The characters on Game of Thrones are multidimensional and ever-changing, but what happens when we categorize them by… beauty and goodness? That’s the really odd challenge that The New York Times recently gave to its readers. It asked fans to set aside the fact that Game of Thrones subverts traditional definitions of “good” and “bad” at every turn, and ignore that the majority of the show’s performers, as required by their line of work, are pretty much all above average-looking. But trying to distill seven years of story into a hot-or-not contest had one intriguing side effect: it revealed how audiences correlate being good with being attractive.
Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones.
As of this writing, 92,216 people have eagerly voted on the poll, deciding that Daenerys is the best-looking character, while the Night King looks like something that crawled out of the sewers. Daenerys’ vicious, fire-breathing dragons burning and sacking cities must have only briefly crossed these people’s minds, as she only had a few points docked on the goodness scale. She’s not as “good” as Jon Snow, for instance, who primarily only kills the undead. (People also consider him pretty good-looking, too. Maybe the scene where he’s laying down butt naked helped him win points here.)
On the beauty axis, I was personally disappointed by Robb Stark’s score, with voters rating him below the likes of Jaime Lannister. I’m sure people have just forgotten what he looked like by now, because if we’re really going to rate the Game of Thrones gang by their looks, Robb Stark would have been a clear winner, even if he was a dead one.
Beyond the poll’s surface-level silliness, however, it also appears to reveal some insights into how audiences correlate the ideas of “goodness” and beauty. Moral ambiguity seems to translate into mild ugliness, regardless of how the actor playing the role objectively looks. Both Theon Greyjoy and Bronn were rated on the “ugly” side, for example, despite the fact that the actors themselves are anything but. Littlefinger, played by the suave Aidan Gillen, merely eked over the “beautiful” baseline — no doubt losing points for being a child predator and sly manipulator.
The quality of his character appears to have had such an impact that fans voted Littlefinger almost as ugly as Ramsay Bolton and Joffrey…