“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”Harvey Dent – The Dark Knight
Some of you may be wondering why I have used a quote from Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy for a Game of Thrones post, but as I was writing my shortlist, I realised that it was a perfect analogy for many of the character arcs in GoT.
When I first thought of writing this post, I believed the majority of my top ten would be made up from the principal cast, but upon reflection I realised that a lot of the characters I really liked in season 1 were beginning to piss me off by season 7, and vice versa. As a result, my list is made up of those who either died too early, had a solid redemptive arc or those who were deliciously sick and twisted throughout.
This was such a difficult list to narrow down and even now, I am second guessing some of my choices. Admittedly, I may end up completely and utterly changing my mind once the events of the final season play out in April 2019, but for now, here is my top ten ‘Game of Thrones’ characters.
Note: Their may be some spoilers ahead, so if you are not up-to-date with all 7 seasons then read on with caution.
10. Shireen Baratheon
Only daughter of Stannis from House Baratheon. Sigil: Stag Words: Our Is the Fury
In a series as full of twists and turns as Game of Thrones, Shireen Baratheon’s storyline was one of the most heart-breaking and had, arguably, the most shocking and controversial of endings. With only 18 minutes of screen time, she is definitely one of the more minor characters but that does nothing to lessen her impact.
Ser Davos: I disobeyed the King, your father, and now I’m paying the price. Shireen: I don’t care, you’re my friend.
9. Olenna Tyrell
Sharp-tongued matriarch of House Tyrell. Sigil: Golden Rose Words: Growing Strong
There is a common thought that once a person reaches a certain age, they stop caring what people think and just say whatever they want. Lady Olenna aka ‘The Queen of Thorns’ is the perfect embodiment of this. Not introduced until season three, Lady Olenna brings a sarcastic and somewhat savage breath of fresh air to King’s Landing, stealing every scene she’s in throughout her 44 minute screen time. Her involvement in the ‘Purple Wedding’ was a brilliant twist but it’s her cutting remarks to everybody, especially Cersei, that puts her in my top ten.
Favourite Quote: I want her to know it was me.
One of Elders of the Free Folk House: None Sigil: None Words: None
You can be forgiven for not immediately remembering the wildling Karsi, as she was only in the season 5 episode, Hardhome. Despite being on screen for less than 5 minutes, she made a lasting impression, with some great one-liners and a fierce fighting style. For me though, the reason why she is in my top ten, is her inability to harm children, any children and it is this strong maternal instinct that leads to her death.
Favourite Quote: Thenn: My ancestors would spit on me if I broke bread with a crow. Karsi: So would mine but fuck’em, they’re dead.
7. Podrick Payne
A squire from House Payne Sigil: Gold Coins on Purple & White Checks Words: None
Podrick is one of only a couple of characters who are a) genuinely good and b) still alive. The lovable, loyal squire with a magic c**k has been a little drop of sunshine throughout the entirety of his 45 minute screen time, in the dark and twisted world of GoT. I am looking forward to seeing him fight in the new season after his lessons with Brienne and if anyone kills him, there is going to be hell to pay.
Favourite Quote: Tyrion (about Podrick): There has never been a more loyal squire.
6. Joffrey Baratheon (Lannister)
Baratheon in name but House Lannister in blood. Sigil: Golden Lion Words: Hear Me Roar (A Lannister Always Pays His Debts)
If there is anything people love more than an underdog, it’s a villain, and Joffrey was a thoroughly entertaining vile, self-entitled brat of a character with torturous tendencies that you couldn’t help but love to hate. One moment that truly shows his sadistic nature was his treatment of his birthday gift from his uncle, Tyrion, and whilst I spent most of his 70 minute screen time wishing he would just die already, I’ll admit I was a little sad to see such a great character go. Also, I’m not sure he quite deserved the death he eventually got.
Favourite Quote: So long as I am your King, treason will never go unpunished. Sir Ilyn, bring me his head.
