The 15 Best Characters In Sex Education, Ranked

The charming, quirky world of Sex Education includes all kinds of engaging characters. Each of them is unique and entertaining in their own right, but together they create a brilliant mix of heart and hilarity. Moordale may seem like a quiet and uneventful yet accurate depiction of a high school, but these lot sure add some much-needed spice.

RELATED: What Your Favorite Sex Education Character Says About You

Out of all these oddball characters, some stand out more than others. Everyone gets their chance to shine, and most are very popular among the fans. Still, some managed to go the extra mile and become immediate favorites, whether because of their sympathetic and relatable storylines, their undeniable warmth and charm, or a combination of both factors.

Updated on September 19th, 2021 by Kevin Pantoja: Sex Education characters are an interesting bunch because the series features a strong blend of high school students and adults who go through all manner of awkward and emotional moments. One of the coolest things about the show is how it keeps giving new or previously supporting characters something more to do in later seasons. That makes it so the best Sex Education characters is a constantly changing subject with some moving up and down depending on their storylines and performances over the years.

15 Olivia Hanan

At the start of the show, Olivia Hanan (Simone Ashley) doesn’t seem like the kind of character who will find a way to stand out. She’s a member of “The Untouchables” and just came across as a popular girl who could be mean to the main characters. Of course, she proved there was more to her than that.

Olivia played a main part in one of Sex Education‘s best episodes, which centered on a group of girls coming together through their shared experiences of harrowing sexual assault. Although she doesn’t get a ton of screen time, audiences know who Olivia is as she delivers laughs while being a sympathetic character.

14 Viv Odusanya

Sex Education Viv with Jackson

Viv Odusanya (Chinenye Ezeudu) was a new addition to the cast during season 2. She is a genius who bonds with Jackson as she tutors him but they also become close friends. Viv may come across as a robot without social skills at first but she is clearly a caring individual as evidenced by her telling Jackson’s parents about his self-harm.

In season 2, she was a crowd favorite but her season 3 arc drops her down a bit. In an effort to boost her college resume, she made bad decisions, hurt Jackson, and sided with a woman who was emotionally harming the students. In the end, Viv made up for it at least, proving that she can grow and is still a good person.

13 Michael Groff

Michael Groff in Sex Education

During the show’s first two seasons, Michael Groff (Alistair Petrie) was incredibly unlikeable. He was overly strict and uptight and did terrible things. That included bullying his son, completely ignoring his wife, and framing Jean by releasing all of her private notes about conversations with the students.

However, he had the beginnings of his redemption in season 3. Michael hit rock bottom after getting fired and going through a divorce. He was humbled as he spoke to Jean and, taking her advice, found something he actually enjoyed. He found happiness in cooking and audiences learned about his rough upbringing. In season 4, the biggest change he still needs to do is to make amends with Adam.

12 Maureen Groff

Mrs. Groff looking sad beside her husband at the car in Sex Education

Mr. Groff’s life turning upside down was certainly his own fault but most of it wasn’t triggered until Maureen Groff (Samantha Spiro) stood up for herself. Realizing that she was in a loveless marriage, Maureen spoke with Jean and decided that she wanted more out of life, making the needed changes.

RELATED: 5 Storylines That Got Too Much Time In Sex Education Season 3 (& 5 That Needed More)

Audiences really appreciate a strong woman and Maureen proved that’s who she was. She is also a great mother as she saw that her son was dating another male and let him come to her with the truth when he was ready. On top of it all, she is also a tremendous friend to Jean.

11 Cal Bowman

Dua Saleh as Cal in Sex Education Season 3

Sex Education is hugely important in the LGBTQ+ community. It features gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual characters, and more. Season 3 introduced Cal Bowman (Dua Saleh), the show’s first non-binary character (a second debuted almost immediately afterward).

Cal brought something different to the show thanks to their American background and laid-back attitude. They were able to get Jackson to chill out a bit more and they stood up to Hope and her antiquated views on gender roles. Add in how Cal helped Layla, Moordale’s other non-binary student, and they are a true gem.

10 Ola Nyman

Ola (Patricia Allison) got an unfair amount of hate. She used to be the obstacle in Otis and Maeve’s eventual relationship, but she now has a different story and came into her own even more during season 3.

As evidenced by her journey in season 2, Ola is loyal and brave. She stands up for Adam and even gets fired because of it. She’s isn’t afraid to pursue her feelings for Lily and starts a loving and committed relationship with the one-of-a-kind girl. Ola is a refreshing and even inspiring character, with season 3 adding sympathy as she revealed how much the loss of her mother is still weighing on her.

9 Jackson Marchetti

Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling) also subverts a classic teen stereotype of the dumb jock. Handsome, athletic, and popular, he also proves to be understanding, sweet, and multi-talented. Jackson is not without fault, but his learning process and road to emotional maturity are some of the show’s most compelling arcs.

Jackson’s relationship with Maeve helps him more mature and makes him open up to his mothers. In season 2, his friendshup with Viv helps him get in touch with his artistic sensibilities and discover a new side to himself. Jackson also pursued a romance with Cal and tried new things during season 3, continuing his impressive evolution.

