With the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones on Sunday, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all the fathers of Westeros and rank them from worst to best.
If you’re at all familiar with the HBO series then you already know that there are hundreds of characters across the seven kingdoms and the eastern continent of Essos. So, for the sake of space, I am only ranking characters who played a significant role in the show and will not be discussing characters as they appear in the books.
I will also be doing my best to rate the characters only on their attributes as fathers and not any other actions they may do in the series.
Below is my list of 11 Westeros fathers, ranked from worst to best. It should go without saying, but in order to follow proper internet etiquette I feel compelled to mention that if you’re not caught up through season six, there may be **spoilers** ahead.
Without a doubt, Craster is by far the most vile father figure in the series. If you don’t recognize the name, it’s ok. He wasn’t in the show for very long and that’s something I’m completely ok with that.
Craster is wildling who lives just north of the Wall and despite being one of the free folk, he is considered an ally of the Night’s Watch and allows the men in black to use his fortified homestead as a refuge on their journeys north of the Wall.
What cements Craster on the bottom of this list is the fact that he marries, and in turn sleeps with, every daughter he conceives when they come of age. On top of that, he offers his male offspring as tribute to the White Walkers for immunity from their wrath – and so he doesn’t have any competition from heirs. Gross.
#10 Roose Bolton
Ok, so we don’t see a whole lot of Roose’s fathering skills in the series, directly, but we do see a lot of his actions as a man which I think could have a direct correlation to the delightful character we’ve all come to love and cherish, Ramsey Bolton!
So, where to begin? Roose was as a sworn ally to Winterfell and even serves as one of Robb Stark’s advisors during the war against the Lannisters. However, he turns against the King of the North and murders Robb and Catelyn Stark during the infamous Red Wedding.
King Joffrey appoints Roose as Warden of the North as a reward for killing Robb. Realizing he needs an heir, he turns to his bastard son, Ramsey Snow – the sadistic fuck who flayed Theon Greyjoy, feeds people to his dogs – including his stepmom and newborn brother, and gets his jollies off raping, torturing, and murdering people.
Great parenting Roose, you’re a great role model! Are you really surprised Ramsey stabbed you in the chest?
#9 Stannis Baratheon
For a long time, I really, really, liked Stannis. I mean, he wasn’t the most charismatic character but you could tell that he was a man of honor and put his love for his family above everything else, especially his daughter who he regrettably hid away from the public due to her disfigurement from greyscale.
What changed? Well, first of all, he impregnated the red priestess, Melisandre, with a demon baby who is sent on a mission to kill Stannis’ younger brother Renly. Not cool man!
Ok, let’s not even consider the demon baby for a minute, it’s still not the worst thing he did as a father. Throughout the series, after he learns that Joffrey isn’t his biological nephew, Stannis slowly declines as a favorable character as he becomes more and more obsessed with obtaining the Iron Throne.
He reaches the absolute bottom when he sacrifices his daughter to the Lord of Light in an attempt to gain the upper hand during his assault against Ramsey Bolton and Winterfell.
#8 Walder Frey
At first, Walder Frey appears to be a throw-away character – just an old man who has lived long enough to marry nine different women and sire, like, a thousand kids. When we first meet him, Robb and Catelyn Stark try to convince him to let Robb’s army cross the Green Fork.
Walder agrees to allow them to pass, but only if Robb marries one of his daughters and Arya marries one of his sons when she’s old enough. Neither Robb or Catelyn are fond of the idea, but agree to it. After that, you probably don’t think you’ll see this 90-year old character again, right? Wrong!
You see, Robb went off and did something stupid. He fell in love. Normally, parents would be happy for their child when they found someone they love, but Catelyn advised Robb to remember his promise to Lord Frey. But, young Stark cast aside his mother’s warning and followed his heart.
All seemed fine until the Starks go back to the Riverlands to attend the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey – the infamous Red Wedding – where both Robb and Catelyn were murdered.
While the consequences for not marrying his daughter seem a bit … severe, it’s hard to not understand how Walder Frey would be upset. This decision ultimately has consequences for him and his family when Arya Stark goes on her revenge tour and assassinates Lord Frey after feeding him a pie made from the meat of his sons.
It was very Titus Andronicus.
#7 Robert Baratheon
Ok, I know what you’re thinking, Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen aren’t his kids! You’re right, but during his life he did raise them as his own and he also sired 19 bastards.
On the surface, it may look like he gave his (non-bastard) children a lavish lifestyle fit for, well, royalty. All his children were finely clothed, well fed, and waited on day and night by castle staff. And he did this all despite draining the city’s coffers!
Truthfully, Robert Baratheon was a drunk and cared more about eating than he did ruling or taking care of his family. Hell, his brother-in-law was allowed to knock up his wife three times without him even knowing!
But at least his actions didn’t lead directly to the death of any of his children!
#6 Tywin Lannister
For me, the Lord of Casterly Rock is a character you love to hate. On one hand, he’s a ruthless military tactician who’s both smart enough to win wars and sly enough to pull many of the political strings influencing King’s Landing.
He’s also rich, which gives him the ability to get whatever he wants, including bribing his enemies into doing his dirty work (Roose Bolton).
On the other hand, he comes from an old family and strongly believes in honor and duty above all else. It’s this sense of duty and love for his family (and probably some desire for more power) that sends his heir to join the Kings Guard and his daughter to wed the king.
