Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Star Trek: Lower Decks

Go To

"First Contact is a delicate, high-stakes operation of diplomacy. One must be ready for anything when humanity is interacting with an alien race for the first time... But we don't, do that. Our specialty is Second Contact. Still pretty important. We get all the paperwork signed, make sure we're spelling the name of the planet right, get to know all the good places to eat..."
Ensign Brad Boimler, Episode 1x01: "Second Contact"

Star Trek: Lower Decks is an American animated Work Com aimed for adults, and set in the Star Trek universe. Created for Paramount+ by Mike McMahan (Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites), it is the first animated series created for CBS All Access, and the first animated Star Trek series since Star Trek: The Animated Series.note 

The series follows the exploits of the support crew serving on the U.S.S. Cerritos, one of Starfleet's least important ships, in the year 2380. This sets it between Star Trek: Nemesis (2379) and the prologue of Star Trek (2387), a period of relative peace for the Federation between the end of the Dominion War and the collapse of the Romulan Star Empire.

A group of four ensigns have been assigned to the Cerritos. Each of them is following a different career path and is a Bunny-Ears Lawyer at best. They are unappreciated by the senior staff and are the lowest-ranking members of the ship's crew, but they still manage to accomplish great things due to their friendship.

The name of the show and general premise is inspired by popular Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks," of which multiple references have been made in the show itself.

The show debuted on August 6, 2020 initially as a feature for CBS All Access before migrating to Paramount+. International distribution has been handled by varying local networks and other services like Amazon Prime. The second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds featured a Crossover with Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome portraying their characters in live action via a Time Travel mishap.

IDW Publishing started a Star Trek Lower Decks comic book series written by Ryan North and illustrated by Chris Fenoglio in September, 2022.

See the season one trailer here, the teaser for season two here, the full trailer for it here, and the season three trailer here.

General trope examples:

