The Best First Lines of Famous Film Characters  

Ranker Film
5.2k votes 771 voters 12.8k views 33 items

List Rules Don't just vote up the characters you like, vote based on how great their first lines are.

First impressions are everything, especially in the movies. Screenwriters go to great lengths to think of how to introduce characters in a film. Every line of dialogue is sacred, each word must be crafted in order to create three dimensional, memorable characters. But which are the best first lines of famous film characters?

A lot of these best film character first lines actually begin the movie. Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) tells the spectator in voice over at the start of Goodfellas, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster... To me, being a gangster was better than being President of the United States." It’s not only the perfect way to open Martin Scorsese’s tale of the old school glory days of gangster life, it also introduces us to the movie’s protagonist and how sacredly he views that lifestyle.

This list of best first lines from famous movie characters spans nearly every genre and decade. Which line is your favorite? Cast your vote and make your voice heard.

list ordered by
"I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you stranger." The Joker

The Dark Knight

“I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on, you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be 'Sir!' Do you maggots understand this?” Gunnery Sergeant Hartman

Full Metal Jacket

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster...To me, being a gangster was better than being President of the United States." Henry Hill


"Hello. My name's Forrest. Forrest Gump. You want a chocolate?" Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

“… Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Gen. George S. Patton Jr.


"Why did you go to the police? Why didn’t you come to me first?" Don Vito Corleone

The Godfather

"Listen, here's the thing: If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker." Mike McDermott


“The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom; I’m a big believer in it." Ferris Bueller

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

“ I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being.” Gordie Lachance

Stand by Me

"Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day." Sarah Connor

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." Raoul Duke

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

“I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me." Frank Costello

The Departed

"You all know me. You know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for ya, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like goin' down to the pond chasing bluegills or tommycats. This shark will swallow you whole." Quint


"My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This is my life. I'm 42 years old. In less than a year, I'll be dead. Of course, I don't know that yet. And in a way, I'm dead already. Lester Burnham

American Beauty

"Three minutes. This is it; ground zero. Would you like to say a few words to mark the occasion?" Tyler Durden

Fight Club

"Detective, you're looking for me." John Doe


"Welcome my friends. Welcome to my chocolate factory." Willy Wonka

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a f*cking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchased in a range of f*cking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the f*ck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sittin’ on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f*cking junk food into your mouth. Choose rottin’ away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f*cked-up brats that you’ve spawned to replace yourself. Choose a future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?” Renton


"People were always asking me, did I know Tyler Durden." The Narrator

Fight Club

"Huh? I am not a bum. I'm a jerk. I once had wealth, power, and the love of a beautiful woman. Now I only have two things: my friends and... uh... my thermos. Huh? My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi." Navin

The Jerk

But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters! Luke Skywalker

Star Wars

"Let me tell you what 'Like a Virgin' is about..." Mr. Brown

Reservoir Dogs

"Oh, I guess this isn't the bathroom, is it?" Mrs. Robinson

The Graduate

"Do you find me sadistic? You know I’ll bet I could fry an egg on your head right now if I wanted to." Bill

Kill Bill

"I'm 36 years old, I love my family, I love baseball, and I'm about to become a farmer. But until I heard the voice, I'd never done a crazy thing in my whole life." Ray Kinsella

Field of Dreams