If we were to stop right there, Tywin wouldn’t be that bad of a parent. However, there is one thorn in his side which brings up questionable parenting: Tyrion, the imp.
There are many fan theories going around about why Tywin hates his son Tyrion, but according to the show, it’s because Tywin’s wife died in giving birth to Tyrion. While I can only imagine how difficult it is to lose your wife in childbirth, I think Tywin’s reaction is a bit much (unless the theories are true!).
Tywin stops at nothing to punish Tyrion, but it ultimately catches up to him when Tyrion kills Tywin with a crossbow to the chest while he sat on the toilet.
#5 Balon Greyjoy
Balon Greyjoy is another one of those interesting father figures who show complete admiration for one sibling and would just as soon assume the other was dead.
Balon Greyjoy is the lord of the Iron Islands and had four children, Rodrick, Maron, Yara, and Theon. Several years before the show began, Balon lead a rebellion against the Iron Throne which failed and resulted in the deaths of his two eldest sons, Rodrick and Maron.
As if that wasn’t enough, Theon, his youngest son and last living heir, was taken by Ned Stark to be a steward as a price for Balon’s obedience. As time went on, Theon grew up as a member of the Stark family, but always felt like an outsider. When the conflicts of the show unfolded, Theon was able to escape and return to the Iron Islands expecting a prince’s welcome. That didn’t happen.
Instead, Balon acted like his son was dead, just like his brothers, and decreed that Yara was the rightful heir to the Islands. In an attempt to regain his father’s trust, Theon sets out to take over Winterfell. Although he ultimately succeeds, the deed is short lived as he is quickly captured, tortured, and dehumanized by Ramsey Bolton.
All that could’ve been avoided with a simple “Welcome home son, I missed you.” Nice job Balon!
#4 Mace Tyrell
Mace is the Lord of Highgarden, husband to the charismatic Olenna Tyrell, and father to the Knight of Flowers, Loras Tyrell, and the smoke show that is Margaery Tyrell.
Mace isn’t lower on this list because he’s one of the few characters in the show to NOT royally screw things up for his family. He’s also not higher on the list because he hasn’t really done anything to help his family prosper.
When watching the show, it becomes painfully obvious that the Tyrell family is run by his wife. She holds all the power and she makes all the moves to get Margaery into the Red Keep and move her family up the Westeros version of the socio-economic ladder.
Mace is just kind of there and he’s kind of an idiot. Yes, he serves on the King’s small council at one point, but it’s more symbolic than anything else.
#3 Jaime Lannister
Jaime Lannister is one of my favorite characters in this show. I like him so much because he’s probably the most multi-faceted character who you grow to love after his less-than-impressive introduction where he bangs his sister in an abandoned tower in Winterfell.
If you didn’t know already, Jaime is the twin brother to Cercei, who is Robert Baratheon’s queen. Jaime and Cercei share a special sibling connection and he is the biological father to all of Cercei’s children.
Jaime’s story as a father is actually kind of heart wrenching. Not because incest frowned upon in Westeros (and the real world if you were wondering!), but because Cercei is married to the king, which means Jaime is forced to watch his children be raised by another man. The only consolation is that as a member of the King’s Guard, he is able to live and work around them every day.
Through this all, however, Jaime loves his children and he proves it time and time again throughout the series. Tragically, his love (and even his sword) is not enough to protect his children from dying one-by-one until they’re all gone.
He also gets extra points for being the only person on this list who is still alive!
#2 Ned Stark
Wait, what? Ned Stark isn’t number one? I know, you were probably expecting the noble Eddard Stark to be a shoo-in for the gold medal. But, before you start declaring shenanigans, hear me out.
We all love Ned, who is masterfully played by one of my favorite actors, Sean Bean. It’s also abundantly obvious in the short amount of time we see him on screen that he loves his family with every fiber of his being and does everything in his power to give his children the best life possible.
However, like Tywin Lannister, Ned comes from an old family and lives his life by a noble code. When I took a closer look at the events of the first season, one thing jumped out to me. This code, which many of the lords live by, and Ned’s decision to confront Cercei about the heritage of her children, was the catalyst for the events which killed his wife and sons Rob and Rickon.
Because of that decision, a crippled Bran had to travel north of the wall, Winterfell was taken over by a ruthless bastard who raped and tormented his daughter Sansa, and his youngest daughter, Arya, had to learn how to be a killer just to survive.
Ned, we love you, but your hubris came with a hefty price!
#1 Jeor Mormont
And finally, my number one choice for the best dad in Westeros! Jeor Mormont, the “Old Bear,” was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and former Lord of Bear Island. He’s also father to our favorite friend-zoned outcast, Jorah Mormont.
Jeor earned the #1 spot because all of his actions throughout the series, up until his death, appear to be well intentioned for his family – whether that’s his namesake family on Bear Island or his adoptive family in the Night’s Watch.
There is some question as to why Jeor left his home to join the Night’s Watch, but the main theory is that he left his home to make way for his heir, Jorah, to take over as Lord of Bear Island. This is a noble sentiment considering all the other crusty old lords who would probably throw anyone, including their family, under the proverbial bus to maintain their seat of power.
Whatever the reason, Jeor becomes a member of the Night’s Watch and quickly climbs the ranks up to Lord Commander where he takes on Ned Stark’s bastard, John Snow, as his personal steward to groom him for command. Although he’s tough on him, Jeor really does serve as a father figure to Jon and tries to guide him the best he can.
That does it for my list. What did you think? Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!