'Empire': The Best Quotes From Season 1

THR selects the greatest quotes from every season one episode of Fox's breakout drama.
Chuck Hodes/FOX

One of the best things about Lee Daniels and Danny Strong's hip-hop soap opera Empire is constant unpredictably. There were plot twists at every turn, and the dialogue itself was full of fresh surprise, moving deftly from salaciousness to sincerity — and delivering up more quotable lines than any other show in recent memory.

To celebrate Empire's freshman season, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look back at some of the breakout drama's best quotes — running from sincere to salacious. And because it's nearly impossible to pick just one of Cookie's (Taraji P. Henson) best one-liners, we included sections called "Cookie Clips" that highlight just how much Cookie can do with a few little words.


"I started selling drugs when I was nine years old in Philadelphia. I did it to feed myself. But it was the music that played in my head that kept me alive when I thought I was gonna get shot. And it was the melodies that I dreamt about that kept me warm while I was sleeping in the streets. You see, music saved my life." — Lucious Lyon

"Listen to me. You different. OK? It's only something mama knows, but it's gonna make life hard for you sometimes. But I want you to always remember I got you." — Cookie Lyon

"You can fool this country you legit, but I know you ain't nothing but a punk-ass gangsta." — Cookie

"You know I was never into wearing all them damn weaves. Girls walking around with their scalps smelling like goat ass." — Cookie

Cookie Clips:

"Boo Boo Kitty"

"Who stews a chicken?"

"You need to get LaCucaracha to clean up in here!"

"The Outspoken King"

"The streets aren't made for everybody. That's why they made sidewalks." — Cookie

"I try to talk to my sons. I don't think they're listening. Maybe it's me who's not listening to them." — Lucious

Cookie Clips:

"Pay that Pakistani!"

"Shut up, Dora!"

"Are you going to Ray Rice me?"

"The Devil Quotes Scripture"

"I feel responsible for my friend's death. Because he came to me and told me he needed my help. I'll light a match and I will burn this bitch to the ground. And I told him he got to stand on his own. I wouldn't give you three nickels. And I'm gonna regret that the rest of my life." — Lucious

"Just 'cause I asked Jesus to forgive you don't mean I do." — Cookie

"Is there a bathroom around here?" — Agent Carter
"Yeah, straight down the hall to the right. Then jump out the window. It’s straight down." — Cookie

"Now, I know you been in jail for a minute, but do you even know what a debutante is?" — Anika Calhoun
"A bougie ho with a lot of money?" — Cookie

"My obedience is no longer for sale." — Jamal Lyon

"False Imposition"

"You lose your soul when you feel like the world's forgotten you." — Cookie

"I can't make you love your mother, but you will respect her. Because she's lived through a hell that you have to understand if your music is every going to elevate to the place of poetry where it resonates in the hearts of its listeners." — Lucious

"He tried to out-dance me, girl. Next thing I know, we have three sons." — Cookie

"I'm not watering my music down for no tweens." — Hakeem Lyon

"Dangerous Bonds"

"I don't wanna win the game. I wanna change it." — Hakeem

"Dre, if you can't find the money for this, I really don't know what purpose you serve." — Lucious

"Let's look at it from a mathematical perspective. Your girlfriend has a girlfriend. Add that up. Two girlfriends. It's a mathematician's dream." — Lucious

"Your kids ain't real, they rich." — Carol Hardaway

"Don't ever underestimate me, little brother." — Jamal Lyon

Cookie Clips:

"Name’s Cookie; ask about me."

"What you mean by 'you people?' You black like me!"

"Out, Damned Spot"

"Yeah, difficult. I know that word. You see, y'all like to toss us to the side when you can't control us anymore because you're lazy and you don't want to do your job." — Cookie

Cookie Clips:

"Oh, and Anika, this is an ass!"

Read more Fox Plots 'Empire' Season 2: Lee Daniels Courts Oprah, Pushes for Less "Opulence"

"Our Dancing Days"

