Alternate taglines from some of cinema's best

Written by:
July 25, 2021
New Line Cinema

Alternate taglines from some of cinema's best

Taglines are phrases or words that can sum up a film’s plot or a character’s intentions or bring audiences to the theater. They tell a story, convey an emotion, or hook people when they are printed on movie posters or are played in film trailers. These simple lines are an effective advertising tool in the film industry. Copywriters and graphic designers work together to pair up the perfect image and sequence of words, coming up with several versions.

Stacker looked at taglines for the top 100 movies in our best movies of all time list and chose 25 of the most intriguing alternates. From the modified to the wholly abandoned, all of these taglines took second (if not third, fourth, or 10th) place to the taglines that would land on the poster and come to define the film.

Join Stacker as we run through a list of some of the coolest alternate taglines from some of film’s best.

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1 / 25
Voltage Pictures

The Hurt Locker (2008)

- Alternate tagline: "War is a drug."
- Director: Kathryn Bigelow
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #99
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Runtime: 131 minutes

“The Hurt Locker” is about what happens when a new sergeant takes over as the leader of a military bomb disposal team trained to disarm bombs during battle. The alternate tagline, “War is a drug,” makes sense, and highlights the addictive and detrimental nature of war. But the tagline they chose, “You don’t have to be a hero to do this job. But it helps,” speaks more to the actual plot of the film.

2 / 25
Paramount Pictures

The Truman Show (1998)

- Alternate tagline: "We like to watch!"
- Director: Peter Weir
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #97
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Runtime: 103 minutes

From the time he is born, a man’s life is taped without his knowledge in the ultimate reality show. The alternate tagline taps into the audience’s need to watch and our obsession with reality shows. The tagline actually used for the film, “On the air, unaware” is much less voyeuristic and audience-friendly, and conveys exactly what the film is about.

3 / 25
Strong Heart/Demme Production

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

- Alternate tagline: "May the silence be broken!"
- Director: Jonathan Demme
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #95
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Runtime: 118 minutes

This film based on the novel by Thomas Harris features a young F.B.I. cadet (Jodie Foster) who needs the help of a shrewd, imprisoned serial killer (Anthony Hopkins) to find Buffalo Bill, another serial killer who skins his victims. The alternate tagline is a blanket and general statement, while the tagline used on the poster, "Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Brilliant. Cunning. Psychotic. In his mind lies the clue to a ruthless killer. Clarice Starling, FBI. Brilliant. Vulnerable. Alone. She must trust him to stop the killer," tells the audience about the character tensions and clues to the plot of the movie.

4 / 25
Jalem Productions

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

- Alternate tagline: "Nobody can eat 50 eggs."
- Director: Stuart Rosenberg
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #86
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Runtime: 127 minutes

Paul Newman stars as Luke, a man sentenced to hard time on a chain gang in a Southern prison led by a prison boss who schemes to break his spirit. While the alternate tagline refers to a famous scene in the movie and cinema history, the actual tagline displayed on the movie’s poster, “The man...and the motion picture that do not conform,” spoke not of just a scene in the film but of the main theme, Luke’s unwillingness to conform, and his determination of spirit.

5 / 25
Paramount Vantage

No Country for Old Men (2007)

- Alternate tagline: "How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?"
- Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #81
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Runtime: 122 minutes

In this film, a hunter stumbles on a drug trafficking deal gone wrong and flees with the money, trying to outrun the law and the criminals. The alternate tagline—from author Cormac McCarthy’s novel upon which the film is based—is more wordy and evasive than the line they used for the film, “There are no clean getaways,” which reveals the conflict to come.

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6 / 25
Focus Features

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

- Alternate tagline: "Would you erase me?"
- Director: Michel Gondry
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #80
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Runtime: 108 minutes

This surreal film, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, features a couple who employ a procedure to erase their memories of each other from their minds after a breakup. While the alternate tagline asks a question that gives very little information about the film, the tagline used in the film explores the difficulty that comes with erasing someone you love from your life: “You can erase someone from your mind. Getting them out of your heart is another story.”

7 / 25
Universal Pictures

Back to the Future (1985)

- Alternate tagline: "17 year old Marty McFly got home early last night. 30 years early."
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #79
- Stacker score: 89.6
- Runtime: 116 minutes

When an experiment goes wrong, teenager Marty McFly travels back to the 1950s to save his family in this classic science-fiction film. The alternate tagline is actually a simplified, more succinct version of the tagline used for the movie. “He was never in time for his classes...He wasn’t in time for dinner...Then one day...he wasn’t in his time at all,” is a bit of a mouthful, but it must have worked because the film became an instant classic.

