Game of Thrones is known for its array of complex, diverse, and often troubled heroes. A key component in both Martin's novels, as well as the HBO show, is its portrayal of interesting, realistic characters. This means that, by and large, most reside in a sort of moral "grey area." Indeed, GoT's pure, flawless heroes and straight-up evil mustache twirlers are few and far between.
Naturally, these traits - and the show's generally dark themes - has set the stage for some memorable, badass antiheroes. These are often dual characters that fans can't help but root for. Despite their negative traits or malignant ways, they usually have redeemable qualities as well.
Let's explore 10 of the best, most interesting antiheroes this highly-populated show has to offer.
Bronn can really be described as this show's version of Han Solo, being a sort of rogue swashbuckler with a heart of gold. The final two seasons notwithstanding - viewers got a sense that despite this mercenary's smug demeanor and lack of empathy, he has a good streak to him.
This is exemplified by his friendship with Tyrion and Jaime, both of whom he's helpful and loyal to in their time of need. This carefree, wisecracking antihero provides plenty of entertaining moments, "taking the edge off" from this somewhat grim show with bouts of comic relief.
There's something both comforting and subtly eerie about this powerful priestess of the Lord of Light. On the one hand, she has no qualms about literally birthing shadow babies to slay a rival power in Westeros or burning a child alive. On the other - she single handedly revived one of the show's biggest heroes in Jon Snow, and was a pretty major player in the war against the Walkers.
One gets the sense that despite her sinister ways at times, there's an underlying desire to enact positive change, even if it's often misguided. This all stems from her unwavering faith in her religion and her genuine belief that the influence of the Red God must be spread for the good of humankind.
8 Theon Greyjoy
It's easy to dislike this Westeros pirate in the early part of GoT. After all, he attempted to overthrow Winterfell and kill the young Stark boys - in the midst of Rob being occupied in his campaign to the south.
Still, his turbulent life and agonizing torture at the hands of Ramsay tends to make it a bit easier to empathize with him. Even in his more humble youth, he was essentially an outcast in Stark captivity. His villainous ways getting outdone by Ramsay and thrown back at him causes him to be more introspective.
His rough experience in the middle seasons certainly makes him more thoughtful and injects some depth to his character. He largely comes full circle by series end, rising from the ashes of his broken state and cowardice, while regaining some strength and loyalty.
Similar to Melisandre, Varys' cold, malignant bouts are usually for a higher, and ultimately benign cause when they do occur. In the case of this former slave eunuch, the ultimate goals are to serve the realm - and by association - the people.
While a "peacekeeper" might be the wrong terminology, he at least seeks a stable and secure realm full of thriving citizens. This desire was spurred following his run-ins with blood magic rituals and the chaos surrounding the Mad King, as well as his violent overthrow.
He's a whisperer and a bringer of wisdom - and one that plays a large role in the events of the show.
6 Tywin Lannister
The Lannister Lion patriarch is largely framed as a villain, and in many ways he is - certainly to Robb Stark and company. Yet, his stoic, "get right to business" demeanor and his drive to elevate his family makes him at least a tinge admirable.
Unlike, the maniacal Joffrey, who's hellbent on dominating anything and everything, Tywin keeps a cool, clear head and always examines the bigger picture. His unbreakable spirit makes him a dangerous, but thoughtful military tactician and Warden - one Cersei looks up to and learns from.
5 Jaime Lannister
It's tough to look past the (quite literal) incestuous relationship between Jaime and his sister Cersei, as is his palpable smugness in the early seasons. But somehow, some way, Martin and the showrunners managed to make this Kingsguard and ex-Hand interesting - even likable.
Like Theon, it took some brutal bouts of humble pie for the Kingslayer to soften up - namely his prolonged captivity and a severed hand. Still, after these events, Jaime seems to be reborn, as he experiences what it's like to be presented with real hardships. Though he does come full circle in retreating back to Cersei, his transformation from villain to charming antihero is a memorable one.
4 Arya Stark
If there's a Stark that can be considered an antihero, the innocent child-turned-assassin Arya is it.
It's easy to root for this lone wolf and fighter given the grim events in her journey. Her friendly nature and loyalty to family is balanced with a cold streak and unshakable desire for vengeance. This duality makes her a memorable antihero, especially as she continues to grow both physically and mentally. Over time, she becomes battle-hardened by her trials with the Faceless Men and elsewhere.
While she's capable of depraved actions, it's partly understandable given all she's had to go through - and who most of her victims are.
3 Sandor Clegane
This warrior, appropriately nicknamed "The Hound," sees quite the transformation throughout GoT. His character arc is one of the more memorable ones, as he shifts from Kingsguard to rebel fighter to a reborn, compassionate man of the Brotherhood.
His relentless, violent nature and strength is conveyed by his rugged appearance, punctuated by a partly-burned face. His brutish ways are juxtaposed by a troubled past and fear of fire. At the same time, this stoic fighter doesn't take himself too seriously, providing plenty of zingers and quips which have taken on meme status.
Acting as sort of a counterpart to Varys, Littlefinger is a similarly influential GoT figure who pulls various strings behind the scenes. But unlike Varys, who's namely looking out for the people at large, Littlefinger is mostly out for himself. Even his occasional heroic moments - like his bringing the Vale army to aid Jon - are done to ultimately elevate him.
With his underhanded, astute ways, interesting backstory, and amusing motives, Petyr Baelish is one of the most consistently strong antiheroes, right up until his death.
1 Tyrion Lannister
He may be seen as a full-blown hero by some, and indeed, is probably the most virtuous Lannister. Still, as viewers know, Tywin's youngest son isn't exactly angelic or pure. He uses his sharp wit, frankness, and indulgences of wine and escorts to deal with his size inadequacies. These are traits that make him fairly easy to empathize with, while also giving him a tinge of "moral greyness."
Still, he does have a more prominent dark side that comes forward at times, particularly when he murders both his lover and father in the same evening.
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