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Characters / Game of Thrones - Ramsay Bolton

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Lord Ramsay Bolton

Played By: Iwan Rheon

"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."

Originally named "Snow", Ramsay is the bastard son of Roose Bolton, the lord of the Dreadfort, an ancient fortress in the North of the kingdom of Westeros. The product of a rape, Ramsay is by far the most despicable and malevolent character in the show, being an utterly unrepentant sadist and sociopath. At the start of the series, he remains at the Dreadfort when Robb Stark calls the bannermen to march south, and later marches to besiege Winterfell when Theon and the Ironborn capture it in Robb's absence. However, the game of thrones end up making the bastard rise higher than anyone could imagine...


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  • Adaptation Expansion: Ramsay only appears in two of the five published books and is mainly part of Theon's story arc. The show gives him several additional scenes and moments that vastly expands his role. Ironically, it also tones down his cruelty which says a lot.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Book Ramsay is described as " ugly man. Even splendorous garb cannot disguise this fact. He is big boned and slope shouldered, with a fleshiness to him that suggests that later in life he will turn to fat. His skin is pink and blotchy, his nose broad, his mouth small, his hair long and dark and dry. His lips are wide and meaty, wormy looking, but the thing that men notice most about him are his eyes. He has his lord father's eyes: small, close-set, and queerly pale." TV Ramsay is played by Iwan Rheon, who is none of those things except for the pale eyes.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the television series, he is portrayed as a deadly archer able to kill four men in seconds and a capable fighter, able to take on some of the best soldiers from the Iron Islands bare-chested and come out without a scratch. In the books, Ramsay wasn't nearly so competent at fighting because he was never given any training by a master-at-arms and as such, his fighting style is very uncouth, driven more by butchery than skill as pointed out by his father. Also, he's more of a general in the series and listens to his father's military judgment during The Siege of Winterfell whereas Book Ramsay's main approach was mainly subterfuge, guile. Justified in-series because Season 5 reveals that Roose took Ramsay in as a baby when, in the books, he made himself known to his father in his teens. So Ramsay seems to have far better training in the television series than the complete lack of it that he had in the books.
  • Adaptational Heroism: "Heroism" is entirely the wrong word, but the show lightens Ramsay's behavior compared to the books (not that this is very hard).
    • In the books, Ramsay enjoys hunting women with his hounds, and when he catches them he rapes them and flays them alive. But if they give him good sport, he'll kill them before flaying them, and his favorites get to have a dog named after them. The skin is taken back to the Dreadfort as a trophy and the meat is fed to his dogs. The show heavily tones this down to simply "he likes hunting women and lets his dogs eat them," and even then it seems to have been a one-time thing.
    • In the books, Ramsay forcibly marries Donella Hornwood to claim her family's holdings, and then rapes her and locks her in a tower to starve to death. Show Ramsay does no such thing.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: In the books Ramsay's relationship with the first Reek, and his subsequent torture of Theon to turn him into a Replacement Goldfish for Reek, is full of homosexual undercurrents, and Ramsay shows no interest in women and is thoroughly incapable of attracting any woman in a consensual relationship. He and his men instead rape and torture innocent women without abandon. In the show, the homosexual undertones with Theon/Reek are downplayed (though still very much present) and he has a consensual sexual relationship with Canon Foreigner Myranda. Indeed rather than being innocent women Ramsay rapes and kills, they are identified as girls Ramsay consensually attracts before "getting bored" with them (and who also participate in his sadistic games) and the only time he explicitly rapes anyone is Sansa at her wedding night.
  • Almighty Janitor: His cover to gain Theon's trust.
  • Ambiguously Bi: He keeps a harem of women with him at the Dreadfort, and his little game with Theon/Reek is filled with 100% nightmare inducing homosexual undertones. In Season 4, he helps Theon/Reek bathe and even asks if Reek loves him.
  • Animal Motifs: It's less obvious than with the Cleganes, but Ramsay's associated with hounds, specifically the "mad dog" variety. Ramsay is wild, impulsive, and rarely thinks things through. Not only does Roose refer to him as a "mad dog" for his consistent Stupid Evil, but Ramsay frequently feeds living people to his pack of dogs for fun, displaying that he's just as much a savage beast as they are. It also plays into him being Jon's Evil Counterpart, as Jon has an undyingly loyal, tame direwolf. Fittingly, Ramsay's own dogs eat him alive after he's starved them for a week, showing him the same kind of loyalty he's shown to everyone else.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Jon Snow. In addition to being an Evil Counterpart to Jon Snow, Ramsay becomes a personal enemy to Jon by abusing Jon's sister Sansa, holding Jon's brother Rickon hostage and later killing him, and ruling the North from Jon's childhood home of Winterfell. Their feud culminates in a battle that went down in history as the Battle of the Bastards, which ends with Jon giving Ramsay a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown before letting Sansa decide his fate. Despite only just meeting, Jon and Ramsay deeply despise each other and have a strong desire to kill each other.
  • Archer Archetype: Manages to kill at least six of his own men with a few well-placed arrows and is a very composed and cold individual.
  • Armchair Military: During "Battle of the Bastards", Ramsay hangs back as his men do all the fighting, needlessly sacrificing the lives of his soldiers in the crossfire of his archers. This puts him at odds with both his Good Counterpart, Jon, and his brute, Smalljon Umber, who both fight on the frontline, as well as Jon's follower, Davos, who explicitly stops his men from firing arrows on their own men. Later, as soon as the battle goes against him, Ramsay beats a hasty retreat to Winterfell.
  • Arranged Marriage: Roose arranges for him to marry Sansa. It goes exactly as one would expect, with him treating her cruelly until she finally snaps and escapes with Theon's help.
  • Asshole Victim: A horrific excuse for a human being, him being torn apart by his own hounds is one of the most horrific deaths, and possibly the most thoroughly deserved.
  • Ax-Crazy: To call him psychotic would be putting it lightly.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Ambushes and kill his own men just to further the illusion that he's on Theon's side. An illusion that he later breaks himself, just to screw with Theon. He essentially killed his own men for fun.
    • He has no problem ordering his archers to fire upon their men when they are engaged with the enemy during the Battle of the Bastards and creating a mountain out of their corpses to trap Jon's forces.
    • Maestar Wolkan clearly fears him which Ramsay rubs in his face after Myranda is killed.
  • Bastard Bastard: A modern Trope Codifier. Not that his dad's a great guy, either.
  • Beard of Evil: Very briefly in Season 4. He orders Reek to shave him, to demonstrate to Roose that Reek is loyal.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Ramsay is quite easy on the eyes, always clean shaven (he's only sported whiskers to have Theon shave him as a demonstration of his loyalty) and he has a hairless, athletic body.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Initially played straight and taken to ridiculous levels as Ramsay survives fighting Ironborn and Baratheon soldiers without so much as a scratch to show for it. Finally averted in Battle of The Bastards when Jon gets his hands on him and inflicts a brutal beatdown on him. In his last scene, Ramsay is covered in blood, dirt and in so much pain he struggles to speak. That's before his hounds come and start tearing him apart, starting with his face.
  • Berserk Button: He doesn't like when people resist or challenge him, as evident when Theon initially refuses to accept his new name. And he really doesn't like when people point out that he's a bastard, even after he is legitimized.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: For Season 5 and 6 alongside the Night King, Euron Greyjoy and the High Sparrow. He personally acts as the main antagonist of Jon and Sansa's storyline. He also briefly takes control of House Bolton but meets his doom before the end of the season.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Saves Theon from his own men, but if Theon had actually known who he was, he might not have been so grateful for it.
