Fight Club is now widely remembered as one of the best films of the 90s. This is due in great part to its sharp writing – its memorable characters, its gobsmacking plot twists, and, of course, its highly quotable dialogue. From beginning to end, the script is packed with highly quotable moments. Below are twenty of our favorites.
“The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden
This line from Tyler more or less summarises his anti-consumerist mindset. He maintains the capitalist system, makes us unhappy, and tries to remedy that unhappiness with material possessions is a futile pursuit since those material possessions end up defining us. This is the root of his desire to upturn society.
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” – Tyler Durden
Another sample of Tyler’s anti-consumerist mindset. He truly believes that one has to give up everything one has to truly be free of contemporary society’s constraints.
“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” – Tyler Durden
Another sample of Tyler’s anti-consumerist philosophy. This little rant taps into a deeper frustration that not only spoke to a great many young people at the time but has resonated across the years since the film came out.
It reflects a resentment toward the Baby Boomer generation’s consumerism-driven mindset that heavily defines the philosophy of both millennials and Generation Xers.
“In the world I see – you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty carpool lane of some abandoned superhighway.” – Tyler Durden
This line reveals the more radical side of Tyler Durden’s philosophy. He’s not just an anti-consumerist; he’s a hardlineanarcho-primitivist, looking to bring the very foundations of modern civilization to its knees and return humanity to a hunter-gatherer state.
“How much can you know about yourself, you’ve never been in a fight?” – Tyler Durden
A further nod to Tyler’s hunger to return humanity to a primal state. He believes, he makes clear, that fighting, something we go out of our way to avoid in civilized society, is necessary to know oneself.
“Fuck what you know. You need to forget about what you know, that’s your problem. Forget about what you think you know about life, about friendship, and especially about you and me.” – Tyler Durden
Yet another piece of Tyler’s radical rhetoric. His dissatisfaction with contemporary society is such that he has come to genuinely believe that one has to completely give up one’s learned understanding of life.
“The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!” – Tyler Durden
Perhaps the most widely-known Fight Club quote, even people who haven’t seen the film, have usually heard this one. It’s a brief and effective summary of the fact that the titular Fight Club members wish to keep this activity separate from their everyday lives.
“Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” – Tyler Durden
This extremely nihilistic piece of philosophy from Tyler is a gut-punch to even the most cynical audience member. The fact that he makes this speech directly to the audience makes it all the harsher.
“Marla’s philosophy of life is that she might die at any moment. The tragedy, she said, was that she didn’t.” – Narrator
Tyler is far from the only nihilist in Fight Club. This line from the Narrator neatly sums up Marla’s own nihilistic and hedonistic outlook on life. And of course, given how Marla comes off as one of the saner characters in the film, this further underlines how unstable the leads are.
“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.” – Tyler Durden
Tyler may phrase this piece of philosophy rather harshly, but it’s clearly something that is strangely therapeutic for the protagonist, a man deeply unhappy in his dull corporate job, to hear. And chances are, there are folks in the audience who need to hear it too.
“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” – Tyler Durden
Another piece of Tyler’s philosophy stands in stark contrast to the Narrator’s slow, plodding existence. Words like this help bring him to the sobering realization that his life is slipping by every minute of every day, and he is squandering it on an existence he has found no happiness in.
“When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything. The IBM stellar sphere, the Microsoft galaxy. Planet Starbucks.” – The Narrator
This remark by the Narrator serves as a further reflection on his and Tyler’s anxiety about how consumerism is consuming society.
Mega-corporations taking over the world is a common feature of dystopian fiction, and really, the notion of name brands being plastered on groundbreaking human discoveries doesn’t feel any less plausible than when the film came out.
“Tyler sold his soap to department stores at $20 a bar. Lord knows what they charged. It was beautiful. We were selling rich women their own fat asses back to them.” – Narrator
The Narrator’s eloquent summary of the fact that Tyler’s soap is made of discarded human fat from a liposuction clinic. The viewer is apt to share in the Narrator’s glee at interfering with consumerism’s cycle in this small, imperceptible way.
“So when the snooty cat and the courageous dog with the celebrity voices meet for the first time in reel three, that’s when you’ll catch a flash of Tyler’s contribution to the film.” – The Narrator
This line has the Narrator summarising another of Tyler’s methods of disrupting the status quo – namely, inserting split-second frames of pornography into children’s films. It’s a nasty trick, but memorable, and a further reflection of how deeply Tyler despises social conventions.
“We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.” – Tyler Durden
This rather misogynistic remark by Tyler is an interesting reflection on his character. It shows how, despite his apparent determination to defy social conventions, he is nonetheless deeply wrapped up in reflecting the standard societal concept of what a “manly man” is.
Even the rebellious Tyler, it’s clear, follows societal standards to some degree.
“A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.” – The Narrator
This rather chilling diatribe reveals to us how the Narrator’s corporate job has, in large part, stripped him of his humanity. In his work for the car company, the people killed in car accidents have become nothing but numbers to him – mere figures to factor into recall calculations.
“This must have been what all those people felt like before I filed them as statistics in my reports.” – The Narrator
A later follow-up to the above line, the Narrator speaks this after his own car accident. It’s a sign of how his experiences throughout the film have wrenched him back to reality in the most unpleasant way.
“With insomnia, nothing’s real. Everything’s far away. Everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy.” – The Narrator
The Narrator’s description of his insomnia is not only highly evocative of what it’s like to go without sleep for too long. It’s also an effective metaphor for how his corporate job has left him with the feeling of sleepwalking through life, feeling as if nothing is real or genuine anymore.
“Why do people think that I’m you?” – The Narrator
It’s at the moment that the Narrator utters this line that the truth of things begin to dawn on him – namely, the fact that he and Tyler are, in fact, the same person. It’s one of the most infamous twists in cinematic history, and it’s a scene that’s likely to stick with viewers for a long time.
“WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Ok, you are now firing a gun at your ‘imaginary friend’ near 400 GALLONS OF NITROGLYCERINE!” – Tyler Durden
This line is spoken by Tyler late into the film after the Narrator has come to realise that they are the same person, as the Narrator fires a warning shot into the window of an explosives truck.
Tyler’s words here underline how the Narrator, once a dull, lifeless everyman, is now doing things that even the most daring of men would consider insane.
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