We started watching Game of Thrones for the action, but let’s be real we stayed for the romances. Watching the romance of timid Jon Snow and wildfire Ygritte unfold before our eyes, was almost as exciting as watching Jaime get his hand cut off, but you know, a lot less gross. But all the relationships of Westeros were not created equal and some were clearly more healthy than others. From fathers sleeping with their son’s love interests to brothers and sisters sharing more than just genes, the lines of relationships in this world were seriously blurred. So join us as we rank these relationships from ‘aww’ to ‘eww’ and dive into the most to least healthy relationships on Game of Thrones.
1. Ned and Catelyn Stark: Cute
All hail the king and queen of Winterfell! While they may no longer reign over their wintry kingdom, they will forever reign over our hearts as Game of Thrones‘ cutest couple. Sure, they had their differences, but at the end of the day, they loved each other. They shared five children together, plus Jon Snow who was allegedly Ned’s from a mistress, but who we eventually found out was not Ned’s at all. And although Catelyn initially resented him as proof that Ned had stepped out of their marriage, she accepted him anyway and raised him among her own brood, showing her loyalty to Ned. The two were the original power couple and ruled their kingdom with integrity and compassion. And they ruled their marriage and children the same way. We loved watching their love story continue to unfold and when they parted ways for the last time, it was a real tearjerker.
2. Grey Worm and Missandei: Cute
An unlikely couple to be sure, a eunuch member of the Unsullied and Daenerys’ most trusted counselor, but their short-yet-sweet love story is one that still warms our hearts to this day. They may not have spoken the same language, but somehow they seemed to understand each other perfectly, with long lingering touches, and smoldering glances; plus, their steamy language lessons helped too. Both found healing and solace in each other from their enslaved and abusive pasts and together formed something of a power couple. But as with most Game of Thrones romances, it couldn’t last forever, although in GOT timelines, they made it longer than most. Eventually, Grey Worm sailed off with his people to Naath, Missandei’s homeland, and Missandei was beheaded by the Mountain under Cersei’s orders. But we like to think that somewhere, in some other dimension, their love still remains intact.
3. Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen: Cute
Maybe these two didn’t have the most heartwarming of beginnings, but by the end, we were all in tears. Daenerys was basically traded to Khal Drogo, a small, well-raised princess married to an enormous machete-wielding barbarian. But over time the two began to form a connection that made us all swoon. We watched as little Daenerys tamed this wild man’s heart and became a queen to his people, even after he was gone. They called each other their “sun and stars” and “moon of my life” because their worlds revolved around each other — it was adorable. And when Daenerys found out she was pregnant with Khal Drogo’s baby, fans were over the moon too. But we should know better than to trust anything that seems too good to be true in Game of Thrones. Long story short, after Daenerys saves the witch Mirri’s life, the witch returns the favor by poisoning Khal Drogo. In exchange, Daenerys offers up her unborn child in a blood magic ritual to bring Khal Drogo back. But the witch is not to be trusted and while she brings him back to life, he is only a shadow of the man he was. Unable to walk or really talk, he is technically alive, but it is a cursed life. Eventually, Daenerys has to smother Khal Drogo to end his suffering in the final ultimate act of love. Please pass us the tissues.
4. Gilly and Sam Tarly: Cute
Sam was a true knight in shining armor and when he got to play that role for his love Gilly, it was so heartwarming. Gilly had not had the easiest of lives before meeting Sam. Gilly was one of the Free Folk and the daughter, and also the wife, of Craster. She had a baby boy with him which she ended up naming Sam. But then grownup Sam came to change her fate and made her his wife and brought her along on his adventures. Her past didn’t matter to him, and he accepted Gilly and little Sam as his own right from the start. The two found solace and faith in each other and together created a pretty good life together. Sam also got to play the role of hero, which we all knew he was all along when he killed a White Walker for Gilly using Dragon Glass. In the final season, we find out that Gilly and Sam are expecting a baby together, a son they plan to name Jon. Sam is awarded the role of Grand Maester on Brandon Starks’ court and he and Gilly by all accounts live happily ever after. Well deserved if we say so ourselves.
5. Jon Snow and Ygritte: Cute
Jon Snow was a beloved character on Game of Thrones. Everyone loves an underdog, and Jon Snow as the illegitimate child (thought to be anyway) of Ned Stark, fit that role. Rejected by his family and unloved by the world, Jon Snow sets out on an adventure to Castle Black to prove his worth, and somehow along the way finds love. He finds his companion in a fellow outcast, Ygritte of the Free People who lived north of the wall. Ygritte was a sword-yielding rebel of a wild woman, and as it turned out, just Jon’s type. Jon was initially told to execute her but after she escaped the two spent some very cold yet cozy nights out in the frozen wilderness. Finally, they fall in love and consummate their attraction in a very steamy cave scene. The two finally find the acceptance in each other that they could never find out in the world. It’s a very sweet sentiment. But Jon Snow is a lone wolf, and their love simply cannot last. Jon Snow takes off to Castle Black as Ygritte shoots arrows at him, which is why these two land in our number 5 spot. It is here that the cute relationships turn toxic as we descend into the depths of some of the most cringe relationships in Game of Thrones history.
