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Best Of

The Best TV Lines of 2023

As the year comes to a close, we're once again highlighting our favorite quotes from across the TV landscape.
  • Poker Face, Abbott Elementary, and Succession (Photos: Peacock, ABC, HBO; Primetimer graphic)
    Poker Face, Abbott Elementary, and Succession (Photos: Peacock, ABC, HBO; Primetimer graphic)

    This list was first published on May 12, 2023. It's been updated to include even more great work from TV writers.

    If you've ever laughed out loud at a one-liner or audibly gasped at an unexpected plot twist, it's because of great writing. If you've been stunned by a poignant turn of phrase or felt seen by a certain storyline, it's because a writer took care to make it so. And if you've found yourself thinking about a show or felt compelled to re-watch it long after the final cut to black, chances are, it's because a team of writers were given the time and resources they needed to produce something special.

    To put it plainly, the current era of captivating, diverse television wouldn't be what it is without the contributions of talented writers. We first published this collection of the best TV lines of 2023 in support of the Writers Guild of America, who went on strike in May to fight for fair compensation and greater transparency from the AMPTP, including the intended use of A.I. That collective action came to an end in late September with historic gains for the guild, and the TV industry began to go back to work (though it would be almost two months before the SAG-AFTRA strike was resolved).

    As 2023 comes to a close, we've added some late contenders to this list, including the lines we couldn't stop quoting.

    Poker Face

    "I've been rich." —Charlie Cale
    "Yeah, how was it?" —Sterling Frost Jr.
    "Easier than being broke, harder than doing just fine." — Charlie Cale

    Episode: "Dead Man’s Hand” (Season 1, Episode 1)
    Release Date: January 26, 2023
    Written by Rian Johnson
    Directed by Rian Johnson

    Rian Johnson’s dialogue is perfectly suited to Natasha Lyonne. Her cadence sells his modernized detective dialogue, ensuring that even moments of exposition are cleverly delivered. In the Poker Face pilot, there’s a lot we need to learn about Charlie Cale (Lyonne) while also keeping track of all the details surrounding the series’s first murder. It’s up to Sterling Frost Jr. (Adrien Brody) to deliver most of her backstory. But it’s this dialogue exchange that tells us so much about not only Charlie’s past but how she sees the world. Her experience is vast; she’s been on both ends of the wealth spectrum and everywhere in between. If anyone she encounters is too satisfied with their extreme wealth, she knows not to trust them, and she’s more than happy to help those who are broke get to “just fine.” — Brianna Wellen

    The 95th Academy Awards, Opening Monologue

    "Thank you for encouraging people who were already at the movie theater to go to the movie theater." — Jimmy Kimmel

    Air Date: March 12, 2023
    Written by Jamie Abrahams, Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Dave Boone, Joelle Boucai, Bryan Cook, Blair Erskine, Devin Field, Gary Greenberg, Josh Halloway, Eric Immerman, Jesse Joyce, Jimmy Kimmel, Gregory Martin, Jesse McLaren, Molly McNearney, Agathe (Augie) Panaretos, Keaton Patti, Danny Ricker, Nefetari Spencer, Louis Virtel, and Troy Walker
    Directed by Glenn Weiss

    It was almost mandatory for Jimmy Kimmel to mention Nicole Kidman’s AMC commercial during his opening monologue at this year’s Oscars. For most of 2022, the kitschy spot drove people into cinemas so they could simultaneously mock and salute it, and honestly, that’s the kind of buzzy movie magic the Academy needs to celebrate. Kimmel’s joke was perfect because it noted that the ad’s entire premise was ludicrous from the start, which is something that got lost in the analysis of Kidman’s sparkly pantsuit. It takes a team of great writers to deliver a punchline like that, both speaking to a major trend and finding something fresh to say about it. — Mark Blankenship

