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Ensemble Darkhorse / A Song of Ice and Fire

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  • George R. R. Martin has stated that he is surprised by the popularity of Sandor Clegane. Apparently Martin didn't get the memo that badass antiheroes with cool scars and tragic pasts are in. Especially when his interaction with a pretty young POV character of a Fallen Princess just oozes Bodyguard Crush and Beast and Beauty vibes. Despite being the biggest definition of a Jerkass Woobie (with emphasis on the Jerkass part) Sandor's sympathetic backstory and moments of kindness definitely help him, as well as being a prime badass.

  • The North:
    • Wyman Manderly, the Lord of White Harbor, was essentially a background character whenever he appeared in the first four books. However, in the fifth book he reveals himself to be plotting revenge for the crimes against the North and house Stark and looking to restore a Stark to power in the North. He has three members of the treacherous House Frey baked into pies and served to their kinsmen at a wedding. This action undoubtedly elevated him to Darkhorse status.
      • Wylla, his green-haired granddaughter. Passionately and vocally loyal to the Starks, and opposed to the Frey-Bolton regime, unlike seemingly everyone in her family.
    • Hodor Hodor Hodor. Gentle Giant - possibly the nicest in the series - and also very powerful, what's not to love?
    • Dacey Mormont, who, despite having relatively little screentime and a paragraph's worth of dialogue in A Storm of Swords, gets a lot of fan love for her Action Girl status as a Mormont and for her Undying Loyalty to Robb Stark. Possibly also in sympathy for her being rejected for a dance and her subsequent brutal death at the hands of Freys in the Red Wedding, though a Frey she wounds died during the battle.
      • Her younger sister Alysanne, for being The Squadette, Mama Bear, and striking an unlikely friendship of sorts with fellow EDH Asha Greyjoy.
      • Lyanna, the youngest Mormont sister, is this as well, despite not yet making an actual appearance. Famous hardass Stannis Baratheon writes to her requesting Bear Island's aid, what's her response? Simply write back "Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, who's name is STARK!" She's 11. This may have led to her getting an expanded role in the TV series.
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    • Roose and Ramsay Bolton are beloved by a part of the fandom for their Faux Affably Evil antics and general subterfuge, in addition to the conflict between their two styles of villainy, Roose being the ultimate example of Pragmatic Villainy and an extremely high-functioning Sociopath and Ramsay being Ax-Crazy Stupid Evil. House Bolton even has its own subreddit.
    • Big Bucket Wull, for being a badass Northern clan chief. His "Last Winter" speech to Corliss Penny and Robin Peasebury is quoted often.
    • Howland Reed, who has yet to appear, is pretty popular in fandom for being the liege lord of Unpopular Popular People that are actually deadly experts of guerrilla warfare who are making life an hell to the Ironborn invaders, and most of all for being allegedly the last living person who knows Jon Snow's parentage.
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    • Lyanna Stark, Ned's late sister, is almost universally adored for being a spirited, rebellious tomboy, and due to the rumors she willingly ran away from an arranged marriage and is Jon Snow's mother.
      • Her ancestor Lord Cregan Stark, for being a Rated M for Manly lord who became involved at the end of the Dance of Dragons and stabilized the realm largely through intimidation and patented Northern pragmatism, before going on to become a swordsman so good that one of the greatest knights of all time thought he was one of the best.
    • Alys Karstark, for being a bold and clever heiress escaping to avoid an arranged marriage and demonstrating enough respect and reverence to House Stark, despite her father's death at Robb's hand, to go to Jon for help.

  • The Wall and Beyond:
    • Dolorous Edd, Night's Watch steward and a tertiary character who counts with a facebook fan page. Always droll and dour, his frequent sarcasm and constant belief that he (and everyone else) are going to die at any moment provides some much-needed Gallows Humor. It helps that he's a decent bloke under it all.
    • Wun-Wun, the unusually sociable giant who grows fond of beer as he stays at castle black.
    • Iron Emmet, a skilled Night's Watch swordsman who instantly gets on well with Jon Snow, and goes from Lovable Jock to Cool Teacher to Commanding Coolness.
    • Leathers, a wildling warrior who joins the Night's Watch, quickly becoming a Sergeant Rock and one of Jon Snow's loyal followers.
    • Tormund Giantsbane, for being a hillariously bombastic wilding leader with a penchance for tall tales, who happens to be a pretty nice guy underneath it all.

