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Western Animation / Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles

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"Live forever, apes."
Lt. Razak

Brutto: The LT's insane!
"Doc": Hey, we're fighting giant bugs on freaking Pluto, man! We're all insane!

Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles was an animated CGI series based on Starship Troopers, a novel by Robert A. Heinlein that had long-lasting impact on the development of Science Fiction and chronicled Earth's war against the Bugs, an insectoid alien species. The series combined elements of both the original novel and the movie adaptation to create a hybrid series that retained the action/adventure story of the movie, but with additional characterization and personal relationships. The series followed the exploits of "Razak's Roughnecks" throughout an ever-expanding Bug War.

The series ran into horrible behind-the-scenes production problems including hiring four different animation teams — Foundation Imaging, Flat Earth Productions, Hyper Image and Rainbow Studios — to work on the episodes, and was never properly finished. Forty episodes were ordered and thirty-six were produced, leaving the conclusion of the final story arc unresolved. To fill the original order, four clip-shows were created from earlier episodes, one of which also included plot-relevant new footage. The series is divided into eight campaigns, each composed of five episodes which follow the Roughnecks through the numerous battles of an individual combat theatre. Each campaign contains an individual storyline within the larger context of the Bug War, to create one single over-arching plot.


To see the rest of the media, see Starship Troopers.

Roughnecks contains examples of:

  • 24-Hour Armor: Justified: the MI troopers often find themselves on worlds with unbreathable or no atmosphere, and their insulated power suits keep them alive. Also, T'phai is never seen without armor after joining the Roughnecks due being a Skinny, thus breathing methane.
  • Abnormal Ammo: The Skinnies' constrictor-foam guns.
  • Adaptational Badass: The Skinnies: in the novel they were cannon fodder, and a single understrength MI platoon could demolish one of their cities suffering only one casualty, but here they actually give SICON a run for their money.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Basically takes the best of the novel and film and smooshes it all together, with a few twists of its own, and dumps the rest (especially the controversial political anvils).
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  • A Father to His Men: Lieutenant Razak cares about each and every member of his squad, and they love him in return. He will risk any of their lives if the mission calls for it, but he will be right there with them and he will never waste their lives.
  • All of Them: Three times:
    • During the Zephyr Campaign, the Zephyr has crashed on a frozen asteroid and is besieged by "firefries," Bugs which breathe fire. When Razak was away from the ship and being called back by Higgins, he asked how many Bugs were attacking. Higgins responded with "too many."
    • Before the invasion of Klendathu, Higgins attempted to get information about the upcoming mission from Razak for his report. When he asked about the scale of the invasion, Razak replied "Every ship, every trooper."
    • In the Homefront Campaign, the Bugs invaded Earth. How many Bugs? All of them.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted, Tesca is the only alien planet where the Roughnecks can safely use unpressurized suits.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • The start of the Klendathu arc, when Bug!Zander hijacks the Valley Forge.
    • The "Homefront" arc, the final arc of the series, revolves around a Bug invasion of Earth.
  • Alien Invasion: Unlike the movie and book, the bugs end up invading Earth itself in the final campaign episodes.
  • Always Night: On Pluto. Justified as, even at its closest approach, Pluto is over four billion kilometers from the Sun.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: The Infiltrator Bugs keep talking about the weather every time they pass the Roughnecks. It initially provides T'Phai some good snark material, where he brings up that it has always confused him why humans are so preoccupied with the weather, but soon the squad gets concerned when they notice that everybody they pass keeps harping on what a beautiful day it is.
  • Artificial Gravity: The Valley Forge and other starships like it can turn their gravity on or off as needed.
  • Artificial Limbs: Razak's arm and Rocquefort's eye.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Well, chemistry technically, but Hydora's atmosphere is described as being 25% oxygen, 75% hydrogen. Ladies and gentlemen, Hydora has flammable air. Given all the rocket thrusters, gunfire and bombs going off, what is stopping the atmosphere from catching fire?
