As Game of Thrones rolls into its final season, the number of players fighting for the Iron Throne has dwindled. Now, they face a greater threat of the incoming White Walkers. That doesn't mean danger isn't looming around every corner, though. The show has had legions of villains and backstabbers across the various noble houses.
After all, who can forget the Red Wedding, where all dreams of noble Starks and Cinderella queens were massacred?
While many don't pose a threat anymore, the damage they did rippled across Westeros.
However, not all villains are made of the same mettle. Some simply complicated situations, hurt beloved characters, or caused awful cascading effects. Others? They put the whole of Westeros at risk with armies at their back. Moreover, some of them are still dangerous, powerful threats going into season 8.
Here are the 30 Most Powerful Villains In Game of Thrones, Ranked.
30 Lancel Lannister
When fans first met Lancel Lannister, Cersei used the boy for romantic distraction and other tasks while Jaime was away. With her, he became an errand boy running messages and keeping an eye on others. Then, when Jaime returned, she disposed of him.
Years later, after some time healing a wound with the Sparrows, Lancel came back as one of their religious lackeys. Though their machinations brainwashed him, he did decided to expose, betray, and break Cersei. He helped turn her own son against her and, though hardly a strong enemy, caused her transformation into a ruthless queen.
Locke was sent after Jaime and Brienne to apprehend them, but he did a lot more than just capture the pair. Under no orders, he took it upon himself to try to assault Brienne and chop off Jaime's hand. The torture he and his men put the two through remains unforgivable. While a great hunter, Locke took glee in being cruel. Despite having little power of his own, Locke took what malicious options he had. When Bran ended his life, it was well deserved.
28 Karl Tanner
Though Jon didn't always agree with Night-Commander Mormont, his loyalty remained. Meanwhile, Karl Tanner decided that mutiny was the only choice. Slaying Craster and his leader, he and other ex-criminals tried to take over the Night's Watch for themselves. Between this betrayal, some unwanted romantic advances, and sick perversions, he was an awful man.
However, other than his sparse mutineers, Karl Tanner commanded little power. When Jon struck him down for his villainy, it was easy. Tanner needed more men and better plans to become a stronger threat to the North.
27 Alliser Thorne
Jealousy turns decent men into something much worse. Despite being a loyal Night's Watch soldier for years, Alliser Thorne became a violent mutineer when Jon took the Lord Commander position from him. If it wasn't for Jon's resurrection, it's unlikely anyone would have charged him for his crimes. With other battle-ready warriors behind him and strong convictions, he was a dangerous enemy. However, hardly dangerous enough to survive the ramifications of his betrayal.
Even in his final moments, Thorne always believed he was right.
26 Randyll Tarly
Father of fan-favorite Sam Tarly, Randyll is a good house leader with terrible family morals. While he believes in loyalty and oaths with his allies, he doesn't give his eldest son the same courtesy. When Sam became of age, he threatened his life if he didn't pledge himself to the Night's Watch. He didn't want his "weak" son to lead his house. Between denouncing his son and his cruelty towards him, he's a villain of a father.
As a leader, though, he believes in his people. Dany's swift execution of him and his other son, Dickon, was unwarranted and ruthless.
25 Viserys Targaryen
Early on in the show, Viserys was one of the first true villains. Selfish, entitled, and cruel, he used his sister to make deals with other nations. He only saw Dany as a pawn instead of a person. When her Dothraki marriage brought strength out in her, his violence and controlling behavior only increased. While her marriage gave them hope for the throne, he saw himself as the true dragon with a golden crown. Her birthright or capabilities didn't matter.
Khal Drogo was right to give him the golden crown he truly deserved.
24 The Waif
Though Arya wanted to learn how to fight to defeat her enemies, the path to becoming an assassin was more perilous than even she expected. A rival under the Faceless Man, The Waif became jealous and violent whenever they battled. When she begins to use many faces herself, her attacks on Arya become all the more aggressive.