Why is he troping? What does he know?!:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The characters and most of the settings are 2D, but the space battles tend to be CGI.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Throughout the first season, Boimler's superior officers consistently misremember his name, culminating in Riker calling him "Boomler" in the season finale, even as he's offering him a promotion and transfer to the Titan. As part of his Character Development, this is completely dropped in the second season.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Aerith and Bob: Names like Jack and Carol sit comfortably next to Samanthan and Bradward. Played with, since the more unusual names are shortened to something more "normal", like Sam and Brad.
    • Of course, Samanthan (சாமந்தன்) is a traditional Tamil boy's name meaning leader, so Rutherford's a Bob not an Aerith.
  • Affectionate Parody: This is a show that is best appreciated by Trekkies as a number of references, mythology gags, and Easter Eggs can only be appreciated by a super fan of every series. It also suggests how miserable and dangerous being a Red Shirt on a Starfleet vessel might be, and pokes holes at many of the flaws of Starfleet.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Star Trek's favourite trope is back in force!
    • In season 1, Rutherford creates Badgey, a Clippy-style helper avatar who, par for the course, develops homicidal daddy issues against his creator and tries to murder him and Tendi on the holodeck. In the season finale, he indirectly causes Shax's death, although he does sort of help blow up the Pakled ship.
    • Season 2's “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie” has Boimler escorting a malevolent supercomputer named Agimus back to Starfleet custody. It enslaved an entire civilization and constantly tries to trick Boimler into plugging it into a comms network. Turns out Starfleet has an entire facility devoted to storing evil AIs.
    • In a Call-Back to TNG, “No Small Parts” has an exocompnote  named Peanut Hamper join the Cerritos crew. She's friendly enough but when push comes to shove she chooses to beam herself into space rather than undertake a dangerous mission to save the ship. After drifting in space for months, she eventually lands on a planet of owl people where she almost gets them all killed arranging a dangerous scavenger attack to make herself look heroic so Starfleet will take her back. Subverted as she's mainly just a narcissist who only joined Starfleet to piss off her dad, rather than doing all this for typical berserk AI reasons.
    • In season 3 Admiral Buenamigo unveils new Texas class fully-automated starships. But since he based their AI on the same code Rutherford used to create Badgey, the ships eventually go rogue and kill him, causing severe damage to Douglas Station, the Cerritos and the U.S.S. Van Citter before they're destroyed.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Both Mariner and Tendi are apparently fans of "Klingon Acid Punk" music.
  • Alien Sky:
    • Based on a holodeck simulation of the Adashake Center, the Orion sky is green.
    • The sky is yellow and the clouds are beige on the Galardonian homeworld.
    • Gelrak V has a green sky with green clouds.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • While the U.S.S. Cerritos is a Cool Starship, she does have her malfunctions. The opening credits show the ship being prone to complete power loss, and in the series premiere, red alert somehow deactivates a certain emergency hatch.
    • The shuttle Sequoia, which is a constant presence in the ensigns' repair bay, is a subversion. Despite its battered and patchy appearance, the one time it is needed for an emergency, it does the job quite well. Doesn't mean there aren't still things wrong with it, but it's clearly spaceworthy.
    • The shuttle sent by Starbase 80 is a dingy brown and really doesn't look like it should have managed to fly to the Cerritos, much less back, in keeping with Starbase 80 being a hellhole.
  • Allohistorical Allusion: Mariner cries, "It's the 80s dude! We don't have psychiatric problems!" when ordered to attend therapy; a reference not only to the 2380s, when the show is set, but also to the 1980s, when mental health wasn't considered nearly the issue it is today, and many thought a starship with a counselor onboard was uninspiring.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • Blue: Andorians, Benzites, Bolians, Taxors.
    • Green: Orions, Gelrakians.
    • Grey: Drookmani.
    • Purple: Galardonians, the inhabitants of Mixtus III, the Dooplers, and a member of an unnamed purple species that also works on the Cerritos.
    • Red: At least one of the two residents of Mixtus II has red skin.
  • Animation Bump:
    • Ransom gets much more detailed animation when he rips off his shirt for the gladiator fight in "Temporal Edict".
    • The Cerritos model has been refined and tweaked for season 2, justified in-universe as the result of a refit/repair after being attacked.
    • There are two instances of this for Badgey, when he gets closeups, in "A few Badgey's more".
  • Amusing Injuries: Gory injuries are almost always Played for Laughs, poking fun at the franchise's depiction of "dermal regenerators" and other futuristic medical devices—often made of some handheld prop with a lightbulb in it. Lower Decks takes it to before-unseen extremes by waving a light even over messy compound fractures for an instant fix, characters being careless about inflicting such injuries due to the ease of healing, and nonchalant conversations continuing while someone has a spear in their shoulder. (There are exceptions, however, such as Freeman's injuries in the first season finale.)
  • Anachronism Stew: A flashback in "Cupid's Errant Arrow" shows Mariner had been in Starfleet as far back as 2369, but she and her fellow shipmates were in uniforms that wouldn't be in use until 2373. Alternately, they were discussing news from 2369 in 2373 as if it were current. Either way, the situation is odd, although we later see those uniforms are still in use on certain ships such as the Titan.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Although a spacefaring civilization, the Gelrakians haven't developed any Ray Guns and still rely on crystal spears when attacking enemies. Crystal battle blades and crystal-embedded clubs are traditional for a Trial by Combat. Although the last may be because their leaders think that they're cool, and their starships are equipped with phasers (although possibly not photon torpedoes, since they're not crystal-based).
  • Arch-Enemy: The Gelrakians (a crystal-worshipping society) consider the inhabitants of Mavok Prime (a wood-worshipping society) to be their sworn enemies.
  • Art Evolution: The Cel Shading CGI for the Cerritos has evolved since the early episodes. It appears that the Cerritos model was revamped if not replaced entirely, with slight changes to the proportions and adjustments to the lighting scheme, notably giving the name and registry number its own spotlight in season two.
  • Art Shift: Being the second Star Trek animated series after Star Trek: The Animated Series, whenever actual images are shown related to the Kirk era it is shown in the Filmation art style rather than the show.
  • Back from the Dead: Parodied and discussed - Shaxs comes back from the dead in one episode, and nobody discusses it. In particular, Boimler and Mariner point out that this happens to bridge crew all the time.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A commonly used trope on the series. A typical sitcom trope would be set up, like the fear of the boss yelling at an underling's request to transfer, only for it to be immediately subverted by him saying he's super happy for the underling and generally being supportive.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While the series is trying to imitate Star Trek: The Next Generation's style, it is not afraid to have blood spray about, while the older series tended to be mostly bloodless. (Usually in the cause of Amusing Injuries, but sometimes—as in the first season finale—the sight of blood is treated gravely.)
  • Boring, but Practical: Second Contact may not be as glamorous as First Contact, but it's where the important bureaucratic work gets done.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The four protagonists have their unique talents while also being quirky. The senior staff is implied to be the same way.
    • Mariner is an Action Girl who's incredibly knowledgeable about the galaxy, but also relentlessly insubordinate as well as prone to acting before thinking.
    • Boimler is a stickler for the rules and full of technical knowledge, but a Lovable Coward who has little practical experience.
    • Tendi is a Plucky Girl and The Heart of the team, but overly eager to please as well as easily impressed.
    • Rutherford is a Cyborg with incredible engineering skill, but horrible at making command decisions as well as interpersonal reactions.
  • Call-Back:
    • The computer-worshipping planet of Beta III is revisited almost a century after Starfleet's first visit in the TOS episode "The Return of the Archons".
    • An exocomp becomes a new ensign, after having been declared a sentient species sometime after the events of the TNG episode, "The Quality of Life".
    • The Pakleds are back, a species only seen once during TNGnote , and one of the most ridiculed, only now they appear to have upgraded to a major threat.
    • Riker comes in to save the Cerritos in the U.S.S. Titan, the same ship he was given command of at the end of Star Trek: Nemesis.
    • The second season reintroduces the Tamarians, a race first appearing in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Darmok", in the form of Shaxs's replacement, Kayshon. Thankfully, he knows Federation Standard for the most part, only lapsing into metaphors when he can't remember the right word (or when he's flirting).
    • Also in the second season, Boimler gets a transporter duplicate after an interference field combined with a second transporter beam materializes one on the ship, and another stuck on the planet. The same thing happened to Riker, as we learn in "Second Chances".
    • The episode "Mugato Gumato" reintroduces Mugatos; gorilla-like creatures last seen in the TOS episode, "A Private Little War".
    • The cosmic koala mentioned in "Moist Vessel" gets brought up again after Boimler's near death experience in "First First Contact". Tendi, who was present for both comments, is distinctly weirded out by it.
    • The Season 4 trailer features Mariner mentioning that "Pike thing [they're] not supposed to talk about."
  • Canon Immigrant: When Riker's U.S.S. Titan makes her first onscreen appearance, it's still Sean Tourangeau's competition-winning design for the covers of the Star Trek: Titan novel series.
    • Mr. Broker (from the episode "The Inner Fight") resembles Balok's puppet in TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", though he is not a puppet himself, bringing to mind the expanded universe explanation that Balok species is called the Linnik, and the puppet's species is the Dassik as seen in the expanded verse novel The Face of the Unknown.
    • The Sphinx Workpod makes its official appearance here, having only been seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual and meant to show up in the TNG pilot, but was too expensive.
  • Captain's Log: As is tradition. Used infrequently during season 1, when Freeman was a remote, detached, vaguely antagonistic figure; from season 2 onward, consistent with her depiction as more approachable and relatable, she delivers a log entry in most episodes.
