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Video Game / Space Quest

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Not all aliens are green skinned space babes.

"You serve as a member of the crew of the Arcada as a janitor."
"That's right, a janitor. And not a very good one."
Opening Scroll from Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter

Space Quest is a series of six sci-fi themed adventure games made by Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy (collectively, the "Two Guys from Andromeda"). Published by Sierra in the late 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s, the protagonist is not a grizzled Space Marine or brilliant scientist but one Roger Wilco — a space janitor. And not even a particularly almighty one.

Stronger than a Betelgeusian Puddle Monster, faster than a Xenon Space Weevil, and better with a mop than a blaster, the unwilling Roger finds it his fate, time and again, to save the galaxy.

His arch-nemesis — Sludge Vohaul, a grotesque parody of an alien mastermind, who first encounters Roger face-to-face in the second game as Vohaul monologues about his plan to flood Roger's home planet of Xenon with an army of pushy insurance salesmen.

The games extensively parody most of modern science fiction, and Star Trek in particular.

Individual Games: (Kindly add tropes exclusive to these works only to their pages)

In addition to the official six games, there are several fan-made games and a graphical update to the second title on the level of the official update to the first. There had been talks of a Space Quest VII but as of now it looks like there will be no more official installments in the series. However, the Two Guys eventually reunited and are looking to make a new "SpaceVenture" that's totally not a new Space Quest. Totally.

This video game series provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Roger Wilco.
  • Adventure Game: Of the text-parser and later point & click variety.
  • Affectionate Parody: Parodies many elements from other sci-fi series.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Everyone on the Arcada died from this, courtesy of the Sariens. You can smell and taste them in the VGA remake.
  • The Ahnold: A deadly collections agent robot. Gender-flipped in SQ5, when the deadly collections agent robot is a gynoid.
    • There's another in SQ6, except he is a more direct parody of the Terminator, isn't a collector, and a guy parodying a Blade Runner hires Roger to catch him.
  • All Your Ship Are Belong To Us: The beginning of the first game.
  • Almighty Janitor: Roger Wilco, sorta. When you're controlling him, he has these huge insights that allow him to save the galaxy (when you're not sending him to many humorous deaths). Unfortunately, when you're not controlling him, Roger is heavily implied to be a lazy, clumsy, marginally competent, mooching, unfunny, obnoxious, selfish, annoying jerk of a janitor, who also seems to have pissed off people in high places. The first game, you survive the initial Sarien onslaught because you were asleep in the closet. The second, you lose your third broom of the week while sweeping the deck because someone beeped you (for taking too long sweeping, no less) and people complain about how you owe them money. In the third game, you still owe people money and now they're openly sending violent androids after you to collect on it. In the fourth game, thanks to Time Travel, people you haven't even met yet are trying to kill you for things you apparently will do to them, but haven't actually done yet. In the fifth game, Roger slept and skipped through most of his classes to become a ship captain, crashed multiple vessels, only passed his aptitude test by cheating, and only got a ship due to divine intervention from a rodent getting fried in the testing computer. Plus, the people you owe money to have now decided to just openly kill you. Roger improves though, as by the sixth game, your supreme capability to get rid of stubborn mildew stains and black heel marks allows you to keep your old post as janitor second class. Ironically, the people trying to kill you for the money you owe are doing so for a free whistle.note 
  • Author Avatar: The Two Guys from Andromeda. This even seeps into Quest for Glory I, in which The Two Guys from Andromeda are mentioned as having slain an Antwerp.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Used several times, most notably in Space Quest IV (Dr. Lloyd's message about the Vohaul-corrupted computer), and twice in Space Quest V (from the point of view of a pukoid-infected colonist, and a second from the geneticist who created the toxic waste).
  • Bag of Spilling: Averted in the sixth game, where it turns out that Roger's been stockpiling a lot of his old junk from his previous adventures (like a good adventure game hero ought to), and has them all strewn about his room.
    • And the third, where he still has the glowing gem. Where the rest of his inventory went, however, is a mystery.
    • Even the dialect translator from the first game is used as well in the second, but it's never stated to be in your inventory and turns on automatically.
  • Behind the Black: Space Quest II and the remake of Space Quest I both require you to hide from guards by hiding behind foreground objects. Since the guards come from the side of the screen, they could probably see you.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The slot machine in the bar in the original game.
    • Turned into a frustrating Luck-Based Mission due to the fact that you could randomly get three skulls, which kills you. You are literally required to Save Scum to get past this part. note  There's a device you can use to cheat it in the VGA remake.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The semi-official The Space Quest Companion reveals that every Big Bad of the series was a member of the Vohaul family. Elmo and Captain Quirk were Sludge's nephews, while Sharpei had unspecified ties to him (most likely either his sister or ex-wife). However, none of them were actually allied with Sludge at any time.
