Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Bear Characters Ranked By Likability

In its first season, "The Bear" was unanimously praised by critics who agreed that the FX series was one of the best things on television... and one of the most stress-inducing. This fictionalized look inside the kitchen of a Chicago sandwich shop was intense, chaotic, and claustrophobic, serving both as a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the restaurant industry and as a vehicle for character study.

Though "The Bear" is classified as a comedy for the purposes of awards shows (probably based, more than anything else, on its runtimes, which are closer to what's standard for a traditional sitcom than a drama), there's plenty of tragedy to mine in the personal lives of Carmy, Sydney, Richie, and their coworkers. When Season 1 came to a close, audiences might've sympathized with the dysfunctional Berzatto family and staff of The Beef, but they may not have actually liked the characters, who are still very much emotional works-in-progress.

That changes somewhat with Season 2, which is just as critically acclaimed and which takes its time — with two extra episodes and some extended runtimes — to delve into the pasts and personality traits of its key players. Some of Season 1's ostensible villains get redemption arcs, while new caustic and complicated characters are introduced to keep causing problems. This is who we like, love, and loathe in the series.

13. Donna

Donna Berzatto, portrayed by recent Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis in a performance for the ages, is infinitely more sympathetic and relatable than her sort-of boyfriend Uncle Lee (portrayed by guest star Bob Odenkirk). But that doesn't mean she's easy to be around. Carmy avoids her. Mikey tolerates her. She and Sugar have a roles-reversed relationship in which the child has to look out for the parent. In Sugar's case, that means carefully choosing her words and dumping vodka into the sink when her mom isn't looking. 

A depressed alcoholic who is prone to outbursts, Donna's unable to change and unable to forgive herself for her borderline abusive treatment of her children. One of the existential questions "The Bear" seems to be picking at is whether mental illness is inherited, learned, circumstantial, or some combination of the three. Are Donna, Mikey, and, to a lesser extent, Carmy unhappy because of their genetics? Is generational trauma to blame?

Sugar is understandably worried about what bringing a child into their world will mean, and Carmy's lack of interest in relationships suggests he wants to break the cycle simply by not having a family of his own. Or has Donna been the victim of a specific traumatic incident? While her actions are inexcusable and extreme, we're sad for this mom who doesn't know how to show her kids that she loves them. 

12. Mikey

Throughout "The Bear," characters talk about how magnetic Michael (Jon Bernthal) was. He was popular in high school and a better B.S. artist than even motor-mouth Richie. But we also get a sense that his big fish persona may have withered as he got older. Mikey is a character stuck in the past (literally for the purposes of the show), who tells stories to relive his former glory. He was a man nearing middle age who felt the spotlight fading just as his responsibilities were spinning out of control. 

It's utterly devastating that Michael Berzatto died by suicide, and that's not why he ranks so low on this list. Though Carmy, Sugar, Richie, and the rest of the staff are processing their anger at the situation he left them in, everyone understands that he was a victim of addiction and depression. What's not great about Mikey is that he shut people out (most of all, Carmy) and that he was too proud to ask for help. It's also not great that his business practices were pretty unscrupulous and that he flirted with the idea of burning down The Beef for the insurance money. Mikey was a believable character who met an all-to-common tragic end, but he wasn't necessarily a good person.

If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

11. Jimmy

Uncle Jimmy Cicero (Oliver Platt) is probably the most well-adjusted of the elder generation on "The Bear." He occasionally gives good advice (albeit through sports metaphors) and he genuinely cares about the Berzatto family, who he's supported emotionally and financially for years. Still, he'd break Carmy's legs if he had to in a second. That's because Jimmy is basically a mild-mannered Tony Soprano. 

That Jimmy Cicero can loan out large sums of money and hurry along administrative processes codes him as someone who exists at or near the top of an organized criminal enterprise, and one that's deeply embedded in the community. Jimmy wields power... and he knows it. Sugar's family and friends are grossed out when she performs helpless femininity to get "Unc" to help clear red tape. Neither of them are stupid; he understands what she's doing and likes feeling big and important. Even creepier is the moment when Jimmy tells Sugar to meet him in his car so as to avoid making a scene. He loves the Berzattos, just not so much that he'd be willing to lose money on their deal.

10. Claire

We should love Claire (Molly Gordon). Mikey loved Claire. Richie and Fak love Claire. She's a beautiful, doe-eyed doctor who teaches CPR to differently abled kids in her spare time, she's a good friend, and, in her brief stint as Carmy's girlfriend, she's incredibly sweet and supportive. So why does everybody hate Claire? And why does Carmy choose the restaurant over his childhood crush and possible love of his life? Fans of "The Bear" have a few ideas. 

