Game of Thrones is a show was a lot of characters, like a lot of characters. With the numerous potential candidates, there is no shortage of strong female characters. While the show has featured three different men on the sought after Iron Throne (Robert Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon and Tommen Baratheon), the women in this show are not to be discounted.
While HBO has been under some criticism for its portrayal of women, mainly because almost every major female character gets raped at one point or another; that is not to say that Game of Thrones doesn’t feature some fully developed, interested and powerful female characters. Of course, this power comes in many shapes in sizes.
Some of the female characters are powerful due to the way they use their sexuality to manipulate men, their intellect and wit, and their political acumen. These women survive and even at times flourish in King’s Landing, which is a difficult feat. These women also, unfortunately, end up being in the shadow of the king. Seducing the king and manipulating him to do whatever you want does not actually make you the king. But, hey, being queen isn’t such a bad gig either.
Other women on this list reject the lady-like expectations of the day and forge their own path. In a time when women were to be pretty and kind, these women wanted to learn sword fighting and be knights. While they possess a great power in their physical strength and being able to physically defend themselves, their power lacks from their rejection of playing into the traditional female role.
There are also the women that fall somewhere in the middle or totally out in left field. Whatever their reason for being powerful may be, these are the eleven most powerful women on Game of Thrones.
11 Catelyn Stark
Sure, Catelyn Stark is dead and she is the only dead woman to make this list for a reason. While Catelyn was often times pigeonholed into the role of wife or mother, she was so much more than that. While she may have fallen those roles, she still had a few admirers from her younger years, namely Littlefinger. While Littlerfinger isn’t necessarily known for his moral high ground, having him in your corner is definitely a plus.
Catelyn is also one of the only women who both embraced her lady-like side and shed some blood. Remember when the assassin tried to take out Bran in season one? Catelyn was not having that. What about when she was pretty upset about Robb being murdered (understandably so) and slit Walder’s wife’s throat? Catelyn had balls of steel but unfortunately, she met her end too soon.
In the books, Catelyn returns as Lady Stoneheart, a shell of her former self whose sole purpose is to avenge her family’s deaths. The producers have stated that they won’t be doing a Stoneheart storyline, but the producers also love to throw the fans off, so who knows? We may have not seen the last of Catelyn Stark.
10 Yara Greyjoy
Yara Greyjoy falls into the category of women who have forsaken the lady-like duties of the time. After her two older brothers were killed and her one younger brother was taken hostage, her father only had her left so he raised her as a son. She even commands her own ship. Can any other woman on this show say that? Nope.
Unfortunately, Yara didn't make it very high on list because we haven’t seen much of her. I mean, she wasn’t in the fifth season at all. What has been shown of Yara definitely made an impression and from the previews of season six, we’ll likely be seeing more of this commanding woman.
9 Brienne Of Tarth
Brienne of Tarth could probably kick the ass of any person reading this article. Like, seriously. She's beaten Loras, Jamie and The Hound in a sword fights and they were all very skilled. Sure, Jamie's hands were tied at the time but she still beat Jamie freaking Lannister.
Brienne was the only surviving child of Lord Selwyn Tarth and therefore she was set to inherit his wealth. Because of this, men of noble houses were willing to marry her despite her looks but Brienne wasn’t interested in that. Instead, she took to battle and became skilled in swordsmanship. Her dream is to become a knight, which is basically impossible for a woman in The Seven Kingdoms but if anyone can do it, we're guessing Brienne can.
8 Ellaria Sand
When we first meet Ellaria Sand, she just seems like the very sexually open-minded partner of Oberyn Martell. When Oberyn battles The Mountain to avenge his sister’s murder, The Mountain quite literally crushes Oberyn’s skull, leaving Ellaria shrieking.
Ellaria really wants some revenge, which would be easy to carry out since Myrcella Baratheon just so happens to be chillin’ in Dorne. Doran Martell, Oberyn’s brother, forbids her from harming innocent Myrcella. Ellaria takes that order and is just like, “Nah. I'm gonna get my revenge on."
She kisses Myrcella goodbye before she sets sail back to King’s Landing, only to poison Myrcella with her lips. Ellaria’s power stems from her need to avenge the death of Oberyn but still, disobeying Doran and killing Cersei’s only daughter takes some balls. We're guessing that if Ellaria wants something done, it gets done.
Considering the fact that she appears to have actual magical powers, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that she is making this list.
She’s a big believer of the Lord of Light, often using fire for her magic and burning people live as a sacrifice to her Lord of Light. While her worshiping, at times, seems fanatical, she does seem to have true powers. Now, just because she is seemingly powerful doesn’t mean that fans of the show love her. In fact, most people aren’t really too found of her. She gave birth to the Shadow, who went on to kill Renly in order to further Stannis’ ambitions. Oh, and how about that time that she convinced Stannis to burn Shireen, his only daughter, alive at the stake as a sacrifice? That’s probably when most fans got off the Melisandre train if they were ever on it.
While Melisandre does seem to have magic powers, she doesn’t seem interested in winning the throne for herself but has rather been subservient to Stannis’ play for the throne. Since Stannis was executed by Brienne of Tarth in the finale of season five, it will be interesting to see what becomes of Melisandre without Stannis around.
