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"Live forever, apes."
Lt. Razak


 Brutto: The LT's insane!

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


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

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

The series can viewed on crackle here or on Youtube here. To see the rest of the media, see Starship Troopers.

Roughnecks contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The Skinnies' constrictor-foam guns
  • Adaptation Distillation: Basically takes the best of the novel and film and smooshes it all together, with a few twists of its own, and dumps the rest (especially the controversial political anvils).
  • A Father to His Men: Lieutenant Razak cares about each and every member of his squad, and they love him in return. He will risk any of their lives if the mission calls for it, but he will be right there with them and he will never waste their lives.
  • All of Them: Three times:
    • During the Zephyr Campaign, the Zephyr has crashed on a frozen asteroid and is besieged by "firefries," Bugs which breathe fire. When Razak was away from the ship and being called back by Higgins, he asked how many Bugs were attacking. Higgins responded with "too many."
    • Before the invasion of Klendathu, Higgins attempted to get information about the upcoming mission from Razak for his report. When he asked about the scale of the invasion, Razak replied "Every ship, every trooper."
    • In the Homefront Campaign, the Bugs invaded Earth. How many Bugs? All of them.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted, Tesca is the only alien planet where the Roughnecks can safely use unpressurized suits.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • The start of the Klendathu arc, when Bug!Zander hijacks the Valley Forge.
    • The "Homefront" arc, the final arc of the series, revolves around a Bug invasion of Earth.
  • Alien Invasion: Take a wild bloody guess.
  • Alien Sky
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: The Infiltrator Bugs keep talking about the weather every time they pass the Roughnecks. It initially provides T'Phai some good snark material, where he brings up that it has always confused him why humans are so preoccupied with the weather, but soon the squad gets concerned when they notice that everybody they pass keeps harping on what a beautiful day it is.
  • Artificial Gravity: The first time the Roughnecks are on the Valley Forge, they are shown floating around the cabin in zero-g. After that they apparently had gravity carpets installed.
  • Artificial Limbs: Razak's arm and Rocquefort's eye.
  • Aside Glance: One of Doc and Gossard's favorite comedic techniques.
  • The Asteroid Thicket
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Bugs apparently do not respire at all. They are seen surviving without equipment on atmosphere-free Pluto, the methane-atmosphere of Tophet, the not-quite-oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere of Klendathu and the oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere of Earth. They are also seen, on occasion, underwater, although there appear to also be water-specific bugs used for aquatic missions.
  • Battle Royale With Cheese: The invasion of Hawaii brings back nearly every Bug subspecies seen in the series.
  • Berserk Button: T'Phai does not like being called a lackluster husband.
  • Betty and Veronica: Dizzy and Carmen.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dizzy is the character who most frequently comes to a dramtic rescue of a Roughneck in trouble, but each member of the squad gets his own chance to save somebody else.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Skinnie's breathe a methane atmospere with an average temperature too high for human survival. When T'Phai was caught in a fire during the Klendathu Campaign the other Roughnecks fear for his life, but he explains his heat tolerance is much greater than theirs and mentions that it was the first time he has been warm in the months since he left Tophet.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Dizzy.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The last shot of the series is of a massive fleet of transport bugs descending on Earth.
  • Bottle Episode
  • Brain Food: The Brain Bugs obviously.
  • Breath Weapon: The firefries breathe fire.
  • Bug War: An adaptation of the Trope Codifier and Namer.
  • The Bus Came Back: Sergeant Brutto sends a few letters after he left the Roughnecks, but then re-appears for the penultimate episode at Lieutenant Razak's funeral.
  • Butt Monkey: For the first three campaigns, any time a Roughneck needed to be knocked out, kidnapped or shot it would be Goss, at least before the rest got around to being attacked, too. As the series progressed the punishment began to be evenly distributed.
  • Call Back: When Bug!Zander is about to kill Rico during the Klendathu Campaign, Dizzy reminds him of the time they had spent together in the Tesca Campaign and quotes back to him his earlier words of friendship and (potentially) love.
  • Cannot Spit It Out
  • Cartwright Curse: Dizzy believes this to be the case, but of all her relationships only Zander was killed or removed from the series. Lampshaded when Diz tries to give Johnnie an It's Not You, It's My Enemies speech to hold off a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Carl Jenkins is never wrong, not once in the entire series, but after each psychic pronouncement the squadmates and S.I.C.O.N. superiors complain that he is incorrect. Eventually, Carl points out that he has been proven right before, which gets him at least some credibility with the squad.
    • In the Tesca Campaign, Rico is injured and stuck in a medical People Jar while he screams that he hears Bugs approaching, "...they're coming, they're almost here, can't you hear them!?" The doctor believe he is traumatised from his injuries and plan to classify him as Section Eight, which involves a Mind Wipe to remove the memory of the traumatic event, thus "killing" that version of Rico. It turns out the tank he is in is conducting sounds from underground, where the Bugs are digging their tunnels.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Notably, the one time the Roughnecks run into an exception is a major clue that the inhabitants of a small town are not what they appear, just as it would be in real life.
