A Song of Ice and Fire/Tropes J To R

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

J-L[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Jester: Several fools appear at various courts
    • Patchface is a trained jester and former slave who was purchased by the Baratheons and survived a shipwreck on his way to Storm's End. He's lost all of his jester abilities, but shows signs of being a Mad Oracle. Only Shireen tolerates his company.
    • Sansa saves Ser Dontos from Joffrey's wrath by persuading him it would be more humiliating to make the man a fool. He becomes an agent of Littlefinger.
    • Butterbumps is a singing, Acrofatic fool for the Tyrells.
    • Moon Boy serves at the Red Keep and can walk on stilts. He's also on Varys' payroll.
    • The Monster Clown Shagwell dresses like a jester and cracks jokes while braining you with a three-headed morningstar.
    • Walder Frey has his mentally retarded grandson Aegon serve as a jester, including wearing the requisite hat. As a result, Aegon is generally referred to as Jinglebell.
    • Dolorous Edd is a very jester-like character, always snarking under the guise of being The Eeyore, and like a jester, he's able to get away with making those comments to a higher up (in this case the Lord Commander) in a way that others aren't.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
  • Join or Die:
    • The wildlings give this offer to Jon Snow when he and his partner Qhorin Halfhand are captured. However, to make sure he's truly switched sides, they also force him to kill Qhorin.
    • One of the recruitment methods of the Night's Watch, even those condemned to die may save their lives by choosing the Wall over the headsman.
  • Jumped At the Call: Marwyn the Mage. Sam has barely finished giving him Aemon's message about Daenerys' dragons before he's started throwing together the stuff he'll need for the journey.
  • Just Like Robin Hood:
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners starts out as this, with some pretty clear expies of the Merry Men (including The Archer, a revered leader, and a roguish priest). After a change in leadership, the group increasingly become Knight Templars, changing its goal from helping the victims of war crimes to hanging war criminals.
    • The Kingswood Brotherhood, which existed in the recent past, was another band of merry outlaws, whose specialty was kidnapping nobles and holding them for ransom. Their leader, Simon Toyne, was a fallen nobleman, and at least once did a very Robin Hood-like act of participating in a tourney in disguise. Initially, the Kingswood Brotherhood were considered defenders by smallfolk, and were shielded from capture so long as this lasted.
  • Kangaroo Court: Par for the course in Westeros.
    • Tyrion Lannister is the victim of one in the first book. After being kidnapped and taken to an impregnable fortress, he has to offer to confess in order to be let out of a cell specifically designed to make it's occupant commit suicide, and then has to demand a trial by publicly shaming his accusers to avoid going back there. The trial in question would be judged by the six-year old son of the man he's accused of murdering (who already shows a fondness for having people executed), and presided over by the child's mother (who, in addition to being the one to accuse him of murdering her husband, is sister to his other accuser, and is quite clearly mad). To avoid this, his only option is trial by combat (he's a dwarf and his opponents are seasoned knights,) and when he demands a champion he is denied his first choice and has to ask for a volunteer from the rabble of soldiers and mercenaries employed by his accusers.
    • Tyrion is again put on trial for murdering Joffrey a couple of books later, and on this occasion the judges either hate him or have a political interest in the affair. Although the trial is conducted according to custom, all of the evidence against him is either circumstantial or lies told by bribed witnesses.
    • One strange example comes from an unambiguously heroic character, and is just one more example of what a Crapsack World Westeros is. After Gregor Clegane is accused of heinous crimes, Ned Stark hears the testimony of the victims (who could only describe Clegane in general terms and by reputation, rather than positively identify him,) immediately sentences him to death in absentia, and sends men to execute him, without putting him on trial, giving him a chance to defend himself, or hearing any sort of witnesses. However, Clegane is a Complete Monster who had indeed committed the atrocity as well as many others.
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners puts every person they capture on trial before executing them, though it's clearly just a formality. Sandor Clegane calls them out on it during his own trial.
    • Cersei's trial of Margeary is clearly this basically being a copy of her trial of Tyrion with the genders of the defendant flipped.
  • Karma Houdini: Littlefinger, Walder Frey, Roose and Ramsay Bolton, so far... but there are two books left, and winter is coming.
  • Karmic Death: Due to the high attrition rate of characters, many villains get their just desserts. A few are intentionally karmic in their execution:
    • Vargo Hoat's limbs are chopped off, just as he would do to his own captives. He's also going mad from infection from a bite he suffered during an attempted rape. He didn't receive proper medical attention because his healer was busy escorting Jaime, whose hand was cut off at Vargo's command.
    • Gregor Clegane dies in horrific agony due to Oberyn's poison. Winning the duel only prolonged his suffering.
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners are working on making as many Freys as possible pay for the Red Wedding.
    • Janos Slynt played a part in the betrayal and beheading of Eddard Stark. He winds up beheaded as well. By Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, who happens to be Ned's illegitimate son.
    • Lord Manderly's delicious Frey Pie in A Dance With Dragons, which he serves to other conspirators, including a bunch of Freys.
    • Lysa Arryn gets shoved out the Moon Door, which she often threatened to do to others.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • When Tyrion murders his father and former lover in cold blood, he clearly crosses a moral line, but his two victims were such jerks that it's hard not to cheer him on.
    • While it's quite clear that Arya becomes increasingly morally grey every time she kills someone or is involved in causing a death, it's compensated for the fact that all of them more or less deserve it.
    • Amory Lorch (a child-murderer) gets fed to a bear by the sociopathic Brave Companions.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The series contains several major examples:
    • Robert Arryn is a sickly child who develops a fondness for sentencing people to be thrown off a cliff.
    • Arya Stark is a sympathetic character who is still fairly heroic, but she's also become quite a cold-blooded killer.
    • Joffrey is a teen by the time the series begins, but there are several stories about his childhood cruelty--and when he becomes king, he starts to like the idea of ordering men to duel to the death to settle disputes.
    • To a much smaller extent, Little and Big Walder. They indulge in some literal kicking the dog and are pretty mean to Hodor. In A Dance With Dragons they both start palling around with Ramsay Bolton and get much worse.
