You Win Or You Die: Ranking the 99 Game of Thrones Deaths

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Image credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

Martyn and Willem Lannister

Nephews to the ruthless Tywin, Martyn and Willem Lannister play a pivotal role for their family’s nemesis, the Starks. In the midst of a Season 2 battle, the boys are taken hostage and placed at Riverrun, home to the Tullys. They are relatively well cared for, as Robb Stark’s wife, Talisa Maegyr, takes them under her wing.

Talisa has a famously compassionate nature, which seems to have impacted Robb to an extent. It might be argued that Talisa’s good heart is what influences Robb to avenge the boys’ eventual slaughter. Or that might just be the Stark in him. Regardless, when one of Robb’s most loyal bannermen betrays his trust and orders to kill the boys, Robb doesn’t waste time taking action. Rickard Karstark protests that he stabbed Martyn and Willem for vengeance. Jaime Lannister had killed Karstark’s son in battle. And so he took justice into his own hands by offing the first Lannister kin he could get his sword in.

But “They were boys!” and undeserving of Karstark’s wrath. For his treason and insolence, Robb made the executive decision to behead him, thus setting off a chain of events that affect the Starks well into Season 6. Had it not been for Karstark’s revenge and Robb’s sentencing of him, the Karstarks would have stayed loyal to the Starks. As Catelyn warns Robb, “They won’t forgive the killing of their lord.” And indeed they do not. Instead, House Karstark pledges itself to the Boltons, leaving Sansa and Jon out in the cold prior to “Battle of the Bastards.”

Of course, Willem Lannister was destined to go. They needed Dean-Charles Chapman for the role of Tommen Baratheon in Seasons 4-6. So concessions simply had to be made. Or they could have hired another actor, but… Well, Chapman really knocked Tommen out of the park. And pitched him off a ledge. But that’s a tale for another entry.