Can you imagine Patrick Swayze striding into the room, looking at Baby’s father and not uttering the words: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner?” Or Leonardo DiCaprio living his best life on the Titanic and not yelling out: “I’m the king of the world!”
Iconic movie lines serve to highlight a feeling or elevate a scene and leave a lasting impression on viewers. Some of them have been thought up by brilliant writers while others have been improvised by ingenious actors. While there definitely isn’t enough space on this list to add all of the memorable lines movies have given us throughout the years, there are quite a few on this list that may just inspire you to rewatch those scenes in which they are uttered.
Or the whole movie, for that matter.
10 “Hasta la Vista, baby.”
It’s impossible to watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day and not listen for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous “Hasta la Vista, baby” line.
Co-writer of the film, William Wisher, revealed in 2017 that this line was something he used to say to James Cameron over the phone when hanging up. At the time neither of them knew just how iconic the words would become.
Cameron also said in 2017 that ‘Hasta la Vista, baby’ is a line from a Tone Loc song and the rapper approved of the use of it in the movie.
Schwarzenegger’s other iconic line “I’ll be back”, didn’t sit well with the actor at the beginning and he tried several times to persuade Cameron to allow him to say “I will be back” instead. He felt that his accent made the abbreviated line sound strange, but Cameron wouldn’t accept any adjustment to the line whatsoever.
9 “I’m walkin here! I’m walkin here!”
Midnight Cowboy was released in 1969 and became the only X-rated film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. After all these years, the film still has the ability to bring viewers to tears, especially during the bus scene at the end. In the film, Dustin Hoffman stars as Ratso Rizzo and Jon Voight as Joe Buck. Before the movie’s release, Hoffman was convinced that it would ruin his career after a preview saw droves of people leave the theatre during Jon Voight’s gay sex scene. Voight on the other hand was fully convinced that the film would be a success and also become a classic.
In one, now iconic, scene, Ratso and Joe are talking while walking across a street, when Ratso hits the hood of a taxi and yells, “I’m walkin here! I’m walkin here!” This scene was completely improvised, as there was no budget to close a busy New York street. It was also a real struggle to get the scene done in one shot and director John Schlesinger became annoyed when the actors kept stopping at the curb to avoid being bumped by cars and people. The yellow cab bore down on them during one attempt at shooting the scene, trying to beat the signal, and Hoffman slapped his hand down on the hood of the cab and uttered the infamous line. Schlesinger decided to keep the scene because he loved the improv so much.
8 “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
The ominous score together with Bruce the shark are probably the most memorable parts of the Jaws movie, released in 1975. However, there is one line that became so iconic, it has been parodied and referenced in several other films. When Roy Scheider finally gets a full view of Bruce, he says, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” with his cigarette never leaving the spot between his lips.
This was even funnier when uttered for the first time during filming, as that particular line was something of an inside joke before it made its way into the movie. It was well known that Jaws’ producers were quite stingy and refused to get a bigger boat to support the barge housing the Jaws equipment. Whenever something went wrong with the small boat they hired, someone would say the line. Even when lunch ran late, someone would mumble the line and everyone within earshot would burst out laughing. Scheider improvised the line based on this inside joke.
7 “I see dead people.”
M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t always get it right, but he made something special out of The Sixth Sense. The movie is not only creepy, it’s also succeeded in pulling off one of the biggest twists in movie history (before twists became commonplace, that is). Of course, it’s easy after 21 years to see the camera zoom in on Bruce Willis’ face just as the little boy says, “I see dead people”, but at the time, audible gasps were the order of the day in theatres during screenings worldwide after the twist revealed that Willis’ character had in fact been dead the whole time.
In 2019 Haley Joel Osment, who plays Cole Sear, spoke during an interview about how amazed he was that the now infamous line was never thought to be the tagline for movie during filming, or even part of the call sheet. It was simply a small part of the dialogue that had to be spoken during the scene with Willis’ Dr Malcolm to highlight the moment that Sear shares his secret for the first time.
6 “You hit me in the ear?!”
“The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.”
This rule apparently extended to the director of the movie as well, who devised a plan to get a genuine reaction out of Brad Pitt during the filming of a fight scene between him and Edward Norton. The scene was originally supposed to include Norton punching Pitt lightly on the shoulder.
Director, David Fincher, apparently walked up to Norton moments before shooting was due to start and whispered to him to hit Pitt in the ear instead. Norton was understandably hesitant but proceeded to do exactly as he was told anyway. The reaction from Pitt was the surprised “You hit me in the ear?!” line that stayed as is during the now iconic fight scene.
5 “Hakuna Matata.”
Right after Timon tells Simba that he needs to learn a new lesson in the original The Lion King movie, he asks him to repeat the now infamous words, “Hakuna Matata.” Pumbaa then repeats the line and adds, “It means no worries.” Then follows one of the catchiest tunes in Disney history.
