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Top 10 Fictional Salutes

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Garrett Alden These are no simple gestures! Join as we count down our choices for the Top 10 Fictional Salutes in Movies and TV. For this list, we're defining salutes as a standardized gesture or greeting between more than two people. Special thanks to our user OctopusOfDoom for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 10 Fictional Salutes

These are no simple gestures! Join as we count down our choices for the Top 10 Fictional Salutes in Movies and TV.

For this list, we’re defining salutes as a standardized gesture or greeting between more than two people. This means no secret handshakes, at least between a pair of friends. We’ll be ranking our entries based on the salute’s visual appeal, complexity, and recognition in pop culture.

#10: Hail Skroob
“Spaceballs” (1987)

“Spaceballs” has its fair share of irreverent humor and the President Skroob salute is no exception. Although it starts off like the universal way to tell someone to go screw themselves, the twist into a dainty wave is classic Mel Brooks humor. Then again, given Skroob’s preferred “under covers” activity, the vulgarity of this salute definitely makes sense. If you’re in a room full of people hailing the president of Planet Spaceball, then you’re clearly surrounded by assholes.

#9: Zoltan
“Dude, Where’s My Car?” (2000)

The two moronic protagonists of “Dude, Where’s My Car?” come across an assortment of bizarre characters in their travels, including some bubble-wrap-wearing UFO cultists that follow a charismatic leader, Zoltan. To salute him, the cultists form the letter “Z” with their hands and say his name. The heroes become a bit too enthusiastic about imitating them, however, and are soon discovered. What may surprise you is that a real life baseball team adopted this salute –because they thought it was dumb. Beginning in 2012, the Pittsburgh Pirates used “Zoltan” to congratulate one another silently. Fans soon started doing it and they even succeeded in getting the actor who played Zoltan to deliver a first pitch.

#8: By Grabthar’s Hammer
“Galaxy Quest” (1999)

Played by Alan Rickman, Alexander Dane is a trained Shakespearean actor who’s best known for portraying Dr. Lazarus, the alien crewmember on the “Star Trek” pastiche, “Galaxy Quest.” Dane’s entire career has been defined by an infuriating salute and an even more infuriating catchphrase. He absolutely loathes his fans that constantly bombard him with the immortal line. After becoming involved in a real space adventure and an alien fan dies in his arms, however, Dane utters the line with complete sincerity. Well, that was an unexpected tearjerker.

#7: Fire Nation Salute
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-08) & “The Legend of Korra” (2012-14)

The militaristic Fire Nation’s salute is meant to resemble a tear-shaped flame, which is also the land’s official emblem. The fist placed below a straight palm is, in keeping with the Nation’s emphasis on honor, representative of prostrating oneself before a superior. The gesture is used everywhere from the military to the schools, though the latter is probably in preparation for the former. No offense to the Fire Nation, but we’re for Team Avatar all the way.

#6: Nanu Nanu
“Mork & Mindy” (1978-82)

While some might draw comparisons to a certain other television alien’s salute that also involves splitting your fingers apart, “nanu nanu” is as unique as the Orkan who first introduced it to us. Mork from Ork, played by a young Robin Williams, first demonstrated the Orkan gesture on his date with Laverne, who would ironically also get her own spinoff from “Happy Days. “Nanu nanu” can be used both to greet people and bid them goodbye, similar to Hawaii’s “aloha.” In that sense, maybe Orkans and Earthlings are more similar than we realized.

#5: Hail HYDRA
Marvel Cinematic Universe (2011-)

Whether they’re spelling it with an “e” or an “a,” “Hail Hydra” is the salute used by SHIELD’s rival organization among its own members. The original salute came to prominence during the Second World War, where the Nazi group under Red Skull added another arm and two fists to the usual salute of the Third Reich. Modern members, however, usually salute verbally to affirm their loyalty. After all, it’s not something you want to go around bragging about.

#4: The District 12 Sign
“The Hunger Games” franchise (2012-15)

Although a sign made by holding your middle three fingers together isn’t exactly original (Boy Scouts anyone?), the one used by Katniss Everdeen and the other residents of District 12 does have a rich history and meaning behind it. The gesture was an out of fashion salute seen sometimes at funerals, but it evolved into a more general way of showing respect after Katniss uses it during the games. Take that President Snow! IRL, it’s also a handy way of identifying fellow fans of the series.

#3: Rimmer’s Salute(s)
“Red Dwarf” (1988-)

Throughout this sci-fi comedy series, Arnold Rimmer provides various takes on the classic military gesture. A consummate suck-up, Rimmer is always out to please authority, and his salutation is as over-the-top, pretentious, and long-winded as the man himself. The salute’s longest iteration is especially hilarious, taking what should be a simple hand motion and practically turning it into a dance. The Red Dwarf’s resident brownnoser may be ridiculous, but we love to imitate him just the same.

#2: High Commander’s Salute
“3rd Rock from the Sun” (1996-2001)

Incoming message from the Big Giant Head! “3rd Rock’s” resident aliens have salutes as wacky as they come. Our pick for this list has to go to the one reserved for the High Commander himself, Dick Solomon. Essentially a facepalm with a twist, the alien leader pulls it off without batting an eye and certainly with more dignity than we can. On the other hand, he doesn’t have much hair to mess up. But that’s never kept Dick from having self-confidence.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Military Salute
“Attack on Titan” (2013-)
- Be Seeing You
“The Prisoner” (1967-68)
- Jaffa Salute
“Stargate SG-1” (1997-2007)
- International Sign of the Doughnut
“Mars Attacks!” (1996)

#1: Vulcan Salute
“Star Trek” franchise (1966-)

Could it be anything else? Sure, some of the hardcore “Star Trek” fans are probably shouting “Qapla!” at their screens right now. Not everyone speaks Klingon, however, and the Vulcan salute is much more ingrained in the public consciousness. Its origins in the “Trek” universe have yet to be revealed, although we think it’s a tribute to the pointy ears. In the real world, the late, great Leonard Nimoy developed it. The actor who made Mr. Spock a pop culture icon based it off of a Jewish gesture he learned in his youth, as well as Winston Churchill’s victory sign. Live long and prosper, Mr. Nimoy.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite made-up salute? For more signaling Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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