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"The only thing between you and the vacuum of space is six feet of solid style."

The cool ship can be a spaceship that other characters consider a piece of junk. In fact, you get extra points for junky. If you can't call it a rustbucket, though, it has to be the one and only latest, just-about-a-prototype, bleeding-edge techno-miracle.

An ancient living Precursor-craft, retrofitted with the latest techno-miracle gadgetry disguised as a rustbucket, that can think for itself... Okay, dude, quit hogging the cool.

A form of Cool Ship. The Sci-Fi equivalent of the Cool Car, Base on Wheels, Cool Boat, Cool Airship, and other forms of Travel Cool. In fact, because Space Is an Ocean, it is often heavily inspired by the Cool Boat; many spaceship types are named after equivalent water ship types. See the Standard Sci-Fi Fleet for various types.

Cool ships can even be single-seaters with no room to get up and walk around but capable of zipping across the cosmos in no time. The lack of facilities is a non-issue, Handwaved for the Rule of Cool.

To be even cooler, the cool starship may also be a Face Ship or come with escape pods, lasers, faster than light drive[1], and transporters. If enemies try to board it, you may need to activate the self destruct mechanism.

Examples of Cool Starship include:


Anime

  • Many anime series are named after the Cool Ship:
  • UFO Robo Grendizer: The titular Humongous Mecha was both a giant robot and a starship. Grendizer could combining with a flying device to form a Cool Starship allow Faster-Than-Light Travel between planets. Vegans' spaceships also count.
  • The Bebop from Cowboy Bebop.
    • Also, the personal fighter ships used by Spike (Swordfish), Faye (Redtail), and Jet (Hammerhead). Especially Jet's.
    • The shuttle Columbia. Even if it does almost burn up on re-entry, the fact that an ancient space shuttle still sort-of-kind-of works is pretty freaking awesome.
  • The Blue Typhoon from Sonic X. It even has a Thunderbird 2 style launch pad for the smaller vessels!
  • The Gekko-Go aircraft from Eureka Seven.
  • The Swordbreaker from Lost Universe.
  • The Soyokaze from Irresponsible Captain Tylor The junky rust bucket trope is somewhat subverted here, as the ship is recognized as junk by everybody and their mother's dog.
    • The played straight component of it includes the fact that it has a bar, spa, fighter hanger, and marine detachment.
  • The Arcus Prima flying Simoun carrier from Simoun (and the Messis as an example of a junky rust bucket).
    • Technically just airships - no space-travel exists in Simoun universe.
  • The Silvana airship from Last Exile, and the Exile itself when the Mysteria awaken it and it sheds its defensive cocoon.
  • Space Battleship Ryo-Ohki from Tenchi Muyo!, who also doubled as a Weasel Mascot.
    • Not to mention Kagato's ship, the Soja, from the OVA. It had as many dimensions as it did floors.
    • Jurian ships in general look like nature preserves.
    • The Galaxy Police are no slouches at building cool starships either.
  • The Arcadia from Space Pirate Captain Harlock and all related series.
  • The Galaxy Express 999. Steam trains In Space.
  • The Nirvana in Vandread.
    • And the bigger enemy ships too.
  • SDF-1 Macross from Macross
  • Gundam gives us the White Base, the Albion, the Argama, the Ra Cailum, the Reinforce Jr., the Ptolemaios, and the Archangel, among others.
    • The asteroid-ship Celestial Being from Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Houses a quantum supercomputer? Check. Fully operational mobile suit factory? Check. Thousands of laser emplacements all over the surface? Check. Wave Motion Gun? Check. This was a ship designed to travel interstellar distances and safeguard thousands of human beings on board from alien threats. It can also turn completely invisible.
    • The Diva from Gundam AGE gets upgraded into a transforming White Base with a Wave Motion Gun.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's SuperGalaxy Dai-Gurren was disguised as the Moon for awhile.
    • The fact that it turns into a Planet-sized Mecha with sunglasses on both torso and head only makes it more awesome.
    • The Anti-Spirals have the Ashtangas which look like a HUGE (as in, several times the size of a planet) stone with several dozen faces and arms - scary as hell.
    • The original Dai-Gurren and the Tengen Toppa Dai-Gurren (a billions times bigger version that looks more demonic). The fact that the latter can shoot inter-dimensional anchors or fire missile barrages that affects probability, as in missiles that make it more improbable that the enemy will evade future attacks. And that's considered weak.
  • The Arthra from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and Nanoha As.
    • It gets decooled in Nanoha Striker S when the ship is in the process of decommissioning, but rides one last time to serve as a base. In return, the third season gives us The Saint's Cradle, a wickedly cool looking and extremely powerful warship.
    • Nanoha Force gives the Esquad Hückebein (which is so cool, it violates the laws of magi-physics) to the villains, and the Wolfram (a Spiritual Successor to Arthra) to the heroes.
  • The Bay Tower Base, and later the Orbit Base from Yuusha-Oh GaoGaiGar are multiple Cool Ships connected to a hub, which can deploy and serve various purposes. Three of them transform into the handle of a giant hammer in the OVA.
    • Also the J-Ark, a Cool Starship whose bridge detaches from the ship and turns into a Cool Robot that can then recombine with the rest of the Ark to form the even Cooler Robot King J-Der. It's also piloted by Soldato-J, one of the biggest Badasses in the series, for even more cool points.
  • The Shangri-La from Toward the Terra contains wide open fields, gardens, flowing rivers, palisades, a massive shrine for its leader, and a "bridge" in the form of a platform suspended above the aforementioned fields. Further, the ship uses psychic energy to attack, defend, and conceal itself, is capable of both space and atmospheric flight, and can even warp from the surface of a planet.
  • Believe it or not, the manga version of Chrono Crusade actually contains a (spoileriffic) example. Pandaemonium, the demon's world, is actually a gigantic spaceship that crashed into Earth and sank to the bottom of the ocean. It's huge, containing a huge city inside of it, including a large field of grass and trees. And yes, this means the demons are actually aliens.
  • The Amaterasu from Starship Operators. Despite being less advanced than several other ships in the series, is able to kill many of those more advanced ships.
  • Getter Robo has the Emperor Machines, three planet-sized starships made from Mars And The Dinosaurs.
  • La Muse and various other ships from Kiddy Grade.
  • All of the ships from Gankutsuou are unbelievably cool.
  • Imperial admirals' ships in Legend of Galactic Heroes, primarily Reinhard's Brunhilde and Muller's Percivale.
  • Frieza and Cooler of Dragonball Z each have at least one.
  • The Bell from Magic Users Club.
  • Planetes has Debris Section's Toybox, which is the epitome of Used Future and is still working fine despite being older than some of the crew and gets a spectacular sendoff. The Wernher von Braun fits into the "techno-miracle" category.


Comic Books

  • The Ship of Starlord, simply called "Ship", a sleek, highly maneuverable starship-- which is actually a sentient shapeshifting Energy Being who is in love with her pilot.
  • The giant Celestial-built Ship (also simply called Ship) of X-Factor. Eventually blew up, but the AI survived and became an ally of Cable.
  • Friday, the "Smartship" of Power Pack.
  • The Starjammer, of the Space Pirate group of that name who are friends of the X-Men.
  • The Carrier, interdimensional base of The Authority.
  • Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy had two cool ships and a mobile, time-travelling space station. And currently live in the severed head of a robot alien.
  • The Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl had a Thanagarian starship with a retro look.
  • The Fantastic Four used to have an orbital rocket that launched from the middle of Manhattan. It was phased out in favor of a captured Skrull starship.
  • Comet Man's alien mentor Max has a Fortiquian Comet Ship, which disguises itself as, guess what, a comet inorder to make observation easier.
  • In Bill Mantlo's Micronauts, the team's Robot Buddy Biotron gets destroyed, only to be rebuilt as a Living Ship-slash-Humongous Mecha named Bioship. Bioship later gets destroyed, and he is rebuilt again in his original human-sized "Biotron" form.
  • Spaceman Spiff's little red rocketship from Calvin and Hobbes. Come on, you know you love it.
    • Regular Calvin's little red wagon deserves a mention for somehow managing to get to Mars and back.
    • Calvin's cardboard box has to be one of the coolest devices ever: it's anything the plot requires it to be, including a time machine, but still looks like an ordinary cardboard box to most people.
  • A new Star Trek Deep Space Nine comic features the Luck Of The Draw, an awesome little ship with a badass rotating warp drive thing on the back.
  • Superman villain Brainiac has a ship that, in many incarnations, is a giant version of his head with tentacles on it.
  • Any and all space vessels designed by Jack Kirby.
  • In DC's Star Raiders graphic novel, the titular ship is a fast, nimble one-man attack craft with a galaxy-skipping warp drive and disproportionately heavy armament and defenses. It's so cool that simply discovering it inspires Jed and Tommy to start La Résistance against the Zylons and use it as their flagship.
    • Averted in the original video game, where the ship is never shown.
  • In Bionicle, the entire universe of the first 8 years of the story is contained within a 16 million feet tall sentient robot which travels between planets.


