Every Character In Hulu's The Great, Ranked

Huzzah! Audiences of "The Great" have watched while Catherine works to pull off her coup of Peter's rule of Russia. This show tests its characters' morals and constantly throws new wrenches in the plans of both Catherine and Peter as they duel for romance and the rule of Russia. There are always new jaw-dropping events, hilarious jokes, and character decisions keeping the audience on the edge of their seats for each lengthy episode. 

There's a lot of room for character development, though, as the show continues on. It's not just Catherine and Peter who are evolving and being tested –- the whole court is navigating the waters the writers throw at them every episode. Characters die, new characters appear, and the writers take certain characters' morals and rework them to fit new plot lines as they arise. Though each character brings something to the table in their own way that makes the show more compelling and comedic for its viewers, there are definitely some who are less insufferable than others. Here's a ranking of all the main characters from Hulu's "The Great," from worst to best.

12. Joanna

What's there to say about the woman who ruined everything? Joanna, who is Catherine's mother, comes to see how Catherine's rule of Russia is going. From the moment she arrives, everything gets worse. Catherine becomes a different person around Joanna. She's nervous, neurotic, and is really ruthless with the rest of the court as a method to impress Joanna. 

At the very least, Joanna and Catherine's relationship is a relatable example for people who struggle to find peace with their mothers. Nothing Catherine does can even remotely impress Joanna –- especially the fact that she rules Russia. Joanna's flippant attitude toward her child and the hard work that Catherine is putting into her role is disheartening.

However, her biggest offense comes from her relationship with Peter. She gives Catherine the idea that she's unimpressed by Peter, but as soon as Joanna gets him alone, she tries to hook up with him. Peter uses every bit of willpower to resist, but eventually gives in. However, after a very short minute of intimacy, Joanna falls out a window to her death. She is a terrible person with a lot of contradicting ideals toward her child and toward the rights of women. Her death was an incredible plot point for Season 2 and also felt very warranted because of her annoying presence.

11. Georgina

Joanna is the worst by far, but Georgina is the only character who competes with her for last place. Truthfully, she's just frustrating to watch. She starts the show married to Grigor and having regular relations with Peter. Grigor is forced to watch Georgina be with his best friend, and she usually throws it in Grigor's face. She always supports Peter, not because she's power hungry, but because she just doesn't want to be cast out of court. Georgina has no real ideas or loyalties.

She's practical, sometimes to a fault. She initially tries to be a friend to Catherine and give her some advice, but that quickly changes once Catherine and Peter are on opposing sides. Her desire for status prompts her to use her body to get what she wants while realizing that with Catherine in power, she won't be able to. She also somewhat likes that women remain in second place to men. She doesn't ever support Catherine's efforts to enlighten women and thinks the Enlightenment is ruining Europe. 

Still, the other women respect her and her leadership on the opinions the women of the court should have. However, that doesn't make up for her meddling and frustrating behavior that keeps the audience from ever really rooting for her, and because she has no comedic relief moments, there's just not a lot for Georgina to offer.

10. Vlad

Vlad is only relevant during the first season of "The Great," but he's a cutie that deserves to be in the ranking. Vlad has a demure, boyish charm that helps him to befriend Catherine upon her arrival. He and Marial become Catherine's servants and are constantly surprised by her kindness toward them. Vlad is always trying to navigate what is right to say and what is wrong to say, although he does eventually become comfortable with Catherine and Marial — but not to the point where he could completely speak his mind.

Marial gives Vlad the chance to kiss her because she knows he is very shy and hasn't been with a woman before. However, right when they start to kiss, Marial discovers Vlad's back is covered in smallpox. As a result, he's quarantined in a cupboard while Catherine tries to figure out a way to save the serfs who were infected. However, Vlad dies in the first season from smallpox. It's a tragic death that rocks Marial and Catherine to the core, and the audience too.

The only reason Vlad ranks so low is that he never has a lot of material to work with — certainly not as much as the rest of the cast. Ultimately, his low ranking comes from a loving and neutral place.

9. Orlo

Orlo is a tricky character. For a lot of the time, you like him and are rooting for him to help Catherine create the change in Russia, and then for some of the time, you're worried he'll become fed up with change and go rogue by returning to the old ways. Surrounded by people who are constantly abiding by the book, there's no guarantee they'll abide by the revolution instead. That's the fear for the stumbling and brilliant Orlo, who is constantly trying to be diplomatic and pragmatic through every situation.

