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 series aired for one season on PAX beginning in August 1999 and in syndication in the United States and Canada. It was later picked up by the SciFi Channel in the US, and Teletoon in Canada. The show has subsequently developed an underground cult following, with its popularity slowly rising despite lack of public exposure.
The show borrows elements from Paul Verhoeven's film, but incorporates more elements from the original novel the film was based on, such as the extraterrestrial race known as the Skinnies, powered armor suits, and drop pods. Some elements are original (e.g., the war starts on Pluto), and the controversial politics of the original book are mostly left out.
When the Mobile Infantry defeats an infestation of Bugs on Pluto, the world is united as the Strategically Integrated Coalition of Nations (SICON) and 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. Worse, 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
", 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 (1 episode) takes place on the journey from Klendathu to Earth.
- The Homefront Campaign (5 episodes; 4 others planned but never completed)
With some exceptions, each episode covers a specific mission within the larger campaign.
The show was produced by Columbia Tristar
and Sony Pictures
for daily television syndication
and ended its intended run of a single season with a cliffhanger
instead of a proper series finale
Though originally planned to be made with 2-D animation, Sony contracted Foundation Imaging to produce the episodes with 3-D computer animation. Since Foundation was unable to keep up with the production schedule, Flat Earth Productions were involved with creating episodes 12 and 13, Hyper Image with 20 to 22, and Rainbow Studios with 23 to 25.
The series was to end with a titanic battle (on a larger scale than any previous episode) against the Bug forces on Earth, but production was halted before this story arc was fully developed. Of the 40 episodes originally scheduled, only 36 were completed due to the production problems. Each week was to be a separate campaign with five daily episodes.
In the Homefront Campaign only five of the planned episodes were completed, with the last three episodes ("Gates of Hell", "Circle of the Damned" and "Final Inferno") left incomplete, along with "Homefront", a key episode in the campaign, showing the destruction of Bueno Aires, which later episodes make reference to. A summaries of two of these episodes is available at the TrooperPX website.
The missing episodes had their dialogue recorded and some of their animatics completed. Fans were hoping that this existing material could be used to complete the series, or that the footage and audio would be included in the series' DVD release, but this did not happen. Some of that material has been leaked online since then. A version of the lost episodes was performed once in 2000 as an audio play at the annual Gathering of the Gargoyles fan convention.
In order to fulfill Sony's 40-episode order, four clip shows were produced, reusing footage from previous episodes along with a minimum of new material. "Pluto and Beyond" and "Propaganda Machine" can be thought of as coming near the beginning of the Tophet Campaign, as they summarize the events of that the preceding Pluto Campaign and a few Tophet events, without adding new material. In "Marooned", one of the main characters becomes lost alone in space and has flashbacks about events from the Pluto through Zephyr Campaigns (in no particular order); it appears intended to take place in the midst of the Klendathu Campaign. "Court-Martial of Lt. Razak" also takes place during the Klendathu Campaign (specifically, day 165), with various characters giving testimony (shown as previous-episode flashbacks from the entire series); of the four clip shows, it is the only one to introduce significant plot points. All four have been released on DVD.
Several fan sites have bemoaned production and distribution problems that prevented the series from finding an audience before it was canceled. Among the issues cited are:
- The series was sold to syndication to air five episodes per week before there were enough episodes to accommodate this schedule. This resulted in a few episodes being repeatedly rerun, alienating viewers.
- Individual stations syndicating the show aired new episodes as they were completed, destroying story arcs.
- The series was sold to the Sci Fi Channel without proper authorization. This soured relations between Sony and the Sci Fi Channel to the point that the cable channel lost the rights to air the show.
- One of the two effects companies working on the show was fired from the project after a few episodes, exacerbating an already overly ambitious production schedule.
- "Flashback" or "clip show" episodes were added to fill gaps created by the inability to meet the production schedule.
- Bohbot Kids Network aired the series between 5 and 6 AM. The Sci Fi Channel aired the series at 7:30 AM. These are hardly desirable time slots for the target audience.
