10 Worst Things The Roys Have Done In Succession

Nobody does evil quite like the Roys. The media dynasty at the heart of HBO's Emmy-winning comedy-drama series "Succession" rules America's airwaves with an iron fist, and the Roys themselves are equal parts ruthless, cruel, abusive, dysfunctional, and delusional. Maybe it's no surprise, then, that over the course of the show's four seasons, they have committed a slew of appalling acts against each other, themselves, and the people who surround them. For the family behind Waystar Royco, the company that does "rollercoasters and hate speech," this is all par for the course.

Every episode of "Succession" is packed to the rafters with wicked deeds. In fact, you could probably count the number of good things the Roys have done on one hand — and that's pretty much the show's whole appeal. Every now and then, though, somebody does something so awful, so utterly lacking in humanity, that this undeniably hilarious series suddenly becomes anything but. From cover-ups to cruises and everything in between, here are the 10 worst things the Roys have done in "Succession."

The waiter

You probably don't remember the name Andrew Dodds (Tom Morley), but you're bound to remember his face: He's the waiter who dies in a car crash after Shiv's (Sarah Snook) wedding. In "Nobody is Ever Missing," the Season 1 finale, Andrew's car hurtles into a river after a relapsing Kendall (Jeremy Strong) drives them both to score cocaine; Ken's guilt over this incident propels much of his storyline for the rest of the series.

Two seasons later, when Kendall finally tells Shiv and Roman (Kieran Culkin) that he "killed a kid," Roman points out that it sounds like the waiter killed himself — if anything, he claims, Kendall's repeated attempts to rescue Andrew from the bottom of the river makes him a hero. Obviously, Roman is wrong. Yes, Kendall tries to save Andrew, and he deserves some credit for that, but that doesn't mitigate the role he played in the accident. It was Kendall who approached Andrew, Kendall who suggested they go buy some coke, and Kendall who got behind the wheel.

It's also worth remembering that, despite feeling a tremendous amount of regret over the waiter's death, Ken never confesses his involvement to the authorities. Even when he meets Andrew's grieving family in Season 2, he keeps quiet, a decision that both denies the Dodds the truth about their son's death and opens himself up to blackmail.

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Smoke, mirrors, and blackmail

Logan (Brian Cox) deduces his son's involvement in Andrew Dodds' death after one of his "guys" finds Kendall's room keycard near the crash site. A good father would no doubt struggle with this information. Do you confront him? Do you give him up to the police? It's an unenviable position, to be sure — however, Logan Roy is not a good father.

In the closing moments of "Succession" Season 1, Logan informs Kendall that he knows the truth about the dead waiter. "This could be the defining event of your life," he tells him. "It'd eat everything." And then, in a move that's shocking even for a Machiavellian monster like Logan, he demands that Kendall pull out of the attempted takeover of Waystar Royco, suggesting that, if Kendall agrees, they can simply accept Andrew's death as a "sad little detail at a lovely wedding where father and son were reconciled."

Notably, this episode never shows us the moment Logan learns about Kendall's tragedy; the implication here, of course, is that there wasn't a reaction worth showing. Despite his grotesque fatherly posturing at the end of the blackmail scene, Logan simply doesn't care about the impact the crash might have had on his son, and he certainly doesn't care about the boy who was killed. Instead, he seizes the opportunity to eliminate a threat and put Kendall back in his place. It's easy to imagine that this breed of callous politicking comes as second nature to a man who operates a mass media corporation, but to see it inflicted on family leaves a particularly sour taste in the mouth.

The million dollar check

A great TV pilot establishes its main characters so effectively that, in the space of a single scene or less, the audience learns who they are, what they're like, and what they want. Case in point: the first episode of "Succession."

Toward the end of "Celebration," the Roys decamp from Logan's birthday party to play baseball on the family estate. When Kendall departs midgame to take care of some business, Roman ropes in the groundskeeper's son to replace him. Apparently hoping to "incentivize" the kid after a couple of strikes, Roman offers him a cool $1 million if he can hit a home run, even writing out the check there and then. The boy almost succeeds, too, until Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) tags him out at the very last moment. And here's the kicker: Roman, in fits of laughter, strides up to the heartbroken boy and rips up the check before his very eyes.

As far as setting up Roman's character goes, this is a bona fide genius piece of screenwriting. It's exactly the kind of psychotic stunt you'd expect an immature rich kid to pull — one that brings to mind such infamous controversies as the alleged initiation ceremony at Oxford University's Bullingdon Club, in which members reportedly burned £50 notes in front of homeless people. It also leaves you in no doubt that Roman's capacity for sadism is utterly unparalleled. Hell, Logan of all people — who comforts the boy and has Colin (Scott Nicholson) pay off his family — comes out of this scene looking good in comparison. And that tells you everything you need to know about Roman Roy.

Shiv's proposal

Shiv and Tom's disastrous marriage has provided plenty of heartache over the last few seasons of "Succession," but arguably their most brutal scene takes place on their wedding night, in the Season 1 finale.

Tom and Shiv are barely through the door of the bridal suite when Shiv decides to confess that she has been having an affair with Nate (Ashley Zuckerman), her old friend and fellow political strategist. This isn't a noble admission, either — thanks to a tip-off from Greg (Nicholas Braun), Tom is already fully aware of what's going on. Worse still, Shiv spends half of her confession attempting to justify her infidelity on the basis of their "unspoken agreement." She also tells Tom that she's just not cut out for monogamy, describes their future together as a "box-set death march," and immediately lays out a desperate pitch for an open marriage. By the end of the scene, she has convinced Tom, a man who genuinely adores her, that love is "bulls**t."

No matter what she likes to believe, Shiv is easily as hard-hearted as any of her blood relatives, and this scene is exactly what happens when you place a hard heart into the death throes of a damaged relationship. There's no contrition, no apology, no willingness to work at their marriage; all she can do is shirk blame and fight, despite Tom wanting to do anything but. It's a masterclass in cruelty.

Logan's abuse

At the end of "Austerlitz," Season 1's seventh episode, Logan takes a dip in his swimming pool, revealing a back covered in scars. Elsewhere, he tells his children that his uncle, Noah, used to beat him as a child. Many researchers have posited the concept of intergenerational cycles of abuse, and so it's perhaps unsurprising that, in "Succession," Logan himself inflicts physical torment on his children and grandchildren.

In the show's first season, Logan hits Kendall's son, Iverson, after losing a memory game. It's hinted at various points that Iverson might be neurodivergent, something Logan is apparently unable to accept or understand. While much of the family blames the incident on Logan's recent stroke, it seems quite clear that this act of abuse is driven more by anger and frustration than anything else.

Later, "Succession" offers a rare glimpse into the Roy siblings' past in "Argestes," when an enraged Logan slaps Roman after Shiv refers to him as a "dinosaur" during a live panel discussion. Rome remains blasé about the attack, while Logan insists that he didn't make contact — these reactions are typical of a real-life phenomenon known as minimization, in which both abusers and the abused downplay the extent of the violence inherent in their relationship. We may have only seen a couple of instances in which Logan has struck out physically, but both of these events suggest that the Roy patriarch's history of abuse — both given and received — runs much, much deeper.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

The empty chair

Halfway through Season 2, things aren't looking all that great for Kendall. He's trapped inside his father's pocket, his siblings despise him for his attempted coup against Logan, and he can't escape the crushing guilt he feels over Andrew Dodds' death.

In "Return," the season's seventh episode, Ken, Shiv, and Roman are sent to England to make sure Caroline (Harriet Walter), their mother, is willing to vote against Sandy and Stewy's hostile takeover. Late at night, after the business is concluded — that is, after Caroline is given what she wants — Kendall approaches her and asks to speak to her about something he has done that he "doesn't feel great about." Caroline claims to be "a bit tired for home truths" and asks if they can speak in the morning, but the next day she's gone, leaving nothing more than an off-handed apology for missing the kids' departure.

"Succession" makes no secret of the fact that Caroline was, at best, an emotionally absent mother to her children, but it's still hard to stomach her abandonment of Kendall. This is her son, a man well-known for his history of depression and addiction, asking for help in a state of distress — and she shrugs him off without a second thought. It is, of course, no coincidence that this episode comes right off the back of Logan slapping Roman in "Argestes"; we don't see Caroline as often in "Succession," but it's evident that her neglect affected the Roy children just as much as Logan's abuse.

A deal with the devil

If "Return" didn't tell you enough about Caroline's relationship with her children, "All the Bells Say," the Season 3 finale, leaves you in no doubt whatsoever.

At the end of the episode, the Roy kids realize that Logan is about to sell Waystar Royco to Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård), the CEO of an up-and-coming tech company who obviously has no intention of allowing them to claim their legacies. Hoping to pull the rug out from under their father, the children utilize a clause in Logan and Caroline's divorce agreement that gives them enough voting shares to prevent the supermajority necessary for a change in company control. By the time they confront him, however, it's too late. Thanks to a tip-off from Tom, Logan has already gotten to Caroline, who happily sold out the kids' voting rights in exchange for a London townhouse and a peerage for her new husband.