  • Kill'Em All: As a phrase, A Feast For Crows really sums up the series' plot and theme. By the end of A Dance With Dragons, all but one of the original "Five Kings" are dead (and Stannis' fate is ambiguous), though new players have of course taken their places.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • The best way to deal with undead wights. There's even a song about it. Presumably fire works on the Others as well, but obsidian, or "frozen fire," also works. Jon also interprets an ancient passage about "dragonsteel" to mean that Valyrian blades would work as well.
    • One of the Mad King's preferred methods of execution.
    • Also the execution/sacrifice method favoured by followers of R'hllor, naturally. By contrast, priests of the Drowned God are fond of Kill It with Water.
  • Kill the Poor: It is mentioned offhandedly that Joffrey's proposed solution to beggars and starving poor people in King's Landing is to kill them. He at one point brings a crossbow to the castle walls and uses it to shoot at the people outside the gates begging for food.
  • Killed Off for Real: Eddard and Robb Stark, and many other characters, major and minor, going along with the series's Kill'Em All style.
  • King Bob the Nth: At the beginning of the series, Jeor Mormont is the 997th Lord Commander of the Night Watch; later on Jon Snow is the 998th; more than likely there will be a 1000th by the end of the series, due to the fact that Jon Snow was betrayed by his own men, so even if he survives the stabbing, he'll probably lose command.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Ser Loras, Ser Barristan, Ser Garlan, the old Kingsguard (at least according to the rose-tinted glasses of those who remember them) and many characters from the "Dunk & Egg" stories. Most of them are deconstructed to a greater or lesser extent. Brienne plays the trope more or less straight, with the twist being that she is female. Sandor Clegane so despises this trope that he has refused multiple offers of knighthood, even when he joins the Kingsguard.
  • Knight Templar: Stannis Baratheon is a rigid and merciless man who never compromises on anything. He has an even bigger Knight Templar advisor, the priestess/sorceress Melisandre, who wants to burn all false gods in preparation for the last battle against evil. The rise of the Church Militant of the Swords and the Stars provides even more opportunities for the trope. Finally, the Brotherhood Without Banners have gone from Robin Hood Expys to this under Lady Stoneheart aka Catelyn
  • Know When to Fold'Em:
    • Torrhen Stark became known as the King Who Knelt because he chose to submit to Aegon the Conqueror rather than fight a battle he could not win.
    • After a failed rebellion, Balon Greyjoy accepts his defeat, even though it comes with two of his three sons being killed and the third taken hostage, biding his time until the day when he can rebel successfully.
  • The Lady's Favour:
    • Catelyn gave one to Brandon before he went to duel Petyr Baelish, though in this case there is no real possibility that her hero won't come back in one piece; in fact, she begged him to leave the boy in one piece.
    • Jorah Mormont wore the favour of Lynesse Hightower and won a tourney, defeating all opponents and even gaining her hand in marriage.
  • Lady of War: Daenerys
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A rare example of this in a very cynical series - Stannis, looking for a lord who can bring the North under his control, offers to legitimise Jon Snow and free him from his vow to the Night's Watch. He refuses, partly out of an eerily familiar ironclad sense of honour, and before the night is out he's been, largely coincidentally, elected as Lord Commander of the Watch (for which Stannis' offer would have made him ineligible).
  • Last-Minute Baby-Naming: Justified. With the Grim Up North conditions behind the wall, the mortality of children is so high that naming one that hasn't yet grown enough to walk is considered Tempting Fate.
  • Laughably Evil: Vargo Hoat might lead a mercenary gang of the worst psychos for hire in the known world, but he's got a humorous lisp that even his victims mock. He's also rather dim-witted, getting outsmarted and outmaneuvered many times before meeting an end that is pure Nightmare Fuel.
  • Laxative Prank: Done seriously. Tyrion is too busy trying to save the city to struggle with Cersei's schemes so he uses a mild poison to get her out of his hair for one day.
  • Left for Dead: Sandor Clegane, who is (probably) now the gravedigger on the Quiet Isle.
  • Legacy Character:
    • The Hound is becoming one of these. It started out as just a nickname for Sandor Clegane, but later on, Sandor's helmet winds up in the hands of the criminal Rorge who terrorizes the countryside while wearing it. After Rorge's death, Lem Lemoncloak indicates to the degree to which he is He Who Fights Monsters, as he decides to start wearing the helmet to frighten the enemies of the Brotherhood Without Banners.
    • Following the death of the first Reek, Ramsay Bolton mentally and physically breaks Theon in order to make him the second Reek.
  • Legion of Lost Souls: The Night's Watch can be seen as bearing a number of similarities with the real-life French Foreign Legion. The Brotherhood Without Banners is a literal legion of lost souls.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: The Wildings view themselves as choosing freedom over all else, preferring to live in a very harsh, cold, and sometimes giant-infested land, than to be "kneelers".
  • Light Bulb Joke: Joffrey delivers one: "How many Dornishmen does it take to shoe a horse? Nine. One to do the shoeing, and eight to lift up the horse!" *Rimshot*
  • Lighter and Softer: The Dunk & Egg books, owing to its smaller scope and bittersweet endings.
  • A Lighter Shade of Gray: The Starks are a generally noble and honourable family with a few bad eggs (such as Roose Bolton and the traitorous Theon Greyjoy) working under their banner, and a tendency to make some bad mistakes even if for good, or at least understandable reasons. The Lannisters however are a Machievellian, incestuous bunch of ruthless backstabbers and powermongers with a number of outright psychopaths in their employ. Tyrion is basically a decent person with a devious and ruthless streak, and Jaime isn't as bad as he first appears (when he chucks an 8 year old boy out of a window, for witnessing him screwing his sister no less), but Tywin, Cersei and especially Joffrey are enough to let the reader guess that this is the family of the bad guys. However, even this is played with: despite it being pretty indisputable that Tywin Lannister is a bad man and an absolutely terrible father, it is mentioned that he is an excellent ruler and that the Seven Kingdoms enjoyed a lot of prosperity while he was Hand of the King.
  • Light Is Not Good: Seemingly part of the "ice and fire" theme of the series overall, in which all extremes are destructive. The red priests describe R'hllor as the champion of life and goodness, but all signs point to a much more malevolent force. The reverse is not true, as the darkness to R'hllor's light is overtly evil.
  • Lightning Bruiser: What makes the Hound one of the most dangerous fighters in Westeros, when he's not drunk off his arse.
  • Like a Son to Me: Maester Cressen saw Stannis Baratheon in this light, having been maester for the Baratheons for decades and watching Stannis grow up. This makes his shaming before the court, and his death, that much more tragic.

