This month Game of Thrones returns for its final season, so this is a good time to take a look back at some of the best armor featured on the show. Now, I’m not an expert on armor or a medieval scholar, so I’m judging based on design, how it relates to a character/house, and pretty much how good it looks on whoever is wearing it. Multiple characters wear similar suits of armor on the show, and in those cases I picked my favorite amongst the bunch. Keep in mind I’m not ranking the characters themselves. Also, Kahl Drogo is one of the best fighters on the show, but I’m not considering his leather cummerbund as armor.
Alright, are we ready? Here are the armor clad warriors of Westeros and beyond who kick ass and look good doing it.
10. Vardis Egen (Knight of the Vale – House Arryn)
Unless you recently re-watched Game of Thrones, you may have forgotten about Ser Vardis. Way back in season one he fought Bronn in a trial by combat. Vardis looks like a knight from a different series, noble and sturdy. The pointed pattern on the armor keeps it from looking bland, and the closed helmet is a classic knight look, topped off with a single comb (which resembles a medieval Mohawk). None of that saved Vardis from Bronn though; the poor guy ended up taking a long fall down the Moon Door.
09. Jamie Lannister (Kingsguard – House Baratheon)
The Kingsguard of House Baratheon are mostly ceremonial. By the time the series begins, the kingdom is relatively peaceful, so shiny gold armor is in vogue at the capital. The color can look sort of gaudy and pompous, but it’s also unique and daring. The guy wearing gold armor is just asking for someone to challenge him, and the white cape adds superhero flair. Jaime looks like the ideal knight in shining armor, albeit one who sleeps with his sister on the side.
08. “The Sword of the Morning” Arthur Dayne (Kingsguard – House Targaryen)
We don’t see much of the Kingsguard that existed prior to the events of the series, but we do get a glimpse of legendary swordsman Arthur Dayne. The Kingsguard armor he wears is the plainest armor on this list, but there are two attributes that help it stand out. First, we have the three-headed dragon of House Targaryen ornamenting the breastplate. It’s one of the fiercest house sigils, and it must have been an intimidating sight for the rebel faction. Second, we have a triple comb atop the helm to match the three heads of the dragon. Simple and effective.
07. Yara Greyjoy (Ironborn – House Greyjoy)
The Greyjoys are the pirates of Westeros, and this rust colored armor is a perfect look for them. The kraken sigil is a blur of black tentacles, and the thick metal bands coming over the shoulders remind me of Dragon Ball Z’s Saiyan armor (which I love). Yara’s cloak adds that extra renegade effect. This armor looks beat up, salt stained, and like it will last another 100 years.
06. Tywin Lannister (Hand of the King – House Lannister)
Tywin Lannister is a commanding presence on Game of Thrones, and the regal Lannister armor fits his persona. With a lion on each shoulder (they’re called “pauldrons”) and a crimson breastplate complimenting the gold, Tywin exudes gravitas. The matching helmet is a little silly, but that’s easily forgivable. Add a red sash thrown over the shoulder and Tywin lives up to his status as the most powerful man in Westeros.
05. Jon Snow (Lord Commander – Night’s Watch)
Jon Snow makes a joke in the pilot episode saying that black always was his color. It’s true. Jon manages to look both gloomy and menacing as Lord Commander. The climate is brutally cold at The Wall, and the black leather covered by matching dark shoulder fur makes the Night’s Watch members resemble shaggy, walking beasts. There’s not much variation to the color scheme, and that’s okay. The Night’s Watch look like reapers of death, which is ironic considering their history of fighting the undead.
04. Daario Naharis (Second Sons Commander – House Targaryen)
I labeled this as House Targaryen armor due to Daario Naharis’s loyalty to Daenerys Targaryen, but there’s nothing official about it. I love how the armor Daario wears appears to be something he cobbled together while working his way up through the fighting pits. The oversized pauldrons cover tattered cloth and chainmail. The flashes of red underneath it all match Daario’s flashy personality. This worn in, beat up look sends the message that Daario has survived many fights, and if you challenge him, he’ll probably kill you before you realize the fight has started.
03. “The Young Wolf” Robb Stark (The King in the North – House Stark)
I’m sure some would argue that Jon Snow looks better as King in the North, but I think Jon is best in black, and we don’t need Jon making two appearances on this list. Robb Stark makes for a dashing young king in his House Stark armor. Though the design is similar to Jon’s Night’s Watch armor, the earth tones, dark cape, and reddish-brown animal pelt sell the idea that Robb and his men could sneak into a Lannister camp for a surprise attack (which happens in season two). Robb’s armor is kingly without being pretentious, worn by a warrior-king the common soldiers could appreciate. Also, I dig the X crossing the upper chest of anyone wearing winter armor (see also: Jon Snow, Davos Seaworth).
02. “The Red Viper” Oberyn Martell (House Martell)
Before Oberyn Martell’s fight against The Mountain, Tyrion chides Oberyn by saying, “You could at least wear a helmet!” Oberyn’s armor is minimal, and the odds of it defending against anything more than a glancing blow are low. But Oberyn doesn’t move like a typical Westerosi combatant. The copper, scaly armor fits Oberyn like a second skin so that he could dart and strike like a snake. This attractive armor keeps Oberyn lithe, and it compliments his svelte frame. It may not be heavy duty, but some of the best warriors on Game of Thrones – including the resilient Bronn – know that with armor, sometimes less is more.
01. “The Blackfish” Brynden Tully (House Tully)
I don’t think I fully appreciated the costume design on Game of Thrones before I saw Blackfish Tully. He’s the impetus for this article. The House Tully sigil is a leaping trout, so the Tully men adorn themselves with scaly armor that would appear ridiculous if it wasn’t so damn cool. The scales aren’t merely painted on; they’re individual geometric shapes that flare out and give the armor a satisfying, tactile look. A trout isn’t a dangerous animal, but somehow this armor makes dressing like a fish look imposing. Oh, and here’s a nice detail – the Tully sigil is a silver trout, but given his nickname, the Blackfish wears his black trout proudly.