Game of Thrones is known for many things, such as its gory and unexpected deaths, steamy sex scenes, gut-wrenching plot twists, and its immersive story. Now, something else is making Game of Thrones even more of a hit: its strong and fierce female characters. They are everywhere!
Have you noticed that there are three very powerful women in charge by the end of season seven? Looking back through all seven seasons, we’ve come across a few incredible women. Some we’ve watched grow into there, and others that were already dominating when they first came into our lives, and all dove in head-first. As we wait for the eighth and final season, let’s look at 22 of the most fierce female characters in the Game of Thrones universe, whether the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, the HBO show adaptation, and the Telltale games. Ah, yes, obligatory spoiler alert for those who have not caught up to season seven. You’ve been warned!
22 – Karsi
Karsi was a wilding spearwife with a sharp tongue and determined attitude, along with Ygritte. She represented her clan in a meeting with clan chieftains and Jon Snow, then the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, calls for a union of the Free Folk and the Crows to fight the White Walkers together.
Karsi fights alongside with Jon Snow and his men against the wights, risking her life and her daughters’ to defend the Free Folk. She refuses to get back in the boat with Jon Snow after he pleads with her, and she argues with him that he should go instead so the Night Watch’s men at Castle Black will let her the rest of the wildlings though its gates.
She stays behind and puts her fighting skills to the test, slaughtering as many wights as she could before inevitably being overwhelmed and killed by child wights. It’s highly unfortunate that her skills are now part of the White Walker army, as we see her become one of them by being raised by the Night King himself.
21 – Ygritte
Jon Snow might not know anything, but Ygritte definitely knows how to make a good Crow turn bad. Ygritte was a wildling, or Free Folk, she’s from the North of the Wall and was a member of Mance Rayder’s army as a spearwife (warrior woman).
She and Jon Snow fell in a forbidden kind of love, with him defying his vows as a member of the Night’s Watch and being called a traitor. Ygritte was an excellent fighter and was torn between being loyal to Jon or Mance Rayder and her people.
All her personal dilemma aside, Ygritte always showed off her fighting skills and wit, her famous phrase “You know nothing, Jon Snow” becoming an enticing taunt and a joke amongst her snarky remarks towards Jon and Westeros overall. Even after her inevitable death, Ygritte’s example of a free wilding who is not afraid of a fight and someone who will put you in your place continues to mark us all.
20 – Lyanna Mormont
Fierceness comes in different shapes and sizes, and this is no exception when it comes to Lyanna Mormont. Named after Lyanna Stark, she is the very young, proud and ridiculously adorable Lady of Bear Island. When Lyanna’s mother, and Lady of Bear Island, Lady Maege Mormont was killed in the War of Five Kings, she took over ruling Bear Island in her place.
Don’t let her age, cute voice, and cheekbones fool you. The Lady of Bear Island has attitude, logic, and intelligence. And she is not afraid to consult her advisers when she needs them. She glared down the psychotic Ramsey Bolton before the Battle of the Bastards with such fierceness that if looks could kill, she would have won that battle in a heartbeat.
Lyanna was actually the first Northern leader to proclaim Jon Snow as the King in the North, proving once again that House Stark can always count on House Mormont. Lyanna has one of the loudest, strongest voices in the North, and she almost unconditionally receives the respect she deserves as a leader. Don’t you wish all little girls were like her?
19 – Arya Stark
If the word “Fierce” doesn’t immediately make you think of Arya Stark, you’re just wrong. The youngest of the Stark girls, Arya has been a strong and independent woman who can take care of herself ever since she was a little girl.
Dresses never tickled her fancy, marrying princes never floated her boat – she’s always preferred swords, bow and arrows, and acquiring the souls of her enemies over anything remotely girly. As of season 7, she continues her path as a skilled and merciless assassin, who can only continue to grow into this impressive and revenge-driven character with an even more impressive hit list.
After witnessing her father’s beheading, Arya became separated from her family and went through many trials and tribulations, including a few brief yet harsh training sessions with the Faceless Men which helped shape her into this insanely skilled killer. Now, back in Winterfell and standing with her sister, Sansa, and brother, Bran, Arya is an embodiment of justice and the wolf-like strength that the Starks represent. Winter is coming? More like Winter has already arrived.