Film

  • The titular starship from the live action adaptation ofSpace Battleship Yamato. Built from the wreck of a World War II battleship giving it even more reason to be awesome, comes complete with a starfighter squadron, massive beam cannons, rows upon rows of beam gatling guns, and of course, THE Wave Motion Gun. Not to mention this one ship fought off an entire alien race and is the only reason the Earth was saved.
    • Technically, since it carries a squadron of starfighters, can destroy fleets with it's Wave Motion Gun and has all the firepower of an actual battleship that attacks with laser beams instead of bullets, the more accurate title would have been Space Battlestar Yamato.
  • Subverted in District 9, where a ship that looked freaking AMAZING hovering over Johannesburg turned out to be a (mostly) inoperable piece of junk.
    • Case in point.
    • Considered it is an amazing piece of junk, doesn't it play this trope completely straight?
    • It seemed odd that there were no permanent exploration and research facilities on it... eg, to at least try and find out how it could ignore gravity.
  • From the Star Wars movies:
    • Han Solo's Millennium Falcon was the "junky" kind: a set of engines, a bunch of plating and a couple of guns held together with bubblegum, duct tape, and the will of The Force. However, although the ship's systems can be unreliable, the ship is faster than most anything and has enough armaments (guns, missiles) to be considered a powerful warship for its size. The most techno-miraculous thing about it is that it flies at all, let alone so well. Not to mention that it's over 100 years old, per the Legacy of the Force series. Never mind that it's falling apart at the seams, the Falcon is, quite simply, an ostensible light freighter that can outshoot, outrun, and outmaneuver starfighters. A heavily modified light bulk freighter (in fact, customization's the raison d'etre of some of the manufacturer's starship lines including the Falcon's) piloted by a top of his class naval academy graduate.
    • General Grievous' Invisible Hand.
    • Darth Vader's dagger-shaped[2] flagship, the Executor. If you weren't in awe when you first saw it dwarf a freaking Star Destroyer in The Empire Strikes Back, then you were watching it wrong. His big brother, the Eclipse. How awesome is it? It's twice as big mass-wise (albeit a little shorter), jet black, and has a mini-superlaser on its nose that can render a planet uninhabitable in a single shot. It's meant to take on entire fleets and come out victorious.
    • The Clone Wars has the Twilight, a junky freighter in the vein of the Millennium Falcon.
    • Heck, Star Wars is naturally packed with Cool Ships, although most of them don't hang around long enough to become characters in their own right, let alone iconic in the wider culture. X-wings in general, the various very shiny Naboo royal cruisers, and Darth Maul's Sith Infiltrator (only really seen in the Expanded Universe) are just the start. They have names (because Lucas & co. have given absolutely everything a name) but the supplementary books are stocked with craft that, visually, sample every level in the artistic barrel, from the top to the very bottom. Which is actually realistic. Not everything could be that awesome.
    • Knights of the Old Republic has the Ebon Hawk, a clear homage to the Falcon, though it's trimmed in red. The crime lord you steal it from proudly calls it "the fastest ship on the Outer Rim", and on the planet Korriban you find that it's been around for quite a while, long enough to be famous among smugglers. It has several storage compartments of varying levels of secrecy and actually is very well maintained, though Jolee Bindo complains that the food synthesizer needs cleaning.
    • The Nebulon-B and Acclaimator class frigates look pretty damn cool, and the Nebulon-B is quite formidable for its size.
    • The standard-issue Imperial Star Destroyer. The way it loomed into the scene after the title crawl in A New Hope was just awe-inspiring. And damn if it doesn't look intimidating.
    • The Suncrusher. It's barely bigger than an X-Wing, yet it can destroy solar systems in a single shot, and endure glancing hits from the prototype Death Star's superlaser.
    • The Death Star. "That's no moon..."
    • Vader's personal TIE Advanced x1. It managed to take a TIE Fighter, essentially the Star Wars version of Zerglings, and actually make it a decent combatant. Shields and a hyperdrive go a long way to making it the Imperial version of an X-wing or Y-wing. The only drawback is that it moves slightly slower than average TIE Fighters, although the fact that the only one we see in the films is flown by the greatest pilot in history tends to make up for this.
      • On that note, the TIE Interceptor. While still just as fragile as a typical TIE Fighter, it's wicked-fast and has a dagger-like profile that absolutely screams "Evil" with a capital E.
      • TIE Fighters in general are useless, but very cool. And don't tell me that you don't love that memorable screaming noise that even the bog-standard TIE makes when it flies by.
      • In the EU, the TIE line of ships eventually gets to the TIE Defender, which is more heavily armed, more heavily shielded, and faster than Vader's TIE Advanced model. "Trips", as the Rebels call them, made it into EU material outside of the TIE Fighter computer games and in the early days of the Alliance/Empire war were generally considered a failure due to the massive pricetag, although the handful of times they saw deployment they certainly fit the criteria. As production became less expensive and the Imperials' military philosophies had to change with their shrinking territory, the Defender became more common.
      • There is also the slightly less powerful but more common Tie Advanced, a mass produced variant of Darth Vader's personal fighter. It was proven capable of outmaneuvering any Rebel starfighter, and experienced pilots were able to outwit renegade Tie Defender pilots. The thing's nickname? The TIE Avenger.
    • The Delta-7 Aethersprite. For the curious, that's the wedge-shaped one Obi-Wan flew in Attack of the Clones. That thing is tiny, yet Obi-Wan is still able to take on another cool ship, the Slave I, which is owned and maintained by a Mandalorian Bounty Hunter.
    • The Errant Venture is the only civilian-owned Star Destroyer, and it's red. This makes other Star Destroyer captains jealous.
      • And it was really expensive to paint, since the only reasonably priced color in that volume was star destroyer gray.
    • The Sith Mediation Sphere. It's a giant bat-winged eyeball powered by pure EVIL. Bad. Ass.
    • Carracks are pretty cool too. They're smaller frigate-sized warships, but they're fast and bring to bear a lot of heavy turbolaser batteries, meaning that small squadrons of them can bring down capital ships many times their size.
  • The giant saucers from Independence Day. Mainly because of their sheer size, presence (Gravitas. Balls.) and destructive force, rather than anything uniquely "cool" about the design of the ships themselves.
    • The mother ship was only 500 kilometers across, yet 1/4 the mass of the Moon. That made it 20 times the density of solid lead, on average. Tell me that ain't cool!
    • Some guy on the internets calculated that they are most likely built out of some sort of badass neutron-degenerate matter, to shield them from cosmic rays.
    • If that were true, wouldn't that would also make them Nigh Invulnerable due to their density even without their impressive Deflector Shields that can stop a nuclear explosion?
      • Not from the inside, apparently....
  • The Gotengo of Atragon and Godzilla Final Wars has a massive beam shooting drill on it's bow and can function in the air, under the sea and dig through the ground.
  • The Cygnus from Disney's The Black Hole. It's made of thin struts of metal supporting acres of glass. It looks like an enormous spaceship-shaped greenhouse, lit by millions of twinkly lights. The only reason such an amazingly beautiful but fragile thing can survive spaceflight is the Rule of Cool.
  • The RLS Legacy from Treasure Planet should count as well. It's a classical sailing ship traveling through space (or the Etherium) and in one scene it even escapes from a black hole!. If that isn't cool, nothing is.
  • Star Trek universe:
  • USS Discovery of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. A spaceship controlled by a genius computer in which the only real way to travel is in a cryo-chamber. Admittedly not FTL, but ranks highly on the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness in that respect. However, as humanity's first long distance spaceship, its a pretty good effort, delivering the astronauts to Jupiter (Saturn in the book). Also the inspiration for the Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot, accompanied by the "Adagio" from Gayane by Khachaturian.
  • The brief external shot of the Venture Star in Avatar was pure scenery porn. The spacecraft design was incredibly realistic, perhaps more so than any other movie starship to date, being based on Charles Pellegrino and Jim Powell's Valkyrie antimatter starship, with an additional Laser Sail for "ground power" acceleration while outbound from Earth.
  • The possible patron saint of this trope is the bubble spaceship from The Fountain. It's a freaking bubble, and it houses some land, the Tree Of Life, and Hugh Jackman. How can you beat that?
  • The NSEA Protector from Galaxy Quest. Lovingly and accurately modeled by the Thermians after the ship from the (cancelled) TV show, it can do everything a TV starship can do. It's also the last holdout of Thermian civilization against Sarris's forces.
  • Centauri's car in The Last Starfighter took the angular wedge design of the DeLorean, turned it Up to Eleven, then made it a transforming Flying Car and Cool Starship.
  • The Messiah from Deep Impact. An ambitious Orion Drive-powered spacecraft, theoretically capable of interstellar travel (but put to emergency use as a comet-buster). Oddly, the coolest thing about it -- how the Orion drive actually works (it throws nuclear bombs out the back of the space ship and rides the blast waves) -- was never mentioned in the film.
  • Spaceball-1 from Spaceballs is a parody of cool starships. Its introduction is an Overly Long Gag about how huge the actual thing is (to the point that even the BGM grows impatient for it to end), it transforms into a Humongous Mecha Robot Maid, and it includes a mall, a three-ring circus, and a zoo.
    • Lonestar's space ship is, likewise, a parody of the Millennium Falcon. It's an RV with wings.