Fan campaign and DVD releases
With a fan campaign begun by the now defunct Roughneck Chronicles website
, the Pluto Campaign was released on DVD
. Based on sales, the other arcs were released on DVD
. However, these subsequent DVDs were released in order of popularity, not in chronological
order. The last DVD released was called "Trackers", containing an episode bridging the gaps between the Klendathu Campaign and Homefront Campaign DVDs, and the four clip show episodes. Unlike the other DVDs, "Trackers" did not have any cast or crew commentaries.
All the DVDs were re-released as a 4-disc Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles – The Complete Campaigns box set, which consists of stripped down versions of the individual DVD releases, removing the cast and crew commentaries (and in the UK edition the Tesca Campaign is listed as volume 2, instead of volume 4 as it should be.)
Given the success of the earlier DVDs, it was hoped that the sales would encourage Sony to produce a final direct-to-DVD movie to complete the original Homefront Campaign story arc, but there have been no new announcements regarding the Roughneck series. Also, the original production company, Foundation Imaging, has since gone out of business, so prospects of a final DVD movie are perhaps slim.
While the series ends on a cliffhanger, the writer of the final story arc outlined his plan for the final three episodes on the crew commentary of the Homefront Campaign DVD (not included on the box set version).
Alpha Team a.k.a. Razak's Roughnecks (later Rico's Roughnecks)
- Lieutenant Jean Razak (voiced by Jamie Hanes) – The leader of the Roughnecks, Razak is a seasoned veteran who has been decorated ten times for meritorious service. He is described as having "broken the mold" of trooper officer behavior. Razak's left arm is a mechanical prosthetic, the legacy of his first command where the entire squad was ambushed and only he survived. He later dies a heroic death to save Rico in the Homefront Campaign.
- Sergeant Francis Brutto (voiced by David DeLuise) – A somewhat ruthless taskmaster, Brutto is very outspoken and aggressive. Originally something of an antagonist for the rest of the squad, he eventually becomes easier to get along with during the Hydora Campaign. His son, Max, is 17 and an All-Star Fullback. Brutto is crippled before the Klendathu Campaign, and afterwards his son (who apparently joined the Mobile Infantry in the aftermath of the Pluto Campaign) is assigned to the Roughnecks. Like all the Roughnecks, he originally was distrusting of T'Phai, but eventually became his best friends, prompting Higgins to remark, "Are those two actually bonding?". This bond extends to the point that when his son joins the Roughnecks he wants T'Phai to look out for his son.
- Corporal Richard "Doc" LaCroix (voiced by James Horan) – The team's medical officer, Doc is laid-back and patient. He and Goss act as the comic relief of the show at times, playing off each other's jokes amidst a folly of Bug drones. Doc is the assigned pilot for the "King Kong" cargo Marauder exoskeleton.
- Corporal Jeff "Goss" Gossard (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) – An ambitious Roughneck who wants a distinguished career. The elder of two siblings, Goss is a technological master, adept with any form of machinery. He invented the "TALC Box", which was intended to translate Bug shrieking into human language, but used to translate for Skinnies instead. Goss is the assigned pilot for the Long-Range aka "Duck" Marauder. He had a short relationship with Dizzy following the Pluto Campaign, but broke up with her because he knows that Dizzy still loves Rico.
- Private/Corporal/Sergeant/Lieutenant Juan "Johnny" Rico (voiced by Rino Romano) – The main focus of the series, Rico is a good soldier but a little distrustful of technology ("I couldn't stand being in one of those tin cans") and a bit over-reliant on his instincts. He is best friends with Carl Jenkins and Dizzy Flores, and carries a torch for Carmen Ibanez for most of the series but eventually admits he is in love with Dizzy. Rico is the last of the Roughnecks to accept T'Phai. He is promoted first to Corporal during the Zephyr Campaign, then to Sergeant in the Klendathu Campaign as a result of Brutto's paralysis, and finally to Lieutenant during the Homefront Campaign, carrying on Razak's legacy.
- Private Isabel "Dizzy" Flores (voiced by E. G. Daily) – An old friend of Rico's from high school, Dizzy has a crush on him which is unrequited for most of the series; she figures they'll sort out their relationship problems after their tour of duty. She had a relationship with Goss in an attempt to make Rico jealous which ended in the Tesca Campaign, but started having an affair with Zander Barcalow for the rest of the Tesca Campaign and the entire Zephyr Campaign, which was shattered as Barcalow became an Bug/Human hybrid during the Klendathu Campaign. She eventually redeems Barcalow in the Klendathu Campaign. In the Homefront campaign, Rico eventually admits being in love with her, but Dizzy rejected it by threatening to file sexual harassment and calling herself a "jinx" as an excuse for not carrying the relationship. Despite being defensive, Dizzy still harbors feelings for Rico. Dizzy is claustrophobic, but lied about it to be accepted into the Mobile Infantry; her phobia was later remedied by Jenkins, who used his psychic powers to give her something akin to a very strong post-hypnotic suggestion.
- Lieutenant Carmen Ibanez (voiced by Tish Hicks) – A pilot in the SICON fleet. Rico joined the military just because Carmen said that she wanted to be a pilot, and Rico blindly attempts to follow her. Carmen is smart, calm, and rarely lets her emotions get in the way of her tasks. Whenever a drop ship she's piloting is crash-landed due to whatever circumstances, she often helps the Roughnecks carry out their missions. While reminiscing about the past, Carmen admits that she had a big crush on Rico during the sixth grade, but didn't tell him. It is not clear if she feels the same way about Rico after Dizzy tells Carmen that she's the reason Rico enlisted.
- Lieutenant/Major Zander Barcalow (voiced by Nicholas Guest) – A former football player in high school, Barcalow joined the SICON fleet as a pilot and was ranked Major at the start of the Pluto Campaign. He started off as Carmen's flight instructor in a drop ship. Other than transporting troops, Barcalow occasionally flew the air fighters to provide air support for the Mobile Infantry. Personality-wise, he was pompous and arrogant, which may have led to his constant interchange between Major and Lieutenant ranks. During the Tesca Campaign, Barcalow started a relationship with Dizzy Flores, which lasted until the end of the Zephyr Campaign, during which he was captured by the Bugs and became infected with an unknown virus, which gave him a Jekyll and Hyde complex. Things went worse during the Klendathu Campaign when Barcalow mutated into an Bug and nearly had the Valley Forge crash-land on Klendathu. He later died a noble death saving the Roughnecks after Dizzy reminded him "to play on her team."
- Special Operations Tactician Carl Jenkins (voiced by Rider Strong) – A psychic friend of Rico's and Dizzy's from high school, the other Roughnecks avoid Jenkins like the plague because his telepathic powers give them the creeps. He destroys the Hydoran Brain Bug with a Mind-Bomb but suffers mental trauma in the process. Jenkins grows weaker and his powers become less stable during the Tophet Campaign, when T'Phai's Control Bug breaks loose and it attempts to attach to Jenkins. He destroys it with a telekinetic blast, but falls into a coma and is spirited away by Intel. Jenkins returns later on in the series, the mental experimentation performed on him by Intel neurosurgeons has increased his powers but made him cold and harsh. What was left of his old self was rekindled when Rico saved him during the Klendathu Campaign.
- Private Robert "Paperboy" Higgins (voiced by Alexander Polinsky) – A FedNet reporter assigned to the Roughnecks, Higgins is something of the trademark outsider. His inexperience and degree of military incompetence makes him something of a liability on occasion. Higgins usually shoots with a camera instead of a gun. He is able to stay in the squad only because Rico gave him training. Higgins is the narrator for the series.
- Private "Colonel" T'Phai (voiced by Steve Staley) – The former military leader of the Skinnies, T'Phai was an enemy for most of the Tophet Campaign under the influence of a Control Bug. He was indirectly responsible for Jenkins' extended medical leave, which didn't help matters when he was assigned to the Roughnecks during the Tesca Campaign. Not accepted initially, T'Phai receives the acceptance of all Roughnecks but Rico in the end of the first episode, not receiving Rico's approval until the end of the second episode. Rank is Private within the Mobile Infantry, but he is still referred to as Colonel (his Skinnie rank) by the Roughnecks. T'Phai is considered a father figure since he had a wife, who was also in the military, and two children. He believes in fighting a war so that his children wouldn't share the same fate as him.
- Private Max Brutto (voiced by Jason Marsden) – Francis Brutto's son, Max never liked T'Phai from the beginning but like Rico became friends. He first joined the roughnecks when they tried to defend Kaiu Point. He's almost exactley like his dad in attitude and cockiness.
- Commander Marlow (voiced by Thomas Wagner) – Commanding officer of the Valley Forge, the starship to which Alpha Squad is initially assigned. Old-school fleet officer who was looking forward to retirement before the Bug War began.
- General Miriam Redwing (voiced by Irene Bedard) – Former flame of Lt. Jean Razak, and friend of Sgt. Charlie Zim; now a General at SICON Headquarters. A compassionate yet stern career officer.
- Sky Marshal Sanchez (voiced by R. Lee Ermey) – Top military brass of the SICON Forces. Has demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice civilian lives if he believes it will help achieve victory. Note that the Sky Marshal in the novel was female, unusual for a 1950s SF novel.
- Lt. Earl Walker – Intelligence officer who has an uneasy relationship with Razak and the Roughnecks. Seems to value intelligence data more than the human beings under his command who have to collect it. At one point, Walker was willing to ensure that Razak's military career would end during General Miriam Redwing's supposed disappearance being unaware of Redwing and Razak's sting operation against a mole within the SICON ranks. During the Homefront campaign, Walker and Razak along with their squads managed to put aside their differences and befriended each other. Walker is not seen after Razak's death except for taking command of his squad fighting elsewhere during the conflict.
- C.H.A.S. (Cybernetic Humanoid Assault System) – A prototype combat robot with state of the art weaponry, armor and AI. CHAS joined the Roughnecks for a single mission during the Tophet Campaign, at the end of which he sacrificed himself to save Higgins and the rest of the squad.
- Drill InstructorSergeant Charlie Zim – (voiced by Clancy Brown) Rico's and Flores' Drill instructor, who joins the Roughnecks during the final stages of the Homefront campaign. Revealed to Rico that due machinations between him and Razak guided him to his potential as they recognized something great in him. Zim is the only character in the series that is voiced by the original film actor.
Introduced in the Pluto campaign
- Warrior Bugs – The bulk of the Bug armies, they are about the size of large horses and scuttle around on four spindly legs. They attack with two spiked razor limbs and their razor-edged mandibles which can bite a person in half if they get close enough. Warrior Bugs are relatively weak against standard-issue weaponry, but they make up for this with large numbers. These Bugs have also proven to be able to climb up walls and dig underground.
- Sentry Bugs – Bugs the size of dogs. they resemble fleas and can crawl up and down walls. The Sentry Bugs are early warning systems and play other support roles, usually being found in or near nests. They have very little offensive capability but they have sharp teeth that can bite through steel cable and inflict nasty wounds.
- Tanker Bugs – These are the tanks of the Bug army, they are the size of houses and breathe fire as their main offensive weapon. Although they don't move quickly, their ability to tunnel underground allows them to pop up unexpectedly in the middle of a battle. Their armored exoskeleton makes them impervious to everything except high explosives such as mini-nukes and plasma rockets.
- Plasma Bugs – The Bug artillery, they are bigger than the Tanker Bugs, and have the rather nasty ability to fire huge, volatile globs of plasma from their rear ends at airborne or distant targets. One of the roughneck missions was to attempt to capture a baby one alive so researchers could find out how this plasma is generated.
- Hoppers – Acting as air support, they are about the size of Warrior Bugs and resemble mosquitoes with razor wings. They can bring down a light aircraft by grappling onto it, but their primary mode of attack is to simply ram their targets at high speed. Impervious to light weapons, they are vulnerable to explosive shells and "lizard lines". Hoppers are attracted to laser emissions like mosquitoes to a bug zapper.
- Transport Bugs - Creatures used for interstellar transport, they are fueled by water and can make planetary landings. The first one spotted was delivering eggs to Pluto, disproving the idea that the Bugs are native to the solar system.
Introduced in the Hydora campaign
- Kamikaze Ripplers – Flying Bugs that are similar to Hoppers except they can also shoot spikes from their mouths and can swim underwater. Later in the campaign the spikes exude a corrosive venom which burns flesh and destroys equipment.
- "Momma" Rippler – A large Bug seen guarding a nest of Rippler eggs and thought to be their source.
- Water Tigers – About the same size as warriors but much fatter, this pale species can swim quickly in water and is rarely seen on land. They have a venom that causes paralysis, and they use it to capture their prey alive to store in their larder.
- Brain Bugs – Moving, telepathic nodes, these are the generals of the bug army, coordinating all Bug activity through some sort of telepathic mind control. They are large and almost too fat to move by themselves. Brain Bugs have slight offensive capabilities by using a psychic attack to stun humans. They have a slit-like mouth with a spike/sucker organ that extends from the mouth to pierce an enemy's skull and extract its brain to add the gained information to the hive mind collective.
- Chariot Bugs a.k.a. Minion Bugs – About the size of Sentry Bugs and bearing a resemblance to common roaches, these Bugs accompany and serve the Brain Bugs. When needed, the Brain Bugs can lie on top of them to be moved about.
Introduced in the Tophet campaign
- Blister Bugs – Slightly larger than a Warrior Bug. They carry a large supply of corrosive liquid which can be used to attack directly or dissolve walls and equipment.
- Blaster – Resembling Blisters, they absorb heat from the surrounding environment and focus it into a wave of heat energy capable of burning through power suits or melting rock..
- Control Bugs – Small Bugs, roughly the size of human hands. They seize control of a host by attaching themselves to the spinal chord, becoming a telepathic conduit for Brain Bugs. The range of their telepathic abilities has never been tested in the field. While having very little offensive capability on their own, they are very agile and difficult to hit with weapons. They are first encountered on Tophet, controlling the Skinnies.
Introduced in the Tesca campaign
- Jungle Spiders – Though looking more like crabs than actual spiders, Spider Bugs are eight-eyed and eight-legged with web-spinning capabilities. Smaller specimens are the size of Warrior Bugs and join them as shock troops. Larger ones capture enemies for "interrogation" by Brain Bugs or as DNA samples for Nurser Bugs.
- Nurser Bugs – Help care for Bug eggs until they hatch. They create new varieties of Bug by injecting DNA extracted from other species into Bug embryos. With no fighting capability, they are only seen in nests where eggs are being incubated.
- Tanker Worms – Used to dig small tunnels for Control Bugs. They have no offensive capabilities but their ability to dig silently allows the Control Bugs to launch surprise attacks.
Introduced in the Zephyr campaign
- Firefries – Small Bugs similar to fireflies, but actually on fire. As they age, firefries grow to the size of warrior bugs, lose the ability to fly, and spit fire like a flamethrower.
- Ice Bugs – Bugs the size of a large asteroid, found covered in ice and floating in space for eons. If one makes contact with Firefries they begin a symbiotic relationship where the Firefries feed on the Ice Bug while the Ice Bug uses the Firefries for energy.
Introduced in the Klendathu campaign
- Zander Bug – Major Zander after being transformed into a humanoid Bug. He has become bigger and Bug-like, but has kept his human intelligence.
- Nurser Spider – Similar to Nurser Bugs in that they can manipulate the DNA of Bug larvae, but resembling spiders. The Zander Bug uses them to create impostor bugs.
- Impostor Bugs – Bugs designed to infiltrate SICON by disguising themselves in mobile infantry power suits.
- Queen Bug – The master and leader of the entire Bug race. She is a huge Bug that can lay thousands of Bug eggs per day.
- Royal Guard Bug - A special type of warrior Bug that guards the Queen and her eggs.
- Super Transport Bugs - Nearly ten times the size of regular Transport Bugs, Super Transports are used to carry the Queen and a small army across star systems. During the episode Trackers there are many Super Transports used as decoys.
Other alien creatures
- Skinnies - Roughly humanoid but very thin, this civilization is native to Tophet and enslaved by the bug army. Their weapons fire a stream of liquid that engulfs and then crushes the target. First encountered on Tophet.
- Sparky - Squirrel like native of Tophet, it's friendly and has the ability to generate an electric field.
- Seal Shark - Resembles a seal except for a jaw full of shark-like teeth. A voracious predator, it will attack humans and bugs alike. Native of Tesca Nemerosa.