  • Blatant Lies: Any time he promises mercy or safe conduct, he's just screwing with his enemies and plans to torture them anyway. Another specific example is, at the beginning of Season 4 when Roose chides him for torturing and castrating Theon Greyjoy because this effectively ruins Theon's use as a potential hostage to negotiate with Theon's father Balon Greyjoy (and Balon does abandon Theon for dead due to Theon's castration since now Theon can no longer further the Greyjoy line). Ramsay defends himself by saying that he tried to negotiate with Balon, but he wouldn't listen, so he tortured and castrated Theon. This is the complete opposite of what actually happened: the very first message that Ramsay sent to Baelon was delivered along with a box containing Theon's severed genitals. Roose's criticism is entirely accurate, he just plain didn't think that he was ruining Theon's value as a hostage by mutilating him.
    • Absolutely nobody believes his claim that Roose was "poisoned by his enemies" for a hot second.
  • Blood Knight: His reaction when Yara attacks the Dreadfort? To simply declare "this is turning into a lovely evening", and charge shirtless at the enemy. Then subverted when he becomes a coward against Jon Snow.
  • Blunt "Yes": When Myranda demands to know if Ramsay thinks Sansa is pretty, Ramsay replies, "Yes, I'm not blind."
  • Born Lucky: Most of his actions would have gotten him killed, or at least horribly mutilated, yet thanks to being the bastard of a high lord who is evil enough to be ok with it, but not quite evil enough to kill him when he fucks things up, he has support. And, since some of the strongest Northen houses are ruled by more ruthless and opportunistic offspring, he still has enough allies to cower the indecisive in an uprising. His luck finally runs out in the penultimate episode of Season 6.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Frequently taunts and insults Jon Snow based on his bastard status, despite the fact he himself is a bastard.
  • Brown Note: Ramsay's warhorn, which he loves to use, is a terrifyingly effective psychological weapon against Theon, and a single blast of it is capable of reducing him to a trembling, sobbing wreck within seconds.
  • The Bully: Much like Joffrey, Ramsay lives to abuse and torture people emotionally and physically to the point that he broke down Theon and made him his pet.
  • Cain and Abel: Not with Domeric who died of an illness. He later kills his newborn half-brother after killing Roose.
  • Canon Character All Along: He's introduced as a common retainer and horn blower before being called Ramsay at the end of Season 3.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Whenever he's resisted or challenged, he reacts with poorly-suppressed rage.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Ramsay clearly revels in all the pain and misery he causes and enjoys the reputation he gains from it.
  • Child by Rape: He finds this out thanks to Roose's "How I Raped Your Mother" tale in Season 5.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Murders several of his own men to gain Theon's trust, then turns on him. He also habitually breaks promises of safe conduct to enemies who surrender to him — and instead horrifically tortures them by flaying men alive by the dozen and leaving their mutilated corpses on public display. His father has become increasingly frustrated at him for his sheer lack of future planning. In Season 6, it reaches its head when he murders his father, his stepmother, and his newborn brother, all to seize power for himself.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In Battle of the Bastards all the way, his army has all the numbers so why would he gamble his life against the world's best swordsman?
    • Averted at the worst possible time when he misses a perfect opportunity to kill Jon to deal the final blow to an already dying Wun-Wun. Jon promptly takes him down easily.
  • Cold Sniper: While he's only seen wielding a bow a few times, he's at his coldest and calmest while using it. He finally uses it again in "Battle of the Bastards", where he plays a "game" with Rickon, telling him to run to his brother Jon while he fires at him. As Jon and Rickon rush toward each other, Ramsay deliberately misses Rickon multiple times. As Jon is just about to save Rickon, Ramsay finally kills Rickon when he's mere feet from Jon. Later in the episode, after Ramsay has lost the battle, he "reconsiders" Jon's offer to duel one-on-one. Instead of using a sword though, his idea of a duel is trying to snipe Jon from a distance with his bow. His coolness finally begins to defrost as Jon manages to advance, deflect all of his arrows with a shield, and get close enough to smash his face in.
  • Composite Character: With Harrold Hardying as the pawn used by Littlefinger to betroth to Sansa.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: His eyes would be large and expressive even on a girl. The icy eyes are the one aspect of his appearance which has carried over from the books (see Adaptational Attractiveness above).
  • Critical Research Failure: Invoked. He tells Theon to go east to meet up with Yara, who is at Deepwood Motte. Deepwood Motte is in the northwest of the North, which means that Theon goes the wrong direction...and back to where he was being tortured.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Being eaten alive by your own starving dogs while tied to a chair isn't a nice way to go out. The camera doesn't even shy away from a dog biting his chin or blood dripping onto his hand, and we continue to hear flesh being ripped off (and possibly choked screams of agony) as Sansa leaves the room.
  • Decomposite Character: His role as The Corrupter for Theon when he takes Winterfell is taken by Dagmer Cleftjaw.
  • Demoted to Extra: In Season 2. He’s far less independent than his book counterpart, since he doesn’t rape and marry Lady Hornwood while left to his own devices, and his role of corrupting Theon is taken by Dagmer Cleftjaw. He doesn’t even appear until early in Season 3, and goes unnamed until the season finale.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Heavily implied. While Myranda is his mistress, virtually every interaction between Ramsay and Reek in Season 4 oozes with nightmarish sexual undertones.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Devoured by his supposedly loyal hounds after not feeding them for a week while he screams in agony.
  • Didn't Think This Through: To the point of this being his Fatal Flaw.
    • Sansa reminds him that if Fat Walda has a son from Roose, Ramsay is nowhere as well positioned to inherit as he thinks he is; he is a bastard legitimized by another bastard (Tommen), whose questionable legitimacy was the whole damn point of the war. Also see Stupid Evil below for how his love for his sadistic little games will end up hurting his family's hold on the north in the long-term.
    • Murdering his father, stepmother and younger brother to become head of House Bolton and Warden of the North has two major problems. First, Roose had been able uphold the Boltons' dominion over the North despite Ramsay's impulses due to his pragmatism and political savvy in maintaining the support of the Lannisters and the Northern houses, qualities that Ramsay lacks. Second, killing Walda ruined the Boltons alliance with the Freys, who control one of the most vital routes in and out of the North, and at a time when the Boltons are in desperate need of allies.
    • Come the very next episode and we already see the start of issues. Smalljon Umber points out that not only did Roose betray his king, but now that Ramsay killed his family its clear to everyone that the Boltons spit on oaths and honor in the face of opportunity. The result is that the Umbers refuse to pledge fealty, are openly disrespectful, and House Bolton's hold on the North is shakier than ever.
    • His letter to Jon, threatening to kill Rickon if Jon doesn't deliver his little sister to be raped again and executed eventually. Not that Jon would give up Sansa after hearing she had been through hell, but Ramsay openly declared war on the Night Watch and the wildlings, and Jon returns the favor because he doesn't want either of his siblings killed.
    • This is what finally seals his downfall in "Battle of the Bastards". Ordering his archers to fire on the clashing Stark and Bolton cavalry regardless of losses on their side means he has few troops to counterattack when Littlefinger arrives with fresh reinforcements from the Vale. He also did not anticipate a giant to break Winterfell's gate when he hunkers down for a siege. Finally, when Sansa lets Ramsay's hunting dogs into his cell, she reminds him that he had not fed his hounds in over a week, a result of Ramsay deliberately starving them so that he could feed Jon to them, and they are very, very hungry...
