Paper Girls: Characters Ranked By Intelligence

In order to survive the onslaught of temporal anomalies, time-traveling militias, and coming face to face with yourself at an age decades removed from your current timeline, the characters in Paper Girls have to be incredibly smart. Based on Brian K. Vaughan's compelling comic book series, the Amazon series begins with the fateful convergence of four girls on a paper route in 1988 and continues with their involvement in a temporal war in 2019, with various allies trying to help them return to their own time and avoid the nefarious Old Guard that wants events to remain the same that keep them in power.

KJ might come from a wealthy family, but she has a certain emotional intelligence, and Mac might come from a working-class clan, but she has street smarts where it counts. Whether the characters are their ages in 1988 or in 2019, understanding the business of time travel is tricky, and it takes different forms of intelligence to navigate.


12 Grand Father

Grand Father looking serious on Paper Girls

Grand Father makes his first appearance halfway through the first season, and it's implied he once served alongside the Prioress in the Old Watch before being promoted to a "desk job." As her superior, it's his job to oversee the efficiency of the timeline continuum, and make sure she's rooting out any time-traveling fugitives.

It seems like he'll probably be a bigger role in season 2 of Paper Girls, but after the season finale cliffhanger, it's hard to say what will happen. It seems like in order to become higher in rank than the Prioress, he'd have to be fairly intelligent, despite his overly casual tone and demeanor. Time will tell.

11 Erin Tieng

Erin from Paper Girls

Erin aka "New Girl" is shy and often indecisive, often following the other girls rather than leading, and when she does make a decision, like cause conflict with her older self, it puts the rest of her friend's lives in danger. Erin operates from a place of following rules to get by, which does no good when she finds herself in the midst of circumstances that defy categorization.

It's easy to see why Erin doesn't feel like she can be as free-thinking as the others, having grown up in a traditional Chinese household with certain customs to be upheld, but once she realizes she can be innovative without doing a disservice to her family, she brings a unique set of problem-solving skills to the table.

10 Older Erin

Older Erin in Paper Girls

When adult Erin is confronted with her younger self, she's completely taken aback, and it's some time before she accepts the time-traveling story she's told. Once she can wrap her mind around it, however, Erin springs into action. Even though she's just as shy as her younger self, with a lot more feelings of failure, she acknowledges that as the only adult in the situation, it falls on her to at least try to help the girls get home.

Erin takes the strange technological device the Paper Girls were given by the STF Underground operative to a technician which, while not a success, does jumpstart Erin's own exploration into time-travel tech. Eventually, she's able to unlock the device, and later on, learns how to operate a giant mech within just a couple of hours.

9 KJ Brandman

KJ from Paper Girls

KJ comes from privilege, and she's cognizant enough of her advantages not to outwardly boast about them to others. Instead, she relies on her quick-thinking, like getting away from the Old Watch with a few careful strikes of her lucky stick. She tries to prove that she is more than a poor little rich girl, and capable of pulling her weight with the rest of the Paper Girls.

She also happens to have a great deal of emotional intelligence, and is often the first person to ask questions that will get others to open up and become vulnerable. Because she knows what it's like to be judged unfairly for her sexuality, the other paper girls seem comfortable talking to her, thus giving her one of the best LGBTQ+ character arcs in recent television.

8 Dylan Coyle

Dylan Coyle talking to his younger sister Mac Coyle in Paper Girls

In the 1988 timeline, Mac's brother doesn't seem particularly motivated about high school, but by 2019, he's become a doctor and a completely different person. When he meets Mac, he thinks she's a stranger using his sister's identity to scam him, but after putting together pieces of her story and realizing she still has the mixed tape she stole from him in 1988 sitting in her era-appropriate Walk-Man, he quickly concocts a story to prevent social services from separating them.

Dylan was responsible for a lot of Mac's worldviews, particularly her anti-Semitism and able-ist remarks, and in some of Paper Girls' best quotes, he seeks to right the wrongs of his past and influence her again in a better way. He provides a safe haven for her physically and spiritually until she can reunite with the rest of the Paper Girls.

7 Mac Coyle

Mac in Paper Girls

While Mac may not always make the right decisions, she's decisive and quick to action — like rescuing KJ from a group of older boys despite their size and animosity — which makes one of the series' most likable characters. Mac is the first to demand answers about the temporal anomaly, and is anxious to take action in finding out how the Paper Girls will ever be able to get home to their timeline.

With a working-class background mired in poverty, Mac knows how to make the best of a situation and survive. Unfortunately, she's also impulsive and reckless, which tends to make her plans seem more like crimes of passion.

6 Larry Radakowski

Paper Girls Larry

While originally considered an enemy hostile to the Paper Girls, this member of the STF Underground quickly becomes an ally in the fight against the Old Guard. Knowing he might lose his memories at any moment if he falls into their clutches, he has the foresight to make recordings about who he is, what the date is, and what his role is in the resistance.

He's able to get the Paper Girls not only resources and supplies but he's constructed a massive robot that he's hidden in a farm silo, ready for a debut against the Old Guard.

5 Older Tiffany

Tiffany and her older self in Paper Girls

When Tiffany meets her older self in 2019, she learns that a few things in her life didn't go as planned, but just because older Tiffany is a high school dropout with some baggage doesn't mean she isn't the same quick-witted, sharp-thinking Tiffany, just with a driver's license and the means to solve a lot more problems in big ways.

Older Tiffany is the only adult version of the Paper Girls who are able to quickly make sense of their time-traveling story, jumping in to help them find their way back home without hesitation. Like her younger self she's likable, dependable, and most of all, very smart.

4 Prioress

The Prioress in Paper Girls

As unrelenting as the Terminator and a sci-fi villain convinced she was right all along, the Prioress stalks her prey from city to farm, from house to apartment, doggedly trailing the Paper Girls and anyone they come in contact with. No one is safe from her, and she's always sniffing at the heels of the heroines like a bloodhound.

An authority figure in the Old Watch, she believes like her superiors that the timeline of events should remain as it is, where her kind is in power. She will stop at nothing to manipulate and control any situation to her advantage, showing remarkable cunning and adaptivity.

3 Tiffany Quilkin

Tiffany from Paper Girls

Tiffany defined herself as the brains of the Paper Girls when she revealed she'd saved up her Christmas bonus to purchase walkie-talkies so that the group could stay in touch. Granted, they swiftly became involved in the temporal anomaly that kickstarted the events of season 1, but even after her entire life changed forever, she kept her mind sharp.

When the Paper Girls are given a unique technological device, Tiffany immediately seeks a means to have it hacked. When that doesn't work, she demands to seek out the older version of herself in the new timeline to see if she might be more sagacious. She's resourceful, quick-witted, and ultimately pragmatic, and works the hardest to get her friends home.

2 Grand Father


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