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Abandoned Catchphrase

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Catchphrases are a great and simple way to help a character's image. But sometimes, catchphrases don't stick. Perhaps the writers were experimenting with one early on, but eventually decided against it. 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.



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    Anime & 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 Chūnin Selection 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. Her daughter Sarada inherited the catchphrase in Boruto.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Early English dub episodes tried to translate Meowth's Japanese Verbal Tic (Nya) as "meow" or "Meowth". By the end of Kanto, they scrapped it.
    • In Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon, Team Rocket's A Twinkle in the Sky Running Gag is replaced by a wild Bewear coming in to rescue them (a rescue that Team Rocket aren't keen to, for the most part). And thus, they rarely get to use their "We're blasting off agaaaaiiin!" cry ever since, replacing it with "We're off with a new blaaaaaaast!"
    • As a part of her Dub Personality Change, Misty lost her Japanese catchphrases in the English dub. She doesn't talk about being an "internationally known beauty" and she doesn't refer to her Pokémon as "beauties" and "steadies". This came back to haunt the dub twenty years later when an Alola episode featured Misty and Brock for the first time in a decade. It looks like Misty underwent a Girliness Upgrade, when in reality the script is just Truer to the Text.
  • 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!)note 
  • 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.
  • Except on one occasion in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Joseph Joestar (the second JoJo) no longer predicts what his opponents are about to say next like he often did in Battle Tendency.
  • Bakemonogatari: In Yotsugi Ononoki's first appearance in "Tsukihi Phoenix", she ends each sentence with "...I said, with a poised look." She appears to have actively sworn off of it when she reappears in "Mayoi Jiangshi", to the point that she immediately tells Araragi to shut up when he mentions it.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Jem and the Holograms (IDW) comic Kimber doesn't say "Outrageous" like she did in the Jem cartoon.
  • Superman:
    • In the early days of his comic, Jimmy Olsen would think "Super duper!" to himself when something went off well. It didn't last and has long since fallen into obscurity.
    • Similarly, Superman doesn't say "Great Krypton!" all that much anymore.
  • In the 1990s Sonic had "way past cool" as his catchphrase in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM). This was carried over to Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics). 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 William Moulton Marston's tongue-in-cheek Take That! to Moral Guardians who claimed she was secretly a lesbian, and it fell out of use when Marston 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!"

    Comic Strips 
  • Annie from Little Orphan Annie had a catchphrase of "Hot alligator!" that was eventually dropped, in favor of keeping "Leapin' lizards" as her catchphrase.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cars 3: Lightning doesn't use his catchphrase "Ka-chow!" (or variations of it) once throughout the film.
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe: Several Once an Episode phrases from the original series don't make their way into the movie. Not once does Isabella ever ask Phineas "Whatcha doin'?". Also, no one ever wonders where's Perry, although Phineas does say, "Oh, there you are, Perry". Also, the iconic "Yes. Yes I am" line is conspicuously absent.

    Films — Live-Action 

    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.
    • Lampshaded when Wilson appeared as himself in an episode of Father Ted and Dougal suggests that Ted quote Victor's catchphrase to him. Ted assumes that nobody will ever have done that to him and he'll find it amusing. He's wrong...
  • CSI: NY: In at least three episodes of Season 1, Mac says while interrogating suspects, "Let me start this story for you." Danny also does it once in an obvious attempt to emulate his boss. Fortunately, the writers dropped it before it became annoyingly redundant.
  • 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!" is a downplayed case; he certainly mentions it most in his first season and it's one of his least recurring quirks. It does get a few nods later on, including "The Day of The Doctor."
  • 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.
  • Full House:
    • Stephanie's catchphrases during the early seasons were "How rude!" "Well pin a rose on your nose" and "Hot dog." She dropped these as she got older. Although as a Call-Back to her childhood she starts saying "How rude!" again in Fuller House as an adult.
    • Michelle has many cute catchphrases as a child ( "You got it dude!" "Aw nuts" "You're in big trouble, mister!" etc.) but, like her sister, she eventually drops them when she gets older.
    • Kimmy said to DJ "I LOVE the way your mind works!" in several early episodes; however, after being promoted to a regular cast member, this attempted catchphrase was dropped, not appearing again until a late episode of the final season.
  • Happy Days:
    • Chachi's catchphrase was "Wa, wa, wa!" in his early appearances on the show. Thankfully dropped as he grew up.
    • The show also stopped having characters say "sit on it!" after the fifth season.
  • JJ from Good Times stopped using "DYNOMITE!" after a while.
  • By the sixth or seventh season of Diff'rent Strokes, Arnold's use of "Whatchootalkinbout" had decreased and was gone by the eighth season.
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean used to call each other "Bitch" and "Jerk" but this ritual was dropped after the second season. It's briefly brought back in season 10.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers ditched "morphinominal" after a while. It did get a call back in "Forever Red," though.
  • Arrested Development's eventual revival brought back many recurring devices from the original run, but Buster's "Hey brother" (and its variations) were not among them.
  • For over a decade, the BBC cookery competition Ready Steady Cook used a red tomato and green pepper as symbols for the two teams, and the studio audience were asked to vote for the winner with the catchphrase "Will it be red tomatoes or green peppers?". That is, until the 2007 revamp, when they started just calling the teams "red" and "green" (the teams' aprons still featured small tomato / pepper logos, but these were just The Artifact and were never mentioned otherwise). The show carried on for another couple of years without its famous catchphrase before being axed; the motif and its associated catchphrase were restored for the 2020 revival.
  • During the first episodes of The Thundermans, Phoebe had "Sweet Cheese!" as a catchphrase, but it was dropped very early on.
  • Cat from Victorious, stopped saying her catchphrase "What's that supposed to mean?"

