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Theatre / Starship

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And they're here to get the job done.

"I wanna be a Starship Ranger
I wanna have the things they've got
I could be a Starship Ranger
But there's just one little thing they are
That I'm not..."

Starship is a science-fiction musical theatre comedy from Team StarKid. On a planet of Big Creepy-Crawlies, a young bug named Bug is just another worker for the Overqueen, but he dreams of leaving Bug-World behind and joining the Starship Rangers, an elite group of humans who explore the galaxy. Bug has spent his whole life exploring the wreck of a Ranger starship that crashed many years ago, watching their video logs so often that he's even learnt the human language, but after the Overqueen decrees that Bug should become an eggplanter instead, it seems as though his dreams will never come true. That all changes when another starship arrives on Bug-World bearing a new team of Starship Rangers, among them the beautiful science officer February. It's Bug's chance to live his dream of being a Starship Ranger, but first he'll have to face off against robots, scorpions, corrupt traitors and true love in order to save his new friends and his entire world.

Written by Matt Lang, Nick Lang, Brian Holden and Joe Walker, from a pitch by Walker and Darren Criss ("The Little Mermaid meets Aliens") and with music written by Criss. It was performed in early 2011 and released on DVD and YouTube on April 30. Within a few days of the soundtrack's release on iTunes, it rose to #3 on the iTunes sales charts in the US, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, #2 in Australia, Canada and Ireland, debuted at #1 on Billboard's Top Cast Albums chart (beating the record set by Me And My Dick, which reached #11), and even cracked Billboard's overall album sales chart, coming in at #134 after only three days of sales. It's distinct from other Team StarKid shows because the performance, which took place in Chicago, charged for the tickets, and a DVD of the performance was later released through their online store. You can watch the entire show on YouTube or buy the DVD and the soundtrack from their website.

An as-yet unproduced script for a sequel, Starship: Requiem was presented at a reading in 2014. It involves Tootsie Mega-Girl née Noodles having to meet his new bride's human-hating family. In 2018 Nick Lang revealed on social media that Team Starkid has also been working on the idea of a prequel detailing the much-demanded backstory of Taz and Commander Up, titled Starship: On the Wings of Liberty (a reference to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty), although no details have been released.

And no, they did not build this city on rock and roll.

Starship provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Taz; Megagirl
  • Actor Allusion: The universe seems to like giving Joey Richter the one thing he could ever love and then taking it away.
  • Affably Evil: Pincer at first, but then it evolves into Faux Affably Evil.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The robots rose up and took over future earth, and all of them want to Kill All Humans. Later averted by Megagirl.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Only Bug can speak English from studying the videos from the crashed starship..
  • Almost Kiss: Bug and February.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
    • Up saved Taz from killer robots, helped her beat up bullies... and taught her calculus. "Calculus was TOUGH!!"
    • The Overqueen bans Bug from making contact with humans, from ever leaving the hive again, and singing and dancing. Cue gasps of horror from the bugs.
    • During the end credits, the Special Thanks ends with "...and those mysterious Poopy Bottom Boys."
  • Aside Glance: Joey during Bug and February's kiss.
  • Audible Sharpness: Taz's knife is so badass it has two: one provided by Taz, the other pre-recorded.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Comments on the videos where Brian Holden and Dylan Saunders sing indicate that they have this effect.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": In the opening video.
    Starship Ranger: We come to conquer... in peace!
  • Battle Couple: Up and Taz are both badasses whose friendship was primarily forged on fighting together, and are heavily implied to have mutual romantic feelings for each other (if nothing else, Up is stated to have romantic feelings toward Taz).
  • Be Yourself: The central lesson that both Bug and Up must learn. Bug has to realize that others should accept him as a bug and that he doesn't have to pretend, while Up has to learn to move past who he was before he lost his balls and learn how to kill with his heart.
  • Beta Couple
    • Tootsie Noodles and Megagirl.
    • Krayonder and Specs to an extent, as well.
    • Possibly Taz and Up also.
    • Roach and the Overqueen.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: When it looks like the Rangers are going to be killed by the bugs, it's Tootsie Noodles who immediately turns on Krayonder and wants to kill him.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Pincer and Junior.
  • Blind and the Beast: When February and Bug first meet, February has been blinded by a mammal-wrangler's mucus and so she can't see that Bug is not really human. As such, she thinks he is a Starship Ranger and falls in love with him.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Hive's code of ethics is a little... different. Many bugs very happily sacrifice themselves to be eaten alive by the Overqueen to nourish the eggs. Bugette's proposal to Bug about eating his head and planting her larvae in him is treated like being asked to have sex. In fact, most of this trope with the Hive revolves around happily eating things alive.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall
    • In one scene, a beetle punches Bug. Then, another beetle's puppeteer punches Joey.
