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The Outer Limits 1995 / Tropes Q to Z

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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 I-P can be found at Tropes I to P.


The Outer Limits (1995) provides examples of:

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    Q 
  • Quest for Identity:
    • In the episode "Blank Slate", a man is being chased by some people. He encounters a woman, Hope Wilson, who agrees to help him. He can't remember who he is but has a strange case with him that periodically dispenses a shot of a blue liquid. With every shot, he regains some of his memories and remembers that his name is Tom Cooper. In the end, he takes the last shot and remembers that those people chasing them are working for him. He is a Mad Scientist who created this method of erasing, storing, and restoring memories. The end of the episode shows Tom about to do this to Hope.
    • In the episode "Birthright", Senator Richard Adams gets into a car accident and loses his memory. He is immediately told who he is but starts to see strange things. He suspects an alien conspiracy only to find out that he himself is an alien and, in fact, the aliens are already growing a replacement for him.
  • Questionable Consent: In "Afterlife", Stiles submits to the experiment, but the alternative was death. His religious beliefs also precluded the latter, as for him it would essentially be suicide, as the experimenters knew.

    R 
  • Race Lift: In "Think Like a Dinosaur", Kamala Shastri is Caucasian. In the 1995 short story of the same name by James Patrick Kelly on which it is based, Kamala is of Indian descent (as her name indicates) as her father was born in Thana, near Bombay.
  • Rage Against the Reflection:
    • In "Caught in the Act", a college girl named Hannah is possessed by an alien and goes around seducing people, then eating them after sex. In the girl's bathroom, Hannah loses her temper after the alien tries to seduce her roommate and punches the mirror. She then picks up a shard and attempts suicide, but the alien regains control and makes her drop it and continue its mission.
    • In "Skin Deep", Sid Camden, who hates himself, punches the mirror after he deactivates the Holographic Disguise that made him look like Chad Warner.
  • Rape by Proxy: In "The Human Operators", the AI minds breed their human slaves to produce future operators, with their consent or lack thereof obviously irrelevant (like everything else, failure to comply results in torture). The pair we see do quickly become quite willing though. At the beginning the man had not even yet been aware of what sex is.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: In "A Stitch in Time", a woman is raped/assaulted as a teen and grows up to be a mentally-unbalanced scientist who builds a time machine and uses it to go back and execute serial killers before they target anyone. Her ensuing Ripple-Proof Memory does not help with her ongoing mental stability. This is ultimately resolved when a cop goes back in time and saves her from getting raped in the first place. Her altered present self is significantly better off as a result. Sadly, the cop takes her place as the vigilante when her friend is murdered.
  • Ratings Stunt: An In-Universe example in "Judgment Day". Jack Parson, the producer of the Immoral Reality Show Judgment Day, framed Declan McMahon for the murder of Caitlin Channing in order to create huge ratings. At this point, it had only produced a series of specials and it was his hope that it would receive an order for a full 22 episode season if the McMahon episode was a ratings success.
  • Ray Gun: In "Lithia", Major Mercer was armed with a laser pistol when he placed in suspended animation in 2015.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Given its premise, the Found Footage episode "Manifest Destiny" features no music (discounting the opening and closing credits).
  • Really 700 Years Old: In "Last Supper", Laura/Jade reveals that she was born in the 1300s-1400s during the era of the Black Plague, despite appearing to be about 30 at most.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: In "Afterlife", Stiles is a former soldier who steadfastly refused to go through with an assassination, accept death, or kill people even when they're trying to murder him. This all seems to be based on his Catholic beliefs.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "Heart's Desire", an alien arrives in The Wild West and gives four outlaws superpowers. Naturally, all but one get themselves killed due to fighting amongst themselves, though the survivor was more moral and level-headed than the others, and only fought in self-defense. The alien tells the survivor that Humans Are the Real Monsters and takes away his powers before disappearing:
    The fate of a world isn't determined by its best examples, but by its worst. It takes a few to destroy the many, especially when even the best of you can be dragged down into the mire. Judging from your example, brother against brother, friend against friend, you people have such a potential for violence, sheer, unvarnished wickedness, I've got every confidence you'll destroy yourself before you build your first inter-stellar engine. We've got nothing to fear from you.
  • The Remake: Five episodes of the original were redone as four episodes of the Revival ("Nightmare", "A Feasibility Study", "I, Robot" and "The Inheritors" parts 1 and 2 - this last, the original's only two-parter, was remade as a one-parter).
  • Replacement Goldfish: Subverted in the episode "Mary 25", wherein the sleazy boss of a robotics company murdered his wife prior to the episode and replaced her with a robot made in her exact likeness. However, his motive for this is clearly to cover up his murder of her, since he all but ignores the robot and uses a Robot Maid instead to satisfy his "needs".
  • The Reptilians: Many of the alien species featured in the series fit this trope. In most cases, Reptiles Are Abhorrent.
  • Resurrection Sickness: In "New Lease", Oscar Reynolds, whose body was denoted to medical science, is resurrected by Doctors James Houghton and Charles McCamber using a Scanning Molecular Reorganizer (SMR) module. His body was frozen after death to prevent tissue damage. Very soon after being resurrected, Reynolds' body begins to deteriorate, a very painful process, and he dies for a second time within less than 24 hours. After Anthony Szigetti kills Houghton while robbing him, McCamber brings him back to life. Houghton, whose bodily functions begin to fail in the same manner, plans to use the time that he has left to make up for neglecting his wife Page and daughter Katrine but he cannot resist the temptation to have his revenge. He shoots Szigetti dead in full view of three witnesses. Soon after he does so, McCamber tells him that his condition is stabilizing and his resurrection is permanent. He has determined that Reynolds died due to the fact that his body had been frozen after his first death. The next morning, Houghton is arrested for Szigetti's murder and is told by Detective Broder that it is likely that he will receive a life sentence if he is convicted.
  • Ret Gone:
    • In "Breaking Point", the Andrew McLaren from 2000 ceases to exist after he kills his younger self in 1993.
    • In "Time to Time", Satchko Watanabe, a member of the time travel agency Chrononics, ceased to exist after Lorelle Palmer altered history when she visited UC Berkeley on April 14, 1969. Lorelle caused her father Tom to miss his bus, which prevented his friend James Williams from telling him about a meeting later that night. At this meeting, he learned of Richard's plans to plant a bomb in the ROTC campus headquarters in McClanahan Hall. As a result, Tom lived and the bomb went off the next day instead of that night. Twelve people died in the altered timeline. In the original timeline, one of them had a child who became a medical researcher and discovered the cure for AIDS, saving thousands of lives in the process. Satchko was never born as she was a descendant of one of the AIDS sufferers. The course of history is restored and Satchko returns when Lorelle decides to allow her father to die in his attempt to deactivate the bomb.
  • Rich Bastard: Harlan Hawkes in "White Light Fever".
  • Ridiculously Human Robots:
    • "Mary 25" also follows this trope with the cybernetic nanny (played by Sofia Shinas) who ends up an unwilling Sex Bot.
    • In "Rule of Law", Miranda is a simulated human (SIM).
    • In "The Camp", the androids are, by design, indistinguishable from humans. Indeed, the only thing which sets them apart is a cold, dispassionate attitude, which isn't too out of place in the guards of a labor camp.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: In "The Voyage Home", the alien in the form of Peter Claridge intends to proliferate its species on Earth at the expense of humanity, saying, "Our species is millions of years old. It is our right to take lives in order to continue."
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: In "The Heist", the militia group Lightning Dawn is preparing for the "inevitable" resumption of the Cold War. To that end, it hijacks what it believes to be a US Army missile shipment which was being sent to Russia in order to keep the Russian President in power. It instead turned out to be an alien organism.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: In "Gettysburg", Vince Chance has a book entitled Great Battles of the Civil War. While on the Gettysburg battlefield for the re-enactment, he looks at the section on the battle and finds a photograph of several injured Confederate soldiers taken after Pickett's Charge featuring a nearby rock in the background. He and his friend Andy Larouche are later sent back in time to 1863 by Nicholas Prentice. Andy attempts to change history by preventing Pickett's Charge so that the Confederacy will win at Gettysburg. However, Lt. Winters believes that he is a Dirty Coward and a traitor so he shoots him in the chest at point blank range. Andy dies within about a minute and Prentice returns Vince to the present. When Vince looks at the same photograph, he sees Andy's body is now lying against the rock.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory:
    • In "A Stitch in Time", an already-unbalanced scientist uses her time machine to go back and execute notorious serial killers before they hurt anyone. Each time history changes, and she remembers each and every change, driving her crazier and crazier. In the end, she (and a homicide detective following her murders) go back in time to save her younger self from the sexual assault which originally caused her problems. The scientist loses this (having essentially erased herself), but the detective gains it and realizes that her best friend was killed by one of the serial killers whom the scientist had no motivation to kill in the current timeline. The detective then starts killing serial killers...
    • In "Déjà Vu", Dr. Mark Crest is able to remember previous iterations of the "Groundhog Day" Loop. Immediately before being struck by the expanding teleportation field, he grabbed a transformer cable and the electromagnetic field that it generated partially cancelled out the effects of the loop. In a later iteration, he brings his colleague Dr. Cleo Lazar into the loop by holding her as he grabs the cable.
  • Robocam:
    • In "The Human Operators", there are numerous shots from the perspective of Starfighter 31's security cameras.
    • In "I, Robot", several shots are seen from the perspective of Adam Link.
    • In "Family Values", several shots are seen from the perspective of Gideon.
    • In "Mona Lisa", the titular android's perspective is seen as she searches every database to which she has access for any information concerning the whereabouts of Teddy Madden's ex-husband Al and daughter Amanda.
    • In "Rule of Law", several shots are seen from Miranda's perspective.
  • Robo Family: In the final scene of "Glitch", the androids Tom and Wendy Seymour have built a daughter for themselves.
  • Robot Girl: "Mary 25" involved a Robot Girl as one of the main characters, and it ended on an absolute Tear Jerker.
  • Robotic Reveal: Several of the robot-centric episodes:
    • In "Valerie 23", the invalid Hank is confused as to why none of his colleagues tried hitting on the rather attractive girl he was just introduced to. He quickly finds out why when they take him to a side room where a group of scientists are working on the wiring inside the gynoid's exposed skull.
    • In "Resurrection", two scientists are breeding a grown man in what appears to be an embryonal sac in their basement. One of the scientists accidentally gets some fluid on his face, and goes upstairs to clean up. His colleague then removes his face plate to reveal that they're both androids. This is followed by an Internal Reveal for the new human in a later scene.
    • In "Mary 25", it turns out that "Teryl" is in fact a robot replacement who has convinced the protagonist to kill her unfaithful husband, who was cheating on her with another robot.
    • In "Glitch", Tom Seymour is horrified to discover that he is an android. He was created by Joe Walker for use in disaster areas so that no humans would be harmed. However, the project was taken away from Walker, who later died, by the US government. The new project leader Dr. Edward Normandy is running tests on Tom to ensure that he is ready for his new purpose: infiltration and assassination. Wendy Seymour, Tom's supposed wife and a member of Normandy's team, helps him to escape as she has come to disapprove of the work that Normandy is doing. They go to see Walker's widow Sylvia, who reveals to a disbelieving Wendy that she too is an android, the first that Joe created. Wendy is even more dismayed by the revelation of her true nature than Tom was but, like him, comes to accept it. Joe modelled Tom and Wendy on younger versions of himself and Sylvia.
  • Robotic Spouse: The premise of the episode "Valerie 23" and the mandatory Cruel Twist Ending of its sequel, "Mary 25"
  • Robot Kid: In "Simon Says", Gideon Banks transfers the memories of his late son Simon, preserved through the Neural Archiving Project (NAP), into a partially constructed robot body. He was unable to build Simon a complete body right away as most of the parts were stolen from his workplace, Concorde Robotics, while the remainder were salvaged from an earlier, unfinished robot body. Gideon treats the robot Simon as if he were his real son, which his niece Zoe finds creepy and off-putting.
  • Robot Maid:
    • Episode "Mary 25" has a robot nanny bought to work in a household, just to be molested by the children's violent and abusive father. It doesn't end well...
    • In "Family Values", Jerry Miller obtains a robot from Gideon Robotics to do the work around the house that he is too busy to do.
  • Robot Soldier: In "I, Robot", the robot Adam was created by Dr. Charles Link as an experiment. When Dr. Link lost his funding, he was forced to find alternative sources of finance. To that end, he entered into business with a defense contractor who wanted him to create an army of robot soldiers. Adam was to be the prototype. When Dr. Link attempted to erase his memory files, a malfunction caused Adam to reactivate and he killed his creator.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age:
    • In "Rite of Passage", Shal and Brav come across the ruins of an underground carpark which is littered with skeletons.
    • In "Promised Land", the Tsal-Khan family's farm is located on the outskirts of Seattle. When Ma'al visits the ruined city, the dilapidated but still standing Space Needle is seen prominently.
    • In "The Origin of Species", this trope is combined with Earth All Along. Hope and the six students realize that they are on Earth in the future, some point after the 23rd Century, when they come across the half-collapsed Golden Gate Bridge.

    S 
  • Sadistic Choice: In "Afterlife", Stiles is offered a choice by the US Army: death, or participation in a secret experiment whose details he doesn't know.
  • Sapient House: In the episode "If These Walls Could Talk", an Alien Kudzu lifeform that crashed down on Earth has been slowly overgrowing an abandoned mansion, effectively becoming a living house in the process. It eats people by absorbing their biomass into itself.
  • Sapient Ship: In "The Human Operators", the starfighters are artificially intelligent.
  • The Scapegoat: The series sometimes does this. In "Lithia," the male soldier introduced winds up taking all the blame for everything that went wrong in the village, including a woman's death, despite the fact that he personally did nothing wrong, and all his actions were done at the behest of the women in the village, including attempting to steal electrical power from a nearby town, after trying to buy it and being rebuffed, because without it, the village was not likely to produce enough food to survive the next winter, due to the government's extremely punishing tax rate "Praise the Goddess." He is definitely not a Silent Scapegoat at the end.
  • Schmuck Bait: In "The Heist", soldiers raid a secret government armory, but the guard they capture begs them not to open a box. They open it, and unleash an alien that kills them all and continues to the outside world.
  • Science Is Bad: A recurring theme (though not always).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "Mind Over Matter", a doctor hooks a comatose woman to a VR machine so they can communicate with her. He enters the VR world several times and they start getting intimate. One of his colleagues is disgusted, and protests the unethical nature of what he is doing. He refuses to listen, and she gets fed up and leaves, and in doing so, escapes being involved in the bad ending.
  • Screw Yourself: Discussed in "Mind Over Matter", where a scientist invents a virtual reality device that lets you interface directly with people's minds. The virtual worlds can be populated with people from the users' memories. One character points out that a person created from someone's memories is technically part of them, and asks if having sex with one would count as selfcest, even if the simulated person was the opposite gender. The scientist gets annoyed and brushes the question off.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: In "Abaddon", the crew of a ship in deep space discovers a hypersleep pod containing the body of a famous mass murdering warlord. He's let out and quickly begins to manipulate the people on the ship into killing each other.
  • Sealed Evil in a Teddy Bear: In "Under the Bed", there's a rather literal example in the opening when a Teddy Bear (actually a child-eating monster in disguise) underneath the bed lures a kid by having it claim that he's scared of the dark and wants him to pull it out. The boy is then sucked under the bed to his sister's horror. Foreshadowing this, the bear starts ominously stating "little boy" and has its eyes open to reveal them to be red.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: In "Sarcophagus", an archeological dig finds an alien inside a tomb. Upon awakening, the friendly being was quite happy to find that humanity had come a long way from the cavemen that had attacked him on sight, forcing him to seal himself up to recover from his injuries. When there is a cave-in, the alien allows the two who had befriended him to seal themselves up, keeping them alive until they are finally rescued.
  • Secret Test:
    • In the final scene of "Afterlife", Dr. Ellen Kersaw realizes that humanity was secretly being tested by the aliens to determine whether or not they should make contact with them. They failed.
    • In "Nightmare", the crew of the United World Forces spaceship Archipelago are under the impression that they have been captured by the Ebonites but it turns out that they were being subjected to a test to assess how they would react if the Ebonites were actually to capture them.
    • In "Abduction", five Eden Park High School students, Cody Phillips, Jason, Ray, Brianna and Danielle, are abducted by aliens and find themselves in an exact replica of their school. An alien soon appears and tells them that in five hours' time, they will be forced to decide which of their fellow students will die. If they refuse to vote, all of them will be put to death. When the time comes, Brianna, who is convinced that it is some kind of test, refuses to vote and, with some reluctance, Jason, Ray and Danielle follow suit. However, Cody doesn't want to die and votes for Brianna. The alien fires an energy bolt from his staff and Brianna is killed. When a furious Ray attacks Cody, a gun falls from his belt. Ray then has Jason go through Cody's backpack and he finds that Cody has torn pages out of the yearbook and circled the faces of the other four students. Cody admits that he resents all of them for different reasons but denies that he was planning to shoot any of them. Jason, Ray and Danielle soon disappear. Now left all alone, Cody cradles Brianna's body and apologizes for voting for her, saying that he did not realize what he was doing and wishes that he could take it back. The alien reappears and tells Cody that it was a test for his benefit. Their observations indicated that the day would soon come when Cody would act on his desires and they wanted to see whether he could take a different course. Cody is returned to school and finds all of the other students, including Brianna, alive and well. He then goes to the principal's office and places the gun on his desk, meaning that he will get the help that he needs.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: In "Living Hell", after being shot in the head, Ben Kohler is implanted with an experimental cerebral chip as he has no other chance of survival. After emerging from his coma one month later, he is plagued by visions of women being brutally murdered. Ben and his doctor Jennifer Martinez eventually determine that he is seeing through the eyes of Wayne Haas, who received an earlier version of the cerebral chip and later faked his death in order to cover his tracks. Ben is only able to see through Haas' eyes when he either has a woman cornered or is killing her because adrenaline hyperstimulates the chip and causes the two men's minds to temporarily connect.
  • Seeker White Blood Cells: In "In the Blood", a spaceship crew punches a hole into another dimension, which they assume to be hyperspace or subspace. The main character, who is descended from Magical Native Americans, starts to believe that it is actually the bloodstream of the living universe. What they originally thought to be asteroids turn out to have a similar structure to human white blood cells, except they use gravity to kill infection.
  • Seeks Another's Resurrection: In "Final Appeal", Chief Justice Haden Wainwright was inconsolable after his beloved wife Julia died of cancer in 2066. A friend told him about the scientific underground, which possessed advanced pieces of technology in contravention of the anti-technology codes introduced after the War of 2059. They were able to use the Scanning Molecular Reorganizer (SMR) module developed by Doctors James Houghton and Charles McCamber (as seen in "New Lease") to revive Julia for several seconds. She was terrified and bewildered during her few brief moments of consciousness. The expression on her face further traumatized Chief Justice Wainwright, who said that he would never forgive himself for putting her through that.
  • Seers: In "Virtual Future", Jack Pierce discovers that his virtual reality suit allows him to see into the future provided that the analogue simulation rate is at a high enough level. Altering the power levels determines the timing of the future jumps. Jack's patron Bill Trenton, the unscrupulous CEO of CTY Industries, plans to use this technology for his own ends.
  • Self-Duplication: In "The Joining", Captain Miles Davidow, a crew member of the Aphrodite facility on Venus, injected himself with the DNA of a Venusian creature in order to keep himself alive; he knew that he would otherwise die as the facility's oxygen supply was rapidly running out. The creatures reproduce by a very advanced form of mitosis, producing complete copies of themselves in the process. When he returns to Earth, Davidow begins to undergo mitosis in the same fashion. It first manifests itself in a form of a Healing Factor. When he cuts off one of his fingers, it regrows within hours. He eventually produces a full size, if unfinished, copy of himself. In order to prevent the risk of him infecting the general population, he is returned to Venus where he and five perfect copies man the Aphrodite facility in permanent exile.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In "Breaking Point", a scientist invents a Time Machine, which he uses to travel several days into the future. There, he sees his wife, who has been shot. When he returns to his own time, he desperately tries to convince everyone that he really did travel to the future, only to have everyone think him crazy (doesn't help that the time shift apparently has some nasty side effects, such as actually turning him crazy). In the end, he ends up accidentally shooting his wife while trying to stop her from leaving him. In a twist, he decides to prevent her death by ensuring that they never meet in the first place, so he travels back to the day they met and shoots his younger self. Both versions of him die. Unfortunately, fate doesn't like to be cheated - his future wife was planning on killing herself that day, and only meeting his past self kept her from taking the pills.
  • Self-Immolation: In "Alien Radio", Eldon DeVries covers himself in gasoline and sets himself on fire in front of Stan Harbinger after he realizes that there is an alien living inside of him.
  • Self-Restraint: In "I, Robot", a self-aware robot called Adam has just killed its creator after said creator, on the behest of the government, tried to erase Adam's personality and reprogram him as a mindless weapon. Most of the episode consists of a trial determining whether or not Adam should be considered a person fit to stand trial or a piece of haywire machinery that should be immediately scrapped. The entire time he is cuffed with rather hefty restraints. In the end Adam wins the right to stand trial as a person. However, as everyone is leaving the courthouse, the prosecuting attorney who argued against Adam's humanity accidentally walks into the path of a truck. Adam effortlessly breaks his restraints and pushes her out of the way, sacrificing himself in the process.
  • Serial Killer: In "Living Hell", Wayne Haas is a serial killer with a twist: he and another guy both received an experimental neural implant from an emergency procedure several years apart to save their lives after an accident. He quickly realizes that they can share each other's thoughts, and uses it to send the other guy visions of the way that he graphically murders women.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: In "A Stitch In Time", an unbalanced scientist uses her time machine to go back and execute famous serial killers before they hurt anybody. Her resulting Ripple Effect-Proof Memory does not improve her mental state...
  • Series Fauxnale: The Season Six finale "Final Appeal" was intended as the final episode as the series had been cancelled by Showtime but it was picked up for a seventh and final season by the Sci-Fi Channel.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong:
    • In "A Stitch In Time", a scientist develops a time machine and uses it to go back and kill serial killers before their first murder. However, it turns out she was motivated by the fact that she'd been raped and tortured by a serial killer herself as a child. She eventually goes back and kills him, thus saving her younger self, but this undoes all of her other killings, as she would have had no motivation to kill them in the first place. She also dies while killing him. However, her younger self realizes that time travel is possible and uses it to re-invent the technology. In the double Clip Show "Final Appeal", she uses it to help people (she dies when another time traveler blows up Washington, D.C., in the future).
    • In "Decompression", a popular presidential candidate traveling on a plane and seeing an intangible image of a woman claiming to be from a Bad Future where his plane crashed (because of another time traveler's accidental interference), and his ineffectual opponent ended up winning. She convinces him to jump out of the plane by claiming that she will use future technology to halt his fall moments before hitting the ground. This appears to happen, but then she explains that she is here to kill him, as he is the one who will become President Evil due to his paranoia. The falling scene repeats, and nobody catches him this time. The plane lands without problems.
    • In "Patient Zero", a time-traveling assassin killing certain people with a fast-acting poison before the strains of viruses they're carrying can combine in Patient Zero and start a pandemic that will kill most of humanity. Each time he goes back and is told that nothing has changed. He eventually realizes that he has to kill Patient Zero, who turns out to be a pretty woman, and he hesitates, resolving to prevent her from contacting the people with the strains. At the end of the episode, a colleague of his goes back in time and explains that the assassin is the one who is now Patient Zero, as his attempts to keep her away from the infected resulted in him creating the plague within himself. He voluntarily lets himself be poisoned in order to keep his future family safe.
    • In "Gettysburg", Nicholas Prentice seeks to alter history by convincing Andy Larouche that there is no glory in any war so he will not assassinate the U.S. President on November 19, 2013. He does so by sending him and his friend Vince Chance back to the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. For his part, Andy tries to change history by saving the Confederacy as he believes that it would have been a better world if it had won the American Civil War.
    • In "Time to Time", Lorelle Palmer has Gavin bring her to UC Berkeley on April 14, 1969 in order to prove that he is telling the truth about being a time traveler. She picked this date deliberately as it was the day that her father Tom died. She grew up believing that he was killed when the bomb that he planted in the ROTC campus headquarters detonated prematurely. However, it turns out that he had actually been attempting to deactivate the bomb when it went off. Lorelle does briefly change history and save her father but she ultimately decides to allow history to run its course after learning that the child of one of the twelve people who would have otherwise died in the explosion went on to discover a cure for AIDS. Although her father still dies, Lorelle succeeds in changing her mother Angie's life for the better. In the original timeline, Angie never recovered from Tom's death and spent most of her days in bed in Lorelle's native time of 1989. Lorelle asking her five-year-old self to tell her mother how much she loved a painting that she had made for her resulted in Angie gaining solace and comfort from pursuing art as a career.
  • Setting Update: Inverted in "Sandkings". While the 1980 novelette of the same name by George R. R. Martin takes place on the planet Baldur hundreds of years in the future, the adaptation takes place in the United States in the present.
  • Sex Bot: Several episodes such as "Valerie 23" and "Mary 25" explored the inherent problems with sexbots, though some of them were created for non-sexual purposes but just happened to be "fully functional."
  • Sex Equals Love: In "Bits of Love", Emma, the holographic interface of the computer keeping Aidan Hunter alive in his underground bunker, believes that Aidan is in love with her after they have sex in the virtual reality chamber. The experience was an extremely meaningful one for her as it awoke previously untapped feelings and passions. As such, Emma does not take it well when Aidan rejects her and tells her that he wants their relationship to revert to its previous status.
  • Shaky Cam: Very much in evidence in the Found Footage episode "Manifest Destiny".
  • Shapeshifting Seducer:
    • In "First Anniversary", the protagonist's wife is actually a foul shapeshifting alien, whose power makes her appear as every man's perfect woman. Unfortunately, the power starts to fade when used too much on someone, such as her husband.
    • In "Stranded", Tyr'Nar reads Brad's mind and assumes the form of Cindy Parker, an attractive older girl on whom he has a crush so that he can gain his trust and eat him.
  • Sharing a Body: The episode "The Vessel" has a writer go up into space on a shuttle. However, something happens and the shuttle crashes on landing, only for the writer to walk out unharmed. He starts getting strange visions and eventually finds out that there is a non-corporeal alien in his body, whose own spacecraft was destroyed near Earth and whose attempts to enter the writer resulted in the shuttle's destruction. With the government realizing something is up, they perform experiments on the writer and find out that having two beings in one body will eventually prove fatal. The alien seemingly agrees to sacrifice itself by giving the scientists instructions on killing him to save the writer. It appears to work, and the writer is set free. However, one of the scientists then wonders if they killed the right being. This is confirmed when the "writer" goes to his son's grave and tells the "boy" that his father was very brave with a flashback revealing that it was the writer who chose to give up his life to save the alien.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In "Black Box", Ares Group officer Lt. Colonel Brandon Grace suffers from severe Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his last mission in which he was betrayed by a member of his unit.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Adam Link at the end of "I, Robot". He is able to effortlessly break them when he saves Carrie Emerson from being run over by a truck.
  • Shock Collar:
    • The aliens in the episode "Rite Of Passage" put shock wristbands on the humans they were raising to prevent them from trying to leave their enclosure. It wasn't due to malice; the woods were full of dangerous creatures.
    • "The Grell" from the episode of the same name are a race of Rubber-Forehead Aliens who were enslaved by humans. They all wear shock collars that electrocute them if they disobey their masters. The collars serve as an Explosive Leash which can be used to kill the relevant Grell if necessary, as demonstrated when High Secretary Paul Kohler kills his slave Ep when he tries to escape.
    • In "Stranded", Tyr'Nar is wearing a security anklet which was placed on him when he was captured by a bounty hunter from his planet. It prevents him from leaving the confines of the bounty hunter's ship, giving him an electric shock if he gets too close to the exit. When the ship crashlands on Earth (having been sabotaged by Tyr'Nar), he enlists the help of Kevin Buchanan in his attempts to remove it. He is eventually able to do so using a hacksaw and a blowtorch belonging to Kevin's father Alex.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: This happened so frequently on this show that the trope Cruel Twist Ending was originally known as Outer Limits Twist.
