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Alternate Catchphrase Inflection

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"Hmph. That was about the weakest objection I've ever heard, Mr. Wright."

Many characters have a Character Catchphrase, an iconic quote that they say in certain situations (such as when insulting someone, at the end of the episode, or when defeating someone or being defeated) or even just all the time (sometimes literally all the time). Now, sometimes this catchphrase is always said in a particular tone of voice... except when it's not.

Usually, it's a sign that things are getting serious if a character says their catchphrase in a different tone of voice than usual. A weak, hoarse, or out-of-breath voice may signify that they're sick, injured, tired, on drugs, or even dying. A lack of enthusiasm might mean a character is in a slump or suffering from Sleep Deprivation (though it could also mean they're just bored) and conversely, enthusiasm where there normally is none might mean that the character has gone insane and/or isn't taking things as seriously as they should. A sad voice... well, that goes without saying, and a scared or questioning voice often means the character is realising they're in for it. A quieter voice than usual could mean any of those things, while a louder voice could mean the character is angry.

This is not always negative, however: characters may say their catchphrase in a sentimental voice if a moment is focusing on love (romantic or platonic) or nostalgia or other such emotions.

See also Self-Botched Catchphrase, Verbal Ticked, and Subverted Catchphrase where they don't even say their catchphrase at all. Can overlap with Not So Stoic, Meaningful Echo, Creepy Monotone, Electronic Speech Impediment, Dying Vocal Change, Instant Soprano, Ironic Echo, Beware the Nice Ones, Let's Get Dangerous!, Stutter Stop, and O.O.C. Is Serious Business. If someone is saying a different person's catchphrase in the wrong tone, that's usually a Mangled Catchphrase, but sometimes isn't if they're not trying to pass off as the one with the catchphrase. If the Signing Off Catchphrase (i.e. the catchphrase said at the end of the episode) is said in a different tone, it could mean that the episode is a Very Special Episode, the character is sick or tired (if tired, it could overlap with Go-to-Sleep Ending or Tired After the Song), or (especially in kids' shows) someone else is asleep and the character doesn't want to wake them.

Important note: Only add context if the catchphrase is normally said in a particular tone. If tone of voice doesn't matter with the catchphrase, it's People Sit on Chairs.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the anime of Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens, the characters are excited about the latest video (despite the fact they probably have no proper player for it, since they mistakenly assumed it was on DVD), talking about how it's a Blu-Ray and "It's a Sony!" All of this ends when someone hands them an old 8-track tape (also unplayable). They mention, "It's a Sony..."
  • In My Hero Academia, All Might always heralds his arrival with an uplifting and triumphant, "I am here!" When he shows up at USJ to rescue 1-A from the League of Villains, his tone drops to be low and intimidating, reflecting just how angry he is at the League for attacking his students.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: While more is added to Domon's Shining Finger catchphrase when it levels up and becomes the Erupting Burning Finger, the lines are also delivered with a lot more anger, reflecting how the first time he uses it he's enraged at seeing the actions of his brother Kyoji.
    Domon: This hand of mine glows with an awesome POWEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!
  • Played with in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Shirogane normally imagines Kaguya (or on rare occasions, the other way around) saying "how cute" in a condescending tone. When she actually says it, it's always with complete sincerity or (during the Ice arc) scornful.
  • In Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, the last time Noa says her catchphrase "annoying and gross", she says it affectionately and with a heart in her speech bubble to signify that she thinks it's cute instead of stalkerish when Yamada knows a lot about her.

