This speak type forcharacter has more muscle than brain.
They substitute "Me" for "I", or else refer to themselves in third person. They put special emphasis on nouns and verbs, and most extra parts of the sentence are lost. If any name is too long, it gets substituted with a cruder name/description (often "(Descriptive adjective)-man or -lady"). They also skip any and all articles ("a," "an," and "the"). Favored words in the Hulkspeak include "Smash", "Puny", and "Blank-thing" (e.g. "HULK SMASH PUNY LIZARD THING!" when fighting a velociraptor). Yes, the all-caps is necessary. The primary differences between Hulkspeak and Baby Talk are usually at least six feet and 300 pounds.note No, Baby Talk has nothing to do with octopi that recently won a lottery in Europe.
This is a common trait of Frankenstein's Monster, especially in adaptations of Frankenstein — although, in the original novel, the monster spoke perfect French. This is also typical of cavemen. (The Hulkspeak, not the perfect French.)
There is also a version sometimes seen in Japanese works (albeit not quite as often as in those written in English), where a character (usually a Funny Foreigner or Raised by Wolves type) is shown to speak in a somewhat broken fashion. Although still retaining the use of pronouns, they will often miss words used to bridge sentences and come off as simple or uneducated. English translations (particularly those written by Trish Ledoux), have a tendency to render this "broken Japanese" as out and out Hulk Speak.
Sometimes this dialect will spoof itself, with the character referring to complicated issues. ("Mongo only pawn in game of life.") Consistent with this, characters who use Hulk Speak often have surprising levels of intelligence and philosophical depth. In a sense, it could even be said that their form of speech is an intellectual advantage, as it allows them to simplify complex ideas.
Contrast with Genius Bruiser and Spock Speak: the former is when a big tough guy is highly intelligent, the latter is when someone speaks with an excessively stiff, formal language. The Genius Bruiser will sometimes use Hulk Speak to hide his intelligence. You No Take Candle is when a foreign character, usually as a result of poor grasp of English, speaks like this. When trying to describe more complicated concepts, will often overlap with Buffy Speak.
As with The Ditz, an easy way to derive humor from a character using Hulk Speak is to occasionally give them lines expressing more complicated concepts than their usual diction would imply they were capable of grasping. E.g. Thog's first line here and Draak's bit here.
And if it isn't obvious enough, the trope is derived from the speech pattern of Marvel'sHulk.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
From the start, Dragon Ball Z's Majin Buu gained progressively better vocabulary until his final/original form of Kid Buu, whose complete lack of sanity is a major contributor to such gems as "Me Buu, not you!" and "Buu squish you like bugs!"
Parodied in one of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga extras, when Al tries this manner of speaking to become more popular, but stops after realizing how stupid it is.
The english dubbed version of One Piece has Zoro in this role when the Straw Hat Pirates are attempting to get into Enies Lobby over a fence...on a train. He even uses the trope namers catchphrase.
Zoro: Hey frog, see fence, SMASH!
The Incredible Hulk, for whom this trope is named, but only the animated version and the "savage" version from the comics. The 2003 movie version only spoke once, in Bruce Banner's dream sequence. (It was even a Mythology Gag: "Puny human.") In the 2008 movie, Hulk said "HULK... SMASH!" during the final fight scene with Abomination — because it had to be said at least once. Aside from that, though, he mostly just roared as Hulk. For the most part, however, he speaks correct, if terse, English. The Hulk says "HULK SMASH!" pretty often in the comics, even in his more intelligent incarnations that are pretty smart and can actually talk perfectly fluent English. Then there was a partial Subversion in Peter David's apocalyptic far-future Hulk story The Last Titan; the Hulk was given ample space for his thoughts, which while being in Hulkspeak, were well-constructed and reasonable, though also mostly misanthropic and relating to various forms of violence.
The Bixby/Ferrigno The Incredible Hulk TV series from the 1970s likewise averts this trope. Lou Ferrigno mostly stands there and growls while he flexes.
The animated adaptation of Planet Hulk subverts this, with Hulk talking like this for a few early sentences, but speaks fluent English for the rest of the film.
