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File:Starship Troopers film poster 5635.jpg

 Join the Mobile Infantry and save the galaxy. Service Guarantees Citizenship! Would you like to know more?


The Paul Verhoeven film is generally considered to be the biggest middle finger the novel will ever receive, and that is no accident. It's a satire of militarism, the Cold War, dehumanization of the enemy, war movies, propaganda and military sci-fi in general. It originally started out as an unrelated script called Bug Hunt, before the studio acquired the rights to the novel and rewrote the script to accommodate it. The film was intentionally designed as the polar opposite of the book in terms of message, characterization, and theme --an attack on the "pro-war fascist dogma" detractors of the novel attribute to it. A fairly detailed exploration of the film's themes can be found on The AV Club.

There was a direct to video sequel or two, with Puppeteer Parasite in the form of brain-eating Control Bugs and the introduction of Powered Armor and religious subtext (respectively). They can be viewed on Hulu.

A new film, an All CGI Cartoon being produced by the cast and some very talented people, is coming out summer 2012, called Starship Troopers: Invasion. It is simultaneously paying homage to the first film (including Putting the Band Back Together, albeit with Johnny and Carmen being The Other Darrin), and the original book (with lots of power armor and Super Soldier going around), in spite of the film's satirical nature. This will also include some Japanese influences.

These films provide examples of:
  • Abandon Ship: Occurs in both the first and third movies. The third movie proceeds on to the main plot, a group of survivors making their way across the planet while defending themselves against the bugs until they can regroup with a squad of Marines from their ship. They find the Marines, still in their dropship, dead as soon as they left their home ship due to an air leak.
  • Ace Pilot: Carmen, overlapping with Drives Like Crazy.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The Mobile Infantry operating without armor or artillery support was actually justified in the novel, because the MI powered armor suits let them provide their own support. When the movie eliminated the powered armor, it failed to account for this, making the MI's tactics look very silly.
    • Lampshaded: After the initial attack on Klendathu failed miserably, everyone acknowledged that the MI's tactics were moronic. In later operations they're seen operating with heavy air support.
  • Affectionate Parody: The musical Starship is one of the film.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: And they all look like the same stretch of desert, too.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Carmen and Zander just before the asteroid appears.
  • Anachronic Order: The opening newsreel takes place during the initial invasion of Klendathu, before the movie jumps back a few months, then catches up about half-way through.
  • Anyone Can Die: Most of those close to Rico are slaughtered brutally.
    • At the end of the second film, Sahara is the only soldier from the outpost who makes it out alive, with Dax opting for a Heroic Sacrifice and others having been killed by Dax and Sahara after they were infected with the Control Bug.
    • At the end of the third film, Lola and Holly are the only ones who survive from the group that crash-landed on the planet.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Rasczak in spades.
  • Artificial Limbs: Rasczak's mechanical left hand.
  • Artistic License Biology: In a Biology class in the beginning of the film, the teacher refers to the Bugs as both "arachnids" and "insects." Moments later, she calls up a holographic image of one. It only has four legs.
  • Ascended Extra: Male!Dizzy was a Sacrificial Lamb for the first scene of the novel; Carl was killed offscreen — er, off-page. Both have more important roles in the movie.
  • Author Tract: According to his commentary, almost every scene was supposed to convey some sort of social or political message.
    • If you're aware of who director Paul Verhoeven is, you already know he didn't need to point that out.
    • Averted in the commentary for the second film, where the film-makers point out that everyone assumes the movie is about Iraq, but the script was written long before that war started.
  • Auto Doc: An injured Rico is placed in a nutrient tank with automated metal hands mending his thigh wound.
  • Back in the Saddle: Rico's teacher Mr. Rasczak returns to duty as Lieutenant in the MI. Drill Sergeant Zim is so eager to get back on the front lines that he deliberately gets himself demoted to Private to do so.
  • Badass: Sgt. Zim! Starts the movie as a Drill Sergeant Nasty, then takes a VOLUNTARY DEMOTION so that he can go into combat, THEN captures a brain bug! Being played by Clancy Brown certainly doesn't hurt his badassitude.
    • Dax in the second film qualifies.
  • Banister Slide: Carmen does one while running to a shuttle in the first film.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Rico's hair is always perfect. Always. Even when he just took off his helmet after marching around a hot desert planet.
    • Holly gets Covered in Gunge in Marauder. All of her except her head, so her face and hair remain clean.
