Game of Thrones is an EPIC fantasy series created by George R.R. Martin that has been delighting fans since 1996. Adapted by HBO in 2011, the series has exploded in popularity with its unique characters, unpredictable plots, and fantastic fantasy world. Whether you’re a fan from the beginning with the novels or a newcomer via the TV series, we can all agree that Game of Thrones has seen a loss of characters. Here is our list of Game of Thrones characters that are truly missed.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
The first in a series of deaths for the Stark family (if you don’t count Lady), Eddard “Ned” Stark is undoubtedly one of the most missed characters of the series. Honorable and virtuous, the Stark patriarch and lord of Winterfell was, for many, the moral compass of the series. He is principled, pragmatic, and unwavering in his loyalty, a genuinely noble man that many admired. Sadly, it is these same qualities that lead to his arrest and eventual execution, an event which sparks the civil war known as “The War of the Five Kings.” His presence in the series is as impressive as it is shortlived, and his death is something many fans have neither forgotten nor forgiven.
The eldest child and rightful heir of Ned and Catelyn Stark, Robb becomes acting Lord of Winterfell after Ned leaves for Kings Landing to serve as the hand of the king. When Ned is arrested for treason, Robb gathers an army and marches south to free his father and rescue his sisters. After Robb gets word of his father’s subsequent execution, he vows revenge against the Lannisters and is named the King of the North by loyal supporters. It is during a raid on one of the Westerlands controlled by the Lannisters that he is wounded and falls in love with his nurse, whom he marries, reneging on a previously agreed marriage arrangement to Walder Frey, a banner man loyal to house Tully, the house of Robb’s grandfather. In a truly traumatizing event known as “The Red Wedding,” Robb is betrayed by his fellow banner man Roose Bolten and he, his pregnant wife, mother, key supporters, and most of his army are brutally massacred.
The wife of Ned Stark, Catelyn is proud, strong, kind, and generous, and has a strong grasp of the political workings of those in power. She lends her knowledge to her eldest son Robb as they march to oppose the Lannister forces to rescue the Stark girls, Arya and Sansa. Many of Catelyn’s decisions and maneuvers (like the one to kidnap Tyrion, for example) are governed by her desire to protect or defend her five children. They can be rather brash, the repercussions of which have a ripple effect throughout the series. One of the guests at the Twins, Catelyn is the last person to die in the event known as “The Red Wedding” after attempting, unsuccessfully to save the life of her eldest son Robb.
One of the more beloved characters in the series, Oberyn Martell is the youngest brother of Doran Martell. An easy-going, vivacious, lustful, and quick-witted man, he often traded thinly veiled barbs with Cersei and made his mistrust for the Lannisters known (for their possible involvement in the death of his older sister Elia and her two children). Also known as the Red Viper, he goes to King's Landing to take his brother's seat on the King's Council while also waiting to seek revenge for his sister’s murder. When Tyrion is accused of murdering King Joffrey, Oberyn, a formidable fighter, volunteers to champion for Tyrion in the trial by combat. Sadly, he is killed in the contest by the knight known as “The Mountain that Rides,” Gregor Clegane.
The powerful leader and warlord of the Dothraki, Khal Drogo is an expert warrior among his tribal people, having never been defeated in battle, a quality which they value above all else. He is married to Daenerys Targaryen in an arrangement orchestrated by her older brother Viserys, in order to gain his support and the use of his powerful warriors for the eventual invasion of Westeros and possible restoration of the Targaryens to power. Although the arrangement is initially troubled with language and cultural differences, Drogo proves to be a kind, sensitive, and loving husband to Dany. After a failed attempt on her life and that of their unborn child, Drogo vows to invade Westeros but is wounded in a subsequent battle with one of his under lords. Daenerys unwittingly sacrifices their unborn son to save him in a forbidden ritual of blood magic and while he is left alive, he is in a completely catatonic state. Weeping for the loss of both her child and her love, Daenerys makes the difficult decision to end his life, smothering him with a pillow.
