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The 40 Most Famous Movie Scenes of All Time

Too bad there's not an Oscar for Best Movie Scene.

Even if you haven't seen every classic film, there are a few famous movie scenes you just intrinsically know. They might be the movie's culmination, like the shower scene in Psycho. Or they might be one of the scenes fans are still repeating word-for-word, such as the "Wingardium Leviosa" lesson in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Not all of these famous movie scenes are necessarily the most important ones to the plot. But they're the ones you've probably heard fans (and probably even non-fans!) quoting long after the films were released. If a good movie sticks with the viewer, then these famous movie scenes must have been pretty powerful. And for amazing flicks to add to your watch-list, check out The 20 Best Feel-Good Movies To Instantly Boost Your Mood.

The shower scene from Psycho

Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960)
IMDB/Shamley Productions

This might be the most recognizable movie scene of all time. As TCM explains, the movie being shot in black-and-white had one major advantage, and that's that Alfred Hitchcock was able to use chocolate syrup as the "blood" in the scene since viewers wouldn't be able to differentiate between red and brown. That likely made filming the scene a bit more pleasant, even if it still shocked audiences for decades after its release. And for more iconic thrillers, check out the 40 Best Horror Movies for Totally Freaking Yourself Out.

The opening scene from The Sound of Music

Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (1965)
Image via IMDB/20th Century Fox

Even someone who hasn't seen The Sound of Music will probably be able to quote that first line: "The hills are alive with the sound of music." Maria's joyful song, shot in Marktschellengberg, Germany, sets the stage for the rest of the movie, and Julie Andrews is an utter delight.

The "La Marseillaise" scene from Casablanca

Casablanca La Marseillaise
YouTube/Warner Bros.

France's national anthem takes on a special meaning in Casablanca, as its performance drowns out a group of Nazis. After the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, fans shared clips of the famous movie scene to show solidarity with the country.

The door scene from Titanic

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)
IMDB/20th Century Fox

This scene will live on in eternal debate about whether the two of them could both have fit on the door. (They could have.) For more Titanic, check out the 20 Facts Titanic Gets Wrong.

The "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally deli scene
YouTube/Castle Rock Entertainment

This NSFW scene lives on in viewers' hearts (and it's responsible for the throngs of tourists that consistently flock to Katz's Delicatessen in New York City). Sally questions whether Harry's romantic partners have actually orgasmed during intercourse with him–demonstrating what a fake orgasm might look like in the process.

The Tiffany's scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn

Holly's arrival outside the New York jewelry store doesn't need dialogue to be memorable. Audrey Hepburn eating the pastry and coffee while looking into Tiffany's windows says more than words could, and it gives fans a glimpse of who the character is before she's even spoken a word.

The "I Am Your Father" scene from Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

David Prowse in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Walt Disney Pictures

Of all of the memorable Star Wars moments, this one is definitely at the top of the list. While it's a line that even non-fans know by heart, the reveal that Darth Vader was Luke's dad was shocking to the movie's first audiences.

The bend-and-snap scene from Legally Blonde

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Coolidge in Legally Blonde (2001)

This isn't exactly a feminist-approved way to get a man's attention. But the scene did become iconic, even inspiring an entire song in the Legally Blonde musical.

The "O Captain! My Captain" scene from Dead Poets Society

Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Josh Charles, and Gale Hansen in Dead Poets Society (1989)
Touchstone Pictures

This is one of the late Robin Williams' most memorable films, and it's led scores of people to know at least the title of the Walt Whitman's poem by heart. The students' appreciation for their teacher is clear, and the scene shows just how much he's affected them. When Williams passed away, a number of fans and fellow actors paid tribute to the actor by quoting the scene.

The chest-burster scene from Alien

Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, and Yaphet Kotto in Alien (1979)
IMDB/20th Century Fox

Even if you haven't seen the movie, you've probably heard about this scene. It's been parodied countless times over the years because it's simply too shocking and terrifying to forget.

The "there's no place like home" scene from The Wizard of Oz

Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

There are plenty of memorable moments that make The Wizard of Oz such a classic movie. But one of the most moving scenes is when Dorothy decides to return to Kansas, reciting the now-famous line, "There's no place like home."

The "Wingardium Leviosa" scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Warwick Davis, Rupert Grint, Devon Murray, Daniel Radcliffe, and Emma Watson in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
IMDB/Warner Bros.

There are plenty of iconic moments from the Harry Potter series. But this scene from the first movie might be the one that fans quote the most. Hermione's correcting Ron on how to say "Wingardium Leviosa" properly shows both of their personalities early on and hints at how significant it is when the two become friends later in the movie. And for more on the magical wizarding world, here are 35 Ways Harry Potter Is Still Crazy Relevant.