The Planet Hulk comics had that too, but it was explained as NEW version of the Hulk, one able to tap into Banner's intellect to some degree as far as basic intelligence and strategizing (necessary for his survival on the hostile world)
The Hulk persona Green Scar is the classic Savage Hulk (who has the mind of a small child) all grown up.
Deadpool showed up in the Hulk books with his thought narration written in Hulk speak.
Oddly, DC Comics used to use Hulkspeak for toddler characters (most notably for Superbaby). This, along with many things about Silver Age DC, is probably better left unexplained.
Also in DC comics, Solomon Grundy tends to speak this way — mostly. However, he comes back from the dead different each time, sometimes subtly, sometimes with major differences. So it varies with each resurrection. Bizarro am not use variant of trope, too.
If you're lucky, Bizarro is only using Hulk speak. More often, he's combined it with Confusing Multiple Negatives, in a form that isn't consist from appearance to appearance or even line to line.
Eghad from Godland has an odd variation; He can't seem to form complete sentences, instead expressing key ideas or phrases in the message he's trying to convey... as well as some seemingly random pop culture stuff. "Master! Incoming. Sizzle. Leather bee-yotch. Prosecution. Film at eleven." = "Master, I saw on the news that Adam Archer took out Discordia, who is awaiting trial."
Grossout from Scare Tactics talked somewhat like this. He didn't refer to himself in the third person, but he did use the shortest words possible and left out bridging words. This was in large part thanks to his stutter.
Ka-Zar, Marvel Comics' signature Wild Child, speaks in this manner... though in one of his earliest appearances an author's note clarifies that this is "merely a loose translation of the original guttural swamp dialect, a tongue which very few of us majored in at college!" Ka-Zar's speech can't be expected to be very sophisticated to begin with, considering that at the time he was illiterate and had little human contact at all.
This happens to Commissar Ciaphas Cain and to Hotaru in Lovehammer whenever they try to speak High and Low Gothic, respectively. Amberley and the PDF officers can traverse the language barrier better, but Hotaru tends to want to hang around Cain for some reason.
In Return to Prince Manor the orcs who served the Winter Court spoke like that:
Grulf: "Sun Princess show respect to Ice Prince Lord!"
In the Tamers Forever Series The Nightmare talks like this at first before it absorbs enough data from the Internet to obtain superhuman intellect.
This is also how a wild Cyclonemon encounterd by DC talks.
The movie version of Tarzan usually speaks this way. (The original literary version, after meeting other white men for the first time, eventually learned to speak at least three human languages fluently, and possibly more.)
Lampshaded in Disney's The Legend of Tarzan TV series. A man wants to make a movie about Tarzan, goes to visit him, and gives him the script. Tarzan immediately points out that he doesn't speak in Hulk Speak, and has no idea why anyone would think he would.
An unusual inversion occurs in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome with the diminutive and technologically savvy Master, who often communicates in phrases like "Who run Bartertown?" and "Problem? You expert — DISARM!" This may be a habit stemming from communicating with Blaster, however, and possibly a general disdain for anyone else.
His normal speech comes when Max defeats Blaster.
Master: No, no! Look at his face! He's got the mind of a child. It's not his fault...
This trope is reversed and lampshaded when Captain America is laying out their strategy to finish the fight in the city. After giving fairly complex directions to the other Avengers, he turns and says:
Captain America: "...and Hulk? (The Hulk looks at him) Smash."
The trolls in the Discworld books often speak like this. Since their brains are essentially superconducting computers, the colder they get the smarter they get, and they often engage in the "complicated issues" subversion when sufficiently chilled. It is implied that, in their natural environment up in the mountains, they're actually quite cunning and it's the smarter ones who seek better life in the cities. Makes you wonder why, if they're the smart ones, they don't realize they're going to turn into babbling idiots in the lowlands.
Completely justified with the superconducting computers fact. Troll brains in Discworld are made from silicon, and heat essentially makes them "lag" immensely. Detritus almost dies when they take him to the desert area of Klatch, presumably because his brain couldn't keep up with his own vital functions. They're not so much idiots as slow in the head.
