What drew viewers into Ozark, Netflix’s hit money-laundering drama, was its core cast of characters. From the Byrdes to the Snells to the Langmores, the characters continued to intrigue with their machinations every episode.
In recent seasons, new and exciting additions have been made to the cast, creating a much larger pool of fan-favorite characters. As a result, the tales have become deeper and more beguiling. Among the newer faces, a few have fared much better than the rest in terms of character development and juicier arcs.
Wendy’s brother Ben shows up at the Byrdes’ home after he gets fired from his job as a teacher for destroying students’ phones. Marty orders him to leave, but Wendy overrules that directive.
Allowing Ben to stay proves to be both a good and bad decision. His free-spirited personality provides plenty of entertainment like when he teaches Jonah how to do high-speed boat chases. Ben also manages to find a way into Ruth’s guarded heart and make her fall in love with him. Unfortunately, he makes one of the biggest character mistakes in Ozark by meddling too much into the cartel’s affairs. This gets him killed.
While the Navarro cartel gets mentioned right from the first episode, the boss remains in the shadows. But all that changes in season 3 when Omar Navarro is introduced.
Omar is the typical cartel boss: ruthless and overbearing. He is extremely smart and cautious too, and that’s what makes him keep both his subordinates and enemies in check. To make sure Marty is loyal and focused, Omar kidnaps him and subjects him to several mental tests. He is also able to easily see through Helen’s manipulation in season 3, making him a villain who keeps the main characters on their toes at all times.
Viewers have never gotten to see Wendy and Marty in a happy marriage. The show begins with Wendy cheating and the troubles continue from there. To try to fix things and appease their daughter Charlotte, they start seeing therapist Sue Shelby. But this leads to one of the biggest plot twists in Ozark when Sue blackmails them.
Sue first seems like the good-hearted type of elderly woman that audiences have seen many times on TV shows and movies. But it turns out she is way more devious and daring. After the Byrdes accidentally reveal that they work for the cartel, she extracts $100,000 for them in order to zip her mouth. She then buys a beautiful McLaren 570s to prove that she’s still not too old to have fun. The therapist gets to show up to work in style until the cartel comes for her, putting an end to her good times once and for all.
Special Agent Maya Miller
The FBI sends Special Agent Maya Miller to dig into Marty’s business after all other agents fail to get enough evidence to arrest him. She is also shown to be heavily pregnant throughout her time on the show.
Maya’s style is very different from that of other Ozark law enforcement officers. She hardly uses brute force. Instead, she is friendly, preferring to use the “it’s better if you cooperate” approach when dealing with suspects. Her relationship with Marty has since become more of a friendship rather than that of a hunter and hunted.
Frank Cosgrove Jr.
The character immediately appeals to viewers since he’s played by popular Power alum Joseph Sikora. However, the son of mob boss Frank Cosgrove Sr. soon proves to be extremely unlikable by lazing around the casino all day and giving Ruth a hard time.
Cosgrove Jr. is the kind of character whom fans root against, hoping punishment comes his way soon. Having a wealthy and feared father has given him the belief that he doesn’t have to work. He also has an inflated sense of self-importance which makes him go too far when he assaults Ruth for embarrassing him. Punishment does come his way from the unlikely source that is Darlene Snell who blows off his genitals with a shotgun.
One of the richest characters in Ozark, Charles Wilkes is said to have gotten wealthy by selling agricultural equipment, though this is doubted. The Kansas City tycoon is now a major power player, fond of making donations to political candidates and pulling strings to get deals done.
The amount of help that Wilkes gives the Byrdes makes him an extremely useful character to them. From Baby Zeke to Jonah’s donation to his charity event through the illegal offshore accounts, Wilkes keeps proving non-expendable to the main characters. It’s also Wilkes who links the Byrdes up with gaming commissioners, allowing the casino to be approved, so he’s a major player in the Ozark world.
When Helen is sent to the Ozarks, the cartel assigns Nelson to be her bodyguard and driver. Anyone who threatens to interfere with the cartel’s interests is eliminated by him.
Nelson remains mysterious because he is all action and no talk. He doesn’t have a proper arc. All he does is accompany Helen and kill someone. Despite his robotic nature, fans can’t help but look forward to his scenes just to watch him perform his next task with utmost efficiency. The deaths of Sue, Ben, and Helen are all his doing. With Helen dead, it remains to be seen what task Nelson will be given next.
Frank Cosgrove Sr.
The Kansas City mob boss pretends to be a trucking company owner, but he is actually in firm control of the local underworld. In season 2, Buddy, one of the most likable Ozark characters, introduces the Byrdes to Frank to help them with the casino deal.
Since mob bosses always have ties to labor unions, Frank has a firm hold on the unions in Kansas. By seeking him out, Marty hopes to have the casino unionized in order for it to be approved quickly. Unlike other movie and TV mob bosses, Frank isn’t too keen on violence. Instead, he is more focused on diplomacy, making him an intriguing character.