Historical Events  Movies
Missing movie quote

 The source is known for: "What does it do?" "That's the beauty of it, it doesn't do anything!"

The source is not known for: "'What does it do?" "That's the beauty of it, it doesn't do anything!"

A reverse Mandela Effect

Here's a strange reverse Mandela Effect. It's a quote from a movie which many know, but apparently is permanently on the tip of everyone's tongue because the source it came from doesn't exist!

The quote is two people talking to each other: 'What does it do?' 'That's the beauty of it, it doesn't do anything!'. Sound familiar? It's certainly got a Back to the Future kind of movie vibe, a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy book feeling to it, or maybe even a Far Side cartoon strip style, but searching today doesn't bring up it's true origin. People can picture the two characters speaking, one is usually some kind of investigator and the other a crazy scientist or inventor type. But where is it from?

Movie, TV show, novel ... comic?

The Verge did a great write up of this, and point out there is an obscure TV show called Burke's Law where dialog very close to the one in question is seen in the episode "Who Killed 711"? The dialog is close, but not exact, and the people remembering it don't think the framing is correct, not least of which is because this is an old black and white TV show, and they think it was something more modern:

Wikipedia of quotes

So, what does Wikiquote have to say? It turns out there is an entry, but that only seems to add to the confusion. There is mention there of it actually having a name - the Rargh!! quotation., and goes on to describe a 1897 play called Apocalyptic Butterflies by Wendy Macleod. The dialog is concerned with decorative butterfly ornaments:

HANK: "What is it?"
DICK: "It's a butterfly."
HANK: "What does it DO?"
DICK: "Doesn't do anything. That's the beauty of it. You nail em' to your house, your mailbox, makes it distinctive"

-- "Apocalyptic Butterflies" by Wendy Macleod

The dialog is on the brink of becoming a big internet meme, and has even been through the rite of passage virtually guaranteeing that by appearing, in the usual approximation form the show is known for, in The Simpsons

This marks a unique change for the Mandela Effect and movie quotes, where the usual pattern is to either claim the movie is known but the quote doesn't appear the way many remember, or the movie itself doesn't exist even though the title and plot is known. Rather like the effect itself - it's there, but what does it do? Rargh!!