Game Of Thrones returns in just over a month, bringing with it devious plots, complicated relationships, frequent deaths… and some of TV’s most nefarious villains. Unlike many shows, there are no clear heroes in Game of Thrones. Even fan favorites are often murderers (just look at Tyrion Lannister), and most characters live firmly in the moral grey area.
Some, however, are villains through and through. From sadistic brats who delight in torture to schemers who get lesser men to do the killing for them, there are plenty of people in Westeros who you would definitely not want to cross. It’s no wonder that the show has such a high body count with these stone-cold killers about!
The Rules: With one exception, characters must be alive (or rumored to be alive). The list is ranked in order of current threat, not by the severity of their crimes.
Without further ado, here are the 13 Most Dangerous Villains in Game of Thrones.
13 Joffrey Baratheon
The first and only dead character on our list, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) makes it on simply because of how terrifying he once was. The boy king was utterly spoiled by his mother and grew up to believe that he could do whatever he wanted – including murdering people for so much as looking at him sideways. We watched in horror as he tortured fiancée Sansa (Sophie Turner) for seasons on end, using her father’s severed head to taunt her.
His penchant for violence was worst for the prostitutes sent to him – he enjoyed watching them injure each other before he got involved, tying them up and shooting them with a crossbow. Even in death, he’s causing problems, as his mother has become even more vicious and unpredictable in her desire for revenge.
12 Walder Frey
Lord of the Crossing and head of House Frey, Walder (David Bradley) is a cantankerous old man, set in his ways and determined to defend his dubious honor. When Robb Stark (Richard Madden) reneged on a wedding contract with one of Walder’s daughters, he threw his lands into uproar by slaughtering Robb, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), and their men at the Red Wedding in one of the greatest betrayals we've ever seen.
Since then, House Tully has been up in arms against House Frey, and the Riverlands have become a dangerous and lawless place thanks to his actions. Walder may not seem dangerous, as he wasn't as involved in the War of Five Kings as many others, but he has demonstrated that if he feels insulted, he will destroy the lives of everyone around him out of sheer spite — even if it costs him a wife.
11 Alliser Thorne
Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), First Ranger of the Night’s Watch, is a well-trained fighter and former Targaryen loyalist. He therefore hates the Starks and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), the latter of whom holds power and influence with the rest of Castle Black. At first, he showed his hatred of Jon in more subtle ways, but after losing the Lord Commander election to him, Thorne's bitter nature led to a mutiny and Jon Snow’s murder.
Suspicious in general, he also has a particular hatred for the Wildlings, and with Jon out of the way (for now), the Wildlings may have to fight the Black Brothers to remain south of the Wall. If Alliser becomes Lord Commander, which he presumably will, his short-sightedness may also make him dangerous to the rest of Westeros. If he cannot accept the Wildlings' help against the White Walkers, the Night’s Watch will almost certainly fall, potentially dooming the rest of the nation.
10 The Sons of the Harpy
While many love Daenerys (Emilia Clark), her rule in Meereen is not uncontested. The Sons of the Harpy are a group of masked insurgents, presumed to be connected to the families who ruled Meereen in the past. Furious at her abolition of slavery, the Sons of the Harpy roam the streets of Meereen, fighting her forces and killing her men wherever they can.
They also staged the assassination attempt on Daenerys which led to her fleeing the fighting pits on Drogon. The Sons of the Harpy are well-organized, trained, and violent, and are a danger to every citizen of Meereen who isn’t one of them. Right now, we don’t know who is at the top of the organization, but he’ll be the most dangerous of all, especially while Daenerys isn’t in the city.
9 Lord Varys
Varys (Conleth Hill) and his “little birds” seem to know everything that happens in King’s Landing (and the wider world), and Varys takes pride in his secrets and connections. It is these same connections that make him so dangerous – his plots stretch clear across the Narrow Sea, all the way to Daenerys in Meereen, and while he claims to serve the realm above any individual family, he is willing to kill to see the realm saved.
Now out of his position of power in King’s Landing, he will likely be involved in the rule of Meereen, which could end very badly for a great many people. Varys may speak softly and appear unthreatening, but he is steel under his silk robes, and he will not allow anyone to get in his way.
8 Jaqen H'ghar
This Faceless Man is one of the most talented killers in Game of Thrones, and unlike other men, part of his power is to be able to kill while remaining completely under the radar — startlingly few people even know he (and the god he represents) exists. We learned just how capable he was when Arya (Maisie Williams) called in his debts to her, and he was able to slaughter his targets with ease and complete detachment.
H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) is loyal to no one but the Many-Faced God, and because of this, no one is truly safe from him. He presents a further danger to Arya Stark, who's in training at the House of Black and White. While she claims to be one of them, we know that she still remains Arya at heart, and H’ghar has already blinded her for her latest act of murder. He could well be training her, but he could also prove to be a threat to her if she is unable to truly leave her life as Arya behind.
7 The Hound and The Mountain
The Clegane brothers are both dangerous in the most obvious sense – they are physical powerhouses, trained and merciless killers. Gregor Clegane (Hafthor Julius Bjornsson), the Mountain, is the enormous knight who raped Elia Martell and murdered her children, who rapes and pillages during the War of Five Kings, and who served as Cersei’s champion in Tyrion's trial, killing fan-favorite Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) by crushing his skull with his bare hands. Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), the Hound, seems to have some soft spots, but it still a vicious killer, and out only for himself.
