Beam Me Up, Scotty

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"I never really said most of the things I said."
attributed to Yogi Berra[1]

Lines that people associate with something or someone by way of Popcultural Osmosis, despite the fact that they were never uttered by them, or only rarely were. Usually a misquotation or a slight paraphrase of something that actually was said or done, or a combination of several common or famous lines. The misquote provides context necessary to recognize or appreciate the reference, as in "Luke, I Am Your Father", or fills in parts of the sentence that are orphaned from the interesting bit, as in "Hell [has no] fury like a woman scorned". Sometimes the trailer shortened the quote to save time, and its version became better known. This is all well and good, but we here at All The Tropes think people should at least know what the line they're paraphrasing is meant to be.

The Trope Namer is "Beam me up, Scotty", never actually uttered in Star Trek: The Original Series. More often, Kirk said something along the lines of "Four to beam up," and he was talking to whoever happened to be at the Transporter console (hardly ever Scotty, him being the chief engineer and all). One of the films got pretty close, but even then, it was phrased "Scotty, beam me up" or "Beam me up, Mr. Scott."

Subtrope of Common Knowledge. See also Dead Unicorn Trope, Media Research Failure, Mondegreen, God Never Said That. If the misassociated line is eventually co-opted into the source as a sort of Shout-Out to the confusion, it becomes an Ascended Meme. If the line is correct but lack of context changes the meaning, or if the line is chopped up to change its meaning, it is a Quote Mine. If the quote becomes the only thing associated with a person, it's a case of Never Live It Down. This trope can be extended to Iconic Items the character never actually had, such as Holmes' deerstalker. For tropes actually about beaming characters up, see Teleporters and Transporters.

Examples of Beam Me Up, Scotty include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Ricardo Montalban's famous commercials for Chrysler feature him praising the "soft Corinthian leather" of the seats, not "rich" or "fine."
  • While it's certainly the message he wanted to convey, Yul Brynner did not say the exact phrase "I'm dead. Don't smoke," in his posthumous anti-smoking ad.
  • Meta-example: an ad for a cable company shows a movie-loving family communicating entirely in movie quotes. They must be phonies though, because most of the quotes are Beam Me Up Scotties. Or it was just to avoid copyright issues.
  • It's a crude example, but the commercial never said "I'm Mr. Bucket. Put your balls in my mouth." It did come very close a few times, though.

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • The Suzumiya Haruhi character Tsuruya-san never says "nyoro~n". She says "nyoro", and not even very often. Her Memetic Mutation Web Comic alternate self, Churuya, says "nyoro~n" at the end of every strip. Churuya and Tsuruya even met in the Churuya comic, saying their exact Catch Phrases, and people continue to attribute one to the other.
    • It probably doesn't help that she arguably does pronounce it as "nyoro~n" sometimes in her rendition of Hare Hare Yukai.
    • The slider part is often omitted from Haruhi's introduction in the first episode.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
    • Throughout the series, the cry of a vampire is usually spelled "Ureeeeeyyyy!" or "Reeeeeee!" It's almost never spelled "Wryyyyyy!", but Memetic Mutation has made this the most common spelling. Additionally that one flash video and MUGEN have made many people attribute the cry to Dio's "Road Roller" super attack from the Capcom fighting game. The sound bite is actually from Shadow Dio's "Charisma!" super.
    • Dio's memetic Combos is often thought to be Barehanded Blade Block -> MUDADA -> ZA WARUDO -> Flechette Storm -> ROADROLLADA -> WRYYY. However, this really owes itself to the fan-made flash animation, not either the manga or the game.
    • Also related to Dio is the well-known lines "TIME STOPS" which is often romanized as "Toki wo Tomare." In actuality the line is "Toki yo Tomare" (時よ止まれ). The object particle "wo" is actually incorrect to use.
  • Mazinger Z: In the Spanish dub, Kouji's infamous Rocket Punch line was translated as "¡Puños Fuera|" ("Fists Out!") instead of "Puño Cohete", and Sayaka's Oppai Missile attack was traslated like "¡Fuego de Pecho!" ("Breast Fire!"). However, a huge chuck of the Spanish-speaking fandom is downright convinced she said "¡Pechos Fuera!" ("Breasts Out!").
  • Pokémon's Ash never said "Aim for the horn!", he actually said "Pikachu! The horn!"
  • Naruto:
    • Tobi did not himself say "Tobi is a good boy", that was something Zetsu (well, part of him) said about Tobi. To himself. It's complicated. It probably comes from Web cartoon Fun With Akatsuki, which is on YouTube. Tobi says that a lot there, and it's been on for a few years.
    • Sasuke is commonly attributed with telling Sakura: "You're weak/useless." But actually he never said that. The closest comes when she asks him if they can go work on their teamwork, "just the two of us." And he responds with, "I swear, you're just as bad as Naruto. Instead of flirting, why don't you practice your jutsu and make the team stronger? Let's face it, you're actually worse than Naruto." He compliments her two chapters later to cheer her up. Also, while Sasuke does actually call Sakura annoying, it's usually taken widely out of context. The first time is right after she'd been talking bad about Naruto and Sasuke sticks up for him after she blames Naruto's attitude on his lack of parents. The second is when he is trying to leave the village, right after telling her he didn't remember that conversation, clearly proving he did remember it. Also he is always calling a Naruto a dobe (dead-last) like if it was his name also Naruto calls him "-teme" (a forceful way of saying you the equivalent of saying You BASTARD!)
    • Tsunade and Jiraiya are always stated to call Naruto a Gaki/Brat. As well as the villagers calling him a Demon/Demon Brat/Fox Brat.
    • Kyuubi has always been pegged with the saying "That if Naruto dies he does." it was actually Naruto who said this.
  • Shirou from Fate/stay night is notably popular for the quote, "People die if they are killed.", which was an overly-literal (and out-of-context) line from a fansub. The full line was "People die when they're killed. That's the way it should be." In context, he was saying how he didn't want the immortality that Avalon granted him. but fans ran with it and that line became memetically popular.
  • In the dub of Princess Mononoke, Eboshi says, "Now watch closely, everyone. I'm going to show you how to kill a god." This has been misquoted as, "Now I will show you how to kill a god."
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • Contrary to what Fanon says, the infamous "vital regions" memetic line was never used by either Prussia or Russia. Austria (in the "Maria Theresa" series) said Prussia had done it. Spain also used it (in Spain's Lazy Morning") and Lithuania (in Checkmating Poland).
    • Japan never said "Please leave, you second rate perverts." What he actually said was "Leave the 2-D to me," but the scanlators didn't understand the sentence.
    • Russia never referred to himself as Mother Russia. Hint: himself.
    • And Prussia's famous "five meters"? 100% pure Fanon.
    • There has never been a moment in the whole series when America has called England 'Iggy'.
  • In Super Robot Wars and other games that feature Gundam Wing, a common attack for Heero to use in Wing Zero is to hold out both sides of the Twin Buster Rifle and spin the mech around while firing them, creating a wide circle of destruction. Heero never actually did that move in the series or movie: It was done by Quatre, after he first built Wing Zero and went crazy.
Similarly, Domon Kasshu's God Slash Typhoon, a move where he spins around like a tornado while holding his twin beam swords, is always used as an offensive attack in Super Robot Wars when in the series it was merely a defensive technique to ward off George's Rose Bits. The God Gundam would otherwise barely have attack moves before going Super Mode, so it can be forgiven.
  • The original Mobile Suit Gundam:
    • During the infamous Bright Slap scene, Amuro did say "Not even my father hit me!" But most people would think that the full quote is "You hit me! Not even my father hit me!" even if what Amuro said was (after the SECOND slap from Bright), "That's twice...! Not even my father hit me!"
    • Also in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, when Graham declared his love with Gundam, he didn't say the memetically popular "GUNDAM, I LOVE YOU!!!", but "This feeling... there's no mistaking it... it must be love!!". But since the first one explicitly declared just WHAT Graham is in love with, it became more popular and oft-used.
  • King Dedede in Kirby: Right Back At Ya! spawned a meme with his inexplicably heavy Southern accent, coming from the phrase "I need a monstah to clobbah dat dere Kirbeh," from the intro, and also the memetic joke spelling "Kirbeh" of the title character. However, in the intro, and most of the time in the show, Dedede actually pronounces "Kirby" correctly, though the person singing the theme song pronounces it "Kirbeh" once or twice.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The oft-quoted Spider-Man line "With great power comes great responsibility" is often attributed to Peter Parker's Uncle Ben, but the first appearance of the line was in fact just in a closing caption to the first story in Amazing Fantasy, not said by any actual character. And even then, it was actually phrased "With great power there must also come great responsibility". In later retcons of Spider-Man's origin and in retellings such as that of the movie, the line is shortened and attributed to Uncle Ben, so while that is what is now in-continuity, the line was not originally his.
    • The Spectacular Spider-Man Animated Adaptation plays with this: a flashback shows Uncle Ben delivering the original line, but Peter then says the shortened version later when he decided to spare Ben's killer.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man played with it even more. Let's just say it was a good thing that Peter decided to shorten this one:

Uncle Ben You know your father, God rest his soul... Your father had a philosophy the he held to pretty strongly. And it's one that served him very, very well... He believed that if there were things in this world that you had to offer, things that you did well -- better than anyone else... things that you could do that helped people feel better about themselves... well, he believed that it wasn't just a good idea to do those things... he believed it was your responsibility to do those things. Don't try to be something else. Don't try to be less. Great things are going to happen to you and your life Peter. Great things. And with that will come great responsibility. Do you understand?

  • One of Rorschach's most popular and repeated lines "Possible homosexual? Must investigate further.", in reference to Adrian Veidt, actually reads as "Possibly homosexual? Must remember to investigate further." This is likely because the former seems to fit in more with his Beige Prose speaking pattern.
    • In-universe example: Dr. Milton Glass, a scientist who was present when Dr. Manhattan gained his powers, is quoted by the media as saying "The superman exists, and he's American". Dr. Glass' actual statement was "God exists, and he's American", and the sentiment behind it was more along the lines of awe and terror than the celebratory tone in which it is usually (mis)quoted. It is implied that the statement was deliberately misquoted to make it less alarming/potentially offensive.


Films[edit | hide]

  • In the trailer of Three Hundred, the quote "Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty, for tonight, we dine IN HELL!" is abridged to the often-quoted, "Spartans! Tonight, we dine IN HELL!"
    • The shortened version was the way the line appeared in the trailer, which people likely saw much more frequently than the movie.
  • Rorschach lines from the opening monologue of Watchmen is often misquoted (thanks to the trailer) as "...and the world will look up and shout 'Save us!'... and I'll whisper 'no.'" The line in the actual film is: "All the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'Save us!' and I'll whisper 'No.'", but it was slightly censored for the trailer. The original line is slightly different: "[A]nd I'll look down and whisper 'No.'"
  • Jack Nicholson's memorable line from A Few Good Men is frequently misquoted in parodies as "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth." The dialogue between Nicholson and Tom Cruise actually goes, "You want answers?" "I want the truth!" "You can't handle the truth!"
  • Taxi Driver: the monologue is "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talking... you talking to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you're talking to? Oh yeah? OK." People often get it wrong.
  • ... And Justice for All: Pacino doesn't say "I'm out of order? You're out of order! This whole court is out of order!"; it's "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!"
  • "Play it again, Sam", (not) from Casablanca. The actual quote is:

Rick: You know what I want to hear.
Sam: [lying] No, I don't.
Rick: You played it for her, you can play it for me!
Sam: [lying] Well, I don't think I can remember...
Rick: If she can stand it, I can! Play it!
Earlier in the film, Ilsa (Rick's love interest) also entreats him to "Play it, Sam." The more famous variant actually comes from a a Woodie Allen movie entitled "Play it Again, Sam"

Darth Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
Darth Vader: No -- I am your father.

  • In the NPR radio dramatization, however, Vader does indeed say "No, Luke, I am your father."
  • The manner in which Vader says the line and the emphasis on words is usually done wrong in parodies and spoofs. Vader puts emphasis on "I", not "am." He also says the line in a quiet, chilling manner, not the loud and dramatic fashion usually seen in imitations. Also, Luke's Big No comes before he falls down the shaft.
  • Likewise, Obi-Wan Kenobi never says "May the Force be with you" to Luke (except in the trailer). Obi-Wan's line is, "The Force will be with you, always." A bunch of other characters do say "May the Force be with you," though. The first person to actually say "May the Force be with you" is General Dodonna after the briefing on Yavin 4, and the character it's usually next most attributed to is Han Solo (who did say it to Luke in Empire).
  • The first title card always reads "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...." "Long, long ago" is seen in the inside cover of a few novels, but never in the films.
  • Yoda never did say "There is no try, only do." The actual line is "Do or do not. There is no try."
  • 42nd Street: "But you keep your feet on the ground and your head on those shoulders of yours and go out, and, Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star! is misquoted in many ways, e.g. "You're going out (there) a youngster, but you're coming back a star!", "You're going out (on that stage) a nobody, (kid), but you're coming back a star!", or "You're going out a chorus girl, but you're coming back a star!"
    • In the stage version, though, it's "You're going out there a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!", so that technically is a correct quote...
  • It's sometimes claimed that in Bride of the Monster, Bela Lugosi said his manservant Lobo (Tor Johnson) was "as harmless as kitchen" [sic] as a sign of his diminished faculties and/or Wood's incompetent direction. But actually, he says the line fine: "Don't be afraid of Lobo; he's as gentle as a kitten."
  • Quite possibly, the most famous line from Waterworld is, "Dry land is not a myth, I've seen it!" And yet, the line is never heard anywhere, in any form in the entire movie.
    • It is, however, present in the Universal Studios water show based on the movie, which has been seen by many more people.
  • Bram Stoker's original Dracula never said the line "I vont to suck your blood!", or anything like it. He was much too sophisticated, and had an English accent. It wasn't until Bela Lugosi played Dracula that the accent became forever rooted in our memory, but even then, the line is not spoken.
  • Knute Rockne: All-American: Knute Rockne says "And the last thing he said to me, 'Rock,' he said, 'sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper." Often quoted as "Win one for the Gipper," or "Win this one for the Gipper."
  • Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935): it's "We have ways of making men talk," not "We Have Ways of Making You Talk." However, the latter has become a Stock Phrase, and relatively few people have heard of the movie.
  • Tarzan never said "Me, Tarzan. You, Jane." Johnny Weissmueller, star of a series of Tarzan movies, gave the phrase in an interview as an indication of the kind of dialogue he was being given, but even he didn't say that exact phrase in any of the movies. This was probably paraphrased from a scene from the 1932 Tarzan, the Ape Man:

Jane: (pointing to herself) Jane.
Tarzan: (he points at her) Jane.
Jane: And you? (she points at him) You?
Tarzan: (stabbing himself proudly in the chest) Tarzan, Tarzan.
Jane: (emphasizing his correct response) Tarzan.
Tarzan: (poking back and forth each time) Jane. Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan?

  • The oft-quoted scene from Crocodile Dundee or rather, oft-misquoted: "That's not a knife. This is a knife" actually goes:

Sue: "He's got a knife!"
Crocodile Dundee: (Laughs) "That's not a knife." (Draws large bowie knife) "That's a knife."

  • The line "My God, it's full of stars" is never said or sort-of said in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The closest the movie gets to this line is in a moment toward the end when a starfield bursts onto the screen, but not a single word is spoken during this light show (or after it, for that matter). The line does appear in Arthur C. Clarke's novel (part of the same project), and the film version of 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
    • In addition, the very famous and oft-quoted line "I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Dave" never appears in 2001. Rather HAL says "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that" and later says "I'm afraid, Dave" when being disconnected. And before that, he does say "I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen."
      • A commercial for jewelry store Jared does get it right when a man's female-voiced GPS receiver acts like HAL when she detects jewelry in the car.
    • And as if there weren't enough misquotations, the line, "Good morning Dave" is never uttered. "Good evening Dave" and "Good afternoon gentlemen" on the other hand are.
  • John Wayne did not say, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" in Hondo. It's actually, "A man oughta do what he thinks is best".
    • There is a line much closer to this from a classic Western, though not one with John Wayne: Alan Ladd says "A man's gotta be what a man's gotta be" in Shane.
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre never featured the line "We don't need no stinking badges!" The actual lines are:

Bandit: We are federales. You know, the mounted police.
Dobbs: If you're the police, where are your badges?
Bandit: Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!

  • That said, if someone says, "We don't need no stinking badges!" they are quoting a movie: Blazing Saddles.
  • Another one -- Bogart never says "Can you help a fellow American who's down on his luck?" That's from the Bugs Bunny cartoon short 8 Ball Bunny. The actual line is: "Say, mister, care to stake a fellow American to a meal?"
  • In no film did James Cagney ever say "You dirty rat!" This is a misquote of a line from the 1931 film Blonde Crazy, where he refers to another character as "that dirty double-crossing rat".
  • Nor did Cary Grant ever say "Judy, Judy, Judy". Apparently, comedian Larry Storch was doing a Cary Grant impersonation in a nightclub when Judy Garland walked in. He greeted her from the stage in character and it somehow became part of the Grant mystique, mystifying even Cary, himself.
    • It may have come from Cary Grant's film Only Angels Have Wings where Rita Hayworth's character is named Judy. Grant never repeats it in a row as in the quote but he says it a lot.
    • In an acceptance speech for the American Film Institute's lifetime achievement award, Cagney ribbed impressionist Frank Gorshin (and poked fun at the often misattributed line) by saying "And, Frank, I never said 'Mmm, you dirty rat.' What I really said was 'Judy, Judy, Judy!'"
  • Tony Curtis never said "Yonda liez da castle of me faddah". In Son of Ali Baba, he said "Yonder lies the valley of the sun and beyond, the castle of my father."
  • Mae West never said "Come up and see me sometime." The actual line, from the 1933 film She Done Him Wrong, is "Why don't you come up some time, see me?" which mostly just moves words around but really changes the emphasis.
    • Mae West didn't say "Is that a gun in your pocket Or Are You Just Happy to See Me??" in any film. It's sometimes said to be in She Done Him Wrong, but actually she said it in Real Life to a policeman who was escorting her.
    • West did say this in a movie, but not until 1978, when she was 85 years old. She asks "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" in the movie Sextette. You can see it here, with the line around 9:15.
  • It's often said (rather inaccurately) that "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels." The original quote is from a 1982 Frank and Ernest cartoon:

Sure he was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards... and in high heels.

  • Smith's monologue in The Matrix is often misquoted: "Human beings are a virus," or "Human beings are a disease, and we are the cure." Agent Smith's speech patterns make it easy to misquote.

