House of Cards (season 1)

first season of the American television drama series

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House of Cards (2013-18) is a Netflix original series based on the British miniseries of the same name detailing the rise of a scheming American politician, Congressman Frank Underwood, a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th congressional district and House Majority Whip. He is passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, so he initiates an elaborate plan to attain power, aided by his wife Claire Underwood.

Chapter 1 [1.01]

Frank Underwood: There are two types of pain: The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain...the sort of pain that's only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. [begins strangling the dog] Moments like this require someone who will act. Who will do the unpleasant thing, the necessary thing. [the dog's neck snaps] There. No more pain.

Frank Underwood: [about Claire] I love that woman. I love her more than sharks love blood.

[Frank has just been denied the Secretary of State appointment he was promised]
Linda Vasquez: I know he made you a promise, but circumstances have changed.
Frank Underwood: The nature of promises, Linda, is that they remain immune to changing circumstances.

Claire Underwood: My husband doesn't apologize, even to me.

Frank Underwood: I almost pity him. He didn't choose to be put on my platter. When I carve him up and toss him to the dogs, only then will he confront that brutal, inescapable truth: "My God, all I ever amounted to was chitlins".

Frank Underwood: Power is a lot like real estate. It's all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value. Centuries from now, when people watch this footage, who will they see smiling just at the edge of the frame?

Frank Underwood: You might very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

Chapter 2 [1.02]

Frank Underwood: Every Tuesday I sit down with the speaker and the majority leader to discuss the week's agenda. Well, discuss is probably the wrong word. They talk while I sit quietly and imagine their lightly salted faces frying in a skillet.

Frank Underwood: Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power - in this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who does not see the difference.

Frank Underwood: I'll fall on this grenade myself, just to piss them off. Give me John King at CNN.
Donald Blythe: Wait, Frank. This is not your fault.
Frank Underwood: No, we have to protect your reputation.
Donald Blythe: But you're the man that needs to get the bill through the house.
Frank Underwood: I will-- hang on..
Frank Underwood: [aside] What a martyr craves more than anything is a sword to fall on, so you sharpen the blade, hold it at just the right angle, and then 3, 2, 1--
Donald Blythe: It should be me. It was my bill.

Doug Stamper: [to Peter Russo] When it comes to your life, Peter, and what I know about it, you should assume that there's no such a thing as a secret.

Chapter 3 [1.03]

Frank Underwood: I grew up here, in the up country - Bibles, barbecues, and broken backs. Everything gets just a little bit thicker this far south - The air, the blood, even me. I try to make it down here at least once a month. Every trip is a reminder of how far I've come. I hated Gaffney as a kid, when I had nothing, but now I've come to appreciate it. It's not as suffocating as it once was, except when I have to deal with the sort of nonsense that makes me want to hang myself.

Frank Underwood: What is the face of a coward? The back of his head as he runs through the battle.

Zoe Barnes: I've been offered a spot on Nightline.
Frank Underwood: You want my advice?
Zoe Barnes: I don't want it, I need it.
Frank Underwood: Close your eyes.
[Zoe closes her eyes]
Zoe Barnes: Okay.
Frank Underwood: It's 11:25, Nightline is about to come on, millions of people are watching. Where are you -- home?
Zoe Barnes: No.
Frank Underwood: At the studio?
Zoe Barnes: Yes.
Frank Underwood: And what do you see?
Zoe Barnes: I see lights. I see a camera.
Frank Underwood: And that little red dot goes on. Tell me what you hear.
Zoe Barnes: I hear my voice.
Frank Underwood: And those millions of people, what do they hear?
Zoe Barnes: My voice.
Frank Underwood: And what do they see?
Zoe Barnes: My face.
Frank Underwood: So you don't need my advice.
Zoe Barnes: Hammerschmidt's gonna freak.
Frank Underwood: You don't want to work anywhere you're not willing to get fired from, Zoe. Treading water is the same as drowning, for people like you and me. Good luck, I'll be watching.

