Once upon a time, the world of Westeros and its habitants lived in our heads rent-free. From Tyrion to Cersei, our regular TV appointment with the famous show Game of Thrones made it easier for us to keep up with the insane amount of characters the series churned out every season. But then, the controversial finale aired and an era of our lives ended along with it.
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So, whether or not you liked how it all turned out, maybe your memory is fizzling out a little and you’re scared to forget your favorite protagonists from the biggest fantasy show ever made. If that’s the case, have no fear, we’ve got your back.
Without further ado, here is a ranking of the 30 best Game of Thrones characters for the super-fan in you.
30. Ned Stark
Although his head fell at the end of season one (in what was the most shocking GoT death ever), Ned Stark’s great heart and strength of character lived on through his children across all eight seasons. He would rank higher on this list if he hadn’t made the foolish decision to reveal Jaime and Cersei’s.. hem, romance, but he did that, so, we’re still kind of pissed at him. Ned, why did you think that would turn out well?
For a fantasy show, Game of Thrones purposefully didn’t have that much magic, but Melisandre’s arrival added a welcome supernatural touch to the endless political talks. Spooky and charismatic, her presence always made us shudder in the best and worst ways. That being said, she is low on this list due to her being a straight-up monster who convinced a man to barbecue his own daughter. Normal witch stuff, you might say, but Shireen was the real MVP.
Missandei deserved so much more screen-time than she got, especially given the fact that she was one of the few black characters on the show. Her generous and loyal nature makes Daenerys’ trusted friend one of the highlights of the later seasons, because in a show filled with greed, dirt and surprise wedding massacres, such wholesomeness is rare. So rare, that Cersei had to behead her. Thanks mam.
27. Robert Baratheon
Like Ned, Robert Baratheon didn’t grace our screens for more than a few episodes, but his important impact on the timeline of events was undeniable. Carefree and kind of hilarious, King Rob was killed by a boar, a rather merciful death if you think about the way people usually met their ends on this show.
Tyrion’s friend has a place in our hearts and on this list thanks to his scene-stealing charisma and humor. A great swordsman and a devoted friend, Bronn was definitely the type of friend we’d like to have had in a place like Westeros, or anywhere.
25. Jaqen H’Ghar
There never was a more elusive character than Jaqen H’Ghar. Indeed, we never learned much about the man (or rather, the entity) who successfully trained Arya Stark to become a Faceless Woman, and although a part of us will remain curious about his backstory, we also wouldn’t have it any other way. Godspeed, Jaqen, Godspeed.
24. Robb Stark
Yes, we’ve put the eldest Stark behind Jorah Mormont. But let’s be honest, did Robb ever look like eight-seasons material? In a way, Jon’s big brother actually embodied all the most Disney-esque qualities of the Stark family – bravery, loyalty, honor… stuff that works in Middle Earth, but not in Westeros. One thing Jon learned faster than his big brother is that ‘when you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die on your wedding day alongside your bride and child.’
23. Jorah Mormont
If we didn’t know better, we’d think the term ‘friendzone’ was coined by this emo, emo man. Jorah Mormont was Daenerys’ most trusted advisor for a while, until his past caught up with him and he ended up being exiled by his one true love. He did finally get his ‘knight in shining armor’ moment, defending Daenerys in Winterfell… but sadly died before she kissed his forehead. Tough luck till the end.
Every show needs a giant, bawdy warrior fighting alongside our heroes, and well, Tormund was that top man. While he was initially a Wildling warrior, his loyalty and bravery helped him gain a place in the King of the North’s council and we’re just super proud of him.
Jon Snow’s first love wasn’t always kind (she did try to kill him once or twice), but her tough love definitely had a lasting impact on his growth as a man and warrior. The Wildling taught him how to take care of himself and endure hardships at a time where he was still quite inexperienced with… well, everything. We’ll never forget their weird but epic relationship.
