We’d like to think that when Obi Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker that he’d never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley Spaceport, he was really talking about the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Of course, as any Game of Thrones fan will tell you, some of the show’s best characters are vile wretches, precisely because their flagrant disregard for decency is captivating to watch. Unfortunately, even a show as high in quality as Game of Thrones has had its share of lousy characters. Whether they’ve long overstayed their welcome or are just plain boring, these 16 are the most poorly-developed characters that Westeros has ever coughed up.
16. Stannis Baratheon
Stannis is one of those characters who would show up from time to time when the pacing needed to be slowed down, as the would-be King of the Seven Kingdoms was a real drag right from moment one. Though actor Stephen Dillane did the best with what he was given, Stannis was much more poorly-written on Game of Thrones than he was in Martin’s books, where he was a stoic, yet charismatic figure. You got a sense of why figures like Ser Davos Seaworth continued to hold a torch for Stannis in the face of ever bleaker odds but in the show, Stannis is a wet blanket who is controlled completely by Melisandre.
The only redeeming quality of Stannis was his warm interactions with his daughter Shireen but the show still managed to screw that up by having Stannis burn his daughter alive at the behest of the Red Woman, a move that was considered highly controversial (and one that presumably went against Martin’s text; we say presumably because the author hasn’t gotten to that point yet). In the end, Stannis’ fate was as unremarkable as his personality: executed by Brienne of Tarth with an off-screen beheading.
15. Renly Baratheon
The other Baratheon brother who died before getting to sit on the Iron Throne, Renly is one of those characters who others speak of highly but never really did anything during his short time on the series to warrant such an opinion. Sure, his presence allowed much more compelling characters like Brienne of Tarth and Margaery Tyrell to enter the story, but the main problem is that it was never made clear why so many people would have backed someone like Renly to be king.
The Tyrells were clearly in it to prop up their own position in the world, but why was Brienne so hopelessly devoted to a man who barely seemed to acknowledge her existence? Even Renly’s lover, Loras Tyrell, seemed to get over his king really quickly, suggesting that while Renly was a much better option to rule Westeros than the likes of his brother Stannis or his “nephew” Joffrey, it was more because he was a tolerable figure rather than a remarkable one.
14. Kevan Lannister
Kevan Lannister’s time on Game of Thrones was so forgettable that we actually had to refresh ourselves on the circumstances of his death (he perishes in the Sept of Baelor explosion alongside Queen Margaery and the High Sparrow). The big problem with ol’ Kev Dawg (or more accurately, Kev Lion) is that the show diminished his presence in favor of giving more screen time to Charles Dance and his outstanding performance as Kevan’s older brother, Tywin.
Kevan was characterized as a much meeker version of his brother, whereas in the books he’s Tywin’s closest ally and a brilliant leader in his own right. He puts his niece Cersei in her place quite a few times but on the show, it’s Cersei who gets the upper hand, ordering her uncle to leave King’s Landing at this point. While this helped make Lena Headey’s Cersei even more formidable, it made Kevan look totally pathetic and a character who really made no impact on the series at large.
13. Meera Reed
Bran Stark’s longtime ally Meera Reed is a likable enough character but she’s always just kind of … there. While her late brother Jojen actually got to have meanginful interactions with Bran thanks to his greenseer powers, Meera more often than not has been relegated to servant duties (she spent the majority of Season 6 dragging Bran around on a sled). Yes, Meera fulfills an important role in the series, since Bran would be dead without her, but would it kill the writers to try and do something to flesh her out a bit? We could have had an interesting dynamic between her and Bran wherein she tries to maintain her companion’s humanity as he becomes more and more lost in his visions, but instead she’s essentially a glorified background character.
12. Rickon Stark
The youngest of the Stark children, Rickon is a very minor character in George R.R. Martin’s novels, so it’s no surprise that the HBO series didn’t give him a big role either. Still, considering just how significant the Stark family is to Game of Thrones as a whole, Rickon is a character who arguably should have been written out of the show altogether. In the books, Rickon and his brother Robb are the only characters who don’t get any point of view chapters but you wouldn’t have known that from just watching the series since Robb’s role was significantly expanded in comparison to his book counterpart.
Unfortunately, Rickon seemed to have his role diminished, which is really saying something given how little he’s in Martin’s books, to the point where we had nearly forgotten about him until he showed up again in Season 6 as Ramsay’s prisoner. In theory, Ramsay holding one of the Starks hostage should have been a tense subplot but he was such an underdeveloped character that by the time he died in Jon Snow’s arms during the Battle of the Bastards, we more relieved than saddened to see him go.
Note: this entry was written during the airing of the seventh season, so depending on what happens with Littlefinger, we’ll update it accordingly.
There was a time when Littlefinger was one of Game of Thrones‘ most fascinating characters but ever since he stopped playing political games with the worst of the worst in King’s Landing, the show really hasn’t known what to do with him. Killing Lysa Arryn and taking control of the Eyrie was an admittedly awesome power play, but Littlefinger didn’t seem to know what to do next.
