On this day, Star Wars Day, better known as May the Fourth, we celebrate the most memorable moments of the movies as seen through the most memorable quotes from Star Wars.
“Use the Force, Luke.” – Obi-wan Kenobi
If there’s one line that summarizes the Star Wars series, it’s this. It’s the core idea of the movies: power comes from mental fortitude, not physical strength or stamina. It’s a good lesson, even if it gets muddled by future attempts to expand the definition of the Force.
“Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” – Princess Leia
Carrie Fisher has always been quick with a potshot, and many of them have found a place among the most memorable quotes from Star Wars. With this line and her acerbic barbs thereafter, she makes it clear that she will kick ass and take names from anyone, anywhere: even locked in a prison cell. She’s tough, courageous, and worthy of our respect.
“You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you.” – Obi-wan Kenobi
While the prequels clearly didn’t pack the emotional punch that George Lucas expected, Revenge of the Sith does include some emotional scenes. Especially if you’ve watched the adventures of Obi-wan and Anakin in The Clone Wars television series. The deep betrayal is somewhat undercut by the melodramatic tone of all the prequels (“NoooOOOOoooOOOooooo!“), but it’s a resonant line never the less.
“It’s over Anakin, I have the high ground.” – Obi-wan Kenobi
Yes, this line may have become a meme. But it’s a good meme, and one that we can all enjoy together.
“I am your father.” – Darth Vader
While the broad culture might commonly misquote this line, it still gets the gist right. The enormous “twist” of Empire stuck with viewers from the moment they exited theaters. Of course, it wasn’t a complete surprise, hence the quotes.
“It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.” – Han Solo
What’s a parsec? Well, George Lucas doesn’t know, and he doesn’t’ expect you to know either! Too bad that sci-fi fans are enormous dorks. It’s all thanks to this line that they had to make Solo just to explain what the hell the Kessel run is, let alone why this obvious oversight was ackchyually correct the whole time, so there, nerds!
“Do, or do not: there is no try.” – Yoda
As probably one of the most-quoted lines from the films, Yoda’s wisdom has passed into cultural understanding. Even folks who haven’t seen the movies have heard these lines, and understand their contextual meaning.
“Size matters not.” – Yoda
The big twist in Return of the Jedi is that Yoda is the great Jedi, not some muscle-bound warrior. But Yoda’s core message is that true power comes not from the body, but the mind. Yoda’s doesn’t need height or strength to lift an X-Wing from the muck of Dagobah; the same implicitly goes for you and me.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda
Yoda, unfortunately, is never wrong. This line proves to be prescient. There is hate and rage inside of Luke, but it learns to control it. In the end, he does not surrender to his more violent emotional ambitions. Instead, he follows the light, redeeming his father and passing the true test of becoming a Jedi.
“We were on the verge of greatness, we were this close.” – Orson Krennic
The story of Rogue One could have been much more interesting. It could have followed the story of Galen Orso, a disaffected weapons designer wearying of war and violence. This line is left over from that idea of the story, and I wish we could get it back. Plus, it’s a broadly applicable memetic catchphrase.
“The garbage will do!” – Rey
Star Wars might get a bad rap for always ending scenes on a joke, no matter how serious. While that criticism might have some foundation, it doesn’t mean every quip is bad. Rey’s snarky dismissal of the Millenium Falcon is a fun jab at the old movies, and I wish the modern sequels took more inspiration from that perspective, rather than brainlessly repeating what came before.
“Never tell me the odds!” – Han Solo
This is a great moment of character-building. Han believes in himself, and he doesn’t care what C-3PO has to say about it. He doesn’t listen to doubt, fear, or anyone else. He only relies on himself, and he knows enough to get out of any scrape. If he didn’t have Harrison Ford’s natural charisma, his character might not be half as charming.
“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” – Han Solo
Another great Solo line dripping with characterization. Better still, it’s highly human. You could probably track down people today that feel just like this.
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” – Obi-wan Kenobi
The stakes of A New Hope are low at first—until suddenly, Alderaan gets blasted. Suddenly, we come to realize that the Empire is more like the space Nazis than we realized. It’s a dark, terrifying moment that crystallizes the heroes goals and the evilness of the enemy force.
“Stay on target… stay on target…” – Red Leader
The way this line is muttered is extraordinary. Something about the delivery makes the line stick firmly in your brain, even if it’s not that impressive. But I swear, I can hear this exact delivery whenever someone repeats the phrase, like Pavlov’s dogs salivating for the dinner bell.
“I know.” – Han Solo
Han’s stone cold, improvised deadpan has riled hearts for generations. It only takes one watch to remember why.
“Congratulations, you are being rescued… please do not resist.” – KSO2
KSO2 was a small bright spot in an otherwise dour film. Rogue One didn’t have any light moments between the traumatic separation of father and daughter and the explicit death of all the heroes, the reprogrammed imperial droid is the sole amusing character. Thanks, Alan Tudyk!
“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.” – Kylo Ren
Kylo begs Rey to join him, but with all the wrong logic. Rey doesn’t want to kill the past. She wants to understand it, to learn from it and revitalize the world.
“Into the garbage chute, flyboy!” – Princess Leia
Carrie Fisher had no intention of allowing Princess Leia to be a shrinking violet. With this line, she boldly declares the type of damsel she is. She might be in distress, but that’s where she thrives.
“Boring conversation anyway.” – Han Solo
This brief comic beat is executed tightly and expertly, providing a quick chuckle before the prolonged gun fight. Better still, we learn more about Han: he’s not a great planner, preferring to improvise on the spot. And when he fails, he’s quick to bust out his blaster. He’s a smuggler who shoots from the hip, but we know he’s on our side.
“I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.” – Team Light Side
This classic of the Star Wars universe is uttered by nearly everyone at least once. People constantly have vague, unspecified bad feelings in the Star Wars universe. I think it’s what powers the hyperdrives, just like how vague platitudes and a mish-mosh of Eastern philosophy powers lightsabers.
“You’re all clear, kid! Now let’s blow this thing and go home!” and “Great shot kid, that was one in a million” – Han Solo
This line is maybe the best hype line uttered on film. At the moment before victory is achieved, the irrepressible Han Solo crops up to drive us towards the explosive conclusion. It’s beautiful, and I hope my breath in anticipation when I hear it.
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Darth Vader
An exemplifying moment for Darth, we learn what kind of person he is. Turns out, he’s exacting and cruel to his subordinates, using corporal punishment when deputies fail for reasons beyond their control. Overall, not in the running for Boss of the Year.
“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” – Princess Leia
The message that first began the adventure in the original Star Wars trilogy, Princess Leia’s desperate and cryptic plea for aid rings the ears of every star wars fans. They remember the questions it prompted on their first watch: who is Obi-wan Kenobi, and what can he do against that terrifying black robot? He must be incredibly powerful, whoever he is.
“Sorry about the mess.” – Han Solo
Everything about Han’s demeanor in this scene solidifies him as a badass. His nonchalance over open murder. His savvy understanding that the mess, not the crime, is the problem. He is deep into the underworld, and he doesn’t play by the hero’s rules. And when you imagine that Han Solo might very well be the first rogueish anti-hero they encounter. One look at Harrison Ford in this film is enough to convince a young boy that they could never possibly be inexpressibly so cool.
“Hnnggaahhh Unnnuggghhraahhh” – Chewbacca
Just, around. You know, like all the time in the background and stuff.
“May the Force be with you.” – Jedi Nerds
The “Vaya con Dios” of the Star Wars universe, this exhortation is as much an identifier of the warrior monks as the lightsaber and plain brown robes. It’s easily one of the most memorable quotes from Star Wars, spoken with equal reverence by legions of tween boys swinging lightsabers and grown adults wishing their spouses well. And that’s a sure sign of the cultural touchstone that Star Wars has been for decades.
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