It’s true that bad things frequently happen to many good characters on Game of Thrones, but it’s the times the bad guys get punished that keep us coming back.
At some point or another, every Game of Thrones fan has either said or been told, “Oh, you started Game of Thrones? Well, don’t get attached to anyone!”
It’s so commonplace for a beloved character to die, for the underdog to stay an underdog, for the bad to succeed, and sometimes it’s too much. Sometimes we need relief, a moment to remind us that anyone can fall, not just those we like. And though those moments seem few and far between, they have happened.
At a time when all seems dismal, let’s take a look at 10 characters we were happy to see get a punishment befitting their offenses. This article is up to date through Game of Thrones season 7.
It took some time before we were endeared to Jaime. For a while he was thought of as an arrogant-jerk-child-killer who has a gross relationship with his sister and attacked our beloved Ned Stark. But any negative feelings harbored for him changed in season 3. In fact, the moment he got his comeuppance is right around the time we started to like him. It was bittersweet. We had mixed feelings for him. So, in season 3, Jaime got his hand chopped off, and not just any hand, his sword hand.
For Jaime, that’s the ultimate punishment, but it did wonders for his character. Losing his hand seemed to humble him (enough) and made him more vulnerable. It’s important to note that Brienne also helped bring out a nicer Jaime. Does losing his hand make up for trying to kill Bran? Maybe, maybe not. But it certainly seems like he’s trying to be a better person.
While many people never liked Theon to begin with, he wasn’t a bad person at the start. Perhaps he was gross, sleazy, and generally unlikeable, but it wasn’t until he betrayed Robb that he became hateful. He decided to side with a father who cared nothing for him, instead of the man who was like a brother to him.
More than that, he attempted to kill Bran and Rickon, two others who were like brothers, and seized their home. Let’s not forget he had two farm boys burned as well. So when Ramsay came into the picture, it felt justified. Someone who hurt the Starks actually got punished.
Nobody likes Pycelle. He’s a slimy old man who’s under Cersei’s thumb, of course he’s not liked. So of course we all cheered in season 2 when Tyrion became Hand of the King and cleaned house. The moment Tyrion called out Pycelle for lying to him, and had him unseated from the small council and thrown in jail, may have been a small victory, but it felt good nonetheless. A favorite character took charge over a rotten character.
The big victory then came in season 6, when Cersei had finally had enough of Pycelle’s devious antics. Presumably on Cersei’s orders, Qyburn orchestrated Pycelle’s demise by luring him away, and instructing children to stab him to death. It wasn’t the most pleasant death scene, seeing children be so violent, but it’s for the best that he’s finally out of the picture.
Viserys presented one of the first moments of retribution. We hated Viserys as quickly as we loved Daenerys. To see a sweet, innocent young girl mistreated by her brother, by the only family she had, easily put Viserys on our naughty list. He was a whiney, entitled brat, who treated his sister worse than dirt. His death was pure gold. It was our first time seeing a bad guy get what he deserved, and it was also a large turning point for the show, introducing us to even more crazy deaths to come.
You know, the crazy one who breastfed her way-too-old son? Yeah, that one. Lysa tried to have Tyrion killed with very little evidence held against him, and she refused to send troops to help Robb and Catelyn in the war. Comparatively, she certainly wasn’t among the worst characters, even if she was lacking a little oxygen in the brain.
Justice for her wasn’t at the forefront of our minds. But when she attempted to kill Sansa out of petty jealousy, that was too far. The relief when Littlefinger stepped in was felt by all, and when he pushed Lysa out the Moon Door, we couldn’t help feeling shocked and maybe more than a little glad. It was yet another small victory, but by season 4, we took what we could get.
Slynt had a downward spiral that was glorious to see. He, along with his men, attacked Ned Stark and killed his men, he led the massacre of Robert Baratheon’s bastard children, he tried to have Jon Snow executed, and to top it all off, he’s a completely hypocritical coward. When he finally pushed too far, he got what he deserved, at the hands of none other than Jon Snow. It was the perfect payback for the wrongs Slynt did to Ned.
Although an ally of the Night’s Watch, Craster is a disgusting, unsavory man. He beds his daughters, what more is there to know? So when he met his end in season 3, we were joyous. Unfortunately, it was fellow creep Karl who got to deliver the deathblow. Vengeance would have been sweeter if one of the daughter-wives did it, but we won’t complain too much. To see such an immoral character meet his demise, resulting in many abused women finally achieving freedom, was liberating enough.
