‘Game of Thrones’: New Data Shows Which Characters Are the Most Important

According to that data, it’s everybody’s favorite scarred, alcoholic dwarf Tyrion Lannister

game of thrones s6e10 daenerys tyrion
Helen Sloan/HBO

I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day when he asked me who the main character on “Game of Thrones” was going into Season 7. Although Sansa certainly shows up the most in the recent trailer, I didn’t have a definitive answer.

Luckily, new data provides better insight into the importance of the HBO show’s gigantic cast of characters and asserts who might be the show’s main character.

And according to that data, it’s everybody’s favorite scarred — alcoholic dwarf Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage.

Analytics firm Looker got its hands on some data from across the internet — a set on screen time and a database of deaths — and compiled interesting info on the nature of the show’s characters.

Looker ranked 32 characters by the number of episodes in which they appeared and the amount of screen time they’ve had. According to the numbers, the main characters are, unsurprisingly, Tyrion, Cersei, Jon Snow and Daenerys.

Although how you look at the numbers can change who might be the most important character. Going by amount of screen time, Tyrion takes the top spot, followed by Jon, Daenerys and Cersei. However, looking at the number of episodes in which they’ve been featured, Tyrion still tops the heap with 54 episodes and 293 minutes of screen time… but Cersei and Daenerys switch places.

Other important characters according to the data include Sansa and Arya Stark, Jaime Lannister, Theon Greyjoy and Samwell Tarly.

Subsequently, these are all characters that get their own chapters in the books. The series, written by George R.R. Martin, is told from the point of view of a number of characters, broken up by chapter. Some with the most POV chapters include Tyrion, Jon Snow, Daenerys and Cersei.

The distinction between screen time and episode count is interesting, setting apart the characters who are working behind the scenes and those who are living in the forefront of the action. Tyrion, for example, is a high-profile figure in Westeros, serving as the hand of the king, getting married to Sansa and then getting accused of murder.

This is in contrast to characters like Varys and Pycelle, who jump up in the rankings when you take into account their episode count. Both were proven to be master manipulators, so their time out of the spotlight makes sense.

Other surprising revelations include Ned Stark, who died in Sesaon 1 and has a lot of screen time compared to characters who’ve managed to survive multiple seasons. He comes in at number 12 with almost 100 minutes on screen, in front of characters such as Brienne, Joffrey and Ramsay. He was arguably the main character in Season 1, which is why his death was so impactful.

The episode rankings look to be a better indicator of a “Game of Thrones” character’s importance. For example, while Hodor doesn’t appear in the top 32 in terms of screen time, he comes in at number 32 in episodes featured. He was always just Bran’s transport, but in Season 6, we learned the character’s true purpose, and it broke our hearts.

Other characters who had a lot of screen time but were killed off include Catelyn and Robb Stark.

The same goes for those who dropped in rankings once episodes were taken into account. Stannis Baratheon, for example, came in at number 21 in terms of screen time but 31 in episodes featured, showing how ultimately unimportant he was to the story.

Looker also compiled all the character deaths, including specifying which named characters got killed off, in order to visualize which season might have been the most fatal. You can check out the full results here.