(Credit: Netflix)

Editor's Choice

Ranking the 7 best characters in Netflix’s ‘Money Heist’

Red overalls and anonymous masks galore, Money Heist, is the series set in Madrid where a charming and mysterious “El Professor” recruits an oddball and idiosyncratic group of eight to carry out heists in the Royal Mint of Spain. They also sack the Bank of Spain, deal with hostages and police as well as other enemies while the Professor, the mastermind, conducts the entire heist. 

The Spanish show, which made the Italian folk song ‘Bella Ciao’ an international sensation and sent pulsating energy through the veins of fans throughout all four seasons, is set to return for a fifth season according to rumour mills. 

Created by Alex Pina, the show has not only subverted the typical heist genre but also given it a strong Spanish identity. Unlike every male-centric hypermasculine heist film, this Money Heist has plenty of strong female leads who change the course of the story with their shrewd cunning as well as wit. 

Elements of black comedy make the show a fun watch; it is set in a time period following the financial crisis of Spain which has often been interpreted as a rebellion against capitalism and an act of revenge against the government. It can be read as a gang of renegade Robin Hoods carrying out the heist for the betterment of the people. The layered characters with their ever-changing motives make the show even more intriguing and riveting.

With the second part of the final season underway- it is slated to premiere on December 3, 2021- let us take a look at the 7 best characters on Money Heist:

Ranking the 7 best characters in Netflix’s ‘Money Heist’

7. Helsinki 

Helsinki had a very fulfilling arc on the show. Although he was not very interesting at the beginning — serving only as a silent, brawny addition to the group besides his cousin Oslo — with the power to shield the gang against immediate threats, he was an endearing character who hid behind his intimidating facade. His antics added a lot of laughter to the generally serious premise of the show. 

Darko Peric’s Helsinki is not a bully. He discovers his sexuality with Palermo and comes out as gay. Although Nairobi falls in love with him, their developing friendship meets a heartbreaking end with Nairobi’s unexpected death that affects Helsinki deeply. This Serbian war veteran has an impressive bear tattoo on his stomach and is an equally fuzzy human being at heart!   

Helsinki – ‘Money Heist’ (Credit: Netflix)

6. Alicia Sierra 

Scheming and calculative, it is only Alicia Sierra whose wit and cunning is on par with the Professor. She constantly challenges his intellect and authority and wreaks havoc on his gang. While the Professor successfully outwits the rest of the police force, Sierra seems to be even a step ahead of the Professor. Heavily pregnant, twirling a lollipop, Sierra masks her cold and ruthless nature with an aura of intelligence and ignorance. 

She is a magnetic personality on the show who is terrifyingly attractive. One cannot help but be in awe of Sierra’s extensive understanding of the situation. She is the mastermind behind the gang’s biggest losses, starting from Nairobi’s death to Raquel’s alleged death. Najwa Nimri brings the right kind of balance to the character, making her appear merciless and horrifying. Devoid of remorse or sympathy, she engages in relentless torture to exact information from Rio and is someone even the Professor is wary of.  

Alicia Sierra – ‘Money Heist’ (Credit: Netflix)

5. Denver 

Jaime Lorente’s Denver is one of the most endearing characters on the show. He is born into a life of crime and joins his father on this heist to escape a low-paying mining job. Although he is temperamental in the beginning, he displays a human and sympathetic side when he defies Berlin’s orders to keep a hostage named Monica safe with whom he later falls in love, adding plenty of heartwarming romantic moments to the show. Goofy and lion-hearted, Denver, however, has a bizarre, signature laugh that was improvised by Lorente. 

According to Lorente, the actor had to work hard to develop this “trashy laugh” for the character. He first stumbled upon him while auditioning for the show. “From the very beginning, they wanted Denver to have a unique and significant laugh,” he said. “And what happened is that I kept trying different ones, I found this one and we settled on it. And that was probably the main reason I was selected for this role.”

Denver – ‘Money Heist’ (Credit: Netflix)

4. Berlin 

Although Pedro Alonso’s Berlin was a pretty complicated, cold and calculative character, in the beginning, he was the Professor’s brother-in-arms and second-in-command. With sharp observational skills, Berlin shields the chaos in his heart with a stoic demeanour. Alonso had reportedly derived inspiration for this character from a previous interaction with a person who was a slightly manipulative provocateur. Although the Professor and Berlin were not originally supposed to have such a close bond, the actors insisted on it and that worked in the favour of the series. 

Alonso’s brilliant portrayal of this arrogant yet suave and enigmatic character even won him the ‘Best Supporting Television Actor’ award in 2018. While audience members generally loathed Berlin in the beginning due to his difficult and nonchalant demeanour, his selflessness in the face of death left them in tears. In the second season, the terminally ill Berlin sacrifices himself to help the rest of the gang escape unhurt while he receives the brunt of the police fire. 

Berlin – ‘Money Heist’ (Credit: Netflix)

3. Nairobi 

Alex Pina has initially not written Nairobi’s character. Including her to make the gang more balanced was perhaps one of his best decisions as Nairobi turned out to be an absolute fan favourite. Nairobi is an expert at forging and counterfeiting. With a tragic backstory, where she lost the custody of her son due to her prison time, she is a true leader who never backs down from challenging the patriarchal dominance in the team. She is sympathetic and bold as well as extremely lively and intriguing, making her one of the most well-rounded characters on the show.

Agata Jimenez’s Nairobi went on to become one of the most beloved and amicable characters on the show whose death was a central cause of conflict in the show as well as among fans who were shocked to see their favourite character being killed in cold blood. The Professor and his gang wanted to honour her and seek vengeance, regrouping by chanting “For Nairobi” in the finale. She is the symbol of undefeated matriarchy in the film and someone we miss dearly! 

Nairobi – ‘Money Heist’ (Credit: Netflix)

2. Tokyo

Smart, volatile and unpredictable, Tokyo is the first character the audience is introduced to and serves as the ubiquitous narrator of the show. With a tempestuous temperament, Tokyo is spirited, reckless and wild. Undeniably brave, Tokyo has had her fair share of questionable moments on the show and often annoyed the audience with her impulsive nature. She has a complicated relationship with Rio and a wonderful bond with Nairobi.  With a tragic past, Tokyo is fiercely protective and very caring. 

Played by Ursula Corbero, the character is given a different dimension by the actress who humanises her. The Professor’s absolute favourite, despite her stubbornness, Tokyo is a pivotal character in the show. Tokyo’s death was one of the boldest moves by the showrunners who killed off the most popular character on the show. She sacrificed herself to save the team and to prevent the Army from taking over the Bank of Spain.  

Tokyo – ‘Money Heist’ (Credit: Netflix)

1. The Professor 

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!    

The Professor – ‘Money Heist’ (Credit: Netflix)