Thanks to its multi-continental narrative and constantly shifting perspectives, Game of Thrones is one of the most sprawling and intricate television series of all time. Throughout the first few seasons, the drastically diverse geographical settings could make it feel as though you were watching four different shows wrapped into one. Beyond that, it might shock you to learn that HBO’s flagship fantasy saga boasts over 250 named characters. Some are valiant fan favorites, while others are devious schemers, but they all try—and often fail—to live and work together in the cutthroat world of Westeros.
As HBO continues to expand its fledgling Game of Thrones universe with House of the Dragon and A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, we thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and commemorate Game of Thrones’ legendary ensemble cast with a good old-fashioned tier list.
For our purposes in this piece, we’ll only be ranking the 52 main characters in the series. If we decided to add every named character in this behemoth of a television show, you’d be stuck here reading this article for two days, and nobody wants that. We’re going to start with the champs in the S-tier and work our way down to the dregs of the F-tier. And now our watch begins.
The Stark family’s patriarch may have only lasted one season, but those who knew and loved him kept his spirit alive by using his unflappable moral code and keen sense of justice as a guiding light.
She’s a Westerosi ninja, a magical assassin, and the sassiest young woman north of the Neck. Not to mention, she avenged the Red Wedding in spectacularly gruesome fashion. How could we not put her in the S-tier?
Some fans might find Jon Snow too honorable to be interesting, but in a society as morally gray as Westeros, it’s always comforting to have one character who never strays from what is right, no matter the cost.
Tyrion may have been underutilized in the later seasons, but that doesn’t prevent him from being one of the most iconic characters in television history. Throughout the first four seasons, his cunning schemes and whip-sharp one-liners were the lifeblood of Game of Thrones.
Jamie started the series as the evil reflection of Prince Charming. The fact that audiences were able to root for him after pushing a nine-year-old boy out of a window in the pilot speaks volumes about how well-crafted his character arc was.
Westeros’ most humble Hand with half a hand. You can always count on Davos to bring a sense of clear rationality and compassion to any situation. There’s no better character to lean on when you need a lifeline.
Sandor “The Hound” Clegane is perhaps the most complex character in the entire series. He uses his gruff exterior and uncanny battle prowess to hide the fact that underneath it all, he’s just a big softie.
Cersei might be one of the most villainous characters in the series, but Lena Headey’s standout performance gave the character layers even George R.R. Martin couldn’t provide in his source material.
Catelyn was only part of the series for three seasons, but the love and wisdom she imparted to her children lived on throughout the entire series run. She made impossibly difficult choices in trying to save her family, and her death remains one of the most iconic and tragic in all of television.
Richard Madden took the fairly minor role of Robb Stark from Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and turned it into an instant fan-favorite portrayal. His demise proved to be a cautionary tale about the horror that can come from choosing love over duty.
No other character endured more trauma, abuse, and heartbreak than Sansa. But despite all the horror she faced, she managed to come out the other side whole and unbroken. Plus, she ended up the first Queen in the North in Westeros’ history—major bonus points for that one.
Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish:
He might’ve had no conscience, but no one could deny his political brilliance. Throughout the early seasons, he was playing the game better than anyone. The writers gave him the short end of the stick once the Walkers were knocking at the gate, but we can’t fault him for that.
Perhaps the most iconic character in the series, Daenerys’ feats were the stuff of legend. She freed the slaves in Essos, birthed dragons from stone, and won the Iron Throne. She may have burnt a few thousand small folk in the process, but like Stannis says: “A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good.”
Bobby B was the most hilarious, boisterous, and wholly unfit monarch Westeros could ever dread to have. He only lasted a single season, but his singular personality and unhinged one-liners will live on forever.
I know what you’re thinking: “How can this psychopath make it onto the A-tier?” Ramsay may be a complete maniac, but he’s still one of the best and most terrifying villains Game of Thrones ever produced.
He may have turned into a soulless tree god in the final seasons, but Bran’s youthful naivety and unflinching determination were invaluable before his transformation. Plus, his storyline included all manner of fun fantasy tropes we didn’t get to see south of the Wall.
Sure, he was a vicious idiot king. But Jack Gleeson’s inimitable performance elevated this character to legend status. His conversations with Tywin made for some of the best dramatic (and comedic) moments in the series.
Clearly based on Frodo’s loyal sidekick Samwise Gamgee, Samwell Tarly is just as loveable as his forebearer. He might be a coward, but his wisdom and insatiable thirst for knowledge helped defeat the White Walkers.
Thanks to his incessant grammar policing and stone-faced solemness, Stannis is one of the most consistently memed Thrones characters. He may have committed one of the most heinous acts in the entire series, but if you can look past the daughter-burning stuff, he probably would’ve made a decent king.
