How The Greatest HBO Character of All Time Tourney Changed

Selina Meyer of Veep and Cersei Lannister of Game of Thrones are making moves. Big moves.

Nothing is set in stone. Nothing. This includes the Greatest HBO Character of All Time Tournament I did in 2013 and have since revisited twice. It was never meant to be something that was finite. It was fluid, due in large part to the presence of Game of Thrones’ characters. In 2013, the Thrones train had left the station and was steadily gaining steam. Judging those characters based on what had transpired on that show through it’s third season wasn’t going to be giving them a fair shake. Giddy Up America is all about fair shakes. It’s the only shakes we know.

When I first revisited the tournament, a year after writing it, any changes were relatively minor. The final four (Larry David, Tony Soprano, Omar and Stringer Bell) remained intact and the overall result of the tournament, Omar beating Larry David, didn’t change. Kenny Powers losing to Nucky Thompson seemed like a stretch, while admitting that Daenerys beating The Sopranos’ Christopher Moltisanti didn’t seem at all like the upset it did initially. Keep in mind, Danys was a six seed, Moltisanti a 3 seed. The lone addition to the tournament was Richard Harrow of Boardwalk Empire who replaced Sookie from True Blood, slotting in as an 8 seed and still losing out to Tony Soprano in the first round. Tywin Lannister of Game of Thrones, Rust Cohle of True Detective and Selina Meyer of Veep were added to the list of characters who just missed the cut.

At the end of 2014 I decided to once again check in on the tournament and see what might have changed. Again, same final four, same final result. However, Kenny Powers was now a three seed.


Nucky Thompson of Boardwalk Empire moved up to the second seed and Al Swearengen of Deadwood was bumped down to a six seed. Margaret Thompson of Boardwalk Empire then took Paulie from The Sopranos seven seed in the Natural Police bracket, effectively bumping Paulie from the tournament. Sorry Paulie.

The biggest addition this time around was the inclusion of Selina Meyer, who came in as a five seed in The Imp bracket. This pitted Selina against Cersei Lannister of Game of Thrones, with Vice President President Public Citizen Meyer beating out Queen Queen Mother Queen Cersei. Selina would lose to Tyrion in the next round. Rust Cohle was also now a part of the tournament, snagging a seven seed in the 40 Degree Day bracket. But he was quickly bounced by Ari Gold of Entourage.

With season six of Game of Thrones and the fifth season of Veep recently wrapping up, I felt like it would be a good time to dig back into the tournament.

So let’s do it to it.


Right off the bat, the final four stays the same. There’s plenty of movement below them and maybe, just maybe someone from Game of Thrones might be able to crack it eventually and get in there, but ultimately no one has done enough to unseat Tony Soprano, Larry David, Stringer Bell or Omar. And along those lines, Omar is still the king. I honestly don’t see that ever changing. Sorry to spoil the ending for you.

The biggest change to the tournament is that Selina Meyer is making moves. She went from the almost there list, to a five seed to now, now she’s locked in as a two seed. Yeah, a two seed. This then starts knocking dominoes down. Ari Gold becomes a three seed and Jimmy Darmody of Boardwalk Empire goes from a strong three seed all the way down to a seven seed. Rough break for poor Jimmy, but at least I didn’t kill him or kill someone that looked like him and then pretended it was him. And yes, I totally spoiled some key parts of Boardwalk Empire, but that show has been gone for over a year now. If you’re upset right now, that’s on you.

Based in small part on what went down in the season six finale of Game of Thrones, Cersei is now a four seed. Hannah Horvarth from Girls essentially switches places with her and becomes a four seed. Also on the Thrones’ front, the newly-appointed King of the North Jon Snow goes from a seven seed to a four seed. I thought about making him a three seed, but three Game of Thrones’ characters as three seeds seemed excessive. So Jon slots in as a four seed now. Jon moving up knocks down Eric Northman of True Blood to a five seed.

And finally, even though I’ve never seen an episode of The Larry Sanders Show I felt that I should respect my elders and add Larry Sanders to the tournament. You know, it just feels right. So in the Natural Police bracket, Sanders takes over the five seed, Vern Schillinger of Oz goes to six, Ali G drops to seven and poor Margaret Thompson gets the boot, which is what you get when you give away all your husband’s money for reasons I don’t totally remember.

Okay, so new match ups…

The 40 Degree Day Bracket

Selina Meyer (2) vs. Rust Cohle (7)

Come on. Meyer isn’t going to jump from five to two and then be knocked out by Cohle, a seven seed. A little secret is that it was Meyer’s performance on Veep, especially this past season, that made me want to revisit the tournament again in the first place. I kind of feel like she’s not just crashing the boy’s club of high brow television, but straight up kicking down the door. Veep is easily the funniest show on television and it all revolves around Meyer, who drops an f bomb with the passion of a thousand splendid suns. But her range is also incredible, especially as this season went on and her presidency stumbled and fumbled to an end. I can’t decide what version of Selina Meyer is better- the swagger-filled one or the zero eff’s to give one. Rust Cohle was cool and all but I don’t think anyone was itching to see him beyond True Detective‘s first season. Yet I missed Meyer the minute the season finale ended. It’s hard to rival Game of Thrones in terms of my anticipation level, but Veep is getting close.

