The world of game of thrones harbors a cynical mindset where character deaths are common, betrayal is common, and manipulation reaps rewards. There are still characters in the setting who adhere to a traditional chivalrous mindset out of duty and principle, but they often suffer and die because of it.
Interestingly, the reverse is also true. While some characters end up having put honor above all else, others get their just desserts from those who avenge their loved ones or try to do the right thing. It shows that while Westeros is no place for idealism, extreme pragmatism and wickedness also bring their own results.
10/10 Vardis Egen takes on the amoral Bronn
After Tyrion’s arrest, he is brought to the valley to await judgment. He demands a trial by combat and persuades Bronn to be his champion. Ser Vardis Egen, Lysa Arryn’s captain of the Eyrie Guard, agrees to fight in the name of the Faith. In both duels, Egen fights with proper full armor and shield, which inhibits his movement.
Bronn refuses a shield and fights lightly shielded. Bronn’s fighting style also involves sneaky dodging and avoiding tiring Egen before tripping him through the Moon Gate. Everyone is stunned into silence, and Lysa replies, outraged, that Bronn does not fight with honor. Bronn ignores it because it ensured his own survival.
9/10 Viserys threatens Drogo’s family and violates Dothraki ban on weapons
Viserys loses patience as Khal Drogo fails to follow through on what he feels is his due after selling Daenerys to him in marriage. When the khalasar arrives in Vaes Dothrak, where weapons and bloodshed are forbidden, Viserys bursts in with his blade drawn.
Viserys threatens Daenerys and her unborn child unless Drogo gives her the crown he was promised. Drogo uses exact wording to make Viserys lower his guard, then neutralize him. Aware of his people’s prohibition on shedding blood there, Drogo creatively melts gold over the fire and pours the contents over Viserys’ head, essentially cooking him to death.
8/10 Khal Drogo lets injury prove a point
After Khal Drogo swears to lead his khalasar to invade Westeros, he meets a disappointing fate. Mago is furious with Daenerys protecting Lhazareen victims from the Dothraki rampages. He clashes with Drogo, whom he accuses of being controlled by the whims of a “foreign whore.”
To defend their honor, Drogo fights Mago and allows him to casually cut him off before brutally killing him. The decision has disastrous consequences since Mirri Maz Duur takes the opportunity to treat him to poison him. This leads to the Blood Ritual, which kills Rhaego and renders Drogo unresponsive, forcing Daenerys to put him out of his misery.
7/10 Ned’s principles cause him to underestimate Cersei
Ned Stark is one of game of thrones’ most honorable characters, and it ends up killing him. As a detective, Ned discovers that Robert’s children are not his. Instead, they are Cersei’s bastards, born out of her incestuous relationship with her twin brother, Jaime. Ned’s principles lead him to support Stannis Baratheon’s assertion.
Ned informs Cersei that he will oppose her, not calculating that she will act first. She installs Joffrey as king immediately after Robert’s death, and Ned is imprisoned when he refuses to swear fealty. For the second time in his life, Ned renounces honor and proclaims Joffrey the rightful king to protect Sansa. But Ned is shockingly beheaded on Joffrey’s orders, ignoring the hope that Ned will face exile to the Night’s Watch.
6/10 Jon changes Janos’ method of execution to suit his own beliefs
Janos Slynt is out of luck after too many betrayals. After aiding in the fate of Ned Stark, Tyrion condemns Janos to the Night’s Watch out of suspicion. Janos is sent to the Wall and takes offense at being placed under the authority of Jon Snow, a bastard.
Janos constantly flouts Jon’s decisions and doesn’t take him seriously. After the straw that broke the camel’s back, Jon decides to have him executed. The initial method is hanging, but Jon seems to change his mind, but not out of pity, as Janos believes. Instead, Jon uses his sword to behead Janos, adhering to Ned’s code of self-execution to show his conviction.
5/10 Robb puts his heart above the war effort
To gain passage to the Northern Campaign via the Twins, Robb agrees to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters in the future. Robb then violates this agreement when he falls in love with former noble Volantene Talisa and impulsively decides to marry her. Obviously, Walder Frey is not happy to be ridiculed.
To apologize and make amends by marrying his uncle to a Frey girl, Robb returns to the Twins with a pregnant Talisa. Unfortunately, Frey has already colluded with the Lannisters and the event turns into the Red Wedding. Robb, Talisa, their unborn child, Catelyn, and the entire northern army are slaughtered in one fell swoop.
4/10 Oberyn is crushed by the mountain as he avenges Elia
When Tyrion is arrested for Joffrey’s death, Oberyn sees an opportunity to right a wrong. His sister, Elia, was murdered along with her children when the Targaryens were overthrown, and Oberyn has long suspected it was the work of Gregor Clegane, a Lannister henchman.
Oberyn agrees to be Tyrion’s champion in his trial by combat, hoping to get Gregor to confess. The confrontation surprisingly turns in Oberyn’s favor when he drives Gregor to the point of defeat while pushing him to confess to Elia’s murder. Unfortunately, Oberyn ends up getting too trusting and too close. Although badly injured, Gregor is able to grab him and crush his head, dooming Tyrion and horrifying Oberyn’s lover, Ellaria.
3/10 Brienne kills Stannis out of loyalty to Renly.
Stannis’ army is resoundingly crushed by Ramsay Bolton’s forces as they attempt to reach the North. Stannis barely crawls afterward with next to nothing to his name after losing his army, his wife, a potential victory, and even his own daughter.
Enter Brienne of Tarth, who was waiting for the moment to avenge her beloved Renly, who was killed in season 2 by Melisandre’s shadow demon to help Stannis. Brienne announces her intention to execute Stannis on behalf of Renly, whom she addresses as the true King of the Seven Kingdoms. Faced with this latest disgrace, Stannis resigns himself to his unworthy fate.
2/10 Arya slaughters all of House Frey for the Red Wedding
The Freys get their just desserts after their involvement in the Red Wedding. Arya returns from Braavos and infiltrates House Frey using her assassin skills learned from the Faceless Men. She kills Lothar and Black Walder and serves them to Lord Walder Frey in pies before slitting his throat.
Arya then takes Walder Frey’s face and invites the other Frey men to a banquet where she poisons them. As they succumb, she sarcastically praises their bravery in murdering her brother and mother when they should have been protected by guest rights. With their deaths, Arya succeeds in avenging her family’s death and crosses more names off her list.
1/10 Jon kills Daenerys to stop her tyranny
When Daenerys leads the assault on King’s Landing atop Drogon, the town pleads surrender by ringing the bells. Confusedly, Daenerys decides to ignore this and incinerate countless innocent people in King’s Landing with Drogon’s dragon fire. After her victory, Daenerys’ tyranny becomes evident as she plans to subjugate everyone to her violent rule.
At first, Jon thinks he can reason with her. But he eventually realizes the futility when Tyrion makes him see that Arya and Sansa will never bend the knee to Daenerys, putting their lives in danger. To protect his family and the kingdom, Jon impales Daenerys in front of the Iron Throne, killing her and ending his threat to the Seven Kingdoms.
NEXT: Every Targaryen In House Of The Dragon And How They’re Related To Daenerys