Cersei Lannister, Sansa Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Arya Stark and Jon Snow of "Game of Thrones." (Mordi Levi/For The Washington Post)

Life is hard in Westeros and Essos, the fictional continents in “Game of Thrones.” Severed heads, severed hands, torture by rat, death by dragon fire, crushed skulls: You name it, some poor soul has endured it.

Why we spend our Sunday nights bearing witness to these atrocities is anyone’s guess. But in honor of the start of Season 6 tonight, here’s a look at some of the most tormented characters, all they’ve suffered and whether their futures might be rosier. (Spoiler alert: Probably not. This is “Game of Thrones” after all.)

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)

Sansa Stark of "Game of Thrones.” (Mordi Levi/For The Washington Post)


The prissy elder daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark.


Witnessed her father’s public beheading by order of her sociopath fiance, Joffrey Baratheon.

Held captive in King’s Landing, where her father’s head remained on a spike along Traitor’s Walk.

Dumped by Joffrey, then married off to his uncle, the alcoholic womanizing “imp” Tyrion Lannister.

Nearly raped by a crowd of angry peasants.

Discovered that her mother and brother were murdered and that it was orchestrated by her father-in-law.

Kissed by a skeevy brothel owner.

Nearly killed by her loony aunt.

Married off to the most sadistic man in the “Game of Thrones” universe, Ramsay Bolton.

Given away at her wedding by Theon Greyjoy, the man she thought killed her two younger brothers.

Presented with the flayed remains of an old servant who tried to help her.

Imprisoned in her former home and routinely raped and tortured.


Yes! Finally. Last time we saw Sansa, she was jumping off a very tall wall at Winterfell alongside Theon. Apparently they survived the fall, since Sansa shows up in the trailer for Season 6.

“This season is a really, really big one for Sansa,” Turner said during the Screen Actors Guild Awards. “It’s probably her best season yet. It’s her really coming into her own. She, this season, really commands the respect that she deserves and she grabs hold of it and she runs with it and it’s really good.”

We can only hope that means revenge in the form of Ramsay’s head on a spike.

Daenerys Targaryen
(Emilia Clarke)

Daenerys Targaryen of "Game of Thrones.” (Mordi Levi/For The Washington Post)


The orphaned heir to the overthrown “Mad King’s” throne and the mother of dragons.


Lost her father before she was born.

Lost her mother shortly after she was born.

Beaten and molested by her older brother, Viserys.

Married off to a bodybuilder who didn’t speak her language, Khal Drogo of the Dothraki.

Watched her husband murder her brother by pouring molten gold on his head.

Nearly murdered by a hired assassin.

Gave birth to a stillborn baby.

Forced to smother her brain-dead husband with a pillow.

Nearly murdered by a warlock who stole her baby dragons.

Nearly murdered by a child with a poisonous, scorpion-like monster.

Failed to train her dragons when they were small, so she lost control of them when they grew.

Forced to imprison two of her dragons — a particularly ironic tragedy, considering Daenerys gained power by freeing slaves.

Lost her right-hand man, Ser Barristan Selmy, during an attack by men wearing gold masks known as the Sons of the Harpy.

Nearly murdered by Sons of the Harpy.

Captured by Dothraki warriors.


It might get worse before it does. The trailer shows Dany looking scared and very prisoner-like as she’s marched through a desert. Of course, one of her dragons, Drogon, does have a tendency to show up just at the right time.

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)

Tyrion Lannister of "Game of Thrones." (Mordi Levi/For The Washington Post)


The crafty, quick-witted son of Tywin Lannister.


Lost his mother during childbirth, which earned him the lifelong hatred of his father.

Berated continually by pretty much everyone for his small stature.

Found out that his first wife was just a prostitute hired by his brother.

Falsely accused of attempting to murder Bran Stark and imprisoned in the world’s scariest prison cell — a ledge sloping toward a 600-foot drop-off.

Wounded during the Battle of the Blackwater, leaving him with a massive facial scar.

Forced to marry Sansa Stark.

Forced to dump his girlfriend, Shae, for her own safety.

Publicly ridiculed by his nephew, King Joffrey.

Falsely accused of murdering Joffrey and imprisoned.

Sentenced to death after a farce of a trial.

Discovered that Shae was having an affair with his father.

Nearly killed by zombie-like attackers.

Nearly castrated by a slave trader.

Nearly killed by Sons of the Harpy.


Tyrion seems to be enjoying a rare moment of security, holding down the fort in Meereen while Jorah Mormont and crew try to track down Daenerys.

Arya Stark
(Maisie Williams)

Arya Stark of "Game of Thrones." (Mordi Levi/For The Washington Post)


The wily younger daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark.


Lost her friend, the butcher’s son Mycah, who was put to death for dubious reasons.

Lost her beloved sword-fighting instructor, Syrio.

Stood in the crowd duringher father’s bloody, public execution.

Imprisoned at Harrenhal, where she witnessed quite possibly the worst way to die: rats clawing and gnawing their way through a man’s chest.

Held hostage by a group of mystics.

Lost her only friend, Gendry, who was kidnapped by a witch.

Kidnapped by the Hound, the scarred giant who killed Mycah.

Witnessed her brother’s corpse, wearing the head of his direwolf, be paraded around the Riverlands.

Forced— mostly willingly — into servitude by a cult leader.

Assaulted by the Faceless Men’s mean waif.

Blinded for defying the Many-Faced God.


Possibly. “Arya is being more physical again, but she’s blind,” Williams told Entertainment Weekly a few weeks ago. “So her training has progressed even more, but it’s on a more physical level and a more technical level because she’s lost her eyes.”

Maybe she’ll use those new skills to cross a few more names off her kill list.

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)

Cersei Lannister of "Game of Thrones." (Mordi Levi/For The Washington Post)


The bitter daughter of Tywin Lannister and onetime queen to Robert Baratheon.


Lost her first son to fever.

Threatened by Ned Stark, who planned to tell the world that her sons were fathered by her twin brother.

Lost her husband to a wild boar attack (though she wasn’t too broken up about that one).

Realized her son, Joffrey, was a monster.

Forced into an engagement with Loras Tyrell.

Lost Joffrey, who was poisoned.

Lost her daughter, who was sent away to Dorne and then poisoned.

Lost her father, who was murdered by her brother by crossbow.

Imprisoned by a religious cult that she helped empower.

Marched naked and barefoot through the city while angry citizens hurled excrement at her.


Yes, since she has a new, all-powerful Frankenstein warrior, made of leftover parts from Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. For everyone else . . . ?

Jon Snow
(Kit Harington)

Jon Snow of "Game of Thrones." (Mordi Levi/For The Washington Post)


The bastard son of Ned Stark (supposedly) and Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.


Treated like an outsider by his stepmother.

Lost his uncle, who went on a mission north of the Wall.

Captured by wildlings.

Seriously wounded after his wildling girlfriend Ygritte shot him with arrows.

Nearly killed during the Battle of Castle Black.

Witnessed the death of his beloved Ygritte, who was shot through the heart by a little kid.

Accosted by a lusty witch.

Nearly killed by a White Walker.

Stared down by the seriously terrifying and undead Night’s King.

Stabbed multiple times by his brothers in black, who left him to die in a pool of blood on the snowy ground.


It certainly couldn’t get worse.