Eventually, Arya learns enough to overpower and outwit The Waif and returns her head to her master. With all the faces at her disposal, she couldn't beat a sightless girl.
To start, Craster was the worst of what's beyond the wall. He lived the life of a selfish and crude ruler. However, possibly the worst thing he did involved his children. The girls became his wives once they were of age, and he sacrificed the boys to White Walkers.
Despite his alliances with the Night's Watch, he's a horrible man who used Craster's Keep to gain allies and power. After all, his home was the only place beyond the wall for guardsmen to stay. Slaying him was the one good thing Karl Tanner did.
22 Mirri Maz Durr
When Dany married Khal Drogo, her personality was much more naive and trusting. However, when trusting Mirri Maz Duur led to her husband becoming a corpse, her heart hardened. There are few things a woman who lost everything won't do, it seems.
A blood witch, Mirri cursed the Khal and his unborn son as revenge. While she had every right to be angry, her vengeance turned Dany into a much more ruthless leader. And her first ruthless act? Throwing Mirri on her husband's funeral pyre to burn.
21 Balon Greyjoy
A proud man, Balon Greyjoy never made the smartest decisions when it came to his bid for the Iron Throne. After all, he never really wanted the crown itself, just to spread his dominion further along the coast of Westeros, to the "Old Way". No matter the cost, he spent his entire life chasing the "Old Way" dream, even though it lost him all of his sons and, eventually, his own life.
While Balon had ambitions beyond his means, he wasn't the worst Greyjoy to leave in power. When Euron took the house from him, a worse enemy came to Westeros.
20 Smalljon Umber
Even noble men can fall far for the sake of hatred. Smalljon Umber's racism towards the Wildlings led him to align himself with Ramsay Bolton, a cruel and malicious man. Though the Umbers don't like the Boltons much, he chose them over the honorable Starks just to back his own hatred.
When personal grudges take precedence over doing what's right, leaders become villains. In fitting fashion, Tormund struck this disloyal North-man down. Anyone who helped kidnap and slay Rickon Stark deserved punishment.
19 Mance Rayder
Over time, Mance Rayder turned from an intimidating enemy into a powerful ally. However, he started off a threat to the Night's Watch. The Wildlings preferred their isolation and hated the way outsiders treated them. As their leader, he wasn't too keen on Jon Snow's initial arrival. Slaying men from The Wall was easier than making peace with them.
When Jon proved his valor and bravery, though, Mance began to appreciate him more and more. Eventually, they became allies in the war against White Walkers. Losing Mance was a tragic event, for Wildlings and Jon alike.
18 Meereen Salve Masters
When Daenarys Targaryen freed the slaves of Meereen, the slave masters didn't take that well. Known for cruelty and generations of treating humans like dirt, their opinion on taking their people away was quite different. They saw the "liberation" of the slaves as a blemish on their city.
Between their determination to own humans and their ruthless blood-thirst in the process, the Meereen slave-masters were a dangerous group of people. If they weren't so cruel, greedy, and inconsiderate of human life, maybe they could have stayed in power. Instead, Dany struck them down.
17 Pyat Pree
While Pyat Pree was a member of Qarth's leadership, he became a unique villain because of his magical abilities. Many other leaders were just wealthy, selfish people. Pyat spent his time dedicated to the mystical arts in The House of Undying. Obsessed with Dany's dragons, he posed an even more insidious threat than the other masters.
After kidnapping her beloved dragons, trying to set up a coup against her, and causing endless turmoil and mischief, Dany sets the shadowy man aflame with dragonfire. That's what happens when greedy fools stand too close to legendary creatures.
16 The Mountain
Brother of The Hound, The Mountain is a large knight that fights for the Lannisters. He will fight and destroy anything, and anyone, in his path. Basically a mindless meat grinder, he lives for the thrill of the fight. In his time, he executed the likes of Elia Martell and her children, several nobles, and Oberyn Martell. The people he threatened or tortured are even more numerous. When The Mountain was resurrected, he only caused more chaos as a mindless monster. He now stays by Cersei's side, a domineering and evil weapon.
