A Brief History of The F-Bomb in 10 Movies

6. Be Cool (2005)

At the turn of the century, Disney, Pixar and other animation studios seem to be the only ones producing G and PG-rated movies. With violence at an all-time high (and since the F-Word has already invaded cable TV and the internet), the F-Word is caught in the middle of a seesaw battle between PG-13 and the R-Rating.

Barry Sonnenfeld’s Get Shorty (1995) was a critical and commercial hit ($115 M on a $30 M budget) that author Elmore Leonard wrote the sequel after its success—Be Cool saw the return of John Travolta as shylock turned movie producer Chili Palmer with another star-studded cast: Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, Danny DeVito, Cedric the Entertainer and Harvey Keitel. But, the movie was a disaster.

The only glaring exceptions the revelation that wrestler Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson with the help of his eyebrow, could actually do comedy. Director F. Gary Gray told in an interview that the movie’s shift from an R-rating to PG-13, was among the reasons that hurt the movie.

PG-13 and the F-Word has a strict relationship. Introduced in 1984, PG-13 was squeezed in between PG and R mainly because of the violence in the movies Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins, both products of Steven Spielberg, who suggested the new rating. PG-13 was born and the US Ratings Board imposed that the word “fuck” can only be used once, and should not be in a sexual context.

You go over and beyond that and it’s an R for you. That is why so many movies that try to dodge the R-rating, made sure their one instance of “fuck” is worth it. Be Cool has this scene where Chili Palmer (Travolta) and Tommy Athens (James Woods) drive in a car:

Palmer: “Do you know that unless you’re willing to use the R rating, you can only say the ‘F’ word once?”
Tommy: “You’re kidding me.”
Palmer: “You know what I say? Fuck that. I’m done.”

What Travolta is probably hinting at is that there is a big difference between PG-13 and R in terms of movie attendance which results in ticket sales. Seven of the top highest grossing movies in domestic box-office are all PG-13, while the highest grossing R-rated movie is a distant #32 with only 5 in the top 100 (against PG-13’s 60).

It simply means that if a movie wants to profit heavily, it has to contend with just one F-Word, even if the story requires more. This is the reason some movies make clever moves in the script to get away with more than just one F-Word, as is the case of The Martian (2015) and Battleship (2012), wherein several F-Bombs are either not fully enunciated or masked in some way.

The highest grossing movie with an F-Bomb is Titanic (1997) which also includes one flipped bird courtesy of Kate Winslet. The highest grossing R-Rated movie with numerous F-Bombs is none other than Deadpool (2017).


7. The King’s Speech (2010)

The King's Speech (2010)

2010’s Oscar for Best Picture The King’s Speech directed by Tom Hooper tells the story of England’s King George IV (Colin Firth) who suffers from stammering and seeks the help of an Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to deal with his impediment. In one of the best scenes in the movie, Logue goads George into a sudden burst of foul-mouthed tirade:

Logue: “Do you know the F-Word?
George: “F…f…fornication?”
Logue: “Oh, Bertie.”
George (tries again): “Fuck. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck and fuck! Fuck, fuck and bugger! Bugger, bugger, buggerty, buggerty, buggerty, fuck, fuck, arse! Balls. Balls. Fuckity, shit, shit, fuck and willy. Willy, shit and fuck and…tits.”

The Oscars never had any problem with the F-Word or a cluster of F-Bombs.Of the 34 Best Pictures since the introduction of the PG-13 rating, 65% of them used the F-Word. The remaining 35% that didn’t use the word were either period films (Gladiator, Shakespeare in Love), Westerns (Dances With Wolves, Unforgiven), PG-rated movies (Out of Africa, Amadeus) and one that was just plain wholesome (Driving Miss Daisy).

The Departed (2006) leads the pack of best pictures that dropped the F-Bomb with 237, followed by Platoon, Crash and The Hurt Locker. Some of the more memorable lines: “Viet-fuckin-Nam!” (Forrest Gump), “There are no demi-gods you fucking pagan.” (Million Dollar Baby), “Oh fuck you! Go save a kitten in a tree fuckin queers!” (The Departed), “Just don’t fuck my Dad, alright?” (American Beauty), and “She’s a fucking human being, man! Fuck you!” (Platoon).


8. X-Men: First Class (2011)

X-Men First Class

During the Golden Age of comics, superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Captain America were infallible role models who would never swear, let alone say the F-Word. Even the worst of their enemies—those megalomaniac super-villains couldn’t shout profanities while destroying the world. But, that changed when the magic of CG made it possible to make an X-Men (2000) movie. Wolverine made his appearance on screen and that made all the difference.

Unlike other super-heroes with their super strength or nifty gadgets, Wolverine’s indestructible adamantium claws were not made to scare the bad guys so they’d surrender and be locked behind bars.They were made to maim, dismember and kill. With such vulgar display of violence, how can it not go hand in hand with vulgar words? Everyone knew that sooner or later, Wolverine will have to drop the F-Bomb.

It took 11 years for X-Men: First Class to make it happen. In a brief appearance, Wolverine tells Charles Xavier and Magneto to “Go fuck yourself.” He repeats the same line in The Wolverine (2013), and in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), Charles Xavier gets even by telling him to “Fuck off.” Only, these seem lame by comparison to the Ryan Reynolds starrer Deadpool (2016).With an R-Rating, the movie simply let loose on all the Fucks, Fuck its, Fuck Ups, Fuck Yous, Fuck Mes, Shitfucks, and Motherfuckers.

But, Deadpool isn’t the only superhero with the bad mouth. Kick-Ass (2010) created by Mark Millar and published under Marvel’s Icon Comics features characters who love saying the F-Word.The eponymous Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) fight crime while dishing out lines like “I’ll come back and break your fuckin’ legs” and “Show’s over, motherfuckers!”Their enemies also love to throw the F-Word around and their arch-nemesis Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) even changes his name to “The Motherfucker” in the sequel.