18 – Margaery Tyrell
The beautiful, kind, religious, and newly crowned Queen Margeary Tyrell is quite honestly a master of manipulation. With her sexy smirk and graceful ways, she had been queen three different times.
She was initially married to King Renly Baratheon, then to King Joffrey Baratheon, and then finally King Tommen Baratheon. With her eyes set on the Iron Throne, her smile and kind gestures to public won everyone’s hearts except for Cersei Lannister’s.
Her ultimate weapon lies in her words. She might be young and gorgeous, but she is no fool and, just like her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell, she is incredibly clever. Margaery is the complete opposite of Cersei Lannister – polite, feminine, and proper – while exhibiting the same power and cunning. The fact that she intimidated Cersei so much to the point where she made sure Margaery and her whole House would be eliminated places her in this list.
17 – Olenna Tyrell
Have you ever been such a badass that you even got the last laugh and the last word in your own death? Let me introduce you to Olenna Tyrell, everyone’s favorite grandmother. She was the elderly matriarch of House Tyrell, a House that met its unfortunate end when Cersei Lannister decided to blow up the Sept of Baelor to escape her trial by the High Sparrow.
Before this tragedy, Olenna did what she herself calls unspeakable things to keep her family safe, especially her granddaughter, Margaery Tyrell. Margaery had been set to marry the ruthless, psychotic, and obnoxious King Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei Lannister’s elder child. Just like anyone put in this position would, she did what she could in order to prevent her granddaughter from being miserable and possibly even killed by the lunatic; she had him poisoned at their own wedding.
Though it all went according to her plan, the blame fell on Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark, causing a manhunt for both while Olenna sat in plain sight and let out sighs of relief. She also never took any crap from anyone – be it Cersei, Ellaria Sand and her daughters, Daenerys Targaryen, and even Tywin Lannister, the most powerful man in Westeros at the time. Olenna often gave excellent advice and was truly everyone’s grandmother up to her very end – an end which will go down in history as the most glorious.
16 – Sansa Stark
Whether you started out loving or loathing her, you have to admit she’s everyone’s favorite redhead. Sansa is also one of the characters with the biggest arcs in their development. Starting as a whiny Joffrey worshiping, bratty little Stark girl, Arya Stark’s older sister is now the powerful and tactful Lady of the North.
As she puts it herself, she learns slowly, but she eventually learns. After her father’s beheading by her then-beloved Joffrey, her life went into a downwards spiral: forced to marry Tyrion Lannister, accused of murdering Joffrey, having the ever creepy Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish walking in her shadows, being constantly abused by Ramsey Bolton, until she was once again reunited with Jon Snow in Winterfell.
The naive little girl who though life was all about looking pretty and marrying princes had one of the harshest wake-up calls to date, and she is now a strong leader in the North in lieu of Jon Snow, aided by her brother Bran and her sister Arya. Though her story in the show is slightly different than in the A Song of Ice and Fire books, it doesn’t change the fact that she still is a survivor and has an excellent poker face (refer to the season finale of Season 7), and has now been officially promoted to Badass Status.
15 – Catelyn Stark
Catelyn Stark is the widow of Eddard Stark and mother to Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon Stark. A loyal wife and a loving, caring mother to her five children, Catelyn devoted herself to her family and the North. As much of an excellent mother as she was, she never took for Jon Snow, her husband’s supposed bastard, but made sure the boy got fed and cared for while sick anyway. We all know Jon’s true lineage now, and we can’t help but wonder if she’d play along with Eddard in hiding the truth. Catelyn’s most badass moment in the HBO show is during her last appearance at the Red Wedding.
Let’s have a moment of silence for this fierce woman, who stood for her children and family till the very last second, killed one of Walder Frey’s many wives in front of him, and unfortunately got her throat slit after witnessing the carnage around her.
But that’s not all. Catelyn also kind of started this whole debacle with the Lannisters after she finds out Jaime had been responsible for Bran’s unfortunate fall off a tower. Catelyn kidnapping Tyrion and her overall attitude and demand to her bannermen in assisting her cause was also powerful and badass.
She does become more of a zombie-terminator in the books, that will never see light in the show. And that’s good – we wouldn’t want to see Brienne and Pod have their bloody ends met by this revenge-thirsty version of Catelyn.
