Game of Thrones Power Rankings: Season 6, Episode 1
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
May 1, 2016

Ah, the love between a father and son...

For years now, the staff at BOP has argued behind the scenes over the statuses of the various characters on Game of Thrones. Some of us have a 15-year advantage on the others because they’ve read the books. For our part, David watched the show from week one and Kim quit after three episodes. She kept falling asleep while watching it, and she took that as a hint that it wasn’t very good. After THAT BIG THING happened toward the end of the season, David pushed Kim to catch up to the point that she’s a bigger fan than he is. She’s read all the books, but David didn’t want the books muddying his perspective on the television series, so he’s stayed away from reading them.

During the course of the show, Kim has bit her tongue while the fates of various characters have unfolded. Meanwhile, David has been clobbered when George R.R. Martin’s hatred of the Stark family has revealed itself. David suspects Martin has a tattoo on his groin that says, “Kill the protagonist.”

Over the last couple of seasons, Kim has discovered that knowledge of the books can be a detriment as David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have meandered further away from the literature. As the series enters uncharted territory, the two of us are on relatively equal footing. Now that we can no longer spoil anything for our readers, we’ve decided to post power rankings for the characters on the show. Some weeks we’ll update the main ones, while other weeks we’ll throw in something sillier, such as “horniest characters.” (Hint: The Spider won’t win that one.)

This week, we’re going to start off basic. The underlying infrastructure of Game of Thrones as a series is “who plays the game the best.” These are not necessarily the people you’d want fighting by your side when the White Walkers arrive. They are, however, the finest tactical minds in all of Westeros based on what the series and novels have demonstrated.

If you’ve paid any attention whatsoever, the top two won’t be a surprise. If you haven’t, you’re about to be so confused.

1) Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger

Some of the greatest philosophers in history believe that what drives men to greatness is wanton desire. Preteen Littlefinger could never have dreamt that he’d make this list. All he wanted was for his pretty friend Catelyn to requite his love. This simply shows that preteen boys have terrible taste in women. The guy’s entire life is defined by a crush on a heinous shrew who maliciously used him repeatedly, never once indicating that she even tolerated him as a human.

Catelyn lack of emotion in her dealings with Baelish strangely embedded themselves in his conscience. By watching the girl of his dreams act like user behavior was totally okay, he learned to do it himself. Look at him now. We’re looking at a guy who trains a hooker as a protégé, and the moment she shows any talent of her own, he’ll sell her to the crown for a night of inaccurate archery.

Martin’s work emphasizes that the two most dangerous players in Westeros are diametrically opposed. One wants righteous rulers, while the other believes that chaos is a ladder. We haven’t seen much of Littlefinger lately, and we might not for a while. He’s currently off building/acquiring an army. When he returns, no matter what else is happening, he’ll direct his officers straight to King’s Landing. His reign as king of the seven lands will cause Joffrey to seem like the ruler of Camelot by comparison.

2) Varys (The Spider)

If you’re looking for sage wisdom, Varys is your man. The show-runners have demonstrated this fact repeatedly throughout the years, revealing that the Spider knew the secret of the Lannister twins long before the rest of the Small Council. He also safeguarded the life of a different pair of siblings. One of them was too stupid and haughty to survive, while the other has not only lived but also prospered. Don’t mistake this as an indicator of Varys’s softness. Even in Westeros, not a lot of people keep their enemies hidden in crates at their homes. The only question is whether he has any interest in the Iron Throne itself, and the current answer is an emphatic no.

3) Roose Bolton

Sure, his bastard son has all the warmth of one of the brothers from Oasis, but here’s the thing about Roose Bolton. He was just a guy during his early appearances. There was no reason to believe he was going to be anything more. He’s the guy you think is lucky to get lines in the scene. In the early days, the only purpose of the character seems to be to demonstrate the leadership abilities of Ned and Robb Stark. Then, one day he RSVPs a wedding, and suddenly even Littlefinger gets a bit nervous around him.

As part of the deal he cuts then, you think he has to accept a… Fat Walda as his bride. Only later do we realize that this, too, was part of his plan. Fat Walda has needs, and Roose Bolton is a man who gets the job done. Even as he’s putting some eggs in Ramsay Bolton’s basket, he’s finding other uses for various eggs. Roose tested a smile once. He didn’t care for it, and he decided to never do it again. Rather than waste any time filling that canister, he’s all in on power. He’s the specific reason that there’s one less direwolf in the world. That’s cause enough to rank him in the top three.

4) Tyrion Lannister

Tyrion is one of two players on this list who we believe could feasibly wind up number one in the end. Littlefinger won’t get there. He’s a too-tall Napoleon Bonaparte, and if he ever bounces a single check, his men will cook him and eat him. If Westeros had Instagram, that picture would get all the likes.

The reason Tyrion isn’t any higher is because he’s had something holding him back – a loveless father. Unlike Roose Bolton, Tywin Lannister had actual affection for his wife, a radical concept in any story, and he never forgave his son for her death. Virtually all of the blunders Tyrion has suffered have involved his family in some way. The fact that he had a good read on everyone isn’t the point. They had the power and he had the animus. With a lighter touch, he could have achieved the same results without winding up shipped out on a crate across the Narrow Sea. Still, he fell upward and somehow woke up one day to discover that he was the temporary ruler of Meereen. Sure, he’s basically Julia Louis-Dreyfuss right now (aka Veep), but as his sister once stated, “Power is power.”