Literature

  • The "Cavorite sphere" from H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon was nothing more than a room-sized sphere of anti-gravitational Applied Phlebotinum known as Cavorite, named after the story's well-meaning Mad Scientist Cavor. No giant rockets here. To begin their journey the crew merely unleashed the moorings so the hull could set about its gravity-repulsive business and, like a metal hot air balloon, float off into the void. This altogether genteel and erudite mode of transport allowed its Victorian-era crew to focus on pipe smoking, tea preparation, existential angst, and other civilized behaviors. Possibly the ultimate in Steampunk technology.
  • The Starship Lady MacBeth in The Nights Dawn Trilogy. It's a giant flying basketball, but it also has 3 fusion rockets and 8 communication lasers (Masers) that just happen to double as Deathrays.
  • The Heart of Gold in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Bistromath is arguably a subversion of this trope.
    • Hotblack Desiato's Space-Limo in the books and television series anyone? So cool Zaphod and Ford can't help but steal it. Even in the radio series, where it looks the same but is actually the flagship for a massive intergalactic war fleet.
  • The novel Invaders From the Infinite featured the Thought - a ship made of, well, solidified thought. It's main armament consisted of the device that made it.
  • The Consul's ship from the Hyperion series. All the comforts of home and a well-equipped hospital IN SPACE, a fully automatic self-repair system, and a friendly AI with a sense of humor to boot. What's not to like? (Well OK, no weapons, but as stated in the books, the exhaust of a fusion-driven ship would make a good enough weapon anyway.)
    • Spin-off short story Orphans Of The Helix features the Amoite Spectrum Helix, an ubertech coloniser ship designed so that when it spins up its phlebotinum drive it looks like the DNA double-helix.
    • The Archangel Class ships from the Endymion series count as a cross between cool and terrifying.
  • In the mil-SF novel series Honor Harrington, approximately seventy percent of the books deal with cool space ships that can kill worlds and use gravity as their Deflector Shields, and the steady improvement of such. Harrington's own command becomes one as the saga continues. The books are unabashedly "Horatio Hornblower in space," and author David Weber designed the spaceflight physics to encourage maneuvers and combat right out of the 18th century, including broadsides of gamma-ray lasers and missiles capable of doing 8/10s of light speed.
    • Kind of subverted in the very first book, in which the Super Prototype ship seemed incredibly Cool on the surface- it was able, in theory, to casually destroy vessels orders of magnitude larger- but was actually horribly flawed by a fatal case of Awesome but Impractical in a world too far on the realistic end to let such things slide.
    • Special mention goes to the HMS Medusa, GSN Harrington (First purpose built Podnaughts) ; HMS Hexapuma (the Nasty Kitty and a Battlecruiser); not to mention the entire Roland class of Destroyers (fitted with missiles able to take out capital ships!)
    • Also worthy of mention is the HMS Minotaur (Minnie to her friends, just don't call her that in front of her captain), the first of Manticore's LAC carriers. Capable of carrying and deploying a wing of 100 Light attack craft (20000 ton "fighters"), she and her wing almost single-handedly destroyed an entire battleship task group in their very first engagement and put the fear of the new Manticoran super-LACs well into the hearts of the People's navy.
  • In another Weber series, Empire From the Ashes, Dahak is a sentient battleship the size of the Moon (having destroyed and secretly replaced the original 50,000 years ago). Even after he gets planetoid companions, all the characters still agree that Dahak is an awesome ship. Dahak II even more so.
  • On the subject of Weber, "Star Runner". An AI-controlled light cruiser equipped with battleship-grade engines and shields. As it's too small to carry useful numbers of the long-range SLAMS (Supra-Light Accelerated Missiles - essentially targeted black holes), the designers pretty much decide 'sod it' and pack it bow to stern with Frickin' Laser Beams, missile launchers and point defence. It can outrun destroyers and outgun battleships. And as I said before, it's a light cruiser.
    • And it also has a hologram projector capable of making it look like a down-on-its-luck tramp freighter rather than, say, a stolen military experimental ship piloted by the most wanted woman in the sector.
  • In the classic Skylark series by E. E. "Doc" Smith, Doctor Richard Seaton and friends trade up through a series of increasingly powerful spacecraft. He discovers a substance that catalyzes the conversion of copper to energy and linear momentum, then makes contact with a succession of alien races and gains galaxy-turning scientific insights. The original Skylark is a forty-foot steel-hulled sphere, refitted with the alien metal "arenak" into Skylark II, then replaced with the mile-long blimp-shape of Skylark III using an even stronger metal, "inoson." He finally constructs the gargantuan Skylark of Valeron (his wife being tired of numbers) out of thin air and raw computation (having discovered the secrets of Sixth Order Forces and time manipulation), a thousand-mile-wide sphere. Its size wasn't ego -- he simply needed that much room for mechanisms to lock onto Earth after being thrown to the far side of the universe.
  • The Great Glass Elevator in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Ordinary elevators can't travel to the Moon and back.
  • The Culture series by Iain M. Banks, and how!
    • The General System Vehicles are 200 kilometer long ships with force fields used as hulls, housing millions if not billions of denizens, ruled by sentient "Minds" (AI) and able to turn into overpowered warships when the need arise. Less than 1% of the Culture population lives on planets, because the Culture consider it uncool to Terraform worlds, and because GSVs are part of the Culture PR policies: you don't need to go to one of the Culture's homeworlds when you see near your own world a nomadic self-sufficient sentient Metropolis that can kick a star out of its own solar system showing how advanced the Culture is and what awaits you if you make the very deadly mistake of pissing off their Minds and/or their denizens.
    • Note that because of the Culture ships' sense of humour, these ships are likely to call themselves something like the Cutie-Pie, or something about the lack of gravitas in their names. This is part of the charm: how can you not like names like the Psychopath-class Rapid Offensive Unit Frank Exchange Of Views? Or the i said i've got a big stick?
    • From Use Of Weapons: "The ship was over eighty kilometres long and was called the Size isn't Everything."
    • Arguably culminates in Surface Detail with the Abominator class "Picket Ship" the Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints. It curbstomps a Culture tech (they thought) equivalent battle group in milliseconds and then proceeds to wipe out thousands of smaller craft per minute. It also keeps very high resolution recordings of all its engagements as possibly the closest thing a warship-Mind can have to porn.
  • In James Blish's Cities in Flight books, devices called "spin-dizzies" lift up whole cities and send them into space. It's just as cool as it sounds. They can also be used on whole entire planets.
  • Subversion? The cool ships in the "The Ship Who..." series tend to be middle of the road, completely average ships. Not too junky, not too edge of the tech. Mainly because it's too expensive. And the ships can't afford it (yeah, the ships are alive -- each ship is controlled by a "brain", a human born with incapacitating disabilities raised as a "shellperson" and trained to control ships, space stations, or cities, who are cybernetically connected to the ship/station/city systems). Oddly, few have weapons.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space series of novels and short stories features ships built into the Puppeteer-produced General Products Hull. Sure, you can only get them in "cigar-shape" or "kilometer-wide-sphere" models, but they're completely invulnerable to anything short of antimatter. And they're transparent.
    • They actually come in 4 sizes/types. A sphere, roughly the size of a basketball, a cylinder 300 feet long and 20 feet wide, pointed at both ends and with a slight "wasp-waist" constriction near the tail., a cylinder with rounded ends and a flattened belly. and a transparent sphere around 1,000 feet in diameter.
    • This series is full of awesome ships: Lying Bastard, Angel's Pencil, ramships, The Wunderland Treatymaker, Outsider Ships, the Wunderland raid payload, any slaver ship, the Ring World and The Fleet of Worlds, .
  • Frank Herbert's other series, starting with Destination: Void, includes a ship which becomes self-aware and omnipotent. It refers to itself as Ship.
    • Also, from the same author, Spacing Guild Heighliners from Dune. Massive cargo ships several miles long that are the only things in that wold capable of FTL Travel.
  • The Teacher, Flinx's KK drive starship in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, is custom built for him by a race of hyperintelligent aliens after he teaches them civilization. It is unusually fast and well-armed for its size, employs a powerful AI to run things, can reconfigure itself to disguise its appearance from the authorities, and most importantly has the power to land on a planetary surface on interstellar drive without destroying both ship and planet, a feat beyond the capabilities of any other ship in The Verse.
  • Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space mostly takes place on the "Nostalgia for Infinity," one of only a few hundred "lighthuggers" existence. Infected with an alien plague that affects nanotech, the ship is riddled with strange, cancerous organic-like growths and failing systems and changes layout in unpredictable ways yet it can still reach the speed of light and travel between stars.
    • It also carries a whole bunch of "Hell-class" weapons, all of which easily outperform the state of the art in space weapons used by almost anyone else and capable of smashing planets. Each weapon is AI-controlled and independantly mobile like a miniature warship, and was designed by future humans from an alternate reality.
    • At the end of Revelation Space, Captain John Brannigan's variant of the Melding Plague (a cybernetic virus) is allowed to take over the ship, rendering The Captain into a Living Ship.
    • The sequel, Redemption Ark, introduces the Nightshade and the Zodiacal Light, lighthuggers that use inertia-suppressing machinery to effectively reduce their mass and achieve much higher acceleration.
    • House Of Suns, a separate novel unrelated to the Revelation Space universe, has the Silver Wings Of Morning, a '50 kilometer long ship capable of accelerating at hundreds of Gs, and has a 8 kilometer long cargo hold, filled with more interstellar ships.
  • The Ark in Tuf Voyaging. So much. It's an ancient, thirty-kilometer-long "seedship" containing the genetic material for thousands of species and millions of bacteria with the technology on board to clone them all, tweak their genetics as desired, and warp the fabric of time to age them up as needed. It even comes with fancy shuttles named for mythical beasts. And a Nice Hat.
  • In Poul Anderson's Tau Zero, almost the whole story takes place aboard the good ship Leonora Christine. It's a Bussard Ramscoop that sucks in its fuel from the interstellar medium, and so can theoretically keep accelerating indefinitely. Which it does.
  • Executor's sister ship, the Lusankya. It was buried under Coruscant's surface and used as a brainwashing facility; the New Republic knew of the facility and the name, but they thought it was a secret prison on a distant planet, not right in the heart of the Empire. Its rising, to the utter gaping shock and horror of the New Republic, which had just captured the planet, was a Crowning Moment of Awesome. When the New Republic captured it they did not rename it, unlike virtually every other captured capital ship. And, well, face it. If there was ever a ship's name that went really well with terrified/awed bits of Ominous Latin Chanting, it's Lusankya.
    • Even the Lusankya's death was incredibly epic - the ship was damaged during a long siege, and so it was slowly stripped of weapons, and a reinforced spar full of explosives constructed along its 8km central spine. In the final battle of Rebel Dream, it rammed an enemy worldship and exploded, wiping out the attackers' command cadre and allowing the garrison to evacuate from what was supposed to be a suicide mission.
  • The page image is a Cool Starship from A Maze of Stars
  • Scott Westerfeld's 'The Risen Empire' and 'The Killing of Worlds' are full of Cool Spaceships. Pictured here are the Rix battlecruzer (top) and the Lynx (bottom).
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's The Songs of Distant Earth, the Magellan is powered by zero-point energy. It can keep accelerating 'til it's travelling just a hair shy of the speed of light. To protect itself from the interstellar medium -- which at 0.999c is more like a constant shower of cosmic rays -- the front of the starship is one huge long chunk of ice, which slowly wears down over the course of a voyage and has to be replaced.
  • The Phoenix Exultant of The Golden Oecumene. It's designed and built by the greatest engineer in the system and tough enough to fly into the heart of the sun.
  • Technological miracle? How about a spaceship built with Renaissance-level technology? Living ship? Well, sort of; its power source is a lot of swamp dragons. General cool appearance? It's designed to look like a bird-of-prey in the process of catching a salmon. It is, of course, The Kite from The Last Hero.
  • The Rhabwar from Sector General, pictured at the top of the page.
  • The USS Sagittarius from Star Trek: Vanguard is a fast-looking, sexy little thing, even when it's on fire and about to be curb stomped by Klingons. Also, the fiercely awesome USS Bombay. Not only is it a TOS-ified version of the already cool Reliant, it kicks ass and takes names in an insane five-on-one battle before getting blown up. Starship Determinator FTW.
    • Remaining in the Star Trek EU, Diane Duane's novels of the Rihannsu series have the Bloodwing. That, according to Kirk himself, defeated the Enterprise more than once (to be fair, the Enterprise always gave her a desperate run for her money and won her fair share of bouts). That was before her commander Ael augmented her guns and switched sides to save the Romulan Empire from itself. After the change of sides... Well, on one occasion Bloodwing flew past Romulus' defenses and landed on the Imperial Senate building, then flew away after blowing up the only ship that dared not to be awed enough to try and stop her...
    • Also in the EU is New Frontier's ships.
      • Both versions of the Excalibur, the second being what amounts to a hot rod version of the Galaxy-class.
      • The Trident, Excalibur's sister ship
      • The Spectre, a badass Romulan vessel that can be rigged to run silent and virtually undetectable.
  • The ships from Neal Asher's 'Polity' books - the 'Cable Hogue' has the same mass as Earth's Moon, but it's bigger. 'Geronamid' and 'Jerusalem' are space-distorting huge, and make planet-eating alien creatures of near-infinite intelligence wet themselves just by their arriving anywhere. AI controlled, they also tend to be very self-aware, often inscrutable and occasionally inclined to sarcasm. The wardrones are even more fun...
  • Subverted in Iain M Banks' The Algebraist, where the Luceferous VII, designed to suit the whims of the eponymous genocidal despot who has some definite ideas about how a badass flagship should look. His engineers apparently cried at one point, not wishing to be tortured to death for defying him when his designs became far too impractical to implement. It is mocked by the staff of the Navarchy as being a clear sign of vanity trumping sense, being too big to travel FTL via wormholes and far more vulnerable in a real fight than a sensible warship.
  • In Tony Daniel's Metaplanetary series, the forces of the outer system have Cloudships: spiral-shaped clouds of connected meteoroids with uploaded minds named after classic writers; males are shaped clockwise, females counter-clockwise. They regularly travel to Alpha Centauri. The forces of the inner system have 5-mile long ships shaped like bundles of scythes with limited intangibility. There's also a Jeep with an FTL-engine-in-a-Thermos
  • The Emiline is the tricked-out space yacht belonging to Miles Flint, Retrieval Artist. A man of otherwise simple tastes, it's the one thing he spends his lavish fortune on: black, sleek, fast, upgraded with the latest defense and security whenever a new version comes out, richly carpeted and furnished and modified with a few features he's used to from his days with Armstrong police: handcuff mounting points, a brig, and so on.
  • The Troy class Battle Globes from the Troy Rising series. A nickel-iron asteroid, hollowed and inflated to 9km in diameter, with walls 1.5km thick, acting as home-port and carrier to Constitution class cruisers, and hundreds of assault shuttles. Plus an armament of tens of thousands of missiles, and laser emitters capable of throwing a petawatt or so (and more to come). Two-point-two trillion tons of death. And they fitted Troy with an Orion Drive to make it mobile. So far, they've built two of them, with a third on the way...
  • Far Star from Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth. The most advanced Foundation ship so far, with a highly advanced drive and a computer that responded to human thought. It was so advanced that it could decide the fate of a galaxy, depending on the thoughts of its captain by enforcing either the Psychic Static of a Foundation ship or strengthening the telepathic powers of either a Second Foundation or a Gaia agent..
    • Not quite the most advanced Foundation ship so far: Munn Li Compor has a nearly-identical ship provided to him for the purpose of following the Far Star, and both the Far Star and Compor's ship lack weapons, to keep their captains from going out of control. Mayor Branno's gravitic warship, on the other hand, is not lacking in weapons... including ones aimed at the Second Foundation.
  • The Great Ship from Robert Reed's Great Ship series. A ship larger than Saturn, full of hundreds of thousands of rooms, each capable of being modified to suit any biology. The Ship has a hull made of a nearly-indestructible material that spreads energy from impacts across hundreds of dimensions. Propulsion is provided by fusion engines larger than Ganymede, fueled by hydrogen tanks deep enough to submerse Europa in. The Ship may also be a thinking entity


