Cast of Billions on Showtime Sitting in an Office

Billions Characters Ranked From Most to Least Ethical

All photos courtesy of SHOWTIME.

Would you ever poison multiple people and cause millions of dollars of investments to evaporate in the blink of an eye because of a personal vendetta? No? Well, how about publicly humiliating your beloved spouse for your own professional gain? No again? 

It goes without saying that this behavior would be pretty unthinkable in the real world, but for the ethically challenged characters of the hit series “Billions” on SHOWTIME, it’s just another day at the office. 

What started four seasons ago as a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game between ambitious District Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and cutthroat hedge fund manager Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) has evolved into a broader merry-go-round of back-stabbing, broken promises, and desperate actions from seemingly every character in the show. And while personal and professional alliances shift on a weekly (and in some cases hourly) basis, the one constant in the world of “Billions” is the gleeful absence of morality that seems to plague many of its central characters. That’s no accident — it’s exactly what we come back for week after week.

As the fourth season winds down, let’s look at eight “Billions” characters and examine where they fall on the scale from most to least ethical. Who has a conscience? Who has a devil on their shoulder? Who is the devil on a shoulder? It’s judgement time.

Beware: spoilers ahead!

1. Bryan Connerty

Bryan Connerty from Showtime's Billions standing in front of a police car

Who is he?

U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, a position he took over from a disgraced Chuck Rhoades. It’s a fitting move, as Connerty (played by Toby Leonard Moore) often functions as the just and ethical foil to an increasingly amoral Rhoades. 

Ethical moment of truth

The peak of Connerty’s moral virtue ironically came as an act of loyalty to Rhoades, who in typical “Billions” fashion would go on to become his mortal enemy. At the end of Season 1, Axe tries to lure Connerty to the rich and powerful world of Axe Capital, but Connerty refuses to give in to the temptation and stays with his less glamorous position in the New York district attorney’s office. This is one of the first—and only—times in the show where we see a character decline a position of increased power to stay true to their moral intuition. 

2. Dudley Mafee

Dudley Mafee from Showtime's Billions typing at desk with computer

Who is he?

Former Axe Capital analyst who jumped ship to be the first hire for rival firm Taylor Mason Capital. Played by Dan Soder.

Ethical moment of truth

For all his goofiness, Mafee tends to do the right thing, like in Season 2 when he struggled to relay a tip to Wags that would make a lot of money but destabilize the entire country of Nigeria in the process. Mafee held out, only to have someone beat him to the punch. This hesitation gives us an interesting look into what makes Mafee tick, and the resulting outcome reveals a dark lesson — in the world of “Billions,” you can’t always help the world, so sometimes it’s best to help yourself.

3. Kate Sacker

Kate Sacker from Showtime's Billions holding folders in the attorney general's office

Who is she?

Assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and close ally to Connerty (and formerly to Rhoades, before their professional falling out). Played by popular Broadway actress Condola Rashad.

Ethical moment of truth

Sacker faces an impossible choice near the end of Season 3 as she chooses to ally with either Rhoades or Connerty as the two pursue their oddly similar obsessions. While Rhoades schemes to take down his boss, U.S. Attorney General Jock Jeffcoat, Connerty plans to take a shot at Rhoades himself. In the ultimate showcase of her political game-playing prowess, Sacker secretly collaborates with Connerty and Jock Jeffcoat to surprise Rhoades and direct his temporary downfall. 

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4. Mike “Wags” Wagner

Mike Wags Wagner from Showtime's Billions Talks to Bobby Axelrod at his Desk

Who is he?

Perhaps one of the most cultish-ly adored and endlessly quotable characters on TV right now, David Costabile’s “Wags” is the figurative devil on Axe’s shoulder. Officially, he functions as chief operating officer for Axe Capital. Unofficially? He’s an enabler, and often a catalyst of the worst behavior that goes down at Axe Capital.

Ethical moment of truth

We know, we know, why did Wags get such a (relatively) decent ranking? Looking back on past episodes, it’s readily apparent that despite his propensity to over-indulge in just about every facet of his life, Wags is ultimately a very loyal friend and colleague to Axe. And sure, this loyalty has its own slippery slope of ethical lapses, but there are worse offenders on the show. Besides, who else can make ethical lapses in judgement seem as lighthearted and airy. 

5. Taylor Mason

Taylor Mason from Showtime's Billions wearing a vest, shirt and tie

Who are they?

Played by Asia Kate Dillon, this young cerebral superstar turned chief investment officer at Axe Capital left at the end of Season 3 to start their own rival firm, Taylor Mason Capital, earning the wrath of Axe in the process.

Ethical moment of truth

Taylor’s gradual evolution from idealistic intern to jaded and cutthroat hedge fund manager has been a wild ride, and two key moments capture this journey toward moral duplicity: in Season 2, Taylor argues for bankrupting the sleepy town of Sandicot in upstate New York in order to recoup $500 billion in losses, and later on in Season 3, they surprise everyone with their pivotal betrayal of Axe to form their own rival shop and poach Mafee from right under his nose.

6. Wendy Rhoades

Wendy Rhoades from Showtime's Billions looks inquisitive

Who is she?

Emotionally intelligent performance coach/guru at Axe Capital, played by Maggie Siff (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Mad Men”). She’s also married to Chuck Rhoades, which has placed her in many uncomfortable positions as the confidant of both Chuck and Axe.

Ethical moment of truth

In the infamous “Ice Juice” fiasco in Season 2, Wendy knowingly, and illegally, piles her own money into “shorting” the initial public offering of the Ice Juice stock in order to realize personal gains (something akin to breathing in this show) and, more questionably, to humiliate her husband, who was heavily invested in the company with his hard-nosed father Chuck Sr. As we’ll see with the Rhoades family, the personal betrayals cut the deepest.

7. Bobby “Axe” Axelrod

Bobby Axe Axelrod sits at end of a conference table

Who is he?

Damian Lewis’s brilliant, ruthless hedge fund manager and founder of Axe Capital will stop at nothing to gain a competitive edge or take down the threats in his path, no matter what they are.

Ethical moment of truth

Axe faced a pivotal ethical moment in Season Two when choosing between eating a $500 million loss or bankrupting the town of Sandicot and stripping away its school and municipalities in order to reclaim it. Are we at all surprised that he chose the latter option, and celebrated the decision by gleefully peeling off in his sports car while listening to AC/DC?

8. Chuck Rhoades

Chuck Rhoades from Showtime's Billions standing outside in a jacket

Who is he?

Former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was ousted for trying to undermine and expose his boss. After many morally questionable moves, Rhoades (played with zeal by Paul Giamatti) lands back on his feet early in Season 4 to become the attorney general of New York.

Ethical moment of truth

Chuck has stepped on many, many folks on his rocky path to the top — friends and family included. Apart from “submarining” his best friend for a multi-million dollar loss during the Ice Juice scandal, perhaps his most egregious act to date occurred earlier this season, when he violated the trust of Wendy, his closest confidant, and revealed the most intimate details of their personal lives in a televised press conference in order to secure the nomination of attorney general for New York. At this point, there’s really no one that Chuck won’t throw under the bus in order to secure or maintain power.

So there you have it. It’s only fitting that the show’s original protagonist has completely flip-flopped into heel status by the end of this season, and it’s precisely why we’ll gladly have a recurring Sunday night date with Chuck and everyone else within the “Billions” universe.

If you’re not caught up on the latest season of “Billions,” watch now on FrontierTV or login with your cable provider on SHOWTIME ANYTIME

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