Orange Is The New Black has given us what seems like an endless list of characters to love. Although the series started off with a focus on Piper Chapman, the rest of the humongous ensemble has gotten their time to shine as well. OITNB wouldn’t be as riveting as it is without characters like Suzanne Warren, Tastey, Big Boo, Red, and so many others. (And for some fans, it definitely won’t be the same without Poussey.) Viewers eagerly anticipate each season’s return to Litchfield to find out what happens to our favorite faces.
However, with four seasons and dozens of supporting characters, there are also a lot of people who get lost in the shuffle. Even folks with subplots devoted entirely to their own arcs can be pushed aside — there are just too many narrative strands to keep up with. We’re willing to bet that most fans have forgotten the finer points of seasons one and two, especially. Before season 5 drops on June 9, we’re rounding up some of the characters you may have overlooked over the past few years. Here are 15 Orange Is The New Black Characters You Completely Forgot About.
15. Jimmy Cavanaugh
Jimmy appeared in five episodes of season 2, starting with “Looks Blue, Tastes Red.” Her age places her with the “Golden Girls” clique that mostly works in the garden. She’s 74 years old and has awful dementia; she still thinks that she’s in her twenties and that Lyndon B. Johnson is president. It’s clear that she’s not completely aware that she’s in prison, as she escapes in one episode, but without any clear purpose. Covered in dirt and with leaves in her hair, she wanders into the same bar Caputo happens to be in.
After she breaks her arm in the chapel thinking that she’s diving into a pool, she’s given compassionate release. As Piper points out, this is not actually very compassionate — the severity of her mental illness means that someone needs to care for her at all times. Instead, she’s just dropped off at a bus stop and left. The inmates forget about her quickly, and with the resulting drama of seasons three and four, so do the viewers.
14. Katya Healy
Without the last name, it would be easy to forget who this character is. She’s not an inmate or one of Red’s relatives — Katya is Sam Healy’s Ukrainian wife, who he ‘purchased’ online. The episodes she appears in show us that the Healy couple isn’t exactly living in marital bliss. Katya detests her husband, leading a desperate Sam to enlist Red’s help with translating for him.
Katya appears in six episodes throughout the first three seasons of the show, but doesn’t have any screen time in season four. Her only mention in that season was Healy leaving her a voicemail at a particularly low point in his life. He calls her trying to make amends before walking into the water to drown himself. He scrambles back to the beach when his phone rings, but it’s Litchfield, not Katya. Barring a miraculous change of heart on her part, we can probably assume she won’t appear in person during season five. Healy is likely the only one who remembers who she is.
13. Andrew Nance
Season two feels like a distant memory at this point, which is why it’s so easy to forget about the plot line where Piper was trying to expose corruption at Litchfield via a reporter. Andrew Nance works for the City Post and first becomes interested in Piper and Litchfield after Larry’s prison love article is published.
The last time he comes to visit Piper in Litchfield, he tells her that he thinks someone is embezzling money from the prison to send to the Figueroa campaign. (Three guesses who.) When he asks Piper to risk punishment to steal files or take photos, she gets exasperated and refuses to continue helping him. On his way out, he’s intercepted by Fig herself, who is not pleased that a reporter is hanging around her prison. Nance gives away that he was there to visit Piper, which probably would have gotten him removed from the list if Piper hadn’t cut him off first.
12. Tricia Miller
If Orange Is The New Black weren’t filled with equal parts comedy and tragedy each season, Tricia’s death probably would stand out as one of the darker parts of the show. However, OITNB is certainly not lacking for tear-jerking episodes, so it’s unfortunately easy to forget about one of the sadder moments of season one.
Tricia was a member of Red’s family and one of the youngest inmates at 19. She was addicted to drugs before coming to Litchfield, and she continued using drugs that were smuggled into the prison, and Mendez (AKA Pornstache) was her main supplier. Red kicks her out of the family after she learns that Tricia has started using again, since she was supposed to be staying clean. Mendez discovers her after she gets high on the stash she was supposed to sell for him. Terrified that someone will discover he was trafficking drugs into the prison, he locks Tricia in a supply closet, where she overdoses and dies. Mendez stages her death to make it look as though she hanged herself instead.