  • Cat Folk: T'Ana is a Caitian, a humanoid feline species first seen in The Animated Series. The ship's crew also includes at least one Kzinti, a different humanoid feline species featured in TAS and also mentioned in Star Trek: Picard.
  • Character Exaggeration: Any live-action Trek character who makes a cameo plays an appropriately cartoonish version of themselves. Q's games to try humanity are even more convoluted and annoying, Riker is an incredibly Large Ham who makes constant jazz references, and Tom Paris' reaction to Boimler's temporarily Kazon-like hair is to tackle him immediately. This extends to species as well. The Vulcans are even more stoic and orthodox and the Pakleds are even more stupid.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Early episodes had a much more hostile relationship between the Lower Deckers and the Senior Staff, with the Senior Staff coming off as unfeeling, arrogant jerkasses only looking out for themselves. Come season 2, the depiction of the Senior Staff softened and the relationships between the two groups improved. The Senior Staff kept their quirks, but they were shown to be more competent and well intentioned, with several of them serving as mentors to the main characters. Come season 4, the hostility between the ranks is all but forgotten, with the two groups getting along well and helping each other to improve, perhaps as a deliberate attempt to work on their flaws after a disastrous visit from a journalist that nearly got the entire Cali-class decommissioned.
    • The early relationship between Mariner and Boimler was a strong-minded, domineering woman next to a meek, ineffectual man. After a few episodes it evolved to where Mariner still had a lot more field experience but Boimler thrived under pressure and in workaholic conditions. The show also became a bit more ensemble-based with them, Tendi and Rutherford forming a close-knit group rather than just Mariner and Boimler plus their friends. Boimler was also the designated Ascended Fanboy with extensive knowledge of Starfleet history, while that became a trait of near everyone.
  • The Coconut Effect: Lower Decks continues the Star Trek tradition of forgetting that Starfleet has enlisted personnel, or "crewmen", who serve under the officers. In this case, Acceptable Breaks from Reality are involved, because it would undercut the premise of the show to have the New Meat ensigns giving orders to non-coms.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Every episode is packed with both Continuity Nods and Mythology Gags, using both Rapid-Fire Comedy in referencing deeper lore along with background Easter Eggs filling the screen at times.
  • Continuity Nod: It gained enough entries for its own page after just two episodes.
  • Continuity Porn: The series has a huge amount of it with virtually every frame filled with Easter Eggs, references, and homages.
  • Continuity Snarl: Slight one. Mariner's flashback to Deep Space 9 shows her and her friends wearing Star Trek: First Contact-era uniforms, yet they are discussing the events of "Descent", which occurred during TNG's sixth season, before those uniforms were introduced.
  • Cool Starship:
    • Although she is decidedly one of Starfleet's less glamorous vessels, the U.S.S. Cerritos, the setting of the series, qualifies. Ensign Tendi, in particular, squees as soon as she comes aboard.
    • The U.S.S. Vancouver is the starship equivalent of Always Someone Better to the Cerritos; the Lower Deckers are positively gushing over its awesomeness during their visit.
    • The U.S.S. Titan is a Beam Spamming Lightning Bruiser of a starship that gets introduced with a Big Entrance Gunship Rescue and a Theme Music Power-Up.
  • Cosmic Entity: Assuming that Lieutenant O'Connor's interpretation of the visions he experienced during his ascension is correct, then the universe is balanced on the back of a giant, smiling koala. Called back as a gag in the Season 2 finale, as Boimler mentions seeing a giant koala during an offscreen near-death experience after almost drowning as the result of his spacewalk suit sprung a leak in Cetacean Ops. The koala even appears in the intro card for season 3, visible for a few moments as a part of the nebula in the background.
  • Covered in Gunge: Frequently.
    • In "Second Contact", many people are covered in Bad Black Barf from the zombies, while Boimler gets covered in milkable Giant Spider spit. Gunge B turns out to be the cure to Gunge A.
    • In "Envoys", Boimler, Mariner, and their shuttle quickly get soaked in Mariner's ramen broth and Klingon bloodwine.
    • In "Moist Vessel", Mariner gets a face full of lubricant when the turbolift ascends with her on top of it.
    • In "Cupid's Errant Arrow", Boimler spills beer all over Brinson after he trips on Jet's foot.
    • In "Terminal Provocations", Mariner bumps into T'Ana in the mess hall, which causes the latter to face plant into a plate of nachos; the Caitian complains that it's extremely difficult to remove cheese from fur in the sonic shower.
    • In "The Spy Humongous", Boimler covers himself in gunge as part of a Cooldown Hug for Tendi, who had transformed into a giant scorpion monster.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas:
    • The holodeck recreation of the Adashake Center on Orion depicts a beautiful Shining City with elegant architecture, and its residents are dressed in toga-like clothing.
    • The Gelrakians don't wear togas, but there are crystals everywhere on their planet and in their culture, plus their technology is crystal-based.
  • Cunning People Play Poker: One season one episodes show the commanding crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos playing poker much like their Enterprise counterparts. Noticeably, however, each player opted to fold each hand, showing an averseness to risk taking.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Edosian medical expert on the Osler wears dark clothes and is on a dark ship and has a nasty attitude, but in the end he's trying to help the various mutated and anomalous Starfleet officers. He does admit he should consider brightening things up, and his bedside manner is terrible.
  • Deconstruction: The series takes a look at how horrifying and traumatizing some of the events that happen in a typical weekly Star Trek show would be, by presenting them from the perspective of your typical low-level grunt or Red Shirt. This includes opening a story with a Zombie Apocalypse on the U.S.S. Cerritos. Played with as, with the exception of Boimler, the protagonists are entirely unfazed by this.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: A great deal of the show's humor would not make sense to you if you were not an enormous fan of the franchise with knowledge of every single series. Jokes are made at the expense of TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY. Many of these require knowledge of specific episodes' plots and the holes thereof.
  • Deconstructive Parody:
    • It should also be noted that a lot of the jokes in the series make fun of the plotlines that are typical for the series. For example, Boimler goes into a lengthy speech about how he's going to die if he leaves Starfleet (see Mythology Gag) or how Mariner deals with an Energy Being that attempts to take over the ship.
    • And yet while elements of the Trek 'Verse are deconstructed, the show pulls a Decon-Recon Switch of sorts by revealing the reasons why Starfleet does what it does and how they keep it all working. That there are logical reasons for "buffer time", or that Starfleet has a contingency plan to treat the unfortunate Red Shirts who survive the occasional transporter accident or alien infection.
    • At the beginning of the second season Boimler is on the Titan serving under Captain Riker and he ends up having a meltdown because he was engaged in one dramatic battle after another where they are dealing with a dark, ongoing seasonal threat. Other crew members mention that the Enterprise-D must have been so boring because it dealt with space phenomenon and they would have concerts. Boimler eventually snaps saying he preferred exploration and intellectual pursuits over facing death every day, and Riker himself says he loved going to the concerts "on the D".
  • Decon-Recon Switch: While the series spends a decent amount of time showing how horrible a lot of the stuff that goes on in most Trek shows would actually be, it also shows a great love and affection for the franchise as a whole. It also shows that working in Starfleet, while dangerous, can also be a fun adventure if experienced with the right people. Above all things, the point is made that exploration requires further engagement with the societies they discover and humanitarian efforts to leave them in better condition than before they showed up.
  • Denser and Wackier: By virtue of being a comedy, Lower Decks is far more zany and silly than any past Trek series.
  • Double Meaning: The title of the show refers to the four main characters sure, but also to the Cerritos (and the rest of the Cali-class ships). Relegated to Second Contact and other boring duties, they are the "Lower Decks" of Starfleet as a whole. As the show continues, this alternate meaning begins to eclipse the original, particularly as the Ensigns cultivate relationships with the senior staff and are ultimately promoted out of the (literal) lower decks.
  • Drama Bomb Finale: pretty much every season so far.
    • The season 1 finale, "No Small Parts". The beginning of the episode has Dayton, a quirky captain that we've seen before, fussing over her new ship, and sixty seconds later it has been blown into shreds by a Pakled ambush. The Cerritos warps right into the debris field, finds no survivors, and the captain barely averts the same fate while being severely injured. In order to save the ship, Security Officer Shaxs sacrifices himself and Rutherford loses his memories of the whole season. While there is still plenty of humor, it is an episode that is just as high-stakes and dramatic as any other Star Trek season finale.
    • Ditto with the season 2 finale, "First First Contact". In order to save the Archimedes and the planet Lapeeria, the Cerritos crew have to dismantle the ship's outer hull and fly through a deadly Asteroid Thicket unpowered and unprotected. Boimler nearly drowns in the process of removing a defective panel that would've gotten them all killed, Rutherford uncovers a memory that implies his implant wasn't voluntary, and Mariner and her mother finally reconcile their strained relationship amidst all the chaos. And that's not even mentioning the Sudden Downer Ending...
    • And season 3's "The Stars at Night" starts with the Starfleet Admiralty threatening to decommission the entire California class, and only escalates from there. Admiral Buenamigo is revealed as an Insane Admiral who masterminded Rutherford's memory loss and used his AI code to create the Texas class, and engineered the Breen attack on the Cerritos to make his pet project look good. When Freeman finds out, he sics the Aledo on her. Problem is, the AI is a precursor to what Rutherford used to create Badgey, so the ship goes rogue and kills him, awakens two of its sister ships and they start destroying a massive starbase. It takes some quick thinking by the Cerritos crew and Beckett pulling a Big Damn Heroes with all the other Cali ships to save the day, and even though their class is saved from the scrap heap a lot of the starbase personnel are presumably dead. Phew!
    • Mike McMahan withheld the titles and story summaries of season 4's last two episodes until each was released, cluing viewers in that something serious happens in the 9th episode. And then that episode, "The Inner Fight", ended with a To Be Continued card, meaning it and "Old Friends, New Planets" are a two-part finale. As such, while both episodes have the show's trademark humor, the drama bomb starts an episode early:

      In "The Inner Fight", Freeman, attempting to distract Mariner with a ridiculously safe mission due to her increasingly reckless behavior, unknowingly sends her to the planet where the command crews of the stolen ships are being dumped by the mystery ship's pilot. Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, and T'Lyn are attacked and end up stranded on the planet, where Mariner ends up in a fight to the death with Ma'ah that's only disrupted by Hostile Weather. While sheltering in a cave with Ma'ah, Mariner ends up admitting the root cause of her Military Maverick behavior: PTSD stemming from Sito Jaxa's death and the Dominion War. After Ma'ah helps her come to terms with her trauma, she rallies the stranded crews together, only to be abducted by and come face-to-face with the mastermind: Nick Locarno. The B-plot is mostly comedic, but is caught in the Drama Bomb because it involves Captain Freeman searching for Locarno to take him into protective custody. The episode ends with Locarno greeting Mariner and saying they'll cause trouble together...

      In "Old Friends, New Planets", Captain Freeman defies orders not to rescue Mariner upon seeing her denounce Locarno on a live subspace broadcast. With the system Mariner is trapped in protected by a "Trynar shield", Tendi approaches her sister D'Erika for a large enough ship to breach it and ends up having to offer to return to Orion in exchange for the ship. As this is happening, Mariner is being chased by Locarno's "Nova Fleet" and trying to reach a lifeless planet to detonate a Genesis Device Locarno was using as a deterrent, but is forced into an ion storm and ends up setting the device off there before being rescued during a confrontation with Locarno, leading to Locarno getting himself killed in a Genesis Wave when he refuses rescue. Mariner arrives on the Cerritos and apologizes for her recent behavior, but then has to say goodbye to Tendi soon after due to the deal with D'Erika.
  • Drinking on Duty:
    • Buffer time margaritas, baby! Downplayed in that it's probably non-intoxicating sythehol since they got them from the replicator, though it wouldn't be out of character for Mariner to replicate actual alcohol for a single drink.
    • In "Cupid's Errant Arrow", Boimler orders a beer in an attempt to impress Brinson, despite still being on duty.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first season hadn't quite nailed down all the characters' personality traits.
    • Beckett's Establishing Character Moment in "Second Contact" has her drunkedly severely injure Boimler. While irresponsible, Mariner's rule breaking is otherwise shown to never imperil her crew mates and that she cares deeply about them. Relatedly, her interactions with Boimler became less about her messing with him and more of a Cowboy Cop vs By-the-Book Cop dynamic.
    • Boimler's favorite part of the ship is the warp engine, this is more a trait of Rutherford and Boimler is instead more interested in sucking up to the command officers.
    • Rutherford and Ensign Barnes ignore the Zombie Apocalypse on the ship in "Second Contact" when later episodes show he always takes threats seriously (and frequently panics over them).
    • Rutherford's implant glitches were originally blamed on it being Vulcan in origin, but after the first episode, this does not really apply (and later episodes eventually show us there's much more to the implant glitches than even Rutherford knew).
    • The senior staff of the Cerritos tends to be dismissive or even cruel to the Lower Deckers at times. For instance, in "Second Contact", Captain Freeman credits Dr. T'Ana for discovering the way to cure the zombie-like state that the crew's in, ignoring how Boimler and Mariner were the ones who found it.
    • T'Ana acted more human than feline.
    • Shaxs was much more of a Sociopathic Soldier in the first season, before becoming more of a Shell-Shocked Veteran (though no less badass) from the second onward. Apparently, coming Back from the Dead really did a number on him.
    • The first season had a bit of Ship Teasing between Mariner and Ransom, albeit of the belligerent variety. From season 2 onward, he's more of a Mentor in Sour Armor toward her, with the romantic tension abandoned.
    • Characterisation aside, early in the first season it seemed like all of Starfleet used Cerritos-style uniforms, Admirals showed up wearing a variant as did a Parliment class ship's crew and some embassy staff. The TNG-movie black and grey style was first seen in flashback as well. Eventually it was established the style was for the Cerritos class and other ships and starbases used the Black and grey uniforms.
    • The first season leaned on what a horror working in Starfleet must be, with danger and horrible situations around every turn. Come season 2, the series started leaning more on the fun aspects of life in Starfleet, with the Lower Deckers serving as audience surrogates and expressing their joy for the various aspects of the Star Trek mythos.
  • Entendre Failure: In the Season 3 opener, we see Boimler working at a vineyard, one where the grapes are turned into raisins. He is constantly hit on by gorgeous women who use double entendres to flirt with him or try to bang him. However, Boimler acts oblivious to all this, interpreting the entendres as literal, and is actually rather annoyed that the girls keep bothering him with seemingly minor things.
  • Episode Title Card: Like TNG, Lower Decks features episode names, and even uses the exact same font from that series.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Parodied in "Second Contact". After the crisis is over, the captain and her senior staff joke about the paperwork as they leave Sickbay— but the camera stays on the four ensigns who are still utterly shell-shocked by the events of the episode.
    • Also deconstructed: Freeman, Shaxs, and T'Ana treat the zombie apocalypse as a joke, while Ransom, who was a zombie at the time, is clearly having a breakdown at the thought that he ate human flesh.
    • Similarly deconstructed in "I, Excretus," where Shaxs cracks a joke about Boimler's (simulated) assimilation by the Borg and everyone else laughs while Boimler wistfully muses: "They took away everything I was!"
  • Everyone Is Bi: Sexuality seems pretty fluid on the Cerritos. Ensign Mariner is openly pansexual ("bad boys, bad girls, bad gender-nonbinary babes..."), and many of the Mauve Shirts are Ambiguously Bi to some degree.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: As Mariner recovers in sickbay in "Temporal Edict", Doctor T'Ana clears her to return to duty, but offers to repair the scars on Mariner's body. Mariner refuses the cosmetic procedure, stating "No way. These are my trophies."
  • Evil is Cool: In universe, Mariner's holodeck program has her and her friends playing murderous villains, and Dr. T'Ana's sexual fantasy turns out to be robbing a bank, massacring the police responders, and forcing the customers and staff to watch her having sex.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Everyone aboard the Cerritos gets these in "Temporal Edict", including the senior staff when they have to correct the mistakes made by the harried crew. The only person who doesn't is Boimler because his workaholic, rules-following nature allows him to excel in an environment with tight deadline pressure.
  • Expy Coexistence: Commander Ransom is an Expy of Will Riker with negative traits exaggerated almost to the point of being a Corrupted Character Copy. Will Riker appeared on the show, Flanderized almost to the point of being a Shallow Parody.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The Anabaj procreate by injecting their eggs into another person's throat.
  • Famed In-Story: By the 3rd season, the Cerritos and its' crew has become legendary amongst the California class ships, with even the Lower Deckers themselves being regarded as heroes to be looked up to.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • There's a bit more Lampshade Hanging on this being an element of the Trek Verse. Mariner has a much more cosmopolitan view of the galaxy due to being raised on starships, while Boimler has only been to five planets total (counting Earth and Vulcan) and only knows species from books. As such, he often makes numerous mistakes in interacting with aliens that Mariner avoids. This is shown most prominently in "Envoys" when Boimler assumes that a Ferengi is leading them into a trap and is a greedy monster just because he's Ferengi. It's actually a set-up by Mariner to boost his confidence. Subverted in "Terminal Provocations" when Fletcher calls Doctor T'Ana "just a cat in a coat", to which Mariner agrees.
    • After the Dominion War, there is lingering resentment towards the Cardassians because no one in the Federation wants to go near the Cardassian homeworld, which is why the peace negotiations have been moved to Vulcan.
      Admiral: Nobody wants to go to Cardassia Prime. The Cardassians are creeping everyone out.
    • In "Crisis Point", Tendi is upset because of the stereotypes associated with Orions, who often happen to be pirates and are famous for their seductive "slave girls", etc.. Though her protest does border on a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
      Tendi: And for your information, many Orions haven't been pirates for over five years!
  • First Contact:
    • Explicitly averted. The U.S.S. Cerritos and her crew are among those charged with carrying out "second contact," the follow-up work with a species and their homeworld after it has been discovered and contact has been made by one of Starfleet's premier front-line exploratory ships.
    • In the season 2 finale, Captain Freeman gets to make first contact (her first time doing so) with the Lapeerians, filling for Captain Gomez who was recovering from the day's ordeal in sickbay. It goes very well.
  • Fauxshadowing: In Season 3, multiple characters express concern that Brad's decision to become "Bold Boimler" is going to get him killed. So far, the Ensign's new-found confidence has served him rather well, with the worst consequence being his death... In a Klingon-themed tabletop role-playing game.
  • Foil:
    • Boimler and Mariner serve as direct representatives of this, with them having polar opposite personalities.
    • Delta Shift is considered this to the protagonists, who are Beta Shift.
    • In "Terminal Provocations", the character of Fletcher is introduced as the worst elements of both Boimler and Mariner combined. Despite his affable demeanor, he's a Dirty Coward who always claims that it's Never My Fault, and he doesn't care about any rules while relying on his friends to bail him out. Mariner says that she's different because she would never endanger a fellow crewmate with her rule-breaking (well, except Boimler). Fletcher gets fired from Starfleet.
  • Foreshadowing: When Shaxs introduced Rutherford to the security team, he said something about no greater honor than to die beside (the team) in battle. Shaxs dies getting Rutherford to safety in the season finale.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four ensigns straightforwardly map to the four humors.
