The eighties were a peak decade for moviemaking. No other period can claim to have spawned so many timeless characters, classic soundtracks, and memorable dialogue. Whether you grew up in the era or have been influenced by those who did, chances are you’ll be familiar with many of the movies that helped shape popular culture. One such example is the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun.”
It centres around flying ace Lt Pete Mitchell, better known by his call sign ‘Maverick’ and his navigator companion ‘Goose.’ The pair are given the opportunity to join the country’s elite aviators in Miramar, California, and contest for the title of ‘Top Gun.’ Here they square off against the supposed best of the best which includes protagonist rival ‘Iceman.’
Maverick’s cavalier approach wins admirers and dissenters in equal measure, but ultimately leads to a personal tragedy that threatens to ground him permanently.
Like many other films of the decade, Top Gun spawned numerous quotes that are as familiar now as they were back then. So let’s take a look at 20 of our favorite Top Gun quotes.
“Son, your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash”
An irate James Tolkan (call-sign Stinger) gives both Maverick and Goose a dressing down for disobeying orders and engaging with a stray MIG. Stinger utters the phrase, reminding Maverick that he’s playing fast and loose with his military owned Jet. It also reinforces why Pete Mitchell has been given the call-sign ‘Maverick’, probably by himself.
“I feel the need, the need for speed”
Probably the most well-known quote from Top Gun that has seeped into popular culture, it sees the newly arrived Maverick and Goose preparing to take to the skies on their first sortie at ‘Top Gun’ fighter school. Goose instinctively knows to join in with the phrase, such is the close bond between the pair.
“This is what I call a target rich environment”
Soon after arriving at Top Gun, Maverick and Goose walk into the bar, and survey the scene to find that there’s an abundance of attractive women. Scanning the crowd, Maverick utters this line, before he spots Charlie and only has eyes for her.
“She’s lost that loving feeling”
Having caught the attention of the then unknown ‘Charlie’ in a bar, Maverick signals his intentions to Goose in an apparently oft used pick-up technique that he wishes to serenade her with the Righteous Brothers classic. Maverick then attempts to woo Charlie via karaoke, supported by Goose and the rest of the bar’s patrons. Unfortunately for Maverick, his efforts ‘crash and burn’.
“It’s classified. I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you”
After meeting Charlie for the first time in the bar, the following day they attend a Top Gun class, where Maverick learns that Charlie is to be one of his tutors. Charlie questions him on how he was able to see a MiG-28 do a 4G negative dive, and this is his response.
“Because I was inverted”
With Charlie revealed as one of the fighter schools’ instructors, the spurned Maverick challenges Charlie on the data being presented on MiG-28s. Maverick details his earlier engagement with said jet and how he, Goose and the MiG pilot were in a 4G negative dive together. The revelation that they were upside-down whilst doing so is met by scepticism by his fellow pilots.
“So you’re the one”
Following Maverick and Goose’s explanation of how they were in a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28, Charlie says “So you’re the one,” indicating that she knew such a thing had happened, but didn’t know who was involved until now.
“You don’t have time to think up there. If you think, you’re dead”
During a flight debriefing, Charlie criticises Maverick’s flying directly, questioning why he chose the actions he did. Maverick responds that it’s done on instinct, to which she replies that the manoeuvre, although successful is absolutely what a pilot shouldn’t do.
“Remember boys, no points for second place”
As the competition increases for the Top Gun trophy, we see the men in the locker room, an environment overflowing with testosterone. Slider, who is part of rival Iceman’s team, delivers this quote in an attempt to antagonise them.
“Let’s turn and burn!”
As Maverick goes toe-to toe (or jet to jet) against Jester in a training operation, a fired-up Maverick looks to put down a marker against his higher ranked opponent and uses this quote as a substitute for “let’s see what you got.”
“Sorry Goose, but it’s time to buzz the tower”
An elated Maverick, having claimed a supposed victory over one of the schools’ elite instructors (Jester) and being denied permission to land by the tower decides to do a high speed fly-by. Despite the protestations of Goose, Maverick utters the line “Sorry Goose, time to Buzz the Tower”- An action that doesn’t go down too well with the tower’s occupants.
“Take me to bed or lose me forever”
During a period of down-time, we find Goose entertaining Maverick & Charlie along with his visiting wife Carole (Meg Ryan) and daughter at the piano, giving a rendition of ‘Great Balls of Fire’. Maverick and Carole are reminiscing over one of Mavericks old flames (Penny Benjamin…remember the name!). The loved-up Carole shouts this out to Goose, her ‘big stud’ of a husband and gains the response “show me the way home honey.”
Charlie later repeats this quote back to Maverick as their own relationship begins to blossom.
“Great Balls of Fire!”
As well as the being his song of choice on the Piano, Goose utters these words on several occasions, both in moments of joy and frustration. One such occurrence follows another warning by their superiors over Maverick’s decision to buzz the tower. It becomes the catchphrase most closely associated with the character.
“Yee ha, Jester’s dead!”
…but not the only one. This similarly syllabic quote is created following the pairs pursuit and capture of Jester. The joy would be short lived. Despite Mavericks impressive flying, his breach of the rules to gain the win leads to disqualification.
“God, he loved flying with you, Maverick“
In a poignant scene following the death of Goose, we see his wife, Carole, telling Maverick how much he meant to Goose. She can see how much Maverick is hurting over his loss, and how he feels guilty for what happened, and it’s her attempt to make him feel better.
“You gotta let him go”
Following the death of Goose in a tragic accident, we see Maverick struggle to deal with the loss of his closest friend. This leads Maverick to consider quitting Top Gun, but a motivational talk from Viper makes him see that he needs to put Goose’s death behind him.
“That’s right! Iceman. I am dangerous”
The simmering tensions between Maverick and his greatest rival come to a head in the locker room when Iceman tells Maverick, in an almost prophetic statement that Maverick is unsafe, and that his flying is problematic. This is Maverick’s response to Iceman declaring “I don’t like you because you’re dangerous”
“Talk to me, Goose”
After losing his navigator and best friend Goose in a flying accident, Maverick has to deal with his grief and struggles to focus when ordered to return to the skies. It almost breaks him, and he reaches out to the spirit of his friend to guide him and help him overcome his self-doubts.
“I’ll fly with you”
Against all odds, Maverick graduates from Top Gun, and is about to embark on his first mission. Knowing how reckless he can be in the sky, there’s a reluctance amongst fellow airmen to join him. his instructor, Viper, steps forward and volunteers to partner with him. Despite Viper having to punish Maverick numerous times during the movie for his reckless behaviour, he can see what a good pilot he is, and has faith in him being able to complete the mission.
“You can be my wingman anytime”
Maverick regains his composure and comes to the aid of the stricken Iceman who’s F14 has been hit, leaving him outnumbered and exposed. He outmanoeuvres and shoots down the pursuing enemies before leading Iceman safely back to the carrier. On the deck, the animosity between the two is put aside, as Ice concedes Maverick is a worthy aviator. In a typically Maverick response, he declares “bullsh*t, you can be mine!”
If you’re a fan of Top Gun, or know someone who is, check out our Top Gun quotes print!
If you’ve loved these Top Gun quotes, you can also check out our Top Gun Maverick quotes article.