First premiering in 2018, Netflix’s critically-acclaimed Altered Carbon is a cyberpunk television series, adapted from Richard K. Morgan’s novel of the same name. Set in a futuristic dystopian world where humans and technology have blended into one, Altered Carbon‘s intricate worldbuilding has garnered many fans across the world.
The series follows Takeshi (Tak) Kovacs, an elite soldier who prior to the story betrays the army corps and joins a rebel group. While season 1 features Takeshi solving a murder mystery, season 2 is centered around his search for long-lost lover Quellcrist Falconer.
Embedded within both arcs is a fascinating delve into the ethics of technological development, identity, and power. Characters are able to preserve their consciousness by storing them in chip-like “stacks,” which they then insert into bodies, also called “sleeves.” Viewers will find in this action-charged series many parallels, both unnerving and assuring, to our relationship with the digital world.
Here is the scoop on Altered Carbon Season 2’s best quotes!
1. “Told in the age of eternal life, technology has conquered Death.” -Takeshi Kovacs
The season begins with a haunting monologue from Takeshi. In the futuristic Harlan’s World, where human minds can live beyond their bodies, the lines between immortality and mortality are blurred. Animate beings and technology fuse to give new meaning and longevity to existence.
2. “But with endless future comes endless past.” -Takeshi Kovacs
Although scientific development in Harlan’s World is impressive, it is not without consequences. In their reliance on the complicated technologies of life, humans must also confront the sacrifices and mistakes that were made to ensure the future.
3. “If you mean a passionate connection transcending time, and challenging the grim bounds of time itself, then yes, they had a thing.” -Edgar Poe
Poe is Takeshi’s trusty AI companion, who models himself after the great poet Edgar Allen Poe. When bounty hunter Trepp appears at a bar in search of Tak, Poe attempts to dissuade her. He tells Trepp that Tak is preoccupied with his own search for Quellcrist Falconer.
When Trepp expresses disbelief at the idea of a Takeshi in love, Poe explains the enduring relationship of Tak and Quell in quite a poetic way.
4. “Honor gets in the way of profit.” -Trepp
Trepp is hired by Horace Axley, part of the mega-rich population who are called “Meths.” Axley wishes to employ Takeshi as his bodyguard for his military experience, believing himself to be in grave danger. When a disgruntled Tak refuses to accept the invitation, Trepp shoots him in the back.
5. “I left a dying Earth behind to seed a new world.” -Horace Axley
Desperate for protection against an unknown enemy, Axley attempts to convince Tak to help him. He recalls his hopeful journey from a depleted Earth to Harlan’s World, asserting his experience and knowledge. When Tak still refuses, he uses Quellcrist as a bargaining chip, claiming that he knows where she can be found.
6. “All of us have ghosts, they cling to us like shadows.” -Takeshi Kovacs
7. “Of all the godforsaken rocks we’ve been to, we’re right back where we started.” -Takeshi Kovacs
When Takeshi awakes from an attack, he realizes that he is back in Harlan’s World, his homeworld. Plagued with difficult childhood memories linked to the place, Tak dreads the implications of his return.
8. “True salvation is found in renunciation.” -AI
9. “My father used to say that a cease-fire was just a breath between battles.” -Danica Harlan
Daughter of Harlan World’s founder, Danica is the planet’s current governor. In her father’s absence, she must find a way to secure her authority and protect the planet’s resources. Caught in a crossfire between the Quellists and the United Nations, one rebellious and the other tyrannical, Danica is troubled by the power struggles over her territory.
10. “We’re the goddamn fountain of eternal life, Stone.” -Danica Harlan
11. “Arrows and bullets all spent with sadness we fall. But unless I smite my enemy, my body cannot rot in the field.” -Tanaseda Hideki
Tanaseda is a Yakuza boss whom Takeshi once serviced and has continued to maintain friendly ties with. Honorable but stern, Tanaseda is a wise figure with powerful connections. In need of lodging, Tak attempts to impersonate Tanaseda in order to access The Yakuza’s domain. He recites the Tanaseda family’s death poem to prove himself.
Imbued with notions of loyalty, grit, and prowess, the death poem appears several times throughout the series. It serves both as a reminder of the violent world and the importance of a will.
