Phrase Catcher

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Wait, what?!"
Just about everyone in Red vs. Blue in response to something Sister says.

It's common enough for a character to have a Catch Phrase but not everyone can spend all day spouting it themselves. A Phrase Catcher usually has that certain string of words in the air whenever they're around, but they'll be hearing it and someone else will be saying it.

Maybe anyone seeing them is immediately given to wonder whether they're a bird, a plane, or something else entirely, or maybe everyone feels compelled to announce that character's reputation in the world with a saying that's suspiciously similar each time, but as long as they keep getting a certain response and don't say it personally then they are a Phrase Catcher. If someone always gets a certain response, but always from the same person, then it's as much a Catch Phrase as a Phrase Catcher.

On a subnote, if someone has a Berserk Button about being fat, or feels keen to correct anyone who calls them a monkey instead of an ape, or need some other specific feeder line to start off on their own routine, you can rely on that line being fed. However, those examples really belong with their own tropes.

Popular variants include "Shut up, Tropee!" and the greeting Sitcom Archnemeses by saying their name.

Compare Strange Minds Think Alike, Got Me Doing It, and Never Heard That One Before.

Examples of Phrase Catcher include:


Anime and Manga

"Gray, your clothes."

    • Whenever, Erza does something wacky.

"That's Erza for you."

Comic Books

Layla: I'm Layla Miller.
Madrox: She knows stuff.
Layla: You notice I haven't had to say that in a while? Everybody else keeps saying it for me.

  • Howard the Duck: "You're a talking duck!"
  • In the 2003 Batman limited series Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, nascent Super Villain Warren "The Great White Shark" White provokes remarks of "You're the worst person I've ever met," from almost everybody he meets. Including The Joker. And demons from Hell.
  • "It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Superman!" First introduced in The Adventures of Superman.
  • In Young Justice, Robin would often be put in the role of explaining things for the benefit of his teammates (and the audience.) The exchange "How do you know that?" "Well, I was trained by the world's greatest detective," quickly morphed into someone saying "We can tell you were trained by the world's greatest detective" every time he pointed out something glaringly obvious.
  • Batman (and later Dick Grayson in his role as Batman) gets "I thought you'd be taller" absurdly often from people who have never met him before. Despite being 6'2". (Perhaps Batman's legendary reputation means people expect him to be ten feet tall. It makes a bit more sense for Dick, who's around 5'10".)
  • Reggie Mantle of Archie Comics is always called out as "somebody who talks about anything but himself."
  • While Deadpool was cursed by Loki to look like Thom Cruz, he got "Say, aren't you Thom Cruz?" from pretty much everybody who saw him unmasked.
  • Fight-Man, "'cause one shot is all he needs!"

Fan Works


Ripley: "Yeah, I get a lot of that lately."

  • Miller's Crossing: "Jesus, Tom!"
  • The Big Lebowski: "Shut the fuck up, Donny!" from Walter and The Dude.
  • Fargo: On a similar note, pretty much everyone who ever met Carl Showalter describes him as "kinda funny-lookin'." How so? "Oh, in a general kinda way."
  • Dante Hicks in Clerks gets two, one because of and one despite the "I assure you we're open" sign he has to write on a bedsheet with shoe polish because the shutters were gummed shut. For the rest of the day, people ask him "What smells like shoe polish?". Dante is also the catcher for the phrase "You open?", which almost every customer asks before entering the spite of, again, the big honking sign out front.
  • The infamous Kaiju The Giant Claw is recurringly compared to a battleship (something James Rolfe really didn't understand).
  • All the main Predator films have the titular creature being called "one ugly motherfucker" (in the second, Harrigan stops midway but the Predator completes the sentence; in Predators, it's said in Russian).
  • Paul's grandfather in A Hard Day's Night is very clean, as everybody seems to notice (the reason is an Actor Allusion, since the actor played Alfred "You dirty old man!" Steptoe).
  • In The Hebrew Hammer people always remind Mordechai that "the fate of Hanukkah is resting on your shoulders", which just stresses him out.
  • Star Wars "I've got a bad feeling about this..." The phrase appears all over the Expanded Universe.
  • The Terminator: "Come with me if you want to live."
  • In Galaxy Quest, both human and alien fans of Alexander Dane greet him with "By Grapthar's hammer!", the catchphrase of his Proud Warrior Race character in the Show Within a Show. He's not amused.
  • In the film version of Big Trouble, everyone's first impression of the Suitcase Nuke is that "it looks like a garbage disposal."
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has an inanimate object as the phrase catcher. "Nice sword."


