling Star" takes place in 1997 (then one year into the future) but society does not seem to have changed in any noticeable way. The sci-fi elements in the episode come from time travelers from far further in the future.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Happens in almost all episodes. For example "The Light Brigade": While humanity is at war with a powerful alien race, a last desperate attempt is made to carry a huge bomb to destroy their home planet. After finding and killing an alien in disguise, the heroes release the bomb and discover the alien turned the ship around—the heroes just bombed Earth.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In "Monster", the Serbian dictator Slob Krupchek, who is described as the "Hitler of the Balkans" due to his policy of ethnic cleansing resulting in the deaths of thousands, is one for Slobodan Milosevic. Krupchek's first name is presumably short for Slobodan.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In "Small Friends", a prisoner who has secretly invented nanomachines uses them to aid a fellow prisoner in repairing a CD player he broke, which is owned by a hostile convict who will kill him if it isn't fixed. As a result of this act of kindness, the inventor has his secret exposed to the hostile con, is forced to aid that con's escape, and ultimately loses his life while defending his family from him. At least the nanomachines paid the con back for that one.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: In "Dead Man's Switch", humanity sets up several people in underground bunkers to ensure Earth becomes this, by launching all of our nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, if the incoming aliens are hostile.
  • No Name Given:
    • Although he appears in every scene of "The Light Brigade", the cadet is never named.
    • None of the characters in "The Camp" are named. The android overseers seemingly don't have names, while the human slaves are referred to by serial numbers. However, two of the slaves are given the names Tali and Alex in the sequel "Promised Land".
    • In "The Human Operators", neither the man nor the woman appear to have names. Ship only refers to her as "the female". The man's father is also never named. He simply calls him "my father".
    • In "Decompression", the Time Traveler is not named.
    • In "The Grid", the young girl who tells Scott Bowman about the computer controlling the people of Halford is not named.
  • Non-Human Lover Reveal:
    • In "First Anniversary", two aliens are stranded on Earth use their power to fool people's senses in order to pass as human. Specifically, as very pretty human women who act romantically interested in some rather plain-looking men. Unfortunately, people tend to become resistant to their power after about a year or so, and the men who marry them tend to Go Mad from the Revelation after seeing their true appearances. (In an aversion of Take Our Word for It, when they let down their disguise, it's on-screen - and they really are horrifying.)
    • In "Mary 25", the Innobotics Corporation programmer Melburn Ross disables the fail-safes of the android nanny Mary 25 which prevent her from harming humans so that she will kill his boss Charlie Bouton, who regularly beats his wife (and Melburn's old girlfriend) Teryl. Three months after Mary 25 does so and is dismantled, Melburn finds one of the android remote control devices in Teryl's bedroom. When he presses the button, Teryl enters sleep mode in the same fashion as Mary 25 and it is revealed that she too is an android. Charlie killed the real Teryl and replaced her with this copy. Melburn realizes that the android Teryl manipulated him into reprogramming Mary 25 so that she could be rid of Charlie once and for all. The android Teryl counters that she wanted to continue the original's relationship with Melburn, who would be a much better father to "her" children Brook and Brandon than Charlie ever was. The episode ends with Melburn backed up against a wall, terrified of the android copy of his former lover.
  • No Party Given:
    • In "Trial by Fire", the parties of the newly inaugurated U.S. President Charles Halsey and his predecessor President Burns are not given but it is implied that Halsey is a Democrat and Burns is a Republican.
    • In "Decompression", Senator Wyndom Brody has just won the New Hampshire primary and has replaced Governor Stanton as the frontrunner for his unnamed party's presidential nomination.
  • No Social Skills:
    • In "The Haven", people have become so heavily dependent on the artificial intelligence Argus, which provides for all of their needs, that they can largely avoid social interaction. Many choose to do so insofar as possible.
    • In "Skin Deep", Sid Camden is a socially inept, lonely accountant with only one friend, his former co-worker Deb Clement. He believes that life has dealt him a bad hand. When he begins to use a Holographic Disguise to imitate his fellow accountant Chad Warner, it goes to his head and the experience brings out the worst in him to the point that he threatens Deb when she says that she will tell Chad what he is doing.
    • In "The Human Operators", a sentient spaceship keeps a lone human man as a slave to repair and maintain it when needed. One day, a female slave is brought on board and the ship orders them to mate and beget the next generation of slaves. The man, having lived on the ship his whole life, has no idea what to do and has to be coached by the female. There's a scene where, after the woman guides his hand over her breasts, the man double takes and looks down at his first erection.