12. “My name carries its own weight.” -Takeshi Kovacs
13. “I see your gift for understatement hasn’t changed.” -Tanaseda Hideki
14. “I’m still looking for her.” -Takeshi Kovacs
Though fatigued from decades of searching for Quell, Tak remains optimistic that he will be reunited with her one day. He tells this to Tanaseda, in the hopes that the powerful man will understand such devotion and aid his mission.
15. “He would lie to the devil himself if he stood something to gain.” -Tanaseda Hideki
16. “That’s not love. It’s an obsession.” -Tanaseda Hideki
17. “The cells in our body are constantly dying and being replaced. As we age, we become a copy of a copy of a copy, degrading each time.” -Tanaseda Hideki
18. “We transfer our minds into new sleeves, but what if the spirit degrades as well?” -Tanaseda Hideki
19. “We can’t quantify the change, but we are not the same.” -Tanaseda Hideki
20. “Time is the greatest of all warriors. What it doesn’t destroy, it alters beyond recognition.” -Takeshi Kovacs
Uncertain about his continued efforts to see Quellcrist again, Takeshi muses over humanity in the hands of time. He knows that human memory and emotions are prone to change over time— a fact immutable even with technology.
21. “We brace our backs against the void, desperate to hold onto the past, to our ghosts, to ourselves.” -Takeshi Kovacs
22. “All I want is a bed and no more bullshit for one day.” -Takeshi Kovacs
23. “I can’t do this anymore. This wild-goose chase across the stars, running after you.” -Takeshi Kovacs
Disheartened by the day’s events, Tak expresses his frustration with Quell’s elusive presence. He does not know where to look for her in the fast-paced, chaotic world. Although he remains wholly faithful to her, his seemingly futile actions render him physically and emotionally exhausted.
24. “Our bodies know things, our skins, our bones, our flesh hold our experiences.” -Quellcrist Falconer
Quellcrist is the leader of the Envoys, a group of super soldiers. She is also the alleged inventor of stack technology. Prior to the story, Quell leads a rebellion against the UN, where she meets and falls in love with Takeshi.
25. “Start messing with genome like that, the next thing you know you got a snout and four legs.” -Ray Locran
It is revealed that Takeshi’s new sleeve is made with a part-canine gene, granting him enhanced combat skills and healing. Such genetic experimentation, however, is not accepted by all.
26. “If you kick a dog, it’ll crawl back, lick your foot, begging for forgiveness. Kick a wolf, and he’ll rip your face off.” -Jaeger
Jaeger is Takeshi’s former commander and paternal figure, who works for the UN. He harbors intense resentment towards Tak for his betrayal and sees love as a weakness.
27. “Your sorrows may be infinite, but the supply of whiskey is not.” -Edgar Poe
28. “All the sum total of all my experiences. Surely you can understand my reluctance.” -Edgar Poe
Realizing that his internal system is glitching, Poe is urged by Takeshi to “reboot.” However, doing so entails a complete swipe of Poe’s memory. He is reluctant to do so, as that would imply forgetting Tak and his other friend, Lizzie.
29. “You have to let go.” -Takeshi Kovacs
30. “Axley was real-deathed.” -Unnamed Politician
31. “Your generation doesn’t remember what it was like before stacks.” -Dugan
32. “No one stays on Harlan without a reason.” -Trepp
33. “I work alone.” -Takeshi Kovacs
34. “The war’s left us with too many stacks and not enough sleeves.” -Tanaseda Hideki
35. “As you set down this path, consider is your anger truly with this imposter, or is it with yourself?” -Tanaseda Hideki
36. “Nothing is sacred. Every gift we’ve been given, every resource discovered, each new and shining thing that catches our eye, we pollute, disrespect, violate.” -Takeshi Kovacs
37. “We tell ourselves this is progress. Selling each other the fruits of our destruction, sparing no thought to what we lose, or leave behind churning in our wake.” -Takeshi Kovacs
38. “Their lives are worthless. Their experiences are not.” -Semetaire
39. “Ever hear of Constantinople?” -Jaeger
In a conversation with his subordinate, Jaeger references the ancient capital of Constantinople. He believes that the United Nations is just as powerful as the Roman/Byzantine Empire, if not more. Jaeger also believes that he must keep Danica in check to ensure that the UN does not follow in Constantinople’s demise.
