Rolling Stone ranks the top 40 (5) 'Game of Thrones' characters

The strongest story arcs. The best one-liners. The most shocking demises. Whether they win or die, whether they're hero or villain or (like most people on this show) somewhere in between, each character on Game of Thrones can employ an entire arsenal of factors to win the game that matters most: the battle for being crowned the series' best character. As David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' smash-hit fantasy saga returns to HBO for its fourth season this weekend, we've ranked its 40 most memorable characters from worst to best. In a cast so sprawling that some kings didn't even make the cut (also: sorry, Hodor, we still love you!), who is the one true king or queen?

40 - Walder Frey
Ranking the lowest of the low at the bottom of the list? Maybe that's cheating — you know, kinda like inviting people to a wedding and then murdering them at the reception. After all, plenty of Game of Thrones villains are damn good players, and are recognized as such. But gods damn it, Walder Frey was the architect of the Red Wedding — and someone has to pay.

39 - Catelyn Stark
The show's one major-character misstep, the Stark matriarch spent most of her screentime ineffectually fretting for her family. She possesses a backbone of steel in George R.R. Martin's books that somehow got melted down in the adaptation — at least until her bone-chilling final scene. (Hey, I guess Walder Frey's good for something after all!) lol damn

20 - Davos Seaworth
Why is this smuggler-turned-noble so loyal to the deeply unlikeable Stannis Baratheon? Because Stannis is the guy responsible for the "turned." The Onion Knight's such a stand-up guy that he makes his continued allegiance to the man who killed his own brother with a shadow demon — and cost Davos' son his life — feel not like a quid pro quo, but just what any decent person would do.

4 - Sansa Stark (this post is dedicated to aryastarkx btw)
If a Disney princess had night terrors, the story of Sansa Stark might be what woke her up screaming. Often overlooked in favor of her killer kid sister, the elder Stark sibling has had all her illusions about the world, and her safety in it, shattered. But her quiet, innate political shrewdness and emotional strength have enabled her to survive in a royal court that likely would have cost every other member of her family their heads. She's the show's best-kept secret.

1 - Daenerys Targaryen
She's the heir to a powerful, fucked-up family with even more powerful and fucked-up enemies. Her story is a non-stop confrontation with complex ideas about sex, war, gender, race, politics, and morality. She's played by an actor who went from unknown to star overnight. Oh, and she's a fireproof messiah with a trio of flying nuclear dinosaurs at her disposal. The Mother of Dragons is the human embodiment of everything that makes Game of Thrones great. Bow down.

who are your faves, house ontd?