All “Succession” Seasons Ranked

“Succession” has recently ended, cementing itself as one of the greatest television series of all time. In celebration of the show’s run, it’s time to rank all four seasons from best to bestest… if that makes any grammatical sense.

4. Season 1

Succession Season 1

The first season of “Succession” does a great job at introducing us to this profanity-ridden corporate nightmare world and the deeply flawed characters who shape it. All the roles are perfectly cast and the audience is immediately able to connect to each actor. This is also the funniest season of the series. The hapless Tom and Greg have never been more lovably awkward and pathetic; they’ve always been the true love story of the show, both being total scene stealers as the comic relief. It’s Jeremy Strong’s performance as Kendall, however, that propelled this show to greatness right out of the gate. Strong is the most gifted thespian of this already stellar group of actors. He brings such an unstable intensity and misery to the role, making him the tragic Sisyphean figure we simultaneously love and loathe. In all four seasons of the series, Strong gave one of the finest performances in television history.

With all praise for the freshman season aside, it’s got plenty of issues. Firstly, its pacing is all over the place. Whenever we’re not focusing on Kendall, Tom, or Greg, the show loses momentum and can’t quite figure out how to keep the audience engaged. The season goes from fast-paced, intense sequences to slow lulls over and over again. Season 1 also has the weakest aspect of the series looming over it: Lawrence Yee. What a lame villain. At the end of the pilot, he’s projected to be some agent of chaos who sets out to burn Waystar to the ground, but he never does anything of serious dramatic note. He’s an annoying and utterly boring character who serves zero purpose other than to give Kendall something to worry about in the pilot.

3. Season 3

Succession Season 3

This is arguably the most subversive season of “Succession” due to the stark contrast between the marketing and the series itself. It wasn’t the Kendall vs. Logan battle we were promised, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Kendall continuing to lose and humiliate himself, while painful to watch, follows the realism and anxiety which forms the show. Watching Jeremy Strong morph from happy-go-lucky and enthusiastic to broken and borderline suicidal is incredibly powerful and exemplifies the strengths of the show, albeit tough to experience.

The standouts of this season are, once again, Tom and Greg. Over these nine episodes the pair crawl through the mud as they face pressures of incarceration, leading to their usual anxiety-fueled banter and shenanigans. This is really Tom’s season; the writers crafted a compelling contrast between him and Kendall, as we see Tom succeed through self-sacrifice while Kendall fails because of his narcissism.

Unfortunately, this season struggles to maintain a consistent pace and focused story, much like Season 1. It doesn’t quite reach the exhilarating heights of Season 2 but doesn’t make any grave mistakes either. Since it’s potentially Tom’s best season and Mr. Wambsgans is undoubtedly the best character of the show, I edge it out above Season 1.

2. Season 4

Succession Season 4

Season 4 landed the ship beautifully. The decision to kill off Logan so early on was not only pleasantly shocking, but also made sense in terms of story progression. The show is about who’s going to succeed him after all, and his death created the optimal drama and tension surrounding the power grabbing. Episode 3 “Connor’s Wedding” is possibly the greatest episode of the entire series, and arguably the most riveting episode of television since “Game of Thrones” 6×09 “Battle of the Bastards.” It’s a prime example of how to subvert expectations in a way that’s actually beneficial to the narrative, rather than what we’ve seen in films such as The Last Jedi.

Besides Episode 3, this season still has some of the best individual episodes in the series. Episode 4 “Honeymoon States” is a brilliant Kendall episode reminiscent of “The Godfather: Part II” and Episode 8 “America Decides” is the most pulse-pounding chapter of the series.

Likewise, the series finale was nearly perfect. Television finales are challenging to create and often unsatisfying, as writers are so frightened that they end up panicking and producing some messy conclusion which breaks the rules and arcs built over the previous seasons. Showrunner Jesse Armstrong thankfully knew the formula to a proper series finale, which is to write conclusions the audience doesn’t expect while not subverting expectations too drastically. What’s most important is to stay true to the characters and their arcs, and “Succession” did that. Plus, I actually leaped out of my seat and cheered when Tom became CEO, something I almost never do. He’s top ten, maybe even top five best television characters of all time for me.

While I found Season 4 to be a legendary sendoff, it still could’ve been a little bit better. Firstly, the Pierce plotline needed to be cut completely. The writers forgot about it as soon as Logan died and left it dangling, never to be spoken of again. Secondly, it was frustrating how all these major events happened in such quick succession, quite literally day-to-day. First, Logan dies on Connor’s wedding day. The next day is the wake, which makes sense, but then there’s the GoJo negotiations in Sweden followed immediately by the Living+ announcement followed immediately by the tailgate party followed immediately by election night followed by Logan’s funeral and, finally, the concluding board meeting. All this takes place over what’s implied to be a couple weeks, which is completely nonsensical. In the previous three seasons, we’d get one, maybe two, of such key events per season. What happened?

1. Season 2

Succession Season 2

This is peak “Succession.” Every episode is utter chaos and it’s impossible not to revel in it. The season moves at a breakneck pace with Logan at his most tyrannical and evil. Like Season 4, Season 2 has phenomenal individual episodes but they’re within an already impeccable season-long arc. The “Safe Room” episode is possibly the funniest out of the whole show as Tom has to interview a neo-Nazi newscaster, only to then be rushed alongside Greg into a dumpy safe room after a shooting scare.

Season 2’s penultimate episode “D.C.” is my favorite of the entire series; I know “Connor’s Wedding” is objectively a little better, but this episode encapsulates everything the show does so well. For one thing, it’s (somehow) darkly comedic to see Roman stuck in a hotel taken hostage by terrorists, but I also think this is Tom’s greatest episode (probably why I have a soft spot for it). It’s heartbreaking to see him humiliated and fed to the wolves of Congress, but one can’t help but tear up laughing as he attempts to explain the repugnant “Moe Lester” email threads.

I think what makes Season 2 the best season is just how focused it is. There’s no dangling plot threads or pacing issues which the other seasons sometimes suffered from. Season 2 is clean and straight to the point, with Logan challenging the other characters far beyond their breaking points to put out his fires. This is the season which cemented this show as one of the all-time greats, and it’s a flawless thrill ride.

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