11 Star Trek Pet Peeves

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I’m kinda into Star Trek. Moreso now than I was when I was a kid; I was more of a Star Wars fan in my youth, and I think there’s probably something telling about the two franchises that I’ve gravitated more toward Star Trek as I’ve gotten older, but that’s a topic for a different post.

I needed that disclaimer so you know I’m not hating on Star Trek. I love Star Trek. And like anything you spend an inordinate amount of your time thinking about, I’ve come to notice some things about Star Trek that grate on me as I continue watching my way through the universe.

I don’t know if these pet peeves are universal, but I imagine at least some Star Trek fans feel an eye-roll coming on every time they see…

1) Enterprise’s opening theme
The fact that it has lyrics is weird enough. Every single other Star Trek theme (to date, at least) has been instrumental, and they shared a mood that made you aware you were entering the Star Trek universe. Instead of that, the Enterprise theme sounds like a track from a Bryan Adams album that wasn’t good enough to be a single (keep in mind Enterprise ran from 2001-2005).

The show’s creators even realized it was bad; they changed the theme song for season 3. Instead of actually fixing it, though, they turned into the skid and added a faux-folk beat and some meaningless synth backgrounds—and this just when you’re starting to finally get used to the old version, making sure your viewing of the opening remains equally unbearable the whole way through the series.

2) The Universal Translator’s inconsistency
It’s widely discussed that everyone using the UT should look like the characters in a badly-dubbed Kung Fu movie: their lips would still be speaking their native tongue even though you hear English. But okay, reasonable suspension of disbelief—if the UT can alter your hearing of the words into their language, maybe it alters your perception of their lips, too, etc. etc.

But there’s another problem I find even more befuddling. In every series after Enterprise, we can assume each species is always speaking its own language. So why are some words left untranslated? Is there a “I’m conducting a religious ritual” setting on the UT that lets you temporarily turn it off? What about when one of the Klingons greets each other with “Q’Plah!” or angrily shouts a curse?

From a storytelling perspective, the answer’s probably one of atmosphere—the speaking of the alien language gives the scene a specific flavor (also when you’ve got a pretty toy like the Klingon language laying around, it’s hard not to play with it). Still, though, technologically speaking, it’s an annoying inconsistency.

3) The obligatory ladies man
It all started with Kirk: the handsome, charming spaceship captain, as charismatic as he is powerful, seeking out new life and promptly fucking it. In subsequent series, the role was shifted away from the captain, to the First Officer in TNG (William Riker) and the Chief Engineer in ENT (Charles “Trip” Tucker).

Enterprise is one thing. Humans are just getting their space legs; of course there’ll be mistakes. But for any series from TOS on, why the hell does Starfleet still allow this to happen? Considering that inter-species mating is possible, you would think Starfleet would want its senior officers, especially, showing a bit more discretion on their travels. This is aside from the plethora of STDs you could pick up on another planet; Kirk probably Space Herpes across half the Alpha Quadrant.

And it’s not just a matter of whether they have sex or not. When the Enterprise-D encouters the androgynous J’naii (TNG Ep. 05.17 “The Outcast”) Riker falls in love with Soren, one of the rare members of their race who identifies as a gender (female, in her case). As a result of this, Soren is outed and sent to a “re-education” camp. This interaction at least went better than when Enterprise NX-01 encountered the tri-gendered Vissians (ENT Ep. 02.22 “Cogenitor”), when Trip’s interference causes one of the third gendered Vissians to kill itself.

All of the sexual encounters show in Star Trek are with warp-capable species, so I suppose the Prime Directive doesn’t strictly apply, but Starfleet’s policy of non-interference seems to hit a major snag as soon as romance is involved.

4) Worf’s love triangles
The long-burning flame of Troi’s relationship with Commander Riker added some depth to their characters; the emotional bond between Troi and Worf over Worf’s son, Alexander, made a certain amount of sense. Bringing the two together, though, just felt awkward and forced. The whole plotline is ultimately unnecessary, besides, considering both Riker and Troi had their fair share of other sexual encounters—some of them very emotionally charged—that explored their previous relationship and lingering emotions.

Worf’s relationship with Dax makes slighty more sense from a character perspective than his relationship with Troi; it’s Bashir’s consistent unrequited pining—extending past Jadzia’s death to Ezri, once she joins the crew—that makes the unnecessary third leg of this love triangle. There’s plenty going on with Bashir in later seasons of DS9, and no reason to keep him stoking that flame even after she’s been first married and then killed.

5) Anything in the mirror universe
The first instance of the mirror universe was in TOS, and was—as many TOS episodes are—an extended allegory describing the dark potential of humanity. The problem with this kind of allegory is that its continuity doesn’t stand up in repeated viewings because it doesn’t make sense with itself, problems that grow more pronounced the more time is spent in this setting.

If the people in this universe are the opposite of those in the main universe, the same individuals shouldn’t exist in both. There’s no Jake Sisko, for example, in the mirror universe, so why wouldn’t that have happened in previous generations, leading to others of the DS9 crew not existing? The problems of difference would be compounded with each successive generation until the mirror universe world is no longer recognizable. And for that matter, why do transporter malfunctions, anomalies, etc send people only to this one alternate reality as opposed to any others?

If this were any other series I wouldn’t be as bothered, but it’s Star Trek, and in DS9 every instance of the mirror universe feels like a silly gimmick that simply doesn’t stand up to the rest of the series.

6) The “are they dead?” fake-out
Star Trek isn’t Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead; it is not a show with an established history of killing off major characters. Exactly two senior officers die in the course of all the TV series combined: Tasha Yar in TNG and Jadzia Dax in DS9 (who only half-counts, anyway, because the Dax simbiant survives in Ezri).

So while you can’t blame the characters in the show for being concerned for their comrades when something goes awry, the dramatic up-playing of dangerous situations for the major characters feels a bit like crying wolf. It doesn’t take long until you stop believing it.

7) The cross-season “To Be Continued…”
In general, I like the concept of the multi-part episode that allows a story arc a bit more time to breathe—except when that “To Be Continued…” (TBC) spans across the seasons. To me, that kind of cliffhanger feels like a trick to make the viewer keep watching the show the next season.

TNG does its first cross-season TBC between seasons 3 and 4—and then does it at the end of every season that follows. It becomes predictable, and it’s unnecessary. By the late seasons, the show’s viewers are already committed; they don’t need to be enticed to come back for more. Voyager also has 4 TBCs between seasons (2-3, 3-4, 5-6, and 6-7) following TNG’s example. By the time Enterprise came around, the writers seem to have realized the device was played out; there’s a TBC at the end of the first season, but not at the end of the second or third.

8) The anomaly
Spacial anomalies, subspace anomalies, temporal anomalies—every time something super weird happens (that’s not caused by the Q) it’s an anomaly. It reaches the point Starfleet should probably find a different term for anomalies, because they don’t seem nearly as anomalous as the term would suggest.

I reserve a special ire for the types of anomalies that set up “it was just a dream” episodes. The prime example of this is the Enterprise episode “Twilight” (Ep 03.08), in which Captain Archer picks up subspace brain parasites after being hit by a spatial anomaly in the Delphic Expanse. The episode fast-forwards 12 years through the destruction of Earth by the Xindi—only to reveal at the end that eliminating the parasites wipes out those 12 years, taking the show back to the moment Archer was infected, the science-ish version of “…and then he woke up, and none of it had really happened.”

9) The unhelpful analogy
These typically involve conversations with chief engineers and go something like this:

Geordi: If we adjust the shield’s resonating frequency to compensate for the warp field we should be able to navigate directly through the subspace anomalies.
Riker: Just like filling a balloon with air to make it float to the top of a lake.
Geordi: Exactly!

…which it’s not like that; not at all. Obviously Star Trek isn’t the only offender on this front; space-themed documentaries do this, too, using analogies and metaphors the human brain couldn’t possibly comprehend, that don’t even sum up the point all that accurately to begin with.

10) The Federation’s smug utopia
From the Kirk era onward, humanity has developed to the point we no longer use currency and our world is free of poverty, war, discrimination, and pollution.

Which is fine—more than fine, in fact; we can only dream of a time that our world is so peaceful and prosperous. What bugs me is when members of the Federation treat other civilizations who are not quite so “advanced” with the exact same kind of condescending superiority the Vulcans show toward the humans in Enterprise. The Ferengi in DS9 are constantly criticized by members of Starfleet for being so profit-driven; in that same series, the Bajoran religion is discounted even though they consider Captain Sisko their Emissary. Any one-off species encountered who are more violent or divided than our big happy Earth family are given the same speech, about how humans used to be that way but are now better. For all their talk of “infinite diversity in infinite combinations” (IDIC), the Federation seems to have a somewhat limited perception of just what that diversity should mean.