    • Mariner: Choleric. Mariner is hot-headed, aggressive, and impulsive. She exhibits Blood Knight characteristics which are tempered by her rebellious nature. Mariner also shows leadership expertise when on away missions and, despite her laziness, is excellent at taking charge when the situation requires it.
    • Boimler: Melancholic. Boimler is introverted, moody, and rigid. His away missions often end with him becoming overly self-critical and he falls into depressive moods often. He is deeply insecure, but his perfectionist qualities and devotion to the Cerritos give him some strengths.
    • Tendi: Sanguine. Tendi is outgoing, sociable, and optimistic. She's easily the friendliest of the four ensigns and beats Rutherford to this position by being more outgoing and extroverted. Sanguine personality traits are also associated with youth, and Tendi is the rookie on the ship.
    • Rutherford: Phlegmatic. Rutherford is calm, stable, and patient. The simple satisfaction that he takes from his job in engineering is all that Rutherford needs to be happy. These traits ended up crashing his date with Barnes, who was annoyed by him being more interested in running a diagnostic than in having sex during a ship-wide crisis.
  • Franken-vehicle:
    • Resting in one of the USS Cerritos's repair bays is Sequoia, a shuttlecraft built by the main four out of salvaged parts, with Class 6 nacelles mated to a 6A body, dinged panels with mismatched colors, and markings drawn on by hand. Although it hasn't been put into regular service because it's more of a passion project than anything else, Shaxs and Rutherford are forced to use it when the Cerritos is attacked by one of the Pakled warships and a boarding party prevents them from getting to the normal shuttlecraft to board and disable the Pakled ship.
    • In "No Small Parts": The Pakleds' new war spaceships are made from parts of other ships. They even show that they can use grappling hooks to attach pieces of wreckage from other ships like the Solvang to their hulls to upgrade and repair on the fly.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Ransom refers to Kirk's era as TOS, which he says stands for "Those Old Scientists"
  • Geodesic Cast: The four main characters are vaguely mirrored by the four primary bridge officers, and other similar cliques exist on the ship as well, like the Redshirts.
  • Genre Shift: This is the first Star Trek series that is primarily a comedy, and only the second series to be animated.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: When she comes upon a room full of nude crew during a "Naked Time" holographic training simulation, Mariner is very interested in the two female crew members making out directly in front of her.
  • Glitch Episode: A running gag for Rutherford and his cyborg implant in the first season. In "Star Trek: Lower Decks S1E08 "Veritas"", he has to update his implant with Romulan flight manuals. During the multiple updates, he passes out and wakes up after his implant has taken over— Hilarity Ensues as he tries to figure out what the hell it did.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Subverted with Tendi, who does not like being thought of as one and hates situations where she's asked to be a sexy Orion.
  • Groin Attack: In "Strange Energies" a series of these is how Mariner eventually defeats Ransom after he's given god-like powers by the titular strange energies.
  • Guttural Growler: The Taxors communicate through guttural tones, and they ferociously growl when angered.
  • Half-Arc Season: Every season after the first:
    • Season 2: The Pakleds, previously a largely comical villain from TNG, return and are a persistent thorn in the side of Starfleet, including the Cerritos.
    • Season 3: The development of the Texas-class automated starships, headed by Admiral Les Buenamigo, an old friend of Captain Freeman.
    • Season 4: An unknown alien vessel is attacking random vessels belonging to the major galactic powers except the Federation, somehow disabling their systems before obliterating their ships — or rather, as it turns out towards the end of the season, faking obliterating the ships to cover hijacking them.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: In "Moist Vessel", Lieutenant O'Connor confesses to Ensign Tendi that he was merely pretending to want to ascend so that people would notice him more, and he hoped that this would boost his Starfleet career.
    O'Connor: Well, since we're gonna die here, I'll just tell you I was never going to ascend. I was faking.
    Tendi: What, why?
    O'Connor: It's hard to stand out in Starfleet. This gave me an edge. It was my thing. I was the ascension guy.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Every voice actor in the opening credits could plausibly play their characters in live-action. The creators of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds took advantage of this with a Crossover episode in which Tawny Newsome's Mariner and Jack Quaid's Boimler jump not only into the past, but into live-action portrayal. The resemblances are not perfect — Mariner's hairstyle had to be revised, for instance — but the complaints about the episode did not center around physical quirks. Overuse of gimmicks aside, there is no reason the same could not be done with the remaining characters.
  • Insane Admiral: Admiral Buenamigo in season 3 turns out to be this, as usual for the franchise, but a clever explanation is given for why so many Admirals go off the deep end. Once you get promoted to Admiral rank, you're stuck at Starfleet HQ where a billion other flag officers also are; to others, they may as well be interchangeable desk-bound commanders. Thus, many of them including Buenamigo throw themselves into ill-advised vanity projects in an effort to not be forgotten, but inevitably these projects go off the rails one way or another and often cause the Admiral's downfall.
    • This was lampshaded earlier in "Cupid's Errant Arrow" when Ron Docent claimed to know an admiral who was a psycho.
    • Averted however by Mariner's father, Admiral Alonzo Freeman, who is a Reasonable Authority Figure through and through.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Notable in that, because the show is animated, spacesuit-wearing characters could just be drawn with visible faces beneath mostly transparent visors, but instead the artists depict internal lights illuminating the faces to maintain consistency with the visual style of the live action shows and films.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: In the Season 2 premier after Ransom is hit by the titular strange energies and starts to float, Mariner correctly identifies that he's become endowed with god-like abilities. T'Ana reprimands her and says that she has to run more test before that can be confirmed. Cue Ransom instantly healing himself from the damage of the energy blast (including his uniform), gaining telepathy, Glowing Eyes of Doom, and shooting energy beams all in the span of about 30 seconds. The rest of the episode is him just getting more powerful from there.
  • Improbably Predictable: When Boimler returns to the Cerritos after being transporter cloned, Tendi ends up having to pay up to Rutherford for guessing that would be the reason Boimler would end up getting transferred back. When asked how he guessed, Rutherford replies that "it seemed like a Boimler thing to do."
  • The Internet Is for Porn: One of Ensign Mariner's favorite holodeck programs is an all-nude Olympic training facility. Later, Ransom mentions that he had her cleaning the biofilters out of the holodecks, which apparently amounted to removing the various "bodily fluids" that the users have left behind.
    Ransom: I've got her cleaning [bleep] out of the holodeck's [bleep] filter!
    Freeman: Ugh, people really use it for that?
    Ransom: Oh yeah, it's mostly for that.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Dr. T'Ana (Caitian) and Shaxs (Bajoran) repeatedly express an interest in each other, and T'Ana even asks Mariner if she could get Captain Freeman to sign off on them entering a relationship. Following his Unexplained Recovery in season 2, they become an Official Couple.
    • Tendi, like most Orion women seen thus far, seems to have a thing for humans, hooking up (briefly) with O'Connor and carrying an obvious torch for Rutherford.
    • Near the end of the Season 2 finale, Mariner asks out Jennifer — an Andorian that she previously disliked — after the latter saves her life.
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: In "We'll Always Have Tom Paris," Dr. T'Ana sends Tendi to get a family heirloom. In transit, the heirloom gets wrecked, but T'Ana doesn't care, she only wanted the large wooden box it came in.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Much of the series' humor comes from common elements of Trek actually being shocking.
    • That the ships can regularly get into horrifying disasters like a Zombie Apocalypse, and this is considered to be a normal part of the ship's duties.
    • That the holodeck will most definitely be used by someone (or probably most someone's) for pornnote .
    • Mariner basically spells out in "Temporal Edict" that the story is a parody of a Kirk-centric TOS episode.
      Mariner: Huh, circled by spears. This is a classic. What am I, Kirk? Is this the 2260s? Alright.
    • The head Gelrakian breaks down all the usual tropes associated with fighting a giant alien in an arena.
    • Ransom calls the Kirk-era the "Tee Oh Ess" period, standing for Those Old Scientists.
  • Last-Name Basis: Apparently this has come back into vogue in the 2380s, as characters almost never refer to each other by first name, not even close friends.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: It's quite hard for anyone who looks into the show before watching it to avoid finding out that Riker, Troi, and the Titan show up at the end of Season 1.
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Played for laughs. In the far, far future of the Federation, Miles O'Brien is considered the greatest hero in Starfleet historynote .
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Zig-Zagged all over the place.
    • Mariner has apparently been promoted a number of times and has served on five starships. She always self-sabotages so that she can be busted back to ensign and thus avoid any responsibilities (or, as it turns out, having to send people to their deaths because the Dominion War surrounded her with death before she could fully recover from a friend being killed in action).
    • Boimler is an eager young ensign with aspirations of making it to captain. His efforts to fast-track himself are frequently thwarted by Mariner. Until he accepts a promotion to the Titan under the command of Captain Will Riker at the end of season 1. Although this ends up being reversed at the start of season 2.
    • Freeman plays the trope the straightest, as the Cerritos is seen as a pretty low-grade command that involves often unglamorous missions. Captains of cooler starships often make cracks at her.
