Many TV shows, modern or considered classics, have influenced popular culture. Some phrases are easily related to the series they originated from, such as Joey’s catchphrase “How you doin’?” in Friends and Bugs Bunny’s “What’s up, doc?” in Looney Tunes.
However, other phrases are commonly used today that people are unaware originated from TV shows. Some of these phrases have been used so often that people don’t second-guess using them in a casual conversation, despite not knowing the term’s origin. While some of these phrases are not as old as someone might think, others shockingly predate modern culture.
10 Seinfeld Coined The Concept Of “Regifting”
No matter which season of Seinfeld is being discussed, the show is one of the iconic sitcoms of all time that is repeatedly quoted and referenced. Though the concept of giving someone a gift someone received from another previously wasn’t invented in the series, the term “regifting” was coined in an episode.
In an episode of season six, in 1995, Tim gifts Jim a label maker as a “thank you” gift, only to learn that Elaine had gifted Tim the gift previously, leading them to call Tim a “regifter.” Since the oldest use of this term dates back to 1995, it’s safe to say Seinfeld invented the well-known phrase.
9 Buffy The Vampire Slayer Mentioned “Googled” First
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is considered a pioneer in the modern age of romanticized vampire dramas. However, the series is known for more than that, from being one of the first TV shows to properly represent an LGBTQ+ character to one that originally used popular phrases.
In an episode, Willow asks Xander, “Have you Googled her?” to which Xander is confused by the term. Willow explained how Google could be used to look someone up, summing the action up by calling it “Googling” someone. The search engine had only been around for a few years, but the phrase “Googling someone” quickly became popular.
8 “Catfishing” Was Created By Catfish
With the common age of social media, people learned how to pretend to be someone else and use this fake identity to trick others over the internet. In 2010, the documentary Catfish, starring Nev and Ariel Schulman, in which the team goes on an investigation into a woman Nev met on the internet.
This popular documentary resulted in a Catfish docuseries in 2012 with eight seasons. After this documentary and the series, pretending to be someone on the internet you’re not to manipulate another was referred to as “catfishing.”
7 Saturday Night Live Created “Debbie Downer”
Though Rachel Dratch is not one of the most iconic Saturday Night Live cast members, she made TV history by being the iconic “Debbie Downer” character in one of their skits. In the sketch, Dratch plays a woman named Debbie who consistently brings up sad topics, ruining a trip to Disney World for her group.
The term “Debbie Downer” is often used in popular culture and regularly in social groups to refer to someone that brings up sobering topics that ruin the good mood. Though some think the term is older than it is, it was actually created for this SNL skit.
6 Friends, Ironically, Popularized The Term “The Friend Zone”
Friends is one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time, still beloved and quoted by fans today. Though the series ended nearly twenty years ago, the show has an immense influence on today’s pop culture.
Though modern audiences are starting to get annoyed with the consistent use of calling a platonic friend being in “the friend zone,” it continues to be a commonly used phrase. Ironically, a Friends episode coined the term when Joey called Ross “the mayor of the Friend Zone” when referring to his crush on Rachel while she sees him as only a friend. The phrase has become so popular it is even used as a verb, referencing someone being “friend-zoned” by another.
5 “What’chu Talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” Is From Diff’rent Strokes
Diff’rent Strokes has not withstood the test of time, with few people in modern culture remembering the show despite being one of the funniest sitcoms about black relationships from the 1970s. However, a quote in the series has continued to be used despite most people not knowing where it originated.
Gary Coleman used the catchphrase “What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” repeatedly throughout Diff’rent Strokes, directed towards his brother Willis. Modern culture has used this phrase when someone is talking about something someone is shocked by, even though most of the people using the phrase are unaware who initially said it.
4 “Is That Your Final Answer?” Became Icon From Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
Who Wanted To Be A Millionaire? was one of the most successful game shows of its time, running five days a week at one point. In this game show, the host would ask the contestant, “Is that your final answer?” before telling them and the audience if they’re right or wrong.
While many common phrases originated from popular game shows, younger modern viewers likely have no idea this commonly used saying originated from the long-running series Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? This phrase is often used in casual social settings when a group is discussing something and trying to figure out the correct answer.
3 Looney Tunes Changed The Meaning Of “Nimrod”
Looney Tunes is the most well-known and beloved series of cartoons of all time, featuring dozens of widely used phrases from Bugs Bunny’s “What’s up, doc?” to Porky Pig’s “That’s all folks.” However, some phrases that audiences don’t know originated from cartoons.
Nimrod actually has Biblical origins, used to refer to a skilled hunter. However, Bugs Bunny often used the phrase to belittle Elmer when he outsmarted the hunter, hinting that he wasn’t intelligent. In pop culture, people use the term “nimrod” to insult someone, insinuating they’re stupid, without knowing the phrase’s original meaning.
2 Five-O Became A Popular Term After Hawaii Five-O
Hawaii Five-O is one of the best classic TV shows, originally airing in 1968 and lasting twelve seasons before being revived in 2010. In this series, the term “Five-O” was the name of a task force that was set up to investigate organized crime.
Despite the specific use of this phrase in the series, the “Five-O” phrase in modern culture is a slang term used to represent police officers in general. Many use this phrase casually to reference the police, having no idea it was a term from Hawaii Five-O that wasn’t originally a catch-all phrase.
1 Lurch’s Catchphrase In The Addams Family Was “You Rang?”
While The Addams Family movie franchise began in 1991, the first on-screen portrayal of this iconic family was in the sitcom from 1964, which only lasted two seasons. Despite being short-lived, the sitcom continues to influence modern culture.
“You Rang” is a common phrase used when someone is called, either in person or over the phone. However, many people are unaware the phrase was originally used by Lurch, the butler to the Addams family, who would say this as he rang a gong.
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