Game of Thrones: the characters we love and hate
We take a look at the best and worst traits of the series’ five most conflicting characters
So, you love Game of Thrones. When somebody tells you they haven’t seen it, you get on your high horse (or direwolf, depending on how committed you are to the whole thing), call your banners and seek to put an end to such injustice.
You explain to them that the series is much more than dragons and nudity: it’s also about the blurred line between right and wrong, the quest for familial supremacy and the existential struggle we all face as we try to find out rightful place in the world. Oh, and there’s some murder, incest and a scene where a man has his skull squeezed in. But you still love it, right?
Just as the series’ plot line can challenge your moral compass, so can its characters. Here, we look at how some of the most conflicting personalities can be hated and loved at the same time, using only scenes that appear in both the books and the TV show.
Reasons to hate: Let’s start with how he got that ‘Kingslayer’ nickname: by (literally) stabbing the King he had sworn to protect in the back, and transferring his allegiance to Robert Baratheon. He also gave Ned Stark a nasty leg injury and pushed wee Bran from a window after the little scamp saw him doing the dirty with his own sister Cersei, with whom he has three illegitimate children.
Reasons to love: Kingslayer he may be, but he insists he only killed Aerys to prevent him from murdering all of King’s Landing with that green fire Tyrion’s so fond of. Now nobody’s saying he should be shacking up with his sister (absolutely nobody is saying that) but he is loyal to Cersei and their children, and has never taken another lover besides her. He also proves his loyalty to Tyrion when he helps him to escape from his unjust imprisonment, and to Brienne when he protects her from rape, the perils of the road, and from being eaten by a large bear whilst wearing a hideous pink frock.
Reasons to hate: Having facilitated her husband’s death (wild boar attack, ouch), she continued to have an affair with her own brother. When he was captured, she moved on to her ever-so young-looking cousin. Stay classy, Cersei. Love life aside, she oversaw a massacre of all Baratheon bastards, tormented her brother Tyrion in a number of ways (from falsely accusing him of murder, to having women savagely beaten to spite him) and her tongue is more poisonous than Blackwater Bay.
Reasons to love: She loves her children and will do anything to protect them, from installing the best members of the Kingsguard to stand by their side, to seeking revenge on those she believes has wronged them (though she does go too far sometime – leave Tyrion and his lady loves alone.) She believes that women should have equal power to men, and does a confident job as Queen Regent. Plus, she always has impeccable hair.
Reasons to hate: He knows nothing, for one. Well, given the amount of times he’s broke his Night’s Watch vows, he certainly seems to know nothing about keeping promises. He swears that the Watch are his family, and then tries to bolt in the night to help his brother Robb avenge their father. He also gets hot and heavy with Ygritte under that animal skin of hers, before leaving to fight for her enemies. Plus, let’s face it, he is a little big for his boots. Too good to be a steward are you, Lord Snow?
Reasons to love: His vow-keeping record is poor, but that’s only because he is conflicted about doing the right thing. He leaves Castle Black to help the Starks, he lives and sleeps with the wildlings (one wildling in particular) in order to better understand the forthcoming attack on the wall, and he volunteered himself to the Watch for the good of the realm and his family, where he knew he would always be the outsider. Plus, Ghost loves him, so he can’t be that bad.
Reasons to hate: He tricked Ned Stark into trusting him and subsequently facilitated his arrest after Robert Baratheon’s death. He tries to put the moves on Catelyn Stark whilst bringing her the bones of her dead husband, and when she rejected him, he married her sister (whom he later murdered when she caught him necking Catelyn’s daughter, Sansa). He’s self-serving, manipulative and untrustworthy. And, let’s face it, that moustache does him no favours. Distrusting him is the wisest thing you’ll ever do.
Reasons to love: He is extremely intelligent and understands the value of knowledge. His character enables some of the most interesting plot twists in the series (such as his scheme to free Sansa and his help in putting the Lannisters on the throne) and he will always keep you guessing: where does his allegiance truly lie?
Sandor Clegane (The Hound)
Reasons to hate: He has no qualms about killing, and even seems to take some pleasure in it. He runs down Mycah, the innocent butcher’s boy, which earns him a lifetime spot on Arya’s ‘to kill’ list. For a long time he was Joffrey’s right hand man, following through with his unethical commands, and working as a paid killer of sorts. He kidnaps Arya in an effort to win a ransom from her family, and frequently steals in order to serve his own interests.
Reasons to love: He helps Sansa (his ‘little bird’) to survive her relationship with Joffrey by offering advice, he protects her from rape and later offers to help her escape from the Lannisters. He sees sense and abandons Joffrey (with a glorious parting shot of ‘Fuck the King’), and therefore consciously removes his affiliation with the Lannisters’ unethical actions in King's Landing. Technically, he does abduct Arya, but he also looks after her, and towards the end they develop something of a father-daughter relationship. Plus, he is extremely protective of his chicken. Don’t ever take his chicken.
Confusing, eh? Good luck deciding how you feel about the lot of ‘em before season five starts.
Game of Thrones | Season 5 Trailer (HBO)