    Saturday Night Live

    "Eat my butt." — Quinta Brunson

    Host/Sketch: Quinta Brunson, "Traffic Altercation" (Season 48, Episode 16)
    Air Date: April 1, 2023
    Written by Mikey Day, Streeter Seidell, and Vannessa Jackson
    Directed by Liz Patrick

    The writers on Saturday Night Live are some of the most impressive working today. They have an infamously rigorous schedule, creating 90 minutes of brand new material to put on live television in just a matter of days. Rewrites sometimes happen in the hours between dress rehearsal and the live show to make sure every joke is just right and gets the laughs it deserves. That means that by the time a line as seemingly simple as “Eat my butt!” makes it to air, it’s been polished to perfection, as proven by Quinta Brunson during her hosting gig. It’s a hilarious line because it’s simple — a potent reminder that editing is a huge part of the writing process as well. And it’s a line that became the centerpiece of one of the best SNL sketches of what’s likely to be a truncated season. — BW

    Jury Duty

    "Um... I also am... racist?" — Noah Price

    Episode: "Voir Dire" (Season 1, Episode 1)
    Release Date: April 7, 2023
    Written by Tanner Bean & Katrina Mathewson
    Directed by Jake Szymanski

    Amazon Freevee’s Jury Duty isn’t “written” in the traditional sense. It’s a largely improvised, hidden-camera comedy that follows Ronald Gladden, an everyday guy who doesn’t realize the jury he’s serving on is fake. But as that façade gets erected around him, the actors playing the judge, the bailiff, the lawyers, and the other jurors work from scripted scenarios. These outlines shape the chaos, and they set up jokes with fantastic pay-offs.

    One of the best comes in the first episode, when juror Noah Price (Mekki Leeper) tries everything he can think of to be excused from service. Early in the episode, Ronald jokes about people pretending to be racist in order to get sent home, and he unwittingly creates an opportunity for Noah to try out the same tactic. The moment is hilarious because it’s rooted in Ronald’s real-life conversation, then shaped by writers who are watching from behind the scenes. That kind of on-the-fly writing takes confidence and guts, and Jury Duty proves the rewards are worth the risks. — MB


    "He once made Joe Fazio eat a frog during recess! Bad cop is the only way to break him!" — Misty Quigley

    Episode: "Digestif" (Season 2, Episode 3)
    Air Date: April 7, 2023 Written by Sarah L. Thompson & Ameni Rozsa
    Directed by Jeffrey W. Byrd

    Over the course of Season 2, Yellowjackets has revealed new sides of Christina Ricci's Misty Quigley, but no line of dialogue gets at the heart of her character quite like this decades-old, incredibly specific memory about elementary school bully Randy Walsh (Jeff Holman). In one of the season's most delightful moments, Misty and fellow citizen detective Walter (Elijah Wood) play Good Cop-Bad Cop in an attempt to glean information from Randy about Natalie's (Juliette Lewis) mysterious disappearance.

    Walter wants to play nice, but Misty, who's exactly the type to hold a grudge for 30-plus years, determined Randy stopped being worthy of kindness long ago. As with so much of the great writing in this show, Misty's remark is more than just a one-off line: It illustrates just how little her worldview has changed as she's transitioned from childhood into adulthood, despite the massively traumatic event situated between these periods in her life. — Claire Spellberg Lustig


    "We're calling Kerry a taxi to the subway so that she can go home to her little apartment." — Marcia Roy

    Episode: "Honeymoon States" (Season 4, Episode 4)
    Air Date: April 16, 2023
    Written by Jesse Armstrong & Lucy Prebble
    Directed by Lorene Scafaria

    Marcia's (Hiam Abbas) savage dismissal of Kerry (Zoë Winters) isn't just one of the best lines of dialogue of the year — it's one of Succession's best put-downs, period. After spending the first few episodes of Season 4 "shopping" in Milan, Marcia makes a triumphant return in the aftermath of Logan Roy's (Brian Cox) death, and she immediately moves to assume control over her late husband's assets, his sexual relationship with his assistant Kerry included.

    Kerry was once an insider, but without Logan’s support, she's nothing: She's not even worth a ride home in the back of a Town Car. Every part of this line twists the knife a bit more, but "her little apartment" ends Kerry, once and for all. Marcia's cruelty serves as a reminder — for the aspiring ATN host, for the "old guard" jockeying for position, and for viewers — that no matter how close the hangers-on get to the locus of power, they will always be of an inferior status to the Roys. And if you forget your place along the food chain, the Roys won't hesitate to remind you. — CSL

    Abbott Elementary

    "I take all your recommendations seriously, I wanna know why you like stuff." — Gregory Eddie

    Episode: "Franklin Institute" (Season 2, Episode 22)
    Air Date: April 18, 2023
    Written by Brittani Nichols
    Directed by Randall Einhorn

    There’s something so unexpectedly romantic about this piece of dialogue from Abbott Elementary’s Season 2 finale. In the episode, the teachers get ready for a sleepover trip to the Franklin Institute, where Janine (Quinta Brunson) and Gregory’s (Tyler James William) classes will be paired together. While they’re preparing to leave, Gregory makes a reference to Night at the Museum, pleasantly surprising Janine. For Gregory to so casually mention that he not only listens, but cares about Janine’s suggestions shows just how much he pays attention to her. It’s such a small moment shared between the duo, yet still manages to capture so much about what makes their will-they/won’t-they dynamic so frustratingly delicious. — Dianna Shen

    Mrs. Davis

    "Don't give it a name! No one calls Facebook 'Doug!'" — JQ

    Episode: "Zwei Sie Piel mit Seitung Sie Wirtschaftung" (Season 1, Episode 2)
    Air Date: April 20, 2023
    Written by Tara Hernandez & Jason Lew
    Directed by Owen Harris

    Much fuss is made in Mrs. Davis about how to refer to the artificial-intelligence-turned-deity from which the show takes its title. Sister Simone (Betty Gilpin) adamantly corrects anyone who calls Mrs. Davis a "she," insisting "she" is an "it" — an algorithm. Personification is the first step to subjugation or something!

    But at every turn, the Mrs. Davis writers are quick to cut the tension and remind the audience that as high as the stakes seem, these aren't superhuman heroes we're watching. And sometimes it's very easy to break one's own rules. So when Simone is getting the lowdown on the resistance's plans from the ultra-aggro JQ (Chris Diamantopoulos), she accidentally calls Mrs. Davis by "her" name… and gets an earful from JQ. It's true that no one calls Facebook "Doug," which is a reminder that it's weird we call Alexa "Alexa." The line is also a reminder that even among the resistance, Simone isn't quite as psychotically dialed in as some. But she probably won't make that mistake again with JQ any time soon. — Joe Reid

    Dead Ringers

    "I could go as you." — Elliot Mantle
    "A better me?" — Beverly Mantle
    "I'm a better everyone." — Elliot Mantle

    Episode: "Three" (Season 1, Episode 3)
    Air Date: April 21, 2023
    Written by Rachel De-Lahay
    Directed by Karena Evans

    The intertwined relationship of twin gynecologists Beverly and Elliot Mantle (Rachel Weisz) provides fertile (no pun intended… okay, pun intended) ground for the twisted narrative of Prime Video's Dead Ringers. While they share an intimidating ambition for what their medical practice can become, Beverly presents as meek and socially awkward, while Elliot is brash and confrontational. When advantageous, Elliot often steps in for Beverly, either with a patient or a prospective romantic partner. When faced with a social obligation that's giving her a lot of anxiety in the show's third episode, Elliot offers to go as her sister, and Beverly's response is telling.

