All the ‘Game of Thrones’ Houses, Ranked
HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire saga has spawned a fanbase over a million strong and an equally promising spinoff—House of the Dragon—that just leaves audiences wanting more. From politics and betrayals to alliances and countless deaths, at the heart of Game of Thrones is one thing that kept viewers hooked from its very first episode: family. In fact, the best way to appreciate the show’s dynamics is to understand each family, or House—it provides insight into their motives, what they stand for, and who they’re loyal to. Whether you’re new to the world of Westeros or a longtime fan, you’ll definitely want to check out our ranking of all nine of Game of Thrones’ Great Houses from best to worst.
Brief disclaimer: It’s worth mentioning that we focused on the Great Houses, so that excludes the minor houses mentioned both throughout the books and the show. Before Aegon’s Conquest and the rule of the Targaryens, Westeros was initially divided into Seven Kingdoms ruled by several royal families. After the Conquest, these families were considered Great Houses or liege lords, instead. They were tasked with overseeing territories, vassal houses, collect taxes, and if necessary, call their banners and fight in the name of the ruler sitting on the Iron Throne.
We ranked the nine Great Houses based on their overall arc, power, words (because of course, we love mottos around here), their members, and formidability.
Without further ado, let’s get into it. Here are all Game of Thrones Houses, ranked.
9. House Greyjoy
The Greyjoys rule over the bleak Iron Islands and are often associated with the phrase “What is dead may never die” because of their faith in whom they call the Drowned God. The Lord (or Lady, considering that Yara Greyjoy is the lone survivor of the Greyjoys following the events of Game of Thrones’ finale) of the Iron Islands is typically given the title the Lord Reaper of Pyke. The Greyjoys are perhaps best known for the failed rebellion of their former lord, Balon Greyjoy, who attempted to secede the Iron Islands from Westeros only to be quashed by King Robert Baratheon and his then Warden of the North, Ned Stark. The Greyjoys are a proud and ruthless family who once ruled the seas—unfortunately for them, they did not fare as well as they did on land.
8. House Arryn
One could argue that House Arryn probably deserves a higher spot on this list considering the impressive arsenal it boasts: an impregnable fortress up in the sky, its large host of an army called the Knights of the Vale, and their high regard for honor echoed through its House’s official words—“As High As Honor.” Why the low ranking, then? Well, official leadership of the Vale passed through many hands following the deaths of Jon and Lysa Arryn in light of young (and very sheltered) Robin Arryn’s tender age and poor health. The boy had to rule through representatives like Petyr Baelish (who had married Robin’s mother, only to later throw her literally out a window). By the end of season 8, we finally see the once sickly Robin come into his own as a lord apparently worthy of the name. Aside from that, we do not learn much about him and what the future holds for his House and the Eyrie, other than their return to the Seven Kingdoms and Robin voting for his cousin Bran Stark to sit on the Iron Throne.
7. House Baratheon
The Baratheon words proudly boast “Ours is the Fury,” and rightfully so. Its members are known for their dark hair, strong build, impressive strength, and skill on the battlefield. They hold the ancient castle of Storm’s End, widely considered to be the most formidable keep throughout the Seven Kingdoms and whose very walls are said to be protected by magic. Its most famous member, King Robert I, led the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty on the Trident with his mighty warhammer and the support of his greatest ally, Ned Stark. Following his claiming of the Iron Throne, the House was split into three factions: one in King’s Landing for the then newly-crowned king, another in Dragonstone for his second brother Stannis, and one for his youngest sibling Renly, whom Robert granted Storm’s End. Hypothetically, the three brothers could have had it all if they just teamed up or whatever, but as we all know by now, Bobby B. was a good knight and a bad king who left the realm bankrupt and on the brink of collapse after he died. By the end of Thrones, the Baratheon line was technically extinct until Queen Daenerys declared one of Robert’s bastards, Gendry, legitimate and the new Lord of Storm’s End.
6. House Tully
Symbolized by a leaping trout, House Tully is an underdog and an underrated favorite among the Great Houses. The Tullys are a humble lot who live by simple words: “Family, Duty, Honor.” The head of the family is considered the Paramount of the Trident and oversees the entirety of the Riverlands. Although their army cannot be said to be as impressive or intimidating as the Knights of the Vale, the Tullys have proven to have a strength of their own that shows in their perseverance. They survived sieges and went up against the Freys and after all was lost, somehow, in the end, they still managed to reclaim their seat in Riverrun. Not bad, all things considered.
