It’s Villain Week here at Mashable. In honor of the release of Venom, we’re celebrating all our favorite evildoers from film and TV all week long. Spooky, scary!
Game of Thrones is a franchise full of horror and death, and lots of character are to blame for all that horror and death.
But author George R. R. Martin has stated on numerous occasions that he wrote the fantasy series to deliberately subvert the genre tropes of “good vs. evil.” All his characters, including most of his protagonists, are not all good nor all bad. They are human, falling somewhere in the gradient of the grey moral area between the two.
But the world these morally grey characters were born into is harsh and unforgiving. And thus, it’s led nearly every one of them to commit acts of true villainy.
We put together an exhaustive list of Game of Thrones characters, and ranked them on a scale of most to least justified evil-doing (based on what we know so far):
A true victim of this villainous world. Did what he was told ’til death: Held. The. Door.
53. Shireen Baratheon
Ostracized all her life, and one of the only pure souls on this list. Never did anything wrong, despite being born to a mother who hated her and a lobster of a father. Deserved better.
Sweetie pie — #ProtectGilly. Has lived through so much, and comes out stronger each time. Sam took credit for her major discovery about Rhaegar’s divorce and it still burns us up.
50. Samwell Tarly
Mostly great! His cowardice put his brothers in danger a few times, but as a result his body count is lower than most.
49. Mira & Jojen
Also got a raw ass deal. Dove into danger and the unknown with nothing but a prophecy and sense of duty to protect what is right. Never rewarded or thanked. Bran can fuck right off.
Nothing to see here, just the woman who should have ruled Slaver’s Bay instead of Daenerys.
47. Grey Worm
Perfect, an angel, but important enough to be on the list. Was an accidental peeping tom that one time. Probably forced to do terrible things in Unsullied training, but that’s not his fault.
Sweetest, most honorable smuggler you’ll ever find. A family man, who vowed to do right by the world after gaining the means and opportunity to do so. Stuck to his word. Also, how much evil could be in a man who they call the Onion Knight?
45. Tommen Baratheon
Not strong enough to stand up to his mother and save his wife/court. But not really his fault. He also turned out half decent despite having Cersei for a mother and Joffrey for a brother.
44. Ned Stark
Lied about Jon Snow his whole life. So obsessed with the idea of duty and honor that he couldn’t make the hard calls that would’ve prevented literally every terrible thing that followed his death. Should have listened to the deserter in Episode 1, yet somehow trusts everyone else too easily.
43. Jon Snow
Had to make his spying mission difficult by falling in love. Tries to do the right thing, but was blinded by the Ned Stark plague of getting people killed by being blinded by honor and goodness. Got himself killed in the process. Could’ve really done a better job on the war against the dead if he just explained it better.
42. Tyrion Lannister
Only alive by a preponderance of fate and others intervening for him. Killed his crap dad. Has perhaps sided with a dragon-riding maniac. Terrible taste in women.
41. Brienne of Tarth
Her loyalty to Renly was oversized but genuine. Killed a bunch of people in her tunnel vision approach to loyalty.
40. Sansa Stark
The only thing Sansa has ever done wrong is lie about the direwolf attack and tell Cersei about Ned’s plans, and she was coerced into doing so by the standards of womanhood and a system that kept her intentionally in the dark about the true nature of her place in the world. Also maybe could have told Jon about the Vale knights but she had a good reason not to trust him.
39. Margaery Tyrell
Manipulative and opportunistic, but never without reason. Kind in her own way. Not a killer though (that we know of?)
Mostly OK. Definitely a murderer, but so is everyone else. And showing Jon Snow how to (temporarily) lighten up was an act of public service.
37. Arya Stark
Tiny little murder munchkin. Very adverse reaction to childhood trauma. Killed her first pigeon at 9 and is now Rambo. Could stand to up her communication skills. But her need for vengeance is kind of very much justified, all things considered.
36. Robb Stark
Dumbass couldn’t stomach the idea of keeping a mistress so he torpedoed the Northern Cause.
