15 Best Don Corleone Quotes


  • Don Corleone’s iconic quotes from The Godfather have solidified his status as one of the most recognizable movie characters of all time.
  • Don Corleone is a complex character, displaying both wisdom and darker aspects, and his quotes offer insight into his mindset and values.
  • The Godfather movies owe much of their praise and cultural impact to Marlon Brando’s unforgettable portrayal of Don Corleone and his inimitable delivery of the character’s quotes.

Don Corleone quotes from The Godfather have added to his status as one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable movie characters of all time. Whether mimicking his famous jawline or his distinctive raspy voice, Vito Corleone is easy to imitate thanks to how clearly defined Marlon Brando makes the character, although Robert De Niro in the film’s sequel certainly did Brando’s timeless performance justice. Many of the best Don Corleone quotes from The Godfather have become cemented into popular culture, and this is thanks in no small part to Brando’s inimitable delivery.

While certainly a reprehensible character in many respects, Don Corleone is also undeniably wise and incredibly intelligent, eventually helping the Corleone family to achieve victory over their enemies. Some Don Corleone quotes offer sound life advice, others hint at the darker side of the character, and others highlight how important family is to him. Looking at his most memorable quotes is a reminder of the complexity that makes Don Corleone such an iconic character in cinema history — and arguably a key reason the Godfather movies are so lauded.

The Godfather is available to stream on Showtime.

Related: Every Godfather Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

15 “I Have A Sentimental Weakness For My Children, And I Spoil Them, As You Can See. They Talk When They Should Listen.”

Don Corleone Silences Sonny

Many of the awful things that happened in The Godfather might have been averted if Sonny Corleone (James Caan) had learned to control himself. During the first meeting with Virgil Sollozzo (Al Lettieri), Vito turned down his proposal to go into business, but Sonny interrupted when he thought the Tattaglias would guarantee their potential investment and Vito swiftly silenced him. Sonny is a tough man, but Vito reduces Sonny to an embarrassed child with this demeaning explanation to Sollozzo. Vito is not a man who raises his voice often, but he is able to command total authority with his gentle tone.

RELATED: How Old Marlon Brando Was In The Godfather (Compared To Don Corleone)

14 “Never Tell Anyone Outside the Family What You’re Thinking.”

Don Corleone Warns About Talking Too Much

Sonny Corleone looking intently at something off-camera in The Godfather.

While Don Corleone humiliates Sonny in the middle of the meeting, the verbal put-down was not enough of a reprimand in his mind. He then lectures Sonny on how he opened himself up too much while in the presence of outsiders. It is a compelling quote that offers some interesting insight into Vito as a crime boss. Seeing how he reacts to Sonny’s excitable outburst gives new context to his quiet and reserved behavior. Vito doesn’t want to give his potential enemies any more information than he needs to, keeping everything closed off. It also shows that, in Vito’s mind, anyone who is not in the family is a potential threat.

13 “That Is Not Justice, Your Daughter Is Still Alive.”

Don Corleone Turns Down Bonasera’s Plea For Vengeance

Vito Corleone meeting with Bonesara in The Godfather

In contrast to the rashness of Sonny Corneole’s short-lived era, Don Vito is shown to be a very wise authority figure. This is quickly shown in his introductory scene, in which Vito declines the request of Amerigo Bonasera (Salvatore Corsitto) to kill the men who attacked his daughter. Though Vito’s rationale may seem cold, there is a logic behind it. Vito is a man who operates in a violent business, but he understands that violence without cause is bad for business. It is a rational and humane view that sets the stage for how dramatically the family business and its ideals will change once Vito is no longer the one in charge.

12 “You Can Act Like A Man! What’s The Matter With You?”

Don Corleone Sets Johnny Straight

Vito Corleone talking to Johnny Fontane in The Godfather

When his godson Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) came to him for help in acquiring a movie role, Vito wasn’t in the mood to see the man blubbering before him. Suddenly springing up, Vito yelled in Johnny’s face to take charge of the situation rather than wallow in his sorrows and come to him like a child. Johnny was clearly playing the situation up to gain sympathy, but it was also obvious that Vito understood this, which was why he was so harsh with his godson. Vito would do anything for his family except play the fool. This Don Corneole quote is a rare show of emotion from the man, showing how little he tolerates such behavior.

