Fictional Insights to Transform Your Life: 20 Empowering Quotes from Beloved Characters

Quotes from films, TV shows, and books are wisdom. That wisdom from characters can make us laugh, make us cry, or make us think. While the situation that they are in is fictional, that doesn't make what they say resonate less with the audience. Members of a well-regarded Internet forum discussed their favorite film quotes, which reminded everyone of their favorite films and the movie moments that mean the most to them.

1 – The Godfather Part II

The Godfather Part II, Al Pacino, John Cazale
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

“My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

Michael Corleone, played by Al Capone, said this in a moment of tension, telling them his father's wise words that ruled his actions. The first Don Corlene taught him to be so subtle that even people who were his enemies trying to harm him might never know that he was already on to them and was purposely letting them be near him for his reasons.

2 – Hustlers

Hustlers, Jennifer Lopez
Image Credit: STXfilms.

This film, directed by Lorene Scafaria and starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Lizzo, and Cardi B, was based on a real-life incident where strippers at a club started to drug and rob their wealthy clients who worked in the stock market.

Ramona Vega, played by Jennifer Lopez, boldly states a truth about the 2008 economic crash in the film.

“These Wall Street guys, you see what they did to this country? They stole from everybody. Hard-working people lost everything.”

When Ramona points out that none of these Wall Street financiers went to jail, people felt that.

3 – Phantasm

Phantasm, A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury
Image Credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures.

When I was a little girl, in my grandparent's home with a fully stocked gun cabinet, my father told me a rule about gun safety. Little did I know then that he was quoting one of his favorite horror movies, Phantasm, directed by Don Coscarelli in 1979.

The quote is simple but effective:

“Now, remember: you don't aim a gun at a man unless you intend to shoot him. And you don't shoot a man unless you intend to kill him.” Bill Thornbury, the actor who played Jody in the film, says the quote to his younger brother Mike.

4 – The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox / MGM.

This a painfully honest quote from the usually ever-patient and hopeful Wesley disguised as The Dread Pirate Roberts. After feeling the pain of losing Buttercup's love, Wesley takes on a more cynical outlook.

At one point, Wesley tells Buttercup:

“Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

5 – The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy , Douglas Adams
Image Credit: Del Rey.

According to the book created by the author Douglas Adams, the people who want the President's job are those you shouldn't trust as President. Adams had many pointed things to say about Life, The Universe, And Everything, but this particular bit of advice was proven to be spot on more than once.

“To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. Therefore, to summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

6 – Men in Black

Men In Black, Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Men In Black is another galactic adventure with nuggets of wisdom nestled within a highly entertaining package. Directed by Barry Sonenfeld and stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, along with Linda Fiorentino and Vincent D'Onofrio, there's a lot of humanity among the film's aliens.

Agent K tells Agent J (Will Smith) something that is very much the truth.

“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it!”

7 – Dune

Dune, Rebecca Ferguson, Timothée Chalamet
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Let's go for a third space epic with the films and the book called Dune. Frank Herbert wrote Dune, and the book has been adapted twice for film by David Lynch and Denis Villeneuve. The most quoted dialogue by far is the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, and I can tell you from personal experience that it does work. It's powerful.

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little Death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

8 – Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring

Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

When Frodo says that he wished that finding the Ring of Power had not happened within his time, a wish that many people have in recent years for different reasons, Gandalf the Wizard responds wisely.

“So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

9 – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Logan Lerman, Paul Rudd
Image Credit: Summit Entertainment.

In the film, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Charlie (Logan Lerman) asks his teacher Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), “Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?” Mr. Anderson thinks for a moment and sadly responds, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

10 – Friday

Friday Chris Tucker, Ice Cube
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

F. Gary Gray directed Ice Cube, and Chris Tucker starred in this hilarious stoner comedy with some profound moments. Ice Cube's character Craig is angry in one of them and talks about getting a gun to defend himself. His father, Willie Jones (John Witherspoon), tells him his fists were all he and his friends needed to protect themselves.

“You win some, you lose some, but you live, you live to fight another day.”

Ice Cube and his friend DJ Pooh wrote the film and wanted to inject a sense of reality into the story and show other sides of “the hood.” They succeeded while still making one of the best comedies of the 1990s.

