Ranking The "House Of Cards" Characters, From Worst To Best

Whether they’re the puppets or the puppet masters, the diverse set of characters on House of Cards add depth and intrigue to the show’s political machinations. Here’s how they stack up against each other. Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS through the Season 2 finale.

32. Nancy Kaufberger

Nancy Kaufberger

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Netflix

Played by: Elizabeth NormentWhat she does: secretary to the Democratic whip

Nancy is proud to be Frank Underwood’s secretary — so proud, in fact, that with a little flattery, she’s willing to aid Frank in spying on Jackie Sharp when she’s Jackie’s secretary in Season 2. (It’s possible she didn’t realize what she was doing, exactly. But come on.) Nancy hasn’t been given much in terms of character development, but her loyalty, however twisted, is admirable.

31. Gillian Cole

Gillian Cole

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Played by: Sandrine HoltWhat she does: employee, then owner of Clean Water Initiative

For a very brief period of time, Gillian was a thorn in Claire’s side — it looked as though she might actually do some damage. And when Claire, in response to a potential lawsuit, basically threatened the life of Gillian’s unborn child, it was an eye-opening moment: Claire could be just as cutthroat as Frank. But Gillian disappeared with little fanfare in Season 2, making it all feel a little pointless.

30. Connor Ellis

Connor Ellis

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Played by: Samuel PageWhat he does: communications director for Claire Underwood

Aside from being perhaps the most attractive member of the Underwood’s staff, Connor didn’t leave much of a lasting impression. As soon as Seth Grayson started working for Claire and Frank, purposely pushing Connor out of the loop, there wasn’t much left for Connor to do. He left abruptly, leaving only the memories of his pretty face behind.

29. Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams

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Netflix

Played by: Kate Lyn SheilWhat she does: social worker

From the moment Lisa showed up on House of Cards, there were sparks between her and Rachel Posner. Oh, sure, they were just friends at first, but you could tell there was something more brewing. Who didn’t breathe a sigh of relief when these two finally got together? Unfortunately, Lisa wasn’t much of a character beyond that, and Doug forced Rachel to quickly dispatch her.

28. Christina Gallagher

Christina Gallagher

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Played by: Kristen ConnollyWhat she does: staffer for Peter Russo, then assistant to President Walker

Poor Christina got the short end of the stick by the end of the second season. She was a driven staffer, yes, but for most of Season 1, she was relegated to the role of Peter Russo’s secret girlfriend. And in Season 2, despite the fact that she was a fully competent assistant, she got shut out thanks to Claire’s meddling and Tricia’s jealousy. And then she, too, vanished from the series. Christina deserved better.

27. Janine Skorsky

Janine Skorsky

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Played by: Constance ZimmerWhat she does: reporter for The Washington Herald, then Slugline

During Season 1, Janine was rightfully suspicious of Zoe’s inside knowledge of D.C. politics, later deducing that she was sleeping with her source. But once the two reporters started working together, they were even more effective, and it looked as though they might actually uncover Frank Underwood’s involvement in Peter Russo’s death. Instead, Janine got threatened and chickened out. Kind of a bummer exit.

26. Catherine Durant

Catherine Durant

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Played by: Jayne AtkinsonWhat she does: secretary of state

Many of the characters on this list — most, perhaps — are pawns for Frank Underwood, but Catherine Durant is one of the most flagrant examples. A presence throughout the first two seasons, she mostly just exists to do Frank’s bidding, consciously or otherwise. Toward the end of Season 2, she gains some backbone in going above the president — even though, yes, that was Frank’s idea too.

25. Nathan Green

Nathan Green

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Played by: Jeremy HolmWhat he does: White House/FBI liaison

It takes a real asshole to threaten a guinea pig’s life. Agent Nathan Green is that asshole, using poor Cashew as a means to control Gavin Orsay — well, that and the 100 years of prison time he’s holding over Gavin’s head. On a series with countless unlikeable characters, Agent Green still stands out, if only because he’s perfected that smug dick look.

