"It's easy to spoof a bad movie. A good movie, now that's hard."
Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) -- the bold, bossy and beautiful heir to the throne of planet Druidia -- runs out on her wedding before she is officially married to the painfully dull Prince Valium (Jim J. Bullock), the only eligible bachelor prince in her region of space. Once she's in space, however, Vespa and her robot servant Dot Matrix (Joan Rivers) soon become the target of the Spaceballs, a group of evildoers -- led by Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) and President Skroob (Mel Brooks) -- who plan to ransom her off for access to Druidia's atmosphere (in order drain it away and use it to replenish their homeworld's own thinning atmosphere).
Vespa's only hope lies with two mercenaries-for-hire: Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and Barf the Mawg (John Candy), who hope to use the substantial reward offered by Vespa's father for her safe return to pay off debts owed to crime boss Pizza the Hutt (Dom DeLuise). With a little help from wise-cracking mystic Master Yogurt (also Mel Brooks), Lone Starr fights to save Planet Druidia, defeat the Spaceballs, and (maybe) get the girl, too.
An Animated Adaptation based on this film -- Spaceballs: The Animated Series -- was developed a couple of decades later; it languished in Development Hell for so long, only thirteen episodes were made. G4 eventually gained the rights, but due to said Development Hell, it ended up promoting the show before it was ready. The series didn't air until a year later, and by that point, production had been axed before the first episode ever aired.
- Abandon Ship: Played for Laughs. Everybody is shown running for the escape pods in the film's climax -- the orchestra, a variety of circus freaks, and even a bear -- but leaving behind Colonel Sandurz, President Skroob, and Dark Helmet. Many of these are part of the capper of a Brick Joke initiated when Colonel Sandurz orders the cancellation of a three-ring circus and the closing of the zoo aboard Spaceball One as part of the preparations for Ludicrous Speed.
- Acting for Two: Mel Brooks himself, playing both Yogurt and President Skroob.
- Actor Allusion: John Hurt plays a patron in "Gus's Galaxy Grill" who had the special.
- Adaptation Decay: The Animated Adaptation was a pretty self-evident money grab and received a rather poor reception from critics and fans.
- Adventurer Outfit
- Affectionate Parody: Star Wars, and sci-fi in general, of course.
- Alter Kocker: Yogurt and Skroob. What, you expect different from Mel Brooks?
- Amusing Alien: Is there an alien in this film who isn't?
- Arranged Marriage: Vespa and Valium.
- As You Know: Spoofed -- Dark Helmet addresses the audience to make sure they're up to speed after an Info Dump from Colonel Sandurz.
Dark Helmet: Everybody got that?
- At Arm's Length: Lone Starr and Dark Helmet, during the sword fight.
- Auto Cannibalism: Pizza the Hutt gets locked in his limo and eats himself to death, freeing the heroic duo from their debt.
- Banister Slide: The three main villains, in order to get to the Self-Destruct Mechanism's cancellation button.
- Beachcombing: "Are we being too literal?" "No, you fool, we're following orders. We were told to comb the desert, so we're combing it!"
- Bedouin Rescue Service: The heroes are found and rescued by Yogurt's odd alien disciples.
- Berserk Button. Don't. Shoot. Vespa's. Hair. Do, and you'll be gunned down with a fury that would make Rambo look like a pussy.
- Big Bad: President Skroob
- Big No: Princess Vespa, when she's threatened with being given her old ugly nose back.
- Big Red Button: That activates Spaceball One's Self-Destruct Mechanism; the one that turns it off turns out to be out of order: "Fuck! Even in the future nothing works!"
- Bilingual Bonus: Cyrillic letters appear in Eagle 5's targeting scope, including a combination that does make perfect sense -- "PYOS -- KOT" (Dog -- Cat).
- Blade Lock: Parodied as Lone Starr and Dark Helmet's Laser Blades get twisted around each other: "I hate it when my Schwartz gets twisted!"
- Blowing a Raspberry: Parodied. The Villain exclaims, "There is only one man, who would dare give me the Raspberry! Lone Starr!" after the hero has jammed the villain's spaceship's radar with... jam... Raspberry-flavored jam.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall
- At one point, the villains believe they've captured Lone Starr, Barf, Vespa, and Dot, only to learn they've mistakenly captured their stunt doubles.
