30 Most Memorable Quotes From The Rambo Franchise


Summary

  • Rambo’s evolution from a thoughtful veteran to an over-the-top action hero is highlighted through his memorable quotes.
  • The quotes reveal Rambo’s inner struggle and his life as a killing machine.
  • Other characters’ quotes emphasize Rambo’s iconic status as one of Stallone’s best roles and the complex nature of his character.


John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is a man of few words, but there have been many memorable Rambo quotes over the course of the franchise. The Rambo movies had an unexpected evolution, starting with 1982’s First Blood, which was a more thoughtful and not overly violent examination of a Vietnam veteran dealing with PTSD and pushing back against the small-town police who harass him. However, from there, the movie exploded into an over-the-top and bombastic action movie franchise that cemented Rambo as one of the best action heroes of all time.

The best Rambo quotes highlight these different aspects of the character, showing the pained and tragic hero as well as the one-man army. Though Rambo likes to let his actions do the talking, he has delivered some unforgettable lines that speak to his inner struggle and his life as a killing machine. There are also a number of quotes from other characters that further highlight what an iconic character John Rambo is, making for one of Stallone’s best roles.

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30 “You Did Everything To Make This Private War Happen.”

Trautman – First Blood (1982)

First Blood is a very toned-down version of the novel by David Morrell and presents Rambo as a much more likable and understandable protagonist. However, the novel shows that, while the police were wrong to harass Rambo in this way, his violent and brutal reaction was also his fault and he deserves blame as well. The movie hints at this only slightly in a memorable line from Rambo’s superior officer, Trautman, who insists Rambo played a role in igniting the fighting, suggesting he might have been looking for an excuse to return to war.

Where To Watch First Blood

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29 “Who Are You, Boatman?”

Lewis – Rambo (2008)

Rambo using a machine gun in Rambo 2008

After 20 years since Rambo III, the franchise seemed to have ended, only for Stallone to return to the iconic character in 2008’s Rambo. The movie initially finds Rambo living in isolation in Thailand only to get swept up in another mission. Serving as transportation for a group of mercenaries, they initially don’t think much of this “boatman.” However, the moment Rambo has to leap into action, they all begin to look at him differently and see the monster hiding beneath this silent man.

28 “In The Field We Had A Code of Honor. You Watch My Back, I Watch Yours. Back Here There’s Nothing!”

John Rambo – First Blood (1982)

First Blood is not just a thrilling action movie, but also an interesting commentary on Vietnam veterans. Though Rambo experienced torture and brutality in war that haunted him for the rest of his life, there is a tragedy in that he also felt more comfortable there than back home. He feels abandoned and as if no one is looking out for him now that he is back. It is a sad reality that reflects a real-life struggle that many veterans experience when being unable to get the support they need.

27 “I Didn’t Come To Rescue Rambo From You. I Came Here To Rescue You From Him.”

Trautman – First Blood (1982)

Colonel Trautman in Rambo First Blood

Colonel Trautman is a recurring character in the Rambo movies and one of the few people who looks out for Rambo. However, while he respects his former soldier and the skills he has, he also understands how dangerous he is. Trautman is introduced in First Blood as he comes to help the police in pursuit of him. Upon learning his connection to Rambo, Teasle warns Trautman not to interfere. However, Trautman points out the truth that Teasle has failed to realize yet — Rambo is not the one who needs saving.

26 “You Picked The Wrong Man To Push.”

Trautman – First Blood (1982)

rambo-2-murdock-ending

While Trautman wants to help stop Rambo before anyone else gets hurt, he does not see himself as an ally to the police. In fact, he immediately knows Rambo is not the one at fault and discovers Teasle was harassing the veteran, which led to him fighting back. After criticizing Teasle for his lack of judgment, he reiterates what Teasle himself has gradually been learning, that he should have just left the young man alone. He ended up learning the hard way.

25 “When You’re Pushed, Killing’s As Easy As Breathing.”

