I had considered (very briefly) checking in on all the actors who played now dead characters on Game of Thrones before I realized that around 285 (mostly very, very minor) characters have actually been snuffed out during the series’ four seasons so far, and I expect that number will continue to climb in this weekend’s finale. Instead, I limited it to 11 major and major/minor characters who have died because I wanted to see how much of a stepping stone the exposure on Game of Thrones offered the actors.
The truth is, while the actors have certainly benefited, there hasn’t been a huge break-out from among the dead-character ranks, although it’s still early yet and I suspect that a character that died three weeks ago may end up having the best chance among them all to be a major force in film and television.
Some of these actors haven’t been away from the show long enough to accumulate many projects, but nevertheless, here’s a ranking of the post-Game of Thrones careers of 11 actors whose characters on the show have died based on completed projects, future projects, and break-out potential.
1. Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell) — A quick fan favorite who used his relatively scant screen time to make a huge impact, Pascal has perhaps benefited more than almost anyone by his Game of Thrones fame, as he was cast as a major character in Narcos, an upcoming Netflix series chronicling the life of Pablo Escobar. Having been submitted as Game of Thrones representative in the guest actor category, he also has a decent shot at an Emmy nomination (and maybe even win). Before long, he’ll be threatening Leo DiCaprio for roles.
2. Jason Momoa (Drago) — It appeared as though Momoa was going to have a huge career coming out of Game of Thrones with Conan the Barbarian, but after that and the Stallone film Bullet to the Head fizzled out, Momoa’s career cooled. He’s currently starring in the little-seen Sundance series, The Red Road. He also has three B-movies in the works. When he’s not acting, he’s, uh, THROWING AXES.
3. Sean Bean (Ned Stark) — Bean, perhaps the actor who has died more times than any other, has returned from whence he came: Dying in B-movies and quickly cancelled TV series, like the short-lived Ashley Judd series, Missing, where he died in the pilot. He’s also been in Mirror Mirror, a Silent Hill sequel, and has a role in the Wachowskis upcoming Jupiter Ascending. Otherwise, it’s mostly B-movies and straight-to-Redbox features. Otherwise, just hanging out with Playboy models, enjoying a beer, and fighting off glass-wielding attackers. NO BIG DEAL.
4. Richard Madden (Robb Stark) — One of three victims on this list from the Red Wedding, Richard Madden jumped right back into TV series work, starring in a western mini-series, Klondike, that aired earlier this year on Discovery (I completely missed it). He’s also playing Prince Charming in next year’s live-action adaptation of Cinderella directed by Kenneth Branagh. His life has not gone without controversy, however, as he pissed off a lot of people by, uh, taking up too much room on the subway. TYPICAL CELEBRITY.
5. Michelle Fairley (Caitlyn Stark) — Fairley has had very steady work with a long recurring role in Suits and she can currently be seen in 24: Live Another Day. She’s also filming Heart of the Sea, a Ron Howard film with Chris Hemsworth about a whaling ship that was stranded at sea for 90 days after being pursued by a sperm whale (based on an actual 1820 event).
6. Rose Leslie (Ygritte) — Brits won’t have to wait long to see Rose Leslie again, as she’s set to join the second season of their hugely successful series, Utopia, which is a big deal in the UK, I am to believe. She will also play the lead in a couple of low-budget films, Sticky Notes and Honeymoon. Unfortunately, by the time her death arrived, her screentime had already been severely reduced, so she didn’t perhaps get the profile-raising send-off she deserved. In the meantime, the Downton Abby star also hangs with her sister.
7. Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen) — Lloyd has also had steady work, mostly in British mini-series like Great Expectations and The Fear. However, he has been cast as a major character in Manhattan, an intriguing new summer series on WGN about the race to build the atomic bomb. I gotta say, it looks pretty good, too.
8. Oona Chaplin (Talisa Stark) — Like others on this list, Oona jumped back into a British mini-series (there are SO many of them), The Crimson Fields, although she had also been cast in a very promising FX series with Paul Giamatti, Hoke, which FX just passed on today. Not to worry, however: She has several indie flicks lined up, and hopefully, she’ll get another crack at a TV series soon. She’s still watching Game of Thrones, too, when she’s not pissed off about Godzilla.
9. James Cosmo (Joer Mormont) — Veteran character actor Cosmo has returned to what he’s always done: Playing bit roles in seldom-seen movies. But, if his Twitter account is any indication, he’s also spending a lot of time with his fans.
10. Esmé Bianco (Ros) — Blanco has a couple of B-movies out in 2015, Mind Puppets and Living Among Us, but otherwise is having a very quiet post-Game of Thrones career. She is not shy on Instagram, however.
11. Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon) — As promised, Jack Gleeson appears to have retired from acting and the spotlight to pursue academics. He’s as happy as anyone about the death of King Joffrey.