As one of the most acclaimed shows of all time, Mad Men features plenty of moments that have stayed with fans long after the series ended. And with the show’s sharp writing, some of the most memorable moments in Mad Men come down to a perfect line of dialogue.
While Don Draper seemed to get all the good lines, many of the characters on the show were able to deliver at least one unforgettable quote. It could be a line that speaks to the nature of a character, it could be a particularly funny line, or it could be the kind of line that makes fans think.
11 “She’s An Astronaut.”
One of the funniest supporting characters on the show was Ida Blankenship, Don’s elderly secretary. With her blunt and rude personality, she delivered some of the biggest laughs in the series. In fact, even her death scene was hilarious.
But as much as it was fun to laugh at Miss Blankenship’s antics, she also got one of the greatest eulogies. Bert Cooper remarks that she was born in a barn and died in a skyscraper, referring to her as “an astronaut.” It is a beautiful way for this comedic character to leave the show.
10 “Be A Woman.”
One of the biggest themes of the show was the gradual progress of women in the workplace. This is best exemplified by Peggy Olson’s transformation in Mad Men. And one of the best pieces of advice she gets about achieving what she wants is from Bobbie Barrett.
After Peggy helps Bobbie hide her affair with Don, Bobbie offers some unsolicited words of wisdom. In order to get what she wants, she cannot try to be a man. Instead, Bobbie encourages Peggy to “be a woman” which starts Peggy’s journey of defying expectations.
9 “She Doesn’t Know That Loving You Is The Worst Way To Get To You.”
Though their relationship ended years earlier, Don and Betty have a nostalgic and romantic reunion one night while both of them are in relationships. As they share a passionate and honest moment with each other, Don begins to think about the life he had with Betty.
But in an example of how much she has changed, Betty shows that she no longer falls for Don’s charms. She reminds him of his commitment to Megan and points out “She doesn’t know that loving you is the worst way to get to you,” proving she now sees Don for the man he really is.
8 “People Want To Be Told What To Do So Badly They’ll Listen To Anyone.”
Part of the reason Don Draper is so good at his job is that he thinks he knows how people think. There have been plenty of times when that has been proven wrong, but he has convinced himself and others of his astute observations about society and that makes him arrogant.
It is especially interesting when Don meets someone of the beatnik movement who challenges his capitalist existence. Don’s assertion that people want to be told what to do is not only condescending, it shows his slight god complex.
7 “You’re A Grimy Little Pimp.”
Though Lane Pryce was introduced later on in Mad Men, he quickly became one of its best characters. While he has a rather tragic journey in the show, he delivers some unforgettable moments, like when he puts Pete Campbell in his place.
After Pete insults his value to the company, Lane challenges him to a fight. Seeing Pete begin to shrink at the realization of what is about to happen is priceless. It is made even better when Lane delivers the brutal insult, calling him a “grimy little pimp.” It’s the kind of treatment fans wanted to see Pete receive for years.
6 “Well, Aren’t You Lucky. To Have Decisions.”
Despite Peggy defying many expectations in her career, she still lives in a world where women don’t get to make their own choices. This becomes heartbreakingly true with the end of her relationship with Ted.
Through their affair, they both grew to love each other, but Ted ultimately decides to return to his family. He tries to reason with Peggy by assuring her that one day she will be thankful he made this decision. But she snaps back with the injustice that he is the only one allowed to make such decisions.
5 “I Don’t Have A Contract.”
Though Don is a hard protagonist to like at times, it was always rewarding to see him defeat his adversaries. Duck Phillips seemed like someone who could finally bring Don down as he gains more power in the firm, but he becomes overconfident when the time comes.
After being named as president of the firm, Duck warns Don that he will be expected to honor his contract and follow Duck’s new direction. Without any trace of concern, Don points out that he doesn’t have a contract and can leave to a competing firm anytime he wants. It is a thoroughly satisfying win for Don.
4 “Not Great Bob!”
As Pete Campbell changes throughout the series, he becomes one of the show’s funniest characters. Some of his most hilarious moments come from the storyline involving his mother becoming involved with a colleague of Bob Benson.
The situation causes Pete to grow more and more frustrated, culminating in the famous scene where he confronts Bob in the elevator. As Bob cheerfully asks Pete how he’s doing, Pete responds with an angry, “Not great Bob!” The delivery of the line is so perfect it has spawned countless memes around the internet.
3 “I Don’t Think About You At All.”
Though Don has fleeting moments of kindness and even selflessness, he can also be a cruel and demeaning man to those who work with him. He sees himself as superior to them and has no regard for their feelings.
When Michael Ginsberg confronts Don about not choosing his superior pitch idea, Don is condescending and dismissive. Ginsberg tries to rise above Don, telling him that he feels sorry for him. But Don responds with “I don’t think about you at all,” which is the most devastating insult on the show.
2 “That’s What The Money’s For!”
The relationship between Don and Peggy is very much at the heart of the series. And the highlight of their relationships comes in this iconic Mad Men scene as they both work late on a pitch and start venting their frustrations.
Peggy argues for recognition in the job but Don argues that it is her role to serve him. She says he never even thanks her for the ideas she presents and he screams back, “That’s what the money’s for!” It is a moment when Peggy realizes Don feels ownership over her and her work.
1 “If You Don’t Like What’s Being Said, Change The Conversation.”
Despite his many faults, it is hard not to admire the way Don can smooth talk clients and always seems to have the perfect thing to say at the perfect time. And there are times when what he says can feel more profound than just a sales pitch.
When a potential client’s new venture is being met with backlash from a vocal public, Don suggests instead of addressing the matter, they simply change what people are talking about. Not only is it a brilliant advertising strategy, but it also speaks to Don’s own journey of changing his life.