Even though Sons of Anarchy has been over since early 2015, most SAMCRO fans find themselves deeply missing the show. In addition to being a gripping, horrifying, and entertaining story, it also had some of the greatest and most complex characters in television history. Like many modern shows, it moved away from archetypal characters and instead explored flawed individuals with loose morals who are protagonists one minute, and antagonists the next. Love them or hate them, these are 10 of the greatest characters that inhabited the fictional and never dull town of Charming.
**Warning: Contains lots of spoilers!**
10. Wayne Unser
Quite possibly the worst policeman in television history, Wayne Unser begins the show as Chief of Charming Police, but lets SAMCRO run wild because he sees them as a benefit to Charming as they keep out criminals worse than themselves. Despite being terminally ill, Unser somehow outlives most on the show and almost makes it to the end. Although corrupt, Unser is a kind person who cares deeply for the Teller family (particularly Gemma) and will do whatever it takes to help them. His wife leaves him, his children do not talk to him, he retires and struggles to get by, seeing Gemma and the club look after him. This sees him become close to Tara and Jax’s sons, and he hopes for a better life for them. You sympathize heavily with Unser, but he also provides plenty of humor on the show, largely through his poor policing.
9. Tig Trager
An incredibly dangerous, strange and unpredictable character, Tig is also oddly likeable. He is Clay’s right-hand man and is extremely loyal to him, Gemma and the club, but this sometimes results in friction with Jax and the two have a love/hate relationship. He often uses unnecessary violence, which also disagrees with Jax’s policies. Underneath his hard and callous shell, he is actually a sensitive and emotional person, which is revealed through his relationship with his daughter, his love of dogs and his relationship with Venus. His strange sexual fetishes and quirky characteristics provide plenty of humor on the show, but he is also a crucial character to the plot, particularly following the demise of Clay where he must turn his back on him and serve under Jax who is taking the club in a new direction. Although violent and loyal to Clay, he is a fan favorite with many.
8. Juice Ortiz
Juice begins the show as a member who is mainly used for humor, but he becomes a main character in season four after being targeted by Sheriff Roosevelt as a “weak link” because his father is African-American (founding rules of SAMCRO would not allow this). Juice reluctantly helps the police, but soon feels so guilty that he attempts to kill himself. He becomes close to Clay but must help Jax frame him if he is to stay in the club, and Jax later has him secretly kill the mother of the kid who committed the school shootings. He becomes incredibly unstable and suffers an emotional breakdown where he reveals the murder, consequently betraying Jax. Things turn from bad to worse for Juice, whose mistakes all catch up with him. He is used by those around him due to his somewhat childlike attitude, and this results in a heart-wrenching breakdown.
7. Clay Morrow
After beginning as a questionable protagonist, Clay quickly becomes the primary antagonist as the story unfolds (and even antagonist turned antihero briefly in season six). As the president of SAMCRO, a founding member, stepfather to Jax and wife of Gemma, Clay is one of the most important characters. His gradually revealing backstory and the story of John Teller’s death forms the backbone of the show. He has a complicated relationship with Jax and they frequently clash over which direction to take the club, and the initial premise for the show is loosely based on Hamlet (there are numerous similarities and references throughout). In the early stages he is a vigilante with an immense amount of power, but his greed (and revealing backstory) eventually turns him into an antagonist. He gradually loses power and influence due to his actions and osteoarthritis, but he remains cunning and well-connected.
6. Bobby Munson
The heart and soul of the club and a character that has an even temper (very rare), Bobby is intelligent and often acts as the peacemaker for SAMCRO. Although he is not afraid of using violence, he often tries to stay clear of it and will stand up for what he believes in, which makes him an admirable character (this is most evident when he goes Nomad after disapproving of Jax’s leadership). He is very in tune to what is happening around him and frequently shows concern over Jax’s violent and dark transformation. His intelligence and loyalty see him become vice president at one point, and he is also used as the Treasure Secretary which sees him handle all the finances. In addition to being one of the few with a moral compass, Bobby also brings comedy through his tendency to indulge in women and alcohol.
5. Nero Padilla
He may not appear until season five, but Nero more than makes a mark on the show. He is the co-owner of an escort agency and he has an exit strategy where he wants to leave his former gang life behind. However, he becomes intertwined with SAMCRO after starting a relationship with Gemma, and then forming an alliance with Jax who has similar goals. He soon becomes a mentor to Jax and he is one of the few characters that Jax listens to, but despite good intentions, Nero soon finds himself heavily involved with the gang life once again when he and Jax form a business together. Despite his past, Nero is a good man (a rarity on the show) and this makes him likeable. He is also more emotional than most, and he cares deeply for his son Lucius who has spina bifida due to the mother’s drug use.
4. Chibs Telford
Fiercely loyal to Jax (or “Jackie Boy,” as he would say) and the club, Chibs is also one of the most likeable (and funny) characters on the show. Scottish and with facial scars (which Tommy Flanagan has in real life), he is the club’s connection with the Real IRA and also the club’s medic (along with Tara) after serving as one in the British Army. His background and history become important narratives on the show and only make him more likeable, and he has positive relationships with everyone in the club, including a fatherlike relationship with Juice (but is cold to him after his betrayal which shows his loyalty to SAMCRO). Due to his loyalty and willingness to get his hands dirty but also using his smarts, he climbs the SAMCRO ranks and Jax hands him the presidency at the end.
3. Gemma Teller Morrow
Whether you love her or hate her (and most hate), there is no denying that Gemma is a fantastic character. Father to Jax (with a very complex relationship), wife of Clay and widow of John Teller, she is at the center of everything in the show and almost all of what unfolds is a result of her involvement. She seamlessly flows from protagonist to antagonist because she will do everything she can to get her own way. She is admirable in that she prioritizes family over everything else and is seen as the matriarch of the club, but she does not want Jax to move away from the club with his family and concerns herself over the future of SAMCRO. Some of her actions are shocking and brutal, but she also has moments of vulnerability and comedy through her confrontational behavior.
2. Opie Winston
A giant of a man with an epic beard who wears all black in the sweltering heat, he is also Jax’s best friend and struggles to balance his home life and the club. He realizes that the club is in his blood and it is all he knows, but tragically his involvement results in the death of his wife, which he never fully recovers from. He also discovers that Clay killed his father (a founding member) and therefore struggles in his relationship with SAMCRO. After Pope states that a Son must die in exchange for freedom, Opie suddenly steps in and his brothers must watch on as he is horrifyingly beaten to death with a pipe. Easily the most heartbreaking death of the show, and also one of the saddest in modern TV, Opie is a tortured and deeply sad character and one that the audience sympathizes heavily with.
1. Jax Teller
In recent times, TV series have tended to shy away from the squeaky clean hero and instead opted for lead characters who are difficult to pigeonhole and have loose morals. Jax Teller is one of the most complex protagonists in TV history, and he has an utterly astonishing character arc which is integral to the show’s success. He starts off the show wanting to bring about positive change to the club, but his attempts to do so turn him into a cold, hardened and violent criminal much like his stepfather. He is likeable, a good friend, father and son, and of course very cool (and popular with the ladies), and by the end of the show they are almost daring you to still like him after his horrifying actions. As the man himself states, “I realized that a good father and good outlaw can’t settle inside the same man.”