    Films — Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants usually says his catchphrase "I'm ready!" in an upbeat, highly enthusiastic tone, but in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, he says it in a dejected manner after learning that he didn't get the job of manager of the Krusty Krab 2.
  • Tigger from the Winnie the Pooh franchise normally says goodbye to his friends with "T-T-F-N, Ta-ta for now!", but in The Tigger Movie, after being deceived by them, he tells them "T-T-F-E, Ta-ta... Forever!" in a heartbroken tone.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • In the comics, Captain America's famous catchphrase when he's on The Avengers is "Avengers, assemble!" telling as a Battle Cry. In Avengers: Endgame instead, when the Final Battle is about to start between the 2014 Thanos and his whole army against the allies from all ages brought by Doctor Strange, he finally pronounced his catchphrase, but instead of yelling it, he says it in a calm and determined tone, which made a more powerful effect than the comics version.
    Captain America: Avengers...assemble.
  • Galaxy Quest: Sir Alexander Dane is a Classically-Trained Extra who hates having been pigeonholed into the role of the alien doctor Lazarus of Tev'Meck in the titular sci-fi TV show, which is clearly a Deconstructive Parody of Star Trek. He especially hates his catchphrase, "By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!" and is disgusted at having to deliver the line at a fan convention and hearing it said back to him by eager fans as he signs autographs with contempt. Near the end of the film, when the alien Quellek is shot and dying in his arms, he says the phrase with conviction to comfort the dying man and turns it into a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner before getting revenge on the killer.
  • In The Goonies, Mouth says, "Jerk alert" or some variant a few times in a smug, snarky tone when someone he doesn't like shows up (Chunk, Data, Troy's father and his lawyer). When the Fratellis catch up to them in the tunnels, he yells it in a frantic, genuinely terrified tone.
  • In The Smurfs, all of the Smurfs share the catchphrase of "La la la la la la, la la la la la." This is usually sung to a merry tune, but when preparing to fight with Gargamel, they chant it instead to show that they mean business.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Spock's traditional, stoic "Live long and prosper" is reduced to a barely understandable, choking statement as he is dying from radiation poisoning. He wheezes out "...and...prosper" just before he succumbs.
  • In Super, the hero Crimson Bolt tends to shout, "Shut up, crime!" in a loud, bombastic voice. Towards the end, apparently defeated by the villain, he says it in a low, steely voice before delivering a crippling Groin Attack.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road has the Warboys who scream "witness me" before performing kamikaze attacks and Nux is no different except that he fails his attempt twice. At the climax he says the line in a calm, saddened tone to his new comrades just before committing his Heroic Sacrifice.

