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Villain Overview

My enemies have made my kingdom bleed. I will not forget that. I will not forgive that. I will punish them with any arms at my disposal.
~ Stannis to Davos Seaworth during "Mhysa".
If a man knows what he is and remains true to himself, the choice is no choice at all. He must fulfill his destiny and become who he is meant to be, however much he may hate it.
~ Stannis to his daughter Shireen, just before sacrificing her.

Stannis Baratheon is a major antagonist in the A Song of Ice and Fire book series and its TV adaptation Game of Thrones. He is the head of House Baratheon of Dragonstone, Lord of Dragonstone, Master of Ships on Robert's Small Council, younger brother of King Robert I Baratheon, and older brother of Lord Renly Baratheon. Stannis is married to Lady Selyse Florent and has one daughter, Shireen.

He is one of the initial triggers for the chain of events leading to the War of the Five Kings, as he is the first to suspect the true parentage of Cersei Lannister's children. Stannis never intended to cause harm and death beyond those he deemed guilty, though this includes Cersei's children, and is willing to facilitate harsh punishments.

Despite fighting for justice and the laws of the realm, he often tragically ends up being generally regarded as the villain and his actions have indirectly caused the deaths of potential allies. As matters escalate, Stannis comes into deeper conflict with his moral compass and what it means to be king, resorting to more drastic and ruthless methods.

He is the central antagonist of A Clash of Kings, a supporting antagonist in A Storm of Swords and a supporting character in A Dance with Dragons. In the television adaptation, Game of Thrones, he is the central antagonist of the second season, and a major antagonist from the third to the fifth season.

In the TV series, he was portrayed by Stephen Dillane, who also plays Alan Blunt in Alex Rider (Amazon Prime).


I have felt from the beginning that Stannis was a greater danger than all the others combined.
~ Tywin Lannister, to Tyrion Lannister
In truth, the young lord commander and her king had more in common than either one would ever be willing to admit. Stannis had been a younger son living in the shadow of his elder brother, just as Jon Snow, bastard-born, had always been eclipsed by his trueborn sibling, the fallen hero men had called the Young Wolf. Both men were unbelievers by nature, mistrustful, suspicious. The only gods they truly worshipped were honor and duty.
~ Melisandre's personal thoughts about Stannis and Jon Snow.

Stannis is utterly unlike his two brothers: he is not considered as handsome and charismatic as Renly or as a younger Robert. He is in his thirties at the beginning of the main story, but he is described as looking older than Robert, suffering from premature hair loss and looking like an old man. He is a stern grim man obsessed with duty and principles, he never smiles and does not enjoy parties. He has got none of his brothers' social skills and, unlike Robert, he never acts out of impulse, but only after a long time of reflection, as he is a strategic and calculating man.

A stubborn, unforgiving and serious man, Stannis never speaks with gentleness, neither dissembles nor flatters, as he always want to say what he thinks. He is obsessed with slights both real and imagined causing him to grind his teeth regularly. Stannis is an accomplished commander, sailor, and warrior, although his personality hinders his ascension to being a truly great leader. He has said to know the military strength of every house in Westeros. Even Lord Tywin Lannister respects him and considers him an enemy not to be taken lightly.

While he is respected and feared, he has never been loved, or had the affection of nobles or smallfolk, due to him being utterly without mercy most of the time. He is the least popular of the Baratheon brothers. People in Westeros dread having him at command because of this merciless sense of justice, and even his brothers can barely stomach him. Stannis dislikes Robert and Renly and never got along with them since they were kids. He was considered a difficult child even by his parents, who never managed to make him laugh, and always preferred to stay alone and reserved.

He’s a proud man, often obsessing about himself and complaining about his rights to everyone, lacking passion, easy to annoy, and rarely forgives others, preferring to kill his enemies. Despite being rather unlikable as a person he proves to be a very complex man who claims to dislike what he forces himself to do. He believes that a “good act” does not wash out the bad, nor the bad the good, and that each one should have it’s own reward. He also can’t stand lies and courtesies, and wants to hear the hard truths, preferring to tell and hear things like they really are. He can't stand his own lords and dislikes smiling people with colorful dresses and whores. In fact he doesn't allow the presence of whores at Dragonstone, not even in the island's fishing villages. During his feasts he forbids loud laughter and raucous shouting.

Stannis has a cold relationship with his wife, Selyse. Theirs is a loveless marriage, and the two have little patience for each other. Stannis was always uncomfortable around women, even his wife. He barely visited her, doing his duty in the marriage bed once or twice a year, taking no joy in it. Selyse is an unfriendly frigid woman who looks down at everyone and is completely obedient to her husband and always tries to please him, but she barely gets any recognition for it. She lives to serve him and her god. Stannis and Selyse have only one surviving daughter, Shireen, a sad and homely little girl who is disfigured as a consequence of contracting greyscale in her infancy. Stannis loved his daughter dearly, unlike Selyse. Davos Seaworth is one of Stannis' most loyal servants.

