Movies have the power to move audiences in hundreds of different ways. When a character meets their end, more often than not, they are given powerful final words. Sometimes the words are amusing-sometimes sad- but too many to count are quotable and have joined the pop culture lexicon. This leads to what I believe is the top ten best last words for characters in movies.
10. “Abracadabra.” – The Prestige
Turn of the century magician, Alfred Borden is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Through the twists and turns of the story we learn of his rivalry with magician Robert Angier and how he came to be on death row. This leads to him being led to the gallows and saying his famous last words before meeting his death.
9. “We… Are…Groot.” – Guardians of the Galaxy
Groot, the tree-man of the space faring group the Guardians of the Galaxy, needs to save the universe from an evil alien creature with destruction on his mind. In an act of bravery he protects the rest of the group from what would otherwise be a fatal explosion. Because his vocabulary is so limited, his words are a testament to how much he regards his new companions.
8. “Is that the best you can do, you pansies?” – Sin City
Said by Marv after being sent to the electric chair. Marv goes on a killing spree to find who killed a woman named Goldie who he is in love with. Marv’s thirst for violence, revenge, and primitive justice gets him the killer at the cost of his own life. It takes a couple of rounds of electricity to bring an almost unstoppable hulk like Marv down.
7. “James, earn this…earn it.” – Saving Private Ryan
World War II and a squad of men are sent to collect Private James Ryan and send him home. Captain Miller and his men need only to collect Private Ryan, however he refuses to leave his comrades defending a bridge. This leads to a violent battle where nearly everyone is killed, including Captain Miller who tells Ryan to “Earn this.” meaning to be a good man. Private Ryan spends the rest of his life doing so to make the sacrifices of the soldiers worthwhile.
6. “Remember what I said about seein’ a light when you die? It ain’t true. I can’t see a damn thing.” – Tombstone
A rival gang of cowboys has shot Morgan Earp. As he lays dying on a pool table he remembers a conversation he had with his brothers about death. He offers his point of view of what it feels like to slip off the mortal coil. This pivotal moment is acted extremely well by Bill Paxton and it brings much of the reckoning on the cowboy’s head’s for their actions.
5. “Why don’t we just…wait here for a little while…see what happens?” – The Thing
After battling a shape-shifting alien in the harsh Antarctic weather, R.J. MacReady is ready to die of exposure. When Childs, another member of the research station shows up unexpectedly, he is unsure if Childs is himself or the monstrous thing as well. Exhausted and letting the cold of Antarctica take him, he has given up the good fight and welcomes whatever may come next.
4. “Clever girl…” – Jurassic Park
Robert Muldoon is hunting the loose velociraptors in Jurassic Park. The dinosaurs show signs of intelligence and he clearly respects their lethal nature as well as their wits. When he thinks he has the drop on one, he aims his gun and is suddenly attacked on the side by a raptor that was using the other to distract him.
3. “Made it, Ma! Top of the World!” – White Heat
Cody Jarrett is a psychopathic criminal with mother issues. After a heist at a chemical plant goes wrong he laughs manically shooting at police and even killing his own surrendering gang members. After shouting his last lines he blows up the chemical tankers he is on creating a massive fireball. Truly an extreme end to an extreme personality.
2. “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is Never get involved in a land war in Asia. But only slightly less well known is this: Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. – The Princess Bride
Vizzini has kidnapped the Princess Buttercup and has begun a battle of wits with a masked stranger who wants to take her from him. They both have a serving of wine with the goal of inevitably figuring out which goblet contains poison. Vizzini is a Sicilian with a silver tongue and will try to get the masked man to give away where the poison is. After much chatter he laughs in the masked man’s face before dying, not realizing that both glasses were poisoned.
1. I’ve… seen things…you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off of Orion. I watched C-Beams…glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost… in time…like tears…in the rain. Time to die.” – Blade Runner
This is possibly the best last line for a movie character ever. Roy Batty is a replicant and has a limited lifespan of four years. He is close to his expiration date and is being hunted by a police officer trained to kill replicants. All he wants is to live longer because he has seen so much and has so much more he wants to see. It is a great line that thematically fits the movie’s theme of the brevity of life.
There are many other lines that should also be considered honorable mentions. For example:
“Mein Führer, I can walk!”– Dr. Strangelove from Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
“I can’t lie to you about your chances… but, you have my sympathies.” – Ash from Alien
“What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn’t mommy and daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?” – Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket
“You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars: A New Hope
Even though these characters may die on-screen, their iconic last lines ensure they won’t soon die out in our memories. With great writing and witty lines that have been added to the pop-culture lexicon, it is certain that we will be quoting these moments for years to come.