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Signature Scene / Live-Action Films

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  • 300: The scene where Leonidas kicks a Persian messenger into a well in a show of patriotism became the best-known moment in the film as a result of its over-the-top presentation and Leonidas' hammy delivery of the line "This! Is! Sparta!" The scene became a popular subject for parody, especially online, where it generated a popular YouTube Poop meme in the form of Sparta Remixes.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey:
    • The opening scene with the apes and the monolith. In particular, the rising crescendo of Also sprach Zarathustra and the Match Cut between a bone tossed into the air and a 21st-century satellite have both been widely referenced.
    • HAL's betrayal of Dave, by refusing to open the pod bay doors. HAL's "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave" line has been widely quoted as shorthand for a robot turning against its master.
    • HAL's "death" scene, in which he tells Dave how afraid he is, then gradually reverts to how he was when he first started up as Dave takes him apart, is highly memorable as an Alas, Poor Villain moment.

    A to C 
  • Absence of Malice: The scene where everyone is gathered together for a legal accounting is probably better-known than anything else in the movie. This is due to Gallagher's elaborate plan for revenge brilliantly achieving fruition, Megan's Character Development, and One-Scene Wonder Wells showing up.
  • The Absent-Minded Professor: The basketball game where the players are sailing through the air due to Professor Brainard putting flubber on their shoes is an extremely memorable and celebrated sequence.
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: Ace pretending to talk out of his butt. The scene became so associated with Jim Carrey that many feel that it's to blame for him not being nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Truman Show.
  • Alien: The chestburster reveal, which paved the way for future Body Horror in science fiction. It's literally the only reason the movie got made (well, that and Star Wars had just come out, and Alien was the only sci-fi spaceship script anyone at Fox had laying on their desk). The producers thought the original script was horrible, but the chestburster scene was brilliant, and it was what got the movie greenlit.
  • Annabelle: Creation: The scene where Linda is menaced by the spirit and attempts to scare it off with her toy gun has been called "one of the scariest moments in movie history" by some fans. A large part of what makes the scene so distinctive is how there are so many sounds of the demon approaching in the dark, getting closer and closer to Janice while still remaining offscreen.
  • Apaches: Sharon's death by drinking weed killer is the most remembered death in the film, due to managing to be the hands-down most horrifying scene despite (or mayhaps because of) nothing gruesome being shown.
  • Artemis Fowl: Mulch stretching his jaw with his hands, and growling "It's feeding time" has rapidly become so on Twitter, with many accounts sharing the clip and commenting on how it seems to perfectly represent what a misfire of an adaptation the film ended up being, plus the boatloads of squick.
  • Blood Debts ends the instant the protagonist, Mark Collins, blows up the Big Bad with a grenade launcher, resulting in a freeze frame explaining that Mark turned himself in to the police and is now serving a life sentence. The infamously rushed ending became the most famous thing about the movie and spawned memes in which other films end the same way.
  • "I wish I knew how to quit you!" from Brokeback Mountain. Parodies have ran it into the ground, but the scene itself is very emotional.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: What is often cited as the first Twist Ending in film history, the reveal that the entire film was a delusion of the main characters, and everyone in the movie are actually patients of Caligari in a mental asylum.
  • Camille (1936): Marguerite's death in Armand's arms. A classic case of It Was His Sled, particularly since the scene is also featured in Annie (1982).
  • Captain America (1990): Captain America pretending to be sick so he can steal a car, especially the first time, is the most-referenced scene from the movie even when talking about "old Captain America films" in general, due to how hilariously unheroic it is for him.
  • Chariots of Fire: The marathon where the athletes run in slow-motion to Vangelis' score has become so iconic that it inspired many parodies.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick (2004): Riddick and some allies racing across the landscape of a planet with a burningly hot sun to reach the only means of escape while their enemies take the same route underground and occasionally come up to shoot at them is the most talked about set piece of the film, especially with the Mêlée à Trois at the end of the race.
  • Cries and Whispers: Agnes and Anna's Pietà Plagiarism scene is so famous that it ended up on a Swedish stamp as one of the 5 most iconic movie scenes in Swedish cinema.