    • The Zephyr Campaign. The asteroid is stated at least twice to be airless/have a trace atmosphere, yet it has precipitation (snow) and at one point we have a pool of liquid water exposed to the "air"; it should have flashed to vapor given the lack of air pressure.
  • Artistic License – Space: Winged bugs flying on Pluto. Pluto does technically have an atmosphere (composed of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide), but it's about one tenth of one percent of one percent of the density of Earth's atmosphere. Good luck flying in that.
  • Aside Glance: One of Doc and Gossard's favorite comedic techniques.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Bugs are seen surviving without equipment on atmosphere-free Pluto (Pluto does technically have an atmosphere, but see Artistic License – Space), the methane-atmosphere of Tophet, the not-quite-oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere of Klendathu and the oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere of Earth. They are also seen, on occasion, underwater, although there appear to also be water-specific bugs used for aquatic missions.
  • Berserk Button: T'Phai does not like being called a lackluster husband.
  • Betty and Veronica: Dizzy and Carmen.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dizzy is the character who most frequently comes to a dramatic rescue of a Roughneck in trouble, but each member of the squad gets his own chance to save somebody else.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Skinnies breathe a methane atmosphere with an average temperature too high for human survival. When T'Phai was caught in a fire during the Klendathu Campaign the other Roughnecks fear for his life, but he explains his heat tolerance is much greater than theirs and mentions that it was the first time he has been warm in the months since he left Tophet.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Dizzy.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The last shot of the series is of a massive fleet of transport bugs descending on Earth.
  • Bottle Episode
  • Bottomless Magazines: Guns throw out long sprays o bullets, and only rarely is anyone seen to reload or run dry.
  • Brain Food: The Brain Bugs obviously.
  • Breath Weapon: The Blaster bugs, Firefries and Tankers breathe fire, and the Blister bugs spit acid.
  • Bug War: An adaptation of the Trope Codifier and Namer.
  • The Bus Came Back: Sergeant Brutto sends a few letters after he left the Roughnecks, but then re-appears for the penultimate episode at Lieutenant Razak's funeral.
  • Butt-Monkey: For the first three campaigns, any time a Roughneck needed to be knocked out, kidnapped or shot it would be Goss, at least before the rest got around to being attacked, too. As the series progressed the punishment began to be evenly distributed.
  • Call-Back: When Bug!Zander is about to kill Rico during the Klendathu Campaign, Dizzy reminds him of the time they had spent together in the Tesca Campaign and quotes back to him his earlier words of friendship and (potentially) love.
  • Cannot Spit It Out
  • Cartwright Curse: Dizzy believes this to be the case, but of all her relationships only Zander was killed or removed from the series. Lampshaded when Diz tries to give Johnnie an It's Not You, It's My Enemies speech to hold off a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Carl Jenkins is never wrong, not once in the entire series, but after each psychic pronouncement the squadmates and S.I.C.O.N. superiors complain that he is incorrect. Eventually, Carl points out that he has been proven right before, which gets him at least some credibility with the squad.
    • In the Tesca Campaign, Rico is injured and stuck in a medical People Jar while he screams that he hears Bugs approaching, "...they're coming, they're almost here, can't you hear them!?" The doctor believe he is traumatized from his injuries and plan to classify him as Section Eight, which involves a Mind Wipe to remove the memory of the traumatic event, thus "killing" that version of Rico. It turns out the tank he is in is conducting sounds from underground, where the Bugs are digging their tunnels.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Notably, the one time the Roughnecks run into an exception is a major clue that the inhabitants of a small town are not what they appear, just as it would be in real life.
  • Chained Heat: Rico and T'Phai chain themselves together to keep from being separated when the squad is being picked off one by one. Rico learns to like T'Phai during this time, and accepts that it was not his fault that Carl Jenkins was wounded during the Tophet Campaign.
  • Climactic Battle Resurrection: The invasion of Hawaii brings back nearly every Bug subspecies seen in the series.
  • Clip Show: Four of these, produced to help keep up with the show's shaky broadcast schedule.