- After Colonel Sandurz takes a brief turn as Mr. Exposition, Dark Helmet lampshades it by turning towards the camera to ask, "Everybody got that?"
- When on the desert planet, at one point there's a transition from Barf and Lone Starr to the sun beating down on the desert, with it shining through behind them in a dissolve effect. Halfway through, Barf comments, "Niiiice dissolve!"
- During the duel between Lone Star and Dark Helmet, one of the camera crew gets killed by a wayward strike.
- A camera collides with Dark Helmet during a zoom-in shot.
- Dark Helmet and Colonel Sandurz watch the movie on video to find out where the heroes are at that moment.
- As President Skroob comes running into the bridge of Spaceball One:
Skroob: (panting) The ship is too long. If I walk, the movie'll be over.
- Pretty much half of Yogurt's lines are breaking the fourth wall, with him hocking merchandise for the movie in the middle of the movie!
Yogurt: Here's where the real money from the movie is made!
- Even his last line spoken in person gets it:
Lone Starr: Will we ever meet again?
- Brick Joke: While preparing for Ludicrous Speed, Sandurz mentions cancelling the three-ring circus and closing the zoo. When it comes time to abandon ship, the crowd includes several circus freaks and a bear.
- Butter Face: Princess Vespa's stunt double. Because it's a guy.
- Butt Monkey: For an evil warrior feared the universe over, Lord Dark Helmet seems to have very unfortunate things happen to him on a near-hourly basis. Just for funsies, here are some examples -- he burns his mouth with coffee in his introductory scene, gets hit in the head with the door of Vespa's car, is sent flying into the front control panel of Spaceball-One when they decelerate from Ludicrous Speed, is found role-playing a liaison between himself and Vespa with dolls, and can't keep his helmet visor up to save his life. And that's before the climax of the movie.
- Camera Abuse: The camera hits Dark Helmet in the face during a close-up. Later, a cameraman gets slashed during the climactic battle sequence between Lone Starr and Dark Helmet.
Dark Helmet: Um, he did it!
- Camp Gay: The "You've captured their stunt doubles" Spaceball guy.
- Played by Stephen Tobolowsky.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Dark Helmet.
- Check, Please!
- Child Marriage Veto: King Roland never has to back off from his demand that his daughter shall marry a prince. Sure the horribly boring Prince Valium was the only prince left in the galaxy, but it turns out that the hero is actually also a prince. Problem solved.
- Close-Call Haircut: Which proves to be Princess Vespa's Berserk Button: "He shot my hair... Son of a bitch!" Also coincides with My Favorite Shirt.
- Colonel Bogey March: Dink dink! Dink dink, dink dink, dink, dink dink! Dink dink! Dink dink, dink dink, dink, dink!
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Lone Starr's Schwartz is red-orange, and Dark Helmet's is green, since the ship lasers in Star Wars were as well.
- Composite Character: Lonestar is a combination of Luke Skywalker (training in the resident magic source and rivalry with the lead villain) and Han Solo (criminal ties and relationship with furry alien), with the costume design of Indiana Jones. Yogurt is Yoda (name and appearance) and Obi-Wan (training style). Colonel Sandurz represents the various imperial officers that appeared through the movies.
- The Consigliere: Vinny, perhaps, to Pizza the Hutt.
- Conveniently-Close Planet: Lone Star's Winnebago comes out of Hyperspeed and promptly runs out of gas. Cue nearby desert planet to land on.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Spaceballs threaten to undo Princess Vespa's nose-job and return her nose to its original grotesque size unless the King hands over the access codes to Druidia's planetary defenses. It works.
- Creator Cameo: Co-writer Ronny Graham as the Minister.
- Darth Vader Clone: Dark Helmet
- Death by Gluttony: Pizza the Hutt becomes trapped in his limousine and eventually eats himself to death.
- Decoy Getaway / Ninja Prop: "You've captured their stunt doubles!"
- The Determinator: Spoofed.
