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This is the Inner Sphere, thousands of planets colonized by humankind. Once it was united under the Star League, but for the last three hundred years it has been consumed by savage wars...—Adam Steiner, from the BattleTech animated series.
A galaxy-wide conflict with Giant Mecha spanning centuries is ripe for backstory, so FASA naturally encouraged filling out the BattleTech universe. They licensed the creation of a series of Science Fiction novels as the main medium for this. The continuity of these novels was incredibly well kept, mainly because the nature of the 'verse allowed for a very wide variety of characters and settings. Naturally, this led to an extremely large and diverse cast of characters, which is probably the strongest point of the novels. Much of the setting's tone was (and continues to be) defined by Michael Stackpole, with other authors fitting their works in around his.
The novel series of the setting (which are far, far outnumbered by individual novels) include, in rough in-universe chronological order:
- The Warrior trilogy (Stackpole)
- The Saga of the Gray Death Legion trilogy (William H. Keith Jr.)
- The Legend of the Jade Phoenix trilogy (Robert Thurston)
- The Blood of Kerensky trilogy (Stackpole)
- The Twilight of the Clans series (multiple authors, including Stackpole and Thurston)
- The Capellan Solution duology (Loren L. Coleman)
- The Fortress Republic duology (Coleman)
In addition, FASA licensed a number of video game series based on the universe. These, especially the Mechwarrior series, turned out to be widely popular, and drew more people into the franchise.
The video games include:
- The Mechwarrior series
- The Mech Commander series
- The Mech Assault series
- MechWarrior Online: Mercenaries
On top of all of this, 1994 saw the release of the Animated Adaptation, also called BattleTech. Set during the war against the Clans, it focused on a military unit led by Adam Steiner. It was later RetConned as being a propaganda account of events that actually happened, with Adam Steiner and at least one other character showing up in the novels.
These works  provide examples of:
- Absent Aliens: A few novels (most notably Far Country) actually do have aliens. The rest? None.
- For Far Country, the aliens in question live in a system that's only been accessed by humans twice, both in jumpship mishaps that leave the humans stranded there. So they exist, but they can't interact with the rest of the Battletech universe.
- Adaptation Decay: The animated series was retconed as an in-universe, "poorly reviewed Anti-Clan propaganda holo-vid".
- Badass: Too many to list them all. It's pretty much a requirement for surviving the front lines in combat. Kai-Allard Liao is probably the most noteworthy example (see Memetic Badass below).
- Canon Dis Continuity: The Battletech Animated Series, as described above. However, some characters, notably Adam Steiner, became Canon Immigrants.
- Catch Phrase: From the cartoon: "Information is Ammunition."
- Changeling Fantasy: Subverted - Franklin Sakamoto renounced his claim to the throne.
- The Chessmaster: Subhash Indrahar, head of the Kuritas Secret Police for 60 years.
- Conspicuous CG: The cartoon's very poorly done BattleMech rendering sequences. Though they at least got the ponderous weight of 'Mechs right. The animated 'Mech combat looks like anime-style movement.
- Cut Short: The animated series ended on an unresolved Cliff Hanger.
- Defeat Means Friendship: A common method for mercenary units looking to recruit people.
- Defector From Decadence: Trent of Clan Smoke Jaguar. Having been a victim of politics several times (his sibmate changes the official report of the battle of Tukayyid, and then manages to steal his spot on the Trial of Bloodright), with the help of his bondsman, he manages to escape his Clan, goes to Com Star and gives them the Exodus Road, the path to the Clan homeworld.
- Dysfunction Junction: The Seventeenth Recon Regiment, aka "Camacho's Caballeros". Their top scout is a recovering sociopath, one of their best captains is a repeated rape victim, another is clinically insane (and proud of it), and their commander is grieving his deceased daughter while his surviving son suffers from "Well Done, Son" Guy.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: The Northwind Highlanders have their bagpipe band play the loudest song possible onto Clan Smoke Jaguar radio frequencies to jam up the Clan's communications, forcing the Clanners to use more troublesome line of sight based communications.
- Expy: Johnny Tchang is a straight one of both Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. One of his films is even called Exit The Dragon.
- Faking the Dead: Galen Cox. It's part of an elaborate scheme to expose Katherine Steiner-Davion's duplicity.
- Good Is Not Nice: Again, too many to list. Gray and Gray Morality is a big part of life in the Inner Sphere.
- Heel Face Revolving Door: Tormano Liao. Basically, he's on whatever side is against the Capellan Confederation at the moment.
- Honor Before Reason:
- Common with the Clan warriors and the older-line Draconis Combine warriors and nobility.
- Also, this is why Myndo Waterly thinks that Anastasius Focht won't just shoot her. She's wrong.
- Killed Off for Real: Takashi Kurita, Subhash Indrahar, Omi Kurita
- Manipulative Bitch: Katherine "Katrina" Steiner-Davion. For example, she seizes control of an entire interstellar nation just by rigging their popularity polls.
- Mecha Show: The animated cartoon.
- Memetic Badass: In-universe, Kai Allard-Liao. To the point where Clan commanders sending fifty Elementals to hunt him down (while he's injured, without a 'Mech, and on the run behind enemy lines), is considered a "fair fight".
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Ninyu Kerai. Subhash Indrahar apparently used to be one before old age caught up with him.
- Royally Screwed-Up: Both the Liaos until Sun-Tzu and the Kuritas until Theodore are this.
- Rule of Cool: The actual rules of the original game frequently get tossed aside in favor of this. Hey, whatever works...
- Some of these incidents, such as an Atlas throwing the much smaller Locust around like a rag doll (often alluded to in fluff) were finally canonized as game rules to get players to stop complaining about not being able to do what was in the fiction.
- Also subverted; the climatic action sequence of Grave Covenant and most of the 'Mech combat sequences that don't involve Morgan Kell or Yorinaga Kurita in the Warrior Triology appear to have been actually gamed out under the tabletop rules. The Grave Covenant scene with Victor's Daishi and Renny Sanderlin's Penetrator is even in one of the scenario books.
- Sir Swearsalot: Clan pilots. Expect Clan character's dialogue to be about 20% cussing (in the Clan's vocabulary, which means loads and loads of "FREEBIRTH" and "STRAVAG" being yelled)
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Justin Allard and Candace Liao (who end up Happily Married), and later Victor Steiner-Davion and Omi Kurita (which doesn't end nearly as well).
- Story Arc: Done by the animated series, which was noteworthy for American animation of the time.
- The Reveal: The history of the Clans, and the nature of Wolf's Dragoons.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Kai Allard-Liao and Deirdre Lear. That would be until they got married. Or possibly earlier.
- Their son, David Lear, was born shortly after the Twycross they separated on Twycross, long before they got married. Kai was unaware he had a son for a while. So definitely earlier.
- Xanatos Gambit: Just like being a Badass seems to be a requirement for surviving warfare, mastering gambits seems to be required for successfully holding any kind of political power.
- ↑ tropes specific to the video games are listed on their pages