1. Olivia Pope
This is Olivia Pope’s show, and don’t you forget it. Kerry Washington has finally found a showcase for her talents: Olivia is a fascinating figure, both fiercely driven and emotionally vulnerable. Her up-and-down journey this season cemented her as one of TV’s best leads.
2. Fitzgerald Grant
Fitz is unlike any TV president who came before him: he’s sexy, charming, and a Republican. He also went very dark at the culmination of the election-rigging arc in a move that could alienate fans but makes him all the more compelling.
3. David Rosen
Josh Malina is often cast in the nerdy side roles, but David Rosen is a part with some serious weight to it: sure, he serves his purpose as an adversary to Olivia. But he’s also an obsessive, complicated man who keeps getting screwed by the system.
4. Mellie Grant
Forget House of Cards: Scandal’s power couple in the White House is all the political scheming and backstabbing you need. Mellie was a nuisance when she first showed up, but she has grown into an impressive (and terrifying) force of nature.
5. James Novak
One of the great things about Scandal is that we sympathize with Olivia, but we’re just as drawn to those working against her. James’ noble crusade to uncover the secret at the heart of Fitzgerald Grant’s presidency has provided some of the season’s best moments.
6. Cyrus Beene
And then there’s Cyrus, James’ loyal husband who is very loving but also a completely awful person to cross. Like everyone else on Scandal, he’s rich with moral ambiguity, doing whatever it takes to protect the president. It’s great to see Jeff Perry owning the role.
7. Abby Whelan
I love everyone in Olivia’s office, but there’s something special about Abby. She’s always seemed a little bit off, more caustic and guarded than her colleagues. The more we’ve learned about past emotional trauma, the more her character has won me over.