I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I found that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move into an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural existing resource is consumed, and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

  • May account for some confusion that at least one of the trailers cut this speech down to "Human beings are a disease ... and we are the cure."
  • While not a line of dialogue, the iconic Bullet Time sequence with Neo dodging the bullets actually has the bullets graze and hurt him - nearly every parody of this scene has the character elegantly avoid harm, unless the joke is that they get harmed regardless.
  • Clint Eastwood didn't say "Do you feel lucky, punk?" in Dirty Harry. He said, "You'd better ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do you, punk?"
    • And he says it two distinctly different ways, one at the very beginning of the movie, and then again at the very end. The first time, he says it so the gunman will think he has more ammo and will drop his weapon (he's out of bullets). The second time, he states it so the Ax Crazy villain will try him (he has another bullet left).
    • The line can be heard at the start of Magnum Force.
    • Eastwood did in fact say "Go ahead, make my day!", but that line was uttered in the third sequel, Sudden Impact, and not the original Dirty Harry film, as most believe.
  • The line from White Heat is not "Top of the world, Ma!"; it's "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" Lex Luthor misquotes it in the 1st season finale of Lois and Clark, and The Simpsons has done it a few times.
  • Clerks has Randal quoting Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with "No time for love, Doctor Jones!". But Short Round's actual line was "Hey, Dr. Jones, no time for love."
  • The Maltese Falcon: Bogie says "The stuff that dreams are made of" at the end, not "It's the stuff that dreams are made of".
    • This in turn is a variant of "... such stuff / As dreams are made on," from Shakespeare's The Tempest.
  • Classic Western The Virginian: Gary Cooper's taunting line was not, "Smile when you call me that!" or "When ya call me that, smile!" but "If you wanna call me that, smile." Easy to get confused, because in the original novel, he says "When you call me that -- smile!"
  • An inversion: sometimes Greta Garbo's quote "I want to be alone" is said to have never been said, or to have only been used in an interview. But it actually does appear in one of her movies: Grand Hotel.
    • Ginger Rogers, of all people, says "I want to be alone!" on a train with a thick Swedish accent in the film The Major and the Minor. So apparently Billy Wilder heard Greta wrong too.
  • Alfred Hitchcock is supposed to have said, "Actors are cattle." However, as he himself put it, "What I said was that all actors should be treated like cattle." He corrected himself after Carole Lombard, hearing him make the comment on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, set up an actual stable in the middle of the shooting set and put cattle in it with signs around the necks of the animals with the actors names on them.
  • In Batman and Robin, Mr. Freeze utters dozens of ice- and snow-related puns. "Ice to meet you" is not one of them. The line "Ice to see you" was previously used by McBain in a spoof of Arnold Schwarzenegger's action films in The Simpsons. And that line never appeared in the movie itself or the trailer.
  • The Joker as portrayed by Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight is often mis-quoted as asking "Do I look like a man with a plan?", when Harvey Dent says that his (Harvey's) disfigurement and the death of Rachel Dawes was part of his (the Joker's) plan, most likely because people associate the rhyming words "man" and "plan". The quote is, however: "Do I really look like a guy with a plan?"
  • In the 1989 Batman movie, Batman does this in the movie: when Jack Napier kills his parents at the beginning, he asks young Bruce Wayne if he's ever danced with the devil BY the pale moonlight. Later on when Batman confronts Joker (Napier), he asks him if he's ever danced with the devil IN the pale moonlight. Even IMDb misses this one for some reason, but "by" and "in" are interchanged in the otherwise identical statements.
  • "Come with me to the Casbah [...] we'll make beautiful music together" is not from the film Algiers (1938), but from a Yosemite Sam/Pepe LePew cartoon.
    • No-one in Algiers utters the "Come with me" line, though Hedy Lamarr's Gaby does ask Charles Boyer's Pepe le Moko, "Can't you leave the Casbah?" The "beautiful music" part doesn't even come from the same movie, but from 1936's The General Died At Dawn, in which Gary Cooper says to Madeline Carroll, "We could make beautiful music together."
  • Not a quote, but the image of Macaulay Culkin with his hands to his cheeks, screaming, isn't because he has realized he has been left Home Alone, but because he has stung himself with aftershave. The false image comes from a trailer where the commentary mentions his being left home... alone, and then the hand-on-face scream bit.
    • It doesn't help that the posters for the movie have him front and center, doing the hand-on-face scream (and wearing a sweater as opposed to a bath towel) with Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern grinning in a menacing fashion behind him.
  • Jules Winnfield's famous hamburger speech from Pulp Fiction is often misquoted (by putting words or phrases in the wrong order) or quoted correctly but used in the wrong context:

Jules: "What country you from?!"
Brett: W-what?
Jules: 'What' ain't no country I ever heard of! They speak English in 'what'?
Brett: ...what?
Jules: ENGLISH, MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?!

  • The last line is often misquoted as "English, do you speak it, motherfucker?" Regarding context, Jules is sarcastically demanding that Brett give him a clearer answer than "what," but the line is often used in real life against people who are literally not speaking English well or at all.
  • Jules has his own Beam Me Up Scotty with the Bible. The entire verse of Ezekiel 25:17 goes, from start to finish, "I will execute great vengeance upon them with wrathful chastisements. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I lay my vengeance upon them." (RSV)
  • While this is indeed an example of this trope, it's not because the passage doesn't match up to the Bible, but because it doesn't match up to the introduction to Sonny Chiba's The Bodyguard, from which this passage (as well as its attribution as Ezekiel 25:17) is lifted almost exactly. The use in The Bodyguard would be a misquote of the Bible.
  • This all depends on what translation of the Bible you are using, of course. The quote from The Bodyguard is almost identical to the verse in the King James Version: [1]
  • In an example that's made its way into a trope name, I Just Shot Marvin in the Face is actually "Aw man... I shot Marvin in the face..." with no "just"
  • In Jaws, the line is "You're gonna need a bigger boat.", not "We're gonna need a bigger boat." The fact that Brody (the speaker) is on the boat as well undoubtedly contributes to the confusion.
  • No James Bond villain has ever said: "Good evening, Mr. Bond. We've been expecting you." Bits of it, yes, and sometimes they were said by other people, but never the entire quote. For example, one of Dr. No's henchmen shouts "We've been expecting you!" Blofeld says "We've been expecting you" in Diamonds Are Forever, and a minute later says "Good evening, Mr. Bond."
    • Bond doesn't actually say "The name's Bond, James Bond" that often either ("Bond James Bond" however is in practically every film) and orders vodka martinis rarely too.
      • Although, in some films, he does say "My name is Bond, James Bond"—for example, at the start of Diamonds, while he's questioning a couple of people about the whereabouts of his wife's murderer.
  • Zulu: the line isn't "Zulus. Thousands of 'em.", but "The sentries report Zulus to the south west. Thousands of them." Also, Michael Caine (Lt. Bromhead) doesn't say it; it's Color Sergeant Bourne, played by Nigel Greene.
  • Scarlett O'Hara says "Tomorrow is another day", not "Tomorrow's another day" at the end of Gone with the Wind.
    • Rhett Butler's memorable final line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," is sometimes misquoted as "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn." The misquotation has appeared in several places where the line was used comically, including Clue and an episode of Mama's Family.
    • Used to a great comedic effect in a Sunday comic of Pearls Before Swine (which usually devotes its Sunday strips to overly-long series of absurd and random events to build to an Incredibly Lame Pun).
    • In the actual book, however, the line is simply "My dear, I don't give a damn" (with no "frankly").
    • Not a line quoted particularly often, but "I don't know nothin' about birthin' babies" is sometimes changed to "I don't know nothing about birthin' no baby."
  • The Graduate: "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. [awkward pause] Aren't you?" is misquoted as "Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?"
  • The Lord of the Rings - it's not uncommon for Theoden's pre-charge speeches to be merged when quoted. The line from The Two Towers is "Fell deeds awake. Now for wrath. Now for ruin. And the red dawn!" and the line from The Return of the King is "Ride now, ride now, ride! Ride for ruin and the world's ending!" What you often get is combinations of the two, such as "Ride for wrath, ride for ruin and the red dawn/the world's ending" and "Now for wrath, now for ruin and the world's ending."
    • "Fell deeds awake" is taken from the verses spoken by Théoden at Edoras in The Two Towers:

Arise now, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Dire deeds awake, dark is it eastward.
Let horse be bridled, horn be sounded!
Forth Eorlingas!

  • "Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red dawn," is taken from the last line of the verses spoken by Eomer in The Return of the King (with "nightfall" changed to "dawn" as was appropriate for Helm's Deep; a lot of people were pissed that this threw off the rhythm):

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!

  • And the movie version is taken from Théoden's Pelennor Fields speech in the book which is this:

Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
A sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

  • Éomer also shouts, "Ride, ride to ruin and the world's ending!" in the middle of the battle after he goes berserk after seeing his sister dead (or so he thinks) and the Rohirrim cry "Death" as with one voice. The movie moves these lines to the start of the battle.
  • Aragorn's Crowning Speech Of Awesome is often abridged and misquoted, mostly because of the Return of the King trailer. Ask any layman on the street what the speech was, and most who claim to remember will say "I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! Someday, the courage of men may fail, but it is not this day! This day, we fight!" The actual speech is: "Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers! I see, in your eyes, the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day... an hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day, we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you, stand! Men! Of! The West!
  • Possibly the most quoted line from Laurel and Hardy is Ollie's "This is another fine mess you've gotten me into, Stanley," (the "Stanley" is often omitted). This line was never spoken (Up until http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VRdc-bUxw0 now]].) in any of their films. The line that was actually frequently used by Ollie was, "This is another nice mess you've gotten me into," and he never added a "Stanley" to the line either. The confusion apparently stems from one of the L shorts entitled "Another Fine Mess."
  • The line "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!" is a misquote of Dorothy's line in The Wizard of Oz. The actual quote is "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
    • The Wicked Witch says "Fly, fly, fly!", not "Fly, my pretties! Fly!" or "Fly, my monkeys, fly!"
    • Dorothy (nor anyone else) does not say "It's a twister, Auntie Em". One of the farm hands, Hunk (the "real life" counterpart of the Scarecrow) does say "It's a twister! It's a twister!"
      • Although in Airplane!, Stephen Stucker as Johnny says (while tangling himself in phone cords) "Auntie Em! Toto! It's a Twister! It's a Twister!"
  • The most famous line from Apocalypse Now is actually much longer than often thought. People tend to quote it as "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like... victory." The complete quote goes: "Do you smell that? It's napalm, son. Nothing else on the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Y'know, one time we had a hill bombed....12 hours....and when it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of them, not one stinking dink body. The smell, y'know that gasoline smell, that whole hill. Smells like... victory."
    • However, the line was quoted just as rendered above by Charlie Sheen in the very last scene of The Chase.
  • The actual line from Howard Beale's rant in Network is "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Often misquoted as "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" Some people shout the latter out of windows, but Beale doesn't.
  • This Is Spinal Tap: often misquoted as "There's a fine line between clever, and stupid", David St. Hubbins actually says "It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever."
  • Sally Field (in)famously gushed "You like me, you really like me!" after her 1985 Oscar win. Except she didn't...

"I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!"

  • Related phenomenon: While M. Bison really did say OF COURSE! in the Street Fighter film the context of the line is frequently mistaken to be something he said after stating his goal to Take Over the World, instead of in response to Sagat pointing out that Guile was alive.
  • Chariots of Fire had plenty of triumphant scenes, some in slow motion, but none using the title music. But parodies only use that tune. (slow motion running with that theme is accurate, though)
  • Sunset Boulevard: Norma's famous line -- "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up,"—is often misquoted as "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."
  • Looking for the iconic Marilyn Monroe shot with the subway wind blowing up her skirt? You won't find it in The Seven Year Itch, it shows only her legs and reaction shots. The full-length picture appears only in publicity and posters.
  • People like to quote Ben Stein's character from Ferris Buellers Day Off as saying, "Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?" but that's not how it happened. When he's taking attendance, he says, "Bueller... Bueller..." Later on, when he's teaching, he asks for audience participation and that's when he says, "Anyone? Anyone?" Ferris is absent, so there's no reason to be calling on him to answer a question in class.
  • The Godfather doesn't say "You come to me, on the day of my daughter's wedding?" He says "You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder - for money." The phrase "day of your daughter's wedding" is used later, but not by Vito.
    • Also—this is a slightly nitpicky one, but that's what we're here for—at the beginning, Michael tells Kay that "Luca Brasi put a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract." "Brains" and "signature" are often transposed—presumably people think it packs more of a punch if the horrible option comes last, but that just ain't the way it is.
    • Also, Michael never says "You broke my heart, Fredo, you broke my heart." He actually says "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart, you broke my heart."
  • In the original version of The Fly, there's plenty of "Help meeee! Help meeee!" but no "Be afraid. Be very afraid." The David Cronenberg remake is the source of "Be afraid," and has "Help me, please help me."
    • Also, an example less of wording and more of intonation: "Help meeee!" is often done high pitched in parodies such as Beetlejuice. In the original movie, however, it was more of a deep, nasal sound, like an insect buzzing.
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Black Knight's most memorable quote is "It's only a flesh wound!" and has even been merchandised as such when he really said "Just a flesh wound." The misquotation is possibly influenced by the scene where the knights first see Camelot and one of the servants remarks "It's only a model." Additionally, the Black Knight does not make the "flesh wound" comment until both of his arms have been cut off and Arthur points it out. What he says after Arthur slices off his first arm is, "'Tis but a scratch."
    • Also, Dennis the peasant says, "Help, help, I'm being repressed!"—not "oppressed."
  • Discussed in Frost/Nixon. Frost is known for starting his broadcasts by saying "Hello, good evening and welcome," but, according to Frost, "I don't actually say that." In broadcasts shown within the film, he says "Hello. Good Evening." and "Good evening and welcome," but never says all three at once.
  • And, of course, Forrest Gump never said "I love you Jenny". But he did say (after trying to rescue her from the guys grabbing her on stage) "I can't help it. I love you".
  • Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka says "good day, sir!" and "I said 'good day'!" but never "I said 'good day, sir!'"
  • In Anatomy of a Murder, Jimmy Stewart's character defense attorney Paul "Polly" Biegler did not say "now I'm no big city lawyer" or "I'm just a Simple Country Lawyer". What he said was, "I'm just a humble country lawyer doing the best I can against the brilliant prosecutor from the big city of Lansing". Also he was using Obfuscating Stupidity to allow a surprise witness when he said that, he was a very accomplished lawyer and politician who know how to play to the jury by positioning himself as the local underdog. Lansing, Michigan is not a very big city but by calling it one he shows just what a small town guy he is.
  • Gordon Gekko's famous "greed is good" speech from Wall Street doesn't actually say "greed is good".

"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind."

  • The sequel opens with Gekko saying, on being released from prison:

"Someone reminded me I once said, 'Greed is good.' Now it seems it's legal, because everybody is drinking the same Kool-Aid."

  • The most infamous quote from Mommie Dearest is often rendered as "No more wire hangers!" when in reality the quote is a very hammy "No wire hangers EVAAAAR!!!" (or simply "No...more... HANGEEERS!!!")
  • Ellen Ripley never says "nuke it from orbit" in Aliens. The actual line is "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
    • And it's often attributed only to Corporal Hicks, who repeated it in concurrence with Ripley.
    • Also, "Game over man" didn't appear until well after "We're screwed!". And it's "Get away from her, you bitch", not "Stay away", that mistake was popularized by Scream 2 where they correct the right line with the wrong.
  • Not once in The Silence of the Lambs does Hannibal Lecter say "Hello, Clarice." What he actually says is "Good evening, Clarice."
    • He does say in Hannibal, "Is this Clarice? Well, hello Clarice."
      • And without the comma between "Hello" and "Clarice," the intonation is different. A pedantic point, but this is a pedantic article.
  • Although the "WE HAVE TO GO DEEPER" meme has spread like wildfire, that line's never actually said in Inception.
    • Also, the meme "X within X, Inception" Inception isn't an X within an X, but planting an idea in someone's dream. Poor trailer splicing is to blame for this one.
  • A case of intonation, rather than actual words: In The Ten Commandments, God, speaking through the Burning Bush, does call out Moses's name twice. However, it is not prolonged, with a descending pitch. Just "Moses...Moses...." in a flat monotone. The pharaoh does but with rising intonation.
  • Napoleon Dynamite advises Pedro, "just listen to your heart," not, "just follow your heart."
  • The famous line from Field of Dreams is "If you build it, he will come," not, as is often misquoted, "If you build it, they will come."
  • Jake Gyllenhaal's line from Brokeback Mountain is actually "I wish I knew how to quit you," not "I wish I could quit you" or "I can't quit you".
  • Lethal Weapon: Roger Murtaugh is not getting too old for this shit, he already is.
    • But to be fair, he does say it that way in the third movie, ("I'm getting too old for this shit!")
  • Alexander Nevsky: A variation of the phrase "all who draw the sword will die by the sword", tends to be attributed to Alexander since it appears in the movie. In reality, there is no mention of him ever saying it in public, and the phrase is actually attributed to Jesus.
  • Another Star Trek example: Some people mistakenly think that "KHAAAAAN!" was a Skyward Scream, when Kirk actually just yelled it facing forward into his communicator, which was followed by an exterior shot of the planet.
  • In The Room, Johnny's "What a story, Mark" sometimes gets remembered as "What a funny story, Mark" or "Crazy story, Mark".
  • Contrary to what South Park fans may think, Jaime Escalante doesn't say "How do I reach these kids?" in Stand and Deliver.
  • In Tropic Thunder, Kirk Lazarus is often misattributed as saying "N****, you just went full retard." The actual conversation went as follows:

Lazarus: Everybody knows you never go full retard.
Tugg: What do you mean?
Lazarus: Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man, look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic, sure. Not retarded. Then you got Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump. Slow yes, retarded maybe, braces on his legs, but he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition? That ain’t retarded. He's a goddamned war hero, you know any retarded war heroes?
Tugg: *Pauses, then shakes his head*
Lazarus: You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don't buy that? Ask Sean Penn. 2001, I Am Sam? Remember? Went full retard, went home empty-handed.

  • Will Smith's character in Independence Day never said "Welcome to Earf!", despite what the Internet would like you to believe. He actually said the word "Earth" correctly.
  • An example involving Iconic Items: Despite a great number of items of fanart, marketing, parodies and simple popular perception showing so, Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th has never used a chainsaw.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • "Elementary, my dear Watson" was never in a Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes book or story. Although Holmes did express similar sentiments often [he said "elementary" on a couple of occasions and frequently addressed Watson as "my dear Watson" (or my dear fellow, or my dear doctor. Holmes was quite possessive), and William Gillette's play came nearer with Holmes saying, "Elementary my dear fellow!", the actual phrase originates in a PG Wodehouse tale called Psmith, Journalist.
    • The closest Doyle came to writing it was in "The Crooked Man":

"I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Watson," said he. "When your round is a short one you walk, and when it is a long one you use a hansom. As I perceive that your boots, although used, are by no means dirty, I cannot doubt that you are at present busy enough to justify the hansom."
"Excellent!" I cried.
"Elementary," said he.