35. Doran Martell
Good intentions, but useless. Sins akin to that of Chidi in The Good Place.
34. Oberyn Martell
Revenge trumped any sense of logic, leading to his fatal, too flashy fight against the Mountain. Left his family defenseless in the wake of his death. Should have worn a helmet.
33. Jaime Lannister
Had a real rough start there. Pushed a kid out of a window in the first episode and it all kinda went downhill from there…until it started going uphill? Took an irredeemable blow to his honor by becoming a Kingslayer to protect King’s Landing — and never told anyone. Redemption arc isn’t finished yet. Wait and see.
Didn’t follow directions and blew his cover as Robert’s son, which could have led to a crisis of the crown. Also, weak to the fire goddess boobies and, from some perspectives, accidental at fault in the magic spell that killed all the other Five Kings (including Robb).
31. Bran Stark
Was pretty OK for the most part, but now he’s Google? Definitely should not have touched the Night King in that vision, because now Hodor and Leaf (and all the other Children of the Forest) are dead and there’s no going back. Also WTF with that casual comment about Sansa looking beautiful on her Rape Wedding day??? Fuck you.
30. Daenerys Targaryen
Ostensibly the protagonist but really likes burning people alive. Took over Slaver’s Bay with no real plan on how to re-stabilize the region. Gotta get back to the burning though, she burned so many people. And from the perspective of all the cities she “frees” (including Westeros), she looks like little more than an invading conqueror.
Hard to say, since who knows what’s his deal, really? Voted for Robert to assassinate Daenerys, then helped her. Might be one of the only genuine Westerosi loyalists to the people. But IDK. Villain status undetermined, and he likes it that way.
Absolute shit at interpreting prophecy with HORRIBLE results. Burned a child alive, wasted Stannis’s army. Bandwagon jumper. Birthed a shadowy nightmare assassin for fratricidal purposes. However, like Varys, justifies her action as part of the greater good and seems to genuinely believe it. Villainy status remains to be seen.
27. Jaqen H’gar
Sure, the countless murders are purposefully kept a grey moral area. But could have been a bit less vague about what he was asking of Arya. Terrorized and blinded a traumatized child. Sent a hit man (hit child?) after her too.
26. Renly Baratheon
Stupid baby who thought he deserved the crown for no reason, and with no idea of what it would take or how to keep it. Shouldn’t have listened to Loras. But points for being cute to Brienne.
25. Loras Tyrell
Yeah he’s killed people but everyone has. Convinced Renly to make an illegal bid for the throne which further fractured the realm and got us all in this mess.
24. Stannis Baratheon
Obsessed with his duty, which isn’t a terrible thing. But teamed up with a witch to get his dick wet and got way more than he bargained for. Gave the OK to burn his own damn beautiful and kind daughter. Stuck up grammar nazi.
23. Yara Greyjoy
Actually pretty dope, but she’s still a Greyjoy who’s done pretty shitty Greyjoy things. And pirating.
Money over morals in every sense of the word. Not a very good justification. Lotsa murder. Hurt Drogon (very distressing).
21. Olenna Tyrell
Orchestrated regicide (he was a shit king, but still a kid) and let Sansa take the fall for it (also a child). Biggest badass on the list by a mile. Also, this is a man’s world. And Olenna ensured her matriarchal-heavy house’s survived for as long as it did. Unlike Tywin, she did it all to protect family and not just legacy.
20. Sandor Clegane
Homicidal lapdog to King Joffrey turned abusive (though hilarious) travel partner. Had a good few months’ run there but went right back to murder o’clock at the first setback. Empathy points for traumatizing childhood he’s at least attempting to overcome, though.
19. Robert Baratheon
Drunk, abusive dummy who started THE war over a woman who didn’t even like him and lied about her being kidnapped and raped. Responsible for existence of Joffrey. Let his own wife succeed in murdering him before he could stabilize the realm. Put the realm in debilitating debt.