    • There are some clues in the Companion that they WERE in some way allied with each other, making this more of The Family That Slays Together. First, there are considerable similarities between Sharpei's Project Immortality and Vohaul's "digital consciousness" technologies from Time Rippers, so the latter may have been the prototype for the former. Second, Companion makes a connection between the disks with Vohaul's consciousness and ScumSoft, implying that Elmo Pug's software was used by Vohaul (and possibly also by Sharpei). And finally, even Raemes T. Quirk was interested in life extension and in keeping himself young, which means that Genetix and their Primordial Soup could also be a part of Project Immortality. Had the franchise not been canceled in 1996, these connections would probably have been elaborated on in the upcoming installments, such as Space Quest VII: Return to Roman Numerals.
    • White Sheep: Slash Vohaul might have been the only decent member of that family.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: In his fantasies as a macho space ranger in the Space Quest Companion Roger always carries a pair of pearl-handled laser guns.
  • Body Horror: The poor souls wandering the streets of Xenon in Space Quest IV, given a lobotomy and fixed with headgear that keeps their eyes permanently wired open. All they can manage for speech is a scream. A second example is the pukoid mutation of Space Quest V.
  • Brain Uploading: Vohaul in Space Quest IV.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Cliffy reprograms WD-40 into your science officer.
  • Bridge Bunnies: Flo in the fifth game is a subversion of one. Instead of an attractive twentysomething lady, Flo appears to be in her late forties (who knows how old she really is, as she is an alien… with green skin, as it happens) and her countless failed marriages have turned her into a bitter old crone… who nevertheless starts flirting with you once the crew starts warming up to Roger.
  • Bridge Logic: How you get across a chasm in Space Quest II.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Thanks to time recursion, if Bea dies in Space Quest V, Roger Wilco ceases to exist, because it results in the breaking of the Stable Time Loop where Roger Wilco Jr, Roger's Kid from the Future, would have went back in time to save Roger Wilco Sr. from the Sequel Police. If Bea ceases to exist, so does Roger Wilco Jr, which means so does Roger Wilco Sr.
  • Butt-Monkey: Despite being a pan-galactic hero, everyone still treats Roger like a second-rate janitor (granted, he is a second-rate janitor: when actually trying to do his job instead of adventuring, he is demonstrably terrible at it). Even after becoming a starship captain, he's still treated like crap, by both his crew (at first) and his superiors. And after stopping the Pukoid threat, he's promptly court-martialed upon return with a bunch of trumped-up charges and busted back down to janitor again. The sad thing is, he's not even court-martialed for the crimes he actually committed and weren't justified at the time.
    • The manuals from the first four games make it clear that Roger is very much a dunce. Apparently, after saving Xenon in the first game, he tried to ride the fame to wealth and success without understanding how. The result is he runs out of money funding ventures that were solely to build up his ego (specifically mentioned is a failed flop of a film of his adventure during the first game, that no one was interested in watching because it was written, directed, and produced by Roger). The second, third, and fourth games both end up not being public knowledge, which means he gets zero recognition for his efforts, and the fifth game ends with Starcon trying to cover everything up, so those, at least, are justified.
  • The Cameo: At least one in each installment, most were Sci-Fi related, but occasionally even members of the development crew would make an appearance. It should be noted that the Space Quest series was the most heavily sued of Sierra's products.
    • Space Quest I: Several famous robots appeared in the Droids-B-Us store, including the Daleks from Doctor Who, the head of Ultron, Robbie from Lost in Space and even the ones from Castle in the Sky, along with a reference to the Rifleman, buying such results in it coming in separate boxes and trying to assemble it leads to one of the boxes exploding, killing you.
      • Among the musicians performing at the bar are The Blues Brothers, a nasty Madonna parody, and originally ZZ Top.note 
    • Space Quest II: One of Vohaul's alien monsters bears a suspicious resemblance to the titular Alien. If it kisses you… nothing will happen until fifteen minutes later, when an alien bursts out of your chest, naturally killing you. Thankfully, it is pretty easy to complete the game before this happens.
    • Space Quest III: The USS Enterprise can be seen making a stop at the Monolith Burger (the Space Quest version of McDonald's), and the garbage scow's hold contains a TIE Fighter, the Jupiter 2, and the pod from the Discovery One. The ship Roger uses to escape is called the Aluminum Mallard, named after The Millenium Falcon.
    • Space Quest IV: King Graham (from the King's Quest games) can be seen in the background while Roger is waiting to be eaten in a pterodactyl nest.
    • Space Quest V: Elvis shows up in the Starcon academy. As do Darth Vader, Obi Wan Kenobi, Worf…
      • Also, the USS Enterprise, a shuttle from Star Wars, and a few other notable ships appear in the space dock at the Starcon station.
