In 1982, Galaxy Quest, a series very much likeStar Trek, was cancelled. Eighteen years later, its washed-up stars are fixtures on the fan circuit, though most of them despise the show, its fans, and each other. Only Jason Nesmith (played by Tim Allen), the egomaniac actor who played The Captain, is still enjoying himself — and the rest of the cast think he's a total jerk (again, very much like Star Trek).One day, a hungover Jason is approached by what he believes to be a group of fans who want him to star in an amateur film. Only when the "film" is over does he realize that it was all real. He had been abducted by real aliens, and taken to a real spaceship, a perfect copy of the show's Protector, where he'd fought a real space battle.When the aliens ask him to pay a return visit, Jason ropes in the rest of the main cast, plus one Red Shirt, for what Jason believes will be more ego-boosting fun. Instead, the actors find that they are the last hope of the Thermians, a race of naïve aliens fighting a losing war, who mistakenly believe that Galaxy Questwas actually a documentary. They now have to play their roles for real, defeating an alien warlord with nothing more than mediocre acting skills.This brilliant, loving parody of Star Trek (with aspects of the film ¡Three Amigos!) hangs a lampshade on most of its tropes. The film won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and the writers accepted the award almost in tears because they were so pleased that the Sci-Fi community "got it" - that the film was a valentine, not a sneer. And some fans consider it an honoraryStar Trek film to begin with (especially because including it in the timeline helps keep the Star Trek Movie Curse straight).
This film provides examples (and in most case parodies) of:
That reception wasn't limited to Trek alumni: virtually any actor in the sci-fi biz treats it like Citizen Kane. For instance, Galaxy Quest comes up during a commentary track for Farscape; the bit that almost made Claudia Black die of laughter was the ship computer. ("No, there is no beryllium sphere onboard")
All Part of the Show: Inverted with the Thermians, who believe the show is a historical record of real events, but played straight with the cast members (especially Jason at first) who thinks that he is participating a fanfilm or photoshoot. Played straight at the end, when the shuttle crashes into the fan convention and Sarris is finally defeated, and the fans look very grateful for the big show put on for them.
Are We There Yet?: In a variation, this is Dane's response to someone else being annoying.
Artistic License - Chemistry: The beryllium sphere. Doubles as a Mythology Gag—the Enterprise uses "dilithium crystals," which were originally called "lithium crystals" until someone remembered that lithium is a real element.
Ascended Fanboy: Brandon the mega nerd is called for help by Jason, who is on the real ship and needs his information and a runaway for landing.
Tommy Webber: Go for the eyes, like in episode 22! Jason Nesmith: It doesn't have any eyes, Tommy! Tommy Webber: Well go for the mouth, then; the throat, its vulnerable spots! Jason Nesmith: It's a rock! It doesn't have any vulnerable spots!
Bad News in a Good Way: "Heeey, guys.... Listen, they're telling me the, uhh, the generators can't take it. Ship's breaking up and all that. Just FYI."
Bamboo Technology/Improvised Weapon: Also lampshaded in the same scene. ("I know! You can make a weapon! Look around you, can you construct some sort of rudimentary lathe?" "A lathe?!?Get off the line, Guy!") From the original Star Trek episode "Arena," in which Kirk made a cannon out of bamboo and gunpowder out of coal and sulfur and whatnot that were lying around the arena.
Subverted with the Thermians, who the cast and audience are lead to believe are handsome humanoids that are also friendly, helpful, and generally benign. They're actually Starfish Aliens using personal appearance generations and are uglier than Sarris and his crew, but still nicer.
The inhabitants of the planet they visit, who appear childlike and cute until the fangs come out.
Becoming the Mask: Over the course of their adventure, the actors become real heroes.
Bizarre Alien Biology: Alexander's room on the Protector contains a toilet designed for his character's biology: it looks like a confusing mess of tubes. The toilet also involves some spikes. The bed consists mostly of spikes that rise out of a block or hard, smooth material. Since bathrooms are one of the things the Show Within a Show never went into, the plumbing is probably standard for Thermians.
Bizarre Alien Psychology: The Thermians have only recently been exposed to the idea of dishonesty. They cannot imagine any reason to say something that is not the absolute truth, and therefore have no concept of fiction in storytelling, leading them to confuse the cast of a Star Trek-like TV show for real-life spacefaring heroes.
