Three notes before we begin:
- Scandal is a show about terrible people. It is other things as well, sometimes, but mostly it is an hour-long network drama that is devoted to a collection of awful, deplorable people doing awful, deplorable things to each other and/or America. As such, I have decided to rank every character on the show from least to most terrible, as human beings.
- Okay, it’s not really “every” character, as I’ve left off some people, like the sistermom politician Lisa Kudrow played for a few episodes. I tried to draw the line at frequently recurring, non-guest characters. I kind of broke my rule with the very first entry on the list. I regret nothing.
- This is my list as of April 1, 2014. Things move very fast on Scandal, so if you are reading this after stumbling across it on Google in mid-2016, and, like, Harrison started murdering orphans and selling their teeth to Third World warlords or something in the interim (which we can’t rule out, because Scandal), that’s why it seems a little off. This is essentially a time capsule.
And away we go:
27. Scandal Perd Hapley – The fact that Jay Jackson — best known as Perd Hapley from Parks & Recreation — periodically pops up on Scandal as a newscaster is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Another one of my favorite things: His IMDB page. The man is a treasure. Treasures are not terrible.
26. Edison Davis – Very nice man. Has no business on this show.
25. James Novak – Poor James. Poor, sweet, innocent James. He was a naive little goldfish in a tank full of piranhas. It’s a miracle he survived as long as he did.
24. Alissa the Assistant – Always liked her. Not sure why.
23. Hal the Secret Service Guy – You know Hal. He’s the one who has a soft spot for Mellie. He seems relatively harmless, which probably means he’ll strangle a puppy as part of a deviant sexual thing by the end of the season.
22. Secretary Lauren – Always getting tricked and/or manipulated into revealing damning information about the President’s schedule, which doesn’t make her “terrible” as much as it makes her “kind of bad at her job.”
21. David Rosen – Repeatedly uses his position and influence to do off-the-books favors for his girlfriend, who is employed by a shady cover-up agency that is currently contracted to provide campaign advice to the White House, which is pretty troubling when you think about it. Prone to going insane and turning his apartment into a mad man’s paradise covered with pictures and documents connected by scribblings and arrows.
20. Daniel Douglas Langston – Never really got a feel for him. I’m basing this entire ranking on the fact that he played lacrosse.
19. Jeannine Locke – I feel for Jeannine. I do. She got thrown under the bus by the entire executive branch, then when she tried to turn around and make a little money off it she got thrown under a second, bigger, faster bus.
18. Mellie Grant – Mellie was incredibly evil and conniving at the start of the show. While I have mostly turned around on her recently (starting with her moonshine-addled evangelizing in the White House dining room), she still has the capacity to be just awful to people who are in her way.
17. Tom the Secret Service Guy – Up to something. Don’t trust him.
16. Abby Whelan – Congratulations! You’re the least evil member of Pope & Associates!
15. Harrison Wright – Harrison and Abby are basically a coin flip until you remember the thing where he tricked her — his co-worker and friend — into breaking up with her boyfriend as a favor to Olivia. That’s … pretty terrible! Tie broken!
14. Charlie – Should be ranked higher on this list, but something about the sarcastic, morally bankrupt joy he takes in doing his job — which, again, is to murder people and torture them with power tools — is a little delightful. Don’t know if that say more about him or me. Moving along.
13. Hollis Doyle – Hollis Doyle is shady goon who uses his vast wealth and power to get the government to do his bidding, and when the government won’t do his bidding, he will go so far as to fix an election and upend everything democracy stands for to remedy the situation. He is a liar, and a sleazeball, and everything that is wrong with American politics. But he also has a hilarious Foghorn Leghorn accent, so #13 it is.
12. Huck – It says a lot about this list that a mentally disturbed serial killer who gets sexual pleasure from torturing his victims can’t crack the top 10.
11. Verna Thornton – Fixed an election. Got sad about it. Tried to assassinate the President. Worst Supreme Court Justice ever.
10. Vice President Sally Langston/Gov. Samuel Reston (tie) – Presidential hopefuls who have committed murder because their spouse was having an affair. They are the same person. Tie.
9. Quinn Perkins – “Oooo, guess what I’M A SPY NOW. I like killing and murder and SPYING, which I’m good at even though I’ve had like TWO MONTHS of UNOFFICIAL TRAINING. Send me on a mission and take me SERIOUSLY or else I will DRILL YOUR FACE.” No. F-
8. Billy Chambers – A weasel and a murderer who has a stupid face.
7. Jake Ballard – Rapidly turning into Eli Pope, right down to the WEIRD way he pro-NOUN-CES words during in-TENSE MON-O-LOGUES.
6. Eli Pope – Is Eli Pope. (NOTE: You could easily put him in the top three, as his record as the longtime head of B6-13 clearly merits it, but I give a lot of leeway to people who travel exclusively by stretch limousine.)
5. Maya Pope- The woman is such a committed terrorist and evildoer that she CHEWED THROUGH HER OWN WRIST to facilitate her escape from prison, all so she could trick her daughter into helping her evade the authorities. That’s bad news.
4. Olivia Pope – How does Olivia rank higher than her murderous parents? Simple: (a) she runs a business that exists almost solely to help the powerful escape consequences; (b) she employs a serial killer who she occasionally turns loose on her enemies; (c) she has been carrying on an affair with the President right in front of the First Lady’s face for years, and was willing to let an innocent girl take the blame for it; (d) at least her parents both admit they’re doing messed up stuff, instead trying to rationalize it with speeches about “white hats” they give to themselves after two bottles of red wine; and (e) IT’S MY LIST AND I SAY SO.
3. Cyrus Beene – An awful, duplicitous person who ordered numerous murders and repeatedly used his family as pawns, and has only been humanized through flashbacks.
2. President Fitzgerald Grant – Fitz is a spoiled brat who sulks around drinking scotch and snapping at people whenever he doesn’t get his way, which is often because his ideas are usually terrible and/or guided solely by his desire to keep sleeping with his trusted adviser. He is a putz and I hate him.
1. Jerry Grant – Dude’s been on camera like 15 minutes total and he’s spent the whole time (a) drunkenly berating his son and turning him into the putz at #2 and (b) raping his daughter-in-law. Yup, that’ll get you the top spot.