50 great famous last words from the movies

Odd List Ryan Lambie 4 Oct 2013 - 06:41

They're funny, they're sad, they're weird. Here are 50 famous last words from characters in the movies...

PLEASE NOTE: There are potential spoilers ahead. Check the name of the film, and if you haven't seen it, don't read the entry!

As someone famous probably once said, “We’ve all gotta go sometime,” and if we’re going to die, we might as well do so with a witticism or a memorable line rather than a scream and a cry for mother. Which is the subject of this lengthy but far from definitive list: the memorable things movie characters have uttered shortly (not necessarily immediately) before they’re about to meet their maker.

Some of these last words are long, tear-jerking monologues. Others amount to little more than a word or two. But all of them, in our estimation, are worthy of mention, and one or two we'd even like to set aside for ourselves should we have the chance to say something before we shuffle off this mortal coil.

You’re sure to have your own last words to add, so by all means give us your favourites below.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

"Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two..."

It's a testament to the quality of the writing and design in 2001: A Space Odyssey that the artificially-intelligent computer HAL stands as the film's most memorable character. By turns dryly witty, eerie and then plain sociopathic, it's during his final moments - as space traveller Dave Bowman gradually unplugs the bits of hardware that keep his mind ticking over - that we realise just how human he is. His final, woozy recital of Daisy Bell is an unforgettably poignant moment - almost as much as the time my ZX Spectrum 48K+ died after I accidentally poured cola all over it in 1989.

The Terminator (1984)

"Don't make me bust you up, man"

When it came to The Terminator, we were torn between two great utterences from otherwise minor characters.  Our first thought was to include Bill Paxton's short-lived punk, whose sign off is the fateful line, "Wash day tomorrow - nothing clean, right", before he's killed by a profoundly naked Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, we've plumped for this one, which comes from Matt Buchanan. The boyfriend of Sarah Connor's flatmate Ginger, he launches himself into a brave yet quite stupid hand-to-hand fight with the Terminator. The cyborg's seemingly unstoppable strength makes Matt's line both blackly comic and faintly sad - like watching a squirrel wrestle with a mechanical digger.

Blade Runner (1982)

"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 Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

The most moving send-off in sci-fi history? Quite possibly. Poetic dialogue is given an added layer of brilliance thanks to Rutger Hauer's imposing yet humane performance as replicant Roy Batty, a character looking for an extension on his brief life, and then facing up to his inevitable end with dignity. Hauer added that final "tears in rain" line himself, and it's truly a magical one.

Carlito's Way (1992)

"Gettin’ the shakes now. Last call for drinks. Bar’s closin’ down. Sun’s out. Where we goin’ for breakfast? Don’t wanna go far... Rough night. Tired, baby... Tired..."

No matter how many times we see Brian De Palma's sublime crime drama Carlito's Way, the conclusion always has us weeping softly into our hats. Even though we see Al Pacino's ex-convict Carlito Brigante shot in the very opening scene - with the rest of the movie essentially an extended flashback - we still hope that, somehow, Carlito will finally manage to get on the train and escape his fate this time. But no - the gun goes off, Carlito falls to the ground, and in Pacino's trademark husky voice, delivers a moving final monologue.

Commando (1985)

"I'm not going to shoot you between the eyes, John, I'm going to shoot you between the balls!"

You'd think that even a man of Bennett's size - as played by the great Vernon Wells - would know better than to storm ex-commando John Matrix's house and kidnap his daughter. But even after Arnold Schwarzenegger's Matrix has rained down righteous fury (not to mention bullets) on Bennett's comrades, he remains unrepentant right until his dying breath. That wonderfully naff line above, delivered just before Bennett's impaled by a pipe thrown by Matrix, soon proves to be his chortle-inducing epitaph.

Die Hard (1988)

"Next time you have a chance to kill someone, don't hesitate."

This is one of those lines that's often blurted out by a henchman just before they're sent to bad guy heaven, which is exactly what happens in the sublime Die Hard. The henchman who says it is Marco (Lorenzo Caccialanza), one of Hans Gruber's crew who try and fail to gun down Bruce Willis's infinitely resourceful John McClane, who at this point is cowering for cover beneath a table. Marco's words have barely left his mouth before McClane's fired back with both bullets and the rejoinder, "Thanks for the advice..."

Dr Strangelove (1964)

"Mein Führer, I can walk!"

Stanley Kubrick's pitch-black Cold War satire was originally going to end with a huge food fight in the war room, but instead it ended with the slightly alarming image of Peter Sellers' demented scientist Dr Strangelove spontaneously springing to his feet and shouting the line above, just as a volley of nuclear explosions signal the end of the world. Strictly speaking, these aren't 'famous last words' in the truest sense, since we don't actually see Dr Strangelove die - but since they effectively serve as an epitaph for the human race, they deserve a mention here in any case. Like so much of the quotable lines in Kubrick's movie, the humour they provide merely make the images that follow all the more chilling.

Donnie Darko (2001)

"I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief because there will be so much to look forward to."

