Game of Thrones’ best supporting characters, from Bronn to Tormund

(Note: This article is packed with Game of Thrones spoilers covering every episode so far, so read at your own risk!)

When we think of Game of Thrones, it’s usually all about Arya, Tyrion, Cersei, Jaime, Daenerys, Jon Snow, The Night King, etc. — there are a lot of characters! We also reminisce about past characters that made their mark, but sadly met their demise too early (or in the case of some, after far too long), from Ned Stark to Ramsay Bolton.

But behind those main characters is a long list of supporting players, some of whom haven’t gotten the recognition they deserve. A few have lurked in the shadows through every season, others we only knew for a short period of time. But they all left their mark and served a key purpose. As we inch closer to the end of the series, here are some of the best bit characters from the show’s long run.

Bronn

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Macall B. Polay/HBO

He’s more than just a sidekick. This sellsword has serious skills and has saved a Lannister’s life more than once, often with nary a hair out of place. He gained attention after agreeing to champion for Tyrion during his trial by combat at the Eyrie and smoked the competition. Bronn is laid-back and often hilarious, yet has been integral to major plotlines. He’s the guy you run to when someone needs help, although he’s often annoyed that he’s being taken out of the bar or from the company of a beautiful woman. Sure, his loyalty can be bought, and once the money or incentive runs out, he’s gone. But he’s the type of warrior you want (and need) on your side.

The Waif

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Anyone who tries to chop Arya’s head off is bad in our books. But The Waif, an acolyte of the Faceless Men serving in the House of Black and White in Braavos, was an important character nonetheless. Seemingly annoyed by Arya’s presence, she fights aggressively every time they “train” for Arya to become “no one,” pushing Arya to her limits. Like it or not, the fear she instilled in Arya played a crucial role in grooming the young girl to become the warrior she is now.

Podrick Payne

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Helen Sloan/HBO

A quiet yet fiercely loyal squire to Tyrion, Podrick has proven himself to be someone you can always count on. Desperate to please both Tyrion and, later, Brienne of Tarth, he initially seems like the annoying little brother that’s always just hanging around. But after Brienne takes him under his wing and teaches him how to wield a sword, he shows another side of himself that deserves more of what little screen time is left.

Tormund Giantsbane

Game of Thrones Season 5
Game of Thrones Season 5

Fan favorite, joke teller, epic fighter, and … milk drinker? Tormund is one of the absolute best Game of Thrones characters not to have top billing. He’s been a valiant fighter, helping Jon make it through some of his toughest moments, and when all is lost, this jolly red beard is the one you want by your side — for better or for worse.

Beric Dondarrion

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Courtesy of HBO

Swift like a cat, he was brought back to life numerous times thanks to the Red Priest, Thoros of Myr, including after Sandor Clegane struck a sword deep into his shoulder. After Thoros was killed, he made it count before it was game over, using his last life to save Arya, which left her free to take out the Night King.

Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun

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Courtesy HBO

Who the heck is that? It’s the free folk giant that once roamed beyond the Wall with the Wildlings, then became a key force in the Battle of the Bastards. But “Wun Wun,” as he’s more commonly known among friends, played a huge role in every battle he was a part of, taking out hundreds of men by swatting them away like flies. He was every bit as useful as a hundred swords, or a few breaths of fire.

Lady Lyanna Mormont

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Helen Sloan/HBO

A fan favorite, the young Lady Mormont only appeared in a few scenes during the series, but she made them count. With the entire House Mormont of Bear Island under the command of this preteen girl, she did not blink at making tough decisions. She showed immense bravery by sending her men to fight with House Stark, and great insight, strength, and loyalty by standing up to others and placing her support behind Jon Snow as King in the North. Her final moment demonstrated her tremendous heroism, as she killed an undead giant with a dragonglass dagger to the eye as he crushed her body in his massive hand.

Missandei

Game of Thrones Season 5
Game of Thrones Season 5

Standing in the shadow of Dany, advising her every move, and providing advice and assistance when needed, Missandei is an incredibly valuable asset. A former slave, not only can she speak 19 languages, making her a critical translator, but she also has the good sense to politically massage her translations when needed in order to keep the peace. And let’s face it, anyone who can capture the heart of Grey Worm, commander of the Unsullied, can accomplish just about anything.

Yara Greyjoy

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Yara is a badass, forced into command after her brother Theon was taken hostage by Ned Stark and her brothers died. She had her own longship and kicked serious butt to try and save her brother from captivity. She deserves to rule the Iron Islands, yet keeps encountering roadblock after roadblock in her quest. Intensely focused on what she wants, she isn’t distracted by glamorous visions of an Iron Throne and just wants to rule her own people.

Mance Rayder

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One of the most memorable characters to enter Jon’s circle en route to becoming a true man of the people — all the people — Mance Rayder was once a man of the Night’s Watch before becoming the leader of the “free folk,” aka Wildlings. After sparing Jon Snow’s life on the other side of the Wall, it was a bitter fate that Jon would be forced to be his executioner, but such is life on the Wall. A wise and just captain, Rayder left his mark on the series with very little screen time thanks to excellent performances from Irish-born actor Ciarán Hinds.

Maester Aemon Targaryen

game of thrones best bit characters maester aemon

If it weren’t for the blind Maester at Castle Black, who was Lord Commander Jeor Mormont’s close adviser, Jon Snow would never have been named Lord Commander after Mormont’s death. The wise man presided over the vote, and slowly dropped his chip onto Jon’s side to break the tie. It was his final act of bravery before dying of old age, and even though things didn’t exactly work out in Jon’s favor, it was a pivotal moment of the series and Jon’s journey.

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