10 top TV catchphrases of the ’80s

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.


The eighties marked the beginning of the videocassette era. Not only could we rent (or even buy) movies on tape, we could actually record our favorite shows. Yeah, at the time, that concept was pretty mind-blowing. That means we could watch our favorite scenes — and the most awesome catchphrases — performed over and over.

We remember them well… and that’s why here we have compiled these popular TV catchphrases of the ’80s! Of course, since so many series spanned more than one decade, not all of these catchphrases are just from the eighties — but you can be, like, totally sure that people heard them often over the years between 1980 and 1989.

For more, be sure to see Famous catchphrases: ‘Excuuuse me’ & other lines we loved to repeat (1978), as well as TV catchphrases of the ’60s and TV catchphrases of the ’70s.

Do you remember these famous TV catchphrases of the ’80s?

Which of these lines from the eighties do you remember — and are there any that you still find yourself saying every now and then?

Are we missing any of your favorites? Let us know your top TV catchphrases of the ’80s in the comments section below!

10 top TV catchphrases of the '80s

1. “The plane! The plane!”

TV catchphrase from Hervé Villechaize as Tattoo on Fantasy Island (1977-1983)

The plane! The plane! - Fantasy Island

2. “Nanu nanu.”

Robin Williams as Mork on Mork & Mindy (1978-1982)

MORE: Mork & Mindy intro and calling Orson

Nanu nanu - Mork

3. “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

TV catchphrase of the ’80s from Gary Coleman as Arnold Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986)

What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?

4. “No problem!”

ALF, aka Gordon Shumway (voice of Paul Fusco) on ALF (1986-1990)

TV catchphrases ALF

5. “Kiss my grits!”

Catchphrase from Polly Holliday as Flo, from Alice (1976-1980) & Flo (1980-1981)

Kiss my grits

6. “Oh noooooooooooo!”

Mr Bill on Saturday Night Live, starting in 1976

Mr Bill on Saturday Night Live, starting in 1976

7. “Let’s be careful out there.”

Michael Conrad as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)

Let's be careful out there - Hill Street Blues

8. “Norm!”

Said in unison by everyone at the bar to Norm (George Wendt) on Cheers (1982-1993)

TV catchphrases Cheers

9. “The balcony is closed.”

Roger Ebert & Gene Siskel on their movie review shows, including At the Movies.

TV catchphrases of the '80s - The balcony is closed - Siskel and Ebert

10. “Make it so.”

Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

MORE: Star Trek: The Next Generation launching soon (1987)

Make it so - Picard

TV catchphrases of the ’60sTV catchphrases of the ’70sTV catchphrases of the ’80s

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 


You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

One Response

  1. The catchphrases I remember from the 80s are:
    “You look mahvelous!” (Billy Crystal’s Fernando, SNL)
    “I’m Gumby, dammit!” (Eddie Murphy’s Gumby, SNL)
    “Where’s the beef?” (Wendy’s commercial)
    “Go ahead – make my day!” (Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry – not a TV catchphrase, but probably the definitive catchphrase of the era)
    Those are just a few that come to mind…

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.