Aside from the White Walkers beyond the Wall, Ramsay Bolton is the only real villain on “Game of Thrones.” The Lannisters are too busy attempting to maintain power in King’s Landing, and the Sons of the Harpy pose kind of a threat to Daenerys Targaryen, but there’s nobody else quite as hated as Ramsay. While having a character who fans can’t wait to see get his comeuppance is great for the HBO series, Ramsay’s storyline has entered supervillain territory, which can come across as a bit boring.
Warning: “Game of Thrones” Season 6 spoilers ahead.
“Game of Thrones” wants viewers to know Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) is a bad, bad man. In Season 3, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) is Ramsay’s prisoner. Over the course of the season, Ramsay begins to flay Theon, manipulates him and psychologically tortures him. Ramsay also removes a certain body part that he sends to Theon’s father, Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide). By the end of the season, Theon has been renamed Reek.
Ramsay’s abuse continues in “Game of Thrones” Season 4, with the Boltons in control of Winterfell. Along with Myranda (Charlotte Hope), he hunts Tansy (Jazzy De Lisser) for sport. The ongoing abuse of Theon/Reek is accompanied by another round of flaying after Ramsay captures Moat Cailin.
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) becomes Ramsay’s main target in Season 5. He acts impulsively throughout it, with the constant threat of flaying or torture hanging over anybody who gets in his way. On their wedding night, Ramsay forcibly consummates his marriage with Sansa. This treatment goes on until she escapes with Theon while Ramsay is busy defeating the army of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane).
As if fans didn’t hate Ramsay enough already, “Game of Thrones” Season 6 had him murder his father and sets his hounds on his mother-in-law and her newborn baby. By the end of Season 6, episode 3, “Oathbreaker,” Ramsay has Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) and Osha (Natalia Tena) in his clutches. Rickon and Osha had not been seen since the third season, so viewers may have been hopeful about seeing them again. As a minor character, Osha had some interesting character development as a Wildling who became a protector of both Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Rickon. Instead of seeing how the relationship developed between Osha and Rickon since fans last saw them, viewers saw Osha killed by Ramsay before she has a chance to kill him.
It was another notch on Ramsay’s belt as a psychotic villain. To top it off, he sends a version of the so-called Pink Letter appearing in the George R.R. Martin novel “A Dance of Dragons” that taunts Jon Snow (Kit Harington) into action. The letter is effective, but what preceded it was not really necessary to establish Ramsay as the big villain of “Game of Thrones.” In fans’ minds, it’s firmly established that he is a sadistic individual who craves power regardless of the consequences. As Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) told Ramsay before the former was murdered by the latter, “If you acquire a reputation as a mad dog, you’ll be treated as a mad dog.”
Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), another potential villain that viewers loved to hate, had an incredible death. But while he was opposing the Starks, Tywin provided great insight into how Westeros really worked. Even Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), a constant thorn in the side of Jon Snow, was more interesting as he believed that killing Jon was the right thing to do to preserve the Night’s Watch. But Ramsay’s actions no longer add insight into his character.
In many ways, Ramsay has become stagnant. There’s still time for him to regain some luster, especially in how he interacts with Rickon. And Ramsay could soon be face-to-face with defeat, which could add another wrinkle to his character. One may hope Ramsay will be killed by one of the protagonists, but it might not happen soon enough.