The 14 Greatest Dirty Harry Moments In The Franchise

Clint Eastwood created one of the most iconic action heroes of all time with his performance as maverick San Francisco homicide inspector Harry Callahan. Even if you've never seen any of the "Dirty Harry" films, you probably recognize quotes like "Go ahead, make my day" because they are cited so frequently.

Don Siegel's original "Dirty Harry" film is a much darker thriller than some film fans may expect. The film's release generated controversy, as some viewers felt that the film lionized police brutality. However, it's clear from the way that Harry is depicted that he is no ordinary cop. Harry has to deal with corruption within his ranks throughout the series. He is the one good man in a system that is failing. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that we'll be getting a new sequel anytime soon, as Eastwood has ruled out the possibility of starring in a sixth "Dirty Harry" film.

Here are the 14 greatest "Dirty Harry" moments, ranked.

14. Harry bristles at working with Chico Gonzalez — Dirty Harry

The original "Dirty Harry" is one of the most perfectly crafted action films ever made, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a little bit of humor. Director Don Siegel found the perfect way to balance the film's tone to make it feel both entertaining and realistic. Although Harry gets a few iconic one-liners, they aren't simply inserted to make him a more likable character. All of Harry's perturbed musings reveal critical pieces of information about his worldview.

In the first film, Harry is hot on the trail of a psychopathic killer who goes by the name "Scorpio" (Andrew Robinson). Harry is determined to foil Scorpio before more innocent people are put in harm's way. Before he gets very far in his investigation, Harry is forced to speak with his superiors. His unorthodox practices are criticized. Harry's independent streak isn't based on ego alone. Harry truly believes that if he follows all of the police procedures perfectly, it will only take more time, and more lives will be put in danger.

Harry expresses his annoyance when he is assigned to work with a rookie partner, Chico Gonzalez (Reni Santoni). While Harry's comments about Gonzales' lack of experience are somewhat humorous, they're accurate. Later on in the film, Gonzales is critically wounded by Scorpio. He tells Harry that he is not cut out for police work.

13. Kate Moore and Harry share a drink — The Enforcer

Director James Fargo took the "Dirty Harry" series in a much different direction with "The Enforcer." While both "Dirty Harry" and "Magnum Force" have their fair share of action, they're both intertwined with compelling mystery stories. These sorts of subtleties are pretty much absent from "The Enforcer." "The Enforcer" is a much more straightforward action film and lacks the nuanced character work of the first two films. However, "The Enforcer" deserves credit for introducing one of the best supporting characters in the entire franchise.

In "The Enforcer," Harry is forced to work alongside Inspector Kate Moore (Tyne Daly), who has no field experience. Once again, Harry takes the opportunity to complain about having to work with a partner. However, Moore quickly proves to be a greater asset to Harry than he had initially expected. This was a good way for the series to evolve. Harry and Gonzales split up early on in "Dirty Harry," and Harry has to uncover a police conspiracy in "Magnum Force." It's interesting to see him work with another detective who shares his interest in justice.

While the "Dirty Harry" films are not necessarily held up as "progressive," "The Enforcer" shows burgeoning respect between Harry and Moore. They share a drink in a slower sequence before the action-packed finale.

12. Harry and Walker have a happy ending — The Dead Pool

Sorry, we're not talking about the Ryan Reynolds comic book film — although we can't expect that a grizzled cop like Harry would be able to put up with Wade Wilson's silly antics. Harry is sent on his goofiest mission yet in the final film in the "Dirty Harry" series, 1988's "The Dead Pool." While the first four films center on realistic stories, "The Dead Pool" is a ridiculous whodunit that introduces modern rock music, the MTV generation, serial killers, and self-awareness to the "Dirty Harry" universe. It's clear that the once proud action series officially jumped the shark.

That being said, "The Dead Pool" is able to acknowledge that Harry had aged. Harry is past his prime, but he's still as meticulous as ever. Harry realizes that the apparent overdose of the rock singer Johnny Squares (Jim Carrey) on the set of a music video is a murder. Harry learns that Squares was killed by a mysterious assassin who is targeting celebrities. He is initially forced to talk to television reporter Samantha Walker (Patricia Clarkson) to avoid a lawsuit but soon realizes that she may be in danger.

Harry doesn't have a lot of time for romance during his adventures, but he and Walker grow closer throughout the film. After he saves Walker at the end, Harry and his new romantic partner walk away into the distance.

11. Scorpio hijacks the school bus — Dirty Harry

Harry faces off against many great villains in the franchise's five films, but none of the antagonists are quite as terrifying as Scorpio. A demented assassin who shares Harry's strategic combat skills, Scorpio is an utterly detestable character. Andrew Robinson's captivating performance was so haunting that it provoked a response from Dave Toschi, one of the investigators in the Zodiac case. Director David Fincher chose to include a scene in his 2007 film "Zodiac" where Toschi (played by Mark Ruffalo in the film) walks out of a movie theater that is playing the first "Dirty Harry." While the similarities between Scorpio and the actual Zodiac killer do make the film more uncomfortable in retrospect, Robinson can't be faulted for his turn as one of the most effective screen villains of all time.