- Razorback Croc - Very similar to crocodiles except they are much larger and have a dorsal ridge. Native of Tesca Nemerosa.
- Raptor Bird - Pterodactyl like creature the size of a human. Native of Tesca Nemerosa.
- Space Leech - A parasitic creature that feeds on Ice Bugs and will aggressively attack both Firefries and humans. They produce a chemical which is toxic to the bug army. Seen during the Zephyr Campaign.
In the show, there are various technologies used by SICON and the Skinnes:
- Starships - Small city-like vessel that troopers consider their home-away-from home. They are equipped with hyperspace drives, subspace communicators, missiles, lasers and ballistics, including sensors that can detect movement of other crafts in other systems.
- Dropship - A small type of ship that can drop and pickup troopers on planets. They are equipped with guns at the cockpit.
- Marauder - A mecha-like exoskeleton that stands 10 ft. tall, walks faster than a human. There are two kinds, the "Duck" and the "Ape".
- Morita Smart Rifle - The standard issue weapon for all SICON troopers.
- Fighter -
- Bomber -
- Troop Transport - A six wheeled transport used by troopers.
- Flatbed - This is only shown on Pluto. It is in the remains of an older station on Pluto from before operation Pest Control.
- Drop suit -
- Skimmer - A hovering transport, this is capable of going on both water and land and was even shown to have flight abilities. Having no personal offensive capabilities, it relies on personel to fire from the open deck of the ship.
- Jet ski/Raft -
- WASP flier - A one-manned flying unit. A pumped up jet pack. It is capable of low level flight. Razak attempts to strap two others to it, but it is unable to hold the weight.
- Submersible -
- Power Suit -
- Grappling gun - Also known as Lizard Lines. These guns fire drills with lines attatched to them, and are capable of carrying great amounts of weight. Two are capable of carrying a Marauder and two power suits soldiers.
- Rocket Launcher -
Deviations from the book
- Johnny Rico was Filipino in the book (though this is not stated until the end), while it seems to show Rico being an unspecified Latino Caucasian in the series.
- Private Jenkins, Rico's squad mate, and Carl, Rico's friend, are two different people in the book, but are conflated in the movie which the series follows. Psychics ("Special Talents") are present in the novel, but their abilities are not specified; in the novel, Rico initially believes they merely have superhuman hearing when they detect bugs. In the series, Carl is alive and is a "talent" attached to the squad. In the book, Carl dies during a bug raid station at the beginning of the war.
- Dizzy Flores in the book is a man. In the film and the animated series, the character was changed to a woman. In addition, Flores is wounded during the raid depicted in the book's first chapter, and dies on the recovery ship shortly after the squad is evacuated.
- Navy pilots are seen wearing tight bodysuit versions of the M.I. armor. No such armor is mentioned in the book.
- In the series, the Marauder is a large humanoid mech-type vehicle manned by one trooper as a fire support and gunnery platform. It comes in two forms: chicken-leg "Duck" marauders which are gun platforms; and ape-like "Ape" marauders which have close combat abilities. The Trooper remains in his standard combat suit while he mans the Marauder. The standard power suit appears to be only an armored environmental protection suit with electronics and jump jets which can be stripped down in hospitable environments to conserve weight and mobility, though the standard suit, without power, is too heavy for a person to move in. In the book, the Marauder is the name of the standard armor worn by the majority of troopers which is a highly mobile, heavily armored, powered, strength-amplifying exoskeleton with several weapons and jump jets.
- In the series, small troop carriers launch from the main ship and proceed to the upper atmosphere, where they launch the troopers from tubes. Troopers drop in large armors worn over the standard suit instead of the book's capsules. In the book, the capsules are launched from the main ship in orbit and require no small troop carrier to drop, only a pickup ship.
- In the series, Razak's Roughnecks is a squad. In the book, Racszak's Roughnecks is a platoon-sized unit sometimes deployed as a company.
- The book mentions the hand flamer as a light close quarters weapon. Every trooper has one mounted on his armor. In the series, however, flamethrowers are large two-handed rifle-like devices used as a squad support weapon.