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All The Main GoT Character Arcs, Ranked 

Stephan Roget
Updated June 14, 2019 23.9k votes 3.1k voters 28.6k views 21 items

List Rules Vote up the Game of Thrones character arcs you enjoyed the most over the eight seasons.


It’s always wise to remember that the journey is just as important as the destination—a lesson especially pertinent to fans during the final season of Game of Thrones. Whether or not the series did a competent job of concluding its various storylines is a controversial topic, but few would argue that the character arcs of Game of Thrones themselves stand as some of the most compelling in recent television history.

Every character on Game of Thrones—and A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series from which it was adapted—experiences some sort of personal journey throughout the course of the story. Whether they be a major protagonist like Tyrion Lannister or a supporting figure like Hot Pie, everybody in Westeros gets an arc, and no one is left unscathed by the wars of the Seven Kingdoms.

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Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list All The Main GoT Character Arcs, Ranked
Photo: HBO

"Stick 'Em With The Pointy End"    

  • Young Arya rejects the traditional feminine trappings of sewing and courtesy by engaging in swordplay and archery. She adopts a direwolf pup and names her Nymeria.
  • She accompanies her father to King’s Landing. Along the way, Sandor Clegane murders her friend Mycah.
  • Syrio Forel teachers her to fight and saves her life when the Kingsguard come to take her captive. She witnesses her father’s public execution.
  • Yoren, a recruiter for the Night’s Watch, sneaks her out of King's Landing and spirits her back to the North. Along the way, she befriends Gendry, Hot Pie, and Jaqen H’Ghar.
  • Yoren is killed, and the remaining recruits find themselves held captive by Tywin Lannister and Gregor Clegane at Harrenhal. The Lannister men remain ignorant of her identity.
  • Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape Harrenhal thanks to Jaqen, who leaves Arya with a mysterious Braavosi coin and the words “Valar Morghulis.”
  • The gang are taken in by the Brotherhood Without Banners. The Hound kidnaps her.
  • Arya and the Hound arrive too late at the Red Wedding to save her mother and brother from being slaughtered, but manage to escape the chaos.

"Valar Morghulis"

  • Clegane’s continued attempts to ransom Arya fail, but as they travel together, he teaches her how to kill.
  • Brienne of Tarth finds them and beats the Hound in a viscous duel. Arya leaves Clegane for dead and departs for Braavos.
  • Arya gets to the House of Black and White in Braavos. She reunites with Jaqen H’Ghar. He begins to tutor her in the face-swapping ways of the Faceless Men.
  • Following some sanctioned assassination missions, and an instance of outright vengeance against the man who killed Syrio Forel, Arya runs afoul of the Faceless Men and must kill her rival before returning to Westeros.

"Valar Dohaeris"

  • In Westeros, Arya murders Walder Frey—the perpetrator of the Red Wedding—and all of his male heirs.
  • Arya reunites with her sister Sansa and brother Bran in Winterfell. She executes Petyr Baelish.
  • She reunites with Jon Snow and kills the Night King in the Battle of Winterfell.
  • She accompanies the Hound to King’s Landing where she plans to assassinate Cersei Lannister, only to be talked out of it at the last minute by Sandor. She flees Daenerys' destruction of the city with a new lease on life. 
  • After the destruction is over, Arya is skeptical of Dany, and tells Jon as much. After Jon kills Dany and is imprisoned, Arya attends the parley with Grey Worm. She helps the Starks negotiate Jon's release, then tells the family that she's going "west of Westeros." She sails away from King's Landing on a Stark-branded shift, seemingly destined for a life of exploration.
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Tyrion Lannister is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list All The Main GoT Character Arcs, Ranked
Photo: HBO

"All Dwarfs Are Bastards In Their Fathers' Eyes"

  • Tyrion travels with the royal party to Winterfell, but splits from them to visit The Wall and the Night’s Watch. Here he forms a friendship with Jon Snow.
  • On his way back to King’s Landing, Tyrion is wrongly arrested for Bran Stark's attempted assassination.
  • Taken to the Eyrie, Tyrion demands a trial-by-combat and is championed by Bronn, who wins his freedom and accompanies Tyrion back to King’s Landing. 

The Hand Of The King

  • Tyrion fights in the war against the Starks alongside Bronn under the command of his father Tywin. He meets and falls in love with the sex worker Shae.
  • He becomes the Hand of the King to his nephew Joffrey Baratheon. He does his best to bring the young monarch into line.
  • Tyrion leads the defense of King’s Landing in the Battle of the Blackwater with a clever wildfire scheme, but is wounded in an attempted assassination during the fighting.
  • After clashing with his father over Shae, Tyrion is forcibly married to Sansa, though he refuses to consummate the marriage.
  • Tyrion is falsely accused of murdering Joffrey by his sister Cersei. After an explosive trial he demands a trial-by-combat.
  • Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne offers to be Tyrion’s champion, but Oberyn dies and Tyrion is sentenced to death.
  • His brother Jaime frees him from death row, and Varys spirits Tyrion out of the city, but not before a pit stop to murder the duplicitous Shae and his cruel father.
  • Varys sends Tyrion to Essos to join Daenerys Targaryen’s cause. Along the way, Jorah Mormont kidnaps him, and the two of them are in turn captured by slavers.

