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Villain Overview
Ramsay: You forgot to ask one question! You forgot to ask me if I'm a liar! I'm afraid, I am. Everything I told you is a lie. This isn't happening to you for a reason, well one reason: I enjoy it!
Theon: Please! Please cut it off, cut it off!
Ramsay: I win.
~ Ramsay while and after sadistically torturing Theon Greyjoy as part of a twisted game; his most infamous quote.
Ramsay. Snow, my wife called me before she ate her fingers, but I say Bolton.
~ Ramsay reveals his identity to Theon Greyjoy.
If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention.
~ Ramsay Bolton to Theon Greyjoy.

Ramsay Bolton, formerly known as "Ramsay Snow" and sometimes called "The Bastard of Bolton", is one of the main antagonists in the Song of Ice and Fire novels, as well as Game of Thrones, the HBO series based on the books. He serves as a supporting antagonist in Season 3, one of the secondary antagonists of Season 4, the main antagonist of Season 5, and one of the two main antagonists of Season 6 (along with the High Sparrow). In A Song of Ice and Fire, he serves as a minor antagonist in A Clash of Kings before returning to become one of the two main antagonists (alongside Roose Bolton) in A Dance with Dragons. He is set to be one of the main antagonists in the upcoming sequel The Winds of Winter.

Ramsay is widely regarded as being one of the most evil and repulsive villains in the series, who some consider to be worse than King Joffrey Baratheon. His character first appears during the second book, imprisoned by Bran Stark and freed by Theon Greyjoy. However he was cut from the second season and his role in Winterfell was taken by another character, Dagmer Cleftjaw, who's also in the books, but never betrays Theon. Ramsay indirectly appears in season 2, blowing the horn repeatedly to annoy and scare the ironborn.

In the HBO adaptation, he was portrayed by Iwan Rheon, who also plays Ash Weston in Vicious, and Maximus in Marvel's Inhumans.

Personality

His blood is bad. He needs to be leeched. The leeches suck away the bad blood, all the rage and pain. No man can think so full of anger. Ramsay, though … his tainted blood would poison even leeches, I fear....
~ Roose about Ramsay.
The Boltons have always been as cruel as they are cunning, but this one seems a beast in human skin.
~ Robett Glover about Ramsay Bolton.

Throughout both incarnations, Ramsay is a monstrous, savage, psychotic, brutal, and ruthless sadist who casually commits disgusting, horrific acts, such as rape and torture for his own amusement with no regard for anyone and thus ends up angering his father, Roose for his reckless killing of people and lack of political tact. He considers himself a true Bolton despite his birth and is highly resentful of his baseborn status, referring to himself proudly as the trueborn scion of the Dreadfort and violently correcting those who refer to him otherwise. Even though he is not a true Bolton, Ramsay follows many of their traditions and customs, more specifically their insignia of flaying men alive and wearing their skin as coats.

Typical of a psychopath, Ramsay is outwardly unapologetic and completely remorseless to the countless men and women he tortures and kills. Ramsay's hobbies and many enjoyments are sadistic to the extreme and he revels in the violence, misery and death he causes and also treats the prospect of hunting, killing and torturing innocent people as a sport. His idea of a game generally include having young women stripped naked then released into the Bolton forests, before hunting them with a pack of feral dogs. He also gives quick deaths to women who give him good sport (after raping them first), then flays their corpses and name his dogs after the women he enjoys killing most to "honor" them; the women who do not give him good sport however are raped and then flayed alive and the skins of his kills are brought back with him to the Dreadfort as gruesome trophies and the flayed bodies of the woman are fed to his dogs. Ramsay has no care over this however and is simply a game to him.

While Ramsay can be cunning and a good manipulator, he's also not good at intricate politics and doesn't understand the risks of the consequences of his wild actions. Roose Bolton is annoyed by his behavior and tries to encourage him to keep the North a quiet and peaceful land. Roose confides to Theon that he doesn't trust Ramsay at all, and he's aware about the possibility of his son killing him, if his enemies don't do it first. In the TV series version this proves to be correct, as the second Maester Wolkan announced to Roose, Ramsay, and Lord Karstark that he and Walda have bred a son, because he was constantly reminded that despite his legitimacy he was still a bastard and knew that if Roose ever had a trueborn son the North would never be his, Ramsay's paranoia overwhelms him and he kills his father, Walda and newborn brother and unofficially becomes Warden of the North. In the novels, Roose always wear chainmail armour on his person at all times to avoid that kind of death. Robett Glover has described Ramsay to Davos Seaworth as being a beast in human skin because of the unspeakable cruelty he can easily unleash without any a second hesitation.

