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A math related Stock Phrase. The Smart Guy states the result of his calculations, only to be corrected. He promptly says: "Oh yeah, I forgot to carry the one". The phrase's purpose is to show that even though The Smart Guy is only a human, and therefore prone to mistakes, he is able to spot where he made the mistake and explain it in a short Techno Babble-ish sentence. Commonly used in this form:


 Alice: 27 plus 35 is 52.

Bob: Actually, it's 62.

Alice: Oh yeah, I forgot to carry the one.


Also, when someone is calculating, he will always say "...carry the one...", mostly because carrying numbers is the most advanced mathematical concept most writers (and audiences) can remember from way back then. Note, though, that the line works with any single-digit number, so you can hear, for instance, "carry the seven".[1]

Has nothing to do with when your Chosen One refuses to walk. Compare with Misplaced a Decimal Point, the other common arithmetic mistake.

Examples of Carry the One include:

Live Action TV

  • Kryten in Red Dwarf, episode "Camille", forgot to carry the three.
    • From "Parallel Universe":

 Holly: (something about millions of calculations on the fly) Alright, then. Counting down. 10, 9, 8, 6

Rimmer: We're going to die!

Holly: Oops, I've always had a blind spot for 7's.

  • Jayne in the first episode of Firefly does this in full sarcasm mode. 'Ten percent of nothin' is ... lemme do the math. Nothin', and nothin', carry the nothin' ... '
  • Spoofed in an episode of Myth Busters. Grant sketched out a complex but valid mathematical formula on the side of a test vehicle. After Grant finished the calculations and announced the result, this exchange occurred:

 Tory: You forgot to carry gravity.


Grant: What?!



  • A spaceship in one of the Murderous Maths books crashes because the pilot, during a long and complicated trajectory equation, forgets to carry the one.
  • In the Discworld novel Thud, the Gooseberry organiser-imp tells Vimes that "you don't always carry the tens" when doing the Watch accounts.


  • Tom Lehrer does this deliberately(?) in "New Math", but claims that in new math, showing your work is more important than actually getting the answer right.

Newspaper Comics

  • In one Bloom County strip, Oliver uses an equation to prove that flightless waterfowl shouldn't exist, but by the end of the strip he realized he forgot to carry the two. Resident penguin Opus, who had been fading out of existence until then, asks Oliver not to do that again.


  • Adventures in Odyssey: Bart Rathbone mumbles "Carry the 4..." while calculating how much a neon light sign Kurt wants for his Student Body President campaign would cost.
  • In The Navy Lark, Lt. Phillips often 'carries the one' (among many other factors) when calculating "Left hand down a bit."
  • In Old Harrys Game, Einstein is working out a long complicated calculation, before concluding "No! Dammit, forgot to carry the seven! I'm always doing that."

Video Games

  • In Sam and Max Freelance Police: Chariots of the Dogs, the Mariachi supervisor of the Time Vortex mutters "carry the tres" (Spanish for three) when trying to figure out where an ink ribbon landed after it was lost in space and time.
  • Likewise, in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Baddest of the Bands, Bubs mutters "carry the G" while calculating how much money Strong Bad made off his Battle of the Bands.
  • In the first Knights of the Old Republic, you find yourself in a virtual prison with another prisoner. The two of you have a riddle competition in order to see who's mind gets to enter your body. When you defeat him with a trick question that seems at first glance to require math skills, he says this.
  • Serina , the shipboard AI in Halo Wars, utters this when adjusting her calculations for the time until the Spirit of Fire is pulled into the Shield World. Considering she's a hyper-advanced AI with a whole ship's computer systems to play with, she's probably just saying it for laughs.
  • An astronomer in Kingdom of Loathing tried to prove that a comet would not hit the Kingdom, but failed because he "forgot to carry the one."

Web Comics


 Marie: It's not so bad! You just make little mistakes.

Dirk (staring at Marie's breasts): They're not little.

Marie: See here? You forgot to carry the two.

Dirk: I'd like to carry those two.


Web Original

Western Animation

  • Said by Dr. Frink in The Simpsons, episode "Itchy and Scratchy Land". He was informing his coworkers that the robots will inevitably turn against their human masters, then informs them they have 24 hours before this happens. The robots start revolting immediately, and Frink realizes he did the trope.
    • In the episode "The Trouble with Trillions", there's a jam at the post office on April 15 as everyone tries to file his taxes. Lenny is filling out the forms using Professor Frink's back as his desk.

 Professor Frink: Oh no, no, no, I felt that! You didn't carry the 1, you foolish person! Now you'll incur the penalties, compound interest, and the wrath, and the trudgeons! B'hoy!

  • Lampshaded in Futurama, episode "Insane in the Mainframe". Hermes is doing stuff on his calculator and he says 'carry the one', then presses a button on his calculator that says, "Carry the One."
    • Used again in another episode: when Farnsworth cracks the Grand Unified Theory, you can hear him say "carry the infinity"
  • When the penguins' vacation to the moon turns out to be a failure, Kowalski says while checking his calculations for the rocket, "It seems I forgot to carry the two."


  1. The prevalence of "one" is probably due to the fact that, in the simplest case, addition of two numbers, you'll never have a bigger digit than 1 to carry, because 9+9=18.
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