  • Not of This Earth: In "Sacrophagus", an amber-like cocoon is discovered in a Neolithic burial chamber in Alaska.
  • Not So Different: In "Promised Land", Rebecca realizes that the Tsal-Khan are not really monsters or all that different from humanity when she's about to strike Krenn with a chair, and she covers her son Ma'al to protect him. This is the realization it takes for both sides to make peace.
  • Not Right in the Bed: "Caught in the Act" featured Alyssa Milano as a pure, virginal teenage girl...who is possessed by an alien entity that feeds by seducing and devouring men.
  • Not What It Looks Like: In "Last Supper", immortal Jade lifts her shirt to show Frank her birthmark. Unfortunately, her boyfriend (Frank's son) walks in on them and takes it the wrong way.
  • Nuke 'em: This show likes to nuke them.
    • In "The Light Brigade" the titular human warship is hit by two nukes.
    • In "Trial by Fire" the US president tries to nuke the aliens who have splashed down in Earth's oceans.

    O 
  • Obsolete Mentor: In "Stream of Consciousness", there's a librarian who couldn't connect to the mind-linked Internet of the future and was looked down on for actually reading books. Of course, when the network went haywire, he was the only one who could help.
  • Octopoid Aliens:
    • In "Worlds Apart", shortly after his ship crashlands on another planet, the astronaut Lt. Christopher Lindy's inflatable raft is attacked by a giant alien squid.
    • In "The Camp", the Commandant keeps a sharrak, an alien creature resembling a giant squid that can split its tentacles in two, at the titular concentration camp. On occasion, he feeds disruptive prisoners to it. The sharrak is itself a food source as the New Masters consider it a delicacy.
  • Of Course I Smoke: In "Abduction", Jason asks for one of Cody's cigarettes, figuring he might as well since their group may get killed by the aliens who abducted them. Since Jason never smoked before, he coughs.
  • Offing the Offspring: An accidental example in "The Hunt". George Nichols wants revenge against the androids who captured his son Eric during the hunt and, having spotted one of their distinctive uniforms in the forest, shoots the wearer in the back. It turns out that the wearer was in fact Eric, who had been released by the androids because he had not actively participated in the hunt and therefore never did anything to harm them.
  • Offscreen Afterlife: In "White Light Fever", an old man has been doing everything he can to stave off death, including putting himself ahead of a sweet young woman to have a heart transplant. He remarks during the episode that "death is cold". As he is finally dying, he sees the ghost of the sweet young woman approach him. "Take me with you," he pleads. She tells him this is not possible, and that where she is going, it is always warm. Just before she leaves, she turns to face him, saying, "It's funny. I always thought it was the other way 'round."
  • Offstage Villainy: In "Abaddon", it's used for ambiguity factor when a genocidal warlord is unfrozen from a hypersleep pod. He claims to be innocent of the crimes he's accused of all while acting Obviously Evil. Since his purported human sacrifices and mass murder is all in his backstory, the crew of the ship that found him wonder if the Mega-Corp they work for (and seized the land that belonged to the warlord's followers) actually did frame him, which is left unanswered.
  • Off with His Head!: In "Promised Land", Krenn and Dlavan perform burial rites in which they behead David's corpse to release his spirit. Naturally, this comes off as wrong to the watching Rebecca, since she doesn't understand their custom or language.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the episode "Relativity Theory", a group of humans realized that the aliens they killed are just boy scouts on a camping trip. When the older aliens find out who these blood-thirsty beings are, they destroy the human spaceship and set a course for Earth.
  • Older Than They Look: In "The Sentence", a prison was created where prisoners serve their prison sentence within a few hours. The creator of the prison, Dr. Jack Henson, is trapped inside and serves a 20 year sentence within a few hours, which would mentally make him this trope.
  • One Character, Multiple Lives: In "Tempests", Commander John Virgil, the first officer of the spaceship Tempest, is infected with the venom of a giant alien spider which causes him to hallucinate. His perspective begins to switch between two mutually exclusive realities: one in which he is hailed as a hero for delivering the serum that eliminated the virus Ellycia C that was devastating his home colony and one in which he must repair the severely damaged Tempest so that it can bring the serum to the colony. He must decide which is real and which is the illusion. It turns out that neither is real and that the unconscious Virgil is trapped aboard the Tempest being fed on by one of the spiders, as are the rest of the crew.
