Borderlands 2’s resident sociopathic villain, Handsome Jack, just might be one of the most interesting, enduring characters in modern gaming. He has a perplexing dual nature of being both charming and sadistic; hilarious and sinister. And while you’d think these attributes would clash — with Jack, it just… works somehow.
Much of the strength of his character stems from his memorable quotes, which range from funny to disturbing to nonsensical — and everything in between. Few characters in gaming have such an array of quotes that can be considered “gems,” especially those that are both amusing and provide insight into Jack’s unique ways.
Updated January 17th, 2021 by Lee Juckiewicz: 2020 was chockful of Borderlands goodies and surprises; there’s even a movie coming! After such a bounty, we’re crossing our fingers for some news about Borderlands 4 next year. If we’re especially lucky, there might even be something about everyone’s favorite villain. So without further ado, let’s go Vault hunting and examine some of Handsome Jack’s very best quotes. Warning: spoilers lie ahead.
15 “This Is Handsome Jack, And I’m Signing Off On The Hyperion! What Do You Guys Think? Accent Too Much?”
A lot of Handsome Jack’s dialogue comes to us through the radio in a manner that writers considered “similar to GLaDOS” from the Portal franchise. As such, a lot of what we know about his personality we have to learn without any facial or body cues; which is fine, because he’s more than capable of selling himself with his voice.
Jack has a very iconic voice that won him a lot of fans in his first appearance in the game. He is capable of threatening, charming, lying and panhandling all in the same breath, and so it’s no surprise that even the best of us can get carried away listening to him. When you can’t learn a man’s ticks, however, you learn not to trust him.
14 “It’s Cute That You All Think You’re The Heroes Of This Little Adventure, But, You’re Not.”
One of Jack’s most accurate — and interesting — descriptors is that he’s a villain who fancies himself a savior of Pandora. He spends much of Borderlands 2 reminding you just how full of himself he is, in addition to just how psychotic he can be.
Though one of the aspects that makes him such a rich and realistic villain — despite being in a post-apocalyptic game with monsters and mages — is his strong belief that he’s the hero. This quote from early on in Borderlands 2 might be a bit on the nose, but there’s something enduring about how upfront he is with his sense of righteousness.
13 “I Just Bought A Pony Made Of Diamonds Because I’m Rich.”
Not far into Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack makes a point to tell you just how rich and well-off he is by letting you know of his pony made of diamonds — which he hilariously names “ButtStallion,” and that this is no sculpture; it’s, in fact, a real pony.
This rambling about a supposed diamond pony is awesome for a number of reasons. It reinforces Jack’s arrogance, his desire for riches, and his nutty sense of humor, while further leading the player to distrust anything that comes out of his conniving mouth. It also sets the stages for a cool little easter egg during the Assault on Dragon Keep DLC, in which this famed stallion actually makes an appearance. Fittingly though, it only exists in a fantasy world.
12 “These Pretzels Suck!”
During the mission Best Minion Ever and just before the diamond pony line, Jack chimes in out of nowhere, chewing on a crunchy snack, before proclaiming “these pretzels suck!” This may seem like a typically random Jack-esque line to spout off, but what makes this quote truly hilarious is that it wasn’t intended by the writers.
Yes, one of Jack’s most famous lines is actually an improv bit that the voice actor, Dameon Clarke, decided to roll with since he was actually crunching on stale pretzels during his read. Though interestingly enough, it really does fit Jack’s odd and carefree attitude he exudes throughout the game. It goes to show you that some of the most memorable bits in art and entertainment can manifest from “happy accidents.”
11 “Petty Vandalism? Are You Serious? That’s How Far You’ve Fallen? It’s Just Sad.”
Jack’s ability to hang on to his pride and continuously mock you in your ear — even while tearing down several of his statues, reveals much about his personality. During the mission Statuesque, Claptrap walks you through a plan that involves using a Constructor to zap Handsome Jack’s statues in Hyperion Headquarters to the ground with a laser.
During this time, he unloads on you with a flurry of insults, such as “clearly you’re illiterate,” as you bring down a statue of Jack reading a book. At the same time, it’s one of the few moments in the game in which you actually get to push his buttons a bit, as underneath his mocking is a sense of aggravation. It’s fitting that doing some damage to a symbol of his ego is one of the few times Jack seems rattled, even if it’s for “like 8 seconds,” as he claims.
10 “Vault Hunter Looks For The New Vault. Vault Hunter Gets Killed. By Me. Seeing The Problem Here?”
This is one of those lines that immediately establishes Handsome Jack’s unique persona — as an arrogant, sadistic villain — and it’s one of the first things he tells you, which makes it even better. Gearbox makes it clear that the player will be dealing with a one-of-a-kind snarky villain here.
With this line, Jack gives a touch of exposition regarding his handling of Vault Hunters who he “disposes of” — or at least banks on them perishing — after they’ve worn out their use of finding new Vaults. He then follows this up with a request for the heroes to do him a favor and “off themselves for him,” with a comically nonchalant tone.
9 “You Should Have Died When I Told You!”
Jack is a man who likes to have control over a situation — whether that situation is killing Vault hunters, the future of his career or running a family. After all, he took over the Hyperion Corporation, made himself ruler of Pandora… all before we really met him.
It’s hard to blame him, though. Since Jack spends a lot of time monologuing, we learn a lot about his backstory which helps to explain (if not excuse) his control-freak nature. He lost his wife, felt responsible for his daughter and was abused by his grandmother. It isn’t much of a surprise that once he got power, he wanted to keep it; and wanted to make sure everything went the way he expected it from there on out.
