Game of Thrones is most commonly known as a show full of shocking moments. With major character deaths, betrayals, unexpected plot twists and outstanding cinematic quality, it is possibly one of the greatest TV shows of all time. On top of all of this, The Game of Thrones franchise has turned out some of the most unforgettable villains of all time and this article will take you through my top five.
- Cersei Lannister
In at number five is Cersei Lannister, possibly one of the most power-hungry villains of the ‘Game of Thrones,’ universe. Driven by narcissism and vanity, she comes from one of the wealthiest and most powerful families of Westeros, the Lannisters. Her fiercely protective love for her children combined with her lust for power makes her one of the most complicated characters in the show. Some of her most notable acts of villainy include arranging King Robert Baratheon’s death and blowing up Baelor’s Sept with wildfire, killing many significant characters.
Lena Headey was nominated for five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and a Golden Global Award for Best Supporting Actress for her outstanding performance as Cersei Lannister. Definitely an unforgettable character!
- Tywin Lannister
In at number four comes another character from House Lannister, the ruthless and cunning patriarch, Tywin. Father to Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion, he is one of the most powerful political figures in Westeros. His cruel and despicable treatment of his youngest son is probably the biggest reason why he has made his way onto my list of best villains. Blaming him for the death of his mother in childbirth and despising him for being a dwarf, Tywin constantly bullies and mocks Tyrion and eventually forces him to marry against his will. Some of his most memorably villainous actions include conspiring to have Robb Stark and his army slaughtered at the Twins and letting his son stand trial whilst knowing he is entirely innocent.
Charles Dance, the man behind the character, received positive reviews and acclaim for his role, with Clive James, an Australian critic, describing his portrayal as “not only the best role of its kind that Dance has ever had but the best role of its kind that anyone has ever had.”
- Joffrey Baratheon
In at number three is Joffrey Baratheon, one of the most annoying, spoilt, and sadistic characters in not just Game of Thrones, but television history. Disguising his villainy and cruelty with charm, Joffrey lacks all the good qualities of a King. He is constantly whining or blaming his failures on others and, whilst he loves extreme violence, is an absolute coward. His mistreatment of Sansa Stark in the first season, constantly mocking and insulting her, is infuriating. One of his most memorable moments comes at the end of season one…you probably know what I’m going to say. The execution of Eddard Stark was one of the most shocking moments in Game of Thrones, history, and behind it all was Joffrey, who later forces Sansa to look at her own father’s head. I have never cheered so much at a character’s downfall as at Joffrey’s brutal and graphic death at his own wedding.
Irish actor, Jack Gleeson, received critical acclaim for his portrayal as Joffrey Baratheon, and in 2016 Rolling Stone ranked his character number four in their list of “40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time.”
- Petyr Baelish
Considered one of the main antagonists of the series, Petyr Baelish takes my number two spot of the best villains in Game of Thrones. Being a highly ambitious character, he secretly manipulates and bribes others to unjustly climb his way up the ladder of power. His intelligence is probably his most dangerous attribute as he is easily able to hide his cunning plans and motivations. He uses lies, treachery, and even murder to achieve his own goals and is most commonly known for manipulatively starting the conflict between the Lannisters and the Starks.
Aiden Gillen, the actor who plays Petyr Baelish, has received multiple nominations for his portrayal including the Portal Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2012 and the Irish Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television in 2012 and 2014.
- Ramsay Bolton
And finally, taking my number one spot among the best villains of Game of Thrones, is the cruel and callous Ramsay Bolton, one of the most vicious and sadistic TV characters of all time. Known for being the show’s most brutal and hated villain, Ramsay Bolton is mostly remembered for his savage torture of Theon Greyjoy. His character is a downright psychopath, with many of his villainous actions being unpredictable and wildly unexpected. His cruel murder of young Rickon Stark in ‘The Battle of the Bastards,’ was entirely uncalled for and one of the most intense scenes in the show.
In 2016, The New York Times referred to the character as “arguably the most hated man on television” and “the signature Game of Thrones villain,” replacing Joffrey Baratheon. Welsh actor, Iwan Rheon received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Ramsay Bolton, a character who perfectly represents pure evil.
So, do you agree with my top five villains of Game of Thrones? Of course, there are so many more that could have made it onto my list: Euron Greyjoy, The Mountain, Roose Bolton, Alliser Thorne. Despite what you think, one thing is certain… Game of Thrones has some of the most spectacularly written and well performed villains in television history.