In Tom Cruise’s long and impressive career, few movies stand out as much as Top Gun. The 1986 film had Cruise playing Maverick, a skilled and arrogant fighter pilot who competes against the world’s best in the Top Gun flight school. The movie was a fun, energetic 80s movie that helped make Cruise the blockbuster superstar he is today.
There are so many famous scenes and moments that fans remember, but some of the lines are just as memorable as the amazing aerial dogfights that Maverick gets himself into. As the long-awaited sequel approaches, now is a good time to look back on the best quotes from the original Top Gun.
Updated on May 23rd, 2022 by Colin McCormick: Top Gun is a movie that still holds a special place in the hearts of fans all these years later. With the excitement surrounding the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, many of those fans will no doubt be revisiting the original and reliving what they love so much about it. There are even more memorable quotes from the movie that help to highlight what made it such an exciting and iconic experience.
Maverick: “I Thought Of Being An Instructor, Sir.”
As the trailers for Top Gun: Maverick show, the former head of the Top Gun class returns after years away to become an instructor for a new generation of would-be pilots. However, this development was actually teased decades earlier at the end of Top Gun.
After completing the program, the commanding officer asks him what he would like to do next. Instead of going off to save the world, Maverick insists he wants to return as an instructor – as if setting up the sequel that is finally here.
Charlie Evaluates Maverick
Charlie: “So, You’re The One.”
Though anyone who has seen a movie before would be able to predict that Maverick and Charlie will fall for each other by the end, the relationship does start off rather cold. With Charlie as the new intelligence officer lecturing the Top Gun candidates, she is not impressed with Maverick’s arrogant ways.
As he interrupts the lecture to boast about his skills in front of everyone, Charlie challenges that ego. There is the sense that she has seen this kind of arrogance before, and she is willing to wait to see if he is all talk or not.
Maverick: “You Don’t Have Time To Think Up There. You Think, You’re Dead.”
There is often the question in the movie as to whether Maverick’s reckless nature as a pilot is a good quality or a danger. While it feels at times that it comes from Maverick’s arrogance, he does give some insight into how he operates in a cockpit.
Explaining his method to Charlie, Maverick insists that the thing a pilot needs most is good instincts. Given the dangerous situation they find themselves in, Maverick feels that there is no time to think, only to act. That seems to sum up his character perfectly.
Charlie Reminds Everyone Who She Is
Charlie: “The Pentagon Sees To It That I Know More Than You.”
While Charlie might feel like little more than a love interest in the movie, she is given her own strength and authority in the story as well. Having her as the intelligence officer makes it so, that despite the pilots’ skills, she always has a certain power over them.
She is also not afraid to throw this in Maverick’s face when he gets a little too cocky. When he tells her that his impressive flying mission was classified, Charlie points out that there is nothing Maverick is aware of that she doesn’t already know.
Moving On From Tragedy
Viper: “You Gotta Let Him Go.”
Another aspect of the first movie that is being touched on in the sequel is the death of Goose. It is a pivotal moment in the first movie and puts Maverick at a crossroads where his guilt over the accident nearly leads him to quit.
However, Viper is the one who gives him the motivational talk he needs to hear. He explains that it is something he needs to put behind him. However, with Miles Teller playing Goose’s son in Top Gun: Maverick, it seems that loss will be coming back to haunt him.
Maverick’s Reckless Ways
Jester: “That Was Some Of The Best Flying I’ve Seen To Date — Right Up To The Part Where You Got Killed.”
This quote was uttered by Jester, who secretly admired Maverick’s uncanny flying skills, and his ability to think quickly in a high octane situation. However, he was less than impressed with Maverick’s recklessness, which threatened to derail not only his career but the lives of his team.
After his hot-shot attitude is cooled following a loss to Viper and Jester, Maverick is forced to stare down the barrel of reality when Jester accosts him in the changeroom, publicly lauding his flying skills in front of the other pilots, while dealing a critical blow to his ego at the same time.
First Or Last
Slider: “Remember Boys, No Points For Second Place.”
With competition heating up for the TOPGUN trophy, Maverick and Goose are forced to step up their game against Iceman’s team, including the arrogant Slider, who fires off this quote in an attempt to demoralize them.
While Iceman and Slider are keen to win, the former is more concerned with Maverick’s recklessness in the air, a fact which only raises tensions between the two, right up to the point where the unthinkable happens.
Maverick’s Need For Speed
Charlie: “You’re Not Going To Be Happy Unless You’re Going Mach 2 With Your Hair On Fire.”
As Maverick wrestles with his own hot-headed attitude, Charlie attempts to help him reconcile it with his superb flying skills, and find a comfortable middle ground. This quote proves that she wasn’t totally convinced but instead believes Maverick may be too obsessed with flying close to the razor’s edge to change.
It’s a quick, but effective examination that sums up Maverick’s character. That wild approach makes him a bit of a wildcard, but also makes him one of the best action movie heroes of the 80s.
Goose: “Watch The Birdie!”
The introduction to the film sees Maverick and Goose set upon by two aggressive MiG-28s attempting to intimidate U.S. forces. While both sides come dangerously close to firing off a shot, neither is willing to pull the trigger, instead opting to outflank each other in a show of skill and determination.
Maverick decides to up the ante by turning his F-14 Tomcat upside down, directly above the canopy of one of the MiGs. Rather than resort to violence, he simply flips off the opposing pilot and laughs, while Goose takes a polaroid of the encounter and yells out this popular quote.
Scoping Out The Scene
Maverick: “This Is What I Call A Target-Rich Environment.”
Maverick was every bit as arrogant and overcompensating in the air as he was on land. A ladies’ man by nature, his newfound status as a top-grade fighter pilot would certainly have been enough to attract a bountiful amount of attention from the opposite sex.
Upon visiting a bar with Goose, Maverick begins scoping out the lovely ladies before uttering this quote. For all his confidence and bravado, however, Maverick strikes out with the one woman who catches his attention, which is comically ironic, to say the least.
Maverick: “Sorry Goose, But It’s Time To Buzz The Tower.”
Maverick is certainly one of the best pilots in the sky, but he has a reputation for being reckless as well. Sometimes that unorthodox attitude is exactly what the situation needs, but most of the time, it just gets him in trouble.
After accomplishing a flight lesson, Maverick is pumped up and requests a flyby of the tower. Even though he is denied, Maverick has already decided he’s going for it, despite Goose’s protests. It’s a fun moment that shows the rebellious attitude of Maverick that he cannot help but get himself in trouble.
The Big Romantic Move
Maverick: “She’s Lost That Loving Feeling.”
Aside from all the excitement of the flight school, Top Gun also succeeds with its compelling romance. Maverick sets his sights on Charlie (Kelly McGillis) in a bar, unaware that she is actually one of his instructors at the school. But just like in the skies, Maverick has a unique approach to his targets.
As he and Goose discuss how he’ll woo this beautiful woman, Maverick says “She’s lost that loving feeling” which Goose is not happy about. They proceed to sing the Righteous Brothers’ famous song before the entire bar joins in. It’s a cheesy but undeniably fun moment.
An Unbelievable Story
Maverick: “Because I Was Inverted.”
Very early on in the film, Maverick shows just how skilled of a pilot he is. And at the same moment, he also shows what an arrogant yet likable hotshot he is, which helped Cruise become a breakout star. After some enemy planes fly into the wrong airspace, Maverick is one of the pilots sent to steer them away.
Things get tense as the enemy pilots seem to get aggressive. However, Maverick is unafraid and decides to have some fun with them. He inverts his plane and flies upside down before taking a picture of the enemy. He later proudly tells the class which succeeds in getting Charlie’s attention.
