10. Arnold as Himself – Pumping Iron (1977)
We have finally arrived in the top 10, and now is truly when the difficult becomes nearly impossible. But one thing is very clear, Arnold playing himself is as entertaining as any of his other characters. This is film that made us all understand why Arnold is Numero Uno! Arnold tells anyone who will listen, “The greatest feeling you can get in a gym, or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is… he Pump.” And while Arnold pumps up, it’s as satisfying to him as anything else in the world.
This part-scripted, part-documentary outing sheds light onto one of the greatest careers to ever grace this earth. Showing Arnold in his quest to achieve bodybuilding greatness, we watch him prepare for the Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests to defend his five-time championship. But, we learn the most important advice Arnold has ever given us, “Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.”
9. Howard Langston/Turbo Man – Jingle All the Way (1996)
I know, I know. What the hell is Jingle All the Way doing this high on the list? It’s simple, when Christmas combines with Arnold, “It’s Turbo time!”
Jingle All the Way is pure amazement around every turn, whether its Arnold is yelling at Phil Hartman to “Put that cookie down! Who told you you could eat my cookies”, or chasing a bouncy ball through the mall, or wrestling a warehouse filled with fake Santas (including the Big Show), or going tit for tat with Sinbad, or flying through the air as Turbo Man, this is magic on film. This is the definition of Arnold’s greatness, because place any other actor in this role, and this would have been a failure on all levels. It is Arnold that makes this movie a classic and that fact gives me the right to place this role so high.
Every father wants to be a superhero for their son, and every son wants Arnold as their father. It’s not really fair little Jaime gets both, but such is life. Every Christmas I watch this movie, and each year it just gets better and better. For me, Jingle All the Way is a Christmas movie that deserves to be in the upper echelon with Elf and A Christmas Story.
8. Jack Slater – Last Action Hero (1993)
What better way to follow up Turbo Man, then with Jack Slater, the Last Action Hero. Let it be known this is my list, and not a consensus of the world at large. In my world, not only is Jingle All the Way a holiday classic, but Last Action Hero is a great film. It was released in 1993, the same year I saw Jurassic Park for the first time, experiencing my first true movie event. Last Action Hero showed me that movies are truly magic, that characters on screen are not imprisoned there, and can be as real to us as anything else in life. The toys, video games, board games, I still have it all.
Unfortunately, audiences didn’t fall in love with Last Action Hero quite like my 11 year old self did. This came out when Arnold could do no wrong, and showed that even the untouchable can find defeat. But, ultimately it was because viewers needed to watch this with innocence, with knowledge that this was Arnold showing he can laugh at himself, and make fun of the genre he dominated for years prior and years to come.
7. John Matrix – Commando (1985)
Arnold conquered fantasy as Conan, he conquered science fiction as The Terminator, and in 1985, he decided to take on an army. In Commando, Arnold retires from the military to the quiet seclusion of the forest, where he can feed deer with his daughter and have ice cream fights. But, when Alyssa Milano is kidnapped, one of the most outlandish, and enjoyable, battles for revenge commences. Commando solidified Arnold as a superstar as we watch him kill hundreds of soldiers to get his daughter back.
While Arnold is taking down an army single handedly, his one liners are never forgotten. “You’re a funny guy Sully, I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.” Or my favorite as a kid, “I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now, I’m very hungry!” But, the one to appreciate most, “Let off some steam, Bennett!”. This is one of the films that made audiences believe Arnold is a true action star, and one of my personal favorite action movies.
6. Douglas Quaid – Total Recall (1990)
It was painful not to include Douglas Quaid in the top five, because he probably deserves to be there. Total Recall is a super cult classic, and world renowned for being one of the best science fiction films ever. This film kicked off the 90s, and gave Arnold one of his most iconic roles. Adapting Philip K. Dick’s novel to the screen, this wasn’t the standard sci-fi film at the time. It had twists and turns, and a great story with depth as Arnold goes on the journey to discover what is real and what isn’t.
“Get your ass to Mars” Arnold tells Arnold. The one liners are aplenty, as is the violence and nudity. There are endless memorable moments in this film, from Arnold’s fight with Sharon Stone, the girl with three boobs, the sexy Kuato, Arnold rushing through the x-Ray machine, and of course, Arnold trying to breathe the air on the surface of Mars.
“Consider that a divorce!”
5. Julius Benedict – Twins (1988)
Twins was the role of a lifetime for Arnold, giving him a chance to show a side of himself that didn’t involve murder death kills. Arnold could make us laugh and cry as well as he could kick ass. No longer was he just a cold blooded Terminator, but a muscleman with a huge heart. “I did nothing. The pavement was his enemy”. He plays the total opposite of all this roles, as here he hates violence and is an intellectual, which clearly is not the case for any other role on this list. Except, when Ivan Reitman gets a hold of him!
Playing off his total opposite Danny DeVito, and showing off his genuine side opposite Kelly Preston, Arnold scored big time. No one else could have pulled off this role, it was only Arnold with his naivety and love to crush the role like his enemies. He even still gets to include his most spoken line, “If you’re lying to me, I’ll be back!”.
“Through the lips, over the gums…Look out stomach! Here it comes”
Just don’t ever forget the third rule in a crisis situation! And if you don’t remember, you haven’t seen Twins enough times.
