Our 10 Favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Roles

Published 1 year ago by , Updated January 21st, 2013 at 6:10 am, This is a list post.

Our Favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Roles

'The Last Stand' Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there were few stars in Hollywood who could contend with the mass international appeal and box office stamina of Arnold Schwarzenegger. His films – rife with over-the-top action and memorable one-liners – defined a generation of moviegoers. Now, a decade after his last starring role, the Governator returns to the spotlight as Sheriff Ray Owens in The Last Stand. Before checking out Schwarzenegger’s comeback role, join Screen Rant as we revisit some of our favorite characters that the "Ahnuld" has brought to life. LISTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

Conan

'Conan the Barbarian' Appearances: Conan the Barbarian (1982), Conan the Destroyer (1984) Why The Role Matters: The tale of a Cimmerian warrior was Schwarzenegger's big breakthrough as an American action star, and in many ways, Conan the Barbarian sets the tone for his career. Few words punctuate this bloody tale of revenge, as Conan slays, loves and (in one surreal moment) punches out a camel in his quest to hunt down the sorcerer (James Earl Jones) that slaughtered his family and his people. The film remains one of the most acclaimed sword-and-sorcery epics, and while its 1984 sequel (and Schwarzenegger-less 2011 reboot) failed to match that success, the star is attached to return to the character in The Legend of Conan, currently expected in 2014. Defining Moment: The Crom Speech Every showdown needs a great introductory speech (just ask Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings), and Conan the Barbarian features a wonderfully dramatic (and dramatically over-the-top) speech that encapsulates everything Schwarzenegger fans would come to expect.

The Terminator

'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' Appearances: The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) Why The Role Matters: The Terminator franchise is among the most iconic film series of all time, and consequently, its title character is by far the most recognizable role Schwarzenegger has played. A killing machine sent back in time to kill (or protect, depending on the film) the Connor clan, the Terminator goes from a character we fear to one we actually root for. Terminator: Salvation tried (and failed) to continue the series without Schwarzenegger, and even that film tried to shoehorn a computer-generated imitation of the star into its final act. Rumors continue to swirl about a Schwarzenegger return to the franchise in a proposed Terminator 5, but thus far, nothing solid has materialized. Defining Moment: "Come with me if you want to live." From "I'll be back" to "Hasta la vista, baby," the Terminator films are filled with too many classic moments to choose from. However, the moment in Terminator 2: Judgment Day that a horrified Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) comes face to face with the menace that tried to kill her in the first film is among the best. In one fell swoop, the character goes from villain to hero, and audiences get their first taste of some bonafide Terminator on Terminator action.

John Matrix

'Commando' Appearance: Commando (1985) Why The Role Matters: After conquering the worlds of fantasy and science fiction, Schwarzenegger made the jump into straight-up action as a retired Black Ops soldier trying to rescue his kidnapped daughter. In doing so, audiences discovered not only that the star could take down the bad guys, but that he could actually be funny while doing so. Commando was the first movie to truly establish the great art of a Schwarzenegger one-liner, and it has been a campy classic ever since. It may not be high art, but it sure is a lot of fun. Defining Moment: Arnold Lies After telling one of his enemy's henchmen that he would take him out last, Schwarzenegger comically goes back on his word. This is just one of the many memorable moments in a thoroughly entertaining film that is as much a dark comedy as it is an action thrill ride.

Dutch

'Predator' Appearance: Predator (1987) Why The Role Matters: While this film's sequels focused more on the terrifying alien creatures of the title, action and sci-fi geeks alike have never forgotten the Predator's initial showdown with the Terminator himself. Dutch is the ultimate movie badass, outliving the rest of the film's cast of tough guys and turning the Predator into prey. Alas, the character has never been revisited in any of the subsequent films, nor the two cross-over features that tie into the Alien mythology. However, for sheer will to survive and for introducing the line "Get to the chopper!" to the pop culture lexicon, Dutch has earned his spot on this list. Defining Moment: Arnold vs. Predator In a last ditch effort, Dutch lures the Predator into a trap of his own making, and man and monster go toe to toe in the film's final moments.