20. Joffrey Baratheon
We know he is perhaps one of the most detestable characters in television history, but we can’t ignore how massive his impact was on the overall story and every single character on the show. Cruel and manipulative, sadistic and generally bad news, Joffrey being poisoned received more applause in bars around the world than the Olympics and that just goes to show what a fantastic job the actor did. Forever not in our hearts…
19. The Night King
If some weren’t happy with how easily the almighty Night King died, (stabbed by Arya with little to no struggle after many years of buildup) there’s no denying that this terrifying frozen dude had us shivering for 10 years, even when he wasn’t on screen. And if you compare him to other baddies on the show, it says a lot that his complete absence of lines didn’t take away from how creepy he was.
18. Ramsay Bolton
Yes, this is the bad guy corner of our list. While Joffrey had sadistic tendencies too, no character was ever more gratuitously cruel than Ramsay Bolton. Lord Roose Bolton’s psychopathic son never had an ounce of sympathy for anyone and routinely tortured people for kicks, notably poor Theon. And although that doesn’t make him the opposite of a fan-favorite, it does make him a villain worth remembering. At any rate, we won’t forget that pork sausage scene anytime soon.
When you think of backstabbing, this man’s face is what immediately comes to mind. Petyr Baelish loved to conspire and conspire some more to make sure he was always on the winning side, a habit that cost him his life, but definitely allowed him to live in luxury for quite a while. He certainly knew how to play the game of thrones, we’ll give him that.
16. Shireen Baratheon
Probably the purest character on the whole show alongside Missandei, Stannis Baratheon’s daughter was passionate about history and a generally clever and adorable kid. Unfortunately, she had character traits that wouldn’t help you much when your dad is a wacko who’d do anything to become king, including burning his child at the stake because a witch told him to. You really can’t choose your family.
15. Davos Seaworth
You can’t choose your family and neither can you choose your CEO. A brave and dutiful knight, Davos stood beside Stannis Baratheon despite the latter’s commitment to being a mediocre boss. It was only towards the end that our gentle knight found the true meaning of friendship alongside Jon Snow. We’re glad he ended up becoming a Master of Ships and although it wasn’t confirmed, we at Tell Tales have decided that he’s been living a prosperous life ever since.
14. Oberyn Martell
If we really went into it, the list of GoT characters whose awesome personality was ruined by poor choices would be longer than this one, so we’ll keep it short with Oberyn. The badass, sexy and altogether fearless Red Viper was very close to making it into the ‘could become king’ fan-theories, but his pride cost him his life in the most gruesome way and we’d be lying if we said we ever got over it. Still, his charm and presence have earned him this 14th place.
13. Margaery Tyrell
Margaery’s only goal in marrying Joffrey was to become queen, and she almost got the Throne, indeed. Just as stealth and clever in the way she manipulated people to get what she wanted, Olenna’s granddaughter knew how to play her cards right and her only mistake was to be a step behind Cersei in the backstabbing department. In her defense, blowing up a church and one’s own subjects to get rid of a few enemies is a hard plan to beat. RIP Margie.
12. Theon Greyjoy
Ah, Theon. Practically raised by Ned Stark, the Iron Islands’ heir went through hell and back after betraying his friend Robb Stark to become Lord of Winterfell. The world turned its back on him and he ended up becoming Ramsay Bolton’s torture-device guinea pig, instead. After finding redemption by saving Sansa, he died a hero fighting the Night King, a sad but satisfying character-arc for a guy who was really put through the wringer for free and thus deserves this 12th spot.
11. Yara Greyjoy
We all wish we’d seen more of her, but even the few scenes Yara had always stole the show. The Iron Islands’ princess was always more pirate than lady and consistently showed more bravery and fearlessness than any man in her family. Bonus point for the fact that she was one of the few proudly gay characters on the show. It’s difficult to even find a flaw in this character, except her lack of screen-time, which is why she deserves to rank so highly on our list.
10. Bran Stark
One of the few Starks who made it till the end despite going through some pretty grim challenges. Quiet and gentle Bran eventually met his destiny by turning into the Three-Eyed Raven, essentially a human version of Alexa, until a vote put him on the coveted Throne of Westeros. His Three-Eyed gig, meaning he barely spoke a word and had as much emotional availability as a tree, Sansa’s little brother kinda became a little less likeable after this, but we know the real Bran was still in there somewhere being his same cute self, and that’s all that matters.
9. Jon Snow
Let’s face it, Jon was always a little bland compared to other more colorful and charismatic characters. Yet, he still had that earnest quality that kept us hooked to his storyline. That, and the mystery surrounding his birth which never built up to anything (thanks D&D).
Like his father before him, minus the blind optimism, Jon had what it took to become king, but his devotion to doing things right eventually cost him the crown and made him a lifelong prisoner (something he didn’t mind that much, because he was just chill like that). The only thing we’re judging him for is his taste in women…Daenerys was your aunt, Jon, YOUR AUNT.
8. Jaime Lannister
We’re just gonna forget the way his character development was eventually annihilated like no other and simply focus on his heydays. From bratty prince to valiant knight fighting for what is right, Jaime definitely had some of the best ‘glow-ups’ on the show. Him dying in Cersei’s arms was not the ending we’d hoped for and kind of sent him back to square one, but Game of Thrones was never about happy endings anyway, so we’ll just remember him for his best moments.
7. Brienne of Tarth
A strong and intrepid knight who never let anyone make her feel smaller because of her gender (which was kind of difficult, since she’s about seven-feet tall), Brienne was always against playing sneaky games and preferred to stay true to herself. Something that led her to be the first woman to be knighted. We’re still mad at Jaime for ghosting her, because we all wanted to see her carry him to their wedding bed.
6. Cersei Lannister
Although she was a political snake, there’s no denying the powerful Cersei Lannister was always the most cunning player in the game. This popular character could have been a great queen if she wasn’t so cruel and generally mean to everybody including her own subjects. And although we’re glad she didn’t stay on the Throne, we can acknowledge that she deserved a better send-off than being knocked out by a few bricks.
5. Tyrion Lannister
If his famous and unbeatable wit kind of vanished by the end of the show, Tyrion remained a fan-favorite till the end – even as he made a huge error of judgement in thinking Daenerys wouldn’t go absolutely bonkers. Ready to do anything it took to bring peace to Westeros, he simply did what he thought was right and made up for his mistakes by becoming the Hand of the King. Again. Hope it works out better this time!
4. Daenerys Targaryen
This merciful and headstrong woman initially seemed bound for greatness and appeared to be more mentally stable than her pervy late brother and famously unhinged father. But she lost it momentarily by killing the very civilians she hoped to rule…and that didn’t cut with anyone, including her one true love, Jon Snow, who ended up putting her to sleep. Still, if we pretend Dany’s weird fascist character development didn’t happen, she really was a real one.
3. Arya Stark
Arya had one of the most badass storylines out of all the Stark children, so it’s no wonder she ended up saving the world. After running away from danger while she was still a little girl, Ned’s tomboy daughter slowly but surely became one of the greatest assassins in Westeros and gloriously completed her bucket-list of people to kill before annihilating the Night King himself. We stan a multi-tasking queen. Forever one of the most-loved on the show.
2. Olenna Tyrell
We know it’s an odd second choice given that she was rarely on screen, but Olenna Tyrell’s demise will go down in television history as one of the most badass send-offs ever.
After years of being a clever but seemingly minor player in the game, this witty elderly lady is revealed to have protected her family and saved Westeros years of struggle by poisoning Joffrey Baratheon himself. What’s more, she got away with it. A plot-twist that still gives us goosebumps and, in addition to her awesome one-liners, makes her the most underrated character in GoT by far.
1. Sansa Stark
Indeed, we’ve ranked none other than Sansa Stark as the best Game of Thrones character. A princess-turned-queen of the North who went from being a bratty young lady who believed in fairytales, to a weary, strong-willed stateswoman who could play the game of thrones better than her own father or brothers.
From her horrible marriage to Joffrey to her torture at the hands of Ramsay, the odds always seemed to be stacked against her, but years of struggle gave Sansa the strength necessary to claim her family’s land back, proving she was no damsel in distress anymore. No we’re not crying, you’re crying.
Here you have it, the 30 best Game of Thrones characters, ranked. Although this show ended a while ago, and arguably not on the greatest note, we know its legacy will endure thanks to its extremely well-written characters and the many weird, wonderful, disgusting and courageous things they did to play the game or simply survive.
We also hope this list will make it easier for you to remember who is who when a spin-off is released and asks you to remember 67 new names.
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