‘Succession’ Characters Ranked by Ruthlessness

'Success,' Season 3, episode 9:

The Roys are back for one last ride into battle this Sunday, March 26 at 9/8c on HBO for the premiere of Succession‘s fourth and final season.

Season 3 ended with three of the Roy children, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin), united against patriarch Logan (Brian Cox), who caught onto their coup attempt. The fourth season shows the Roy family broken up into factions, those supporting the children’s coup and those standing behind Logan, who is preparing to sell Waystar Royco to GoJo founder and tech mogul Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård). The children, unwilling to allow their wealth and privilege to be threatened by such an acquisition, go head-to-head with their giant of a father.

The business and media worlds are cutthroat. And if Succession has shown us anything, it is that every member of the Roy clan and those who work at Waystar Royco are fighters, maybe even “killers,” to quote Logan. But who’s more cruel and who’s more relenting? In preparation for the premiere of the final season, scroll down to check out our ranking of Succession‘s characters, from least to most ruthless.

Succession, Fourth and Final Season Premiere, Sunday, March 26, 9/8c, HBO

Justine Lupe as Willa Ferreyra in 'Succession' season 2, episode 4:

Willa Ferreyra

Willa (Justine Lupe) is the escort turned playwright fiancée of Connor Roy (Alan Ruck). Introduced as an outsider to the Roy clan because of her profession, she has become more tolerated by the family as the series has gone on.

Though Willa’s motives for staying in her relationship with Connor are shallow (he offered to fund her playwright ambitions as well as her productions), she is generally a conscientious and cautious person. This makes her the least ruthless of the Succession bunch. She should honestly be given a medal for all the scandals she prevented when counseling Connor on his doomed presidential campaign.

Ruthless Rating: 2.4

Hiam Abbass as Marcia Roy in 'Succession,' Season 2, episode 8:

Marcia Roy

Being the third wife of Logan Roy cannot be easy, but Marcia (Hiam Abbass) navigates it with an astuteness that has yet to be rivaled.

Her status as an outsider makes Marcia the subject of wary skepticism by her step-children, especially Shiv. She is mysterious and soft-spoken, often saving her words for when they will best serve her. In the early seasons, Marcia holds a lot of power in the eyes of Logan and the company. Naturally, this results in the Roy children becoming jealous of her position. Her adaptability to the Roy family dynamics shows she is willing to do anything to keep it.

Ruthless Rating: 4.3

J. Smith-Cameron as Gerri Kellman in 'Succession,' Season 3, episode 4: 'Lion in the Meadow'

Gerri Kellman

Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) is the general counsel to Waystar Royco. Having advised the family for decades, Gerri can be considered a full-fledged member of the Roy family. It also helps that she is Shiv’s godmother.

Gerri is fiercely loyal to the Roys because of this. She is reliable and shrewd in her role, constantly preventing and fixing disasters as a result of the Roy siblings’ petty motivations and emotional stuntedness. By virtue of her closeness with the family, she is also unafraid of being candid about their many personality flaws. Her ruthlessness is less a measure of how little she cares about others and more of how many lines she is willing to cross to protect her employers and her career.

Ruthless Rating: 5.6

Nicholas Braun as Greg Hirsch in 'Succession,' Season 3, Episode 3: 'The Disruption'

Greg Hirsch

Greg (Nicholas Braun) is the first cousin of the Roy siblings who did not inherit the Waystar Royco wealth the siblings did. As a result, he lacks the overbearing confidence of his wealthy cousins that is rooted in their privilege.

Cousin Greg is seen as an outlier among the Roys because he is new to the cutthroat corporate world. He is awkward and wishy-washy, often used as a pawn by various members of the Roy family. Greg is one of the only characters that still retains a semblance of a moral compass, but he subdues his conscience in order to ingratiate himself with the family. He frequently proves himself too spineless to achieve the ruthlessness that the other characters innately have.

This doesn’t mean he should be underestimated, though. Greg is willing do what it takes to secure the wealth and privilege of the Roys. He used copies of the documents containing the cruise line scandal to blackmail Tom (Matthew Macfadyen). And in a pure display of nepotism, Greg is also suing Greenpeace because his grandfather donated his inheritance to the environmental organization.

Ruthless Rating: 5.8

Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Wambsgans in 'Succession,' Season 3, episode 9: 'All the Bells Say

Tom Wambsgans

When he was first introduced as Shiv’s people-pleasing fiancé, Tom’s ruthlessness was restricted to his career motivations inside Waystar Royco. Wanting to remain in the family’s good graces and potentially gain entry into the inner circle, Tom was willing to cross any line for the Roys. This includes mentally preparing himself for the possibility he could go to prison for the cruise ship scandal, putting aside his political beliefs to head right-wing ATN, and agreeing to an open marriage at Shiv’s request on their wedding night despite his aversion to the idea.

