The character ages has been a big question since the beginning of the series as it differs significantly from George R.R. Martin's books. As with most shows, the actors age faster than the characters with many eventually being quite a lot older than their characters by the end of the show, and this was especially obvious in the case of the teenage actors. While far from the biggest problem ' later seasons faced, this phenomenon did create some confusion and inconsistency with regard to how old each character was supposed to be.
Matters surrounding the character ages were complicated further by certain fan favorites varying considerably in age compared to their original book counterparts. Despite being a fantasy story, the 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. By the , it was hard to determine how old each of the main characters was meant to be and how it compared to their book counterparts.
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Beginning his quest into manhood by joining the Night's Watch, Jon Snow is 16 when 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 while Harington was 33 years old by the time the show ended. With Harington's age and the many experiences Jon Snow faced over the course of the series, including dying and being resurrected, he seemed older.
Jon actually has one of the smaller age differences compared to the books, as he is 14 at the beginning of the story. However, even that small difference helps to accept Jon's petulant attitude in the early seasons.
The relative character ages of Daenerys Targaryen closely mirror those of Jon Snow. Although she is 13 in the novels when she is married off to Khal Drogo, the show rightfully saw the problematic nature of depicting such a young character in those situations in the early seasons. She was aged up to be 16 in the series which didn't take away from the impact of her journey.
Daenerys would then be 23 when she is killed by Jon Snow in the finale and . However, the younger age might have made her eventual dark turn more tragic. Like her costar Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke was 25 when debuted and was 33 years old when the show ended.
Tyrion's age is one of the more confounding among the character ages because he is confirmed to be the youngest of the Lannister children, but Peter Dinklage is older than both Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. In the show, he is depicted as being 32 years old at the start of and nearing 40 when the show ended.
On the other hand, Peter Dinklage was 42 years old when the series began and 50 by the time it was over. To further complicate Tyrion's age, his book counterpart is 24 at the beginning of the story, making for one of the more substantial age differences. However, Dinklage's older stature gives Tyrion a sense of experience and wisdom.
The younger ages of the Stark children is perhaps best felt with the character of Robb Stark. While all the Starks are forced to grow up quickly following the death of their father, Robb is meant to only be 16 years old in when he leads the Northern armies and cements himself as a brilliant battle commander.
More shockingly, Robb is only 14 in the books. At 25 when the show began, Richard Madden was more convincing as a military leader. However, thinking how young makes it even more heartbreaking.
The ages of the Stark children in made for some of the most noticeable age differences in the series. As is often the case with TV shows with young child casts, like , the young actors soon appear far too old to be playing their supposedly young characters. However, though hard to overlook, the aging didn't impact the younger Stark children too badly.
Sansa is 13 when the series begins and 20 when it ends, while Sophie Turner went from age 15 to age 23 over the course of the production. Arya Stark is 11 at the start of the show and 18 by the finale, with Maisie Williams going from 14 to 22. Bran is one year younger than Arya, meaning he becomes King at age 17 while Isaac Hempstead Wright was the youngest of the three actors, only 12 years old at the start of the series and 20 by its final season.
These ages all differ from their book counterparts, as Sansa was 11, Arya was 9, and Bran was 7 when the story began. While those younger ages give the characters a greater sense of innocence that is gradually shattered, given what each of these three characters goes through over the course of the series, the fact that they seem so much older by the end seems fitting.
When he's first introduced as an adoptive son of the Stark family, he is around the same age as Jon and Robb, making Theon Greyjoy 16 or 17 years old. Theon is 24 years old when he dies in the Battle of Winterfell. Actor Alfie Allen was nearly a decade older when he started on the show at the age of 25.
In George R.R. Martin's books, Theon Greyjoy is actually older than his on-screen counterpart as he starts at around 18 or 19 years old. This rare age difference is actually beneficial in the show, as Theon's younger age in the early seasons feeds into his misguided attempts to prove himself as a man and a warrior.
As the Lannister twins, Jaime and Cersei are both 36 when kicks off, reaching 43 by the final season when they die together under the Red Keep. Jaime and Cersei's ages are some of the least problematic of the character ages, with Lena Headey being only two years older than her character while Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was 41 when the series began and 49 in its final season.