    • This also present in his torture and castration of Theon. Theon is so psychologically broken that he ends up being no use as a negotiator, which is what Roose had hoped for, and his castration means that Balon has no interest in trying to get him back, making him useless as a bargaining chip. It's clear from Ramsay's reaction that he never considered the consequences of his actions.
    • This trope is so much of a part of his personality it shows up in minor things. When everyone else is worried about winter and having enough food, Ramsay is having a big private feast to himself, made up of animals he should have kept alive for the hard times ahead. Ramsay does what he wants when he wants without thinking of something as simple as how to have enough food for the future.
  • Dirty Coward: In "Battle of the Bastards", he refuses to fight Jon one-on-one, then stands back and watches the battle without getting his own hands dirty. When the knights of the Vale arrive and turn the tide, he turns and retreats to Winterfell. Then when Wun Wun smashes the main gate and Winterfell is stormed, he retreats. Finally, when he's cornered, he spitefully shoots Wun Wun in the eye and snarks that he's "reconsidered" Jon's offer for one-on-one combat, trying to kill Jon at a distance. He gets his face beaten in when Jon closes in using a shield. Quite the 180-degree turn from the shirtless Blood Knight in "The Laws of Gods and Men", as it turns out a lifetime of flaying helpless people after that left him quite unprepared for someone who could actually fight back for once.
  • Dissonant Serenity: His first few scenes involve him calmly sweeping the floor while his lackeys torture Theon.
  • The Dreaded: After making an example of House heads that refused to acknowledge House Bolton's rule, the other Houses are now doing so out of fear of Ramsay's reprisal. However, Roose is displeased because of how this could backfire on them in the future.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Despite not appearing in Season 2, his sacking of Winterfell and apparent massacre of its inhabitants after the Ironborn surrendered Theon to him establishes both that he and possibly his father are no friends of the Starks, and also that he has a proclivity to butcher unarmed and innocent people. Also despite remaining offscreen during Theon's torture at the start of Season 3, he almost certainly ordered Theon's pointless torture.
    • A more Fridge Horror flavored example, but the fact that his men have a policy of gang-raping escaped captives like Theon (or attempting to, in that case) reflects even more nastily on him.
    • Once his true nature is revealed and his first "game" with Theon ends, his nightmarish physical and psychological torture of Theon simply for his own sadistic enjoyment makes clear just what kind of monster he is.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Subverted. While there are moments where Ramsay can show affection to certain characters like Myranda, Locke or his father, as a narcissist and a sociopath, he's incapable of forming lasting bonds or seeing them as anything more than extensions of himself. He can bond with some characters because they share his psychotic interests and can feed his ego but if they die, he's quick to forget them. For example, after Myranda dies, Ramsay somberly reflects on their childhood together and promises to avenge her murder, then he tells his men to feed her body to the dogs instead of giving her a proper funeral, saying she would make good meat, and then never mentions her again. In the prior season, he had even casually threatened to murder her when she expressed jealousy over his engagement to Sansa. Earlier, he didn't bat an eye when Roose told him Locke was missing and he murders his own father with the barest hesitation to secure power for himself. It becomes very clear that the only person who matters to Ramsay is himself.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Ramsay mocks this concept in the Season 3 finale. He castrates his prisoner Theon, and in a later scene he eats a suspicious-looking piece of meat in front of the cringing man. Ramsay pretends to be shocked at the suggestion that he would think him a cannibalistic savage and confirms it's just pork sausage. Ramsay is obviously just messing with his prisoner's mind out of cruelty, but according to his dialogue with Osha in "Book of the Stranger," he may have such a standard after all. Still, given who he is, it's just a matter of time - one can safely assume that if Ramsay doesn't eat human flesh, it's only because he doesn't think he'd like the taste.
    • Astonishingly enough, this does play into effect in "Kill the Boy". Ramsay is speechless and a bit sickened-looking as Roose regales him with the story of his conception. Considering that Ramsay himself is a rapist and killer, it seems more likely he's sickened by how Roose's story relates to him.
    • When he stabs his father to death, he takes no pleasure in it, and appears to be shaken up afterwards, but he soon regains composure. That's about the extent of his standards.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Jon Snow. Both are high-born bastard sons of northern lords and resentful of their illegitimate statuses, but Ramsay is the diametric opposite of Jon in almost every other way, with Jon being one of the most overtly heroic characters in the show, and Ramsay as the most depraved monster who managed to outclass Joffrey and the Mountain. While Jon took Tyrion's advice from the first season to heart and embraces his bastardy, Ramsay tries everything to hide it and being reminded of it is his Berserk Button. Jon loves and is loved by his father, his legitimate half-siblings and his uncle and is very protective of his father, uncle and his half-siblings; Ramsay, on the other hand, was only acknowledged by his father because there were no heirs, and he kills his father, half-brother, and his father's new wife to ensure he is the only heir and the heir of Winterfell. In "The Battle of the Bastards", Jon is mostly mindful of his own troops, suggesting before the battle that he and Ramsay simply duel each other so as to reduce the loss of men. Ramsay, however, is more than willing to sacrifice his own men, refusing Jon's challenge and openly telling his archers to fire into battle when it means that his own soldiers will inevitably be caught in the onslaught. As far their conduct during the battle is concerned, Jon is heavily involved with fighting on the front lines (possibly getting the highest kill count of anyone aside from Wun Wun), whereas Ramsay remains far away from the carnage and retreats as soon as things start falling apart.
    • Actor Iwan Rheon, who portrays Ramsay, states: "Jon and Ramsay are literally the opposite to each other, you know, Jon's very noble and honorable and Ramsay's none of those things."
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Along with getting plenty of sadistic laughs out of physically torturing his victims, he also takes great delight in childishly taunting the recently-castrated Theon Greyjoy in a number of grotesque ways with a conspicuously-shaped pork sausage.
  • Evil Overlord: Ramsay fits this trope like a glove after rising as Warden of the North, being a brutal and sadistic ruler who usurped his position through force and rules over an frozen wasteland. Ultimately desconstructed as his unfettered cruelty leads to his own undoing: wasting troops in a gruesome battle against Jon Snow's forces leads him to very few men at the end of the battle and unprepared to fight back when the Knights of the Vale arrive. Even if they didn't, his forces would have been too depleted by the end to make a difference.
  • Expy:
    • Iwan Rheon says that he modeled his performance off of Heath Ledger's version of The Joker in The Dark Knight. See here.
    • He shares alot in common with Scar from The Lion King (1994). Both are sadistic sociopaths who, while still fairly competent, prove themselves to be quite arrogant and cowardly, especially after becoming a ruler. They also both wanted/succeeded to murder family members in order to gain power, no matter their age. And to top it all off, they both die in the exact same manner: spared by The Hero (whose loved ones they killed and/or harmed) just long enough to get eaten alive by their own starved minions (hyenas for Scar; dogs for Ramsay, respectively).
  • Facial Horror: Ramsay's dogs begin their feast by ripping his face off jaw-first.
  • False Flag Operation: He kills four of his men to gain Theon's trust.
  • False Friend: To Theon. He also razed Winterfell to the ground on his father's orders, despite supposedly being there to save it.
