MOTW: The Five Best Quotes from "Top Gun"

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The hit action drama starring Tom Cruise as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, a daring young flyer who's out to become the best of the best. Kelly McGillis sizzles as the civilian instructor who teaches Maverick a few things you can't learn in a classroom. Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards & Meg Ryan also star.
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
November 6th, 2013

MOTW: The Five Best Quotes from "Top Gun"

"Top Gun" is one of the most beloved cult classics of all time. The film won plenty of awards and received nominations for dozens more, and it also had one of the most popular soundtracks ever recorded. Of course, "Top Gun" wouldn't be a cult classic without a plethora of quotes from its varied cast of unique characters. Below are five of the film's most popular quotes, from "I'll have what he's having" to "too close for missiles, I'm switching to guns." Some of these quotes went on to become immortalized in pop culture while others are only popular among fans of the film, but all of them deserve to be on the list.

"I'll have what he's having. Hemlock, is it?"

This line is uttered by Charlotte Blackwood, also known as Charlie, a civilian contractor who serves as a Top Gun instructor and has an impressive Ph.D. in Astrophysics. Charlie is the love interest of Tom Cruise's character, Lieutenant Pete Mitchell, who usually goes by Maverick. Even though it takes a while for Charlie to warm up to Maverick, their chemistry is obvious from the start, and their dialogue is full of witty banter that is only rivaled by the exchanges between Goose and Maverick. This particular line is followed by Maverick's famous reply: "ice water."

"It's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

This line is another in a long list of exchanges between Charlie and Maverick. It follows a conversation the two have when Charlie asks Maverick if something is wrong. Maverick replies that the data on the MiG is inaccurate, but when Charlie tries to get more information, Maverick explains that it's classified. When pressed, he jokingly utters this famous line. Since then, "I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you" has become a common phrase in everyday language, even though many people have no idea that it was first said in "Top Gun." This line has even been referenced in recent films.

"Good morning, gentlemen, the temperature is 110 degrees."

Even though this quote is not spectacular on its own, it's funny in context. This line is uttered by Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf, the intimidating and sometimes annoying Top Gun chief instructor. Upon hearing Viper's voice over the radio, Maverick's best friend and radar intercept officer, Goose, groans about Viper being in the air with them. Maverick quickly reminds Goose that Viper is probably not particularly excited about working with them, either.

"I feel the need—the need for speed!"

This is one of the most famous "Top Gun" quotes, and it's another that's still quoted to this day by people who have never seen the movie. Maverick and Goose are walking together on the runway when they say this popular quote together, followed by a whoop and a high-five. The witty friendship between the two men is one of the movie's focal points. Eventually, their relationship is cause for heartbreaking drama when tragedy befalls one of them, but they share plenty of truly comedic moments right up until then.

"Too close for missiles, I'm switching to guns."

This popular quote comes at a climactic point in "Top Gun" and is rooted in real aerial combat rules. If a missile is fired when it's too close to the target, it won't have time to arm itself after its launch. Therefore, the missile will either fail to explode or blow up in the face of whoever launched it. Of course, guns can cause explosions as well, especially if fuel is detonated. However, in that case, it's usually possible to fly through the explosion, as opposed to being blown back by the concussion caused by a missile that didn't have time to be properly launched. Most of the scenes in "Top Gun" are true to what they would be like in real life.

"Top Gun" has plenty of other great lines, but these five are considered by many to be the best. Many of them went on to become immortalized in popular culture, especially "I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you." Other lines are still referenced in popular television shows such as "Family Guy," which has paid tribute to "I feel the need—the need for speed!" and other famous quotes from the film. With an all-star cast, an award-winning soundtrack, and remarkable cinematography, it's no wonder "Top Gun" became a cult classic and remains one of the most frequently quoted movies in film history.