  • In the kids' book Monkey and Me, the girl says, "Monkey, and me, monkey and me", every page in a neutral voice (i.e. no tone indicators). On the last page, she puts an ellipsis between every word, possibly to signify the story ending or because she's thirsty (she mentions having tea).
  • In Winnie the Pooh, the story "A Search is Organdized" reveals that Pooh and Piglet believe that when a heffalump thinks it's caught someone, it says, "Ho-ho!" in a gloating voice, but if you only hum, it will say it again in a surprised, unsure voice, and then if you keep humming, it'll try to say, "Ho-ho!" again but turn it into a cough because apparently "When you say, 'ho-ho' twice, in a gloating sort of way, and the other person only hums, you suddenly find, just as you begin to say it the third time, that [...] it isn't ho-ho-ish anymore."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Shadow from Bear in the Big Blue House usually says her catchphrase "Just try and catch me!" enthusiastically, but in "The Big Sleep", she whispers it so as not to wake Ojo, Pip, Pop, Tutter, and Treelo, who were having a Slumber Party in the living room.
  • In Bones, Brennan gets a head injury in the series finale that affects her ability to process and recall information. Her “I don’t know what that means” catchphrase in seeing the bone list she had made before the lab blew up is much more uncertain and somewhat frightened than when she usually says it.
  • Cheers once had an inverted example. Normally, when Norm enters the bar, he gives a cheerful greeting and everybody else cheerfully calls out, "Norm!" In one episode, he enters the bar looking devastated but still gives his cheerful greeting. Everybody then says, "Norm?" in a concerned tone.
  • Community:
    • Alex Osborne is better known as "Starburns" due to his star-shaped sideburns. He hates the nickname and tells people, "My name is Alex" in an annoyed tone. During "Pillows and Blankets", a rift forms between Troy and Abed and the student body starts to take sides. The Dean tries to stop the argument and specifically tells Alex to stand down, addressing him as "Starburns". He angrily replies, "My. Name. Is. Alex!" showing how high tensions are running.
    • Magnitude is practically only known for his catchphrase "Pop Pop!" which is delivered quite cheerfully with a "raise the roof" gesture. In "Introduction to Teaching", a riot breaks out and Magnitude takes part, delivering, "Pop pop!" as a battle cry and throwing his fists in the air.
  • In The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laura usually says "Oh Rob!" in a weepy, half-coherent warble after something deeply upsets her, but on at least two occasions ("Never Name a Duck" and "All About Eavesdropping") she uses a different tone (horror and indignation respectively).
  • Doctor Who:
    • Ten regularly says variations of "No, don't do that", in an embarrassed tone, generally when his companions try to say something in a local accent/language. In "Midnight", Ten says the phrase to Donna in an utterly broken tone when she repeats some of his words back to him - he'd just escaped being possessed by an eldritch abomination which had paralysed him and forced him to repeat everything he heard.
    • All Daleks say, "Exterminate!" when they want to kill someone (which, considering they're evil killing machines, is a lot). Usually, it's shouted with pauses between each syllable and a rising inflection ("EX-TER-MIN-ATE!") but when a Dalek begins thinking it's Oswin Oswald, it starts out saying, "Eggs" because Clara was making souffles, but then realises it's a Dalek and awkwardly turns it into "Eggs...stir...minate?".
    • In a similar instance, the Volatix Cabal's catchphrase is a slight variation on the Dalek chant, to represent how, even in comparison to the Daleks, they're totally insane with utter hate for everything that isn't a Dalek: "EXTERMINHATE!"
    • In Dalek, the lone Dalek utters the catchphrase slowly and solemnly as it is Driven to Suicide.
  • On Family Matters, Steve Urkel usually asks "Did I do that?" guiltily after causing some mishap. In the episode where he makes the Urkelbot, the robot locks him in a closet and proceeds to make moves on Laura. Upon hearing this, Steve charges through the door in a move that even surprises him. When he sees the aftermath of his actions, he asks "Did I do that?" in astonishment.
  • In a case of this happening the first time the catchphrase is used, in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Captain Marvelous usually delivers the catchphrase "Hade ni ikuze!" (roughly "Let's make it flashy!") in an enthusiastic tone. However, in the first episode, just after the team transforms for the first time, he says it in a bored, offhand deadpan as he immediately starts blasting the enemies.
  • On Kamen Rider Drive, Go Shijima usually says, "Tracking! Terminating! Always at...Mach speed! Kamen Rider...Mach!" as a hammy Pre-Asskicking One-Liner. However, in Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Mach he delivered it in a Tranquil Fury to the Revenger Roidmude after transforming into his new form, Mach Chaser.
    Go: "Tracking. Terminating. Always at...Mach speed. Kamen Rider...Mach Chaser!"
    • In one episode where Shinnosuke became Drive Type Dead Heat in anger, he would say his catchphrase in an angry tone as opposed to his usual persuading tone.
      Shinnosuke: I somehow just can't let my feelings go... Let's GO FOR A RIDE!
    • Normally, when Shinnosuke adjusts his necktie and says his trademark "It's come together. My brain cells are in top gear.", he says it confidently. Episode 17 had him say it so quietly that Kyu Saijo took note of it.
  • Scrubs: Inverted. JD and Turk love to mess with Hooch over the series. Always saying, "Hooch is crazy" at his reactions. It slowly evolves from being said in amusement to concern to fear as Hooch's temper gets shorter and more extreme.
  • In Sesame Street, Cookie Monster usually says, "Cowabunga!" in a loud, excited voice, but at one point, he uses it to express frustration at having no cookies left and says it in a frustrated voice and with a normal volume.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • The episode "Unification" has Sarek try to say, "Live long and prosper" while dying. Not only does he forget to say, 'prosper' but he speaks in a weak voice. Most of the time, when Vulcans (his species) say, "Live long and prosper", it's in their usual stoic tone with a short pause after "live long".
    • Usually when Picard says, "Engage!", it's in a very definite voice. However, at the end of "Angel One", he says it hoarsely due to residual effects of the alien virus that had previously infected him, along with Worf, Geordi, Wesley, and several background characters.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In the episode "Drone", a transporter accident causes an individual Borg drone named One to be made. When he's dying, he refuses to be treated as he feels he deserves to die due to "having been an accident". Seven of Nine tells him to let himself be treated, saying, "You must comply!". Normally, Seven says, "You must comply" in a firm but emotionless voice, but here, she says it in a quiet, sad voice.
    • In "Shattered", Tuvok says, "Live long and prosper" while seriously injured. While he does have the usual pause between the "live long" and the "prosper", he sounds much weaker than usual because, well, he's seriously injured.
  • Detective Jimmy McNulty from The Wire has something of a tendency to say the line "What the fuck did I do?!" when someone reprimands him in a way that denies responsibility for whatever they're talking about. Once or twice in the series, however, the ramifications of what he's done get through to him and he says the line in more of a My God, What Have I Done? tone.

  • Near the climax of The Adventure Zone, the wizard Taako gives a rousing speech about tactics regarding fighting the Big Bad. Faced with the possibility of it eating their whole universe and them along with it, Taako delivers his character-defining catchphrase "Taako's good out here" in a whole new light, also symbolizing his character development from an uninterested semi-coward to a willing hero against even insurmountable odds.
  • Cecil signs off every episode of Welcome to Night Vale with "Good night, Night Vale, good night." Typically, he says this in his usual smooth, calm tone. But after taking the station back following a Hostile Show Takeover, he says it in a stern, sinister tone, indicative of his determination to take the rest of the town back.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • Shiba in NEO: The World Ends with You begins his daily mission announcements with "Greetings, sheeple of Shibuya!" and ends them with "I bid you adieu." Every day of the third week, his inflection gets more and more subtly unhinged as the Twisters survive every challenge he throws at them.
  • At the end of the final case for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, when the true culprit of the crime and Phoenix Wright's defendant (forcibly due to a hostage situation), Matt Engarde, is finally cornered and loses his leverage on Wright, Wright has the choice to give Engarde the guilty verdict he deserves, or invoke Cruel Mercy and continue pleading "Not Guilty", at the cost of marking Matt Engarde for death at the hands of an assassin he attempted to betray and blackmail, now aware of Engarde's true agenda. No matter the choice, the villain undergoes a Madness Mantra ("Guiltyguiltyguiltyguilty!..."), either upset at his seemingly perfect image being spoiled at long last, or pleading to be guilty to avoid getting assassinated.
  • In Shadow the Hedgehog, after completing a path, Shadow gives a speech that ends with "This is who I am." In 9 of the 10 endings, Shadow says this with a triumphant tone at having ascertained his identity, however, in the Hero Ending to the Semi-Hero path, Shadow says it in a depressed tone because he feels that he should have never been born due to all the suffering he caused.
  • Played for laughs in the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3. After Shepard hears "I should go" spoken by their clone, they begin asking "Do I Really Sound Like That?" and experimenting with different ways to say it. "I should go. I should go. I should go."
  • Mettaton from Undertale typically announces his presence with a loud, dramatic "OHHH YESSS!" When you confront him at the end of the CORE, however, he begins his speech with a much more calm "oh yes". He goes back to saying it loudly just before the ensuing boss fight, but this one also counts because unlike how the other instances of the catchphrase used Voice Grunting, this one is actually voice-acted.