    In many ways, Elliot is the more dynamic and thrilling twin, even as she's also the more outwardly problematic. Elliot's reply is even more telling: She can live Beverly's life better than Beverly can. And she knows nobody on Earth is her equal. The line doubles as cheeky self-regard and terrifying narcissism, summing up Elliot perfectly. — JR


    "Oh yeah Tom, Tom of Siobhan." — Oskar

    Episode: "Kill List" (Season 3, Episode 5)
    Air Date: April 23, 2023
    Written by Jon Brown & Ted Cohen
    Directed by Andrij Parekh

    When every episode of Succession is jam-packed with creative insults, it can be hard to keep track of which ones are the most biting. In Season 4, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) has become a vessel for an onslaught of verbal abuse. With Logan gone, Tom has zero clout left. Nobody — not even his wife — takes him seriously, yet he continues to latch himself onto every moving being in a desperate effort to save himself. Oskar’s (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) poke at Tom’s position is so simple yet so effective. It's a reminder that the smallest jabs can be the most painful, especially when they hit at the heart of Tom's insecurities. His entire sense of self-worth is tied up in his job and status, and Oskar's comment exposes how little respect he commands from those around him. The sheer force of “Tom of Siobhan” cuts deep, making it stand out as a devastating piece of verbal ammunition. — DS

    I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson

    "55 burgers, 55 fries, 55 tacos, 55 pies, 55 Cokes, 100 tater tots, 100 pizzas, 100 tenders, 100 meatballs, 100 coffees, 55 wings, 55 shakes, 55 pancakes, 55 pastas, 55 peppers, and 155 taters."

    Episode: "Cut To: We're Chatting About This At Your Bachelor Party”
    Air Date: May 30, 2023
    Written by Tim Robinson, Zach Kanin, John Solomon, Patti Harrison, Gary Richardson, Brendan Jennings, Reggie Henke
    Directed by Jonathan Watson

    There were certainly other contenders for best line and moment from Season 3 of I Think You Should Leave; we almost went with "My life is nothing I thought it should be and everything I was worried it would become because for 50 seconds, I thought there was monsters on the world," because of its sheer relatability. What other reaction could you have to thinking a pig monster had snuck into your home through the doggy door?

    But if we're looking for lines you want to quote endlessly, rather than pass around on social media, nothing rolls off the tongue like "55 burgers, 55 fries, 55 tacos, 55 pies, 55 Cokes, 100 tater tots, 100 pizzas, 100 tenders, 100 meatballs, 100 coffees, 55 wings, 55 shakes, 55 pancakes, 55 pastas, 55 peppers, and 155 taters." It's what you want for dinner, what you need from the store, what made you late for the movie, how you want your epitaph to read. It's a line that's meaningless and all-encompassing. Talk about paying it forward. — Danette Chavez

    The Bear

    "Who remembers what Vasudeva, the ferryman, said to Siddhartha on the banks of the Ganges River? He whispered, 'Listen better,' and that's what we’re gonna do. He also said, 'Water glasses are always full. Somebody gets up, that napkin gets folded, placed on the seat. If someone looks bored, make them f*cking not bored.'"

    Episode: "Omelette"
    Air Date: June 22, 2023
    Written by Joanna Calo & Christopher Storer
    Directed by Christopher Storer

    How best to represent Richie's new mindset (the result of his transformative experience staging at a fine-dining restaurant) than with a monologue that's equal parts profound and ridiculous? Obviously, no one on staff at The Bear knows what Vasudeva said to Siddhartha by the Ganges; Richie probably discovered the quote while Googling "tips for inspirational speaking" a few minutes prior. And yet his speech so perfectly sums up Richie 2.0, who hopes to bring a greater degree of artfulness and intentionality to this new establishment, but still holds on to his Chicago edge. There's a certain magic to finding new opportunities to develop or reinforce characters' identities so late in a season — or as Richie says in his pump-up monologue, "Abra-f*cking-cadabra, chefs." — CSL

    The Righteous Gemstones

    "I hope you like me now."