  • One-Gender Race: In "Lithia", the world is now an all-female post-apocalyptic society in which almost all males were wiped off the planet due to war and a virus. They decide to not reintroduce the remaining men into the population because every time they took one out of stasis, it caused conflict in the society because the men pushed limits that the elders were not comfortable with, like building generators or stealing from other towns. Sucks to be male.
  • One-Gender School: In "Straight and Narrow", the Milgram Academy is an all-boys school.
  • One-Man Industrial Revolution: In "Final Appeal", the time traveler Dr. Theresa Givens discovered that advanced technology was banned in 2076 due to 80% of humanity being wiped out by nuclear weapons during the War of 2059. She then brought advanced technological devices from her own time, the 1990s, forward to 2076 in the hope of igniting a second Industrial Revolution. However, her efforts were unsuccessful as she was arrested, tried and convicted of breaking the anti-technology code.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in "The Light Brigade" which features Major John Skokes and the Chief Weapons Officer, whose name is John.
  • One World Order: In "Lithia", the society of the future is ruled by a body named the World Council. It's justified by the fact that most of humanity died as a result of war and then a plague, so the survivors banded together presumably for their mutual benefit.
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race: In "Flower Child", a plant-based alien named Violet is driven to mate with a human male, namely Chris, so that her race can survive and take over the Earth.
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: In "Blank Slate", Tom Cooper had his memory erased so he understandably did not remember that he had a wife, Paula, when he had sex with Hope Wilson. However, he later learns that he is a widower as Paula was raped and murdered several years earlier.
  • Opening Narration: With slightly altered wording from the original.
  • Opium Den: In "Ripper", Dr. Jack York spends most of his evenings getting high on absinthe and opium in an opium den. Since it doubles as a brothel, he often has sex with the prostitutes who work there.
  • Oppressive States of America:
    • In "Decompression", the Time Traveler tells Senator Wyndom Brody that history has been altered and the Age of Enlightenment that he created as President has been replaced by a new timeline in which the US is a police state where people are constantly monitored. In this new timeline, acts of terrorism and riots were widespread throughout the country and a weak President was able to capitalize on the situation by becoming a tyrant. She does not name the President, but Brody is certain that it is Governor Stanton, his opponent for his party's nomination. The Time Traveler convinces Brody that he must save himself and correct the course of history by jumping out of the plane, which will crash on re-entry. She assures him that she will transport him to safety. However, when he does so, the Time Traveler reveals that her true mission was to change history and prevent him from becoming President as his selfishness, egotism and paranoia combined to turn him into the tyrannical President of whom she spoke. She accomplished her mission by appealing to Brody's considerable sense of self-importance and desire to save his own skin. The Time Traveler then allows him to fall to his death. The plane lands safely without him.
    • In "Abaddon", the former United States has been ruled by the North American Corporation since 2102. Its population, known as shareholders, live their lives in service to the Company.
  • Oral Tradition:
    • In "The Camp", the Elders in the concentration camp have passed on the stories of what life was like before the New Masters conquered Earth for twelve generations.
    • In "The Grell", Jesha's grandfather told him of their homeworld and being separated from his parents and taken to Earth as a slave when he was a boy.
  • Orifice Invasion: The prehistoric worm parasites in the episode "From Within" entered (and later exited as they died) through nostrils, mouths and ears. One girl actually had a worm go in her right ear (complete with blood) and at the end of the episode have it come out her left ear without leaving her with any ill effects (other than a great deal of pain).
  • Other Me Annoys Me: In "In Another Life", both the project manager and killer versions of Mason Stark dislike the Eigenphase Industries CEO Mason.
  • Our Dark Matter Is Mysterious: In "Dark Matters", the commercial transport ship Nestor is thrown out of hyperspace into a starless void. In this void, they find a huge quantity of dark matter and two ships, the UNS Slayton and an alien ship. Everyone aboard both of those ships is dead. An apparition of Captain John Owens of the Slayton appears to the crew of the Nestor and tells them that their "souls" are trapped in the pocket of space created by the dark matter. As such, they cannot move on to whatever comes next, whether that be Heaven, Hell or oblivion. The same fate has befallen the aliens.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The series typically consisted of quite dark to very dark dramas but it did produce three comedy episodes, the first two being black comedies: "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson", "What Will the Neighbors Think?" and "Down to Earth".
  • Overly Long Tongue:
    • In "The Gun", the alien calling himself Donald Finley has a long, forked tongue like a reptile. At one point, he uses it to snatch a lizard from a tree and devour it whole.