Cressen, thinking: Stannis, my lord, my sad sullen boy, son I never had, you must not do this, don't you know how I have cared for you, lived for you, loved you despite all? Yes, loved you, better than Robert even, or Renly, for you were the one unloved, the one who needed me most.

  • Line in the Sand: Theon in A Clash of Kings.
  • Line-of-Sight Name:
    • Ser Rolly Duckfield, one of Griff's men in A Dance With Dragons; like other lowborn characters who receive knighthoods (e.g. Davos and Bronn), he wasn't born with a surname, and made up/acquired one upon being knighted. In Rolly's case, while being knighted in a field, he noticed some ducks nearby.
    • In A Storm of Swords, Jaime questions Ser Osmund Kettleblack on who knighted him, and Osmund responds "Ser Robert... Stone". Jaime wonders to himself if this was a real person (presumably a bastard sellsword made good) or whether Osmund made him up, combining the name of the deceased king with a glance at the castle wall.
  • Little Miss Badass: Arya Stark.
  • Living Shadow: Introduced in A Clash of Kings, these shadow-beings are revealed to be the children of Melisandre.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: How many? Well, for a long time, the huge character sheet wouldn't tell you who the five kings in the "War Of Five Kings" were, just because some of them weren't important enough to list. The reader of the unabridged audiobook of A Game of Thrones actually holds the certified world record for most characters voiced in an audiobook - 224.
  • Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places: Tyrion, down to the lack of parental affection. Should be noted that he had actually found it with Tysha, the first girl he loved. He was lead to believe this wasn't the case, however, thanks to Lord Tywin.
    • Also Sansa, what with her infatuation with Joffrey and wide-eyed hero worship of Cersei. That sure doesn't last long.
  • Loose Lips: Sansa Stark. Unintentionally helped the queen's plot against Eddard, which cost him his life, and also prevented the Tyrell's plan to help her and whisk her away to Highgarden because she kept telling everything to Dontos.
  • Lost Technology: Valyrian steel can be reworked by experts, but no one knows how to make more of it anymore. Some marvels of engineering, such as the Wall and Winterfell's hot-springs heating system, are probably beyond the tech for the current age. The prologue of A Feast for Crows even hints at the existence of a functioning lightbulb, hidden away in archives of the Citadel. Magic is also something of a lost technology, and indeed is implied to be instrumental in at least some of the other examples.
  • The Lost Woods: The vast weirwood forests in the north, especially those with white heart trees, due to their association with the children of the forest and the "green men". Also, the Haunted Forest beyond the Wall, due to the Others.
  • Lovable Coward: Samwell... at first (he becomes somewhat less cowardly but remains lovable).
  • Lovable Traitor: Littlefinger.
  • Love At First Sight: Subverted several times. A glory-drunk Ser Jorah Mormont falls for fair Lynesse Hightower from afar, and Sansa becomes infatuated with Joffrey. Neither relationship ends well.
  • Love Dodecahedron: A spiderweb:
    • Renly is married to Margaery but spends a lot of time "praying" with her brother Loras, and in the meantime is being crushed on by Brienne of Tarth.
    • Robert Baratheon loved Lyanna Stark, but married Cersei Lannister, who loved her brother Jaime but also wanted to marry Rhaegar Targaryen who wind up marriying to Elia of Dorne even though he might have loved Lyanna Stark.
      • Jon Connington is also revealed to have harbored feelings for Rhaegar.
    • Lysa Tully married Jon Arryn but loved Petyr Baelish, who loved Catelyn Tully, who loved Brandon Stark but he died and she married and grew to love Eddard Stark, who may have loved Ashara Dayne, who was beloved by Ser Barristan Selmy.
    • A simple Love Triangle for contrast: Prince Aerys Targaryen and his Heterosexual Life Partner Tywin Lannister both had a thing for Tywin's cousin Joanna. Tywin got her. (Triang Relations Type 10). This may have been the Start of Darkness for The Mad King's resentment of his Hand and (now former) best friend.
  • Love Makes You Evil: "The things I do for love...", which is given an Ironic Echo to show that Love Redeems as well.
  • Love Ruins the Realm:
    • Several characters note that just about all the war and strife afflicting the land can be traced back to Rhaegar marrying Elia of Dorne instead of Cersei Lannister, then absconding with Lyanna Stark.
    • The Starks and the Northern rebellion are brought down when Robb Stark has a tryst with Jeyne Westerling and breaks his marriage pact with the Freys to marry her.
  • Lying to the Perp: Tyrion uses this to ferret out the three traitors in his midst: Littlefinger, Varys, and Grand Maester Pycelle. He gets ample dirt on each of them but only manages to trap Pycelle, the least dangerous of the trio; and even then he's quickly reinstated by Tywin.


M-O[edit | hide]