5. Ramsey Bolton
The legitimised bastard of Roose Bolton. Sigil: The Flayed Man Words: Our Blades Are Sharp
Throughout the early part of the series, you could not have imagined a worse character than Joffrey Baratheon. But then Ramsay shows up with a wicked smirk and rather unorthodox hunting style. While you may, to a certain extent, be able to justify Joffrey as an immature, spoilt brat, there is no explaining away Ramsay’s behaviour. He is a manipulative and vicious bastard of a character but an absolute joy to watch. There were so many horrifically memorable moments throughout his 66 minutes on screen, feeding his stepmother and new-born brother to the dogs for example. Unfortunately, I think the hole he leaves behind is not one that is going to be filled, Euron Greyjoy can but try.
Favourite Quote: If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.
4. Tyrion Lannister
The black sheep of House Lannister. Sigil: Golden Lion Words: Hear Me Roar
The only one of, what I would call, the principal cast to make it into my top ten, I think Tyrion has one of the most heart-wrenching story lines of the whole show, ultimately he just wants to be loved for who he is, not his name or his gold. Despite, technically, being the heir to one of the most powerful houses in Westeros, Tyrion has spent his entire life being ridiculed and underappreciated. He is, by no means, perfect but he has definitely grown (no pun intended) over the course of the last seven seasons.
After years of hostility from his family (except, maybe, Jaime), a forced marriage, a death sentence and the dramatic conclusion of his relationship with Shae, I am hoping that he has finally caught a break with Daenerys, although given the look on his face during that Dany/Jon scene, I am guessing he is on his way to another heartbreak. Screen time: 337 minutes.
Favourite Quote: Then you’ll be f**king your own bride with a wooden cock.
3. Ser Davos Seaworth
Founder and only member of House Seaworth. Sigil: Black Ship with an Onion on its sails Words: None
Ser Davos rose from the streets of Flea Bottom to the Hand of the King, but not without some sacrifices along the way; the somewhat deserved loss of his fingers, the unfortunate loss of his son in battle and the heart-breaking death of Princess Shireen. Despite his hardships, or maybe because of them, Ser Davos has remained humble, loyal and fair, a gentle soul, but as both his actions at Castle Black and the tumultuous relationship with Melisandre show, he is not a man to be f**ked with and he will fight for what he loves and what he believes in. Screen time: 110 minutes.
Favourite Quote: I’ve never been much of a fighter. Apologies for what you are about to see.
2. Tormund Giantsbane
One of the Free Folk Sigil: None Words: None
Ever since his introduction in season three, Tormund has been a firm favourite of mine. From his somewhat sarcastic attitude to the growth in his relationship with Jon Snow, his tenacity in battle and his infatuation with Brienne, Tormund has been a thoroughly entertaining character despite having less than an hour of screen time (55 minutes).
Another reason why Tormund has ranked so high is because of the actor that plays him, Kristofer Hivju. Those looks he gave Brienne at Castle Black were completely unscripted but were totally in character and became an instant hit with the fans. Also, if you check out his Twitter account, his little bio says “I will not tweet much” and since joining in August of 2014, he has gained almost 7,000 followers and has not posted a single tweet!! If that is not an example of perfect casting, I don’t know what is 🙂
Favourite Quote: Tormund: I’ve seen the way she looks at me. The Hound: Like she wants to carve you up and eat your liver? Tormund: You do know her!
1. The Hound
Rightful lord of House Clegane Sigil: Three Black Dogs Words: None
There was absolutely no hesitation whatsoever when it came to choosing who would sit at the number one spot, it had to be Sandor Clegane, or to call him by his proper name, The Hound. Whilst he has always given off the impression that he doesn’t care, it was clear from quite early on that this was just a rather gruff and brusque persona to mask an unexpected paternal side. His relationship with both Sansa and Arya were intriguing to see develop, and I hope that there is still a reunion to come. I’ll be honest, his redemptive arc is not the reason why he is my favourite but actually his frequent and rather colourful use of language, which is absolutely perfect for this show. Screen time: 95 minutes.
Me and Mark were lucky enough to attend a talk with Rory McCann (The Hound) and Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran) during London Film and Comic Con last year and, no word of a lie, Rory swears just as much, if not more, than the character he plays.
Favourite Quote: Arya: Lots of people name their swords. The Hound: Lots of c**ts
So there you have it, my top ten characters from Game of Thrones. There are so many good characters though that I am sure some of you will disagree with me and have your own favourites. I would love to hear your thoughts.