Despite the mask she wears, Caroline's ruthless business acumen is more than a match for the other Roys — so maybe we shouldn't be too surprised that she'd be willing to destroy her kids' futures in exchange for a quick buck. And, in typical Carolinian fashion, she can't even face up to her betrayal, instead spewing out a flurry of excuses before hanging up and leaving the children to their fates. She may not share their last name, but Caroline is a Roy, through and through.

Sins of the father

The fallout from the scandal surrounding Waystar's cruise ship division spans multiple seasons. It creeps into the show's narrative early on as a hapless Tom attempts to shred the evidence of his predecessors' crimes and then, later, explodes into a full-blown catastrophe. What are we talking about here? Oh, the usual: harassment, sexual assault, drug overdoses, mysterious deaths, pay-offs, cover-ups, NDAs — and the senior management at Waystar knew about all of it.

By the end of Season 2, it's beginning to look like cruises might spell the end for Logan Roy. Desperate to throw the "sharks" off the scent, he decides to offer up a blood sacrifice to take the blame, despite knowing that the person in question will likely be sent to prison. In "This Is Not For Tears," the season finale, he makes his choice: Kendall.

Logan believes (mistakenly, as it turns out) that Kendall will go quietly because he has acquiesced to his father's blackmail. And sure, maybe it's a shrewd move, but that doesn't make Logan's choice any less morally repugnant. What kind of man forces his son to go to prison to cover up his own crimes? Wait, don't answer that — I think we already know.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Carrot and stick

Logan isn't the only Roy to come out of the cruise ship scandal looking terrible. Shiv learns every sordid detail of Waystar's latest PR catastrophe soon after Tom becomes embroiled in the cover-up. Although something must be said for her decision to keep silent over the matter, Shiv's tacit approval of Waystar's crimes pales in comparison to her confrontation with one of the victims.

In Season 2, Episode 9, "DC," Logan sends Shiv and Rhea Jarrell (Holly Hunter) to coerce Kira (Sally Murphy), a witness in the cruise ship scandal, into backing out of a Congressional hearing led by Shiv's old boss, Gil Eavis (Eric Bogosian). Demonstrating the kind of basic sense of humanity that will later compel her to walk away from Waystar and the Roys, Rhea refuses to approach Kira. Shiv, however, has no such qualms. During their meeting, Kira tells Shiv that she has been harassed by Waystar goons, who have approached her home at night, visited her at work, and sent her "weird email stuff." Shiv, apparently in full wedding-night mode, feigns shock and horror — and then, in practically the same breath, offers Kira a bribe, attacks the integrity of the Congressional panel, and promises Kira her life will be "ripped apart" if she goes public.

I'm not sure how else to say this, so let's just be frank about it: Bullying sexual assault victims into silence is, ethically-speaking, kind of a no-no. Shiv is fully aware of the crimes that have been committed against women like Kira, and yet, despite her liberal facade, she's perfectly happy to play attack dog for her wretched father. That we don't even know whether she does this to gain approval from Logan or to stick one to Gil and Nate makes this one all the worse.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).


It's hard to understate the monstrosity of the cruise ship scandal. Every new morsel of information "Succession" offers about Waystar's cruise line seems to bring the company and the people who run it to a new low.

Take the late Lester McClintock, for example. Lester was an old guard board member at Waystar who, it later turns out, frequented the company's cruise ships. It also becomes clear that Lester was deeply involved in the incidents that took place during these voyages — something that pretty much everyone at Waystar knew, considering he was commonly known to senior employees as "Mo" Lester.

Of course, Waystar's cruise line catastrophe went far beyond the crimes of one man. Early on in the show, it seems that only Bill Lockheart, the ex-head of the cruise division, was embroiled in the scandal-to-be. Later, however, the list grows: Tom and Greg get their hands dirty in no time at all, Shiv learns about it from Tom, and, in "DC," a whistleblower claims that both Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) and Kendall ran oversight on Bill's cover-up. These individuals all contributed to the toxic corporate environment that allowed the utilization of cruise ship "shadow logs," led to the casual dismissal of victims as "NRPs," and contributed to myriad rapes, killings, and other terrible crimes. But hey — for the Roys and their lackeys, it's all part of the game.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).