Sure, Game of Thrones has beheadings and dragons and ice zombies and giants and maddening character deaths, but perhaps its best element is also the show at its most simple; two characters talking. Since the beginning, Game of Thrones has masterfully paired off main characters and let the sparks fly, and season after season we’ve watched with amazement and intrigue as new characters join forces and scheme their way toward their respective goals.
Now, with five seasons behind us and season 6 premiering on April 24, we’re looking back at the best moments of Game of Thrones through the lens of purely brilliant storytelling. No gimmicks, no CGI, no jaw-dropping twists, these storylines were spectacular purely because of the characters in them.
Keeping in mind that spoilers follow for all 5 seasons of Game of Thrones. Here’s the 12 Most Amazing Game of Thrones Character Team-Ups.
12 Tyrion and Varys
Tyrion and Varys are two very different men with very different upbringings, and yet their mutual understanding of ridicule and underestimation makes them perfect allies. Sharing various scenes throughout the series, Tyrion and Varys always seemed to have a mutual respect for each other. They both see themselves in the other person; a man who overcame great obstacles to make something of himself.
However, Tyrion and Varys’ team-up didn’t come in full until season 5, when both characters set sail for Essos looking for a brighter future and a new path to winning the titular game. With Tyrion having lost the will to live and Varys finally latching onto a worthy cause, the verbal back-and-forth between two men who knew each other for a long time but never truly knew each other reached intense heights and culminated in their characters parting ways – involuntarily – with no clear path back to one another.
11 Jorah and Daenerys
When a show has as much gratuitous sex as Game of Thrones does, it’s not very often you see unrequited love last from season to season. Yet, that’s where Jorah and Daenerys have found themselves since the first season. Both characters have gone through hell and back together, and though the people around them have come and gone, what stayed between Jorah the Andal and The Mother of Dragons is a complicated mix of affection, admiration, and mistrust.
Each scene with these two plays with similar beats, but the beautiful thing about the Jorah and Daenerys team-up is how their relationship has changed over the course of the show. The rare “couple” that have stayed alive together since the beginning, Jorah has watched Daenerys go from a child to a leader, and Daenerys has seen Jorah go from a trusted ally to a hated enemy to a pathetic saviour; and we can’t wait to see what happens next.
10 Arya and Tywin
Some of the most tense and thrilling scenes in Game of Thrones involved Arya serving Tywin in his war room. As the newly-orphaned Stark girl pretended to be a commoner in order to survive, Tywin took a liking to Arya thanks to their mutual understanding of intelligence and cunning.
While Arya listened-in on plans of Lannister war with the Starks, Tywin was one step ahead, knowing full-well that Arya wasn’t the uneducated commoner she made herself out to be. However, like all good Thrones character team-ups, both characters are constantly outwitting each other and playing their own game, and Arya was able to maintain her cover identity and escape from Tywin’s grasp with her life, leaving behind only the potential for more fantastic scenes between the two characters.
9 Brienne and Podrick
It’s so rare to find a character that is inherently good in Game of Thrones that when one comes along we must enjoy every single moment with them. Such is the case not only with Brienne, but with Podrick as well; and seeing the two of them together are the closest the show ever gets to allowing a viewer to feel pure joy.
Unlike any other relationship on the show, Brienne and Podrick actually seem to want the same things, which is what makes watching them together such a fun experience. While deception and manipulation are the main reasons we watch Game of Thrones, a Brienne and Podrick scene allows our minds to unwind as we enjoy Podrick screwing something up, Brienne scolding him for it, and both of them clearly caring for each other in private.
8 Brienne and Jaime
Admit it; you wanted Brienne and Jaime to make it work together. You wanted to see them be happy. You wanted the kind-hearted, selfless Jaime that saved Brienne from a bear-pit and rape to be the Jaime that came back to King’s Landing. But that didn’t happen, our dreams were crushed, and now Brienne is all alone in the world with only Podrick and Oathkeeper.
Brienne and Jaime’s scenes started much differently than they ended. With a mutual disgust for each other and an understandable belief that each one was the better fighter, Brienne the Beauty and the Kingslayer seemed destined to kill one-another. But like all great Game of Thrones team-ups as time went on their relationship changed, and while they’re currently separated they have become Westeros’ answer to Jim and Pam from The Office.
7 Jaime and Bronn
If Jaime had to be with someone other than Brienne, we’d rather he leave his sister and – in true Game of Thrones style – just hook up with Bronn already. It’s like, c’mon guys, get a room why don’t you?
