We are days away from the final season of Game of Thrones; one of the greatest shows of all-time! In preparation for the season premiere on April 14th, we are looking back at the first seven seasons and making lists about…everything!
Today, we are looking at who grew and developed most over the course of seven seasons…
Here we go!
Ten Best Character Developments
Where They Started: As the Game of Thrones Wiki elegantly states, “While Bronn begins as a common and obscure mercenary, over the course of the narrative his fortunes continue to gradually rise.”
How They Developed: Bronn came into the service of Tyrion by killing Lady Lysa’s champion in his first trial by combat. Afterwards, he became a critical agent of the Lannisters, learning honor, decency, and mercy as he climbed from sellsword to Lord.
Hot Take: Just kidding. He’s still as rotten and dirty as always and that’s why we love him. Bronn was amazing from the start. His development was more around his climb and not personal growth. When Oberyn Martell asked how a person who kills people for a living rose to head of the City Watch, Bronn replies, he “must have killed the right people…” Classic Bronn…. That said, for all the show’s seriousness, he is still joyful when it comes to talking to Dickon Tarley…
9. Bran Stark
Where They Started: A wide eyed little boy with a quest for adventure.
How They Developed: After his crippling fall, he escaped Theon’s taking of Winterfell and journeyed North of the Wall to become the new Three Eyed Raven.
Hot Take: He went from a precocious child to an awkward but proud adolescent (man is going through puberty in front of the world awkward!) to a monotone, stoic greenseer. He has really been three different characters in the show.
Where They Started: Varys, as the Master of Whisperers, was the person I trusted least in the show at the beginning. He seemed to be up to no good no matter what was going on. Everything that eventually flowed to Littlefinger, I suspected of Varys.
How They Developed: Along the way, he became one of the real good guys of the show. He cares about putting the person on the Iron Throne that would help the common people live in peace and prosperity.
Hot Take: Sure, he’s made tough decisions and done awful things, but at least his motives are pure. He even risked death to warn Daenerys that should she follow in her mad father’s footsteps, he would not support her claim. Plus, his bromance with Tyrion has been fun to watch…
Where They Started: Daenerys was naive and scared at the series beginning. The future ruler of everything started as mere property her slimy brother traded to a Khal for his army.
How They Developed: Slowly, with each hardship or victory, Daenerys learned how to be strong, fierce, and regal.
Hot Take: I am not a huge fan of Emilia Clarke, because the character is bigger than her acting skills require, but the character itself is quite impressive. Daenerys really has risen from near death in the desert to someone with the power to wipe out the ruling classes of Westeros. It has been a very organic process too, which we have seen play out season by season.
6. Samwell Tarley
Where They Started: Sam was a coward, sent to the wall by his Lord father to become a man and to prevent him from inheriting Horn Hill.
How They Developed: Sam never became the real “slayer” they teasingly called him for killing a White Walker, but he is no longer a coward. He fought bravely when needed but swordplay was not his contribution to the Great War. Sam uses his natural curiosity to become a leader in the fight as well as a de facto husband and father.
Hot Take: Sam’s scenes in the Citadel were amazing. He still had his goofy innocence, but gone was the lack of confidence he demonstrated in the early episodes. He finally shook off the mental abuse of his father and became his own man.
5. Cersei Lannister
Where They Started: Cersei was always a schemer, but she was subject to the whims of others. She was under the thumb of her father. Embarrassed by Robert’s antics. Even forced to watch as her oldest son ran wild and her youngest children were used.
How They Developed: Cersei used the awful tragedies that fell her way to harden her resolve. She endured the death of her children, father, and the isolation from her brother-lover. Then she endured the humiliation of walking naked through the streets. Ultimately, she got her revenge…and when Cersei swings for the fences, she doesn’t miss.
Hot Take: Though she was an evil character, remember how awful it was when Robert struck her? Can you imagine someone daring to strike her now? The destruction of the Great Sept would look like a picnic.
4. Jon Snow
Where They Started: Jon was a whiny, emo bastard who went off to join the Night’s Watch because he couldn’t become a Lord or Knight like his noble brothers.
How They Developed: He travels down a very hard road. He learned the Nights Watch was not the organization in Naan’s stories; it was filled with rapists and murderers. Then he infiltrated the Wildlings and fell in love with one who was killed in battle. Then he helped save the Wildlings, only to be killed by his own men. He was then resurrected by a witch and became king.
Hot Take: That’s a lot of shit!!! How the fuck is he not #1?
3. Arya Stark
Where They Started: She was a little noble lady who wanted to be a knight. She was mischievous and playful early on; spending most of her time arguing with her big sister, Sansa.
How They Developed: Though Jon gave her a sword and Ned got her lessons, she was very much a little girl early in the series. When Ned died, she had to survive on her own. Forced to impersonate a boy, hide in plain sight from Tywin Lannister, and escape captivity of several factions who would use her for their own ends. After acquiring a taste for killing, Arya went east to Braavos to learn from the best: a secretive group of assassins known as the Faceless Men.
Hot Take: Arya is now as emotionless as Bran but for an entire different reason. He has used his greensight to see through space and time and was forever impacted. Arya only had to see the horrors around her to be equally changed.
2. Jamie Lannister
Where They Started: Talk about a smarmy villain fresh from Central Casting. Jamie was practically the medieval version of an 80s Rom Com bad guy…like the jerk who doesn’t treat his girlfriend right. He was chucking kids out the window and embracing his dishonor. Wasn’t that a plotpoint in Sixteen Candles?
How They Developed: Then he met Brienne. His road trip with her fundamentally changed him. It blossomed when he asked her sadly to call him Jamie instead of Kingslayer. From there, Jamie began trying to rebuild his reputation and redeem his very soul. Slowly, but organically, he tries to make the right choices. He is also visibly hurt when others hold him to his past. It was a very deft performance by Costas-Walder.
Hot Take: Think about what motivated Jamie most of the series: his love for Cersei. However, in the final episode last season, he is finally so driven by honor, he is willing to incur her wrath to fulfill his commitment to fight the army of the dead. So who was better than Jamie???
1. The Hound
Where They Started: The Hound was pretty much a one dimensional character at the show’s start. He was a quiet brute with a slightly interesting element or two in his backstory. Otherwise, though, he was a basic character thug you make look strong and then kill off to make some protagonist look even stronger.
How They Developed: Then Sandor met the Stark girls. His first glimmer of humanity was when he went out of his way to protect Sansa during a riot in King’s Landing. He later helped her from time to time despite Joffrey’s cruelty toward her. But, it was his relationship with Arya that seemed to impact him most. While on the road trying to take her to her family (for a reward), he seemed to bond with her in a way that was very foreign to him. Despite being on her list, The Hound seemed to like and respect Arya; who was very different that the rest of the royal “cunts” he encountered. After Brienne defeated him in combat, leaving him for dead, he met the next shepherd on his journey to redemption: Brother Ray. Ray taught him about how you gave yourself a second chance in life by trying to make things better for others. The Hound’s redemption story is still unfolding, but consider how different he was when he and the Brotherhood happened upon the house of the father and daughter he and Arya had encountered early in their journeys. The death of the family, which the Hound’s earlier cruelty may have hastened, really impacted him. While the others slept, the Hound, who earlier cared about no one…not even himself… gave the father and daughter as proper a burial as he could muster.
Hot Take: All signs point to the redemption of the Hound ending with Cleganbowl…a duel between The Hound and his even MORE evil brother, The Mountain. Where, earlier, this would have been like figuring out if you would rather see The Patriots or the Yankees win another title, now…because of his development…the Hound is clearly the people’s favorite!