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Mangled Catchphrase

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Smithers: Sir, the actors are here to audition for the part of you.
Mr. Burns: Excellent.
Anthony Hopkins: Excellent... hisssss!
Mr. Burns: Next!
William Shatner: Exc! Ell! Ent!
Mr. Burns: Next!
Homer: Exactly! .... D'oh!
Mr. Burns: (getting aggravated) Next!
Bumblebee Man: Excellente!
Señor Spielbergo: Es muy bueno.

If there's one thing that imposters, imitators, and other depictions of characters in media can never get right, it's the catchphrase. No amount of research ever seems to counteract this; nor does the relationship between the characters involved.

When other characters can't recognize an imposter in spite of the Mangled Catch Phrase (or other details), see Easy Impersonation. Conversely, when the characters around know the imitated well and aren't holding the Idiot Ball, this can be a convenient way to Spot the Imposter. When they get it right, see Borrowed Catchphrase. Not to be confused with Self Botched Catchphrase and Alternate Catchphrase Inflection, which is when the normal speaker screws up his own phrase, for various reasons.


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  • In the first Ditto-centric episode of Pokémon: The Original Series, Ash and his friends dress up as Team Rocket. To Rocket's frustration, they can't correctly recite Team Rocket's motto.
    It's "unite all peoples within our nation", not "ignite"!
  • In the English Dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the copycat duelist Dimitri does this to Jaden (saying things like "Turn your game on" instead of "Get your game on"), along with a bit of a Costume Copycat and presumably, a rip-off deck (though we never see it).
    Dmitri: This is gonna be swell! (does incorrect pose)
    Jaden: It's "Sweet"! And you're not even close to getting my pose right!
    • In the Japanese dub, Kagurazaka mangles Judai's Gratuitous English catchphrase of "Gotcha!" (said whenever he wins a duel) as "Gotcho!", prompting Judai to angrily correct him (he also got the pose wrong, which Judai also corrects him on).

     Comic Books 
  • Done intentionally by the Joker in one issue of Azrael. Azrael has the Battle Cry "Know that men call you liar! Know that men call you betrayer! Know that men call you defiler!" When he gets knocked out by the Joker and awakens to see the Clown Prince of Crime in his armour, the Joker says "Know that the Joker is wearing the fancy duds now! And know something else while you're at it, the good times are just starting!"

    Film-Live Action 
  • In The Flintstones, an actor playing Fred's role on a dramatization of Fred's alleged crimes gets his iconic "Yabba-dabba-doo!" completely wrong. To add insult to the injury, the avian actor playing the Dictabird does so as well.
    Fred actor on TV: Yabba-dabba-dabba!
    Actor dictabird on TV: Yabba-dabba-dabba!
  • Muppets Most Wanted has a scene where Constantine practices how to impersonate Kermit by watching old footage. He ends up mangling the big "Yeah!" to a Big "YES!", "hi-ho" becomes "high-low", and "the lovers, the dreamers, and me" becomes "the lovers, the dreamers, and cheese."

  • In Night Watch Discworld, CMOT Dibbler manages to do this with his own catchphrase, before it's his catchphrase. At one point Vimes says "And that's cutting your own throat, eh?" to him, and he likes the sound of it. The next time he speaks to Vimes, he says "Tuppence a bowl or I'll cut my throat, eh?" and Vimes says it's close enough.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Red Dwarf, Rimmer renders Ace's "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast" catchphrase as "Stoke me a clipper, I'll be back for Christmas".
  • In Power Rangers in Space, the Yellow Ranger and Astronema have switched places. Who is who is proven when the real Ashley is the one who knows the pre-morph pose (not the phrase, but it's the same principle.)
  • Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld puts an interesting twist on this with the Fox News' motto "We Report, You Decide" for certain stories. For instance, a story about Matthew McConaughey during 2008 was teased with "What does Matthew McConaughey think about the Bejing Olympics? We report, he throws up all over his flip-flops."
  • In an episode of Friends, Joey is training a guy to play his identical twin (long story).For some reason he believes that should imply they should dress exactly the same and have the exact same mannerisms, so he makes the guy get into Monica's apartment to get a soda from the fridge, all the while Monica and Chandler look at him flabbergasted.
    Carl: Hi, Mon! Heeeey, Chan! Just getting a soda.
    Monica: Who the hell are you?
    Carl: I'm Joey! (beat) How are you doooooooiiiing?
    Joey: (entering the room) NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! How YOU doin'? How you doin'? DAMMIT, Carl, go wait in the hall!
  • In Kamen Rider Zi-O, a running gag has main character Sougo trying to borrow the catchphrases and moves of previous Kamen Riders, only to completely mess them up every time.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy VII, several main characters attempt to pre-empt Barret's catch phrase, "There ain't no getting offa this train we're on." One character renders it "The train we're on don't make no stops!"
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, pseudo-Vaan attempts to invoke Vaan's use of the phrase "the leading man" (which he, in turn, picked up from Balthier sans mangling). However, Vaan and Balthier simply passively refer to the "leading man" in the third person, generally not stating who the leading man is or what he leads. Pseudo-Vaan...
    "Vaan": Nay, 'tis I, Vaan!... 'Twere this a play, I'd be leading man!
    Luso: If this is a play, the acting's terrible.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island, Stan attempts to sell talking dolls of Guybrush that can't quite get the "That's the second-biggest monkey head I've ever seen" line down.
    Doll: That is the second-largest monkey head I have ever observed!

