So many characters, we needed twice the list! Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 “Game of Thrones” Characters – redux.
For this list, we’ll be going over the best characters from the massive cast of “Game of Thrones.” We’ll be including heroes, villains, and everyone in between. Naturally, there will be plenty of spoilers ahead, so be careful if you’re not caught up through Season 7.
#20: Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark
The patriarch of the current generation of Starks, Ned Stark is also close friends with the late king Robert Baratheon and serves as his Hand. Brave, kind, and honorable to a fault, Ned elicits respect even from his enemies. While he initially comes across as one of the main protagonists, Ned’s shocking and unjust execution quickly demonstrated that honor and honesty are no shield when you play the game of thrones. Nevertheless, Ned’s impact on his children, particularly his “bastard” “son” Jon Snow, creates ripples throughout the show and there’s no overstating how pivotal he is to the series; despite his comparatively short time onscreen.
#19: Bran Stark
The second youngest Stark son, Bran begins the series loving climbing and shooting bows, but his curiosity, and the Lannisters, put him on a different path after he loses the use of his legs. However, despite his new lack of personal mobility, Bran develops Greenseer and Warg abilities, which give him second sight and the power to possess animals and the simple-minded, like the loveable Hodor. His journey may be sparse compared to some others on this list, but the places and times it takes Bran makes him one of the show’s most fascinating characters.
#18: Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane
Once a sworn sword to House Lannister (but not a knight, never a knight), Sandor Clegane, better known as the Hound, is a cynical and ferocious man. Jaded by the brutal realities of the world, which he sees epitomized in his brother “the Mountain,” whom he loathes, the Hound nevertheless manages to become a better person as the series goes on, bonding with Arya and Sansa Stark and joining the heroes in their battle against the White Walkers. And he manages to do so while delivering some of the bluntest and most darkly comedic lines in the series. Now if only we can see him fight against his brother properly before the show ends…
#17: Robb Stark
The eldest son of Ned and Catelyn Stark, Robb has his father’s honor and his mother’s passion, making for a potent combination. After the loss of his father, Robb is thrust into a leadership role and declared King in the North; leading his men in rebellion against the South and to reclaim Robb’s sisters. However, Robb’s integrity and his lust prove a detriment to him, as, despite winning nearly every battle, he still loses the war. His adherence to honor alienates some of his own men, while his passion leads to an ill-advised marriage that ultimately costs him his life. Even so, we look back on the King in the North fondly.
A pragmatic mercenary, Bronn becomes fast friends with his frequent employer Tyrion Lannister after defending him in a trial by combat. Their honest, if often unscrupulous, friendship and incredibly witty banter is a definite highlight of the series. Bronn later becomes a friend and companion of Tyrion’s brother Jaime as well and proves himself to have hidden depths of bravery. There aren’t many who can say they’ve played chicken with a dragon! Although somewhat amoral, Bronn has a decent enough heart and he’s a tremendously entertaining rogue, no matter who he’s sold his sword to.
#15: Catelyn Stark
Ned’s wife and the mother of his children (mostly), Catelyn is a complex character. Although arguably more intelligent than her husband, as she often gives sound, moderating advice to Robb, she also makes several costly mistakes in trusting the wrong people, such as Littlefinger, whose betrayal led to Ned’s death. However, she’s also protective of her family and will do anything to reunite them upon their separation, even if it means betraying their trust. Proud, compassionate, and absolutely fierce, Catelyn is one of the show’s best mothers; her treatment of Jon, notwithstanding.
#14: Brienne of Tarth
From Catelyn, let’s turn to her sworn sword. Brienne may be a woman, but she’s more of a knight than most of the men in Westeros; keeping to a code of honor and proving more than a match for most people she’s faced in combat, including the formidable Hound. Her personality and skill in battle has earned her many admirers, both from fans and within the show, such as Tormund Giantsbane. Noble, humble, and loyal, Brienne may not be everything a knight is, but she’s everything one should be, and we love her for it.
#13: Olenna Tyrell
The formidable matriarch of House Tyrell, Olenna may have passed on many lessons in politics to her granddaughter Margaery, but she’s still the better Tyrell in our books. The so-called “Queen of Thorns” has a wit and tongue as pointed as her nickname suggests, with nearly everything she says being a sarcastic or cutting remark. Her mind is just as sharp, running her house with intelligence and success for many years and deftly navigating the devious politics of Westeros, even committing an assassination. While she’s outmaneuvered and faces her end, Olenna goes out on her own terms and has the last word, as she often did in life. We raise a toast to you, Lady Olenna!
#12: Davos Seaworth
A smuggler turned knight, Davos Seaworth may come from humble origins, but he’s able to stand toe to toe with some of the highest of highborns in the show. First acting as Hand of the King to Stannis Baratheon, Davos takes up with Jon Snow after the death of the former (and the latter). Although unable to read before the series begins, Davos is nevertheless an eloquent speaker and a wise man, winning many to his side with persuasive arguments and speeches. While he may not be skilled in battle, given his missing fingers, Davos is definitely a man we’d want in our corner.
The spymaster of the Seven Kingdoms, nicknamed the Spider, Varys is a hard man to peg down. A eunuch and a foreigner, Varys attains his position through maintaining a vast network of informants that span nearly half the known world. Although self-serving to a degree, Varys primarily seeks to maintain balance and peace in the realm by mitigating the excesses of the powerful who play “the game.” To do so, he plays it extremely well himself and his banter-filled rivalry and mutual respect with other powerful players helps weave a brilliant and entertaining character.
