The Secret Origin of “Luke, I am your father.” Image

Vader: Luke, you do not understand the full potential of the dark side of the force. Obi-Wan has not told you all that you need to know.

Luke: He told me enough. He told me you killed my father.

Vader: Luke, I am your father. Actually, I am your stepfather, it is a whole involved thing, I will explain it to you when you are older.

Luke: Ben, why didn’t you tell me?

Voice of Obi-Wan: Luke, I am your MOTHER!

Now, to understand how much of an impact that made, understand back in the day that due to so few channels being out there the audiences were much larger. Who knows how many folks were spending their 1981 New Year’s Eves around the foul mouthed glass god. However, the true viral mechanism was the younger Generation Tintins watching, because that Monday, as soon as we were set loose on our blood stained concrete playgrounds at school, that bit would be the bit that would be repeated over and over again. HBO fed a lot of schoolyard comedy routine repeating during the early 80s. Ask any Generation Intellivision member if they remember other little kids acting out Eddie Murphy playing Mr. T being sodomized from the Delirious special.

He told me enough. He told me you killed my father.”

Honestly, there would not be the misquote without the “Luke, I am your mother” part. The gag only flows when you frame it with “Luke, I am your father,” and it was one of the few gags from the show you could say outloud without an adult slapping you right in the mouth. You were guaranteed to make the lunchroom milk fly out of nostrils if you timed it just right It was repeated and repeated along little kid land until everyone assumed it was the line and it would be several years before VHS tapes or cable broadcast of Empire Strikes Back would be available to correct it.

So maybe Rick Overton is best remembered for his Emmy win in 1996 as a writer for Dennis Miller Live. Maybe some folks out there remember him as Ralph from Groundhog’s Day or Deputy Pete Willis from Eight Legged Freaks or even Chuck the beard champion from Dinner with Schmucks. But as for the reworking of pop culture fabric so that the entire Generation Stretch Armstrong remembered a misquote for 14 years so that it could be further misremembered in Tommy Boy, let the credit fall upon Rick Overton. For one comedian to achieve such a feat on his very first broadcast performance is one of the greatest millstones for Generation Motorbooty (the name the fanzine Moterbooty gave Generation X, which at the time hated and still hates the name Generation X.) Also, anyone wanting to double check that Mad Magazine wasn’t the first source 11 months earlier with their parody The Empire Strikes Out, go ahead and check it online, it isn’t. Also, if Mad Magazine had ended up being the source, Chris Farley would have screamed into the rotating propellers “Lube, I am your father!”

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  1. […] your father.” The root of the joke in the meme above was never a real line in the movie. Read this article if you’re interested in what was actually […]

  2. […] or do not, there is no try” and, of course, “Luke, I am your father,” Empire is endlessly quotable. It’s truly a shame because, since Empire, the Star Wars movies lost their quotable magic […]

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