Some movies are so iconic, influential, and part of pop culture that they are transcendent. Movie quotes from these films are so well known that you can identify a famous line without ever seeing the film. Here are 17 unforgettable movie lines that live in our collective minds rent-free.
1. “You Can't Handle the Truth” – A Few Good Men (1992)
Did you read this quote with Jack Nicholson's voice in your head? Chances are the answer is yes. Even though this courtroom drama is a 90s classic, it's not as widely seen as other films of the era. But you better believe that those who've never seen it have at least seen this pivotal scene between Nicholson and Tom Cruise.
2. “I'm Going To Make Him an Offer He Can't Refuse” – The Godfather (1972)
Those who have never seen the film undoubtedly recognize the most famous line from The Godfather. It may be iconic, but some have yet to watch this brilliant classic. But any time someone pulls out their own Marlon Brando impression, they utilize this line. It's been mimicked and parodied in countless other films and TV shows.
3. “Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen” – Mean Girls (2004)
Mean Girls has become a cult classic and it’s extremely quotable, with one of the biggies being “On Wednesdays, we wear pink.” Many fans especially adore the line when an agitated Regina George snaps at her friend, “Stop trying to make fetch happen. It's not going to happen.”
4. “May The Force Be With You” – Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars became a phenomenon when it was released in 1977, and the film's popularity has only grown exponentially. It's not just a niche series of films. That being said, believe it or not, some people still have never seen a single Star Wars film. But they'll still know its most popular quote: “May the Force be with you.”
Indeed, it seems impossible not to know this line.
5. “Show Me the Money” – Jerry Maguire (1996)
Speaking of Tom Cruise, how many of you have enthusiastically acted out this scene before? Cuba Gooding Jr. and Cruise's back and forth of “Show me the money” lends itself to everyday life.
Do you need a raise, want to borrow five bucks, or are you imagining a higher salary? This quote is perfect and everyone knows it, whether they've seen Jerry Maguire or not.
6. “I See Dead People” – The Sixth Sense (1999)
When The Sixth Sense was first released, you could barely go a day without hearing someone quote this pivotal moment from the M. Night Shyamalan thriller. And if you didn't have the ending spoiled for you, consider yourself lucky. I only saw this film last year, but you better believe this quote has been embedded in my brain for over 20 years.
7. “You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat” – Jaws (1975)
It's pretty spectacular that a line improvised as a running joke by actor Roy Scheider would become the most recognizable quote from Jaws and all of cinema. I only saw the Spielberg classic last year, but I have used this line on more than one occasion.
8. “Toto, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore” – The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard of Oz is a classic film that most people first see as children. Still, there are always some who have yet to have the pleasure. But The Wizard of Oz is one of the most well-known films in cinema history with numerous recognizable quotes such as “There's no place like home” and “I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too.”
While almost anyone would know multiple quotes from the film, “Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore” has a prominent use in popular culture and daily life. Any time someone, real or fictional, finds themselves in a place that's different, odd, or out of the ordinary, this line will likely be the first thing that comes to mind.
9. “Here's Looking at You, Kid” – Casablanca (1942)
Similarly to The Wizard of Oz, the movie Casablanca has an abundance of quotes that find themselves in the cultural zeitgeist for those who have seen the classic 100 times or never. “Here's looking at you, kid” is probably the most recognizable quote, which is incredible, considering Humphrey Bogart improvised it. He affectionately said it to co-star Ingrid Bergman, while teaching her to play chess. Nowadays, we can quote this seminal line to honor the film, to imitate Bogart, or to cheer or rib a friend sweetly.
10. “I'm The King of the World” – Titanic (1997)
Be honest, if you've ever been on a boat, you have stood at the bow and shouted this line at the top of your lungs. If so, you have something in common with Leonardo DiCaprio and The Office's Michael Scott. It's an exuberant line that is undeniably part of our society.
11. “You Talking To Me” – Taxi Driver (1976)
The quintessential line made famous by Robert DeNiro is a prime example of well-known quotes from lesser-viewed films. Some may even know this DeNiro moment without realizing it's from Taxi Driver. Instead, you could be like me and know the homages to this quote in films like Aladdin, Back to the Future Part III, and The Parent Trap.
12. “I'll Be Back” – The Terminator (1984)
Arnold Schwarzenegger's iconic line is the type of quote everyone knows, from little kids to older generations. And I can guarantee that many of them haven't seen The Terminator. That won't stop us from pulling out a Schwarzenegger impression. Because let's be honest — everyone has one.
13. “There's No Crying in Baseball” – A League of Their Own (1992)
The most recognizable line from this poignant film is one of its funniest quotes. And it's also one that every baseball fan has adopted. Many have seen and loved A League of Their Own. But it's unlikely that every person who pulls this line out of their arsenal of movie quotes has seen it.
14. “My Precious” – Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Anytime we see something we desperately want, who doesn't say “my precious” in their best Gollum voice? Lord of the Rings is a cherished film, but these fantasy movies are not everyone's cup of tea. Even so, just about everyone knows this Gollum quote of creepy obsession.
15. “Go Ahead, Make My Day” – Sudden Impact (1983)
You've likely heard the quote “Go ahead, make my day,” even if you've never seen the famous Clint Eastwood movie it's from. The line is so iconic that people quote it even if they're not fully aware of the scene.
16. “Houston, We Have a Problem” – Apollo 13 (1995)
There are a few key reasons explaining this quote's recognizable status. One is simple — Apollo 13 was a popular film upon release and remains well-liked today. This quote entered the zeitgeist as quickly as the film's most pivotal moment.
But the other reason is that this is more than just a movie quote. Apollo 13 tells the true story of three astronauts struggling to return home. Even those who haven't seen the film may have lived through this historic event.
17. “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” – Dirty Dancing (1987)
Often quoted and parodied, Dirty Dancing is a film many have seen and loved. But some only know the film's most famous scene — the conclusion to this love story, complete with the incredible song “(I've Had) The Time of My Life” and epic dancing with Patrick Swayze lifting Jennifer Grey into the air.
It's one of the most recognizable movie scenes that begins with the sweet and meaningful quote, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” How many of us have used this line to help a shy wallflower onto the dance floor but have never seen Dirty Dancing? I'd guess that number could be even higher than the epic lift.
Marianne Paluso is a freelance writer and artist and holds a Masters Degree in English and Children’s Literature from San Diego State University. Inspired by her favorite films, television, theme parks and all things pop culture and geek related, she especially loves Disney, classic films, fairy tales, period dramas, musicals, adventures, mysteries, and a good rom-com. She joined Wealth of Geeks in 2021, and has also contributed to The Nerd Machine, Catholic News Agency, Christianity Today, and The La Jolla Light. She writes on her own website TheGirlyNerd.com, creates art that is sold on Redbubble and Etsy, and also partakes in the occasional Disneybound, cosplay, and YouTube video. She resides in San Diego, California.