17 Classic TV Show Lines That Only ‘70s Kids Would Recognize

The ‘70s was an era for television and media filled with iconic catchphrases, memorable quotes, and unforgettable characters. In fact, the lines these characters say have all become embedded and woven into pop culture and America’s culture as a whole. So, if you’re curious, join us as we embark on this nostalgic journey of reading through the top 18 most iconic and unforgettable TV lines from the ‘70s!

“Stifle Yourself!”

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All in the Family is an iconic ‘70s sitcom that aired from 1971 to 1979. It had 205 episodes in 9 seasons and focused on controversial and sensitive topics—gender roles, social justice, and race—that were likely considered taboo at the time. The line, “Stifle yourself!” is a catchphrase by Archie Bunker, the patriarch of the family. He’s usually depicted as a loving father and a decent man, but he’s also quick to anger and tells his wife this line whenever things get heated.

“Dy-No-Mite!”

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Another iconic ‘70s TV sitcom is Good Times, which aired for 6 seasons on CBS. As a whole, Good Times was loved because the Black characters they portrayed seemed relatable or familiar to everyday Black people watching the show. For some, it was an accurate and authentic presentation of African American culture on the small screen. The line, “Dy-no-mite!” was first said by J.J. in Good Times, and it was used to symbolize the show’s focus on his foolishness and excitement.

“Nanu Nanu.”

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If you’re a fan of Robin Williams, then you’re most probably a fan of one of his most iconic works, which aired from the late ‘70s to the early ‘80s and was titled Mork & Mindy. In this TV show, Robin Williams plays the character Mork, an alien who came to Earth to study its residents; during his stint on Earth, he lives with a woman named Mindy. “Nanu nanu” is the typical Orkan greeting, similar to “aloha,” which can be used both as a greeting, like “hello,” or as a farewell, like “goodbye.” Yahoo Life explains, “Mork’s ‘nanu nanu’ hand gesture greetings was inspired by Mr. Spock’s ‘live long and prosper’ hand salute from Star Trek, a show which Robin Williams loved.”

“Who Loves Ya, Baby?”

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Kojak, a TV show from 1973 to 1978, was one of the more popular cop shows in the ‘70s. This is because it was able to set itself apart from the others with its unique characters and dynamic personalities. The line, “Who loves ya, baby?” was made famous by Theo Kojak, a man fond of Tootsie Roll pops. He would usually say this to a questionable colleague or informant and would imply something like, “You do something for me, I’ll do something for you.”

“Good Morning, Angels.”

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Charlie’s Angels is an iconic piece of pop culture that has stood the test of time. It even has a handful of more modern adaptations—one of the more popular ones was the one that starred Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in 2000. However, it all started with a TV show that aired in 1976, starring Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett, and Kate Jackson. The line, “Good morning, Angels,” is almost always said by Charlie himself whenever he addresses the girls; they would then answer with, “Good morning, Charlie.”

“Just One More Thing.”

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Columbo is an American crime drama TV series with 10 seasons. It started airing in 1968, but most of its episodes aired in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, with its last episode airing in 2003. Peter Falk portrayed Lieutenant Columbo, a homicide detective affiliated with the LAPD; he was also the man behind the famous catchphrase, “Just one more thing.” Vision TV explains, “When fans hear Lieutenant Columbo’s trademark phrase, ‘Just one more thing,’ we know he’s about to crack the case wide open.”

“Kiss My Grits!”

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television

Flo, a sassy, confident, and beautiful waitress on the iconic late 1970s TV show Alice, said the iconic line, “Kiss my grits!” The character was portrayed by the amazing Alabama native Polly Holliday. “Kiss my grits” may sound funny and cool, but it’s actually a Southern slang that people—Flo—would utter as a polite way of telling other people to kiss her butt when she’s annoyed or frustrated.

“Book ‘Em, Danno!”

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The 1970s were notorious for having all sorts of cop and crime dramas on TV, but one of the most popular was Hawaii Five-O, which ran from 1968 to 1980. Steve McGarrett often said the catchphrase “Book ‘em, Danno!” to his sidekick Danny “Danno” Williams. Wealthview Capital shares, “It was a cliché meant to authorize the arrest of a suspect, bringing to conclusion another Five-O squad’s successful efforts at crime fighting.”

