As wise man, Game of Thrones creator, and nerd demigod George R.R. Martin once said, "The stronger the beard, the stronger the man."
Okay, he didn't really say that. But judging from the characters he created (and by Martin's own bushy chinpiece), it's fair to assume that statement is part of his life philosophy.
As Sunday's premiere approaches, fans who haven't read the third book in A Song of Ice and Fire have very little to go on when it comes to predicting the action this season. Who'll die? Who'll land the Iron Throne? Who'll get zombie-fied by the White Walkers?
Facial hair seems as good an indicator as any. So we're ranking the show's best above-neck manscaping (or lack thereof) to weigh the odds. May the best beard win.
Joffrey I Baratheon
Tiny blonde sociopath King Joff has earned himself the hatred of Game of Thrones' legions of fans. If anyone needs magical beard protection, it's him.
Beard Ranking: 0.0
This hairless, Hunter Hayes-looking mofo doesn't stand a chance.
Poor, smooth-faced Bran comes into Season Three in hiding after Winterfell was seized by the inept and poorly bearded Theon Greyjoy. Growing a bit of facial hair couldn't hurt him stay on the DL.
Beard Ranking: 1.0
No beard activity; One point optimistically awarded for genetics' sake.
He's saved King's Landing, but got a nasty slash across the face for his efforts. Maybe he could cover it up with a below-the-nose 'fro?
Beard Ranking: 2.0
The potential is there. You can see those hair follicles yearning to produce. But Tyrion remains clean-shaven. We'd give the razor a rest if we were you, man. You're one of the most beloved characters on the show, but that doesn't mean you're safe. Just ask Ned Stark.
Ginger weasel Theon Greyjoy has daddy issues. Can his facial hair earn him any respect?
Beard Ranking:: 3.0
C'mon, Greyjoy -- is that stubble, or just your sister's shadow on your face? Poor showing.
Littlefinger's the unassuming man behind the scenes, playing politics in Kings Landing. Does his beard provide him any extra cover?
Beard Ranking: 4.5
Baelish's upper lip is the furriest and best groomed of any man's on the show thus far. But that sparse salt-and-pepper action below it spells trouble. Man up, Baelish. You know Lady Catelyn likes 'em hairy.
The oldest Stark son is still at war with, well, everyone as Season Three begins. He's the King in the North -- but he's also, what, 15? That's beard-growing age.
Beard Ranking: 6.4
A bit sparse, but nicely trimmed. Bonus points awarded for youth; if Martin lets him live, he'll surely develop more robust face-fur.
Sexy bastard Jon Snow finds himself in enemy territory as Season Three begins, captured by wildlings and being led to King Beyond the Wall Mance Rayder. Can his beard keep him safe?
Beard Ranking:: 6.7
It's just a chin-strap paired with a molestache, really, but the long hair helps beef it up a bit. Additional points awarded for sexiness, because damn.
Protecting the Mother of Dragons ain't easy. And even in the desert heat, a little beard can go a long way.
Points deducted for color (yeah, it's the desert, but geez, blondie), but awarded for full coverage and even trim. What Khaleesi could resist?
Love him or hate him or love to hate him, evil Jaime started the show clean-shaven. But now that he's learning to survive (and, y'know, care about people) in the captivity of Brienne, he's letting it all hang out. Coincidence?
Beard Ranking: 8.5
Keep letting it ride, brother, and you'll be just fine.
He didn't show up until Season Two, but Davos, serving would-be king Stannis Baratheon, was part of the most haunting moment in the series thus far: Melisandre's "magical shadow queef." We bet he was thankful for the extra layers of hair between his face and that thing.
Beard Ranking: 9.5
Davos, you have grown the prince of all beards. It's multi-colored. It's bushy, yet nicely trimmed. It covers your whole damn face below the nose. As Thrones beards go, yours is second only to Martin's himself. We think you're going to be just fine.
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.
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