  • Mad Doctor: Qyburn.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Reek, Reek, it rhymes with ______.
  • Mad Love: The loony Lysa Tully Arryn, whose terrible taste in suitors makes her an easy pawn for Petyr Baelish.
  • The Magic Comes Back: And does it ever. George RR Martin has stated many times that he prefers Magic Realism over flashy spells, but with dragons hatching, people rising from the dead, and the shadow babies of Melisandre, there's no doubting the existence of at least some sort of magic.
  • The Magnificent: Tormund Giantsbane, Tall-talker, Horn-blower and Breaker of Ice; Tormund Thunderfist, Husband to Bears, the Mead-king of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods and Father of Hosts.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Cersei Lannister, while a horrible leader, has protecting her children as her strongest motivation. Catelyn Stark gains a darker shade with this trope as well. Ironically, their protective instincts only serve to make things worse. Cersei screws up everything she touches. While Catelyn is full of good advice, her kidnapping of Tyrion (who was innocent) due to suspicion that he tried to murder Bran, led to a Lannister retaliation and was one of the major catalysts that created the perfect storm for the War of the Five Kings.
    • The women of Bear Island are a fitting example. While their husbands fish, it often falls to them to fight off ironmen raiders. On the gate of the ruling House Mormont's keep is a carving of a bearskin-clad woman with a suckling baby in one arm and a battleaxe in the other.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Cersei, although she's hampered by being petty and full of bad ideas. Littlefinger's a much smoother operator. Varys may trump them all.
    • Tywin Lannister might count, because though he lacks the smooth charm one normally associates with Manipulative Bastards (being powerful enough to simply order and bully people in direct conversation), he has a very sound grasp of how various people think and can manipulate their actions from a distance. Whether this makes him more of a chessmaster than this trope is a matter of personal definition.
  • Master Poisoner:
    • All Maesters have at least the potential to be this, as they are trained in making both the substances that save life and those that end it.
    • Oberyn Martell is also very knowledgeable about poisons, and his daughter Tyene Sand is likewise, having learned from him.
    • Unsurprisingly, being a bunch of assassins, the Faceless Men are adept in the use of poisons. One of them, referred to the as the Waif, specializes in them. While an adult woman, she looks like a child as a result of spending all of her time surrounded by dangerous substances.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: One of the members of the Kingswood Brotherhood outlaws was known as Oswyn Longneck, the Thrice-Hanged because of this. Subverted with Beric Dondarrion. While his reputation is for surviving a hanging and other should-be-fatal injuries, he actually died and was resurrected a bunch of times.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The series has a low level of magic for a fantasy series, so that many things that happen are left ambiguous as to whether magic is involved or not. Characters within the series often try to label events or objects as magically influenced, often coming up with conflicting interpretations. Various dreams and visions may or may not be actually prophetic.
    • A very clear example of this trope occurs in A Storm of Swords, when Melisandre—who has already been unambiguously demonstrated to have actual magical powers—performs a ritual that will supposedly cause the deaths of three other characters. All three other characters do die soon thereafter, but each as a result of unrelated plots that started well before Melisandre cast her spell.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "I did warn you not to trust me."
    • Also, Theon's final repetition of "You have to know your name!"
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Bran Stark and Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers are the two main sources of the Ravens and Crows motif in the series, and have names that are respectively the Welsh and Irish word for raven.
    • A number of family names suggest their house's character, such as the rigidly honorable Starks of the frigid north, and the Jerkass Greyjoys.
    • Several characters have names that are references to folklore and mythology:
      • Janos Slynt turns out to be two-faced, as the Roman god Janus.
      • Lancel Lannister is (one of several people) having an affair with the queen, reminiscent of Arthurian Lancelot.
      • Cersei whose name is a homophone of the temptress Circe, is taken from the root word for cherries
      • Hodor may be an approximation of Höðr, a disabled (blind) god in Norse Mythology.
      • Stannis Baratheon is hard and unyielding. His name is a homophone for "stannous," meaning "like tin," which is often brittle. He's openly compared to iron, however, specifically for his brittleness.
    • The Kettleblack brothers (as in "the pot calling the...") are involved in a scheme by Cersei to accuse Margaery of crimes that Cersei herself is guilty of.
    • Ami Frey is a very friendly young woman.
    • Dany installs as king in Astapor a former slave named Cleon, who becomes a corrupt tyrant the moment she leaves. The choice of name is undoubtedly a reference to the Athenian statesman Cleon who had a similar bad reputation as a corrupt demagogue.
  • Medieval Stasis: Westerosi technology has improved very slowly over its extremely long history. The continent was once ruled by the Children of the Forest, with stone age technology, who were then conquered by the First Men with Bronze Age technology, who were then partially replaced by the Andals with Iron Age technology. In the last thousand years, technology has not significantly improved. In fact, some ancient marvels of engineering, such as the Wall, Harrenhal, and the hot-springs-heated Winterfell, are probably built on Lost Technology. However, it's hinted that the timeline includes many legends and anachronisms, so it's not entirely trustworthy.
  • Mentor Archetype: Littlefinger for Sansa Stark; Syrio Forel, Jaqen H'ghar and the Kindly Old Man for Arya Stark; Jeor "Old Bear" Mormont and Qhorin Halfhand for Jon Snow; Ser Arlan for Dunk
  • Mildly Military: The Night's Watch is a combination of a military order, a monastic order, and a gulag. Naturally, it doesn't run quite the same as a normal army.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Ser Creighton Longbough, who is quite happy to tell you about how he slew Ser Herbert Bolling and fought valiantly against the "Knight of the Red Chicken" at the Battle of the Blackwater.
  • Mind Rape: What Bran does to Hodor when he takes over his body.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Tyrion, and Shiera Seastar. Victarion refers to Euron "Crow's Eye" Greyjoy's "smiling eye" in comparison to whatever he hides beneath his eyepatch.
  • Missing Mom: Jon Snow's not-officially-identified mother.
  • Monster Clown:
    • Shagwell of the Bloody Mummers wears motley and pretends to be a jester, though he is really an Ax Crazy sellsword. He uses a morningstar as a parody of a jester's bladder-on-a-stick.
    • Stannis' jester Patchface has just been pretty creepy so far, but in A Dance With Dragons, Melisandre (fairly creepy herself) notes that she senses great evil in him.
  • Mood Whiplash
  • Moody Mount:
    • Stranger (ridden by The Hound) and Smiler (ridden by Theon). This is a Justified Trope, since these are war mounts, trained for battle.
    • Ser Loras exploits this trope when Ser Gregor rides one in a joust; he rides a mare in heat, driving the stallion wild and uncontrollable.
  • Mook Horror Show: There's several similar instances (at Winterfell when Theon held it; at Harrenhall under the Lannisters; and at Winterfell again under the Boltons) where "good guys" spook "bad guys" by committing undetected murders of their forces.
  • Morality Pet: Brienne, for post-Heel Face Turn Jaime. The two Stark girls, for Sandor Clegane.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Defied Trope by the Citadel regarding Qyburn; he's kicked out when they find out he's been performing human vivisection, and he's no longer allowed to style himself "maester".
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: Aegon Targaryen.
