Game of Thrones (2011-) is back, and with it comes millions of people challenged to remember all the faces and names that comprise its massive ensemble cast. With so many locations, houses, groups, armies, allegiances and rivalries flowing through the veins of Westeros and its citizens, it's hard to remember just where everyone fits. Fortunately for you, we've done our best to create a little guide of all the major players, reminding you who they are, where they fit, and why they matter. Since nobody has time to read up on absolutely everyone in the immense Thrones world, we highlighted the characters that are still alive and capable of making an appearance on the series or who were big enough players to still receive mention or have lasting effect on those surviving.
Needless to say, this article contains spoilers about the characters listed. If you aren't caught up on the series, look no further.
"Fire and blood." - Motto of House Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
Daenerys of House Targaryen, Daenerys Stormborn, the First of Her Name, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons, is the youngest daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen (The "Mad" King), who was ousted from the Iron Throne during Robert's Rebellion. She is markedly more intense and powerful than anyone initially expects, giving her character a robustness that instantly solidified her as a fan favorite.
Her family name is almost completely destroyed, as she exists as its last heir. Growing up under the thumb of her older brother Viserys, she lived in constant fear which rendered her meek and timid. Desiring his "rightful" seat on the Iron Throne, he attempts to marry Daenerys to Drogo, a Dothraki Kha, in order to gain an army. The marriage works but the plan fails and Viserys is eventually put to death by Drogo. Daenerys becomes pregnant with Drogo's baby and word reaches Westeros, compelling King Robert to order her execution for fear the Targaryens would attempt to regain power. Ser Jorah stops the attack. When Drogo is wounded in battle, a magic spell makes his condition worse, rendering him vegetative, and takes the life of her baby. Daenerys smothers Drogo and sets him on a pyre, along with herself and three dragon eggs she received as a wedding gift, and lights it on fire. She survives, and three dragons are born. She spends the second season leading her khalasar across the Red Waste and comes to Qarth, received by the dignitary Xaro (Nonso Anozie). The city and Xaro end up sacked and burned following her visit after they attempt to capture Daenerys. She moves on to Astapor, a slave city and home of the Unsullied, warrior eunuchs regarded as the finest soldiers in the world. Here she meets Missandei, a slave she frees. Disgusted by the treatment of people in Astapor and the disrespectful nature of the Unsullied's owner, Kraznys (Dan Hildebrand), she orders Drogon, her largest dragon, to burn him alive as she uses Valyrian to command the Unsullied to kill all of Astapor's slave masters. On to Yunkai, another slave city, she also works to free slaves and runs into The Second Sons, a militant group defending the city. With the help of Barristan Selmy, Grey Worm (an Unsullied leader) and sworn sword Daario, she takes the city. Her next move is on Meereen, where she starts another slave revolt and sits as Queen following the liberation. Her company and companions in tow, she uses Meereen as the foothold to prepare her next motions in taking back the throne. After she reopens the Great Fighting Pit of Daznak, the Sons of the Harpy mount a large assault that appears inescapable until she flies away on the back of Drogon, burning many of the Harpy during the escape. Far away from Meereen, Drogon wounded from the attack, she is surrounded and captured by a khalasar. These dothraki threaten to seclude her in Vaes Dothrak with all the khal widows -- a place she was supposed to go following Drogo's death. Meanwhile, Daario and Jorah come to her rescue. As the Dothraki men objectify and belittle Daenerys in a temple, she sets the building ablaze and kills everyone inside, emerging through the flames unscathed, assuming control of the entire Dothraki army. She returns to Meereen to find the slave masters once again trying to take over, to which she quickly responds with typical Targaryen intensity. She steals the slavers' ships and forms a pact with the Greyjoys to ally with their sailig vessels. At the end of Season Six, she finally starts her journey towards Westeros, complete with a massive army of loyalists.
Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd)
The older brother of Daenerys and second son of The Mad King, Viserys is the guy who thought he would bring the family name back to power. Viserys has arranged to marry Daenerys to Khal Drogo, in exchange for the manpower he needs to reclaim the Iron Throne. Viserys is incestuous and vile towards his sister, offering affection but treating her as an object both for himself and for others. He seems to view her only as a tool for his own benefit, which leads to his destruction. After the marriage is completed, Viserys opts to ride with Drogo's khalasar until the deal is done. En route, he continues to treat his sister in the belittling manner to which he is accustomed, much to the disapproval of her new Dothraki companions. One threatens to kill Viserys, but Daenerys stops him, instead ordering her brother to walk beside the fleet, shaming him. Viserys becomes impatient and childish about his push towards Westeros and, drunk and belligerent, interrupts a Dothraki feast and brandishes a sword in the Dothraki holy city -- a move punishable by death. For his impudence, Drogo presents him with a crown of molten gold poured directly onto his head, killing him in agony.
These characters are not Targaryens by name, but have spent a great deal of their time either in the company of Targaryens, aiding Targaryens, or loyal to the Targaryen efforts.
Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa)
Drogo is a khal, or chieftain, of the Dothraki people. Forced to marry Daenerys Targaryen by arrangement of her brother Viserys, Drogo's brutish nature and animal-like conditioning are controlled and quelled by her. A legendary warrior who has never been defeated in battle, he finds Daenerys a most exotic and beautiful creation who proves capable of taming his wilder instincts. When he impregnates Daenerys, prophecy tells their son will be the 'Stallion Who Mounts the World', a khal of khals who will command the largest khalasar ever. He kills Viserys using molten gold as punishment for impudence, rendering Daenerys the only surviving Targaryen bearing the name. After arriving in the town of Lhazareen, Drogo's men begin raping the village women and Daenerys protests, directing them to stop. A rider named Mago (Ivailo Dimitrov) refuses to take orders from her, and he and Drogo fight. Drogo easily kills him, but receives a wound from Mago which ends up infected and festering. A village woman named Duur (Mia Soteriou) performs a magic ritual she claims will help, but actually renders Drogo a vegetable and sucks the life from their unborn son. Daenerys smothers Drogo and burns his body in a fire.
Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel)
A slave who served as an interpreter to the masters of Astapor, Missandei speaks nineteen languages, including High Valyrian, the Low Valyrian dialect of Slaver's Bay, Dothraki, and the Common Tongue of Westeros. She was freed from servitude when Daenerys took the Unsullied army and used it to overthrow the slavers of Astapor. Missandei now serves Daenerys as her advisor and handmaiden as part of her small council. Currently, she resides on the council with Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Grey Worm while Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis are outside Meereen. She ultimately travels to Westeros with Daenerys.
Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson)
Grey Worm is the chosen commander of the Unsullied, the warrior-eunuchs of Astapor whom Daenerys frees and controls as her own private army. Castrated as a boy, he is smooth-skinned and hairless, his hormonal structure modified by the mutilation. He participates in the sack of Astapor, infiltrated Yunkai and led the liberation of Meereen. He is injured in a resistance movement by the Sons of the Harpy during the liberation, surviving mainly due to Barristan Selmy's sacrifice. Grey Worm now sits on Daenerys' small council as one of her most trusted advisors, and travels with her to Westeros.
Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen)
The son of Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo), Commander of the Night's Watch, Jorah inherited title as the head of House Mormont following his father's joining the Night's Watch. He married Lynesse Hightower but ended up squandering the family reputation by selling poachers into slavery to acquire money for his wife's expensive tastes. He was caught, stripped of his lordship, and fled to the Free Cities to avoid being executed by Eddard Stark, where he worked as a mercenary. He joins the company of Daenerys originally as a spy for Varys (Conleth Hill), King Robert's (Mark Addy) spymaster in King's Landing, sending Varys information about the Targaryens. Eventually, he gives up on that task as he grows deeply fond of her, serving her of his own volition for many years. He saves her from an assassination attempt, stops reporting to Varys ,and ignores an official royal pardon which would allow him to return to Westeros. He is quite obviously in love with Daenerys despite the fact his feelings are not returned. She does come to learn the truth of how he came to her service, and instead of killing him for treason, he is dismissed from her service and ordered to leave her presence. The interim time is spent trying to return to her, which he does by presenting her with Tyrion Lannister and fighting to prove his loyalty. Following the fighting pit attack by the Sons of the Harpy, Jorah leaves the city with Daario in search of Daenerys. He is slowly dying from greyscale, a disease that hardens the flesh and fatally turns a person into a stone man. Daenerys commands him to find a cure after he assists her in taking control of the Dothraki army.
Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney)
Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, he is the only known member of House Selmy. He is a renowned and skilled fighter despite his advanced years, and a strongly chivalrous man. He served in the Kingsguard of Aerys II Targaryen, Daenerys' father, and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau) was his squire as a teen. Despite his allegiance to the Targaryen name, he was tasked with commanding the Kingsguard under King Robert Baratheon following his taking the throne. For the first season he holds this role until King Joffrey takes the throne and dismissed Selmy from his role as a Kingsguard, despite the position being an irrevocable lifetime assignment. He is mocked and threatened in court and replaced by Jaime Lannister. His whereabouts are unknown for the second season, reappearing in Astapor during the third season, having tracked down Daenerys. Eager to once again serve the Targaryen name and restore it to power, he joins her company as a sworn Queensguard and protects her from an assassination attempt by the Warlocks of Qarth. He continues to serve, guide, and protect the Queen until his run-in with the Sons of the Harpy during the liberation of Meereen. There, he is slain in the same fight that critically wounds Grey Worm, in a death that many viewers found unfulfilling for such a renowned and liked character.
Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein / Michiel Huisman)
Originally a lieutenant in the Second Sons, a company of sellswords, he kills his superiors and joins the company of Daenerys as her advisor and enforcer. Further, he becomes her lover, forming a personal connection with her. He spends his time by her side and in her company, offering advice and perspective on her actions. When she goes missing at the end of the fifth season and into the beginning of the sixth, Daario, along with Jorah Mormont, go looking for Daenerys and discover she has been taken by a Dothraki khalasar. When they find her, they assist in her burning its leaders to death so she can assume control. After Daenerys travels to Westeros, she leaves Daario behind in Meereen to keep the peace.
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