Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles was a CGI animated television series, based on both the novel by Robert A. Heinlein and the 1997 film adaptation directed by Paul Verhoeven, who served as executive producer for the series. It follows the exploits of the Mobile Infantry squad, “Razak’s Roughnecks,” during the SICON–Bugs War, between a newly united humanity and an extraterrestrial race, the “Bugs” (also sometimes referred to as Arachnids, although this is a misnomer, as the aliens are not related to Earth arachnids). The show focuses mainly on the missions in which the squad participates, rather than addressing the larger war.
The show was geared towards an adult-oriented science fiction audience without being too violent, mature, or controversial for the age group that typically watches Saturday morning cartoons. The series aired for one season on BKN beginning in August 1999, and in syndication in the United States and Canada. It was later picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel in the US, and Teletoon in Canada. The entire series is available to be streamed on Netflix and Crackle in the US, along with several Minisodes. Despite its short run, the series was critically acclaimed by its fans, and has since retained a cult following.
The show combines elements of Paul Verhoeven’s film and the original novel, such as the extraterrestrial race known as the Skinnies, powered armor suits, and drop pods. The series also adds some original elements (e.g., the war starts on Pluto), while omitting the political aspects of the original work and film.
When the Mobile Infantry defeats an infestation of Bugs on Pluto, the world is united as the Strategically Integrated Coalition of Nations (SICON) declares war on the insectoids.
The main story focuses on a group of troopers known as Alpha Team – otherwise known as Razak’s Roughnecks – who are headed back to Pluto after Operation Pest Control.
After destroying Bug City on Pluto, SICON soon discovers that the Bugs are not native to Pluto after seeing a giant Transport Bug. They track it to the planet Hydora, which orbits a star in the Constellation Virgo and encounter a Brain Bug, an intelligent Bug that controls the other castes so they won’t go insane and destroy each other. The Bugs are planning to take control of the entire universe and won’t stop until the human race is extinct.
SICON attempts to set up a base on the planet Tophet, inhabited by a species nicknamed Skinnies. The Skinnies, however, have been enslaved by the Bugs to mine Xylon, a precious mineral used for Transport Bugs. The Mobile Infantry are able to destroy the Control Bugs controlling the Skinnies and free Tophet, but the victory costs them their comrade Carl Jenkins, who has been put into a state of mental trauma. The Skinnies soon enlist in SICON to fight the Bugs, mainly due to their lack of interstellar technology.
SICON soon discovers the existence of the Bug homeworld Klendathu. They attempt to destroy the Bug Queen but she escapes, headed for Earth. Her Transport Bug is destroyed before she reaches the human homeworld, but she nevertheless makes it to Earth. With numerous battles on the home front, and the arrival of Bug reinforcements, the battle has only just begun.
The series is divided into story arcs or “campaigns,” usually with five episodes each. Each campaign takes place at a different location. In the DVD release, each campaign is on a single disk.
- The Pluto Campaign (5 episodes) Takes place on the dark and frigid planet Pluto.
- The Hydora Campaign (5 episodes) Takes place on Hydora which is almost entirely covered by water.
- The Tophet Campaign (5 episodes) Takes place on Tophet, a desert planet which is home to the Skinnies.
- The Tesca Campaign (5 episodes) Takes place on the jungle moon of Tesca Nemerosa.
- The Zephyr Campaign (5 episodes) Takes place on a frozen asteroid.
- The Klendathu Campaign (5 episodes) Takes place on the Bugs’ home world Klendathu.
- Trackers (5 episodes) 1st takes place on the journey from Klendathu to Earth. 2nd and 3rd are episode recap. 4th is Rico floating through space, pretty much a recap. 5th is an investigation on Razak, more recap.
- The Homefront Campaign (5 episodes; 4 others planned but never completed) Takes place on Earth.
With some exceptions, each episode covers a specific mission within the larger campaign.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: