Before you get your panties tied up in a knot, you should know these rankings are entirely subjective.
And because we live in the United States of American, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion on which Game of Thrones character is the best/favorite on the show — this poll is merely one view out of hundreds of thousands and is by no means the end all and be all on the topic.
With that said, going through all the different characters that have appeared on HBO’s fantasy juggernaut over the last three and a half seasons and ranking them based on various criteria — duplicity, sexuality, physicality, etc. — is no easy task.
Feel free to disagree as much as you want. My hope is that this will lead to more than a few arguments between viewers.
10. Davos Seaworth
Sometimes loyalty means more than anything when it comes to defining character traits, and this is one of those instances. Although he’s only appeared in 15 episodes so far, the Onion Knight has proved to be an invaluable asset to the series as the right-hand man of Stannis Baratheon. A ton of credit goes to actor Liam Cunningham who has contributed some of the finest acting to date, especially in season three when Stannis puts him in the dungeon for his assassination attempt on Melisandre.
Besides his loyalty, one must admire Davos as a self-made man who has built himself up from the gutter of Flea Bottom to become the commander of Stannis’ fleet during the assault on Blackwater Bay. Although unsuccessful in his mission in season two — the man lost his own son for Christ sakes; he has spent the past two seasons showing that he is far from finished in his quest to see Stannis on the Iron Throne.
Add dedication and persistence onto to his long scroll of admirable character traits.
If only every sidekick was this pure and good….
Game of Thrones, perhaps better than any other show before it, has an incredible knack for creating and sustaining brilliantly unorthodox partnerships.
While slum-born Davos’ blind loyalty to Stannis is commendable, it’s the mutual respect shared between Tyrion and Bronn that makes for one of the most rewarding duos ever to appear television. Tyrion does not look at Bronn as a bodyguard or even as a mercenary — even though he is one — and, vice versa, Bronn certainly does not look at Tyrion as his superior.
Instead, the pair represents the closest thing to true friendship that we’ve gotten to see thus far in Westeros. Even though said friendship (SPOILER ALERT) seems to be coming to its end based on last night’s episode that featured an outstanding scene between actors Jerome Flynn and Peter Dinklage.
Despite the apparent break up, we’ll always remember the good times — the drinks, the whorehouse visits, the Battle of Blackwater Bay. How could we not? Bronn is as much of a reason to watch GoT as any character in the story, even fan favorites such as…
8. Daenerys Targaryen
I bet you didn’t expect to see her sitting this low on the list, but the undeniable reality is that the Mother of Dragons has suffered from a lackluster storyline since the season one finale when she rose from the ashes with three newborn dragons circling her naked body.
I mean, how many more cities can she capture before she gets tired of sitting around on Essos and wants to go battle for the throne? How many more slaves can she free? How many titles can she add to her name? All these questions aren’t meant to make you think; they’re supposed to point out the absurdity that one of the show’s main characters can suffer from such boring and miniscule subplots.
Despite the slowness of her character’s progression, Khaleesi continues to have multiple scenes in every episode — a lot more screen time than her two dozen-plus counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing her naked as much as the next bro, but I wouldn’t mind if she became more of a fringe character that we see only once every three weeks.
It’s worth noting here that because Dany’s plot has continued to flounder that in two weeks from now, this spot — or an even higher spot —could very easily belong to Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper, who’s only gotten to be in seven episodes this season but seems primed for big things.
7. Joffrey Baratheon
Rip on this selection all that you want but in a story about notorious sinister villains and creeps, King Joffrey really steals the show. Whether it was with his menacing stares or sadistic torturing methods, the boy who inherited the Iron Throne really knew how to make people feel threatened and unsteady about their situation — even his own family.
When he was on screen, literally anything could happen and that was part of the joy of watching the character develop. I couldn’t stop laughing when Grand Maester Pycelle referred to him as “the noblest child this earth’s ever seen” at Tyrion’s trial two weeks ago because nothing could be further than the truth.
Forget about all the brutality he imposed during his reign over Kings Landing: I just kept remembering how Arya embarrassed him in season one, taking away his sword and making him beg for his life, and how he went on to lie about the incident afterward. He showed his true colors in that moment — the colors of a small, cowardly boy.
6. Cersei Lannister
Not going to lie: the Lannisters are going to dominate the rest of this list. How could they not?
If Cersei ranks the lowest out of her family that really says a lot about the other characters because no actress has portrayed an ice-hearted bitch as well as Lena Headey. Every moment she’s on screen, she demands you’re attention and, without even acknowledging it, makes you hang on her very word.
