I was shaking when Jon smashed in Ramsay Bolton’s face in episode 9 of Game of Thrones. It felt like nourishing revenge for years of plotting, abuse and thoughtless sausage-consumption. Smirk about that, you glass-eyed prick. But when Ramsay’s hounds gnawed off his flesh, I began to worry. Who’s left to take his place?
Simply put: loads of people. There’s a plump crop of horrible shits who could easily step into Ramsay’s bastardy boots for season 7. Some people on this list are obvious - thanks finale! - but others would require a significant heel turn. Just remember, this is Game of Thrones. You can’t trust anyone.
Cersei and Jaime Lannister
Cersei has become a more sympathetic character after the walk of shame, but she rediscovered her edge in the season finale. That’s a genteel way of saying she blew the everliving fuck out of King’s Landing, and left her murdering zombie henchmen to do feral things to a helpless nun. Shame. Jaime, on the other hand, is still a literal knight in shining armour, but we saw his dark side in the recent scene with Edmure Tully. He’s obsessed with Cersei. The same compulsion that made him push Bran out of a window - remember that? - could take him to some dark places. Whether they’ll still be allies after Cersei accidentally killed yet another one of their illegitimate children is a another matter altogether.
Chance of bastardry: high for Cersei, medium for Jaime
Littlefinger has been playing people off each other since season 1, and we’re finally closer to understanding his motivations. He wants to sit on the Iron Throne, and he wants Sansa. Creepy. As a nakedly-untrustworthy, musketeer-faced deviant, he’s dangerous ally for the Starks to have, and the Battle of the Bastards put him in a position of frightening power - at Winterfell, with Sansa, and the knights of The Vale at his command. Jon may be King in the North - meaning Littlefinger has lost the title of Warden promised to him by Cersei - but there’s no way he’ll settle for being horrid little Robin Arryn’s babysitter.
Chance of bastardry: high
Ellaria started off the right kind of angry. The Lannisters were responsible for the death of her paramour’s sister, in the most brutal and disgusting way imaginable. Then, her lover’s head got squashed like a ripe plum, and things started to go wrong. Her desire for revenge led to the murder of Doran Martell, and made an otherwise interesting character furiously one-dimensional. At the moment she’s in an alliance with Olenna Tyrell - who it’s impossible not to love - but there’s nothing trustworthy about Ellaria. Definitely one to watch.
Chance of bastardy: moderate
The Night King
It’s time for the Night King to step up. He’s spent ages drifting about like an evil snowflake - the White Walkers reached The Wall in season 1, then turned around, for some reason - so we need to see him actually reach Westeros. The trouble is, he’s quite hard to hate. Despising the Night King is like being angry at time. He’s blandly inevitable. Yes, he’ll kill everyone eventually, but he doesn’t have any motivation because he’s not capable of betrayal, spite or cruelty - all key traits for the most hated baddies in Game of Thrones. I’m not saying I’d want to invite him to a summer barbecue - he probably wouldn’t come anyway - but at least you know where you stand with the Night King. Under his icy boot. Dead. Soon to be resurrected.
Chance of bastardry: very high, but in a boring way
Ooh, he’s a big bastard. Possibly the biggest bastard on this list. He killed his brother. He raped his brother’s wife. He cuts out tongues. He tried to kill his niece and nephew. He’s also a legitimate threat, because he has the Iron Fleet and, in the books, a secret magic horn for confusing dragons. This wouldn’t be too bad if he was fighting a land battle, but it’s unclear if Dani’s navy is big enough to confront him. More worryingly, he’s likely to intercept Dani on her way to Westeros, which could scupper her intervention, empower Euron, and keep us waiting another season for her return. Please no. Imagine the worst the Iron Islands has to offer, and then add dragons. Yes, it’s that bad. He’s also a) got a terrible beard b) an annoying accent and c) isn’t Victarion, who we’ll never get to see. Get in the literal sea, Euron.
Chance of bastardry: very high
We’ll finish with a curveball. Dani has always been seen as the saviour of Westeros. At every turn, the Breaker of Chains has chosen the most just outcome. We’ve recently seen that peace through power remains her ultimate goal, but she does show the occasional flicker of Targaryen fire. We’ve also heard whispers of her being a conqueror, not a liberator. Try to look at it from another perspective - as far as Westeros is concerned, she’s a foreign invader with a barbarian horde, a kingslayer, a disgraced spymaster and dragons - it’s hardly a heroic introduction. There’s a chance that her obsession with reclaiming her birthright may cloud her otherwise impeccable sense of justice, and that she might enter a sexy power struggle with her hidden nephew Jon: a classic Game of Thrones twist that would scupper any hopes of them becoming a powerful (if slightly-related) couple. After six seasons of supporting her, it would be an amazing shock if she ended up being evil. Do I actually want that to happen? Not at chance.
Chance of bastardry: low, but what a twist!