'Game of Thrones': 10 characters we miss the most

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:48 PM ET

Whoever said it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all was clearly not a Game of Thrones fan.

As HBO’s sweeping fantasy series kicks off its long-awaited fourth season Sunday, we’ve become older, wiser and perhaps a bit hardened. Clearly, no one on Game of Thrones is safe. Get attached to a character, and they’ll probably be stabbed, burned, beheaded or worse before the season is half over.

Wait, wait, we know what you’re going to say. “How can you be surprised when someone dies on this show? It’s all in the books!”

Look, there are two types of Game of Thrones fans: those who have read George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels — and thus have a good inkling of who will and won’t survive — and those who haven’t. We fall into the latter category.

And while you book-readin’ folks might have a deeper understanding of all the myriad characters that have paraded across the Seven Kingdoms, you’ll never know the shared, real-time experience of watching the Red Wedding unfold before your eyes and being shocked to your core. We, the TV-watching masses, screamed in unison.

As we brace ourselves for more death, drama and mind-bending intrigue this season, here’s a look back at the 10 Game of Thrones characters whose loss we still haven’t quite got over. If for some reason you haven’t yet watched all three seasons and you’re still reading this far, there are dragon-sized spoilers ahead.

Ned Stark

Wise and noble Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean) taught us early on that you simply can’t count on a character to survive any given season. Accused of treason and beheaded on the order of King Joffrey in the second-last episode of Season 1, Ned would become the first of many Starks to meet an untimely death.

Robert Baratheon

Imagine how much different Game of Thrones would be if King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) hadn’t got drunk while hunting and been fatally gored by a boar. There might still be a fragile peace in Westeros! Of course, he got drunk while hunting because his scheming wife Cersei orchestrated it. She really is the worst.

Robb Stark

Ah yes, the stab heard ’round the world. Last season’s Red Wedding saw the death of young, stalwart Robb (Richard Madden) — as well as two others on this list — at the hands (and knives and crossbow bolts) of Roose Bolton and Lord Walder Frey, so that they could secure an alliance with — who else — the Lannisters. And oh, how we wailed in disbelief.

Viserys Targaryen

Daenerys’ creepy brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) was a scumbag of the highest order, essentially selling his sister into slavery in order to further his plot to retake the Iron Throne. Unfortunately, he poked the wrong stallion — Daenerys’ new hubby Drogo gave Viserys the crown he so desperately craved by dumping molten gold onto his head. Still, we miss his slimy, conniving ways.

Catelyn Stark

Strong, wise, long-suffering Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), wife of Ned and protective mom of the Stark brood, figured out what was about to go down at the Red Wedding before Robb did. She couldn’t save them, though, and in a way her death was even more wrenching and shocking than Robb’s, as she’d been the glue holding the Starks together.

Jaime Lannister’s hand

OK, not actually a character in and of itself. But losing his hand may as well have killed Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), because of how drastically it altered his sense of self. Of course, it will be intriguing to see how Jaime ultimately adapts to and overcomes this in Season 4, but we’ll miss the swaggering, skilled swordsman he was before.

Renly Baratheon

Poor Renly (Gethin Anthony). After learning that his wife, Margaery, is totally cool with him getting his freak on with fellas as long as he also gets her pregnant, he meets with Catelyn Stark in the hopes of securing an alliance with Robb, only to be assassinated by a shadow demon conjured by his brother Stannis’ witchy girlfriend, Melisandre. So close!

Talisa Stark

Robb Stark’s beautiful wife Talisa (Oona Chaplin) was an intelligent and strong match for her husband’s not-so-small ego. But by marrying her, Robb broke an oath to wed one of the daughters of Lord Walder Frey, leading to Robb, his mother Catelyn and Talisa all being murdered during the Red Wedding. Worst of all, Talisa was pregnant when she was stabbed in the stomach by Frey’s men.

Ros

It seems like half of Westeros had carnal knowledge of the hooker with a heart of gold, but there was more than met the eye to the literate, savvy Ros (Esme Bianco). Unfortunately, she chose to spy on brothel baron Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, who turned her over to the sadistic King Joffrey to use for crossbow practice. Oh Ros, what were you thinking?

Drogo

A legend on the battlefield — and, by the looks of it, in the sack — Drogo (Jason Momoa) is a character we’d bring back in a heartbeat if we could. But felled by a festering wound and a witch’s spell, it was his death that ultimately forged Daenerys’ iron will and led to the birth of her dragons. And without them, there would be no Game of Thrones, would there?