  • The Riverlands:
    • Despite (or perhaps because of) his constant screw-ups and the Humiliation Conga he's forced to go through, Edmure is liked for both being just about the only lord in the series to actually care about his peasants, and putting up with constant verbal put-downs from his uncle, sister, and nephew.
    • Septon Meribald, a peasant soldier turned preacher, is well liked for explaining the effects of war on the peasantry, especially his "Broken Men" speech where he tells Brienne and Podrick how peasant soldiers end up as outlaws after being taken from their homes by their lords to fight in their wars and resorting to banditry to survive after they're abandoned with no hope of getting back home.
    • House Blackwood has a few fans due to being one of the few Houses in the south to worship the Old Gods, having quite a few historical members of note and its present lord being the last Stark holdout in the Riverlands to surrender after the Red Wedding.

  • The Iron Islands:
    • Asha Greyjoy, partially due to her Action Girl appeal, partially due to utterly Trolling the then-disliked Theon, and partially due to being one of the few ironmen that isn't Stupid Evil.
    • Rodrik Harlaw, for being a bookworm among a society which disdains literacy, for being one of the most intelligent characters in the series who sees the true cost of war, and speaking back to Euron Greyjoy despite knowing how dangerous they are, and helping his niece Asha escape Euron. Especially prominent as the Ironborn are in general quite disliked among the fandom, though Rodrik knows how impractical their culture is in trying to base itself on piracy.
    • Euron Greyjoy, The Crow's Eye, is one of the most popular antagonists due to his ethereal appearance, terrifying crew that consists of deformed mutes, cunning intellect and charisma, ambitious plan to take over Westeros and for his unapologetic cruelty that either rivals or surpasses the likes of Ramsay. The mystery around the character himself has been one of the hottest debates around the fandom for a while and his possible relation to the Others and the Long Night certainly doesn't hurt.

  • The Westerlands:
    • Nearly every minor Lannister, but most particularly Ser Daven, Ser Kevan and Lady Genna, is regarded with affection throughout the fandom.
    • One of Ser Jaime Lannister's squires, Josymn "Peck" Peckledon is also fondly regarded by some fans as a darker counterpart to Pod, namely because, whilst Pod is a hidden badass, Peck is just a straight up badass. His best exploit to date was at the Battle of the Blackwater, when, aged fifteen, he killed two knights, crippled a third and captured two more.
  • The Crownlands:
    • Bronn is virtually an Ascended Extra, starting off as one of a pair of sellswords who join a large crew of Red Shirts to escort Tyrion to the Eyrie. By the time his partner and most of the redshirts have died, Bronn has become Tyrion's badass bodyguard. He is immediately solidified as a badass by killing an armored knight in single combat despite being lightly armored himself. Then there's his continual rise in power; though modest compared to say, Littlefinger, it's very impressive (and amusing when he continues to be a thorn in Cersei's side). When he's not kicking ass, he's usually sharing witty banter with Tyrion, making him prime fodder for fandom.
    • Bloodraven also has a good deal of fan-following, right from his background mentions in "The Sworn Sword" but his appearance in A Dance With Dragons as a Humanoid Abomination who claims he has been manipulating events made him one of the most speculated and interesting figures in the series.
  • The Reach:
    • Garlan Tyrell, simply because he's a badass knight and a decent person. He's nice to Tyrion and does a minor case of calling Joffrey out on his behavior.
    • In a series full of characters that will see you killed for talking out of turn, it's little wonder Deadpan Snarker Olenna Tyrell should stand out from the crowd. It doesn't matter if you're king, queen, regent, lord, or priest, it won't take long to see why she's nicknamed the Queen of Thorns. She's also a first-rate Chessmaster. Plotted Joffrey's death with Littlefinger, wanted to help Sansa get to a safe place until she could be sent North to her mother and brother, and gets under Cersei's skin so much.

