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I've wondered for a long time how a misquote of the famous reveal in The Empire Strikes Back crystalized in pop culture history rather than Vader's actual line:

No, I am your father.

How did the popularization of the misquote occur?

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    It's about contextualization. To simply say the actual quote doesn't cue the reader in to the reference as much as prefacing it with "Luke". It's similar to how Kirk never said "Beam me up Scotty". Getting the idea across is important than the actual words used. – Mwr247 Apr 25 '16 at 15:55
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    Pretty much. It's fairly common actually. See this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beam_me_up,_Scotty#Similar_misquotations – Mwr247 Apr 25 '16 at 15:59
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    Added as an answer. These sorts of quote alterations are particularly interesting, ad they occasionally make their way back into the originating media as well. For "Beam me up Scotty", William Shatner as Captain Kirk says it in an audio adaptation well after it had been popularized. Likewise with "Elementary, my dear Watson" having appeared in none of the original works by Doyle, but has shown up in later adaptations. – Mwr247 Apr 25 '16 at 16:09
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    I didn't even realize that he doesn't actually say "Luke, I am your father" until I read this question. Also interesting is that when people quote this line, they put a lot of emphasis into the "Luke" part that you would think it was part of the original dialogue. – Kodos Johnson Apr 25 '16 at 18:40
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    @Andrew - If I remember right, there's some sort of Force telepathy that goes back and forth at the very end of the movie that goes something like, "Luke...", "Father!", That very well could be where the Luke part came from. – TheIronCheek Apr 25 '16 at 19:21
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+300

Contextualization matters more than words

In common speech, the quote is fairly vague, and likely only those who have seen the movie would understand the reference (at least, right away, to the desired effect). But by prefacing it with "Luke", you cue people in to the reference better by offering more context.

It's quite similar to how Kirk never said "Beam me up Scotty" during the run of Star Trek. To simply say "Beam me up" might be more accurate, but throwing in the name is better. Getting the idea across is more important than the actual words used, and it's fairly common.

These sorts of quote alterations are particularly interesting, in that they occasionally make their way back into the originating media as well. For "Beam me up Scotty", William Shatner as Captain Kirk says it in an audio adaptation well after it had been popularized. Likewise with "Elementary, my dear Watson" having appeared in none of the original works by Doyle, but has shown up in later adaptations.

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    The same can be said of "Play it again Sam" which was never actually used in Casablanca. – Tony Duran Apr 25 '16 at 19:15
  • What's funny is "Scotty, beam me up" appears. – Joshua Apr 26 '16 at 23:05
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    A notable counterexample: "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well." is a common but less contextualized misquotation of Hamlet's original, "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio." – Psychonaut Apr 27 '16 at 11:33
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    @Psychonaut I'd venture to guess that leaving off the end name is still enough context to get the point across, and the inclusion of "Alas, poor Yorick!" was considered more vital to the idea than ", Horatio". A very good counterexample though. – Mwr247 Apr 27 '16 at 15:31
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    "likely only those who have seen the movie would understand the reference" Yes, all three of the people who haven't seen Star Wars will be confused for a few seconds. – reirab Apr 27 '16 at 17:51
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+500

First off, it's arguably NOT! a misquote of the "whole Star Wars canon and universe" since in

1983

it was, apparently, actually read that way in the

Radio version of Star Wars !

Found by reirab.

The earliest misquote meme-starting reference, using the "name-first" form, found so far is

1995

in Tommy Boy, found by Jesse Sielaff:

The earliest misquote meme-starting reference, using the "name-first" form, which I found is

1999

In the Austin Powers film.

Obviously, The Empire Strikes Back was in 1980. I'm sure, someone can find an earlier misquote meme-starting reference, but this will get the ball rolling. (Jessie did!)

Not all, but many, "famous misquotes" come from some particular at the time popular source which instanced the misquote. For example, it could be a TV news show at the time, perhaps a cast member being interviewed, or a parody on TV or film.

So, maybe someone can find an even earlier example, but there you go, 1999; now 1995.

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    As someone who lived through the release of all three Star Wars movies, I assure you that people were saying, "Luke, I am your father" in the months immediately following the movie and not because of some misquoting in some other media source. This kind of quote "mutation" happens all the time with movies in a similar way. Our brains aren't so good at remembering things perfectly, but we remember how big a moment it was, so we fill in the cracks in our memory so we can try to bring that moment to other people. – Todd Wilcox Apr 26 '16 at 13:13
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    "As someone who lived through the release of all three Star Wars movies, I assure you that ... in the months immediately..." it's incredible you have that good a memory for oldsters of our age, Todd! I can't remember what continent I was living on in the 70s. :) – Fattie Apr 26 '16 at 13:16
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    Now that you mention it, I think my memory is just focused. For example, I just now remembered that there are actually like seven Star Wars movies now. – Todd Wilcox Apr 26 '16 at 13:19
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    @ToddWilcox You say "lived through" as if it was a war zone or something... – corsiKa Apr 26 '16 at 14:52
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    @ToddWilcox is correct. However, I think JB is also correct that there has to be some kind of "misquoter zero" who first used this particular verbiage which everyone else picked up and ran with. It's unlikely to be in a clip available on youtube though. – T.E.D. Apr 26 '16 at 18:12

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