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What These Fortnite Emotes Really Mean

Fortnite makes a lot of money, and that might surprise you considering it's a free-to-play game. But Epic Games — the studio behind the title — realized that there was potential in microtransactions. Fortnite is wholly supported by those who buy skins and other items. And not one of those items affects the game itself in any way. They're all cosmetic. And that includes the long list of emotes you'll find in the Fortnite store and in its Battle Pass.

The emotes inside Fortnite are inspired by all sorts of real-life sources. There are emotes based on popular dances, for instance. There are also emotes plucked straight out of pop culture, whether it be a movie, TV show, or news item. Almost no emote makes it to Fortnite by accident. They're designed to be purchased, shown off, and laughed at. And chances are, if you've seen one, you've probably wanted to buy it.

We've compiled a list of some of the most popular emotes found in Fortnite and what they're based on. You may know about some of these. And some you may be learning about for the first time. Whatever the case, we hope you enjoy the cultural context and the trip down memory lane.

Here's what these Fortnite emotes really mean.

Confused

There are instances where the "meme culture" reaches back and grabs something out of the past. Something that had come far before Twitter was even a thing — or our phones could even connect to the internet, for that matter. It could be a song or a photo. But in this case, it's a scene from a movie: 1994's Pulp Fiction. And the scene? One where John Travolta's character, Vincent Vega, looks around an apartment, puzzled that he can hear a voice over an intercom but can't locate the source.

His "Confused" body language is now immortalized as an emote in Fortnite.

There's a pretty good chance you've seen this meme employed elsewhere. Travolta's character was taken by a talented internet user and plastered onto a green background, allowing other people to place him in a variety of situations. For instance, looking around a toy store as he struggles to find a Christmas gift. Now your Fortnite character can be equally confused, whether you're searching for weapons or looking around for those squadmates that seemingly don't exist.

Floss

You can tell when a dance move is really taking off because it seems to show up everywhere. You'll see NFL players start using it in their touchdown celebrations. You'll see YouTube videos of people doing the dance in random public locations. And heaven forbid you open Facebook: someone will undoubtedly post a video of their grandparents trying to mimic the dance. And no one wants to see that.

For a short time in 2017, a child background dancer for Katy Perry became a worldwide sensation. As she performed during an episode of Saturday Night Live, a young man who would become forever known as Backpack Kid starting doing what would later be dubbed the "floss" dance. And he unleashed hell upon the internet.

It was one of those dances you knew would become a Fortnite emote at some point. And sure enough, it did. Appropriately named Floss, the emote is another example of how Fortnite tends to cheekily "borrow" from other works without really giving credit where credit is due. And that's kind of lame.

Dab

The "dab" is not a move that requires a rocket science degree to pull off. In terms of dance moves, it's actually one that doesn't require any real kind of coordination. Still, the history of how the dab got started is somewhat contentious. Some believe it started with hip hop artists in Atlanta. Others dispute that. But most agree that it became popular once Cam Newton, quarterback of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, started using the pose after touchdowns.

In light of Mr. Newton's usage, the dab seemed to take on an air of disrespect. You score on someone? You dab on them. So it's wholly unsurprising, then, that the dab would show up in Fortnite as an emote.

There are no handshakes or "good games" after a match of Fortnite, after all. There are just hordes of people getting floored by shotguns, and their assailants spamming emotes over top of them afterward. There's a chance you've been "dabbed on" inside Fortnite, and you're just waiting for your shot at vengeance. But only you can break the cycle. Only you can resist the dab.

Be the change.

Fancy Feet

Michael Jackson will forever be heralded as a fantastic performer. And the choreography in many of his music videos? It was sometimes just as memorable as the song itself. There's the dance from "Thriller," for example, or "Beat It." By just reading the names of those songs, you can probably envision the dance numbers from the music videos in your mind. They're that iconic.

For Fortnite to leave out a Michael Jackson dance — well, that would be blasphemy. Fortunately, it looks like the game has included a nod to the one-time King of Pop in the form of the Fancy Feet emote.

Fancy Feet appears to be derived from a dance Jackson did to his hit "Billie Jean." Viewing the two side by side, you can see the similarities. Epic didn't get it as exact as the studio has for other dances in its emote collection. But for fans of MJ, Fancy Feet may just do the trick.

Orange Justice

Can a dance be so bad it's good? That was the question put in front of the Fortnite community when Epic ran an emote dance contest in early 2018. Tons of entries came in, many of them spectacular and worthy of inclusion in the game. But only one could win — at least, until the community rallied behind an unlikely hero.

