58. Yvonne “Vee” Parker (Lorraine Toussaint)
The closest thing Orange Is the New Black has had to a true villain, Vee arrives in Season 2 and proceeds to wreak havoc on Litchfield. She corrupts vulnerable minds, crushes anyone in her path, and wields a slock (a sock filled with locks) mercilessly. Even her flashbacks, which the show typically uses to humanize characters, make her look horrible, such as when she seduces and then murders RJ, who regards Vee as a mother figure.
57. George “Pornstache” Mendez (Pablo Schreiber)
In Pornstache’s defense, his feelings for Daya seem sincere. But the defense ends there. As a prison guard, Mendez repeatedly abuses his power, supplying the inmates with drugs in exchange for sexual favors. When he blackmails Tricia — who wants to get clean — into dealing for him, she ends up OD’ing. And then he covers it up. Of all the corrupt Litchfield employees, Pornstache is the most flagrant offender.
56. Natalie “Fig” Figueroa (Alysia Reiner)
As reprehensible as so many of Fig’s employees are, the real problem with Litchfield is that she is in charge. Not only does the assistant warden show a consistent lack of empathy for the inmates — she also, as is revealed in the second season, embezzles money from the prison, leading to the deplorable conditions in which the inmates find themselves. The fact that she has a closeted gay husband who’s using her doesn’t make her any more likable, however sad for her that may be.
55. Cesar (Berto Colon)
Aleida’s in prison because she took the fall for this tool, who went on to sleep with her daughter Daya. He also supplies drugs to the Litchfield inmates, many of whom are recovering addicts. Just say no.
54. Sam Healy (Michael J. Harney)
Healy is a prison counselor, and he is terrible at his job. It doesn’t help that he has a perverse fixation on lesbians and sees fit to punish even the most imagined same-sex behavior. It makes sense that Healy is so anxious about his straight white male dominance, given that he can’t make his Russian mail-order bride love him. His anger management issues just complete the portrait of a miserable man who should not be in any position of authority.
53. Joel Luschek (Matt Peters)
While Luschek is certainly more fun than the other Litchfield employees, maintaining a lighthearted and sarcastic attitude that never quite meshes with his surroundings, he’s also bad at his job, not to mention an overt racist and an overall dick. The inmates might like his hands-off approach to teaching — as in, he lets them do whatever the hell they want — but his shabby treatment of fellow guard Fischer is another good reminder that he’s not worth rooting for.
52. John Bennett (Matt McGorry)
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Despite the fact that Bennett was involved with an inmate, Daya — a clear no-no — his charm and sincerity made their Season 1 love story surprisingly romantic. In Season 2, however, Bennett proved himself to be spineless, letting Pornstache take the fall for his transgressions and generally behaving like a coward. He also turns into an aggro asshole when he’s stressed out. His last-minute confession doesn’t offer much in the way of redemption.
51. Pete Harper (Nick Stevenson)
While Polly takes a while to show her true colors, her husband Pete is annoying from the get-go. And then he abandons his wife and newborn child for a trip to find himself. The only good thing Pete does over the course of the first two seasons is punch Larry in the face. That aside, he’s the worst.
50. Howard Bloom (Todd Susman)
Larry’s dad serves as Piper’s lawyer, despite the fact that he doesn’t seem to like Piper much. He’s not as up-front as he should be, advising Larry not to tell Piper who turned her in. His advice in the second season probably could have helped Piper out if she’d taken it — and perhaps if he’d been a better lawyer (and ally for Piper), she would have listened.
49. Amy Kanter-Bloom (Kathryn Kates)
Larry’s mom isn’t much of a step up from his dad, but at least she’s genuinely sympathetic to Piper’s plight.
48. Bill Chapman (Bill Hoag)
Another less-than-perfect parent — there are so many of those on Orange Is the New Black. Bill is rarely seen because he refuses to see his daughter in prison, which is his most prominent and most telling characteristic. The only other revealing information about Bill is that he once cheated on his wife, which doesn’t exactly raise him in anyone’s esteem.
47. Carol Chapman (Deborah Rush)
Carol is less warm than Piper’s dad. That’s probably an understatement. But even though she treats Piper’s imprisonment as an embarrassing reflection on her and the entire family, she at least has the decency to visit her daughter at Litchfield.
46. Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs)
Larry does his best to be a supportive partner to Piper in Season 1 — but man, does he fail spectacularly. He exploits Piper’s predicament to his own advantage, co-opting her prison stories for his own benefit. At the same time, it’s tough not to feel some sympathy for him when he remains faithful to Piper and she embarks on a new relationship with Alex. That is, until Larry finds his own romance with Piper’s best friend Polly. And then somehow thinks it’s a good idea to ask for Piper’s blessing.
45. Polly Harper (Maria Dizzia)
Piper’s best friend Polly is pretty obnoxiously self-involved from early on. Like Larry, her main concern seems to be how Piper’s imprisonment affects her. The only reason she emerges as slightly more likable than Larry is that she falls into his arms as a result of her circumstances — abandoned by her husband and with a new baby. She also at least has a better grasp on why Piper will never give her blessing.
44. Neri Feldman (Tracee Chimo)
Remember when Neri and Cal decided to get married at Cal’s grandmother’s funeral? Real classy, guys. Neri does Piper a big favor from prison, but mostly she’s just annoyingly cheerful.
43. Cal Chapman (Michael Chernus)
Piper’s brother Cal has moments of being lovable — but likability is a different matter. He’s just really, really aggressively obtuse, saying the wrong things not because he’s a bad person, but because he’s kind of an idiot. Some of that can be overlooked, but it’s hard to imagine anyone lacking the self-awareness to understand why a grandparent’s funeral isn’t the right time for a wedding.
42. Wanda Bell (Catherine Curtin)
Wanda’s good at her job, which she probably takes too seriously. You have to question anyone who is as excited about strip searching as Wanda is. Weirdly, it doesn’t feel sexual with her — the way it would with…basically any other guard at Litchfield. Instead, she just seems to be on a power trip, rendering her seriously unpleasant, but not corrupt.
41. Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett (Taryn Manning)
Throughout Season 1, Pennsatucky was the primary villain — not nearly as conniving as Vee, but unstable enough to pose a serious threat to Piper’s wellbeing. In Season 2, she’s somewhat reformed, though still clearly a loose cannon in many ways. Her friendship with Healy doesn’t exactly do her any favors. If Doggett has any hope for becoming more likable next season, she’ll have to ditch the homophobia in favor of a full-fledged friendship with Big Boo.
40. Angie Rice (Julie Lake)
Angie hangs out with Pennsatucky and Leanne, and doesn’t do much to distinguish herself. She did briefly participate in the hunger strike, though, so there’s that. (Who can say no to pizza, really?)
39. Leanne Taylor (Emma Myles)
For Season 1, Leanne is merely Pennsatucky’s lackey, distinguished mostly by the fact that she’s one of the inmates who trades sexual favors for drugs. In Season 2, however, she manages to come into her own, standing up against Doggett’s relentlessly bossy behavior. And she, too, participates in the hunger strike — at least for a little while.
38. Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow)
Caputo is a confusing case. On the one hand, he offers inmates a chance to use his personal phone to make calls. On the other hand, he masturbates after they leave. He seems to be curbing this behavior, but he’s still a total creep. So while he does have a legitimate desire to repair Litchfield and make things better for its inmates, Caputo is sometimes tough to like. When he tricks Fig into going down on him, it’s a good reminder that he hasn’t really changed.
37. Scott O’Neill (Joel Marsh Garland)
O’Neill probably isn’t the inmates’ favorite guard, but he’s one of the few competent people working at Litchfield. He’s further humanized by his relationship with Wanda Bell, and his brilliant standoff with the protesting nuns.
36. Jean Baptiste (James McDaniel)
Miss Claudette’s first visitor in prison is also the man who brought her into the work of employing young immigrants. He’s not enough of a character to really register, but he makes Claudette happy, so he must be doing something right.
35. Aleida Diaz (Elizabeth Rodriguez)
The first time Aleida is introduced on Orange Is the New Black, she slaps her daughter, who has just arrived in prison, in the face. That tells you everything you need to know. Yes, Aleida does soften over the course of the two seasons, but she’s only really a mother when she’s jealous about Daya’s relationship with Gloria, who is simply a more competent and supportive mother figure. She does try to save Bennett’s job, however, so if that’s something you care about, points there.
34. Brook Soso (Kimiko Glenn)
Ugh, Soso. What a consistently irritating presence at Litchfield. And yet, you can’t totally hate Soso, because she clearly means well, starting a hunger strike to deal with the admittedly deplorable conditions at the prison. Her relentless optimism is irritating, but it’s also kind of admirable, so while you don’t really like her, you can’t hate her either. No one in her right mind would willingly hang out with this woman, though, especially given that she’s not fond of taking showers.
