As we once again hop on the back of our dragons and take flight into Game of Thrones season 7, it is time to look back on the past seven seasons of murder, mayhem, and madness and take stock of what we have seen.
With George R.R. Martin’s acclaimed A Song of Ice and Fire book series expanding far beyond the 10 hours each year we see on our screens, there are storylines, characters, and even locations scrapped before showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss even consider them for the show. This has lead to important characters like Arianne Martell, Victarion Greyjoy, and Aegon Targaryen being entirely axed without even a second glance.
The show does the best that it can by cobbling together the entire world of Westeros into just eight seasons, but we can’t help but feel that even some of those who have made it to the show have been left by the wayside. Whether they've been exiled to some foreign land, slipped into the background for a rainy day, or just killed off far too early, it can be tough in the Seven Kingdoms if you aren’t playing Daenerys Targaryen or Jon Snow.
With this in mind, let’s look at the 15 Game Of Thrones Characters With The Most Wasted Potential. Warning, it could get bloody on this battlefield!
15 Daario Naharis
Love triangles never work on any show, and Game of Thrones was no different when Daario Naharis declared his love for Queen Daenerys as Jorah was sidelined. Daario was surplus to requirement, and his departure during season 6 was barely noticeable.
The character from Martin’s books was a flamboyant sellsword who was known for his outlandish dress sense, gold mustache, and bizarre blue hair. In one of the biggest changes between the book and the show, the Daario we got on screen was nothing of the sort. About the only thing about the character that stayed the same was his adoration of Daenerys and their part-time lovemaking.
Admittedly, the bizarre and unnecessary recasting of the role for season 4 wouldn’t have helped, but Daario was was still nothing special. The books currently have him as a slave of the Yunkai'i, so at least being left behind in Meereen is better than that fate. Who knows, though? As one of the few characters to leave with their head still intact, Michiel Huisman could still return to the role in the final two seasons.
14 Ser Ilyn Payne
Quite literally the Grim Reaper of Westeros, you would surely expect a lot more from Ser Ilyn Payne - the man who claimed Ned Stark’s head. Joffrey Baratheon may have been the man to give the order, but as the King’s royal executioner, Payne was the one who swung the blade.
Ilyn wasn't much of a talker after having his tongue removed by the Mad King prior to the show, but he had a lot more to do in the books. While Jerome Flynn’s Bronn has neatly filled this role on HBO, it was Ilyn who taught Jaime Lannister how to fight with one arm and was also the one who accompanied the Kingslayer to Riverrun.
Appearing only in season 1 and 2, the character was phased out due to actor Wilko Johnson’s battle with cancer. This means that Payne hasn’t been seen since, and will likely never be seen again. While this may not seem like a big deal for such a minor character, his place on Arya Stark’s infamous kill list raises some problems. We are either left with a dangling plot thread, or the equally frustrating decision to kill the character off-screen - not exactly “Justice For Ned.”
13 The Blackfish
As one of the few survivors of the Red Wedding massacre, you would’ve hoped that Game of Thrones had some big plans for the Blackfish. However, after some 2.5 seasons of being absent from our screens, Clive Russell’s return to the role was less than spectacular. Reuniting the remnants of the Tully House, Brynden took back Riverrun and set up shop. The resulting story arc involved some hostile standoffs with the Lannister forces and Brynden showing his iron will in refusing to budge.
When his nephew gave up Riverrun to the enemy, Brynden finally lost all that he had left to live for. In A Feast for Crows, Brynden found himself in a similar predicament but swam to safety and became an outlaw on the run. On the show, it is assumed that he died helping Brienne of Tarth escape and with a lackluster off-screen death, this character really deserved better.
12 Kevan Lannister
Being Hand of the King ranks up there with herding wights as one of the most dangerous jobs in Westeros. From Jon Arryn to Ned Stark, Tywin Lannister to his brother Kevan, they have all met their maker while wearing that ornate brooch. However, where Ser Kevan of the books was a fearsome war commander, Ian Gelder’s portrayal faded into the background of the lesser-known Lannisters.
Given that the Lannister family are such a force of nature, the peace-loving Kevan failed to live up to their lion namesake. By excluding Cersei from the small council, Kevan’s dynamic with the rest of the members was comedy gold as their very own Mean Girls, but it also sealed his fate. We barely got to know Kevan before he was lost in the great casting cull of season 6 - killed in Cersei’s attack on the Sept of Baelor.
Kevan thankfully met a more spectacular death in A Dance With Dragons; slain by Varys in a similar way to Maester Pycelle in the season 6 finale. After Varys shot Kevan with a crossbow, the Spider then commanded his “little birds” to finish Kevan off.
11 Loras Tyrell
Before Finn Jones was punching his Iron Fist into the MCU, he was tossing his flowing locks as Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones. Loras’ relationship with Renly Baratheon was one of the best pairings in the show’s first two seasons - but it wasn't to last.