It's not really a case of not realizing they'll be slow in hotter climates; it's more a matter that they consider it worth it to leave, because of the much greater opportunities for advancement and mate-finding in the cities. It's also possible that they just don't realize exactly how much it will affect them despite knowing it intellectually. Trolls have in fact adapted quite well to the city, even going so far as to seek out the coldest areas of the city — like the Pork Futures Warehouse — to hold meetings. And at least a few of them actively engage in Obfuscating Stupidity — like Chrysophrase and in the later books, Detritus.
Greatly aided by Cuddy's development of the first Discworld computer cooling fan ...
In the Animorphs books, the Hork-Bajir mostly spoke in Hulkspeak. In the earlier books, they also had a tendency to mix alien words into their sentences, but this decreased before long, and most of the things a Hork-Bajir says are pure English Hulkspeak. In the Hork-Bajirs' case, this is clearly an effect of Aliens Speaking English. We can tell, because in a book that takes place on their own world, The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, the Translation Convention is in effect and all their sentences are rendered with normal grammar.
The exception is Toby Hamee, since she is a Hork-Bajir seer, meaning she is much more intelligent than the rest of her race.
In Robert Lynn Asprin's Myth Adventure novels, Chumley the Troll is quite refined and erudite, while his professional persona is "Big Crunch", who uses Hulk-speak.
The giant Grawp in Harry Potter uses Hulkspeak, including simplified names like "Hagger" instead of "Hagrid" and "Hermy" instead of "Hermione".
Though, while little mention is made of giant intelligence, very few of them speak English, so it could just be Grawp not speaking enough English to speak properly.
"Danders Anders" (Andrew) in How to Ditch Your Fairy.
While all Gamorreans in Star Wars are Dumb Muscle, only Gartugg, one of Jabba's guards, has Hulk Speak, and is teased for it by other Gamorreans.
The barbarians in the Kedrigern books speak like this. Kedrigern lampshades this in the first book, and ponders whether it's actually Obfuscating Stupidity, with the barbarians eloquently chatting when they're sure no one's listening.
The Ogres of Xanth supposedly speak very simplistic, crude rhymes. But it turns out this is a result of Fantastic Racism and people who approach ogres without prejudice discover that they're actually quite erudite.
Kubiak from Parker Lewis Can't Lose, more so at the beginning of the series (when he was a violent, bullying thug) than at the end (when he was an almost-sympathetic near-ally of the leads).
Saturday Night Live memorably spoofed Hulk Speak in their "death of Superman" sketch. Hulk, taking the podium at the Man of Steel's funeral, announced "Hulk... not... good... with... words" to excuse his reliance on notes, from which he read quite eloquently: "Superman was that rarest of things..."
And played straight in another skit where Barack Obama Hulks out and turned into "The Rock" Obama (naturally played by the man himself, Dwayne Johnson). Made somewhat surreal by how close Johnson sounds to Obama when he speaks.
(to Olympia Snowe) "Put head in hand. I smash it now."
The "Tarzan, Tonto and Frankenstein" sketches make fun of the device, putting the titular trio on talk shows and political round-tables. "Fire bad!" Tarzan and Tonto are relatively articulate, falling more into You No Take Candle territory, and act as translators for the true hulkspeaker Frankenstein.
Parodied in Scrubs by the mighty Janitor — "Fork! Me can't eat soup!" while attempting to eat soup with a fork. JD accidentally implied he was stupid earlier in the episode, so the Janitor is mocking him. (Remove the "he was stupid" part by "something" and you have the set up for any given episode of Scrubs there.)
Animal from The Muppet Show also uses this style of speech when he isn't just panting pensively or screaming unintelligibly.
Leela from Doctor Who speaks with an interesting variation of this - a mixture of this trope and Spock Speak. Her grammar is always correct, but her word use and sentence structure is very simple. In her case, it's to reflect that she's relatively uncivilised, but also extremely intelligent.
Jonathan Coulton's "Code Monkey" does this throughout the whole song, in character with its general protagonist.
