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10 best action movie quotes, ranked

Arnold Schwarzenegger in a poster for "The Terminator."
Orion Pictures

In modern action movies, it sure seems like great one-liners and quotes have become a lost art. There are occasionally memorable lines in films like John Wick, yet they aren’t quite on the same level that they were during the 1980s and ’90s. The explosions and special effects may be better now, but we miss some of the snappy writing that used to accompany these action flicks.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of 10 great action movie quotes, and ranked them from worst to first. Much to our surprise, the No. 1 quote is from a movie that came out over five decades ago.

10. Snakes On A Plane (2006)

Samuel L. Jackson says "the" line from Snakes on a Plane.
New Line Cinema

Famous line: “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!”

Who said it: Samuel L Jackson’s Neville Flynn.

This is one of the rare occasions where the line is actually more famous than the movie it came from. Snakes on a Plane was a meme ready to happen, and some fans on the internet actually came up with this line before the producers actually incorporated it into the film. That didn’t translate into blockbuster box office for this film, but it’s easily one of the most quotable action movie lines since the turn of the century.

9. Passenger 57 (1992)

Wesley Snipes and Alex Datcher in Passenger 57.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Famous line: “Always bet on black.”

Who said it: Wesley Snipes’ John Cutter.

Passenger 57 doesn’t pretend to be anything more than Die Hard on a plane. But it did make Wesley Snipes into an action star. The line “Always bet on black” was spoken during a tense call between the film’s hero, John Cutter (Snipes), and the terrorist who seized control of the plane, Charles Rane (Bruce Payne).

In context, Cutter is offering Rane some unsolicited advice in Roulette, which also serves as an unsubtle warning not to underestimate what he can do to Rane and his followers.

8. Army of Darkness (1992)

Angela Featherstone and Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness.
Universal Pictures

Famous line: “Hail to the king, baby.”

Who said it: Bruce Campbell’s Ashley J. Williams.

Army of Darkness has so many great one-liners that it could fill up its own list. However, “Hail to the king” has proven to be the most-widely quoted moment from the film, which occurs at the very end when Ash kisses his unnamed co-worker (as portrayed by Angela Featherstone) right after he dispatches a Deadite. The Duke Nukem video games shamelessly lifted this line and built a whole franchise around that persona. But Ash is the original model.

7. The Terminator (1984)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.
Orion Pictures

Famous line: “I’ll be back.”

Who said it: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800.

It’s almost a shame that all of the subsequent Terminator movies turned Schwarzenegger’s T-800 into a hero, because he was such a great, intimidating villain in The Terminator. In this case, the iconic line was dropped during the T-800’s unsuccessful attempt to pass himself off as a friend of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton).

When the cop at the front desk refuses to let him into the police station, the T-800 says he’ll be back. Moments later, he returns and murders almost everyone in the building.

6. Predator (1987)

Jesse Ventura in Predator.
20th Century Studios

Famous line: “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

Who said it: Jesse Ventura’s Blain.

There are some lines in Predator that are only notable because of the way they were said by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch. “Get to da choppa!” and “You are one ugly motherfucker” are prime examples of that.

But perhaps the most memorable line comes early in the film when one of Dutch’s men, Blain (Ventura), completely disregards an injury and comes off as an incredible warrior as a result. Ironically, Blain doesn’t last very long when the Predator starts hunting the team, but he leaves a big impression.

5. They Live (1988)

Roddy Piper in They Live.
Universal Pictures

Famous line: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass … and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

Who said it: Roddy Piper’s Nada.

This line is so famous that most people have forgotten where it came from. In context, Nada (Piper) was a drifter who stumbled upon sunglasses that allowed him to see the aliens among us. These zombie-like creatures were manipulating everyone who couldn’t perceive them or their subliminal messages. That’s why Nada armed himself to the teeth and entered a bank before saying the line and opening fire on the surprised aliens.

4. Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe in Gladiator.
DreamWorks Pictures

Famous line: “Are you not entertained?!”

Who said it: Russell Crowe’s Maximus.

This is another case of a line becoming more famous than the movie it came from. This particular moment came after Maximus (Crowe) cut down an entire group of armored gladiators with such brutality that the crowd was momentarily stunned. This was Maximus’ way of throwing the crowd’s bloodlust back in their collective faces.

3. Lethal Weapon (1987)

Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Famous line: “I’m too old for this shit.”

Who said it: Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh.

Roger Murtaugh (Glover) did not have a good first impression of his new partner, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), in the original Lethal Weapon. Murtaugh saw Riggs with his gun drawn in the police station and assumed that he was a threat. After Riggs planted Murtaugh on his back, he uttered the line that became his catchphrase, not only in this film, but also in the three Lethal Weapon sequels that followed.

2. Aliens (1986)

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Aliens.
20th Century Studios

Famous line: “Get away from her, you bitch!”

Who said it: Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley.

By the time Aliens was almost over, Ellen Ripley (Weaver) regarded Rebecca “Newt” Jorden (Carrie Henn) as her surrogate daughter, and she risked her own life to rescue Newt from the Xenomorph queen. When the queen came calling for her revenge and had Newt cornered below the floor, Ripley emerged in a cargo loader exosuit before she uttered some of the most famous words in cinema history. The Alien franchise has yet to recapture the pure excitement of that moment, or Ripley’s subsequent brawl with the queen.

1. Dirty Harry (1971)

Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Famous line: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

Who said it: Clint Eastwood’s Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan.

It’s been over five decades since Dirty Harry was released, and this line is still widely quoted. But with the passage of time, fans may have forgotten that it occurred early in the movie, just after Dirty Harry foiled a bank robbery.

The lone surviving suspect was in arm’s reach of a shotgun, but Harry bluffed his way out of trouble by letting the man believe that he still had one more bullet in the chamber. This moment helped forge Dirty Harry’s legend, and Eastwood reprised his role in the four sequels that followed.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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