John Rambo – Rambo (2008)

2008’s Rambo is an exciting and action-packed ride, but the movie also carries a lot of the tragedy of the character. That is one of the ways the Rambo franchise has been so unique, as it is able to deliver the pulse-pounding thrills genre fans expect while also reflecting on how this bloody carnage affects the action hero. After the warrior in him is reawakened, Rambo delivers this line, which is a memorable set-up for the action-packed finale. However, it is also sad to think that side of him was quiet for so long and now he returns to it with ease.

24 “Don’t Waste Your Life, I Did. Go Home.”

John Rambo – Rambo (2008)

Though he is one of the most effective killing machines in action movie history, Rambo stands apart from being a completely reluctant hero. He is good at killing, but he also knows what it has cost him as if it were a poison slowly eating away at him. When one of the missionaries comes to him to ask for his help, he warns her against exposing herself to such violence and evil. He reflects that his life has been wasted dedicating himself to war, further making his return to violence a layered moment.

23 “Maybe You’ve Lost Your Faith In People. But You Must Still Be Faithful To Something.”

Sarah – Rambo (2008)

Rambo 2008 Rambo 4 Sylvester Stallone pose

Rambo is found to be a very cynical man when reintroduced in Rambo, but that does not mean he has lost his humanity altogether. There is always something inside of Rambo that, no matter how dark and violent he becomes, is always looking out for other people. The missionary recognizes this in him, guessing that there is something Rambo still cares about. In the end, it is seeing justice done that he cares about the most, making him willing to help the helpless.

22 “F*** The World.”

John Rambo – Rambo (2008)

rambo 2008 deleted scene

Rambo is not someone who likes to speak unless he has to, which makes for some hilariously blunt moments in the movies. There are not too many funny Rambo quotes and this one is perhaps not an intentional bit of comedy, but it is easy to get a laugh from it. There is a humorous juxtaposition between the optimistic missionaries who have so much faith in the world and Rambo, whose thoughts on the world are summed up in this unsubtle way.

21 “This Is What It Feels Like!”

John Rambo – Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

While Rambo may not be subtle with his words, he is even less so with his actions. Last Blood is the most personal mission for the warrior and his only remaining family, his niece, is killed by a drug lord in Mexico. It is a painful loss for Rambo who has so few people in his life. This builds to the epic moment Rambo gets to face off with the villain and decides to show him what that sort of pain feels like. He then cuts into the man’s chest and literally pulls out his heart.

20 “Why Are You Pushing Me?”

John Rambo – First Blood (1982)

Rambo vs. Teasle in First Blood

The opening act of First Blood begins with Sherriff Teasle harassing Rambo after he inadvertently strolls through his town. A passive Rambo tries to keep a low profile without bothering anyone, but Teasle clearly has other ideas on his mind, such as forcing him to move along. Having broken no laws, Rambo asks Teasle this question, which provokes a negative response from the latter. It’s the first real escalation between the two, but it isn’t long before the conflict spirals out of control, and turns a nice little town into a war zone. There is a sadness in how Stallone delivers the line, as it suggests Rambo knows where this will lead and just wants to be left alone.

19 “I’m Gonna Tear You Apart.”

John Rambo – Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

Like any action hero, John Rambo has uttered a handful of threatening one-liners to his enemies in the past. In some instances, Rambo uttered these threats seconds before killing his target, while other times he waited until the majority of the movie had passed before making good on his promise. Last Blood provides another great example as he makes this grisly promise to the villains. It shows that, unlike some heroes of the genre, Rambo is not one to use clever quips and prefers to get right down to the point.

18 “Whatever Possessed God In Heaven To Make A Man Like Rambo?”

Teasle – First Blood (1982)

Teasle meets Trautman in First Blood

John Rambo is a very specific type of man. He didn’t have much of a direction in life before enlisting in the Vietnam War, where he became a lethal killing machine. Teasle rhetorically asked this question when the hunt for Rambo became one gigantic small-town mess, prompting Colonel Trautman to interject with “God didn’t make Rambo. I made him.” It was the first example of the government’s role in creating Rambo and teaching him how to survive in the worst of conditions, only for those skills to be used against America’s own forces. Trautman says this line with a mix of pride and regret for what he created.

17 “Sir, Do We Get To Win This Time?”

John Rambo – Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985)

Rambo talks to Trautman in First Blood Part II

At the beginning of Rambo: First Blood Part II, when Col. Trautman approaches Rambo with a mission to head back to Vietnam and free some prisoners of war, Rambo is understandably skeptical. Having been denied a victory in Vietnam before, he asked this poignant question to Trautman. This was a reference to the fact that America never actually lost the Vietnam War, but rather, was denied a victory by the current government at that time. Essentially, American soldiers were forced to withdraw from a grueling campaign, adding to the conflict’s unpopularity with the American public.

16 “I Will Fight To Keep Their Memory Alive Forever.”

John Rambo – Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

Rambo in a walking chair in Last Blood

Though Rambo is not a man who likes to talk very much, he does usually find the time for a monologue in each of the movies. The final moments of Last Blood brought perhaps the character’s most poignant one yet. Rambo admits to himself that he is a broken man who never returned home, but that he fights now for the memories of his loved ones. If Last Blood is the final entry in the franchise, it is a line that returns Rambo to his beginnings as a truly tragic character who keeps the fight alive within him even when he knows victory is impossible.

15 “Got Himself Killed In ‘Nam, Didn’t Even Know It. Cancer Ate Him Down To The Bone.”

John Rambo – First Blood (1982)

Rambo talks to Trautman over the walkie

The beginning of First Blood finds Rambo tracking down his old Vietnam War buddy to catch up on old times, but he immediately gets some bad news. That soldier had died of cancer after being exposed to the various chemicals used in the war, particularly Agent Orange. As Rambo explains to Trautman later in the movie, he is the last of his old platoon, which gives a hint of his fragile mind. He sees his friend gradually dying away back home and perhaps realizes he would rather meet his end back in the war.

14 “Old Men Start It, Young Men Fight It, Nobody Wins, Everybody In The Middle Dies, And Nobody Tells The Truth!”

John Rambo – Rambo (2008)

Rambo overlooking a battleground

Some of the Rambo movies that followed First Blood were seen as patriotic action movies, but this Rambo quote gets back to the origins of the franchise and its critical view of Vietnam. The quote illustrates how regional conflicts tend to spill out of control due to various interests on both sides. Rambo makes the point that incessant fighting never really solves anything while calling out the politicians who make the choices that send young people to die. It shows that the wounds of his war never healed.

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13 “I Want Them To Know That Death Is Coming, And There Is Nothing They Can Do To Stop It.”

John Rambo – Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

Rambo sets a trap in Last Blood

Revenge has been a common theme throughout the Rambo franchise, whether he was liberating P.O.W.s, or rescuing Col. Trautman. His desire for vengeance against the bad guys stemmed from a wellspring of violence and hatred that could activate at any moment. In Last Blood, Rambo swore revenge against the villains in the most articulate way possible. His jaded nihilism hadn’t abated, no matter how his life circumstances had changed, and revenge had become a philosophy, rather than an instinctual reaction. It usually ends with some of the most brutal kills in the Rambo film franchise.

12 “You’re Not Hunting Him. He’s Hunting You.”

Trautman – First Blood (1982)

Trautman advises Teasle in First Blood

The cops who desperately chase Rambo through the woods after he escapes their grasp in First Blood bring in Colonel Trautman as their negotiator. Since he was Rambo’s commanding officer in Vietnam, he’s the only guy he’ll listen to – and the only guy he trusts. When Trautman is brought onto the scene and briefed on the situation, he assures the cops that they’re not the ones hunting Rambo, but rather, the reverse. It cements the intimidating nature of Rambo as an action hero. He is a skilled, formidable, and deadly opponent who can turn the tables on any enemy.

11 “To Survive A War, You Gotta’ Become War.”

Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985)

The one definitive aspect of Rambo’s personality is that he is a soldier. His adult life began when he was drafted to fight in Vietnam, and he returned with PTSD and the ability to do just one thing – kill. He didn’t like that fact, and he had a hard time accepting it, but in the end, he knew it to be true. Whenever he’s called into action, Rambo activates his training in order to survive, and accomplish his mission. It isn’t just about following orders or accomplishing objectives. Rambo needs to “become war” in order to survive one, and that means losing a bit more of his humanity each time.



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