The 7 Best Characters in HBO's Succession, Ranked

Succession is one of HBO's greatest television shows, primarily for its riveting cast of profoundly damaged characters.
The 7 Best Characters in HBO's Succession, Ranked

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The series finale of HBO's Succession had everybody tuned in with their popcorn out and jaws on the floor—as usual.

Created by Jesse Armstrong, Succession has quickly become one of the best TV shows to come out during our current Golden Age of Television, having already won over 50 awards!

At first, it's hard to see why Succession is so popular, especially because nearly every single character is a terrible, amoral, power-hungry, unrelatable member of the elite class.

However, like a modern-day Game of Thrones, Succession is so deftly written and so packed with drama and intrigue that we can't help but sympathize with these characters as they fight for the throne of their family's media conglomerate Waystar Royco.

And if we can't sympathize, then we can at least find the Roy family interesting from a psychological point of view. If you can distance yourself from them, they can be entertaining to watch—like a four-season-long comedy show roast.

Even though HBO categorizes Succession as a drama, it's more like a black-comedy satire of corporate America that's brought to life by its cast of deeply flawed but engaging characters.

The dynamics of the Roys are blurred between family, rivals, colleagues, bosses, and friends, but all of them are competing for their father's seat on the throne (and, covertly, his love as well).

The sparking chemistry, taut scripts, and polished cinematography all come together to make Succession a TV masterpiece that feels like a 21st century Shakespearean play dripping with tragedy.

And, again, it's all rooted in the characters. Here's how I rank the Roy family characters from worst to best, based on their likability, character arcs, and entertainment value. (Spoilers ahead!)

7. Connor Roy

Watch Connor Roy get roasted by the characters of Succession

Connor Roy is the Roy family member you probably forgot even existed—and we don't blame you, given that he seems forgotten by his own family and the show as a whole.

Played by Alan Ruck, Connor is the only Roy sibling who has a different mother, and so he seems to be lacking the competitive genes that run through the rest of the Roy kids.

Despite being the eldest sibling and the most optimistic, he isn't a cutthroat businessman, so his father Logan dismisses him altogether, making him an outsider. Coupled with his extreme wealth, Connor ends up completely detached from reality.

Connor runs for President without any political experience, and he essentially buys his (much younger) wife, believing she really loves him despite obviously being a gold digger. He's also prone to childish outbursts, like his tantrum when the butter's too cold...

But for all his delusions, we can't help but feel sorry for Connor, as he says "I didn't see pop for three years, but your spoon wasn't shiny enough, huh?" to his siblings, who were all at Connor's wedding and yet all forgot to tell him that his father Logan had died.

6. Tom Wambsgans

Watch Tom Wambsgans argue with Siobhan Roy

Tom Wambsgan is a Roy through marriage rather than blood, so—like Connor—he's something of an outsider looking in.

The Roy family is his ticket to being a billionaire, as he admits: "Here's the thing about being rich... It's f***ing great!" That's essentially why he marries Siobhan—Logan's daughter—and offers himself up as Waystar bait in season three.

Portrayed by British actor Matthew Macfadyen (which helps with Tom's unplaceable offbeat quality, where you can never really tell if he's joking or not), Tom does arguably love Siobhan. In fact, he's probably the most capable of love in the entire Roy family.

Perhaps if he was born into a working class family, Tom could've been a good guy. But alas, he's been infected by wealth and the toxic Roy family, who use him in exchange for a high position at ATN.

Tom is a fish out of water who spends most of his life in fear. He follows Siobhan around like a lost puppy, misses social cues, and even melts our hearts a bit when confessing to his wife: "I wonder if the sad I'd be without you would be less than the sad I get being with you."

5. Greg Hirsch

Watch Greg Hirsch's best moments in Succession

You're going to see a pattern throughout this list: every character in Succession is an outsider in some way. Even so, Greg Hirsch is the most directly ostracized of them all.

We see this from the get-go in the pilot episode, when Cousin Greg (or "Greg the Egg") is introduced without a suit and without money for a taxi while the others juggle with literal billions.

Greg is the everyman, the bumbling idiot, the comic relief, who's awkwardly played by Nicholas Braun.

It would be easy to say that Greg exists as a stand-in for the audience, a bridge between our world and the Roys. His constant bewilderment shows what it would be like if we were suddenly plopped into the world of billion-dollar empires and beyond our depths.

