Whether we’re trying to get the girl (or the guy), get the job, shut someone up, or just make someone laugh, we always know the perfect thing to say. The best response comes like a golden ray of light with heavenly music playing behind it, hours after we could have used it. In the moment, our er’s and umm’s become prayers for something better to say. But there’s no script to life, so our lives are filled with things we should have said.
Films, on the other hand, bless characters with a quick wit and however many takes they need to show it off. Whether they’re on a crashing plane, confronted in a court room or shot at by the bad guys, our heroes always have something brilliant to say. Their wit shines particularly bright when others try to tear them down; they drop the comeback lines we all wish we could in our everyday life. Of course, it’s probably for the best we keep our mouths shut sometimes.
Nonetheless, we can live vicariously through the characters on the screen. They know how to stand up for the things they believe in, and we cheer them on when they do. Without anything left to say, here are the 10 greatest comeback lines in cinema history.
10. “Yippee-Ki-Yay” – Die Hard (1988)
In Die Hard (1988), John McClane single-handedly fights off a group of terrorists and burglars. They try to shoot him down, but – in scenes to make Chumbawamba proud – he gets back up again, repeatedly. Whether it’s glass in his feet, a bullet in his arm, or hands around his neck, John just brushes it off and fires back at the bad guys.
But the most compelling battle happens over the radio. After taking a radio from the body of a terrorist, John challenges Hans Gruber to a battle of wits. Hans begins to mock John’s tough-guy attitude, claiming he’s watched too many John Wayne films. Hans asks, “do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?” To which John calmly responds, “yippee-ki-yay –” well, you know the rest. This comeback line is even better because it returns in the final moments of the film, when John finally takes Hans down in person as well.
Christmas is the time of giving, and John delivers one of the most iconic comeback lines in cinema history. This comeback line perfectly establishes John’s character; he adopts the persona of the American Hero that Hans doesn’t believe is possible. It’s even wrapped in a nice little bow, becoming John’s catchphrase throughout the Die Hard series.
This article was first posted on December 12, 2013