  • In John Cleese's parody The Strange Case of the End of Civilization As We Know It, this is lampshaded, with "Watson" calling for help on a crossword, and "Holmes" answering with repeated homonymns of "elementary", followed by "my dear Watson".
  • Holmes is never described by Conan Doyle as wearing a deerstalker. This came about from the original illustrations. William Gillette took inspiration from the Sidney Paget illustrations in costuming his play, and later Basil Rathbone used the same such costuming in his famous films, effectively cementing the image in the public mind. Later illustrations would have him wearing the rural hat in a city, quite a faux pas.
  • The exact description is earflapped travelling cap; Sidney Paget's classic illustration, showing a deerstalker, strongly suggests that few if any other types of headgear would be conjured by that description, just as the phrase "a straw hat" would (at that time) invariably suggest a boater.
  • It is also worth noting that the cape and deerstalker were outdoor clothing, and would only have been worn when Holmes was active in rural settings. Sporting such attire in central London or indoors, as he is often portrayed in popular culture, would be equivalent to a modern detective wearing an anorak, walking boots, and a woolen hat in the same locations. In other words, he'd look pretty silly.
  • One case of this being done correctly was the Classics Illustrated Junior adaptation of A Study In Scarlet, where Holmes wears both quite often, because many scene take place in the Midwest, outdoors, at night. Even in summer, Midwestern nights can be very cold.
  • In the early twentieth century, for whatever reason the popular catchphrase for Holmes was "Quick, Watson, the needle!" referring to the detective's drug habit. Not only was nothing like this line ever uttered in the stories themselves, but it doesn't even make sense as something that Holmes would say; Watson, who was bothered by Holmes' drug use, would be unlikely to assist him in it.
  • That phrase actually comes from The Red Mill, a 1906 comic operetta by Victor Herbert (of Babes in Toyland fame). It comes in a scene where the two Con Man protagonists are disguised as Holmes and Watson. (Basil Rathbone also uses a similar phrase - "Oh, Watson, the needle!" - in the 1939 film of The Hound of the Baskervilles.)
  • Sea Fever: it's not "I must go down to the sea again.", but "I must down to the seas again."
    • According to my dictionary of quotations, the latter is a misprint and the former is what Masefield intended. The rhythm flows better.
  • The first poem in the Mother Goose book of rhymes starts "Find a pin, pick it up", not "Find a penny, pick it up."
  • None of Enid Blyton's The Famous Five books include the phrase "lashings of ginger beer". That comes from the infamous Made for TV Movie parodies by British comedy troupe The Comic Strip, "Five Go Mad In Dorset" and "Five Go Mad on Mescalin". It has its origins in the Five's (or at least their human members') penchant for ginger beer and the fact that their lovingly described meals do frequently sport lashings of an appropriate accompaniment such as gravy or cream.
  • There is no-one to say "follow the white rabbit" in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; the line only appears in The Matrix.
  • Hagrid's oft-quoted line "you're a wizard, Harry" appears only in the first Harry Potter film—in the book, his line was "Harry -- yer a wizard".
    • Also, Voldemort's line "There is no good and evil, only power and those too weak to seek it," is this when applied to the book, where the line was "...that there is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it," and spoken by Quirrell, not Voldemort, as part of a much longer monologue with a different tone before Voldemort even puts in an appearance.
  • Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is often quoted as "Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink"; the actual line is "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink"
  • Hamlet: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks". Nearly always misquoted as "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
    • Hamlet's line in the graveyard is generally quoted as 'Alas, Poor Yorick! I knew him well'. What he actually said was 'Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio.
  • Not a quote, but reference is frequently made to Robinson Crusoe finding Friday's footprint in the sand. The footprint he finds could have belonged to any one of several dozen "savages"; it was almost certainly not Friday's.
  • "'Will you walk into my parlor,' said the spider to the fly", not "come into my parlor."
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes did not say "Boston is the hub of the universe." The line from "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table" is "Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system. You couldn't pry that out of a Boston man, if you had the tire of all creation straightened out for a crowbar." One commenter notes "'universe' for 'solar system' can be overlooked, but 'Boston' for 'Boston State-House' is unpardonable."
  • The Devil's Dictionary said the brain was "An apparatus with which we think what we think", not "An apparatus with which we think we think."
    • Not according to my edition, which has it as, "An apparatus with which we think that we think," which is frankly more in line with Bierce's worldview than the alternative.
  • 1984 is about "doublethink", "newspeak", "crimethink", "goodsex", "sexcrime" and "duckspeak", not "double talk", "groupthink" or "Double-Speak".
  • In Spanish-speaking countries, it is very common to attribute to Don Quixote the expression "Ladran, Sancho, señal que cabalgamos" ("There's barking, Sancho, it shows that we're riding")—in other words, to succeed, one has to face criticism from envious people. This is an abbreviated version of the following exchange:

Sancho: Señor, señor, que nos ladran los perros.
Don Quijote: Señal que cabalgamos, Sancho.

The translation could be like this:

Sancho: Sir, sir, that dogs bark at us.
Don Quijote: A sign that we ride, Sancho.

  • Another example is (mis)quoted to Don Quixote: Con la Iglesia hemos topado, Sancho.¡ Could be translated as: With the Church we have encountered, Sancho. With the replacement of the word dado by topado, and completely foreign to the context of that chapter, the phrase has been used to indicate that the Church or some other authority stands in the execution of a project. In Part II, chapter IX, we read:

Don Quixote took the lead, and having gone a matter of two hundred paces he came upon the mass that produced the shade, and found it was a great tower, and then he perceived that the building in question was no palace, but the chief church of the town, and said he, "It's the church we have lit upon, Sancho."

  • The title line from John Donne's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is often misquoted as "Ask not for whom the bell tolls", though it is actually "And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls".
  • Ask "What is the meaning of life?" on the Internet and it's almost guaranteed that somebody will respond "42." Technically, 42 isn't the meaning of life - rather, it is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, whatever that may be.
    • Six by nine, of course.
  • "The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry," is frequently attributed to Robert Burns, but the actual line in his poem To a Mouse is: "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley"—which means the same thing.
    • John Brunner got this right when he composed a Feghoot ending "The best-paid gangs of Meissen men scheme AFTER Clay."
  • The poem "In Flanders Fields" opens "In Flanders fields the poppies blow", not "grow". Even the author (John McCrae) made this error when asked to supply a fair copy several years later.
  • Dante never referred to The Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) by that name: he simply called it Commedia ("comedy"). The epithet "divine" was added by Boccaccio.
  • Poet Dylan Thomas's last words are often given as "I've just had eighteen straight whiskeys in a row - I do believe that is some sort of record", but he actually said the far less triumphant "After 39 years, this is all I've done".
  • In Parson Weems's story about the young George Washington, he never says "I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.", because he doesn't chop it down, he "barks" it, slicing the bark off with a hatchet.

The following anecdote is a case in point. It is too valuable to be lost, and too true to be doubted; ...he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a beautiful young English cherry-tree, which he barked so terribly, that I don't believe the tree ever got the better of it. The next morning the old gentleman, finding out what had befallen his tree, which, by the by, was a great favourite, came into the house; ... Nobody could tell him anything about it... "George," said his father, " do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? " This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all- conquering truth, he bravely cried out, "I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet." "Run to my arms, you dearest boy," cried his father in transports, "run to my arms; glad am I, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold."

  • A number of lines and names associated with Frankenstein are not in the original novel:
    • Frankenstein never said, "It's alive!" when he gave life to his creature. This line first arose in the 1931 film adaptation.
    • Frankenstein is the name of the man, not the creation, which is never named. Even calling it "Frankenstein's Monster" is not strictly correct, since the term "monster" is never used in the novel. Various terms, including "demon" and "ogre" are used, though "creature," coming from the word "create," seems to be the most generally appropriate.
    • Victor Frankenstein is never called "Doctor Frankenstein," since he never receives his doctorate. He's only a student when the creature is born.
    • All accounts of lightning-powered animation, or the theft and stitching together of corpse parts to make the creature, are later additions (though the part-collecting is implied). Frankenstein's narrative deliberately omits any mention of how he brought his creation to life, as he didn't want anyone to repeat his mistakes.
  • This phenomenon is discussed in More Information Than You Require, which jokingly claims, among other things, that when Franklin D. Roosevelt said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," he was, in fact, referring to just his cabinet, who were protected by a thick steel wall. "Normal Americans need to be afraid, very afraid indeed. And not just of the Depression, but also flash floods, night-stabbers, and plague."
  • "The spice must flow!", while spoken by the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the '84 Lynch film and spoken often, was never actually in any of the six Dune books.
    • The popular chant "It is by will alone I set my mind in motion", while it sounds like something from the books and is quoted all the time by sci-fi geeks, is nowhere found in the original book, nor is the premise quite the same. It was written by Lynch for the movie.
  • The Three Musketeers' "One for all, all for one." D'Artagnan only said it once, when he was trying to convince Athos, Porthos, and Aramis that he wasn't committing a selfish act by letting the husband of his lover be taken to jail by the Cardinal's guards.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf never said "You shall not pass!" in the book, only in the movie. His full line in the book goes:

'You cannot pass,' he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. 'I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.'

  • Note also that he says the lines in a calm manner, as opposed to dramatically shouting them like he does in the movie, and perhaps similar to Obi-Wan's demeanor when facing Vader for the last time in Star Wars. Gandalf also says "You cannot pass!" again after blocking the Balrog's sword strike, but never "You shall not pass". Also, in the book, he says "Fly, you fools!" during his fall down the abyss.
  • Gandalf's defiance of the Lord of the Nazgul at the gates of Minas Tirith is similar:

'You cannot enter here,' said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. 'Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!'

  • The often misquoted line from The Aeneid, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts," is actually a mistranslation of the original phrase, "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes." The correct translation is, "I fear the Greeks, even if they bear gifts." [2]
  • The proverb "There's no smoke without fire" is an example. The original Latin proverb actually translates as "There's no fire without some smoke".
  • In Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, if your snark turns out to be a boojum, "You will softly and suddenly vanish away, / And never be met with again." Not "softly and silently", as generally misquoted.
    • Also, there is no "Mad Hatter" in the book, only a "Hatter" who is mentioned as being mad.
  • In The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Ogilvy never said "The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one." Instead he said "The chances against anything manlike coming from Mars are a million to one." The first quote is from the musical by Jeff Wayne.
  • The expression "survival of the fittest" generally is attributed to Charles Darwin, but it was actually coined by Herbert Spencer. Note that the phrase almost always is used incorrectly: "the fittest" does not mean "the strongest individual". A much more accurate paraphrase is "the individual or trait that fits the best within a particular environment". (This use of "fittest" is no longer common in modern English.)
  • A Christmas Carol's Ebeneezer Scrooge is often observed as having said "Bah-humbug!", but most works miss the emphasis. The phrase is given like it's all one word, whereas "Bah" is actually an interjection of disgust, e.g. "Bah! Humbug!"
    • And in film and stage adaptations, he tends to say it many more times than in the novel.
  • The famous British magazine Punch contained many satirical cartoons with captions, all of which are understood in the popular imagination to end with a dry, brief line like "Collapse of Stout Party" when in fact of none of them did. Ronald Pearsall notes this in the introduction to his book Collapse of Stout Party: Victorian wit and humour:

To many people Victorian Britain wit and humour is summed up by Punch, when every joke is supposed to end with "Collapse of Stout Party", though this phrase tends to be as elusive as "Elementary, my dear Watson" in the Sherlock Holmes sagas.

  • In Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky, the nonsense word "borogoves" is often mispronounced "borogroves."
  • The line is "Second to the right and straight on till morning." The Disney version changed it to "Second star to the right...", probably in an effort to make more sense...even though it wasn't supposed to make sense, since Peter had made it up on the spot in an effort to impress Wendy. The whole "think happy thoughts and you'll be able to fly" thing was a similar made-up bit of information by Peter—he wanted to confuse Wendy and her brothers by trying to make them fly before they had any fairy dust, the thing you really need to fly. (And it's fairy dust, not pixie dust). But try telling that to any adaptation...
  • William Cowper's Light Shining Out Of Darkness: "God moves in a mysterious way", not "God moves in mysterious ways"
  • Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade includes the following lines: "Theirs is not to make reply, / Theirs is not to reason why, / Theirs is but to do & die [...]" At varying points you will see "Ours" exchanged for "Theirs," which is reasonably justifiable, but to use the line "Theirs (or Ours) is but to do OR die" should merit flogging, at the least.
  • José Rizal's poem popularly known as Mi Ultimo Adiós was originally untitled. The title was added posthumously, and the phrase itself nowhere appears in the text.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche is variously quoted as writing something like "when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back", or a myriad of variations. The original phrase used by Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil is: "And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • From Star Trek (apart from the Trope Namer, above):
    • While we're talking Scotty, he has likely never said "She canna' take much more of this!" onscreen. It's in the theatrical trailer of Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country but was cut from the version seen in theaters.
    • Another Star Trek example: The Borg are oft quoted as saying "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated." While they arrange those sentences in any number of ways in their various appearances (sometimes in the midst of a full paragraph or two), they never use that one. The closest they come is in the Next Generation episode "I, Borg", where the Borg, "Hugh", says, "We are Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." Ironically, the story treatment for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiere calls the Borg's line "immortal words," even though the construction they used had yet to be spoken in any form of Star Trek.
    • Bones never said "Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor, not a --" He said "I'm a doctor, not a --" and similar phrases very often though: see here
      • Also, it would be awfully unlikely for them to get away with saying "dammit" on '60s television, especially on a regular basis. This was the era in which Kirk used "hell" to make a Precision F-Strike at the end of "The City on the Edge of Forever". And that was the only instance of swearing in three seasons.
      • The original timeline's Bones may never have said "dammit", but it became an Ascended Meme in the 2009 movie.
    • Spock never said the line "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it," which is used repeatedly in the song "Star Trekkin'." He does say something similar in "The Devil In The Dark":

Within range of our sensors, there is no life, other than the accountable human residents of this colony beneath the surface. At least, no life as we know it.

  • The opening narration is occasionally misquoted as "These are the voyages of the Star Trek Enterprise," which doesn't even make sense. The phrase "Star Trek" is in fact never used in the movies or television series, outside of the Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics, until spoken in Star Trek: First Contact by Zefram Cochrane. "And you people, you're all ... astronauts ... on ... some kind of star trek." Prior to this, the closest phrasing was "your trek through the stars," said by Q in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series finale "All Good Things..."
  • A small scale Star Trek Beam Me Up, Scotty occurred among the cast and crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Apparently they were under the impression that the Original Series episode "This Side Of Paradise" contained the line "I'm not going back, Jim". The line became an in joke and they even used it in the riffing on Touch of Satan. However, they later rented the episode and realized that no such line appears.
  • On The Burns and Allen Show Gracie Allen doesn't reply "Goodnight, Gracie" to George Burns' "Say goodnight, Gracie".
  • Whether or not Julius Caesar actually said "Et tu, Brute?" ("You too, Brutus?") is heavily contested by scholars; in fact, it's one of two possible things Caesar said when he died, as reported by Roman historian Suetonius (who himself wrote that he believes Caesar said nothing at all). Modern historians now consider that if he said it, he meant it as a curse, that he too will fall.
    • Lampshaded in Rome, when Brutus' mother agrees with those who think he should leave Rome, Brutus replies "You too, mother."
  • Paul Hogan's infamous Australian tourism ads didn't say "Throw another shrimp on the barbie" but "I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you."
  • Hunter S. Thompson didn't say "The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."; it was

The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.

  • "Just the facts, Ma'am" came not from Dragnet, but from the various Stan Freberg parodies of the show. The phrase Jack "Joe Friday" Webb actually used on the show was "All we want are the facts, Ma'am" (and sometimes "All we know are the facts, Ma'am").
  • Carl Sagan's TV appearances were famous for his distinctive pronunciation of the word "billions"—but the phrase "billions and billions" so commonly associated with him actually came from a Tonight Show parody by Johnny Carson.
    • He actually named one of his books "Billions and Billions" after this quote, and explained where it came from. (He also noted that the pronunciation of "billions" came from a desire to avoid confusion with "millions".)
  • Ralph Kramden never actually said "Bang-zoom, to the moon!" on The Honeymooners—it's actually a blend of two different catchphrases, "One of these days, one of these days. Bang! Zoom!" and "To the moon, Alice, to the moon!". Similarly, many other catch phrases associated with that show and Jackie Gleason are mixes-and-matches of bits of actual catch phrases. Also, "Pow, right in the kisser!" was allegedly a Kramden Catch Phrase in the (now lost) early variety show sketches, but did not actually appear in the regular series.
  • The phrase "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!" , despite being seen as a Techno Babble Catch Phrase of the Third Doctor in Doctor Who, was never used in that form in his era of the show, with, aside from an instance in The Daemons ("Reverse the polarity!" [of the electrical power in general]), the closest thing to it being his warning to the Master in The Sea Devils that "I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow", and that things were thus about to get explosive (although he reversed the polarity of other things quite a bit, and once "fused the controls to the neutron flow"). He repeated it when he reappeared in the 20th anniversary special. Ironically, the line was used by the Fifth Doctor more than the Third Doctor, and has been used a number of times by other Doctors, because it was seen as a Catch Phrase.
    • More recently, the Tenth has lamented the fact that he's losing his touch at reversing polarities.
    • Tegan's fake swear word "Rabbits!" is a similar case. She only said it twice in the 19 serials featuring her as a companion, yet it's remembered by viewers as her Catch Phrase and included in nearly every novel and short story she appears in (all written over a decade after she left the show).
    • "It's bigger on the inside!" really isn't uttered all that much. Just about the only times it is used is when it is pointed out that people say it. There are many similar reactions (the first being Ian's "But it was just a telephone box!") but one of the first times (if not THE first) times the actual quote is said it is by the Doctor in The Three Doctors. The 10th Anniversary episode.
  • "Nil points!" never appears in the Eurovision Song Contest. It's actually "nul points". And, anyway, they never say it at all because of the way they do the scores.
    • The misunderstanding probably comes about from the fact that some songs which score very badly have zero points (translated into pidgin French as "nil points") through most of the show (possibly to the end) leading to people (quite possibly only those at home) commenting that such-and-such a song has "nil points" as a riff on the way the judges' scoring is read out in English and French. This probably lead to people thinking that the "nil points" thing was a quote from the national judging panels even though, as mentioned above, they only mention the scores when they are handing out one or more points to a song - scores of zero are never mentioned.
    • They definitely used to say 'nul points' when reading out the score tables after each round of point allocation. They don't do it in modern-era Eurovision because the number of competitors means the table's huge, and it would take forever to read it out in two or three languages (English, French, host's language if neither of those).
  • Two famous kids' show "bloopers" were never said, despite millions of people saying they were watching and/or listening: "That oughtta hold the little bastards" as attributed mainly to radio host Uncle Don, and "Cram it, Clownie!" as attributed mainly to a disgruntled kid on The Bozo Show.
    • Not only were they never uttered, but there isn't even agreement on how they were never uttered. Depending on whom you ask, the two above speakers apochryphally said "That oughtta hold the little S.O.B.'s for another week!" and "Cram it, Clown!"
  • In the Mr. Bill sketches from Saturday Night Live the phrase is just, "Oh no!" and not "Oh no, Mr. Bill!". It's pretty strange how this misquote was started seeing as how it's said by Mr. Bill himself.
    • This is possibly Memetic Mutation melding the "Oh no!" from an earlier catchphase, "Look out, Mr. Bill!" which was reportedly spawned by a radio show in the 1940's or 50's.
    • Or the quote came from Mr. Bill merchandise, which often featured both the catchphrase and the name of the character, in that order, without quotation marks.
    • The phrase WAS sometimes said by Mr. Hands, who was the narrator in the shorts.

