Game of Thrones features everything from mystical blue-eyed ice demons to fire-breathing dragons. It is populated by bloodthirsty enemies and backstabbing allies. Westeros is a dangerous place where death and betrayal lie around every corner, waiting to strike at any moment.
Yet, despite all of the murder and mayhem in the series, the Seven Kingdoms also contains many examples of love and friendship. Plenty of lasting, meaningful, and often hysterical bonds between two people can be found there– the kind of connections capable of overcoming the harsh, brutal realities of their world. (Until one of them gets an arrow in the belly, at least.)
So to celebrate these relationships we’re ranking our favorite pairs, the ones that we’re most excited to see on screen together. (Only human pairs though, so apologies to Ghost and Drogon). These are the characters who bring us the most joy when they are with one another, either because of their shared love, respect, fondness, or their ability to make entertain us and make us laugh.
Here are the 20 Best Game of Thrones Duos, Ranked.
20. Tyrion and Daenerys
Two of the show’s most important characters and one of our favorite pairs, Tyrion and Daenerys, only rank so low because of their short time together. The two didn’t meet until late in season five, and then were separated for most of season six while Daenerys was a prisoner of Khal Moro.
However, during this short time Tyrion managed to earn the trust and respect of the Mother of Dragons, resulting in her naming him Hand of the Queen during a very emotional moment in the season six finale.
Their best scene together is the first time they sat alone and discussed whether or not Tyrion would become Daenerys’ adviser. It is witty, challenging, and extremely entertaining– two of the series’ most clever characters feeling each other out, and realizing that they both have a lot to offer one another. Their partnership (which might even be blood related if a fan theory about Tyrion’s real father proves true), might very well lead to them conquering Westeros.
19. Robert and Ned
King Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark‘s time together on the show– where their relationship was more like two loving brothers than friends– was brief. However, no two characters on Game of Thrones had a richer and more important history together than Ned and Robert.
They grew up together as children in the Eyrie, as the wards of Jon Arryn. After the Mad King demanded both of their heads, the two rose up together and rebelled against the crown, bringing down the greatest dynasty the Seven Kingdoms had ever known, and placing Robert on the Iron Throne.
After Jon Arryn’s death, Ned was the only man in Westeros who Robert trusted enough to help him rule, and Ned could not refuse his dear friend. While this ended in tragedy for both of them, the time they spent joking around, sharing old stories, and yelling at each other like brothers were some of season one’s best scenes.
18. Sam and Gilly
Few pairs have seen and endured quite as much as Samwell Tarly and Gilly. They escaped the mutiny at Craster’s Keep, and were able to survive an attack by a White Walker. Together, they successfully managed to make it through the snow and cold back to the Wall, all while carrying a newborn. They also lived through the wildling attack on Castle Black and the difficult journey to House Tarly.
During all of this they have looked out for and protected one another, while taking the time to teach and share their very different skills and knowledge. It is a relationship built entirely on love and devotion, even though Sam’s sacred Night’s Watch vows mean they can never truly be together.
They come from opposite side of the tracks— or rather, opposite sides of the Wall— but despite their many differences they have always worked through their obstacles as a loving pair. They are two good people who found one another in a world full of death and horror.
17. Varys and Olenna
Two of the show’s funniest, sharpest, most entertaining characters, the Spider and the Queen of Thorns always put a smile on viewers’ faces whenever they share a scene. Their interactions are always fun and intriguing, and they would rank much higher if these encounters weren’t so rare.
As an unlikely pairing, completely devoid of any romantic undertones, the two found strength in an unexpected alliance. Scheming against the crafty Lannisters is hard work, which is made easier by aligning with other smart players in the deadly game of thrones. While few can match wits with Varys, not only is Olenna up to the challenge, but she is the only person to ever leave the Master of Whispers tongue-tied. Not even Tyrion has done this.
Now that House Tyrell is on the verge of complete annihilation and has joined with the forces of Daenerys Targaryen, the partnership between Varys and Olenna might finally overthrow House Lannister’s reign in the Seven Kingdoms.
16. Stannis and Davos
Stannis Baratheon would be the first to admit he was a difficult man to love or be loved by. However, despite the constant fighting and arguing between the two, his relationship with Ser Davos Seaworth was one of mutual trust, respect, and genuine admiration.
