Action hero quotes, in real life.

Those action hero lines have become cliche but you still remember them “Make my day”, “I’ll be back”, “I ain’t got time to bleed”. What are you favorite quotes that could have easily been said by an action hero but were in fact said by (or supposedly said by) a real person.

My pick might not be well known. I heard the story because I was once in the now deactivated 8th Infantry Division. After the battle for Brest BG Charles Canham, the assistant 8th ID commander was sent to except the surrender of the German forces. The old school German Lieutenant General was miffed that someone of lower rank was sent to take his surrender. In a very 19th century way he asked BG Canham for his credentials. BG Canham pointed to his dirty scruffy GIs and said “These are my credentials.” It became the motto for the division.

What about the famous BG McAuliffe response to the German surrender demand: “Nuts!” Or, as I’ve heard it was actually, “Shit!”

John Smeaton, prior to stepping in and assisting in the subduing of the terrorists at the Glasgow airport: “What’s the score? I’ve got to get this sorted.”

Todd Beamer, United Flight 93: “Let’s roll.”

I heard this but can’t find a cite. Audie Murphy was supposed to have said exactly what he says in the movie To Hell and Back. During the incident where he earned the Medal of Honor he is basically calling artillery on his own position. When the fire control officer asks him on the radio how far away the enemy is Murphy said, “Hold on, you can ask them yourself.” or something like that.

The leader of the Persian army, Mardonius, met the Spartan commander, Pausanias, on the plains of Plataea and the conversation went something like this:

Mardonius: If your army is defeated every Spartan woman will be raped, your homes will be burned and your children will be sold into slavery.

Pausanias: If.

I thought this was going to be a thread asking if you have tried to use a hero’s line in real life.

In which case I would’ve cited my naive attempt as a 10-year-old to use one of Thor’s lines - yes, the freakin’ comic book God of Thunder, and yes, using Stan Lee’s ersatz, quasi-Shakespeare delivery - while playing ping pong with my Dad.

We probably couldn’t play for about 10 minutes because he was laughing so hard. I lost the game.

While looking into the incident I mentioned in the OP I read some more about Charles Canham. A pretty amazing and mostly forgotten American hero. On D-Day he commanded the 116 RCT of the 29th ID. That was the first unit on Omaha Beach. The unit that was shown on the beach in Saving Private Ryan. The then Colonel was shot through the wrist as he got off the Higgins boat. It didn’t stop him. There are some quotes from that day. Maybe not so poetic as others but I could see them being used in a film. As he is running up and down the beach under intense fire trying to get his men to move forward he is screaming, ‘Get the hell off this damn beach and go kill some Germans!’ To a young LT under cover, " Get your ass out of there and show some leadership!" and “Get these men off their dead asses and over that wall!” Think about him doing that in the real life version of the opening of SPR.

Now scroll down and look at his picture. He looks like a more nerdy version of Wally Cox. They would probably cast Bruce Willis in the role.

The Spartans (or quotes attributed to the Spartans) are probably a source for a lot of these. This exchange where the Spartans are warned that the enemy archers are so numerous that their arrows will block out the sun, and reply that they will “fight them in the shade” was the first thing that came to mind.

“With this Shield or on it” (said by Spartan mothers giving their sons the shields they would use in battle)is pretty bad ass too, though it was said to Spartan warriors rather then by them, so might not technically count as an action hero quote.

IIRC, when the Persians demanded that the Spartans thrown down their swords, Leonidas or one of his officers snarled, “Come and take them!”

John Paul Jones, his ship aflame and sinking, asked to surrender by the captain of the HMS Serapis: “I have not yet begun to fight!”

Nathan Hale, about to be hanged as a spy: “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

George Washington, leading his men as the British soldiers flee from the Battle of Princeton: “It’s a fine fox hunt, boys!”

Lord Nelson, in a signal to the British fleet as it approached the enemy at Trafalgar: “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

John F. Kennedy, asked how he became a naval hero: “It was unintentional. They sank my boat.”

During the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay, David Farragut saw his ships pulling back after one was sunk by a mine in the bay. He famously (if possibly fictionally) shouted, Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!

During the Hindenburg disaster, panicked Navy personnel stopped fleeing and ran back into the fire to save others after hearing their Chief roar, Navy men, stand fast!

“Bring it on” - G.W. Bush

The story didn’t finish the way it was meant to.

“C’mon, you bastards! Do you want to live forever?” - Allegedly shouted by a U.S. officer during the D-Day invasion, 1944.

It was a Marine during WWI - with this website as a cite and my Marine buddy who I remembered talking about that quote…

that website has some other great Marine quotes, too:


Which quote, prithee?

as a Mobilian, I can tell you that a sort of “Ode on a Grecian Urn” discussion revolves around this quotation. Did he say, “Damn the torpedos!” or “Damn, . . . the torpedos.”? :wink:

Ah **Bos **- you really want me to go there? Dredging up all those Freudian repressed memories? :smiley:

I don’t remember the exact quote - it was over 30 years ago after all - but it was something along the lines of “let the strength of thine arm do the deed, not the boasting of thy lips”

Now imagine trying to use that line while playing ping pong. Laughter ensues, but of the “at” not the “with” variety… :smack:

“I don’t know. . . I just got here myself,” from “Mad Max,” (although not spoken by Max). Used it many times.

I always liked the words of Capt. Lloyd Williams of the US 4th Marine Brigade at the battle of Belleau Wood. When the French advised him to retreat from the Germans, he responded with:

“Retreat? Hell, we just got here.”
Wikipedia entry

“Shoot straight, you bastards! Don’t make a mess of it!” - Harry “Breaker” Morant’s last words, shouted to the firing squad, Pretoria 1902