  • Chained Heat: Rico and T'Phai chain themselves together to keep from being separated when the squad is being picked off one by one. Rico learns to like T'Phai during this time, and accepts that it was not his fault that Carl Jenkins was wounded during the Tophet Campaign.
  • The Chick: Higgins
  • Clip Show: Four of these, produced to help keep up with the show's shaky broadcast schedule.
  • Colonel Badass: T'Phai
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger
  • Composite Character:
    • Lieutenant Razak is a composite of Lieutenant Colonel DuBois, who was one of Rico's teachers in High School, and Lieutenant "Rasczak," his commanding officer, from the novel. This same combination was made in the film.
    • Carl, a friend of Rico's from High School, and Jenkins, one of his squad-mates, in the novel were combined into one character.
  • Continuity Nod: Production-model C.H.A.S. units appear later in the show, on the bridge of the Valley Forge and the basecamp on Klendathu. A Running Gag seems to be that whenever they are shown they get almost immediately destroyed by a casual swipe from a single Bug.
  • Converse with the Unconscious
  • Creepy Monotone:
    • At times the psychic Carl fell into this.
    • Zander, following his transformation.
  • Cute Bruiser: Dizzy.
  • Cut Short: Just as they were setting up for a big climax. Four clip-shows were produced instead.
  • Death World: Some of the planets shown have particularly hostile local ecologies, in addition to environmental hazards from the atmosphere.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Imposter Bugs and the Infiltrator Bugs
  • Drop Ship: Separate versions are used for orbital drop and retrieval, though the orbital version is sometimes seen making direct landings, notably on Hydora.
  • Earth Is a Battlefield: The final campaign
  • Epiphany Therapy: With a telepathic boost
  • Everyone Went to School Together:
    • Rico, Dizzy, Carl, Carmen and Zander were all at High School school together. Lt. Razak was one of their teachers.
    • In the Homefront Campaign, it is revealed that Lieutenant Razak, Sergeant Zim and General Redwing attended basic training together, only drifting apart after years of service when Razak retired to teach, Zim became a training drill instructor and Redwing climbed the officer ranks.
  • Evolutionary Levels: When discussing the Bugs use of genetic engineering to produce new hybrid species, they explain it as thousands of years of evolution happening at once.
  • Face Full of Alien Wingwong: Zander, Combined with The Corruption and Body Horror, culminating in What Have I Become? and Redemption Equals Death).
  • Faceless Mooks: Standard Mobile Infantry battle armor includes a full helmet, which can make it difficult to identify individual team members. However, to make sure viewers know who is who, personnel names are written on the helmets of all troopers, including extras, to maintain individuality.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Members of the squad, particularly Sergeant Brutto, frequently ridicule and insult Carl Jenkins because of his psychic powers, and at one point actually decide his death is preferable to breaking radio silence on a mission. Brutto never does completely accept Jenkins, but he does wear the M.I.A. armband after he leaves the squad, explaining "Jenkins was a freak, but was our freak."
    • Colonel T'phai initially finds it hard to become part of the team because of their natural dislike of the Skinnies, who they had been fighting right up until a short while ago. Rico maintains his dislike the longest, but eventualy the Roughnecks accept him into the squad.
  • Fatal Family Photo: On Klendathu, Higgins finds a photograph folded within a half-written letter. He laments that the writer, whoever he was, presumably did not even get to finish his letter to his loved ones on Earth before he was killed.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Higgins.
  • The Federation: SICON (the Strategically Integrated Coalition Of Nations). Called "Psycho" by the troops.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gossard, inventor of the T.A.L.C.Box and go-to guy for last-minute jury-rig spaceship repairs.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Brutto tells Higgins that if he points his camera at him again, it is "gonna get a real nice closeup of your lower intestine."
  • Good Thing You Can Replace Your Mechanical Limb: Razak manages to get his prosthetic burned, chewed, or ripped off about a half-dozen times.
  • Grappling Hook Pistol: Dizzy even used one to make her point to a cliffmite.
  • Greek Chorus: Higgins, who doubles as narrator for the series.
  • Gunship Rescue, a few times.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Zander, and later the Infiltrator Bugs.
  • Heel Face Turn: Colonel T'Phai. Of course, he was Not Himself during his Heel phase.
  • Heroic RROD: During the Tophet campaign, Carl - already in bad shape - uses a burst of psychic power to destroy a Control Bug. However, the psychic strain of doing so renders him catatonic/comatose; he doesn't show up again until Klendathu, having undergone extensive work to "repair the damage".
  • Hive Caste System
  • Hive Queen
  • Ho Yay: Brutto and T'phai, of all people. They even comment on it themselves at one point, in a network-friendly way.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The Skinnies
  • Instant Expert: T'phai learns fluent English between one episode and the next, although the implication is that there has been time spent to integrate the Skinnies into the S.I.C.O.N. military.
  • It Got Worse: During the Homefront Campaign, Lieutenant Razak has just been Killed Off for Real, but hey, at least they stopped the Bugs' subterranean attack. Then, while the whole team is trying to cope with their loss...