[Frank is giving a service at the funeral of a teenage girl]
Frank Underwood: You know what no one wants to talk about? Hate. I know all about hate. It starts in your gut, deep down here, where it stirs and churns. And then it rises. Hate rises fast and volcanic. It erupts hot on the breath. Your eyes go wide with fire. You clench your teeth so hard you think they'll shatter. I hate you, God. I hate you! Oh, don't tell me you haven't said those words before. I know you have. We all have, if you've ever felt so crushing a loss. There are two parents with us today who know that pain, the most terrible hurt of all- losing a child before her time. If Dean and Leanne were to stand up right now and scream those awful words of hate, could we blame them? I couldn't. At least their hatred I can understand. I can grasp it, but God's wantonness, His cruelty, I can't even begin to...My father dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 43, and when he died, I looked up to God and I said those words, because my father was so young, so full of life, so full of dreams. Why would God take him from us?
[Narrates to the audience]
Frank Underwood: Truth be told, I never really knew him or what his dreams were. He was quiet, timid, almost invisible. My mother didn't think much of him. My mother's mother hated him. The man never scratched the surface of life. Maybe it's best he died so young. He wasn't doing much but taking up space. But that doesn't make for a very powerful eulogy, now, does it?
[to the congregation]
Frank Underwood: I wept. I screamed, "Why, God? How can I not hate you when you steal from me the person I most love and admire in this world? I don't understand it, and I hate you for it." The Bible says in Proverbs, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Lean not on your own understanding. God is telling us to trust Him, to love Him despite our own ignorance. After all, what is faith if it doesn't endure when we are tested the most? We will never understand why God took Jessica or my father or anyone. And while God may not give us any answers, He has given us the capacity for love. Our job is to love Him without questioning His plan. So I pray to you, dear Lord, I pray to you to help strengthen our love for you, and to embrace Dean and Leanne with the warmth of your love in return. And I pray that you will help us fend off hatred, so that we may all truly trust in you with all our hearts... and lean not on our own understanding. Amen.

Zoe Barnes: You can speak to me like an adult, Tom. You don't have to lecture me like I'm a little girl.
Tom Hammerschmidt: You haven't earned the right to be treated as an adult. You think a few front-page stories and some face time on TV makes you the next Judy Miller? You've got a long way to go. Don't be so arrogant.
Zoe Barnes: Okay, so you think when a woman asks to be treated with respect, that's arrogance?
Tom Hammerschmidt: Yeah. What now, are you accusing me of sexism?
Zoe Barnes: Just making an observation.
Tom Hammerschmidt: Ok, no TV for a month.

Frank Underwood: [to Dean Masters] Would you like me to resign, Mr. Masters? Just say the word, and it's done. If it will bring you any satisfaction. I asked the reverend once, "What are we supposed to do in the face of so much senseless pain?" And he said to me, "What else can we do but take what seems meaningless and try to make something meaningful from it?"
The Reverend: He's right. That's how God works: through us.
Frank Underwood: Will you let me work for you? [aside] What you have to understand about my people is that they are a noble people. Humility is their form of pride. It is their strength, it is their weakness, and if you can humble yourself before them, they will do anything you ask.

Chapter 4 [1.04]

Margaret Tilden: Two freshmen girls are moving into their dorm room together. One of them's from Georgia, one of them's from Connecticut. The girl from Connecticut's helping her mother put up curtains. The girl from Georgia turns to them and says, "Hi! Where y'all from?" The girl from Connecticut says, "We're from a place where we know not to end a sentence with a preposition". The girl from Georgia says, "oh, beg my pardon. Where y'all from, cunt?" You heard that one before?
Tom Hammerschmidt: A version of it. With softer language.
Margaret Tilden: Tom, we don't need people who follow the rules. We need people with personality. We want Zoe's face, her energy. We want to get her on TV as much as possible. It helps us cut through the noise. See what I'm saying?

Frank Underwood: Love of family: most politicians are permanently chained to that slogan, family values. But when you cozy up to hookers and I find out, I will make that hypocrisy hurt.

Frank Underwood: It's so refreshing to work with someone who'll throw a saddle on a gift horse rather than look it in the mouth.

Frank Underwood: You see, Freddy believes that if a fridge falls off a minivan, you better swerve out of its way. I believe it's the fridge's job to swerve out of mine.

Tom Hammerschmidt: I don't think you appreciate anything. I think you're an ungrateful, self-entitled little c-
[Tom cuts himself off]
Zoe Barnes: Little what? Little what, Tom? Say it!
Tom Hammerschmidt: Cunt. You're a cunt.
[Zoe takes out her phone and begins typing]
Tom Hammerschmidt: What are you doing? Don't you dare-
Zoe Barnes: You don't even know what I'm typing.
Tom Hammerschmidt: Get out, Zoe.
Zoe Barnes: Just a second. I'm almost done.
Tom Hammerschmidt: Get out. You're fired.
Zoe Barnes: Whatever you have to tell yourself, Tom.
Tom Hammerschmidt: Get out!
Zoe Barnes: So should I press "send"? I think I should. Call me whatever you want, but you should remember, these days, when you're talking to one person, you're talking to a thousand.

