December 02, 2006
TV's top 100 catchphrases

All right, enough with the politics and environment and stuff. Let's talk about truly important matters: the 100 greatest television catchphrases, according to the folks at TVLand.

The TV Land cable network has compiled a list of the 100 greatest catchphrases in TV, from the serious - Walter Cronkite's nightly signoff "And that's the way it is" - to the silly: "We are two wild and crazy guys!"

The network will air a countdown special, The 100 Greatest TV Quotes & Catch Phrases, over five days starting Dec. 11.

"We have found that television is such a huge part of baby boomers' DNA that it makes sense that so much of America's pop culture jargon has come from TV," said Larry Jones, TV Land president.

The greatest number of moments, 26, come from the 1970s. TV Land identified nine moments from this decade. Ten are from commercials, and 28 from comedies, including six from Saturday Night Live.

Couple of points here:

- I don't care if they were moments that occurred on television, quotes that came from current events should not be on this list. I'm speaking of things like "Ask not what your country can do for you ..." and "One small step for man ..." and the like. To me, TV catch phrases should be associated with TV shows and ads. I'll give a dispensation for sporting events ("Do you believe in miracles?") and Walter Cronkite, but I draw the line at the actual news.

- Again, to me, for a catchphrase to qualify here, it should be sufficiently steeped in the popular culture that someone who has never seen the show or ad in question recognizes the quote and understands the context. That may discriminate against newer shows, but in the case of quotes like "Suit up!" from "How I Met Your Mother", I call that no great loss.

- They really could have mined "Saturday Night Live" and "Seinfeld" for a lot more than they did. I cannot believe that neither "Not that there's anything wrong with that" and "Master of my domain" were included.

- Having said all this, and bearing in mind that such things are always highly subjective, this is not a bad list. Quite a few of these will bring back vivid memories for most of us whose formative years were the 70s and 80s.

As does not provide the actual list, I'll reproduce it below from the Chron story for posterity. Click on to see what they've got, and tune in if this interests you enough to hear the backstories.

