30 A Few Good Men Quotes on Truth, Accountability, and More

Read these A Few Good Men quotes that are sure to change the way you think!

A Few Good Men is a movie that’s anything but simple. Through this movie, we get a better perspective of the honor that our military holds, as well as the moral compasses that govern the world.

In the movie, William Santiago dies after supposedly being given a Code Red. His platoon mates, PFC Downey and Lance Corporal Dawson, were then accused of murder. However, the two pleaded for their innocence, and Lieutenant Kaffee was assigned to defend them.

Because of many dead ends, Kaffee felt it was a lost cause and wanted to give up. But, he didn’t, and they were able to find the culprit. And, while Downey and Dawson were to be discharged, Kaffee helped them understand what it truly means to have honor.

Learn more about Kaffee and what truly transpired in the movie by reading these quotes! Read through to the end and find some thought-provoking lines that’ll shift your perspective.

And make sure to check out these Interstellar quotes and Little Women quotes.

Best A Few Good Men Quotes

1. “We joined the Marines because we wanted to live our lives by a certain code, and we found it in the Corps. Now you’re asking us to sign a piece of paper that says we have no honor. You’re asking us to say we’re not Marines. If a court decides that what we did was wrong, then I’ll accept whatever punishment they give. But I believe I was right, sir. I believe I did my job, and I will not dishonor myself, my unit, or the Corps so I can go home in six months, sir.” – Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson

2. “You see, Danny, I can deal with the bullets, and the bombs, and the blood. I don’t want money, and I don’t want medals. What I do want is for you to stand there in that faggoty white uniform and, with your Harvard mouth, extend me some f*cking courtesy. You gotta ask me nicely.” – Colonel Nathan R. Jessup

3. “We’re in the business of saving lives, Matthew. With every degree that we allow ourselves to move off the mark of perfection as officers, more people die—that’s a responsibility that I take pretty seriously.” – Colonel Nathan R. Jessup

4. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “Have you ever spent time in an infantry unit, son?”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “No, sir.”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “Ever served in a forward area?”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “No, sir.”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “Ever put your life in another man’s hands, ask him to put his life in yours?”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “No, sir.”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “We follow orders, son. We follow orders, or people die. It’s that simple. Are we clear?”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Yes, sir.”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “Are we clear?”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Crystal.”

5. Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Lieutenant Kendrick, can I call you John?”

First Lieutenant Jonathan James Kendrick: “No, you may not.”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Have I done something to offend you?”

First Lieutenant Jonathan James Kendrick: “No, I like all you Navy boys. Every time we’ve gotta go someplace to fight, you fellas always give us a ride.”

6. Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Do you disagree?”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “Certainly not in principle. I disagree only inasmuch as I disagree that a paraplegic is entitled to foxtrot. It’d be nice; it just ain’t possible.”

7. Lieutenant Kaffee: “Colonel Jessup, did you order the Code Red?”

Judge Julius Alexander Randolph: “You don’t have to answer that question!”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “I’ll answer the question. You want answers?”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “I think I’m entitled to them.”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “You want answers?!”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee:” I want the truth!”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup:” You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know—that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said, ‘Thank you,’ and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!”

8. Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway: “You put him on the stand, and you get it from him!”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Oh, we get it from him? Yes! No problem! We get it from him. Colonel Jessup, isn’t it true that you ordered the Code Red on Santiago?”

Lieutenant Weinberg: “Listen, we’re all a little—.”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Eeehhh! I’m sorry, your time’s run out! What do we have for the losers, judge? Well, for our defendants, it’s a lifetime at exotic Fort Leavenworth! And, for defense counsel Kaffee, that’s right, it’s a court-martial! Yes, Johnny! After falsely accusing a highly decorated Marine Corps officer of conspiracy and perjury, Lieutenant Kaffee will have a long and prosperous career teaching typewriter maintenance at the Rocco Globbo School for Women! Thank you for playing, ‘Should we or should we not follow the advice of the galactically stupid!’”

9. “You don’t need a patch on your arm to have honor.” – Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee

10. Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Is this funny, sir?”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “No, it isn’t. It’s tragic.”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Do you have an answer to the question, Colonel?”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “Absolutely. My answer is I don’t have the first damn clue. Maybe he was an early riser and liked to pack in the morning. And maybe he didn’t have any friends. I’m an educated man, but I’m afraid I can’t speak intelligently about the travel habits of William Santiago. What I do know is that he was set to leave the base at 0600. Now, are these really the questions I was called here to answer? Phone calls and footlockers? Please tell me that you have something more, Lieutenant. These two Marines are on trial for their lives. Please tell me their lawyer hasn’t pinned their hopes on a phone bill.”

11. “I hate casualties, Matthew. A Marine smothers a grenade and saves his platoon—that Marine’s doing his job. There are casualties—even in victory.” – Colonel Nathan R. Jessup

12. “Lieutenant Kaffee, I believe in God, and in His son, Jesus Christ. And because I do, I can say this: Private Santiago isn’t dead because of a Code Red. He’s dead because he had no honor. He’s dead because he had no Code. And God was watching.” – First Lieutenant Jonathan James Kendrick

A Few Good Men Quotes That Put People’s Rights Forward

13. Captain Jack Ross: “Corporal Barnes, I hold here the Marine Outline for Recruit Training. You’re familiar with this book?”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “Yes, sir.”

Captain Jack Ross: “Have you read it?”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “Yes, sir.”

Captain Jack Ross: “Good. Would you turn to the chapter that deals with code reds, please?”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “Sir?”

Captain Jack Ross: “Just flip to the page of the book that discusses code reds.”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “Well—well, you see, sir, Code Red is a term that we use—I mean, just down at Gitmo. I don’t know if it’s actually—.”