    • Likewise, Ransom's career appears to have stagnated at First Officer of the Cerritos. Starfleet does not show any intentions of promoting him to Captain, as showcased in the season 2 finale where it’s stated that if Freeman were to be reassigned, a different captain would take her place.
    • According to Admiral Buenemigo's Motive Rant, this is one of the main factors why so many Starfleet admirals like him go crazy; at that rank, the only career choices you get are a Soul-Crushing Desk Job or doing risky, unethical black ops projects and Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. Not that it justifies sending one of his friends into a Breen ambush, nearly causing the Cerritos to be lost with all hands, on purpose, but it's a really toxic work environment.
    • Finally, triumphantly averted at the beginning of season 4, when all four main characters are (permanently) promoted to Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Ironically, given that season 4 is set in 2381 and season 1 is set in 2380, this means that they spent only a couple of years (or less) at Ensign, which is an entirely reasonable interval in any real-world military.note  This is lampshaded in "Caves", where the Delta Shift ensigns point out that Beta Shift having frequent interactions with the senior staff means they were much likelier to get noticed — and promoted — sooner.
  • Lizard Folk: The Anabaj are humanoid aliens with a long forked tongue, a frilled-neck like a chlamydosaurus, and their ability to climb up vertical surfaces is lizard-like.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: Since an animated series doesn't have the same limitations as a live-action series (which traditionally relied heavily on Rubber-Forehead Aliens), the Cerritos is a true Federation melting pot, featuring nearly every Federation race, and a few non-Federation ones. If they aren't on the ship, odds are they're on one of the stations or planets they visit.
  • Location Theme Naming:
    • The California-class ships appear to be all named after lesser-known California cities (Cerritos, Merced, Rubidoux, Alhambra, and Solvang) as a reflection of the strictly second-fiddle missions they specialize in. The San Clemente, mentioned in "Crisis Point" but revealed to not be a real ship, also fits the pattern. The mentioned but unseen Sacramento is named after the capital of California which breaks the pattern but is also considered a prestigious posting by Boimler.
    • The shuttlecrafts on the Cerritos (Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Redwood, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite) are all named after national parks in California.
    • The U.S.S. Vancouver's shuttlecraft are all named after neighborhoods in Vancouver, BC (Marpole, Fairview and Kitsilano).
    • The Texas-class automated ships are all named after cities in Texas such as Aledo, Dallas, and Corpus Cristi
  • Mildly Military: Even more so than what is typical in the Trek Verse. The Lower Deckers are a goofy offbeat bunch with more than their fair share of orders-defying antics. Surprisingly averted with Mariner, though, as her shenanigans have apparently gotten to the point that she is about to be cashiered and her own mother is actively seeking a reason to kick her off the ship. Although the fact she's in her own mother's chain of command is its own Artistic License – Military. By the third season the show openly acknowledges some of the military-lite features of Starfleet, but also makes it clear Mariner is on her last options if she wants to continue, forcing her to shape up or get kicked out.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Rutherford's creation of Badgey → his uncovering of repressed memories and his original personality → he was involved in the secret creation of Admiral Buenamigo's long-planned Texas-class ships, and directly leads to the destruction of said ships and Buenamigo's Karmic Death.
  • Modesty Towel: There's a recurring extra who walks through the communal bunks wearing nothing but a (very short) towel, showing how there's very little privacy to be had. Mariner at one point complains that he could at least replicate himself a bigger towel. Tendi also wears a (larger) one when talking to Boimler at one point. Privacy is not commonplace in the lower decks.
  • More Hero than Thou: Mariner and Ransom get into a scuffle over who should go up against the Gelrakian champion to save their crewmates, much to the bafflement of the Gelrakian leader who keeps reminding them that they're arguing over a fight to the death. It ends when Ransom stabs Mariner in the foot.
  • Mundane Utility: The Cerritos crew use phasers as all-purpose cleaning and removal tools.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.
  • National Weapon: The chief weapon of the Gelrakians is a crystal spear.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: In the trailer for season 4, scenes featuring the main characters after they are promoted to Lieutenant, Junior Grade are edited to remove the hollow pips from their collars and make them appear to still be Ensigns.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: As a reference to the last animated entry in the franchise, TOS-era characters are depicted as they appeared (or would've appeared) in Star Trek: The Animated Series — meaning they're relatively realistic-looking, as opposed to the Rick and Morty-esque style used for everyone else in the show.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Safety standards on the Cerritos can be... lax. In the first episode, an emergency hatch somehow locks down during a red alert, which is the opposite of what it should do. There's an access panel in the Cetacean Ops tank that can't be operated by flippers, requiring a risky dive if it ever needs to be opened. On one occasion, Mariner does repairs on a turbolift without taking it offline, and then Shaxs brushes away the "Do Not Enter" sign she put up to keep anyone from using it while she's in the shaft. Then there's the fact that in the event of a power outage the ship computer considers diverting power from the holodeck safety protocols a higher priority than the holodeck itself.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The villains of the Season 1 Finale? Pakleds. In the original episode they were introduced back in TNG, they were seen as slow, easily gullible, and only were as strong as whatever tech they managed to steal. But here? They've stolen tech and weapons from several warp-capable species and were able to connect them all together to make ships that can easily severely damage, slice apart and even outright destroy Federation ships. Not only that, but these batch of Pakleds are much more confident and aggressive, even fully willing to beam onto the Cerritos and fight in hand-to-hand combat. Subverted when it's revealed that they were being used by a rogue Klingon as part of a Proxy War. Once their puppet-master is out of the picture, they blew up their own planet and were never heard from again.
  • Oddball in the Series: This is the only Star Trek series which is predominantly comedic and its main protagonists are Starfleet ensigns who aren't senior officers.
  • Oh, Crap!: In "Small Parts", when Boimler accidentally reveals Mariner's and the Captain's secret relationship to the entire crew of the Cerritos. Captain Freeman becomes enraged and beams Boimler and Mariner directly to the bridge, while Boimler is in the middle of making mocking kissing noises. As soon as he sees Captain Freeman's face he freaks out.
  • Once a Season: Every season finale to date features The Cavalry coming in to save the day at the last possible moment. In order, these are:
    • Season 1: The USS Titan.
    • Season 2: The USS Cerritos, from the perspective of the ship they are rescuing, the Archimedes.
    • Season 3: The other 30 California-class starships. Boimler lists every last one of them by name.
    • Season 4: The Cerritos again, this time towing an Orion battleship they intend to use as a makeshift mass driver to penetrate a shield barrier to rescue Mariner.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: In "Veritas", we learn that Dr. Crusher's romance with a Scottish candle ghost is common knowledge among Starfleet. One has to wonder who leaked that to the public.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: In the Season 4 trailer Tendi and Mariner go to an Orion Bad Guy Bar only for Mariner to get a throwing knife to the chest and fall behind the counter while Tendi panics, Mariner gets up and explains that that's just part of the ambiance before pulling the knife out and depositing it in a jar with multiple other bloody throwing knives.
  • Outhumbling Each Other: A variation occurs in "Hear All, Trust Nothing." Kira and Shaxs served in the Bajoran resistance together, and apparently saved each others' lives multiple times. They basically end up in a fight with each one claiming the other person saved their life more times than the reverse.
  • The Peter Principle: Mariner ends up an inversion to this trope. She has deliberately kept herself as an ensign through refusing promotions, getting demoted and transferring ships on a constant basis because she has an attitude towards stuffy leadership ignoring the smaller problems and seeking to solve it herself. She has Academy classmates who are captains now. This is shown to be its own problem as someone with zero interest in promotion is fostering an anti-authority sentiment that has left her more interested in being defiant than actually supporting the work, and over time even her closest friends can only be bullied into compliance for so long. The third season makes it clear that Mariner has to shape up and show some initiative if she wants to continue in Starfleet.
    • Turns out to be played with in Season 4. Mariner's issues with authority and lack of desire to rise up the ranks? Ultimately an instance of The Chains of Commanding. She's dealing with untreated trauma from the loss of a friend in action and Dominion War related PTSD- she doesn't feel a desire to be put in a position where she could have to order other people to their deaths *even though she would be good as a higher ranked officer*. Now that she's finally getting support and seems to have had a break through? We'll see where she goes with the trope!
  • Pet the Dog: Mariner sets up a situation to help Boimler recover his confidence after his horrible day in "Envoys", even letting him get away with mocking her in front of the rest of the crew later. In "Cupid's Errant Arrow", she goes to extreme lengths to protect him from a girlfriend she's convinced is a secret alien and/or robotic menace.
  • Pig Man: The Galardonians are humanoid porcine aliens.
  • Place Worse Than Death: Starbase 80 is considered such a terrible place that the mere mention of it is akin to an insult, and Mariner would rather do a job she despises than risk a transfer there. Ransom refers to it as a "hellhole" and would never willingly condemn anyone to it, though he does use the threat to motivate Mariner.
  • Planet of Hats: As it's such a major staple of Trek it's only natural that it would show up here and be parodied up one wall and down the other.
    • The Gelrakians base their entire social structure around crystals. Their planet is so rich in this substance that giant crystalline deposits dot the whole landscape, their symbol of peace is the honor crystal, the people wear crystal jewelry, their weapons are made out of crystal, their space ships feature enormous crystals that jut out from the top and the bottom, and a humongous adjudication geode is used as a method of execution. The Gelrakian boarding party covers the Cerritos in "crystal graffiti", and a few invaders demand crystals when attempting to break down the doors to the bridge.
    • The inhabitants of Mavok Prime are described as a wood-worshiping civilization. Their fertility totem is a piece of wood.
    • Discussed in "Crisis Point", where Mariner tries to put all sorts of Orion stereotypes on Tendi. She gets called out for the stereotypes, even if most members of the race are exactly as she depicted. Tendi also says in later episodes that Orion stereotypes are a problem for her career advancement and it was hard for her to even get into the Academy.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology: The Pakleds manage to cobble together some truly fearsome warships using tech from much more powerful races including Klingons, Romulans and even Borg.
  • Pointy Ears: Besides the expected Vulcans and Romulans, the inhabitants of Mixtus II and III also have pointy ears.
  • Predator Pastiche: K'Ranch (and Kromsapiods in general) are this Played for Laughs, with the intense drive to hunt, glowing green blood, an impressive arsenal of high-tech weapons yet apparent lack of waterproofing for their tech. However, they venerate life, practice catch-and-release, and their trophy from a worthy prey isn't the prey's skull, but a selfie.
  • Proud Hunter Race: Kromsapiods are a species of hulking sapient predators with a deep-seated urge to hunt that becomes deeply frustrating if left unaddressed for too long. However, they also respect life above all else, and as such use ritualized, non-lethal "catch and release" hunts to sate their instincts by pursuing willing sapient prey, subduing it non-lethally (although they have no particular qualms about causing reversible injury, which in the 24th Century can be quite a lot), and taking a few pictures to commemorate the occasions before releasing it. The hunt's setup is an involved affair where the prey is given an hour's head start while the Kromsapiod undergoes a ritual, paints their face, and inhales vapor from special candles.
  • Purple Is the New Black: Outer space has a purplish hue when seen from the Cerritos windows (such as the ship's lounge or crew quarters).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mariner and Boimler. Mariner is street-smart and has a ton of experience, but arrogant, hotheaded, and cynical about the divide between Starfleet's ideals and its bureaucracy. Boimler is a stickler for the rules, but inexperienced and prone to panicking in unfamiliar situations, and much more willing to blindly trust in his superiors' judgment no matter what. As the series goes on, the benefits and flaws of their attitudes are examined.
  • Reset Button: The first three episodes of season 2 each devote themselves to reversing a major plot development of the first season finale:
    • In "Strange Energies", the alliance between Freeman and Mariner is unceremoniously abandoned after they both decide it doesn't suit them. However the two characters get along much better in the second season than they did in the first.
    • In "Kayshon, His Eyes Open", after a transporter malfunction, Boimler is reassigned back to the Cerritos so that he and his transporter duplicate aren't serving aboard the same ship and he is demoted back to Ensign. However his brief time on the Titan matured him enough to make him a much more competent officer when he returns, which the other characters notice.
    • In "We'll Always Have Tom Paris", Shaxs is mysteriously Back from the Dead for reasons unexplained, in a parody of the many uses of Death Is Cheap throughout franchise history.
  • Retraux: The opening credits are a parody of the classic "look at our starship" style of the first four series (even using the TNG font) rather than the more symbolic imagery of Discovery and Picard.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens:
    • Tendi is Orion and has green skin, but is otherwise identical in appearance to the human characters.
    • Rutherford technically isn't even an alien, but a cyborg, with his cybernetic enhancements resembling the appliances worn by Borg characters.
    • Shaxs is Bajoran, with the tell-tale ridges on the bridge of his nose being his only alien feature.
  • Rule of Funny:
    • The series takes common Trek tropes and exaggerates them immensely for a good time. It's unlikely that any of the characters could get away with being the way they are in a live-action Trek show—and the characters from old shows who get appearances are exaggerated themselves so they fit in with the cartoon absurdity. (Notably, the Pakleds are depicted here in the exact same way as they were during their one episode on TNG, but this time they don't stick out at all.)
    • The reason that curse words on this show are bleeped out when the other new Trek shows don't is because it's funnier.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Cetacean Ops has at least two beluga whale crew who work in navigation, and we see them for the first time in the Season 2 finale.
  • Scotty Time: Referenced in-show as "buffer time", used by most of the crew to extend out deadlines so there's no rush and get multiple tasks done at the same time. It's then Deconstructed when Captain Freeman finds out and — thinking her crew is being lazy and hurting her reputation — issues new orders that all tasks be done on-time and as quickly as possible. The Cerritos immediately falls into chaos because the crew becomes overworked and get overwhelmed when emergencies pop up that cannot be handled with a large task backlog. There's also the fact that the people setting the schedules clearly had no idea how long they'd take in the first place since they were always fooled. The ship even gets raided by lower-tech aliens wielding crystal spears because of it. By the episode's end, Freeman resumes letting "buffer time" happen. That said, there are times where "Buffer Time" is clearly being abused, as characters are shown playing full rounds of (bootleg Ferengi) Klingon Dungeons and Dragons during it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In the title sequence, the Cerritos apparently stumbles into a battle between the Romulans and the Borg. Once it is targeted by Borg phaser fire, it immediately retreats.
  • Seen It All: Because ships like the Enterprise encounter a lot of the weirder stuff first and relay it back to Starfleet, things that were strange and exotic now have established protocols on how to deal with it.
  • Self-Deprecation: Lower Decks gleefully and lovingly pokes fun at the franchise's own inherent goofiness. Such as taking pot-shots at the presence of children aboard the ship in The Next Generation when Rutherford manages to get every child aboard the Cerritos sucked into space during a training simulation... which shouldn't even be possible.
  • Serial Escalation: Done with the opening credits. In the first season, there's a scene where Romulans are battling a group of Borg Cubes, and the Cerritos is driven off when one of the Cubes fires upon them. Season 2 throws in the Pakleds opportunistically attacking the Romulans, and season 3 goes a step further by adding a Crystalline Entity that one-shots a Cube. Season 4 throws in a Breen ship chasing a Bird-Of-Prey and the Whale Probe hanging out nearby.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Mariner and Boimler frequently have to deny they are a couple because they hang out almost exclusively together all the time, Mariner in particular seems awfully clingy to him. This is one example that doesn't actually have romantic subtext to it, they are more Vitriolic Best Friends that is mistaken for Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Boimler/Mariner has a lot of She Is Not My Girlfriend moments and are a lot closer than just two similarly ranked members of a crew should be.
    • Rutherford/Tendi has Tendi constantly getting jealous if anyone else shows Rutherford any attention, and later Rutherford goes through a memory wipe and ends up with the goal of ensuring he never again forgets Tendi.
    • Mariner gets some Belligerent Sexual Tension with Ensign Sh'reyan that seems to be reciprocated toward the end of Season 2.
  • Ship Sinking: A few episodes implied a pairing between Shaxs and T'Ana, which the latter referenced in the season finale that the former died in. In season 2 this is subverted when Shaxs comes Back from the Dead (apparently via Things Man Was Not Meant to Know) and T'Ana reaffirms her interest, which he reciprocates.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Badgey from "Terminal Provocations" is a parody of Clippy, the notoriously loathed "virtual assistant" from the 1997-2003 versions of Microsoft Office.
    • The character of Saul Rubichek is likely a reference to Saul Rubinek, who played Kivas Fajo in the TNG episode, "The Most Toys".
    • In the first episode, when asked what sand is, Boimler explains that it "gets everywhere".
    • Boimler is from Modesto, California likely as a nod to the hometown of the creator of Trek's historic competing franchise.
    • Peanut Hamper rolling through space recalls Wheatley at the end of Portal 2.
    • God-Ransom appearing as a disembodied head and hands resembles Andross from Star Fox.
    • Rutherford's sudden liking for pears is probably a reference to a Running Gag from Doctor Who where The Doctor hates pears, but often winds up eating them when he loses his memory and can't remember his dislike of them. An additional reference in the episode where this happens was Ransom, having gained godlike powers and an ego to match, deciding to turn all the inhabitants of a planet into copies of himself.
    • Some of the items in the collector's ship include a roomba, a painting by Piet Mondrian, and the Curiosity Mars rover.
    • The station security officers in "An Embarrassment of Dooplers" bear a strong resemblance to Judge Dredd.
    • When Rutherford tries to get re-assigned to Security, Shaxs starts a simulation where a group of Borg drones is attacking Rutherford. Since he's completely clueless about hand-to-hand combat, Rutherford allows his cybernetic implant to fully take over. The resulting fight is straight out of Upgrade, including a few moves being directly copied.
    • The in-universe holomovie Crisis Point: The Rise of Vindicta is chock-full of various nods toward Star Trek movies under J. J. Abrams and especially their aesthetics, mocking them relentlessly.
    • Rutherford is assigned a role of "Bionic 5".
    • Shempo, who is there to replace Boimler and drawn in a way to resemble Shemp, rather than Boimler.
