With season 8 only five months away, this article takes a blood soaked look at Game of Thrones’ greatest heroes, deadliest killers and most ruthless factions. Through multiple viewings of all seven series (a task gladly undertaken) I present a comprehensive ranking of the great game’s most deadly killers.
As well as the show’s most dangerous characters and faction the analysis also aims to give an idea of the significance of kills. This is done by tracking the number of characters named in the show killed alongside the vast ranks of unnamed men at arms, wild-lings and occasionally innocent bystanders. No additional weighting is assigned to the kills of significant characters other than whether they are named as that would require personal judgement calls. So sadly the killing of a relatively irrelevant named character would be assigned the same weighting as one of the show central protagonists.
As well as total kills across the series I have also tried to provide a measure of potential deadliness for those characters introduced late or removed early. Showing how many kills they would be expected to make had they been involved across all series, balancing the weighting between them and the show’s mainstays.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for everything GOT related.
To present accurate unbiased results the following data was gathered by adhering to the following:
- TV series only – although the books are excellent, the following relies only upon information presented in the HBO series.
- Kills are by named characters only – data is only tracked for characters who are named in the series, because frankly who cares about kills by a character listed in credits as “Frey soldier 3.”
- Kills are by and of sentient beings – this prevents easy wight kills inflating figures, also they’re already dead. Kills by dragons or of dragons are also excluded as this would have been impossible to track.
- Kills must be direct- meaning the killing of anyone by a proxy or through an arms length method such as poisoning, magic, or the use of a dragon is not counted. Thereby excluding the impossible to count kills that would be attributed to Daenerys through her dragons, Cersei in the destruction of the Sept of Baelor and Bronn’s ignition of the wildfire at the battle of the Blackwater.
- Kills must be certain – we must see the character finish the kill on screen. This excludes kills we know of but do not see for instance the murder of Mycah in season 1 by the Hound.
Across the TV series there were a total of 312 on screen kills made by the shows named cast including a further 49 kills of named characters. Divided up as follows:
Perhaps unsurprisingly Jon Snow comes out as the shows most prolific killer, with eight more kills than his nearest rival The Hound, even without counting numerous wights dispatched across the series. The rest of the top 10 is presented in the graph below.
However, the graph would certainly look different if it wasn’t for the application of Rule 4 which would almost certainly see one of either Bronn, Cersei or Daenerys leading the chart.
By faction the Targaryen’s and those who owe them allegiance have provided the most of the series kills with 76, closely followed by the Starks on 72 and the Lannisters on 65.
A breakdown of the characters making up factions and explanations of assignment can be seen below.
In terms of the significance of kills the results differ significantly, firstly only four characters have more than two kills of significant characters to their name. Jon Snow leads again on six, followed by Arya Stark on five, Ramsay Bolton on four and Euron Greyjoy on three.
The faction data changes dramatically with the Targaryens almost falling off the chart with their only significant kill being that of Viserys by Khal Drogo in season 1. The Starks now lead with 14 significant kills, followed by the Lannisters on 12 and the table being propped up by the Greyjoys, Wild-lings, the Night’s Watch and the Boltons.
This analysis looks at the number of kills a character would have been likely to have made had they been included in the show from initiation or inversely not been removed prior to its conclusion. The analysis below is created by taking an average number of kills for each character in the series they have been involved in and multiplying it by seven, the number of series to date.
Also those characters with only one kill have not been subject to analysis to prevent characters with a single kill who die in season 1 unanimously scoring 7 and overtaking more significant killers.
If a character is introduced or removed mid-series no allowance is made for this.
Again this measure leaves Jon Snow in first as he has the highest average kills per season of 5, interestingly he doesn’t actually make his first kill until season 3 as wights don’t count. However, the rest of the top 10 changes significantly with characters like Arya Stark, Brienne of Tarth and Bronn who have killed at a steady rate across the series dropping out.
They are replaced by the Euron Greyjoy who has 9 kills from only 2 series, Ygritte who killed a prolific 8 in the two seasons she was involved, Eddard Stark and Arthur Dayne who both killed 4 in a single season.
As this metric is imperfect for various reasons I haven’t extended the analysis to factions or significant kills, particularly as it is impossible to increase the number of named characters within the series.