      • The training simulator that Roger exits at the beginning of the game is also modeled after The Millenium Falcon.
    • Space Quest VI: E.T. can be found on Polysorbate LX.
      • Cedric the Owl can be heard in the Golden Lightyears Retirement Community.
  • Caught in a Snare: In Space Quest II, Roger accidentally trips a hunter's snare (at least you can't see it beforehand), and is stuck there until the hunter who set it eventually comes and takes him down, intending to bring him back to his lair as lunch.
    Narrator: Eventually, the cerebral fireworks begin, and you pass out. […] You dream you're a man named Leisure Suit Larry
  • Chekhov's Gun: Among them are some of the hypothetical questions posed in the Starcon Academy Test in Space Quest V: For example, one question asks "you are stranded on an alien planet being stalked by a killer robot. What do you do?" This same situation occurs later in the game, and two of the answers to the SAT question are, in fact, the solution to the puzzle.
    • There's also the dead fish in Space Quest VI, which even the narrator starts to wonder why people keep giving it to Roger as it progressively decays over the course of the game. He ultimately uses it to defeat Sharpei.
  • The Chosen Zero: Roger, an incompetent janitor, manages to save the universe several times through sheer luck and Hidden Depths that only manifest when Roger is in a life-or-death situation.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Double Subversion; stepping out onto lava planet Ortega without special protection will cause you to die instantly from the planet's high surface temperature. The protection in question? Thermo-cooled underwear. Really.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: In Space Quest III, Roger must leap off a conveyor belt before falling into a trash grinder at the end of it.
  • Copy Protection: Lampshaded in Space Quest IV ("Okay, here's the dumb copy protection"). In all cases, the answers were All There in the Manual. The CD version did away with the copy protection entirely.
    • Was supposed to be averted in Space Quest VI if Josh Mandel hadn't quit halfway through designing the game. By the time his replacement realized the mistake, they had to include the hints that were supposed to be programmed into the game with the manual as feelies.
  • The Corruption: The Pukoid infection from Space Quest V.
  • Cosmic Retcon: According to supplementary materials (such as The Space Quest Companion and The Official Guide to Roger Wilco's Space Adventures), Roger and the Sequel Police's time travel in Space Quest IV had the effect of replacing the events of Space Quest I with its VGA remake in history.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Roger is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and a pretty marginal janitor prone to on-shift laziness. But when the chips are truly down, he manages a terrifying level of creativity at being a Spanner in the Works.
  • Darker and Edgier: Unlike the rest of the series, Space Quest V is much darker and contains some more mature themes and nightmare fuel than all the previous games combined.
  • Death World: Labion from Space Quest II, where both flora and fauna are carnivorous, Ortega from Space Quest III, and Thrakus, a fungal planet where you rescue Beatrice in Space Quest V (poison atmosphere, deadly drops, pukoid ambushes…).
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Monochrome Boys in the Space Quest I section of Space Quest IV. They make fun of Roger for his "fancy VGA graphics".
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Despite being a multi-time savior of the galaxy, few people treat Roger with any respect. Granted, Roger is implied to be a rather unpleasant person to be around.
  • Dying as Yourself: Used in Space Quest V.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Star Generator in the first game, in itself a subtle take on the more famous Death Star. Of course, as originally envisioned, the Star Generator would do just that: generate stars. It was designed (actually cribbed from a weapon designed by Vohaul) to save Xenon, as the planet's sun was burning out.
  • Easter Egg: There is at least one hidden in most of the games.
  • Edge Gravity: A rather odd example in the Space Quest I remake in which attempting to walk off a cliff after getting out of the escape pod on Kerona results in the game warning you about it before Roger automatically walks away from it. This is odd because Sierra games are notorious for their lack of Edge Gravity.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In the sixth game, Roger says he saw things inside Stellar's intestines he wouldn't even wish on Sludge Vohaul.
  • Evil Cripple: Sludge Vohaul has a habit of testing his experiments on himself, and the repeated mistakes have taken their toll.
  • Explosive Breeder: The Space Monkeys from Space Quest V, when mixed with alcohol.
  • Explosive Decompression: Sudden decompression sucks.
  • Explosive Stupidity: In Space Quest III, there's a box full of thermal detonators, which each have an impact switch. If you take one after the unstable rock bridge has fallen, and then try to pole vault over the chasm, the detonator's impact switch will cause you to explode.
    • In Space Quest IV, if you take the unstable ordnance from the tank, it explodes and kills you when you go into the sewer.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Stellar. Just look at all the random junk you come across while running around inside her body.
    • Most of the fauna (and quite a bit of the flora) on Labion doesn't particularly seem to care that you're not a planetary native. They eat you anyway. Some of them get indigestion though!
  • Face Hugger:
  • Fake Action Prologue: The beginning of the fifth game, where Captain Roger Wilco commands an intense battle on the bridge of his ship… until his viewscreen is suddenly filled with the giant image of Captain Quirk, who tells Cadet Wilco to get out of the training simulator. The introductions to the novelized walkthroughs in The Space Quest Companion do this too, even though you well know these are just Roger's macho fantasies a few pages into the first one.
  • Fan Remake: Infamous Adventures has remade Space Quest II in the visual style of Space Quest IV.
  • Gaiden Game: The Space Quest VI Demo has a different plot than Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier, involving Borg-like "Bjorn" invading the DeepShip 86, and can be considered a side-story.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: "Genetix — we play God, so you don't have to."
  • Genius Bruiser: WD-40 looks like she could rip the crew to shreds even if she wasn't a literal killing machine. She also becomes your science officer after she gets reprogrammed.
  • Gorn: Not much the deaths themselves, but a few of the death images in the VGA version of I and in III are pretty graphic (like Roger's body melting into acid or lava).
  • Good Morning, Crono: The first and third games begin this way; the attack by the Sariens wakes Roger up from a nap in the janitor's closet in the first game, and his escape pod crashing into a heap of trash wakes him up in the third game.
  • Grand Theft Me: Shows up as a plot point in both Space Quest IV and Space Quest VI.
  • Guide Dang It!: A Sierra adventure game staple. Each game has one specific thing that is extremely obtuse, while every other puzzle is either clever or straightforward. Became less of a problem after the original trilogy, though.
    • In Space Quest I, you need to get the Astral Bodies cartridge to beat the game. The only way you find out about it is to go into the Arcadia's library twice, and wait the second time until the dying scientist arrives to give you the hint. Notwithstanding the fact that you're on a severe time limit to escape, the scientist's appearance is almost random, and there's seemingly no reason to go to the library more than oncenote .
    • Also in Space Quest I, the only way to find out where the Sariens had taken the Star Generator is to have three beers at the bar. Both of these puzzles are made harder in the VGA version by the fact that the location of the Sarien ship and the name of the cartridge that has to be retrieved are randomized (And later have to be translated into a code provided in the copy protection booklet) in each playthrough, while in the EGA version the answers were hardcoded. Same for the Star Generator's self-destruct code, which changes in the VGA version, requiring you to play the cartridge to find out what it is. note 
    • In Space Quest II, the solutions for bypassing the traps leading to Vohaul's room are, at best, non-obvious. Sticking the plunger to the wall is something you might get after a while, but putting the toilet paper in the wastebasket and lighting the paper to trigger the sprinklers and burn out the robots is likely to defy conventional reasoning, since the sprinklers are not pointed out, and not in any other room in the space station.
    • In Space Quest III, you have to play the excruciatingly dull Astro Chicken game and be good at it to get the plot started. While dying will always give you a hint on how to avoid the thing that killed you, this doesn't result in death, and as a result, there's no clue that you need to do it.
      • The best hint you get is that you get points for safely landing the chicken for the ten first times before getting the message (which requires 10 safe landings in one game, or playing the game 10 times).
    • Like every Sierra game, it's possible to finish the game with Trial-and-Error Gameplay, but without a guide, you'll never get every Last Lousy Point (see below).
  • Happy Ending Override: Roger may have saved the galaxy in Space Quest V, but he is punished for all the damage he caused while saving it by being demoted back to a lowly janitor in Space Quest VI.
  • Have a Nice Death: Most deaths in the series, as is wont in a Sierra adventure series.
    • The Two Guys from Andromeda mentioned specifically in an interview that if the player was going to die a lot, at least they could provide a laugh to go along with it.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The EGA versions of the first two games let you rename Roger at the start of each game, "Roger Wilco" being the default if you leave the prompt blank.
  • "Help! Help! Trapped in Title Factory!": The main plot of Space Quest III kicks off with Roger discovering a secret message from the Two Guys from Andromeda calling for help while playing a game of "Astro Chicken".
  • Heroic Mime: Roger in the first three games (Except when he orders a Keronian Ale or three in Space Quest I). Starting with Space Quest IV, he gets regular dialogue.
  • Hints Are for Losers: The hint books have several fake hints and berate the player for spoiling the game by looking ahead.
    • In the in-game hint book in IV, most of the hints have absolutely nothing to do with the game, except for two that give vital codes. Makes a certain amount of sense, since the hints are for Space Quest IV, and the game you're playing in is technically Space Quest XII.
    • In XI, solving a particular puzzle before you get the in-game hint that lets you do it earns you a berating by the narrator, followed by losing nearly all of your points. The narrator then apparently decides that's just too mean and gives them back to you.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Space Quest I. Hoo boy.
    • Hilariously, when you buy the right ship off him (naturally it's the most expensive) and figure out how to get it to take off, you then find out that he sold you some other guy's ship.
