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King Stannis Baratheon

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stannis_baratheon_7.png

Played By: Stephen Dillane

"It wasn't the Boltons defeated Stannis, but Stannis himself. I loved the man. He lifted me up and made me something. But he had demons in his skull whispering foul things."
Davos

Middle brother between Robert and Renly and the Lord of Dragonstone. As Robert Baratheon died without legitimate issue, he is the rightful King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. However, his throne has been usurped by the Baratheons of Kings Landing, bastards born of incest between Cersei and Ser Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer. Upon receiving Lord Stark's information about the true parentage of King Joffrey, Stannis shares the secret with every lord in Westeros and presses his claim, and remained stubborn and defiant despite near-constant reversals and imminent defeat. Eventually, he responds to the summons of the Night's Watch and became the only King claimant to recognize the importance of the threat of the White Walkers. He was eventually defeated in Battle outside the walls of Winterfell by Ramsay Bolton.

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  • 0% Approval Rating: Stannis lacks the charm both his brothers possess, and thus hasn't been able to attract many noble houses to his cause through diplomacy. Several characters insist that his rigid and unpopular personality would make him a terrible ruler, though most of these people are rivals for the throne and corrupt schemers like Littlefinger. Many people (e.g. Davos, Ned) who know him personally admire him for his honesty, military abilities, and strong sense of duty. While he may not be loved, he is certainly respected.
  • 24-Hour Armor: Close enough. There are very few scenes of Stannis wearing anything aside from the black-grey plate and mail armor with the sigil of the Flaming Heart on his chest, and even the robes he wears have metal plates mounted to the chest.
  • Abusive Parents: He did seem to love his daughter Shireen, but eventually decides to burn her alive as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light, ignoring her cry for help.
  • Achilles in His Tent: At the start of Season 3, Stannis is holed up in Dragonstone and refuses to see or talk to anyone except Melisandre.
  • Adaptational Badass: Stannis is a skilled commander and tactician as in the books, but here he is also a Master Swordsman who leads from the front and kills dozens of Lannister soldiers during the Battle of the Blackwater and later survives a cavalry charge, killing many, before ending up wounded by the Boltons before Brienne finds him.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: His great intellect and knowledge is vastly reduced from the books where he was the best read of the Baratheon brothers (with Renly, apparently taking this role in the show). His role in the investigation of the true heritage of Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen is gone. Book Stannis and Jon Arryn were researching this for a long time and Ned reaps the fruits of this work. TV Stannis learns from Shireen about the Dance of the Dragons when the first mention of that event was when he discussed it with Davos in the books.
  • Adaptational Villainy: On the whole, the show's version of Stannis is a Character Exaggeration of Stannis's flaws at the expense of his more frequently displayed virtues. In one featurette, D.B. Weiss admits he dislikes Stannis. This is also compounded by the fact that many of Stannis' enemies (Tyrells, Renly, Varys) are given Adaptational Heroism. invoked
    • The nuances, such as moments when he is more moderate than his wife's retinue (who introduced R'hllor worship to Dragonstone) are lost. Stannis isn't a fanatical R'hllor worshipper, he sees Melisandre as a sorceress and believes only in her magical abilities but is far less rigid about other aspects of her faith. He also outright forbids burning people for being "unbelievers" pointing out that if he did that he would have no army. While Human Sacrifice is part of R'hllor worship, Stannis never burns anyone purely for the sake of fanaticism, rather he punishes rapists, cannibals or in the case of his former Hand, outright betrayal and conspiring with the Lannisters. In the show, Stannis burns Shireen in a scene that has no equivalent in the books, and is logistically impossible as of A Dance with Dragons.From the Books 
    • In the books, he spared Davos even after his "treason" of ferrying Edric away before Stannis could consider sacrificing him, and actually praised him for his advice later. In the show, he explodes at Davos and declares his intent to have him executed, refusing to back down even after Davos begs for his life and tries to convince Stannis that him living will be good for Stannis's cause. He only relents when Melisandre tells him that Davos has a part to play in a prophecy. Later, at the Iron Bank, he implicitly threatens Davos with a Death Glare when his initial attempt to appeal for money fails.
    • A key instance that is Adapted Out is his Character Development. Book Stannis is intended to be a little unsympathetic at first, but eventually proves himself to be, as per Word of God, "a righteous man" when he saves the Night's Watch for altruistic reasons. In the show, his visit to save the Wall comes because Melisandre shows him a vision of him fighting in the snow, and this ends up removing the selfless nature of this action. invoked
    • He's fully aware and dismissive of his part in Renly's death since he dispatches Melisandre personally, whereas in the books his involvement is more ambiguous and he finds the thought greatly disturbing, is tormented by Bad Dreams afterward, and expounds on his grief and regret far beyond the single dismissive line used in the show.
    • He nearly strangles Melisandre for supposedly failing him in "Valar Morghulis", whereas in the books he is never physically violent towards women or anyone else outside of battle.
    • He's obsessed with fathering a son in earlier seasons, something he shows much less concern for in the books where his reluctance to bed with Selyse is a source of much snark (meaning he isn't trying very hard) and he generally mentions possible sons only as a caveat to his insistence that Shireen is his heir.
    • His offer to name Renly as his heir ''until a son is born to me" is played as False Reassurance given his tone and Melisandre's Psychotic Smirk, while in the books it's a legitimate (if begrudging) attempt at conciliation.
    • He callously executes Mance Rayder for defiance in "The Wars to Come" rather than doing it against his better judgement because his status as a Dangerous Deserter who attacked the whole realm demands it. Or at least, he thinks he executed Mance in the books.
    • The fact that Dragonstone was primarily depicted as a dim, cramped, Mordor-esque place under Stannis but is re-established as a gleaming, soaring, Minas Tirith-esque place when Daenerys takes up residence in the titular episode "Dragonstone" also gives Dany a stark Fisher King vibe at Stannis' expense.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the books, Stannis departs the Wall as the clear underdog but gains strength by rallying thousands of northmen (citing his reputation as a skilled commander and his actions to protect the vulnerable North, such as fighting the Ironborn at Deepwood Motte and the Wildlings at Castle Black) and, despite his hardships and the enemy's still significant advantage, confidently awaits battle on ground of his choosing as the blizzard abates. Combined with his comment that he means to "turn the ground [ice lakes] to our advantage" (after negating part of the enemy's plan A by capturing the Karstarks) and GRRM's out of universe confirmation that he doesn't die in the battle against the Boltons, he's set up to engineer a rather fantastic victory. In the show, he starts with the larger army, loses most of it to misfortune, persists with a suicidal advance, and gets ambushed in an open field by the very army he came to fight. He is then unceremoniously defeated off-screen.
