The 20 Best Sitcom Catchphrases in TV History
With their reliance on familiarity and ingrained story structure, sitcoms are the perfect breeding ground for catchphrases. If a character can be defined by one or two memorable lines, then it’s easy to introduce that person to new viewers each week. Catchphrases can be crutches, then, but they can also be funny or memorable, or at least take on a life of their own. Here’s a look at the 20 best sitcom catchphrases.
“Bang, zoom, to the moon, Alice!” – Ralph Kramden, “The Honeymooners”
Working-class husband Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) threatened his wife Alice (Audrey Meadows) all the time, although it was all just empty bluster. Ralph had a few different ways to express his frustration, but his desire to shoot Alice into space is the most memorable.
“How YOU doin’?” – Joey Tribbiani, “Friends”
It doesn’t read like much, but when you hear how ladies’ man Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) utters this innocuous greeting, you’ll understand why he scores with more women than all of his friends combined.
“Hello, Newman.” – Jerry Seinfeld, “Seinfeld”
The contempt that dripped from Jerry’s voice on “Seinfeld“ every time he encountered unctuous neighbor Newman (Wayne Knight) turned this simple pleasantry into an expression of deep hatred.
“Kiss my grits.” – Flo Castleberry, “Alice”
Earthy waitress Flo (Polly Holliday) wasn’t interested in taking any grief from customers or co-workers, and especially not from her boss Mel, owner of Mel’s Diner. She’d tell him off with this colorful phrase whenever he got out of line.
“Dyn-o-mite!” – J.J. Evans, “Good Times”
The fast-talking J.J. (Jimmie Walker) was always exuberant, even when facing his family’s poverty and his friends’ struggles with addiction. His favorite exclamation was used for anything that deserved his stamp of approval.
“I know nothing!” – Sgt. Schultz, “Hogan’s Heroes”
Making Nazis into harmless buffoons was what ”Hogan’s Heroes“ did best, and Sgt. Schultz (John Banner) was perhaps the most benign of all, always uttering this phrase while turning a blind eye to his Allied prisoners’ schemes.
“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” – Jan Brady, “The Brady Bunch”
Poor Jan (Eve Plumb) was always living in the shadow of her more popular older sister Marcia, and her whining about it only made things worse. Her lament was actually used more often in ”The Brady Bunch Movie“ and “Saturday Night Live” parodies than on the show itself.
“Nip it in the bud.” – Barney Fife, “The Andy Griffith Show”
Hyperactive deputy sheriff Barney Fife (Don Knotts) was a little overly sensitive to innocent shenanigans and would sputter this phrase whenever he felt that hooligan-like behavior was about to get out of hand.
“Suit up!” – Barney Stinson, “How I Met Your Mother”
“How I Met Your Mother’s” champion womanizer Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) is always impeccably dressed, and whenever he’s getting ready for an important outing, he uses this phrase to get himself (and his friends, if he can) in the right frame of mind.
“Up your nose with a rubber hose.” – Vinnie Barbarino, “Welcome Back, Kotter”
Brooklyn high school student Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta) was a master of the ridiculous insult, and this particular kiss-off was his favorite.
“What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” – Arnold Drummond, “Diff’rent Strokes”
Plucky orphan Arnold Drummond (Gary Coleman) would often express skepticism at something his older brother Willis said by using this phrase.
“You got it, dude.” – Michelle Tanner, “Full House”
“Full House“ was a show full of catchphrases, but this one from precocious young Michelle Tanner (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) was probably the most memorable and the least annoying because it was at least kind of cute.
“Lucy, you got some explaining to do!” – Ricky Ricardo, “I Love Lucy”
Okay, so Ricky (Desi Arnaz) pronounced it more like “splaining” with his Cuban accent, but either way, it was the exasperated husband’s way of calling his troublemaking wife Lucy (Lucille Ball) to task for her latest scheme.
“Did I do that?” – Steve Urkel, “Family Matters”
Nerd extraordinaire Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) was always causing some sort of damage, often thanks to his strange experiments. No matter how often he wreaked havoc, he always seemed surprised to have been the culprit.
“Missed it by that much.” – Maxwell Smart, “Get Smart”
Bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) had plenty of catchphrases, almost all related to his uncanny ability to screw up his missions. This one was generally used when Smart was nowhere near the target he’d been assigned.
“That’s what she said.” – Michael Scott, “The Office”
Michael Scott (Steve Carell) certainly isn’t the first person to have said this in response to a potentially dirty statement by someone else, but he’s the one who turned it into a ubiquitous, irritating art.
“Let’s hug it out, bitch.” – Ari Gold, “Entourage”
“Entourage’s” Hollywood super-agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) approaches everything aggressively, including resolving arguments. When he wants to put a dispute to bed, he asks for a hug, but in a manly way.
“I kill me.” – Alf, “Alf”
Even if the Tanner family wasn’t inclined to laugh at Alf’s jokes, the alien life form himself was always amused by his own humor, and would never hesitate to say so.
“Are we having fun yet?” – Henry Pollard, “Party Down”
This catchphrase was only something former actor Henry Pollard (Adam Scott) said under duress, repeating the popular slogan he once uttered on a beer commercial.
“No touching.” – Prison guard, “Arrested Development”
Although this phrase started as an admonition from a prison guard to prisoner George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor) not to touch his visiting family members, it eventually spread to other uses throughout.