The world of Game of Thrones is unforgiving. Status is everything and if you aren’t born into the right family, you might as well not matter. “Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls,” Cersei memorably says in one episode, and it’s hard to argue with her logic. But it’s not only women who are mistreated in Westeros. Everyone who is slightly different is subject to torture, especially at the hand of the most morally reprehensible characters.
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Among the main characters, the golden lions of the Rock and the Tyrells of Highgarden definitely have it better than everyone else. Bastards and broken things still manage to climb their way to the top, though, thanks to their cunning. And some even go on to become the most powerful individuals in the Seven Kingdoms.
Updated by Colin McCormick on September 8, 2021: The social ranking of the characters has always been a fascinating aspect of Game of Thrones. And with so many characters on the show, it’s worth taking an expanded look at how there can be such differences between them. This includes the characters who have been labeled as outcasts from regular society to those who were destined to rule all the characters in between. It is also interesting to see how those standings change as certain characters go on their respective journeys.
15 Jorah Mormont
Before the events of Game of Thrones, Jorah Mormont was the head of the respected House Mormont, but when the show begins, he has fallen considerably out of grace. After being charged with selling men into slavery, Jorah is ordered to be executed only to flee Westeros and his family.
Though he eventually joins Daenerys Targaryen’s campaign for the Iron Throne as a trusted advisor, his social standing doesn’t improve much. In fact, Barristan Selmy suggests having a disgraced exile by her side would hurt Daenerys’s rule in Westeros.
14 Theon Greyjoy
Theon Greyjoy is a prime example of how belonging to a great house does not necessarily earn respect. Theon is the heir of House Greyjoy despite having lived as a ward of House Stark for most of his life. Consequently, when he returns home, he is not respected by his people.
His standing only gets worse after he is captured and tortured by Ramsay Bolton. He is passed over as heir and dismissed as a traitor and coward. While Theon eventually finds redemption with the people he wronged, he never regains his former status.
13 Samwell Tarly
Sam is the perfect example of how Westeros can discard its so-called undesirables aside. Because of his lack of athleticism and his interest in learning rather than fighting, Sam is considered a disgrace to the Tarly family and is sent to the Wall, presumably to die.
Of course, Sam pulls through, kills a White Walker, and makes it all the way to become Grand Maester of King Bran, the Broken. Sam even fights in the Long Night and thanks to a thick case of plot armor, he comes out alive. Still, Sam is never actually respected or admired, even if he does improve his social standing.
12 Yara Greyjoy
Yara commands loyalty and allegiance from her men, who respect and follow her, no questions asked. And considering those are Ironborn she’s commanding, her leadership is all the more impressive. Her claim to the Salt Throne is not uncontested, though, and Euron actually manages to win the Kingsmoot.
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Yara eventually wins the Salt Throne by being the last Greyjoy standing and her place in the future Westeros seems secure. Supposing she also respects the promises she made to Daenerys, her new Kingdom will not loot, or rape, or raid anymore, which might not make her the most popular among the Ironborn. And considering the Iron Islands’ reputation, it might take a while before the rest of Westeros warms up to them.
As he explains in his famous speech, Littlefinger is an expert in using chaos to climb the social ladder. Indeed, it is quite remarkable how much his position improves over the course of the series.
Littlefinger begins as a brothel owner and Master of Coin for Robert Baratheon. However, with the right alliances and right betrayals, Littlefinger eventually becomes Lord of Harrenhal, then marries Lysa Arryn to become Lord of the Vale. His scheming serves him very well for a long time, but all that deception inevitably leads to his execution.
10 Arya Stark
As part of the powerful House Stark, Arya begins the series in a pretty secure place in society. Despite the fact that she is told what path she must follow as a girl, she still wields considerable power thanks to her family name. But once her father is killed, that power begins to fade.
From that point, Arya becomes a great example of someone who gains social status through force. She becomes one of the deadliest characters on the show and it almost feels like there is nothing that can stop her. From helping Sansa take the throne in Winterfell to killing the Night King, Arya is someone who commands respect through action.
9 Jon Snow
Being a bastard means that Jon Snow didn’t grow up as one of the happiest in Westeros. He wasn’t mistreated in Winterfell, but his place was never forgotten. As a member of the Night’s Watch, he grows to be admired and respected by his brothers (most of them, at least) but to the eyes of Westeros, he’s still nothing more than a bastard.
By season 7, Jon is the King in the North, acclaimed and followed by all the Northmen. He ruins his standing by bending the knee to Daenerys and by the end of the show, he’s a traitor with no place in Westerosi society. Sure, he’s more popular than ever with the free-folk, which is something. But when it comes to social standing, his popularity is always short-lived.
8 Doran Martell
Not much is done with the Dornish plot in Game of Thrones, to the show’s ultimate detriment. Dorne is one of Westeros’ most intriguing places, a seemingly independent kingdom that manages to withstand centuries of Targaryen and eventually Baratheon rule without ever getting involved or suffering greater casualties.
