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The Greatest 80s Catch Phrases

List of the greatest, most memorable, and most popular catch phrases from 80s. Sayings and catch phrases are a fixture in pop culture, and the generation that came of age during the 1980s should get a rush of nostalgia from revisiting these "pre-Internet memes" and jokes from 30 years ago or more.

A number of these catch phrases have remained popular, or have undergone a renaissance in recent years. Mr. T's memorable quote, "I pity the fool" has remained his most recognizable routine, and figured in to the recent big screen adaptation of the show "The A-Team." Al Pacino's delivery of the key line from Brian De Palma's "Scarface" remains a frequently parodied and iconic movie moment. This just goes to show that 80s quotes are more easily remembered if they are regularly repeated and resurfaced... so, by all means, feel free!

Though catch phrases are often depicted as hacky or mocked as a low-brow form of comedy, no matter how witty they are, it's undeniable that they have the power to connect millions of people around a humorous phrase or observation. What are the best catch phrases from the 80s? Tell us: what's your favorite 80s saying? Below are 20 of our favorite examples. Vote for your favorite catch phrases from the 80s and leave other funny suggestions in the comments!

The Greatest 80s Catch Phrases Quotations
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  1. 1
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    I pity the fool...

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    ORIGIN:
    The A-Team. B.A. BARACUS would often say it in reference to someone who would mess with him/the team.

    USE:
    This is basically what Mr. T is known for. It probably doesn't help that he still dresses, speaks, and acts exactly like the character that coined the phrase.

    This phrase may also be used in reference to absolutely anyone who is about to get their ass kicked.

  2. 2
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    ORIGIN:
    A tagline for Wendy's fast food commercials in the 1980s, the question was posited to highlight the relative lack of beef in competing restaurant's burgers.

    USE:
    Any time you want to question the substance of something.

  3. 3
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    Say hello to my little friend

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    ORIGIN:
    Scarface. The main character (Tony Montana) unleashes a Tommy Gun from under his coat and exclaims to the people he's shooting to "say hello to [his] little friend". It's such a ridiculous, funny, yet violent part of the movie that it really stuck with everyone.

    USE:
    Whenever you brandish pretty much anything of power or importance by surprise, you can use this phrase. It's been so overdone in pop culture at this point that a lot of people don't even know where it's from.

    It's often been used to brandish literal "little friends" from under coats (little people, fictional characters, penises).

  4. 4
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    ORIGIN:
    Terminator. Arnold's Terminator character is at a police station and is told to wait for something. He calmly tells the officer at the counter that he'll be back. He drives a freaking car through the police station.

    USE:
    Pretty much any time Arnold Scharzenegger leaves any place, he still uses this quote of his to state the fact that he will return. This has been parodied in pop culture ever since its inception and has since become the most memorable line from the Terminator franchise next to "Come with me if you want to live".

  5. 5
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    Whatchu talkin' 'bout, willis?

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    ORIGIN:
    The popular catchphrase said in almost every episode by Gary Coleman's character "Arnold" in the popular 80s TV show Diff'rnt Strokes.

    USE:
    The catchphrase penetrated pop culture in a way that few others have. It's still the thing that has carried Gary Coleman's career, and will forever be his legacy. They had plenty of guest stars come on the show, and occasionally they would be graced with Arnold delivering his famous catchphrase.

    Say what you will about Coleman, or catchphrases in general, but these moments were often the highlight of every episode.

    Now, some people use it as just a way to ask what someone is saying.

  6. 6
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    I've fallen and I can't get up

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    ORIGIN:
    An infomercial where an old woman falls, can't get up, and delivers the line in such a cheeseball, ridiculous fashion that people couldn't help but laugh. The incident in the commercial is actually supposed to be quite dire, but give it to America to make one, long, ongoing joke about it.

    USE:
    Whenever anyone falls, say the line the way the old woman said it in the commercial, as melodramatically as possible.

  7. 7
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    Pardon me, do you have any grey poupon?

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    ORIGIN:
    An 80s advertisement for mustard, as seen in the video to the left. Two Rolls Royces pull up next to each other, one passenger asks the other if they have any Grey Poupon, and the other says "but of course".

    USE:
    A slogan that was used for Grey Poupon for MANY years to follow, it also penetrated pop culture by becoming a staple joke of the upper class. 

  8. 8
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    I want my mtv

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    ORIGIN:
    An original slogan for  MTV to convince audiences to demand their cable companies to pick up the channel. The edgy music video channel launched a new era of music videos, VJ's, and "live" music news (and remember when MTV actually played music?).

    USE:
    It was a call to musical action for an entire generation. The same way the campaign in the video to the left said it, people would say it in sitcoms, in real life, and in various places in pop culture to give young people a voice through their TV channel.

    That concept is now moot.

  9. 9
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    By the power of greyskull!

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    ORIGIN:
    The He-Man series, Masters of the Universe, features the main character (He-Man) declaring the phrase during the credits. It is one of the most memorable lines from any 80s cartoon show.

