The Dads of Game of Thrones, ranked from best to worst

Game of Thrones is back for its final season and its time got in on some of those sweet sweet SEO clicks. I think a majority of our primary contributors don’t even watch the show, but I do and I actually re-watched the whole thing for the season premiere so I’d remember who was who and why I hate them. For a show that famously kills tons of characters, there are still far too many people to remember! One thing that really struck me on re-watch is that it’s like an Aaron Sorkin show on steroids based on the number of terrible fathers. Given all this competition, who’s the worst? Let’s get into it!

But First, Some Rules

  • Both father and child need to appear onscreen. This has to be a rule because everyone’s damn dad did a number on them on this show and and the list would build to thousands of characters otherwise.
  • This does means we have to exclude dads like Tormund, who we know has kids but we never see them.
  • The flip side of that is we don’t include any characters that must have little rugrats that look like them in every Free City in Braavos because they’re unrepentant whoremongers, which would be a lot of dudes.
  • They also need to have a name we know, unlike Olly’s dad. Sorry Olly’s dad! You probably didn’t deserve to be eating by cannibals!
  • Also, dads who appear in flashbacks or as corpses are only mentioned if they were so bad I felt they needed a shoutout.

Let’s begin. There will be a mountain of spoilers. This list mostly just spoilers.

Honorable Mentions:

Aerys II & Rhaegar Targaryen

These don’t make the main list because they only show up in Bran Stark’s visions and we’re not going to name every dad that shows up in these flashbacks (like Howland Reed & Rickard Stark), but we gotta talk about the Mad King and his supposedly ‘good’ son.

When it comes to Aerys, I think the fact that everyone in Westeros and Essos calls him The Mad King really tells you all you need to know. He burned Rickard Stark just for wanting his daughter Lyanna back. He killed a lot of people and wanted to kill a hell of a lot more. But I contend that Rhaegar is the true villain of House Targaryen. People spend all this time talking about he great he was when he was the one who took Lyanna. You can argue which action is more responsible for Robert’s Rebellion, but it’s definitely these two dudes fault. So many people died during Robert’s Rebellion and The Sack of King’s Landing, including Rhaegar’s wife and children. Oh wait, Elia Martell actually wasn’t his wife when she was raped and murdered by the Mountain because Rhaegar got a secret annulmnet to marry Lyanna Stark. This was during a war that he started and lost! A big part of being a dad is showing up for you family and he didn’t do that for anyone, including his new family.

Also, these guys were Viserys Targaryen’s primary male role models and look how he ended up.

Khal Drogo

While Drogo is an actual character in the show, his son Rhaego only appears in Daenerys’ visions in the House of the Undying (unless you count her baby bump, but if we did we gotta put Robb Stark on this list and that’s a road I ain’t goin down). He almost isn’t worth mentioning on this list, but the life of his son and countless others could have been saved if he didn’t let his Klingon Dothraki pride prevent him from getting proper medical treatment for a stab wound. When you’re a dad, you have to take care of yourself so you can be there for your family. Higine is an important part of that!

Now, The proper List

Jeor Mormont

Being at the bottom of this list means Jeor is the best dad! This is less a compliment and more a comment on the state of fatherhood in the Seven Kingdoms. Jeor took the black so his son Jorah could inherit his title and estate sooner (a move a lot of these dads should have copied). It didn’t work out perfectly as Jorah had to flee due to some light slave trading, but it feels like Jeor raised him ok as Jorah basically spends the rest of the show atoning for this (and later other things, but that’s a whole other piece). Also, the reverence of the men of the Night’s Watch for Jeor means one of them saved Jorah’s life when he contracted greyscale. That’s a solid dude.

Davos Seaworth

It was tough not putting The Onion Knight as the best dad, because he’s truthfully one of the more pleasant, funny, and useful characters on the show, but the tiebreaker is he brought his son to The Battle of The Blackwater. He’s not directly responsible for Matthos’s death, but he did lead a fleet that just got fucking owned by Tyrion Lannister.

Doran Martell

Happier Times on Deep Space Nine

Fans complain about the Dorne plotline as a lowlight for the show and I think it’s because for most of that time the Kingdom of Dorne is ruled by Doran, a totally reasonable person who was trying to avoid further violence either to or by his family. The problem with that is he was in the great game and as Cersei Lannister says: “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.” Doran seemed to playing for a tie, which you can’t do. I don’t have much of an opinion on his son and heir except that Doran’s actions (or inaction) got them both killed.

Ned Stark

Ned Stark! The ostensible hero of the show whose season one death shocked the world. How could he not be the best dad? His children and the people he ruled loved and respected him. Well, probably because he’s responsible for literally all of their misery. He’s basically Doran Martell but with wider ranging consequences. Not only was his plan to transfer power to Stannis while showing compassion to the Lannisters after King Robert’s death idiotic, it was poorly executed. He thought a piece of paper and the fact he was right were going to somehow sway Cersei and those loyal to her? He’s met he before right? There were a lot of options and he went with the one that cost him his head and started The War of The Five Kings. Without going into details, things have been suboptimal for House Stark since then.

Oberyn Martell

The Red Viper of Dorne is a very charismatic guy, but I don’t think I’d want to hang around him. It seems like family is important to him, but that’s mostly expressed by (poorly) trying to avenge his sister and her children while sometimes training his daughters by multiple women to be hotheaded killers. I know a lot of people think the Sand Snakes are badass, but more badasses don’t have great dads! He doesn’t appear to spend a ton of time with his kids and spends most of his time traveling, drinking, and sticking it wherever. Do they even have condoms in Westeros?

