September 2017 is SYFY's 25th anniversary, so we’re using it as an excuse to look back and celebrate the last 25 years of ALL science fiction, fantasy and horror, a time that has seen the genres we love conquer the world of pop culture. For us, that means lists! ALL THE LISTS! We’ll be doing two “25 greatest” lists per day all throughout September, looking back at the moments, people, and characters that shaped the last quarter century. So keep checking back.
Please note: Our lists are not ranked; all items have equal standing in our brains
What items in our lists were your favorites? Did we miss something? We welcome respectful debate and discussion, so please let us know in the comments!
Whether a quip, a catchphrase, or incredible wisdom, certain movie lines stay with us long after the credits have rolled. Sometimes, they’ll be repeated as in-jokes, but sometimes, they can give you comfort when times are dark. That may sound silly, but we’re inspired by the things we love. Whether we’re inspired to laugh, to carry on, or to understand a fellow human being, it doesn’t matter. The fusion of a great character and a great line can elevate most movies, and in some cases they make a struggling movie more bearable. May our list of the 25 greatest movie quotes from the last 25 years be with you.
"Alright everyone: Chill!" – Batman & Robin
One of Mr. Freeze’s seven thousand puns in this movie, and it’s really hard to pick just one as the best. Consider this a representation of them all, as it’s more accessible than his name drop of a classic play by Eugene O’ Neill and just a little bit cleverer than the end of the movie, where we swear he’s just shouting “FREEZE FREEZE FREEZE!!!” We guess they ran out. Look, this was a crazy action figure cash grab of a film; director Joel Schumacher, himself, admits it during a DVD feature. Scriptwriter Akiva Goldsman certainly deserves time in the pun-alty box (sorry) but the relentless barrage of silly frozen water wordplay is one of the things that make this neon nightmare fun to watch as well as imitate.
"Apes together strong." – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Caesar is learning the lesson that the humans in these movies never seem to learn. Only together can the apes accomplish the 'rise' of the film’s title, and they do. A moving rallying call, Andy Serkis’ performance and a hefty dose of technical wizardry make it a classic.
"By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged." – Galaxy Quest
Alan Rickman. Dear lord, for the love of Alan Rickman. The man could play one hell of villain, but could then about-face and play the frustrated Shakespearean actor (forced to play an alien) in this sci-fi comedy. He’d love to quote Shakespeare to people, but all the fans want him to say is the above quote. It’s the constant refrain of his character Dr. Lazarus, and he resents having to say it — that is, until he loses someone that he’d started to regard as a friend in the film’s climax. With all of the depth and gravitas of Hamlet or King Lear, he delivers this catchphrase to his dying comrade with utter sincerity. His friend dies happy, and it might be the most perfect moment in the film. By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, we miss you dearly, Alan Rickman.
"Chewie, we’re home." – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
We knew it was coming thanks to its use in one of the trailers, but that didn’t take away from the impact of the moment. Han Solo was home, and he had finally arrived in a movie we were already enjoying the hell out of. Another great Han quote from this movie? Every line he says after this one until the end. Many of us may say this line whenever we return home after a prolonged absence. It’s such a good line that the great Kelly Sue DeConnick included it at the last minute during her excellent run on the Captain Marvel comics.
"God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys god. Man creates dinosaurs." / "Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth." – Jurassic Park
The genius of Ian Malcolm. This dinosaur movie didn’t even need dinosaurs, because it had the good rock star doctor with a deplorable excess of personality. His scenes with Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler early in the film are a delight, but it is this one that really resonates. Looking out into the park and already quite concerned, Malcolm says the first half of this exchange almost to himself. When he’s done musing on the unnatural man-made chaos that is surrounding him, Ellie turns his deep phrase on its head. The way she kind of tosses away “woman inherits the earth” signals that perhaps women would not be stupid enough to succumb to the hubris that is about to envelop the denizens of this fake dinosaur fun fair. She’s probably right.
"Hold on to your butts." – Jurassic Park
If you’ve ever had to turn circuit breakers off, wait, and then turn them on again, you’ve probably used this line. Technology is a fickle beast that rarely works the way we want/need it to, and the only thing we can do is hold on, flip the switch, and hope for the best. Samuel L. Jackson’s cigarette-munching Mr. Arnold has many gems in this movie (the whole thing is insanely quotable) but this is the one most often imitated.
"I am Groot." – Guardians of the Galaxy
The only way the sentient tree can communicate in this space adventure is by saying this line. Actor Vin Diesel goes through every variation of it you can think of, making this simple line mean all kinds of things. It’s a question, it’s a statement, it’s a joke, it’s a swear, it’s everything. Only when he comes to his sacrificial moment in the climax does the line alter at all. If you like this line, definitely check out the sequel, in which the baby version of Groot says it about a million more times in a million more different ways.
"I see dead people." – The Sixth Sense
For years after this movie came out, people would quote this line. It was parodied everywhere, repeated non-stop, and the reason is that the line was instantly iconic. Besides the spook fest delivery from Haley Joel Osment, the line is also giving away the twist of the film, which is hiding in plain sight. Right there, early on, little pre-Entourage movie Osment is telling you what the endgame is and most people had no idea. It makes the film all the better when watching it a second time.
"I volunteer as tribute!" – The Hunger Games
This is the line that kicks off the unfortunate trials and tribulations of Katniss Everdeen. Her adventures begin with this sacrifice — unwilling to let her sister go forward and star in a remake of Battle Royale, Katniss does the unthinkable and volunteers herself to go in her place. It’s in every trailer, but Jennifer Lawrence delivers it with such strength that it remains a hugely powerful moment of sacrifice. It’s also heard at any meeting when someone takes on a task that nobody else wants to do.
"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you" - LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
An exchange for the ages. Taken (mostly) from Tolkien’s book, this exchange between Frodo and Gandalf illustrates that it doesn’t matter what we wish happened, or what we wish we could have done differently. There’s only what there IS, and once you accept that, you can choose what path to take. We can’t select when we live our lives, but we can decide what kind of person we are going to be within those times. It’s a moment that stays with Frodo so much that it’s flashed back to at the film’s end. Frodo doesn’t want this ring, he doesn’t want this quest, but he has them both. Destiny has thrust them upon him. What is he going to do? With the wisdom of Gandalf the Grey humming in his head, Frodo pockets the ring, grabs a boat, and starts the real journey. Thankfully, someone chooses to go along with him.
"I’m a leaf on the wind." – Serenity
Watch how I soar. The first time he says it, you’re joyful that Wash can pilot the ship so well. The second time he says it, he only gets the first part out because the ship just got hit with something and Mal isn’t happy. The third time, uh, well … he’s done the impossible and landed the ship. It’s damaged, but they survived and Wash is the reason everyone is still alive. Unfortunately, he doesn’t finish the quote because what happens, well, happens. We don’t want to discuss it anymore. We love Wash. This was his line.
"I am one with the Force, the Force is with me." – Rogue One
You don’t have to be a Jedi to believe in the Force. The new Star Wars canon is full of non-Jedi believers who are devoted to that “ancient religion” ... but none of them are as fantastic as Chirrut Imwe, Guardian of the Whills. Played to perfection by none other than Donnie Yen - he can’t wield the Force, but he believes anyway. He speaks this line at various points in this anthology film, usually to secure his own faith, summon his courage, or to free himself from fear. No moment is more pivotal than when he blindly (literally) crosses a battlefield to flip a pivotal switch. Narrowly escaping blaster fire all around him, he fearlessly chants his line and makes it — before he is eventually overrun. His sacrifice was not in vain. As he dies, he passes his mantra off to Baze Malbus, who then chants it as he guns down every last Death Trooper on the beach. It is a beautiful, soul stirring, life affirming line. Say it to yourself when you need hope, or when you need strength — it will not let you down.
"It’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? Breaking the rules." – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Dumbleore’s Army! Hogwarts is under the tyrannical rule of the one of the most annoying characters in fantasy, Dolores Umbridge. It takes a lot for rule-loving, school-comes-first Hermione Granger to put her studies in jeopardy, but the ignorant idiocy that Umbridge floods the school with puts her over the top. Fresh off of their first clandestine meeting of what will become the new resistance, a jubilant Hermione utters this line. Not only is she breaking the rules and loving it, but she’s discovering a new side of herself. Some rules need to be broken, and a delightfully defiant Hermione is born.
"Leeloo Dallas Multipass." – The Fifth Element
Leeloo doesn’t know many words yet, but she really loves to use them. She knows her name, and she really knows how to say multipass, so when asked for her credentials she gives it all she has. It’s very funny, but it also speaks to the innocence of the character. It’s not so much what she says, (although that itself is funny) so much as the endlessly fun delivery from Milla Jovovich. If the character hadn’t charmed you yet, this moment probably marked the moment where she did.
"Meow." – Batman Returns
Batman's having a nice chat with Oswald Cobblepot and, out of nowhere, an acrobatic woman dressed as a vinyl cat comes cartwheeling forth. She utters this short line, the first introduction of Catwoman to the other characters, before Christopher Walken’s department store explodes in the background. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition of a small line and huge explosion. Selina doesn’t really need to roar; a simple “Meow” from her can level a building.
"That’s my secret, Captain: I’m always angry." – Marvel’s The Avengers
Just like that, you understand Bruce Banner better than ever before. Under the rather calm and cool demeanor of Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal, you don’t really get the sense that this brilliant scientist is a bubbling cauldron of rage. It’s probably because he has a LOT of practice keeping that rage contained, no matter how much Tony Stark is a fan of him turning into a green rage monster. When he reveals this secret and lets that rage out, he transforms just in time to punch a giant alien leviathan so hard that it flips over itself. It’s the best “cheer for Hulk” moment (in a movie that is absolutely busting with them) because it is a moment for Hulk as well as for Banner.
"There is no spoon." – The Matrix
In many ways, this is the key to Neo understanding the world he now finds himself in. Some rules can be bent, others can be broken, and this bit of wisdom given to him in the Oracle’s waiting room begins his journey to belief. He repeats it to himself later on, right before he is about to attempt the impossible, and it works. Simple words from a bald child open the gateway to possibility -- and, as Neo finds out, the possibilities are endless.
"This … is … SPARTA!" – 300
Just in case you thought you were someplace else, King Leonidas reminds you. He also reminds the ambassador he is two seconds away from kicking down a death hole. Spartans don’t negotiate, and if you have come to do that, well, you’re in the wrong place. Another line that is endlessly parodied, chances are you’ve heard this screamed by someone in public at one point or another. Despite that, it proves to be a very effective introduction to the Spartan King, as well as an introduction to what kind of movie you’re watching.
"To infinity, and beyond!" – Toy Story
What could possibly exist beyond infinity? Nobody knows, but the intrepid Buzz Lightyear is going to find out. He most likely knows nothing about the science of infinity (or science in general) but darn it, he knows adventure. He is utterly unafraid to shoot right past the unknown into the even greater unknown. The line is really just a catchphrase for a toy (a toy that doesn’t yet realize that he’s a toy) but it’s another great battle cry in the face of danger and fear.
"Underoos!" – Captain America: Civil War
What better way to introduce Spider-Man to the MCU? We’d already seen Tony Stark recruit Peter Parker (and hit on Aunt May) but this is the first time we see Peter in the suit. A perfect little morsel of Stark snark, it’s a fun code name for his surprise guest, as well as an in-joke for anyone who ever wore Spidey Underoos when they were young. Even in the midst of civil war, the hilarious Mr. Stark just can’t stop taking the piss out of everyone, even if they’re on his team.
"We’ve all got both light and darkness inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are." – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter thinks he might be a bad person, and the only one he can really confide in is his beloved godfather, Sirius Black. At this point, Harry has no idea that he has part of Voldemort’s soul (or what passes for it) inside of him, he just knows that he’s been lashing out at people he loves. Sirius’ wisdom, delivered by one of the greatest actors alive (Gary Oldman), is another take on how it’s what a person actually does that really matters in the end. There is no light without the dark, there is always a balance, and in the end you must choose. Everyone has a private battle going on inside of them, but it’s the actions you take that define you. Harry’s actions prove to be very good indeed.
"What I do is not up to you." – Wonder Woman
An appropriate response to any idiot telling a woman to smile on the street, this great line from Diana of Themyscira proves that she is not going to follow the dated, sexist rulebook of the 20th century. Nor should she. She will always follow her heart, and since she is the embodiment of pure goodness as well as an avatar for kindness itself, we are very glad that she does.
"Why so serious?" – The Dark Knight
There are so many incredible lines from Heath Ledger’s revelatory portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime, but this one stands out because it speaks to the mystery of the character’s backstory. He has a few different versions of his own origin, and our selected line comes from the first version he tells. It’s a story about how he got his scars (they all are) and over the course of the monologue he repeats the line a few times, ratcheting up the fear and tension with each one. His final utterance of it is simple and almost tossed off, before he gouges a gangster’s face with a knife. An unforgettable refrain in an unforgettable scene, and another quote that’s fun to say at parties!
"Witness me!" – Mad Max: Fury Road
At last, a poster quote for toxic masculinity! Only a disgusting, fetid, horrible freak show of a character would make the demand that this line requests. Do Immortan Joe’s followers not give him enough attention? He's a walking canker sore; we’re pretty sure people are witnessing him. As to his actions? Yes, fantastic, denying water to the desperate and going on a murderous chase to regain his female slaves. Very honorable. The line to end all lines in terms of jerks needing validation, Immortan Joe has taught it to all of his minions and almost every Internet troll. The only time the line is said with any kind of soul is when the reformed Nux sacrifices himself towards the film’s end.
"YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The last stand of Gandalf the Grey. A (seemingly) old man with a wooden staff and a sword faces down a flame and lava demon (a Balrog) from the dark ages of the world that is twenty times his size and wields a sword of fire. They are on a narrow bridge, and the (seemingly) old man stands in the demon’s way. This is the enemy against whom he has not yet been tested (nobody in that age of the world had) and he stands his ground anyway. The Balrog advances, and as if to also say “did you not hear me the first time??,” Gandalf raises his staff, DELIVERS THE LINE, then brings the staff down to destroy half the bridge. The Balrog goes down, but ultimately Gandalf does, too. It’s a perfectly depicted moment from Tolkien’s book, and marks the passing of our first (and favorite) fellowship member. Thankfully, you can’t keep a good Maiar spirit down for long. Pro tip—never try and stop actual cars at an intersection by screaming this line.
Those were OUR choices from the last 25 years. What are yours? Keep in mind in these quotes are just from movies since 1992. Let us know in the comments which quotes of the last 25 years you’d put on your list?