Ranking the Top 50 Game of Thrones Characters
Winter has arrived.
In celebration of the dawn of the final season of HBO’s hit fantasy series (yes, I’m going by the TV series alone, sue me), listed below is my ranking of the best 50 characters across the past seven seasons, from worst to the best. Full spoilers ahead (duh).
Honourable mentions, before we get started: Podrick, Gendry, Shae, The Mountain, Gilly, Tommen, Ros, Maester Aemon and Arthur Dayne (for this scene alone):
50. Grey Worm
So boring. I’m excited to watch him die this season.
49. Rickon Stark
The least important of the Stark children. Should’ve zigzagged, buddy.
48. Roose Bolton
Scrapes in for his iconic ‘the Lannisters send their regards’. His death actually took me by surprise too. Otherwise pretty unremarkable.
She’s… there. Marginally more interesting than her lover.
46. Loras Tyrell
The books handled his sexuality well, the TV show made it his only character trait. At least his death wasn’t as ridiculous as Renly’s.
45. Mance Rayder
Doesn’t really get enough credit for what he stands for, or for his significance to the events in the North. He was thoughtful and a good foil to Jon, but otherwise hardly riveting.
44. Yara Greyjoy
Too cocky for my liking and should’ve dropped Theon sooner for being a liability.
43. Daario Naharis
Bit of an asshole, but just about endearing enough to feel a little sad when Dany sailed off without him to sleep with her nephew.
42. Tormund Giantsbane
Please leave Brienne alone. Can be funny at times but I’m not that bothered about him. Just as a warning, anyone involved in the plan to go beyond the wall to steal a wight is going to drop down these rankings because I’m still not over its sheer idiocy and lack of consequence for any of the important (human) characters involved.
41. High Sparrow
Shook up King’s Landing but I never particularly cared about him or his followers. More interesting in theory than practice.
40. Barristan Selmy
I really liked him, even if he’s a largely peripheral character. He’s noble, has a great backstory and an awesome final scene – but the TV show didn’t do him justice. Next time just let Grey Worm die.
39. Shireen Baratheon
Didn’t do all that much but provided some emotional moments with Davos and her death was harrowing.
38. Euron Greyjoy
One of the more interesting antagonists, even if he was introduced late to the show.
37. The Night King
A good overarching villain who definitely looks the part but we don’t really know enough about him to care.
36. Walder Frey
Absolutely detestable, and lowkey a really shrewd player in the Game of Thrones to have lasted as long as he did. His death was satisfying but did feel like fan service.
35. Samwell Tarly
Pretty likeable, if a little pathetic at times. Also probably the character closest to your average Cambridge student since he avoids most of the fighting to go study.
Really well-acted, fleshing out her character was one of the few good deviations from the books. Shame she became a glorified babysitter.
33. Ramsay Bolton
He was too much. It felt like the writers thought of every conceivably evil thing someone could do and made Ramsay do it. He became a caricature of a villain, and wasn’t particularly compelling as a result.
32. Catelyn Stark
A pretty solid character, with a sad demise, but why on earth did she release Jaime? What did she think was going to happen? I get the point is that it was a mistake, and at least there were consequences, but it was still incredibly dumb. The Stark matriarch had emotional depth and watching her demise was tough but otherwise she was fairly dull.
His final scene is one of the cleverest and most poignant moments in the entire show.
30. Viserys Targaryen
His death is the moment which offers the first indication of what GoT is about, and in his short time on the show he established himself as a loathsome antagonist.
29. Bran Stark
Bran is the most qualified to sit on the Iron Throne by virtue of the fact he’s unable to walk. He’s a bit overpowered for plot reasons but overall he’s a pretty decent character, and demonstrated in the first episode that the true moral of Game of Thrones is always listen to your mother.
28. Jaqen H’ghar
27. Robert Baratheon
The OG King, he was key to establishing the struggle for the Iron Throne in the first season.
26. Theon Greyjoy
Has a good redemption arc, and is really hateable in earlier seasons, but I got fed up with him/Reek snivelling all the time.
25. Jorah Mormont
Lord of the Friendzone. His regret for initially spying on Dany is moving but I feel like he ought to be dead by now.
24. Stannis Baratheon
A divisive and knotty character, Stannis was a key figure in the War of the Five Kings. Capable of good and terrible decisions.
23. Sansa Stark
One of the few characters who has grown more interesting in recent seasons (the scene where she walks down the stairs in that black dress is iconic) but still pretty uninteresting and often downright irritating.
22. Davos Seaworth
Likeable, if a little ordinary. Refreshingly genuine and one of the few truly good guys left.
I like how detached she is. I also like how her past has come back to haunt her, since no one else seems to be suffering for their misdemeanours anymore. I don’t really like how she can just assassinate Renly randomly then… never do that again, or resurrect Jon after watching Thoros do it once – both just felt like powers for the sake of the plot. But she’s cool.
20. The Hound
Wholly unflappable, unless fire is involved. He and Arya could have conquered Westeros by themselves. I do like his character but his resurrection felt a bit like cheating. Frequently comedic (chickens, anyone?)