8 Otis Milburn

sex education otis mustache

Otis (Asa Butterfield) is the show’s lead, and he certainly is likable. Clumsy, shy, and unintentionally hilarious, Otis is a walking contradiction: a very knowledgeable and put-together young man who’s still emotionally immature. However, that’s what makes him such an engaging and easy-to-root-for character, as he’s an imperfect romantic hero.

His ongoing relationship with Maeve provides the show’s emotional center, making them one of the most beloved couples nowadays. Furthermore, his complex dynamic with his mother and loving friendship with Eric makes him a one-of-a-kind protagonist who isn’t afraid to show his feelings. Season 3 saw him become more selfish as he didn’t help others and he broke Ruby’s heart but by the end, he understood where he went wrong and righted the ship.

7 Lily Iglehart

When it comes to unique characters, no one beats Lily (Tanya Reynolds). The quirky and creative girl is truly a one-of-a-kind character full of surprises and endearing moments. The show often celebrates her uniqueness and even showcases her daring and vibrant mind during season 2 by having her mount a bizarre but very entertaining musical play.

RELATED: The 10 Best Supporting Characters In Sex Education, Ranked

Other characters are, at times, puzzled by Lily’s behavior and hobbies, but ostracized for it. The one time that it begins to happen at the end of season 3 nearly sees Lily lose herself but she got through it. Lily even came to understand that she messed up by ignoring Ola’s problems and they were on the road to fixing things.

6 Jean Milburn

Jean, is a unique character in streaming. Played to perfection by television icon Gillian Anderson, Jean is a blunt, intelligent, sexually liberated woman on a crusade to de-stigmatize sex and educate women about their own pleasure.

Jean is like a breath of fresh air, a woman who isn’t afraid of her sexuality or needs. She also stands her ground and doesn’t let anyone bully or intimidate her. On top of everything, she genuinely wants to help others, and her guidance gives the kids at Moordale some much-needed peace of mind. In season 3, she showed both her most vulnerable and strong sides, adding to her layers as a character.

5 Eric Effiong

From day one, Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) is a bright spot on a mostly cloudy town. His outfits are alone dazzle, but it’s his personality that makes all the difference.

RELATED: Eric’s 10 Funniest Quotes In Sex Education

Eric’s journey is all about coming to terms with himself and his sexuality. The moment when he walks into the dance with neon makeup and a fabulously fierce outfit is as inspiring as it’s iconic. His tender relationship with his dad is also a highlight of his journey. By season 2, he’s comfortable enough to have his first boyfriend and even helps Adam deal with his issues. Season 3 saw him learn more about his roots and come to realize that though he loves Adam, they’re in different places right now.

4 Aimee Gibbs

Bubbly, innocent, and endearing, Aimee is Sex Education‘s most loveable character. She’s loyal, committed, sweet, and supportive, always there for her friends. During season 2, Aimee (Aimee Lou Wood) deals with sexual harassment, but her friends help her face her trauma in an empowering moment. It’s a powerful storyline that unfortunately resonates now more than ever.

Recently, Aimee Lou Lou Wood won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the show, and it’s easy to see why. Aimee is easily one of the show’s funniest characters, and the show never mocks or ridicules her. Instead, they invite the audience to laugh along with her.

3 Adam Groff

Adam (Connor Swindells) embodies to “bully” trope in high school stories. Indeed, he starts the show as a rude and emotionally guarded menace who tortures Eric, whom he calls “tromboner.” In reality, Adam has deep issues of his own.

After a brief sting in military school, Adam returns and tries to get his act together. Throughout season 2, he goes from a young man afraid to look people in the eye to someone willing to make a grand love declaration in front of the entire school. Season 3 was even better for Adam, as he was a good boyfriend to Eric, formed bonds with Ruby and Rahim, tried to do better in school, learned a new skill, and came out to his mother. It went a long way in making Adam a beloved character.

2 Ruby Matthews

Unlike some of the other main characters, Ruby (Mimi Keene) doesn’t get much screentime per season. However, after stealing the show at the end of season 2, fans wanted more of Ruby in season 3. Thankfully, they got it and Ruby shined brighter than anyone else.

Ruby does exhibit numerous mean girl attributes– hilariously cruel one-liners and wicked fashion sense, for starters–but she’s more than her image. She had remarkable chemistry with Otis and opened herself up in a more vulnerable way than anyone expected. She let him into her life and fell in love, only to be spurned. As soon as audiences finished season 3, they took to Twitter, Reddit, and other platforms to deliver high praise for Ruby, who some say even carried the episodes.

1 Maeve Wiley

Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) is one of television’s best characters, period. Unapologetic, wise, bold, and sarcastic, Maeve is one of the most memorable teen figures in a long time. She’s fiercely independent and afraid to let others in, having been disappointed by others before.

Still, Maeve’s journey is intricate but engaging. She goes through more ups and downs than anyone else in the show but never gives up. Her vulnerability, first with Jackson and then with Otis, also makes her more relatable, while her drive and intelligence make her an inspiring Sex Education character. Complicated but infinitely likable, Maeve is Sex Education‘s not-so-secret weapon. Every show should have its own Maeve Wiley. In season 3, though she finally got her kiss with Otis, she made the right call and chose to further her education in America.

NEXT: Sex Education Characters Ranked By Intelligence

Split image showing Otis and Ruby, and Cal and Viv in Sex Education Season 3

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