Known as Barristan the Bold, a hero throughout Westeros, Ser Barristan Selmy is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, having been a member for most of his life. Although he is well over sixty at the start of the series, he remains a remarkable fighter and is well respected. Upon Joffrey's succession to the throne, he is dismissed by Cersei, and while he is offered a castle and land in recognition of his service, Selmy regards the offer as an insult, and throws his sword at Joffrey's feet. He begins serving the exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen after saving her life from another assassination attempt and thereafter swears his allegiance to her. He later exposes Ser Jorah Mormont as a former spy for the late king Robert Baratheon and serves as her advisor after Jorah’s banishment, often counseling her to be a merciful and just ruler. In a death that is strictly unique to the television series, Ser Barristan dies at the hands of the Sons of the Harpy while coming to aid of Grey Worm.
Ygritte is a spirited, quick-witted, and courageous member of the Free Folk. Having lived in the North, she is a skilled archer and is well experienced in survival. Loyal to Mance Rayder and his cause, she held on to the belief that because Wildlings and Northerners both claim descent from the First Men and are therefore distant relatives of one another, there is no need for them to be fighting, and that the real threat lies with the impending invasion of White Walkers. She and Jon become lovers and she later reveals that she knows that he never really truly turned his cloak against the Nights Watch, but that their loyalty should be to each other. When Jon gives up the ruse and goes back to the Nights Watch, Ygritte feels betrayed and vows to kill him herself. When Mance Rayder’s army attempts their siege on Castle Black, Ygritte gets the opportunity to make good on her vow but cannot bring herself to kill Jon out of love for him. When she is mortally wounded by an arrow, she expresses her desire to go back to the grotto where she and Jon first made love, saying that they should have never left it for the world outside before dying in Jon’s arms.
Jeor Mormont, father of Jorah Mormont, is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He is considered a strong, resolute leader who commands the respect of those in the brotherhood. He takes a particular liking to Jon Snow, selecting him as his personal steward and potential successor. After he is saved from a Wight by Jon, Mormont gives Jon his ancestral sword, changing its pommel to a dire wolf, the symbol of House Stark and to suit the late Eddard. To investigate the return of Wights, the disappearance of several Rangers (including Jon’s uncle Benjen), and rumors of a Wildling army, Jeor leads an expedition beyond the Wall but his forces are almost completely annihilated and he is forced to lead the surviving members to the keep of a Wildling ally by the name of Craster. Tensions between the two groups run high until Craster is killed by Karl Tanner, a Nights Watch ranger, an act that Jeor condemns. This leads to a mutiny between the brothers of the Nights Watch, and the honorable Mormont is literally stabbed in the back.
Season 5 of the Game of Thrones television series saw the passing of one of the oldest and possibly the last honorable man at Castle Black, Maester Aemon. Uncle to “The Mad King” Aegon and grand uncle to Daenerys Targaryen, Maester Aemon is elderly and blind, but maintained his razor sharp wit and intellect throughout the series. An advisor to Jeor Mormont, Maester Aemon acted as the voice of reason to his fellow brothers of the Nights Watch, particularly Jon Snow. It is his confession of his relationship to the Targaryens that stops Jon from breaking his vows as a member of the Nights Watch when he learns of Eddard’s imprisonment. Later on in the series, it is Maester Aeomon who defends Jon during his “judging” for breaking his vows for the time he spent with the Wildings (under the command of Qhorin) and he further advises Jon to “kill the boy, and let the man be born," after Jon is elected as the 998th Lord Commander, a position he earned when Aemon breaks the tie by voting in his favor. A fan favorite, Maester Aemon passes away quietly in his sleep of old age, and thus his watch is ended.
The only child of Stannis Baratheon and his wife Selyse, Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon was disfigured as an infant when she was infected with the ordinarily lethal greyscale disease. Intelligent and kind, Shireen is not afraid to share her opinions (like her disapproval of Melisandre’s sacrificial practices) or help to those she comes in contact with (she teaches Sir Davos, then the Wildling Gilly, how to read). Sadly, it is her desire to help others, specifically her father Stannis, which seals her fate, as she is sacrificed to the Lord of Light by Melisandre, and burned to death on a pyre prior to his attempted siege of Winterfell.