    • His skills as a military commander are much lesser on the show. In the books, he's fully prepared to do battle with Renly's forces during the siege of Storm's End, preparing the battlefield around his forces to deal with Renly's superior numbers and cavalry and fighting with the sun at his back. Its even implied that Renly's ineptness as a commander( ex: his decision to leave behind most of his army to lift the siege with just his cavalry and knights, outdistancing his supply lines, his decision to attack at dawn when the sunlight will be facing his army and Loras Tyrell leading the charge rather than the more experienced Randyll Tarly) would have given him a good chance at victory. In the show, he is firmly convinced he cannot face his brother's superior numbers.
    • Ditto for his reputation. In the books, the Iron Bank's representative shows up at his camp out of the blue to offer him a loan, confident that he'll be able to take the throne and pay them back. In the show, he goes to Braavos himself to beg for money, and said representative basically laughs at him and tells him to fuck off.
    • Another example would be the Battle of Blackwater, where he is shown launching his invasion purely by sea, where as the book has him march with his main host on land as part of a multi-pronged battle plan that would see the city's natural defenses circumventednote  and its garrison assaulted from several angles, while deploying outriders and scouts on his flank to probe for any enemy forces. The only reason he is taken by surprise by the Lannister/Tyrell force in the book is because of Tyrion's Mountain Clans harassing and killing his scouts. Similarly, in the books, Tyrion has around eight thousand troops, forty-five war galleys (crewed by about six thousand oarsmen and marines), hundreds of ballistae, scorpions, and trebuchets, and at least a dozen fireships, giving Stannis only about a 2.5-1 advantage in both soldiers and warships (not bad odds for heavily entrenched defenders). Yet his plan goes off smoothly prior to the arrival of the Tyrells and he has effectively routed the garrison (with heavy casualties for the defenders) and breached the city within hours. In the show, Tyrion lacks a fleet, King's Landing defenses are less powerful (with shorter walls that have no mounted artillery until season 8), and the garrison is smaller, with Stannis's force explicitly outnumbering Tyrion's 5-1. Overall it comes across as a much less impressive feat of generalship. Though Stannis also does rout them more quickly.
  • Alliterative Family: With his wife Selyse and their daughter Shireen.
  • Aloof Big Brother:
    • To Renly. Stannis has somewhat fond memories of the child Renly used to be. From the books... 
    • Robert never got along with Stannis either, Stannis says in "The North Remembers" that "I didn't love him. He didn't love me." From the books... 
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Some of his defining traits (social awkwardness, limited emotional display, blunt honesty, logical thinking, high strategic skills as noted by the other characters) are stereotypically associated with Asperger's syndrome, while others (lack of flexibility, by-the-book behavior, tendency to ruminate, stubborness) are typical of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
  • Ambition Is Evil: What according to Benioff himself allegedly does him in. Despite having noble ends, Stannis is bound and determined that absolutely no one but him should sit on the Iron Throne, and every time he has to choose between ambition and his family (or his honor, or his principles) he chooses ambition. Ultimately this results in his downfall, as even hired sellswords can't stomach the lengths to which he is willing to go and abandon him en masse, leading to his defeat by the Boltons and execution at the hands of Brienne.
    • Except, of course, in the backstory, where Stannis supported his family and nearly starved to death in The Siege for a brother he never even liked because blood is Thicker Than Water rather than support his lawful ruler who would undoubtedly have rewarded him handsomely, most likely by fulfilling Stannis' ambition to be Lord of Storm's End.
  • Anti-Hero: Unscrupulous Hero for most of his screen time. Despite being subject to Adaptational Villainy he is still the rightful heir to Robert and his main enemies are the Lannisters.
  • Anti-Villain: Becomes one due to him having fairly noble goals, yet he still sacrifices Shireen to R'hllor to ensure his victory over the Boltons.
  • Arranged Marriage: To Selyse of House Florent.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • After his navy is destroyed, he leads the charge into King's Landing himself, killing several Lannister soldiers with ease. His men actually have to drag him kicking and screaming off the battlefield once it becomes clear that they have lost the battle.
    • Prior to Robert's death and the War of the Five Kings, Stannis was the Master of Ships on the King's Small Council. Under his command, the Royal Fleet soundly smashed the Ironborn fleet during the Greyjoy Rebellion.
  • Badass Beard: Grows his stubble into a regal beard while campaigning in the cold North.
  • Badass Boast: He gives some very intimidating boasts, and more often than not he can back them up as shown in Blackwater where he leads by example.
    Joffrey, Renly, Robb Stark, they're all thieves. They'll bend the knee or I'll destroy them.
    My enemies have made my kingdom bleed. I will not forget that. I will not forgive that. I will punish them with any arms at my disposal.
    The Baratheons say Ours is the Fury. I will show them; fury burns.
  • Badass Cape: Frequently seen with one.
  • Bait the Dog: In the 4th and early 5th season, Show Stannis seemed to be recovering from his Adaptational Villainy, being more chummy than usual with Jon Snow, having a Pet the Dog moment with Samwell Tarly, invoking Ned Stark's memory as a Big Good and being more overty fatherly to Shireen than in the books. Then Stannis burns Shireen which, despite it being a Sadistic Choice forced by desperation and madness, stresses Stannis as a Lord of Light fanatic.
  • Beard of Evil: By the time he burns Shireen at the stake his Perma-Stubble has become a thick bushy beard.
  • Beware the Honest Ones: Stannis is feared by schemers like Littlefinger and Varys for this reason. His refusal to compromise and his sense of self-righteousness means he will be less amenable to providing an environment for their unhindered scheming. Cersei even laments to Sansa during the Battle of Blackwater, that she would have fallen back and relied on seducing anyone else but knows it would be useless against Stannis.
  • Big Bad: In Season 2 for the King's Landing storyline. His pending invasion of King's Landing is the major plotline for King's Landing in Season 2, as Tyrion attempts to halt him to save the city. However, the Lannisters are supporting Joffrey and spend the season fighting the Starks, making him a Hero Antagonist. Likewise the Tyrells show they don't care whose King just so long as they can get more power.
  • Big Brother Bully: According to Renly, Stannis frequently berated his younger brother for not being a warrior.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In "The Children".
  • Big Good: He's considered the greatest threat to the Lannisters.
  • Big "NO!": In "Blackwater", his yelling at his retreating soldiers to stand and fight quickly devolves into this.
  • Brutal Honesty: He doesn't hide his dislike for Robert and calls Jaime the "Kingslayer", but he also insists that Jaime be called "Ser", since he's still a knight.
  • Cain and Abel: He is the Cain to Renly's Abel. Stannis cites it as a precedent when Davos tries to defend Gendry by invoking that blood is Thicker Than Water.