    • Also worth mentioning is Carmen who sustains a massive explosion to the face when the bridge takes a hit over Klendathu. While Rico's recovering in the bacta tank, Carmen has a tiny cut through her eyebrow which actually serves to enhance her looks.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: As subtle as a Morita Assault Rifle to the face in "Marauders". The Magnificent Bitch Admiral Enolo Phid begins to use religion as part of the Federation's propaganda after witnessing in the video records traitor Sky Marshall Omar Anoke communicating with the Brain Bug from the first movie that was being contained for interrogation in almost Religious Ecstasy. Seeing the most powerful man in the galaxy do exactly as told without thought or protest convinces her to adopt a Christian-esque religion to render the people servile. In Anoke's case, he orchestrates a massacre on Roku San on behalf of the "God Bug" Behemecoatl and manipulates fellow religiously devout assistant, Holly, into falling for his eloquent religious words before she learns who his "god" really during his betrayal, casually suggesting killing him as he's worshipping "The Wrong god". Amidst all the bashing, former atheist Action Girl Lola's religious awakening appears to be the only instance where religion is not associated with mind control.
  • Betty and Veronica: Rico for Dizzy and Ibanez. Interestingly, he essentially winds up with neither as Dizzy dies and Ibanez dumps him to be a career pilot.
    • She does worse than dump him. She LJBFs him.
  • Big Bad: The Bugs
  • Big Book of War: In Marauder, General Hauser is attacked by a civilian and cites every regulation he is violating by attacking an officer. Yes, for each punch, uppercut, and kick to the balls there is a regulation for that.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies
  • Black Dude Dies First:
  • Blatant Lies: In the third film, just about everything the Federation says on the news seems to be this whenever it involves the main plot. Which makes you doubt the veracity of the news reels' ongoing B Plot about the growing Peace Movement and its leader.
  • Blood Knight: Watkins empties roughly a hundred rounds into a bug, even after it's clearly obvious it's dead. Instant Section Eight.
  • Bloody Hilarious
  • Boom! Headshot!: In Marauder. To be fair, he was ten feet away, shooting at a brain bug. There's nothing but headshots to get with that thing. And it takes the entire magazines of two different guns to put it down.
  • Bottomless Magazines: In spite of the massive amount of ammo expended, you can pretty much count on one hand the number of times anyone reloads on-screen.
    • Apparently lampshaded in the video game tie-in, as your basic weapon never runs out of ammo.
  • Brother Chuck:
    • Ace, Carl, and Carmen are nowhere to be seen in the third movie. In the case of Carmen, Denise Richards had a schedule conflict.
    • Carmen does get a reference, though; she's the one that tipped Rico off to the Sky Marshal's visit.
  • California Doubling: Buenos Aires, the Mobile Infantry boot camp, and Klendaathu all look suspiciously like the same Southwestern US desert. Which is ironic in a way, because the scenes set on alien planets were all filmed on Hell's Half Acre, in Wyoming.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Buenos Aires. Note that in the novel, only one of Rico's relatives was in B.A., and he didn't even find that out until months later.
  • Cannon Fodder: Johnny Rico and his fellow ground troops. Practically the Trope Codifier.
  • Censor Decoy: FedNet censors a cow being ripped apart by an Arachnid and later the Brain Bug being probed, yet they show the gruesomely mangled bodies of humans killed by the Arachnids not once, but TWICE.
  • Child Soldiers: In a blink-and-you-miss-it scene, we're shown Rico's new troops. They're all teenagers, some of them look as young as 14 years old. They're not shown again for the rest of the movie, presumably because showing the inevitable outcome wouldn't be acceptable.
  • Colonel Badass: Michael Ironside as Lieutenant Rasczak from the first movie qualifies.
    • General Shepherd from the second flick seems like this at first. He eventually becomes the movie's Big Bad after he gets infested, and gives the heroes a pretty nasty Hannibal Lecture.
  • Communications Officer: A series of (usually short-lived) characters fulfill this role throughout the first film, including Dizzy and Ace towards the end.
  • Composite Character: In the novel, Carl is Rico's childhood friend who dies offscreen, the only psychic is an unnnamed "sensitive" who makes one brief appearance (and Rico suspects his talent is really just very good hearing), and Jenkins is one of Rico's later squadmates. Also in the novel, Colonel DuBois, Rico's teacher, and Lt. Rasczak are separate characters, but Michael Ironside pulls double duty when the two are combined.
  • Covered in Gunge: Bug guts everywhere.
