The Prisoner: Wikis


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The Prisoner
Prisoner sm.jpg
The Prisoner intertitle
Format Spy fiction, Science fiction, Allegory
Created by Patrick McGoohan
George Markstein
Starring Patrick McGoohan
Theme music composer Ron Grainer
Composer(s) Albert Elms
Country of origin United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 17 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Patrick McGoohan
Producer(s) David Tomblin
Running time approx. 48 minutes
Original channel ITV
Audio format Monaural
Original run 29 September 1967 – 1 February 1968

The Prisoner is a 17-episode British television series first broadcast in the UK from 29 September 1967 to 1 February 1968.[1][2] Starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan, it combined spy fiction with elements of science fiction, allegory, and psychological drama.

The series follows a British former secret agent who is held prisoner in a mysterious seaside village where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. Although sold as a thriller in the mould of McGoohan's previous series, Danger Man (called Secret Agent in its U.S. release), the show's combination of 1960s countercultural themes and surreal setting had a far-reaching effect on science fiction/fantasy programming, and on popular culture in general.

A TV miniseries remake began airing on the U.S. cable channel AMC on November 15, 2009.[3] Additionally, Christopher Nolan has been widely reported to be considering a film version.[4]


Origins and production

The show was co-created by Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein. Markstein, script editor of Danger Man, remembered that during World War II some people were incarcerated in a resort-like prison. A documented situation with some similarities was Operation Epsilon: German atomic scientists were detained post-war in relatively comfortable isolation in a mansion in England, while their conversations were recorded. Markstein suggested that the Danger Man lead, John Drake, could suddenly resign, and be kidnapped and sent to such a location. Markstein subsequently wrote a novel, The Cooler, in 1974 about such a prison for spies who had suffered mental breakdowns.

Panoramic view of the central piazza, Hotel Portmeirion

This idea was mirrored in an episode of Danger Man called "Colony Three"[5] in which Drake infiltrates a spy school in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The school, in the middle of nowhere, is set up to look like a normal English town in which pupils and instructors mix as in any other normal city, but the instructors are virtual prisoners with little hope of ever leaving.[6]

McGoohan grafted Markstein's suggestion on to material he had been developing since working on the original version of Danger Man in 1960. An episode, set partly in Italy, simulated that locale by shooting at a Welsh resort. The architecturally distinctive appearance of the place struck McGoohan, who felt that something should be done with the place, something significant, surreal, and allegorical. He spent his spare time during the next several years working up a format. Shortly after filming the fourth series of Danger Man in colour had begun, McGoohan told Lew Grade of ITC Entertainment that he intended to quit. Grade asked McGoohan if he would work on anything else for him, so McGoohan pitched the series, which Grade agreed to in a handshake deal.[7]

Grade bought the show and it was produced for broadcast on ITV and overseas. McGoohan wrote a forty-page show Bible,[8] and wrote and directed several episodes, often under pseudonyms.[9] The exteriors for the series were filmed primarily on the grounds of the Hotel Portmeirion in Penrhyndeudraeth, North Wales, which was the resort used in Danger Man that had partially inspired the program.

At the request of Portmeirion's designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the location of the series was not disclosed until the credits at the end of the last episode.[10]

There is debate as to whether the series ended by mutual agreement or cancellation.[11]

Opening and closing sequences

The opening and closing sequences of The Prisoner have become significantly iconic. Cited as "one of the great set-ups of genre drama",[12] the opening sequence establishes the Orwellian and postmodern themes of the series;[13] its high production values have led the opening sequence to be described as more like film than television.[14]


The series follows an unnamed British agent who abruptly resigns his job, and then finds himself held captive in a mysterious seaside "village" that is isolated from the mainland by mountains and sea. The Village is further secured by numerous monitoring systems and security forces, including a mysterious device called Rover that captures those who attempt escape.

The agent encounters the Village's population, hundreds of people from all walks of life and cultures, all seeming to be tranquilly living out their lives. As they do not use names, they have each been assigned a number. The agent is told by the Village's chief administrator "Number Two", that he is "Number Six", and they are seeking "information" as to why he resigned; the task of doing this is carried by the ever-changing "Number Two", acting as supposed proxy to the unseen "Number One". Though, as the series unfolds, the audience learns that the Village authorities have other interests in Number Six aside from the knowledge he possesses. Interests that often spares Number Six from the more destructive information gathering techniques employed by the Village authorities upon other inmates.

Number Six, distrusting of anyone involved with the Village, refuses to co-operate or provide answers. Alone, he struggles with multiple goals: determine for which side the Village works, remain defiant to its imposed authority, concoct his own plans for escape, learn all he can about the Village and subvert its operation. Some of his schemes, while not resulting in an escape, do lead to the dismissal of an incumbent Number Two on two occasions. By the end of the series the administration, becoming desperate for Number Six's knowledge and fearful of his growing influence in the Village, take drastic measures that threaten the lives of Number Six, Number Two, and the rest of the Village.