  • The Cassandra:
    • During the rebellion, Stannis told Robert not to go so far west so soon, Robert never listened and got defeated by Randyll Tarly for it in the Battle of Ashford, which directly lead to the Tyrell siege of Storm's End, the cause of much misery and slights to Stannis.
    • Stannis counsels Jon not to keep his enemies close. Jon tries the opposite approach with Alliser Thorne and is assassinated for it. Likewise both Stannis and Ser Davos insist that he support the King and become Lord Stark and help him take the North from the Boltons. Jon refuses citing his Night's Watch oaths, but in Season 6 he more or less gets forced by circumstances to do what Stannis insisted to start with.
    • Stannis insisted that Mance Rayder bend the knee in the interests of his people. He refuses and gets executed for his trouble and Tormund agreed with Mance, but in Season 7, he admits that Mance should have bent the knee noting that the lives lost in hardhome and other conflicts could have been saved if Mance submitted and preserved the alliance.
    • Stannis told Samwell Tarly about the dragonglass in his island fortress and encouraged him to keep reading. Eventually Samwell Tarly on going to the Citadel and following the King's advice comes across information about the dragonglass in Dragonstone and mutters that he should have listened to Stannis.
  • The Cavalry: After spending Season 4 trying to get funds and men for his cause, he is able to become this in "The Children", using a pincer attack to effectively rout and capture the wildling army.
  • Character Tics: Grinds his teeth and scowls a lot.From the Books 
  • The Chosen One:
    • Melisandre initially believed her visions told her that Stannis was the Lord of Light's chosen hero.
      Melisandre: You will betray the men serving you, you will betray your family, you will betray everything you once held dear... and it will all be worth it, because you are the Son of Fire, you are the Warrior of Light.
    • When she realized her mistake, Melisandre abandons Stannis and experiences a crisis of faith only for her to realize that it was Jon Snow who was the Prince Who Was Promised.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: At first, he makes it clear he has no problem leaving Davos to rot in a cell and letting Melisandre sacrifice Gendry. He changes his mind and releases Davos to give Davos a chance to convince him to spare Gendry.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He might join a war where he has the smallest army because Law says so, but he's not above using witchcraft to quickly assassinate his enemies behind the lines rather than suicidally charging against them in the field.
    Stannis: Cleaner ways don't win wars.
  • Composite Character: In the books it's Guyard Morrigen who leads the vanguard at the battle of Blackwater. In the show it's Stannis himself.
    • The leading from the front and being the first one to climb the ladder up the wall is an aspect taken from the book version of young Robert Baratheon.
  • The Comically Serious: In the rare moments of levity in his appearances, Stannis fills this role.
  • Cosmic Plaything:
    • To the Red God. Melisandre stated that her visions told her that Stannis was the Prince Who Was Promised and she genuinely did believe he met the conditions as per her visions. Stannis initially doubted this himself but sponsored her out of hope for some measure to create loyalty among his small group of supporters, but gradually came to believe that it was his destiny to protect the North from the White Walkers and liberate Winterfell. In the end, it turned out that Melisandre was terribly mistaken.
    • Another example is the fact that when young Shireen was affected by grayscale, Stannis went out of his way to save her life and did the best he could to give her a normal and happy childhood. In the end, he was made to believe that he had to sacrifice and undo one of the few noble and good actions of his life.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Defeats Mance Rayder's host of 100,000 with hardly a single casualty among his ~3,000 remaining men, all mounted. Factors in this include 1 — the wildlings were focused entirely on the Wall to the south, so they were expecting a major new enemy to surprise them from their eastern flank about as much as they were expecting the sun to rise in the west; 2 — they'd been fighting the whole night so many were still resting in their own camp; 3 — even if they'd been prepared, the wildlings aren't very organized, and have zero experience fighting heavy cavalry. Stannis's army, in contrast, caught them in a disciplined pincers movement with two mounted columns.
    • He also ends up on the receiving end of one in his last fight — deserted by his sellswords who stole the remaining horses, he and the rest of his army are caught out on flat ground by a larger mounted force and quickly surrounded. Given his nature and the futility of surrendering to the Boltons, he simply draws his sword and walks forward.
  • Deadpan Snarker: With a great emphasis on deadpan, there are times when the man is capable of producing dry and voluntary humour.
    Stannis: They don't have enough men to raid a pantry.
  • Death by Adaptation: He is still alive in the books.
  • Death by Irony: His bid for the throne was driven by his sense of duty as he was the legitimate heir. In the end he's killed by Brienne in the name of her duty to Renly. Lampshaded by his Famous Last Words.
  • Death Glare: His typical reaction when he's angry.
  • Death Seeker: In "Mother's Mercy", he's just sacrificed his own daughter, lost half his men, and been abandoned by Melisandre. It's quite clear that later on in the episode when he sees the massive Bolton army charging towards him he has no chance, but faces it head on anyway. Comes up again when he encourages Brienne to execute him, with a note of bemused contempt.
  • Defiant to the End: When Brienne finds him, he's wounded and unable to stand up; nevertheless, he's completely dismissive of her and simply tells her to get over with it.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Hardly noticeable given his stoic nature, but he crosses it as Shireen is sacrificed.
  • Determinator: He may have the smallest army or the tiniest power base and suffer a most devastating defeat, Stannis is a man who will not relinquish his right to the throne. He will fight to the bitter end and then some.
    Davos: As long as Stannis lives, the war is not over.
  • The Dreaded: Has this reputation amongst his sensible enemies at King's Landing, thanks to being a proven, uncompromising leader and soldier who has also developed the habit of burning his enemies alive. King Joffrey is an exception, eager to defend the good name of his uncle in the field of battle and give him a red smile. You can imagine Stannis's terror.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: It's essentially his fate and tragedy:
    • After his victorious and terrible defense of Storm's End, Robert gave Storm's End to Renly, who was a young boy at the time. Stannis abided by his duty, but Robert's call embittered him. Renly whose life Stannis saved as a young boy, ends up repaying his gratitude by rebelling against him because he has "a personality of a lobster".
    • He even gets this posthumously, despite fighting the Boltons and dying to liberate Winterfell, Sansa dismisses him as a loser who got what was coming to him. The wildlings resent him for executing their leader, Mance Rayder, though Stannis wanted to integrate them into the Seven Kingdoms and make them part of his kingdom. The Northern lords who Stannis appealed to repeatedly snubbed him and left the North to the Boltons and end up Easily Forgiven by Jon and Sansa after they too are snubbed by most of these lords when Jon and Sansa seek to take back their home, Winterfell, from the Boltons. Jon, aside from housing Stannis and his troops for a time at Castle Black, doesn't show much gratitude to Stannis for saving the Night's Watch from Mance.
