Interplanetary heroes are very cool on their own–they get to travel the mysterious and dangerous vacuum of space, explore hitherto unknown planets, and battle villains bent on galactic domination. But the protagonists of our favorite space-based sci-fi films, books, shows, and games need a good way to get around, too–after all, it’s hard to have an awesome space dogfight when you’re stuck planetside. This is a tribute to the most awe-inspiring and memorable ships sci-fi heroes have traveled in.
The USS Enterprise (Star Trek)
More incarnations of the venerable Star Trek franchise than not take place largely aboard that pride of the Federation, the flagship Enterprise, with its iconic finned-circle silhouette. Whether it’s captained by the bold and sensitive James Kirk or the analytical and literate Jean-Luc Picard, the Enterprise will always be the most recognized ship to “go where no one has gone before,” despite the charms of the Voyager and Deep Space Nine.
Moya has a leg or a fin up on the competition in one respect. While the rest of the ships on this list are often treated by their crews as though they were alive, Moya actually is. She’s from a spacefaring race of giant piscine-lizard creatures called Leviathans, and her Pilot is actually a symbiote. She acts like a surrogate mother to stranded Earth astronaut John Crichton and his squabbling crew of weirdos from a faraway galaxy, comforting them in times of crisis and protecting them fiercely.
Serenity is a dinky little boat compared to the others on this list–a Firefly-class merchanteer, it seems barely able to fly at times, is hopelessly outdated to the point that one can’t even find replacement parts for it if one breaks, and doesn’t even have weapons systems. But in the hands of pilot Hoban Washburne, who is neurotic outside the cockpit but a Zen master inside it, sweetheart and genius mechanic Kaylee Fry, and gruff captain Mal Reynolds, it carries a bunch of broke criminals on many exciting missions that they survive by a hair and eventually helps to uncover a massive conspiracy that the Alliance government had been covering up for years.
The Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)
What, that old pile of junk make the top of a list? The Millennium Falcon has humble origins both in-story and out; legendary rogue Han Solo won it off his sometime friend Lando Calrissian in a card game, and Star Wars visual designer Ralph McQuarrie came up with the circled-V shape that is now instantly recognizable as an idle napkin doodle while eating lunch with George Lucas. Despite Luke’s initial skepticism about the ship’s capabilities, Han and his copilot/gunner/life-debt best friend Chewbacca use it to take the heroes of the original Star Wars saga to the most iconic confrontations in the series, and the ship and its crew are noted for heroism at the Battle of the Death Star Trench.