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  • Writer's pictureHunter Howe Cates

Ranking Arnold Schwarzenegger's Most Famous Movie One-Liners


Originally published on Looper.com, March 22, 2022




Most screenwriters dream of one day winning an Academy Award. We would much rather pen an unforgettable Arnold one-liner.




An Arnold Schwarzenegger one-liner is a dad joke delivered with a dash of death and destruction, a pun served up with pain and punishment, a Laffy Taffy-worthy wisecrack laced with cheesy machismo. Maybe it's his thick Austrian accent, his wooden deadpan delivery, or the groan-inducing corny greatness.




Okay, let's be honest — it's all of the above and so much more than measly mere words can convey. Say what you will about Arnie's acting talent (just not to him, we don't want you to get terminated), but no other actor drops a one-liner like the Governator.




An Arnold Schwarzenegger one-liner is a dad joke delivered with a dash of death and destruction, a pun served up with pain and punishment, a Laffy Taffy-worthy wisecrack laced with cheesy machismo.



Sure, Al Pacino hamming up "you are terminated!" would be awesome in its own way, but it just wouldn't be the same as when Schwarzenegger says it ... or should we say "slays" it. To be honest, this list could have been 75 one-liners long, so we only included the best quote from each respective movie we chose, with honorable mention going to, well, lots of movies.




Yes, narrowing it down was tough — like picking your favorite child, only much harder — but not nearly as tough as single-handedly mowing down the army of an exiled South American dictator or going toe-to-toe with a 10-foot-tall alien monster with mandibles. But Arnold did those things. For us. This list is for him. Get to the chopper (or more accurately, your couch) as we rank Arnold Schwarzenegger's most famous movie one-liners! (Warning — there are spoilers below.)




12. "You've just been erased."




The best movie quotes emerge organically from the storyline. Then there are the movies that pretty much start with the quote and the screenwriters build a plot around it. We suspect that's the case with "Eraser." Some dude probably thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if Arnold Schwarzenegger said, 'You've just been erased'?" Well, they were right. It is cool, even if the movie leaves much to be desired.




"Eraser" is either the end of Schwarzenegger's early '80s to mid-'90s hot streak or the beginning of his cold streak. Here, the star is pretty much playing a self-parody of himself (as opposed to a fictional version of himself a few years earlier in "Last Action Hero") as U.S. Marshal John "The Eraser" Kruger, whose job is to ... wait for it ... erase people. "Eraser" wasn't a bomb, as history incorrectly remembers it, since the movie managed $234 million on a $100 million budget.




However, the reviews tell the story. The low critics score was nothing new for Schwarzenegger (what do critics know anyway?), but the low audience score signaled audiences were losing interest in his schtick. While Schwarzenegger will never be erased, "Eraser" showed his star power was on the wane, awesome one-liner or not.




11. "No sequel for you."




By the early 1990s, Arnold Schwarzenegger had played a barbarian king in a fantasy land, a killer robot from the future, and most fascinatingly of all, a kindergarten teacher. The one thing he hadn't played? Himself. That all changed with 1993's "Last Action Hero" (okay, technically he played himself in "Dave," but that was a cameo). "Last Action Hero" is a meta action movie in which a pre-teen Arnold fan is transported into the universe of his favorite Schwarzenegger character, LAPD detective Jack Slater. Here's the kicker: Slater doesn't realize he's not a real person but a character in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (and isn't a big fan of the guy when they meet in real life).




It's a clever concept and should have been a big hit. It wasn't. Slater was slaughtered at the box office, with $137 million on a $85 million budget. You can blame it opening just one week after "Jurassic Park" and the fact critics and moviegoers just didn't like it. However, it's impossible not to like the movie's awesome Arnold one-liner, "No sequel for you," delivered just before Slater shoots the bad guy in his grenade glass eye, blowing him to smithereens. Runner-up line? Schwarzenegger, playing Hamlet, saying, "Hey Claudius! You killed my father! Big mistake!"




10. "Consider that a divorce."




Arnold Schwarzenegger, Paul Verhoeven, and Philip K. Dick may sound like strange bedfellows, but hey, that's the early '90s for you. In 1990, Schwarzenegger was just coming off a string of quintessential '80s action classics, including "The Terminator," "Commando," and "Predator." As for Verhoeven, the Dutch director of decadent destruction just had a big hit with "RoboCop." Meanwhile, Dick was just coming off ... well, nothing, because he died in 1982. But "Blade Runner" — which was based on his short story "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sleep?" — had come out in 1982 ... and bombed. But it was well-regarded, and so Dick's work was still ripe for a live-action adaption.




Enter "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," Dick's 1966 short story about a man with a mysterious Martian past who's given false memories as part of a coverup. Take that scenario, add some Arnold action and Verhoeven vavoom, and you get "Total Recall." We can say confidently Dick didn't write Schwarzenegger's signature one-liner in the film — "Consider that a divorce" — which the star delivers after dealing the death blow to his villainous fake-wife, played by Sharon Stone, with a ZMG to the head. Sublime Schwarzenegger snark to be sure. But the most famous line from "Total Recall" isn't Arnold's. Instead, it's the "start the reactor" bit delivered by the monster that lives in Marshall Bell's stomach. Okay, then.




9. "Here's your Subzero ..."




"The Running Man" is a 1987 dystopian sci-fi action movie based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Stephen King, er, Richard Bachman (his pseudonym). Which got us thinking ... wouldn't it be awesome if more Stephen King movies starred Arnold Schwarzenegger? (Arnold vs. Pennywise? Yes, please.) Anyway, we digress. "The Running Man" finds Schwarzenegger actually being the Fighting Man (he doesn't run) in a futuristic game show — set in 2019 ... ugh — in which elaborate characters kill each other for the amusement of millions watching at home. So basically like watching cable news?




Anyway, with a lineup straight out of pro wrestling (literally), featuring names like Fireball (Jim Brown) and Captain Freedom (Jesse Ventura), you just know Arnie's gonna drop some great one-liners. "That hit the spot" (after launching a rocket sled into the bad guy). "He had to split" (after killing a bad guy named Buzzsaw). "I don't do requests" (after being told to "drop dead"). However, we have to go with this "cool" number after killing Subzero, a murderous hockey player: "Here's your Subzero. Now plain zero." What gives this one-liner the edge isn't just the, ahem, "quality" of the writing but Arnold's delivery. It's said not with a smug, knowing smirk but as if he's reciting "Macbeth." Schwarzenegger should be in more Stephen King movies, we'll just leave it at that.




8. "Freeze in hell, Batman!"




"Batman & Robin" is arguably the most reviled and controversial piece of Batman media of all time. The movie killed the franchise for nearly a decade with its neon-glowing, Bat-nippled weirdness, but the greatest part of the film (yes, we said "greatest") was Arnold Schwarzenegger smoking the scenery like a stogie. It's not "good" in the literal sense, but you can tell he's actually having fun, which helps sell the multi-colored madness that director Joel Schumacher subjected the audience to.




"Batman & Robin" killed the franchise for nearly a decade with its neon-glowing, Bat-nippled weirdness, but the greatest part of the film (yes, we said "greatest") was Arnold Schwarzenegger smoking the scenery like a stogie.



Of course, it's hard not to have fun when you're dropping cold-related puns like "very nice," "allow me to break the ice," "cool party" ... we could go on ... and on. However, the best isn't really a pun, just a imperative statement: "Freeze in hell, Batman!" What does that even mean? We're not 100% sure, but we're 110% there for it. It's appropriate that Schwarzenegger is the most memorable part of the movie (aside from the aforementioned Bat-nipples) as he was paid $25 million for his "performance," one-fifth of the film's budget. Alas, it didn't pan out, as "Batman & Robin" made a less-than-cool $238 million worldwide, sending the once record-breaking series straight to the ... wait for it ... freezer!




7. "Milk is for babies."