8 / 25
ABC Entertainment

Nashville (1975)

- Alternate tagline: "The Home of Country Music"
- Director: Robert Altman
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #78
- Stacker score: 90.1
- Runtime: 160 minutes

Homing in on the lives of five people in Nashville’s music industry in the days leading up to a political convention, “Nashville” won an Oscar for the best Original Song. While the alternate tagline focused on one aspect of the film—country music—it didn’t take into account the wide range of topics and characters that the film covered. “The damndest thing you ever saw,” the tagline that made it onto the poster, is the perfect accompaniment to the poster's Americana firework theme.

9 / 25
Brandywine Productions

Alien (1979)

- Alternate tagline: "It's Alien, the 8th passenger."
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #63
- Stacker score: 90.1
- Runtime: 117 minutes

A crew in space receives a distress call and one of their own is attacked by an alien life form in this classic film. While the alternate tagline makes sense within the context of the movie, the one we all know, “In space, no one can hear you scream,” speaks more to the horror elements of the film, and is such a pithy tagline it became a cultural reference in its own right.

10 / 25
Warner Bros./Seven Arts

The Wild Bunch (1969)

- Alternate tagline: "Suddenly a new West has emerged. Suddenly it was sundown for nine men. Suddenly their day was over. Suddenly the sky was bathed in blood."
- Director: Sam Peckinpah
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #60
- Stacker score: 90.6
- Runtime: 135 minutes

Starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine, “The Wild Bunch” follows a gang of outlaws as they take on one last job in Mexico in a time when the traditional Old West is dying. “Unchanged men in a changing land. Out of step, out of place and desperately out of time,” the tagline used for the film, is vaguer than the alternate tagline, perhaps in a move to add an air of mystery in hopes of drawing in the audience.

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11 / 25
Walt Disney Productions

Fantasia (1940)

- Alternate tagline: "Fantasia Will Amazia!"
- Director: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe Jr., Norman Ferguson, David Hand, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Ben Sharpsteen
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #59
- Stacker score: 90.6
- Runtime: 125 minutes

This experimental, early Walt Disney film features Mickey Mouse as the wondrous wizard in this melding of music and visual imagery. While a cute play on words, the alternate tagline is certainly not as informative or boastful as the tagline ultimately used for the film, "Walt Disney's Technicolor FEATURE triumph."

12 / 25
Warner Bros.

The Dark Knight (2008)

- Alternate tagline: "I Believe In Harvey Dent."
- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #52
- Stacker score: 90.6
- Runtime: 152 minutes

In this installment in the Batman franchise, the chosen tagline, “Welcome to a world without rules,” speaks to the chaos and havoc the Joker introduces not only to the city of Gotham but to Batman, whose battle with the Joker becomes very personal. While the alternate tagline focuses on a character who holds a deep connection to Gotham, he is only one character in a cast of many.

13 / 25
Paramount Vantage

There Will Be Blood (2007)

- Alternate tagline: "When Ambition Meets Faith"
- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #46
- Stacker score: 91.1
- Runtime: 158 minutes

This film starring Daniel Day-Lewis is loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel “Oil!” Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, who comes from nothing, wants everything, and finds great wealth in oil. The alternate tagline blends one of the major conflicts of the film, the ambition of Daniel Plainview and the religiosity of Eli Sunday. The film’s actual tagline, “There Will Be Greed. There Will Be Vengeance,” fittingly fits the construction of the title and lays out what drives Plainview throughout the film.

14 / 25
Warner Bros.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

- Alternate tagline: "Only the rainbow can duplicate its brilliance!"
- Director: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #44
- Stacker score: 91.7
- Runtime: 102 minutes

This film, based on the adventures of Robin Hood and his Merry Men who steal from the rich to give to the poor, featured Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. While the alternate tagline is fairly broad, the tagline featured on the film poster, “The Best Loved Bandit Of All Time!” says it all.

15 / 25
Lucasfilm

Star Wars (1977)

- Alternate tagline: "Somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now."
- Director: George Lucas
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #37
- Stacker score: 91.7
- Runtime: 121 minutes

The first film of one of the greatest and most successful film franchises of all time, Luke Skywalker comes of age and battles the ultimate space villain, Darth Vader, with the help of a ragtag crew. The film’s dull alternate tagline lacks pizzazz, certainly not fitting for such an epic space adventure, while the tagline they chose for the film, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." went on to become part of the cultural lexicon.

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16 / 25
Warner Bros.

Goodfellas (1990)

- Alternate tagline: "Murderers come with smiles."
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #33
- Stacker score: 92.2
- Runtime: 146 minutes

Based on the story of mobster Henry Hill and his life in the mafia, this film achieved cult-classic mob movie status. The alternate tagline leaves some ambiguity as to what the film is about, while the tagline actually used in the film, "Three Decades of Life in the Mafia," nails down the exact plot giving the who and what of the movie.

17 / 25
RKO Radio Pictures

Notorious (1946)

- Alternate tagline: "Electric tension!"
- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #26
- Stacker score: 93.2
- Runtime: 102 minutes

Starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, this Hitchcock thriller finds a woman being recruited to spy on a group of Nazis. One of the main taglines for the film focused on the romance that blossoms between Grant and Bergman’s characters in the film: “All she was...was all he wanted!” It's a bit more specific than the alternate tagline, which is ambivalent and could either be focusing on the film’s plot or the character’s romance.

