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Self-Botched Catch Phrase

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A character messes up his own catch phrase.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Rytex on Sep 26th 2017 at 1:07:17 PM
Last Edited By:
Rytex on Sep 27th 2017 at 9:58:17 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Do We Have This One?, Needs More Examples, Rolling Updates

"Agent Washington... you just got Sar— *gunshot, explosion* God dammit, I messed up the one-liner!"
—Sarge, Red vs. Blue, trying to say "You just got Sarge'd."

It's become a staple of media that characters will have catch phrases. But sometimes, the character himself just can't get it right. It could be a combination of many things, such as they could get distracted mid-quote, or perhaps they're out of practice. Or if it's an origin story for a well-established character, you may expect them to stumble over it the first few times they try to say it.

Often will appear in Hilarious Outtakes, though whether or not it is intentional or just a flubbing of the line attempting to say it right varies, but this trope only deals when it happens In-Universe.

In a work where the common tropes tend to get deconstructed, you can expect to see this more than in one where they are played straight. Usually Played for Laughs, though sometimes it could signal a serious Out-of-Character Moment. Not to be confused with Mangled Catch Phrase for when an impostor is failing at it. Related to Borrowed Catch Phrase, when other characters take a turn at it (though only if they get it wrong).



  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, it forms a Brick Joke, with Porky Pig complaining about the studio telling him to fix his stutter in the first few minutes of the movie. At the end, he stutters so much he can't even get his usual "That's all, folks!" out, even as the lights go off around him. He ends up just having to grimace and say "Go home, folks."
  • In Underdog, the titular canine is trying to come up with a catch-phrase but constantly screws them up or makes an awful rhyme, before he settles on the classic "There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!"

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Western Animation

  • In the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", Hermes is so shocked from seeing his office trashed on inspection day, he can only mutter "Sweet...something...of someplace" instead of his usual Mad Libs Catch Phrase.
  • The Simpsons featured an episode where Springfield Elementary got school uniforms, causing the school to become more obedient. This leads Nelson to flub his own Signature Laugh with "Haw... huh?"

Feedback: 9 replies

Sep 26th 2017 at 1:12:25 PM

  • Futurama: In "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", Hermes is so shocked from seeing his office trashed on inspection day, he can only mutter "Sweet...something...of someplace."

Sep 26th 2017 at 1:17:39 PM

In Yu Gi Oh The Abridged Series, Kaiba at one point reverses his catch phrase (Screw The Rules I Have Money) into Screw The Money I Have Rules instead. He notices the mess up after a moment.

Sep 26th 2017 at 1:18:09 PM


  • Porky Pig attempts to close Looney Tunes Back In Action with his catchphrase "That's all folks!" However, Porky's stammering is worse than usual, while the soundstage crew strike the set and kill the lights. He folds his arms in disgust, and deadpans, "Go home, folks."

Sep 26th 2017 at 1:19:08 PM

  • On the Futurama episode "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", Hermes becomes so distraught that he can't do his Mad Libs Catch Phrase ("Great X of [place that rhymes with X]!"). Instead it comes out "Great something of... someplace."
  • On one episode of The Simpsons, Springfield Elementary institutes a school uniform, which causes the students to become more obedient. Nelson, in particular, forgets his Signature Laugh. "Haw...huh?"

Sep 26th 2017 at 1:34:26 PM

All suggestions above have been added in.

Sep 26th 2017 at 1:35:48 PM

Also worth pointing out, I named it Self-Botched as opposed to Self-Mangled (where Mangled Catch Phrase already exists) because, while it would create a nice contrast, I felt it would be easier to distinguish between the two with different wording.

Sep 27th 2017 at 8:09:52 AM

Also, question. Should the trope consider Hilarious Outtakes when the actors fail at it? I originally intended it where it only happens In Universe, but sometimes they like to put it in intentional outtakes, so... you know, a weird little Zig Zagged Trope.

Sep 27th 2017 at 9:58:17 AM

Separated Examples section from text with a horizontal rule.