Recently, I've come across the catchphrase, "Good thinking, [name/noun]!" three times on ELU. The first was in a question referring to Terry Pratchett's catchphrase "Good thinking, that man!" 1

The second was FumbleFinger's answer where he affirms that the former is a homage to the popular American catchphrase, Good thinking, Batman! Made famous in the American TV cult series, Batman.

The third, I happily stumbled upon myself and posted in “Definite ninety-nine” - UK English meaning. The catchphrase is taken from an American spy sitcom, called Get Smart about two secret agents; Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, and his beautiful and intelligent female partner, Agent 99. The series, devised by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, was responsible for coining a multitude of catchphrases, one of which was: Good thinking, 99!


Get Smart was broadcast between 1965–1970 but despite my cursory attempts, I couldn't pinpoint the year the catchphrase was actually launched.

Batman appeared on television screens a year later and ended its run in 1968. According to Wikiquote the phrase Good thinking, Robin! was used in season two, episode 27. (At least that's my understanding)

Established the fact the catchphrase, "Good thinking!" originated in the US, and its popularity became worldwide thanks to the exportation of American TV shows in the 60s and 70s. I would like to know:

  • Who said it first, Batman or Maxwell Smart?
  • Was there an earlier TV or radio show with the formulaic catchphrase: Good thinking, + (name)+! anytime in the mid/late 50s?
  • Finally, what about Australia? Were either of the catchphrases popular during the 60s? I also recall reading on the Internet that Good thinking, 99! is still being used there. Is that true?
  • 7
    Three downvotes. Why??? I've shown research. It's clear. It's debatable whether it's useful, but I sincerely would like to know which catchphrase came first. It's not off topic, the answer can't be easily found in any dictionary, it's not opinion-based, it's not too broad...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 30, 2014 at 5:22
  • 2
    I agree. I upvoted.
    – Erik Kowal
    Aug 30, 2014 at 5:56
  • 3
    Thank you for the 4 upvotes which have cancelled the 3 downvotes. I'd still like to know the motivation lying behind the first 3 negative votes though. And talk about "slow day" (37 views in twelve hours!) I suppose people must have lives outside ELU :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 30, 2014 at 14:47
  • 3
    +1 We really need to encourage whys on downvotes. Also, Good thinking, Max is also cited as a repeated line in the series by imdb.com
    – bib
    Aug 30, 2014 at 15:45
  • @Mari-LouA: this question comes up in the "Related" sidebar for the "If we have a 'second' of time, what's 'first'?" question, which in turn has been showing up on the "Hot Network Questions" list.
    – Marthaª
    Sep 5, 2015 at 0:08

2 Answers 2



According to this wikiquote page:

Batman: Good thinking, Robin.
-- "The Penguin's Nest", first aired December 7, 1966 (Wikipedia, season 2, number 61).

So Batman is 7th December, 1966.

Having searched through scripts + quotes of all the series, I couldn't see it, however this answer (Yahoo! answers) says:

"When batman gets a riddle from the riddler, he just says the riddle loud out and changes it into something completely random like from blueberry muffins to kitchen equiptment. (true story)
When batman solves the riddle Robin always goes "Good thinking batman!"."

That gave me the episode "A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away", from 16 Feb. 1966. However, I haven't checked if it actually does have it in by watching (no sound).

Maxwell Smart

"Good idea, 99" appeared in the episode "KAOS in Control".
-- atomicmpc.com

But that isn't quite it.

I can say that it appeared in the show "Perils in a Pet Shop" - season 2 episode 13.

(Script from springfieldspringfield.co.uk, then date from imdb.com).

That was aired, no kidding, 10 Dec. 1966 - 3 days later than it first appeared in Batman.

So Batman / Robin said it first as far as I can tell. It is not well known which episodes it was said by Maxwell Smart - I can make no guarantees that the episode stated above was the first occurrence.

Other, earlier uses

There was a series called "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis:", and in Season 2, Episode 3 (Baby Talk) (18 Oct. 1960), Maynard G. Krebs says

Good thinking

but without any name (from IMBd.com list of quotes of Maynard G. Krebs).

I have not found an occurrence of "Good Thinking + Name"


The only australian refereces I found was in the bookcrosing.com forum:

Good thinking 99 - Greetings from NSW Australia
-- Glenasena - Jun 26 '06

(NSW meaning New South Wales)

  • 3
    No, no, no. "Good thinking, Robin!" came after "Good thinking, Batman!". I want to know when the Batman! appellative was first said. It has to be before 7/12/66.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 31, 2014 at 8:52
  • Sorry, about the misunderstanding... I just searched through the scripts, and can't find the quote, but a few were missing, so I will keep searching and edit in when I find it.
    – Tim
    Aug 31, 2014 at 9:15
  • Edited, may help?
    – Tim
    Aug 31, 2014 at 12:30

I just used good thinking 99 in Australia when texting my husband. I’ve always thought it was from Get Smart which played a lot here when I was a child.

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Mar 1, 2022 at 19:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.