Villainous Actions

  • Had his brother Renly assassinated (though as Renly clearly intended to kill Stannis it is debatable how villainous this was.)
  • Had Cortnay Penrose assassinated (though he refused to surrender Storm's End to Stannis).
  • Allowed the destruction and burning of sacred religious places, like the sept of Dragonstone and the godswood of Storm's End. Also wanted to burn the godswood of Winterfell.
  • Did not punish Selyse and Melisandre for burning alive non-believers that Stannis had imprisoned, like Guncer Sunglass. Guncer Sunglass also refused to support Stannis' claim to the throne anymore.
  • Allowed Melisandre to burn many non-believers alive including his own brother-in-law Axell Florent in the TV series. In the books he burns his uncle-in-law Alester Florent, although that was due to treason rather than religious belief.
  • Burned Rattleshirt in the books, though Rattleshirt is a notoriously vile Wildling raider. Also in the books, Stannis burned three starving soldiers of House Peasebury for eating the body of a deceased person and a fourth Peasebury soldier was killed before he could be burned. Stannis himself considered cannibalism during the siege of Storm's End.
  • Tried to sacrifice his illegitimate nephew Gendry/Edric Storm in an attempt to gain more power with the Stone Dragons of Dragonstone (though he is very conflicted over this in the books).
  • Had Mance Rayder burned alive after he refused to kneel. In the novels Mance was executed for being a deserter of the Night's Watch, however he is still alive in the books, because the Lord of Bones "Rattleshirt" was glamoured by Melisandre to appear as Mance.
  • Burned his beloved daughter Shireen alive to improve the weather and ensure his victory against the Boltons (Show only)
  • Threatened Cersei's children in the books: "For such crimes there must be justice. Starting with Cersei and her abominations. But only starting. I mean to scour that court clean. As Robert should have done after the Trident." At the time, Tommen was only about eight years old and Myrcella was about nine years old.

Because of the different and lower standards of morality of this universe, Stannis can agree with the execution of harmless people and innocent children if he considers it necessary, righteous, or lawful. It is said that Robert sent him to "deal" with the children Viserys Targaryen and Daenerys Targaryen and Robert is known for being cowardly when it comes to face matters of morality and cruelty against the weak. After he lost the Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis was seriously considering Ser Axell's plan to use Salladhor Saan's fleet to destroy, burn, and plunder the riches and food provisions of the entire Claw Isle as well as putting every single inhabitant to the sword, including old people and children as a retaliation against Lord Ardrian Celtigar, who changed side with Joffrey to survive when he was captured, and to show Tywin Lannister that Stannis wasn't done with his war yet. Eventually Stannis backed down when he was reminded by Davos that most of the warriors of the isle fought and died for him and admitted that Axell's plan was nothing but an evil thing that would make him look worse than Joffrey. Stannis later admitted that he was only thinking about his personal rights and forgot that a true king is supposed to protect his people, not just punish them and making himself feared by everyone. Ultimately, Stannis is driven by his sense of duty and what he thinks is right according to the law, no matter how morally questionable it is.


