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Movie Reviews

Game Of Thrones: How Old Each Character Is Supposed To Be

How old are all the main characters in HBO’s Game of Thrones? The final season of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ A Song of Ice & Fire adaptation might have left a sour taste in the mouths of many, but Game of Thrones remains one of the most significant television undertakings in history. Built on the strength of a stellar ensemble cast, audiences quickly became invested in the lives of the Lannisters, Starks, and Targaryens, and followed them until either the show ended or the character met a grisly end. Most likely the latter.

Because real-time passed faster than the events of the series, the Game of Thrones cast often play figures younger than themselves, and this was especially obvious in the case of the teenage actors. While far from the biggest problem Game of Thrones‘ later seasons faced, this phenomenon did create some confusion and inconsistency with regard to how old each character was supposed to be.

Related: Game Of Thrones Season 8 Dragonglass Plot Hole Explained

Matters were complicated further by certain fan favorites varying considerably in age compared to their original book counterparts. Despite being a fantasy story, the Game of Thrones world heavily draws from 15th-century history, and this was a time when people married, fought, reproduced, and died at a much younger age than they do now. Here are all the intended ages of the characters in Game of Thrones, based on character descriptions, dialogue references, information from the books, and the GoT in-show timeline.

A classic case of actors playing younger, Kit Harington’s Jon Snow is 16 when Game of Thrones begins. Around 7 years pass over the course of the TV series, which means Jon would be in his mid-20s by the time of the series finale, which the now-33-year-old Harington can just about get away with. Clearly, knowing nothing and saying “I don’t want it” isn’t good for the skin. Jon in Martin’s original books is a couple of years younger still.

The relative ages of Daenerys Targaryen closely mirror those of Jon Snow. Although Emilia Clarke’s character in the novels was 13 at the story’s beginning, the Mad Queen is aged by a few years in order to make her romantic and naked exploits less creepy. Daenerys Targaryen is the same age as Jon in the Game of Thrones series, give or take a few months, and this matches the actor and actress, with Clarke born only 2 months before Harington.

Tyrion’s age is one of the more confounding among Game of Thrones‘ leading cast members because the character is confirmed to be the youngest of the Lannister children, but Peter Dinklage is older than both Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Adding an extra layer of complication, Tyrion on-screen is around 6-8 years older than his literary counterpart. By the end of Game of Thrones, Tyrion is nearing 40, but Dinklage himself is virtually a full decade older.

Related: Game Of Thrones: Why The Original Daenerys Actor Was Recast

With puberty stubbornly refusing to accommodate TV production schedules, the ages of the various Stark children are a little more flexible than most on Game of Thrones. Sansa is 13 when the series begins and 20 when it ends, Arya is 11 at the start and 18 at the end, and Bran is one year younger than Arya.

Many characters were aged up or down from their book counterparts for Game of Thrones, and Theon Greyjoy is no different. When he’s first introduced as an adoptive son of the Stark family, he is around the same age as Jon and Robb, making him 16 or 17 years old. By the end of his time on the show, he is 24 years old. In George R.R. Martin’s books, Theon Greyjoy is actually older than his on-screen doppelgänger. In turn, he starts A Song of Ice and Fire at around 18 or 19 years old. Alfie Allen was 33 in real life by Game of Thrones‘ ending.

Both Jaime and Cersei Lannister are 35/36 as the Game of Thrones kicks off, reaching 43 by the final season and presumably enjoying extravagant 40th birthday parties in between incestuous romps and repelling angry Northerners. Jaime and Cersei’s ages are some of the least problematic on Game of Thrones, with Lena Headey very close to her character’s age and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau looking younger than his years.

Tommen Baratheon is a Baratheon in name alone, as he’s technically the illegitimate son of Jaime and Cersei Lannister. Tommen has one of the saddest arcs on Game of Thrones, becoming the king at a very young age and then committing suicide after his wife Margaery Tyrell is killed by his mother. In the books, he is only 8 years old when he becomes king and is married off to Margaery. In the series, he starts off as 8 years old, and then Tommen kills himself when he is 14. Dean-Charles Chapman’s age was not that far off from his character’s while on GoT, as he was 16 during filming.

Related: Every Character That Was Recast In Game Of Thrones (& Why)

Even with Ned & Catelyn Stark aged up from their original A Song of Ice & Fire characters, producers still hired slightly older characters, perhaps to amplify the duo’s defining parental qualities. Ned is in his mid-30s in the books, but Sean Bean was over 50 when playing the character in Game of Thrones season 1. Live-action Ned is supposedly 40/41, making Bean’s casting a little more believable. Catelyn’s age is somewhat ambiguous, but she was born roughly around the same time as Ned in the books, and nothing suggests otherwise on TV. Since Michelle Fairley is younger than Bean, her age more accurately represents her character.