Helping Jon Snow secure the North by defeating Ramsay Bolton was a move that benefited the Starks the most, as Littlefinger seems to have just done it to get closer to Sansa, who continues to spurn his advances. We miss the Littlefinger who used to seem three steps ahead of everyone else. That version of the character may very well emerge again before the end of Season 7 but until such time, we just wish he would get out of the way of the more interesting characters.
10. Lancel Lannister
Given that power-hungry figureheads like Tywin and Cersei receive the lion’s share (pun intended) of the spotlight when it comes to House Lannister, it’s all too easy to forget about minor players such as Lancel, the self-righteous dweeb who is kind of terrible no matter what end of the morality spectrum he’s sitting on. The nephew of Tywin Lannister, Lancel started out as the sheepish squire to King Robert Baratheon and was quickly revealed to be sleeping with Robert’s wife (and his own cousin) Cersei. He was also involved in Cersei’s plot to have Robert killed, deliberately making him drunk while on a hunt. He later disappeared for awhile after being severely wounded in the Battle of the Blackwater, only to return as a religious fanatic of the Sparrows.
Lancel was even more intolerable following his return, emitting a dead-eyed stare while condemning the actions of his family and other members of the King’s Landing court. That’s the kind of moral inconsistency that puts you on the family “do not call” list. Unfortunately, his flipflopping didn’t endear him to viewers either, so it was hard to be very sympathetic when he ended up being incinerated in Cersei’s spectacular wildfire attack on the Sept of Baelor.
While viewers who never read George R. R. Martin’s books probably wouldn’t have been able to guess that Ros the prostitute was invented for the show, given HBO’s preoccupation with full-frontal nudity, it makes perfect sense. Ros was clearly created to not only increase the breast count of the show’s early seasons (got to do something to bring in the viewers), but also as a thinly-veiled way to give certain other characters more of a role than they had in the books. Littlefinger in particular benefited from Ros’s inclusion, given he owns the whorehouse where she works in King’s Landing.
The main problem with Ros is that she is never able to ascend above her nefarious origins, as she is presented as little more than eye candy for the show’s male viewers. While attempts are made to give her a more important storytelling function, acting as a spy for Varys at one point, not much comes from this before she is unceremoniously murdered off-screen by a sadistic Joffrey, who uses her for crossbow target practice. In the end, we knew her body well, but didn’t really get to see her as a human being.
8. Talisa Stark
In retrospect, it feels kind of cruel to highlight Robb Stark’s love interest as one of the show’s worst characters when she suffered such a brutal, undeserving death. While Talisa may have been the victim of one of Game of Thrones‘ most gut-wrenching death scenes (no small feat, to be sure), it doesn’t excuse how uninteresting she was for pretty much every moment leading up to it.
While Talisa’s marriage to Robb was the main catalyst for the events that would unfold at the infamous Red Wedding, the third season was clogged down with scenes between the two lovers, notable for how out of place they felt in comparison to pretty much every other plotline. Game of Thrones is a show about death, destruction, and political backstabbing, not courtship romances that feel ripped out of a fantasy-themed soap opera. Talisa remains a sympathetic, tragic Game of Thrones character but she’ll also always be one of its dullest too.
Jon Snow’s young steward is so universally-reviled by Game of Thrones fans, the sixth season might as well have just been called “Everyone Hates Olly.” Look, we can understand that Olly was more than a bit perturbed by Jon’s decision to allow the Wildlings safe passage through the Wall, considering that he witnessed his parents being killed by a group of them only a season earlier. To be fair though, Jon offered Olly reasonable explanations for his actions, but Olly refused to listen. It may seem a bit cheap to call Olly one of the show’s worst characters merely for turning against a fan-favorite character, but regardless, he’s just poorly written to boot.
Giving Jon a death glare for an entire season is a good way to telegraph your eventual betrayal from a mile away and if that wasn’t enough, he kills Ygritte, who may or may not have actually killed Jon at the time. Maybe while he was busy plunging a knife into his Lord Commander (and essentially, adoptive father), he should have given some thought to the fact that he killed Jon Snow’s lady love. You’re the worst, Olly and we’re totally okay with the fact that Jon hanged your scrawny neck.
6. The Sand Snakes
How did this show mess up a group of characters with a name that cool? Prince Oberyn Martell was one of the best additions to the fourth season, so we reasonably expected that his illegitimate daughters — a group of take-no-prisoner warrior women called the Sand Snakes — would be just as awesome. When we first see Oberyn’s three oldest daughters — Obara, Tyene, and Nymeria Sand — they are depicted as highly skilled warriors who are eager to avenge the death of their father. Unfortunately, their potential was quickly squandered through a combination of bad characterization and the show’s own mishandling of depicting their prowess in combat (their few fight scenes are easily some of the show’s worst). Out of the three Sand Snakes, the only one who actually makes any kind of impression is Tyene and that’s probably because she received the worst fate of them all, being chained up in Cersei’s dungeon while her mother is forced to watch her die. Although all three met very unfortunate ends, their exit from the series was ultimately for the best.