The basis of the faction selection is the character’s primary loyalty throughout the series. Generally this is easy to discern but for some characters it was more challenging and required a judgement call.
Character’s with changing allegiance such as Brienne of Tarth I assigned to their loyalty at the end of the series. Characters with multiple allegiances like Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane I assigned to the predominant one, the Starks and the Wild-lings respectively.
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For those interested I have laid out the complete data-set that charts and analysis has been based off below.
|Character||Allegiance||Kills||Named kills||Expected kills||Named kills info|
|Jon Snow||House Stark||35||6||35||Qhorin Halfhand, Karl, Mance Rayder, Janos Slynt, Alleiser Thorne, Olly|
|Sandor “The Hound” Clegane||House Lannister||27||2||27||Beric Dondarrion, Lem Lemoncloak|
|Daario Naharis||House Targaryen||17||0||24|
|Tormund Giantsbane||Wildlings||16||2||22||Rattleshirt, Mors Umber|
|Daenarys Targaryen||House Targaryen||15||0||15|
|Brienne of Tarth||House Stark||12||1||14||Stannis Baratheon|
|Bronn||House Lannister||12||1||12||Vardis Egen|
|Ramsay Bolton||House Bolton||10||4||14||Roose Bolton, Osha, Rickon Stark, Wun Wun|
|Arya Stark||House Stark||10||5||10||Rorge, Meryn Trant, The Waif, Walder Frey, Petyr Baelish|
|Euron Greyjoy||House Greyjoy||9||3||32||Balon Greyjoy, Nymeria Sand, Obara Sand|
|Theon Greyjoy||House Greyjoy||9||2||9||Roderick Cassel, Myranda|
|Jorah Mormont||House Targaryen||9||0||9|
|Baristan Selmy||House Targaryen||8||0||11|
|Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane||House Lannister||8||2||8||Huw of the Vale, Oberyn Martell|
|Yara Greyjoy||House Greyjoy||6||0||7|
|Jaime Lannister||House Lannister||6||1||6||Jory Cassel|
|Tyene Sand||Dorne||5||1||12||Areo Hotah|
|Tyrion Lannister||House Lannister||5||2||5||Shae, Tywin Lannister|
|Eddard Stark||House Stark||4||1||28||Arthur Dayne|
|Arthur Dayne||House Targaryen||4||0||28|
|Yoren||The Night’s Watch||4||0||14|
|Robb Stark||House Stark||3||1||7||Rickard Karstark|
|Stannis Baratheon||House Baratheon||3||0||4|
|Drogo||House Targaryen||2||1||14||Viserys Targaryen|
|Jory Cassel||House Stark||2||0||14|
|Qhorin Halfhand||The Night’s Watch||2||0||14|
|Mors Umber||House Bolton||2||0||14|
|Olly||The Night’s Watch||2||2||5||Ygritte, Jon Snow|
|Obara Sand||Dorne||2||1||5||Tristain Martell|
|Karl||The Night’s Watch||2||1||4||Craster|
|Poderick Payne||House Lannister||2||1||2||Mandon Moore|
|Alleiser Thorne||The Night’s Watch||2||0||2|
|Samwell Tarly||The Night’s Watch||2||0||2|
|Ilyn Payne||House Lannister||1||1||Eddard Stark|
|Armory Lorch||House Lannister||1||1||Yoren|
|Jaqen H’gar||None||1||1||Armory Lorch|
|Rast||The Night’s Watch||1||1||Jeor Mormont|
|Elaria Sand||Dorne||1||1||Doran Martell|
|The Night King||White Walkers||1||1||Blood Raven|
|The Waif||None||1||1||The Lady Crane|
|Cersei Lannister||House Lannister||1||1||Tyene Sand|
|Roderick Cassel||House Stark||1||0|
|Janos Slynt||House Lannister||1||0|
|Rickard Karstark||House Stark||1||0|
|Catelyn Stark||House Stark||1||0|
|Roose Boloton||House Bolton||1||0|
|Grenn||The Night’s Watch||1||0|
|Pyp||The Night’s Watch||1||0|
|Meera Reed||House Stark||1||0|
|Dickon Tarly||House Lannister||1||0|