“Good Night, John Boy.”

Image Credit: Lorimar Productions, CBS

The Waltons was a 1970s drama based on the Hamner family—a real family who lived in the small town of Schuyler, Virginia. Set during the Great Depression, it offered viewers a completely different viewing experience from that of other popular shows of the time, which focused on crime and drama. At the end of every episode, the family would say good night to one another before heading off to sleep. This catchphrase has become so popular that there’s even a nightclub named Good Night John Boy as a tribute to this popular show.

“God Will Get You for That!”

Image Credit: Tandem Productions, CBS

Maude is one of Norman Lear’s more timeless ‘70s sitcoms. It’s also a spin-off of All in the Family. As the show’s title implies, it zooms in on the life of Maude Findlay, an outspoken middle-class woman unafraid to share her liberal and radical views. Whenever Maude encountered inappropriate behavior or something she disagreed with, she’d say, “God will get you for that!”

“What You See Is What You Get!”

Image Credit: George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions Romart Inc., NBC

“What you see is what you get” is a famous saying we all use today in different aspects of life. However, this came from an American TV show popular in the ‘70s titled Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. It’s an American comedy sketch hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin that ran for 140 episodes under NBC. “What you see is what you get” is a line said by one of the actors who portrayed a cross-dressing character named Geraldine; he’d say this line whenever he came on.

“Up Our Nose With a Rubber Hose!”

Image Credit: The Komack Company Wolper Productions, ABC

This iconic line came from the Emmy-nominated ‘70s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. In the series, Gabe Kotter, portrayed by Gabe Kaplan, returned to his alma mater, James Buchanan High, to teach social studies. However, he comes face to face with a bunch of misfits the show referred to as Sweathogs. The iconic line, however, came from Vinnie Barabine, portrayed by John Travolta, whenever someone from the Sweathogs angered him; another iconic line he always says is, “Off my case, toilet-face!”

“Lookin’ Good!”

Image Credit: The Komack Company Inc., Wolper Productions, NBC

Chico and the Man is a funny yet meaningful TV show that zooms in on a cynical old man who’s lost a lot in life and a young Chicano with everything to look forward to in life. Ed is an old, cranky widower, while Chico is ambitious, cheery, and fast-talking. They are very different but soon find a deep bond and understanding with each other. Chico would say, “Lookin’ good,” to Ed almost every episode, making it such a classic line!

“Don’t Make Me Angry; You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry.”

Image Credit: Universal Television

Well, who isn’t familiar with this line? Apart from being a famous line by Hulk, one of the most iconic superheroes ever, it’s also been repeated in multiple adaptations and appearances of his character. However, it was first popularized and made mainstream in the ‘70s when The Incredible Hulk premiered. Britannica says, “He was featured in several animated television series from the 1960s onward, but perhaps the definitive on-screen depiction of the character was the live-action drama The Incredible Hulk, from 1978 to 1982.”

“Grasshopper, Seek First to Know Your Own Journey’s Beginning and End.”

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television

Kung Fu is one of the more unique yet insanely popular shows of the ‘70s. This particular line was said by Master Po to his student, Kwai Chang Caine, who was given the nickname Grasshopper. This, alongside many other meaningful quotes and lessons, makes Kung Fu a well-loved series remembered to this day.

“Son, I’ve Seen More Dead Bodies Than You’ve Had TV Dinners.”

Image Credit: Francy Productions Inc., Universal Television, ABC

More than being a catchphrase, “Son, I’ve seen more dead bodies than you’ve had TV dinners,” is more of a timeless quote synonymous with Kolchak: The Night Stalker. It’s a TV series that aired for only one season yet still made an impact on viewers during that time. It’s a sci-fi that, unfortunately, got low ratings despite a loyal fanbase.

“If My Dog Had Your Face, I’d Shave His Butt and Teach Him to Walk Backward!”

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television

M*A*S*H is one of the most popular ‘70s TV sitcoms, and its 11 seasons prove this! Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger said this particular line and directed it to Sergeant Zelmo Zale. Though it was a quote in the latter part of the series, it’s still one of the most remembered today.

Author: Karen Danao

Bio:

Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

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