(In a short with Mr Bill driving a car) Mr Hands : Oh no, Mr Bill! Looks like you have a flat! Good thing Mr Sluggo has a jack....

  • The clay person might have said "Oh no, Mr Bill!" in an early episode before they decided who was Mr Bill. In some episodes, the hands were Mr Bill and the clay person went unnamed. In others, the hands went unnamed. It confused me for a while.
  • Australian talk show host Derryn Hynch never actually used the line "Shame, shame." he is often associated with, it comes from Steve Vizard's recurring impersonation of him on sketch comedy Fast Forward.
  • The (in)famous Bishop and the Nightie" affair on The Late Late Show never had a woman say she was "naked" on her wedding night. In February 1966, there was a segment on the show where a Mr and Mrs Fox had to answer questions about their marriage; Mrs Fox was asked what colour nightdress she wore on her wedding night; she said "Transparent," then admitted "I didn't wear any!"; after the audience stopped laughing, she changed her answer to "white." There was no outcry—only three phone complaints, and one telegram from Thomas Ryan, Catholic Bishop of Clonfert ("Disgusted with disgraceful performance."), who later offered extreme criticism of the show, calling on "all decent Irish Catholics" to protest. They didn't.
  • The German crime series Derrick often has Derrick send his assistant Harry to get the car to drive him somewhere. Thus, the phrase "Harry, hol schon mal den Wagen" ("Harry, go get the car in the meantime") was coined, though none of the 281 episodes of the legendary show actually featured the renowned phrase. The line was finally included in a tongue-in-cheek animated special made after the live action version had been cancelled.
  • A popular trend in Stargate SG-1 fanfiction is to have O'Neill call artifacts "rocks" while Daniel insists that they are "artifacts". However, such an exchange never occurs in the show itself.
    • It should also be noted that no chevrons were engaged on Stargate SG-1 until around season 3. Even after that, they were "encoded" most of the time.
  • The show Friends has maybe one actual occasion where Chandler uses any variant of the phrase "Could I be more (blank)?" without it being a parody of said speaking pattern.
    • "I don't talk like that. That is so not true. ...That is so not...that is so not...oh, shut up!"
      • Potentially justified though, because the idea of this expression as a catchphrase originated in story, with the rest of the group making fun of it. This means the character could have said it hundreds of times offscreen.
  • There is not a single episode of Lassie in which Timmy falls down a well. He fell down just about everything else, yes, but Lassie had never had to get help for Timmy falling down a well.
    • In fact, Lassie has fallen down a well at least once.
    • Neither has Timmy ever been "trapped in the old mill".
  • "Suits you, sir!" was never ever said in The Fast Show. The line was always "Suit you, sir!"
  • Jan Brady said "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!!!" once through the entire series of The Brady Bunch. It entered pop culture through SNL parodies and the "Brady Bunch Movie".
  • Tonto on The Lone Ranger never said "What you mean we, white man?" (sometimes changed to "What you mean we, Kemosabe?" to make the reference clearer, making it an example on top of an example) That was from a popular joke about the show.
  • "You dirty rat", "play it again, Sam" and "Me Tarzan, you Jane" are all referenced to in an episode of QI:

"Why do these films always forget to put their most famous line in?"

  • The Robot from Lost in Space never said "Danger, danger, Will Robinson".
    • That's because the catch phrase has only one "danger". It was said once in the series, episode 11 of season 3 ("The Deadliest of the Species").
  • The Memetic Mutation "Yo/sup dawg, I heard you like..." was never said by Xzibit.
  • No Game Show has ever used the phrase "Johnny, tell them what they've won!" There have been several announcers named Johnny (Johnny Gilbert, Johnny Olson, Johnny Jacobs, John Harlan), and they have told countless contestants about the prizes, but never in this form.
  • Speaking of game shows, the catch phrase on Family Feud is "(our) survey said," not "says" (although Steve Harvey sometimes uses "says"). And it's only used in the Fast Money round, not the main game. Ricki Lake got the latter wrong on Gameshow Marathon.
  • And another one: The contestant who said "in the ass" in response to the question "Where, specifically, is the weirdest place you've ever gotten the urge to make whoopee?" on The Newlywed Game. Many people thought it was "In the butt, Bob", or some Ebonics-laden variation such as "It be the butt, Bob." Also, the lady who gave the answer (an ordinary, white housewife named Olga) actually said it hesitantly and uncomfortably, not assertively.
  • Jim Bowen, of Bullseye, never once said "Super, Smashing, Great" on the programme- he said "Super", he said "Smashing", he said "Great". But never all three in one go. He did, however, say it in a beer commercial some time later.
  • Ronald Reagan never once said, "The driver is either missing, or he's dead" in Death Valley Days; this is a misunderstood Memetic Mutation in Mystery Science Theater 3000. The line was typically exclaimed during a scenic shot that resembled Death Valley, which led the many audience members to believe it was indeed a Reagan quote. In fact, it ties back to an earlier Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode where someone on screen who sounds almost exactly like Reagan says, "The driver is either missing, or he's dead;" an audience member then capitalized on his voice by saying, "Welcome to Death Valley Days!" From then on, it became Running Joke.
  • For some reason, Mister Rogers is famous for saying, "Can you say ____?" The line appears in several parodies despite the fact that he literally never said it on the show, and in fact thought the phrase would be an insult to the intelligence of even his very young audience. The most likely source of this is a parody of Mister Rogers that appears on the National Lampoon album, That's Not Funny, That's Sick. In two tracks on the album, Mister Roberts is constantly asking the audience, and his guests, if they can say some given word.
    • Actually, in the 1970 episode "Death of a Goldfish", Mister Rogers showed the viewer a wooden pentagon and asked, "Can you say that? Pentagon?". Must have been a rare occurrence, or something that only happened in early episodes.
    • Also, the first line of the show's opening theme song is "It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood. It is often misquoted as "...in the neighborhood", and is even sung that way in the theme to the new spinoff Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
  • The Trope Namer is subject to Conversational Troping (naturally, by Reid, the show's usual source of random trivia) in the Criminal Minds episode "What Happens At Home".
  • Mash has an in-universe example: in the episode "Movie Night," the gang entertain themselves with Father Mulcahy impersonations, one of which involves the use and over-use of the word "jocularity." The thing is, Mulcahy has never used this exclamation—at least not yet. He does so once, but in a later episode.
    • In the short story "The Van on Atlantic Street" by Desmond Warzel, one character does an imitation of the Mulcahy imitation, upon which he is told that Mulcahy never said "jocularity." The Star Trek Trope Namer and "Play it again, Sam" are also referenced by way of explanation.
    • A straight example is in the finale. Hawkeye does not actually say "It wasn't a chicken!"
  • Another in-universe occurrence is in the 1995 TV remake of the musical Bye Bye Birdie (this troper can't remember if the following phrase was in the stage musical, but it wasn't in the more famous 1963 movie version, at least not exactly the way it was worded). Having become frustrated with her fiancé, Rose De Leon (here played by Vanessa Williams) makes the following remark about men: "They're all alike - from puberty to stupidity, from Benedict Arnold to Mussolini." The heroine of the story, Kim McAfee, overhears Rosie and later truncates the quote in front of her parents: "Rosie was right! Men are all alike - from puberty to Mussolini!" (This causes her father, Harry, to complain: " 'Puberty' and 'Mussolini' - two words I would have never wanted to hear coming from my daughter's mouth!")
  • Most people believed that Barney and Friends said the message, "A stranger is a friend you haven't met." He never actually said that! Not once. The closest anyone's ever come to saying that lin, was in "Playing It Safe!" In the episode, it was Derek who uttered, "Strangers are people you don't know."
    • It has also been attributed to Yeats... and it doesn't even sound like him.
  • Despite naming a trope in its own right, the phrase "Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude" never appeared in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. What Zordon actually said was that he wanted "Five overbearing and overemotional humans," to which Alpha replied "Not that, not teenagers!" That line was used in the introduction and theme song, however it was only a shortened version of the actual dialogue.
  • A milder version in The Sopranos: the characters rarely, if ever, spoke of a person getting "whacked"; the preferred term was "clipped".
  • Ricky used the word "'splain" a couple times on I Love Lucy, but never the phrase "Lucy, you've got some 'splainin' to do."
  • Batman has a mild example. While Robin's infamous "Holy [relevant phrase]!" Catch Phrase did appear constantly, he usually ended it at that—he rarely ever said "Holy [relevant phrase], Batman!", as most people quote him. This one's a justified case, though, since "Holy [noun]!" is such a generic phrase in Western culture that people might not otherwise associate it with Batman.


Music[edit | hide]

  • In the melody of Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" (i.e. the Valkyrie Leitmotif from The Ring of the Nibelungs), the sixteenth note in each bar is often played inaudibly. Suffice to say, "Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!" is a rhythmically incorrect rendition - the missing note would be in between "kill" and "the".
    • The 16th note is one of the main reasons this passage shows up on trombone auditions, since it's one of the first things audition judges listen for.
  • "Yellow Submarine" is invariably misquoted: it's "In the town where I was born lived a man who sailed to sea / And he told us of his life in the land of submarines." Pretty much everyone will sing "In the town where I was born lived a man who sailed the sea / And he told us of his life in a yellow submarine."
  • The lyrics to "As Time Goes By" have the line "a kiss is still a kiss," which does not exactly parallel the following line, "a sigh is just a sigh." The people who quote the lyric as "a kiss is just a kiss" have the defense that it's what Dooley Wilson sang in Casablanca. (Of course, they probably also believe that the song originated with Casablanca.)
  • John Lennon never said that The Beatles were "Bigger Than Jesus," it was:

"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. We're more popular than Jesus now - I don't know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity."

  • It also must be pointed out that contrary to massively popular belief the above quote was not a boast but lament. If there was any mockery intended then it was not toward Jesus or Christianity but toward the people he was complaining about, who were letting their fandom get ludicrously out of hand. The quote was ripped out of context on purpose by the press for a smear piece and has almost invariably been viewed that way ever since, whereas the full context makes the meaning quite clear.
  • In later years John Lennon became stridently anti-Christian and sang about, among other things, the abolition of religion in his "utopian" vision of the future in his song "Imagine", so perhaps in hindsight the traditional interpretation of his statement seems to make a bit more sense.
  • In an overlap with Refrain From Assuming, the German national anthem is still known in the Anglosphere as "Deutschland Über Alles", despite the verse featuring those lyrics no longer being officially part of the song (whose melody is also Older Than They Think). For the record, the current first line is Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit: "Unity and Right and Freedom".
    • And even "Deutschland Über Alles" wasn't a call for Germany to dominate the world, but a call for the citizens of the many small countries that made up the region pre-1870 to and regard the ideal of a united Germany as far more important than rivalries between Bavarians, Prussians, Austrians, Saxons, Württembergers, Hanoverians and so on.
      • For those who don't know, the actual title is not "Deutschland über Alles"; that's just the first line of the song. It is "Das Lied der Deutschen" (the Song of the Germans) or alternatively "Das Deutschlandlied" (the Germany Song).
  • Bob Geldof didn't say "Give us your fucking money!" at Live Aid -- The Other Wiki explains:

Nearly seven hours into the concert in London, Bob Geldof enquired how much money had been raised; he was told £1.2 million. He is said to have been sorely disappointed by the amount and marched to the BBC commentary position. Pumped up further by a performance by Queen that he later called "absolutely amazing", Geldof gave an infamous interview. David Hepworth, conducting the interview, had attempted to provide a list of addresses to which donations should be sent; Geldof interrupted him in mid-flow and shouted: "Fuck the address, let's get the numbers!" After the outburst, giving increased to £18,000 per minute.

  • Whenever anyone parodizes Kanye West's 2009 MTV Video Music Awards interruption, it's always "X had one of the best Y of all time. OF ALL TIME." No one remembers the exact wording:

Yo Taylor, I'm really happy for you and I'ma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!

  • "I, am, Iron Man! Ne-ne-ne-ne-ne-ne ne neeear, near near!"
    • The opening line of the song is "I am Iron Man", but spoken before the Epic Riff starts, in a weird gargly way. At no point is it sung to the main tune of the song. (though Ozzy vocalizing the subsequent riff - der, ner, ner, ner, ner - in concerts might help the confusion)
  • The anthem for the US Navy, Anchors Aweigh, is sometimes quoted as having the line "we sail at the break of day", but the actual line goes "we sail at break of day" (no "the" before "break").
    • And, of course, thanks to the lovely world of homonyms, the title tends to be misspelled as "away", not the correct "aweigh".
  • Bjork never said "I am a grateful grapefruit!" at the 1998 Brit Awards. It was actually:

"I...am...grate...ful...grape...fruit!"

  • Doesn't make things clearer.
  • People are still quoting Elvis Presley as saying, "The only thing negroes can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my records", despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence of him ever uttering this, and in fact everyone who ever worked closely with Presley commented on his total lack of prejudice.
  • Rick James never said "I'm Rick James, bitch!" at any point in his life. It was made up by Dave Chappelle for his Chappelle's Show sketch spoofing Rick James' life, which was Very Loosely Based on a True Story cast member Charlie Murphy tells. So naturally, Seltzer and Friedberg didn't realize that while making Epic Movie.
    • He actually did say it at the 2004 BET Awards, though this was after the Dave Chappelle sketch, and was more of a reference to it.
  • Neal Hefti's theme for the 1966-1968 Batman TV show is misquoted by just about everyone. The only time "Nonna nonna nonna nonna, Batman!" is sung verbatim at the very end of the song; people tend to sing the whole song that way.
    • Possibly because the Animated series version of that song does have it that way. As for the 'nonna' bits, it is a good way to verbalize the repeating melody of the song.
  • "Dave's not here man" a line often associated with stoners, came from a sketch off a Cheech and Chong album, but 'man' is never said in that line. That doesn't stop people from misquoting it though, this is mostly due to the duo's liberal use of the word.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic references a common use of this trope in his song "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me": "And by the way, your quotes from 'George Carlin' aren't really George Carlin..."
  • The song that in which "Figaro" repeatedly sings his name comes from The Barber of Seville. Some people, however, will perceive it as being from The Marriage of Figaro.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Garfield: Many of the cat's most famous quips (such as "Big, fat, hairy deal!" or "I'm not overweight; I'm undertall") were either never said by him in the comic strip or were said once and then forgotten. Garfield fans remember them to this day only because the strip was aggressively licensed and merchandised almost from the beginning, and the quotes (or supposed quotes) were used repeatedly for greeting cards, joke books, etc.
    • Likewise, "We're bachelors, baby" has only been used eight times in the course of six years.
  • Calvin and Hobbes never had Calvin say "God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die."
    • There's also a bootleg T-shirt of Calvin scowling and saying: "Every day, I'm forced to add another name to the list of people who piss me off." Obviously, this quote has never appeared in the strip.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • The popular phrase referring to a need for a speedy escape is "Time to get the hell out of Dodge!" - a reference to the long-running radio (and later TV) series Gunsmoke, which took place in Dodge City. Trouble is no one ever actually says those words over the course of the series. Occasionally, Marshal Dillon would instruct some bad guys to "get out of Dodge", but the phrase is never used as a suggestion among said bad guys themselves.
  • An Iconic Item for an entire genre: There was no such thing as a secret decoder ring for cereal boxes, old-time radio shows or anything else. The idea is a mashup of secret decoder badges (which weren't rings because it's hard to fit the alphabet on a ring) and secret compartment rings. After the end of old-time radio drama, some companies did offer such rings as a form of nostalgia, including Ovaltine in 2000.
    • This is partly just a matter of a misnomer, since a popular style of decoder was the cypher disk, consisting of one or more circular plates with letters printed around the circumference. These plates are occasionally described as rings.
    • Here are pictures of the Ovaltine and Orphan Annie decoder rings.


Religious Scripture[edit | hide]

  • From The Bible: (Note: Considering The Bible is the most translated text in the world, and was not originally written in English, take many of the following with a grain of salt) A line frequently quoted from the Bible is "money is the root of all evil". While technically a correct quote, it leaves out three important words. The full quote (from the somewhat Macekred King James version anyway) is "the love of money is the root of all evil." Another translation is "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil," which changes the meaning almost entirely.
    • Another Biblical example. The story of the Garden of Eden is often summarized as "the Devil tricks Adam and Eve into eating an apple," but none of this is accurate, at least not on the basis of what is written in Genesis itself.
      • The snake is simply a snake, and is not identified as the devil. (Ironically it's the Qu'ran's version of the story, not the Bible's, which explicitly identifies the tempter as Satan—though it doesn't say anything about him being a snake at the time.)
        • Technically, the bit about the snake is true in Genesis; however, the New Testament does say it was the Devil according to many modern scholars; for instance, see Revelation 12:9. And after all, who usually tempts humans to disobey God? Exactly.
      • The periy ("fruit") is never specified as an apple (the word though is hard to translate into English as it means any plant product—fruit, grain, nuts, berries, edible leaves, etc.) - the idea of it being an apple comes from the Latin word malus, which means both "apple" and "evil", and perhaps from the apple sent by Eris, which led to the Judgment of Paris and the Trojan War. Muslims traditionally say the forbidden fruit was dates, though the Qu'ran doesn't specify either.
    • Pride cometh not before a fall. Rather, what The Bible really says is, "Pride cometh before destruction, and the haughty spirit before a fall".
    • Let's not forget the misconception that the Bible says "do not drink", nor does it say "do not get drunk". It implies "do not get too drunk".
    • Another alcohol-related misquote: The angel tells Zacharias that John "shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink"—the word sikera, usually translated as the vague "strong drink", actual means "barley beer".
      • According to Jentezen Franklin, there were a variety of words in both Hebrew and Greek that translate into English as "wine". The one most often used in the New Testament refers to a thick, almost syrupy drink that had no alcohol content.
        • Regarding the above, it should be noted that there are some sects of Christianity that are strongly against alcohol, many proponents of which are willing to outright lie about the Bible to justify said dislike. Certainly there are some uses of "wine" where it requires truly incredible stupidity to argue that it was non-alcoholic. This usually does not stop them.
      • All these things being true enough, the Bible DOES clearly frown upon the consumption of alcohol: Leviticus 10:9 prohibits use of "wine nor strong drink" in religious services, particularly by priests themselves (supported by Ezekiel 44:21 and Timothy 3:2-3). Under the law of the Nazarite, the children of Israel are told to separate themselves from wine and strong drink as well as non-alcoholic grape juice or even grapes themselves. Proverbs 20:1 also says: "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Isaiah promises "woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink" (Isaiah 5:22). Furthermore, in the first two chapters of the book of Daniel, Daniel is blessed with the power to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar's dreams in part due to his choice to honor the covenant he had made with the Lord and refrain from consuming the king's wine [2]. Clearly, there is considerable scriptural basis (setting aside any scriptures BESIDES the Bible) to justify religious prohibition on the consumption of alcohol, in excess at the very least if not completely.
    • Although the Bible mentions cleanliness several times, you won't find a single verse that actually says, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."
      • Or "God helps those who help themselves." The original was from Greek polytheism, and in Christianity it's a massive Broken Aesop. (The phrase was actually said by Benjamin Franklin, who certainly helped himself.)
    • Another: "Spare the rod [and] spoil the child" is by Samuel Butler; the closest the Bible gets is "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." (Prov 13:24)
    • "No rest for the weary/wicked." is probably a corruption of Isaiah 57:21 "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
    • Nowhere does anyone say "The lion shall lie down with the lamb"; Isaiah 11:6 runs:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.

  • None of St Paul's letters say "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"; the quote is from St Ambrose: si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi ("if you are in Rome, live in the Roman way; if you are elsewhere, live as they do there."
  • "I Am Legion" does not appear in most translations. The actual line is "My name is Legion". (Mark 5:9)
  • And in some versions its "My names are Legion".
  • While Luke's version simply says "Legion", with "there were many demons" given as explanation.
  • The number of magoi that come to visit the baby Jesus is never explicitly mentioned, but many think that it was three, perhaps because they offered three types of gifts. "Magi" referred to a Mediterranean perception of Zoroastrians (Persian monotheists who follow the prophet Zarathustra and the god Ahura Mazda) as skilled astrologers who could control the fates.
  • KJV gets yet another wrong with Luke 2:14 - it reads "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men," when it should actually be saying something like "on Earth peace towards men of good will," or maybe "of His good will" - in any event, the sentiment is not that all men get peace, but only those in God's favor. Many translations, of course, get this right, but they're not the ones everyone quotes.
  • The KJV version of this verse is an accurate, literal translation from the Latin Vulgate. One might be able to argue that the Vulgate is not an accurate translation from the original Greek, but that's not the KJV's fault.
  • One that's not only a misquote, but also somewhat changes the meaning, 1 Corinthians 15:32 is often misquoted as, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die," when it's actually, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." The former implies the line is about the uncertainty of the future, that you should make the best of it because you don't know what's going to happen. The latter, however, implies the line is about the certainty of death, subtly changing the meaning to, "make the best of it, because you won't be here forever."
  • This is often further misquoted as "Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die". This is a blending of the verse with Ecclesiastes 8:15 "Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun."
  • Ever read the Book of Revelations? Everyone's at least heard of it, right? Wrong. There is no Book of Revelations anywhere in the Bible. There is only the Book of Revelation, singular (full title: "The Revelation of St. John the Divine", also called "Apocalypse" from Greek Apokalypsis, "lifting the veil".
    • Other book titles are also a bit confused—e.g. Deuteronomy comes from the Greek for "second law", a mistranslation of mishneh ha-torah ha-zoth, "a copy of this law", while Psalms is from the Greek Ψαλμοί Psalmoi, "music of the lyre" or "songs sung to a harp", which is pretty different from the Hebrew Tehillim ("praises").
  • Although the Bible does say "Do not judge" it is taken out of a larger context telling people how to judge. The most popular reference is in Mathew: "7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged," which goes on to say, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." This doesn't mean "don't judge anyone ever, just "don't be a hypocrite". Elsewhere Jesus commands his followers to judge: John 7:24 "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly."
  • The Bible never says "hate the sin, love the sinner." This is actually a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. Contrary to this, the Bible says: Proverbs 23:7 "Or for as he thinks within himself, so he is."
    • Before Gandhi said it, it was St. Augustine of Hippo. "Love the sinner and hate the sin" is a translation of Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which is from Opera Omnia, Vol II. Col. 962, letter 211.
    • On the other hand, the Book of Proverbs is in the Old Testament, and if there is any message with which Jesus could agree more than "hate the sin, love the sinner," I challenge you to find it. In the New Testament, please.
      • It's not so much the "love the sinner" part that Jesus might disagree with, it's "hate the sin." While Jesus certainly commands people to avoid sin, avoiding something is not the same as hating it. (If you avoid chocolate cake because you're trying to lose weight, that doesn't mean you hate chocolate cake.)
        • Depends on the connotation of the word "hate". A word in Greek or Latin that means "avoid" or "refrain from" can sometimes be translated into English, albeit loosely, as "hate". Even if the sentiment of "hate the sin, love the sinner" is not expressly stated in the New Testament, it can nevertheless be inferred from the rest of Jesus' teachings, which is probably where St. Augustine got it from. Proverbs 23:7 can easily be interpreted as explaining the psychological effect that rationalizing sin has upon onself, rather than having anything to do with justifying casting judgement upon others.
  • The Bible never says "all sins are equal". Although it says all sins lead to death, the Bible is clear that there are different levels of sin. John 19:11 "Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." Also made apparent by the fact that there exists an unpardonable sin (Mat 12:31).
  • The line, "God moves in mysterious ways" never appears once in any form in the Bible. It is, rather, taken from a popular hymn, "God Moves In A Mysterious Way," by William Cowper, 1774.
  • The line, "To err is human; to forgive, divine" is one where the phraseology is correct, but not the use - err in context means sin.
  • The phrase "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime" and its variants is often mistakenly attributed to the Bible.
  • Triumph's song, "Fight the Good Fight," attributes "better to give than to receive" to the Bible ("the Good Book"). Almost right;
    • Acts 20:35 - "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’"
  • The Bible does not forbid masturbation. The only time it is mentioned is when Onan in Genesis 38 "spills his seed" by not giving his brother a rightful heir and is struck down. He was struck down because he did not give his brother a rightful heir, not because he "spilt his seed". There are also those who think Onan probably spilled his seed by coitus interruptus, not masturbation.
    • Pretty obviously a reference to pulling out. The full quotation is: "And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother." Take a wild guess as to what "went in unto his brother's wife" means. The passage is most likely an exhortation to honor levirate marriages, arguably about contraception, but certainly nothing to do with masturbation.
    • Matthew 5:28 - "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Whoever look upon a woman with lust has committed adultery against his own wife. Pretty irrelevant to masturbation in most interpretations.
      • Only if one is masturbating purely for the sake of enjoying the sensation of an orgasm, and not with pornography or at the very least dirty thoughts in mind, which, while I can't speak for anyone else…
    • The media has always repeated Jesus' lesson in John 8:7, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." It actually says, "He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her."
  • The Koran doesn't clearly state anywhere that martyrs will get 72 virgins.
  • Quick, what are the four horsemen of the apocalypse? Under most translations, the first one is Conquest, not Pestilence.
    • And is often associated with the Antichrist/the Beast from the Sea. The only mention of pestilence in these passages is with the (fourth) rider on the pale horse, who is generally identified as Death.
    • In fact, Death is the only Horseman explicitly given a name in the text. The other three are commonly known as War, Famine, and Conquest because of what they're described as carrying or doing.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Star Trek: The Game, one of the trivia questions is to name an episode in which Kirk said the exact phrase "Beam me up, Scotty." It is a trick question and if the player names an episode, the player's ship loses an engine.
  • The classic Dungeons & Dragons Ruined FOREVER forum post is "My hate of d02 know no limit". Not "my hat of d02 know no limit".


Theater[edit | hide]

  • There are a few Shakespearean examples of this.
    • "Lead on, Macduff", which is a common misquotation of Macbeth's "Lay on, Macduff", often used in a completely different context from how it is used in the play. Macbeth is challenging Macduff to attack him in the final scene, threatening that it will be no holds barred. Macduff then fights Macbeth, killing him off-stage.
    • Also, Lady Macbeth never actually says Out, out damn spot!.
    • Also from Hamlet, Queen Gertrude never said "Methinks the lady doth protest too much," partly because it doesn't match the iambic pentameter verse structure. It was actually "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Which isn't terribly different but is certainly drier.
      • Not to mention that it means something mostly different than what people think it means ("protest" means "talk", not "speak against" or "complain".)
      • Further ironic because when quoted, it's usually (in This Troper's experience) either to claim someone is being defense or to paint someone as a Straw Misogynist. In the play, it was a woman who said it and she was the defensive one.
    • Although Hamlet undoubtedly "knew him well", he never said so of Yorick in so many words.

Hamlet: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it.

  • Of all things, Highlander 2 got this right, you can hear the people in the theatre getting started on that scene before Connery Reborn pops into existence.
  • Also, this scene in which he is holding Yorick's skull is completely separate from the "To be or not to be" soliloquy earlier in the play where he holds no skull.
  • And while we're on "To be or not to be," most people get the words right, but are so far off on the tone of voice that it loses its meaning. Hamlet is at that point contemplating suicide, not something normally done in a loud and powerful voice with raised fist.
  • Also, "more honored in the breach than in the observance" actually means "it is more honourable not to do it", not "it is rarely done".
  • Also from Hamlet, Polonius is often quoted as saying, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be, but to thine own self be true." That quote comes from two different sentences in the scene where he is giving advice to Laertes.
  • It should also be noted that "To thine own self be true" is most likely not quite as noble as it may seem. In context, it can be more accurately be rendered as "Don't stoop below your station" or "Remember and honor your nobility," rather than "Be yourself."
  • And another thing, Horatio says "Good-night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest", not "a flight of angels".
  • Macbeth: "Double, double toil and trouble.", not "Bubble bubble" or "Hubble, bubble". If nothing else, they rhyme it with "bubble" in the next line, so it'd be a pretty lazy rhyme.
  • Also, they used toe of frog, not toad. Though they threw a whole toad in there too.
  • Prospero from The Tempest has a line that is frequently misquoted as "the stuff that dreams are made of." He is actually talking about the transience of human life, and the line goes: "We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep."
  • That misquote may have originated in the movie The Maltese Falcon, and its final two lines:

Detective Tom Polhaus (holding the Maltese Falcon): Heavy. What is it?
Sam Spade: The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.

  • "Romeo, Romeo... Wherefore art thou Romeo?" Not a misquote but a common misinterpretation; it doesn't mean "Where are you, Romeo?" but "Why are you Romeo?" i.e., "Why is it the one named Romeo Montague that I love?" This one is so firmly ingrained (by a million comedy skits that have Romeo replying "I'm down here!") that when David Beckham named his son Romeo, one British newspaper felt it had to alter the quote to ask WHY FOR ART THOU ROMEO? Poor dears thought they were punning. The dating website OK Cupid uses this as a shibboleth to help theater and literature nerds find each other.
  • "A rose by any other name smells just as sweet." - it's actually: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet."
  • King John: "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily" was shortened to "gild[ing] the lily", which makes less sense.
  • Which may or may not be the point.
  • Doesn't exactly fit, but an example in the same vein, from Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent / made glorious summer by this sun of York" - it means "Our winter of discontent has now been ended by this sun [son] of York". "Now is the winter of our discontent" is often used or cited on its own as a complete thought, to express sorrow, even though it of course makes no sense in the context of the play or even the full sentence.
  • Julius Caesar: "Stand on ceremony" is used to mean "be ceremonious and formal", when it actually means "pay attention to omens and portents", which when you think about it, makes "stand on" make more sense.
  • Twelfth Night: "If music be the food of love, play on" is quoted a fair bit, without the next part, "Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,/The appetite may sicken, and so, die." It's not a cheery request for more music to arouse more love, it's an order/prescription for an emotional purgative: give me enough to make me (metaphorically) throw up and stop being in love.
  • The Winters Tale: The "most famous piece of stage direction in history" is "Exit, Pursued by a Bear", not "Exit stage left, pursued by a bear". Perhaps people are mixing up Shakespeare and Snagglepuss?
  • William Congreve's play, The Mourning Bride said "Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast", not "beast".
  • Also, "Hell hath no fury like a Woman Scorned" is actually "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned."
  • In East Lynne, Lady Isabel does not say, "Dead -- and never called me mother!" (This would be erroneous, since "Mother" is her son's last word as he dies in her arms.) The actual line in the play is, "See here -- my child is dead! and never knew that I was his mother." (The novel that the play was based on had no similar line; neither did a different stage adaptation.)
    • The misquote was popularised by The Goon Show which used it as a Running Gag; in one episode Neddie Seagoon actually calls it "an exerpt from East Lynne".
  • In You Can't Take It with You, Kolenkhov never says "Confidentially, it stinks," though he more than once says "it stinks" and once, in reference to Essie, says, "Confidentially, she stinks."
    • It doesn't help that parodists often distort the line further, to "Confidentially, this stinks!"
  • Not once in Gypsy is June and Louise's mother called "Momma Rose."
    • Though, in real life, after June had run off, Louise performed with other girls in acts titled "Madame Rose's Debutantes" and "Madame Rose and Her Dancing Daughters".


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Teen Talk Barbie (released 1992) was preloaded with 4 of 270 possible phrases, one of which was "Math class is tough!", not "Math is hard" or "Math is too hard, let's go shopping!", and only 1.5% of the dolls even said "Math class is tough!"


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Dawn of War: Soulstorm, there are two major instances of this among fans. Indrick Boreale did say "SPESS MEHREHNS" and "WEEE HAVE FAILED THE EMPRAH", but not in one sentence. Vance Stubs only misplaced 100 giant tanks that can wipe out entire armies single handedly; he did not lose them.
  • Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters:
    • Mai Shiranui doesn't say "Me bouncy!" or "Me boingy!" when she wins a fight; she says "Nippon Ichi!" ("Japan's No. 1!") The pneumatic pninja is describing herself, not making a statement about her country. It's more (I'm) Japan's No 1 (whatever). In an episode of Urusei Yatsura, Momotaro carries a banner with the same slogan, and it's just a reference to his very good grades and popularity...
    • In a similar vein, Geese Howard never actually says "I strain my hams with your bra" in any of the Fatal Fury, Real Bout or KOF games. The line actually originates from the SNK vs. Capcom series. Unfortunately, its also become an irritating case of Never Live It Down as well.
  • Metal Gear:
    • While a lower-grade, more obscure variant, Rose never accused Raiden of having a room that was 'empty like your soul' in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The misquote was popularised by the webcomic VG Cats and is quoted more often than the (not quite as stupid) real line, "A lifeless room...almost like your empty heart."
    • Another, much more common Metal Gear misquote is "Snake? Snake?! SNAAAAAAKE!!!", which never actually happens in any of the games when you get a Game Over. Instead, it's things like "Snake, what happened? Snake? SNAAAAAAAKE!", which of course gets the same idea across, but isn't just "SNAKE" three times.
    • One that's rather widespread on this very wiki: After you beat Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater once and unlock the Patriot, equip it and call Sigint, Snake explains why it has infinite ammunition. He does not say the magazine is shaped like an infinity symbol, he says its internal feeding mechanism is.
  • "Welcome to Corneria" from Eight Bit Theater, while the original line in Final Fantasy I was "Coneria, the city of dreams" (also note there is only one r, thought that's more a case of Spell My Name with an "S").
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • People seem to have a habit of quoting the Mushroom Retainers' line from Super Mario Bros as "Sorry, Mario, but our princess is in another castle!", when it's "Thank you, Mario! But our princess is in another castle!" Sometimes it's misremembered as "your princess".
    • Waluigi has never actually said "Too bad, Waluigi time". That line comes from the Brawl in the Family comics.
    • Similarly, "What's-a going on here?", a phrase stereotypically attributed to all four of the Mario and Wario brothers, has only been spoken once in any Mario game: by Waluigi in the intro of Mario Tennis.
  • Zero Wing:
    • The captain doesn't say "Launch every 'Zig'" or "Launch all 'Zig'", but rather "Take off every 'Zig'", and later "Move 'Zig'". (Capitalization is ours. The game proper's in all caps, like pretty much every game of that era.)
    • Additionally, the mechanic is frequently misquoted as saying, "Somebody set us up the bomb." The actual line was, "Somebody set up us the bomb," which is just as grammatically incorrect as the rest of the sequence. It's also "somebody set up us the bomb", not "someone set up us the bomb". This misquote originated with the synthesized voice-over from the Flash animation.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Faces of Evil, the phrase "MAH BOI!" is commonly associated with the screenshot of King Harkinian holding up a finger, that is actually during the word "for". When he actually says the phrase, it is an upper-body shot in which he holds a chalice of wine. It is also often misquoted as "LINK MAH BOI".
  • While not actual speech, several trailers for Halo 3 showed Miranda Keyes appearing to dual-wield a pistol and a shotgun. In reality, she was holding off a few Brutes with a shotgun, was about to use both, at which point Truth says that she "cannot possibly hold them off". She agrees, and drops the shotgun, preparing to use her pistol to kill both Johnson and herself to prevent Truth from activating the rings... it doesn't go as planned.
  • The phrase "Starite Get" from Scribblenauts is all over the Scribblenauts related pages on this wiki. The game actually says, "Starite Found." (It does say Merit Get, which is possibly where the confusion originated.) The phrase "Starite Get" is used in Super Scribblenauts, but not to announce a player getting a starite. It is merely a "hint" for one of the levels (and a rather unhelpful one at that.)
  • Coach from Left 4 Dead 2 is commonly viewed as someone who is not only obsessed with chocolate, due to him eating a chocolate bar in the intro and Nick teasing Coach about the escape chopper being made of chocolate. Coach never makes any reference to chocolate at all in the game. This is probably due to his visual similarities to Doc Louis from Punch-Out!!. In the Wii version Doc IS obsessed with chocolate. From the first game, on this very wiki one could find ten different versions of Bill's "if I start to turn" speech from the elevator in No Mercy. And all of them would be wrong. Oddly enough, they also always correctly write Francis' response.
  • Azuria, the Atlas Park magical contact in City of Heroes, has a reputation for allowing anyone to walk into the MAGI (in essence, the generic magical government agency) vault. She is not even in charge of the vault; that's her counterpart in Galaxy City. She is commonly the dropoff for magical storyarcs, though.
  • Giygas of EarthBound is often quoted as saying, "I... feel... h...a...p...p...y." He separately said "I... feel... g...o...o...d," and "I'm ... h...a...p...p...y", but never together as "I... feel... h...a...p...p...y..." It's also quite common to see his Madness Mantra mashed together as "nessnessnessnessnessnessnessnessnessness" etc, but each iteration of "Ness" (or whatever the player called him) is actually properly punctuated and spaced as "Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness, Ness..." etc.
  • Adachi from Persona 4 is often associated with the phrase "Bitches and Whores", though he never said it once in the game. However that does pretty much sum up his opinion on girls.
  • No one in Half-Life 2 says "We don't go to Ravenholm." The misquote is likely taken from the title of the chapter that is displayed when the player enters Ravenholm for the first time. The actual quote;

Alyx Vance: That's the old passage to Ravenholm. We don't go there anymore.

