When a magical spell is invoked in a cartoon, comedy show or during a comedy sketch, the words needed to be spoken are often in-jokes, brand names, or famous surnames. Pig Latin and Canis Latinicus are also commonly used. They often sound weird enough to only be spotted on a second viewing.
- In Swedish children's comic Pellefant, all spells were nonsense rhymes of this kind. Interestingly, one spell was consistent: the one to undo other spells. Retura, reverta, bicka backa bick-back-buck!.
- John Constantine has done this on occasion.
- A memorable example was speaking Latin-sounding gibberish in a scary voice to convince a fanboy he'd laid a massive curse on them. In another instance, Chas barged in out of nowhere begging John to "magic away" a gun used in a shooting as the police were chasing him.
- In the New 52 storyline, his arch-enemy Tannarak does this using Cypher Language, referencing the line "Walla Walla, Washington" mentioned below (it can be seen here).
Tannarak: Newport news Walla Walla Washington. By the power of this magic junk, I have the power!
- In one issue of New Mutants, the girls are having a sleepover with several of their regular friends. During a pretend seance, Ilyana uses the incantation from Bullwinkle (see below) with Dani providing some special effects. It makes sense: who would know better than a demon-trained sorceress what won't work?
- Vampirella: Pendragon occasionally, depending on writer and alcohol level. (Of Pendragon, not the writer.)
- In The Wizard of Id, the title character's signature all-purpose spell is "Frammin' on the jim-jam, frippin' at the krotz!" Cartoonists Parker and Hart derived this from the Chris Sharp jazz instrumental, "Frimmin' on the Jim-Jam."
- A Very Potter Musical:
- The spells are performed not by casting an actual spell, but by saying the name of the spell. "Jelly Legs Jinx!"
- Also subverted occasionally when characters will not even say a spell, but do a normal action such as leave a room and saying "Magic!"
- Potter Puppet Pals features spells like "Pantaloonius Poopicus" and "Ronicus Explodicus".
- Bit of Bilingual Bonus in The Cabin in the Woods: the "ritual incantation" used by the Japanese grade-school girls to seal the Sadako-ripoff is actually a preschool song about an acorn falling into a pond and befriending a fish.
- In The House With a Clock in Its Walls, Lewis casts a spell to find the location of the doomsday clock by shouting out the definitions of "Discover", "Location", "Secret", and "Clock" while waving his Magic 8-Ball around vigorously. It works.
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry threatens his Jerkass and magic-phobic cousin Dudley with the words "Hocus pocus! Squiggly wiggly!".
- Also in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the spell Peskipiksi Pesternomi, spoken by the incompetent Gilderoy Lockhart. Suggested etymology is "Pesky Pixie Pester No Me".
- "Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow!" Ron should have known that a spell supplied by Fred and George wasn't going to work.
- In Bored of the Rings, Goodgulf has quite a lot of these, e.g.: "Hocus-pocus / Loco Parentis! / Jackie Onassis / Dino De Laurentiis!" His magic is completely based on parlor tricks and funny incantations.
- In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden's candle-lighting spell is "Flickum Bicus." (Flick my Bic.)
- And in one of the short stories, when interrogating a thug, "Intimidatus dorkus maximus!"
- For creating an iceberg he uses "Rexus Mundus." ("King of the World")
- For creating illusionary duplicates, "Lumen, camerus, factum!" ("Lights, camera, action!")
- In other words, this trope can come into play, literally depending on the caster's sense of humor. Because, for safety, reasons spells are explicitly either made up words or in languages the wizard doesn't speak.
- In Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures, all incantations are fake trappings meant to impress muggles. Quite a lot of them fall under the trope, including "Alakazam-shazam" and the perennial favourite "Walla Walla, Washington".
- The spell in Wyrd Sisters is a parody of the one in Macbeth, with such phrases as "tongue of boot and glow-worm glimmer, stir and then allow to simmer."
- Also from the Discworld series, the spell to summon Death (to ask him questions) is called the "Rite of Ashk Ente", pronounced similarly to "Ask Auntie".
- In Lest Darkness Fall, Padway gets exasperated with a quack who is trying to heal him of a bad cold, and sends him running by threatening to put a curse on him and spouting a stream of random modern-day words.
- Used in an Italian comedy, where at one point the main characters make a fake Satanic ritual, including gibberish incantations as "Satan... Satanasso... Tapioca!"
- Doctor Who:
- In an episode, Shakespeare, the Doctor, and Martha Jones perform a magic spell that's mostly sci-fi garble, with JK Rowling.
- in "The Daemons", "Reverend Magister" gets his Satanist dupes to chant "Mary had a little lamb" backwards, likely after the Hollywood Satanism practice of reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards.
- On Wizards of Waverly Place, most of the spells are either the last name of one of the show's creators and a made up word that rhymes, or exactly what the spell does, with a Latin suffix such as "ius" tacked onto the end.
- In D&D 3.5, the Factotum class are Badass Bookworms whose mastery of the Indy Ploy, Improv Fu, Awesome by Analysis, and But I Read a Book About It makes them the Closest Thing We Got to any other class. One of the many abilities that this imparts is the ability to weaponize this trope: The official class profile states that the factotum has discovered that by muttering vaguely arcane-sounding gibberish and waving their hands in rough approximations of what spellcasters do, they are able to cast a few spells per day without the need for little details like actually knowing what they're doing.
