A Song of Ice and Fire/Tropes A To I

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search


This page covers tropes found in A Song of Ice and Fire. See also A Song of Ice and Fire/Tropes J To R and A Song of Ice and Fire/Tropes S to Z. Subjective tropes and audience reactions go to the YMMV page.

A-C[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Any blade made from Valyrian steel. Dawn, the ancestral sword of House Dayne, also counts, being made out of a meteorite.
  • Abusive Parents: Randyll Tarly, and especially Tywin Lannister, whose horrible treatment of his son went far beyond the Moral Event Horizon. Craster is an even worse example, regularly raping his daughters and sacrificing his sons to the Others.
  • Academy of Adventure: The Citadel of Oldtown seems to be shaping up this way.
  • Accidental Marriage: Well, what passes for marriage for the wildlings anyways. Female wildlings will only stay with a man if he's able to capture her. Jon Snow captured Ygritte and was unable to kill her when commanded to. She took that to mean that he wanted her and therefore chased after him until he was finally forced to give in.
  • Acrofatic: The Tyrells' fool, Butterbumps.
  • Action Girl:
    • Arya Stark, a little waifish Tomboy who enjoys fencing and collecting nemeses; she's also encountered at least one female Faceless Man.
    • Brienne of Tarth is an aspiring Knight in Shining Armor, which leads to her being mocked by most men.
    • The women of Bear Island and in particular House Mormont learn weapons and war to defend themselves against raiding ironmen while the husbands are away at sea; more recently, since Jeor Mormont took the black and Jorah was attainted, the Mormont women have become the heads of the House.
    • Asha Greyjoy is an Ironwoman reaver. As the eldest daughter of a ruling family, she would traditionally be married off for political purposes and devote her life to producing children. Instead, she's such a good reaver that her father chose her as his heir, despite their deeply misogynistic culture. She often jokes that a battleaxe is her husband, and the dagger she carries constantly is her suckling babe.
    • Ygritte is a wildling woman who chased Jon Snow all over the land beyond the Wall, and a fair proportion of wildling women are "spearwives," fierce soldiers.
    • There is also at least one female Meereenese pit fighter.
    • The Sand Snakes, all of whom appear to be proficient in at least one weapon.
  • Actually a Doombot: In Dance, Melisandre didn't burn Mance, she burned Rattleshirt with a glamour on him.
  • Adipose Rex: King Robert Baratheon, while not morbidly obese, is seen by Eddard as having put on a lot of weight since Eddard had known him prior to his ascension. Also, in the backstory, King Aegon IV Targaryen, called Aegon the Unworthy, became very fat over the course of his reign. Also, Tommen becomes king and is described as chubby, although that may just be baby fat. Wise Master Yezzan zo Qaggaz of Yunkai is morbidly obese apparently due to a disease he caught in the southern continent. And while not a full-blown king, Lord Manderly is described as barely able to walk due to his prodigious girth.
  • Aerith and Bob: There are a wide variety of ethnic groups in the series, causing an interesting mix of names. In fact, the last two kings of Westeros were named Aerys and Robert. There are also some unusual versions of fairly normal names, such as Eddard and Kevan. Still, these all mesh well with other names within their particular culture. One combination that's a bit odd to our eyes is the Lannister twins Jaime and Cersei.
  • Affably Evil: Littlefinger and Varys, so very much. To the extent they can be considered evil, Melisandre and the Faceless Men (specifically Jaqen and the kindly man).
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Jon shows his affection to Arya by mussing up her hair.
  • Agent Peacock:
    • Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers.
    • Daario Naharis, a ruthless mercenary who dyes his hair and nails blue and dresses in flamboyant garb of yellow and gold, which is flamboyant even for a Tyroshi.
    • One of the Yunkai'i lords' private army is made up of men 7+ feet tall, dressed in pink with plumed helmets, and wearing stilts. The lord himself is five feet tall.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Dany desires the sexy bad boy Daario against her better judgment, and has no interest in the steady and devoted, but plain and boring, Jorah. Barristan laments that while Dany is clever and wise beyond her years, she still has a young woman's taste in men.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: All over the place, including asymmetry in nonromantic relationships (lots of children feeling unloved); Courtly Love both played straight and deconstructed; and plenty of Arranged Marriage of varying degrees of happiness.
  • All Myths Are True: With the possible exception of snarks and grumkins - even the characters familiar with giants, greenseers, wargs, wights, Blood Magic, dragons and ice demons dismiss grumkins and snarks as silly children's stories. Oddly, aside from the fact that they don't exist, we've heard very little about what they're supposed to be.
  • All There in the Manual: The maps at the front and family trees at the back of the books come in handy very often.
  • Alternate Appearance Aura: Melisandre is able to cast these on people—they're said to be very difficult magic, and harder to keep up depending on how much they challenge people's Weirdness Censors, so wearing the person's Iconic Item or Memetic Outfit helps the disguise.
  • Exclusively Evil: Probably the Others and Wights.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted with Jon Snow, who's a virgin when he swears his oath to the Night's Watch. This applies to a lot of men who sign on to the watch before they lose their virginity.
  • Amazon Brigade: When Jon brings wildlings to the Wall, he has trouble reconciling his need for recruits with the Watch's vows of chastity. He decides to confine all the spearwives to one castle, with the only men present being trusted officers overseeing them.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Brynden Tully; Catelyn mentions to his brother that "He has not wed. You know that, Father. Nor will he ever", but nothing more is mentioned about this.
    • Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Valyrian weapons are so valuable that they are usually ancestral weapons of a noble house. Examples include Ice, of House Stark; Heartsbane, of House Tarly, and Longclaw, of House Mormont. Sometimes, however, a noble house loses possession of its Valyrian weapon. They are so valued that Tywin Lannister has tried to buy Valyrian steel weapons from impoverished houses—an ancestor lost the family blade Brightroar across the sea—but while the families were willing to marry their daughters to the men of House Lannister, they valued their Valyrian steel weapons more than mere gold. Dawn, the meteoric iron sword of House Dayne, is particularly linked with the house's reputation. The wielder of Dawn is given a special title: "The Sword of the Morning."
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Targaryen family has attempted to resurrect dragons and find the Prince Who Was Promised amongst themselves for at least a hundred years. Another conspiracy, the Maesters of the Citadel, appear to want to destroy magic in favor of science.
  • And Some Other Stuff: The recipe for the "wine of courage" taken by the Unsullied to make them immune to pain. Not used to prevent readers from making some for themselves, obviously; in this case it's presumably being invoked to protect an In-Universe trade secret.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Westerosi noble houses have heraldic animals as their symbols, much like the real Middle Ages. Stark - wolf, Lannister - lion, Targaryen - dragon, Baratheon - stag. Comparisons are inevitable, and this is taken to the point of becoming an important theme, especially with the direwolves of the Stark children, and is used as symbolism before the first chapter is over: (The Starks find a direwolf that had been killed by a stag, and it is eventually Robert Baratheon's foolishness and his "son" Joffrey Baratheon's sociopathy which tear House Stark apart). Daenerys also finds the three heads of the Targaryen dragon to be very important. Houses deliberately choose animals based on their personal philosophies, and raise their children with the specific intention of moulding them into the correct images. Illyrio, and other foreigners, find this custom bizarre.
    • Some individuals are especially tied to an animal in reference to their job or behavior, including Sandor "the Hound" Clegane and Varys the Spider. Oberyn Martell is known as "The Red Viper of Dorne" while his baseborn daughters are known as the Sand Snakes (Dorne bastards are given the surname Sand).
    • The Ghiscari call themselves "The Sons of the Harpy," after the heraldic harpy of old Ghis. The villanous La Résistance/The Remnant formed against Daenerys' government in Meereen is known as the Sons of the Harpy and its rumored leader who may or not be Hizdahr zo Loraq is known as The Harpy
    • The Lhazarene, a pacifistic herding culture, are known by the Dothraki as the Lamb Men. A Lhazarene former slave who Ser Barristan takes under his wing is known as the Red Lamb for his fury in battle
    • The Brazen Beasts of Mereen all wear bronze animal masks. A number of people wonder if they wear the same masks or switch them up. The masks of a group of Brazen Beasts have symbolic significance when Shavepate's men all wear locust masks during their coup to reference the poisoned locusts meant for Dany.
  • Animal Eye Spy: Seems to be the first symptom of being a warg, particularly in dreams. All the Starks experience it with their direwolves (whether they realise that's what's happening or not) and Arya notices it briefly happening with a cat when her human eyes are blinded.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Mance Rayder, briefly, for his erstwhile friend and 'brother' Qhorin Halfhand.
  • Anti-Hero: Depending on which characters are your favorite, it's hard to say who you'll consider the main Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain.
  • Anti-Mutiny: In A Dance With Dragons, The Night's Watch begrudgingly supports Jon's plan for allying with the wildlings against the Others and also sending a ranging party to rescue the ships originally sent to rescue wildlings at Hardhome. They also go along with involving the Night's Watch with Stannis, making it a prime target of retribution at the hands of Lord Bolton. However, when Jon decides to go south to deal with Ramsay Bolton, which amounts to breaking his vows and getting involved in the wars of the realm, the Watch turns on him.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Tyrion Lannister is teased as a villain early on, but quickly becomes a sympathetic main character, although his loyalty to his own ambitious family makes it hard for him to get along with the Lawful Good Starks.
    • Sandor Clegane becomes more sympathetic after first appearing to be a simple monster. Jaime Lannister goes through this as well. However, as noted just above, any of them could be called an Anti-Hero just as easily.
    • Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall and a former Night's Watch brother. He wants to conquer the Wall but only so that his people can take shelter from the Others behind it.
    • Theon Greyjoy performs a Face Heel Turn, betraying Robb Stark and taking Winterfell for the Greyjoys, which ends in the death of many Stark retainers. However, when he's betrayed by the Boltons and tortured into insanity, he swings over into The Woobie territory quickly.
  • Anyone Can Die: A major theme of the book, due to the high mortality rate of major characters, good and bad. However, as the series progresses, the deaths of major characters are more often teased than actually occur, and readers are beginning to realize that if a chapter ends with an important character seeming to die, it's more likely than not that they'll come back in some way later on.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Subverted by the Ironborn. To spill the blood of another Ironborn is forbidden by their religion. But drowning another Ironborn is not.
  • Apologetic Attacker: The Sorrowful Men, a guild of assassins known for saying "I'm so sorry" to their targets before killing them.
  • Apologizes a Lot: Podrick Payne, the meek squire.
  • The Archer: Anguy the Archer of the Brotherhood Without Banners, Aggo, one of Dany's bloodriders, Theon Greyjoy favors his bow, and is said to be quite good with it. Also "Alleras" the Sphinx. Bloodraven was one of these when younger, although it's unreported whether he maintained the skill after losing an eye.
  • Arc Number: Seven. Seven books, the Seven Kingdoms, the Faith of the Seven, the members of the Kingsguard and Rainbow Guard, the seven rebuildings of Storm's End, and many others. Contrast with the Rule of Three motif running through Daenerys' story.
  • Arc Words: Several:
    • "Winter is Coming," the grim and enigmatic words of House Stark. It's noted that the Stark motto is unusual for being a warning rather than a boast.
    • "The seed is strong." The dying words of Jon Arryn which he repeated after discovering that ALL Baratheons in recorded history have black hair... save for the three children of Robert and Cersei.
    • "When you play the game of thrones, you win or die..." Altered phrasings of the first book title are repeated by various characters in various places throughout the series.
    • "Valar Morghulis," a phrase which Arya learns and repeats frequently, though it's a while before she understands its meaning, which is "All men must die"..
    • The phrase "song of ice and fire" has only received one cryptic appearance in the story so far, but it is the namesake of the series and so has obvious importance. "Ice and fire" has appeared a few more times, and from a macro perspective, the Ice is likely the cold-borne Others, the true and absolute "evil" in the series, and the Fire is either the dragons who may be Westeros's only hope against them or the Red God R'hllor whose followers seem privy to the coming battle against the "cold dark."
    • Each book seems to have its own individual "sub-theme". In A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons, it may well be "Words are wind", which is said or thought by a viewpoint character quite frequently (although not quite as frequently as certain corners of the internets would lead one to believe).
    • "Blood and fire" in A Dance With Dragons. These are also the arc words of House Targaryen itself.
    • "Dark wings, dark words": Messages brought by raven usually bring ill tidings.
    • "Wherever whores go" for Tyrion in A Dance With Dragons
    • In A Storm of Swords, Ygritte constantly tells Jon, "You know nothing, Jon Snow," for various reasons, but usually just to be playful. In the fifth book, after she dies during a battle, Jon starts to hear this phrase repeated by people who have no way to know that Ygritte used to say this to him.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Partly used, as most of the point-of-view characters are nobles. However, the cruelties of feudalism are emphasized, especially in warfare. Every major battle is followed by months of marauding bands sacking villages and slaughtering or raping peasants, by both sides.
  • Armor Is Useless: Generally averted in the series because it is set in a mostly low fantasy setting. Several times the strengths and weaknesses of armour are directly explored;
    • When Syrio Forel helps Arya escape by holding off Cersei's guards, he manages to kill five lightly armored guards with his wooden training sword, but is unable to get past the full plate armor of a mediocre knight.
    • When Barristan Selmy fights Khrazz, the pitfighter, Krhazz wears no armor and is unfamiliar with fighting against it. His slashing sword cannot pierce Selmy's armor, so he targets the knight's unarmored head. He spends most of the fight futilely trying to goad Selmy into taking his armor off. He fails, being unable to even injure Selmy.
    • In the duel between Bronn and Ser Vardis Egen, the lightly armored Bronn plays hit and run with the more heavily armored Egen until he tires, and then pins him down and stabs him through a shoulder joint. His ploy only works because it's just the two of them fighting, and Bronn has enough room to maneuver. Unlike the pitfighter, he was familiar with fighting armored opponents and knew how to exploit its weaknesses.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: A Lannister family specialty. Cersei delivers several, to various characters. Tyrion gives one to Joffrey. Jaime also starts using a more literal interpretation from the third book on, using his solid gold prosthetic hand.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: The Night's Watch and the Brotherhood Without Banners, which is in essence an extremely unromantic version of Robin Hood's Merry Men
  • Arranged Marriage: Pretty much all of them, most notably the one between Daenerys and Khal Drogo early in the first book, and later, the one between Tyrion and Sansa. This trope is par for the course in Westeros, much like real world Medieval society. In fact, the only notable marriage that is not arranged is that of Robb Stark and Jeyne Westerling, which breaks a prior marriage arrangement. The repercussions cause a massacre called the Red Wedding. Breaking marriage arrangements is Serious Business. In fact, the few marriages that are not arranged tend to end badly.
  • Artistic License: Biology: Martin occasionally mentions that characters have pubic hair in the same shade and color as the hair on their head (silvery-blonde, yellow-blond, bright red, etc). In Real Life, however, most people have pubic hair in a neutral shade of brown, regardless of their hair color.
  • Art Major Biology:
    • Newly-hatched dragons have a suckling reflex and the ability to digest human milk. In the real world, these traits are unique to mammals, but dragons are strongly tied to magic, and are shown to have more than a few things in common with humans.
    • The genetics of some houses seems to be a little screwy. Some house traits seem to get passed down for thousands of years, such as Lannisters almost always having blonde hair. Martin has hinted that some magic might be at work.
    • Averted with giants. They are described as having disproportionately thick legs and hips, which 2 legged creatures of that size would need to follow the square-cube law
  • Ascended Extra: Penny, who goes from being unnamed and having a minuscule part in ASOS to playing a significant part in A Dance With Dragons.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: "A Khal who does not ride is no Khal!"
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Several armies are undone because their leaders are honor-bound or crazy enough to attack into dire situations. Jaime Lanninster, Gregor Clegane, and Khal Drogo act like this on a personal level in battle.
  • Attempted Rape: A rioting mob tries to gang-rape Sansa but she is rescued by Sandor Clegane; later, Lothor Brune rescues her from Marillion. At another point, Vargo Hoat tries to rape Brienne, who bites off his ear.
  • Author Appeal:
    • You'd probably already guess that Martin loves food before reading the copious Food Porn.
    • The relationships between the Stark children and their wolves in the earlier books gives the impression that he's something of a dog person, too.
    • Overweight people, such as Samwell Tarly, Doran Martell, Lord Manderly, are usually underestimated by other characters, only to reveal unexpected virtues or abilities.
    • Several characters talk quite lovingly about books, finding them useful and enjoyable.
  • Auto Cannibalism:
    • Vargo Hoat gets hacked to pieces one part at a time by Gregor Clegane while he is imprisoned. The flesh is then fed to Hoat and the rest of the prisoners.
    • Donella Manderly/Hornwood, Ramsay Bolton's first wife, chewed her own fingers while imprisoned in the Dreadfort, having gone mad from hunger.
  • Ax Crazy: The Brave Companions/Bloody Mummers, a mercenary band as dangerous to its employers as to its enemies. The insane cannibal Biter and the jester Shagwell seem to delight in pointless violence more than anything else.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Wights are reanimated corpses of the Others' victims.
    • Beric Dondarrion and Catelyn Stark are both brought back to life through the power of R'hllor.
    • In A Dance With Dragons, Robert Strong is apparently a reanimated corpse built from Qyburn's victims, most notably Gregor Clegane.
    • Coldhands is apparently undead, having once been a ranger.
  • Badass: Several, though that doesn't save them from a painful death.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Arya and the Hound, briefly; Osha and Rickon.
  • Badass Army: The Unsullied, The Night's Watch, the Golden Company, and several others.
  • Badass Bookworm: Prince Rhaegar started as a bookworm, then read a prophecy and became badass. Sam the Slayer might be a gentle poke at the trope, as well.
    • Tyrion Lannister has acquitted himself well, all things considered, although he's mostly a Badass because of his Deadpan Snarker-ness and cleverness rather than through combat prowess
  • Badass Boast:
    • Two in succession, one doubling as a Shut UP, Hannibal, when Stannis refuses to fight in single combat for the castle of Storm's End.