15 Roose Bolton
When Robb started his war with the Lannisters and chose Talisa over a Frey daughter, he caused a lot of unrest in the North. Ultimately, it turned both Walder Frey and his sworn ally, Roose Bolton, against the young king. Their betrayal sealed his bloody fate. While a proud general and leader, that same pride made him a sneaky ally.
However, those last shreds of pride were Roose's downfall. By putting any faith in his mad, illegitimate son, Ramsay, he put himself in danger. His attempts to control his sadistic child led to Ramsay stabbing him through the heart.
14 Jaime Lannister
Of all entries on this list, Jaime owns the purest heart. While his devotion to Cersei leads him to dark places, on his own he is a gallant knight who believes in caring for his people. However, Jaime also helped destroy many lives and even assaulted his own sister, so it's uncertain how much of that knightly behavior is a front for the darkness within. Commander of the Lannister forces, Jaime keeps an entire army at his beck and call. With him, the villains of Game of Thrones get more and more dangerous. Though his villainy seems fully redeemed at this point.
13 Stannis Baratheon
Once upon a time, Stannis Baratheon was a good man with a good heart. With time, and copious influence from Melisandre, he turned into a power-mad conqueror. His entire battle plan circulated around unsavory dealings with the Lord of Light, sacrificing whatever possible to ensure his victory. Even if that includes his younger brother and his own daughter.
Stannis' machinations in the Lord of Light's name caused a lot of pain and anguish throughout Westeros. When Brienne of Tarth finally got her revenge for Renly, he accepted that he deserved this fate after all he'd done.
12 Ellaria Sand
In all the time Game of Thrones has shown the Martells and other Dorne residents, their people are passionate and strong-willed. Unfortunately, those traits can go horribly wrong. After the brutal end of her lover, Oberyn, Ellaria Sand turned towards a path of vengeance. Blaming the Lannisters for losing him, she cut her hair and enlisted her daughter in turning against them.
Using tainted lipstick, she started by poisoning Myrcella Baratheon, Cersei's only daughter. Then she fatally wounded both Doran and Trystane Martell to take control of Dorne. The Lannisters ensured that takeover didn't last long, though.
11 Walder Frey
A seedy and bloated lord, Walder Frey lived off the utilitarian assets of his hold to gouge himself on young wives that he didn't care about. He joined Robb's bid for the throne under the assumption Robb would marry one of his daughters. When Robb backed out of that, Walder turned on the young king and betrayed him.
Between his house's lacking honor and his own perversions, Walder Frey existed as a disgusting man with flaky loyalties. Robb did slight him, but destroying House Stark was something else. Arya's revenge deserved her revenge.
10 Petyr Baelish
From the moment he walked on-screen, Petyr Baelish started pulling strings and plotting across Westeros. In Game of Thrones, there are few more devious and effective spy-masters. Before fans even knew much about him, he convinced Lysa Tully to poison her own husband. The atrocities only pile on from there. His selfish only persist with Sansa, manipulating and protecting her because he wanted her to become his Catelyn replacement.
Unfortunately, his weakness for Catelyn and Sansa became his undoing. When the Stark daughters turn on him, this was the first time he didn't have an exit plan. He perished, trapped in Winterfell.
9 Euron Greyjoy
Apparently in Westeros, pirates wield a lot more power than one might expect. At least, Euron Greyjoy does. The renegade brother of Balon, Euron learned to take power in his own hands. After all, the Greyjoy family doesn't have a good history with "regaining" their lands.
The seas made Euron ruthless, though, so he's wrested control of his house through unsavory deals, violence, and fratricide. Allied now with Cersei Lannister, and even consorting in her bed, he's become more dangerous than ever. With a fleet and a queen, he's one disarming villain.
