The long and winding road that was Game of Thrones featured many a romance along the way. While we don’t judge anyone’s cherished ships, some of those romances admittedly played better than others. (Jon and Ygritte, yay! Jon and Daenerys, ehh…) We here at EW voted on GOT‘s best couples, and we now present to you our picks for the top 10, along with a few not-so-hot duos we’ve deemed worthy of “dishonorable mentions.” (We’re not even touching the show’s most deeply problematic pairings — like anything involving Ramsay Bolton.) Read on to see the totally objective results.
BEST OF THE BEST: Jon Snow and Ygritte
Jon and Ygritte’s love story was one of Thrones‘ most emotionally involving romances. It had everything: a classic Romeo and Juliet setup (She’s a wildling! He’s a Night’s Watch brother!), genuine chemistry (Kit Harington and Rose Leslie became a real-life couple), a hot-spring hookup, and a heart-shattering tragic ending. Jon Snow knew one thing: he truly loved Ygritte. They’re our number one pick for GOT‘s best couple.
BEST: Arya and Gendry
While their hookup kinda came out of left field, Arya and Gendry had a palpable spark, grown out of the strong bond they developed traveling together in the show’s early seasons. In another life, they could have been a badass pair of warrior vigilantes, traipsing around Westeros fighting for justice. Can we get that spinoff, HBO? Working title: Needle and the Hammer.
BEST: Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand
Oberyn and Ellaria were the perfect couple, really. They shared a penchant for polyamory and a distaste for King’s Landing (well, except the brothels), as well as a love of the sensual pleasures of the world. If only they’d stayed in Dorne, they could have grown old living a life of ease together.
BEST: Sam and Gilly
Probably the sweetest and most innocent romance GOT had to offer. Sam became Gilly’s knight in shining armor…or at least, he did his best. Sometimes that’s all it takes! His determination to protect her grew into a beautiful relationship, responsible for many of the show’s most tender moments.
BEST: Daenerys and Khal Drogo
Despite a rather problematic beginning, Dany and Drogo’s pairing eventually blossomed into a genuine romance. She was the Moon of his life, he was her Sun and Stars; he promised to conquer Westeros for her, she tried to have a witch bring him back from the dead. If that’s not true love, what is?
BEST: Missandei and Grey Worm
Or maybe this was GOT‘s sweetest and most innocent romance? (At least until Grey Worm helped commit a massacre to avenge Missandei’s death.) Brought together under Daenerys’ banner, the two former slaves learned to make sense of their new lives through their relationship. The development and growth of that relationship was a beautiful thing to watch unfold.
BEST: Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell
Another romance tragically cut short (courtesy of Melisandre’s smoke monster baby; remember that?), Renly and Loras brought some much-needed gay pride to Westeros…or at least as much as could be had in a regressive society that considered them deviants.
BEST: Tyrion and Shae
Shae started out as simply Tyrion’s favorite prostitute, but their bond steadily grew during their time together in King’s Landing. With him despised by almost everyone in the capital and her a stranger in a strange land, they found solace in each other. Until she testified against him and he strangled her to death, that is. Well, that’s Game of Thrones for you.
BEST: Ned and Catelyn Stark
Ned and Catelyn had one of the richest and most nuanced relationships on Thrones, a bond tested by infidelity (or at least, so it seemed) that nonetheless held strong. It’s a shame we got to see so little of them together on the show.
BEST: Tyrion and Sansa
Admittedly, there wasn’t much to this relationship, but Tyrion and Sansa’s forced marriage helped her escape Joffrey’s cruelty, and Tyrion at least treated her with something close to respect. When we’re judging by Westeros standards, that more than qualifies them as one of the best couples out there.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Jaime and Brienne
Not unlike The West Wing‘s Josh and Donna, Jaime and Brienne were a better couple before they actually hooked up. Their odd-couple pairing became a magnificent slow burn of hatred into grudging respect into genuine affection, making for a tantalizing will-they-won’t-they. But having them actually sleep together was kinda weird, and Jaime leaving her to return to Cersei was a low point for both characters. But hey, we’ll always have that beautiful scene of him knighting her.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Cersei and Euron
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Jon Snow and Daenerys
It was pure fan-fiction fun seeing Jon and Daenerys get together. But factor in their familial relationship, Daenerys’ fiery pivot into mass murder, and Jon killing her “for the good of the realm,” and shipping them gets a lot harder to justify. We said it up top, and we’ll stand by it: Jon and Ygritte forever.