    • Almost everything Stannis did, bring the Wildlings into the Seven Kingdoms, rally the Seven Kingdoms to better protect and defend the North, encourage Samwell Tarly's studies was more or less proven correct in its wisdom. Jon Snow as King in the North, struggles to get Daenerys to prepare for the Long Night, a cause which Stannis more or less immediately believed in, becoming the first and only Southern Kingdom to answer Maester Aemon's summons. Samwell Tarly belatedly chides himself for not believing in Stannis when he mentioned the dragonglass on Dragonstone, and more or less the cause to rally and prepare the divided Seven Kingdoms to prepare for the Long Night could have gone smoothly had people backed and supported Stannis from the very beginning.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Stannis wouldn't strictly qualify a "evil" but he is seen as villainous by other "good" characters, namely Brienne. Nonetheless, Stannis was the only king claimant to promote individuals on merit, welcome foreign religions into Westeros and his general focus is reform and purging corruption. He likewise offers Jon Snow legitimacy, but he makes this offer in order to win the North's support via Jon, a son of Ned Stark, requiring Jon to pledge allegiance to him, which Jon ultimately turns down out of duty to the Night's Watch. More importantly, he offers the wildlings — who are trying to come south — rights as subjects in his kingdom, but he would require the wildlings to kneel to him as their king, accept his rule, and give up their status of being a free people, but this is more than what most kings or lords in the Seven Kingdoms would do.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Grimly accepting his role as The Chosen One in a ceremony hosted by Melisandre, followed by a meeting to redact his claim to the Iron Throne. Very dour, Will Not Tell a Lie, a by-the-book man who will not compromise.
    Stannis: Joffrey, Renly, Robb Stark, they're all thieves. They'll bend the knee or I'll destroy them.
  • Evil Uncle: Subverted: he wants Joffrey's throne, but Joffrey isn't the biological son of his brother Robert. Played straight in Season 3, when he contemplates burning his biological nephew, Robert's bastard son Gendry, to gain magical advantage for his campaign.
  • Face Death with Dignity: On his last legs, he manages to kill two more of Bolton's men before encountering Brienne and encouraging her to fulfill her duty to Renly, and at no point whatsoever does he beg or try to talk his way out of it. Earlier, he willingly faces Bolton's army head-on, despite being vastly surrounded and outnumbered.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: What he turns out to be in the end, sadly. He was never meant to be the Prince That Was Promised - that is revealed to be Jon Snow. Although in a later twist it turns out Jon Snow was not the Prince That Was Promised either.
  • Fallen Hero: He was once the honorable commander who held Storm's End for days without food. However, repeated snubs and disrespect forces him to rely on the blood magic of Melisandre has slowly caused him to compromise all of his ideals.
  • Famous Last Words: "Go on...do your duty."
  • Foil:
    • To the unlawful King Joffrey Baratheon. Stannis is the man who epitomises Authority Equals Asskicking and has to be literally dragged out from a lost battle, while Joffrey is a Dirty Coward braggart who turns tail in the heat of the same battle in which he's only observing anyway.
    • He's also one for Tyrion Lannister, the disliked, maligned, underestimated second son Overshadowed by Awesome elder brother; and facing opposition and betrayal from a Too Clever by Half sibling, who is ungrateful and ignorant to all of his accomplishments and sacrifices.
    • Lets see. In the shadow of a more charismatic brother who is heir to the family castle. Ridiculously dutiful, stubborn and dedicated to justice. Breaks his vows with a redheaded woman, constantly dresses in black and doesn't really seem to care if the people he surrounds himself with are noble-born or not as long as they are useful.Nope, doesn't sound the least bit familiar.
    • He's also similar to Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, another Heel–Face Revolving Door who eskews conventional morality and is widely despised for it, but who believes that his own life philosophy will ultimately be vindicated. However, while Littlefinger's odiousness comes from his complete contempt for morals and principles and his determination to get ahead through any means available - as well as from the fact that while he's very successful at sowing chaos, he's ultimately nowhere near as good at capitalising on it as he thinks he is - Stannis' comes from his rigid, unforgiving commitment to his notion of justice and his misguided belief that he's a prophesised hero. They both die ignobly in a season finale, and in both cases their downfall is caused by their 0% Approval Rating finally catching up to them.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Stannis is logical and duty-bound, whereas Robert is a binge-drinking alcoholic and who has gotten the kingdom in a vast amount of debt. While Robert is a great warrior, Stannis played major roles in his campaigns, essentially winning the Greyjoy Rebellion by smashing the Iron Fleet at Fair Isle and then suppressing Old Wyk, the largest of the Iron Islands. From the Books 
  • Four-Star Badass: Well known as a competent soldier and commander. He shows it well at the Battle of Blackwater, and again at the Battle of the Wall.
  • Freudian Excuse: His aloof no-nonsense nature comes from having his own contributions to the Kingdom neglected by Robert, which along with leaving him bitter, left him with a strong sense of self-righteousness and a distaste and hostility towards more superficially charismatic heroes, charmers and people who say more than they do. On the other hand, this also plays a factor in his friendship with Davos: it's hardened him to becoming meritocratic to a fault, perfectly willing to make Davos his Hand to the King despite being a Working-Class Hero in a time of deep class strife.
  • Freudian Trio: He's the Superego of the Baratheon siblings.
  • Frontline General: Demonstrates unequivocally at the Battle of Blackwater that he leads purely by example. In fact, he has to be physically dragged away from the frontline by his soldiers after his army has lost the battle.

    G-M 
  • Get It Over With: When Brienne sentences him to death, he's clearly not giving a darn about it. He simply tells her to do her duty.
  • The Ghost: He never appears in the first season, and is only occasionally talked about by other characters. Stephen Dillane portrays him from Season 2 onwards.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Figuratively with Davos and Melisandre vying for influence over Stannis. It may be an Invoked Trope, or it may just be coincidence but it sure seems to come up a lot. When Stannis and Davos speak on the ship to King's Landing, Davos walks along with him on his right side. When Stannis looks into the flames at Mel's urging, she is clutching his left shoulder. Melisandre even dresses in bright red, while Davos wears humble clothing. At first played straight, then subverted in "Mhysa". While trying to decide on a new course of action, Melisandre and Davos are balanced on either side of him, out of focus in the background, over top of his shoulders, each one trying to pull him another way. However, this is shortly subverted when Melisandre agrees with Davos about going to defend the Wall, which makes it basically the first time in the entire show that they've ever agreed (even they look surprised).
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The scene cuts as Brienne is swinging her sword. The showrunners admitted that they felt it would be "gratuitous".
  • Grammar Nazi: Injustice will be punished, usurping would-be kings must be made to kneel... and it's "fewer fingers", not "less fingers".
