"I've fallen and I can't get up!" was a catchphrase from a widely distributed television commercial in the late 1980s for Life Alert health monitor products. The commercial showed a frail, elderly lady falling over in her bathroom, then immediately clutching the Life Alert monitor that hung from a chain around her neck. Into it, in a somewhat shrill New Jersey accent, she shrieked, "I've fallen, and I can't get up!"

The Life Alert monitor would transmit those words into an answering machine-like device hooked up to the old lady's telephone. When the Life Alert call center received the message, they would send a reply via an amplified speaker in the Life Alert monitor around the old lady's neck. In the commercial, it was "We're sending help immediately, Mrs. Fletcher!" An ambulance would then be dispatched.

Usually a second example was shown; an old man in a red cardigan poring over a newspaper or magazine (maybe the AARP newsletter?). Suddenly, he clutches at his chest with his right hand. With his left, he grabs hold of the Life Alert monitor and bellows "I'm having chest pains!" into it. Then the action would cut to an ambulance arriving at the scene, and EMTs dutifully carrying Mr. Sweater out of his home on a gurney and then placing him in an ambulance.

Shortly after the release of the commercial, "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" became stock material for comedians everywhere, and is still occasionally heard today.

Despite Life Alert's undoubtedly life-saving product, commercials of this sort have shifted their focus around a bit in the intervening time, as they now won't show senior citizens looking quite so feeble.

Life Alert is, to this day, still in business, and you can order their emergency neckware and other devices at their website. Unfortunately, they got out of the TV ads business after the laughingstock their first and only commercial became.

A dance remix of the commercial was produced and played on a great many radio stations in early 1989. I couldn't find any info on who did it, where, when, or anything. I can't find a digital copy, but lj informs me that the group that made the dance mix was called 2 Intense. Given that it was 1989, I kind of doubt that they released it on anything other than cassette or 7" vinyl, so the chances of someone finding an MP3 of the song are probably slim.

liveforever tells me that this meme was recently resurrected in the cartoon "Jackie Chan Adventures," in which it is uttered by Jackie's elderly uncle (voiced by Sab Shimono), after he's introduced to the floor by an unruly monster's fist.

"Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" is a registered trademark of Life Alert, Inc.

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