Stock Phrase for whenever someone sees something particularly horrible. So horrible, in fact, that you just can't help but shout your horror to the heavens.
The phrase originated in 1937, when Herbert Morrison, a reporter for Chicago radio station WLS, witnessed the Hindenburg disaster firsthand while covering what was to be a routine landing in New Jersey, concluding the zeppelin's first transatlantic crossing of the season. Morrison kept reporting as the airship burned, although he was clearly horrified, and, overcome, exclaimed "Oh, the humanity, and all the passengers screaming around here!" ("Humanity" apparently being a term Morrison frequently employed to describe any large gathering of people – in context, immediately prior to the disaster, he had referred to the "mass of humanity" awaiting the ship's arrival, and was expressing concern that they could be injured, rather than appealing to humanity as an abstract concept.) In interviews later, he explained that he'd said it because he thought everyone on board had died.
"Oh, the humanity" is actually much older than Morrison, though. It was used in at least one Civil War letter, from Samuel D. Lougheed to his wife Jenny in October of 1862 – talking about all the men who had been killed or were suffering with terrible injuries, he wrote: "O the humanity. O the horrors of war. Truly it may be considered the most cruel and awful scourge which can befall a nation."
- Doom comic book's version:
Marine: Why can't we find a way to safely dispose of radioactive waste and protect the environment? Even if I personally stop this alien invasion, what kind of planet will we be leaving to our children? And our children's children, and... Oh, the humanity! My big gun is out of bullets!
- The last issue of Archie Comics' Sonic mini-series (the four comics printed before the main series began), Sonic (disguised as a Roboticized version of himself) inputs the wrong coordinates for Robotnik's missile, causing it to strike his Buzzbomber factory. The Buzzbomber that was with Robotnik cries "Oh, the inhumanity!"
- Subverted in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra.
- Superman: Lois Lane, on the phone to Perry White in Superman: War of the Worlds (1998) after the Martians attack, tells him "They set the train on fire! All those people! The humanity!"
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series uses it verbatim:
Tristan: My voice gives me super-strength!
Kemo: Yes, but my hair allows me to defy gravity!
Tristan: *Falling after getting hit by Kemo's flying kick* Oh, the humanity!
- In The Big Bang Theory, when Sheldon is told that money that could go to the physics department might go to liberal arts instead, he shouts, "Oh, the Humanities!"
- Chandler in Friends gives a deadpan one of these after watching Ross's terrible attempts to hit on the pizza delivery girl.
- Parodied on Home Improvement, when Tim was playing with a remote-controlled blimp on the set of Tool Time. He flew it backstage and yelled at one of the crew members to put out his cigarette. The tech flicked the cigarette at the blimp instead, and... Smash Cut to a clip of the Hindenburg burning.
Tim: Oh, the humanity!
- Kenan & Kel: I...DROPPED THE SCREW IN THE TUNAAA, OH THE HUMANITY.
- Directly parodied by the "Who Cares Hindenburg" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. After bringing up some useless news stories, usually celebrity gossip, Jimmy Fallon declares that all those stories are going into the "Who Cares Hindenburg". Then we see Stock Footage of the Hindenburg exploding while an announcer sarcastically mourns the loss of all those stories, ending with "Oh, the humanity! WHO CARES?!"
- In Mad Men, in the episode "The Benefactor", Jimmy cruelly imitates the "Oh, the humanity!" speech.
- Monk says this a lot, for reasons most wouldn't. Hilarity Ensues.
- "Mr. Monk and the Kid". Monk is performing a diaper change.
[sound of Velcro ripping]
Adrian Monk: Oh! Oooohhh! Oh, my God! Oh, the humanity!
- "Mr. Monk and the Paperboy"
Adrian Monk: [accidentally wipes his hands with an oil-covered cloth] Oh, my God! Oh, the humanity!
- "Mr. Monk and the Kid". Monk is performing a diaper change.
- Used so often it's almost a running gag on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In the Prince of Space episode, they pun over it:
[The rocket that is key to Japan's space program explodes violently.]
Mike: Oh, the inanity!
Tom Servo: Oh, the Japanity!
- This line is uttered in an episode of The Red Green Show, when a canoe that had become airborne due to hydrogen gas explodes.
- Newman in Seinfeld by yells it as his mail-truck catches on fire.
- WKRP in Cincinnati: Les Nessman yells it during the infamous Turkey incident.
- The Daily Show:
- It used a variation when a scandal was busted by Jimmy Carter 's grandson: "Oh, the Habitat for Humanity!"
- There was also a sketch about the Herman Cain sex scandal called "Oh the Hermanity!"
- The narration of the first Martian attack in Orson Welles's famous 1938 Mercury Theatre dramatization of The War of the Worlds was based directly on Herbert Morrison's Hindenburg broadcast. Frank Readick, who played field reporter Carl Phillips, reportedly listened to the original several times in order to get into character. And while he didn't actually repeat the "Oh, the humanity" line, this verisimilitude may have been one reason why some people found it so convincing and panicked.