8 “This Guy Rushes Me With A Spoon… A Freakin’ Spoon!”
Nathon Fillion fans might be surprised to learn that the actor — specifically his interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live — was largely the inspiration for fleshing out Jack’s character; at least the more charming, benign traits. But this random story, in which Jack rambles about how he gruesomely dealt with “this guy in New Haven” who crossed him, probably shows this influence most clearly.
During this graphic tale, Jack describes how he tortures the man in front of his kids with a spoon after he charged at Jack with the utensil. He tells this story while yukking it up; as if he’s merely telling his friends a funny tale about him spilling coffee on himself at the office.
7 “You Feel That? That Electricity In The Air When You’re Just Aching To Murder Someone? Haven’t Felt That In Such A Long Time.”
Just in case you needed a reminder, Handsome Jack kills people. In fact, he’s killed people enough that he’s apparently gotten a bit of a taste for it, which is the last thing you want to find out when you’re on the way to a boss battle.
More than that, though, this particular line feels a little bit like a pep talk for Jack as much as it is a warning for you. Sure, he might be making it clear that he’s coming in on the offensive, but he also has the air of a deeply anxious man who feels he has a lot to prove. Jack masks his trauma with his wits, and it’s times like this when it really shows.
6 “It’s Me, Roland. Let’s Kill Handsome Jack And Then We’ll All Go Out For Milkshakes.”
There isn’t much depth behind this quote — spoken shortly after Roland’s tragic death in Borderlands 2 — other than to reveal more of Jack’s twisted sense of humor. During the mission Data Mining, a voice sounds on the ECHO system in which Jack imitates Roland on their comms in an almost comically horrendous manner.
Even the game itself trolls us at this moment, as we’re flashed an image of Roland over the intercom, before it’s revealed to be Jack. Moments like reinforces the notion of Jack being that villain we “love to hate,” and demonstrates the zany nature of Borderlands 2.
5 “Stop Shooting Yourself, Stop Shooting Yourself!!”
When playing in True Vault Hunter Mode (unlocked after completing the main game once) Jack sometimes has a unique effect called the Guardian Surveyor; a shield that makes him invulnerable to attacks. It’s also gold, which seems very on brand for him.
He has a lot of good lines while you’re unable to hit him, but one that really sticks — not because it’s particularly poignant, but because anyone who’s got a sibling knows how annoying it is. And annoying the Vault hunters is something that Jack certainly prides himself on during the games, even if his one-liners are very snappy.
4 “Never Meet Your heroes, Kid, They’re All Dicks. Every Last One.”
The irony is pretty astounding with this gem of a quote from the AI rendition of Handsome Jack. Unlike most in our list, this line comes from the episodic adventure title, Tales from the Borderlands. Near the finale of the game, Rhys, one of the protagonists informs Jack that “he’s his hero, but he has to shut him down.” Jack then replies with this memorable line.
The quote is interesting in that it reveals a more serious and (relatively) profound version of Jack. Granted, this isn’t really Jack, though his AI variant does still possess both his personality and memories, which makes it pretty telling. It gives some insight into his sense of cynicism and self-awareness — though it further drives home the point of Jack feeling like the “hero.”
3 “Jimmy, Please Make A Note: I’m Strangling Mister Moorin For Bringing Up My Wife.”
During his dark history, Jack claims his wife had been inadvertently killed by Angel, his daughter, because of her immense powers as a Siren. Though there’s information that contradicts this, and it’s speculated that Jack in fact killed her while blaming it on Angel. Either way, this quote reveals the touchy subject that is Angel’s mother, while reaffirming him as a psycho killer who’s method of choice is choking his victims.
One of the ECHO logs reveals the game’s villain choking a man for merely mentioning his wife. Jack being Jack, he also injects his trademark sadistic humor, as he explains that he is not choking the employee who mentioned his wife. Choking is what you do what you eat too fast, and what he’s currently doing is strangulation.
2 “I’m Fine…. I’m The Hero…!”
The Pre-Sequel goes into Jack’s motivations a little bit more than Borderlands 2, and it’s only really once you’ve played it that you realize just how striking this little line of dialogue is. Nobody wants to die, least of all a megalomaniac villain… but that was never how Jack saw himself.
Jack is the hero of his own story, and he believes that everything he does is either justified, or funny. It’s hard to say. While a psychologist could probably launch his whole career off analyzing Jack’s decisions, only he really knows what’s going on upstairs. But if you’re dead, you’re up to nothing at all — and that won’t do for him.
1 “I Could Have Saved This Planet! I Could Have Actually Restored Order!”
This quote, which occurs near the end of Borderlands 2, is powerful and amusing in that it sums up Jack as the type of villain he is rather perfectly. Despite that carnage he’s caused; despite being soundly defeated on countless occasions and near his demise, he still goes out proclaiming he’s the true savior of Pandora.
It demonstrates just how sincerely he believed to be saving the world by unleashing The Warrior and wiping out the Bandits. The sheer stubbornness, pride, hero complex and arrogance of Jack permeate his character… all the way up to his death.
Next: Borderlands 2: 10 Facts You Never Knew About Handsome Jack
- Borderlands 2
Stephen is an avid Nintendo, Indie, and retro gamer who dabbles in Xbox on occasion, mainly in the form of binge sessions of Overwatch. He’s a history buff, an aspiring writer of short fiction, and a devout metalhead who enjoys poorly drumming along to Black Sabbath on his cheap drum set. When his beloved Chicago Cubs or Bulls are not playing, he typically likes to watch random documentaries or campy horror films.
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