This article contains spoilers for the television show.
HBO’s Game of Thrones unquestionably has the most diverse set of characters of any television show currently on the air. The show’s story spans continents, and its epic plot is matched turn for turn by a gigantic and talented ensemble cast.
The Song of Ice and Fire books on which the television show is based has been estimated to have more than 1,600 named characters. While the TV show necessarily has considerably fewer characters, it still boasts the largest ensemble cast on scripted television.
While fans of the show have to work diligently to keep track of all those characters, their motivations, and their actions, one thing that’s easy to appreciate is how many beautiful women are in Westeros and the greater world of Game of Thrones.
It seems like nearly every scene of the show boasts a gorgeous actress to play one of the story’s powerful women. Whether the character is an established player in the game like Queen Cersei Lannister, or a promising up-and-coming schemer like Sansa Stark or Margaery Tyrell, these women’s bold plots are matched by their bold looks.
With a woman like the red priestess Melisandre (in her skimpy red dress) whispering in his ear, can you blame the self-styled king Stannis Baratheon for following her advice on matters ranging from religion to warfare?
When twice-widowed Margaery Tyrell uses her looks to gain favor with Tommen, her third royal fiancé in as many seasons, is it any wonder that it works wonders on the young prince, who had previously been more interested in his cat, Ser Pounce, than the charms of the fairer sex?
It should be no surprise that Daenerys Targaryen’s beauty would cause Daario Naharis to betray his fellow sellsword generals, and bring their heads to Dany in a sack as proof of his newfound devotion. Even Dany’s Unsullied commander Grey Worm, who was castrated as a slave, is struck by the loveliness and charm of Missandei, Dany’s freed-slave translator.
While there are many more beautiful women in the series than can be listed in this article, here are the ten hottest actresses in Game of Thrones.
10 Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
In Queen Cersei’s childhood, she visits a fortuneteller with her friends in Lannisport, who correctly foretells that Cersei would become queen of the entire realm. One problem, though, is that she also predicts that a younger, more beautiful queen would take from her everything Cersei holds dear.
The identity of this younger, more-beautiful queen who will bring down Cersei (if the prophesy is even true) is a topic of hot debate among fans of the series, with Sansa, Dany, and many others as legitimate possibilities. One thing for certain, though, is that Cersei is beautiful now, especially as played by the talented Lena Headey, who is a hard-to-believe 40 years old as season four of the show airs this spring.
9 Carice van Houten as Melisandre
Melisandre is a priestess of the eastern god R'hllor, and her sexy red gowns match her gorgeous crimson hair when we first see her at Dragonstone. In the show, Melisandre is fanatical, passionate, powerful, and dangerous. She not only seduces Stannis in order to conceive the shadow-demon-baby that would kill his brother Renly, she also seduces Stannis with the explicit permission of his wife, Selyse, herself a devoted convert to Melisandre’s red religion.
Carice van Houten, 38, brings a mysterious sexiness to the character that is essential to Melisandre’s arc in the series.
8 Sibel Kekilli as Shae
It would be hard to find a more polarizing character than Shae. Some fans of the show despise her, thinking that the prostitute is simply playing Tyrion Lannister for his money and power. Others are convinced that she actually loves her “Lion of Lannister,” and would never betray him. The jury is still out on that, but there’s no disputing how hot Shae is on the show.
German tabloids reported that actress Sibel Kekilli, 33, started out acting in pornographic films before finding success in drama, and it’s no surprise considering her good looks.
7 Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei
In the show, translator Missandei is so beautiful that even the castrated Unsullied infantry commander Grey Worm has a crush on her. Dany acquired Missandei from the same Astapori slave trader who “sold” Dany her Unsullied army. “Sold” is in quotes because Dany immediately freed the slaves and also never paid the slave trader, preferring instead to burn him alive.
Nathalie Emmanuel is a gorgeous 25-year-old English actress who has used her success on the show to land a role in the upcoming Fast and Furious 7.
6 Alexandra Dowling as Roslin Frey
Edmure Tully spent much of his trip to The Twins worrying about the looks of his arranged bride, as Walder Frey’s daughters were generally not known for their beauty. You can imagine his relief, then, when he laid eyes on the lovely Roslin Frey, by far the most beautiful bachelorette of The Crossing.
His relief was short-lived, of course, since the Freys betrayed Edmure at his wedding, taking him prisoner before killing his sister and nephew. For one shining moment, though, Edmure was imagining a happy future with Roslin, played by the stunning 23-year-old English actress Alexandra Dowling.
5 Oona Chaplin as Talisa
We first meet Talisa on the show on the battlefield, where she is tending to the wounded in Robb Stark’s uprising against King Joffrey. Robb immediately falls for and marries her.
While her character’s death on the show was overshadowed by the murders of her husband and aunt, actress Oona Chaplin, 28, has some famous real-life family connections. She is the granddaughter of actor Charlie Chaplin and the great-granddaughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill.
4 Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark
Sansa is supposed to be one of the most beautiful women in Westeros, and that’s one of the reasons she is arranged to marry Prince Joffrey early in the series. That’s also one reason that Joffrey’s mother, Cersei, schemes against her at every turn, worried that Sansa will be the more-beautiful queen that was foretold to spell her doom.
Sansa’s engagement to Joffrey falls apart when her brother rebels against the crown, and she winds up marrying Tyrion, Joffrey’s uncle. The unlikely pairing of dwarf Tyrion and the statuesque Sansa is the source of much gossip in the series, and the 18-year-old English actress Sophie Turner stands 5’9’’ in real life.
3 Rose Leslie as Ygritte
“You know nothing, Jon Snow,” is a line often-repeated in the series by Ygritte, as she teases her boyfriend Jon for his ignorance, even though she herself is unaware that Snow is a double-agent for the Night’s Watch tasked with infiltrating Ygritte’s tribe of Wildlings.
One thing Jon Snow does know is how hot Ygritte is, as he breaks his sacred vow of chastity with her several times north of the Wall. Ygritte is played by the sultry Scottish actress Rose Leslie, who is 27.
2 Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell
Margaery Tyrell is another candidate for the most beautiful woman in all of Westeros, and considering she is about to marry King Tommen, this has Cersei understandably worried.
Margaery is known for her ornate and revealing gowns on the show, which definitely plays to the strengths of the 32-year-old English actress Natalie Dormer.
1 Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
While Sansa and Margaery are known to the continent of Westeros as beautiful young ladies, Dany’s good looks are the source of truly global gossip. Word of the world’s most beautiful woman hatching three dragon eggs spreads like, ahem, fire, and at various points in the series Dany has any number of suitors proposing marriage. Dany has come a long way from being sold by her brother in an arranged marriage to horse-lord Khal Drogo, and now has her pick of grooms from every corner of the planet.
There’s good news for love-struck fans of Emilia Clarke, the 26-year-old English actress whose turn as Daenerys Targaryen has made her one of the world’s most admired celebrities. Fresh off a breakup with animator Seth MacFarlane, Clarke is said to be single and loving it.