33. Tricia Miller (Madeline Brewer)
Poor Tricia. Few characters on Orange Is the New Black have better reflected the reality of drug addiction. Tricia is a complex character, occasionally stepping into the dark side by threatening Piper or trying to keep Mercy from leaving prison, but for the most part she’s a well-intentioned, sympathetic portrait of a woman suffering from addiction. Her overdose is a tragic end for the character, particularly since Pornstache managed to cover it up.
32. Blanca Flores (Laura Gómez)
Flores comes across as crazy, but she’s surprisingly sane. That’s not the same as likable, and yet, you can certainly appreciate Blanca’s devotion to a man she calls “Diablo.” In Season 2, Flores proves herself to be a productive member of the kitchen staff under Gloria’s leadership.
31. Taslitz (Judith Roberts)
Like the rest of the “Golden Girls” at Litchfield, Taslitz is a supportive and useful ally. Unfortunately, she can’t tell the difference between Vee and another inmate, which leads to an accidental shanking. Which is, let’s face it, kind of hard to overlook.
30. Jimmy Cavanaugh (Patricia Squire)
You can’t look at Jimmy without feeling your heart break. Deep in the throes of dementia, she has a hard time getting by at Litchfield. On the other hand, her delusions seem pretty pleasant, so she’s not totally miserable. Jimmy’s not the most likable character, but she’s certainly one of the most sympathetic.
29. Carrie “Big Boo” Black (Lea DeLaria)
For the most part, Big Boo’s worst characteristic is that she’s a total creep — which, hey, join the club. But in Season 2, Boo betrays Red by telling Vee about her secret tunnels, and that’s unforgivable. Her odd friendship with Pennsatucky has helped humanize both characters, but it’s still too soon to forgive Boo for her transgression, especially given the serious consequences Red and her allies faced.
28. Alex Vause (Laura Prepon)
Alex is a fan favorite character, even though she’s usually pretty awful. She drew Piper into her drug trade, then got out of prison while Piper was left locked up. She also’s not big on fidelity, cheating on her girlfriend to be with Piper — getting Piper punched in the face in the process — and later reconnecting with Piper at Litchfield, despite the latter’s engagement to Larry. There’s obviously something cool and sexy about Alex, but that doesn’t excuse her selfish behavior.
27. Cindy “Black Cindy” Hayes (Adrienne C. Moore)
Black Cindy, along with Watson, takes a bit of a turn in Season 2 after falling under Vee’s thrall. But she remains a likable character, if not a likable TSA agent. She’s selfish and sometimes difficult, but she’s fun. And she does come around to the side of good in the end.
26. Janae Watson (Vicky Jeudy)
Even before Watson joins Vee’s gang, she’s not exactly the friendliest person at Litchfield. But her flashback, more so than Cindy’s, makes her the more sympathetic and ultimately likable character. It’s also worth noting that while she is unkind to Piper when they both arrive at prison, they do eventually bond, on some level, over running. She also spends a distressing amount of time in SHU, so some of her bad behavior is easier to excuse.
25. Maritza Ramos (Diane Guerrero)
Maritza was kind of awful to Daya at first: Call it sibling rivalry, since Aleida is a clear mother figure to Maritza at Litchfield. In Season 2, however, she’s more of a team player, and it’s hard not to enjoy her (somewhat combative) friendship with Flaca.
24. Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales (Jackie Cruz)
Flaca doesn’t always come across as the sharpest tool in the shed, but you can’t really hold that against her. She’s Maritza’s better half — platonic, mostly, save an awkward Valentine’s Day make-out sesh. She’s smarter than she’s given credit for and genuinely has something real to offer behind all that makeup.
23. Gina Murphy (Abigail Savage)
Throughout Season 1, Gina doesn’t do much to stand out. She’s Red’s lackey, and it’s only when she’s seriously injured in a kitchen fire engineered by Red that Gina proves herself to have a backbone. Her loyalty is admirable: She even returns to Red’s side, once Red properly makes amends. And perhaps most importantly, she hounds Nicky when she suspects the recovering addict is about to relapse. It’s through Gina’s intervention that Nicky manages not to.
