Orange is the New Black season five’s top 10 characters

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Warning: spoilers ahead

We’ve not counted how many key players are actually in Orange is the New Black, not least because they introduce and remove characters all the time.

There have been some incredible roles in previous seasons (we’re looking at you, Poussey), so in the name of fairness, we’ll be listing our favourites in the newly dropped OITNB season 5.

And yes, it’s a matter of opinion – here’s ours:

10. Judy King (Blair Brown)

Orange is the New Black season five’s top 10 characters

Based on TV chef and businesswoman Martha Stewart, Judy King is one of the show’s least sympathetic characters – but her southern drawl, wit and charm make for great viewing.

We’d actually be inclined to put her higher up this list, but she’s left Litchfield by episode six of season five, after being held hostage and tied to a crucifix-style plank by the white supremacists. Watching her fall from grace hurt.

9. Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox)

orange is the new black sophia burset

Again, Sophia would be higher up this list, but she doesn’t actually feature a great deal in season 5. Still, she does agree to save CO Humphrey’s life after Daya shot him, despite his transphobic comment in the first episode and the horrors she suffered last season.

8. Carrie ‘Big Boo’ Black (Lea DeLaria)

Orange is the New Black season five’s top 10 characters
Admittedly Boo doesn’t contribute much in terms of plot development during season 5, but she has to be included, because she’s still hilarious (“Of course, the dyke does tech. Perfect.”) and still has ‘BUTCH’ tattooed on her arm.

Also, her Law & Order-style trial of Pennsatucky in episode 6 brings some light relief to a fraught season five.

7. Linda Ferguson (Beth Dover)

Orange is the New Black season five’s top 10 characters
As we know, Linda is not a Litchfield inmate – she’s the Director of Purchasing for MCC. We’re focusing specifically on the incarcerated characters here, but there’s a loophole as Linda pretends to be an inmate for a big chunk of season 5 – and she really takes to prison life. “I’m the counterfeit c*** of Connecticut,” Linda tells Maria Ruiz.

There are also some great flashback scenes to Linda’s sorority girl days (yep, she was basically responsible for her sorority sister’s grisly death).

6. Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren (Uzo Aduba)

suzanne orange is the new black season five

Suzanne’s outburst at the end of season 4 was the catalyst for Poussey’s death – so she’s very much focused on her deceased friend this season.

She declares the spot where Poussey died “sacred”, before attempting to summon her spirit (and makes a convincing medium, too). She also adorably relies on Gloria to feed her regular meals in the midst of the riot, which brings us to nicely to our next entry…

5. Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva)

gloria mendoza in orange is the new black

Okay, Gloria is a bit of a grump, but that’s what makes her so relatable. Who wouldn’t be pissed off in there?

She’s also one of the only inmates actually trying to help in a riot situation, by feeding people (mainly Suzanne), looking out for gun-wielding Daya, and generally keeping cool.

4. Galina ‘Red’ Reznikov (Kate Mulgrew)

red in orange is the new black season five

To be honest, Red is our ultimate favourite character, but we’re focusing on season 5 specifically here.

Red spends much of the fifth season trying to get dirt on Piscatella, forming an unlikely and riotous friendship with Flores.

This results in her – and her daughters – facing the wrath of Piscatella, in one of the most harrowing episodes so far this season.

3. Frieda Berlin (Dale Soules)

Orange is the New Black season five’s top 10 characters

Flashing back to Frieda as a young Nature Scout, season 5 reveals her no-nonsense character is a survivalist. “Could you kill an animal and clean it without cutting the intestines? Could you take its skin and salt it and tan it to keep warm? Or would you sit in the corner with your doll and wait to die?” she asks a scared compatriot.

Meanwhile, present-day Frieda has built an entire – and enormous – apartment in Litchfield’s basement, equipped with sofas, games and a computer. All of the above justifies her place on this list.

2. Cindy ‘Black Cindy’ Hayes (Adrienne C Moore)

black cindy in orange is the new black

Cindy needs to be crowned ‘Most Hilarious Inmate Ever’. Whoever writes her lines is doing viewers all over the world a great service. From discovering she’s been made into a ‘Black Lattes Matter’ meme to having Taystee’s back at all times, Cindy is an all-round excellent character, and she’s really, really cheering up season 5.

1. Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson (Danielle Brooks)

Taystee orange is the new black

Taystee is the irrefutable ruler of OITNB’s fifth season. She fights for justice for Poussey with impassioned speeches and endless determination, putting most of the fruitlessly rioting inmates to shame. When she sets the Flaming Hot Cheetos on fire at the end of episode 6, she reaches peak greatness. We love you, T.