Terminate with extreme prejudice

Terminate with extreme prejudice

Terminate with extreme prejudice is a euphemism (playing on the western expression "termination with prejudice" of an employment contract) used by Bernard Conners in his 1972 novel Don't Embarrass the Bureau. In a military context it is generally understood as an order to assassinate. Since the novel, the term has been used in other literature in a similar context, particularly in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, in which Martin Sheen's character, Captain Willard, is ordered to terminate "the command" of the insane Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) with "extreme prejudice."

The extraction "extreme prejudice" is popularly thought to have originated in military circles and to mean a "take no prisoners" or "show no mercy" attitude by military forces. However, the U.S. military denies using the term or supporting any actions as depicted in any of the literature.

According to Douglas Valentine in his book The Phoenix Program (1990), the Central Intelligence Agency routinely used the term during the Vietnam War when sacking its locally hired operatives. In cases of extreme misconduct, an assassination ("termination with extreme prejudice") was ordered.

Popular usage

  • The 1979 movie Apocalypse Now uses the phrase "terminate with extreme prejudice" when giving the order for Willard to "terminate the Colonel's command".
  • "Terminate with extreme prejudice" was also used in the movie The Amateur 1982 starring John Savage. In context it was used as an order to assassinate him.
  • Extreme Prejudice is also the title of director Walter Hill's 1987 modern-day Western.
  • Dr. Cruces, the head of the Assassin's Guild in the Terry Pratchett Discworld novel Men at Arms issues an order to his underlings to catch an alleged trespasser and inhume him "with extreme impoliteness", a parody of the concept and a play on the general Discworld notion of organised, polite assassins.
  • This term is also used in the television animated series Beast Wars when Ravage, a Predacon, was ordered by the Tripredacus Council to destroy Megatron.
  • Extreme Prejudice was the name to a mini-series of Image comics where Chapel, the killer of Al Simmons, ascended to the throne of Hell.
  • There is a reference in the Linux kernel. fault.c states in a comment: "Oops. The kernel tried to access some bad page. We'll have to terminate things with extreme prejudice." (It is also a popular way to describe 'kill -9'.)
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Chief Wiggum said, upon getting into a squad car, "Drive, with extreme prejudice".
  • In Eoin Colfer’s 2001 novel Artemis Fowl, the phrase "terminate with extreme prejudice" is used near the end of the eighth chapter, "Troll".
  • The phrase was used in the movie Major Payne.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and George reflect on relationship problems. Jerry says something to the extent of, "so you were rebuffed..." George responds by saying, "with extreme prejudice."
  • In the Canadian movie Phil the Alien, Agent Jones is told by Agent Orange, "We got a guppy in the hen house. We need you to track down and locate said guppy with extreme prejudice, now, do you copy?" in reference to finding a recently landed extraterrestrial.
  • It was used in an episode of the soap opera of General Hospital on July 1, 2007 by Anna Duvane.
  • In the Flatspace games some of the most wanted and dangerous criminals have a "terminate with extreme prejudice" tag in the police records.
  • In the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the assassin droid HK-47 says "prejudice set to maximum" when entering combat mode.
  • In the Half-Life mod "Heart of Evil", the two officers in the intro command you to "terminate with extreme prejudice" Colonel Bob Kurtz.

See also


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