Most of the one-liners on this list are from Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a character (or a fictionalized version of himself in "Last Action Hero"). But this line is actually from Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, showing his big-screen persona isn't that far from the real thing. You might have already guessed, but the line comes from the 1977 documentary "Pumping Iron," about the world of professional bodybuilding, specifically the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe and 1975 Mr. Olympia competitions.




As you probably know, unless you've been living under a barbell, Schwarzenegger was a world-famous weightlifter and bodybuilder before he became a movie star. In fact, he was the Michael Jordan of bodybuilding, though since he came first, technically Michael Jordan is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of basketball. Anyway, when Schwarzenegger is asked about his diet, he informs the documentary crew that he doesn't drink milk. The reason? "Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer." Well said. We're sure nutritionists and dieticians would disagree, to which we'd say, "Where are your 14 world weightlifting titles?"




We're sure nutritionists and dieticians would disagree with 'milk is for babies,' to which we'd say: "Where are your 14 world weightlifting titles?"



6. "I eat Green Berets for breakfast."




"Commando" may not be the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, but it is definitely the most quintessential. No killer robots from the future, evil aliens from space, or even the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder to do battle with here. No, just the personal battalion of a South American dictator who had the audacity to kidnap Arnold's daughter. What was he thinking? Yep, all Schwarzenegger wanted to do was raise his kid and carry trees over his shoulder with one arm in peace. Is that so much to ask? Apparently so.




"Commando" sees our hero go on a journey to find his girl, mowing down bad guys along the way, sort of like "Taken" released 23 years later — only if Liam Neeson were Austrian instead of Irish and, well, absolutely jacked. The movie is a veritable buffet of great bad guy-killing one-liners, which is understandable, as it came out in 1985, when Arnie's screen persona had been firmly established. However, the line that speaks to us comes just before he takes out Bill Duke, informing him, "I eat Green Berets for breakfast." It's a great line in the movie and in the larger context, as it was clearly Schwarzenegger shooting shade at his offscreen rival, Sylvester Stallone, specifically his second most famous character, John Rambo. Who would win that fight? The audience.




5. "You're fired."




Scorsese and De Niro. Kurosawa and Mifune. Cameron and Schwarzenegger. Okay, so maybe the latter isn't among the greatest director-actor pairings, but it's definitely the most entertaining. After all, Cameron's passion for bombast met its muse in Schwarzenegger. "True Lies" was their latest, though hopefully not last, big-screen collaboration — a remake of a quirky French comedy that in Cameron and Schwarzenegger's hands turned into a massive blockbuster. In fact, it's the first film to have a budget of $100 million.




In the film, Schwarzenegger plays Harold Tasker, a mild-mannered suburban father whose wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) doesn't realize he's actually a super spy who could break James Bond in half. Nobody got Arnold better than Cameron, which is why he wrote three of the star's greatest lines, including this one. While Arnold expertly pilots a Harrier pilot jet, he tilts the plane so the bad guy will fall and get tangled up on a missile. Here, the action hero looks at the villain and smugly says, "You're fired." Then he clicks the missile launcher and shoots him into a helicopter holding the rest of the bad guys. Tell us, when did Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro ever do that?




4. "To crush your enemies ..."




Arnold Schwarzenegger's dreams of big-screen stardom looked in doubt in the early 1980s, mostly because nobody knew what to do with him. A 6'2" hulking monster with an accent so thick he needed subtitles? Let's just say there wasn't a template for this guy. Especially in the 1970s, where the "New Hollywood" stars of the era were Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert De Niro — magnificent actors to be sure but smaller than Arnold's morning meal. Well, America finally caught up with Schwarzenegger in the early 1980s, thanks to a cigar-chomping, gun-toting, maverick movie maker every bit as macho as Arnold: John Milius.




Arnold Schwarzenegger's dreams of big-screen stardom looked in doubt in the early 1980s. Let's just say there wasn't a template for this guy where the "New Hollywood" stars of the era were Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert De Niro — magnificent actors to be sure but smaller than Arnold's morning meal.



