Game of Thrones is one of the most complex TV shows in the history of television, and while the series didn’t always do justice to its individual characters in the way that it needed to, it’s safe to say that the show was home to some of the best and most beloved characters of all time.
Whether they were villains, heroes, or something in between, there are a select few members of the Game of Thrones characters that left an indelible impression on the audience. So, whether they’re good or bad, who are the best GOT characters?
Updated on May 3rd, 2021 by Mark Birrell: With such rich source material to draw from, it’s not difficult to see why the characters from Game of Thrones are so memorable. The impact that the characters leave on the audience is made all the more impressive by just how many of them there are. The world that they inhabit is so detailed that many of them have far-reaching backstories that are only touched on in the show but nevertheless add extra dimensions to their personalities. With so many favorites to choose from, we’ve added a few more to this list to praise some of the best Game of Thrones characters.
15 Tormund Giantsbane
Despite his intimidating stature and brutality in battle, Tormund Giantsbane mostly serves as a source of comic relief for the audience in the later seasons of the show, and the lightheartedness that he brings to his scenes through his bluntness is often a much-needed respite.
He comes to function as Jon Snow’s right-hand man after being on opposite sides of the conflict between the Night’s Watch and the wildlings, helping Jon to become somewhat of a bridge between the two and giving him at least one remaining friend in the end.
14 Sandor Clegane
Sandor Clegane is far from a saint and can be fairly criticized on many levels, but the so-called “Hound” is by far one of the series’ most memorable characters.
As muscle with no overwhelming sense of duty or loyalty, they’re involved in a number of the show’s most important plotlines. But it’s his horrible history with his objectively-even-worse brother that stands out as one of the show’s most engaging revenge plots.
13 Jorah Mormont
Though by no means a pure-hearted character, Jorah Mormont’s unwavering loyalty to Daenerys Targaryen is one of the show’s most famous aspects and, despite Jorah not quite making it all the way to the end, is one of its most long-lasting.
Flaws aside, his ending was certainly one of the more fitting ones from the final season and he was interesting to watch even when apart from his beloved Khaleesi.
12 Samwell Tarly
In contrast to Sandor Clegane and Jorah Mormont, Sam is another character who could never hope to rise to be anything more than a servant to power but is debatably the most innocent character of the main cast.
Despite high intelligence and a strong family name, he’s down-to-earth and one of the most relatable and forward-thinking characters in the show. That may result in him often not being taken very seriously by the world around him, but it doesn’t detract from his relative bravery and his ascension to Grand Maester is one of the more heartwarming arcs in the series.
11 Brienne of Tarth
A formidable warrior who’s loyal to a fault, Brienne of Tarth survived some of the most deadly situations of the entire show and remained defiantly stoic and brave throughout it all.
Though their choices weren’t exactly above reproach, it was hard not to be inspired by their resolve in the face of such a horrible world. She’s rewarded for her courage and resilience in the end when they become Commander of the Kingsguard.
10 Joffrey Baratheon
Joffrey Baratheon is universally agreed upon to be the worst, so that sort of makes him the best too. After all, it’s hard to imagine a more successful, easier to hate villain than Joffrey.
Although he barely made it more than halfway through the series, his death elicited cheers and glee from fans, but in a strange way, it was also hard to lose him from the series because he was just such a perfect baddie.
9 Bran Stark
He might be the new king, but unfortunately, he’s far from the best character in Game of Thrones. Bran’s journey was actually one of the most mysterious and intriguing in the entire show, however, the problem is, the payoff for all of that mystery was almost nonexistent.
He became the Three-Eyed Raven and he ultimately became the king of the remaining Six Kingdoms, but Bran’s endgame was confusing and felt largely unearned.
8 Daenerys Targaryen
Up until perhaps the penultimate episode of the final season, Daenerys was undoubtedly the most popular and beloved character on the show. And, while there were some fans who saw Dany’s dark turn coming for years prior, the major, fatal flaw with her TV show adaptation is that the showrunners had no idea how to develop her character so that her evolution into tyranny was clear.
They were obviously so concerned with making this character change shocking that they completely missed the development that her characterization required, and she went from the show’s fan-favorite character to its most controversial character.
7 Cersei Lannister
Game of Thrones had a very solid track record with creating great villains (excluding Daenerys), and Cersei was no exception. Played to perfection by Lena Headey, Cersei managed to be one of the most infuriating and needlessly cruel characters in the series, but she also managed to occasionally be slightly sympathetic and understandable too.
Like many other characters though, she lost a lot of dimension in the final seasons, and watching her sit around drinking her woes away was a waste of a great villainess.
6 Jon Snow
It can be difficult to judge the characters who lasted through the entire series, as the quality of the character development dipped considerably over time.
Jon Snow was one of the most obvious victims of this, as he spent years evolving into one of the best GOT characters, a genuine leader and a man who wanted to do good for the world, but who eventually seemed to only appear on screen to say that he didn’t want to be king and that Daenerys was his queen.
5 Jaime Lannister
Many fans were immensely displeased by the fact that Jaime returned to Cersei at the end of Game of Thrones, but with that notable exception, he had a wonderful redemption arc.
He began as the most shockingly monstrous character in the very first episode, he went through an enormous amount of trials and tribulations and tried to be a decent man at the very end, even if he couldn’t give up Cersei.
4 Sansa Stark
Sansa Stark seemed to be nobody’s favorite character at the beginning of Game of Thrones, but she went from a naive and spoiled little girl to a ferocious politician and leader who wound up winning the game of thrones. And unlike Bran, her ascent to leadership at least felt earned.
There were some huge mistakes in Sansa’s storyline (for instance, marrying her to Ramsay Bolton), but she had one of the most consistent and developed character arcs in the show.
3 Arya Stark
Unfortunately, due to the erraticness of the plot and story development, there are very few characters who are completely consistent and well-written throughout the entire show.
But, Arya is one of those few. She was a plucky girl who didn’t fit into this political world at the start, she devoted her life to vengeance, she literally saved the world, and then she realized that there’s more to life than killing your enemies.
2 Theon Greyjoy
Theon Greyjoy got the redemption arc that Jaime Lannister wishes he had. Actor Alfie Allen undoubtedly elevated Theon’s characterization to a whole different level, but he truly went from a selfish, cruel young man to a hero who had redeemed himself in the eyes of everyone.
He accepted his role as both a Stark and a Greyjoy and died defending both his family and the world from the threat that the White Walkers posed.
1 Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion wasn’t a flawless character, both as an actual person or in terms of his writing.
However, despite the occasional issue with his development, he was a consistent character who was a fan-favorite throughout the show’s entire run, and whether he was doing something villainous or trying to be heroic, he was always fascinating to watch. He was the last Lannister standing, but he truly deserved to be.
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