Lone Starr: (exhausted and dehydrated) Must go on... must go on... must go on... who am I kidding? (collapses)
- Doesn't Like Guns: Vespa, until someone shoots her hair.
- The Don: Pizza the Hutt
- Double Entendre
- Lone Starr and Dark Helmet square off with their "Schwartz" lightsabers suggestively held at crotch height. Dark Helmet remarks "Hmm... I see your Schwartz is as big as mine. Now let's see how well you... handle it!" Made even better when they both glance down to check.
- Also, this line:
Sandurz: It's the Mega-Maid, sir. She's gone from "suck" to "blow"!
- "Oh, yes, sir. Snotty beamed me twice last night. It was wonderful."
- Dramatic Timpani: Provided by an actual timpanist, who reappears during the evacuation sequence.
- The Empire: The Spaceballs, though apparently technically a republic, being led by a President and not a monarch.
- Entitled Bastard: The princess start out this way. She gets over it pretty quickly, however... She kinda lost the attitude along with the matched luggage.
- Ermine Cape Effect: The king of Druidia is always wearing his crown and ermine robes.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Vespa
- Everything's Worse with Bears: One takes the last escape pod on Spaceball One, much to the President's dismay.
- Exclusively Evil: The Spaceballs. 'Cause what you got is what they need, and all they do is dirty deeds.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress
- Fake Static: Barf uses this ploy to make King Roland promise a million space bucks to rescue Princess Vespa. Note that he wasn't pretending to lose picture to get away from the conversation as is standard of this trope, but rather as a way of saying "I'm losing interest in this deal."
- Fanfare: Can't be a parody of Star Wars without one.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Light Speed < Ridiculous Speed < Ludicrous Speed. Somewhere in there is presumably "Hyperactive", courtesy of Eagle 5's Hyper-Jets.
- Fast-Forward Gag: This trope leads to another gag involving the villains watching themselves.
- Foe Yay / Ho Yay
- Lord Helmet playing with a Princess Vespa doll says to the Lord Helmet doll, "Oh, your helmet is SO big!"
- Later, he and Lonestar are comparing the size of their... um... schwartzes.
- Glasses Pull: Of a kind. Dark Helmet pulls the mask down over his face whenever he wants to be scary and dramatic, and pops it up when he starts expressing exasperation or confusion. Or when he realizes he can't breathe in that thing.
- Greasy Spoon
- Groin Attack: Dark Helmet's preferred use of his Schwartz powers is to force-choke the nads of subordinates who fail him. Or annoy him. ("You went over my helmet?") After the first time, they start covering themselves immediately when he gets angry.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Non-Human Sidekick Barf: "I'm a mawg; I'm half-man, half-dog. I'm my own best friend!"
- Have a Nice Death: Self-Destruct Voice: "Have a nice day."
- His Name Really Is "Barkeep" / Unfortunate Names
- Gunner's Mate First Class Philip Asshole.
- Not to mention his cousin, Major Asshole, who got him the job.
- Hospital Hottie: The assistant to the plastic surgeon brought in by Helmet when he threatens to give Vespa her old nose.
Dark Helmet: I bet she gives great helmet.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Spoofed.
Colonel Sandurz: No, sir! I didn't see you playing with your dolls again!
- Incredibly Lame Pun: It's a Mel Brooks film. It's the standard humor.
- When you say you're going to comb the desert, out come the oversized prop combs.
- "Well, just what we need... a Druish princess!" "Funny, she doesn't look Druish." (Mel Brooks has said that the only reason he named the planet Druidia was so he could make that one joke.)
- "What's the matter, Colonel Sandurz, CHICKEN?"
- "PIZZA THE HUTT!"
- "Yogurt! I HATE YOGURT! Even with strawberries!"
- "Radar... about to be... jammed!"
- "There's only one man who would dare give me the raspberry!"
- In Soviet Russia, Trope Mocks You: "Pizza is gonna send out for YOU!"
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: Mega-Maid.
Barf: Wow! Not only is it a spaceship, it's a Transformers!