Milius was making a movie based on Robert E. Howard's famous character from his 1930s pulp novels, Conan the Barbarian. This was a sword-and-sorcery epic that demanded a big-screen adaptation that looked like a living Frank Frazetta painting. Dustin Hoffman wasn't going to cut it. Only one man could: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thanks to a greater command of English than his previous films, accompanied by his signature Austrian brogue, nobody but Schwarzenegger could have delivered the movie's signature line. When asked what is best in life, Conan gives a barbarian manifesto of sorts, saying, "To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentation of their women." And just like that, the bodybuilder became a movie star.




3. "If it bleeds, we can kill it."




Schwarzenegger's decade of dominance as the world's biggest movie star (literally) had left moviegoers wondering, who on Earth can beat Schwarzenegger. Nobody, turns out. So his next opponent came from the deep reaches of space. Arnold's foe in 1987's "Predator" was an extraterrestrial hunter as tall as a basketball player, as big as a bodybuilder, as mean as a chihuahua, with a mandibled maw that made him "one ugly mother ..." you know the rest. "Predator" worked so well because it pitted Schwarzenegger against the one thing that could beat him — a monster.




Why the filmmakers didn't name the movie "Arnold v. Alien Monster" is anyone's guess, but that's exactly what audiences wanted and precisely what they got. They also got one of the movie star's greatest quotes, besides the aforementioned "one ugly *beep*" line, which we can't quote here. After the creature has killed off their fellow commandos, Schwarzenegger's jungle team is concerned the invisible monster is unbeatable. But Schwarzenegger, noting the creature's glowing green blood, says, "If it bleeds, we can kill it." Great line. Note: "Get to the chopper" (pronounced "choppa") is perfectly acceptable alternate choice.




2. "Hasta la vista, baby."




Seven years after James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger first worked together on "The Terminator" -– making each other cinematic superstars in the process –- the duo came back with co-star Linda Hamilton to work on the highly anticipated sequel, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." While Arnold's T-800 was the villain in the 1984 original, Cameron realized bringing Arnold back as the bad guy just wouldn't work after the star had spent nearly a decade as a superhero. Besides, we'd already seen that, so switching up the face/heel alignments also gave Cameron the opportunity for more compelling storytelling. And let's be honest, it also let him serve up some spectacular Schwarzenegger one-liners.




The most famous of these comes when Edward Furlong — playing humanity's savior, John Connor, when he was just a whiny pre-teen — is teaching Schwarzenegger's T-800 slang. The line should be familiar: "Hasta la vista, baby." English translation: "Bye." Of course, the line notably reappears near the end of the film, when the T-800 drops the quote right before blasting the villainous T-1000 to smithereens. And just like that, L.A.'s skater stoner culture went mainstream. It's a line that transcended the movie, becoming every bit a time capsule of early '90s culture as Bart Simpson's "don't have a cow, man" or Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy."




'Hasta la vista, baby' transcended the movie, becoming every bit a time capsule of early '90s culture as Bart Simpson's "don't have a cow, man" or Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy."



1. "I'll be back."




Come on, did you really have to guess what Arnold Schwarzenegger's greatest one-liner would? On a list of winners, "I'll be back" is the #1 one-liner by a country mile. Schwarzenegger's deadpan delivery of "I'll be back," delivered just before driving a stolen cop car through a police station, helped make "The Terminator" a sleeper hit, the T-800 Schwarzenegger's signature character, and the Austrian Oak not just a movie star but a superstar. The line also landed in the top 50 on "American Film Institute's 100 Years ... 100 Movie Quotes," at #37 between the "stinking badges" bit from "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "the luckiest man on Earth" speech from "The Pride of the Yankees." Frankly, my dear, we would have put it in the top 10.




Ironically, Schwarzenegger didn't want to say the line as written. In a 2015 interview on "The Howard Stern Show," the actor revealed that he thought the line should be "I will be back," sensibly arguing that the android assassin with an Austrian accent wouldn't use American abbreviation. Thankfully, the mercurial James Cameron overruled him (with a profanity laced tirade, no less) with a one-liner that turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into an American icon.




Read More: https://www.looper.com/806949/ranking-arnold-schwarzeneggers-most-famous-movie-one-liners/?utm_campaign=clip



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