Stannis raised Davos up from nothing, after Davos smuggled food to Stannis while he was under siege at Storm’s End. Even though Stannis also took half of his fingers for his past crimes, Davos never forgot who made the poor smuggler from Flea Bottom into a high lord.
Not many other characters dared to speak the truth to Stannis as bluntly as Davos, which is one of the main reasons he earned Stannis’ trust. Also, when Davos thought Stannis was making a terrible decision, he would willingly sacrifice his own life to stop his king from making the mistake. If any other man had stood up to Stannis in such a way he would have been executed, but instead the Onion Knight was always set free and returned to his position beside the king.
They disagreed and argued, but the two were friends who trusted one another like brothers. Sadly, if Stannis had listened to his friend about Melisandre, both he and his daughter Shireen might still be alive.
15. Arya and Gendry
An orphan from Winterfell and an orphan from Flea Bottom, Arya Stark and Gendry’s friendship first began when they were both headed to join the Night’s Watch. Each carried a fatal secret about who they really were, and that shared burden, along with a sense of loneliness, brought them closer together.
From there the two— along with Hot Pie— survived capture by the Lannister forces and the subsequent horrors at Harrenhal. They then managed to escape together before being picked up by the Brotherhood Without Banners.
It was a heartbreaking moment when Gendry told Arya he wouldn’t be going on with her and, instead, would be staying with the Brotherhood because he had no family, even though Arya had told him she could be his family (and it was clear she meant it). Of course, Melisandre took Gendry away, and the two never got a proper goodbye. Hopefully his long rowboat ride will eventually bring the two friends together once more.
14. Brienne and Podrick
Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne did not start out on good terms, with Podrick being thrust upon a reluctant and frustrated Brienne by Jaime. She didn’t want a squire, thinking Podrick would slow her down, but he needed to flee King’s Landing because of his past relationship with Tyrion.
Despite some early mistakes executing the duties of his role (like calling her “Ser“), as well as disagreements on how to find the Stark girls and Brienne being rude to him, the two overcame the initial distance between them and learned to trust one another. Despite their differences, they became a team.
Brienne and Podrick are two of the only truly good characters in the series in a world that has so few, so seeing them learn to care for one another is a source of real warmth, especially since winter is coming.
13. Jon and Tormund
If the Battle of Castle Black had gone in the wildling’s favor, Tormund Giantsbane might have killed Jon Snow. Instead, the Night’s Watch won, Jon Snow was named Lord Commander, and the friendship between the two didn’t just continue; it blossomed into a major alliance.
Seeing the gregarious Tormund and the young, shy Jon interact was always enjoyable– especially when Jon was a spy in the wildling army– but the duo’s strength really grew after Mance was killed and Jon asked Tormund to help him stop the war between the Night’s Watch and the wildlings.
He did, and from there Tormund helped protect Jon after he was resurrected, fought alongside him against the Bolton forces, and now stands ready to go to war with the King in the North. Tormund is as funny as he is brave, and he and the loyal, honorable Jon Snow make for a great duo.
12. Arya and Jaqen
From the time Arya saved Jaqen during the Lannister attack on the caravan of Night’s Watch recruits, the two have had a special and mystical bond. He gave her three names for the Many-Faced God, and helped her escape Harrenhal. He then said goodbye with a special parting gift– an invaluable coin.
When she had nowhere else to turn, she used that coin to go to Braavos. There, Jaquen took her in and trained her in the ways of the Faceless Men. He continued her lessons despite signs that she was not ready to be “no one.” Jaqen gave her plenty of chances, but she eventually betrayed the order.
However, when Arya killed the Waif, and declared herself a daughter of House Stark who was going home, Jaqen didn’t try to stop her. He let her go from the service of his lord with a smile. The two had a long, complicated, and weird relationship, but it was always fascinating to watch.
11. Tyrion and Podrick
“Pod, there has never lived a more loyal squire.”
Tyrion Lannister always trusted Podrick, even during a time when he trusted no one else. He was rewarded for that trust when Podrick saved Tyrion during the Battle of Blackwater– Pod put a spear through Ser Mandon Moon before he could assassinate Tyrion. Despite the threat to Tyrion’s life, he then protected his lord while he recovered from his wounds.