Julius Benedict

'Twins' Appearance: Twins (1988) Why The Role Matters: After a string of smash hits, Schwarzenegger's career took a surprising turn toward comedy. Unlike his previous badass characters, Julius Benedict is a naïve intellectual with little knowledge of the real world. However, that all changes when he is reunited with his long-lost twin brother Vincent (Danny DeVito). Twins was a enormous hit upon hitting theaters and led to a number of other comedies from Schwarzenegger, though only one other achieved similar success (more on that later). A sequel – Triplets – is currently in development, with Eddie Murphy expected to join the cast. Defining Moment: In Defense of DeVito When Schwarzenegger discovers a thug beating up on his newfound brother, he is forced to act. The scene nicely parallels the star's background in action, while underscoring just how much of a departure the character of Julius is from his usual work.

Douglas Quaid/Hauser

 'Total Recall' Appearance: Total Recall (1990) Why The Role Matters: Before director Len Wiseman’s ill-received remake, Schwarzenegger brought the mind-bending tale of construction worker Douglas Quaid to life, portraying both Quaid and his alter-ego Hauser. The film is loaded with smart ideas but doesn’t let Philip K. Dick’s source material interfere with all the classic Schwarzenegger tropes. Gratuitous violence and nudity abound, as do a barrage of endlessly quotable one-liners and unforgettable action sequences. Schwarzenegger’s Quaid isn’t the least bit believable as your average everyday guy turned action hero, but the mystery surrounding his past supplies the character with the motivation to “get (his) ass to Mars.” Besides, when a film is this much fun, why let a little thing like logic get in the way? Defining Moment: "Consider that a divorce." After discovering that his wife (Sharon Stone) is working with the enemy, Quaid has one last faceoff with her. In the process, Schwarzenegger utters what is quite possibly the best line in the film.

John Kimble

'Kindergarten Cop' Appearance: Kindergarten Cop (1990) Why The Role Matters: Schwarzenegger had fought a sorcerer, gone to Mars, traveled through time and battled a Predator, but in this film, he faces his most fearsome enemy yet: a class of out-of-control children. On the trail of a drug lord, Detective Kimble must track down his enemy's ex-wife, a vital witness who could put him away for good. However, to do so, he has to go undercover as an elementary school teacher, an assignment that puts the hard-boiled cop to the ultimate test. Whatever one's thoughts on the film, it was yet another departure for  Schwarzenegger and paved the way for big screen tough guys to make the transition to family-friendly comedies (e.g. Vin Diesel's The Pacifier and The Rock's The Game Plan). Defining Moment: Classroom Chaos Kimble loses his nerve when he returns to his classroom to find that his students have run amuck. There's something about watching a guy as strong as Schwarzenegger flip out over a group of kids that can't help but make the viewer crack a smile.

Jack Slater/Himself

 'Last Action Hero' Appearance: Last Action Hero (1993) Why The Role Matters: In the early 1990s, Schwarzenegger could do no wrong. Then came Last Action Hero. The film – directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard) and written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) – should have been a guaranteed hit, but it failed both critically and financially. However, the film is noteworthy for allowing Schwarzenegger the opportunity to poke fun at both himself and his onscreen persona. When a young movie fan (Austin O'Brien) is unwittingly sucked directly into Schwarzenegger's latest blockbuster, he and fictional hero Jack Slater team up to bring down a sadistic criminal (Charles Dance), both in the movie and the real world. Viewed seriously, Last Action Hero is understandably a letdown, but when considered as a parody of Schwarzenegger's filmography and the action genre itself, the film is an underrated gem. Defining Moment: He Always Says That Slater and his unwelcome new partner approach the film's villain at his mansion, and Slater interrogates him, leading to a number of intentionally ridiculous lines (including a parody of Schwarzenegger's very own catchphrase).

