Beam Me Up, Scotty

24 Sep

Popular culture fans reverently quote favorite lines from the movies, and in some cases, television. A year ago, I blogged about this in Make it Count. These cherished lines are remembered and become a part of the viewers’ lexicon.

A recent online article pointed out how many popular lines are misquoted and still end up being a part of popular vocabulary. The beauty (and sometimes heartburn for quasi-purists like me) of language is its fluidity and adaptability by the people who use it. Viewers take ownership of lines that resonate with them for whatever reason. They change the line to suit the circumstance and the misquote becomes popular.

“Beam me up, Scotty.” – Star Trek: “Beam me up, Scotty,” is the granddaddy of misquoted movie/television lines. Captain Kirk says “Beam me aboard,” “Beam us home,” and even “Scotty, beam me up,” but never the catchphrase that the whole world associates with Star Trek.

“Just the facts, ma’am.” – Dragnet: Can you believe that Joe Friday never actually said his own catchphrase? The line actually comes from a spoof of the show done by Stan Freberg. On the show, Joe Friday did say versions of the line like, ” All we know are the facts, ma’am,” but never, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

“Play it again, Sam.” – Casablanca: No one actually said, “Play it again, Sam,” during Casablanca, though it has since become the title of another movie. During the original movie, Ilsa says, at one point, “Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.” Usually, though, the quote is attributed to Humphrey Bogart’s character, who says later in the film, “You played it for her, you can play it for me.” When Sam tries to refuse, he replies, “If she can stand it, I can. Play it!”


In Wizard of Oz, one of its most famous lines spoken by Judy Garland (as Dorothy Gale) to her dog: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” It’s generally misquoted as: “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” or “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

“If you build it, they will come” was not what the voice said in Field of Dreams. Instead, it was: “If you build it, he will come.”

Did you know the correct quote?

Share a favorite movie or television quote you’ve used.


Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Idaho, Popular Culture


Tags: , , , ,

18 responses to “Beam Me Up, Scotty

  1. ramblingsfromtheleft

    September 24, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    Great selections, Janis 🙂 How about one of the greats? “I’ll be back.” and we should all know what tough guy said that in many of his movies. The all time great cop … “Make my day,” Clint … or the young Taxi Driver … “You talkin’ to me?” Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here, is a failure to communicate.” And I can’t leave without giving Dorothy a plug … “I don’t think we’re in Kansas.”

    • Janis McCurry

      September 24, 2012 at 8:44 AM

      The one that always tickles me and I don’t really know why is this: Smoke’em if You Got ’em.

      The phrase “Smoke ’em if You Got ’em” or “Smoke if You Got ’em” is slang for “do what you want, if you have the means”. The first phrase was popular in the military during World War II, meaning to take a break. Officers would say “Smoke ’em if you got ’em”, allowing the soldiers to take a break and smoke their cigarettes.

      It is occasionally used by live performers as part of a repartee bidding goodnight to an audience or introducing the last or next to last song of the night. From Wikipedia.

  2. Judith Keim

    September 24, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    Fun post, Janis! Funny how certain phrases catch on, usually because they’re used in marketing. Even titles of movies can be used to make a point later on – i.e. Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in True Lies….

    • Janis McCurry

      September 24, 2012 at 8:45 AM

      If not for the writers, the world would be a less colorful place.

  3. marsharwest

    September 24, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Fun, post, Janis. Surprised me. I’d have sworn the line from Wizard of Oz was: “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.” My grown daughters’ favorite movie when they were little. I’m sure I’ve seen it 100 times! Funny the tricks our minds play on us.

  4. Janis McCurry

    September 24, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    I was sure the line was, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Strange.

  5. stephanieberget

    September 24, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    What fun and great incorrect for me memories. I didn’t get one right. One of my favorites is Oddball’s quote in Kelly’s Heros. Most people quote, “Stop the negative waves, Moriarity.” It’s really, “Always with the negative waves.” Great movie.

    • Janis McCurry

      September 24, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      See, it gets fun when you research and find out how they lines have “morphed.”

  6. Peggy Staggs

    September 24, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Amazing. It’s like that old game Party Line, where you whisper something in someone’s ear and they do the same down the line.
    Makes you wonder about the accuracy of other things you hear. One or two words can change the idea.

  7. Janis McCurry

    September 24, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    So true. Who knows what has happened by the time we hear it?

  8. Meredith Conner

    September 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    I’ve misquoted my fair share of movies and shows numerous times, but my worst one are lyrics from songs. I used to sing – loudly, I might add – “big girls, small fry.” It didn’t make sense, but it rhymed so I thought I was correct. Until a heavily snickering friend corrected me 🙂

  9. Janis McCurry

    September 24, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    That’s so funny. You know I’ll have to hear you sing it now, don’t you?

  10. maryvine

    September 25, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Get outta Dodge (?). I’m ba-a-a-ck (Jack – The Shining).. I’ll be back (Arnold). I remember “You complete me,” (Tom Cruise) but have not used it.

  11. Janis McCurry

    September 26, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    Yeah, the “you complete me” might have worked for me had another actor said it. Tom just makes me laugh. Even when he was Top Gun, he was so boyish that I couldn’t see him as an intense, sensual-type actor.

  12. Liz Fredericks

    September 26, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    Very clever, Janis and I didn’t have any idea on ‘Field of Dreams’ . . . geeky me, my favorite one is from Galaxy Quest . . . ‘Never give up, never surrender’ . . . should be the writer’s motto.

  13. Janis McCurry

    September 26, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    A codicil to that one (which is kind of awful, but I kind of like) is: “Keep on passing the open windows.” This was in some book I read about a young girl and her dysfunctional family. It meant not to jump out just because things go so bad. Seriously. One of the end chapters, her brother finally didn’t pass it.

    So, macabre but it also means keep on truckin’.

  14. Clarissa Southwick

    September 27, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    Great quotes, Janis. I always get them wrong, but luckily I have my kids to correct me.

  15. Janis McCurry

    September 27, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    And all kids love to correct their moms!


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