Jojen first appears to Bran Stark in a dream as he is fleeing Winterfell with his little brother Rickon, the Stark servants Hodor and Osha who are charged with protecting them, and the last Stark direwolves, Summer and Shaggy Dog. He later approaches Bran while he is alone telling him that he, along with his sister Meera, have been searching for him, having had greensight visions of Bran's whereabouts, and that ultimately Bran would need their help. With a longstanding animosity between Northerners and wildlings, Osha is mistrustful of Jojen and Meera’s intentions, believing Jojen's greensight to be the work of black magic. Bran and Jojen bond, however, and Jojen offers insight to Bran on the Stark heir's own abilities as a warg. The group travels together to Castle Black to seek out the Starks' half-brother Jon Snow until Jojen has a vision causing the group to split up, Bran seeking out the tree and the “Three Eyed Raven” in the vision he shared with Jojen. When Bran, Jojen, Hodor, and Meera reach the tree of Bran's vision, they are attacked by Wights, Jojen being stabbed repeatedly. He lives long enough to see one of the children of the forest before his sister mercifully kills him. Later, as she is grieving, the Three Eyed Raven reveals that Jojen knew his fate from the moment he left and went anyway, and that Jojen died so that Bran could “find what he lost.”
Renly is the third and youngest son of House Baratheon. He serves on the small council in Kings Landing as Master of Laws. Following the death of his oldest brother King Robert, Renly claims the Iron Throne for himself, contesting the claims of his illegitimate nephews Joffrey and Tommen as well as the claim of his older brother Stannis. He unsuccessfully tries to garner the support of Ned Stark in the hours leading up to Robert's death, as he felt that Robert claimed the throne through strength of arms alone and Stannis lacked the personality that people would want to follow. Easy going and sweet in nature, Renly genuinely seems to want what is best for the people over what could be a succession of poor rulers. His dreams of the Iron Throne are cut short, however, when he is assassinated by a shadow creature conjured by Stannis and his advisor, the red priestess Melisandre, during the War of the Five Kings.
Ros is a prostitute of incredible beauty and intelligence. At the start of the series she is working in a brothel just outside of Winterfell but when the War of the Five Kings breaks out, Ros relocates to King's Landing, where she finds employment at the high-class brothel of Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. She later makes a deal with Varys, the Master of Whisperers, agreeing to spy on her employer in exchange for protection, but when Littlefinger learns of their arrangement, Ros is given over to the sadistic King Joffrey for his amusement. She dies after being used as a live target for the king's crossbow while tied to his bed.
Sure, Lady isn’t a human, but that doesn’t make her death at the beginning of the series any less upsetting, most notably because of the unfair circumstances surrounding it. One of six direwolves given to the six Stark children, Sansa’s wolf Lady is killed at the insistence of Queen Cersei and in place of Arya’s direwolf Nymeria after the latter is run off to save her after justifiably attacking Prince Joffrey. Lady’s death is the first of a number of tragedies that will plague the Stark family throughout the series, and serves as a testament to just how far Cersei is willing to go to indulge the downright hateful whims of her most unhinged child, Joffrey.
As the events of the massacre known as the Red Wedding play out at the Twins, one victim of the tragedy that doesn’t get the recognition he deserves is Grey Wind, the direwolf of the King of the North, Robb Stark. As fiercely loyal as the direwolves are in the series, Grey Wind proves a formidable threat and is therefore executed during the melee as well, albeit outside. To make matters worse, Grey Wind’s head is sewn to the body of his master and paraded around the camp as the slaughter of Stark supporters plays out.
While the fifth season of the TV series has ended (2016, hurry up and get here!) and George R. R. Martin has said that his next book will be published soon (somewhere between 2016 and 2018), it never hurts to take a look back at those we lost in the pages (or episodes) of the series. Did your favorite character make the list? Comment on who YOU miss below!
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