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The Entire Starship Troopers Timeline Finally Explained

The "Starship Troopers" franchise can be confusing to keep track of. Originally written as a novel in 1959 by Robert A. Heinlein, it was adapted as a film in 1997 by director Paul Verhoeven. This movie version changed many elements of the original story and was one of the most expensive films ever made at the time with a budget of more than $100 million. However, it did keep the basic elements of a futuristic human society battling against an insect-like race of aliens known as the Arachnids.

While the release wasn't exactly a huge financial success, it did spawn a number of sequels and spin-offs. That includes two direct-to-video sequels, a CGI animated television series, and several video games and comics. Add in the novels by Heinlein, and keeping track of everything that happens throughout the entire timeline of the "Starship Troopers" series is no easy task. If you want to know everything that has happened to Johnny, Carmen, and Carl then read on to discover the events of the First and Second Bug Wars.

Starship Troopers takes place in a future where the military rules

Unlike the novel, which is set some 700 years into the future, the "Starship Trooper" film takes place in the 23rd century. An exact date is never given but it is clear that this is a futuristic time where humans have developed technology not only to explore space but also to colonize new worlds. A military government known as The United Citizen Federation — sometimes known as the Terran Federation — rules with an iron grip. This group seized power following the collapse of several democratically elected governments around the world in an alternate history that saw several wars rage during the 20th century and crime grew out of control.

After the United Citizen Federation was established, it ensured that fundamental rights were only awarded to those who volunteered for military service. This meant that only veterans could gain citizenship, with the rest of the population referred to as civilians and unable to vote or easily acquire licenses to legally have children.

As humanity expanded into the galaxy they encountered the Arachnids

The United Citizen Federation not only had a sizable and powerful military force but also set out to colonize space, expanding the reach of humanity to more than a dozen planets and moons. However, at one point during their expansion, the military encountered Arachnids, insect-like alien creatures. This species was not only as advanced as humanity but had already established an empire of its own, with many worlds under its direct control.

To try and maintain peace and not provoke any aggression from the Arachnids, the United Citizen Federation puts in place a quarantine around Arachnid-controlled space. This effectively barred any military vehicles from entering regions where the aliens were present, but it did not stop civilians from settling on planets and coming into conflict with them. One such outpost on the planet Dantana was Port Joe Smith, which was eventually raided by Arachnids who killed almost everyone in the settlement.

Johnny Rico enlists and goes through basic training

The events of "Starship Troopers" focus on Johnny Rico and his friends. After leaving school, he decides to enlist in Federal Service against the wishes of his parents who try to persuade him to go to college instead. While he joins in the hope of being assigned to the same division as Carmen — his girlfriend –  the two go their separate ways when she is sent to the Fleet to train as a pilot. Johnny is instead sent to join the Mobile Infantry while his friend Carl — a highly talented telepath — is sent to Military Intelligence.

Johnny quickly demonstrates that he is a model soldier and impresses his superiors during boot camp. Before too much time passes, he is promoted to Squad Leader of his platoon and takes charge of his fellow recruits during training exercises. On one such exercise, a fellow soldier is killed when he makes a fatal error resulting in Johnny offering his resignation from the Mobile Infantry and receiving lashes as corporal punishment.

A meteor seemingly from Arachnid space hits Buenos Aires and kills millions

Not long after this, a giant asteroid hurtles through space and crashes into planet Earth. According to the United Citizen Federation, the rock originated from the Arachnid Quarantine Zone and caused mass destruction. The densely populated city of Buenos Aires in Argentina is directly impacted, with millions dying as a result of the carnage. This provides a turning point in the "Starship Troopers" movie, with Johnny Rico deciding to stay in the military and join the cause to fight the Arachnids rather than leave as originally set out to do.

The authenticity of the events reported by the United Citizen Federation is not clear, with there being some obvious inconsistencies with the idea that the Arachnids would target Earth with an asteroid. It is not even known whether the Arachnids are capable of launching an asteroid across such a vast distance. If they are, it makes little sense for them to have sent only a single asteroid.

This starts a war between humanity and the Arachnids

Whatever the case, the military government uses the apparent attack as a justification for declaring war upon the Arachnids. They use the threat of other potential asteroid attacks to rally both the Federal Armed Services and all of humanity, mobilizing the Fleet, Mobile Infantry, and Military Intelligence to prepare for the armed conflict that is to come. The First Bug War, as it later becomes known, is a long, drawn-out struggle that lasts for more than five years according to the 2005 game "Starship Troopers."

The war starts in earnest when the United Citizen Federation decides to launch an invasion of the Arachnid home planet Klendathu. The Battle of Klendathu sees a huge force land on the planet while dozens of Corvette Transport ships remain in orbit to provide air cover. However, the Arachnids are far more organized than predicted by Fleet Command and quickly set up defenses. Many ships are lost to plasma fire and hundreds of thousands of troops are killed by Arachnids on the ground.

The invasion of Klendathu ends in disaster

The invasion of the Arachnid home planet cannot be described as anything other than a complete disaster. A huge part of the Mobile Infantry and the Fleet was destroyed by the Arachnid forces, leaving a huge dent in the military's ability to operate and defend human colonies. Within just a few hours of the battle starting, Federal forces are ordered to retreat and the few remaining survivors, including Johnny, manage to escape back to safety away from Klendathu.

The defeat also leads to a massive psychological blow, damaging the morale of the entire Federal Armed Service as it became clear that the Arachnids could not be easily defeated. Facing calls for his resignation following the catastrophe, Sky Marshal Dienes stepped back from his role as leader of the military. Tehat Meru was immediately installed as the new Sky Marshal, heading up Earth's defense and taking control of the war effort.

A new strategy to understand the Arachnids is put in place

Tehat Meru understood that defeating the Arachnids could not be accomplished by force alone. Instead, the United Citizen Federation would have to learn more about the aliens they were facing so they could devise ways of beating them outside of just conventional warfare. To that end, a new strategy was put in place that involved trying to capture a creature known as a Brain Bug.

Johnny was part of a team from the Mobile Infantry, known as the Roughnecks, tasked with landing on Planet P to locate and forcibly remove a Brain Bug, essentially a leader Arachnid that commanded all of the insects on a colony. Johnny's friend Carl, now a high-ranking official within Military Intelligence, explains that capturing the Arachnid leader is necessary so that scientists can extract knowledge about the species and come up with new techniques to combat the Arachnids.

Johnny and his team successfully manage to capture the Brain Bug, allowing Carl and other members of the Military Intelligence to take it back to human-controlled space where they studied it. This was also the ending of the original "Starship Troopers" film, with the rest of the action taking place in sequels and other media.

In Starship Troopers 2, a group of soldiers become trapped on an Arachnid-controlled world

The story of the franchise was continued in a direct-to-video sequel under the name "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation" in 2004. None of the main characters from the first film return for the second film. Set during the same First Bug War as its predecessor, it focuses on the planet Alpha Zulu. The United Citizen Federation has invaded the Arachnid world and even managed to erect several structures on the surface of the planet to act as defenses against the alien threat.

However, a Mobile Infantry team known as Bravo Six ends up separated from the rest of the human forces and is attacked while attempting to hole up in the stronghold known as Hotel Delta 1-8-5. The small group of soldiers attempts to fight off the attacking Arachnids using new weaponry such as railguns and psychic attacks from soldiers. Along with General Jack Shepherd and Captain Dax, the group is forced to wait for rescue while facing continued attacks.

A new type of mind-controlling bug emerges

Despite believing that they are now safe, Bravo Six ends up facing another threat. A new type of Arachnid, called Control Bugs, emerge. These smaller aliens are able to get inside the body of humans through open orifices and then nest inside the brain, allowing them to infect their host and take control of them. They manage to infect several troopers in Hotel Delta 1-8-5 before they can be rescued and quickly spread throughout the entire base.

Their plan is to take control of high-ranking members, like General Shepherd so that the Control Bugs can make it back to Earth and infect leaders of the United Citizen Federation and destroy Earth's government from within. Captain Dax and Private Lei Sahara are the only two soldiers who remain free from the Control Bugs. Dax sacrifices himself so that Saraha is able to escape on a Landing Pad sent to rescue the troops, allowing her to inform the United Citizen Federation of the new threat.