11 “Whoever Comes To You With This Barzini Meeting, He’s The Traitor. Don’t Forget That.”

Don Corleone Offers Michael A Final Piece Of Advice

Vito Corleone talking to Michael in The Godfather

By the time Michael (Al Pacino) had been placed as the head of the Corleone family, the situation was dire for the main characters. Michael was clearly being set up to be assassinated, but the remaining family had no idea who it would be to betray them and seal his fate. Even though he was near death by then, Vito can still read the situation and offers Michael the advice that saves his life. This The Godfather quote represents a bittersweet moment of Vito accepting that Michael is going down a criminal path, but ensuring that he can do all that he can to help him succeed as the new don.

RELATED: Every Mobster Who Betrayed Michael Corleone In The Godfather

10 “I Never Wanted This For You.”

Don Corleone Sees Michael Take Over

The final scene between Vito and Michael is a quiet yet powerful one that sets up so much for the rest of the movie and the Godfather franchise. As the two men acknowledge the danger ahead that Michael will have to deal with, Vito admits to Michael that he wanted something better for his son than this criminal life. While he knew Sonny and Fredo were destined to follow him, he thought Michael could be something more prestigious or important. It is a realization for the man who is close to death that he failed his son and the legacy he had in mind for the Corleone family which is made more heartbreaking given the dark path Michael goes down.

9 “Now You Come To Me And You Say, ‘Don Corleone, Give Me Justice.’ But You Don’t Ask With Respect, You Don’t Offer Friendship.”

Don Corleone Demands Respect

Vito Corleone talking to Bonasera in The Godfather

Part of the reason why Vito doesn’t give Bonasera any leeway in their discussion at the beginning of the movie is that this is Bonasera’s first real interaction with the Don, and it is to ask him to commit an act that Bonasera would not do himself. It’s frequently stated through The Godfather that Vito Corleone’s real power is his political pull, meaning that he understands the power of leverage, favors, and respect above all else. When he senses that Bonasera has no respect for him, and views him simply as a common criminal, he knows that he has to set the record straight before they can move forward.

8 “We’re Not Murderers in Spite of What This Undertaker Thinks.”

Don Corleone Is Insulted By Bonasera

Don Corleone wearing a suit and sitting in The Godfather.

Don Corleone has built an empire and taken a seat of power for himself, but while there are those who come to him looking for help, he still seems to resent the world seeing him as a criminal. After Bonasera leaves his office, he continues to show that he is insulted by the request to murder his daughter’s attackers, dismissing Bonasera as a mere “undertaker” yet showing that the insinuation wounded him. It speaks to the way Vito had bigger plans for his family, especially Michael, hoping that there would be a day when the Corleone name would be one that commanded respect instead of just fear.

RELATED: The Godfather Cast Guide: Where Are They Now

7 “It Doesn’t Make Any Difference To Me What A Man Does For A Living. But Your Business, Is… A Little Dangerous.”

Don Corleone Stays Out Of The Drug Business

Vito Corleone talking to Sollozzo in The Godfather

The main conflict with The Godfather stems from Vito’s refusal to go into business with Sollozzo and to deal with drugs in general, effectively keeping the Corleones in what many of the other bosses see as the past. Although Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) and Sonny attempted to tell Vito that the real money was in drugs, Vito refused to take the Family into that kind of business. Whether he’s being stubborn or wise, this Don Corleone quote shows that Vito was always right, as the narcotics trade inspires a bloody gang war.

6 “A Man Who Doesn’t Spend Time With His Family Can Never Be A Real Man.”

Don Corelone Teaches His Son About Family

Though Vito loved all his children equally, he held a certain amount of contempt for Sonny for not following the principles Vito had taught him. Vito was a character who always believed in being a loyal family man. When he saw that Sonny had been playing around with his mistress on the day of Connie’s (Talia Shire) wedding, Vito took a jab at him. As far as Vito was concerned, the true mark of a man was how he treated his loved ones through thick and thin, and even if his methods were sometimes disagreeable, it is a sentiment that speaks to the best qualities in Vito.

5 “Some Day, And That Day May Never Come, I Will Call Upon You To Do A Service For Me.”

Don Corleone Names His Price

Vito Corleone with his arm around Bonasera in The Godfather

The real genius behind Vito’s interaction with Bonasera at the beginning of the movie is that all Vito really wants, in the end, is to get Bonasera in his debt. Vito’s understanding of interpersonal relationships is what makes him such an effective Don, and he treats his relationship with Bonasera the same way that he does any of his business relationships, as a means to an end. Bonasera doesn’t walk away with exactly what he wants, but Vito agrees to enough of his wishes to guarantee Bonasera’s loyalty, and Don Corleone skillfully adds another ally to his back pocket to use when he needs them.

RELATED: The Godfather’s Famous Wedding Day Scene Made Up 1 Tradition For The Movie

4 “I Think It’s Time You Told Your Don What Everyone Else Seems To Know.”

Don Corleone Learns Of Sonny’s Death

Vito Corleone discuses Nevada investments with his Consigliere in The Godfather

Seeing how in control and commanding Don Corleone is in the early scenes of the movie, it is quite impactful to see how he is rendered weak following the attempt on his life. Vito disappears from the movie for a portion as the responsibilities pass to Sonny, but following Sonny’s death, he tries to take back some of that power. Calling Tom into his room, Vito notes that his wife is crying and cars are coming and going. He knows there is something they are not telling him and he knows it is bad. It is a sad moment of Vito accepting he has vulnerabilities, but appealing to Tom to remember he is still the don.

3 “Is Vengeance Going To Bring Your Son Back To You Or My Boy To Me?”

Don Corleone Proposes Peace

Vito Corleone with Tom Hagen meeting the bosses in The Godfather

During the meeting between the heads of the families, Vito made the first move toward peace, pointing out that no one was in a place to gain anything from the gang war that had been going on. Vito gave a simple but impactful statement that the path of vengeance would bring no rewards and though it’s a wise statement it also serves as a reminder that Vito is not as gentle as he appears. Both Vito and Michael care deeply about Sonny’s death, even if they don’t show it, and they never forgive it. Vito is really stalling as the Corleones put themselves into a better position to avenge Sonny and take back control.

2 “Look How They Massacred My Boy.”

Don Corleone Mourns Sonny

Vito cries as he sees Sonny’s dead body in The Godfather

Don Corleone commands any room he is in with barely a whisper thanks to his total control over his emotions. Seeing him reprimand Sonny and Johnny for showing too much of what they are feeling highlights how much he is concerned with keeping all that bottled up inside. That makes his reaction to seeing Sonny’s body all the more devastating. Though he attempts to be the same decisive man in this moment, he breaks down at the sight of his firstborn dead in front of him. Marlon Brando’s amazing performance in the scene shows a new side of Vito that makes him more human than ever.

1 “I’m Gonna Make Him An Offer He Can’t Refuse.”

Don Corleone Makes A Deal

Vito Corleone sitting at his desk in The Godfather

This is not only the most famous Don Corleone quote but also the most famous quote from The Godfather. The term is almost a catchphrase within the Corleone family as Michael mentions the term to Kay (Diane Keaton) before Vito even says it in the movie. The “offer” is of course to do what the Corleones ask or meet a swift and sudden death. It is another instance of the movie removing Vito from the harsher elements of the business but fully condoning them. The matter-of-fact way he delivers this quote makes it sound like a generous offer while Vito is well aware of the threat behind the offer.

The Godfather Poster

The Godfather

Release Date
March 24, 1972

Francis Ford Coppola

Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, James Caan, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall


175 minutes

Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola

Paramount Pictures

  • The Godfather Poster

    The Godfather

    Release Date:

    Francis Ford Coppola

    Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, James Caan, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall


    175 minutes

    Drama, Crime

    Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola

    The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

    $6 million

    Paramount Pictures


    The Godfather Part II, The Godfather Part III

    The Godfather

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