9 famous TV catchphrases that were never actually said on their shows

By: H&I Staff    Posted: February 27, 2017, 1:50PM

"We're gonna need a bigger boat." "Luke, I am your father." "Play it again, Sam." "Do you feel lucky, punk?" They are all immortal lines from the big screen.

There's just one problem. Those bits of dialogue were never said in Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, Casablanca or Dirty Harry. They are all misquotations, slight variations on what was actually uttered. Nevertheless, the public consciousness has collectively remembered them this way.

Likewise, there are several legendary TV catchphrases that were never uttered. Heck, people assume Rod Serling announced, "Submitted for your approval…" before every Twilight Zone episode, yet he only said that three times. 

Star Trek alone is the source for a few of these. Let's take a look at memorable TV quotes that remain… well, misremembered.


"Beam me up, Scotty."

Star Trek

Yup, Kirk never once said this iconic line on Star Trek: The Original Series. The closest match was, "Beam us up, Mr. Scott," which was uttered once in the episode "The Gamesters of Triskelion." In Star Trek: The Animated Series, they come a little closer with "Beam us up, Scotty." The misheard quote likely stems from a famous Star Trek bumper sticker, which begged, "Beam me up, Scotty, there's no intelligent life on this planet!"


"Damn it, Jim! I'm a doctor…"

Star Trek

Bones McCoy delivered some variation on his "I'm a doctor…" line 15 times on Star Trek. Memory Alpha has a list of all of them. However, as this was the squeaky clean television of the 1960s, the good doctor never cursed with "Damn it, Jim!" However, the recent reboot films have Bones repeatedly grumbling, "Damn it, man!"


“It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.”

Star Trek

Indeed, another illogical Star Trek misquote. All three principle stars had their own. This one is wrongly attributed to Mr. Spock, and even showed up recently in a science headline from The Guardian. There's a funny source to this one, too, as it traces back to the 1987 novelty song "Star Trekkin'"’ by the Firm.


"Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do!"

I Love Lucy

Perhaps the most infamous and viciously debated line on the internet, this oft-quoted and memed Ricky Ricardo line is more of a paraphrase, as he never says this exactly. He said things like, "Lucy, 'splain," or "'Splain that if you can," which evolved into this misquote.


"Bang, zoom… Straight to the moon!"

The Honeymooners

Ralph Kramden does indeed say, "Bang, zoom!" and "To the moon, Alice!" Over times, these separate lines have been combined and misquoted as a mash-up.


"Just the facts, ma'am"


As Sgt. Joe Friday on the 1950s cop series, Jack Webb would spit, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” This was incorrectly shortened over the years by the public, leading to Dan Aykroyd saying, "Just the facts, ma'am," in the 1987 big-screen Dragnet reboot. However, the less said about that movie, the better.


"Goodnight, Gracie"

The Burns and Allen Show

It's a familiar routine, as one comic literally interprets another. George Burns would turn to Gracie Allen at the end of the show and prompt, "Say Goodnight, Gracie." Everyone quotes Allen as responding, "Goodnight, Gracie!" While that is funny, she never said it. She merely signed off, "Goodnight!"

Image: Wikimedia Commons


"Timmy's in the well!"


Fortunately for Timmy, he never once fell down a well. It certainly didn't help that Timmy portrayed Jon Provost titled his memoir Timmy's in the Well: The Jon Provost Story. Even the star got it wrong! Ironically, the only character from Lassie to ever fall down a well was the dog herself, in season 17's "For the Love of Lassie," a.k.a. "Well of Love." 

Image: CBS / Wikimedia Commons


"I pity the fool!"

The A-Team

While Mr. T has shouted his catchphrase countless time, B.A. Baracus never once said it on The A-Team.

Image: Universal Television


Bonus: "Danger, Will Robinson"

Lost in Space

Okay, this one was actually said by the Robot B-9. However, he exclaimed this only once, in the episode "The Deadliest of the Species." Still, it has become the definitive line of the series.