It’s been a long time coming but Cersei finally got what she deserved. Aside from being an absolutely miserable character that we love to hate, her despicable deeds are endless. She openly went after our favorite characters, actions that are completely unacceptable. She had Robert Baratheon killed, Ned Stark arrested, she tried her damnedest to have Tyrion killed time and again, and hypocritically had Loras Tyrell arrested for crimes (in this setting) equal to her own. That’s just to name a few. When she finally got arrested this season, we all pumped our fists in the air with glee. Finally the troublemaker had to pay for her crimes.
Tywin was difficult to pinpoint at first. Initially, we weren’t sure what to make of his relationship with Tyrion. Did he love him? Did he hate him? What’s more, his interactions with Arya were rather sweet. But we couldn’t forget that he was in opposition to Robb Stark, and that automatically puts him on the ‘bad’ list.
His opinion of Tyrion quickly became apparent by the end of season 2, and if there was any doubt, the ruthlessness with which he had Robb and Catelyn Stark, and all their men, killed, really sealed the deal. We prayed for his death and by the end of season 4, our wish was granted in the best way possible. Dignified Tywin Lannister died quite indignantly on a porcelain throne, at the hands of his ‘disappointing’ son. Now that’s justice.
Joffrey Baratheon’s death was probably the happiest moment for every Game of Thrones fan. For a while, it seemed as if the most despised character of the show would never get his comeuppance. His crimes and cruelty are uncountable. Death alone would not suffice. After all the terrible things that have happened to favorite characters, many times at the hands (or command) of Joffrey himself, a slow, painful death was the only way to satisfy us. Fortunately, that’s exactly what we got.
Viewers everywhere were morbidly delighted to see Joffrey kick the bucket. Not only was Sansa finally free of his torment, the Kingdom was also out of the hands of a tyrant. Bye Joffrey. Wasn’t nice knowing you.
The shoeless High Sparrow was just one of many who fell victim to Cersei’s hot, green plan. Most of those who burned alive from the wildfire were innocent people of King’s Landing, as well as almost all of the Tyrell family. It also indirectly killed Tommen. Having witnessed the Great Sept exploding, knowing everyone died because of his own mother, Tommen killed himself.
Not all those we lost during the destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor was a loss though. The High Sparrow may have been the only casualty we welcomed, but it was better than nothing. Having worked with Cersei to imprison Margaery and Loras Tyrell, the High Sparrow wasn’t going to be winning any popularity awards. Even when he had Cersei arrested, as triumphant as that was, his smugness tarnished the victory. But we’ll no longer have to suffer that smirk, for this bird has flown the coop.
Fans have been calling for Walder Frey’s head since season 3’s the Red Wedding. He carried out the hit on the King in the North, the King in the North’s wife, the matriarch of the North, a direwolf, fetus Ned Stark, and all Northern men in his hall.
Being one of the many on Arya’s kill list, any death wouldn’t have sufficed for Walder Frey. The only satisfying death for Walder would be at the hands of Arya, and fortunately, Game of Thrones delivered. Not only did Arya slice Walder’s throat, she first fed him meat pies, sprinkled with his family. Arya clearly wanted to savor the moment.
Melisandre is the reason Shireen Baratheon is dead. Jon probably should have had her executed in season 6, instead of just banished. She had just brought Jon back to life though, so maybe he was feeling generous.
For a long time it was believed that Melisandre was a fake Red Priestess. Aside from her shadow baby, we never saw her do anything magical, or see proof of any of her predictions. She spent many seasons on Game of Thrones wrongly believing Stannis was the reincarnation of Azor Ahai. She convinced Stannis to sacrifice many innocent people in honor of the Lord of Light, all for nothing.
It took until season 6 for Melisandre to do something we could cheer for, not to mention for her to finally get her predictions right. We won’t miss her counsel, even if we’re grateful for her last act of bringing Jon and Dany together.
Nobody is allowed to be abusive to Samwell Tarly and get away with it. Watching Randyll get roasted by Drogon was so satisfying, if only it weren’t so quick.
There was very little to love about Randyll Tarly. Our first introduction to him in season 1 certainly did nothing to endear us to him. Sam told Jon his father was so disgusted by him that he ordered Sam to join the Night’s Watch, else he’d hunt him down and kill him.
