Sci-fi is all about the world-building. From new cultures to alien races, you almost have to create a new sandbox to play in. And what does every real and fictional culture need? Language. And what does every language need? A few juicy expletives, that's what.
The legacy of fictional sci-fi curse words goes back decades and has become a popular way to circumvent FCC regulations that limit cursing on television. Everyone from Farscape to Star Wars has embraced the trend—so what are some of the classics?
Check 'em out below—with video examples when available.
"Frak," Battlestar Galactica (original and reboot)
What's it mean? The F-word. Created in the original, 1978 version of the show—and hugely popularized in the modern-day reimagining—"frak" is one of the few sci-fi bywords to become an actual part of the common vernacular. Frak, yeah.
What's it mean? G*ddamn. With Firefly, Joss Whedon imagined a rich future where cultures had melded into a weird English and semi-Chinese uber-language. In Whedon's vision, the common "g*ddamn" curse had been shorted by centuries of use.
"Smeg," Red Dwarf
What's it mean? Expletive, no definitive meaning given. A derogatory term used in the cult-classic British sci-fi series Red Dwarf, the funky word is still used by fans.
What's it mean? The F-word. Though it was never a monster hit, Farscape was popularizing its own F-word variant before the Battlestar Galactica reboot stole the show and brought "frak" back into the mainstream.
"Poodoo," Star Wars
What's it mean? Crap. George Lucas' word that developed to mean poo in the Star Wars universe.
What's it mean? Crap. Farscape developed a wealth of fictional curse words during its four-season run, but "dren" and "frell" were by far the most popular.
"Mik'ta," Stargate SG-1
What's it mean? Butt. With such a rich language built around the Goa'uld, it stands to reason that SG-1 would eventually introduce a curse word or two. It came late in the show's run, in the episode "Dead Man's Switch," where this byword for arse was born.
"Shazbot," Mork and Mindy
What's it mean? Crap. Robin Williams popularized this quirky curse word in the series Mork and Mindy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and its stuck around a few decades, eventually being embraced by the creators of the Tribes videogames.
"Shock," Spider-Man 2099
What's it mean? Crap. This one popped up in the 1990s futuristic run of Spider-Man, and just feels like it was coined in the '90s.
"Belgium," The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
What's it mean? Awful, but undefined, expletive. According to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Belgium" is the foulest word that can be uttered, except on Earth, where we're too dumb to get it.
"Felgercarb," Battlestar Galactica (original)
What's it mean? Crap. This one stemmed from the original series and, unlike "frak," was not popularized in the remake.
"Drokk," Judge Dredd
What's it mean? Expletive. A general expletive popularized in the Dredd comics.
What's it mean? The F-word. Another one Whedon wrote for use in the show, which was a stand-in the F-bomb.
"Frag," Babylon 5
What's it mean? The F-word. For the most part, maintaining the "F" is important to show viewers what your byword is representing, so Babylon 5 writers used "frag" to get away with those F-bomb expletives.