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Quotes: Burn Notice

Michael Westen (Narrator)

"Covert intelligence involves a lot of waiting around. Know what it's like being a spy? Like sitting in your dentist's reception area twenty-four hours a day. You read magazines, sip coffee, and every so often, someone tries to kill you."
— "Pilot"

"Thirty years of karate. Combat experience on five continents. A rating with every combat weapon that shoots a bullet or holds an edge. Still haven't found any defense against mom crying into my shirt."
— "Pilot"

"Sometimes the truth hurts. In these situations, I recommend lying."
— "Pilot"

"For a job like getting rid of the drug dealer next door, I'll take a hardware store over a gun any day. Guns make you stupid; better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart."
— "Pilot"

"Spend a few years as a covert operative and a sunny beach just looks like a vulnerable tactical position with no decent cover... I've never found a good way to hide a gun in a bathing suit."
— "Pilot"

"Whether you're a coke dealer, a thief, an arms dealer, or a spy, you need someone to clean your money. Which makes a good money launderer the closest thing you can get to a Yellow Pages for criminals. "
— "Pilot"

"I never run around in the bushes in a ski mask when I'm breaking in someplace. Somebody catches you, what are you gonna say? You want to look like a legitimate visitor until the very last minute. If you can't look legit, confused works almost as well. Maybe you get a soda from the fridge, or a yogurt. If you get caught, you just look confused and apologize like crazy for taking the yogurt - nothing could be more innocent... Cracking an old-school safe is pretty tough, but modern hi-tech security makes it much easier. Thing is, nobody wipes off a fingerprint scanner after they use it. So what's left on the scanner nine times out of ten is the fingerprint."
— "Pilot"

"When you work solo, it's about prepping the ground. Home-court advantage counts for a lot. You never know what's going to happen. You prepare for everything... Most bad guys expect you to just sit there and wait for them, like those are the rules or something."
— "Pilot"

"As a spy, it doesn't matter if you're helping rebel forces fight off a dictator, or giving combat tips to a third-grader. There's nothing like helping the little guy kick some bully's ass."
— "Pilot"

"A hitman is like a plumber, a dentist or a mechanic. Everybody is always looking for a good one."
— "Identity"

"Eavesdropping and fieldwork go hand-in-hand. You wanna know what your target is saying, what he's typing into his computer. But technology can't work miracles: bugs don't plant themselves. Fact is, even the fanciest equipment usually needs help from a good old-fashioned crowbar."
— "Identity"

"I don't like running from cops, but it has its advantages: it builds your credibility with a criminal when you flee a crime scene."
— "Identity"

"You can't choose your intelligence sources. Might be a heroin smuggler, a dictator... or your mom."
— "Identity"

"Often, the best way to get intel is to provoke action, set people in motion. Pros know better, but they usually have to work with a few amateurs, and they panic. So you beat the bushes a little and see what flies out. Once your frightened amateur leads you to the pros, the work begins."
— "Identity"

"There's a reason spies don't have a lot of parties. Everybody's got a history with everyone else"
— "Identity"

"A drug cartel is a business. If killing a witness to protect a valued employee from jail time is the best way to keep making money, they'll do that. If it looks like that employee is testifying to the FBI though, they're just as happy to leave the witness alone and take care of their problem another way."
— "Fight or Flight"

"Threaten any serious criminal organization and they're going to do one of two things: they'll send someone to make a deal... or they'll send someone to make a corpse. Either way you've got something to work with."
— "Fight or Flight"

"Basic rule of bodyguarding, never fight with the protectee around, mostly because if they catch a stray bullet, you're out of the job."
— "Fight or Flight"

"Asking my mom for anything is a lot like getting a favour from a Russian mob boss. He'll give you what you want with a smile, but believe me, you'll pay for it."
— "Fight or Flight"

"You ever meet someone and it just seems to click instantly? You like the same things, share the same opinions, it seems like you've known them all your life. It could be fate or it could be that you have a listening device planted under the dashboard of your car."
— "Family Business"

"As a rule, spies don't like dealing with cops. Covert ops are illegal by definition. If they were legal they wouldn't need to be covert."
— "Unpaid Debts"

"Being a spy, you have to get comfortable with the idea of people doing bad things for good reasons; doing good things for bad reasons. You do the best you can."
— "Broken Rules"

"The longer you run from the police, the more certain you are to get caught. There's a small window of time after a chase begins, before backup arrives, before helicopters are deployed. If you want any chance of getting away, you'd best use this time to find some place secluded... and bail out."
— "Broken Rules"