    • One of the Corazonian painters seen when the clouds start falling in In the Cradle of vexilon looks like Bob Ross.
    • The Orion drinking game from "Something Borrowed, Something Green" seems to be based on the Wood Beast scene from Flash Gordon (1980).
  • Shown Their Work: While most of Star Trek lore might still be technobabble, the show makes a point of referencing all the different aspects introduced over the years, from famous faces like Sulu and Troi, to lesser known facts like the Cetacean Ops and Gary Mitchell.
  • Sickly Green Glow: In the main titles, there's a Space Battle between a dozen Romulan warbirds and six Borg Cubes; the lights of their vessels and their disruptor/phaser fire glow green.
  • Silver Spoon Troublemaker: Ensign Beckett Mariner is the rebellious daughter of the U.S.S. Cerritos's captain, Carol Freeman. Mariner is very capable of rising in rank but she frequently sabotages herself through skirting Starfleet protocol in order to stay an ensign. Throughout the first season of the series, Freeman looks for any excuse to have Mariner removed from duty, but never follows through, however they do come to an understanding in the season finale.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • Beta Shift and Delta Shift do not like each other, but it's not explained what they've done to piss each other off.
    • Mariner can't stand Jen, for some reason that's never explained. This ends in the Season 2 finale, where Jennifer saves Mariner's life—and the latter asks out Jen following the event.
    • Mariner also does not take to Jet when he's transferred to their shift as a replacement for Boimler, and they're rapidly trying to out-compete each other.
  • Small Reference Pools: Downplayed: Ensign Boimler is described as being born in Modesto, California, a town some actual native Californians haven't heard of — although fans of American Graffiti, whose director George Lucas also hails from the city, may have.
  • Status Quo Is God: Done in an intentional, funny and self-referencial way. The second season quickly undoes almost everything which happened in the season one finale: Boimler gets demoted to Ensign and sent back to the Cerritos while his transporter clone stays on the Titan, Mariner stops being her mother's unofficial second-in-command, and Shaxs who sacrificed himself comes back to life without any official explanation given.
    • Subverted in season 4. In the first episode of the season, Boimler, Tendi, T'Lyn and Mariner are all promoted to Lieutenant Jr. Grade, with Rutherford getting a promotion to the same rank the next episode. In addition, all of the main characters move out of the bunks they slept in during the first three seasons, with Boimler and Rutherford becoming roommates.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: Strangely zigzagged - the command crew seem oddly reluctant to open fire with the Cerritos’s ship borne weaponry, even in situations where it would be completely justified, to the point where the Cerritos doesn’t fire its weapons even once during the first season. On the other hand, on a personal level, the entire cast and crew seem to have zero issues engaging in multiple intense unarmed, melee and phaser fights with hostile forces and characters.
  • Take That!: Much of "Kayshon, His Eyes Open" is written as an open critique of how much of Star Trek in recent years has become focused on action and epic serialized story arcs, to the point of having lost the love for science and exploration that had originally been the heart of the franchise, going so far as to have Riker himself stating that he preferred the Enterprise-D with its concerts to the wild action adventure that is his current life aboard the Titan.
  • Telepathy: The Anabaj can read other people's thoughts.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The female characters (except for T'Ana) are drawn with eyelashes and lips, whereas the male characters (except for some aliens like the Galardonians and the Taxors, whose lips are visible) lack these features.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: While Cerritos is being basically drawn and quartered, the Titan rides to the rescue, under the command of one Will Riker with the TNG theme in full effect.
  • Theme Naming: Pakleds name everything after their species name usually following the pattern of "Pakled Blank.” Their homeworld is a good example as it’s just called Pakled Planet. This also includes their ships with at least one of them just called Pakled.
  • Thin-Line Animation: Showrunner Mike McMahan is also a producer on Rick and Morty, so it's no surprise that Lower Decks shares a similar animation style.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The crossover episode with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds established that this series is what the Star Trek universe looks like after drinking Orion Hurricanes.
  • Title Drop: "Lower decks" is said on two occasions in the series premiere. The first time, it was a derogatory address of Ensign Tendi, dismissing her as beneath the Lieutenant's notice. The second time was Mariner chanting it in the bar with a sense of pride. The phrase continues to crop up throughout the series as an identifier of the lower-ranked members of the ship.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • The villains for the first season finale are none other than the Pakleds, who have spent the last few decades stealing whatever starship tech they can from powerful races they encountered, including the Borg. They wipe out at least one Federation starship that we see (the Solvang) before they encounter the Cerritos.
    • Boimler, following his time on the Titan, becomes far more willing to stand up for himself than in Season 1, and (somewhat) less of a Butt-Monkey to boot.
    • The senior staff of the Cerritos in general. In the first season, they were relegated to scout work and largely seen as an unimportant joke. But by the third season, the ship had become legendary in the California class series thanks to their exploits. In the finale, the Cerritos managed to take down two rogue Texas class ships on its own, with the rest of the California class coming to their aid to take down the last ship. By the 4th season, the Cerritos is running important missions for Starfleet, showing just how far the little ship has come.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The Senior Staff were initially presented as a group of arrogant, self centered jerks- likely to emphasize the underdog nature of the main characters and the horrific working conditions in Starfleet. After the first season, the senior staff became more likeable and friendly towards the main cast, with many serving as mentors to the Lower Deckers, to the point where the dismissive, condescending attitude displayed in the first episode would be seen as wildly out of character in the 4th season.
  • The Unfavorite: California-class ships and their crew are treated like this. Despite being relatively new to the fleet, the ships are portrayed as being held together with duct tape and a prayer. The crews are considered throwaway to the point where if a captain were to be promoted to a more prestigious ship, leaving their crew or even their senior staff is considered standard. Despite this, just because they aren't the most prestigious or the most structurally sound, they're still Starfleet. When Captain Freeman is accused of destroying Pakled Planet, Starfleet Intelligence smell a rat and convince Freeman to go with the trial while they get evidence of her innocence, much to Mariner's shock.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Like most TNG-era Trek shows, Lower Decks generally has at least two running plotlines in each episode.
    • In season 1, generally Mariner would get the A-plot, with or without Boimler; if Boimler wasn't part of the A-plot he would get the B-plot; and Rutherford and Tendi would either share the B-plot, be divvied between the A-plot and the B-plot, or get a flimsy C-plot which is so slight it's basically a Running Gag.
    • Starting in season 2, Mariner is relegated to the B-plot more often, with Boimler either carrying the A-plot by himself or sharing it with other characters; the senior staff also begins to carry their own plotlines, with Freeman, Ransom, Shaxs, and even Billups being given their own stories.
    • In season 3, Freeman is allowed to carry multiple A-plots by herself, sometimes relegating the Lower Deckers to the B-plot or even minor roles in their own series.
  • Unusual Ears:
    • The Galardonians have tube-like ears.
    • A few Gelrakians have very long earlobes.
  • Unusual Euphemism: After Mariner applies a series of Groin Attacks to de-godify Ransom.
    Ransom: What was I doing?
    Mariner: You tried to eat the ship, sir, and I applied concentrated force to your neutral zone.
  • Unusual Eyebrows: The Corazonians parody the live-action series' habit of creating "aliens" by applying one weird facial trait, in this case, eyebrows that extend several centimeters beyond the skull.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Combined with a hefty dose of Seen It All in I, Excretus when Captain Freeman orders the crew to fly into increasingly dangerous situations to scare the scheming inspector into giving them the passing grade they deserve. The inspector is understandably freaking out, while the rest of the crew calmly continues to do their jobs. When she finally caves and Rutherford rights the ship, a shot of the mess hall shows the rest of the crew staring at the blackhole they were almost sucked into with casual boredom for a second before returning to whatever they were doing.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: Lieutenant Shaxs' standard starting simulation for new recruits is hand-to-hand combat with a dozen Borg drones, which he specifically designed so that he can assess how they handle defeat.
  • Vitriolic Best Friends: Mariner and Boimler have a certain "domineering girl and passive guy" dynamic, and because Mariner seems awfully attached to Boimler they have to fend off beliefs they are a couple.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Vendorians can change their form at will.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: One of the lower decks staff has only ever been seen wearing a towel wrapped around his waist in the hallway bunks.
  • While You Were in Diapers: In "I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee," a Romulan Commander tells a subordinate who he suspects of plotting against him that, "I've been stabbing commanders in the back since before your mother killed her first traitor."
  • World of Weirdness: A lot of the show's humor comes from the fact that the Star Trek universe is an absolutely bizarre place to live, and that Starfleet crews take this mostly in stride.

"Space: the funnest frontier?"


Goodbye, Tendi

After the situation with Nick Locarno has been settled, everything seems to be back to normal. However, Tendi has to leave the Cerritos, potentially for good, as per her promise to her sister.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BittersweetEnding

Media sources: