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The greatest movie one-liners right before someone dies

Everything is larger than life at the movies — including death.

For most of us, our final moments are likely to be fairly un-cinematic — a quiet gathering of friends and family, or a sudden medical crisis that's over before anyone has a chance to react, or simply passing away while we sleep. Whatever the circumstances, it's generally unlikely that we or anyone around us will have the presence of mind to offer a classic quip before we kick the bucket. In the movies, however, it happens all the time.

The long list of snappy one-liners delivered right before a character's death includes some of the best moments in cinema history — in fact, you can probably quote a good chunk of the best deadly blockbuster zingers. With that in mind, we've rounded up a group of the most memorable, from hit films we've all seen countless times to contemporary classics in the making. Get ready for some surprises as we unpack the greatest movie one-liners uttered right before someone dies.

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The little friend

Al Pacino's Tony Montana is not one to go down without a fight — much less a fight without a little trash talk. That's why in Scarface, when Montana enrages a business colleague and inadvertently signs his own death warrant, he doesn't take the execution sitting down. He saddles up with a grenade launcher, plops himself in front of his cocaine-coated desk, and shouts the words "Say hello to my little friend!" before unloading on his own office's front door, instantly killing a bevy of goons on the other side. From there, he goes on to slay dozens of would-be assassins, eating bullets all the while until he eventually keels over like a great white shark with one too many harpoons in him.

Though the high-stakes plot circumstances are the primary reason this line is so epic, Pacino's performance doesn't hurt. With his character high off his rocker from cocaine, Pacino hams it up and fuses the drug-induced haze with his already lively accent to deliver Tony Montana's last one-liner in grand fashion.

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Is this Persia? No...

Few film lines in history have become quite as much of a meme as "This is Sparta," otherwise known as the adult variant of the classic ironic warcry "For Narnia!" On many an Xbox Live server, you can hear wisecracking 20-somethings saying it before executing an insane killstreak in Call of Duty or some other violent game, as they remind everyone that Sparta means business.

Where does this now-mainstream line hail from, though? One of director Zack Snyder's many ultra-quotable action films, of course — in this case, 300. At one point in the film, a Persian messenger relays a message from his king demanding the surrender of the Spartans. Leonidas (Gerard Butler), leader of the Spartans, responds by kicking the messenger down a well while yelling "This is Sparta!" in the most over-the-top way humanly possible. It's this level of ham and sheer testosterone that has led to the phrase becoming the cool, albeit terribly silly punchline it is today.

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He doesn't have to save you

It's always tricky when you're a hero with a no-kill rule who, for obvious reasons, sometimes has to kill in order to keep dangerous supervillains off the streets. How do you circumvent your own rule in order to eliminate a threat while still maintaining moral superiority? In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne figures out the trick: you don't have to kill them, but you also don't have to come to their rescue when fate intervenes.

That's how he navigates his own moral grey area while throwing down with Ra's Al Ghul aboard a subway train that's slated to crash. Once he's got Ghul right where he wants him, Batman opts to vacate the train instead of dealing the finishing blow to his opponent. As he prepares to depart, Ghul asks him the question "Have you finally learned to do what is necessary?" To this, the caped crusader cooly responds "I won't kill you… but I don't have to save you." Then he flies out of the train car and lets it reach its final destination, with a defenseless Ra's Al Ghul trapped inside.

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The worst time of the day

"Time to meet God" is the insanely intense line Alejandro (the titular sicario) mutters in Spanish before turning his silenced pistol on a family at a dinner table, murdering a man's wife and children in front of him.

Throughout the movie, the viewers have been groomed to understand Alejandro isn't a hero or villain — he's an ugly, pitiable depiction of moral ambiguity woven into the body of a cold-blooded killer. Sometimes he does things we can root for, sometimes he doesn't. And sometimes, as in the case of this line, he does something we can't make up our minds about. After all, the man he's torturing in this scene is the one who was responsible for his own wife and daughter dying in acid, so he's only paying back the favor (and preventing any future generations' revenge attempts in the process). Still, is there ever a scenario where one can cheer on a character who murders innocent bystanders?

Sicario asks us to confront the tough questions about humanity and right versus wrong, and no single moment sums up the movie's themes better than this one. "Time to meet God" is the marquee quote of a film where lethal judgment is everywhere, yet worthy judges are nowhere to be found.

