Movies from the 80s we couldn’t live without

Everyone has their own mental image when they think of the ’80s. Whether it’s headbands, bombastic fashion styles, or retro games, it’s hard to argue that’ 80s movies haven’t. not had one of the biggest lasting impacts, even giving birth to a whole range of breakfast cereals. Movies of the ’80s are like time capsules, preserving all of the sights and sounds that people have grown to love from the decade. With shows like Strange things and musicians like Dua Lipa embracing the nostalgia of the decade, and The Karate Kid spin off Cobra Kai accumulating great popularity, it may be useful to revisit the most culturally important films of this period.

There are so many deserving films that have helped define cinema and pop culture still to this day, with films like Terminator, Bill and Ted, Gremlins, Batman, and The Karate Kid all certainly creating lasting impacts on the social lexicon. Just as each person forms a unique and different mental image when considering the ’80s, they also choose movies differently. With that in mind, let’s dive into some of our favorite and most defining movies from the ’80s.

Related: Here’s What Makes Die Hard The Best ’80s Action Movie

8 Dirty dance


Patrick Swayze dancing in Dirty Dancing
Vestron Pictures

I’m not sure there is a more iconic couple than Dirty dance and the song “(I’ve Had) TheTime of My Life”. I would bet that when you see or hear one, you immediately think of the other. Even if you don’t like Dirty dance or haven’t seen the full movie, you’ve absolutely seen a duo trying to pull off the dance step only to fail miserably. This simple romantic flick has permeated the cultural zeitgeist and is almost automatically recalled at weddings or parties when the song plays, sometimes leading to hilarious and awkward results. No Dirty dance means that no humorous dance fails. A film without which we cannot live, indeed.


seven The Empire Strikes Back


Mark Hamill hangs Death Star in Empire Strikes Back
20th century fox

Honestly, no one can say much about The Empire Strikes Back which has not already been said at some point. Considered one of the best films of the set Star wars saga, even Mark Hamill himself reflected on the filming of the film as he neared his 40th birthday. It’s hard to go a week, sometimes even a day without seeing or hearing some Star wars reference. Do you have a “Baby Yoda” something or the like in your house? A pet named “Chewie”? Do you look at your children and say “I am your father” in a weirdly deep voice? If that’s not you, then you know someone who would likely answer yes to these questions. We have Empire thank for that, and with Boba Fett’s book now streaming it looks like Star wars isn’t going away anytime soon.

Related: The Empire Strikes Back From Bloopers & Never-before-seen 40th Anniversary Images Revealed

6 Big


Tom hanks big
20th century fox

You know how every time you go on a trip and your spouse finds the fortune teller to make a wish? Oh … is that just me? Well if that Is it that apply to you or someone you know, it’s because of the movie Big. The irony here is that she … uh, uh, those “people” who use the machine haven’t even seen the movie. Big, which really testifies to the emblematic of this concept. It’s also helped influence a whole slew of popular body swap movies, but we all know the real magic here is that Big makes Zoltar what he is today.

5 The breakfast club


The Breakfast Club Brat Pack Cast Sits Down
Universal images

The original ‘comedy drama’ for teenagers The breakfast club showed the world what this genre could be and paved the way for John Hughes to continue making films about the normal everyday life of young people. A group of children stuck in detention, a teenager who just wants a day off from school to Ferris Bueller, a child who finds himself Alone at home, and even the story of a guy trying to get home for the holidays in Planes, trains and automobiles. All of his films are relevant and work even if they are a bit dated.


4 ghost hunters


The cast of Ghostbusters is adapted
Colombia Pictures

For the theme song alone and her famous line “Who ya gonna call”, ghost hunters made the list. Both of these things are known to everyone, and with the recent release of Ghostbusters: the afterlife, surely anyone will not. On top of that, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis give iconic and proven performances in this hilarious blockbuster. It’s hard to imagine a childhood (or adulthood) without having had the Ghostbusters. There is no escaping it, and why would we want it? If only they brought back the Slimer-themed ecto cooler juice boxes.

Related: Ghostbusters Afterlife Review: Fantastic Sequel Gets The Franchise Back On Track

3 Back to the future


Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox test the car in Back to the Future
Universal images

Michael J. Fox himself recently reflected on how the Back to the future the franchise still has an impact on people to this day. Not only did the movie spawn shoe styles, hoverboard knockoffs, and the current fan favorite cartoon. Rick and Morty, but The DeLorean Motor Company still facilitates sales of its classic cars from the early and mid-1980s, as shown in the film. As recently as Avengers: Endgame we were confronted with a debate on the “rules” set out in Back to the future. The film holds up surprisingly well due to the era-specific settings of the time travel themes, setting the bar for what a time travel film should be by now.



Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox test the car in Back to the Future
Universal images

Another science fiction classic, HEY builds on director Steven Spielberg’s success with Encounters of the Third Kind and paved the way for a genre of alien sci-fi that didn’t revolve around horrific alien domination that ruins the world. With an unforgettable shiny finger and the phrase “ET phone home”, HEY is immediately recognizable, even among many young people today. If you grew up in the ’80s and’ 90s, this was an absolute must-have, and it likely shaped the way we watched and compared alien movies in the future. It also scared us all about hazmat suits. Oh … is that me again?

1 The Raiders of the Lost Ark


Harrison Ford eyes treasure in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Paramount Pictures

The very first Indiana Jones The film spawned a whole subset of globe-trotting adventure media. Especially, Grave robber and Unexplored have immersed themselves in video games and movies, while keeping the spirit of “the treasure hunt meets the supernatural gibberish” that The Raiders of the Lost Ark came to life in the 1980s. Building on the success of Star wars, Harrison Ford delivers a character almost as iconic as his counterpart Han Solo. Aging remarkably well due to the time frame in which the original films are set, we can only hope that the next one Indiana Jones 5 captures all the awesome wonders of the originals.


The story behind the ban on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in India
The story behind the ban on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in India

Indiana Jones 5 is set to hit theaters on July 29, with the return of Harrison Ford and James Mangold taking over from Spielberg as director.

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About the Author

James C. Tibbs