As seen on stage, and repeated endlessly
on the streets (okay, one of them
you're not supposed
to say in public, but that's never stopped anybody before).
Please add entries in the following format:
- The name of the play (if it belongs in the "Other" folder).
- The meme. [[labelnote:Explanation]]The explanation behind the meme, if necessary.
- Further mutations and successor memes, if any.
open/close all folders
Gilbert and Sullivan
- The Pirates of Penzance:
- HMS Pinafore:
"Well, hardly ever!"
- The Memetic Mutation on this one was so big back in Gilbert and Sullivan's day that Gilbert remarked he never wanted to hear it quoted again. "What, never?" some nearby wag remarked. The writer was unable to stop himself from responding in kind.
- The ending of The Pirates of Penzance originally had, after the revelation that the pirates were noblemen gone wrong, a variation on this exchange: "What, all noblemen?" (etc.)
- Shows up in satires, for self-deprecation, or to question the truth of a negative statement ("I don't...", "They won't...", "He'll never...", "She didn't...". Often shortened to "'<Negative statement>', 'What never?', 'Well, hardly ever.'" or "<Negative statement>, well, hardly ever."
- "To be or not to be?": Parodied, punned on, and played with innumerable times. Also used seriously in fiction to indicate that a character is suicidal. Explanation
- "Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune..." Explanation
- "To sleep: perchance to dream..." Explanation
- "Though this be madness, yet there's method in't." In its most common modern mutation, turned into "There's method to my madness."
- "Murder most foul..." Explanation
- "Alas, Poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio." Both the speech itself and the visual of a guy talking to a skull have mutated. (And the line is often misquoted as "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well.")
- "The play's the thing" Explanation
- "O! I am slain!" Explanation
- Macbeth, or "The Scottish Play":
- "Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire, burn and cauldron, bubble. Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog." Explanation
- Out, Damned Spot!! Explanation
- Romeo and Juliet:
- The entire balcony scene became a theatre meme.
- "Romeo, Romeo... wherefore art thou Romeo?": Mutated into being understood as "where are you, Romeo?" rather than the real meaning, "why did you have to be Romeo (Montague)?"
- What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Explanation
- "A plague on both your houses!" Explanation
- Two households, both alike in dignity... Explanation
- The Analogy Backfire of describing a relationship as "like Romeo and Juliet". What, you're both going to kill yourselves in the end?
- "Do you bite your thumb, sir?" Get two Shakespeare fans in a room, bite your thumb, and prepare to see the whole scene reenacted.
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: "Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads. Heads."
- Henry V:
- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. Explanation
- Once more unto the breach! Explanation
- "The game's afoot." Explanation
- Henry VI:
- The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers! Explanation
- Julius Caesar:
- The Merchant of Venice:
- A "pound of flesh", a lawful but nevertheless unreasonable recompense that is ruthlessly pursued. Explanation
- Shylock, as a term for a loan shark. Explanation
- A Winter's Tale:
- "The Hills are Alive": The famous opening sequence of the film The Sound of Music.
- The cimematography is widely copied and parodied, the most common forms are "person spinning joyously in a meadow sings about something stupid or depressing"; "person spinning joyously in a meadow has something bad happen to them"; and simply "Person spinning joyously in meadow singing (badly)". Another common parody is to overlay the soundtrack of birds and music with unpleasant noises.
- The phrase has also become a memetic mutation, crossing over into Horror fandom, where it is used to herald something bad about to happen.
- 525,600 minutes, "Seasons of Love". Explanation
- Mutated into being used to refer to almost anything related to the span of a year
- Oh, Rent! Rent!
- According to No Exit, "Hell is other people." It is most commonly mutated into either "Hell is X" or "X is other people".
- She Stoops To Conquer: "Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no fibs."Explanation
- Little Shop of Horrors: "FEED MEEEEEE, SEYMOUR." Explanation
- It's becoming increasingly common on MLIA to write a comment actually related to the post, then, at the end of the comment, begin singing a Wicked-song.
- "The Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show: used when things are getting weird, possibly also part of the inspiration for the Peter Panda Dance in the movie The Pacifier.
- "We love you Conrad, oh, yes we do-ooooo!" from Bye Bye Birdie. a common mutation is simply appending "Oh, yes, we do-ooooo!" to the end of a statement.
- A very old meme comes from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play Götz von Berlichingen, in which the title character's castle is under attack in the third act and a bishop demands his surrender. Götz responds with "Leck mich im Arsch," which translates to, essentially, "kiss my ass." Almost immediately after the play's debut, it became the most famous quote from the play, to the point where "to quote Götz von Berlichingen" is a common German euphemism. Mozart even wrote a song that consists almost entirely of quoting it.
- Peer Gynt: To be "utterly yourself"/Sig selv nok. Entered Norwegian political debate decades ago. The play will never stop mutating.
- Avenue Q:
- The King and I gives us memes, tropes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "AAAT LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAST! MY AAARRRMM IS COMPLEEEEETE AGAAAAAAAAAAAAAIN!!!" (When Sweeney picks up his razor again.) It is difficult for any two Sweeney fans to get together and discuss the musical without at least one of them parodying that. In all probability, both will in sycronisation.
- From Cyrano de Bergerac, "I have a wife and three children!"
- The Vagabond King: "And to Hell with Burgundy!" Explanation