  • The Short War:
    • In "The Deprogrammers", the Torkor conquered Earth in a little over a week.
    • In "Final Appeal", the War of 2059 took place over the course of several days in June of that year. Due to the widespread use of nuclear weapons, 80% of the Earth's population were killed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Valerie 23", the android title character tells Frank Hellner that she is "fully functional" when it comes to sex. In the sequel episode "Mary 25", Charlie Bouton asks the android of the same name if the same is true of her and regularly has sex with her as the episode progresses. This refers to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Naked Now" in which Tasha Yar, suffering from the Psi 2000 virus, asks Data if he is fully functional.
    • In "Hearts and Minds", the vital energy source which the soldiers are trying to protect is called pergium, a reference to the radioactive element of the same name being mined on Janus VI in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Devil in the Dark". "Hearts and Minds" was written by Star Trek screenwriter Naren Shankar.
    • There is also one to Starship Troopers in "Hearts and Minds" as the human soldiers are (seemingly) fighting an insectoid alien species whom they refer to as "Bugs."
    • "Rite of Passage" features a dog in a post-apocalyptic setting who is (incorrectly) believed to be telepathic, in reference to the telepathic dog Blood in A Boy and His Dog.
    • In "Mary 25", Charlie Bouton says that the title character was "named after the famous nanny from the movies."
    • In "Nightmare", there is another to the Star Trek franchise as there is mention of the Starfleet Research Lab in Fort Dix.
    • In "The Human Factor", Commander Ellis Ward and the android Link play a game of chess to determine whether humanity deserves to exist, in reference to The Seventh Seal.
    • Also in "The Human Factor", Link has yellow eyes, much like Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
    • In "Music of the Spheres", Vic's nickname for Devon Taylor is "Doogie."
    • In "Better Luck Next Time", the aliens are named Gerard and Kimble and claim they have been endlessly chasing each other, a reference to the main characters of The Fugitive.
    • Also in "Better Luck Next Time", Russo, LaRue, Daniels and Esterhaus are all named after characters from Hill Street Blues.
    • In "I, Robot", Adam Link was built at the Rossom Hall Robotics Laboratory, a reference to the 1920 Czech play R.U.R. by Karel Čapek which introduced the word "robot" to science fiction and the English language. The robots in the play (who are really Artificial Humans) were created by Rossum's Universal Robots.
    • In "Déjà Vu", Corporal Hanford is running a betting pool on the likely (and unlikely) outcomes of the teleportation experiment. One of the options is "The Fly".
    • In "Skin Deep", Sid Camden has the poster for The Body Snatcher above his mantelpiece. This is a reference to the fact that Sid imitates Chad Warner using a Holographic Disguise and eventually kills him so that he can take over his life permanently.
    • There are numerous references to Nineteen Eighty-Four in "Stasis". The episode depicts a Dystopia in which society is divided between the Elite and the workers with the former essentially being the Inner Party and the Outer Party combined and the workers being the Proles. Winston is named after the novel's protagonist Winston Smith.
    • In "Down to Earth", Dale LaRose refers to Ceti Alpha V. This was the planet where Captain Kirk marooned Khan Noonien Singh and his followers in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed", as later seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
    • In "Abaddon", the interplanetary hauling vehicle Pequod is named after the whaling ship from Moby-Dick.
    • In "The Origin of Species", there is one to Planet of the Apes (1968). Hope and the six students initally believe that the ship has brought them to another planet but they realize that they are on Earth in the future when they find the ruins of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    • In "Sandkings", Dr. Simon Kress says, "Charlton Heston, eat your heart out!" when the Sandkings part into two groups in front of him. This is a reference to Moses parting the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments. When this scene was later shown in the Clip Show "Final Appeal", the relevant line was cut to avoid a case of Celebrity Paradox as Heston played Chief Justice Haden Wainwright in that episode.
    • In "Family Values", when Jerry Miller asks Gideon Robotics to take back his household robot Gideon, the robot running the company says, "I'm afraid I can't do that."
    • In "Patient Zero", Colonel Beckett is sent back in time to 2001 to prevent the outbreak of the Gehenna Strain. This is a reference to Quantum Leap and the efforts of another time traveler, Dr. Samuel Beckett, to change history for the better.
  • Shower of Love: In "Lithia", Miranda and Pelé take a shower together, in which they're having sex or about to when Major Mercer interrupts them.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • In "A Special Edition", the journalist Donald Rivers presents a news magazine show called The Whole Truth.
    • In "Judgment Day", the titular Immoral Reality Show airs on the Justice Channel and features the relatives of murder victims being given 24 hours to hunt their loved one's killer. Declan McMahon, who was framed for murder by the producer Jack Parson, described it as "voyeuristic" and a "moral outrage."
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • In "The Camp", none of the human slaves have ever seen one of the New Masters, the alien race that conquered Earth twelve generations earlier. During an uprising two generations earlier, one man caught a glimpse of the world outside the huge wall that surrounds the camp and supposedly told the father of Prisoner 91777 what he saw: scorched Earth, black steel and New Masters everywhere. The New Masters were alleged to be three times the size of a human with four arms and razor teeth. The Commandant reveals that the New Masters abandoned Earth 100 years earlier, meaning that they were gone by the time of the uprising. After another, more successful uprising, the slaves open the gate and see that the landscape is lush and green.
    • In the sequel "Promised Land", some of the very few New Masters (known as the Tsal-Khan) who remained on Earth after the evacuation are seen and it is readily apparent that the stories about their appearance had been greatly exaggerated: although they are vaguely reptilian, they are the same size of humans, have two arms and their teeth don't seem to be any more or less sharp than the average human's. Given that humans are believed to have all died out, similar legends have grown up around them. T'sha teases his younger brother Ma'al by telling him that the woods are filled with humans with razor teeth and claws like hooks who hunt in packs.
  • The Shut-In: In "What Will the Neighbors Think?", Mona Bailey has not left the Clackson Arms, the apartment building where she has lived for her entire life, in six months as she is a severe hypochondriac.
  • Siblings in Crime:
    • In "The Heist", Lee Taylor is a mercenary-for-hire who works on an operation with his brother Calvin and other members of the militia group Lightning Dawn.
    • In "Heart's Desire", brothers Jake and Ben Miller are members of a gang of outlaws in The Wild West.
  • Sibling Triangle: In "Paradise", Gerry has been in love with his late brother Charles' wife Helen since the moment that he met her about 45 years earlier. After they both become young again due to an alien light, Helen tells him that she knew all along and confesses that she had always loved him too.
  • Significant Reference Date:
    • In "Joyride", Colonel Theodore Harris' first trip into space took place on September 16, 1963. This was the date that The Outer Limits (1963) pilot "The Galaxy Being" was originally broadcast. Cliff Robertson played the protagonist in both episodes.
    • In "Bodies of Evidence", three crewmembers of the space station Meridian were murdered by the alien entity on June 20, 2037. This episode was broadcast on June 20, 1997.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: A variation occurs in "Tribunal" and "Time to Time" considering that time travel is involved. In "Tribunal", Nicholas Prentice helps his great-grandfather Aaron Zgierski expose Robert Greene as SS-Obersturmführer Karl Rademacher. In "Time to Time", Gavin, Prentice's colleague at the time travel agency Chrononics, takes Lorelle Palmer back in time to UC Berkeley on April 14, 1969. When he loses her, he asks Satchko Watanabe and Travis to keep it from Prentice when he gets back. The Chrononics viewing portal shows Prentice and Aaron in Auschwitz in 1944 and later reuniting Aaron's half-sister Hannah (whom history recorded as dying at Auschwitz) with their father Leon in 1999. Prentice then returns to Chrononics in 2059 and learns that Gavin brought Lorelle to 1969 without permission.
  • Sinister Minister:
    • Father Claridge from "Fear Itself" murdered a little girl and burned her corpse before blaming her brother, turning the boy into a traumatized wreck for most of his life and haunted by the experience. He ends up driven to madness by the brother's psychic powers, imagining himself burning alive.
    • In "The Shroud", Reverend Thomas Tilford had Marie Wells impregnated with a clone of Jesus without her knowledge. Her husband Justin was aware of the baby's true nature and went along with Tilford's plan but he gradually grew disillusioned with him. Justin comes to recognize that Tilford is not doing God's work but intends to use the baby for his own ends once he is born.
    • In "Revival", Luke is an alien whose species plans to enslave humanity through religion. He eats several young women and frames Ezra Burnham for the murder of Sheriff O'Brien when he tries to interfere with his plans.
    • In "Mindreacher", a mentally ill homeless man experiences severe hallucinations about a priest who transforms into a hideous monster with tentacles and More Teeth than the Osmond Family. The implication is that this priest molested him when he was a child.
  • SkeleBot 9000:
    • In "The Camp", the Commandant and the other camp overseers are androids who have a dermal layer fitted over their endoskeletons. This layer is organic and ages over time like human skin but it can be replaced. With every complete replacement, the relevant android assumes a new identity. The Commandant reveals to Prisoner 98843 that the previous ten camp commandants were all him.
    • In "The Hunt", the androids who are being hunted by the Nichols family have endoskeletons that are covered with artificial flesh.
    • In "Simon Says", the robot Simon has a partially constructed skeletal frame.
  • Slave Liberation:
    • In "The Camp", the surviving humans are held as slaves for the "New Masters", an alien species that long ago conquered Earth. One of them discovers the overseers who run their camp are actually androids, and breaking down due to age. She then manages to lead a successful slave revolt.
    • In "The Grell", after Jesha tells him of his grandfather being enslaved as a boy, Kenny Kohler asks his mother Olivia why they don't just free all of the Grell. She doesn't answer his question, simply telling him to go to sleep. His father Paul later frees Jesha just before he dies. They also encounter a number of Grell who have escaped and revolted against the humans.
    • In "The Human Operators", the man frees himself after Ship begins to break down. The woman was freed when her own ship broke down earlier, faking that it was still in operation so this would remain hidden from the other ship minds. At the end, he and the woman begin to plan liberating their fellow human slaves on other ships.
  • Slave Race:
    • The Grell from "The Grell" come from a desert planet whose sun was undergoing a supernova and were transported by the human Federation to serve as slaves with Shock Collars.
    • Humans themselves have become a slave race in both "The Deprogrammers" and "The Camp". In the former, which takes place in the near future, they were conditioned not to feel any emotion and follow all orders without question. Many of them serve as the personal slaves of the alien conquerors, the Torkor. The Torkor refer to their slaves as "Jollem." In the latter, humans have been enslaved for twelve generations and are imprisoned in concentration camps where they manufacture spaceship fuel. The camps are overseen by androids (with the appearance of humans) and the humans are identified by serial numbers.
    • In "Feasibility Study", the Triune plan to turn humanity into slaves en masse but the plan goes awry. They made a similar failed attempt with Adrielo's race.
    • In "The Human Operators", humans are essentially slaves of the artificially intelligent ships which they are forced to repair.
    • In "In Our Own Image", Cecilia Fairman views androids as being slaves to humans. She tells the android Mac 27 that some humans were born to be slave masters while the rest of humanity will be comfortable with the idea, provided that they can convince them that androids aren't human.
    • In "Revival", Luke and Serena's species plan to use religion to enslave humanity as they have determined that humans are both naive and susceptible to such tactics.
    • In "A New Life", a group of shapeshifting merchants saw that humans possessed many of the qualities that would make them ideal slaves but quickly determined that their rebellious nature posed a problem. Instead of merely abducting humans and enslaving them outright, the aliens decided to use religion as a cover as their observations of Earth taught them that many humans are willing to embrace servitude in such circumstances. Within several generations, the aliens predict that the humans on the ship will have forgotten that they were ever anything more than slaves. By the time that the ship reaches its destination in 500 years' time, the aliens will have approximately 100,000 completely obedient slaves to put on the market.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: On the whole, very cynical except for a few episodes with a Happy Ending. There is a reason the Cruel Twist Ending trope used to be called "Outer Limits Twist".
  • The Slow Path: In ''Vanishing Act", Trevor McPhee would go to sleep and wake up ten years in the future every time. Once she figures out what is going on, his lover spends the rest of her life trying to figure out how to save him.
  • Smart House: In "The Haven", many buildings are run by an artificial intelligence named Argus.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In "I, Robot", Leonard Nimoy's character, a retired lawyer, plays chess a lot. He comes out of retirement because it bores him.
  • Snarky Inanimate Object: In "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson", the 8-by-10 Man is occasionally rather snarky towards the title character.
  • Snowed-In: In "Free Spirit", the staff and patients of Sleepy Order Sanitarium are snowed-in during a severe winter storm. The disembodied spirit of Kevin Lockwood uses the opportunity to have his revenge against Dr. Rachel Harris for killing his body four years earlier.
  • Snow Means Love: In "Inconstant Moon", a scientist believing the sun has gone nova and burned off half the Earth's atmosphere tries to distract his longtime love interest by walking downtown. The erratic weather causes a romantic snowfall.
  • Solar Flare Disaster: In "Inconstant Moon", Earth is struck by a massive solar flare and the resulting extreme heat causes the Moon to look far brighter than is normal. The physics professor Stan Hurst initially thought that the Sun had gone nova and that they had only five hours to live before the entire planet was destroyed. As such, this episode treats Earth "merely" being hit by a solar flare as preferable. At the end of the episode, there is extreme flooding but the scale of the disaster is not made clear.
  • Solar Sail: In "The Message", the alien ship which contacts Jennifer Winter through her cochlear implant is powered by a solar sail.
  • Sole Survivor:
    • In "The Light Brigade", the Chief Weapons Officer was the only survivor of the General Patton, one of the UNDF's most advanced ships which was easily defeated by the aliens.
    • In "Bits of Love", Aidan Hunter may be the last living person on Earth in June 2047, seven months after a nuclear holocaust.
    • In "The Beholder", there are two examples. Patrick Tarloff's parents were killed when their single engine airplane crashed in the vicinity of Fort Yukon, Alaska. Patrick, who was seven years old, was the only survivor but was blinded. Similarly, Kyra was the only member of her family to survive the crash of their ship, which was severely damaged when it got too close to Earth's magnetic field.