  • Colonel Badass: T'Phai. Even after he takes a demotion to Private in order to join the Roughnecks, the other troopers routinely refer to him as The Colonel.
  • Composite Character:
    • Lieutenant Razak is a composite of Lieutenant Colonel DuBois, who was one of Rico's teachers in High School, and Lieutenant "Rasczak," his commanding officer, from the novel. This same combination was made in the film.
    • Carl, a friend of Rico's from High School, and Jenkins, one of his squad-mates, in the novel were combined into one character.
  • Continuity Nod: Production-model C.H.A.S. units appear later in the show, on the bridge of the Valley Forge and the basecamp on Klendathu. A Running Gag seems to be that whenever they are shown they get almost immediately destroyed by a casual swipe from a single Bug.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Dizzy and Ibanez both try this with Rico when he's in a coma during the Tesca campaign.
  • Creepy Monotone:
    • At times the psychic Carl fell into this.
    • Zander, following his transformation.
  • Cute Bruiser: Dizzy.
  • Cut Short: Just as they were setting up for a big climax. Four clip-shows were produced instead.
  • Death World: Some of the planets shown have particularly hostile local ecologies, in addition to environmental hazards from the atmosphere.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The whole purpose behind the Imposter Bugs and the Infiltrator Bugs, who use their human(ish) bodies to try and infiltrate the human armies.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Zim is a Reconstruction in the show. In flashbacks, we see him putting on the whole DSM routine, but when Rico can't make it over an obstacle near the end of training and gives up, Zim helps him the rest of the way. When he joins the squad on the front lines late in the series, he drops the facade entirely in favor of being a Sergeant Rock and Hypercompetent Sidekick to the inexperienced Rico.
  • Drop Ship: Separate versions are used for orbital drop and retrieval, though the orbital version is sometimes seen making direct landings, notably on Hydora.
    • Drop Pod: When the troopers get dropped into battle, they do so encased in armor pods to allow them to survive re-entry. The pods break apart afterwards leaving the Troopers free to move before landing.
  • Earth Is a Battlefield: The final campaign
  • Embarrassing First Name: Brutto's first name is Francis. When an A.I. reveals this to the team, he threatens them if they make fun of it.
  • Epiphany Therapy: With a telepathic boost
  • Everyone Went to School Together:
    • Rico, Dizzy, Carl, Carmen and Zander were all at High School school together. Lt. Razak was one of their teachers.
    • In the Homefront Campaign, it is revealed that Lieutenant Razak, Sergeant Zim and General Redwing attended basic training together, only drifting apart after years of service when Razak retired to teach, Zim became a training drill instructor and Redwing climbed the officer ranks.
  • Evolutionary Levels: When discussing the Bugs use of genetic engineering to produce new hybrid species, they explain it as thousands of years of evolution happening at once.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Zander, Combined with The Corruption and Body Horror, culminating in What Have I Become? and Redemption Equals Death.
  • Faceless Mooks: Standard Mobile Infantry battle armor includes a full helmet, which can make it difficult to identify individual team members. However, to make sure viewers know who is who, personnel names are written on the helmets of all troopers, including extras, to maintain individuality.
  • Fake Arm Disarm: Razak manages to get his prosthetic burned, chewed, or ripped off about a half-dozen times.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Members of the squad, particularly Sergeant Brutto, frequently ridicule and insult Carl Jenkins because of his psychic powers, and at one point actually decide his death is preferable to breaking radio silence on a mission. Brutto never does completely accept Jenkins, but he does wear the M.I.A. armband after he leaves the squad, explaining "Jenkins was a freak, but was our freak."
    • Colonel T'phai initially finds it hard to become part of the team because of their natural dislike of the Skinnies, who they had been fighting right up until a short while ago. Rico maintains his dislike the longest, but eventualy the Roughnecks accept him into the squad.
  • Fatal Family Photo: On Klendathu, Higgins finds a photograph folded within a half-written letter. He laments that the writer, whoever he was, presumably did not even get to finish his letter to his loved ones on Earth before he was killed.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Higgins.