  • Many (though not all) Skyrim-based memes say "arrow to the knee" instead of "arrow in the knee".
  • In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, during a flashback mission set in Pripyat, Captain MacMillan comments on the lack of people. His line is frequently mistaken to be "Fifty-thousand people used to live here. Now it's a ghost town." That line is actually spoken by Gaz in the intro that plays when you start the game up; MacMillan's line is actually "Fifty-thousand people used to live in this city. Now it's a ghost town... I've never seen anything like it."


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Homestar Runner, Strong Sad never said "I don't like food anymore" or "Some animal died" either, despite their being two of his more quoted lines. The first one was in Strong Bad's imagination, and the second was an impression of him courtesy of Homestar respectively, though the second quote did become a Quote of the Week spoken by Strong Sad later on.
    • Also, Strong Sad never said "I'm sad that I'm flying." That was The Cheat (or possibly an actor hired by The Cheat) doing a bad impression of him.
    • However, Strong Sad DID say "I'm sad that HE'S flying," referring to The Cheat on helium.
    • One of the many recurring themes within the HSR fanbase is 1-up's pudding obsession, when the only time he ever mentioned pudding was in the April Fools 'toon Under Construction.
    • The website BMUSed itself with the Peasant's Quest movie trailer. In the trailer, the blue knight says "You don't dress like a peasant... you don't smell like a peasant... and you're certainly not on fire like a peasant!" In the game, however, he says that Rather Dashing doesn't STINK like a peasant.
      • Rather Dashing is also shown eating the meatball sub in the trailer, which isn't actually possible in the game.
    • Homsar has never said "I was raised by a cup of coffee". That was Strong Bad, doing an impression of Homsar.
  • One of the most quoted lines from 8-Bit D&D is "I cast magic missile at the darkness." Problem is, that's not actually the line; it's:

Why are you casting magic missile? There's nothing to attack here.
I'm attacking the darkness!


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • The famous line from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, "They can't grab me if I'm on fire," is meant to refer to ninjas, so it is commonly quoted as "Ninjas can't grab me if I'm on fire," which does make a little sense.
    • "Ninjas can't catch me etc" is also a very common permuation of the line.
  • Lampshaded in this Doghouse comic.
  • There's quite a lot of this in the Homestuck fandom. Karkat's solitary use of the term "fuckass" is wildly exaggerated by fans unable to duplicate the more florid profanity he favours in story, and use of the SBaHJ-isms "jegus" and "gog" by any character is through the roof, depite being respectively used sparingly and exactly once in canon.
    • Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff itself isn't immune - its most famous lines, those of the stairs comic, are frequently mishandled in quotation. Frequently, a "the" or "them" is added to "I WARNED YOU ABOUT STAIRS BRO!!!!", and the "bro" is muddled with the similar terms "dog" and "man" also used in it. It's actually pretty rare to see it (or anything else from S Ba HJ) quoted accurately.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

Phase 1 - Collect underpants [the word "Phase", not "Stage"]
Phase 2 - ? [only one question mark]
Phase 3 - Profit [no exclamation mark]

  • In The Simpsons episode "Radioactive Man", during the acid flood segment, a line given by Rainier Wolfcastle is often falsely quoted as "The goggles, they do nothing!", when the actual line is "My eyes! The Goggles Do Nothing!"
    • "Can't sleep, clown'll eat me" is misquoted in many ways, such as "Can't sleep, the clowns will eat me." This is probably due to an Alice Cooper song by that name. "can't sleep clowns will eat me."
    • Bart only said "Cowabunga!" twice in the series. Once in the 'Bart Gets an F', and again in the season 11 episode, 'Behind The Laughter', a parody episode where during the rehearsal (the premise being the Simpsons are real people, acting out the show we usually see) though upon cutting, Bart states he has never said those words in his life. "Cowabunga!" originated on Howdy Doody in the 1950s and its common usage was popularized by 1960s surfer culture, but some media still thinks "Cowabunga!" is a Bart Simpson catchphrase.
      • In the DVD commentary track to 'Bart Gets an F', even the creators are surprised the "Cowabunga" line actually got uttered by the character at all.
      • Which it is, essentially, since The Simpsons itself acknowledged this. In the 1993 episode "Bart's Inner Child," Apu imitates Bart by hotdogging on a skateboard and shouting "Cowabunga!"
      • And, for the record, Bart used the phrase on The Tracey Ullman Show.
  • "Should work with no problems" is a quote fans often attribute to Gadget from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. In fact this is an amalgam of two different quotes: "Should work", indicating that the inventress was not sure if her latest gizmo would work, and "No problems". More often than not, after the utterance of one of those the invention in question would spectacularly fall apart right after activation, which was a Running Gag in the series.
  • People often credit The Powerpuff Girls with the phrase "Girl Power!" when in actuality they never say this in the show. Lampshaded in an episode where Professor Utonium's roommate clones them. One of them says "Girl Power!" on TV, and the Professor says, "since when do you ever say girl power?" Buttercup replies nervously with "uh, yeah we say it all the time".
  • No Scooby Doo villain ever said "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids." This is a pastiche of various quotes (most called them "meddlers", not "meddling kids"), and many villains said nothing as they were carried off.
    • Though it should be noted that a few did say something to the effect of "And I would have done it too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids and their stupid dog."
    • However, they do say it in some future series.
    • According to The Other Wiki, the first time anything like it was used was in the episode "A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts", and the actual line was "I'd have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those blasted kids and that dog!".
    • Old Man Smithers/The Luna Ghost, a villain who was caught at the beginning of the 2002 movie, came very close. He said, "I would've gotten away with it too, were it not for you meddling kids and your dumb dog! I'll get you for this!"
    • One of the villains in Scooby Doo and the Alien Invaders comes very close to saying it at the end, while being arrested, but one of the cops interrupts him.
  • Two episodes of Family Guy spoof Apache Chief from the Superfriends shouting "Apache Chief! Ee! Nay! Chuck!" to activate his powers. The phrase he actually used to activate his powers is variously written as "Inukchuk," "Inyuk-Chuk," "Inekchuk" or something similar, depending on where you looked (they weren't very big on details on Superfriends, so you pretty much have to pick it up phonetically) but he clearly doesn't pause as distinctly between the first two syllables of his phrase as Family Guy suggests, and never says his own name before doing it.
    • It's worse than you think - the word is Inukshuk (ee-nook-shook) and it's Inuit, not Apache. As an adjective, it means "In man shape," which could apply to Apache Chief; as a noun, it's a stone structure in roughly human form used as a sort of northern Kilroy Was Here (also indicating a relatively safe harbour). Geological cultural graffiti turned heroic catch phrase.
  • KaBlam! a few times has been associated with a certain quote. It starts with Henry going, "June, will you help me?", and June replying, "And I would do that why!?". It was never used in the show, though it was used in a few advertisements.
  • A Memetic Mutation has a screenshot of Superman from Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (usually edited to have the features of another character, with disturbing results) with the caption "[name], I..." In the movie, Superman does not actually say that line, he is instead saying "She is my cousin".
  • The words "not three little pigs" are not actually said in Disney's Three Little Pigs cartoon. The last line is just straight instrumental.
    • In later cartoons, the pigs did elaborate the lyrics a bit, once ending with a humorously drawn-out "He's a great big sissy!"
  • Dan Backslide does say "Confound those Dover Boys!" and "They drive me to drink!", but not one after the other.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has two examples, both of which have since become official via licensed shirts but still haven't been used in the show itself.
    • The background pony dubbed "Derpy Hooves" is famously associated with muffins. However, her "line" is questionable, as two other ponies have the same mouth flap at the same time. She has since been seen wearing a saddlebag with a muffin-shaped clip, though.
      • Additionally, Derpy Hooves never delivered any mail in the show, however she is associated with delivering mail in the fandom.
    • Contrary to popular belief, the phrase "love and tolerance"/"love and tolerate" has never come up in the show. That is a meme from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha that the bronies took to.
  • Although he's commonly associated with the meme, Fry never actually said "I See What You Did There."
  • The evil queen from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs never said "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" in the Disney version, where she actually said "Magic Mirror on the Wall."
  • And Call Him George wasn't actually said word-for-word the first time Hugo the Abominable Snowman appears in a Looney Tunes short ("The Abominable Snow Rabbit," 1961). In fact, it was one of the first things Hugo said when he started squeezing Bugs and Daffy, because the original joke was how long it went on for:

Hugo: (Picks up and starts squeezing Daffy) Just what I always wanted, my own little bunny rabbit! I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him...
Daffy: (Complete deadpan even though he should have trouble breathing) I'm not a bunny rabbit.
Hugo: ...and pat him and pet him and...
Daffy: (Still deadpan) You're hurting me. Put me down, please.
Hugo: (Squeezing Daffy into a ball) ...and rub him and caress him and--
Daffy: (At the top of his lungs) I AIN'T NO BUNNY RABBIT!!


Real Life -- Politics[edit | hide]

  • "You, sir, are no Jack Kennedy." came from "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy," Lloyd Bentsen's famous putdown to Dan Quayle.
  • Eva Perón (Evita) never said "Volveré y seré millones" (I'll come back, and I'll be millions), as many Argentinians believe. It was said instead by the Aymara leader Túpac Catari. A poem by José María Castiñeira de Dios generated the confusion.
  • Kissinger never said "Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?"
  • Mahatma Gandhi's last words may have been "Hē Rām" (Hindi: "O Ram", Rama being a god), or maybe not.
    • Gandhi never said "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win." An American trade union address of 1914 ran "First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
  • General Motors CEO Charles Wilson is often quoted as saying "What is good for General Motors is good for the country," often cited as the perfect example of corporate arrogance. The fact is, he actually said "...for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa," when asked if he would be willing to take actions against the interests of GM during his confirmation hearings for being appointed Secretary of Defense.
  • Not only did Marie Antoinette never say "let them eat cake" (Qu'ils mangent de la brioche), she would likely have been horrified by the accusation, as she was deeply involved in charity work for the poor and gave a significant portion of her income to feed them (more than the rest of the French royal family combined). French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote that a "great princess" said "S'ils n'ont plus de pain, qu'ils mangent de la brioche", commonly translated as "If they have no bread, let them eat cake", when told peasants were starving, but wrote this when Marie was a child. The quote may have satirised Marie Theresa, wife of Louis XV, before it was transferred to Marie Antoinette. Note that brioche is not really cake but a rich variety of bread with a higher egg and butter content than normal bread.
    • Almost everything known in popular culture of Marie Antoinette is a lie invented by the revolutionaries to make her unpopular with the people. They went so far as to print booklets describing her supposed debaucheries with everyone from her maids to the Swiss Guards to Count Axel von Fersen, who was probably gay. It gets worse: one recent historian has discovered that after her husband was executed, they forced her to listen to her young son being molested in the next prison cell, every night until her own death.
  • The "We Will Bury You!" speech Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev gave to a group of Western politicians in 1956. Partly poor translation, partly because West-East tensions were already increasing in this stage of the Cold War, the comment was interpreted as a direct nuclear threat against the United States. The complete quote is "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig you in" (Нравится вам или нет, но история на нашей стороне. Мы вас закопаем), in reference to the common Marxist saying "The proletariat[3] is the undertaker [mortician] of capitalism". Krushchev was actually expressing the communist theory that capitalism was historically predetermined to eventually be supplanted by communism. He meant that the Soviet Union would long outlast the western powers, as in "we'll attend your funeral", not cause it. "We will still be here when they bury you!" might be more to the point.
  • Benjamin Franklin:
    • He wasn't the first to say, "Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." He may have quoted it, but it originated in 1716 with Christopher Bullock's "'Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes." Or perhaps Charles II of England: "There are three things in life that are certain, death, taxes and that it is raining in Tavistock."
    • Benjamin Franklin's supposed proverb, "The proof is in the pudding" is actually, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating", and it is a bit older than Benjamin Franklin, dating at least to 1615, when it was used in Don Quixote. Furthermore, most people don't even understand what that's meant to mean. In the above quote, the term "proof" means "test", not "evidence". Possibly the reason for the original misquote.
      • Related is not a misquote as such but a misunderstanding; "The exception proves the rule". If "proof" is interpreted in the modern sense of "demonstration to be true", this is a contradiction in terms; but the older "proof" meaning "test" is the correct interpretation. This was once lampshaded by Sherlock Holmes as "an exception disproves the rule".
      • Appropriately for the page, that's not actually true either. Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis: the exception proves that, in the cases not excepted, the rule exists. In other words, if you have to make an exception to a rule, you're admitting that the rule exists in the first place; otherwise there's no need for an exception. (For example, a sign that says "No Parking 5-10 AM On Monday" implies a rule that parking is allowed at any other time.)
        • Related to the above is Shakespeare's coining of the common English phrase "foregone conclusion", which in Shakespeare's English actually means the reverse of what it does now: "foregone" means, literally, avoided, and Shakespeare used it to mean "averted outcome", not envisioned.
    • Benjamin Franklin also did not say, or write "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." The fact that the word "lunch" hadn't yet entered the English language at his times should be a hint.
    • Another commonly mangled Franklin quote is "Those who trade liberty for security deserve neither." What Franklin actually said is: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
      • The quote did not necessarily originate with Franklin, it's an excerpt from a letter written in 1755 from the Assembly to the Governor of Pennsylvania. That said, Franklin was a prominent member of the Assembly—being a leader of the anti-proprietary party[4]—in 1755, so it's possible that it did issue from his pen.
  • British Prime Minister James 'Sunny Jim' Callaghan is commonly perceived to have been asked about the late 1970s economic crisis and responded, "Crisis? What crisis?" when he never said anything of the sort. It was actually a Sun headline. The real quote:

"Well, that's a judgment that you are making. I promise you that if you look at it from outside, and perhaps you're taking rather a parochial view at the moment, I don't think that other people in the world would share the view that there is mounting chaos."

  • The headline was probably inspired by Supertramp's 1975 album, Crisis? What Crisis?.
  • The quote "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." is often attributed to Voltaire, but he never uses this himself. Rather, it is a summation of his beliefs by Evelyn Beatrice Hall.
    • He wrote something similar in a letter: "Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write."
  • Genghis Khan never actually said "Crush your enemies! See them driven before you and hear the lamentation of the women." His actual quote was much more verbose and went into detail about the women part.
  • "After me, the deluge" is often attributed to Louis XIV and presented as a kind of worried Foreshadowing about the future decadence and destruction of the French Bourbon monarchy, further proof of what a clever statesman he was. But in reality it was said years later by Louis XV's mistress, Madame de Pompadour (though even this is disputed) and it had the exact opposite meaning: she was trying to convince her lover to not worry after the loss of France's North American colonies following the Seven Years' War, under the reasoning that whatever happened to France after them wouldn't be their business, since they wouldn't be there to see it anyway. It's also a derivation of an Ancient Greek stock phrase that translates more or less as "When I die let earth and fire mix; I don't care, since my business will not be affected".
    • Apres moi, le deluge was also chosen as the squadron motto of the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron, the famous Dambusters, in reference to their famous raid, and they cited Louis XIV as the source. They naturally meant it rather more literally.
    • There is no proof that Louis XIV of France ever said "L'état, c'est moi" (I am the State). Indeed, what he is recording as having said (as his final words, or near as) conveys the precise opposite meaning: "Je m'en vais, mais l'État demeurera toujours." ("I depart, but the State will remain forever.")
  • When portrayed in fiction, Richard Nixon will almost invariably assure anyone listening that he is not a crook. While Nixon actually did say "I am not a crook" it was actually part of a larger speech and not a standalone sentence like it's usually shown.
    • "I am not a crook" has always been how that part of the speech has been quoted in anything making fun of Nixon during Watergate and after. However, the then-president used a contraction, the relevant part of the speech going: "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."
  • The song, "Mao Tse Tung Said" by Alabama 3 and the original speeches by the person Alabama 3 sampled, Jim Jones, would have you believe Mao Zedong said "change must come through the barrel of a gun." Mao actually said "Every Communist must grasp the truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."
  • Norman Tebbit did not actually say "on yer bike". It was actually:

I grew up in the '30s with an unemployed father. He didn't riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking 'til he found it.

  • Paul Revere is quoted as having ridden through town shouting, "The British are coming!" In reality, (1) his mission depended on secrecy - passing a message privately to one person he could trust in each town was a lot better than alerting nearby British troops that a resistance was planned; (2) Many colonial residents saw themselves as British people at the time.
    • Because many of the people still saw themselves as British, they were referred to as the "Regulars", not the "British".
    • Perhaps in an attempt to rectify this somewhat, Paul Revere is sometimes depicted as shouting "The Redcoats are coming," referring to the color of the British soldier's uniforms.
  • Gen. Philip Sheridan is sometimes quoted as saying, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." The earliest version is actually, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead" and Sheridan denied having even said that.
  • "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely" was actually derived from a statement by Lord Acton: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
  • Nathan Bedford Forest never said "git thar fustest with the mostest" he said the essence of strategy was "to git thar fust with the most men."
  • Confederate Civil War General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson is often said to have gained his nickname by General Barnard Bee saying at the First Battle of Manassas (also called the First Battle of Bull Run): "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Rally around the Virginians!" However, some accounts have Bee saying, "Why is Jackson standing there like a damned stone wall?". No one was able to ask him later, as he died that afternoon.
  • Queen Victoria never said "We are not amused." (Which didn't stop Rose of Doctor Who from trying to get that phrase out of her anyway. Maybe she didn't know that... or maybe she did and was trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.)
    • In fact, Her Majesty once wrote in her diary "We are VERY MUCH amused!" Yes, with those capitals.
    • She did once say something similar - to a courtier who was telling a dirty joke in the presence of a group of young children. And she wasn't using the "royal we", by "we are not amused", she meant "The courtiers and I are not amused." The idea that she was constantly gloomy comes both from the fact that she spent many years in mourning after her husband died and from the fact that having one's picture taken was considered a very serious matter, and people normally didn't smile in photos (Beyond decorum, photographic plates of that era required a very long exposure. A good photograph required a pose and expression that the subject could hold for long periods). Even then there are more pictures of Victoria laughing than of all nine of her children combined.
    • Although given that nobody followed Victoria around with a tape recorder how can anyone possibly know whether or not she once used this exact wording.
      • It does seem an awfully normal phrase, so it is entirely possible she used those words at some point, but not in the context they are associated with.
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was mistranslated as "Israel must be wiped off the face of the map"; it was actually, "The regime which is occupying Jerusalem should vanish from the pages of time." Whether the mistranslation was deliberate or not is unknown. Either way, it changes the emphasis, making clear that Ahmedinejad's beef is with the Israeli regime rather than than the people who live there (which is fairly standard Islamist rhetoric. on the subject).
  • Emma Goldman was quoted on a T-shirt, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution," but actually said the more verbose:

At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha [Alexander Berkman], a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause. I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everyboy's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world--prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.