With Wolverine and Deadpool having no problem dropping the F-Bomb whenever they feel like it, the question now is, how far would the DC and Marvel universes go?


9. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)


James Foley and David Mamet’s movie about real estate salesmen is highly regarded for a number of things: A: acting ensemble, B: Baldwin’s speech, and C: a collection of furious F-Bombs delivered by the cast from Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon to Alec Baldwin.

Here, Baldwin steals the show with a nasty F-Bomb. While the salesmen are having their usual day in the office, Blake (Baldwin), a big-time broker sent by the owners, shows up to motivate them in a one-sided conversation, sell your leads or hit the road, and proves that the best F-Bombs are spoken in retort.

Shelley (Lemmon): The leads are weak.
Blake: The leads are weak? Fucking leads are weak? You’re weak. I’ve been in this business 15 years.
Dave (Harris): What’s your name?
Blake: Fuck you! That’s my name!

We already heard a number of memorable F-Bombs from the 70s down to the 2010s and that line by Baldwin is arguably one of the best. Now, when it comes to the best F-Bomb monologue, it’s Ed Norton in 25th Hour (2002):

“Fuck me? Fuck you! Fuck you and this whole city and everyone in it. Fuck the panhandlers, grubbing for money, and smiling at me behind my back. Fuck the squeegee men dirtying up the clean windshield of my car. Get a fucking job! Fuck the Sikhs and the Pakistanis bombing down the avenues in decrepit cabs, curry steaming out their pores stinking up my day. Terrorists in fucking training. Slow the fuck down! Fuck the Chelsea boys with their waxed chests and pumped-up biceps. Going down on each other in my parks and on my piers, jingling their dicks on my Channel 35. Fuck the Korean grocers with their pyramids of overpriced fruit and their tulips and roses wrapped in plastic. Ten years in the country, still no speaky English? Fuck the Russians in Brighton Beach. Mobster thugs sitting in cafés, sipping tea in little glasses, sugar cubes between their teeth. Wheelin’ and dealin’ and schemin’. Go back where you fucking came from.”

Other movies that really nails it: “I’ll fuck anything that moves!” (Blue Velvet); “Knock Knock.” “Who’s there?” “Go fuck yourselves.” (Catch Me If You Can); “Roses are red, violets are blue, fuck you whore.” (500) Days of Summer; “I really fucked this up, didn’t I?” (Skyfall—the first really audible F-Bomb in all James Bond movies); “Shut the fuck up, Donny.” (The Big Lebowski), “Fuck! Even in the future nothing works! (Spaceballs), and the best exchange? Planes, Trains and Automobiles:

Car Rental Agent: How may I help you?
Neal: You can start by wiping that fucking dumb-ass smile off your rosey, fucking, cheeks! And you can give me a fucking automobile: a fucking Datsun, a fucking Toyota, a fucking Mustang, a fucking Buick! Four fucking wheels and a seat!
Car Rental Agent: I really don’t care for the way you’re speaking to me.
Neal: And I really don’t care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn’t fucking there. And I really didn’t care to fucking walk, down a fucking highway, and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car RIGHT FUCKING NOW!
Car Rental Agent: May I see your rental agreement?
Neal: I threw it away.
Car Rental Agent: Oh boy.
Neal: Oh boy, what?
Car Rental Agent: You’re fucked!


10. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Now that the F-Word has penetrated all genres of movies and that with the R-Rating you could do almost all the “fuck” you want, how many times the “fuck” you want it, what movie has the most F-Bombs? As of this writing, Guinness Book of World Records lists the Canadian film Swearnet: the Movie (2014) as the record holder with a total of 935 instances of the F-Word. It is based on the Canadian television series Trailer Park Boys and stars Mike Smith, John Paul Tremblay and Robb Wells.

The American movie with currently the most F-Word is Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street with 569 in-your-face F-Bombs.

Based on the autobiographical novel by Jordan Belford (played in the movie by Leonardo DiCaprio), the movie traces the rise and fall of a Wall Street stockbroker. Written for the screen by Terence Winter, the film is a plethora of the best examples of “use fuck in a sentence.”

Among them: Let’s fuck, What the fuck?, Get the fuck outta here, Holy Fuck!, Moby-fuckin’-Dick, Fuck you!, Shut the fuck up!, I’ll fuck her fuckin’ brains out, Son of a fuckin’ bitch, That’s fucked up!, Shut the fuck up!, Fuckity-fuck-fuck, Fuck me over, Jesus fuckin’ Christ, We’re fucked up, and so on.

Rounding up the Top 10 are Summer of Sam (1999) 435 F-Bombs, Nil By Mouth (1997) 428, Casino (1995) 422, Straight Outta Compton (2015) 392, Alpha Dog (2007) 367, End of Watch (2012) 326, Twin Town (1997) 318, and Running Scared (2006) 315. Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) held the record during the 80s with 240, followed by Scarface (1983) 207.

In the 70s, it was Blue Collar (1978) directed by Paul Schrader with 158. The documentary movie with the most is Fuck (2005), directed by Steve Anderson with 857 F-Bombs.It will be a long time before these records are broken.

In closing, last and certainly not the least,here’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) with Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate:

Veronica Corningstone: For the entire Channel 4 news team, I’m Veronica Corningstone.
Ron Burgundy: “And I’m Ron Burgundy. Go fuck yourself San Diego.

Author Bio: Geonard Yleana is a writer, illustrator and publishes independent comic books. His taste in cinema expands worldwide and across all genres and timelines.