Game of Thrones ended its run in 2019, losing some of its credibility as a television masterpiece due to its hurried conclusion. But the Game of Thrones cast is as beloved as ever. The best GoT characters have easily secured their place as pop culture legends.
Not every fan has the same taste in fictional characters; some select theirs based on kindness and amiability, while others relate to those who are loyal or heroic. The issue of subjectivity comes into play when it comes to audience favorites, but there will always be characters who are generally better liked than the rest of the Game of Thrones cast.
Updated on November 15, 2022 by Scoot Allan: The release of the House of the Dragon prequel helped fill a Game of Thrones-sized hole on HBO. The return to Westeros has inspired long-time fans and new ones to rewatch the first hit series. HBO Max made it easy to get reacquainted with favorite characters like Tyrion Lannister and Brienne of Tarth.
25/25 Theon Greyjoy
47 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 8, Episode 4
Fans of the series might not immediately see Theon Greyjoy as a fan-favorite, considering he could also be considered one of the evilest Game of Thrones characters. He was a close ally of the Stark family who grew up alongside them. However, he betrayed them to win favor with his father and later fell even further as Ramsey Bolton’s beaten-down servant, Reek.
However, Theon Greyjoy fought back to reclaim his name and redeem himself in the eyes of the Starks. He helped free Sansa Stark from Ramsey Bolton’s control, and he later gave his life protecting Bran Stark from the White Walkers. Greyjoy was a complicated character who was easy to hate, but he worked hard to earn back the love of the fans.
24/25 Robert Baratheon
7 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 1, Episode 7
Quite a few different kings sat on the Iron Throne in the Game of Thrones franchise. Robert Baratheon was the first gluttonous, womanizing King of Westeros fans met in the series. He was an ally of Ned Stark who took the throne after the death of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen.
Baratheon forged an alliance with the Lannister family by marrying Cersei, who would eventually take over as Queen herself. Baratheon was boisterous and comedic, though he had given up on his duties as a husband and a king. He left an impression on fans despite dying early in the first season during a boar hunt.
23/25 Robb Stark
21 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 3, Episode 9
The eldest son of House Stark was Robb Stark, who took his father’s place as the Lord of Winterfell after the death of Ned Stark. He swore to make the Lannisters pay for their treatment of his father, and he rallied the armies of the North against them. He earned his fans by being an honest man who took after his father.
Robb Stark proved himself as a great leader and actually began winning the war against the Lannisters. Unfortunately, one of Robb Stark’s worst decisions came back to haunt him and his family. He fell in love and broke a previous agreement for marriage. He was assassinated alongside his mother, his wife, and their unborn child during the traumatic Red Wedding.
22/25 Margaery Tyrell
26 Episodes, Season 2, Episode 3 – Season 6, Episode 10
The Tyrell family was invested in the Game of Thrones that gripped the various ruling houses of Westeros in the original series. While Olenna Tyrell continued to subtly play politics well into her old age, her granddaughter Margaery Tyrell was just getting started.
However, Margaery Tyrell was an expert at adapting to the ever-changing ruling structure of Westeros. She won over fans with her ability to acclimate to any situation. She was one of the few who could deal with Joffrey Baratheon, showcasing her political ability before her death in the sixth season.
21/25 Ned Stark
19 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 7, Episode 7
It became clear early on that no Game of Thrones character was safe. Eddard “Ned” Stark was the head of the Northern family who shared a close relationship with his wife and children. He raised his family to be honorable rulers of their people, which earned House Stark many fans. Unfortunately, Ned Stark was plagued by misfortune like the rest of the Starks
Ned’s hunt for the truth about King Robert Baratheon’s children and the true heir to the crown quickly made him a target for the Lannisters. Fans were crushed when one of their early favorites was decapitated by the new King Joffrey, kicking off the war between the families that would be one of the main focuses of the Game of Thrones series.
20/25 Catelyn Stark
25 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 3, Episode 9
Fans didn’t immediately fall in love with the matriarch of House Stark, though it didn’t take too long. Catelyn Stark proved herself to be a loving and devoted mother who risked everything to protect and support her children. Unfortunately, she didn’t necessarily have the same feelings for Ned’s “son,” Jon Snow.
