Netflix has a wide variety of content to offer across all genres. With a surprising amount of Original content being produced for both films and TV shows, it is safe to assume that Netflix Studios is doing a brilliant job!
Over the last few years, a lot of Netflix shows have garnered a massive fan following due to their complex character-driven narratives, stellar cinematography and brilliant production. While all-time favourites such as The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Game of Thrones etc., have had various character ranking polls, Netflix have produced brilliant characters that are layered and exude unimaginable depth.
While some are so great and amicable that we wish we could befriend them, others are not quite. Good guys are great but portraying bad guys is tough and painting them in an ambiguous light is something that Netflix does the best.
Let us take a look at the ten best Netflix Original characters ever created.
The 10 best Netflix original characters
10. Pablo Escobar – Narcos
Pablo Escobar is the most well-known Columbian drug kingpin and narcoterrorist in the world, known for his staggering criminal career. Infamous as one of the worst crimelords in history, Escobar is complex, ambiguous and impenetrable in real life and takes a new dimension in this series.
Portrayed incredibly by Wagner Moura, the series recounts some of Escobar’s worst and most terrifying exploits while taking a closer look at the notorious lives of druglords, especially Escobar.
Volatile, ambitious, cunning and vile, Escobar’s grisly motives are indefensible despite his indefatigable loyalty to his family. Moura adds a humanising touch to his portrayal and makes Escobar even more loathsome. He is scarily cold and atrocious, making him a favourite for us all.
“Problem is, nobody can control the dreams they have. And when you get too close to the sun, your dreams may melt away!”
9. Joe Goldberg – You
Joe Goldberg is terrifying yet one of the most romanticised characters in Netflix history, making You equally unsettling and thought-provoking. Penn Badgley, who you might recognise from his Gossip Girl days, is absolutely brilliant in his portrayal of this heartless and creepy serial stalker/killer who will go to any lengths to possess the woman he desires. Observant and sly, Joe has a severe saviour complex and wants to protect all his beloved women who are seemingly fragile in his opinion.
The series does not offer a clinical portrait or a psychological study of a serial killer. Instead, it is a twisted love story that is dominated by pervading voyeuristic sadism. Joe is controlling and dominating and has been fetishised umpteen times by the media and viewers. Badgley ought to be commended for his brilliant portrayal of such an unnerving abomination.
We hate Joe Goldberg so much that we think Netflix has done an exquisite job in painting a picture of the delusional, mysterious and perverted stalker.
“Hello. Who are you? All your accounts are public, you want them to see you, to listen to you, to know you. And I thank you!”
8. Jessica Jones – Jessica Jones
Her traumatic past haunts Jessica Jones. She is the lone survivor of a car accident tragedy wherein she loses her family but stumbles upon her superhuman abilities. Held captive by the sinister and manipulative Kilgrave, Jones seeks solace in alcoholism, affecting her superhero career. She has immense PTSD and is constantly engulfed by the demons of her past. Krysten Ritter delivers a mind-blowing performance as the troubled Jessica Jones, the perfect protagonist caught in the throes of psychological trauma and noir genre.
Cynical and complicated, Jones has a lot of traumatic experiences that she needs to unpack to grapple with reality. She is constantly hounded by trauma and the memories of her psychopathic captor that deters her from living to her utmost. Despite several flaws that make her human, she is kind. She is overwhelmed by various insecurities that leave her vulnerable. In her inebriated state, she is violent. Yet, she is strong enough to deal with her past and establish herself, which makes us proud of her.
“My greatest weakness? Occasionally I give a damn.”
7. Thomas Shelby – Peaky Blinders
Cold, calculative, scheming, and ruthless, Thomas-f**king-Shelby is iconic. Respected by all and revered by his enemies and peers alike, Shelby is the patriarch of the family under whom the notorious family thrives. The show is a period piece set between the two Great Wars and traces the journey of the handsome and eloquent Shelby as his shrewd ambition heightens, and his entire gait exudes raw charm, confidence and charisma that borders on calculated cold-bloodedness.
Cillian Murphy is brilliant as Shelby and breathes life into the character. With an iconic haircut that he despises in real life, Murphy has revealed, “People ask for a Peaky cut. It’s crazy that people like it – it hasn’t grown on me. It’s when you get the haircut that people start shouting at you.” Shelby represents the tragic culmination of innocence lost in the War. he holds the entire narrative together and is the perfect anti-hero with a cold air of superiority and arrogance that is enviable.
“It’s not a good idea to look at Tommy Shelby the wrong way.”
6. Maeve Wiley – Sex Education
Maeve Wiley is ambitious and witty, and fairly ignorant of others’ opinions — a winning combination. Although she is an outcast at the high school and bears the “bad girl” image, she is also the kindest and most trustworthy friend in the school. Fluent in sarcasm, Maeve reportedly possesses “gems of nihilistic wisdom”, and, beneath her mean and arrogant facade, resides a kindhearted soul. Having grown up in a broken home with nobody to fend for her but herself, Maeve refuses to be vulnerable with any other character except Otis.
Emma Mackey does an outstanding job while portraying this headstrong character. Maeve is incredibly harsh on herself, which is heartbreaking to witness. Often reckless, it is only with Otis that Maeve can be herself, and this is one of the major reasons why they are tailormade for one another. Maeve is the most badass and most likeable character in the whole series.
“You know in rom-coms when the guy finally realises he’s in love with the girl, and he turns up with a boom box outside her house, blasting her favourite song, and everyone in the audience swoons? Yeah, that makes me sick.”
5. Frank Castle – The Punisher
Jon Bernthal plays the protagonist Frank Castle in the series and does an exceptional job in doing so. Castle suffers immense grief and tragedy when certain people kill his family. He adopts lethal methods to hunt them down and obliterate them before stumbling onto a conspiracy that seems even more dangerous than mere criminals. The show does not romanticise the Punisher. Instead, in a slow-burn format, they present him as the flawed, brutal and ruthless man who embarks on a complex psychological journey to quench his thirst for revenge.
Inarguably one of Marvel’s best character-driven shows that deal with human tragedies, suffering and PTSD, The Punisher is a ride through bloody and lethal realms of violence and justice. Bernthal does justice to the melancholy, brooding, blood-thirsty character who is enigmatic as the vigilante on whom the weight of crimes has been thrust.
“Leave my ass in the wind if that’s what you gotta do.”
4. The Professor – Money Heist
Immortalised by Alvaro Morte, ‘The Professor’ is the chief architect behind the various nerve-wracking action sequences in the show. Money Heist would not have been the same had this mastermind not been there. He turns a group of simple rogues into a delectable unit who, despite their crimes of looting the Bank of Spain, manage to secure the best spot in the hearts of the audience who root for them. A master of manipulation and deceit, he is the main driving force who operates from the wings. Intelligent, meticulous and ambitious, the Professor is well versed in almost everything, including politics, negotiations, heists, psychology and more.
He is calm and possesses innate leadership qualities. He has the ability to infuse motivation into this team at their lowest. When asked what he liked about his character, Morte said, “I like many things about The Professor but mainly his patience and capacity to work. He’s an intelligent guy. He’s spent years just working on a plan”. He was also awestruck by how the Professor never waited for “inspiration” to make things work. According to Morte, the Professor’s immense “hard work” is what makes him so very likeable. We totally agree!
“This is war!”
3. Eleven – Stranger Things
Millie Bobby Brown catapulted into stardom with her iconic portrayal of Eleven in Stranger Things, a character known for her psychokinetic abilities, snappy dialogues and selfless nature. After escaping the Hawkins National Laboratory, where she was subjected to various human experiments like a lab rat, she met and befriended Mike, Lucas and Dustin, who were looking for their friend Will. Eleven decided to help them in their search while being pursued by sinister officials who want to misuse her power to their advantage.
Eleven is subjected to immense manipulation and torture that leads her to develop claustrophobia and trauma. A young girl whose heart is devoid of malice and revenge, Eleven is perhaps the second-best Stranger Things character. Her budding romance with Mike is as wholesome as her finally finding a home in the arms of her adoptive father, Hopper. Eleven’s love for Eggos makes her even more endearing than her ability to throw cars and trains into the air.
“The gate… I opened it. I’m the monster.”
2. Lucifer Morningstar – Lucifer
Portrayed by Tom Ellis, Lucifer Morningstar is the Prince of Hell, clad in crisp suits, looking suave wearing expensive sunglasses and driving sports cars. Bored of his Princely duties, Lucifer reincarnates as a human in the city of Los Angeles, owning a nightclub named Lux and living a fast-paced life of frivolity and madness when he stumbles upon the LAPD detective Chloe Decker to whom he is insanely attracted. He quickly becomes an associate and uses his supernatural tactics to help her solve high-profile murder cases.
Lucifer sure has Milton rolling in his grave, and here’s why. Lucifer has a lot of daddy issues. His brothers are constantly attacking him. He dies, and he comes back. He is caught between being the Devil and God. Yet, he is cheeky and charming and incredibly attractive. He is a bit egotistic, but that is all a part of his charisma and charm that exudes eloquence and confidence, bordering on cockiness. The perfect combination to make up a Prince of Darkness readymade for our screens.
“I refuse to be a scapegoat for something I bear no responsibility. It’s a theme in my life.”
1. Jim Hopper – Stranger Things
David Harbour’s Jim Hopper is inarguably the best character in the series. Hopper is left hollow after being constantly subjected to a series of tragic events, including his daughter’s death and subsequent divorce. The characterisation of Hopper is immaculate as he is bereft of empathy despite being subjected to immense trauma and agony. His character arc is nearly quest-like in the series, where he goes from being a volatile, quick-tempered, alcoholic and womanising cop to the best character in the series.
His relationship with Eleven helps him revel in the glory of fatherhood, something that he was denied. He is protective of her, sometimes bordering on overprotectiveness, and although it might seem annoying at times, Hopper’s tragic experiences in the past cause him to act a certain way. Harbour’s wonderful portrayal of this well-designed character also won him two Emmy nominations
“Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.”