Game of Thrones was known as a series that was filled with complex characters. Both the heroes and villains had layers that made it not always so clear-cut who the fans should cheer for and against. But there were also certain villains who really stood out as particularly bad at certain points in the show.
Each season of Game of Thrones featured plenty of nefarious characters, but there was always one villain who rose to the top. Through their interesting storylines and particularly evil deeds, these baddies were the kind of characters that were so good at being horrible.
8 Season 1: Joffrey Baratheon
It didn’t take long for fans to absolutely loath Joffrey Baratheon in the first season, as he came off as an arrogant and self-satisfied prince who was also hiding the fact that he was a pathetic coward. But as annoying and sniveling as he was, few Game of Thrones fans expected what he did at the end of season 1.
After being named king following Robert Baratheon’s death, Joffrey had Ned Stark arrested and called for him to make a public confession to treason. Fearing for the safety of his daughters, Ned confessed only for Joffrey to go back on his promise of mercy and have him executed. In one horrific moment, Joffrey made Game of Thrones an unpredictable show and became its most hated character.
7 Season 2: Theon Greyjoy
Theon Greyjoy was a fairly overlooked side character in the first season only for his role to expand in some exciting ways in season 2. Tasked with recruiting the Iron Islands to Robb Stark’s war effort, Theon returned to the home he left as a child and found that he was not respected there by the people or his family.
Theon’s struggle between being a Stark or a Greyjoy made him one of the most tragic villains in the series. Season 2 found him doing some truly terrible things and making one bad decision after another. Remarkably, while the audience hated him by the end of the season, the show still managed to find him redemption later on.
6 Season 3: Walder Frey
When introduced in season 1 of Game of Thrones, Walder Frey seemed like a disgusting old man who was nowhere near as important as he saw himself. However, by season 3, Lord Frey proved that trusting him was one of the worst decisions any character made in the entire series.
Though Robb Stark was wrong for breaking his promise to wed Frey’s daughter, the reaction was quite disproportionate. At the Red Wedding, Frey had Robb, his mother, his pregnant wife, and his entire army wiped out. Seeing Frey sip his wine as he gleefully watched the slaughter made fans’ blood boil with rage.
5 Season 4: Tywin Lannister
Tywin Lannister had cemented himself as one of the most ruthless men in Westeros very early on. He was responsible for a number of terrible things, including being the true mastermind behind the Red Wedding. But season 4 showed how evil he could be towards his own children.
The relationship between Tywin and Tyrion was a huge focus of the season as Tywin used the trial of Joffrey’s murder as an excuse to rid himself of his disappointing son. The final confrontation between them showed that Tywin was a heartless man right down to his defiant final moments.
4 Season 5: Ramsay Bolton
When introduced in season 3, Ramsay Bolton wasted little time establishing himself as the most sadistic villain in the series with his gruesome torture of Theon. However, season 5 showed his cruelty grow to target other fan-favorite characters.
Seeing Sansa Stark forced to marry the vicious Ramsay clearly hinted at terrible things to come. Sure enough, Ramsay was responsible for some of the most controversial and sickening scenes, including their traumatic wedding night. He often made the show hard to watch while also making fans eagerly await his demise.
3 Season 6: Cersei Lannister
Cersei Lannister is another character who had been a terrific villain from the very beginning of the show. However, season 6 delivered some of the very best Cersei moments of the series and her arc throughout it was one of the most thrilling storylines.
Though she spent much of the season with her back against the wall in her fight with the High Sparrow, it was clear Cersei was not going to go quietly. Indeed, her eventual revenge plan was appropriately epic and seeing her seat herself on the Iron Throne showed that she was a far greater threat than she had been given credit for.
2 Season 7: The Night King
As the various characters jostled for power and fought over thrones, there was always a foreboding threat hanging over everything. The Night King and his army took their time emerging in the show but he made his presence known in season 7.
As he led his undead and seemingly unstoppable army towards the realms of men, the Night King only added to his power by killing and claiming one of Daenerys’s dragons for himself. As the season ended with the Night King bringing down the Wall, he became the most powerful villain of the show, even if that promise perhaps wasn’t fulfilled.
1 Season 8: Daenerys Targaryen
When watching the first season of Game of Thrones, few fans would have predicted that Daenerys Targaryen would be the final villain of the series. But as her path to the Iron Throne got darker and more violent, Daenerys took a shocking turn in the final episodes.
The arc remains one of the most controversial aspects of the final season and it is hard to deny that it feels rushed. However, after spending many seasons cheering Daenerys on as she used her power to conquer her enemies, it was interesting to see that change as she aimed her power at innocent people.