11. Berdie Rogers
Berdie is introduced as one of the new counselors in season three. Unlike Healy, she’s actually qualified to do the job, since she has a Master’s degree in psychology. It’s bad enough for Healy to be outdone by a woman, but he really can’t handle being upstaged by a black woman. He takes out his insecurities on her the entire time she’s employed at Litchfield.
Berdie might be better remembered as the counselor who cared enough to set up a drama class for the inmates and encouraged them to explore their creative impulses. This leads to Suzanne’s infamous erotica, which spreads throughout Litchfield like wildfire. Although the inmates love it, the powers that be in Litchfield administration are not pleased that Suzanne used a prison guard as the inspiration for her womanizing character Rodcocker. Berdie is placed on indefinite leave and didn’t reappear in season four. Of course, when Litchfield needed a qualified counselor more than ever, there was no one to be found.
10. Neri Chapman
Neri Feldman became part of the Chapman family in season two, when she married Piper’s brother during their grandmother’s funeral. Piper’s furlough episode was packed with events — Mendez returns, Vee continues her reign of manipulation, and Larry reveals that he slept with someone else — so it’s easy to forget that Neri literally pulled a rose from a dead person’s casket to get married with. (If this were any other show, that would have to go down as one of the more memorable moments.)
Cal and Neri hijacking someone’s funeral for a wedding is pretty representative of how they scorn anything that could be considered normal. Cal lives in a trailer in the middle of nowhere, while Neri once yelled at him for buying his meat instead of hunting it. Neri later helps Piper out with her panty business in season three along with Cal. By that point, they’ve moved out of their quirky trailer and back in with the Chapman parents, since they’re too broke to live on their own. Her quirkiness couldn’t outshine some of the funnier inmates, though, and she didn’t return in season four.
9. Igme Dimaguiba
Without a photo, it might be hard to even jog your memory for who this character is — but he played a small antagonistic role in season one. Dr. Dimaguiba appears in the premiere episode of Orange Is The New Black as the doctor who checks Piper in. He reappears later on in the third episode, refusing to give Sophia Burset the right amount of hormones. Sophia is understandably angry, but Dimaguiba doesn’t show even a flicker of regret. This refusal leads into our first flashback for Sophia, which helps us see her transition and how she ended up in Litchfield.
Dimaguiba isn’t just indifferent towards Sophia — it seems to be difficult for him to muster up empathy for any of the inmates. The pills he gives to Big Boo give her a rash, and the sight of a woman in labor sends him into a panic instead of into action. As Litchfield already has a long list of incompetent or malevolent employees, Dimaguiba has mostly faded into the background.
Taslitz is another part of the Golden Girls gang, and the woman who invites Red to sit with them in season two. She looks like a slightly younger, healthier version of Jimmy, but their personalities are way different. Taslitz is notoriously violent — we never get a flashback, so we don’t know exactly how she ended up at Litchfield, but rumor has it she killed someone. With an axe.
That violent streak is what eventually spurred her exit from the show. After Vee discovers the Golden Girls’ drug smuggling operation, Taslitz decides the only way to deal with her is to kill her. She’s serious about it — she sneaks up on a prisoner and stabs them with a sharpened toothbrush. However, she stabbed the wrong person and was sent to the SHU. In season four, we see that she’s been sent to max, and she’s probably not going to be let out anytime soon.
7. Irma Lerman
Irma is one of Taslitz’s friends. She sticks up for her after Taslitz stabs the wrong person, but she doesn’t seem to have the same zest for crime that her friend does. She participates in some of the Golden Girls schemes — she works in the garden and helps scare the Latinas into giving Red her kitchen utensils back — but she’s never the mastermind. We’re not sure why she’s in prison since she’s never given a flashback, but we’d be willing to bet it wasn’t for anything super heinous.
Then again, Yoga Jones shot a kid, so you never know.
Irma appears throughout seasons two and three along with the rest of the Golden Girls, but after season two, she seems to have had enough. When the group tries to decide what to do now that the garden can’t be used for drug smuggling anymore, she suggests gardening. After all, that was why she joined the group in the first place.
6. Susan Fischer
In a prison filled with guards who are either incompetent or cruel, Fischer was a breath of fresh air. She’s nice almost to a fault and goes out of her way to try to connect with the inmates. Since she appeared in the same seasons as Mendez, it makes her look like even more of a saint.
However, since she’s so nice (and new to being a corrections officer), she has a bit of difficulty getting people to listen to her. Unfortunately for her, she also has a knack for picking the exact wrong times to try to exert her authority. Her situation isn’t helped by the fact that Caputo clearly has a crush on her, and gets irritated every time she gives attention to someone else. When a new shot quota is imposed, forcing the COs to regularly punish inmates, Fischer argues that the rule is doing more harm than good. In a power play of his own, Caputo fires her. We haven’t seen Fischer since.
5. Pete Harper
Poor Pete. Even his wife forgot about him.
Pete Harper is married to Polly Harper, better known as Piper’s best friend. He appears most often in early seasons, when the show was still setting up Piper’s background and pre-prison social circle. Although he and Polly seem to be happily married at first, with a child on the way, Polly is furious when Pete goes to Alaska for a month right after their son Finn is born. With both Piper and Pete gone, an emotional and then physical affair starts between Polly and Larry.
In Pete’s last appearance, he punches Larry in the face after Polly reveals she’s leaving him. Polly doesn’t think he’s actually that upset, since he seemed so freaked out by the prospect of being a father. We can assume that he’s probably off telling everyone who will listen that he’s not a drunk, he’s just an Australian.
4. Polly Harper
As mentioned above, Polly is Piper’s former best friend — with the emphasis on former. She tries to avoid telling Piper that she slept with Larry. Instead, when she comes to visit Piper after her furlough, Polly attempts to act like she didn’t know that Larry had cheated on her at all. Piper sees through her terrible lying and cuts both Larry and Polly out of her life.
Before all of the partner-swapping drama, however, Piper and Polly were very close. In the first episode, we see that they started their own soap company called PoPi. (Piper is very excited that it was stocked in Barney’s.) That company collapses after Piper goes to prison and Polly has her baby, but we doubt either character cares about that now. Best to let a company named PoPi die.
3. Kasey Sankey
Even though Sankey was one of the few characters on this list with significant screen time in season four, she’s still nondescript enough that she’s easy to forget. That might be because she’s one of several people in the latest version of the Litchfield white power gang, inadvertently started by Piper.
When Piper starts her “community carers” program, it’s seen as coded language for “police all the women of color in prison.” Sankey invites all of her friends to the group, who turn out to be outspoken white supremacists. She repeatedly tries to corner Piper to talk about new ways to expand the white power collective, but Piper ducks her every time.
Sankey has a few moments of empathy — she refuses to hit Suzanne when egged on by Humphrey, for example — but she doesn’t exactly end the season on a high note. She refuses to show any remorse for Poussey after she’s killed and even says they shouldn’t have used a body bag for her. She’ll be back for season five, but it remains to be seen if she’ll leave her racism behind or not — or do anything that’s all that memorable.
2. Elique Maxwell
Maxwell is one of the first COs we see on Orange Is The New Black, as she checks Piper in when she first arrives at Litchfield. She’s not as welcoming as Piper maybe would have hoped, since Piper was still in her ‘terrified of prison’ stage. Maxwell usually gives off the air of having something much better to do with her time, which makes a lot of sense.
She appears consistently throughout seasons one and three, but gets more screen time during the private prison storyline of season three. Throughout her appearances, we see that she cares a bit more than she usually lets on. She might chain-smoke her way through most days, but when the prison powers-that-be try to change how Litchfield is run, she doesn’t stand for it. Maxwell walks out along with several of the other guards at the end of season three, and we haven’t seen her since.
1. Miss Claudette
Although Miss Claudette appeared in every single episode of season one, it’s been four years since she last appeared in a new OITNB episode. Miss Claudette is Piper’s roommate once Piper is finally moved out of the four person bunks where new inmates are kept. She is one of the older inmates in Litchfield, and at first, Piper is intimidated by how strict she is. As time goes on, though, the two seem to warm to each other. Miss Claudette even confides in Piper about her appeals to be released from prison early.
Unfortunately, last time we saw her, it didn’t look like she’d be released from Litchfield anytime soon. After receiving the news that her appeal was denied, Fischer chooses that moment to try to actually exercise some authority for once. She reprimands Claudette for her nail polish. Already upset that her appeal was denied, Claudette snaps and tries to choke Fischer. She was sent down to max immediately. The inmates of Litchfield haven’t seen her again — but since Nicky is in max, maybe there’s hope for a Miss Claudette cameo next season?
Season five of Orange Is The New Black premieres on Netflix Friday, June 9th.
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