Dragon House ended its hugely successful first season with an episode that included everything from plots to steal the Iron Throne to dragon battles and a violent death. In short, it was just another day in Westeros. Yes, Dragon House was a resounding success, but it owes much of it to game of thrones. The show that single-handedly revived the fantasy genre and redefined what “show” meant on television, Obtained changed the situation.
The show won the hearts of fans and critics alike with a successful blend of political intrigue and good old-fashioned drama; there was nothing like it on TV or in the movies. game of thrones featured a seemingly endless parade of morally questionable characters vying to sit on a pointy chair, and we couldn’t get enough of it. Indeed, the pursuit of power was at the heart of Obtained, with each major player wanting to get their share of glory. But what is power in Westeros? Varys said it best: it’s an illusion, a shadow on the wall. And these characters certainly cast a very big shadow. Whether because of their resources, armies, gold, or charm, these characters were the most powerful in Westeros and the beating heart of the Game of Thrones.
10. Jon Snow
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Whether game of thrones had something that looked like a prototypical hero, it was Jon Snow. A Stark through and through, Jon was honorable, courageous, selfless, guided by a strong sense of right and wrong, and willing to put aside his pride for the greater good. Jon has fought many battles, suffered heartbreaking betrayals, seen countless people die, and lived for years with the knowledge of the White Walkers and the threat they posed to the kingdom.
Few characters have risen as high as Jon. He rose from Bastard of Winterfell to Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, to King in the North, to future King of the Andals, First Men and Rhoynar. However, in his timeless words, he “doesn’t want it.” Jon took power but never took advantage of it; he inspired many but earned the hatred of countless others. Jon’s power always had a ceiling as he never let it go beyond his reach. Maybe the game of thrones the sequel will see Jon play the role of King Beyond the Wall, but that’s pretty unlikely. Jon doesn’t want to rule anything; at the end of the show, he just wants to die in peace.
Spiders can be dangerous if underestimated; Varys is the perfect proof. The Master of Whisperers was a standout Game of Thrones player, almost as good as Littlefinger – on the show, anyway; Varys is miles ahead of everyone else in the novels. The Spider exchanges secrets; he knows everything about everyone, even the things to come. Thanks to her little birds, Varys can be anywhere, anytime. And in a place like Westeros, its near ubiquity is a power like no other.
Alas, Varys never wields real power; however, it whispers in the ears of those who do, and in many ways it’s as if it weren’t better. Varys is the series’ most mysterious character, an intelligent man who has played the game for the long haul. His loyalties were to the common people, and while his wealth and position were limited, his influence and reach extended to Westeros and beyond the Straits.
8. Petyr Baelich
No one, and I mean really no one, has played the game better than Petyr Baelish. Littlefinger had all the major characters in the palm of his hand, manipulating them from the shadows. He single-handedly started the War of the Five Kings with just a few well-chosen words and a dagger. Littlefinger’s philosophy – chaos is a ladder – led him to become one of the wealthiest men in Westeros, seizing opportunities like war and conflict to improve his situation. He went from customs control at Gulltown to Master of Coin at Robert’s Small Council. Throughout the show, he rises even higher, becoming Lord of Harrenhal and Lord Protector of the Vale.
Littlefinger proves his cunning time and time again. By the time his death occurs in season 7, he wields considerable power and influence over the Vale. However, Littlefinger has few allies; his evil ways are infamous across Westeros, and no one in the realm trusts him. When things happened, no one dared to intercede on his behalf.
7. Olenna Tyrell
All hail the Queen of Thorns. Lady Olenna Tyrell was one of the best and most cunning players in the game. She commanded respect wherever she went, acting as the de facto head of her house and managing the Tyrell’s vast resources. Olenna was so capable that she was one of the few characters able to take on Tywin. Olenna always had the last word, literally.
Besides her famous reputation as a sensible woman, Olenna wielded considerable influence in the kingdom. She knew how to play the game and no one dared underestimate her. Olenna heard beyond Varys’ whispers and saw beyond Littlefinger’s lies; she was the hand that guided some of the show’s most important events, and she did it all without ever staining her hands red. She was very, very good.
6. Sansa Stark
Although she spends most of her time on the show as a somewhat helpless victim, Sansa eventually becomes one of the most influential and powerful people in the kingdom: Queen in the North. Sansa has one of the best character developments in game of thronesgoing from an obnoxious, silly girl to a confident, resourceful young woman willing to risk everything for the North.
