With the toilet on the International Space Station busted once again, we can't help but wonder whether humanity is doomed to a space-faring future without working facilities. Fortunately, there are plenty of fictional, functional space toilets to ease our minds.
Star Trek: The Federation may have given us huge advances in transportation and energy-matter conversion, but their toilet technology is decidedly dull. The most advanced feature on the brig toilet seen in The Undiscovered Country is that it pops out of the wall. And, sadly, Federation loos are hardly immune to wear and tear; at one point during the Voyager's journey, the ship was down to a mere four functional lavs. And, if Jonathan Frakes is to be believed, the situation on the Enterprise-D is even more dire:
Galaxy Quest: In a bit of oversight, the creators of the non-existent television series Galaxy Quest failed to include even a single bathroom in the official blueprints for the NSEA Protector. Fortunately, a deleted scene reveals that, despite mistaking the TV episodes for actual historical documents, those ingenious Thermians recognized the need for mammalian waste extraction. It probably works, but by the time you figure out how, it would be far too late:
Lexx: Off-beat space opera Lexx never shied away from toilet humor, so it figures that the ship's toilet would be, well, humorous. The titular living ship naturally has an organic lavatory, complete with a tongue, so you can finish your bowel movement with that fresh, just-licked-by-a-giant-space-bug clean feeling.
Babylon 5: The Babylon 5 space station plays host to a number of species, many with unique physiological properties. While human males can opt for the classic urinal, station toilets come equipped with attachments to accommodate other anatomies. As for species with more offensive excretory processes – such as the carrion-eating pak'ma'ra – they get their own facilities.
Firefly: As a general rule, everything on the smuggling ship Serenity is always breaking down, but the toilets seem to be the only things Kaylee isn't constantly repairing. Perhaps that's because they're the model of simplicity: sleeping-car style cans that, like the Federation brig toilets, pull out from the wall.
My Teacher Glows in the Dark by Bruce Coville: When Peter Thompson travels through space to meet with an interplanetary council, he discovers that the most difficult part of the mission may not be convincing the aliens not to destroy humanity, but figuring out how to use the facilities:
Give me the code for a bathroom, please," I said to the URAT.
"What do you mean?" I cried, crossing my legs.
"I do not know what kind of bathroom you need. We have fifty-three different types of facilities."
I remembered the octopi toilets, or whatever they were, that I had seen on the first chart. Given the variety of aliens I had met already, it made sense that the ship needed a lot of different bathrooms.
"I'm glad I'm not the plumber for this place," I muttered.
"Yes," agreed the URAT, "that would be a disaster."
"Look, I don't need to be insulted by a machine. Just tell me how to find a bathroom!"
The URAT informed me that it needed to know more about me. After it had asked fifteen or twenty questions, some of them very personal, it finally gave me a bathroom code.
Not a moment too soon! I thought, as I punched the code into the control pad. I stepped into a bathroom that was only mildly odd – which is to say that it only took me about five minutes (five desperate minutes) to figure out how to use it.
Battlestar Galactica: The bathroom holds particular dramatic significance for BSG's doctor/Cylon collaborator/nymph squad prophet Gaius Baltar. It's where Laura Roslin asks him to be her vice president – and where she later threatens to hang his presidential portrait. It's also where he gets stared down by a supremely pissed-off (and audibly pissing) Starbuck. Of course, while the toilets in the Colonial Fleet seem to work, there's never enough toilet paper and the stall doors just won't stay closed.
Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams: The Starship Bistromath does away with the need for plumbing altogether. By placing the teleportation cubicles in the bathrooms, Slartibartfast has ensured that any toilet issues can be resolved by simply teleporting the offending substances elsewhere.
Star Kid: When Spencer Griffith finds an alien Cybersuit, the issue isn't whether the suit's functions (including one for waste collection) work, it's whether Spencer can think of the proper term for communicating his rather urgent needs to the suit's AI (starting at 9:58):