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'Rot In Hell, You Snitch': 5 Essential Lines From This Week's 'Empire'

Bryshere-Gray-as-Hakeem-Lyon-and-Taraji-P.-Henson-as-Cookie-Lyon-in-the-Poor-Yorick-episode-of-EMPIRE-oct-14-2015-billboard-650
Chuck Hodes/FOX

Bryshere Gray as Hakeem Lyon and Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon in the “Poor Yorick” episode of Empire airing Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015.

Television drama has always been prone to soundbite screenwriting (gotta have memorable lines to pack into the weekly commercial), but in the Internet age, that's been taken to a whole new level.

A lot of dramatic TV dialogue seems crafted to be turned into a meme -- or tweeted with an approving fire emoji. Frequently, those efforts come across as painfully forced.

Whether it's the talent of the writers or the peerless cast, Empire manages to deliver a healthy heaping of quotable jabs each week without seeming contrived (Taraji P. Henson deserves the Lyons' share of credit for taking a good line and delivering it like an instant classic).

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On this week's Empire, as Lucious acted fresh as hell while the feds watched and Empire and Dynasty teamed up for a one-off music video truce, we were treated to plenty of great zingers. Here were the five best lines. 

"If I die in police custody, I did not commit suicide!" – Cookie

While being arrested and shoved into a police car, Cookie nods to ongoing allegations of police brutality outside the world of the Fox network -- specifically, black people who die in police custody as a result of suicide or murder, depending on who you ask.

"You know why I made Jamal the head of the company? Because he can do the work without his mama." – Lucious

As season 2 progresses, Lucious continues to get more vicious with his sons -- it's almost as if when the battle is over, he wants one victor and two corpses. His masculine ego shot at Hakeem was harsh, but clearly intended in the "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" mold. As Hakeem stormed out of the video shoot, Lucious' conniving smile indicated that an angry, independent Hakeem is possibly what he wants more than Jamal at the head of Empire.

"Why y'all looked shocked? This family never been a real family. I'm outta here and I'm never coming back." – Hakeem

After being insulted by his father and suffering the (mild) indignity of seeing a massive Warholian painting of Jamal, Hakeem decided he'd had enough, stabbed the painting and stormed out. Not a tweetable line of dialogue per se, but it was satisfying to finally hear someone in the Lyon family point out that they're about as familial as a school of piranhas.

"Rot in hell, you snitch." – Lucious

Lucious Lyon is one cold mother. Right after Andre delivered a touching, heartfelt tribute over the corpse of his Uncle Vernon -- who his wife accidentally killed and he helped bury -- Lucious stepped up to say a few words for the departed. Those words were the coldest, cruelest eulogy imaginable, i.e., everything you want to hear from Empire's No. 1 villain.

"You need to kill yourself and that wack weave you got on your head." – Cookie

Cookie faces off and hilariously shuts down a nosy lawyer trying to take down her family. 


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