Ranking the Roy’s From Worst to Best
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Succession Season 4.Succession just aired its penultimate episode and is set to complete its run with an epic final episode on May 28, 2023. The series follows the Roy family, a fictional wealthy family that controls a major conglomerate that encompasses news, movie studios, theme parks, and cruises. As the mega-hit HBO show has evolved, viewers have seen characters go from malicious imps to ill-rehearsed samaritans right back to demanding Hell expand dig operations. Often, that fluctuating morality rests less in a given moment’s manufactured conscience and more in negligent lack of backstabbing.
Updated May 22, 2023: If you love Succession, you’ll be happy to know that this article has been updated by Kelly Swift with additional content and entries about the Roy family.
This list tries to award the Best Roy trophy to whichever member of the family would be last up to the guillotine: the Roy who has done the least harm (through choice, not availability), who pays any attention to leaving soil as salt-less as they found it, and who would even head the company without firebombing a tent city immediately. For the sake of cohesion and succinctness, Kendall’s children are not included — we don’t know enough about their morals and likely don’t want to. Here is every member of the Roy family, ranked from the worst to the best.
13 Logan Roy
Logan Roy’s greatest talent is that he’s ludicrously successful without having actual talent. Every time Logan wants something, it routinely explodes: from buying Pierce to pressuring the Raisin out of the DOJ investigation to offering Kendall as a very different kind of jailbait, Logan accuses his children of failing him before ever addressing that he’s an awful businessman. His every win — from being purchased by GoJo to securing Caroline’s board powers to defeating the proxy war via Kendall’s resignation — comes at the behest of somebody else approaching him while he takes full credit.
Ultimately, Logan’s evil, his abusive tirades, and his flailing stream of lies are so powerful that he’s gotten his children, his employees, and even the viewers to believe he’s competent when in reality, he’s just grouchy. Even after his death, he’s still responsible for causing a divide between his children, ranking him as the least favorable Roy.
12 Roman Roy
The apple doesn’t fall far from the forest fire. Roman Roy is a spare child away from abusive fatherhood, his main obstacles being the timeline of Gerri’s uterus and a lack of paternal absence required to be directly abusive — Logan’s main benefactor in that area being sole custody. Roman will hold an impossible million dollars in a child’s nose, sexually harass the CEO, and maim an astronaut here and there.
He can gather incredible empathy for his naivety, his monumental phobia for his father, and even for his impoverishing Oedipal complex, but to claim that evil can’t derive from fear is a dismissal of the reality that every evil ever has derived from fear. Roman is willing to let democracy burn and is so disconnected from it as just good television. While he makes for an enjoyable and humorous character to watch, his traits are too close to his father’s, and there seems to be no limit to his immoral actions.
11 Caroline Collingwood
Should Caroline have been burdened with motherhood after the divorce, the show would be centered around her abuse, not Logan’s. She shot down Kendall’s desperate and painful attempt at coming clean about Shiv’s wedding, she told Shiv that she wished she had dogs instead of children — at every possible opportunity, Caroline spews acid so caked in powdered sugar that it takes a moment to realize skin is dissolving. Ultimately, Caroline’s seeming lack of true evil comes from a lack of opportunity, but viewers have to admit that she does an incredible job with what resources she does have.
10 Connor Roy
When every other child is caked in coal, it’s a feat to be the black sheep. Much of Connor Roy‘s desire to do wrong or right comes from what’s available to him, and even then, his inability to backstab provokes confusion as to whom Connor would ever have to backstab and why. Connor is Schrödinger’s Roy — he hasn’t yet emerged from his box—though there are more and more hints that that may happen soon: he’s attempting to build a libertarian cult, he accessorizes Willa as a beloved blankie, he has all the tools to become a Logan but seemingly none of the genetic venom.
His (for the most part) lack of evil isn’t because he’s good but because his only conscious decision in his life was to go for the only position a toddler would know: the U.S. Presidency. His true negligence as a Roy child comes from his indecisiveness and inability to take sides. With no moral compass, Connor is left to aimlessly blow away his father’s legacy.
9 Tom Wambsgans
Tom can get plenty of empathy for how much he has to take, from the company making him the fall guy for every crime to Shiv dissecting his emotional borders like a child with a click pen. But with every beating Tom gets, he passes the memo down to Greg — physically assaulting him, moving his office to a cupboard under the stairs, and even throwing the destruction of the cruise papers at Greg.
However, Tom has shown some redemptive actions, as when Greg asked if Tom would take on Greg’s prison sentence as well, and Tom agreed at no penalty (maybe the only act of true altruism in the entire series). While Tom did terrible things for Waystar and terrible things to Greg, his self-described Nero-esque desire to have Greg thrive gives him more empathy than most Roys. His betrayal of the Roy children was responsive to Shiv’s attacks, and rather than continuing that stream of abuse down, Tom took a risk to have it be inclusive for the Egg.
8 Kendall Roy
Sometimes, Kendall has clear remorse, like when having to visit the family of the waiter that Kendall inadvertently killed. Other times, Kendall appropriates empathy for individualist ascension, like claiming neoliberal advocacy for women’s rights movements in order to accurately paint his family as misogynistic (while simultaneously demeaning Shiv’s value to solely her femininity himself). Kendall will manipulate and threaten Greg to maintain leverage against the family, he’ll promote Aaronson’s perception of Logan’s health over Logan’s literal health, and he’ll be undeniably absent in his children’s lives.
It’s hard to call Kendall morally superior to the others for the instances where he advocates for familial treaties — it’s like calling a losing warlord morally superior for not wanting to lose anymore — but his fleeting instances of legitimate guilt for what he’s done give him the slightest of advantages over many of his siblings. Though we have no reason to trust any of his actions, he’s quickly becoming a Season 4 fan favorite.
