Game Of Thrones deaths are a famous aspect of the series. Since 2011, fans have watched thousands die both in the battles between Westerosi nobility and before the mighty and terrifying onslaught of the wights. Game Of Thrones doesn’t differentiate between major characters and the masses. No one is safe. But that doesn’t mean the on-screen deaths have been evenly dished out.
Just who does the god of death tap when it comes to killing? Who among the cast of characters is responsible for the highest loss of human (and humanoid) life? That was the question we set out to answer going into the show’s final season. For the first six seasons, manually counting was mainly used to garner these numbers. When it came to the seventh season, we utilized hand-counting the footage as well as more “best guess” data for massive fight sequences featuring untold numbers of foot soldiers who met their ends.
For the purposes of this article, we are only counting actual on-camera deaths. The hundreds and thousands of smallfolk, soldiers, and mercenaries that undoubtedly have died off-camera are not forgotten, but also not counted here. In cases where a nameless minion kills or is killed in service to their liege lord, count for the kill usually goes to the one who ordered it. For example, while Daenerys didn’t personally kill all those people while escaping the fighting pit in Meereen, she gets the credit. Also, we’re considering wights — regardless of their reanimated nature — as deaths here if another character took them out.
Also, while not quite literally true, it often feels like every character on Game of Thrones has killed at least one other, so we are concentrating on the top 10 here.
#10: Stannis Baratheon
Estimated Kills: 30
Weighing in at 30 kills, Stannis begins our list. His killing spree began with the death of his own brother, Renly Baratheon, and it was just downhill from there. Stannis collected another high profile and infamous death with the burning of his own daughter Shireen. But most of his kill count comes from the Battle of Castle Black when he swooped in to save the Night’s Watch from destruction at the hands of the Wildlings.
#9: (tie) Walder Frey and Wun Wun
Estimated Kills: 31 each
Walder Frey has the dubious honor of being the only person on this list who never actually lifted a finger to kill his enemies. Instead, the cruel Frey patriarch’s 31 person kill count comes solely from Machiavellian scheming and an extremely loyal family. The Red Wedding was perhaps the most gruesome massacre in Game Of Thrones’ early seasons. Walder Frey would not be outdone in sheer volume until the next season’s battle at Castle Black.
Meanwhile, Wun Wun‘s 31 body kill count consists entirely of Bolton soldiers and undead wights, each killed up close and personal via the giant’s massive frame.
#8: Joffrey Baratheon
Estimated Kills: 40
From the moment he had Ned Stark beheaded, audiences knew Joffrey was not a hands-on killer. Besides Ros, whom he cruelly murdered with a crossbow, Joffrey preferred to keep his hands clean. His 40 kills come mostly from fights in his name, like during the riot in King’s Landing or the men at the Battle of the Blackwater. We debated giving those latter kills to Tyrion Lannister since he actually led the charge, but the soldiers were fighting in the name of King Joffrey, so to him the final tally goes.
Estimated Kills: 47
For a character who only appears in a handful of episodes, Leaf wracked up a serious body count. Between her and her nameless Children Of The Forest minions — whose kills she receives credit for — Leaf has so far put 47 notches on her metaphorical bedpost. Save for the flashback to the creation of the Night King, Leaf exclusively kills wights. Fireballs and other magical area-of-effect spells make for very efficient machines of war.
#6: Arya Stark
Estimated Kills: 59
Garnering her first kill during her escape from King’s Landing, Arya was otherwise a relative late bloomer. She doesn’t personally kill again until the finale of Season 3 (after some debate, we’re counting Jaqen’s kills as his own) when she takes out Frey men bragging about her brother’s death. After that, Arya begins to gain speed until her kill count ends up sitting at 59 on-camera deaths after her memorable poisoning of House Frey.
#5: Ramsay Bolton
Estimated Kills: 89
With 89 deaths to his name, Ramsay Bolton is a solid mixture of personal kills and those attributed to him in major battles. Not even his own father, stepmother, and infant half-brother are safe from the Bastard of Bolton’s chaotic evil wrath. Ramsay’s tally includes past lovers, servants who vaguely annoyed him, amateur assassins, a literal giant, and garden-variety foot soldiers laying down their lives in his name.
#4: Cersei Lannister
Estimated Kills: 300
In one fell swoop of vengeful wildfire, Cersei jumped from the middle of the pack to fourth place. Merely being responsible for the death of her husband, King Robert, would have been impressive enough for a queen who is under surveillance nearly every waking moment of her life. But from the Red Keep, Cersei accrued a notable body count even before the Sept of Baelor exploded – with that explosion’s exact body count unknown, but certainly pushing, if not surpassing, 300. She destroyed her enemies from Dorne as well as received credit for deaths during the scuffles between Lannister and Stark men in the streets of King’s Landing.
#3: Daenerys Targaryen
Estimated Kills: 300-500 (if not higher)
Here is where the numbers start to get even trickier. From the perspective of being able to pause Game Of Thrones and physically count the number of deaths as they happen, Dany “only” has 77 on-screen kills to her name before the beginning of Season 7. But then she goes to war with the Lannister army on the plains owned by House Tyrell. During that pitched battle, hundreds of soldiers on both sides are drawn into the fighting but the Lannisters are routed by Dany’s dragons, who burn over 1000 wagons filled with people and supplies at her command. In the midst of such chaos, it becomes impossible to count each soldier as he is engulfed in flames or figure out exactly how many escaped. Regardless, it pushes Daenerys to the third spot, but not high enough to overtake the top two causes of Game Of Thrones deaths…
#2: Jon Snow
Estimated Kills: Over 1,000
Even before audiences knew he was truly named Aegon Targaryen, men were lining up to die for his causes. From the Night’s Watch and the wilding horde to the lords of the North, Jon Snow has been a lightning rod for death. Again, the seventh season of the show pushes Jon’s body count into fuzzy number math, but before the battle with the Night King, Lord Snow had wracked up 118 on-camera deaths in a mixture of personal kills such as Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong) and Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) and soldiers dying on the battlefield. But the war with the Night King, where the ice sheets break and the wights start falling into the water at an alarming rate, means it is impossible to know exactly how many hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths — or second deaths, where the wights are concerned — the last Targaryen prince is responsible for.
#1: The Night King
Estimated Kills: Over 10,000
It could be no one else. The Night King has been killing and collecting the dead since before anyone else in Game Of Thrones was even born. Prior to his resurrection of the dead at Hardhome, the Night King already had impressive numbers. Clocking in with a mere 50 kills prior to his full reveal in Season 5, the leader of the wights wasted no time in making up ground. With a massive army numbering in the tens of thousands at his back, the Night King is the undoubted champion of murder in the world of Game of Thrones.
A big thanks to The Washington Post’s Shelley Tan, whose Game Of Thrones infographic greatly assisted in researching this article.