  • The Federation: SICON (the Strategically Integrated Coalition Of Nations). Called "Psycho" by the troops.
  • From Bad to Worse: During the Homefront Campaign, Lieutenant Razak has just been Killed Off for Real, but hey, at least they stopped the Bugs' subterranean attack. Then, while the whole team is trying to cope with their loss...
    Soldier: "Lieutenant Walker, emergency briefing in ten! The Bugs have hit a dozen other cities. It's bad."
    Carl: "Understatement."
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gossard, inventor of the T.A.L.C.Box and go-to guy for last-minute jury-rig spaceship repairs.
  • Gatling Good: Large miniguns are used by the troopers several times throughout the series, either on stationary ground-defense platforms or mounted on vehicles.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Dizzy even used one to make her point to a cliffmite.
  • Greek Chorus: Higgins, who doubles as narrator for the series.
  • Groin Attack: At the start of the Klendathu campaign Brutto shoots Higgins in the crotch with a tranq dart, so the Bug that was throwing him around would lose interest and drop him.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Zander, and later the Infiltrator Bugs.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Colonel T'Phai. Of course, he was Not Himself during his Heel phase.
  • Hell Is That Noise: In one episode, Rico hears a mysterious and creepy grinding sound while in a recovery vat after sustaining heavy injuries in battle, a sound no one else can hear. His crew and the medical team working on him all worry about his mental health. Ultimately, bugs emerge in the base and they realize he could hear them tunneling in because the tank, being bolted to the floor, was amplifying the noise.
    Rico: THANK YOU!
  • Heroic RRoD: During the Tophet campaign, Carl - already in bad shape - uses a burst of psychic power to destroy a Control Bug. However, the psychic strain of doing so renders him catatonic/comatose; he doesn't show up again until Klendathu, having undergone extensive work to "repair the damage".
  • Hero of Another Story: Several other squads make appearances, including Zebra Squad and Andrew's Aces.
  • Hive Caste System: The Bugs, naturally, have this, with Queens as supreme leaders and producers of new generations, Brain Bugs as "thinkers", and other species of Bug genetically engineered to fulfill specific roles in the greater hive.
  • Hive Queen: The Queen Bugs, who combine the biological role of a eusocial queen with active leadership and being the center of the Bugs' telepathic network.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Brutto and T'phai, of all people. They even comment on it themselves at one point, in a network-friendly way.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The Skinnies, who have a basic bipedal humanoid configuration, just elongated and gangly compared to humans.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Skinnies are forced to enlist with SICON in order to fight in the war against the Bugs. Thus, Colonel T'Phai spends several episodes being pointedly addressed as Private T'Phai out of spite. Contrast to the rest of the squad, who normally get addressed on a rank-free Last-Name Basis.
  • Instant Expert: T'phai learns fluent English between one episode and the next, although the implication is that there has been time spent to integrate the Skinnies into the S.I.C.O.N. military.
  • It's Raining Men: The orbital drops for the Mobile Infantry reappear here.
  • Jet Pack: A realistically large jetpack, the Wasp, is seen in one episode. The smaller backpack-sized units are used in lieu of parachutes, and for short range jumps.
  • "Join the Army," They Said: Given that this is a show about soldiers in a brutal war, naturally, mockery of the propaganda used to entice them to enlist is a frequent element.
  • Just a Machine: Zig-zagged. When the squad is assigned an Automaton in the form of C.H.A.S., the squad, aside from Higgens, is dismissive of him due to this trope. When C.H.A.S. performs a Heroic Sacrifice for Higgens, he insists on this trope himself.
    C.H.A.S.: I was never alive.
  • Karmic Transformation
  • Killed Off for Real: Zander and Lieutenant Razak
  • Kill It with Fire: Hand flamers appear here; also the Arachnid Tanker Bugs and firefries.
  • Lady of War: Carmen.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!"
