Over seven violent and, occasionally, poignant seasons, Sons of Anarchy effectively captured the essence of what life must be like inside a free-wheeling motorcycle club.
Or something like that anyway. Kurt Sutter, the show’s creator, was never particularly hung up on the realism of it all, as that entire sorry season set in Ireland demonstrates. The Wire this most definitely isn’t.
Instead, Sons of Anarchy represented a big and brash drama series about a bunch of bikers "riding through this life all alone." Save for their motorcycle-riding 'brothers', of course.
Arms deals, gang beefs, run-ins with the law and the occasional double-cross were all part of the job when you patched into the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original or SAMCRO, for short.
It takes a special kind of person to make it in SAMCRO. Someone tough, loyal and willing to wear a leather at all times. In the world of Sons of Anarchy, teamwork, a high tolerance for illegal substances and an overriding mistrust of law enforcement are crucial.
It helped if you were a little bonkers too. The kind of bonkers that means you were willing to lose eyes, limbs, and other bodily appendages in the name of “the club.”
Though they may largely be actor types, a world away from the dirt and grime of Sons of Anarchy, the fact is you wouldn’t want to meet any of the members of SAMCRO alone down a dark alley.
All of which begs the question no doubt debated by fans of the show ever since its inception: who is the toughest of them all. Jax Teller? Clay Morrow? It’s time to settle the score once and for all.
Here is Every Member Of SAMCRO Ranked From Weakest To Strongest.
21 Phil Russell
Introduced during the show's third season, Phil is surely the weakest member of SAMCRO.
Drafted in as a prospect following Half-Sack's demise, while he was the more physically imposing of the two he lacked the necessary smarts.
He was often deployed as a childminder to Jax’s kids and occasional errand boy.
When Phil was eventually given an opportunity to get involved in some of the club’s more serious matters, it didn’t go well.
First, he failed to effectively guard the first stash of substance that the club received from the Galindo Cartel and then he got ambushed by the One-Niners driving his first shipment.
His lack of clout was further emphasized in his demise at the hands of the disgruntled Galen O’Shay, who takes down Phil and chops him up to send a message to Jax. Message received: Phil is useless.
Patched into SAMCRO at the start of season 5 alongside Frankie Diamonds and Greg the Peg, GoGo distinguished himself from the others through his ineptitude.
Secretly recruited by Clay to stage a series of break-ins across Charming, GoGo’s first screw-up came when he helped with the break-in of Sheriff Roosevelt's home.
Unbeknownst to GoGo, Roosevelt’s pregnant wife Rita is there. A street-smart SAMCRO member might have been able to handle the situation but GoGo and Clay's other goons fail miserably, resulting in the shock demise of Rita and her unborn child.
Later, in an attempt to tie up loose ends by eliminating Wayne Unser, GoGo then suffers the ultimate humiliation of meeting his end at the hands of the ineffective former sheriff.
That alone is enough to see him at the weak-end of this list.
19 Allesandro Montez
It’s not so much that Allesandro Montez ever showed himself to be weak, it’s more that he never got much of a chance to show he was particularly tough either.
Introduced during the sixth season of Sons of Anarchy, he was recruited by Bobby Munson, so obviously had some clout previously.
However, his time on the show didn’t amount to much. In fact, Montez ends up being essentially just another lackey to Jax.
He buried bodies, did a bit of surveillance, distracted the cops here and there and generally stood in the background at club meetings looking tough.
However, none of that made him particularly tough and in a club boasting some of the meanest-looking guys to ever take to two wheels, that wasn't really enough.
18 Greg The Peg
Part of Clay’s secret crew tasked with undermining Jax’s leadership of the club by terrorising the residents of Charming, Greg the Peg was another largely ineffective mid-series recruit.
Though he proved more of a memorable addition than fellow newbie GoGo, he lacked the edge or intelligence of season 5’s other new recruit, Frankie Diamonds.
A willing participant in the break-in that results in the passing of Rita Roosevelt, like GoGo, Greg the Peg is too easily manipulated by Clay and pays a heavy price as a result.
Keen to clean up the mess left by his own secret crew, Clay ambushed Greg after convincing the latter to confront Wayne Unser.