- Ashley's theme in WarioWare includes the incantation "Pantalones Giganticus!"
- The invokation for the Create Gold spell in Dungeon Keeper 2 is "Esspressus Americanus".
- The old adventure game Keef the Thief was full of these; e.g. two healing spells were "Bandus Aidus" and "Takus Tylenus".
- The random words wizards speak when casting in Sacrifice include "Klaatu", "Barada" and "Nikto", though not necessarily in the same incantation or in order.
- The Homestar Runner cartoon Halloween Potion-Ma-Jig has Homestar gathering ingredients for a Halloween potion, including one of three possible incantations:
- "Loquentia, Imbruglia, Precipitous, Saraleecheesecakea, Denouement!"
- "Bettah axe somebod-ay!"
- "Do you even have half a brain!"
- The Language of Magic in Arthur, King of Time and Space is English written with Greek letters. If you go to the trouble of translating them, the spells are famous quotes, often from children's literature (the chant to get more power for the Excalibur's engines is " I know I can, I know I can...")
- The Order of the Stick: the Harry Potter parody/Take That! invokes "Stoppus Badguyus!" when trying to repel Thog.
- Wizard School has "Bastardized Latinium," among a variety of others.
- These are rife in Erfworld; a cure spell is the names of the members of The Cure, a Dirtamancy spell is the same except with famously "dirty" athletes, Shockamancy spells are usually Shock Site names, with Hat Magic you say "Hoffa" to make something disappear and "Livingston" to make it appear again, "Trioxin" is used by Croakamancers to raise the dead, and so on...
- In a Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons, Bart reads a spell from a magic book that's basically a list of odd brand names and famous surnames.
- Done in a Robot Chicken parody of Harry Potter. Example: When Snape tries to seduce Hermione in his "magical jacuzzi", he calls it forth with the spell, "BarryWhiteus, candlelightus, girl-exciteus!" She dispells his lecherous advance with the counterspell, "Pedophilius repelus!"
- A Pinky and the Brain episode had "Charlie Sheen, Ben Vereen, Shrink to the size of a lima bean!"
- In the same vein, one of their skits "translating" William Shakespeare covered the Three Witches scene from Macbeth:
Witches: Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Yakko: Loosely translated, "Abracadabra".
Dot: Fillet of a fenny snake, in the cauldron boil and bake.
Yakko: "Let's cook a snake." Start with my agent.
- There was a Bugs Bunny cartoon (Transylvania 6-5000) where Bugs meets a vampire. He starts reading a book about magic words that contain the words "Abracadabra" and "Hocus Pocus." Unknown to him (at first, anyway), "Abracadabra" turns the vampire into a bat, and "Hocus Pocus" turns him back into a person. He starts singing the words in a song, transforming the vampire back and forth (Hilarity Ensues)... then starts mixing them up in the song, "Abraca-Pocus" and "Hocus-cadabra", making half the vampire transform, i.e. a human body with a bat's head, then a bat's body and human head. Then he throws out, "Newport News!" which changes the vampire into a look-alike of Witch Hazel, and finally, "Walla Walla Washington!" which turns him into a two-headed vulture.
- The episode of The Venture Bros. "Everybody Come to Hank's" invoked this. When assisting Orpheus casting a spell, an incantation was apparently required, and The Alchemist decided to have a little fun with it.
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man, viewers who take the time to translate Mysterio's spells from Latin will find that most of the longer ones are non sequiturs.
Denique diatem efficacem inveni! (Translation: I have finally found an effective diet!)Credo Elvem ipsum etiam vivere! (Translation: I believe that Elvis is alive!)Nullae satisfactionis potiri non possum! (Translation: I can't get no satisfaction!)Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas! (Translation: Thank you for not smoking!)
- Rocky and Bullwinkle: "Eenie-meanie, chilly beanie! The spirits are about to speak!"
- The Animated Adaptation of Soul Music gives words to the Rite of Ashk-Ente. These include Canis Latinicus descriptions of Death himself ("Wan Equestrus Chiv im Curlus. Homme Qui into Blotteau Hurlus"note ) and the ceremony ("Ovum Crackus, Totale Knackus"note ).
- Pink Panther: "Transylvania Mania" - The Inspector fights Dracula (crossovered with Frankenstein) and his Igor, who want his brilliant brain for the newest creation. The Inspector overhears the spells (teensy-weensy and biggy-wiggy, for adjusting Igors size) and uses them to dish out Amusing Injuries by the ton.
- Subverted in the Kaeloo episode parodying Harry Potter. Kaeloo says that there are lots of spells ending in "us" and "or", but it turns out that they really sound like magic spells and aren't made up of English words.
- The Yogi Bear cartoon "Touch And Go-Go-Go" has a magician visiting Jellystone Park. He uses his magic wand to make Yogi and Boo Boo disappear with the magic words "nome de plume" (which is actually French for "pen name").
- The "magic words" Hocus Pocus were generated as a parody/modification of the Latin "Hoc Est Corpus" (This Is The Body), which was used to denote the Eucharist in Christian ceremony.
- In Scandinavia and Russia, there is a third word for this "magical" formula. It is "filiokus" or "filipokus", and is derived from "filioque" (a theological dispute between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, involving the Holy Spirit... it's a long story).