By George Carmona 3rd and Joe Grunenwald
With the final season of HBO’s hit Emmy Award-winning fantasy drama Game of Thrones fast approaching, rumors and theories are flying back and forth on who’ll live and who’ll get theirs. We figured, if Arya Stark can have her list, we can reminisce about the top ten characters that satisfied us as they got their final comeuppances.
(WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the first seven seasons of the HBO television series Game of Thrones, and by association the books the show is based on, but mostly the show.)
10. High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce)
The High Sparrow makes the list as a master manipulator on the level of Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish, telling his victims whatever they needed to hear. He approved of torturing the faithless until they saw the Light of the Seven, as he saw it. Cersei Lannister was his biggest catch, and he told her everything she wanted, knowing that she was slipping the noose around her own neck. His hubris, and a severe understimation of Cersei, is what ultimately led him to his death, his own arrogance even getting in the way in his final moments as he failed to listen to the warnings of Magaery Tyrell. (GC)
9. Shae (Sibel Kekilli)
Ok, she was a prostitute, but she didn’t have to leave Tyrion “holding the bag” as she moved on to his father. From the very beginning the only woman to make our list, Shae was a keg of wildfire that Tyrion struggled to keep from burning the Red Keep. She was a player and when she gets caught up in the Great Game by Lannister agents she flips, testifying against Tyrion at his trial for murdering King Joffrey. When an escaped Tyrion discovers Shae in his father’s bed, she doesn’t try to apologize, instead grabbing a knife and trying to kill Tyrion. In the ensuing struggle, Tyrion chokes her to death, at once a satisfying end for a duplicitous person and a heartbreaking moment for everyone’s favorite Lannister. (GC)
8. Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd)
Khal Drogo’s gift to Viserys of a golden crown at the end of the sixth episode of Game of Thrones was an absolute game-changer. As played by actor Harry Lloyd, Daenerys’s brother was truly a piece of work, and his single-minded obsession with taking back the Iron Throne as soon as possible made him a perfect representation of white male entitlement. He whined. He struck Dany over a perceived slight. He whined. He tried to steal his sister’s dragon eggs. And did we mention that he whined? It was kind of his signature move. Not only was his death a relief—to viewers, and to Dany—it was also the first major character death of the series, and showed that no one in Westeros was safe (something the show really drove home three episodes later). (JG)
7. Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton)
“In my family, we say a naked man has few secrets, a flayed man none.” A perfect example of the apple not falling far from the tree. If Ramsay Bolton was the Joker, then his dad was Hannibal Lecter, as cold as he was vicious and we can see why Ramsay ended up the way he did. Abandoning the Starks and joining the Lannisters’ treachery at the Red Wedding, Roose is the one that stabs Robb Stark, while whispering “the Lannisters send their regards.” The man was foul, using his bastard son as a weapon against anyone, with the promise of making Ramsay his heir before pushing him aside for a “true” son. It was that act that brings us to his death at the hands of his bastard. You breed wild dogs and they will eventually bite you. (GC)
6. Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleason)
What did Sansa ever see in this guy? From his first appearance, actor Jack Gleason portrayed Joffrey with a permanent smug look on his face. After he became king following Robert’s death, one of Joffrey’s first acts was to behead Ned Stark, and he somehow just got worse from there. He tormented Sansa for years, at first refusing to let her out of their engagement, and later threatening to sexually assault her whenever he felt like it. He killed Roz for sport, and he humiliated people on a whim, taking particular glee in lording his power over his uncle Tyrion. His death by poisoning on his wedding day was horrific to watch, but also extremely satisfying, especially once it was revealed that fan-favorite Olenna Tyrell was behind it. (JG)
5. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane)
The self-righteous brother of Robert Baratheon was the rightful heir to succeed the King, but Stannis was an unpopular choice. With everything that he did and sacrificed to try and take the Iron Throne, we can see why few bannermen flocked to his call. The beginning of his fall was burning his enemies to the Lord of Light, followed by breaking his marriage vows to “father” a child with the Red Witch. This union of blood magic was used to kill his brother Renly, a betrayal on more than one level after Stannis, who had secretly been planning Renly’s murder all along, told his brother he had until sunrise to join Stannis and support his claim to the throne. What really puts Stannis so high up on the karma list was sacrificing his daughter to the Lord of Light for a victory over the Boltons at Winterfell. This extreme act made most of his forces abandon Stannis, and left him to open to defeat. Stannis’s arrogant and unbending nature became his downfall as his hypocritical actions turned his world to dust, and his execution after his defeat at Winterfell by Brienne of Tarth, a former knight in Renly’s service who witnessed Renly’s death, with her sword Oathkeeper was the definition of poetic justice. (GC)
4. Walder Frey (David Bradley)
