Westeros has a lot of badasses but who was the biggest badass in the history of the realm? The contenders are plentiful but as Highlander says there can only be one. Lets get are knees dirty, swords bloody, and bowels filled with dysentery this is the countdown of the biggest badasses Westeros has ever seen.
Reminder: This article contains spoilers from all the Song of Ice and Fire series written by George RR Martin novels to date. If you are a watcher of the HBO show Game of Thrones or haven’t fully read all the novels readers beware.
Honorable Mentions: Before I begin the list I would like to give a quick shout out to all the characters to barely miss the list. You fought valiantly, you fought nobly, you fought bravely, and you died…. or missed the cut sorry.
Victarion Greyjoy- I haven’t seen enough of you yet and post Winds of Winter I might think differently. You own a horn that can control dragons(possibly), wears and fights in full plate armor on a ship and don’t need no goddamn anesthetic for your hand. Every other Greyjoy might be boring and a waste of page space but I feel Victarion might make for an interesting winter.
Stannis Baratheon- The man of iron, nobody thought Stannis would be the last man standing in the war of the 4 kings. But with his will and pure tenacity (plus a bit of blood magic doesn’t hurt either) Stannis is standing strong on the cusp of war with the wall itself, It took awhile but fans may have finally converted to the will of Stannis as the one true king.
Barristan Selmy- Can’t let one of the greatest swordsmen in Westeros’ history without going unmentioned. Not only was he a hell of a fighter in his prime but he’s not too shabby as an old-timer as well. Standing up to Joffrey and killing his way out of King’s Landing before setting out east shows he's not quite ready to put down the gauntlets just yet.
Beric Dondarrion- AKA the unkillable man, what Beric Dondarrion lacks in fighting prowess he makes up for in longevity. The man died seven times before deciding to finally end his life by giving his life force to Catelyn Stark aka Lady Stoneheart after the Red Wedding. He formed the brotherhood without banners as well as fighting both Clegane brothers head on. Not too shabby lord of lightning, not too shabby.
Gregor Clegane- Speaking of Clegane, how could this article be written without mentioning the man simply known as “the mountain”. Big, mean, and nasty, if you look up those words in the dictionary every time this man’s picture would show up next to it. Burning his brother, probably killing his dad, and cutting horses in two. There is nothing nice or noble about this man, but that doesn’t matter as he is one big strong mother. Very few could go toe to toe with him on the battlefield and when they did they generally lost. Taking out the viper after being poisoned and stabbed repeatedly through the chest, the mountain’s name lives on past his death….kind of.
With the honorable mentions out-of-the-way it is time to get into the nitty-gritty of this list, the 10 biggest badasses in Westeros let’s begin with number ten shall we?
10) Khal Drogo
This countdown doesn’t even start in the land of Westeros but further east. Khal Drogo the former leader of the horsemen raiders known as the Dothraki, Khal Drogo stood head and shoulders above the great warriors within his own tribe. Khal Drogo and the Dothraki are closely related to the Mongol tribes and their leader, Genghis Khan, and if you know anything about the Khan you could see why Khal Drogo could easily fit on this list. From getting with a Westeros princess to ripping a guy's tongue out through his own neck, Drogo lived up to his name and legacy as a Khal.
The man was also the first Khalasar to think of crossing the narrow sea(due to the inkling of his wife) while him and his people were deathly afraid of sea water to make his son a king was a pretty ballsy move to bad a knife cut and a black magic lady screwed him over or Westeros could’ve had a few more problems to deal with.
9) Ser Bronn
A true story of peasant to player, Bronn started as a sellsword for Tyrion, became the leader of the gold cloaks, became a lord of a rich family and getting land and a fat wife to go with it. Bronn’s wit, swagger and dark sense of humor turned him into one of my favorite characters in the entire series. His ability to fight dirty and pull out wins with odds stacked against him, shows his grit and calmness under pressure. While he isn't the strongest fighter or strategist on this list, he definitely has some of the strongest intangibles of any character the Song of Ice and Fire universe has to offer.
8) Randyll Tarly
Simply known as the Chuck Norris of Westeros by many a fan on the internet forums, Randyll Tarly, the father of Sam Tarly, considered by most the greatest battle tactician Westeros has to offer. He has never lost a battle and was the only man to defeat Robert Baratheon’s forces in the battle of Ashford during Robert’s Rebellion. Very little is known about Randyll Tarly as his appearance in the books have been short but one thing for certain is he hates weak sons. By the time Samwell reached adulthood, Randyll decided that if Sam is either going to take the black or go on an unfortunate hunting trip, as he doesn’t want someone as weak as Sam taking over his lordship after his death. While Randyll might not win any father of the year awards, listening to Sam whine and complain over the years I can’t say I blame him for doing what he did.
7) Sandor Clegane
The other brother of the Clegane crew, Sandor Clegane better known as the hound gets my 7th spot for the most badass characters in all of Westeros. Now some people might be thinking why I would put the hound over the mountain in terms of badassery and for me it’s quite simple. Sandor is just a much more interesting and written character than his brother. Only once in the series have we seen the hound and mountain go at it. The hound held his own if not gotten the advantage of his older brother. I’m not going to say that the hound could’ve taken his mountainous brother but I don’t think their fighting abilities are that incomparable of another to say so for certain.
What makes Sandor a better character and in turn a better badass is the amount of grey his personality holds. While by no means am I saying the hound is an outstanding stand up citizen but he also isn’t the homicidal maniac his brother is either. His fear of fire, hero damsel in distress relationship with Sansa, and the up and down journey he had with Arya, Sandor was the epitome of a dark heart and gentle soul. Like his brother, the hound “disappeared” from the novels and presumed dead. But with an inkling of recent activity near the quiet isle. We might have not seen the last of Sandor Clegane in one form or another.
6) Robert Baratheon
King Robert was a shell of his former self by the time the a Game of Thrones rolled around. He was fat, drunk, and unaware of his Kingdoms downfall while living in it. But still Robert was formidable as they come in his youth. Swinging a giant war hammer around like the god of thunder himself. He started a rebellion against the king for a woman he loved and took on the man who took her from him, Rhaegar the Dragonknight, and bringing him down by himself.
A battlefield genius the only man to get the better of him strategically was Randyll Tarly himself. Robert was strong, willed, and never had impotence problems like of his brother. The man had enough bastards to create his own army and probably should have, as everyone around him pretty much wanted him dead.
5) Jaime Lannister
While Bronn is the epitome of peasant to player, Jaime Lannister's story is one of redemption as a man who had it all, money, fame, swordsmanship, women (ok his sister). Lost it all (including his sword hand). And now, with a new ideology and outlook on life is back on the up and up. Before the loss of his hand you could argue that there was no better fighter living in the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire than one Ser Jaime Lannister. Along with Barristan they held the tradition and stature of the Kingsguard while the rest fell into mediocrity. When malnourished and chained up he was still able to give Brienne of Tarth the best fighter in Renly’s “rainbow guard” a run for her money.
For some reason many fans, mostly of just the TV show think that Jaime is just a chump that got into the Kingsguard due to his father's influence. But Jaime earned everything he got, the squire of the sword of the morning, fending off the Smiling Knight, and toying with Eddard Stark even though the TV show didn’t want to show it that way, trust me he did. At this point in the series Jaime's prime fighting days are definitely over but he is definitely one of the 3 most interesting characters still in the novels today.
4) Oberyn Martell
No man has made as much of an impact in as little time as Oberyn Martell AKA the Red Viper did in the second half of the third book A Storm of Swords. Now placing him this high might be a bit biased as I have affinity towards this character but it’s my article so butt out.
The red viper rode into King’s Landing with swagger and revenge on his mind, his one goal, killing Gregor Clegane. He was the only one to defend Tyrion in his trial and promised to fight for him in a trial of combat. His opponent, you guessed it, the Mountain himself. He wanted to kill Gregor as he raped and murdered his sister Elia, along with her son at the sack of King’s Landing. While the fight ended up killing him, he wasn’t without victory as he stabbed Gregor multiple times with his spear dipped in poison. This caused Gregor to die an extremely slow and painful death, one that was rightfully deserved.
Short but sweet, Oberyn didn’t stay around long but he gave us memorable lines, the introduction to Dorne, and the greatest battle the series ever had. He will rightfully, always be remembered as one of the most badass characters the series has seen so far.
3) Arthur Dayne
Arthur Dayne better known as the Sword of the Morning was one of King Aerys Kingsguard and said to have been one of the greatest knights to have ever lived. When you are the best knight on a crew that included a prime Barristan Selmy and Jaime Lannister you know that you are a serious threat. Not only was he respected as a fighter he was also considered the most chivalrous knight around. When you have Eddard Stark, Barristan Selmy, and Jaime Lannister all had great admiration for his demeanor and poise, and you know getting Ned and Jaime to agree on anything is an accomplishment in itself.
His sword was also the coolest weapon to mentioned in the novels as of now. Many powerful people and houses have weapons made of Valyrian Steel, but how about a sword made of a fallen Star? A goddamn Star! His great sword better known as Dawn, was a sharp as Valyrian Steel and glowed. Using Dawn, Arthur was able to take out the Kingswood Brotherhood as well as it’s leader known simply as the Smiling Knight. The Smiling Knight explained by Jaime “The Mountain of his time” saying “He was half as big but twice as mad”. Not only did Arthur beat the Smiling Knight, he beat him chivalrously. In the middle of the battle Arthur broke the knights sword, instead of killing him there he let the Smiling Knight get a new weapon and restart the battle, this time finishing the fight and killing him.
The Daynes have been pretty quiet post Robert’s Rebellion, after the death of Arthur at the tower of Joy, Dawn and it’s wielder's title of Sword of the Morning has never been used again. But what's to say that in the Winter that’s about to come a new Dayne will rise to take the title and it’s legendary lineage? We will just have to wait and see.
2) Tywin Lannister
The Tony Soprano of Westeros, Tywin was the richest and most powerful man in the crime syndicate known as House Lannister. Tywin served as Hand of the King for King Aerys II for many years before, turning on him at the end of Robert Rebellion.
What's so cool and refreshing about Tywin is he never played the Game of Thrones, at least as himself, Tywin never seemed to want the moniker of King, he’d rather just fund them and give them advice. Post Aerys the title of King held little in terms of real power, at least to the people that mattered. While everyone acknowledged Robert as King they knew that the one funding the operation was Tywin himself and without support from Tywin, the Kingdom would crumble.
Through half of the series’ it felt as though Tywin was the marionette and everyone else were on his strings. Tywin lost battles but never a war and he made sure that anyone that crossed him would eventually get what’s coming to the them. How many people get a song written about them for wiping out an entire house? Just one and you’re looking at him.
Tywin turned the Lannister name from a great house to THE HOUSE of Westeros. He built wealth, alliances, and power all in the Lannister name all in the span of one lifetime. By no means was Tywin Lannister a nice guy, he was cruel, manipulative, and apathetic to everyone around him. But in the world of Westeros, you couldn’t be successful by being a nice guy. Just ask Ned’s head how far living by strong morals and virtue gets you. Tywin wasn’t a King, he was bigger than a King, the way he did it was not pretty, chivalrous, or fantastical. It was gritty, scheming, and realistic, and in my playbook, that's pretty badass.
1) Aegon Targaryen
Aegon Targaryen most known by his friendly moniker of Aegon the Conqueror atops the of this list of Badasses for the simple reason of being, he rode dragons! Let me repeat that statement, he rode dragons! Aegon took what was seven separate and independent kingdoms, threw a bit of dragons fire in and created the current state of Westeros we have now.
Not only was he the unifier of the seven kingdoms and the forger of the Iron Throne, Aegon was the first in the long lineage of Kings and Queens known as the Targaryen Dynasty. Theres not much left to say as little is known about Aegon I. But conquering and ruling a continent while riding a gigantic black fire-breathing dragon, Aegon is the definition of badassery in the land of ice and fire.
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