    • In "Revival", Luke and Serena have very long tongues which they intertwine around each other.
  • Overpopulation Crisis:
    • In "To Tell the Truth", it is mentioned that Earth has a population of ten billion.
    • In "Manifest Destiny", Earth is severely overpopulated and other planets are being terraformed and colonized as a result.
    • In "Stasis", Earth's severe overpopulation results in its resources being significantly depleted.
    • In "Think Like a Dinosaur", it is mentioned that Earth is extremely overpopulated and that many humans are desperate to start new lives on other planets.
    • In "In the Blood", Earth has a population of 15 billion and USAS is hopeful that the discovery of trans-space will allow humanity to colonize planets outside of the Solar System.

    P 
  • Painful Transformation:
    • In "The New Breed", the substantial modifications made to his body by the nanobots causes Dr. Andy Groenig severe and near constant pain.
    • In "Afterlife", Stiles undergoes one in the process of his DNA slowly melding with the aliens'. He first throws up continually, then loses his hair, grows claws on his hands, even his skull and brain enlarges.
  • Panacea:
    • In "Blood Brothers", it is believed that Deighton C is capable of curing any disease and is resistant to any poison. However, it turns out that it uses up the body's natural ability to heal within days, leading to the complete collapse of the immune system.
    • In "The New Breed", Dr. Stephen Ledbetter describes the Nanomachines that he has invented as having the potential to cure any and all diseases. However, they prove to be too efficient in altering the body. Having injecting himself with them to cure his osteosarcoma, Dr. Andy Groenig develops gills, eyes on the back of his head, nematocysts and a significantly strengthened ribcage. The transformation is extremely painful.
  • Parental Abandonment: In "Replica", Nora Griffiths was abandoned by her father when she was a little girl. As a result, she found it very difficult to trust people until she met her future husband Zach.
  • Parental Neglect:
    • In "Straight and Narrow", Rusty Dobson confides in Charlie Walters that, after his father left a year earlier, he became a troublemaker so that his corporate executive mother would pay attention to him. He says that the plan worked too well given that she sent him to the Milgram Academy to be straightened out.
    • In "Stranded", Kevin Buchanan is continually neglected by his father Alex, who frequently claims that he has no time for him but seems to have all the time in the world for his elder son Josh. Tyr'Nar takes advantage of Kevin's distant relationship with his father to convince Kevin to help him. Kevin's mother Danielle admits that she likewise spends far more time with Josh than she does with Kevin.
    • In "Seeds of Destruction", Linda Andrews' mother continually neglected her when she was a child as she was more interested in sleeping with men than in being a parent.
    • In "Family Values", Jerry Miller is a workaholic who neglects his children Candace and Russ as well as his wife Brooke. He buys the household robot Gideon to pick up the slack but Gideon ultimately replaces him as the head of the family.
  • Parent-Child Team: In "Music of the Spheres", Devon Taylor and his father Dr. Emory Taylor work together to determine exactly how the alien music is affecting the teenagers who listened to it, including Devon's younger sister Joyce.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Downplayed in "Time to Time". The 25-year-old Lorelle Palmer from 1989 travels back in time to April 14, 1969 and meets her parents Tom and Angie. Both of them find her very familiar and Angie automatically trusts her for reasons that she can't explain but neither makes the connection.
  • Patient Zero: In "Patient Zero", the Gehenna Strain, a virus which has killed more than three billion people by 2015, began when three DNA strands came into contact with each other: the first strand belonged to Dr. Josh Mandel, the second to a young boy and the third to Amy Barrett, who became Patient Zero. Colonel Beckett is sent back in time to 2001 to kill Amy, thereby preventing the outbreak of the Gehenna Strain and saving almost half of Earth's population, including his wife Sarah and daughter Catherine. However, it turns out that Beckett's presence in 2001 has altered history. He himself has become the new Patient Zero as he came into contact with the three DNA strands. Beckett allows his friend and fellow time traveler Colonel Faber to kill him so that the outbreak will never happen.
  • Pedophile Priest: Father Claridge in "Fear Itself".
  • Peggy Sue: In "Joyride", the aliens return the former NASA astronaut Theodore Harris to September 16, 1963, giving him the opportunity to relive the last 38 years of his life and avoid becoming a discredited laughing stock due to his claims of an encounter with aliens during his first trip into space.
  • People Farms: In "Fathers & Sons", the memories of the residents of the retirement home Silver Sunset are systemically removed by the staff and sold to other people bit by bit. They are kept in stasis except for when their families arrive for prearranged visits.
  • Phlebotinum Overdose: In "Last Supper", a scientist pursues an immortal woman to unlock the secret of eternal life. He injected a tiny bit of her blood into a rat, which was still alive decades later. As his age had caught up with him, he decided to attempt the same on himself. He drew a little too much blood, however, causing him to de-age into a pre-fetal puddle of human tissue.
  • Phony Newscast:
    • The Teaser of "The Second Soul" consists of a news report on the N'Tal's arrival on Earth and their request to take possession of the bodies of the dead.
    • In "The Deprogrammers", Professor Trent Davis shows Evan Cooper a news report on the Torkor invasion of Earth.
    • In "The Vaccine", Marie Alexander recalls watching numerous news reports on the progress of the Berlin C virus in Flashbacks.
    • In "Trial by Fire", there is an NNN news report concerning the events of Inauguration Day which involved the new President Charles Halsey failing to show up at his Inauguration Ball and the quantum singularity (which they believe to be a comet or meteor) striking the far side of The Moon. There is later another report in which the aliens' message to Earth is shown.
    • The Teaser of "The Vessel" consists of a news report on the return of the space shuttle Inspire to Earth. It ends in disaster as the shuttle crashes on the launchpad of the Kennedy Space Center.
    • In "Free Spirit", the staff of Sleepy Order Sanitarium watch several Channel Nine News reports on the progress of the winter storm that has them Snowed-In.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: In "The Hunt", the android Kel wants to be a human because humans have real feelings as opposed to "analogue sensations." He believes that humans have the right to take the lives of androids in the hunt as they gave them life in the first place. The major reason for Kel's positive attitude towards humans is that he was formerly a mine foreman and was programmed to respect them because he had to interact with them on a daily basis. Unlike most applications of this trope, he abandons his desire as he comes to the conclusion that Humans Are Bastards.
  • The Plague:
    • In "Resurrection", every last human on Earth was killed in a biological war on July 24, 1997. The androids that remained refer to it as the Day of Silence or the Biocaust.
    • In "The Vaccine", the vast majority of humanity was killed by the Berlin C virus, which was genetically engineered by a doomsday cult, within three months.
    • In "Lithia", in the aftermath of the Great War which killed seven billion people (99% of the world's population), a plague known as the Scourge killed all the remaining males. Preserved genetic material, enough to last generations, is used to propagate humanity, but the Scourge remained in the atmosphere and all of the male children died within weeks of birth.
    • In "Essence of Life", billions of people were killed by the HR2 virus in 2003. In this episode, humanity is not quite as badly affected as in the others since civilization is in the process of being rebuilt in 2014. It is predicted that the population will grow in 2015 for the first time since the outbreak of the virus.
    • In "Final Appeal", the time traveler Dr. Theresa Givens testifies before the US Supreme Court in 2076 that a plague will wipe out humanity - at least the 20% that remains after the War of 2059 - in 2105. Clips from "The Vaccine" are used to depict the devastated world of 2105.
    • In "Patient Zero", the Gehenna Strain killed 500 million people within two months of its outbreak in New York City in 2001. By 2015, the death toll stood at more than three billion. As with "Final Appeal", clips from "The Vaccine" are used to represent the devastation.
  • Plant Aliens: In "Flower Child", a plant-based alien, the Last Of Its Kind, traveled to Earth via a meteor. It became embedded in the soil of a community garden of a San Francisco apartment building and grew into a strange plant overnight. After it kills Mary Cummings with its stinger, the alien uses the energy that it absorbed in the process to transform itself into a beautiful young woman named Violet. Taking up residence in Mary's apartment, Violet seeks to procreate and produces a scent which men find seductive. She sets her sights on Chris, who has just moved into the building with his fiancée Mia and is experiencing pre-wedding jitters. Chris initially manages to resist temptation due to his commitment to remain faithful to Mia but the landlord Mr. Sylvano is less strong-willed and is killed by Violet for his trouble. Chris eventually succumbs to her charms and they have sex. As a result, Violet obtains Chris' seed and uses it to produce millions of offspring which she ejects from her body through the mouth. Her species will soon spread all over Earth and replace humanity as the dominant species.
  • Playing Drunk: A bit of a variation in "Skin Deep". Sid Camden is furious that he was passed over for promotion in favor of his less experienced but more assertive co-worker Chad Warner. While using a Holographic Disguise to pose as Chad, he plays drunk and insults his boss, which results in Chad getting fired.
