The 20 Most Misquoted Movie Lines of All Time
You may think you're a movie buff, but we guarantee you're regularly getting most of these wrong.
If you're a fan of the movie Jaws—and who isn't?—you've probably found a reason to use the movie's most classic line at least once in casual conversation: "We're gonna need a bigger boat." Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you've probably been misquoting that line your entire life. You're close, but that's not exactly what Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) says to his crew mate Quint (Robert Shaw). What he actually tells him is, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." And it's far from the only movie quote that we all collectively misremember. Here are 20 famous and famously misquoted movie lines from cinema history. And for more killer lines, here are 30 Movie Quotes Every '90s Kid Knows by Heart.
"Greed is good."
Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) delivers what's probably the most notorious line about ethically challenged investors in Oliver Stone's 1987 cinematic tour de force Wall Street. Only problem is, he never says it.
What Gekko really tells the crowd of would-be investors is this: "The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works." You're never going to catch somebody saying it that precise way. "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good" just doesn't have the same ring to it. For more from the decade of greed, here are 30 Movie Quotes Every '80s Kid Knows by Heart.
"Play it again, Sam."
In our collective cultural memory, it's Humphrey Bogart who says "play it again, Sam" in the 1942 noir classic Casablanca. But it's actually Ingrid Bergman's Ilse who says something closer, when she pleads with the piano player, "Play it once, Sam, for old time's sake. Play 'As Time Goes By.'"
Later in the film, Bogart tells Sam, "You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!" Not exactly "Play it again, Sam," but it's close…kinda.
"Do you feel lucky, punk?"
It's such a fun line to say. Whenever you want to sound threatening, in a Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry kinda way, this is the quote to turn to. Ah, if only it was accurate.
That's not exactly what Dirty Harry says when he confronts some bad guys with a .44 Magnum. What he really says is, "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" You have to admit, even though it involves a few more words, that's a much cooler quote. For more, check out 30 Movie Quotes Every '70s Kid Knows by Heart.
"You dirty rat!"
They're the most infamous three words that James Cagney ever said on film. Well, allegedly. It's difficult to pinpoint their origin. In the 1931 movie Blonde Crazy, he does say this: "Oh, that dirty, double-crossin' rat. I'd like to get my own hooks on him. I'd tear him to pieces." Which is at least close, right? And then in the 1932 movie Taxi!, he calls somebody a "dirty, yellow-bellied rat," which is, again, at least in the vicinity.
The creepy way Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) greets Clarice (Jodie Foster) in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs is often repeated. But if you've ever done a Hannibal impression to try and freak somebody out, you've likely said the famous quote wrong. What Dr. Lecter actually says is, "Good evening, Clarice." For some scary streaming recommendations, here are The 18 Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now.
"A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."
There are at least two movies in which people remember John Wayne saying this line: 1939's Stagecoach and 1953's Hondo. But, as it turns out, he doesn't say it in either.
In Stagecoach, the Duke comes close with the line, "Well, there's some things a man just can't run away from." It's kind of the same thing, but not really. In Hondo, Wayne's character declares that, "A man ought'a do what he thinks is best," which is at least in the ballpark. But are the things a man has to do also what he thinks are best? A debate for the ages.
"Luke, I am your father."
It's one of the most famous lines in the entire Star Wars franchise, and we all get it wrong. Darth Vader never says this exact quote in The Empire Strikes Back. He's correcting Luke, who has other ideas about who his daddy is. "No," Darth tells him, "I am your father." Leave out the "no" and you lose the whole switcheroo aspect of Darth's revelation. For the music you're misremembering, here are 30 Misheard Song Lyrics Everyone Gets Wrong.
"I'm out of order? You're out of order! This whole court's out of order!"
When defense lawyer Arthur Kirkland (Al Pacino) loses his cool in the 1979 courtroom drama …And Justice For All, he scolds the judge with this legendary takedown. Or maybe not. Our memories get some of the words right, but less than you might think. What Pacino actually screams at Jack Warden is, "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!"
When Dr. Frankenstein brings his creature to life in the 1931 horror masterpiece, Frankenstein, what does he start yelling? If your answer is "He's alive! He's alive!," well, sorry. What the good doctor actually shouts in celebration is, "It's alive!" Which makes sense, as the monster is not technically a person. It's a bunch of different body parts that the doctor sewed together. For more random facts, sign up for our daily newsletter.
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like… victory."
Sometimes lines get misquoted just for the sake of brevity. Take this classic from Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 epic Apocalypse Now. Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) says something about napalm smelling like victory, but it was nowhere near as concise as we all remember. His full quote is a bit more rambling. "You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that," he says.
He goes on to talk about bombing a hill for twelve hours and their enemies being wiped out. "The smell, you know, that gasoline smell," he continues. "The whole hill. Smells like… victory.
"Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?"
The most famous line delivered by Dustin Hoffman in 1967's The Graduate is one that people get…well, mostly right. Hoffman as Ben Braddock actually says, "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"
The way movie fans have reimagined the line actually changes the meaning slightly. The misquote is a direct question, but what Ben actually says has more uncertainty.
"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto."
Even if you watch the 1939 classic Wizard of Oz every year, you probably still remember this as the line uttered by Dorothy (Judy Garland) when she realizes she's far, far away from home, It's really not. What she actually says is "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." It's not about what Dorothy "thinks." It's all about her feelings.
"Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy ride."
This is a curious misinterpretation. Why have we collectively taken Bette Davis' most famous quote from All About Eve ("Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night.") and made it sound like she's a sadistic greeter at a Disney theme park ride? It's bumpy "night," people. No one's boarding a rollercoaster.
"We have ways of making you talk."
Even if you've never seen the 1935 Gary Cooper movie The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, you probably know this line, which is best said with a German accent. Well, it might be worth actually watching the movie, because that line doesn't exist. What's really said—and without the accent usually added to it—is "Well, gentlemen? We have ways to make men talk."
"Run, you fools!"
It's one of our favorite scenes in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. When Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) is about to be pulled into the abyss by a monstrous Balrog, he shouts to the hobbits… well, not what you think. In our memories, he tells them to run, but the line is really, "Fly, you fools." It's such a pervasive error, there are Reddit threads devoted to debating the line.
"If you build it, they will come."
We still get misty-eyed every time we watch Kevin Costner's love letter to baseball, Field of Dreams. But as much as we think we know the story inside and out, we still get this timeless line wrong. The voice that Costner's character hears in the crop field isn't promising an abundance of people. The line is actually, "If you build it, he will come." The "he" in question is Shoeless Joe Jackson and, well, we don't want to spoil the movie for you.
"Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest of them all?"
Every kid who grew up watching the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs knows the creepy questions asked by the wicked Queen, Snow White's evil stepmother. Or at least we think we do. The real line is, "Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?" Why have we all collectively decided to drop the adjective that explains the mirror's powers? Who knows?
"Me Tarzan, you Jane."
Even Johnny Weissmuller, the star of the 1932 classic Tarzan, the Ape Man, was confused about the famous line. He once admitted in an interview, "I didn't have to act in Tarzan, I just said: 'Me Tarzan, you Jane.'" Except, sorry, he never said that.
His character has a lengthy exchange with Jane as she attempts to explain their names. There's a lot of finger pointing back and forth as she tries to make him understand. His closest version of the line is, "Jane. Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan. Jane…" But maybe that's not as catchy as "Me Tarzan, you Jane."
"Beam me up, Scotty."
We hate to ruin your childhoods, but Captain Kirk (William Shatner) never once says, "Beam me up, Scotty." Not in the TV show that ran between 1966 and 1969, and certainly not in any of the movies.
What he actually says is, "Scotty, beam us up." Because Kirk is a team player, he's not going to leave his friends behind. Kirk delivers variations on that line during the TV run, ranging from"Ready to beam up, Jim," to "Gentlemen, I suggest you beam me aboard." But never "Beam me up, Scotty."
"Life is like a box of chocolates."
In 1994's Forrest Gump, the titular character (Tom Hanks) tells his incredible life story to a rotating group of people while waiting at a bus stop. And it comes with some morals, too. But, we have to tell you, you've been misquoting him. Forrest Gump doesn't say, "Mama always used to say, 'Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're gonna get.'" He actually says, "Mama always used to say life was like a box of chocolates…" He's more paraphrasing his beloved mother than directly quoting her.