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aka: Wing Commander Academy

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Games

  • Anti-Climax Boss: Prince Thrakhath in the final stretch of Wing Commander III; even though he is flying the Bloodfang, renowned for its unmatched lethal prowess among the Kilrathi, he flies little faster than a Vaktoth and you likely won't need much time taking him out in your Excalibur.
  • Fandom Rivalry: The fandoms of Wing Commander and Freespace have at times butted heads, influenced in part by personal dislikes.
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  • Fanon Discontinuity: Depending on who you ask, one or a combination of the following: Prophecy and later games, the novels, the movie, the cartoon, and in rare cases, Wing Commander III and IV.
  • Growing the Beard: While the main campaign of the first Wing Commander and the first Secret Missions expansion pack were miles ahead of anything else available in the early 90s in terms of graphics and game play, the storyline is little more than an Excuse Plot. In Secret Missions 2 the characterization and plot both become much more engrossing. We first meet several recurring characters in SM2, both heroes and villains.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Wing Commander III opens on the burning, half-sunken wreck of the Concordia, your flagship from the previous game which is then deemed a "total loss". Come 2012 the Costa Concordia disaster took place, with the ship similarly marooned and damaged beyond repair off the coast of Tuscany. Could possibly be Hilarious in Hindsight, considering the comedy of errors that led to the sinking of the Costa Concordia.
    • In the first Special Operations campaign of Wing Commander II your communications officer laments her failures aboard a vessel named the TCS Kirsk, a carrier that was lost with "over two thousand lives" in a failed attack on the Kilrathi because she didn't decode the Kilrathi transmissions properly. Cut ahead to the year 2000 when the Kursk, an Oscar-class nuclear submarine in the Russian Navy suffered an explosion, resulting in the loss of its entire crew.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Geoffrey Tolwyn was never an especially nice guy, but attempting to genetically purify the entire human race by means of genocide among other means ahead of the next war, and authorizing attacks on civilian targets to justify his efforts to re-militarize humanity is taking it to an all-new level.
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    • Jazz has arguably spent the better part of his career crossing it, but his murder and blackmail of Spirit is likely to do this for many players in the second game.
    • The Emperor of Kilrah had his own son executed right before him for the loss of the weapon that destroyed the Goddard colony. Don't feel too bad for him though, as he was the one to pull the trigger in the first place.
  • One-Scene Wonder: A non-human version; the F-104 Bearcat appears as the newest frontline Terran fighter in The Price of Freedom, but the player only gets to fly the craft in about two missions, and only if they choose the Speradon path during the Border Worlds campaign.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Hey, it's Dr. Pierre Chang flying under the callsign "Vagabond"! As an added bonus, Vagabond's surname actually is Chang.
    • For Wing Commander IV alone, Johnny Rico flew as a Red Shirt, The Chairman flew under "Catscratch", and Leo McGarry served as Captain Paulsen.
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    • Josh Lucas and François Chau in Wing Commander III (and IV in Chau's case)
  • The Scrappy: Everybody seems to hate Maniac (both in real life and in-universe)... Except for the writing staff, since of all of the cast members who get Killed Off for Real, Maniac — the most likely candidate given his rank, status, and reckless behavior — isn't one of them.
  • Squick: From Wing Commander IV, the sight of one of the victims of the biological attack on Telamon. Even Blair and his comrades must look away upon seeing the aftermath of it.
  • Stoic Woobie: Mariko "Spirit" Tanaka and Michael "Iceman" Casey both have lost loved ones to the Kilrathi (fiance and family, respectively), but don't go wallowing in self-pity over it.
  • Uncanny Valley: Melek's appearance changes drastically between the third and fourth games, looking absolutely nothing like he had in his first appearance by the time he resurfaces.
  • What an Idiot!: An especially egregious case of this comes from Prince Thrakhath at the very start of the third game, where he executes Angel's team of covert operatives and then herself with no interrogations held regarding their infiltration of his homeworld. This would come back to bite his entire race in the ass much later as we learn that they were laying down the groundwork for the Temblor Bomb strike that would ultimately spell doom for the entire Kilrathi Empire. Chalk this one up to his zealous overconfidence in the face of an enemy that seemed on the brink of defeat after a series of disastrous battles had left humanity squarely on the defensive.
    • No less egregious is Maverick being wrongly charged with treason in the second game following the loss of the Tiger's Claw to Kilrathi stealth fighters, a story which, without flight recorder evidence, High Command was not willing to even consider as remotely possible. While Blair's actions can be (and are) criticized as an incompetent desperately trying to cover his own ass, Confed brass never explore the possibility that he could have been right, not only leaving Maverick in disgrace but leaving themselves vulnerable to all manner of sneak attack. This state of affairs goes on until Maverick is able to bring back flight-recorder data that exonerates him, ten years later.

Movie

  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Blair in the video games was portrayed by Mark Hamill, best known for playing a Jedi. Blair in the film is played by Freddie Prinze Jr.., who would go on to play a Jedi.
  • Narm: Matthew Lillard's over-the-top antics as Maniac could certainly qualify; it just doesn't quite work as well as Thomas F. Wilson's memorable portrayal of the character.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • The Kilrathi are played by guys in suits, but the animitronics running the faces barely work and they flail their arms like bad puppets. The film tries to shoot them in darkness to hide this most of the time, but it only makes the clear views more ridiculous.
    • The ships and combat look bad, even for the time. The Rapiers, being minimalistic modifications of a small section of fuselage and cockpit from old English Electric Lightning fighters, looked particularly horrible. Babylon 5 was doing better effects on a budget that was famously skimpy even for TV when this came out, and The Phantom Menace would be setting a new bar less than a year later.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: A very common complaint, particularly the name of the carrier changing from TCS Tiger's Claw to TCS Tiger Claw due to script editing confusion between editors for the film.
    • The various ships and starfighters featured do not resemble their video game counterparts at all. Especially egregious are the Rapiers, which are downright ugly compared to those of the games.
  • Values Dissonance: The pilots of the Claw make it a point to completely disavow the deceased upon the loss of a respected comrade, going so far as to say they never existed.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard and Saffron Burrows as Blair, Maniac and Angel respectively. Few found them convincing in their roles, especially when measured up against their video game counterparts.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: The Kilrathi look nothing like their video game counterparts and in fact are visibly furless. Chris Roberts himself admits that he was satisfied with neither their look in the games or their redesigned appearance in the film.

Wing Commander Academy

  • Foe Yay: An occasional element of Maniac and Archer's UST.
  • Spiritual Licensee: To Universal's previous sci-fi cartoon, Exosquad; indeed, USA Network aired reruns of that show the same time they were airing this one.

Alternative Title(s): Wing Commander Academy

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