6. Sansa Stark and Joffrey Baratheon: Cringe
Ick. This little weasel of a king-to-be was a monster right from the start. But with his outwardly charming ways and golden boy good looks, plus that whole next-in-line to be king thing, he was able to woo Sansa. Sansa and Joffrey get engaged, but as soon as Sansa’s father Ned dies, Joffrey’s true colors shine through. Joffrey becomes a monster and orders Sansa beaten, aims arrows at her, threatens to assault her in her sleep, wages war on her family, attacks her sister, mocks her brother’s death, kills her dog, and uses her, just to name a few. So yeah, not the healthiest of relationships. Even after Joffrey and Sansa’s wedding is called off and Joffrey is betrothed to Margaery, his torture of Sansa doesn’t end. Finally, Joffrey is poisoned at his own wedding and the little tyrant’s reign comes to an end, but not before finding a special place in our Game of Thrones worst relationships countdown.
7. Tyrion Lannister and Shae: Cringe
If there is one thing the Lannisters know how to do, it’s keeping it in the family. While Tyrion and Shae’s relationship was unhealthy enough, it got even more toxic when Tyrion found Shae and his father in bed together. Most relationships don’t end in murder, except in the land of Game of Thrones where a surprising amount actually do, and Shae and Tyrion were no exception. Not only did Shae trick Tyrion into thinking she was in love with him, but she also used him and eventually his father to try to get ahead. Shae was a prostitute and saw her ticket to royalty through Tyrion and his family, never mind his feelings. When Tyrion went on trial for the murder of his nephew Joffrey, Shae appeared as a witness, claiming Tyrion had been violent towards her and even kidnapped her. Later, when Tyrion caught Shae in bed together with his father Tywin, he lost it and he shot his father in the bathroom with an arrow and then went back to strangle Shae. Although murder is never the answer, we could definitely see where Tyrion was coming from — even in Game of Thrones land that was quite the betrayal. So while Shae may never have wrangled herself a spot on the throne, she did wrangle one on our countdown.
8. Lysa Arryn and Littlefinger: Cringe
Where do we even begin with this one. While the relationship between Lysa Arryn and Littlefinger was weird enough, it paled in comparison to Lysa’s relationship with her weirdo son. In a scene that caused cringe around the world, we see Lysa breastfeeding her basically 20-year-old son. Ok maybe he wasn’t that old, but he is well beyond the breastfeeding age. We can only assume it is her own feeble attempt at closeness with another human as her descent into madness seems to have driven everyone else off. Until Littlefinger that is. After a failed attempt to wed both Lysa’s late sister Catelyn and her niece Sansa, he settled on any member of the family he could get. Of course, Littlefinger never does anything without a plan, so we knew from the get-go he was up to something and it sure wasn’t love. The short love affair ended after Littlefinger convinced Lysa to poison Jon Arryn who was lord of the Vale, leaving her in charge. As soon as that was done Littlefinger pushed her out her own moon door, therefore, securing his own place as Lord of the Vale. Tidy. Yes, it doesn’t get much messier than using your spouse for murder then killing them yourself. So in doing so, Littlefinger secured himself and Lysa a spot as one of the least healthy relationships Game of Thrones has to offer.
9. Jaime and Cersei Lannister: Cringe
These two were brother and sister. Need we say more? But believe it or not the whole incest thing wasn’t the most toxic component of this pair’s relationship. Cersei and Jaime remained in a manipulative dance for the entirety of their relationship. Jaime fathered four children with Cersei, all of which they claimed to be fathered by others. They also pushed Brandon Stark off a ladder when he caught them having sex, crippling him for life. The two often planned various dark schemes all in the name of getting power however they could grab it. They cheated on each other, and lied to each other but would always come back to each other in the end. These two were made for each other as no one else could really stand them for long. Their romance ended with them dying together after yet another failed attempt at taking control of the crown. The two died in each other’s arms as the city fell around them, which is kind of sweet but probably wouldn’t have happened at all if they hadn’t created all kinds of wars and chaos to begin with. Basically, the two died in the rubble of the city and the lives they destroyed. A tragic ending for a tragically gross couple.
10. Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre: Cringe
The worst. The worst of the worst. It doesn’t get lower than convincing a partner to burn their already scarred daughter alive as everyone watches. So yes, the most toxic award goes to Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre. She also impregnates herself with a demon baby spawned by Stannis after promising to give him a son. Basically, she creates all manner of havoc. Melisandre also turns out to be a haggard old witch lady who was using magic to make herself young and desirable. Yes, this relationship was gross on so many levels, and we couldn’t imagine a better fit for our number one most toxic relationship spot.
While there were many relationships in Game of Thrones, these are a few that really stand out in our minds from the cute to the cringe, from the toxic to the tumultuous, from the aww to the awful, and everything in between. We’re quite sure these 10 couples will stay with us long after the show and all of its spinoffs have ended.