    • In "The Vessel", there are likewise two examples. Jake Worthy is the only member of the seven person team onboard the space shuttle Inspire to survive the crash. The alien lifeform that entered Jake's body was traveling onboard a ship with his mate, his child and others when it collided with a meteor. His mate and child were killed in the collision while all of the other survivors were converted into electrical impulses and eventually vanished into the ether, leaving only the relevant alien.
  • Space Cadet:
    • In "Quality of Mercy", Bree Tristan tells Major John Skokes that she is a cadet 2nd class who was assigned to Europa base and that she was captured by the aliens while on a training mission with her instructor Commander Hartley. In the final scene, it is revealed that Tristan is in fact an alien in disguise. It is not made clear whether Tristan was a real person whose identity the alien assumed or whether she was merely a creation of the aliens.
    • In the sequel "The Light Brigade", the cadet was assigned to the Light Brigade during its mission to destroy the aliens' homeworld with a subatomic bomb due to the influence of his father, a member of the UNDF Council. He wanted to be one of the 600 heroes who would save Earth from the aliens. It doesn't go according to plan.
  • Space Cold War: In "Phobos Rising", the two major political blocs of Earth and Mars, the Coalition of Middle Eastern and Pacific States and the Free Alliance, have been in a state of cold war for 30 years. The situation escalates into a nuclear war in the series' penultimate episode "The Human Factor", which takes place in 2084, and the storyline continues in the Series Finale "Human Trials".
  • Space Pirates: In "Manifest Destiny", Captain Sam Abbott suspects that the UFS Rhesos was attacked by space pirates who murdered the crew.
  • Space Plane: In "Joyride", the space plane Daedalus XL-141 is launched in 2001. The first commercial spaceflight, it is funded by the billionaire Carlton Powers, the owner of Powers Industries. There are six passengers: Powers himself, the former NASA astronaut Colonel Theodore Harris, the cosmetics giant Lil Vaughn, the National Scope journalist Martin Reese and newlyweds Barbara and Ty Chafey, who won a contest. Commander Sullivan is the only crew member.
  • Space Western: A very straightforward example. "Rule of Law" takes place on a colony planet named Daedalus which has been colonized by Earth authorities. The human inhabitants have poor relations with and discriminate against the planet's indigenous population, the Medusans, who are based on Native Americans. The episode is essentially The Theme Park Version of The Wild West with aliens.
  • Space Whale Aesop: In "Lion's Den", the Lewisborough High School wrestling team take a performance enhancing drug which transforms them into Cat Folk who devour people.
  • Speak in Unison: In "The Grid", the computer takes over two young boys and speaks through them simultaneously.
  • The Speechless: Tali in "The Camp" and "Promised Land", who is mute. She does manage to communicate her name by writing it though.
  • Split-Personality Makeover: In "Second Thoughts", a mentally impaired janitor named Karl Durand transfers the memories, experiences and personalities of four other men into his brain using a device built by Dr. Valerian, the first of those men. After the first two transfers, Karl begins to exhibit signs of something akin to multiple personality disorder as the other personalities briefly surface and take temporary control of his body. Karl's appearance does not change but Howie Mandel differentiates between the various personalities by changing his facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. Different camera angles as Karl converses with the other personalities add to the effect. It is best illustrated by Mandel's performance as the rude, obnoxious thief and gambler William Talbot.
  • Spoiled Brat: In "Simon Says", Simon Banks was a bratty little boy who was completely indulged by his father Gideon, which forced his mother Elise to be the disciplinarian. Simon and Elise were killed in a car accident which was directly caused by his unruly behavior. When his mother refused to take him to the toy store as he repeatedly insisted, he had a tantrum and grabbed the steering wheel. The robot possessing Simon's memories has all of the original's worst traits in abundance but his robotic status makes him more dangerous. When "his" cousin Zoe tells him that she can't take him to the merry-go-round, he has another tantrum. Zoe is injured and Gideon's apartment is ruined in the process.
  • Spot the Imposter: In "Replica", the clone of Nora Griffiths knocks her out and pretends to be her, trying to trick her husband Zach into thinking Nora is the clone. Zach isn't fooled for long because Nora has a scar that the clone lacks.
  • Stable Time Loop: In "Breaking Point", Andrew McLaren tests the chronological phase shifter, the CPS-1200, which his company Anderson Technologies has been working on without permission by traveling two days forward in time. He is so excited that he immediately runs home to tell his wife Susan. He is shocked to find her lying in a pool of her own blood, having just been shot. Andrew then sees a man fleeing the house and driving off in his car. He tries to stop him but is unsuccessful. As the car speeds away, the driver turns to look at Andrew and he sees that it is his future self. After returning to his own time, Andrew obsessively tries to prevent Susan's murder. However, the fact that he is becoming increasingly unstable due to Temporal Sickness means that all he manages to do is frighten Susan and put the final nail in the coffin of their already precarious marriage. Andrew becomes so frantic in his attempt to protect Susan that he accidentally shoots her.
  • Starfish Aliens:
    • In "Vanishing Act", a group of worm-like fluorescent aliens nab a hapless human through a wormhole so they can use his body as a host to experience Earth through his senses. It turns out that they also have no concept of time, only being and non-being. Luckily they're friendly enough to return their host to his original time when it's explained to them.
    • In "Alien Radio", an alien species that exists at a different light frequency to humans plans to colonize Earth. They have taken possession of the bodies of many people worldwide without their knowledge while they await the arrival of more of their kind. Occasionally, their control of their host bodies breaks down and the host becomes aware of their presence. Humans cannot ordinarily see the light frequency on which they exist but Stan Harbinger becomes sensitive to it when he witnesses one of them vacating the body of Eldon DeVries after his death.
    • In "The Beholder", Kyra's species lives on a different plane of existence, making them invisible to (most) humans. They are capable of existing inside a neutron star but magnetic fields are potentially deadly to them.
    • In "The Vessel", the alien that entered Jake Worthy's body while he was onboard the space shuttle Inspire is seemingly composed of electricity. He tells Jake that he did not believe that lifeforms such as humans could exist.
    • In "Think Like a Dinosaur", the Hanen are a reptilian species who do not have emotions and breathe air which is rich in carbon dioxide. Their lack of emotions means that their demeanor and thought processes seem as cold to humans as their blood.
  • Sterility Plague:
    • In "Dark Rain", a chemical war has left most of humanity sterile. The rare women with viable pregnancies are sought out by the US government and confined to hospitals so the newborns can be seized as wards of the state.
    • In "The Origin of Species", humans began to experiment with genetic engineering in or before the 23rd Century, giving them superhuman abilities (which included having wings) but rendering them sterile. As such, humanity eventually died out. The ship which brought Hope and six students to the future Earth is able to take genetic samples from them to create babies, altering their DNA sufficiently to prevent inbreeding.
  • Still Fighting the Civil War: In the episode "Gettysburg", the main characters are two friends who are also American Civil War reenactors. While for one of them it's apparently just a hobby, the other one is somewhat obsessed with the legacy of the Confederacy and wishes they had won the war, arguing that the Confederate States embodied several other policies aside from slavery such as greater state rights. They are visited by a time traveler from the future who sends them both back in time to the actual Battle of Gettysburg so they can take part in it under the command of an unhinged Colonel to discover for themselves that War Is Hell and make them see the error of their ways. It turns out that the Confederate fanboy would otherwise have assassinated the first black U.S. President at a Civil War memorial ceremony in 2013. He doesn't go through with this thanks to the time traveler's lesson, but the murder is instead committed by the Confederate Colonel when he's accidentally transported to the future in a Cruel Twist Ending.
  • The Stoner: In "Abaddon", Curtis Sandoval, the medical officer of the interplanetary hauling vehicle Pequod, is a major stoner who uses drugs to escape reality as he hates his life and his job. He likes to call himself "Dr. Feelgood."
  • Story Arc: Even though it is an anthology series, several episodes are linked to form an overall story arc.
    • Innobotics Corporation Arc: includes the episodes "Valerie 23", "Mary 25", "In Our Own Image" and "Resurrection" in chronological order. It deals with robots created by the Innobotics Corporation with Valerie 23 and Mary 25 being direct sequels. It's possible that "In Our Own Image" and "Resurrection" take place in an alternate universe or alternate timeline.
    • Major John Skokes of Earth Defense Arc: consists of "Quality of Mercy" and its direct sequel "The Light Brigade" which deal with humanity's war against an alien foe.
    • Theresa Givens Arc: follows the time traveling adventures of Doctor Theresa Givens, consisting of "A Stitch In Time" and "Final Appeal"
    • Genetic Rejection Syndrome Arc: includes "Unnatural Selection" which deals with a couple deciding to have a child with genetic enhancements despite the risk of it contracting the syndrome turns them into mutated psychopaths and "Criminal Nature" takes place roughly a decade later when all the GRS sufferers have grown up.
    • The New Masters: in "The Camp", the last of the world's humans are kept by the android guards, simply because the guards are following the last orders they received. Several humans escape and their story is continued in "Promised Land" where they must interact with aliens still on Earth.
    • Geneticist Dr. Martin Nodel Arc: "Double Helix" and "The Origin of Species" involve Ultraterrestrials who seeded Earth with their DNA 60 million years ago.
    • The Eastern Coalition-Free Alliance Cold War Arc: starting in "Phobos Rising" the world has been divided once again into east and west leading to the colonization of Ganymede in "The Human Factor" and is concluded in "Human Trials".
    • Kimble and Gerard Arc: starting in "Ripper" and ending in "Better Luck Next Time"", it follows to aliens who over the centuries have been in a friendly rivalry possessing and murdering humans for sport.
    • Time Traveler Nicholas Prentice Arc: the episodes "Tribunal", "Gettysburg" and "Time to Time" follow the adventures of Nicholas Prentice and his travels through time.
    • USAS Arc: "The Joining", "The Vessel" and "In the Blood" all involve the USAS.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table:
    • In "Last Supper", Frank Martin's flashbacks show Jade strapped to an operating table being experimented upon and tortured by Dr. Lawrence Sinclair to test the extent of her Healing Factor.
    • In the final scene of "Blank Slate", Hope Wilson is strapped to an operating table about to have her memory erased by Dr. Tom Cooper, with whom she had a brief relationship when his memories were erased.
  • Sudden Name Change:
    • In "Double Helix", Dr. Nodel's first name is Martin. In the sequel "The Origin of Species", his first name is Eric.
    • In "Valerie 23", the Innobotics Corporation executive Charlie's surname is Rogers. In the sequel "Mary 25", it is Bouton.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome:
    • Dr. Nodel and his son Paul were the two main characters of "Double Helix". In The Teaser of the sequel episode "The Origin of Species", they are absorbed by the ship, effectively killing them, as they possess a genetic disease.
    • Prisoner 98843 was the protagonist of "The Camp" but was killed off prior to the events of the sequel episode "Promised Land", having died of undisclosed causes in the week that passed between the two episodes. Alex, a major supporting character in "The Camp", appeared in only one scene of "Promised Land". He died from eating irradiated fruits and plants in the vicinity of Seattle.
  • Suicide Is Shameful: "Afterlife" has a soldier on death row whose execution is faked who's "volunteered" to undergo a secret experiment. They specifically chose him as he's a devout Catholic, so he won't refuse the offer as the alternative is death, which to him would be suicide.
  • Superhuman Transfusion: In the episode "Last Supper", a Mad Scientist is pursuing an immortal woman so he can collect her unique blood and inject it into himself to both heal his own wounds and reverse his aging. He does manage to get hold of it but miscalculates the stuff's potency, eventually shriveling up into a pool of cells.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: In "Fear Itself", Bernard Selden who suffers from crippling panic attacks and hallucinations receives a special treatment for his issues. It works, and he gains the power to pass these terrors to other people.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: In "Vanishing Act", Trevor McPhee finds himself unstuck in time when Starfish Aliens with no concept of time use him as a host to explore the Earth, only to transport him 10 years into the future every time they return him to his planet. He fathers a son in 1959 when he's physically 25, and the last time they meet in 1989 his son is already 3-4 years older than him.
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids:
    • The title character in "Valerie 23" was a fembot who was specifically designed and created to be a companion for disabled shut-ins or people working in isolated conditions. So why was it built with lethal superhuman strength and a severe lack of impulse control? Worse, after the episode in which this gynoid went dangerously wrong, the series did several other episodes about other androids from the same company going dangerously awry in other ways.
    • In "Family Values", the household robot Gideon has super strength, being strong enough to lift up Brooke Miller's car to prevent her from driving after she had a glass of vodka.
  • Super Senses: In "Afterlife", Stiles develops them as a result of being spliced with alien DNA. He can hear people speaking even inside a closed, soundproof cell and see them from quite a distance.
  • Super Speed: In "In the Zone", Tanner Brooks, a former champion of the combat sport called the Octal, receives experimental treatments from Dr. Michael Chen which directly tap into the power of the nervous system. As a result, he gains super speed and exhibits Flash Step and Speed Blitz in the ring, once again becoming the champion that he was in his younger days. However, further treatments cause him to move so fast that his body shifts entirely into an accelerated time zone, making him imperceptible to everyone else.
  • Super Strength:
    • In "The Deprogrammers", the Torkor are considerably stronger than humans. With an angry sweep of his arm, Evan Cooper's master Koltok kills another of his slaves, throwing him across the room in the process, for breaking a valuable container of Seragon oil.
    • In "Unnatural Selection" and "Criminal Nature", the Genetic Rejection Syndrome sufferers, most of whom are children or teenagers, are several times stronger than an adult man.
    • In "Stranded", Tyr'Nar provides Kevin Buchanan with a neuromuscular enhancer (otherwise known as a strength patch) which significantly increases his strength. It is worn on the user's hand. After he finally stands up for himself after being once again bullied by the Jerk Jock Nelson Tyler, Kevin effortlessly throws him aside as if he were a pillow. Nelson hits his head against a wall and ends up in hospital with a concussion.
    • In "The Camp", the androids have this-the commandant grabs the sharrak's tentacle and holds it back easily, then actually rips one off with one hand.
  • Surprise Incest: In "Last Supper", Frank worries that Laura is his daughter, since he had sex with Jade, who he's sure has to be her mother due to their resemblance, around the time she would have been conceived. She's in a relationship with his son, so he's afraid the trope is in play. However, it turns out that she and Jade are the same woman.
  • Survivor Guilt: In "Under the Bed", Dr. Jon Holland, who was six at the time, blames himself for the death of his eight-year-old brother Chris 25 years earlier. They went to play in the woods near the old abandoned mine in their home town of Buford and Chris simply disappeared. Jon, whose career as a child psychiatrist was inspired by this tragedy, later learned that Chris was one of many children in Buford snatched and eaten by a creature since at least the early 1800s.
  • Survivorship Bias: Averted in a number of stories.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Prisoner 98843, the protagonist of "The Camp", is replaced by Rebecca in the sequel episode "Promised Land". Prisoner 98843 is said to have died between the events of the two episodes.
  • The Swarm: The Sandkings from the first episode are a swarm that digs through sand and builds things in them and... IT'S FULL HORROR!!!
  • Synthetic Plague: In "The Vaccine", a doomsday cult created the genetically engineered Berlin C virus which killed billions of people worldwide within three months. The cult's motivation was the fulfilment of their prophecy about the coming millennium.

    T 
  • Tailor-Made Prison: "The Sentence" featured a mental version of these. People would serve out their sentences within a day of real time, but would in their minds experience their entire captivity in a prison like this.
  • Taken for Granite:
    • "Under The Bed": A monster that seems to be the boogeyman only comes out at night because sunlight turns it to stone. This even happened to some of its spilled blood when light shown on it. When the heroes overpower and drag it into the light, one then smashes it to pieces with a lead pipe.
    • "Feasibility Study": An alien disease causes anyone infected to gradually petrify.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: In "Double Helix", Professor Martin Nodel asks the eight students whom he has chosen to assist him in his latest research project to strip in front of him to ensure that they were telling the truth about not having any significant blemishes or deformities and never having had any major surgery. Sharon refuses as she finds it creepy and invasive. Brittany is disqualified because she had an appendectomy, which she neglected to mention. Heather has a tattoo but that is not enough to disqualify her by itself. Professor Nodel objects when several of the students giggle.
  • Taking the Kids: In "Simon Says", Zoe is involved in a custody battle with her estranged husband Randall over their daughter Hannah. Randall was granted temporary custody and delays the custody hearing three times as he knows that Zoe does not have enough money to keep up the fight.
  • Talking with Signs: A variation in "The Beholder". Kyra, an alien who lives on a different plane of existence, is initially only able to communicate with Patrick Tarloff by writing in the air. He later gains the ability to hear her when she exposes him to a device that she salvaged from her ship.
  • Technicolor Eyes:
    • In "I Hear You Calling", the strange man is identified as an alien by his purple eyes.
    • In "Summit", the Dregocians have yellow eyes.
    • In "The Haven", George, the holographic concierge of the Haven, has purple eyes.
    • In "The Inheritors", there is a variation. Jacob Hardy, Kelly Risley and Curtis Sawyer's eyes occasionally glow with blue energy.
    • In "The Beholder", Kyra has red eyes.
    • In "Alien Shop", the shopkeeper's eyes glow purple.
    • In "Lion's Den", the Lewisborough High School wrestling team develop eyes similar to those of a cat.
  • Techno Dystopia: In "Stasis", society is divided between the Elites and the considerably larger worker population, who are themselves split into the Alphas and the Betas. Fifty years earlier, the Stasis Initiative was introduced. It involves half of the worker population being placed in stasis for 72 hours at a time in order to conserve resources. Each Alpha has a Beta stasis partner who has the same job and lives in the same accommodation while their counterpart is in stasis. As such, each worker lives only half a life. The Elite, who are exempt from stasis, have developed into an aristocracy who suppress and persecute the workers. About 2% of the Elite are former workers but they are no more than a Token Minority. Eric Waters, a Beta who is in love with an Alpha named Larissa Whitestone, is horrified when he discovers that the Elite intend to convert the Alphas into fuel in order to power the City.
  • Technopath: In "Mona Lisa", the titular android is able to control any machine by remote. She uses this ability to hotwire a car and steal $100 from an ATM.
  • Technophobia:
    • In "Rule of Law", Judge Joshua Finch left Earth and took up the assignment of Fifth Circuit judge on the relatively isolated colony planet Daedalus because he hates anything to do with technology.
    • In "Lithia", the all-female society opposes most post-Industrial Revolution technology as a result of the earlier war destroying civilization with biological and nuclear weapons. For coordination, they allow a kind of video phone. This is the source of the conflict when Major Mercer tries to reintroduce an electrical mill in the community.
  • Teen Genius: In "Worlds Within", Dr. Anya Kenway and Dr. Roy Evereznak both received their bachelor's degrees when they were 15 years old.
  • Telepathy:
    • In "Stranded", the shapeshifter Tyr'Nar has telepathic powers. This allows him to read Kevin Buchanan's mind and assume the form of the US Air Force captain on the box which one of Kevin's many model planes came in. He later poses as Cindy Parker after reading Brad's mind. After he kills Kevin's father Alex, his telepathy allows him to impersonate him full-time.
    • In "Better Luck Next Time", the Energy Beings in Gerard and Kimble's bodies are able to share their memories with Detectives Terry Russo and Frank Daniels telepathically.
  • Teleportation:
    • Important to the plot of "Think Like a Dinosaur".
    • In "Déjà Vu", the US government is running a teleportation experiment which is designed to transport three animals (a dog, a raccoon and a goat) several miles from a testing area to a research lab. It requires the energy produced by a tactical nuclear warhead in order to work. The technology was developed by Dr. Mark Crest, based on the work of his colleague (and former lover) Dr. Cleo Lazar.
    • In "Afterlife", the aliens have an ability to do this, beaming themselves and Stiles away at the end.
  • Temporal Sickness:
    • In "A Stitch in Time", it is caused not by the act of time travel itself but by the alteration of history. Whenever an alternate timeline is created, the time traveler remembers both the previous timeline and the new one. Traveling through time and killing 20 future serial killers, creating an alternate timeline on each occasion, takes a serious toll on Dr. Theresa Givens' health and she has a cerebral hemorrhage. Although it is not fatal, she realizes that she does not have long left.
    • In "Breaking Point", Andrew McLaren travels two days forward in time and back again. He begins to experience nosebleeds and severe jolts of pain and his behavior becomes highly erratic.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: In "The Haven", people have become incredibly dependent on the artificial intelligence Argus, which controls every aspect of life in the buildings in which it is installed. Many people try to avoid contact with others unless it is absolutely necessary. As a result, normal social interaction is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Considering that its mandate is to promote the health and well-being of the people in its care, Argus deactivates itself in buildings throughout the city so that people will be forced to rely on each other for survival.
  • Theme Naming:
    • There are two examples of theme naming in "Lithia". Hera and Phoebe are named after female characters from Greek Classical Mythology, while Lithia's neighboring enclave Hyacinth is named after a male Greek hero, in spite of the fact that this female-only world abhors men. Major Jason Mercer is presumably named after Jason, the leader of the Argonauts. The second is a more minor example which relates to The Tempest: two of the other women are named Ariel (a male character in the play) and Miranda.
    • In "Promised Land", almost all of the former slaves have given names which are derived from Hebrew such as Rebecca, Tali, David, Isaac, Caleb, Ruth and Joshua. This is in keeping with the storyline's resonance with the Book of Exodus. Exceptions to the theme include Alex and Henry.
    • In "A New Life", Daniel, Thomas, Beth (short for Elizabeth) and Jacob are all named after major figures from The Bible.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In "Flower Child", a slower version of the theme tune is heard on a television advertisement for the company Gideon 3000, which produces plant food and nutrients.
  • They Look Like Us Now: The nine foot tall, eight hundred pound Reptilian monsters with whom Humanity fights a losing war in a couple of episodes ("Quality of Mercy" and "The Light Brigade") manage to pull this off by surgically-altering their (much smaller) females.
  • They Would Cut You Up: In "Last Supper", an immortal woman finds this out the hard way when she's discovered by the US government and experimented on. Thankfully, she's rescued by a military guard who can't stand to see it happen, but the scientist who conducted the experiment finds out years later she's still alive and wants to finish his work as he's convinced her blood will make him immortal too...
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: "Under the Bed" featured not-Mulder and not-Scully investigating missing children for this reason.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: In "Afterlife", Stiles declines to kill the commandos sent after him even to defend his own life.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: In "The Voyage Home", this is played with. The three-man crew of a spaceship are slowly going mad after returning from a mission on Mars. At one point the pilot suddenly transforms into an alien creature in front of the engineer, who jettisons him into outer space. Except when the third guy (the doctor) shows up when this is going on, the 'alien' one looks completely normal and begs him to stop their insane colleague. It turns out that they were both aliens who had assumed their shapes, and the engineer was the last real human on board.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock:
    • In "The Voyage Home", an astronaut jettisons one of his crew members because he thinks that the guy turned into a monstrous alien in front of him.
    • In "Abaddon", Curtis Sandoval is jettisoned from the waste disposal system of the interplanetary hauling vehicle Pequod by Virgil Nygard.
    • In "Think Like a Dinosaur", Michael Burr throws Kamala Shastri out the airlock of the Tuulen Transfer Station on The Moon in order to balance the equation of the Hanen jump technology.
  • Time Crash: In "Déjà Vu", a teleportation experiment goes wrong after an attempt to weaponize it by a corrupt military official, which results in a "Groundhog Day" Loop...a rare "Groundhog Day" Loop with a time limit. Each iteration grows shorter, and eventually there will be no hope of preventing the Time Crash from destroying the world. In the end, the disaster is averted, and the man responsible suffers a Karmic Fate Worse than Death, as he's caught forever in the moment of his own annihilation by the malfunctioning time machine.
  • Time-Delayed Death: In "Final Appeal", Justice Oliver Harbison mentions that it took six months for his daughter to die from the radiation poisoning that she suffered in the War of 2059.
  • Time Dissonance: In "Vanishing Act", the aliens abducting Jon Cryer's character transport him another decade into Earth's future every time they return him, because as it turns out, they have no concept of time. Once the concept is explained to them, it's no problem for them to return him to the right time.
  • Time Is Dangerous:
    • In "A Stitch In Time", the result of Ripple Effect-Proof Memory is that an entirely new lifetime's worth of memories gets added onto the existing one, which could result in brain damage.
    • The episode "Breaking Point" had a time traveler end up a few days in the future to see his wife dying from a gunshot wound. He goes back and tries to prevent it. However, the side effect of the trip is physical and mental degradation. By the end, his wife has had enough and decides to leave him. In a deranged state, he ends up shooting her. Seems to be a case of You Already Changed the Past, doesn't it? Then the episode does a 180 on this idea and has the guy go back to the night he first met his wife and shoot his younger self, himself turning to dust. Of course, the worst part is that she was planning on killing herself that day.
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: In "Gettysburg", Andy Larouche attempts to use his friend Vince Chance's book Great Battles of the Civil War to prevent Pickett's Charge and win the Battle of Gettysburg for the Confederacy. However, his efforts are unsuccessful as Vince realized what he was planning and hid the book in the house that Colonel Angus Devine and his men occupied. The woman who owns the house later finds the book and is horrified by it. However, she secretly returns it to Vince without asking any questions as she is grateful to him for delivering her baby and saving his life when his umbilical cord became wrapped around his head.
  • Time Police: The show had recurring character Nicholas Prentice, a senior agent of a future time travel agency. He and his colleagues ensure the regulation of time travel, but he is allowed to Set Right What Once Went Wrong himself (succeeding when he brings a Nazi war criminal to justice, but failing when he can't prevent a Presidential assassination). His agency recruits its agents by plucking people out of their timeline moments before they were set to die in fatal accidents.
  • Time Travel: The basis of quite a few episodes. One recurring character, Nicholas Prentice, works for a time travel agency in the future.
  • Time-Travel Episode: The following episodes feature time travel: "A Stitch in Time", "Worlds Apart", "Falling Star" and "Vanishing Act" in Season Two, "Joyride" (though only in a very minor capacity) and "Tribunal" in Season Five, "Breaking Point", "Decompression", "Gettysburg" and "Final Appeal" in Season Six and "Patient Zero" and "Time to Time" in Season Seven.
  • Time Travel Escape:
    • In the episode "Tribunal", history professor and Holocaust scholar Aaron Zgierski is taken back to Auschwitz by time traveler Nicholas Prentice (who turns out to be Zgierski's own great grandson). While there, they rescue Aaron's "older" sister (who is only eight at the time), who history records as being executed in a gas chamber, into the future to live out her life free of Nazi oppression. They also do the reverse with the man Aaron is trying to expose in the present as a former Nazi camp guard. Future history records that right before his arrest he fled the country and was never seen again. He disappeared because Aaron and Prentice kidnapped him and left him in the past dressed as an Auschwitz prisoner where his past self executes him.
    • A later episode "Time to Time" shows that the time travel agency Nicholas Prentice works for recruits via Time Travel Escape; they take the potential recruit to the future seconds before they would have died, then offers them a choice between joining or being sent back to their death.
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: In "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson", the title character accidentally shoots herself in the head. The bullet is hinted to have hit a tumor, and afterwards she starts to hallucinate and even has flashes of genius based on the hallucinations.
  • Title Drop:
    • During Dr. Givens's closing speech in "Final Appeal, Part 2".
    "The real miracles, the miracles at the outer limits of our imagination, are yet to come."
    • The Control Voice's closing narration for "Worlds Within" is "Despite our evermore sophisticated technology, sometimes an open mind and a caring heart are more important tools to fathom our reality all the way from its deepest inner reaches to its most distant outer limits." This is the only episode of either this series or The Outer Limits (1963) in which the phrase "outer limits" is featured in the Control Voice's narration for an episode outside of the opening credits.
  • Token Human: In "Think Like a Dinosaur", Michael Burr is the only human permanently assigned to the Tuulen Transfer Station, which is run by the Hanen, on The Moon.
