The new season of Mayans: MC may be done this year, but it's never too late to drive back down to Charming to revisit the original biker outlaws. The thrilling FX series may have been off the air for four years, but it's still just as visceral and real as it was when it first debuted.
Sons of Anarchy was a show full of guns, rats, feds, and crime. Jax, Clay, Juice, Opie, Tigg and the other members of SAMCRO were an incorruptible band of brothers, at least when they weren't ratting on the club or killing each other. Even in the hardest of times, there were lines that were never crossed. Though the series saw them pushed further across those lines with each new deal that went bad and every member that went in the ground. As the feds circled closer and closer and the betrayals kept coming, they always did what they had to do to keep on riding another day. Of course, each member did what they had to do if they felt that they had to put the club aside and do what was best for them.
The series may be off the air, but it is fairly easy to find it online with just a few taps of your mouse. So put on your cut and get ready to drive back into the dark and twisted world of Kurt Sutter's Sons of Anarchy.
Before you start your next binge, here are the 10 Rules SAMCRO Has To Follow (And 10 They Don't).
20 Do: No Ride, No Vote
There are a lot of rules that the Sons treat like scripture, but none more than this one. If a member can't ride then they are essentially admitting to the club that they are no longer strong enough to be a member. Clay Morrow had many challenges to his presidency, but the only one that scared him was his rapidly decaying hands.
When Bobby's eye was removed, the thing that literally added insult to injury was that it would prevent him from riding. This pretty much was a black mark that would keep him from rejoining his brothers, even if he was returned alive. He'd never have to deal with that though as he was permanently kept from riding with a cruelly placed bullet.
19 Don't: Never eliminate Another Member
Throughout the series, there was a lot of Son on Son violence, like Clay eliminating Piney. The two were both lifelong friends and among the First 9 founding members of the club. This was the ultimate sign that Clay had fully gone off the deep end in his pursuit to retire a rich man.
The same thing happened when Juice took down Miles. He was so ashamed that he tried to end himself soon after. Once he'd done that, there was no room for redemption for Juice. He continued along that path until his ultimate demise. That pattern continued once Jax took out Jury. Teller went along a dark path after Tara was eliminated, and eventually, he paid the price for this as well.
18 Do: Wear The Patch
The second golden rule of SAMCRO was that a member had to wear the patch. In fact, this rule was so strong that club members were rarely ever seen without the patch. At one point, the patch was considered illegal in Charming. Even this wasn't enough. All of the members then started sporting thick hoodies over their patches. In southern California, that's quite the commitment.
Several times in the series you could see Jax or other club members sewing patches on or maintaining it like a holy relic. The only time they would ever show disrespect was when they ripped a patch off another member or off of themselves.
17 Don't: Never Talk To The Feds
Across every year of the season, at least one member was either talking to the feds or being pressured by them. Members like Juice and Otto even went so far as to turn on the club completely. It did not end well for either.
Jax continuously played Agent Stahl for the club. We were led to believe that he'd gone rat, but in the end, he pulled the rug out from under Stahl and the audience alike. He even let Opie get his ultimate revenge by taking her out, once and for all. Chibs had a different sort of relationship with the law. In the final season, Chibs carried on a mutually beneficial relationship with Sheriff Althea. Their relationship ended in the final episodes, leaving the state of the Sons versus Charming law enforcement up in the air.
16 Do: Get The Ink
The tattoo business in Charming is almost definitely one of the biggest industries in the city. Each member not only has his own personal tats but also get something for the club. In order for a member to be a proper Son, he had to get his ink.
Getting your ink is considered one of the proudest moments of becoming a member. It's almost like a rite of passage in its own way. Having Sons ink when you aren't a member is considered one of the biggest insults and carried heavy penalties. There'll be more on that later. They may have worshiped their ink but the same courtesy didn't exactly apply to each other's wives.
15 Don't: Never take out A Member's Old Lady
The first major passing in SOA was Opie's wife Donna. Op was being set up by the feds but the whole plan backfired. Tigg was told by Clay to take the shot on him, but accidentally clipped his wife when they changed vehicles. Instead of taking out Tig, Opie ended up devising a plan with him.