"In intelligence work, surveillance is called coverage. It's like basketball: you can run zone defense, or man to man. Man to man's risky. Follow someone too long, they're going to get suspicious. Zone is usually the way to go. Stay put, and let targets come to you; less obvious, easier on the feet, and you can catch up on your celebrity gossip."
— "Broken Rules"

"Explaining the rules of covert ops is always a challenge. It's a world where good guys look like bad guys, and two wrongs do, in fact, make a right."
— "Broken Rules"

"Piss off a criminal organization and you could end up dead... But, if they don't kill you, they've got plans for you."
— "Broken Rules"

"There's no substitute for improvisation. Even the best plans can't anticipate everything. You'd better be able to roll with the punches."
— "Broken Rules"

"In any new job there's always friction with your co-workers. They're wondering if the boss likes the new guy better, if he's going to make them look bad. In some jobs, that could get you a dark look in the break room; in other jobs, that could get you a bullet, in the back of the head."
— "Broken Rules"

"In any kind of covert, intelligence operation, it's important to be careful of what you wish for. The information that you fight so hard to get, may be everything you wished for, or it may just make your life more complicated."
— "Broken Rules"

"Clandestine meetings are never fun to arrange. It's a big part of the job for a covert operative, but it's never pleasant... It's not so much the fear of death that bothers you, it's driving to the meet with a bag over your head. Sometimes they wash the bag, sometimes they don't."
— "Wanted Man"

"The thing about security is, that the very things that protect you, can be turned against you, by someone who knows what he's doing. It's tough to compromise a well thought out security system, but making someone think you can compromise it, well, that's much easier."
— "Wanted Man"

"Deliver some vague threats, and a few hundred bucks to a security guard, if he's honest, he'll tell his boss, who then wonders who wasn't so honest. For the cost of a nice dinner, you can get a whole security team canned."
— "Wanted Man"

"One of the dangers of any kind of psychological warfare, is it can be too effective, and send the target into a paranoid tail-spin. That paranoia can be useful... or deadly."
— "Wanted Man"

"The key to good security, is good systems, consistency. But those very systems make you predictable. Where will you take your valuables? A bank you trust. How are you going to get there? With armed men in a big SUV. When will you go? When the bank is least crowded. All good procedure; all one hundred percent predictable."
— "Wanted Man"

"If you know someone's going to be at a bank at a particular time, it's not hard to make it look like they're robbing the bank. Shoot out a few video security cameras. Block off the street with a stolen car, like they're preparing an escape route. Fire up a spark-gap transmitter to kill the security radios at the bank, and they'll really look like they know what they're doing."
— "Wanted Man"

"Even the most careful spy leaves a trail that could get them burned. A patriot making illicit deals for his government looks a lot like a traitor, making black-market sales for his wallet. Somebody upstairs gets the wrong idea, and suddenly you're burned, and out of a job."
— "Wanted Man"

"A good cover identity is a team effort. If you want to meet someone, it's a good idea to play a little hard to get. Put people between yourself and the target. Make them come to you"
— "Wanted Man"

"Just because someone believes you are who you say you are, doesn't mean he'll do what you want him to do."
— "Wanted Man"

"Running a double agent is a relationship; there's a give and take. Mostly take, but sometimes you have to give."
— "Hard Bargain"

"A kidnapping is a business deal. The bad guys have negotiating power since they're selling the life of a loved one. But then again, they have a market of one, so they *have* to work with you."
— "Hard Bargain"

"The thing about doubling anyone is that the more they do for you, the deeper they get. The deeper they get, the more you can make them do. Great if you're running them, but hard on the source. The suicide rate is - above average."
— "Hard Bargain"

"There's no way to anticipate every danger; you need a backup plan for when things go wrong. That's why home-court advantage is so important."
— "Hard Bargain"

"Rescuing a hostage isn't about battering rams and guns. Charge through a door with a gun, and chances are the person you're trying to save, will be the first person lying on the floor dying of acute lead posioning. So you come up with alternatives. Ingredients from the local pharmacy, mixed with aluminum foil, powdered in a coffee grinder, will make a serviceable flash grenade that'll stun anyone for a good twenty feet. Thermite is another handy tool; with a surface temperature of a thousand degrees, it's used to weld together railroad ties. It will make pretty short work of most locks, too."
— "Hard Bargain"

"If you can't get through a door without attracting attention, the next best thing is to attract a lot of attention. Once everyone is looking at the door wondering what's going on, you can pop in a flash grenade and they won't see anything for a while."
— "Hard Bargain"

"The longer you've been in the game, the more you have to be careful about underestimating an opponent. Say you don't think much of bureaucrats, don't feel they're worth your time or attention. Then a bureaucrat is the perfect person to send to kill you."
— "Hard Bargain"