The Hand Of The Queen

  • Tyrion and Jorah show up in Daenerys’ conquered city of Meereen. Tyrion is able to appeal to Dany enough to join her service.
  • Following a brief stint of ruling the city during her exodus, Tyrion helps Daenerys regain control of Meereen. He is named Hand of the Queen.
  • He accompanies Daenerys and her forces back to Westeros, drawing him into direct conflict with siblings Jaime and Cersei Lannister.
  • Tyrion brings Daenerys together with Jon Snow, which allows them to fall in love and form an alliance against the White Walkers.
  • He seemingly manages to forge a truce with Cersei after discovering her pregnancy, only to have her go back on her word immediately.
  • He survives the Battle of Winterfell alongside Sansa in the crypt, after which he accompanies Daenerys back to King’s Landing. 
  • He fails to negotiate peace between his sister and his queen and—following one last attempt to aid Jaime in finding a peaceful solution—Tyrion is forced to watch as Daenerys burns King’s Landing to the ground. 

Epilogue: The Hand of the King, Part II

  • After the destruction of King's Landing, Tyrion discovers Jaime and Cersei's bodies. 
  • After Dany's victory speech, he disavows his title as Hand of the Queen, and is jailed for it.
  • In captivity, Tyrion convinces Jon to kill Dany.
  • After Jon kills Dany, Tyrion convinces the lords and ladies of the Six Kingdoms and the North to elect Bran the Broken as king.
  • Bran names Tyrion Hand.
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Sandor Clegane is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list All The Main GoT Character Arcs, Ranked
Photo: HBO

The Hound

  • Sandor accompanies the royal party to Winterfell, and on his way back to King’s Landing he kills Arya Stark’s friend under the orders of Cersei Lannister.
  • He battles his brother Gregor at a tourney and refuses subsequent offers of knighthood. He joins the Kingsguard when Joffrey Baratheon becomes King.
  • Sandor steps in several times to protect Sansa Stark from violence and cruelty. 

"F**k The King"

  • He defects from the Lannisters during the Battle of the Blackwater. He tries to free Sansa from the Lannisters' cruelty.
  • He kidnaps Arya from the Brotherhood Without Borders and attempts to ransom her back to her family. In the process, he becomes a mentor of sorts for the young killer.
  • Sandor battles to the near-death with Brienne of Tarth for possession of Arya, only to have Arya leave him for dead.


  • He is found by a traveling septon and nursed back to health. He is quickly brought back to a life of violence when he newfound community is slaughtered.
  • Sandor joins the Brotherhood Without Banners and heads north to confront the coming threat of the White Walkers—a mission that leads him beyond The Wall to kidnap a wight.
  • He saves Arya’s life in the Battle of Winterfell, allowing her to kill the Night King and end the conflict.
  • He accompanies Arya to King’s Landing where he convinces her to abandon her mission of vengeance—before completing his own by killing his undead brother, dying in the process
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Sansa Stark is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list All The Main GoT Character Arcs, Ranked
Photo: HBO

Little Bird

  • Sansa is offered in marriage to Joffery Baratheon, the heir to the Iron Throne, and accompanies her betrothed and her father to King’s Landing.
  • Life in the capital is not quite what Sansa expected. Her father is executed.
  • Remaining Joffrey's bride, Sansa becomes subject to his cruelty. The Hound occasionally protects her from harm.
  • Her engagement to Joffrey is put aside in lieu of Margaery Tyrell. Sansa becomes the subject of more cruelty. Petyr Baelish plots to free her from King’s Landing.
  • Sansa is wed to Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion opposes the cruel pairing and refuses to bed her, especially after her mother and brother are slaughtered at the Red Wedding.
  • Littlefinger frees her from King's Landing following Joffrey's assassination—a crime she is assumed to have played some role in.

"Chaos Is A Ladder"

  • Littlefinger brings Sansa to the Eyrie, home of her aunt Lysa. Littlefinger murders her when she threatens Sansa.
  • Baelish begins to tutor Sansa in the game of thrones, but then decides to wed her to Ramsay Bolton, who is in control of Winterfell.
  • Ramsay is even crueler than Joffrey, raping Sansa on their wedding night and forcing Theon Greyjoy to watch.
  • Theon helps Sansa escape from Winterfell. They are rescued by Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne, who escort Sansa to Castle Black, where they meet Jon Snow.

The Queen In The North

  • Sansa helps Jon unite the North against the Boltons, and ensures victory in the Battle of the Bastards by summoning Littlefinger and the army of the Vale.
  • Upon Jon’s declaration as King in the North and departure to woo Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa becomes the Lady of Winterfell. She reunites with siblings Arya and Bran and conspires with them to execute Littlefinger.
  • Sansa remains skeptical of Daenerys, but accepts her help in the Battle of Winterfell. Sansa spends the duration of the battle alongside Tyrion in the crypt.
  • After learning about Jon Snow’s true parentage, Sansa shares the secret with Tyrion.
  • At the summit of King's Landing, Sansa declares the North independent of the Seven Kingdoms, and is coronated the Queen in the North by the northmen.
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