Stannis: “Do you take me for an utter fool, ser? I have twenty thousand men. You are besieged by land and sea. Why would I choose single combat when my eventual victory is certain? I give you fair warning. If you force me to take my castle by storm, you may expect no mercy. I will hang you for traitors, every one of you.”
Ser Courtnay Penrose: “As the gods will it. Bring on your storm, my lord—and recall, if you do, the name of this castle.”

    • Many of the House words, both great and small, can be considered badass boasts. House Baratheon's words are "Ours is the Fury," referring to their rule of the Stormlands. The Targaryens have "Fire and Blood," The Greyjoys have "We Do Not Sow," referring to their reaving ways, and so on. Not all family words are Badass Boasts, however. The famous Stark words are a constant reminder rather than a boast. And then there's House Codd, whose words are "Though All Men Do Despise Us" (which may well be a way of saying, "Haters gon' hate").
  • Badass Creed:
    • The Oath of the Night's Watch.

"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honour to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."

    • The Reeds' oath of fealty to the Kings in the North is pretty damn awesome too:

"To Winterfell we pledge the faith of Greywater. Hearth and heart and harvest we yield up to you, my lord. Our swords and spears and arrows are yours to command. Grant Mercy to our weak, help to our helpless, and justice to all, and we shall never fail you. We swear it by earth and water, we swear it by bronze and iron, we swear it by ice and fire."

  • Badass Family: Just about every noble house, since the feudal society of Westeros generally requires that male nobles learn to fight, serving as elite cavalry and battle commanders. Many noblewomen are also shown to be quite adept at playing "the game of thrones."
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • Barristan "the Bold" Selmy is around sixty years of age, which in the medieval setting is fairly ancient considering he is able to singlehandedly take down a few soldiers unarmed. Later he defeats a sellsword captain with only a wooden staff. In Meereen, several people take potshots at his age, calling him "Ser Grandfather" and "Barristan the Old."
    • At the age of 60, Brynden Tully serves as a commander in Robb's campaign, then goes on to hold Riverrun against a siege by the Lannisters and the Freys. When he is finally convinced by political pressure to give in to the besieging army, he has his nephew raise a gate leading out into a river and swims away, escaping from his would-be captors.
  • Bad Moon Rising: The red comet is widely considered an omen, but everyone interprets it differently.
  • Bad Powers, Good People:
  • Bait the Dog: Littlefinger helps Sansa build a snowcastle, then forcefully kisses her.
  • Ballistic Discount: A large-scale example: Daeneyrs Targaryen goes to Astapor to buy an army of slave-warriors who are conditioned to be utterly loyal to their owner, then proceeds to conquer Astapor and take her payment back. The slavers realize that selling all of their Unsullied would leave them relatively defenseless, but their greed wins out, and they apparently didn't anticipate Dany's immediate attack while still inside their walls.
  • Barbarian Tribe:
    • The Dothraki are simplified Expies of the Mongol steppe-horsemen archetype.
    • Clansmen also exist in Westeros. The wildlings/free folk north of The Wall are the primary example, but smaller barbaric tribes also exist in the western foothills of the Mountains of the Moon and the northern mountain ranges between Winterfell and The Wall.
  • Bastard Bastard: Ramsay Snow/Bolton is a notable example. Of course, bastardry isn't limited to actual bastards in this series.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: It is sarcastically noted that the name of this trope could just as well have been the personal motto of the late and infamous womanizer king Aegon the Unworthy. Ramsay Bolton orders his wife bathed daily, as he is... particular about cleanliness.
  • Battle Trophy: The Black Ears tribe.
  • Batman Gambit: The modus operandi of several of the major power brokers in Westeros. Only a few are actually good at it.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Daenerys encounters this in Qarth.
  • The Beard: Margaery was this to the gay King Renly, in addition to being a strong political match. It may be that the Merryweathers, Taena and Orton, are this for each other.
  • Beardness Protection Program:
    • Jaime keeps the beard he acquired in captivity, then shaves his head for good measure. It doesn't fool anyone who's seen him before.
    • Arstan Whitebeard, aka Ser Barristan Selmy. He originally grows it in order to flee the Seven Kingdoms unrecognised.
  • Beast and Beauty: A general theme, fitting for a former author of the Beauty and The Beast TV show. Examples include Sandor and Sansa, Jaime and Brienne, and Tyrion and Sansa.
  • Beat Still My Heart
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Broadly, the Lannister brood; Tyrion prides himself on his wits, and Jaime on his fighting skill. Cersei is more complicated - she's nearly as cunning as Tyrion, and being Jaime's Half-Identical Twins they're described as looking very alike, but much to her annoyance her beauty is seen as her defining attribute, while her brothers are judged by their actions.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Averted. Many of the villains, such as Cersei and her son Joffrey, are physically attractive, while some of the most heroic characters, such as Eddard and Brienne, are plain-looking or even downright ugly. However, this belief is widespread in-universe, and people are much more inclined to believe terrible accusations when they're leveled at ugly people like Tyrion rather than at attractive ones like Cersei.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Myrcella and Pia.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Prince Who Was Promised. Subverted with the Stallion That Mounts the World prophecy. Those characters who are aware of prophecies made about them often try to prevent them from happening (from the second book alone: Renly smashing Stannis' host at King's Landing; the sea drowning Winterfell's people; Theon displaying Bran and Rickon's heads; those two boys in Winterfell's crypt). They always come true anyway... But rarely the way anyone expects. (Cersei in particular is motivated by Screw Destiny, though frankly she's not doing a great job of it.)
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Arya's apprenticeship at the House of Many-Faced God (that is, death) requires that she cast off her identity. She can't complete the process, as a part of her is still running around Westeros.
    • In A Dance With Dragons, Theon is subjected to a rather horrific variation of this, tortured by Ramsay until he is mentally broken down to think of himself as Reek.

"You've got to learn your name!"