Mace Tyrell

Mace is far more genial than most powerful men on this show, but the dude is just less than worthless. I can’t even find a decent gif of him! He’s un-meme-able! He’s like a wet tissue came to life. It’s hard to imagine a lord of a great house being more oblivious or weak. If he had a half a brain and spine to go with it, House Tyrell might still be a thing. Instead, his children were tortured and humiliated by the High Sparrow and his religious fanatics, his lands and wealth were seized by the Lannisters, and his whole family’s dead!

[tie] Greatjon Umber & Richard Karstark

Without getting into their stories too much, these are both Stark Bannermen whose sons switched allegiances to House Bolton when their dads died. Those just seem like crappy sons they raised. I meant to post this before the season 8 premiere, but really this is the only ranking that would change; I should probably up Greatjon because what happened in his castle in the season premiere was unpleasant even for this show.

Jon Arryn

In deciding if we counted dads we only saw as corpses (like Hoster Tully), I decided no but I needed to make an exception for Jon Arryn because he sucks so hard. The War of the The Five Kings is kind of his fault as his death is what brings Ned Stark to King’s Landing. Ned then lost his head trying to figure out what got Jon killed. I thought The Hand of The King was supposed to be cunning!

Also, we gotta talk about his son Robyn, a weak, vain tyrant who is still breastfeeding as a tween. In addition to the extreme attachment parenting, his wife poisoned him. Dads gotta check in at home from time to time, see if everything’s ok as opposed to letting work take over your life and assume all’s well.

Kevan Lannister

The worst Hand of The King on the show is more importantly the dad of Lancel Lannister. He went from a cousin-schtupping, king-poisoning squire to a violent leader of the extremist Faith Militant. That much radical change in short time indicate a less than stable home life.

Robert Baratheon

None of his ‘legitimate’ kids are actually his and he has bastards all over town, thus providing the perfect storm for a succession crisis. Most of them are all dead and so is he. If he had taken like a week off from drinking, hunting, and whoring during his reign to hang out with his kids, he would have died an old man. He’s only not higher on the list because he has some plausible deniability from being a full time lush like only a literal king could.

Randyll Tarly

This is probably an aggressive ranking, but also: how can you hate Samwell Tarley? Sam, the best best friend in all of the Seven Kingdoms, was forced to give up his life family by his father Randyll under pain of death. How is Randyll otherwise? Well, he betrayed the Martells for the Lannisters and named the son he actually likes Dickon.

Jamie Lannister

Jamie should probably be higher up on this list, but George R.R. Martin really did us dirty by making him sympathetic well after we had grown to hate him. I for one laughed out loud when Locke cut his sword hand off (it probably helped that they immediately cut to the credits over The Hold Steady playing “The Bear and The Maiden Fair”). What’s worse: that all of his children are products of inscest that he was never really a father to or that they’re all dead and he couldn’t stop their deaths? Trick question: it’s that one of them was King Joffrey.

Balon Greyjoy

GOT is a show that prides itself on its nuanced characters, but when it comes to the Greyjoys they don’t GAF. The Iron Born are like vikings if vikings were basically good at nothing. Their leader, Balon Greyjoy, is impotent toxic masculinity personified. He sucks so much that it’s a definite upgrade for the Iron Islands when he is murdered and replaced by his brother Euron, who is literally an insane pirate. As bad a ruler as Balon is, he’s probably a worse dad. Every bad thing that befalls his son Theon can be traced back to Balon rebelling against King Robert and losing hard, surrendering Theon as a ward to the Starks, and then rejecting Theon when he returns home like it was the boy’s fault his dad waged an unwise war. If he had abdicated the Iron Throne to his daughter Yara, he could have avoided a lot of pain and misery for his people and his family.

Roose Bolton

You might think betraying House Stark at The Red Wedding is a thing that gets Roose so high up this list, but he makes it here on his work as a dad alone. In a show full of people who do terrible things, Roose’s son Ramsay might be the worst. To actually write out everything Ramsay did to other people (and in turn, how Roose conceived and raised Ramsay) is such a bummer I’m actually not going to say what happens beyond Ramsay’s height of depravity is the universally accepted low point of the show. Roose is completely responsible for the man he is.

Walder Frey

The North Remembers…that this guy is a jerk!


Walder Frey is basically a baby boomer republican: he equates his inherited wealth to personal greatness, turns any slight into a crusade, holds others to a higher standard than himself, and has no plan for how his children will live in the world he left them. It’s bad enough he did The Red Wedding, but doing it ensured that his house was almost completely wiped out when Arya claimed revenge. Not only did he seem to not really like his kids, he got them all killed.

Tywin Lannister

The throne he deserves.

I think the most galling thing about Tywin Lannister is that he’s an utter failure at his largest goal: preserving his family’s legacy. Why does every so-called great man who wants he name to ring throughout time never take the simple step of making sure his heirs are well-adjusted poeple. He’s basically the dad from Succession if he could legally murder his family. It is so utterly predictable that he dies at the hands of one of his children. The only one that seemed to really internalize his lessons was Cersei and she’s obviously the worst.


To be this high up on the list takes some doing, but Craster’s case is the most open and shut: he has children with all of his daughters and sacrifices his sons to the Night King. The less said the better.

Stannis Baratheon

This is where the true subjectivity of this list is exposed. It runs the gamut of dads from well meaning but unwise to idiotic and useless to truly evil. Everyone’s favorite grammar pedant isn’t really any of those things, but he takes the cake because he should have known better! There are a lot of dads on this list whose actions led to their kids getting killed, but supringing few that ordered their kid murdered and went through with it. Not only did Stannis do that, but he actually loved Shireen! If you consider the weird blood magic thing that killed Renly one of his kids too that makes it even worse.

Ugh, what a bummer to end it on. Sorry!