Nuke it from orbit refers to a memorable quote from Aliens, that became a popular catchphrase online, used for expressing disgust or disapproval.
“Nuke it from orbit” is similar in nature to another online slang expression, expressing aversion; kill it with fire.
Aliens premiered in the United States on July 14th, 1986.
In one of the scenes, a devastated team is contemplating the correct course of action, to take with a planet infested with aliens, when Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) proposes to “… nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to make sure”.
After a short debate, Corporal Hicks (portrayed by Michael Biehn) gives out orders to “Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to make sure”.
Online, the expression has appeared in the early 2000’s, especially on message boards and forums, such as 4chan, and Reddit.
“Nuke X from orbit” was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2003, with plenty of other entries written on the subject since then.
Clips from the scene would start emerging on YouTube in 2009, while image macros, depicting nuclear explosions, or Ripley would also start featuring the catchphrase.
Over the years, the meme would spread to sites, such as 9GAG, iFunny and me.me.
- Mygeekwisdom.com – “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”
- Urban Dictionary – Nuke it from orbit