There’s no doubt that television has influenced our popular culture over the decades. Favorite TV shows are commonly remembered not only for their characters and overall storylines, but their signature one-liners as well. Some of these often-repeated utterances have taken on a life of their own and have become part of the culture. You might have said some of them yourself from time to time. There are plenty of iconic catchphrases to choose from but we narrowed down a list to what we consider the greatest ones of all time.
1. “How You Doin’?”
All of the characters on Friends were memorable in their own way, but Joey Tribbiani really nailed it with his catchphrase “How you doin?” That greeting was Joey’s never-fail pickup line and was used frequently over the show’s ten seasons.
2. “Giggity Giggity”
Family Guy took a fairly innocent sounding line and gave it a not so innocent meaning. Quagmire uses the phrase “Giggity giggity” whenever he’s referring to something sexual, and it really took off. Lowis: “Hey Peter, go get something from the concession stand, I need something to suck on.” Quagmire: “GIGGITY GIGGITY?”
3. “Yada, yada, yada”
Seinfeld was the show about nothing, so it makes sense that one of the most memorable catchphrases from the show is also about nothing. The phrase was used to gloss over things that didn’t need mentioning in a story, and it was always funny. No doubt you’ve used this line yourself when wanting to wash over the details.
4. “Homey don’t play that”
Damon Wayans played the character Homey D. Clown on In Living Color. The character worked as a clown to fulfill his parole after being let out of jail, but was living in constant awareness of not wanting to do something just because “the man” wanted him too. When he felt suspicious about the motives behind something, he would exclaim “Homey don’t play that.”
5. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”
The Brady Bunch was about a big blended family so naturally sibling rivalry played into the storyline. Perhaps no relationship was more complicated than the one between Jan and Marcia, the middle sister jealous of her older one who seemed to have it all.
6. “Good night, John Boy”
The Waltons originally aired on CBS from 1972 to 1981, and was always told through the eyes of the oldest child, John Boy. Each wholesome episode would close out with the family going to sleep and the voiceovers of everyone saying goodnight to each other throughout the house. “Good night, John Boy” would kick off the wind-down.
Robin Williams played an alien on Mork and Mindy, and his character popularized the odd catchphrase “nanu-nanu.” Mork used the phrase as a greeting, which came from his original planet Ork.
8. “Did I do that?”
Family Matters got a lot of its comedy thanks to the character Urkel, who was frequently causing problems and being clumsy. He was never entirely aware which is what made him funny, and his oft-repeated phrase “Did I do that?” was often delivered in over-the-top ways.
9. “Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!”
Southpark for some reason had a running gag on the show that the character Kenny would get killed. Once he was offed, Stan would yell “Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!” and Kyle would respond “You bastards!” Funny enough, the creators of the show Trey Parker and Matt Stone have said that Kyle’s response is actually directed at them for writing the death into the episode.
10. “I’m listening”
Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier Crane was a psychiatrist with a radio show, and whenever people would call in he would say “I’m listening” in his own special tone. Frasier was a pretty pretentious character, so it was nice of him greet his callers so soothingly.
No one can hear the line ”D’oh!” without thinking of Homer Simpson. Homer is one of the more simple characters on The Simpsons and seems to struggle through things big and small, so there are plenty of circumstances for him to exclaim the line in exasperation.
Fonzie on Happy Days had a catchphrase that’s hardly even a word at all. He would say “aaay/eyyy/ayyy” (depending on how you like to spell it) generally to demonstrate that he was keeping his cool. Usually he would throw his thumbs up as he did it, and often it was used to attract the ladies. The show also spawned the catchphrase “Sit on it.”
13. “Who loves ya, baby?”
The phrase “Who loves ya, baby?” was popularized by the titular character on Kojak, played by Telly Savalas. Clive James once said: “Telly Savalas can make bad slang sound like good slang and good slang sound like lyric poetry. It isn’t what he is, so much as the way he talks, that gets you tuning in.”
14. “Live long and prosper”
If Star Trek had a single best catchphrase, “Live long and prosper” is it. It’s accompanied by the Vulcan salute which is used as a greeting. The phrase is technically a blessing, which in Vulcan is read as “dif-tor heh smusma.”
Nerdy theoretical physicist, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons on the hit show, The Big Bang Theory, is not known for his social skills or his sense of humor. This is why every time one of his attempted jokes falls flat, he follows up with this exclamation, just in case people didn’t know he was being witty.
16. “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
Who could forget the chipmunk-cheeked Arnold, played by Gary Coleman, asking this question to his older brother Willis, played by Todd Bridges? The phrase took on a life of its own and is still uttered today by more than just fans of Different Strokes.
17. “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”
This catchphrase is from the Adventures of Superman, the 1950s comic-based television series starring George Reeves. Each episode started with a narrator introducing the mighty attributes of the superhero, followed by passersby exclaiming “Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”
George Wendt, who played the lovable barfly Norm Peterson on Cheers, was always greeted by a a rousing one-word greeting of “Norm!” whenever he walked into Cheers bar, which happened in almost all of the 275 episodes of the long-running sitcom. In fact, it was the first word ever uttered by Frasier and Lilith Crane’s young son, Frederick.
Even if you didn’t watch Good Times back in the 1970s, chances are you’ve heard the catchphrase “dy-no-mite!” which was uttered in every episode by the inimitable Jimmy Walker Jr. Apparently series creator Norman Lear and some of the co-stars hated the catchphrase, but it really caught on and became the comedians signature line that he still uses today.
20. “Kiss My Grits!”
Sassy waitress Flo, played by Polly Holliday, used to say this southern-inspired one-liner to her diner boss Mel when he pissed her off, which was pretty much every episode of the 70s sitcom, Alice.
21. “Let’s Be Careful Out There”
Hill Street Blues was a groundbreaking cop show of the 1980s known for its gritty realism, hand-held camera work and almost documentary-type feel to its production. At the end of the daily briefing and roll call, Sergeant Phil Esterhaus would always end with a sincere “Hey, let’s be careful out there,” which sort of became a national catchphrase.
22.“Lucy, you got some splaining to do!”
One of the earliest catchphrases of classic TV came from Cuban-born Ricky Ricardo, played by Desi Arnaz, to his wife Lucy, played by his real-life wife Lucille Ball, after yet another one of her cockamamie schemes. Even those born decades after this show ruled the airwaves have probably heard this one.
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