  • The Mourning After: Tywin is forever hardened after his wife Joanna's death, to such an insane extent that he never smiles though he does get it on with whores. Hoster Tully is also never quite the same. Robert, one of the most epic cases, goes so far as to get hammered and then call Cersei "Lyanna" on their wedding night. And then there's Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, whose long fixtation on Catelyn (not to mention the severe Break the Cutie process he went through because of it) lead to him turning severely Yandere and creepy consequences regarding Catlyn's daughter, Sansa.
  • Mr. Smith:
    • Bastards are given generic surnames which differ depending on the region: "Snow" for the north, "Rivers" for the riverlands, "Hill" for the Lannister-held westlands, "Stone" for the Vale, "Waters" for King's Landing and Blackwater Bay, "Storm" for the stormlands, "Flowers" for the Reach and "Sand" for Dorne.
    • Ser Osmund doubles this by claiming that "Ser Robert Stone" knighted him, a name far too generic to actually track down.
    • Qyburn calls his towering creation "Ser Robert Strong."
  • The Munchausen: Tormund Giantsbane, who admits as much with one of his many nicknames, "Tall-Talker."
  • Murder, Inc.: The Faceless Men are a foreign religious order who worship death, to the point that one of their two primary services is painless euthanasia. They are also the most skilled assassins in the world, able to murder anyone for the right price. Contract killing is a sacred act to them. There is also a lesser guild of assassins called the Sorrowful Men, who apologize to their victims the instant before they kill them.
  • My Beloved Smother: Cersei Lannister gave Joffrey free rein, but does this with Tommen after Joffrey's death. Lysa Arryn does this with Robert. Both find a strange balance between coddling their children's flaws so they don't outgrow them and smothering them to prevent them from maturing. Olenna Tyrell makes no apologies for running her son Mace's life, stating, "All these kings would do a deal better if they would put down their swords and listen to their mothers." Subverted in that Olenna is way more competent than him.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Most of the Kingsguard. Jaime relates being informed by one of his compatriots that his job is to guard the king, not judge him--in response to Jaime suggesting they intervene and stop Aerys from beating his wife. Jaime ends up famously averting it.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: In the climactic duel between Oberyn Martell and Gregor Clegane, Oberyn is out to avenge his sister's murder. It ends with Gregor gloating over his horrible crime and re-enacting it on Oberyn, though Gregor ultimately dies an agonzing death from Oberyn's poison. Word of God has confirmed that this is a deliberate Shout-Out to the Trope Namer.
  • My Nayme Is:
    • Westerosi culture features a lot of archaic, alternate, or non-English spellings of common names, such as "Eddard" instead of "Edward". The letter Y crops up quite often in names, especially as a vowel. Knights are titled ser rather than the traditional English "sir."
    • There's a whole lot of surnames that are unusual spellings of animals, fruit, etc. (typically those featured on the family's coat-of-arms): i.e. Plumm, Codd, Hogg, etc.
  • Myth Arc: The Others, The Prince Who Was Promised.
  • A Naked Shoulder to Cry On: This is how Robb Stark loses his virginity. To say it ends badly is a horrific understatement.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: A standard of the series. The Hound, the Mad King, the Kingslayer, the Mountain That Rides, the Bloody Mummers, the Crow's Eye, the Red Viper, the Titan's Bastard, the Darkstar and so on...
  • Near-Rape Experience: Sandor Clegane did indeed intend to rape Sansa during the Battle of the Blackwater, but stopped himself and ended up taking nothing more than a song.
  • Necromancer:
    • The Others, who raise the corpses of people and animals they kill (and possibly corpses in general) as wights.
    • Qyburn aspires to become one for a long time, but lacked test subjects. After Cersei gives him the pick of the dungeons, Qyburn is able to create Robert Strong, his enormous undead champion.
    • Thoros of Myr who brought back Berric Dondarrion a bunch of times, with him losing more of himself/his humanity with each resurection, although he sees it as a Healing Hands type power.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe, Jaime's murder of Aerys. It doesn't help that he tells almost no one why he really did it.
  • Never Say That Again: Tyrion does warn Tywin to stop throwing the word "whore" in his face. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't listen.
  • Never Split the Party: played with. Jaime is criticised for splitting his siege of Riverrun into three camps, allowing them to be overrun separately. Tywin immediately shoots down the criticism, pointing out that the Genre Savvy Tullys have sited their castle precisely to enforce this trope, making defense that much easier.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: Subverted. The maegi Mirri Maz Duur magically kills Daenerys Stormborn's unborn son in utero, both for revenge against the father and because the unborn child is prophesied to be the Stallion That Mounts the World, an unstoppable city-smashing warlord. While it doesn't exactly turn out well for Mirri in the end, she DOES successfully prevent the boy from being born and fulfilling whatever his Super Special Destiny was supposed to be.
    • Of course, Mirri's actions do wind up resulting in the rebirth of dragons into the world, and it's entirely possibly that they'll mount the world or whatever. So possibly played straight, with a helping of prophecy?
  • Night of the Living Mooks: People killed by the Others come back as nearly unstoppable wights who kill people. Jon becomes convinced that the Others can reanimate any corpse they find, whether or not they made it a corpse in the first place. Is he right? ...Would you take the risk?
  • No Dead Body Poops:
    • Averted spectacularly in the death of Tywin Lannister.
    • And again in that of Grand Maester Pycelle.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Brienne of Tarth. Doesn't help that she's widely described as being pretty ugly into the bargain.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: In A Dance With Dragons, some of Stannis' men end up eating their dead when they are trapped by a massive snowstorm during the march to Winterfell. They get burned alive for it.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: GRRM is of the opinion that you should be allowed to decide on pronunciations for yourself. This is probably because he didn't want to have to decide how to say "Xaro Xhoan Daxos" or "Jaqen H'ghar." The TV series immediately begged his help.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Several characters have been known to be on the rag, but Sansa takes the cake with a particularly spectacular menarche.
  • Noble Fugitive: Viserys is a bit of a deconstruction. Straighter examples in Daenerys, Ser Barristan, Jon Connington, and Tyrion.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Defecation is mentioned quite frequently. In Storm of Swords, Strong Belwas shames the Yunkai champion Oznak zo Pahl by shitting in the direction of his city and wiping himself with the dead Oznak's cloak. And Tywin Lannister is assassinated when he's on the privy, proving that he doesn't shit gold. Astapor's refugees bring the bloody flux to Mereen, leading to a mass outbreak of dysentary. Also, Dany gets the runs after eating wild berries while stranded near the end of Dance with Dragons.
  • The Nondescript: the Tickler, Gregor Clegane's Torture Technician, could disappear in a crowd of three; Television Without Pity described him as an "interestingly casual man."
  • Non-Human Sidekick: The Stark's direwolves and Dany's dragons.
  • Noodle Incident: A number of incidents are referred to early on, with clues popping up over the course of the series. Examples include the tragedy at Summerhall, the Doom of Valyria, and the events at the "tower of joy."
  • The North Makes You Strong: The people of the North are strong and hardy, thanks to their tough and cold homeland.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Tyrion Lannister, especially after he's accused of murdering Joffrey and finally snaps.
  • Not Just a Tournament: "The Mystery Knight" takes place during a tournament that's secretly a gathering for conspirators trying to start a second Blackfyre rebellion.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Arya overhears a plot to kill Ned, but her disconnected and fanciful-sounding description of events leads him to disbelieve her.
  • Not So Different:
    • Tyrion comes to this conclusion regarding himself and his father.