      • Even MORE hilariously, if you pay close attention during the takeoff, the guy who comes screaming at you for taking his ship is also a man who will mug you if you follow him earlier. Enjoy some intergalactic karma!
  • Human Popsicle: Beatrice in the fifth game. The Eureka crew also uses it against the Goliath.
    • Also the end of the second game, though the sleep chamber doesn't explicitly freeze people. Since your escape pod is running out of oxygen from a leak and getting in the sleep chamber saves you despite the lack of air, however, it can be implied that this is what the end result is.
  • Indy Escape
  • Indy Ploy: Roger is a grandmaster of this stunt. The only game where there is anything resembling a plan is when the crew is boarding the Goliath in Space Quest V.
    • Even then, it's more "Infiltrate here, get here, flip the switch, try not to die." That's the entire plan.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Done in the introduction to Space Quest VI to help assert that Status Quo Is God.
    • Then taken to extremes as Roger is stripped of his uniform, his gloves and boots, a set of prosthetic muscles, and his jockstrap.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence:
    • In Space Quest II, you must navigate a maze of alien tentacles. If you so much as barely touch one of the tentacles, the head of the alien will come and eat you. Annoyingly, the tentacles are so low to the ground that realistically one could carefully tiptoe over them. You also have to navigate this maze twice.
    • In Space Quest III, for once, one that benefits the player. When on Phleebhut, you'll be stalked by Arnoid the tax-collecting robot and killed at once if he catches you. But for whatever reason, he can't walk past the edge of a dune in the foreground. If you can make it past that, you're safe.
  • Interactive Narrator: Roger ends up bickering with the narrator a few times, and at the end of the sixth game, he threatens to mess him up good. Stellar, meanwhile, wonders who the heck Roger is talking to.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He puts his life in danger constantly to save the day, the galaxy, or just his friends, but the way he deals with the random NPCs in a lot of the games, you can see why most people treat him like crap.
  • Kid from the Future: Space Quest IV, also mentioned a number of times in various death messages in Space Quest V. That is, the ones where Roger Jr.'s future mother dies before he's born, and you die because he never came back to save you.
    Bea is dead. In an alternate future, she would have borne your son. In the future past of Space Quest IV, your son would have saved your life. But she didn't... so he couldn't... therefore, you aren't.
  • Last Lousy Point: As per Sierra standards, there's always some tiny task, easily overlooked, that will deny you a perfect score if neglected.
    • In Space Quest I, killing the Orat one way instead of another will net you less points.
    • In Space Quest II, failure to silence the emergency beacon, which otherwise has no effectnote , will miss you one point.
    • In Space Quest III, killing the collector android in one way instead of two others will get you less points (the creators prefer cleverness over practicality, making this one difficult).
      • Also, forgetting to look under the pilot's seat in your spacecraft for spare change will cost you some points.
    • In Space Quest IV, failure to pick up a specific item, and then immediately put it back loses you a few points.
    • In Space Quest V, not beating Captain Quirk at Space Battleship (mostly a Luck-Based Mission) will prevent you from getting 50 points (out of 5000).
    • Subversion in the Fan Sequel Space Quest 0 - you can get about 115/101 points if you know where the Easter Eggs are hidden.
  • Left Hanging: Roger rescues Beatrice in Space Quest V. Though showing signs of Pre Monster Syndrome due to exposure to the Primordial Soup and its tendency to cause subsequent mutation into a Pukoid, she is cured by the end of the game, so it's unclear if this is what Roger Wilco Jr. is referring to when hesitantly describing Beatrice, or if he is referring to some future event. The depiction of the future event Roger Wilco Jr. may be hinting at, Roger's eventual marriage to Beatrice, and Beatrice giving birth to Roger Wilco Jr. are not fully acknowledged or depicted in later games.
  • Lemony Narrator: The voiced narrator in the voiced games. That's not to say the non-voiced narrator in the non-voiced games doesn't have his moments, too. It doesn't help that he seriously does not think much of Roger.
    (After Roger gets eaten alive)
    Narrator: Don't stop now. We're having so much fun watching you.
  • Lighter and Softer: As in Space Quest V and Space Quest VI, the art style has become progressively more cartoon-like, despite the violence is still retained (Such as the Explosive Decompression screen where Roger's head starts flashing red and simply bursts like a bubble in a cartoonish manner).
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Appears in Space Quest V as a death and Space Quest VI as a puzzle solution.
  • Loser Protagonist: Again, Roger Wilco. Generally incompetent and lazy, and frequently so unlucky that it seems everyone in the galaxy is out to get him. Just about his only asset is that he's implied to have a fair amount of cleverness, given all the convoluted situations he solves.
  • Magikarp Power: The fish. Only, instead of leveling up and gaining power until it becomes the ultimate weapon, it rots and decays its way into it.