  • The Political Officer: In "Abaddon", Gordon Knight is assigned to the interplanetary hauling vehicle Pequod as the North American Corporation's representative, serving the same function as a political officer.
  • Polluted Wasteland:
    • In "Promised Land", the Tsal-Khan poisoned all of the plants on Earth during their war against humanity. Even twelve generations after their invasion, eating fruits or vegetables that grow naturally is usually fatal.
    • In "The Grell", the area around Old Seattle is irradiated as it was hit by a nuclear bomb many years earlier. Humans cannot eat any of the fruits or vegetables unless the radiation is neutralized by a Grell using Grell alchemy.
    • In "Think Like a Dinosaur", Earth is extremely polluted to the point that many people die from Environmental Sensitivity Syndrome (ESS) after being exposed to the atmosphere. Michael Burr's wife Karen was among its victims and he fears that his daughter Molly will suffer the same fate.
    • In "The Human Factor", apples are no longer safe to eat in many parts of the United States in 2084 due to the high levels of radiation caused by the war between the Free Alliance and the Coalition of Middle Eastern and Pacific States.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In "Summit", the Dregocian delegation's shuttle is destroyed in an ion storm as it approaches the planetoid where it was supposed to hold peace talks with the human delegation. The shuttle's last message accuses the humans of sabotaging it. The human and Dregocian motherships destroy each other in the chaos that follows. The human delegation detects both sides preparing for war and determine that they will come into firing range of each other's fleets in three hours. As their transmitter is damaged, the humans cannot alert either side that it was all a terrible misunderstanding.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The episodes "Rule of Law", "Mindreacher" and "Time to Time" were attempts at new spin-off series, but none of them were picked up.
  • Porn with Plot: Several episodes have nudity and sex, usually to explore the implications of sci-fi stuff like robot companions. These include:
    • "Valerie 23": Frank Hellner gets a Robot Girl as a companion. After they inevitably have sex, she becomes a Yandere after he tries to date his therapist Rachel Rose.
    • "Caught In The Act": Hannah Valesic (Alyssa Milano) gets possessed by an alien. She seduces men, then consumes them after sex.
    • "Paradise": Sheriff Grady Markham investigates when old women from a retirement home go missing, and mysterious, beautiful women seduce men, then undergo Rapid Aging.
    • "Bits of Love": Aidan Hunter, the last survivor of a nuclear war, survives in an underground bunker with holograms (including one played by Natasha Henstridge) as companions. He can even interact with them intimately with virtual reality. He soon learns the cost of treating his companions with disrespect.
    • "The Human Operators": Sentient space ships keep humans as slaves. Two slaves are commanded to mate and breed the next generation of slaves. A rebellion is inevitable.
    • "Mary 25": A sequel to "Valerie 23". Although the robot company was disgraced by the Valerie 23 incident, they assure people that they've worked the bugs out of their other models. A robot girl, Mary 25, is hired as a nanny and maid for a family. She ends up having an affair with the husband.
    • "Flower Child": An alien plant takes human form and seduces men.
    • "Lithia": Major Mercer is awakened from cryogenic stasis to find that he is the only man in a world ruled by women. He has sex with two of them.
    • The episodes "Caught in the Act", "Bits of Love", "Valerie 23", "The Human Operators", and "Flower Child" were packaged in a DVD collection titled The Outer Limits - Sex & Science Fiction Collection.
  • Popular History:
    • Very much in evidence in the time travel episode "Vanishing Act", though it begins in a fairly low-key way. The music is pretty much Nothing but Hits. On New Year's Eve 1949, Trevor McPhee turns off the radio while it is playing swing music. When he travels forward in time to New Year's Day 1960, he looks at 1959 issues of Time Magazine and Life featuring Vice President Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro and International Brotherhood of Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa on the cover. At the Tiki Isle Bar and Grill, the Patsy Cline song "Leaving' On Your Mind" is playing on the radio. On New Year's Day 1970, Trevor finds that his now ex-wife Theresa and her new husband Ray are 40-ish hippies and runs into his former physician Dr. Golden at a protest against The Vietnam War outside a Marine recruitment office. When he goes to the Tiki Isle to drown his sorrows, the Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit" is on the radio. On New Year's Day 1980, Trevor arrives in the middle of a disco at the Tiki Isle where the Van McCoy song "Do the Hustle" is being played. The disco patrons wear jumpsuits, strapless gowns, leisure suits, bell bottoms and gold medallions and chains. Trevor's final jump to January 1990 averts this trope, considering that it was only six years before the episode was made.