The series features striking and often surreal storylines, and themes include hypnosis, hallucinogenic drug experiences, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination. A major theme of the show is individualism versus collectivism.

Cast and crew

Actors who played the same role in more than one episode are:


In other media

There have been several spin-offs of The Prisoner in other media, including novels, comicbooks, games and several attempts to make a movie.


  • Six into One: The Prisoner File, 1984, a 45-minute docudrama presented by Channel 4 after the series rerun. With its central premise to establish a reason why Number 6 resigned, the presentation anchored around a new Number 2 communicating with staff (and Number 1). It reviewed scenes from Danger Man and The Prisoner, incorporated interviews with cast members (including McGoohan) and fans, and addressed the political environment giving rise to the series and McGoohan's heavy workload.
  • The Prisoner Video Companion, 1990: a 48-minute American production with clips, including a few from Danger Man, and voice-over narration discussing origins, interpretations, meaning, symbolism, etc., in a format modelled on the 1988 Warner book, The Official Prisoner Companion by Matthew White and Jaffer Ali.[15] It was released to DVD in the early 2000s as a bonus feature with A&E's release of The Prisoner series. MPI also issued The Best of The Prisoner, a video of series excerpts.
  • American public television station KTEH (San Jose, California), re-ran the series in the early 1990s accompanied by commentary from critic Scott Apel before and after each episode. Clips of some of Apel's commentaries may be found on YouTube.
  • Don't Knock Yourself Out, 2007: a feature-length documentary(run time: 1 hour 35 minutes) issued as part of Network's official 40th Anniversary DVD set, featuring interviews with around 25 cast and crew members. The documentary received a separate DVD release, featuring an extended cut, in November 2007 accompanied by a featurette, "Make Sure It Fits", regarding Eric Mival's music editing for the series.
  • Warner Troyer did commentary after each episode during The Prisoner's run on TVO


A remake, in the works since 2005,[16] premiered on November 15, 2009 as a miniseries on AMC, in cooperation with British broadcaster ITV.[17][18][19] On 25 April 2008, ITV announced that a new series of The Prisoner would go into production, and in June 2008, that American actor James Caviezel will star in the role of Number 6, with Ian McKellen taking on the role of Number 2 in all six episodes.[20][21][22] As of May 2009 the shooting for the new series was completed with significant plot changes from the original television storyline. The new Village is located in a desert tropical area instead of Wales.


The first home video editions of The Prisoner appeared in the 1980s. In North America, MPI Home Video released a series of 20 VHS tapes covering the series: one for each of the 17 episodes and three more containing an alternate version of "The Chimes of Big Ben", a documentary and a "best of" compilation respectively. In the 1990s the first DVD release of the series occurred in the UK, with A&E Home Video releasing the series in 4-episode sets and a full 10-disc "megabox" edition in the early 2000s; A&E subsequently reissued the megabox in a 40th anniversary edition in 2007.

The Prisoner: The Complete Series was released on Blu-ray Disc in the United Kingdom on 28 September 2009,[23] following in North America on 27 October.[24] The episodes have been restored by Network DVD to create new high-definition masters,[25] of which standard-definition versions were used for The Prisoner: 40th Anniversary Special Edition DVD boxset released in 2007.[26] The US edition, once again by A&E Home Video, includes the first North American release of an alternate edit of "Arrival" (in high definition), as well as the alternate "Chimes of Big Ben" from the earlier DVD/VHS releases (in standard definition due to the degraded source material) and assorted documentaries and behind-the-scenes footage.

Awards and honours

  • The final episode, "Fall Out", received a Hugo Award nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1969, but lost out to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • In 2002, the series won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.
  • In the 30 May – 5 June 2004 issue of TV Guide magazine, The Prisoner was voted #7 of the 25 top cult shows ever.
  • In 2005, readers of SFX magazine awarded the series fifth place in a poll of British fantasy and science fiction television programs.
  • A 2006 survey of leading rock and film stars by Uncut magazine ranking films, books, music or TV shows that changed the world, placed The Prisoner at #10, the highest for a TV show.

In popular culture

The Prisoner is frequently referenced, parodied, and paid homage to in comics, movies and television shows.

