“Did I do that?”
“What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
“This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”
Even if you’ve never seen an episode of Family Matters, Diff’rent Strokes, or Mission Impossible, you could probably either identify the quote to the show, or at least recognize that it’s a line from some TV show. That’s the power of a good catchphrase, a phenomenon that, like a theme song that explains the premise of the show, rarely exists anymore. It’s most often associated with corny sitcoms from the 1970s-1990s, and as everyone knows, TV was terrible until The Sopranos came along. (This is obviously hogwash, but it sure seems like a lot of people believe this.) But the greatest show of all-time, The Simpsons, has multiple catchphrases (“If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my room”), as do all-timers like Seinfeld, Star Trek, and The Honeymooners.
But with the exception of The Simpsons, all those shows are long gone. In fact, of the show’s found on TV Guide‘s 60 greatest catchphrases of all-time list published in 2013, only eight are still on the air, five of which are reality shows. We’re long overdue to crown a new king or queen of catchphrases. Here are 10 options, all from shows that aired or are still airing in the 2010s, ranked in order of catchphrase quality.
-“Good God, Lemon” from 30 Rock (useful, but it’s usually followed by an hurtful insult — catchphrases are supposed to be fun!)
-“This guy f*cks” from Silicon Valley (hard to say in certain company)
-“Bazinga!” from The Big Bang Theory (“Bazinga” will, unfortunately, go down as one of the most iconic catchphrases of all-time, right up there with “Kiss my grits!” and “How rude!” But like “Kiss my grits!” and “How rude!,” it was never funny in the first place, and gets more annoying with every use, which is now roughly 54,298 times. But if you want a catchphrase that appears on an unlicensed shirt sold on a New Jersey boardwalk, “Bazinga!” is your best bet.)
And now, the top 10.
10. Show: Rick and Morty
Catchphrase: “Wubba lubba dub dub”
Case For: “Wubba lubba dub dub” was a beautiful mistake. Here’s writer Ryan Ridley on Rick’s nonsensical Arsenio Hall-inspired catchphrase:
I wrote that last scene in “Meeseeks and Destroy” with Rick offering Jerry and Beth the Fleeseeks box very quickly while trying to make a deadline. After Rick’s line: “What? It just has a mop and some floor wax in it” the script than has him dropping to the floor, spinning around like Curly from the Three Stooges, and saying “Whoobwhoobwhoobwhooob.”
It was me being lazy and wanting to make myself and the writers laugh at the way I was (ahem) ironically phoning it in. I fully expected Dan [Harmon] to rewrite the entire scene and make it a brilliant and pointed conclusion to the story, but instead he just deleted the Curly bit and changed the line to “Wobble gobba lop bops!”
That’s how it was written when Justin [Roiland] took the script to the recording booth and he said that line in three different ways and of the three, thought “Wubba Lubba Dub Dub” was the funniest. That’s how these things happen sometime. Just a series of accidents.
As far as origin stories go, that’s more Batman than The Whizzer.
Case Against: Rick has since moved on to “I don’t give a f*ck,” and “Hit the sack, Jack,” and “rubber baby buggy bumpers,” and “lick lick lick my balls,” “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, bitch,” and “AIDS,” among others. Also, “wubba lubba dub dub” is Bird-Person for “I am in great pain, please help me.” That’s a bummer.