    Video Games 
  • The Hero Cortez from TimeSplitters 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 Time Splitters 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. It started popping up again come Gen VI, but never to its initial ubiquity.
  • In the early portion of Tales of Symphonia, protagonist Lloyd has a habit of saying "Give me your name, and I shall give you mine!" Raine borrows this line when the party first meets Zelos, and hearing someone else say it, Lloyd realizes that it sounds kinda arrogant, and doesn't say it again.

    Web Animation 
  • During the early days of Homestar Runner, Strong Bad would frequently say "Holy crap!" but it eventually fell out of use. Any emails sent to him containing the phrase or any play on the word "crap" will get an annoyed response, if not outright deleted.

  • Homestuck's Vriska Serket often went on about how people were "bugging and fussing and meddling" with her in Act 5 Act 1. Outside of one mention in Act 5 Act 2, the catchphrase is dropped, largely because the Phrase Catcher, Kanaya, stopped talking to Vriska due to romantic shenanigans.

    Web Original 
  • BrainScratch Commentaries mainstay Lewis's "Peach was useful!" was abandoned after its overexposure during the Super Mario 3D World playthrough.
  • Chuggaaconroy has so many Catch Phrases that he has to stop himself from getting new ones:
    • He used "For the sheer fact" quite a bit in FireRed, but he deliberately stops himself from doing it come Pokémon Crystal.
    • He started saying "But I digress" in Kirby's Epic Yarn but told himself to stop because another Let's Player already had that catchphrase.
  • Basically enforced by the way the Game Grumps record. With dozens of videos recorded in consecutive sessions, minor in-jokes they circulate for a day or two pop in videos weeks or months down the line. Specifically:
    • Emperor Palpatine's "DO IT," as of the Mario Party 8 Finale.
    • Since the Dennis The Menace episode, "GET OUTTA HERE!"
    • "Mycaruba" came up quite a lot in the early Dan-era videos.
    • Dan initially said 'totally!' very enthusiastically whenever he agreed with Arin, though he toned it down after a few episodes after it was pointed out to him.
    • "Goddammit Ross" was abandoned for being too mean.
    • The sarcastic "Like, comment and subscribe!" stopped popping up once an end slate with a subscribe button right at the top.
    • And naturally, any catchphrase JonTron had is automatically this.
  • Ray Narvaez Jr. used to have multiple catchphrases during his time at Achievement Hunter, although as time's gone on he's retired a large number of them. The reasons for these vary; some were retired after he left, some he just stopped using, and he stopped using "YOLO" among other catchphrases thanks to fans quoting it to him ad nauseum and annoying him repeatedly.
  • The Vlogbrothers have a variety of inside jokes and catchphrases that have fallen out of favor over time. Examples include:
    • French the Llama.
    • I am a giant squids of anger!
    • Who the eff is Hank?
    • Even their motto, "Don't forget to be awesome," has been drastically downplayed as of late.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Master Shake had a catchphrase that was "Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Assemble!", which was used in the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Baffler Meal" and the first two episodes of the actual show. After that, he stopped saying it. The catchphrase returned in "Allen Part One" in Season 8 subverted as "Aqua Unit Patrol Squad, Assemble!".
  • 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!"
    • There was a brief attempt to give Leela a catchphrase related to band names. In "A Tale of Two Santas", she says, "This wangs chung," and in "Future Stock", she says, "This toads the wet sprocket." But the writers had trouble coming up with further variations on this.
  • Beavis And Butthead: Beavis' catchphrase of saying "Fire! Fire! Fire!" was abandoned because of Executive Meddling, as the show was scapegoated for a real-life mobile home fire. Writers would attempt to work around this by having Beavis say similar-sounding words like "Fryer! Fryer! Fryer!", and he got to say it again in Beavis And Butthead Do America and the 2011 revival.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart has changed his catchphrase several times. He has used "Eat my shorts", "Don't have a cow, man", "Ay Caramba", and when introducing himself "I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?"
    • Back in the earliest Tracy Ullman shorts, Homer would frequently cap off an adventure by saying "Let's all go out for frosty chocolate milkshakes!" This was dropped shortly after the full series debuted, though it occasionally surfaces when the writers poke fun at the early days of the show. The last serious use was in "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk", in Bart's Imagine Spot.
    • Not entirely abandoned but Homer's most frequent catchphrases "D'oh" and "Woohoo!" are used very rarely in the later seasons.
    • "Underachiever and proud of it" was a common T-shirt slogan, but never something that Bart actually said (it's a comment made about him in "Bart Gets an F"). Lampshaded in "Skinner's Sense of Snow": Bart finds this line written in his student records and asks, "How old is this thing?"
  • Family Guy:
    • Back before Stewie Griffin's Characterization Marches On, he would frequently shout: "Victory is mine!"
    • The first run had Lois give a catchphrase along the lines of "X is God's way of telling you that Y".
    • Lois in the earlier seasons would often say "Chris that's a terrible word" when he said something she didn't like, this was abandoned when the series was revived.
    • Certain 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 per 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!", "I'm not fat, I'm big-boned!", and especially "Screw you guys! I'm going home!" 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.
    • Sheila's "what-what-WHAAAT?!" was unused for years, only to come back for a dramedic ending in "Members Only."
  • 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:
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony (G3): Rainbow Dash's catchphrase is "darling". Following the Core 7 soft reboot, she loses her British accent, receives a different personality, and changes her catchphrase to "how dashing!"
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • In general, the first two seasons establish catchphrases for a few characters, such as Princess Celestia's "that's quite all right" and Twilight's "____, you're a genius!", which drop from use by the end of Season Two and are never used again afterwards.
      • In "Feeling Pinkie Keen", Spike uses the catchphrase "Holy Guacamole!" twice, never heard before and after that episode.
  • Young Justice: In season 1, 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. By the third season, her friends have started saying it out of habit.
  • Chowder: Mung Daal has a catchphrase of "Sweet beans in a basket!" in the first trailer and pilot. It's dropped afterwards.
  • Hey Arnold!: Played With. In "False Alarm", Eugene's catchphrase when injured is "I'm fine," but by the end of season one it's been changed to "I'm okay."
  • Winx Club: The 4Kids Entertainment dub gives each girl a catchphrase on the bonus DVDs that came with the dolls. The phrases are 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!note 
    Tecna: I'll catch you on the download!
  • Looney Tunes: Justified with Daffy Duck due to his change of personality over the years. In his early hyperactive days he would often yell "Woo hoo-hoo-HOO-hoo-hoo!" while bouncing around like a maniac. He would later drop this once the writers changed his character from a Cloudcuckoolander to an egotistical loser. His main catchphrase became "You're despicable!", though the original laugh pops up when he gets a Character Check or a Character Rerailment.
  • Early Phineas and Ferb episodes sometimes had Phineas say "How serendipitous!" Unlike the show's many, many other catchphrases, this one didn't stick. Also, as the series progressed, the "Aren't you a little young" gag was used less and less frequently, but the response to it "Yes. Yes, I am" or a variation thereof was used a lot.
    • There's also Dr. Doofenshmirtz's early catchphrase: "Ah, Perry the Platypus! As usual, your presence/timing is un-[adjective]. And by un-[adjective] I mean COMPLETELY [ADJECTIVE]!" In later seasons, everything after "Ah, Perry the Platypus!" was dropped.
  • Rick and Morty had Rick's "Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!" up until the end of season 1, when Morty found out it means "I am in great pain; Please help me." Later lampshaded.
    Morty: Hey Rick? You know this whole time, I haven't once heard you say that "Wubba Lubba Dub Dub" thing that you usually say!"
    Rick: Don't need to. I have a new catch phrase.
    Morty: Oh yeah? What's that, Rick?
    Rick: "I love my grandkids"...PSYCH! Just kidding; my new catch phrase is... "I don't give a FUUUUUCCCCCKKKKK!" ROLL CREDITS!
  • The Fairly OddParents: Timmy's Wild Card Excuse, "Uh... internet?", was phased out after the first few seasons. As of The New '10s, the joke would be incredibly outdated had it been kept, due to the wider spread of the Internet compared to the show's beginning.
  • For a brief time in Garfield and Friends, Garfield would comment "Whoever [says or does something that annoys Garfield] should be drug out into the street and shot."
  • Arthur: Muffy used to have "Vomitrocious!", phased out after the first few seasons. It was last used as the title of a season 8 episode, where the line isn't spoken at all.


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