- Keep the Reward: Lone Starr is promised a million spacebucks for the return of Princess Vespa, which was the exact amount he owed to Pizza the Hutt, who later dies offscreen. Near the end, Vespa laments how greedy Lone Starr was in taking the money anyway and leaving, only for her father to point out that he only took 248 spacebucks for food, gas, and tolls. Unfortunately, the King kind of forgets that Lone Star asked him not to tell her...
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Vespa, while still in her dress, is handed a gun. She refuses to use it until her hair is singed. Then she goes "good enough for Rambo" by mowing down a line of Spaceballs.
- The Kingdom: Druidia
- Laser Blade: Used in the climactic battle.
Dark Helmet: And I see your Schwartz is as big as mine!
- Lawful Stupid: Lone Starr. Don't ever trust something if you can't see where it keeps its brain! Dark Helmet even lampshades this (naming a trope in the process) after stealing the Ring of the Schwartz from Lone Starr:
Dark Helmet: Evil will always triumph because Good Is Dumb.
- Leave the Camera Running: The intro, which pans over Spaceball One for about ninety seconds. Heck, even the orchestra gets tired of it.
- Left the Background Music On: Timpani player!
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: After watching the painful footage of being catapulted into the bulkhead of Spaceball One, Dark Helmet says, "No, no. Go past this part. In fact never play this part again."
- Lightning Bruiser: Spaceball One is (of the three we see to any degree) not only the most heavily armed, but also the fastest, if Ludicrous Speed counts for anything.
- Love Makes You Crazy: "Now listen: on this ship, you are to refer to me as 'Idiot', not 'You captain!' I mean, you know what I mean." So much for Lone Starr always being right.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Spoofed:
Dark Helmet: I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's FORMER ROOMMATE!
- Made of Good: "Liquid Schwartz", concentrated Schwartz that Yogurt leaves in Lone Star's glove compartment to give the craft a Nitro Boost.
- Magic Feather: The Schwartz Ring Lone Starr gets from Yogurt.
Yogurt: That ring was bupkis! I found it in a Cracker-Jack box!
- Matron Chaperone: Dot Matrix has this as one of her functions, even if she's actually not older than Princess Vespa.
Dot: That was my Virgin Alarm. It's programmed to go off before you do!
- May the Farce Be with You: Widely held to be the Most Triumphant Example. The DVD case actually uses the exact phrase "May the Farce be with you" as a tagline.
- Meaningful Name: Prince Valium. Yawn.
- The Merch: Beautifully parodied. Taken one step further by some of it clearly being Transformers merchandise with Spaceballs stickers on them. The Merch helps the baddies find Lone Starr and company, and it's everywhere if you look for it. Sadly there was no real life Merch for Spaceballs, because of an agreement between Mel Brooks and George Lucas.
- Misaimed Marketing: In-Universe:
Yogurt: The kids love this one!
- Moment Killer: Damn that Dot Matrix and her virgin alarm....
- Mook Lieutenant: Colonel Sandurz
- Moses in the Bulrushes: As luck would have it, Lone Starr is really a prince who was sent off, Superman style, complete with Orphan's Plot Trinket.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: "Meet Dr. Schlotkins, the best cosmetic surgeon in the entire universe and Beverly Hills."
- My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: The Virgin Alarm. "It's programmed to go off before you do!"
- Nerd in Evil's Helmet: Dark Helmet. The surprise came to the audience only, since his staff already knew him (and was used to pretending they don't know he's playing with dolls).
- Nitro Boost: Liquid Schwartz.
- Nobody Calls Me Chicken
Dark Helmet: What's a matter, Colonel Sandurz? Chicken?
- No Fourth Wall: Among other things (see Camera Abuse and As You Know above), the bad guys manage to track down the good guys by watching Spaceballs: The Movie on VHS.
- Non Sequitur Thud
- After Spaceball One comes out of Ludicrous Speed and Dark Helmet takes a header into computer terminal and smashes the terminal, his head, and his helmet:
Dark Helmet: Why don't we take a five-minute break? Smoke if you got 'em! (thud)
- Barf does it on the desert planet: "Oh waiter... Check, Please!!" (thud)
- The Obi-Wan: Yogurt, who is pretty much Yoda as a crusty-but-lovable Yiddish guy.