In the HBO television adaption, Ramsay has shown to have more care about receiving love, respect and affection from his father while murdering, kidnapping and raping. Ramsay has shown to be insecure about his relationship with his father and Roose did little to help this, repeatedly reminding his son of his bastard status and threatening to disown him constantly. However, Ramsay is not presented as being any less of a monster because of this. He shamelessly admits that he tortures solely on the basis that he enjoys it and is the walking embodiment of cruelty, brutality and battlefield violence.

Unlike his book counterpart, Ramsay has been properly trained in combat, while in the novels, he fights wildly but never received sword training, as his first servant Reek wasn't a good fighter himself.

No matter the version, Ramsay is a walking embodiment of cruelty and sadism, and the embodiment of pure evil. He rivals monsters such as Gregor Clegane, Joffrey Baratheon, Rorge and Euron Greyjoy for the title of the worst of the worst. He enjoys torturing people in the worst possible ways, such as flaying them alive, hunting people (especially women), and is a serial killer and serial rapist who delights in how much pain he brings to others.

In the TV series, Ramsay is shown to be more resigned to his bastard status, to the point he refers to himself as a Snow and takes pride to sign himself as the natural son of Roose Bolton; however, this doesn't make him less frustrated when reminded of it. When he is legitimized as "Ramsay Bolton", he is clearly overwhelmed to the point that he almost cries with joy and gets on his knees to solemnly promise his father that he will live up to his family name and traditions and not fail him. However, deep inside of him, Ramsay is still wary of his origins, knowing that he may be disinherited if a trueborn son is born to Roose. Ramsay is also shown to be jealous of Jon Snow, a fellow Northern bastard who was raised and loved by his father along with his trueborn sons and eventually rose to become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Ramsay's jealousy of Jon is so strong that he expresses a willingness to kill Jon if the chance comes, though at the same time appears disturbed when he hears that Jon may come after him with a wildling army. Following the birth of Roose and Walda's son, despite Roose not outright disinheriting him, Ramsay's fear and paranoia are so great that he murders his entire family and usurps his father's position, not caring about the reprehensible act of kinslaying.

Trivia

  • Ramsay proved to be such an evil character that even his own actor Iwan Rheon said in an interview that he wanted Ramsay to die a slow and painful death.
    • In addition, Rheon was greatly disturbed by the infamous scene where Bolton rapes Sansa Stark to the point the script was altered several times, and even so the scene was still infamous.
  • In the TV series version the letter talking about Stannis' defeat in season 6 is actually true, as Stannis died at the end of the fifth season, unlike in the novels. Jon Snow replaces Stannis in the battle of Winterfell in the sixth season. Also the show runners tell the book readers to not worry about spoilers, as they admit they changed most of the storyline.
    • Actually, in the TV series, Ramsay sends a similar letter to Jon Snow, but cutting off the part with Stannis' defeat and replacing it with Rickon's capture. Also, in Game of Thrones, Snow receives the letter after leaving the Night's Watch and when "Ramsay's bride" (Sansa Stark in this case) is actually with him.
  • Ramsay has been accused of being a Villain Sue by some viewers, due to his constant success, even to the point that he succeeds in crippling Stannis' war effort with 20 men. This is in contrast with Book Ramsay, who though evil is frequently shown to be quite incompetent and a poor fighter.
  • Ramsay in the show is quite different in appearance to his book counterpart. In the books Ramsay is unattractive, with pink blotchy skin, round shoulders, thick lips and long dark dry hair. According to Theon, Ramsay will get fat through the future years.
  • In the TV series Ramsay has Lord Medger Cerwyn flayed alive, along with his wife and brother, for refusing to pay the taxes and being loyal to House Stark. After Cley Cerwyn is forced to watch them being flayed, he pays his taxes. In the book version Medger Cerwyn is wounded fighting the Lannisters during the Battle of the Green Fork and dies later in Harrenhal; Cley is killed by the Boltons during the Battle of Winterfell and Jonelle Cerwyn is the current head and Lady of Cerwyn and she supports the Boltons against Stannis Baratheon, while Cerwyn survivor soldiers joined with Stannis's army.
  • In the first appearance of Ramsay, the Dreadfort's master torturer he killed calls him a "little bastard" which could be a hint of his true identity.

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