    • Joe's wink to the audience after the "Damn that G.L.E.E.! Always making twisted abominations out of everything!".
    • When February says she sees no signs of intelligent life anywhere, she's looking directly at the audience.
    • During the big finish of Pincer's song "Kick it up a Notch," the puppeteers are doing a kickline.
    • When Bug is about to sing to Bugette, he gets the band's attention by calling "Maestro".
    • Joey's Aside Glance when Bug and Feburary kiss.
    • Bug high fives the bee's actor during "Beauty".
  • The Cameo: Many of the Team StarKid regulars show up in bit roles during the pre-recorded segments. Tyler Brunsman, Brian Rosenthal, Britney Coleman, Arielle Goldman, Nicholas Joseph Strauss-Matathia, Devin Lytle (as a Southern Belle!) and Lily Marks all cameo as Starship Rangers in the opening ad, Richard Campbell is a blue-headed alien, and A.J. Holmes is the captain of the crashed starship.
  • Captain Ersatz: Up for Snake. Specifically Old Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Pincer and Junior.
  • Catchphrase
    • "My name's Junior, maybe ya heard of me."
    • And of course "We're here to get the job done!"
    • The minor character "Mister" has "Here's a tip!", which gets an Ironic Echo from Bug at the climax.
  • Chekhov's Classroom
    • The orientation speech at the hatchery — all newly hatched larvae eat the nearest mammal for nourishment. This is the fate that befalls Junior after he kills Bugette and her eggs hatch from inside her.
    • At the hatchery, Bug is warned that the gag reflexes of mammals makes it more difficult to implant eggs. When February figures out that Junior used her for egg implantation, she lists the possible reasons why — one of these being that she barely has a gag reflex, which would make egg implantation very easy.
  • Coconut Superpowers: In the live-stage production, the actor shooting the zapper had to say "pew" to signify shooting. In the Internet version, lasers were added... but the actors still say pew.
  • Combat Tentacles: After being captured by Autobots during the war, Up was held spread-eagled by tentacles while he was cut in half.
  • Comically Missing the Point
    • February vomiting after "Beauty": "She's excreting her filth for him! WE DID IT!!"
    • When Bug goes to Up for girl advice.
    Up: Well then, who is it?
    Bug: It's February.
    Up: Oh February! ...She's an idiot.
    Bug: Yeah, isn't she the greatest?
    • When Bug is being reprimanded by the Overqueen for helping February.
    Bug: But I swear, I never thought I'd get caught and yelled at for it!
    • Tootsie explains to Mega-Girl that science conclusively proved that God Is Dead:
    Tootsie: I like to think that when God died, he went to heaven.
    • Apparently, not everyone shares that optimism:
    "...Lucky for me, God Is Dead. When you see him in hell, tell him Junior sent ya!"
  • Cool Starship: Of course.
  • Cryonics Failure: The human body that Bug uses was a victim of one that left him brain dead but the body intact.
  • Curse Cut Short: Averted. In the intro recruitment video, the captain's log is filled with static. The captain says "Somebody F*static*KED UP BIG TIME!" When Bug and February watch a non-staticy version, the captain says "Somebody... FIRETRUCKED UP BIG TIME!
  • Dark Reprise: "Kick It Up a Notch" is a pretty evil song to begin with, but Junior's take on it is even more so. While Pincer displayed some kind of understandable motivation, Junior seems to be doing it mostly For the Evulz (weed money notwithstanding). Could also count as a kind of Triumphant Reprise since, at that moment, he seems to be winning.
  • Deadly Euphemism
    • One of the hive's most prominent job titles is "Nourishment". Any bug assigned that job is immediately devoured by the Overqueen.
    • Pincer attempts to unleash a Hurricane of Euphemisms, but Veeto ruins it.
    Pincer: I'd like to have her for dinner! Ha ha ha! I'd pick her brain! Ha ha ha!
    Veeto: Yeah, and suck her blood!
    Pincer: Quiet, you!
  • Deal with the Devil: Pincer offers Bug the chance to become a human through use of a brain leech that can psychically link him to the mind of a Starship Ranger (who is brain-dead due to a malfunction in a cryotube that was in a starship crash 18 years prior, but whose body is still very much alive). Pincer's only condition? Bug must befriend the humans and bring them to him. Bug accepts, believing that Pincer only wants to be friends with them- not knowing that Pincer intends to eat them and let the Mosquito Brothers suck their blood).