See also



  1. ^ As noted in Andrew Pixley's 2007 The Prisoner - A Complete Production Guide book, the first UK premiere was 29 September 1967 on ATV Midlands and the last episode first aired aired on 1 February 1968 on Scottish Television.
  2. ^ The world broadcast premiere was on the CTV Television Network in Canada on 5 September 1967.Toronto Star, 5 September 1967, p. 22
  3. ^ AMC Originals - The Prisoner
  4. ^ Child, Ben (Thursday 12 February 2009). "Nolan signs to take Inception from script to screen". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ First aired in 1964: Cult TV by Jon E. Lewis and Penny Stempel, published by Pavilion Books Limited
  6. ^ overview of Danger Man episode "Colony Three"
  7. ^ Cult TV (UK): "An Interview with Patrick McGoohan", conducted by Warner Troyer, March 1977: "I'd made 54 of those [sic; there were thirty-nine half-hour episodes and forty-seven hour long segments of Danger Man] and I thought that was an adequate amount. So I went to the gentleman, Lew Grade, who was the financier, and said that I'd like to cease making Secret Agent and do something else. So he didn't like that idea. He'd prefer that I'd gone on forever doing it. But anyway, I said I was going to quit." "So I prepared it and went in to see Lew Grade. I had photographs of the Village… So I talked for ten minutes and he stopped me and said, 'I don't understand one word you're talking about, but how much is it going to be?'… I told him how much and he says, 'When can you start?' I said 'Monday, on scripts.' And he says, 'The money'll be in your company's account on Monday morning.'"
  8. ^ Cult TV (UK): "An Interview with Patrick McGoohan", conducted by Warner Troyer, March 1977: It included a "history of the Village, the sort of telephones they used, the sewerage system, what they ate, the transport, the boundaries, a description of the Village, every aspect of it…"
  9. ^ Specifically, McGoohan wrote "Free for All" as Paddy Fitz (Paddy being the Irish diminutive for Patrick and Fitzpatrick being his mother's maiden name) and directed "Many Happy Returns" and "A Change of Mind" as Joseph Serf. He wrote and directed the last two episodes — "Once Upon a Time" and "Fall Out" — and directed the aforementioned "Free for All" under his own name, though he had considered putting "Archibald Schwartz" on the script of "Once Upon a Time".
  10. ^
  11. ^ In a 1977 interview McGoohan said: "I thought the concept of the thing would sustain for only seven, but then Lew Grade wanted to make his sale to CBS, I believe, and he said he couldn't make a deal unless he had more, and he wanted 26, and I couldn't conceive of 26 stories, because it would be spreading it very thin, but we did manage, over a weekend, with my writers, to cook up ten more outlines, and eventually we did 17, but it should be seven…" According to The Prisoner: The Official Companion to the Classic TV Series by Robert Fairclough, the series was indeed cancelled, forcing McGoohan to write the concluding episode, "Fall Out", in only a few days. In the 1977 interview McGoohan contradicts this: "…it got very close to the last episode and I hadn't written it yet. And I had to sit down this terrible day and write the last episode…"
  12. ^ Mike Patterson. "The Prisoner - the classic British TV series". 
  13. ^ Sardar, Ziauddin (1998). Postmodernism and the other: the new imperialism of Western culture. London: Pluto Press. pp. 1–3. ISBN 9780745307497.,M1. 
  14. ^ Cole, Tom (2009-01-15). "Patrick McGoohan, TV's 'Prisoner' Number Six : NPR". Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  15. ^ It was released in 1990 by MPI Home Video, then the licensed label for both/all three series in the USA. The copyright notice (the only credit) is ascribed to Maljack Productions, apparently the real company behind the name MPI. Jackson v. MPI Home Video
  16. ^ It was announced in late 2005 that Granada would revive the series for Sky1 in 2007. BBC News: Remake for cult show The Prisoner Christopher Eccleston was initially rumoured to be considered for the title role, and it was reported that the series would be titled Number Six instead of The Prisoner.
  17. ^ In December 2006, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the American cable TV channel AMC was co-producing The Prisoner with Sky1, and that it would run at least six to eight episodes, beginning in January 2008 (both in the UK and USA).ICv2 News — AMC Remaking The Prisoner
  18. ^ In May 2007 it was reported that Sky One had pulled out of the re-make due to a disagreement with their AMC. In August 2007, Richard Woolfe, head of Sky One, stated: The Prisoner is not happening. It's a very quintessentially British drama and there were too many creative differences trying to share it with an American partner. I didn't want to be responsible for taking something that is quintessentially British and adapting it in a way that I didn't feel was reflective of the way people would remember it and the way people would want it to be. So we called time on that.Digital Spy: Q & A with Sky One head Richard Woolfe
  19. ^ In October 2007, British broadcaster ITV stepped in to replace Sky One as co-producer with AMC. ITV to step in and save Prisoner remake.
  20. ^ "Prisoner series set for remake". 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  21. ^ "Ian McKellan cast in The Prisoner". BBC. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  22. ^ "The Prisoner: McKellen and Caviezel Signed for 2009 Mini-Series". TV Series 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  23. ^ DVD Times: The Prisoner: The Complete Series
  24. ^ High-Def Digest: The Prisoner: The Complete Series
  25. ^ Network DVD: The Prisoner restoration screenshot comparisons
  26. ^ DVD Times: The Prisoner: 40th Anniversary Special Edition


  • White, Matthew; Jaffer Ali (1988). The Official Prisoner Companion. New York, N.Y.: Warner Books Inc.. ISBN 9780446387446. 
  • Wesley Alan Britton, Spy television. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, Chapter 6,"The Cold War and Existential Fables: Danger Man, Secret Agent, and The Prisoner". ISBN 0275981630

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Where am I?

The Prisoner was a controversial 1967 UK television series about a man who, after resigning from a government agency, is kidnapped from his London home and awakes in a strange Village, where he is known only by the name Number Six.

