What are the best film catchphrases?


Some of the most popular phrases in the English language have come from theatre and film, and many have become so commonly used that their origin is often forgotten. It was Shakespeare that started it all of course, a huge number of words and phrases that are still widely used today started life in a Shakespeare script. That fine tradition has been carried on through our love of film – so which is the best film catchphrase? A poll conducted by LOVEFiLM revealed the most popular film catchphrase to be –

“I’ll be back.”

The Terminator

When Arnold Schwarzenegger uttered those words in Terminator (1985), it made cinematic history. In the film, Schwarzenegger plays a cyborg contract killer – he utters his iconic phrase after not being allowed to enter a police station currently housing his next target. “I’ll be back” received 25% of the overall votes and its popularity is down to the fact that it can be applied to many real life situations. Everyone can use it and sound Arnie-cool. LOVEFiLM editor Helen Crowley had the following to say about film catchphrases:

“There are catchphrases from films that are universally recognised and quoted time and time again. It’s interesting to see how they’ve crossed over into mainstream conversation and amazing that one line can instantly conjure up a character and a scene so vividly.”


So it’s a little surprising that in second place is the non-transferable “Bond. James Bond”, as spoken on many occasions by the nation’s favourite secret agent, which secured 14% of the votes. Third place was taken by “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” proving that Mary Poppins is still as much a part of the national conscience as she was in 1964. Sherlock Holmes smug affirmation – “Elementary my dear Watson” – came a surprising fifth, surprising because it’s easier to say than Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and can be used to make people feel silly.


Catchphrases are great because we use films to measure our perception of ourselves and the world around us. They provide popular cultural frames of reference, which we can use to relate to others and enhance our own enjoyment of the media.

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