Okay, to be fair: Robb Stark had it coming. The King in the North’s marriage to Talisa broke a promise he had made to Walder Frey (David Bradley) to wed one of Frey’s daughters in exchange for passage through the Frey-held Twins. Robb had some comeuppance coming, but no one could have imagined just what that would be. Frey’s hosting of the infamous Red Wedding—in which Robb, Talisa, Catelyn Stark, and the Stark family’s visiting army are ambushed and slaughtered by Roose Bolton and the Frey forces following the wedding of Catelyn’s brother, Edmure Tully, to one of Frey’s daughters—solidified the alliance between House Frey and House Lannister. At the same time, it broke the ancient Westerosi tradition of guest right, which states that when a guest eats the food or drink off a host’s table, neither guest nor host will harm each other for the length of the guest’s stay. The Red Wedding effectively ended the Starks’ campaign against the Lannisters, and nearly ended the Stark bloodline entirely. It’s fitting, and entirely satisfying, that Walder’s death—and the deaths of all of his male heirs—should come at the hands of Arya Stark. (JG)
3. Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance)
A straight up S.O.B., Tywin Lannister orchestrated the Red Wedding, co-opting Roose Bolton and Walder Frey into betraying Robb Stark, breaking one of the most sacred of tenants, letting harm come to a guest under your roof. During Robert’s Rebellion, he only joined the battle after it was clear that the Mad King was going to lose, leveraging his family into Robert’s court. And let’s not forget his “Father of the Year” standing, Tywin trying to have Tyrion killed every chance he got and in a way that his own hands could be kept clean. Tywin followed this up by taking Tyrion’s love, Shae, after Tyrion is “found guilty” at his trial by combat. Catching an arrow to the gut while sitting on the privy was too good for him. (GC)
2. Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen)
This is all Littlefinger’s fault. We always knew Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) was a creep who was only in it for himself, but it wasn’t until midway through season 4 that viewers learned just how dirty Baelish’s hands were. Yes, just a few episodes earlier we’d learned that Littlefinger was involved in the plot to murder Joffrey, but discovering that he’d manipulated Lysa Arryn into poisoning her husband, Hand of the King Jon Arryn, whose death was the inciting incident of the whole series, took the scope of Lord Baelish’s schemes to the next level. Did he know that Robert Baratheon would name Ned Stark as his replacement Hand? And that do-gooder Ned would wind up dead as a result? Of course he had a hand in that as well, betraying Ned to the Lannisters at the first opportunity. Was it all just a plan to finally get with Catelyn Stark? Baelish was obsessed with Cat, and upon her death at the Red Wedding he turned his attentions to Sansa. Aside from the general creep factor, Baelish arranged for the death of Roz, a prostitute in his brothel who had been reporting on his actions to Lord Varys, and when Lysa Arryn threatened to come between he and Sansa, he pushed his wife to her death out the Eyrie’s Moon Door. After leaving the Vale he arranged a marriage between Sansa and Roose Bolton’s son, Ramsay, which, to put it mildly, went extremely poorly for Sansa (but we’ll get into that later). Of all of his machinations, it was ultimately trying to drive a wedge between the newly reunited Sansa and Arya that proved to be Littlefinger’s undoing. His death was poetic justice after years of scheming and manipulation. (JG)
1. Ramsay Snow/Bolton (Iwan Rheon)
“Evil MF’er” isn’t strong enough to describe the bastard of Roose Bolton. The laundry list of evil that Ramsay commits makes him the second most vile character in Westeros; the only character that out-evils Ramsay Bolton is the Night King and he leads a literal army of the undead. Starting with the mega-level mind games he puts on Theon Greyjoy, your standard Bolton torturing breaks Theon into giving up his desire to be more than a ward of the Starks. But that’s not enough for Ramsay; nope, he tricks Theon into thinking he’s escaping to the safety of his sister’s forces, giving up the true knowledge of Bran and Rickon’s fate, only to be led back for more torture and, ultimately, castration. Ramsay continues to break Theon’s will, taunting him by eating sausages, making him sleep in the dog kennels and not allowing him to bathe, with the cherry on top being his renaming of Theon to ‘Reek.’ With Theon sufficiently broken, the next victim to recive Ramsay’s attention was Sansa Stark, forced to wed him to “keep her safe” from the Lannisters. As Ramsay’s bride, Sansa has to endure the continued presence of Theon/Reek, the person who betrayed her family; she suffered frequent threats made by Ramsay’s whore; she is raped by Ramsay on her wedding night, Ramsey making Theon watch; and she is consistently abused by Ramsay, who lets her know what he considers to be her place, that of a breeding mare. But Ramsay didn’t save all that vileness for his enemies; eventually, he kills his father and unborn brother to claim the title of Warden of the North. The truest example of who he is is when he provokes Jon Snow into blindly charging onto the battlefield by toying with Jon and Sansa’s youngest brother, Rickon, finally killing the young Stark in order to push Jon over the edge. The Battle of the Bastards was Ramsay’s final play at being…well, a bastard, and when Sansa walked away from a captured Ramsay as his own feral dogs tore him to pieces, that was a great moment of karma. (GC)
George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, current book lover, and lifelong comic geek. He is the author of the DC Super Friends Joke Book from Penguin Random House. You can find his work at FistFullofArt.com or follow him on Twitter at @GCarmona3 as he plans his trip to the lands of Westeros.
Joe Grunenwald is a writer and editor living in the Pacific Northwest. He’s taller than a lot of people but not as tall as some people. You can yell at him about this list on Twitter at @joegrunenwald.
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