- One-Scene Wonder: The hilarious radio operator, played by the peerless Michael Winslow, "The Man of 10,000 Sound Effects".
- Only in It For the Money: Lone Starr provides the page quote.
- Overly Long Gag: At the beginning of the movie, panning across Spaceball One. Even the orchestra gets annoyed.
- Overused Running Gag: Lampshaded:
Dark Helmet: Why are you preparing? You're always preparing! Just go!
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: 1-2-3-4-5.
- Complete with a Meaningful Glance between Helmet and Sandurz.
Dark Helmet: "Out of order"?! FUCK! Even in the future nothing works!
Lone Starr: (sneaks up behind a guard and grabs his neck)
- Prince Charmless: Prince Valium
- Product Placement
- Put Off Their Food: At the end of the movie, when a diner patron who ate the Alien Surprise starts moaning in pain, another character who ordered the same thing quickly changes his order.
- Rage Helm: Dark Helmet, in an over-the-top parody of Vader.
- Reality Ensues: When Spaceball One comes out of Ludicrous Speed, Dark Helmet follows Newton's First Law and smashes into the wall in front of him.
- Reality Writing Book: An example of a video rather than a book. The evil characters discover the video of the movie they are starring in -- at one point their actions both in the film universe and the video are perfectly synched up, to the characters' bemusement.
- Recursive Canon
- Recursive Reality: The villains put a video of their own movie, and go to the scene where they are watching it, seeing an infinite number of themselves watching themselves.
- Recycled in Space: Parodied relentlessly, with the Millennium Falcon equivalent being a literal Winnebago with wings -- Lampshaded when Spaceball guards call it exactly that -- and the currency being "space bucks", among other examples. Especially funny near the end, with the actual Millennium Falcon and the Winnebago both stopping for gas, IN SPACE!
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Subverted with the baby xenomorph.
- Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: Spaceballs features a trailer for Rocky 5000.
- Ring of Power: Subverted, save for the lightsaber part... maybe.
- Robot Buddy: Dot Matrix, Princess Vespa's robot hand-maid.
- Robot Maid
- Royal Brat: Vespa
- Runaway Bride: Vespa
- Running Gag: Both within the movie -- Spaceballs merch everywhere -- and reusing several gags from previous Mel Brooks movies.
- Say Your Prayers: Barf does this at one point when they're about to crash on Vega.
- Sdrawkcab Name: President Skroob. Close enough, anyway.
- See the Whites of Their Eyes: "Radar about to be... jammed!"
- Sequel Snark: Yogurt jokes that he and Lone Starr will meet again in Spaceballs 2: the Search for More Money, as part of the movie's Running Gag about merchandising. No sequel has been made, though an animated series had a short run in the mid 2000s
- Share the Male Pain: Because Dark Helmet is a master of the Groin Attack.
Dark Helmet: I always have coffee before watching radar. You know that!
- If you pay attention to this exchange you can see the Spaceball behind Dark Helmet anticipate the line and move his hands early.
- Shout-Out: By the dozens.
- A specific mention is probably deserved by the wonderfully insane combined reference to Alien (complete with John Hurt and Sigourney Weaver) and One Froggy Evening.
- And of course, the single longest gag in the film, the opening establishing shot of Spaceball One, is a Shout-Out to the shot of the Star Destroyer in Star Wars: Episode IV.
- "Spaceballs?!" "Oh, shit. There goes the planet."
- Sigil Spam: Overlaps with the various merchandising jokes, since "Spaceballs" is both the name of the movie and the name of the villains.
- Skip to the End: It boils down to "the short short version", thanks to the impatient priest annoyed at the constant interruptions.
Priest: Do you?
- Skirts and Ladders: Between Dot Matrix and Barf. "Stop looking up my can!"
- Slap Slap Kiss: Lone Starr and Princess Vespa.
- Sorry to Interrupt / Suspiciously Specific Denial: "No, sir! I didn't see you playing with your dolls again!"
- Space Based Weapon Has Cutoff Range: Especially the scene when Spaceball One is chasing Princess Vespa's car.