Chapter 5 [1.05]

Marty Spinella: [to Frank] Either you assure me right now that amendment is out, or I'm walking out that door and I'm gonna start launching missiles.

Frank Underwood: Marty and I have a good working relationship. Or used to. You can see he has a temper, but I can usually cut through that and reason with him. But I may have pushed him too far, which is worrisome. Friends make the worst enemies.

Tom Hammerschmidt: I know how to run a paper, Margaret. What I don't know how to do is run a paper staffed with people I can't control.
Margaret Tilden: Was she really out of control?! To my understanding, she simply turned down a new position.
Tom Hammerschmidt: It's her attitude. It's the way she turned it down.
Margaret Tilden: Did you think to ask her what she'd rather do instead?
Tom Hammerschmidt: Is it my job to pander to all my employees--
Margaret Tilden: My employees. And if they have something to offer that you don't, yes, it is your job. We've been through this, Tom. The paper's operating at a loss. We need people like Zoe.
Tom Hammerschmidt: I'm very aware of how much we're hurting, Margaret. Staff reductions, dip in circulation. Each one of those faces and every subscriber we lose, they keep me awake at night. Now, I won't argue the business side of things. It's neither my place nor my area of expertise, but know this-- Zoe Barnes, Twitter, blogs, enriched media, they're all surface. They're fads. They aren't the foundation this paper was built on, and they aren't what will keep it alive. We have a core readership that thirsts for hard news. Those are the people I work for. And I won't be distracted by what's fashionable.

Zoe Barnes: Nobody tells me when to work and when to play.

Frank Underwood: [to Peter] Everyone in that room wanted to cross you off the list. I said no. I stuck up for you. I said, "Peter Russo, he's got potential. He's young. He's capable. He's going places". I made them keep you in contention. You're still on that list. You show up at my house in the middle of the night, drunk, to whine, to try to shift the blame on me instead of taking responsibility for yourself and your own actions. Maybe they were right in that meeting. Maybe you are worthless. I'm the only person who believes in you, Peter, but maybe that's one too many. The hot water will open up your capillaries. The aspirin you just took will make your blood thinner. It's up to you, Peter. Oh, and if you do decide to take the coward's way out, cut along the tracks, not across them. That's a rookie mistake.

Chapter 6 [1.06]

Frank Underwood: [to Meechum] From this moment on you are a rock. You absorb nothing, you say nothing, and nothing breaks you.

Frank Underwood: This is the worst possible position to be in. If I water down the bill, the president will still see me as a failure. If the strike doesn't end in a week, I forced myself into a corner. Only total victory will put me back into his good graces. The alternative is exile, which would mean the last five months were for nothing. I cannot abide falling back to square one.

[on live television, regarding the brick incident]
Marty Spinella: Mrs. Underwood... Claire... I am sincerely sorry that you had to go through that ordeal, truly. And it actually sickens me that someone made you feel unsafe in your own home. And I give you my word that to the best of my knowledge, none of our people had anything to do with it. But you know what sickens me more? That right now, your husband is using you as a prop on national television to try and win a debate. So I think you're the one that owes your wife an apology, Frank. And when you're done apologizing, can we please get back to the issue here of educating our children?

[Frank's gaffe during his CNN debate with Spinella has gone viral]
Candy Crowley: Congressman Frank Underwood says he got quote, "schooled" by AFT spokesman and chief strategist Martin Spinella during a debate last night on this network. In the past 24 hours, reruns of the gaffe have played nonstop on TV news programs and the Internet. A YouTube clip set to techno music has logged more than 300,000 hits and spawned dozens of other spoofs.

President Garrett Walker: Are you letting pride cloud your judgment, Frank?
Frank Underwood: Respectfully, sir, you're allowing fear to cloud yours.

Claire Underwood: You know what Francis said to me when he proposed? I remember his exact words. He said, 'Claire, if all you want is happiness, say no. I'm not gonna give you a couple of kids and count the days until retirement. I promise you freedom from that. I promise you'll never be bored.' You know, he was the only man - and there were a lot of others who proposed - but he was the only one who understood me. He didn't put me on some pedestal. He knew that I didn't want to be adored or coddled. So he took my hand and put a ring on it. Because he knew I'd say yes.