Without Renly, it seemed that the show didn’t really know what to do with Loras. This was emphasized when he spent the majority of season 6 languishing in a cell as a shadow of his former self. While Cersei and Margaery still got plenty of screen time during their stint behind bars, Loras was literally left to rot. He did manage to renounce his title and become Brother Loras of the Sparrows, just in time for Cersei to blow him up.
Unlike the show, the Loras from Martin’s books outshines his Lord of Flowers moniker to become a skilled fighter who Jaime touts to joins the Kingsguard. Cersei forced Loras to lead an assault on Dragonstone, where he was gravely injured by maces and boiling oil. Returning for A Feast for Crows, we last hear he is dying of his wounds.
10 Doran Martell
It is a known fact that Game of Thrones dropped the ball in season 5 with its lackluster trip over the sea to Dorne. The simple solution to this? Kill off most of the characters we met there. In rolled the doomed Doran Martell in his wheelchair, ripe for fan hatred, and only making it to the season 6 premiere.
The novels managed to craft a pretty epic saga in Dorne, but when shrunk down for the show, Doran was one of the biggest casualties. Aiming for justice after the murder of Elia Martell during the Targaryen fall, the show swapped out the vengeful and interesting Doran for Alexander Siddig’s likable ruler.
The hapless leader fell victim to the venomous Ellaria Sand, who plunged a dagger into her brother-in-law’s chest before rising to the Dorne Throne. The Dornish royals in the books are still a major threat to the Iron Throne, but by the looks of a chained Ellaria in the season 7 trailer, the entire lineage looks set to fall.
9 Jaqen H'gar
Seeming to pop up whenever he likes, the creepy Jaqen H’ghar is one of the most mysterious characters from the world of Westeros. While we all like a bit of suspense, you tend to find yourself wishing that H'ghar did a little more than just blind Arya Stark and teach her a few lessons.
First introduced during Arya’s grim days on the way to Harrenhal, Tom Wlaschiha's Jaqen failed to live up to his scary reputation from the books. That being said, the character from the show has actually had much more to do. However, we still feel like there is a lot of potential lurking behind his many faces.
The Faceless Men of Braavos was another mixed-bag storyline for the show, while some loved Arya’s storyline and others hated it. We still saw relatively little of Jaqen, and far too much of that wicked Waif. With Arya’s time at the House of Black and White over, and her path surely set for Winterfell, our chances of returning to the dangerous assassin are slim-to-nil. That being said, we have seen him return at the weirdest of opportunities before.
Row, row, row your boat, a Gendry’s life for me. Few characters in Game of Thrones have been as underused as Gendry, a.k.a. the boy from Flea Bottom. With Joffrey finishing off most of King Robert’s children, Gendry found himself in even worse trouble at the hands of a magical Melisandre. After the Red Woman demanded Gendry's head to shore Stannis’ claim to the throne, Ser Davos Seaworth sent Gendry sailing to safety in season 3 - quite literally to never be heard of since.
You can’t knock Benioff and Weiss for promising to bring Gendry back, but after waiting four seasons, there is a worry that some viewers won’t even remember Joe Dempsie’s part ahead of season 7. The books have a similarly long gap for our illegitimate princeling, who was last seen joining the Brotherhood Without Banners and then appeared as a blacksmith in the fifth book.
With the Baratheon name all but extinct, it could be left to Gendry to carry his heritage to the Iron Throne. It is expected that season 7 could follow the novel and have Gendry meet with Brienne of Tarth, but here’s hoping that Thrones doesn’t do another Blackfish and kill Gendry after a blink-and-you’ll miss it return.
7 Brienne of Tarth
Talking of Brienne the Beauty, the woman from Tarth falls into the Boba Fett category of being a fan-favorite without really doing a lot. After a glorious story arc of redemption for Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth has sadly been relegated to the sidelines since the lackluster episode “Oathkeeper.”
As one of the best warriors in Westeros, Brienne hasn’t exactly done a lot of late. Apart from an epic battle with other fan-favorite the Hound, Brienne managed to lose both the Stark girls and resorted to holding up in an inn and lighting a candle. Treading the many roads of Westeros, Brienne’s pairing with Podrick isn’t a patch on her Lannister loving.
Even meeting Jaime Lannister again for the siege of Riverrun, Brienne barely touched her sword and then went full Gendry by rowing off into an unknown fate. With fewer and fewer people left alive in Westeros, surely Brienne will get her time to shine properly in the final 13 episodes? After all, we need Brienne vs. The Hound Round 2.
6 6. Rickon Stark
Having the surname Stark is a dangerous addition for anyone to have, but at least the likes of Catelyn, Robb, and Ned are remembered before their deaths. Enter Rickon Stark, the youngest of the family and quite frankly the worst. Without the ability to warg, any natural fighting skills, or even political prowess, it seems that Rickon was only there to make up the Stark numbers.
