X Called; They Want Their Y Back
Robert "Fish" Fishman:
1991 called, they want their teenage angst back. Amelia:
No, they just called again. They want that joke back.
A common put down about how someone ran headfirst into Fashion Dissonance
(or something related). Often it's something that is no longer fashionable, or that famously works for someone, but almost no one else.
Runs headfirst into Totally Radical
nowadays. A common variation is to replace "They want their (word) back" with "They said you can keep the (word)."
Compare If I Wanted X, I Would Y
; Better by a Different Name
Not to be confused with We Want Our Jerk Back
. See Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back
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- An Australian ad for Kentucky Fried Chicken used the line, "The pigeons called. They want their lunch back."
- American restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday released several TV advertisements regarding its image rebranding in 2007. One ad involved a spokesman removing a stained glass lamp from a restaurant saying: "The '70s called, they want their lamp back."
- This picture posted on the Compare the Meerkat twitter feed.
- A Nokia ad for their Lumia 1020 has the following from a Samsung User to an iPhone user: "2007 called. It wants its cameraphone back."
- In a Super Bowl commercial, Radio Shack goes the Domino's Pizza route of Self-Deprecation with "The Eighties Called. They Want Their Store Back." In The Stinger, Slimer appears in the newly remodeled store, and is dejected when he finds out he's too late.
- Left 4 Dead Comic: Kenny Rogers' balls called. They want their hair back from your face...
"So... You have a close enough relationship with Kenny Rogers' balls that they called you, huh?"
- In one story, Peter is going undercover at a club for Vampire Vannabes. He dresses in what he thinks is appropriate goth-gear, only for an Edward Cullen lookalike to taunt "The nineties called, they want their vampire back!"
- "Hitler called, he wants his look back." That was Aunt May from Ultimate Spider-Man. At J. freaking Jonah freaking Jameson.
- In a story where he had Wolverine hostage, Deadpool taunted Daken like this ("It was 1986. It wants its hair..."). When he says "back", Daken had already chopped off his hand.
- Vampirella vs. Fluffy the Vampire Killer:
Fluffy: I'm Fluffy, I kill vampires, and the camel called.
Fluffy: It wants its toe back!
- From Li'l Gotham, some playful ribbing between Colin and Damian.
Haha! The '80s called—they want radical
back, and stop by the '90s and drop that flannel off on the way!
- Star Wars Fan Film The Formula.
Tom "Servo": "It is pointless to resist?" Yeah, the Emperor just called. He wants his friggin' lines back!
- Naruto The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show
- This Abridged Series will probably single-handedly turn this into a Dead Horse Trope.
Hey, Sakura, Christina Ricci
called. She wants her giant forehead back, and her movie career. Sakura:
Well, Renee Zellweger
called. She wants her UGLY BLONDE BITCH FACE back! ...And her movie career.
- "Spoof Movie no Jutsu"
Hey, David Bowie. The seventies called — they want their timely references back. Bowie-sensei:
Oh yeah? Well, Advent Children
called and they want their crappy villains back!
- Firefly of "Firefly Says" manages to turn this around and burn the one who used it on her:
The eighties called, they want their hair
) You know what they say, you can take the mare out of the eighties but you can't take the eighties out of the mare. Oh, and by the way, SARAH JESSICA PARKER CALLED, SHE WANTS HER FACE
- The Harry Potter fanfic 30 Minutes II: The Gathering Storm, chapter 8 has this line in Harry's first potions class at Hogwarts, in reference to Professor Snape:
Harry: (whispering) Johnny Cash called, he wants his wardrobe back.
- The pro wrestling story, A Ring of Their Own, had FWF commentator John Bradshaw Layfield saying this during a match that began with Ivory giving Michelle McCool three armdrags in a row:
John Bradshaw Layfield: 1987 called. They want their wrestling moves back.
- Ponies One Half, chapter twelve: "Sonic called. He wants his theme song back!" It Makes Sense in Context.
- ExceedinglyPeculiarChick pulls off an extremely funny one in her Percy Jackson crackfic "Baby Got Back" just after Leo Rickrolls every single person reading the fanfiction.
Thalia: Leo, nineteen eighty-seven called. It wants its punchline back.
- Alexander Creed: Similar to the Ultimate Spider-Man example above, Peter eventually tells J. Jonah Jameson, while quitting his job at the Daily Bugle, that "Hitler called and he wants his mustache back."
Films — Live-Action
- "1976 called. They want their hair back," was said to Joe Dirt about his mullet.
- At the end of Oceans Eleven: "Ted Nugent called. He wants his shirt back."
- The Rocker
Robert "Fish" Fishman: 1991 called, they want their teenage angst back.