8 Ramsay Bolton
The moment he walked on-screen, Roose Bolton's illegitimate son, Ramsay, started causing trouble. The young man found too much pleasure in torture. One of his first serious victims, Theon, was irreparably warped into Reek. After that, he only got worse. He murdered prostitutes, executed a child hostage, stabbed his father, and assaulted his own wife. Single-handedly, he dismantled the house Roose once ran and turned it into something darker. With a mad man at the helm, of course everything changed. His hounds turning on him was only justice.
7 Tywin Lannister
At the start of Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister was the twisted, calculating patriarch of his house. Father of Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion, he raised bright, yet scheming, children. As a leader, he helped spurn Robert's Rebellion, helped cement their hold in King's Landing, and defeated countless men in battle. He also tormented and nearly executed Tyrion.
While he was a classic, pragmatic nobleman with ambition, that didn't stop him from doing terrible things. When he orchestrated his children and led his armies, he was a power to be feared. If only he hadn't crossed his youngest too many times.
6 High Sparrow
Power plays and religious zealots never mix well. The High Sparrow was the leader of the Sparrows, a devout and violent faction. While he humbled himself in helping the weak and poor, he was also ruthless when it came to those he thought as sinners. Cersei thought she could use him in her schemes, but his principles proved unwavering. He condemned her like anyone else he deemed wrong.
Under his power, he arrested and tried countless nobles, even ending their lives if he deemed it fitting. In the end, only wildfire could stop his influence from spreading even further.
5 Joffrey Baratheon
Though Joffrey perished seasons ago, the echoes of his cruelty live on. Spending too long on the throne, he would execute nobles at a whim, enjoyed torturing prostitutes, and adored hurting his first betrothed, Sansa. Losing him started his mother's path towards deep darkness. He single-handedly ruined Sansa's life and smashed House Stark. His acts of cruelty led to countless devious plots and repercussions.
Furthermore, fans hated Joffrey so much that even years after he's gone, they still consider him one of the worst villains of Game of Thrones.
High priestess of The Lord of Light, Melisandre's always remained a wild card in the great game. With possible centuries under her belt and some bizarre, warped powers, each new thing she does is more and more startling. Not only can she give birth to malevolent shadow demons but also resurrect the dearly departed. If it wasn't for the whole human sacrifice thing, she could have been revered instead of feared.
Jon Snow sent her away alive, but she made her return at the Battle of Winterfell, using her villainous prowess in an act of good. Or so we think.
3 Cersei Lannister
Over time, Cersei Lannister became more ambitious, aggressive, and mad. While Westeros knew the Targaryen's madness, she showed how violent and twisted Lannisters could be. She may finally be the queen in charge, but it comes at a cost.
Between setting half of her city aflame, allying with Euron Greyjoy, and choosing power over Westeros' safety, she's become a dangerous ruler. King's Landing and beyond knows her for torture, execution, and betrayal.
As unstable as she is, and with a fierce dedication to her unborn baby, no one in Westeros is safe.
When Dany walked out of the Khal Drogo's funeral pyre, three majestic baby dragons emerged with her. She named each after her brothers and her lost husband: Rhaegal, Viserion, and Drogon. Of the three, Dany arguably named Viserion after the most volatile and evil. In a tragic, poetic way, of course that's why the White Walkers would end up taking Viserion down and turning him.
Once her beloved, fiery child, Viserion now breathes frigid ice. With The night King as his mount, he poses a serious threat to Westeros. After all, now the undead army has a dragon, too.
1 The Night King
With an undead army, mystical powers, and a frozen dragon, the Night King is by far the most daunting and powerful villain in all of Westeros. Not only can he turn others into ice monsters, but also he commands complete control over those below him. When he and Viserion destroyed part of The Wall, they started the White Walker invasion of Westeros.
In this final season, the noble squabbles won't matter. At least, not until the Night King army is destroyed. Until then, no one can claim the Iron Throne. That alone elevates the Night King above all else.
Were there any other powerful enemies hiding in the shadows? Does Game of Thrones include worse villains we missed? Let us know in the comments below!