Of all the characters on Game of Thrones, Lord Varys is one of the most interesting ones because he insists that he serves only the realm. His desire to protect the people of Westeros by maneuvering those in power into the best position to do some good in the world (or by manipulating them out of a job) makes him a rare breed in the Seven Kingdoms. He doesn't care which royal toes he steps on, because the Spider is always looking at the bigger picture, which stretches so far beyond the Iron Throne. Unfortunately for Varys, this also means he comes across a bit disloyal because he's served a lot of kings (and one queen), and in "The Last of the Starks," he hints that he's ready to ditch Daenerys for Jon Snow. Tyrion isn't so keen on giving up on the Mother of Dragons just yet, and he tells Varys as much by pointing out the number of rulers the Master of Whispers has served over the years. Which begs the question, just how many rulers of Westeros has Lord Varys advised? To date, he's parceled out advice to four kings and one queen, and if he turns on Daenerys and lives to tell the tale, then Jon will bring his total to six. Ahead, let's take a look at those rulers and his history with each.
1. The Mad King Aerys
Varys began his job as the Master of Whispers by serving the Mad King Aerys, Daenerys's father. That means he had a ringside seat to the king's descent into madness and subsequent downfall. While we didn't get to see those years firsthand, it's implied that the Spider not only honed his skills as an information gatherer during the Mad King's reign, he also learned to watch for signs of corruption in the people who sit on the Iron Throne.
2. Robert Baratheon
After Robert's Rebellion, Varys became an adviser to Aerys's successor, Robert Baratheon. At first, the young king seemed like he could be a strong ruler, but he quickly proved that he was bored by the politics of it all. Robert was a warrior, not a king, and his grief over Lyanna's death and penchant for turning to women and wine made him an easy target for the manipulations of the Lannister family.
3. Joffrey Baratheon
Joffrey took the throne after his supposed father's death, and it was a disaster right from the start. He was a petty, cruel, and cowardly teen with no interest in taking care of the people of Westeros. Varys knew this and spent most of Joffrey's reign working with Tyrion to maintain some semblance of peace in King's Landing. Of course, Stannis Baratheon challenged his supposed nephew's right to the throne, which led to the Battle of Blackwater and more chaos. Thankfully, Lady Olenna poisoned Joffrey at his wedding and prevented him from growing into an even madder king than Aerys was.
4. Tommen Baratheon
Poor Tommen was far too easily manipulated to be a proper king. Varys didn't play a huge role in the young man's short reign, but Tommen was the last Baratheon/Lannister that the Spider served. Cersei's youngest son took his own life after she destroyed the sept and killed his queen, Margaery Tyrell. By then, Varys was ready to show his hand and serve the Dragon Queen, who was building her army across the Narrow Sea.
5. Daenerys Targaryen
Varys once again lent his advice to a Targaryen when he brought Daenerys and Tyrion together in season five. He initially saw the Mother of Dragons as a ruler who would put the people of Westeros first. Her reputation as a breaker of chains certainly helped. As far as the Spider was concerned, she was the only person who can bring peace to Westeros — well, that's what he used to believe. Now that she's back home in the Seven Kingdoms in season eight, Varys can't help but notice his queen is temperamental, dangerous, and on edge. She's also convinced that the Iron Throne is her destiny, and Varys tells Tyrion that's a very tyrant-like thing to say. While the Khaleesi's Hand is trying to stay by her side, Varys appears to be plotting to stop her reign before it can begin in favor of the more inoffensive candidate, Jon Snow.
While Tyrion sees Varys's inability to stay on one team as a character flaw, it's actually admirable. He's seen plenty of people rule, and none of them have ruled well. He knows the consequences that come with handing unchecked power over to people who aren't suited to the job, and he simply wants to see Westeros in the hands of someone who cares. His goal is a lofty one, but it's also a selfless desire that could cost him his life even as it saves the realm.