Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda
The universe is a dangerous place. But in our future, my crew and I fight to make it safe. I am Dylan Hunt, captain of the Andromeda Ascendant, and these are our adventures.
There are some people who view the sci-fi show Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda as, essentially, an unbranded Star Trek spin-off. At times, it seemed like this was indeed the case, but in the final analysis, Andromeda had a heavy spiritual bent radically unlike anything you'd ever see in Trek (except later seasons of Star Trek Deep Space Nine). The show lasted from October, 2000 to May, 2005.
The story opens aboard the titular starship, the "Andromeda Ascendant", a warship of the line in the Systems Commonwealth, which is the same thing as Star Trek's Federation, except that it was founded by a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens called the Vedrans, and spans the local group of galaxies.
Things do not go well for the Systems Commonwealth. Though their technology was vast and their captains were noble and compassionate, they ran into a bunch of problems all at once. Most importantly, a race of man-eating apelike creatures called the Magog were invading in ridiculous numbers. They could, perhaps, have dealt with this, but at the same time, one of their member races, the misnamed Nietzscheans (enhanced humans obsessed with eugenics and claiming to follow the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche), angry that the Commonwealth made peace with the Magog, turned on the Commonwealth.
All this happens while the Andromeda Ascendant is dangerously close to a black hole. Captain Dylan Hunt just has time to evacuate his crew before his Nietzschean first officer, Gaheris Rhade, turns on him and tries to kill him. Hunt manages the unlikely feat of besting Rhade, and seconds later, the Andromeda crosses the black hole's event horizon, freezing ship and captain in time.
Three hundred years later, the Commonwealth is a distant memory, a dark age has fallen over the known worlds, and things are generally not going well for just about anyone. The Eureka Maru, a salvage ship crewed by a rag-tag team of minor-league criminals, happens upon the Andromeda Ascendant and tows it to safety, thinking this will be the score of a lifetime.
Mostly through his own strength of character, the revived Captain Hunt convinces the crew of the Maru to join him and try to re-establish the Systems Commonwealth (or, at least, be of marginal assistance to his quest as they mooch off the Andromeda's resources).
The show has its origins in a combination of two separate Roddenberry story ideas from the 1970s, one about a sentient starship and a second about a man from the past trying to piece the remnants of civilization back together after it has crumbled. The former never made it to the air prior to Andromeda, but Roddenberry (who died in 1991) used the latter concept in no fewer than three separate unsuccessful pilots -- two of which actually included a main character named "Dylan Hunt" -- before giving up on it. Undoubtedly these ideas were
scrounged from the trash can further developed by the Andromeda creative team.
- Captain Hunt -- The Hero, a human from the now-lost Commonwealth capitol on Tarn Vedra (He eventually turns out to be not-quite-human after all: he's a Human-Vedran hybrid, or rather Human-Paradine: Vedrans who have become something more), and his human half comes from a genetically-enhanced Heavyworlder)
- Beka Valentine -- The Lancer, hotshot pilot, recovering drug addict, and captain of the Eureka Maru. Secretly the genetic matriarch of the entire Nietzschean race via Time Travel.
- Tyr Anasazi -- The Big Guy, Proud Warrior Race Guy, and Token Evil Teammate, last survivor of a vanquished Nietzschean clan (and at times, straddles the line between a Nietzsche Wannabe and an Ubermensch)
- Trance Gemini -- The Chick, cute and naive Waif Prophet and medical officer, who later gets Darker and Edgier via Time Travel
- Seamus Zelazny Harper -- The Smart Guy, The Lab Rat, Mr. Fixit, a bit of a Casanova Wannabe, and more often a Fatal Attractor, the only member of the crew actually from the ghetto planet Earth, technician and hyper-active genius engineer who (re-)builds Rommie's body.
With three additional regular characters:
- Rommie -- The ship's female-shaped android avatar ("Andromeda" refers specifically to the ship's holographic AI, and also to the three individual entities of the ship (Andromeda Ascendant), the AI (Andromeda), and the android (Rommie))
- Rev Bem -- aka. Behemial Fartraveller aka. Red Plague. A reformed Magog, scientist, sociologist and pacifist priest
- Late in the show when Rommie is believed destroyed Harper builds a new Robot Girl named Doyle as a Replacement Goldfish, who has identity issues and who thinks she is the rightful avatar of the Andromeda Ascendant. Hilarity Ensues (not).
After the first season (and a half), Rev Bem leaves the ship (around the same time as the series developer was "released"). This is when things start to get a little zany. After the third season, Tyr Anasazi is replaced by Telemachus Rhade, the Identical Grandson of Hunt's original first officer. This is when things get
a little more zany.
