Every Main Character In Barry Ranked Worst To Best

"Barry" is one of the best shows on HBO right now. Although the series has competed at the Primetime Emmy Awards in the comedy categories, it's hard to call "Barry" a "comedy" anymore. The dark character study of a truly demented man may have a few outrageously funny moments, but it's also very bleak in its worldview. On the plus side, it's allowed Bill Hader to show his true dramatic range, with a performance that is both terrifying and sympathetic.

"Barry" is hardly the first dark comedy about an assassin, but unlike others, it's not a show that pulls its punches. The series pokes fun at Hollywood, the theater industry, and actors' volatile and sometimes dramatic nature, but the satire doesn't detract from the gravity of the material. If anything, it makes everything else hit even harder — and there's no better example than how each of the characters have grown and changed. Here is every main character in "Barry," ranked from worst to best.

15. Detective John Loach

"Barry" has a very cruel sense of humor, and not just because of the violence. The series is unafraid to take characters who are in pain and make them the butt of a joke. This is the case with Detective John Loach (John Pirruccello), the partner of Janice Moss (Paula Newsome). Although they are both investigating Barry and the death of Ryan Madison (Tyler Jacob Moore), Loach keeps getting distracted. Having just broken up with his wife, Loach is unable to concentrate on his duties.

Loach is a sad sack who adds some awkward comedy to the investigative scenes; while Janice is an infinitely more likable character, Loach's breakdowns put her in increasingly challenging situations. She isn't sure how to proceed with the case when her partner can't seem to pull himself together. While this makes Janice a more endearing character, it doesn't give the audience much reason to sympathize with Loach on his own. By a certain point, both Janice and the viewers get a little bit irritated with Loach, and wish that he would simply just "get over it."

Loach doesn't add much to the first season of the series other than a few moments of comedy, but he plays a much more important role in season 2. After the shocking ending of "What?!," Barry and Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root) find themselves performing a secret mission for the heartbroken detective.

14. Albert Nguyen

Albert Nguyen (James Hiroyuki Liao) has one of the most surprising character arcs on the entire series. He is first introduced during the flashbacks in season 2, which show Barry's service in the military overseas. Albert is among the soldiers who encourages, and even applauds, Barry's murder of innocent civilians. While Barry is shocked by what he is capable of, Albert sees his callousness as cause for celebration. This makes Albert an essential piece of Barry's backstory; he's the type of person that Barry is terrified of becoming. 

If Albert had simply stayed as a memory from Barry's past, he might have ranked higher on this list. However, a rather unrealistic storyline in the third season goes in another direction with the character that isn't quite as compelling. When Albert returns in season 3, we learn that he's become an FBI agent. He travels to Los Angeles to meet with the police investigators looking into Barry's case. 

Albert's reappearance is a great way to show that Barry hasn't left his past behind him, but it seems implausible that Albert would become a totally different person in such a short amount of time. It's impossible to root for Albert during the investigative scenes; even though Barry needs to be held accountable for his crimes, Albert is simply callous and rude.

13. Goran Pazar

The first season of "Barry" has some devastating moments, but there are other aspects that are simply goofy. The Chechen mobster Goran Pazar (Glenn Fleshler) is an over-the-top, silly character who feels plucked out of a broader comedy like "Grosse Pointe Blank."

Goran adds a lot of humor to the series, as his playful interactions with NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) show that life in the Chechen Mafia isn't as serious as it's made out to be in movies. There are a lot of great moments when Goran has to put aside his criminal dealings in order to deal with his daughter's birthday party.

It's inherently funny to see an actor like Flesher in a role like this, as he is best known for playing intimidating characters on HBO shows like "Boardwalk Empire" and "True Detective." There's a refreshing simplicity to Gorn; he only hires Barry in the first place to get revenge on Ryan for sleeping with his wife. However, Goran is a more one-note character than those added in later seasons.

12. Mae Dunn

Following Moss' shocking death at the end of the first season, Loach needed a new partner to work with. Mae Dunn (Sarah Burns) is introduced in a somewhat similar capacity to Moss; her upbeat, hard-working spirit only makes Loach's downbeat depression funnier. However, elements of their relationship feel too similar to Loach's interactions with Moss. It felt like the show was getting repetitive. Although Dunn is charmingly sincere, the investigative scenes in season 2 don't have much impact on the rest of the story. As a result, these scenes are among the few moments in "Barry" that feel like filler.

Thankfully, Dunn is given a more significant role in season 3, which gives her a slightly higher ranking on this list. The police investigation actually becomes a threat to Barry's status quo. It also puts the audience in a challenging situation — should we be rooting for someone like Barry to get away? Dunn reminds the viewer that, despite how charming Barry can be, he's still a ruthless man who has never been held accountable for his crimes.

