The television was a revolution in technology that changed practically everything about the world. News became more real as did entertainment. No longer were people forced to leave their home to be entertained by actors. What started with just a few channels and programs, quickly turned into many. Today, thousands of channels yield more programming that any individual could possibly digest. For better or for worse, television has become standard in virtually every home in the developed world. Over the years, some lines have been uttered on television that will never be forgotten. In many cases, those lines actually changed perceptions and sometimes realities.
Some of these quotes were said by trusted news anchors, but others were lines said on sitcoms, dramas or other fictional programs. Even in the world of reality television programs that seem to dominate the airwaves today, some lines have been said that are just game changing. So often, it is who says the quote that makes all the difference in the world. Whether an actor, a journalist, a politician or perhaps just a regular citizen, with an audience of millions, important words can make all the difference. Television has provided an outlet for change time and time again. While not always a good change, the following quotes have definitely changed the world.
15 The Walking Dead
Among the most watched dramas in television history is AMC’s The Walking Dead. Fans of the show are loyal, committed and plentiful. One of the most talked about episodes was the episode titled “The Grove.” In this episode, Carol realizes that the little girl who’s name is Lizzie is a danger not only to herself, but to all those around her in the post-apocalyptic world of zombies and worse.
When Carol takes Lizzie outside, she utters these famous words: “Just look at the flowers Lizzie.” No spoilers here, but the words associated had a direct impact upon fans for a very long time. It single-handedly helped those watching think carefully about how important community and the protection of that community is in a world like that. Indeed, this quote will forever be remembered by so many forever.
Seinfeld gave us a great many quotes that have stood the test of time. In fact, this won’t be the only one on the list. But changing the world is a pretty tall order. On the Seinfeld episode titled “The Outing,” Jerry has to continuously defend his heterosexuality to a graduate student at NYU who is writing an article about him. She continues to believe that Jerry and George are homosexual lovers. Throughout the episode, they continue making statements about how they are not in fact homosexual, but always follow-up with “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
This was at a time when homosexuality wasn’t a major topic addressed on television. Seinfeld was able to take a controversial topic and add a comedic twist. The show essentially makes the statement that you are who you are, whether gay or straight. Thanks to the show, people found a very funny way to make an important social statement. Way to go Jerry... how could anyone not like him?
13 Neil Armstrong
NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, is famous the world over as the first person to step onto the surface of the moon. On July 20, 1969, as he was coming out of the lunar module, Armstrong was famously watched by about a half a billion people on television. Every breath watching was in awe as Armstrong uttered words that changed the way we view outer space and exploration alike: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
NASA did have a few unmanned missions to the moon, participated in a multi-country effort to construct and staff the International Space Station, construct the Hubble Space Telescope and send probes to the furthest reaches of our solar system and beyond, all in an effort to take those next steps for all of mankind.
For ten years, Friends was one of the top sitcoms on television. As part of the famous Thursday night NBC lineup, millions of people settled-in to watch the group hang at Central Perk. Of all the great quotes, Joey’s line of: “How you doin’?” has most definitely stood the test of time. “How you doin’” has become the one thing you can say to someone you’re attracted to, when you have nothing else to say!
In a sense, Joey has provided a bonding opportunity, pick-up line and conversation piece all in three little words. Of course, saying it as close to the way Joey would say it is also very necessary. The words sort of flow together with a hint of a New York accent included. I wonder how many people wound-up getting together as a result of this initial greeting?
11 Star Trek
In the entire Star Trek universe, encompassing virtually all the movies and spin-off series, one quote has surpassed all others: “Live long and prosper.” The origins of the phrase (and even the Vulcan hand gesture that accompanies the quote) are actually based upon an Orthodox Jewish blessing. Today, this phrase lives on and is known by fans, and those that wish they didn’t know what it means. Certainly not everyone enjoys Star Trek, but virtually everyone knows this quote and can connect it to the series.
“Live long and prosper” is a simplistic and beautiful way to address another person. It is a wonderful sign of respect and perhaps the best way to wish people the very best. For Star Trek fans, there’s no better way to make an instant connection with someone than by sharing this quote.
10 Walter Cronkite, CBS News
Walter Cronkite is the king of all anchormen. He is a shining example of how journalism should be and is still seen as an influence to this day. But on February 27, 1968, he made a statement on the air that changed the world. The address was longer, but the final words capture his criticism of the war itself: “But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”
Because Walter Cronkite was a beacon of trust in news reporting across the United States, hearing these words helped reshape public opinion on the Vietnam War. The war raged on after this, but more and more people began to voice their own concerns as well. Thanks to the bravery of Uncle Walter.
9 Seinfeld’s Festivus
Back on the list is more from the hit sitcom Seinfeld. Few shows can claim that they are responsible for an actual holiday! In the show “The Strike” George is forced to relive the horrors of his childhood in celebrating Festivus, a holiday invented by Frank Costanza that is celebrated on December 23rd. In reality, Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe was actually inspired to include this, as it was his father that originally invented the concept of the holiday.