  • Decomposite Character: February is an exaggerated Expy of the younger, more naive Ripley from Alien while Taz is a Composite Character of Ripley and Vasquez from Aliens, lampshading the extreme degree she Took a Level in Badass (and ruthlessness) between the two movies. February's climactic moment of badassery and Character Development is killing Pincer the same way Ripley killed the original Xenomorph.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Junior pulls the inhibitor chip off the robot so it will be able to kill the rest of the crew. He then tells it to kill all the humans on the ship while he is standing right next to it. Guess what happens next.
  • The Ditz
    • February big time.
    • Bug gets some of this too, particularly when he and February re-explore the crashed Starship.
    • Junior too.
    Junior: Bug is a BUG?!?
  • Drop Ship: Although called Drop Pods, they're capable of flying multiple people from the starship to the planet and back.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Overqueen
  • Energy Weapon: In a musical theatre comedy.
  • Even Evil Has Standards
    • Dr. Space-Claw, the most evil villain in the galaxy is not pleased that his son Junior is smoking pot.
    • Also, Pincer seems genuinely hurt that Bug is supposedly not living up to his end of the deal, despite not really caring for Bug at all.
  • Everything Sensor: Specs' spectrometer.
  • Expy
    • Up is a dead ringer for Old Snake.
    • All the Aliens expys:
    • Pincer is what would happen if you turned Ursula into a male scorpion.
    • Bugette seems to be a parody of Eponine, with a rhotacized Marge Simpson voice. She also looks quite a bit like a Caterpie.
    • Brian Holden once said that the Mosquito Brothers were basically the weasels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
    • The Overqueen looks suspiciously like Lavos.
    • Mega-Girl and Tootsie Noodles' designs seem to be inspired by EVE and WALL•E. Fitting for a humble, simple-minded working class man and the high tech, seemingly cold and emotionless robot who eventually falls for him.
  • The Family That Slays Together
    • Junior is at least the third generation of villain in his family.
    • The Mosquito Brothers certainly count as well.
  • Fanservice: Joe Walker as Commander Up. That grey top may also count as Form-Fitting Wardrobe.
    • Lauren Lopez in a tank top counts too.
    • Joey Richter in a deep V-neck.
    • Meredith Stepien as a Robot Girl in a form-fitting costume.
  • Fantastic Racism: Per the usual clichés, humans and bugs don't think very highly of each other, nor humans and robots. (Bugs and robots don't really interact enough to have aany clear data to draw on.)
  • A Father to His Men: Parodied with Up, who tucks his men into bed at night and asks them to sit on his lap when they need to talk about something or process their emotions.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Junior smoking pot.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Galactic League of Extraterrestrial Exploration.
  • "Gaining Confidence" Song: The song "Status Quo" begins softly as Bug, newly in a human body and accepted by his heroes, the Starship Rangers, reflects on how everything he's doing goes against everything he's been told he can be. His voice becomes louder and more enthusiastic as he decides to enjoy the ride and take his shot at the life he always wanted.
    I kick down the walls around me.
    They don't know how strong I am!
    I'm not defined by boundaries!
    They could never understand,
    I'm so much more than status quo.
  • God Is Dead: Yeah, that happened a while ago.
    Junior: Thank Dead God I caught you!
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Up smokes cigarettes because he's badass. Junior starts smoking pot.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Taz says a lot of Spanish words. Many of which make no sense in context.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Happened to Up during the Robot War. Vertically. He apparently survived by becoming a Cyborg.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Why? Because a combination of it and breathing exercises can make three human-sized mosquitoes take in too much blood and violently explode.
    Up: Bug was right! I just needed to learn to kill with my heart!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Up (has his blood sucked out by the Mosquito Brothers), Krayonder, Bug (has himself and Pincer Thrown Out the Airlock by February to stop Pincer from killing the other Starship Rangers-sacrificing his human body in the process), Bugette (takes a bullet for Bug after Junior tries to shoot him). The first three get better (for example, Bug's mind goes back to his real body, similar to what happens in James Cameron's Avatar when Spellman's Avatar is killed in the final battle of the movie) but poor Bugette doesn't.
  • Hugh Mann: While Bug actually is in a human body, he frequently forgets it in casual conversation, leading to lines like "you humans." No one notices.
  • Humans Are Morons: A view held rather strongly by Megagirl.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: After the Rangers get stuck on a web:
    Up: Well... at least we stuck together!