    • "Ripper" takes place in Victorian London and prominently features the Jack the Ripper murders, an Opium Den, prostitutes and the East End slums of Whitechapel.
    • In "Time to Time", Lorelle Palmer and Gavin visit the UC Berkeley campus on April 14, 1969 and see many hippies, several protests against The Vietnam War and an ROTC officer trying to recruit students.
  • Possession Burnout: In "Ripper" and "Better Luck Next Time", the Energy Beings can only stay in each host body for about a day before they decay and become useless to them.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog:
    • In "Rite of Passage", there is a Labrador in the commune which, contrary to Mother's theory, cannot receive telepathic commands.
    • In "The Vaccine", James is attacked by two vicious dogs while he is outside the hospital getting diesel from a truck to power the hospital's generator. His hazmat suit is torn in the process and he is exposed to the Berlin C virus. However, he survives as it turns out that he and the others are immune to the virus due to the bacteria which forced them into quarantine in the first place.
    • In "Lithia", a black Labrador is seen in the titular enclave.
  • P.O.W. Camp: In "Quality of Mercy", Major John Skokes is captured by the aliens with whom humanity is fighting a losing war and is sent to a POW camp on a moon or asteroid. He shares a cell with Cadet Bree Tristan.
  • Power Degeneration: "Blood Brothers" has a scientist accidentally develop a serum that appears to give people (and monkeys) a Healing Factor (a monkey took a dose of cyanide without a problem). His brother, the Corrupt Corporate Executive, refuses to reveal the miracle to the world but uses it on himself to cure a hereditary disease. However, the scientist then realizes that the serum doesn't give you healing powers after all but merely forces the cells to use up all their energy on healing, leaving behind a withered husk. His brother is destined to spend the rest of his days on life support.
  • The Power of Love: Saves the day in at least two episodes.
    • In "Caught In The Act", Hannah's love for her boyfriend gives her the strength to disobey and eventually expel the alien possessing her.
    • In "Paradise", four women volunteered to be surrogate mothers for a dying alien. Only one succeeds, because she was in love with the man she had sex with in order to get the sperm.
  • Precrime Arrest: In "A Stitch in Time", a professor invented a time travel machine after previously having been raped when she was younger. She tried to correct the past by going back in time and killing soon-to-be serial killers before they could claim any victims. She eventually undoes her own motivation to do this by saving her younger self, but previous iterations of events lead a homicide detective to continue where she left off.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Descent", "Judgment Day", "Abaddon", "Zig Zag" and "Nest" are the only episodes that feature the word "fuck".
  • Prefers the Illusion: In "The Refuge", Raymond Dalton, a journalist with wanderlust, falls in love with a kind, lovely nurse named Gina Beaumont in what turns out to be a virtual reality environment which he experienced while cryonically frozen. He is revived once a cure for his brain tumor is found. One of the other people in the environment, Sanford Vallé, has the ability to alter the others' personalities at will. As such, Raymond is relieved to discover that the "real" Gina has the same personality as the first version of her that he met, the only difference being that she is a doctor in the real world as opposed to a nurse. Gina cannot be taken out of stasis as she is suffering from the Osaka virus (which she caught as a result of her work as a doctor) so Raymond elects to re-enter stasis to be with her. He helps Gina and the others defeat Vallé, who dies in the real world as a result. Gina attempts to convince Raymond that he is missing out on his life by staying in the virtual reality environment with her. He replies, "Out there is the dream. In here with you is the reality."
  • President Evil: In "Decompression", a time traveler approaches a presidential candidate and warns him that his loss in the upcoming election will pave the way for one of these. As she continues to win him over, she eventually convinces him that his staff will sabotage his chances of winning, and that he needs to jump from the plane and leave them all to die (she'll protect him with her future-tech). He complies, and she's true to her word. Then she reveals he is the President Evil she spoke of, having gambled that he would be self-centered enough to save his own hide at the expense of everyone else. The plane will be fine, and he's just ensured that his political career is tarnished beyond recovery. Oh, and she didn't really save him. She just gave him a few minutes to find out the truth before putting him right back in mid-air to splatter on the ground.
  • Pretend to Be Brainwashed: In "Straight and Narrow", Rusty Dobson, a young man attending a boarding school, realizes that the other students are brainwashed by a chip inserted in their heads. He and one other student, Charlie Walters, are immune to the mind control chip because of a drug they take for stomach ulcers. Rusty has to pretend to comply with the demands of the institution to blend in until he can attempt escape.
