- This article is about the character from Robotech. See Maximilian Jenius for the original inspiration for this character in The Super Dimension Fortress Macross.
Maximillian Sterling, voiced by Cam Clarke (credited as "Jimmy Flinders" at the time), is one of the fictional characters in the Robotech anime television series. He is a young fighter pilot assigned to Rick Hunter's various commands (Black Group, Vermillion Team, and Skull Squadron) along with Ben Dixon. He is 19 years old at the beginning of the Robotech's "Macross Saga" and is easily recognized by his blue hair and glasses. His unassuming personality belies his deadly prowess as the SDF-1’s most renowned Veritech pilot. Max is preternaturally talented with near-perfect fighting judgment. He is widely recognized to be the most dangerous Veritech combat pilot in the entire Robotech universe.
Orphaned during the Global War, Max nonetheless had an avid interest in flying and military technology, although he originally had no interest in joining the military. According to the Robotech: Love and War comics, Max, along with his friend Ben Dixon, was in attendance for the celebration at Macross Island that marked the SDF-1's maiden launch when the Zentraedi attacked. During the attack, Max becomes one of the first humans to see a Zentraedi in person. He is rescued from the attack by Lieutenant Jonathan Wolfe.
Like many of the civilians stranded aboard the battle fortress, Max volunteered for the effort to rebuild Macross City inside the ship. Due to boredom, both he and Ben volunteered for the SDF-1's military forces and began training as veritech pilots several months later. After completing training, Max promised Ben's mother that he would take care of Ben and ensure his safety. However, Max is unable to keep this promise as Ben dies in the line of duty in the First Robotech War.
First Robotech War
Max wasted little time distinguishing himself among both his fellow RDF pilots and their Zentraedi adversaries, as he notched nine confirmed kills in his first combat sortie in his trademark blue VF-1. Max was recognized as a true aviation prodigy, and his potential earned the attention of Roy Fokker, the SDF-1’s air group commander, who then assigned both Max and Ben to the newly created Vermillion group under the command of Lt. Rick Hunter. In the course of the war, Max's skills were put to an ultimate test of survival during a reconnaissance mission that the Vermillion Group undertook to scout Zentraedi targets. After escaping capture by Zentraedi under the command of Breetai, he infiltrated Breetai's battleship in his Veritech and disguised it with a Zentraedi uniform. Max then helped Rick and Ben pilot a Zentraedi battlepod back to the SDF-1.
His fighting prowess eventually gained the attention of Zentraedi Quadrano ace Miriya Parina, who then sought him out in a furious battle that found its way into the streets of Macross City. Unbeknown to Max, his defeat of the Zentraedi force’s finest pilot made him marked for death by Miriya, who becomes so obsessed with finding him that she has herself micronized to human size in order to infiltrate the SDF-1 in an effort to find him. After several near encounters, Max and Miriya finally confronted each other in a video game clash at an arcade. Max again defeats Miriya and Miriya concludes (correctly) that Max is the pilot who had bested her in real combat. As Miriya storms off in anger, Max grabs her wrist and asks her to go out with him on a date. Miriya accepts, although she secretly plots to kill him when they meet.
Max, after consulting with his friend Rick Hunter about what he should wear, arrives at the park where he eagerly awaits Miriya's arrival. Hiding in the bushes, Miriya draws a knife and runs toward Max who, proclaiming in English a Zentraedi war cry: "Maximillian, prepare for your doom!" and throws the knife at him. Despite the surprise, Max is able to dodge Miriya's first attack and the knife buries itself in a tree. Miriya reveals that she is a Zentraedi warrior and that her mission is to take revenge against him, prompting Max to say "There goes our first date." Drawing a second knife, she continues to swing and thrust at Max, who struggles to dodge her attacks. Max manages to pull the first knife out of the tree and after a short fight, Max manages to disarm her and points the knife at her face while proudly proclaiming "I guess I win again." Beaten for a third time, Miriya becomes emotionally despondent and her anger and hatred give way to sadness. She falls to her knees, and asks a now shocked Max to kill her. Crying, Miriya believes she cannot live with the shame of being defeated and that her only option now to die by his hand. Yet despite all that has just occurred, Max puts his finger under Miriya's chin and says that he could never harm her because she is "so beautiful". Max and Miriya look into each other's eyes and Miriya realizes that the feelings that Max has awoken within her are not of hate but of love and the two, after seeming floating in air towards each other, passionately kiss. Max wipes a tear from Miriya's cheek and, although he admits it sounds crazy, asks Miriya to marry him. Miriya accepts, even though she has no idea what marriage is and despite the fact that the two have only been in love for a few moments.