    Episode: "For Out of the Heart Comes Evil Thoughts”
    Air Date: July 16, 2023
    Written by John Carcieri and Danny McBride
    Directed by Jonathan Watson

    Jesse Gemstone (Danny McBride) giving his clueless brother-in-law BJ (Tim Baltz) lessons in being a badass is the comedic highlight of this Season 3 episode. McBride, who so often manages to be at once priggish and profane, effectively engages with his alter ego here, slapping the prissiness out of BJ, who keeps adding a "do" to the very cool "how ya like me now?" line. When he sneaks up on his nemesis, BJ finally nails the saying. He quickly loses the upper hand against Stephen (Stephen Schneider), but regains it by being willing to hit below the belt for once (and boy, does he). But it's not until the very end of the episode, when BJ confronts Judy (Edi Patterson) with the physical manifestation of the harm she's caused, that he makes the line his own. The phrasing — "I hope you like me now" — and Baltz's bitter delivery is the perfect distillation of one of the Gemstones' best characters. — DC


    "Even though we loved each other so much, I think we're pretty stupid to think it can't happen with someone else." — Jessie
    "Those are pretty sh*t vows." — Tom

    Episode: "Episode 6" (Season 3, Episode 6)
    Air Date: September 28, 2023
    Written by Rose Matafeo, Nic Sampson, and Alice Snedden
    Directed by Rose Matafeo and Alice Snedden

    Leave it to Starstruck's Rose Matafeo, Nic Sampson, and Alice Snedden to craft one of the most charming breakup scenes of the year. By the Season 3 finale, it's abundantly clear that Jessie (Matafeo) and her movie star boyfriend Tom (Nikesh Patel) won't be able to make their relationship work. But before they go their separate ways, the writers treat viewers to one last fantasy as Jessie shares her vision for their would-be wedding, right down to her vows, which acknowledge that, despite having all the chemistry in the world, they simply aren't right for each other. The moment is yet another subversion of rom-com tropes, something Starstruck has done so eagerly, and so elegantly, throughout its run. — CSL

    Fellow Travelers

    "I'm your boy, right? And your boy wants to go to the party."

    Episode: "You're Wonderful"
    Air Date: October 29, 2023
    Written by Ron Nyswaner
    Directed by Daniel Minahan

    The sex scenes in Fellow Travelers got a lot of attention, and in many ways rightly so. Showing the carnality and power dynamics in Hawk (Matt Bomer) and Tim's (Jonathan Bailey) relationship is essential. The gravitational pull of their attraction to each other needs to be massive to compel these characters to transgress like they do. And boy do they. This scene from the pilot features mild-mannered Tim, emboldened by Hawk's attraction to him, deciding to make a play for access by appealing to what's below Hawk's waistline. Writer Ron Nyswaner is well attuned to the sexual dynamics at play: Hawk likes being in the power position in their new arrangement, but Tim can get what he wants from the bottom if he plays his cards right. — JR

    Saturday Night Live

    "It looks like he's trying out a new pair of legs?"

    Episode: "Timothée Chalamet"
    Air Date: November 11, 2023
    Written by Celeste Yim, Bowen Yang, Alison Gates and Martin Herlihy
    Directed by Liz Patrick

    For a show like Saturday Night Live, which was so used to skewering all the politics and pop culture that was in the mainstream, our current landscape of fractured niche cultural interests makes it challenging to know what exactly the audience is going to be familiar with. Is a sketch about pop-twink Troye Sivan's strange way of dancing in his "Got Me Started" music video a thing people know about or just gay pop stans? Is it enough to simply have a sketch where Timothée Chalamet as Sivan dances in a tank top and shows off his tiny red undies? Maybe, maybe not. But Sarah Sherman steals the entire sketch with her description of Sivan's Gumby-limbed moves. Anyone who's seen the video knows she's right; anyone who hasn't can now go check it out and see just how accurate this description, and Chalamet's interpretation of it, truly is. — JR