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Trivia / Wing Commander

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The game series

  • Banned in China: In Wing Commander IV, the scene where Seether slits Captain Paulson's throat has two versions, with and without gushing blood. The latter is the one found on the German release of the game.
  • Executive Meddling: Hobbes' betrayal in Wing Commander III was apparently because Chris Roberts didn't like the idea of a Kilrathi good guy.
  • Fan Nickname: "Bluehair", for the Player Character in the main games, prior to his being given a canonical name (which happened to be a contraction of "Bluehair"). Similarly, in Privateer, "Brownhair" for that game's PC, prior to discovery of a magazine ad that gave his canonical name as "Grayson Burrows" (confirmed in the manual for Arena).
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  • Special Effects Failure: In the live-action segments this is almost inevitable given the nature of the game; for example, in Wing Commander III the spacecraft locations are very obviously digital sets painted onto greenscreen backgrounds, which results in actors occasionally looking the wrong way for the scene. This is why Wing 4 makes much heavier use of real sets - it was a lot more natural for the actors to work in than the pure green-screening Wing 3 tried to do.
  • The Other Darrin: Lance Casey was not voiced by Petrarca in Secret Ops. (The SO credits are sparse enough that, to this day, we're not sure who took over the role.)
  • Technology Marches On:
    • The Javelin HS ("Heat-Seeking") missile is a "rear-aspect" weapon: it can only achieve or maintain lock if the target's tailpipe is pointing towards its nose, and is susceptible to the High-Speed Missile Dodge. Real world infrared-homing missiles have been all-aspect since 1978. Also, as noted on the Stealth in Space page, the heat signature of a fighter or any other ship is going to be incredibly obvious against the backdrop of space.
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    • For that matter, as of the 21st century there are high-off-boresight missiles linked to helmet-mounted cueing systems, which can basically lock on to anything in all 720 degrees so long as the pilot looks at it. This is more excusable due to the difficulty of implementing turn-your-head-inside-your-cockpit controls; while joysticks with hat switches solve the problem, WC's last hurrah in Prophecy was the only game released in an era where they were starting to become standard.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Prophecy was supposed to have the glowy bits at the ends of the Tiamat's arms work like the shipkiller plasma cannon mounted on the Kraken, but time constraints resulted in the feature never being implemented.
    • In the sequel, Secret Ops, the Murphy class destroyers were supposed to have an anti-capship gun mounted in the nose, but again time constraints lead to it being cut. The barrel of the planned gun is still visible on the model, but it's not functional, leaving the destroyer with its pathetic laser turret armament as the only thing backing up the handful of fighters it could carry.
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    • The MMORPG space shooter Wing Commander Online or Privateer Online. It's unclear if this would have been one project or two concurrent projects.
    • Wing Commander: Strike Team would have been a multiplayer sequel to Secret Ops.
    • Wing Commander VII and Wing Commander: Privateer 3 would have been parts 2 and 3 of the Wing Commander: Prophecy trilogy.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Wing Commander Encyclopedia and Wing Commander Information Center.
  • Wildfire Franchise: From 1990 through 1997, Origin Systems produced five games in the main series and various spinoff games (most notably the Privateer series). It also spawned a series of tie-in novels, a collectible card game, the animated TV series Wing Commander Academy and a 1999 feature film. After the box office failure of the film however, the entire franchise ground to a halt. Other than the small spinoff game Wing Commander Arena, released in 2007 as an Xbox Live exclusive, no new Wing Commander media has been created and published since the end of The '90s.
  • Working Title:
    • The proposal for what eventually became Wing Commander was named Squadron, and then Wingleader.note 
    • What became the Terran Confederation was a more Roman-themed Terran Empire, similar to the FASA tabletop wargame Renegade Legion, which later resurfaced in Star Citizen as the United Empire of Earth.


  • Blooper: Of the box cover variety; some cases for the film have Tchéky Karyo's name accompanied by an image of actor Jürgen Prochnow on the back of the DVD case.
  • Box Office Bomb: It cost $30 million to produce, and took home only $11,578,059.
  • Creator Backlash: Director and game creator Chris Roberts was not satisfied with the look of the Kilrathi in the film. Ironically, he wasn't satisfied with their designs in the games, either.
  • Deleted Scene: There was a traitor subplot cut from the final release due to poor audience reception at a test screening, but several scenes earlier in the final cut of the movie rely on the subplot to make sense. The Novelization of the film includes the subplot, and as a result the story flows more smoothly.
  • Executive Meddling: Unusually, a case where some executive meddling would have made the film better. Roberts later said that in hindsight, he wished he'd had an executive producer who could have told him the elements of the film that were distracting from the core story and needed to be removed, especially on the tight budget ($27 million, expanded to $30 million after Roberts kicked in an additional $3 million out-of-pocket).
  • Old Shame: Freddie Prinze Jr. admitted in a 2000 interview that he hated the film, saying he had been optimistic about the script but struggled during production.
  • Orphaned Reference: The Pilgrim is asked at one point about his pilgrim pendant, to which he replies that he doesn't have it anymore. The reason why he lost it is never explained in the movie. The reason for that is because a scene where he stabs a traitor with the pendant was filmed but cut from the final version of the movie.
  • The Other Darrin: None of the cast from the live-action games play their respective characters in the film. Malcolm McDowell was to return as Admiral Towlyn, but was busy with the Fantasy Island revival, so David Warner stepped in.
  • What Could Have Been: In this interview with Chris Roberts he talks about how Merlin was to have a much bigger role in the film, as a holographic assistant for Blair that provided more Pilgrim backstory, and that he approached Robin Williams about taking the role. Wing Commander producer Todd Moyer convinced Roberts to create a cut without him, due to the expense of hiring a big-name actor and the VFX for the hologram, and after not hearing back from Williams' staff Roberts went with that cut in the final version.
  • Vindicated by Cable: Wing Commander was a bomb at the box office, not helped by its limited release, but video rental income has made good the production costs, and given its regular airing on cable channels (particularly non-US ones) even has something of a genuine fandom. Although all are pretty Vanilla, there have been three releases of the film, two on DVD (non-anamorphic and anamorphic) and one on Blu-ray.


  • Died During Production: A planned sequel to False Colors, helping to fill in some of the gap between that novel's events and the start of Wing Commander IV, was canceled due to the death of co-author Andrew Keith in 1999.