6 Arya Stark
Arya is a fan favorite. Who wouldn’t love the outspoken young girl, who finds the lady-like activities of that time boring? Before almost her whole family is murdered, Arya was training in sword fighting, something most of the other women on this list have never done. Not only can Arya fend for herself and defend herself, but she has also undergone training at the House of Black and White. Basically, she could probably kill most people in The Seven Kingdoms.
There are a few issues with Arya’s power though. For starters, she seems to have no political ambitions, which is okay but without ruling, like some of the other women on this list, she is less powerful. The biggest hindrance to Arya’s power is her hate. She lives for revenge and murdering the people on her list, which has already left her blind.
5 Cersei Lannister
Cersei has been Queen throughout the duration of the series so far. Hanging on to that title through three different kings and all the unrest in The Seven Kingdoms is quite an accomplishment. While she is quite intelligent, she often times lets her emotions rule her in that she’d do anything for her children. Another handicap is her hatred of Tyrion, her brother, who is undoubtedly the smartest person in The Seven Kingdoms. If she would have overcome her pride, Tyrion’s advisory could have been a great help to her.
Her survivalist instincts have helped her make it this far in Game of Thrones but her paranoia about another family taking away one of her children or the throne has handicapped her. On top of that, almost everyone hates Cersei. In the most recent season, the citizens were all too happy to scream obscenities at Cersei as she endure her walk of atonement. Not having the support of the people you rule will always hinder your power.
4 Sansa Stark
Unfortunately for Sansa, it seems that she doesn’t know how truly powerfully she is and this has hindered her from fully coming into her own. In her defense, at the beginning of the show, she is very young and naïve. I mean, anyone who would actually want to marry Joffrey, king or no king, would have at be quite naïve. Had things worked out how Ned and Catelyn had planned, she would have most likely enjoyed a very sheltered life and been married off to a nice, worthy gentleman, who wouldn't rape her like her current husband, Ramsay Bolton, aka Joffrey 2.0.
Yeah, so Sansa has been unlucky in love but what does she have going for? For one, she’s a Stark, a family that is not only respected but also beloved. She is the last known surviving Stark and, therefore, the key to winning the North. Fortunately for Sansa, she hasn’t inherited her father’s sense of justice and morality but rather, she has a more political mind. I mean, she was engaged to Joffrey, who was basically a monster, and she managed to live through that.
The mix of her political mind, ability to adapt, and linage is a strong combination but she’ll have to avoid being used like a pawn and begin to play the game on her own terms. As Tyrion once said of Sansa, “She may well outlive us all.”
3 Margaery Tyrell
Margaery Tyrell learned her ways from the OG of Game of Thrones, Olenna Tyrell, so she’s got an upper hand on basically everyone else. On top of that, she comes from a wealthy family and is equally as beautiful as she is ambitious. As she once told Littlefinger, she doesn’t just want to be a queen but rather wants to be the queen. She was able to seduce Joffrey into a marriage, making her queen. This was short lived since Joffrey was poisoned at their wedding celebration. Margaery bounced back quickly and wasted no time in seducing Tommen, Joffrey’s little brother and the next heir to the throne. If anyone is keeping count, this is the third time that she’s situated herself to become the queen.
Her manipulation in an effort to win over whatever it is she is after is similar to that of Cersei, which is why Cersei sees her as such a threat. Margaery’s tactfulness and genuinely good heart helps set her a step ahead of Cersei. Also, Margaery’s charity work has made her a favorite of the common people in King’s Landing, a tool that should not be discounted.
2 Daenerys Targaryen
By this point, Daenerys has earned herself quite a few names: Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Dothraki, Breaker of Chains. I mean, she’s a queen, who frees the oppressed and has an army of dragons. Oh, yeah, and her abnormally high tolerance to heat. Dany has a lot going for her on the power front. She’s also a beauty and has used her physical attractiveness to her advantage when necessary, though, with dragons on your side, it isn’t often necessary to have to appeal to your looks.
Unfortunately, sometimes Dany’s attempts to administer justice and do what is right are naïve and show that she lacks the political skill that the of the other women on this list possess. When her kindness gets her in to trouble though, she still has her dragons. Another handicap is the fact that Targaryens have a history of going mad without any warning so there’s that.
1 Olenna Tyrell
For starters, Olenna Tyrell is really old, like really, really old for Game of Thrones standards. Basically, you’re lucky to live to 20 without being beheaded and Olenna has lived long enough to have wrinkles. In order to survive this long in The Seven Kingdoms, Olenna has used everything in her arsenal – her intellect, her wit, her womanly charms.
Olenna has a sharp political mind and uses her hot, young granddaughter Margaery Tyrell to further their family’s standing but not to a point without still genuinely caring for Margaery. Once she saw what a monster Joffrey was, she poisoned him to save Margaery from marrying him. So, Olenna killed Joffrey, the thing that 98% of the show’s characters and 100% of the show’s audience wanted to do since season one. Let's all applaud Olenna Tyrell. Also, taking down a king and getting away with it is a task only for the powerful. Oh, on top of all of that, she’s the matriarch of one of the richest families in the kingdoms.
Basically if anyone can live to be as old as Olenna Tyrell in this world, you’re one powerful woman.