    USE:
    In the show, it's as a declaration of power. It's since been used in many comedy movies and spoofs as an exclamation or as a nerdy showing of a newly found power.

  10. 10
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    Gag me with a spoon!

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    ORIGIN:
    From Moon Unit Zappa's Valley Girl

    USE:
    Basically, something is gross. This was used regularly in the 80s, and still occasionally, when someone finds something disgusting. It's often said (in comedy) when someone does something overly mushy or when something romantically undesirable is proposed.

  11. 11
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    Hey you guys!

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    ORIGIN:
    The Electric Company in the '70s, though it became popularized in the '80s thanks to the Goonies. Chunk and Sloth use this catch phrase to get everyone's attention when rescuing the beloved Goonies. Poor Sloth was forced to watch old Electric Company reruns while chained in a basement.

    USE:
    This phrase may be used when tryin to get the attention of a large group of people.

  12. 12
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    Pump *clap* you up!

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    ORIGIN:
    Hans and Franz - two Austrian weight-lifting gurus lampooning Arnold Schwarzenegger's drive to make people fitter in America. At the time, Arnold was known primarily as the Terminator and for being really, ridiculously buff. As part of the Saturday Night Live sketch, Hans and Franz would say the catchphrase as part of their workout videos (the primary purpose of the sketches, as they always addressed the audience).

    USE:
    It was the catchphrase of the sketch, but was later used by Arnold himself in a few foundations he started for fitness, and more recently used while he was campaigning for governorship of California in reference to the budget crisis.

  13. 13
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    ... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

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    ORIGIN:
    The TV series, The Incredible Hulk, featuring David Banner (the Hulk's alter ego in the show) telling people they wouldn't like him when he's angry. It was always a great moment between the character and the audience -- a tension and a joke that was not apparent to the characters other than Banner, but crystal clear to the audience.

    USE:
    It's a threat used by dominate people asserting their power over others.

  14. 14
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    Clap On!

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    ORIGIN:
    The clapping lightswitch, The Clapper! The commercial for the prodcut was super catchy.

    USE:
    The phrase has taken a more sinister meaning. It now means when someone performs a drive by or runs up and shoots a rival. Clap Off! indeed.

    It's also been used largely as a joke for various electronics being turned on by a clapper. The joke continues to this day and the very "clap" itself is the catchphrase of this very, VERY 80s device.

  15. 15
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    ... and knowing is half the battle!

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    ORIGIN:
    The original G.I. Joe cartoons would often include public service announcements at the end featuring some of the G.I.Joe crew teaching children important life lessons like first aid, how to swim, and what to do if a friend is in danger.

    USE:
    After the Joes were done teaching their unsolicited lesson to the unsuspecting, naive children, the children would always say "And now we know!" The Joes, then would very cockily say to the camera "And knowing is half the battle." This phrase was always followed by the theme song of the show.

    G.I. Joooooooooooooe

  16. 16
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    I'll buy that for a dollar!

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    ORIGIN:
    Used in a fake commercial in Robocop in reference to a service and attractive women.

    USE:
    Something that is really amazing. Now (and in the 80s) it's often used to reference hot chicks as well.

  17. 17
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    I kill me

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    ORIGIN:
    Alf's catchphrase.

    Alf is a cat-eating alien from the Melmack, a faraway planet. A human family adopts him and takes care of him, with hilarious consequences.

    This phrase continues to wedge itself into pop culture here and there, whenever an egotistical person makes themselves laugh.

  18. 18
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    And the word of the day is...

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    ORIGIN:
    In the kids' show Pee Wee's Playhouse, Conker, a robot, always dispenses a piece of paper with the secret word of the day. Pee Wee shows it to the audience and his puppet friends. Every time this word is said throughout the episode, the characters scream, and a bell rings. 

    USE:
    The secret word of the day, as a concept, was one of the few catchphrases that Pee Wee's Playhouse actually had. It is still one of the most well-known parts of the show, quoted by people who have never even seen it. If someone instates a secret word of the day, then that word must be acknowledged in some way. It's used as a teaching technique in elementary schools, sometimes even to expand children's lexicons (and minds!). 

  19. 19
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    Thunder, thunder, thundercats... Hooo!

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    ORIGIN:
    The Saturday morning TV show, Thundercats, featured a triumphant call to action, using a powerful and phallic sword that would double in size and grant the holder (LionO, the main character of the show) with greater abilities. Every time he needed to fight, he would call upon the power of the sword at its full potential by screaming "Thunder, Thunder, Thundercats... Hooo!"

    USE:
    It was the primary catchphrase of this show, and it became a catchphrase in skits and a few lampooning cartoons when references to 80s cartoons became popular.

  20. 20
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    Holy macanoli!

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    ORIGIN:
    Punky Brewster, the TV sitcom with the tween scamp that won the hearts of America.

    USE:
    Whenever surprised, shocked, or in disbelief, Soleil Moon Frye would yell this Punky Brewster catchphrase, which turned into a great way for other little kids around the country swear, G-rated style.

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