Nicknamed "Orange Shirt Kid" by the Fortnite crowd, a child bravely uploaded a video entry for the contest. His dance? Well, the best thing you could say about it was that it was movement of some kind. But it won the hearts and minds of the Fortnite fan base, and though it wasn't selected as the contest winner, gamers started petitions to get his dance included as an emote.

Epic obliged. At the beginning of May 2018, players logged in to Fortnite and found the Orange Justice emote waiting for them in the Battle Pass. And no one was more surprised than Orange Shirt Kid himself, who tweeted, "THEY ADDED IT OMGOMG."

Groove Jam

There are a few things that make Napoleon Dynamite such a great watch. One of course, is the sheer awkwardness of Napoleon himself, which just about any current or former high schooler can relate to. Another is the insane amount of quotable bits from the movie's stars, with lines like, "Your mom goes to college," and, "How much do you wanna bet I can throw a football over them mountains?" But the best part of the movie, perhaps, is that it's the tale of an underdog who comes up big at the right time.

Napoleon pulls out all the stops at a school event, dancing on behalf of his friend Pedro, who is running for class president. And his dance — after some excruciating silence — brings down the house.

The Groove Jam emote inside Fortnite is a spot-on rendition of Napoleon's moves. If you're a fan of the movie, it's one you'll almost certainly want as part of your collection. And if you've never seen Napoleon Dynamite — seriously, what are you waiting for?

Hype Dance

We made the point in an earlier section about Fortnite borrowing from artists who create dances without really giving them credit. It happens, but until very recently, none of those artists have come out and publicly criticized the game for doing so. That all changed when Fortnite started selling its Hype Dance emote.

The Hype Dance is better known in hip hop circles as the shoot dance, having appeared in a song called "Shoot" by rapper BlocBoy JB. And BlocBoy wasted no time in telling everyone how he felt about it.

"EveryTime Somebody Does My Dance Dey Give Credit to @FortniteGame But Dey Ain't Create Nothing But Da Game So Basically Dey Takin Money And Credit For My S*** Dats Crazy," BlocBoy tweeted out in early September. He followed that by adding, "Dey Love Our Culture But Hate Our Color."

Believe it or not, though, that wasn't the first bit of heat Fortnite got on the topic. Chance the Rapper, who does not have a dance in the game per se, had actually tweeted his displeasure with the game and the way it used dance moves from artists, saying "Fornite should put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes."

Will Epic respond with some kind of credit for these artists? It's worth keeping an eye on.

Llama Bell

"I got a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell!"

That line was damn-near inescapable after it was uttered by Christopher Walken on the April 8, 2000 episode of Saturday Night Live. There's a good chance you've had some friends pull it out from time to time. And some may have even tried to imitate that classic Walken delivery, though let's be honest — few can. Still, there's no denying the popularity of that skit in particular, and how it continues to show up in new memes and jokes.

The Llama Bell emote is a definite nod to the "More Cowbell" sketch. And even more satisfying is the fact that it actually includes the cowbell sound.

Do you get "Don't Fear the Reaper" playing in the background? Unfortunately, no: that's probably a bit more money than Fortnite's willing to spend. But if you've "gotta have that cowbell, baby!", you probably don't mind, anyway.

Fresh

One of the great joys of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was seeing Alfonso Ribeiro — who played Carlton Banks on the show — burst out into dance. And not just any dance: his signature Carlton dance, which is most closely tied to the Tom Jones classic "It's Not Unusual." And perhaps the best appearance of the Carlton dance came when he thought no one was home. He blasted Tom Jones, grabbed a nearby candle, and sang into it as he grooved around his abode — only for Will to find him out.

If a video game has emotes, the Carlton dance should absolutely be one of them. Always. And Epic, very wisely, has included the aptly named Fresh emote to meet that bar.

Much like some of the other emote dances on this list, you don't get "It's Not Unusual" as a backing track to the dance. But that doesn't make it any less hilarious to use in key situations. All alone in a fort? Standing victorious with your teammates? Either situation is right for the Carlton dance.

In fact, any situation is right for the Carlton dance. Always.

Pure Salt

What does the internet find fascinating? Well, it's really hard to tell sometimes. Something you find completely hilarious could pass the world by, leaving you alone with your laughter. And, in some instances, everyone else will latch on to a subject and make you wonder — what's the big deal?

You either feel one of two ways about Salt Bae, the Turkish chef who is super extra in his application of salt: you either get it, or you don't. But regardless, you can now find the emote that pays tribute to his salt-sprinkling inside Fortnite.