  • Fatal Flaw: His excessive sadism and cruelty causes him to waste his last, best chance at killing Jon Snow or escaping in favor of killing Wun Wun (who was likely going to die anyway) solely to spite the former. It also earns him one of the most agonizing deaths in the entire show when Sansa Stark, his latest victim, has him at her mercy.
    • He also repeatedly demonstrates a complete inability to consider the consequences of his actions. He mentally breaks Theon and castrates which makes him useless as a bargaining chip or a negotiator, his abuse of Sansa causes her to flee Winterfell and turn the rest of the North against the Boltons, he murders Roose and Walda to gain power and gives no thought to how this will damage the Bolton's already poor image or seriously affect, if not outright destroy, relations with the Frey's and he eventually lets his army get wiped out just for his own sadism.
  • Fate Worse than Death: If you happen to fall into Ramsay's hands, pray to the gods that he kills you quickly.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ramsay often comes across as friendly and playful, even gentlemanly around Walda and Locke, but it's clear that there isn't a single atom of genuine affability in the performance — especially given his propensity for blending it into his torture sessions and hunting games.
  • Finger in the Mail: Happily posts Theon's "favourite toy" to Balon Greyjoy in order to force his armies out of the North, with an attached note threatening to send more of Theon if the demands are ignored, not realizing that he just let Balon know that his son has been rendered useless to the legacy of the Greyjoys.
  • Flaying Alive: Like his father, Ramsay is a fan of this. In addition to gleefully peeling the skin off Theon Greyjoy's fingers, he practices the full-bodied variation of flaying on Dagmer and the other surrendering Ironborn after they handed Theon over, and threatens to do this to any other Ironborn he finds in the North. He enjoys flaying a lot more than his father, actually. Roose only flays people when he thinks he can get away with it and often does it in secret. Roose suggests to Robb that they should flay Lannister prisoners to make them talk, but won't openly defy him when he says no. In contrast, after the Greyjoy garrison of over sixty men at Moat Cailin surrendered, Ramsay flayed all of them alive, and then put their flayed corpses on public display. Ramsay does not have Roose's restraint.
  • Foil:
    • To Joffrey, arguably a Shadow Archetype. Both are equally sadistic, cruel, and bastards, and both share the same favourite pastime of tormenting others (however, Joffrey is not officially recognized as a bastard, but is publicly seen as a trueborn Baratheon son — despite suspicions to the contrary). The main difference between them is that Joffrey is a Dirty Coward Orcus on His Throne and a weakling who prefers to make others do the dirty work for him. Joffrey also pays some token lip-service to the dignity of his office from time to time (usually not, but one can make an appeal to his arrogance that if something would make him look bad, he might listen). In contrast, Ramsay isn't afraid to get his own hands dirty, poses an actual threat in combat, and is far more intimidating in general. Joffrey at least had some token conception of being a great king, so some actions would hurt his public image (admittedly few), and thinks he has the right to "power" because he's the son of the last king (though he secretly isn't...); Ramsay, meanwhile, openly acknowledges and revels in the fact that he's a sadistic butcher, and that his claim to "power" is purely based on his brutality, not laws or inheritance. In addition, while both are Stupid Evil, Ramsay is still shown to be quite intelligent as opposed to Joffrey, knowing exactly how to push a person's buttons, not just to torment them, but to break them (it's more of a "low cunning" though; Ramsay can think on his feet, but Roose has criticised him for having no sense of long-term planning, i.e. routinely torturing to death enemies who surrendered in good faith for promise of safe passage, purely for his own amusement, with no thought to the repercussions). Though Ramsay turns out to be just as much of a coward as Joffrey as seen in 'Battle of the Bastards' and both die Undignified Deaths.
    • The polar opposite of Jon Snow. As even George R.R. Martin pointed this out in the Season 4 featurette on "Bastards of Westeros". Again, both are illegitimate sons, both have the surname Snow (given to highborn illegitimate children born in the North), and both are the sons of powerful Northern noblemen. The most obvious contrast is that Jon is honorable, heroic, compassionate, and strives to do the right thing while Ramsay is pretty much the direct opposite of that. Jon loves his father and legitimate half-brothers and sisters while Ramsay killed his father and his legitimate half-brother. Their relationships with their fathers are also a point of contrast: Ned loved Jon and treats him as one of his sons, telling him that he might not share the Stark name but that he's every bit a member of the family, raising him as his own alongside his trueborn children. Roose, on the other hand, treats Ramsay poorly, bluntly informing Ramsay that he's just a Snow, not a Bolton and frequently calls him a bastard. While Ned never legitimized Jon, Roose did so for Ramsay... but only after Ramsay helped him win the North and Roose lost his trueborn son, leaving him with only Ramsay.
    • He could also be seen as one for Tyrion Lannister. Both were born with things that caused people to write them off (Ramsay being a bastard and Tyrion being a dwarf) and grew up under the thumb of cold abusive fathers who made their low opinions of them known while still using them to further their goals. The difference is that Tyrion is one of the kindest, most noble and intelligent characters in the series while Ramsay is...well, just look at the rest of the tropes used here. Both were also betrothed to and married Sansa Stark; Tyrion refuses to bed her unless she's willing, while Ramsay rapes her.
  • For the Evulz: His self-admitted motivation for doing the...things he does.
    Ramsay: [to Theon] This isn't happening to you for a reason. Well one reason: I enjoy it.
  • Freudian Excuse: It doesn't give him sympathy points in any way or justify anything he's done, but George R.R. Martin himself has confirmed that Ramsay knew from a young age about his true parentage but was completely disinherited. Therefore, a lot of his behavior is his desire for acknowledgement.

  • Genius Bruiser: He's a capable fighter and hunter, after all. This is in addition to a keen understanding of human psychology, allowing him to take torture to a level that no one else in the series even comes close to matching. His bruiser qualities were not demonstrated during, the "Battle of the Bastards", however.
  • The Ghost: In Season 2. He later appears in Season 3.
  • Giggling Villain: Boy, the guy loves to laugh.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Taken to the extreme. He plays the Good Cop, then betrays and kills the Bad Cops to gain Theon's trust. Then, he reveals himself to be the Worst Cop For the Evulz and because It Amused Me.
  • Groin Attack: He's on the giving end of a violent castration. Poor, poor Theon.
  • Hate Sink: Quite possibly the single most vile, depraved, and all around despicable character in the entire story, with not a single virtue to be seen. And in a series with characters like Joffrey Baratheon and Gregor Clegane, that's one hell of an accomplishment.
    • And in the aftermath of the second episode of Season 6, Ramsay unequivocally usurped Joffrey's position as the most despicable character in all of Westeros. Joffrey might have been a "vicious idiot [of] a king" but he never killed his own father and then had his stepmother and newborn brother fed alive to dogs just so he could be in charge. Following Ramsay's death in "The Battle of the Bastards", Cersei quickly moves in to scoop up his vacant crown one episode later.
  • Has a Type: Says he prefers redheads, though he's only seen ever sleeping with one — Sansa Stark, against her will — as the rest of the women he sleeps with are blonde and brunette.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • He breaks Theon, turns him into a tortured servant, and uses him as a stand-in for the Starks to marry Sansa. When Theon reveals he didn't kill Bran and Rickon, and Myranda tries to kill Sansa, Theon breaks free of the brainwashing to kill her and escapes with Sansa before they're caught. Whoops.
    • As Roose pointed out angrily, they need Sansa alive whether or not she bears a child. Sansa running away thanks to the torture and the rape means that the Boltons lost their leverage and engage in civil war.
