There are fandoms where you can float near the outer perimeter and gently observe at a distance. You follow the general plot, you know the major players, but you’re not too invested. Then there are the fandoms where as hard as you resist, you get sucked into the madness. Each week you bite your lip and wring your hands hoping and praying that character you finally started to feel attached to makes it through the next 45 minutes. No, I’m not talking about Grey’s Anatomy (although Shonda, seriously, give it a rest ok?) that’s child’s play next to the emotional rollercoaster that is Game of Thrones. With the days getting longer and warmer, naturally it’s time for people all over the world to huddle in front of their TVs trying to prepare as “Winter is coming.”
With a per episode production budget of $10 million, creators will be sparing no expense in bringing George R.R. Martin’s masterpiece to life. Below are pictures of our favourite women from GOT both on and off screen. Some of these women are completely unrecognizable without their intricate dresses (although we are now certainly familiar with the assets of some. Here’s looking at you Natalie Dormer). The results are just as sexy. Just without the blood and dirt and stuff.
10 Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)
Brienne of Tarth is by far the strongest woman physically on this list. In his books, George R.R. Martin describes her as being extremely unfeminine in appearance.
"She is very tall, muscular, flat-chested and ungainly, with straw-coloured hair and broad, coarse features that are covered in freckles. Her teeth are prominent and crooked, her mouth is wide, her lips are swollen, and her nose has been broken more than once."
Christie was expertly cast in this role, where her 6’3” frame and powerful performance have truly brought this character to life for 28 episodes. I never would have guessed that beneath the layers of dirt, steel and sweat, was the beautiful blonde goddess that is Gwendoline Christie. She truly is Brienne the Beauty.
9 Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)
Arya Stark is the third child of Lord Eddard Stark and Lady Catelyn Stark. She was born and raised in Winterfell. Played by Maisie Williams, Arya quickly became a fan favourite for rejecting the idea that she must use her family’s influence and power to become a lady and marry. (Sorry Sansa!) She takes great interest in history and warfare, and with her father’s permission began combat lessons that have had us on the edge of our seats for 40 episodes. Williams wowed even the toughest critics by choosing to learn all of her insanely choreographed combat skills as a lefty, despite being right handed! She has single handily redefined fighting like a girl.
8 Ygritte (Rose Leslie)
Ygritte is a woman of the Free Folk, who reside north of The Wall. She is part of Mance Rayder's army and becomes the lover of Jon Snow. Because you know what that situation needed? Definitely the added complication of romance. Thanks George, we’ve put up with a lot from you, but that one hurt! Ygritte was brought to life by Rose Leslie, who almost made trudging through snowy mountains look natural. As the shortest surviving character on this list, she appeared in a mere 17 episodes. She will live forever as millions of memes of her infamous line, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Game of Thrones was definitely a change of pace for Leslie, who prior to this portrayed Gwen Dawson on Downton Abbey, where her fans rejoiced the return of her character for season 6.
7 Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel)
A slave who served as an interpreter to the masters of Astapor, Missandei now serves Daenerys as her trusted advisor and Handmaiden. She is fluent in 19 languages, making her the ultimate sidekick, which is intimidating enough. Add the fact that her character is only 11 years old; we’re in a whole new league. She has survived 22 episodes, and is portrayed by Nathalie Emmanuel. Emmanuel had plenty of acting experience prior to Game of Thrones, but it is considered her major break. She is also noted for her portrayal of Ramsey, in Furious 7 where her experience playing opposite major acting powerhouses clearly showed.
6 Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley)
Catelyn Stark was the wife of Lord Eddard Stark. Portrayed by Michelle Fairley, she was unfortunately one of many casualties of the infamous “Red Wedding”. She was in 25 episodes, and was easily a fan favourite because of her love and devotion to her family, especially her children. When asked her thoughts on the “Red Wedding” Fairley stated “That was a lovely wedding! (laughs) I particularly liked the bride, I thought her dress was lovely.”
So at least you know she had a sense of humour about it. She’s been in high demand since her exit from the show. Her list of work includes several episodes on Suits, as well as a short time on 24.
5 Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer)
Margaery Tyrell is the only daughter of Lady Alerie Tyrell and Lord Mace Tyrell. She is described as having thick, softly curling brown hair, large brown eyes, unblemished skin and a slender yet shapely figure. She is portrayed by Natalie Dormer, and appears in 22 episodes. Dormer’s performance always demands the attention of the viewer no matter the scenario. Natalie has had an extremely busy filming schedule outside of Game of Thrones, appearing in The Hunger Games: The Mocking Jay Part 2, as well as several TV shows including Elementary, and Silk. She most recently made headlines for completing the 2016 London Marathon with a time of 3 hours 51 minutes, as an effort to help raise money for NSPCC’s ChildLine – a confidential service allowing children to talk to counsellors in a private and confidential environment. You know, just in case you needed another reason to swoon.
4 Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)
Sansa Stark is the second child of Lady Catelyn and Lord Eddard Stark. She is the older sister of Arya Stark, and may honestly have the worst luck of anyone in Westeros. Seriously, want to start compare exes? She is portrayed by Sophie Turner and has appeared in 41 heart-wrenching episodes. Turner hasn’t done much work outside of her busy Game of Thrones schedule, but we can’t wait to watch her kick some major butt on the big screen as Jean Grey in a small upcoming film called X-men Apocalypse.
3 Melisandre (Carice van Houten)
Melisandre, is a major advisor to Stannis Baratheon in his campaign to take the Iron Throne. She is a Priestess of the Light, and claims to wield powerful magical abilities, particularly the power of prophecy. Carice van Houten, who has appeared in 19 episodes, brings her to life. She is also often referred to as the Red Woman. She is named as such for her long crimson hair, and matching flowing dress and cape. Van Houten seems to have two wardrobes for this franchise: that dress, and nothing. Fans seem equally pleased with both options. Carice has appeared in many international roles, but on this side of the pond, we patiently await what will be an amazing appearance in the thriller Brimstone, coming out later this year.
2 Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)
Cersei Lannister, portrayed by Lena Heady, is the Dowager Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, and widow of King Robert Baratheon. Love her or hate her, she is clearly a polarizing character in this franchise and has survived an intense 46 episodes. Fans were amazed each week to see the intricate way Cersei Lannister’s cascading blonde hair was styled. Since Cersei’s arrest, her hair was cut short, which now more closely resembles Headey’s real life ‘do. Cersei has been on quite the journey this past season, and Headey is definitely excited for where the show is going. She said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly,
“It just keep getting better. It’s so juicy, and it’s so f–king dark, and so emotionally clever, in this landscape. It sounds so cheesy, but I’m really grateful to be part of something so cherished.”
1 Daenerys Targaeryen (Emilia Clarke)
Played by Emilia Clarke, Daenerys Targaeryen has overcome obstacle after obstacle in her 42-episode life on Game of Thrones. Not only has she persevered through the tragic deaths of both her husband Khal Drogo, and their unborn child, but she also continues to outwit and out scheme the many men who try to take advantage of her. Apparently no one heard about what happened to her brother. Outside of the Realm of Westeros, Clarke appeared in Terminator Genisys as Sarah Connor. Emilia has no plans to return for future Terminator films. When asked about the project she said “No. Uh-uh. But I have some very different roles coming up.”
I guess it’s safe to say, she won’t be back.