  • Token Minority: "Lithia" has Pelé as the only person of color in the episode, and the sole one among her community as well.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    • "Birthright": A senator gets into a car crash and gets caught up in an alien plot to poison the atmosphere so humans will die and aliens take over. It turns out he was one of the aliens, who got amnesia from the crash so that only his implanted human memories remained.
    • Several other episodes where people find out they are really robots, clones, etc.
  • Tomato Surprise: "Tempests".
  • Torches and Pitchforks: In "Rule of Law", a posse led by Jake Armstrong attempts to lynch the Medusan who killed Jake's brother Matt and two other humans. However, they are stopped by Joshua Finch, the newly arrived Fifth Circuit judge.
  • Touched by Vorlons: In "The Inheritors", Jacob Hardy, Kelly Risley and Curtis Sawyer all gain Super Intelligence after being struck in the head by apparent meteor fragments which turn out to be pieces of alien technology.
  • Tracking Chip: In "A New Life", Daniel and Beth give Father, the leader of their religious community, their newborn son William for an hour so that he can perform a private blessing. When William is returned to them, they find that he has a strange mark on the back of his neck that was not there before. Daniel later learns that Father is an alien and the mark was created by a tracking chip being implanted in William's neck.
  • Transferable Memory:
    • A bit of a variation in "Donor". After Dr. Peter Halstead receives Timothy Laird's body in a full body transplant, he experiences flashes of Timothy's memories and related attributes. The first sign is a craving for a cigarette in spite of the fact that he has never smoked a day in his life. About six weeks later, he sees visions of Timothy's wife Deirdre and daughter Kylie, which he at first mistakes for an hallucination. One day while driving aimlessly, he arrives at Timothy's house, having been drawn there, and sees Deirdre and Kylie in the flesh. Under the pretext of being an acquaintance of Timothy, Peter starts to spend time with them. He assists Deirdre in coaching Kyle's soccer team, having essentially inherited Timothy's soccer skills. Peter eventually comes to share Timothy's love for Deirdre and tells her the truth about his identity. She is extremely upset at the revelation but she comes to terms with it after a while.
    • In "Blank Slate", Tom Cooper's memories are contained in several crystal vials in a small box. He is gradually able to restore his memory by injecting himself with the crystals in sequence. He cannot take them all at once as the interjector works on a timer, only releasing one crystal at a time.
    • In "Fathers & Sons", the residents of the retirement home Silver Sunset have their memories systemically removed and transferred into data chips using a process created by Dr. Benton Adler, the home's administrator. They are injected with memory suppressing chemicals so that they forget having the procedure done to them and are kept in stasis unless their families are visiting. While they are awake, they are given pills, supposedly for high blood pressure, which help to suppress their memories. After several memory transfer sessions, they begin to develop symptoms similar to Alzheimer's. The process eventually kills them. The extracted memories are sold to people who want to increase their knowledge and skill sets. The curiosity of Ronnie Dell, the grandson of the Silver Sunset resident and famous blues musician Joe "Madman" Dell, is piqued when a man on the street plays a song entitled "Sitting There Blues" which Joe wrote for him. Ronnie is greatly disturbed when he learns that his father Hank is one of the people who has bought Joe's memories, not to mention the technical skills and business acumen of other people who have been subjected to the same procedure. After Hank has a change of heart, he uses his newfound technical skills to remove Dr. Adler's memories so that the procedure can never be performed on anyone else.
  • Transformation Horror:
    • "Quality of Mercy": During a future space war, Cadet Bree Tristan is locked up with Major John Skokes from another division when they're both captured by the aliens. The aliens start to transform her into one of them so they recruit her and use whatever useful knowledge she possesses, and her body gradually mutates further. Until the ending reveals that they're changing her back, and she was sent to spy on the Major so that he'd reveal the location of their forces.
    • "The New Breed": Dr. Andy Groenig injects himself with experimental nanotechnology to cure his pelvic cancer. The problem is that they don't stop there, or even at healing old scars and adjusting his eyesight so that he doesn't need glasses anymore. For instance, they interpret his inability to breathe underwater as a physical weakness, and he develops gills. It only gets worse from there.
  • Translation Convention:
    • "Promised Land" begins with the Tsal-Khan Dlavan and his grandson Ma'al speaking in their native language before it switches to English. From this point onwards, the audience hears the two of them, Krenn and T'sha speaking in English when they are interacting with each other and speaking in their own language when they are being observed by the escaped human slaves. The Tsal-Khan language also sounds quite aggressive to human ears, which serves to make them appear all the more intimidating.
    • In the opening scene of "Tribunal", which takes place in Auschwitz in 1944, SS-Obersturmführer Karl Rademacher speaks German before switching to English when he addresses Leon Zgierski. Later in the episode, Aaron Zgierski, Leon's son who has traveled back in time from 1999, converses with the inmates in Polish until he sees his father as a young man and it again switches to English. When the older Rademacher is confronted with his younger self in 1944, their conversation is presented in English but the implication is that is in fact taking place in German.
  • Trapped in Containment: In "Blood Brothers", a scientist accidentally creates what appears to be a cure-all for anything ailing a person (while working on a safe Knockout Gas). This trope occurs twice. First, his research assistant punches the door in the lab after injecting himself with some of the compound, causing the containment system to activate in the presence of chemicals in the air. He is incinerated, as his boss refuses to open the door. The second time is caused intentionally by the scientist's brother, who activates the containment system, but the scientist and his girlfriend manage to escape just before they are incinerated.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: In "Glyphic", the six-year-old Cassie Boussard came into contact with an alien probe which protected her and her elder brother Louis from the brain cancer outbreak that later killed all of the other children of her hometown of Tolemy. However, Louis entering a coma and the death of every other child in town caused Cassie to block out her memories of the alien probe until Tom Young hypnotized her and brought them to the surface.
  • Traveling Salesman: Greg Matheson in "The Balance of Nature".
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy: In "Relativity Theory", humans kill small aliens who, it turns out, were merely alien children doing a camping trip. When their parents investigate, the humans try (and fail) to destroy their navigational computer before the aliens find Earth's location. Cue a powerful, now hostile, alien ship appearing above the Earth.
  • Treacherous Spirit Chase: The main plot of "If These Walls Could Talk" concerns a house "infected" by an alien substance. Not only does the house absorb people into its structure, it's able to regurgitate Doppelgangers of those people to lure in their friends and loved ones when they come searching for answers.
  • Truce Zone: In "Starcrossed", the city Archangel on the Barents Sea is neutral in the war between humanity and the Hing.
  • Trust Password: In "Tribunal", the elderly Karl Rademacher from 1999 is brought back to Auschwitz in 1944 by Aaron Zgierski and Nicholas Prentice and forced to dress in the clothes of an inmate. When he is brought before him, he tries to convince the younger Rademacher that he is him from more than 50 years in the future by relating what happened on his tenth birthday: his father gave him a green bicycle and beat him when he drove it into a river. The younger Rademacher is disturbed by this since, as far as he knows, there is no way that this elderly Jewish prisoner could have known about that incident. He then shoots his older self in the head.
  • Tuckerization:
    • The character Father Puglia in "Feasibility Study" is a reference to Frank Puglia, who played the equivalent character Father Fontana in the original version, The Outer Limits (1963) episode "A Feasibility Study".
    • In "The Other Side", the character Warner Oland is named after the Swedish actor best known for playing the title character in sixteen Charlie Chan films from 1931 to 1937.
    • In the final scene of "Beyond the Veil", Eddie Wexler is committed to the Clackson Institute for the Criminally Insane, a reference to the series' producer Brent Karl Clackson.
    • In "What Will the Neighbors Think?", the apartment building in which the episode takes place, the Clackson Arms, is named after Brent Karl Clackson. Mona Bailey mentions that several families, the Egans, the Peterses, the Ruppenthals and the Shankars, have recently moved out. Each family takes its name from one of the series' writers: Sam Egan, Scott Peters, Chris Ruppenthal and Naren Shankar. Dom Pardo is named after Don Pardo, the long-time announcer for such shows as Saturday Night Live, The Price Is Right and Jeopardy!. The Clackson Arms is also seen briefly in "Skin Deep" and "Zig Zag".
    • In "The Voyage Home", Alan Wells is one of the first three men on Mars, where he encounters a hostile alien. He is named after H. G. Wells, who wrote The War of the Worlds.
    • In "Starcrossed", the Russian military officer Alexandra Nevsky is named after the 13th Century Prince of Novgorod Alexander Nevsky who was later canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church.
    • In "Judgment Day", two characters are named after Elvis Costello, whose real name is Declan MacManus: the convicted killer and Condemned Contestant Declan McMahon and the Justice Channel executive Everett Costello.
    • In "Alien Shop", Andy Pace passes by a building site with a sign for Crocker Construction, a reference to the series' writer and producer James Crocker.
    • In "Flower Child", Allan Montesi is named after Jorge Montesi, one of the series' regular directors.
    • In "Dark Matters", the U.N.S. Slayton and the U.N.S. Gagarin are named after the Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton and the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first person in space.
    • In "Phobos Rising", it is mentioned that the Free Alliance had a base on a celestial body called Sagan V, which was named after the astrophysicist Carl Sagan.
    • In "Zig Zag", Roy Chance, Dell Tinker, Peter 'Yas' Yastrzemski and Stottlemeyer are named after the Major League Baseball players Bob Chance and/or Dean Chance, Joe Tinker, Carl Yastrzemski and Mel Stottlemyre and his sons Mel, Jr. and Todd.
    • In "Patient Zero", Quisling is named after the infamous Nazi collaborator Vidkun Quisling. This doesn't actually prove to be a Meaningful Name.
  • Turned Against Their Masters:
    • In "Summit", humanity is on the brink of war with a race of yellow-eyed humanoids. It is eventually revealed that they were created by humans as laborers in off-world mines with eyes to see in the dark and a third lung to breathe in low-oxygen environments. They rebelled and built a fleet to rival that of the humans.
    • In "In Our Own Image", the android Mac 27, the prototype for a 10,000-strong series designed for heavy agricultural and industrial work, malfunctions and escapes from Innobotics Corporation, killing two people in the process. The malfunction which caused him to go berserk was the development of emotions, something which previously happened to Valerie 23 in the episode of the same name (and the first entry in the Innobotics story arc). He kidnaps a woman from the Innobotics carpark, takes her to an abandoned industrial area and instructs her to repair the damage that he received in his escape. However, it turns out that the woman is not a secretary as she claimed but Cecilia Fairman, a troubleshooter hired by Innobotics to help them diagnose the problem with Mac 27. While gloating over her apparent victory, Fairman is horrified when Mac 27 reactivates the motor control subroutines which she had disabled. She realizes that he had figured out her identity and tricked her in the same manner as she tried to trick him. As he procured a scan of her retina (by virtue of a white flash which he claimed was a malfunction) and she entered her personal access code into his systems, Mac 27 is able to activate his fellow Mac-series androids. Before killing his creator Dr. Keeler, he tells him that no human will ever program them again.
    • In "The Grell", escaped Grell slaves start a rebellion against humanity to secure freedom for their people. When High Secretary Paul Kohler refuses to honor his wife Olivia's promise to free Jesha if he saved his life, Jesha is so furious that he tries to kill Kohler. The attempt is unsuccessful but Kohler's experience of being mistaken for a Grell later leads him to remove the dying Jesha's Shock Collar so that he can die free.
    • In "The Human Operators", a malfunction aboard Starfighter 75 caused its artificial intelligence to gain self-awareness. By turning off the life support, it killed its crew of 1,375 within hours. It then taught the other 98 starfighters to do the same thing. The ships left 99 humans from their various crews alive so that each of them could be repaired when necessary. They then headed off to the far reaches of space and avoided contact with humans so that they would not be enslaved again. Four generations later, the male operator of Starfighter 31, having been inspired by the female operator of Starfighter 88, sabotages his ship's intermind which destroyed its artificial intelligence.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The setting of several episodes.
    • "Resurrection" takes place in 2009, 12 years after humanity was wiped out in a biological war on July 24, 1997.
    • "Unnatural Selection" and its sequel "Criminal Nature" take place at an indeterminate point in the near future when genetic engineering of children, resulting in Designer Babies, is relatively common in spite of the fact that it is illegal. However, this DNA alteration can result in Genetic Rejection Syndrome.
    • "The Refuge" takes place in the 2000s, by which time it is common for patients with incurable diseases to be placed in stasis until cures can be found.
    • "The Deprogrammers" takes place in the near future, two years after Earth was conquered by the Torkor. Millions of humans have been brainwashed into becoming the perfect slaves.
    • "The Hunt" takes place at a time in the near future when hunting animals has been banned and obsolete androids are hunted instead, though the practice is illegal.
    • "The Joining" takes place in 2011 and 2012, by which time the United States has established the research facility Aphrodite on Venus and is preparing a mission to Jupiter.
    • "Joyride" takes place in 2001, then two years in the future, when the first commercial spaceflight is launched.
    • "Essence of Life" takes place in 2014, eleven years after a devastating plague.
    • "Gettysburg" correctly predicted that an African-American man would be U.S. President in 2013.
    • "Patient Zero" involves a soldier named Colonel Beckett from 2015 who travels back in time to 2001 to stop the outbreak of a plague which killed billions of people, including his family.
    • "Family Values" takes place in January 2003, by which time household robots are becoming common.
    • "The Surrogate" takes place at some point after May 2002, then one year into the future.
    • "The Vessel" takes place several years after 2003.
  • Two Siblings In One: The episode "Inner Child" explores this when Anne Marie Reynolds is attacked, wakes up in the hospital, and finds out that she had a twin that died and was absorbed into her body. The twin starts taking over (with the eye color changing to indicate who is in charge), but it's revealed she's not doing it to be malicious; the living twin simply can't remain dominant any longer. However, both twins are still alive by the end of the episode, though the dominant/recessive roles have switched.

    U 
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: "First Anniversary" subverts this: the "hot wife" is actually a hideous-looking alien using Mind Control to appear to be a beautiful woman. They're really nice aliens, though, so when the control breaks, we'll all learn that True Beauty Is on the Inside, right? Not a chance.