 Soldier: "Lieutenant Walker, emergency briefing in ten! The Bugs have hit a dozen other cities. It's bad."

Carl: "Understatement."

  • It's Raining Men: The orbital drops for the Mobile Infantry reappear here.
  • Jet Pack: A realistically large jetpack, the Wasp, is seen in one episode. The smaller backpack-sized units are used in lieu of parachutes, and for short range jumps.
  • Join the Army They Said
  • Karmic Transformation
  • Killed Off for Real: Zander and Lieutenant Razak
  • Kill It with Fire: Hand flamers appear here; also the Arachnid Tanker Bugs and firefries.
  • Lady of War: Carmen.
  • Land Mine Goes Click
  • Latex Space Suit: For the pilots and civilians, at least, while the Troopers' suits were heavier and armored, but still more flexible and less bulky than real spacesuits.
  • Laughing Mad: Zander, during the initial stages of his infection.
  • Left Hanging
  • Lego Genetics
  • Literal Cliff Hanger
  • Living Ship: The Transport Bugs (which have Faster-Than-Light Travel) and the asteroid-sized Ice Bug, which does not, and consequently spends thousands to millions of years hibernating in deep space between stars.
  • The Lost Woods: Planet Tesca
  • Love Redeems: Zander has been transformed into a human/Bug hyrid and is spearheading a new plan that might spell doom for the human invasion of Klendathu, but Dizzy managed to break through his new intentions by reminding him of their time together and asking him to join her, and humanity as a whole, again.
  • Love Triangle: Dizzy loves Rico, Rico loves Carmen, Carmen does not love anybody. Eventually each character pursues other relationships when they reaize that the current dynamics will not change. Of course, that is when the dynamic does change.
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: Hoppers. When they are introduced on Pluto they are immune to pulse rifle rounds, requiring grenades or rockets. By the Tesca Nemerosa campaign, pulse rifles kill them with ease.
  • Meaningful Funeral: The Roughnecks gather, including former members and General Miriam Redwing, to lay the ashes of Lieutenant Razak to rest over a wild lake at sunrise, per his final request in his will.
  • Meat Puppet: It is revealed towards the end of the Tophet Campaign that the Skinnies are not allies of the Bugs, but rather that mind-controlling Bugs have attached themselves to the spines of the entire species and enslaved them all.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Marauders.
  • The Mole: The Imposter Bugs attempt to sneak onto human bases by dressing up in Mobile Infantry armor, but are discovered in quick order. The Infiltrator Bugs, on the other hand, are human/bug hybrids and can actually transform into humans (Outwardly, at least) and pass completely unnoticed. Until they ask about the weather, that is.
  • Monumental Damage: Though we do not see it, the Bugs opened their invason of Earth with the destruction of the White House, the Eiffle Tower and several other landmarks throughout the world.
  • Mr. Fixit: Gossard
  • Mythology Gag: Dizzy refers to their mission as a "bug hunt" in the pilot episode, that being the original title of The Movie. Other subtle references to scenes and lines from both book and movie appear, often just to subvert them.
  • Mook Chivalry: The Bugs are remarkably keen to fight the Roughnecks one at a time on some occasions.
  • Nakama: On two separate occasions, Lieutenant Razak explained to Higgins that he had no message to send back home to Earth, as everybody he cared about was right there with him. During the Klendathu Campaign, he pointed Higgins' camera at the Rougnecks and stated that they were his family.
  • The Neidermeyer: Zander - he gets better. For a while.
  • Newsreel: Appear several times; Higgins is an embedded reporter gathering footage for these.
  • Nightmare Sequence: When Rico is recuperating.
  • Non-Action Guy: Higgins
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Rougnecks do not leave one of their own behind.
  • Not Himself: Zander after his infection, T'phai and the other Skinnies (at first).
  • Not with the Safety On, You Won't: When Carmen is first thrust into ground combat after her dropship is shot down, she panics when she tries to shoot an attacking Bug and her gun will not fire. After Zander shoots the Bug he explains to her that weapons will not function unless you take the safety off.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: The tactical nukes they use for demolitions are referred to as "plasma bombs".
  • Organic Technology: Even more than the film, the Bugs consist of numerous specialized castes with weaponized Bizarre Alien Biology, up to and including Faster-Than-Light Travel.
  • The Other Darrin: Clancy Brown is the only actor to reprise his role from the film, that of Career Sergeant Zim. All other characters were recast.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Even though in one instance the shockwave was specifically mentioned by the characters as the deadly part of the explosion and the shockwave itself was shown overtaking them! Granted, they were wearing armored spacesuits at the time...
  • People Jars: Rico spends time in one while recovering from serious injuries.
  • Perma Shave: Sergeant Zim through waking up ungodly early.
  • Physics Goof:
    • Well, chemistry technically, but Hydora's atmosphere is described as being 25% oxygen, 75% hydrogen. Ladies and gentlemen, Hydora has flammable air. Given all the rocket thrusters, gunfire and bombs going off, what is stopping the atmosphere from catching fire?
    • The Zephyr Campaign. The asteroid is stated at least twice to be airless/have a trace atmosphere, yet it has precipitation (snow) and at one point we have a pool of liquid water exposed to the "air"; it should have flashed to vapor given the lack of air pressure.
  • Plant Aliens: The Skinnies are apparently photosynthetic and need sunlight to survive. Presumably their life-support suits take care of this later in the series.
  • Powered Armor: Standad Mobile Infantry Battle Armor provides combat information to its wearer, includes built-in jetpacks for increased jumping and slowing the rate of descent while falling, and offers insulation from all encountered environments, including extreme heat, submersion in water and exposue to vacuum. The Marauders appear as more of a Mini-Mecha design than the original Powered Armor of the novel.
  • Psychic Powers: Even more so than in the film, but with a different feel.
  • Psychic Nosebleed
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The opening theme is a remix of Beethoven's Piano Sonata #8 (Pathetique), Opus 13.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: In the form of control bugs.
  • Put on a Bus: Sergeant Brutto is reassigned from the Roughnecks after an injury on Klendathu.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lieutenant Razak is the epitome of this, Commander Marlowe of the Valley Forge is on the low end of this trope, but still qualifies.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Zander managed to break out of his new Bug mentality just in time to save the Roughnecks and help destroy the new Bug plan to infiltrate the human forces, but died during the subsequent battle.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Sparky, who also turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: C.H.A.S., who learns The Power of Friendship just in time to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Series Continuity Error: Is Zander a major or a lieutenant? He seems to be addressed as both constantly throughout the series.
  • Shout-Out: The Drop Ships have "Hades Elevator" on them, an obvious Aliens reference.
  • Shapeshifting: The infiltrator Bugs
  • Shoot the Dog: When General Redwin was captured by the Bugs, a Bain Bug arrived to suck her mind dry of all the crucial information that she has on S.I.C.O.N. and its forces. The Roughnecks manage to save her, and she is appreciative, but she comments that they should have killed her in order to insure that her knowledge did not fall into the hands of the Bugs. Rico informs her that that was Plan B.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Pluto and the surface of Clovis/the Ice Bug
  • Space Is Noisy
