Succession Characters Ranked by the Severity of Their InsultsPhoto Courtesy of HBO TV Lists Succession
Succession is renowned for its outlandish, scathing quips that continuously rebalance the power rankings in the Roy family and Waystar Royco hierarchy.
From Logan’s cutting digs and Shiv’s cold-hearted comments to Tom’s mere scramble to keep up with his family-in-law, Succession is a fruitful show for serving up hard-hitting insults, and very few characters are left without a killer one-liner.
After four seasons, the show stretches far beyond a courteous “fuck off” and has delivered some of the best (and wildest) on-screen verbal abuse in recent years.
As the finale of the fourth season brings the HBO hit to a close, it’s time to establish the final hierarchy of the characters in the Waystar Royco food chain that is based on the lasting severity of their sting.
9. Cousin Greg
At the bottom of the chain of command and this list is cousin Greg. As one half of the “disgusting brothers,” Greg is known for his observational, bumbling quips that have left him as little more than the court jester.
In Season 4, when Logan parades around the office floor, Greg tells Tom: “It’s like Jaws. If everyone in Jaws worked for Jaws.” It seems on the whole that Nicholas Braun’s character offers some light relief with cheap insults such as Logan “looks like Santa Claus as a hit man.”
In short, Greg lacks the fatal instinct possessed by the rest of his family; he hedges his bets, doubts his opinions, and is never the one to deliver that world-changing blow. For instance, he says: “I think you’d agree, Roman, that you’re a self-admitted—sorry, I don’t know how you’d say this in your language—but a, a, uh, a sexual pervert.”
8. Connor Roy
It won’t come as much of a surprise that the Roy family politician comes in second to last. As the eldest son of the infamous patriarch, Connor is more contemplative than his siblings and has endeavored to forge a life outside of the business.
In Season 4, Connor shares his thoughts freely, such as calling his siblings “needy love sponges,” but only to bring the conversation back to his own philosophical musings. He feels like a “plant on the rock” who has hardened himself to live without love, which he calls his “superpower.”
Now and again, he dabbles in the unstable family dynamics by dipping his toe back in a comment like “I’m not saying I’d make a better CEO. That’s unsaid,” but Connor never defiantly acts on it. Alan Ruck’s character would rather stay out of the real conflict and straddle both sides of the argument (between his siblings and their dad) to never lose favor with either.
7. Lukas Mattsson
As a relative newcomer to the cast, Alexander Skarsgård as Lukas Mattsson has relished in tormenting Kendall and Roman throughout the sale of their company in Seasons 3 and 4.
Yet, it’s on his own turf at the contemporary Scandinavian stronghold nestled in a fjord, that the family get a real taste of Lukas’ calculated side. Upon meeting Greg, he quips: “I thought you were the backwash at the bottom of the gene pool, but this is something else.”
He continuously swipes at Roman and Kendall for their incompetence when it comes to finalizing the deal and their futile attempts to overthrow it. Lukas goes so far as to say that their recently deceased father would be ashamed of them. He adds: “I think he’d be embarrassed if he saw you two now, his two big boys playing Scooby Doos.” Say what you will about this Norwegian, but disrespecting a dead man only days after his own death to his grieving children is pretty cold.
6. Gerri Kellman
The matriarchal figure in Succession and Waystar Royco has arguably survived the reign of Logan Roy in part because she isn’t afraid to deliver some brutal feedback when provoked by the Roy children.
Her favorite target is the bratty middle child Roman, who has a disturbing sexual fascination with her telling him off, as we discovered back in Season 2. Gerri has no issue with scorning him as “acting like an over-excited little boy,” a “sick fucking animal,” or throwing in that he has “always been a disappointment.”
Another favorite is when she calls Roman a “little slime puppy” and delivers the brutal blow: “This is why you’ll never be anything other than a disgrace, a rotten little nothing.” The ruthless comments throughout all four seasons have made her a firm contender in this list.
Equally, despite her extensive time as the family’s long-time legal counsel, Gerri also isn’t shy about laying into her late boss and her new one who she sees as a “weak monarch.”
Ahead of their meeting with Lukas, she tells her co-workers:
“They may think they’re Vikings, but we’ve been raised by wolves, exposed to a pathogen that goes by the name of Logan Roy—and they have no idea what’s coming to them.”
5. Tom Wambsgans
In some ways, Tom is a novice playing an age-old game of passing insults in the Roy family. He attempts to keep up, but sometimes struggles to meet the high bar that is set, reverting to childish, random digs.
When swapping playground-style insults with his estranged wife Shiv in Season 4, he quips: “Your earlobes are thick and chewy, like barnacle meat.” Alongside Shiv, Tom’s other partner in crime, Greg, is the target of many of his bizarre comparisons and name-calling like “dickwad.” He tells him: “Greg, this is not fucking Charles Dickens World, okay? You don’t go around talking about principles. Man the fuck up!”
He’s also happy to dish out snobby thoughts whenever he can, as he tells Greg about his date: “She’s brought a ludicrously capacious bag. What’s even in there, huh? Flat shoes for the subway? Her lunch pail? I mean, Greg, it’s monstrous. It’s gargantuan. You could take it camping. You could slide it across the floor after a bank job.”
