Created By: Rethkir on May 14, 2013 Last Edited By: Gamermaster on August 17, 2016
Troped

Abandoned Catchphrase

A character has a catchphrase early on, only for it to fall out of favor.

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Trope
Lisa: Ay Carumba!
Bart: Look Mom, she's stealing my catchphrases!
Lisa: Don't have a cow, man!

Catchphrases are a great and simple way to help a character's image. But sometimes, catchphrases don't stick. Perhaps the writers were experimenting character will have one early on, only for the writers to decide. Or perhaps a catchphrase was done to death and is no longer funny. Or sometimes, a character simply evolves and the catchphrase no longer fits the character.

Whatever the reason, this trope is whenever an early catchphrase is dropped or becomes used seldom. This is a catchphrase specific sub-trope of Early Installment Weirdness, and frequently a result of Characterization Marches On and Character Development. The closest inverse to this would be Flanderization (wherein a character's catchphrase acts as a quirk that takes over their personality). Unrelated to Subverted Catch Phrase.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Naruto:
    • In the English dub, the titular character often said "Believe it" in order to get past the Lip Lock due to his Japanese Verbal Tic (Dattebayo). By the chunin exams he almost never used it and by episode 100 it was completely gone except for a few jokes.
    • Sakura had a habit of saying "Shannaro" ("Cha" in the English dub) when pumped or angry, especially in her inner monologues, but her Character Development involved her losing it. By Shippuden she rarely says it.
  • Pokémon:
    • Early English dub episodes tried to translate Meowth's Japanese Verbal Tic as "meow" or "Meowth". By the end of Kanto they scrapped it.
    • Originally Team Rocket would say "Yana kanji!" in Japanese when blasting off however later episodes use "Ii kanji!" instead.
  • Nanoha from Lyrical Nanoha originally had the cutesy catchphrase "Lyrical Magical". This was phased out in A's, and replaced with the far more appropriate "Zenryoku Zenkai!" (Full Power! Full Throttle!)
  • One of the most notable elements of Fist of the North Star is Kenshiro's line "You Are Already Dead," delivered to those due to explode. However, this catchphrase was only really around during the Southern Cross arc, and disappeared after Shin's death. It does get uttered again on rare occasions, but by then its catchphrase status had practically died out.

Comic Books
  • In the Jem and the Holograms comic Kimber doesn't say "Outrageous" like she did in the Jem cartoon.
  • In the 1990s Sonic had "way past cool" as his catchphrase in Sonic SatAM. This was carried over to Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. Along with most of his other Totally Radical qualities, this has been abandoned over time.
  • In the old days Wonder Woman would say "Suffering Sappho!" This was writer Charles Moulton's tongue-in-cheek Take That to Moral Guardians who claimed she was secretly a lesbian, and it fell out of use when Moulton left the book. She had about a half dozen similar exclamations that lasted her throughout the Silver Age, though, including "Great Hera!", "Thunderbolts of Jove!", "Neptune's Trident!", and "Shades of Pluto!" Nowadays she is more likely to say "Great Hera!" or "Holy Hera!"

Let's Play

Live-Action TV
  • Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory adopted the habit of making some surprising statement, and when met with surprise, reveal that he was joking with the catchphrase, 'Bazinga!' He also used it once when successfully pranking Leonard. He abandoned it after a while.
  • The first season of Who Wants to be a Millionaire had the host recite the catchphrase "Is that your final answer?" after every single question. This was later shortened to "Final answer?", then to just "Final?". Two possible reasons for doing away with the original catchphrase: (1) Viewers got a little fatigued hearing the same phrase over and over again, (2) Regis Philbin, the original host, was getting more than a little sick of having people say the phrase to him everywhere — see also Never Heard That One Before.
  • Victor Meldrew's pained cry of "I don't believe it!" in One Foot in the Grave was extremely popular with the audience but the writers and the actor who played Meldrew, Richard Wilson, were sick of it and so its use was toned down. Not completely abandoned, however, as it did still pop up in later episodes.
  • On Sesame Street, Mr. Snuffleupagus used to always say "Oh, dear" in a worried voice. Big Bird even lampshaded it once; when Snuffy went missing in one episode and BB called the police (an Anything Muppet) to take a report, part of his description was that he said "Oh dear" a lot.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Second Doctor had "I would like a hat like that" as a catchphrase for the first two or three stories. Then they dropped it.
    • The Eleventh Doctor's "Geronimo!" was dropped after the first season.
  • Penny's catch phrase in the first season of Happy Endings was "Ah-mazing!" She quietly dropped it on the second season, acknowledging that it was So Last Season... It's really more of a summer expression.

