(Note: Shortly after I finished high school, I created a blog to publish and share lists. I called it Listosaurus Rex and updated it for about a year. When my web server caught a virus back in 2012, the site went down. I was recently going through my old files and found a backup of Listosaurus Rex. In the spirit of The Year of 100 Lists, I’ve decided to post at least one article from the old site, slightly revised. This particular list included screencaps for every quote, but those images weren’t preserved by the backup, so you’re stuck with just the quotes. This list was initially published January 2008.)
Andy: How could you be so obtuse?
Warden: Lord, it’s a miracle! A man up and vanished like a fart in the wind.
Red (v.o.): Forty years I been asking permission to piss. I can’t squeeze a drop without say-so.
District Attorney: And that, also, is very convenient. Isn’t it, Mr. Dufresne?
Andy: Since I am innocent of this crime, sir, I find it decidedly inconvenient that the gun was never found.
Andy: You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific?
Andy: They say it has no memory. That’s where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.
Brooks: Easy peezy Japanesey.
Red: I’m telling you, these walls are funny. First you hate them. Then you get used to them. Enough time passes, it gets so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.
Red: Only guilty man at Shawshank.
Red (v.o.): Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes, really. Pressure and time.
Andy: I was in the path of the tornado… I just didn’t expect the storm would last as long as it has.
Andy: I understand you’re a man who knows how to get things.
Red: I’m known to locate certain things from time to time.
Heywood: Count of Monte Crisco.
Floyd: It’s Cristo, you dumb shit.
Heywood: By Alexan-dree Dumm-ass. Dumbass?
Andy: Dumm-ass? Dumas. You know what that’s about? You’ll like that, it’s about a prison break.
Red: We ought to file that under educational too, oughtn’t we?
Andy: So you don’t forget… forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. It’s yours.
Red: What are you talking about?
Red: Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You better get used to that idea.
Andy: Like Brooks did?
Board member: Do you feel you’ve been rehabilitated?
Red: Rehabilitated? Well now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means.
Board member: Well, it means that you’re ready to rejoin society…
Red: I know what you think it means, sonny. To me it’s just a made up word. Politician’s word, so young fellows like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really want to know. Am I sorry for what I did?
Board member: Well, are you?
Red: There’s not a day goes by that I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here and because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. Try and talk some sense into him. Tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that is left. I gotta live with that. Rehabilitated? That’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. ‘Cause, to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit
Red (v.o.): And that’s how it came to pass that on the second last day of the job, the convict crew that tarred the plate factory roof in the spring of ’49 wound up sitting in a row at ten o’clock in the morning drinking icy cold Bohemia-style beer, courtesy of the hardest screw that ever walked a turn at Shawshank State Prison.
Captain Hadley: Drink up while it’s cold, ladies.
Red (v.o.): The colossal prick even managed to sound magnanimous. We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation. As for Andy, he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer.
Heywood: Hey, want a cold one Andy?
Andy: No thanks, I gave up drinking.
Red (v.o.): You could argue he’d done it to curry favor with the guards or maybe make a few friends among us cons. Me? I think he just did it to feel normal again, if only for a short while.
Red: They send you here for life, that’s exactly what they’re taking.
Red (v.o.): Sometimes it makes me sad, though, Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty when they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.
The Warden: Salvation lies within.
Red (v.o.): Andy Dufresne – who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.
Red: Same ol’ shit, different day.
Red (v.o.): I don’t know; every man has his breaking point.
Andy (v.o.): Remember, Red: Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
Red (v.o.): I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away. And for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.
Andy: I guess it comes down to a simple choice. Get busy living or get busy dying.
Red (v.o.): I find I’m so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.
7 thoughts on “The Top 25 Quotes from The Shawshank Redemption”
I’m surprised #12 didn’t take a higher spot, but now that I read over what Red said, I guess it was more of the performance of Freemen that gripped me than the actual words that he said.
#2 might be the most iconic/famous quote from Shawshank, but I think your #1 pick is more indicative of what the movie is really about. Great job with the list!
Yeah, honestly, it should be higher than some of the lines above it (I tried not to mess with my original ranking from 8 years ago too much, as noted at the top of the post). Definitely a key moment and line in the movie.
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an awesome movie , i still keep on wacthing it. I love the vocabulory used in the movie. I first got the movie when i was a t varsity doing my fourth year .
Get busy living or get busy dying!
some birds aren’t meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright
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