There’s one thing that all bad television shows have in common. No, we’re not talking about low ratings or Fran Drescher. We’re talking about bad catchphrases. From Paris Hilton’s “That’s hot” to Candace Cameron’s “Oh Mylanta,” these tedious expressions can turn viewers away in droves through their inanity and sheer repetition. Tune in as as we single out TV’s most annoying catchphrases.
“Up your nose with a rubber hose.”
Vinnie Barbarino was supposed to be the roughest and toughest Sweathog in Mr. Kotter’s class, and yet try as he might, the most cutting insult he could muster was “Up your nose with a rubber hose.” That’s the kind of retort we’d expect from a snot-nosed sixth grader, not a street smart Italian stallion with a reputation for bedding half of Brooklyn. Curiously, Welcome Back, Kotter star Gabe Kaplan was so enchanted with the phrase that he recorded a single in 1976 entitled, “Up Your Nose.” Not surprisingly, the song fell flat on its face and Kaplan was forced to return to his day job soon after.
“Holy ______, Batman!”
Like many of the expressions on our list, Robin’s signature catchphrase was quite popular… at first. Unfortunately Batman’s staff writers overestimated its appeal and had the Boy Wonder say it 109 times during the show’s first season. By season two, the phrase had become little more than a parody of itself and Robin was left to exclaim insipid things like “Holy fruit salad, Batman!” as he and the Caped Crusader tangled with foes. The catchphrases’ constant repetition robbed it of its novelty and not even Batman himself could save the show from getting axed after its third year.
“…For me to poop on.”
We’ll admit that we laughed the first time we heard Triumph the Insult Dog utter his classic catchphrase, “…For me to poop on.” It was funny, unexpected and appropriately dismissive. We even liked it after hearing it for the 50th time, but even a good catchphrase can become annoying when it’s used excessively, and that’s precisely what happened as this foul-mouthed mutt uttered the phrase endlessly on The Tonight Show and Conan. Triumph’s catchphrase became an easy replacement for genuine jokes and ultimately turned the pooch into yet another one-note character.
Joey Lawrence recently told Access Hollywood that he never gets tired of delivering his signature catchphrase, “Whoa.” And therein lies the problem. Lawrence may not be tired of it, but everyone else on the planet is. This former teen heartthrob uttered the phrase so often during his five-year run on Blossom that he robbed it of any of its novelty and humour. Whoa, indeed.
We appreciate Emeril Lagasse’s efforts to make the art of cooking more entertaining, but does this charismatic chef really need to shout “Bam!” 11 times while making cauliflower casserole? As if that weren’t unsavoury enough, Lagasse’s verbal exclamations are so sudden and so forceful that it’s hard not to imagine him spewing saliva all over his carefully prepared dishes. So why does he do it? There’s actually a very practical explanation. “We used to shoot five shows a day and the food was stacking up so we’d break and the crew would eat their hearts out during the lunch break and then we would go back to tape the other three to four shows,” he recently explained on the Rachel Ray show. “And all of a sudden he’s falling asleep running the camera and she’s in a food coma. So ‘Bam!’ came from me waking everybody up. Come on people!”
“You got it dude.”
No show has produced a larger volume of annoying catchphrases than Full House. From Stephanie’s “How rude!” to Joey’s “Cut it out!,” the ABC sitcom was a vehicle for mindless dialogue. As banal as those expressions may have been, neither of them come close to Michelle’s go-to phrase, “You got it dude!” Accompanied by a trite thumbs-ups gesture, this catchphrase popped up in virtually every episode, earning even more screen time than Uncle Jessie. Come to think of it, that may not have been such a bad thing.
Perhaps the only thing worse than staring at Donald Trump’s hair for an hour is hearing him deliver his signature catchphrase, “You’re fired.” The expression had already become tiresome midway through The Apprentice’s first season in 2004, but it’s taken on an even darker connotation in recent years in light of the appalling jobless rates in the U.S. and Canada. No one should derive such joy from crushing someone’s dreams. Yes, not even Stephen Baldwin’s.
We have no problem with Fonzie. In fact, he’s the first guy we’d call if we ever had to jumpstart a jukebox. So how is it that such an undeniably cool character got saddled with such a lame catchphrase? Making the Fonz say “Aaay” once an episode was a true disservice to a natural born charmer capable of talking his way out of any jam.
“De plane! De plane!”
We don’t ask much from our catchphrases, but if you’re going to deliver them once per episode the least you can do is pronounce them correctly. Tattoo’s mangled line reading of “De plane! De plane!” was plain difficult to understand. It was also utterly useless, since everyone on Mr. Roarke’s island could see the vehicle coming from miles away. It’s hardly surprising then that Tattoo and his inane catchphrase were both removed from the show following Fantasy Island’s sixth season.
“Did I do that?”
It’s amazing how quickly a good catchphrase can become annoying when it’s delivered by an abrasive character. We loved the expression, “Did I do that?” when it was uttered by Curly in the Three Stooges film Punch Drunks, but we winced every time Steve Urkel blurted it out on Family Matters. Perhaps that’s because Curly used the phrase sparingly, while Urkel spouted it like it was a contractual obligation. His overuse of the catchphrase permanently transformed an otherwise funny expression into a hideous ear worm.