Newspaper Comics
  • Annie from Little Orphan Annie had a catchphrase of "Hot alligator!" that was eventually dropped. Her "Leapin' lizards" catchphrase stayed though.

Video Games
  • TimeSplitters 2 & Timesplitters:Future Perfect might qualify. The Hero Cortez had a catchphrase, 'Time to Split' which he always loudly exclaims before shifting to another time. Viciously played upon in the third game, where this is met with blank stares and disbelief by his partners in time, sometimes causing Cortez to falter and just give up. It could be an example of Characterization Marches On, since the characters in Timesplitters 2 were pretty one-dimensional, until Future Perfect, in which the characters actually have personalities and dialogue.
  • Pokémon used to have "Gotta catch 'em all!" as its Tagline but it went out of fashion with Generation III probably because it was impossible in Ruby & Sapphire to have all the 386 Pokemon existing at the time, a good chunk lost in the transition between II and III and impossible to transfer (early previews of the games still featured the tagline, but it was eventually removed). It however reappears once in a while since Gen VI and its will to appeal to its nostalgic fanbase. The new catchphrase created for its 20th anniversary is "Train On".

Western Animation
  • Futurama:
    • "I am already in my pajamas," was Professor Farnsworth's catchphrase for the first two episodes of the series. It was never said again.
    • Also there was a lampshaded example where Cubert deleted old catchphrases from Bender's hard drive, such as "This is gonna be fun on a bun!"
  • Bart from The Simpsons has changed his catchphrase several times. He has used "Eat my shorts", "Don't have a cow, man", "Ay Caramba", and when introducing himself "Im Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?"
  • Family Guy:
    • Back before Stewie Griffin's Character Development, he would frequently shout: "Victory is mine!"
    • The first Family Guy had Lois give a catchphrase along the lines of "X is God's way of telling you that Y".
    • Certain Family Guy examples have been Lampshaded in the show itself
    Stewie: What the hell do you think I was talking about when I said "Victory shall be mine!"
    Brian: You have not said that in a very long time.
  • South Park:
    • "Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!" used to happen Once an Episode, but was dropped after Kenny died (semi)permanently, and is now used only on occasion.
    • Sergeant Yates kept exclaiming "Jesus Christ Monkeyballs!" in his debut episode, but never in his subsequent appearances.
    • "I want cheesy poofs!" and "I'm not fat, I'm big-boned!" were popular catchphrases for Cartman in the early seasons but haven't been used in years.
    • Stan's "Dude, this is pretty fucked up right here" and Cartman's "Respect my Authoritah", only being used for rare variations or throwbacks in later episodes.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) series, "Cowabunga!" has been replaced with "Booyakasha!"
  • Adventure Time used to have some but almost never used them after the first season:
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Spike frequently uses the catchphrase "Holy Guacamole!", never heard before and after that episode.
  • In My Little Pony G3 Rainbow Dash's catchphrase was "darling". Following the Core 7 soft reboot she lost her British accent, received a different personality, and changed her catchphrase to "How dashing!"
  • In season 1 of Young Justice Miss Martian (M'gann/Megan in civilian form) would say "Hello Megan!" very frequently. It was eventually revealed she borrowed the catchphrase from an old sitcom and had been trying to be like the character from the show. She only says it once in the the second season Invasion.
  • Mung Daal from Chowder had a catchphrase of "Sweet beans in a basket!" in the first trailer and pilot. It was dropped afterwards.
  • As seen in the "False Alarm" of Hey Arnold!, Eugene's catchphrase was "I'm fine" but it was changed to "I'm okay" by the end of Season 1.
  • The 4Kids dub of Winx Club gave each girl a catch phrase on the bonus DVDs that came with the dolls. The phrases were never actually said in any version of the show.
    Bloom: Earth girls rule!
    Stella: Style is, like, so always in style!
    Flora: Peace out!
    Musa: Royalty rocks! (Referring to the dub error that Musa is a princess)
    Tecna: I'll catch you on the download!
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • May 15, 2013
    SneakySquirrel
  • May 17, 2013
    NESBoy
    Another South Park example: Sergeant Yates kept exclaiming "Jesus Christ Monkeyballs!" in his debut episode, but never in his subsequent appearances.
  • May 17, 2013
    Jallen
    Victor Meldrew's pained cry of "I don't believe it!" in One Foot In The Grave was extremely popular with the audience but the writers and the actor who played Meldrew, David Renwick, where sick of it and so it's use was toned down. Not completely abandoned however as it did still pop up in later episode.
  • May 17, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    On Sesame Street, Mr. Snuffleupagus used to always say "Oh, dear" in a worried voice. Big Bird even lampshaded it once; when Snuffy went missing in one episode and BB called the police (an Anything Muppet) to take a report, part of his description was that he said "Oh dear" a lot.
  • May 17, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    In the Superman comics, Daily Planet editor Perry White used to yell "Great Caesar's ghost!" all the time. He didn't do that in the Christopher Reeve movies AFAIK. (I'm not familiar enough with today's comics to know if the catchphrase is still in use today... anyone?)
  • May 17, 2013
    Olaf_Merchant
    Time Splitters 2 & Timesplitters:Future Perfect might qualify. The Hero Cortez had a catchphrase, 'Time to Split' which he always loudly exclaims before shifting to another time. Viciously played upon in the third game, where this is met with blank stares and disbelief by his partners in time, sometimes causing Cortez to falter and just give up.

