A quick guide to every 'Game of Thrones' character you should know

Helen Sloan/HBOCan you name all these ‘Game of Thrones’ characters and the actors who play them?
  • HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” has literally hundreds of named characters that can be tough to keep up with over the course of seven seasons.
  • INSIDER is here to help with a quick guide to all the people you need to know.
  • Warning: Spoilers ahead for the first couple seasons of “Game of Thrones.”
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

With hundreds of characters, both dead and alive, “Game of Thrones” can be overwhelming when it comes to keeping everyone straight. Whether you’ve watched the show over and over, or are just now catching up with the show ahead of the final season, INSIDER is here to remind you of all the major people on “Game of Thrones” you should know by name.

We’re going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible for later seasons, but proceed with caution if you’re not caught up with at least the first two seasons of “Game of Thrones.”

Let’s start with some major folks. Daenerys Targaryen is believed by all to be the last living member of House Targaryen.

HBOEmilia Clarke plays Daenerys Targaryen.

The youngest child of King Aerys II – also known as the Mad King – Daenerys is known by many titles, including the Mother of Dragons, or Khaleesi (which simply means “queen” in Dothraki).

On the first season of the show, Daenerys is sold into a marriage with Khal Drogo.

HBOJason Momoa plays Khal Drogo.

Khal Drogo is the leader of a Dothraki “khalasar” (tribe). He and Daenerys eventually come to care for one another, but the marriage begins under traumatic circumstances.

Viserys is Daenerys’ older brother.

HBOHarry Lloyd plays Viserys Targaryen.

The second-born son of the Mad King, Viserys is cruel and petty in all the ways Daenerys is compassionate and just.

Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was the eldest of the Mad King’s children, and heir to the Iron Throne.

HBOWilf Scolding plays Rhaegar Targaryen.

Rhaegar was killed during Robert’s Rebellion, which took place around 19 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.”

Read more:
Everything we know about Rhaegar Targaryen

King Robert Baratheon led the rebellion which overthrew the Mad King.

HBOMark Addy plays Robert Baratheon.

King Robert ruled the Seven Kingdoms after the Mad King was killed and his children exiled.

Stannis is the younger brother of Robert Baratheon.

HBOStephen Dillane plays Stannis Baratheon.

Stannis, the middle child, was made Lord of Dragonstone after the rebellion.

Renly is the youngest of the three Baratheons.

HBOGethin Anthony plays Renly Baratheon.

Renly was made Lord of Storm’s End, and served on King Robert’s Small Council as an advisor.

To seal the alliance with House Lannister, King Robert married Cersei.

HBOLena Headey plays Cersei Lannister.

Cersei is the only daughter of Tywin and Joanna Lannister, known throughout Westeros for her beauty.

Cersei’s twin, Jaime Lannister, was the one who killed the Mad King and was given the nickname Kingslayer.

HBONikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Jaime Lannister.

The heir to House Lannister, Jaime turned away from that fate when he was a teenager and instead joined the Kingsguard. He and Cersei have been in an incestuous sexual relationship since they were very young.

The youngest Lannister child is Tyrion.

HBOPeter Dinklage plays Tyrion Lannister.

Joanna Lannister died in childbirth when Tyrion when born. He’s known for his cleverness and sharp tongue, though many derisively call him the Imp or Halfman.

Tywin is the ruthless leader of House Lannister.

HBOCharles Dance plays Tywin Lannister.

Tywin wants to get House Lannister back to the top of the pecking order in Westeros.

Cersei and Jaime had three children together. Their firstborn is Joffrey.

HBOJack Gleeson plays King Joffrey.

Though the realm believes him to be King Robert’s son and heir, Joffrey is a bastard born of incest.

Tommen is their youngest son.

Helen Sloan/HBODean-Charles Chapman plays Tommen.

Tommen is known for being more kindhearted than his brother.

Read more:
These 8 ‘Game of Thrones’ characters were recast – and you probably didn’t even notice

Myrcella is the only daughter of Jaime and Cersei.

HBONell Tiger Free as Myrcella Baratheon.

Princess Myrcella, like her brother Tommen, is a gentler spirit.

Onto another major family: House Stark. Lord Rickard Stark was the ruler of Winterfell before Robert’s Rebellion.

HBOWayne Foskett plays Rickard Stark.

Rickard and his eldest son Brandon Stark were killed by the Mad King, which contributed to the start of Robert’s Rebellion.

This left Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark as Lord of Winterfell.

HBOSean Bean plays Ned Stark.

When “Game of Thrones” begins, Ned Stark is named Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon.

Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, died in childbirth.

HBOAisling Franciosi plays Lyanna Stark.

Lyanna had been betrothed to Robert Baratheon, but vanished shortly before Robert’s Rebellion started and was later found by Ned just before she died.