- Guilty Party features a manatee named Hugh. At one point, he rescues the heroes from an exploding zeppelin. "OH, HUGH THE MANATEE!"
- In Spore, you get an achievement for finding Earth and obliterating it. One guess as to what it's called.
- An urban legend is that a similar achievement "Oh, the Huge Manatee" is found for getting eaten by the giant sea monster in creature stage.
- In Spongebob Squarepants Battle For Bikini Bottom if Spongebob is hit by an attack during a boss battle:
Fish Head: OOH! THE HUMANITY! or should I say... THE FISHANITY!
- Resonance of Fate has Zephyr, of all people, saying it if he examines Leanne's closet:
Zephyr: What's this? My hand is moving on its own! Oh the humanity!...Damn! There's nothing there.
- Girl Genius makes a pun on this. In Paris there is a poster featuring Agatha, an airship and the text "eau de humanity".
- Grrl Power: A police report for an attempted mugging on Sydney Scoville has for sole description "Oh the humanity!" Apparently, she was first charged with aggravated assault, before it was dismissed as self-defense, so it's safe to speculate the mugger regretted it.
- On The Order of the Stick, said by Surtur's victims as they're getting eaten.
- In Archer, the central character says it in mockery as he has to embark on a blimp.
- Parodied in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, where XR utters "Oh, the Technology!" upon seeing a mutilated robot.
- In one episode of Cow and Chicken the Red Guy is playing with toy cars. He has a fuel truck crash into a regular car (complete with explosion and fire) and yells the phrase.
- In The Critic, Jay's parents are about to go on their second honeymoon to celebrate their 40th anniversary, but when they get to the airport, they discover that the airline is on strike. The only airline that will honor their tickets is Hindenburg Airways, which has the Hindenburg crashing for their logo with the quote "Oh, the humanity!"
- Daria: Parodied as Daria and Tom watch a parade float burning after a very slow-speed crash:
Daria: Oh, the lack of humanity.
- If you look carefully, Daria has the iconic photo of the Hindenberg in flames on the inside of her locker door.
- On an episode of Darkwing Duck, Drake takes Gosalyn camping. While they're roasting marshmallows, Gosalyn sets her marshmallow on fire and quotes Morrison's commentary.
- Edd of Ed, Edd n Eddy used the "inhumanity" variation on occasion, often when faced with something particularly unsanitary, usually concerning Ed's clothing, possessions, basement lair, or body odor.
- In Futurama, when the Professor thinks Amy and Bender have died:
The Professor: Oh, the humanity! Also Bender.
- In Hercules: The Animated Series, a balloon crashes into the cloud where the gods have gathered to witness a festival, causing Homer to shout, "Oh, the divinity!"
- In Phineas and Ferb, "The Fast and the Phineas", as Dr. Doofenshmirtz's blimp hits a broadcasting tower, the announcer only has time to say, "Oh, the hu-" before the feed is cut.
- Mikey says this line in Recess a number of times.
- He also said it in the Dodgeball game on Toon Disney's website (now gone) when you hit him with a dodgeball.
- A Ren & Stimpy short has Ren shout out this phrase as pro wrestlers have their way with Stimpy.
Ren: "Oh, the humanity of it all!"
- The Simpsons seems to have a fondness for this joke:
- Done in "Lisa the Beauty Queen," when the Duff Beer blimp crashes Kent Brockman mutters "Oh, the humanity... anyway..." and carries on talking as if nothing had happened.
- Another Simpsons episode has Bart showing off his checkbook flip-book of the Hindenburg crash, with the last check reading, "OH THE HUMANITY"
- In one episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Scratchy is blown up like a blimp and explodes. A nearby reporter exclaims, "Oh, the hilarity!"
- In "500 Keys" Chief Wiggum in a low speed blimp chase shouts "Oh the Zoomanity!" after crashing into a Zoomanity billboard.
- In The Venture Brothers, this is Sergeant Hatred's reaction when the Monarch's cocoon, which he already, accidentally, set on fire, crashes and explodes in a huge fireball.
- The Trope Maker: Famously spoken by Herbert Morrison, a WLS radio announcer witnessing the Hindenburg disaster. Warning, extremely sobering moment. Morrison and his assistant Charlie Nehlsen were making an experimental audio recording; a malfunction in the recording equipment caused Morrison's voice to be recorded at a much higher pitch than it should have been.note It was played on WLS that night and on the NBC Radio Network the following day (in a break with network policy that banned the use of recorded material on the radio), but not dubbed onto newsreel footage until some time later. Today, the discs reside in the National Archives.
- Furthermore, contrary to folk legend, Morrison was definitely not fired for the way he covered the disaster. In fact, his boss congratulated Morrison for the fine job he did. He did leave WLS, but that's because Mutual offered him more money to go work at WOR in New York.
- Much of the humor in pop-culture related to this horrifying mishap was likely due to the original recording being sped up, making Herbert Morrison sound like a hyper-dramatic rodent and creating unintentional Narm. Slowed down to the correct speed and it's a genuinely serious, harrowing moment and he doesn't sound so narmy and ridiculous.