When you're strapped into a tin can and rocketing through the galaxy at thousands of miles an hour, your opportunities for bathroom breaks are pretty few and far between. At some point, you're going to have to step away from the controls and relieve yourself. However, in a zero gravity environment where an errant fart can send you spinning in the opposite direction, what are you supposed to do? Here's our list of the best ways science fiction has handled this delicate question.
- In Lexx, the living spaceship was also equipped with... living toilets. They even had large, waggling tongues, a la Little Shop of Horrors, and were more than eager to lap up the crew's waste materials. That would either make going to the bathroom incredibly fun, or moderately terrifying. Think you can hold it for 42,000,000 miles? You could if the toilet looked like it wanted to eat your ass.
- Lexx wasn't the only living spaceship with bathroom facilities. Moya in Farscape also grew convenience spots for her crew, including showers and toilets. In fact, the water system was provided by Moya's own internal plumbing system, which her saliva powered the sewer system. That just seems like all kinds of "two girls, one cup" wrong.
- In the future of Demolition Man, Sylvester Stallone was perplexed by the futuristic toilets. The bowls looked the same, but as far as waste management went, there were three mysterious "seashells" next to the toilet that he never quite figured out. We never figured it out either, and we'll chalk it up to extremely lazy writers who didn't feel the need to explain how they wiped their asses in the future, so now we'll forever be wondering what those damn shells did.
- Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was so detailed that the Zero Gravity Toilet installed on the passenger ship to the moon including verbose instructions on how to use the waste facilities. Although if you really had to go, we can't imagine anyone taking the time to actually read through all of these steps before stepping inside. Wouldn't you print something like this where you could easily read it while doing your duty? The only way this could be worse would be if they just handed you a 200 page manual as you went in.
- Onboard the Serenity in Firefly, living space is at a premium, so they've got toilets that fold neatly into the wall and flush as they go. Then you pull out the sink like a drawer and wash your hands, although preferably using soap. In the clip below, Captain Mal Reynolds takes a whiz and then simply WETS HIS HANDS DOWN THE WATER then puts them on his face. Meaning he's just coated his cheeks in penis germs. No wonder he hasn't scored with Inara just yet.
Buzz Aldrin may have been the first person to piss on the moon, but he had to do it down his leg and into his spacesuit's waste disposal tubes, which was basically just a condom catheter attached to a bag. With futuristic advances aiming for everything from faster than light travel to teleportation, we're looking forward to going in style. We just hope they nail the gravity problem, because if you've ever seen an airplane bathroom mid-flight, you know every surface can inexplicably become covered in piss. That can't be good in zero gee.
With apologies to Kathleen Meyer's How To Shit In The Woods.