After being assumed dead (by most) following Theon Greyjoy’s takeover of Winterfell, Rickon may as well have been deceased. But he's very much alive in the books, where it looks like Ser Davos will be heading to Skagos to rescue the boy in The Winds of Winter. However, Art Parkinson’s live-action portrayal saw Rickon follow behind his brother Bran for five seasons and then quickly head six feet under.
Rickon was presented by a conniving Smalljon Umber to Ramsay Bolton, who attempted to use Rickon as an unsuccessful bargaining chip against Jon Snow. Given one of the most underwhelming main character deaths in the show’s entire run, all the littlest Stark had to do was zig zag to save himself from a hail of Ramsay Bolton’s arrows.
5 Mance Rayder
As the weathered "King-Beyond-the-Wall", Mance Rayder was the show’s perfect balance of villain and antihero. Introduced back in season 3, he became an unwilling ally to Jon Snow and drove the plot surrounding the Wall forward.
After being defeated by Stannis, Mance became a prisoner of the false king and his days were numbered. While Mance survives his time at Castle Black in the books, the show seemed to have reached his natural end. The problem with Mance’s novel story after that is that it involved a lot of magic and characters that didn’t even exist or we didn’t care about. On the show, Mance would effectively have been hauled up outside Winterfell for the foreseeable future and detracted from Sansa’s brilliant time there.
Ciarán Hinds was superb as Mance, and would’ve undoubtedly continued to be, but with him now playing a major part in Justice League, we will have to give up on the hopes of romancing Mance once more.
4 Euron Greyjoy
3 Myrcella Baratheon
A bit like the Rickon Stark of the Lannister brood, Myrcella always felt like one Lannister too many. While her brothers got to sit on the Iron Throne, Myrcella always destined to simply fulfil Maggy the Frog’s prophecy of dying before Cersei. HBO shipped the character off to Dorne for three seasons, recast her, and then gave her the blame for that entire Dornish disaster.
While we assume Myrcella will get a similar fate in the books, she is very much alive in Dorne and has had a far more interesting time than Nell Tiger Free did playing her in seasons 5 and 6. In A Feast for Crows, Myrcella found herself betrayed and attacked by a Dornish mutiny. Although she survived the attack, it left Myrcella without an ear and sporting a gnarly Tyrion-esque facial scar.
On the show, Myrcella seemed to drink wine and frolic in the water gardens before getting the kiss of death from Ellaria Sand. Admittedly, her death did have the shock value of no one expecting it, but again, who gave a flying dragon that she kicked the bucket?
2 Stannis Baratheon
From deluded contender to the Iron Throne to fallen soldier outside the woods of Winterfell, few characters had as big a downward spiral as Stannis Baratheon. The stoic patriarch of the Dragonstone haunt, Stannis was the guy you kind of loved to hate. Before we went OTT with the likes of Walder and Ramsay, Stannis was the early villain who you should never underestimate (well, until season 5).
Given his part in the deaths of Renly, Robb, Balon, and Joffrey, for a little while we actually thought that Stannis might make it to that pointy chair. Who could ever forget that iconic image of his army riding to defeat the Wildlings by the wall? However, victory was short-lived, and Stannis’ time at Castle Black put a timer on his days.
Considering Stannis was a known military commander, his foolhardy assault on Winterfell cost him his life. Sure, Brienne got to avenge the death of Renly, but you would’ve expected Stannis to stick around a little longer. Annoyingly, by the show already killing him off, it must mean that Martin is planning on doing the same in the books - way to spoil it all, HBO!
1 Catelyn Stark
So, here we have it, the most wasted character on Game of Thrones is revealed. The award has to go to the mother of all mothers, Catelyn Stark. You may remember that Catelyn had her throat slit back in season 3 and we learned that her body had chucked in the river at the Twins. It certainly seems like a pretty definitive farewell for anyone.
While Michelle Fairley did an amazing job and belongs to that exclusive Red Wedding club, she tops the list because Cat’s story isn’t supposed to end there. Like ice dragons and R+L=J, Catelyn’s resurrection as Lady Stoneheart is a fan-favorite moment that everyone wants to see on our screens.
Becoming a badass undead assassin, Lady Stoneheart spends her days stringing up anyone with allegiance to the Lannisters or Freys. We don’t know whether the books will reunite Lady S. with her remaining Stark kids, but we aren’t sure if they would want to see their zombie momma again.
With Benioff and Weiss repeatedly reaffirming that Lady Stoneheart isn’t coming to their show, here lies one of the biggest character travesties in the whole history of TV.
Which character do you think Game of Thrones wasted the most? Sound off in the comments below!