14 – Osha
This beautiful, entertaining, and skillful wildling had one of the most anti-climatic, unnecessary deaths in Game of Thrones. Osha was a Free Folk woman who became loyal to House Stark, specifically to Bran and Rickon Stark. She frequently took advantage of people’s low expectations of her and made it their biggest mistake. Sure, she was a wildling, but that doesn’t make her an idiot – and she proved it over and over.
Osha became a guardian and savior to Bran and Rickon Stark, keeping them safe and outsmarting enemies to get them to where they needed to be by making herself seem not as smart or sneaky. Eventually, her failure to fool one of Game of Thrones’ most heartless and insane villains, Ramsey Bolton, leads her to a very unfortunate death. In the end, her smarts, snappy remarks, and love for the Stark boys made her character priceless and enjoyable.
13 – Ros
Ros was one of the most beautiful prostitutes in a brothel just outside of Winterfell. She used her beauty and her brain to make it all the way to King’s Landing, inevitably meeting an unfortunate end by King Joffrey Baratheon. Ros was a very different prostitute – she was literate and had a very sweet, kind heart.
After being mistaken to be Shae, Tyrion Lannister’s lover, kidnapped by Cersei, and beaten on her command, she kept her chin and the façade up in order to not implicate Tyrion. Ros also catches on to Littlefinger’s games on her own, admitting that she’s afraid of him because he protects those who work for him and do his bidding, going out of her way to warn Shae, who was then Sansa Stark’s maiden, to watch out for Sansa.
Her badass status achieves its peak when she begins to confide in Varys, reporting everything Littlefinger had been doing, including that he planned on taking Sansa with him when he left King’s Landing. However, once the outsmarted spy Littlefinger realized what she was doing, he sends Ros to King Joffrey’s chambers, who puts an end to her espionage. Her hard work helped expose Littlefinger and his two-faced nature to the viewers and to a few other characters, and spying on the spy has earned her huge brownie points.
12 – Yara Greyjoy
Yara, called Asha Greyjoy in the books, is a determined and proud Ironborn woman of House Greyjoy. She is Theon Greyjoy’s older sister and the current claimant to the Salt Throne of the Iron Islands. Sided with Daenerys Targaryen in her quest for the claim to the Iron Throne, she has proved her loyalty to her by offering her ships and army to the Mother of Dragons.
Yara is quite the warrior as well, having no fear to be in battle and eager to spend quality time with gorgeous women. Yara is very aggressive, but she loves her brother Theon and risks her life to rescue him from Ramsey Bolton while he’s kept prisoner there, and constantly tries to bring him up from the depressive state he seems to live in now.
She is one of the few female characters in Game of Thrones who has been shown to be sexually inclined to women, and that only adds to her experience points to the next level of badass.
11 – Brienne of Tarth
This tall, blonde, short-haired, and dedicated warrior is quite the badass. Not interested in formalities, being called Lady Brienne, or being treated differently because she is a woman fighter, she is only interested in keeping her promise to Lady Catelyn Stark before her death – to watch over and protect her daughters Arya and Sansa Stark.
While growing up, she was made fun of whether she tried to look feminine or to embrace her love for martial arts and become a warrior, proving that she doesn’t let anyone’s words bother her or sway her into different paths. Brienne is the embodiment of a strong woman, noble and humble, a skilled and powerful warrior, remarkably loyal and determined, who takes her duties as a warrior extremely seriously.
Brienne spent some time with Ser Jaime Lannister, and has since then become good acquaintances. She can be seen using the good blood in between them to try and get him to convince his sister, Queen Cersei Lannister, to join forces and help destroy the White Walkers for good. Based on how Jaime and Cersei split paths in season seven, we can assume that she indeed was able to sway him to help them.
10 – Mira Forrester
Mira Forrester is a character from the video game Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series. She is the eldest daughter of Lord Gregor Forrester and his wife, Elissa Forrester. Known to put family first, Mira was sent to Highgarden to serve as Handmaiden to Lady Margaery Tyrell, which would later result in her being taken to the capital, King’s Landing.