    • He starved his hounds for seven days in preparation to feed Jon and his men to them. After Jon defeats him, Ramsay is tied up and left in the kennel, his hounds now so hungry that they discard their loyalty and devour him.
  • Hope Spot:
    • He constantly uses this as another twisted form of torture. He understands that providing the illusion of hope, then taking that away is even more psychologically damaging than not giving any illusion of hope at all.
    • While still pretending to be Yara's agent and pretending he's escorting Theon to her, he listens to Theon reflect out loud on everything that brought him to this point. By the end, Theon's so overwhelmed with guilt and regret that he's fighting back tears. "Maybe it's not too late," Ramsay tells him. Theon says that it is, that he made the wrong choice, and he's burned everything down. "Not everything, my lord," says Ramsay, the implication being "You still have your sister, who sent me to rescue you. You're safe and free now." And then he leads Theon back into the torture chamber and reveals it was all a lie.
  • Humiliation Conga: "Battle of the Bastards" is essentially Ramsay's pride before the fall. Right as he on the cusp of victory, the Knights of the Vale arrive to relieve Jon's army and routs the Boltons back to Winterfell. Ramsay tries to hunker down for a siege, only for Wun Wun to break down the gate and allow the Wildlings to storm the castle, before Jon finally beats Ramsay to a bloody pulp for the atrocities Ramsay has committed: such as Ramsay murdering his brother Rickon, raping his sister Sansa, and for all the hell Ramsay has wreaked. Finally, Ramsay is approached by Sansa in the dungeon, who reminds him that he has not fed his hunting dogs in seven days due to deliberately starving them so that they would kill Jon and Jon and Sansa's loyalist officers, before Ramsay is finally devoured by his own dogs.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game:
    • For a given measure of "dangerous". "The Lion and the Rose" opens with Ramsay and Myranda hunting a girl that the latter was jealous of, shooting her through the leg and allowing the dogs to rip her to pieces.
    • It's even more horrific in the books. note 
  • Iconic Sequel Character: He does not appear in the series until Season 3.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Visibly so and it's fitting for a sadistic monster like him.
  • Idiot Ball: Looks at Jon Snow, who is Big Brother Instinct personified, holding a sword literally dripping with blood and challenges him to single combat after raping his sister and murdering his brother.
  • I Lied: Ramsay has a bad habit of flaying people he promised to spare.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Subverted. He pretends to eat a man's recently severed and roasted cock in front of him, but then reveals that it's just a unsettlingly phallic-shaped piece of pork sausage.
  • Informed Flaw: His sadism and pointless violence is being pointed out by Roose as a problem. But so far the bastard gets around precisely because he is a violent sadist, since the people he breaks usually stay broken. Subverted when it finally comes back to bite him at the end of Season 6. See Fatal Flaw for more information.
  • Insane Equals Violent: He has volatile mood swings, indicating some kind of mood disorder, and he's easily the most violent and sadistic character in the series.
  • Instrument of Murder: After using his trusty horn for the purposes of psychological assault during the past few episodes, Ramsay repurposes it for physical assault in "The Bear and The Maiden Fair" by hitting Theon in the face with it hard enough to knock him to the floor.
  • Invincible Villain: Five seasons and nothing but increasingly unlikely victories. This guy may as well be despair in human form — if he doesn't somehow win himself, his psychologically broken or nearly as despicable cronies will make sure things still go his way. The only thing that can be considered a loss for him (outside of succession issues) so far is Theon and Sansa escaping Winterfell in the Season 5 finale, and he obviously wasn't around to intervene there. He can even kill the Warden of the North in his own chamber, in front of his bannerman and a maester, then kill the Warden's wife and newborn son in a public setting without any trouble. His invincibility finally runs out in the penultimate episode of Season 6, where he has been unbeatable for so long, he doesn't even acknowledge the possibility of failure until it is far past too late for him.
  • Irony: Most bastard-born children are denied property and inheritance rights in Westeros and face Westerosi prejudice claiming they are disloyal, untrustworthy and are a threat to the inheritance claims of trueborn children because they were conceived out-of-wedlock but these prejudices aren't true of many bastard children. Yet — Ramsay — the bastard we see who is disloyal, untrustworthy and even kills his half-brother so he can be the only heir is the one bastard son we see legitimized.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!:
    • "Do I look like a fucking Umber to you?!"
    • He mockingly chides Theon for thinking him savage enough to roast and eat Theon's recently severed cock.
  • It's All About Me: Ramsay is always and forever his own first priority and he thinks of little beyond satisfying his own sadistic desires, never paying attention to the consequences of Them for House Bolton, and repeatedly showing that no one else matters to him in the slightest. Like his other flaws, this comes back to bite him in Season 6 when he murders his father and brother to gain power, damaging House Bolton's hold on the North, and his complete disregard for the lives of his men means that his army is wiped out, letting Jon's forces take back Winterfell and execute Ramsay in a truly horrifying manner.
  • Jerkass: Taken Up to Eleven. He's sadistic, violent, callous, arrogant, and just plain rude sometimes.
  • Just Desserts: His ultimate fate.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Finally expires in the penultimate episode of Season 6.
  • Karmic Death: After avoiding a well deserved fate for three seasons, Ramsay is broken, held captive, and Sansa allows his starving hounds into his cell. Ramsay, a notorious sufferer of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, insists that his hounds are more loyal to him than to their stomachs. He's proven wrong when they proceed to devour him alive just after he is informed House Bolton dies with him. Not to mention, Ramsay's favourite pastime was to hunt down innocent women and let his dogs rip them apart when they couldn't run anymore, including his stepmother and newborn half-brother. He even named his dogs after the girls he killed — now it's them hunting him down, and Ramsay is the one that gave them a taste for human flesh... irony is a bitch.
    • There's also the fact that he's easily the most sadistic character in the show and is given one of the most horrific and painful deaths.
  • Kick the Dog: As he walks.
    • He razed Winterfell.
    • He tortures Theon to the point of mental breakdown, emasculates him and taunts him about that. To make things worse, he then mails his amputated penis to his father.
    • He hunts one of his girls, Tansy, in the woods and had her mauled to death by his dogs. The reason? His girlfriend heard her say she was prettier than her.
    • He brutally forces himself on to Sansa every night while taunting her at every opportunity.
    • He unleashes the dogs on Walda and her baby.
    • He allows Osha a bath and pretends sexual interest in her, making her think she has a chance at survival — then reveals he knew all along how loyal she is to the Starks (thanks to the aforementioned Theon torture) and stabs her in the throat. So the bath and Hope Spot was all engineered just to screw with her.
    • He puts an arrow through Rickon Stark.
    • He has his archers fire at Wildlings while they are engaged in combat with his own men, causing some Unfriendly Fire — made more poignant when noble Ser Davos hesitates to fire because their men could be hit.
    • His final act was putting a arrow through Wun Wun's head when the poor giant was already at death's doorstep.
    • Even when he is chained up and at Sansa's mercy, he still can't resist doing this, taunting her with the fact that what he did to her will always be present. This doesn't end well for him.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • An interesting use that turns the trope fully on its head. Despite his main onscreen victim being Theon, who we'd grown to hate in previous seasons, his treatment is so over the top and pointlessly cruel that he just comes off as being evil himself, while Theon is suddenly completely sympathetic.
