Christopher Nolan explains why he's "plagued" by the most famous line in The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Christopher Nolan is particularly haunted by one line of dialogue from The Dark Knight – and it's probably the film's most famous quote. 

"I'm plagued by a line from The Dark Knight, and I'm plagued by it because I didn't write it," Nolan told Deadline. "My brother [Jonathan] wrote it. It kills me, because it's the line that most resonates. And at the time, I didn't even understand it. He says, 'You either die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain.' I read it in his draft, and I was like, 'All right, I'll keep it in there, but I don't really know what it means. Is that really a thing?' And then, over the years since that film's come out, it just seems truer and truer. In this story, it's absolutely that. Build them up, tear them down. It's the way we treat people."

The line is delivered by Harvey Dent, the Gotham District Attorney who becomes the villainous Two-Face. It makes a lot of sense, then, for that character in particular to be the one to say those words. 

The quote has taken on a life of its own since the movie's release, too, becoming a fixture in pop culture. It's a good thing it stayed in the script, then. 

The director's latest film, Oppenheimer, is up for multiple Oscars at this year's ceremony, including Best Director for Christopher Nolan, Best Picture, and Best Actor for Cillian Murphy. 

You can keep up to date with all of 2024's major films with our guide to the year's most exciting upcoming movie release dates, and see all the 2024 Oscars nominations through the link. 

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.