Science Fiction Franchises

I spent some time jotting down a few commonalities of various popular Science Fiction franchises. Here’s what I have so far.

Franchise Genre Location Time Aliens Focus Protag Base of Ops Antag
Star Wars Space Fantasy Other Galaxy Past Countless War Soldiers Ship Evil Empire
Star Trek Space Opera Orion spur Centuries in the future Countless Exploration Soldiers Ship Evil Aliens
Babylon 5 Space Opera Orion spur Centuries in the future Many War Soldiers Space station Evil Aliens
Firefly Space Western Distant system Centuries in the future None Crime Criminals Ship Evil Empire
Farscape Space Opera Distant region Present Many Exploration, Escape Fugitives Ship Evil Empire
Eve Online Space Opera Distant cluster Millenia in the future None War, Economy, Exploration Various Ship Everybody else
Mass Effect Space Opera Milky Way Centuries in the future Many War, Exploration Soldiers Ship Evil Aliens
Traveller Space Opera Orion spur Millenia in the future Many Exploration, Economy Various Ship Evil Empire
Known Space Space Opera 40ly Centuries in the future Several Exploration Explorers Planets Various
Battlestar Galactica (2004) Space Opera Milky Way Past None War Soldiers Ship Robots
Stargate Space Opera Milky Way Present Several Exploration Soldiers Earth Evil Aliens
Doctor Who Space Comedy Milky Way Present Many Timetravel Special Ship Robots
Alien Space Horror Close to Earth Centuries in the future Few Horror Soldiers Planets Evil Aliens
Warhammer 40k Space Horror Milky Way Millenia in the future Many War Soldiers Planets Evil Aliens
Dune ? Orion spur Millenia in the future None Politics Nobles Planets Evil Empire
Piper Space Opera Milky Way Galaxy Centuries in the future Some Politics, Exploration Various Planets Various

Now, obviously a few of these entries require  comments:

Dune: Not exactly sure what “genre” this is. I’d say science fiction politics, since the dynastic struggle is a big focus. But then there are also religious/philosophical tones to it. I do have to admit I never could bring myself to finish even the first book, so take this with a grain of salt.

Warhammer 40k: It’s also a space fantasy if there ever was one (Elves and stuff, hello?)

Doctor Who: It isn’t really a comedy, but while it has gotten more “mature”, I still have a hard time taking the show serious. It’s a weird mix, at any rate; it’s kind of a time travel show (though time travel is really only a gimmick), sort of space opera, and sort of zany. The protagonists are The Doctor (a time traveller) who is aided by “everyday people” companions.

Traveller: Did not really have an antagonist per se. The Zhodani work as an “evil empire”. The New Era featured the vampire computer virus.

Known Space: Doesn’t really have an enemy per se. The Pakh protectors, the Kizinti, the Thrint, and so on all count but there is not really one standard enemy. It’s more a series about exploration in my opinion.

Piper: Very similar to Known Space in that there is not one enemy species or polity. The Federation serves as an antagonist in some novels, but is the protagonist in others.

So, what sort of conclusion do we draw from this?

A successful space franchise should either have no aliens at all or a whole bunch of them (and in any case most of them are clearly strange humans in strange rubber suits). It’s set centuries or millenia in the future, covers a large volume of space and features soldiers or rebels who use a spaceship as their basis. No real surprises there.

Of course this ‘research’ is very unscientific, I’d like to include more franchises and a measure of success for each franchise (Star Trek is more successful than Firefly – by far – and thus should probably weigh more in the analysis).


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2 thoughts on “Science Fiction Franchises

  1. You forgot to include 2 of the biggest never heard of before, Dragonfly and Aventus 🙂 Whaddaya say we give Whedon, Moore, and Roddenberry a run for their money?

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