    Web Original 
  • How It Should Have Ended: Iron Man/Tony Stark has "Tank missile!" catchphrase that he often says with whimsical falsetto whenever using his overpowered tank missile from Iron Man. But after discovering that Bucky was behind his parents' assassination in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he said it in terse and angry voice, showing how serious he is wanting to destroy Bucky.
  • The Nostalgia Critic opens his videos with "Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to.". His tone is usually relaxed or relatively cheerful, so when he deviates from that and says the catchphrase excitedly, angrily, or even silently, viewers know they're in for an...interesting movie.
  • On Planet Dolan, Dolan usually says his catchphrase "Have a good one!" very quickly. At the end of the "Hickory Dickory Dock" video, this is played with. He says it slowly for no apparent reason, but then says it quickly like usual.
    • His other catchphrase is "I'm Danger Dolan and today I'll be your narrator!" with a rolled "R" in the last word, but in one video, he has laryngitis and can't do it properly.
  • Screen Rant Pitch Meetings: "Screenwriter guy", played by Ryan George, has the catchphrase "Super easy, barely an inconvenience.", normally said in an enthusiastic tone. However, he occasionally does this in a monotone voice.
  • Before he stopped using it entirely, Caddicarus used to start every video with "Greetings and salutations, my beautiful people, and welcome to the Caddicarus show, where I always have to do the dirty deed of deciding whether or not a game deserves to be slaughtered or salvaged!", delivered in an energetic tone. In his video on Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy, he was so bummed about having to review what he considers the worst Spyro game in existence that he said his intro catchphrase in a depressed monotone, with a few minor alterations.
    Caddicarus: Greetings and salutations, my beautiful Spyros, and welcome to the Spyro show, where I always have to do the dirty Spyro of deciding whether or not Spyro deserves to be slaughtered or Spyro.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd acknowledges the character's over-abundance of catchphrases in the Schwarzenegger Games review by rapid-firing a bunch of them with increasing disinterest instead of his usual emphatic tone.
    Nerd: I am DEAD. FUCKING. SERIOUS. What a shitload of fuck, what were they thinking. (sips beer)
  • Normally, at the start of each new episode of The Kill Count, the host James A. Janisse begins with his sign-on catchphrase of "Welcome to The Kill Count, where we tally up the victims in all our favorite horror movies! I'm James A. Janisse, and today we're looking at <movie title>, released in <year of release>." After that, he usually spends a few minutes discussing the film's production history, its legacy in the horror genre, and his personal thoughts on it before he starts the recap and kill count proper. However, when he covered I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, his least favorite horror movie of all time, James was visibly and audibly disinterested as he said his catchphrase, and after going through it, all he had to say was "this movie fucking sucks" before he went straight into the recap.