Now that's where you're wrong, Father. Why, I believe I'm you writ small. Do me a kindness now, and die quickly.

    • At one point, characters come across a burnt out ruin of a village, and it's explained that the lord of the area was on the wrong side, and as punishment, Hoster Tully sent soldiers to Rape, Pillage and Burn and basically kill everyone. It shows the moral greyness of the series that the head of the Tullys (seemingly one of the "good guys") dealt with enemies just as ruthlessly as Tywin Lannister.
    • The Starks are shown to have been ruthless in maintaining their power in the past. Long before the series begins, a branch of the Stark family called the Greystarks joined with the Boltons in a rebellion against the Starks. The Stark lord at the time crushed the rebellion and wiped out the Greystark branch of the family.
    • Sandor Clegane calls out the Brotherhood Without Banners in what's both an example of this as well as At Least I Admit It:

A knight's a sword with a horse. The rest, the vows and the sacred oils and the lady's favours, they're silk ribbons tied 'round the sword. Maybe the Sword's prettier with ribbons hanging of it, but it'll kill you just as dead. Well, bugger your ribbons, and shove your swords up your arses. I'm the same as you. The only difference is, I don't lie about what I am. So, kill me, but don't call me a murderer while you stand there telling each other your shit don't stink. You hear me?

  • The Oathbreaker:
    • Jaime Lannister. He killed the king he was sworn to protect, and everyone - even the people who acknowledge that Aerys needed killing - treats him like the lowest of the low, even in a Crapsack World full of child rapists, Torture Technicians, and mad kings (like the one he killed to save King's Landing).
    • Runaways from the Night's Watch, who are summarily executed. Failing to obey direct orders is met with the same treatment.
    • Jon breaks his vows under orders from Quorin Halfhand and nevers lives it down with some of the Night's Watch. He also breaks his vows with Ygritte, which leaves him with much more complicated emotions.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Lord Wyman Manderly when dealing with the Freys and Boltons following the Red Wedding and the Bolton takeover.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene:
    • Many scenes at Harrenhal and the Dreadfort contain this trope. The actions of the Karstark men hunting down Jaime count as a minor one.
    • Also, the murder of prisoners Willem Lannister and Tion Frey by Rickard Karstark
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Someone who has been raised from the dead by the Others has uncanny shining blue eyes with no life in them, usually described as looking like the cold light of distant stars.
  • Oddly Common Rarity: While the Targaryan features initially seem quite unusual (and are admittedly rare in Westeros), it's eventually revealed that not only are there two Westerosi families who have the same look (the Daynes and the Velaryons), but that in Essos, or at least the city of Lys, those features are exceedingly common.
  • Oedipus Complex: Tywin and Tyrion Lannister.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: The Kingsguard...in theory. Robert began changing this, and Cersei finished it.
  • Offstage Villainy: Done chillingly well with Ramsay Bolton. Pre-Dance he had only appeared in person under his own name in one chapter at the end of the third volume, yet was already one of the biggest sources of Nightmare Fuel in the series. Once he comes onstage he manages to get worse.
  • Off with His Head: Happens quite a few times (the first proper chapter features Eddard Stark beheading a deserter from the Night's Watch), most notably to Eddard Stark himself at the end of book one. Karmically, Jon Snow gives Janos Slynt the same treatment for trying to sow rebellion among the Night's Watch.
  • Older Than They Look: The waif is a Faceless Man (Faceless Woman?) who is thirty-six years old but looks like a child close to Arya's age. Her body is unnaturally small because she is around dangerous poisons all the time and the face she has probably isn't her real one anyway.
  • Old Master: Ser Barristan Selmy, Syrio Forel and Jeor "Old Bear" Mormont.
  • Old Soldier: Many examples, including Qhorin, Jeor Mormont, Yoren and Rodrik Cassel.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Invoked Trope by the Citadel; Maesters wear a chain with each link representing a field of study they've mastered, and are expected to earn as many as they can.
  • One-Liner: "There are no men like me. There's only me".
  • One-Gender School: The Citadel, much like the medieval universities it was inspired by.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Plenty of people, such as Spare Boot, Kegs, Shitmouth and the Tickler.
  • Old Retainer: Ser Rodrik Cassell, Master-At-Arms for House Stark.
  • One-Scene Wonder:

"Very well, ser. Bring on your storm. And remember, if you will, the name of this castle."

    • Archmaester Marwyn, called "The Mage" by the other archmaesters for his interest in the occult. He is very well-traveled and he is mentioned a few times throughout the story but so far he has only actually appeared once, at the end of the fourth book. Possibly his popularity with the fandom is a result of his extremely proactive behaviour in what had been a very slow-paced book.
    • Lord Manderly's granddaughter Wylla Manderly, who stands up for the Starks and gives Davos her support, despite her family's protests and attempts to silence her. Wyman Manderly praises her bravado once he reveals his plan to Davos.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, especially as families often name children for ancestors or those with whom they're attempting to curry favor.
    • Ned Stark names two of his children Brandon and Rickon, probably after his brother and father who were killed by the Mad King. Robert Arryn (and probably Robb Stark) is named after King Robert Baratheon; there has been more than one Jon running around (Arryn, Connington, Snow, two Umbers); there's two Balons (Swann, Greyjoy); it seems to be a House Stark tradition to always have a Brandon in each generation (The Builder; The Shipwright; The Burner; The Daughterless; The Broken); and there's more Aegons, Viseryses, Aeryses, Daerons, and Baelors than you can break a spear at.
    • House Frey is a particular exception for all the Walders and Waldas, named to suck up to family patriarch Walder Frey - even the other characters get confused, and good luck trying to remember whether you're reading about Black Walder or Red Walder or Bastard Walder without referring to the family tree. Winterfell takes on two young wards, both named Walder Frey. They're called Big Walder and Little Walder in reference to their age, but Little Walder is bigger than Big Walder, which greatly amuses the two boys but confuses everyone else.
  • The One That Got Away: Lyanna, for Robert. Tysha, for Tyrion. Catelyn, for Littlefinger. Lynesse Hightower, for Jorah Mormont.
  • One Thing Led to Another: Robb, being "comforted" by Jeyne Westerling. Lysa doing the same with a delirious Littlefinger.
  • Oracular Urchin: Jojen Reed, with his prophetic "green dreams."
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons look like like winged, legged serpents with thick scales. They breathe fire and cook their meat before eating it. They are hermaphrodites, and lay scaled eggs that must be bathed in fire before they hatch. Like fish, they grow according to the size of their environment. They have animal level intelligence and can be trained to accept a rider, making them useful weapons of war. Their presence seems to be linked to the effectiveness of magic. When the story starts, they have been extinct for years though they got better, thanks to Daenerys. They may also have a taste for human flesh. Their internal body temperatures appear to be tremendous: steel weapons stuck in them almost immediately are red, melting hot. Similarly, their blood is so hot it glows, akin to molten metal.
  • Our Nudity Is Different: The Qartheen fashion for women means leaving one breast exposed.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Others, possibly, although it's hard to tell, since we've seen so little of them. Still, they (reportedly) drink blood, are pale and cold, and only seem to come out at night...
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Called skinchangers, beastlings, and wargs, and they take control of animals rather than turn into them, and can do this with other animals besides wolves.
  • Our Wights Are Different: The corpses reanimated by the Others are described as such. They have blue eyes, black hands and can only be killed by fire.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • The people resurrected with the flames of Rh'llor are the Revenant variety, and Coldhands is likely one of these as well.
    • Qyburn's "creation" Ser Robert Strong is a Construct type
    • People killed by the Others end up as the traditional Voodoo type. They seem to retain their memories, but lose the ability to talk and any shred of humanity. The can keep fighting even after being decapitated.
  • Out of the Inferno: The end of A Game of Thrones.
  • Outside Context Villain: The Others.