19. Khal Drogo
Aquaman went from terrible husband to happily in love with Dany to dead, all in one season.
18. Robb Stark
Poor Robb meant well. He was central to the most iconic scene in all of Game of Thrones. A fantastic cautionary tale which cemented GoT’s ability to tell bold stories (until season 6).
17. Brienne of Tarth
I like Brienne. She’s a solid character but again kinda feels like she’s fallen away in recent seasons. Her relationship with Jaime humanised one of the show’s original villains.
Her romance with Jon was one of the best on the show (and they married irl!). She was likeable, fiery and her death was actually sad.
Everyone loves Bronn, and for good reason.
14. Daenerys Targaryen
She used to be my favourite character (pre-season 4), but Dany seems to have suffered more than anyone since the TV series has deviated from the books. She makes stupid decisions and has grown increasingly unlikeable. It’s best if we don’t talk about her decision to fly over to save Jon. Having unlikeable characters is fine, but not when the reason you dislike them is because of poor writing. However, she is still responsible for my favourite moment in the entire show:
13. Oberyn Martell
Out of all of GoT’s many, many deaths, his shocked me the most. A real scene-stealer, memorable and very likeable, he’s one of the reasons season 4 is so strong.
12. Ned Stark
May have only lasted one season but Ned was great and his death set the tone for the whole show. Finding out much later what he did to protect Jon cemented his status as the noblest character on the show.
11. Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish
Excellent right until his death, which felt like a Scooby-Doo episode as he got caught by those meddling kids. His death wasn’t satisfying, it was lazy.
Otherwise his scheming made for brilliant television.
10. Jon Snow
Personally, I think he’s pretty dull. Not quite as terrible a strategist as Dany but came close last season. Plan to go beyond the wall was dumb, the fact no one other than Beric’s healer died as a result was dumber. I honestly think the show would have benefitted from him staying dead – it felt like there stopped being consequences for mistakes from around season 6. From a traditional storytelling perspective, it’s great he’s still around – he makes a great typical fantasy hero. But resurrecting him felt like a betrayal of GoT’s spirit.
9. Margaery Tyrell
Margaery was a delectable blend of sweet yet manipulative. Wily until her last moments, but ultimately not quite wily enough. Really enjoyable to watch.
8. Arya Stark
First four seasons? Seriously challenging for the No.1 spot. But the last few seasons have not been kind to her. She’s made it this high because she is still a badass, and I hope she can return to form in season 8.
7. Tywin Lannister
Smart, cunning and fantastically acted. Had great chemistry with Ayra but tbh he was fantastic with any character. Probably not a coincidence that the quality of the show deteriorated after his death. So many brilliant lines too.
6. Joffrey Baratheon
A sensational villain. Brilliantly acted, his sadism wasn’t derived from excessive violence but rather smaller acts of cruelty. Deliciously hateable.
5. Olenna Tyrell
Stole every scene she was in– a brilliantly done secondary character. Her withering remarks were a joy to behold . You could improve any scene by putting her in it.
4. Lord Varys
He embodies everything that makes GoT entertaining. Intelligent, cunning and immensely watchable. It’s a shame that he’s had a reduced role as the seasons have grown shorter – I miss him verbally sparring with, well, anyone.
3. Jaime Lannister
Immensely complex, and probably the truest redemption of any character. Loathed in season 1, beloved by season 7 – although I almost wish he had died last season, just so something of consequence would have happened. I get why he did it, but he kinda deserved to die just for trying to kill Dany in front of Drogon, come on. But otherwise conflicted, grounded and fascinating.
2. Tyrion Lannister
Would be No.1 if not for his relegation to cheerleader for Dany these past couple of seasons. Still brilliant, but not the best, as he’s weighed down by those he’s supporting. Consistently fantastic in earlier seasons though, and Peter Dinklage is superb (especially during his trial, damn).
And the no.1 spot goes to…
1. Ed Sheeran
An unorthodox choice perhaps, but it speaks volumes that in one scene he single handedly humanised the plight of the Lannister soldiers by offering a glimpse into their daily lives. His rapport with Ayra was the single greatest pairing in the whole show and essential to understanding the changes in Ayra’s psyche from earlier seasons. Brilliantly acted, this scene slotted seamlessly into the opening episode of season 6. The heart of GoT are the human characters and he showed us a side of the background characters that we don’t usually get to appreciate. He provided comic relief as well as a star turn, and my theory that he is going to be the one to defeat the Night King in single combat remains unshaken.
1. Cersei Lannister
If you thought this had a happy ending, then you haven’t been paying attention. Cersei has been the most consistently interesting character on the show. She is smart, conniving and has played the game of thrones better than anyone over the past seven seasons, considering what she has at her disposal. She is capable of ruthless cruelty, yet we have seen how vulnerable she can be and as a result her progression has remained wholly believable. Seeing her occupy the iron throne was incredibly satisfying and fully deserved. Lena Headey plays her wonderfully to boot.
So there you have it. Hopefully this has whetted your appetite for the new season, and remember that, like Jon Snow, I know nothing. Valar Morghulis!