A brotherhood is pretty strong when two members can conspire to murder one of the other members and for them to find a place of forgiveness. Opie's loyalty to the club was so strong afterward that he ended up making the ultimate sacrifice for it. That's quite a way to go from the need for bloody vengeance only a few years previous. Anyone else who took out an old lady found themselves six feet under pretty fast. Even when they were family.
14 Do: Remove The Ink, Or Else
One of the biggest crimes a former member could commit was keeping their ink after they were excommunicated. Once you leave the club, you are expected to pay to get the tat blacked out. Getting the that was a rite of passage and blacking it out erases that. In the first season, a former member comes back to town, trying to make amends. While hanging out with him, they see the remnants of his ink sticking out of his shirt. They immediately set to dealing with the issue.
Clay's sentence for losing his membership in the Sons wasn't quite as painful. They actually allowed him to have his blacked out by the club. After that, he was never as strong again. It took the fight right out of him to lose his ink.
13 Don't: Stay In Your Territory
There were many gangs that operated in the Sons' vicinity. They had their old enemies, The Mayans who they kept a fragile alliance with for much of the series. There was the Real IRA who they were in business with. The Grim Bastards, Mexican Cartel, and the 9er's were also heavily in play.
In fact, there were few criminal organizations in the area they didn't run afoul of. The Sons were hypothetically supposed to stay in their territory but their frequent chaos only exploded further and further beyond their borders. Perhaps no territory violation was as destructive as Tigg taking down the daughter of a high-class gangster, Damon Pope. Tigg pays for this crime in the worst way possible, later on.
12 Do: Abide By Club Votes
Not every criminal organization is a democracy. Many are almost like dictatorships where the men just have to obey their leader without question. The Sons were different. The First 9 considered themselves philosophers as much as outlaws. Jax's father, JT, especially. Together they created a club that relied on democracy and a more collective decision-making process.
The organization was never stronger than when it relied on this system. Club meetings were very effective forms of decision making and communication. Having all members equally informed on an issue meant that the president could always pool from the expertise of all of his members.
11 Don't: Bring Everything To The Table
Despite their greatest strength being in each other, they frequently splintered off into small factions that kept secrets from the table. These small alliances were eventually what sewed the distrust that so readily threatened to tear the club apart. No members were more guilty of this than the two main presidents. Jax and Clay both had very different philosophies about what the club could be.
Neither worked this debate out at the table. Instead, they pulled those who were loyal to them into constantly changing side factions that tried to sabotage and plot against the other side. It was this sort of thing that directly led to the passings of Donna, Gemma, Clay, Tara, and ultimately Jax.
10 Do: No Dealing
One of the most surprising aspects of the Sons organization is their strict no dealing policy. For all the times they were hard up, they never resorted to dealing in Charming. In season 4, they did reluctantly enter the trade but they never resorted to dealing in the charter city.
In a world where almost every crime show is about dealing, it's refreshing to see one try to stay out of that life at all costs. The show was much better for it, as it gave the Sons some kind of morality to work within the crimes they chose to involve themselves in.
9 Don't: excluding certain people
The First 9 instituted a strict rule against the inclusion of African Americans. This rule was the breaking point for Juice, who learned that he was half black on his father's side. This information was used to blackmail him into betraying the club.
Luckily, Jax saw how ridiculously outdated this concept was. In the last season, the club made history by patching over members of the African American bike gang. T.O. Cross became the first openly black member of the club, issuing a new state of biker gang law throughout all of the charters. It's sad that this happened so late in the series and that we never got to see where it led.
8 Do: No Women Allowed
As much as women like Tara and Gemma sacrificed for the club, it's a shame that no woman was ever considered to wear the patch. Gemma herself went through more and gave more for the club than most of the members. She was as close to an honorary member as the club ever came. At no point did Gemma even so much as own a Harley, SAMCRO's trademark. This rule arguably caused the most damage.
If Tara felt closer to the club, maybe she wouldn't have turned on them. She was a vital member of the organization even without a patch. It's doubtful the Sons would ever have a strong female presence, but keeping the old ladies so much at bay ended up having catastrophic results for the club. It's unfortunate that none of them ever saw that.
7 Don't: Act Against Your President
An organization with a strong leader is obviously a much stronger one. Unfortunately, the club fell victim of lots of infighting over who would get to wield the gavel. This trend went back all the way to the days of the First 9. Jax spent most of the first half of the series trying to slowly take power away from Clay's presidency. Much of the second half is about Clay trying and failing to get it back.