Amelia: No, they just called again. They want that joke back.
- A variation, from The Breakfast Club:
Vernon: Any questions?
Bender: I got a question: does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?
- Esther from Orphan gets this from a classmate about her old-fashioned, frilly dress. "Oh, look. Little Bo Peep texted me. She wants her outfit back."
- Subverted (but to make it funnier) in How I Met Your Mother. Marshall wants to wear some really tacky pants they called "Joey Buttafuoco pants". Ted says, "Bel Biv Devoe called, even they don't want those pants back."
- In an episode of Happy Endings: Dave has this line, which only he thinks is any good.
Dave: Jealous called, they want much back so they can form the following sentence — "Jealous much?"
- Dancing with the Stars
Sonia Kruger: (about a wig) Willie Mason called. He says he wants his hair back.
- Degrassi The Next Generation
- Kyle XY, episode "What's the Frequency, Kyle?":
Josh Trager: Hilary Duff called and she wants her shirt back.
- Joan of Arcadia, episode "No Bad Guy":
Luke: Copernicus called; the universe doesn't revolve around you.
Joan: What a coincidence, because the dork police called and said they want their leader back.
- Criminal Minds
Garcia: Believe me when I tell you the 1980s just called; they want their security system back.
- The Office (US), episode "The Merger":
- A variation: "Hey, George! The ocean called, they're running out of shrimp." "Yeah, well, the jerk store called, they're running out of you!" "What's the difference? You're their all-time best seller."
- Well the life support machine called...
- And what made this a real kicker was that George had been saving this comeback up all episode, and had even gone so far as to recreate the original scenario where the first putdown had been used so that he could spring it. He wasn't prepared for a comeback to his comeback.
- Scrubs has J.D. describe an elderly patient as a "neat old lady" and Turk tells him "the 1930s called, they want their lingo back."
- Full House:
Hey Kimmy, Big Bird
called. He wants his legs back.
- Oswald on The Drew Carey Show won a wrestling tournament, and the trophy is, well...
- Frasier, to Niles: "Niles, I've got news for you — Copernicus called and you are not the centre of the universe!"
- Frasier's comment to the teenage daughter of one of his dates in "Can't Buy Me Love".
- From a special episode of American Idol:
(to Jack Black
) The School of Rock
called, they want their diploma back...
- Sometimes used by either Stacey London or Clinton Kelly on What Not to Wear to mock some of the outdated or unusual fashion choices made by the subjects of their show.
- Kelso attempted this in the That '70s Show episode "Bye-Bye Basement". Fez walks in wearing a puffy shirt, and Kelso tries to make fun of him, but isn't very successful.
Kelso: Hey, uh, puffy-shirt guy called, he wants his puffy shirt back.
- 30 Rock. Jack uses this line a lot on Liz.
- Saturday Night Live
- And speaking of The Weakest Link, this gem from the half-hour daytime edition with George Gray:
Gino: The '70s called, they want their [sweater] back!
George: Now, that's not nice, not everybody can afford to shop at Pimps R Us!
- From Castle:
Castle: Well, how about just a lowkey evening with your girlfriends? You guys can have a John Hughes marathon and fill out a Cosmo quiz.
Alexis: Dad, the '80s just called, it wants its plan back.
- A Mad TV sketch during the California gubernatorial recall, with a confrontation between governor Grey Davis and would-be governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:
Grey Davis: (answering the phone mid-sentence) What's that? Okay, I'll tell him. (beat) That was Skeletor. He wants your wife's face back.
- From an episode of The Jerry Springer Show that made it into the ads on at least one channel:
(to a son who won't shave and has long hair
called; they want their caveman back!
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Drew did this a couple of times in reference to Ryan's shoes.
Drew: That was the Ringling Brothers; they want their shoes back. Emmett can't go on without his shoes.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Space Children", Mike's reaction to the title of the short film Century 21 Calling is "Ooh, they want their little gold jacket back."
- Used and then lampshaded on Psych. Gus is upset because Shawn took him away from his poached egg.
Shawn: Dame Judi Dench called, she wants her breakfast back.
Gus: (incredulous) Did you just do the 'something called it wants its something back' bit?
- How to Be Indie: In "How to Put Your Best Foot Forward", Indy is wearing her brother's AJ's hand-me-down shirt that is way too back for her. Marlon says "The Western hemisphere called. It wants its shirt back".
- Entertainment Weekly has a few examples in some pages, including the "Bullseye" sections. One "Bullseye" section (Issue # 1315, June 13, 2014) says, "Mary Stuart Masterson called, Mackensie. She doesn't want her haircut back."
- Ebaumsworld's game Avalanche routinely dishes out insults when you lose, one of which is "Your village called. They want their idiot back." Dramacon used a variation of this for a T-shirt: "Your village called. They want their cosplayer back."