Although both appeared to meet their demise back in season four, there are rumors that both will return to the fold in the upcoming season. The Mountain appears to have been reanimated as a Frankenstein-ish monster, as he was seen carrying Cersei into the Red Keep in last year's finale, which would mean that Cersei has a deadly new tool for revenge. The Hound, meanwhile, was left for dead by Arya, but rumors persist that he survived his injuries. If not, he is a particular danger to Arya, but will also be out for revenge on anyone who has hurt him in the past now that he is not loyal to any one family.
6 Petyr Baelish (aka Littlefinger)
Baelish (Aidan Gillen) is the kind of man who knows a little too much about too many people, and uses his information in a calculated fashion. Playing both sides against the middle, he remains largely above suspicion, using everyone around him for his own ends. He has betrayed many people (namely Eddard Stark and Joffrey), and seems to care only for himself — and to some extent Sansa, as she reminds him of her mother, the only person he ever truly cared about.
He is smart, obsessive, and careful with the games he plays. While he gets others to do the majority of his dirty work, Baelish has shown himself to be more than capable of killing with his own two hands as well, having seduced Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie) before throwing her out the Moon Door. Hungry for power, Baelish is dangerous to himself as well as others – he could be in serious trouble if he is exposed as a liar and a traitor.
5 Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes
A relative newcomer to Game of Thrones, Ellaria (Indira Varma) is hell-bent on revenge for her lover’s death, and is sure to cause all kinds of trouble for Dorne in the coming seasons. After Oberyn Martell was killed in King’s Landing, Ellaria has been up in arms against his brother Doran (Alexander Siddig), trying to convince him to go to war with the Lannisters. Despite his refusal, she and the Sand Snakes (Oberyn’s bastard daughters) made some major moves in season five, murdering poor Myrcella Lannister (Nell Tiger Free) out of revenge.
Cunning, angry, and with a trio of lethal Sand Snakes ready to kill anyone at any time, these are women to watch out for. They very well may have lit the fuse of war already.
The Red Priestess (Carice van Houten) is a dangerous religious fanatic, and her powers of persuasion and seduction make her especially frightening. Unlike other fanatics, she is able to worm her way into power and act on her beliefs. With Stannis’ (Stephen Dillane) support, she has birthed a shadow-demon that murdered Renly (Gethin Anthony), sacrificed men to the Lord of Light, bled and attempted to murder Gendry (Joe Dempsie), and (possibly most disturbing of all), convinced Stannis to burn his own daughter alive.
Although Stannis is now dead, Melisandre is at the wall, and still has her magic and her powers of persuasion available to murder again in the name of her God. Fingers crossed she manages to revive Jon Snow first, though.
3 Cersei Lannister
It seemed as though Cersei (Lena Headey) had been defeated at last when she was imprisoned by the High Sparrow for treason, incest and regicide last year. However, there is little that can stop the Queen Regent in her scheming for power, and after a humiliating walk of atonement, she is back in the Red Keep for the upcoming season.
Cersei is particularly dangerous because of the power she wields — as the Queen Regent to her sons, she has attempted to rule the kingdom, but her bitterness and personal ambition have set her against many, even her own family. Her love for her children and her brother is powerful, but her losses seem to be driving her slowly and steadily towards madness, as she will take anyone down who she sees as a threat to her remaining son, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman). Without her position of strength, she wouldn't be so dangerous of course, but having effectively murdering her way onto the throne, she is unlikely to be ousted easily.
2 Ramsay Bolton
The bastard of House Bolton, played by the highly underrated Iwan Rheon, has amazed audiences (and poor Sansa) by out-evilling Joffrey in recent years. We first met Ramsey when Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) was given over to his tender mercies. Bolton didn’t just torture him physically (although we all know that not every part of him survived intact), but destroyed his mind almost entirely.
Then he got his hands on Sansa. After escaping an engagement to Joffrey and a marriage to a Lannister, Sansa might have thought that she was safe at last back home in Winterfell. Instead, Ramsey brutally raped her while forcing Theon to watch, before locking her in her rooms. We also found out that Ramsey enjoys hunting humans with his evil mistress and his vicious dogs. Insane and skilled at destroying those whom he hates, he seems to enjoy hurting people more than anything else, and his thirst for power and recognition make him the most dangerous man alive in our eyes.
1 The White Walkers and the Night’s King
Since the first season, we have been warned that “Winter is Coming” – teasing, of course, the arrival of the White Walkers from North of the Wall. All of Westeros (and perhaps even those across the Narrow Sea) is at risk, as these humanoid ice-demons have the power to reanimate the dead as zombified "wights."
Certain Walkers seem to be of a higher caste than others. Led by the Night’s King (Richard Brake), they can even turn living infant humans into Walkers. While we still do not know much about the Walkers (although the Night’s Watch might soon get an education in the matter), they are the single biggest threat to Westeros. While others are dangerous to those who cross them, to their enemies, or to the individuals that they are sent to kill, the White Walkers are dangerous to the lives of every living being. The night is dark and full of terrors, indeed.
Will season 6 go down as the arrival of winter? Did we leave out any of your favorite villains? Let us know in the comments below.