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12 Most Popular Squid Game Characters Ranked Worst To Best

Created by writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk, Netflix's "Squid Game" is a South Korean survival drama exploring the limits of what desperate people are capable of. In case you've somehow managed to miss it, "Squid Game" follows a group of people in financial trouble. They're all collected in a hidden base and asked to participate in a deadly series of contests, often inspired by childhood games, for the amusement of the wealthy. Unfortunately, those who come up short in the games are killed. With each death, 100 million won is added to a pool. The last person standing wins the multibillion-won grand prize.

However, aside from a psychological draw that brings audiences in, "Squid Game" is successful due to its unforgettable and alluring characters. The players taking part in this deadly game are the main reason audiences are glued to their screens — we're dying to know who will live and who will die. 

Because the characters are so important to "Squid Game," we've decided to compile a list of the most popular individuals from "Squid Game," ranked from worst to best.

Be warned — this list discusses the entire plot from Season 1 of "Squid Game," so this is your official red light if you haven't watched it. 

12. Byeong-gi

Portrayed by Yoo Seong-ju, Byeong-gi is initially depicted as just another number in the crowd of people participating in the games. However, it's eventually revealed that he's getting clues from the masked guards about what each game will be in advance — giving him an obvious advantage over the other players. Turns out some of the staff members are using Byeong-gi — who once worked as a doctor in the outside world — to harvest organs of dead players in order to sell them on the black market. Byeong-gi squeezes an even bigger advantage out of his clues by allying himself with the strongest group of people, telling them what the next challenge will be in order to win their protection throughout each game.

Unlike most of the other players on this list, we aren't given much information surrounding Byeong-gi, aside from his career history. While he makes the best out of his situation, he comes across as a whiny character who we're all rather sick of by the time he is killed. Byeong-gi's lack of character development places him at the bottom of this list. 

11. Jang Deok-su

By embodying a gangster and a bad boy, actor Heo Sung-tae brings the character of Jang Deok-su to life in a creative and chilling way. 

Deok-su is a man who will do anything he needs to in order to survive. He and his group of bullies are the first to start cheating, as he brings the crooked doctor Byeong-gi under his wing, knowing that he has advance knowledge of each game. Deok-su's group also starts killing other players during the night in order to cut out the competition. He believes that the fewer people there are alive, the more likely he'll be to survive.

While Deok-su is a bully through and through, it is important to note that he's in an impossible situation. When he's backed into a corner, he has no strategy beyond staying alive by any means necessary. However, he is someone who uses people when they benefit him, and discards them once they don't, believing that they are no longer of any use to him. This is ultimately the reason why he's killed by someone who would have been loyal to him until the end.

Hell hath no fury.

10. Oh Il-nam

Oh II-nam (Oh Yeong-su) comes across as a sweet, kind, and loveable old man throughout most of "Squid Game" Season 1. However, it's later revealed that he's the mastermind behind the entire game; he's dying of an incurable illness, and his final wish is to have one last moment of fun before he succumbs. Unfortunately, the fact that II-nam is the reason for so much pain and suffering means he starts "Squid Game" as one of the most likable characters, and ends the show as one of its least likable.

II-nam's "death" during the games is one of the show's most heartbreaking moments, so the revelation that it's all a farce punches the audience right in the gut. Even if there were clues throughout the show that II-nam was the true mastermind of the squid games, as Collider would have us believe, we can't help but feel cheated. II-nam seems so loveable and innocent that the truth about his cruelty makes him truly a hated character. 

We might not feel so misled by Il-nam if he hadn't been played to perfection by stage actor Oh Yeong-su, who ended up winning a Golden Globe for his portrayal.

9. Hwang In-ho

Hwang In-ho (Lee Byung-hun) is mainly known as "Front Man" through Season 1 of "Squid Game." His job is to ensure that the games run smoothly and that the creator is having a good time. At first, Front Man is only identifiable by his black mask; he seems to be just another faceless character in the show. However, audiences eventually learn that he is a former squid games winner, making his character even more unlikeable.

As someone who has been through the horror of the games, the fact that he inflicts that misery on others makes him a truly despicable person. Plus, he's seemingly responsible for the death of his brother, a character who only wanted to learn what happened to In-ho, his beloved sibling. 

It's clear that this mysterious character has some secrets yet to be discovered, but for now, he's the worst, and as such deserves a low spot on this list.

8. The Salesman

Portrayed by Gong Yoo of "Train to Busan" fame, the Salesman is a significant character despite his relatively limited time on screen. He's "Squid Game" protagonist Seong Gi-hun's (Lee Jung-jae), and the audience's, first real introduction to the world of the squid games. The Salesman is never given a name and is only seen twice throughout Season 1, but his importance and overall intrigue make him a popular character.

The Salesman essentially details the entire premise of the show when he approaches Gi-hun on the subway and invites him to play a childish card flip game just to see how far he'll go to win money. Doing this is essential for knowing if Gi-hun is a good fit for the games, as they only select those who they believe are desperate. 

The card flip game allows the Salesman to slap Gi-hun every time he loses, which he does — a lot. However, when Gi-hun wins, he's rewarded with money. But is that money worth the pain of the slapping he's endured? By the time Gi-hun sees the Salesman once more after winning the squid games, he has grown to understand something dark. His understanding is reflected back at him in the Salesman's knowing smile.

7. Han Mi-nyeo

Han Mi-nyeo (Kim Joo-Ryung) is a deliciously complex character. At first, she's seen as loud and abrasive; most of the players can't stand to be around her. However, as the squid games begin to unravel, she comes across as an incredibly cunning and conniving character who realizes that in order to survive the games, you have to be more than just strong; you also must be smart.

Due to her comparatively small stature and limited athletic capacity, Mi-nyeo is often seen as the weakest link in the squid games. Despite this, she's one of the only characters who loses via her own choice. 

Instead of continuing to fight during the glass bridge challenge in Episode 7, Mi-nyeo chooses to exact her revenge and take out Deok-Su for betraying her earlier in the season. She warns him about this potential eventuality when they first team up together, declaring that if he betrays her, she'll kill him. Well, it looks like karma came around to Deok-su, as that's exactly what happens. 

While Mi-nyeo has her ups and downs throughout Season 1 of "Squid Game," we can't help but smile when she takes Deok-su off the glass bridge with her, all the way to ground.

6. Cho Sang-woo

Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo) is a character that splits "Squid Game" fans. At least a few devoted members of the "Squid Game" audience have wondered if he should have won the squid games over Gi-hun, according to ScreenRant.

During their childhoods, Sang-woo and "Squid Game" protagonist Gi-hun were best friends. Sang-woo is seen to be the smarter character, and it's initially assumed the two will work together to try to survive the squid games. Unfortunately, Sang-woo soon realizes that it's every person for themselves, prompting him to betray and scheme his way into the final game. Ultimately, he sees the error of his ways and allows Gi-hun to win, believing that he's a better person and is more deserving of survival. 

While this is a nice redemption arc for Sang-woo, we can't forgive him for being responsible for the death of fan-favorite and overall sweetheart Ali Abdul (Anupam Tripathi). There are definitely a few Sang-woo stans out there, but his mistakes drag his popularity rating way down. 

5. Ji-yeong

Ji-yeong (Lee Yoo-mi) seems to have snuck up on fans. At first, her overall lax and carefree attitude makes players question her, as she clearly wants to make friends instead of kill the competition. As viewers learn more about Ji-yeong, her incredibly sad backstory makes her even more likable. 

In Episode 6, Ji-yeong reveals to Kang Sae-byeok (Jung Ho-yeon) that her father stabbed her mother to death, causing Ji-yeong to murder him for revenge. Between that incident and the squid games, her entire life has been spent in prison. She tells Sae-byeok that she doesn't much care for life outside of the games, as she believes she has nothing to live for. Because of this, she sacrifices her life so that Sae-byeok, her friend, can live. 

Ji-yeong's tragic life and willingness to sacrifice herself for someone she's grown to know in a short time likely had a few viewers choking back tears during her death. Despite her small amount of screentime, Ji-yeong leaves a lasting impression and has become one of the most popular characters from Season 1 of "Squid Game."

4. Seong Gi-hun

Seong Gi-hun is the protagonist audiences follow throughout "Squid Game." What makes him interesting is the fact that he's an incredibly flawed and imperfect man. Gi-hun is not the best father in the world, and he has an obvious gambling problem. However, he works toward overcoming his flaws, which makes him a guy we can root for.

Throughout Season 1, Gi-hun shows compassion towards those around him. He understands the value of life over money, as he's just as interested in saving those around him as he is in winning the big prize. In Episode 6, when Gi-hun sees an opportunity to outsmart the apparently helpless old man Il-nam, he agonizes over a decision that will definitely lead to Il-nam's death. (Or so it seems.)

Because audiences have witnessed Gi-hun try to get through the game without ever sacrificing a life, we know that he is ultimately a good person. Ironically, some of that goodness forces him to fight to the death at the end of Season 1.

Actor Lee Jung-jae did a flawless job portraying this character, and rightly received critical acclaim for his work in "Squid Game."

3. Hwang Jun-ho

Police officer Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-Joon) goes above and beyond to unravel the mystery of the squid games in hopes of discovering what happened to his brother, In-ho. Once he discovers that people are being abducted to an undisclosed location, he infiltrates the organization in order to learn more information.

Season 1 spends the majority of its time going back and forth between the perspective of the players in the squid games and Jun-ho's experiences sneaking around the guards and staff. While the players are fighting to survive, Jun-ho is looking to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, Jun-ho gets his wish, and learns what happened to his brother — not only did In-ho participate in the squid games, he won the squid games, and now acts as their Front Man. In-ho seemingly kills off his younger brother upon discovery. 

Jun-ho's ambiguous ending in Season 1 will hopefully be expanded on as the show continues.

2. Ali Abdul

Ali Abdul is easily one of the most likable individuals on "Squid Game." From the very beginning, he's shown as a kind and caring man who works hard for the sake of his family. His bad financial situation is not because he's a criminal like Deok-su, corrupt like Sang-woo, or prone to bad choices like Gi-hun. Instead, it's because he lets himself get taken advantage of, a habit that ultimately leads to his death in Season 1 of "Squid Game."

During the games, Ali risks his life to save Gi-hun, despite never meeting him prior. Ali cares about people, and wants to see the best in them, even though he's been shown quite a bit of the worst side of society. He is a character that truly deserves better than he gets, as he never tries to manipulate anyone. Ali is an honest character through and through, and that's more than we can say about anyone else on this list.

1. Kang Sae-byeok

Another character who deserves better than her fate at the conclusion of "Squid Game" Season 1 is Kang Sae-byeok. 

From the very beginning of the show, it's clear that Sae-byeok only wants to protect her family. Like many on this list, she has a tragic backstory; she and her family tried to defect from North Korea. She and her younger brother made it to South Korea, but her father was killed in the process of escaping, and her mother was sent back. Sae-byeok wants to win the games in order to provide for her brother, and to pay for her mother to move to South Korea.

Because of her past, Sae-byeok has learned to rely on herself. She's one of the most resourceful characters in Season 1, as she manages to stay awake when captured, drugged, and brought to the games. She's also frequently seen quietly taking note of what other characters are doing in order to watch and learn, increasing her chance of survival. Her time with Ji-yeong softens Sae-byeok, and she comes to accept help from others. Ultimately, this allows her to ask Gi-hun to take care of her brother once she knows she won't survive the games. 

The sight of Sae-byeok succumbing to her injuries in the penultimate episode of Season 1 is hard to watch. We all wanted her to make it out for her brother. If anyone deserved to win, it was Sae-byeok.

Actress Jung Ho-yeon won a SAG award for this role in 2022. Astoundingly, "Squid Game" is Jung's first official scripted television acting credit.