Captain Jack Ross: “Ah, we’re in luck then. Standard Operating Procedures, Rifle Security Company, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Now, I assume we’ll find the term Code Red and its definition in that book. Am I correct?”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “No, sir.”

Captain Jack Ross: “No? Corporal Barnes, I’m a Marine. Is there no book, no manual or pamphlet, no set of orders or regulations that lets me know that, as a Marine, one of my duties is to perform code reds?”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “No, sir. No book, sir.”

Captain Jack Ross: “No further questions.”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Corporal, would you turn to the page in this book that says where the mess hall is, please?”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “Well, Lieutenant Kaffee, that’s not in the book, sir.”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “You mean to say in all your time at Gitmo, you’ve never had a meal?”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “No, sir. Three squares a day, sir.”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “I don’t understand. How did you know where the mess hall was if it’s not in this book?”

Corporal Jeffrey Owen Barnes: “Well, I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time, sir.”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “No more questions.”

14. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “What the hell is this?”

Captain Jack Ross: “Colonel Jessup, you have the right to remain silent. Any statement you make—.”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “I’m being charged with a crime? Is that what this is? I’m being charged with a crime? This is funny. That’s what this is. This is—I’m gonna rip the eyes out of your head and piss into your dead skull! You f*cked with the wrong Marine!”

Captain Jack Ross: “Colonel Jessup! Do you understand these rights as I have just read them to you?”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “You f*ckin’ people—you have no idea how to defend a nation. All you did was weaken a country today, Kaffee. That’s all you did. You put people’s lives in danger. Sweet dreams, son.”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “Don’t call me son. I’m a lawyer and an officer in the United States Navy, and you’re under arrest, you son of a b*tch.”

15. Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “I’m not through with my examination. Sit down.”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “Colonel!”

Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “What’s that?”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “I would appreciate it if you would address me as ‘Colonel’ or ‘Sir.’ I believe I’ve earned it.”

Judge Julius Alexander Randolph: “Defense counsel will address the witness as ‘Colonel’ or ‘Sir.’”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup: “I don’t know what the hell kind of unit you’re running here.”

Judge Julius Alexander Randolph: “And the witness will address this court as ‘Judge’ or ‘Your Honor.’ I’m quite certain I’ve earned it. Take your seat, Colonel.”

16. “This is a sales pitch. It’s not going to be won by the law; it’s going to be won by the lawyers.” – Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee

17. “The fabric of this base, the foundation of the unit, the spirit of the Corps, these things are worth fighting for. And there’s no one who doesn’t know that who’s ever made the choice to put on the uniform.” – Colonel Nathan R. Jessup

18. Private First Class Louden Downey: “Colonel Jessup said he ordered the Code Red! What did we do wrong?”

Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway: “It’s not that simple—.”

Private First Class Louden Downey: “What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong!”

Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson: “Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willie.”

Meaningful A Few Good Men Quotes to Read Today

19. “I run my unit how I run my unit. You want to investigate me, roll the dice, and take your chances. I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans who are trained to kill me, so don’t think for one second that you can come down here, flash a badge, and make me nervous.” – Colonel Nathan R. Jessup

20. Captain West: “Commander Galloway, why don’t you get yourself a cup of coffee?”

Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway: “Thank you, sir; I’m fine.”

Captain West: “Commander, I’d like you to leave the room, so we can talk about you behind your back.”

Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway: “Certainly, sir.”

21. Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee: “I’m just not that crazy about boats, that’s all.”

Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway: “Jesus Christ, Kaffee, you’re in the Navy, for crying out loud.”

22. “You and Dawson, you both live in the same dream world. It doesn’t matter what I believe. It only matters what I can prove. So don’t tell me what I know, or don’t know. I know the law.” – Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee

23. “A crime? What crime did he commit? Lieutenant Kendrick, Dawson brought a hungry guy some food. What crime did he commit?” – Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee

24. Lieutenant Sam Weinberg: “Why do you like them so much?”

Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway: “Because they stand on the wall, and say, ‘Nothing is going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.’”

More A Few Good Men Quotes for Fans of Aaron Sorkin’s Play

25. “My methods of leadership are what brought me to this base.” – Aaron Sorkin, Author

26. “I did my job. I’d do it again.” – Aaron Sorkin, Author

27. “Sir, a Code Red is a disciplinary action brought against a Marine who’s fallen out of line.” – Aaron Sorkin, Author

28. “I’d kill you. I’d kill everyone in this room. I’d kill anyone to protect what I am paid to protect.” – Aaron Sorkin, Author

29. “I’m not going to trip him. I’m gonna lead him right where he’s dying to go. ” – Aaron Sorkin, Author

30. “You don’t even know me. Normally it takes someone hours to discover I’m not fit to handle a defense.” – Aaron Sorkin, Author

What Lessons Can We Learn From These Quotes?

There’s always a power play between the high and mighty and the small and feeble. A Few Good Men shows this through Colonel Jessup and the accused: Dawson and Downey. Yet, though this is common, let’s not lose hope that someone will help us fight for our rights, like Kaffee.

Even when all hope seemed lost, Kaffee stood his ground—no matter how much he wanted to give up and how much opposition was there. He embodied the Marines’ honor and helped Downey and Dawson do the same.

For those who don’t know, “A few good men,” is a part of the slogan for the recruitment campaign of the US Marine Corps. To be in the military means serving the country, its people, and its cause. As a Marine, it is one’s honor to be at the forefront of a nation’s defense.

As Kaffee said, “You don’t need a patch on your arm to have honor.” If you stand by your moral compass and be accountable for your mistakes, you will be a man of integrity.

With that, we hope we were able to ignite a fire in your heart. Always seek the truth, try to do good, and be accountable for your actions. Revisit this list of quotes whenever you need a reminder!

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

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This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

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