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I have never been a big fan of graduation speeches. As a graduate, I remember wanting to get that piece of paper and get outta there. So when it was time to receive my Master’s degree, I said they could just mail it to me. I had a career to hustle for.

But would there be any fictional speeches I would want to watch? My mind exploded with the possibilities. And then I realized I don’t write for Buzzfeed.

Look, I was asked to get this down to five, okay? So stop judging me for leaving out Sky High, or the school in Ender’s Game, or the Miskatonic University. This is about the top five. Those would be dope, but they didn’t make the cut. So here’s the rundown.

Speeches That Would Never Make the List. Ever.

Forks High School from Twilight.

Alight, you caught me. This entire list serves as one long excuse for me to eviscerate the Twilight “saga”. But I just want to underline this one point: no character in these books would bring anything to a commencement speech worth remembering. It’s possible that Stephenie Meyer shoved a speech in the exhausting pages of these dullards, but I never finished the first one because we ran out of toilet paper. #sorrynotsorry

Honorable Mentions

OK, so I’m cheating a little. But these are just teases for your creative juices.

  • Admiral Thrawn at The Imperial Academy (before the Battle of Yavin)
  • Wedge Antilles at Folor Base for Rogue/Wraith Squadron (shutup! there would’ve been a graduation here, and I don’t care if Disney has jettisoned these storylines; they’re better than this Last Jedi There, I said it.)
  • Reverend Mother Lucilla on Lampadas before the Honored Matres destroyed the planet (written by Frank Herbert, not by Brian or Kevin, those posers)
  • Jewls at Wayside School (because she was the best and the only other candidate is Louis the Yard Teacher himself)
  • Archmaester Gyldayn at the Citadel (upon reading this, George R.R. Martin will think “yes, another excuse to avoid writing The Winds of Winter. My fans love waiting!” Yeah, you’re right. He doesn’t owe us anything, because the show is better. Fight me!)
  • Viper at Top Gun Academy (actually, this would have been BORING; fuck almost real-world (ARW) fiction, it’s the worst genre)

The Consensus Top 5

5. Starfleet Academy

Universe: Star Trek Prime Universe

Year: Stardate 48236.7

Speaker: Worf

Theme: Comic relief with a poignant reminder that your growth is not done

Rationale: I passed over Jean-Luc Picard, Data, The Doctor, and Spock. What I had to answer was: who would I really want to listen to. In the end, there was only one. Worf transcended viewer’s prejudice against Klingons and helped to make them the most beloved race in the Trekverse.

Quote you’ll remember: “Klingons never bluff. Klingons do not surrender. Klingons do not eat babies… As time passes, a boy inevitably becomes a man. But what is not inevitable is that a man becomes a sword.”

Is there a comparable real-life version? No. Worf has no real-life equal.

4. Walkerville Elementary

Universe: The Magic School Bus (books)

Year: Whenever

Speaker: Ms. Frizzle (duh!)

Theme: Failure is a part of success (after a trip inside the human brain, of course)

Rationale: Are you kidding me? Ms. Frizzle taught me more about science than any teacher. She inspired and made me wonder. She deserves to be higher than Worf and maybe even my #3 selection. So how dare you turn your nose because I didn’t put one of your fantasy characters in this position. Ms. Frizzle is the best!

Quote you’ll remember: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

Is there a comparable real-life version? Yes – Patti Smith to the Pratt Institute’s Class of 2010

3. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngers

Universe: Uncanny X-Men (the comics)

Year: 1982

Speaker: Ororo/Storm

Theme: Live life to the fullest

Rationale: Yeah, there’s a whole group who’d say they’d want to hear from Beast or Xavier. Are you the same that wanted Jean-Luc Picard above? Blah. To me it comes down Storm. She grew out of hardship to become the first black female leader in ALL OF COMICS (yes, that’s crazy, and she’s awesome).

Quote you’ll remember: “You counter despair with hope. You strive forever for the best you are capable to be—therein lies the victory.”

Is there a comparable real-life version? Yes – Michelle Obama to UC Merced’s Class of 2009

2. The University

Universe: The Kingkiller Chronicle

Year: Sometime around when Kvothe should be graduating

Speaker: Elodin

Theme: Names are important. We should think carefully about the words we select.

Rationale: Listen, this is the best fantasy series written in the last 25 years, hands down, no doubt, end of story (yes, I’m baiting those dweebs in the corner frothing over a new chapter released on and whining over Lady Stoneheart’s exclusion from the TV-show. Fight me!). Elodin clearly has a lot to say and is very careful about his words. He’s the only character I crave to have Kvothe spend more time with just so I can learn more. Also, his speech would be super short, which means we’ll get off to the Eolian to drink some Scutten early!

Quote you’ll remember: “Be certain of the words you use. Words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

Is there a comparable real-life version? Yes – David Foster Wallace to Kenyon College’s Class of 2008 (excerpt)

1. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Universe: The Harry Potter Universe

Year: 1978

Speaker: Lily Evans

Theme: The power of imagination and the importance of choice.

Rationale: Look, I know you all thought Hermione Granger would get the top spot. I hear you. But I also want to remind you of how unfair Hogwarts was under its last headmaster. Hermoine would be ready and prepared to give her commencement speech, ready to crush it… except Dumblebore would amble to the podium and announce that his pet child, Harry Potter, was going to speak instead. All because he was the chosen one. Barf. So let’s use our time-turner to go back to 1978 and hear Lily Evans give a rousing speech. Don’t forget that Harry’s mom was the heart of the whole series—giving life to Harry while serving as the inspiration for Snape’s deception. If she could inspire a man to give up his life and become a spy, long after she died, then she surely could give one of the greatest commencement speeches.

Quote you’ll remember: “I don’t know what you want to do. None of us do. You alone can choose!”

Is there a comparable real-life version? Yes – J.K. Rowling to the Harvard Class of 2008

Thomas Viehe

Thomas Viehe prefers pop over soda, loo over toilet, fall over autumn. He lives with his wife and dog in a remote part of the country, Washington, D.C.

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