I thought someone from Game of Thrones might be the one to break up the current final four, but maybe it could be Selina Meyer. That doesn’t seem like a total stretch.


In the meantime, of course Selina Meyer beats Rust Cohle.

Selina Meyer (2) vs. Daenerys Targaryen

Ok, see, this one is a little tougher. How do you even judge Daenerys? She’s up, she’s down. She’s freeing slaves and dropping mics, she’s kicking around an old pyramid talking about entitlements and what is rightfully hers. Consistency isn’t her strong suit.

Maybe let’s just look at the both of them solely as rulers. Selina Meyer is fierce and feisty. Danys is definitely fierce, but I wouldn’t call her feisty. She also seems to lack the political flexibility Meyer has, although I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Do we want our leaders to bend, but not break or not bend at all? Shit man, this could get heavy. Maybe we should look at this another way and see how it goes if we judge them via the rules set in place when this tournament started.

  • Personal favoritism
  • The character’s role on their show
  • Their length of time on their show
  • Cultural significance
  • Memorable quotes and/or scenes

Personal Favoritism

Who I like more? Well Daenerys is frustrating, Selina isn’t. I don’t care to be frustrated. I like Selina more.

The Character’s Role on Their Show

Both play important parts, although based on the difference in size, it seems like Selina plays a bigger one.


She’s the lead on Veep, whereas Danys is at best, one of the leads on Game of Thrones. And even though there’s still two seasons of Game of Thrones to go, I can’t see that changing.  Selina gets this one too.

Their Length of Time on Their Show


Cultural Significance

Ask a stranger if they know either one, I bet more would know Danys. Game of Thrones is a cultural phenomenon. It’s more than just a television show. Veep is a great television show, but not the supernova that Game of Thrones is. I think we’ll appreciate Selina Meyer more the closer it gets to the end of Veep, but for now, Danys gets this one.


Memorable Quotes and/of Scenes

Danys is currently making a living rocking the shit out of killer scenes like the one above – most of which involve either fire, slaves or slaves by a fire.

But wait, this is part of the problem with our dear Danys – she has these cool moments but she can’t back them up. Danys has a scorcher of a scene in one episode and spends the next four talking about it. She’s all snazzle and shazzle and shimmer and shammer. Danys is a wide receiver on Game of Thrones, while Selina is the quarterback on Veep and anyone who watches football or watches people on ESPN talk about football will tell you that quarterback is the most important position not just in football, but in sports.

Selina wins.

Stringer Bell (1) vs. Selina Meyer (2)

Selina is not beating Stringer.


At least not yet.


Yeah, watch your back, String.

The Natural Police Bracket

Jon Snow (4) vs. Larry Sanders (5)

I only know what I’ve heard about Sanders and not what I’ve seen. I’ve heard he was hilarious and that his show was a trail-blazer for HBO. That’s dope; absolutely fantastic. It’s why he comes in now as a five seed. But he’s an old head and he’s not beating Jon Snow, certainly not now with Snow on the come-up. Jon Snow means business. He has a man bun and not for fashion purposes. Business purposes. Jon fought off White Walkers. Jon hooked up with Ygritte in a super sexy cave. Jon climbed up The Wall. Jon died. Jon came back to life. Jon won the Battle of Winterfell. Jon is King of the North. Dude, Jon is a Targaryen.

Sorry Larry Sanders. All due respect and all, but it’s Jon Snow.


2016 is the year of Jon Snow.

Jimmy McNulty (1) vs. Jon Snow (4)

Right now? No. McNulty all the way. In a year or so? I love McNulty but dude, it might be a different result.

Editor’s Note: You could argue that such a scenario, rewarding someone like Jon Snow in real time, as opposed to judging McNulty on past accomplishments isn’t fair. But I would argue the opposite and say that you can’t truly judge a character until their show or their role on the show is done. If a character is strong enough, they have nothing to fear.

Moving on.

Cersei beats Vern Schillinger. Larry David beats Ali G. Which then sets up…

Larry David (2) vs. Cersei Lannister (3)

Okay, we can make this short. Cersei is a boss and the shenanigans she pulled in “The Winds of Winter” was a heck of a play on her part. I thought she might not even survive the finale and instead, she comes out stronger than when it started. I’m an idiot.

But it’s Larry David.

Cersei’s only hope for advancing is a re-seeding the next time around. Until then, she doesn’t make it past the second round.

Let’s check out the updated bracket.

HBO v.3

Looking ahead, I can’t see much changing with the tournament, not until we get new seasons of Game of Thrones and Veep. They seem like the only HBO shows producing contenders right now.

So until then, the night is dark and full of Ryan arguing with himself.

Photos: HBO





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