  • Cult Colony: Port Joe Smith is a colony founded by "Mormon Extremists" just inside the Arachnid Quarantine Zone. Bugs apparently found them quite tasty. Well duh. No cigarette or coffee after taste, and caffeine-free. Delicious and nutritious!
  • Dare to Be Badass: "Comon, you Apes! Do you wanna live forever?!"
  • Dawson Casting: Casper Van Diem was twenty-nine playing a high school student, Denise Richards was 26, and the other "high schoolers" weren't much younger. Results in Fridge Horror when you realize how utterly creepy it is that people who just barely avoid being Child Soldiers are hardened veterans.
  • Dead Line News
  • "Dear John" Letter: Rico gets one from Carmen via video mail.
  • Death by Cameo: Scriptwriter Edward Neumeier briefly appears as a murderer who is sentenced to death by lethal injection in a show trial (from what we can tell there wasn't even a trial, just a verdict).
  • Death by Sex: After spending over half of the movie pining, the day after Dizzy and Rico have sex, she dies.
  • Death From Above: The Bugs use this by (somehow using plasma) shooting asteroids, but the humans seem to have trouble with the concept. Yes, this makes no sense on so many levels. It's implied it's bull anyway; the more likely explanation is that the government did it themselves as an excuse for war.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Dizzy. And, for that matter, arguably Zander.
  • Digital Head Swap: Done in-universe in Marauder to create the illusion that Sky Marshal Omar Anoke is still around.
  • Distress Call:
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Played with. The exciting battle scenes seem to undermine Verhoeven's supposed message, but most of the soldiers still die agonizingly horrible deaths. But the trope itself is also a large part of the message, the unsavory elements of the war and its reasons are referenced by people trying to downplay or or distract from those elements. It combines War Is Glorious with Humans Are Bastards.
    • It also doesn't help that the Federation is portrayed, for the most part, in an extremely positive light, and the Bugs are portrayed in an extremely evil light. It should be noted that this is intentional, to demonstrate the propaganda that has infiltrated every aspect of society.
  • Doomed Hometown: Buenos Aires.
  • Double Entendre: Zander drops several of these, as he is trying desperately to sleep with Ibanez.

 Zander: I heard about a girl in the academy: good with math, a little wild on the stick...

Zander: Three weeks on a starship and you think you can lick my Navs?

  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Career Sergeant Zim, to the point of exaggeration. He casually breaks recruits' arms and throws knifes into their hands as part of their training.
    • Medic!
  • Drives Like Crazy: Ibanez flies this way.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In Marauder, a squad of Marines are introduced, their leader gets a few Badass moments by way of an introduction, and then The entire squad dies off-screen as soon as their dropship launches because it wasn't properly sealed to keep the atmosphere in. We don't even learn of their fates until the final act.
  • Drop Ship: Appear to basically be shuttles carrying shipping containers for the troops to ride in. A smaller version is used to recover Rico's Roughnecks from the outpost in the first movie.
  • Dwindling Party: In Marauder. Specifically, all the interesting characters get killed off as they make they way to the Marines' dropship.
    • In ST 2, there are a number of soldiers waiting for extraction from the outpost. Pretty much all of them are infected and subsequently killed.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: They finally develop them in the third movie. Which they then cover up with Jolene Blalock kissing Boris Kodjoe.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Behemecoatyl from the third film.
  • Face Heel Turn: In the third movie, Sky Marshal Anoke.
  • Famed in Story: Dax, at the end of Hero Of The Federation. Played for irony, as the Federation trumpets him as the champion of the very ideals he was shown to be very cynical towards in life.
  • Fetish Fuel Future: Co-ed showers!
  • Field Promotion: Taken to extreme levels with Rico once they end up in the Roughnecks. After taking out a tanker in an extremely reckless move, he was elevated to corporal. After the Lieutenant Rasczak dies? You're now acting Lieutenant. And when they go back to HQ, instead of assigning another one they just make the promotion permanent. Not that he did nothing that ever warranted those promotions.
  • Fire-Forged Friends Rico and Ace, with Ace initially starting out as The Rival, but he is eventually humbled and becomes Rico's friend.
  • Follow the Leader: The original script "Bug Hunt" was an Aliens ripoff, and much of Aliens was inspired by the Starship Troopers novel.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Subverted in Marauder. Turns out that using the zombified remains of the dwindled members of the Dwindling Party as your mouthpiece only really serves to make everybody a lot less comfortable. Even The Mole is visibly thrown a bit by this.
  • Gender Flip: Dizzy Flores, mostly to add a Love Triangle and a Squadette.
  • Gender Is No Object: Men and women serve together in all parts of the Federation military (and even shower together). In the book the Mobile Infantry is strictly male, and women do serve, but they are almost universally in the Space Navy since they make better pilots.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Federation
  • Good Looking Privates: In all the movies, but especially Starship Troopers 3: Marauder where we have tall, black and uniformed Boris Kodjoe as General Dix Hauser, Lt Manion who has an (apparently genuine) hot French accent, cute Bridge Bunny types Lamb and Holly, and last but not least Jolene Blalock as Captain Lola Beck. She's seen striding through her spaceship in pseudo-fascist uniform and calf boots while men watch with their tongues hanging out. To the disappointment of countless Trekkies, however, we never see her in a co-ed shower. There is however a gratuitous nude scanning with Casper Van Dien and his Marauder team.
  • Half The Woman She Used To Be: Carmen's commander, thanks to a descending bulkhead door.
  • Hand Signals: Lieutenant Rascak uses them while approaching the outpost on Planet P.
  • Hive Caste System
  • Hollywood Tactics: The tactics and military conduct in this movie are so bad that it makes you think they're deliberately trying to lose[1], and would probably need an entire essay dedicated to it to do it justice. However, the film is a subversion; unlike most films all of their incredibly bad ideas don't actually work, and by and large the human troops are completely slaughtered. The writers’ intent seems to have been to use the enormous casualty rate resulting from them as a way to emphasize that War Is Hell, but the human characters just come across as idiots who don’t know how to conduct warfare instead (especially circumspect because the entire culture is built around militarism). Notably, the Bugs actually do use decent tactics and combined arms given their limitations. They routinely stage ambushes and the basic drones soak up a lot of casualties, but they were literally born to be cannon fodder.
    • Let's count:
      • Ships parked shoulder-to-shoulder in orbit? Check.
      • Underestimating an enemy that can throw asteroids at you from across the galaxy? Check.
      • Fighting a ground war against a planet-bound enemy instead of just nuking them from orbit? Check.
      • No artillery, armor, air, or orbital support for your massive ground assault, even when clearly shown having carpet bombing capabilities? Check.
      • After landing, announcing their presence to all of Klendathu by exiting the landing craft screaming while the craft shoot off flares? Check.
      • Attempting the Zerg Rush when the other side IS the Zerg? Check.
      • Using horrendously ineffective assault rifles (though to be fair, they have a slung-under shotgun) against an enemy that can survive an entire clip being unloaded into it? Check.
      • The only "tactic" on display is the Circular Firing Squad... one for each bug? Check.
      • No actual tactics whatsoever? Checkmate.
    • Bear in mind the above is from the Battle of Klendathu. Afterward, the Federation gets a little more clever, but their main planetary force still seems to consist of nothing but plain old infantry, with no mechanized support whatsoever, and airborne support showing up for all of one scene and then promptly forgotten about. Word of God tries to Hand Wave this by stating that the Klendathu terrain was horrible for tanks and the like, but that doesn't explain why they don't use their airborne capabilities more often, for either transport or attack.
    • Morale and training among the soldiers appears to be incredibly poor as well, as the first attack disintegrates into a confused rout literally moments after the first engagement and a few casualties. The Terran military also has a strangely bipolar way of maintaining discipline and unit cohesion. Serious offenses quickly result in corporeal punishment and refusing to fight is threatened with summary execution by shooting, but not only do they organize random parties after a minor engagement, they also do it right in the middle of enemy territory. They're also a-okay with fraternization among the troops, even though actively encouraging romantic attachments between them could seriously undermine their units' combat effectiveness.
    • When the people on the ship notice the giant asteroid heading toward Earth, rather than firing their rockets immediately to get out of the way, they wait until the last possible second to dodge out of the way of the giant, seemingly unguided asteroid, which clips off a large part of the ship. Despite this, the captain of the ship compliments the pilot as the best damn pilot in the fleet, instead of telling her she's an incompetent screwup and a showoff that got a bunch of people needlessly killed. She's also never court-martialed, demoted, or even reprimanded for nearly killing hundreds of people and causing millions in damage by recklessly flying out an interstellar spaceship from spacedock in her first ever piloting duty, an action she even has the nerve to laugh off right afterwards.