The term "salt" itself has always taken on a different connotation in the video game world, where communities sometimes argue amongst themselves about who is perpetually angry and who isn't. And in that respect, the use of the Pure Salt emote can be seen as a troll against an opponent, as though to ask, "Aw. Are you salty that I just eliminated you?"

But you're better than that! Chances are, you'll only use the Pure Salt emote to remember Salt Bae — the man who showed the world that you can pour your entire heart and soul into seasoning a meal.

Praise the Tomato

Before games like Fortnite and Destiny made emotes an integral part of the experience, another game — one that was more single-player focused — worked them in to great effect. The game in question might not seem like it has much in common with Fortnite, but if you're bad at Battle Royale, you likely die a lot ... just as you do in this game. Repeatedly.

We're talking about Dark Souls — the game Fortnite looked to for inspiration when creating the Praise the Tomato emote.

Praise the Tomato is a nod to the Praise the Sun emote found inside Dark Souls. In Fortnite, it serves as little more than a nod to FromSoftware's action-RPG. But the emote holds far more meaning inside Dark Souls itself. It's a celebration, of sorts, upon finding a bright spot in a world full of things that want to kill you — mainly, meeting the knight Solaire. As one Dark Souls player put it, "At this point, we've been beaten down so many times that we think everything that moves in the game is out to kill us, so encountering an outright helpful NPC is shocking. In our joy, we praise the sun."

Bring It

You'd be genuinely surprised at how many pop culture fads are born out of professional wrestling. The whole "Yes! Yes! Yes!" thing where you repeatedly raise your arms in the air? That comes courtesy of professional wrestler Daniel Bryan. People saying, "Wooo!" in a high-pitched voice? That's an old-school bit from the now-ancient Ric Flair. And then there's The Rock. Pretty much anything The Rock's done has made its way into the mainstream — especially now that he's the highest-paid actor on the planet.

One of those things is his signature "bring it" taunt.

In Fortnite, the corresponding emote is appropriately called Bring It. And it serves as an invitation to that guy trying to snipe you across the map, or that lady hiding behind the walls of her fort, hoping to ride things out until the match population dwindles. It says that you want a fight. You're ready to go one on one. And you're calling them out.

Using it mid-match will probably get you killed. But in the rare instance that it doesn't, it's super satisfying.

Calculated

You've likely had a brilliant idea or two while playing Fortnite. Perhaps you launched a decoy Port-a-Fort, or purposely left an item crate out in the wild as bait. In these instances, you would not use the Calculated emote. This emote is meant for those who succeed at Fortnite by finding a genius loophole. Example: you can't get killed by an opponent if the storm kills you first.

That's essentially what the Roll Safe meme is about. And that meme, friends, is what inspired the Calculated emote in the first place.

Roll Safe is all about avoiding one kind of failure by accepting another, or perhaps, choosing to live in ignorance instead. "You can't get cheated on if you don't get into a relationship," states one version of the meme. "You can't be broke if you don't check your bank account," says another.

So the next time your squad drops onto a hot loot spot, stand still and pop the Calculated emote. And then tell them, "You can't get crappy guns if you don't search."

Brush Your Shoulders

The "Brush Your Shoulders" emote might appear to be an arrogant move, like something you might pull out to say, "That was easy." But the origin of brushing your shoulders off actually comes from a more uplifting place. It's not so much being cocky as it is being resilient. It's taking what comes at you and not letting it shake you. Which is perfect for a game like Fortnite, where a lot of terrible things will happen to you.

For this emote, you have rapper Jay-Z to thank.

Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" first released in 2004. After that, "brushing your shoulders off" entered the common vernacular, inspiring people to appreciate how far they've come and what they've accomplished. It's also a call to "brush off" the things others have to say about you. And in a game like Fortnite, where you might be on the receiving end of a nasty chat message or two, there may be no better response than to show that none of it bothers you.

Brush your shoulders.

Make It Rain

The broad concept of "making it rain" seems pretty straightforward. It's a show of wealth. It's sort of like saying that you have so much money, you might as well toss some of it into the sky. You don't care if it blows away in the wind. You have a lot more hidden away somewhere else. No big deal! The origin of throwing cash to "make it rain," though? That is slightly more complicated.

According to Urban Dictionary, the phrase "make it rain" can be traced back to adult dance clubs.

We won't take it a whole lot further than that here, only to say that there are no such clubs inside Fortnite — at least not yet. That would mean the "Make It Rain" emote inside the game is a more fun, jovial take on the idea. Is there a great place to use it during play? No, not really. And maybe that's the point. It's just something fun to use while you're goofing around with friends, or while you're waiting for your next match to load up. Nothing more, nothing less. And that's totally fine.