Ned married Catelyn Tully.

HBOMichelle Fairley plays Catelyn Stark.

She then became Catelyn Stark, and had five children with Ned.

The eldest of their children is Robb Stark.

HBORichard Madden plays Robb Stark.

Robb was groomed from a young age to one day be the next Lord of Winterfell.

Robb Stark falls in love with a woman named Talisa Maegyr.

HBOOona Chaplin plays Talisa Stark.

Talisa is a woman from Volantis who starts following the Stark camp on the second season.

Sansa is the next-oldest of the trueborn Stark kids.

Helen Sloan/HBOSophie Turner plays Sansa Stark.

Sansa Stark was raised as a highborn lady who would one marry into another great house.

Then comes Bran Stark.

Helen Sloan/HBOIsaac Hempstead Wright plays Bran Stark.

The series pilot ends with the shocking scene of young Bran being pushed from a window by Jaime Lannister.

Then there’s Arya Stark.

Helen Sloan/HBOMaisie Williams plays Arya Stark.

Arya has no desire to grow up in the confines of ladyship – she prefers swords to sewing.

Rickon is the youngest Stark child.

Helen Sloan/HBOArt Parkinson plays Rickon Stark.

Rickon is very young when both of his parents leave home, which makes him more wild and willful.

Jon Snow was raised as the bastard of Winterfell.

Helen Sloan/HBOKit Harington plays Jon Snow.

Said to be the bastard son of Ned Stark and a mystery woman, Jon is slightly ostracized from the rest of the Stark kids.

Read more:
‘Game of Thrones’ has been hinting at Jon Snow’s true parentage since season one – here’s every clue we spotted

Another important family you should know is House Tyrell. Lady Olenna is the Tyrell matriarch.

HBODiana Rigg plays Olenna Tyrell.

Lady Olenna is also known as the Queen of Thorns.

Margaery Tyrell is an ambitious highborn lady.

HBONatalie Dormer plays Margaery Tyrell.

Margaery is politically savvy and well-placed to rise among the ranks of royalty in Westeros.

Margaery’s brother, Loras Tyrell, is a renowned knight.

HBOFinn Jones plays Loras Tyrell.

As seen on the first season, Loras and Renly Baratheon are in a covert sexual relationship and work together to promote their goals.

Mace Tyrell is the rather useless Lord of Highgarden.

HBORoger Ashton-Griffiths plays Mace Tyrell.

Lady Olenna is the one truly running things in the House Tyrell family.

Next in great families is House Greyjoy. Balon Greyjoy is Lord of the Iron Islands.

HBOPatrick Malahide plays Balon Greyjoy.

Balon tried to crown himself as King of the Iron Islands after Robert’s Rebellion, but failed.

Theon was held as a ward at Winterfell as a result of his father’s uprising.

HBOAlfie Allen plays Theon Greyjoy.

Following Robert’s Rebellion, Theon was sent to live with Ned Stark as a pseudo-hostage.

Theon’s older sister Yara is an experience captain and leader.

HBOGemma Whelan plays Yara Greyjoy.

Balon raised Yara to be his successor as ruler of the Iron Islands.

Euron Greyjoy is Balon’s younger brother.

Helen Sloan/HBOPilou Asbæk plays Euron Greyjoy.

Euron is an erratic and violent agent of chaos in Westeros.

Then there’s House Martell, led by Prince Doran and his brother Oberyn.

HBOAlexander Siddig as Doran Martell.

Doran Martell is the leader of Dorne and House Martell, but his younger brother is more famous.

Oberyn, known as the Red Viper, is introduced on the show along with his consort Ellaria Sand.

HBOPedro Pascal and Indira Varma play Oberyn and Ellaria.

Ellaria is a bastard, hence her last name of Sand.

Oberyn and Doran were the brothers of Elia Martell, who was once married to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.

Three of Oberyn’s bastard daughters are featured on the show: Tyene, Obara, and Nymeria Sand.

HBORosabell Laurenti Sellers, Keish Castle-Hughes, and Jessica Henwick play the Sand Snakes.

They are often referred to simply as “The Sand Snakes.” Tyene is Ellaria’s daughter, but we never meet Obara and Nymerian’s mothers on the show.

Now for the characters from lesser houses and backgrounds, starting with Bronn.

Helen Sloan/HBOJerome Flynn plays Bronn.

Bronn is a sellsword who comes into the Lannister’s service on the first season of “Game of Thrones.”

Lord Varys, also called The Spider, is a master spy.

Helen Sloan/HBOConleth Hill plays Lord Varys.

Varys uses a network of spies to keep him in the know and help mask his true loyalties.

Jorah Mormont is an exiled knight.

