- When the Griswolds pull out of their garage, all the luggages fall on the road. They haven't even pulled out of the driveway yet, and they already have a problem. Needless to say, this was an Estabishing Trip Moment.
- When the Griswolds drive by the St. Louis Arch:Clark: Do you see that, kids? That's the St. Louis Arch. The Gateway to the West. It's over 600 feet tall, and there's an elevator all the way to the top.
Rusty: Dad, can we go up on it?
- Clark can't find the gas cap on the new station wagon. Eventually he accidentally rips the license plate off.
- The scene where the Griswolds roll through a black neighborhood of St. Louis.Ellen: This is so dangerous! We have no business being in an area like this!
Clark: This is a part of America we never get to see.
Ellen: That's good!
Clark: No, that's bad. We can't close our eyes to the plight of the cities. Kids, are you noticing all this plight? This will just make us appreciate what we have.
(gun shot heard outside the car)
Clark: Roll 'em up!
Clark: I wonder if you could tell me how to get back on the expressway?
Pimp: Man, fuck yo' mama!
Clark: Thank you very much!
- Clark insists that he can drive for a little longer without sleep. The next cut is a slow pan across everyone in the car... Audrey is asleep, Rusty is asleep, Ellen is asleep... and Clark is asleep at the wheel with his head back and his mouth wide open.
- In the motel room, Clark tries out the vibrating bed but it shakes too much, causing Clark and Ellen to ditch the bed and snuggle on the floor underneath some blankets. When Rusty and Audrey walk in on them, Clark brings his hand out from under the covers and his finger has Ellen's bra on it.Audrey: Weirdo-rama!
- "Hey underpants!" (bartender "shoots" Clark with a shotgun)
Ellen: Are you happy now, Clark? She's deaf.
- And then Audrey can't hear when Clark addresses her.
- "You're driving me to Phoenix!" (all the contents of Clark's sandwich squirt onto the plate)
- "You ever bop your bologna?"
- Catherine: "Eddie says that after the baby comes, I can quit one of my night jobs."
- This:Eddie: I was laid off when they closed that asbestos factory. The Army cuts my disability pension. They claimed the plate in my head wasn't large enough.
Catherine: Eddie, Clark and Ellen don't want to hear about our problems.
Clark: No, no. It is very interesting.
Edna: Why don't you just ask him for the money, Eddie? He sure as hell can't take a hint!
Eddie: Well, I didn't want to ask you, Clark. Could you, maybe, spare a little extra cash?
Clark: Sure, Eddie! (gets out his wallet and starts to pull out a bill) How much money do you need?
Eddie: About $52,000.
(Clark stuffs the bill back in his wallet)
- When the Griswolds leave Cousin Eddie's farm, Eddie goes to kiss Ellen, who retracts before he can do so. The joke was so funny, they recycled it in Christmas Vacation.
- "Eeew, Clark, this tent smells." "Edna, this is your tent."
- After Clark crashes the car in the desert, Edna wants to get out.Ellen: Stay in the car! It's hot and dangerous out here!
Edna: (aghast) Don't you tell me what to do! I'll do what I want! I should never have come on this trip with you! I should have taken an airplane! And he [Clark], he shouldn't even have a license to drive an automobile! He should be behind bars!
Ellen: Sit down, and shut up!
(Edna, intimidated, gets back in the car)
Ellen: Move out of that seat, and I'll split your lip!
Audrey: Mom, where can I go to the bathroom?Ellen: Find a bush, Audrey!
- Also this gem:
- Clark shares a beer with Rusty, who proceeds to drink the entire can. When Clark takes the can back from him, he tries to take a sip but is surprised to find it's empty.
- Clark walks through the desert to find a gas station, and two Native Americans watch him from afar. One says, "What an asshole."
- When Clark starts becoming delirious from lack of water, he randomly spouts "Here boy" while muttering.
- The "how much you got?" scene.
- At the hotel which won't take his credit card or take a check, Clark bangs his hand on the desk when the hotel clerk walks away. The bang causes the cash register to open; on an impulse, Clark and grabs the cash from the register and sticks the filled-out check for $1,000 in the register to call it even.
- In the very next scene, the family is at the Grand Canyon and Clark's in a hurry to leave. Ellen asks him, "Don't you want to see the Grand Canyon?" Clark looks at it for a total of two seconds and is satisfied.