Memetic Mutation gives this to wrestlers the Great Khali and Umaga, who are only allowed to "speak" with inarticulate growls and screams (at one point Khali switched to speaking in regular English and it still came out gibberish). Khali wants cake, and Umaga just wants to be friends and refers to everyone as <descriptor of wrestler> Man, leading to "conversations" like:
Khali: KHALI WANT CAKE! KHALI GO TO RING, SEE IF CAKE THERE! Umaga: UMAGA IN RING! CAKE MAN FRIENDS WITH UMAGA?
GURPS International Super Teams includes among its sample characters a hero known only as "Patchwork", who is a Frankensteinian hulk created by a would-be villain out of parts of dead supers. Although he is intelligent, well-spoken and philosophical, in the field Patchwork affects a violent persona capable only of Hulk Speak as a psychological tactic.
Straga the gigantic demon (ostensibly made out of stone) from Darksiders.
Gust from Neptunia talks like this at times. However, she's actually quite smart and business-savvy, so it's mostly to make her act cutesy. It's toned down in the second game, where it's also explained that this trope is being invoked because she's a foreigner.
Similarly, Russell from the video game Bully starts out as a thug who only communicates in Hulk Speak, but after Jimmy impresses him by besting him in a one-on-one fight, he becomes both an ally and more coherent.
Borderlands features the bandit boss Sledge, a very large, slow fellow who refers to himself in the third person.
Final Fantasy X features the Ronso, a bipedal leonoid race who always refer to themselves by name and tend to speak in simple sentences.
Final Fantasy VIII has Fujin, one of Seifer's flunkies, who speaks in single words and ALL CAPS (single kanji in the Japanese version). When she and fellow flunky Raijin (who ends all his sentences with "ya know?") decide to ditch Seifer, she gives a long non-capped speech about how they can't follow along with his self-destructive behavior.
Her single word sentences carry over to her portrayal in Kingdom Hearts II. She at least doesn't shout her words.
Many characters in the Banjo-Kazooie series, such as Gruntilda's assistant Klungo, Clanker the mechanical whale, and Mumbo.
Khajiit in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind have the same linguistic condition. When they don't use their own name instead of a pronoun, they use "Khajiit" instead. Interestingly, this is not shared with the Khajiits of any other The Elder Scrolls game. It's Handwaved in that their are multiple species of Khajiit forming different tribes.
Gar from Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura is supposedly a "smart orc" who discusses some rather complex topics for an orc, all in Hulkspeak. It is revealed however that Gar is actually a human (called Garfield Thelonius Remington III) from wealthy heritage who was born with a horrid similarity to an Orc, and is far more intellectual than he seems; specially if you discuss tea with him.
Your own character adopts this trope with an intelligence stat of 4 or less, even in your written journal entries, e.g. "Law man wants me get rid of stinky thiefses on bridge".
The cavewoman Ayla (Get it?...) from the Squaresoft RPG Chrono Trigger, at least in the English text American version. In the Japanese version, she speaks in very simple sentences with plain-form verbs.
Almost every Super Mutant in Fallout speaks that way. And if you play a character with less than INT 4, he/she will, too. Amusingly enough, if a "Hulk" protagonist talks to another functionally retarded character (Torr in Klamath), their speech is subtitled. Example: "Me Torr. (Greetings, my name is Torr. How do you do?)" "You Torr. (Quite well, thank you. Do you know where I might find work?)"
Fawkes in Fallout 3 is a notable exception / subversion — he speaks in the same grunt-like fashion as the other Vault 87-variant super-mutants, but because he is intelligent and has managed to become well-read he is actually quite articulate.
The smart Super Mutants are all exceptions, though the Vault 87-variant as mentioned keeps the grunt-like fashion of speaking of their variant, while a significant portion of the smart West Coast variety have a habit of referring to themselves in third person for an unrelated reason note multiple personality disorder-related mental illnesses.
Dog from Dead Money also uses hulkspeak, although his alternate personality "God" speaks normally.
The Swampfolk in Point Lookout also speak this way.
Boomers and Grinders in Gears of Waryell "boom!" and "grind!", respectively. Fortunately they do this before firing their weapons, giving you a little time to get out of the way of their horrific rocket launchers/miniguns.
Grunk from the Interactive Fiction game Lost Pig speaks like this all the time, much to the consternation of a certain more erudite gnome.