The book counterparts of the Lannister twins were several years younger at the age of 31 when the story began. Interestingly, the book plays more into their older age than the show, with Cersei obsessing over her fading beauty and Jaime realizing he is not the warrior he once was.
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 , 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 when he is 14. Dean-Charles Chapman's age was not that far off from his character's while on , as he was 16 during filming. Tommen is 6 years old in the books and his young age is referenced repeatedly when he becomes king as he is described as being bored and crying while on the Iron Throne.
Even with Ned & Catelyn Stark aged up from their original character ages, producers still hired slightly older characters, perhaps to amplify the duo's defining parental qualities. Ned Stark is 34 in the books, but Sean Bean was over 50 when playing the character in season 1. As a way of explaining this, Ned Stark is made to be 41 in the show.
Catelyn's age is known to be close to Ned's as she is 33 in the first book, while the show also keeps their age close, and i n the show Catelyn Stark is 40. Since Michelle Fairley is younger than Bean, her age more accurately represents her character as she was 48 at the beginning of the series. This is likely the most effective instance of characters being aged up in the series. While Ned and Catelyn are strong and stoic characters in the books, it is hard to imagine the characters coming off as impactful as Bean and Fairley did if they were younger.
Arguably one of the best villains in , Joffrey is surprisingly young for such a devious troublemaker in Martin's books — a mere 12 years old. On-screen, Joffrey is a bit older, beginning season 1 at 16 and dying around age 20. Like the other young actors, Jack Gleeson was a few years older than Joffrey when portraying the young Lannister king.
Unlike the Stark children and the Arya Stark age conundrum, however, Joffrey's spoiled personality and immaturity may lead viewers to believe the character is actually younger than intended. The younger age in the book while also giving him more sympathy when he dies at such a young age.
Jorah Mormont is another one of the rare cases in which the ages of the character in the show and in the book align. When Jorah joins Danaerys' services in the first season of the show, as well as at the beginning of the books, he is a seasoned warrior at the age of 44.
Given the time he lived in Westeros and his years as a sellsword in Essos, his age suggests a low life already lived, while also making his love for Daenerys more uncomfortable. Actor Iain Glen was 50 years old at the beginning of the show, adding to the more grizzled feel of Jorah while being able to convincingly play a younger man.
Thanks to his ragged appearance and facial scarring, 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. Thankfully, Björnsson's imposing physique sells the age dynamic well enough.
Margaery Tyrell is introduced in season 2 of , but it is season 3 when she begins to establish herself as an intelligent player of the "game" and a formidable opponent for Cersei Lannister. Margaery is depicted as being 18 in the show when she is introduced, adding to the threat Cersei feels from the younger would-be queen.
Actor Natalie Dormer was more than a decade older than the age of her character when she took the role at the age of 29. Margaery's book counterpart is only 14 when she is introduced. However, the books are also not quite as effective at depicting her as a true political mastermind and, therefore the older age in the show fits better with this depiction.
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 , but it's hard to tell whether he's just spinning a yarn to court favor with others. Baelish is 29 in the novels, but Littlefinger is 36 in the show, still younger than Catelyn Stark, the woman he always loved. Actor Aiden Gillen was 43 when he stepped into the role. The age increase adds both to Littlefinger's sinister nature and the creepiness of his relationship with Sansa.
Davos Seaworth, or "the Onion Knight," is one of the most age-accurate of the characters ages in terms of the actor playing them. A rare combination of wise and moral, Ser Davos is 49 when first serving as Stannis Baratheon's right-hand man and 56 when serving as Master of Ships to King Bran.
The Onion Knight's age closely mirrors the age of the actor, Liam Cunningham, who was 51 when he joined in the second season. However, when it comes to the book age, Davis is actually one of the least accurate characters. Davos is 37 in the novels, but Cunningham's age brings a world-weary yet experienced aspect to the character, and these qualities especially work when Davos becomes Jon's closest advisor.