18 / 25
FortyFour Studios

WALL-E (2008)

- Alternate tagline: "In space, no one can hear you clean."
- Director: Andrew Stanton
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #22
- Stacker score: 93.2
- Runtime: 98 minutes

The alternate tagline to this Disney Pixar computer-animated film about a waste-collecting robot who tries to restore humanity is a comical poke at the famous tagline from the 1979 sci-fi film “Alien,” “In space, no one can hear you scream.” The tagline Pixar ultimately chose for the film, “From the humans who brought you ‘Finding Nemo,’” combines a hint of humor and credit to the same team who brought audiences the popular animated film, “Finding Nemo.”

19 / 25
New Line Cinema

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

- Alternate tagline: "Power can be held in the smallest of things..."
- Director: Peter Jackson
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #17
- Stacker score: 93.8
- Runtime: 178 minutes

The film version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” features a hobbit and several of his companions searching for a powerful ring, which they need to destroy to save Middle-earth. The alternate tagline alludes to the ring—and perhaps hobbits—but does not directly reference it, while the film’s final tagline, "One ring to rule them all,” makes the ring the explicit focus.

20 / 25
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

- Alternate tagline: "Singin' Swingin' Glorious Feelin' Technicolor Musical"
- Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #12
- Stacker score: 94.8
- Runtime: 103 minutes

Featuring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, this musical comedy features a studio moving from silent films to “the talkies.” The alternate tagline is a more generic way to highlight the modern technological advance that the actual studio hoped to draw modern film watchers to: bright, bold Technicolor. The tagline that was used instead incorporated a line from the song—“What a glorious feeling”—into a similar highlight of the Technicolor and musical descriptions: “What a Glorious Feeling — MGM's Technicolor Musical Treasure!”

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21 / 25
Shamley Productions

Psycho (1960)

- Alternate tagline: "Don't give away the ending - it's the only one we have!"
- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #11
- Stacker score: 94.8
- Runtime: 109 minutes

In one of Hitchcock’s most well-known films, Norman Bates, a young man who runs the Bates Motel with his domineering mother, welcomes a woman who is on the run from the law after stealing a large sum of money. The alternate tagline and the actual tagline, “It is REQUIRED That You See Psycho From the Very Beginning!” both tease the pivotal moments in the film, the beginning and the end. Both ask something of the audience. One begs audiences to keep the ending to themselves, and the other to watch the film from the beginning.

22 / 25
RKO Radio Pictures

Citizen Kane (1941)

- Alternate tagline: "I hate him! I love him! He's a scoundrel! He's a saint! He's crazy! He's a genius!"
- Director: Orson Welles
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #9
- Stacker score: 95.3
- Runtime: 119 minutes

The story of publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane and his final deathbed word, “Rosebud,” this film was loosely based on the life of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. Kane proves a difficult personality and the alternate tagline speaks to his character while the tagline chosen for the film, “Everybody’s talking about it! It’s terrific!” talks more about the audience reaction to the film.

23 / 25
Universal Pictures

Schindler's List (1993)

- Alternate tagline: "The list is life."
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #8
- Stacker score: 95.3
- Runtime: 195 minutes

Steven Spielberg’s epic World War II film is about industrialist Oskar Schindler and his efforts to help Jewish people persecuted by the Nazis. The alternate tagline offers an accurate four-word summary of the film and is featured on the VHS cover. The other tagline listed for the film is an actual quote from Oskar Schindler: "Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire,” and finds its roots in scripture.

24 / 25
Miramax

Pulp Fiction (1994)

- Alternate tagline: "I don't smile for pictures."
- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #6
- Stacker score: 95.3
- Runtime: 154 minutes

The lives of several people including a boxer, hitmen, and a gangster are inextricably tied together in this Tarantino classic starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Samuel L. Jackson. The alternate tagline refers to something the character, Mr. Wolf, said when he was brought in to clean up a mess quickly and provide a bit of levity. The actual film tagline, “You won't know the facts until you've seen the fiction,” is broader in scope and speaks directly to the plot of the film.

25 / 25
Orion-Nova Productions

12 Angry Men (1957)

- Alternate tagline: "They have twelve scraps of paper... Twelve chances to kill!"
- Director: Sidney Lumet
- Rank in Stacker's top 100 movies of all time: #2
- Stacker score: 96.4
- Runtime: 96 minutes

One man holds out hope that he can prevent a great injustice as the members of a jury gather to hash out what really happened in what appears to be an open and shut case in this film starring Henry Fonda. Essentially, the alternate tagline and the tagline used on the film’s poster, “Life Is In Their Hands—Death Is On Their Minds!” convey the same message.

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