Later, Max meets with Rick Hunter to explain what has transpired as well as his plans to marry Miriya. Rick, after spitting out his coffee in surprise, initially objects to Max's plans to marry Miriya and ridicules them as "silly idealism". Rick asks, aside from the fact that he and Miriya have only been on one date, what a human and a Zentraedi could possibly have in common. Max vigorously defends his plan to marry Miriya and introduces her to Rick. Rick, after seeing Miriya in a pink dress, is amazed at how beautiful she is and he suddenly changes his mind. Rick even agrees to help them with their wedding plans.
The two former rivals, now completely in love despite their rocky start, are married the very same day, using the same knives they fought with to cut the cake at a huge ceremony attended by all their friends and broadcast on television across the SDF-1. Captain Henry J. Gloval even speaks at the wedding to congratulate the two lovers and to call for peace between the two races. Even the Zentraedi observe the wedding by way of intercepted television signals, and many, including Breetai and Exedore, watch with curiosity. Many Zentraedi, after watching the wedding and joy that it has brought to the two lovers, become even more attracted to the human way of life and further question their current austere lives as warriors.
As the first marriage between a human and a Zentraedi, the union of Max and Miriya became an unlikely symbol of peace and understanding during the First Robotech War. The wedding is interrupted by a massive Zentraedi attack as Breetai is ordered by Dolza to send his entire fleet to destroy the SDF-1. Max and Miriya race off to battle, with Miriya insisting Max take her with him in his veritech fighter. Miriya shows Max how to disable Zentraedi power armor without killing the pilots, a tactic which is then utilized by the SDF-1's forces. This development, combined with their increased exposure to human emotions and culture (which was amplified by seeing Miriya, their greatest warrior, get married to a human) causes a wave of mutinies to spread through the Zentraedi fleet as soldiers refuse to fight and turn against their superiors, forcing Breetai to call a truce. Thus, Max's decision to spare Miriya's life not only led to his marriage to his former rival but also saved the lives of everyone aboard the SDF-1. Afterwards, Miriya becomes Max's wingmate on duty, piloting a distinctive red VF-1 alongside Max's blue one. The two are almost always together, even in battle. In the final battle against Dolza's Grand Fleet, the two fight side by side in their veritechs. Despite the seemingly impossible odds they face, they smile at each as they engage the enemy fleet.
After the war
After the Zentraedi Fleet that nearly destroys the earth is vanquished, Max and Miriya settle down in New Macross City and begin a new life together. In October 2012, Miriya gives birth to a daughter, Dana Sterling, the first child born from a Human/Zentraedi union. Max, now aged 22, becomes a proud and happy father, despite Dana's playfulness with his hair and her midnight feedings. In episode 28, "Reconstruction Blues", Max and Miriya are seen happily walking together while pushing a baby carriage. They stop for a moment and Max, proudly smiling, lifts little Dana out of the carriage and into his arms as Miriya watches with joy. Max then makes a funny face and Dana smiles in response. Max and Miriya's happy marriage and their baby daughter become the envy of Lisa Hayes and Claudia Grant.
With his new family, Max is happier than he has ever been before and Miriya, despite her previous life as a ruthless Zentraedi warrior, proves to be a happy and loving mother, who shows as much love and caring for her child as any human mother could. Both look forward to raising their daughter in a peaceful world, but the start of the Zentraedi rebellions in March 2013 and the reemergence of Khyron and Azonia forces Max and Miriya to resume their military roles as veritech fighter pilots as the dream of a peaceful world soon comes crashing down.
In June 2013, Max and Miriya take part in an important mission into deep space to capture the last remaining Zentraedi Factory Satellite. The mission proves highly unorthodox when Admiral Henry J. Gloval asks them to bring Dana (who is only eight months old) along. However, the plan soon becomes clear. After Breetai's ship defolds near the factory, Max and Miriya take off in their Veritech fighters and blast their way into the enemy command ship. Immediately surrounded by Zentraedi soldiers, Commander Reno orders them to surrender. However, Miriya calmly reaches into her fighter and lifts little Dana into view. Dana, cradled in Miriya's arms and wearing a tiny pink and white Dr. Denton's spacesuit is an object of terror to the hostile Zentraedi, who have had no exposure to human culture and have never seen a baby before. The surrounding Zentraedi soldiers recoil in shock and fear while Max smiles as Miriya explains that their child was "actually created inside my own body - but by both of us" as she indicates towards him. The hostile Zentraedi conclude Dana is a mutation who is contagious and flee in terror. This throws the command ship's crew into chaos which causes disorder throughout the enemy fleet, allowing the United Earth Forces to seize the factory.
In December 2013, Max and Miriya join the in attempt to stop Khyron as he steals a protoculture matrix from New Macross City. However, after Khyron detonates bombs hidden throughout the city, they are forced to turn back to help rescue civilians from the resulting fires. Despite the misery that occurs so close to Christmas, Max and Miriya happily stand on their balcony later that night and watch the SDF-1 lit up with Christmas lights. Once again smiling, Max puts one arm around his wife and with the other lifts little Dana, who is initially startled onto his shoulder. Dana then starts pulling on Max's hair while giggling, causing Max to grumble in response.
