November 30, 2023

20 Best Quotes From 1980s Movies

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Summary

  • The 1980s produced memorable movie quotes that have endured for over 40 years, showcasing the decade’s lasting influence on media.
  • Memorable lines from popular movies like Say Anything, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Dirty Dancing have become cultural catchphrases.
  • These iconic quotes reflect relatable emotions, critique societal norms, and showcase the power of standout writing and delivery.


The 1980s is known for its bold and expressive fashion trends, influential music, and some of the best movie quotes in cinematic history. From “wax on, wax off” to “here’s Johnny,” the ’80s provided a decade’s worth of memorable and iconic movie lines that have endured for over 40 years. The cinematic landscape of the 1980s was filled with blockbuster hits and critically acclaimed films that not only entertained, but also produced some of the most unforgettable phrases in movie history.

The quotable writing, paired with memorable performances from stars like Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, and Jack Nicholson, gave rise to instantly recognizable one-liners and impactful monologues that have stood the test of time. From sci-fi to dramas and comedies to horror, some of the highest grossing movies of the 1980s resulted in an abundance of classic dialogue. The memorable quotes of 1980s movies demonstrate the decade’s lasting influence on the media and the resonant power of standout movie writing and delivery.


20 “She Gave Me A Pen. I Gave Her My Heart, And She Gave Me A Pen.” -Lloyd Dobler

Say Anything (1988)

The 1989 romantic film Say Anything features one of film’s most famous scenes, where Lloyd Dobler, played by John Cusack, stands outside Diane Court’s bedroom window holding a boombox playing their song, “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. Despite this romantic gesture, Diane ends their relationship and leaves to study in Europe. The quote reflects Lloyd’s sadness over being rejected, which is not only relatable but palpable.

19 “I’m Not Bad, I’m Just Drawn That Way.” -Jessica Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Release Date
June 22, 1988

Director
Robert Zemeckis

Cast
Amy Irving, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer, Bob Hoskins, Kathleen Turner

Rating
PG

The innovative 1988 Robert Zemeckis movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit features Jessica Rabbit, Roger Rabbit’s animated femme fatale wife. Jessica utters this now-famous line in response to accusations of devious tendencies. As a hyper-sexualized cartoon character, her provocative appearance fuels assumptions about her morality. Jessica Rabbit’s quote critiques the objectification of women in animation, as well as in live-action movies, and transcends her “drawn” role to show her true personality.

18 “Hello. My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare To Die!” -Inigo Montoya

The Princess Bride (1987)

Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

Release Date
October 9, 1987

Director
Rob Reiner

Cast
Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest

Rating
PG

This famous and unforgettable line is delivered by the determined swordsman Inigo Montoya, played by Mandy Patinkin. This memorable quote represents Inigo’s quest for vengeance against Count Rugen, who murdered his father. The film, a beloved fairytale adventure, has gained significant popularity for its witty dialogue, charming characters, and timeless storytelling. Inigo’s declaration has become an iconic moment, celebrated for its emotional weight and the character’s pursuit of justice.

Related: Every Time Inigo Montoya Says Prepare To Die In The Princess Bride

17 “Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner.” -Johnny Castle

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Dirty Dancing

Release Date
August 21, 1987

Director
Emile Ardolino

Cast
Cynthia Rhodes, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach, Patrick swayze, Jane Brucker

Rating
PG-13

In the climactic ending of Dirty Dancing, Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze, utters this iconic line, moments before the famous final dance performance. He does so in an attempt to defend Frances “Baby” Houseman, portrayed by Jennifer Grey. Johnny’s declaration serves as both a literal and metaphorical expression of support and defiance against the judgmental attitudes of others. This quote has transcended its cinematic origins to become a cultural catchphrase.

16 “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.” -Veronica Quaife

The Fly (1987)

Geena Davis as Veronica in The Fly

The Fly

Release Date
August 15, 1986

Director
David Cronenberg

Cast
Jeff Goldblum, John Getz, Geena Davis

Rating
R

The Fly follows scientist Seth Brundle, whose teleportation experiment goes awry, transforming him into a monstrous human-fly hybrid. The quote “Be afraid, be very afraid” is said by Geena Davis’ character, Veronica, as she begins to witness the terrifying physical changes in Seth. This line concisely conveys the horror of Brundle’s transformation and resonates as a cultural reference to imminent and profound danger. This quote is even used as the film’s tagline, showing that this movie is not for the faint of heart.

15 “That’s Why They Call Them Crushes. If They Were Easy, They’d Call ‘Em Something Else.” -Jim Baker

Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sam talking to her father in Sixteen Candles

Sixteen Candles

Release Date
May 4, 1984

Director
John Hughes

Cast
Molly Ringwald, Gedde Watanabe, Anthony Michael Hall, Haviland Morris, Michael Schoeffling

Rating
PG

Sixteen Candles is a classic 1980s teen romance that details the trials and tribulations of young love. In a memorable scene, Molly Ringwald’s character, Samantha, is having a heart-to-heart with her father. Jim (Paul Dooley). As she confides in him about her heartache, he reminds her that sometimes the road to love is rocky — and that a happy ending doesn’t come easily. This refreshing moment highlights the idea that parents, especially in matters of the heart, can be invaluable sources of wisdom.

