Top 10 Escape Pod Scenes in Movies and TV

Script written by Maya Methot

Whether you’re saving yourself from imminent peril or thwarting terrorists on a presidential aircraft, it’s always nice to know that an emergency craft exists to save your airborne butt. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 escape pod scenes in movies and TV.

For this list, we’re defining an escape pod as a lifeboat, or any type of craft or capsule from a spaceship, aircraft or underground lair that we’ve seen on the big and small screens. But that means we’ll be excluding scenes and moments where other smaller ships or crafts have been used to escape.

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Whether you’re saving yourself from imminent peril or thwarting terrorists on a presidential aircraft, it’s always nice to know that an emergency craft exists to save your airborne butt. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 escape pod scenes in movies and TV.

For this list, we’re defining an escape pod as a lifeboat, or any type of craft or capsule from a spaceship, aircraft or underground lair that we’ve seen on the big and small screens. But that means we’ll be excluding scenes and moments where other smaller ships or crafts have been used to escape.

#10: I Will Save You
“Doctor Who” (2005-)

What’s an escape pod scene without a race against time? When the Doctor and Martha land themselves on a ship that’s headed straight for the sun, they have only 42 minutes to save the day. Not only are they in great peril from the elements, but a murderous crewmember also threatens everyone onboard. When Martha escapes in a pod, however, she puts herself in further danger by jettisoning herself towards the sun. When the lesser of two evils is getting vaporized by a burning ball of gas, you know it’s a tough day being friends with this Time Lord.

#9: Too Late, Mr. Powers
“Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” (1997)
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Or maybe it’s…a Big Boy? The “Austin Powers” franchise is no stranger to the ridiculous, and Dr. Evil’s escape from his underground lair in this hilarious satire is no exception. Not only does he flee with Mr. Bigglesworth in a capsule shaped like a Big Boy statue; he also ensures his evil reign by cryogenically freezing himself in the pod, which ends up orbiting the Earth for 30 years. The hilariously shaped spacecraft bit carries on for the next two sequels, which you might say, makes this escape pod scene legendary.

#8: Homecoming
“Gravity” (2013)

The final scene to one of the most nail-biting hits of the decade arrives just in time, because by that point in “Gravity” the audience is just about ready to pass out from high blood pressure. When Ryan Stone finally gets into the Shenzhou capsule of the Tiangong space station, we’re so relieved that even the Mandarin-only interface of the pod can’t dissuade our hope for her. But that hope is short-lived, as the shuttle seems to be breaking down all around her and even catches fire. It’s only once Ryan takes that first breath after almost drowning in the lake in which she lands that we can all heave a collective sigh of relief.

#7: The Coward Flees
“Red Dwarf” (1988-)

With a bloated sense of heroism, the cowardly hologram Rimmer makes it seem as though he’s trying to save the group from a rogue Simulant, but it’s quickly revealed that he’s actually trying to escape after he spots a pod nearby. Little does he know, the escape pod’s trajectory has sent him through a wormhole and onto a desert planet that’s 600 years away from the rest of the group. Even though his fate sounds dire, it doesn’t take long for him to clone himself thousands of times using special gear from the pod. The result is Rimmerworld, a planet full of himself — no pun intended. But even his clones can’t stand him, and when the crew finds him in jail, you can’t help but laugh at the irony.

#6: Escape
“Starship Troopers” (1997)

Next up we have a cult classic from the 1990s that’s just so bad, it’s good. A big-budget film full of alien bugs, Nazi innuendos and B-List actors, the satirical military sci-fi flick’s escape pod scene delivers both cheesiness and over-the-top destruction. When Carmen Ibanez’s spaceship is hit by what are seemingly undetected asteroids, she and Lieutenant Barcalow narrowly escape the chaotic destruction - and they get to the rescue deck just in time to save their butts. Not only does this scene have an excessive display of pyrotechnics, but the death of Captain Strong is also as Razzie-worthy as they come.

#5: First Class Escape Pod
“The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977)

In classic James Bond fashion, this underwater escape has a mix of humor, sex, danger and painfully corny lines. Bond and his babe of the week save themselves from a sinking underwater base where the villain Stromberg was attempting to recolonize the Earth after an unsuccessful plan to start a nuclear war. But unlike other escape pods on this list, their means of returning to safety has the creature comforts of a plush bed, skylight window and bottles of expensive booze. Sounds more like it was a fantasy getaway rather than a dangerous mission.

#4: Decoy
“Air Force One” (1997)

Not even Bill Clinton denying its existence can stop us from loving the idea of an escape pod onboard Air Force One. This thriller gets your heart pumping from the moment Gary Oldman’s Ivan Kurshunov boards the plane with his Russian goons. But as blockbuster clichés dictate, no one messes with the Commander-in-Chief and gets away with it. When we find out that President James Marshall has deployed the empty pod so he can stay onboard undetected and try to save everyone on the plane, we can’t help but wish Harrison Ford would run for office in real life.

#3: Abandon Ship
“Spaceballs” (1987)

In this Mel Brooks classic that pokes fun at much of what sci-fi has to offer – including technology-like escape pods – Lone Starr and his gang board the Mega Maid in order to destroy it. This forces the mercenary into a fight with the not-so-intimidating Lord Dark Helmet. As luck would have it, the self-destruct button is accidentally engaged, and a frenzied evacuation commences, which is narrated by the charmingly interactive voice of the ship. While the eclectic passengers escape in small capsules through the Mega Maid’s Statue of Liberty-esque crown, the villains are stuck on board the doomed ship without a pod. The scene is clever, funny and absolutely ridiculous, as we see everyone from a bearded lady to a bear from the zoo make use of the escape pods.

#2: Interstellar Baby
“Superman” (1978)

Coming in at second place is one of the world’s most loved alien coming-of-age stories. The seminal DC Comic favorite started it all with this escape-from-Krypton scene, which was also redone in the 2013 reboot Man of Steel. But the epic stature of this moment in Superman’s tale wouldn’t be the same without the glossy ‘70s sci-fi set or the grand speech given by the one and only Marlon Brando. Through his sad goodbye to his son Kal-El, we learn that the baby will one day be stronger and faster than everyone on Earth, a forecast of his eventual superhero status as well as of an enduring franchise.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
No Escape
“Prometheus” (2012)
The Operative Escapes Shipwreck
“Serenity” (2005)
Kirk Is Marooned on Delta Vega
“Star Trek” (2009)
Pod Crasher
“Alien: Resurrection” (1997)
Game-Changing Escape
“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012)

#1: Death Star Plans
“Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (1977)

The first Star Wars movie may not have invented the escape pod, but this scene is as legendary and iconic as they come. Armed with stolen plans of the Death Star and a personal message from Princess Leia, adorable droid R2-D2 and his companion C3P0 escape the captured ship undetected. And thanks to the special craft, they land safely on the planet Tatooine, where a tumultuous and storied fate awaits them. The world would never have known Luke Skywalker or the adventures the droids would bring him without this momentous escape, and that’s why it tops our list.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite escape pod scene? For more exciting top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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