As with any work of quasi-medieval fantasy, HBO's Game of Thrones is filled with characters of royal heritage and royal loyalty. One of the most significant types of these characters is, of course, the elite group classified as Knights of the Seven Kingdoms. Whether they belong to the even more elite class of Knights of the Kingsuard or Queensguard, or whether they became Knights through merit or appointment in other occasions, these supposedly honorable figures have contributed to some of the series' most meaningful moments.
Of course, as with all characters, not all Knights are created equal. Game of Thrones has had its fair share of truly hateful Knights, as well as Knights whose honor stands unmatched in any form within the entire Realm. Here, we've collected a list of the best and worst of them all. Let's see where your favorite Knight stands.
Knights don't get much more loathsome than the absolutely hateful Ser Meryn Trant. A man wholly without honor, Ser Meryn served in the Kingsguard under three Baratheon kings - King Robert, King Joffrey, and King Tommen. While those kings certainly varied in their quality and morals, Ser Meryn remained consistently odious. He was always willing to abuse whoever the kings required him to, regardless of they were man, woman, or child.
And speaking of children... As the series would later reveal, Ser Meryn kept truly disturbing pedophilic secrets. He would frequent brothels, request the youngest girls they had, and routinely abuse them. So when Arya Stark took it upon herself to kill the loathsome man, it was arguably one of the series' most satisfying moments.
Ser Gregor Clegane is certainly known as The Mountain for a reason. One of the largest men in all the Realm, Ser Gregor was one of the most fearsome members of the Kingsguard even before his transformation into a more beast-like state. Known for his incredibly violent killing methods, such as squashing the head of poor Oberyn Martell with his bare hands, Ser Gregor certain leaves quite the impression on any man who meets him.
There's also the matter of the fraught relationship he has with his brother, Sandor Clegane, also known as The Hound, and the lifelong scars he inflicted upon him. It's inevitable that these two will meet properly again soon, and their faceoff is bound to prove quite bloody.
A man of no words at all is sometimes scarier than a man of too many words. Ser Ilyn Payne, known colloquially as The King's Justice, has been a leading member of both the Kingsuard and Queensguard, serving King Robert, King Joffrey, King Tommen, and Queen Cersei. Having had his tongue ripped out at the behest of the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen, the already fearsome and talented Ser Ilyn became instantly more unsettling to all who encountered him - including a poor, frightened young Sansa Stark.
Ser Ilyn has a reputation as serving as the primary executioner of the royal Knights, and perhaps his most famous kill to date is one of the series' most heartbreaking. It was Ser Ilyn who swung the sword that beheaded Ned Stark.
You'd be hard pressed to find a more unlikely Knight than Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Having spent his life as a sellsword, moving from one highest bidder to the next, Bronn was given the title of Ser following his heroics in the Battle of Blackwater at the end of season two. Bronn has never been a particularly honorable man, but the general notion of "honor among thieves" essentially extends to his character's arc.
The eighth season currently finds the allegedly honorable Bronn in an uncomfortable position, threatening to kill his former employers - including a fellow Knight, at that. We're not sure what the series has in store for the greedy sellsword, but we're sure of this: he's hardly a Knight worth rooting for anymore.
As one of the lone Knights of the Northern houses, Ser Rodrik Cassel is in an impressive class almost all his own. Fiercely loyal to House Stark, Ser Rodrik was Winterfell's Master at Arms, charged with imparting wisdom and swordsmanship both to the younger generations. He was incredibly well-respected by all who knew him, and his loyalty to House Stark lasted up until his dying moments.
His death served as a truly grim moment for the series. Taking place during the sack of Winterfell by House Greyjoy, Ser Rodrik was gruesomely beheaded by then traitorous Theon Greyjoy, right before the very eyes of young Bran and Rickon Stark. But even with his dying words, Ser Rodrik professed his commitment to the Starks, telling the young boys that he would be joining their father now.
Few Knights are as well known and routinely feared or loathed as Ser Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer himself. At the age of 16, Ser Jaime became a Knight, and was soon appointed as a member of the Kingsguard by the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. When the Mad King went truly mad, it was Ser Jaime who killed him, literally stabbing him in the back when he threatened to burn all of King's Landing.
Since that infamous day, Ser Jaime has had quite the storied trajectory within his career. He continued serving within the Kingsguard under King Robert, King Joffrey, and King Tommen, eventually ascending to the position of Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. But in recent years, he has defected from his lifelong service in the Kingsguard. His current loyalties are questionable, but his legacy as one of the most influential Knights in all the Realm remains.
Before Ser Jaime Lannister was appointed to the position of Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Barrisatan Selmy served righteously in the same post for most of his life. As one of the most honorable Knights in the entire Seven Kingdoms, Ser Barristan's code of honor remained stalwart even in the face of his public humiliation by King Joffrey.
Following his unheard of removal from the post, Ser Barristan pledged his loyalty instead to Daenerys Targaryen, serving faithfully as one of her advisors and protectors alongside Ser Jorah Mormont, Grey Worm, and Missandei. His tragic death at the hands of the Sons of the Harpy was a true loss for the series, which could certainly use some of his levelheaded wisdom right about now.
Though he may be derisively known as the Onion Knight to some, Ser Davos Seaworth is just about as truly honorable as a Knight can be. Despite his lower-class origins as the son of a crabber and an eventual smuggler, Ser Davos would go on to become one of the most trusted advisors and protectors in the realm, serving the likes of Stannis Baratheon, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen in his tenure as a Knight and source of counsel.
Rewarded with the title of Knight for his part in saving Storm's End during Robert's Rebellion, Ser Davos has had one of the most interesting journeys out of the entire series' cast of characters. He has endured loss and suffered for poor decisions, but he remains, at his very core, one of the best men in the entire series - truly kind, truly good, and truly a man of honor.
Though Ser Jorah Mormont's history may be littered with moments of shame, the Knight of Bear Island still remains one of the fiercest, the most talented, and the most loyal of all the Knights of the Seven Kingdoms. Ser Jorah made mistakes in his life - including attempting to sell thieves into slavery, and betraying Daenerys's trust by serving as a secret source of information to King Robert.
But over the years, he more than proved his true merit as an honorable man, remaining loyal to Daenerys until his dying breath. He was her most trusted friend and advisor, and as any good Knight should, he all too willingly laid his life down for hers. Ser Jorah Mormont may not have been a perfect man, but he was a good one - and one of the best Knights the Seven Kingdoms has ever seen.
Could any other Knight really have topped this list? No one - neither man nor woman - has ever been as deserving of the distinguished title of Knight as Ser Brienne of Tarth, the first female Knight in the entire history of the Seven Kingdoms. From her introduction in the series, when she was fiercely loyal to Renly Baratheon, to her subsequent pledge of loyalty to Catelyn Stark, to the way she has protected the Stark girls and shepherded Ser Jaime's growth, Ser Brienne has more than shown the honor she possesses.
All the while, she has also shown her true skill at swordsmanship, handily defeating the likes of The Hound and taking part in key battles such as the Battle of Winterfell, in order to prevent The Long Night. Ser Brienne's knighthood came as a truly shocking moment for the series - not because it wasn't earned, but because it very well may be the most earned moment of the entire series' run.