    • Played straight in "Mhysa", where it's revealed that he flayed the Ironborn deserters who handed Theon over to him. It's hard to feel much sympathy for these particular victims — recall that Robb Stark offered Balon that if the Greyjoys joined his side against the Lannisters, he'd support them becoming their own independent kingdom too...and that Balon's response was to have the Greyjoys stab the Starks in the back and invade the North, out of just a wounded sense of pride, and then simply hope that the Lannisters (and now the Lannisters' Bolton allies) would "reward" them with independence for turning on the Starks (which is what they should have done had they stayed loyal to the Iron Throne anyway!)
    • He orders to throw Myranda's body to the dogs and Myranda is an Ax-Crazy Clingy Jealous Girl.
    • Played straight again in "Home" when he stabs his own father in the heart in cold blood.
  • Knife Nut: If you think he was sadistic with his mind-games, wait until he brings out the knives...

  • Lack of Empathy: Iwan Rheon himself describes Ramsay as a sociopath who lacks empathy.
  • Large Ham: Whenever he's mocking or threatening Theon.
  • Last of His Kind: He is the last living Bolton after murdering his father, his elder trueborn brothers, stepmother and newborn brother to secure his position. With his death in the "Battle of the Bastards", House Bolton's line has come to an end.
  • Laughably Evil: A master of the Mood Whiplash, in a brutal, horribly uncomfortable sort of way.
  • Laughing Mad: When the "Battle of the Bastards" finally comes down to a one-on-one between him and Jon, Jon ends up straddling Ramsay's chest, pummeling him to a bloody pulp with his fists for all the hell Ramsay has done to his family and the devastation Ramsay has wreaked. After the first couple of punches, Ramsay starts laughing deliriously. After a few more punches, he suddenly stops laughing when it becomes clear that Jon is going to kill him then and there — but Jon stops when he sees his sister Sansa, who finds Ramsay awake (and smiling the best he can) in the dungeons. Then Sansa feeds Ramsay to Ramsay's own starving dogs and the smile promptly disappears.
  • Loud of War: He loves blowing a loud war horn to disturb and sleep-deprive his victims.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He pretended to be an Ironborn spy sent by Yara to break her brother Theon out of captivity and help him escape, only to lead Theon back to the Dreadfort to be tortured again.
  • Mask of Sanity: Is rather calm, polite, and approachable when pretending to be Theon's savior, though there is something subtly strange about his forced mannerisms and speech pattern.
  • Marital Rape License: As shown in "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken", he revels in this, forcing himself upon a clearly uncomfortable Sansa on their wedding night. As shown in "The Gift" one episode later, he doesn't stop this, keeping her as a Girl in the Tower and aggressivey and forceful raping her every night to the point that she has bruising all along her arms (and probably also in many places we can't see).
  • Mind Rape: He enjoys getting into his victims' heads and then breaking them completely.
  • The Mole: Pretends to be a Greyjoy one For the Evulz and to trick Theon.
  • Mood-Swinger: Over the course of a single torture session, Ramsay can swing wildly between emotionless droning, absent-minded contemplation, childish glee, and psychotic rage.
  • Mr. Fanservice: An evil one, yes, but he's seen shirtless a couple of times and he's naked during his sex scene with Myranda in 'Kill the Boy'.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The only time he ever feels bad about what he's doing is when he murders his father after finding out that his newborn brother is a boy. Whilst also angry at the same time, he also takes no pleasure in murdering his father whatsoever and looks down in regret afterwards. His voice even breaks slightly when instructing the Maester to spread the false story that he was poisoned by his enemies. That doesn’t mean he feels bad about murdering his newborn brother and stepmother afterwards though.
  • Narcissist: Like many real life high-functioning sociopaths and sadists, Ramsay shows several narcissistic traits. He's overly confident in his abilities, his relations are shallow and only for the sake of his own pleasure, and his inflated but fragile ego is easily wounded by his father's pragmatic remarks.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Big time. He murders Roose to take over, turning the Northern Houses he hadn't already pissed off with his sadistic actions against him, his abuse of Sansa is what causes her to flee Winterfell and his military decisions cause his army to be wiped out. It's fair to say that Ramsay played a crucial role in restoring the Starks to power.
  • Number Two: His father's second-in-command and top enforcer.
  • Number Two for Brains: As his more intelligent and self-controlled father's Number Two, he makes several stupid decisions due to his sadistic and impulsive nature. He ruins Theon to a point that he can't be used as a bartering piece with the Greyjoys, flays the Ironborn reavers at Moat Cailin rather than honor the conditions of the surrender, flays lords who refuse to pay their taxes, and holds a large feast for himself when Winter is Coming. In general, his sadism and impulsivity prevents him from waiting or devising nonviolent solutions and consequentially, Roose spends Seasons 4 and 5 having to deal with his bastard/son's messes.
  • Oh, Crap!: It finally happens to him when Roose announces that Walda is pregnant with a boy, as his father has made it very clear how displeased he is with some of Ramsay's recent actions, and having a trueborn heir means he wouldn't need Ramsay anymore.
    • He gets two absolutely cathartic ones in "Battle of the Bastards": First when the Knights of the Vale rout his army at the Battle of Winterfell just as he is on the verge of claiming victory. Then, when he realizes that he had not fed his hunting dogs for over a week, having intended to starve them for Jon, right before Sansa sics them on their master. The note of panic in his voice is magnificent.
  • Patricide: Murders Roose to become Lord Bolton. He then kills his stepmother and newborn brother for good measure.
  • The Peter Principle: Ramsay is extremely skilled at torturing people but not much else and his impulsiveness and sadism make him a poor fit for anything requiring a more tactical mindset. This comes into play heavily in Season 6 when he takes over House Bolton and it ends up being wiped out by his blunders.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • As a reward for his "loyalty," Ramsay finally allows Reek a bath. Almost immediately subverted when Ramsay takes this opportunity to add as many disturbing overtones to this favour as possible, eyeing Reek up as if he wants to violate him in other ways. Subverted as it quickly becomes clear that it's just to manipulate Reek into helping Ramsay take Moat Cailin by 'pretending' to be Theon Greyjoy.
    • Subverted again with the death of Myranda. He seems to almost be genuinely sad for her death... but then he says it's good meat and that she should be fed to the dogs.
  • Plot Armor: As Jon Snow's Evil Counterpart, Season 6 is building up a confrontation between them and anything that might threaten that is removed from the equation. Thus Ramsay is able to get away with pretty much anything and kill off all potential enemies without repercussion until it's time for the two to clash, when by all logic he should have gotten killed by now.
  • Practically Different Generations: His father gets married to Fat Walda Frey, who announces that she's pregnant in season 5 and gives birth to a son in season 6. In response, Ramsay promptly kills his newborn half-brother and stepmother.
  • Practically Joker: The show portrayal of Ramsay Bolton has been compared to The Joker; even Iwan Rheon himself said in an interview that he was inspired by Christopher Nolan's depiction. He has the Faux Affably Evil act at first, then reveals it's all a sick game on Theon's expense. After he reveals himself as Theon's torturer, he continues his psychopathic scheme to utterly break him. Sometimes he's Laughably Evil, other times he gets deadpan and serious, and above all loves to torture, kill and break people For the Evulz. His book version has more of a Multiple-Choice Past with his former servant Reek, where it's not clear who corrupted (and "created") whom.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Starting Season 4, the actor's name is added to the opening.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Type C. He's intelligent and cunning, a capable fighter and hunter and purports himself to be the civilized scion of a Westerosi house, but it's quite clear he enjoys indulging in his sadistic pleasures and urges more than he should, also pushing him into Stupid Evil territory despite aforementioned intelligence.