    Other Rangers: (collective groans and "WTF?" stares)
    • "Get Back Up" has both its usual meaning and is a message to Commander Up to get back his original identity as a badass, i.e. "get back 'Up'".
  • Interspecies Romance
    • Bug and February.
    • And Tootsie Noodles and the Stack of Hay.
    • And Tootsie Noodles and Mega-Girl.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Mega-Girl: All human beings are imbeciles in comparison with robot intelligence. However, you have made all human beings seem like geniuses.
    Tootsie: I do like to make people feel good.
  • Ironic Echo
    • "No, that probably wouldn't work. It sounds stupid, and if I say it you'll think I'm stupid and then I'll be embarrassed."
    • The reply to above statement as well: "You don't have to be embarrassed in front of me, we're friends."
  • "I Want" Song: Bug's part in "I Wanna Be" is one, but it's turned into the "I Am" Song at the end of "Status Quo" after Bug becomes human through a brain leech that psychically links him to a brain-dead Starship Ranger in a cryotube whose ship crashed on Bug World 18 years prior.
  • Just Friends: Hinted at, Commander Up says that he likes Taz, but aside from almost losing his life to save hers, which it's probable he would do for any of the crew, there isn't any actual evidence. Her reaction to this could be construed as evidence that the feeling's mutual.
  • Large Ham: Damn near everyone.
  • Larynx Dissonance: The mosquito sister is quite the baritone.
  • Learnt English from Watching Television: Bug learnt English from watching old recordings on the starship.
  • Literal Metaphor: Up's injury that caused him to go soft involved having his balls cut off. It also applies later when Up kills with his heart... by speeding up his heart rate and causing a surge of blood that causes the mosquitos to explode.
  • Logic Bomb: "I'm faster than the two of us combined"
  • Love at First "Sight"
    • February and Bug, as explained above at Blind and the Beast.
    • Tootsie also gets this the first time he sees Mega-Girl.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: February is disgusted by (and terrified of) bugs, and falls in love with Bug's human form.
  • Love Redeems: Megagirl.
  • Made of Iron: Taz stabs Krayonder in the gut just to make a point, then sneeringly tells him to "walk it off", stabbing herself several times to emphasize her point. In her defense, Krayonder subsequently Took a Level in Badass, somehow going from having all his blood drained by the Mosquitoes and being decapitated by Pincer to being just fine with a bandage on his head in the ending.
  • Magic Countdown: The dropdown countdown takes ten real minutes to get from three story minutes to one second... then it backs up a bit to twenty seconds, before going down to negative numbers.
  • Make an Example of Them: As a parody of the Drill Sergeant Nasty from Starship Troopers, Taz is constantly threatening to do this.
    Taz: If you don't go out there and die for something, I will kill you FOR NOTHING!
  • Mama Bear: Commander Up, especially when saving Taz from the Mosquito Brothers.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Commander Up and Taz.
  • Meaningful Name: Every person born on Farm World, including Tootsie, names themselves after what they do and what they love. If either of those change, they even change their name.
  • Memetic Badass: Up in-universe, before his injury.
  • Mood Whiplash
    • After Bugette's death.
    • When Up tells Bug that he is half robot.
    • Junior finding out his mom died, and then meeting his new stepmom immediately after.
  • Mr. Fanservice
    • As with every other StarKid production, Joe Walker. It helps that he's wearing a tight grey muscle-defining shirt.
    • Brian Holden looks damn fine in that costume of his.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Tootsie Noodles to the Rangers, and Bug to humanity in general.
  • The Needs of the Many: A major philosophy on Bug World, and repeated often. Bug doesn't understand what it means until he sacrifices himself to save February and the other Starship Rangers from Pincer.
  • No Loves Intersect: With the exception of Bugette's love for Bug, this is the case.
  • Non Human Lover Reveal: Bug eventually has to admit to February that's he's actually a... bug.
  • Noodle Incident:
    Taz: It's your gun, stupid!
    Tootsie: That's not what I was using it for earlier, sorry.
  • Obviously Evil
    • Pincer and Junior. They're Lampshaded quite thoroughly.
    • Early on, Mega-Girl repeatedly demonstrates she'd like nothing more than to Kill All Humans.
  • Oh, Crap!: Joey's face at the end of this exchange:
    Junior: We have a saying where I come from too... God save the queen.
    Bug: Oh, great.
    Junior: ...Lucky for me, God is dead.
    Bug/Joey: Oh, Crap!.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Get Back Up".
  • [Popular Saying], But...:
    Junior: We have a saying where I come from too... God save the Queen.