The road is not easy for Sansa, but she overcomes all challenges. Sansa’s strength of character leads her to defend the interests of the North against anyone, be it Daenerys or Bran. Sansa ends the show as the ruler of the newly restored Northern Kingdom, on equal footing with Bran. The North is the greatest kingdom in Westeros, and every man and woman of the North will be steadfastly loyal to it, which means that Sansa will preside over a vast territory with a capable and staunchly committed army. Enemies of the Starks, beware; The North remembers.
5. Robert Baratheon
Good old Robert Baratheon. He only wanted to get drunk and fight; gods was he a great character! Robert won the Iron Throne after his rebellion. He never wanted to govern; he only wanted revenge on Rhaegar and end the dragon house out of spite. In his mind, the many crimes of the Targaryens were too heinous to continue; all dragons and their offspring should die.
As King of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert wielded considerable power. He didn’t care, however, and chose to spend his days “eating, drinking and prostituting himself to an untimely death”. Yet Robert exercised his power when it mattered, and no one in the Seven Kingdoms dared oppose him. You could say his power was limited because someone always reigned in his place, but if there’s any truth to that, there’s no denying that Robert wielded absolute power during his time on the Iron Throne, from less on the surface.
4. Cersei Lannister
Cersei Lannister said it well: “power is power”. In Westeros, that means armies and gold, and no house had more of both than the Lannisters. The Rock Lions were feared in the Seven Kingdoms, especially once Cersei became Robert’s queen. Although her position was important, her influence was limited, even though she was the first lady of the kingdom. Yet that didn’t stop her from using her wealth and doing whatever she wanted, getting away with it using intimidation and fear.
Things change after Joffrey and Tommen die. Cersei becomes Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and proves to be cunning and ruthless enough to play the role well. Despite losing most of the Great Houses to Daenerys, Cersei plays her cards right, getting gold from the Iron Bank and the other half of the Greyjoy fleet. Cersei clung to the Iron Throne for as long as she could, and while she knew she was fighting a losing battle, she fought an admirable fight.
3. Tywin Lannister
Fear was synonymous with power in game of thrones, meaning that Tywin Lannister was one of a kind in Westeros. If any of his bannermen or enemies even thought of challenging him, Tywin had only to send a singer with a harp; as soon as “The Rains of Castamere” played, all talk of rebellion ended. Now, this is power.
Twice he was the most powerful man in the kingdom, effectively ruling the kingdom during his tenure as Hand of the King of Aerys II and Joffrey. His influence went beyond gold or armies; Tywin was clever, making alliances through marriage and cementing the Lannisters as the most formidable, envied, and feared House in the realm. Tywin gave new meaning to the word “power”; he understood it to be a fickle and treacherous illusion and made sure to always have the narrative under control. Tywin’s shadow loomed over Westeros, even after his death. His reputation was just as impressive as his deeds, a rare thing for the Seven Kingdoms.
2. Daenerys Targaryen
The Mother of Dragons had everything she needed to win the Game of Thrones except for good writers. Daenerys was game of thrones‘ undeniable star, who single-handedly lifted the show to new heights. Dany was inspiring and compelling, and it’s no surprise that she garnered so much power over the show’s eight seasons.
At the height of her power, Daenerys commanded an Unsullied army, a Dothraki horde, the Second Sons, the Greyjoy fleet, and three adult dragons, not to mention the armies of Dorne and Reach. The Breaker of Chains had more raw power than anyone else in Westeros or across the strait; she could have taken King’s Landing in a matter of hours had it not been for the terrible and misguided advice of a certain Tyrion Lannister. Daenerys could have lived to become the greatest Targaryen conqueror since Aegon; alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
1. Bran Stark
Who has a better story than Bran, the Broken? No doubt everyone else in the show. Alas, Bran Stark has won the Game of Thrones; it’s true. The young boy went beyond the Wall and became the Three-Eyed Raven, wielding a power that allowed him to be everywhere and see everything; in his words, he was living in the past. Bran became the memory of Westeros, arguably giving him all the insight he needed to be a capable king who wouldn’t make the mistakes of his predecessor.
As the new king of the Andals, First Men, and Rhoynar, Bran is the most powerful individual in Westeros. His supernatural abilities further add to his position, making him unique among the rulers of the continent. Bran ends the show as the undisputed winner of Game of Thrones; even more impressive is the fact that he’s never even played it, which is basically a major for anyone who’s tried and failed to sit in the ugly, pointy chair.
You can stream all 8 seasons of game of thrones on HBO Max.