- Clark's crappy eulogy for Edna:Clark: Oh, God... Ease our suffering in this, our moment of great despair! Admit this good and decent woman into Thine arms and the flock in Thine heavenly area up there. And Moab, he laideth down behind the land of the Canaanites. And, yea, though the Hindus speak of karma...
Clark: I implore you, give her a break.
Ellen: Clark, this is a serious matter, I'll do it myself!
Clark: Honey, I'm not an ordained minister! I'm doing my best, okay?
- The Spoof Aesop:Helen: I hope you kids learned something about life and death from all of this.
Audrey: Yeah, don't die unless somebody's home.
- Clark's convoluted lie to the Girl in the Ferrari:Girl in the Ferrari: Having a nice little family vacation?
Clark: It would appear so, wouldn't it? No, the truth of it is, and this is highly confidential... I own this motel. I own the whole chain, nationwide. 2,200 units. Yeah, once a year, I travel across the country, incognito. Check things out, and see how the operation is running.
Girl in the Ferrari: I thought you were going to say you worked for the CIA.
Clark: That's an old bit, isn't it?
Girl in the Ferrari: Really.
Clark: No, I'm not with the CIA. I was, but that was a long time ago. I don't like to talk about it. No, I'm mainly interested in my motels now. And my airline.
Girl in the Ferrari: That's great.
Clark: I'm just trying to have a little fun.
Girl in the Ferrari: It's a shame you're married. I'm in the mood for some fun.
Clark: Married? You mean those people I'm with? That's my brother's family. My brother's ring. I usually borrow them on these little inspection tours of mine. It helps to complete the disguise. It's fun for them.
Girl in the Ferrari: It's a good disguise. I like the station wagon effect.
Clark: Yeah? Well, that's a big part of it. In order to be convincing, you have to look and act like an ordinary jerk. You know, stop at all the stupid sites and look like a fool.
Girl in the Ferrari: Basically, be yourself?
- After Clark is busted for being nearly naked in the pool with the Girl in the Ferrari, he has a father-son talk with Rusty. Clark creates the worst lie possible by saying that the woman was a "pool waitress". Even funnier, Rusty humors him and pretends to buy it.
- When Clark returns to his room, Ellen (who is downbeat that he was in the pool with the woman) asks, "Do you like that girl?" Clark replies, "How could I like her? She's ugly."
- When the Griswolds get to the front gate of Walley World to find it closed, Clark pushes a button on a Marty Moose statue, which plays a recorded message that the park is closed. Clark punches the Marty Moose in the nose, which causes the recording to play back at a lower pitch.
- When Clark holds up Lasky the security guard with a BB gun: Ellen: "We're not violent people. This is our first gun!" (Lasky is relieved) Clark: "No it isn't." (Lasky is terrified again)
- Also this bit later:Lasky: Has your father ever killed anyone before?Rusty: Just a dog...and my Aunt Edna.Clark: You can't prove that Russ!
- Also this bit later:
- When the Griswolds exit Walley World, the SWAT team tells them to freeze, spread their legs, put their hands on their head, and get up against the wall. The way everyone awkwardly walks in that position is hilarious.
- The cops frisk the Griswolds for weapons, but Ellen slaps the cop frisking her and warns, "Watch your hands, mister."
- When Grover and Lasky talk over each other to Roy Walley, who gets increasingly fed up until he shouts, "QUIET!!!"
- Clark with Roy Walley:Clark: We could have gone anywhere we wanted to this summer. Anywhere in the world. But when I asked my kids... Kids, remember when I asked you where you wanted to go on vacation? What did you say?
Clark: Shut up, Russ. Audrey, you remember?
Audrey: Uh... Walley World, dad?
Clark: "Walley World, Dad!"
(moments later, when discussing Walley's kids)
Clark: Did you ever drive them across country?
Roy: Oh hell yes. I took the whole clan to Florida one year. The worst two weeks I ever had in my life! The smell from the backseat was, j- unbearable.
Clark: I know that smell. I know that smell. But Roy, can you imagine how your kids would have felt if you got to Florida and it was closed?
Roy: Oh they don't close Florida.
- The final shot of the End Credits Photo Montage, which shows the Griswold family heading home—on an airplane.
Funny / National Lampoon's Vacation