Throughout the series, many different characters warned Jax about the dangers of messing with the club president. Many wanted him to just get in line and there were times where he did. Then, unfortunately, Clay would continue to push his stepson further and further away. Jax could've easily inherited and changed the club once Clay's term was over and Clay could've compromised more with Jax's point of view. Unfortunately, these two were always destined to be at each other's throats.
6 Do: No Selling To Kids
There was never a point in the series where children were involved in their criminal activities. They could have easily had more business selling weapons to minors and high school gang members. Instead, part of their commitment to trying to keep Charming away from their circle of violence was keeping that violence away from the kids.
Unfortunately, the violence came to the children anyway. Abel spent most of his childhood rocked by the horrors he witnessed due to his father's lifestyle. He was taken across the ocean by extremists. He saw much more which left him with deep scars as the show ends with heavy hints that Abel will follow in his father's footsteps.
5 Don't: Club Before Family
Members were expected to be loyal to the club above all else, even family. Obviously, this proved impossible several times in the series. Most notably, Jax and Tara's relationship frequently put the club in danger. Tara was constantly being pressured by the law and even turned on her husband for the sake of her family. Instead of taking care of Tara, Jax decided to go along with it to save his family.
Club and family lines were also hard for Opie. In the opening season, Opie was pressured from his wife to get away from the club. He tried to pull away, but Jax continued to pull him back in with the promise of money and change. This eventually led to Opie and his wife paid the ultimate price. Jax put club before family at last, but he ended up sharing Opie's fate. In one of the last shots of the series, Abel is shown holding Jax's ring. Clearly, the tug between the Sons and the Teller family is going to continue to a whole new generation.
4 Do: Enforce Street Justice
One part of their self assigned job that the Sons always took to was the enforcement of their own brand of street justice. When anyone in town thought that the law couldn't handle their problem, they went to the sons for help. The most famous example of this was when Elliot Oswald's daughter was attacked at a city function. The Sons took it upon themselves to find the culprit.
They also frequently acted as mediators for rival gang negotiations. Many of their shaky alliances were made stronger by them doing small jobs to increase trust between SAMCRO and another club. This was primarily how they rebuilt their trust with the Mayans after so many years of fighting.
3 Don't: Protect Your Charter Town
One of the main things SAMCRO was expected to be was protectors of Charming. While they did occasionally solve problems that the people could not, more often they brought destruction to Charming's door.
No consequence hit the Sons harder than when a child got a hold of one of their weapons and took it to school. Understandably, the city quickly turned on the Sons, thinking they sold him the gun. They figured out what really happened and worked harder to get out of the gun running business, but to an extent, the damage was done. There were no more scenes where townsfolk were proud to have the Sons as members of their community.
2 Do: Say This Is On Me (At Least Once)
There is an unwritten rule that all members of SAMCRO are expected to follow. It doesn't seem to be a literal rule but it happens so often that one could almost assume it's written into the bylaws. As a member of the Sons of Anarchy, one is expected to make a massive mistake or two. However, there is a way to own up to it.
Say, "this is on me." That one phrase is probably the most repeated one in the entire series. Almost every cast member says it when they admit to some screw-up or another. The phrase is such a strong part of the Sons terminology that it's still used almost as much by the characters on the spinoff, Mayans MC.
1 Don't: Never Lie To The Club
This rule was the simplest and should've been the easiest to uphold, but somehow, none of the Sons truly understood this. Almost every character told a lie to the club to protect themselves or someone else. The biggest, and most damaging, lie was by far the one from Clay Morrow. Clay and Gemma conspired to sabotage JT's bike and lied about it. The revelation of this lie to Jax was ultimately the thing that led to Clay's downfall.
The thing that undoubtedly destroyed the Sons was the huge web lies and betrayals that ate away at the trust that made the Sons strong in the first place. When the gang was united, they were unbeatable. The lies led to betrayal, murder, and countless ruined lives. Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from the show is that lies and distrust destroy families, both the ones you choose and the ones that choose you.
Do you know of any more rules that The Sons of Anarchy have to follow? Let us know in the comments!