  • "Whenever I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my revolver." is probably Hermann Goering's most (in)famous saying. But it actually comes from the play Schlageter, written by Hanns Johst and first performed for Hitler's birthday in 1933. Its original form is "Wenn ich Kultur höre... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" - "When I hear 'culture' ... I remove the safety from my Browning!" Note that a Browning is not a revolver, but a magazine-fed semi-automatic pistol. It may have been chosen to pun on the English poet Robert Browning.
  • "If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve." by William Tecumseh Sherman - who actually said "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."
  • Coolidge said "After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.", usually shortened to the less meaningful "The business of America is business."
  • The famous speech by Chief Seattle "How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? [...] The end of living and the beginning of survival." was invented in 1971 by screenwriter Ted Perry for the movie Home.
  • Otto von Bismarck is said to have said "To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making." The earliest such quote is in 1869 by John Godfrey Saxe, who said, "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."
    • Bismarck also never said, "A language is a dialect with a navy" (to explain, for example, why Spanish and Portuguese are seen as two languages but Tuscan and Sicilian are one). The linguist Max Weinreich or his student Joshua Fishman said in Yiddish, A shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot - "A language is a dialect with an army and navy."
  • Socrates is frequently quoted as complaining that

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in lace of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

However, this was actually attributed to him by Gijsbert van Hall, mayor of Amsterdam in the 1960s. There are somewhat similar complaints in Plato and Hesiod, but not the above paragraph.
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. never said "shouting fire in a crowded theater". With reference to the restriction of free speech, he said

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

  • "Only the dead have seen the end of war." is often attributed to Plato, but it's actually not recorded before its 1924 use by George Santayana. It's believed to have been been misattributed to Plato by the British Imperial War Museum. The popularity of this misconception within the U.S. military stems from General Douglas MacArthur attributing the quote to Plato during his farewell address at West Point in 1962.
  • François Guizot famously said "Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head." (referring to mid-19th century French republicanism) It's been often changed to conservative/liberal or communist/capitalist, and attributed to many, including Otto von Bismarck and Winston Churchill (very unlikely, as Churchill crossed from Conservative to Liberal aged 30, then went back to the Conservative Party aged 50).
  • British Conservative leader (and later Prime Minister) David Cameron never exhorted people to "hug a hoodie." The closest excerpts from his July 2006 speech are:

Because the fact is that the hoodie is a response to a problem, not a problem in itself. We - the people in suits - often see hoodies as aggressive, the uniform of a rebel army of young gangsters. But, for young people, hoodies are often more defensive than offensive. They're a way to stay invisible in the street. In a dangerous environment the best thing to do is keep your head down, blend in, don't stand out. For some, the hoodie represents all that's wrong about youth culture in Britain today. For me, adult society's response to the hoodie shows how far we are from finding the long-term answers to put things right. [...] So when you see a child walking down the road, hoodie up, head down, moody, swaggering, dominating the pavement - think what has brought that child to that moment.

  • "I have seen the future, and it works." derives from Lincoln Steffens' 1921 statement on the Soviet Union: "I have been over into the future, and it works."
  • Abraham Lincoln never said, "As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless." The quote was published 20 years after Honest Abe's death, and his secretary immediately denounced it as a fraud. But it was used a lot in the 1896 presidential election, and came to be seen as fact.
  • A.E. Housman never wrote: "We were soldiers once, and young", or even anything closely approximating it.
  • There's no record of George Orwell saying, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." The closest thing he actually wrote was: "Those who 'abjure' violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."
  • Famous lines never said by Winston Churchill:
    • "Don't talk to me about naval tradition. The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash."; his personal secretary, Anthony Montague-Browne, said that although Churchill did not say this, he wished he had.
    • Speaking of Churchill, he never said "I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat and tears." The quote was shortened from the less memorable, "I have nothing to offer but blood and toil, tears and sweat." Even historians get this one wrong.
    • Churchill also never said "We shall fight them on the beaches", it was:

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. Even though large parts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.

  • Very few people know that it's actually a quote partially taken from George Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France during the First World War:

"The Germans may take Paris, but that will not prevent me from going on with the war. We will fight on the Loire, we will fight on the Garronne, we will fight even in the Pyrenees. And if at last we are driven off the Pyrenees, we will continue the war at sea."

  • Also, someone once wrote to The Strand magazine complaining that someone had ended a sentence with a preposition. Somebody commented in reply, "This is nonsense up with which I will not put," often attributed to Churchill but it almost certainly wasn't him. This misattribution may originally owe to the simple expedient that the kind of Know-Nothing Know-It-All who still insists on following this "rule" decades after it was thoroughly discredited as an artificial construct with less bearing on how English is actually used than Japanese verb conjugation would be more swayed by a sentence constructed to prove its absurdity if it comes from someone known for eloquent, moving speeches than from some random person writing to a magazine.
  • "Any man who is under thirty (or twenty) and is not a liberal has no heart, and any man who is over thirty (or forty) and is not a conservative has no brain."
  • "He is a modest man, with much to be modest about." (supposedly said with regard to his deputy and later successor as Prime Minister, Clement Attlee.)
  • "An empty car pulled up in front of Downing Street this morning, and Clement Attlee got out."
  • In Germany, the quote "I'll never believe in a statistic I haven't forged myself" or paraphrases thereof is almost always associated with Churchill, and many Germans react surprised when Anglophones have never heard of it. That's because that line was attributed to Churchill by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, in an attempt to downplay casualty reports broadcasted to Germany by the BBC. This background faded out of public consciousness, and today it's often cited to emphasize the arbitrariness of statistics, similar to Twains "Lies, damned lies and statistics". That the snarkiness of the quote actually fit with Churchill's public perception probably helped.
  • The Duke of Wellington did not describe the Battle of Waterloo as "A damn close run thing", but as "a damn nice thing-the nearest run thing you ever saw."
    • Which, as anyone who has read Good Omens will know, is probably using "nice" in its less well-known sense of "requiring great precision".
  • Queen Elizabeth I's final words were supposedly "All my possessions for a moment of time", but there's no contemporaneous record of this. It was probably inspired by Shakespeare's Richard III: "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!"
    • Which itself is purely an invention of Shakespeare's, Richard himself never said anything like it.
    • Elizabeth said nothing at all during the last several days of her life. She communicated with her attendents with signs. She was very old for her era and the opinion of those around was that she hastened her death by refusing to follow medical advice. (Then, again, medical practices of the day being what they were, she may have simply decided that medical advice was useless.)
  • The famous British newspaper headline "FOG IN CHANNEL; CONTINENT CUT OFF" hasn't been found in any archive and is probably apocryphal.
  • How many of the car owners with "Well-behaved women rarely make history" bumper stickers are aware that the quote: 1-originated in an article by historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, 2-was originally "Well-behaved women seldom make history," and 3-was a comment justifying the lack of information about the lives of Puritan women in colonial New England?
  • Andrew Jackson supposedly said, "To the victors [belong] the spoils." to justify handing out political offices to his cronies. The real version was said by William Marcy: "When they are contending for victory, they avow their intention of enjoying the fruits of it. ... They see nothing wrong in the rule that to the victor belongs the spoils."
  • Adm. Yamamoto is quoted as saying "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve"; actually he said nothing like it, except "A military man can scarcely pride himself on having 'smitten a sleeping enemy'; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack."
    • The "Sleeping Giant" quote is actually from the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! which is where everyone remembers it from, even though the historical Yamamoto never actually said it.
  • Nelson's last words are given as "Kismet, Hardy" (kismet being Persian for "fate") or "Kiss me, Hardy". He did say the latter, and Flag Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy did kiss him, but his last words were actually. "Thank God, I have done my duty ... drink, drink ... fan, fan ... rub, rub", as he called for the men to ease his thirst, heat and pain.
  • William T. Sherman is often quoted as saying "War is hell." He said something like it to the graduating Class of 1879 at Michigan Military Academy, but there's multiple accounts of exactly what he said:
    • "You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!"
    • "There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all Hell."
    • "Some of you young men think that war is all glamor and glory, but let me tell you, boys, it is all Hell!"
  • Gaius Julius Caesar never said "Et tu, Brute?" when he was stabbed to death in the Senate. We can thank Shakespeare for that one. Contemporary sources report that he said "Kai su, teknon?", which is Greek for "You too, my son?", since the Romans often spoke Greek in the Senate because it was the common language of the empire (Latin was the local language and at the time was only spoken in Rome and the surrounding areas). Other sources report that he said nothing. This may have been because of the nature of his wounds, which damaged his respiratory system. However something had to have been his last words and if he had seen Brute at the beginning of the attack it makes sense that he would have said that when he saw him and spent the rest of the attack silent.
    • The Rome TV series plays with this. Caesar tries to talk when he is dying but he can't. Later, when Brutus' mother joins those who are asking him to leave the city, Brutus replies her with a "You too, Mother?"
  • Sarah Palin never said, "I can see Russia from my house." That was Tina Fey parodying Palin, who had actually said, "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska." Which is actually true, although the island in question has a population of less than 150 and it doesn't give her foreign policy experience like she was trying to claim.
  • Edmund Burke never said "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."; it was "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
  • The Conservative prime minister Harold Macmillan, when asked to name the greatest difficulty facing a PM, said: "The opposition of events." This was changed to "events, dear boy, events", by persons unknown.
  • G.W. Bush didn't say "...the terrorists have won", or "...then the terrorists win". The meme originates from the comments of Frank Pierson after he refused to postpone the Oscar ceremonies following 9/11:

If we give in to fear, if we aren't able to do these simple and ordinary things, the terrorists have won the war.

  • Edward VII did not offer the in-depth commentary on unemployment, "Something must be done." A journalist made it up.
  • Charlie Haughey did not refer to the Malcolm MacArthur case as "grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented" (GUBU), but said, "It was a bizarre happening, an unprecedented situation, a grotesque situation, an almost unbelievable mischance."
  • Niccolò Machiavelli never said, "The ends justify the means", but the far more moderate and reserved (and Magnificent Bastard-ish) "One must consider the final result.", as well as "[If the monarch is careful to preserve the State] the means will always be esteemed, honored and applauded by everyone".
    • The Roman poet Ovid wrote in around 10 BC: "Exitus acta probat," which is usually translated as "the ends justify the means."
    • Napoleon Bonaparte popularized it by saying "the ends justifies the means" while trying to quote Machiavelli.
  • Pauline Kael never said, "I can't believe Nixon won. Nobody I know voted for him." The actual quote is

I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken. But sometimes when I'm in a theater I can feel them.

  • In one of the first debates in the 2004 USA Presidential Election, John Kerry listed the handful of countries that made up George W. Bush's "grand coalition" fighting in Iraq when the war began: Great Britain, Australia, and the United States. Bush's first response was "Well, actually, he forgot Poland", which was eventually warped into the "You forgot Poland" meme.
    • Kerry did say "Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." But he was referring to the lack of foreign policy education of George Bush, not anyone serving in Iraq, as his campaign was centered on having chosen to serve in a war he disagreed with.
  • A similarly damaging quote attributed to "elitist liberals" was "The people are just too damn dumb to understand!" attributed to New Dealer Harry Hopkins, supposedly attacking critics of the New Deal. He actually said "You know some people make fun of people who speak a foreign language, and dumb people criticise something they do not understand..." making it more of a Take That against the type of people who would misinterpret his remarks.
  • Thatcher did say "there is no such thing as society", but quoted in context it's a lot less evil-sounding:

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

  • Enoch Powell's notorious 1968 speech on immigration does not actually feature the precise expression "rivers of blood". He instead quotes Virgil, who saw "the River Tiber foaming with much blood".
  • "We are going to build the Tories out of London." Attributed to Herbert Morrison, but no evidence that he said it.
  • Hartley Shawcross didn't say, "We are the masters now." It was "We are the masters at the moment and shall be for some considerable time."
  • The Duke of Wellington never said "The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton." The historian Nevill records that, decades after Waterloo, Wellington saw a cricket match in Eton and remarked,

There grows the stuff that won Waterloo.

  • Deng Xiaoping never said, "To get rich is glorious."
  • "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic." - Despite the general misconception, Joseph Stalin never said that. The quote, in fact, is the final line of chapter eight of The Black Obelisk (1956) by Erich Maria Remarque. A very similar saying appears in Kurt Tucholsky's satirical work, The French Witticism, from almost thirty years earlier.
    • Stalin is also sometimes credited with "death solves all problems. There is a person - there is a problem. No person - no problem". This is in fact from a novel Children of Arbat by A. Ribakov.
  • While it's true that he had a poor view of political opponents and said as much, ("idiot Romanov" and "windbag Kerensky"), there is no record of Lenin or Stalin using the term "useful idiot" (polyezniy idiot) to describe Western communists. Its earliest known usage is in a 1948 New York Times article on Italian politics.
  • Karl Marx never actually said "Religion is the opiate of the masses." The correct quote is "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
    • Not to mention that opium was more than an addictive and dangerous drug—it was the source of fantastic visions of the "opium eaters", a painkiller used in medicine, and a treatment for cholera.
  • Ronald Reagan never said ketchup was a vegetable.
  • George W. Bush never said "a lot of our imports come from other countries". The actual phrase was "a lot of our imports come from overseas", i.e. countries other than Canada and Mexico.
  • Although Martin Luther King, Jr. did say, "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate:only love can do that.", he never said, "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." That quote comes from Facebooker Jessica Dovey, and she made it plain in her original status which part was the actual MLK quote. Too bad that Facebook status copy/pasters can't interpret punctuation.
  • The phrase "I'd rather die standing up than living on my knees". Many have been the people who have been quoted to its creation: Emiliano Zapata, Benito Juárez, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, etc.
  • British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain never said "Peace in our time". What he did say however was "Peace for our time".
  • Al Gore did NOT say he invented the Internet. His actual statement became, through Memetic Mutation and political opposition, Al Gore, inventor of the Internet.
    • The actual statement: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system." It's abundantly clear to anyone listening that he wasn't claiming credit for literally creating the internet, but for rather spearheading the funding that helped develop the technology that made the internet possible. And it turns out, he did just what he claimed.
  • The United States Constitution never uses the phrase "separation of church and state." It was actually Thomas Jefferson who referred to the Constitution itself as "a wall of separation..."
    • That being said, the fact that the exact phrase "separation of church and state" is not in the Constitution does not mean that the concept is absent from the document, as some like to argue. The First Amendment reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" - basically the same idea, if in less explicit terms - and the Supreme Court (whose word on the Constitution is basically canon, considering that interpreting the Constitution is their job) have interpreted that phrase in light of Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation" quote and other quotes by the Founding Fathers making clear their lack of desire to bring religion into government and vice versa. Theocratic types tend to run with the fact that the Constitution doesn't include that particular phrase, thinking that means that writing religion into law is constitutional. No, it isn't.
      • This was a contentious issue when the Constitution was written and ratified-Patrick Henry felt that the Constitution as written would still allow for such government support of religion.
  • Ethan Allen, HERO OF THE REVOLUTION! never said "In the Name of the Great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!" when he defeated the British commander in upstate New York. He actually said "Come on out of there, you Damned old Rat." In any case, as one historian noted, He had a commission from neither one.
  • After the Battle of Lake Erie during the war of 1812 U.S. Naval Master Commandant (the equivalent of the current rank of commander) Oliver Hazard Perry sent a famous battle report to Major General (and future president) William Henry Harrison that is often misquoted as "We Have Met the enemy and he is us". However Perry report actually said "We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop." We can probably thank Pogo creator Walt Kelly for the misquote as he used it first as an attack against McCarthyism and later as an Earth Day slogan.
  • Bill Clinton never said "It's the economy, stupid!" Said phrase was adapted from James Carville's (Bill Clinton's campaign manager) sign (during Clinton's campaign), which displayed the following:
    • Change vs. more of the same
    • The economy, stupid
    • Don't forget health care
  • One of the most famous quotes from Nazism and therefor Adolf Hitler goes like "Do you want total war, or do you want total radical war?"
    • The real quote went instead: "Do you want total war? If necessary, do you want a war more total and radical than anything that we can even imagine today?"
    • Also, Hitler never held the speech at all. Goebbels did.


Real Life -- Sports[edit | hide]

  • NHL coach Jim Schoenfeld is often quoted as saying in a confrontation with referee Don Koharski, "Have another doughnut, you fat pig!" The actual quote was "Good, because you fell, you fat pig! Have another doughnut! Have another doughnut!", as Koharski had slipped on the floor during the confrontation but believed Schoenfeld had pushed him (he hadn't, hence the quote).
  • The definitive rallying cry among African-Americans during The Vietnam War protesting the draft was "No VC ever called me "nigger"!" made famous by Muhammad Ali. In reality, he said, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong; they never called me nigger."
    • The confusion might be due to a Black Panther character in a scene in the 1994 film version of Forrest Gump, who holds up a sign saying exactly that (perhaps as a Shout-Out).
  • Eric Cantona's post-kung fu kick statement was "When the seagulls follow trawler [sic], it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much." Very often misquoted with "fish" in place of "sardines"
  • "Football isn't a matter of life or death, it's much more important than that." wasn't said by Bill Shankly. He actually said "Someone said 'football is more important than life and death to you' and I said 'Listen, it's more important than that'."
  • Howard Cosell is often quoted as saying "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning" in reaction to an aerial shot of a five alarm fire in the Bronx during Game 2 of the 1977 World Series. (The supposed quote was further popularized by its use as the title of a book and subsequent ESPN miniseries.) However, while Cosell did comment on the fire during ABC's telecast of the game, saying that no one was injured as a result, he never actually said "The Bronx is burning".
  • Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi never said "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing". The quote was actually said by UCLA Bruins football coach Red Sanders.
  • The phrase "The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field" was never spoken by NFL Films narrator John Facenda; it comes from Chris Berman's imitation of him.


Real Life -- Other[edit | hide]

  • "Not a lot of people know that" or "not many people know that" is a line frequently attributed to Michael Caine, but actually originates from a Peter Sellers impression of him on Parkinson:

"Not many people know that." This is my Michael Caine impression. You see, Mike's always quoting from the Guinness Book of Records. At the drop of a hat he'll trot one out. "Did you know that it takes a man in a tweed suit five and a half seconds to fall from the top of Big Ben to the ground? Now there's not many people who know that!"