Frank Underwood: You know the difference between you and me, Marty?
Marty Spinella: What?
Frank Underwood: I'm a white-trash cracker from a white-trash town that no one would even bother to piss on. But here's the difference — I've made something of myself. I have the keys to the capitol. People respect me. But you, you're still nothing. You're just an uppity dago in an expensive suit turning tricks for the unions. Nobody respects the unions anymore, Marty. They're dying. And no one respects you. The most you'll ever make of yourself is blowing men like me. Men with real power. Yes. I can smell the cock on your breath from here.
Marty Spinella: You think you can get under my skin?
Frank Underwood: I know I can.

Chapter 7 [1.07]

Zoe Barnes: [looking out the window] I can see your security guy.
Frank Underwood: Meechum?
Zoe Barnes: He's cute.
Frank Underwood: He'd never go for you.
Zoe Barnes: Why not?
Frank Underwood: You're too intimidating.
Zoe Barnes: But he's the one with the gun.
Frank Underwood: But you're the one with the Congressman.

Walter Doyle: I've been doing this a long time, Congressman. I know when I've scraped all the shit off the shoe.

Peter Russo: Do you get off on this or something?
Walter Doyle: Does a doctor enjoy it when he cups your balls and asks you to cough?

Frank Underwood: There's no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth.

Doug Stamper: But the most important count I do has nothing to do with work. It's the number of days since April 4, 1999. As of this morning, that's 5,185. The bigger that number gets, the more it frightens me, because I know all it takes is one drink to go back to zero. Most people see fear as a weakness. It can be. Sometimes for my job, I have to put fear in other people. I know that's not right. But if I'm honest, like the fourth step asks us to be, I have to be ruthless, because failure is not an option. The same goes for my sobriety. I have to be ruthless with myself. I have to use my fear. It makes me stronger. Like everyone in this room, I can't control who I am. But I can control the zero. Fuck the zero.

Frank Underwood: Aren't you going to wish me a happy Father's Day?
Zoe Barnes: You don't have any children.
Frank Underwood: Don't I?

Chapter 8 [1.08]

Frank Underwood: The Sentinel, South Carolina's premier military college. They taught me the values of honor, duty, and respect. They also hazed me, tried to break me, and, senior year, nearly expelled me when I volunteered for a Senate race and my studies suffered. But that didn't stop them from soliciting a hefty sum for their new library 30 years later. How quickly poor grades are forgotten in the shadow of power and wealth.

Mrs. Russo: [to Christina] So, you're fuckin' my son? [Christina says nothing] Relax. I'm just messin' with you.

Peter Russo: You elected me to represent you, but I couldn't forestall the inevitable. The shipyard was gonna close. If not this year, then next year, or the year after that. You all know that. Here's another truth that's gonna be hard to swallow: I'm all you've got.

Frank Underwood: The library is a sham. Higgins asked me a favor. I asked someone else a favor. They slapped my name on it. Politics. Like everything else.

Chapter 9 [1.09]

Peter Russo: The more of my words, the fewer of yours, the better off we'll both be.
Reporter: If I didn't think you were such a liability to yourself, Congressman, I might even like you.
Peter Russo: If your circulation was as high as the Wall Street Journal, I might like you back.

Janine Skorsky: [to Zoe] So, a piece of advice as far as career strategies go: It's not worth fucking your way to the middle.

Frank Underwood: Proximity to power deludes some into believing they wield it.

Frank Underwood: A great man once said that everything in life is about sex…except sex. Sex is about power.

Shipyard Union Leader: Let me show you what's really going on. Here are the Democrats eating up all of their soft science, "organically homegrown" propaganda that the eco-fanatics are force-feeding them. And over here, at the tail end of all those jackasses, are middle-class Americans people who just want to work hard and rely on jobs in the drilling industry. And what about the hypocrisy, folks? Does Peter Russo honestly have the gall to lecture us on the purity of our rivers when he has been polluting himself with chemicals for years? He's not just been eating grass, he's been smoking it.

Frank Underwood: I'm not going to lie: I despise children. [pause] There. I said it.

Chapter 10 [1.10]

Frank Underwood: I have zero tolerance for betrayal, which they will soon indelibly learn.

Remy Danton: I don't eat pork.
Frank Underwood: When did that happen?
Remy Danton: When we started lobbying for the meat packing industry.

Peter Russo: You don't understand, I'm not afraid of you anymore, Frank.
Frank Underwood: Then you're misguided.

Claire Underwood: Such a shame, how naive you are.
Zoe Barnes: I'm not naive.
Claire Underwood: No? I've known everything from the beginning, Zoe. My husband and I tell each other everything. Don't you believe me? Is there a spider I can trap? I'm not here to punish you or to tell you to stop. I just thought I should open those big bright eyes.

Frank Underwood: We never played chess before, have we?
Doug Stamper: I don't know how.
Frank Underwood: You want me to teach you?

Chapter 11 [1.11]

Adam Galloway: What were you interested in?
Claire Underwood: Being more than an observer.
Adam Galloway: You wanted to be seen.
Claire Underwood: Not just seen. I wanted to be significant.

Frank Underwood: Are you entirely certain he's going to keep you on the ticket? I mean, it's no secret the two of you don't exactly get along.
VP Matthews: Ok, what has he said?
Frank Underwood: Oh, you're putting me in a very awkward position, Mr. Vice President.
VP Matthews: Has he been bad-mouthing me? Please tell me the exact words he used.
Frank Underwood: Well, there were a few variations, but the exact phrase he used was "pain in the ass".
VP Matthews: That sucker.

Claire Underwood: I envy your free spirit, and I'm attracted to it, but not all of us have that luxury.
Adam Galloway: Which is what I find so frustrating about you, Claire. You-you had a choice. You chose not to be free.
Claire Underwood: No. What I chose was a man I could love for more than a week.

Peter Russo: [to Frank] When did your help ever help me? You can live your life the way you want to. I'm done being told how to live mine.

Peter Russo: Failed. I failed myself. I failed my family. I failed the campaign.

Chapter 12 [1.12]

Raymond Tusk: Can I ask why you do that?
Frank Underwood: Do what?
Raymond Tusk: Tap your ring like that. I've seen you do it on TV. Two taps every time you get up from a table or leave a lectern.
Frank Underwood: Something my father taught me. It's meant to harden your knuckles so you don't break them if you get into a fight. It also has the added benefit of knocking on wood. My father believed that success is a mixture of preparation and luck. Tapping the table kills both birds with one stone.
Raymond Tusk: Your father was a peach farmer?
Frank Underwood: Yes, he was. Not a very successful one.
Raymond Tusk: Lack of preparation or lack of luck?
Frank Underwood: Lack of both. He was better at giving advice than following it.

Raymond Tusk: Decisions based on emotion aren't decisions, at all. They're instincts. Which can be of value. The rational and the irrational complement each other. Individually they're far less powerful.

Frank Underwood: I said to my professor, "Why mourn the death of Presidents, or anyone for that matter? The dead can't hear us." And he asked me if I believed in heaven. I said no. And then he asked if I had no faith in God. I said, "You have it wrong. It's God who has no faith in us."

Raymond Tusk: Fact, I have something that you want. You have something that I want.
[Frank chuckles]
Raymond Tusk: Have I said something amusing?
Frank Underwood: I've sat too many times on your side of the table not to enjoy the irony of finding myself on this side of it.

Frank Underwood: [about Tusk] He doesn't measure his wealth in private jets, but purchased souls.

Chapter 13 [1.13]

Frank Underwood: Of all the things I hold in high regards, rules are not one of them.

Frank Underwood: [speaking to God] Every time I've spoken to you, you've never spoken back, although given our mutual disdain, I can't blame you for the silent treatment. Perhaps I'm speaking to the wrong audience. [Looks downward] Can you hear me? Are you even capable of language, or do you only understand depravity? Peter, is that you? Stop hiding in my thoughts and come out. Have the courage in death that you never had in life. Come out, look me in the eye and say what you need to say. There is no solace above or below. Only us - small, solitary, striving, battling one another. I pray to myself, for myself.

Gillian Cole: [putting Claire's hand on her belly] Do you feel that? The kicking? I won't let people like you fuck up the world my child has to live in. If I have to tell a few lies to do that... I've learned one valuable thing from you.

Claire Underwood: [to Gillian] I am willing to let your child wither and die inside you, if that's what's required. Now tell me, am I a sort of enemy you want to make?

Raymond Tusk: I'm must say, I'm surprised, Frank. You have a reputation for pragmatism.
Frank Underwood: And I've also avoided a reputation for indentured servitude.
Raymond Tusk: I never make an offer more than twice, Frank. Tell me now if I can count on your cooperation.
Frank Underwood: You're not offering cooperation, you are demanding tutelage. So let me make you a proposal. I am absolutely willing to work together as equals. I will take your opinions seriously, just as the president does. But I will not bind myself to them in advance. If that doesn't interest you, fair enough. Good luck finding a vice president in the next four days who will prove as pragmatic as I. You can't purchase loyalty, Raymond. Not the sort I have in mind. If you want to earn my loyalty, then you have to offer yours in return. And if we can agree to that - well, you're a man with imagination.