We're so used to the standard ways of dubbing over words for TV that we hardly notice them. Freakin', effing, flippin', heck, shoot, shucks, and "stuff you!" are favorites, but sometimes the dubs or alternate versions do something so unusual that they stand out. Here are 21 creative versions of naughty movie lines from TV edits.
1. Smokey and the Bandit
When this 1977 movie aired on TV, one character's signature phrase, "son of a bitch" (which he pronounced "sumbitch") was changed everywhere to "scum bum." For a while, it became a popular insult among kids. Hot Wheels later made a car with the phrase on the back.
2. Saturday Night Fever
In one scene, Tony and his buddies pretend to fall off a bridge. A panicked Annette looks over the railing to find them laughing and yells this at them. She did not call them fakers in the original, but the meaning of the word fits the situation well, and the sound of it almost matches the word it's covering up.
3. The Breakfast Club
"Did you slip her the hot wild affection?"
The movie contains the line "Did you slip her the hot beef injection?" which is itself already a euphemism for something else. But TV censors decided it wasn't euphemism enough and changed it. I guess it preserves some of the original meaning?
4. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
"Forget White Castle, let's go get some privates!"
Ah yes, the "p" word. Let's just say if it referred to cats, they would leave it as is. The substitution of "privates" in this line also preserves the meaning of the original, in perhaps too literal a way. In fact, I think it makes it sound even worse.
"All it took was a phat karate punch."
This line also covers up something that already contains a euphemism — "all it took was a fat chronic blunt" — but does not leave the meaning intact. I think. Who knows what the kids call it these days.
6. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
"Pardon my French, but you're an AARDVARK!"
It starts with the same sound as the word it's replacing, and it has the right number of syllables, and as it turns out, it does feel pretty good to yell this at someone when you're angry.
7. Bridget Jones's Diary
"I'd rather have a job washing Saddam Hussein's cars."
Think "wiping" instead of "washing." Can you guess the rest?
8. Total Recall
"Come back here you steroid."
This one is harder to guess. Sometimes these dubs have nothing in common with their originals in terms of sound or meaning. Actually, that's not true here. The original also has a "ck" and a "you." The "steroid"? That's just another way of saying aardvark.
"This town's just a great big chicken waiting to get plucked!"
Well, it is pretty hot in Miami. Too hot for feathers anyway.
10. Lethal Weapon
"This is a real badge, I'm a real cop, and this is a real firing gun!"
You firing better believe it. Fire yeah!
11. The Big Lebowski
"This is what happens, Larry! This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!"
This brilliant substitution is famous among Lebowski buffs. The linguistic structural parallels are sound — it preserves the "F a stranger in the A" pattern as well as the truncated trochaic tetrameter stress pattern. That stress pattern in also preserved when the phrase shows up again as "do you see what happens when you fix a stranger scrambled eggs?"
12. Jackie Brown
"Freeze, moldy fingers!"
Sometimes you gotta wonder why they want to try to make a TV version at all. The MF word is used so often in this movie, the editors must have gotten bored with the usual substitutions, which is why there is such a fantastic variety of MF faux profanity on display. In addition to moldy fingers, the TV audience gets to hear melon farmers, melon feelers, motor scooters, mothers and fathers, and "my mutual funded money."
"Forget me? Forget you, you mother forgetter!"
Again, there are some movies that it may not be worth adapting for TV.
"You're gonna be one bad mothercruncher."
Someone should steal this one for a cereal ad.
15. Pulp Fiction
"That better be one charming mightyfriendly pig!"
You're mightyfriendly right about that.
16. Die Hard 2
"Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!"
In order for this important, explosion-introducing line to make sense, the TV version made sure to change an earlier scene so that one of the bad guys is heard being called Mr. Falcon.
17. The Usual Suspects
"Hand me the keys, you fairy godmother."
It might have been closer, soundwise, to use "effing clock shucker," but they decided to go cute. All five guys in the police lineup have to say this sentence. One after the other.
18. The Exorcist
"Your mother sews socks that smell!"
Another one about, um, shucking clocks. This line is commonly attributed to the TV edit of The Exorcist, but it really came from a Saturday Night Live skit. The actual TV edit was the less ridiculous "your mother still rots in Hell." "Sews socks" is so much better. Let's just pretend it happened.
19. Silence of the Lambs
"Would you marry me? I'd marry me, I'd marry me so hard."
Somehow, this comes off so much creepier than the original.
20. Return of the Living Dead
In this zombie flick, one of the characters wears a jacket with an impertinent profanity written on the back. In scenes re-filmed for the TV edit, the jacket simply says "Television Version." Much better than "stuff you" and refreshingly honest.
21. Snakes on a Plane
"I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!"
Haven't we all.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Christians have no moral rationale for spanking their children
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 10 things you need to know today: September 23, 2014
- 4 simple steaks you can cook in a pan
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Should you hope to die at 75? Absolutely not.
- Does solar energy have a battery problem?
Subscribe to the Week