In this golden age of television and memorable antiheroes like Nucky Thompson, Walter White, and Tony Soprano, Game of Thrones continues to surprise viewers with its memorable roster of murderous men and wily women.
One of those shoes reminding viewers that justice doesn’t always prevail, author George R.R. Martin has gifted the world of literature some of the best villains ever. Transferred to the TV show by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the world of Westeros has come to life with its big bad b*astards. So, just who are the top 10 Game of Thrones villains?
He may have been late to the party, but that hasn’t made Euron Greyjoy’s time on Game of Thrones any less memorable than the other big bads. Arriving with a bang in Season 6, the pirate uncle of Theon and Yara quickly made his position on the Iron Islands clear when he chucked his own brother from a clifftop (see video below).
Swinging his Kraken axe and making light work of the Sand Snakes, Euron’s inability to keep it in his pants has seen him lust after everyone from Daenerys Targaryen to Cersei Lannister. Off on his jollies to collect the Golden Company for Cersei Lannister ahead of Season 8, Euron is one brutal blaggard who we’re tipping for an early grave in the final six episodes.
A man of few words, Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane proves that braun is sometimes more useful than brains in the Seven Kingdoms. Responsible for giving his The Hound his dashing looks when he shoved his brother’s face into the fire, the older Clegane also flexed his muscles when taking on Oberyn Martell.
Although the showrunners continue to dispel those Cleganebowl rumours, it could be The Mountain vs. The Hound in Season 8 for the showdown to end all showdowns.
The meek Daenerys Targaryen started Game of Thrones as little more than a punching bag to her brother Viserys. As Season 1 evolved, it became clear that Dany was just as fiery as her family name. Unfortunately for Viserys, the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Suffering from a jealous streak against his younger sister, Viserys made the fatal mistake of crossing Daenerys and Khal Drogo. After trying to steal her dragon eggs and brandishing a sword in the Dothraki holy city, Visery’s tantrum meant he was destined to depart the show earlier than most. With Jason Momoa’s iconic line of, “A crown for a king”, at least Viserys finally got that crown he’d always wanted (see video below).
Although Baelish looked to be a contender to sit his meticulous moustache on the Iron Throne, jaws were on the floor when his schemes unravelled in Season 7. Making the fatal error of trying to turn the Stark girls against each other -- and not knowing Bran Stark’s creepy abilities -- Baelish was outed for his role in Ned Stark’s death.
With the flick of a blade (that he’d tried to off Bran with), Baelish bled out in front of a crowded hall at Winterfell. Up there with some of the show’s most satisfying deaths, Littlefinger got the grisly goodbye he deserved.
While most of House Lannister could land on a “Best Villains” list at any time, Joffrey Lannister was the OG bad guy from Game of Thrones. The snivelling weasel ordered Ned Stark’s execution, nailed Ros to the wall with a crossbow, and even threatened to skin Ser Pounce.
There were undoubtedly plenty of cheers when the little brat choked on that poisoned wine at his own wedding. Either way, Joffrey Baratheon rightly earned his villainous stamp of approval.
Topping the list as one of the best Thrones episodes of all time, Season 3’s “The Rains of Castamere” was the mastermind plan of Walder Frey. Managing to wipe the Starks from the map and put an abrupt end to one fifth of the War of the Five Kings, Frey’s Red Wedding saw the devastating demise of Talisa, Robb, and Catelyn Stark.
Even after fans managed to get over the twist, the ferocious Frey continued to be a skurge of the North. Once known as the late Walder Frey for his tardiness, the family patriarch is finally six feet under. Arya Stark still managed to find a use for Walder’s ugly mug and exacted her revenge on the family with her handy Mary Poppins bag of many faces.
Much more than a wine-swilling manipulator, Cersei Lannister is Game of Thrones’ very own Wicked Witch of the Westeros. She may be a loving mother to her (deceased) children, but that hasn’t stopped Cersei covering everything from incest to treason.
Cersei nearly had the sympathy of the masses after her humiliating walk of shame. Thankfully, she returned to being Public Enemy No. 1 after blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor and fan-favourites like Margaery Tyrell. Another redemption arc was offered when Daenerys and Jon Snow suggested an uneasy alliance to defeat the White Walkers.
The conniving Cersei has even managed to push her brother-lover Jaime away, and with the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms looking particularly lonely at King’s Landing, could she be on a fast-track to becoming the Night Queen and perhaps the biggest villain ever to grace Game of Thrones?
With a penchant for flaying his victims and c*ck-chopping, Ramsay Snow brings a whole different meaning to the word bastard when it comes to Game of Thrones. The former Snow became synonymous with some of the show’s most gruesome scenes and was responsible for the controversial rape storyline with Sansa Stark.
After killing his own father (a popular trait in the Seven Kingdoms), Ramsay solidified his seat at Winterfell and formed one half of the show-stopping Battle of the Bastards. These days, the Stark wolf once again hangs over their homestead and Ramsay was quite literally fed to the dogs (see video below). Let’s be honest, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Giving Westworld a run for its money as the raunchiest show on HBO, actress Carice van Houten isn’t afraid to bare all as the Lady Melisandre. Better known as the Red Woman, Melisandre was once the shifty companion of Stannis Baratheon. Proving that she only serves the Lord of Light, Mel then turned her attention to Jon Snow.
Sure, resurrecting the King in the North may have helped redeem Melisandre’s shadowy past, but is anyone going to forgive her for that Baratheon BBQ that served sautéed Shireen?
The Night King
Giving the series regulars a frostier reception than most, the Night King has finally evolved into the big bad of Game of Thrones. Unlike a political strategist trying to gain a seat of power in the realm, the Night King is more frightening that the rest of the show’s villains because he has no apparent motive.
There are various theories on Bran Stark’s connection to the Night King and a hint that the young Stark will actually become Game of Thrones’ final big bad. Only time will tell, but the Night King looks determined to wipe life as everyone knows it off the face of the Earth.
With a zombie dragon by his side and the Wall having tumbled to allow the White Walkers into Westeros, the Night King is set to recruit at least a few more of our favourites to his icy “Thriller” homage in Season 8.