Fact Check

Did Denzel Washington Say He Hoped 'Morals, Respect, and Intelligence' Would 'Become a Trend Again'?

While the quote might sound like something one of the actor's characters might say, the real question was whether he truly said it.

Published June 21, 2023

Denzel Washington is interviewed while promoting the upcoming film "The Equalizer 3" at the Sony Pictures Entertainment presentation during CinemaCon on April 24, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Image Via Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Actor Denzel Washington once said, "With so many things coming back in style, I can’t wait until morals, respect, and intelligence become a trend again."

Film actors who portray bold characters admired by audiences for the way they "tell it like it is" have long been featured in quote memes. One such quote meme features actor Denzel Washington supposedly having said, "With so many things coming back in style, I can't wait until morals, respect and intelligence become a trend again."

The question here was not whether Washington might believe it to be good for "morals, respect, and intelligence" to "become a trend again" but whether he ever said those words. 

In our research, we found no instances of Washington ever having said the exact words included in these quote memes.

Even so, old posts on Twitter and Facebook contain plenty of instances of Washington's name being included alongside the quote.

According to Twitter's search tools, the oldest version of a similar quote was posted on June 17, 2016, though with no mention of Washington.

Nearly two years after that tweet, the first tweet was posted that tied the quote to the actor. This first mention on Twitter of both the quote and Washington's name occurred on May 7, 2018.

The quote was shared several more times on that date. One of those shares received more than 100 likes. A user later replied to the tweet, asking, "Can you tell me when and where Denzel said this? I want to share it but need the source."

From what we could tell, this user did not receive an answer.

After finding all of this information on Twitter, we also searched both Google Books and the newspaper archives on Newspapers.com. However, we found no helpful details that would credit Washington with the quote.

In a helpful find on Google, we noted that blogger Timothy J. Barron wrote about this same subject in 2021. In his article, he noted that the same quote was also being misleadingly shared with pictures of actors Liam Neeson, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, and Robert De Niro, all actors that audiences might consider to have portrayed characters who "tell it like it is."

In Barron's research, he mentioned a LinkedIn post that showed the quote with a picture of Washington. At the time, it had received a staggering 143,000 likes and more than 5,600 comments.

After Barron sent a polite, private message to the LinkedIn user who had created the post, the user told him about seeing it on an Instagram account that appeared to be Washington's official presence on the social media platform. However, Washington does not have a publicly known Instagram account, a fact that, according to Barron, later led the LinkedIn user to delete the post.

This story will be updated if we uncover any further information about this quote.


Barron, Timothy J. Duped by a Meme Hoax. 19 Sept. 2021, https://www.timbarron.net/post/duped-by-a-meme.

Google Books. https://books.google.com/.

Newspapers.com. https://www.newspapers.com/.

"Search." Twitter, https://twitter.com/.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.