A strange and unique film from director Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko featured a great performance from Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role - a troubled teenager whose fevered visions may or may not anticipate the end of the world. A film packed full of humour, dreamlike imagery and moments of genuine menace and forboding, it ends on a quietly poignant moment, with Michael Andrews and Gary Jules' cover of Mad World providing the melancholy backdrop to a town full of people just waking up from an apocalyptic nightmare.

T2 (1991)

"I know now why you cry. But it's something I can never do. Goodbye."

In T2, Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg returns not as a hunter-killer, but as a protector for the young John Connor. And as the film progresses, Arnie's T-800 begins to learn more and more about human beings, until he's ready to sacrifice himself to protect humanity by the firey conclusion. The result? A dignified, memorable exit for one of the most gigantic cyborgs in science fiction. You might not be able to cry, Arnie, but we sure can. Sob.

Alien (1979)

"I can't lie to you about your chances... but, you have my sympathies."

Unmasked as both a corporate spy and a robot in the final act of Alien, science officer Ash (Ian Holm) spends his final moments talking about what a deadly, almost perfect specimen the xenomorph is. An angry Ripley unplugs him, but not before he smugly says the line above, before expiring with a smile on his face that not even a blast from a flamethrower can shift.

Children Of Men (2006)

"Pull my finger."

The hippy friend of Clive Owen's Theo Faron, Jasper (Michael Caine), offers some rare glimmers of humour in director Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi. Set in a future where humanity faces extinction through infertility, Children Of Men sees Faron attempt to protect a pregnant woman who could provide the key to saving the human race. Unfortunately, poor hippie friend Jasper is but one of the innocent victims killed by the militant group Fishes, who want the pregnant woman for their own political ends.

Jasper's response to his imminent death? Simply smile and make a fart joke. We'd like to think we'd do the same in Jasper's situation, but we probably wouldn't follow through.

Pitch Black (2000)

"I was supposed to die in France. I never even saw France"

Not a film necessarily prized for its razor-sharp script,this scifi monster movie from director David Twohy was nevertheless full of character and action, and was one of the hits which helped make Vin Diesel a star. He was ably backed up by a great supporting cast, including Lewis Fitz-Gerald as the effete, posh antiques dealer Paris P Ogilvie. That wistful line above is delivered seconds before he's torn apart by the film's nocturnal, bat-like aliens.

The Fly (1986)

"We'll be the ultimate family. A family of three, joined together in one body... more human than I am alone."

David Cronenberg's brilliant reworking of the 1958 film is many things at once: an existential parable about the tragedy of ageing, an intimate romance, a sci-fi story about a scientist falling foul of his own invention, and a truly grotesque body horror. Having had his DNA spliced with that of a house fly after a drunken voyage through his new-fangled matter transporter, scientist Seth Brundle (a perfectly-cast Jeff Goldblum) finds his body gradually mutating as the insect genes gradually take over.

Those famous last words above come before Brundle undergoes a final, tragic change, where he's finally more monster than man. As he says to his weeping lover Veronica (Geena Davis) “I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake..."

Sublime words from a truly sublime film.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

"What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn't mommy and daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?"

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R Lee Ermey) is one of war cinema's greatest and most terrible characters. A merciless task master who degrades, cajoles and brow-beats his soldiers-in-training into shape, he finally meets his end after pushing poor Private Pyle (Vincent D'Onofrio) just a little too far. Appropriately, Hartmann is defiant to the last, and practically screams that final question down the barrel of Pyle's gun, before the trigger's pulled, and the sarge's bullying motor mouth is finally silenced for good.

Godzilla (1954)

"Ogata, it worked! Both of you, be happy. Goodbye... farewell."

As we’ve mentioned before on this hallowed site, Ishiro Honda’s original Godzilla isn’t just another monster movie - it’s also a poetic and genuinely moving document of a country still reeling from the aftershock of war. Godzilla himself becomes a walking metaphor for the destructive power of the H-bomb - his skin is even modelled after the scar tissue of radiation burns rather than lizard’s skin as you might expect.

Dr Daisuke Serizawa is the doomed hero, who sacrifices himself in the process of destroying the giant kaiju. Leaving behind his estranged girlfriend and her new lover, he's killed by his own deadly weapon - something called an Oxygen Destroyer - and sends his final words from the ocean floor, where he and the colossal monster breathe their last.

For anyone who associates the Godzilla movies with rubbery monster suits and exploding model cities, it's a heartrending conclusion.

Aliens (1986)

"You always were an asshole, Gorman."

Vasquez, played by Jeanette Goldstein, was one of several unforgettable supporting players in James Cameron's Aliens, and the film's a masterclass in how to relate a fairly large number of characters, and make each of them distinct and memorable. Vasquez is the tough Colonial Marine, who meets her end in the ducts of Hadley's Hope, with her gunfire keeping the xenomorphs at bay while the rest of the survivors try to escape.

Her final line to Gorman, a fellow marine who holds a grenade which will mercifully snuff out their lives before the aliens get to them, is as unsentimental as you'd expect from a battle-hardened warrior.

Heathers (1988)

"Corn nuts!"

