Six Ridiculous Fictional Races from Otherwise Good Franchises
Star Wars. World of Warcraft. Star Trek. They’re all household names. You’d be hard-pressed to find a geek anywhere who wasn’t a fan of at least one of them and with good cause. They’re epic franchises with exciting, fantastical races – most of the time, anyway. However, everyone makes mistakes and their writers are no exception. Sometimes their creations are less than stellar and, sometimes, they fail to make any kind of rational sense whatsoever, leaving you to wonder what in holy hell they were smoking that they ever thought these things were good ideas.
During its seven season run, Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced us to many fascinating and powerful alien races. It also introduced us to the Pakleds.
As a race, the Pakleds seem to be, shall we say, “special.” If the galaxy was a school, the inhabitants of their planet would arrive on the short bus. The group encountered by the Enterprise described their mission as, “We look for things. Things that make us go.” And that was one of their more eloquent statements.
Upon viewing the episode, one has to wonder how the Pakleds manage to dress themselves in the morning, let alone pilot an advanced interstellar vessel. And yet, they manage to abduct the Enterprise’s chief engineer and generally cause all kinds of problems, despite bumbling around in such a way that to call them idiotic would be a disservice to idiots. There are a lot of things in the Star Trek universe that don’t make very much sense if you think about them too hard, but you don’t even need to think to realize that nothing about the Pakleds makes any kind of sense.
World of Warcraft is a game with many bizarre and colorful races and some of them – such as the bovine Tauren and walrus-like Tuskarr – admittedly border on the ridiculous. But the Draenei don’t just cross that border; they invade it en masse.
Draenei were originally introduced to the Warcraft universe as a simple, shamanistic people that shared the world of Draenor with the Orcs. But then came the Burning Crusade expansion and the Draenei were completely rewritten into a race of blue-skinned, tentacled-faced, cloven-hoofed, super-advanced space aliens/angelic warriors that traversed the universe in their glowing transdimensional ships, while also staying deeply in tune with nature and practicing humble shamanism.
We believe the proper internet slang for such a change is, “What is this I don’t even…”
In role-playing games, people often complain about players who make their characters into overpowered “Mary Sues”: they’re handsome, they can kill dragons with a single sword swing and they can resurrect the dead with their smile. The Draenei are like an entire race of these people. The have space age technology, they’re the Light’s chosen champions, they’re wise and noble and despite supposedly suffering thousands of years of endless genocide, they’re still the most friendly and cheerful race in the game.
In May of 1999, thousands of Star Wars fanatics queued up for one of the most anticipated films of all time: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. They came in with high hopes for the future of the epic saga, only to have those hopes crushed as they were confronted by three syllables that now send fear down the spines of sci-fi fans everywhere: Jar Jar Binks.
Jar Jar was a Gungan, a race seemingly designed to offend and irritate as many people as possible. From the over-the-top slapstick humor, to the irritating voices and even more irritating speech patterns, to the subtle undertones of racial stereotyping, everyone can find something about them to despise.
There are many questions raised by Gungans. Was George Lucas on drugs, or is he simply a sadist? How could everyone else associated with this movie let this happen and how do they sleep at night? Sadly, we may never know the answers to these questions and Gungans are likely to remain a terrible mystery, like the Bermuda Triangle and Jack the Ripper.
The Ferengi were originally introduced to Star Trek: The Next Generation with the intention of them being a race of mysterious and frightening villains. But the writers managed to miss this mark in record time.
Cartoonish in appearance and even more cartoonish in action, the Ferengi lost all their mystery and menace by the end of the first episode in which they appeared.
It had started out promising, with them being introduced as a powerful alien race rarely seen but known to be consumed by greed to the point where they lost all sense of morality.
But then the viewer gets their first look at them: short, gnome-like people armed with campy energy whips who prance around like flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.
And it was all downhill from there for the Ferengi. Each new appearance made them more of a caricature and less of a believable people, to the point where they became nothing but a joke race memorable only for their irritating voices, hideous looks and disturbing sexual perversions.
Like the Ferengi, the Murlocs were a race originally intended to invoke a sense of mystery and menace. A race of fish-men from the deep ocean who have begun invading the land, the Warcraft game manuals tell us they have advanced skills with strategy and weapons that belie their savage appearance.
This description has little in common with their in-game representation, however. Tiny and looking more comical than menacing, the Murlocs are never more than an annoyance for low level heroes, charging into combat with their trademark battle cry of “MMMRRRGLLMMRRGGLLL” to slap you around with their tiny fish hands.
For some strange reason, Murlocs have become a popular icon for many Warcraft fans and Blizzard (the company behind the Warcraft franchise) even offers Murloc plush toys. But this just goes to illustrate how far removed from their terrifying original concept the Murlocs have become.
If Gungans signaled the death of Star Wars’ credibility, then Ewoks mark the moment it was diagnosed as being terminally ill.
Let us set the stage for you. Hot off the massive success of the first two Star Wars films, the franchise has become a phenomenon. The epic conclusion to the trilogy, Return of the Jedi, promises to be another thrilling adventure for moviegoers everywhere. It is at this moment that George Lucas decides, “You know what this movie needs? CUTESY DANCING TEDDY BEARS!”
Why, Lucas? Why?
The only explanation for this horror that makes even the slightest bit of sense is that he was attempting to appeal to children. But really, did he even need to bother? The films were already hugely successful. We’re pretty sure kids weren’t looking at the movie posters and thinking, “Nah, those lightsabers and epic action sequences look boring. Now, if it had dancing teddy bears…”
There’s no logic that can be applied to Ewoks. They are a senseless assault on the public.
Tyler Edwards is a freelance writer. You can visit his blog at SuperiorRealities.