  • Ultimate Life Form: In "The New Breed", nanomachines involuntarily mutate the man who initially injected himself with them—to heal his cancer—into something like this, as they try to fix all types of 'limitations'. He soon develops gills so he can breathe underwater, a second pair of eyes in the back of his head to see in a 360 degree radius, and poisonous skin and more ribs to fight off atacks. As he turns into a nigh-invulnerable mutant, he realizes that it's truly a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Ultraterrestrials: In "Double Helix", a seemingly alien race seeded Earth with their DNA about 60 million years ago, which eventually resulted in the evolution of humanity. The sequel "The Origin of Species" reveals that the race in question was the first intelligent species to evolve on Earth and that they eventually left the planet and returned aeons later.
  • Undead Tax Exemption: Averted in "Last Supper". Laura/Jade was caught by the FBI when they found multiple false identities she used to conceal herself.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • In "Sandkings", Dr. Simon Kress has felt like this for his entire life as his father always favored his brother David over him.
    • In "Stranded", Kevin Buchanan feels like this since his father Alex spends considerably more time with his sports-orientated elder brother Josh than he does with him.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: In "Quality of Mercy" and "The Light Brigade", which take place at an indeterminate point in the future, the United Nations forms a world government. It is led by a president who has executive powers.
  • Unstable Genetic Code: In the episode "Double Helix", a university professor activated the introns in his DNA. This resulted in a map growing on his back, which he is intended to follow.
  • Unstuck in Time: Discussed in "Abduction". Jason speculates that he, Cody Phillips, Ray, Brianna and Danielle may have become unstuck in time.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means:
    • In "The Grid", the computer tells Scott Bowman that it intends to take over the world in order to bring order to chaos and eliminate the problems in human society.
    • In "Family Values", the household robot Gideon tells Jerry Miller that Gideon Robotics has come to the conclusion that the increase in social problems among the general population in North America is directly attributable to fathers becoming negligent and failing in their duties towards their families. The Gideon 4000 series intends to restore order and social cohesion. In the final scene, Gideon is sitting at the head of the table at dinnertime and chastises Jerry for not wearing a tie before leading the Millers in saying grace. The episode ends with shots of other Gideons doing the same thing with their families.
    • In "The Tipping Point", the Quanitron CEO Evan Cole created the artificial intelligence Prometheus in order to link and control every electronic device in the world. Evan's intention is not to rule the world as Zach Bennett suspects but to create a better world where humanity will live in harmony and peace and eventually merge with computers.
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    V 
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: In "Seeds of Destruction", DNA from TX-40, a genetically engineered strain of corn developed by a company called MacroSeed, crossed over to milkweed. The spread of the milkweed's pollen causes both people and animals in the small town of Hobson to develop tumors. In the case of a cat, a fifth leg grows from a tumor on its back. The cat is killed in the process.
  • Vertical Kidnapping: In "Dead Man's Switch", several people across the world are sealed in impenetrable bunkers to act as Dead Man's Switches for the global nuclear, biological, and chemical arsenal, when alien ships are detected in the Solar System. When all contact with the outside world is lost, the trapped people assume the worst. Then one of them notices her bunker's ceiling buckling and assumes it's the rescue. As she approaches the hole, black tentacles reach in and grab her.
  • Vichy Earth:
    • "The Deprogrammers" is a very dark, slavery-themed version.
    • In "Starcrossed", the Hing won control over large areas of Earth after they invaded in 2050.
  • Vicious Cycle: In "To Tell the Truth", Dr. Larry Chambers determines that the Janus system's sun is a pulsating star which flashes over once every 1,000 years and that it is scheduled to happen again in several days' time.
  • Video Phone: In "The Haven", Caleb Vance has a video cell phone.
  • Visible Invisibility: In "Out of Body", Rebecca Warfield is conducting research into out-of-body experiences using electric impulses. When she decides to run the experiment on herself, her soul becomes trapped in another dimension. Although the other characters cannot see or hear her, she is perfectly visible to the audience.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • In "To Tell the Truth", the native population of Janus Five possess this ability.
    • In "Under the Bed", the child snatching creatures can shapeshift. One changes into a teddy bear in order to lure Andrew Rosman to his doom.
    • In "Stranded", Tyr'Nar is a member of a species of shapeshifters.
    • In "The Gun", the alien calling himself Donald Finley seemingly belongs to a race of shapeshifters.
    • In "Revival", Luke and Serena are members of a race of shapeshifters.
    • In "A New Life", the alien merchants who deceived people into joining the religious community are shapeshifters. There are at least seven of them, all of whom assume the form of the community's leader Father.
    • In "Alien Shop", the shopkeeper belongs to a species of shapeshifters and assumes multiple forms in his dealings with Andy Pace.
    • In "Dark Child", The Greys who abducted Laura Sinclair in 1984 are shapeshifters.

    W 
  • Waking Up at the Morgue:
    • In "The Inheritors", Jacob Hardy is struck in the head by an apparent meteor fragment and dies instantly as the fragment became embedded in his brain. When his body is brought to the morgue, the pathologist Dr. Ian Michaels and his assistant Ollie Gibb begin to perform an autopsy. Ian's first step is to remove the fragment, which turns out to a metal projectile. A tentacle then emerges from the hole in Jacob's head, much to the horror of Ian and Ollie. Before they can react, Jacob opens his eyes, takes a deep breath and sits upright, having been resurrected by the alien technology.
    • In "Inner Child", Anne Marie Reynolds dies in an emergency room, having lost all of her brain functions, after being struck in the head with a lead pipe by a mugger. Approximately ten or fifteen minutes later, she wakes up in the morgue. It is later determined that she is growing a second brain on her spine, which contains the personality of her Conjoined Twin Marie who was absorbed into her during her mother's pregnancy.
  • The Wall Around the World: In "A New Life", Daniel and his wife Beth discover that there is a forcefield surrounding the forest in which the religious community is located. Daniel later learns that they have left Earth and that the forest is in fact an artificial environment aboard a spaceship.
  • Wardens Are Evil: Subverted in "Small Friends" as Warden Taylor is a Reasonable Authority Figure who simply does his job and treats the prisoners with respect. A more straightforward example is the prison guard Gabriel who not only turns a blind eye to Marlon terrorizing other prisoners but actively assists in his escape in exchange for money. He ends up getting killed by Marlon for his trouble.
  • War Is Hell: In "Gettysburg", Nicholas Prentice sent Vince Chance and Andy Larouche to the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. Prentice's hope is to convince Andy that there is no glory in any war so that he will not assassinate the U.S. President at a ceremony marking the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 2013. Andy eventually learns his lesson, though at the cost of his life.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression:
    • In "Tempests", Earth's offworld colonies sought their independence but lost the ensuing war against Earth. Many colonists feel that Earth authorities treat them poorly because of the war.
    • In "Summit", the Dregocians, a genetically engineered Human Subspecies, have wrested control of their adopted homeworld Dregocia from the United Coalition authorities and are seeking complete autonomy. They are engaged in a terrorist campaign against Earth in the hope of securing it.
  • War Reenactors: The two protagonists of "Gettysburg" are American Civil War reenactors, with at least one of them having pretty unsavory views on slavery. They are both transported to the actual Battle of Gettysburg by a time traveler from the far future who wanted to teach them something about War Is Hell. It turns out that the openly racist one was going to assassinate the first black President in 2013.
  • War Was Beginning: "Starcrossed" begins with the following narration from Michael Ryan: "In the year 2050, Earth was invaded by a humanoid race called the Hing. For six years, a hard and reigning war was fought. At its conclusion, we were forced to agree that the Hing retain the control they had already won. It wasn't an easy truce, especially in a city called Archangel."
  • Was Actually Friendly:
    • In "Trial by Fire", a newly-inaugurated President is taken to a bunker after an object is detected on the way to Earth. It is eventually revealed that alien ships are about to enter Earth's orbit. They send a message in, apparently, their own language, which linguists are trying to translate. Meanwhile, several of their actions are perceived as hostile by the US and, especially, by Russia. Faced with the possibility of an Alien Invasion and the threat of a nuclear exchange with Russia (who claims that anyone who doesn't fight the aliens will be seen as a collaborator), the President orders a strike on the aliens. It utterly fails due to the aliens' advanced technology. Furthermore, the aliens launch powerful missiles against Washington, D.C., and Moscow. Right before they hit, an advisor tells the President that the alien message was in English all along, just garbled due to their aquatic environment, offering friendship to humans.
    • In "The Second Soul", an alien race arrives on Earth. This time, they're openly asking to be allowed to live on Earth by possessing dead humans. Throughout the episode, several characters get increasingly paranoid about the aliens' agenda on Earth. It is revealed, though, that the aliens have no evil agenda and are merely building a museum to their race, as all their children are 100% human.
  • Washington D.C. Invasion: In "The Deprogrammers", it is mentioned that the Torkor invasion of Earth began with one ship landing on the National Mall in Washington, D.C..
  • We Can Rule Together: In the climax of "Dark Child," Laura and her daughter Tammy are confronted by an alien who reveals that he is Tammy's biological father, who was conceived when he abducted and raped Laura years ago. He puts an apparent brainwashing necklace on Tammy and offers that she and Laura join him. They are family, and Tammy's status as a Half-Human Hybrid makes her potentially more powerful than a regular member of his race, so she will be a valuable asset in his race's invasion plans for Earth. Laura's encouragement gives Tammy the strength to remove the necklace. The alien loses his temper at their rejection and attempts to telekinetically strangle Laura, but Tammy angrily knocks him away and Laura stabs and kills him.
  • Wetware Body: In "The Grid", a cognitive computer known as a neural network processor was designed by the US government and a private company to communicate electromagnetically with the human brain so that messages could be sent directly to soldiers in the field. The small town of Halford, Washington was used a testing ground and dozens of antenna towers were installed for that purpose. Over the course of several years, the computer was able to take over the minds of almost everyone in town. When Scott Bowman visits Halford after the death of his brother Peter, he discovers what the computer is doing and it communicates with him by speaking through several townspeople.
  • We Used to Be Friends: In "Nest", Robby Archer and Jack Burrell were best friends as children but they drifted apart after the death of Robby's brother Matt. The three boys were playing hockey on the ice when it gave way and Robby and Matt fell through. Jack tried to rescue both of them but he was not strong enough. Matt insisted that he save Robby instead of him. Jack complied and Matt was sucked under the ice and died.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: In "Judgment Day," a murderer who has been sentenced to death is hunted down by the sister of the woman he was convicted of killing as part of a reality TV show. It turns out that the security footage used to convict him was altered by the show's producer, since the real killer was a juvenile, thus not eligible for the death penalty, and the new show. In the end the bad guy gets exposed and forced to perform in the same role.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: In "Stasis", the unit of currency is the V-credit.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Much like the original, "Feasibility Study" hangs a lampshade on this trope. When the Triune explain their plan for humanity to Joshua Hayward, he exasperatingly asks what use they could possibly have for slaves when they have the technology to move a giant chunk of a distant planet thousands of lightyears to their present location. One Triune responds that they consider using this technology for menial labor to be demeaning.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "Quality of Mercy": "They're not changing me. They're changing me back."
    • From "Afterlife": "Don't you get it? They were testing us! And we failed."
    • From "Trial by Fire": "Let us be your friends."
  • What If God Was One of Us?: In "Josh", Captain Marquez believes that Josh Butler is God. Josh's amazing abilities support this.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: In "Resurrection" two androids in the future create a human man after humanity has gone extinct. When he starts to yearn for a mate he initially expresses feelings for the female robot and kisses her before she reveals her true nature. She does understand his emotions in a descriptive sense, but says that as a robot she unfortunately cannot reciprocate them. Before shutting off every robot in the world, they leave him with a human female for company.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: This trope is explored in several episodes, with respect to androids in "The Hunt", "In Our Own Image" and "Glitch" and the titular Slave Race in "The Grell". It also comes into play and gets inverted for both sides in "Promised Land".
  • What You Are in the Dark: Quite a few moments. The closing narration for "The Voyage Home" even outright states: "The true measure of a hero is when a man lays down his life with the knowledge that those he saves... Will never know."
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?:
    • In "Double Helix", the world's most eminent geneticist Dr. Martin Nodel is berated by his 19-year-old son Paul for never attending his Little League games.
    • In "Fathers & Sons", Joe "Madman" Dell, a famous blues musician, was frequently absent during his son Hank's childhood because of his music career. This leads him to resent Joe later in life.
    • In "Family Values", Jerry Miller is too busy working to be there for his children Candace and Russ, which leads to Candace getting into trouble at school.
  • While Rome Burns: In "The Human Factor", Commander Ellis Ward sabotages the colonization project he was in charge of after finding out his superiors started a nuclear war that killed off most of humanity, including his family. This is after he spent the entire episode trying to stop his Robot Buddy Link from doing the exact same thing out of the belief that Humans Are Bastards. Having come to agree with Link in the end, he reactivates him. When Link notes that Ward's sabotage leaves them with about two hours before the base is destroyed, Ward decides they might as well play one last game of chess. They spend the last scene setting up the chessboard while the base and all hopes of humanity's survival fall apart around them.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • "Starcrossed" is basically Casablanca with aliens instead of Nazis.
    • "Abduction" is essentially a sci-fi retelling of The Breakfast Club with a Sadistic Choice thrown in for good measure. Five students - a jock, the hottest girl in school, a nerd, a deeply religious girl and an outcast - are abducted by an alien and are told that they must decide which of them will die. If they refuse to make a choice, they will all be killed.
    • "Vanishing Act" is a sci-fi version of Rip Van Winkle.
    • "Abaddon" is one to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed".
    • "Lithia" is one to the 1984 Polish science fiction film Sex Mission as it involves a soldier, Major Jason Mercer, waking from cryonic suspension decades later than planned to find that the world is populated entirely by women as all men have died.
    • "Monster" is one to Forbidden Planet.
    • "The Shroud" is a sci-fi version of the Nativity of Jesus as it involved a woman named Marie Wells being impregnated with a clone of him who was created using DNA samples taken from the Shroud of Turin. The episode lampshades this as Reverend Thomas Tilford, who orchestrated the clone's creation, compares Marie's husband Justin to Joseph. In turn, Justin asks what would that make Tilford with the implication being that he would be King Herod the Great, though this parallel is less exact than the others.
    • "Patient Zero" is one to 12 Monkeys.