Despite how Jon Snow often looks after him like a younger brother, Samwell Tarly is actually one of the characters who is older than Jon. Sam begins on the cusp of adulthood at 17 and winds 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 books make Jon and Sam the same age at 14 when the story begins, but the show is still able to maintain that feeling that they are peers.
The ages of most characters can at least be guessed at and approximated, and the rest tend to be magical beings with inhuman life spans. Varys, in terms of character ages, is an oddity on both accounts — and it's almost impossible to pin down how old the mysterious eunuch is. The only clue to Varys' age is that of actor Conleth Hill, who was 47 years old when he started his run as the character. Given how enigmatic and secretive Varys is, it is fitting that the character likes to keep people guessing whether he is a wise older man, or a swifter younger one.
Brienne of Tarth represents one of the biggest age jumps from book to TV show, with the original version of the character's age being 17 years old at the start of . This means that, despite being one of Westeros' greatest fighters, Brienne isn't even at her physical peak in Martin's narrative.
In HBO's , Brienne's age is brought closer to Gwendoline Christie, who was 34 when she joined season 2. Brienne is 32 during her first appearance and 39 at the Battle of Winterfell. Though the younger age in the book makes her a truly impressive warrior, the older and more capable Brienne works well for the show.
Most onlookers would probably put Melisandre at around 40, that is until she takes her jewelry off. In terms of character ages, 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 the Red Witch is over 100 years old. Benioff & Weiss went even further by claiming she's been around for "." 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 ' Night King.
The Night King serves as ' 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 of the characters at around 10,000 years old, and was probably immortal. 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.
Stannis Baratheon's only child, Shireen Baratheon, faced a horrendous early death, and it's probably the most tragic one out of all the characters. First introduced in season 3, Shireen dies when she's just nine years old. saw Melisandre asking for a sacrifice to the Lord of Light.
Drunk with ambition, Stannis offers his own daughter to be burned at the stake. It's a cruel end for one of the youngest of characters, something that audiences don't soon forget. Shireen is actually older in the books at the age of 11, but that likely won't lessen in impact of her death once it is covered in the later books.
Though Stannis Baratheon was a rigid and effective leader, murdering his daughter Shireen instantly made him one of the most despised characters on the show. It is interesting to consider how the perception of him might change based on his intended age. Stannis is depicted as being 40 when he is introduced in the second season of the show while actor Stephen Dillane was considerably older at 55.
Given that he is killed by Brienne in season 5, he could be anywhere between 43-45 at the time. However, he is a younger man in the series at the age of 33, but it is another instance of an older take on the character being the more effective route for the show to take.
Khal Drogo was one of the few character ages that wasn't changed. The leader of the Dothraki fleet Khal Drogo is supposed to be around 30 years old in and was depicted as such in . In the novels, Dany is supposed to be 14 when they wed. Presumably, Dany was aged up in the series to make this pairing more palatable.
Since Drogo died in season 1, he was the same age during his death as he was at the start of the series. Jason Momoa played the Dothraki leader and was roughly the same age as his character, being 32 when the show premiered.
Daario Naharis is a sellsword who aligns himself with Daenerys, becoming her advisor, enforcer, and at one point, her lover. Naharis was supposed to be 30 in the books but was aged up to about 37 for season 3 when he first appears. By the time he is left behind as ruler of Mereen in Daenerys' name in season 7, he is roughly 41 years old. Ed Skrein, who played Naharis in season 3, was 30 years old when he embodied the character. In turn, Michiel Huisman, who took over as Naharis from season 4 onward, was 33 when season 4 came out.
The dragons on are the easier ages to determine as the audience sees them being born and watches them age across the 8 seasons. In , Daenerys has three dragons: Viserion, Rhaegal, and Drogon. Viserion was the first dragon casualty of the series when he is killed by an ice spear courtesy of the Night King in season 7.
At the time of his death, Viserion would've been around six years old. Rhaegal was the next to go after the Battle of Winterfell in season 8, being about seven years old at the time of his death. Drogon, on the other hand, outlived Daenerys, last seen in the finale carrying her body to an unknown location. Dragons are capable of living hundreds of years in the universe, and Drogon was still a baby when the series ended, around 7 years old.