As a reward, Tyrion gave Podrick a free afternoon with some prostitutes, resulting in one of the greatest, most hilarious mysteries in the show’s history. (Whatever Podrick did that day, kudos to him).
There was genuine mutual admiration between the two, which only ended when Tyrion ordered a reluctant Pod to leave King’s Landing before his trial. He feared Pod might be killed because of Pod’s connection to him. Their time together was warm and always entertaining. Their goodbye was sad and sweet; the kind of farewell that can only be earned when two people have a real friendship full of love.
10. Jaime and Bronn
Of all the high lords and ladies of Westeros, no one takes their position in life less seriously than Jaime Lannister. This is a main reason why his relationship with Bronn is so entertaining, since no one treats the Kingslayer with less respect than he does. The two have engaged in some of the most honest, funniest conversations and scenes together.
Their relationship started out in King’s Landing, with Bronn trying to teach Jaime how to fight with his left hand. Bronn would never hesitate to put Jamie in his place, by either beating him up or talking to him bluntly. Later they attempted an ill-advised trip to Dorne to rescue Princess Myrcella, which was a fun excuse to see them together again. Their subsequent trip to Riverrun gave them more time to interact, with a much more logical reason to be together.
They are two of the most entertaining, funniest characters on the show, and have consistently made for great scenes. Hopefully they will have a chance to spend more time together again before the series comes to an end.
9. Bran and Hodor
The connection between Bran Stark and Hodor might have ended with one of the most shocking and sad revelations in the entire history of television, but before this, viewers were always happy to see the giant, simple-minded Hodor smiling down at his little lord. The two complimented each other in strange ways few other duos on the show ever have.
While Bran’s ability to warg into Hodor might have been an unnatural violation of his friend and protector, it also led to some major moments, resulting in the duo surviving otherwise deadly situations. Hodor needed Bran’s powers at those times as much as Bran needed Hodor’s body.
While the bond between them turned out to be hauntingly one-sided, due to some unexplained time traveling mystery, Hodor died protecting Bran, in one of the bravest acts in the show’s history. That’s a special friendship.
8. Jon and Ygritte
Jon and Ygritte’s was a real love story on a show with so few– one that began when Jon couldn’t bring himself to execute Ygritte. From there she helped protect Jon from Mance Rayder and the other wildlings, making it possible for him to be accepted into their ranks, instead of being immediately executed.
Their scene in the cave, when she said she never wanted to leave, is one of the show’s most beautiful and touching moments. Yet sadly, the two could never truly be together because of Jon’s commitment to his sacred vows. Despite this betrayal, even as she pumped his body full of arrows, Ygritte couldn’t bring herself to kill the man she loved.
The shared look of love they had amid the carnage during the Battle of Castle Black proved that, despite his actions, they still cared for one another. It was only fitting that he held her in his arms as she died.
7. Daenerys and Jorah
Daenerys and Jorah, whose time together began in the very first episode, are the only pair whose relationship grew stronger after a betrayal. Jorah might have been banished by Daenerys multiple times for not disclosing that he was initially spying on her, but his refusal to leave her led to him saving her life twice. First when the Sons of the Harpy attacked her in the arena, and then again when she was taken by Khal Moro.
While Jorah will forever remain in the “friend zone,” his love for Daenerys is unwavering, and her love for him was strong enough that it managed to overcome something she thought was unforgivable.
Their farewell, when she instructed him to find a cure for his greyscale and return to her, was beautiful and heartbreaking. It was the kind of moment that can only be earned by two people who have been through a lot together, and survived all of it through love.
6. Arya and The Hound
Arguably the deadliest duo on the list, Arya and The Hound were an unlikely set of characters. This was because The Hound had killed Arya’s friend Mycah, the butcher’s boy, back in season one, which led to Arya including The Hound to her kill list.
However, during their travels together the two developed an unexpected– though reluctant– bond. The Hound protected her, and even shared the horrible story of what his brother had done to him as a child. He tried to teach her the harsh realities of life, and she tried to make him less cynical.