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We're the other Avengers

This checks all the boxes for being on a "greatest one-liners" list: does it subtly incorporate the title of the movie? Yes. Is it curt but effective? Yes. Does the hero call the bad guy a profane name right before executing them? You betcha.

At the climax of Guardians of the Galaxy, after thousands of Nova Corps deaths, Groot's heroic sacrifice, and a lot of struggle on the titular Guardians' part, they finally manage to acquire the power stone and turn it against Ronan the Accuser, the bad guy responsible for their movie's worth of struggles. Ronan initially has no fears when he sees Peter Quill wield the stone, assuming its immense power will kill him instantly. However, when Peter successfully manages to hold onto it with the assistance of his fellow Guardians, Ronan realizes his mistake. He wails a pithy "You're mortal; how?" to which Peter says the most badass finisher in the history of the MCU: "You said it yourself, b****: we're the Guardians of the Galaxy." Then Peter supercharges Ronan with a lethal dose of power stone energy, instantly killing him. Combined with some epic camerawork and a roaring soundtrack, this killer end-of-battle line arguably remains the coolest finale moment in all of the MCU.

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All out of bubblegum

There's nothing quite as cool as Roddy Piper wielding a shotgun, something They Live reminds us of repeatedly. Piper's goal throughout the movie is to handle some aliens that are causing trouble on Earth. The issue is that the aliens can disguise themselves as humans. To combat this, Piper wears a special pair of sunglasses that can differentiate between extraterrestrials and normal people. Does this make any sense? Of course not. And neither does the sentence he spits when he enters a bank loaded with disguised aliens. Armed with his special shades and a shotgun, Piper says the magic words with the utmost composure and confidence: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I'm all out of bubblegum." Having announced his lack of bubblegum, he starts dispatching aliens with extreme prejudice, and it's awesome — much like the whole movie and every line of its wondrously cheesy dialogue.

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A robot's word

While the line is simple and its cultural impact unmistakable, even Arnold Schwarzenegger himself never expected the three words "I'll be back" to stick like they did. Heck, there was a period where it wasn't even clear that dialogue would make it into the movie, given that Schwarzenegger wasn't a fan of delivering the quote exactly as it was written (the rumor is that he couldn't pronounce the script's "I'll" contraction properly due to his thick Austrian accent). 

Thankfully, fates aligned and we ultimately received the endlessly quotable quip Cameron always wanted us to hear. Saying the phrase "I'll be back" is now a legitimate threat if spoken under the right circumstances, and it all stems from Schwarzenegger's 1984 Terminator T-800 coolly telling a cop that he'll return after being denied entry to a police station. Seconds later, Schwarzenegger makes good on that promise in his car, ramming through the station's doors and lobby, crushing the on-duty officer to death. The moral of the story: don't make the Terminator come back.

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To die a monster, or not to die a monster

It takes some serious wit and quite a bit of nerve to dish out a memorable one-liner before you kill someone else. Can you imagine being able to think clearly enough to spit out a cool line if the person you had to kill was yourself, though?

That's what Dr. Otto Octavius does in Spider-Man 2. Towards the end of the movie, he has to sink a volatile reactor before it can cause untold damage to New York City. To do this, he uses his robotic arms to rip it from its base and haul it to the bottom of the body of water it's situated above — a task that requires him to safely carry it right 'til the bitter end. Octavius, ever the closeted hero, does his duty with no qualms. He says to no one in particular (besides himself and his strangely sentient arms), "I will not die a monster," then takes the reactor to its — and his — final resting place.

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The king is dead

As far as the greatest villainous one-liners before someone dies go, Scar's final words to Mufasa might just be king of the hill. If the kids and parents watching The Lion King weren't already intimidated enough by Scar's ruthlessness and menace, his most sinister quip seals the deal: "Long live the king," he taunts before letting Mufasa fall to his death. It's arguably the coldest bit of dialogue in any animated Disney movie ever, and as a result, it's also one of the greatest. And it's not just great because it's cruel, it's great because it's Shakespearean. It captures the high-minded themes of the movie — leadership, family, and betrayal — and boils them down to a single sentence that sounds like it was ripped right out of a classic Elizabethan play.

For all of those reasons, this line remains one of the best single pieces of dialogue in Disney's entire repertoire. Only time will tell if they ever let another property get dark enough to attempt to usurp Scar's "most quotable Disney villain" throne.