  • Last-Name Basis: Brutto is known by his last name only for the most part because he considers Francis to be an Embarrassing First Name.
  • Latex Space Suit: For the pilots and civilians, at least, while the Troopers' suits were heavier and armored, but still more flexible and less bulky than real spacesuits.
  • Laughing Mad: Zander, during the initial stages of his infection.
  • Left Hanging: The show was cancelled due to budget problems at the height of the invasion of Earth.
  • LEGO Genetics: The Bugs produce new strains of their species by feeding samples of local lifeforms to a specialist caste of "Nurse Bugs", who create a chemical slurry that is used to splice genes harvested from those lifeforms into hatchling Bugs so that they will absorb desirable traits and become better adapted for specific worlds and specific roles. As we see with Zander, it works in reverse too, as bugs can create infested terra-um, that is, "infected humans" by feeding us their DNA.
  • Literal Cliffhanger
  • Living Ship: The Transport Bugs (which have Faster-Than-Light Travel) and the asteroid-sized Ice Bug, which does not, and consequently spends thousands to millions of years hibernating in deep space between stars.
  • Love Redeems: Zander has been transformed into a human/Bug hybrid and is spearheading a new plan that might spell doom for the human invasion of Klendathu, but Dizzy managed to break through his new intentions by reminding him of their time together and asking him to join her, and humanity as a whole, again.
  • Love Triangle: Dizzy loves Rico, Rico loves Carmen, Carmen does not love anybody. Eventually each character pursues other relationships when they realize that the current dynamics will not change. Of course, that is when the dynamic does change.
  • Made of Iron: The Bug Queen takes a lot of punishment, and in "Checkmate" is seen survive a number of giant stone pillar crash on her and a direct hit from a grenade, plus hundreds of rifle rounds. Then exaggerated in "Trackers", when she somehow survives a nuke and the destruction of the Super Transport Bug.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Lampshaded in Higgins' narration; the Roughnecks are always on point in the most critical missions of the war.
    Higgins: When the going gets tough, the tough do all the heavy lifting.
    • The two named pilots Barcalow and Ibanez pilot whatever type of spacecraft the episode requires; from fighters and dropships to capital warships.
  • Meaningful Funeral: The Roughnecks gather, including former members and General Miriam Redwing, to lay the ashes of Lieutenant Razak to rest over a wild lake at sunrise, per his final request in his will.
  • Meat Puppet: It is revealed towards the end of the Tophet Campaign that the Skinnies are not allies of the Bugs, but rather that mind-controlling Bugs have attached themselves to the spines of the entire species and enslaved them all.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: Crosses over with Drop Pod. Insertion armor is designed to provide a re-entry shield for powered armor, and cary extra dakka to defend the drop zone. After the ammo runs out, it pops off. In one episode, Johnny's drop armor gets clipped by a plasma blast while in orbit.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Marauders are one-man exoskeletons used to add further firepower and muscle beyond that provided by the standard Mobile Infantry Powered Armor.
  • The Mole: The Imposter Bugs attempt to sneak onto human bases by dressing up in Mobile Infantry armor, but are discovered in quick order. The Infiltrator Bugs, on the other hand, are human/bug hybrids and can actually transform into humans (Outwardly, at least) and pass completely unnoticed. Until they ask about the weather, that is.
  • Monster Threat Expiration: Hoppers. When they are introduced on Pluto they are immune to pulse rifle rounds, requiring grenades or rockets. By the Tesca Nemerosa campaign, pulse rifles kill them with ease.
  • Monumental Damage: Though we do not see it, the Bugs opened their invason of Earth with the destruction of the White House, the Eiffel Tower and several other landmarks throughout the world.
  • Mr. Fixit: Gossard
  • Mythology Gag: Dizzy refers to their mission as a "bug hunt" in the pilot episode, that being the original title of The Movie. Other subtle references to scenes and lines from both book and movie appear, often just to subvert them.
  • Mook Chivalry: The Bugs are remarkably keen to fight the Roughnecks one at a time on some occasions.
