Now that the fifth season of the popular HBO series Game of Thrones has wrapped up, fans can sit back and take stock of what they saw. There may be a bit of a divide in the fan-base, especially over this season, because the television show had some pretty noticeable departures from the storyline found in the books. Nonetheless, average viewership continues to climb for the series with over 8 million people watching the season 5 finale when it first aired. Those viewers were left with a lot to think about when the final credits rolled and it all sets up for what will surely be an entertaining season 6.
What makes this show so addictive to so many people? First, the show’s foundation as a political drama naturally draws a huge audience. Stories of power, alliances, planning and betrayal are all fan favorites which can be found in all of the most successful series. Second, the storyline is deep and interwoven with a high degree of unpredictability. Rather than slowly introduce us to the world, the series throws us into the storyline amid an army of unknown characters and, at first, strange lands. For the more superficial viewer, there is an abundance of graphic violence and nudity, both male and female, to keep you firmly in your seat when you otherwise might wander off to get a sandwich or bowl of cereal.
Of course, what stands out in the Game of Thrones series is the wonderful cast of actors and the characters they portray. From the diminutive yet charming Tyrion played by Peter Dinklage to the vengeful assassin-in-training Arya Stark played by Maisie Williams, the variety and depth of the characters help draw us in and become invested in the storyline. There is a large contingent of what we would call ‘good’ characters scattered throughout the show. This article does not deal with those roles. Instead, we take a look at the characters on Game of Thrones who tend to be evil and despicable in some way. These characters are the most hated and we’ve learned to distrust them and know that bad things will happen when they are around. While there may be quite a few characters on Game of Thrones who are hated by the fans, the following are 10 of the most hated people of Westeros and beyond.
***WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD***
11 Dishonorable Mention: Stannis Baratheon and Olly
So many characters just missed out on getting mentioned that we decided to give an honorable, or in this case dishonorable, nod to two disliked characters on Game of Thrones. Stannis Baratheon wasn’t really hated when we first met him. Then, over time, this challenger to the Iron Throne started to show some nasty personality traits. He foolishly followed the advice of a glorified witch, turned to the dark arts to kill his brother, treated Davos Seaworth, his most loyal advisor like a dog and, in case you missed it, allowed his daughter to be burned at the stake. Way to go Dad! While his death at the hands of Brienne of Tarth was only implied, it was nonetheless a fitting end.
Olly makes it on this list simply for what happens at the very end of Season 5. His family was killed by the Wildlings in Season 4 and the Night’s Watch took him in. For a while we thought he and Jon Snow might become the best of friends. Not so much, as it turns out. Olly was clearly upset that Jon allowed the Wildlings past the Wall and took part in a major case of treachery. He was the one who lured Jon Snow out of his room to meet the murderous crowd led by Alliser Thorne. Olly was also the one who dealt the last blow to Jon Snow. Oh Olly, we hope there is a special end waiting for you over the next season – preferably at the hands of a Dire Wolf.
Whenever the Red Witch appeared to give her ‘advice’ over the last few seasons you just knew bad things were going to happen. At first, in a similar fashion to Stannis, we neither liked nor hated Melisandre. That changed quickly. Melisandre deserves a spot on any list of hated characters because she is just plain evil. She burns people at the stake – including little girls - uses black magic and the dark arts, corrupts those around her and then ends up running when plans don’t go accordingly. Wherever this character appears the audience is left on guard, wondering what her angle is and how she is going to get her way.
9 Roose Bolton
In Westeros there appear to be two kinds of rulers. Those who value honor and allegiances and those who look out for themselves. Roose Bolton falls into the second category. Initially an ally of the Stark family, Roose stood beside Robb Stark as he waged war against the Lannisters. When Robb’s leadership started to come into question, Roose moved quickly to secure a new alliance. This all unfolded at the now infamous ‘Red Wedding’ where the head of House Bolton helped orchestrate the murder of many Stark family members. It was here that Roose himself dealt the final blow to Rob by plunging a dagger into his heart and confirming his betrayal.
8 Tywin Lannister
In some ways, Tywin Lannister, head of House Lannister, is similar to Roose Bolton. Tywin was practical and always weighing up the value of certain political decisions and alliances based on gain and not morality. A military leader and politician, this in itself wasn’t enough to generate much hate towards Tywin. However, when it came to how he treated his family the audiences found more than enough ammunition to use. Tywin only cared for his reputation. His concern for his son Jaime was not out of love but out of the desire to maintain the family name and establish a lasting legacy. He treated his children as objects to be used to further his name and was quite cruel to Tyrion, his youngest son. Fittingly, Tywin met his end at the hands of the son he had treated so poorly over the years.
