Every Ozark Main Character Ranked Worst To Best

"Ozark" is one of the best drama series on television right now, and expectations are high for the sure-to-be thrilling series conclusion coming in 2022. Unlike past seasons, which were 10 episodes long, "Ozark" season 4 will consist of 14 episodes and be divided into two parts, similar to how drama shows like "The Sopranos," "Mad Men," and "Breaking Bad" organized their final seasons. The first seven episodes drop on January 21.

"Ozark" was an unexpected hit in the summer of 2017. Jason Bateman was seen as an unlikely choice to lead a drama series, as he was best known for his comedic roles. Bateman successfully made the leap and crafted one of the darkest and most shocking shows on television. Thanks to Netflix's binge model, "Ozark" quickly became a sensation. While early critics claimed that its money laundering storyline and its exploration of drug cartels made it little more than a "Breaking Bad" clone, "Ozark" quickly established an identity of its own with its shocking twists and strong performances.

"Ozark" is as successful as it is thanks to its incredible ensemble of characters and the great actors who play them. Here are all the main characters on "Ozark," ranked from least interesting to most essential.

14. Darlene Snell

"Ozark" is renowned for its unpredictability and dark humor; the show keeps viewers on their toes thanks to unexpected character decisions, and there is a comedic absurdity to some of its most shocking moments. These traits are embodied by Darlene Snell, a character so unpredictable that she holds no allegiance to anyone. Darlene works closely with her husband Jacob but often clashes with him, and she certainly distrusts the Byrdes.

Jacob and Darlene operate a heroin smuggling trade in the Ozarks, but, despite their criminal lifestyle, Darlene desperately seeks a child. Conflict brews between her and Jacob, and she lashes out when he attempts to betray her. As time goes on, Darlene continues to be a thorn in Marty's side, but she develops a surprisingly protective attitude towards Ruth. Darlene's romantic life takes an unexpected turn in the 3rd season when she begins a relationship with Wyatt Langmore, and the uncomfortable nature of their relationship is why she ranks so low on this list.

13. Helen Pierce

"Ozark" continued to add new cast members throughout the series' run. Janet McTeer's brief appearances as the ruthless attorney of the Navarro cartel gang in season 2 turned into a major role in the 3rd. Initially, the Byrdes' operation is seemingly successful, which is enough for them to deal with Helen Pierce directly. However, Marty is immediately at odds with Helen, and their resentment for each other grows after she waterboards Ruth for information.

Helen moves to the Ozarks herself during the 3rd season, and she brings her teenage daughter Erin with her. While neither character is particularly likable, Erin evokes some audience sympathy, given that she is completely in the dark about her mother's line of work. As such, Helen becomes enraged when Ben reveals the truth to Erin, shattering their fragile mother-daughter bond. Helen ultimately perishes during a visit to Omar, who decides that she's no longer necessary to his operation, making her a non-factor for the series' endgame and hurting her overall standing here.

12. Russ Langmore

The Langmore clan doesn't have a traditional leader, but Russ is often the closest thing the chaotic family has to a voice of reason. While his brother Cade is brutal and Boyd isn't the brightest, at the very least Russ cares for his sons, Wyatt and Three. He frequently clashes with Ruth, whose headstrong personality pushes the Langmores into more daring activities than the small-town crimes they generally commit.

Russ immediately dislikes Marty, but Marty isn't the only new visitor to the Ozarks who disrupts his life. Russ becomes a fishing guide for FBI Agent Roy Petty when the fed asks for a local perspective, and is shocked when Petty begins to make romantic advances on him. Initially in denial, Russ rebuffs Petty, but eventually admits his feelings, and the two begin a secret relationship. However, Russ leaves the show fairly quickly, so while he's a complex and interesting character, he falls short of some of the others.

11. Jacob Snell

Marty may have traveled to the Ozarks in search of safety, but the Missouri lakeside community boasts some dangerous figures of its own. Among the most prominent is Jacob Snell, a local farmer who secretly operates a massive heroin smuggling organization alongside his wife, Darlene. Jacob isn't easily fooled by Marty's business proposals, and their alliance forces the Byrdes to make major adjustments to their complex plan.

Jacob is proud and boastful, and works closely with Darlene to examine Marty. He's not about to let some fast-talking "expert" from Chicago disrupt his already successful operation, but Marty's connections to Del and the Navarro clan intrigue him. However, his greed gets the better of him, and Jacob perishes at his wife's hands. Veteran character actor Peter Mullan helps make this unusual character very memorable, but his impact on the show's future is relatively minimal considering his quick removal from the ensemble.

10. Jonah Byrde

The youngest member of the Byrde family, Jonah was never fully comfortable in Chicago. Unlike Charlotte, who had a relatively normal social life, Jonah was an outcast at school, seen as a "freak" by the other kids. Wendy isn't particularly close with her son, but she does fear that he could go down the same dark path that her brother Ben did. The move is a shocking occurrence for Jonah, and upon their arrival he immediately begins researching the drug cartel that his father is involved in.