Catelyn Stark wasn’t afraid to go off on her own to hunt down Tyrion Lannister, whom she held responsible for Bran Stark’s injury. She fully supported her son Robb Stark in his bid to fight back against the Lannisters, even when he chose love over duty. Unfortunately, this led to her death during the unforgettable Red Wedding that broke her fans’ hearts.
19/25 Jorah Mormont
52 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 8, Episode 4
The disgraced knight Jorah Mormont found a new path when he began assisting Daenarys Stormborn in her efforts to acclimate to the Dothraki. While he began as a spy for Varys to keep tabs on the last Targaryens, he soon fell for the Mother of Dragons. Mormont became her most loyal follower, though he was forced to earn her trust on more than one occasion.
It was his dedication and the unrequited love that drove him that made Jorah Mormont such a popular character. His family didn’t have as large of a presence as some of the other popular Game of Thrones characters, but the Mormonts still had a loyal fanbase that loved them.
18/25 Bran Stark
40 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 8, Episode 6
The youngest surviving member of House Stark had a long and difficult journey on his path to becoming king. Bran Stark was paralyzed after he was pushed from a castle wall by Jamie Lannister. This was only the first step in his development as the next Three-Eyed Raven.
As the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran could travel back in time to witness key events, which gave viewers important facets of the story that made his scenes even more anticipated. Bran grew up over the course of Game of Thrones along with his siblings, which made his ending even more satisfying.
17/25 Samwell Tarly
48 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 4 – Season 8, Episode 6
There weren’t always a lot of good, moral characters to root for among the Game of Thrones cast. However, Samwell Tarly shined as a member of the Blackwatch and Jon Snow’s best friend. He wasn’t the best warrior and he spent a lot of time studying to become a Maester, but he was a loyal friend who discovered important information that helped a lot of people.
Samwell also earned some fans due to the fact that he was the first Game of Thrones character to actually kill a White Walker, thanks to the shard of dragonglass he found. Tarly stood by Jon Snow and stood up to the right people when he need to, earning his role in the new kingdom as well as a place in fans’ hearts.
16/25 Lord Varys
46 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 3 – Season 8, Episode 5
Lord Varys was the Master of Whisperers, which made him a knowledgeable information broker who served almost every ruler of Westeros and beyond. While he was initially hard to read due to his questionable allegiances and love of the game, it quickly became clear who Varys really served.
The Spider worked for the people of the Realm, and every action he took was made with their greater good in mind. It was an endearing quality that soon led to him becoming one of the more popular Game of Thrones characters. Fans weren’t very happy with the fate of Lord Varys in the final season of Game of Thrones, and many felt that his character should have made it to the end.
15/25 Tywin Lannister
27 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 7 – Season 5, Episode 1
A brilliant political mind and one of the most ruthless Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister was a bad man. He treated his family poorly and he ruled over his house with fear. However, he was such a magnetic character that viewers couldn’t help but love him.
From his interactions with Arya at Harrenhal to the way he expertly handled the cruel and capricious Joffrey, Tywin always managed to captivate viewers. This was despite his cruelty and disdain for anything that could possibly bring shame to House Lannister, which he always thought was Tyrion but was actually Cersei.
14/25 Sandor Clegane/The Hound
38 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 8, Episode 5
Even though he started out as Prince Joffrey’s bodyguard and Mycah’s murderer (making him the first entry on Arya’s List), The Hound became a popular character throughout Game of Thrones’ eight seasons.
Not only did he save Sansa, but he also became a kind of protector to Arya, which led her to remove his name from her list. The Hound had little charm, but he made up for it with a traumatic backstory and a penchant for hilariously foul language.
36 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 4 – Season 8, Episode 6
Bronn acknowledged that social and class distinctions in Westeros were unlikely to disappear, regardless of who occupied the Iron Throne. He showed no bias when it came to making fun of people, like telling Oberyn that he “killed the right people” in order to become a knight.
In another instance, Bronn blatantly stated that Jaime preferred the company of blonde women, a snide and painfully obvious implication. Bronn’s lack of pretense is rather rough around the edges, but it’s what makes him such a fun fixture in the Game of Thrones cast.