Life in the capital is not easy for Mira in the beginning. Her straightforward Northern ways clash with the subtleties of court life, and she often finds herself dreaming of simpler days. Though slightly meek and passive at the beginning of the game, she quickly becomes either fiercely loyal or cunningly manipulative during her stint in King’s Landing, learning the ropes of the game of thrones to aid her family in any way possible.
Though she can choose her loyalty to Margaery, Tyrion, Tom, Sera or many others, Mira’s ultimate dedication is to her family, and she either dies proudly or reluctantly.
9 – Elsera Snow
Elsera Snow is a character from the video game Game of Thones: A Telltale Games Series. She is a main character and a blood mage who protects the North Grove with her brother, Josera. She is the bastard daughter of Lord Gregor Forrester and was ‘exiled’ to the North Grove not only to protect it, but to ‘hide the shame’ of her bastard status.
While Josera believed that their father sent them away out of shame, Elsera believed that it was in fact the contrary, that their father sent his bastards away to protect them and their gifts. She is knowledgeable of blood magic and controls a large group of seemingly undead warriors to fight the White Walkers. At one point in the game, Elsera has the option to rip someone’s beating heart during a ritual to harness the power of the Grove. If ripping someone’s heart out isn’t badass, than I don’t know what is.
8 – Melisandre
This faithful Red Priestess is considered an enigma by all, of which she is also aware and realizes by admitting that she’s been wrong before. Melisandre has spent her long life doing nothing but what the Lord of Light commands, interpreting visions and carrying them out, whether they are good or not. An excellent strategist and scary sorcerer, the Red Woman does whatever is necessary in order to fulfill the prophecies she’s given, including burning a young girl alive, attempting to use leeches to bleed out a bastard, becoming pregnant with a shadowy figure in order to slay her opponents, and bringing the dead back to life.
Though she’s accused of committing crimes and getting away with it, she stands by her belief that the Lord of Light commanded her to do so and though she might have misinterpreted a few visions here and there, she has only followed whatever path she’s been lead to. Her audacity and openness when it comes to what she needs to do are very impressive, but her nightmare-inducing actions and powers automatically make her a strong ally to have – that is, if the Lord of Light likes you.
7 – Kinvara
Kinvara is a Red Priestess from Volantis, and one of the high-ranking leaders in the faith of R’Hllor, the Lord of Light. She is supportive of Daenerys Targaryen’s claim to the Iron Throne, and believes that she will lead the people against the darkness and in the war to come.
Kinvara is questioned by Varys on the accuracy of the Lord of Light’s prophecies, and she defends her faith by rebutting that the everything is the will of the Lord, but men and woman can make mistakes. She puts him in place as she reveals that she not only knows about what happened to him in the past, but she taunts him into silence by threatening to speak the same words his abuser spoke to him as he threw Varys’ man parts into the fire.
After leaving everyone speechless in an awkward “say what?!” moment, she assures everyone present that the priests and preachers will promote Daenerys through all of the Essos. Moral of the story – mess with a Red Witch, get burned, almost always literally.
6 – Missandei
Missandei is a former slave girl from the island of Naath, who had been enslaved at a very young age and became an interpreter for a slave master in Astapor. She’s not only beautiful, but she’s incredibly smart and speaks nineteen languages. Though that is pretty impressive by itself, the fact she stood with Daenerys Targaryen and aided her in ending slavery as an ex-slave and achieving the liberation of Slaver’s Bay makes her story come full-circle.
Missandei becomes Daenarys’ most trusted advisor, helping her by being an interpreter and a herald. Among all of her noble and notable achievements and loyalty to Daenarys and her cause, Missandei has also had a romantic interest in Grey Worm, the leader of the Unsullied. She was courageous enough to show the world that a man doesn’t need a complete package in order to be a total package. You go, girl!
5 – Shae
The phrase “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is pretty fitting to Shae’s prerogative. A beautiful prostitute from a faraway land, Shae finds herself in Tyrion Lannister’s bed during the Battle of the Green Fork. Her affection for and exclusive relationship with Tyrion is swept under the rug, in defiance of Tyrion’s father’s orders.
This defiance becomes even more dangerous as she leaves for King’s Landing with him, serving as a handmaiden to Sansa Stark, who was forced to marry Tyrion as punishment. She cared for lady Sansa, heeding Ros’ warning to watch out for her around Littlefinger, until her jealousy over Sansa and Tyrion’s forced marriage takes over and Tyrion sends her away, hurting her feelings and insulting her in order to get her to go.
