Fargo has delivered some of the best television in recent years. Inspired by the Coen Brothers film of the same name, each season tells its own distinct story. Spanning over decades, the series delivers a plethora of engaging performances. Each has its own stylistic touches but manages to keep the original film's narrative midwestern voice.
Simultaneously, every season offers its own clever moments of originality. The list below consists of Fargo characters spanning over the five seasons. These performances convey traits that make the series a rousing success while respecting what makes the film a classic.
1. Dorothy “Dot” Lyon / Nadine Bump (Juno Temple)
Season five of Fargo took time to unveil what the story actually became about.
Starting the season, Dot had to exist as an enigma. Audiences know Dot has come from a mysterious yet dark past. Juno Temple has to avoid spoiling her past but prove to audiences that Dot means business. Meanwhile, she balances that with the midwestern charm expected from Fargo.
When that “innocence” serves as a shadow from an abusive past, the results make it the series' best performance. Her trauma makes Dot more than able to handle the world of violence she finds herself in over the season.
2. Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman)
Season one of Fargo materialized as something closer to the original film. Molly Solverson's performance paid tribute to Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand)—a plucky, law-abiding, midwestern cop who stumbled into a world of crime.
Tolman’s wide-eyed optimism serves as a welcome reminder of why audiences love Fargo characters in the first place. No matter the copious amounts of violence, Solverson’s attitude remains unchanged. She wants to find out the truth and remains determined to do so.
3. Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman)
Like Molly Solverson, Lester Nygaard exists as a mirror to Jerry Lundegaard from the original film. Nygaard lives as an unhappy man who stumbles into bad decisions.
Freeman amply conveys Nygaard’s resounding naivety. What he thinks an easy fix to his life (hiring a hitman to murder his wife) turns out to ruin it. Simultaneously, his wickedness makes the character hard to like. Freeman walks that metaphorical tightrope, delivering entertaining results. The role served as a welcome, familiar introduction to the type of world this anthology series inhabits.
4. Sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm)
Sheriff Roy Tillman might be the most timely of all Fargo characters in the lineage. Described as a “constitutional sheriff” and “protector of the gospel,” it serves as a code for something else. Tillman considers himself Stark County, North Dakota’s judge, jury, and executioner.
Tillman believes his role as a lawman means he has unlimited amounts of power. That makes him one of the series' most terrifying villains, who never loses the midwestern Fargo personality. The mentality of this character rings eerily similar to that of certain real-life figures.
5. Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thorton)
Lorne Malvo proves that looks can decieve in the world of Fargo. Malvo seems like the golden horse riding in to save Lester. He gives him an opportunity, lighting the match of violence. His philosophizing ways blind Nygaard to his villainous tendencies for brutality.
Such a charming character succeeds with the ability to disarm viewers. Seeing Malvo's capability makes him one of the series' most menacing characters. He reminds viewers of the depravity the world of Fargo can deliver.
6. Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson/Keith Carradine)
Lou Solverson has had an interesting Fargo history. Starting in season one, Lou served as Molly’s father and mentor. The character played the role of a wise and loving confidant who helps Molly become a better police officer. He came from a past on the police force, but audiences remained unclear about what the past entailed.
Keith Carradine portrayed the sage mentor who knew how this law enforcement world worked. Season 2 offered more answers about Lou’s early days as a State Trooper. While more optimistic, Lou (played by Patrick Wilson) maintained the same righteous resolve to protect and serve. Wilson had to chart the narrative growth into Carradine’s portrayal, conveying it organically. The results deliver two performances that worked together in perfect synchronicity.
7. Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley)
Season four of Fargo received the most divisive response to date. Jessie Buckley’s performance, on the other hand, received universal praise. Her serial killer tendencies and Minnesota background made her a Fargo character reminiscent of the original film. Oraetta’s actions could never be predicted, making her someone truly terrifying. Seeing what she could do always kept audiences guessing.
Simultaneously, Buckley disarmed viewers with the midwestern charm. The results made for one of the best Fargo characters, who paid respectful homage to the original material.
8. Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons)
Many Fargo characters stumble into a world of chaos, like Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons). His wife Peggy’s hitting Rye Gerhardt (Keiran Culkin) with her car takes him aback. While in shock after killing Rye in self-defense, like any good and faithful husband, Ed helps his wife cover up the crime.
That simple action changes their lives and forces Ed to make tough calls. Plemons plays the character's wide-eyed innocence to an incredibly effective degree. He has committed a crime but for an understandable reason. It throws him into perilous situations, which he navigates in entertaining ways. The character's combination of obliviousness and heart makes him earn a place on this list.
9. Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst)
In Fargo’s second season, Peggy sets the story's events into motion. Peggy exists as someone who takes time to “find herself.” She’s someone who continuously gets into situations over her head. Like any Fargo character, Peggy manages to keep that midwestern positivity.
Dunst certainly makes the character unlikable, but audiences understand why. Peggy wants a better life (like Lester Nygaard) but attempts to achieve it in the wrong way. Watching her try to achieve it with Ed by her side makes her journey a compelling watch. Her ability to keep the positivity amidst the chaos earns her a spot on this list.
10. Emmit/Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor)
Emmit and Ray Stussy serve as two of the most interesting Fargo characters, as brothers living entirely different lives.
Emmit has achieved success under the title of “The Parking Lot King of Minnesota.” Ray Stussy, on the other hand, exists on the opposite end of his brother's life. As a parole officer, Ray seeks an opportunity to get rich quickly. This involves stealing a highly-valued stamp from his brother.
McGregor crafts two entirely different characters that feel like real siblings. Audiences begin to care about them over season three and want them to survive. The combination helped to deliver some of the series' most emotionally engaging content.
11. Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon)
Gloria Burgle exists as an interesting variation of the Marge Gunderson character. A dedicated police officer and chief, season three follows her trying to solve her stepfather’s (Ennis Stussy) murder.
In keeping with the season’s existential themes and ideas, Gloria deals with Cotard’s Syndrome. Such a specific mental disease (which involves someone always thinking about death) adds a new depth to a rather familiar character archetype. She has a depressing dichotomy that affects her police work over the season. This illness makes audiences care for her and want her to succeed in this case. The results create one of the series' most morally complex police officers.
12. Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks)
Gus Grimly keeps up with the themes and characterizations of the original Fargo film. Like Molly Solverson, Gus unwillingly gets thrown into a world of darkness and crime. Along the way, he makes mistakes, like shooting Molly. Much like Ed Blomquist, he simply gets in over his head.
Grimly becomes an interesting character because he manages to survive the situation. Keeping such a positive resolve in the face of violence earned him a place on this list. In a world of violence, crime, and depravity, Gus remained pure-hearted.
13. Indira Olmstead (Richa Moorjani)
Indira Olmstead plays a prominent role in Fargo’s fifth season. Throughout the season, her role as the Scandia Minnesota detective takes on an interesting shape. In the pantheon of Fargo characters, her personality remains similar to Marge Gunderson. Plucky, thorough, and very midwestern, she shows her effective detective skills throughout.
Indira’s character arc over the season earns her a spot on this list. The growth she shows utilizes her Minnesota charm to a strong degree. It also leads her in a direction that viewers may not be expecting.
14. Lorraine Lyon (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
Lorraine Lyon has one of Fargo’s most interesting character arcs. Described as “The Queen of Debit,” her exuberant wealth sets up the character as villainous. She remains suspicious of Dot, knowing something seems off about her.
Over the season, the character evolves into something more than a villain. Her icy resolve reveals itself as an asset within Dot’s story. Once Lorraine understands Dot and her past, she becomes an ally in the fight. Jennifer Jason Leigh walks the tightrope between villain and hero to create one of the series' best characters.
15. V.M. Varga (David Thewlis)
V.M. Varga existed as one of the scariest characters in the world of Fargo. Varga crops up as a paranoid, bulimia-ridden criminal mastermind who strikes fear wherever he goes. Whomever he comes into contact with leaves the situation feeling frightened. That ability makes him one of the series’ most menacing and unpredictable villains. Audiences never know what he might say or do next, which gives him an air of terrifying mystery.
16. Witt Farr (Lamorne Morris)
Witt Farr played the role of the kind-hearted midwestern Fargo character in season five. Like many of Fargo’s situations, Farr stumbles into something bigger than himself. From the first episode of season five, he serves as the purity in the chaos.
Farr keeps his morals in check, having only the goal of saving Dot in mind. He manages the role of one of this new season's prime emotional centers. The results delivered a character to remind audiences of the good that can exist in a world of bad men.
17. Loy Cannon (Chris Rock)
Loy Cannon offered a different kind of Fargo “protagonist” for audiences. Cannon has good intentions of getting his idea of “the credit card” started. The character does not fall privy to the typical Fargo character traits. Cannon exists as a straightforward gangster and businessman in a different kind of way for the series. Instead of someone getting in over his head, Cannon keeps his composure. He still has to hold his own in a world of criminals but manages to present himself in an effectively tense exterior.
While lower on this list, Chris Rock delivers an interesting variation on the typical Fargo character.
18. Ole Munch (Sam Spruell)
Ole Munch plays the role of a classic dangerous and arguably psychopathic Fargo criminal. He happily joins the pantheon of villainous characters portrayed by actor Sam Spruell. Starting as a hired gun for Roy Tillman, his characterization and motivation evolve. He grows into having vitriol towards Roy and Dot over season five.
One of Munch’s unique traits comes from his possible past. The season alludes to him as a 500-year-old sin-eater who starts a hunt for the sins of Dot and Roy. That darkly spiritual motivation makes Munch a compelling and mystifying character. His true goals remain unclear, making his character arc engaging and sometimes horrific to watch.
19. Gator Tillman (Joe Keery)
Gator Tillman’s role in Fargo involves lingering in his father’s (Roy Tillman) shadow. He continuously tries to impress his father but always makes mistakes. Messing up in the ways he does feels like a respectful tribute to the original film. He has a goal, but cannot achieve it no matter how hard he tries. Gator simply wants to impress his father but cannot seem to do so. Over season five, he manages to get a needed (and violent) reality check.
Akin to Lester Nygaard, Gator wants a better life, which includes gaining his father’s respect. What he gets by episode nine gives him a darker fate with a silver lining of hope. The results give the series one of its most tragic and engaging characters.
20. Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman)
Akin to Loy Cannon, Josto Fadda ensued as a different kind of Fargo character. In season four, other characters (Like the Fadda crime family) consider Josto a joke. His small stature makes his job of leading his crime family difficult. While of Italian descent, he still struggles with the same types of Fargo character problems. Fadda wants respect in a world that does not respect him, leading to perpetuating some impulsive (and deadly) actions. Those actions deliver the expected Fargo character beats in an entertaining and different way.