Sons of Anarchy is about a gang of biker outlaws. They steal, torture, murder. Yet in the world of SAMCRO, the scariest person, bar none, is a grandma. Gemma Teller may not have any official say in club business, though she rules the Sons with a brass-knuckled fist. The things she'll do to protect her loved ones are the stuff of nightmares. A smoky-eyed death stare from Gemma is far more terrifying than facing the barrel of a gun.
Still not convinced? Hear it straight from the matriarch's mouth.
10 "I flew my broomstick into a brick wall."
Anyone can sound like a badass when they're on top of the world. But even when Gemma's at her lowest, she proves herself to be tough as nails. This is her black-humored explanation for her bruised appearance after Clay despicably beat the tar out of her.
Even if Gemma were to burst into tears, it still would not affect her steel bravery. She views herself as a survivor, not a victim. Gemma is well aware that many people see her as the Wicked Witch of Charming. By acknowledging that and allowing herself to be vulnerable, Gemma shows she's made of much stronger stuff than any member of SAMCRO who will hide behind their bravado, even if it kills them.
9 "My Martha Stewart's wearing real thin."
When one hears the word "Mom", many conjure up images of homemade cookies and mini-vans, or the protective Mama Bear. Gemma definitely fits that description, though her bear is more of the grizzly variety. As unconventional as she is, there's nothing Gemma identifies with more strongly than being a mother. From her leather jackets to her Cadillac Escalade, Gemma would trade all her worldly possessions for the guaranteed safety of her family. And to her, family isn't just Jax and his boys. All of SAMCRO, their wives and children, are Gemma's family.
Of course she wants to help out when Donna, Opie's wife, struggles to pay for groceries. Despite Gemma's intimidating appearance, family will always get her sweet side first. But when Donna rejects her help, Gemma gives her a gentle reminder not to poke the bear.
8 "...Don't be a d*ck."
"When it comes to finding a good ole lady, you don't get what you want, Rat, you get what you are. Don't be a d*ck."
For as much respect as Gemma commands, it only gets her so far. SAMCRO is a patriarchal society, one that sometimes treats women like cattle, sex objects, or servants. Ratboy is one of the newest members of the club, known for his soft-spoken demeanor. But when the club's caveman-like qualities rub off on him and he begins to mistreat his girlfriend, Gemma feels the need to pipe up.
SAMCRO is a men's club, and Gemma stays out of official business—in theory. But she is no man's property. SAMCRO or not, to Gemma, every partnership should be equal. This isn't just Gemma the strong woman talking; it's Gemma the mom. She knows what a good man Ratboy can be, and that his caddish behavior will destroy himself more than anyone else.
7 "Not my place to judge. We all fall down. It's about how we get up."
In case it isn't clear, you don't want to get on Gemma's bad side. That being said, as long as you aren't after anybody in her family, you and Gemma are probably okay. Manipulative and cutthroat as she is, Gemma doesn't put on airs. When she sees somebody suffering, even if it's by their own actions, Gemma wants to help. It's the mother in her.
Gemma helps Leticia Cruz detox, expressing this compassionate sentiment to her. Sure, Gemma may feel a tad guilty for recently butchering Tara. But barbecue fork or no barbecue fork, Gemma means what she says to Leticia. Gemma may have a lot of negative qualities, but being judgmental isn't one of them.
6 "Why don't you bounce my face off the floor? Then maybe you'll recognize me."
Gemma Teller is not one to cower in a corner, especially when it comes to those who have wronged her. During a confrontation with Clay, she calls him out for the wife-beater he is.
At this point, Gemma herself is in a pretty bad place. Jax has frozen her out and without her boys to look after, Gemma is lost. She goes on a downward spiral, numbing her pain with booze and drugs. But even in rough shape, Gemma is still nowhere close to Clay's low level. Beating up your wife is odious; beating up Gemma is moronic. Clearly, Clay Morrow is both. And Gemma loves to call a spade a spade.
5 "Had a gun in my face and I just walked twelve miles in spiked boots so no, I'm not really OK."
How Gemma manages to walk twelve feet in those boots is astounding, let alone twelve miles. It's almost comical imagining any of SAMCRO trying to do the same.
This whole scenario is fallout from Gemma trying to cover up Tara's murder. As much as Gemma deserves to be brought to justice, the woman has to be given a little credit. Most would have thrown themselves at the mercy of the club or the law at this point. Not Gemma. She's like the Energizer Bunny of survival instincts. The crazy thing is, she knows she can't continue forever. After her little hike, the blisters on her feet likely still don't outnumber the lies she's told. But Teller women are not ones to throw in the towel.
4 "Only men need to be loved, sweetheart. Women need to be wanted."
In Gemma's experience, this is certainly the truth. How many times have we seen Jax curl his head up in the lap of Tara, Wendy, Colette, etc? SAMCRO's motto is "fear the reaper", but these men truly fear not being loved.
Then there's Gemma. She may value romantic companionship, but above all, she wants to be desired. When she was assaulted by the white supremacy group, her biggest fear is that Clay would no longer want her. However, Gemma's definition of "wanted" goes far beyond the sexual. Jax will always be the most important man in her life. She could take or leave hugs and affection; what Gemma wants more than anything is for Jax to say, "Mom, I need your help."
3 "Thomas and Abel will not be raised by you..."
“Thomas and Abel will not be raised by you. What you do now will determine how we deliver that message. Mommy moved away… or Mommy passed away. Your call.”
Gemma knows there is no creature on earth more lethal than a mama bear protecting her cubs. Threatening one is the most foolhardy thing a person can do, but in her mind, Gemma has more of a right to these kids than Tara. This unabashedly exposes Gemma's selfishness. Her need to keep her grandchildren outweighs their own well-being. Gemma can't even begin to see that they'd be better away from a life of crime.
Tara stand her ground and refuses to back down, which is how she finds herself on the receiving end of Gemma's barbecue fork. That's the thing about Gemma—she's always been a straight shooter. Or a straight stabber.
2 "Nothing gets in the way of me taking care of my family. Especially my conscience."
This is Gemma's mantra. Her loyalty to her family is both her greatest trait and tragic downfall. It's easy for the SAMCRO family to feel truly nurtured, having somebody like Gemma in their corner. She offers both protection and affection. Hers is a safe haven, forever armed to the teeth.
But in the name of family, Gemma has dubbed herself judge, jury, and executioner. And the trials she conducts are awfully short-sighted. Just ask Tara. At least the Sons, in theory, put their murders to a vote. In her eyes, Gemma needs nobody's permission to do what she needs to do.
1 "I love you, Jackson..."
"I love you, Jackson, from the deepest, purest part of my heart. You have to do this. It's who we are, sweetheart. It's okay, my baby boy."
Yes, this is Gemma giving Jax a pep talk...for him to kill her. She knew all roads led to this, even if she took the long, twisted one to get there. In their world, this is how things get done. Gemma killed Tara, therefore Jax must kill Gemma.
Many a Son has sacrificed himself for the greater good—sniff...Opie...sniff—but who besides Gemma actually encouraged their killer to go through with it? She truly died doing what she does best—taking care of her family.