Lately, I’ve been noticing this bit of grammatical trickery floating around the internets, often in the following form:

Best. Day. Ever.

I often see it associated with gaming/comic/nerd culture.  For example, a recent episode of Heroes used this particular phrase during a subtitled portion of Hiro’s dialogue, which was spoken in Japanese.  In the same scene, Seth Green’s character utters the phrase out loud, with dramatic pauses in between each word (as the periods after each word would seem to dictate).

A couple of weeks ago I set out to figure out the origins of this particular phrasing.  I asked several friends, including one who I would definitely want on my World Series of Pop Culture team and one who is in the middle of a sermon series called Greatest. Sermon. Ever. No one could pinpoint the origins — the only thing we could come up with was, maybe, a SpongeBob reference?

Relief arrived this past weekend in the form a friend from church (who, incidentally, would also make a great World Series of Pop Culture player).  He was looking into this syntactical mystery for me as well and, lo and behold, another Michigander (such a curious bunch, we are) asked this very question on the latest episode of A Way with Words.

At around the 18:00 minute mark, Pat from Michigan calls in and relays the following email she received:

She’s got a cashmere voice and a killer body. Plays decent guitar and writes her own lyrics. Can hold her own with queens and statesmen. She. Must. Be. Stopped.

Turns out, many people have pondered this mystery and, apparently, have traced this back to an episode of The Simpsons called Worst Episode Ever. According to A Way with Words, the writers of The Simpsons had Comic Book Guy utter the phrase, “Worst. Episode. Ever.” as a sort of in-joke, referencing their fan/hater base who would often use this phrase on the message boards to express their displeasure with the show. From there, it became the cultural juggernaut we know, love and fear today.

Some resourceful grammaticians have traced this usage back to the 1950s, but it makes sense that in today’s graphical-communication culture (combined with the wide reach of the intenets) this stylized type of phrase would be more popular.

In my head, whever I see words typed in this style, I always hear Liono’s voice (you know, from Thundercats?)… “Must. Reach. Sword.”  Something about imagining the beleaguered protagonist who struggles through the same plot Every. Single. Time. makes these phrases sound much more interesting to me.