THE END OF THE GAME

Best-selling author George R. R. Martin is famous for his ability to construct dense, enthralling worlds populated with complex, fascinating characters.

What he is not famous for is speed. And that could become a major problem for the producers of Game of Thrones, the sprawling HBO fantasy series based on Martin’s books.

As Game of Thrones kicks off Season 4, questions are already being raised about when and how the show will come to an end. And no one seems to have an answer yet.

Season 4 will cover the second half of A Storm of Swords, the third book in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, while also drawing some elements from the fourth and fifth books (A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, respectively.)

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who recently signed on for two more seasons, have said they envision a total of seven seasons for Game of Thrones. It makes sense: seven books, seven kingdoms. And seven seasons is a long time for a creative team to commit to a show of this scope.

But given that it took Martin five years to finish A Feast for Crows and six years to produce 2011’s A Dance with Dragons, there’s a good chance he won’t have the sixth book, titled The Winds of Winter, done before HBO is prepping Season 7. And there are probably oddsmakers in Las Vegas taking bets on whether the 65-year-old Martin will finish the seventh book, A Dream of Spring, before he croaks.

So what are the options? HBO could extend Game of Thrones for as long as it takes, chopping each book into two or more seasons until Martin catches up. But the network might not be willing to keep the show going that long, to say nothing of the commitment it would require from the actors. Heck, young Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, will be a fully grown woman by then.

Martin has also suggested HBO could do prequel seasons, but that would simply serve to lengthen the gap between the main story seasons, again leading to potential talent turnover.

Or perhaps HBO could wrap Game of Thrones up after seven seasons, and the final book(s) could be told through feature films. In that case, recasting the lead characters might seem a little more logical and palatable.

As with so many other things in Game of Thrones, there are no simple solutions. But watching how it all unfolds will be almost as intriguing as the show itself.

KEEPING TABS ON THRONES’ MANY CONFLICTS AND RELATIONSHIPS

Brace yourselves. Drama is coming. It’s been 10 months since we last checked in with the Lannisters and Starks and Baratheons and the rest of the pieces in play on Game of Thrones sprawling chessboard. Ten months to fear for the safety of the characters we love, shake fists at the characters we hate and wonder what the heck happens now in post-Red Wedding Westeros.

Well, we’ve seen the first three episodes of Season 4 — respectively titled Two Swords, The Lion and the Rose and Breaker of Chains — and while we’d have our heads hoisted on spikes outside the Red Keep if we dared to breathe a word of what goes down, here’s a (mostly) spoiler-avoiding glance at what to expect from Game of Thrones’ first few weeks, broken down by the major character conflicts.

Tyrion vs. the Lannisters: Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is under constant threat from his own family, and even the smartest man in King’s Landing might find himself outmaneuvered by unseen forces.

Jaime Lannister vs. Cersei Lannister: Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has lost more than his right hand: Cersei (Lena Headey) feels weirdly betrayed by his absence. Can the Kingslayer regain his sword skills while reigniting passions with his — ick — twin sister?

Arya Stark vs. the Hound: With Arya (Maisie Williams) a virtual prisoner of the Hound (Rory McCann) after fleeing the aftermath of the Red Wedding, finding common ground with her bodyguard/captor could be like finding a needle in a haystack.

King Joffrey vs. everyone: How much more evil can Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) get? With his nuptials to Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) taking place in next week’s episode, it turns out the king can sink very, very low indeed.

Ramsay Snow vs. House Greyjoy: Poor Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) remains the emasculated captive of Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon), a guy who gives Joffrey a run for the title of the most sadistic man in Westeros.

Jon Snow vs. the Night’s Watch vs. the wildlings: Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) is back at Castle Black with some important intel about his brief flame Ygritte (Rose Leslie) and the wildlings, but whether the Night’s Watch will forgive his double-agency remains to be seen.

Daenerys Targaryen vs. slavers: Dany (Emilia Clarke), her dragons and her army have their eyes on Meereen, a city of slaves that, if liberated, might provide them with ships to cross the Narrow Sea and retake the Iron Throne.

Oberyn Martell vs. the Lannisters: Newly arrived in King’s Landing from the far south, Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) has a dark agenda, which scheming Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) might be able to shape to his own ends. The enemy of my enemy and all that.

Can't get enough Game of Thrones? Check out this cool video that shows every on-screen death in the show in under three minutes:

Twitter: @stevetilley


Videos

Photos