Siegel didn't try to generate any sympathy from the audience for Scorpio. Scorpio clearly just loves to create chaos and violence, and there is no use trying to reason with him. Harry doesn't have any issues with taking Scorpio out. However, Scorpio makes things more challenging when he hijacks a school bus.

In one particularly disturbing moment, Scorpio encourages the children that are still on the bus to start singing. He begins to get increasingly agitated when he notices that some of the children are silent. This makes Scorpio even more unlikeable and builds the suspense before the final climactic showdown.

10. 'Well, do ya punk?' — Dirty Harry

The "Dirty Harry" series has a plethora of great one-liners. Many of the most iconic quips in the series are actually from the sequels, but Harry's signature line, "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do you, punk?" is from the first film. It's an essential piece of Harry's character. Harry notices a bank robbery in progress during his lunch break and manages to kill one of the criminals in the subsequent firefight. Harry pins down the other robber and threatens him with his signature Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver.

The "Dirty Harry" films deserve to be reevaluated in a modern context, as there are some aspects of the films' depiction of gun culture that do not age well at all. Although scenes like this certainly make it seem like the films are nothing but a celebration of gunplay, they do a better job at exploring systematic corruption and political radicalization than they are given credit for. Perhaps the "Do ya, punk?" scene itself has been misinterpreted and taken out of context, but either way, it's still an awesome moment.

9. The supermarket battle — Magnum Force

"Dirty Harry" raised the standards for action films, so the 1973 sequel "Magnum Force" had a lot to live up to. "Magnum Force" is a much different film compared to the original. While "Dirty Harry" is very much a "manhunt" movie, "Magnum Force" adopted some of the same qualities that had made political thrillers so popular within the 1970s. Harry learns that a  group of rogue cops is exercising its own brand of "street justice" and a larger conspiracy is protecting them. At 122 minutes, "Magnum Force" is the longest film in the series and spends the most time focused on actual police work.

However, that doesn't mean that "Magnum Force" skimped on the action that "Dirty Harry" fans had come to expect. Although Don Siegel was absent from the director's chair, Eastwood re-teamed with director Ted Post, who he had worked with on the 1968 Western "Hang 'Em High." Post crafts one of the most chaotic and violent action sequences in the entire franchise. Harry and his new partner, Early Smith (Felton Perry), battle a group of criminals in a crowded supermarket. Although they emerge victorious, Harry realizes that the battle was part of a set-up.

8. Harry talks to the jumper — Dirty Harry

Harry is a hard character to read. He generally appears to have a heart, as painful as that may be for him to admit. Harry sees himself as an instrument of justice. He doesn't have to be pleasant or polite, but he'll always do his best to save peoples' lives. This is established early on in the original "Dirty Harry" film when Harry has to save a man who is considering jumping off of a tall building.

Harry talks to the jumper and tells him about how painful it will be for him if he jumps. While this scene is sometimes interpreted as comedic, neither Siegel nor Eastwood treats the subject of suicide as a joke. Harry is doing his best to scare the man into coming down. Although it's mostly a dialogue-centric scene, it was one of the most challenging sequences to shoot in the entire film. Siegel was sick before the night of filming, and Eastwood himself stepped in to direct the sequence.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

7. 'Go ahead, make my day.' — Sudden Impact

1971 wasn't just the year that Eastwood first appeared as Harry. It was also the year that his cinematic directorial debut, "Play Misty For Me," was released. Eastwood continued to direct films throughout the 1970s as he worked on the "Dirty Harry" sequels. It seemed only natural that Eastwood would end up directing a "Dirty Harry" film, and he finally got the chance with the fourth installment, "Sudden Impact." "Sudden Impact" is one of the darkest films in the series, featuring a disturbing investigation into human trafficking.

At this point in the franchise, Harry has grown weary. He's seen the limits of his profession and realizes that as much good as he tries to do, there will still be more evil-doers out there. Harry's cynicism finally begins to feel warranted. Harry delivers one of his most iconic one-liners when a group of robbers makes the mistake of disrupting his morning routine.

Harry begins his day in the same way that he always does: He goes to a local diner to get a cup of coffee. However, the diner is attacked by a band of criminals that threaten the staff. Harry mercilessly guns down four of the robbers, but the surviving assailant threatens a waitress (Mara Corday), putting a gun to her head. Harry refuses to lower his weapon, and mutters "Go ahead, make my day."

6. Harry tests the new recruits — Magnum Force

One of the reasons that Harry remains one of the coolest action heroes ever is his intelligence. He's not just a remorseless gunslinger. Harry uses his analytical mind to detect potential challenges. Action franchises can become unrealistic if the heroes continue to survive every dangerous scenario that they are trapped in. However, Harry shows that he has learned the necessary skills to survive in his violent profession.

