All 50 state flags ranked


By Jarrett Bellini | @JarrettBellini
Apparently This Matters: The Column

Mississippi's flag is probably going to get a redesign. 

In fact, both of the state's Republican U.S. senators have now called for a major modification - one in which the Confederate battle flag is removed from the upper left corner.



It's a delicate issue, and I really don't like to get political. 

You see, when I write, my only hope is that readers enjoy at least one good smile and that everyone is somehow just a little dumber by the time they get to the end.

So, let's skip the politics and simply talk about state flags. Because Mississippi's isn't the only one that could use a facelift. Here, I'll rank all fifty of them from worst to best.

As you'll see, I'm heavily biased towards flags that don't include a state seal or coat of arms. I also appreciate flags that are easy to draw and flags that might look good printed on a beer koozie. 

We begin with the worst of the worst...

#50 Nevada

They literally gave this seconds of thought. I just detest Nevada's flag with the fire of a thousand burning suns. I have no idea for what "battle" her people are "born," but I'm thinking it has something to do with addiction.


#49 Illinois

If somebody gave my dad a white rectangle and a two minute tutorial on clip art, this would be the end result. "Here's an eagle. Here's some other stuff. I'm going golfing."

#48 Kentucky

For starters, the text is barely legible. Even worse, Kentucky's flag is highlighted by two white guys shaking hands. "Hey, thanks for those U2 tickets."

#47 New Jersey

Buff is an ugly, pale yellow-brown, and New Jersey decided to use it as the background for their flag. This, as opposed to, say, literally any other color on the planet. Presumably, it was inspired by a visit to your grandmother's kitchen.

#46 Wisconsin

"Hey, let's let Jim the intern make a flag!"

#45 Idaho

"Jim, make one for Idaho, too!"

#44 Maine

"Jim, we're all going to lunch. Here's some more blue fabric."

#43 West Virginia

The Latin phrase inside West Virginia's state flag translates as: "Mountaineers Are Always Free." Except for when it comes to hiring even a mid-level design firm.

#42 Minnesota

You funny talkers may be friendly and pleasant, and you may have given us Bob Dylan, The Replacements, Prince, and Trampled By Turtles, but your flag is a poor indication of your overall achievement and potential. Might I suggest a moose dry humping a pine tree. Or maybe just Bob Dylan. As the pine tree. Being dry humped by the moose.

#41 Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's flag looks like the logo of a low-end clothing brand trying to be upscale. Keystone Glory. Sold exclusively at Kohl's.

#40 North Dakota

North Dakota, why are you even here?

#39 Florida

Florida should just replace all its terrible flags with LED screens programmed to broadcast 24-hour Amber Alerts.

#38 Delaware

Though generally horrible, Delaware's flag scores points because of the mutual disdain between the man and the woman. It looks like he's going to hit her with a shovel, and she's going to shoot him in the face with a shotgun. I just want to know how the story ends. 

#37 Connecticut

Shut up, Connecticut.

#36 Vermont

Shut up, Vermont.

#35 Nebraska

Nebraska's flag is incredibly boring, but I have a soft spot for blue and gold. I also have a soft spot for chocolate pudding. They should've gone with chocolate pudding.

#34 Utah

Industry! America! Honey bees! Utah, what exactly do you do?

#33 New York

The Empire State deserves better. Even the simple I-Heart-NY red heart over a field of white would be a vast improvement. Actually, that's not even a bad idea. It's pretty good. I'm going to take the next twenty minutes to pat myself on the back. And maybe cover my body in whip cream. Things are weird at home.

#32 New Hampshire

I expected more blood and gore from the "Live Free or Die" state. Instead we get a dry docked boat sitting on a chunk of granite. I guess it's adequate enough for a state that's only relevant once every four years. (It's almost 2016, New Hampshire. Keep your pants on.)


#31 Massachusetts

"Dad, want to play with clip art again?"

#30 Iowa

A nice nod to Iowa's history of being part of the French Louisiana Territory. But it's also, you know, a little too Frenchy

#29 South Dakota

Rather bland. A better concept would've been "I'm With Stupid" and an arrow pointing up. Seriously, North Dakota, why are you here?

#28 Georgia

Georgia's flag has had a long, ongoing identity crisis. In fact, from 2001 to 2003 the flag was quite literally a hideous display of its previous other flags. This current design has been flying for just over a decade. But I propose Duane Allman riding a peach into the sunset while Jimmy Carter watches and eats a peanut.  Saw it once in a dream. Looked good.

#27 Missouri

Missouri is known as the "Show-Me State." Right, then. Show-Me a flag that's at least better than Kansas.

#26 Kansas

You beat Missouri. It's a small victory. Take it or leave it.

#25 Montana

Simple and more or less visually unoffensive, but perhaps Montana should've gone with Ted Turner initiating foreplay with a bison.

#24 Michigan

State seals bore me, but I do like the fact that the elk and the moose appear ready to throw down. Bonus points to Michigan because the hunter in the middle actually looks more like Sasquatch welcoming tourists.

#23 Mississippi

Tons of potential. Somebody go get the intern.

#22 Oregon


This is the only state flag that is officially two-sided. And it would be a top-fiver had they simply left it alone with just the obverse beaver. That would be a class flag! The front keeps it out of the top twenty. Of course, hipster Oregonians are just happy to be nominated. 

#21 Washington

I like the green, but who are we kidding. Just replace George Washington with the Starbucks mermaid and bow to your Venti overlords.

#20 Rhode Island

OCD is hell. The fact that the border trim doesn't connect on the left side gives me a nosebleed. Otherwise, it's a fine flag. I like anchors. And I've heard of hope.

#19 Virginia

A state seal over a field of blue shouldn't crack the top twenty, but the Roman Goddess Virtus standing over her defeated opponent is, to be fair, pretty boss. Plus it has an exposed boob.

