Some films are important enough to society to have an immediate impact on how people talk about culture. For instance, Scream (2022) made the term “requel” the official phrase for a movie in a franchise that plays both sequel and reboot function. Going back further, the film groundhog day defined the concept of a time loop for all upcoming shows and movies.
However, while movies can embed their terms and language deep in popular knowledge, they are sometimes mistakenly remembered. Instead of precisely repeating a phrase from their favorite franchise, fans tweak the phrase slightly, often unknowingly, to better fit the situation. Moviegoers on Reddit have gathered to share their favorite examples of this phenomenon, where iconic lines of dialogue are repeated incorrectly.
“Luke I am your father.”
Dark Vador, Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back
The revolutionary twist in the plot of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back has become so prevalent in popular culture now that even those who haven’t watched a single film in the franchise know that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. What they may not know is that the well-known line confirming this fact is actually misquoted.
The line actually goes “No. I’m your father.” As Redditor Oddnaught explains, “it is often misquoted because the misquote provides context to the listener.” The correct line isn’t as simple as a sound sentence, as it requires the context of what Obi-Wan said to Luke as well as the rest of their conversation.
“Play it again, Sam.”
Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund casablanca
One of the most famous lines of casablanca is “Play it again, Sam”, but that line is never spoken in the film. In fact, as League-TMS explains, “There are two options with the movie that come close to the misquoted line. “The first is when Ilsa Lund pleads, ‘Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.'” The second comes from Rick Blaine, who says, “You played it for her, you can play it for her. me !”
Much of Ilsa and Rick’s relationship is rooted in nostalgia that it makes sense for fans to think the characters are asking for the song to be played again, but they never explicitly say it that way.
“We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
Chief Brody, Jaws
One of the most famous lines of Jaws implies that Chief Brody is seeing the shark for the first time, only to joke about the size of the boat. However, as Tamabar points out, the quote is actually “You’re going to need a bigger boat”. It might seem like a small change, but it actually had a lot to do with what was going on behind the scenes, as the line was intended as a jab at the film’s producers.
The cast and crew felt isolated from the avaricious producers, so the pronoun choice was meant to attack them, not the entire production. By using “you” they might make this distinction, while those using “we” see themselves as part of the problem.
“Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of all?”
The Evil Queen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Everyone knows the story of Snow White, who was almost murdered by her stepmother because she was prettier than her. Equally well known is the famous line that the queen addresses to her mirror, asking “who is the most beautiful of all”. However, Redditor ChromeCalamari points out that while most people remember it as “Mirror, mirror on the wall”, the correct wording was “Magic mirror on the wall”.
To be fair to those who refuse to believe this quote is wrong, DoctorMarioPhD let fans know that “Lord Farquaad says the other in Shrek.” In a fun example of this influencing pop culture again, the musical episode of Once upon a time featured the Evil Queen singing, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I’m tortured by a spell.”
“We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Dorothee Gale, The Wizard of Oz
Almost everything in The Wizard of Oz has made its way into popular culture in one way or another, but one of the most significant is the idea that any strange new situation can be understood as not Kansas. However, as cujomagoo points out, the actual quote reads, “Toto, I feel like we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
In popular speech, the phrase is shortened, rearranged, and generally misspoken, as long as the general idea of a place other than Kansas stands out. This is probably more a case of nonchalant paraphrase than misphrasing, but it’s still pervasive. The Wizard of Oz provides the quintessential example of a fantasy world, so it’s useful to know how the scene actually unfolded.
“Paint me like one of your French girls”
Jack de Rose’s drawing is what leads scholars to seek her out and find out what happened on the Titanic, but popular culture seems to have misrepresented the famous phrase about it. Rose cheekily asks Jack to use her as a subject for his art, but the line in question is actually “Draw me like one of your French girls”.
Redditor OriginalMuffin calls away, reminding everyone that the line doesn’t start “Paint me…” As Jack was inspecting a Monet painting when Rose said it, the word “paint” only appears twice in the entire script, never in relation to Jack.
“Beam Me Up, Scotty”
Captain Kirk, star trek
Although it’s a classic piece of popular culture, Spearka points out that “‘Beam me up, Scotty’ has never been said in any of the Star Trek episodes or movies, not even the most modern ones. ” It seems impossible with its frequency in popular culture, but it’s true.
If it wasn’t in the show or the movies, how did the phrase become so popular? JimmyB28 suggests an unlikely origin: “In the 80s there was a popular tee that said ‘Teleport me, Scotty, this place sucks’ and had the spaceship company and planet Earth on it. I think the quote actually comes from this shirt, not as a misquote from the show or the movies.”
“Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?”
Benjamin Bradock, The graduation
In The graduation, Ben begins an illicit affair with the much older (and married) Mrs. Robinson. While he has enjoyed their relationship for some time, it becomes a problem when he falls in love with his daughter, Elaine. However, the famous quote from his case is actually wrong.
As dwalsh15 points out, the actual quote from the movie is “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you? Popular understanding gives her a greater sense of innocence, while her actual words are more confident. The different recollections may be due to hindsight, with the audience projecting Mrs. Robinson’s villainy earlier in the film.
“Are you feeling lucky, punk?”
Harry Callahan, dirty harry
While Harry’s famous line while arresting a thief is short, the actual line is actually a bit of a speech: “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all the excitement, I kind of lost track myself, but considering this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world that would make your head explode, you have to ask yourself a question: “Do I feel lucky? Well, punk?”
While the shorter sentence might be more useful out of context, jesse_graf takes issue with it: “It’s a big sentence because the original quote is so intimidating and the misquote removes all the context and doesn’t really make sense.” As they say, the misquote might actually allude to the movie, but it certainly doesn’t hold as much power as the original.
“Houston we have a problem.”
Jim Lovell, Apollo 13
Apollo 13 created an interesting situation for misquoted lines because there are actually multiple correct answers. Some people remember “Houston, we have a problem”, while others say “Houston, we had a problem”. This can lead to disputes over the correct version.
As CosmicPenguin explains, “it was actually the movie that misquoted what the real Jim Lovell said.” In real life, he said “I think we had a problem here”, followed shortly after by repeating “Houston, we had a problem”. Meanwhile, the film simplified the phrase to be more concise. Fans who feel like being pedantic are welcome to correct people, in any case, explaining the whole story if asked.
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