40. “I forgot what real fear felt like.” -Anton Durov
41. “Some things are more important than money.” -Trepp
Trepp agrees to partner up with Tak, on the condition that he helps her find Anil, her missing younger brother. She is even prepared to go to extreme lengths in order to save him. Her love for Anil mirrors that of Tak’s for Quellcrist, in that the two are very protective of their dear ones.
42. “How does it feel, to be afraid of death again?” -Takeshi Kovacs
43. “I provide counsel and security for a very intrepid human.” –Edgar Poe
44. “He’s more than that. He’s my compatriot. A friend.” -Edgar Poe
When Takeshi is captured by UN forces and facing execution, Poe gives his all to rescue the human. He enlists the help of AI archaeologist Dig 301, professing his loyalty to Tak as both a friend and an assistant.
45. “If you want to save a human, you need a human.” -Dig 301
46. “The truth is hard to look at, isn’t it, Tak?” -Reileen Kawahara
Takeshi’s younger sister, Reileen is an intelligent but cruel character. Her death, initiated by Tak himself, continues to haunt him. When tortured, Tak hallucinates a spiteful Reileen.
47. “Caedite eos, Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.” -Jaeger
During their tense meeting after many years, Jaeger quotes in Latin the words of Arnauld Amalric to his former protege. They translate to: “Kill them [all], for God knows which are His own.” Jaeger’s cruel and aloof nature is evident here.
48. “The Last Envoy is a dusty old relic.” -Danica Harlan
When Jaeger tracks down Danica, he reveals Tak’s identity and warns her that the envoy will not be an easy opponent. She laughs and dismisses his concerns, however, claiming Tak’s importance has dwindled in the present. This act of underestimating Tak’s strength and legacy will soon cost her.
49. “The thing about having no purpose is that it gives you too much time to think.” – Dig 301
50. “Can’t risk soldiers becoming heroes. Heroes have a way of becoming kings.” -Jaeger
51. “That’s a high price to pay for patriotism.” -Takeshi Kovacs
52. “Too rich for my blood.” -Jaeger
53. “We always come back for each other. Family, no matter what.” -Reileen Kawahara
54. “Long live Quellcrist Falconer.” -Lila
Lila is an employee of Danica, who is actually revealed to be a Quellist. She assists Tak and Quellcrist’s escape from Danica, which eventually costs her life. Her sacrifice is indicative of the political violence within Harlan’s World, as well as the importance of staying true to one’s beliefs.
55. “They say, ‘Storms make a tree’s roots grow deep’.” -Quellcrist Falconer
56. “He never forgave me for abandoning the soldier he raised me to be. Or finding something better.” -Takeshi Kovacs
57. “Fear holds you back. It keeps you from seeing the world as it is.” -Danica Harlan
58. “Fame is a fool’s idea of glory. I prefer to simply succeed.” -Jaeger
59. “His name lives, as does his legend.” -Tanaseda Hideki
60. “I have no fear of pain. Only the fear of its result… of terror.” -Edgar Poe
61. “A Dig is nothing without a dig.” -Dig 301
62. “I’ve had enough of fathers.” -Takeshi Kovacs
63. “You have a way with words, Mr. Poe.” -Quellcrist Falconer
64. “It’s like missing land when you swim out too far into the sea.” -Quellcrist Falconer
Possessed by an unknown force, Quell is stripped from part of her memories. When Poe asks what it feels like to not know herself, Quell describes it as being cast away at sea.
65. “Some debts must be paid in kind. Blood for blood.” -Tanaseda Hideki
66. “Immortality means an eternity of living with what we’ve done.” -Tanaseda Hideki
67. “That in time, even love turns to dust.” -Tanaseda Hideki
68. “It’s a pit of vipers.” -Danica Harlan
69. “I saw her blood. It was as red as mine.” -Lila
Jaeger tortures Lila for information, demanding to know why she helped Quell and Tak escape. She replies that they share the same organic blood in their veins.
70. “Of all the wild beauty, distant stars, I will miss you most.” -Edgar Poe
Poe prepares for his reboot and says farewell to his memory of Lizzie.
