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“Bow Ties are Cool” (snowclone: “X are cool”) is a catchphrase used to declare that something perceived to be lame is, in fact, cool. It was first used by the eleventh Doctor on the British scifi television show, Doctor Who.
The phrase was initially used in the first episode of series 5, The Eleventh Hour, which aired April 3rd 2010. It was both Matt Smith’s first full episode as the Eleventh Doctor and the first episode with Steven Moffatt as head writer and executive producer. The Doctor says the phrase after his future travel partner, Amy Pond, critiques his outfit.
The phrase was adopted by the Doctor Who fandom, and was mentioned in various reviews including Ain’t It Cool and the Tardis File. In June 2010, the phrase appeared on a shirt on Zazzle and as a submission to Threadless. On June 20th, the first image macro was submitted to Cheezburger. Usage spread via a Facebook page, with nearly 15,000 likes, and a tag on Tumblr.
In later episodes of series five and six of Doctor Who, the Doctor started using different versions of the catchphrase in later episodes to declare that other unpopular objects were cool, including stetsons, glasses, bunk beds, and fezzes.
Search for both “Bow ties are cool” and “Fezzes are cool” gained traffic in June 2010, with the latter peaking in July after the series five finale aired. “Bow ties are cool” peaked in September 2011, coinciding with the second half of series six airing that month. X is cool also gained a large search following even before doctor who revolutionized it.
Ain’t It Cool – Doctor Dan Stays With The Lodger!! Antepenultimate WHO!!
The Telegraph – Doctor Who prompts surge in popularity of bow ties