Unlike most of the House leaders in Game of Thrones, Craster was an out-and-out bad guy who nobody could like. The Wildling who lived beyond the Wall was a necessary ally for the men of the Night’s Watch who would stay at Craster’s fortified farmstead during long missions. Craster was a nasty old man who treated his guests like criminals – which in reality most of them were. He also had many wives, all of them created through incestuous relations. The icing on the Craster cake? Any sons born to his sister-wives were left out in the forest for the White Walkers to take. It’s clear that his death didn’t upset very many fans.
6 Alliser Thorne
From the get-go we didn’t like this character too much. A long serving member of the Night’s Watch who holds various positions over the course of the series, Alliser Thorne and John Snow simply do not get along. Their methods of training clash, their tactics clash and their plans concerning the Wildlings clash. Alliser becomes that guy who you don’t like but would want around if things start to go really bad. Then the season 5 finale happened. After Jon Snow gets lured outside by the treacherous little orphan Olly, Thorne is the first of the mutineers to plunge his sword into the Lord Commander. The assassination pretty much solidifies Thorne’s status as hated and we can only hope he meets a fitting end at the hands of a White Walker.
5 Walder Frey
For this character, there is likely no divide in opinion among the fans. Walder Frey, Lord of the Crossing, is a generally unlikeable character. He’s rude, ignorant and pretty much your typical dirty old man. This, in itself, may be enough to make some hate him but it was Frey’s treachery at the wedding of his daughter Roslin to Edmure Tully that seals the deal. Here he invited the Starks and their bannermen to his castle for the festivities. With everyone settled in, Frey’s men and those with Roose Bolton set about slaughtering everyone. When Frey’s wife is held hostage by a desperate Catelyn Stark, he shows no concern and lets his wife die after retorting that he can simply find another bride.
4 Petyr Baelish
The most dangerous man in Westeros. When we first meet Petyr ‘Little Finger’ Baelish there doesn’t seem to be a lot to dislike. He owns a brothel, is involved in spying and intelligence gathering and apparently has no love of Joffrey Baratheon – oh, we’ll get to him in a moment. With his betrayal of Ned Stark in Season 1, Baelish’s true colors come shining through. Over the following seasons it becomes more and more apparent that this master spy only looks out for himself and is weaving a web of deceit and lies to benefit himself. He befriends numerous characters only to throw them aside or see them die once they are of no more use. Perhaps it is he who should be nicknamed the "Spider", or more appropriately the "Black Widow", given his ability to be so innocuous one moment and deadly the next.
3 Ramsay Bolton
Ramsay Bolton is a complete psychopath. If he was a kid we knew in elementary school he’d be the one who tricked other people, stole their toys and broke them just for fun and pulled the wings off of flies when he was bored. He would probably then burn the entire school to the ground. From his introduction it was clear this character was dangerous. He tortured and cut up Theon Greyjoy – which, to be honest, we didn’t mind at first – and even hunted down people for sport in the woods. One moment he can appear nice and sweet only to follow that up with some truly sadistic act. Hated long before this season, Ramsay solidified his status as one of the most hated characters after raping Sansa Stark following their marriage.
2 Cersei Lannister
Some people may have felt a little sympathy for this character after she ‘confessed’ her sins and was forced to walk naked all the way back to the Red Keep. Most fans, however, will think back to all of the lies, deceit, back-handed compliments and threats which have come from Cersei since the very first season. In addition to getting no sympathy from us, even her ‘confession’ seemed strategic – a way to endure short-term pain in order to achieve long-term gain. While she professes that her actions are for the benefit of her children, the funny thing is that all of the decisions to ‘protect’ her children always seem to give her greater powers in King’s Landing. Indeed, Cersei is a lot like her father Tywin where every decision, no matter how small, is made in light of some larger plan.
1 Joffrey Baratheon
Of all the characters we hate on Game of Thrones, Joffrey Baratheon takes the top spot. Almost every negative and despicable trait we find in the other characters on this list we can find in Joffrey. He is cruel, cowardly, treacherous and a liar. He delights in torturing and embarrassing others, often in front of a large crowd. From having Sansa Stark humiliated in the throne room to embarrassing Tyrion at his own wedding to murdering prostitutes and executing people on a whim, Joffrey was a real piece of work with no redeeming qualities. That’s why, if you listened very carefully around mid-April of 2014, you could hear the collective cheering of millions of viewers as the despised King was poisoned. Sure, the purple skin, blood coming out of the nose and vomit out the corners of the mouth was graphic – but it was a fitting end to such a hated character.