One of the few pure, unequivocally great delights of 2021 was the long-awaited return of HBO’s “Succession” this fall. Delayed by the pandemic, the show’s third season soared to new heights. Week after week, the writing on “Succession” is some of the best on TV right now, producing endlessly quotable and meme-able lines.
What makes a great “Succession” line? Among other things, it’s the precision, density, hilarity, ability for a line to live rent-free in our minds, or all of the above.
This list of superb lines, listed chronologically, could have gone on forever. So if something isn’t here, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t an excellent piece of writing. As Cousin Greg explained: “Headline is, uh, the internet is big, uh, obviously, uh, and I haven’t, I can’t, I couldn’t read it all, but I’m working through, I guess.”
“Who said I didn’t kill anyone?” — Kendall (Jeremy Strong)
At the beginning of the season, this line, followed by the sly grin on his face, was grimly funny. But now, it seems prescient and chilling, given how much that Season 1 car accident, when Kendall did indeed kill someone, figures heavily into the final two episodes of Season 3.
“We get it.” — Hugo (Fisher Stevens)
“We hear/here for you,” the sequel.
“Do you know how many emails I get a day? I don’t read my emails!” — Logan (Brian Cox)
Yes, Logan used his mountain of emails to deny culpability in covering up the many scandals at Waystar. But also, this is very relatable. Apologies if I’ve missed your email.
“It’s kind of a greeting card from hell. It’s a Times New Roman firing squad.” — Connor (Alan Ruck)
This is Connor’s description of Shiv’s letter attacking Kendall after the Roy siblings decide not to join Kendall in his coup against their dad. It isn’t necessarily the most memorable or funniest line. But it exemplifies the brilliant precision and depth of the writing on this show. “Times New Roman firing squad” isn’t something someone might realistically blurt out. But as soon as you read it and hear it, you know exactly what it means.
“Well, I guess the government isn’t a fucking Pez dispenser. You don’t push a button and something pops out the other end.” — Gerri (J. Smith Cameron)
Gerri, Waystar’s general counsel and acting CEO (and often the most competent person in the room), has one of her finest moments during the tense FBI raid on the company. It’s probably one of the few times in his life that Logan realizes he can’t get out of a fiasco by telling someone to fuck off, paying them off, or outmaneuvering them.
“This just doesn’t work for me. So, fuck you and God bless.” — Kendall
“Little Lord Fuckleroy” ending a conference call with his dad, siblings and Waystar executives. “Succession” has the best encyclopedia of insults, greetings and signoffs.
“Nice and strong. Strong one. Strong for a man.” — Cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun)
Cousin Greg orders a rum and coke at some absurdly early time in the morning, urged by Logan, who has invited Greg to a meeting to bribe him into abandoning Kendall’s coup attempt.
I have now taken to calling my drinks “strong for a man.” The way Braun, a giant, grips the tiny glass with both of his hands is perfect.
Also, a runner-up from the same scene: “Different times. Different times indeed. Better times? Not for all.” Brian Cox’s enunciation of “Coca Cola” also lives rent-free in my brain, as well as his delivery of “What Greg wants, Greg must have!” One of the many joys of watching “Succession” is how there is so much going on in every single moment.
“We’re about to lose the company at the shareholder meet, all because you wouldn’t give our dad a timely fucking Evian. Good day!” — Roman (Kieran Culkin)
Again, it’s the precision here. Not just “you wouldn’t give our dad some water so he wouldn’t collapse while hiking in the Hamptons and stubbornly insisting he didn’t need any help!” It’s the specificity of “a timely fucking Evian.” Also, I’d like to try ending a phone call with an angry “Good day!”
“I’d castrate you and marry you in a heartbeat.” — Tom (Matthew Macfadyen)
Tom and Greg, a (very toxic) love story. This is the scene in which Tom tells Greg some seemingly random story about Nero and Sporus (“not IP I am familiar with,” Greg responds). But it will all make sense later — especially the line: “Nero pushed his wife down the stairs.” Boy, did we not know what Tom had up his sleeve.
Kendall’s MVP Assistant Jess’ Facepalm-Eyeroll Combo (Juliana Canfield)
This isn’t even a line of dialogue, just a moment that lives rent-free in my brain. Kendall’s kids’ giant pet rabbit has gotten sick because they fed it too much bagel (which Kendall permitted them to do, overruling their babysitter). Juliana Canfield manages to convey several different sentiments, including “WTF” and “I knew this would happen,” all in one shot.
“Oh, I just do what my dad tells me … like you guys.” — Sandi (Hope Davis)
“I don’t do requests because I’m not a DJ. But I hear you.” — Lisa (Sanaa Lathan)
One of my tiny quibbles with this otherwise perfect season of television: It needed more Sanaa Lathan!
“Cold and inhospitable. That seems to check out.” — Shiv (Sarah Snook)
Shiv’s acute observation while inside a rendering of her mother’s vagina was, at first, hilarious because, well, she was inside a mock-up of her mother’s vagina at her brother’s birthday party. But after watching the brutal Season 3 finale, we now realize that this line is funny because it’s true.
“I feel like I’m taking a shit in the Guggenheim, y’all.” — Stewy (Arian Moayed)
An all-time great one-liner from Stewy when Logan is not an active participant at a meeting but is, of course, watching everyone through the glass windows of the conference room.
“The man dying of thirst is suddenly a mineral water critic?” — Tom
Tom is so mean to Greg, but it’s such a perfect line!
“I may not love you, but I do love you.” — Shiv
Comical but also brutal, one of the defining combinations of what makes “Succession” so satisfying to watch. Shiv and Tom’s marriage of convenience has always seemed on the verge of collapse, but never more than after everything that happened this season.
“My mom’s getting remarried to a bowl of porridge.” — Roman
The use of food metaphors to describe people on “Succession” is unparalleled. Earlier this season, Logan insults Frank by referring to him as “mashed potatoes.” Caroline describes her fraught relationship with daughter Shiv by explaining that “you’re my onion.” And Kendall snipes at Logan: “You’ve lied so much you don’t even fucking know anymore. Your brain’s scrambled egg, look at you.”
“Fuck it! How bad can it be?” — Willa (Justine Lupe)
Imagine telling this to the person you’ve agreed to marry! How romantic!
“I didn’t keep track of the exact number of expletives he used, Siobhan, OK? I’m not a fuckometer.” — Roman
The “Succession” “fuckometer” is through the roof.
“What am I going to do with a soul, anyway? Souls are boring. Boo, souls!” — Cousin Greg
This was somehow more romantic than Connor and Willa agreeing to get married.
“Oh, go on, go on. Fuck off, you nosy fucking pedestrians.” — Logan
Me, to everyone who grumbled about how this season was “boring.” Fuck you and God bless.