12/25 Lady Olenna Tyrell
18 Episodes, Season 3, Episode 2 – Season 7, Episode 3
Lady Olenna represents the legions of fans who despise the villainous House Lannister – every insult and snub is carefully calibrated to each of her targets. She caused Cersei exceptional discomfort, taking great pleasure from her suffering.
All of Lady Olenna’s behavior is for good reason, given how Cersei disposed of the Tyrells. When Olenna revealed herself to be Joffrey’s assassin, she guaranteed that his mother learned of the truth from Jaime. She is an old woman, perhaps, but has never once exhibited a hint of frailty.
11/25 Tormund Giantsbane
33 Episodes, Season 3, Episode 1 – Season 8, Episode 6
A Free Folk warrior and an intimidating man, Tormund was Jon Snow’s enemy when first introduced. The red-haired raider threatened him constantly, not believing that Jon had actually defected to the wildlings.
Tormund’s blunt personality and hilarious lines quickly made him a fan-favorite Game of Thrones character, especially when he set his eyes on Brienne of Tarth and became instantly smitten with her. Tormund’s infatuation with Brienne was an excellent source of humor in the show, particularly when juxtaposed with how downright terrifying he can be.
10/25 Jon Snow
63 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 8, Episode 6
Most fantasy narratives have that one character whose moral code is inflexible regardless of how far they are stretched by external forces. With his indestructible integrity and desire for harmony over conflict, Jon Snow is a classic D&D paladin, except without the spell casting.
He relied so much on his own honesty that it got him killed, although he was resurrected soon after. Jon’s fanbase rivals those of Daenerys and Arya, which more than illustrates his popularity. The fact that he alone is receiving a spin-off series also highlights his status as a great Game of Thrones character.
9/25 Jaime Lannister
55 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 8, Episode 6
Jaime Lannister became the first Game of Thrones antagonist when he pushed a child off a window, nearly killing him – all to safeguard a highly inflammatory secret. He caused more problems than he solved, barely making perfunctory attempts at basic decency.
Howver, meeting with Brienne changed Jaime’s life and his worldview, helping him reorganize his priorities. Breaking things off with Cersei in order to assist in the war on Winter earned him a small measure of redemption, even if he returned to his sister in the end. Audiences especially appreciated him knighting Brienne before their final battles.
8/25 Daenerys Targaryen
62 Episodes, Season 1, Episode 1 – Season 8, Episode 6
Before her common sense and common decency deteriorated, Daenerys’ vision was shared by a large fraction of the Game of Thrones fandom. Her relatively bloodless freedom movements and her relationship with the only three dragons to be born in over a century make her a great addition to the Game of Thrones cast.
Daenerys cowed her opponents into submission by tact or by terror, eventually ending up with the single most powerful military force in the known world. These were all features that inspire respect and admiration that she shared with other members of the Targaryen family across the timeline. It’s unfortunate that her arc ended on a different note.
7/25 Lyanna Mormont
9 Episodes, Season 6, Episode 7 – Season 8, Episode 4
Lady Lyanna was first introduced in the fifth season of Game of Thrones following her mother’s death at the Red Wedding. She made everyone take notice when she rejected Stannis Baratheon’s claim to the throne as the 10-year-old ruler of Bear Island.
A fierce and competent leader, every scene with Lyanna throughout the last three seasons of Game of Thrones made her more and more popular with viewers. Fans loved seeing a no-nonsense young girl – especially one who scowled and stared down the vile Ramsey Bolton. Unfortunately, young Lyanna had one of Game of Thrones’ saddest deaths in the series.
6/25 Brienne Of Tarth
42 Episodes, Season 2, Episode 3 – Season 8, Episode 6
Brienne’s experiences with society were far from positive: some folk derided her for not being “womanly” enough, and others implied that she was too womanly to be a good fighter. There’s no victory to be had in sexist argument loops, so Brienne took the reins of fate in her hands to make her own success.
Brienne is arguably the noblest character in Game of Thrones, as much for her physical prowess as for her honor and gallantry. More than anything else, Brienne is relatable, her personality is realistic, and her struggles are convincing.