71. “I’m an archivist. And some things, some people, are worst preserving.” -Dig 301
72. “So let us always remember, it’s the difficult choices, made against the steepest of odds, that yield the greatest triumph.” -Danica Harlan
73. “You could spend your life on the living or cash out the dead.”
74. “You can’t save humans from themselves.” -Dig 301
75. “Only those free from flesh and pure in spirit may find their way through the maze unscathed.” -AI
Poe finds his way to a heaven-like VR. To speak to its creator, he must make it through a maze.
76. “The fruit of the tree belongs to the tree.” -Takeshi Kovacs
77. “To the mind that is still, the universe surrenders.” -Takeshi Kovacs
78. “I don’t give up on my family.” -Trepp
79. “Reality is just an agreed-upon illusion.” -Jack Soul Brasil
80. “If it is lost, it can be restored.” -Lizzie Elliot
81. “What’s better? To be sane or to be happy?” -Lizzie Elliot
82. “You finally see me.” -Quellcrist Falconer
83. “Are you so far gone you don’t recognize yourself?” -Takeshi Kovacs
84. “I never knew which was worse, losing myself in the dark, or the pain that came with the light.” -Quellcrist Falconer
85. “The way you suffered allowed you to see the suffering around you.” -Quellcrist Falconer
86. “If it’s obvious, no one looks close.” -Quellcrist Falconer
87. “You are Takeshi Kovacs, but you’re not my Takeshi Kovacs.” -Quellcrist Falconer
88. “In a harsh environment, it becomes dust. But with a drop of water, it grows back a hundredfold.” -Quellcrist Falconer
Quell explains the meanings of perseverance and strength behind her namesake. Though her birth name is Nadia Makita, she has adopted a new one to protect and better reflect her cause.
89. “Children should not be used as instruments of war.” -Quellcrist Falconer
90. “It is the impractical things in this tumultuous hellscape of a world that matter most.” -Edgar Poe
91. “A book, a name, chicken soup. They help us remember that, even in our darkest hour, life is still to be savored.” -Edgar Poe
92. “Children light the future. Without them, everything is dark.” -Quellcrist Falconer
93. “He became his own man.” -Jaegar
94. “The truth lies beneath the skin.” -Tanaseda Hideki
95. “It’s both of us. We are the problem.” -Quellcrist Falconer
96. “The sky is literally about to fall. And I’ve got nothing left to lose.” -Takeshi Kovacs
97. “All these years, I’ve clung to memories even when they’ve brought pain, peril upon myself and others.” -Edgar Poe
98. “Time is what’s thwarted me.” -Edgar Poe
99. “We’re all broken, Poe. There’s nothing more human than that.” -Takeshi Kovacs
100. “I will not squander what little time I have left. And as your friend, I entreat you to not squander yours.” -Edgar Poe
101. “I’m short-sighted when it comes to you. But you, you see it all.” -Takeshi Kovacs
102. “I’ve trained myself to see every detail but, somehow, I never see you coming.” -Quellcrist Falconer
103. “Life has to have limits or we’re not human anymore.” -Quellcrist Falconer
104. “We are more than the sum of our intentions.” -Quellcrist Falconer
105. “I wish you loved me enough to live.” -Takeshi Kovacs
When Takeshi realizes Quell’s plan to sacrifice herself for the greater good, he is heartbroken but understanding.
106. “But I believe you have a difference to make. We all do.” -Takeshi Kovacs
107. “Take what is offered. Let it be enough.” -Quellcrist Falconer
108. “Survive.” -Takeshi Kovacs
The current Takeshi delivers this emotionally charged line in his final scene. Deciding to sacrifice himself for mankind’s future, which will result in irreparable damage to his stack, Tak implores Quell to keep living and fighting for her cause. This is both a tragic and potent conclusion for the two’s relationship, as in discovering their greater purpose, Tak and Quell must also lose each other.
109. “They say hope begins in the dark.” – Dig 301
110. “Second chances are earned in the choices we make. In what we choose to forget, and in what we forgive.” -Dig 301
111. “Without death, we can’t know what a life is worth.” -Quellcrist Falconer
There are many more golden quotes from Altered Carbon’s Season 2, but these are our favorites!
For the scoop on more sci-fi/fantasy show quotes, check out these articles:
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