The Best Punchlines in Film

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A couple of weeks back, we perused the entirety of film history and pulled out our very favorite break-up lines — the meanest, the sharpest, and the funniest. For a follow-up, we decided to focus on the latter: selecting some of the best punchlines ever uttered in movies. By definition, a punchline isn’t just a funny bit of dialogue or an amusingly awkward moment: it’s the payoff to a setup, whether in situation or dialogue, and thus must be carefully teed up and smoothly executed. We think these 25 examples do just that, with panache.

When Harry Met Sally

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

Airplane

“Surely you can’t be serious.”

“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”

Some Like it Hot

“Osgood, I’m gonna level with you. We can’t get married at all.”

“Why not?”

“Well, in the first place, I’m not a natural blonde.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“I smoke! I smoke all the time!”

“I don’t care.”

“Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I’ve been living with a saxophone player.”

“I forgive you.”

“I can never have children!”

“We can adopt some.”

“But you don’t understand, Osgood! Ohh… I’m a man!”

“Well, nobody’s perfect!”

Night After Night

“Goodness, what beautiful diamonds!”

“Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.”

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy

“For the entire Channel 4 news team, I’m Veronica Corningstone.”

“And I’m Ron Burgundy. Go fuck yourself, San Diego.”

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

“Look, you stupid bastard, you’ve got no arms left.”

“Yes I have.”

“Look!”

“It’s just a flesh wound.”

This Is Spinal Tap

“It’s a bit of a departure from what you normally play.”

“It’s part of a trilogy, a musical trilogy I’m working on in D minor, which is the saddest of all keys, I find. People weep instantly when they hear it, and I don’t know why.”

“It’s very nice.”

“You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like — I’m really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it’s sort of in between those, really. It’s like a Mach piece, really. It’s sort of…”

“What do you call this?”

“Well, this piece is called ‘Lick My Love Pump’.”

The Big Lebowski

I’ll suck your cock for a thousand dollars.”

“Ah hahahahaha! Wonderful woman. We’re all, we’re all very fond of her. Very free-spirited.”

“Brandt can’t watch, though, or he has to pay a hundred.”

“Ah haha. That’s marvelous.”

“Uh, I’m just gonna go find a cash machine.”

It’s a Gift

You’re drunk!”

“And you’re crazy. And I’ll be sober tomorrow and you’ll be crazy for the rest of your life.”

Duck Soup

“I suppose you would think me a sentimental old fluff, but, uh, would you mind giving me lock of your hair?”

“A lock of my hair? Why, I had no idea.”

“I’m letting you off easy! I was going to ask for the whole wig.”

Annie Hall

“It’s mental masturbation!

“And you would know all about that, wouldn’t you?”

“Hey, don’t knock masturbation! It’s sex with someone I love.”

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

“How may I help you?”

“You can start by wiping that fucking dumb-ass smile off your rosy fucking cheeks. And you can give me a fucking automobile: a fucking Datsun, a fucking Toyota, a fucking Mustang, a fucking Buick. Four fucking wheels and a seat!”

“I really don’t care for the way you’re speaking to me.”

“And I really don’t care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn’t fucking there. And I really didn’t care to fucking walk, down a fucking highway, and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car RIGHT FUCKING NOW!”

“May I see your rental agreement?”

“I threw it away.”

“Oh boy.”

“Oh boy, what?”

“You’re fucked.”

Ghostbusters

“Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.”

“They caused an explosion!”

“Is this true?”

“Yes it’s true. [pause] This man has no dick.”

WarGames

“Alright, Lightman. Maybe you could tell us who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex.”

“Umm… Your wife?”

Clueless

“Ms. Stoeger, my plastic surgeon doesn’t want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose.”

Well, there goes your social life.”

Blazing Saddles

“What did you expect? ‘Welcome, sonny’? ‘Make yourself at home’? ‘Marry my daughter’? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

Caddyshack

“So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking. So, I’m on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one – big hitter, the Lama – long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin’ for me. Which is nice.”

Tootsie

“I’d like to make her look a little more attractive, how far can you pull back?”

How do you feel about Cleveland?”

Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

There’s nothing to figure out, General Turgidson. This man is obviously a psychotic.

“We-he-ell, uh, I’d like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in.”

“General Turgidson! When you instituted the human reliability tests, you assured me there was no possibility of such a thing ever occurring!”

“Well, I, uh, don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir.”

Arthur

“What I had in mind was spending the evening with a stranger who loves me.”

“Gonna cost you a hundred dollars.”

“Oh, yeah? What time do you get off work?”

The Graduate

“I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Are you listening?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Plastics.”

[pause]

“Exactly how do you mean?”

A Fish Called Wanda

“Don’t call me stupid!”

“Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?”

“Apes don’t read philosophy.”

“Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not ‘Every man for himself.’ And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.”

National Lampoon’s Animal House

“Hey! What’s all this laying around stuff? Why are you all still laying around here for?”

“What the hell are we supposed to do, ya moron?”

“War’s over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.”

“What? Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

Office Space

“Yeah, well, at least your name isn’t Michael Bolton.”

“You know, there’s nothing wrong with that name.”

“There was nothing wrong with it… until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys.”

“Well, why don’t you just go by Mike instead of Michael?”

“No way! Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.”

Raising Arizona

“How many Polacks it take to screw up a lightbulb?”

“I don’t know, Glen. One?”

“Nope, it takes three! [laughs] Wait a minute, I told it wrong. Here, I’m startin’ over: How come it takes three Polacks to screw up a lightbulb?”

“I don’t know, Glen.”

“’Cause they’re so darn stupid!”