The best movies are endlessly quotable. They’re filled with dialogue that rolls off the tongue and lives on in pop culture for eternity. Reciting movie quotes is a fun way of showing off your wealth of entertainment knowledge. But what if you’ve been getting those quotes wrong all along? It happens more often than you may think. That’s why we’re taking a deep dive into the world of movie quotes you think you know… but don’t.
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“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” That quote, spoken by acting legend Clark Gable in the epic, 1939 masterpiece Gone With The Wind, is ranked as the number one, most memorable movie quote according to the American Film Institute’s list of “100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes.” Movie buffs and cinephiles love to quote movies; working them into everyday conversation and inside jokes. Knowing and reciting movie quotes is a badge of honor for film fans. A way of showcasing their vast wealth of entertainment knowledge. But what if they were actually getting all those quotes wrong? That happens more often than you may think. Some of the most frequently quoted movie lines are actually being recited incorrectly. So, how does that happen? How do millions of fans manage to get a movie line wrong? Well, we’re going to examine that by pointing out some of the most famous movie quotes that never happened!
Gone With The Wind took audiences and critics by storm when it was released in cinemas. In fact, when adjusted for inflation, Gone With The Wind is the highest-grossing movie of all time. As wild as that sounds, it’s true. When adjusted for the rising cost of movie tickets and inflation, Gone With The Wind’s box office comes out to an impressive $3.44 billion by today’s standards. For comparison, Avengers: Endgame grossed around $2.7 billion. We’re used to seeing big-budget franchises and superhero blockbusters bring in those numbers, but in 1939 it was a romantic drama with a wartime backdrop that did it.
AFI’s ranking of that quote in the top slot makes sense when you look at the success and longevity of the film it comes from. The most memorable quotes come from the movies that make the biggest impacts. The movies that leave their stamps on cinematic history and embed themselves into the minds and memories of audiences. Like “I see dead people” “E.T. Phone Home” or “Hasta La Vista, Baby.” But the most memorable and iconic movie line in history has to come from the original Star Wars trilogy. Specifically, The Empire Strikes Back. I’m of course talking about the moment that Luke Skywalker faces off against the galactic overlord Darth Vader, screaming and condemning the villain for murdering his father. It’s at that moment that Darth Vader speaks the words that would live on for eternity in the world of fandom and pop culture… “Luke… I am your father.” Except… he never says that. Not exactly. The actual quote is “NO… I am your father.”
The line is spoken in response to Luke’s accusation, “You killed my father.” When Vader speaks the iconic line he’s correcting Luke, telling him that… No.. he did not kill his father, because he is, in fact, his father. It’s a small difference, but a significant one. And one that has been continuously misquoted for years. So, where did the mix-up come from? Well, it partially derives from a simple need of context. “No, I am your father” doesn’t hold the same weight because that quote is a response, rather than a direct declaration. That then begs the question, what was the quote in response to? By prefacing the quote with “Luke” it adds reference to the line. Luke Skywalker is a pivotal component to this iconic moment and when referenced by name, it adds another layer of context.
Another explanation could be that this man is to blame.
Chris Farley. The Saturday Night Live alum and hit 90’s comedian probably isn’t the first person who comes to mind when you hear the legendary Star Wars line, but his impact and contribution to the misquote are undeniable. Following his stint on SNL, Farley began to focus on his film career. In 1995 Farley starred alongside his friend and colleague, David Spade, in the hit comedy Tommy Boy. It was his first major movie role post-SNL and helped to solidify the actor as a bankable comedic leading man. Farley’s portrayal of the immature and bumbling Tommy Callahan provided the movie with a slew of one-liners and laugh-out-loud moments. Like this one, where he’s caught speaking into a desk fan to imitate the deep, and robotic tone of Darth Vader’s iconic voice. And what line is he quoting? You guessed it… “Luke, I am your father.”
You have to remember that Tommy Boy came out in 1995. That’s before the prequel trilogy, which didn’t launch until 1999 with The Phantom Menace. There was no sequel trilogy yet, no Mandalorian on Disney plus. This was before viewers were flooded with the continuously expanding universe of Star Wars. A lot of the kids, and even adults, watching Tommy Boy hadn’t seen The Empire Strikes Back which had been released 15 years prior. So, Chris Farley’s imitation of the famous line delivered incorrectly, would be one of their first times experiencing the line in film… And it would stick.
That’s not the only example of this happening. Just one year later, in 1996, Jim Carrey would incorrectly deliver yet another famous movie line, permanently altering its perception in pop culture, and he would do so while wearing a mask of greasy chicken skins on his face. The movie is The Cable Guy. Critically maligned and a box office bomb, the film was directed by Ben Stiller and starred Jim Carrey as a television-obsessed stalker with a lisp. In the years since its release, The Cable Guy has garnered a bit of a cult following and its dark humor and insane plot has gained appreciation from fans. That’s largely thanks to one of the film’s funniest scenes which sees Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick at the popular, dueling knights-themed restaurant “Medieval Times.”
At one moment in the scene, Jim Carrey peels the skin from his chicken breast and drapes it across his face as he delivers a ridiculous imitation of Hannibal Lector from the academy award-winning movie The Silence of the Lambs.
It’s a hilarious moment that even causes Carrey to break character for a split moment. But, the quote is incorrect. Hannibal Lector never says “Hello Clarice.” Not once in the entire movie. Anthony Hopkins’ chilling performance is so memorable and leaves such an impact, that he won “Best Actor In A Leading Role” at the 1992 academy awards, despite only having around sixteen minutes of screen time in the film. The psychotic genius with a taste for human flesh is best remembered for his menacing delivery of the line “Hello, Clarice” and yet, he never uttered those words. During Clarice’s first encounter with the imprisoned mad man, he simply says… “Good morning.”
Not nearly as chilling or memorable, but that’s the line.“Hello Clarice” has been used so frequently, in spoofs, satire, memes, and impressions that it is now, and forever will be, embedded in our consciousness as a part of Silence of the Lambs.
It’s the repeated misquoting of these lines through popular culture that causes these quotes to be remembered incorrectly and it’s a prime example of the Mandela Effect at work. A belief or idea that is remembered by the masses yet is factually incorrect. We covered the Mandela Effect in an earlier video about Sinbad’s Shazaam movie from the ’90s that never existed.
This happens so incredibly often, but in most cases, it’s only a minor difference between the misquote and the actual quote. Like Forrest Gump doesn’t say “Life IS like a box of Chocolates.” He says “Life WAS like a box of chocolates.” And the Evil Queen from Snow White doesn’t say “Mirror Mirror on the wall.” She says “Magic Mirror on the wall.”
Or how about this one? “Beam Me Up, Scotty!” Whether you’re a Trekkie or not, that line is instantly recognizable. It’s so closely linked to Star Trek’s legacy and lives on as perhaps the most quoted line from the series. Only… yep, it’s never directly said. The line, which is meant to be spoken by Captain Kirk as a command for Chief Engineer Scotty to Beam him back to the Mothership, isn’t said in any episode of the long-running science fiction series. Many other iterations of the command have been spoken. “Scotty, beam us up” or just “Beam me up” and “Mr. Scott, beam us up.” Even “Scotty, beam me up” are all spoken in various episodes, but never “Beam Me Up, Scotty!”
The power of comedy and pop culture to influence our perception and memory as an audience is astounding. And sometimes, the memories feel so real, that when we learn the truth it’s hard to accept it. What’s your favorite famous movie quote that never happened? Let us know in the comments. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. And remember… (in Arnold Schwartzenegger voice) I’ll return… (Regular voice) Wait, that’s not it.
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