  • Psychotic Smirk: A master of this.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: His penchant to treat the lives of everyone who isn't named Ramsay Bolton as expendable ends up costing him the Battle of the Bastards and his own life. Not to mention his habit to Kick the Dog caused the battle in the first place. On top of that, he's pretty much completely wiped out his own House.
  • Rape as Drama: Played straight on the night of his wedding to Sansa in "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken". He continues this every night into "The Gift", which takes place a few days later.
  • The Reveal: No Name Given for "The Boy" before the Season 3 finale, it is finally confirmed on screen in "Mhysa" that he is Ramsay Snow.

  • Sadist: Even the established torture-happy monsters like Gregor Clegane, who had people killed via terrified rats gnawing through their chests for the hell of it, don't hold a candle to just how utterly sadistic and cruel Ramsay can be with those who fall into his hands.
  • Satanic Archetype: Ramsay is an egotistical liar who has zero empathy for literally anyone. He's extremely sadistic, power-hungry and manipulative murderer who lives to make everyone's life a living hell with a sickening grin in his face.
  • Secret Keeper: Ramsay is one of the few aware that Bran and Rickon are alive but keeps the secret for his family's political gain.
  • Self-Made Orphan: He murders Roose once Walda gives birth to a boy so Roose won't be able to stop him from inheriting. He then kills her, his own step-mother.
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: He doesn't care that he admits to lying, he just finds it funny.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Pride and wrath are definitely his most apparent vices, but he also displays some gluttony (having a big private feast after killing all of the farming animals), lust (forcing himself onto Sansa and even Myranda at one point), sloth (read Dirty Coward up above), greed and envy (murdering his entire family for power although jealousy at his parents favoring his brother could've been another factor).
  • Sketchy Successor: Despite being by no means stupid and having a great knowledge of human psychology, he lacks his father's foresight and political skills. His excessive bloodlust is always overcoming his good sense and results in incredibly stupid mistakes, which ultimately accelerates his downfall. His father is a cruel and cold-blooded man but acknowledges that if he wants to rule, he should tone down his sadism and make compromises. Ramsay simply doesn't adapt to this.
  • Slasher Smile: He has a truly nightmarish one. "How fast can you run?"
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He parades himself as being the heir to the Bolton line despite his bastard status, Roose is quick to correct him on this.
    Ramsay: We've been flaying our enemies for a thousand years, the Flayed Man is on our banners!
    Roose: My banners, not yours. You're not a Bolton, you're a Snow.
    • He also overestimates his cunning and abilities as a ruler and pays dearly for it in Season 6.
  • Smart People Speak the Queen's English: His way of speaking — he uses a lot of "big words" and sophisticated speech, although the cadence is weird and the words are oddly knocked together. It's not the actor's normal accent, either. This all gives the impression that he's trying to sound smarter and more educated than he really is so as to disguise his lowborn roots.
  • Smug Snake: For all his cunning, Ramsay has a pretty inflated opinion of his own intelligence and importance compared to his father. Consider that all of the people he's terrorized and tortured were unarmed and incapable of fighting back: the Ironborn at Winterfell surrendered in good faith, the civilians at Winterfell when he torched it and put them to the sword, torturing Theon while chained up in his dungeons, hunting unarmed girls for sport while armed with a bow and hunting dogs, and then massacring the Greyjoy garrison at Moat Cailin (again, after they surrendered). He's a capable fighter on a personal level, but he's never won an actual "battle" (apart from turning back Yara's Leeroy Jenkins-style sneak raid on the Dreadfort, invented for the TV show; even this wasn't a full scale attack but only 50 men against an entire castle garrison, relying on the element of surprise, which soon evaporated). Ramsay genuinely thinks that flaying unarmed girls alive who are chained up in his dungeon makes him "cunning" — but any idiot can pull the wings off a fly. See Stupid Evil below.
  • The Sociopath: Ramsay has no empathy for any living thing. He is also a consummate liar, a thrill-seeker who tortures or hunts people for fun, he has an inflated opinion of his own abilities and he's bad at long term planning.
  • Spanner in the Works: To his own father. While Ramsay takes orders from Roose, he does things Roose doesn't order and in doing so screws up Roose's plans. For one thing, there's burning Winterfell and flaying the Ironborn, when it seems Roose's offer to them of safe passage out of the North if they surrendered was genuine. Not to mention that Theon's value as a prisoner became virtually non-existent after Ramsay castrated him; Balon has no use for a son who can't continue the family line. When Roose has Ramsay use Theon to have the Ironborn at Moat Cailin surrender, the plan almost collapses because Theon is so emotionally broken that he can't command respect from them.
    Roose: Ramsay delivered the terms. The Ironborn turned on Theon as we knew they would. They handed him over, trussed and hooded, but Ramsay... well, Ramsay has his own way of doing things.
  • Spare to the Throne: Though legitimized, Roose does not hesitate to remind Ramsay that he only sees him as his backup heir.
  • Spoiled Brat: Despite being a bastard, Ramsay was raised by Roose and entrusted with the command and loyalty of Bolton personnel by his father. He was eventually legitimized by him and named his heir, but is still resentful of having been a bastard.
    • Subverted by Roose's poor treatment of Ramsay. In HBO's featurette 'Bastards of Westeros,' GRRM contrasts Ramsay being treated very poorly by Roose while Ned lovingly raised Jon as his own son, giving Ramsay a Freudian Excuse for his nature (but this wins Ramsay no sympathy points).
  • The Starscream: He is his father's scheming, self-advancing second-in-command until he murders his father in the sixth season and takes his place as Lord Bolton and Warden of the North.
  • Stupid Evil: Unlike Joffrey, Ramsay is genuinely intelligent and cunning, to a frightening degree. The problem is that he mainly uses his intelligence to devise ways to torture and torment people for kicks, often without considering the long-term consequences of his cruel acts. When Roose returns to the Dreadfort, he's quick to chastise Ramsay for how he's managed to destroy any chance of making a badly needed alliance with the Greyjoys just because he wanted to have a bit of pointless fun breaking a man. Ramsay then needlessly massacres the Greyjoy garrison at Moat Cailin, flaying them alive and publicly displaying their corpses... after they had surrendered in good faith on promise of safe passage!
    • Pushed to new heights in Season 5, after Ramsay gets cocky from being legitimized as "Ramsay Bolton". Everyone (from Jon Snow in the Night's Watch to Stannis to the Small Council in King's Landing) is starting to get concerned that winter is finally coming in a matter of weeks, and to worry about food supplies. Ramsay, in contrast, is messily enjoying a private feast for himself — animals he should have kept alive for the winter. When Lord Cerwyn (one of the top dozen lords in the North) refuses to acknowledge the Boltons as the new rulers of the North, Ramsay publicly flays him alive — along with his brother and his wife — while forcing Cerwyn's son to watch. Ramsay is outright proud that afterwards the son paid his taxes. Ramsay barely listens as his father tries to explain to him that such wanton brutality hurts them in the long term — instead he continues to shove food in his mouth. Roose then gets so annoyed at Ramsay's oblivious stupidity that he comes the closest he ever has in the entire TV series to outright shouting at someone.From the books... 