  • Bed Trick: It is implied that did Lysa did this to Littlefinger when he was feverish from his wound, obtained fighting Brandon Stark in a duel for Cat. He thought she was Cat, averted in that she didn't know that.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jaime and Brienne, to the point that when someone interrupts them while they're fighting, Jaime jokes that they've walked in on him chastising his wife.
  • Berserker Tears: Bowen Marsh
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Wildling women believe that a man must be able to kidnap her to be worthy of marrying.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: there are a few.
  • Big Badass Wolf: The Starks' direwolves. Jon's wolf Ghost is perhaps the most notable
  • Big Brother Instinct: Jon, towards Sam.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Jaime Lannister, previously a cold-blooded villain, saves Brienne from the Bloody Mummers, which is basically the beginning of his Heel Face Turn (although we later find out he wasn't as much of a Heel as we suspected to begin with). Sandor Clegane also has a moment like this when he protects Sansa from an angry mob trying to rape her, and earlier when he defends Loras Tyrell from a very pissed-off Gregor.
    • At the end of A Storm of Swords, when Stannis and his army save the Night's Watch from the Wildling army.
  • Big Eater: Illyrio. Wyman Manderly. The king of this trope might be Yezzan zo Qagaz, whose nickname is "The Yellow Whale" for a reason.
  • Big Guy: there are several characters (Ser Gregor, Hodor, the Greatjon, etc.), but the most notable is probably Archibald Yronwood, who is more often called the Big Man than his proper name.
  • Big Little Brother: While cousins rather than brothers, Big Walder and Little Walder have this dynamic. Big Walder is the older of the two, but Little Walder is physically bigger and much more sadistic.
  • Big Man on Campus: Alleras, one of the more popular students at the Citadel. Ironically, not a large man. And likely not a man at all.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: This is a hallmark of the series. Many noble families fall under the trope;
    • The Freys, with about a hundred family members by several different mothers, all living under the same roof and all jockeying murderously for favor with the family patriarch. It is said of Lord Walder Frey that he is the only lord who can marshall an army from his breeches
    • What the Freys have in numbers the Lannisters make up for in screwed-uppedness. The main line alone consists of a father who sees every family member as little more than a pawn to be used to further the success of the family as a whole; an incestuous pair of twins including a smug, callous brother and a scheming, manipulative sister; a Black Sheep younger brother whose father and sister both hate him for killing his mother in childbirth; and the twins' three children, falsely claimed to be the children of the king, the eldest of whom is a sadistic psychopath.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Joffrey and Cersei initially seemed like great people to Sansa, and learning their true colors was a source of character development; Littlefinger seems like a mischievous, affable man but is really a ruthless, backstabbing schemer; Lothar Frey could be described similarly to Littlefinger - he just acts on a smaller scale.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The House of the Undying.
  • Bizarre Seasons: One of the few overt signs of the supernatural in the first few books. Westeros's summers and winters both last for years. The length of seasons fluctuate apparently at random, but a long summer generally indicates a long winter to follow.
  • Black and White Insanity:
    • Stannis has a reputation for this, sticking rigidly to his duty no matter the cost, though he's noted to display some occasional pragmatism.
    • Worshippers of R'hllor follow a Manichaean worldview in which reality is a constant struggle between the good force of Light and the evil force of Darkness. Consequently anything that does not fall in line with R'hllor is evil and must be destroyed.
  • Black and Gray Morality: There are a great number of quite loathsome characters in the series. Most of the sympathetic characters occasionally take morally questionable actions as well, and are often shown to be in conflict with other sympathetic characters.
  • Black Magic: Magic is generally presented as this, a mysterious and dangerous force that requires some pretty serious sacrifices to invoke. It's sometimes described as "a sword without a hilt." Mirri Maz Duur knows how to wield it and shows Dany some of the rules. Various red priests of R'hllor display magical abilities, but these usually involve blood sacrifices or burning people alive. Melisandre in particular has performed great magical feats, though she sometimes uses alchemical pyrotechnics due to the limitations, unreliability, and costs involved in the real thing.
  • The Blacksmith: Gendry, Donal Noye.
  • Black Sheep: Tyrion for being a dwarf and Jon for being a bastard (but to a much lesser degree). Sam Tarly is the Black Sheep to his warrior father for being fat, timid and bookish. Theon Greyjoy isn't welcome among the Starks for having been born into a rebellious house, nor among the Greyjoys for having being raised a northman instead of an Iron Islander. The Blackfish's nickname is a reference to this trope.
  • Bling of War:
    • It's customary for knights of Westeros to show off their wealth with gaudy armor, which often included lacquer, jewels, gilding, sculpted crests, and exotic materials. Notable exampled include Rhaegar's ruby-encrusted breastplate, Loras's cape of woven flowers, and Jaime's gilded armor.
    • Sellswords tend to wear their wealth in the form of jewelry or elaborate armor or weaponry.
    • An ironborn reaver is expected to wear only jewelry paid for with "the iron price," i.e. taken off the bodies of his victims. Wearing jewelry that you actually paid money for is only acceptable for women, so men caught doing this are shamed and compared to women.
    • Deconstructed with the Ghiscari mercenary companies, who have gone so overboard with their peacock displays that they're barely able to fight (for years, all they've been used for is shows of force by their clients, squaring off against each other until the other side backs down).
  • Blondes Are Evil and Blond Guys Are Evil: Jaime, Cersei, Joffrey, Tywin, Aerys and Viserys. Jaime plays the role to the hilt in the first two books, being a cocky, vain, and murderous bastard. Interestingly, the start of his trend towards Heel Face Turn coincides with a head shave, though he grows it back later.
  • Blood Knight: Jaime Lannister says he doesn't feel alive unless he's fighting or having sex. Former pit-fighter Strong Belwas delights in showing off his prowess so much that he allows his opponents to slash him once before he kills them, even after he's freed from the pits. Sandor Clegane deliberately seeks out violence to vent his rage, but he does not seem to enjoy it.
  • Blood Magic: Blood and life powers some forms of magic, because "only life can pay for life." Notable uses of blood itself include Beric Dondarrion lighting his sword aflame with blood from his palm.
  • Bluff the Imposter: In a preview chapter of Winds of Winter, Mors Umber quizzes "Arya" on the names of the staff at Winterfell. Subverted, as the imposter lived at Winterfell too.
  • Body Motifs: Hands are a recurring motif, particularly injuries to hands. Examples include: The Hand of the King. Qhorin Halfhand. Greatjon Umber has two fingers bitten off by Grey Wind. Ser Alliser Thorne takes a wight's hand to King's Landing (and Ghost found the hand in the woods). Jaime's hand is cut off, then hung around his neck. Then he gets a golden hand. Ser Davos had his fingers shortened as punishment for smuggling. Ser Jacelyn Bywater has an iron hand. "For hands of gold are always cold, but a woman's hands are warm." Victarion Greyjoy's hand becomes infected and then magically healed. Beric Dondarrion sets his sword on fire by cutting his own hand. Coldhands. Jon Snow's hand becomes burned. He must wear a glove over it and frequently flexes the scar tissue. During his fight with the wight, its hand is cut off but keeps attacking Jon. Lady Donella Manderly chews off her own fingers while in Ramsay Bolton's custody. Theon Greyjoy loses several fingers to Ramsay's torture. Jaime mentions that Aerys Targaryen's hands were always scabbed from cutting himself on the Iron Throne. Jon Connington's hand becomes infected with greyscale.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Jaime Lannister, a member of the Kingsguard who slew the King and was thereafter branded the Kingslayer. This is also believed to have happened with Renly when his murder was pinned on Brienne.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Shows up a number of times where bodyguards crush on their wards: Jorah Mormont is in love with Daenerys Targaryen, who does not return the feeling, much to the angst of them both. Brienne of Tarth and Renly Baratheon is a rare gender inversion. Sandor Clegane has a love-hate infatuation with Sansa, who seems to have mixed feelings for him, due to her false memory of their kiss. The only fully reciprocal example is Loras and Renly, which ends badly when Renly was murdered by Melisandre and the blame is pinned on his other bodyguard crush, Brienne.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: All royalty have a personal guard who they entrust with their lives. In most cases this is just a typical guard, but considering that the Dothraki follow the strongest member of the khalasar, the khal is, by definition, more badass than his bloodriders.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: King Robert Baratheon, "Greatjon" Umber, and Tormund Giantbane. Thoros of Myr and Aeron Damphair were both examples before their religious awakenings.
  • Born in the Saddle: Exaggerated Trope with the Dothraki, who essentially wear their horses as a hat. They worship horse-gods, describe everything in horse-metaphors, and are said to waddle bow-legged if they're ever forced to walk on their own two feet.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Melisandre uses the catchphrase of Jon's deceased Action Girl girlfriend, "You know nothing, Jon Snow," at the end of his first chapter in A Dance with Dragons. It's implied that she did this intentionally, since it's pretty clear she would have had no way of knowing she was in fact borrowing Ygritte's catchphrase without magic.
  • Boot Camp Episode: The first few Jon Snow chapters after he leaves for the wall.
  • Braids of Barbarism: Worn by Dothraki warriors, who give themselves an Important Haircut if they're ever defeated in battle.
  • Brawn Hilda: Brienne of Tarth and Pretty Meris.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor, poor little Arya and Sansa. The sensitive and naive Sansa especially goes through a lot of pain in the first three books. Arya suffers more overall, but copes better and becomes a Little Miss Badass.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Sansa and Arya, at the same time as their Break the Cutie.
    • Jaime Lannister got a prolonged and nasty breaking over the course of the first three books, culminating in the loss of his sword hand,
    • Tywin Lannister, who was fatally broken,
    • A Dance With Dragons: Cersei, after her humiliation before all of King's Landing. Kevan notes with some small regret that her flame had been snuffed out.
    • A Dance With Dragons: Theon is tortured to near insanity by Ramsay Bolton.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Set up from a character's first appearance and takes almost the entirety of three books to land: Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold.
    • "As useless as nipples on a breastplate" is a common saying. When Jorah joins the Second Sons, he dons a breastplate with pierced nipples.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: There are a lot of references to characters soiling themselves when faced with terrifying circumstances and/or death.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Dealt with often enough to be a running theme in the series.
    • House Targaryen wed brother to sister to keep their ancient bloodline "pure"; as a result, the "Blood of the Dragon" tends to degenerate into deformity and insanity. It also helps keep their White-Haired Pretty Boy/girl appearance. They seem to get a pass from Westerosi society despite the taboo, probably because they were the royal family and, for two-thirds of their reign, had dragons; the practice is mentioned once or twice to have been common "in old Valyria."
    • The incestuous relationship of Jaime and Cersei, which is treated as an abominable secret, in part because it would rightfully call the legitimacy of her sons into question, and probably lead Cersei's actual husband to kill them all in a fit of rage.
    • Teased when Theon flirts with Asha before he realizes that she's his sister. She's just playing along with it to see what kind of man he's grown into, and isn't particularly happy when he gropes her, but enjoys teasing him about it afterward.
    • Averted with Gendry and a prostitute who claims to be one of Robert Baratheon's bastards. Though unaware of his own connection to Robert, he rejects her rather decisively.
  • Brown Note: Various horns are thought to have a magical effect when blown.
    • Euron Greyjoy's horn, Dragonbinder, which will kill whoever blows it, but is thought to bind dragons to the will of the horn's owner.
    • The legendary Horn of Winter supposedly will bring the Wall down when it's blown. Mance Rayder arrives at the Wall with a gigantic horn that he claims is the Horn of Winter and threatens to blow it.
  • Bully Hunter: Jon is particularly eager to show up some of the nastier recruits during his training at The Wall.
  • But Not Too Bi: Oberyn Martell has a reputation for having a voracious sexual appetite that extends to both male and female partners. While the female relationships are clearly present (he has a bunch of illegitimate children from various women), the male relationships are only present as a rumor. Somewhat justified in that his gay relationships really wouldn't result in pregnancies and it's unlikely he'd be able to bring a male lover to court.
  • Butt Monkey: Several characters suffer this fate:
    • Tyrion Lannister, born a dwarf into a perfectionist family and blamed for everything. No one is more aware of this trope than him. It gets worse once he leaves Westeros.
    • Brienne of Tarth, cursed with an ugly appearance and "mannish" body, is not taken seriously either as a lady or a warrior.
    • Theon Greyjoy spends half his life as a ward of the Stark family, to keep Balon Greyjoy from causing any more trouble. Ned Stark never truly accepts him, knowing he's the son of a rebellious lord. When Theon returns home, his father rejects him as well, believing his time with the Starks has made him too soft. And then things go from bad to much, much worse.
    • Viserys Targaryen, the Beggar King, was raised to think of himself as a member of a master race and heir to a mighty nation, yet he doesn't even have his own bed. He spends his days wandering from court to court, selling his family heirlooms to survive, trying to convince someone to support his claim. His life is one long string of humiliations ending in being killed by his brother in law when he gets too uppity.
    • Quentyn Martell, who doesn't know how to talk to girls, is sent across the sea on a mission that could determine the fate of Westeros, to woo "the most beautiful woman in the world". He arrives just in time to watch her marry someone else. Things get worse for him from there. It doesn't help that he is constantly described as being less attractive than his best friend.
    • Pretty much the entire Stark family suffers one hardship after another, and the universe rarely misses an opportunity to rub salt in their wounds.
    • Lollys is a mentally challenged Fat Girl who is a universal object of derision and her gang rape is pretty much considered a joke by everyone. It says a lot that probably the best thing that's happened to her so far is her marriage to the amoral sellsword Bronn, who despite marrying her as a Meal Ticket, seems to have some fondness for her.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Stannis and Renly Baratheon, who fight over the throne. Stannis is the rightful king, but Renly is far more charismatic. Stannis seems to be the Cain in this equation, although even he may not realize it.
    • Ramsay Snow and his trueborn half-brother, Domeric Bolton. Ramsay allegedly murdered Domeric several years before the series began to eliminate his father's sole heir and legitimize himself, thereby becoming heir to the Dreadfort.
    • Gregor and Sandor Clegane, also known as the 'Mountain that Rides' and the 'Hound', respectively. They both want to kill each other, but never went that far, although Gregor left Sandor badly disfigured.
  • The Caligula:
    • King Aerys "The Mad"
    • King Joffrey Baratheon.
    • Around half the Targaryens were like this, blame the in-breeding.
    • Robert "I want to see him fly!" Arryn.
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: Lizard-lions seem to be crocodiles, and basilisks some species of large tropical lizards. A "zorse" is probably a zebra, though in real life the word is used to describe a horse/zebra hybrid.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Tyrion, with a crossbow, in the privy.
  • Came Back Wrong:
    • Catelyn Stark and Beric Dondarrion, from Thoros' magic. Beric is ressurected shortly after death, but loses more and more of his memories and life force each time. Catelyn is ressurected several days after death, leaving her a partially rotted and vengeance-fueled revenant of her former self.
    • It is strongly implied that Ser Robert Strong is Gregor Clegane reanimated by Qyburn's dark experiments. His face is hidden behind his helmet at all times and he does not seem to sleep or eat. Bran has a green dream in which a huge knight lifts his visor, but there is only blood behind it.
  • Camp Follower: Quite a few are seen due to the number of military engagements throughout the novels. Shae is the most prominent.
  • The Captain: Euron, Victarion, and Asha Greyjoy
  • Captain Obvious: Hallis Mollen is prone to this, much to Cat's annoyance.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Jeor Mormont and Alliser Thorne
  • Casanova: Robert, several years before the story began anyway. Dareon is on the more despicable side of this trope. Theon seems to have a fair amount of charm and certainly hits on every girl within reach, leading to some awkwardness when he accidentally flirts with his own sister.
  • Catch Phrase: A number of characters have them.
    • Each noble house has its own motto, often describing the "theme" of the family and serving as its collective catchphrase.
    • "A Lannister always pays his debts," said by all Lannisters as a threat (or, more rarely, a reassurance). It's even more strongly associated with the family than their official motto, "Hear me roar!"
    • "I will cut off his manhood and feed it to the goats," is said by Shagga as a Running Gag.
    • "You know nothing, Jon Snow," is Ygritte's, and it also doubles as Arc Words. It becomes a Catch Phrase for Jon himself that he repeats in his inner monologues whenever dealing with wildlings.
    • Daenerys' "I am the blood of the dragon," and when she feels a bit sarcastic, "I am only a young girl and know nothing of war, but..." She also has "If I look back, I am lost" in her internal monologues.
    • "A Khal who does not ride is no Khal".
    • "It is known".
  • The Cavalry:
    • "Renly's ghost" and the joint Lannister-Tyrell forces at the end of A Clash of Kings.
    • Stannis' army, who come to the aid of the Night's Watch at the end of A Storm of Swords.
    • Jaime rescuing Brienne from Vargo Hoat.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Repeatedly in Clash of Kings. Notably, one unit pulls this twice in the same chapter. The Flayed Man's host betray's Ser Roderik and slaughters the men he has brought to re-take Winterfell. Then turns on Theon when he allows them inside to thank them and burns Winterfell himself.
  • Celibate Hero:
    • What the Night's Watch and the Kingsguard are supposed to be. In practice? Not so much.
    • Cersei is dismayed to find out that Lancel takes this seriously once he joins the Faith Militant - and worse, he's confessed his adultery with her to the High Septon.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Some of the guns have been fired, many more are primed to go off at any moment, and there's at least one cannon that everyone's been waiting on for a while now.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Hand's Tourney's introduces a number of characters who become more important later in, including Gregor Clegane, Loras Tyrell and Beric Dondarrion.
    • The Greyjoys, Tyrells and Martells are essentially Chekhov's Houses, mentioned long before they gain plot importance.
  • Chekhov MIA:
    • Ser Barristan Selmy. In the first book, he's forced into retirement, but refuses to give up, saying he'll be in the service of the true king. In the second book, all the candidates for the Iron Throne are making much ado about his comments, wondering why he hasn't shown up anywhere. In the third book, it turns out they had the wrong continent -- he went to go serve Daenerys.
    • Benjen Stark, who vanishes under mysterious circumstances early in the first book. Epileptic Trees hold that he is the mysterious Coldhands, who was once a ranger.
    • Howland Reed, The Ghost and the only surviving person who was there at the tower of joy, when Eddard made his mysterious promise to the dying Lyanna.
    • Aegon Targaryen, who instead of being dead, was Switched At Birth with some other unfortunate infant and has been groomed by Jon Connington and others for the throne. Or is it?
    • Rickon Stark. Despite the Four Lines, All Waiting format, Rickon, Shaggydog and Osha haven't had a word of coverage since they faked his death at the end of Kings, short of a few enigmatic mentions of Summer "sensing" his brother.
    • Nymeria. Every now and then someone will make an offhand reference to an enormous horde of wolves ravaging the riverlands, led by a huge direwolf, but that's as much as we're getting for now.
  • The Chessmaster: Littlefinger, Tywin Lannister, Varys, Illyrio and Roose Bolton are the masters of this. When Tyrion tried it in book two, he did it very well until his dad Tywin interfered. Doran Martell moves his pieces with the long game in mind, but this gives a lot of time, and his pieces too much freedom, for random chance to collapse many of his plans later on. Even Sam Tarly shows remarkable promise when he fixes Jon's election as Lord Commander.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Daenerys Targaryen, Robb Stark, Bran Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Jon Snow, Tommen Baratheon, and Aegon Targaryen.
  • Child Soldiers: As in real life, squires in Westeros are expected to follow their masters into war, and often must fight by their sides in battle. Podrick Payne is a notable example.
  • The Chooser of the One: Melisandre comes to Westeros to find Azor Azai, who she identifies as Stannis.
  • The Chosen One: There's a few prophecies of this kind. Not that there's any reason they couldn't all be the same person...
    • The Prince Who Was Promised, a Targaryen prophesy of the one who will bring back the dragons.
    • Azor Ahai, a champion prophesied by the R'hllor faith to defeat the darkness.
    • The Stallion That Mounts the World, a prophesied great Dothraki leader.
  • Christmas Cake:
    • Margaery Tyrell, twice widowed and still claims to be a virgin. At the age of 16. She has a decent case, actually. Her first husband, Renly Baratheon, was assassinated only a few days after the nuptials (and was gay to boot), while her second husband Joffrey was assassinated during the nuptials. Much of Queen Cersei's time in the fourth book is spent tracking down/manufacturing proof that she is not a virgin as evidence that she has cheated on her third husband: eight-year-old King Tommen.
    • Also Arianne Martell, who is still unwed at the age of 23 in a world where marriage at 14 isn't considered unusual, although her father has ensured that she remains unmarried as part of his Batman Gambit.
    • Lollys Stokeworth is fat and simple-minded, causing her to remain unwed at the age of 33 despite her mother's best efforts to find a match. It doesn't help when she's gangraped by dozens of rioters, leaving her pregnant and emotionally fragile. Finally she settles for Bronn, who quickly works his position into a lordship by making Lollys's elder sister into a widow.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: It's rather endemic throughout Westeros.
    • People assume this of Jaime Lannister because he killed the King he swore to defend, calling him "Kingslayer," but it's something of an undeserved reputation. He had considerable justification for his regicide, and he shows great loyalty on a number of occasions.
    • Petyr Baelish's case is the worst-kept secret in Westeros. Everyone knows that he's a schemer, but they always underestimate the scope of his plans and think they can use him to their advantage. They are always dead wrong. Sometimes, they're so wrong that when he finally backstabs them, they don't even realize he was behind it.
    • Cersei becomes this out of paranoia after Joffrey's death, plotting against her most solid allies because she doesn't trust them.
  • Church Militant: Cersei frees herself of a debt to the Church by resurrecting The Swords and Stars, thereby ushering in a new era of religious zealotry. This is widely considered a terrible idea, and comes back to personally bite her in the ass.
  • The City Narrows: The Flea Bottom neighborhood of Kings' Landing is this, a crime-ridden slum (in)famous for its signature dish of brown, a stew that you don't know what or who went into it. Both Dunk and Davos grew up in this area, but managed to rise to being the friends and trusted advisers of monarchs.
  • City of Adventure: Braavos
  • City of Canals: The Free City of Braavos is loosely based on Venice.
  • The Clan: Noble houses in Westeros share physical traits and generally wear similar hats. The free folk have literal clans, most with some distinguishing feature or custom.
  • Climb Slip Hang Climb: This happens to Jon in A Clash of Kings.
  • Cliff Hanger: Most chapters end with a cliffhanger, and all the storylines of each book generally end on the biggest one.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Lysa Tully, to the point that she tries to murder her teenage niece because Littlefinger hit on her.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The shavepates are citizens of Meereen who side with Daenerys's conquering regime. They are considered traitors by the Sons of the Harpy.
  • Co-Dragons: Kettleblack brothers to Cersei. Or at least she believes them as that. Turns out, their whole family is serving Littlefinger.
  • Collectible Card Game
  • Color Motif: All the noble houses throw their heraldic colours around every chance they get. The major players at the beginning of the series are the grim, dour, "stark" Starks whose colours are grey and white, and the rich, opulent Lannisters whose colours are red and gold (which contrast plays into the whole "ice and fire" motif as well).
  • Colonel Badass: Jeor Mormont and Barristan Selmy, who hold the roughly equivalent rank of Lord Commander. Later Jaime Lannister and Jon Snow
  • Comet of Doom
  • Companion Cube: The order of guardsmen that Areo Hotah belongs to ceremonially wed their axes upon graduation; he sleeps with his by his side and refers to it as his "ash-and-iron wife".
  • Completely Unnecessary Translator: Missandei to Dany in Astapor. Dany is fluent in several languages including Valyrian, but lets the slavers assume she isn't so they'll talk freely in her presence about things they really wouldn't want her to know.
  • Conservation of Competence: This is explained (in-series) as the reason for the murder of Kevan Lannister. His leadership was threatening to restore stability to Westeros a little too quickly for the liking of some.
  • The Consigliere: Most lords have advisors, though many of these turn out to be Evil Chancellors. Honest examples include Jon Arryn/Ned to Robert, Davos to Stannis, Catelyn to Robb, Kevan to Tywin, and Jorah/Barristan to Daenerys.
  • Consummate Liar:
    • Part of Faceless Men training involves becoming one and having total control of any physical manifestation of emotion.
    • Littlefinger is a truly amazing liar, who succeeds because everyone takes his mischievous personality as the extent of his subterfuge, and boy are they wrong.
  • Continuity Nod: Plenty, but one significant one appears in A Feast for Crows, where Brienne has her shield painted to copy a sigil she saw once, the oak and falling star of Ser Duncan the Tall.
  • Convenient Coma: Bran finds out about Jaime and Cersei's adultery, and promptly (with a little help from Jaime) goes into a prolonged coma, waking with Laser-Guided Amnesia about the whole thing. All this prevents him from telling Ned, who spends the rest of the book trying to dig up the very same secret.
  • Corrupt Church: The Faith of the Seven becomes this, as the High Septon is blatantly in the pocket of the Lannisters. He is immensely overweight and goes out bedecked in rich clothing and jewels to ride through a city that is on the verge of starvation. The angry smallfolk riot and rip the man to pieces. The next High Septon is pretty much the same, though Cersei has him killed because she believed he was under Tyrion's thumb. The next man chosen due to public pressure is a lowborn reformer who is quite the ascetic Knight Templar, and proves impossible to control.
  • Country Matters: Turns up more often than not and rather matter-of-factly. Clayton Suggs calls Asha a cunt in every sentence he speaks to her. A northerner in Stannis's service drops C-bombs while beating Asha unconscious in battle, then seeks her out afterwards to apologize. Not for trying to bash her head in, but for swearing at her.
  • Courtly Love: Unsurprisingly, mostly deconstructed, especially with the several men in love with Daenerys who either want her crown, her dragons, and/or something else. However, there may be a genuine example in Ser Barristan.
  • Cowardly Lion: Sam Tarly, as well as being The So-Called Coward.
  • Crapsack World: There doesn't seem to be anywhere in the world that isn't a horrible place to live. Westeros is constantly torn apart by competing factions and threatened by monsters from beyond the Wall. Oh, and every generation there's a winter that can last for years. The Wildlings beyond the Wall live in a world of constant cold and survive by stealing things from each other, even wives. Essos is completely reliant on slaves, who are treated brutally by an outrageously perverse aristocracy, and the Dothraki willingly massacre or enslave anyone who can't pay them off. The southern continent Sothoryos is plague-ridden and apparently mostly uninhabited, with most of the known cities ruined and only two still known to be inhabited.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The Tattered Prince, who has a colorful cloak stitched from bloodstained rags of cloaks of enemies he's defeated. There's also the mountain clan The Black Ears, who wear necklaces of ears taken from men they defeat in combat—unusually for the trope, they take an ear but spare the men's lives, and welcomes them to a rematch to get their ear back. And the Boltons, of course.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: They practically abound.
    • Lyanna's "bed of blood."
    • Summerhall.
    • The Doom of Valyria.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus:
    • The Faith of the Seven, the predominant religion on Westeros, is similar to Roman Catholicism, centering around an analog of the Trinity, that has seven gods in one rather than three (the Father, Warrior, Smith, Maid, Mother, Crone, and Stranger ), and complete with monastic orders, dormant military orders, and a Pope (the High Septon). It isn't quite as intolerant as medieval Christianity, however, and more-or-less peacefully coexists with the quasi-Druidic worship of the "old gods" in the North as well as the Drowned God of the Iron Islands, at least until the revival of the Swords and Stars.
    • The Red God R'hllor (aka "The Lord of Light") is similar in many ways to Zoroastrianism, with a strong dualism between the Lord of Light and the nameless Great Other of darkness, apocalyptic theology, and religious practice that is strongly intertwined with the use and symbiology of fire.
  • Culture Clash: Part of Jon Snow's frustration with the members of Stannis' court who remain at the Wall is their complete refusal to understand that wildling society does not function like Westerosi society, particularly where it comes to inherited nobility. A wildling chief is a chief because he has proven himself to be mighty, not because his father was chief, and being a relative of a great chief means nothing at all.
  • Cultural Posturing: Usually along the lines of "We ruled an empire while you still fucked sheep".
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "I'll chop off your manhood and feed it to the goats!" Subverted in that Shagga actually means their hair.