Helen Sloan/HBOIain Glen plays Jorah Mormont.

Jorah was exiled by Ned Stark for engaging in slave trade. He enters Daenerys Targaryen’s service after meeting her on the pilot episode.

Missandei befriends Daenerys and serves as her close confidant.

HBONathalie Emmanuel plays Missandei.

A former slave, Missandei speaks dozens of languages and helps translate for Daenerys.

Grey Worm is the commander of the Unsullied Army.

HBOJacob Anderson plays Grey Worm.

He also comes to serve Daenerys Targaryen, choosing to keep the slave name given to him at birth.

Podrick Payne starts his journey on the show as Tyrion Lannister’s squire.

Helen Sloan/HBODaniel Portman plays Podrick Payne.

Podrick comes off as a bit bumbly, but has a fighting spirit.

Brienne of Tarth is the truest knight of Westeros, even if the title is denied to her.

Helen Sloan/HBOGwendoline Christie plays Brienne of Tarth.

First seen when she joins Renly’s kingsguard, Brienne is a fierce fighter who wishes to serve loyally and honorably.

Ser Davos Seaworth was raised up in ranks by Stannis.

Helen Sloan/HBOLiam Cunningham plays Davos Seaworth.

Ser Davos is also known as the Onion Knight, because he smuggled onions into Dragonstone and won Stannis’ favour.

Beric Dondarrion is a former lord, now a noble brigand.

HBORichard Dormer plays Beric Dondarrion.

Beric, also known as the Lightning Lord, wields a flaming sword on the later seasons of “Game of Thrones.”

Tormund Giantsbane is a wildling.

Helen Sloan/HBOKristofer Hivju plays Tormund.

One of the “free folk” from beyond the Wall, Tormund is a leader and ferocious fighter.

Ygritte is another important wildling.

HBORose Leslie plays Ygritte.

Ygritte is instrumental in changing Jon Snow’s perspective on the free folk.

Gilly is also a wildling, rescued from beyond the Wall.

HBOHannah Murray plays Gilly.

Gilly is born into an abusive household, but escapes with her baby when the Night’s Watch comes to her father’s keep.

Samwell Tarly, known simply as Sam, is the one who helps Gilly.

HBOJohn Bradley West plays Sam Tarly.

Sam Tarly is a man of the Night’s Watch, and best friend to Jon Snow.

Eddison “Edd” Tollett is another man of the Night’s Watch.

HBOBen Crompton plays Edd Tollett.

Known for his dour sense of humour, Edd is one of Jon’s closest friends.

Gendry is one of King Robert’s many bastards.

HBOJoe Dempsie plays Gendry.

Gendry is a trained blacksmith’s apprentice. Technically his bastard last name is Waters, but everyone just calls him Gendry.

Tycho Nestoris is an officer of the Iron Bank.

HBOMark Gatiss plays Tycho Nestoris.

The Iron Bank is a formidable institution in Braavos. They lend out funds to various rulers of Westeros who are fighting for control of the Iron Throne.

Melisandre, also called the Red Woman, is a priestess of R’hllor.

Helen Sloan/HBOCarice Van Houten plays Melisandre.

Melisandre is from Essos and serves the Lord of Light. She believes she was sent to Westeros to help guide a prophesied hero in the fight against a coming darkness.

Qyburn is a disgraced maester who loves experimenting.

HBOAnton Lesser plays Qyburn.

Qyburn has pushed the usual limits of Westerosi medicine by testing gory methods of healing on living people.

Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane is the largest known man in Westeros.

HBOHafþór Júlíus ‘Thor’ Björnsson plays Gregor Clegane.

Ser Gregor is a knight, but is among the most brutal and violent of all people in Westeros.

Sandor “The Hound” Clegane was mutilated by his brother as young boy.

Helen Sloan / HBORory McCann plays Sandor Clegane.

Sandor Clegane has horrific burn scars covering much of his face, the result of his older brother (Gregor) pressing his face into a fire when he was a kid.

Last but not least, you know the names a few key creatures. Daenerys’ dragons are named Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion.

HBODaenerys Targaryen’s three dragon children.

Daenerys named each dragon after an important man in her life.

Drogon (for Khal Drogo) is red and black. Rhaegal (for her brother Rhaegar) is more green. Viserion (for her brother Viserys) is more gold.

Ghost is Jon Snow’s direwolf.

HBOGhost is one of the most important of the direwolves.

Each of the Stark children, even Jon, get a direwolf at the start of the series.

And Arya Stark’s direwolf is named Nymeria.

HBONymeria is wild, just like Arya.

The other direwolves are Summer (Bran’s) Grey Wind (Robb’s), Lady (Sansa’s), and Shaggy Dog (Rickon’s).

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