The Golden Girls: Every Major Character, Ranked
The Golden Girls: Every Major Character, Ranked
Susan Harris’ show The Golden Girls ran from 1985 to 1992. The comedy focused on a group of four middle-aged women who live together in Miami. The show – which remains popular today – broke beyond what could have been a typical sitcom with its great writing and excellent characters. Blanche (Rue McClanahan), Rose (Betty White), Dorothy (Bea Arthur), and Sophia (Estelle Getty) had many laughs and emotional moments over seven seasons, and the actors are often considered the greatest sitcom cast. Here’s our ranking of all the major Golden Girls characters.
Stan Zbornak (Herb Edelman) was Dorothy’s ex-husband. Despite their divorce – after he cheated on her – he made several appearances in Dorothy’s life. Stan was often presented as an unlikeable jerk, but did have some kinder moments where the audience could see why Dorothy originally loved him and their life together. He often tried – unsuccessfully – to reconcile with her, but grew to accept her getting married in the finale. The show fully acknowledged his bad past while allowing him to slightly redeem himself.
Miles Webber (Harold Gould) was Rose’s boyfriend in the show’s later seasons. He was a college professor who initially made Rose insecure of her intelligence, but met her with sweet acceptance. Though his past of being a former mafia accountant in witness protection complicates things, he still loved Rose, and they got through it together. They had a good understanding of their relationship, deciding not to marry and rush into things. He was a good partner for Rose, who gave her the kind of romance she deserved.
Sophia Petrillo was Dorothy’s mother, with insults just as sharp as her daughter’s. She moved in with the women after leaving a retirement home, and filled their house with her great cooking. She was honest, sometimes to a fault, as she delivered insults to just about anyone, including a funeral home director who thought her funeral was being pre-arranged. Despite her harsh sides, she did truly care for all the women, and would regularly give them advice. She even showed how caring she could be when she was friends with Alvin and stayed through his Alzheimer’s, or spent her days in the hospital visiting a young boy. With equal parts sharp humor and slight softness, Getty – who, according to Outsider, was actually younger than Arthur and got the part by auditioning dressed as an old lady – made Sophia a great character, and a great addition to the show.
Rose Nylund was sweet, innocent, and occasionally dim-witted – she was even voted “most likely to get stuck in a tuba” in high school. She cared deeply for her friends and for others, even working in a grief center. Rose is considered Betty White’s best performance, and for good reason. Her sweet nature still had genuine depth to it, and White often nailed the absurdity and sincerity at the same time, like confessing that her husband died while in bed with her, and how it gave her a fear of intimacy for a while. Her stories of small-town Minnesota life also brought absurd humor and contrast to the other women’s lives. Despite all the ways the others lovingly teased her, Rose never let it bring her down, remaining cheerful and kind. She even found happiness with Miles later on, letting her experience love again.
Blanche Devereaux was a Southern woman who was charming and promiscuous, with a cheerful personality. She was proud and open about her sexuality and relationships, even proclaiming that flirting was part of her heritage. She got on many boasts about her past romances and had hilarious lines, like, “Eat dirt and die, trash.” Though many of her moments revolved around her love life, she also had more serious, emotional moments that showed her depth. She was there for her daughter when she had to give birth, and when a professor offered her an A in exchange for sexual favors, Blanche declined, and proudly earned the A herself. She also broke up with a man after realizing she would take a backseat to his career. Though her age weakened her confidence at times, she always got it back, and remained confident in herself. She knew she deserved love, and her strong, well-rounded character exemplified that.
Dorothy Zbornak was a teacher best known for her no-nonsense attitude and sharp insults. She had many strong comebacks, like when she responded to Blanche’s claim that her date was five years younger than her with, “In what, Blanche, dog years?” Each one-liner was delivered in a deadpan voice with a stern eyebrow raise, performed perfectly by Arthur. The humor was given depth by her love for her mother and serious things like her chronic fatigue.
Dorothy also had a long and rewarding narrative in her relationship with Stan. Hurt by him cheating, she often shied away from dating as much as Blanche and Rose did. However, she maintained a soft spot for him and the life they had. Her relationship struggles made her getting married even more rewarding. Though it was sad when she left her friends – caused by Arthur’s own desire to leave the show, according to ScreenRant – it was nice to see her give love a second chance, completing her narrative.