Classic Arnold Schwarzenegger One-Liners, Ranked

6 minute read

By Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)

It’s difficult to think of an actor more dedicated to the undervalued art form that is the movie one-liner than Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is because Arnie is uniquely suited to delivering lines in a style that can range from being an action hero cool to ridiculously hilarious, many times within the same movie. He’s also an actor that can confidently handle the action and comedy genres, which are both goldmines for one-liners. There are so many classic Schwarzenegger one-liners that it would be impossible to recount them all here, as you could easily find 10 great ones within the same film, let alone across his entire career. For that reason, this list has been restricted to one quote per film (except where explicitly stated). The following 10 entries could easily be swapped out with ten different quotes, but it’s hard to argue that these aren’t ten of the most iconic Arnold one-liners of all time.

10. Every Mr. Freeze Line In Batman & Robin

The script for the infamously terrible Batman & Robin is filled with a staggering number of one-liners, and Mr. Freeze (Schwarzenegger) spews so many ice-related puns that a whole list could be made of just those. Some of the standouts are, “Always winterize your pipes!”, “Ice to see you”, “Everybody chill” (which is followed by Freeze literally freezing a room of people), “You’re not sending me to the cooler”, “Can you be cold, Batman?”, and so many more. Arnold’s lines in this movie are absolutely terrible but so hilarious at the same time. The actor took home a cool (pun intended) $25 million for the role and gave the world more ice puns than it ever needed in the process.

9. “Conan, What Is Best In Life?” (Conan The Barbarian)

Conan the Barbarian (1982) was one of Schwarzenegger’s earliest feature films, and is surprisingly light on dialogue. Still, an early scene contains a line delivered with such conviction and devoid of irony, that it stands out in this rather quiet movie. Asked by a Mongol General what he thinks is best in life, Conan responds “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.” Interestingly, these are Conan’s first lines of dialogue in the film — a full 20 minutes in! Conan’s simplistic view of life tells us all we really need to know about the character for the rest of the movie, which makes it such an essential quote. It’s also so enjoyable blunt, which has definitely helped it stand out among Arnold’s vast repertoire of one-liners.

8. “It’s Not A Tumor!” (Kindergarten Cop)

The early 90s saw Schwarzenegger take on more family-friendly roles, with his part in Kindergarten Cop (1990) as a police officer going undercover as a teacher being perhaps his most memorable. It’s fun seeing the Schwarzenegger’s no-nonsense cop John Kimble interact with a bunch of kindergartners, who frequently get under his skin with their juvenile questions. At one point, Kimble complains about the kids giving him a headache, and one of his students suggests that it might be a tumor. Kimble incredulously fires back, “It’s not a tumor! It’s not a tumor, at all.” Arnold’s fish out of water status in this movie is just summed up perfectly in this one-liner. A better answer to the child may have been to ask how he even knows what a tumor is in the first place.

7. “You’re Fired”(True Lies)

True Lies, the 1994 James Cameron action-comedy, is a bit lacking in terms of classic Schwarzenegger one-liners, but the Austrian behemoth manages to spout off a great one in the film’s final act. The entire last action scene is over-the-top ridiculousness, with an extended fight on a harrier jet in downtown Miami. The film’s big baddie terrorist Salim Abu Aziz (Art Malik) ends up hanging from one of the harrier’s missiles, which Arnie’s character, counter-terrorist agent Harry Tasker, promptly launches with Aziz still attached. The missile manages to go through a skyscraper before hitting a helicopter filled with Aziz’s men, killing all of them in a fiery explosion. Trasker’s cool, confident “You’re fired” line cranks the sequence up to 11.

6. “Put The Cookie Down!” (Jingle All The Way)

The Christmas film Jingle All The Way falls into the “so bad it’s good” camp of film-making, thanks in large part to Arnold’s over-the-top performance as a father desperate to find the right gift for his son. At one point, Arnold’s character Howard calls home to check-in, only for the phone to be picked up by his neighbor Ted (the late, great Phil Hartman), who is enjoying Howard’s wife’s cookies in a suggestive manner. Overcome with rage, Howard screams at Ted to “Put the cookie down, now!”. Arnold’s exaggerated pause between “down” and “now” helps turn what could have been a throwaway line into the most memorable in the movie.

