What the Shock? Fantasy/Sci-Fi's Top Fictional Profanities1 of 12By Lucas Siegel, Newsarama Editor and Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer
Language is always evolving. At one point, contractions did not er, didn't exist.
As such, it makes sense that when wanting to depict the future or a strange land in fantasy or sci-fi, writers add some new words to the mix. And, just like any language, a lot of them are curse words. Some are funny, some are kinda icky ("smeg" from Red Dwarf, we're looking at you). Some have even entered the popular vernacular sure, they're made-up words, but aren't they all?
With Legion Lost #1 part of DC's "The New 52" relaunch and starring members of the 31st century curse word-spouting Legion of Super-Heroes in stores this week, Newsarama takes the occasion to look at some of the best fictional profanities in the history of fantasy and science fiction.
Click "start here" in the upper-left corner to begin the countdown, and help fill up your futuristic swear jar.
KVARK (Star Wars: Ewoks)2 of 12There's surprisingly little fake swearing in the Star Wars universe. Sure, you have your "nerfherder" and your "poodoo," but over all there's not really a universal swear used across the multiple mediums. Wanting to include the venerable Sci-Fi/Fantasy franchise, we took a look deep into the archives and found that the cutest beings in the universe are also one of the most vulgar!
"Oh, Kvark" is what cute little Wickett liked to say on the Ewoks animated series (Newsarama Trivia Note: many of which were written by Paul Dini of Batman fame!), along with a few other Ewok expletives that were shouted on occasion. It's kind of fun to say, and you can safely say it around anyone who speaks Hungarian or Swedish; they'll just think you're talking about nuclear physics.
DROKK (Judge Dredd)3 of 12All most people in the United States know of Judge Dredd is the 1995 Sylvester Stallone-starred movie, which was savaged by critics and features Rob Schneider (and, somewhat bafflingly, Diane Lane). That's a shame, since it was based on one of the most popular and enduring characters in British comics, with a 35-year legacy that includes contributions from superstar writers like Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Garth Ennis.
Like much of this list, Judge Dredd takes place in a dystopian future, where things are so bad, they have to make up their own curse words. The residents of Mega-City One essentially the east coast of the United States rolled up into one, well, mega-city prefer "drokk," which is sort of a catch-all for several different swears, and proof that in the future, man evolves from four-letter words to five.
FRELL (Farscape)4 of 12Speaking of five-letter words: "frell" originates from the TV series Farscape, which ran on Sci-Fi from 1999 to 2003 and boasted heavy involvement from The Jim Henson Company.
Though Farscape is a sci-fi show that made good use of fictional swear words, it's not set in the future it actually chronicled the adventures of a contemporary astronaut named John Crichton who fell through a wormhole and ended up on the other side of the universe. (No one said space travel wasn't risky.)
Much like another very famous fictional f-word from a sci-fi TV series (more on that one later), frell was a substitute for the most famous f-word of them all.
ANDRASTE'S FLAMING KNICKERS (Dragon Age)5 of 12In the Dragon Age series of video games (and novels, and an upcoming animated movie, and an upcoming comic series from Dark Horse, etc., etc.), Andraste was the "spiritual" wife of The Maker, their version of God. She was basically responsible for the destruction of the evil mage empire, and the matriarch of the Chantry, the prevailing religion across the world.
And then she was executed, burning to death.
Sad story, but thanks to that, we get the glorious curse referring to her grisly death, and Anders gets to say something besides "I'll show you why mages are feared" in Dragon Age II.
SHOCK (Marvel 2099)6 of 12In 1992, Marvel introduced their "Marvel 2099" imprint, which featured takes on classic characters set in the year 2099, along with some new ones created specifically for the future timeline. (Like Ravage 2099, a latter-day Stan Lee creation.)
And what better way to make sure readers know it's the future than some newly made-up curse words? Enter "shock," most commonly seen in phrases like "What the shock?" and uttered by everyone from Miguel O'Hara, Marvel 2099's Spider-Man, to Victor Von Doom, Marvel 2099's Doctor Doom. (Because no one can truly replace Doom.)
MERLIN'S BEARD (Harry Potter)7 of 12The characters in the Harry Potter series live in "our" world, they're just behind the scenes of it most of the time. As such, they do use standard swear words; we catch the kids say "effing" in the books, for example.
However, they also have the alternative of using the much more fun, and much more magical, curse of "Merlin's Beard!" This of course refers to the great wizard Merlin, who is also how they gauge their master wizarding levels. But using his beard as a curse is more fun than being an "order of Merlin, first class," isn't it?
BASTICH (Lobo)8 of 12One of the most popular DC characters of the early '90s, Lobo is not only "the main man" but a hard-edged Czarnian bounty hunter. As you might expect from an alien soldier-of-fortune who rides a motorcycle capable of intergalactic travel, the dude curses a lot, and it's in his own, distinct manner.
Along with "frag" an actual military term currently appropriated by video game culture Lobo's go-to space slang is "bastich," a combination of two words generally considered off-limits in polite company (even when referring to a child born out of wedlock and a female dog).
GORRAM (Firefly)9 of 12Joss Whedon had to show up on this list eventually didn't he? The Whedon property that probably has the most loyal followers also only lasted for one season. If it has one lasting influence on pop culture, though, it's "Gorram."
On the show, the characters spoke a combination of English and Chinese. Then sometimes they just spoke words that in either language are gibberish, like Gorram. It sounds enough like a common swear word that you know it's a swear, but is different enough that it can be said on network television. It's easy to remember, and rolls right off the tongue. It's a Gorram good curse word, and one browncoats still use on a regular basis.
GRIFE, SPROCK (Legion of Super-Heroes)10 of 12As the DC Universe's resident 31st century superheroes, the Legion of Super-Heroes are not only from the far-flung future, but they're mostly teenagers; essentially the perfect storm of fictional profanity usage.
As such, they've got a few different gems, with two of the most common being "grife" and "sprock." "Grife" is a stand-in for the deity of your choice "for Grife's sake!" and "sprock," well, you can probably decipher that one for your own sprocking self.
In the world of the Legion, these words are universal, too the United Planets use a unified language called Interlac, spoken throughout the universe.
FRAK (Battlestar Galactica)11 of 12When Battlestar Galactica got a 21st Century makeover, gone were the comedic and cheesy elements of the mid-seventies, and in came a smart, adult thriller. And when it came time to curse, they just didn't give a frak if there were real words they could use, they stuck with the one from the original series (albeit with a slightly altered spelling).
Frak this, frak that, I'd frak her, those two were fraking... It's pretty easy to see which particular four-letter word this one is taking the place of. It's even moved outside of the show in the world of pop culture, when Salma Hayek's character on "30 Rock" was seen in a "What the Frak?" shirt. Syfy (back when they were Sci-Fi Channel) even embraced the word's popularity, creating a recap video called "What the frak is going on?"
That's why this is our frakin' top sci-fi or fantasy swear word.
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