    • Briefly averted in the third film, where Colonel Rico rallies his troops and they make the best of their weapons and terrain (using grenade launchers to force the bugs back while the troopers advanced, with troopers walking along the tops of the trenches to give them covering fire). Indeed, his defense of Roku San proved to be quite effective, until the perimeter defenses were shut down by The Mole. Later, the military's introduction of mech units proves to be a vast improvement as well.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Although the later movies seem to indicate that the bugs are pretty big bastards too. Indeed, it's never made clear just who started the fighting. The Federation already has space stations inside Arachnid territory, before Buenos Aires gets taken out.
    • This may go so far as being Anvilicious or a Take That since the obligatory colony that gets annihilated by the bugs is a Mormon colony named Port Joe Smith which was apparently set up in bug territory against Colonial authority.
  • Humongous Mecha: In the third movie. FINALLY! And while they used Hollywood Tactics when using them, they did much, much better than how the grunts did normally in the films.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: The horridly unsafe live-fire exercise where, sure enough, someone gets accidentally shot in the face. Didn't See That Coming.
    • Its worse than that. The beams the pop-up targets fire can and do, cause involuntary muscle spasms in humans. Which of course, is how Breckenridge is killed. Why no one ever noticed that before or thought it might be tad unsafe during live-fire practice is anyones guess. But as bad as all this is, if you look in the background you can CLEARLY see other people marching and walking about, to the sides and probably in BACK of the range. Wow...
    • Earlier in the film, during one of the propaganda commercials, three soldiers pass off their guns to children, even teaching them how to aim them. The kids actually fight over the guns! In case you had any faith that these soldiers aren't complete imbeciles, they then proceed to pass out bullets.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: Flip-6-3-hole!
  • In Name Only
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Actually depends on the scene.
    • In one of the news inserts it's mentioned that Bugs can be incapacitated quickly and easily with only a few shots to a specific nerve cluster. This place is so hard to hit that even when a Bug is restrained the demonstrator only barely pulls it off.
  • Improbable Parking Skills: It's implied that Carmen Ibanez had to have them to land her shuttle in the middle of a besieged Mobile Infantry outpost during a fierce battle. Of course, she had already been established as the Ace Pilot.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Rico's father is adamant that he attend Harvard rather than join the infantry. Since Rico is outright shown to be a dim bulb, it seems the trope name has come true. More-than-possibly justified, however, in that Johnny's family is rich (as in the novel), and historically children of wealthy families can more easily gain admission to prestigious universities than the children of poorer families.
  • Iwo Jima Pose: Used in the opening for the second movie.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Partially averted. Many human weapons are shown to be only marginally effective against the bugs (an entire assault rifle clip might bring down a common soldier bug), whereas the plasma bugs are able to seriously damage the human fleet.
  • Large Ham: Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown needed to look down to see where "over the top" stood. Arguably the best parts of the film. Later Casper Van Dien tries to replicate their Large Ham performance as a hard-ass officer, only to come off as a small slice of baloney.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: One guy during the invasion of Klendathu tries to be this. He's quickly swarmed by bugs and torn to pieces and it all goes downhill from there.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: And then some.
  • Meaningful Echo: Many of Rasczak's lines to his men.
  • Mercy Kill: Lt. Rasczak snipes one of his own men who has been carried to a distant ridge by a flying bug and tells his troops, "I'd expect any of you to do the same for me." And of course, Rico has to do so later.
  • Mini-Mecha: Serves as the Title Drop and Big Damn Heroes moment in the 3rd sequel, "Marauders", where Johnny Rico and his team of troopers bomb the "God Bug" Behemecoatyl and kill hundreds of arachnids to love interest Lola and assistant Holly from being devoured and assimilated.
  • Moral Dissonance: Invoked. "It's afraid!" *cheers*
  • New Meat: Used quite a bit. A common phrase used to refer to new recruits is "fresh meat for the grinder". Quite funny, in a horrible sort of way. In the sequel a soldier says "Grow up big and strong, we need fresh meat for the grinder" to a newly-born child in the arms of its mother. Upon receiving new arrivals at the end of the first one (earily reminiscent of World War II footage of the Nazis throwing in Child Soldiers by the end of the war), Rico asks "Who are all these kids?", the reply being "we just got 'reinforced'". Upon this he quips that they (20-year old soldiers) are the "old men" now before proceeding to give them the exact same speech the unit commander he replaced did when he, Ace, and Dizzy joined the unit.
  • No New Fashions in the Future
  • Nuke'Em: the MI seem to have only two weapons-- assault rifles, and tactical mini-nuke grenades.
    • This troper imagines the fine print on these grenades somewhere along the lines of
      • "Tactical Nuclear Grenade. Throw very, very, VERY far away..."