22. Maria Ruiz (Jessica Pimentel)
Being pregnant in prison isn’t easy, as Maria and Daya can attest to. Maria actually has her baby during Season 1, and she returns to Litchfield a changed woman. It’s heartbreaking to see her depression upon learning that she’s being transferred to another prison, far away from her newborn daughter. When Caputo cancels all transfers and Maria learns she’ll be able to stay, it’s one of the most joyous moments in Season 2.
21. Frieda (Dale Soules)
Litchfield’s “Golden Girls,” of which Frieda is a prominent member, take Red in when she has no one else. They are wise, scrappy older women, most of whom were probably in maximum security at one point. Frieda’s loyalty to Red never wavers, even as Vee’s war intensifies.
20. Irma (Yvette Freeman)
See above. As the sanest members of the “Golden Girls,” Frieda and Irma are pretty similar. Their placement here is interchangeable.
19. Norma Romano (Annie Golden)
Norma is a woman of few words — very few words — but her loyalty to Red is unquestionable. At the same time, she has her principles, leaving Red’s side after Gina is badly injured. The fact that Norma is so meek and unassuming makes her moments of assertiveness all the more exciting. She also has a good heart, as evidenced by her poignant (and silent) description of love, and the way she covers for Suzanne during the Christmas pageant.
18. Crystal Burset (Tanya Wright)
Of all the spouses Orange Is the New Black has shown viewers over the course of two seasons, none have been as supportive as Sophia’s wife Crystal. It’s not easy to have a partner in prison, nor is it easy to accept a partner coming out as transgender. Crystal handles both with grace, and shows herself to be an essential ally for a woman who has not always had a strong support system.
17. Dayanara “Daya” Diaz (Dascha Polanco)
Daya’s journey at Litchfield is rough: She arrives to a mother who doesn’t want to see her, falls for a prison guard who gets her pregnant, and is coerced into seducing another guard and framing him for rape. Daya is very much a victim of her circumstances, and it’s not easy to witness the sheer amount of crap she has to endure. In Season 2, Daya stands up for herself when Bennett refuses to step up to the plate, making her all the more likable.
16. Anita DeMarco (Lin Tucci)
Having Anita as a cell mate might not be ideal: She uses a cumbersome CPAP machine while she sleeps. But she’s a warm presence at Litchfield. Because of her permanent placement in the transfer cells, she’s used to meeting scared new inmates, and she does her best to foster a welcoming environment. (As welcoming as can be expected.)
Chang’s no-nonsense demeanor makes her one of the funniest inmates at Litchfield, whether or not she realizes it. She stays out of the drama, only getting involved when she’s asked directly. Because of that, everyone seems to like her — both her fellow inmates and Orange Is the New Black viewers.
14. Susan Fischer (Lauren Lapkus)
Easily the nicest of the prison guards — I mean, she got fired for being too nice, essentially — Susan isn’t good at her job, but she is good to the inmates. And with so much corruption at Litchfield, it’s refreshing to see a prison employee who genuinely cares about the inmates and, more to the point, treats them like human beings. The fact that she briefly entertained the notion of sleeping with Nicky makes her that much more interesting. Here’s hoping she finds a way to get her job back.
13. Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling)
The ostensible star of Orange Is the New Black, Piper was the audience’s entry into the world of Litchfield. Her role has been diminished since the series began, with the show transitioning into more of an ensemble series. With that, Piper has gone from self-involved to genuinely empathetic, doing what she can to improve her life and the lives of her fellow inmates. She’s not fully evolved — recall her tone-deaf speech about white privilege — but she’s getting there.
12. Erica “Yoga” Jones (Constance Shulman)
Yoga Jones’ zen demeanor is impressive, especially after learning why she ended up at Litchfield. Her story is tragic — obviously for the 8-year-old boy she killed, but also for a woman who got in over her head and battled addiction. She spreads yoga to the other inmates, offering an important and therapeutic service. It’s no wonder so many of the inmates consider Yoga Jones to be a friend.
11. Claudette “Miss Claudette” Pelage (Michelle Hurst)
Miss Claudette is probably the most likable murderer at Litchfield: I won’t say the man she killed deserved it, but I won’t not say that either. Moreover, she lives a fairly solitary existence, sometimes shunned for her crime by her fellow inmates, and entirely removed from her family. The reappearance of Jean Baptiste shows a softer side of Miss Claudette, but her violent outburst toward Susan reveals the dark side of what prison life has done to her.