5. Matrix Breaks His Promise (Commando)

Commando has so many classic one-liners that it’s difficult to decide on just one. In the end, though, John Matrix’s final words to the weaselly criminal lackey Sully (David Patrick Kelly) are just too good to ignore (consolation prize goes to “Let off some steam, Bennett!”). With his daughter kidnapped by a revenge-seeking team of mercenaries, Matrix (Schwarzenegger) is on the warpath. Initially, Matrix promised Sully that he would kill him last, but after cornering him on a mountain road, Matrix has a change of heart. As he dangles Sully over a cliff by his leg, Matrix asks him, “Remember Sully when I promised to kill you last?”. Sully tries to appeal to that prior statement, stammering, “That’s right Matrix, you did!”, but his plea falls on deaf ears. Matrix states, matter-of-fact, “I lied”, and drops Sully off the cliff. It’s hilarious and badass, which is the hallmark of a classic Scwarzengger one-liner.

4. “Get To The Chopper!” (Predator)

…Or, as Arnold pronounces it, “get to da choppa!” Predator, the 1987 action/survival film, has a slew of classic Arnold lines (another particularly memorable one: “Stick Around”, said to a dead bad guy Arnie’s just pinned to a hut with a knife to the chest), but “Get to the Chopper” stands out because of the sheer desperation Arnie conveys while shouting it. The predator has wiped out half his squad at this point, and the grim, overconfident soldier who pinned a guy with a Bowie knife has now regressed into a man who just wants to get the hell out of the rain forest.

3. “See You At The Party, Richter!” (Total Recall)

Total Recall (1990) has a plethora of classic Arnold lines, but this one stands out due to the hilariously violent context of its delivery. Richter (Michael Ironside) spends most of the film trying to kill Douglass Quaid (Schwarzenegger), which means there is an inevitable late-game showdown between the 2 characters. After gaining the upper hand, Quaid and Richter find themselves on top of an elevator, with Quaid holding onto Richter’s arms as the latter dangles over the side. Unfortunately for Richter, the elevator shaft severs his arms, and he plummets to his death. To top it off, Quaid tosses Richter’s severed arms over the side after him, and yells, “See you at the party, Richter!”, a clever rejoinder to an earlier line that Richter said to him.

2. “You’re A Choirboy Compared To Me! A Choirboy!” (End of Days)

If ever there was a line that encompasses Arnold Schwarzenegger’s unique brand of charismatic, comedic style of acting, it’s arguably this classic from the action/horror film End of Days (1998). The best part about this line is that Arnold’s character is directing it at Satan, played by Gabriel Byrne, who is probably someone you don’t want to insult, especially with a line this bizarrely insulting. Comparing anyone to a choirboy is an odd choice of words at the best of times, but calling Satan that just immortalizes this line as an all-time classic. It’s hilarious, cocksure, and delivered in top-notch Schwarzenegger style, which might make it the best one-liner of the actor’s career, even if it’s not the most iconic.

1. “I’ll Be Back” (The Terminator Series)

The ultimate Schwarzenegger one-liner also happens to be ranked #37 on the American Film Institute’s list, “100 Years…100 Movie Quotes”. The immortal quote has become directly associated with Arnie’s most iconic character, The Terminator, and has become a much-repeated line throughout the Terminator series (along with another famous one, “Come with me if you want to live”). Interestingly, the line would have been “I will be back” if Arnie had his way, as his thick Austrian accent made it difficult to pronounce the contraction “I’ll”, but The Terminator (1984) director James Cameron insisted on keeping it, reassuring Schwarzenegger that the best take would be used, leading to the creation of Arnie’s most famous one-liner.

Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)