Now in its fourth and final season on HBO, Succession is hands down the best-written show on television. It is Game of Thrones (circa Seasons 1–3) with none of the swords and dragons but with all of the intrigue and betrayal and an incredible group of complex characters that pull it all together.
It’s also the smartest show on TV from a narrative perspective. The writers make every second count, every interaction, every conversation—even the outwardly trivial ones—tell us something about these characters’ motivations and values. The writers never “cheat” by resorting to murder or dumb coincidence to solve the conflicts, but instead have used each character as a tool to tell a full, complete, and riveting story from the start. Every decision, every action that a character makes or takes, matters more because nothing has a neat resolution.
And lastly—unlike Game of Thrones—Succession knows not to overstay its welcome. The show is in its final season, and not a moment too late; a major death at the start of Season 4 sent the show hurtling toward its final act. Now as the remaining characters scramble to find their way forward after their loss, viewers are seeing them all for who they really are.
We’ve seen these characters stoop low, but their depravity has no bottom. So unlike other shows where there are clear heroes and villains, Succession’s characters—like the siblings Kendall, Shiv, and Roman—have few redeemable qualities that make it difficult to truly root for any of them.
As the show speeds toward its end, the question of who will come out victorious is still up in the air. In the meantime, we have 15 of the best, most devious, and most important characters on Succession, ranked from the bad to the worst.