- Unskippable about Vincent's cape in Dirge of Cerberus:
"Todd McFarlane called. Spawn wants his cape back."
- Graham Stark on LoadingReadyRun spent $130 just to pull off the joke more effectively.
- From DeceasedCrab's Let's Play video of Rose & Camellia:
- Related, Hardcore Gaming, talking about Zeromus (the original unexpected final boss): "Phantasy Star called; it wants its critter back."
- Professor Otaku does a Let's Play, saying, "Sky walker? Luke called. He wants his name back."
- "ABBA called, they want their toilet seat back."
- A variation occurs in the video where The Nostalgia Critic and The Angry Video Game Nerd reviewed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Making of the Coming Out of Our Shells Tour.
Hey, MC Hammer
called. He's being outsucked.
- From Atop the Fourth Wall, while Linkara is on the phone with The Cinema Snob.
- College Humor takes this literally by having a personification of "The Nineties" actually call someone to say they want their outfit back.
- Epic Rap Battles of History uses this in Mr T vs. Mr. Rogers:
(picks up phone
) Hello? (holds up phone to Mr. Rogers
) It's for you! Bill Cosby
wants his sweater!
- In an IGN review of Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun for Wii, the subtitle under the review header says, "1995 called, they want their game back."
- Subverted in The Venture Bros. episode "The Invisible Hand of Fate":
Waylon Flowers called, he wants his madam back. Boom! Hunter Gathers:
Oh yeah? Well the Village People
called, AND THEY WANT YOU TO GO FUCKING KILL YOURSELF YOU PRANCEY BASTARD!
- The Simpsons
- Subverted in American Dad!:
Steve, a homosexual giant called, he wants his shirt back.
) Homosexual Giant:
Sorry, false alarm, I found it under my couch...
- MTV's CGI Spider-Man: The New Animated Series had this in "The Party", as Harry is drinking a martini.
- In Rick and Morty
- In episode "Raising Gazorpazorp"
- Rick says to Jerry "2003 just called, they want their easy target back", to which Jerry replies "1995 just called, they want their 'certain year called wanting its blank back' formula back"
- In Regular Show, using this phrase will literally send Y back to X. The whole plot of the episode was that Mordecai and Rigby, the lead characters, have cell phones from the 1980s. When they get a call that says, "The '80s called, they want their cell phones back!", since the two were holding the phone, they went back to the '80s. This was used at the end of the episode, where the two call their boss and (since they now know it's possible,) send the recliner he's sitting in back to the 1970s.
- Played with (takes on a new meaning when you consider Archer's Ambiguous Time Period):
Sterling: Hi, it's the 1930s. Can we have our words, clothes, and shitty airplane back? [...] Call you back, 1930s! And hey, watch out for that Adolf Hitler. He's a bad egg!
- Upon learning how slow a rigid airship can be:
Archer: Hello, airplanes? It's blimps. You win.
- Mission Hill: Done by Andy, while Kevin is concentrating on his homework (by constantly saying "Bling blong").
Andy: Hitler called, he wants his haircut back.
Andy: (goosestepping, heiling and with his finger of his upper lip) I vant mien hiarcut back!
- Inverted in, Spongebob Squarepants, where Squidward gets one in.
Ms. Priss: Greetings. Although your establishment seems repugnant and foul in nature, it seems not to offend our sensitivities. It is for that reason, plus the fact that we have been stuck on a tour bus for several days, that my sisters and I would like to EAT something here.
Squidward: Okay. But first let me call the mortician and tell him his uniform's been stolen. (cracks up) Clothing zinger!
- Parodied in the Uncle Grandpa episode "1992 Called". Pizza Steve tells Uncle Grandpa "1992 called, they want their pants back", which turns out to be literally true.
- During the 3rd 2012 presidential debate, held on Oct. 22, 2012, Barack Obama told opponent Mitt Romney, "The 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War's been over for 20 years." The comment was in reply to a statement Romney had made on March 26 of that year in an interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN. In the interview, Romney stated, "Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They — they fight every cause for the world's worst actors.".
- In an Internet article saying that women doing more housework helps them lose more weight, one comment read, "The '50s called, they want their article back".
- Meme inspired by the polar vortex that brought subzero temperatures and windchills to the American Midwest and East in the winter of 2014: "Antarctica called. It wants its weather back."
- In response to the shitstorm that erupted over Coca-Cola's multicultural Super Bowl ad, one person on Twitter jokingly remarked "Looking forward to RNC banning Coca-Cola products at 2016 election." Someone else responded to it "MSNBC called. They want their smear campaign back."
- This meme.