However, in Season 2 his character really gets more room to explore himself outside of the political or logical lens. Orlo has always been chastised for not having a higher sex drive. He experiments with boys and girls, trying to see if he just hasn't figured out his taste yet. However, he forms a connection with the school teacher, and they end up having a strong relationship filled with knowledge and fun. In an interview with Insider Dhawan said, "It's okay. He doesn't necessarily have to be having sex like everyone else in the court. As he says it, he'd rather be reading a book. It was beautifully done." 

Due of his sexual exploration in Season 2 and his refusal to cave to the Russian sex drive that he didn't want, Orlo has a higher ranking than he would've if it were just based on Season 1.

8. Archie

Likewise, Archie would be much lower on this list if based solely on Season 1, as his pompous, holier-than-thou attitude is exhausting. Though he initially is against Catherine and her rule, once he realizes that's where the power is going, he completely switches his loyalties. Archie has secrets that no one could pry out of him. His life before he became a holy man was filled with, as he has said, sin and degenerate behavior. He is quick to judge any and all in the court, and, like everyone else in Russia, he is looking to get himself ahead. He manipulates Peter and others through his hallucinogenic visions that he believes are from God.

However, if you look at Archie's character and role in the show overall, he's part of what makes "The Great" live up to its title. He's sickeningly creepy, but in a way that's often somewhat humorous. We get a bit of context as to why he turned to the Lord, and it's seemingly because he's addicted to sex and is somewhat queer. Adding those layers to Archie makes him seem much more human and creates a sense of understanding for the audience. It's hard to be queer in Russia, particularly in a romantic way and not a strictly sexual way, and to come to terms with that when you're religious is tough. 

Archie deals with that during Season 2, and it's interesting for the audience to watch and makes his ranking rise.

7. Velementov

At first, no one takes Velementov seriously. Though he's a decorated general who is in charge of handling the ongoing war in Russia, he's also a wildly messed up person. He's a drunk who can't seem to form coherent thoughts most of the time. He's also immediately enamored with Catherine, who sees Velementov's attraction as an opportunity to get him on her side for the coup, especially with how poorly Peter treats him.

However, after Season 1's events conclude and Catherine's coup is in full swing, Velementov becomes more of a big teddy bear type of character who starts to find purpose in Catherine's mission. His support of the coup may have started because of his attraction to Catherine, but he truly becomes passionate about making Russia better and realizing he plays a huge role in making history for the country. 

His initial behavior is corrected and forgiven once he actually finds his purpose to fight for Catherine and for Russia, and Velementov becomes a character that you want to root for and support. It's the classic case of a character finding something to motivate them and wanting to become better.

6. Grigor

If we're talking about an interesting character study, Grigor is certainly one to consider. He is Peter's best friend and has been since childhood, and he's married to Georgina. Though his devotion and love for Peter transcend what most people can handle in a relationship, the true test of this is how he watches Peter and Georgina have sex for years after Peter takes her as his lover. His acceptance of this comes from his desire for everyone to be happy, and from the fact that he gaslights himself into thinking that it's okay. 

Eventually, he talks to Peter and explains his feelings, and he talks to Georgina as well. Though Peter is kind about it, Georgina doesn't want Grigor to limit who she can and cannot sleep with, which flips a switch in his brain about who he loves more between them. When Georgina is banished to France, Grigor fully devotes his love and friendship to Peter.

What makes him even more interesting, though, is watching him discover real feelings that he's never had before for Marial. Their relationship starts up later in the show, but when they get together it just makes sense. They're both struggling to find true love and to find someone whose humor matches their own. They are the perfect match in every way, down to the detail that they're each the confidant of Peter and Catherine. Grigor is a great friend, and very interesting to watch as he makes decisions.

5. Leo

Who couldn't love Leo? This sensitive soul is a romantic poet type who is so in touch with his feminine and masculine sides that it's hard to believe he's real. Leo is introduced to Catherine for the purpose of being her lover because he's sterile and there's no way he'd get Catherine pregnant. Though she's reluctant at first, Catherine comes around and the two engage in a sexual relationship. She eventually falls for Leo harder than she's ever fallen before. He becomes part of the coup and pledges to help Catherine however he can. Leo is Catherine's true love, though she's married to Peter.

Problematically, though, when Peter falls in love with Catherine for real, he works to come between the lovers. Thus, Leo and Catherine's love becomes a major bargaining chip during the coup. Peter traps Leo and essentially gives Catherine the ultimatum to kill him and continue on with the revolution or let Leo live and submit to his rule. Leo is saddened because he knows Catherine must sacrifice his life for the greater good. 

After Leo dies his head is delivered to Peter, who gives it to Catherine. Though he died, Leo was perfect for the time we had him. He was exactly what Catherine needed and served as something for the audience to root for romantically.

4. Catherine

It's controversial to put the main character out of the top three, but with a cast of such amazing characters, Catherine just barely misses a top slot. She starts the show as this naive young woman who is excited to fall in love and be married, only to realize the plans are different when she meets Peter. It's clear, though, that she's very intelligent and wildly driven to achieve what she wants. 

Her quick wit and charm help her to learn about the court and what is wrong with it. Once Catherine realizes her ideals won't be valued, she decides to take matters into her own hands and start a coup. She uses her skills to gather friends and allies for the coup. However, she occasionally gets in her own way and loses sight of what's important.

Catherine is played by the illustrious Elle Fanning, who told Variety that she wasn't really familiar with Catherine before she played her other than the long-lasting rumors about her sexuality. In the interview, Fanning said, "But I came to learn that she's this kind of feminist icon, and she brought enlightenment to Russia and brought female education and art and science, and really did amazing things. She invented the roller coaster as well. She's quite fun." Fanning shares a lot of Catherine's positive traits, and her performance makes the character all the more incredible.

3. Marial

Coming in at third is Marial, Catherine's best friend who is initially her serf. Marial is often the comedic relief that is necessary with the drama of "The Great." She's sarcastic and quick-witted, but she also has a lot of knowledge about the court and an ax to grind with it, which is why she gets so close to Catherine. She used to be a lady of the court, but she was cast out because of her father's actions. She ends up becoming a serf and is the first person to clue Catherine into the fact that a coup could be the best plan of action.

Marial herself is really tough. She watched her mother die of pox, she had a father who ruined her status, and she had to be a serf on top of her embarrassment. She's persevered through a lot. Though it may seem like Catherine finding her was Marial's saving grace, Marial also saved Catherine by giving her the courage and knowledge to begin her coup. 

Now, everything's looking up for Marial. She got her status reinstated, her relationship with Grigor is going well, and she ended up finding a loophole in her inheritance problem so now she's financially stable. It's easy to root for her, though, because of how much she craves change and how passionate she is about her relationships and friendships.

2. Peter

What's there to even say about the Emperor himself? Peter is no stranger to hijinks, hilarity, and a hectic lifestyle. He starts the show as a cocky, pompous "leader" who makes enemies at every turn yet instills fear in his court in a way that makes most people love him. Though Peter starts out with little to no empathy and not a kind bone in his body, throughout the show he develops quite a lot into someone who could actually be a good husband to Catherine and father to Paul. His offhanded, witty, and sometimes ditsy comments make for some of the best moments in the show, and his journey in developing sensitivity toward others makes him a compelling character.

Peter is portrayed by the fiery and ever-playful Nicholas Hoult. His performance is more incredible than most actors ever get the chance to achieve. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hoult said he loves the way the writers of the show explore the moral gray areas surrounding each character, but Peter in particular. He does start out in a tough space, Hoult said in the interview, "But Peter is someone who's always trying, in some ways, his best, despite the fact that he's been brought up in such strange circumstances that he can't quite empathize or feel what other people would." 

Though he struggles, his desire to be a dad, sense of humor, and overall character development help him earn a high ranking.

1. Elizabeth

Finally, the best character in the show is Elizabeth, Peter's aunt and an ally to Catherine. Of course, most of the characters are hilarious, but there is something so charming about Elizabeth that makes the audience compelled to love her. Her openness to sexuality, her big heart, and her diplomacy against all odds is incredible. Like Marial, Elizabeth has been through the wringer. She's had to murder, and she lost her child when her son drowned. However, it gets worse when later when she finds out her son was drowned on purpose by Peter's mother.

However, through all of this, she remains kind, patient, and diplomatic. She helps both Peter and Catherine because, while she believes in Catherine's mission, she loves Peter and wants to protect him. However, what's really amazing about her is the role model she is to the queer community as someone who is very open about her sex life and sexuality and will not discriminate against lovers. There are a lot of LGBTQ+ themes within the show and Elizabeth's character is a great example of this. When those traits are combined with her kindness, humor, and tough nature, she becomes the most interesting and beloved character in "The Great."