The phrase: “It’s a Festivus miracle!” has actually become a common utterance as a way to describe something that is perhaps unexpected or coincidental, but certainly not miraculous. Books describing the holiday and countless references to it during the Christmas season have been a result of the show.
8 Sheldon On The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory has been a CBS smash hit since 2007. Early on in the series, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, portrayed by actor Jim Parsons establishes himself as the egotistical, quirky genius that doesn’t quite understand most social conventions. But quickly, one nonsensical word would make its way into the world, used by millions to indicate sarcasm: “Bazinga!”
Cooper uses the word “Bazinga” to indicate that he is being sarcastic. Later in the show, the word is used more frequently because of its surge in popularity. Indeed, the word has become so incredibly popular that it is trademarked and has been put on apparel. The world has made its way into general vocabulary and is recognized just about anywhere you go nowadays.
7 Rodney King
In 1992, alleged police mistreatment of African Americans was a hot issue, much as it is today. When Rodney King was beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers and the officers were acquitted in court, riots occurred in South Central Los Angeles over the course of six days. During this time, when questioned about the riots, Rodney King himself was quoted in the midst of the riots as saying: “Can we all get along?”
This statement from a man that had been brutally beaten by police has been seen by many as a plea for equal justice and fair treatment. Over the years, the phrase has been used satirically, but at the time, it sent shockwaves. Those hearing these words sympathize with the desire for violence to come to an end in general. In fact, it seemed to be a plea for peace in general, even beyond the riots. Regardless of what exactly he meant, the phrase has lived on in infamy.
6 Kennedy Assassination
Millions of Americans remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed on November 22, 1963. It was a moment that shocked the entire world and is still remembered as a grave day in our nation’s history. Walter Cronkite’s famous quote sent chills across the country as he said: “We just have a report from our correspondent Dan Rather in Dallas that he has confirmed that President Kennedy is dead.”
The assassination of Kennedy was mourned deeply by all Americans. It was a day that party politics was set aside and people of all walks of life came together to pay deep respect to the entire Kennedy family. These heavy words spoken by Cronkite sent our country into a new chapter of leadership in an instant.
5 Bill Clinton
Former President of the United States Bill Clinton, had a little problem that wouldn’t go away. The allegations that he had a sexual relationship with White House Intern Monica Lewinsky was dominating the news. On January 26, 1998, President Clinton told the nation emphatically: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” This statement heard the world over led to even more investigation and even more trouble for Clinton.
As a result of continued investigation, President Clinton found himself later confirming that he did actually have an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky. He was subsequently impeached by the House of Representatives for lying under oath and even had to forfeit his Arkansas law license. All because of one giant lie heard over and over again on just about every television set in the world.
4 Mr. Rogers
Fred Rogers had his own children’s television program, Mister Rogers Neighborhood for over 30 years. In that time, he always taught children good manners and lessons in being a good friend and having self confidence. Over the years, Fred Rogers had a number of wonderful quotes both on and off of his television show.
But one line that he uttered at the end of every show had a significant impact on generations of people: “You make each day a special day. You know how, by just your being you". These beautiful words instilled self worth and confidence into children at an age where it was most needed. Thank you Mr. Rogers for being there for so many of us over the years. Even today and in your absence, the show continues to be there for many children.
3 President Josiah Bartlet
The television series The West Wing did a great deal to inspire Americans. It provided hope and a renewed patriotism for millions of people. The show took its role to uplift and inspire people very seriously. President Josiah Bartlet, played by actor Martin Sheen provided a large number of inspirational quotes during the run of the show.
Perhaps the most inspirational came at a point when people needed to understand that our elected officials do not only represent members of their party, but of everyone. The quote: “I am the President of the United States. Not the President of the people who agree with me” resonated with so many people in our country. While the message doesn’t always seem to stick, this quote has continued to last and is a refresher of how the United States government is supposed to work.
2 Kennedy’s Moon Speech
On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech, aired on television that has famously become known as the ‘moon speech.’ In this speech, he commits the United States to the daunting task of sending a manned mission to the moon. These words shocked the world and resonated deeply, as there were currently no planned missions or training for such an event. His speech included the following:
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
1 Martin Luther King Jr.
The 1963 March on Washington was a civil rights event in Washington D.C. During the event, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, delivering the most famous speech of his life. His speech has become known as the “I have a dream” speech. These words were spoken multiple times through the speech and followed with the imagery of what an equal and unified country looks like from a social and racial perspective.
This quote has been used to reference the civil rights movement and efforts to improve race relations in the United States for more than 50 years. This speech was in fact televised and watched by millions, along with those in attendance at the March on Washington. But the words live on now as one of the finest speeches in American history.
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