Over the last five decades, scientific ocean drilling has addressed a wide array of themes important to the Earth, ocean, and life sciences, adding valuable information to studies that required knowledge of the subseafloor environment to make progress. But it has also opened up new areas of research that would otherwise not be possible. This special issue of Oceanography can highlight only a few examples of such triumphs. Indeed, the repertoire and impact of scientific ocean drilling is far deeper than can be captured in these pages, transcending many disciplines, and enriching the work of thousands of researchers worldwide. Scientific ocean drilling has matured in parallel with emerging challenges in the Earth, ocean, and life sciences, remaining as relevant a scientific endeavor as it was in the early days of the Deep Sea Drilling Project in the late 1960s.