Arnold's 10 Best Movie Roles of All Time

A look back at the best roles and one-liners in our executive editor's filmography.

best arnold schwarzenegger movie roles

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to form as a wise-cracking one-liner machine and ultimate badass is more than welcome, and incites a sense of nostaliga we can't let go of. That's why we’re taking a look back of some our executive editor’s greatest roles, and ranking them like true fanboys. Arnold is undeniably the ultimate action star, so pitting role against role is almost as impossible a task as refraining from asking him to do some of his classic lines in person.

Now, let's break the ice:


10. Mr. Freeze, Batman and Robin

Yes, Batman and Robin made this list. Yes, it’s a terrible movie. But neon-blue Arnold is its saving grace, with lines like “Freeze in Hell!” “Let’s kick some ice!” and “You’re not sending me to the cooler!”

Looking at the movie as camp, there’s no better casting choice for Batman’s frigid foe. If you are militantly against this movie, you should chill.

9. Detective John Kimble, Kindergarten Cop

The kids almost steal the show from Arnold in this 1990 classic comedy. Seeing a warmer side of Schwarzenegger in this and Twins was an enjoyable departure from a long list of R-rated action flicks. Kindergarten Cop was an accessible film for young kids in the ‘90s who weren’t allowed to see Commando, Predator or The Terminator, and yielded two of the most quoted Arnold lines ever: “IT’S NOT A TUMAH!” and “Who is your daddy and what does he do?”

8. Ben Richards, The Running Man

Some of Arnold’s best movies are adaptations of science fiction novels, and this was his first. The Running Man is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and features lead character Ben Richards in a fight-to-the-death TV show based in a dystopian future. This movie is The Hunger Games on hallucinogens, with chainsaw-armed motorcyclists and a fat dude in a robo-suit coming for Arnold’s blood, and the over-arching commentary on people’s obsession with violence and entertainment is similar to Robocop. Richard Dawson, the infamously kissy Family Feud host, plays the villain and owner/host of the show.

7. Quaid, Total Recall

1990’s Total Recall trumps the abysmal 2012 adaptation in every single way. Extremely loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, Arnold plays lead character Douglas Quaid, a working man (or is he?) on Mars (or is he?) who is constantly being chased down for elimination to cover up a conspiracy involving oxygen resources, women with three boobs, and the existence of an ancient alien race … or is he? Aside from Arnold's performance, the special effects in this movie stand on their own for their innovation, weirdness and ability to make you yell "WTF?"

6. T-800, The Terminator

Arnold's quietest role is also one of his most notable and quotable. After conquering as Conan, Schwarzenegger turned villain for the first time as the intimidating and near-invincible T-800 we all know and love-hate. Don't call his acting robotic though--Arnold trained hard with both weapons handling and movement to make his role believable. And his signature line up there? In drafts it was "I'll come back" and was almost delivered as "I will be back." Thankfully we can't redefine history like Skynet.