11 – Ikiru

Ikiru, Takashi Shimura
Image Credit: Toho.

I didn't expect to find a quote from one of Akira Kurasawa's quietest masterpieces on this site, but I did. The selection is from Ikuru, Japanese for To Live, where a bureaucrat finds out one day that he is dying of cancer. After working tirelessly for his family for most of his life, the man searches for meaning.

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) loses his hat when it is stolen and gives chase. His new friend says:

“You'll lose twelve hats trying to get the one back.” The moral? Don't waste time chasing what you have already lost.

12 – Mad Men

Mad Men, Jon Hamm
Image Credit: AMC Network Entertainment LLC and Lions Gate Entertainment Inc.

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is a seemingly all-powerful but strangely vulnerable character. One of his most wise quotes from the TV show Mad Men was this:

“People tell you who they are, but we ignore it. Because we want them to be who we want them to be.”

13 – Gladiator

Gladiator Russell Crowe, Connie Nielsen
Image Credit: United International Pictures.

A marvelous film about bravery and mortality, the lead character Maximus (Russell Crowe) says this about Death, “Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.” He attributes the saying to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the great philosopher. Ridley Scott directed the film, and it remains an elegiac masterpiece.

14 – Blade Runner

Blade Runner, Rutger Hauer
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

While we don't know any of the experiences named by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), an android programmed to die but doing anything he can to live, we still feel the loss through the incredible performance of Hauer. Batty has spent the entire film killing people without hesitation, and that moment encapsulates the regret sentient beings feel when they know it is over.

“I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain—time to die.”

As a director, Ridley Scott never forgets to give you that emotional depth in a scene like this.

15 – Pet Semetary

Pet Semetary, Fred Gwynne, Dale Midkiff
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

This quote sticks with the ongoing theme of mortality. In the book and the film Pet Sematary, Louis Creed's new neighbor, Jud Crandall, tries to counsel him to deal with his grief and his family's grief rather than taking what could be a deadly shortcut to bring something back to life.

Crandall, a taciturn man who has learned from previous painful experiences, says, “Sometimes, dead is better.”

16 – Spirited Away

Spirited Away
Image Credit: Toho Co., Ltd.

While Sprited Away is a deep and wonderful movie and family and change, there was one quote from the film that was suggested online as something one user thinks about a lot.

“Finish what you started, human”

The person online said they think about this quote as a reminder that they should never leave loose ends in life. This line is said by the boiler man, a character that's not extremely significant to the entire movie, but it's made a lasting impression.

17 – The Pirates of The Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest Johnny Depp
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

While Captain Jack Sparrow is known for having fun, quotable lines, sometimes he would say something profound leaving people thinking. In one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, he says:

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

While this line may be a rebuttal to another character's problem, it's a great quote to keep in mind when facing tough times.

18 – Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Despite being a teenager, Ferris Bueller had a great outlook on life. In fact, people constantly quote him when they're faced with the decision between enjoying life and something else.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

It's important to stop and enjoy ourselves sometimes, otherwise we don't know what we'll miss.

19 – The Lion King

The Lion King
Image Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

The Lion King has been a family favorite since its release in the 1990s. While there are funny lines from a lot of the characters, one part that has stuck with viewers is when Rafiki tries to encourage Simba look embrace his past and learn from what hurt him.

“The past can hurt, but the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.”

20 – Inside Out

big bong inside out
Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

Rounding out the list is another children's movie. It shouldn't be a surprise that a lot of children's movies have some profound quotes that have stuck with people for a long time.

One of the most heartbreaking, but important quotes comes from Inside Out, where Bing Bong sacrifices himself for love. It still hurts just thinking about it.

“Take her to the moon for me.”

Source: Reddit.

Dolores Quintana is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles. She has bylines at Fangoria, Alternative Press, Nightmarish Conjurings, Recording Academy, The Advocate, Buddyhead,, The Theatre @ Boston Court, The Mirror Media Group, What Now Media, We Like LA, and The Shudder Blog. She has a successful YouTube channel and podcast called Burnt Orange Dreams, where she interviews actors, writers, and directors.

She works as an actor in independent film and both immersive and traditional theatre with Alone: an Existential Haunting, Screenshot Productions, and Native Voices at The Autry.