The 100 Greatest Six Feet Under Quotes

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41. Ruth Gets it Right, “The Liar and the Whore” (Episode 2.11)
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Gary: “Claire is the type of person who needs her life to be meaningful.”
Ruth: “Who doesn’t need their life to be meaningful?”

Everyone on Six Feet Under is trying so hard to find the meaning in their live, be it through love, work, or family. It’s a constant struggle that is always in flux. Gary, Claire’s guidance counselor, makes it seem like Claire is an anomaly, but Six Feet Under always posited that even in some small way, everyone’s life is meaningful and we’re all trying to find that meaning in ourselves as well.

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42. The Budding Artist, “The Liar and the Whore” (Episode 2.11)
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Claire: “If we live our lives the right way, then every single thing we do becomes a work of art.”
Sure, Claire says this when she’s insanely high and while she’s creating the ugliest pair of pants known to man, but she makes a beautiful point about how we should all potentially try to live our lives. And crafting those terrible pants for her mother is still a wonderful act, one that makes Ruth unbelievably happy and leads her to proclaim that she’ll wear the pants nonstop. Sure, this might be the ravings of a high person, but it’s not necessarily a bad idea.

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43. Mother & Son, “The Last Time” (Episode 2.13)
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Ruth: “You’re not supposed to protect me. I’m supposed to protect you. That’s what a mother does. She tries. Most of the time she fails, but how are you ever going to feel loved if you don’t ever let me try?”
Nate: “I do. I do feel loved.”
Ruth: “There’s just so many months I could have loved you better.”

In one of the series’ most moving scenes, Nate becomes terrified about an upcoming surgery and falls back into the arms of his mother for comfort. Throughout “The Last Time,” Nate downplays his fear and his surgery, saying it’s a pretty basic surgery, not trying to get anyone all too worried about him. But when Nate tries to protect his own mother, the tables turn and Nate becomes the one who needs protecting, breaking down and crying at the end of this exchange. Despite every problem Nate and Ruth have with each other, they always come back to their original positions: the favorite son and the loving mother.

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44. Couple’s Counseling, “Perfect Circles” (Episode 3.01)
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David: “Keith’s got a lot of anger issues he inherited from his father and I’ve got a lot of doormat issues I inherited from mom.”
At the beginning of Season Three, Keith and David are in couple’s counseling. Keith isn’t happy working security since he’s no longer a cop and David rests far too much of his own happiness on Keith’s happiness. Keith’s emotional state is bringing them both down, even though that isn’t what he intends when he “blows off some steam.” The above quote explains a lot about this relationship, as Keith tries hard not to be his father but occasionally falls into certain familiar patterns, while David tries so hard not to get walked all over, which only makes him more frustrated and worrisome over the little things that really don’t matter.

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45. Getting to Know You, “You Never Know” (Episode 3.02)
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David: “You can’t ever really know a person. If you think you can, you’re living in a fucking dream world.”
One of the biggest problems in the relationship between Keith and David is miscommunication, or lack of communication altogether. While David wears his heart on his sleeve and is almost too open, Keith keeps more to himself, knowing he loves David, but often not communicating that as well as he should. Despite therapy, Keith and David continue to struggle with how well they do or do not know each other—they surprise each other until the very end.

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46. Self-Critique, “The Eye Inside” (Episode 3.03)
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Olivier: “In the beginning, if you hate something, it’s good, because you don’t recognize the beauty of your own truth.”
In the third season, Claire’s first art teacher to leave an impression on her, Olivier, starts off as a mentor, but ends up somewhat of an enemy by season’s end. But Olivier makes some valid points about art. Here, it’s almost as if he’s is explaining how Claire feels about her own art, since she started it almost as a hobby, then had to be convinced by Sarah and Billy that she had legitimate talent. As Olivier and many of the show’s artists will go on to show, there’s no bigger critic than yourself.

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47. Confidence Building, “The Eye Inside” (Episode 3.03)
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Olivier: “We despise ourselves so much that we consider our own point of view as trivial. But that’s bullshit! That’s your father talking!”
After showing off her art, Claire immediately becomes self-deprecating instead of confident. And if there’s one thing Olivier isn’t lacking in and knows how to give off, it’s confidence. Claire is often in her own shell, but he helps her find the strength to be sure of her work, for better or for worse. Much like Ruth, Claire is initially too afraid to be proud of herself and do what she wants to do, but as the series progresses, she will find that confidence.

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48. Facing Fears, “Nobody Sleeps” (Episode 3.04)
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Bettina: “I think if you’re afraid of something, it probably means you should do it.”
Bettina as a character is exactly what Ruth needs in her life. She’s a free-spirit like Sarah, motivated by what she wants to do rather than what she should do, but she’s also not a relative so it’s easier for Ruth to embrace her attitude. When Ruth is trying to find her place in life, it’s Bettina that shows her the door and tries to push her through it. Some of her happiest moments are with Bettina, a person who lives her life the way Ruth wants to.

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49. Prison Life, “The Trap” (Episode 3.05)
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Nate: “You can’t expect everything to be perfect all the time, and you can’t get shaken when it isn’t. If there’s a moment when it feels like you’re in prison, you just have to think of all those other moments when it feels safe. And remind yourself that those moments outweigh the prison moments.”
Brenda: “Being alone is the prison, just thinking about yourself, just trapped in this fucking vortex, always watching yourself. Which I suppose is okay if you’re interesting. The truth is: nobody is that interesting.”

When Nate and Brenda both discuss their current relationship statuses, it explains plenty about who they are, and points to that openness they have with each other (something that they share with few others). The fact that Nate sees his marriage with Lisa as some kind of prison proves that their marriage is an issue, but also that Nate’s whole concept of marriage might be too. But Brenda’s reaction to being alone is even more surprising—you would imagine she’d be completely fine by herself, especially since her life does seem pretty interesting. Considering Brenda and Nate can’t make either single or married life work for themselves, it’s no wonder neither of them seem happy in either situation.

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50. The Power of Failure, “Making Love Work” (Episode 3.06)
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Russell: “How can you grow as an artist if you don’t have the freedom to fail now and then?”
Surely Russell and Claire would’ve never worked out in the long run, but it’s the way that Olivier gets in between them—both in their relationship and in their work—that makes everything so much harder for them. After comparing their work in class, Olivier calls Russell’s work “white elephant art,” then worries about Olivier’s assessment for days after. Throughout Russell’s college art career, he is constantly failing, then building himself up for the sake of his art.

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