11. Jim Moss

The third season of "Barry" does a great job at holding Barry accountable for his past crimes. Although his victims never leave his mind, Barry hasn't really taken the time to consider the impact that his actions have on their families. Season 3 reinforces this theme by introducing Janice's father, Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom). Jim learns details about Barry's involvement in his daughter's murder after a conversation with Fuches.

Jim subverts our expectations in the way that he expresses his grief. While it's clear that the loss of Janice is weighing heavily on him, he doesn't break down in tears or ask people to take pity on him. Jim's commitment to seeing justice served only signifies that he is determined to honor his daughter's memory. It's particularly powerful to watch Jim converse with Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler); even though Gene is a victim of Barry's lies, he's also somewhat culpable for his survival.

Jim adds a powerful dramatic presence to the third season of "Barry," and it's nice to see that the show is comfortable introducing characters who don't have a sense of humor at all. Jim could even rank higher on this list if his role in season 4 has a similar impact.

10. Leo Cousineau

Gene Cousineau has never been held accountable for his irresponsible behavior, even if his crimes include serial infidelity, and not murder. This is particularly distressing when it comes to Gene's inability to care for his son, Leo (Andrew Leeds). Gene takes it on himself to right the wrongs of his past by reconnecting with Leo, who now has a family of his own. Although Leo initially wants nothing to do with his father, he gradually begins to accept Gene back into his life after he realizes that the older man's efforts are sincere.

Leo is interesting because he is completely unlike his father. He doesn't seek fame or fortune, and he's comfortable living a simple life outside of the Hollywood system. Further, Leo's initial resistance towards Gene's advances makes sense. He has lived almost his entire life on his own, and he's more or less forgotten about the man who wasn't there to raise him. The show does a great job at giving both characters time to heal.

It's particularly powerful to see Leo come to his father's aid when he's wrongfully imprisoned for Janice's death. Leo recognizes that, while his father isn't perfect, he's no murderer. He may have even ranked higher here if he was given more screen time.

9. Chris Lucado

There isn't a character on "Barry" who is more consequential in the show's tonal shift than Chris Lucado (Chris Marquette). Chris is one of Barry's buddies from the military. After Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg) encourages Barry to reach out to old friends, he decides to message Chris. Although Barry initially enjoys spending time with his former comrade, his ethics are compromised when they decide to go on a mercenary mission with a couple of other ex-soldiers, Vaughn (Marcus Brown) and Taylor (Dale Pavinski).

Chris provides an interesting counterbalance to Barry. Unlike Barry, he was able to move on after his time in the service and have a family and a functional life. Chris is both charming and imperfect. Although it's not clear why he's friends with volatile men like Vaughn and Taylor, it does seem like Chris is willing to treat most people with kindness. Even though Chris' time on the show is cut short, his absence becomes very important in season 3.

8. Natalie Greer

"Barry" does an excellent job at steadily giving characters more to do over time. Natalie Greer (D'Arcy Carden) is mostly a background character in the first two seasons, but she plays a very important role in season 3, when she becomes Sally's personal assistant. Although Natalie strives to find success like Gene and Sally, she is not willing to sacrifice her personal ethics in order to further her career. The warmth that Natalie shows to the other actors in Gene's class shows the bonds that grow between performers who are all trying to "make it."

Natalie also shows that she has an informed perspective on her privileges. When Sally is offended by Barry's outburst during an acting session, Natalie explains that no one else in the class can relate to his situation. Barry served in the military and witnessed atrocities that they can't even imagine; perhaps, they could learn from him if they were willing to listen. It's inspiring to see Natalie gain more agency in season 3, especially when she reveals Sally's abusive nature to the press. Natalie has worked hard to become a showrunner, but she hasn't forgotten where she came from.

7. Cristobal Sifuentes

There aren't a lot of characters on "Barry" who are quite as charismatic as the Bolivian mobster Cristobal Sifuentes (Michael Irby). Initially, Barry is hired by the Chechens to take over a landing strip where the Bolivians are operating. After Barry's team botches the attempt, Goran and Hank are surprised that Cristobal and his men don't respond with violence.

While most comedy shows would simply hint at Cristobal and Hanks' mutual attraction to each other, "Barry" shows these two characters becoming intimate. It makes sense why this pair would fall in love: Although they've both chosen a life of crime, they're trapped within the confines of societal restrictions. The other Bolivians are not willing to accept Cristobal's sexuality. Similarly, Hank is bullied by Goran, and feels like he has something to prove.

Cristobal and Hank are simply delightful together. Even if they're just talking about wine and "Percy Jackson," it's nice to see a relatively healthy couple on a show that often focuses on abusive relationships.

6. Detective Janice Moss

Janice provides a great example of the show's unique sense of humor. For the plot, it was necessary for Barry to be pursued by some sort of law enforcement officer, but Janice's quirky nature makes scenes that could have been dryly expositional utterly delightful.

Her situation isn't that of a typical cop on a show like this, either. Janice's story takes an unexpected twist when she begins to fall in love with Gene. They couldn't be any more different: Gene is a wild, irresponsible schemer, and Janice is a practical woman who's focused on her career. However, they're both at a stage in their lives when they find themselves wanting more, and their romantic interactions are simply hilarious, compounded by Janice's ethical dilemma as she begins investigating Gene's class. It's interesting to watch her professional and personal obligations clashing as she searches for a happy medium.

5. Monroe Fuches

"Barry" has done a great job at hinting at Fuches' past with Barry without spelling everything out entirely. It's suggested that, after Barry left the Marines, Fuches inspired him to become a hitman by taking advantage of his trauma. We don't know a whole lot about Barry's family, but it's implied that Fuches has become a paternal figure to him during their time together.

Fuches can also pivot being utterly hilarious to downright detestable. He continues to manipulate the other characters and pit them against each other. At one point, he tries to have Barry killed, and later attempts to pin Janice's death on Gene. However, Fuches isn't necessarily an outright villain. He and Barry both come to each other's aid at critical points in the series. Perhaps they are always drawn back to each other because of their history together.

Fuches has a lot of great moments in season 2, particularly when he and Barry have to team up in "ronny/lily." However, he doesn't rank any higher because his role in season 3 is somewhat diminished.

4. Sally Reed

Sally's character arc is truly a rollercoaster ride. She's both a victim and an abuser, and can be both kind and cruel. Sally is ambitious and self-confident, and she sometimes goes too far in her attempts to achieve her goals. Unlike the other students in Gene's class, Sally has no sense of loyalty to her fellow performers. However, it doesn't feel like Sally is being cruel on purpose; it's suggested that the only person she is trying to prove anything to is herself.

Goldberg does a great job at capturing Sally's trauma when we learn more about her past in season 2. At one point, Sally is confronted by her abusive ex-husband Sam (Joe Massingill), who attempts to re-enter her life. She isn't ready to address their relationship, and she's uncomfortable about revealing anything to Barry.

Sally is put in a fascinating dilemma at the end of season 2. After her performance in a autobiographical scene becomes a sensation, she struggles to be the public face of female victims. Sally feels both guilty and empowered about taking ownership of her past. It's a complex situation beautifully brought to life by Goldberg's moving performance.

3. Gene Cousineau

Who would have thought that Fonzie from "Happy Days" would end up being one of the most heartbreaking characters on television? Henry Winkler has had many great roles, but "Barry" contains the performance of his career. It feels right that someone with Winkler's experience is playing this character. Gene has dedicated his entire life to show business, and he's seen both the good and bad sides of the industry.

The great thing about Gene is that it feels like he's constantly putting on a performance of some sort. When he's instructing his class, he presents himself as a veteran with more success than he actually has. He imagines himself as a mentor to Barry, even though he failed his own son. He tries to act mature when he meets with Janice in order to flirt with her, and even tries to portray himself as a more caring man when he reconnects with Leo.

These aren't inconsistencies in the writing. Rather, they show that Gene is never truly comfortable with his life and his choices. It makes the moments when he is completely sincere even more powerful.

2. NoHo Hank

In the first season, Hank is mostly just a funny underling of Goran's who shows some sympathy to Barry. However, Hank is burdened with more responsibility in season 2 when he takes control of the Chechen operation. Even during the most harrowing moments of the series, Hank adds great moments of humor via his upbeat attitude. His relationship with Cristobal becomes much more emotional as the two men realize they don't belong in the world of crime.

Hank would rank high on this list based on his comedic contributions alone, but he somehow becomes one of the most tragic characters in the series in season 3. After Cristobal is kidnapped, Hank travels to Bolivia in search of his boyfriend. It shows that even someone as silly as Hank is willing to stand up for someone that he cares about. When Hank is forced to listen to his fellow Chechens get eaten alive by a panther in "starting now," it's one of the most grotesquely memorable moments on "Barry"; it's a delicately horrifying sequence that isn't funny in the slightest.

1. Barry Berkman

Perhaps it seems a little obvious to put the titular character in the number 1 spot, but it's hard to not be in awe of what Hader has accomplished on "Barry." Barry goes beyond a simple anti-hero. He's a villain who's capable of horrible things, yet he's also a traumatized man who has never received the support that he needs. "Barry" forces the audience to invest in the central character, even though they know he is bound to screw up again and again. Although Barry constantly swears he's going to put his past behind him, he can't stop himself from going back to the life of an assassin.

It wouldn't be outrageous to compare Hader's work here to Bryan Cranston's performance on "Breaking Bad." Who would have thought that the wacky guy from "Saturday Night Live" could be so terrifying? Even though the series has many brutal moments, Hader still adds a sense of levity to the show through his awkward nature. It's a challenging tonal balance, and one that he pulls off perfectly.