Maverick’s Wing Man
Maverick: “Talk To Me, Goose.”
A lot of the heart in the film comes from the friendship between Maverick and Goose. Though Maverick might have some problems with other pilots, Goose trusts him and he is the perfect sidekick for him. This makes it all the more devastating when Goose dies in an accident.
During their many intense flying exercises, Maverick uses his catchphrase “Talk to me, Goose.” It is a reminder that Maverick still relies on his partner. After Goose’s death, Maverick says the same thing, looking for the guidance he needs in combat. It’s a touching reminder of what they meant to each other.
Carole: “Take Me To Bed, Or Lose Me Forever.”
Top Gun arguably introduced a lot of big names in small roles. One of the most recognizable faces that pop up is Meg Ryan in her big-screen debut. Ryan plays Carole, Goose’s fun and energetic wife.
Though it is not a large role, Ryan shows off a lot of the charm and humor that would soon make her a big star in the movie business. As Goose and Maverick double-date, Carole, yells to her dear husband, “Take me to bed, or lose me forever.” It’s a goofy line, but Ryan knows how to sell it, so we’re laughing with her.
A New Wingman
Viper: “I’ll Fly With You.”
Though Maverick strives to be the best pilot around, he has to compete with Viper (Tom Skerrit), the head instructor of Top Gun school. While Viper is hard on Maverick and calls him out for his mistakes, he sees the potential in the young man.
After Goose’s death, it is Viper who convinces Maverick that he needs to get back in the cockpit and continue. After graduating, Maverick is given his first assignment and told he will be assigned a new partner. But Viper says Maverick could call him if he needs one, saying “I’ll fly with you.“
Maverick Vs Iceman
Maverick: “I Am Dangerous.”
Maverick’s rival in the Top Gun school is Iceman (Val Kilmer) and he makes for a great 80s movie villain, albeit a likable one. Iceman is the complete opposite of Maverick, flying by the book and showing tremendous patience while up in the air. He sees Maverick’s reckless behavior as a liability in the sky.
As the two butt heads, Iceman calls Maverick dangerous. Maverick snaps back, “That’s right, Ice…Man, I am dangerous.” Cruise’s delivery and the way he and Kilmer play off each other make this a great and memorable faceoff, cementing their compelling rivalry.
On Dangerous Ground
Stinger: “Son, Your Ego Is Writing Checks Your Body Can’t Cash.”
One of the most entertaining clichés in 80s action movies is the tough authority figure who always chews out hotshots for their reckless behavior. Top Gun continues this tradition with Stinger, Maverick and Goose’s superior officer, who gives them a verbal berating after pulling another of their stunts.
As Stinger breaks down all of Maverick’s accomplishments, he quickly follows up by pointing out all the times he screwed up. In a classic boss line, he tells Maverick “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” Not only is it funny, but it actually sums up Maverick pretty well.
Burying The Hatchet
Iceman: “You Can Be My Wingman Any Time.”
Though Maverick and Iceman are enemies at first, it’s clear they have a lot in common. They are both arrogant and think they are the best around, so it’s natural they would butt heads. But all that changes when the two pilots have to work together in a real dogfight.
While Iceman is still not confident in Maverick as a team player, Maverick pulls through, taking out the enemies and saving Iceman. Back on the ground, Iceman finally admits Maverick is a good pilot, telling him “You can be my wingman any time.” Maverick responds, “Bulls***. You can be mine.”
The Iconic Line
Maverick: “I Feel The Need…The Need For Speed!”
There is no line as iconic as this in the entire movie. As Maverick and Goose prepare to take to the skies again, they pump themselves up with this mantra, “I feel the need…the need for speed!”
Sure, it’s a bit corny, but it also gets the energy going. These are the kind of guys that live for that adrenaline rush. It is also an appropriate summation of Tom Cruise’s personality in general as he always seems to be striving to go bigger and faster with his movies – something he looks to continue in Top Gun: Maverick.
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