Catchphrases

Get Smart had more than its share of catchphrases, some of which still endure more than thirty years later. As Executive Producer Leonard Stern explains, creating catchphrases was intentional:

"It was a conscious decision that we should have them. That’s my training from The Steve Allen Show where "Hi Ho Steverino" and "Why Not?" existed. Don had come with "Would You Believe" and "Sorry About That Chief" was an accident, people just started to say it. I think the only one that we actually succeeded in doing was "Missed It By That Much." I guess there are many others, but I can’t remember all of them."

I've tried to list all of the catchphrases here, along with the show in which they first appeared. They're listed in the order in which they first appeared (airdate, not production date). In my episode guide each episode has a list of the catchphrases that appeared in that episode.

In order to be considered a catchphrase, the saying had to meet specific criteria. It had to have usage outside of the show. A catchphrase must be used by people who have never seen the show in order to be a catchphrase. That's why it's called a catch phrase, it "catches on." There are several phrases used in the show that don't meet the above criteria, such as "if you don't mind 99".

Would you believe...?
This one came from Don Adams and Bill Dana before Get Smart, although it did appear in the pilot episode. Adams did a routine called The Bengal Lancers (it's on his first LP) where he's Lieutenant Faversham interrogating the villainous Mohammed Khan. He and Dana added the following exchange:

Faversham: You think you've got me, but I have you surrounded by the entire mounted 17th Bengal Lancers.
Khan: I don't believe you.
Faversham: Would you believe the First Bengal Lancers?
Khan: No
Faversham: How about Gunga Din on a donkey?

    LISTEN

The Old __________ Trick
This one was there from the start, appearing in Mr. Big as "The old garbage trick."  It was usually followed by the phrase "that's the second time I've fallen for that this month/week." My personal favorite comes from Smartacus:

"The old Professor Peter Peckinpah all purpose anti-personnel Peckinpah pocket pistol under the toupee trick."

And loving it!           
Used by Max whenever the Chief would explain how this latest mission would place Max in incredible danger, it's first utterance was in Mr. Big.

Chief: Max, you realize you'll be facing every kind of danger imaginable.
Max: And loving it!

    LISTEN

Sorry about that Chief!
Max would always use this one when he blundered. Okay, he blundered so much that he didn't use it every time, but it was probably the most used phrase in the show. Originally, this began as just a generic "Sorry about that." It first was used in Diplomat's Daughter and really was given no big significance when uttered. It wasn't until Now You See Him, Now You Don't that "Chief" was added onto the end of the phrase. This phrase really caught on when late in 1965 one of the Gemini astronauts used it when he made a mistake.

    LISTEN

Missed it by that much!
Obviously, this phrase was used when someone, usually Max, was just a little bit off in his aim, guess, or goal. The Day Smart Turned Chicken marked its first use. A KAOS agent was attempting to jump from a window into a truck loaded with mattresses. He jumps, Max looks out the window, turns back to the room and utters one of the show's most enduring phrases.

    LISTEN

Zis is KAOS, Ve Don't _______ Here!
Siegfried was the originator for this phrase, which was usually used to silence Shtarker. He first used it in his first appearance, A Spy For A Spy. The line was made up by Leonard Stern on the set. After the first take, Stern whispered the line into Bernie Kopell's ear and the rest is catchphrase history! However, it began its usage without the first part:

Max: Couldn't you just have shushed him?
Siegfried: Ve Don't Shush Here!!

The Zis is KAOS part first was used in Snoopy Smart Vs. The Red Baron, though much softer then it was usually spoken. KAOS has captured Max and 99 and Shtarker is preparing to machine gun them down.

Shtarker: Let me let them have it. Dudududududu (making a machine gun noise).
Siegfried: Shtarker, zis is KAOS, we don't Dududu here.

LISTEN

I asked you not to tell me that!
This phrase didn't debut until the third season in Viva Smart. It was usually used when Max didn't want to hear about a mistake or terrible thing that happened. Most of its uses went along the lines of the first one.

Max: Don't tell me I fell off the horse.
99: You fell off the horse Max.
Max: I asked you not to tell me that!

Good idea 99 (Australia only).
Though it never caught on in North America and has never been considered a catchphrase by entertainment media, many Australian fans have told me that this phrase really caught on there and is still in use. After doing some research, I have to agree, there are hundreds of examples of its usage, so I'm counting it as an Australian special. It first appeared in KAOS in Control.

That's the second....I've ever seen.
This is a tough one, as I'm not quite sure if it's a catchphrase or not. The problem is that it varies with every episode. However, it definitely caught on beyond the show and is a phrase associated with Get Smart, so I'm including it here. This was used whenever Max would run into something completely ridiculous, like a giant arrow in Washington 4, Indians 3. Of course, he had to show that it was not ridiculous, so he would downplay it by saying "that's the second biggest arrow I've ever seen."

It's a shame he didn't use ___________ for niceness instead of evil.
Again, this isn't really a catchphrase, but it is a running gag that people remember about the show. It's not really a catchphrase because, again, it really varied in usage. Sometimes it was goodness, sometimes rottenness instead of evil. It first appeared in the pilot episode when Max laments "if only he could have used his evil genius for niceness" about Mr. Big.

I hope I wasn't out of line with that ___________ crack.
Another one that really doesn't meet the catchphrase criteria, but deserves a mention. Max would be about to fight a KAOS agent and he would taunt the agent by saying something like "I'm used to dealing with gorillas like you." When Max's attack fails miserably, he puts his arm around the agent and says, "I hope I wasn't out of line with that crack about a gorilla." Again, it varied greatly and never really caught on beyond the show. It first appeared in Hubert's Unfinished Symphony.

 

Klaus from Argentina has an interesting report on the catchphrases in the Spanish version of Get Smart:

Among the shared ones are :

I asked you not to tell me that! ( Te dije que no me lo dijeras!)
The Old __________ Trick ( el viejo truco de_____)
Would you believe...? ¿Me creería...

But some of the more catchy ones that appeared only in the Spanish version were:
"Lo sospeché desde el principio" ( something like I knew it or suspected from the very beginning).
¡"Un moooooomento jefe!" ( just a moment/minute Chief)

 


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