I am not a number! I am a free man!


Season One


Number Six: Where am I?
Number Two: In the Village.
Number Six: What do you want?
Number Two: Information.
Number Six: Whose side are you on?
Number Two: That would be telling. We want information… information… in formation.
Number Six: You won't get it.
Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.
Number Six: Who are you?
Number Two: The new Number Two.
Number Six: Who is Number One?
Number Two: You are Number Six.
Number Six: I am not a number! I am a free man!
Number Two: [laughs]

The Arrival [1.01]

I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!
Number Six: I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!

Number Two: Quite a beautiful place, really, isn't it? Almost like a world on its own.
Number Six: I shall miss it when I'm gone.
Number Two: Oh, it will grow on you.

The Admiral: A game of chess, my dear.
The Woman: I don't play.
The Admiral: You should learn. We're all pawns, my dear.

Sign: Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself.

Number Six: I am not a number. I am a person.
New Number Two: Six of one, half dozen of another.

Free For All [1.02]

Number Two: [on the phone] Any complaints?
Number Six: Yes. I'd like to mind my own business.
Number Two: So do we. Do you fancy a chat?
Number Six: The mountain can come to Mohammad!
Number Two: Mohammad?
Number Six: Everest I presume.
Number Two: I've never have had a head for heights.
Number Six: Where's Number One?
Number Two: At the summit.
Number Six: Play it according to Hoyle?
Number Two: All cards on the table. You may rely on that.
Number Six: Whose move?
Number Two: Yours only. Confide, and we concede.

Number Six: Elections? In this place?
Number Two: Of course--we make our choice every 12 months. Every citizen has a choice. Are you going to run?
Number Six: Like blazes, the first chance I get.
Number Two: I meant run for office.
Number Six: Whose?
Number Two: Mine, for instance.
Number Six: You have a very delicate sense of humour.
Number Two: Naturally. Humour is the very essence of a democratic society.

Labour Exchange Manager: "Gave up sugar four years and three months ago on medical advice." That shows you're afraid.
Number Six: What?
Labour Exchange Manager: You're afraid of death.
Number Six: I'm afraid of nothing.
Labour Exchange Manager: You're afraid of yourself. You are aware of that? Good, you are honest. That is of use here. Honesty attracts confidence and confidences are the core of our business.

Reporter: How will you handle your campaign?
Number Six: No comment.
Reporter: "Intends to fight for freedom at all costs."
Photographer: Smile
Reporter: How about your internal policy?
Number Six: No comment.
Reporter: "Will tighten up on Village security."
Photographer: Smile!
Reporter: What about your external policy?
Number Six: No comment.
Reporter: "Our exports will operate in every corner of the globe." How do you feel about life and death?
Number Six: Mind your own business.
Reporter: "No comment."

Number Six: There are those who come in here and deny that we can supply every conceivable civilised amenity within our boundaries. You can enjoy yourselves and you will. You can partake of the most hazardous sports and you will. The price is cheap. All you have to do in exchange is give us information. You are then eligible for promotion to other and perhaps more attractive spheres. Where do you desire to go? What has been your dream? I can supply it. Winter, spring, summer or fall--they can all be yours at any time. Apply to me and it will be easier and better.

Dance of the Dead [1.03]

Number Six: I have a choice?
Number Two: Of course. You can do as you want.
Number Six: As long as it's what you want.
Number Two: As long as it is what the majority wants. We're democratic. In some ways.

Number Two: I'm sad, Number Six. I thought you were beginning to...
Number Six: Give in?
Number Two: Be happy. Everything you want is here.
Number Six: Everything's elsewhere.

Number Two: What were you looking at?
Number Six: A light.
Number Two: A star.
Number Six: A boat.
Number Two: An insect.
Number Six: A plane.
Number Two: A flying fish.
Number Six: Somebody who belongs to my world.
Number Two: This is your world. I am your world. If you insist on living a dream you may be taken for mad.
Number Six: I like my dream.
Number Two: Then you are mad.

Number Two: Our legal system is unusual.
Number Six: No jury.
Number Two: Three judges decide here.
Number Six: As in the French Revolution.
Number Two: They got through the dead wood, didn't they?

The Observer: It's the rules. Of the people, by the people, for the people.
Number Six: It takes on a new meaning.
The Observer: You're a wicked man.
Number Six: Wicked?
The Observer: You have no values.
Number Six: Different values.
The Observer: You won't be helped.
Number Six: Destroyed.
The Observer: You want to spoil things.
Number Six: I won't be a goldfish in a bowl.

Checkmate [1.04]

Number Six: [referring to the chess game] Why do you use people?
Man With Stick: Some psychiatrists say it satisfies the desire for power. The only opportunity one gets here.
Number Six: That depends what side you're on.
Man With Stick: I'm on my side.
Number Six: Aren't we all?
Man With Stick: You must be new here. In time, most of us join the enemy... against ourselves.

Queen: Oh, that was a good move, wasn't it?
Number Six: I know a better one.
Queen: Oh?
Number Six: Away from this place.
Queen: That's impossible.
Number Six: For chessmen, not for me.