7 Siobhan Roy
Siobhan “Shiv” Roy has two major problems: 1) she has more brains than the people around her and knows it, and 2) that is like celebrating having legs among snakes. As Shiv tries to play a manipulation game, her successes and failures largely rest upon her trying to play chess against players who don’t know the rules. If she’s technically won, but the other player thinks they have, the best she can ever earn at Waystar is a stalemate.
By finally throwing herself in as a fellow snake, she’s become a repeated punching bag of misogynist dismissal, forwarding all of that to Tom in their bloated and rotting relationship. Shiv has proven she’d be cruel with more power, as she’s proven she’s vicious when denied it. Shiv seems the most complex of Logan Roy’s children, as she can acknowledge the horror of letting a right-wing hate-monger win an election while also quickly adapting to what a new world will be.
6 Greg Hirsch
Greg is the character whose morality has changed the most through the season, with a big jump in seasons 3 and 4. While Greg originally was the naive outsider, often being taken advantage of by the rest of the Roy family, he has quickly grown quite adaptable. Greg originally had the desire to do the right thing but has slowly been infected by the Roy family to become more self-serving.
Season 4 has shown him talking back to Tom, who, for most of the series, has bullied him. Greg has played every side he can in order to make it. Greg also has an inability to take responsibility for his own actions. He says he is just the messenger when they call the election results early, but the episodes prior have shown when he wants to, he can speak for himself and could have made the decision to wait on revealing the election results. There still might be some of the old Greg left in there, but currently, what remains is a man who only sees himself as an instrument instead of someone with power.
5 Marianne Hirsch
An outsider to the Roy drama, Marianne encourages her son, “cousin Greg,” to make a good impression on the extended family and align himself with whoever has the best chance of becoming Logan’s successor. Greg, of course, shows up on the very day Logan has a stroke. Marianne’s father, Ewan (James Cromwell), Greg’s grandfather, cut her off long before he decided to donate Greg’s inheritance to Greenpeace.
She has since racked up a fortune in credit-card debt, according to her son. For a while, Marianne’s lone scene in the series was the pilot episode, but she did make an appearance at Logan Roy’s funeral. While we have a limited understanding of who she is as a person, her advocacy for Greg says enough about her character to ensure that she’s at least better than most of the nuclear Roy family.
4 Ewan Roy
It seems that we learn more about the interesting culmination of Ewan’s politics and familial preferences with his every appearance, but one thing we know for sure is that Ewan would never become Logan, given that Ewan had the chance to and didn’t. A few plusses about him are his clear recognition of ATN’s poisoning of public discourse, leaving his fortune to Greenpeace, and enlisting to “fight communism” (which, while being a seemingly uninformed and machismo-driven perspective, from Ewan’s perspective, demands some version of honor), refusing to break from his loyalty to his brother at the vote of no confidence, and attempting to help Greg escape Waystar before it devours him.
There are random minuses, such as demanding Greg drive him twelve hours in silence or the occasional paleoconservative rant, but in a buffet built on insatiable greed, Ewan’s acceptance of his one plate (albeit a 250 million-dollar one) gives him a lack of dependency.
3 Willa Roy
It’s safe to say that Willa has stuck around longer than anyone in the Succession fandom or the Roy family expected. Now that she and Connor have officially tied the knot, she can legally be on our list of favorite Roys. She’s seen the ins and outs of one of America’s most powerful and complicated families, all while navigating her own unconventional relationship with its eldest son. Where love and genuine connection lack in her relationship, a surprising amount of trust and stability has always existed.
While she and Connor may be a relationship therapist’s nightmare, they both have been shown to care about one another. Season 4’s second episode ends with a sweet reminder that Willa is the only person truly on Connor’s side and one of the few people that he can rely on. In the third episode of season 4, Willa and Connor decided to still have their wedding after Logan’s death, with no one around. It was the most genuine we’ve ever seen a Roy child be, proving that the relationship may be headed for success. Aside from her relationship with Connor, Willa has never let her dreams of being a play write die, even when they probably should, and we can’t help but her love and tenacity.
2 Marcia Roy
Marcia is the first contestant here with no obvious or glaring examples of malpractice. She threatened Rhea passively, but only under the pretense that Rhea was having an affair with her husband. She tried to block Shiv from seeing a stroke-recovering Logan, which turned out to be a decent move for every party involved. Marcia’s ability to move in silence among the Roys gives her freedom to be either entrepreneurial or abstinent at any moment, so her regular preference to do right by Logan (within reason)—as well as do right by those who do right by Logan—makes her one of the only Roys who is given the consistent opportunity to backstab without religiously taking the bait.
1 Rava Roy
On any other show, Rava would be a notably nice character. In the moral universe of Succession, she could have a religion named after her. Not only does she strive to make sure her children can have an ongoing relationship with their estranged dad, but she also offers up her home to Kendall’s parade of suits and egos following his secession from the family, even immediately relinquishing wrath against Greg and Kendall for ruining a gift from her godfather.
Rava had all the ingredients thrown at her to be a Tom and suckle Kendall’s teats for gold until they chafed, but she refused. It’s not that greed isn’t her game, it’s that kindness is — regularly offering Kendall counsel and warmth in his most difficult moments. In many ways, Rava’s presence is as a smelling salt for the viewers: a sobering reminder that these other characters aren’t natural or acceptable but lustful idiots who swim in pools of cut diamonds out of hierarchical fear — that you, as an audience member do not have to choose between being a Kendall, a Shiv, or a Roman, but you are most likely a Rava because you’re a person and the other choices aren’t.