    D to G 
  • The Deep:
    • As striking and suspenseful as the diving action scenes are, many fans view this fight scene between The Dragon and a Mauve Shirt buddy of Treece as the best part of the film, with several YouTube comments calling it one of the best fight scenes ever.
    • The opening scene, both for providing the Best Known for the Fanservice moments and for providing a quick and effective introduction to both the beauty and the dangers of diving beneath the ocean.
  • Dumb and Dumber: Harry taking a huge dump after Lloyd slipped him laxatives. This scene marred Jeff Daniels' reputation as a serious actor for years.
  • The Empire Strikes Back: The scene where Darth Vader tells Luke that he's his father became the most famous moment from the film (if not the Star Wars franchise as a whole) thanks to it being a shocking retcon which ended the movie on a cliffhanger that wouldn't be resolved for three years, which was a rarity in cinema at the time. The scene consequently became a widespread subject for parody in popular media over the decades, named a trope on this very wiki, and is so well-known among the general public that it regularly shows up on analysts' lists of the most iconic plot twists.
  • Encounters at the End of the World: The scene of a lone penguin making its trek towards the mountains, seemingly from it being Driven to Suicide, is the most remembered and discussed scene from the film due to its somber tone and ambiguity. The scene has caused much speculation and discussion over the penguin’s motivations, whether it is aware of what it is doing, where it’s going, and whether or not the penguin was actually suicidal.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The shot where E.T. and Elliott fly in the air while seated on the bike and fly past the moon in the background. To the point Spielberg turned it into the Vanity Plate for his company Amblin.
    • The Special Edition cut of the film is remembered and criticized for the guns being changed into walkie-talkies during the final chase scene, with detractors feeling it removes tension from the scene.
  • The Exorcist:
    • The part when Regan's head spins 360 degrees as the rest of her body sits still is probably the most memorial part of the film and is often mimicked in other horror movies/shows/video games.
    • The moody shot of Father Merrin standing in front of Regan's house (depicted in the film's poster) has also been referenced and parodied a lot in other media..
  • A Few Good Men: The court scene where the lawyer protagonist wants "the truth", whereupon Nicholson's character answers: "You can't handle the truth!" inspired countless parodies.
  • Final Destination 4: Interestingly, a deleted Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene occasionally included in TV airings manages to be the scene that some fans most associate with the movie. The scene takes place after Janet's near-death experience and shows her walking across a street with her eyes closed, testing to see if Death is still after her, and wanting to get it over with quickly if he is. This is followed by a touching moment of relief after she makes it across the road. There's a sense of intensity, but also depth and frailty that really impresses a lot of people who see the scene.
  • Flashdance:
    • Two scenes that became Stock Parodies, Alex dropping a bucket of water on herself during "She's a Dream", and the one where she's only in a sweatshirt (it's even the movie's poster).
    • The scenes with the film's two Signature Songs, which for further connection have Alex dancing in a black getup, practice while "Maniac" plays, and the ending audition with title track "Flashdance... What a Feeling".
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla (1954): Godzilla's rampage through Tokyo, what else? This is possibly the single most iconic scene in kaiju history, easily recognized even by non-fans, only comparable to King Kong's climb up the Empire State Building in terms of mainstream knowledge.
    • King Kong vs. Godzilla: Kong attempting to stuff a tree down Godzilla's throat, both for being funny and the climax of the Cool vs. Awesome confrontation between the two most iconic movie monsters.
    • Invasion of Astro-Monster: Godzilla's victory dance after he and Rodan defeat King Ghidorah on Planet X (it's actually a reference to Osomatsu-kun). It's one of the first truly "human" moments of Godzilla, which would become the norm for later Showa era films that were more targeted towards children.
    • Destroy All Monsters: The scene of all the kaiju gathering at the base of Mt. Fuji to fight Ghidorah, simply for being the biggest gathering of Toho's various kaiju in one place to date (even if several of them only get a few seconds of screen time).
    • Godzilla vs. Hedorah: Say it with us now. Godzilla flying. This is probably the most infamously silly scene in the whole movie, if not the whole franchise, which is really saying something because the entire movie is notoriously bizarre.
    • Godzilla vs. Megalon: The sequence of Godzilla's gravity-defying dropkick is another scene which is the contender for most infamously silly scene in the entire franchise, showing how the character has strayed deep into Lighter and Softer, Denser and Wackier territory. The film itself seems to recognize how stupendous the moment is, because it plays the kick twice.
    • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah: Godzilla's death, which made up a large portion of the film's advertising, and is a major crux of the story's plot. Simply for the fact Toho decided to actually kill off their most popular character and actually went through with it in a well-executed manner.
    • Godzilla (1998): The scene where Godzilla scales the side of a skyscraper and shrieks while illuminated by lightning is one of the most iconic moments in the movie, being homaged not only by fanart of the movie (for a given value of "fan") as well as the opening of Godzilla: The Series.
    • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus: Godzilla's leaping body-slam attack, complete with an eye-widening Oh, Crap! from Megaguirus, for being a randomly funny scene in a movie that otherwise takes itself relatively seriously, and is often compared to the previous dance, drop-kick, and flight in terms of silliest moment in the franchise.
    • Godzilla: Final Wars: Godzilla's Curb-Stomp Battle against Zilla in Sydney. Simply for being such an obvious and high-effort Take That, Scrappy! towards the notoriously disliked Godzilla (1998).
    • Godzilla (2014):
      • The HALO jump sequence of the soldiers dropping into San Fransisco was one of the most featured scenes in the film's advertising and is often considered one of the most awe-inspiring scenes in the entire franchise due to the tremendous sense of scale and devastation.
      • Godzilla charging up and firing his Atomic Breath for the first time. In part due to the first American Godzilla movie's complete absence of it, the film built it up very slowly to maximize its impact to show Godzilla's Signature Move on a budget that's never been seen before.
    • Shin Godzilla: The first time Godzilla fires his Atomic Breath, for its awesome visual effects and cinematography that bring it to life on a scale of destruction unseen in previous films.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Godzilla firing his Atomic Breath straight up into the sky as a Pillar of Light. The scene was featured extensively in advertising, and one of the most notable scenes of Godzilla's Atomic Breath used for for visual spectacle in the franchise rather than merely attacking.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong: Kong socking Godzilla in the face during their first confrontation at sea. It's the rematch six decades in the making finally brought to life in a +100 million dollar blockbuster, and it gives the audience exactly what they came to see in stunning detail.
  • From Ju On and its American remake The Grudge, the sequence of the main character (Rika/Karen) taking a shower and Kayako's hand appearing in their hair. Its often listed among the greatest shock/horror moments in film history, the Remake even building the entire ad campaign around the moment.
  • The Great Dictator:
    • The speech at the end of the movie, considered to be one of the greatest speeches in cinema history.
    • Hynkel dancing with an inflatable globe is also very remembered.

    H to K 
  • The Hateful Eight: Warren describing to Smithers in graphic detail how he forced Smithers's son to walk stark naked through miles of frozen wilderness, promised to grant his dying wish for a blanket in exchange for fellating him, and after this task was done, didn't give him the blanket anyway. This is a very memorable scene in the regular cut of the movie, but even more so in the roadshow release, because it's followed immediately by the intermission.
  • Hereditary: The sequence ending the first act where Peter tries to drive his anaphylactic younger sister to the hospital, only for her lean out the window for air and get abruptly decapitated by a telephone pole the car passes, followed by Peter's shocked drive home with the body and him lying awake until he hears his mother's anguished screams at the discovery in the morning.
  • Independence Day: The aliens' destruction of the White House, which drew cheers from many audiences.
  • Jaws: Crissy's death at the very beginning, when she decides to go skinny dipping alone in the middle of the night, and is dragged around by an unseen shark, and finally while screaming, is dragged underwater, never to resurface again.
  • The Jazz Singer: Al Jolson saying: "Wait a minute, you ain't heard nothing yet", which was the first line ever spoken in a sound movie.
  • James Bond
  • James's windsurfing down a tsunami in Die Another Day, for just how infamously bad the CGI was at the time.
  • Just Before Dawn: The rope bridge attack is bound to come up when you look for information about this movie, due to being one of the most effectively creepy moments of the film and having a secondary character struggle impressively hard to survive and use the remains of the bridge to climb to safety.
  • King Kong (1933): Kong fighting a T-Rex on the island and, of course, climbing on top of the Empire State Building battling airplanes. This final scene has become so famous that it is a Stock Parody: the "King Kong" Climb.
  • The Church fight in Kingsman: The Secret Service, thanks to Galahad's badass fighting skills and the film's excellent usage of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird".
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle: Eggsy having to slip a tracker into a woman's nether regions, complete with an all-CG depiction of the interior of her vagina. The scene raised controversy as to whether or not Matthew Vaughn had gone too far with the franchise's signature off-color humor.

    L to P 
  • Labyrinth Of Evil became famous in the fanedit community for Padme surviving and later being seen holding a newborn Leia on Alderaan. This scene revolutionized the fanedit community, and created a broken base between those who prefer the canon fate of Padme and those who want her Spared by the Adaptation.
  • The Matrix
    • Morpheus offering Neo a choice between the blue pill, which will allow him to live in blissful ignorance in the Matrix, or the red pill, which will show him the truth. Not only is it a key moment in the story with memorable dialogue, but it's also frequently used as an allegory of various sorts.
    • The lobby shootout, in which Neo and Trinity take down a squad of armed guards in a slow-motion shootout, is considered the action highlight of the movie.
    • Neo bending over backward in order to dodge an Agent's bullets, and avoiding all but two of them, is one of the most recognizable shots in the film. It illustrates our Bullet Time page, as it is the overall Trope Codifier. Also famous enough to be the subject of several parodies, with one especially hilarious one in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.
  • The Matrix Reloaded
    • Neo fighting dozens of Smith copies in the park after his meeting with the Oracle is an intense action sequence that's considered the action highlight of the film.
  • Murphy's War: Murphy taking off in the repaired plane, gradually mastering the controls, and then going on a bombing run against the sub is one of the most talked about parts of the movie.
  • Napoleon Dynamite: Napoleon dancing on stage to "Canned Heat" has inspired countless gifs.
  • Pennin Manathai Thottu: The "Kalluri Vaanil" sequence, which spawned the "Benny Lava" meme
  • Pulp Fiction: The entire scene in which Jules interrogates and then executes Brett. Nearly every single part of it is some sort of meme, and even many people who have never seen the movie know it and can quote it extensively due to Pop-Cultural Osmosis.
  • Psycho: The Shower Scene, where Marion Crane gets stabbed to death by Norman Bates, is deeply ingrained in pop culture and can be easily recognized even by people who never watched the film. The brutal and surprising death of the Decoy Protagonist had a powerful impact on audiences, becoming an object of study by cinematographers and psychologists alike, on top of inspiring many homages and parodies in various other works.

    Q to T 
  • Rocky: Rocky's Training Montage run through the streets of Philadelphia, particularly his running up the art museum steps, to the tune of "Gonna Fly Now".
  • Rocky V: Even though the film remains the most forgotten and hated installment, most viewers agree that the climactic street fight between Rocky and Tommy is one of the most memorable fight scenes in the series due to its unique nature and choreography.
  • Rocky Balboa: Rocky's motivational speech to his son has gone down in legend and eclipsed the actual boxing in the movie.
  • Rogue One: Darth Vader massacring several Rebel soldiers in a hallway — which became one of the most acclaimed scenes in the entire Star Wars franchise for its spectacle and display of his power to the extent that Fortnite recreated it in the trailer revealing Vader as a Guest Fighter.
  • A Serbian Film: Newborn Porn. The sheer depravity of the scene is enough to make it stand out in an already extremely violent and controversial film. The scene is essentially the entire reason the film's page is locked.
  • The Seven Year Itch: Marilyn Monroe standing above the subway vent, which subsequently lifts her skirt. It became a stock parody, the Marilyn Maneuver.
  • Summer School: The scene where the class uses horror movie special effects to freak out a replacement teacher holds iconic status in the eyes of many genre fans.
  • S.W.A.T. (2003):
    • The opening hostage standoff and its aftermath are pretty well-known for how it has both fast-paced action and deconstructs an archetypal Cowboy Cop moment with a series of Surprisingly Realistic Outcomes.
    • The scene of a bunch of gang-bangers attack a police convoy to try and spring the captive Montel is familiar even to some people who haven't seen the whole movie due to how strategic and well-armed the gangbangers are and how it is a memorable part of the trailer.
  • Sword Fish: Halle Berry's topless scene which finally made her a star.
  • The Ten Commandments (1956): The parting of the Red Sea. If you know nothing else about Moses, chances are you still know this scene.
  • They/Them (2022): The scene where the gang sings P!nk's "Perfect" is the most famous scene in the movie.
  • Top Gun: Maverick: The enemy fifth-gen fighter pulling an amazing High-Speed Missile Dodge supermaneuver in the climactic dogfight. The said dogfight itself is usually the most searched & viewed clip of the film, and the said scene is guaranteed to be the most replayed part.
  • The Toxic Avenger: The kid getting his head crushed by a speeding car. This scene is often cut from the movie, which has only added to its fame; the DVD actually has a large message on the front cover advertising that the scene is included.
  • Twister: A cow being carried by the tornado. Helped by a memorable reaction line, "I gotta go. We got cows!"

    U to Z 
  • V for Vendetta: Just the image of V at that desk giving his original speech. How iconic is it? It inspired an internet subculture.
  • When Harry Met Sally...: Sally's very public and very loud fake orgasm, widely considered the film's funniest scene, has been parodied so often even people who have never watched it have quoted Estelle Reiner's famous punchline: "I'll have what she's having."
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: The now iconic scene of Eddie falling in Toon Town. Why is it so iconic? It features the first, and probably only time that the two most famous Cartoon Characters in history, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, to share a scene together.
  • The Wind in the Willows (1996): Secret of Survival, being an incredibly catchy Villain Song that also stands out for being a dark scene in a otherwise light hearted film.
  • The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy opening the door and stepping into the technicolor land of Oz, the first major use of Color in film history.
  • Wuthering Heights (1939): The image of Heathcliff and Cathy together on the moors, which is seen on the cover of every home media release of the film.