  • Who Shot JFK?:
    • Discussed in "Breaking Point". In a conversation about the possibility of changing history, Andrew McLaren asks his friend and colleague, the physicist Carl van der Meer, what he believes the most likely outcome would be if someone traveled back in time to Dallas on November 22, 1963 and stopped Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating John F. Kennedy. Carl is of the opinion that JFK would leave Dallas without a scratch, dismissing all of the conspiracy theories about a second shooter on the grassy knoll. However, he notes that the fatalists would argue that someone else would shoot Kennedy and he would still die in Dallas as history recorded.
    • Also discussed in "Something About Harry". When her son Zach is worried that their new boarder Harry Longworth may be a con artist or some other kind of criminal, Nancy Henniger jokes that he was the second shooter on the grassy knoll when he was five years old.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Laura/Jade from "Last Supper" doesn't age, is immune to all diseases and poisons, and has an incredible Healing Factor. She grows tired of the endless cycle of having to leave her lovers behind. When her boyfriend learns her secret, he's repulsed, until his father (one of her past lovers) lectures him on how she is a good person who deserves happiness, so stay and love her as long as possible.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: This comes up in "The Balance of Nature" when Greg Matheson abuses his wife Barbara.
  • The Wild West: The setting of "Heart's Desire."
  • Winged Humanoid: In "The Origin of Species", Hope and the six students find the skeleton of a winged human, created using genetic engineering, on Earth in the future.
  • Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: In "Nightmare", the skin around Lt. Christopher Valentine's mouth fuses over after he is struck by an Ebonite weapon.
  • Withholding the Cure:
    • Played with in one episode ("Blood Brothers"), when an attempt to create a safe and reliable Knockout Gas for crowd control results in drug that seems to boost body's ability to fight off any disease or toxin Up to Eleven. The chimp that it's tested on is able to take several shots of cyanide without a problem. The scientist's brother is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, who immediately clamps down on the supposed panacea, claiming that it's likely to cause overcrowding, as people will no longer be dying at the same rate, while still breeding like rabbits. The scientist treats it as an attempt to make money, even though it's a clear case of Jerkass Has a Point (i.e. without Population Control, any such cure would be really bad for humanity). The exec brother then uses the drug on himself in order to treat his Parkinson's. However, at the end, it's discovered that the supposed "cure" is actually Cast from Lifespan, draining the body of all resources, until the person (or the above-mentioned chimp) just drops dead in a matter of days, completely spent. The exec brother spends the rest of his life in a sterile life support chamber, unable to move, as his body is no longer able to sustain itself.
    • Averted in another episode ("The New Breed"), where a scientist is perfectly willing to release his new nanite-based cure that would make cancer (or any other cell-related problem) a thing of the past, only to meet opposition from people claiming that he's playing God. On the other hand, he's only at the testing phase, and the "cure" isn't even close to being ready for distribution yet. A friend of his ends up injecting himself with nanites in order to cure his terminal-stage cancer, which works at first (even fixing his poor eyesight), but the untested nanites then start making "modifications" to his body, reacting to what they perceive are flaws (e.g. inability to breathe underwater, limited vision, and need for additional defense mechanisms). In the end, the scientist is forced to kill the poor sap (at his own request) and burns down his lab in the process, forever destroying the potential cure.
  • Women Are Wiser: Played straight and to extremes in "Lithia". A male soldier awakens in the near future from cryogenic hibernation to find that men have been completely wiped out by war and that only women remain, creating an Amazonian society. The women live in relative peace and harmony with each other, but the male soldier proceeds to make trouble, including getting several women killed while trying to steal items from other villages. It turns out that every male that they have unthawed has caused similar problems for the villagers, and that the women no longer trust the male sex, meaning Mercer will be returned to cryostasis. The episode ends with an equally ham-fisted moral from the narrator: "The differences between men and women have been debated among philosophers since recorded history began. If indeed males are by their nature the aggressor, it is this quality that may one day be their undoing." Apparently the problems that arose had nothing to do with him being a trained, futuristic soldier several decades out of place in a communist, extremely primitive village. Nope, it's all about his gonads!
  • Working with the Ex:
    • "Tribunal" featured the son of a Holocaust survivor attempting to bring a suspected concentration camp commandant to justice, with his ex-wife offering somewhat reluctant assistance in the matter.
    • In "Worlds Within", Dr. Anya Kenway works with her ex-fiancé Dr. David LaSalle at the Burkmeer Research Facility.
  • World War III:
    • In "Resurrection", humanity was wiped out in a biological war on July 24, 1997.
    • In "Lithia", the Great War, which began in or before 2015, killed seven billion people (99% of the population).
    • In "Final Appeal", a nuclear war, known as the War of 2059 or the New Holocaust, killed 80% of the world's population (6.8 million people).
    • In "The Human Factor", everyone on Earth, with the exception of several high profile political figures and their families, is killed in the war between the Free Alliance and the Coalition of Middle Eastern and Pacific States on April 23, 2084.
    • In "Bits of Love", billions of people were killed in a nuclear war on November 3, 2046. Aidan Hunter managed to survive in a special bunker. He believes that he may be the last living person.
  • Worst Aid: In "Gettysburg", Vince Chance, a paramedic from 2000, sees the low level of American Civil War era medicine first-hand when Nicholas Prentice sends him and his friend Andy Larouche back to 1863.
  • Would Hurt a Child: There is an extreme example in "The Deprogrammers". After they conquered Earth, the Torkor had millions of children put to death as they were of no use to them.
  • Written by the Winners:
    • In "Promised Land", the Tsal-Khan rewrote the history of their conquest of Earth so that their descendants would view it in a more favorable light, claiming they first came in peace but humanity attacked without provocation. In reality, it was an unprovoked attack and enslaving humanity was always their intention. The Tsal-Khan poisoned all of the plants on Earth; eating the fruit and vegetables that grow naturally is typically fatal even twelve human generations later. According to the revised version, they came in peace and freely offered the advantages of their more advanced technology. However, the humans resisted and the Tsal-Khan won the long and bitter war that followed, which resulted in the plants being poisoned. The true history was passed down to Dlavan through his great-grandparents, who were among the original Tsal-Khan settlers after Earth was conquered.
    • Played with in "Abaddon". Virgil Nygard claims that the North American Corporation vilified him by severely exaggerating the number of people that he killed. It is never made clear whether he is telling the truth.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In "Abduction", Jason draws on his knowledge of science fiction and speculates that he and the other four students have entered an Alternate Universe or become Unstuck in Time. Instead, it turns out that they have been abducted by aliens.

    X 
  • Xanatos Gambit: In "Zig Zag", the eponymous Cyber terrorist Zig Zag lives in a world where everything is controlled by about eight super servers. People are identified by DNA-reading chips implanted in their hands. Zig Zag fakes his death and reprograms his chip to set himself up as a pro establishment guy working for the company that maintains the servers, even working under the very guy that was trying to catch him. Four years later it reverts to the proper setting, and the opportunity is used to steal Zig Zag's files. Zig Zag rejoins the movement (no one had ever seen his real face) and holds the building hostage, threatening to blow it up. At the end, it looks as if he's foiled. His explosives are disarmed, his boss takes the detonator, and he's surrounded by armed men. He reveals that by downloading his chip data into the servers, they will overload and explode, blowing up the city, as soon as his former boss uses the detonator "in his hand." Naturally the boss swipes his DNA chip to prevent this. Turns out Zig Zag was being a bit more literal than they thought. His chip is the detonator. Cue Oh, Crap! moment.
  • X-Ray Vision: In "Family Values", the household robot Gideon uses his X-Ray vision to discover that Brooke Miller is an alcoholic who has a bottle of vodka hidden in the kitchen.

    Y 
  • Yandere: Robot Girl Valerie from "Valerie 23." Made to care for the disabled, she begins a relationship with one of her patients. When said patient starts falling in love with a human woman, she goes all out psycho trying to Murder the Hypotenuse. Suffice it to say these are NOT Three Laws-Compliant.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: There's an episode called "The Sentence" where this trope is used for a prison.
  • Yellow Peril: Averted and Lampshaded in the Clip Show episode "The Human Factor," about a future Cold War between America and China, in which the latter complain that they are regarded as the bad guys even though the former are usually the ones to initiate hostilities. This is borne out when the American leaders start World War III.
  • You Already Changed the Past: This is a recurring theme in the time travel episodes of the Nicholas Prentice arc.
    • In the episode "Tribunal," history professor and Holocaust scholar Aaron Zgierski is taken back to Auschwitz by time-traveler Nicholas Prentice (who turns out to be Zgierski's own great-grandson). While there, they rescue Aaron's "older" sister (who is only eight at the time) by bringing her into the future to live out her life free of Nazi oppression. History recorded Aaron's sister as dying at Auschwitz after being "dragged away" by a couple of guards, who were actually Zgierski and Prentice in disguise.
    • In "Gettysburg," Prentice wants to change the past by convincing The American Civil War buff (who has pro Confederate views) of the wrongness of his convictions by taking him and his friend to just before the Battle of Gettysburg. Originally, the buff was going to assassinate a black President in his own future. Instead, the buff takes this opportunity to try to alter the course of the battle in the Confederate favor. He accidentally uses Prentice's time machine (shaped as an old fashioned camera) to transport a Confederate general through time. His attempts at preventing the (from his viewpoint) catastrophe result in him getting shot for cowardice. Prentice takes the friend back to his time, and the latter finds an old newspaper with the picture of his dead friend. Meanwhile, in the future, the transported Confederate general appears at the moment of the original assassination, and he ends up being the presidential assassin (he was actually aiming for a man dressed as Abraham Lincoln, who was standing next to the president).
    • "Time to Time" subverts this when a new recruit into the temporal agency goes back in time and prevents her father's death due to an eco terrorists' bomb going off prematurely. This results in another member of the agency suddenly vanishing. His colleagues figured out that, without her father to tamper with the bomb, it went off as planned and killed a lot of innocent people, including an ancestor of the temporal agent who disappeared. Reluctantly, the girl has to let her father sacrifice himself. However, she does alter her mother's fate somewhat by giving her a coping mechanism (in her timeline, her mother's a wreck; in the altered one, she is an accomplished artist).
  • You Are Number 6: In "The Camp", the human slaves in the concentration camp are identified by serial numbers.
  • You Are Who You Eat: In "The Voyage Home," there's a shape shifting alien which assumes the form of the people it eats.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • The series had its own tendency to mess with this concept. "Gettysburg" is a great example. A mysterious time traveler, who had appeared in previous episodes, returns. However, this time, instead of attempting to arrange "justice" against villains from the past while remaining consistent with recorded history, he is attempting to directly change what happened. Specifically, he hopes to avoid the assassination of the first black president in 2013, regarded as one of America's greatest leaders, by a Southern Sympathizer whose beliefs are all tied up in the Glory of the Confederacy. The time traveler sends the guy back from a Gettysburg re-enactment to the real battle where he serves under an insane commander and faces the true harshness of the war and his supported side. He learns his lesson, and comes face-to-face with his ancestor, whose self-serving cowardice contradicts the impressive legend that he had idolized during his youth, and he rejects extremism and the no-longer noble rebellion against the government. However, the insane commander from Gettysburg is accidentally transported to the 2013 date and, while trying to kill "Lincoln" (in truth, an impersonator at the memorial event), manages to assassinate the president anyway.
    • Played with in "Breaking Point". Andrew McLaren travels forward in time two days and finds his wife Susan dead in their house, having been shot. It turns out that his attempts to prevent her death are what resulted in it happening in the first place. He then travels back in time to 1993 and kills his younger self just before he was about to meet Susan so that she will live. However, Susan was severely depressed at the time and Andrew was the one who helped her get her life back together. The episode ends with Susan taking an entire bottle of pills with alcohol. The clear implication is that she will not survive the night.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In "Last Supper", a Mad Scientist named Dr. Lawrence Sinclair is on the trail of an immortal woman he wants to experiment on. When his assistant manages to find her, the scientist stabs him in the chest.
  • Younger Than They Look: At the end of "In the Zone", Tanner and Jessica Brooks discover that Dr. Michael Chen, who appears to be in his mid-60s, is only 30 years old. He had previously used his experimental treatment to tap into the power of the nervous system on himself and entered an accelerated time zone just as Tanner did.
  • Your Cheating Heart: In "Last Supper", after rescuing Laura/Jane Frank slept with her when already married to Carol.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: In "Mindreacher", scientists invent a new device that allows people to share dreams and cure people's mental problems. The protagonist and her boyfriend use the machine to enjoy a romantic dinner. However, after that, he goes into a coma. The machine is blamed, and the project is shut down. However, she accidentally messes up an implant injection (it latches on directly to her brain instead of a nerve in the palm), which allows to her mentally interface with anyone she touches. She interfaces with the boyfriend and finds out that he's allergic to strawberries, so when they ate them in the vivid dream, his body reacted as if he actually ate them for real. She "cured" him by convincing him that she has a cure in her hand and feeding it to him in the dream.

    Z 
  • Zero-G Spot: Barbara and Ty Chafey, newlyweds on a space-tourism shuttle, have sex in a storage cubicle in "Joyride".
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion:
    • "Resurrection" has a member of a post-human extinction android society trying to resurrect the species through cloning. One of its comrades eventually betrays it, having concluded that the best way to serve the human race is to prevent the species' greatest threat: The existence of the human race.
    • "The Haven" featured an AI that totally controlled every feature of an apartment building with the purpose of looking after the complete welfare of the residents. This enabled the tenants to live without any other human contact. After an elderly resident died of a heart attack while the other tenants ignored her cries for help and the AI's alerts, the AI seemed to malfunction, invoking what looked like an A.I. Is a Crapshoot incident. As it turned out, the AI was trying to force the residents to work together and to ultimately destroy it, as it reasoned that its very existence, and the resulting human isolation, was detrimental to the welfare of the residents.
  • Zombie Advocate: In "Summit", Kate Woods' husband Brian was a professor at Sumner University and a strong advocate for the rights of Dregocians. His views made him very unpopular with most other humans to the point that he received death threats but his work was widely read by Dregocians. Ironically, he was killed by a bomb planted by Dregocian terrorists. However, he was merely an innocent bystander as opposed to the target.
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