    Bug: Oh, great.
    Junior: ...Lucky for me, God Is Dead. When you see him in hell, tell him Junior sent ya!
  • Power of Love: It stops Megagirl from killing all the Rangers.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Hey, Pincer? You like shish kabob? 'Cause you should always like yourself!"
  • Precision F-Strike: See Curse Cut Short above.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes
    • Joey Richter has them.
    • Up thinks Tootsie Noodles has these when asking him to save Mega Girl.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Twice as Krayonder puts his foot in his mouth discussing the rumors about Up. Complete with booing.
  • Reprise Medley: In the middle of "Kick It Up A Notch", Pincer reprises "Life" and "I Wanna Be".
  • Restraining Bolt: All robots have them, because their natural instinct is to Kill All Humans. However, just because robots can't kill humans, doesn't mean they don't want to.
  • Running Gag: Thank Dead God that there's a running gag.
  • Scary Scorpions: Pincer. Duh.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Woman: Up and Taz.
    • Also Tootsie & Megagirl, so much so that the former taught the other to feel.
  • Share Phrase: "Tough(est) son of a bitch" is a phrase used repeatedly by Taz, Up, and February.
  • Shipper on Deck
    • Up for Tootsie and Megagirl.
    • Also for "that candy-ass Krayonder" and Specs.
  • Shout-Out: Common in Team StarKid shows.
  • Stealth Pun: Dylan Saunders played Dumbledore in AVPM and AVPS. In Starship, he appears in an early scene as a bumblebee. "Dumbledore" is an Early Modern English word for "bumblebee".
  • Take That!: An absolutely epic one is given to Glee. To clarify, this quite clearly refers to Darren Criss, who had to cut back on his involvement in StarKid productions after being cast on the aforementioned show.
    Up: Damn that G.L.E.E.! They're always making twisted abominations of everything!
  • Taking the Bullet: Bugette when Junior attempts to zap Bug.
  • Tear Jerker: In-universe example: Up can't listen to "Christmas Shoes" anymore.
  • Thinking Out Loud: Junior does this A LOT.
  • Tomato Surprise: After the prologue establishes the human-crewed ship that crashed on a planet of horrific giant bugs, we're given the protagonist sitting in darkness just long enough to sing one stanza of his "I Want" Song... before the lights come up to reveal he is one of those giant bugs.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A lot of the Humans seem to come across as not working with a full deck of cards. Justified, as Junior deliberately assembled an incompetent crew for the purposes of the evil plan, while Junior himself got the job through nepotism.
  • Translation Convention: While on the BugWorld, the bugs speak a bug language to each other, though it's translated (for the audience's convenience) to English. Only Bug himself is fluent in both. There are times when it's pointed out that Bug is switching between Bug and English and that the characters of the opposite race can't understand him while he's speaking the other language. The only times the Bug language is spoken untranslated is when Bug first meets February and eloquently says "Wagaglolgalogal!" and at the end when Bug teaches February how to say "I love you."
  • Triumphant Reprise: of "I Wanna Be", after Bug becomes human.
  • Villain Song: "Kick It Up A Notch" and its reprise.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Junior wants Daddy to say he did a good job... at first.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Overqueen eating the bugs of the hive is Played for Laughs, even when she devours her right-hand man for no reason, and she's still regarded as the Big Good, while Pincer's desire to eat human brains is Played for Drama and pins him as the Big Bad.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Played with.
    Junior: Yeah, he's about to have an accident with his head and my zapper. Heheheheheh... AND THEN I'LL SHOOT HIM!!
  • World of Ham: Well, it is a StarKid production and it does have Joe Moses, Joey Richter, Joe Walker, and Lauren Lopez in it in prominent roles.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Possibly; It's been two years since Up's famous injury which happened in the final battle of the robot war. The robots who had ruled earth with a fist of iron for 100 years. You wouldn't have thought then, that 18 years ago anyone would have been able to go on space exploration jaunts to uncharted planets. Especially not with Up's description later that gives the impression it was more a rebellion than a war. Although, if you remember that Tootsie is from Farm World and there are presumably many planets in the Galactic League, it could stand to reason that Earth was lost to the Robot forces during the war and humanity briefly relocated its government elsewhere. This would explain why they were so desperate 18 years ago to secure new planets to colonise.
  • Xenomorph Xerox: The aliens of Bugworld are a rare cute and cuddly variant.
  • X Meets Y: The entire concept was The Little Mermaid (1989) meets Aliens.
  • Year X: According to the Starship Captain's log, the first starship crashed on "Stardate 30XX".