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A subtrope of It's Raining Men, this is a favored tactic of the Space Marine. You need to get your troops to the battlefield. You also need to inflict damage to the enemy. Why not do both at the same time?
A Drop Pod is usually launched from a ship--usually in space--like a bullet after being loaded with troops, preferably in Powered Armor. Sometimes it has its own thrusters, allowing it to adjust its course in flight. When it hits, it usually performs a Ground-Shattering Landing, softening up the enemy enough to allow the troops to disembark safely.
Note that while a Drop Pod is nearly always used to damage the enemy, it doesn't always. The Starship Troopers version typically disintegrated, creating chaff to protect the trooper from anti-air fire, by the time it reached the ground.
Compare Drop Ship, which can fly back up to the orbiting ship afterward.
Anime and Manga
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, ZAFT used Drop Pods to deliver their Humongous Mecha to Earth when they began their invasion
- The pods used by Frieza's troops in Dragonball Z.
Film - Animated
- Though it it not designed to inflict damage, Mr. Incredible is launched from Mirage's plane in one of these.
Film - Live Action
- Like many Space Marine tropes, the Trope Namer here is Starship Troopers. Little has changed since Robert A. Heinlein invented the trope.
- The War of the Worlds By H.G. Wells has the Martians using drop pods that contain the materials necessary to build their tripods.
- The Space Marines of Warhammer 40000 use this as their primary tactic. Many other races have similar abilities. The tactic of unexpectedly inserting your troops behind enemy lines is known as "deep striking," whether it is done with Drop Pods, teleporters, or wombs fired from space.
- Champions supplement Gadgets. One of the title items was the "Jump Shell", said to be used by the U.S. Marine Corps to insert troops into the battlefield from orbit. Less advanced interim models would be dropped from supersonic transport planes.
- Classic Traveller Adventure 1 The Kinunir. Some of the Marine troops on board the title ship are trained to use jump capsules to descend from orbit and land on a planetary surface.
- BattleTech has Mech-sized drop pods, as well as power armor sized ones. They are usually dropped directly onto a possible landing zone to secure it, so that the DropShips can arrive to bring in the real army.
- Halo gives us the HEV, or Human Entry Vehicle, designed to shoot one soldier at the battlefield. These are launched in large numbers; the idea is that if one gets shot down, you lose one troop rather than the dozens that would be aboard a dropship. The troops who use this are the ODST, also called Helljumpers, and are the second best the human military has to offer, after the Spartans.
- The Mandalorians from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic use Basilisk war droids to drop themselves onto planet surface from space. The Exile gets to repeat the feat on Onderon in the sequel.
- Star Wars:The Old Republic: A ships Escape Pods are used this way, for the Eternity Vault Operation (Raid).
- The Tiberium saga of Command and Conquer features this in two iterations of the Support Power variety. The Tiberian Sun iteration crash drops a handful of veteran low-tier GDI infantrymen on the battlefield. The Tiberium Wars variant, on the other hand, lands a commander a few squads of veteran GDI Zone Troopers which are powerful enough to turn a pitched battle into a devastating curb-stomp.
- In Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron, one may utilize the escape pods on capital ships as a quick way of getting to the planet's surface to attack.
- In Mega Man Legends 2, a drop pod has to be built in order for MegaMan to reach the surface of Forbidden Island due to the violent blizzard.
- There were drop pods in Battlefield 2142 which could be launched from air transports, Titans, APCs and the player would spawn from one if you selected a spawn beacon for your spawn point. Before the most recent patches, they could be used to destroy vehicles, and a glitch allowed you to fly around the map.
- In Starcraft II The Terrans use drop pods.
- The Crimson Lance arrive in these in Borderlands.
- In the Quake II and Quake IV universe, the drop pods are almost identical as how they are in Starship Troopers. In II, the player starts when he misses his drop zone and ends up and the far side of enemy territory. In Quake IV, the player uses a drop pod to make a pin-point attack on a Strogg command centre. Coincidentally, both landings are crash landings due to malfunctions in the pods' systems after they're clipped by another pod.
- PlanetSide has the HART drop pod. The HART shuttle flies above the planet, and ejects the soldiers out of the bottom in large metal pods with small thrusters on them. Once the pod lands, it unfolds and releases the soldier.
- Used in the F.E.A.R. series to drop down armour onto the battle field.
- Exo Squad featured two variants: A smaller one for the Jump Troopers, and bigger reentry pods for the E-Frames.
- Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles had the troopers first embark onto Drop Ships, and then they would be dropped from there in pods, presumably to allow the mothership to stay clear of Bug defensive fire. One episode has Rico get cast adrift in one of these due to a glancing blow in mid-drop. He is eventually saved by Carmen.
- which, in II's case, saves Bitterman's life, most of the other pods being shot down by the Big Gun's EMP