We live in a world where managing a fleet incorrectly can cost you hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars. However, in worlds of popular culture, fantasy, and science fiction, a mismanaged fleet can cost you your life. A mistake could lead to the loss of your sovereignty, your power, or even your home. These huge teams of characters need to communicate and work together effectively to meet their goals, whether those goals include destroying their enemies, taking over Westeros, or exploring the galaxy.
But what would we have to say to the characters managing these fleets, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and what can we, in turn, learn from their shortfalls?
We’ve stacked fictional fleets against each other using a simple system, rating them based on some of our real world fleet management key performance indicators (KPIs). Here are the key measurement categories we used to rank them:
- Driver Behavior: All fleets are comprised of individuals. Those individuals need to be very talented, focused, and be able to listen to commands. Strong-willed and intense individuals who struggle with following orders, like those in Top Gun and The Fast and the Furious franchise, might have issues. Rebellious characters are certainly more fun to watch, but their inability to work with others can lead to disastrous results, as seen in those movies. In the real world, driver behavior is essential to study in order to promote safe driving habits.
- Fleet Maintenance: How often do vehicles within the fleet require major and minor fixes? How often does forward momentum need to stop in order for someone to “pull over” (which, in this context, could mean floating vulnerably in space)? Usually, because maintenance is dull to watch, we don’t see characters fixing up their vehicles. There are exceptions. For instance, the War Boys from Mad Max: Fury Road are constantly needing to maintain their vehicles. But, in any situation, fleet maintenance is essential in real life.
- Reactive Capability: This is important especially in the fantasy and sci-fi realms, where whole groups need to be able to adapt quickly to the ridiculous, strange, and intimidating enemies or obstacles they may suddenly stumble across. Flexibility to change and improve a plan is absolutely key. The Star Trek universe is famous for its captains switching up plans, changing course, and coming up with new ideas on the fly. We should all hope to be so adaptable!
- Environmental Impact: One might argue that space fleets and land armadas of fiction don’t concern themselves with the environment they’re steamrolling over. By-and-large, that’s correct. But that’s not something we can afford to ignore on Earth
- Managerial Control: The manager or leader of the fleet is important. One that fails to communicate quickly can harm the performance of the entire fleet. Smart and effective managers like Daenerys Targaryen, Captain Kirk, or Elizabeth Swan can help the entire group operate more effectively. This KPI measures the extent of effective control the leader has over the group.
From Daenerys’s Fleet of ships (and dragons) in Game of Thrones to the Rebel Fleet from the Star Wars universe, and many in between, find out how your favorite fictional fleets rank against each other.