Game of Thrones: 5 Ways Ned Was The Worst Stark (& 5 It Was Robb)
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Ned and Robb weren’t the smartest tools in the Game of Thrones box. Which of them – father or son – is the worst Stark?
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Aegon never vanquished the North. King Torrhen Stark chose to bend the knee rather than fight Aegon Targaryen, and that is how house Stark became the Wardens of the North and their leader, its lord paramount. That was the legacy of House Stark, the protectors of the North.
They were supposed to ensure that the Northerners are safe above all else, a legacy both Robb and Eddard Stark forgot. Starks could fight, but they never went to war unless they were sure to win it, which is why Robert’s Rebellion was a success. Robb and Ned started a war with an unfamiliar foe and lost the North for the first time in the Eight Millenia of the Game of Thrones. So who was the worst of the two?
10 Ned: Beheading The Night’s Watch Deserter
Will was the Night’s Watch deserter that was captured in Winterfell after he met White Walkers beyond the wall. It was a crime to desert the Night’s Watch because it meant that one had broken their oath, but with the threat of White Walkers, the man really deserved to be listened to, not have his head chopped off.
Eddard Stark was supposed to be one of the most merciful men in the Seven Kingdoms, except this time, he wasn’t. Being a strong supporter of the Night’s Watch, he was keener of the oaths of the order than the real threat at hand. Listening to Will would have allowed Winterfell to focus on fighting the Night King sooner, preventing all those deaths.
9 Robb: Marrying Talisa
Love is a powerful thing, but when you are a king that risks losing thousands of Frey soldiers in the middle of a war, surely marriage can wait. Starks are known not to break promises, and after promising Black Walder that he would marry his daughter, Robb should have meant his words.
Walder was a bad man, but he was a Northerner who respected loyalty. If Robb held off on marrying Talisa until after the war when he had promised to marry Walder’s daughter, the Freys would have fought for him until the end, and he wouldn’t have died at the Red Wedding.
8 Ned: Trusting Littlefinger
Arya Stark getting to cut Littlefinger’s throat was one of the most interesting instances of justice in Game of Thrones. Littlefinger was behind all the woes that faced House Stark from the day Robert came to Winterfell to the day Ramsay raped Sansa. Most of that harm would have been avoided if Ned had wisened up to Baelish’s plan earlier than he did.
He placed the fate of Winterfell in the hands of a man whose endgame he didn’t know. Ned also ignored the fact that Littlefinger was put on Robert’s small council for his services to House Lannister and that he had nothing to gain by fighting for House Stark.
7 Robb: Killing Rickard Kastark
“The man that passes the sentence should also swing the sword,” are Ned’s words that Robb held onto when killing Rickard Kastark. Kastark was wrong to kill prisoners of war, but it is not like he wasn’t justified to do so. He wasn’t the only man breaking the rules of war anyway; the Lannisters were doing it too.
The only crime Rickard was guilty of was speaking harshly to Robb, and he didn’t deserve to die for that. Beheading him was stupid of Robb, and it cost him his life and the North. It also made Kastarks the toughest enemy Jon Snow would have to face in the Battle of the Bastards.
6 Ned: Confronting Cersei
“Your mercy killed Robert.” Lord Varys told Ned when he told him about confronting Cersei regarding the paternity of her children. Once he realized that Jon Arryn died for looking into that same issue, he should have known better than dangle it around Cersei without a plan.
He effectively broke with the North’s history of not fighting a war they can’t win when he started a battle with the Lannisters on their own turf where he was hugely outnumbered. He put his entire house in danger, especially Sansa and Arya, who were right there in King’s Landing.
5 Robb: Trusting Ramsay Bolton
The Boltons turned on Robb on the day he left them in charge of Harrenhall. Robb was too trusting of the Northmen, though, and didn’t notice when his most trusted generals switched sides. When he took Ramsay Bolton on his offer of retaking Winterfell from Theon in his name, it was the peak on negligence by the Young Wolf.
Winterfell was his home, and when your home is attacked, you do not send the bastard of your general to take it back; you do it yourself. Robb obviously didn’t attach as much weight to the importance of Winterfell as he should have.
4 Ned: Bringing His Daughters To King’s Landing
Rickard Stark, Eddard’s father, and Brandon Stark, his elder brother, were summoned to King’s Landing by the Mad King and burned alive. In Winterfell, everyone knew that bad things happen when the crown summons the Lord of The North to King’s Landing, and Ned should have known better.
He brought two innocent children with him and started a battle with the Lannisters without ensuring their safety first. When things got out of hand, both children were exposed to the worst of horrors and nearly died at the hands of the Lannisters.
3 Robb: Trusting The Greyjoys
Balon Greyjoy had a history of breaking vows and not allying with anyone. His stubbornness was the reason why Ned Stark took Theon Greyjoy as a prisoner of war and later, as his ward, to ensure that Balon never rose against the crown again.
Balon hated the Starks for that, and Robb knew it, which is why he always reminded Theon that he was not a Stark. In The War of the Five Kings, Balon rose to fight once more, declaring himself a king. Theon was also weak and easily swayed. Robb still entrusted the fate of the North with these two men leading to the horror that came with it.
2 Ned: Confessing To Treason
Ned still had lots of plays up his sleeve even after being arrested but trusting someone in King’s Landing was not an option. When he decided to take the Stark route and be honorable in a mud fight, he should have kept it up to the end.
The Lannisters had him where they wanted him, and it was time for him to bring out at least one Ned-Stark trick, but he just went down like a sheep. As a wolf, he should have stood his ground and at least waited for Robb and Catelyn’s plans to work, but he didn’t. His confession and shameful death was the beginning of the end for House Stark.
1 Robb: Trusting Walder Frey
Walder was probably the most heartless man in Game of Thrones if you don’t count Gregor Clegane, of course. He didn’t care about his many wives and daughters, and his desire to get recognized by the great houses was just too extreme. When Robb failed to keep his promise of marrying his daughter, Walder recalled all the Freys from the battle.
Robb should have known by then that Walder didn’t care about their blood relations anymore. It was stupid of him to bring all his trusted men to the Red Wedding and, worst of all, his pregnant wife.