Numerous movies in history, regardless of how good or popular they may be, are remembered above all for a single line featured in their scripts, a fleeting yet iconic moment that fans continue to recall and even use in everyday conversation even years after the films have debuted.
Whether it’s Jack screaming “I’m the king of the world” or 007 telling a bartender, “A martini. Shaken, not stirred,” some quotes resonate with audiences well past the film’s release date.
These are 30 of the most popular lines in cinema history, chosen based on how much they have managed to enter the public consciousness on a regular basis.
Dead Poets Society
While the Dead Poets Society has numerous iconic quotes, thanks to John Keating’s fascination with Walt Whitman, one stands out among the rest. And, no, it is not the line “Oh, captain, my captain.”
When speaking to his class, Keating says to them, “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” The line epitomizes the overall theme of the movie and the change in the boys’ attitudes.
Cher steps out of the romantic norms of 1980s romantic dramadies and into a new age of women, one that is allowed to slap their man and say something as rebellious as “snap out of it!” while in public.
For her performance in Moonstruck, Cher won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
A campy yet fan-favorite movie starring Tom Cruise, Top Gun has many memorable scenes and lines, such as the volleyball scene. And yet, there is nothing quite as iconic as Maverick’s quote, “I feel the need—the need for speed!”
The line pretty much sums up Peter “Maverick” Mitchell’s character, a man who doesn’t want to go fast but needs to.
One of James Bond’s most iconic lines came from the 1964 film Goldfinger. In the movie, the famous 007 agent tells a bartender his drink order, “A martini. Shaken not stirred.”
According to James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s biographer Andrew Lycett, the iconic line is due to the fact that the drink is how Fleming likes his since shaking it would compromise the flavor!
Starring Barbra Streisand as the legendary Fanny Brice, Funny Girl is a film adaptation of a Broadway play of the same name. In the film, Brice looks in a mirror, sporting a leopard print coat and hat outfit, and utters the iconic words, “Hello, Gorgeous,” to herself.
It is a line that many people have said since the film’s release in 1968.
National Lampoon’s Animal House
In 1978, Nation Lampoon came out with one of their funnier motion pictures, National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Set in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity house at Faber College, the film is nothing without John “Bluto” Blutarsky, played by John Belushi, screaming “Toga, Toga,” during one of the house’s parties.
While many people associate the song Eye of the Tiger with the character of Rocky Balboa, it isn’t technically a quote uttered in the film. The line that stands out amongst the others is actually something actor Sylvester Stallone says countless times throughout the film — “Yo, Adrian!”
Of course, people can argue that a more iconic line uttered by the underdog boxer is “ya know?”
While the phrase “You had me at hello” in the film Jerry McGuire became iconic, actress Renée Zellweger was very confused when she initially read her script.
During an interview, she said, “It’s so funny because when I read it, I didn’t get it – I thought it was a typo somehow. I kept looking at it. It was the one thing in the script that I was looking at going, ‘Is that right? Can that be right? How is that right?'”
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
According to Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s co-writer, director James Cameron and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say the iconic line “Hasta la vista, baby” to one another on set.
Little did they know that the quote would become a staple in cinema, something fans of the franchise will willingly say to one another in normal conversation.
The 1980 slapstick film Airplane! has numerous setups that result in belly-laugh moments throughout the movie. But one of the moments is a bit more memorable than the others.
In the scene, a passenger says, “Surely you can’t be serious.” It is the perfect setup for Leslie Nielsen’s iconic line, “I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.”
A Streetcar Named Desire
Actress Vivien Leigh plays the vulnerable and traumatized character of Blanche DuBois in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire. For her performance, Leigh won her second Academy Award for Best Actress.
The award might have had something to do with the epic line her character says, “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.” The line embodies the character so completely.
It is hard to imagine Titanic without Jack Dawson, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, shouting the iconic line “I’m the king of the world” on the bow of the ship. The thing is, this quote was actually made up on the spot!
During an interview, director James Cameron said, “It was made up on the spot. I was in a crane basket, and we were losing the light, and we had tried this and tried that, and tried this line and tried that line, and nothing was really working.”
The Godfather: Part II
Al Pacino plays then ruthless Michael Corleone, the head of the Corleone Crime Family, in the Academy Award-winning film The Godfather: Part II. Taking text straight out of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, filmmakers Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola opted to showcase Michael’s leadership.
The line: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
The Jazz Singer
The 1927 film The Jazz Singer marked a time in cinematic history when talkies began to be the norm. This particular film paid homage to that fact, with actor Al Jolson’s character saying to the orchestra, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”
The line singlehandedly put an end to the world of silent film.
