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Ayyy! How Do You Like These 13 Memorable TV Catchphrases?

Steve Carell, Gary Coleman, Leonard Nimoy
NBC Univeral Televisio, Embassy Television, Paramount Television

Ah, the power of words.

TV shows that enjoy long runs and become part of the cultural fabric often have a little something extra to take it from merely popular to transcendent. We’re talking, of course, about a catchphrase. It can be the reason a series takes off or it can provide another little touch that makes viewers respond as it becomes part of the zeitgeist. Whatever it is, a catchphrase often times takes on a life of its own — for better or worse.

With that said, here’s a look at some of the more notable catchphrases that have taken TV by storm over the years.

Family Matters – Steve Urkel – “Did I do that?”

At first endearing, the nerdy Urkel devolved into an annoyance for many, but he’s as much a reason as any Family Matters lasted nine seasons.

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How I Met Your Mother – Barney – “Legendary.”

The cocky and magnetic Barney always wanted to make tonight the best night ever, i.e., “legendary.”

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Friends – Joey – “How you doin’?”

The womanizing Joey knew his way around the opposite sex, thanks in large part to this classic pickup line.

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Good Times – J.J. – “Dy-no-mite!”

This sitcom was supposed to address issues relevant to the African-American community in the ’70s, but Jimmie Walker overshadowed the social problems with this very catchy catchphrase.

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Alice – Flo – “Kiss my grits!”

One of the great TV waitresses, Flo was a Southern belle living in Phoenix who was passionate, fired up and not afraid to speak her mind. When she said these three words, you knew this spitfire was pumped up.

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The Big Bang Theory – Sheldon – “Bazinga!”

A genius who doesn’t understand sarcasm, Sheldon occasionally dips his toes into the world of humor with practical jokes that catch his friends off-guard.

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Happy Days – Fonzie – “Ayyy!”

Henry Winkler was the coolest dude around when playing the Fonz. Sporting a leather jacket, white T-shirt and blue jeans, he oozed, well, cool, especially when he declared, “Ayyyy!”

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Mork & Mindy – Mork – “Nanu Nanu.”

Robin Williams rocketed to stardom playing the alien Mork. Viewers could not get enough of his “nanu nanu” greeting.

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South Park – Stan and Kyle – “Oh my god! They killed Kenny.” “You bastards!”

Here is the rare two-part catchphrase. At the end of every South Park episode through the show’s sixth season, Kenny would bite the big one and Stan would exclaim, “Oh my god! They killed Kenny.” Kyle then chimed in with, “You bastards!” It was quite buzzworthy in the late ’90s and early ’00s.

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Diff’rent Strokes – Arnold – “What’chu talkin’ bout, Willis?”

The pint-sized Arnold would often ask in an exasperated tone this question to his older brother. It became a sensation for the duration of the series’ run and helped Gary Coleman achieve superstardom, while doing wonders for the program’s ratings.

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The Office – Michael Scott – “That’s what she said.”

As the immature boss of Dunder Mifflin with no self-awareness, Steve Carell’s Michael Scott would often use this as a punchline when someone else said something that could be construed as dirty. Admit it: you still do this today.

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Star Trek – Spock – “Live long and prosper.”

Like the Star Trek franchise itself, this Vulcan greeting has enjoyed enduring success.

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The Simpsons – Homer – “D’oh!”

This is what you say when something goes wrong. Homer is the reason you say it. He’s been saying it for 28 years. At this point, it really ought to be in the dictionary.

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The Tonight Show – Ed McMahon – “Here’s Johnny!”

America went to bed shortly after hearing this famous introduction for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. The late Carson walked away from his show in 1993, but this intro had such a lasting impact that people still recognize it today.

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