    • In Season 6, his father coldly points out that "playing his games" with Sansa, i.e. aggressively forcing himself on her constantly, and causing her to run away, may well have cost him the support of the North. Without Sansa, the Boltons have no hold over the Northern lords. In the following episode, Ramsay correctly surmises that Sansa is running away to her brother Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch at Castle Black, and suggests they wage war against Castle Black to reclaim his bride. However, Roose believes the Northern lords would rise up against him for murdering the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
    • Killing his infant brother. Getting rid of Roose and Walda, reckless as it was, was at least somewhat logical, but his brother alone was no real threat. Ramsay could've raised him and he'd have 15 years at least to indoctrinate him and consolidate power as the head of House Bolton before the kid would even think about trying to overthrow him by challenging his legitimacy, or maybe never if Ramsay somehow raised him to be a very trusted ally or subordinate.
    • Shooting Rickon in full view of Jon, rather than using him as a hostage. Jon goes Big Brother Instinct and nearly kills Ramsay with his bare hands.
    • All of this comes to a head in "Battle of the Bastards". Sansa convinces Jon to raise an army against the Boltons, leading to the titular Battle of the Bastards. Ramsay uses his own men as a trap, discounts the possibility of reinforcements and ends up killing his entire Karstark-Umber-Bolton alliance more or less to a man. When finally cornered inside Winterfell, he at least has one chance to kill the enemy leader while surrounded, but wastes it by finishing off the giant Wun Wun (who was going to die anyways) instead of killing Jon, when he is distracted. His actions have left House Bolton with no heirs, dooming it to be forgotten by history as the Starks retake Winterfell and he is fed to his own dogs.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: His entire arc in Season 6 revolves around showing why people like Ramsay are poor rulers as his inability to think ahead, his sadism and his disregard for everyone but himself finally catch up to him and cause his house to be wiped out and end with him receiving an utterly brutal death through means he had arranged.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: There's little about his appearance to suggest he's the sadistic monster he is.
  • Token Evil Teammate: He manages to be this even within House Bolton who are regarded as this trope for the North. This comes to a head in Season 6 when he murders his father and brother to take over and ends up leading the house to ruin because the same qualities that made him valuable end up destroying him.
  • Too Clever by Half: Ramsay can be quite cunning and clever but his sadism and impulsiveness seriously undermine any ability he might have and, in the true spirit of this trope, his outsized ego ends up doing far more damage for himself and his house than even Joffrey did to the Lannisters with his blundering idiocy.
  • Torture Technician: Undisputed expert in the series at this trade, and has shown absolute mastery of physical, mental, and emotional torture, which are shown fully in "The Climb" and get worse from there.
  • Troll: Most of what he does, see Manipulative Bastard for details. Shown in all his horrifying glory in "The Climb" and onward, like waving a sausage he had partially eaten at Theon after pretending that it was Theon's recently severed penis.
  • Undignified Death: Ramsay had the chance to die with dignity by engaging Jon in one on one combat but instead ran away when his army was defeated and attempted to snipe Jon at a distance with his bow. Ramsay ultimately meets his end getting devoured by his own hungry dogs much like his various victims over the years with Sansa telling him that no one will remember his name.
  • The Unfavorite: Weirdly enough, despite being an only child, Ramsay is still this since Roose is hopeful of have an actual legitimate son so that he can discard him.
  • Unholy Matrimony: A non-married example with Myranda.
  • Unknown Rival: Initially with Jon Snow. Before becoming Warden of the North, Ramsay was rather interested in Jon Snow, who didn't even know much about Ramsay beyond being a Bolton bastard son. Ramsay mentions Jon Snow to his father, citing that despite his bastardry, Jon is still a Stark and is a threat to their rule. Later, he tells Sansa (whose eyes light up upon hearing this) that her half-brother Jon Snow has become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, citing this as proof that bastard children can rise high in the world.
  • Unseen No More: In season 2, he's mentioned as Roose Bolton's bastard but doesn't appear until season 3.
  • Villainous Breakdown: According to Word of God, he is unable to process that he is losing the moment where the Knights of the Vale arrived in "The Battle of the Bastards" as he is used to being in control and get his way every time. He remains confident that his cunning and tricks will get him out somehow. When his army is absolutely destroyed by the Vale knights, he waves it off as nothing saying he still has Winterfell and can withstand a siege, never mind that the Arryn forces outnumber him and are prepared to besiege him. When he is being beaten by Jon, he thinks he will be spared because of Stark honor, without realizing Jon spared him so Sansa, Jon's sister, could be the one to deal the final blow. Even when he is chained up inside the dogs kennel, he still thinks he will break out of this one for some reason until they are literally on top of him. This echoes the last days of Adolf Hitler, who acted much the same way regarding failure.
  • Villainous Crush: Once he lays eyes on her, he's absolutely delighted to be betrothed to Sansa.
  • Villainous Friendship: Has an apparently friendly relationship with Locke, warmly shaking his hand upon Locke's return to the Dreadfort, and then chatting with him about how much Jaime Lannister screamed when Locke cut off his hand.
  • Villainous Glutton: He's in good shape, but he's often seen eating, usually at an inappropriate time or while discussing something horrible he's done in a matter-of-fact way. In Season 5, this is used in a scene that very deftly summarizes him: in the same episode that both Jon Snow and Stannis express their worry about provisions for the long winter ahead (which should finally be coming, in a matter of only weeks)...Ramsay is enjoying a private feast with heaping piles of meat: foodstuffs he should have saved up for the hard times that are coming. Ramsay does whatever he feels like in the moment, without even pausing to think of something as simple as how to sustain his food supply tomorrow.
  • Villainous Valor: Even more dangerous than the Ramsay of the books, as he has not only butchered his way through Yara's fifty best ironborn reavers, leading from the front without a stitching of clothing protecting his vital organs but also run roughshod over Stannis's admittedly demoralised and outnumbered army and all without a single scratch on his person to show for it.
    • Ultimately subverted in Season 6 where his only feats are stabbing his unprepared father, having Walda killed, and counter-assasinating Osha. By the time of Battle of the Bastards, he becomes essentially fat and complacent, no longer feeling the need to fight enemies like he did shirtless against the Ironborn.
  • We Have Reserves: In keeping with his Bad Boss tendencies, he's fine with his archers killing his own men in the crossfire of a battle since he has twice as many soldiers as his opponent. This bites him in the ass when the Knights of the Vale arrive as The Cavalry and he no longer has the numbers to engage Jon's reinforcements.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It's very clear that Ramsay strives to get his father's approval, both to get rid of the stain of being called "bastard" and because he genuinely cares what his father thinks of him. He is legitimized after the capture of Moat Cailin, now becoming a bona fide member of House Bolton.
  • Wham Line: Three.
    • "I brought him back. He killed the others. (beat) Put him back where he belongs."
    • "You forgot to ask if I was a liar."
    • "Take off your clothes."
  • Would Hit a Girl: Women aren't safe from Ramsay's "games" any more than men are. Not to mention his treatment of Sansa, the serving lady he flayed, and him slashing Osha's throat.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He literally feeds his newborn brother to his dogs. He also snipes Rickon Stark.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: One of his favorite torture techniques. Whether it be something as simple as showing a dehydrated person water before pouring it out in front of them, or as complex as playing a False Friend helping them escape, only to lead them right back to even worse torture.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Sics his hunting dogs on peasant girls and whores he'd grown bored of. After Myranda is killed by Theon, he simply tosses her corpse away for them to eat, meaning she could have very well been "prey" for them, too, in due time.


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