According to a Play.com poll of 10,000 people, the scariest movie that got their heart rate up was The Shining.
More specifically, the part in the movie where Jack Torrance chops a hole in a bathroom door with an ax, peers through, and, in a deranged voice, yells, “Here’s Johnny!”
Johnny Castle proves that he isn’t going to let anyone push Baby around, saying the iconic line “nobody puts Baby in a corner.” It was to prove to people that she won’t be silenced by anyone, especially her father.
It’s a line that has been used in other projects, including an episode of Veronica Mars and a song title for Fallout Boy.
The 1942 film Casablanca had numerous lines that have been quoted in other projects throughout history. One being “Here’s to looking at you, kid” and the other “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
The two quotes embody the film’s main theme of fated love and destiny, especially the latter.
The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
The line, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” uttered by the one and only Sherlock Holmes in the 1939 film The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, has since become a staple saying when something is simple, and someone else just isn’t quite understanding.
Interestingly, the iconic line is not in any of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original works, solely an addition to the film adaptation.
Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws broke set many milestones in film, including a huge animatronic shark as one of the main characters! It was actually the size of the shark that led Roy Scheider’s character, Martin Brody, to say the famous phrase, “You’re going to need a bigger boat!”
It is a line that is still referenced today.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
There are long and beautiful monologues all throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But there is nothing so powerful as two little words said by the creature Gollum in the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers — “My Precious.”
The quote is in reference to the ring of power, an object that gave Gollum an unnaturally long life and took him away from home to live in the Misty Mountains.
Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, might be mildly unhinged during Scarface, but he does say the iconic line “Say hello to my little friend” before whipping out a very large gun.
This line has been used a few times since the famous movie, in shows such as Awake and Scandal.
Gone With The Wind
Right before intermission, Vivien Leigh’s character Scarlett O’Hara delivers a powerful monologue, showcasing the struggles she’s been through during the Civil War.
The emotional line spoken by a vulnerable yet powerful O’Hara that has gone down in cinematic history is “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
Actor Anthony Perkins delivers a chilling line in the Hitchcock film Psycho. In the film, Perkins’s character Norman Bates has a psychological breakdown, embodying his mother and wreaking havoc on the motel they own.
Little do the viewers know that Bates’s mom is actually dead (spoiler alert), killed at the hands of Bates. It makes the iconic line “A boy’s best friend is his mother” even more chilling.
Yankee Doodle Dandy
The patriotic film Yankee Doodle Dandy was released in 1947, and with it came a famous quote that wound up on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list. The quote: “My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.”
The line is spoken by the character George M. Cohan to President Roosevelt and is supposed to symbolize how a family is a man’s strength and the epitome of patriotism.
A League Of Their Own
A League of Their Own dives into a fictionalized version of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II. In the film, Tom Hanks stars as Jimmy Dugan, the manager of Rockford Peaches.
During one of the scenes, his character says a pretty famous line, “There is no crying in baseball!” The quote was ranked as the 54th in the American Film Institute‘s list of 100 years…100 movie quotes.
The 1931 film Frankenstein, based on the Mary Shelley novel of the same name, revolves around the story of a mad scientist who plays god, creating a “monster.” Well, when that monster awakens, Dr. Henry Frankenstein says the iconic line, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
This line has been used in numerous projects across cinema and television, including young Frankenstein, Dexter, and even Robot Chicken!
The Wizard Of Oz
The line “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” has been used a few times in cinema in references to witches. This is thanks to actress Margaret Hamilton’s iconic line as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
In the film, the Wicked Witch says the line to Dorothy (and, in a way, Toto) before vanishing in a plume of red smoke!
The Sixth Sense
At such a young age, actor Haley Joel Osment delivers one of the creepiest and most well-known lines in cinema — “I see dead people.” It most likely wouldn’t have had the same effect if an older character said the line.
But Osment’s delivery is just what The sixth Sense needed to go down in history.
Field Of Dreams
The 1989 sports film Field of Dreams stars Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, a farmer who begins to hear a mysterious voice in his head. That mysterious voice just so happens to be that of the famous baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson.
The former player says to Costner, “If you build it, they will come.” It is one line that embodies the entire movie, as Costner builds a baseball diamond on his property only to see the ghosts of former pros begin to play.
In the film Midnight Cowboy, Dustin Hoffman’s character Ratso Rizzo says the iconic line, “I’m walkin’ here! I’m walkin’ here!” when a car almost hits him when he’s crossing the street.
Interestingly, the line wasn’t in the original script. In fact, it was ad-libbed by Hoffman while they were filming, and a car literally almost hit him! Instead of “I’m walkin’ here!” Hoffman almost said to the driver, “We’re shooting a movie here!”