Our Daily Bleg: What TV Catchphrase Do You Abuse?

Here’s the latest guest bleg from Fred Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations. His past blegs can be found here; send us your own bleg requests here.

The Yale Book of Quotations has a large section of the most famous television catchphrases. The list is stronger on pre-1980 catchphrases than post-1980 catchphrases, perhaps reflecting the fact that my own TV-watching was concentrated in the 1960’s and 1970’s. A couple of years ago I blegged on the Project Wombat listserv, asking for suggestions of famous post-1980 TV catchphrases not already included in the YBQ.

The ones with the most votes were:

“Yada, yada, yada.” (Seinfeld)
“Well, isn’t that special?” (Saturday Night Live)
“You look mahvelous!” (Saturday Night Live)
“No soup for you!” (Seinfeld)
“Bam!” (Emeril Live)
“I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl …” (Newhart)
“Norm!” (Cheers)
“The tribe has spoken.” (Survivor)
“Yeah, that’s the ticket.” (Saturday Night Live)
“Homey don’t play that!” (In Living Color)
“How you doin’?” (Friends)
“Here it is, your moment of Zen.” (The Daily Show)
“You eeeediot!” (Ren and Stimpy)
“Holy crap!” (Everybody Loves Raymond)
“Heh heh.” (Beavis and Butthead)
“Hey now!” (The Larry Sanders Show)

I would welcome further suggestions of famous post-1980 TV catchphrases not already in the YBQ. I realize that there may be a few Freakonomics readers who do not yet have copies of the YBQ, but suggestions of catchphrases that turn out already to be in the book are fine too.


A couple from the UK here...

"Don't mention the War" - Fawlty Towers. A good one if you need to avoid a subject but it's bound to come up

"Are you local?" - The League of Gentleman. Great when drunk

And from the master of the catchphrase - Alan Partridge.

"Smell my cheese you mother!"
"Back of the Net!"

Fred Shapiro

Re #133: "Voted off the island" was not listed because it is already included in The Yale Book of Quotations.

captain kilgore

"And now you know, and knowing is half the battle" - at the end of every G.I. Joe cartoon.

72 km/h

I second #205 and add "Sweet Zombie Jesus!" from same.

Also, what, no "Go Team Venture!" - The Venture Bros.

Randy MacDonald

I am surprised that Dave Letterman's attempt to coin a catchphrase wasn't mentioned. My favourite and oft-used 'Whadda you want, wicker?' was, I thought, a classic.

Also, 'Hep me! I've been heep-no-tized!' still makes me chuckle.


"Fierce!"- Christian from project runway

Anthony Gough

What, no "do you want to phone a friend?"


"Good news, everyone!" - Professor Farnsworth (Futurama)


"Ha Ha!" - Nelson, from the Simpsons


"It must be the mad cow"-William Shatner (Denny Crane) Boston Legal


i'm surprised that a whole debate started over that's what she said but there are others like
"question" by dwight

another one i use so often is "MEGAN MEGAAAAN MEGAAAN" weeds


"D'oh!" - Simpsons
"Autobots roll out" -

Fred Shapiro

Re #125: "Gilligan's Island" is post-1980?


"I'm out."
- Kramer, The Contest


"I Choo-Choo-Choose you"
-Ralph's Valentine to Lisa on The Simpsons

"Live every week like it's shark week."
-Words of wisdom from Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock

Brian R

"Do you smell what the Rock is cookin?" The Rock, any WWF show he was on

"Let's get it on." "Big" John McCarthy before any fight he was ref'ing in the UFC.

"When will the hurting stop?" Bill the human, Terrible Thunder Lizards

Fred Shapiro

Re #20: The reason that "Is that your final answer?" and "You are the weakest link" were not listed is that they are already included in The Yale Book of Quotations.


Did I do that? -- Urkel, Family Matters

DOH! - Homer, Simpsons

The way Chandler on Friends accents words.. (not a phrase, more a general intonation) Ex: Could you BE any more wrong?!?

Conor - Ireland

That 70's show;

Michael: "BURNED!" (has to be kind-of shouted)

Back to the Future;

Doc Brown: "Great Scott", Marty: "That's heavy..."

Um, and I'd have to agree with any and all HIMYM quotes, "Suit Up!" being my favourite


"Fear is not a factor for you" - Fear Factor

"I have a cunning plan" - Baldrick in Blackadder

"Oh-My-God!" - Friends