- Space Jews: "Funny, She Doesn't Look Druish!" Mel Brooks has said the only reason that the planet in Spaceballs is named Druidia is so he could throw in the line about a "Druish Princess". Plus plenty of more scenes. That's OK because Mel Brooks has N-Word Privileges.
- Space Trucker: Lone Star driving a Winnebago through space.
- Spit Take: The Mr. Coffee scene. "Hot... too hot!"
- Spontaneous Weapon Creation: It's possible that this is how Schwartz weapons work. Yogurt claims that the rings from which they appear to come are really a Magic Feather.
- Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot: Parodied, see Overly Long Gag.
- Streaming Stars: Parodied when Spaceballs One goes to Ludicrous Speed. "They've gone to plaid!"
- Stupid Minds Think Alike: "That's amazing! I've got the same combination on my luggage!"
- Stupid Evil: True, Good may be dumb, but Evil is dumber.
- Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Via Dark Helmet: "That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! The kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!" and it turns out that's the combination of President Skroob's luggage.
- Suddenly-Suitable Suitor: Lone Starr discovers that his pendant is actually a birth certificate proving he's a Prince -- making a marriage between himself and Vespa suddenly fine.
- Surprisingly-Sudden Death: Parodied with the restaurant scene when Kane starts coughing and goes into convulsions, followed by a chestburster... which dons a top hat and cane and sings "Hello My Baby" in the voice of Michigan J. Frog. John Hurt reprises his role from the original Alien, lampshaded by his muttered, "Oh no, not again!"
- Surrounded by Idiots: "I knew it! I'm surrounded by Assholes!"
- Technology Marches On
- VHS? What is this VHS videotape you speak of?
- Instant cassettes. They're out before the movie is finished.
- Teleporter Accident: President Skroob winds up with his head on backwards after being beamed into the next room. Beaming him back undoes it.
- Theme Tune Rap: 'Cause what you got is what we need and all we do is dirty deeds, we're the SPACEBALLS! Doubles as Crowning Music of Awesome.
- Title: the Adaptation: Lampooned, in all its adaptations.
- Time Travel Tense Trouble: Happens during the aforementioned scene where Helmet and Sandurz are viewing Spaceballs: The Movie.
Dark Helmet: When will "then" be "now"?
- Too Dumb to Live: The entire Spaceball race. Dark Helmet implies that President Skroob is responsible for their atmosphere being squandered:
President Skroob: Planet Druidia, 10,000 years of fresh air!
- Transforming Mecha: Spaceball One's transformation into Mega-Maid, featuring one of the best commentary moments ever:
Colonel Sandurz: Prepare for metamorphosis!
- Tsundere: Princess Vespa, in the original sense.
- Used Future
- Lone Starr's Winnebago has seen better days.
- And then there's the issue of that non-functional self-destruct cancellation on Spaceball One...
Dark Helmet: FUCK! Even in the future, nothing works!!!
- Vader Breath: Spoofed. It sounds like he's having trouble breathing because he is.
- Visual Pun: Again, too many to count.
- From "jamming" the radar:
Dark Helmet: There's only one man would dare give me the raspberry... (flips down helmet; menacingly) LONE STARR!
- To "combing" the desert:
Colonel Sandurz: Sir, are you sure we aren't being too literal?
- Plus when Lone Starr calls for Barf for the first time. By the way Lone Starr speaks and rocks, he looks like he really is going to vomit.
- Villainous Crush: Dark Helmet seems to harbor one for Princess Vespa from what one could tell from the doll scene.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Gets a Lampshade Hanging -- "That's all we needed... a Druish Princess!"
- Why Waste a Wedding?: Valium out, Lone Starr in.
- Your Spacecraft's Size May Vary: Mega-Maid, who at first starts off as big enough for a starship to enter its "ear canal," then shrinks, but still big enough for a Spaceball to slide out its nostril.
- You Taste Delicious: Literally, since Vinnie starts picking up parts of his boss, Pizza the Hutt. He even says those Exact Words. Later, Pizza the Hutt eats himself to death after getting trapped in his limo, freeing up the duo's debt.
If you can read this, you don't need glasses.