In four seasons, Game of Thrones has not only given us epic battles, steamy love scenes and loads of heart-stopping fashion, but also complex narratives that revolve around some truly powerful women. Today we toast those ladies and the upcoming Season 5 premiere by ranking these brave ladies, who not only survive but thrive in the dangerous world of Westeros.
From the weak to the warriors, see how the badass women of Game of Thrones rank below.
Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma)
Along with her lover Oberyn Martell, this Dornish dame entered Game of Thrones with tons of flare in Season 4. She's no blushing flower, a proud bastard (in the literal sense), and she's unafraid to embrace lust, love and life. And we would absolutely kill for that yellow jumpsuit she rocked. But with the eye-popping events of last season, we expect to see this lively lady show her dark side soon.
Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer)
It's hard to know what to make of the moves and motives of this rose, who changes alliances as often as she does her gorgeous dresses. Not afraid of a deep V-neck or the serious side-eye of her seething in-law Cersei, Margaery seems to effortlessly sidestep the worst of Westeros' scandals and schemes, always ending up safe with a smile. With men literally falling at her feet, that's no small accomplishment.
A wily prostitute from parts unknown, Shae's affections are a double-edged sword. When she's in love, she's a loyal confidante, enthusiastic lover and fearless protector. But when she's scorned, hell hath no fury like hers.
This wildling who wandered into Winterfell has proved a wily survivor. Frequently playing people's low expectations of her kind against them, Osha has repeatedly bargained for her life successfully, and even become a savior to the younger Starks. If we were forced into the wilderness, we'd definitely want this whip-smart warrior with a heart of gold by our side.
Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick)
One of Game of Thrones' many female warriors, young Meera is the dedicated bodyguard of her brother Jojen. She's a smart shot with a bow and arrow, quick with a knife and even quicker on her feet when trouble arises. The night is dark and full of terrors, but Meera is ever-ready for the fray.
Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley)
Catelyn's known just about every brand of pain you can imagine — from grief and betrayal to a sharp blade. Yet this stalwart Stark has been tireless in her efforts to help her children, whether it be advising her son in his royal rebellion, or risking her own life in hopes of saving her daughters. Hers have never been easy choices, and we're glad they're not ours!
Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan)
This loyal lady of the Iron Islands is not to be trifled with, as she is a merciless military leader with an army at her back. While her twisted sense of humor kind of freaks us out, we can't deny Yara is a maiden you don't want to mess with.
Melisandre (Carice van Houten)
Few characters on Game of Thrones are as terrifying as The Red Woman, Melisandre. In fighting to get Stannis Baratheon on the throne, she's shown to be a strategist three steps ahead of those who would thwart her. Aside for a fierce signature style, this high priestess also wields serious sorcery skills. Her faith in the Lord of Light leads her down some dark paths — to the kind black magic that nightmares are made of.
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)
Queen Cersei is a powerful force in Westeros, ruling by fear, force and deception. But as poor Ned Stark learned, uncovering her secrets is not enough to bring this Lannister lion down. She has the ear of the king (again and again), and a side-eye so ferocious it makes grown men weep. And if you give her a glass of wine, she'll give you the kind of real talk that shatters souls.
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)
For season after season poor Sansa was a plaything to a cruel prince, and all she could do was cry and lie to preserve her life and dignity. But so much time amongst her enemies has proved a top-notch school for scheming. This little bird of King's Landing has escaped her cage. And in Season 5 we can't wait to see how this incredibly clever girl will fly.
Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg)
Lots of lords and ladies in Game of Thrones have minions who do their dirty work, but the matriarch of Highgarden isn't afraid to get her hands dirty when necessary. People who mistake her physical frailty for weakness do so at their own peril, because this Queen of Thorns has a mind as sharp and cutthroat as the swords of the Kingsguards. This season, we suspect we'll see her teaching such wicked lessons to her beloved granddaughter and protégé, Margaery.
With wit as piercing as her expertly shot arrows, this wildling warrior won our hearts as she riled up a moping crow with a smirk and the taunting catchphrase, "You know nothing, Jon Snow." Her hair of fire and speeches on freedom awoke a passion in him, resulting in one of the show's most exhilarating love scenes. Making their final farewell was one of Game of Thrones' most painful moments.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)
Perhaps no character on the show is as loved as Arya Stark. Youngest daughter in the fallen family of Winterfell, this scrappy tomboy has been fiercely fighting for her freedom from gender expectation and simple survival since her first scenes. Yet whatever the wicked world of Westeros throws at her — be it would-be assassins, rapists, or conmen — Arya has escaped. While she's quick with a sword, her greatest survival skill has proved to be her judge of character. Though hot-tempered, Arya's learned not only to pick a loyal band of friends, but also how to play her cards when the odds are stacked against her.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
Her story is no doubt the most spectacular. She is the Mother of Dragons, and the last known heir to the Targaryen throne. She's already survived the schemes of her vicious brother, the dissolution of her tribe and several attempts on her life. She's brought down tyrants, amassed an army — and did I mention she is literally fireproof? Dany is on her way to being a major force in Westeros... she just has to cross the sea to get there.
But while we wait for that big royal showdown, the biggest badass among Westeros women is...
Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)
Like many others on this list, Brienne has endured tremendous personal tragedy, losing allies for whom she cared deeply. She's taken on impossible quests without fear. She's defied convention by becoming a lady and a knight, never giving a thought to what society would say of her. And when it comes to battles, she's brawled with men and beast alike, be they bear, Hound or Kingslayer, and lived to tell the tale. Though she probably wouldn't. Brienne doesn't quest for the glory. She's following her own heart and the promises it's made. And we can't wait to see where it takes her next.