Iconic drama has a knack for sticking with you. Probably because it is, nearly by definition, pretty memorable. And if it’s iconic enough it will sneak its way into all sorts of bits of culture, especially language.
So, here’s my list of some of the more memorable phrases from film and TV, that you can no longer hear in mundane settings without instantly associating them with the character or scene you remember so fondly.
If it weren’t for their use in popular media, you’d never think there was anything special about these little sayings at all, but it’s thanks to the magic of movies (and television), you’ll never hear them the same way again.
“You know nothing.”
The wild success of ‘Game of Thrones’, thanks in part to the original books, but also due to amazing production values, has made it almost a household brand. And, speaking of ‘wild’, it’s now very difficult to hear those three words without immediately recalling the ferocious Ygritte as she chides the clueless Jon Snow for his preconceptions of her people.
“As you wish.”
Sticking with three-word fantasy catchphrases, this simple acknowledgement takes on deep meaning for fans of the classic ‘The Princess Bride’, as Cary Elwes’ Wesley secretly professes his love for the captivating Buttercup.
“By your command.”
It didn’t get much use in the 2005 remake, but those of us who remember the original ‘Battlestar Galactica’ will get a hit of nostalgia every time a friend or colleague casually uses this little saying.
“Get away from her, you Bitch!”
‘Alien’ defined modern sci-fi horror, and its sequel ‘Aliens’ did just as good a job for sci-fi action. Nowadays, every time this rebuke gets screamed at you, you’re instantly recalling that seminal fight-scene between the gruesome Alien Queen and the power-lifter-wearing Sigourney Weaver.
“Use the Force.”
I know, I know, it’s tricky to believe there are people out there unfamiliar with ‘Star Wars’, but there are a few. And when they unknowingly give you this simple instruction, those of us who have seen Lucas’ definitive epic will imagine themselves in the cockpit of their own X-Wing, loosing that last desperate shot to destroy the evil Death Star. Especially if your name’s “Luke”.
“Yippee kai yay, motherfucker!”
This traditional northern saying never used to have much significance, then along comes ‘Die Hard’ and suddenly every time you utter it you’re evoking the cocky tenacity of the near-indestructible John McClane. Typical.
“Re-verify our range to target, one ping only.”
You won’t go for a week without having need to check the distance between your own vessel and potential enemy, but submarine handling had one of its most rudimentary phrases co-opted by Sean Connery’s Captain Ramius, as he secretly acknowledges receipt of an American signal in the sublime Cold War thriller ‘The Hunt for Red October’.
“I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet… buried alive!”
‘Star Trek’ has given us plenty of memorable sayings, from “Beam me up!” to “Live long, and prosper”, but the above every-day taunting of a sworn enemy following their internment in a subterranean cavern will never be the same again after Ricardo Montalbán’s superb delivery in my favourite science fiction movie,’The Wrath of Khan’. A perfect example of the mundane becoming extraordinary.