 11) The human exceptionalism
Speaking of IDIC, it’s subverted by the human characters in another way throughout the series. Humanity is shown as the standard against which all other species and worlds are judged. I wrote about this a bit in my post about Star Trek and AI, but it’s not just artificial life that’s urged to be more “human.” Captain Picard at one point compliments Worf by saying he has a lot of humanity—as if he’s a good individual despite his “Klingon-ness,” rather than because of it. The Ferengi are treated the same way. Rom and Nog are the most sympathetic because they care more about human values (equality, justice, etc) than Ferengi ones (profit); Quark’s character development shows him becoming more sympathetic the more “human” he gets.

It’s that way across species: Spock and T’Pol are praised when they defy logic in favor of emotion; Odo is the only good guy changeling because he likes the solids; Garak and Ziyal are the only consistently “good” Cardassians because they’ve eschewed their own cultures to be more like us. This feels like the galactic equivalent of the current attitude in the US—praising diversity as a concept, in the abstract, but when it comes down to practicalities, still supporting the idea that there is one correct way to exist.

 

 

GoT Season Six: 11 Key Takeaways

If you’re not caught up through the GoT season six finale: Brace yourself. Spoilers are coming.

I’ve had a few days to process the sixth season and have engaged in two solid drunken debates on all the major points, which means I’m ready to look back on the season as a whole. It was the first season all of us smug book readers were just as clueless about what would happen as the TV only crowd, with all but a few minor plot points pushing beyond A Dance with Dragons territory, uniting the fanbase in suspense and speculation. It also brought back some characters we haven’t seen for years, successfully advancing every single running plot. Loose threads were not necessarily tied up but were at least woven back into the picture, a masterful bit of plot-wrangling considering how vast this world has become and how many characters there are.

A lot happened this season, and I’m sure there will be at least one rapt attention re-watch in store for me in the coming months to comb for minute details that can be the germs of my new fan theories. In the mean time, this season gave us a lot to chew on at the macro level, along with some important life lessons, such as:

1) When in doubt, kill it with fire
The Targaryen family motto is “Fire and Blood,” so of course it’s Dany’s go-to, whether she’s executing every Dothraki Khal or taking out the slaver’s fleet with a muttered dracarys. But our Khaleesi isn’t the only one who likes to watch the world burn. Up north, burning a body is the only way to keep it from turning into a White Walker, and fire is the Children of The Forest’s preferred method for killing their creations-turned-enemies. And then of course there’s Cersei, who takes a page from the Mad King’s handbook (because he was a great role model for successful leadership) and simply blows up the sept when the High Sparrow and his Faith Militant gets too big for her to control.

2) Unintended consequences are a bitch
…which is a pretty big theme throughout the series but especially true in this season. Obviously King’s Landing is full of this—the political interplay of Cersei and Margaery with the High Sparrow ultimately leads to Cersei blowing up the sept and Tommen’s subsequent suicide. Bran, though, is a newcomer to accidental fuck-ups. It’s his rogue tree-talking that brings the Night King down on them, and his interest in young Hodor that makes him Hodor in the first place (in a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey twist), though you could argue that Bran’s unintended consequences were more like destiny considering Hodor’s role in getting Bran north of the wall in the first place (time paradoxes FTW).

3) Revenge is sweet (and well-choreographed)
Remember the Red Wedding? Of course you do. Remember the ways everyone was killed? Robb was stabbed in the gut and shot through with arrows while Catelyn’s throat was slit. The three men responsible for orchestrating this betrayal have since been systematically picked off: Tywin Lannister, who was killed all the way back in the season four finale with a crossbow bolt; Roose Bolton, stabbed by Ramsey in pretty much the same way Roose stabbed Robb; and Walder Frey, whose throat is slit by Arya in the finale (anyone know why she’s allowed to use the faces? Part of a “at least you tried being no one” consolation prize? Did she slip a few into her pocket on the way out? A girl is baffled). Speaking of vengeance, Sansa’s ice cold delivery of Ramsey’s fitting puppy chow comeuppance in “Battle of the Bastards” is the capstone on her evolution into Lady Stark (more on her later).

