Beyond the Wall: Who is the most evil in the land?

The Lion and the Rose Jack Gleeson and Natalie Dormer Game of Thrones

‘Game of Thrones’ has been lucky to have an antagonist as reviled as Joffrey Baratheon. But considering the events surrounding the Red Wedding, perhaps someone else is the most evil person in Westeros. Non-book readers, remember this post is dark and full of spoilers.


The word “gamechanger” is thrown around a little too often these days. Game of Thrones, though, is a show that establishes its right to use it time and time again. “The Lion and the Rose” was just the next in a lineage of episodes that includes “Baelor,” “Blackwater” and “The Rains of Castamere” … and we are only two episodes into this season!

If you aren’t a fan of the hairstyles of the highborn ladies of Westeros, then this post isn’t for you.
Joffrey Baratheon has long been this show’s biggest antagonist. In recent seasons though, there have been a couple of contenders to that crown. Have the recent actions of people like Walder Frey, Roose Bolton, Balon Greyjoy and Tywin Lannister himself changed that dynamic? Considering the lay of the land after this week’s events, who is the most evil in all of Westeros?

But before we get into that, our regular SPOILER WARNING. Beyond the Wall is a column that is written for book-readers by book-readers. So if you aren’t a fan of the hairstyles of the highborn ladies of Westeros, then this post isn’t for you.

Ivey: Well, that happened. There are a couple of moments that book-readers have been looking forward to … and for my money, the Purple Wedding was even higher on the list than the Red Wedding (at least I could take some pleasure in this death). Joffrey was long established in both the series and the novels as the most evil man in Westeros (I think an argument could be made that he was even worse in the show; just ask Ros). But his death leaves that title empty; who is going to slide into that role as the show’s primary antagonist?

I think one of the most obvious candidates is granddaddy himself, Tywin Lannister. He had a hand(!) in the carnage of the Red Wedding. He is also probably one of the scariest guys we’ve seen yet; he was the only person to bring Joffrey to heel. Hell, he’s got a song written about the evil shit he’s pulled in the past. And Tywin is probably the best strategic thinker in all of Westeros (not named Tyrion).

Bob: First off, you’re a total sexist for talking about the most evil man and not the most evil person. Are you saying a woman in Westeros is not capable of such horrid deeds?

Bob: I haven’t really seen Tywin do anything downright evil though.
Anyway, Tywin wouldn’t be at the top of my list. Is he cold? Yes. Calculating? Indeed. Evil? I’m not so certain. He is definitely willing to do what it takes to win, to consolidate the power of his family, and to hold onto it. I haven’t really seen him do anything downright evil though. The fact that he is so disapproving of Joffrey is reason alone to question his “evilness” credentials. I would even go so far as to say he is a man of his word, unlike some of the men he conspires with.

Two men who bargained with Tywin are far better candidates in my estimation. Walder Frey and Roose Bolton are all the things Tywin Lannister is (except less smart) as well as being traitors. They betrayed the king in the north and broke all the rules of hospitality at the Red Wedding. These are big no-nos in the world of Westeros. We’ve seen Frey’s complete lack of respect for the Starks and even the war throughout the run of the show. He is the epitome of selfishness.

I think the better candidate, however, would be his partner in wedding planning, Roose Bolton. He was Robb’s right hand man for much of the war, advising the young king and battling right beside him. Frey had all the reason in the world to be pissed at the Starks and Robb in particular, but Roose seemed to turncoat just because the tide of the war was turning. He’s a coward and an opportunist, and he is not a man I would turn my back to.

Ivey: It isn’t that I’m sexist. There are two female candidates for this list, right? Cersei and Melisandre. Frankly, I don’t think either of them are up there compared to any of the folks we’ve listed (or those that barely didn’t make the cut). Cersei is the mother of madness, not madness herself, and I think that Mel’s motivations are so much more complex than most of the characters on this show (I think, from a certain point of view, she might be the antithesis of evil).

More importantly, both are guilty of betraying Robb Stark.
Ivey: You’re right; we can’t have this discussion without including both Walder and Roose. While Tywin was the architect, these two pulled the proverbial trigger. More importantly, both are guilty of betraying Robb Stark. House Frey was sworn to Riverrun and the wedding party was protected under the custom of guest right (Just remember Bran’s retelling of the story of the Rat King in “Mhysa” last season).

Roose was the sworn bannerman of Robb himself. He sat in on his war councils and was a general — or the Westerosi version thereof — of the Northern army … and he put a knife through Robb’s heart. But if you try hard enough, you can see Roose’s motivations: He wanted to become Warden of the North after years of being beholden to House Stark. In Walder’s eyes, the insult he suffered when Robb married Talisa was just the final in the long line he had endured, first from the Tullys and now the Starks.

No, I think the most deserving candidate for “Most Evil Man PERSON in Westeros” is a boy whose only motivation is that he’s a sociopath. Ramsay Snow’s torture of Theon Greyjoy has been extreme and unnecessary (even though seeing it on the screen was disturbing, I think it might have been worse in the books). With the other candidates, there might have been a method to their madness. With Ramsay, there might be a madness in his method.

Bob: Alright, I can’t argue with that. That dude’s a bastard.

Ivey: I see what you did there. The scariest thing about Ramsay though? I think he’s going to become much, much worse.

Photo Credit: HBO

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