    Could be an example of Characterization Marches On, since the characters in Timesplitters 2 were pretty one-dimensional, until Future Perfect, in which the characters actually have personalities and dialogue.
  • May 18, 2013
    DaibhidC
    The Second Doctor in Doctor Who had "I would like a hat like that" as a catchphrase for the first two or three stories. Then they dropped it.
  • May 18, 2013
    randomsurfer
    ^^^Did Perry do that "all the time" though? It was my impression that he might have said it a few times at most. He did do it "all the time" on the 1950s The Adventures Of Superman.
  • May 18, 2013
    NESBoy
    From my experience, he did do it all the time in the comics. They even did at least one story where the phrase is a plot device (Superman Vol. 1 #91).
  • May 18, 2013
    Rethkir
    I updated the examples. I left Superman out because I'm not familiar with it and don't know if it qualifies.
  • May 18, 2013
    robinjohnson
    Victor Meldrew was played by Richard Wilson, not David Renwick. Renwick was the writer who created the series.
  • August 22, 2013
    NESBoy
    Looking at Spike's character page, there appears to be an example that's listed there under the rather inappropriate "Aborted Arc" trope.
  • August 22, 2013
    AP
    Page quote

    Lisa: Ay Carumba!
    Bart: Look Mom, she's stealing my catchphrases!
    Lisa: Don't have a cow, man!
  • December 31, 2014
    DAN004
    • In Na Ruto, the titular character slowly abandons his "dattebayo!" catchphrase until he abandons it entirely after the Time Skip.
  • December 31, 2014
    NESBoy
    The link should be formatted as ''Anime/{{Naruto}}'', not NaRuto.
  • December 31, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory adopted the habit of making some surprising statement, and when met with surprise, reveal that he was joking with the catchphrase, 'Bazinga!' He also used it once when successfully pranking Leonard. He abandoned it after a while.
  • December 31, 2014
    HellKillUsAll
    • The first Family Guy had Lois give a catchphrase along the lines of "X is God's way of telling you that Y".
  • January 1, 2015
    Psi001
    Certain Family Guy examples have been Lampshaded in the show itself:

    Stewie: What the hell do you think I was talking about when I said "Victory shall be mine!"
    Brian: You have not said that in a very long time.