  • In the TV series Stannis's more negative character traits from the novels were made more prominent than his positive traits, causing the character to be viewed in a more negative light by the Game of Thrones fandom than the A Song of Ice and Fire readers. Many of his character's aspects, such as his faith in the Lord of Light, were changed from the novels and earned the ire of many fans.
  • In the novels Stannis is the last surviving king out of the original five and he is one of the actual four living kings, the others being Tommen Baratheon, Euron Greyjoy, and Aegon Targaryen. In the TV series Stannis dies before Balon Greyjoy, who was alive until Season 6 despite his book counterpart died before the Red Wedding.
  • Many show fans who supported Stannis throughout the seasons immediately turned against him after he murdered Shireen. However, many fans were more angry with the writers for changing so much about the character.
  • Book readers were more shocked about Stannis's death, rather than Jon's. Stannis is still alive in the novels, while Jon's death had already been written years ago, and it was also implied he would return to life. George R. R. Martin said he means to end the battle against the Boltons soon at the very begin of the sixth book, thus meaning the Battle of Ice will be with Stannis against the Boltons, and Roose and Ramsay might die at his hands. In the TV series, Roose is killed by Ramsay at the begin of the sixth season while the TV show writers are kept Ramsay alive and gave Stannis's battle plot to Jon Snow. The battle has been kept for the 9th episode of season 6, where House Bolton has been finally defeated. In the book version, Jon might remain at Castle Black since he has no reason to head south if Stannis is fighting the Boltons with the northerners on his side.
  • George R. R. Martin confirmed that Stannis is still alive in his novels. The TV series version confirmed that he is dead. Martin has particularly stressed this status difference with Stannis more than once.
  • Stannis's storyline in the novels ended with a cliffhanger and it is only known that he is waiting for Roose Bolton's vanguard and made major progress in terms of alliances and strategy. According to George R.R. Martin A Dance with Dragons covered less story than intended the Battle of Ice (the fight between Stannis and the Boltons), and the Battle of Fire (the fight against Daenerys Targaryen and the Slaver Alliance) had been removed from the 5th installment when George wanted to put at least one of the battles, instead the book ended with cliffhangers, Kevan Lannister's death, and winter starting. Martin intends to resolve these 2 battle storylines "very early", as he said The Winds of Winter will begin with these two big battles. What will happen with Stannis's character is completely unknown and there are only confused visions and theories for speculation about his fate. George explained how he warned the readers for 20 years that "winter was coming"and that winter means dark things, sadness, and a lot of cruel deaths. According to Martin: "There are a lot of dark chapters right now ... I’ve been telling you for 20 years that winter was coming. Winter is the time when things die, and cold and ice and darkness fill the world, so this is not going to be the happy feel-good that people may be hoping for. Some of the characters [are] in very dark places." The book will be a lot darker than the previous ones and it will take the readers in the north most coldest parts of the world, where the Others live.
  • On the day April 25, 2016, George R.R. Martin revealed in an interview that his upcoming book The Winds of Winter contains a critical development that Game of Thrones can't use: in fact a plot twist will involve a character who's already dead in the TV series. Fans believe it to be Stannis Baratheon, Mance Rayder, Selyse Florent, Jeyne Westerling, Aegon "Young Griff" Targaryen, or Barristan Selmy. Most fans think it will be Stannis, due to many theories of the story and visions from Daenerys Targaryen and also because Martin seems to like his character better than the show directors (though he said he likes all of his characters even Joffrey). However GRRM said it will be a character who didn't get much attention in the books and show, thus making unlikely it will be Stannis, who's a major character of the series.
  • In an interview with Amazon UK, George R.R. Martin states that Stannis, in spite of his many sins, is ultimately "a righteous man".

External links


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Beyond the Wall
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Mance Rayder | Tormund Giantsbane | Styr | Rattleshirt | Orell | Craster | Varamyr Sixskins | Harma Dogshead | The Weeper | Ygritte

Night's Watch
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The Others
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The North
House Bolton
Roose Bolton | Ramsay Bolton | Locke | Myranda | Bastard's Girls | Reek | Smalljon Umber

House Karstark
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House Whitehill
Gryff Whitehill | Ludd Whitehill

The Vale of Arryn
House Arryn
Lysa Arryn | Mandon Moore | Mord | Lyn Corbray | Petyr Baelish

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Brotherhood without Banners
Lady Stoneheart

Chett | Garse Goodbrook | Harys Haigh | Leslyn Haigh | Shagwell

Iron Islands
House Greyjoy
Balon Greyjoy | Euron Greyjoy | Theon Greyjoy | Dagmer Cleftjaw | Lorren

House Hoare
Harren Hoare

House Lannister
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House Clegane
Gregor Clegane | Sandor Clegane | Polliver | Rafford | The Tickler | Mountain's Men

Mad Targaryens
Aegon II Targaryen | Aegon IV Targaryen | Aemond Targaryen | Aerys II Targaryen | Aerion Targaryen | Baelor I Targaryen | Boros Blount | Daemon Targaryen | Maegor I Targaryen | Rhaenyra Targaryen | Viserys Targaryen | Daenerys Targaryen

House Blackfyre
Daemon I Blackfyre

House Kettleblack
Osfryd Kettleblack | Osmund Kettleblack | Osney Kettleblack

Faith Militant
High Sparrow | Septa Unella | Lancel Lannister

Hugh Hammer | Smiling Knight | Ulf the White

House Baratheon of Storm's End
Robert I Baratheon | Renly Baratheon | Joffrey Baratheon | Meryn Trant

House Baratheon of Dragonstone
Stannis Baratheon | Melisandre | Richard Horpe | Clayton Suggs | Shadow Assassins

The Reach
House Florent
Axell Florent | Selyse Florent

Mace Tyrell | Pycelle | Qyburn | Randyll Tarly

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Dothraki Sea
Drogo | Mago | Moro | Qotho | Viserion | Wine Merchant

Mirri Maz Duur

Slaver's Bay
Hizdahr zo Loraq | Kraznys mo Nakloz | Malko | Old Empire of Ghis | Oznak zo Pahl | Prendahl na Ghezn | Razdal mo Eraz | Reznak mo Reznak | Sons of the Harpy | Vala

The Pureborn | Pyat Pree | Xaro Xhoan Daxos

Far East Essos
Yi Ti
Bloodstone Emperor | Lo Bu

Asshai and Shadow Lands
Melisandre | Shadow Assassins | Viserion

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