The fictional town that serves as the focal point of Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy, Charming boasts a population somewhere in the region of 14,684. It also boasts the world’s least appropriate city slogan, which simply states: “Our motto says it all.” The fact of the matter is there’s nothing charming about Charming. It’s less a city and more a rogue’s gallery of ne’er-do-well’s intent on spreading chaos whether it be in the name of SAMCRO, the Aryan Brotherhood, the True IRA or one of the many other fictional clans with roots in realm of the real. The old saying about there being honor among thieves doesn't quite ring true. In most cases, the characters offered up in Sons of Anarchy have done a little more than just steal. Yes, siree, there can be no denying Sutter’s series about a leather-clad motorcycle club “riding through this world all alone” offers protagonists with dark pasts and often even darker presents.
There were moments of light and brevity alongside the doom and gloom, of course, and while SAMCRO operated on the wrong side of the law, sometimes their machinations were justified and, very occasionally, bordered on heroic. There were some strong characters among the motorcycle club’s elite. Strong, powerful characters capable of doing as much bad as they do good. But Sons of Anarchy wasn’t just about the powerful anti-heroes and worthy antagonists they came up against. It also featured an impressive array of cowards and deceptive game-players happy to wreak havoc. Here are 14 of Sons of Anarchy’s strongest characters and 12 of the weakest.
26 Strong: Jax Teller
Jax was a conflicted leader, desperate to stay true to SAMCRO but keen to make the club legitimate. He was one tough mother too. Equally adept at fighting and strategizing, Jax built and burned bridges with the True IRA and Triads. He feared no one and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The first to throw a punch, Jax dealt with issues head on whether it was fist fights with Gaalen O’Shay, or his take-down of Damon Pope. His fearless approach did prove to be his downfall though.
25 Weak: Clay Morrow
SAMCRO’s master manipulator, Clay’s scheming began long before Sons of Anarchy started when he staged the accident that took the life of Jax’s father, John Teller. Yet, that was the tip of the iceberg for a man who rarely put himself in the firing line, employing the likes of Tig and Juice to serve as his pawns. Opie Winston lost a wife and father to Clay, while Gemma felt the violent force of her cowardly ex-husband. He eventually met Mr. Mayhem, losing his life, tattoos and any respect along the way.
24 Strong: Tig Trager
One of SAMCRO’s most dedicated and demented foot soldiers, Tig holds a pathological fear of toy dolls but is as tough as they come. Regularly dispatched to deliver the club’s brand of violent justice, Tig remained dedicated to the SAMCRO cause the fact it led him to suffer more than most. Captured by feared crime boss Damon Pope, Tig was made to watch as his daughter met a fiery end. That he was able to escape his own execution and eventually gain retribution tell you everything you need to know.
23 Weak: Juice Ortiz
Tricked into believing his African-American heritage would put him at odds with SAMCRO, Juice went to extreme lengths to protect his place in the club by lying, stealing and even taking out a fellow club member. His willingness to do whatever was required to survive meant no one was safe, with Juice switching allegiances with wild abandon, lending his services to the feds, Clay and Gemma to save his skin. He may have made amends in the end but Jax’s disgust with what Juice becomes is plain to see.
22 Strong: Gemma Teller Morrow
Gemma might be the toughest character in the entire SAMCRO universe. She survived heart surgery, saw off her first husband, endured a harrowing assault at the hands of some Aryans, was beaten up by her second husband and took out her son’s wife. She also fought and won running battles with the authorities at every turn. There is no denying Gemma loved Jax but that one moment of protective panic that ended with Tara face down in a sink of water – you know the one - cost her everything.
21 Weak: Wayne Unser
Wayne Unser cut a pathetic figure. An ineffective policeman forever in the pocket of SAMCRO, Unser never garnered the respect of the club yet remained on the scene to little effect. Often aware of Clay’s various schemes, he did little to truly prevent them from engulfing SAMCRO in chaos. Instead, Unser led a pretty pathetic life, living in a caravan in the SAMCRO compound, pining after Gemma Teller. His final act – attempting to stop Jax from getting his hands on Gemma – proved as limp as you’d expect.
20 Strong: Bobby Munson
Bobby Munson was first introduced as an Elvis impersonator but creator Kurt Sutter soon ditched that gimmick. Instead, he developed a character who emerged as one of SAMCRO’s most intelligent and measured members. Someone who knew when to hold them and when to fold them in a fight and wasn’t afraid to challenge Clay or Jax for the good of the club. Even in his final days, when he lost an eye and some fingers while taken by August Marks, he stayed strong, eventually paying with his life.