Though sometimes Tom strips it all back, stops playing the game, and delivers some of the coldest lines in the show. He tells Shiv, “I wonder if the sad I’d be without you would be less than the sad I get from being with you.”
4. Roman Roy
As the mediating middle child of Logan Roy, it’s not surprising that Roman comes to his dad’s defense on several occasions and lashes out at his siblings as they attempt to eradicate him from the business and their lives.
Roman frequently reprimands Kendall for threatening his dad’s health and pushing things too far, which lead to outbursts such as: “Thank you so much for your concern, like you give a fuck! You probably slipped him something, Putin.” He also loves to torment his brother about Ken’s relationship with his mother too, as he signs off a call in Season 3 with: “Just wanted to let you know Mommy still doesn’t love you. Bye, Ken.”
He also tells Ken that his mother would prefer giving birth to a “can opener because at least then it would be useful.” While he describes Shiv as a “frozen bitch” whose life is “the dance of the sugar-plum failure.”
Roman does give as good as he gets from his siblings, but in a childish way he always anchors his harsh words into his sibling’s strained relationship with their parents. His insults are also thrown at the wider family, including calling Tom the “fucking Hercule Poirot of fucking piss.”
3. Shiv Roy
As the only woman in the Roy family, Shiv often gets lumped with a worse rep than she deserves. However, it is undeniable that she has a sadistic interest in hurting the people she supposedly loves most.
Shiv is frequently subjected to heated outbursts of verbal abuse from her father, and witnesses the hate-fueled treatment of her three brothers—and she isn’t afraid to address it. She slams her dad as a “human gaslight” and an “ice man,” while back in Season 1 Shiv questioned: “Oh, a chapel. Do you think dad will be able to cross the threshold, or will he spontaneously combust?”
Meanwhile, she is also quick to lash out at her husband Tom, preying on his weakness: his feelings for her. She says to him: “Oh, hello? Is this the replicant department? Yeah, my meat puppet has stopped working.”
There are also some passing snipes that consolidate her high spot in the ranking such as “don’t’ hatch a plan with Connor, the first fucking pancake,” dissing Kendall as a “plastic Jesus,” and asking Roman about his new cologne: “Oh, what is that? Date Rape by Calvin Klein?”
2. Kendall Roy
The second eldest Roy son has the misfortune of being just like his dad, insults and all. No one is safe from Kendall’s wrath, as he turns on each member of his family throughout all four seasons.
Kendall doesn’t sugarcoat his opinions, and there are few childish quips or misplaced digs—every single comment he fires out decimates its mark. In some way Ken deludes himself, as he doesn’t see himself as mean but rather the giver of harsh truths, sharing his opinion in a direct way.
He tells Shiv: “You tell yourself you’re a good person, but you’re not a good person.” While he labels Greg as a “little Machiavellian fuck” and Roman a “fucking moron,” as Kendall tells his “national fucking prick” brother Connor: “Well, fine. You’re irrelevant.”
Kendall’s insults are rarely fired in a heat of rage, but mixed into his conversations to inflict the most damage, as he doesn’t lose his composed, smug exterior. He calls his dad “kind of evil,” before he later tells him in a disagreement: “This just doesn’t work for me. So, fuck you and God bless.”
It’s this calm sinister nature that secures Kendall second place in this ranking. After all, very few people could deliver this line with a straight face: “I’m going to lock you in a golden cage, fuck you with a silver dildo, and pay you so much you sing whatever song I want.”
1. Logan Roy
At the end of the day, there was only ever one character who would take this prestigious top spot: Logan Roy (Brian Cox). Hot headed, manipulative, and cruel are some of the best ways to describe the CEO’s behavior to his staff, and most significantly his children, prior to his demise.
It became clear in Season 1 that Logan was not someone to cushion the blow, regardless of the circumstances. He said about a Waystar board member: “Someone send a telegram to Ilona telling her she’s no longer required, and my best to her cancer.”
He repeatedly hurls verbal abuse at his children, who work to impress him either by taking the company out from underneath him or by trying to be worthy of being chosen as his successor. To Kendall’s competition, Logan threatens: “I’m going to grind his fucking bones to make my bread.”
Logan’s standard greeting is “fuck off” in a professional or personal capacity, as he barks at his youngest, Roman: “What are you waiting for? A kiss? Fuck off!” He also frequently hurls abuse at Roman specifically, who he nicknames “Tumbledown dick” for his ambiguous sexuality. “Just text on your phone, you bendy fuck” he tells Roman, as another time he quips: “I saw your little interview… ‘Ooh I wuv my daddy.’ I never figured you for a faggot.”
Nobody remains unaffected by Logan’s abuse too, as he slams Shiv for being a “fucking sourpuss,” and indirectly tells Kendall (after he stands up to him): “Don’t act like a cunt to me because it won’t fucking wash.”
The worst part of Logan’s cruelty is that has stuck with his children after his death, as seen throughout Season 4. Not only does Logan hold a deadly tongue, but his words have marked, shaped and defined his children’s agenda since the beginning of the show.
Jess Bacon is a freelance culture journalist and editor who loves to over-analyze her favorite TV shows & films. Find her at @jesskbacon
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