If you’ve watched Game of Thrones before, then you know that the underlying plot of the show is in the title – every character is battling with each other for more power through any means necessary, and with that power comes leadership.
I mean, let’s get real – unless you want to be the next Mad King, you better have some leadership skills in order to rule the Seven Kingdoms.
Some of the characters on Game of Thrones are relatively well-suited for leadership roles, while others would be a trainwreck waiting to happen if they were to rule this fantasy world.
We’ve gone ahead and ranked the characters by leadership and compiled a list of the top 35 with two spots ending in ties.
This list does not include characters that are already dead. We know, that eliminates a LOT of candidates including Ned Stark, Rob Stark, Catelyn Stark, and the list of dead Starks seems to go on and on…
Here are the top leaders in Game of Thrones, starting with the worst and ending with the best!
33. Tommen Baratheon
How bad of a leader do you have to be if you’re the king and you STILL get ranked last? Really bad. Tommen Baratheon bad.
You have to admire the fact that he’s not a complete terror like Joffrey, and he seems to try hard, but his decisions (when he’s able to make one) reek of weakness.
Mama’s boys don’t make for great leaders, and until more recently Tommen’s been one of the biggest Mama’s boys around.
32. Robin Arryn
Nothing against people with breathing problems, but if you can’t get out a full sentence without wheezing uncontrollably, you might not have what it takes to be a great leader.
Easily manipulated and overly emotional, Robin makes for a horrible leader. He’s too young, too inexperienced, and too annoying to inspire people to follow him. All that alone ranks Robin second last for leadership abilities, and that’s not even mentioning his creepy fetish for Moon Door punishments…
31. Lord Edmure Tully
Remember this guy? Lord Edmure Tully had just about the worst wedding night in history, what with his family getting slaughtered outside his bedroom. Then he went on to spend his honeymoon locked in a prison cell.
Edmure’s back in action this season, but he’s easily manipulated and controlled by Jamie Lannister, even if being threatened to catapult a father’s child isn’t one of the worst threats we’ve ever heard…
Still, betraying his men and giving into his enemies without an ounce of fight demonstrates some poor leadership skills. Shame on you, Edmure.
30. Cersei Lannister
This latest season has not been Cersei’s best. Not only was she imprisoned, she was forced to go bare Lannister through the city streets. Then, her son Tommen finally grew a spine and destroyed her chances of clearing her name by using the Mountain for a trial by combat.
Even though Cersei has a knack for manipulation and ultimately getting what she wants, she doesn’t inspire followers, as she’ll have just about anyone killed or tortured on a whim. She also couldn’t even bully an old, decrepit grandmother into doing what she wants in a recent episode, so maybe Cersei is just losing her edge in general.
29. Mace Tyrell
His nickname, the Lord of the Flowers, pretty much says it all, as he’s one of the weakest leaders we’ve seen in the Game of Thrones realm yet.
Flower Lord has had both of his children imprisoned by the Faith, and while he’s had a seat on the council, nonetheless. He also wears the expression of a complete buffoon almost all of the time, and most leaders at least look like they know what they’re doing.
28. Bran Stark
Bran has not been a good Stark this year, getting character after character killed with his foolish mistakes. First, the Three Eyed Raven, then his direwolf, Summer, and finally (and worst of all), poor, stupid Hodor.
All of these mistakes were completely preventable, and Bran was directly responsible for each of them. Strong leaders don’t always listen, but when it’s clearly good advice, they usually do!
If not for good ole’ uncle Benjen, Bran would be dead right now. Definitely not leadership material.
27. Yohn Royce
Royce has good intentions – we’ll give him that. He clearly cares about the Vale, and possibly he even cares for despicable little Lord Arryn.
Royce is clearly capable of running things, as he’s basically been the regent while Baelish was gone, but in the end he was outsmarted and outplayed by Littlefinger, and that can’t be forgiven.
Varys makes for some great witty banter with Tyrion, but he’s not really a front of the line guy that you count on when times are tough. He’s more of a “hide in the shadows and reference “little birds” a million times” kind of guy.
Maybe his trip to Westeros will lift his ranking in the future, but for now he takes spot 26.
25. Ramsay Bolton
No one can question Ramsay’s effectiveness up to this point.
He’s completely seized the north, took firm hold of House Bolton by brutally killing his father, and he married Sansa to basically capture the Stark name for his own nefarious purposes.
Here’s the problem: There’s no way people are going to let this guy live much longer. Take a lesson from the Mad King: if you get too crazy and kill too many people, there’s going to be an uprising. Uprisings usually seem to work. Count on Ramsay getting his just desserts soon and joining the long list of deceased in Game of Thrones lore.
24. Jaqen H’ghar
If someone asked you to name a badass on Game of Thrones, Jaqen would probably be pretty high on the list, but the guy runs an assassin training program from hell.
Also, consistency is not his strength. First he wants Arya dead and sends Waif to kill her, then Arya kills the Waif and he’s totally cool with it. Then he just lets Arya go like it’s no big deal?
Maybe it makes sense if you’re crazy, and maybe Jaqen H’ghar is literally crazy, but inconsistencies like that don’t make great leaders.
23. Theon Greyjoy
This might seem like a low blow because Theon has been, perhaps, the most mistreated character in the past few seasons; not to mention he’s missing some key parts these days, but for God’s sake so is Varys and he’s more of a man!
The only reason Theon is higher up on this list than he would’ve been a season ago as Reek is because he seems to be reclaiming some of his dignity and might actually prove to have some good leadership potential in him still.
22. Margaery Tyrell
Margaery is great, don’t get us wrong! Unfortunately being married to a sissy of a king and being controlled by the Faith Militant drags you down a few spots on the leadership list.
It’s likely that Margaery has some strong moments left in her, and we would count on her taking some powerful actions in the upcoming episodes, if an opportunity arises.
The Red Witch has been wrong more than she’s been right lately. First, her oft talked about Prince That Was Promised turned out to be a scam, and she also horrifically burned one of the sweetest characters on the show (RIP poor Shireen).
Still, Melisandre clearly has the power to inspire and lead, after all, she did lead Stannis to his death…
20. Tormund Giantsbane
Tormund is the main reason the Free Folk are willing to form an Alliance with Jon Snow and the North Folk.
Someone able to unite diverse groups that usually hate each other has some serious leadership skills. Not to mention, he has an incredible beard, which we’re sure earns mad respect from his followers.
19. Ellaria Sand
We don’t know an awful lot about Ellaria yet, but her story is likely far from finished. She basically seems to be the new ruler of Dorne since killing Doran and Trystane, but do we really care?
The real battle is in Westeros, and those snow zombies don’t care that her precious paramore was killed by the Mountain! Ellaria has the strength of a leader, but her actions coming up next season will determine her true abilities.
18. Walder Frey
Next to Joffrey, this guy takes the cake for one of the most despised characters ever. First he kills all our favourite characters at once, and then he can’t even hang on to Riverrun.
The Freys lead by being bullies and going back on their word – not qualities that lead to long and prosperous kingdoms. The only reason he’s not ranked worse on the list is he’s still alive after a lifetime of being the worst. That has to count for something!
17. Kevan Lannister
Kevan’s one of the few Lannisters that seems to have some kind of moral compass, but he lives in fear in King’s Landing, and his son has been brainwashed by the deranged Faith.
Kevan barely has anyone he can trust (definitely not Cersei and Jaime), and although he seems pretty competent, it doesn’t look great for him right now. His only hope right now is to stay close to Tommen and hope that this king doesn’t get killed anytime soon.
16. Benjen Stark
Benjen is our long-shot, the guy we’ve been pulling for since the series beginning resurface and help retake the north as a proud Stark. We haven’t had a chance to see much from Benjen yet, but we’re hoping his story arc continues long enough to help Bran grow-up and be the Luke Skywalker to his Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Unfortunately that means he’ll probably end up dying like Kenobi did…
15. Davos Seaworth
Although not the most talked about character, Davos has actually had a key role in helping Jon and Sansa take back the north. He’s still more of a right-hand man than he is THE man, but he has the ability to lead on a smaller scale.
Davos will never be a king, but he might make for a great Hand to the King.
14. Olenna Tyrell
This old lady doesn’t take crap from anyone, and that might be her most redeeming quality. The Queen of Thorns knows how to spar with the liars and backstabbers in King’s Landing, and she’s the real power in House Tyrell. Her only recent setback has been the imprisonment of her grandchildren, Loras and Margaery.
Good leaders know how to retreat though, and after realizing Margaery has a plan in place, she made one of the smartest decisions you can in Game of Thrones: get the hell out of King’s Landing before it’s too late!
13. Jaime Lannister
If Cersei is at stake, Jaime will do just about anything. As twisted as that is, you have to give it to him: he gets stuff done.
Jaime knows his military strategies, has the ability to manipulate and mastermind clever plans, and he cares just enough about the people surrounding him to not get back-stabbed at any waking moment. One of the only smirks on his name is the fact that the Kingslayer title still follows him around…
12. Sansa Stark
From Tyrion’s wife to Ramsay’s wife, Sansa has finally grown strong enough to stand up for herself and be a leader for the people of the North. With Rickon and her treasured home, Winterfell, at stake, Sansa has the motivation to do what needs to be done – which we’re hoping means bringing some justice to that bastard Ramsay.
Sansa is bold, passionate, and deserves to be taken seriously as a bonafide leader.