  • The Stormlands:
    • For a character designed to be an unlikeable Principles Zealot, Stannis Baratheon has a surprisingly zealous following among the fandom, due to his Comically Serious tendencies, his complete and total unwillingness to give up even against impossibly lopsided odds, and his status as the only contender to the throne who ultimately realizes there's more at stake than his right to rule.
      • In a series where nobody ever seems to make the right decision, Stannis is known for listening to well-liked characters who function as his voice of reason, such as Davos, Jon Snow and Asha Greyjoy, and admitting when he made mistakes, along with being one of the few figures in a position of power who takes the Night's Watch seriously.
      • For that matter, his daughter Shireen is also well-like for being essentially her father without all the bad qualities: a smart, kind Iron Woobie Wide-Eyed Idealist princess that loves her family and manages to melt the base's heart in every single scenes she appeared. Not to mention bringing out the much appreciate human side of her father.
    • Rolland Storm, the Bastard of Nightsong, oddly enough for a character whose most badass feats happen off page. However he helps save Stannis at the Blackwater, is a devout worshiper of the Warrior despite the influence of the Queen's Men, and helps Davos smuggle Edric off Dragonstone. Despite Dragonstone falling while he was its castellan, we hear the Tyrells suffered heavy losses and its still unknown what happened to Rolland. Many fans are hoping he somehow escaped and will eventually claim Nightsong from the guy who killed his brother.
    • Ser Cortnay Penrose, Renly's castellan at Storm's End, and a One-Scene Wonder in ACOK, is often fondly remembered by fans for refusing to surrender the castle to Stannis after hearing of Renly's supposed death, calling out all of Renly's former bannermen who went over to Stannis, challenging Stannis to single combat, and blaspheming Melisandre's god to her face, all in... Memorable fashion.
    Penrose: Is it the justice of your cause you doubt, my lord, or the strength of your arm? Are you afraid I’ll piss on your burning sword and put it out? ... May the Others bugger your lord of light, and wipe his arse with that rag you bear.... Bring on your storm... And recall, if you do, the name of this castle.

  • Dorne:
    • House Martell in general is very popular in the fandom, rivaling fan favorites like the Starks and Targaryens in popularity despite being, as of now, relatively uninvolved with the main plot.
      • Prince Oberyn Martell in particular manages this, despite the fact that he dies in the same book he's introduced, due in large part to his colorful backstory and witty banter with Tyrion. His badass duel with the Mountain definitely helped, since even though it got him killed, Gregor died far more painfully.
      • Ellaria Sand, Oberyn Martell's paramour, possibly due to her status as an Ethical Slut as well as being one of the few people to flag the fact that perpetuating the cycle of revenge against the Lannisters is only going to make the crapsack situation in Westeros worse and won't bring Elia, Aegon, Rhaenys, or Oberyn back from the dead.
      • Sarella Sand gained more popularity than her Sand Snakes sisters despite not appearing in the books. Or is she? If you believe the Sarella=Alleras theory which is likely the source of her popularity among fans.
      • Arianne Martell reached this status due to being an embodiment of female empowerment, and a foil to Cersei Lannister for realizing her flaws. Because of her absence and her storyline completely altered to Ellaria’s Revenge Before Reason in the show, many fans and TV critics believe that her presence could have made the Dorne arc much better than what the show presented. It helps that George R.R. Martin released another preview chapter for the upcoming sixth book two weeks after the controversial change in the Dorne arc in Season 6 premiere, from which many find Arianne to be a better character to represent the Dornish POV rather than Ellaria and the Sand Snakes.
    • Ashara Dayne only gets a few mentions but is still very well-liked. A popular fan theory is that she's actually alive and has been living in exile as Septa Lemore.
      • Like his sister, Ser Arthur Dayne is very popular, Ned describing them as the greatest of the Kingsguard and respecting them even though they almost killed him. He's also an in-universe Memetic Badass.
      • Averted with their relative Darkstar, an admitted attempt by Martin to write a new ensemble darkhorse, simulating Oberyn. Most fans didn't bite, due to his overly forced Draco in Leather Pants pretensions and bungled attempt to assassinate a likable little girl.

  • Beyond the Narrow Sea:
    • Strong Belwas is easily the most liked of all the characters in Dany's Meereeness arc, due to proving to be a rather badass fighter, Big Fun all around and inadvertently saving Dany from being poisoned after he eats a shit ton of locusts, which he manages to survive.

  • Littlefinger is arguably not a darkhorse given his very active role in engineering much of the series's plot, but he has developed quite a large fanbase who want him to succeed, despite arguably being a villain.
  • Syrio Forel and Jaqen H'ghar to the point that some readers insist that they're the same person. Syrio has memorable dialogue with Arya and a fantastic Last Stand where he one-ups Bronn by killing five fully armored knights armed with nothing but a wooden practice sword. Jaqen is an effective assassin that always speaks politely and serves as an incredible Establishing Character Moment for the Faceless Men.
  • Hot Pie receives a lot of fan love due to his ridiculous (nick)name and lovable cowardice, and for providing a view of how the War of the Five Kings affects the peasantry.
  • Steelshanks Walton also has a few fans, and so does Shitmouth (both are more or less bit characters that serve particularly evil masters but are decent people themselves).
  • Podrick Payne, Tyrion's squire, is widely loved in the fandom for his dorkinesss, shyness and the generally stoic way in which he bears the various indignities of being a minor character in this series. His Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass tendencies also help, with his two best moments in the series so far being pushing Ser Mandon Moore into the Blackwater to save Tyrion's life and distracting the Bloody Mummers so Brienne only has to fight one at the time.

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