Number Six: Don't tell me you care?
Number Two: Well, of course. We want you to be happy.
Number Six: Fine. Just, umm... give me a one-way ticket home.
Number Two: Won't you ever give up?
Number Six: What do you think?

Psychiatrist: [about Number Six] Is he in for treatment?
Number Two: Not yet.
Psychiatrist: Pity... interesting subject. I should like to know his breaking point.
Number Six: Well, you could make that your life's ambition.

Queen: [crying] How can you doubt me?
Number Six: It's easy and I'm waterproof; a little drizzle won't wash away my doubt. So don't try.
Queen: I only want to be near you.
Number Six: Everybody's near in this place. Far too near.
Queen: Do you think they'll ever release us?
Number Six: Let me know. I shan't be around.

The Chimes of Big Ben [1.05]

Number Two: [about Number Six] He can make even the act of putting on his dressing gown appear as a gesture of defiance.
Number Two's Assistant: There are methods we haven't used yet, of course.
Number Two: I want him with a whole heart, body and soul.
Number Two's Assistant: He'll crack.
Number Two: Perhaps--one tiny piece at a time. I don't want a man of fragments. Fascinating.
Number Two's Assistant: He doesn't even bend a little.
Number Two: That's why he'll break. He only needs one small thing. If he will answer one simple question, the rest will follow: why did he resign?

Number Two: [offering coffee] I can never remember. One lump or two?
Number Six: It's in the file.
Number Two: Yes, as a matter of fact, yes. But it would save time if you just answered.
Number Six: Why? Running out of time?
Number Two: "Does not take sugar." Frightened of putting on weight?
Number Six: No. Nor of being reduced.
Number Two: Oh, that's excellent. I am glad you are here. You really are a model.
Number Six: But I don't run on clockwork.
Number Two: You will, my dear chap. You will.

Number Two: Do you still think you can escape, Number Six?
Number Six: I'm going to do better than that.
Number Two: Oh?
Number Six: Going to escape, come back.
Number Two: Come back?
Number Six: Escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and you with it.

[Number Two shouts to Number Six as he walks out of his office]
Number Two: Don't worry, Number Six. You'll be cured. I'll see to it. No more nightmares. If you have so much as a bad dream, you will come… whimpering… to tell it to me!
[The door closes behind Number Six as he leaves]
Number Two: Whimpering!

Number Six: Has it ever occurred to you that you are just as much a prisoner as I am?
Number Two: Oh my dear chap, of course--I know too much. We're both lifers. Number Two: I am definitely an optimist. That's why it doesn't matter "who" Number One is. It doesn't matter which "side" runs the Village.
Number Six: It's run by one side or the other.
Number Two: Oh certainly, but both sides are becoming identical. What in fact has been created is an international community--perfect blueprint for world order. When the sides facing each other suddenly realize that they're looking into a mirror, they will see that "this" is the pattern for the future.
Number Six: The whole Earth as the Village?
Number Two: That is my hope. What's yours?
Number Six: I'd like to be the first man on the moon.

A. B. and C. [1.06]

Number Two: [viewing Number Six's thoughts] Extraordinary. How very single-minded.
Number Fourteen: He's not conventional.
Number Two: I sometimes think he's not human.

"A": News of old friends travels quickly.
Number Six: In a few hours.
"A": To you and to me, news is like air. We breathe it deeply. We draw it from far and wide.
Number Six: If it's interesting.
"A": What are you going to do with your freedom?
Number Six: Go fishing.
"A": Perhaps you're fishing now.

Number Two: What's that Number Six doing? Always walking. Irritating man. Doesn't he ever get tired?!

Engadine: And remember.. you're mine.
Number Six: Really?
Engadine: Be horrible to other women.
Number Six: I promise.
Engadine: Oh, thank you.

The General [1.07]

Number Twelve: You don't believe it. A university-level degree in three minutes.
Number Six: It's improbable.
Number Twelve: But not impossible.
Number Six: Nothing's impossible in this place.

Number Twelve: You'll find the Professor most interesting.
Number Six: Would I?
Number Twelve: With an extraordinary range of knowledge.
Number Six: The only subject I'm interested in is getting away from this place.
Number Twelve: Exactly.
Number Six: Who are you?
Number Twelve: A cog in the machine.

Number Twelve: Who do you trust, Number Six?
Number Six: I trust me.
Number Twelve: Join the club.

Number Twelve: I'll fix it, Number Six, so that you become aware that deliberate destruction of official property is a most serious offense. I must recommend the the full penalty.
Number Six: Which is?
Number Twelve: It could be imprisonment, could be a fine.
Number Six: I'll take the fine.
Number Twelve: Yes, I thought you might.

Number Two: [after Number Six stumping the machine, causing it to self destruct] What was the question?
Number Six: It's insoluble, to man or machine.
Number Two: What was it?
Number Six: W - H - Y - Question mark.
Number Two: "Why?"
Number Six: "Why?"

The Schizoid Man [1.08]

Number Twelve: The trouble with science is that it can be perverted.

Number Twelve: You know what, why don't we settle this like gentlemen?
Number Six: You're claiming to be a gentleman too?
Number Twelve: Oh very good, very good indeed. That line is very worthy of me.

Number Twelve: [to Number Six] I take it I'm supposed to go all fuzzy round the edges and run off into the distance screaming "Who am I?"

Number Two: By the time we finish with him, he won't know whether he's Number Six or the cube root of infinity.

Number Six: [to Alison; about Number Twelve] I am the original, he is the economy pack.

Many Happy Returns [1.09]

The Colonel: You're a stubborn fellow, Number Six.
Number Six: James, you call me that once again and you're liable for a bout in hospital.

Thorpe: [to Number Six] You resign. You disappear. You return. You spin a yarn that Hans Christian Andersen would reject as a fairy tale.

Thorpe: And they're all... numbers? No names. No names at all?
Number Six: Just numbers.
The Colonel: I see.
Number Six: Numbers in a village that is a complete unit of our own society. A place to put people who can't be kept around. People who know too much or too little. A place with many means of breaking a man.

Thorpe: [about Number Six] Interesting fellow.
The Colonel: He's an old, old, old friend. Who never gives up.

It's Your Funeral [1.10]

Number Six: Who are you?
Watchmaker's Daughter: I'm a number, just like you. Does it matter which?
Number Six: How'd you get in?
Watchmaker's Daughter: The door was open.
Number Six: Always is... to them, isn't it?
Watchmaker's Daughter: But I'm not one of them.
Number Six: No. What do you want?
Watchmaker's Daughter: Help.
Number Six: Go to the Town Hall. The Citizens' Council promises help and advice for everyone.
Watchmaker's Daughter: Their Citizen's Council.
Number Six: As far as I'm concerned, what's theirs is yours.
Watchmaker's Daughter: I am not one of them.
Number Six: No... no one is.

Computer Attendant: Good morning--I've brought you the activities prognosis you ordered.
New Number Two: Oh, good--how accurate are these? What is the percentage of right and wrong?
Computer Attendant: I'm afraid we don't know that.
New Number Two: Why not?
Computer Attendant: Well, twice we programmed our machines for a percentile appraisal of their own efficiencies. Each time they refused to give back the requested information.
New Number Two: Refused? How?
Computer Attendant: Simply by not returning the data to us.
New Number Two: They'll be wanting their own trade union next.

The Watchmaker: You refuse to understand. What I'm doing is for a principle. We are in this prison for life, all of us, but I have met no one here who has committed a crime. I protest in a manner they cannot ignore.
Number Six: Some other way, then--not by an act of murder.
The Watchmaker: Assassination.
Number Six: Call it what you like--the important matter is that the entire Village will be punished.
The Watchmaker: Maybe it is what they need to wake them up, to shake them out of their lethargy. To make them angry enough...
Number Six: That's assuming they survive the punishment!

Retiring Number Two: Tomorrow, after I've handed over office, I'm to be assassinated..
Number Six: For "assassinated," substitute "executed."
Retiring Number Two: Since it's arranged by my own people, you mean.
Number Six: You don't mind?
Retiring Number Two: Of course I mind. It's just that... well, I never thought it would happen to me.
Number Six: It never does--to anybody. But it can be prevented.
Retiring Number Two: Preventing is only postponing. You never understood us, Number Six. We never fail!

Retiring Number Two: The Seal is the ceremony.
Number Six: It's hollowed out, it's packed with explosives.
Retiring Number Two: And before I hand it over to my successor...
Number Six: It will be detonated by radio.
Retiring Number Two: I can think of better ways to die.
Number Six: And better causes to die for.

A Change of Mind [1.11]

Committee Member: It is the duty of this Committee to deal with complaints.
Number Six: Complaints?
Committee Member: Your complaints.
Number Six: Well done. I have several.

Number Two: Do carry on.
Number Six: No time for tea?
Number Two: No. Only your future.

First Member of Social Group: All right, say you're a poet and you were composing, and you failed to hear Number Ten's greeting.
Second Member of Social Group: Neglect of social principle.
Number Six: Poetry has a social value.
Second Member of Social Group: He's trying to divide us.
First Member of Social Group: His intentions are obvious. To stop us from helping this unfortunate girl.
Number Forty Two: You're trying to undermine my rehabilitation. Disrupt my social progress!
Number Six: Strange talk for a poet.
Second Member of Social Group: Reactionary!
First Member of Social Group: Rebel!
Number Forty Two: Disharmonious!

Number Two: There is a saying, "The slowest mule is nearest to the whip."
Number Six: And another. "He who digs a pit will one day lie in it." Or is Number Two above investigation?

Number Six: You still have a choice. You can still salvage your right to be individuals. Your rights to truth and free thought. Reject this false world of Number Two. Reject it. Now!