D-F[edit | hide]

  • Damned By Faint Praise:
    • At one point, Sansa is unable to think of anything good to say about Joffrey except that he is "comely".
    • A dying Robert asks Ned if he was a good king. Honest Advisor that he is, Ned hesitates, but grants him that he was better than his predecessor Aerys.
    • Jon Connington has faint praise for Rolly Duckfield and fears that Young Griff will have soon have six such men as his kingsguard, "each more blindingly adequate than the last."
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Jaime, after losing his sword hand.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Mance Rayder. Also the Night's Watch deserter who attacks Bran and briefly holds him hostage. In the quote for the trope, Ned explains that deserters are the most dangerous kind of outlaws, because once a man has broken a sacred oath, he's proven himself capable of just about any crime.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Night's Watch. The Faceless Men are arguably an example of this (their white-and-black outfits indicate a tendency to think of themselves as both dark and light), as a shadowy group of death-worshipping assassins who provide euthanasia to those who wish for death. They also commit assassinations, but they only kill those who have driven others to pray (or pay) for their deaths, prefer not to kill someone they personally know, and are very strict about avoiding collateral damage.
  • Dark Messiah:
    • Azor Azai may be one of these. He'll apparently kill his true love for power, and the R'hllor religion already has a lot of moral ambiguity.
    • The Dothraki's Stallion Who Mounts The World will, as the name clearly states, figuratively fuck the world.
  • Dead Little Sister: Lyanna Stark to Eddard; the unnamed sister of Sandor Clegane. And that's just the literal examples.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: King's Landing. Daenerys' court in Meereen is significantly more decadent, though she's constantly struggling to make it less so.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tyrion Lannister, Jaime Lannister and Dolorous Edd are the most obvious examples.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Ramsay as "Reek" in A Clash of Kings, allowing him to escape punishment for his crimes; Jaqen/The Alchemist masquerading as Pate in A Feast for Crows, in a Kill and Replace variant. Later on, Theon is forced to pretend to be Reek on pain of having his fingers flayed off.
    • Jeyne Poole is similarly forced to pretend to be Arya, on pain of a punishment that even George R.R. Martin won't put down on the page.
  • Death by Childbirth: The source of Oedipus Complex for the runt of the Lannister litter, Tyrion. Also Daenerys, whose mother's death by childbirth is the reason for her abuse by her older brother. And probably Lyanna. Any number of other characters in the background as well, such as Minissa Tully, wife of Lord Hoster Tully and mother of Edmure Tully, Lysa Arryn, and Catelyn Stark.
  • Death by Irony:
    • Tywin Lannister doesn't shit gold. Viserys Targaryen receives a fatal crown. Quentyn receives his dragons business-end first. Kevan Lannister follows his brother even in the method of his death.
    • Eddard Stark is beheaded as a "traitor" of his country. In his first appearance, he beheads a deserter of the Night's Watch.
    • Lysa Arryn is pushed out the Moon Door almost immediately after trying to do the same to her niece for being kissed by her husband, Petyr. And Petyr's not only the one who convinced her to kill her first husband, but also the one who ultimately pushes her out the Moon Door.
  • Death Glare: Tywin Lannister, who has never smiled since his wife died decades ago. Cersei relates a story of how a man at a feast once made an off-hand joke at his expense, causing Tywin to drive him from the room simply by glaring at him across the table, not saying a word.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Every prologue and epilogue chapter is from the POV of a character who has either never been seen before or appeared as a tertiary character at best, and they all die. A notable exception is Kevan Lannister, who has been around since book one and is Lord Regent when he falls to this trope
  • Death of the Old Gods: The Faith of the Seven replacing the Old Gods for most of Westeros; most of the remaining worshippers are up north.
  • Debt Detester: The Lannisters.
  • Deconstructed Trope:
  • Decoy Protagonist: Willas, the POV character of the A Game Of Thrones prologue, is dead by the end of the chapter. Eddard Stark doesn't survive the first book. A Game of Thrones even has the trope's inversion, a Decoy Antagonist, in Viserys.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: Tywin Lannister sets one up in his first battle against the Stark forces. It turns out not to be necessary.
  • Defiled Forever: Lollys Stokeworth wasn't much of a catch to begin with, but several characters note that she lost all hope of finding a husband after being raped during a riot in King's Landing. Somewhat subverted in that Tyrion marries her off to a newly-lorded Bronn, who isn't interested in anything but her inheritance.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: All over the place. One of the series' most notable features, as one of Martin's primary goals in writing the series to deconstruct the tropes of heroic fantasy and indicate why a realistic medieval fantasy setting would not actually be a nice place to live. It's especially notable in the Slaver's Bay chapters. The Ghiscari descendants eat delicacies like unborn puppies on a skewer, and their fighting pits include spectacles in which girls are pitted against bulls or boys covered in various foodstuffs set against bears so viewers may bet which child will the bear eat first.
  • Democracy Is Bad: In a case of Deliberate Values Dissonance, in one of his POV chapters in A Game Of Thrones, Tyrion thinks about how the Mountain Clans don't get anything done because they put issues to popular vote. Tyrion finds it particularly ridiculous that they also allow women a say in these discussions.
  • Demoted to Extra: Arguably, Aggo, Jhogo and Rakharo, Daenerys' bloodriders. Yeah, they were minor characters to begin with, and even though they were the first to swear fealty to her, along with Jorah Mormont, their influence is less and less as Daenerys gains power and her court increases.
  • Deus Sex Machina: Melisandre's ability to birth Living Shadow assassins is implied to require this as part of the ritual.
  • Development Hell: A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons both took several years to write, causing some fans to call foul. Each book was eventually completed, however.
  • The Determinator: Stannis Baratheon. He has the smallest army and the least popularity at the onset of the War of Five Kings. He doesn't especially want to be become king, but his stubborn tenacity to do his duty prevents him from giving up hope, even after a number of hardships and set-backs. He's the last of the Five Kings standing, though other rivals rise up to continue thwarting him.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina:
    • When Ramsay Snow turns up at the end of A Clash of Kings and destroys Winterfell with an army he's managed to recruit from the Dreadfort.
    • Tyrion's life takes a turn for the worse twice thanks to being in the wrong tavern at the wrong time. The first is when Catelyn Stark captures him on her way back to Winterfell in the first book and the second is when he is captured by Jorah Mormont in a brothel he randomly visits in one of the Free Cities.
    • In A Dance With Dragons, right when it looks like Jon Snow might finally have brokered peace with the wildlings, manned the Wall, and given the Watch a fighting chance against the Others, Ramsay Bolton sends him a letter saying that he has killed Stannis and all his host. His own brothers turn on him and stab him multiple times, leaving his fate uncertain.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Sam Tarly kills an Other when he stabs it with the first thing to hand, a dragonglass dagger. He puts it all down to luck, and assumes everyone who calls him "Sam the Slayer" is mocking him, even though he personally discovered their sole Kryptonite Factor.
  • Disability Superpower:
    • Bran quickly learns to use his warg abilities after losing the use of his legs.
    • Arya is intentionally (and temporarily) blinded during her training in order to teach her to use her other senses. This has the unintended effect of awakening her dormant skinchanger abilities when she learns to see through the eyes of nearby animals.
  • Disease Bleach: Lancel Lannister. Theon Greyjoy in A Dance with Dragons.
  • Disney Villain Death: Anyone who annoys Lysa or Robert Arryn goes out the Moon Door. "I want to see the bad man fly, mummy!"
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Sandor Clegane's facial burns. His brother Gregor punished him for playing with a discarded toy, pressing him face-down on burning coals. The Red Wedding is another example: Walder Frey has Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn and half his bannermen murdered because Robb broke a promise to marry one of Frey's daughters.
    • Lady Barbrey Dustin resents the fact that she doesn't get to marry any of the Starks. She responds by backing the Boltons in their attempt to destroy the Starks. She plans to feed Ned Stark's bones to her dogs.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Tyrion put up with constant abuse and ridicule by his family, and stayed loyal to them, but finally snapped after Joffrey constantly abused him, Cersei kept treating him like shit and undermining him when he tried to help her run the kingdom, his father was willing to have him executed, and finally, discovering that Jaime and his father had lied about his wife being a whore. He killed his father and now he's trying to join their enemies.
  • Doorstopper: The books are huge even for epic fantasy, and the latest had to be split in two because it was too big to bind. Even more for the German version, where they split the books in half by default and each of the German half-books are equal in size to a full English one.
    • A Storm of Sword and A Dance with Dragons are split in three parts in the Italian version.
  • The Dragon: Qyburn to Cersei, Gregor Clegane to Tywin.
  • Dragon Rider: House Targaryen conquered Westeros through this tactic, riding their dragons into war.
  • Dramatic Irony: When Arya, in the guise of Nan, Roose Bolton's cupbearer, wished that the princess to whom Elmar Frey had been betrothed would die, neither she nor Elmar were aware that she herself was the princess in question. Jorah's duplicity is revealed to the reader a full two and a half books before it's revealed to Daenerys, although a lot of readers seem to miss it. After Cersei's ordeal in A Dance With Dragons, Kevan remarks that she's been "declawed", but the reader (who was in her head for said ordeal) knows that she's only been given renewed vigor by the arrival of Ser Robert Strong.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Alliser Thorne.
  • Drop the Hammer: King Robert's Weapon of Choice.
  • The Dung Ages: By book 4, nearly all of the struggling smallfolk are living in constant fear of torture and rape. Life isn't pleasant when you're a peasant.
  • Dying Clue: In Storm of Swords, Hoster Tully's last word is "Tansy", which all of his family is baffled by. They spend a few chapters looking around for someone named "Tansy" before giving up. Then at the end, it's revealed that he forced his daughter Lysa to drink tansy tea (an abortive drug) after he found out that she was pregnant with Littlefinger's child. Lysa and Littlefinger have been lovers since the first book...which is why Lysa killed Jon Arryn.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight:
  • Early Installment Weirdness: A few examples in A Game of Thrones. Ned mentions that Jaime is the heir to Casterly Rock, but the Kingsguard are later said to forswear all titles as the Night's Watch do—indeed, this becomes a major plot point for Jaime himself.
  • The Eeyore: Dolorous Edd is always making humorously pessimistic comments. It's unclear whether he's a genuine curmudgeon or just a very Deadpan Snarker.
  • El Cid Ploy:
    • In the Battle on the Blackwater, the "ghost of Renly" is actually Garlan Tyrell wearing his king's armour to inspire the allied troops and confuse the enemy.
    • An Astapori army is defeated when the Butcher King is slain, and it's revealed that he's actually a rotting corpse tied to his horse.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Guildhall of the Alchemists is a labyrinth of underground tunnels and halls in black marble. This is justified as they make wildfire down there; if the blaze goes out of control, the labyrinth is to slow its progress, and the experiment rooms are situated below rooms full of sand that are designed to collapse and smother everything down there.
  • Enemy Mine: Jaime and Brienne's team-up; Arya's brief stint in the company of the Hound could also qualify, since she passed up several chances to run away, and continued to help him until his death seemed imminent. Jon Snow invokes this for cooperation with the Wildlings, which is not popular with most of the Night's Watch.
  • Enforced Method Acting: An in-universe example. During a major battle at the end of the first book, Lord Tywin Lannister tries to lure Robb Stark's army into a trap by having one flank of his own army crumble under assault, with the pikemen to sweep in after the Northmen over-commit themselves. To accomplish this, he composes that flank solely of irregular troops and green recruits, gives command to his worst commander, and sticks in his hated son Tyrion for good measure.
  • Especially You: An exchange Mance Rayder has with Tormund Giantsbane on two occasions in which he (Mance) tells other wildlings to leave so he can talk privately with Jon Snow. In both instances, Tormund asks, "Even me?" and Mance replies "Particularly you."
  • Equivalent Exchange: Only life can pay for life. Jaqen H'ghar, Mirri Maz Duur and Melisandre all assert this, and most magic seems to follow the rule.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Westeros is a pretty ruthless place, but some things are considered beyond the pale.
    • While slavery is practiced on the eastern continent, it is outlawed in Westeros and punishable by death. Even the Ironborn, who make "thralls" and "salt wives" (concubines) of their prisoners, are offended by the concept of chattel slavery. Children of thralls are born free, and some of the Iron Islands houses are descended from thralls.
    • The Red Wedding, engineered by Tywin Lannister, was a maneuver by the Boltons and Freys to destroy the Northern Army, which relied on assasinating the higherups of that army, including Robb and Catelyn Stark, by attacking them at dinner, which is a violation of Guest Right, the "hospitality laws" that have been followed for thousands of years. Virtually everyone else in the realm in-universe thinks the entire House of Frey is composed of faithless Complete Monsters afterwards.
    • As a Blood Knight with redeeming qualities, Jaime Lannister may commit or attempt murder for reasons of varying morality: however, he would never kill by trickery or use assassins to do his killing for him.
    • A weird example occurs in A Dance With Dragons with Stannis' snowbound army, whose R'hllor-worshipping commanding officers execute four soldiers found eating a dead man...by burning them alive in a sacrifice to the Lord of Light
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": There have been three High Septons so far, and none of them are even given names.
  • Evil Albino: Peasants believe that Ser Brynden Rivers, an albino bastard, is the Evil Chancellor (Master of Whisperers, then Hand of the King) to King Aerys I. It turns out that he became a greenseer long ago, so he was apparently never all that bad.
  • Evil Chancellor: Most chancellors are really after their own ends.
    • Littlefinger and Varys are always suspected of manipulating events for their own ends. These suspicions are completely correct.
    • Tywin Lannister has a fearsome reputation, and it's justified, but the land prospered during his original service as Hand, and the people loved him for it.
    • Tyrion is viewed as this by the smallfolk, but in reality he's the only thing standing between the realm and certain destruction. After Tyrion kills his father and goes missing, the situation in King's Landing deteriorates quickly.
    • King Aerys's final chancellor (after he had killed several others) was Lord Rossart, who was an evil chancellor because of how well he advanced the king's interests, being an insane Pyromaniac just like Aerys.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Sansa's aunt Lysa. They both fell in love with the wrong kind of man except Lysa never learns and becomes Littlefinger's willing pawn going so far as killing her husband Jon.
    • Ramsay Snow and Jon Snow are both bastards. While Jon befriends his half-brothers, Ramsay kills his father's only legitimate heir. While Jon joins the Night's Watch in pursuit of honor, Ramsay razes Winterfell, Jon's home.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The direwolves, if their owners would only listen to them.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Others.