Live Action TV

 Sisko: Officially, she's an "escort vessel". Unofficially... she's a warship.

      • Described in the DVD commentary as "on a five-year mission to kick ass."

 SF Debris: It's a set of guns strapped to an engine.

    • The Prometheus, an experimental starship seen a couple of times in Voyager. Not only is it a sleek high-tech ship designed to go where bigger ships can't, it can also split into three parts in order to break stuff.
      • The Enterprise-C, commanded by Captain Rachel Garrett and Lt. Castillo. It was so badass, it's crew decided to fight a battle they were destined to lose simply because it would lead to peace between the Federation and the Klingons. Now you know you're a cool ship when you get blown up and the Klingons are impressed.
    • Enterprise NX-01, humanity's first Warp 5 ship. Not as pretty or Badass as later versions, but it did get the job done. And got it done well.
    • The entire Constitution class. They were fast, reliable, powerful, and tough. Remember the USS Constellation? Blasted into near-scrap by the Doomsday Machine, antimatter exhausted and warp drive a 'pile of scrap', yet it could still fly and fight clumsily once Scotty got his hands on it. Those ships were arguably the best the Federation ever built.
    • And that's just the main Human ships. Most of the supporting cast of races got cool ships, but the Klingon and Romulan ships were especially badass.
      • Especially since, if you go by the IKS Rotarran, (Martok's ship) Dominion War-Era Birds of Prey are pretty much comparable to the USS Defiant.
      • Not to mention the Ferengi Marauder of all things, even Picard considered it a "very impressive design" - good thing they're more interested in commerce than warfare.
    • Let's add the Akira-class (functionally Star Trek's version of The Battlestar), Nebula-class (Compact version of the Galaxy-class yet just as powerful, and with the weapon's pod even moreso), the Galaxy-class itself (especially the War Refit versions), the Constitution-class (AKA, the ORIGINAL Enterprise, and especially the refit and movie versions), and many more...
    • Also, the various Borg ships, especially the very large and very dangerous Cubes. That is, until they start to suffer from Villain Decay, notably in Star Trek Voyager
    • While only occurring in one episode, the Voth City Ship is definitely deserving of a mention. It's huge. It's fast. It beamed the entire motherflipping starship Voyager into a cargo hold!
      • More impressive because the Voth are genetically related to humans, being descended from Earth dinosaurs, who managed to escape the extinction in primitive ships and made it all the way to the Delta Quadrant where they dominate all the species in their area of influence. They could probably give the Borg a run for their money.
    • The Vulcan High Command ringships from Star Trek Enterprise; particularly the D'Kyr-class Combat Cruiser, but also the Surak-class ships and the larger Suurok-class vessels like Sh'raan.
    • Many of Starfleet's ships have a Fridge Coolness factor to them: before the Defiant, Starfleet weren't really into actual warships[4], and so their ships had other primary purposes (exploration, mostly). Didn't keep them from going up against dedicated warships and winning...
  • This was subverted in That 70s Show. The camera moves underneath a chassis to display it as a huge behemoth flying in space, only to reveal that it's a Vista Cruiser with Eric and Donna sitting in it. Incidentally, it could be considered a Cool Car.
  • The White Star(s) from Babylon 5.
    • The Babylon 4 station had engines and was even bigger. It served as the base of operations for a war 1000 years prior before it was friggin built.
    • The Agamemnon and other Earth force destroyers. They may be ugly chunks of metal with no gravity control, but they can take on much more advanced civilization's warships on nearly equal terms.
    • Especially the awesome Omega-X-class-destroyer.
    • The Excalibur from Crusade.
    • The Shadow's giant starfield colored spider monster warships. Very effective at evoking the utter hopelessness of fighting them.
    • The Sharlin-class War Cruiser from the Minbari Federation. It's a giant blue angel fish...and that doesn't sound particularly cool, until you see it...
    • The Vorlon ships. All of them. The dreadnoughts are imposing enough and can One-Hit Kill almost any ship. Their fighters (mostly drones) can swarm-kill a Shadow Battlecrap, even if they're vulnerable to Starfury weapons. Then there's the Vorlon Planetkiller, which is a 27-kilometer behemoth that can do exactly what its name suggests. Even the transport used by Kosh looks amazing, especially since it's semi-alive.
    • The new EarthForce Warlock-class destroyers. They don't have the spinning sections, as they're the first EarthForce ships to use Artificial Gravity. This means they're faster and more maneuverable. Plus, they feature advanced weapons and defenses. They're supposed to be a one-to-one match to the Minbari Sharlin, even though there are only 50 of them in the fleet.
  • Andromeda Ascendant from Andromeda.
    • Andromeda actually has two, one of each kind: The Andromeda Ascendant as the hot technomiracle, and the Eureka Maru as the "rusty bucket of bolts".
    • How about the Siege Perilous-class Deep Stand-off Attack Ship II? It has 180 missile tubes, 24 35-megawatt PDL turrets, 4 anti-proton cannons. Built to destroy entire fleets. Out of 4 built, 3 were shown on-screen (Wrath of Achilles, Balance of Judgement, and Resolution of Hector), and they look amazing.
  • The Liberator from Blakes Seven (also the Scorpio, but only after getting the star drive).
  • The Doctor's TARDIS on Doctor Who. Even though it barely works and constantly shakes and smokes, it is still the most powerful ship in the universe, capable of towing the Earth through intergalactic space. And it looks like a Police Box.
    • And have we mentioned that it's Bigger on the Inside?
    • Aside from the TARDIS, the new series features the Daleks' badass flying saucers, not to mention the beautiful Byzantium from The Time of Angels (pre-crash, of course). It has cyborg trees on board to generate oxygen! Freaking cool!
    • Not to mention the super-epic Starship UK from "The Beast Below", which not only features skyscrapers mounted on a shiny metal platform, but is powered by the last Star Whale.
  • John Crichton's Farscape One from Farscape.
    • Speaking of Farscape... Talyn. Moya was like a good Team Mom, but Talyn was like that dangerous but cool kid everyone knew about but never really knew growing up.
    • Lo'La. Period.
  • Subversion: the new Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, BS-75, survived the Cylon attack to become the focus of its series because it was old, obsolete, and less cool than the rest of the fleet, without being actually junky. (Though by virtue of achievement Galactica is still really, really cool, with many a-Crowning Moment of Awesome.)
    • The Battlestar Pegasus is a straight up example. Likewise the Mk VII Vipers.
    • To quote the commander of Pegasus, "Galactica's not a Relic, it's a Classic." And this "bucket"'s main defense are not crazy shiny looking shields but saturating the surrounding area of space with an absurd amount of explosions.
    • Hell, the Cylon basestars count. There's a ship that looks both truly unique and Badass.
  • The Lexx, a massive spacecraft that resembles a dragonfly. Its only weapon is a Wave Motion Gun that smashes the planets into bite-size chunks.
  • Spaceship Imagination from Carl Sagan's Cosmos.
  • Stargate has a fair number of these:
    • The 303-class Prometheus.
    • The successor 304-class, Apollo, Korolev, Odyssey, and Daedalus, and now the Sun Tzu and the General Hammond (formerly Phoenix).
    • Anything Ancient.
    • The Lost City of Atlantis!
    • Stargate Universe takes place entirely on an Ancient Cool Ship. This is one of those ships that despite being old and run-down it almost makes it even cooler.
    • The Destiny is doubly-cool, just from how it refuels: by flying though stars!
    • Hey, did everyone forgot about the Ori battleships?! Despite being shaped like a toilet seat, their main weapon can one-shot most ships in the known universe and have brutally powerful shields. If you see one heading for you, get the fuck out of there or you're DEAD if it gets into weapons range.
    • The Goa'uld Ha'tak-class motherships: They are flying pyramids that land on mountains.
      • The Lucian Alliance later upgrades them to be a match for a fully tricked-out Daedalus-class battlecruiser. Earth humans aren't the only ones who can make things better. Yes, they can even resist the Ori mothership-killing plasma beams.
    • The Replicator ships, which are, basically, giant Replicators.
    • Asgard ships. They cross intergalactic distances in days.
      • The O'Neill and the Daniel Jackson were particularly cool, being pretty much the Asgard equivalent of a Super Star Destroyer.
    • Anything built by the Wraith can classify as either creepy or cool, depending on your outlook. When you hear the whine of a Dart, you'd better run.
      • The Super-Hive in the Grand Finale is a ginormous organic ship with an uber-thick hull that can withstand anything and overpowered cannons that can cripple Daedalus-class ships. And that was before it finished growing.
  • The Jupiter Mining Corporation ship Red Dwarf from the BBC's sci-fi comedy of the same name: ten kilometers of engineering that's survived three million years and the demise of humanity. A possible subversion of the trope, since it was specifically designed to be utilitarian, but it's still counts as the "hero ship" of the series, or possibly an "antihero ship" to extend the metaphor.
    • Then you've got Starbug, a transport ship used for ferrying people from the surface of planets to the Mining ship and exploration of planets. Has no FTL travel yet somehow managed to track the massive mining ship (although it did take a few centuries) and somehow managed to increase the amount of space within it. Oh and then after the main crew is killed by their future selves the ship somehow changes shape again to allow more extra room.
      • And it's also the very model that was withdrawn due to major flight design flaws. Go figure.
  • Needless to say the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series UFO abounds with them. SST's, tilt-fan aircraft decades before the Osprey got off the ground crashed, jet-powered seaplanes, submarine-launched jet fighters, Lunar Modules piggyback-launched from VTOL carrier aircraft, bug-like Moon Mobiles that travel with an eerie wooo sound [5], Interceptors with a Big Fucking Nuke in the nose. What more could a teenage fanboy ask for?
  • The Eagles from Space: 1999 also fit, being the best thing about the series apart from Martin Landau.
  • The Astro Megaship from Power Rangers in Space and Lost Galaxy. All the functionality of the Star Trek the Next Generation Enterprise, plus it turns into a giant robot!
    • It's got Linkara's seal of approval!
    • As does Master Vile's skull spaceship. Serpentera also technically counts.
  • The basis for the Astro Megaship - Mega Ship / Galaxy Mega from Denji Sentai Megaranger. Since the series was themed around computers rather than space travel, it was used as an orbital base instead of transport, but still.
  • The Vulture from "Salvage 1." Built in a 1979 scrap yard from parts including a gasoline truck, a cement mixer and some old tires, the Millenium Falcon ain't got nothing on this baby when it comes to being a miraculously functional "piece of junk." It took its crew of a junkman, a former astronaut, and a propulsion expert all the way to the Moon and back to salvage NASA's collectibles.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000: Battlefleet Gothic. Ten-thousand-year-old mile-long cathedrals to war and destruction with broadside guns that can screw continents. In space.
    • Just to clarify: Escorts (the lightest ships) are supposed half a mile to a mile long, Cruisers generally range from 4 to 8 miles long, and Battleships are larger than Super Star Destroyers.
    • The Blackstone Fortresses. Enormous and fantastically ancient mobile starbases built to slay Eldritch Abominations and armed with cannons that shoot Negative Space Wedgies!
    • Anything the Necrons build as well. It's pretty uncommon for anything to slip by Cadia and Ultramar but a bunch of necron frigates snuck through half the Imperium controlled galaxy unnoticed and managed to land on Mars, one of the most heavily defended planets in the setting that has about half the imperial navy in orbit at all times with a considerable nextdoor on Terra as well.
      • The Cairn-class Tombship deserves special mention here. Not only is it the size of the Imperium's biggest battleships, it's much, much tougher, and it can carry a Sepulchre. No one's sure what exactly is in the Sepulchre, but given that it can Mind Rape entire crew of an aforementioned miles-long flying cathedral from hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, it's doubtful anyone wants to know.
    • Tau ships count, too. As if the fact that within half the Imperium's lifetime the Tau went from "pointed sticks" to "tank-killing railguns, limited FTL, and drone workers", but the Tau avoid the "overdone Gothic" of Imperial space cathedrals in favour of sleek, curved surfaces.
      • The Manta is probably the toughest thing on the table in a standard scale game.
    • How can we have one of these without mentioning Phalanx? Not only is it the size of a small moon, it houses the entire Imperial Fists chapter.
    • And Eternal Crusader, the pimped-out battle barge of the Black Templars.
    • And Bucephalas, the Emperor's battle-barge.
    • And Vengeful Spirit.
    • And Hunter's Premonition and Covenant of Blood from the Night Lords books.
    • And the Eldar Craftworlds. So big they have in fact been mistaken for planetary bodies, and are able to carry an entire Eldar FLEET (up to and including a couple of their battlecruiser equivalents) in their docking bay... come to think of it most of the Eldar ships are pretty cool too.
      • The Flame of Asuryan deserves special mention here for being undeniably badass.
    • The Planet Killer, basically a Black Stone Fortress that Abbadon The Despoiler got a hold of, whilst there are many ways to blow up a planet in the 41st Millenium, this is considered one of the most efficient. Also unlike other examples of super-ships built around a single Wave Motion Gun with insufficient defence to protect against fighters, the Planet Killer has 50% of its fire power in ranks of heavy lance batteries, its actually capable of solo deployments as its support weapons are capable of matching the damage output of its superweapon.
      • Just to up the ante, Imperial observers have noted that the Planet Killer (and newer Chaos ships in general) should be physically impossible - as in it should not be able to exist in the universe, let alone fight. Unfortunately for everyone else, it was constructed on a planet in the Eye Of Terror, a rip in space where the Immaterium intermingles with the physical world - in other words a place where the laws of physics are what you want them to be.
    • Actually, make that both Planet Killers - the Imperium blew the first one to pieces during the Gothic War. It's useless without escorts.
    • Imperial Ironclads - turned into giant rams.
    • Can't mention 40k without an obligatory Ork reference, in this case several. Roks, taking the biggest asteroid you can find and filling it up with More Dakka and engines, Kroozers, which are basically 50% ship splitting ram, 40% Dakka, 10% anything else, and the Space Hulk, biggest ship in the game, made from random space junk slamming into each other until it hits the mass of an average moon, or bigger. Also like the Kroozers, the Space Hulk will attempt to ram targets or rather obliterate them into sub-atomic particles and like all Ork things, including the other ships, has more guns on it than any other faction, to the point of the space hulk being close, close to 1% of the way to Enough Dakka. Remember this is a race that has its equipment held together by some primeaval ancestor of Duct tape.
    • There's also The Rock, the base of the Dark Angels chapter of space marines. It's the largest surviving remnant of Caliban, their home planet, that survived the orbital bombardment when half the legion went rogue. It's one of (if not) the biggest and most heavily armed things in Imperial space, being much larger than battleships or battlebarges, and it's surmounted by the Tower of Angels, the main fortress of the Dark Angels from before the destruction of Caliban.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Weatherlight, although it was designed by what was essentially a god to be part of a weapon that was powerful enough to kill an actual god So Yeah.
  • Traveller has lots of these. The Terran Confederation Navy had the Indomitable class battleships, which practically destroyed the Vilani navy on their own.
    • The Lightning class frontier merchant, half warship, half merchant. These were able to cruise in Vilani space at will, changing to privateers or scouts when needed.
    • A fairly normal feature is a computerized surface that can be used to customize any imagery the captain desires. Similar features are available on several of the bulkheads. Thus even fairly ordinary Starships can look cool
  • One of the possible settings in Maid RPG is space. Given the nature of the game, at least one of these will be involved in any game taking place in that setting.
  • In Exalted the very Sun itself is a battlestation known as Dirigible Engine Daystar designed to fight back armies of billions of Raksha and rogue Primordials. The Daystar is detailed in five parts on the Ink Monkeys' Blog (I, II-1, II-2, II-3, III, Final).
  • The Starfire hex-map-based wargame was all about combat between fleets of starships. The units varied in size from tiny one-man fighters all the way up to Monitors four times as large as a space battleship, armed with quasi-inertialess ion engines, nuclear missiles, Antimatter missiles, Frickin' Laser Beams, Tractor Beams, Deflector Shields, and a host of other deadly hardware.