What she has to say could be utterly useless dialogue and baseless fiction, but you’re not going to break concentration for even a second because she’s the most powerful woman in this fictional realm and what she says always has to be taken serious at all times.
While other characters do their dirty work in the shadows (see: the Viper, Varys, etc.), Cersei is not afraid to show her hand right out in the open and I for one respect the hell out of her for that trait. Besides maybe her father, I can’t think of a character that’s directly impacted the plot of the show more than the Queen Regent.
5. Eddard “Ned” Stark
Some will be shocked to find none of ole Eddard’s kids on this list, but the fact remains the former Lord of Winterfell was just more noble than his pouty offspring — even if he only appeared in nine episodes.
Say what you will about the Starks but the commonality between Rob, Jon (Snow), Sansa, Ayra, Bran and Rickon is that they’re always whining about something and they’re always relying on someone else to help them in their individual quests. Ironically enough, they’re dad was the most manly man in all of Westeros and would never have acted like such a pissant.
It’s been three seasons since he was decapitated; yet I still find myself thinking back to the good old days when Ned was stomping around King’s Landing and discovering some of the realm’s ugliest truths.
4. Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish
While some characters, like Dany, have remained pretty much static for the last three seasons, Littlefinger has gone the opposite route: since Ned’s head rolled nobody has been busier than Lord Baelish and that’s a pleasant reminder to fans of the show that some of the most important moments lie in deceit and manipulation (or through a drop of poison or a fatal push down the moon door).
The fighting sequences and the CGI dragons are always fun to watch, but what really makes Game of Thrones so damn enjoyable is the endless backstabbing and the plotting between characters; and nobody does it as good as Littlefinger.
I’m of the opinion that the scene between Littlefinger and Varys in the throne room in season three was the shows all time best. If you forgot it, “Chaos is a ladder…”
3. Tywin Lannister
And yet another character on this list who has had limited screen time in the series, but has made the most of it. Ever since he showed up in the seventh episode of the first season, fans have known that Tywin Lannister means business.
Although it seems like a bit of stretch, he’s the character that most resembles Tony Soprano — the flawed patriarch who has to guide his extended family through morally bleak waters. Tywin knows all the rules of the game and isn’t afraid to break them if he feels it is absolutely necessary.
As both a pragmatic and ruthless leader, he’s always looking three steps in advance, which has enabled him to outplay all the best schemers in the world and has rendered him able to predict what exactly will happen next like he has the deck rigged (come to think of it, he just might). Moreover, he makes it all look so damn easy! Do you ever see this guy sweating or frantically worrying?
On a show full of great actors, Charles Dance very well may be the best. He won’t be seeing an Emmy any time soon because he’s used so sparingly, but the show would take a significant blow without him and I refuse to hear otherwise.
The man doesn’t just exude confidence; he breathes power and control like humans take in oxygen.
2. Jaime Lannister
As the undisputed MVP of season three, the King Slayer has had plenty of pivotal moments in the show’s history (see: fathering Joffrey, crippling Bran, saving Brienne) despite spending more than half his time in captivity.
However, ironically, his most emotional and important moment came when he recounted some of his own history — specifically, the moment in which he killed the Mad King and saved Westeros. In case you forgot how great of a scene that was, then here’s your reminder. Thank me later.
Anyways, for those of you still with me, can I get a drum roll please….
1. Mance Rayder
Just joking: as much as I’d like to have the King Beyond the Wall on this list he simply hasn’t appeared enough — or at all, really — to warrant a spot. Hopefully that will all change in the final three episodes of this series but I don’t want to try and predict what will happen next.
As for our real No. 1…
1. Tyrion Lannister
“I’ve been on trial for [being a dwarf] my entire life!”
In a series made up by fantastic monologues, this one has to stand up as the greatest for a variety of reasons. It’s monumental for the plot because it defies Tywin’s agenda (something that hasn’t been seen before) and thwarts his plans to send Tyrion to the wall and Jaime home to Casterly Rock. Also, it sets us up for the greatest one-on-one duel in TV history (Spoiler: The Mountain vs. The Viper).
Most of all though, it pushes our tragically flawed hero — the character who best represents our collective morals and our innermost feelings of loneliness and purpose — one step closer to his inevitable demise.
It also comes off sounding extremely personal for Peter Dinklage, who I can imagine has felt like that in real life even though he was playing a part here.
Nonetheless, this speech isn’t the only reason why Tyrion sits atop the list. He’s here for the aforementioned reason: he symbolizes the spirit of the people watching Game of Thrones from week to week. Void such a character; the show wouldn’t have a heart, which is hard to survive without — unless you’re a White Walker.
Let’s hope that the Viper can pull off an upset in two weeks.