HBO's recently aired Deadwood: The Movie was a wonderful and satisfying conclusion many fans never thought they would ever get to see. Set a decade after the events of the excellent 3-season show, the movie is a fitting return and goodbye to the violent titular town and all the wonderful characters who lived there. Of course, none are as memorable as Al Swearengen.
Played to perfection by Ian McShane, Al was the brutal, funny and intimidating owner of the Gem Saloon and one of Deadwood's most powerful figures. His intense and brilliantly written character was the highlight of the series and welcome focal point of the film. With his mix of humor, wisdom and more than a few profanities, Al gave us so many memorable lines. Here are the very best quotes from Deadwood's Al Swearengen.
10 Warm Welcome
Welcome to f**king Deadwood!
Deadwood is a brutal town -- there's no hiding that fact. It is filled with violent people who cannot cope with regular society engaged in many illegal activities. It must be an intimidating place to arrive in, especially if the first person to greet you is Al Swearengen.
After publicly insulted Sheriff Seth Bullock, Al and Bullock get into a brutal fight which spills into the road for all to see, just as Bullock's family is arriving in town. Al, taking uncharacteristic mercy on his enemy, decides not to kill Bullock in front of his family. With a bloody, beaten face, Al gives the family a warm welcome as only he could, perfectly summing up the show.
9 To-Do List
Don't forget to kill Tim.
Though he appears to only be a lowly saloon operator, Al has a lot of shady deals happening under the table. This nefarious side of his business means that murder is a regular part of his day. In fact, to kill even a close acquaintance seems like almost an afterthought.
After conning a naive man out of a small fortune, Al tries to wrap up some of the loose ends, including killing Tim, one of the men that helped him pull off the con. Al gives the order to his right-hand man, Dan, in such a casual way it makes it both funny and terrifying.
8 Out And About
Don't the decapitated deserve recreation, Chief?
Certainly, the strangest friendship that develops over the course of the series is between Al and "The Chief". Frankly speaking, "The Chief" is the decapitated head of a Native American which was given to Al in exchange for a bounty. For some unknown reason, Al decides to keep the head in a box and frequently talks to it when no one is around.
Al has always been a little bit crazy, but with The Chief, he is having full-blown conversations with a severed head. He even takes the box onto his veranda with him, thinking he is doing it a favor. Sadly, we don't get to see Chief make an appearance in the movie.
7 Full Glass
You see me empty, sir, do not pause and inquire. Simply assume and refill.
Al has always been shown to enjoy a good drink. In fact, there are probably just as many scenes of him drinking whiskey as there are scenes where he is not. In the end, the movie hints that the drinking will be what kills him.
Even when Al went to have a face-to-face meeting with George Hearst, a man much more powerful than he and capable of just as much violence, drinking was still on Al's mind. He makes certain that Hearst understands, just because his glass appears to be empty, does not mean his is done drinking.
God rest the souls of that poor family… and p***y's half price for the next 15 minutes.
If nothing else, Al is a businessman. He knows what will be good for his business, and even more, he knows what will harm his business. So when word comes that a family was slaughtered not too far from town, Al knows such news will cause people to spend less jovially.
Al is quick to act, giving a rousing speech to his patrons in an attempt to acknowledge and swiftly move past the tragedy. Offering a quick, somber prayer for the fallen, Al follows it up with a deal that has the whole saloon back in good spirits.
5 Life Lesson
In life you have to do a lot of things you don’t f**king want to do. Many times, that’s what the f**k life is… one vile f**king task after another.
Deadwood is another reminder that life in the Old West, on the frontier and in the gold rush, was a very tough way of living. The challenges and brutalities of the day wore heavily on the people and Al was not immune to such feeling.
Though he is tougher than most and been through more than most, Al is quick to complain about his own struggles. His thoughts on how life can sometimes feel like a job from which there is no escape, is a poignant thought. And even with the curse words thrown in, Al has a way of making such things sound poetic.
Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.
Al seems to have a strange relationship with a higher power, as many people do on this show. It's clear he believes there is some sort of God, but he seems to only see him as some sort of cruel being who only toys with people.
In one of Al's most quotable lines, he points out the unpredictability and often unfairness of life, it the most simple and beautiful of way. No matter what you might have in mind for yourself, life can always throw you a curve-ball. Al states this sentiment with no anger -- it's just a fact of the world.
3 Cold Stare
You would not want to be staring like that at me.
Al isn't the only one in Deadwood that is capable of violence, but he could very well be the scariest. No matter what enemy he is facing down with, not only does Al not blink, he's quite likely to strike first.
Al and Bullock have had a rocky relationship over the years with Al's nefarious activities often coming in conflict with Bullock's sense of justice and short temper. In a fit of drunken anger, Al was short-sighted enough to call Bullock out. And even though he might have realized it was a mistake, when the Sheriff gives him a hard look, Al is quick to remind Bullock who the meanest guy in town is.
2 Way Of The World
The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man… and give some back.
Al is far more than just whiskey and curse words. He is a wise man who often offers up very thoughtful advice to whoever needs to hear it at that moment.
In one of his unconventional pep talks, he tries to make the town's timid newspaper man Merrick more wise to the real world they live in. Along with trying to help out a friend, it is a line that says a lot about Al. His tough life has taught him, for right or wrong, that to end your own pain, you can't be afraid to inflict some pain.
1 Last Words
Let Him f**king stay there.
Deadwood: The Movie brings a nice end to almost every character on the show, and though it is not confirmed, the ending also suggests the end of Al Swearengen. The movie shows Al in a much weaker state than we're used to seeing him until the final moments where he rests in bed with Trixie by his side.
As Trixie begins to offer him a final prayer, starting "Our Father, which art in Heaven...", Al chimes in with a perfect final line. Even at the end of his life, he has no need for some higher power to come save him. It's funny, clever and has some cursing -- the perfect Al Swearengen line.