In the universe of Andromeda, every celestial body has an "avatar", a humanoid counterpart of vast power. Such beings crop up from time, including the moon of Tarn Vedra, the black hole (who turns out to be the universe's greatest clingy ex-girlfriend), and, most importantly, Trance, who, it is eventually revealed, despite her youthful appearance and character, is the wayward sun of Tarn Vedra, the oldest star in the universe. Halfway through the second season, Trance is replaced by an older and moodier version of herself (not a Sister Becky; it's the same actress in different makeup).
Subverting the Failure Is the Only Option trope, Dylan and his crew actually do restore the Systems Commonwealth, though internal politics promptly gets Dylan and his crew kicked out of it.
For most of the series, an approaching Magog worldship serves as an impending Dragon, guided by The Man Behind the Man, a shadow-cloaked avatar for "The Abyss", a powerful chaotic force. When this comes to a head in the fourth season finale, Dylan is forced to escape through a Negative Space Wedgie to the timeless, isolated Seefra system, really the massively transformed Tarn Vedra system.
Andromeda was inordinately fond of the Negative Space Wedgie, depicting a universe rife with temporal anomalies -- in fact, the Andromeda Ascendant itself incorporated dimensional anomalies into its very construction. For a starship crew the cast also spent a great deal of time underground, presumably because somebody in the first season invested money in a tunnel set that had to be re-used over and over again.
Technically set approximately 3 millennia into the future (Figure from ep. Harper^2), though effectively A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away: Earth exists, but is hardly ever mentioned, except to say that it's not a very nice place to hang out these days.
Sometimes described as "Herc meets Kirk", because Kevin Sorbo, best known for his role as Hercules in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, is playing the role of a kind, wise and mysteriously super-strong character in the role that Captain Kirk filled in the original series of Star Trek, which this show so closely resembles.
- Actor Allusion: After his first run-in with Dylan, Harper refers to him as "like a Greek god."
- Exclusively Evil: Assumed of the Nietzscheans and the Magog by most people in-universe, but subverted in both cases.
- Apocalypse How: Many different ways, starting with High Guard ships of the line, such as the Andromeda, that are said to be capable of de-civilizing an Earth-like planet in six minutes with their conventional weapons, and moving on to the planet crackers that are talked about and occasionally seen or the target-dependent Nova Bombs that the Andromeda carried 40 of as part of her class's standard load out (they destroy planets and stars by nullifying the gravitational pull of the target). Then there are the Magog whose designed goal of ridding the universe of pain and suffering by horribly killing everything that can feel pain and suffering lends them from disasters from "mere" genocide to the destruction of entire solar systems. And the mount point singularity projectors, which fire miniature black holes at their opponents that can tear through ships and planets like they weren't there, and whose sole defense is to open a slip point in the way (which if done too close to a planet can cause major geological instabilities).
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Hawkins reads off Harper's rap sheet:
Hawkins: Seamus Harper...Grand Theft Spacecraft, and Interstellar Flight to Avoid Prosecution, and Public Lewdness.
- A-Team Firing
- Justified and lampshaded in an episode where it is revealed that most small arms ammunition are smart bullets whose guidance system is jammed by man portable jammers, causing them to miss.
- The Atoner: Rev Bem, although he personally hadn't done anything to feel sorry about except eating through his human mother, which he couldn't help but do at that age.
- Badass Army: Nietzscheans think they are but they're really not.
- The Battlestar: Most High Guard ships, including the Andromeda Ascendant.
- Bitter Almonds: The cyanide gas trap in In Heaven Now Are Three.
- Boarding Party: The Magog use Swarm Ships to punch holes in the attacked ship and swarm in.
- Boomerang Bigot: There was a radical group bent on destroying space travel in order to preserve planetary ecologies. It was founded by a warship's AI.
- Brain-Computer Interface: Harper has a jack on his neck.
- Cargo Cult: The child descendants of High Guard personnel from To Loose the Fateful Lightning.
- Chest Burster: The Magog reproduction method.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Congenital in the Nietzscheans. Tyr has a particularly bad case which Dylan takes advantage of several times
- Coming in Hot: The Eureka Maru, or other visiting ships, occasionally crash-land in the Andromeda's launch bay.
- Cool Starship
- Crew of One: The Andromeda Ascendant originally had a crew of over 4000, apparently she can make do with six or fewer.
- Cyborg Helmsman
- Deadly Gas: The cyanide gas trap in In Heaven Now Are Three.
- Derelict Graveyard
- Dueling Hackers: In the pilot Harper tries to hack Andromeda. As she is an intelligent machine she can count as a white-hatter in her own right. But she has so much juice in her circuits that it is a mismatch even with someone as good as Harper.
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower: Hunt, from his half-Paradine heritage.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Tarn Vedra as Seefra-1, then literally with the destruction of Earth.
- Evil Is Visceral: Aspects of the Magog that are not already covered by the subtropes: they spit on people, and have exposed noses.
- Executive Meddling: Robert Wolfe was the original head writer of the series, based on Gene Roddenberry's notes. He resigned after season two because of differences with the executive. He has since, however, written a one-act play, Coda, which is a compressed form of his original plan for Andromeda.
- Actually, the way Robert Wolfe explains it, he was fired for not bowing to executive demands to make the show more episodic and Kevin Sorbo's demand that all episodes be based around him.
- Expy: Dylan Hunt is an expy of Dylan Hunt from Genesis II.
- Bartolome Naz in And Your Heart Will Fly Away is an expy of Dr. Strangelove.
- Face Full of Alien Wingwong: The Magog.
- Family Values Villain: Not exactly what most people would call family values. But Nietzcheans often adore their families and apparently their children. One of the few touching things about them. Though they believe their children are extensions of themselves so arguably it is kind of selfish.
- Fantastic Racism: Not just for/against aliens, either; the Knights of Genetic Purity hunt down all modified human-offshoots.
- As Dylan points out, only 12% or so of the humans in the entire known universe fall under their definition of "pure".
- Flanderization: Oh, so very much.
- Flat Character: After Season 2, all of them. Robert Hewitt Wolfe planned major Character Development for the Andromeda crew. After he was fired, Status Quo Is God took effect in regards to their emotional growth.
- Fridge Trance? Much less squicky once it's established that she's several billion years old star using an artificial humanoid body as a sockpuppet.
- Gaia's avengers: The Restorians, lead by the Balance of Judgment, a Knight Templar warship AI.
- Gainax Ending: The final episode of season 4.
- Gambit Roulette: The events of season 5 are essentially the last phases of a plan the Vedrans came up with centuries previously to use their own sun to destroy the Abyss.
- Generican Empire: The Systems Commonwealth.
- Give Me a Sword: Tyr and Seamus just before their Last Stand against the Magog.
- Good Bad Translation: A certain DVD release suffers from this. The entirety of Season 2 and some episodes of season 3 are the worst offenders by far. So what if the subtitles don't remember proper punctuation in season 1? And there are no capital letters, except the first in every line, even when not supposed to be there. The subtitles in season 2 are way worse than that, by being translated... from an Asian translation. And they're not even correct most of the time.
- One very horrible offender is in a scene, where Dylan says "Tyr, try not to destroy the warship." The subtitles say "Tyr. Get rid of the warship."
- Good Is Not Dumb: Trance Gemini.
- Guile Hero: Capt Hunt is several times told that "he thinks like a Nitzchean". As every Nizchean aspires to be a Magnificent Bastard that is considered a great compliment.
- Heroic Lineage: Every Nitzchean boasts of his ancestry and aspires to be someone else's heroic ancestor. Except they view themselves in brutally pseudo-biological terms, consciously trying to pass on their genes.
- Their idea of heroism is simply "proving oneself a Badass" with no other considerations other then what works for that purpose. Oddly that philosophy would be self-destructive in real life as it is necessary to cooperate to achieve anything including survival. If every Nitzchean really behaved as he was supposed to, they would be mopped up by inferiors as easily as Romans mopped up Celts.
- Oddly enough one could imagine a future ethnoreligious group something like the Nitzcheans. Tribal organization has proven itself as a useful format in the past, works among some peoples today and even advanced democracies sometimes feel the need to fall back on a pseudofamilial figure like a powerless monarch. People in societies like that do obsess with lineage in much the way Nitzcheans do and in the future might justify it just the way the Nitzcheans do and even use appropriate imagery such as the double-helix bracelet representing the joining of DNA in a wedding. Real Life versions of tribal societies though are seldom as amoral as them as that would be societal suicide.
- Humans Are Special: A Is are horrible at guessing, which makes humans and other organic life forms are far better at slipstream navigation. Also, ship A Is seem to make poor commanders, are more effective in combat when working with a crew.
- Averted partly when the AI Ryan is given command of... well, himself, aka the Wrath of Achilles.
- Hyperspace Lanes: Several star systems are strategically important because you need to travel through thyem on your way from one slipstream to another. Just the place to lay in ambush, or place a BFG In Space.