  • Evil Is Dumb: Viserys, Joffrey, and Theon. Averted a lot by Tywin and Littlefinger.
  • Evil Matriarch: Cersei Lannister.
  • Evil Old Folks: Walder Frey, Olenna Tyrell, Craster. Though Olenna isn't so much evil as manipulative.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Melisandre, though she claims to be acting for the good of humanity against an Obviously Evil foe. Her chapter in A Dance With Dragons arguably makes her quite a bit more sympathetic, as it indicates that there may be some truth to these claims. The sorcerers of Qarth also seem to be pretty self-serving and malicious.
  • Evil Uncle: Stannis, Renly, Jaime, Euron Greyjoy, Arnolf Karstark and Tyrion are all more or less perceived as this. But things aren't that simple in regards to some of them.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The War of the Five Kings is a prolonged conflict with many, many atrocities committed by both sides. Ultimately a case is made that all armies are essentially evil to the poor peasants who get caught in the middle of every conflict.
  • Evil Will Fail: Many of the worst characters who meet poor ends do so as a direct result of their horrible actions.
    • Joffrey Baratheon is murdered because his wife's family recognizes him as Obviously Evil.
    • Tywin Lannister is murdered because of his continously callous treatment of his son.
    • Gregor Clegane is killed horribly out of revenge for an old atrocity.
    • Cersei Lannister has her reign of terror ended quickly due to her pointlessly cruel rule.
    • The Bloody Mummers alienate all possible allies by their constant treacheries. They are also among the most sadistic and violent characters in the whole series. Vargo Hoat deserves special mention. He had Jaime's sword hand chopped off, then tried to rape Brienne. Brienne responded by biting off his ear. Roose Bolton arranged for Vargo's maester to leave with Jaime to tend to his stump, and without proper medical attention, Vargo's bite wound gets infected, leading to fever and delirium, and most of Vargo's men abandon him.
  • Exact Words:
    • No blood can be shed in the Vaes Dothrak, the Dothraki people's holy city. So when Khal Drogo wants to kill Viserys, he does it by dumping a pot of molten gold over his head, ensuring no blood is spilled.
    • Also, it is Ironborn code that "Ironborn shall not spill the blood of Ironborn." So what does Euron do to his enemies? Drowns them in seawater.
    • Used for a darkly humorous moment in the epilogue of the third book, when the Brotherhood Without Banners captures Merrett Frey. Lem Lemoncloak is preparing to hang him, but Tom Sevenstrings presses him for information about the war, promising to tell Lem to let him go if he tells them anything useful. Merrett cooperates, so Tom honors his promise. He tells Lem to let him go, and Lem tells him to go bugger himself. He shrugs and sits back to enjoy the show.
  • Extranormal Institute: The Citadel.
  • Explicit Content: The sex scenes in the series tend toward the explicit, though often they're intentionally un-arousing, so that the word porn seems a bit inappropriate.
  • Expy: The Brotherhood Without Banners is, to some extent, an Expy of Robin Hood's Merry Men. Though they're not an exact match-up, there are a few analogues like an archer (Robin/Anguy), a jolly priest (Friar Tuck/Thoros of Myr), a singer (Alan-a-Dale/Tom Sevenstrings), a feisty noblewoman (Maid Marian/ Catelyn Stark), and a guy named for his colorful cloak (Will Scarlet/Lem Lemoncloak). They are an extremely cynical interpretation, however, as it becomes increasingly evident by A Feast For Crows that they have gone from protectors of the smallfolk to just plain old bandits and the ones that haven't have become Knight Templars out for revenge against the Lannisters and Freys
  • Eyepatch of Power: Euron Greyjoy wears an eyepatch over his mysterious "Crow's Eye."
  • Facial Horror
    • Sandor Clegane's brother held his face in a fire as a child, leaving him with horrific burns that Sansa Stark, for one, can barely bring herself to look at.
    • Dagmer Cleftjaw's injury is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, the result of an axe blow.
    • Tyrion with his misshapen head, odd eyes, and after the Battle of Blackwater, next to no nose
  • Failure Knight: Brienne, Jorah Mormont, Barristan Selmy, and Jon Connington. Cruelly subverted, however, with Ser Dontos, who is forced to become Joffrey's jester and then killed by his secret employer Littlefinger.
  • The Fair Folk: Two possible examples:
    • The Others are tall, slender, magical, malevolent creatures who live in the inhospitable north and prey on humans for no comprehensible reason. They also apparently take human children offered to them, somewhat reminiscent of changelings.
    • The children of the forest are a race of small, mysterious, magical, forest-dwelling people who came into conflict with humans many generations ago. They live for hundreds of years and have a great deal of power, but their time is drawing to a close.
  • Fake Defector:
    • When Theon takes over Winterfell, Osha pretends to join him, and then takes the opportunity to kill some of his men and smuggle Bran and Rickon to safety.
    • Jon Snow fakes a switch over to the wildlings at the insistence of Qhorin Halfhand. He even thinks of becoming a real defector until the wildlings test his loyalty by ordering him to kill a man whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    • The Tattered Prince has some of his Windblown fake defection to Dany's forces, but gets a surprise when some of his men, including Quentyn Martell, defect for real, having only been masquerading as sellswords to gain entrance to Meereen.
  • Fallen Princess: Sansa Stark and Margaery Tyrell.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The King's advisors have titles like "Master of Laws" (i.e. attorney general or justice minister), "Master of Coins" (i.e. secretary of trade or finance minister), and "Master of Ships" (i.e. secretary of the navy). In A Feast For Crows, Cersei prefers a more grandiose approach, and so changes the titles to be unique; Master of Ships, for example, becomes Grand Admiral.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Lots and lots. Much of Westeros and the outlying lands seem to have been inspired by a real-world culture, Expy, or simply a well-worn fantasy trope. The most obvious are:
    • The Dothraki are based on the Mongols, Alans, Huns, Thracians, and Turkic peoples.
    • Valyria is a fallen empire modeled on Rome, with some Atlantis/Lemuria thrown in.
    • The Free Cities are loosely based on the medieval Italian city-states (including Italian-sounding names) and some elements of Ancient Greek culture, with Braavos being a City of Canals like Venice and Volantis having a oligarchical form of democracy. They even speak a language descended from Old Valyrian.
    • Old Ghis is a blatant counterpart of Carthage, right down to its rivalry with Valyria, the counterpart of Rome. The Slaver Cities—Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen—are reminiscent of other ancient Phoenician city-states, particularly Tyre and Sidon. Likewise, Qarth seems to share a great deal with ancient Baghdad.
    • Westeros as a whole has many similarities to Britain, including waves of conquering cultures (e.g. Aegon as William the Conqueror) and a wall up in the cold north to keep out barbarians. Specific regions tend to show their own influences:
      • the North—Northern England and Southern Scotland
      • the Iron Islands—Viking Scandinavia
      • the Riverlands—Medieval Northern France (Anjou, Blois, Burgundy, Brittany, Champagne, Flanders, Maine, Normandy, and Touraine)
      • the Vale—The Alps
      • the Westerlands—Southern England
      • the Stormlands—Medieval Christian Spain (Galicia-Leon, Castile, Aragon, Navarra and the Catalan Countries)
      • the Reach—Medieval Southern France (Aquitaine, Gascony, Limoges, Marches, Perigord, Poitou and Toulouse)
      • Dorne—Moorish Spain/the Mediterranean, although oddly, it's also one for Wales, in terms of its relation to the rest of the kingdom. Like Wales, it has significant cultural differences and used to be an independent area. Also, as is true of Dorne, the leader of Medieval Wales styled themselves as Prince rather than King.
      • Beyond the Wall—Northern Scotland; the Northern mountain clans are reminiscent of Scottish Highland Clans
    • Yi Ti is most likely inspired by ancient China, although it is only mentioned a few times.
    • Asshai and its native religion were probably inspired by Persia and its native religion, Zoroastrianism.
    • The rarely-mentioned southern continent Sothoros is roughly analogous to Africa during this time period.
  • Fat Best Friend: Samwell Tarly, having terrible self esteem due to being constantly demeaned by his abusive father. Jon and others have tried to make him feel better about himself but it hasn't really taken yet.
  • Fat Idiot: Lysa Arryn for sure. Also Mace Tyrell. Subverted with Samwell Tarly. Sam is fat and timid...but stupid he isn't. Also subverted, and Lampshaded, with Lord Wyman Manderly: he tells Ser Davos Seaworth that because he is fat, everyone thinks he is also stupid, and he lets them believe that so he can more easily manipulate them.
  • Fatal Flaw
    • Eddard and Robb's Honor Before Reason.
    • Theon Greyjoy's need for someone's approval.
    • Lysa Arryn's need to overshadow her sister.
    • Robert Baratheon's depression over his lost love.
    • Tywin Lannister's obsession with the dignity of the Lannister name, including his irrational hate for Tyrion.
    • Cersei's obsession to Screw Destiny regarding the prophecy that a younger woman would unseat her as queen, her sociopathic protection of her children and her Brother-Sister Incest with Jaime.
    • Brienne's need to complete her quest of rescuing Arya even though she no longer wants to.
    • Viserys' refusal to get along with the Dothraki.
    • Tyrion and his big mouth. Maybe his penchant for whores too.
  • Feed the Mole: Tyrion shares his plans with three people he suspects are in the employ of Cersei. However, he told each person something different, and when Cersei confronts him, her response inadvertently reveals the source of the leak.
  • Femme Fatale: Cersei Lannister.
  • Fence Painting: Eventually subverted.
  • Feuding Families: Fantasy version of the War of the Roses with even more factions. The feuding Stark and Lannister families sound noticeably similar to the historical York and Lancaster families, though their closer fictional counterparts would be Baratheon and Targaryen, respectively. Other noble houses have their own grudges, such as the Blackwoods and the Brackens.
  • Field Promotion: Jon Snow gets a huge one. Davos gets an even bigger one. In "The Hedge Knight," Raymun Fossaway gets knighted in an impromptu ceremony so he can participate in a trial by combat.
  • Finger in the Mail: In A Storm of Swords, The Brave Companions cut off The Kingslayer's sword hand, intending to send it to his father with a ransom demand. In A Dance With Dragons, Ramsay reveals that Theon is still alive by sending pieces of flayed skin to different family members.
  • Fingore
  • First Episode Spoiler:
    • Revealed in the first few chapters: Jaime and Cersei Lannister are screwing each other.
    • Revealed in the first book: Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark, two major characters, die. Also, dragons return to the world.
  • First-Name Basis: Jaime and Brienne (once they stop calling each other "wench" and "Kingslayer", that is), Tyrion and Bronn.
  • Five-Man Band: Quentyn Martell's group:
    • The Hero: Quentyn sees himself as such, even though he's a deconstruction of the trope. In practice, he's basically The Chick
    • The Lancer: Ser Gerris Drinkwater
    • The Big Guy: Ser Archibald Yronwood, who even gets the nickname "Big Man".
    • The Smart Guy: Maester Kedry
  • Flaming Sword: There are three different varieties: Thoros of Myr buys cheap swords and coats them in wildfire (a mysterious alchemical substance) for battles and melees. Stannis Baratheon's Lightbringer is a magical sword that appears to be on fire, but the fire sheds no heat and has been suggested to be a glamour of Melisandre's. Beric Dondarrion makes a real flaming sword with his own blood and the magical power of R'hllor.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Jeyne Westerling and Robb. Causes no end of trouble, as his existing betrothal was the lynchpin of a political alliance.
  • Flower Motifs: The winter rose symbolising doomed and forbidden love for the Starks. Also, the Tyrells have the rose as their heraldic symbol and therefore use flowers to symbolize all kinds of things, much like the Animal Motifs of the other houses.
  • Food Porn: Martin has been quoted to have never encountered food that he didn't like. This is reflected in how mouth-watering his feast scenes tend to be. On the rare occasions when they aren't mouth-watering, it's usually a sign that something bad is about to happen; see, for instance, the Red Wedding. A Feast For Crows, ironically, is an exception to this. Instead we're treated to Livery Porn.
  • Foreign Money Is Proof of Guilt: Cersei discovers one of the jailers who was guarding Tyrion had some gold pieces that might have come from House Tyrell, who were trying to marry their daughter to her son. Since Tyrion just murdered their father and escaped after being found guilty for killing Cersei's other son, Joffrey, this makes her suspect the Tyrells of having bribed the jailer to free Tyrion, even though Lord Tyrell wants Tyrion dead since his daughter could have died at his hands.
  • Foreshadowing: Hallyne the Pyromancer, an alchemist, tells Tyrion that their increased efficiency at creating wildfire is because their spells are more effective, and not seen since the days of the last dragons, lampshading the relationship between dragons and magic in the world.
  • Fork Fencing: Tyrion annoys a particularly humourless member of the Night's Watch with the trope. When the knight leaves in a huff, Tyrion claims his share of dinner.
  • For Science!: Qyburn performed medical atrocities at the Citadel to gain more information about life and healing. In Cersei's service, he's able to continue his research with a project to create an undefeatable warrior, while also serving as a Torture Technician on the side.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: The gods (by region) seem to fall into this.
    • Fire: R'hllor, the Red God
    • Water: The Drowned God
    • Earth: The nameless gods of the North. A little more subtle about their element until the greenseers are introduced in A Dance With Dragons.
    • Air: Not as clear. Possibly the Seven gods of Westeros. Possibly the Many-Faced God, due to his association with illusions and deception.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: The series is filled with a dozen plotlines. The series as a whole is arguable Three Lines All Waiting, with the major plotlines being the Others in the North, politics in the south, and Dany's invasion plans across the narrow sea. By now there are so many that a majority of the draft fourth book ended up being split geographically into A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons (both Doorstoppers in their own right).
  • Four-Star Badass: Tywin. Not that it excuses his personality in everyday life. The same goes for Randyll Tarly.
  • Freak-Out: Catelyn Stark comes Back from the Dead as an absolutely pitiless Knight Templar.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Varamyr Sixskins' backstory.
  • The Fundamentalist:
    • Melisandre is out to spread the good news about R'hllor. The good news is that all your false gods will be thrown in a fire. The bad news is you might just join them if you protest too loudly.
    • Moqorro, another priest of R'hllor, feels perfectly comfortable telling the Ironborn captain whom he serves that the Drowned God is a demon.
    • Those of Stannis' men who worship R'hllor are called "the queen's men," due to Stannis' wife Queen Selyse being a fundamentalist supporters of the new religion. Some people suspect that they even favor Melisandre above their own queen due to her power and influence.
    • Aeron Greyjoy, who found religion after a near-death experience. His insistence on drowning unbelievers extends farther than even murderous raiders care to go.
    • Also, the current High Septon has ushered in a new era of fundamentalism for worshippers of the Seven, considering R'hllor (and possibly the Old Gods) to be blasphemous, reintroducing the Church Militant, and arresting the Queen Mother for adultery.
  • Full-Name Basis: Ygritte with Jon Snow.
  • Funetik Aksent: Sometimes averted. Many characters are described as having an accent, but this is never conveyed through spelling. Some characters from foreign cultures, such as the Free Cities, will use eccentric or crude syntax instead. However, the trope ith played thtraight with Vargo Hoat, leader of the Bloody Mummerth, who thpeakth with a thignificant lithp.