  • Harry Potter. A lot of people tell him that "You look like your father but you've got Lily's eyes". In the sixth book, he replies "I hear this all the time".
  • Steven Brust's Dragaera: "Shut up, Loiosh."
    • So common a phrase, Vlad doesn't always wait for Loiosh to say something before using it.
  • "Beep-beep, Richie" in Stephen King's IT.
  • "Yub yub, Commander" from the X Wing Series. Started as a fairly funny joke, but eventually became the phrase said whenever someone did something that annoyed or surprised Commander Wedge Antilles.
    • In the Han Solo trilogy, "Kibbick is an idiot."
  • Ravenor's Carl Thonious - the things he knows...
  • In a very meta case, Ciaphas Cain only ever refers to himself as a "Hero of the Imperium" (no bold) facetiously - the bombastic announcements of his status as a HERO OF THE IMPERIUM! is purely an invention of this wiki (though they do reflect the rest of the Imperium's opinion of him).
  • In Pyramid Power, a science-fiction novel playing with Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology with loads of showing their work provided by the Badass Unintentional, it seems that the everybody but his men seems to at least think "Odysseus, you bastard!" at some point about him.
  • In Magic's Promise, the second Heralds of Valdemar book about Vanyel, everyone he encounters tells him, "You look like hell." It's justified in that he does.
    • In Winds of Fury, the standard greeting Princess Elspeth gets while making her way home through Valdemar to the capital is "We heard you were dead!"
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles' cousin Ivan Vorpatril is referred to by all well-knowing individuals as "Ivan-you-idiot" or "that idiot, Ivan", and variations thereof.
    • To the point where it took the main character years to realize that "Ivan" wasn't his middle name.
  • Lampshaded in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, when Kate Schecter deliberately tries to avoid uttering Dirk's professional Phrase Catcher. Too late.
  • In the Nightside series, Shotgun Suzie is known to be so much of a Phrase Catcher for "Oh Christ, it's her, run!" that it's effectively her other nickname.