  • Oh Crap: Done a lot throughout the film. Several happen in rapid succession during the invasion of Klendathu, starting with the MI's reactions to a Leeroy Jenkins getting ripped apart, then another from a girl that falls into a bug hole does one right before she gets dragged into one, then from the rest of the MI when they see the bugs swarming out towards them, then another from the Roughnecks on Planet P when they see the giant army of bugs coming at them, and finally Carmen when she sees that she and Zander are surrounded by bugs. Her reaction is probably the most telling.

 Carmen:(after giving her location to Rico) The situation up to see that they're surrounded by bugs) The situation is extremely hostile!

    • Probably the best one was early in the Klendathu raid, when a Fleet ship damaged by the bug plasma (which was, contrary to expectations, neither random nor light) plows into another ship in orbit, directly in the Roger Young's path.

 Captain Deladrier: Someone made a big goddamn mistake!

  • Only a Flesh Wound: Carmen gets impaled through the shoulder by a bug talon the diameter of a soda can, picked up and thrown around by it, and yet minutes later is firing a high caliber machinegun, outruns a nuke, and then throws her arms around her friends and skips away smiling. What brave new world is this, that has such painkillers in it?
  • Newsreel: "Would you like to know more?"
  • Organic Technology: The movie Bugs come in varying breeds for battle, instead of being tool-using like the novel.
  • Orifice Invasion: In the second movie.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The United Citizen Federation, where civil rights are plenty (unless you want to have kids) but political freedoms are virtually nonexistent, executions are televised, and the media is a fully interactive Propaganda Machine.
  • Physical Fitness Punishment: In the first movie, one of several methods of punishment used by the instructors in boot camp. One trooper is sent running around a distance armory (with a Corporal swatting him with a cane to keep pace) as punishment for failing to address his instructor as "Sir".
    • Played With in the second film. A group of troopers are couped up in an abandoned outpost waiting for rescue, and a comely female trooper[2] makes a pass at Captain Dax, claiming that she needs to burn off "excess energy". So he decides to help her out by having her do a hundred pushups as he walks off.
  • Pin Pulling Teeth: In the first movie, Dizzy pulls out a grenade's pin with her teeth. Which seems entirely unnecessary, as pushing the big red button on top of the grenade is also shown to remove the pin.
  • Planetville
  • Plot Armor: Any character that needs to survive a bug attacking them for the purposes of plot get stabbed in the shoulder or leg. Anyone else gets it right through the chest multiple times.
  • Powered Armor: Did not appear until the third movie.
  • Prop Recycling: Power Rangers, Firefly — the armor from this movie has shown up everywhere.
    • Funny story, after getting passed around Hollywood for years several of the suits were eventually sold for use in the third movie, making this a weird circular trope.
    • The USM Auriga appears to have been made from a modified model of the Rodger Young, or one of its sister ships.
  • Psychic Powers:
    • Carl uses these on his pet ferret ("Go bug Mom!"), the brain bug at the end ("It's afraid!"), and to guide Rico to Carmen.
    • In the second movie, Lieutenant Dill has psychic abilities as well. sort of. At the very least, he can "sense" oncoming swarms of bugs. Sahara, too. When she tells the lieutenant that she's pregnant, he informs her that pregnancy has been known to enhance psychic abilities.
    • In the third movie, Sky Marshal Anoke is a psychic. This turns out to be a case of being Blessed with Suck, as it's his telepathic sensitivity that allows the Brain Bug to turn him to their side.
  • Puny Earthlings:
    • The Bugs can take a full magazine of ammo (or more as drama demands) and still fight. In general it took three people all their ammo to kill one bug, which would kill at least two of them in the process. The only person who had an effective weapon only used it after the bugs had torn him in half. This is (almost) consistent with the book, as warrior bugs have no sense of self preservation and may not even feel pain: if your torrent of bullets fails to hit a vital organ but only chops away at limbs, the bug will keep coming so long as it has a limb left. But in the book, they realized this and aimed for the brain case on the back to disable them quickly. Not so in the movie... even though the psychic specifically recommended it to the troops!
    • Subverted in the ending fight of the first movie. After they rescue Carmen, the protagonists are attacked by an army of bugs. The protagonists respond by letting loose with a torrent of bullets that causes a mountain of bug corpses to form in about three seconds flat.
    • Played straight in the second film: when the Puppeteer Parasites take over a new host, they become much harder to kill.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The plot of the second film.
