Study Guide

The Departed

The Departed Introduction

Release Year: 2006

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: William Monahan

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson

We hope you like Boston accents.

We also hope you like star-studded casts and award-winning movies. Yeah, the combination of Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, and a handful of Oscars means that The Departed doesn't really need an introduction.

But how about a quick recap?

We're in Southie (South Boston), where Irish mob boss Frank Costello lives. Frank has always wanted to leave a legacy, but he has no sons, so he takes a young kid named Colin Sullivan under his wing and raises him to become his personal spy in the Massachusetts police force. Later, Frank takes on another "son": Billy Costigan, who turns out to be an actual undercover police agent working against Frank. What ensues is an intense drama that involves Costello, Billy, and Colin all trying to figure each other out—and leaving a long trail of bodies while they're at it.

Just a regular ol' rom-com.

But the star of the show? We'd say it's Boston. (And those accents. Swoon/gross, depending who you ask.) 

So try to forget that this is all based on a true story (hello, Whitey Bulger), and get ready to pahk the cah in cinematic history.

What is The Departed About and Why Should I Care?

You know all about the American Dream: someone from a poor background works really hard, makes a lot of money, and becomes a big success in life. 

Got it.

But we learn in The Departed  that not everyone's chasing the American Dream according to the American Law.

Frank Costello's rule? "No one gives it to you. You have to take it." 

And boy does he mean it: the guy spends most of the movie covered in the blood of people who've gotten in his way. He's willing to destroy anyone who gets between him and power. it still the American Dream when you're betraying, lying, and brutally murdering? 

Seriously: we're asking.


How about this one? The Departed holds the record for the most times a Best Picture features the "F" word. Just for the record, it's 237 times. (Source.)

Turns out that Martin Scorsese didn't realize that The Departed was a remake of a Hong Kong movie until he had agreed to direct it. (Source.)

Of course, you would expect a diehard Boston guy like Frank Costello to be a Red Sox fan. But actor Jack Nicholson despises the Sox so much that he refused to wear their hat in this movie. Instead, he went for a Yankees cap. (Source.)

The Departed Resources


The Official Website of The Departed
Don't worry, this isn't the official website for everybody who's ever died. Though there are a lot of people who die in this flick…

The Departed at
Because who doesn't want to hear MovieWeb's take on things?

Friend Me!
Yup, follow this link if you want to check out The Departed's official Facebook page.

Book or TV Adaptations

Original Hong Kong Version (Infernal Affairs)
This is the place to go if you want to see the source material for The Departed.

Articles and Interviews

Martin Scorsese on Making The Departed
The Guardian sits down with Martin Scorsese and asks him all about what it was like to make The Departed—and to work with Leonardo DiCaprio for like the dozenth-or-so time.

The Departed at
Check out this link to see why gave The Departed the highest possible rating of four stars.

2006 Review from The Boston Globe
This old review predicts that The Departed won't win Martin Scorsese any Oscars, because it's simply "too good." Well, the Oscars would go on to show this reviewer a thing or to, since The Departed would end up winning four of those bad boys.


Original Trailer for The Departed
Check out the trailer that audiences would have seen back in 2006.

Great Scene in Madolyn's Office
Here's five minutes of pure acting glory between Leonardo DiCaprio and Vera Farmiga in the psychologist's office. Sit back and enjoy the mixed emotions.

Sweet, Sweet Payback
Yeah. Go Sergeant Dignam.


I'm Shipping Up to Boston
You might as well consider this song from The Dropkick Murphys to be the theme song to this movie.

The Departed Tango
This great tune is one that composer Howard Shore wrote especially for this movie, and it does a great job of conveying a sense of what the movie's all about.

Beacon Hill
Want to hear one of the saddest melodies ever? Then check this out.


French Pulls Billy Away
It's about time Billy found out that there are some guys you hit and some guys you don't hit.

Do You Know Who I Am?
Apparently he doesn't, Frank. But that's okay, because he will soon enough.

Aw, Yeah
It's Dignam time.