#18 Louisiana

A pelican wounds her own breast to feed blood to her young. Solid, Louisiana. I'm sold. You're in the top twenty.

#17 Wyoming

Wyoming has a top ten flag if they remove the state seal from the bison. Top five if the bison is redesigned to violently gore an unsuspecting tourist at Yellowstone.

#16 Alabama

The cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. Not very exciting, but I like simple. And somehow it just looks good on a pole. It's the Miley Cyrus of flags.

#15 Ohio

Oh me oh my oh, look at this weird thing from Ohio. It's a decent flag. Points for being different. But constructing Ohio's flag requires scissors. And this concerns me. I'm accident prone.

#14 Hawaii

A little bit of the UK. A little bit of America. A hot, eye-straining mess of red, white, and blue. It's kind of fun in that it's completely absurd. Sort of like a visit to Graceland.

#13 North Carolina

If it's good enough to hang on stage every night behind the amazing bluegrass band Chatham County Line, it's good enough for me. A fine looking flag. Not sure what the N and C are for.

#12 Arkansas

Nice effort. Went a little heavy on the stars, but otherwise solid. Especially considering Arkansas is "The Natural State" and they very well could've just gone with a naked 1960's Yoko Ono. The horror. The horror. 

#11 Oklahoma

Prior to 1941, this flag only featured the Osage Nation buffalo skin. The word "Oklahoma" was a late addition. It actually looked much better before they felt the need to remind people where they were. "Oh, crap. I'm still in Oklahoma."

#10 Indiana

Again, this is a flag that would be slightly nicer had they not spelled out the name. The text is there to remind us that the big star below it represents Indiana becoming the 19th state. So, uh, congrats? You're ... number 19. Other than the text, I love the design of Indiana's flag.

#9 Texas

Texas. Love it or hate it, they did a good job. Simple. Bold. And proud. The perfect flag for when the size of your penis is disproportionately small to the size of your pickup truck.

#8 Tennessee

Switch out the circle for a guitar pick and Tennessee's flag gets even better. Either way, it's a fine design. Far better than, I don't know ... a silhouette of fat Elvis dead on his toilet.

#7 Maryland

Maryland: The flag that people love to hate. Personally, I dig it. Then again, I also drive a Saturn.

#6 California

I like that the bear has a guilty look on his face. Like he just pooped in your back yard.

# 5 Colorado

It pains me to rank the Colorado flag in the top five, because if there's one thing this state doesn't need it's another reason to feel better than everyone else. Because, damn it, they kind of are. Stupid, sexy Colorado.

#4 South Carolina

South Carolina doesn't claim much over her sister to the north, but she definitely has a stunner for a flag. In fact, South Carolinians are so in love with their palmetto and crescent that they print it on pretty much everything. Babies get their first South Carolina flag tattoo at seven weeks. True story.

#3 Alaska

The Big Dipper and the North Star represent the clear night sky as seen from America's last frontier. Indeed, Alaska's flag, designed by an orphaned 13-year-old Aleut boy in 1927, is a thing of pure beauty. I'd be proud to live under that banner in Alaska. I'd also probably be an alcoholic. 

#2 Arizona

Arizona is my home state - born and raised - so I know I'm completely biased toward her flag, but I think sexy, intelligent people can agree that this is a complete masterpiece. You can almost feel the sun's warmth radiating off the canvas. Just like you can feel it at 2am in July when it's still 115 degrees.


#1 New Mexico

Simple. Elegant. Symmetrical. Unique. This is everything a flag should be. The red sun symbol of the Zia on a field of yellow is perfection in vexillology. (What have I done? They'll never let me back in Arizona.)

15 comments:

  1. Shared Tweet from @TravelNevada: We're Battle Born because President Lincoln needed Nevada to help win the civil war. We love our flag & our state history.

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    1. I thought he needed Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri to help win the Civil War.

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  2. The cross of the flag of Alabama is actually the very same as St. Patrick's Saltire, and not of St. Andrew! :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick's_Saltire

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    1. Ayyy. So many crosses! This is from the Alabama flag wiki: The flag of the State of Alabama shall be a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The bars forming the cross shall be not less than six inches broad, and must extend diagonally across the flag from side to side." - (Code 1896, §3751; Code 1907, §2058; Code 1923, §2995; Code 1940, T. 55, §5.)

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  3. Read this article, enjoyed a few good smiles and am definitely dumber for it.

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  4. I hated this quiz mostly because its not accurate he just said what he thought are the good and bad flags. if you want an accurate test give a poll or something.

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    1. Except his ranking fit pretty well into what actually makes a good flag. I personally think the top 20 should not include Oklahoma, or California, and top 10 should include Hawaii, DC(which wasn't in the list), and Ohio. Also Maryland should be #1 no matter who makes the fucking list. If a poll was done Maryland would be last though, which is just wrong, and they would probably put California first which is even more wrong.

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    2. Except his ranking fit pretty well into what actually makes a good flag. I personally think the top 20 should not include Oklahoma, or California, and top 10 should include Hawaii, DC(which wasn't in the list), and Ohio. Also Maryland should be #1 no matter who makes the fucking list. If a poll was done Maryland would be last though, which is just wrong, and they would probably put California first which is even more wrong.

      Delete
  5. Ha! Good article for those that do not take flags too seriously...I wonder what those people are called?

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  6. I have lived in the top two for most of my life! Good choices!

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  7. Kinda insulted that you put Washington and Utah above Pennsylvania, I mean seriously.

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  8. Maryland's flag consists of the quartered arms of the Calvert and Crossland families. It's a genuine flag, not a state seal plastered on a usually blue background. Vexiologists love it; ignoramuses love to hate it.

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