With the rise of geek fandoms in mainstream popular culture, plenty of movies, books, and TV shows have tried (with varying levels of success) to capture what it means to be a super-fan. The Big Bang Theory rides the fine line between lovingly poking fun and blatant mocking while movies like Fanboys and Knights of Badassdom are content to just reference Star Wars and LARPing without any deeper examination of it.
Back in 1999, before San Diego Comic Con had become a destination event, Galaxy Quest smartly examined sci-fi convention culture and the people within it. The film follows Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), star of the short-lived sci-fi show Galaxy Quest. Even though the show has been off the air for years, Jason and his co-stars Gwen (Sigourney Weaver), Alexander (Alan Rickman), Fred (Tony Shalhoub), and Tommy (Daryl Mitchell) still travel the convention circuit, spouting their catchphrases and selling autographed headshots. Everything is a bit humdrum for this group of minor celebrities before an alien race who has intercepted broadcast signals beaming reruns of the show mistakes the episodes for “historical documents.” When the evil Sarris threatens to wipe them out, they recruit Jason and the rest of the cast to go on a real-life space adventure.
Read on for the funniest and most quotable lines from Galaxy Quest.
“Never give up, never surrender.” – Jason
Jason Nesmith’s most famous line from the show Galaxy Quest comes up again and again throughout the movie, and to Tim Allen’s credit, the line feels unique and fresh each time we hear it. When he is at a convention in front of a crowd of screaming fans, the line is boisterous and ridiculously egotistical. When he is drinking at home alone and watching reruns of Galaxy Quest on basic cable, it is pathetic and sad. When he is stranded on an alien planet with his estranged co-stars, he is gloating that they were in peril while he gets to play the part of the brave leader again. The line is sweet, though, when it comes from Mathesar (Enrico Colatoni) in his moment of victory.
“I played Richard III. There were five curtain calls. I was an actor once, damn it. Now look at me. Look at me! I won’t go out there and say that stupid line one more time.” – Alexander
“…You had a part people loved. My TV Guide interview was six paragraphs about my BOOBS and how they fit into my suit. No one bothered to ask me what I do on the show.” – Gwen
This scene is a great introduction to the principle characters. Gwen is the consummate professional, but she is frustrated that people mostly want to talk about her body. Alexander is a classically trained actor, like Leonard Nimoy or Sir Alec Guinness, and he is terrified that his legacy will be a role that he didn’t care about. Tommy is the child actor, all grown up, and Fred is somehow both the most normal and oddball of the featured group. Alexander’s meltdown (and Fred’s faithful recitation of his meltdown) is hilarious and perfectly timed by Alan Rickman and Tony Shalhoub.
“By Grabthar’s Hammer, what a savings.” -Alexander
Alexander’s most famous line from the show Galaxy Quest is, “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged,” and it gets repeated a lot, even though Rickman only says the line in its entirety once in the film when he does a version for a store grand opening.
“There’s a red thingy moving towards the green thingy… I think we’re the green thingy.” -Guy
Guy (Sam Rockwell) was on an episode of Galaxy Quest back in the day as an extra, though nobody really remembers because he was killed off before the first commercial break. He accidentally ends up with the rest of the cast on the spaceship, thinking it was a fan gig, and when he realizes that it is all real, he convinces himself that he is doomed because he died on the show. His observation that the “red thingy” is moving towards the “green thingy” is the moment where he starts to grasp their predicament, but he isn’t panicking, yet.
“Look, I have one job on this lousy ship. It’s stupid, but I’m going to do it, okay?” -Gwen
The frustrations continue for Gwen, whose only job on the ship is repeating everything said by the ship’s computer. Despite the limitations of her role, Gwen is still a professional, and as an actress, she is ready to play her part. It’s a stupid job, but somebody’s got to do it.
“Sure, they’re cute now. In a second, they’re going to get mean, and they’re going to get ugly somehow, and there’s going to be a million more of them.” -Guy
The crew has to take a detour to an alien planet to obtain a new energy source for the ship where they run into aliens that look like small, adorable alien children. Guy accurately predicts, though, that those cute little aliens will inevitably turn scary and come after them, and he starts to wonder if any of the other cast members ever watched the show. The whole thing is like “The Trouble with Tribbles,” if Tribbles had sharp, pointy teeth and ate everything, including each other.
“You’re just going to have to figure out what it wants. What is its motivation?” -Alexander
“It’s a rock monster. It doesn’t have motivation.” -Jason
“See, that’s your problem, Jason. You were never serious about the craft.” -Alexander
The main source of friction between Jason and Alexander is their attitude towards acting. Jason is a hammy, William Shatner-esque performer who lives for the spotlight, whereas Alexander craves respectability and critical acclaim as a real actor. Jason’s escape from the rock monster is a great scene with so many jokes and Star Trek references packed in, but Alexander arguing with Jason about the rock monster’s “motivation” really sums up their relationship.
“Did I just hear that the animal turned inside out, and then it exploded?” -Jason
Everything from the show Galaxy Quest has been replicated in precise detail by this alien race, including a machine that can beam up crew members trapped on a planet’s surface. Unfortunately, if it isn’t executed perfectly, whatever person or creature gets beamed up might not reassemble properly, and that can lead to inside-out pig-lizards exploding their guts all over the ship.
“What is this thing? I mean, it serves no useful purpose for there to be a bunch of chompy, crushy things in the middle of a hallway. No, I mean we shouldn’t have to do this, it makes no logical sense, why is it here?” -Gwen
“‘Cause it’s on the television show.” -Jason
“Well forget it! I’m not doing it! This episode was badly written!” -Gwen
Gwen and Jason have to get to the center of the ship to manually disable the self-destruct sequence. Along the way, they have to climb through air ducts, run through tunnels, and go through the “chompers,” which sound like the lazy creation of a bored writer brought to life by detail oriented intergalactic fans.
“Where are you going with all those fireworks?” -Brandon’s Mom
“Well, the Protector got super-accelerated coming out of the black hole, and it’s, like, nailed the atmosphere at Mach 15, which, you guys know, is pretty unstable, obviously, so we’re gonna help Laredo guide it on the vox ultra-frequency carrier and use Roman candles for visual confirmation.” -Brandon
“Uh, alright, dinner’s at seven.” -Brandon’s Mom
This exchange is familiar to anyone who has brainy or really geeky friends or family. Brandon talks about black holes, Mach 15, and vox ultra-frequency carriers as if everyone else knows exactly what he’s talking about. Fortunately, his mother has learned that he isn’t doing drugs or getting in trouble, so it is best to just smile, nod, and remind him to be home for dinner.
Bonus: Some of the cast, including Sam Rockwell and Daryl Mitchell performed this incredibly corny rap on-set to celebrate Sigourney Weaver’s agent’s birthday, and fortunately, the video made its way to the internet.