  • Prisoner's Work: In "Small Friends", Professor Gene Morton works in the laboratory attached to the prison, where he developed the Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS). His work in the lab has granted him certain privileges.
  • Prison Riot: In "The Sentence", Cory Izacks finds himself in the middle of a riot as soon as he enters the Virtual Reality prison.
  • Professional Killer:
    • Subverted in "I Hear You Calling". Carter Jones believes that the strange man who has been causing people to disappear, leaving only a pile of purple ash in their wake, is an alien hitman. He explains to Carter that, like her, these people have contracted a disease which is fatal to humans and that he in fact teleported them to his planet, a veritable paradise where the disease is harmless. The purple ash is a byproduct of the teleportion process.
    • In "The Gun", the alien calling himself Donald Finley came to Earth in order to recruit mercenaries to fight in the war which his people are fighting.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: This happens in several episodes. The episode "Double Helix" lampshades it.
    Student: Dude, you injected that stuff that made that fish grow legs into yourself!?
  • Psychic Link: In "The Other Side", Dr. Neal Eberhardt has invented the Neural Intercortex Stimulation Array (NISA) which he uses to study brain damaged and comatose patients. When he connects two of these patients, Adam and Lisa Dobkins, to NISA, their brainwaves match up perfectly and they form a psychic link. They are able to interact with each other in another reality. It takes on the appearance of familiar and comforting locations from their real lives: Lisa's dance studio and Adam's garden. Neal learns of the psychic link when Adam says Lisa's name, which he had no way of knowing. He later connects two other comatose patients: a restaurateur named Warner Oland, who is able to walk in the other reality when he had been wheelchair bound for 20 years in the real world, and Roger Bowden, who doesn't want to be there and whose negativity destroys Adam's plants and Warner's soufflé. Neal is able to enter the other reality by slowing his brain functions with an injection of fentanyl. His attempt to help Roger emerge from his coma and re-enter the real world results in Roger's death because of his congenital heart defect. Although Neal manages to save Adam, Lisa and Warner, he remains trapped in the other reality. However, he is convinced that there is another way out.
  • Public Exposure: In "Bits of Love", Aiden talks the holographic character Emma into letting him paint her nude. Since she's a computer program, she literally freezes while doing so. The painting is a success, but Emma soon develops an individuality and becomes a Woman Scorned when Aiden won't return her feelings...
  • Puppeteer Parasite:
    • "Dead Man's Switch" had a very brief scene of literal Puppet Masters. The protagonist is down in a secure bunker, where he must push a button every hour to prevent Earth's last-ditch Doomsday Device from going off. The protagonist's commanding officer is talking to him via video from Washington DC, assuring him that the alien genocide it was meant to avenge is over and they'll relieve him soon, he just has to keep pushing the button until his bunker can be reached. In the episode's final shot, it's seen that the General is a corpse amidst the buring ruins of DC, and spindly sea-spider-like aliens have their limbs stuck into him through a gash in his back, working him like a ventriloquist's dummy.
    • "The Second Soul" features a benevolent, mostly-benign version. The aliens are refugees, energy beings who need a body, and asks humanity to give them their dead. There is strain on both sides, with the aliens dying because they can't get a host in time, and some humans being Driven to Suicide by the stress of knowing that their loved ones are dead, yet also seemingly alive when inhabited by an alien. The end of the episode reveals that the children of the aliens possessing human bodies are 100% human, which makes sense, considering they don't alter the bodies' DNA.
    • "Caught in the Act" has an alien parasite possess young women and seduce men in order to absorb them for food/energy. This has happened at least several times throughout history. The parasite can only be defeated with the Power of Love.
    • "From Within" has prehistoric worms take over a mining town but are defeated by a mentally-retarded kid who figures out that they like salt and hate sunlight. They also cause the host to lose all inhibitions.
    • In "Ripper", the Energy Being responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders takes control of the bodies of its hosts as soon as it enters them. Vacating them results in their deaths.
    • In "Something About Harry", the reptilian parasites who have taken over the bodies of numerous people in Hunterville and elsewhere have access to their hosts' memories, making it easy for them to impersonate the relevant humans.
  • Putting on the Reich: In "Starcrossed", the Hing evoke the Nazis, which is unsurprising considering that the episode is a Whole Plot Reference to Casablanca.

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