The Red Viper made season four one of the show’s most dynamic and engaging installments. He loved generously, fought nobly, and could quip with the best of them. Plus, his death scene is probably the most iconic moment in the entire series.
By all rights, Varys should be in the S-tier, but the showrunners seemed to lose interest in his story as the series developed. Regardless, his uncanny wit and impeccable scheming in the early seasons made for some of the best television this series had to offer.
The Queen of Thorns didn’t earn that nickname by being sweet and courteous. In every encounter with powerful men, she stood her ground and protected the interests of her children and house. What’s more, her last words birthed the most memorable and hilarious Game of Thrones meme ever.
One of the most mystical characters in the series, Melisandre’s motives were often shrouded in mystery. To say she committed many gruesome acts in the name of her god would be an understatement, but she brought Jon Snow back from the dead – and that has to count for something.
Jorah’s unrequited love for Daenerys was sweet and creepy in equal measure. But despite his strong feelings for his queen, he never stepped over any boundaries and showed her respect. He died a man of honor in defense of his queen. What more could a knight ask for?
Brienne of Tarth:
Despite the many flaws of season eight, they definitely did one thing right: Brienne’s knighting ceremony. She was nobler than almost any male knight in Westeros, but her sexist society never gave her the respect she deserved. Thankfully, she got the last laugh with a well-deserved position as Lord Commander of King Bran’s Kingsguard.
He started a lowly sellsword and became one of the most powerful lords in Westeros. Not to mention, he’s got an excellent singing voice.
Theon’s heroic death during the Long Night battle sequence was the highlight of the episode. He made terrible choices and betrayed those who cared for him, but in the end, he made up for his past mistakes with an honorable sacrifice.
Ygritte and Jon Snow’s budding relationship is one of the most watchable parts of season two. Her fiery personality and sharp sense of humor were the perfect foil to the ever-honorable Jon.
The Dothraki savage with a heart of gold. Watching his problematic relationship with Daenerys become slightly less problematic made for a confusing but ultimately enjoyable watch in season one.
Missandei had the potential to be an interesting character, but the writers never seemed to know what to do with her. Her relationship with Grey Worm was sweet, but she never felt like a fully realized character.
Renly was great while he was on screen, but the audience never got a real chance to know him. He was a bit pompous, but despite his arrogance, he probably would’ve made a better king than most of the pretenders we had to endure throughout the series’ run.
Tormund was an excellent character initially. Unfortunately, the later seasons robbed him of all seriousness and turned him into a comic relief character. We miss the old Tormund.
The High Sparrow:
Played to perfection by Jonathan Pryce, the High Sparrow was one of the most menacing villains in the series. However, his plot line began to drag as the show progressed, making him feel a bit like a one-trick pony after a while.
Grey Worm was a man of few words. He defended his queen and his lover fiercely. Watching him shed the conditioning of his masters throughout the series was interesting, but you can’t help but wonder what this character could’ve been like if the writers spent more time fleshing him out.
Gendry’s relationship with Arya was fun in the early seasons, but the way the writers shoved him back into the action in season seven felt a bit forced.
Ellaria was excellent with Oberyn in season four, but once her revenge plot with the Sand Snakes started, unfortunately, she became rather tiresome as a character.
Jaqen is a character with another case of an exceptional intro with a middling conclusion. Once Arya gets to the House of Black and White, he transforms into an entirely different and altogether less interesting character.
Shireen was lovable, pure, and kind. Her relationship with Davos was one of the most wholesome aspects of the brutal world of Game of Thrones. We would’ve placed her higher if she had more screen time.
Meera was undoubtedly cool and competent, but you could never shake the feeling that she was only introduced to the plot to help move Bran from place to place.
For a minor character, Jojen definitely made an impact while he had the chance. But again, his screen presence often reads more like a plot device than a true character.
For Daenerys, he was fun for a fling but certainly not husband material. It seems much of the audience felt the same about this smooth-talking lothario.
As Tyrion says, Podrick was the most honorable squire who ever lived. But his entire character arc centered around serving others instead of growing into his own person.
Yara became more tolerable in the later seasons, but it’s still hard to shake how inexplicably smug and arrogant she was toward her brother in the beginning.
Gilly was an excellent love interest for the bookish Samwell Tarly, but the show never really bothered to give us much of a glimpse into who Gilly was outside of her relationship with Sam.
Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane:
The Mountain was certainly a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, but let’s be honest here: he was never an actual character.
Shane’s character could’ve been more interesting and engaging in the hands of a more experienced performer.
He planned the Red Wedding. Do you really expect us to place him any higher than this?
He was a sweet kid, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he was probably the most ineffectual king in the history of Westeros.
Viserys is by far the worst character in the entire series. Don’t get us wrong, Harry Lloyd played him to perfection, but that didn’t make it any less satisfying to watch Khal Drogo turn his head into a solid golden melon.