- In one episode, they're trying to get to Tarn Vedra (the lost capital planet of the old Commonwealth) by following a ridiculously complicated sequence of slipstram routes. Several of the steps are jumps between different galaxies!
- In defence of the pilots, the guy who planned the route was insane.
- In further defense of them, the Vedrans deliberately messed with the slipstream to make their system near-impossible to get to by any sane slipstream route, to hide from the Nietzscheans after the Commonwealth collapsed.
- It also seems to have been a critical aspect of their plan to destroy the Spirit of the Abyss.
- In one episode, they're trying to get to Tarn Vedra (the lost capital planet of the old Commonwealth) by following a ridiculously complicated sequence of slipstram routes. Several of the steps are jumps between different galaxies!
- I Want You to Meet An Old Friend of Mine: In "The Knight, Death, and the Devil", Michael Hurst (previously Iolaus) plays Ryan the AI.
- Identical Grandson: "Genetic reincarnation" is a proven phenomenon for Nietzscheans due to their low genetic diversity. Telemachus is played by the same actor as Gaheris and Tyr's son was apparently the reincarnation of the first Nietzschean (and therefore their Messiah).
- Beka Valentine once encountered a female Nietzschean who looked as close to exactly like her as a Nietzschean could look, which doesn't make sense until Season 5 reveals she's the genetic mother of the first Nietzschean.
- Informed Ability: Despite being lauded as a tactical genius, Drago-Kazov Fleet Marshall Cuchulian Nez Perce sure gets his ass handed to him by Dylan and company. Twice.
- Infinite Supplies: Even though the Andromeda repeatedly runs out of missiles in battle, she seems to always get new ones by the next episode. However they did once mention mining asteroids so Rommie's workshops could make new ones, so I guess it's justified.
- Insistent Terminology: The Commonwealth is not an empire, damn it! The fact it was led by the Vedran Empress and was an evolution of the Vedran Empire is irrelevant!
- Arguably true. The British Commonwealth is composed of large numbers of ex-Empire countries. In some the reigning British monarch remains Head of State but plays no part in day-to-day political matters, in others a President is Head of State. All-Systems University did state that the Empress remained Head of State to salve Vedran pride, not to actually govern.
- Instrumental Theme Tune
- Interfaith Smoothie: Wayism is a religion that seeks to blend all the good bits of the religions that came before it. Rev Bem is a cleric of Wayism, and the religion was founded by another redeemed Magog.
- Kaleidoscope Hair: Beka has nanomachines that can change her hair to any color she wants.
- Lady of War: Rommey. Being an avatar of a battleship counts doesn't it?
- Ahemm!!! She's a heavy cruiser thank you very much. Glorious Heritage-class.
- Large Ham: Tyr, and, to a lesser extent, Dylan and Harper.
- As for guest characters, there's Bartolome Naz.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Tyr Anasazi in an episode in Season One.
- Last-Name Basis: Harper.
- The Man Behind the Man
- Matrix Raining Code
- Mental Fusion
- Most Writers Are Human: While the Commonwealth consisted of many, many species, humans are apparently the most populous of them. The background information specifically notes humans as among the most prolific breeders and colonizers, as well as the source of most androids and genetically-engineered spin-offs like Nietchzeans.
- Humans seem to have been the most widespread because they were easy to engineer (or no-one cared enough to stop them) and pretty much anywhere that life could exist, there is an engineered form of humanity to plunder it. From high gravity worlds to under the sea, humanity is all up in nature's face eating her resources.
- Mr. Fanservice: Tyr Anasazi.
- Mundane Utility: Beka Valentine's use of nanomachines for instant hair dye.
- Subverted when it's revealed her father gave young Beka those nanomachines as a gift because he'd hidden an encoded message within them.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Nietzschens tend to give themselves names that are Badass Boast s, like ethnic groups with a warlike reputation(Sabra), military leaders(Guderian)or even War God s (Tyr).
- Negative Space Wedgie
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Tyr and the rest of the Nietzscheans.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Rev Bem.
- People in Rubber Suits: Than-Thre-Kull, Magog, Ogami.
- Phlebotinum Breakdown
- Planet of the Apes Ending
- Psycho Serum
- Rape as Drama: Harper gets a Face Full of Alien Wingwong from the Magog, getting the young'uns out without killing their host requires a Polarity Reversal.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Due to Brent Stait's makeup allergies, his character, Rev Bem, got a less prominent role, and was finally Put on a Bus. Lexa Doig's pregnancy was one of the reasons for Rommie's absence in early season 5.
- Recap Episode
- Especially during the fourth season. Christ.