G-I[edit | hide]

  • Gambit Pileup: Everyone has lots of plans, often changing them on the fly. Some are more skilled than others.
  • Genius Bruiser: Archmaester Marwyn. He's described as looking more like a dockside thug than one of the leaders of an order dedicated to scholarly knowledge, short and muscular with a rock-hard ale belly and a broken nose.
  • Genre Deconstruction: The series has been described as a deconstruction of High Fantasy.
  • Genre Shift: The Hedge Knight.
  • Gentle Giant: Hodor, and to an extent, Small Paul. Fantastically averted with Gregor Clegane. Wun Wun fits this unless threatened, and is a giant even by the standards of actual giants. Interestingly, giants in in-universe legend are bloodthirsty maneaters, but the actual giants are vegetarians.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Tyrion to Penny.
  • Get Thee to a Nunnery: Used deliberately, due to the story's medieval setting. A man having "horns" means his wife is cheating on him. And there's the occasional Double Entendre that could have come straight out of a Shakespeare comedy;

Varys: "You can match the queen coin for coin, but she has a second purse that is quite inexhaustible."

  • The Ghost: Howland Reed, mainly because he's the only one left who knows the nature of the promise Eddard made to Lyanna.
  • Gilded Cage: Arianne Martell is imprisoned in one by her father, as are the Sand Snakes. Sansa starts in one which rapidly deteriorates.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Sansa and Arya Stark, played fairly seriously but not quite to the level of Cain and Abel.
  • God Save Us From the Queen: Cersei Lannister, who will let the world burn to protect her children and keep herself at the top of the heap.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Lynesse Hightower, Jorah Mormont's second wife. When the money ran out, she left him for a wealthy merchant prince of Lys.
    • Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, who marries Lollys Stokeworth for her inheritance (money, land, a proper title) and then sets about hastening that inheritance...
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny
  • Gold Tooth:
    • The Faceless Man calling himself the Alchemist, which is probably a clue that he's Jaqen H'ghar, since Jaqen's second identity is described with practically identical features.
    • Daario Naharis has one.
    • Presumably using the money Tyrion gave him, Mord gets a bunch of gold teeth. It doesn't improve his appearance any.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Maester Aemon sends out so many requests for men for the Wall for so long that most of the characters, not to mention the readers, have given up on anyone answering by the time Stannis shows up.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: During their confrontation in the Godswood, Cersei tells Ned that Robert impregnated her at one point, but she had the child aborted.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Ned Stark's advice is often dismissed as just being Honor Before Reason, but there are often very good reasons for his choices.
    • He strongly protests Dany's assassination attempt and is called an honorable fool for it, but if they had followed his advice Drogo wouldn't have had any reason to care about invading Westeros, never would have run afoul of Mirri Maaz Duur, never would have hatched the dragon eggs in his pyre. Dany and Drogo would probably have just led a simple life of horsemeat and the occasional raiding, raising their kids.
    • He doesn't back Renly's bid for the throne, but Renly's a diplomat with no combat experience in a situation that will require winning a war. Sure enough Renly does nothing but divide the forces against the Lannisters. He also does not have a right to be king at the time, and you can't kick Joffrey off the throne because he's not the rightful king and replace him with someone else who isn't the rightful king.
  • Good Shepherd:
    • The wandering priest, Septon Meribald, who is encountered by Brienne in the fourth volume.
    • The Elder Brother, who Brienne encounters in the fourth volume is also one of these, although he has a Dark and Troubled Past as a soldier prior to his Heel Faith Turn.
    • Thoros of Myr is a borderline example. He started out as a Boisterous Bruiser lecherous priest who was a nice guy, but later on has a Heel Faith Turn, and around this time joined a group of outlaws whose goal was to protect the smallfolk. What makes him borderline is that those outlaws become increasingly knight templarish over time, and while Thoros does not approve of this, he doesn't do anything to stop it (in part because the deity he believes in is not particularly merciful).
  • Government in Exile: The Targaryens.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Due to the moral ambiguity of many characters, there are often very sympathetic characters on opposite sides of conflicts. For example, the Battle of the Blackwater is shown mostly from Tyrion and Davos's perspectives on opposite sides.
  • Grave Clouds: At Tywin's funeral.
  • Grim Up North: The Wall is there for a reason.
  • Groin Attack: A Dance With Dragons strongly implies that Theon has been castrated by Ramsay.
  • The Grotesque: Tyrion Lannister, Sandor Clegane, and undead Catelyn. Possibly Loras Tyrell if he lives. Brienne is noted to look somewhat strange in Jaime's sole chapter in A Dance With Dragons. Theon Greyjoy, after his torture and abuse.
  • Guile Hero: Jaqen H'ghar's three-life debt to Arya plays out like a typical Guile Hero folktale - she wastes the first two deaths on cruel yet unimportant people, but eventually realises that what she really wants can't be achieved through murder alone, so she tells him to kill himself, and promises to revoke the order if he helps her free Harrenhal's prisoners.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Legend holds that giants from the north can interbreed with humans. Wildlings sometimes suspect particularly large people of having giant blood in their ancestry. Supposedly, only male humans and female giants can interbreed successfully.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Jaime and Cersei Lannister.
  • Happily Married: Eddard and Catelyn Stark, at least if little Jon Snow is staying out of the way.
  • Harmful to Minors: Fifteen year old Robb Stark leads an army against the king. Fifteen year old Jon Snow joins the Night's Watch and becomes Lord Commander at sixteen. Thirteen year old Dany is married to a man probably more twice her age and gets pregnant at fourteen. Twelve year old Sansa is married off to Tyrion. Nine/ten year old Arya joins a guild of assassins/death-worshipers.
  • Haunted Castle:
    • Harrenhal has this reputation, partially because the Targaryens used dragons to roast the castle's holders alive centuries ago, and partially because most of the people who hold the castle end up experiencing misfortune (Janos Slynt got sent up to join the Night's Watch, Amory Lorch got thrown in the bear pit when the castle was taken, Vargo Hoat had his limbs chopped off and fed to him by Gregor Clegane, and so on. Littlefinger's currently alright, but he hasn't set foot in the place yet.)
    • The Nightfort on the Wall is thought by the black brothers to be haunted by the ghost of the Rat King.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The writing style occasionally uses somewhat antiquated expressions, probably in an attempt to sound more historical. The word "queer" is used its original sense of "strange."
  • Heal It with Fire: The Dothraki and Ironborn frequently use fire to cauterize serious wounds, and boiling wine is sometimes used to clean out nasty gashes. In a more fantastic case, Victarion's hand develops an infection so bad that a maester insists he must choose between amputation and death. The red priest Moqorro instead uses fire-magic to not only heal the arm, but make it inhumanly strong.
  • Heel Faith Turn: Thoros of Myr, Lancel Lannister, and Aeron Greyjoy provide twisted examples of this. All of them experience religious awakenings and put aside things like carousing and womanizing, but there's a good argument that all end up as worse people because of it.
  • Hellhole Prison: Pretty much every dungeon is one of these. The Eyrie has cells with a sloping floor and no wall overlooking a massive drop. Sweetsister has cells that are halfway below high tide, so the prisoner has to keep their head above water the whole time. King's Landing has several levels which get worse as you go down, ending in the Black Cells, which Cersei makes even worse by leaving them in the hands of her Playing with Syringes Torture Technician. While not yet shown in-series, Casterly Rock seems to have particularly horrific ones, as on several occasions, a Lannister will note that a (really bad) prison cell is a Luxury Prison Suite compared to the ones at Casterly Rock.
  • Helping Hands: After Jon hacks the arm off a wight, he notices it clawing its way up his leg.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Aegon the Conquerer and his descendants ruled Westeros from the backs of their dragons, but by the time of the series dragons have been extinct for some time. They leave behind their skeletons (the skulls are kept as heirlooms, and the rest of their bones make for excellent bows and dagger hilts,) and fossilized eggs, which are considered beautiful and beyond price. Daenerys hatches three of the fossilized eggs at the end of the first book.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: The wildlings explicitly favor those "kissed by fire" as lucky.
  • Heroic Albino: Ghost, Jon Snow's albino direwolf companion.
  • Heroic Bastard:
    • Jon Snow, whose parentage is subject to wild mass guessing by the fanbase but is "officially" Ned's bastard by an unidentified peasant.
    • Gendry seems to be shaping up as one of these.
  • Hit and Run Tactics:
    • Oberyn Martell uses these tactics in his duel against Gregor Clegane. It worked, up until he assumed that being run through with a spear would be enough to finish Gregor off.
    • Used by Bronn when fighting Ser Vardis Egan, with a good deal more success.
    • When the Dothraki aren't using Attack! Attack! Attack!, they're doing this; particularly their Horse Archers.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The Good Masters of Astapor are brought down by their own slave army, which they'd just sold to an ambitious foreign queen within their own city walls. There's a reason they're not called the Ingenious Masters.
    • Cersei restores the military orders of the Faith in exchange for supporting her rule and cancelling the crown's debt. Instead, the newly armed religious zealots decide to stage a coup, imprisoning Cersei and seizing control of the king.
    • Maester Cressen, who sought to poison Melisandre. Since her Blood Magic allows her to foresee any attempt to harm her directly, she was aware that Cressen would attempt to kill her with poisoned wine. She whispers to Cressen that he can spill the wine instead of sharing it with her but he refuses. They both drink; Cressen dies but Melisandre is protected by her magic.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Isn't used too often, although in A Dance With Dragons, instead of referring to Hair of the Dog, two characters reference "a scale from the dragon that flamed you".
  • Hollywood Atheist:
    • Stannis Baratheon has the Dead Little Sister variety, having turned against the worship of the Seven after seeing his parents killed in a shipwreck. It's compounded by his general nature as a cold, harsh person.
    • The Hound does not believe in gods for similar reasons, and fits the "belittles religious people" category of Hollywood Atheist.
    • Towards the end of A Clash of Kings the originally devout Catelyn Stark seems to be heading this way, as her questioning of her beliefs is the result of the various terrible things that have happened to her.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted. Ambushes, judicious use of terrain, discipline, and adequate supply lines are all referenced frequently, and it is mentioned that one occasion when the Dothraki tried to use a straight cavalry charge against a disciplined phalanx with a shield wall they got slaughtered.
    • In fact, there are several times when the conventionally chivalrous tactics of a Knight in Shining Armor, which can seem very close to Hollywood Tactics, have been noted to have failed against a superior (and less honourable) commander.
  • Honor Before Reason: Eddard Stark, to an extreme degree. He only lets go of his precious honor when it's a choice between that and his daughter's life.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold:
    • Subverted with Shae.
    • Alayaya, Pia and some others play it straight, though.
  • Hope Spot: Two in the third book. If you already get the series' macabre themes, you can see both of them coming several paragraphs ahead of time. One of them is subverted, however, when the newly dead guy promptly comes back to life.
  • The Horde: All wildlings are The Barbarian Horde to the people in the Seven Kingdoms, though it turns out that the Others were the real threat all along.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Eddard Stark, Lysa Arryn and Cersei Lannister. Jon Arryn proves to be something of one too, having put Littlefinger and Janos Slynt in their positions of power and never noticing that his wife was insanely obsessed with Littlefinger.
  • Improbable Species Compatibility: Humans and giants. Human men sometimes survive... human women rarely do.
  • Hot Witch: Melisandre. It's ambiguous whether she's a Vain Sorceress or just naturally... hot.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Khal Drogo, who towers over a roomful of other men, gets married to the 14-year old Daenerys, who is slight in figure even for her age.
  • Humiliation Conga: Suffered by many characters.
    • Tyrion Lannister lives this trope due to being a dwarf. He's imprisoned, openly mocked, forcibly married, enslaved and forced to joust on a pig for others' amusement
    • Theon Greyjoy, once he returns to the Iron Islands, and thereafter. Book five takes it Up To Eleven, and turns it into such a Trauma Conga Line that he manages to become The Woobie, which is quite an achievement considering how loathsome he is in book two.
    • Samwell Tarly whenever he was around his father, and later during his training at the Night's Watch.
    • Cersei suffers one at the hands of the Faith, being shaved bald and forced to march naked through the city. Kevan notes that the experience seems to have broken her.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Tywin Lannister was this to the mad King Aerys, to the point that the people cheered twice as loud for him as they did for the actual ruler, and visitors would sometimes mistake him for Aerys. Jealousy over this fact is part of the reason why Aerys allowed Jaime to join the Kingsguard behind his father's back and refused to consider having Rhaegar marry Cersei.
  • I Call It Vera:
    • Arya's sword Needle. Valyrian swords are usually very rare family heirlooms and all have names, including Ice, Lady Forlorn, Oathkeeper, Red Rain etc. More comically, Joffrey's swords "Lion's Tooth" and "Hearteater", and "Widow's Wail".
    • In a mundane weapon example, Garth, Manderly's jailer/torturer/executioner likes to introduce prisoners to his "ladies". There's a poker he calls the Whore which he heats up red hot and applies to his victims' private parts. He also has "Lady Lu", a large and sharp ax he uses for executions.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: Bran Stark.
  • Identity Amnesia: Using torture to invoke this trope seems to be one of Ramsay Bolton's favourite pastimes. He nearly manages it with both Theon and Jeyne, but they seem to have started recovering once out of his hands.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • Chapters are named either for the POV character they're being told through, or with a title or nickname that refers (sometimes quite obliquely) to that character.
    • The titles of the books all take the form of "Article Noun Preposition Noun".
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Dreadfort, home of the Obviously Evil House Bolton. The grim North has a few other keeps and castles with forbidding names, such as Winterfell and, on the Wall, the Shadow Tower and the supposedly-haunted Nightfort.
  • I Have a Family
  • I Have No Son: Tywin disowns Tyrion after he's implicated in Joffrey's murder, and Jaime after he refuses to quit the Kingsguard.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Ygritte is this to Jon Snow.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Biter eats people with teeth that are filed down to points.
    • It's strongly implied that a singer who tried to blackmail Tyrion ends up in a pot shop cauldron in Flea Bottom. As Bronn says, 'there's all kinds of meat' in that particular bowl of brown.
    • The island of Skagos is reputed to be home to rampant cannibalism, although we haven't actually seen it yet.
    • Ser Wylis Manderly and other prisoners at Harrenhal are fed parts of Vargo Hoat. It's left ambiguous whether they knew what they were eating. Gregor Clegane also made Hoat eat himself.
    • Four of Stannis's starving soldiers eat one of their dead companions during their march on Winterfell.
    • In A Dance with Dragons, it is strongly implied that Lord Manderly had the three Freys who came to his court made into pies, which Manderly serves both to himself and the Frey and Bolton bannermen in attendance.
    • In A Dance with Dragons, it's very likely that the pork Coldhands provided to Bran and co. was actually flesh of Night Watch deserters Coldhands had killed.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Ghiscari are quite fond of the trope. They wear elaborate hairstyles sculpted into bizarre shapes, requiring their soldiers to wear giant helmets to avoid ruining their hair. Nobles wear toga-like outfits that are designed so that you have to hold it together with one hand to keep it from falling off. In this case, the clothing is impractical by design, as it shows the wearer doesn't have to work or do much of anything for himself. The sellsword companies of the region have gotten so used to fighting mock-battles against each other that they wear utterly ridiculous battlegear even into real fights - one company wears stilts, another fights chained together wrist-to-wrist and ankle-to-ankle.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Lord Gyles Rosby, suffering from a disease that also causes Blood From the Mouth.
  • Individuality Is Illegal: Among the Unsullied and the Faceless Men.
  • Infant Immortality: A notable aversion.
  • Inferred Survival: Sandor Clegane.
  • Inherent in the System: The World Half Empty of the last book is a result of the oncoming Winter and the aftermath of a devastating civil war, the War of the Five Kings.
  • In Love with Love: Ned suggests that despite Robert's epic love for her, he really didn't know Lyanna that well as a person.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: The prologue to A Game of Thrones tends to put off many new readers.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Ravens. Each bird is trained to fly to a specific location, though some especially intelligent ones are more versatile.
  • Instrument of Murder: Sort of, at the "Red Wedding", wherein most, possibly all of the musicians were actually disguised soldiers.
  • Involuntary Battle to the Death
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In Eddard Stark, when he doesn't tell his dying friend a hard truth.
    • In A Game of Thrones, Ned sees Robert slap Cersei hard in the face and Cersei replies that she will wear the bruise as a badge of honor. Later in the novel, Cersei slaps him, and he sarcastically repeats her badge of honor comment.
    • Tyrion's false accusation and trial for killing Joffrey in A Storm of Swords is a dark echo of his earlier trial in A Game Of Thrones when falsely accused of killing Jon Arryn and the attempted murder of Bran. Basically, everything that went right in the latter, goes wrong the former, and in both, Tyrion "pleads guilty" of being himself (humorously in A Game of Thrones and bitterly in A Storm of Swords)
    • When Jaime first meets Brienne, he continually annoys her by referring to her as wench, ignoring her demands to be called Brienne. After his Heel Face Turn, there are occasions where someone else will refer to Brienne by an insult and Jaime will emphatically tell them to call her Brienne.
    • Theon spends most of A Dance with Dragons in a state of Stockholm Syndrome, denying his identity due to the horrific abuse he suffered at the hands of his captor, Ramsay Bolton; in his internal monologue he frequently repeats the line "You have to know your name" in order to remind himself that he's supposed to be "Reek", not Theon. At the end of his last chapter in the book he repeats the line to emphasize that he once again recognises himself as Theon.
  • Ironic Name: Two of the Freys have names that are ironic in terms of who they are named for. The severely mentally retarded Aegon (generally known as Jinglebell because his jerkass grandfather makes him act as a jester) is named after a great military leader and ruler. Similarly, Rhaegar Frey, a slimy and totally mediocre man, is named after a Pretty Boy Knight in Shining Armor who was both a sensitive intellectual and a military genius.
  • Ironic Nickname: Quite popular.
    • Jon Snow is called Lord Snow because he's the son of one of the most powerful men in Westeros, but as a bastard, he can't inherit anything. Later, it loses its irony when he becomes Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
    • When the cowardly Samwell Tarly starts being called "Sam the Slayer," he thinks it's another example of the trope, but it's mostly meant sincerely to commemorate a heroic action he made.
    • Brienne is mockingly called "The Beauty" because she is ugly.
    • A number of minor characters sport them. In the Night's Watch, Giant is a short man and Small Paul is a large one. The Ironman raider Rolfe the Dwarf is very tall. The sellsword Pretty Meris is horribly scarred and disfigured.
    • One of the former leaders of the Golden Company, Myles Toyne was jokingly nicknamed Blackheart by his troops, in reference to the image on his coat-of-arms. Toyne liked the nickname because it led people to be wary of him, but he's described by the rather stern Jon Connington as being warm and generous and A Father to His Men, and at the very least seems to have been a Sergeant Rock type.
    • Shae affectionately calls Tyrion her "giant of Lannister", which he finds quite endearing. Until she tells the whole court about it at the trial, claiming he "made" her call him that. When she tries to use it affectionately again after that, it's become a Berserk Button.
  • Irrevocable Order: The dying King Robert tried to call off the assassination he ordered on Daenerys Targaryen, but some made sure his message didn't go through. While the assassination does fail, the attempt does a lot to motivate Dany to invade Westeros and retake the throne.
  • It Has Only Just Begun
  • It's All About Me: When both Baratheon brothers attempt to claim the throne back from the Lannisters, they decide to attack each other rather than their common enemy. Catelyn notes that "somewhere, Cersei was laughing." In fact, when Tyrion informs Cersei, she's so happy that she dances with him.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Morbidly obese Illyrio reveals that his sculpture of the beautiful young bravo was him at the age of 16.
  1. Most knights buy their title. The most shining knight in the series, Brienne, isn't a knight at all because she's a woman. The Kingsguard, which is supposed to be made up of only the shiniest of knights, is a shadow of its former self.
  2. What happens to a warrior king who no longer fights
  3. whose smart mouth keeps getting him in trouble and who often curses himself for not being able to keep it shut.
  4. Her naivete doesn't work well in the Crapsack World of Westeros, and very soon she's a Broken Bird
  5. She wanted to be a warrior. Be Careful What You Wish For
  6. Is pushed to do all sorts of bad things to protect the Realm
  7. His "allies" get sick of his nasty attitude and kill him. In spite of that, his sister Daenerys still admits that even though he was bitter and cruel, he did keep them alive while they were living on the run in the streets of the Free Cities.
  8. All are innocent of the ways of the world and expect everyone to obey them just because of their rank
  9. Lawful Stupid
  10. Princesses are little more than bargaining chips to be married off to cement alliances. Their husbands treat them as ornaments at best, sex slaves at worst
  11. She's good at winning the throne but her lack of trust to anyone causes her to lose it just as quickly
  12. With Drogo, his people only obey him because of his strength so they abandon him when he loses it. Victarion is an honorable and straightforward man, but he's done some terrible things (such as, after his brother Euron seduces his wife, Victarion was bound by ironmen custom to kill her). In A Dance With Dragons, he accepts some sorcerous help from a priest of R'hllor, Moqorro, in contrast to the typical Barbarian Hero who usually has little use or respect for magic users.
  13. He has legitimate reason to betray the Starks and he is not accepted in the Iron Islands so he looks for someone who will appreciate him.
  14. He is painfully aware of how he can only command men through fear and not loyalty but he also knows of the terrible consequences if he is not harsh.
  15. Never beaten in battle but sucks at diplomacy
  16. gets completely sidetracked from her ultimate mission by constantly trying to solve every problem she encounters in Essos
  17. Her concern for her family triggers a chain of events leading to the Red Wedding.
  18. Supposedly a wise and thoughtful young man, he kidnaps, or possibly elopes with, Lyanna Stark, who is betrothed to Robert Baratheon (and in contrast to a lot of arranged marriages in this universe, Robert is deeply in love with Lyanna, though she doesn't return his feelings). This sets off a chain of events that leads to Robert's Rebellion.
  19. agonisingly murdered for being demanding and superior
  20. sent to the Wall for pissing off one superior, and beheaded for insubordinating another.
  21. killed for being too good at his job.
  22. Relatively overlooked by his parents, he has something of a savage streak
  23. There are early signs of psychopathy in his backstory, such as torturing animals, and he's subtly hinted to have abused his brother Tommen
  24. finds out the hard way that to achieve this he must be a Manipulative Bastard instead of a Guile Hero.
  25. resents that he isn't as manly as his brothers so he grabs the crown since he believes that warriors don't make good kings.
  26. Putting their personal happiness over family obligations has brutal consequences
  27. Regularly break their celibacy because their vows say they can't have children, not have sex