P-R[edit | hide]

  • Parental Abandonment
  • Parental Favoritism: Tywin Lannister hates Tyrion for his deformity and for causing his mother to die in childbirth. He grudgingly tolerates his presence in the family, but refuses to grant him any inheritance. On the other hand, Randyll Tarly is so openly disgusted with Samwell that he threatens him with murder if he does not disinherit himself. Catelyn Stark openly resents Jon's living at Winterfell, for the reason that he isn't her son.
  • The Patriarch: Naturally, any of the Lords. Walder Frey, Tywin Lannister and Doran Martell are probably the best examples of the trope, if only for having such Big Screwed Up Families to keep in line.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage:
    • The Starks, though it's noted to have taken some years to get used to each other
    • Khal Drogo and Daenerys
    • Deconstructed with Sansa and Joffrey - she's expecting it to work out this way, having been brought up on stories of courtly romance. It doesn't.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Both Jaime and Cersei have several moments.
    • The small bits of (relative) tenderness Sandor Clegane regularly shows Sansa during her forced stay in King's Landing.
    • Melisandre reveals that she's kept Devan near her to spare Davos the loss of another son. The trope is taken literally in A Dance With Dragons, when Ghost takes an instant liking to her. The moment is spoiled, however, when Ghost seems to forget who Jon is while in her thrall, making his approval seem unnatural.
    • The generally haughty and unfriendly Theon has a few sweet moments with Jeyne Poole/"Arya Stark" in A Dance with Dragons, culminating in his rescuing her from Ramsay.
  • Pity Sex:
    • The pity-sex-by-proxy version is subverted. Tyrion's first sexual experience is with a woman who seems to just love him for who he is. Then it turned out that his brother Jaime hired a prostitute to play the part of Tyrion's loving girlfriend. Then it turned out that that was a lie Tywin forced Jaime to tell Tyrion -- the woman wasn't a prostitute and really did just love Tyrion for himself.
    • Inverted with Tyrion's wedding night with Sansa, where pity is described as being "the death of passion."
  • The Plague:
    • The bloody flux, also figuratively called "the pale mare," is an acute and virulent disease that is virtually identical to dysentery, going so far as to sharing its medieval name, "the flux." It gallops through the Yunkai forces outside of Meereen, handicapping their seige.
    • Greyscale is a chronic, disfiguring disease that causes numb grey lesions to spread across the body, making the victim appear to be turning to stone. Victims in an advanced state are called "stone men" and live together in isolated colonies. Its symptoms share similarities with leprosy and smallpox. Supposedly it's relatively harmless in children, merely leaving them disfigured (notably Shireen Baratheon), but the wildlings disagree and kill afflicted children as a matter of course. Victims of Greyscale are so scorned that Jon Connington hides the fact that he has it rather than seek treatment because he won't risk abandonment by his followers.
  • Planning for The Future Before The End: Jon has something of a one-sided version of this with the dying Ygritte. He tells her that she'll be fixed up, that she'll see a hundred castles, and that they'll return to their cave together. Her response is simply, "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
  • Playing with Syringes: Qyburn, who is struck off by the Citadel but continues his research (which at its most explicit is described as "cut[ting] open the living in order to better understand death") on prisoners in Cersei's oubliettes.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege: Sansa tries one of these to save her father's life and Cersei obliges. Then Joffrey has him executed anyway. Sansa also uses this to save Ser Dontos from Joffrey's wrath by noting that he it would be "crueler" if he were made into a fool rather than executed.
  • Posthumous Character: Many the characters in the series have already died by the first page, including Rhaegar Targaryen, Aerys Targaryen, Jon Arryn, Lyanna Stark, Ashara Dayne, Elia of Dorne, Ser Arthur Dayne, etc; Ser Arlan of Peny Tree in the Dunk & Egg Saga.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: During the starvation, the hungry poor people of King's Landing become this when King Joffrey deliberately provokes them (by telling the Hound to kill anyone that gets between him and someone who threw shit at Joffrey).
  • Praetorian Guard: The Kingsguard, the Queensguard, and the Rainbow Guard. Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard killed his king, just as the historical Praetorians were prone to doing to the Roman Emperors. The Dothraki have bloodriders, sworn to defend their khal and be put to death when he dies.
  • Prank Date:
    • Tyrion and Tysha, ultimately and horribly subverted when his father Tywin has her gang-raped.
    • In a more normal, but still somewhat malicious example, A number of Renly's knights had a bet going regarding who could seduce Brienne and take her virginity and consequently, all treated her with false kindness and flattery in hopes of winning the bet. Brienne was deeply hurt when she found out about this, because their flirtation marked the first time she was treated with anything other than scorn by men and she actually was in love with one of the participants.
  • Prayer of Malice: Before she goes to sleep, Arya recites to herself a mantra which lists the names of her enemies, all of whom she plans to kill, and at one point, when she has an opportunity to engage in prayer, she recites the same list.
  • Precursors: Valyria.
  • Prequel / Prequel in the Lost Age: "The Hedge Knight", "The Sworn Sword," and "The Mystery Knight," aka the "Dunk & Egg" stories.
  • Preemptive Apology: The modus operandi of the Sorrowful Men, a guild of assassins.
  • Preemptive Declaration:

Jaime Lannister to Ryman Frey: "Only a fool makes threats he's not prepared to carry out. If I were to threaten to hit you unless you shut your mouth, and you presumed to speak, what do you think I'd do?"
'Ryman: "Ser, you do not unders-" (cut off by Jaime backhanding him in the face)