Most orcs in Might & Magic X: Legacy talk like this, including the ones in your party, if you have any. (Maximus, the garrison in Sorpigal, is surprisingly articulate; in fact, he says that's the reason the other orcs in his village kicked him out.)
If give your character in Neverwinter Nights even slightly below-average intelligence, he or she talks like this in conversations.
The guardian of the sigil of Earth in Myth Match combined this with an odd sort of ellipsis, resulting in utterances like "Shiny... rock... mine!" and "Smash... Chosen... One!"
Golem from Castlevania Judgment is interpreted in this way, making him an even Larger Ham than before. He is not as dumb as his speech patterns make him sound though, as he can perfectly understand what anyone says to him and philosophizes when not fighting.
Junpei from Megatokyo speaks like this. At first it appears to be justified by his limited knowledge of the English language, but his Japanese lines seem to be spoken in the same way. Then you realize that, as a parody of old movies with foreigners and ninja in particular, he should talk this way. An example from the issue #1012:
Junpei: If zombies crush and try eat, it real. Please excuse, Junpei need wipe goo off shoes before ruined.
Yuki speaks normal Japanese, but she also speaks English this way; this might be more because Magical Girl anime often runneth over with Gratuitous English.
Yuki's is justified; one of her first English phrases is "I don't speak good English."
Thog in The Order of the Stick. He refers to the twin brother of his boss, Nale, as "Not-Nale" and he has the classic line, "Thog not in this book. Thog sad." (Also, when breaking out of a prison, Thog becomes a darker green and yells "Thog smash puny prison!" as he obliterates the cell bars; once he goes back to his pale green, he wonders "How Thog's pants turn purple?")
Apparently, this is a common trait for the orcish people, as seen (and lampshaded) here.
His most awesome (and also longest) line of dialogue so far was:
When Tarquin is pretending to be Thog, we get this exchange;
Fake Thog:*Ahem*THOG SMASHES! Kilkil: Sir, watch your grammar! Malack: Why, what's wrong with it? Kilkil:Absolutely nothing!
Parodied in Narbonic, by a giant robotic foot built by Professor Madblood. "A robot foot?" "MASTER INTEND TO CONSTRUCT ENTIRE GIANT ATTACK ROBOT, BUT MASTER RUN OUT OF FUNDING AFTER ONLY FOOT COMPLETED. *click* MASTER ALSO RUN OUT OF FUNDS TO PROVIDE FOOT WITH ARTICLES OR PAST TENSES." This attracts the attention of heroic grammar enforcer, Antonio Smith, forensic linguist. The Foot also brilliantly comments "FOOT FACE MANY PERSONAL DEMONS IN FOOT LIFE" and "IF FOOT NOT STOMP, WHAT IS FOOT PURPOSE?"
In the Fantasy plot of Irregular Webcomic!, Draak (a lizard man in the party) is quite eloquent in his own language and arguably the smartest person in his party. However, his English is limited to monosyllables, though he's still able to occasionally express complicated thoughts.
Tastefully averted in Frankie And Stein. With references left and right, it's really anyone's guess whether the Frankenstein's Monster being created in the first chapter will be able to speak well or not.
Caveman from Time... Guys talk like this, but Caveman's prodigious cave-telligence imply this more for style.
The closest we get is his Catch Phrase: Hulk is strongest there is! Everything else is normal, or sarcastic/cynical. However, the more pissed off he gets, the more likely you are to hear Hulk Speak, rage apparently eroding his intelligence. (This, by the way, is when you want to run for your life.)
This continues in Avengers Assemble and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. In the latter series, he's even team leader and it's not every day he's driven into an incoherent rage. "Hulks, smash!" is heard only as their "Avengers, assemble!" cry. However, we learn he used to be like the classic Savage Hulk and is trying to atone for the years of rage-monsterdom. In Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk's appearances begin with him as his classic Hulk Smashy self, but at a reduced enough level to let him stay in on this more comedic series' hijinks when his usual personality would have him punch Spidey to the moon and bound away. (Basically, he's right out of The Super Hero Squad Show.) However, he's left somewhat more intelligent as a side-effect after Mesmero messes with his head. It seems the Avengers EMH portrayal is going to stick for a while, at least in animation.
