The Expanse finale has an awesome easter egg full of sci-fi references

The Expanse Season 6 -- Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video
The Expanse Season 6 -- Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video /

The series finale of The Expanse has arrived! It’s hard to even type those words, but here we are. What a ride the show has taken us on over these past seven years. From the protomolecule outbreak on Eros Station to the frontier-style showdown on Ilus, The Expanse has pushed science fiction on television to brave new heights.

Yet while The Expanse might stand as one of the new greats of the sci-fi genre, the creators behind the show have made no secret of their love for the stories that came before. Ty Franck, one of the authors of the books The Expanse is based on and a writer for the show, has cited Ridley Scott’s Alien as one of the biggest influences for the series. That makes sense, because The Expanse hits that same sweet spot of awe-inspiringly alien yet accessible to viewers who don’t necessarily like to be hit over the head with complex science in their fiction.

So it should come as little surprise that in this week’s series finale the creators behind the show snuck in the mother of all easter eggs: a massive nod to the great science fiction that came before. SPOILERS for the finale below.

The Expanse nerds out with epic list of sci-fi references

During “Babylon’s Ashes,” the Rocinante undertakes a dangerous mission to capture the Ring Station, which the Free Navy has outfitted with rail guns capable of shredding most ships to pieces. As part of the plan, a swarm of shipping containers are dropped through the Ring. Some contain marines who are part of a ground squad meant to capture the station; others are decoys. The easter egg is all in the names of those marines. As they start sounding off and their vitals start coming online, familiar names like Hicks, Hudson, and Thrace report in.

We then get the shot above, which shows the full squad…and it is as an absolutely glorious nod to sci-fi nerdom. Most every name on that list is a reference to some sci-fi property or other. Considering how much care the team behind The Expanse put into this, we considered it our duty to decode each and every one of them. So here’s a list of every name in the Ring Station ground crew, and what they’re referencing.

Alpha Squad:

  • B. Draper — Bobbie Draper, our Martian marine who really needs no introduction. She’s one of the main characters of The Expanse and leads Alpha Squad of the ground force.
  • G. Ackbar — Admiral Gial Ackbar, from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It’s a trap!
  • D. Quaid — Douglas Quaid from Total Recall. The 1990 film cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role and was set on Mars.
  • D. Bowman — David Bowman, the main character of the classic sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • C. Shepard — Commander Shepherd, the hero of the original Mass Effect video game trilogy.
  • A. Burton — Amos Burton. Again, this is an actual character in The Expanse.
  • D. Idaho — Duncan Idaho, the swordmaster from the novel Dune by Frank Herbert. (Played by Jason Momoa in Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film adaptation.)
  • A. Rogan — Alex Rogan from the 1984 film The Last Starfighter.
  • J. Nesmith — Jason Nesmith, the actor/starship commander in the film Galaxy Quest. (Played by Tim Allen in the movie).
  • E. Buck — Edward Buck, the gunnery sergeant played by Nathan Fillion in the Halo video games.

Bravo Squad:

  • E. Ripley — Ellen Ripley, Sigourney Weaver’s iconic character from the Alien franchise.
  • D. Hicks — Another Aliens character, Corporal Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn in the second movie).
  • J. Cooper — Joseph Cooper from Interstellar.
  • J. Anderton — John Anderton from Minority Report.
  • J. Vasquez — Jenette Vasquez, another member of the commando squad from Aliens.
  • W. Hudson — William Hudson, also from Aliens. We did mention those movies were a big influence, right?
  • R. Deckard — Rick Deckard, the detective played by Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.
  • J. O’Neil — Colonel Jack O’Neil from Stargate. Den of Geek notes that this spelling of O’Neil is specific to the original 1994 Stargate film; the SG-1 television show spelled it with two L’s.

Charlie Squad:

  • L. Starr — Lucky Starr from Isaac Asimov’s Lucky Starr book series.
  • L. Banks — Louise Banks from Arrival.
  • K. Flynn — Kevin Flynn from Tron.
  • R. Neary — Roy Neary from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
  • J. Rico — Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers.
  • K. Thrace — Kara Thrace aka Starbuck from the 2000s-era Battlestar Galactica remake.
  • S. Connor — Sarah Connor, one of the protagonists of the Terminator franchise.
  • R. Stone — Ryan Stone, Sandra Bullock’s character in the 2013 film Gravity.
  • W. Riker — William Riker, the first officer on the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

And that wraps up the colossal list of nods The Expanse snuck into its final episode. You may notice there are two names we didn’t include in the list: R. Levine and H. Ochai. It’s been confirmed by the Motion Graphics Supervisor on The Expanse that those are the only names on the list which were scripted names from the writers. But the rest, as you can see, comprise the biggest and baddest squad of sci-fi commandos ever to hit the screen. It’s a shame so many of them bit the dust in that raid on the Ring Station…

(Edit: K. Garrity has been removed from the list above as well, because during The Expanse finale live tweet, showrunner Naren Shankar confirmed it was a scripted name. He also revealed the origin of the three scripted names on the squad list.)

Season 6 of The Expanse is now available in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video. Be sure to check out our mega-sized review of the series finale.

Next. The Expanse review: “Babylon’s Ashes” delivers a powerful ending. dark

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