"It's always easier to turn someone who works for a criminal gang into a double agent. The more secretive and ruthless their side is, the better. You work on their fear that any hint of disloyalty, will get them killed by their own people."
— "Hard Bargain"

"Once a kidnapper knows you're on to him, he'll try to contact his partners, to have the hostage killed. At that point, you have a choice: you can start choosing wreaths for the hostage's funeral, or take a hostage of your own."
— "Hard Bargain"

"Work around spies for a while, and you learn to be careful when it looks like you're getting what you want. You tend to let your guard down - get careless. Calling the cops on someone can teach you a lot: a foreign agent will run, so might an armed assassin. A bureaucrat's gonna... act like a bureaucrat."
— "Hard Bargain"

"Remove the trigger bar spring from a SIG-Sauer P228, and you've got a 9mm semi-automatic door stop."
— "False Flag"

"Corporations need spies just like governments do. Of course they're not called spies, they're called security consultants. They are basically mercenaries with nice suits."
— "False Flag"

"One of the things you learn in training is to avoid situations that cut too close. If you had a rough childhood, a situation with an abusive father and a vulnerable kid is gonna make you angry. That could be motivating. But it can also be dangerous."
— "False Flag"

"Just because there are no windows or doors doesn't mean there are no exits. The thing to look for is an air conditioner unit, that's where the wall is weakest. Also people watch doors, they don't watch air conditioners."
— "False Flag"

"It's impossible to stop a a good assassin from finding an opening, and taking the shot. The best you can do is to control where the best opening is, and sometimes, that's enough."
— "False Flag"

"A basic rule of covert ops, is let someone else do your dirty work. Let someone else find the guy you want to kill. It's a great technique, as long as you're not - the someone else."
— "False Flag"

"Assassination is one percent shooting, ninety-nine percent preparation: anticipating moves, devising approaches, recruiting sources, finding the perfect opportunity so the bullet's almost an after-thought. Usually that's when a target's on the move, when there are too many variables to control them all... There are ways to lessen the risk: an armed escort, taking an unpredictable route to your destination, having back-up in a trail car. But ultimately, as long as the assassin knows where you're going, they have the upper hand."
— "False Flag"

"Facts are the hallmark of a good false identity. It's harder to create history, than it is to alter it. Plus, the more truth to your lie, the easier it is to remember."
— "False Flag"

"A fake identity is known in the spy trade as a "false flag". Used to be you could make your own documents with a printer and a laminater. These days though, ID's have magnetic strips, holograms, and infrared water marks. You need a pro."
— "False Flag"

"Shoot a propane tank and you'll just get a big cloud of cold gas. You need an open flame, and real good aim."
— "False Flag"

"For a spy, there's nothing worse than being left out in the cold. Every spy builds enemies who would love nothing more than to take them out. When you're out in the cold, on your own with no protection, sometimes the only thing you can do is put your head down...and swim for shore."
— "Lesser Evil"

"A good spy knows when to run, and when to surrender. Sometimes it's best to remember that it's a lot easier to dodge questions than it is to dodge bullets."
— Season 3 Opening

"You usually don't want emotions mixing with your cover IDs. Spies who stay dispassionate stay alive. But sometimes, emotions can only help your cover. If, for example, you need to establish yourself quickly as an angry client, it helps to punch the guy. So much the better if he's making you mad."
— "A Shot In The Dark"

Michael Westen (Character)

"All right. They key to fighting a group is taking out its leader. Take out its leader, oh, they'll all leave you alone. It's bully psychology. Works with third-world military units as well. When I was in Afghanistan - never mind that."
— "Pilot"

Madeleine: Oh don't give me that! You don't have to run around blowing things up! You were offered a job and you dragged me into it.
Michael: YOU THINK I DO THIS FOR THE MONEY?!
Madeleine: Yes! [beat] [in tears] I don't know why you do it.
Michael: People need me. So I have to.
—"A Dark Road"

Sam Axe

"Hey gang! We've got firearms, and we've got snacks."
—"Shot in the Dark"

"Mixing romance and work is a bad idea. I mean Veronica, just the other day, she asked me if bullets came in different sizes. Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever heard?"
— "Wanted Man"

Fiona Glenanne

"Shall we shoot them?"
Opening, Seasons 1+

"Well, 'insane' is one of our specialties."
— "Blind Spot"

Dialog

Mike: Revenge is a waste of time.
Fiona: Well, so is watching TV and eating candy — you do it because it feels good.
— "Hot Spot"

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