In January 2014, Max and Miriya again fight alongside Rick Hunter in the final battle against Khyron and rebel Zentraedi. However, despite their efforts, Khyron is still able to steer his warship in a suicide run against the SDF-1, destroying it and rendering New Macross City uninhabitable due to the radioactive fallout from the ships' destruction. Like Rick, Max and Miriya are devastated by the loss of their friends but find the strength to carry on. Both continue to serve as pilots during the remaining Zentraedi rebellions of 2014 and 2015.
Their child, Dana Sterling, would later become a leading figure in the Second Robotech War pitting the United Earth Forces, including the elite Army of the Southern Cross against the Robotech Masters when they arrive in Earth orbit in 2029. Like her parents, Dana proves to be a skilled pilot and plays a critical role in saving humanity from alien threats. Dana also inherits her parents' strength and perseverance, as well as their tactical instincts.
Throughout the 35 years (2009–2044) that currently span the Robotech Saga, Max is portrayed as Rick Hunter's most trusted lieutenant through all of his commands and campaigns as well as his best friend. Max and Miriya are depicted as the perfect couple, always together and always in love and symbolize the best of both Humans and the Zentraedi in the numerous challenges they face.
Robotech Expeditionary Force
In December 2022, Max and Miriya joined their friends Rick and Lisa Hayes-Hunter aboard the SDF-3 as part of the Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF). By this point Max has gotten his hair cut shorter, possibly because he didn't like his daughter Dana playing with it when she was an infant. Although difficult for them, they left a young Dana on Earth with her godfather, General Rolf Emerson and his wife Laura. Dana, the only child of a human/Zentraedi union, was deemed by Professor Lazlo Zand to be too scientifically valuable to risk going with the REF. Max and Miriya hoped that the mission would be over quickly but events would keep the SDF-3 away from Earth for the rest of Dana's childhood. Dana eventually becomes one who first graduates from the Robotech Military Academy, following in the footsteps of her parents. During the mission, Max assumed Rick's former role as commander of the famed Skull Squadron. The REF expedition, which failed to return to Earth against the Robotech Masters, got caught in a war with the Invid on a number of planets, as chronicled in Robotech II: The Sentinels and was unable to send significant aid back to Earth during the Second Robotech War. REF divisions were sent against the Invid following the invasion of Earth in 2031 but all failed against the Invid's superior numbers.
During the expedition, which lasts almost 22 years, Max and Miriya have a second daughter, Maia Sterling, who assumes command of Skull Squadron from her father before the battle of Reflex Point in 2044. Like Dana, Maia proves herself to be a highly skilled pilot. The canonical status of Aurora Sterling, who is a character in the decanonized Jack McKinney novels, is unknown, although it has been suggested that Maia is meant to replace Aurora in the rebooted Robotech timeline.
Third and Fourth Robotech Wars
Max is never mentioned in either Robotech's third generation saga or Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. Max is not seen in the Wildstorm Comic Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles but he is referred to in dialogue which confirms that he is still alive and serving as Admiral Rick Hunter's closest advisor. In 2044, as the REF prepares for a full-scale assault against the Invid on Earth, Rick called for Max to join him aboard the SDF-3 and give his thoughts when the ship was testing the Neutron-S Missiles. Max was most likely aboard the SDF-3 after the test firing of a Neutron-S missile in the Omicron Sector went terribly wrong. General Reinhardt sends Captain Vince Grant to investigate but the rescue mission fails, and the fate of the SDF-3 and its crew are unknown (although it is stated at the end of the movie the SDF-3 may not have been destroyed). The quest to find the SDF-3 was a major plot thread in the Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles and Max's fate may possibly be decided in a future Robotech installment.
- Robotech, episode 24: Showdown (summary available at Episode 24: Showdown at Robotech.com
- Robotech, episode 25: Wedding Bells (summary available at Episode 25: Wedding Bells at Robotech.com
- Robotech, episode 27: Force of Arms (summary available at Episode 27: Force of Arms at Robotech.com
- Robotech, Episode 28: Reconstruction Blues (summary available at Episode 28: Reconstruction Blues at Robotech.com
- Robotech, Episode 30: Viva Miriya (summary available at Episode 30: Viva Miriya at Robotech.com
- Robotech, Episode 35: Season's Greetings (summary available at Episode 35: Season's Greetings at Robotech.com
- Robotech, Episode 36: To the Stars (summary available at Episode 36: To the Stars at Robotech.com
- See Robotech II: The Sentinels
- The Devil's Hand, (book 13 of the Robotech novel series) by Jack McKinney.
- Robotech Timeline - New Generation, at Robotech.com.
- ROBOTECH.COM - Harmony Gold's Official Character Biography for Maximillian Sterling