Game of Thrones is a series that loved to play around with the gray areas in heroes and villains. There were plenty of evil people in Westeros, but the show often showed us a more sympathetic side to them as well. Likewise, some characters we saw as heroes ended up being capable of terrible things.
By the end of the series, opinions on several characters had changed while there were a few key characters who managed to remain heroes to the end. But given what some of these characters were capable of and what they had been through, the show's most likable heroes could easily have been the most effective villains. Here are some Game of Thrones characters who could have been amazing villains.
10 Margaery Tyrell
Margaery Tyrell was an easy character to like. She was the beautiful and seemingly generous lady who also provided a real threat to Cersei Lannister. Yes, she had personal ambitions to be the queen of Westeros and was willing to manipulate people in order to achieve that goal. But she also seemed to have the best interests of the realm in mind.
Unfortunately, her lack of evilness was her downfall as she was unwilling to go to the depths of cruelty that Cersei was. If Margaery had been a more heartless character, she could have ruled over Westeros, replacing Cersei as the most powerful woman in the Seven Kingdoms.
9 Ned Stark
Ned Stark is known as being perhaps the most honorable man in Westeros which explains why he died before the end of the first season. His death was meant to reinforce the idea that the good guys do no always win in this world. So it's hard not to imagine what would have happened if Ned was a bit bad.
The series begins with Ned being summoned to King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King after the death of Jon Arryn. But what if Ned had set this plan in motion? He was the king's best friend and could hold a lot of power in King's Landing. It would be an interesting scheme by a seemingly simple and soft-spoken man.
8 Beric Dondarrion
Beric Dondarrion was a significant supporting character and a far more interesting figure than the show gave him credit for. After dying in battle, Beric is resurrected by Thoros of Myr and is subsequently resurrected several more times.
Beric leads a band of noble knights who serve no king but instead protect the innocent commonfolk. But with the ability to come back from the dead, Beric could have made for an unsettling villain. Instead of acting as a Robin Hood figure, Beric could have led his men on a mission of vengeance while being unkillable.
7 Sansa Stark
Sansa started the series as probably the least likable Stark thanks to her infatuation with Joffrey Baratheon. However, as she endured horrible treatment season after season and saw many of her family members killed, we grew to love Sansa and cheer for her as she became stronger and wiser.
Sansa became the driving force of seeking justice for her family and reclaiming Winterfell. It would have been interesting to see what lengths she was willing to go to make that happen. Her mission of revenge could have taken her down some dark paths which could have been exciting.
6 Samwell Tarly
Samwell Tarly is not the most intimidating character of the show but he is one of the smartest. He is introduced as a cowardly brother of the Night's Watch but he does manage to become a hero thanks to his studies to become a maester.
The Citadel, where Sam studies in the ways of the maesters, is a mysterious place and has been the subject of many theories. After Sam has been mistreated and disrespected his whole life, perhaps he would have found his place among the maesters and become a key player in their potentially nefarious schemes.
Secrets and intrigue were a big part of the power struggle in Westeros and few people were as good at it as Varys. He was the Master of Whispers, knew everything that was going on in Westeros and used that knowledge to help bring someone to power he thought would be good for the realm.
The show seemed unsure of how to use Varys in the final few seasons, but the books hint that he might have some very big schemes at work. It's possible that all of Varys' secrets could have been used not for the good of the realm, but for his own benefit.
4 Bran Stark
Not everyone would agree that Bran Stark had "the best story" on Game of Thrones, but he certainly did have quite a journey. After getting pushed out a window in the very first episode, Bran began his long transformation into the all-seeing Three-Eyed Raven and eventually became the king.
But with all that incredible power that Bran gains, there was always the possibility that he would abuse it. There were even theories that Bran was the Night King. But to see Bran corrupted by these powers would have been a more interesting ending than the one he eventually got.
3 Arya Stark
Arya Stark was a fan-favorite from the very beginning of the show. She was someone who didn't let anyone push her around and was never afraid to get her hands dirty. Throughout the series, Arya trained with some of the best fighters to become a skilled assassin and the one who saved Westeros.
However, there was a feeling for a while that Arya was losing her innocence and embracing that killer instinct too easily. If she had truly become a Faceless Man, the show could have had her be assigned to kill someone she loved and perhaps we would see that the Arya Stark we knew was really gone.
2 Jon Snow
While fans were not always thrilled with the things he did, Jon Snow did become one of the best heroic characters in modern pop culture. He seemed to be on the hero's path from the very beginning and many assumed he would be the one to save the day and take the throne.
But given Jon Snow's background, perhaps the villainous path would have been better suited. Being the presumed bastard of Ned Stark, Jon could have had a vendetta against the other Stark children. With the later reveal that he is a Targaryen, he could have been the one to inherit the genetic madness instead of Daenerys.
1 Tyrion Lannister
For many people, Tyrion Lannister is the main character and most beloved character on the show. Though he is mistreated and judged by everyone he meets, Tyrion remains brave and noble while still being cunning enough to play "the game".
But Tyrion could have made a very compelling tragic villain. From how he is treated by his own family to how he is called a monster by the people of Westeros, we could have seen a gradual turn in Tyrion. Though he tries his best to be a good person, he is eventually convinced that he is the monster they say he is and embraces it.