Orphan Black Clone Rankings

four Leda clones dance with Felix and Kira

Over the past few years, I’ve been working my way through Orphan Black – Netflix’s sci-fi tale of a group of clones trying to figure out their origins and take control of their futures. I loved seasons one and two, but struggled a bit with the later seasons after the plot started becoming unbearably convoluted.

Nonetheless, one thing that we can surely all admire in this series is Tatiana Maslany, who skilfully played all of the adult ‘Leda’ clones, imbuing each one with such a distinctive character that it was easy to forget they were all being played by the same actress. With that in mind, I present the Orphan Black Clone Rankings – rating each of the Leda clones for personality and likeability.

Note that I won’t be doing the same for the male ‘Castor’ clones, as I found them pretty generic and boring. I also won’t be covering clones from the comics, as I haven’t read those yet.

Sarah Manning

The main character of Orphan Black, Sarah Manning is a con artist with a tendency towards grandiose ambitions and impulsive actions. Despite frequently rebelling against her foster mother, Sarah is fiercely devoted to her family, including her foster brother Felix and her young daughter Kira.

Sarah is decent enough as a main character, but her hotheadedness and refusal to ever listen to common sense can get frustrating at times.

Rating: 3/5 DNA strands

Cosima Niehaus

As a PhD student in biology, Cosima’s smarts are key to unlocking both the mystery of the Leda clones and the respiratory disease that affects many of them. Although it’s unfortunate that she spends a lot of the show ill and coughing up blood, Cosima is still an excellent character. She’s an accomplished scientist, lively, and a lesbian – essentially the perfect character.

Rating: 5/5 DNA strands

Alison Hendrix

I have to admit I didn’t like Alison much at first. She’s portrayed as a classic soccer mom, with her suburban life struggles frequently played for laughs – and she’s determined to have as little as possible to do with the truth behind the Leda clones.

As the show progressed, however, Alison grew on me. Her storylines frequently juxtaposed the mundane with the ridiculous, resulting in a surprising number of dead bodies turning up in her sweet, middle-class life. She also showed an admirable core of steel, standing up for herself and her family when the situation demanded it.

Rating: 3/5 DNA strands

Helena

Sarah’s twin sister, Helena was raised by nuns in Ukraine, before being fostered at the age of 12. Her foster parents managed to convince her she was the original Leda, and that she must murder her clones.

Helena’s mix of childlike naivete and almost psychotic violence initially makes her a difficult character to like – especially as she starts the series by hunting down and killing the other clones. She remains fiercely independent throughout the series, and shares her twin sister’s tendency to make dangerous decisions, but does at least stop killing her ‘sisters’.

Over time, Helena becomes a more well established and likeable character, with plenty of memorable lines and scenes. She’s always unpredictable, and the series would be much less interesting without her.

Rating: 3/5 DNA strands

Beth Childs

A police officer who commits suicide in the very first episode, kicking off the events of the main series. Although Beth herself eventually appears in a flashback episode at the start of season four, most of what we see onscreen is just Sarah impersonating her.

As the classic “tough cop on the outside but struggling with stress, anxiety and substance abuse issues”, Beth was at least more than a one-note personality, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

Rating: 2/5 DNA strands

Rachel Duncan

A rare instance of a clone who was raised to be self-aware of her status instead of just growing up in the ‘wild’. Rachel was portrayed as a calculating villain with daddy issues and a fondness for kinky sex. Unfortunately, while she was indeed impeccably portrayed by Maslany, her character veers just a little too much into a comic-book depiction of an evil arch-villain.

Rating: 2/5 DNA strands

Krystal Goderich

A manicurist who is first seen in season three, Krystal is seemingly introduced as a comic relief “valley girl” character who is blissfully unaware of what’s really going on. She becomes drawn into events after convincing herself that she has unearthed a massive conspiracy perpetrated by cosmetics companies.

Although initially introduced as stereotypical “dumb blonde”, the writers do a good job of slowly building on Krystal’s character, revealing that she’s actually a lot sharper than she initially appears. While she offers a good balance to the show, however, she is far from the most interesting clone.

Rating: 2/5 DNA strands

M.K.

An accomplished, M.K. spends a lot of time wearing a sheep mask and helping Sarah from the shadows. Although she apparently has more development in the comics, in the TV show M.K. feels more like a device for advancing the plot than a character in her own right.

Rating: 1/5 DNA strands

Tony Sawicki

The only known trans clone, Tony appears in just one episode, but makes a big impression. He has the fiery personality of his sisters, and, like Sarah, has something of a criminal record.

The highlight of Tony’s appearance is his immediate chemistry with Felix – it’s not only delightful to watch, but plays out the “what if Felix was attracted to women and had romantic tension with Sarah, instead of just loving her as a sibling?” scenario. It’s a shame we don’t get to see more of Tony.

Rating: 4/5 DNA strands

Katja Obinger

Even though Katja is killed very early on, we do get to see Sarah’s rather magnificent impersonation of her. Even though we can’t be sure that Sarah’s depiction of a self-assured, demanding personality is much like the real Katja, I would definitely have liked to see that basis used to develop a much fuller character. With that in mind, my rating is really more for Katja’s potential than what we actually see onscreen.

Rating: 4/5 DNA strands

Charlotte Bowles

At only eight years old, Charlotte is by far the youngest of the clones, the only successful attempt to create a new batch of Ledas. Although she’s pretty calm and enigmatic for an eight-year-old, she’s also not that interesting.

Rating: 1/5 DNA strands

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