There are many unforgettable quotes and songs in this animated classic, but for a lot of fans “Hakuna Matata” tops the list.
Hakuna Matata really does mean “no trouble” or “no problems” in Swahili and was included in the lyrics by Tim Rice who found the term in a Swahili book.
Disney filed to register “Hakuna Matata” as a trademark in 1994, but this stirred up quite the controversy as the phrase is commonly used by those who speak Swahili. Before the remake of The Lion King was released in 2019, an online petition signed by over 100,000 people called for Disney to drop the trademark rights, which it called an assault on Swahili people and Africa as a whole.
4 “I got a jar of dirt!”
Captain Jack Sparrow swaying drunkenly, falling down, and running through shallow sea water, arms flailing comically, is one of the main reasons for the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. Of course, there is also Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, zombie-looking sailors, the fantastical Black Pearl, and a whole lot of “Savvy.”
Captain Jack is responsible for some of the funniest moments of the franchise, including calmly stepping onto a dock out of a rapidly sinking ship, practically crying over wasted rum, judging Barbossa’s wig, falling over a wall and highlighting his father’s age in the best way possible. One of Jack’s funniest moments was completely unscripted but ended up being used in the second film because the character reactions were genuinely great. Johnny Depp was completely in character, filming a scene in which he calls out ‘Oi fish face’ to Davy Jones before accidently tumbling down the steps of the ship he was standing on.
The fall may have been unscripted, but Depp made it work by jumping up quickly and singing, “Look what I got. I got a jar of dirt, I got a jar of dirt, and guess what’s inside it!” Depp’s changing facial expression, as Jones prepares to launch an attack on his ship, rounds out the scene perfectly.
3 “Welcome to prime time, bitch!”
Freddy Krueger was one of the scariest horror movie villains of the 80s. He brutally killed people by pulling them into their mattresses and creating a blood fountain, slashing them with the blades on his glove and dragging them across ceilings, and even bursting out from their bodies after possessing them. In total there are 9 movies featuring Freddy, with the third film boasting one of the killer’s most iconic lines which also happened to be improvised.
In Dream Warriors, Freddy is about to kill Jennifer who is a teenager with big dreams of becoming a star in Hollywood. Jennifer’s death is the second one in the movie and comes after she tries not to fall asleep by sitting and smoking in front of the TV late at night. She even puts out the cigarette on her hand in an attempt to stay awake. Unfortunately, she gets too close to the TV after she sees Freddy’s face on the screen, only to be grabbed by Freddy himself. His head then emerges from the top of the TV set as he growls “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” This line was completely improvised by Robert Englund and director Chuck Russell decided to keep the line as well as the original one that Englund says before it: “This is it Jennifer, your big break in TV!”
2 “You better hide that big-ass forehead!”
The Fast And The Furious franchise is jam packed with one liners. Some great, others not so much. They include: “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning” and “I don’t have friends, I have family.” Who could forget Letty’s catty “I smell skanks. Why don’t you just pack it up before I leave tread marks on your face?” Or Hobbs exclaiming “I will beat your ass like a Cherokee drum.”
Dwayne Johnson also came up with one of the best one-liners for his Hobbs character when he took out Roman who tried to get a dig in at him. When Hobbs arrives at the barbecue in Furious 6, Roman shouts that Mia should hide her baby oil. Without missing a beat, Hobbs retorts “You better hide that big-ass forehead.” Johnson improvised the line on the spot, causing Ludacris to spit out his drink and Tyrese being at a loss for words, mumbling “I was just joking,” both genuine reactions to the pithy line.
1 “Wakanda Forever” – Black Panther
In the age of superheroes and supervillains, could there be a more iconic line than the two words: “Wakanda Forever?” There has been cheering and clapping in packed theatres across the globe during the screening of Marvel movies whenever this line was spoken. The cheering also had much to do with late Chadwick Boseman, aka Black Panther.
During an appearance of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Boseman confirmed that the salute done in conjunction with uttering “Wakanda Forever” was always done with the right arm over the left. The salute, according to director Ryan Coogler, came from various cultures and languages and has been popularized as a gesture of black excellence. Wakanda, a fictional East African country in the movie Black Panther, was and still is a name for God.
Both the phrase and the salute have been adopted by celebrities worldwide after the release of the movie in 2018. Tennis players have flashed the salute and mouthed the words after victories on the court, soccer players have gotten in on the action after scoring goals as have rugby players after scoring tries.
“Wakanda Forever” is also the lasting legacy of T’Challa who vocalizes the phrase as a battle cry in fight scenes, and Chadwick Boseman, who expressed the salute and words on multiple occasions beyond the movie.