The 10 Most Iconic Movie Quotes of the 21st Century

The 10 Most Iconic Movie Quotes of the 21st Century
Image credit: Legion-Media

A single perfect line can make a movie iconic, allowing the film to live in fame for decades after release.

From 'May the Force be with you' to 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn,' some of cinematic history's best movies can be boiled down to one line.

We picked a few lines that we think are the best (or most memorable) of the 21st century. Whether they defined the movie, have become the most-memed, or simply were the most fun to say, these legendary lines helped shape the last two decades of films.

Gladiator (2000) - 'Are you not entertained?'

In Ridley Scott's Oscar-winning Gladiator, Russell Crowe's Maximus shouted this anthemic line to the masses who watched people kill and be killed for sport. It broke so pervasively into pop culture that Jay-Z even used it to kick off one of his songs.

Lord of the Rings (2001-03) - 'My precious.'

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One of many immensely quotable lines from a critically and commercially successful franchise, Andy Serkis' Gollum made a relatively mundane line in the books become iconic with his raspy snarl. Considering the screenplay was so fantastic, there are a lot of great options for the best lines of the franchise. But the simple, 'My precious!' was the most iconic by a landslide. In the last two decades, every single fantasy nerd has mimicked it at least once.

Taken (2008) - 'What I do have are a very particular set of skills.'

While this wasn't the best film on the list, this line (and what surrounds it) epitomizes every cliche middle-aged action hero from the genre. Liam Neeson's matter-of-factness in uttering the line made it that much cooler, and it's since become a classic meme in the social media era.

The Dark Knight (2008) - 'Why so serious?'

When talking about the most quoted lines in the last hundred-plus years of American cinema, you won't get far before mentioning The Joker. Everything about the character was perfect, from the idiosyncratic tongue flips to the differing backstories to the way he bellowed, 'Why so seri-OUS?' Looking back, it feels like he said the line a hundred times, even though it was only said in one scene. Heath Ledger's posthumous Oscar win as the Joker spawned a generation of Joker Halloween costumes and bad impressions.

No Country for Old Men (2007) - 'What's the most you ever lost in a coin toss?'

Anton Chigurh's cold, dead eyes froze the audience as they held onto every single word. He'd flip a coin; you'd live or die. The ominous line reveals the scariest part of this character: Killing's more than just a job for him. He enjoys it. Javier Bardem's amazing performance won him a well-deserved Oscar in 2008.

Captain Phillips (2013) - 'Look at me. I'm the captain now.'

Barkhad Abdi was an unknown actor who was only paid $65,000 for the role of Somali pirate Abduwali Muse, but went on to be nominated for an Oscar - a true rags-to-riches story. This line was the highlight of an otherwise average movie. He needs no grand threats, just the simple fact that he is now the captain.

Spider-Man (2002) - 'With great power comes great responsibility.'

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It feels like this is cheating considering this line was pulled straight from the comics, but lines like this are why fans love Spider-Man. It's more than a simple superhero story - it's a genuine coming-of-age tale. The line has been replicated in different variations throughout Spider-Man franchises, but the original has always been the most iconic.

Iron Man (2008) - 'I am Iron Man.'

While it's not the most creative of lines, it spawned cinema's most successful franchise. The Marvel Cinematic Universe shirked the idea that their heroes need secret identities. They're allowed to be egotistical and self-absorbed, so long as they go on to save the universe. And when Robert Downey, Jr. repeated the line before his death in Avengers: Endgame, 'I am Iron Man' became forever etched among cinema's greatest lines.

The Social Network (2010) - 'You're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that won't be true. It'll be because you're an a**hole.'

The longest and most roundabout way anyone's ever told someone to F-off. It might double as the greatest breakup line of the decade, thanks to wordsmith Aaron Sorkin. The film takes some liberties with the truth while bashing Mark Zuckerberg's success with (The) Facebook, but you have to hand it to her: That's a devastating breakup line.

The Hunger Games (2012) - 'May the odds be ever in your favor.'

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It tried and failed to be the 'May the Force be with you' for a new generation, but for years after the hit franchise was released, it became a (somewhat cheesy) send-off line for young fans of the dystopian fantasy genre. The latter instalments of the franchise left fans a little disappointed, but for a few years there, Katniss Everdeen and the Hunger Games were household names.