In the morally ambiguous world of Westeros, separating the good guys from the bad guys is hard, owing to complex characterization of the cast and crazy situations each and every character is plunged into. But when the bad people are bad, they’re really bad. Few villains can elicit such reactions from the audience as the Game of Thrones antagonists manage to pull off, making them truly hatable. Here are the top ten best Game of Thrones villains, each one making an impact on the audience. Let’s meet the bad guys as we count them down from number ten!
10. The Night King
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This might be a bit of a controversial start, as the Night King is often thought of the ‘big bad’ of the series, THE ultimate villain who surpassed everyone else in both scale and power. Well, at least until the latest season, where he surprisingly killed off in Episode 3 and leaving Cersei to take the role of ‘final boss’. But while he was a fearsome presence and one of the main focuses of conflict for the show that got bigger as the shoe went on, the Night King himself didn’t have much beyond the surface, unlike most of the other characters. He was just a fearsome, silent dark necromancer who wanted to destroy Westeros because he hated the living. Still, there’s no denying he was an intimidating figure, leading legions of zombies and being especially terrifying up close. There’s just the nagging feeling he could’ve made more going for him than ‘evil’ but what we got was still pretty good.
9. Ser Gregor Clegane / The Mountain
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The Mountain’s appearances throughout the series could be counted on one hand but he’s left a huge mark since he first came stomping onto the scene in Season 1. From his actions before the series (murdering Elia Martell and shoving his own brother, Sandor, into a fireplace and scarring him for life), to his horrific actions onscreen such as rampaging through the Riverlands to torturing people to death at the Dreadfort to murdering Obeyrn Martell by squashing his head, the Mountain has cemented himself as one of the worst. He became less of a character after he was revived as a zombie by Qyburn to serve Cersei, being a silent enforcer of her will but at least he got a final showdown with his brother, Sandor, that ended with both their deaths. The Mountain will always have been a memorable, destructive presence that inspired terror whenever he was onscreen.
8. The High Sparrow
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This guy. This guy right here. The High Sparrow was a man we wanted to punch in the face as soon as he came onscreen. A fanatic who hid behind pillars of self-righteousness and acted like what he was doing was in service to his god, the High Sparrow does horrible things while preaching about how good he is to the world. His smug attitude doesn’t help matters either and its thanks to him the Seven Kingdoms are turned upside down overnight, with Margaery getting arrested. He even makes us feel sorry for Cersei after he puts her through the infamous walk of shame. It is very satisfying indeed when he gets blown sky high by an explosion of wildfire in a trap by Cersei. Still, he’s quite effective as an antagonist and all good villains make you hate them.
7. Roose bolton
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Oozing icy menace, Roose Bolton was just as sadistic as his dastardly son, Ramsay, but exercised self-restraint to put on a mask of civility that still made him quite scary. Cold and calculating, Roose began as a vassal to Ned Stark but always had his eye towards taking power for his own. His sadism is on display, with his methods of torture and his House’s symbol being a flayed man but he keeps in the Stark’s good graces until the time is right to strike. And strike he does, stabbing Robb Stark personally at the infamous Red Wedding and putting the North under Bolton control. Until, of course, Roose Bolton was killed himself by Ramsay, as Ramsay’s ambition led him to take Roose’s position by force. Roose may not have the manic energy of his son but he’s far more controlled and intelligent with how he used his villainy.
6. Walder Frey
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Walder Frey may not seem impressive to look at but he’s one of the villains who had the most impact on the series. A slimy, disgusting man who abused his own daughters to produce more heirs to the Frey bloodline. His worst act, however, was betraying his allies, the Starks, leading to the infamous Red Wedding massacre where Robb, Catelyn, and many more are murdered. Walder Frey rightfully pays for his crime later on when Arya kills him but his impact on the series is huge despite his small amount of screen time.
5. Ramsay Bolton
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Oh boy. Of all the antagonists of the series, few inspire open contempt the way Ramsay does. And for good reason. He’s a complete and utter monster, with no redeemable traits at all. He’s completely insane, living not for politics or power but desiring to hurt people. His introduction to the series, where he brutally tortures Theon Greyjoy, is the stuff of nightmares. Not to mention his various other despicable acts including raping Sansa, killing his own father, taking over Winterfell, and his habit of feeding his victims to his pack of dogs. Fortunately, this piece of work meets his end in a suitably karmic fashion, as Sansa locks him in with his own dogs after his defeat at the Battle of Basterds and lets him get eaten alive by them. Ramsay deserved that fate and we sure won’t miss this lunatic.
4. Petyr ‘littlefinger’ Baelish
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Petyr Baelish doesn’t have the over the top antics of some other villains but he’s very dangerous all the same. Almost a Shakespearen figure who relies on his wits and intelligence to play the game of politics, he’s a sly weasel who worms his way into positions of authority through constant scheming. It was Baelish who started the War of Kings with his secret letter to Ned Stark and his true nature is revealed when he betrays Ned Stark, putting a knife to his throat when Ned attempts to confront Cersei over her actions, causing Ned to be killed. He was a man who profited from chaos and its most satisfying to see Sansa eventually corner him, resulting in him being executed in Winterfell.
3. Tywin Lannister
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Tywin Lannister was played to perfection by Charles Dance and it was almost sad to see him go after he takes a crossbow bolt to the chest by his own son, Tyrion, at the end of Season 4. Still, we can’t deny Tywin was a bad, bad man despite how awesome his presence was, a ruthless man who was controlling and spiteful towards his children while being ruthless towards his enemies. Tywin’s relationship to his children showed how each of them had evolved under his tyrannical grip. But despite all his power, Tywin was ultimately a pathetic figure, hypocritical and a complete liar, being both physically and morally bankrupt. No love was lost when he died in complete humiliation on the privy.
2. Cersei Lannister
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Cersei had a tough life. Born to a domineering father and forced into a loveless marriage, her circumstances are understandable for molding her into a dark person but this still does not excuse her present behavior. Her ambition grew more and more as she left redeemable traits behind. She’s been behind the murder of Robert Baratheon and killing thousands with the blowing up of a section of King’s Landing. She became a tyrant Queen of King’s Landing and rose to power through nothing but her determination, grit, and sheer desire to take what she believed was rightfully hers. If only she didn’t have such a lackluster death in the final season, she’d be number 1.
1. Joffrey Baratheon
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The best villain of the show, Joffrey is a snivelling, cowardly, sadistic, arrogant, conniving, selfish, bratty, vicious teenage king. Joffrey was a vile presence whenever he was onscreen, a brilliantly realized sociopath who flaunted his position of power to do whatever he wanted. His villainy was very pretty but it was this pettiness which made him so hatable and not to mention, he was very, very stupid. He tortured everyone he met he could get away with, especially his uncle Tyrion, Sansa, prostitutes, and even animals. He was the best villain on the show, doing everything he did out of short sighted sadism. His death was very satisfying, as we saw him choke to death and die in pain during the Purple Wedding, to the cheers of viewers around the world.
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