When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There were quite a few rulers throughout the entirety of Game of Thrones and not all of them were great at playing the game. In fact, there’s only one person on this whole list that makes it out alive by the end of the series.
Although most of these fictitious Kings and Queens were never destined to make it out alive in the first place, it’s quite obvious that they all had strengths and weaknesses when it came to ruling their people – some much more so than others. Take a look at our list of 10 rulers of Westeros, ranked by intelligence.
10 Joffrey Baratheon
Just the worst. Up until Ramsay Bolton started torturing Theon and had turned him into Reek, Joffrey was the undisputed most hated character in all of Game of Thrones. Honestly, the kindest words we could use to describe him are still too inappropriate to use on this website.
The vicious little gremlin was despised from the minute he stepped on screen and fans hatred for the rotten scoundrel grew with each passing episode. From the second he chopped off Ned Stark’s head, two things became evident – Game of Thrones was going to be a show like no other, and everyone was going to hate Joffrey. Nothing but respect for Olenna Tyrell.
9 Euron Greyjoy
We’re just going to say it – this man was not worthy of killing a dragon. With the many hiccups and mistakes of season 8, one of the least satisfying was the conclusion of Euron Greyjoy’s story arc. He was meant to be a fearsome warrior and leader, not to mention the reinforcements and the army behind Cersei that would be able to hold off three Targaryen dragons and an army of Unsullied, Dothraki, and Northmen.
Instead, he was a creepy uncle figure who everybody knew would never take the place of Jamie at Cersei’s side. Honestly, what was the point to any of the Greyjoys?
8 Ned Stark
One of the only member of this list who was never formally declared a ‘King’ or ‘Queen’, Ned Stark could be described as nothing else but a ruler. In terms of his intelligence, he was certainly smarter in his younger years as he was able to help Robert Baratheon take down the Targaryen empire.
Unfortunately, he made two critical mistakes during the first season of Game of Thrones that led to one of the most shocking deaths in television history – he traveled down to King’s Landing (which everyone knows is fatal for Stark men) and he trusted Littlefinger. We have to repeat that; he trusted Littlefinger. That speaks for itself.
7 Cersei Lannister
Cersei was more cunning and manipulative than virtually everybody on Game of Thrones besides Tyrion, but her intelligence often fell before her pride. Tragically, her downfall was that she couldn’t accept her place.
She always wanted to be queen and she did absolutely everything possible in order to make that happen, including having an incestuous relationship with her brother and a creepy Oedipus-complex relationship with all of her children. Even when she did finally become the actual queen, every choice she made was shrouded by her blind ambition to retain the throne at all costs. Settle down a bit, Cersei, you’ll end up getting yourself killed.
6 Robb Stark
The Young Wolf was so close to getting it all, and then he met an even more shocking end than his father did. Unless you were one of the viewers who had also read the books, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that you saw Robb Stark’s death coming and it was all the more shocking because it seemed like up until halfway through Season 3 he could do no wrong.
He was winning a war with virtually no experience and had the support of the entire North behind him – but then he slipped and faltered because of a girl, breaking several oaths and sealing his own fate in the process. The Red Wedding was brutal, but come on, Robb, you know you messed up.
5 Jon Snow
You know nothing, Jon Snow. As it turns out, the Knower-of-Nothing actually did end up knowing a few things. How was Jon supposed to know that the creators were going to absolutely butcher Daenarys’ character and make her go bonkers over the span of three episodes?
Other than his bonding with the Mad Queen, whom he ultimately was wise enough to make sure met her warranted end, Jon Snow didn’t make too many wrong choices as King. He also wasn’t king for very long, but as we stated there’s only one ruler on this list who makes it out alive – that’s Jon Snow.
4 Stannis Baratheon
Stannis is ranked high on this list for no other reason than his skill as a tactician because when it came to common sense he had an empty bucket. Stannis was known for being brilliant on the battlefield and he certainly had the unrelenting support of his followers, but unfortunately, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne (believe it or not, that’s true) had the Red Lady whispering in his ear throughout his entire campaign and she ended up leading him straight to his doom.
Honestly, how sad is it that a warrior as skilled as Stannis (who went North to help defeat the White Walkers) was taken down by Ramsay Bolton of all people? We blame the blood magic.
3 Mance Rayder
He might not have referred to himself as a King, but he was certainly an elaborate ruler and earned the title of “King Beyond the Wall” nevertheless. Just like how the snow and the cold were what defeated Stannis, what brought Mance Rayder down was the simple element of soldiers on horseback.
Mance had an army of over 100,000 wildlings and they were cut through easier than, as Tormund put it, “piss through snow.” However, he was the one to round those 100,000 wildings up in the first place and it took him over 20 years to do it, and that makes him pretty darn smart.
2 Daenarys Targaryen
It’s not your fault, Dany, it’s the creators. Everybody’s favorite Queen needs a serious therapy session with Robin Williams because she deserved so much better than the ending that the creators chose to give her. We’re not saying that Dany’s descent into madness wouldn’t have made sense over time, but to make the transition over three episodes and force it down the audience’s throat was unacceptable and brought a wonderful character’s story to a very unsatisfying end.
However, up until her unsatiated demise, Dany was a fan-favorite and rightfully so since she was a hardened and bright leader who managed to attract tens of thousands of followers during her reign.
1 Tywin Lannister
There was nobody in the entire Game of Thrones universe more terrifying than Tywin Lannister, and the most impressive part of that statement is that even with all of the bloodshed and brutality that took place during the show, Tywin was never shown killing a single person.
His menace and ice-cold demeanor could pierce through anybody and he was the one character who seemed to win even when he was losing because he was the type of person to learn from every mistake. He orchestrated the death of Robb Stark, winning the War of the Five Kings, and ultimately made only one crucial mistake in his time as ruler of Casterly Rock – and that was treating Tyrion like a monster.
He was always your son, Tywin, and he shot you on the toilet because you were an ass to him.
NEXT: Game Of Thrones: 10 Things That Might Have Happened If Tywin Lannister Survived