Watch Gwen's mouth when she sees the chompers and exclaims "Well screw that!" Clearly the filmmakers had a different second word in mind, which got altered after filming.
When Tommy tells Jason "You are so full of 'it', man!".
To get a lower rating, the filmmakers cut a minor scene which explains Fred and Guy's behavior throughout the movie. It works better for Fred, as his calm demeanor is a better lampshade for Scotty's frantic behavior.
Break the Cutie: Sarris forces Jason to do this to Mathesar by revealing that Galaxy Quest is fiction. This is also part of the backstory. The Thermians were about as peaceful a people as you could imagine, not even aware of the concept of intentionally speaking falsehood. And then they met Sarris.
Bet you forgot about the alien shot out of the airlock.
Brandon needs to take out the trash.
The rock monster. ("It's the simple things in life you treasure.")
Bridge Bunny: Gwen, as a parody. All she does is repeat what the computer says.
Brutal Honesty: One of the Thermians describes the pig-lizard's disintegration from the teleporter very matter-of-factly, much to Jason's dismay.
Buffy Speak: Happens during the first fight against Sarris.
Cannot Tell a Lie: The Thermians have no concept of lying or fiction in their culture. The protagonists learn this the hard way. It gets even worse in that they're beginning to learn about malicious lying from Sarris, but still have no concept of benign fiction not intended to deceive.
Chekhov's Skill: Midway through the film, Jason decides to practice his forward-roll maneuver (just like he did on the show) when the crew first lands on the rock planet. It comes in handy at the end, when he rolls out of the way to shoot Sarris.
The Chick: Gwen really spoofs this. She gives a rant early in the movie about an interview that was mostly about "My boobs and how they fit into my suit." Her character in the in-universe original series plays it straight-for the actress it's an Enforced Trope because the aliens copied her function from the show.
Classically Trained Extra: Alexander Dane. He's not quite an "extra", but he still held a very low opinion of his role. The credits list him as "Sir Alexander Dane", which makes his appearances at Department Store grand openings all the more demeaning. (He once played Richard III, you know. There were five curtain calls.) Alexander himself is played by Alan Rickman, a former Shakespearean actor.
Cliffhanger: The opening Two-Part Episode ends with Cmdr. Quincy Taggart ordering the activation of the Omega-13 device. Then the scene fades to white. Unfortunately, we never get to see the second part of the episode.
Conveniently Empty Building: The parking lot at the end was empty because otherwise a lot of people would be squished by the falling space ship.
Cool Guns: Averted. Sarris' mooks' guns look like submarine sandwiches.
Cool Starship: The Protector, obviously. It's design is also a Fridge Brilliance reference to the Enterprise: instead of a disk-like primary hull and a cylindrical secondary hull, it has a cylindrical primary hull and a disk-like design for its secondary hull(s).
Cowardly Lion: The main cast, with the exception of Jason. Everyone complains that they're simply actors and not up to the job, but manage to brave on anyway.
Death Course: Again, lampshaded and parodied. Jason and Gwen have to navigate a death course complete with jets of fire, giant crushers, and tiny air vents, despite the fact that there is no rational reason for any of those things to be there. Why are they there? Because they were on the original TV show, so the Thermians have replicated them.
Gwen Demarco is definitely Counselor Troi and Commander Uhura. Other female leads had more active roles and this was before Linda Park. The bit about the interview references an actual interview with Jeri Ryan, the actress playing Seven of Nine.
Fred Kwan was easily the most laid back of the group and seemed to just go with everything. Much like James Doohan who not only enjoyed being recognized as Scotty, but definitely enjoyed meeting fans and going to conventions. His only real problem with Star Trek was William Shatner.
A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Thermians in their natural form are pink, squid-like entities. However, with "appearance generator" technology, they are able to change their appearance to appear less foreign to the humans.
Freak Out!: Alexander's panic attack at every convention. You can set your watch by it.
Jason: Hey Sarris, how're you doing? Sarris: (Shows the head of his lieutenant mounted on a stick) Better than my lieutenant!
Game Face: Played for laughs, where the crew encounters some weird baby-looking aliens on a desert planet. One of the cute aliens gets hurt, and the others crowd around it as if to help it get water... only to reveal demonic faces with terrifyingly sharp teeth and devour the thing alive.
Genre Blindness: Everyone except Guy has no idea what to expect in this kind of story.
Sarris defeated the Thermians soundly in the backstory because of it, which he uses to hurt them again in the Break the Cutie moment.
By contrast Sarris' own defeats tend to come because he has zero chance of knowing something (Omega-13, or that the Thermians had based their beliefs on another culture's entertainment), or because he's an actual military leader, not merely pretending ( and thus didn't expect a deft maneuver that'd be suicide for any but the best pilots, from a pilot who nearly crashed the ship as they disembarked. Plus said maneuver was Crazy Enough to Work but would never be tried in real life; the actors did it because that would be the TV method of doing it).
Guy Fleegman berates the others for their Genre Blindness. Ironically, the only thing he is Wrong Genre Savvy about is his status as a Red Shirt. He is the only character who is not mortally wounded before Jason activates the Omega-13.
Guy: Didn't you guys ever watch the show?!
Once shown the "historical documents" Sarris is the only nonhuman character who realizes that he is dealing with actors who have been mistaken for real explorers. This implies that unlike the Thermians, his own race produces entertainment.
Sarris: How adorable. The actors are going to play war with me!
Glory Days: Jason Nesmith hasn't done anything sinceGalaxy Quest. Alexander Dane bemoans that he was a 'proper' Shakespearean ActorbeforeGalaxy Quest.
Hellish Pupils: Sarris's eyes are yellowish-green with dual pupils (one large one and a smaller one next to it).
Heroic Sacrifice: Guy suggests doing this to deal with some of Sarris's mooks, reasoning that if he's going to die anyway it might as well be a worthwhile death. Fred talks him out of it.
Human Aliens: Subverted when it turns out that the cephalopod-like Thermians use "appearance generators" to put the visiting Earthlings at ease (and presumably, to man the Protector II prior to their arrival); much to Fred's delight and Guy's dismay.
Humorless Aliens: The Thermians have no sense of humor, until the end where they laugh at the "trick" Jason pulled off Sarris. "The ship was a model! Only this big!"
I Knew It: In-universe, this is Brandon's reaction when Jason tells him it's all real.
I Know Mortal Kombat: Tommy Webber at the helm and Fred Kwan on the Digital Conveyor. They are both justified because the controls were designed by the Thermians replicating them from the "Historical Documents". In Weber's case, he had worked out in his head what the controls did and applied that consistently throughout the original television show. Also a Shout-Out to Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher, as he did the same thing on the set of Next Generation.
Innocent Aliens: The Thermians. For example, the concept of deception is so completely foreign to them they don't know what actors are.
Interspecies Romance: Fred and Laliari, who decides to go to Earth with her new hubby and star in the reboot under the name "Jane Doe".
Inventional Wisdom: The Chompers. Gwen lampshades how ridiculous it is that there is a Death Course in the middle of the ship.
Ironic Echo: Alan Rickman's character hates his Catchphrase, but says it with real feeling for the first time in decades after Quellek is shot.
Irony: Guy spends the whole movie complaining about being a Red Shirt. When Sarris sneaks on board the bridge of the ship and starts shooting everyone, Guy is the only person he doesn't hit.
The two guys who paid to go to a convention to mock everyone there for having no life.
Is This Thing Still On?/Nonverbal Miscommunication: Jason makes a "cut transmission" gesture to Gwen, then turns around and describes Sarris as being "as stupid as he is ugly", and trying to think of a way to trick him. Unfortunately, Gwen misunderstood the gesture to mean "we're dead," and the transmission kept running (even had she interpreted the instruction correctly, she still wouldn't have known how to follow it).
Jerkass: Some guys Jason heard talking negatively about the show in the restroom.
Further emphasized when you realize they actually paid money to go to a convention just to mock the show, the cast and the fans.
Just in Time: Deconstructed. On the show, bombs only ever stopped when the timer was at 1, so the self-destruct device on the new ship is designed to only stop with one second left no matter when the emergency stop button is pressed.
Killer Rabbits: The beryllium miners. While the rest of the crew is Squeeing about how adorable the child-like alien miners are, the very Genre Savvy Guy worries, "Oh, sure, they're cute now. But they're going to get mean. And they're going to get ugly somehow. And there's going to be thousands of them." Seconds later, he's proved right.
Knight of Cerebus: Sarris is an extremely disturbing villain for a PG-rated movie. A genocidal sadistic torturer who not only guns down most of the main characters but beheads his second-in-command, and, to top it all off, he has a horror-worthy design.
Meaningful Echo: Alexander finally says his catchphrase and means it near the end of the film, when a Thermian who idolized him is killed.
Meaningful Name: Guy's first name is a generic term for a male - which was his role in the show.
Jason Nesmith shares a last name with Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. Despite being a major talent in his own right (he won the first Grammy for a music video, has written famous songs and produced popular movies), he's still most recognized for being in a boy band, lip synching, and not playing his own instruments.
Men Act, Women Are: Parodied and exaggerated by Gwen. In the show, her character's only job on the ship is to make redundant statements to the computer. The Thermians designed the computer specifically to interface with Gwen, programmed with her emotions and tonal ranges in mind, so this trope is not the case on the real ship. It only gives Jason a Mathematician's Answer, but tells Gwen exactly what she wants to know.
Worth mentioning: when TV Guide interviewed Jeri Ryan about playing Seven of Nine, a good chunk of the article was about her costume and how exactly she filled it out. Clearly, the writers did the research...
Sir Alexander Dane: You don't hold the turbo down, it's for quick boosts! Jason Nesmith: Oh, like you know!
No Biochemical Barriers: We see species from at least four planets (humans, the Thermians, Sarris's people and the inhabitants of the mining planet) all coexisting comfortably in each other's environments.
No Name Given: Guy was one of these in the show, identified only as "Crew Member #6". His panic over the fact that this was not unconnected to his Redshirt status leads to him freaking out and apparently forgetting that he actually has a name in real life:
Nobody Here But Us Birds: While the crew is gathering beryllium on the exotic alien planet, Guy suggests to use this as a signal when they're about to split into two groups (one to distract the aliens, one to fly the landing craft).
Nobody Poops: Lampshaded in a Deleted Scene, where one of the Thermians mentions to Alexander that Earth's "historical documents" did not contain any information regarding waste facilities on the ship and "we extrapolated based on your anatomy" — revealing what looked to be the most horrendously painful toilet ever created.
Post-Historical Trauma: When Jason tells Mathesar that they're actors while he's on the torture table, Mathesar is distraught. Their culture doesn't understand acting or fiction and are only able to equate it to lying (which itself was a concept foreign to their culture before Sarris came along). However, after the crew is successful, Mathesar is convinced they really are the crew, and that Jason was lying to Sarris. Some fan theories say that Mathesar knew the truth and was lying for the benefit of his crew.
The Power of Acting: Although they end up using their character's skills for real, their acting does come into play a few times.
Jason and Alex are able to overpower the guards by reenacting one of their scenes: "You're starting to act like you did in episode 17, you scene-stealing hack."
When Jason is fighting the rock monster, Alexander's advice is to attempt to figure out its "motivation". One deleted scene shows Alex "entering the mind" of the rock monster through method acting, deducing that what it really wants is peace and quiet. And, as the climax of the film reveals, he was right.
The Power of Love: Fred refuses to use the digital conveyor on Jason ... until Laliari enters the room.
Precision F-Strike: Unfortunately, Gwen's aghast reaction to the crushy-chompy things - "Fuck that!" - was dubbed to get a PG rating.
Ramming Always Works: Reconstructed. Taggart has the ship launch itself at full speed toward the enemy ship and the enemy notes that with the difference in armor, it would be the ship that's being rammed that would survive, not the ship doing the ramming. However, at the last moment they dodge and allow the mine field they were dragging to take out the enemy ship instead.
Red Shirt: Guy spends most of the film terrified that he will die since it was his only role on show. Inverted, in that when Sarris goes on a killing spree, Guy is the only character not killed or mortally wounded.
He gets upgraded to a supporting character when the show relaunches, even getting name-dropped on the new show's title screen. Although it should be noted that he becomes the security chief, a position held by the late Tasha Yar...