18. Theon Greyjoy
A real roller coaster up and down the alignment chart. Betrayed the Starks despite them treating him well, burned Winterfell, killed two innocent boys, got tortured and brainwashed, didn’t help Sansa until the literal last second. Trying to make amends now but like…that’s a lot of red in his ledger. But also empathy points for growing up an ostracized but pampered prisoner of war.
17. Rhaegar Targaryen
Just get a fucking divorce in public, oh my god. Look at what you did. Also supposedly started this entire, decades-long war over a prophecy promising glory? Nope.
16. Khal Drogo
Marital rape (on the show, at least) was a thing for a while. Was a genocidal warlord. But kind of born into it in that confused culture, and seemed willing to listen to his wife and somewhat change his ethics.
15. Jorah Mormont
Can’t take a hint. Betrayed Daenerys in the hopes of going back to an objectively shittier life in Westeros. Sold slaves.
14. Ellaria Sand
Didn’t have to kill Myrcella. Senselessly perpetuated the cycle of violence. Annoying daughters. But we give some respect for her love for country and family, however misguided.
Betrayed Tyrion under pressure, which was bad enough, but then she banged his dad right after he sentenced Tyrion to death. In her defense, Tyrion never should have brought her to King’s Landing and she was always in over her head.
12. Cersei Lannister
Just trying to protect her children…but doesn’t have any more children and now just wants to blow stuff up. Wants the North to die in a zombie apocalypse. Def had her husband killed but that may have been justified. Murdered more than half the nobility in one fell swoop. Was going to poison her own son. But her villainy often comes back to traumas of being a woman in such a patriarchal society. Definitely not “Tywin Lannister with teats.”
11. Lysa Arryn
Clearly unstable after years of jealousy. Spoils her kid, killed her husband, almost murdered Sansa. Needs to keep it down in the bedroom, the Eyrie really echoes. Really no reason for her to act like such a shit all the time, except perhaps mental illness.
10. Viserys Targaryen
Ill-equipped for life or power, sold his sister to a horse war lord and threatened gang rape if she didn’t comply. Beat women. Very whiny.
9. Night King
Hot (cold?) take: The Night King and White Walkers will definitely get some sort of justification in the finale season. Arguably only started building an army and going on the defensive after the dragons were born, which is a huge threat to his kind’s survival.
8. Tywin Lannister
Neglected his son, tried to control the world, was fine with murdering said neglected son. Ordered the Red Wedding and the fall of House Castamere. Did it all to protect legacy, not family.
7. Walder Frey
Jealous, incestuous, abusive, homicidal rapist and unintentional (honestly questionable) cannibal. Hosted the Red Wedding and killed a lifelong ally and childhood friend because of a slight. Always late.
6. Roose Bolton
The North will never forget the Red Wedding, and what you personally did to Cat, you power hungry, psycho-birthing Judas.
5. Gregor Clegane
Literally a cartoon Black Knight. Rapist, baby-smasher, murderer. Is a zombie now, so the morality of his current actions are debatable.
4. Petyr Baelish
Top to bottom one of the worst humans ever. Engineered Jon Arryn’s death, manipulated *checks notes* every single one of these characters. Sold Sansa to the Boltons. Says he was doing it all for love, but actually just because of childhood grudges. Giant pile of yikes.
3. Joffrey Baratheon
Genuinely disturbed, selfish, homicidal maniac. Tortured and killed women. A coward. Rude. Cut a rare book in half!!! No reason for any of this behavior other than being spoiled by Cersei.
2. Euron Greyjoy
Way worse in the books, but one of the most revolting human beings regardless. Also bad plan but acts cocksure about it in this way that makes us feel like he deserves a punch.
1. Ramsay Bolton
Where do we even start? A psychopath who loves every bad thing in the world. Killed hundreds, a serial rapist, a people hunter, a torturer, murdered his infant brother and stepmother, starved his dogs. Worst part? Terribly written character with no compelling reason for existing at all.