There’s one thing that all sitcoms have in common. No, we’re not talking about wisecracking neighbours or lovable pets. We’re talking about catchphrases. From Jimmy Walker’s “Dyn-o-mite!” to Gary Coleman’s “What’chu talkin’ ’bout Willis?” these easily repeatable phrases are a key ingredient in a show’s longterm success. Suit up as we salute TV’s top ten greatest catchphrases.
“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” (The Incredible Hulk)
The irony of David Banner’s most memorable catchphrase is that we actually did like it when he got angry. In fact, watching this mild-mannered scientist morph into a menacing green monster was the only reason why most viewers tuned into The Incredible Hulk. Banner’s hideous transformation was the highlight of the show and led to some of the most gleefully destructive moments in the history of primetime television.
“Missed it by that much.” (Get Smart)
A true master of understatement, secret agent Maxwell Smart was famous for downplaying big events by glibly declaring, “Missed it by that much.” This wonderfully succinct catchphrase has since popped up in thousands of viral videos in which gymnasts fall flat on their faces, drivers back into lakes and big league pitchers throw curve balls deep into the third row.
“Suit up.” (How I Met Your Mother)
There are few catchphrases that speak to men more than “suit up.” Popularized by Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother, this “awesomely awesome” expression challenges men to look and act their best, regardless of how they’re feeling on the inside. True story.
“That’s what she said!” (The Office)
Unlike the other catchphrases on our list, “That’s what she said” isn’t an original utterance. However, Michael Scott used it so frequently and to such hilarious effect that he managed to make it his own. Perhaps the only thing funnier than hearing Scott deliver his signature sexual innuendo was watching him try to restrain himself from uttering it following a sexual harassment seminar in The Office’s second season. Scott managed to control himself at first until Jim’s constant goading prompted him to shout the phrase at the top of his lungs.
“Let’s hug it out, bitch.” (Entourage)
From 2004 to 2011, virtually everything Ari Gold said ended up getting quoted in a men’s magazine or reprinted on a t-shirt. However, none of his bon mots resonated more with fans than his profanity-laced command, “Let’s hug it out, bitch.” Gold used the catchphrase and accompanying gesture on more than a few occasions to patch up his rocky relationship with E. The origin of the expression has never been explicity revealed, but Jeremy Piven likely borrowed it from a scene in his short-lived show, Cupid, in which he shouted, “It’s International Hug a Stranger Day! It’s time to hug it out, you little freak!”
(WARNING! THIS CLIP CONTAINS NAUGHTY LANGUAGE AND MAY BE FOUND OFFENSIVE)
“I love it when a plan comes together.” (The A-Team)
Hannibal was the first to admit that his intricate plans didn’t always work out precisely as he intended, but they did always work. When the dust finally settled, this battle-hardened colonel would place a fresh cigar in his mouth and smugly declare, “I love it when a plan comes together.” The catchphrase was usually accompanied by the opening strings of The A-Team’s theme song and an insert shot of an exasperated Faceman or B.A. rolling their eyes.
“Eh, what’s up Doc?” (Looney Tunes)
Bugs Bunny has been responsible for hundreds of hilarious one-liners over the years, but the one phrase which everyone associates with this “wascally wabbit” is, “Eh, what’s up Doc?” According to Looney Tunes director Tex Avery, the phrase was carefully chosen to illustrate Bug’s non-chalance. “We decided he was going to be a smart-aleck rabbit, but casual about it,” Avery explained in an interview. “That opening line of ‘Eh, what’s up, Doc?’ floored them. They expected the rabbit to scream, or anything but make a casual remark. For here’s a guy pointing a gun in his face! It got such a laugh that we said, ‘Boy, we’ll do that every chance we get.'”
“Live long, and prosper.” (Star Trek)
Star Trek’s original incarnation only lasted for three seasons, but Spock’s Vulcan salute and accompanying catchphrase, “live long, and prosper” continues to be popular to this day. Leonard Nemoy can still recall the reaction he received after delivering the line for the first time in the season two episode “Amok Time”. “Immediately on the street people started doing it.” Nimoy recently told the Los Angeles Times. “I though ‘whoa, we’ve touched something.’ It’s one of those magic things that happens sometimes when you present an idea and a big ‘yes’ comes back. It’s been a big yes ever since.”
“D’Oh!” (The Simpsons)
The Simpsons have produced dozens of catchphrases over the years including Bart’s memorable “ay, caramba” and “eat my shorts.” However, none of them have had the enduring shelf life of Homer’s anguished “D’Oh!” In fact, the phrase has become so popular that it was included in a 2001 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, where it was defined as, “Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish. Also (usu. mildly derogatory): implying that another person has said or done something foolish.”
“What’chu talkin’ ’bout Willis?” (Diff’rent Strokes)
Believe it or not, television’s greatest catchphrase was the result of a simple mistake. “It was actually a typo in the script,” Diff’rent Strokes actor Todd Bridges revealed in the documentary, 50 Greatest Comedy Catchphrases. “Gary Coleman was so smart that he would read exactly what was there, so if you wrote it bad, he read it bad. In the 70’s we had typewriters and there were always typos, errors and misspellings. So Gary Coleman gets sent the script. It was supposed to be, ‘What are you talking about Willis?’ but it ended up being ‘What’chu talkin’ bout Willis?’” Coleman delivered the line exactly as it was written and everyone erupted in laughter. “Once that happened it was like, ‘We found the catchphrase for the show!’” Bridges recalled. “It went on and on for eight years and it drove Gary Coleman crazy because his mistake became their gold.”