"My name is Cookie Lyon. My ex-husband, Lucious, and I started this company in a little garage in one of the worst ghettos in West Philadelphia. Yeah. Some of y'all probably have a few ex-wives, so you know I'm not gonna be standing up here telling you all this mushy stuff about what a fine man my ex is. Lucious Lyon is a musical god, and he's also a crazy son of a bitch that had a dream — still has a dream — and nobody better ever try to get in between Lucious and his dreams. We were hustlers, only choice we had, but do you know what the first rule of hustling is? You create your own customer base. Give them some of that good stuff. Make 'em want more. You see, Lucious did that with music. He created a sound. They call it the 'Lucious Lyon sound.' You all know it, or else you wouldn't be here. Lucious' music took the street mainstream, and made the mainstream feel street. Everything Lucious touches turns to platinum, and that's a fact. He started out doing it with the music. Next he did it with over a dozen profitable entertainment and merchandise divisions. And now he's gonna do it with your money, if you're lucky enough and smart enough to put it in his hands. Lucious and I had three sons before he dumped me. Our oldest son, Andre, is the CFO of this company. He's brilliant, and he's gonna make every last one of you filthy rich. Our other two sons, Jamal and Hakeem Lyon, they are living proof that Empire is more than just one man's dream. It's a dream come true that's ready to be passed down to the next generation, and the next and the next, and you all can be a part of it." — Cookie

"The Lyon's Roar"

"I've been with a whole lot of women, Cookie, but I was always looking for you in them." — Lucious

"I don't love Jamal more than I love you. I just know him better." — Cookie

"Tonight just made me sick — literally. So maybe you could just be a man, and get this done on your own, and not turn your wife into a geriatric whore ‘cause I am so over it." — Rhonda Lyon

"Mom, I'm telling you right now, just be careful. You do not want to love that man. Because he's incapable of loving anybody but himself." — Jamal

"Don't do it for me. Don't do it for your mama. Don't do it for your brothers. You do it for the sake of the music. You got to remember, that's why God put us on this planet, Mal. Regardless of how we fight or we feel about each other or try to hurt each other, the music, man. Music, that's forever. They'll dance to it forever. They'll sing to it forever. They'll be inspired by it forever. Put the bad blood behind us. Tell your truth in the music." — Lucious

Cookie Clips:

"You want Cookie's nookie, ditch the bitch."

"Did you get rid of fake-ass Lena Horne?"

"Unto the Breach"

"You have to understand, when a man in my position says 'please,' it means something … When a man like me says 'hear me out,' you hear me out, 'cause your life could depend on it." — Lucious

"You're right about one thing. Sexual proclivity is what put us in this position. Your proclivity, and the fact that you can't manage to simply keep it in your pants. And if the creeps and the bigots want to be over at Creedmoor, I don't give a damn, let them. I don't want them at my company, and neither should you." — Jamal

"Put aside your played-out homophobia unless it's more important to you than Empire." — Jamal

"Piece of business advice from that Wharton education you paid so handsomely for. You pick the one who knows you're a murderer." — Andre Lyon

Cookie Clips:

"Bye, Felicia!"

"That's my name, take a bite!" / "Take these cookies!"

Read more 'Empire' Cast, Creators Pick the Quintessential Songs of Season 1

"Sins of the Father"

"I want to spend the rest of my life with Cookie ... me, Lola and Cookie, I'm going to get it right this time." — Lucious

"She got her drawers wrapped around my baby's neck. And he can't breathe." — Cookie

"You know how God made man in his image? I’m making Hakeem in my image. God didn’t need no help, and neither do I." — Lucious

"I don't want you money. And as soon as I hear you're dead, I will take the first flight back, you hear me?" — Camilla

"I've been with your son for 10 years, and you don't know a damn thing about me. But just to clarify, I came from nothing, and I worked my ass off to put myself through Penn. Nothing has ever been handed to me, and I have never expected anything to either." — Rhonda Lyon

"If you kill me, everyone in this room would applaud. You see the little pretty blonde there? She hates me. My son wants me dead because I saved him from a con artist. But the worst thing that I did — I let the mother of my children rot in jail for 17 years. So trust me, Reg, if you shoot me, you would be everybody's personal hero." — Lucious

"You just don't want to die alone." — Cookie

"Die But Once"

"Use your inside voice when you’re talking to Becky!" — Becky

"I wish he would just drop dead already." — Cookie

"Witness as Empire becomes synonymous with American culture." — Lucious

"I ain’t got nothing to do with that, Brother Lucious." — Titan

"I'll still be here when you're dead, dad. I'll send a prayer down to you." — Andre

"My father is the devil, and you just spread your legs for him." — Andre

"Who Am I"

"Don't let me or anybody else ever try and control you again." — Lucious

"Empire Entertainment is yours, Jamal." — Lucious

"All my life, all I ever wanted was for that man to love me." — Jamal

Cookie Clips:

"He'll kill anybody; watch your back, baby!"

"Find yourself another snitch."

"Tell me why I shouldn't throw this drink in your bitch ass face."

Read more 'Empire' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars for Season 2

What were your favorite Empire quotes? Sound off in the comments below.

Twitter: @danielletbd