  • Putting on the Reich: Taken to extremes. It is impossible to look at a dress or officer's uniform and not think "How very German." Given the film's send up of militarism and the fact that Verhoeven grew up in the Netherlands during World War II, it's not exacting surprising. But note how they are never portrayed as anything but good, even while saying and doing horrible things — thus reinforcing the film's take on propaganda.
    • Carl's uniform is the worst offender: the cap and black longcoat haven't been seen on an officer since 1945.
  • Race Lift: Rico was Filipino in the book; now he's sparkling white. Similarly, Dizzy and Carmen have Hispanic-sounding last names like Flores and Ibanez, but neither actress is Hispanic. Coupled with the Dawson Casting, this is very disconcerting, and was thus probably done on purpose.
  • Red Shirt Reporter: The film opens with a reporter in the middle of a battle, a few seconds before he becomes Half the Man He Used To Be.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: "Hey, Rico! Congratulations--you're dead!" Said to Rico while he's in a stasis tank, getting his various battle wounds repaired.
  • Rule of Drama: A starship's emergency thruster control (presumably some sort of overclocking feature... we hope) is placed under a glass cover that must be smashed before use. (Not to mention waiting until the last second instead of firing it immediately, but that's a failure of another kind.)
  • Running Gag: A subtle one. Rico surges through the ranks, but this isn't because he's especially good, it's because the people above him keep dying. "Come on, do you wanna live forever?"
  • Scars Are Forever: With some exceptions, most adults in the movie have lost one or more limbs, become blind due to burn wounds, or gained some other type of permanent scarring due to their military service.
  • Scary Dogmatic Humans: Humanity is fascist in the first two movies, and by the end of the third movie, on the fast track to becoming a race of religious fanatics.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Somehow, the Bugs shoot asteroids across the galaxy using just their ground-based plasma-launching bugs, and in a short enough time-frame to target a specific human city. On the other hand, this is a jumping-off point for a theory that the asteroid wasn't from the bugs at all, that it was a random force of nature that high command blamed on them as a convenient excuse to declare war (which Word of God all but confirms).
  • She's a Man In Japan: Dizzy is male — and a minor, short-lived character — in the novel.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: The MI's weapons are so ridiculously overpowered that the recoil makes them practically impossible to aim.
  • Show Within a Show: All three films. The first and third even have commercial breaks.
  • Single Biome Planet: Apparently, they all look like Southern California deserts.
    • Rather, they all look like Wyoming's Hell's Half Acre or the Badlands of South Dakota.
  • The Spartan Way: Mobile Infantry training, where the Drill Sergeant Nasty breaks a recruit's arm and stabs another one through the hand just to make a point.
    • Although their medics have really good technology and both the broken arm and the nerve-damage-inducing knife wound are apparently fixed in a day or two.
  • Spiteful Spit: Zander (Carmen's boyfriend) to the Brain Bug just before it sucks out his brain.
  • Stealth Parody: Minus the "stealth". Though to the film's credit, it doesn't start trowelling on the parody until the actual war breaks out (except for the propaganda videos). Up until then it could be mistaken for an actual vapid teen drama.
  • Strawman Political: Again.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: When the girl and one of the good guys find themselves surrounded by aliens and with the big brain-eating alien readying to do just that. The good guy has a knife hidden, but he doesn't use it himself. No, he gives it to the girl and promptly gets his brain eaten. The girl then uses it to wound the brain-eating alien and escape. No clear reason is given why the guy didn't use the knife himself, other than that the public is supposed to hate him and enjoy his removal from the scene.
  • A Telepath Did It: apparently an in-canon explanation for how Rico rescued his conveniently-recently-lost-her-boyfriend ex-girlfriend.
  • That's an Order: Rasczak says this after telling his troops to have fun during their party celebrating their vcitory.
  • Token Romance: in this case, a whole-cloth token Romantic Plot Tumor/Love Triangle gets tacked on.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dizzy's death could've easily been avoided if she hadn't stopped to do a celebratory dance in the middle of an evacuation from a Zerg Rush. Or, failing that, if she had run to the Drop Ship instead of happily skipping to it like a schoolgirl. Or even failing that, if she'd kept moving when Rico yelled out her name instead of stopping, turning around, and staring at the bug. Or if Rico, like an idiot, hadn't torn the jagged bug arm from her abdomen, or maybe just yelled something helpful like "Dizzy, drop so I can shoot the bug behind you" instead of "Diiiiiiiiizzzzyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy".
