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According to Wikipedia, the well-known catchphrase of the Robot in Lost in Space, "Danger, Will Robinson!" is only uttered once in the three seasons of the show. Though the Robot was known to frequently warn of "Danger! Danger!" to no one particular family member.

So I'm wondering, is there any clear source from which its status an an iconic scifi catchphrase originates (e.g., a popular referential usage in another TV series or movie, etc)? I know that the 1998 film adaptation used the phrase prominently in its advertising – and presumably in the film, though I haven't seen it – but I was aware of the phrase before this, despite having not seen the original series either, so I feel there must be an earlier source for its popularity.

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    Probably the same way that "Beam me up, Scotty!" became one, even though it was never said in the show. – Thunderforge Apr 15 '18 at 4:13
  • I first heard it in one episode of The Simpsons (since I've never seen the show), but I think it was popular even before that. – Mario Apr 15 '18 at 4:28
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    The phrase appears to have been in common use from the 1960s onwards (while the show was still running); books.google.co.uk/… - It may well be that they included the phrase in the third season specifically to cash-in on the popularity of the phrase (tale wag dog). – Valorum Apr 15 '18 at 7:05
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If I say "Danger! Danger!", it is not clear if I am saying it or quoting it. If I say "Danger, Will Robinson!", then unless there is someone named Will Robinson there, I am almost certainly quoting Lost in Space. So when third parties started saying it, they tended to use "Danger, Will Robinson!" rather than the more common "Danger! Danger!" That made the homage clear without having to add a bunch of fluff, like "As they'd say in Lost in Space" with it.

We can see this with other popular sayings. "Beam me up, Scotty" was never said in those words. Going outside SFF, Humphrey Bogart never said "Play it again, Sam" in Casablanca. Sara Palin never said that she could see Russia from her house; that was a Saturday Night Live comedienne imitating Palin. Sally Fields didn't say, "You like me. You really, really like me." At least not for many years (she did eventually make a commercial using that exact wording).

In all these cases, the eventual "quote" was either a more representative or a more succinct version of the original quote. Because the "fake quotes" were easier to say and remember than their more realistic equivalents, they were what stuck.

TL;DR: At least "Danger, Will Robinson!" is an actual quote. It may not be the most common statement in the show material, but it captures the essence perfectly. And when someone says, "Danger, Will Robinson!", we know that it is a Lost in Space homage. It doesn't need separate attribution.

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