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“There is no Dana, only Zuul” is a memorable quote from the 1984 comedy film Ghostbusters. In online conversations, its snowclone form “There is no X, only Zuul” can be used to refer to someone or something that appears to have been possessed by a demon or an unpopular belief.
The phrase was first uttered in the 1984 comedy film Ghostbusters by Dana Barrett (played by Sigourney Weaver) who hires the team to remove a ghost from her New York City apartment. Later in the investigation, Ghostbuster Peter Venkman (played by Bill Murray) finds Barrett possessed by the spirit of the demonic demigod Zuul, at which point Barrett says the line:
Peter Venkman: Dana? It’s Peter.
Dana Barrett: There is no Dana, there is only Zuul.
Peter Venkman: Ol’ Zuula you nut, now c’mon. C’mon. I want to talk to Dana. Dana. Just relax, c’mon. Dana. Dana. Can I talk to Dana?
Dana Barrett: [deep demonic voice] There is no Dana, only Zuul.
Peter Venkman: What a lovely singing voice you must have.
The earliest known use of the phrase appeared on the programming language message board PerlMonks in December 2000, when the forum user amelinda referenced the quote to express his or her distaste for the commercialization of Christmas.
In 2001, the personal blog website only-zuul.com was registered by a woman named Dana. In 2005, a death metal band named Only Zuul (shown below, left) formed in Portland, Oregon. That year, Mozilla released the XML User Interface Language, also known as XUL, which allows graphical user interfaces to be written in a similar manner to coding a website. The name was taken directly from the Ghostbusters quote and uses the filename “there.is.only.xul” as the namespace uniform resource identifier (URI) at the beginning of every XUL document. (shown below, right)
Derivatives of the phrase began appearing as captions for screencaps of movies and television shows in May 2006 on the Capper Wiki. On January 12th, 2007, the phrase was used in the Editorial section of the Neopets newsletter The Neopian Times in response to the existence of Jelly World, a hidden map that is not officially acknowledged by the administrators. Additional instances of the phrase have since appeared on internet humor sites like I Can Has Cheezburger and Uproxx , as well as miscellaneous mentions on the personal blog Canadian Trends and customer experience blog CMSWire.
On January 28th, 2007, the phrase was quoted in an episode of the animated TV series Family Guy titled “Road to Rupert,” in a scene where Lois opens the fridge to find Peter inside and when asked to get out, he replies “There is no Peter, only Zuul.”
On November 5th, 2010, an Urban Dictionary definition for the phrase “There is no Dana, Only Zuul” was submitted by user SteveSax, which describes its usage in the context of dating and relationship discussions:
A statement said in reference to a female that was previously hot but currently is not, possibly due to intoxication or simply by letting herself go. Your friend introduces you to a girl at the club and says, “Yo bro, this is Stacy, the chick from high school.” After politely saying “hello,” you turn to your homeboy and say, “There is no Dana, only Zuul.”
On I Can Has Cheezburger, the phrase is often paired with images of evil-looking animals or celebrities photographed at unflattering angles. When paired with animals, their real name is often swapped out with “Fluffy.”