Top 20 Most Iconic Catchphrases in TV History

For around 60 years we’ve been glued to the television set to watch the endless array of programs being produced. Many aspects of tv viewing have changed over this time. Black and white gave way to co

For around 60 years we’ve been glued to the television set to watch the endless array of programs being produced. Many aspects of tv viewing have changed over this time. Black and white gave way to color broadcasts, television screens slowly got larger, antenna use and over the air broadcasts gave way to cable and satellite and cathode ray tube televisions gave way to a new range of big screen high-definition tvs, including plasma and lcd. Picture quality has improved dramatically over this period even if, as some of you probably feel, the content available has not. Nonetheless, from the black and white era of the 1950s to the emergence of 4K tv, the one thing that is for certain is that the majority of us maintain a love affair with television.

Everybody has different tastes when it comes to tv programming. You may prefer the shows from CBS’s ‘golden era’ during the 1990s or perhaps the more early black and white sitcoms of the 1950s. Perhaps you enjoy a good animated series or tend to lean towards sci-fi with all its aliens and pointy-eared First officers. Whatever specific content you like, there’s a lot of it. Yet, what makes these shows so memorable? What’s the one thing that consistently stands out and sticks with us over the years from all of these shows? Is it the good writing and excellent acting? Probably not, as a lot of memorable shows didn’t (or don’t) necessarily have these things. Instead, popular and culturally significant shows tend to stand out thanks to memorable catchphrases. While the catchphrase didn’t necessarily make the show popular or successful, it’s what comes to mind for most of us when we think of a certain television program.

The following looks at 20 of the most popular television catchphrases from across the past several decades. Sit-coms, sci-fi, animated and action – there are a wide variety of shows with memorable catchphrases that have become ingrained into our culture and daily lives. In fact, most of the shows listed below are known for having more than one memorable phrase. Of course, having room for only 20 catchphrases means that a few notable examples will have to be left out. I asked for more room but you know how it is – you send your boss an e-mail asking for more space, he says “I got some ‘splaining to do,” and yadda, yadda, yadda, I’m left with room for just 20 catchphrases.

20 Mork and Mindy

Catchphrase: “Na-nu Na-nu”

19 Arrested Development

Catchphrase: “I’ve made a huge mistake”

18 Family Guy

Catchphrase: “Giggity Giggity”

17 Cheers

Catchphrase: “Norm!”

16 The A-Team

Catchphrase: “I love it when a plan comes together”

15 The Brady Bunch

Catchphrase: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”

14 South Park

Catchphrase: “Oh my god, they killed Kenny”

13 Family Matters

Catchphrase: “Did I do that?”

12 The Flintstones

Catchphrase: “Yabba Dabba Doo”

11 The Big Bang Theory

Catchphrase: “Bazinga!”

10 Diff’rent Strokes

Catchphrase: “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”

9 Top Gear

Catchphrase: “… in the World”

8 Happy Days

Catchphrase: “Aay!”

7 The Office (US version)

Catchphrase: “That’s what she said”

6 Star Trek

Catchphrase: “Live long and prosper”

5 How I Met Your Mother

Catchphrase: “It’s gonna be legendary”

4 Friends

Catchphrase: “How you doin’?”

3 I Love Lucy


Catchphrase: “Lucy, I’m home”

2 Seinfeld

Catchphrase: “Newman!”

1 The Simpsons

Catchphrase: “D’oh”

This animated series has been on the air since 1989, amassing well over 550 episodes during 26 seasons. From Bart and Lisa to Ned Flanders and Ralph Wiggum, the show has brought us an army of characters each with their own distinct personality and familiar catchphrases. Like Seinfeld, there are many catchphrases this show is known for and fans no doubt have their favorites. Twenty years ago, The Simpsons would be known best for Bart’s famous line – “don’t have a cow, man.” Since then, the show has evolved and Homer has become a fan favorite thanks to his often hilarious methods of dealing with life. Whenever he has messed up a situation, been hurt or realized something bad is about to happen, you can be guaranteed to hear the distinct ‘d’oh.’ The catchphrase has become so universally well known that it appears in the Oxford English Dictionary and 20th Century Fox have even trademarked the phrase.

… dary.


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Top 20 Most Iconic Catchphrases in TV History