The "You Are a Toy" scene from Toy Story

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in Toy Story (1995)
IMDB/Pixar Animation Studios

Toy Story was the first full-length Pixar movie, and it's still one of the best. Buzz and Woody's infamous fight while they're stranded at the gas station is pretty harsh. But it's also crucial to Buzz's acceptance of the fact that he is, truly, just a toy. Also, anyone with a short fuse will no doubt side with Woody's exasperated declaration that it's "the perfect time to panic."

The "Tale As Old As Time" scene from Beauty and the Beast

Robby Benson and Paige O'Hara in Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Sure, Belle falling for the Beast was more than a little Stockholm Syndrome-y. But it's easy to forget that with gorgeous dance scenes and songs like this one.

The bathroom scene from Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures Bathroom Scene
YouTube/20th Century Fox

Katherine was an essential part of NASA's calculations, all while running across campus to use the only designated "colored" bathroom. Her speech about the situation leads Al to desegregate the NASA bathrooms himself by tearing down the "Colored Ladies' Room" sign with a crowbar.

The "you're gonna need a bigger boat" scene from Jaws

Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw in Jaws (1975)

Jaws is one of the most famous movies of all time, and this line was instantly iconic. Watching the huge shark swim by the boat really is scary, for both the characters and the movie's audience.

The "I just wanted to take another look at you" scene from A Star Is Born

YouTube/Warner Bros.

The scene isn't the most important to the movie's plot. But it's iconic enough that it's showed up in various iterations of A Star Is Born over time, including the Bradley CooperLady Gaga version that's nominated for Best Picture at this year's Oscars ceremony. In the 2018 version, the scene hints at what's to come for Jackson and Ally's romance, and it's also given way to plenty of memes.

The tear scene from Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017)
Universal Pictures

Chris's tear-stricken face quickly became the go-to image for this Best Picture-nominated film. He's being hypnotized into the Sunken Place, and Daniel Kaluuya perfectly embodies the sheer horror of the situation.

The library dance scene from The Breakfast Club

YouTube/Universal Pictures

Often imitated, never duplicated. The students' dancing while serving their detention is just plain fun—and probably one of the most famous movie scenes out there. No other dance montages can even compare.

The reveal scene from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Paul Birch, Joseph Hoover, and Carleton Young in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
IMDB/Paramount Pictures

IMDB/Paramount Pictures

The twist at the end of this John Wayne/Jimmy Stewart movie is a real shocker. It turns out (spoiler alert!) that the man who shot Liberty Valance was Tom the whole time. (A runner-up for the movie's most memorable moment is the steak scene.)

The "death is better than bondage" scene from Black Panther

Killmonger's death in Black Panther
YouTube/Disney and Marvel Studios

Black Panther was the first superhero movie ever nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. There are a number of memorable scenes in the movie, but the last scene was one of the most powerful. While Killmonger certainly wasn't the hero of this Marvel film, he did deliver a poignant final line. "Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, 'cause they knew death was better than bondage," he tells T'Challa. Cue the chills… And if you enjoyed Killmonger's character, here's How to Steal Michael B. Jordan's Hardcore Black Panther Workout.

The "lasso the moon" scene from It's a Wonderful Life

James Stewart and Donna Reed in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
IMDB/Liberty Films

George and Mary's love story is one of the greats, and this scene is so sweet, if not a bit much. I mean, who wouldn't want someone to say they'd "lasso the moon" for you?

The "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" scene from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
IMDB/20th Century Fox

The scene has been parodied countless times, and Marilyn Monroe's original performance still lives on in fans' memories. One fun fact about the song? Monroe was singing for most of it, but there was one line where she had some help. Marni Nixon sang the line "These rocks don't lose their shape," the New York Times reported in 2007.

The beach scene from Moonlight

Mahershala Ali and Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight (2016)

Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Moonlight, and this scene is a pivotal one for the film. Juan served as a stand-in father figure for Chiron, and the scene is about way more than his learning how to swim. The beach trip cements the pair's bond, and the scene is beautifully shot, too. And Juan's message to Chiron about deciding who he wants to become stays with him long after Juan's death.

The cue-card scene from Love Actually

Andrew Lincoln in Love Actually (2003)
IMDB/Universal Pictures

Mark is a terrible friend, and this is a really creepy thing to do to poor Juliet and Peter. Still, it's a scene that anyone who's seen the film will remember. And the ethics of the whole love triangle (if you can even call it that) are still debated in think pieces today, more than 15 years after the movie's release.

