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You Have Ten Seconds To Reach Minimum Safe Distance

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Science fiction has always had a dark obsession with destroying things, and spaceships are a constant target. When not worrying about enemy ships fragging them to pieces, crews have to worry self-destruct sequences, on-board bombs, lousy construction, bad driving, and suicidal commanders who seem hell-bent on piloting their ships to certain death in what we like to call "shipicides." Damn the photon torpedos! Set the engines for ramming speed in our picks of the best ship sacrifices in science fiction.

  • Alien: Blowing up the Nostromo in order to kill one single Alien was one of the biggest (and best) sacrifices in movie history, and the resulting explosion as Ripley flees in the shuttle still stands alone as a perfect example of why you don't need 40 billion rendered polygons showing you just how the ship would look as it broke up into its component atoms. (You can see video of it above.) Plus, you have the audible countdown over the ship's PA system literally beating a ticking clock against Sigourney's ass every step of the way. It worked so good that they decided to repeat it in Aliens.
  • Battlestar Galactica — "Exodus Part 2": Lee Adama's emotional outbursts might not win him another command anytime soon, because when he took over as the helmer of the Pegasus he got complacent and fat. However, he redeemed himself by sacrificing his superior ship (with its fighter-building ability) in order to save the Galactica, his pop, and everyone on the planet below. This still stands as one of the most powerful moments in the show. Just when you think everything is hopeless, the camera pulls extremely far back, and... boom. Pegasus to the short-lived rescue.
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Captains of the Enterprise sure have been careless with their ships. What are they on, Enterprise-Q by now? However, the first time the Enterprise was sacrificed was probably the best. Faced with insurmountable odds, Kirk proves he's best at surviving by activating the ship's self-destruct sequence and letting it take out some nosy Klingons. As he watched it burn to cinders from the planet below, he asks Bones "My god, what have I done." Nothing that Starfleet will court martial him for, apparently.
  • The Fifth Element: Even cruise ships aren't safe in this film, especially when carrying blue-skinned singing divas with stones buried in their stomachs. The poor luxury spaceliner Fhloston Paradise survives an attempt by Zorg to blow it to smithereens, only to find itself blown up moments later by someone with the sense to use a very short timer and not a wonky thing that you deactivate with a hotel cardkey. Cool escape pods, though.
  • Tron: While fleeing Sark and his troops, Tron and his girlriend Yori narrowly escape on a Syd Mead designed Solar Sailer, which rides beams of light around Tronworld. Sark's massive carrier eventually catches up with it and opens up a ship-chomping hole, reducing it to pieces. The best comparison would be if a modern-day aircraft carrier chewed up a catamaran. Sark and the others leave the ship, and he orders it to be derezzed, which is what is really cool about Tron. If you need something, the system can rez it up, and when you're done, you just recycle it.
  • Lost in Space: Bonehead Joey, er... Major West uses remote control to ignite the engines on the superior Proteus, full of futuretech and possibly life-saving equipment in order to get hull-burning space spiders off the Jupiter 2. However, not content to just let them burn up in the engine's wake, he also makes the ship self-destruct. Even though his ship has had its systems majorly trashed by the malfunctioning Robot, he still blows up the first sweet ride they find. Oh, and it manages to make their own ship crash. Genius.
  • The Last Starfighter: When video game expert turned space pilot Alex keys the "Death Blossom" onboard his Gunstar, it turns into a hypersonic laser death machine. However, once it's in the post-orgasmic glow it's rendered dead and useless. They can't even steer out of the way of Xur's approaching ship, which shipicides itself into a moon. However, that bastard Xur got away, never to be caught since the movie didn't get a sequel.
  • Independence Day: This is more of a shipicide from within, but when Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith fly up to the alien mothership and plant the virus, they're basically giving the thing a huge case of indigestion, which it doesn't quite recover from. Sadly (or maybe gladly) I couldn't get a clip from this since three of the Blockbuster stores I visited in Los Angeles don't carry ID4. Lame. But as a bonus, enjoy this clip mashing up Star Wars with Independence Day. Randy Quaid uses the Force.
  • Return of the Jedi: While this one wasn't done on purpose, it's sort of a hilarious "Oops" moment as a rebel A-Wing pilot banzais into the bridge of the Imperial Flagship Super Star Destroyer Executor. This causes the ship to veer out of control and crash right into the the new and improved Death Star. Either that was one extremely lucky hit on the bridge, or whoever built the windshield of that thing needs to be fired. It can withstand the rigors of laser fire and hyperspeed, but can't take the impact of a measly A-Wing? I wonder if that have a transportation safety board that investigates these things.
  • Vanilla Sky: Cameron Diaz gets an honorable mention in this film for tanking her "ship" (okay, a Buick Skylark) off a bridge in an effort to die in a warped suicide love pact with Tom Cruise. Let this be a note to you love 'em and leave 'em types out there: if you scorn someone, they may seek revenge, fuck up your face, and force you to go into a bizarre cryogenic freeze / lucid dreaming / virtual reality state of existence. Just so you know.