But this oversimplification is a bit of a red herring. As Succession progresses, we see that Greg is just as greedy as the rest of them. Otherwise, why put up with the stress and abuse?

Not only is he a huge gossip, but because nobody thinks anything of him, Greg's always able to eavesdrop on secret information and use it to blackmail his way to what he wants.

It's admirable, in a way, how Greg is able to carve out a spot for himself in this world. We can't call him a nice guy, of course, but he's definitely funny to watch stumbling around and he's subtly smart in how he uses his irrelevance to his advantage.

Through Greg, the writers of Succession show that no character is predictable, safe, or even out of the running for the throne.

4. Logan Roy

Watch Logan Roy play "Boar on the Floor"

Ah, Logan Roy. He's the centerpiece of it all. He's the feudal overlord with seemingly impenetrable power.

But you know how they say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks? That's Logan in a nutshell, and it's the biggest factor behind his potential downfall. He's stuck in a time when "f*** off" (his favorite line) was the solution to everything. Not anymore.

The reason why Logan's kids are so psychologically intriguing is because of their complex, traumatic childhoods that stem from Logan's treatment of them, which is itself rooted in his own trauma.

We get a glimpse of it when Logan says "If I'd spoken to my uncle like that..." followed by the lashing scars on his back and coupled with his poverty-stricken upbringing.

Nobody else could play this foul-mouthed, hot-tempered, gaslighting narcissist than Brian Cox. He begins the show on the verge of death from a stroke, triggering the question of who will take over Waystar yet refusing to step aside despite his ill health.

Like a true old man who has built up hubris and is set in his ways, Logan never asks for help and is perpetually disappointed in his kids who bend over backwards just to please him.

Logan Roy is the ultimate example of an emotionally abusive father who provides his kids with material wealth over affection.

Even his employees are afraid of him, as seen when they get on all fours and bark when instructed, all for nothing more than a terrifying dinner party game. How much worse to be one of his children?

Old age has derailed Logan, but he's still cunning, able, and willing to exploit each child of his. He toys on Kendall's addiction, brings Siobhan in when she knows too much, humiliates Roman, dismisses Connor.

He promises them all the throne at one point or another, knowing full well he has no intention of relinquishing power until he dies. But he's manipulated them so well that they believe otherwise, all because of the damage he's done to their hearts and souls.

Logan Roy clearly believes his traumatic childhood is what made him a strong and powerful leader, so maybe—in some warped way—he thinks he's doing them all the same favor.

Perhaps he only pushes his kids away to test if they'll come back, as he doesn't believe anyone could really love him, or that he deserves to be loved. Or, maybe he's just a greedy old white man.

3. Siobhan Roy

Watch Siobhan Roy's best moments in Succession

Siobhan Roy (or "Shiv") is the most likable person in the Roy family, but that's mainly because she's made it appear that way.

Played by Sarah Snook, Shiv takes the wealthy's habit of viewing people as transactional to new heights. Every interaction, friendship, and even marriage is carefully calculated and precisely executed.

You can almost see the cogs working in her brain between every sentence. No wonder Tom thought her own pregnancy announcement was a "line."

Shiv and Tom's relationship is a tricky one. There's no doubt they use each other, and they often conduct entire conversations without actually responding to what the other has said.

It's quite possible that they truly love each other. After all, the few times we see Shiv's eyes water have been in the presence of Tom. But to say they have a loving relationship? Far from it.

We see their strange dynamic in season one, when Shiv cheats on Tom and declares an "open" relationship on their wedding night. This excellently sums up Shiv's character: every opportunity is kept open, eggs are never stacked into a single basket.

Shiv is only able to achieve this because she's the most intelligent sibling by a long shot. Then why isn't she the Waystar successor?

For one, she's a woman. ("That's a minus?" she asks. "Of course it's a f***ing minus!" Logan replies.) There's also the fact that she's the youngest sibling, plus she doesn't actually work for Waystar.

Shiv is all about the long game. She knew early on that she'd be years behind her brothers if she joined the company outright, so instead she worked her way in from the outside—through politics.

Due to her upbringing, gender, and position, Shiv is relentlessly suspicious and harbors deep trust issues (which no doubt feed into her own infidelity) as well as mommy issues.

While the Roys get their lawyers to look over contracts, they also ask Shiv to look over them—they know how sharp and clever she is. When they're on the same side, she's an indispensible ally.

And since Succession is basically one big mind game of chess, Siobhan Roy is definitely someone you don't want to play against.

