Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty as Blanche and Sophia in 'The Golden Girls'

Sophia Petrillo’s Best Insults and Comebacks in ‘The Golden Girls’

Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) epitomized a comeback queen in The Golden Girls. With a tongue that wouldn’t quit and a no-filter approach to life, she said whatever thought came prancing through her mind. Whether it be sarcastic or snide, humorous or hurtful (or both), she dished disparaging dialogue with a straight-faced expression and a whole lot of shade. She boasted some of the show’s best zingers — characterized by punchiness, brevity, and impeccable timing. The feisty. The fearless. The blunt. The bold. The wise. The wicked. The Sophia Petrillo remains a beloved force from The Golden Girls to this day. So, let’s break down Sophia’s best insults and comebacks. 

“Thank you, you bed-hopping relic.”

Sophia explains to Blanche that her tendency to insult the fashion-forward Southern gal is a defense mechanism — to “hide [her] feelings when [she’s] deeply upset” — and Blanche accepts the rationale. Blanche notes that she won’t take it personally then, to which Sophia replies with this pithy insult. Sophia often slut-shamed Blanche, finding any opportunity she could to chastise the sexually liberated woman. While we don’t approve of that, we can’t help but relish in the whip-smart commentary. 

“A little.” 

Sophia notes that she always knew Dorothy would be “special,” to which Dorothy replies, “And I didn’t disappoint you?” And without a moment’s hesitation — without allowing any saccharine sentiment to sink into the atmosphere — Sophia replies “A little.” Sophia brings a bit of levity into the hospital-set episode, but this moment also shows how much her candor is part of her charm. Dorothy knows her mother loves her, and this cantankerous disposition is just part of who Sophia is. 

“I can’t believe these dumb cops would think anyone would pay money to sleep with you.”  

After Blanche, Dorothy, and Rose are wrongfully arrested for prostitution, Sophia comes to bail them out. While many mothers would be distraught — struck with concern and compassion — to see their daughter behind bars, Sophia is simply dumbfounded. Prostitution? These three old geezers? Get out of town. 

“Jealousy is a very ugly thing, Dorothy, and so are you in anything backless.”

Sophia loved her daughter very much, and she was very aware of her best qualities — her intelligence, her sense of humor, and her concern for others. However, she knew she wasn’t the prettiest girl at the ball, and she had no hesitation in communicating such. Dorothy was a tall woman with a wide-shouldered frame, and the show made many jokes about this. (Too many if you ask us). However, Sophia’s delivery often retained a splash of flippant mockery, which worked to lessen the blow. It didn’t feel as harsh slipping from her wrinkled lips. 

“Open to everyone day or night.”

Yet another attack at Blanche, this one followed Blanche’s comment that she treats her body like a temple. Need we say more?  While Blanche may have been selective when it came to her suitors — handsome and in good financial standing — Sophia merely saw Blanche as a past-her-prime floozy (and she let this be known on several occasions). 

“You’re only gonna sit in an inch of water?”

In one memorable episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche and Sophia are dating the same man — and they don’t exactly handle this with decorum and maturity. On Sophia’s night out with the gentleman, Blanche emerges from her bedroom in a saucy nightgown to take his attention off of Sophia. She notes that she will retire to her bedroom where she will bathe with just enough water in the tub to cover her perky bosom. Sophia immediately dishes out this zinger, implying that perky is antithetical to the droop she supposes is going on upstairs. Sophia didn’t need any cause to dish a wisecrack in this series, but when her comments were comebacks rather than unmotivated burns, they always put her competitors to shame. 

“I think there’s a connection between your brain and wallpaper paste.”

Poor Rose. She never was the sharpest tool in the shed. She was filled to the brim with compassion and morality, but executing her selfless desires was not her strongest suit. She decides to prepare yolkless omelets to reduce the group’s cholesterol and notes that she’s saving the yolks for the homeless.  Sophia lets her know that the homeless population will definitely reduce as a result, for she will kill them. She goes on to make this comment, for insulting Rose’s intelligence is just too easy. The opportunities are always there, and Sophia isn’t one to miss a beat or sacrifice a burn. 

“You’d kill your sister over a pamphlet?” 

After Blanche’s sister writes a novel that describes Blanche’s various sexual escapades in saucy detail, Dorothy notes that she would kill her sister Gloria if she ever did such a thing. Sophia, once again, with no time to spare, drops this comment. This one is top-tier because it both reflects the ornery quality inherent to Sophia and works to note Sophia’s dissatisfaction with her daughter’s love life. Dorothy can never seem to get a date, and Sophia is hyperaware of that fact. 

“Never stopped you from wearing it on your head.”

This one is directed at Dorothy’s ex-husband Stan, who is known to wear an unconvincing toupe on his head. While at a baseball game, Stan notes that America’s favorite pastime should be played on real grass. He hates artificial turf. Sophia then hits him with this. Sophia will take any opportunity to insult Stan after what he did to her daughter, and we’re all for it. He wasn’t a great husband when they were together and then he cheated on her with a younger woman. If anyone deserves Sophia’s wrath — and all the crotchety character-building cracks — it is Stan.


About the author

Josh Lezmi

Josh is an entertainment writer and editor at Thought Catalog.