And that’s just the beginning!
Holy moldy baloney!
Don’t mind me, I’m just trying out a few catch phrases for when I eventually get discovered and land my own sitcom. If any of those catch phrases sound dumb, well, it’s probably because catch phrases in general are just a tad stupid.
Giving a character a catch phrase is a cheap way for writers to rely on character humor to make a joke. At best, it’s a ham-fisted attempt to give a character some personality.
Still, some catch phrases manage to defy the odds and actually become, uh, catchy. What separates charming catch phrases from dumb ones? Let’s take a look and see if we can figure it out.
5. “Excellent…” –Mr. Burns
Mr. Burns’ catch phrase gives off a kind of “all is going according to my plan” vibe. I almost feel like he needs to have a moustache so he can deviously twirl it between his fingers every time he gives that line.
This catch phrase succeeds because the message and tone fits the character quite well. You need evil characters (especially cartoon characters) to say something appropriately diabolical so that the audience knows that they’re up to no good. This phrase does that job quite admirably.
4. Beam me up, Scotty – Star Trek
Sometimes you can’t psychoanalyze a catch phrase to figure out what made it so popular, because there just isn’t much to it. “Beam me up, Scotty,” is just a phrase that the characters on Star Trek needed to say basically out of necessity. Because the show had such a huge cult following and they used the phrase so often, it eventually took on a life of its own and became a part of popular culture.
This one in particular is probably one of the most famous catch phrases, so much so that it even spawned a bad rap song.
3. “No soup for you.” – Seinfeld
A lot of catch phrases were probably written with the express intention of becoming a catch phrase, so that you could eventually print it on a T-Shirt and sell them for $14.99 a pop.
Every once in a while, an audience grabs onto an otherwise normal line from a television series and turn it into a catch phrase just because they love it so much. The Soup Nazi’s “No soup for you!” is a perfect example of that.
2. “Hi-yo Silver, away!” The Long Ranger
Some catch phrases insert themselves into the cultural subconscious by virtue of the fact that they just stick in your head, kind of like a song whose name you can’t place or maybe a brain tumor.
“Hi-yo Silver, away!” is one of those lines because of the rhythm and intensity of it all. Even while you’re sitting there at your desk, reading this article, you can’t look over those lines and read them in a normal voice. Your brain automatically defaults to the song-like shout, inevitably drawing out that last word into “awaaayyyyyy!”
I’m not sure how this catch phrase does it, but it just appeals to that part of your brain that makes you tap your foot in sync to Britney Spears songs, even though you know better.
1. “Autobots, transform and roll out!” – Optimus Prime
This catch phrase works on a couple of different levels. First off, Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots, so it’s actually fitting that he would give a deployment order like this. It’s really not all that different from what we’d expect a real military commander to say, except without the cheesy pun.
And despite the fact that the fun is cheesier than the state of Wisconsin, that doesn’t make it any less appealing to 10-year-old boys, who immediately get the connection between the phrase and the literal act of wheels rolling, prompting them to scream at their parents to buy them plastic robot toys.
This is one of the better catch phrases because everything about it fits. It fits with the character, it fits with the theme of the show, and its message applies in virtually every situation. I mean, it’s an action show. You can’t have Optimus Prime saying, “Get ‘em, boys,” or “I’m going to make you wish you were never born!”