This article is part of a special StarWars.com series in honor of Star Wars‘ 40th anniversary on May 25.
Forty years after Star Wars first inspired a generation of moviegoers, the universe George Lucas built in his imagination is more relevant than ever. Its story of triumph over evil, of a hero’s tragic fall and eventual redemption, has become an inextricable part of our culture. It’s rare to find somebody who’s never seen a Star Wars film — altogether impossible to imagine someone who’s never encountered the saga secondhand through references or quotations. It continues to enthrall audiences the world over. Four decades after Artoo first set out across the Tatooine desert in search of Obi-Wan Kenobi, StarWars.com looks back some of the most memorable lines the films and TV shows have to offer. Here are 40: one for each incredible year of Star Wars.
A NEW HOPE
1. “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” — Leia Organa
Carrie Fisher and George Lucas immortalized the character of Princess Leia with this memorable, iconic line. It will forever be synonymous with both Leia and the series as a whole; there’s no telling how many times it’s been referenced or quoted throughout popular culture. Fisher herself famously parodied the line in her Emmy-nominated guest appearance on the sitcom 30 Rock in 2007.
2. “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” — Darth Vader
If you plan on joining the Empire, just remember: it’s probably unwise to mock the religion of someone who can strangle you to death with their mind.
3. “It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs. I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers, mind you. I’m talking about the big Corellian ships, now. She’s fast enough for you, old man.” — Han Solo
This oft-cited quote is the legendary Han Solo in a nutshell, combining his roguish arrogance with the fact that he can usually back up his confident words with actions.
4. “The Force will be with you. Always.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
These are old Ben’s final words to Luke before being cut down by Darth Vader, and he repeats them immediately after the film’s climactic space battle.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
5. “Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” — Leia Organa
As far as Star Wars insults go, this one takes the cake. No contest.
6. “Never tell me the odds!” — Han Solo
“You go into a dark room with a bunch of strangers and a good sound system, and you have an opportunity to come out seeing a recognition of your common humanity,” Harrison Ford told Rolling Stone. “Maybe it’s escapism, maybe it sticks to you a little bit. Maybe that’s why you go back, and that’s why stories are important. They’re helping us interpret the world we live in. They help us to have the courage to deal with the complexity of our lives.”
7. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
Yoda “speaks more toward a person’s soul,” Frank Oz said in a 2015 interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “Performing Yoda is a tremendous responsibility, and I love being a part of it. It is extraordinary to see how passionate fans are over the years.”
8. “No. I am your father.” — Darth Vader
The Empire Strikes Back’s climactic twist is central to the original trilogy’s enduring legacy.
RETURN OF THE JEDI
9. “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will you be. The Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned.” — Yoda
Some of the last words spoken by Yoda, they were riveting, answering questions and opening the door to others at the same time.
10. “I’ll never turn to the dark side. You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” — Luke Skywalker
Defiant, confident. The culmination of Luke Skywalker’s journey.
11. “Now, young Skywalker, you will die.” — Emperor Palpatine
Ian McDiarmid went on to play Palpatine in five of the first six Star Wars films, but it all began with his haunting turn as the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. “He’s a bit of a mystery,” McDiarmid said recently at Star Wars Celebration. “I saw this face that they created in front of me, literally, and the yellow eyes, and I thought he looked like a sort of revolting reptile of some kind — a kind of toad.”
12. “Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes.” — Anakin Skywalker
(I’m not crying; you’re crying.)
13. “There’s always a bigger fish.” — Qui-Gon Jinn
Qui-Gon Jinn’s offbeat worldview grates on the Jedi Council, but he’s as charming as he is wise, and this one-liner does a good job of illustrating his monkish brand of humility.
14. “In time, the suffering of your people will persuade you to see our point of view.” — Nute Gunray
Viceroy Nute Gunray is merely a puppet of the Sith throughout the prequel trilogy, but his dialogue in The Phantom Menace reveals the depths of his wickedness.
15. “You can’t stop the change, any more than you can stop the suns from setting.” — Shmi Skywalker
Shmi Skywalker’s admonition has great mythic significance; the forces of destiny are already in motion. The image of the binary suns setting recalls the finest shot in A New Hope, with Luke looking to the horizon, and — in retrospect — symbolizes that their time together, as mother and son, has essentially come to an end.
16. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” — Yoda
There’s plenty of great dialogue in The Phantom Menace, but this is the line everyone seems to remember best. Perhaps that’s because it’s such a signature Frank Oz performance. And, of course, it’s yet another powerful allusion to Skywalker’s transformation into Vader.
ATTACK OF THE CLONES
17. “Well, if droids could think, there’d be none of us here, would there?” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
This line exemplifies Kenobi’s playful sense of humor, but also speaks to his wisdom.
18. “We must keep our faith in the Republic. The day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.” — Queen Jamillia
Another minor character gives voice to the greater thematic richness of the saga. This also directly foreshadows the rise of the Empire.
19. “I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.” — Jango Fett
Almost every Star Wars fan loves the Fetts, and Jango’s best line perfectly sums up their mercenary, spaghetti-Western outlook.
20. “What if I told you that the Republic was now under the control of a Dark Lord of the Sith?” — Count Dooku
Christopher Lee’s performance as Dooku is unforgettable, and this line serves as a perfect warning of the devastation about to befall the galaxy in the years of the Clone Wars.
REVENGE OF THE SITH
21. “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” — Chancellor Palpatine
Here, we find Palpatine carefully sowing the seeds of Anakin’s fall.