Ever since Bronn started training with Jaime and teaching him to fight with his left hand, these two have shared a strong bond and – dare we say it – have actually become friends. Filling their scenes together with banter and bragging, Jaime and Bronn are two Thrones characters so delightfully confident in themselves that it’s hard not to root for them. Although their detour to Dorne in season 5 was one that didn’t seem to impact much of the larger story, just seeing these two men fight – and charm their way out of a fight – was a delight that’s worth 100 barrels of Dornish wine.
6 Sansa and Littlefinger
When it comes to Sansa and Littlefinger joining forces, it was never clear who was playing whom. With Sansa using her newfound womanhood to seduce Littlefinger and play to his Catelyn-loving ways, and Littlefinger using Sansa as a pawn in his larger game, these two characters matched wits and never made it clear who was truly winning with their arrangement.
While it’s clear that Littlefinger saved Sansa’s life by getting her out of the capital, there is still much to be told in the tale of these two. Though they had separated when Sansa was wed to Ramsay Bolton, it’s clear that these two aren’t done with each other, and one of them will be harvesting whatever seeds they planted in the other sometime soon.
5 Arya and The Hound
Oh, what could’ve been. If only Game of Thrones was set in a more forgiving world, Arya and The Hound could’ve gotten along famously. They could’ve found a nice cottage in the countryside and killed anyone who came near them; both of them respecting and resenting the other’s slightly sociopathic tendencies. But that’s not the storyline we got.
Arya and The Hound travelling together was consistently the most engaging storyline on Game of Thrones, and to see it end the way it did – not in a blaze of glory but rather in a quiet and defiant way – was the perfect end to the perfect character team-up. With their days of travelling, pillaging, and killing together behind them, Arya finally crossed The Hound’s name off her list when she watched him die and refused to put him out of his misery. And now their journey’s ended; here’s hoping there was a maester behind that rock.
4 Hodor and Anyone (But Mostly Bran)
Rather than filling this entry with the word Hodor, we’ll just say that anytime a character hangs out with Hodor we’re happy. The sweetest giant in the land, every scene with Hodor is a gift, and we could watch him say “Hodor” for a nearly unlimited period of time.
While Hodor has never said more than “Hodor” to his companions, what makes a character team-up with Hodor so special is the underlying fragility and unpredictability that comes with him. He’s invaluable to people like Bran and has saved countless lives – voluntarily and involuntarily – but Hodor is still Hodor, and that means we’ll always be worried about him.
3 Tyrion and Daenerys
The two most competent leaders in the known world, it took five seasons for these two to meet, and boy did it ever pay off when they finally did. Talking sexy politics and broken wheels, Tyrion and Daenerys are so exciting together because we know deep down that they both want the right thing, and it’s clear that they’re going to step over a hell of a lot of people to achieve it.
Although these two only had a scene or two together before Daenerys was whisked away on Drogon and eventually captured by the Dothraki, we can’t wait for them to be reunited and talk strategy all day long. That’s just how good these two are together. Give us a scene with Tyrion and Daenerys discussing the taxes of Meereen and we’d choose that over dragons fighting White Walkers any day.
2 Jon and Sam
Despite the unknown fate of Game of Thrones' best bromance going into season 6, at the very least we have 5 previous seasons of two best friends having each other’s backs all the way. With wisdom, wit, and white-walker killing tips shared between Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly since the beginning, every scene with Jon and Sam together was a gift; especially as they often got split up and nearly killed, thus making their reunions so sweet.
The best part of the Jon and Sam team-up was how equally matched both characters were, but in totally different ways. They completed each other, and it’s conceivable that Westeros would be a drastically different place were it not for Jon and Sam putting their heads together and being two of the last good men in the North; or anywhere else, really.
1 Joffrey and Margaery
Anytime a character can see Joffrey for who he really is, that character becomes the most compelling on Game of Thrones. Margaery Tyrell knew exactly who Joffrey was, and she played his game masterfully, always aware of the stakes with a steady eye on the finish line.
Smiling and conniving and playing dumb when the situation called for it, every scene with Margaery and Joffrey was a back and forth battle for power in a larger game. And Margaery won the grand prize of that game when she outlasted Joffrey and saw him poisoned on their wedding day. With that poisoning came one of the most satisfying moments in television history, but it also represented the end of one of the great all-time Game of Thrones character team-ups. But still; it was totally worth it to see the look of horror on Joffrey’s face, and the look of total complacency on Margaery’s.
Which of these character team-ups are your favorite? Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments!