Every Main Character From True Detective Ranked From Worst To Best

When does Season Four start? We need more characters like these.

True Detective
Warner Bros. Television Distributions

Like many anthology series' one of the best things about them is that you can watch an entire season in its singularity and not have to have any context before or after. In terms of True Detective, we're given three unique but also similar stories in which a crime is investigated across multiple time periods, all while including well-rounded police detectives.

While the series has had its ups and downs; it would be pointless now to recollect how poorly the second season was received, when the incredible third season resurrected and brought the series back to its place as a Grade-A crime show.

In these three seasons (so far) we've seen a very diverse spectrum of characters both lawful and not. With the settings and time periods changing with the series each season, so have the characteristics of the main players on the show.

What started off as two detectives investigating a murder, has expanded into a series where a main character doesn't even have to be a cop to be considered one of the investigators in the season.

Here is hoping a fourth season will go into production, and a new set of interesting characters will grace our screens soon.

But in the meantime, here is a ranking of all main characters across the True Detective anthology.

Discounted from this list are recurring appearances (eluded to or not); so no Yellow King, Hoyt Family members or guys in bird hats I'm afraid.

15. Papania & Gilbough - Season 1

True Detective

It seems strange kicking off a rankings list with someone(s) from the flawless first season, but out of all the main and overarching elements that made the first season so great, it would be fair to say that detectives Thomas Papania and Maynard Gilbough weren't exactly holding the pillars in place.

With two-thirds of the season told in flashbacks and from the perspective of Rust and Marty, Papania and Gilbough spend a majority of their time on screen (or behind a recording camera), passing each other questionable glances and interrogating the two lead detectives.

The fact that the case from almost two decades ago has been re-opened plagues many questions for us as the audience, and our hope is that Papania or Gilbough would have new information that could help Rust and Marty put the clues together.

Unfortunately, that isn't the case, and it would seem the two questioning detectives don't have anything besides suspicions and to speculate red herrings for us as an audience.

The first season was not about these two detectives solving the case, so I'll give them credit that they aren't entirely useless. But they offer no insight our main heroes didn't already know.


I overthink a lot of things. Will talk about pretty much anything for a great length of time. I'm obsessed with General Slocum from the 2002 Spider-Man film. I have questions that were never answered in that entire trilogy!