19 Weak: Half-Sack Epps
An Iraq war veteran and formidable lightweight boxer, Half-Sack may have been a firm favorite among club members but he lacked the necessary clout to rank among SAMCRO’s heavy-hitters., Half-Sack was often the butt of the jokes, forced to undertake some of the club’s most undesirable tasks. He also buckled under the pressure in key situations too, whether it was preventing Piney causing a scene with the One-Niners or protecting Jax’s son Abel from the clutches of True IRA member Cameron Hayes. It was something that proved fatal.
18 Strong: Opie Winston
Opie has been put through quite a lot by the time Sons of Anarchy starts, having spent five years in prison. It only gets worse. In the space of five seasons, Opie loses his wife and his father. What makes Opie special is his strength and control. He’s not someone to mess with, dishing out a beating to Tig for his part in Donna’s demise and pulling the trigger on adversary Agent Stahl. He goes down swinging too, in a four on one fight to the death he can’t possibly win.
17 Weak: Ethan Zobelle
In Sons of Anarchy, there’s only one thing worse than being the leader of a white separatist organization and that’s being an FBI informant on top of that. Zobelle is a coward through and through. He’s a racist, willing to orchestrate an attack on Gemma Teller to try and intimidate SAMCRO into submission and employing his daughter to do so. It’s an approach that proves fatal for the ones he loves. Not that Zobelle seems to care, escaping into the sunset with his tail between his legs.
16 Strong: Venus Van Dam
Venus’ dark, destructive past is a crucial part of what makes her arguably one of the toughest characters in Sons of Anarchy. While on the surface she is all smiles and flirtation, viewers learn Venus escaped a childhood spent enduring the worst abuse imaginable at the hands of her own mother. That she survives to tell the tale is a minor miracle but what’s more remarkable is that she eventually returns to her mother’s home to rescue her young cousin Joey with the help of SAMRO. That takes real guts.
15 Weak: Eli Roosevelt
Eli Roosevelt arrived in Charming with plans to cut SAMCRO down to size but lost his nerve at key moments. An ex-Marine with 15 years’ experience of cleaning up gangs in Oakland, he initially stopped club members from wearing their cuts and was happy to help AUSA Lincoln Potter in his schemes to destroy SAMCRO. Yet he ultimately couldn’t stomach the scheme that saw Juice turn against the club, helping him get off the hook. His failure to ram home this advantage would prove fatal for him and his wife.
14 Strong: Happy Lowman
SAMCRO’s Sergeant-At-Arms wasn’t a leader of men or one for grand emotional gestures. He was mostly just crazy. Known for his love of all violent, Happy had a tattoo of a smiley face added to his abdomen for every life he took. He also loved nothing more than torturing adversaries for information and looked forward to finding new ways to inflict pain. But while his lust for those things made him someone to be feared, he was loyal to his SAMCRO buddies. Provided they stayed on his good side.
13 Weak: Phil Russell
Introduced following the sad demise of Half-Sack, Phil set the bar ridiculously low as SAMCRO’s weakest member. A gentle giant, Phil came in handy whenever Jax needed a childminder, but he was no warrior. Though Phil stayed strong while being interrogated by the club after a narcotics shipment, he is supposed to be guarding gets skimmed (by Juice, no less,) Phil ultimately proves no match for the True IRA, who take him out to send a message to the club.
12 Strong: Tara Knowles
The fiercely independent Tara was a worthy match for matriarch Gemma Teller. Having lost her mother at the age of nine, she left an alcoholic father behind to forge a career as a doctor but she never forgot Jax. A valuable asset to the club, though she toyed with the idea of turning against SAMCRO, Tara never went through with it. Instead, she emerged as Jax’s ‘old lady’, doing favors for the club and holding her own in a fight. She died as she lived, swinging until the end.
11 Weak: Kyle Hobart
The loathsome Kyle Hobart’s enjoyed a brief but memorable appearance on Sons of Anarchy. A former member excommunicated after abandoning Opie at the scene of a crime, Kyle’s cowardly actions meant Opie had to endure a five-year stint in Chino. Even when he was ousted from the club, Kyle wormed his way back into Charming, where he was found running a scam involving stolen car parts. All this and he hadn’t yet had his SAMCRO tattoos removed, as per the rules once you leave the club. That soon changed though.
10 Strong: Lee Toric
One of the most fearsome adversaries to ever feature on Sons of Anarchy. Two things combined to make Lee Toric one of the toughest foes to ever feature on the show. Firstly, there was his background as a former Special Forces Soldier and decorated Agent with a history of using excessive force. Secondly, there was the fact he was motivated by nothing more than cold-blooded revenge. When Otto Delaney takes out Lee’s sister, Pamela, he sets the club and himself on a path of destruction unlike any seen before.
9 Weak: Agent Josh Kohn
Tara’s cowardly obsessive ex turns up in Charming in the deluded hope of winning her back. Though he was a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agent, Agent Kohn wasn’t averse to breaking the law to gain the upper hand. First, he stalked Jax, photographing him with other women and sending the images to Tara. Then he broke the restraining order to confront Tara, turning up at her house in the dead of night with evil on his mind. Jax soon put paid to those plans though.
8 Strong: Wendy Case
A recovering addict who suffered her fair share of heartache, Wendy is rejected as a mother and partner by Jax. Cast out of the Teller family unit, she can only watch on as Jax finds happiness with Tara and their son. She would have been forgiven for crumbling after that kind of experience but, after a spell away from Charming, Wendy returns all the stronger for it. She fights back, challenging Jax for custody of Abel. In the grand scheme of things, she’s one of the show’s real winners.
7 Weak: Chuck Marstein
Chuckie Marstein first arrived on the scene as an accountant prison friend of Otto’s who crosses paths with the club after getting himself embroiled in a counterfeiting scheme. A weak character, Chuckie’s grim compulsion for self-pleasure helps him stand out from the crowd of freaks to feature on the show. He cuts an even more pathetic figure as the series goes on when, fed up with his fumbling, the Lin Triad remove his index fingers. He winds up working for SAMCRO as a bookkeeper. He’s no fighter, that’s for sure.
6 Strong: Otto Delaney
Otto was first incarcerated on a six-year stretch but ended up stuck behind bars after serving as SAMCRO’s man on the inside, responsible for a string of additional crimes against fellow inmates. But what separates Otto from the rest is his capacity for pain, both physical and mental. He lost his eyes, his tongue and his wife for the club. He suffered immeasurable torment at the hands of a vengeful Lee Toric. But he stayed strong, didn’t rat, and ending up taking Toric down with him. Brutal but brave.
5 Weak: Georgie Caruso
Georgie was the lowest of low; a seedy adult movie producer who would stop at nothing to bag the best “talent” on offer whether it was theft, extortion or, as Otto Delaney’s wife, Luann learned, something far worse. What made George that much worse, however, was the cowardly way he tried to worm his way out of trouble. Even when the club caught up with him over Luann’s sudden ‘disappearance’, he pled his innocence, despite all evidence to the contrary. Thankfully Jax wasn’t fooled and George got his comeuppance.
4 Strong: Chibs Telford
Sons of Anarchy’s ultimate survivor, Chibs grew up in Belfast, served in the military and battled his way through the conflict. That experience seasoned him for SAMCRO. A loyal soldier, Chibs deferred to Jax but supported members like Juice. A first-rate medic, he wasn’t averse to inflicting pain either. He knew how to handle himself in a firefight and with his fists and was the first to volunteer for dangerous missions. It’s hardly a surprise that, come the end of the series, he’s one of the last men standing.
3 Strong: Galen O'Shay
A respected and much-feared member of the Irish Kings, Galen O’Shay cut an intimidating presence and had little time for Jax, preferring to work with Clay. His crucial role in SAMCRO’s arms dealings and fearsome status helped Clay survive for as long as he did. At one point, Jax even attempted to improve his relationship with Clay in the only way he thought would get through to the Irishman – by fighting him. In the end, however, he realized that in order to get to Clay, Galen had to go.
2 Weak: AJ Weston
In AJ Weston’s dark, twisted mind, he probably viewed his actions as part of the Aryan Brotherhood as clear demonstrations of strength. The reality couldn’t be further from that. A cowardly, racists figurehead of a violent, despicable organization, Weston’s shocking masked attack on Gemma was one of the first jaw-dropping moments of Sons of Anarchy. He may have been strong, physically, but as a father and man, Weston knew his actions were despicable and would have consequences. At least he accepted his fate when it was finally handed to him.
1 Strong: Damon Pope
Of all the criminal kingpins to come through Charming during Sons of Anarchy’s seven-season run, Damon Pope ranks among the most fearsome. Coldly calculated and desperate for vengeance against the club that took the life of his daughter, Pope used his vast criminal network to wreak havoc against SAMCRO. It was Pope that orchestrated the lethal 4-on-1 prison fight that saw Opie lose his life and who, time and time again, inflicted pain and misery on the club. Jax got the better of him, but it was close.
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