In 1990, Goodfellas was released worldwide and instantly became a mobster classic. Martin Scorsese served as the director of the film and also co-wrote the script with Nicholas Pileggi.

Goodfellas is an adapted screenplay from Pileggi’s novel, Wiseguys, which is based on the true story of Henry Hill and his mob associates. Since the story was based on real-life subjects, the script had to be written through a historical lens, with specific verbiage. Through extraordinary talent and well-developed research, Scorsese was able to deliver an excellent film, one that has become an icon of the gangster genre.

In this article, we’re going to look at the best quotes from Goodfellas and briefly explain the context and importance of each.

Famous Goodfellas Quotes

16. “Jimmy and I could never be made because we had Irish blood, didn’t even matter that my Mother was Sicilian.”

Goodfellas - Layla Scene

This quote is especially pertinent in the wake of the recently released The Irishman. Most of Scorsese’s gangster pictures are about the Italian Mafia, which is something the Irish can never be a part of. No matter how strong or smart you may be, there’s a ceiling on how high you can go in the Italian mob if you’re Irish.

Joe Pesci Goodfellas Quotes

15. “I need this knife Ma’. I’m gonna’ take this, is that okay?”

Goodfellas - Tommy’s Mother’s House

Here is a prime example of dramatic irony. Tommy tells his Mother that he needs a knife to cut off the hooves of a deer he struck (he says that it’s a Sin if he doesn’t.) But we as the audience know that he intends to use the knife as a weapon and as a tool to dispose of Billy Batts.

Famous Goodfellas Quotes

14. “I’m gonna’ go get the papers, get the papers.”

Goodfellas - Meet the Crew

Sometimes a supporting character can be explained in just a single sentence. For Jimmy Two-Times, that’s exactly the case. Jimmy Two-Times says everything twice because that’s his schtick.

Goodfellas Quotes Ray Liotta

13. “Jimmy was the kind of guy who rooted for the bad guy in movies.”

Goodfellas - Jimmy Conway

How do you characterize two people without any action? One way to do so is to have a character narrate about the other. That’s exactly what Liotta’s Henry Hill does in this scene.

Goodfellas Painting Quote

12. “Did Tommy ever tell you about my painting”

Goodfellas - Tommy’s Mother’s House

God Bless Tommy’s sweet Mother for cooking up dinner when her son, Henry and Jimmy show up for supplies to bury a body. It’s a strange scene yet filled with so much of that indescribable charm that Scorsese often evokes, much like the painting of two dogs and a man, “One facing East, the other facing West.”

Jimmy Conway Quotes in Goodfellas

11. “What did you say? Are you being a fucking wiseguy with me?”

Goodfellas - Christmas Party

There’s one thing you don’t want to be if you’re going to make it as a mobster and that is a wiseguy. A wiseguy is a person who thinks they’re smarter than they really are, and fails to show proper respect to their Mafia superiors. Wiseguy also happens to be the name of Pileggi’s book which is a fun allusion within the movie.

Best Henry Hill Goodfellas Quotes

10. “Everybody else in the joint was doing real time, mixed together living like pigs. But we lived alone, we owned the joint.”

Goodfellas - Prison

The benefits of being a prominent mobster don’t stop when you go to prison. That’s shown in Goodfellas when many of the character go to prison at the same time. Although locked up, the men still live like kings, smuggling in food, alcohol and drugs.

Best Karen Goodfellas Quotes

9. “You want her to visit you? Good! Let her stay up all night crying and writing letters to the parole board.”

Goodfellas - Prison Scene

Henry’s wife Karen gets the short end of the stick when he goes to prison. She’s the one that has to take care of the kids both emotionally and financially. On top of that, she also feels like she needs to smuggle contraband into the prison for Henry to use.

Joe Pesci Goodfellas Quotes

8. “Alright, I’ll tell ya’ something, go fuck your mother.”

Goodfellas - Laughing Scene

Joe Pesci’s character Tommy is how should I say, short tempered. When he feels disrespected, he strikes back like an uncoiled viper. The man on the receiving end of Tommy’s insult should just be thankful that the bite wasn’t as venomous as a gunshot wound to the head.

Best Goodfellas Quotes Ray Liotta

7. “We were treated like movie stars with muscle. We had it all just for the asking.”

Goodfellas - Ending

Goodfellas shows the highest highs and lowest lows of gangster life. Henry Hill is a man who experienced it all, and loved every minute of it. No matter the questionable morality of his actions, Henry knew that the world was at his fingertips for two reasons: fear and money.

Famous Goodfellas Quotes

6. “Now go home and get your fucking shine box.”

Goodfellas - Bar Scene

With this quote, made mobster Billy Batts made a critical mistake, and that is don’t mess with Tommy DeVitio. Although he says he was just “busting his balls,” Tommy didn’t see it that way. In telling Tommy to go home and get his shine box, Billy Batts signed his own death warrant.

Best Goodfellas Quote

5. “We always called each other good fellas.”

Goodfellas - Layla Scene

Ah yes, the old “say the name of the movie” trick. Sometimes this will make the audience scoff and say, oh no don’t say it. But here, it actually adds some strong emotional resonance. Even though these men are heartless with their actions, they still believe in friendship.

Best Goodfellas Quotes Henry Hill

4. “I’m an average nobody, I get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.”

Goodfellas - Ending

Henry Hill always dreamed of being a gangster, but even that dream eventually turned into a nightmare. After selling out his friends and entering Witness Protection, Henry is forced to be something he never wanted to be, an average nobody.

Joe Pesci Goodfellas Quotes

3. “You think I’m funny? Funny how? Funny like a clown? Do I amuse you?”

Goodfellas - Laughing Scene

This famous scene from Goodfellas is one of the films very best. While at a restaurant. Pesci and Liotta trade jabs at one another over an elaborate joke, prompting Pesci to ask “what’s so funny?” From there, tension builds as the audience is left questioning whether Pesci was ever joking at all.

Goodfellas Movie Quotes Ray Liotta

2. “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.

Goodfellas - Opening Scene

Here’s the setup for Goodfellas: who’s Henry Hill? A gangster. What has he wanted to be his entire life? A gangster. There, that’s pretty much it. Credit to Pileg​​​​gi and Scorsese for communicating Hill’s character in so few words.

Jimmy Conway Goodfellas Quotes

1. “Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.”

Goodfellas - Henry gets pinched

These are the two golden rules of being a mobster; don’t rat on your friends and keep your mouth shut. Jimmy Conway tells Henry these rules as his mentor, elder and superior. But in the end, the lesson is lost as Henry rats Jimmy out in an act of irony.


Goodfellas Script Breakdown

Did these quotes amuse you? There's more to the Goodfellas script than these iconic quotes—the characters, locations, and drama give us a complete story and a blueprint for one of the best movies ever. 

Up Next: Goodfellas Script →
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  • Chris Heckmann is a Professor of Media & Communication at Roger Williams University and graduate of UCLA’s Cinema & Media Studies Master of Arts program. When he’s not writing or teaching, he’s probably playing video games (or thinking about the next great Boston sports trade).

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