Top 15 Game of Thrones Characters, Then and Now

Game of Thrones 2017, season 7, A song of Ice and Fire, best characters,

It might be bold to say that Game of Thrones is the best show of the decade but I’m going to say it anyways. From the pages of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, A song of Ice and Fire, to David Benioff and D. B. Weiss’ HBO show adaptation, Game of Thrones has brought some of the most shocking and bloodiest moments on the small screen. The show garnering infamy for its brutally realistic portrayal of the dark fantasy genre and “anything goes” mentality of beloved and despised characters. With the seventh season kicking off and characters/plotlines intertwining, let’s take a look at the top 15 characters from the beginning and how the fight for the Iron throne has made or break them. 

15. Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson)

A young Jack Gleeson in Batman Begins so here is a fitting quote: You either die a hero….  

…or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.

The most loathsome bastard in Westeros (until another comes to take that title), Joffrey is one of the few, true villains of the show who doesn’t fight for survival or an agenda, but instead appease his own sadistic nature. The incest child of Cersei and Jaime Lannister, Joffrey is passed off as King Robert’s son and after his death is made the King in which he becomes a cruel tyrant. The noteworthy thing is that Joffrey wasn’t corrupted by power, he was always a vicious child who enjoys tormenting those beneath him. He was a character you love to hate and felt enormous satisfaction when someone like Tyrion or Tywin was there to knock him down. In the first season he was a spoiled, unhinged kid and by season 4 he was the same kid but with a crown; not a lot to him or any character development (a bit one note actually) but he was an excellent antagonist until the real threats emerged.

14. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) (photo by Nino Munoz/Pinterest)

With her role as Cersei and Gorgo in 300…

…this woman was born to play queens. 

In Joffrey’s case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Cersei Lannister is the root problem for Westeros’ struggle for the Iron throne, her incestuous relationship spawned a false king whose actions started a war for the Kingdom and inevitably lead to suffering of the people and the death of prominent characters. Cersei is ruthless with her ambitions, dangerous to everything around her including her family and the few she loves. She is a horrible combination of cunning, self-centeredness, impatient, and cruel with very few redeeming qualities, but still one of the most interesting characters to watch. To see what line she won’t cross to get what she wants is what captivates the viewer to her; watching her systematically destroy any opposition even if what she loves is taken out in the crossfire is the ultimate appeal of her character.  

13. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)

Clarke in Triassic Attack, a film about dinosaurs…

…and now she traded up for dragons.

A showrunner and a fan favorite, Daenerys Targaryen has had one of the most significant changes between season 1 and season 7. From being sold off into marriage to commanding an army and three dragons, the Queen with too many titles has been built up to the moment she arrived at Westeros. From the ground up, underdog character who becomes a heavy hitter and the biggest threat to Cersei. Though the show has had Daenerys undergo her own trials it is noticeable how her formula became “take some but give back double”: She is sold into marriage but falls in love, her brother and husband die but she gets three dragons, she is left with few followers but she gains the unsullied and the second sons, and she is captured by Dothraki but kills the leaders and gains a khalasar. It takes away a bit from her character when the show has a need for her to succeed even when she fails but she has shown to be the biggest fire that started off as a small flame.

12.  Jon Snow (Kit Harington)

(photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Kit Harington before Game of Thrones… 

…and now one of the highest paid actors on Television (per episode).  

The White Wolf and the Secret Dragon. The last of the heroes left on the show, Jon Snow is a paradigm of true valor and honor. Without a name to him, he has risen on courage alone and stands as the head of the pack against the White Walkers. Jon became King of the North from a man of the Night’s Watch from the trust and loyalty he earns from those around him. Always expect him to do the right thing, even if it is a major character flaw that got other Starks killed.

11. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)

(photo by Randall Michelson/Getty Images)

Now that’s a face with a worry-free smile… 

… and that’s a smile-free, worried face.

The Oathbreaker. The King Slayer. The man who made the audience have a complete 180 on him. Back in season 1 you’d be hard press to find someone who had a favorable view on Jaime “I’mma shove off a kid out a window” Lannister. Generally being arrogant and having an air of self-entitlement, Jaime was not winning hearts when his family was causing much turmoil to the beloved Starks; but lessons in humility and a few months a prisoner brought him down from his high horse to open up to the audience. Revelations of who he is behind his bad actions shows him to be morally good living in a gray area. Doubts of him fighting for the wrong side are apparent but his devotion to family and his sister keeps him struggling with doing what is right and what Cersei wants. A man we have grown to like and are heavily interested in what his final decision will be on which side he will truly stand for.

10. Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon)

(photo by Justin Van Vliet/Pinterest) 

And there’s a handsome fellow…

…almost makes you forget he’s this guy.

The (metaphorical) King Bastard. Initially being a skeptical character when introduced, Ramsay is revealed to be a horrendous, mad dog whose every action causes more loathing from you than you’d ever thought possible. With each passing episode, you just keep getting reasons why you should hate him more. Even worse than Joffrey without the leash to keep him back, the bastard of the Dreadfort took the North and caused a wave of suffering and torment. Without a doubt, the most satisfying conclusion to a villain in recent years and a great foil for the good guys in the North.

9. Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg)

A lifelong career…

…of slaying.

Not much threatening about roses but the Queen of Thorns knows how to cut those who try to pluck her out. No matter who stands in front of her, Olenna Tyrell is ready with a good jibe and a talk-down. A woman with a silver tongue rather than a silver sword, she knows how to tear open a new one. Always leaving with the final word and those around her speechless.

8. Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)

From fair maiden to…

…well… no matter how tough you are you’re always fair to someone.

Loyalty and Duty—two words that encompass Brienne. From Renly, to Catelyn, to Sansa, Brienne is a sworn sword upholding her oath to serve and protect. The strongest female warrior (and arguably the best living fighter), Brienne is the paragon of honor and righteousness that places her high among other knights (even if she claims not to be one).

7. Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham)

(photo by Shane McCarthy/Shane McCarthy Photography)

Weird how Cunningham has the same look on his face years later….

…guess badassery never fades.

The Onion Knight, the most down to earth and rational man among the ambitious and crazy stupid. Davos has played the voice of reason and the right hand to those he deems worthy to succeed and lead. From Stannis to Jon, Davos is a trusted friend to have by your side and stay with you through the worst of it.

6. Sandor Clegane (Roy McCann)

McCann was probably best known for Lurch in Hot Fuzz, a strong simpleton…

…then came along the Hound.

Sandor Clegane is a savage fighter with a nihilistic view of the world that turns out to have a kinder heart than the other brutes around him. Always with a sarcastic quip or harsh insult to anyone and everyone, The Hound evolved from just a killer with a sword to an avenger who fights to protect when he becomes a savior and guardian to the Stark sisters. From the King’s guard to a member of the Brotherhood, The Hound follows his own path to redeem himself all the while still being sardonic yet compassionate.

5. Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance)

I think Charles Dance was born intimidating… 

…even now he still has a tight grip on your fear.

The cunning and most dangerous of the lions, Tywin Lannister is the mastermind and genius orchestrator behind most of the tragedies to fall to the Starks. A cold, calculating man who values legacy over family and did all he could to keep the Lannister name at the top. A man so feared and so tall brought down with one of the most humiliating deaths in the series, Tywin spent the entirety of his life building everything up only to have it destroyed by his own children.

4. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen)

(photo by Claire Greenway/Getty Images)

From the poor man’s Slim Shady…

…to one of the most interesting characters on television.

Ward to Eddard Stark, Theon turncloak, Prince Theon of Pyke, Lord Theon of Winterfell, and Reek. The most psychologically complex character in the series, Theon Greyjoy underwent the most transformations from his introduction to the current season; cocky and full of himself to a scared and damaged slave on the path of trying to be a loyal brother. Theon struggled early on. choosing between his oath and his blood, family or loyalty, the Starks or the Greyjoys. A kraken raised among the wolves left Theon without a proper identity, prompting him choose between one or the other. Forever carrying the burden of his actions and the consequences that followed, will Theon prevail, or Reek?

3. Eddard Stark (Sean Bean)

Here is a young Sean Bean from something he probably died in…

…at this point he’s mastered the act of dying.

The first major casualty of the show and the most surely missed. Eddard Stark was the honor in a corrupt world and the pillar of plight against its evil. The character that all his children try to emulate, Eddard served as height of honor bound and loyalty. Losing his life for trusting the government too much, Eddard was gone after season 1 with the closest to a return is a flashback scene. His legacy still carries on, and the man he was is still remembered by those who knew him.

2. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)

Small, sly, unassuming…

…and next thing you know you’re dead.

If Rob is the “Young wolf”, Jon is the “White Wolf”, then Arya is the “Wild Wolf”. Never prim and proper, Arya Stark is a wildling at heart turned into an assassin out for vengeance to those who killed the ones she loved. Being one of the youngest of the main cast, Arya’s transformation from carefree child to “No-one” is challenging and ruthless to experience. The audience’s attachment to Arya runs deep as she is left a lone pup among the dangers of the world, but she persists and prevails to become fearsome and strong.

1. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)

From a mullet that screams the 80’s…

…to one of the most beloved actors on television. 

The smallest man that stands tall. Tyrion Lannister topples over most with his intellectual wit and is the character we learned that should never be underestimated. The Half-man’s mind is a greater weapon than most warrior’s swords as he evolved from a drunk, whore-loving dwarf into The Hand of the Dragon Queen. With the world against him since birth, Tyrion outsmarted and outplayed the best of them; proving without advantages of wielding a sword or controlling dragons, he stays one of the greatest by still standing even when the world has kicked him down. 

With the last season and the conclusion to Game of Thrones approaching it’s safe to say that all bets are off and any character can meet a bloody conclusion. What major changes can we expect from our surviving characters and how will Long Night challenge them?

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