Dance Therapy

Before Fortnite and its wide collection of emotes hit the scene, you could play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and fail, time and time again, to link Kevin Bacon to Cliff Bleszinski. But no more! The two are now connected forever by fate. Or rather, they can at least realistically come up in adjacent sentences now.

Cliff Bleszinski once was a lead designer at Epic Games, the studio behind Fortnite. And Kevin Bacon? He helped inspire the Dance Therapy emote that you can occasionally find in the Fortnite store.

Dance Therapy is based upon one of Bacon's most famous dance numbers in the movie Footloose. His moves are definitely worth a watch, if not to appreciate the Kevin Bacon of old, then to draw your own inspiration on where you can pull this emote out during a Fortnite match.

A fun time to use it is upon achieving victory. Hopefully your opponents are good sports about your dance routine — just as Kevin Bacon's been about poking a little fun at himself decades later.

Intensity

The folks at Epic Games are pretty amazing at digging into a giant heap of pop culture and pulling out an emote. But sometimes they can take you by surprise. This next emote in the lineup can't be called anything but niche — it's certainly not something that was as widely circulated as say, the Backpack Kid dance. But upon seeing the emote and, more importantly, it's source material, you'll completely understand why it's in the game.

The emote is called Intensity. And it's inspired by a man known simply as the Techno Viking. You'll probably want to cover any kid eyes for this next part.

Every year, the city of Berlin, Germany serves as the home to an event called the "Fuckparade." It's here that the world's most famous Techno Viking pointed off-screen for several seconds — almost as though to let the world know that something big was coming. And that something came. The Techno Viking proceeded to make his way down the street, busting out a series of dance moves in perfect rhythm, while other parade-goers trailed behind, somehow not mesmerized by the awesomeness in front of them.

Long story short, video of the Techno Viking and his dance made its way online. And now your Fortnite character can emulate this legend.

Finger Wag

Quite a few sports stars have their own signature taunt of sorts, performed after making a big shot, scoring a touchdown or goal, or otherwise making some other kind of important play. They're not unlike those employed by professional wrestlers, and once an athlete uses them enough, they almost become part of them. For instance, Cam Newton had his dab. And LeSean McCoy has a little dance he performs. But there may be no better taunt than Dikembe Mutombo's finger wag.

Dikembe Mutombo, now a retired basketball player, was famous for blocking shots. He blocked a lot of them. And almost every single one was followed by his signature wag of the finger — a silent way to tell his opponent, "No."

Mutombo's finger wag remained popular long after his retirement, even making its way into a Geico ad at one point. So it's only natural that the Finger Wag emote in Fortnite would pay homage to both the man and his index finger. Use it the next time someone tries to invade your base, or the next time an opposing player tries to steal a loot crate out from under your nose. Shoot them down, walk over, wag your finger — and say, "Not in my house."

Star Power

Fortnite emotes aren't always immediately understandable. Most reference something popular with the American audience, whether it be a meme floating around online, or a dance from an American movie or music video. But some reach across the seas to find inspiration from other lands. And that's where the Star Power emote comes in.

Imagine if Fortnite released an emote that mixed random dance moves from Britney Spears, Lady GaGa, Michael Jackson, and so on. That's essentially what Star Power does with K-Pop. The emote itself is a sort of Frankenstein amalgamation of several popular K-Pop dance routines, all rolled into a single tidy package. But Frankenstein more describes the way they were put together more than the end result. Frankenstein's creation wound up being pretty ugly. But the Star Power emote? It's actually pretty darn cool.

You'll find bits of dances from both Lovelyz and GFRIEND inside Star Power. If you're a fan of K-Pop, it's your lucky day. But if you don't follow K-Pop all that closely? It's worth checking out, anyway.

Best Mates

Some Fortnite emotes are born out of dance. Some are derived from comedy. What makes the Best Mates emote special, though, is that it's actually a mix of both. It's not only a dance, it's something intended to make you laugh, too.

The story begins with comedian Marlon Webb.

In mid-2016, Webb shared a video online that featured him and several of his friends doing a sort of jog-dance down the street as A-ha's "Take on Me" played in the background. The video became an instant sensation. Webb soon followed that video up with a similar one that featured the Bee Gees tune, "Stayin' Alive." After that, Webb's antics inspired a phenomenon known as the #JoggingManChallenge.

Tons of videos soon followed, with others following the lead of Webb and his friends. And now that the Best Mates emote is ready and waiting inside Fortnite, players can create their own "Band of the Bold" with their teammates.

Just be careful with the song choices. YouTube is a bit picky about copyrights.