Scorned, this fiesty lady broke out hearts and she stood in as a witness against Tyrion during his trial for King Joffrey’s death, incriminating him by lying through her teeth in the name of sweet revenge. Her ultimate act, adding insult to injury, is when Tyrion later finds her in his father’s bed before she tries to kill him. Ouch.
4 – Tyene Sand
Tyene Sand was one of the Sand Snakes, and a bastard daughter of the handsome Prince Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand from Dorne. Her character in the HBO show is essentially a mix of two of Oberyn’s daughters from the books: Tyene and Elia Sand.
She took park in aiding her mother seize power in Dorne from the legitimate House Martell with her half-sisters Obara and Nymeria Sand. She was involved in killing Myrcella Baratheon, Cersei Lannister’s only daughter, Doran Martell, and her cousin Trystane Martell.
What sets Tyene apart from her sisters is the fact she’ll heedlessly charge ahead and take a risk instead of standing back and analyzing the situation. Tyene is a skilled fighter with her long daggers and is known to coat her blades with poison just like her father – one scratch and it’s goodnight.
3 – Talisa Stark
Talisa Stark, previously known as Talisa Maegyr, was a healer on the battlefields of the Riverlands, where she met the then-King in the North, Robb Stark. They inevitably fell in love and married, which infuriated Walder Frey as Robb Stark was supposed to marry one of his daughters in accordance with Lady Catelyn Stark, Robb’s mother.
As a young girl, Talisa witnessed her brother being revived by a mere fisherman after a drowning accident and decided to leave the noble life behind, refusing to be involved in slavery and choosing to not “dance with the other nobles”, putting her skills and dedication to saving lives.
Though Talisa had a big part in the “blame” for the Red Wedding by accidentally making Robb Stark break his vow to the Freys, her character does not really exist in the books. The character Jeyne Westerling does, and her assignment is to make Robb breach his pact as her family is in cahoots with the Lannisters and Freys. A slight change in character motivation just to tug our heartstrings.
2 – Daenerys Targaryen
Even though her mouthful of a title speaks for itself, the world still cannot stop talking about Daenerys. Before she was known as Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mhysa, Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, she was a young blonde-haired girl who was mistreated by her older brother, sold into marriage to the Dothraki Khal Drogo, lost her unborn child, lost her loving husband, survived betrayal after betrayal, and came out on top, roaring.
Not only is she powerful, beautiful, and successful, she also has a kind heart. She wishes to break the wheel, to free the slaves, to see her people happy, and this is what makes every man, woman, and child love her. Though she is a kind and caring queen, let us not forget she is the daughter of the infamous Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen.
We can see her father’s temper come through her every once in a while, like when she burned the Tarly’s when they refused to bend the knee to her. We can only hope that it doesn’t progress any further. If it does, Westeros could be possibly looking at yet another Mad Targaryen on the Iron Throne.
1 – Cersei Lannister
Everyone’s favorite character to hate. Even though Cersei is a very tough character to want to like, we all have to admit that we admire a few of her qualities: her determination and loyalty to her family, the fact that she goes after what she wants and gets it for the most part, and her never-ending twisted sense of justice.
Cersei Lannister was raised in privilege in Casterly Rock, along with her twin brother (and lover, father of her children) Jaime Lannister, and their younger brother, the imp Tyrion Lannister.
When she was around fifteen years old, she and a friend, Melara, visited the fortune teller Maggy the Frog, who gave her three prophecies. As her life continued and the events of seasons one through seven unfolded, she’s held to those prophecies even more as they seemingly come true.
Cersei is regarded as cold-hearted by the vast majority of characters and fans alike, but that is the trait that allows her to consistently make decisions that would normally be hard for anyone to do. Need to escape a trial in front of everyone in King’s Landing? Let’s blow up the Sept of Baelor. Want to make a point to your only daughter’s killer? Let’s kill her daughter in the same way and make her watch, unable to do anything. Want to win a war? Let’s lie to our enemies by telling them we’ll help yet plan for all their men to die, making your army more likely to win.
Cersei is ruthless, cunning, and an excellent strategist, and if that’s exactly what makes this woman such a badass.