5. House Tyrell
The Tyrells flew a little too close to the sun and it ended in their demise, but boy, oh boy, did they shine. The family who once held the Reach was considered among the wealthiest houses in all of Westeros and is also, most notably, the only one of the Great Houses that actually felt like a family. Led by cunning matriarch Olenna, the Tyrells are shrewd in their own right, which led to their eventual rise in King’s Landing: Mace Tyrell held several positions in the royal council during the reigns of Joffrey and Tommen, Loras was a sworn brother of the Kingsguard, and of course, Margaery was once queen to two kings (three, if you count Renly’s reign during the War of the Five Kings).
House Tyrell is extinct by the time Thrones ends following Olenna’s demise, but the way she went out seals their spot on this list: After being given the dignity of choosing how to die by Jaime Lannister, Olenna decides to drink poison, but not before finally revealing to the Kingslayer the answer to a mystery no one in Westeros was ever able to truly solve—the identity of his son Joffrey’s killer.
“Tell Cersei I want her to know it was me,” remain Game of Thrones’ most iconic last words, I tell you.
4. House Lannister
House Lannister contains some of the most complex characters on Game of Thrones—from the scheming Cersei and clever Tyrion to their domineering but strategic father Tywin, and of course, Jaime, who had one of the best arcs in both the show and the books. The Lannisters are famous for their wealth and the deposits of gold they sit atop on Casterly Rock, their golden hair, and their ruthless politics. When Tywin served as Hand of the King to old Mad King Aerys, it was often whispered across Westeros that he was the true king ruling in Aerys’ stead. After the Targaryens fell, the Lannisters remained, easily switching sides during the sack of King’s Landing. During the height of the War of the Five Kings, fan favorite Robb Stark was brutally taken out of the running after the Lannister-sanctioned Red Wedding (by the way, according to Westeros customs, slaughtering people after serving them a meal in your home is severely frowned upon). But was it that Tywin said? “Explain to me why it is more noble to kill 10 thousand men in battle than a dozen at dinner.”
When you think about Game of Thrones’ ability to make you hate one character only to make you root for the same person later on, or its skill in making you want to see a villain succeed, you think of the Lannisters. And I think that speaks for itself.
3. House Martell
If this were a ranking of the Great Houses’ words, the Martells would easily win: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.” The rulers of Dorne hold the entirety of the region through their castle in Sunspear. As their words already suggest, the Martells pride themselves for their strength and independence that dates back even before the Conquest of the Targaryens; they have never been conquered by outsiders, not even by the House of the Dragon. Because of that, they continue styling themselves using the titles Prince or Princess, and unlike the ruling royal families who have sat on the Iron Throne, they actually allow women to inherit. That second tidbit alone should definitely make the Martells number one on this list but unfortunately, we don’t really know much about what happens to the House after season 8, other than the fact that an unnamed Martell Prince rose to power and was named the new Lord of Sunspear.
2. House Targaryen
With their white hair and purple eyes, Westeros’ original royal family are arguably the most recognizable characters from the world of ice and fire. The Targaryens are famed for their dragon-riding, various heroes, bad kings, and their eventual downfall during the reign of Mad King Aerys, who took the family’s motto of “Fire and Blood” a little too seriously. One of Game of Thrones’ most important and exciting plots was, of course, the story of orphaned Princess Daenerys’ rise from exile to queen and her attempt at restoring her family’s glory. She was Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains, THE MOTHER OF DRAGONS, and we will never see her like again.
1. House Stark
Much like their cold home in the vast region of the North, the Starks are known for their long faces and melancholic air. Their foreboding words—“Winter is Coming”—have often been repeated throughout the course of the show and highlight the House’s hardened dispositions. Their dedication to honor and, to some extent, self-righteousness, has earned them a reputation across the realm. That characteristic is also a significant contributor to their hardships (see: Ned Stark and his refusal to play the game of thrones) and has led to some of Thrones’ most heartbreaking and painful plots. With the children ending up spread across Westeros, separated, alone, and forced to grow up faster than they should, the Starks had to endure the most of the Great Houses during Thrones’ timeline, so much so that you just had to root for them. And so did their their people, who, after the tragedy of the Red Wedding, would whisper among themselves the mantra that kept all of us going: The North remembers. In the end, Ned Stark was right. The pack does survive.
(featured image: HBO)
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