11. Beric Dondarrion and Thoros
Although not leaders on the grand scale, they do lead the Brotherhood Without Banners, and they’ve managed not to get killed in the process – well, not perma-killed, at least…
They know how to get justice quickly, immediately executing the jerks that killed the Hound’s friends. They care about keeping their reputation stellar, and they’ve clearly earned the respect of their men. This two-fer makes up spot 11 on the leadership list.
10. Eddison Tollett
In case you missed it, Eddison is the new Commander of the Night’s Watch! There was no grand ceremony to announce his new position, but that’s fitting of Dolorous Edd, as he’s a humble guy that knows how to quietly lead.
Eddison might need to own his new position more than he currently is, but with time we’re confident he’ll make a great leader of the Watcher’s on the Wall.
9. Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion is an effective leader, and he’s shown it while manning the post for Joffrey as Hand of the King and Daenerys while she was MIA. His main issues are his overconfidence, always assuming he knows what’s best. In the latest episode, he was sorely mistaken about the Masters and now they’ve attacked Meereen. This was directly because of a mistake Tyrion made in his negotiations while he acted more as a politician than as a leader.
Hopefully with the Queen of Dragons back, Tyrion can go back to what he knows best: Drinking wine and filling the support role.
8. Grey Worm
While Grey Worm doesn’t rank the highest on the food chain, he does know how to lead the Unsullied, even against the worst odds. His sense of strategy and military prowess were on display in a recent episode when he devised how to best defend Meereen.
He’s still not worldly or wise enough to lead on a greater scale, but with some help from his girlfriend Missandei we’re confident he’ll come out of his shell.
Missandei has been on a role so far this season. She was correct in her analysis of the situation with the Masters, showing more know-how than Tyrion.
Not only does she speak all the languages, but she’s shown a knack for diplomacy, and she has good instincts.
All that’s lacking is more experience, and with her close position to Daenarys, we’re guessing that’ll come soon.
6. Euron Greyjoy
Crazy uncle Euron turned up recently, and much to Theon and Yara’s dismay, he made some big moves right off the bat.
After taking his brother out of the picture by throwing him off a bridge (damn, that was cold), he went on to win the Ironborn to his side with a spot-on speech. Now, he’s in charge of the Iron Islands and he’s got a gameplan to boot.
Is he a nice guy? No, definitely not, but he has the makings of an effective leader.
5. Yara Greyjoy
Even though she lost the throne to her uncle Euron and was forced to flee the Iron Islands, Yara still shows a lot of potential.
By convincing the whole fleet to follow her in her escape, she demonstrated her popularity and quick thinking abilities.
Not only does she have the skills to lead her Ironborn, she might even be able to stir Theon from his member-less funk. If she can do that, she’s a real leader.
4. Petyr Baelish
No one knows what Littlefinger wants, and in fact Littlefinger himself might not even know. When asked, his answer was, “everything.” He might not have it all yet, but he’s definitely made some solid progress and appears to be on the right path.
Littlefinger isn’t the most in-your-face type of leader, but he’s cunning enough to orchestrate complex and dangerous plans and he’s effective enough to always get what he wants.
We’re not sure he’ll have many friends in the end, but thankfully that doesn’t seem to be high up on his list.
3. Brienne of Tarth
So far, Brienne has played the role of follower more than leader.
Besides mentoring Podrick in the ways of knighthood, she doesn’t have the most experience.
What she does have is loyalty, wisdom, strength, and the ability to stay true to herself. Those qualities can’t be minimized, and as a result she’s become a pretty kickass knight.
2. Jon Snow & Daenerys Targaryen
We have Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen tied at number 2. They both have demonstrated some amazing leadership qualities all the while making some puzzling mistakes.
Jon Snow is always reluctant to be the leader, but once he takes hold of it he owns the position. He’s not in it for himself, he listens to the counsel of his advisors, and he earns the respect of everyone who follows him (besides all the people that killed him).
Daenerys Targaryen knows how to give an amazing speech. Doing it from on top of a dragon just makes it all the more epic. She was able to come back from her Dothraki kidnapping and turned a bad situation into a good one by earning the loyalty of the Dothraki people. Like Jon, she’s more than capable of earning people’s loyalty and affection (look no further than the two men currently in love with her).
These two make great leaders, and we really, really hope they don’t killed any time soon.
1. The High Sparrow
Surprised? You shouldn’t be! Guess who owns King’s Landing now? The High Sparrow himself.
It might not last forever and it might not even really matter in the long run (there are bigger things at stake), but it’s pretty impressive to come from nothing and somehow manage to turn nothing into a dictator-like position in the capital city. Especially since his background was apparently as a cobbler who realized there was more to life after getting drunk at a party, and now he’s basically controlling the king. Like popular rapper Drake, The High Sparrow “started from the bottom” and now he’s here.
He may be sincerely noble, or he might be totally evil. At the end of it all, what matters is that this guy has insane leadership skills. Just ask Lancel. That’s why The High Sparrow takes the number one spot on our list.