Grimlock in Generation 1 and Animated. In the cartoons, this is apparently because he's stupid. In the various comics continuities - in everything but the shows, really - he is actually very intelligent, and the "Me Grimlock" speak, when present at all, is due to a faulty voice box, Obfuscating Stupidity, or both.
Tankor in Beast Machines. However, when he manages to unlock his spark's true intelligence, he begins speaking normally, but keeps up the hulk speak to deceive Megatron.
Abominus and Trypticon from the original cartoon suffer from similar problems, but unlike Grimlock and the Dinobots, "CRUSH METROPLEX" and "Computron think too much." is about the best than can do. Humorously in light of this, one comic series instead depicts Trypticon as an Affably EvilGenius Bruiser who spouts British Stock Phrases.
Grimlock from the Shattered GlassMirror Universe, who is colored like Trypticon, says a few lines that are more fluent. In "The Ultimate Weapon" he says "Trypticon is all powerful! Nothing can stand in my way!" and "Trypticon turn Metroplex into slum!".
Devastator from Revenge Of The Fallen; although he doesn't speak in the movie, there are large toys of the character with several pre-recorded phrases. Have fun with epic sayings such as "CRUSH AUTOBOTS!!!" and "I AM DECEPTICON!!!". We also get a shoutout to Transformers: The Movie from this toy, with "PREPARE FOR EXTERMINATION!"
Most G1 beast bots, giant bots, and combination bots talk like this, and it's seen with the good guys as well as the bad. With the combiners, it's generally held to be the result of a gestalt's mind containing only what all five members have in common. That leaves little but "Crush Autobots!" However, Predaking's five members are on the same page to the point that even though beast-bots and giant-bots in G1 generally have half the IQ of a box of rocks, Predaking - a giant bot made of beast bots - is very intelligent, and has a Kraven the Hunter-like personality.
The comics generally give them full intelligence, though Devastator is the first combiner, made before the process is perfected, leaving him as the only Hulk Smash-y one. A Marvel UK story has the Decepticons work on fixing this.
Taz, the Tazmanian Devil, in the Looney Tunes shorts where he has any lines other than "Growl, spit". On Taz-Mania, his own show, the rest of his family speaks normally.
Futurama, "Amazon Women In The Mood": The Amazonians speak this way, with the "complicated issues" subversion.
Later, this is hilariously used with a real hologram of Attila the Hun is facing Zapp Brannigan with a laser cannon:
Caveman Og from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, whose speech is a very subtle version of Hulkspeak in which he is soft spoken and somewhat refined, but can't seem to grasp speaking in the first person. "Look, me feel no agenda to meeting and vacuum in leadership position, so, me compose 10 points plan for good happy success."
Edward The Less featured a hilarious spoof/Lampshade Hanging with its requisite barbarian character. Edward asks "You ever consider using articles or personal pronouns?" and he responds with a speech that is completely lacking those elements yet is still very eloquent, explaining that he could speak the Queen's English if he wanted to but finds it a waste of time.
In Code Lyoko, William and other XANA-possessed humans are often quite monosyllabic (Polymorphic Clones even moreso). At least, once the influence has become obvious: strangely enough, they're just as verbose and natural-sounding as the person they're impersonating until their true nature is revealed. And sometimes, even using words is beyond their means: "YAAAAAAAAAR!"
After the episode "A Lack of Goodwill", XANA-possessed William starts talking more normally, though still in a distorted voice.
From the "Toy Palace" episode of Rugrats: "THORG HUNGRY! THORG WANT EAT!"
Sam Star (Patrick's long-lost and overprotective big sister) also speaks this way.
Princess Pony Apehands and Patricia, from Spliced. Notable in that the latter only does so when she's angry, and the former speaks in what can only be described as "Hulk SpeakmeetsBaby Talk" (no, seriously).
The neanderthals in Cro. "That not funny! Not politically correct either!"
MAD has a Parody Commercial for "Hulked on Phonics", which helps kids learn to read better by applying the principles of Hulk Speak to the process. Yes, they skip over a lot of the unneccessary words, but don't bug them about it, because that makes them angry...