The most famous American TV catch phrases (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced 10 of the most famous catch phrases from American TV shows.

As I wrote in that article, a "catch phrase" is something that a certain character repeats again and again. Learning some famous catch phrases can be useful if you're an English learner because they come up in conversation sometimes.

Here are another 10 of the most famous TV catch phrases in English. If you're a PhraseMix Premium member, you can also check out Part 3!


  1. “Live long and prosper.”

    Spock, Star Trek)

    Spock is an alien on this science fiction show. This is how his race of aliens says "Goodbye".

    When to use this:
    You're saying "goodbye" to your buddies who work at a local comic book store.

  2. “What’s up, doc?”

    (Bugs Bunny, The Bugs Bunny Show


    Bugs bunny is a cartoon rabbit. Hunters are always trying to kill him, but he always stays calm. He just walks up to them casually and asks "What's up, doc?"

    When to use this:
    You unexpectedly see a friend at the supermarket, so you sneak up on him and surprise him with this phrase.

  3. “Come on down.”

    (Johnny Olson (announcer), The Price is Right


    This game show picks contestants out of the audience. At the beginning of the show, the announcer calls out the names of each contestant and tells them each to "Come on down" to a row of tables in front of the stage. There, the contestants try go guess the prices of different items.

    When to use this:
    You're leading a meeting at work, and someone is going to give a presentation. You invite her to the front of the room with this phrase.

  4. “You got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

    (Ricky Ricardo, I Love Lucy

    In this situation comedy from the 1950s, Lucy and Ricky are a married couple. Lucy does something silly and causes problems in every episode. 

    When Ricky finds out what Lucy has done, he tells her "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do" in a threatening voice. This means "Lucy, you have to explain what happened." Ricky, who is Cuban American, speaks English with an accent, so he says the word "explaining" as "'splainin'".

    When to use this:
    Your roommate cooked something in your frying pan, burnt something, and lef the pan on the stove with the bottom completely black.

  5. “D’oh!”

    (Homer Simpsons, The Simpsons

    Homer is the father on this cartoon about a messed-up family. He's not very smart at all. Whenever something makes him mad, he shouts out "D'oh!".

    When to use this:
    You're driving on a highway and you accidentally drive past the exit you were supposed to get off at.

  6. "Holy (something), Batman!"

    (Robin, Batman

    Batman was a live-action TV show and cartoon in the 1960s. Robin was the sidekick, meaning the superhero's assistant basically.

    A running joke on the show was Robin saying "Holy ___, Batman!" when he was surprised. Each time, he would complete the sentence with a description of what was happening, like "Holy nuclear missile!". Robin's catch phrase is related to similar phrases which are common in English, like "Holy smoke!", "Holy cow!", and "Holy shit!". All of these phrases show surprise.

    When to use this:
    You're watching an awards show on TV and a celebrity is wearing a dress which doesn't look good, so you say "Holy fashion disaster!"

  7. “Oh my God, they killed Kenny!”

    (Stan, South Park

    South Park is a cartoon about four boys who live in a small town in the north. The show had a running joke, in which one of the characters, Kenny, would die in some horrible way in almost every episode. Each time he died, one of the other characters would yell "Oh my God, they killed Kenny!" and another character would yell "You bastards!" In the next episode, Kenny would be alive again and no one would mention anything about him being killed.

    When to use this:
    There probably aren't any good occasions to use this phrase.

  8. “How you doin’?”

    (Joey Tribbiani, Friends


    On this situation comedy, the character Joey was a handsome but dumb guy who was always trying to seduce women. When he met a woman he was attracted to her, he would start a conversation with her with the phrase "How you doin'?" It was funny because it was such a dumb, simple pickup line, but it worked because he was handsome.

    When to use this:
    One of your friends has gotten dressed up really nice to go to a party, and you're suddenly attracted to him or her.

  9. “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

    (Mr. Rogers, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood)

    This was an educational show for children that ran for many, many years on public television. At the beginning of each episode, the host sang a song which ended with the question "Won't you be my neighbor?" For people who grew up watching this show, this phrase brings back fond memories.

    When to use this:
    A coworker is moving into the office next to yours.

  10. “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”

    (Arnold Jackson, Diff’rent Strokes


    Arnold was a little kid with a big attitude on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes". His older brother was named Willis, and whenever Willis said something that Arnold didn't like, Arnold would say his catch phrase, "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" ("What are you talking about, Willis?")

    When to use this:
    Your friend is teasing you about how badly you drive, so you reply with this phrase.

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