Jonah takes up archery, and his father begins to teach him the basics of money laundering. While he's still in the dark about many of his parents' activities, Jonah continues to stake out on his own and develop more advanced shooting skills, as he wants to be able to protect his family. Hopefully Jonah's prominence on the show will continue to grow in the final season; while he's an important character, Charlotte is the more prominent of the two Byrde children.

9. Wyatt Langmore

One of the younger members of the Langmore clan, Wyatt stands out from the rest of his family due to his sensitive nature and fierce intelligence. In the chaotic world of "Ozark," Wyatt is often tasked with looking after his younger brother, Three, and the two frequently team up to pull off small-time schemes. Wyatt pretends to be working a part-time job in order to trick Charlotte early on, and is able to steal Marty's cash, leading to the meeting between the Byrde and Langmore families. However, Wyatt ultimately forges a friendship with Charlotte, as they both are discouraged by their parents' professions.

Wyatt is very close with his cousin Ruth, but resists her controlling nature and her desire to be a parental figure to him and Three. Ruth tries to send Wyatt to college, and he struggles with the prospect of leaving home. Wyatt's life takes an unexpected route in the 3rd season when he begins an intimate relationship with Darlene Snell, which moves him down a few slots on our list.

8. Roy Petty

The Byrdes' operation in the Ozarks quickly draws the attention of law enforcement, and the FBI's perspective makes for an interesting contrast to the criminals, thieves, gamblers, and cartel members that make up the show's usual rogue's gallery. The FBI presents a very different type of danger, as a government investigation into the Byrdes' business could only end in disaster. FBI agent Roy Petty ventures directly to the site of Marty's operation in order to look into his crimes, and finds himself integrated into the local community in surprising ways.

Petty is obtuse, and somewhat in denial about his relationship with his partner, Trevor Evans. He is attracted to Russ Langmore and makes aggressive advances towards him, luring the reclusive Langmore boss into a passionate relationship. However, their warring allegiances to different sides of the law drive them apart, and Petty blackmails Russ, suspecting that his family will shun him if they learn of his homosexuality. Ultimately, Petty forces Russ to become his informant — the betrayal is surprisingly heartbreaking. 

Petty's absence from the story is felt in the episodes that have aired since his departure, and none of the law enforcement characters introduced since have been nearly as interesting.

7. Omar Navarro

"Ozark" spotlights many members of the Mexican drug cartel, as Marty's initial employer, Camino Del Rio, kicks off the action when he kills Bruce Liddell and works out an arrangement to let Marty live in the Ozarks. Del is a lieutenant in the Navarro clan, who serve as the primary antagonist group throughout the entire series. The Navarros are renowned for their tight operations and remorseless attitudes, but few are quite as fearsome as Omar Navarro. Omar is introduced in the show's 3rd season, and its shocking ending promises that he'll play an even greater role in season 4.

Omar is the leader of the Navarros, and employs Helen Pierce to manage the Byrdes' new casino in the Ozarks. He's intrigued by the potential profits that their illicit scheme might yield, and puts pressure on Helen to get the operation up and running as quickly as possible. Even when he's not on screen, Omar's presence is felt, as both Helen and the Byrdes know the deadly costs of letting him down. These costs are evident when Omar decides to execute Helen. Of all the Navarro clan members who appear on "Ozark," Omar is by far the most memorable. He's perhaps the scariest character on the entire show.

6. Cade Langmore

The violent world of "Ozark" means that some of the most compelling characters are short-lived. Wyatt and Threes' father, Cade, is a dangerous figure in the Ozark community, but he's taken out in brutal fashion during the show's 2nd season finale. Although it was certainly a shocking moment, viewers may or may not have been heartbroken to see him go, as Cade's cruelty towards Ruth and the Byrdes made him an unlikeable character throughout the series' run.

Cade is introduced in the 1st season when Ruth seeks his advice on how to deal with Marty. Cade has been imprisoned for a series of dangerous crimes, and suggests that Ruth and Russ kill Marty in order to take over his business. Upon his release, he threatens Ruth when he discovers that Marty is still alive. He goes on to create more chaos in the Ozarks, even killing Roy Petty when he's out on a fishing trip. Cade's reign of terror finally ends when one of Helen's henchmen shoots him, but his actions continue to have ramifications on the series' later events.

5. Charlotte Byrde

Although many were quick to compare "Ozark" to "Breaking Bad," one key difference between the shows is that the children on "Ozark" are rarely in the dark about what their parents are doing. Early on in the 1st season, Wendy informs her children Charlotte and Jonah that their father launders money for the cartel. It's a shocking revelation, but Charlotte soon becomes more than just a bearer of secrets. She finds that her sharp ability to read people, which she inherited from her mother, makes her an asset in her parents' operation.

Charlotte wasn't particularly close with her younger brother Jonah prior to their move, and the two frequently sparred. They become closer as their lives are endangered, forcing Charlotte to shed much of her childhood innocence. She develops romantic feelings for Wyatt, but the two never have a consistent relationship. Charlotte takes on more responsibility in the 3rd season when she becomes the public relations manager for the casino that her father operates; she clearly is a big part of the future direction "Ozark" is headed.

