5 Game of Thrones villains who are better than the heroes

Tywin and Cersei Lannister - Game of Thrones
Tywin and Cersei Lannister - Game of Thrones /
1 of 2

Out of all the reasons the Game of Thrones franchise is so successful, there’s no doubt that the well-written characters are one of the biggest. Both the book series and HBO adaptation are known for their morally ambiguous characters who blur the lines between good and evil. You might root for a character who does terrible things, or at least empathize with someone making questionable decisions. And while fighting in big battles or riding dragons might not be relatable to viewers, the characters’ complexities certainly are.

It’s difficult at times to even categorize George R.R. Martin’s characters into villains or heroes because it’s just not that black and white, but we’re going to do it anyway! There are generally still good guys and bad guys, even if their motivations are complicated.

We’re breaking down five villains in the Game of Thrones universe who are more interesting, written stronger, and overall better characters than the heroes.

Cersei Lannister - Game of Thrones
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

Cersei Lannister

This is an obvious one, right? We all love to hate Cersei Lannister! There’s no denying Cersei is unbelievably cruel and a master manipulator. She’s selfish and only thinks about herself and her children. Some might say she’s a good mother, but I don’t even know if I’d go that far. She’s incredibly complex and difficult to put into a box, but to our main heroes in Game of Thrones, she’s definitely a villain. She has no remorse for those who aren’t part of her family and she lacks empathy in nearly every situation. Plus, she’s committed terrible acts — blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor and then smirking about it is truly evil.

So if she’s so bad, why do we love her? She’s awful, yes, but also incredibly alluring. Even if we’re thinking about the horrible things she’s done, we’re still thinking about her. And at the end of the day, I do have empathy towards her. Should she be doing the things she does? No. But I understand the pain she feels that leads her to villainy. For a fictional show to make me feel that way, she’s a fantastic character.

Rory McCann in Game of Thrones
(L to R) Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark – Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO /

Sandor “The Hound” Clegane

While he starts off as a villain to Arya Stark and likely many other people in Westeros, we get to know The Hound better throughout Game of Thrones and learn that he’s got quite a complex personality. This doesn’t excuse the harmful things he does, but it does make the viewer like him a whole lot more. Known for his imposing size and disfigured face, it might be easy for someone to categorize The Hound as a scary, bad guy. And, oh yeah, he has killed a lot of people. Some innocent.

He’s certainly no angel, but fans have a soft spot for The Hound due to his hilarious cynical nature, protectiveness over Arya and Sansa, and overall development. He does both bad and good things, making him a morally ambiguous character who is more interesting, and even more endearing, than most.