    Western Animation 
  • In Beast Wars, Rattrap would occasionally say his catchphrase, "We're all gonna die", in a panicking heartbeat, to which it would usually be followed by the equally said, "Shut up, Rattrap" by any other Maximal in the vicinity. In the final episode of the series, Megatron uses the Nemesis's tractor beam on the Ark to lift the Maximal (and possibly the Autobots) into the ship's sawblades. As this is happening, Rattrap says it in a calming, yet more depressing tone, to which Rhinox agrees with a simple "Yup".
  • Bojack Horseman: In Mr. Peanutbutter's old show, his catchphrase was a goofy "Doggy doggy what now?!" and even in the current day he likes to repeat that in a tone of comical surprise. But in one episode, during a sad moment leaving him uncertain about his future, he says it in a tone of genuine wistfulness: "Doggy doggy...what now?"
  • When Bugs Bunny says, "What's up, Doc?", it's usually done very casually and with a tinge of sarcasm, but there are times when he says it differently. In "Hare Ribbin", he says it in an annoyed tone when the dog sniffs him; and in "The Hasty Hare", he says it in a frightened, stammering voice after realizing that Marvin the Martian isn't just a kid dressed for Halloween.
  • In Doc McStuffins, when the Doc enters her playhouse, she usually says enthusiastically, "The Doc is in!". In "Doctoring the Doc", she still says it, but in a sleepy voice, which is one of the early signs that she has the flu.
  • In DuckTales (2017), Donald Duck often utters his iconic catchphrase, "Ah, phooey", usually in an exasperated tone. In the episode "What Ever Happened To Donald Duck?!", General Lunaris says the same phrase in a dead-serious, downright menacing way (which was also used in the teaser for the Season 2 finale). And in the actual season finale "Moonvasion!", he screams the phrase similarly to a Big "NO!" when he learns he is doomed to orbit Earth in his spaceship forever.
  • Family Guy: When Peter says, "Shut up, Meg", it's to make fun of her, as part of Meg's Butt-Monkey status. In one scene of the crossover episode "The Simpsons Guy", after Lisa decides to give Meg her sax, Meg starts rambling on about being a failure, but Lisa interrupts her with an affectionate "Shut up, Meg" and hugs her.
  • Throughout Gravity Falls, Tyler is a citizen of the eponymous town who appears whenever a fight is breaking out to enthusiastically yell "Get 'im! Get 'im!". In the season one finale, when Gideon is revealed as a fraud and an angry, betrayed mob descends on him? Tyler gives the order to "get 'im" in a heartbroken whisper, wiping aside tears.
  • The Magic School Bus: Keesha usually says "Oh bad, oh bad, oh bad, bad, bad, bad bad!" in a fearful tone when things get out of control. In "The Busasaurus", she disgustedly says "Oh bad!" when the class gets a faceful of rancid T-Rex breath as the dinosaur tries to push the bus over.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Isabella says, "What'cha dooooin'?", usually due to being curious about what latest invention the brothers and working on. There are instances where the phrase is said in a sad manner. First, in "The Great Indoors", when it gets too rainy for the Fireside Girls to earn a patch, and again in "Mission Marvel", when she and Candace cannot do what they can to help. Her 2nd-dimension counterpart in The Movie also says the catchphrase in a rather strict manner, demanding to know what Phineas and Ferb are doing.
  • Throughout Transformers: Prime, Ratchet has often met the breaking of his tools by accident with an annoyed shout of "<Character Name>! I needed that!", cementing him as somewhat of a Grumpy Old Man. When Optimus destroys the Omega Lock, the artifact that was the last hope of performing a World-Healing Wave on their dead world, because it was being used as a Hostile Terraforming device by the villains, Ratchet narrowly avoids the Despair Event Horizon with a somber, grief-laden "Optimus...we needed that..."
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Catra greets Adora with "Hey, Adora", in a flirty or mocking tone, usually preceding a brawl. However, after she is chipped by Horde Prime, she instead says, "Hello, Adora", in a Creepy Monotone, showing that while the original Catra was sympathetic and close to a Heel–Face Turn, she is now completely under Horde Prime's control.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Whenever Dr. Nick Riviera enters the scene, everyone present (including those who hate him), cheerfully says back, "Hi, Dr. Nick!". In "22 Short Films About Springfield", when he meets with Medical Review Board, they respond to his greeting in a bored, deadpan tone. Shortly after, Dr. Nick gives a serious "Hi, everybody" when he tries to talk down an unhinged Grampa. This is an instance of the trope first being inverted, then being played straight.
    • There have also been a few instances of Homer saying "D'oh" in a more sad tone than an annoyed one.
    • Nelson's Signature Laugh:
      • In "How Munched is That Birdie in the Window?", Bart grows attached to his new pet bird, when he runs into Nelson. He fully expects Nelson to laugh at him; when he does, due to his own personal troubles, it comes off as bored and unenthusiastic.
        Bart: Man, you are not into that.
      • In "Heartbreak Hotel", Selma comments that having her legs waxed hurt so badly she needed an epidural. Nelson is too dumbfounded by this to muster his usual conviction:
        Nelson: (beat) ...Ha-ha?
    • Homer typically says "Why, you little—" before devolving into Angrish while choking Bart in blind rage. This hasn't prevented the occasional affectionate use of the line, such as in "Bart the Lover" when it's his reaction to being flattered by Bart, or during an emotional moment between them in "Bartless".