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.
"Growing strong." - Motto of House Tyrell
Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer)
Margaery is the only daughter of Mace Tyrell, the granddaughter of Lady Olenna Tyrell and sister of Ser Loras Tyrell. She is compassionate and kind, aware that her wealthy upbringing puts her in a class above others. She is charitable towards the poor and uses her class as a means of assistance. Above all, she is clever and a gifted manipulator, willing to use her sexuality to her advantage. First appearing on the series in the second season, she marries Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), the lover of her brother Loras, despite awareness of their affair. When Renly is mysteriously killed (the work of a shadow demon conjured by Melisandre [Carice Van Houten] on behalf of Stannis Baratheon [Stephen Dillane]), Margaery becomes widowed for the first time. Her desire to become Queen is strong and, during the third season, her family works out an arrangement for her to marry the new King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) as thanks for Tyrell support during the Battle of Blackwater. The two are wed, but only just, when Joffrey is poisoned and dies during the wedding reception. Quickly, under the advisement of her grandmother, she begins to seduce the new king by rights, Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman). A fortnight later, they are married, and Margaery finds her third husband and becomes Queen Consort. Cersei's business with the Faith Consort, a militant religious organization, results in the arrest of Loras Tyrell for homosexuality. When Margaery speaks on defense of her brother, she is arrested for giving false testimony and is placed in a cell beneath the Sept of Baelor. She is ultimately released after faking atonement, only to be killed by a wildfire explosion triggered by Cersei (Lena Headey), in which the whole of the Sept of Baelor is destroyed with everyone inside.
Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg)
The elderly matriarch of House Tyrell, she is widely beloved as the character who facilitated the murder of the series' most hated person, Joffrey. Witty and sarcastic, Olenna is a political master and carries the nickname "The Queen of Thorns," both as a reference to her house sigil and her personality. Joining the series in the third season, she begins planning the extravagant royal wedding for Joffrey and Margaery while actually strengthening the link between the Tyrells and the Lannisters. The Tyrells are an incredibly wealthy family, on par with the Lannisters, and the latter needs the alliance -- a fact which Olenna uses for various gains. She sets up a plan to marry Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) to Loras, giving the Tyrells control of the North, much to Tywin Lannister's (Charles Dance) chagrin, but he stifles the plan by threatening to send Loras to the Kingsguard. In the fourth season, she drops a blunt hint that she orchestrated the murder of Joffrey, and that she would "never allow" Margaery to marry "that beast." She is sent from King's Landing by her granddaughter once the High Sparrow begins investigating their family, only to become the sole living Tyrell after Cersei's wildfire massacre that destroys the Sept, along with Olenna's heirs.
Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones)
The "Knight of Flowers," Loras is a popular tournament knight. He is the son of Mace Tyrell and grandson of Olenna, brother to Margaery. His title, lands, status, fighting skills and good looks make him one of the hottest bachelors in Westeros. The former squire of Renly Baratheon, he is also his lover, even after Renly marries Loras' sister, Margaery. At one point betrothed to Sansa Stark, the marriage never occurs after Tywin threatens to send him to the Kingsguard. During a holy inquest by the Faith Militant, he is accused of buggery and put to a full trial before the gods. He decides to join the Faith Militant in exchange for his life and release from his cell, but is killed in Cersei's wildfire explosion along with his sister and father.
Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths)
Mace is Lord of Highgarden and head of House Tyrell, Lord Paramount of The Reach, Warden of the South, son of Olenna Tyrell, and father to Margaery and Loras. He is not a skilled strategist or fighter, but a strong delegator, effectively choosing allies who preserve the Tyrell legacy. An amiable man, he is a loving father and genuine person, despite his apparent lack of intelligence. His role on the series is more one of appearance than importance, regularly turning up at important events like Tyrion's trial for murder and Tommen's coronation. Just like Loras and Margaery, he dies in the wildfire explosion at the Sept, leaving his mother as the only living Tyrell.
Check out our other Game of Thrones Who's Who entries: