How Well Do You Remember "Starship Troopers"?

By: Torrance Grey
Image: Touchstone Pictures

About This Quiz

This 1997 film, based on a vintage military sci-fi novel, has become a cult favorite. Think you know all about "Starship Troopers"? Saddle up and take our quiz!

What kind of threat is humanity facing in "Troopers"?

Yep, it's a classic "big bug" movie. But unlike many 1950s films, no atomic accident supersized the insects.

Where do the giant arachnids live?

The spiders launch giant asteroids at Earth. Do they ever spin webs? Nope, and the movie never explains why they don't.

"Starship Troopers" is based on a book by which author?

It was Heinlein. Props to you, though, if you recognized Leigh Brackett as the rare woman writer who worked in "hard" sci-fi, or Gordon Van Gelder, who was a legendary editor at "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction."

Who played the lead, Johnny Rico?

Van Dien is now a veteran actor, but "Starship Troopers" was his breakthrough role. According to his imdb bio, one of his big regrets is not sharing a cigarette with Johnny Depp on the set of "Sleepy Hollow." (Van Dien had recently quit smoking).

Who played Johnny's girlfriend, Carmen Ibanez?

Richards plays a girl who scored 97th percentile on her math exams, then went on to be a top military. That's plausible, right? (Remember, RIchards was also a nuclear physicist in a James Bond film).

What city do Johnny, Carmen and their friend, Carl, live in?

Heinlein's novel depicted a racially-diverse world under a single global government. The film, however, cast largely Anglo actors as characters named "Johnny Rico," "Carmen Ibanez" and "Dizzy Flores."

In what percentile does Johnny score in math?

We're not pulling an obscure bit of trivia out of the film here: The math scores are crucial to their futures. Carl puts up Johnny's ranking on a giant video screen and razzes him about it in front of their fellow students.

Which sport does Johnny play?

Things have changed on the gridiron in the 23rd century: One player does a gravity-defying midair flip over an opposing tackle and keeps running. Nifty!

What unusual talent does Carl have?

Heinlein found room in a tale of military sci-fi for psychic phenomena. Carl's talent, plus his intelligence, makes him very valuable to the Federal Service.

What pet did Carl have on Earth?

We see the ferret, Cyrano, in an early scene. Carl sends the ferret upstairs to "go bug Mom" by imprinting the animal psychically with the idea that there is tasty grub climbing up his mother's leg.

Who played the hard-case drill instructor, Sgt. Zim?

Brown has given his hard stare and strong jaw to more than one tough-guy role. This includes the head prison guard in Stephen King's "The Shawshank Redemption."

Who almost bests Sgt. Zim in a sparring match at formation?

Dizzy Flores, played by later "Saw" actress Dina Meyer, clearly had some of that great Buffy/Xena DNA that was going around in the late 1990s. She's not quite good enough to beat Zim in a fight, though.

Carl is assigned to "games and theory," which is really what division?

This seems to be based on "game theory," a field of mathematics that uses logic and statistics to predict outcomes and make decisions. Carl being psychic might help him a bit here.

What is the reward for Federal Service?

"Citizenship" is implied to carry more than a few privileges -- even parenthood. In one scene, Katrina says she joined the Federal Service because "I want to have babies ... it's easier to get a license" if you're a citizen.

What is the name of Carmen's supervisor/love interest on her ship?

Yes, Zander's last name really was "Barcalow." There's no way his call sign wasn't "Barcalounger."

From where do Johnny and Carmen know Zander?

Zander played for a rival high school team, the Giants. He was already flirting with Carmen back then, a flirtation that catches fire on the starship Rodger Young.

What reason does Carmen give for breaking up with Johnny?

There's definitely a flirtation between Zander and Carmen, but she doesn't tell Johnny that in her "Dear John" video message. Instead, Carmen explains that she wants her own command, and "that doesn't leave a lot of room for you and me."

Which of the Mobile Infantry recruits is a fiddler?

Ace Levy was played by Jake Busey. He learned to play the violin (Ace would call it a "fiddle") for the movie.

Who dies in an accident in a live-fire exercise?

Breckinridge is the short-lived grunt who joined the Service because he hated farming. Enlisting in the army to escape a life of farming was a common motif in WWII movies.

Why is it squad leader Johnny's fault that Breckinridge died?

Breckinridge said he couldn't see because of a helmet malfunction. Rico asked him to take it off so he could examine it. During this time, a stray round hit him.

What interrupts Johnny's call with his parents?

Johnny's parents are presumably dead after the call cuts off. Johnny seems to take this in stride, getting immediately to the business of rescinding his resignation and saddling up to kill some bugs.

About how many human casualties are there in the Klendathu attack?

The attack is a disaster. The Federal forces severely underestimate how well the Arachnids can organize a defense.

Who is Rasczak?

Rasczak is a tough teacher who tries to instill a sense of civic virtue in his students. The reason for his gung-ho attitude is later explained: He's a veteran, called back into service in time of war.

What is the name of Rasczak's unit?

The authoritarian Rasczak would never call his unit "Rebels." His one rule: "Everyone fights. Nobody quits."

Who is mistakenly listed as KIA (killed in action) after the Klendathu attack?

Johnny is stabbed through the leg by an Arachnid on Klendathu and passes out. Carmen later sees his name on the KIA list, but he's actually recuperating in some kind of water tank.

What is the name of the planet where a valuable "brain bug" lives?

Planet P is the location of another ill-fated fight with the bugs. But it pays off in terms of intel, as now the Federal Service knows there's a brain bug down there they can capture.

Who shoots Rasczak?

Rasczak's policy is to shoot anyone who is fatally injured by a bug, and says he expects his troops to do the same for him. When it's time, Johnny gets the unhappy duty.

How does Dizzy die?

Diz lives long enough to die in Johnny's arms, telling him "it's okay ... because I got to have you." Yes, that's *exactly* what someone would say while dying a painful and premature death.

When Johnny takes over Rasczak's unit, what is their name?

After a "field promotion" by Carl, Rico takes over his former teacher's unit. When he tells his troops, "Welcome to the Roughnecks," Sugar Watkins adds, "Rico's Roughnecks!" and the name is born.

How does Carmen avoid being killed by the brain bug?

It was Zander who slipped the knife to Carmen, just before the bug sucked out his brain with its proboscis. If he'd only kept the knife, he could have saved himself and Carmen -- but apparently the script called for a noble death for him, no matter how little sense it made.

What psychic message does Carl send Johnny?

When Johnny says "I just know" that Carmen is still alive, you could be forgiven for thinking the movie has dropped the "love bomb" on us. Fortunately, it's later explained that an intuition sent by Carl -- not Cupid -- was guiding Johnny.

Who captures the "brain bug"?

Zim got himself "busted down" to private in order to see combat. It paid off, as he was the one to capture a brain bug for study.

Who ends up together at the end of the movie?

Carmen never seemed all that into the besotted Johnny; they both had affairs with other people. In the end, Carl, Carmen and Johnny are all just friends.

Who played Carl Jenkins?

Harris was still recovering from his child-star days as "Doogie Howser, M.D." His huge career resurgence was yet to come.

Who directed "Starship Troopers"?

Verhoeven said he couldn't finish reading Heinlein's novel, which he found "boring and depressing ... very right-wing." He added touches of satire to Heinlein's authoritarian philosophy, including modeling Federal Service uniforms on Nazi ones.

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