In "Magnum Force," a seemingly expositional scene shows Harry putting his deductive reasoning skills to good use. Harry is suspicious that one of the new recruits to the police force is responsible for a series of recent killings. Harry meets rookie officers Phil Sweet (Tim Matheson), John Davis (David Soul), Alan Astrachan (Kip Niven), and Mike Grimes (Robert Urich) at a firing range for a little bit of target practice. Although this gives all of the cops the chance to show off their sharpshooting skills, it also allows Harry to compare the cops' bullets with the ones that were used in the murders.

5. Jim Carrey's crazy music video — The Dead Pool

Jim Carrey was easily one of the biggest comedy stars of the 1990s. Between "Dumb and Dumber," "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "The Mask," "The Cable Guy," "Liar, Liar," and "Man on the Moon," Carrey showed that he could create wild larger than life characters. However, he started the most important decade of his career with a small role in a "Dirty Harry" film. Carrey briefly appears in "The Dead Pool" as Johnny Squares, an eccentric rock star known for his wild music videos.

The best parts of "The Dead Pool" are the scenes that show how out of his element Harry is within the world of mainstream popular culture and Hollywood. The quiet, reserved nature of Harry could not be any more different than whatever Carrey is doing. He dances around in a very silly moment. Although this was mostly used for comedic effect, it does play an important role in establishing Squares' music video director, Peter Swan (Liam Neeson), in the story. Harry grows suspicious that Swan is the killer when Squares is found dead.

As strange as this scene is, it surprisingly gives the audience a reason to care about someone as wacky as Squares. It's genuinely sad to see him killed off so early. It's a shame that Carrey and Eastwood don't get to interact.

4. Harry and Kate save the mayor — The Enforcer

Kate Moore is the only one of Harry's partners that truly becomes his equal. Introducing a sidekick for an iconic action hero could have easily been disastrous. The "Die Hard" franchise suffered when John McClane (Bruce Willis) was forced to team up with Matt Farrell (Justin Long) in 2007's "Live Free or Die Hard" and with his son, Jack (Jai Courtney), in 2013's "A Good Day To Die Hard." However, Kate isn't a distraction from Harry's mission and helps him solve the case. Considering the murky politics of the series, it was smart to have a female character who could challenge Harry's point of view.

During the final battle, Kate sacrifices herself for Harry. The mayor of San Francisco (John Crawford) is kidnapped by the People's Revolutionary Strike Force. When a PRSF assailant tries to kill Harry by shooting him in the back, Kate saves his life. After Kate is killed by the villain Bobby Maxwell (DeVeren Bookwalter), Harry avenges her death.

3. Harry vs. Mick — Sudden Impact

Mick (Paul Drake) is one of the evilest characters in the "Dirty Harry" franchise. What makes the "Dirty Harry" films so unique compared to other action sagas is that they are not pure escapism. The antagonists represent real problems within society. Mick and his gang are responsible for brutalizing several women. Harry has a deep hatred for abusers and relishes the chance to square off against Mick.

Given how vile he is, Mick's death is one of the most satisfying moments in the franchise. Harry battles the gang members during the film's final action sequence at a fair. He reiterates the "Go ahead, make my day" line to Mick after the evil man captures Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke). After Spencer manages to escape his grasp, Harry blasts Mick. Mick is impaled by a unicorn on a carousel in one of the franchise's most brutal death sequences.

2. Lt. Neil Briggs reveals his betrayal — Magnum Force

Given how iconic Andrew Robinson's performance in the first "Dirty Harry" became, it was a challenge for "Magnum Force" to top Scorpio with an antagonist that was just as compelling. However, Hal Holbrook didn't simply try to reiterate what Robinson had already done. Unlike Scorpio, Lieutenant Neil Briggs isn't a loose cannon. He's a powerful law enforcement officer who sincerely believes in his radical, violent ethos. Harry isn't exactly known for following the rules, but he can tell that Briggs has crossed the line.

Briggs reveals his betrayal to Harry, and Holbrook delivers a startling monologue about how the law has failed to curb systematic violence. Briggs believes that the only way that the cops can resolve the crisis is by taking the law into their own hands. Summary executions and a system ruled by fear are the embodiment of everything that Harry detests. This makes Briggs' death in a fiery explosion even more satisfying.

1. Harry vs. Scorpio — Dirty Harry

Don Siegel's name is not brought up enough when talking about the greatest genre filmmakers of all time. From "Escape From Alcatraz" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" to "The Beguiled" and "The Shootist," Siegel clearly knew how to create taut, suspenseful action sequences. The final chase and battle in the original "Dirty Harry" is perhaps the best representation of everything that the late filmmaker excelled at.

Harry chases Scorpio after the assassin crashes the bus that he has hijacked. Although it looks like Scorpio might be able to gain the upper hand, Harry still has one bullet left in his .44 magnum. He doesn't hesitate to use it. Harry then throws his police badge into the water. This became a point of contention between Siegel and Eastwood. Although Eastwood initially felt that it was not a good way to end the story, he ultimately changed his mind and agreed with Siegel.