    • Humanity in general has elements of this: The bugs attack earth by knocking an asteroid from the asteroid belt with bug plasma into the earth in the first movie. The bugs did this all the way from Klandathu, lightyears away. Something like that would take genius surpassing anything humanity is capable of without a couple trillion dollars worth of supercomputers backing them up. And the Bugs (or at least their leaders) can do those kind of calculations in their heads. The humans assume that the bugs are unintelligent, and that their plasma attacks when they try to land will be "random and light". They're neither. Even after the horrible slaughter at Klandathu, there are more than a few humans who insist that the bugs can't be intelligent. In the words of one person "I find the idea of an intelligent bug offensive!" One wonders, do the bugs find the idea of intelligent monkeys offensive as well?
      • The aforementioned expert asks, rhetorically, if "have you ever met one" when the idea of an intelligent bug is brought up. Well, let's see, here on Earth, there's the assassin bug, that uses camouflage and stealthy tactics to infiltrate ant hills in order to kill and eat it's inhabitants, or the portia spider, a spider that hunts other spiders, and displays more intelligence than any other arachnid in catching it's prey. Experiments have shown that any insect, even cockroaches, can learn, given time. There's plenty of bugs that demonstrate more intelligence than most humans would give them credit for. Or many of the humans in the command structure in this movie. The aforementioned astroid drop? The bugs use a similar method to colonize other planets, seeding astroids with their young then launching them to other planets to colonize. There's a high school teacher near the opening that is more knowledgeable about the bugs abilities and gives the bugs more respect as to what they are capable of than any other character in the series. Maybe she should have been put in charge of combat strategy...
    • A very good example of this trope is towards the start, when a news correspondent (embedded with the MI) stops to give an on-camera summary of the action during the attack on Klandathu, only to be slaughtered by a Bug partway through. We later find out that this summary is being given in the middle of a mass retreat.
      • Later on, after seeing what happens to the reporter, his cameraman dies in the exact same way.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Dizzy.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Dizzy and Rake.
  • Video Phone: Johnny Rico is talking to his parents in Buenos Aires via Video Phone when the Bug asteroid hits the city.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: In the 3rd sequel, Omar Anoke, Sky Marshall of the Federation Forces and propaganda pop star, who secretly defects to the "God Bug" Behemocoatl's side and orchestrated the massacre on Roku San by shutting down the electric fences thereby letting the bugs massacre the troops.
  • War Is Glorious:
    • Parodied - or at least they tried to, anyway. Sweaty bulging muscles, A faceless implacable enemy guilty of genocidal war crimes, big guns and comradeship. And if you don't fight you are a nonperson.
    • The troopers are also alarmingly blase about the horrible deaths happening around them sometimes. When the panicked general during the trap is crushed by a bug, Ace has this big grin on his face like "Hey, that was really cool!" And even during a panicked evacuation, killing one big bug is enough to get at least a couple of them cheering like they're at a football game, even while they're supposed to be running for their lives.
  • We Have Reserves: Both the Bugs and the humans apparently follow this philosophy.
  • We Will Wear Armor in the Future: Rather noticeably by fans, not Powered Armour. Here the armour is more like modern GI flak armour in terms of bulk and coverage.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Many times. The scene at the end of the second film is notable.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Inverted. A character prays, in conjunction with obviously non-supernatural stuff happening around them. "Lord, send us an army of angels. And arm them with your fire, and your sword, that they may smite the evil around us."
    • Bonus points for the fact that the suits' retro-rockets as they're air-dropping to the field are seen in the background behind her, distinctly forming a halo around her head as she prays.
  • Writer on Board: Again, in the opposite direction.
  • When She Smiles: Say what you will about the third film in general, and about Holly in general, but the scene when the Drop Ship's lights come back on, and her face in turn lights up with a huge smile? Gorgeous.
  • You Fail Physics Forever: When hit with missiles, orbiting space ships do not fall perpendicular to the planet and they especially do not fall down RELATIVE TO THE CAMERA.
    • The asteroid Carmen almost misses, unless it was dense as hell, should in no way have enough mass to create such a significant gravitational field, especially enough to counter the ship's own artificial gravity field.
  • Your Head Asplode: The result of the Brain Bug's psychic attack in Marauder. The only defense against it appears to be Plot Armor.
  • You Would Do the Same For Me
  • Zerg Rush: By both sides, but as humanity learns the hard way, the quick-breeding, highly expendable warrior bugs are much better at it.

Would you like to know more?

  1. some theorize that this is indeed the case
  2. who is possessed by a Puppeteer Parasite that she is trying to spread