It has been said that the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy outsold the venerable Encyclopedia Galactica because of two important things: First, it was slightly cheaper, but second, it had the words “Don’t Panic” inscribed in big, friendly letters on the cover.  Wise words indeed, and a mantra that makes perfect sense for explorers, scientists and indeed, anyone likely to deal with the unknown on a regular basis.

It is actually one of three important mantras I have adopted from pop culture (the others being Peter Tork’s wise utterance, “Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor” from ‘Head’, and “Hade ni ikuze!”), leading us to today’s philosophical query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) thinks that “Be excellent to each other” has to rank high on the list, asking: What wise words from fiction are the wisest words of all?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Ok this one is easy. From DUNE “Father,The Sleeper Has Awakened!” The reason why I like this one is that it talks about you obtaining your full potential and overcoming your fear to do so. Also it acknowledges the support that you had and letting them know you taking the next step.

  2. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
    Its the best because its true.

  3. I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world. – from Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

  4. Funny how something seemingly trivial like a quote from a book or movie can have an impact on your outlook, isn’t it? “Don’t Panic” and “Be Excellent to Each Other” are certainly high on my list of things I took to heart.

    Oddly enough, one of my favorites wasn’t really an inspirational quote or even from a character or franchise I particularly liked, but from Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean”:

    “The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude about the problem”.

    It is a reasonably more eloquent way of putting in words something I’ve always believed, that how you deal with what life throws at you is more important than “winning” or “losing” against what life throws at you. I’ve been sick and in pain my whole life, and I probably have every reason to be angry and miserable. But there is enough anger and misery in the world, and being angry or miserable isn’t helping me, it isn’t helping you, it isn’t helping anyone. I don’t want to add to that, I want to try to make the world a little more bearable.

  5. So many have guided me over the years: –

    “Don’t Panic!”

    “Do or do not. There is no try.”
    Also known by
    “Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later, get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do “yes”, or karate do “no”. You karate do “guess so”, just like grape.”

    But my favorite will always be
    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

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