When we finally met him in season 6, Randyll was just as charming as Sam described. He berated and made fun of Sam in front of his entire family, and Gilly, simply because he prefers books to swords. Sam didn’t deserve the upbringing he had, but Randyll deserved the ending he had. Burn, baby, burn.
The man who started it all finally met his end. After 7 seasons of machinations that resulted in many deaths, exiles, and betrayals, Littlefinger’s tricks caught up with him. Since Game of Thrones started, his biggest weakness has always been his obsession with Sansa, and ultimately she was his downfall.
Baelish thought too highly of himself and pushed his luck (and Sansa) too far. No amount of scheming was going to come between the love of these two sisters. They saw right through him, and played him like he thought he was playing them. The fake feud between Arya and Sansa may have been one of the weirder, less interesting storylines in any season of Game of Thrones, but it culminated in one of the most satisfying scenes. Bye Baelish, you won’t be missed.
Though Hodor and the Children of the Forest didn’t get what they deserved, Bran sure did. Through his stupidity in season 6, Bran can be blamed for killing sweet, innocent Hodor, as well as many Children of the Forest, an already endangered race.
The Three-Eyed Raven gave Bran specific instructions during his training, but Bran still didn’t do what he was told. Without the Three-Eyed Raven’s consent, Bran connects to a weirwood tree and sees the Night King. The Night King touches Bran, and in doing so learns his location, putting them all at risk. In the end, Bran not only lost powerful allies, but also a friend. Maybe now he’ll actually do what he’s told.
The Boltons are known for being crazy and violent, and Roose Bolton is no exception. Though quieter than his bastard son, Roose is no less ruthless. Lest we forget season 3’s Red Wedding, wherein Roose betrayed Robb Stark and joined the Freys in killing him and his men (and women).
As cool, calculating, and merciless as Roose was, he wasn’t cut out for the game of thrones. Funnily enough, it was his own son who ended up being his downfall. He raised Ramsay to be as brutal as him, but a little too well. Threatened by his father’s newborn son, and tired of being pushed around, Ramsay swiftly put an end to his father, as well as his father’s wife, and his newborn brother. You can almost feel bad that the great Roose Bolton’s end was from patricide, if you forget everything he did right before his murder.
Real talk, the Greyjoy family aren’t the warmest people on Game of Thrones. They’re prickly and entitled, perhaps none more so than Balon Greyjoy. Though we didn’t see that much of Balon throughout the series, what we did see was enough to know that he’s an awful human being, and an even worse father.
Balon treats Theon with such contempt, you’d think it was Theon’s fault he lost the rebellion years ago. Because of Balon’s own ineptitude, the Starks took Theon hostage as a boy and ended up raising him. Apparently it’s Theon’s fault he turned out the way he did, despite not actually having his own father around to raise him the ‘iron way.’ In season 3 he disinherits Theon from the Greyjoy family, and by season 6, he’s taken down by his own brother. It’s no loss, really. Balon was petulant and stubborn, and contributed little to nothing to the game of thrones.
Alliser Thorne and Olly
It’s not every day you see a bunch of real life adults cheer at the death of a child, but apparently Game of Thrones brings out the bloodthirsty in all of us. Oh yeah, then there’s Alliser Thorne.
Alliser has been a thorn in Jon’s side since Jon’s arrival at the Wall way back in season 1. Over the course of the series, Jon ended up surpassing Thorne in rank, but treated him with respect Thorne never gave Jon. Thought it seemed for a time that Thorne was beginning to reciprocate that respect, our hopes were dashed when Thorne arranges a mutiny and kills Jon.
Then there’s Olly. After everything Jon did for Olly, after everything he taught him, the little bastard took the first chance he got to betray Jon and lead him to his death. Olly may not have been the sole man responsible, but he received most of our ire anyway because how could he?
Doing all fans a favor, Jon got justice for his murder and had his killers executed. It was a rare moment in Game of Thrones where afterwards you actually felt bad for wishing death on someone. At least, you felt bad until the scene was over, and in all honesty we don’t actually miss either of them.
After blessedly losing Joffrey, our celebrations didn’t last long, for Ramsay
Snow Bolton had taken his place and was just getting started. Yet another character who was creatively cruel just for the fun of it, there was no shortage of characters he’d maimed and abused who deserved getting vengeance.
As thrilling as it would have been to see Jon kill Ramsay during the Battle of the Bastards, it was ultimately more satisfying to let another Stark have that moment. Momentarily spared, Ramsay was locked up after his defeat to Jon, allowing Sansa to get the final word against the man who put her through hell.