  • Manchild: Roger has shades of this coloring his bizarre hyper-competence. For example, after taking control of his own starship in Space Quest V, he gives a rousing (and random) speech to his new crew members, who ignore him, before sitting in his chair and spinning around with his hands in the air.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    "Casually glancing up at the status bar, you happen to notice that you're in Space Quest Twelve."
  • No Hero to His Valet: One of the reasons Roger doesn't get much respect is because when you get past this man who has saved the day numerous times, you realize you are dealing with someone who is a lazy, annoying, rude, mooching, somewhat incompetent, Jerkass to most people.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Deleting Space Quest IV from the supercomputer immediately quits to operating system, with no warning. Also, trying things the game designers didn't anticipate.
  • Player Nudge: Starting in Space Quest III, the death messages start giving subtle hints on how to avoid certain deaths (often mocking the player in the process). The remake of Space Quest I (and the Fan Remake of Space Quest II) give similar hints.
  • Press Start to Game Over: Provides the page quote.
  • Press X to Die: A few of the methods of dying are blatantly obvious, and have to be deliberately triggered by the player (usually after the narrator warns you against it). Then again, given that some of the steps needed to win sometimes fall under Violation of Common Sense
    • Probably the most common death is making Roger Wilco walk off a ledge. Although oddly enough, the Space Quest I remake had a point when you got out of your escape pod and there was a cliff. Attempting to walk off the cliff had the game warn you about it before Roger automatically walked away from it. Quite shocking considering this is a Sierra title in which Yet Another Stupid Death is easily achieved in this manner.
    • Space Quest I: Your escape pod has a button which is explicitly marked "DO NOT PRESS". If you do press it, you end up crashing into King's Quest I: Quest For The Crown (or Conquests of the Longbow in the remake), suffering fatal injuries in the process.
    • Space Quest IV: Trying to "use" the change machine will give you a warning that if you bang on it, the self-defense mechanism will activate. If you "use" it again, you die.
    • Space Quest V: You can set your ship to self-destruct or pull the plug on the life support system / power system. Though the former is actually required at the very end of the game.
  • Product Placement: The Sprint logo in communication transmissions in Space Quest V. Not so surprising since Next Mutation was one of several Sierra games people could get as a reward for signing up for service.
  • Punny Name: "Roger" and "wilco" are words used in two-way radio communications with nearly identical meanings. "Roger" means "received and understood", and "wilco" means the same, plus "and will comply".
  • Recycled In Space: The series is the snarkier, raunchier, and somewhat Darker and Edgier little brother of King's Quest, taking on sci-fi tropes where King's Quest took on fantasy ones.
  • Red Herring: In the fourth game and the VGA remake of the first, you get the "Lick" and "Smell" commands, in addition to the standard "Walk", "Look", and "Use". They serve no purpose but to add flavor and make Roger seem crazy as he goes around licking and smelling everything. They also provide some new deaths which really are to be expected from tasting and inhaling dubious substances.
  • Red Shirt: Parodied in Space Quest V because Roger, now a starship captain, is the one wearing the red shirt.
    • Eventually lampshaded by Droole, who says it is bad luck.
    • Roger can't die in the fifth game until he gets the red shirt — it is only possible to lose in some ways that do not involve death.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Stellar Santiago is introduced as an old friend (and potential romantic interest) of Roger's without any prior evidence of her existence.
  • Retcon: In the original game (the EGA version), the Star Generator was designed by Slash Vohaul, who wanted nothing more than to help the people of Xenon, and worried terribly about what would happen if someone stole it and used it for evil, to the point of including a self-destruct code in it. In the second game, Sludge Vohaul reveals that the Xenon scientists stole his weapon plans and redesigned them to make the Star Generator, and that he was actually The Man Behind the Man for the Sariens.
  • Ret-Gone: What happens to both Jr. and Roger if Beatrice dies.
  • Retraux: In Space Quest V, in the Eureka's maintenance tunnel, you can pull a fuse that's labelled "EGA-to-VGA Adaptor". Doing so renders everything in 16 colors rather than 256 until you put it back in.
    • Space Quest IV has you travelling to Ulence Flats in Space Quest I, and it's possible to get to Ortega in Space Quest III, though stepping outside of your time pod in the latter results in you melting very quickly.
  • Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: Space Quest IV, with its Time Travel theme, labelled its various time periods using sequel numbers. The post-apocalyptic future into which Roger was initially thrown is identified as "Space Quest XII"; the galactic mall in the "Space Quest X" period also tosses a reference to King's Quest XXXXVIII: The Quest For More Disk Space (back in the days before CD-ROM drives) stated to be by "Roberta Williams III: the latest in the critically acclaimed Roberta Williams series".
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: Pretty much sums up Roger's place in most of the games.
  • Schmuck Bait: "THIS BUTTON IS NOT TO BE PRESSED AT ANY TIME" in the first game's escape pod. Go ahead, press it…
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The SCS Eureka of SQ5 is equipped with one of those. It's needed towards the end of the game. Ditto for the Arcada in the first game, where it is activated just before the start of the game.
  • Series Continuity Error: Whether it's deliberate is debatable, but the Terminator-style robots in 3 and 5 are out to kill Roger because he forgot to pay for a mail-order whistle he received for free in the second game. With compounded interest (and the fact that Roger went into cryogenic sleep between games 2 and 3), the bounty on Roger's head is stated to be over 400,000 buckazoids.
    • The Space Quest Companion Hand Waved the coupon as a gift for a public television pledge which Roger (obviously) never followed through on. The Gippazoid Novelty Company which advertises the whistles also makes the "death slot machines" which the player was required to beat in the first game; not exactly the most trustworthy company in the galaxy…
      • The Fan Remake of Space Quest II patches the plothole by removing the phrase "pre-paid" from the description of the order form.
    • Another one involves the introduction from Space Quest VI, in which they commend Roger for returning the SCS Eureka. The same SCS Eureka he blew up to kill the Big Bad in the previous game, it was the SCS Goliath he managed to save. Considering it happens during a clearly humiliating and one-sided court martial, this could be waved as proof that The Federation is just another hopelessly corrupt and incompetence-riddled entity in Roger's life.
  • Shout-Out: Blatantly on multiple occasions; the SQ1 remake features one of "The Unseen", a Starfleet shuttle, an opening cutscene similar to the capture of the Blockade Runner in Star Wars: A New Hope, a Krayt Dragon Ribcage Ridge from the latter, and a Romulan Warbird. It's a wonder Sierra didn't get sued over it all.
    • Legal action forced them to change "Droids-R-Us" in the first game to "Droids-B-Us", and to change "Radio Shock" in the fourth to "Hertz So Good". They also got in trouble from ZZ Top's management for having an Expy of the band in the VGA remake. The latter were still unused in the code, so they could be restored by hacking.
    • That didn't stop them from making a joke out of it, as can be seen here.
  • Solar CPR: The Star Generator.
  • Space Cadet Academy: Space Quest V starts at the Starcon Academy.
  • Space Sector: Several of the games use different definitions for space sectors, ranging from Sector EG in Space Quest I, to Sector 82 on a grid in Space Quest III.
  • Spanner in the Works: It might as well be the title of Roger's memoirs. His being the Right Man in the Wrong Place and just smart enough to screw up a carefully laid Evil Plan is the only reason the antagonists don't get away with their schemes.
  • Suddenly Blonde: Roger has brown hair in the EGA games and blond hair in the VGA games (including the remake of Space Quest I).
  • Take a Number: In Space Quest VI, you take a number and get 3. However, the current number being served is 4, and it counts up from there.
  • Take That!:
    • In Space Quest VI, you find a game in the arcade on Polysorbate LX, FWIW:
    Narrator: What are you going to do? Play more Dull Combat 3?
    • Directed at Roger (and the player) when you use the hand icon on the panels of the food replicator.
    Narrator: The access panels are tightly sealed to keep people who don't know what they're doing away from the controls.... Yes, people like YOU!
  • Temporal Paradox: "But she didn't, so he couldn't — therefore you aren't."
  • This Loser Is You: Roger Wilco: space janitor, not terribly bright, not even that good-looking. Also, our hero.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Some of the deaths throughout the series play this for all it's worth.
  • Torpedo Tits: The assassin droid WD-40 from the 5th game.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The whole series.
  • Trouser Space: Lampshaded in Space Quest II:
    • *picks up wastebasket* "Aren't you amazed at how much stuff and adventure game hero can carry? You've just got to know how to pack."
    • And again in Space Quest III:
      • *picks up ladder* "You grab the ladder and jam it into your pocket. Ouch!"
    • And again again in Space Quest VI:
  • True Companions: Oddly enough, there seems to be one on the Eureka with Flo, Cliffy, Droole and WD-40. It's only later that the three of them accept Roger.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Many, many examples — the hoverbike obstacle course and the slot machine in SQ1, Astro Chicken and Ms. Astro Chicken...
    • In the remake of Space Quest I, the slot machine and the hoverbike become optional. In Space Quest IV, Ms. Astro Chicken, unlike the previous game, serves absolutely no purpose, but there's no indication it serves no purpose. Conversely, Astro Chicken in Space Quest III serves a very important purpose (it gets the plot moving, for god's sake!), but there's no indication that it serves that purpose! Argh!
  • Unwinnable by Design: As a classic Adventure Game, it's easy to miss any number of items that are later required to solve puzzles (or die trying), some of them crossing into Guide Dang It! territory. Among them:
    • In the first game, when someone offers to buy your hovercraft, if you accept his first offer, you'll miss out on a jetpack needed to maneuver in zero-gravity later in the game. And if you forget to take the ignition key from your skimmer after declining the man's first offer, he'll simply steal it from you.