Within the show’s context, Prince Doran is described as weak and passive, which causes the Sand Snakes to dispose of him rather easily. Doran was still a Prince, respected, if not loved, by his people, which means his social standing was far better than some — but nowhere near as brilliant as others within Westeros as a whole.
7 Jaime Lannister
Jaime Lannister is one of those rare Game of Thrones characters who was given enormous power but doesn’t seem to want it. He was made heir of House Lannister but chose to be a knight in the Kingsguard, much to his father’s annoyance. Jaime’s reputation as a knight is also tarnished by rumors about his affair with Cersei and being dubbed the Kingslayer.
But even though people might not like Jaime, he still holds incredible power. Jaime is an incredibly skilled fighter and a military commander, and thus seen as one of Westeros’s most powerful figures. There are few bold enough to call him Kingslayer to his face.
6 Tywin Lannister
Tywin isn’t really loved — but he is feared. As one of the richest and most powerful men in all of Westeros, Tywin is famous for being cunning, ruthless, cruel, and merciless. He’ll kill anyone who gets in his way, men, women, and children alike. To him, people are but chess pieces to move and manipulate whenever convenient.
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Tywin isn’t particularly popular among the common folk, who care little about kings and successions. Westerosi nobility both respects and envies his standing and everyone knows he is not someone to mess with. It’s hard to believe that anyone other than his children was truly sad to see him die, though, and while he was one of the best players in the game, his pride cursed him with a shocking and overwhelming case of shortsightedness.
5 Cersei Lannister
Cersei outranks her father simply by outlasting him in the game. She has neither his smarts nor his cunning, but she has his pride and shamelessness. Cersei gets to the Iron Throne by choosing violence and fear, essentially intimidating all of King’s Landing into submission.
Even as Queen Mother, Cersei is never popular or loved. Unlike Tywin, she is not respected either. She is feared, though, something she uses time and again to get her way. She also has a small yet unwavering and surprisingly capable group of allies that always protect her interests, making her one of the most constant and influential figures in the game.
4 Margaery Tyrell
Margaery is, arguably, the best player in the game because she seems to understand every part of it. She is kind when needed, demure when necessary, yet always shrewd and alert, allowing herself to stay one step ahead of everyone else. Because of her innocent and charitable mask, Margaery gets the love that no one else seems to inspire, making her one of the most dangerous threats in Westeros.
It would’ve been fascinating to see Margaery participate in the Long Night. Alas, the writers had other plans and her character was disposed of in the most rushed way possible. Still, Margaery won not only the common folk’s love and the nobility’s admiration but also the audience’s heart.
3 Daenerys Targaryen
Before her character took such a dramatic turn in season 8, Daenerys seemed poised to become the ultimate Queen of Westeros. She inspired devotion unlike anyone before her, commanding waves of people to follow her and even submit to her rule.
A conqueror to the tee, Daenerys often allowed her emotions to get the best of her, which caused her more than her fair share of trouble. Still, she had the unique ability to lead by example, taking a softer and less violent approach than all her predecessors. Season 8, of course, threw all this out the window, but Daenerys’s followers stayed true and loyal to her until the very end.
2 Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion has got what it takes to be one of the most powerful figures in Westeros. He’s incredibly smart (most of the time), cunning, ruthless when necessary, and above all, likable. However, his dwarfism always made him unpopular, resulting in his family and society at large treating him with contempt and even fear.
Still, Tyrion uses his smarts to occupy several positions of power throughout Thrones’ run and excels in most of them. As Joffrey’s Hand of the King, he successfully plans King’s Landing defense against Stannis’ army, and as Daenerys’ Hand, he helps cement her power in Essos, even if he does become less useful once she arrives at Westeros. By the show’s end, Tyrion is Hand to yet another King and presumably much more popular than ever, even after his many mistakes and miscalculations throughout Game of Thrones.
1 Sansa Stark
Quite possibly the ultimate winner of the game, Sansa ends her story as the Queen in the North. Her will strengthened, she declares her Kingdom independent from Bran’s rule and even gets away with it, which no doubt guarantees the North’s blind and passionate devotion.
Sansa goes through one of the best and most chaotic journeys in the show. Through it all, she transforms from a spoiled and naive girl to a tough and resourceful young woman. She never loses her resolve or empathy towards others and actually gains wisdom and experience from her many unconventional teachers. Respected and loved by her people and admired by all of Westeros, Sansa proves once and for all that the Starks are the true winners of the game of thrones.
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About The Author
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David is a twenty-eight-year-old Mexican writer and reader. Having studied Marketing in school, he spent three years working a nine-to-five desk job before deciding to pursue a writing career. He now works as a Senior Writer in ScreenRant and does some more freelancing job, talking about the entertainment business he so loves. Currently, he’s also writing his second novel while actively working to get his first one published.
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