22. “Power! Unlimited power!” — Darth Sidious
Restraint is Darth Sidious’ most important tool; it’s the only mask he needs in order to hide behind his role as the scheming Chancellor Palpatine. One of Revenge of the Sith’s greatest joys is when he takes that mask off — just long enough to show Vader the vast potential of the dark side.
23. “So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause.” — Padmé Amidala
Palpatine’s master plan comes to fruition.
24. “You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
Fittingly enough, the best line in Revenge of the Sith is also its most sorrowful.
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS
25. “To die for one’s people is a great sacrifice. To live for one’s people, an even greater sacrifice. I choose to live for my people.” — Riyo Chuchi (Season One, Episode 15, “Trespass”)
Riyo Chuchi is a minor character who nevertheless gets one of the very best lines in all of Star Wars. Her struggle mirrors that of Padmé Amidala, while also reinforcing the prequel trilogy’s key theme of leadership.
26. “You are the Chosen One. You have brought balance to this world. Stay on this path, and you will do it again for the galaxy. But beware your heart.” — The Father (Season Three, Episode 17, “Ghosts of Mortis”)
Anakin’s journey to the spiritual realm of Mortis foretells two versions of his fate: one in which he fulfills the ancient prophecy Qui-Gon Jinn spoke of in The Phantom Menace — and one in which he succumbs to the dark side.
27. “Remember, my dear Obi-Wan. I’ve loved you always. I always will.” — Duchess Satine Kryze (Season Five, Episode 16, “The Lawless”)
This is the emotional climax of the entire Clone Wars series. Satine, a pacifist, represents all the lives that were needlessly lost in the three-year conflict.
28. “The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed. But from the ashes of their destruction, I was the last survivor. I chose to pass my knowledge on to only one. I created a legacy so resilient that now you come before me.” — Darth Bane (Season Six, Episode 13, “Sacrifice”)
Darth Bane was the ancient Sith Lord who instituted the Rule of Two, as described by Yoda in The Phantom Menace: “Always two there are — a master and an apprentice.”
STAR WARS REBELS
29. “The Sith took everything from me. Ripped me from my mother’s arms, murdered my brother, used me as a weapon, and then cast me aside. Abandoned me. Once, I had power — now I have nothing.” — Maul (Season Two, Episode 21, “Twilight of the Apprentice”)
Maul is a tragic figure, despite some of the dark deeds he’s committed over the years, and Sam Witwer’s performance as “Old Master” in Star Wars Rebels is particularly moving.
30. “I am no Jedi.” — Ahsoka Tano (Season Two, Episode 21, “Twilight of the Apprentice”)
Less is sometimes more with dialogue, and this example is a defining quote from Ahsoka Tano. Like her master, Ahsoka ultimately found that the Jedi Order no longer met her needs, but she later became a vital asset for the Rebellion.
31. “An object cannot make you good or evil. The temptation of power, forbidden knowledge, even the desire to do good can lead some down that path. But only you can change yourself.” — Bendu (Season Three, Episode 1, “Steps into Shadow”)
Tom Baker’s Bendu is one of the standout voice-over performances in a show that’s full of brilliant actors and characters. This explanation of his unique view of the Force makes for a memorable introduction.
32. “If you define yourself by your power to take life, your desire to dominate, to possess, then you have nothing.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi (Season Three, Episode 20, “Twin Suns”)
Kenobi and Maul are reunited years after the Clone Wars to find themselves world-weary from decades of war and suffering. The difference, as old Ben points out, is in how Maul chooses to deal with his pain.
THE FORCE AWAKENS
33. “The garbage’ll do!” — Rey
A callback to Luke’s reaction to first seeing the Falcon in A New Hope (“What a piece o’ junk!”), this is one of the funniest moments in The Force Awakens.
34. “Chewie, we’re home.” — Han Solo
(There’s something in my eye.)
35. “You know, no matter how much we fought, I’ve always hated watching you leave.” — Leia Organa
Here’s one of the saga’s greatest Han-and-Leia exchanges. Anyone who’s read Claudia Gray’s Bloodline knows just how bittersweet their relationship became after Return of the Jedi, given Leia’s duties within the New Republic Senate. She and Han were never destined for a quiet, ordinary life together.
36. “Oh, my dear friend. How I’ve missed you.” — C-3PO
Threepio says what we’re all thinking as R2-D2 finally awakens after a long slumber — it’s a line that also symbolizes the audience’s feelings about reuniting with Han, Luke, and Leia.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
37. “I’m one with the Force. The Force is with me.” — Chirrut Îmwe
The Force resides within all living creatures — not just the Jedi and the Sith. Chirrut embodies that idea through his deeply religious life on Jedha.
38. “Every time I walked away from something I wanted to forget, I told myself it was for a cause that I believed in. A cause that was worth it. Without that, we’re lost.” — Cassian Andor
Cassian shows Jyn Erso what it means to devote yourself to a worthy cause.
39. “Jyn, I’ll be there for you. Cassian said I had to.” — K-2SO
Alan Tudyk’s performance imbues the character — and the entirety of Rogue One — with a great sense of humor.
40. “Hope.” — Leia Organa
Who knew a single word could carry such dramatic weight? Sound editor Matthew Wood dug deep into Lucasfilm’s archives to find all of Carrie Fisher’s original 1977 takes of Leia’s famous message to Obi-Wan Kenobi from A New Hope, and the best instance of “hope” brought Rogue One’s last shot to life, and Star Wars full circle.
What are some of your all-time favorite quotes? Is there one we left out that should’ve made the cut? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!
Alex Kane’s work has appeared in Glixel, Kill Screen, Upload, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.