4. Dutch – Predator (1987)
In my house Stanley Kubrick doesn’t make perfect science fiction, Arnold does. This role and film was one of the most important in his career. Leading a team of commandos, including Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, and Sonny Landham into the jungle, they face the most bad ass alien ever captured on camera. The Predator hunts down the crew one by one, so when he finally goes one on one with “one ugly motha f*ucker”, it gives new meaning to Arnold’s title as Mr. Universe.
Predator unfortunately is hidden under the shadow of another sci fi movie yet to appear on the list, and while that is the owner of his most famous one liner, this clearly is second best, “Get to the chappa!” This film is still relevant in pop culture today, and while it has spawned a ton of sequels, none of them featured the real star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Dillion! You son of a bitch!” as Arnold’s bicep nearly burst out of his skin. The entire film we watch just how perfect of a killer the Predator is, but in the finale, the point of the film is made very clear, that no hunter on the planet can take down the great Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This was the film, that as a little kid around the age of six or seven, showed me blood for the first time. It’s a funny thing, when was the first time you realized when a knife cuts you, you bleed. Well son, I got a countdown to finish, “I ain’t got time to bleed!”
3. Detective John Kimble – Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Was it a tumor? “It’s not a tumor! It’s not a tumor. At all!” It might not be a tumor, but it is Arnold’s most mass appealing role. It’s the role that everyone knows, and one that will make anyone smile at the thought of. Ivan Reitman takes the tough man Arnold plays so well and places him in the most entertaining scenario imaginable: a Kindergarten teacher. But he isn’t just the new teacher, he is “the party pooper!”
“No more complaining. No more “Mr. Kimble, I have to go the bathroom”. Nothing! There *is* no bathroom!”
“We’re going to play a wonderful game called… “Who is my daddy and what does he do?”
“You hit a kid, I hit you.” – and boy is this scene satisying.
This game of quoting Arnold in Kindergarten Cop could go on for days. Thanks to Ivan Reitman, we get another Arnold film that is touching and entertaining, and a character who is bursting with heart and hilarity. Arnold covers the spectrum of emotions, going from a hard ass cop to a kindergarten teacher to a father figure to a man falling in love. Each Arnold role shows him willing to give everything to rescue or save someone, but this film is the one that get it across in the best way possible.
A classroom filled with screaming kids is more scary then aliens or an army, but Arnold uses this as an opportunity to show his depth as an actor, and develop the many layers that make up his character, Detective John Kimble.
2. Harry Tasker – True Lies (1994)
James Cameron can sleep well at night knowing he is responsible for not only the two most success films of all time, but for the two most successful Arnold roles As well. When Arnold isn’t terminating, he plays a wonderful family man, who operates as a super secret agent to stop the worlds most villainous bad guys. This at times is James Bond as a family man, but with a family that doesn’t know it, and with a sweet partner like Tom Arnold.
He chases terrorists through hotel lobbies on horseback and he battles terrorists in a mall bathroom, but the real fun begins when he thinks his wife is having an affair. Once he wakes up and discovers his wife is kidnapped with him, the real fun begins. In one of my favorite Arnold scenes of all time, he is given truth serum, and when asked if he ever killed anyone, “Yeah, but they were all bad”. Or when the terrorist asks him to identify the nuclear warhead, he answers “This is an espresso machine”, “No, no wait. It’s a snow cone maker”.
This film ultimately combines the hardcore action roles of his past, with the heartfelt family man. It gives his character heart, and gives him a human side, when he reacts to things like his daughter stealing or his wife cheating on him. But really, its the banter between Tom Arnold and Arnold that gives this film its real hilarity.
Arnold’s best line in the film is at it’s finale, right before he launches the evil terrorist to missile heaven. “You’re fired”.
1. The Terminator – Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), & Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
Finally, we have made it to the number one spot. I wish the choice for number one could be more of a surprise, but I don’t think anyone is surprised by this pick. It’s truly the only choice that can’t be argued over, Arnold’s greatest character, what started his career, and what kept his career so popular, is the Terminator. This was the role he was born to play, and there is not a single other person on the planet who could play it like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whether its the villain in the original, or the hero in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, no man can do so much, by saying so little. Every action is amazing, and every word he does speak is quotable. It doesn’t matter if its, “I’ll be back”, “Hasta la vista, baby”, “Come with me if you want to live”, or “I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle”.
The original Terminator may have put Arnold on the map, but it was Judgment Day that has gone on to become the greatest action movie of all time. Even including the third installment, these films are moment after moment of unforgettable amazing cinema. In my last article it seemed Jurassic Park was the first huge movie event of my life, but that wasn’t true. Because when I was nine, my dad took me to go see Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and that no doubt was not only my first movie event, but one that will never be equaled.
Mr. Universe was able to turn himself into the greatest action star of all time because of this film franchise. The role and films are iconic, and has made Arnold Schwarzenegger into one of the most recognizable faces in the world.
In final, you have to ask yourself what could be better then watching Arnold as the Terminator? How about watching Arnold fighting Arnold? Next week, when Terminator Genisys is released, we will finally get to see what happens when the greatest action star of all time battles himself. And really, what could be better? The answer is clear: absolutely nothing.