Game of Thrones: Characters and Cast

By James T. Cains

Game of Thrones is chockfull of so many characters that you need a scorecard to keep track of them all. Never fear: This article can help you remember who’s who.

Main characters in Games of Thrones

You may want to think about the show’s main characters in relation to the noble houses they belong to, because — quite frankly — that’s the most difficult thing to remember about them. Because so much political intrigue takes place between the houses, you need to remember whose side the characters are on. So, here are the main characters (and who plays them) from several major houses.

House Stark

Eddard (Ned) Stark (Sean Bean): Ned is the head of House Stark and Lord of Winterfell, the ancient castle fortress of the North. Ned is a good, honorable man who gets entangled in the corruption of King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. His struggles against that corruption lead to tragedy for himself and his family.

Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley): Catelyn is Ned’s wife and mother of his five legitimate children (Jon Snow being Ned’s sixth child, but illegitimate). Catelyn values family and duty above all else and is a strong presence in the lives of her husband and children. When tragedy strikes her family, she becomes even stronger and supportive of her son Robb’s attempt to free Westeros from the corruption in King’s Landing.

Robb Stark (Richard Madden): Robb is the eldest son of Ned and Catelyn and heir to Winterfell. He has been groomed by both father and mother to eventually become the Lord of Winterfell. So, when tragedy strikes, Robb is placed into that position (perhaps before he is ready) and must quickly come of age as a leader.

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner): Sansa is the eldest daughter of Ned and Catelyn. She is very much a “lady” and dreams of being queen and marrying a valiant knight. She develops a crush on Prince Joffrey and travels to King’s Landing as Joffrey’s betrothed when her father becomes King Robert’s Hand of the King (or chief advisor). When King Robert is killed and Joffrey takes the Iron Throne, she is set to become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. However, she soon learns how cruel Joffrey really is.

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams): Arya is the youngest daughter of Ned and Catelyn and is the antithesis of her sister Sansa. Arya is very much a tomboy and would rather learn sword fighting than embroidery. She travels to King’s Landing with her father; however, circumstances force her to flee the city and try to return to Winterfell on her own.

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright): Bran is the second oldest son of Ned and Catelyn. He is an adventurous boy whose curiosity leads to a tragic fall that leaves him paralized. Bran also has a special gift that allows him to see through the eyes of his direwolf protector.

Jon Snow (Kit Harington): Jon is the illegitimate son of Ned Stark and is slightly younger than Robb. Jon shares the same honorable traits as his father, but because of his birth status, he can never have any official status in House Stark (though Ned has always treated him as a son). This, plus the resentment that Catelyn feels toward his presence in Winterfell, leads Jon to enlist in the Night’s Watch and take station at the Wall, which protects the southern lands from the evils that lie beyond the Wall.

House Lannister

Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance): Tywin is the head of House Lannister and Lord of Casterly Rock in the Westerlands. He is stern, unapologetic, and immovable in his drive to see House Lannister control the Seven Kingdoms. And he treats his children (especially his youngest son Tyrion) with the same unforgiving hardness.

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey): Cercei is Tywin’s oldest daughter and twin sister to Jaime. She becomes queen-regent after the death of her husband King Robert and when her son Joffrey (who is not yet of age) takes the Iron Throne. Cercei shares the same hardness as her father and is just as manipulative as her brother Tyrion.

Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau): Jaime is Tywin’s oldest son and Cercei’s twin brother. He is a member of the Kingsguard and is commonly referred to as “the kingslayer,” because he was the one who actually killed King Aerys II Targaryen, which put King Robert on the Iron Throne. At the beginning of Game of Thrones, Jaime is just as ruthless as the rest of his family; however, through an unexpected bond he develops with Brienne of Tarth, he begins to find some honor.

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage): Tyrion is Tywin’s youngest son and is commonly referred to as “the Imp” because of his dwarfism. Tyrion is smart and manipulative (responsible for many of the political machinations in King’s Landing). However, he rarely receives credit for his accomplishments and is considered unworthy of position largely because of his physical stature. Though Tyrion is very ambitious, there is a line that he won’t cross — a line that Tywin and Cercei have no trouble crossing.

House Baratheon

Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy): Robert is King of the Seven Kingdoms and holder of the Iron Throne at the beginning of Game of Thrones. He became king by deposing King Aerys II Targaryen (Daenerys Targaryen’s father). Robert asks his old friend Ned Stark to return to King’s Landing with him as Hand of the King. Ned agrees; however, after they return to King’s Landing, Robert is killed in a hunting accident, which allows his son Joffrey to take the Iron Throne.

Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson): Joffrey is Cercei’s son and is a selfish and cruel teenager. He is believed to be the legitimate son of King Robert and therefore heir to the Iron Throne. However, Joffrey is actually the result of Cercei’s incestuous relationship with her twin brother Jaime. After Joffrey takes the Iron Throne, news of his true parentage spreads, which causes many of the other houses, as well as King Robert’s brothers, to seek claim of the Iron Throne for themselves.

Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane): Stannis is King Robert’s younger brother and Lord of Dragonstone. He is a sullen and hard man who has always felt overshadowed by Robert and his younger brother, Renly. After Robert is killed and Stannis learns of King Joffrey’s true parentage, he becomes the rightful heir to the Iron Throne and attempts to take it by force.

House Targaryen

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke): Daenerys is the exiled daughter of deposed King Aerys II Targaryen and last surviving heir to House Targaryen. At first weak and timid, she is sold into marriage to the Dothraki tribal leader, Khal Drogo. After Drogo’s death, she becomes leader of the tribe and, eventually, is considered the exiled Queen of the Seven Kingdoms by her followers. Daenerys possesses three dragons, and with them and the vast army she’s building, she plans to return to Westeros and reclaim her father’s throne.

House Greyjoy

Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen): Theon is the son and heir to Lord Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands. However, after Lord Greyjoy’s failed rebellion against King Robert, Lord Greyjoy had to give Theon to the Starks to live in Winterfell as a hostage and Ned’s ward so that Lord Greyjoy could remain in control of the Iron Islands. Theon has never felt like he belonged in Winterfell, despite developing a close friendship with Robb Stark. Theon’s desire to impress his father and earn his place as heir to the Iron Islands drives him to betray those who have grown to care for him.

Other notable characters in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones has a huge cast of supporting characters; here are some of the supporting characters that have important roles in the lives of the major characters.

Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen): Jorah is the exiled knight from Westeros who joins Daenerys Targaryen’s campaign to retake the Iron Throne because of his not-so-secret love for her.

Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann): Sandor is commonly referred to as “The Hound,” because of his large physical stature and his ruthlessness in battle. He begins to show a different side when he meets up with Arya Stark on her journey back to her family.

Samwell Tarly (John Bradley): Samwell becomes Jon Snow’s best friend after he arrives at the Wall. He is not much of a soldier, but he is very intelligent and is charged with writing and sending communications to the southern lands.

Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen): Petyr, also known as “Littlefinger,” is the conniving brothel owner in King’s Landing who seeks power for himself. He also has an unrequited love for Catelyn Stark.

Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie): Brienne is a tall and powerfully built woman who seeks to prove herself as a knight in a world in which only men are knights. She is well skilled at combat and ends up forging an interesting and significant relationship with Jaime Lannister.

Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa): Khal Drogo is the Dothraki tribal leader who takes Daenerys as his wife. He is a fearsome leader, but after he is killed, Daenerys takes over leadership of the tribe in her first step toward reclaiming the Iron Throne.