Zeetha: What's with the quotation marks? Who said that?
A great way for a gritty hero to lend gravitas to their argument, or sound like they are, is to spout an aphorism. But sometimes nothing anyone famous said will do, so they just make something up on the spot or rehash something they themself have previously said.
Often their interlocutor will tentatively attribute the quote to one author or another, and they'll admit, deadpan-style, that the aphorism is really their own.
Compare Appeal to Familial Wisdom (when the character quotes a family member) and You Know Who Said That? (when they quote someone else surprising).
- Big Trouble in Little China: Jack Burton would constantly begin his words of wisdom with "Remember what old Jack Burton says at a time like this...". This is trope is invoked in the climax when he faces down the Big Bad and does this, only to have the villains ask, "Who?". Jack then growls, "Jack Burton... me!".
- Dead Poets Society:
McAllister: Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I'll show you a happy man.Keating: But only in their dreams can men be truly free. 'Twas always thus, and always thus will be.McAllister: Tennyson?Keating: No, Keating.
Patton: You know what the poet said. "Through the travail of ages, midst the pomp and toils of war, have I fought and strove and perished countless times upon the star. As if through a glass and darkly, the age-old strife I see, where I fought in many guises, many names, but always me."You know who the poet was? Me.
- The Wiz:
Scarecrow: Success, fame, and fortune, they're all illusions. All there is that is real is the friendship that two can share.Dorothy: That's beautiful! Who said that?Scarecrow: [modestly] I did.
- The Three Musketeers (1993) Aramis recites poetry to a tavern wench. D'Artagnan asks if it's Shakespeare and Aramis replies that it's Aramis.
- The last Harry Potter movie has a scene where Remus Lupin and Kingsley Shacklebolt are standing near each other at the start of the Battle for Hogwarts.
Lupin: It is the quality of one's convictions that determines success, not the number of followers.Kingsley: Who said that?Lupin: Me.
- A variant happens in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Roxanne: Oh I'd love to postpone, darlin', but I just cashed in my last rain check.
Scott: Where's that from?
Roxanne: MY BRAIN!
- In Men at Arms, Angua (in wolf form) attends what's essentially a dog supremacist/anti-human rally. She speaks to a poodle who says something that sounds like a quote and asks if the Hitler analogue said it....
- In Making Money, Moist says at one point "Does not a penny to the widow outshine the unconquered sun?" When asked what it means, he admits he has no idea, but it sounds impressive.
- The Wheel of Time: Lini, a no-nonsense Old Retainer to at least three generations of royalty, has an aphorism for every occasion. Morgase eventually asks if she's making them up as she goes.
Lini: At my age, if I make it up, it is still an old saying.
- Our Miss Brooks: Walter Denton uses fake quotes from time to time.
Walter Denton: It's as the saying goes, "When love enters the head, appetite flees the stomach."Miss Brooks: Who said that?Walter Denton: I don't know. I guess it's anonymous.Miss Brooks: It deserves to be.
- CSI: Grissom has a history of using famous authors as a source of quoted wisdom, but there's at least one case where his own statement was mistaken for one:
Grissom: The best intentions are fraught with disappointment.
- In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, a coincidence involving this led to Mary mistakenly believing that Dick was really a wanted activist she knew during her hippie days in The '60s:
Dick: History is made by the individual, not by the masses.
Mary: Who said that?
Dick: I did.
Mary: No, where's that from?
Dick: My mouth.
Mary: No, somebody said that!
Dick: Hellllloooo! That was me.
Mary: This is so weird.
(flashback to young Mary at Berkeley)
Mary: This is so weird.
Manny: I mean, you've been rinsed and hung out to dry. Think about it. Dig it, babe, that's what's happened. History is made by the individual, not by the masses.
Mary: Who said that?
Manny: I did.
(return to present)
- The Big Bang Theory:
Ramona: Didn't a great man once say, "Science demands nothing less than the fervent and unconditional dedication of our entire lives"?
Sheldon: He did.
Ramona: And who was that great man?
Sheldon: Me. Sorry, Leonard.
Leonard: Seriously? You're not coming?
Sheldon: You heard her. How can I argue with me?
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century:
Buck: Well, as someone said, "You're never more nostalgic than for the things you once knew and have no more."
Twiki: Bidibidibidibidi. Who said that?
- One episode of M*A*S*H crosses this with Quote-to-Quote Combat when Margaret asks Frank for a loan.
Frank: "Neither a lender nor a borrower be." Polonius.
Margaret: "To give and not count the cost." St. Ignatius Loyola.
Frank: "The holy passion of friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last throughout a whole lifetime if not asked to lend money." Mark Twain.
Margaret: "Blow it out your ear." Margaret Houlihan.
- Leopoldo Fishman of Solamente Vos does this all the time. Each week he says some important quotation, and points that he said so at his latest book, now for sale. Buy it quickly, because he will write another new book to quote next week!
- Walt Disney Presents: In "Disneyland '61", Walt Disney remarks, "It has been said that Disneyland will never be completed. In fact, I said it."
- A variant from Red Dwarf when the crew is in danger and it's suggested that Rimmer can sacrifice himself to save them.
Kryten: Well the Space Corp directive 195 clearly states that in an emergency power situation a hologramatic crewmember must lay down his life in order that the living crewmembers might survive.
Rimmer: Yes, but Rimmer Directive 271 states just as clearly: No chance you metal bastard.
- Also, in the episode Polymorph, Rimmer "quotes" the Rimmer Directive - "Never tangle with anything that's got more teeth than the entire Osmond family."
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Treason is a charge invented by winners as an excuse for hanging the losers.John Adams: I have more to do than stand here listening to you quote yourself.Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Oh, that was a new one.
- Thomas Jefferson does this in Hamilton. Justified in that he's quoting the Declaration of Independence, which is a pretty highly regarded document in any case.
"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", we fought for these ideals, we shouldn't settle for less. These are wise words, enterprising men quote 'em. Don't act surprised, you guys, 'cause I wrote 'em!
- A written example appears in Freefall:
Florence Ambrose: Any technology, no matter how primitive, is magic to those who don't understand it.
- After Agatha in Girl Genius surprises Zeetha by not only managing to fix a "magic" artifact but improving it as well, she declares "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!" Zeetha asks why it's in quotes and who said it, to which Agatha responds, "ME!"
- Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?:
Carmen: A philosopher once said, "Competition can make you stronger."Player: Which philosopher said that?Carmen: Me!
- Starship Troopers: Invasion: The resident Hollywood Atheist has a penchant for quoting Atheist scholars at Holy Man, and snarks about how he finds no religious person ever had anything to say worth writing down. Holy Man replies with a particularly deep quote, followed with...
I'll get you a pen.