Harry Tasker

 'True Lies' Appearance: True Lies (1994) Why The Role Matters: After collaborating on both of the first two Terminator films, Schwarzenegger and James Cameron re-teamed for this story about a boring computer salesman who – unbeknownst to his family – is actually a James Bond-esque superspy. True Lies was one of the biggest hits of its year, and its balance of a character-focused subplot focusing on Tasker and his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the larger, more action-oriented story makes the film feel more well-rounded than the usual Schwarzenegger testosterone fest. A sequel has long been rumored, but Cameron's focus on his Avatar sequels means any follow-up is a long way from becoming a reality. Defining Moment: Time to Tango Undercover at a formal party, Tasker hits the dance floor with a mysterious woman, and the scene – which happens early in the film – intercuts between a suave but no less tough Scwarzenegger and his support team (led by Tom Arnold),  instantly establishing the film's balance between espionage and laughs.

Trench Mauser

'The Expendables' Appearances: The Expendables (2010), The Expendables 2 (2012) Why The Role Matters: Schwarzenegger's first role following his tenure as governor of California – and absence from the big screen – was a small but unforgettable appearance in Sylvester Stallone's action hero team-up film The Expendables alongside Planet Hollywood pals Stallone and Bruce Willis. The film and its sequel – which features an expanded role for Schwarzenegger – are celebrations of the high-octane, over-the-top action extravaganzas of the 1980s and 1990s. Without Schwarzenegger – arguably the master of such films – the Expendables franchise just wouldn't feel complete. Expect a follow-up appearance in The Expendables 3. Defining Moment: Making a grand entrance, mercenary Trench Mauser (Schwarzenegger) vies for the same job as Barney Ross (Stallone), and the scene slyly references the actor's real life political aspirations. In one instant, the message to moviegoers was clear: he's back.

In Conclusion...

'The Last Stand'

While it remains to be seen whether or not The Last Stand's Ray Owens will prove a worthy addition to this list, the undeniable truth is that Schwarzenegger has led an impressive career in action film and created plenty of unforgettable characters in the process. Here's hoping that his upcoming projects – such as The Tomb (also starring Stallone) and Ten – are up to the challenge of adding to his roster of cinematic muscle.

TAGS: conan the barbarian, terminator, the last stand, the legend of conan, total recall, triplets

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  1. I would’ve put Commando higher, not only because it’s my fave movie of all time but because when Arnold turned down the sequel to make Predator, a quick rewrite of the script originally intended to see John Matrix save his daughter from kidnappers in a tower block became the original Die Hard movie and spawned that franchise.

    • until I saw the check four $6236, I did not believe that my neighbours mother had been realey bringing home money in there spare time at there computar.. there moms best frend started doing this for under 12 months and just now paid for the loans on there condo and bought a gorgeous Aston Martin DB5. this is where I went, http://www.Fb26.ℂom

      • Mary, you need to email me immediately for my free leaflet about the devastating effects nutmeg abuse and STDs can have on spelling.

    • think its in chronological order.

  2. I’m a cop you idiot! :D

  3. I laughed so hard when I saw “get to the chopper” best Arnie movie of all time.. the predator is crazy bad a$$ n there are so many great one liners .. like “I don’t got time to bleed” n ” your one ugly muther f******”

    • Commando has way more though.

      Watch it if you haven’t, that and Monty Python And The Holy Grail are my most quoted movies ever (with Clarence Boddicker from Robocop coming in third if you were interested, probably not lol)

      “These guys eat too much red meat.”

      “I’m not gonna shoot you between the eyes John, I’m gonna shoot you between the balls!”

      “Hey Sully, you remember when I said I’d kill you last?”
      “Yeah, that’s right Matrix, you did.”
      “I lied.”

      “Please don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired.”

      Such a classic.

      Plus it was the first movie poster to feature Schwarzenegger’s name as top billing right at the top, a trend which has continued since in every movie he’s starred in.

      • Oh I know that’s a great movie too.. I have seen ever Arnie movie from red heat to jingle all the way n everything in-between n before n after.. I am so pumped he is coming back n can’t wait to see him with Knoxville .. I know this movie isnt gonna be a t2 or running man or a true lies.. but its gotta be better then junior ..

      • Commando is the best:

        “Listen, loyalty is very touching. But it is not the most important thing in your life right now! But what IS important is gravity! I have to remind you Sully, this is my weak arm!”

        “What happen to Sully?” “I let him go.”

        I was hoping they do a remake for this movie with Terry Crews… or The Rock.

  4. Am I the only one who finds it funny whenever Arnold screams DOWN!!!! lmao hilarious

    • Hell, unless you’re a housekeeper being ordered to undress in his house, I’d think him screaming anything at you was hilarious.

    • Its ” get down ” actually lol.. n its great he says it in 90% of his movies

  5. Put that cookie down!

  6. Last Acton Hero is one of the best over the top movies of all time! Shoot’em Up comes in a vey close second…

  7. My brother loves to quote Jingle All The Way too.

    “It’s turbo time!”

    Terrible movie but somehow funny.

  8. I know this article is about Ah-nuld. But the terrorists in True Lies have one of the funniest scenes I have seen in a movie with the camcorder batteries.

  9. I’m surprised Last Action Hero didn’t do better, that movie was hilarious

  10. Agree with the article his Terminator role being his most recognisable.

    However the definiing momnet must surely be the ‘I’ll be Back’ from the 1st film. Arnie the drives through the security gate before destroying all the police staff in the building.

    That’s surely your most quinessential Schwarzenegger moment right there.

  11. Mark Kaminsky in Raw Deal was bad ass, but Dutch is my favorite

    • “Magic? Or MAGNET!!”

      *tosses roulette table over and starts shooting*

      That scene had me cracking up for ages.

  12. I think his role in Junior should get an honorable mention. sure, that movie sucked, but a pregnant Arnold?!? thats gotta be a first and only time something like that has been done in film.

    • LOL hopefully the last …seriously !

  13. fav role of his gotta be in terminator 2 and predator

  14. Start ranking the entries.

  15. Take ya toy BAck to the cahpet!

    • “Who’s your daddy and what does he do?”

      “I’m a CAHP you idiot!”

  16. You guys forgot Mr. Freeze!

    • forgotten !

  17. Predator
    True Lies
    Total Recall
    Terminater 2
    Commando

  18. I would have placed Red Heat over there ;) Arnie the Russian!

  19. Good list. Too bad The Running Man or Eraser didn’t make it on there though. My favorites in no order would be…

    The Terminator & Terminator 2:Judgement Day

    Commando

    Predator

    The Running Man

    Eraser

    Conan The Barbarian/Conan The Destroyer

    True Lies

    Kindergarden Cop

    Twins

    Last Action Hero

    Collateral Damage

    last but not least… Batman & Robin, LOL J/K everyone!

    • I forgot Total Recall to be added to my list.

    • We’re pretty much on the same page, but my top 4 would go:
      Running Man
      Predator
      Commando
      Total Recall

  20. don’t forget “Jingle All The Way” …bah hahaha

  21. Best three movies, and thus characters, in no particular order:

    Conan the Barbarian
    Predator
    Terminator

    Glad he is returning to Conan. Would love to see him return to the other two franchises as well.

  22. No question Arnold’s best performance (with the least among of stiffness) is in “Kindergarten Cop”. Now that he’s older with a lot more sage, I would hope his acting might rise to the level of John Wayne. There have been moments but to this date nothing as consistent as “Cop”. Given the right director and script (and discipline) there may still be hope for Arnold yet.

  23. I also agree that Last Action Hero was not nearly as bad as everyone made it out to be. It was totally a fun movie if you realize it’s comedic nature.

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