Hammer into Anvil [1.12]

Number Two: We have things to discuss.
Number Six: About the girl you murdered?
Number Two: Oh, never mind the girl. I want to talk about you.
Number Six: You're wasting your time. Others have tried.
Number Two: Amateurs.
Number Six: You're professional. A professional sadist?

Number Two: You are too strong. We'll see. "Du musst amboss oder hammer sein."
Number Six: "You must be anvil or hammer."
Number Two: I see you know your Goethe.
Number Six: And you see me as the anvil?
Number Two: Precisely. I am going to hammer you.

Sign in shop: Music makes for a quiet mind.

Sign in shop: Music begins where words leave off.

Number Two: You destroyed me.
Number Six: No.. you destroyed yourself. You destroyed yourself. A character flaw. You were afraid of your masters. A weak link in the chain of command waiting to be broken.
Number Two: Don't tell them... don't report me.
Number Six: I don't intend to. You are going to report yourself.
Number Two: [taking the phone] I have to report a breakdown.. in control. Number Two needs to be replaced. Yes, this is Number Two reporting.

Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling [1.13]

Number Two: [watching as Number Six paces his flat] What sort of opinion would you form of that fellow?
The Colonel: Anybody who spends his time doing that must be rather stupid.
Number Two: You couldn't be more wrong. Because he's our most interesting citizen from every point of view... particularly yours.

Number Six: You're still as pompous as ever... Danvers.
Danvers: Where did you get my name?
Number Six: Jonathan Peregrine Danvers. Born in Bootle. Took elocution lessons. Came to London, joined the civil service in 1948 as a junior clerk, but moved to this department sometime later. Mainly at the request of the typing pool. Am I going to see Sir Charles? Well? Or would you prefer me to go on. I'm sure these gentlemen would be most intrigued to hear of your little jaunt to Paris in March 1958. Let me see now, what was her name...

Seltzman: If you really are who you say you are, you would not have expected me to keep it, would you?
Number Six: No. It's a hopeless situation.
Seltzman: If I had kept it, I would have been very stupid. Silly.
Number Six: You've made your point. I accept it.
Seltzman: But you overlooked one thing. Sentimental people are sometimes stupid. Very stupid.

Seltzman: I will do it... on certain conditions.
Number Two: I'm sure they will be reasonable.
Seltzman: For once, I am dictating.
Number Two: Heil.

Living in Harmony [1.14]

Number Six: Harmony? Never heard of it.
Mexican Sam: Not many people have, señor. it's sort of… exclusive.
Number Six: So am I.

The Judge: You turned in your badge.
Number Six: And my gun.
The Judge: What were your reasons?
Number Six: My reasons.
The Judge: You've already taken a job. With who?
Number Six: [correcting] Whom with.

Number Twenty-Two: [to Number Six; her last words] I wish it had been real.

The Girl Who Was Death [1.15]

Sonia: [to Mr. X] You are a born survivor. I am a born killer. We were made for each other.

Sonia: [to Mr. X] I love you madly. I love the way the hair curls on the back of your neck. You'll make a beautiful corpse. I'm going to do you the honour of letting you die superbly.

Sonia: Mountaineering rope. It would hold an elephant.
Mr. X: I must remember that next time I go climbing with one.

Sonia: You see, when the rocket reaches London, you will be the first to know! Won't that be exciting?!?
Mr. X: I'll just go to pieces.

Number Two: [about Number Six] That one wouldn't drop his guard with his own grandmother!

Once Upon a Time [1.16]

Number Two: [on the phone] Why do you care?
Number Six: I know your voice.
Number Two: I have been here before. Why do you care?
Number Six: You'll never know.

Number Six: How?
Umbrella Man: Don't do that.
Number Six: What?
Umbrella Man: Inquire.
Number Six: What's your number? Your number--what is it?
Umbrella Man: Be careful.
Number Six: One two, three, four, five, six seven?
Umbrella Man: Quiet!
Number Six: Eight, nine ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16?

Number Two: You know who it was?
Number Six: Yes, sir.
Number Two: Who was it? That is cowardice!
Number Six: That's honour, sir.
Number Two: We don't talk about such things.
Number Six: You should teach it, sir.
Number Two: You're a fool!
Number Six: Yes, sir. Not a rat.
Number Two: A rat?
Number Six: Rat.
Number Two: I'm a rat?!?
Number Six: No, sir. I'm a fool, not a rat.

Number Two: Society...
Number Six: Yes, sir?
Number Two: Society is a place where people exist together.
Number Six: Yes, sir.
Number Two: That is civilization.
Number Six: Yes, sir.
Number Two: The lone wolf belongs in the wilderness.
Number Six: Yes, sir.
Number Two: You must not grow up to be a lone wolf.
Number Six: No, sir.
Number Two: You must conform.
Number Six: Yes, sir.
Number Two: It is my sworn duty to see that you do conform.
Number Six: Yes, sir.
Number Two: You will take six.
Number Six: Six, sir?
Number Two: Of the best.
Number Six: I'm not guilty, sir.
Number Two: Ten!
Number Six: Twelve.
Number Two: What?
Number Six: Twelve, sir, so that I can remember.

