Planet of Origin: Rostraan
Biological Type: Plant
Notable Individuals: Stalx
First Appearance: The Space Viking
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The Rostraans, an army of misfits whose ineptitude as soldiers and talent for collateral damage make them a dire threat to the universe, first appeared in the episode "The Space Viking", during the time of the Third Inspector.


The planet Rostraan, located in the Andromeda Galaxy, is a temperate world that should be a paradise, particularly to plant-based lifeforms. Unfortunately, it is the home of the Rostraan Oligarchy, a dictatorship noted for its wastefulness and corruption.


A Rostraan scientist

In order to assuage the discontent of the population, the Oligarchy raised what they hoped would be a mighty army, to be sent off to conquer and plunder, all as a propaganda tool "for the glory of Rostraan!" What they actually got, thanks to careless inbreeding experiments by their horticultural scientists ("The Rostraan Scientific Method"), was a vast crop of second-rate soldiers bred for bloody-mindedness.

The Rostraan Forces are noted for their lack of success on the battlefield. Legendary are their losses throughout the Universe, e.g. the Rostraan Rout at Triangulum[1], the Rostraan Reversal along the Monoceros Ring[2], the Rostraan Wreck at Dwingeloo[3], and the Charge of the Rostraan Faster-than-Light Brigade (in "The Rostraan Ruse"). Even pitted against an inferior species like the Blorgons, the Rostraans have achieved only humiliating stalemates. Their only successes have been Pyrrhic victories against their sworn enemies the Tourans. This is mainly because the Tourans have no natural defence against their advanced weapons, which are supplied to the Rostraans by shady arms dealers like Sid.

The Inspector often intercedes in these conflicts to save not only other species from the Rostraans, but also the Rostraans from themselves—to say nothing of the collateral destruction.

The Sixth Inspector: I have to intervene with the Rostraans, Pippi. Those weapons have definitely fallen into the wrong claws and could cause serious damage throughout the Universe!
Pippi: Like giving a troop of baboons assault rifles, eh?
The Sixth Inspector: Except the baboons would be better regimented, better shots, and better sports.



A Rostraan Oligarch

In designing characters for Inspector Spacetime, the BTV costuming department decided to come up with a creature that would tap into the deepest aversions of children: vegetables. Therefore, the Rostraans were conceived to look like ambulatory courgettes (in the scripts they were jokingly referred to as "marrow-heads").

Originally the Rostraans were portrayed as diminutive beings only five feet tall. With the programme's revival, a decision was made to make more imposing, and the modern Rostraan now stands over seven feet tall. In colour Rostraans range from olive green and orange to beet red and aubergine, which also denotes their social caste. For example, the red ones are considered "ripe" for battle and are unusually bellicose, and the Oligarchy comprises exclusively the purple ones.

Embryonic rostraan

The Inspector discovers a Rostraan soldier shoot on Earth.

A distinctive advantage of the Rostraan army is its ability to grow a platoon of soldiers when needed for battle, which can be accomplished in a short time with good soil and adequate moisture. The harvested amount of soldiers is bountiful, which means that their forces are never decimated for long. Earth makes a superior breeding ground for new troops, hence their many failed attempts to conquer the planet.

Rostraans have seven sexes, all related to different stages and roles in their pollination process. As a result, they don't understand the simplicity of human genders, frequently getting gender-specific pronouns incorrect—a running gag with the character Stalx.

Rostraans have two weaknesses: bullets (of course) or a blow applied to either of its two crowning stamen (discreetly done off-camera during the classic series but with a double entendre in the new one).


  • BTV's Oxbridge-educated writers ostentatiously named them after the Roman Rostra, the orators' platform in the Forum that was also used for displaying the heads of defeated enemies of state during the late Republic.
  • One of the reasons the Rostraans enjoy cult status with fans are the many colourful lines written for them, often recited from memory at InSpecTiCon conventions, e.g.:
The Fourth Inspector: Ah, the superior Rostraan Army, waging war for thousands of years and still haven't won a battle! Except against your sworn enemies the Tourans—but then again, when you're armed to the teeth and use those weapons against harmless jelly creatures…
Commander: SHUT YER GOB!
"Yo, Rostraan HO! Yo, Rostraan HO! Rostra-a-an HO! Yo, Rostraan HO!" —Rostraan Battle Hymn (sung to the tune of "The Song of the Volga Boatmen")

  1. The Triangulum Galaxy is a "pinwheel" galaxy in the constellation of the same name.
  2. The Monoceros Ring is a 200,000-light-year-long filament of stars that circles the Milky Way galaxy three times.
  3. Dwingeloo 1 is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia.
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