  • The Neidermeyer:
    • Zander - he gets better. For a while.
    • Lt. Walker, particularly in his first couple of appearances. Later, during the Homefront Campaign, he teams up with Lt. Razak to present an alternative to Sky Marshal Sanchez's plan to carpet bomb San Francisco to destroy a hidden bug hive.
  • Newsreel: Appear several times; Higgins is an embedded reporter gathering footage for these.
  • Nightmare Sequence: When Rico is recuperating.
  • Non-Action Guy: Higgins, as a reporter, is the least combat capable member of the team, which often causes him to be disrespected, mocked, or outright derided as The Load, especially in the earlier series.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Rougnecks do not leave one of their own behind.
  • Not Himself: Zander after his infection, T'phai and the other Skinnies (at first).
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: When Carmen is first thrust into ground combat after her dropship is shot down, she panics when she tries to shoot an attacking Bug and her gun will not fire. After Zander shoots the Bug he explains to her that weapons will not function unless you take the safety off.
  • Now You Tell Me: Inverted. Rico orders Gossard to rig their base with a nuke to take out the bug swarm that is about to overrun it. The squad takes cover in the basement bunker after setting the fuse...
    Rico: This shelter will withstand the blast right?
    Gossard: You're asking me now?
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: The tactical nukes they use for demolitions are referred to as "plasma bombs." However, this only applies to the Pluto campaign. Starting with the Hydora campaign onwards, nuclear missiles and bombs are consistently called "nukes."
  • Organic Technology: Even more than the film, the Bugs consist of numerous specialized castes with weaponized Bizarre Alien Biology, up to and including Faster-Than-Light Travel.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Even though in one instance the shockwave was specifically mentioned by the characters as the deadly part of the explosion and the shockwave itself was shown overtaking them! Granted, they were wearing armored spacesuits at the time...
  • People Jars: Rico spends time in one while recovering from serious injuries.
  • Perma-Shave: Sergeant Zim through waking up ungodly early.
  • Plant Aliens: The Skinnies are apparently photosynthetic and need sunlight to survive. Presumably their life-support suits take care of this later in the series.
  • Powered Armor: Standad Mobile Infantry Battle Armor provides combat information to its wearer, includes built-in jetpacks for increased jumping and slowing the rate of descent while falling, and offers insulation from all encountered environments, including extreme heat, submersion in water and exposure to vacuum. The Marauders appear as more of a Mini-Mecha design than the original Powered Armor of the novel.
  • Psychic Powers: Even more so than in the film, but with a different feel.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Jenkins tends to start bleeding from the nose whenever he starts overusing his psychic powers.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The opening theme is a remix of Beethoven's Piano Sonata #8 (Pathetique), Opus 13.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: In the form of control bugs.
  • Put on a Bus: Sergeant Brutto is reassigned from the Roughnecks after an injury on Klendathu.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lieutenant Razak is the epitome of this, Commander Marlowe of the Valley Forge is on the low end of this trope, but still qualifies.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Zander managed to break out of his new Bug mentality just in time to save the Roughnecks and help destroy the new Bug plan to infiltrate the human forces, but died during the subsequent battle.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Sparky, who also turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: C.H.A.S., who learns The Power of Friendship just in time to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Running Gag: SICON's military intelligence is ALWAYS wrong.
  • Series Continuity Error: Is Zander a major or a lieutenant? He seems to be addressed as both constantly throughout the series.
  • Shock Stick: The show's example is the Trope Namer. It is a melee staff weapon used by the Skinnies that delivers powerful amperages of electricity. They are capable of killing Bugs or disabling a Trooper's Power Armor. The Troopers later adopt this technology for their own use.
  • Shout-Out: The Drop Ships have "Hades Elevator" on them, an obvious Aliens reference.
