The Godfather trilogy is one of the most important film series in cinema history, not only for influencing filmmaking but also for embedding itself into pop culture as a whole. Indeed, it’s endlessly mimicable.
In the film You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks’ character tells Meg Ryan’s character that The Godfather is the font of all knowledge—and in order to save her business, she must “go to the mattresses.” He wasn’t wrong!
Michael Corleone in his chair as his sister begs him to heal his relationship with their treacherous brother Fredo. The darkness of his mother’s passing bringing new meaning to his relationship with Connie. Vito Corleone telling the mortician to make Sonny’s dead body look peaceful.
There have been so many great moments in The Godfather movies, granting the series a spot in the pantheon of legendary films. Here are our picks for the best scenes in The Godfather movies.
10. Apollonia’s Death (Godfather Part I)
After Michael kills Sollozzo and McClusky to avenge the hit on his father, he’s sent to Sicily to avoid heat. While there, he meets and marries Apollonia, a beautiful local young woman.
However, when they’re moving to a safer location, Apollonia is killed when she attempts to drive a car to Michael—a car which has a bomb implanted underneath, one that soon detonates.
It’s the last time in the series that Michael appears to have a soul. Afterward, he’s colder, darker, and more ruthless than ever.
9. Sonny Dies (Godfather Part I)
Santino “Sonny” Corleone—the hotheaded and brutal heir to Vito’s chair—is ruthlessly gunned down at a tollbooth after he discovers that Carlo has once again beaten his little sister.
When Sonny first sees the bruise on Connie’s face, he leaves Carlo in a battered heap on the ground and warns him that if he ever touches her again, he’ll kill him.
Later, during the war, Carlo helps lure Sonny out of his compound by making a deal with Barzini and beating Connie again. It’s a plan that succeeds, leading to the assassination of Sonny.
Carlo meets his end when Michael, who knows about the incident and those responsible, has Carlo killed after his purge of the Five Families.
8. Don Vito Sees Sonny’s Body (Godfather Part I)
Shortly following the death of Sonny, Vito—who’s home and resting after his assassination attempt—is told by Tom Hagen of Sonny’s murder. He makes plans to see the family mortician.
Vito looks over Sonny’s bullet-ridden body and, with a look of devastation on his face, tells those present: “Look how they massacred my boy.” The moment is sharply contrasted with the film, as it shows a strong man grieving his son’s death.
7. He’s the Traitor (Godfather Part I)
During the finale of the first film, Vito has stepped down as the Don due to ailing health, and Michael has taken control of the family business while appointing Vito as consigliere.
From there, the pair plot the deaths of the heads of the Five Families, with Vito showing his ruthless cunning when he tells Michael who will come for him first.
The last piece of strategic genius by the former Don also sees Vito tell Michael that he didn’t want the life for him, before reminding Michael that whoever gives him the message from Barzini, “He’s the traitor.”
6. Vito Kills Fanucci (Godfather Part II)
Upon Don Fanucci’s demand for a higher percentage of Vito’s take on a job they pulled, Vito gets his companions to let him negotiate with Fanucci for the sum. He tells them, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
But Vito, who’s sick of living in the neighborhood under Fanucci’s rule, waits in the shadows for Fanucci to return home—and, muffling his pistol with a wrapped towel, murders Fanucci.
The sequence tracks Vito across the rooftops as he follows Fanucci, culminating in the moment he seized power to becoming Don Vito.
5. The Purge (Godfather Part I)
As Michael stands at the font, watching his nephew be baptised, the priest asks him: “Do you renounce Satan?” Michael, looking at the baby, replies: “I do renounce him.”
Meanwhile, Michael’s hitmen ruthlessly murder the heads of the Five Families at that very moment. Michael has removed all obstacles in his way. His revenge is now complete. He’s ripped power for himself by embracing the death that he has caused.
4. Meeting of the Five Families (Godfather Part I)
Upon the death of Sonny, Vito calls a meeting to end the war, declaring to the Five Families that they have all lost members whom they can’t get back. He wants to end the war and return Michael to New York.
Vito’s speech during the meeting, as he tells the other Dons that he is “a suspicious man,” is layered with veiled threats toward the other men at the table. He makes it clear that if anything should happen to Michael during his return, he will respond in kind.
3. Connie’s Wedding (Godfather Part I)
Upon the day of Connie’s wedding to Carlo, Don Vito holds court with his subjects as they ask favors of him. It’s a tradition in Sicily on the day of a Don’s daughter’s wedding.
First, Bonasera—the mortician—begs Vito to exact revenge on two boys who’ve attempted to rape his daughter. It’s a request that shows the teeth and imposing nature of Vito, after which Vito chastises Bonasera for being ungrateful in the past.
The image of Vito in his office, tuxedo perfectly fitted, with Sonny and Tom Hagen at his side, remains the most iconic image of the franchise.
2. The Horses’ Head (Godfather Part I)
Upon Connie’s wedding day, Vito’s godson and famous singer Johnny Fontane asks him to help land a part in an upcoming film. The studio head, Jack Woltz, has told Johnny that he won’t get the role under any circumstances—so Johnny begs Vito to change Woltz’s mind.
Vito tells Johnny not to worry because Vito will “make him an offer he can’t refuse.” After sending Tom Hagen to negotiate the role, Woltz wakes up to find his prized horse’s head in the very same bed as him and the animal’s blood everywhere.
1. Michael Knows (Godfather Part II)
As Michael attempts to find out who in his organization betrayed him and led to his assassination attempt, he realizes that Fredo—his big brother—has a prior relationship with Johnny Ola. He’s the one who turned.
On the stroke of New Year, as Cuba begins to fall, Michael holds Fredo’s head in his hands, gripping him tighter and tighter, and says: “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.”
Fredo looks at Michael, now terrified of his little brother, then disappears. It leaves Michael angry and heartbroken at the actions of his own blood. Later, after their mother’s death—and having seemingly forgiven him—Michael has Fredo killed for the betrayal.