4. Ben Davis

The 3rd season of "Ozark" was its best to date. Season 1 was effective in quickly establishing stakes, creating memorable characters, and developing a chaotic, darkly humorous tone. Despite its high kill count and savage nature, "Ozark" generated empathy for the Byrdes as they faced the challenges of adjusting to their new reality. However, the 2nd season lost the emotional thread among a confusing set of subplots. The 3rd season didn't just pit the Byrdes against their toughest ventures yet, but returned the heart to the series.

Much of that heart came from the introduction of Wendy's brother Ben Davis, whose history was only hinted at in earlier seasons. Ben gets a memorable introductory sequence in which his part time job as a substitute teacher goes awry after he throws his students' phones in a woodchipper and gets into a violent brawl. It's later revealed that Ben suffers from a bipolar disorder, and that he can also be affable, charming, and even sweet.

Ben's visit to his sister, who he cares deeply for, disrupts the Byrdes' fragile situation. His condition leads to many violent outbursts, and Wendy struggles to protect Ben without putting her children in any danger. Ben also develops an affinity for Ruth, and the two become romantically involved. Ben's complex characterization is brought to life thanks to brilliant work by Tom Pelphrey. No character's storyline has been as devastatingly emotional as Ben's.

3. Marty Byrde

While two of Bateman's co-stars deliver slightly more compelling performances, Marty Byrde is the lynchpin of the series. "Ozark" opens with Marty in a state of complete despair, as he is hopelessly miserable in his everyday life. Not only must Marty deal with obnoxious customers during his day job as a financial advisor in Chicago, but he's forced to face the stresses of his family life and the dangers of laundering money for the drug cartel. The betrayal of Marty's partner Bruce Liddell puts him in an even more stressful situation; he's forced to watch Bruce's brutal execution, and then come up with a scheme to save his own skin.

Marty convinces his employer, Del, that he can recoup the $8 million Bruce stole by moving to the Ozarks, and rushes his entire family from Chicago to Missouri after his impromptu decision. It's a shocking shift that puts pressure on an already fractured family dynamic, and forces Marty to be forthcoming with Wendy in the middle of their marital strife. Marty and Wendy's marriage is at the center of "Ozark," as they discover that, working together, they are effective business partners. The 3rd season features a particularly amusing subplot in which the two attend couples' counseling.

In "Ozark," Bateman delivers the best performance of his career, and Marty has grown more humane in later seasons. Bateman is only bested by a pair of his female co-stars.

2. Ruth Langmore

Marty looks for allies when he arrives in the Ozarks, and suspects that the Langmore clan will be easily duped into assisting his burgeoning laundering scheme. However, Marty faces an early setback when his stash is stolen by one of the Langmores' most ruthless members, 19-year-old Ruth. Ruth is clearly the most intelligent member of her family and doesn't abide by their rules.

Ruth is disgruntled when she's forced to return her stolen cash to Marty, but the two develop a more interesting relationship as the show moves forward. At first, neither particularly trusts each other, but they eventually realize that a partnership is in both their best interests if they want to survive the dual threats of Marty's cartel opponents and the Langmore's local rivals. By the 2nd season, they've begun to open up to each other, and by season 3, Ruth is operating as Marty's top lieutenant. However, she still seems to ruffle his feathers when she acts out on her own, such as when she throws Frank Jr. off the barge.

Both Marty and Ruth feel at odds with their families. Marty has never fully connected with his children, and Ruth feels like an outsider amidst the other Langmores. She tries to care for her cousins Three and Wyatt, knowing that they are still relatively innocent, and that Wyatt may have a promising future if he attends college. Julia Garner's defiant attitude has become one of the highlights of "Ozark" — she's won two Emmys for her work on the show.

1. Wendy Byrde

The wife of Marty Byrde is more than just a Lady Macbeth. While Wendy Davis is certainly shocked by her husband's secret dealings with drug cartels, she holds secrets of her own that come as a surprise to Marty. At first, Marty suspects that his wife's affair is her darkest buried secret, but Wendy soon proves that she's downright savage in her dealings with the local crime families.

Prior to their venture into the Ozarks, Wendy was a political consultant, and was known for her ruthless lobbying techniques. While she doesn't pose a physical threat to her opponents in the same way that her brother Ben does, Wendy has an aptitude for getting people to act against their better instincts. Wendy's cruelty is exemplified throughout the series as she convinces mild-mannered characters like Sam to join their scheme, but she's also sincere when she needs to be. Wendy had a particularly difficult childhood due to Ben's illness, and she struggles to support her brother when he appears in the 3rd season of "Ozark."

Although her relationship with Marty has its ups and downs, Wendy is deeply affectionate towards her children. She raises Charlotte to possess the same sharp wit that she is renowned for. While she supports Jonah, she fears that his aptitude for violence and isolation are concerning parallels to her own brother's trajectory. Laura Linney's tour-de-force performance remains the most fascinating in the series.