The "he slimed me" scene from Ghostbusters

YouTube/Columbia Pictures

Peter isn't thrilled to be one of Slimer's victims. But Ray is happy about the evidence from the encounter—namely, the slime that Peter's now covered in.

The "phone-home" scene from E.T.

Henry Thomas in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

So sweet and pure, this scene pretty much sums up the entire movie. Poor E.T.

The "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a d*mn" scene from Gone with the Wind

"Gone with the Wind" Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable 1939 MGM

You've probably heard this phrase, even if you didn't know its origin. Rhett's dismissal of Scarlett is a little rude, but it's also a great phrase to implement into your everyday life.

The "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" scene from Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice, and Matthew Garber in Mary Poppins (1964)
Image via IMDB/Walt Disney Pictures

All of the Mary Poppins songs are great. But the nonsense of this one cemented it in fans' minds. It's just catchy, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. And the cartoons in the background really set the scene.

The "if you're a bird, I'm a bird" scene from The Notebook

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook (2004)
IMDB/New Line Cinema

Even people who hate romance movies have probably heard this line. The Notebook is hailed as one of the best romantic films of all time, and it's thanks in large part to its stars, Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. The couple's carefree day on the beach in this scene is just pure fun.

The "offer he can't refuse" scene from The Godfather

Marlon Brando
Paramount Pictures

This might be one of the most famous movie scenes, ever. Don Corleone's chilling quote shows that he means business, and he'll do anything to get his way.

The "as you wish" scene from The Princess Bride

Movie clip from The Princess Bride
YouTube/Act III Communications

Aside from Wallace Shawn's pronunciation of "inconceivable," this is undoubtedly the most famous phrase from The Princess Bride. And many fans still consider it one of the most romantic movie lines of all time.

The dive scene from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Shameik Moore in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
IMDB/Sony Pictures Animation

Into the Spider-Verse won the 2019 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Picture, and it's not hard to see why. The animation style is unlike any other movie that's come before it, cartoon or otherwise. The scene when Miles dives through the glassy facades of New York's buildings, wearing his newly made Spider-Man suit, shows the moment he fully takes on the superhero's role. It's one of the most visually stunning and instantly unforgettable famous movie scenes out there. And for more of last year's best movies, check out The 7 Best Movies from 2018 You Didn't See—According to Famous Directors.

The dream dance scene from The Shape of Water

Sally Hawkins dance scene
YouTube/Bull Productions

Elisa is mute, but she finds a way to communicate her feelings through song. The scene is moving and beautiful, showing just how strong this unconventional love is.

The "Hello Clarice" scene from The Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Orion Pictures

Clarice and Hannibal's first meeting is completely chilling. It's no wonder fans still try to creep each other out by reciting Anthony Hopkins' famous line.

The training montage scene from Rocky

Sylvester Stallone in Rocky (1976)
IMDB/Chartoff-Winkler Productions

He's ready for anything, especially after running up all those stairs. And forget fancy fitness attire—all Rocky needs is sweats and a pair of Converse.

The "shut up" scene from The Princess Diaries

Anne Hathaway

"Wow, gee whiz, golly wolly." There's a special place in Anne Hathaway fans' hearts for this lovable Disney movie, and this scene is just too funny not to quote. But, really—whose reaction wouldn't be "Shut up!" if they'd just learned they were a member of a foreign country's royal family?

The "Oh Hi Mark" scene from The Room

The Room Movie

The Room is so iconic—in how bad it is—that it inspired a full biographical comedy in 2017's The Disaster Artist. Even people who don't know the 2003 movie have likely heard this scene being quoted, repeatedly.

The spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp

IMDB/Walt Disney Studios

Plenty of humans have tried to recreate the magic of the two pups enjoying their pasta together. These dogs may be a bit confused about what qualifies as dog food, but that doesn't make this scene any less cute and endearing. And for more on your favorite family films, check out The 20 Funniest Jokes From Kids' Movies.

The thrift-shop scene from Lady Bird

Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird (2017)

Not all of the most famous movie scenes have to be from older films. The Best Picture-nominated movie has plenty of memorable moments. But Lady Bird and her mom's shopping trip to buy a dress for Danny's grandma's Thanksgiving dinner perfectly encapsulates the dynamics of their relationship. They snap at each other over small things, but quickly bond when Marion finds her daughter the perfect dress for the occasion. And for more on your favorite movies, check out the 30 Shocking Facts about Your Favorite Movies.

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Meghan De Maria
Meghan De Maria is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food, product, and restaurant coverage. Read more
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