    • Likewise, if you forget the emergency kit from the escape pod, you won't have the water necessary to avoid dying of dehydration, or (in the VGA remake) the emergency knife needed to acquire an item. Also, that shattered windshield? Better take some glass from it. Trust me on this one.
      • The first two games are full of these, in fact: if you break the slot machine, it will never work again. Oh, you bought the wrong droid? Restore. Failed to take the rope after you escaped the hunter? Restore. Did you drink five beers at the bar? You'll wake up behind the bar, missing key parts of your inventory. Restore. Didn't use the order form to get the Labion Terror Beast whistle and now you're in the caves or beyond? Restore. In a lot of cases, you'll be pretty far beyond the location where you needed to get a critical item, with no way to return. Hope you've been using more than one save.
    • Or in the fourth game (SQ12 area), if you don't think to write down the SQ12 code before taking off in the Time Pod, you'll never have the coordinates to return there. In the CD version this code is always the same, but in the original (floppy disk) version it is generated randomly on each playthrough.
    • Some of the other games are a little nicer, by presenting you with (non lethal) puzzles that simply bar your passage if you don't have the required item to beat them. Space Quest V has a blink-and-miss-it puzzle where you have to match holes in a punch card, and if you get it wrong the game kindly resets the card so you can try again (rather than having to reload your previous save from several puzzles earlier).
    • And in almost every case of Have a Nice Death, there's a hint about what you should do, most notably starting in Space Quest III, although there's usually a thinly veiled insult as well.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: The opening cutscene to Space Quest V.
  • Vader Breath: Vohaul from Space Quest II.
  • Vapor Ware: A teaser trailer for a seventh game was included in the 1997 Space Quest compilation, but the game ended up being canceled in 1999 after Sierra was bought out and most of the employees were laid off (including Murphy, who called it "Chainsaw Monday").
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: A common pastime for fans of the series is finding all the hilarious ways Roger can die.
  • What Does This Button Do?: The emergency button in the escape pod labeled DO NOT PUSH.
  • What You Are in the Dark: A surprisingly common trope for a comic series.
    • In the first one, you have a ship and a pilot droid. It's a ship full of mean, nasty Sarien bandits against one not-so-Almighty Janitor. The pilot droid suggests hauling tail. It's a Non-Standard Game Over if you take it.
    • In the second one, no one knows about Vohaul's plan. In theory, you could save your own hide instead of shutting down Vohaul's life insurance salesman invasion. Again, Non-Standard Game Over if you take it.
    • In the third, Roger technically didn't have to rescue those two ingrates from Andromeda.
    • In the fifth? Well, Star-Con was totally willing to look the other way while their golden boy dumped toxic waste on remote planets and blew off the concerns of the young female ambassador representing many of the dump sites. In fact, Roger gets punished for doing the right thing and stopping Quirk.
    • The sixth one? Again, he could have turned his back on Stellar and none would be the wiser. In fact, his continued existence requires he meet and marry a completely different woman and father a child with her, since said offspring comes back from the future to save Roger in the fourth game. Instead, he runs off to stop her from being body snatched by a wealthy well-connected admiral's widow.
  • Xenomorph Xerox: In Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, when a Xenomorph-like alien with red lips kisses Roger, a green baby alien bursts forth from Roger's body. In Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, Spike is an acid-spitting Face Hugger who befriends Roger. In Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier, a ship in the shuttle bay is probably carrying aliens that are very similar to the description of a Xenomorph. And then there's Wriggley, who may have a thing for Xenomorph-like creatures.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Roger Wilco can die in some... very interesting ways, including from plain player stupidity.
  • You Are Fat: Roger tends to make fat jokes at Sludge Vohaul's expense a lot, calling him names like "Mr. Slime", "Slop", "Porky", and "Old Fatback". The Narrator did it once too in the second game, calling him "His Lardness".

Astro Chicken

Astro Chicken is a Game Within a Game that appears in several Space Quest installments. The gameplay involves trying to get a falling chicken on a trampoline. You can make the chicken fly left or right, but doing so cost you feed. Running out feed causes the chicken to be unable to fly.

This game within a game has examples of:

  • Distaff Counterpart: Ms. Astro Chicken although her game has different game play.
  • Expy: It's the old Moon Lander game with chickens.
  • Fuel Meter of Power: Flying costs you feed.
  • Made of Explodium: The chicken EXPLODES if you touch the green bumps next to the trampoline.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The game's theme is a variation of the folk song "Chicken Reel".
  • Stylistic Suck: At the end of Space Quest III, the Two Guys from Andromeda are very pleased that Ken Williams has never heard of Astro Chicken.