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“I See Dead People” is a memorable quote from the 1999 supernatural horror film The Sixth Sense. On the web, both the original line and its snowclone variations have been used to mock a particular group of people for their behaviors or stereotypes.
directed by M Night Shyamalan and starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, was released on August 2nd, 1999. In the film, the child protagonist Cole Sear (played by Haley Joel Osment) can be heard uttering the line before Dr. Malcolm Crowe (played by Bruce Willis) to reveal that he can see ghosts. The quote was also prominently featured in a number of promotional clips and official teaser trailers. It was parodied in the 2000 horror spoof film Scary Movie (shown below, right) after the character Shorty (played by Marlon Wayans) smokes too much marijuana.
Cole: I want to tell you my secret now.
[Malcolm blinks very slowly]
[Cole takes an eternal pause. A silent tension engulfs them both]
Cole: …I see people.
[Malcolm just gazes quietly]
Cole: I see dead people… Some of them scare me.
As early as 2001, the catchphrase evolved into a snowclone, with one of the earliest variations substituting “dead” with “dumb” and posted via a personal website on January 4th, 2001.
In February 2002, the phrase was mentioned on a tarot card reading forum in a group discussion about whether or not they had the ability to interact with ghosts. Later that year, a photoshopped image depicting The Sixth Sense characters posing with the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was shared on humor site Gallery-Future-I.
In December 2005, the phrase was added to Urban Dictionary with an emphasis on the exploitable nature of the phrase. In April 2006, a comic inspired by both the phrase and the anime film Fullmetal Alchemist: the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa was posted on deviantART. In 2009, a TV Tropes article was created to chronicle its online usage and pop culture references. In October 2012, Quote Counterquote highlighted a number of notable variations found in online comment threads as well as on merchandise.
Additional image macro parodies of the phrase have appeared on Cheezburger, Tumblr and Funny or Die. The Quickmeme page for “I See Dead People” hosts more than 230 image macro submissions that are based on a still shot image of Haley Joel Osment from the original scene.
Quote Counterquote – “I see dead people.” (The famous quote that gets reincarnated regularly.)