Live-Action TV

  • On Community, Britta is frequently the recipient of a blunt "You're the worst!"
  • Everybody Hates Chris: Damn Risky!
  • "Hello...Newman" from Seinfeld, of a postal worker who was thought of by everyone to be obnoxious and disliked
  • "NORM!" of Norm of Cheers.
  • For Ace Rimmer of Red Dwarf: "What a guy!".
    • His regular counterpart has "Smeghead!". This has gone so far that Chris Barrie, his actor, has stated that people in Real Life will use this phrase if they recognize him on the street.
  • Family Matters: "Go home, Steve!"
  • The Bob Newhart Show: "Hi Bob!" Was said to Bob Newhart so often it created a Drinking Game.
  • Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?: "DO IT, ROCKAPELLA!"
  • Sister, Sister: "Go home, Roger!"
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: "God damn it, Charlie!"
    • "So stupid, Charlie..."
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: "Push the button, Frank." It was taken from The Great Race: "Push the button, Max!"
  • Prior to his makeover, Tommy of 3rd Rock from the Sun was often told "cut your hair, you look like a girl!" In one episode, he passed himself off as a girl and was told "put some makeup on, you look like a boy."
  • Doctor Who: "Yes, we know who you are," after Harriet Jones introduces herself. Even the Daleks get in on it, as do the Sycorax.
    • And in the same show, someone will wonder aloud "Doctor who?" at least once per series.
    • The standard reaction to the TARDIS might qualify as well. This was Lampshaded/parodied back in the 70s. When Benton enters, the Doctor prompts him with "Aren't you going to say 'It's bigger on the inside'?" and Benton replied, "Well, it's pretty obvious, isn't it?"
      • Even more hilariously, in The Three Doctors, when the Brigadier sees the interior of the TARDIS for the first time, he doesn't believe it is bigger on the inside. "So this is what you've been doing with UNIT funds and equipment all this time. How's it done? Some sort of optical illusion?" "Oh no, they come like this."
      • In the revived series, the Doctor mouths the words along when Martha Jones says the phrase. He then blithely replies, "Is it? Hadn't noticed!"
      • Donna's first encounter with the TARDIS is when she materializes inside it, so her moment of realization comes when they land and she steps out, seeing for the first time that it's... smaller on the outside.
      • In "The End of Time", when Wilfred Mott sees the inside of the TARDIS, he looks expectedly shocked and awed. Before giving him a chance (they're in a hurry) the Doctor says, "Yes, it's bigger on the inside," to which Wilf replies, "No, I just thought it'd be... cleaner". (A possible Call Back to the days when the console room was minimalist white with silver/grey console.)
      • Played for drama in The Waters of Mars. As the Doctor goes into A God Am I mode, he brings the astronauts to Earth in the TARDIS. One says, "What is that thing? It's bigger on the inside! Who the hell are you?" before running away in terror.
      • The Eleventh Doctor asks Amy "Any passing remarks you'd like to say?"

Amy: I'm in my nightie.

      • Subverted again with Eleven and Amy's boyfriend Rory:

Doctor: It's a lot to take in, isn't it? Tiny box, huge on the inside, what's that about? Let me explain...
Rory: It's another dimension.
Doctor: Basically, it's another dimens... What?
(Rory explains in length how he figured it out and the Doctor cuts in clearly annoyed.)
Doctor: I like the bit when someone says 'it's bigger on the inside'. I always look forward to that...

      • In the season 6 episode "The Doctor's Wife", upon being given the form of a human lady, the TARDIS is revealed to think this of humans and the Doctor in terms of a soul. Also, as the TARDIS takes repossession of the Police Box from House, the Doctor explains that House's problem is that he's "just so small on the inside!"
    • Another which gets less used and is more specific to the Tenth Doctor, is "Help me," which wakes him out of a coma in "The Christmas Invasion" and to which he replies "Two words I never refuse" in "The Next Doctor," setting up a tragic irony in "Waters of Mars."
    • The Doctor often gives a good "Oh, Rory!" as a reaction to Rory, whether it be him acting dumb, kind or just so...human.
  • Spaced had some lasting an episode, such as Daisy being told to "Get off your arse!" on three separate occasions, or when Mike is dressed in jogging gear and everyone he met told him "Nice outfit". Over the series, people asked Brian the tortured artist what his work was about, then reply to his answer with a suggestion that didn't fit:

Brian: Anger. Pain. Fear. Aggression.
Brian's Mum: Watercolours?

    • "Hello Brian"
  • In the TV series The Saint, right before the opening credits, somebody would always refer to "... the _____ Simon Templar." (Fill in the blank with 'illustrious', 'infamous', or something like that.) Which would cause Simon to glance up and note the halo appearing over his head.
  • The opening of every episode of That Girl, in which someone calls attention somehow to Ann Marie, usually by saying something that ends in them speaking the show's title. (i.e. "I think the best one for this job is...that girl!")
  • One of the oldest examples is from The Buster Brown Show: "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!" (Is That What They're Calling It Now?)
  • Due South: Eventually, everyone else takes over explaining that Fraser came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father and, for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, remained attached as liaison with the Canadian Consulate. Thank you kindly.
  • The Young Ones: "Oh! Have we got a video?"
  • In every episode of Police Squad! and The Naked Gun movies: "Cigarette?" "Yes, I know," or "Yes, it is."
  • Top Gear, of course, has it's "tame racing driver". Some say he can swim seven lengths underwater, and that he has webbed buttocks. All we know is, he's called The Stig.
  • Arrested Development has a few, but the most common is George Michael's girlfriend, Ann Veal.