Arguably the best villain in Game of Thrones (although Ramsay Bolton runs him close), Joffrey is surprisingly young for such a devious troublemaker in Martin’s books — a mere 12 years old. On-screen, Joffrey is quite a bit older, beginning season 1 at 16 and dying around the 20 mark. Like the other young actors, Jack Gleeson was a few years older than Joffrey when portraying the young Lannister king. Unlike the Stark children, however, Joffrey’s spoiled personality and immaturity may lead viewers to believe the character is actually younger than intended.

Thanks to his ragged appearance and facial scarring, Game of Thrones fans might be surprised to know that Sandor Clegane, aka the Hound, is only 35 or so when the series begins, aging to around 42 over the course of the story. His brother Gregor Clegane, aka the Mountain, is 5 years older than his brother, starting out the series at 40 or so. In the books, the Hound is supposed to be around 27 or 28, whereas the Mountain is 35. Funnily enough, Rory McCann, who plays Sandor, is around 20 years older than Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who played Gregor from season 4 onward, when he’s supposed to be his younger brother.

The whole point of Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish as a character is that no one can ever quite tell when the man is telling the truth, and this extends to his own age. Littlefinger references his childhood on Game of Thrones, but it’s hard to tell whether he’s just spinning a yarn to court favor with others. Baelish is 30 in the novels, give or take a year, but is likely a little older on TV to bring him in line with Catelyn, who he desired throughout his life.

Related: House Of The Dragon’s Otto Hightower Has A Serious Littlefinger Problem

Davos Seaworth, or “the Onion Knight,” is one of the most age-accurate characters on Game of Thrones in terms of the actor playing them. A rare combination of wise and moral, Davos is 49 when first serving as Stannis Baratheon’s right-hand man and 56 when serving as Master of Ships to King Bran, which closely mirrors the age of the actor, Liam Cunningham. Davos’ age in the books is trickier to pin down.

Although everyone’s favorite step-dad and apprentice maester often lingers in the shadow of his heroic best friend, Samwell Tarly is actually a touch older than Jon Snow, beginning Game of Thrones on the cusp of adulthood at 17/18 and winding up around 25 years old by the final episode. John Bradley, the actor behind Samwell, is 5 years older than his character in Westeros, but the difference is barely noticeable.

The ages of most Game of Thrones characters can at least be guessed at and approximated, and the rest tend to be magical beings with inhuman life spans. Varys is an oddity on both accounts, and it’s almost impossible to pin a number on the notoriously shifty schemer. The only clue to Varys’ age is that of actor, Conleth Hill, who was in his late forties when he started his run as the character. Given how enigmatic and secretive Varys is, however, he could be considerably older.

Brienne of Tarth represents one of the biggest age jumps from book to TV show, with the original version of the character a mere 17-years-old at the start of A Song of Ice & Fire. Scarily, this means she isn’t even at her physical peak in Martin’s narrative. In HBO’s Game of Thrones, Brienne’s age is brought closer to Gwendoline Christie, who portrays the loyal knight on TV. Brienne is 32 during her first appearance and 39 at the Battle of Winterfell.

Related: Game Of Thrones: Why Brienne’s Ending Betrayed Her Duty To Sansa

Most onlookers would probably put Melisandre at a good-looking 40… until she takes her jewelry off. Like Varys, Melisandre’s age is left deliberately vague in order to maintain the aura of mystery surrounding the character, but actress, Carice van Houten, has confirmed that her Red Witch is over 100 years old, with Benioff & Weiss going further by claiming she’s been around for “several centuries.” More specific details about Melisandre’s anti-aging regime are yet to be unearthed, but she’s most likely the oldest character in the show except for Game of Thrones‘ Night King.

The Night King serves as Game of Thrones‘ ultimate antagonist and Big Bad of the whole series. Created by the Children of the Forest during the Wars of the First Men, the Night King was said to be one of the first Lord Commanders of the Night’s Watch before being turned. Since he was born during the Age of Heroes, the Night King is the oldest on Game of Thrones, being clocked around 10,000 years old, and was probably immortal. Though not noticeable due to heavy prosthetics, the Night King went through a recast in the series between seasons 5 and 6, with actor Vladimír Furdík taking on the role for the final seasons.

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