Conan: What Is Best in Life? Exploring the Iconic Phrase and Its Impact in Movies and Actors

Conan: What Is Best in Life? Exploring the Iconic Phrase and Its Impact in Movies and Actors

An Exploration of the Iconic Phrase “Conan: What Is Best in Life?”

Conan the Barbarian, a character created by Robert E. Howard, has become a cultural icon, known for his brute strength, fierce determination, and the iconic phrase: “Conan, what is best in life?” This article delves into the origins of the phrase, its impact on movies, and the actors who have brought Conan to life.

The Origins of the Phrase: What Does It Mean?

In the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the character of Conan is asked by Mongol General Subotai what he believes is best in life. Conan’s response has since become legendary: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”

This phrase encapsulates the essence of Conan’s brutal and primal worldview. It reflects his belief that true satisfaction comes from overpowering one’s adversaries and reveling in their defeat. The phrase has struck a chord with audiences around the world, resonating with the desire for power, triumph, and dominance.

The Impact in Movies

The line “Conan, what is best in life?” has become synonymous with the character, immortalized through its inclusion in various Conan adaptations. It has become a rallying cry, symbolizing Conan’s unwavering determination and his relentless pursuit of victory.

Beyond its cultural significance, the phrase has also influenced the way audiences perceive the character of Conan. It highlights his primal nature, setting him apart from more traditional heroes who prioritize justice and morality.

The phrase has also contributed to the overall popularity of the Conan franchise. It has been referenced and parodied in numerous films and TV shows over the years, further cementing its place in popular culture.

Actors Who Have Brought Conan to Life

Since its initial appearance in the 1982 film, Conan has been portrayed by several actors in various adaptations. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal in “Conan the Barbarian” and its sequel “Conan the Destroyer” is perhaps the most iconic.

Schwarzenegger’s sheer physicality and imposing presence perfectly embodied the spirit of Conan, bringing the character to life with his powerful performance. His delivery of the iconic line has since become legendary, further enhancing the impact and popularity of the phrase.

Other actors who have taken on the mantle of Conan include Jason Momoa in the 2011 film “Conan the Barbarian” and Ralf Moeller in the TV series “Conan the Adventurer.” While these portrayals have their own merits, they have not achieved the same level of recognition as Schwarzenegger’s.

In Conclusion

The phrase “Conan, what is best in life?” has become an iconic representation of the character’s primal nature and desire for domination. It has left a lasting impact on movies and popular culture, resonating with audiences and solidifying Conan’s place as a cultural icon.

While Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal remains the most enduring, other actors have also contributed to the character’s legacy. The phrase continues to captivate and provoke thought, reminding us of the allure of power and the ever-present appeal of Conan the Barbarian.


1. What is the origin of the phrase “What is best in life” and why is it significant in the context of Conan?

The phrase “What is best in life” originates from the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is significant because it captures the essence of Conan’s character and philosophy, focusing on primal desires and the pursuit of power.

2. How does Conan’s view on life differ from traditional societal norms?

Conan’s view on life differs from traditional societal norms in that he prioritizes personal strength, freedom, and the quest for personal power over conventional ideas of morality or social expectations. He believes that survival and achieving greatness through physical prowess are what truly matter.

3. How has the phrase impacted popular culture and influenced other movies and actors?

The phrase “What is best in life” has become an iconic line in popular culture, symbolizing the pursuit of power and personal desires. It has influenced other movies and actors by showcasing the appeal of anti-hero characters and their unconventional ideologies, challenging traditional hero archetypes.

4. What are some examples of movies and characters that have been inspired by Conan’s philosophy?

Movies and characters that have been inspired by Conan’s philosophy include “The Terminator” series, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a morally ambiguous and physically powerful character driven by his own set of values. Additionally, characters like Wolverine from the X-Men franchise also embody Conan-like attributes of strength and individualism.

5. How does Conan’s philosophy resonate with audiences and why?

Conan’s philosophy resonates with audiences because it taps into our primal desires for power, freedom, and the pursuit of our own personal objectives. It offers an alternative perspective to societal norms and provides a cathartic experience where one can imagine breaking free from constraints and achieving greatness through their own strength.

6. Has there been any criticism or backlash against Conan’s philosophy and portrayal in movies?

Yes, there has been criticism and backlash against Conan’s philosophy and portrayal in movies. Some argue that his character promotes toxic masculinity and glorifies violence. Others believe that Conan’s lack of adherence to societal norms undermines the importance of empathy and cooperation.

7. Can the phrase “What is best in life” be applied to real-life situations and personal growth?

The phrase “What is best in life” can be applied to real-life situations and personal growth as a reminder to focus on one’s own desires and aspirations. It can serve as a catalyst for self-reflection and the pursuit of personal greatness, but it is important to also consider the ethical implications and balance personal ambitions with empathy and cooperation.

8. How has Conan’s philosophy affected the fantasy genre and its depiction of heroes?

Conan’s philosophy has had a significant impact on the fantasy genre, challenging traditional depictions of heroes as morally righteous and virtuous. It has introduced anti-hero characters who prioritize personal power and self-interest over societal expectations, paving the way for more complex and morally ambiguous protagonists in fantasy literature and films.

9. Are there any alternative interpretations of the phrase “What is best in life”?

Although the phrase is predominantly associated with Conan’s philosophy, alternative interpretations can revolve around personal happiness, love, or spiritual fulfillment. It ultimately depends on individual perspectives and values, as “what is best in life” can have different meanings for different people.

10. How does the phrase “What is best in life” reflect the timeless appeal of Conan as a character?

The phrase “What is best in life” reflects the timeless appeal of Conan as a character by encapsulating his primal desires, relentless pursuit of power, and rejection of societal norms. It resonates with audiences who are drawn to the idea of defying conventional expectations and finding personal greatness through their own strength.