Some viewers thought Claire Bear was more of a plot device than a person, which is especially confounding considering how well even the show's minor characters are fleshed out. Decider's Raven Brunner deemed her "2023's most irritating manic pixie dream girl," and debate raged on the internet about whether that choice was intentional on the part of the writers.

Maybe what we're seeing is Carmy's romanticization of her, and the real Claire really is annoying. Her style of flirting is a little try-hard, and it's tough to say whether it shows confidence or cringe that she tracks down his real phone number when he gives her fake digits. Not to mention, those who ship Carmy and Sydney can't help but see Claire Bear as an obstacle to their preferred outcome.

9. Ebraheim

Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson) is perhaps the first wholly likable character on this list. A refugee from Somalia who fought in that country's civil war (the one from "Black Hawk Down," Richie realizes), Ebra is overqualified for his job. He's a steady presence but more of a background player in Season 1. However, as The Beef transitions into The Bear, this veteran soldier and chef faces new challenges. His decades of harrowing experience on the battlefield and in the kitchen haven't prepared him to function in a wannabe Michelin star restaurant, so Carmy and Syd send him to culinary school, thinking they're doing him a favor.

The show has given Ebra a catchphrase: I accept. It's a good mantra for the character, who likes to feel respected and included. He accepts that his employer wants him to train, but he's also set in his ways and struggles both to keep up with new methods and to see why it's necessary that he learn them in the first place. The new restaurant, his new role managing the pick-up window, the second round of training he must go through to get servsafe certification — it all makes Ebra feel insecure about his knowledge, skill set, and, ultimately, his worth as a member of society. Thankfully, by the end of Season 2, Ebraheim seems to have found his place in the world of the show again.

8. Pete

Sugar's husband Pete (Chris Witaske) is like the inverse of Claire. We're supposed to hate him. Jimmy wonders if he's a narc. Mikey, Carmy, and Richie can't stomach conversing with him for more than two sentences. Pete is supposed to be a milquetoast beta male surrounded by tattooed, foul-mouthed, alphas... and he is. But, honestly, Pete's pretty great.

Despite years of what amounts to bullying and rejection from his wife's family, Pete is still always there with a smile on his face. He's always got something positive to say, and he regularly puts out fires and smooths out wrinkles between Sugar, Donna, Carmy, and others without anyone noticing.

Is he overly chipper? Yep. Does he dress like he's been a dad for fifteen years even though his first kid hasn't been born yet? Sure does. But with Pete, Sugar doesn't have to fret about ending up like her mother. In fact, Pete is everything Sugar wants Donna to be. He's emotionally available, proud of her, reliable, and stable.

7. Tina

If there had only been one season of "The Bear," we would feel differently about Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas). It takes the stubborn cook seven of eight episodes to come around to Carmy and Sydney's way of thinking. While other more experienced employees of The Beef haze the young newcomers (both of whom are classically trained), Tina feels real animosity toward them and is awful to Sydney in particular. She pretends she can't speak English. She hides equipment and ruins recipes. She refuses to wear a blue apron, telling the rest of her colleagues that they look like members of a cult. Only when Tina sees that her superiors do believe in her does she change her tune. 

Tina starts Season 2 as a changed person. The extra work she puts in makes it obvious that she's gunning for the position of Sydney's sous chef, which her former nemesis offers her early on. And, unlike Ebra, Tina fully embraces the opportunity to attend culinary school. She proves herself capable of being a high-end chef, and she steps outside of her comfort zone to make new friends — and kill it at karaoke night. This once-bitter loner is now the epitome of a growth mindset team player.

6. Carmy

Carmen Berzatto, especially as played by Jeremy Allen White, is a captivating character. There's no one else like him on TV and it's difficult to look away from him whenever he's on screen. He has an artist's intensity and soulfulness, and, as far as Sydney is concerned, celebrity status. But that unkempt hair, those expressive eyes, and those prestigious awards bely the truth. Carmy's critically uncool and far from having it all together. 

In Season 2, we learn Carmy has never been to a party or had a girlfriend. We already knew he was shy and spoke with a stutter. He's emotionally and developmentally stunted, which allowed him to hyper-focus on creative cooking and become the world's best chef before he was 30. But he's trying now — he wants to fix the family restaurant, his relationships, and himself — and there's something inherently likable about that. However, he's still a bit of a mess. He fluctuates between being aloof and hot-headed, his high standards can come off as snobbish and mean, and he fails to understand the difference between setting boundaries and being selfish.

5. Sugar

At first, Abby Elliott's Natalie "Sugar" Berzatto wasn't much more than a nag whose purpose was to get Carmy into group therapy and to break bad news about broken tax laws. Now, she's a mother-to-be who becomes the de facto mother figure to the staff. At first, she's reluctant to work at her family's restaurant, which, she says, sucks up all their time, money, and sanity. But in the process of opening The Bear, Sugar — a savvy problem solver who can do anything from properly price a menu to fix an overflowing toilet — shows how indispensable she is. And as Pete points out, she's thriving in her new job.

Sugar's patience and persistence keep the restaurant and her family going. When "The Bear" began, she and her little brother didn't have much of a relationship to speak of. The busyness that their place of business provides has healed some of those wounds, mostly because Sugar is so forgiving. She displays that same grace with Richie and her mother, though her "cousin" makes good while Donna does not. Any woman who's ever had to juggle as much as Sugar does will relate. Nobody has ever deserved a perfectly cooked omelet more.

4. Richie

Prior to Season 2, Episode 7, Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) was the character that fans loved to hate — but secretly loved. The confrontational blowhard caused more problems than he solved (with or without the pistol he keeps hidden in random cookware). His abrasiveness wasn't without reason. Richie feared that Syd and Carmy were going to gentrify the neighborhood. He's grieving the loss of a very important person in his life, reeling from a divorce that he didn't want. He was in a downward spiral. Then, "Forks" happened.

Viewers went into Richie's weeklong stay at Chef Terry's three star restaurant assuming he'd butt up against such a rigid system. Instead, after a pep talk that helped the 45-year-old get over himself, Richie goes all-in on fine dining. Service gives him a sense of purpose and self-respect he'd never had before. The show makes a joke out of the fact that Richie wears suits now, but it's a fitting metaphor. As he belts out Taylor Swift on the ride home, we know that Richie's found the zest for life he lost somewhere along the way. He's now one of the most valuable members of the staff and one of the easiest characters to root for.

3. Fak

Neil Fak (Matty Matheson) was a recurring character played for comic relief in Season 1, but has a more pivotal role in Season 2. He gives Claire Carmy's real number, he figures out that Mikey had overridden the fire suppressant system, and he lays the groundwork to make a move with Claire's recently dumped friend — but that's not why he ranks this high. Neil Fak is funny, but he's much more than a joke.

Fak is possibly the most in touch with his feelings out of everyone on "The Bear." Sometimes he expresses those feelings to avatars in video games, but that's more of a style choice on the part of show creators than evidence of psychosis. His childish tendencies (like trying to flip trading cards for profit) are more charming than they are cause for concern. When Fak's feeling anxious, scared, or great about himself, he isn't afraid to say so. He's hard-working (adorably, he says hearth-working). He's honest. He has everybody's back. He puts himself out there. He always does the right thing, even when it comes at a cost. Carmy admits to Claire that Fak is probably his closest friend, and really, you couldn't ask for a better best bud.

2. Sydney

Ayo Edebiri's Sydney is as much a point-of-view character as Carmy. The two are on parallel journeys, and, in more ways than one, Syd's is the more compelling and relatable arc. While Carmy is reeling from Mikey's suicide, Donna's untreated illnesses, and the pressure of having been an uber-successful chef, Syd is still coping with the loss of her mother, her tricky relationship with her dad, and the crushing failure of her catering business. The level of difficulty is raised by the fact that she's a young woman of color.

Case in point: Nobody but Sydney (save for Marcus' frustration over the doughnut) bats an eye when Carmy loses his temper or makes a mistake. It's almost as if the staff (and by extension, the audience) expect abusive treatment from male chefs, while female chefs are expected to behave more like Olivia Colman's serene Terry. Carmy wants to whip the line cooks into shape, but he delegates the actual work to Sydney.

At the end of the day, it's Sydney who seems most passionate about their joint endeavor. Most of the good ideas have come from her brainstorming and initiative. Sydney has her own rough edges and she loses her cool on occasion, too, but her talent is on par with her mentor's, and she's way less toxic. She makes the people around her better, and that's why she's so high up on this list.

1. Marcus

"The Bear" is, at its heart, a show about hard-edged, imperfect people who are trying to be good and to put good out into the world. Marcus (Lionel Boyce) is the least hard-edged, least imperfect character on "The Bear," and nobody tries harder or puts more good into the world than him. Whether that means offering to help carry veal stock, crafting the perfect doughnut, caring for his terminally ill mom, or rescuing injured cyclists, he's an all around great guy.

Marcus is humble and selfless yet aspirational and determined. Though his only prior experience is at McDonald's, he doesn't look down on himself, and he makes the most of every opportunity to soak up knowledge like a sponge. He bakes his way through Carmy's cookbook and stacks more than Sydney loans him, but we really get the full picture when he stages with Will Poulter's Chef Luca.

He isn't frustrated or deterred by the high stakes at Noma. He has faith in himself, works diligently, rises to the challenge, and is proud of the results. And when things don't work out, Marcus owns up to it (he could have handled Sydney's rejection better, but still, we feel for him). He's even kind about firing Josh for getting high on the job. If the Berzattos are bears, Marcus is a teddy bear, and the show's emotional MVP.