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Ranking the Bad Dads of 'Game of Thrones'

By Rebecca Pahle | Game of Thrones | June 21, 2015 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Game of Thrones | June 21, 2015 |

Game of Thrones: One of the top shows on the air for murder, incest, and really horrible fathers. This Father’s Day, here’s hoping your pater is more like a Ned Stark or a Doran Martel (or, for that matter, a Roose Bolton—awful guy, pretty good father) than one of these guys:

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Robert Baratheon
King Robert’s major crime is all but ignoring his three (adoptive, not that he knew it) children, preferring instead to spend his days being a drunken layabout and fathering bastards. The emotional disconnect may have sprung from some subconscious suspicion that they weren’t his biological children, but it’s still a dickish way to behave. Even if one of those children is Joffrey.

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Walder Frey
One step down from Robert’s emotional absenteeism is Walder Frey’s general assholery to all of his dozen-plus children. The Crankmaster General doesn’t seem to actually care about any of his kids, instead viewing them purely as chattel that he can marry off to other houses in order to advance his own political standing. When there are complications, he gets… testy.

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Tywin Lannister
Generally speaking, calling one of your children a monster, accusing him of killing his mother after she died in childbirth, and bullying him his whole life—then topping it off by sleeping with his Special Lady—won’t earn you that World’s Best Father mug. Never accused of being a warm, fuzzy sort of fellow, Tywin Lannister even treated the two kids he didn’t hate with ill-disguised scorn and disdain when they didn’t measure up to his expectations. He was a better father figure to Arya than he ever was to Tyrion, Jaime, or Cersei. The fact that the season four finale aired on Father’s Day will never not be funny.

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Balon Greyjoy
What self-help guru can we get to talk some sense into the Greyjoy patriarch? So your only living son has gone soft. If the cause of that is that he was taken hostage when he was ten and raised by a family with a completely different value system, maybe don’t blame him for it. Further, if he makes a genuine effort at reconciling with his birth family—to the point of betraying the people he grew up with—IDK, maybe don’t say “Eh, whatever, fuck that guy” when he gets captured and tortured? Just a thought.

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Randyll Tarly
Good ol’ Randy hasn’t actually appeared in the show, but he gets top three placement for the sheer sadism of how he treats his son and (former) heir Samwell. Sam “was cursed and caned, slapped and starved,” all part of a plan to toughen up a young boy who liked music and food instead of jousting and swordplay. At Randyll’s request, a master-at-arms “had him sleep in his chainmail to make him more martial. Another dressed him in his mother’s clothing and paraded him through the bailey to shame him into valor. He only grew fatter and more frightened, until Lord Randyll’s disappointment turned into anger and then to loathing.” The culmination: Randyll threatening to kill Sam and make it look like an accident unless he left home and joined the Night’s Watch, a fate Randyll surely knew would be hellish for his son, so that Sam’s younger brother Dickon could the Tarly title and lands.

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Stannis Baratheon
The guy who burns his own daughter at the stake (regardless of how I feel about how that was handled) is only the second-worst father in Game of Thrones. Because of this guy:

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AKA the guy who kills all his sons and rapes all his daughters, who then birth more children that he can murder and/or rape. Happy Father’s Day, all! Good feelings all around.