Video Games

  • Spore, as quoted above, deserves special mention in that you get to make your own Cool Starship, just like pretty much everything else in the game. It's not too hard to create a real gem.
  • The #DECA Terraformer CPU ship in X3 Terran Conflict. It's a 4 kilometer long, 1 kilometer wide sentient ship that looks like it could swallow other capital ships whole Take a gander.
    • The whole collection qualifies, more or less. For example, the Boron Shark from the second installment X2 had a huge propeller out of rotating tentacles around the engine. Since the Boron race is a marine species, their ships are specifically designed to work under water as well. The other one is a freighter called Dolphin which makes the same swimming moves as the naming animal.
  • The Hiryu Custom, the Hagane and the Kurogane from Super Robot Wars: Original Generation. In fact, most of the Super Robot Wars games have been centered around one or more Cool Ships, most of them listed in the Anime section. Super Robot Wars W includes the Valstork, one of the first non-Original Generation Cool Ships you don't shoot at.
  • The Ebon Hawk? Granted, it is sort of a copy of the Millennium Falcon (albeit about 3,900 years older), but still!
  • The various Hunter-class gunships from the Metroid series. GFS Olympus from Prime 3 probably also counts, if only because it has its own Mother Brain Aurora Unit onboard, where Auroras are usually limited to larger installations - like, oh, entire cities.
  • The Global Airship in Final Fantasy VIII. It's called the Ragnarok. You find it in space. It does this. It, along with 3 other ships of the same model, were also used to lift the Sealed Evil in a Can into orbit, as seen here
  • Another Global Airship, this time in Wild Arms 3, called Lombardia, is a Transforming Mecha dragon which far outclasses any imitators you might meet in aerial Random Encounters.
    • The Lombardia returns in Wild Arms XF, although you only get to see it in cutscenes. As a Shout-Out to 3, it's classified as a "Dragon Class" subspace vessel. It's also cool as hell.
    • Its/his (her?) first appearance was in Wild Arms 2, where it's explained to have traveled from another dimension full of biomechanical dragons. This was their excuse for putting a Transforming Mecha in a Desert Punk setting. Sadly, it didn't join the heroes until after the one mission that required them to actually go into space.
  • Most space shooters feature a few of these - The Vic Viper from Gradius is a good example.
  • The USG Ishimura from Dead Space. A mining spaceship that rips part of a planet and suspends it beneath the ship, ready to be mined.
    • It is, however heavily industrial in design, only the higher ups get fancy furniture like sofas, end tables and double beds.
  • The Normandy of Mass Effect. Not only is it really fast, it is also a stealth ship. ...and hella expensive. But hey, you can't put a price tag on cool!
    • The Normandy SR2 built by Cerberus in the second game to replace the SR1 after it got blown up is even cooler. Everything from the original design was amped up, including the luxury; Joker likes the new leather seats. And an Artificial Intelligence that eventually takes total control over the entire ship, and describes the ship as being her body. Yeah, the SR2 is pretty much the definition of Cool Ship. Oh, and there's even a bar if you fork over the cash for some DLC.
    • In Mass Effect 3, she gets another overhaul, including a spiffy new emblem and blue-white paint job, the ability to provide fire support to the player (in some instances), and new areas opened up. How cool is the Normandy in ME3? A fully upgraded Normandy is worth almost as much War Assets as an entire Alliance fleet.
    • Meanwhile, on the Big Bad side of the equation, we have Saren's flagship Sovereign. A massive, vaguely arthropod-like starship that's Nigh Invulnerable, engages two full-strength battle fleets simultaneously, and is implied to only lose by plot device. Did we mention that it's actually sentient and the one calling all the shots?
      • Really, even though they're practically the poster boys for Abusive Precursors, all of the Reapers are just awesome.
    • The Shadow Broker has a pretty damn sweet vessel which is basically a giant flying fortress modified to be able to perfectly hide within thunderstorms.
    • Given that Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son of a bitch in space, presumably the Everest-class dreadnoughts count.
    • How can a ME list not include the Destiny Ascension? The largest warship in the galaxy, it manages to hold its own during the surprise attack on the Citadel. unless you go Renegade..
    • The geth flagship is a massive dreadnought that can lay waste to the entire quarian fleet, even though it looks like a giant cockroach. Unless, of course, Legion disables its weapons and defenses. Keep in mind that the quarian dreadnoughts (or civilians ships that pretend they're not dreadnoughts) are armed to the teeth with the Thanix cannons.
  • In Starcraft II, the protagonists' starship, the Hyperion, a stolen Dominion battlecruiser, qualifies.
    • Also, the Void Seeker (Zeratul's ship) and possibly the Shield of Aiur (Artanis' Ship).
  • The TIE Fighter series of games featured the TIE Defender, which was the fastest starfighter in the galaxy; as well-armed as some bombers; shielded (unusual for TIEs); equipped with hyperdrive; and some models had a tractor beam. Something of a Game Breaker, it didn't make it into other similar games, leaving you with only the second best TIE Advanced starfighter.
    • One training mission in the game with the TIE Defender puts you up against two souped-up Corellian Transports, with massively fast upgraded engines, armour and weaponry. That's right, you are capable of killing the Millenium Falcon in one of these things. Twice.
    • Then there's the Missile Boat, aka the King Hell God Emperor Starfighter of DEATH. Ka-BOOM.
      • Note that the Missile Boat was specifically designed to counter the TIE Defender. It wound up capable of countering Star Destroyers. Super Star Destroyers.
  • The Rogue Squadron series of games combines this trope with Cool Car by providing a cheat that lets you pilot a Buick. Really.
  • The TIE Phantom from Rebel Assault II? "No ship that small has a cloaking device," indeed.
  • The Elsior and Luxiole from the Galaxy Angel gameverse. Indoor ocean. With whales.
  • The Halberd in the Kirby series.
  • Ratchet and Clank
    • Going Commando: Ratchet's ship can get many weapon, boost, and shield upgrades, each of which shows up in a visible add-on to the ship model when landed. Paint and bodywork can also be done ingame.
    • Up Your Arsenal: The Phoenix, large star cruise commanded by Captain Sasha that acts as a hub in the game. Carries both Ratchet's ship and a troop carrier in an onboard hangar. The troop carrier delivers Ratchet to some battles. Crew quarters onboard has the latest gaming console, which causes Ratchet to propose marriage to Captain Sasha when she describes it.
    • The Future series (Tools of Destruction, Quest for Booty, and A Crack in Time) has the Aphelion, a Lombax fighter with an AI. In the first game, she has laser blasters and homing plasma missiles. In the third game, she is upgrade by the Zoni, giving her several different lasers and missiles, extra shields, boosters, a grappling hook, and a spiffy new paint job. She can also survive entering a black hole, and has a spacious comfortable interior.
  • Dr. Robotnik of the Sonic the Hedgehog games always has one or two of these around, with the most memorable being the Egg Carrier in Sonic Adventure (this one even came with its own theme music) and the Wing Fortress in Sonic 2. He wises up and builds an entire fleet in Sonic Heroes.
    • We see your Egg Carrier and raise you The Death Egg, as well as the ARK.
  • Great Fox in the Star Fox series. Unfortunately, it gets destroyed during the events of Star Fox Assault and is replaced with a less cool variant in Star Fox Command. In the smaller ship classes, we also have the series' ever-present Arwing fighters, as well as Star Wolf's Wolfen.
  • In SSBB's Subspace Emissary, one of the main plot object's is the Halberd, which even destroys easily the Great Fox. Fortunately it is eventually recovered by the heroes. Then an even larger ship/cannon comes from a portal and blows it up. But four smaller, equally cool ships (and Olimar's pitiful lil' tin-can of a rocket) emerge to continue the fight. The Catch? The extremely large enemy ship is destroyed by Kirby using a Dragoon, essentially a flying hovercraft that (canonly) only allows for one pink ball to ride it.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 gives us Starship Mario, which is not only shaped like Mario himself, but also doubles as a planetoid!
  • Halo's Pillar of Autumn was a Halcyon-class cruiser. According to the novels, this class of ship had been retired years previously and were destined for the scrap yard. They were slow, under armoured, had very few weapons, and were generally considered a joke among the fleet. The Autumn itself was in bad shape and could be accurately described as a junk-heap. This made it the perfect candidate to ferry the resident Super Soldiers on their top-secret mission, and as such was refitted with top-of-the-line reactors and experimental weapons. That's right, a techno-miracle disguised as a rustbucket.
    • The Pillar of Autumn was chosen for the mission because the Halcyon-class was designed with an absurd amount of internal structural bracing. It could take a beating to the point of looking like swiss cheese and still maintain basic structural integrity. ...then they put in the self-cooling engines, special MAC Gun ammo and capacitors, and replaced an entire set of shuttle-bays with missile launchers, and put Jacob Keyes in command, and it became the most badass ship in the fleet. You first meet it in the first Halo game, as Cortana drives it around Halo's solar system terrorising ships twelve times it's size.
    • Other ships in the series include the significantly less-cool In Amber Clad and Forward Unto Dawn. However, you also get to see High Charity - a giant ship/asteroid/city, which more than holds its own in the awesomeness category.
      • The UNSC frigates (the class that IAC and FUD belong to) get a slight coolness boost in Halo: Reach by performing heavy fire support for you on multiple occasions.
    • ...And the Spirit of Fire
    • No mention of the Forerunner dreadnought? Incredibly fast and able to power a moon-sized city.
    • The Covenant flagship Ascendant Justice from the novel Halo: First Strike, which is enhanced by Cortana to the point of "ridiculous badassness" (superior shields, pinpoint jump-drives, one-hit-kill weapons, etc.). Welding the Ascendant Justice to the hulk of a UNSC ship in a Crowning Moment of Awesome solely for the purpose of providing More Dakka.
    • The Long Night of Solace, the Covenant Supercarrier in Halo: Reach, counts, partly due to its impressive entrance (one-shotting a UNSC Frigate from out of nowhere), and partly because of its sheer size - the thing is completely fucking huge, around 27 kilometers long from the looks of it [6]. Covenant Supercarriers are the largest warships ever made by the Covenant, and only about a dozen of them are known to have existed throughout the Human-Covenant War. As a comparison: Mass Effect's Citadel is about 47 kilometers long. A Covenant Supercarrier is more than half of that length, and is about a dozen kilometers wide and at least half a dozen kilometers "tall". It carries enough firepower to take on half of the Reaper fleet singlehandedly and win. A trio of them would defeat the Reapers by themselves. They also carry hundreds of thousands of troops (and all of the armored vehicles, aircraft, gigantic cloaking-teleporting-jamming pylons, and more). One wonders how even the Covenant build these, let alone in significant numbers.
    • Pretty much any Forerunner ship as described in Cryptum: some are made up primarily from hardened light, which can be turned transparent in some areas to simulate being completely outside. Of particular note is the unnamed ship used by the Didact, which, while small compared to some other ships, was equipped to singularly wage a large battle, and the Fortress ships, which were 50 kilometers long and capable of destroying Halos on their own.
  • Eve Online has many of these, but the Veldnaught, piloted by Chribba, gets special mention. Beyond being a capital ship, it is located in high-security space, where capital ships are not allowed to enter, but the Veldnaught was already THERE when the rule was put in place. So what does Chribba use it for? Mining.
    • The Rifter class of frigate also fits in this trope. Like all Minmatar ships, Rifters look like they're made of scrap. This article (non-canon) claims that the first Rifters were constructed during the Minmatar Rebellion out of actual scrap, with converted plasma cutters for engines. But they don't just fly well - the Rifter is commonly held to be the best combat frigate in the game.
      • Every pilot in Goonfleet knows that the original Rifters were built from bicycles and televisions stolen from the Amarr. :)
    • The Magathron Navy Issue was at one point considered one of the most aesthetically pleasing ships in the game, given that its base design was already Badass looking. However, unlike the regular issue, it sported a jet black paint scheme with blue lighting. To the point that people bought it just because it looked cool.
      • This changed when the Dominion expansion altered the paint scheme to a horribly ugly forest camo. Chided by players as being perfect to hide the ship behind all the trees in space. The price of the Mega Navy Issue took a nice drop in response.
    • The Scorpion received an epic visual overhaul with the deployment of Tyrannis, which was especially well received by the player base.
      • And children's toys for the AI.
    • Bassically, any ship in EVE can be considered a "Cool Starship" depending on your standards and sense of aesthetics. Except the noob ships.
      • And now even the noob ships look cool now that they have also received a visual overhaul on par of that of the aforementioned Scorpion.
  • Star Trek Online, naturally, allows you to command the cool starships of the franchise practically at-will. They even slipped in the original Enterprise design as a preorder bonus just because.
  • Final Fantasy IV has one of the understated ones. The Lunar Whale is a mobile free inn with an enormously fat bird that serves as a Hyperspace Arsenal access point. It may not be the biggest out there, but it's more than enough for world-saving adventurers battling the forces of ultimate evil.
    • Not to mention that it provides, for the first and last time in the series, access to the moon. (VIII came close, though).
  • The Van Eltia in Tales of Eternia.
  • The main ship from the Descent series. It was a battle cruiser compressed to a rather tiny one-man ship. The Pyro-GX for the first two games, and the older Pyro-GL in the third. Of course, in the third you also had the Phoenix interceptor, and the Magnum-AHT heavy fighter, which you could choose between once you acquired them. In the expansion, you also got the ultra-new Black Pyro'. It had the added perk of being controlled, in game, by a keyboard.
  • The Rogue Shadow from The Force Unleashed.
  • The TCS Midway of Wing Commander Prophecy is Confed's first experimental megacarrier, and the player's home base. The Midway carries hundreds of fighters, battleship-grade capitol ship weapons, lots of anti-fighter turrets, around two thousand crew, gets upgraded with an alien Wave Motion Gun, and almost singlehandedly wipes out an alien invasion, supported only by one squadron of fighters from another carrier (that are subsequently transferred to the Midway), a Kilrathi corvette or two, and a few hapless supply ships.
    • Another example from the same game would be the Nephilim's Tiamat Battleship/Carrier-a ship so big, it takes two missions to destroy.
    • Arguably, any of the "home base" ships from the series qualify, if only because Luke Motherfucking Skywalker is flying off of them. The only possible exception is the TCS Lexington from the beginning of WC4, once Blair defects. For the non-base options, there's the Vesuvius class of supercarriers (one of which gets a Gunship Rescue moment, under the command of Captain William Eisen), from WC4, and the Bannockburn, a converted transport with a cloaking device, used by James "Paladin" Taggart, in the novel Fleet Action to sniff out the Kilrathi Hakagas being built deep in kat space.
      • The TCS Concordia most certainly deserves special mention, if only for it's Phase Transit Cannon. Watching it take out cruisers in one shot never gets old, to the point that a mission was put into the fanmade Wing Commander Standoff where the player is diverted to "rescue" it, apparently just to give them a chance to see it annihilate a Kilrathi Cruiser with a single shot, yet again. Seeing that ship's wreckage in the intro to WC3 still ranks up there as one of my most heartbreaking scenes in gaming.
  • Disgaea has the battleship Gargantua; the human SDF as a whole has an entire battalion of slightly lesser ships that Laharl blows through in a single cutscene.

 Flonne: I want a model of this ship!

    • She gets satisfaction in the anime... only better.
    • This also has a Wave Motion Gun:

 Gordon: You imbecile! Now's not the time to be impressed!

Gordon: That's the Astro Cannon, the EDF's ultimate weapon.

Gordon: Demon or angel, you won't escape a shot unscathed!

  • Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 take this a step further, as they let you build your own Cool Ship out of spare parts.
    • A couple of the premade designs are fairly cool too, particularly 2's Falcon Peak.
  • The Mothership from Homeworld. Six kilometers of the last hope of survival for your race, controlled by a woman directly linked into the processing system, capable of churning out fleets of ships in mere hours and traversing lightyears in the blink of an eye... And that's not even getting into what the Bentusi have.
    • Hiigaran Battlecruiser and Interceptor from the second game.
    • Not to mention the Kuun-Lan command ship from the stand-alone expansion pack. Better armed than the Mothership and can pack a fleet-destroying Wave Motion Gun.
      • Of course, the dreadnaught has a repulser field that can bounce that shot back into the command ships' face. Had a couple of mishaps because of that... The overwhelming majority of the Somtaaw fleet is composed of cool ships: kamikaze ships with holographic camouflage; unmanned Leeches that attach onto the enemy's hull and use concentrated acid to chew through the drive plasma conduits while hacking into the target's computers and supressing damage alarms; Sentinels that combine into AT-Field wannabes; Dervish frigates that do ballet maneuvers while tagging enemy fighters with fast-tracking ion cannons... the list goes on.
      • The Naggarok the ship that The Beast entered this galaxy in is one of the most intimidating ships in that entire series. It's huge, armed, infectious, and once the super-advanced engines are repaired it can cross vast distances in seconds, while it would take your fastest ships tens of minutes. Something that large simply should not move that fast!
        • It can do that because it has an inertialess drive. Though if we are already there, the counter to the Naggarok must be mentioned: Super Acolytes. A fighter with dual rapid-fire ion cannons. Mind you, that's destroyer-level firepower packed into a fighter!
    • Apparently it's so cool it needs a second mention here, apart from being the first videogame entry. The Sajuuk from Homeworld 2 is a very cool one as well, packing the most powerful weapon in the game. In addition, remember the thingy that enabled the Mothership to make such long-range hyperjumps? Sajuuk has three which means it can hyperjump during battle with absolutely no cost. Let's recount: a super-heavily armored, 5km long and 1,500,000 ton ship with a Phased Cannon Array, medium-range nanite cannons, quite fast self-repair and slow speed offset by the ability to execute tactical hyperjumps with no resource cost.
  • The Furon Mothership and Scoutship(saucer) from the Destroy All Humans!! series.
  • The FreeSpace series turns the Cool Starship into an art form. Both games feature several classes of massive capital ships that are thousands of times the size of the player's fighter, armed with not one but several Wave Motion Guns apiece, including a fleet of 80 alien juggernauts that, together, blow up a star.
    • One of the series' shining examples has to be the Lucifer, the Nigh Invulnerable planet-killing superdestroyer that functioned as the first game's Big Bad.
      • By the second game, both sides have bigger nastier juggernauts that could take out a Lucifer without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, the Shivans have the aforementioned 80 of them (that we see; they may well have far more elsewhere), but there's only one Colossus.
    • The Freespace Open Source Project, a massive and still highly active collaborative effort that constantly updates the game with improved code, AI, mechanics, missions, and entire new mods/total conversions, understandably has its own fair share of cool ships. The Blue Planet series, in particular, features realistic and fantastic ships in fitting and excellent missions.
  • Xenosaga was full of these, being a full-on scifi as it was. The Rhinemaidens from the beginning of the story, the Elsa, and of course the huge megaship Durandal that's practically as big as the space station it docks with to become the Kukai Foundation's HQ.
    • To say nothing about the Dammerung which is among the biggest ships ever covering 10,000 square kilometers (just under the size of the country of Lebanon).
  • Nexus: The Jupiter Incident featured the Angelwing, an highly-advanced ancient cruiser built by the Precursors and capable of taking on fleets, especially after the Mechanoid upgrade. It has the added benefit of looking really sleek and deadly, while most other ships in the game look blocky and fairly ugly.
  • Infinity the Quest For Earth features ships as long as 5000 meters, or about three times of the Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer mentioned above.
  • Albion has the Toronto, a ship that can transform into a mining facility, that automatically builds/repairs itself, and is virtually indestructible. And the whole thing is controlled by a single computer, and manned by relatively small crew.
  • The Escape Velocity series has a number of cool ships. Nova alone has the cool-looking Modified Starbridge, the hideously powerful Polaris Raven, the very cool Auroran Thunderforge, and the Series Mascot Kestrel... and the Manticore - built out of junked Leviathans, it's probably the best ship for piracy in the game as its primary weapon, a ring of eight ion cannons named the Crown of Thorns, only disables and doesn't destroy targets, and its huge cargo carrying capacity can be converted to carry weapons.
  • The CSS Astrid from Ground Control deserves a definite mention - it's introduced by way of hammering an opposing ship belonging to a technologically superior faction into retreat with just a couple of salvoes from it's cannon... It then goes on to reappear in the sequel as a 300-plus-year-old derelict which just happens to still be in working order, and house an engine which would allow it to reach the next galaxy over...
  • Pretty much any ship controlled by Durandal - the beginning of Marathon 2 sees him destroy a Phfor battlegroup using a single stolen scoutship... which he had upgraded to be able to hit targets a twice the maximum distance a dedicated warship could; ten thousand years after that game he's upgraded to a Jjaro dreadnaught renamed Manus Celer Dei - given that a Jjaro spacestation was capable of creating blackholes as a weapon (to combat EldritchAbominations), you're left wondering what a Jjaro warship could do to top that...
  • While Galactic Civilizations II allowed you to build your own Cool Starships in a lego-esque design menu, a special mention has to go to the Arnor vessels you can sometimes find in special anomalies and turn to your side. Just one of these vessels has sufficient power to take entire enemy fleets of dreadnoughts on and shrug them off with minimal damage. God help you if you try to fight one of these in the hands of someone with a couple of Military Resource starbases. Your game is officially over.
    • The smallest of them, in the hands of someone not having any Military Resource starbases, can be killed by a single dreadnought - even if there are three of the Arnorian ships. Still, when a corvette can give a good showing in combat with a dreadnought...
  • This is definitely the element of Infinite Space.
  • Everything in Freelancer could qualify.
  • Pick any starship type boss from Fraxy.
  • The Starship Titanic: a t-shaped hotel in space with a luxury restaurant, bar, canals and lots of marble.
  • Star Control had a number of these, but the crowning example has to be the Vindicator[7], the protagonist's starship from Star Control II. Properly equipped, it was far and away the most powerful ship that could be fielded, outclassing even the mighty Ur-Quan Dreadnoughts... and it was just a Precursor utility ship, not even designed for combat!
    • And not even *finished*... the factory ran out of minerals long before construction was complete, so it's only the skeleton of a starship and *still* scares the crap out of most of the races you meet.
  • Several of ships from Tyrian have self-healing armour and secret weapons.
  • Olimar's starship, The Dolphin, from Pikmin is a cool starship if only because it is the size of a soda can, yet can travel between star systems at hyperspeed, can more or less withstand an asteroid impact and re-entry, and can even repair itself. And the ship from Pikmin 2 is certainly cool after it's bling upgrade.
  • Each player class in The Old Republic gets their own Cool Starship around the late tens of their character level, give or take, and can use it to fly Star Fox style missions as well as transporting themselves around the galaxy.


Webcomics

  • This ship from Dresden Codak.
  • In the long-running comedy Mil-SF Schlock Mercenary the mercenary company "Tagon's Toughs" advances through a series of starships of various sizes, the latter three with AI shipminds that are full characters. They start with the Kitesfear (small and patched, but with excellent fire coverage), to a used Tausennigan Ob'enn Thunderhead-class superfortress (ridiculously oversized) which dubs itself the Post-Dated Check Loan, then to one of its troop boats (the Serial Peacemaker,), and most recently acquired the ship of a larger merc company, renaming it the Touch and Go.
    • This says nothing compared to some of the UNS Fleet. For example, the UNS Battleplate Morokweng, a ship design originally intended to block asteroid impacts the hard way, and this particular example is implied to be even bigger than previously seen battleplates. Gets into a pissing match with both the Touch and Go and the Athens II at the same time, and is carrying enough pee to outpiss both of them and nearly feed the crushed remains into its annie plants.
    • The Cloak of Untrammeled Dignity, here.
  • In the comedy SF webcomic Starslip Crisis, the Fuseli is a star-traveling art museum, a repurposed "luxury battleship" originally named the Crimson Fall. It still carries its diamond-lined mahogany laser cannon.
  • This ship from A Miracle of Science. The martians are not allowed to have battleships, so they call it a police cruiser.
  • The White Knight from Terinu, personal fighter of Rufus Brushtail. Not only does it look cool, it's got the requisite "recovered from a junkyard" background.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Torg, Riff, and Zoe are very excited to get one of these. Though Riff is a bit disappointed it doesn't come with space lasers.
  • Freefall gives us the Savage Chicken, distinctly on the junky end of the scale. In the earliest strips, it's a non-flyer, without running water. Even as of July 2011, it is currently only repaired enough to serve as an orbital-only shuttle, pending funds for further work.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger has two thus far--- Quinn's own ship, the Thunderbird, and the recently introduced Sapphire Star, a luxury cruise ship with a diameter measured in kilometers.
  • In Girls in Space the girls' spaceship is a VW Bus
  • The Chainless from Mushroom Go sails on land and is powered by a star.
  • Drive has the Machito after it's upgraded, and La Invencible.
  • Homestuck has the Battleship Condescension, the troll Empress's signature starship that could go near the speed of light on manual power alone. Of course, being the Empress of a vast galactic empire, she had a Ψiioniic hooked up as the main battery so that the ship could go even faster!
  • Westward: The Westward itself is humanity's first starship, a giant colony-ship that can leap across the galaxy in a second under the guidance of a big-brained Martian scientist. And it packs enough power to shift the orbits of planets or create a mini super-nova if you aren't careful with the controls...