4) All the characters apparently have transporters (oops wrong franchise)
I get that traveling isn’t the most exciting thing to show on screen, and there’s no way to say for sure how the chronologies of the major players align (just because one scene follows another in the episode doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happening concurrently, etc). Still, this season in particular said “fuck it” to little things like how long it takes to travel by ships or horseback. This started with Sansa and Brienne getting from Winterfell to the Wall in all of ten minutes and culminates in Arya’s appearance at Walder Frey’s side one episode after she’s seen in Braavos. It’s not just a Stark thing, either—the journeys of Jaime crossing the Riverlands, Varys sailing from Mereen to Dorne, and Yara/Theon taking an entire fucking fleet from the Iron Islands (off the western coast of Westeros) to Mereen (east of Westeros and across the sea) are all just poofed away. The only one who seems to be exempt from this rule is Sam, who was still sailing to Horn Hill until episode six.

5) The title sequence reveals more than we realize
This is one I can’t take credit for, but it’s a big one. Crystal Ro over at Yahoo! made the observation that the chandeliers inside the Citadel library in Old Town look identical to the big bright spheres adorned with house sigils in the opening credits. These chandeliers have lenses around them, which appear eerily similar to the “focus wipe” between map locations (click on over to Ro’s article for some gif action). This of course opens up a whole new realm of speculation. Is the steampunk map in the credits something that exists in the Citadel library? Or is the implication more far-reaching, indicating the Citadel has a lot more control over the course of Westerosi politics than we realize? Do the Maesters in each castle actually have a bigger end-game than giving advice? It’s a good time to give fans more to speculate about, since some popular fan theories have come to fruition this season, including…

6) R + L = J
It’s always a nice feeling as a fan when your theories turn out to be right. Bran’s vision of the Tower of Joy shows Lyanna dying in childbirth then entrusting her newborn son to her brother Ned, with a quick-cut to Jon’s face ensuring even the densest viewer understands the connection. Now that it’s confirmed, Jon’s right to the Stark name is unquestionable, and his Targaryen blood could make for some interesting plot movements going forward.

7) …and Coldhands is Benjen (at least in the show)
He didn’t ride in on an elk (more’s the pity) but based on the circumstances of his appearance and his role in getting the new Three-Eyed Raven south, Benjen Stark’s re-entry into the plot is at the very least the show’s homage to Coldhands. A note from GRRM to his editor on a manuscript of A Dance With Dragons pretty clearly debunks the  Coldhands/Benjen connection in the books, but the show world is getting progressively more different with each passing episode. In this instance, I think it’s fair to say the show’s producers took a fan theory and ran with it.

8) Sansa finally took a level in badass
We’ve all been waiting for the eldest Stark daughter to live up to her family name. She didn’t wise up after Joffrey’s abuses and stayed relatively naïve through Littlefinger’s machinations, but Ramsey’s true bastardness succeeded where they failed. Sansa has been hardened into the Lady Stark that Winterfell needs to get them through what will surely be a bloody winter. Better late than never, right? Speaking of late bloomers, we’ve also learned that…

9) Theon’s more of a man without his dick
The Theon Greyjoy of season one was a womanizing douchebag. The Theon Greyjoy of seasons two and three was a traitorous, weak-willed princeling in way over his head. Post-castration Theon not only helped Sansa escape from her hellish captivity but  returned to the Iron Islands and threw his lot in with his sister, Yara, facing both her anger and his people’s judgment with his head held high (and delivering a rousing, if unsuccessful, speech in her favor). In season six, we see Theon standing up for his principles and making amends for his past, the first positive progress for his character the entire show.

10) …but Edmure’s still a pussy
Maybe the Freys just didn’t treat him badly enough to push Edmure into the kind of character transformation that both Sansa and Theon underwent after their respective tortures. Regardless, Edmure hands Riverrun to Jaime without so much as a second thought, ultimately getting the Blackfish killed and pretty much ending any hope House Tully had of surviving past this generation. Still, as dire as House Tully’s situation is, they’re not the only family for whom…