Number Six: I am a man, not a unit of society.

Fall Out [1.17]

President: We understand he survived the ultimate test. Then he must no longer be referred to as "Number Six" or a number of any kind. He has gloriously vindicated the right of the individual to be individual. And this Assembly rises to you... Sir.

The President: Give it to me baby! Confess!
Number 48: Oh Dad, I'm your baby Dad, do you owe your baby something Daddy?
The President: Confess!
Number 48: The bones is yours Dad! Taken from you my Daddy.
The President: Confess! Now you help!
Number 48: Help, Dad, help.
The President: Confess!
Number 48: And a hip bone.
The President: Confess!
Number 48: And a thigh bone.
The President: Confess!
Number 48: Shin bone, knee bone.
The President: Confess!
Number 48: Back bone. All yours Dad.

President: Youth, with its enthusiasms which rebels against any accepted norm must because it must--and we sympathize--it may wear flowers in its hair, bells on toes, But when the common good is threatened, when the function of society is endangered, such revolts must cease. They are non-productive and must be abolished.

Number Two: New allegiances. Such is the price of fame.... and failure. Dear me, how sad. My Lords, Ladies and Gentleman, a most extraordinary thing happened to me on my way here. It has been my lot in the past to wield a not inconsiderable power. Nay, I have had the ear of statesmen, kings and princes of many lands. Governments have been swayed, policies defined and revolutions nipped in the bud at a word from me in the right place, and at a propitious time. Not surprising therefore, that this community should find a use for me. Not altogether by accident that one day I should be abducted, and wake up here amongst you. What is deplorable is that I resisted for so short a time. A fine tribute to your methods.

President: We are honoured to have with us a revolutionary of a different calibre. He has revolted. Resisted. Fought. Held fast. Maintained. Destroyed resistance. Overcome coercion. The right to be a Person, Someone, or Individual. We applaud his private war and concede that despite materialistic efforts he has survived intact and secure. All that remains is recognition of a Man.

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

The Prisoner
by Emily Brontë
A fragment. From Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846) and reprinted in The Complete Poems of Emily Brontë (1908).

In the dungeon-crypts idly did I stray,
Reckless of the lives wasting there away;
'Draw the ponderous bars! open, Warder stern!'
He dared not say me nay—the hinges harshly turn.

'Our guests are darkly lodged,' I whisper'd, gazing through
The vault, whose grated eye showed heaven more gray than blue;
(This was when glad Spring laughed in awaking pride);
'Ay, darkly lodged enough!' returned my sullen guide.

Then, God forgive my youth; forgive my careless tongue;
I scoffed, as the chill chains on the damp flagstones rung:
'Confined in triple walls, art thou so much to fear,
That we must bind thee down and clench thy fetters here?'


The captive raised her face; it was as soft and mild
As sculptured marble saint, or slumbering unwean'd child;
It was so soft and mild, it was so sweet and fair,
Pain could not trace a line, nor grief a shadow there!

The captive raised her hand and pressed it to her brow;
'I have been struck,' she said, 'and I am suffering now;
Yet these are little worth, your bolts and irons strong;
And, were they forged in steel, they could not hold me long.'

Hoarse laughed the jailor grim: 'Shall I be won to hear;
Dost think, fond, dreaming wretch, that I shall grant thy prayer?
Or, better still, wilt melt my master's heart with groans?
Ah! sooner might the sun thaw down these granite stones.

'My master's voice is low, his aspect bland and kind,
But hard as hardest flint the soul that lurks behind;


And I am rough and rude, yet not more rough to see
Than is the hidden ghost that has its home in me.'

About her lips there played a smile of almost scorn,
'My friend,' she gently said, 'you have not heard me mourn;
When you my kindred's lives, my lost life, can restore,
Then may I weep and sue,—but never, friend, before!

'Still, let my tyrants know, I am not doomed to wear
Year after year in gloom, and desolate despair;
A messenger of Hope comes every night to me,
And offers for short life, eternal liberty.

'He comes with western winds, with evening's wandering airs,
With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars.
Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire,
And visions rise, and change, that kill me with desire.

'Desire for nothing known in my maturer years,
When Joy grew mad with awe, at counting future tears.


When, if my spirit's sky was full of flashes warm,
I knew not whence they came, from sun or thunder-storm.

'But, first, a hush of peace—a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress, and fierce impatience ends;
Mute music soothes my breast—unuttered harmony,
That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.

'Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels:
Its wings are almost free—its home, its harbour found,
Measuring the gulph, it stoops and dares the final bound,

'Oh! dreadful is the check—intense the agony—
When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again;
The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.


'Yet I would lose no sting, would wish no torture less;
The more that anguish racks, the earlier it will bless;
And robed in fires of hell, or bright with heavenly shine,
If it but herald death, the vision is divine!'

She ceased to speak, and we, unanswering, turned to go—
We had no further power to work the captive woe:
Her cheek, her gleaming eye, declared that man had given
A sentence, unapproved, and overruled by Heaven.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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