Also, the Imp’s new de facto Secretary of State is really damned good. The current leader left the place in disarray. Tyrion can earn a real chance at the Iron Throne if his Reconstruction is successful.

5) Ser Jorah Mormont

There’s love. There’s devotion. And then there’s whatever Ser Jorah feels toward his Khaleesi. What he experiences for her is a fixation bordering upon slavery. Neither one of them is currently in a good spot, but for all of Daenerys Targaryen’s problems, at least she’s not turning to stone. Still, here’s the truth about Ser Jorah. When we first met him, he was giving advice to her and her brother. His suggestions have led to her becoming a Dothraki queen, leader of an allegedly badass army, and the unquestioned ruler of a free Meereen. Game of Thrones has explicitly demonstrated that each of her mistakes transpired when she failed to take Jorah’s advice, or after she’d sent him away. Mormont isn’t going to win this game, because he has no inclination to do so. He’s arguably the most naturally gifted player, though.

6) Daenerys Targaryen

We’ve already listed some of her positives. We can tick off a couple more. She flipped the Unsullied in such a way that not only did they fight for her, but they are also death defyingly loyal. She also became the Abraham Lincoln of Meereen when she abolished slavery across the Narrow Sea. Oddly, these positives aren’t unquestionably good outcomes. Random street thugs can kill members of the Unsullied, one of the worst story mistakes of the series to date. Allegedly invincible warriors don’t lose fights to villagers armed only with torches and pitchforks.

Also, the slavery thing caused all the merchants (aka slave owners) to rebel as the Sons of the Harpy took up their part. The unexpected outcome of that uprising is that Khaleesi racked up some frequent flyer mileage on one of her babies before being captured and kidnapped by… more Dothraki. First of all, it can’t be good to be a Dothraki magnet. As a people, they’re Mayor of Khaleesi on Foursquare. She’s apparently going to be in peril this entire season until Ser Jorah comes to the rescue and saves her, presumably sacrificing his stone-based life for her sultry, flesh-toned one. Also, and this has nothing to do with the show itself, we hold her a little bit responsible for Terminator Genisys. We paid IMAX prices for that dreck.

7) Ramsay

Sure, he’s a psychopath, and that worked out horribly for Joffrey Baratheon. However, let’s talk about his “positives.” He is the only current heir to the Warden of the North. His wife claims the loyalty of all the people comprising these lands. As far as land-based marriages go, it was a masterful consolidation. Finally, the show spent the body of five seasons discussing what a masterful military mind Stannis Baratheon was. At the end of Season 4, Stannis appeared likely to stand as the strongest threat to the Lannisters. Ten episodes later, Ramsay’s army had totally crushed his ranks. The thing about sadists is that they’re great at leading troops. It’s easier if you don’t care if any of your men suffer and die.

The cons for Ramsey are rather obvious. We’ve already discussed how replaceable his father considers him to be. Also, his wife has run off with a penis-less man. We don’t really think of Ramsay as any master strategist the way that virtually everyone else on this list is. He’s the closest thing to the Joker on game of thrones. He just wants to watch the world burn.

8) Sansa

Every season, a few people complain about how sexist Game of Thrones is. It’s almost like they missed their history lesson about the Middle Ages. It wasn’t the ideal time to be a woman. Sansa’s been tossed around like delicious cattle. After years of hardship and a few awkward sexual encounters even by the standards of a teenage girl, things are finally starting to look up. She’s married to two of the most powerful men in the Seven Kingdoms. Sure, she never consummated the one marriage, and her other fella makes Ike Turner look like a Nicholas Sparks love interest. What matters, though, is that the people of the North love her, the warrior who slayed Stannis Baratheon has pledged fealty to her, and she’s the only chink in Littlefinger’s armor. We suspect Sansa is upwardly mobile in Seasons 6 and 7 – and when’s the last time we could say that of any Stark?

9) Ellaria Sand

Okay, this one seems crazy on the surface. Ellaria Sand has all the tact of Donald Trump. She threw all logic and reason out the window when she poisoned Princess Myrcella Baratheon. Within about 48 hours, Ellaria went ahead and overthrew her local government of Dorne, assassinating a prince who actually seemed quite kind to her. Now, the Sand Snakes are about to declare war on a people who are the weakest they have ever been and also broke. We don’t mean to badmouth Ser Pounce, but we don’t believe he can lead Tommen and the rest of the Lannister clan to victory. It’s nothing personal against the king, who is way too sweet to be a Lannister, but his presence on the Iron Throne is almost as big an abomination as Joffrey’s.

Still, we get the vibe that Ellaria will blow this because, you know, she’s a hothead reactionary. Side note: This is the first and possibly only week Ellaria would ever have made these rankings.

10) The Night’s King

Hey, if the purpose of the Game of Thrones is to claim all the lands, having an invincible army of wildly motivated undead creatures is a pretty nice start. The only downside is that the recent reintroduction of Valyrian steel into the equation makes him a lot more vulnerable than he was three episodes ago. If nothing else, he’ll always be the cheekiest bastard in Westeros.