    Web Animation 
  • When Homestar Runner realizes he just broke up with Marzipan over a complete misunderstanding on his part alone over her answering machine, he rushes to Marzipan's house and replaces the tape with a tape of Homestar himself badly imitating several characters. He tries, and fails, to say "job" incorrectly like Coach Z does several times.
    • Also in the 50th Strong Bad Email, when Strong Bad gets a phone call, distracting him from his goal of answering 50 emails in a row, and Homestar attempts to answer the emails like Strong Bad:
      Homestar: "Dear Strong Bad, how do you type with gloves on your hands?" Oh, even I know what to do with this one. BALEETED! Wha—? Oh. Umm... DELTEATED! No? Uhh... Del Taco?
    • Coach Z's attempt at "Deleted" in "replacement" goes about as well as might be expected: "DELORTED!" Even the computer's buzzer ends up distorted and mangled by the result.
    • Also the Bonus Email "Comic Book Movie".
      Strong Bad: "Let's hear your best 'Stiny, get me a danish!'"
      Crack Stuntman: "Shiny, throw me that donut!"
  • In Red vs. Blue, Caboose tries to copy Tucker's catchphrase (Bow Chicka Bow Wow), but fails miserably.
    Caboose: Hey chicka bum bum.
    Tucker: Caboose, what did I tell you about that!?
    • Later on, Carolina tries the same thing, with equally terrible results.
    Carolina: Bow-chika-bow... what? That's the joke, right?
    Tucker: Did she just say my thing? ...I feel violated.
    • Junior, the alien Tucker gave birth to, proves perversion is In the Blood with his own rendition; "Bow chicka honk-honk!"

  • This one was probably deliberate, but the Monkeyspank virus of Captain SNES: The Game Masta came up with his own vision of retooling the comic to avoid copyright violations, ending with the catch phrase "Honeyed Kwanzaa, it's idiotically new!", twisting Alex's usual "Sweet Christmas, that's stupid fresh!"

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Buzz ends up in what he believes to be the future, complete with a statue of himself that says "To infinity and even further!" and kept up throughout the episode with varying statements like "To infinity and back again!" This was deliberate, as it was a Faked Rip Van Winkle where Zurg was invoking Future Imperfect so Buzz would give away classified security information.
    • Averted in another episode involving an Evil Buzz from an Alternate Universe, who actually incorporates Buzz's signature catch phrase into a rather threatening statement.
    Evil Buzz: Buzz Lightyear! Spreading evil to infinity, AND BEYOND! Ha! Ha! Ha!
  • You think he'd know better, but Brain of Pinky and the Brain tries to trick the Earth, recently brought to life and angry with Brain (long story), by pretending to be Pinky. He spouts several of Pinky's Verbal Tics... but accidentally slips in a word Pinky does not say ("Boink!"), which is what reveals him as an impostor.
  • In The Simpsons episode "A Star is Burns", Burns holds auditions for an actor to play him in an upcoming movie. As you can read in the quote at the top of the page, no one can correctly render his trademark "Excellent", but Homer gets it worst of all.
    Mr. Burns: Oh, it's hopeless. I'll have to play myself.
    • In another episode, Mr. Burns hires Michael Caine to impersonate Homer. Homer's usual "D'oh!" is instead said as "B'oh!" After Burns berates his actor, he tries again and this time comes up with "Duh-oh!" Bart still falls for it.
    • And when Rainier Wolfcastle attempts to play Radioactive Man, he turns the latter's "Up and atom!" into "Up and at them!"
    • In "Goo Goo Gai Pan", a spy impersonating Bart gets his catchphrases wrong, saying "Don't have a cattle, dude!" and "Feast on my shorts, stupid father man!"
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Chameleon imitates the hero during one episode, and renders one of his catchphrases as "My insect early warning sense is vibrating!"
  • In the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Howl of the Fright Hound", Scooby is accused of attacks made by a robot Great Dane and is locked up in an animal asylum. Shaggy is left miserable, and Velma tries to cheer him up with a "Relma Delma Doo!" that everyone agrees was incredibly lame.
  • In Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness episode "Five is Enough", Shifu goes Totally Radical and, among other crimes, mangles one of Po's catchphrases:


Video Example(s):



The actor Mr. Burns hires to play Homer Simpson butchers his catchphrase, saying "B'oh" instead of "D'oh". Even after Mr. Burns corrects him, he still botches it by saying "Duh-oh".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

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Main / MangledCatchPhrase

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