11) Shit just got real
…and that’s saying something for a show that’s consistently slaughtered characters indiscriminately. Exhibit A is the combined Targaryen/Greyjoy fleet now headed across the Narrow Sea to Westeros. Dany’s path to the throne is much clearer than it once was thanks to the newly-formed alliance with both Dorne and Highgarden (and Cersei’s remarkable ability to make the worst possible decision). Most of the political power in King’s Landing went down in flames at the Sept of Baelor, and Jaime’s looking like he’s finally having second thoughts about choosing Cersei over Brienne (although he might have to fight off Tormund if he hopes to rekindle things with his Maiden Fair). Exhibit B is the seemingly imminent Stark family reunion. Jon and Sansa have re-taken Winterfell, Bran’s coming south from the Wall, and Arya’s not too far away in the Twins (and doesn’t she still have a wolf out there somewhere? Ghost needs a buddy). Exhibit C: The Night King (along with his zombie army) whose march south isn’t likely to meet any resistance from the Night’s Watch that’s fallen so far Dolorous Ed is its Lord Commander (I mean, I like the guy but come on now).

 

Where will season seven take us? If Jon stays true to his stated objective, he’ll return to fighting the White Walkers now that Winterfell is safe. An alliance with Dany—who has dragons, which make dragonglass, which kills White Walkers—only seems logical. If Jaime really is getting cold feet, a few words from his favorite little brother might just see the last remaining Lannisters helping to bring Cersei to her long-awaited demise. It doesn’t seem like Dany’s going to have much trouble at all taking the Iron Throne. It seems to me season seven will be more of a “Song of Ice and Fire” than it will a “Game of Thrones,” with the political machinations taking a backseat to the supernatural threat beyond the wall. As always, though, we’ve got ten months to discuss amongst ourselves before we get to WAFO.

Knights of Badassdom does not, in fact, suck (and 11 reasons why)

I’m historically slow on the uptake when it comes to watching movies, so even though I got really excited when I saw this was going to be a thing back in 2013, it took me until a couple days ago finally get around to it—and I was glad I did. It struck me as a comedy-horror mash-up that fits alongside personal favorites like Slither and 2001 Maniacs, except with even more to satisfy my deeply ingrained nerdiness.

So I was pretty surprised when I consulted the internet post-viewing and saw a host of posts talking about how terrible and disappointing this movie is. I am admittedly a connoisseur of cheesy gore, and I came into the movie with an almost complete lack of expectations, making me a difficult viewer to disappoint. But there’s really a lot to love about this movie, including:

1) The geek factor
So there’s the LARPing, which is kind of one pinnacle of geekdom, but aside from that this movie is chock full of references and moments to make nerds squee. Tons of D&D jokes (obvs) that gave me nostalgic joy, and so many perfect moments (the running gag of the map, the group name, the two guys trying to identify the demon while it’s killing literally everybody, etc). Even the casting is a nerdgasm, featuring such actors as…

2) Peter Dinklage
If you’ve always wanted to see Peter Dinklage holding a bong that’s pretty much as tall as he is, you’re in luck (and you have, even if you didn’t know it until this very moment). Also he’s tripping on mushrooms for a good portion of the movie, wears chainmail (probably fake, since it’s a LARP, but still cool) and fights a demon (not fake, because plot reasons, and definitely cool).

3) Summer Glau
Remember in Serenity when River goes all crazy on the Reavers and you’re sitting there thinking “Damn, I knew she was a badass”? Summer Glau’s character in KoB, Gwen, is a badass from the start. Aside from the hulking Gunther she’s clearly the best fighter in the main group. She’s an exciting character for all us female geeks—the chick who’s allowed to be both strong and attractive, and who does the rescuing instead of needing to be rescued.

4) That it’s so metal
I’m not only talking about the fact that the main character is a metal singer, or even the fact that the big event of the weekend is called the Battle of Evermore. There are scenes in this movie that would fit just as well in a Deo video (Holy Diver, anyone?) and Gunther is one of the most metal characters ever to grace the screen. There’s always been a strong connection between metal music and fantasy, but it usually goes the other way—songs about epic battles, like the one name-dropped by the LARPers—and it’s fun to see the inverse.

5) The death scenes
There’s a high body count, and most of the deaths are fabulous. The first (death by jaw removal) is maybe the best, but there’s also some solid “rip your heart out (literally)” moments, and Danny Pudi’s bathroom bloodbath is a pretty epic way to go out.