  • Space Does Not Work That Way: Winged bugs flying on airless Pluto.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The series changed the spelling of Lieutenant Rasczak's name to Razak.
  • Stock Footage:
    • The orbital drop sequence.
    • A Tanker Bug firing. Actually, a lot of stuff, to cut down on production time, as they were rushed as it was.
  • Stun Guns
  • Take Our Word for It: The destruction of the White House, the Eiffle Tower and other famous landmarks is never shown, just described and reflected upon by others.
  • Taking You with Me:
  • Talk About the Weather: The Infiltrator Bugs keep talking about the weather every time they pass the Roughnecks. T'Phai uses this as an opportunity to snark about the apparent human preoccupation with the weather, but the team becomes concerned when everybody they meet keeps harping on what a beautiful day it is.
  • Tentacle Rope
  • That's No Moon: The Ice Bug
  • There Are No Therapists: Technically, there are, but when your first resort is to Mind Wipe a trooper with PTSD and program them with a false obedient-soldier personality, the system is clearly broken.
  • The Squad: Razak's Roughnecks.
  • Those Two Guys: Doc and Gossard.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Carl gets a power-up after coming out of his control-bug coma.
  • Translator Microbes: A translator device that works on the humanoid Skinnies, but not as well on the Bugs.
  • Try Not to Die: "Live forever, apes!"
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Intel Agent Walker
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Dizzy.
  • The Virus: Affects Zander. It is how the bugs expand their capabilities.
  • The War Has Just Begun: The closing narration of the first episode, and a few other times.
  • Water Level: Planet Hydora, Zegema Beach
  • We Have Reserves: Sky Marshal Sanchez is willing to sacrifice large numbers of civilians in order to achieve a victory over the Bugs.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The C.H.A.S. model robot is added to the Rougnecks during the Tophet Campaign, where he learns the vaue of human life and sacrifces himself to save Higgins. The closing narration reveals that S.I.C.O.N. considered the mission casualty-free, but the team considers it as the loss of one of their own. However, they never wear the K.I.A. or M.I.A. armbands that they do when they lose other Roughnecks.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The first episode of the Trackers Campaign is Alien and Aliens, complete with exact quotations and shot-for-shot scene recreations. Clearest when Bug!Zander approached members of the squad as they monitor him with a hand-held motion sensor.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: To motivate the troopers in the middle of hazardous missions, Razak and Rico would spur them into action by asking if they wanted to live forever. This is in stark contrast to the pre-mission command given before every drop: Live forever.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Dizzy's claustrophobia, early in the show. She gets temporarily better via Carl's mind-mojo, but it crops up again later.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Rico and Dizzy go back and forth, back and forth... I am getting dizzy too...
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: When Carl Jenkins returns after his Heroic BSOD, his psychic powers are greatly increased, including new telekinetic abilities. However, his personality is also altered and he becomes violent after telepathically hearing some disparaging remarks from the other Roughnecks. Fortunately, he is able to retain control, and he reintegrates into the squad.
  • Womb Level: Transport Bugs and the Ice Bug.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Doc keeps using "virus" and "bacteria" interchangably, along with related terms such as "infection." An infection, by definition, is not caused by a virus, and a virus, by definition, can not be defeated by means of an anti-biotic.
  • Your Head Asplode: Brain bug on Hydora.
  • You Will Be Assimilated: Because it is so much easier to "bug-form" other lifeforms than to Terraform planets.
  • Zerg Rush: Standard Bug tactics.