Back in 1994, Pulp Fiction took the indie scene by storm as the defining movie of the decade. The movie has had a tremendous influence on cinema in the years since its release, but perhaps its biggest influence has been the birth of Samuel L. Jackson’s career. Not only did Pulp Fiction make Jackson a star; it defined the kind of character he would play for the rest of his life. A guy who’s articulate, a guy who doesn’t watch his language, a guy who rattles off long, meandering monologues – Jules Winnfield was the role that defined Jackson as an actor.
10 “Say ‘what’ again! I dare you! I double-dare you, motherf****r, say ‘what’ one more g*****n time!”
As Jules interrogates Brett in what is possibly the most iconic scene in the whole movie, Brett keeps saying, “What?” He’s panicking, because some gangsters have shown up at his apartment and he’s in big trouble. Jules is speaking very clearly, but he’s also speaking very quickly and he’s using some colorful language that Brett is struggling to follow. At first, Jules jokes about Brett’s answer to everything simply being, “What?” But eventually, he’s said it so many times that Jules reaches his breaking point, pulls out his gun, points it in Brett’s face, and dares him to say it again.
9 “Mmm, this is a tasty burger!”
One of the hallmarks of Quentin Tarantino’s movies is that he doesn’t take any product placement deals. So, instead of eating and drinking and smoking actual brands, his characters are linked together by the fictional brands they use. For example, everyone in the Tarantino-verse smokes Red Apple Cigarettes, so that the director doesn’t have to give any money to some big tobacco company. The same thing goes for Big Kahuna Burger, the Hawaiian fast food place where Brett and his roommates bought their breakfast. So, Jules isn’t complimenting an actual brand when he takes a bite out of a burger and says, “Mmm, this is a tasty burger!”
8 “I’m the foot f**kin’ master.”
As Jules and Vincent head up to Brett’s apartment to put a good scare into him and straighten out some business for Marsellus Wallace, they talk about a rumor they heard about Antoine “Tony Rocky Horror.” Marsellus threw Tony from a fourth-floor window and the rumor going around is that it was because Tony massaged his wife’s feet. This gets the two onto the topic of foot rubs, which they explore in some depth when they realize they’re a little early to Brett’s apartment. When Vincent starts telling Jules about massaging feet, Jules tells him that he is “the foot f**kin’ master.”
7 “I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.”
After delivering his Ezekiel 25:17 speech for the second time, Jules starts telling “Ringo,” which is his nickname for Tim Roth’s common crook character Pumpkin, whose name was already a nickname, about the meaning behind the passage. At first, he thought it was just a cool thing to say before killing someone.
But then he narrowly avoided death and thought it was divine intervention, so he began to reassess his entire life. That meant reassessing the meaning of the Biblical quote he’d recited to all of his victims. He tells Ringo that he used to think he was “the righteous man,” but now, he wants to be “the shepherd.”
6 “If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions.”
This is one of the wisest things that Jules says in the whole movie. He’s a pretty philosophically minded guy, all things considered. When he’s picking pieces of Marvin’s skull out of the car and scrubbing blood out of the backseat, he couldn’t care less about philosophy. But on the whole, he’s a spiritual guy who’s very closely in touch with himself and the world around him. Here, he sums up the rule of cause and effect. If you don’t want to hear something scary, then don’t ask a scary question. If you don’t ask a scary question, you won’t get a scary answer.
5 “Check out the big brain on Brett!”
When Jules enters Brett’s apartment, he takes the dominant position by having a bite of Brett’s burger. This reminds him of the “Royale with Cheese” conversation he had with Vincent in the car – perhaps the most iconic conversation in the movie – and he asks Vincent to tell the guys what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in France. Jules asks the room why this is, and Brett correctly identifies the reason as being the metric system, so he compliments his intelligence and calls him “a smart motherf****r.” Now, everyone knows what a “Royale with Cheese” is and why it’s called that.
4 “From here on in, you can consider my ass retired.”
Some Tarantino fans have speculated that the piano-playing drifter that Samuel L. Jackson plays in a brief appearance in Kill Bill is actually an older version of Jules from Pulp Fiction. After getting shot at and not being hit by a single bullet, Jules believes that he was saved by divine intervention and decides to become a drifter, wandering the streets, seeing where the world would take him. So, it checks out that later in his life, he would be playing piano in some random town where the Bride happened to show up. It’s already been established that all of Tarantino’s movies take place in the same universe.
3 “I’m sorry, did I break your concentration?”
This is what Jules says to Brett right after killing his friend on the couch. The guy on the couch was played by Burr Steers, who has admitted in recent years that he kept screwing up takes after his character was shot: “The thing I remember most, was how I f**ked up. I was dead for much of the scene. But the blanks were so loud, I couldn’t help but flinch. So, they’re doing the thing to Frank Whaley, or whoever else he shot in [that scene], and they’d go off and I’d go, ‘Ahhh!’ I was supposed to be dead, but no.”
2 “The motherf****r that said that s**t never had to pick up itty-bitty pieces of skull on account of your dumb ass.”
One of the most shocking plot turns in Pulp Fiction occurs when Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the head in the back of their car. This leads into the third of the three anthology stories in the movie, “The Bonnie Situation,” in which Jules and Vincent have to clean Marvin’s blood and brains out of the backseat of the car.
Vincent tells Jules that an old philosophy goes that if someone admits to their wrongdoing, they’re immediately absolved of that wrongdoing. Jules then counters that the person who came up with that never had to clean up shattered skull shards on someone else’s behalf.
1 “The path of the righteous man...”
Of course, Jules’ most articulate quote is his Ezekiel 25:17 speech: “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and goodwill, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!”