24. Adam Galloway

Adam Galloway

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Played by: Ben DanielsWhat he does: photographer

Whether it’s the accent or that unbelievably gorgeous New York City apartment, Adam Galloway is a serious temptation for Claire. But her dalliance with Adam in the first season comes back to bite her in the ass during Season 2. Adam does his best to hold his own as he’s manipulated back and forth by Raymond Tusk and the Underwoods, but he wisely admits defeat when it’s clear there’s no winning.

23. Tricia Walker

Tricia Walker

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Played by: Joanna GoingWhat she does: first lady of the United States

You want to feel sympathy for Tricia — and a lot of the time, you do — but she’s just so easily manipulated by Claire, it’s embarrassing. Sure, there are moments in which Tricia stands up for herself, demanding time with her husband, and moving forward with the sexual assault bill. But when push comes to shove, she’s still too weak to survive the world of House of Cards. At least the marriage stayed intact.

22. Seth Grayson

Seth Grayson

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Played by: Derek CecilWhat he does: press secretary for Vice President Underwood

Kudos to Seth Grayson for so deftly slipping his way into the White House and proving himself a valuable asset by gaining seriously damaging intel on Claire’s abortion. He also chooses power over money, siding with Frank against Raymond Tusk, an impressive and ultimately smart move. At the same time, we still don’t know a lot about Seth, and he’s not exactly overflowing in the charm department.

21. Donald Blythe

Donald Blythe

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Played by: Reed BirneyWhat he does: congressman

While Rep. Blythe hasn’t had as much screen time as many of the other characters on this list, his ability to call Frank on his bullshit earns him a respectable ranking. He’s a man of convictions, but he knows enough about the game to realize when Frank is trying to use his wife’s Alzheimer’s to curry favor. And, as he demonstrates when he supports impeachment, he’ll do what he has to for the greater good.

20. Xander Feng

Xander Feng

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Played by: Terry ChenWhat he does: businessman and backchannel diplomat

It’s hard to top Xander Feng’s introduction: kinky threeway sex involving near-suffocation. And yet, Feng’s sexual proclivities are only one aspect of his character. What’s most fascinating is how calm and collected he seems throughout Season 2 — even when things don’t go his way and with certain death looming in China. Feng’s peculiar coldness is his most interesting trait.

19. Megan Hennessey

Megan Hennessey

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Played by: Libby WoodbridgeWhat she does: former U.S. Marine Private

Megan is one of Season 2’s most tragic characters: a rape victim Claire coerces into speaking out, then stabs in the back. It’s not all as calculated as that — at least, not at first — but regardless of Claire’s initial intentions, by the end, she’s turned Megan into another pawn. The storyline is depressing, but it reflects the staggering real-life statistics of sexual assault in the military as well as the psychological toll it takes.

18. Daniel Lanigan

Daniel Lanigan

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Played by: Gil BirminghamWhat he does: casino owner

Another one of Raymond Tusk’s secret partners, Daniel Lanigan proves to be a formidable foe in Season 2. Anyone who stands up to Frank Underwood is impressive, and there’s something particularly brazen about Lanigan — his no-fucks-given gaze, perhaps — that makes him that much more fun to watch. The poolside scene between Lanigan, Tusk, and Frank is one of the season’s best.

17. Freddy Armstrong

Freddy Armstrong

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Played by: Reg E. CatheyWhat he does: owner of Freddy’s BBQ

While Freddy was a presence throughout the first season of House of Cards, it wasn’t until Season 2 that he really came into his own. It was a little strange at first — why was this ribs cook, however great the ribs, getting so much screen time? As it turned out, Freddy was doomed to be a casualty of the battle between Frank and Raymond Tusk. His eventual sacrifice was a punch in the gut for viewers.

16. Tom Hammerschmidt

Tom Hammerschmidt

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Played by: Boris McGiverWhat he does: reporter, former editor-in-chief of The Washington Herald

Tom Hammerschmidt hasn’t always been likable. This is, after all, the editor who called Zoe Barnes a “cunt” when firing her. And yet, he gets some redemption in the second season, doing his best to tell Lucas Goodwin’s story — for better or worse — even though he believes very little of it. Tom is clearly good at his job, but he’s firmly planted in the world of newspapers, and old media has its limits.