The two also killed a lot of people along the way, in some of the most violent and bloody sequences from the show. Combined with them both being two of the funniest, most interesting characters, every scene between them was a delight. Even their separation showed Arya cared for him, when she refused to mercy kill him. It turned out to be far more about her fondness for him than her desire to see him suffer.
5. Jon and Sam
Ironically, much of Jon and Sam’s time together has actually been spent apart. They were separated north of the wall during the Great Ranging, and didn’t reunite for a long time after. Then Jon sent Sam away to the Citadel to become a Maester.
However, even with those long gaps these two have been together a lot, looking after and supporting one other. It started from the first time Jon protected Sam in a training session at Castle Black, and led to Sam helping to get Jon elected Lord Commander. They are true friends who trust and rely on one another, especially during the most difficult and dangerous times.
It’s hard to imagine Sam having survived training, let alone being a member of the Night’s Watch, without Jon’s guidance. In turn, Jon has always had someone to watch his back and look after his best interest. It’s no surprise that the Brothers of the Night’s Watch turned on John after Sam was out of the picture and on his away to Oldtown.
4. Davos and Shireen
The Princess Shireen Baratheon and the Onion Knight Ser Davos have a unique friendship. Far more protective of and warmer toward Shireen than either of her real parents (that’s an understatement), Davos loved and cared for her as though she was his own daughter. His concern and worry for her safety during dangerous times was always weighing on him, no matter his other duties.
In turn, she visited her friend in the dungeons of Dragonstone and taught him how to read, with patience and understanding, even though he had always been reluctant to try. Their’s was a pure friendship, and seeing the two together was always a spot of warmth in a world that was so often defined by pain and darkness.
Davos’ last gift to her, a wooden stag he carved for her himself, was how he learned about her fate. While he might blame himself for not having been able to protect her, viewers know that he had always done everything he could for her.
3. Tyrion and Bronn
A partnership that originally started when an opportunistic fighter saw a desperate Lannister in trouble turned into one of the most entertaining friendships of the entire series.
Few characters are as funny or wise as Tyrion, but Bronn is one of the characters who was always up to the verbal challenge of matching wits with him. What Tyrion lacks in physical strength, Bronn more than makes up for. This is why the two of them are such a fearsome team, and also one of the best duos to see together.
Even when Bronn had to turn down Tyrion’s request to be his champion during his Trial by Combat, he did so with sadness. Despite his disappointment, Tyrion didn’t think less of his friend. He understood that what he was asking for was too much, even of Bronn.
2. Brienne and Jaime
No two people experienced more growth in their relationship than Jaime and Brienne. It started with her transporting him to King’s Landing as her prisoner. She despised him and he mercilessly mocked her. They loathed one another, until the night he saved her from being raped by Locke and his men; an act that cost him his hand.
Grateful and surprised by his actions, she looked after him until they were freed. This was when Jaime shared the real story of why he killed the Mad King, a story that forever changed how she viewed him. It helped form an unlikely respect between the two, because he did possess honor, which was her own greatest trait.
By the time they said goodbye– when Jaime gave her a new suit of armor and his Valyrian steel sword– the two had an extremely strong bond. Their relationship was based on earned love and trust, as they both came to know the other one in ways few others ever had.
1. Tyrion and Varys
No two characters have had as many great scenes together as Varys and Tyrion– two of the smartest characters on the show. The two manage to bring the best out in one another, resulting in moments that are often hilarious and spellbinding, and which are always entertaining.
Things didn’t start off this way in season two, when Tyrion thought Varys was threatening Shae. However, they quickly formed an unexpected friendship based on trust and respect, in a place– King’s Landing– short on both.
Varys was the only one who appreciated that Tyrion had saved the city from Stannis, and then decided to help him escape after he was found guilty for murdering Joffrey. He even accompanied him on his journey across the Narrow Sea to Pentos, and then onward to Meereen. Varys gave Tyrion a purpose, and trusted him to help bring peace to a war-torn Westeros.
The best might be yet to come for the two, as they now sail together with the Mother of Dragons, to return to the Seven Kingdoms as a pair of conquerors, desperate to save their home.
Who is your favorite duo on Game of Thrones? Let us know in the comment section!