Virtually all the Bluths: Her?

    • "I've made a huge mistake."
  • The Golden Girls has "Shut up, Rose" when the aforementioned Cloudcuckoolander tries to launch into a St. Olaf anecdote, to the extent of (and I'm almost certainly paraphrasing):

Rose: Well, back in St. Olaf--shut up, Rose.
Dorothy: ...Well?
Rose: Well, that's as far as I ever get!

Roz: I'm O, from The Story of O
Anyone and everyone: Oooooohhhhh!

(Someone has a problem)
Claire: (pops out of nowhere, hands character in trouble her card) Claire Sawyer, Future Lawyer.
Whoever Happens To Be Around: Claire. We've known you since pre-K.

  • A fast-talking character in an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati couldn't figure out why people kept telling him "Speed Kills!"
  • Lucy Hatcher in The Practice tended to draw annoyed yells of "LUCY!" from the others at the firm.
  • St. Elsewhere, particularly throughout season 2: "You're a pig, Ehrlich".
  • From Leverage, there's "Dammit, Hardison!".
  • One Tree Hill: "Just say [Whatever Tim just said, but to the point & less Pretty Fly for a White Guy-like], Tim."

Newspaper Comics

  • Bucky of Get Fuzzy spends a week trying to invent a catch phrase for himself which he expects Satchel to say, but Satchel doesn't quite understand the idea of a Phrase Catcher:

Satchel: Aren't you supposed to say your own catch phrase?
Bucky: Satchel, when you're übergroovy, other people say it for you.


  • The Lone Ranger: "Who was that masked man?" "I don't know... but I wanted to thank him."
  • The Goon Show: "Shut up, Eccles!" (Even Eccles joins in with it.)

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000 fan's reactions to whatever Tzeentch does, "... which was probably what he planned anyway."
    • Alternately, they use a line from Death Note for anything Tzeentch does: "Just as planned"
    • Around these parts it's "I touched that!" since the general theory is that rather than actually having insanely convoluted plans, he just takes credit for everything anyone does ever and claims it's part of his plan.
    • It's hard to hear the Tyranids be mentioned without someone adding "Om-nom-nom-nom." at some point.
    • Mentioning the Imperial Guard will similarly bring any or all of up the topics of flashlights and laser sights, cardboard/t-shirt armour, Tank Goodness, and testicular fortitude.
    • ...and the Ultramarines will virtually always be decried as Games Workshop's pets.


  • If 1776 is to be believed, no one could refer to John Adams as anything other than "obnoxious and disliked". As a historical note, the phrase comes from Adams himself - it was his own description of how he was perceived by his Congressional colleagues in his later career.
    • Likewise the opening number and throughout has Adams the constant recipient of, "Sit down, John! For God's sake sit down!"
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: Christian. Everyone around him says: "He’s fair!". And Le Bret: Only Cyrano says to him: "Never scold".
  • In Avenue Q, Gary Coleman complains about people quoting his Diff'rent Strokes Catch Phrase back to him:

Try having people stopping you to ask you:
"Whatchyou talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
It gets old.

Video Games

Did you do something with your hair?
I didn't do shit to my hair!

  • Fate/stay night: Everyone calls Kotomine Kirei a "fake priest." For Tohsaka, it's because he's sort of like a double agent between the Church and the Mage's association. For Shirou, it's because he hates him.
  • Variations on "You're dead." follow Shepard a lot in Mass Effect 2. Of course, s/he was.
  • Fable: "The Chicken Chaser? Do you chase chickens?"
    • Note that you only get this reaction if you keep your default title. If you get a different one, townsfolk will instantly develop a new stock reaction to address you with.
  • Namecalling abound whenever a Special Infected spawns in Left 4 Dead. "Boomer!"
  • Fatal Fury: "Geese..."
  • Yukimaru from Disgaea 2, zam. And her unique way of building chakra, zam.
    • It started off as her Catch Phrase though, zam. Then everybody started doing it, zam.
    • As it turns out, even years after the first game and around people who have never met him, Vyers has never been able to shed his Mid-Boss monkier.