Reset Button: The Omega 13 is a very limited Reset Button as it could turn time back only thirteen seconds. Just barely enough time to fix a major mistake. Fortunately, it wasn't a plot Reset Button. The movie was way too good to try that.
Notable, too, in that the show was canceled before this was discovered, so nobody knows what it does for certain. Rather than rely on the device, the fight's all but over before they use it out of sheer desperation.
Right Behind Me: The Captain insults Sarris after mistakenly thinking the viewscreen connection was turned off.
Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: After Jason Nesmith activates the Omega 13 device, time turns back 13 seconds into the past. Jason alone remains aware of the fact that the person who is about enter the bridge is not really Tech Sergeant Chen but actually Sarris in disguise.
Rock Monster: Captain McTaggart has to fight a rock monster, providing the page quote and image. It's then teleported up to the ship and begins destroying Sarris's army.
Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Doctor Lazarus is a literal rubber forehead alien. In fact, Alexander Dane is never seen without the prosthetic during the entire film, including at home, and even when it's half torn.
Rule of Cool: Since the original show was cancelled before they showed the Omega 13 in action, Brandon and his fellow hardcore fans have a few different theories as to what the Omega 13 actually does — some of which are of mere academic interest, and one of which is scarily awesome. Guess which one actually turns out to be right?
Guy: "Red thingy moving toward the green thingy... I think we're the green thingy."
Serious Business: Gwen had one job on the show. Do not make light of it. You shouldn't make light of it. Never try to cut an actor's lines.
Also seen with the hardcore Galaxy Quest fans and exemplified with the Thermians - who don't understand the concept of not taking something seriously - and have based their entire civilisation on the Show Within a Show.
Alexander's complaints that "...they're not getting me to say that stupid line." are similar to Alec Guiness' complaints in the original Star Wars trilogy. Some accounts mention that it was his idea to kill off Obi-Wan Kenobi so he wouldn't have to say any more of "those damned stupid lines."
Tommy Weber's controls are based on how he operated them on the show. Fortunately, he had taken the time as a kid to figure out consistent hand gestures. Since Tommy is probably at least partially based on Wil Wheaton, this is a straight homage. Wheaton once remarked on how pleased he was that "his" station in the Star Trek Experience worked just like it did in the series, which was made possible because he had worked out his station's interface with Michael Okuda.
Starfish Language: When the Thermians' translators are broken (or not on), their speech sounds like shrieking mixed with Nails on a Blackboard. The DVD release contains a Thermian Language audio track, so you can listen to the ENTIRE MOVIE like this if you wish.
Stylistic Suck: The blur effect when the Protector jumps to hyperspeed.
The cheapo aesthetic of the "real-life" Galaxy Quest show. It's very fun to watch the special features, in which the filmmakers discuss the cutting-edge special effects technology used to film the movie, and then show how they made the in-universe television show look cheaply-made on purpose - complete with a red cyclorama and papier-mache rocks. Director Dean Parisot explains that he put sand on the dolly tracks to make the camerawork look rough.
Though it works perfectly at the very end, when Jason deals the death blow to Sarris (with the gun that this time, he didn't drop).
Unpredictable Results: Nobody knows what the Omega 13 does (the show got canceled on a Cliff Hanger), though the die-hard fans have some theories. One of them turned out to be right. The Thermians based all the technology on what they saw on the show, so Brandon being right was more him having the same conclusion that the Thermians did as they knew no more than what was presented on the show.
Wasn't That Fun?: The friendly aliens' method of transporting the protagonists to their ship can be described roughly as "fly them into orbit at high speed with nothing but a huge blob of jello to shield them". Everyone looks thoroughly traumatized and nauseated by this experience, except for the engineer... who just remarks "That was a hell of a thing."
Guy, as mentioned above. In his attempts to survive, he ends up being indecisive since he sees his eventual death in whatever direction he takes. Would he stay on the Protector as The Team goes planet-bound and gets killed by something lurking inside the ship? Or would he go with The Team and be the one to be killed by a monster five minutes after they land on the planet?
For the guys sans Fred, when Jason gets left behind on the planet with a rock monster coming after him, and the crew, on board the orbiting ship, tries to help him by giving him advice via communicator. Hmm, could have sworn those suggestions worked in the shows....