The Big Bad Is Back!
The original Star Trek series gave us the redshirts – a term, I note, that has grown so popular that my word processor acknowledges it as a word. The concept is even so pervasive that John Scalzi has a successful SF novel about redshirts (which I wrote about previously here).
That has me wondering, what other terms from fantasy and SF television are growing into common use among geeks?
The first one that comes to mind is “big bad,” which comes to us from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Originally, the phrase was used by Spike to refer to himself in lines like “the big bad is back.” Later it became used by Buffy and Angel fans to refer to the main villain of a season’s arc. For example, the mayor of Sunnydale was the season three big bad. If I recall correctly, the show’s writers and producers began to use the term that way themselves, leading to season six in which “life” was supposed to be the big bad.*
I’ve noticed people using that phrase now to refer to things outside of Buffy: the villain of a video game, the primary antagonist of another show (often split by season), the major villain of a tabletop RPG, and so on. Heck, it now has its own Wikipedia entry.
I don’t think “big bad” has gotten as pervasive as redshirt, but redshirt has a few decades on it. I do think it’s on its way.
But I’m not sure I see any others on the horizon. It might help if I watched some of the more popular shows on broadcast networks and basic cable (not as a statement that I don’t, I just forget about them).
What do you think? Can you come up with any terms set to breakthrough into common geek parlance?
*Don’t get me started on this one.