Vyers: As your personal life coach, moi am here to teach you what true strength is all about!
Mao: True strength? You look more like you've got "Mid-Boss" level strength.
Vyers: H-How did you know that infernal nickname!?

"Odd girl."
"I agree."
"Me, too."

Web Comics

Web Originals

  • "Shut up, Mokuba" in Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series. Also was originally Seto Kaiba's Catch Phrase, but it spread. To the point where nobody says anything else at all to him in The Movie.
    • Even when they're asking Mokuba a question. Mokuba finally gets fed up with it in episode 30.

Grandpa: Shut up Mokub-
Mokuba: No, YOU shut up!
Mokuba: Oh God, I'm so sorry.

    • "Get bent, ya freaky fish guy!"

"I am NOT a freaky fish guy!"
"Mako's a freaky fish guy!"

  • In the Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged movie, I'm pretty sure every character says "Dammit, Hinageshi!" at least once.
  • Red vs. Blue has several:
    • If a character is about to die, expect to hear "HURK! Bleeeehhhh..."
    • "Son of a bitch!" after an explosion, attack, or death.
    • "Shotgun!" as soon as the Reds get their hands on a vehicle.
    • If someone is being possessed by a ghost really an AI expect to hear "Heauegerkergerk!"
    • And of course, the response to any of Sister's statements is a confused "Yeah! Wait, what?!"

"Yeah... or we could raid the medical supplies for morphine."
(Death by aspirin overdose) "I know! I didn't think it was possible. And trust me, I've tried."
"Yeah? Well they say girls can't ejaculate either. But guess what?!"
"Yeah, sorry, doesn't sound like I have any of the skills you need. Unless you wanna see my ping pong ball trick!"
"But I thought, you know, who wants to be known as the girl who's had seven abortions?"

"Krillin!" "What?" "Too Soon!"
"God dammit, Nappa"

Gohan: "I need an adult?"
Not Gohan: "I am an adult."

  • In articles on, anything remotely Badass mentioned in an article will have mentions of testicular hardness follow.
  • The Classic Doctor Who Twitter Blog likes to announce explosions with "And then there was a s'plosion!" and variations thereof.
  • The Funday Pawpet Show gives us Blitz, a young German Shepherd who is often on the receiving end of the mocking line "I don't even know what that iiiiiiiis!"
  • Mentions of The Room on That Guy With The Glasses lead to "Ohai [contributor's name here]".
  • In the Mortal Kombat parody sprite cartoon, someone will always call Baraka "the ugliest mofo they've ever seen". Also, "Shut yo spittin' ass up!" after Kabal goes on his rants.

Western Animation

Scruffy: "I'm Scruffy, the janitor."

Mr. Incredible: Frozone! Ice to see you drop by!
Frozone: Ha! (deadpan) Never heard that one before.

  • King of the Hill: "Thatherton!" This started out as Hank's Catch Phrase, but everyone got so used to it that someone would fill in when he wasn't there.
  • Fairly Oddparents "Dinkleberg!"
  • In the American Darkstalkers cartoon series, every single character, at some point or another, remarks that Rikuo is "strangely attractive for a fishman".
    • In the last episode, he wearily replies, "So I've been told..."
  • Everyone seems compelled to ask Phineas and Ferb "Aren't you a little young to be _____?" But it's also a Catch Phrase, because they always respond with "Yes. Yes, we are." (On other occasions, this or variations of this will be done by other characters - for example, someone asking if Candace is a little old for something.) It's played with when a contractor delivering construction supplies says it, and another replies "Yes, yes he is. Sorry, Phineas, he's new."
    • "Hey, where's Perry?" whenever Perry isn't around, and then "Oh, there you are, Perry" when he returns home from his mission. Usually said by Phineas, but increasing spread around the cast, which is naturally Lampshaded like crazy.

