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That '70s Show's Most Famous Insult Was Uttered By This Character First

Even though it ended all the way back in 2006, That '70s Show is still fondly remembered as one of the best sitcoms of all time, and it probably always will be. Everybody has a favorite character, whether its Eric Forman (Topher Grace), the geeky, witty kid at the show's center; Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), the girl next door who has a way with a wicked burn; Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), the lovable lunkhead with a penchant for physical pratfalls; his on-again-off-again girlfriend Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), the spoiled rich girl who is smarter than she seems; Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), the cynical stoner who wrote the proverbial book on conspiracy theories; or the foreign exchange student known only as Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), whose pervy exterior hides a heart of gold.

Some fans, though, are even more fond of the show's parental figures — most notably Eric's endlessly pragmatic, borderline-alcoholic mother Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) and her hardworking Korean War veteran husband Red (Kurtwood Smith), who never met a keister he didn't want to put his foot in. That, along with a physically impossible action involving making one wear one's own rear end as a headpiece, were Red's go-to threats — but when it came to harsh, dismissive insults, he never failed to fall back on the all-time classic "dumbass." 

It might surprise longtime fans to know that he was not actually the first character to use the word during That '70s Show's run. Just chalk it up to foreshadowing, though — because "dumbass" was first spoken by a character who has undoubtedly been hearing it all of his life.

Viewers first heard Red's go-to insult from Eric

This would be none other than Eric, who has occasion to deploy the insult during the series' fifth overall episode, "Eric's Burger Job." In it, Eric is hired at the local Fatso Burger after winning over the manager, Ricky (played to fake-smiling, deadpan perfection by Danny Bonnaduce) by appearing somewhat competent in comparison to the other applicants. While Eric is initially excited to be welcomed to the "Fatso Burger family," his excitement wanes quickly when it becomes glaringly apparent that the job is going to put a serious dent in his social life. In particular, his burger-slinging threatens to put a premature end to his pursuit of Donna, whose party he's forced to skip because of work. 

After a hilarious montage in which Donna invites Eric to take part in all kinds of fun activities like going to the reservoir, taking in a movie, and watching her model a too-small bikini — only to be constantly rebuffed with "Nope, I gotta work" — Eric is seen mopping the floor in Fatso Burger's lobby. When Ricky comes along to ask him how the mopping is going, Eric replies, "I'm just happy to be part of the Fatso Burger family." He then waits for Ricky to walk away before muttering under his breath, "You dumbass."

Red isn't just fond of his favorite barb ... he invented it

Eric's use of "dumbass" might have been the first time That '70s Show's audience heard a character break out the word, but a later episode tells us definitively that Red has been using the insult for a long, long time. In fact, it's strongly implied that not only is he chronologically the first character to call someone a dumbass, he's the first person to put the words "dumb" and "ass" together — as in, ever.

In the season 2 episode "Halloween," we see a flashback to Halloween night, 1957 — the night the Formans found out that Kitty was pregnant with Eric's older sister Laurie. After initially reacting negatively, Red warms up to the idea after a heart-to-heart with Kitty in the driveway. Then, Red's friend Frank appears, excitedly exclaiming, "Great news! I just found a way to drink beer faster!" (Apparently, he had just invented the beer bong.) Red tells Frank he's busy, to which Kitty responds that Red is maturing. Red then says, "The truth is, Frank's getting on my nerves a little bit. I mean, he's kind of ... he's an ass. And he's dumb. He's ... " — cue the angelic choir — " ... a dumbass!"

Interestingly, Frank would be referenced once more, in a later season 2 episode titled "Hunting." When Red takes the gang on a deer hunting trip, he relates a story of a prior trip with Frank. It seems that after bagging a buck, Frank was drunkenly celebrating, and he bent down to kiss the deer, which was tied to the hood of his car. "Only the deer's not dead yet," Red says, "and it kicked him right in the neck. And it killed him." Red's merry little tale left the gang speechless, and although it sure was tragic, it also served to illustrate that Frank really was a dumbass.