Who Said It?

‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Downton Abbey’: Violet Crawley vs. Olenna Tyrell

When it comes to vicious one-liners, nobody does it better than Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess. Or could Lady Olenna, of Game of Thrones, take her down in a battle of bon mots?

Season 3 of HBO’s NSFW smash drama Game of Thrones has brought in a slew of new faces to enrich its latest season. But one particular newbie, Lady Olenna Tyrell (née Redwyne) of Highgarden, who appears as King Joffrey’s bride-to-be’s grandmother (played to perfection by Dame Diana Rigg) has us scratching our heads: Haven’t we seen this character before? The white-haired woman with a wicked wit—who rarely holds her tongue—shares an uncanny resemblance to another one of television’s great grandmothers: Downton Abbey’s eternally disapproving Dowager Countess Violet Crawley.

The pair appear to be cut from the same cloth: Both are wealthy, powerful, opinionated, and viciously sharp women who deliver scathing one-liners that leave you both in awe of their cleverness and instantly goaded. Below, The Daily Beast pits these two deliciously dour dowagers against each other in a battle of one-liners. Can you tell these characters’ most withering quotes apart?

1. On Gilding the Lily

A. “I eat from plates stamped with roses, I sleep in sheets embroidered with roses, I have a golden rose painted on my chamber pot—as if that makes it smell any better—roses are boring, dear.”

B. “Nothing succeeds like excess.”

2. On Animal Analogies

A. “She is like a homing pigeon. She finds our underbelly every time. Dreadful woman.”

B. “Once the cow’s been milked there’s no squirting the cream back up her utter.”

3. On Family

A. “No, she isn't until she is married—then her husband will tell her what her opinions are.”

B. “We mothers do what we can to keep our sons from the grave; they do seem to yearn for it. We shower them with good sense, but it slides right off, like rain off a wing.”

4. On Flirting

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A. "No doubt you will regard this as rather unorthodox, my pushing into a man's bedroom uninvited."

B. “The city has been made brighter by my presence? Is that your usual line? Are you here to seduce me? Please, seduce away, it’s been so long.”

5. On Being Sassy

A. “It almost feels as if you’re about to arrive at the point.”

B. “Your quarrel is with my daughter, and not with me. So put that in your pipe and smoke it."

6. On the Middle Class

A. "Don't be defeatist, dear, it's very middle class."

B. “The rest are there to look adoringly upon the 700 to remind them how superior they must be to have the best seats.”

7. On the Fairer Sex

A. “Are you frightened, child? No need for that, we’re only women here.”

B. "I'm a woman. I can be as contrary as I choose."

8. On Cuisine

A. “The cheese will be served when I want it to be served, and I want it to be served now.”

B. “It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding.”

9. On World Views

A. “Life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.”

B. “What happens when the non-existent bumps against the decrepit? A question for the philosophers.”


1. A. Olenna B. Violet 2. A. Violet B. Olenna 3. A. Violet B. Olenna 4. A. Violet B. Olenna 5. A. Olenna B. Violet 6. A. Violet B. Olenna 7. A. Olenna B. Violet 8. A. Olenna B. Violet 9. A. Violet B. Olenna