Stacy: Hey, where's Perry? What, I'm like the only one who hasn't said it.

Moviegoer 2: You bastard!

Real Life

  • Celebrities with catchphrases soon tire of hearing them from every fan they meet.
    • Parodied in the Avenue Q song "It Sucks To Be Me"

Gary Coleman: Try having people people stopping you to ask you, "Whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?" It gets old.

    • Averted by Mandy Patinkin. He has not tired of being known for The Princess Bride's Inigo Montoya. In all fairness, however, that one role is awesome, and his fans do generally know him for some other work as well. In fact, surprisingly enough, there are fans who really only know him for his work in Chicago Hope and Yentl.
  • Any tall person will quickly get tired of 'How's the weather up there?'

Tall Person: Fair to partly stupid.

    • (Spits) Rainy.
    • Or how about "You're really tall." ...Thanks...or "How did you get so tall?"
    • Also, anyone who's ever had a haircut will be familiar with the trope, as they'll probably have to come up with a few stock phrases to last them a couple of weeks. "You've had a haircut!" isn't particularly inane, ("You have a remarkable eye for detail,") but "Did you have a haircut?" Er, "Yes. Yes I did."
  • Every cashier at any cash register with a barcode scanner at any store ever, upon having difficulty scanning an item, will hear from the customer some variation of, "No price? I guess that means it's free!" This is usually followed by a polite chuckle from the cashier.
  • Window cleaners just love being told: "You've missed a bit!"
  • Kikuko Inoue's Running Gag and Catch Phrase is claiming herself to be '17 years old'. This caught on to her characters saying so, and when that happens, you can bet that there'll be someone who'll respond with "Oi oi..."
  • Little kids hear 'you grow up so fast' all the time and may get annoyed because they usually don't feel they grow up that fast.
  • Pregnant women tire very quickly of being told "You're so big" or "You sure it's not twins?" or asked "When are you due?" or "Is it a boy or girl?" Think twice before you go to say any of this to a pregnant woman. You're probably the fifth one that day and she's likely to snap.
    • And woe betide someone who say these phrases before they've ascertained whether said woman is pregnant or not...
  • People who look far younger than their actual age also get this all the time, especially when they're in their 20s. "You've graduated from university?! How old are you?" "I'm twenty-two" followed by the inevitable "Wow, I thought you were only 17!"
    • The older they get, though, the less they complain about that happening.
  • People who costume as Star Wars characters will get "These aren't the droids you're looking for" thrown at them several times a day, irrespective of if they're dressed as Storm Troopers or Rebel pilots. Also expect a Storm Trooper to be asked if they aren't a little short for the job, even if they're six feet tall.
  • The nurses and medical assistants who room patients have heard about fifty billion comments and jokes about how evil the scale is. No patient can resist.
  • High school seniors get some variation on "So, where are you going to college?" from everyone they meet.

Examples each of which is also properly a Catch Phrase but will be kept here because that page is long.

Mel Gibson: Hi everybody.
(Brief pause)
Dr. Nick: (from the back of a crowd) Hi Mr. Gibson!

  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show - "Yes, ladies and gentlemen, and that's because (name of famous actress) is not actually (name of famous actress), but our own Reed Martin, Professional Impressionist!"

Reed: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Adam: I thought something was weird!

Rattrap: "It's like I always say: We're all gonna die."
[Everyone glares]
Rattrap: "I know, I know, 'Shut up, Rattrap.'"

    • Actually subverted in the finale. When Rattrap says this, Rhinox follows with a straight "Yep".
  • The Wind in the Willows: Whenever Toad declares some fad "the only thing", the others—Badger, if no one else—say, "Oh, Toad..." The one time Mole does it, the others say, "Oh, Mole..." instead.
  1. that Manuel is incompetent, or a Cloudcuckoolander, or that we're pretending he is in order to maintain the Fawlty Towers Plot
  2. Or, if you absolutely have stick with the meme, ONORE, DIKEIDO!!