  • Shapeshifting: The infiltrator Bugs
  • Shoot the Dog: When General Redwing was captured by the Bugs, a Brain Bug arrived to suck her mind dry of all the crucial information that she has on S.I.C.O.N. and its forces. The Roughnecks manage to save her, and she is appreciative, but she comments that they should have killed her in order to insure that her knowledge did not fall into the hands of the Bugs. Rico informs her that that was Plan B-and leaves out that it had actually been Plan A before Brutto came up with an alternative.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Pluto and the surface of Clovis/the Ice Bug
  • Space Is Noisy

  • Spell My Name with an "S": The series changed the spelling of Lieutenant Rasczak's name to Razak.
  • Static Stun Gun: The Shock Sticks. First used by the Skinnies, and later adopted by the Federation's troopers.
  • Stock Footage:
    • The orbital drop sequence.
    • A Tanker Bug firing. Actually, a lot of stuff, to cut down on production time, as they were rushed as it was.
  • Take Our Word for It: The destruction of the White House, the Eiffel Tower and other famous landmarks is never shown, just described and reflected upon by others.
  • Taking You with Me:
  • Talk About the Weather: The Infiltrator Bugs keep talking about the weather every time they pass the Roughnecks. T'Phai uses this as an opportunity to snark about the apparent human preoccupation with the weather, but the team becomes concerned when everybody they meet keeps harping on what a beautiful day it is.
  • Tentacle Rope
  • That's No Moon!: The Ice Bug
  • There Are No Therapists: Technically, there are, but when your first resort is to Mind Wipe a trooper with PTSD and program them with a false obedient-soldier personality, the system is clearly broken.
  • The Squad: Razak's Roughnecks.
  • Those Two Guys: Doc and Gossard.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Carl gets a power-up after coming out of his control-bug coma.
  • Translator Microbes: A translator device that works on the humanoid Skinnies, but not as well on the Bugs.
  • True Companions: On two separate occasions, Lieutenant Razak explained to Higgins that he had no message to send back home to Earth, as everybody he cared about was right there with him. During the Klendathu Campaign, he pointed Higgins' camera at the Rougnecks and stated that they were his family.
  • Try Not to Die: "Live forever, apes!"
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Intel Agent Walker
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Dizzy.
  • The Virus: Affects Zander. It is how the bugs expand their capabilities.
  • War Comes Home: In the uncompleted final season, the Bugs make it to Earth. Appropriately it's titled "The Homefront Campaign."
  • The War Has Just Begun: The closing narration of the first episode, and a few other times.
  • Water Level: Planet Hydora, Zegema Beach
  • We Have Reserves: Sky Marshal Sanchez is willing to sacrifice large numbers of civilians in order to achieve a victory over the Bugs.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: The C.H.A.S. model robot is added to the Rougnecks during the Tophet Campaign, where he learns the vaue of human life and sacrifces himself to save Higgins. The closing narration reveals that S.I.C.O.N. considered the mission casualty-free, but the team considers it as the loss of one of their own. However, they never wear the K.I.A. or M.I.A. armbands that they do when they lose other Roughnecks.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The first episode of the Trackers Campaign is Alien and Aliens, complete with exact quotations and shot-for-shot scene recreations. Clearest when Bug!Zander approached members of the squad as they monitor him with a hand-held motion sensor.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: To motivate the troopers in the middle of hazardous missions, Razak and Rico would spur them into action by asking if they wanted to live forever. This is in stark contrast to the pre-mission command given before every drop: Live forever.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Dizzy's claustrophobia, early in the show. She gets temporarily better via Carl's mind-mojo, but it crops up again later.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Rico and Dizzy go back and forth, back and forth... I am getting dizzy too...
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: When Carl Jenkins returns after his Heroic BSoD, his psychic powers are greatly increased, including new telekinetic abilities. However, his personality is also altered and he becomes violent after telepathically hearing some disparaging remarks from the other Roughnecks. Fortunately, he is able to retain control, and he reintegrates into the squad.
  • Womb Level: Transport Bugs and the Ice Bug.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Brain bug on Hydora.
  • You Will Be Assimilated: Because it is so much easier to "bug-form" other lifeforms than to terraform planets.
  • Zerg Rush: Standard Bug tactics.