Ranking Dignam’s Best Insults From ‘The Departed’

Between Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a State Police Detective who worked for mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) as a secret undercover cop who worked as a member of Costello’s crew, there’s a lot going on in The Departed. Between all the betrayal, deception, and gritty violence, it’s easy to overlook one of the movie’s most entertaining aspects: Mark Wahlberg as Staff Sergeant Dignam and his seemingly-endless stream of ruthless insults.

Vicious, profanity-laden, and often shockingly specific, Dignam used insults like a weapon. To show our appreciation of that silver-tongued devil, here’s a ranking of Dignam’s eight best insults from The Departed.

8. “I’m the guy that does his job. You must be the other guy.”

Showing an uncommon amount of restraint, Dignam came off as downright delightful here, relatively speaking at least. After a team is put together to monitor Costello’s meeting with some Chinese gangsters to sell them some military-grade technology the tactic proves to be ineffective thanks to inefficient prep time that left a pretty big blindspot in their surveillance.

Dignam had a few choice words addressing the incompetence of the surveillance team, but it was Captain Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) who really flew off the handle. In the meantime, Costello, and everyone else at the meeting, got away scot free.

7. “Blow me, alright. Not literally, though. Unfortunately, there’s no promotion in it for you.”

While they only shared a handful of scenes together, the vitriol that Dignam had for Sullivan was significant. Still, most of the time they butted heads it was relatively civil, what with both of them being cops and all. Here, Dignam showed just a hint of hostility over Sullivan’s new position, which involved some internal investigation of the department. While he definitely got his point across, Dignam still got to take a real potshot at Sullivan’s integrity as a cop, and hinted at what Dignam really thought of the guy.

6. “So tell me, what’s a lace-curtain motherf*cker like you doing in the Staties?”

Billy Costigan’s interview with Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) to become a Massachusetts State Police Detective was just a little bit… unusual. As Queenan tried to calmly explain his incredibly risky proposition to have Costigan go undercover after a stint in prison, Dignam lurked behind him, and would only come out from behind the desk to begin his brutal, insult-driven takedown of Costigan’s character. Sure, it was harsh, but it made Queenan’s proposal seem downright reasonable by comparison.

5. “Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe f*ck yourself. My theory on Feds is they’re like mushrooms: feed ’em sh*t and keep ’em in the dark.”

This one finds Dignam a little more on edge, mostly because he was never one to waste his chance to make a good first impression. After addressing a group of Ellerby’s newly hired detectives and an FBI Agent, Dignam reminded everyone just how tight-lipped he was about the undercover officers he and Queenan had in the field. He was so secretive that when the Fed in attendance asked if they had anyone working undercover at that time, he got a delightful little non-answer, capped off with Dignam’s uncensored commentary regarding his thoughts on Federal Agents.

The icing on the cake, however, is when Ellerby advised his colleagues to not “judge him on this meeting alone,” a suggestion that was met with audible laughter from everyone in the room.

4. “If you had an idea about what we do, we would not be good at what we do, would we? We would be c*nts. You callin’ us c*nts?”

Another gem from Costigan’s job interview, this one prompted after the would-be cop made the mistake of saying that he thought he had “an idea” of what Queenan’s outfit did. Without so much as uncrossing his arms, Dignam began his point-by-point takedown of Costigan, first by undermining his intelligence, then turning the tables and insinuating that he’d just insulted the integrity of Queenan’s deep-cover unit.

3. “Good!”

Sometimes, less is more, and after the tension between Dignam and Sullivan boiled over in the wake of Queenan’s murder, the two finally came to blows. While scores of cops frantically pulled the two apart, Ellerby hands Dignam a suspension, telling him firmly “two weeks, with pay.” Dignam’s one-word response not only let him make good his threat to quit his job and go rogue, it summed up just how completely fed up he is with not only their investigation, but the system on a whole.

2. “Just ’cause you play a tough guy doesn’t mean you are one, you lace curtain Irish f*ck.”

After meeting with Queenan and Dignam, Costigan made it clear that being undercover for a year had started to wear on him and his mental health. Keep in mind, this would’ve been after the few months he served in prison for a trumped up assault charge designed to throw the Costello crew off his scent. So, after all that time, Dignam still thought to call Costigan a “lace curtain Irish f*ck,” just like the old days, because nothing is going to get under someone’s skin quicker then constantly pulling out a well-worn barb like this.

1. “You’re upper-middle class during the week, then you’re droppin’ your ‘Rs’ and you’re hangin’ in the big, bad Southie projects with your daddy the f*ckin’ donkey on the weekend. I got that right?”

There’s so many masterful things at play here it’s almost impossible to describe them all in a few words. First, Queenan remained a calm and sturdy yin to Dignam’s profanity-filled yang — which, again, made for one of the most intense and unpleasant job interviews of all time. Next, Dignam harped on the myriad of problems that Costigan’s family had faced over the years, and even challenged the very nature of who he really was, telling him that he was “like two different people.” This chipped away at Costigan’s ego just enough that it sold him on the idea of going undercover to once again pretend that he was two different people, making it Dignam’s most brutal, scathing, and effective insult in his seemingly endless repertoire.