Most stories featuring ships tend to give them a name: the Millennium Falcon, the Great Fox, the USS Enterprise, the Blackbird, the Pequod. But Samus Aran’s iconic gunship doesn’t have one.
Samus has a gunship in almost every Metroid game, although it has undergone several repairs and upgrades over the course of her career. Zero Mission and Prime 3 are the exceptions; her long-winged Zero Mission ship gets destroyed and never returns. In Prime 3, Samus builds a ship that doesn’t appear in any other game. Most of the rest of the time, though, Samus flies a ship that looks similar to the design of her power suit helmet. It’s orange-red with a green window in front.
It’s a Hunter class starship, and Prime 2 describes it as “one of a kind, its distinct hull lines marking it to friend and foe alike. Custom built for you...” You’d think a unique, custom-built ship would merit a name, and yet there isn’t one.
The games don’t stipulate whether Samus Aran is driving the exact same ship every time and making repairs to its exterior, or if she owns several different ships that have minute differences between them. In Prime and Hunters, for example, the ship doesn’t have the characteristic ridges on the top. In Prime 2, Metroid II, Super Metroid, Other M, and Fusion, the ship has several pronounced ridges, but otherwise looks very similar.
Image: Metroid manga
The Metroid manga gives a rare glimpse into Samus Aran’s interior life, and she does seem like the type of person who would name a ship. In the first volume, she docks the unnamed gunship at a small space station where she lives alone. Her inner monologue tells us about her memories of her childhood and the first time she met the Chozo. In their first interaction, one of the Chozo encourages Samus to give a name to a wild rabbit that she finds, emphasising the importance of names. Samus then learns that Chozo’s name and, later, when she faces Ridley, she makes sure that she knows his name, too.
All of the Chozo technology that Samus learns how to use has a name. The space stations and planets have names, or at least labels. Yet Samus has never given a name to her own ship. She never uncorked a champagne bottle and sprayed the interior of her second home with bubbles, honouring it with a moniker.
The gunship gets damaged and crash-lands many times in Metroid games. In Fusion, the iconic gunship gets destroyed for the last time. Perhaps Samus didn’t want to put a name on yet another companion that she could lose.