The Top 10 Pieces of Advice from Classic ’80s Movies

Movies can teach us a lot. They can provide the courage to face a bully, the inspiration to fall in love, even the urge to call in sick for an epic day off. And when it comes to movie advice, the 1980s sure did it right.

Here are our top 10 pieces of life advice from classic 1980s movies. Learn it, know it, live it.

Batman (1989)
“Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?”

Okay, so, considering the source, this advice should be taken with the utmost caution. We’re not advising you to concoct a laughing serum and inflict your jovial terror upon the city. But sometimes there’s a lesson to be learned from a madman.

Much as we’re loathe to admit it, The Joker is on to something. The quickest way to acceptance and healing can sometimes be through laughter. When everything’s going wrong, a little laughter can really lighten the mood. Just avoid the pale moonlight.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
“Let go of your hate.”

No matter which galaxy you’re from, there’s nothing heavier than hate. When Luke Skywalker™ tells this to his father, Darth Vader™, a decades-long redemption arc is finally complete. Anger, sorrow, denial — those are all natural steps to grief but holding on to hate will only set you back.

As a wise admiral once said, it’s a trap!

The Outsiders
“Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”

Few coming-of-age stories have had such a lasting impact on multiple generations as The Outsiders. The book is often taught in schools and the film itself is a rite of passage for angsty teens itching for a life beyond what they know. Like all great poetry, this reference to Robert Frost’s poem can be interpreted in many ways. It speaks to the loss of innocence, the passage of time, and our collective search for life’s gold.

The Karate Kid Part III
“Is okay to lose to opponent. Must not lose to fear.”

For a movie all about karate competitions, this famous Mr. Miyagi quote might be a little surprising. It certainly was for Daniel in The Karate Kid Part III. But Mr. Miyagi’s teachings are a far cry from what’s taught over at Cobra Kai.

According to Mr. Miyagi, there are things more important than the score against an opponent. One’s own inner struggles are the real fight we all must face. And once we overcome what’s holding us back, there’s no telling what’s possible.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
“-Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself.”

We all remember the immortal “life moves pretty fast” quote, but Ferris Bueller also has some other philosophical gems like this one. Call him what you will — a delinquent, a ditcher, a righteous dude — but Ferris certainly knows the value of treating others like you’d want to be treated. Unless you’re Cameron.

So uh, anybody got a gummy bear?

The Princess Bride
“Have fun stormin’ the castle!”

Even in the face of insurmountable odds, a dash of optimism is key to success. Okay, sure, when Miracle Max shouts this to our intrepid adventurers he wasn’t exactly being sincere. But the advice still stands!

The Color Purple
“Don’t let them run over you … you got to fight.”

The bond between siblings can be stronger than anything, especially in the struggle to survive a tough home life. Based on the Alice Walker novel of the same name, and directed by Steven Spielberg, The Color Purple illustrates the devastating struggles of Black people in the U.S. during the early 20th century.

Though this film is undeniably heart wrenching, Nettie’s words to Celie can still spark the will to fight. Even when resistance is exhausting, and there’s no end in sight, finding a way to fight back is healing. No matter how small, that little bit of fight can help you get through a tough moment. And sometimes that’s all you need to keep going.

Pretty in Pink
“I just wanna let them know that they didn’t break me.”

The human spirit can be a fragile thing — or something else entirely that gives us strength when we need it most. Getting to that place of strength is never easy but once you’ve reached it, there’s no looking back. Nobody will ever have that same power over you again. Now it’s time to blast some OMD!

Do The Right Thing
“Always do the right thing.”

The 1980s were a turning point for many social issues. For one Brooklyn neighborhood, tensions reach an all-time high in Spike Lee’s powerful story of race in the United States. The “right thing” is not always a constant across communities, and Lee’s film shows that decisions made in the heat of the moment can have lasting results.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
“’Be excellent to each other.’
‘Party on, dudes!’”

Throughout history, humans have committed some pretty atrocious acts against each other. Wars, legislation, systemic oppression — you name it, humans have probably done it. But if humans just listened to these simple affirmations from Bill and Ted, perhaps the future would be most excellent after all.

That’s just the tip of the ‘80s iceberg! There’s ten years’ worth of inspiring cinematic quotes to choose from, so if your favorite isn’t here, we want to hear it! And if you’re looking for more tubular throwbacks to all your ’80s favorites, be sure to check out Sideshow’s Back to the 80’s event! From May 22-24, we are celebrating retro fandoms and pop culture. Find out more on our Back to the 80’s event page.

Join the conversation with other fans of the ‘80s by meeting us over at Sideshow Social Network or in — and like, don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!