6) The relationship metaphor
Okay, yes, I know, this is probably going way deeper than the movie really meant to, but hear me out. In the beginning, it’s Joe’s metal singing that makes Beth break up with him—she wants him to be different than he really is. Then the succubus is accidentally summoned and takes on Beth’s form (who doesn’t think of their ex as hellspawn the days after a bad breakup?) and it’s Joe’s metal singing that ultimately defeats it. The message: Joe chooses to stay true to himself instead of changing for the sake of a relationship, and in the end it means he saves himself—and the world.

7) The genre bending
One of the reasons people were so disappointed by KoB is that they didn’t think it was a very scary horror movie. And on that point, people were right; it wasn’t scary. But they were also wrong, because it’s not a horror movie—or at least, not just. If genres were ingredients in a recipe, it would be one part horror, one part romance, one part fantasy, and three parts comedy. It uses tropes from all of these genres, but it doesn’t completely follow the rules of any of them. And speaking of tropes, this movie is also great for…

8) The trope mocking
Like any good rom-com, it’s got a meet cute (that look Gwen and Joe share while he’s being “killed” by Hung). From the horror world, we’ve got unhelpful redneck cops (the paintballers), a killer lurking in the woods (the succubus, who’s also the horny devil), and the pick ‘em off technique (a la most slasher films). The fantasy/action tropes include most of the characters taking a level in badass, a satisfying lock and load montage, and of course Joe’s death metal singing qualifies as Chekhov’s skill. The characters are pretty much all tropes, too: The rich slacker (Eric), the stoner (Hung), and the wannabe Prince Charming (Ronny) are all included.

9) The use of language

Joe: Needst is not a word.
Hung: Where we are, it is.

When the LARP is going on, the characters speak “Dorkinese,” or “Ye Olde English” as I’ve alternatively heard it called. This results in one fantastic subtitled exchange between the two battle leaders; the other characters use it with varying degrees of success. There’s also an invented language (Enochian) with a pretty solid backstory (conveyed by Ronny when he sees Eric’s book).

10) The demon
Once the succubus goes into full-on demon mode, she looks like the perfect kind of ridiculous. There’s a sharp-toothed grin, a solid pair of horns, and a quality sideways belly-mouth. Also loved the fact that it was a costume instead of CGI—I know that’s a minor detail, but it really gave the baddie that old-school B-movie feel.

11) The final battle

(Spoilers, if you care)

Speaking of the demon, it takes all our heroes, a few of our villains, and a surprise back from the dead appearance from the Dinks (now new and improved with badass glowing eyes!) to finally vanquish the foe. Also fabulous: the fact that a real demon shows up at a LARP battle, the fact that the heroes show up just too late to really save the day, and the fact that asshole redneck cop gets his head ripped off, bringing him to a satisfying end. The effects on the hellspawn stormcloud are just the right amount of bad CGI to top it all off.

(/spoilers)

 

…not every movie should be judged on the same rubric. This is not Lord of the Rings. It’s not deep, it’s not big budget, and it’s not supposed to be the Next Great Movie. It’s a modern B flick, and it does “so bad it’s good” better than any other film I’ve seen in the past five years. We geeks have a tendency to sometimes take ourselves too seriously—exactly the attitude most of the LARPer characters are there to mock. If you take this movie seriously, you’re going to be disappointed; if you want to get super baked and kill 90 minutes, find this on Netflix, because you’re in for a treat.

Apocalypse survival dream team

So being on the road bound for the AWP conference in LA means I’ll be missing tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead (and avidly avoiding any social media where spoilers could happen). To make up for this lack of zombies in my life, I’ve been thinking about which fictional characters would be best suited for the apocalypse. Mind you, we’re not necessarily talking about a zombie apocalypse here. Whether it’s the desolate loneliness of The Road or I Am Legend or the feudal savagery of Mad Max, surviving post-apocalypse takes a certain set of skills, and after much painstaking consideration, I’ve determined the 11 fictional characters I think would make the best team.

I set two rules as I embarked on this thought experiment:
1) Only one character from a given franchise (I can’t just take the whole X-Men team)
2) No characters from apocalypse survival books, shows, or movies (because that’s cheating)

So without further ado, my Apocalypse survival dream team:

 

The War Doctor (Doctor Who)
I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t take advantage of Time Lord technology (and a TARDIS). The Doctor would be happy to help—given how much he loves Earth and humans, he’d probably show up as soon as the world started ending. Of all the Doctor’s regenerations, the War Doctor has the best mentality for a survival situation. He knows he can’t save everybody and he’s willing to make the tough choices.

 

Odo (Star Trek: Deep Space 9)
The security chief of Deep Space 9 is a shape-shifter, undoubtedly a useful talent in dealing with a whole host of threats. He doesn’t need to eat, another helpful attribute when resources are scarce. Along with his physical attributes, Odo can read people better than most true humanoids. Having spent many years thinking he was the only one of his kind—and under the hostile eye of the Cardassians—Odo knows a thing or two about surviving.

 

Nynaeve (The Wheel of Time)
Medical supplies aren’t easy to come by in the apocalypse and trained doctors are an even rarer commodity. Trained in the Yellow Ajah of the Aes Sedai (the Healing powers branch of the magic users in the Wheel of Time series) Nynaeve is the strongest healer her world has seen in centuries. She could keep everyone in tip-top shape, no antibiotics needed. She also knows how to forage for herbs, and thanks to her strength in the One Power, would be a powerful asset in a fight.

 

Liet-Kynes (Dune)
Liet-Kynes was born and raised among the Fremen—arguably a harsher survival scenario than those presented in most apocalypses. Even more valuable, though, is Kynes’ green thumb. As the Imperial Planetologist to Arrakis, Kynes helped make green things grow in the harshest desert climate. Even if we’re talking nuclear fallout he could figure out a way to make the fields flourish.

 

Beetee (The Hunger Games)
The collapse of our technology-infused society would leave behind millions of computers, phones, and other machines. Useless to most people, but to an inventor and tinkerer like Beetee it’s the raw material for all kinds of gadgets and tools. Beetee survived two Hunger Games and an armed revolution by virtue of his ingenuity; regardless of its nature, the apocalypse would probably be just another day at the office.

 

Beatrix Kiddo (Kill Bill)
Over the course of the Kill Bill movies, the Bride is shot in the head, buried alive, and faces off against a mob of angry Japanese assassins. She’s a trained assassin herself, just as deadly with her bare hands as she is with a blade or gun. The tenacity with which she pursues her revenge through the movies shows she won’t give up, either, when things are tough.

 

Luke Cage (Cage, Jessica Jones)
If we’re talking a zombie apocalypse, Cage’s unbreakable skin means he doesn’t have to worry about getting bitten. Super strength adds to his usefulness and badassery. Cage is one of those roving super-heroes of the Marvel universe. Sometimes he’s the star and he can handle shit on his own, but he also teamed up with the Fantastic Four, the Defenders, and the Avengers at various points, showing he’s just as good as part of a team as he is solo.

 

Wolverine (X-Men)
Built-in weapons are a handy thing to have when it’s every man for himself. The adamantium skeleton and super speedy healing would be pretty handy, too, and while the idea of a zombie Wolverine is pretty damn terrifying, he’s too good of a survivor to ever let himself be turned.

 

Daenerys Stormborn (with her dragons) (A Song of Ice and Fire)
The intimidation factor of three fire-breathing dragons alone is worth the trouble of keeping them fed. Even if the Mother of Dragons didn’t have her children, though, she’s pretty badass in her own right. When she was sold to Khal Drogo as a teenager, Dany was little more than a slave; within a few months, she was a queen. Dany’s a natural leader who’s been in survival mode since she was born, giving her the ability to adapt to any situation.

 

Huckleberry Finn (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
Even a child in the 1800s knows how to survive without technology better than a modern person, and Huck Finn is no normal kid. He’s been outside society his entire life; the apocalypse won’t be much of an adjustment. Throughout his adventures, Huck is also pretty good at getting himself out of trouble—and though he typically is the one who got himself into it in the first place, the rest of the group should be able to help keep him in line.

 

Angus MacGyver (MacGyver)
Not only would MacGyver probably solve the apocalypse with a drinking straw and a paperclip, he’s got mad skills that would keep him—and everyone around him—alive. He knows how to think on his feet and use the tools and resources at hand to solve the problem. The fact that he uses violence only as the last resort also makes him a great moral compass, a necessary figure in any apocalypse survival scenario.

 

…and with those 11 guys (and gals) at my side, I’m pretty confident I’ll come through the apocalypse just fine. Who would you take with you to the end of the world? I’m sure I’m missing someone obvious, so let me know in the comments!