That gives Clay the perfect chance to clean up his own mess, leaving Greg looking pretty dumb.
17 Orlin West
Orlin West was another late addition to the SAMCRO ranks, arriving during the sixth season of Sons of Anarchy.
Like the other new recruits, he’s largely kept on the periphery at first, before coming into his own... as a pretty ineffective member of the club.
The warning signs were there early on when Orlin is enlisted to take care of the injured Bobby Munson while he recuperates at the club’s cabin in the woods and somehow allows Tara to escape the cabin and sneak off to make a deal to give evidence against the club.
Though he escapes any serious punishment, his reprieve doesn’t last long with Orlin eliminated a season later in a shootout with the Lin Triad - the weakest of the show’s various criminal gangs.
16 Eric Miles
Part of the hapless trio of prospects recruited after Half-Sack’s demise, Eric Miles never gets the chance to make much of an impression on SAMCRO.
The one he does make isn't an impressive one. Left at home to guard the fort during the club’s mass excursion to Ireland, Miles’ defining moment comes during the fourth season.
After a brick of substance is stolen from the SAMCRO storage warehouse, he successfully deduces that Juice was the culprit.
However, when Miles attempted to apprehend Juice on his own at gunpoint, he failed miserably. Outsmarted and outmuscled by the unarmed Juice, Miles manages to make a real mess of things, resulting in a brief scuffle that ends with him, rather than Juice, meeting his maker.
That, alone, suggests he can’t have been all that tough.
15 Kip 'Half-Sack' Epps
The original SAMCRO prospect, Half-Sack may have lacked the "firepower" of other club members but he was more than just another grunt.
Though often tasked with running errands for the club, Half-Sack proved himself to be a surprisingly tough fighter.
Entered into a bare-knuckle boxing tournament where he represents SAMCRO, the young prospect made it all the way to the final.
However, rather than go down in the decisive fight, Half-Sack knocked his opponent out and won – costing the club thousands as they had bet on him to lose.
No, fighting isn’t so much the problem with Half-Sack, it’s more a lack of intelligence, something that proved his undoing when he failed to spot Real IRA member Cameron Hayes following him back to Jax’s house.
It ended up proving fatal.
14 George 'Ratboy' Skogstrom
Though Ratboy regularly demonstrates his loyalty to the club and ability to keep his mouth shut at the important moments, it takes a while for him to earn the respect of all his fellow SAMCRO members.
Drafted in as a prospect during season four, he’s one of the guys who fail to guard the first shipment of substances from the Galindo Cartel though he does show himself to be fearless while being interrogated by his fellow members, happily playing a game of Russian Roulette.
In time, he proves himself to be an intelligent and quick-thinking asset in a tight spot and someone willing to risk his life for the club - even if he continues to be hazed by the other members long after becoming a fully patched SAMCRO member.
13 Frankie Diamonds
Maybe it had something to do with the fact actor Chuck Zito actually spent time as President of the New York chapter of the Hell’s Angels but there’s something unmistakably authentic about Frankie Diamonds.
As the most ruthless of new recruits introduced to SAMCRO and later co-opted by Clay to undermine Jax, Frankie is the one who proves the most dangerous and dynamic of the trio.
In fact, Clay is even heard to remark that Frankie was previously hired as muscle for the mob in New York. During the break-in on Sheriff Roosevelt’s home, it’s also Frankie who pulls the trigger on the Sheriff’s pregnant wife Rita after she attacks the intruders.
While Greg the Peg and GoGo are easily duped into meeting their maker, Frankie provides much stiffer resistance.
12 Juan Carlos 'Juice' Ortiz
Juice’s character arc ranks as the sorriest in Sons of Anarchy. Initially enlisted as SAMCRO’s tech and surveillance expert, Juice was always a capable soldier in the club but his mental fragility proved his undoing.
Identified as a weak link by Agent Potter, who threatens to expose his African American roots, Juice sinks to despicable depths of cowardice to keep his place in the club. He steals, harms, and deceives his fellow members.
Jax, Clay, and Gemma are all played off against each other as Juice attempts to maintain both his status. Juice also talks too much, whether it be to the feds, the conniving Clay or Nero.
Eventually, Jax realizes he's too much of a liability. Juice, to his credit, takes Henry Lin down with his, taking him out in a prison attack during the show's final episode.
11 Taddarius Orwell 'T.O.' Cross
T.O. showed he was not someone to be messed with long before he patched into the club. During Sons of Anarchy’s fifth season, when SAMCRO pursued the newly-released ex-con Randall Hightower, T.O. is the man that stands in their way.
One of several prisoners enlisted to eliminate Opie Winston while the club’s members are stuck behind bars, Randall also happens to be T.O’s cousin.
While T.O. ultimately failed to prevent the club from taking out Randall, he earned their respect in the process. So much so, in fact, that he was eventually patched into the club by season seven.
One of the few survivors from the Grim Bastards motorcycle club, T.O. willingly served as a decoy, enduring torture, to help the club get their hands-on Moses Cartwright, the man responsible for Bobby Munson’s demise. A worthy addition to the ranks.
10 Herman Kozik
It was a joy to see The Shield’s Kenny Johnson turn up on Sons of Anarchy. Cast in the role of reformed junkie and former US Marine turned SAMCRO Sergeant-at-Arms, Herman Kozik, when the club required extra muscle in the early part of the show’s run, Kozik was the man that got the call.
A reliable presence in the SAMCRO ranks, his only failing dated back to a run-in with Tig.
Blamed for taking the life of his beloved pet dog, Tig struggled to forgive Kozik and blocked his return to the Charming chapter as a result.
When he finally was patched it, Kozik’s joy proved shortlived with the Sergeant-at-Arms meeting his maker after stepping on a landmine during an attack on the Lobos Sonora Cartel. Taken too soon.
9 Piermont 'Piney' Winston
The club’s oldest and wisest member, Piney may have slowed down as a result of his emphysema but he remained an important part of SAMCRO up until his demise.
As a close friend of Jax’s late father and club found John Teller, Piney served as advisor and father figure to Jax.
Piney’s war began long before Charming, having served in Vietnam alongside John. Principled and brave, he was the one that stood up and demanded action after his son’s wife, Donna, was taken out.
He was also the only one that saw Clay as the master manipulator he was and decided to take action when Clay had the club running substances for a cartel.
Passing on letters to Tara that suggested Clay and Gemma had John Teller taken out, Piney sealed his own fate at the hands of Clay in the process.
8 Happy Lowman
SAMCRO’s most ruthless enforcer, Happy’s reputation as a stone-cold criminal preceded him. He earned the name "Happy" because of the fact he has a happy face tattooed on his body every time he dispatched an enemy foe.
However, that was only the tip of the iceberg, as Happy not only enjoyed his role as assassin and enforcer, but he was also a master of torture.
When a single brick of substance went missing from a SAMCRO warehouse, Happy was the first to volunteer his "special skills" when it came to interrogating the likely suspects.
However, while Happy is a borderline psychopath who might well have taken a far sinister path if it weren't’ for the Club, he’s brave, dedicated and loyal to Jax at every turn.
It's no coincidence either that actor David LaBrava is an actual Hell's Angel who started out as a consultant on the show.
7 Jackson 'Jax' Teller
You might have expected the President of SAMCRO to be top of this list but, while Jax is a ruthless leader and stone-cold criminal, he’s flawed, to say the least.
Prone to violent outbursts and rash decisions, Jax is too often manipulated by his mother in what proves to be his downfall.
It’s Gemma who tricks Jax into incorrectly believing the Lin Triad is behind Tara’s demise while Tara even has him coming dangerously close to becoming a rat.
Though he’s smart, Jax's rash and violent actions too often end badly for the club. Jax's flawed decision making even sees him accuse fellow SAMCRO President Jury White of betraying the club, resulting in an argument in which Jax guns Jury down, sealing his own demise in the process.
6 Filip 'Chibs' Telford
A former British Army medic and member of the True IRA, Chibs is another member of SAMCRO with a colorful history.
It’s a history that saw him exiled from Ireland and scarred for life by friend-turned-foe Jimmy O’Phelan. He’s seen and done it all and is much the wiser and level-headed for it.
A loyal, reliable senior presence in the SAMCRO ranks, Chibs might take a calmer approach to club business but he’s not afraid of pulling the trigger when the situation calls for it.
Though he’s also surprisingly more tolerant than others – giving Juice a second chance in the club, for instance – he also suffers no fools.
When Jax cuts ties with the True IRA, resulting in the demises of two SAMCRO members, Chibs calls him out on it. A worthy replacement for Teller as club president.
5 Robert 'Bobby' Munson
One of the more measured members of SAMCRO, Bobby Munson always had the interests of the club at heart and didn’t have any qualms about calling his fellow brothers out.
When it became apparent that Clay, one of the most dangerous and deceitful members of the club, was up to no good, Bobby always looked him right in the eye and gave it to him straight.
When Jax started to take SAMCRO back down a dangerous and criminal path, he was the one who stepped down as Vice-President as a point of principle.
However, Bobby’s real show of strength comes during Sons of Anarchy’s end game. Captured and tortured by Damon Pope’s goons, Bobby loses an eye, several fingers and has his jaw broken. But he stays strong and loyal...right to the end.
4 Clay Morrow
The man Sons of Anarchy fans loved to hate, Clay Morrow’s journey from protagonist to antagonist over the show’s first six seasons was one punctuated by frequent acts of violence and deception.
Eventually revealed to be the mastermind behind John Teller’s demise years earlier, Clay had no qualms about taking SAMCRO down a dark and dangerous path.
A Vietnam vet, Clay commands respect inside and outside of the club, with the Real IRA, in particular, keen to deal with Clay alone.
Capable of claiming lives on a whim, Clay’s reputation and survival instincts saw him survive several attempts on his life.
Though his violent treatment of Gemma suggested he was a weak man his cunning and criminality is almost unrivaled. Alas, it also paved the way for his downfall.
3 Opie Winston
One of a handful of SAMCRO members who gave their lives for the club, Opie endured enough misery for five lifetimes.
He spent time behind bars, saw his wife taken out at the hands of the club, was present for his father’s demise, had to then sit alongside the man who had take his dad's life every day, and was then forced into a fight he quite simply couldn’t win.
As character arcs go, it’s a miserable one. Despite all this, Opie remains a dedicated and reliable soldier.
Someone Jax frequently turns to. That final, fatal, prison fight showed Opie at his best. When Damon Pope made Jax choose a member to take part in a 4-on-1 fight to the end, Opie took the decision out of his hands and stepped forward.
Knowing his likely fate, he fought well before succumbing to the weight of numbers.
2 Tig Trager
An undoubted loose cannon with a troubled past stemming from a difficult childhood, Tig might be the craziest members of SAMCRO but he’s not someone who was ever trifled with.
Initially admonished by Jax over his prevalence for violence, Tig started out as Clay’s right-hand man and go-to henchman in any given situation.
However, when Clay’s scheming began to hurt the people he cared about, Tig changed his stance and aligned himself with Jax.
His penchant for violence still caused problems, though, not least when he ended up running over the daughter of crimelord Damon Pope.
In retaliation, Tig was forced to watch his own daughter burning alive in a fire. That he survives, gets revenge and moves on with his life speaks to his mental strength and toughness.
It helps also that he’s a little crazy, of course.
1 Otto Delaney
Where do you begin with Otto Delaney? Incarcerated in Stockton State Prison throughout his time on the show, Otto stayed loyal to SAMCRO through the most extreme of circumstances.
Put bluntly, Otto was put through physical and mental hell during this time.
Often targeted as a potential weak link in the club by the authorities, Otto was only supposed to spend five years behind bars but willingly committed a glut of violent and often capital crimes for the club while behind bars, extending his stay in the process.
His willingness to help the club came with consequences.
Waiting for capital punishment, Otto was blinded, removed his own tongue and was repeatedly beaten and assaulted.
However, he remained loyal, eventually giving his life in order to put an end to the vengeful and dangerous Lee Toric. Tougher than tough.
Who do you think is the strongest member of Sons of Anarchy's SAMCROs? Let us know in the comments!