    • Some other South Park catchphrases were also dropped after a while, including Stan's "Dude, this is pretty fucked up right here" and Cartman's "Respect my Authoritah", only being used for rare variations or throwbacks in later episodes.
  • December 22, 2015
    SquirrelGuy
    The first season of Who Wants to be a Millionaire had the host recite the catchphrase "Is that your final answer?" after every single question. This was later shortened to "Final answer?", then to just "Final?". Two possible reasons for doing away with the original catchphrase: (1) Viewers got a little fatigued hearing the same phrase over and over again, (2) Regis Philbin, the original host, was getting more than a little sick of having people say the phrase to him everywhere — see also Never Heard That One Before.
  • December 22, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    " In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) series, "Cowabunga!" has been replaced with "Booyakasha!" "

    That's more a replacement catch phrase.
  • December 22, 2015
    Pichu-kun

    • Naruto:
      • In the English dub, the titular character often said "Believe it" in order to get past the Lip Lock due to his Japanese Verbal Tic (Dattebayo). By the chunin exams he almost never used it and by episode 100 it was completely gone except for a few jokes.
      • Sakura had a habit of saying "Shannaro" ("Cha" in the English dub) when pumped or angry, especially in her inner monologues, but her Character Development involved her losing it. By Shippuden she rarely says it.
    • Early English dub episodes of Pokemon tried to translate Meowth's Japanese Verbal Tic as "meow" or "Meowth". By the end of Kanto they scrapped it.
  • December 23, 2015
    Chernoskill
    Throughout various installments of the The Expendables franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character utters his famous "I'll be back" (and once, "I'm back!") lines, until he gets told "you've been back enough!" by Church.
  • December 23, 2015
    TonyG
    ^This is not an example of this trope, which is that the catch phrase isn't being used anymore. This is more about characters acknowledging the catch phrase.
  • January 15, 2016
    Waddle
    • Adventure Time used to have some but almost never used them after the first season.
  • January 15, 2016
    DAN004
    Who manages this thing?
  • January 15, 2016
    Gamermaster
    Anime & Manga
  • January 16, 2016
    Waddle
    • Pokemon used to have "Gotta catch 'em all!" as its Tagline but it went out of fashion with Generation III probably because it was impossible in Ruby & Sapphire to have all the 386 Pokémon existing at the time, a good chunk lost in the transition between II and III and impossible to transfer (early previews of the games still featured the tagline, but it was eventually removed). It however reappears once in a while since Gen VI and its will to appeal to its nostalgic fanbase. The new catchphrase created for its 20th anniversary is "Train On".
  • January 16, 2016
    PhantomDusclops92
  • January 16, 2016
    NateTheGreat
    Regarding Perry White and "Great Caesar's Ghost!"...

    There is a Superman comic cover at Superdickery (link) where Perry apologizes to a statue of Caesar for using the phrase so much, and a hidden Superman uses his super-ventriloquism power to have "Caesar" say "Put thy mind at ease, mortal! I see thou dost respect my illustrious name! Therefore I will make an exception in thy case!"
  • January 20, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    ^^^I didn't knew Pokemon had a new tagline. I don't really dig it but oh well.

    Do adaptations count?

    • In the Jem And The Holograms comic Kimber doesn't say "Outrageous" like she did in the Jem cartoon.
    • In My Little Pony G 3 Rainbow Dash's catchphrase was "darling". Following the Core 7 soft reboot she lost her British accent, received a different personality, and changed her catchphrase to "How dashing!"

    I don't honestly read Archie's Sonic but I don't think Soic uses his old catchphrase anymore. Anyone who reads it know when it died out? I assume he no longer uses it at least.

    I haven't actually seen season 2 so I may be wrong but I am pretty sure Megan lost he catchphrase over time. I remember the episode with Gar clarifying it and Invasion Megan doesn't seem like the type to say it.

    • In season 1 of Young Justice Miss Martian would say "Hello Megan!" very frequently. It was eventually revealed she borrowed the catchphrase from an old sitcom and had been trying to be like the character from the show.

    Also posting some stuff from random Catchphrase pages, so I don't know the accuracy.

    • Mung Daal from Chowder had a catchphrase of "Sweet beans in a basket!" in the first trailer and pilot. It was dropped afterwards.
    • As seen in the "False Alarm" of Hey Arnold, Eugene's catchphrase was "I'm fine" but it was changed to "I'm okay" by the end of Season 1.
    • Bart from The Simpsons has changed his catchphrase several times. He has used "Eat my shorts", "Don't have a cow, man", "Ay Caramba", and when introducing himself "Im Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?"
    • "I want cheesy poofs!" and "I'm not fat, I'm big-boned!" were popular catchphrases for Cartman in the early seasons of South Park but haven't been used in years.
    • The 4Kids dub of Winx Club gave each girl a catch phrase on the bonus DVDs that came with the dolls. The phrases were never actually said in any version of the show.
      Bloom: Earth girls rule!
      Stella: Style is, like, so always in style!
      Flora: Peace out!
      Musa: Royalty rocks! (Referring to the dub error that Musa is a princess)
      Tecna: I'll catch you on the download!
    • Nanoha from Lyrical Nanohas Catch Phrase was originally intended to be her incantation, "Lyrical Magical", but that tapered off and was replaced with something that fits the beam spamming White Devil a lot more: "Zenryoku Zenkai!" ("Maximum Power!")
    • Originally Team Rocket from Pokemon "Yana kanji!" in Japanese when blasting off however later episodes use "Ii kanji!" instead.
    • Wonder Woman, in the old days, would say "Suffering Sappho!" This was writer Charles Moulton's tongue-in-cheek Take That to Moral Guardians who claimed she was secretly a lesbian, and it fell out of use when Moulton left the book. She had about a half dozen similar exclamations that lasted her throughout the Silver Age, though, including "Great Hera!", "Thunderbolts of Jove!", "Neptune's Trident!", and "Shades of Pluto!" Nowadays she is more likely to say "Great Hera!" or "Holy Hera!"
  • January 21, 2016
    LondonKdS
    Another Doctor Who example: the Eleventh Doctor's "Geronimo!" was dropped after the first season.
  • January 21, 2016
    captainmarkle
    Lets Play

  • April 20, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    • Annie from Little Orphan Annie had a catchphrase of "Hot alligator!" that was eventually dropped. Her "Leapin' lizards" catchphrase stayed though.
  • April 20, 2016
    bowserbros
    Anime and Manga
    • One of the most notable elements of Fist Of The North Star is Kenshiro's line "You Are Already Dead," delivered to those due to explode. However, this catchphrase was only really around during the Southern Cross arc, and disappeared after Shin's death. It does get uttered again on rare occasions, but by then its catchphrase status had practically died out.
  • April 20, 2016
    AHI-3000
    Also under Futurama, there was a lampshaded example where Cubert deleted old catchphrases from Bender's hard drive.
  • April 20, 2016
    DAN004
    Changing an old catchphrase to a new one counts, right?
  • June 25, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    Bump.
  • June 29, 2016
    TonyG
    Penny's catch phrase in the first season of Happy Endings was "Ah-mazing!" She quietly dropped it on the second season, acknowledging that it was So Last Season... It's really more of a summer expression.
  • August 15, 2016
    DustSnitch
    The intro was a little vague as to this Trope's relations to others. All in all, it seems ready to launch.
  • August 17, 2016
    DustSnitch
    The OP hasn't responded to this since at least January, so I'm going to launch it.
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