10. Jane “Sister Jane” Ingalls (Beth Fowler)
Not everyone likes a nun, but it’s tough not to get behind a social justice warrior like Sister Jane. And yes, as her flashback reveals, Jane got way too caught up in her own celebrity and lost the cause, but she clearly has a good heart, however tainted by fame. Her participation in the hunger strike shows how deeply committed she is to change, and her subsequent conversations with Red underline the humanity and fallibility that make her an even more compelling character.
9. Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva)
When Aleida quickly establishes her lack of interest in being a mother to Daya, Gloria steps up. She’s a maternal figure at Litchfield, not always the warmest presence, but certainly caring and competent. Her spells may not work — or hey, they might. Gloria’s backstory, which shows her abusive relationship, is an important reminder that anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. Her ability to overcome that makes her story one of the most profound.
8. Rosa “Miss Rosa” Cisneros (Barbara Rosenblat)
Season 2 gives Orange Is the New Black viewers so much more to love about Miss Rosa, who was already a sympathetic figure in the first season. Her honest, grounded approach to her cancer treatment and her mortality make her one of the most likable characters on the series, but it’s her friendship with a fellow chemo patient that truly elevates her to greatness. Her dramatic escape from Litchfield is a thrilling and satisfying conclusion to her story.
7. Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba)
More than any other character on Orange Is the New Black, Suzanne has shown tremendous development from, essentially, a punch line to a complex, fully realized character. She is consistently sympathetic, even when she’s doing bad things, because it’s clear how damaged and easily manipulated she is. Knowing her history and all the terrible shit she has endured, it’s impossible not to excuse Suzanne’s transgressions, and even harder not to like her.
6. Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (Danielle Brooks)
At a very impressionable age, Taystee was taken in by Vee. It’s amazing that she still managed to thrive — albeit getting sent to prison in the process — as a smart, funny, and self-sufficient woman. Season 2 sees Taystee tragically manipulated by Vee again, to the point that she turns against her best friend and ally, but she manages to come into her own again in the end. Her relationship with Poussey, as fraught as it can be, is central to the series.
5. Galina “Red” Reznikov (Kate Mulgrew)
Red doesn’t make the best impression at first, serving Piper a bloody tampon shortly after the latter’s arrival in prison. She’s all about the tough love, but the more we learn about Red, the more we appreciate her. She’s been dealt a rough hand and has worked hard to establish herself at Litchfield. And while she can definitely be harsh, she cares deeply about Nicky and the other inmates she has taken in. The scene in which Nicky gives Red her heroin is a shining moment for both.
4. Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox)
Viewers are biased in Sophia’s favor, and with good reason. It is so rare to see a trans character on television, particularly a trans character played by a trans actor, which makes Sophia (and Laverne Cox) one of the most talked-about aspects of Orange Is the New Black. Beyond that, however, Sophia is a character worth loving. Even when she has less to do, as in Season 2, she remains a kind figure at Litchfield and an important confidante for many of her fellow inmates.
3. Lorna Morello (Yael Stone)
Here’s the amazing thing about Morello: In Season 2, we learn that she’s dangerously delusional, but we don’t love her any less. How can one sympathize with a stalker? It’s easy when said stalker is one of the most compassionate and good-hearted inmates at Litchfield. So while you have to feel sorry for Christopher, a man who has been repeatedly antagonized by Morello, you can’t help but embrace her, flaws and all. And hey, at least she knows she’s batshit.
2. Nicolette “Nicky” Nichols (Natasha Lyonne)
Like Red, Nicky isn’t always the warmest presence at Litchfield, but her heart shines through in key moments, like when she comforts Morello, even after learning that Morello’s relationship is entirely in her head. Overall, she’s fun, hypersexual, and yes, a bit of a mess, but she’s easily the inmate you’d most want to hang out with. Nicky’s struggles with addiction are grounded in reality, which makes her ability to ultimately overcome her demons so satisfying to watch.
1. Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley)
Big round of applause for Poussey, who is basically the only inmate to escape Season 2 with her awesomeness intact. Poussey’s strong sense of right and wrong allows her to stand her ground against Vee, and even when she’s subjected to abuse, she maintains her morality. She is perhaps the bravest and noblest inmate at Litchfield. Her ability to emerge unscathed — with her friendship with Taystee even stronger — is the happiest ending Orange Is the New Black can offer.
NOTE: In order to be included in these rankings, a character had to appear in at least three episodes.
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