#10: Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish
The only man to rival Varys in the spies and information department, Petyr Baelish, better known as Littlefinger, lacks his fellow player’s scruples and is entirely self-absorbed. An opportunistic manipulator and social climber of the highest order, Littlefinger pulls strings that have far reaching consequences and lead to untold amounts of death and suffering, all in pursuit of his own ambitions and desires. Whether you hate him or admire him for his audacity and cunning, there’s no denying that “Game of Thrones” wouldn’t be where it is without Littlefinger’s machinations.
#9: Samwell Tarly
A brother of the Night’s Watch, Samwell Tarly is not a typical recruit to the group that guards the realms of men. Overweight and not particularly skilled in combat, Sam prefers the scholarly pursuits and his research and knowledge comes in handy many times on and beyond the Wall. That isn’t to say he lacks courage either, as he takes part in battles of both words and swords and can speak eloquently when the need arises. Sam may have one of the biggest hearts in Westeros and if anyone in the show deserves a happy ending, it’s him.
#8: Tywin Lannister
The intimidating head of House Lannister, Tywin is almost single-handedly responsible for his family’s fortunes and initial reputation, for good and ill. A masterful military tactician and political mind, Tywin has few equals in either field and uses his impressive intellect to advance his house’s fortunes at every opportunity. However, his ruthlessness extends to his own children as well, and the fact that he treats them like pawns rather than people ultimately leads to the undoing of his legacy and his life. Even so, while he’s far from a good or honorable man, Tywin is still worthy of respect.
#7: Sansa Stark
The eldest surviving Stark child (as of this writing), Sansa is initially a starry-eyed, naïve girl who is ignorant of the harsh realities of the world. However, over much of the series, she is abused by her suitors or else used as a political bargaining chip and her eyes are opened in frequently brutal ways. Yet, Sansa endures these trials and learns from many of those who sought to use her to become a savvy leader and player herself. While we’d prefer that she hadn’t had to go through much of the things that happen to her, we’re still glad that Sansa’s inner strength has seen her through to where she is now.
#6: Arya Stark
Let’s follow up one Stark daughter with another. Arya is everything Sansa is not, eschewing ladylike pursuits and delighting in fighting. Her own journey after the Stark separation is marked with death, as she even trains to be an assassin. Arya falls in with various outlaws and killers, who all come to be pseudo mentors to her with their influence giving her a more cynical and fatalistic viewpoint than she begins the series with. Yet, we can’t help but admire Arya’s skills, as well as her desire for vengeance and her drive to see it through.
#5: Tyrion Lannister
The second son of Tywin Lannister, Tyrion shares his father’s impressive intellect, but tempers it with an actual conscience and a dry wit. Continually underestimated and vilified by his family and many others for his stature and love of women, Tyrion is actually quite gifted in the game of thrones and braver than most give him credit for. His repartee with the other big players, brilliantly performed scenes, and many hilarious one-liners have made him a much beloved fan favorite character. While his success has been mixed of late, Tyrion has still cast a large shadow on the show.
#4: Jaime Lannister
Tyrion’s elder brother, Jaime initially comes across as… well, a prick. He’s arrogant, sarcastic, an apparent oath-breaker, and his incestuous relationship with his sister is just gross. However, there’s more to Jaime than meets the eye. His broken oath was to save lives and his relationship with Cersei, well… like he says, “We don’t choose whom we love.” There’s no excuse for Bran, though. Even so, the loss of his skill with a sword and some time spent with people besides his sister/lover bring out the better sides of him. Jaime has one of the most fascinating character arcs in the show and we can’t wait to see how it concludes.
#3: Cersei Lannister
The final Lannister on our list may not be the best or the brightest, but there’s no arguing her impact on the show. Cersei is a fantastic villainess. Proud and spiteful, Cersei is desperate to hold on to her position as Queen and is willing to betray and murder anyone who gets in her way. She manages to be nearly sympathetic too, although her deeply flawed outlook and numerous despicable acts keep her just shy of being likeable. For as much as she rails against others for her circumstances, Cersei is usually her own worst enemy and many of us can certainly relate to that. We’ll have to see how much her choices come back to haunt her, and Westeros in the final season.
#2: Daenerys Targaryen
Our previous entry might be a ferocious woman, but not quite as fierce as the Mother of Dragons. Daenerys Targaryen is another sheltered girl who becomes a major player, but her transformation is quite dramatic. Cast out into the wider world, she manages to acquire dragons, armies, and powerful allies through her ideals, force of will, and charisma. Although she can sometimes be quick to anger and be overzealous, her sincere desire to help people, particularly the oppressed, makes her more admirable than some other Queens. Daenerys is arguably the most iconic “Game of Thrones” character… except, we think, for one other.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
#1: Jon Snow
He may know nothing, but we still love the guy. The apparent bastard son of Ned Stark, Jon Snow joins the Night’s Watch, coming face to face with the White Walkers and their army of the dead beyond the Wall. Like Ned, Jon is an honorable man who inspires loyalty with his forthright nature, bravery, and kindness. His popularity extends to the fandom as well, as his death and resurrection just about broke the internet. Given that he’s revealed to be Daenerys’ nephew (and now her love interest), Jon seems a strong candidate for the Iron Throne and we can think of no better man for the job.