It’s no secret that Malory Archer (Jessica Walter) is a difficult, hyper-controlling boss that no one in their right mind would want as their mother. Of course, it’s no surprise that someone with these characteristics — along with a steady diet of alcohol and olives — can come up with some pretty soul-crushing jibes at the drop of a hat. For the past seven seasons on FX’s Archer, her scorn seems to know no bounds or mercy, as she’s proven time and again to be the champion of the hurtful remark. In honor of Malory Archer’s meticulously delivered insults, here’s a ranking of the eight meanest (so far).
7. “Oh, Pam’s just as full of crap as she is carbohydrates.”
Outside of her son, Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), the most regular recipient of Malory’s flagrant viciousness has to be Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), the plucky, secretly badass former HR Rep. Even Crenshaw (Shelly Desai), a Russian mole who had infiltrated ISIS in an effort to take them down, thought Malory should be nicer to Pam — which he reminds her of right when he takes her hostage. Malory may have escaped unharmed, but she never does heed any of Crenshaw’s advice. In fact, she only manages to get worse from there.
6. “ISIS isn’t your own personal travel agency. It doesn’t exist so you can jet off to Whore Island.”
Fed up with Sterlings reckless use of his ISIS expense account, she decides to address the issue head on by giving him a severe reprimand. Granted, because it’s Malory, she adds a little zinger at the end, accusing her son of galavanting off to some magic island filled with prostitutes; all on the company’s dime. While it’s a little tame as far as scathing insults go, there happens to be a little bit of truth to it. Turns out, just mentioning ‘Whore Island’ is enough to distract Sterling to the point that he stops paying attention altogether.
5. “If I cared about what you do on the weekend, I’d stick a shotgun in my mouth and pull the trigger with my toes.”
Okay, let’s not pretend that anyone here likes to have to make — or listen to — smalltalk. When it happens, though, most of us simply smile and sort of autofill our answers while quietly counting the seconds in your mind until it’s all over. Malory, on the other hand, stops the smalltalk dead in its tracks, offering up a rather descriptive account of just how little interest she has in a little meaningless banter. It might not have a lot of finesse, but it’s direct enough that it gets the job done.
4. “Oh, like you’d recognize a vegetable that wasn’t wrapped in a Monte Cristo sandwich.”
After Pam and Cheryl end up giving zucchinis for Malory’s eye treatment instead of cucumbers, Pam ends up on the receiving end of her insults once again. Despite most of Malory’s anger being skillfully deflected to ‘Scatterbrain Jane,’ the imaginary office scapegoat invented by Pam and Cheryl for just such occasions, Malory still ends up snapping at Pam when she tries to show a little solidarity with her boss. While it’s mean-spirited, it’s just not quite as effective as some of the other entries on this list, mostly because Pam has to ask Malory what she means, which is a luxury most people aren’t afforded.
3. “The classic Irishman’s dilemma: Do I eat the potato or do I let it ferment so I can drink it later?”
When the superintendent of Malory’s building goes door to door looking for his annual Christmas gift from the building’s tenants, which is usually a little bit of holiday cash, she’s happy to give the man a potato — for the third straight year. After he politely brings up his family’s mounting hardship and medical bills, Malory doubles-down on her stinginess with this derogatory stereotype about his Irish ancestry. It’s a stone-cold insult even when you don’t include the fact that Malory also condemned the the guy’s kid to death, which she does without changing her facial expression.
2. “And if I wanted to sit around all day going nowhere, I’d be a teacher!”
Malory’s known to be impatient, demanding, and painfully insensitive. Here, she gets to be all three at the same time. Once Archer is forced to deal with some hefty child support payments to support baby Seamus, he comes to his mother for help after she assures him she’d always be there for him. Of course, when it comes time to actually help out, Malory clarifies that, while she may be there, her money won’t be. She then manages to promptly insult every teacher on the planet, all while being snappy to her limo driver. It would be awe-inspiring if it wasn’t directed at one of the most under-valued professions in the world.
1. “If I did want a grandchild, I’d just scrape all your previous mishaps into a big pile and knit a onesie for it.”
Most people would rejoice at the idea of welcoming their first grandchild into the world, but Malory’s certainly not like most people. As she gives Sterling another stern talking-to, this time over his philandering ways, she just lays it all out there (Phrasing!) and asks why he doesn’t just get a vasectomy. Sterling, once again shocked, immediately comes back with the go-to question about her wanting grandchild, and Malory’s response is delivered with a typical helping of heartless precision. It’s so raw and unexpected that even Archer can’t help but be shocked by it. It encompasses all of her disappointment with her son in just a few simple words that are so harsh even Malory (sort of) apologizes, blaming her temper on her fast.
All things considered, it’s nothing short of a miracle that, years later, she manages to warm up to her actual grandchild, Abbiejean Kane-Archer.