2. Roman Roy

Watch Roman Roy being "That Guy"

Siobhan Roy may have mommy issues, but Roman Roy's mommy issues are next level. Crudely and chaotically portrayed by Kieran Culkin, Roman is the most entertaining sibling to watch.

He never takes anything seriously and seemingly doesn't understand much, but he's always throwing around witty insults that make us question whether he's actually as dumb as he seems.

But just when you think otherwise, he'll do something stupid—like firing the general counsel for no reason—and you realize that oh yes, he truly is that dumb. Not just dumb, but insecure, too.

Roman's crippling inability to show genuine emotion renders him the family jester because he figures it's better to be a clown on purpose than being laughed at for being real.

And Roman's wealth enables him to act without any thought to consequences, talking without filter and behaving without boundaries. (He teases a little boy with a million dollars if he can hit a home run!)

He's an influential factor in the presidential election arc, pushing various buttons until it all erupts into an eerily Trump-like outbreak of riots, protests, and street violence.

So why do we feel bad that time he does start crying?

As Succession progresses, we learn that Roman isn't just a rich jerk for fun. We get hints to physical abuse as a child, to emotional abuse from his family who humiliated him all his life.

Roman is the family punching bag who, in refusing to be disregarded like Connor, makes himself unignorable by making himself known with whatever shocking things he can do and say.

Furthermore, Roman's humiliation leads us to the most glaringly obvious corner of his twisted psyche: the Oedipus complex.

Shiv is always making jokes about him "hiding under the covers with mommy," and these are the only comments that really seem to touch a nerve in the otherwise unembarrassable Roman.

We see Roman's mommy issues manifest when he's turned on by Gerri degrading him. She's around his mother's age, she holds a high Waystar position, and she's humiliating him.

Roman is incredibly damaged, but he turns it all on its head and derives power from it rather than wallowing in shame. He's messed up in all the worst ways, but it makes for captivating television.

1. Kendall Roy

Watch Kendall Roy try to be the "killer" that he's not

Played by Jeremy Strong, Kendall Roy overtakes Connor as the first-born son, to the point that people (including us) forget he's not actually the oldest sibling.

He is the oldest from the same mother, though, and he seems to have the least amount of mommy issues compared to his other siblings. In its place, Kendall has raging daddy issues.

As the rightful heir to the Waystar throne, there's a lot of pressure on Kendall to fill Logan's big, enormous, grandiose shoes. The trouble is, he's nothing like his father.

Kendall isn't a natural corporate savage with a booming voice and a void where his heart ought to be. But he tries to be, and it's exactly this trying-too-hard overcompensation that Logan despises.

Throughout most of Succession, Logan is either cranking up the heat so Kendall can prove himself worthy or purposefully sabotaging him so he'll fall off the wagon.

Kendall cries the most out of the Roy siblings, and in turn, he makes us cry the most every time he falls into his pit of despair. That is, after all, when he shows us hints of the good guy underneath.

After visiting one victim's family, Kendall is stunned by the photographs on their walls. He's unaccustomed to being in an everyday working-class house—one that now feels so real to him.

He washes his glass of water before slipping money into the letterbox, torn between guilt, goodness, and wanting to prove his ability to be the next vicious CEO of Waystar.

Some viewers have noted that Kendall shows signs of bipolar disorder, swinging endlessly between being on top of the world and crying on the floor as a shell of a person. If true, it's fair to say Kendall is unaware of his pendulum.

On one end, he's throwing egotistical birthday parties for himself, covering the million-dollar walls with photos, videos, and memorabilia of himself. He even goes as far as trying to take down his father's empire on multiple occasions.

But when he isn't manic, Kendall is crying over bunny wrapping paper, smoking meth with strangers, and saying "Yes, dad" to any and every order that's placed upon him.

Constantly wearing a mask of unnatural macho bravado takes its toll on his sense of identity and his emotional stability, often forcing him to seek exit routes in drugs snorted through rolled-up dollar bills.

Everybody points out Kendall's lack of killer instinct, which he tries to make up for by killing everybody (including himself). Interestingly, that's the only time Logan shows any pride for his son, smiling when Kendall stabs him in the back.

Kendall is the best character on Succession, not because he's clearly the most overt protagonist who resembles a classic Greek hero with too many fatal flaws to count, but because he's the most sympathetic.

His low moments and hints of humanity make us feel sorry for him, and he's the one—above everyone else—we'd be happy to see succeed, if only he were to go his own way.