Tom was a pathetic character until Season 3, which is when he put his lessons in Roy ruthlessness to work. No longer willing to be Shiv’s doormat after she admitted she didn’t love him, Tom betrayed his wife by telling Logan of the younger Roy siblings’ plans to prevent the sale of Waystar Royco to GoJo. This act is Tom embracing the competitive and manipulative side of himself he had been pushing aside since he became acquainted with the Roys.

Ruthless Rating: 6.1

Alan Ruck as Connor Roy in 'Succession,' Season 1, episode 7:

Connor Roy

Connor is the eldest Roy sibling and the only child from Logan’s first marriage. His personality is shaped by a life of privilege complicated by a longing to be included in the Roy family dynasty.

In a pure demonstration of hubris, he decides to launch a campaign to be President of the United States. His motivations come from a place of insecurity, but they also reek of a privilege he doesn’t know what to do with. His level of  ruthlessness is muddled by his incompetence, but his excessive entitlement coupled with an embarrassing lack of self-awareness add to its power.

Ruthless Rating: 6.7

Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy in 'Succession,' Season 2, episode 10:

Roman Roy

Roman is the youngest Roy son. His emotional immaturity stems from the deeply rooted emotional abuse he endured from his father Logan. He exhibits a petulance, a propensity for offensive jokes, and a tendency to overcompensate. He is removed from reality as a result of his privilege.

Roman is an opportunistic jerk with emotional issues. He is constantly seeking Logan’s attention and approval as well as the prestige his siblings Kendall and Shiv are afforded by the maturity he lacks. He makes rash decisions that not only endanger the company, but also the employees he involves in his schemes (think: the failed rocket launch in Season 1 and the Season 2 hostage situation in Turkey). Though he can be a sympathetic figure, his opportunism and the enjoyment he gets out of putting down others make Roman especially ruthless.

Ruthless Rating: 7.5

Sarah Snook as Shiv Roy in 'Succession,' Season 3, episode 8:

Siobhan "Shiv" Roy

As the only daughter and the youngest of the Roy clan, Shiv had no choice but to become ruthless.

Shiv exudes a confidence that her brothers Kendall and Roman lack. This has given her a superiority complex that she uses to justify her actions and behavior. This first emerges when she defines herself and her values in opposition to her family when she is a fixer for left-leaning politicians. After the first season, however, Shiv quickly becomes blinded by the prospect of power when Logan begins looking favorably upon her for the CEO seat. She becomes increasingly cold and calculating, which is most exemplified in how she treats her husband Tom.

Her ruthlessness stems from her desire to prove herself. As the only daughter and a woman, she has had to navigate obstacles pertaining to her gender. However, she does not acknowledge the role her wealth and privilege have played in getting her where she is. She is the epitome of a girlboss, someone who views women’s success in terms of their proximity to power even if that means a complicity in the abuses that come with such a role.

Ruthless Rating: 8.7

Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in 'Succession,' Season 2, episode 10:

Kendall Roy

Kendall was brought up with the belief that he would head Waystar Royco. He constantly sought the attention and approval of Logan in the hopes that it would pay off when he was made CEO. When the prospect of becoming CEO is ripped out from under him by Logan in the first season, Kendall naturally feels betrayed. This event spurs Kendall’s actions for the remainder of the series and establishes him as the most ruthless Roy child.

The Roys belittle Kendall for his instability and often use this as a reason for why he cannot be in charge of the company. This only emboldens him more because of his impulsivity. Kendall rarely takes responsibility for his actions, only exhibiting remorse when he reaps the consequences of his poor decisions (for example, when he causes the death of a waiter at Shiv and Tom’s wedding at the end of Season 1).

Kendall is a tragic figure, which is what makes his ruthlessness so potent. He feels entitled to the CEO position and Logan’s attention, something he both craves and spurns. He also shares his father’s motivation for preserving power. And as long as Logan is CEO, Kendall’s power is threatened. Despite his many failed attempts at subverting his father’s authority, Kendall remains relentless in his pursuit of taking down his father and securing his family legacy.

Ruthless Rating: 9.3

Brian Cox as Logan Roy 'Succession,' Season 3, episode 9:

Logan Roy

It should come as no surprise that the Roy patriarch comes out on top as the most ruthless character on Succession.

Growing up in humble means, Logan has gained an absurd amount of wealth as the CEO of Waystar Royco, the fifth largest media conglomerate in the world. He achieved it through a pragmatic and cutthroat business approach, opting to bully those around him into agreeing with the decision that will secure his wealth and privilege while continuing to make him more money.

Logan is an emotionally and verbally abusive father to his children. He has pitted them against each other their whole lives to test their worth and value to the Waystar Royco brand. At different points in the series, Logan makes each of his children believe he will choose them to head Waystar Royco, demonstrating how manipulative his tactics are.

The cruel joke is that he finds none of them worthy of carrying on his legacy. He is willing to throw his own children under the bus if it means he will remain on top. In the Season 2 finale, he made a show of who he would choose to make the scapegoat for the company’s misconduct as a way to appease shareholders, opting for Kendall because he considered him too soft to succeed in the family business. Logan is a bullying and arrogant businessman whose hunger for power can never be satisfied.

Ruthless Rating: 10