Many of the sci-fi shows we watch and love have a crucial element in them week-in week-out that is just as important as any cast member, though no actor ever plays it, and, unless the show happens to be named after it, it never gets a mention in the credits.
We’re talking about the cars and spaceships that carry our heroes from adventure to adventure and in some cases are called home. These vehicles are an integral part of the TV shows and films they feature in. And when we lose them, their demise can impact just as much as losing a living breathing cast member… It’s the sci-fi equivalent of having a tornado rip through town.
The only game vehicle in our list is at number ten. The Normandy SR-1 was at the heart of your journey throughout the first Mass Effect game. She was the bucket of bolts that held the crew together literally and emotionally. It was common to spend hours running between decks, chatting with the crew and bedding sexy blue alien ladies. Together you saved the galaxy from a Reaper threat (albeit temporarily) but in the highly charged opening of Mass Effect 2 the Normandy goes down in flames.
No wonder they pulled a Star Trek and built another, near-identical, but significantly bigger Normandy for you to pilot in the sequel. For the gamers out there this should be especially emotional; certain members of the SFX team became all misty-eyed just arguing for its inclusion in this list…
The little ship that could is at number nine. Introduced at the beginning of season three to give our heroes some teeth and a means to get off the station a little more, Worf’s favourite “little” ship went on to be a huge hit with fans. The Defiant looked like no Star Trek ship we’d seen before – our Dave Golder thinks she’s a like the Millennium Falcon crossed with a narwhal – with her over-powered engines, cloaking device and machine-gun-like phaser canons the ship quickly proved her worth.
The Defiant is eventually destroyed in the season seven episode “The Changing Face Of Evil”. Like the Enterprise before her, the lost ship has the honour of having a new ship named after her and sent to replace her. You’ve got to wonder what the crew of the name-changed ships think when this happens…
With only five episodes to go till the end of the series this replacement ship just cheapens the destruction of the original as it basically undercuts the loss. Star Trek really did have a habit of replacing a lost ship with an identical replacement. We saw what they were doing…
After a great first season, the gripping finale ended with the bad guy defeated and Sam and Dean rescuing their long lost Dad, the boys are rightfully in good moods all be it with a wounded Dad. And then suddenly their car – with them and their Dad in it – is sideswiped by a truck driven by a demon possessed driver. This is a perfect shock cliff-hanger ending to a series and left us begging for more.
Now we know the car was repaired, but looking at the state of her after the impact, we didn’t know how much of her would have been left. We’ll probably never know how much of the original Impala was salvaged when Dean rebuilt it. Certainly, in Chuck’s infamous season five monologue about the Impala, he reckons, “Dean rebuilt her from the ground up,” even replicating things like, “the army man that Sam crammed in the ashtray – it's still stuck there. The Legos that Dean shoved into the vents - to this day, heat comes on and they can hear 'em rattle.” Now that’s a true labour of love… or a shameless piece of retconning by a team of writers who'd forgotten that the original Impala was destroyed.
There have been many different takes on Batman’s car. From its early beginnings as just a car in the ‘30’s comics to the different and increasingly bizarre designs seen in the ’90’s film series there have been many Batmobiles. But the one we’re talking about is the Tumbler.
When pictures first emerged of the car design Christopher Nolan had chosen for his reboot of the Batman film series there were many scratched heads. It was such a departure from many of the Batmobiles that had gone before. But as soon as we saw it in action and heard its engine roar we got it. The Tumbler was the perfect vehicle to go along side Nolan’s real world Batman depiction, busting through walls and driving over rooftops the car was an all action behemoth. But it was never going to last long. The beefy car was finally destroyed in an action packed car chase with The Joker in The Dark Knight.
Still at least we got the Batpod out of the wreckage and it looks like there may still be some Tumbler action in the new film…
In 1985 (and 1885, 1955 and 2015) one Doctor Emmett Brown made DeLorean cars cooler than they’d ever been before with the simple addition of a Flux Capacitor. With some blurb about the superconductivity of a car made of stainless steel we easily bought into the idea that it would be the perfect time machine. With its gull-wing doors and stylish lines every fan wanted to own one. And if a time travelling car isn’t enough, the minute we found out the DeLorean could also fly we were all sold.
Through three films and many modifications this car was Marty McFly’s ticket to adventure and the source of much frustration; first needing lightening, then having too much lightening and finally just needing a little petrol, the DeLorean told us that if we intended to travel in time in car we better take some fuel and spare parts along for the ride. After many trips through time the DeLorean is finally smashed to pieces by a passing train after safely returning Marty to his home in 1985 and the glorious adventure was over… Or was it?
Next we have one of the most iconic space ships from British TV. For three seasons of Blake’s 7 the gang’s home and transport was the Liberator. Some say the ship’s design was based on a microphone with bits glued on to hide the fact; others say she looks like a giant space sex toy. Everybody thought it looked like it was flying backwards. Whatever the truth, there was nothing else quite like her. Over her three years in the show this odd looking ship found her way into the hearts of adult and child fans. Who didn’t want to have a little Liberator model when they we’re growing up?
When the Liberator finally met her end in the third series finale, damaged by a corrosive space cloud and captured the Federation, the ship finally blew up, stranding the crew on the planet Terminal. It really was the end of an era for the show. And the Scorpio, the ship they replaced the Liberator with was, design wise, a bit of a poor substitute. Nobody cared when that crashed (even though the FX were much better).
At number four we have our second Star Trek ship. Almost as iconic as her original series predecessor, the Enterprise D is the Star Trek space ship which has been seen in more hours of Trek than any other. After seven years on our TV screens and just after the ship is given a movie makeover, she was destroyed by Lursa and B’Etor flying a clapped out old Klingon bird of prey. “We need a big moment,” thought the film makers, as if killing James T Kirk wasn’t enough… “Let’s blow up the Enterprise!”
But not happy to simply blow the ship up, the film makers have the vessel separate into her two independent parts and then blow up one half while having the other half crash land on the planet Veridian III below. And not even content with that, they then rewind time and show us the crash happening again… It’s like the torture never ends. But Picard doesn’t really care, as he’s says of the D’s replacement; “There’s plenty more letters in the alphabet” The heartless bastard.
As the opening voice-over says “The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. A self-contained world five miles long, it was a place of commerce and diplomacy for a quarter of a million humans and aliens. A shining beacon in space, all alone in the night.”
Over the course of the five years series, the Babylon 5 station was home to the instigators of the fight back against a corrupt Earth government and the rallying point for the war against the Shadows and later birthplace of the Galactic Alliance, so it certainly saw its moments in the glory. But slowly over time all our heroes slowly left the place behind. With it’s epic mission complete the Babylon 5 station was finally taken offline and destroyed in 2281. We aren’t exactly sure why. If you had a five mile long space station wouldn’t you find another use for it? Couldn’t they make it a giant hotel and gambling establishment or something? We’re sure Lando Calrissian would have been interested. Still at least when it went, the station’s creator, J Michael Straczynski, was the one to turn the power off. And who didn’t choke up when those switches were flipped?
At the start of Ronald D Moore’s Battlestar Galactica reboot the eponymous space ship is all ready to be retired. Unfortunately fate, and the Cylons, had something else in mind.
And over the show’s five – or four depending on who you ask – seasons the old ship is put through the ringer again and again. Resisting Cylon nukes, sabotage and stresses far beyond her measure, the ship saved the remnants of humanity time and again. And when it was time to finally say goodbye, boy did she get a good send off.
Unlike her sister ship the Pegasus, which got a terrific action packed send-off, the Galactica got the best of both worlds; not content with just sending the ship off into the night, the show’s makers gave her a great big final battle with serious Cylon ass being kicked and then rewarded the ship with a graceful final flight as well. After a series of beauty shots, which brought a lump to our throats and showed every bump and scrape the ship had suffered on her long journey, she is sent off to burn up in the sun. A fitting end for such a hard working vessel.
There really wasn’t any other choice for our top pick. One of the most, if not the most, iconic space ships ever designed, the original Enterprise from the 1960s show was like no space vehicle seen before, full of graceful lines and exotic angles. Even when stationary she suggests a feeling of motion and speed. The Enterprise was a space ship that all of us have drawn at one point or another when we we’re growing up.
After serving three years on the TV show the ship was given a major movie makeover for her big screen life. The Motion Picture featured a very loving series of beauty shots showing off the remodelled vessel’s stylish new lines and we fell in love with her all over again.
Then in the third Star Trek movie the ship met her end. It was a trade-off; Kirk got Spock back but he had to sacrifice his beloved ship as a result. After being disabled by a bunch of Klingons, led by Christopher Lloyd’s Kurge, the ship was sacrificed to save the crew over the Genesis planet. Kirk and the gang watch from the planet below as the Enterprise explodes and then burns up as she falls into the atmosphere. As he watches his beloved ship die, Kirk utters the words, “My God, Bones... what have I done?” in one of Shatner’s most perfectly delivered lines ever. You broke the hearts of a thousand Trek fans Mr Kirk, and just sticking the letter “A” on some other ship was never the same. Deep down we all knew it wasn’t really the Enterprise. We just knew.
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