15. Edward Meechum

Edward Meechum

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Played by: Nathan DarrowWhat he does: Frank Underwood’s bodyguard and driver, then Secret Service member

For most of his episodes, Meechum doesn’t do a whole lot. He’s clearly a loyal staff member to the Underwoods, but we know very little about him. And then, on one fateful drunken night, Meechum blew our collective minds when he got drunk and had sex with Claire and Frank. And if we’re being real, he seemed a lot more into Mr. Underwood. Turns out there’s more to Meechum than meets the eye.

14. Lucas Goodwin

Lucas Goodwin

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Played by: Sebastian ArcelusWhat he does: Editor at The Washington Herald

Poor Lucas Goodwin. His intrepid reporter skills — and willingness to team up with a serious hacker — were no match for Frank Underwood. And yet, it was still fun to watch him nobly struggle to pin Zoe’s death on Frank, giving up sleep and sanity in pursuit of an unattainable goal. The fact that he’s now wasting away in federal prison just makes his character all the more tragic.

13. Ayla Sayyad

Ayla Sayyad

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Netflix

Played by: Mozhan MarnòWhat she does: reporter for The Washington Telegraph

Finally, a truly competent journalist on House of Cards. Ayla Sayyad is so good at her job that she doesn’t even need to sleep with a source or hire a hacker. She does things by the book and gets results — so effectively, in fact, that Raymond Tusk assumes she’s working for Frank. Sayyad’s resilience in the face of Tusk’s threats prove what a badass she is. And they make Lucas seem really whiny in comparison.

12. Gavin Orsay

Gavin Orsay

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Played by: Jimmi SimpsonWhat he does: hacker and FBI informant

Gavin would be a weirdo even without his sidekick, beloved pet guinea pig Cashew. But Cashew is what pushes Gavin into the realm of greatness. He’s a creepy hacker hermit, working for the FBI to avoid jail time. But he also has his own agenda, and it goes beyond keeping Cashew safe. When he slaps Lucas for his insolence, his inner rage is unmasked. Also, at one point, he literally barks like a dog.

11. Zoe Barnes

Zoe Barnes

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Played by: Kate MaraWhat she does: reporter for The Washington Herald, then Slugline

As far as some people are concerned, the best thing Zoe ever did on House of Cards was get thrown in front of a train. And yes, that was a pretty incredible moment. But give Zoe some credit. While her character has been criticized for inconsistency, much of that reflects her internal struggle to be the best at her job while compromising her morals and negotiating newfound fame. She is missed.

10. Rachel Posner

Rachel Posner

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Played by: Rachel BrosnahanWhat she does: call girl, then telemarketer

There are few House of Cards characters more tragic than Rachel Posner, who is ruthlessly manipulated in Season 1, and then forced to live a sad, isolated life in Season 2. While sparing her life seemed like mercy, Doug Stamper’s control over her — which quickly becomes an obsession — nearly destroyed her. As great a character as Doug was, it was truly satisfying to see Rachel finally bash his head in and flee.

9. Linda Vasquez

Linda Vasquez

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Played by: Sakina JaffreyWhat she does: chief of staff to President Walker

It’s easy to underestimate Linda — Frank certainly does. But she’s more than just the occasional thorn in his side. In fact, Linda comes very close to exposing Frank for who he is at the end of Season 2. It’s only the president’s backpedaling that gets in the way. Linda also knows when to pull out: Her resignation was a blessing for Frank, but he also noted that it was the first time he had truly respected her.

8. Garrett Walker

Garrett Walker

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Played by: Michael GillWhat he does: president of the United States

Walker was a kind of a dud president in Season 1, wasn’t he? He certainly talks like a president, but he was far too easy to manipulate. It was only in Season 2 that he broke free from being Frank’s puppet, eventually realizing that his trusted vice president was the one pulling all the strings. Sadly, Walker reverted to his lame former self in the end, quickly resigning and giving Frank the reigns. Poor choice.

7. Remy Danton

Remy Danton

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Played by: Mahershala AliWhat he does: lobbyist at Glendon Hill

Remy is a force to be reckoned with — both as a lobbyist and as Raymond Tusk’s righthand man. While Remy seems largely motivated by money, he also has his own complicated set of morals that round out the character. Who would have guessed that the same man who convinced Claire to backstab her husband in the first season would demand commitment over casual sex from Jackie Sharp in Season 2?

6. Jackie Sharp

Jackie Sharp

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Netflix

Played by: Molly ParkerWhat she does: House majority whip

Jackie Sharp spends a lot of time insisting that she isn’t Frank Underwood. And that’s true, but it doesn’t mean she won’t go to extreme lengths to get her way. That was clear from the beginning when she destroyed a lifelong friend’s reputation to become whip. She’s one of the strongest, most uncompromising characters on the show, and her desire to do it all without becoming Frank makes her fascinating.

5. Raymond Tusk

Raymond Tusk

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Played by: Gerald McRaneyWhat he does: businessman and advisor to President Walker

Like Frank, Raymond Tusk keeps his true desires under wraps, which is why he makes such an effective adversary. He’s one of the show’s most ruthless characters, but he’s spent most of his life passing through undetected. By the time he angrily snaps one of his pet bird’s necks, it’s clear he’s been pushed to his limit, but think of how many years he was able to manipulate the economy behind closed doors.

4. Doug Stamper

Doug Stamper

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Played by: Michael KellyWhat he does: chief of staff to Frank Underwood

Doug is complicated, to put it mildly. How else to explain a recovering alcoholic who has no qualms about getting fellow alcoholic Peter Russo drunk to destroy him? He’s fiercely loyal to Frank but also haunted by his own demons — as seen in his unsettling fixation on Rachel. It’s hard to imagine Frank surviving without Doug, but he’ll now have to, as Season 2 ended with Doug’s untimely demise.

3. Peter Russo

Peter Russo

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Netflix

Played by: Corey StollWhat he does: congressman, candidate for governor of Pennsylvania

Let’s be fair: Peter Russo was troubled before Frank Underwood came along. But he died because of Frank’s manipulation, and not only because Frank was the one to actually do the deed. As Season 1’s major casualty, Peter was a reminder of the personal toll political machinations can take. His struggles with alcoholism and his Frank-orchestrated relapse gave him a tragic arc that anchored the first season.

2. Frank Underwood

Frank Underwood

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Played by: Kevin SpaceyWhat he does: House majority whip, then vice president of the United States, then president of the United States

Everything in House of Cards circles around Frank Underwood’s unstoppable rise to the top: Even at his most reprehensible, his skillful maneuvering and shady dealings are a pleasure to watch. As television antiheroes go, Frank is one of the hardest to like, whether he’s casually murdering former lovers or forcing a presidential resignation. The fact that we still root for Frank somehow is a credit to the series.

1. Claire Underwood

Claire Underwood

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Played by: Robin WrightWhat she does: head of Clean Water Initiative, then second lady of the United States, then first lady of the United States

But there is no Frank — or Francis, as she calls him — without Claire. Claire is the standout character of House of Cards, a woman just as conniving as Frank but also motivated by her own personal causes. Herself a victim of sexual assault, Claire’s desire to reform the way the military handles rape cases is noble. That she eventually caves to political pressure adds depth — as do her surprising tears.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/ranking-the-house-of-cards-characters

The Moment On “House Of Cards” When We Paid Very Close Attention To Edward Meechum

“Good. You needed that.” And we need more Nathan Darrow. [SPOILERS AHEAD!!!]

1. The following story discusses at length MAJOR SPOILERS from Season 2 of House of Cards. Read at your own risk.

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Nathaniel Bell for Netflix

3. Kevin Spacey’s Vice President Frank Underwood is very stressed in Season 2 of House of Cards. So is Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood, but mainly because Frank can’t keep things together.

4. [REALLY, BIG SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T GOTTEN TO EPISODE 11.]

[REALLY, BIG SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN'T GOTTEN TO EPISODE 11.]

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Nathaniel Bell for Netflix

5. And then, one night, Claire and trusty Secret Service Agent Edward Meechum — played by Nathan Darrow — relaxed over some drinks.

And then, one night, Claire and trusty Secret Service Agent Edward Meechum — played by Nathan Darrow — relaxed over some drinks.

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Nathaniel Bell for Netflix

6. But, Meechum cut his hand on a wineglass that Claire dropped and broke, so Frank had to help clean him up.

The Moment On "House Of Cards" When We Paid Very Close Attention To Edward Meechum

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Netflix/Chris Geidner for BuzzFeed

7. And then.

The Moment On "House Of Cards" When We Paid Very Close Attention To Edward Meechum

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8. AND THEN.

The Moment On "House Of Cards" When We Paid Very Close Attention To Edward Meechum

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Netflix/Chris Geidner for BuzzFeed

9. AND. THENNNN.

The Moment On "House Of Cards" When We Paid Very Close Attention To Edward Meechum

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Netflix/Chris Geidner for BuzzFeed

10. Then, the VP — whose past with a guy in college, and continued feelings for him, were touched on in the first season — and Meechum kiss.

The Moment On "House Of Cards" When We Paid Very Close Attention To Edward Meechum

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Netflix/Chris Geidner for BuzzFeed

The end. We see no more.

Incidentally, in the next scene, we see far more of another same-sex encounter — this one between two younger women, Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) and Lisa Williams (Kate Lyn Sheil). The voyeuristic nature of that encounter — and distinction between the two — makes sense in a way, as the second scene features Underwood’s chief of staff, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), voyeuristically looking in on the two women. The questions about those decisions, though, are sure to be discussed elsewhere.

For now, back to the episode, which takes us back to Frank and Claire after the sun rises.

12. When Claire asks him how he’s feeling, Frank responds: “I slept like a baby.”

The Moment On "House Of Cards" When We Paid Very Close Attention To Edward Meechum

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13. Claire, as only Claire could do, replies: “Good. You needed that.”

The Moment On "House Of Cards" When We Paid Very Close Attention To Edward Meechum

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Netflix/Chris Geidner for BuzzFeed

14. So: WHO IS NATHAN DARROW? Totally coincidentally, Meechum’s story tracks Darrow’s in some pretty interesting ways.

So: WHO IS NATHAN DARROW? Totally coincidentally, Meechum's story tracks Darrow's in some pretty interesting ways.

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Darrow, who went to New York University, met Spacey when they were in Richard III together.

Back in October, Darrow told KCUR:

“And he (Spacey) was already about to do House of Cards and they were casting it around the time we were touring Richard III. And he kind of put me up for it. So I went in for (director) David Fincher and the folks, and that’s how I got on the show.”

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17. Darrow almost didn’t play Meechum, the driver turned Secret Service agent because Underwood put him up for it.

Darrow almost didn't play Meechum, the driver turned Secret Service agent because Underwood put him up for it.

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Patrick Harbron for Netflix

“I was originally up for a different role, but then this one became the one that was right,” he said. “His mystery appeals to me, possibly, his loneliness.”

18. Of Spacey, Darrow said:

“He takes his position as kind of a mentor really seriously. And also, he understands that this is all a very long tradition. And he was kind of given opportunity and given attention as a young actor, and that’s very important for him… He kind of sees that as part of his job, really, to continue it, to pass it along.”

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Patrick Harbron for Netflix

20. Before Richard III, Darrow was in Kansas City in ‘08, starring in The Little Dog Laughed:

Before Richard III , Darrow was in Kansas City in '08, starring in The Little Dog Laughed :

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Darrow played a young actor who “agonizes over his need to keep his sexual orientation secret (particularly during negotiations to play a gay man in a new movie).”

In a review of the show in Camp, Darrow (on the left in the photo above) was called a “great casting choice,” while the shirtless actor, Michelangelo Milano, was called “hot. Ummm, really hot.”

22. By the end of 2009, though, Darrow was in New York City, where he was an understudy in In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play).

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Patrick Harbron for Netflix

Less than two years later, he was in London for the opening of Richard III at the Old Vic in London. The rest is history.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/the-moment-on-house-of-cards-when-we-paid-very-close-attenti