  • According to Caine, also on Parkinson, Sellers also used his Caine impression, and "Not many people know that" as his answerphone message, "So everyone who phoned him heard me saying 'not many people know that'!"
  • Caine did, however, say "Not many people know that" in Educating Rita, but that was an in-joke because everyone thought he said it.
  • Similarly "And... why not?" wasn't originally said by Barry Norman, but from impressions of him on Spitting Image.
  • Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, is often claimed to have said "I don't see any God up here" during his space flight. Another common attribution is "The Earth was blue, but there was no God." Both versions and their many variants are a favorite of Hollywood Atheists, are listed in many quote repositories, and used in works such as Metal Gear Solid 3--but Yuri Gagarin never said either of them. In fact, the former was actually the words of Nikita Khrushchev, said during a speech on the progress of the USSR's anti-religious propaganda machine. The latter is a corruption of Yuri saying "The Earth is blue [...] How wonderful. It is amazing" during his space flight, blending his words with Khrushchev's.
  • Jim Lovell never said, "Houston, we have a problem" during Apollo 13. The actual line is "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here." The misquote is so pervasive, it has even made its way into the movie starring Tom Hanks, which has been noted for being fairly accurate.
    • Jack Swigert actually said that line. Lovell followed with "Houston, WE'VE HAD a problem," which was actually misquoted intentionally by NASA in the years since because it sounds better, so the movie can only be held accountable for following NASA's Retcon.
    • On a related note, Gene Kranz (Flight Director for Apollo 13) never uttered the words "failure is not an option" during the course of the mission (however, he did pick the phrase as the title of his biography which was published in 2000).
    • Word of God says they changed the line because they felt the original statement implied that the problem had passed when, in fact, their troubles were just beginning.
  • An interesting twist happened during Apollo 11. Neil Armstrong's first words on the moon were scripted (yes, they gave him a script - they weren't about to have some flyboy say something less-than-momentous on the occasion) as "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." However, he flubbed the line. Urban legend maintains that it was a garbled transmission that dropped the article "a," but there's no such gap in the recording; the only pause comes after the first half of the line, when Armstrong realized his mistake and (unsuccessfully) tried to think of a way to cover it. "That's one small step for man... (pause) one giant leap for mankind." He admitted this himself after he retired. And fair's fair, he had a lot on his mind at that moment. But with the eyes of the world on them, the PR man at NASA felt they had to explain away this inconsequential hiccup.
  • A number of people, including Bill Bryson, have quoted Mariah Carey as saying, "When I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff". In actual fact, this quote was taken from a satirical and fictional interview in an on-line magazine.
  • Groucho Marx is popularly (and persistently) claimed to have said to a female contestant on his show You Bet Your Life "I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while!" after being told that the woman has had eleven children. He didn't. People continue to insist that he has to this day, even after Groucho settled the matter in an interview with Roger Ebert:

I got $25 from Reader's Digest last week for something I never said. I get credit all the time for things I never said. You know that line in You Bet Your Life? The guy says he has seventeen kids and I say: "I smoke a cigar, but I take it out of my mouth occasionally"? I never said that.

Snopes does report, however, that Groucho said something similar to a female contestant who came from a family of seventeen; "Well, I like pancakes, but I haven't got closetful of them ..."
  • Impressions of Jerry Seinfeld almost invariably use the phrase "Who are these people?". While Seinfeld actually said this once in a routine back in 1981, it was only once. The other time Seinfeld uttered this phrase was in a Saturday Night Live sketch parodying said phenomenon.
    • The popularity of the phrase may have also come from Gilbert Gottfried's impression of Seinfeld.
  • Popular belief holds that Columbine High School shooting survivor Cassie Bernall was confronted by the killers if she believed in God, and said "yes" in response. Harris had actually confronted another survivor, Valeen Schurr, with this question, after she supposedly yelled out "Oh God," but she didn't even say yes—her actual words were "No--yes--no ... ?" Which caused Harris to laugh and walk away.
    • This phrase is also wrongly attributed to the late Rachel Scott, another victim, probably due to people finding out about her good deeds through her Rachel's Challenge foundation.
  • P.T. Barnum did not coin the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute." The phrase was first said by David Hannum, a con man who exploited George Hull's Cardiff Giant hoax, and continued to make money off of it even after the hoax had been disproved.
    • Barnum is reported to have said that he wished he had said it.
    • Ironically, Hannum said this about the people who paid to see Barnum's version of the Cardiff Giant, which Barnum had made after Hannum refused to sell him the original.
  • After Dan White murdered Moscone and Milk trying to get his job back, his attorneys argued that he was incapable of premeditated murder due to severe depression. One of several pieces of evidence presented as to his state of mind was the fact that White, a former fitness advocate, had taken to eating lots of junk food. After his conviction was reduced to voluntary manslaughter there was nationwide outrage due to many reporters acting as if the junk food itself had been the defining factor for the jury. Soon the term Twinkie Defense was coined for such a strategy, despite Twinkies themselves not even being mentioned.
    • The term "Twinkie defense" is a pre-Internet meme—it came from the press, after another politician gave a interview on the courthouse steps after the ruling, while waving a Twinkie around in the air.
  • This one could be cited in Radio or Live Action TV here, but...comedienne Gracie Allen never answered her husband George Burns' "Say good night, Gracie" with a "Good night, Gracie" in any medium.
    • This can definitely be attributed to Laugh In fans, as Dick Martin always said "Good Night, Dick".
  • A quote often attributed to Dolly Parton: "When I was young, we had to wash in a basin. You'd wash up as far as possible, then down as far as possible; then you'd wash possible." She may have said it at some point, but it's a very old joke: appears in Ulysses.
  • Murphy's Law: Commonly given as "Anything that can go wrong, will [go wrong]", but Edward Murphy was a little more verbose: "If there's more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way." See also Finagle's Law.
    • Referring to his assistant, Captain Murphy also once said, "If there's a way to do it wrong, he will." It was John Paul Stapp who recast this into a general "Murphy's Law".
  • No one's sure who first said "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." The earliest known source is Elvis Costello in a 1983 interview, but there are reports of the quote being in existence before then. Other suspects include Frank Zappa, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Miles Davis and even Martin Mull.
  • Blame the Osmonds for the misunderstanding if you must, but the real quote is, "One bad apple spoils the bunch," often with the logical follow-up, "but one good apple can't restore the bad ones." Anyone who says "One bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch" has clearly never been to a produce market.
  • Automobile manufacturer Henry Ford never actually advertised Ford Model T's as being available in "any color as long as it's black".
    • And to go even further, the car was initially not available at all in black at the initial launch. Several colors—green, gray, red, blue, but not black. In 1912 Ford started painting all Model T's in dark blue (switching to black two years later), apparently due to the lower cost and faster drying time of the darker paint.
    • Ford did, however, use a variant of the phrase ("Any customer can have a car painted any colour he wants so long as it is black") in his 1923 autobiography, My Life and Work.
    • Another popular Ford quote ("History is bunk") is a paraphrase of what he actually said ("History is more or less bunk").
  • M. Magnan never said that bees were incapable of flight. What he did say in "Le vol des Insectes" was that bee flight couldn't be explained by fixed-wing calculations. In other words, bees couldn't fly unless they moved their wings.
    • A further misunderstanding came when it proved difficult to explain how a bee's musculature could flap its wings as fast as it necessarily must. The answer is that bees (and many similar insects) flap their wings by "plucking" the flight muscle so that it resonates, rather than directly flexing and extending it hundreds of times per minute.
  • G. K. Chesterton never said "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything."
    • It's an amalgamation of two quotes from the Father Brown stories: "It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can't see things as they are", from "The Oracle of the Dog", and "You all swore you were hard-shelled materialists; and as a matter of fact you were all balanced on the edge of belief - of belief in almost anything", from "The Miracle of Moon Crescent".
  • Economist John Maynard Keynes said "When I change my mind I say so - what do you do?", not "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
  • Sigmund Freud didn't say "Dreams are the royal road to consciousness," it was "The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind."
    • Freud was allegedly lecturing on oral fixation when one of his cheekier students asked about his ever-present pipe and he replied "sometimes a pipe is just a pipe." It's more commonly quoted as "cigar", but the whole story's apocryphal: historians have pointed out that Freud always held precisely the opposite attitude, and speculated that the Hypocritical Humor quote evolved as a way for contemporary audiences to lighten the otherwise disturbing implications (at the time) of his theories.
    • Freud is sometimes quoted as describing the Irish as "the only people impervious to psychoanalysis", but the closest anyone has found to this is Anthony Burgess, in his introduction to a book of Irish short stories: "One of [Freud's] followers split up human psychology into two categories - Irish and non-Irish."
  • Charles Manson did not announce "I am the devil, and I have come to do the devil's work." Charles "Tex" Watson said "I'm the devil, I'm here to do the devil's business. Give me all your money." to Wojciech "Voytek" Frykowski.
  • Albert Einstein never said, "Astrology is a science in itself and contains an illuminating body of knowledge. It taught me many things, and I am greatly indebted to it. Geophysical evidence reveals the power of the stars and the planets in relation to the terrestrial. In turn, astrology reinforces this power to some extent. This is why astrology is like a life-giving elixir to mankind." He actually had no interest in astrology.
    • It's possible some one confused astrology for astronomy. To a lot of people -ology and -onomy are fairly close in meaning and get the two confused until you hear about both. If astrology wasn't popular at the time they might have meant the same thing.
    • He also didn't say "We only use ten percent of our brain." In fact, The Church of Happyology made that up.
    • He also never said "Everything's relative."
      • Indeed, he didn't want to call his theory "Relativity" because he suspected people would say things like that.
    • Contrary to popular misconception, what Einstein's Theories of Relativity actually say about time is only that it is a fourth dimension; not that it is the fourth dimension, to the exclusion of all other possible candidates. If they said the latter, they would contradict at least one cosmological hypothesis, which holds that the universe is mathematically the 3D surface of a 4D hypersphere (and thus endless but finite).
    • Also, he never said "E equals MC squared" as many people attribute due to that being how one would read the equation. He said "E is equal M C square".
    • As his Wikiquote page shows, he probably didn't say "Two things are infinite: the universe and the human stupidity.".
    • Another quote attributed to Einstein is: "I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." While he did say somthing similar, he used "rocks" instead of "sticks and stones". But similar statements using "spears" and "bows and arrows" and attributed to other people also exist.
  • Bill Gates did not say, "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one," it was Charles J. Sykes.
    • Nor did Gates ever say "640KB is all the memory you'll ever need" or any variation of that. Recent info has suggested that it was actually an IBM executive that originated the quote, and what he really said was more along the lines of "We believe that 640KB will meet the current needs of our customers." Regardless of whether it was Gates or someone at IBM, they most certainly did not intend to say that "No-one will ever require more than 640KB of memory," which is what the quote tends to be twisted into meaning.
  • "Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door." This now-common saying is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, if anyone, but the closest thing he ever wrote was this: "I trust a good deal to common fame, as we all must. If a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a well-beaten path to his house, [even if] it be in the woods."
  • Mark Twain did not say "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." He did, however, say "The report of my death is an exaggeration."
    • Nor did Twain say, "I've never wished a man dead, but I read some obituaries with great pleasure." That quote comes from Clarence Darrow, who also later said, "I've never killed anyone, save for idiots attributing my goddam quote to Mark Twain."
  • There is no evidence whatsoever that Galileo muttered "And yet it moves" or anything like it after his trial before the Italian inquisition. The myth of him saying the phrase only appeared around a century after his death.
  • Kenneth Arnold, the pilot who "coined" the term Flying Saucer, never actually used the term to describe his UFO encounter. Rather, he said that they flew "like saucers skipping across water." He would later describe the shape of the crafts he saw as something similar to a stealth bomber.
  • William of Ockham (or Occam, Hockham, etc.) (1288-1348) never said "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily" (Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem) -- the closest he ever got was "Plurality must never be posited without necessity" (Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate, "Sentences of Peter Lombard") and "It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer" (Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora, "Summa Totius Logicae"), and it wasn't called "Ockham's Razor" until 1852. Ockham didn't really invent it either, versions appear in Aristotle, Alhazen, Moses Maimonides and Duns Scotus.
  • Aleister Crowley never said, "If a dog disturbs your meditation, shoot it." The actual quote in context (from Book Four - Part 1) is "Subsequent theologians have tried to improve upon the teachings of the Masters, have given a sort of mystical importance to these virtues; they have insisted upon them for their own sake, and turned them into puritanism and formalism. Thus 'non-killing,' which originally meant 'do not excite yourself by stalking tigers,' has been interpreted to mean that it is a crime to drink water that has not been strained, lest you should kill the animalcula. But this constant worry, this fear of killing anything by mischance is, on the whole, worse than a hand-to-hand conflict with a grizzly bear. If the barking of a dog disturbs your meditation, it is simplest to shoot the dog, and think no more about it."
  • Charles H. Duell never said, "Everything that can be invented has been invented." In fact, in his 1899 report, he optimistically hoped the U.S. could surpass or equal its foreign rivals in science, commerce, and industry, and urged the Fifty-Sixth Congress for support for the growing number of patents coming in.
    • Instead, that phrase came from an 1899 issue of Punch.
  • The Hippocratic Oath doesn't actually contain the words "first do no harm", it comes close with "abstain from doing harm", but "first do no harm" or "Primum non nocere" was never uttered until sometime between 1600 and 1900CE.
  • The motto of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a.k.a. the Mounties, is not "We Always Get Our Man"; it's "Maintain The Right".
    • "We always get our man" is something close to an unofficial motto, though.
  • The term "laissez faire" is often attributed to economist Adam Smith. He never used the phrase himself.
  • Andy Warhol never said that everyone gets fifteen minutes of fame. He said that "In the future, everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes." Whether this fame is wanted or deserved is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • H. L. Mencken is often quoted as saying "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public" (with "taste" being substituted for "intelligence" in some versions). This is a paraphrase of what Mencken wrote in an article called "Notes on Journalism", published in the Chicago Tribune on September 19, 1926: "No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."
  • No hacker ever (unironically) made the taunt "I'm behind seven proxies." The actual quote is "I WENT THROUGH 7 PROXIES. GOOD LUCK." Note also that "good luck" comes after, not before.
  • John Tyner, the man that refused the TSA scanner and patdown, did not say "don't touch my junk." His actual quote is "but if you touch my junk I'll have you arrested."
  • The line "Here be dragons" was not common on early maps: in fact, it's only found on the Lenox Globe (from the 1500s): HIC SVNT DRACONES is written on the coast of eastern Asia, probably in reference to komodo dragons. Roman and medieval cartographers usually wrote HIC SVNT LEONES ("Here are lions") on unexplored areas.
  • There's an urban legend that when the infamous Zodiac Killer attacked Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shephard at Lake Berryesa, Hartnell pleaded "Please, kill me first! I can't bear to see her killed!" This was something made up by a news reporter trying make his story more dramatic than it already was. Bryan Hartnell never did say that to the killer. It does not appear in any interviews given to new reporters or police officers at that time. Also, in recent interviews Hartnell has denied that he ever said that. Still, the quote still appears in books and documentaries pertaining to The Zodiac Killer.
  • A meta version: J. Robert Oppenheimer is commonly held to have quoted from the Bhagavad Gita after the Trinity test: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." This comes from an interview where he said that the phrase popped into his head at the sight of the atomic explosion, but eyewitness accounts simply have him saying "It worked," or nothing at all.
    • Also, the original Sanskrit reads kalo 'smi loka-ksaya-krt, and the best translation is probably, "I am Time which destroys all things."
    • Also, it was not Oppenheimer but the Trinity site director Kenneth Bainbridge who said "Now we are all sons of bitches."
    • To be fair, Oppenheimer didn't say, at least in his most frequently quoted recollection, that he actually said the Bhagavad Gita quote at the time of the Trinity test. He simply said he remembered it. The fact that people interpreted him as having said it could be considered a Beam Me Up, Scotty of its own, I guess.
    • And recall that, like the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita was originally in a language other than English and has been translated into English in a number of different ways. So some accounts have Oppenheimer remarking: "I have become Death, the shatterer of worlds."
  • After Azaria Chamberlain disappeared, her mother never actually wailed "Dingos ate my baby!" or anything of the sort. (And although she was convicted of murder, she was later released when it was found that, actually, dingos did eat her baby.)
  • Rodney King didn't quite say "Can't we all just get along?" His speech during the LA riots was a bit longer; the closest phrase was, "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?"
  • Kurt Vonnegut is often quoted as saying "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt." It's actually "Everything was beautiful. Nothing hurt."
  • Bank robber Willie Sutton is often quoted as saying, in response to an interviewer's question, that he robbed banks "because that's where the money is." He denied ever saying it, and said that a reporter made it up.
  • J. K. Rowling never called Harry/Hermione shippers "delusional." The interviewer did, and she laughed before diplomatically veering the conversation into more neutral territory. However, many people still attribute the word to her.
  • When Jack Nicholson was informed of Heath Ledger's death, his reply was supposedly "I warned him." In actuality it was "Oh, that's terrible. I warned them.", "them" referring to the studio executives. To elaborate: Nicholson had known how psychologically tolling it could be to play The Joker (the role that Ledger had reportedly died from) and made this known to the executives before The Dark Knight began filming. They ignored him, allowing Ledger (who at the time was suffering from numerous personal problems) to play the role unchecked. It allegedly led to his death.
    • Like all controversial celebrity deaths there's been disputes about this - many say he seemed perfectly normal and psychologically healthy on set.
  • Dom Pérignon (namesake of the famed champagne) never said "Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!" upon inventing champagne. He actually worked to prevent wine in the champagne region from becoming sparkling wine, since it basically turned the wine bottles into grenades. According to The Other Wiki, that quote came from a 19th century print ad.
  • Carl Sagan never actually used the phrase "billions and billions" (until his book by the same name, which was a reference to the common belief that he had previously used the term), but did use "billions upon billions" at one point. Either way, he did like using the word "billions."
  • Although Thomas J. Watson, CEO of IBM, is well known for his alleged 1943 statement, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers", there is no evidence he ever made it.
    • The misquote is itself often misquoted, with fifty computers instead of five.
  • When the Titanic was being built, she was described as being "virtually unsinkable" thanks to the various safety features being built into her. At the time, everyone displayed a tendency to drop the "virtually" part and refer to her as simply "unsinkable", which came back to bite them hard when, following a collision with an iceberg, she did in fact sink. Thanks to the notorious nature of the disaster, the "unsinkable" label has tended to stick as an example of what happens if you get too cocky in the face of nature.
  • The infamous "wolf whistle", popularly depicted in American culture as the standard response to something titillating, usually doesn't sound quite the way it does in cartoons. Animated characters often draw it out, with a pause between the syllables and a rising pitch before the pause and a falling pitch after it, making the noise sound something like "WHEEEET...whoooo!" When the whistle is uttered in real life (and it isn't usually these days, as it's interpreted as rather rude), it is often only a single-syllable whistle ("Whoooo!") or is indeed two syllables but is pronounced much more quickly and with even stress ("Wheet-whoo!").
  • Similarly, the "Bronx cheer" (the sound made by humans and certain other primates to suggest derision, which is called a "raspberry" in places outside the New York area) is often exaggerated in cartoons and on kids' TV shows. Most people pronounce it quick and loud, like a fart - but in fiction it tends to be ridiculously drawn out and to decrease in volume, as if someone were slowly letting the air out of a large helium balloon. (Then again, maybe this is just to Get Crap Past The Radar.)

Notes

  1. This too is also a misquote, although the correct quote has the exact same meaning
  2. The error comes from thinking that "et" means "and", as it usually does. Here, however, it's short for "etiam", which means "even".
  3. working class
  4. Pennsylvania was a proprietary colony, i.e., the prerogatives of the Crown were exercised by a proprietor, which for Pennsylvania was the head of the Penn family. The Penns lived in London and saw the colony as a moneymaking venture; the Governor was the representative of the proprietor, and a focal point for anti-proprietary anger.