- Recycled in Space: The basic premise is Genesis II and Planet Earth in space.
- Redemption Equals Death
- Revised Ending: sort of. The original series developer, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, wrote a non-canon (technical Fanfic) one-act-play of an outline, entitled Coda (warning, PDF) for how he envisioned the series to play out past the point of his departure.
- A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside An Enigma: Seamus calls Trance "an enigma wrapped in a riddle with a tail in the middle."
- Ridiculously-Human Robots
- Rommie is squicked to discover that Harper engineered her humanoid body with "certain parts" which, strictly speaking, aren't necessary for her normal operations, and asks to be assured that he used gloves while handling said parts.
- Doyle was designed to pass as human and programmed to believe she was human, when one of her hands is damaged in Decay of the Angel, she sees the white superconductor fluid as red blood.
- Carter of All Too Human managed to get a job in the security forces of the android-hating world of Machen Alpha.
- Rising Empire: The new Systems Commonwealth.
- Robot Buddy
- Robots Enslaving Robots: The Consensus of Parts. Also, the Balance of Judgment controlled his rebellious android avatar Gabriel, who he tried to take over with a virus when his ship-self was destroyed in battle.
- Rubber Forehead Aliens: Perseids, technically rubber chin.
- Sapient Ship: Andromeda and the other Commonwealth vessels, while not biological, are capable of emotion and treated by their captains and crews as living persons.
- Shout-Out: At least Once an Episode.
- In the very first episode, Harper compares Dylan Hunt to a Greek god.
- The Knights of Genetic Purity were lifted directly out of the classic role-playing game Gamma World.
- Also, Seamus Zelazny Harper.
- The crew of the Bellerophon had red, blue, and gold uniforms
- Johann Fletcher and Flux.
- An improbable number of episodes were named after lines from W. B. Yeats' poem "The Second Coming". Some examples: "The Widening Gyre"; "Pitiless as the Sun"; "Its Hour Come 'Round at Last".
- In general episode titles were influenced by literature, such as "The Pearls That Were His Eyes" (Shakespeare) and "Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way" (Hunter S. Thompson).
- Sound Effect Bleep
- Spaceship Girl: All of the larger Commonwealth warships have A Is and many of them have robotic avatars. Many cultures prefer female avatars for their ships (though avatars are not exclusively female).
- Spot the Imposter
- Stealth Pun: The Resident Magog Priest is the Reverend Bug Eyed Monster.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Vedrans.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Rhade for Tyr.
- Doyle for Rommie. And odd example in that Lexa Doig, the actress who played Rommie, remained with the show as Andromeda's AI.
- Temple of Doom: The temple in In Heaven Now Are Three.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: Justified. Compared to the original crew complement of 4500 people on board, as it stands, the current skeleton crew operating Andromeda is (usually) just 6.
- Theme Naming: Commonwealth ships often have names like Salient Debate or Continuation of Politics.
- Time Travel
- Time for Plan B
- Tomato in the Mirror: Doyle. She's fine once she gets over the initial shock.
- Too Dumb To Live: In "Immaculate Perception" Tyr says sending the DNA of Tamerlane Anasazi for comparision with Drago Museveni's could not be kept a secret. He says that he is leaving with his son and wife while the rest of the pride can perish from it's stupidity.
- Troubled but Cute
- Vehicle Title
- Waif Prophet
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: Nova bombs.
- What the Hell, Hero?: When the New Commonwealth kicked Captain Hunt out they listed several from over the course of the show. It was played like a biased kangaroo court, but most of them were genuine atrocities he had committed that the show had earlier glossed over.
- Dyan returning to Andromeda to mope that he had accidentally given children access to 80 Nova Bombs in To Loose a Fateful Lightning instead of ordering them to stand down and surrender control over the weapons to Andromeda. Keep in mind, at this point Dylan knows they revere him as "The High Guard" and would likely easily have done so. Instead, his inaction causes one heavily populated neighbouring system to be destroyed and only narrowly averts them doing similar kamikaze runs with the rest of the arsenal.
- Will They or Won't They?: Beka and Tyr -- never a relationship, though they did do each other. Twice.
- In an alternate timeline which may have been the original timeline, she did enter into a relationship with a Nietzchean... namely, Gaheris Rhade.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Dylan is a master of this.
- Tyr was able to play at almost the same level in the first season and a half, very nearly defeating Dylan a few times before switching sides at the last minute. This peaked in the episode The Prince where both reached heights they never had before and never would again by working together on such a project. After the original creator "left", Tyr suffered a horrible case of Badass Decay and quickly became a more straight-forward villain type.