Sometime after the events of "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation," the United Citizen Federation and the Arachnids enter an uneasy peace with hostilities between the two species largely coming to an end. However, this peace would only last around five years in total before conflict once again broke out between the two sides.

The Second Bug War begins

The Second Bug War Begins almost a decade after the first battles between the Arachnids and the United Citizen Federation. In an attempt to ensure that its military is fully staffed, military leaders have increased wartime propaganda and instantly put down any protests, executing those who object to the ongoing conflict. With neither side able to gain an advantage, though, the Second Bug War devolved into trench warfare as each side seeks to gain an advantage.

At this time, Johnny Rico is now a Colonel who is stationed on the farming planet Roku San and leads a Mobile Infantry force tasked with protecting the farmers from invading Arachnids. Shortly after Sky Marshal Omar Anoke arrives on the planet in an attempt to boost morale, the base's defenses are lowered, allowing a horde of Warrior Bugs to overcome the Mobile Infantry troops and force humans off the planet.

It is later revealed that Sky Marshal Omar Anoke was responsible for deactivating the Electric Perimeter Fence. After spending time with the Brain Bug captured during the events of "Starship Troopers," the telepathic Arachnid was able to influence Anoke and force him to betray humanity and work directly for the bugs. This treachery is not clear at first, though, and Johnny is blamed for the fall of Roku San as he was the commanding officer at the time that the Mobile Infantry was overrun.

Sentenced to die for the fall of the Roku San, Rico instead joins a top secret program

In "Starship Troopers 3: Marauder," Johnny is quickly sentenced to be executed for his perceived failure on Roku San. Yet before he is hanged, Johnny is secretly taken to a classified military base where he is put in charge of the Marauder Program. This is a new experimental group made up of elite soldiers who wear advanced mech suits that operate as power armor. The M11 Babar suits have been designed to give the Mobile Infantry an advantage in the battle against the Arachnids and Johnny and the rest of his team are sent to OM-1

When Sky Marshal Omar Anoke's treachery becomes clear, Rico and the rest of the Marauders arrive on OM-1 in order to defeat the God Bug, a giant creature that resembles a supersized Brain Bug and that devoured Anoke to absorb his knowledge of the United Citizen Federation. The Marauders were able to rescue the stranded troops on OM-1 before a large human fleet arrived to provide backup. They completely destroy the God Bug and the entire planet using a brand new weapon known as the Quantum Bomb.

The Bugs plan an invasion of Earth

The story continued in Shinji Aramaki's animated film "Starship Troopers: Invasion." Set several years after the events from the previous movie, it sees Johnny acting as a General within the Federal Armed Service. When a Queen Bug breaks free from its prison aboard the ship the John A. Warden, it sets off on a collision course with Earth. Understanding the immense danger that a ship filled with Arachnids could pose if it landed on Earth, Johnny sets out to intercept the ship and destroy the bugs inside it before it reaches the human home planet.

Johnny's team is able to board the John A. Warden but only after it had destroyed several other starships and crash-landed on Earth. When the ship's turrets destroyed a series of nuclear warheads dropped from orbit, the troops instead used C-4 explosives to destroy the vehicle and everything within it. This kills the Queen Bug and most of the Warrior Bugs along with almost every member of Johnny's Marauders and the Mobile Infantry involved in the attack were lost.

Johnny is demoted and reassigned to Mars

"Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars" is a second animated film that acts as the fifth entry in the "Starship Troopers" movie series. Having failed to stop the John A. Warden and the Queen Bug from landing on Earth, Johnny once again takes the blame. This time around, though, he is simply demoted and reassigned. Stationed on Mars, he now trains new recruits to the Mobile Infantry until the traitorous Sky Marshal Amy Snapp enacts a plot to destroy the planet with a Quantum Bomb. This is seen as a dual ploy to quell anti-war sentiment coming out of the planet and to increase her popularity with the United Citizen Federation.

Snapp hides the fact that an asteroid from Arachnid space had landed on Mars many years earlier and a bug infestation had been slowly growing under the surface during all that time. Johnny leads an assault against the Arachnid forces and also discovers the hidden Quantum Bomb. Along with Carmen and Carl, he is ultimately able to stop the threat and expose Snapp's plan. After the Mars incident, Carl is promoted to Deputy Sky Marshal while Johnny is reinstated to his rank of General.