One of the best and most blackly comic high school dramas of the 80s, Heathers is full of quotable dialogue and great performances from Christian Slater and Winona Ryder. Slater plays a murderous outsider, while Ryder is a student who's grown weary of trying to fit in with her clique of superficial friends - among them the wealthy, catty Heather Chandler (Kim Walker).

One of the earliest victims in a film full of murder and foul play, Heather is quickly done in with a cup full of drain cleaner, her surreal last words a random reference back to a previous scene where Ryder's character goes shopping for snacks. Like the film as a whole, Heather's demise is a grimly amusing moment.

Hudson Hawk (1991)

"This is what I get for darting a nun?"

A strange, slightly delirious action comedy, Hudson Hawk may have been a bit of a box office disaster, but it justifiably has its champions, and is often lauded on this site. This final line is uttered by CIA agent Almond Joy (Lorraine Toussaint), whose death comes as she's paralysed by a dart from her own blow-gun. Seconds later, a bomb detonates, taking out both Almond and her partner, Snickers. Why were so many of the film's characters named after chocolate bars? We've no idea. Maybe the screenwriter had the munchies or something.

The King Of New York (1990)

"I don't need forever."

Christopher Walken g gets almost all the best lines in this fantastic crime drama from director Abel Ferrara. As the smooth-talking Frank White, Walken slaughters his rivals among New York's criminal fraternity, with the bizarre intention of spending the money he earns on building a hospital for the poor. Unfortunately for White, the police are gradually closing in, with a group of disgruntled detectives determined to bring his empire down.

Attempting to escape capture via the subway, White is shot by detective Bishop (Victor Argo) shortly after uttering the line above, and hauls himself into a New York taxi before expiring with his gun still in his hand. It's a quiet end for a gangster with big ideas.

Alien 3 (1992)

"Stop this raving at once! Aaron, get that foolish woman back to the infirmary!"

Poor old Superintendent Harold Matthews (Brian Glover). All he wanted was a quiet life, with his all-male prison colony kept nicely in order and perhaps the occasional cup of Tetley tea now and again. Instead, a space ship carrying Lieutenant Ripley crash lands, carrying with it another, far nastier stowaway. Refusing to believe that a xenomorph really is stalking the facility's corridors, Matthews is still full of doubt right up until his dying moments - at which point the alien's already reached down, grabbed him by his head and dragged him off to his doom in a ventilation shaft, probably to eat him like a boiled egg.

Jurassic Park (1993)

"Clever girl..."

Some of the best last words are short and to the point - and when you’re being hunted through lush undergrowth by smart, uncannily quick velociraptors, you’re hardly going to have much time to utter more than a word or two. This is what hunting expert Robert Muldoon finds out in Jurassic Park, where these man-eating dinosaurs prove to be more than a match for his gun and more evolved brain.

It’s a classic line from a classic film - though we have to admit that, if we were in Muldoon’s position, we’d probably scream something far too explicit for a PG film.

The Last Man On Earth (1964)

"They were afraid... they were afraid of me..."

It’s not a definitive adaptation of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, but this Italian-shot version from 1964 is an effective horror film in any case. Vincent Price plays Robert Morgan, the last human survivor in a world taken over by a plague of vampires. A scientist labouring away in his fortified house for a cure to the plague, he realises, shortly before his dying breath, that he was regarded as much of a threat to the vampires as they were to him.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

"Say 'auf wiedersehen' to your Nazi balls."

Uttered by Sergeant Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) towards the end of this brilliantly tense scene, in which a Nazi major rumbles a group of British troops (among them Michael Fassbender's posh Lieutenant Archie Hicox) in a German tavern. Stiglitz, surely knowing that he's doomed - surrounded as he is by Nazi soldiers - faces his end with courage, and just has time to throw out this great one-liner before the room erupts in a blaze of gunfire.

The Wicker Man (1973)

"Let me not undergo the real pains of Hell, dear God, because I die unshriven... and establish me... in that bliss... which knows no ending... through Christ... our Lord."

Edward Woodward is fantastic in this utterly haunting, one-of-a-kind British film, which is as funny as it is brutally horrific. Woodward plays Sergeant Howie, a staunchly Christian cop attempting to track down a missing girl on an island of pagans, and led a merry dance by the community. Realising too late that he's about to be the centrepiece for a flaming sacrifice, he faces his death at first with terror, and then, admirably, pious acceptance.

The Wicker Man (2006)

"No, not the bees! NOT THE BEES! AAAAAAAAGH! THEY'RE IN MY EYES! MY EYES! AAAAAAAAAAGH!"

Time for a case of compare-and-contrast: the disturbing, spectacular ending of the 1973 Wicker Man, and its 2006 sequel. Nic Cage takes over from Edward Woodward, this time playing a cop named Edward Malus, who comes to a sticky end in a matriarchal society set on sacrificing him to improve their production of honey.

Malus, unlike Howie, decides to go out screaming and describing his ordeal in detail. It's fair to say that his last words aren't the most poetic on this list, but they are quite amusing. Plus he has time to gasp, "Killing me won't bring back your goddamn honey!"

Malus' reaction to his death might be less stoic than Howie's but it's probably how most of us would react. Either that or I'd try to swallow all the bees really quickly before they stung me too badly.

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