Keeping track of all the characters on Game of Thrones is not unlike climbing the Wall: a herculean task that few have attempted, and even fewer have pulled off. So no one would blame you for forgetting some (or more) of the fringe players who have weaved in and out of the show over the years.
But EW, like the North, remembers. And with the final season nigh upon us, we thought it would be an apt time to look back at, and rank, some of our favorite GoT supporting characters. You won’t find names like Missandei, Bronn, or Oberyn Martell on this list — we stuck to folks who were off the beaten path, whose impacts on the story were more subtle, and some of whom we felt had been unfairly denied the spotlight.
So, enjoy (and then proceed to Twitter to tell us why we’re wrong).
10. Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli)
Robin makes this list for one reason only: the immortal line “Mummy, I want to see the bad man fly!”
9. Ros (Esmé Bianco)
Who weeps for Ros? The redheaded prostitute met an abrupt demise in season 3, and was at the center of one of the show’s biggest early-season controversies, the infamous practice of sexposition. (Her “audition” scene with Littlefinger in season 1 prompted critic Myles McNutt to coin that term.) But Ros made an effective guide to the underworld of King’s Landing, a helpful familiar face in a sea of… other faces. She was also the only prostitute character besides Shae to be given much substance, eventually becoming a spy for Varys. Sadly, Ros hasn’t been around to benefit from Thrones’ late-stage girl-power revolution — Littlefinger gave her to Joffrey when he discovered her betrayal, and you can guess how that turned out.
8. Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong)
A revered and highly skilled ranger of the Night’s Watch, Qhorin valiantly gave his life for the greater good of the plot. Back when Jon Snow really knew nothing, Qhorin helped convince the Wildlings that the Bastard of Winterfell had abandoned the Watch… by feigning a duel and goading Jon into killing him. The ruse worked, of course, and thus began Jon’s season-long adventure in love and Wall-climbing. We’ll always remember Qhorin for his sacrifice, and for his poignant if not particularly original last words: “We are the watchers on the Wall.”
7. Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully (Clive Russell)
Maybe the best-nicknamed character on GoT (besides Dany “Mother of Dragons” Targaryen, obviously), the Blackfish belongs to a fairly populous character category, the frank and loyal tough guy. (See also: Bronn, Yohn Royce.) But he earns points for escaping the Red Wedding in the most ignoble way possible: He picked just the right moment to wander outside and “find a tree to piss on.” Thanks to that magnificent stroke of luck, he was able to seize Riverrun from the Freys in season 6. (Thrones’ plant-and-payoff game really has been superb.) Alas, he met an also-ignoble end, killed at the hands of common foot soldiers. But his name, or at least his nickname, will live on.
6-5. Myrcella Baratheon (Aimee Richardson/Nell Tiger Free) and Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram)
It’s a hard world for little things in Westeros. Well, it’s a hard world for everybody, but especially little things. There’s no better proof of that than the sad, twin tales of Myrcella and Shireen Baratheon, two kind and innocent girls who met brutal ends via kiss-poison and burning alive, respectively. The princesses were responsible for some of the show’s most genuinely tender moments (remember when Shireen taught Ser Davos how to read?), and gave us hope that the future was female and maybe a whole lot more pleasant in the Seven Kingdoms. Alas, Game of Thrones can never let us hold on to hope for long.
4. Izembaro (Richard E. Grant)
Before he became an Oscar nominee, Richard E. Grant stepped into the world of Thrones to let us know that, yes, artistic divas exist even in Westeros. Izembaro is the resident playwright and lead actor in a Braavosi theater troupe, constantly assailing his fellows for “not ringing true” and, you know, having ideas. (“You have no right to an opinion!”) While he’d likely be insufferable in real life (you just know he’d be the type to never shut up about his terrible podcast), Grant makes Izembaro’s sniping riotously entertaining. (“Oh, we’re all thinkers now, are we?”) And his death scene as Tywin Lannister deserves whatever version of a Tony they have in Braavos.
3. Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey)
Then again, sometimes little things can get by in Westeros if they’re tough enough. Much like the Blackfish, the 10-year-old Lady of Bear Island doesn’t take guff from anybody, including the Starks. Pragmatic, sharp, and refreshingly blunt, Lyanna would make a better ruler of the Seven Kingdoms than most of those in contention. She’s also relentlessly quotable: “I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me.” “I think we’ve had enough small talk. Why are you here?” Truly an icon for our times.
2. Yoren (Francis Magee)
Jaqen H’ghar had a more memorable schtick, sure. But Yoren was just as important in getting us the Arya Stark we have today. Bold statement, we know, but hear us out. Yoren helped Arya evade capture twice — first directly, by smuggling her out of King’s Landing in a company of Night’s Watch recruits, then indirectly, as the disguise he gave her ensured Tywin Lannister didn’t recognize her at Harrenhal. Yoren also brought Arya and Jaqen together in the first place (the Faceless Man was in that same group of recruits as a prisoner) and even inspired a girl’s ritual of repeating her kill list while falling asleep. On top of all that, Yoren died trying to protect Gendry from Lannister soldiers, and he made sure Arya didn’t watch her father’s execution. That’s about as decent as men come in Westeros these days. Except for…
1. Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey)
Who doesn’t love a heaping helping of Hot Pie? Setting aside the sheer hilarity of that moniker (especially on a show featuring names like Kraznys mo Nakloz), Hot Pie proves worthy of it as the Inn at the Crossroads’ resident baker. His pies and direwolf-shaped bread loaves have satiated many a weary traveler (including Brienne and Podrick!). Plus, he helped steer Arya back toward Winterfell upon her return to Westeros in season 7. Hot Pie is that rarest of creatures: a standup guy with a steady job, who can cook to boot! If HBO ever greenlights The Great Westeros Bake-Off, hosted by Hot Pie, we’re there.
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