14 “Say Hello To My Little Friend.” -Tony Montana

Scarface (1983)

Tony Montana shooting in a gun in Scarface

Scarface

Release Date
December 9, 1983

Director
Antoine Fuqua

Cast
Diego Luna

Rating
R

Scarface’s Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, is one of the most iconic yet ruthless anti-heroes from 1980s cinema. In addition to this, he delivers one of the best and most-quoted lines in the film. The film follows Tony’s rise from a Cuban immigrant to a powerful drug lord in Miami, who got there by way of violence and excess. This quote is delivered during a climactic and intense scene where Tony confronts his enemies with a grenade launcher. This iconic line has permeated popular culture and become synonymous with bravado and confrontation.

13 “Here’s Johnny!” -Jack Torrance

The Shining (1980)

Jack sticking his head through a hole in the door in The Shining

The Shining

Release Date
June 13, 1980

Director
Stanley Kubrick

Cast
Danny Lloyd, Shelley Duvall, Jack Nicholson, Scatman Crothers

Rating
R

In Stanley Kubrick’s chilling 1980 psychological horror masterpiece, The Shining, Jack Torrance and his family find themselves trapped in the haunted Overlook Hotel during a snowstorm. The notorious quote takes center stage during an intense scene where Jack uses an ax to break down a door, shouting the famous catchphrase of talk show host Johnny Carson. This moment solidifies the film’s timeless status as a horror classic, and it creates an atmospheric tension that makes it one of The Shining’s best quotes.

12 “I Am Serious, And Don’t Call Me Shirley.” -Dr. Rumack

Airplane! (1980)

Airplane!

Release Date
July 2, 1980

Director
Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams

Cast
Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Peter Graves, Robert Hays

Rating
PG

In the classic parody film Airplane!, starring Leslie Nielsen, this classic quote becomes one of the most memorable. In the movie’s most famous scene, former pilot Ted Striker discovers that both the pilot and co-pilot of Trans American Flight 209 have succumbed to food poisoning. Dr. Rumack, Nielsen’s character, asks Striker if he can fly the plane and land it. Striker responds, “Surely you can’t be serious,” prompting Rumack to respond with the now famous line, mishearing the word “surely” and believing he was called “Shirley.”

11 “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid.” -Santa Claus

A Christmas Story (1983)

Ralphie and Santa looking at each other in A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

Release Date
November 18, 1983

Director
Bob Clark

Cast
Darren McGavin, Zack Ward, Peter Billingsley, Scott Schwartz, Melinda Dillon

Rating
PG

A Christmas Story is a holiday classic that contains an abundance of classic moments, including this classic quote. In the movie, young Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. However, everytime he brings it up, he is reminded of what might happen if he gets one. Said by numerous characters throughout the film, including his mom, teacher, and a mall Santa Claus, Ralphie’s dreams of receiving this gift is humorously shot down each time. Despite it all, Ralphie eventually gets his Christmas wish. However, everyone’s warning almost comes true, as Ralphie does nearly shoot his eye out.

10 “I Feel The Need. The Need For Speed.” -Maverick

Top Gun (1986)

Maverick with other pilots sittng behind him Top Gun

Top Gun

Release Date
May 16, 1986

Director
Tony Scott

Cast
Val Kilmer, Tom Skerritt, Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Kelly McGillis

Rating
PG

To this day, whenever any sort of speed or adrenaline is involved, this iconic quote spoken by Peter “Maverick” Mitchell, played by Tom Cruise. The desire Maverick has to go fast is felt in this simple but impactful statement, adding to the intense action that is present throughout the film. Though the context has changed over time, the meaning behind the quote — the urge to push limits and fly as fast as possible — continues to resonate.

Related: 7 Harsh Realities Of Rewatching Top Gun, 37 Years Later

9 “Don’t Mess With The Bull, Young Man. You’ll Get The Horns.” -Richard Vernon

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Vernon making horns with his hand in The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club

Release Date
February 15, 1985

Director
John Hughes

Cast
Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez

Rating
R

The Breakfast Club follows a group of students forced to spend a Saturday in detention together. When rebel John Bender goes toe to toe with assistant principal Richard Vernon, Vernon asserts his authority, warning, “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.” As an authority figure, he expects obedience and seeks to intimidate, establishing a bullying dynamic against the students he supervises. Though Bender refuses to back down, Vernon clings to what little power he has, stubbornly determined, like a bull, to make the students as miserable as possible.

8 “Life Moves Pretty Fast. You Don’t Stop And Look Around Once In A While, You Could Miss It.” -Ferris Bueller

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Matthew Broderick looking into the camera in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Release Date
June 11, 1986

Director
John Hughes

Cast
Jennifer Grey, Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck, Jeffrey Jones

Rating
PG-13

This quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has become the anthem of 1980s teen comedies. Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick, is a charismatic slacker who lives life to the fullest. While everyone around him is preoccupied with following the rules, Ferris spends the movie teaching them to just relax and have fun. This quote is one of the first things Ferris says to the audience while breaking the fourth wall.

7 “Wax On, Wax Off.” -Mr. Miyagi

The Karate Kid (1984)

Mr. Miyagi talking to Daniel in front of a car in The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid

Release Date
June 22, 1984

Director
John G. Avildsen

Cast
Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue, William Zabka, Martin Kove, Yuji Okumoto

Rating
PG

The Karate Kid tells the story of a bullied teenager named Daniel who asks Mr. Miyagi to teach him karate. Miyagi has Daniel perform repetitive tasks like washing and waxing cars in circular motions. When prompted with “wax on, wax off,” Daniel complies despite his frustration. When Miyagi asks Daniel to demonstrate “wax on, wax off,” Daniel is shocked that he can expertly block punches. This quote hones in on Miyagi’s unorthodox teaching methods and turns the quote into an example of “practice makes perfect.”

6 “I’ll Have What She’s Having.” -Lady In Restaurant

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

The female customer talking to the waiter in When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally

Release Date
July 21, 1989

Director
Rob Reiner

Cast
Bruno Kirby, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Steven Ford, Billy Crystal

Rating
R

In 1989, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan starred in the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, a film that explored the question, “Can men and women just be friends?” Over lunch, Sally tells Harry that all women have faked an orgasm at some point. Harry doesn’t believe her, so she demonstrates it, right in the middle of the restaurant. After her performance, the camera cuts to a patron, played by Estelle Reiner, who tells the waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having.” Reiner steals the movie with less than 10 minutes of screen time, and her iconic line has etched itself into pop culture.

5 “No, I Am Your Father.” -Darth Vader

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Luke and Darth Vader in Star Wars

The Empire Strikes Back

Release Date
June 20, 1980

Director
Irvin Kershner

Cast
Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, James Earl Jones, Mark Hamill

Rating
PG

Not only is this one of the 1980s most misquoted lines, but it’s also one of the best. Darth Vader delivers one of the best plot twists in movie history when he drops this bomb on Luke Skywalker at the climax of The Empire Strikes Back. When this line was heard for the first time, it was the ultimate surprise, as everyone thought that Darth Vader was the one who killed Luke’s father. Often misquoted as “Luke, I am your father,” it remains deeply embedded in pop culture iconography, representing the ultimate dramatic reveal. Though wrongly remembered, its true impact as a narrative gut punch lives on.

4 “No Wire Hangers Ever!” -Joan Crawford

Mommie Dearest (1981)

Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford standing in a doorway in Mommie Dearest

Mommie Dearest depicts the tumultuous home life of famed actress Joan Crawford, based on the memoir written by her adopted daughter, Christina. In an infamous scene, Crawford (Faye Dunaway) flies into a rage after discovering wire hangers in her daughter’s closet rather than the padded versions she prefers. Crawford berates her daughter, shouting the now iconic line before proceeding to beat her with one of them. Even out of context, the quote evokes the unrestrained drama that defines Mommie Dearest.

3 “They’re Here!” -Carol Anne Freeling

Poltergeist (1982)

Carole Anne Freeling staring at the TV screen in Poltergeist

In the 1982 horror film Poltergeist, young Carol Anne Freeling says this chilling line after ghosts emerge from the family’s TV set. As the scene becomes more sinister, she announces their menacing presence, setting off the horrifying events that follow. The quote remains one of the most memorable, not only in the film but in the horror genre. Both a warning and a frightful realization, “They’re here!” promises a haunting cinematic experience.

2 “If You Build It, He Will Come.” -Unseen Voice

Field of Dreams (1989)

Kevin Costner as Ray standing in a corn field in Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Release Date
May 5, 1989

Director
Phil Alden Robinson

Cast
Amy Madigan, Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield

Rating
PG

The 1989 fantasy drama Field of Dreams follows Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, as he hears a mysterious voice urging him to construct a baseball diamond in his cornfield with the promise that “if you build it, he will come.” This quote conveys the film’s premise that faith and determination can make the impossible possible. The quote has endured as an inspirational motto, promising that if hard work is put into one’s goals, those efforts will be rewarded.

1 “I’m Too Old For This S**t.” -Detective Roger Murtaugh

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon

Lethal Weapon

Release Date
March 6, 1987

Director
Richard Donner

Cast
Tom Atkins, Mitchell Ryan, Danny Glover, Mel Gibson, Gary Busey

Rating
R

The Lethal Weapon series follows mismatched police partners Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs. As the cautious one, Murtaugh frequently expresses his frustration with dangerous situations by declaring that he is “too old for this s**t”. Its memorability has permeated pop culture and has even become synonymous with Danny Glover, as he has used it in other films like Almost Christmas.

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