5. The Mountain
Ser Gregor Clegane, AKA “The Mountain That Rides”, is without a doubt the biggest brute in Westeros…and that’s part of the problem. We can buy that The Mountain is a merciless dullard who only knows how to swing a sword really hard, but when his brother Sandor “The Hound” Clegane is written with so much depth in mind, it makes you wish that The Mountain would at least receive some attention in this department too. The Hound makes a big deal out of his childhood trauma suffered at the hands of his cruel older brother, but it doesn’t land with as much impact as it could have when the two characters never even share a scene.
As a result, The Mountain simply becomes a one dimensional monster that fans can direct their anger at for killing off Oberyn, who was easily one of the most interesting characters in Game of Thrones history. And now that we’ve seen quite a lot of the new “zombified” Mountain, now referred to as Ser Robert Strong, we can honestly say that there is no discernible difference between dead Mountain and his former self, but this is hardly surprising considering he had no personality to begin with.
4. The Waif
The Waif is arguably the most irritating character in the history of Game of Thrones. Ostensibly Arya Stark’s mentor while she trains with the Faceless Men, the Waif turned out to be more of a jaded bully, jealous of the attention Jaqen H’ghar gave Arya over her. This show has proven that annoying characters can still be good characters — Joffrey was such a good villain because he was so committed to being a petulant little turd — but the Waif is so thinly sketched out, she’s little more than a one dimensional intrusion preventing Arya’s story from being, well, good.
At one point, the Waif tells Arya a sob story about being the daughter of a widowed lord, but it turns out to be a lie designed to mess with Arya’s head. Why would a character who professes to be “no one” be so selfish in her resolve to undo Arya, anyway? Perhaps if some context for the Waif’s actions had actually been provided, we could have sympathized with her position, but since this never happened, at least we can now take solace in the fact that she’s just another (eyeless) mask in the Hall of Faces.
3. Hizdahr zo Loraq
It’s never a good sign when you have to refer to a character as “that guy” because you can’t recall his name. Such is the reality of the ill-fated Hizdahr zo Loraq, the posturing aristocrat from Meereen who repeatedly (and annoyingly) pesters Daenerys Targaryen to re-open the gladiatorial fighting pits in a bid to appease the city’s masses. We’re pretty sure we’d relent on any firm stance too if this guy was in our throne room everyday making demands, which seemed to be Hizdahr’s primary function for most of the fifth season.
The show’s writers tried to drop hints that Hizdahr was actually working with the Sons of the Harpy insurgency group to try and murder Daenerys, but given the forgettable nature of the character, it was hard to muster up any interest one way or the other in this possible subplot. Luckily for everyone, Hizdahr was killed by the Sons of the Harpy near the end of last season, which proves his innocence but also proves that he was just as boring as we suspected. Hizdahr zo Loraq — you will definitely not be missed.
The prostitute that won (and eventually betrayed) Tyrion Lannister’s heart, Shae is easily one of the most annoying characters to ever appear on the show. Jealous and vain, Shae constantly chastised Tyrion after he takes her to King’s Landing for failing to spend all of his time with her. Despite Tyrion’s repeated and completely understandable explanations for why the then-Hand of the King couldn’t spend all his time in bed with a woman who’s only interested in his money, Shae never seemed to get the message and became a constant grate on the nerves.
Things got even worse when Tyrion was forced to marry Sansa Stark, as Shae’s jealousy seemed to reach new levels of absurdity. The final Shae-related atrocity was her one-two punch of betrayal against Tyrion, testifying against him in Joffrey’s murder inquest and sleeping with Tyrion’s father Tywin on the side. Fittingly, her death was the one of the show’s most satisfying, with Tyrion breaking his chains by literally choking her with one. Now that’s great writing!
1. Ramsay Bolton
The Bastard of Bolton is not only the worst Game of Thrones character in terms of being the most evil person in Westeros, but is also just the worst character, period. Ramsay was essentially the show’s primary villain for the better part of four seasons, but the problem with this is that having a clear-cut villain has never been something that Game of Thrones is about. The show’s ability to feature a cast of characters that are primarily all morally grey is part of the reason it’s such a hit (well, that and dragons). Ramsay, however, was more like a cartoon villain who somehow spent multiple seasons making life miserable for everyone but himself, including the show’s viewers.
It’s fine to have a sadistic character with a predilection for torture and mutilation (lord knows we do), but there’s a point where all the shocking body violence simply drags the rest of the show down with it. Even worse, Ramsay seemed to get lucky all too often, with giant armies at his disposal for whatever problems came his way. When his own father’s demands to stop torturing folks go unheeded, you know you’re dealing with a grade-A psychopath. At least Joffrey’s indignant cruelty was entertaining to watch. Nothing about Ramsay was in the least bit entertaining — besides his death, of course — and that is why he is the worst Game of Thrones character, period.