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Signature Line

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"And now, here it comes, the line you've all been waiting for..." (Also sprach Zarathustra plays in the background)
Phelous in his Troll 2 review

Related to Signature Scene, a Signature Line is a quote of dialogue that everyone remembers from a work of fiction, and has become synonymous with it. When the general public thinks of the work, this is the one quote that immediately springs to mind, and may be the only reason to remember the work at all.

There are many reasons that the line may stand out. It may be...

  • A major centerpiece of the marketing for the work, possibly the tagline
  • The opening line or monologue of a famous work
  • A line that evoked major controversy
  • A line that is incredibly ridiculous or narmful in what is supposed to be a serious work
  • The major twist in the work

No matter the reason, the Signature Line is cemented in the minds of the general public. If you have actually seen the work yourself and are familiar with it, there may be lines that stick out more for you.

A Signature Line is a line of dialogue that actually appears in the work. If the line is never actually spoken in the work, it's an example of Beam Me Up, Scotty!.

Signature Lines are likely to succumb to Memetic Mutation (usually, Memetic Mutation is how they become the Signature Line), and thereby result in viewers Watching It For The Meme.

Don't confuse this with a character's Catch-Phrase; a signature line is something viewers might watch the entire show simply to hear, not just something that gets said a lot. If many different people in the show say it, it's the show's Arc Words. Sometimes, of course, a catchphrase or arc words can catch on and come to define the show in popular imagination, but it's rarer than you'd think — the vast majority of signature lines are only spoken once in the work where they appear. Also not to be confused with Tagline or Wham Line.

NOTE: Since these are signature lines, spoilers won't be marked.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Frozen:
      • "The snow glows white on the mountain tonight. Not a footprint to be seen..."
      • "Let it Go, let it go..."
      • "Conceal, don't feel..."
      • "Do you want to build a snowman?"
      • "Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart."
  • Justice League Flashpoint Paradox:
    • "Break the sound barrier, and there's a sonic boom. You broke the time barrier, Flash. Time boom. Ripples of distortion radiated out through that point of impact, shifting everything just a tiny bit. But enough. Enough for events to happen slightly different."
    • "Her hero; how noble. Oh, wait! You didn't stop JFK from getting assassinated or make sure Hitler stayed in art school. You saved your mommy. You missed her. And in a supreme act of selfishness shattered history like a rank amateur, turned the world into a living hell moments away from destruction and I'm the villain?"

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Moby-Dick
    • Opening line: "Call me Ishmael."
    • "From Hell's heart, I stab at thee!"
  • "The first rule of Fight Club is 'You do not talk about Fight Club.' The second rule of Fight Club is 'YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.' (Fight Club)
  • A Tale of Two Cities
    • "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
    • "It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done..."
  • Harry Potter
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • "The things I do for love."
    • "The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."
    • "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
  • Pride and Prejudice
    • "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
    • "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."
  • "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." (Emma)
  • "You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope." (Persuasion)
  • "Bah, humbug!" (A Christmas Carol)
    • "God bless us, every one of us!"
  • Stephen King:
    • "He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts." (It)
      • "They all float down here. 'THEY ALLL FLOAT."'
    • "Sometimes dead is better." (Pet Sematary)
    • "M.O.O.N. That spells _____." (The Stand)
    • “His single-minded purpose. His unending fury.” (Christine)
    • "Late last night and the night before, Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers, knocking at the door. I want to go out, don't know if I can, because I'm so afraid of the Tommyknocker man." (The Tommyknockers)
    • "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." (The Dark Tower)
      • "I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye. I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I shoot with my mind. I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart."
      • "Go then, there are other worlds than these."
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." (The Hobbit)
    • "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, / One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." (The Lord of the Rings)
  • "The rosy fingers of dawn." (The Iliad)
  • "So it goes." (Slaughterhouse-Five)
  • "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink." (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)
    • "As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean."
  • "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate" ("Abandon all hope, ye who enter.") (The Divine Comedy)
  • "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." (Neuromancer)
  • "The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there." (The Go-Between)
  • "Big Brother is watching you." (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
    • "WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH."
  • "All right, I'll go to hell, then." (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
    • "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
  • "All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others." (Animal Farm)
    • "Four legs good, two legs bad." Which eventually morphs into "Four legs good, two legs better."
  • "I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." (Atlas Shrugged)
    • "Who is John Galt?"
      • Both leading to one of the more memorable quotes of literary critique: "Eventually, the question you ask stops being 'Who is John Galt?' and becomes 'When will John Galt shut up?'"
  • "The question isn't who is going to let me, it's who is going to stop me." (The Fountainhead)
    • "Before you can do things for people, you must be the type of man who can get things done."
  • "April is the cruelest month..." (The Waste Land)
  • "I have no mouth, And I Must Scream" (I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream)
  • "Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good." (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
    • "Wrong with be right, when Aslan comes in sight."
    • "Always winter and never Christmas."
  • "Please, sir, I want some more." (Oliver Twist)
  • "There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." (The Wind in the Willows)
    • "The mole had been working very hard all morning at spring cleaning."
  • "Reader, I married him." (Jane Eyre)
  • "It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window." (The Big Sleep)
  • "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it." (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
  • "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." (Lolita)
    • "And this is the only immortality you and I may share, Lolita."
  • "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." (The Fault in Our Stars)
    • "Ok?" "Ok."
    • "It's a metaphor see: you put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don't give it the power to do its killing."
  • "The field is covered in blood." (Watership Down)
    • "You are closer to death than I."
    • "All the world will be your enemy, O Prince with a Thousand Enemies. And if they catch you, they will kill you. But first, they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed."
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
    • "Stand up, Miss Jean Louise. Your father's passing."
    • "...it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
    • "In the name of God, do your duty."
  • The Hunger Games
    • "... and may the odds be ever in your favor."
    • "Because she came here with me."
    • "There is no District 12."
    • "I tell him: Real."
  • "'No!' Jimmy protested..." (Meltdown)
  • Honor Harrington
    • "Goodbye, Citizen Chairman." (Ashes of Victory)
      • "Oops."
    • "What the hell. I've always liked a good challenge." (Mission of Honor)
    • "Why is it that people like you always think you're more ruthless than people like me?" (Shadow of Victory)
  • "Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know." (The Stranger)
  • "Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one. But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten." (Mort)
    • There is no justice. There's just me.
  • "Love will have its sacrifices. No sacrifice without blood." (Carmilla)
  • "I- am that is, my sword shall wield for me." (Redwall)
  • "My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk." (The Dresden Files)
    • "I'm in the book."
    • "The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault." (Blood Rites)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    • "DON'T PANIC."
    • "The answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is... forty-two."
    • "Mostly harmless."
    • "So long, and thanks for all the fish."
  • Alcatraz Series: The opening line, "So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians."
  • "Curiouser and curiouser." (Alice in Wonderland)
    • "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
    • "But I don't want to go among mad people." "Oh, you can't help that, we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
      • "Have I gone mad?" "I'm afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are."
    • "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
  • Literature/ Bridge To Terabithia
    • "Your friend Leslie is dead."
      • "You're lying. It's not true!"

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