  • "Aaay" (Fonzie, Happy Days)
  • "And that's the way it is" (Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News)
  • "Ask not what your country can do for you ..." (John F. Kennedy)
  • "Baby, you're the greatest" (Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden, The Honeymooners)
  • "Bam!" (Emeril Lagasse, Emeril Live)
  • "Book 'em, Danno" (Steve McGarrett, Hawaii Five-O)
  • "Come on down!" (Johnny Olson, The Price is Right)
  • "Danger, Will Robinson" (Robot, Lost in Space)
  • "De plane! De plane!" (Tattoo, Fantasy Island)
  • "Denny Crane" (Denny Crane, Boston Legal)
  • "Do you believe in miracles?" (Al Michaels, 1980 Winter Olympics)
  • "D'oh!" (Homer Simpson, The Simpsons)
  • "Don't make me angry ..." (David Banner, The Incredible Hulk)
  • "Dyn-o-mite" (J.J., Good Times)
  • "Elizabeth, I'm coming!" (Fred Sanford, Sanford and Son)
  • "Gee, Mrs. Cleaver ..." (Eddie Haskell, Leave it to Beaver)
  • "God'll get you for that" (Maude, Maude)
  • "Good grief" (Charlie Brown, Peanuts specials)
  • "Good night, and good luck" (Edward R. Murrow, See It Now)
  • "Good night, John Boy" (The Waltons)
  • "Have you no sense of decency?" (Joseph Welch to Sen. McCarthy)
  • "Heh heh" (Beavis and Butt-head, Beavis and Butthead)
  • "Here it is, your moment of Zen" (Jon Stewart, The Daily Show)
  • "Here's Johnny!" (Ed McMahon, The Tonight Show)
  • "Hey now!" (Hank Kingsley, The Larry Sanders Show)
  • "Hey hey hey!" (Dwayne Nelson, What's Happening!!)
  • "Hey hey hey!" (Fat Albert, Fat Albert)
  • "Holy (whatever), Batman!" (Robin, Batman)
  • "Holy crap!" (Frank Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond)
  • "Homey don't play that!" (Homey the Clown, In Living Color)
  • "How sweet it is!" (Jackie Gleason, The Jackie Gleason Show)
  • "How you doin'?" (Joey Tribbiani, Friends)
  • "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" (Alka Seltzer ad)
  • "I know nothing!" (Sgt. Schultz, Hogan's Heroes)
  • "I love it when a plan comes together" (Hannibal, The A-Team)
  • "I want my MTV!" (MTV ad)
  • "I'm Larry, this is my brother Darryl ..." (Larry, Newhart)
  • "I'm not a crook ..." (Richard Nixon)
  • "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" (Vicks Formula 44 ad)
  • "I'm Rick James, bitch!" (Dave Chappelle as Rick James, Chappelle's Show)
  • "If it weren't for you meddling kids!" (Various villains, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?)
  • "Is that your final answer?" (Regis Philbin, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)
  • "It keeps going and going and going ..." (Energizer Batteries ad)
  • "It takes a licking ..." (Timex ad)
  • "Jane, you ignorant slut" (Dan Aykroyd to Jane Curtin, Saturday Night Live)
  • "Just one more thing ..." (Columbo, Columbo)
  • "Let's be careful out there" (Sgt. Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues)
  • "Let's get ready to rumble!" (Michael Buffer, various sports events)
  • "Live long and prosper" (Spock, Star Trek)
  • "Makin' whoopie" (Bob Eubanks, The Newlywed Game)
  • "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! (Jan Brady, The Brady Bunch)
  • "Mom always liked you best" (Tommy Smothers, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour)
  • "Never assume ..." (Felix Unger, The Odd Couple)
  • "Nip it!" (Barney Fife, The Andy Griffith Show)
  • "No soup for you!" (The Soup Nazi, Seinfeld)
  • "Norm!" (Cheers)
  • "Now cut that out!" (Jack Benny, The Jack Benny Program)
  • "Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!" (Stan and Kyle, South Park)
  • "Oh, my nose!" (Marcia Brady, The Brady Bunch)
  • "One small step for man ..." (Neil Armstrong)
  • "Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?" (Grey Poupon ad)
  • "Read my lips: No new taxes!" (George H.W. Bush)
  • "Resistance is futile" (Picard as Borg, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  • "Say good night, Gracie" (George Burns, The Burns & Allen Show)
  • "Schwing!" (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth, Saturday Night Live)
  • "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" (Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle)
  • "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids" (Trix cereal ad)
  • "Smile, you're on Candid Camera" (Candid Camera)
  • "Sock it to me" (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In)
  • "Space, the final frontier ..." (Capt. Kirk, Star Trek)
  • "Stifle!" (Archie Bunker, All in the Family)
  • "Suit up!" (Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother)
  • "Tastes great! Less filling!" (Miller Lite beer ad)
  • "Tell me what you don't like about yourself" (Dr. McNamara and Dr. Troy, Nip/Tuck)
  • "That's hot" (Paris Hilton, The Simple Life)
  • "The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat" (Jim McKay, ABC's Wide World of Sports)
  • "The tribe has spoken" (Jeff Probst, Survivor)
  • "The truth is out there" (Fox Mulder, The X-Files)
  • "This is the city ..." (Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet)
  • "Time to make the donuts" (Dunkin' Donuts ad)
  • "Two thumbs up" (Siskel & Ebert, Siskel & Ebert)
  • "Up your nose with a rubber hose" (Vinnie Barbarino, Welcome Back, Kotter)
  • "We are two wild and crazy guys!" (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd as Czech playboys, Saturday Night Live)
  • "Welcome to the O.C., bitch" (Luke, The O.C.)
  • "Well, isn't that special?" (Dana Carvey as the Church Lady, Saturday Night Live)
  • "We've got a really big show!" (Ed Sullivan, The Ed Sullivan Show)
  • "Whassup?" (Budweiser ad)
  • "What you see is what you get!" (Geraldine, The Flip Wilson Show)
  • "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" (Arnold Drummond, Diff'rent Strokes)
  • "Where's the beef?" (Wendy's ad)
  • "Who loves you, baby?" (Kojak, Kojak)
  • "Would you believe?" (Maxwell Smart, Get Smart)
  • "Yabba dabba do!" (Fred Flintstone, The Flintstones)
  • "Yada, yada, yada" (Seinfeld)
  • "Yeah, that's the ticket" (Jon Lovitz as the pathological liar, Saturday Night Live)
  • "You eeeediot!" (Ren, Ren & Stimpy)
  • "You look mahvelous!" (Billy Crystal as Fernando, Saturday Night Live)
  • "You rang?" (Lurch, The Addams Family)
  • "You're fired!" (Donald Trump, The Apprentice)
  • "You've got spunk ..." (Lou Grant, The Mary Taylor Moore Show)
Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 02, 2006 to TV and movies | TrackBack

This is a good list.

Personally, I'd say that the most glaring SNL omission is "Cheeseburger!" My family still uses that one, along with "No Coke - Pepsi!"

Also, I'm not that familiar with Boston Legal, so I have no idea why "Denny Crane" makes this list.

Posted by: paulrobeson on December 2, 2006 1:49 PM

My name is Bond: James Bond.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on December 2, 2006 3:00 PM

What about "nanu nanu"?

Posted by: Mike Thomas on December 2, 2006 11:22 PM

I agree the political phrases that just happened to have been broadcast should not be included. In about 10 minutes I came up with several I think are better than many of the entries:
And Away We Go ... Jackie Gleason
Beam Me Up ... Star Trek
Can You Hear Me Now? ... Commercial
Good Night Chet, Good Night David ... NBC Nightly News
Here Come De Judge ... Flip Wilson
Hi-Ho Silver ... The Lone Ranger
I Could've Had a V-8 ... commercial
I Don't Think so Tim ... Home Improvement
Oh Rochester! ... Jack Benny
Say the Secret Word and ... Groucho Marx
Sit On It ... Happy Days
Survey Says ... Family Fued
That's the $64k question ... $64k Question
The heartbreak of Psoryosis ... commercial
This is your life ... This is your life
Wheee, Dogies ... Beverly Hillbillies
Well! ... Jack Benny
Well, Golly! ... Gomer Pyle
You are a Meathead ... All in the Family
Who was that masked man? ... The Lone Ranger

Posted by: George on December 13, 2006 10:21 AM