  • Gray Eyes: Unlike his blue-eyed book counterpart, TV Stannis has gray eyes, which reflect his cold and strong-willed personality.
  • Heel Realization: He undergoes this after he's forced to sacrifice Shireen. He hates himself for doing so, but goes on with it anyway.
  • Heir Club for Men: Stannis doesn't have a son, only a sickly daughter, and he doesn't get on with his wife, so the odds of a legitimate son being born are slim and that plays a big role in their tension. From the Books... 
  • Hero Antagonist: To the Lannisters , but particularly in Season 2. While Tyrion is not exactly a villain, he is directly loyal to House Lannister and indirectly to Joffrey. Stannis is the main threat to Tyrion throughout the season as his looming invasion of King's Landing poses the greatest threat to the Lannisters' grip on power. And while Stannis is not an Ideal Hero, he would definitely make a better ruler than Joffrey.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Stannis mentions his affection for dogs — "loyal creatures" in his eyes. Played with in that during the Siege of Storm's End, after horses and cats had been consumed, he and his men were forced to eat all the hounds in the castle's kennels in order to survive.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has a barely notable one when he sees Davos's ship burn down in wildfire, and a much more obvious one when he sees what appears to be his dead brother Renly riding to the rescue of King's Landing in "Blackwater". By the Season 3 premiere, he has hit rock bottom, letting Melisandre burn "heretics" as she wishes and his Perma-Stubble near-reaching Beard of Sorrow levels.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: As far as the War of the Five Kings goes, Stannis is the one in the right, since Joffrey being a bastard makes him Robert's rightful heir as his eldest brother. He's also the only one to come to the aid of the Night's Watch when they put a call out to all of Westeros. Despite this, his cold and stern personality, combined with the concern over his worship of the Lord of Light, means very few respect him and fewer love him.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Davos, who's his Only Friend.
  • Hidden Depths: Keeping Davos Seaworth at his side is a strong indicator that Stannis isn't a bad guy at heart. He respects loyalty and honesty even when it comes from a commoner and when his powerful allies criticize him for it. He states loudly that he has no problem killing Gendry, but Davos calls him out on it saying if that was true he would have just done it. Instead, he came to Davos and told him what he was going to do, just so Davos could talk him out of it, proving he isn't so indifferent after all. Not only that, but Stannis's relationship with Shireen firmly establishes that despite Stannis being cold, authoritarian, and fairly harsh, he truly does love and care for his daughter.
  • History Repeats:
    • A king who gets advice from both a woman with Black and White Insanity who uses sex as a weapon and his rational best friend, while more often than not ignoring the latter. Yup, Stannis is Robert's brother alright.
    • Though he would likely bristle at the comparison, his burning of dissenters is remarkably similar to Aerys Targaryen at the end.
    • Stannis shares with Robert the hardships of controlling the North, even with a Stark by his side, as he points out to Jon Snow, who he tries to legitimize to help win the North over, but Jon refuses out of a sense of duty.
  • Hold the Line: Stannis's defence of Storm's End during the Rebellion despite dire straits and no support kept Robert's Rebellion alive and tangled the powerful Tyrells for almost a year. Had Storm's End fallen it would have been a critical blow to Robert's legitimacy, similar to Robb Stark losing Winterfell, and depending of the timing, could have finished his campaign to defeat the Mad King.
  • Humiliation Conga: His last day as King. He's not exactly written-off gracefully; Stannis finds out that half his army has deserted him overnight, that his wife has committed suicide, that Melisandre has abandoned him and then he comes on the receiving end of the single most one-sided Curb-Stomp Battle in the show, lacking even Mance Rayder's excuse of being in the middle of parley with Jon Snow. To top it all, he then gets killed by Brienne in the name of Renly, who she calls "the rightful King" despite Stannis basing his entire campaign on being the only contender with a legitimate legal claim.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Does not appear in the series until Season 2.
  • Informed Ability: Stannis is repeatedly referred to as an experienced battle commander, probably the best in Westeros. What few battles he participates in on-screen do not go his way for one reason or another; his actual record is pretty awful.
  • Informed Flaw: Renly claims Stannis would never be willing to negotiate. However in the meeting they'd just had Stannis did try to negotiate and offered Renly very reasonable terms which would probably end up making Renly King anyway. Likewise, the showrunners insist that Stannis' key flaw is "ambition" when he tells Davos that he didn't want the Iron Throne in Season 3 but feels he has to because its his duty and likewise, saw the circumstances that led to Shireen's sacrifice as a Cold Equation.
  • In Harm's Way: He accompanies his troops to King's Landing and personally leads them to storm the battlements.
  • It's All About Me: As with his younger brother Renly, Stannis is apparently sincere in his claims to care about the well-being of the common people but ultimately his desire to be king is motivated by Pride rather than duty to the realm. He rejects completely an opportunity to ally with his brother and Robb Stark and instead has his brother assassinated with blood magic out of a misguided belief that he alone can defeat the Lannisters. After his defeat on the Blackwater he abandons restraint entirely and allows Melisandre to burn whoever she pleases, and from there he resorts to extreme measures to secure his claim.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Says in the Histories and Lores section on the Greyjoy Rebellion that he would have executed Balon Greyjoy after their rebellion instead of sparing them as Robert did. Considering after Robert's death Balon revolts again Stannis was probably justified.
    • This actually happens quite a lot. Many of the figures Robert spared despite fighting against him turn to be very treacherous, like the Small Council who support someone they know isn't Robert's son, and the Tyrells who support Renly's poor claim to the throne, then switch their allegiance to Joffrey...
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stannis has zero social skills and comes across as a cold and harsh man who worships a god that demands human sacrifice via burning people alive. Despite that, Stannis's respect for Ned Stark, his regrets over Renly's death, his interactions with both Davos and Shireen, and his lack of religious fanaticism show that despite all that, deep down Stannis is a good man with good intentions. At least at first...
  • Karmic Nod: His final moments has him facing Brienne's "sentencing" with the air of serene resignation accepting his fate by noting that Brienne should do her duty just as Stannis always believed that he has been dutiful all his life.
  • Kill It with Fire: He is almost as fond of this as Daenerys, which isn't surprising as both characters are anointed as The Chosen One by the followers of the Lord of Light. Unlike her, however, he mostly prefers to burn his own followers when they dare to question him. He is at least somewhat restrained at first, as he is introduced with a small court of his own, but after his defeat on the Blackwater he throws restraint to the wind and allows Melisandre to burn whoever she likes, to the point where his "council" is reduced entirely to him and Melisandre by the time Davos returns to him. The only reason why he doesn't have Davos burned too is because Melisandre still sees a use for him.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Stannis may have loved Renly once, but that didn't stop him from killing him. Later, thanks to a Sadistic Choice, Stannis comes to believe that he has sacrifice Shireen so as to court magic support in his battle with the Boltons.
  • Kneel Before Zod: A justified example in that in a feudal society, bowing down to a liege is a customary procedure, but all the same Stannis is very insistent about his enemies and would-be allies bending the knee. He has little success at this.
  • Knight Templar: One of the most extreme examples you'll ever find. He claims to have his people's needs at heart and this was true in the first few seasons as he doesn't even WANT to be king, but he then uses blood magic, fratricide and even filiacide to accomplish his goals.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Burning Shireen results in half his men abandoning him, which in turn causes Melisandre to leave him. Then after his diminished army is decimated by the Boltons he is executed by Brienne for the murder of Renly, another member of his family he killed with the Red Woman's assistance to serve his own cause.
  • Licked by the Dog: When his daughter Shireen sees him for the first time in a while, she squeals and hugs him.
  • The Men First: According to Ser Davos in the History and Lore supplements, when he relieved the Siege of Storm's End; Stannis, who was gaunt from starvation, distributed food to his wife and his soldiers before eating and did not take a bigger share despite being the lord. This action of Stannis won him Davos's lifelong loyalty; as it was the first time the latter had seen justice embodied and practiced in his life.
  • Messianic Archetype: According to Melisandre. Turns out she was wrong in identity, but right in general geography. Stannis wasn't the Chosen One but he would meet the true Chosen One, Jon Snow, and play an indirect role in his path to destiny. Though Melisandre is later proven wrong again when it turns out Jon is not the Chosen One either.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: He resents the fact that people in general have a much more favourable view of his older and younger brother. Robert gets most of the credit for winning the rebellion against the Mad King, while Stannis's contribution is hardly acknowledged. When the War of Five Kings begins, all of the Stormlands bannermen side with Renly even though Stannis is the lawful successor to the Iron Throne.
  • Modest Royalty: Especially compared to his brothers, as unlike Renly he forgoes wearing a crown and has very few royal affectations in his dress in general. And even more modest than his book counterpart, who wears a crown shaped like flames.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • After being repelled at Blackwater Bay, he has a brief Crisis of Faith during which he exhibits sudden regret for leading men to a horrible death and for having killed his own brother. Whereas before he considered Renly collateral damage for opposing him, he now considers it straight-up murder.
      Stannis: I fought for your god in Blackwater Bay. I led my men to the gates of the Seventh Hell as their brothers burned alive and for what?! [...] I murdered my brother!
      Melisandre: We murdered him. Share the weight with me.
      Stannis: He wasn't your brother.
    • He falls into this again after Shireen's sacrifice. By the end, his typical stoic glare becomes a Thousand-Yard Stare and he looks dead inside.

    N-Z 
  • The Needs of the Many: A key element of his storyline. He's prepared to do terrible things and make sacrifices, such as killing Renly and Gendry, in order to save the realm. This is finally taken to an extreme when he allows Melisandre to burn Shireen so that his own men won't freeze or starve to death before reaching Winterfell. From the Books 
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Stannis's decision to assassinate Renly causes the Tyrells to join the Lannisters, which leads to his defeat at the Battle of Blackwater. Of course, if he hadn't assassinated Renly they would have killed him within a day.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Stannis is the only king to rise above the petty ongoing dynastic struggles, pay heed to the Night's Watch's calls and send an army to help. However, this greatest act of heroism is also what led his forces to ultimately be Snowed-In and trapped without supplies in the far north, leading to his infamous Sadistic Choice and his consequent Napoleonic defeat. In a case of Stannis inflicting this, he is fully prepared to execute Davos for the "crime" of releasing Gendry from an almost-certain fate as Human Sacrifice. Only Melisandre stays his hand.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: There are clear parallels with Richard III. Like Richard, he is the brother of a king and known as a skilled warrior and general. Also, like Richard, he is accused of murdering his brother in order to seize the throne and plot to kill their nephew(s), though in Richard's case that has never been proven. Both die in battle.
  • No Mere Windmill: In "Mhysa", Stannis decides to abandon his campaign in the South to march on The Wall, using his army to shore up the defences of the Night's Watch. The reason is because he believes their missives that the White Walkers have returned and knows that if someone doesn't stop them, it doesn't matter who is sitting on the Iron Throne, they will die just like the rest of Westeros.
  • Noodle Incident: A rather dark and spooky take on this happens to Stannis at the end of "Blackwater". Melisandre shows him a future event in the flames. It's later revealed in "Second Sons" that Stannis saw a great battle in the snow.
  • No Sense of Humor: Though in reality, a lot of his lines end up becoming humorous simply because of just how immaculately deadpan he delivers basically everything.
    Stannis: ...then we ate the cats; Never liked cats, so fine. I do like dogs, good animals, loyal. But we ate them...
  • No Social Skills: As he is acutely aware. Whenever Shireen hugs him, he looks awkward and surprised.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • He loses it once he realizes his men are retreating. He also loses his steely resolution when alone with Melisandre in the leadup to his offensive, admitting to her that he cannot succeed without the soldiers his brother Renly stole from him.
    • His mouth visibly twitches as if suppressing a smile, when he realises that Davos did not die at the Battle of the Blackwater.
    • In the Season 3 finale, he's enraged by Davos's treason and later laughs when Melisandre is the one who saves his life by acknowledging Davos as a needed ally.
  • Odd Name Out: His two brothers both have names that starts with R.
  • Offing the Offspring: Melisandre advises him to sacrifice Shireen for the power her king's blood contains. He refuses initially, but when the situation gets even more desperate he agrees.
  • Off with His Head!: Judging by the sword movements, Brienne decapitates him.
  • One-Man Army: Personally cuts through a score of Lannister soldiers during the Battle of the Blackwater, and later managed to cut his way through a Bolton army.
  • Only Friend: Stannis only has one friend — Davos. His inability to make friends impacts heavily on his cause, as his natural allies (the bannermen of the Stormlands) prefer Renly and his easygoing nature.
  • Only Sane Man: Davos pitches a convincing argument that after Tywin Lannister passes from old age, there is no one left in Westeros other than Stannis who can be a competent ruling power, as the only other candidates would be Tommen, Cersei, and Jaime.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When he talks with Shireen in "The Dance of Dragons", he sets aside his typical Brutal Honesty and is much at ease with hugging her. Cut to Shireen being carried to the stake.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Three of his children are stillborn, while he willingly sacrificed Shireen during the penultimate episode of Season 5.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Stannis is aware of his reputation vis-a-vis the Rebellion:
    Stannis: We were forgotten. Robert and Ned Stark, they were the heroes, the glorious rebels. Marching from battle to battle, liberating towns from the yoke of the Mad King while I held Storm's End with five hundred men.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Say what you will about Stannis; he may be a cold and ruthless man with all the charisma of a brick, but he loves Shireen deeply and will not let any more misfortune befall her if he can help it.
      Stannis: I was told you would die. Or worse. The grayscale would go slow. Let you grow just enough to know the world before taking it away from you. Everyone advised me to send you to the ruins of Valyria to live out your short life with the Stone men, before the sickness spread to the castle. I told them all to go to hell. I called in every maester on this side of the world. Every healer, every apothecary. They stopped the disease and saved your life. Because you did not belong across the world with the bloody Stone men. You are the Princess Shireen of House Baratheon. And you are my daughter.
    • When Melisandre tells him that they need to sacrifice Shireen to ensure his victory, he reacts with cold fury and outright refuses to carry on her advice.
    • Gets cruelly and gut-wrenchingly subverted when he finally caves to Melisandre and sacrifices Shireen to ensure that his men won't freeze to death on their way to Winterfell. This doesn't mean he's happy with himself, though. Not even a bit.
  • Parents as People: To Shireen. Unlike his wife, he tries being a good parent to her, but he is too busy with the war. To his credit, he's a much better parent than Robert...or not.
  • Perma-Stubble: In lieu of his book counterpart's neatly-trimmed beard.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Almost always scowling or displaying a stiff rictus.
  • Pet the Dog
    • He insists on seeing his daughter Shireen and spending time with her when he can, showing more care than his wife. In "The Lion And The Rose", he calmly, but instantly shoots down any notion of his wife's desire to physically "discipline" her for allegedly being unruly and ungodly. The look he gives after saying this has her immediately drop the subject.
    • He's one of the few people who recognize Jon Snow's qualities. In an effort to rally the North to his cause with a son of Ned Stark at his side, he gives the boy the chance of becoming Jon Stark so that Jon can reclaim his home, Winterfell, but Jon turns his offer down out of a sense of duty.
  • Principles Zealot: Even though his biggest enemies are Joffrey and the Lannisters, he won't make peace with Renly, who calls himself King despite being younger than Stannis, nor Robb, who has declared the North and the Riverlands a separate kingdom. All three are thieves to his eyes, and he likely figures that as long as all three are working against each other they're actually doing him a favor.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: His army is composed of this, by Westerosi standards. It includes former smugglers, Lyseni pirates, religious fanatics worshipping a strange new religion and of course a Red Witch.
  • Really Dead Montage: Subverted at first, then played straight: Stannis's actual death is given a Gory Discretion Shot rather than being shown, and for this reason, a number of viewers wondered if Brienne might have spared Stannis for some ineffable reason. Come Season 6, characters from Roose Bolton to Brienne of Tarth mention his death to drive the point home (more for the viewers than the characters) that he really is Deader Than Dead.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Shows signs of this when he arrives at the Wall, such as by allowing Jon to choose whether to spare Mance Rayder, and then adhering to his decision to do so. When Jon points out that the Night's Watch can't keep feeding his army, Stannis acknowledges this and says he'll move his troops out as soon as possible.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: How he views his appointment as Lord of Dragonstone.
  • The Reliable One: Played both ways. For years, Stannis's strong sense of duty made him dependable to what needed to be done for the good of the realm without public complaint. However, years of being ignored and denied what he felt was his due by law have left him bitter and determined to get what at least is legally his no matter the cost. However, he can still be relied upon to do what is necessary when the time comes.
  • Reluctant Ruler: As he tells Ser Davos, he doesn't particularly want to be king. But as the rightful heir, he believes that he must do his duty, and he believes Melisandre when she says that he's the only one who can save Westeros.
  • The Remnant: He is this as far as the War of the Five Kings is concerned, as of Season 4. The only original rival claimant to the Iron Throne who hasn't bent the knee to Joffrey at King's Landing. Balon Greyjoy has presumably not bent his knee yet, but he is not considered a threat like Stannis is.
  • The Resenter: He was highly embittered and melancholic before the outbreak of the war, as a result of not having his contributions recognized and properly rewarded, and this gets out of hand when he learns that his claim to the throne was usurped not only by the Lannister-Baratheon bastards but also by his own brother Renly.
    Stannis Baratheon: My enemies think they've destroyed me. They're laughing at me, the way Renly laughed at me. I want Joffrey dead. I want Robb Stark dead. Make me another son.
  • Resigned to the Call: He claims he doesn't even want to be the king or The Chosen One, but instead sees it as his duty.
  • Rightful King Returns: By law, he was the rightful King of Westeros, given that Robert had no trueborn heirs, meaning that succession defaults to the king's oldest surviving male sibling, Stannis. Yet he never quite makes good on his claim, his closest victory being Blackwater where he was defeated by Lannister-Tyrell reinforcements.
  • Rousing Speech: Gives one at the Blackwater. It's rather short, but gets the job done.
    Stannis: Come with me and take this city!
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Say what you will about the wisdom of his actions in "Blackwater", you can't accuse him of being a coward, or leading from behind. (Unlike Joffrey.) And with the addition of Renly's Stormlands bannermen to his army and having the largest navy of any of the Five Kings (save possibly Balon Greyjoy), he has a good chance of taking the city — and almost does. Just too bad for him that Tyrion Lannister is around and he has vast stockpiles of wildfire at his disposal, which you can't really expect Stannis to plan for considering its rarity.
    • He's also one of the very few people south of the Wall who is concerned with the impending White Walker threat.
    • He's also the only royal claimant in Westeros to respond to Maester Aemon's call for aid at the Wall.
  • Sadistic Choice: Season 5 has a series of them, he has to march to Winterfell and defeat the Boltons if he has to help the Night's Watch or he can winter at Castle Black, with little supplies and no political clout and die out during the winter. After Ramsay attacks the camp and burns his supplies and much of his food, he considers the one Melisandre offered. Rely on magic to create conditions for an impossible victory and sacrifice his daughter, or all of his army starve out in the snow anyway.
    Stannis Baratheon: Sometimes a person has to choose. Sometimes the world forces his hand. If a man knows what he is and remains true to himself... the choice is no choice at all. He must fulfill his destiny — and become, who he is meant to be. ... However much he may hate it.
  • Secret Keeper: Averted, when the first thing he does with the information about Joffrey's true parentage is to tell it to as many people as possible so no one can claim ignorance, and says that Ned only telling him was a mistake on Ned's part. From the books... 
  • Sibling Rivalry: With both of his brothers, though it gets especially bad with Renly after they both declare themselves king, and he promises to smash Renly's army when he refuses to surrender. He shrugs off Renly's death (which he himself caused) callously at first, though months later and after realizing it gained him nothing he showed a twinge of remorse.
  • Spanner in the Works: His arrival at the Wall completely derails Mance's invasion, but also throws a wrench in Roose Bolton's attempts to solidify the North under his rule.
  • The Stoic: His regular range and display of emotions does not go much beyond indignation, which gains him a reputation of a man who never smiles and who has the personality of a lobster. This makes his Not So Stoic moments all the more remarkable.
  • The Strategist: While it's clear Stannis has utterly no talent for politics, one of his few saving graces as a leader is his strategic ability and talent as a general. He would've taken King's Landing if it hadn't been for Tyrion's wildfire trick and fiercely organized defense, which delayed his siege long enough for Tywin to arrive with the Tyrells as reinforcements.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: He leans heavily on the icy side, but his interactions with Davos and Shireen show that he also cares deeply for some people, although he's not good at showing it.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Downplayed, but it's quite visible that he doesn't particularly like using Melisandre's dark magic, but needs her all the same.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: He demonstrates such an extreme example after seeing Shireen die that it resembles anime-style Dull Eyes of Unhappiness.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In Season 5, he's generally mellowing out and becoming more of a people person. Whether its praising Sam and encouraging him, being respectful to Jon Snow and taking a more active role in Shireen's life. Then he burns Shireen alive.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: He is this if you subscribe to the belief that he really is devoted to The Needs of the Many and isn't just using it to justify his egomania.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Melisandre's. Even he seems aware of it, but he doesn't seem to be able to do anything about it.
  • Tragic Hero: He truly believes that he can save the realm by being king. However, his dependence on Melisandre's blood magic proves to be his undoing, as he loses his principles, his army, and his family.
  • Trapped in Villainy: Stannis really and truly wants to serve the Realm, purge corruption, restore order and he's the only one of the Five Kings who responds and comes to the aid of the Night's Watch and places the White Walker invasion on priority. However, circumstances, bad luck and cruel fate forces him to rely on Melisandre's magic powers and the great price that comes with it. She herself tells Stannis that he will be forced to betray everything he held dear to save the realm. He never finds out all that it implies until he realizes that he has to sacrifice Shireen in order to win the campaign to liberate the North from the Boltons to better help the Night's Watch.
  • The Unfettered: Stannis might wring his hands about it, and he might show some insincere regret after the fact, but there is literally nothing he will not do to sit on the Iron Throne. He has to build up to this point at least, starting out as The Fettered and slowly having his fetters whittled away by Melisandre from Seasons 2 to 5.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: He never fails to complain about Roberts perceived slights, even though Robert essentially gave Stannis (and Renly) his own children's inheritance and with a stroke made a second son one of the greatest lords in Westeros. Though what really annoyed him there was that Renly, who barely did anything, was given a much better lordship.
  • The Unsmile: Stannis appears to be trying to smile come Season 5. It's a little unsettling. When he has to spare Davos, his riled smile against a sunset background is memetically creepy.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Like Robert, he is unhappily married for political reasons. (As he returns to his keep after burning the idols of the Seven, Stannis nearly forgets his wife Selyse, and then ends up walking off without her anyway. He is never seen with her again in Season 2.) However, when Selyse appears again in Stannis seems to genuinely love her (though they're still unhappy and distant) and his daughter.
  • Villain Respect: When composing a letter addressing Joffrey's lineage, he refers to Jaime as both the Kingslayer and as ''Ser Jaime'' as for all of Jaime's flaws, he remains a knight and should be treated as one.
  • Volcano Lair: Dragonstone — Stannis's foreboding seat of power — is one of these, in addition to being an Island Base. It was formed centuries ago by volcanic eruptions, utilized by the Targaryens as a staging ground for their conquest of Westeros, and for bonus points is a major source of obsidian. It's also where every Targaryen dragon, other than Balerion the Black Dread, was born and raised.
  • Warrior Prince: Like Robb Stark, he started as nobility rather than royalty but he becomes this.
  • We Have Reserves: Stannis gives a rare heroic version of this in Blackwater, emphasizing not his callousness but the need to take King's Landing to depose Joffrey and install Stannis, the rightful king, despite the cost. Also subverted, in that Stannis truly does not have reserves. He's all-in at Blackwater and struggles to raise a new host after his defeat.
    Imry Florent: We're too far from the gates...the fire...their archers. Hundreds will die.
    Stannis: Thousands.
  • Wham Line: "Forgive me." When he says this to Shireen, it becomes clear that he has decided to sacrifice her.
  • Where Is Your X Now?: Said "Where is your god now?" as he's strangling Melisandre for supposedly bullshitting him about his "great victory" at King's Landing. She responds, "Inside you", and he releases her.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Stannis is very frank; as exemplified by his stern objection to Robert being called "my beloved brother" in a missive, and by the confession of his adultery to his wife.
  • With Us or Against Us:
    Stannis: The Iron Throne is mine. By right. All those that deny that are my foes.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: He decides to take Selyse and Shireen with him, given that many Watchers are convicted rapists. This is probably a nod to his book counterpart, who has rapists castrated.
  • The Worf Effect: Stannis is frequently talked up as one of the finest tacticians in Westeros, and the prospect of fighting him is always treated as a serious threat. Despite this, the on-screen battles he's personally commanded have all ended in his total defeat. While he came close to winning in Blackwater, the Battle of Winterfell was an utterly underwhelming Curb-Stomp Battle in favor of the Boltons.
  • Worthy Opponent: Ever so slightly with Mance Rayder. He accepts Mance's slightly ominous offer of good luck with a wry smile and a small nod, before burning him at the stake for being both a wildling and a Night's Watch deserter. Stannis genuinely wants the man (not just the King beyond the Wall) to accept his offer to kneel and live.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Thanks to Adaptational Villainy, though given that the girl in question is Melisandre the evil quotient of it is debatable.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Has Shireen burnt.
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne: Varys considers him to be this, admitting that his claim to the throne is the best but that he can literally imagine nothing worse (and remember, he is currently enduring Joffrey's reign) than Stannis sitting on the iron throne, not due to his principles but due to his reliance on (and service to) the dark arts, this ultimately is a major Foreshadowing speech, as Stannis goes on to become a Fallen Hero who loses his honor, his dignity, his family and ultimately his life.
  • Younger Than They Look: In Season 3, as a consequence of Melisandre taking his life force to make her shadow-child.
  • Your Cheating Heart: He sleeps with Melisandre once because of the promise of a son. He tried his best to resist her, even bringing up that he has a wife albeit one he's not particularly fond of, but his desire for a healthy male child overwhelmed him. And then there's Melisandre's creepy-as-hell magical powers. And that bod. After his defeat at the Blackwater, he tells her he still desires her, but he does later regretfully confess to his wife Selyse about his infidelity... only to be discomfited by the easy "forgiveness" on Selyse's part.

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