Web Original

  • Orions Arm is chock-full of Cool Starships. Even though none of them are faster-than-light, it doesn't matter since everyone is immortal anyway. Most of said starships are also Sapient Ship, and often transapient, and have extremely propulsion technology - monopole-based "conversion" drive, which can render antimatter engines obsolete, is a commonplace standard-issue drive system, and the greater AI powers use various forms of Reactionless Drive. The pinnacle of all are the Voidships, created and used only by the greatest archailects, which leave normal space altogether and exist within Alcubierre-esque void bubbles, and can only be detected as very fast moving gravitometric distortions.
  • Star Trek Phoenix has the new Ascension class USS Phoenix
  • Tech Infantry has several. The EFS Stornoway is a fleet destroyer with an experimental graviton cannon. The freighter Resolve is a rusty bucket of junk with as much personality as the Millennium Falcon. And then there are the Star Control Ships, massive warships several miles long, and the Vin Shriak Worldships, hollowed-out asteroids refitted as warships several hundred miles long. The Bugs create starships partly by gluing together the dead bodies of their own workers and soldiers with saliva.
  • AH Dot Com the Series has several, most notably of course the eponymous MES AH.com, which subscribes to the "vast rickety old warship with skeleton crew" setting similar to Red Dwarf.
  • The Concept Ships Blog. Your one-stop-shop for obscenely awesome transportation methodologies.
  • The Dominion and Duchy universe has had several in fourteen 'sections' of the story so far. The main government has a Senate Tower that converts into a starship, what might be a major religious group has the Cathedrum Valencia, which is a flying tower with alabaster wings and holographic clouds swirling around it. There are also the three Earth ships that while not described are the first Earth ships to travel faster-then-light. The majority of the examples on this page are trumped by the Bellacroix. While it is the 'Capital City Ship of the Monolith Group', it is massive. It is described as being the size of the Soviet Union!
  • The Unconstant Lover in The Endless Night is frequently described as a piece of junk but is also one of the most maneuverable cargo freighters in the galaxy due to the bizarre and dangerous modifications it has undergone, making it the perfect pirate spaceship.
  • The setting of The Countryship Yoors qualifies for this. As the same suggests, it's a ship. The size of a country. Of course, which country is never specified...
  • The Idealist, which is the first AI controlled ship created by the Tau Empire.
  • Nexus Gate you yourself can own one!
  • In Pay Me Bug, the protagonist owns one. And he just got a windfall to use in upgrading it, too!
  • Comicron 1 from Atop the Fourth Wall.
  • The Freelancer Project's Mother of Invention from Red vs. Blue is an incredibly cool starship, controlled by an equally cool AI.


Western Animation

  • Transformers Animated the Autobots had a junky old decommissioned warship serving as their mode of transportation. While not that cool, what made it cool was in the last episodes of season 2...where it turns out the big but creaky old ship is in fact a single Transformer, Omega Supreme. There's also Lockdown's ship that has the ability to become invisible.
    • The original series has the Autobots' cool ship the Ark, although it crashes in the very first episode and spends the entire rest of the series being used as a building rather than a spaceship.
    • And the Decepticons' flagship, the battlecruiser Nemesis, which returned in Beast Wars and really showed off her massive destructive ability before crashing in South America, to be rediscovered later by Megatron, who took out its power core to give himself a super-boost of power. Yes, he was empowered by the engine of his personal warship.
    • Transformers Cybertron gives us the Atlantis, Ogygia, Lemuria, and Hyperborea, four ancient Cybertronian starships equipped with loads of guns and self repair systems that keep them in good condition even through millennia of abandonment. The Atlantis was at the bottom of Earth's ocean, the Ogygia and Hyperborea were buried (the Hyperborea did have its temple-styled observation deck exposed, though), and the Lemuria sat for ages with its ventral decks in a lake. They can be merged into a colossal warship called the Ark. There's also Vector Prime, who turns into one.
    • And not to forget the Transformers that turn into spaceships: Cosmos, Sky Lynx, Omega Supreme, Blast Off, Astrotrain, Cyclonus, Scourge...
    • Among the most unique ships is the Quintesson Cruiser, which is a spinning screw shaped ship. Mostly used by the Quintessons, and the Autobots used one and impaled Unicrons eye with it.
    • Transformers Armada got its name for a very good reason. Both the Autobots and Deceptions field fleets of massive starships. One of the most notable are the Axalon and the Hydra Cannon.
  • The ships from Invader Zim.
  • Planet Express Ship in Futurama.
  • Both GPSS Absolutions from Toonami
  • Mator and Captain Roger from the Cars Toons "UFM: Unidentified Flying Mater" and "Moon Mater", respectively.
  • Jumba's spaceship from Lilo and Stitch, which was originally going to be a stolen passenger jet, but was immediately changed into what it is now due to controversy concerning the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • Aya the Interceptor from the Green Lantern animated series is a Green Lantern starship. Oh, and it's the fastest thing ever created by sentient beings.
  • Most ships from the French cartoon Once Upon a Time...Space. The coolest ones were the warships used by the republic of Cassiopeia.


Real Life

  • There is so far nothing in existence that can be called a true "spaceship", i.e, a space-equivalent of an oceangoing vessel, which could be loosely defined as a reusable space vehicle [8] capable of practically traversing interplanetary or at least cislunar distances [9], and not necessarily aerodynamic in any sense or designed to land anywhere[10]. And a true starship - a spaceship which can practically traverse the huge distances between stars - is much farther off. The International Space Station was built and space and stays in space, but it doesn't go anywhere, and even the Apollo command modules were one-shot non-reusable deals. So technically, this trope is not yet Truth in Television. That doesn't stop the following quasi-examples - unmanned probes, surface-to-orbit launch craft, and realistic proposed spaceships which we could (but have not yet) built - from being cool.
  • The Space Shuttles, in spite of their flaws, qualify as "cool", if for no other reason than that they are among the relative few spacecraft actually in use at present (though not by July 2011, when the fleet is to be retired).
    • The flaws have been overstated somewhat. And the other two manned spacecraft currently in use are disposable 3-man capsules with no cargo capacity to speak of - you can't really compare them to humanity's first grappler ship...
  • The massive Saturn V rocket, with the Apollo capsule and lunar lander were awesome.
  • The Proton rocket. Most launchers launch satellites. This thing launches space stations, or at least modules thereof.
  • The Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne was an awesome little white epoxy rocketplane with a unique movable tail/wings combo and blue star decals. The still-being-constructed SpaceShipTwo ups the ante by being silver and black.
    • SpaceShipTwo has now been revealed and, yes, it is still freaking cool.
  • Deep Space 1 was only an unmanned space probe, but it was propelled by an ion engine, several times more efficient than a normal (chemical) rocket.
    • Dawn and Hayabusa are also propelled by ion engines - the latter being the first spacecraft to collect samples form an asteroid and bring them back to Earth, and the former being the first double-orbiter probe - planned to orbit the asteroid Vesta, then leave under power once its done collecting data and fly to the dwarf planet Ceres. Ion engines accelerate much much more slowly than rockets[11] so they can't be used as launch engines, but once in space, their ability to fire for a very, very long time means that they eventually hit velocities far greater than what a rocket with the same amount of propellant could manage.
  • Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 -- so far, among humanity's only starships, together with Pioneers 10 and 11, as they've recently left the Solar System. Bonus coolness points for the fact that they're still working after thirty years in space, plus Voyager 2 being the unique probe that has explored the four outer planets.
  • The Cassini spacecraft, currently in orbit around Saturn. Extra coolness points because she carried a lander -Huygens- that landed in Saturn's moon Titan in January 2005. .
  • Heck, pretty much any real-life spacecraft qualifies as cool, even if only because they're going to be the great-granddaddies of everything you see above. Also, because while everything else listed above might be only plastic/CGI models in real life, these things actually go into space. Can't beat that.
    • And apart from the above craft, which exist, there are plans for spaceships we could build in the near future if we had a reason to - they'd be awfully expensive, probably built in orbit like the $157 billion International Space Station, but unlike the station, they would need to have engines, large amounts of propellant, much stronger shielding and cooling, and a greater stock of supplies for manned missions, if the journey is years long and two-way with no resupply from Earth. And would thus be proportionally more expensive. Notably, chemical rockets of the sort used for launching into orbit would be woefully inadequate for taking manned missions or heavy robotic payloads to other planets, given their terrible fuel efficiency. Any true spaceship would need a far more powerful propulsion system. A few such designs existing today include:
      • Project Orion / Nuclear Pulse Propulsion - a spaceship powered by frickin' nuclear bombs, which works by dropping a nuke behind it, detonating it and riding the explosion using a massive inertial plate at the back of the ship. With thousands of thermonuclear shaped charges, such a ship could conceivably reach a small fraction of the speed of light, making it useful for trips to Mars or the outer solar system, or very slow interstellar travel. Such a ship could feasibly launch from Earth directly, but with... unfortunate and rather obvious side effects. Orion, despite its inelegance, is the most powerful propulsion system presently in existence, and the closest thing we have, at the moment, to a fusion drive.
      • NERVA / Nuclear Thermal Propulsion - a spaceship powered by nuclear thermal engines, which use a fission reactor to heat up and energize a propellant before spitting it out the back at high velocity. There are several versions of the design using solid, liquid and gaseous reactor cores and various different choices of propellant. The reactor would also generate power for the ship when not being used to fire the engines.
      • VASIMR / Electric Propulsion - a spaceship driven by VAriable Specific-Impulse Magnetoplasma Rockets, a type of electromagnetic plasma engine which heats propellant and ionizes hit before accelerating it out through magnetic fields to generate thrust. This of course requires a source of electric power, which can be solar for inner system missions, but would probably require nuclear reactors for outer system or manned missions. An alternative to the VASIMR would be the Magnetoplasmadynamic Thruster (MPDT), which uses different methods - combined electric and magnetic fields - to achieve similar effects. A prototype VASIMR module is slated to be installed on the International Space Station soon, used for station keeping (maintaining orbital altitude) and for testing the properties of plasma propulsion in an actual space environment.
    • One overall proposal for a true deep space ship is the NAUTILUS-X - a large reusable vessel for human exploration of the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and interplanetary space. Designed around modular units, with an integrated centrifuge for creating artificial gravity, to be assembled in Earth orbit like a space station. The proposal is designed to use solar power, and be driven by some manner of ion or plasma propulsion. The Long-Duration variant of the design can theoretically support a crew of six for a two year mission. (The obvious destination for such a mission? Mars.)

Notes

  1. If it really is a star ship, i.e. designed to cross interstellar distances, then it had better have a faster-than-light drive if you don't want to wait several thousand years to get where you're going
  2. Or maybe squid-head-shaped. Poor Admiral Ackbar!
  3. And because space is a virtual vacuum and you don't need to streamline ships in space.
  4. That would be why the Defiant isn't officially classified as a warship
  5. Any time you hear an eerie sound in a Gerry Anderson series, it's produced by composer Barry Gray on his 'Ondes Martenot' synthesizer
  6. and from comparing it to the ~300-meter Covenant Corvette
  7. You can actually name it whatever you want, but that's its default name
  8. Oceangoing ships are reusable - they can be resupplied, and make the same trip several times, or travel to different destinations. A one-shot exploratory craft could be more accurately described as a probe, than a ship.
  9. I.e, they're not limited to the harbor of Earth orbit.
  10. I.e, the vehicle stays in space, although it can deploy landers or shuttles to planetary/lunar surfaces - similar to ocean vessels, which never intentionally come ashore, but can carry small boats or hovercraft which do.
  11. at max. throttle, Deep Space 1's engine produced a third of an ounce of thrust
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