  • Pretty Boy:
    • Loras Tyrell, the "Knight of Flowers" is noted as being slender, long-haired and pretty, though he is just as masculine as the other knights.
    • Also, Joffrey Baratheon, who is described as a combination of his sister Myrcella and his uncle Jaime, who also happens to be his father.
    • Jaime was apparently one in his early youth, when he and his beautiful sister were almost spitting images of each other.
    • Lancel Lannister is also said to resemble a younger Jaime.
    • Rhaegar Targaryen was described as incredibly beautiful, and a White-Haired Pretty Boy to boot.
    • Aegon "Young Griff" is described as taking after his true father, with eyelashes "as long as any woman's," purple eyes, and a lithe, skinny build. And once he gets all that dye out...
  • Private Military Contractors: There are many named sellsword companies. Each has their own traditions and reputation, ranging from scum like the Brave Companions to the elite Golden Company. The world is also filled with independent sellswords and hedge knights, who bounce from job to job. Bronn is the series' most notable sellsword.
  • Promotion to Parent:
    • Robb Stark, who fails for the most part.
    • Griff raises Aegon Targaryen on his riverboat with the help of a few tutors, and seems to have done a pretty good job.
    • Viserys is this with regards to Daenerys, and firmly lands in Abusive Parents territory.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy:
    • The Dothraki, who live to conquer. They have no system of commerce, only gifts and plunder.
    • The wildlings are ruled by strength rather than bloodlines.
    • The Ironborn, who look down on paying for anything with gold, or even working for their food. They take pride in stealing what they want and living on the labor of thralls.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone:
    • "Green dreams," as defined by Jojen Reed, are prophetic dreams had by some humans, but most commonly by greenseers. Several characters have what appear to be prophetic dreams, some of which have come true by A Dance With Dragons.
    • Skinchangers have a different type of psychic dream, being able to control their bonded animals in their sleep.
  • Psycho for Hire: Tywin Lannister is so fond of using these for his foraging missions that Arya wonders how many monsters are on his payroll. Of particular note are the Brave Companions, a sellsword company made up of killers, rapists, sadists, a cannibal, a pedophile, an Evil Clown, and other psychopaths. The Boltons happily make use of them when they turn their cloaks.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Viserys, and to some extent Theon as well.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Arya when killing The Tickler and Brienne when killing Shagwell, with both of them momentarily berserk with rage by the end of it.
  • Punctuation Shaker: Jaqen H'ghar, amongst others. Lampshaded when Arya is unable to pronounce "R'hllor".
  • Racial Remnant: The Targaryen family are refugees from the Doom of Valyria and, together with House Velaryon, are the last remnant of the Valyrian people. They're easily identifiable by their distinct appearance.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Night's Watch, the Brave Companions, and the Brotherhood Without Banners.
  • Rape, Pillage and Burn: Happens quite a lot. The Brave Companions, Gregor Clegane and his men, and the Dothraki are particularly fond of it. This is more-or-less what the traditional Ironborn culture is all about.
  • Rashomon Style: Surprisingly rare -- despite the multiple-POV format, chapters tend not to overlap -- but one example in A Feast For Crows shows both sides of a conversation between Samwell and Jon.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Septa Lemore, Lyanna Stark and Ashara Dayne.
  • Ravens and Crows: Ravens serve as messenger birds throughout Westeros, often delivering bad news. This leads to the commonly-repeated expression, "dark wings, dark words." Jeor Mormont's old pet raven can also speak a few words, which often seem ominously prophetic. The Maesters of the Citadel also breed special white ravens who are only released to signify the official changing of seasons; one shows up at the end of A Dance With Dragons to show that winter has, in fact, come.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Some characters wear costumes that would be considered "girly" in real life western culture, but have more masculine significance in their own culture.
    • The warrior class of Slaver's Bay wear outlandish costumes and styled hair, though they prove to be pretty worthless in combat.
    • Lord Roose Bolton of the Dreadfort and his pale pink robes. In the past, the Boltons really wore the flayed skins of their enemies as capes. Westeros doesn't seem to see pink as a feminine color to begin with.
    • Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, bedecks himself in armor and costumes with a flower theme, the symbol of his great house.
    • The members of Renly Baratheon's Rainbow Guard each wear a color of the rainbow, which is a symbol of the Faith of the Seven.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The Night's Watch often serves this purpose for criminals, disgraced ex-soldiers and Black Sheep members of noble houses. This backfires on the Watch big time when some of these former criminals kill Lord Commander Mormont.
  • Reassignment Backfire: Happens to several characters who are sent to join the Night's Watch.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lord Tywin delivers a brutal (and ironically, undeserved) one to his son, Tyrion.
  • Redheaded Hero: Robb, Bran and Sansa.
  • Red Right Hand:
    • Sandor Clegane's scars and Tyrion's deformity cause most people to assume that they're monsters. Although both can be pretty brutal when they want to be, they ultimately subvert the trope.
    • Roose Bolton is normal-looking except for his creepy "pale" eyes.
    • A literal example in Victarion Greyjoy, whose infected hand becomes magically healed by a red priest. It appears horrifically burned, but it's apparently painless and supernaturally strong. The hand coincides with Victarion becoming increasingly convinced that he is favored by the gods to seize Dany's dragons for himself and kill anyone in his path.
    • Biter's filed teeth and Rorge's slit nose, both directly caused by their villainy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Fire and Ice is a central theme, so there are a number of examples:
  • Reforged Blade: Rare villainous example, in which Tywin has Ice, the ancestral Stark weapon, split into two smaller blades (Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail).
  • Reformed but Rejected: Jaime Lannister will probably never get over his reputation.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In-universe -- after the Red Wedding, the Freys know no-one would believe that the Starks were the first to break the rules of Sacred Hospitality... so their story is that the Starks all simultaneously warged into wolves and began slaughtering people.
  • Regent for Life: Several characters make a go at becoming this, with varying success.
  • Religion Is Magic: Magic is left vague and mysterious, but a good portion of the magic we see is rooted in a religion of some form. Several followers of R'hllor are able to perform magical feats. Other types of magic, such as skinchanging and prophetic dreams, are linked with greenseers and the old gods.
  • Religion of Evil:
    • The faith of the Ironborn tends to come across this way, since their deity is basically Cthulhu and a popular form of worship is drowning people in the course of their typical raping and pillaging.
    • The faith of Rh'llor presents itself as good and loving and as a necessary bullwark against the "Great Other," who aims to wipe out humanity. However, their sinister priests are shown burning people alive as sacrifices and practicing necromancy.
    • The Many-Faced God worshiped in the House of Black and White is rather hard to pin down. The priests offer painless euthanasia to the suffering, and their founder led the Braavosi out of bondage. They also offer Arya Stark shelter and support in return for a debt. However, their priests are Faceless Men, a feared and Shrouded in Myth guild of shapeshifting assassins who are brainwashed into a total Loss of Identity.
    • Craster worships The Others and sacrifices his male children to them.
  • The Remnant:
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners is the remnant of a group sent out to bring the King's justice on Gregor Clegane. They turn into La Résistance after the Lannisters take control of the throne, thus becoming the law. After their leader Beric Dondarrion dies for good, they turn into a sad remnant of their former selves when they get a new leader who steers them toward personal vengeance.
    • The Sons of the Harpy, a "resistance" to Daenerys' rule over Meereen, killing freedmen and "Shavepates", who are regarded as collaborators.
  • Replacement Goldfish:
    • Sansa for her rescuer and mentor Petyr Baelish due to her striking resemblance to Catelyn, her mother and his ill-fated love. He's currently planning a match between her and another heir for political reasons, though.
    • Ser Jorah confesses to Daenerys that she reminds him of Lynesse.
    • Cersei's musings on Aurane Waters include comparisons (of whim-dependent favorability) to Rhaegar.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Littlefinger gives this to Sansa as an excuse for killing Ser Dontos, who was Littlefinger's spy pretending to be her confidant.
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: The attempt to kill Bran after his injury
  • Royal Blood
  • Royally Screwed-Up:
    • The Targaryens, though it seems to be touch and go: there's an equal chance that each new Targaryen baby will be a total nutter like Aerys or a reasonably capable leader like his son, Rhaegar.
    • The Baratheons are hardly any better; Robert was a lazy, inconsistent ruler as well as a drunk and adulterer, his brothers went to war over his throne, and the two children who've succeeded him are actually his wife's bastards by her own brother. Joffrey in particular seemed to share the worst qualities of both his biological parents and his legal father, and the graces of none of them.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most characters in the series.
  • Rule of Three:
    • In A Storm of Swords, there's a detailed description of how Robb bids farewell to Jeyne Westerling thrice before departing to his uncle Edmure's wedding, which turns into the Red Wedding, making it the last time the couple bid farewell to each other.
    • Jaqen's life debt to Arya plays out as a "wasting the first two of your three wishes" plot familiar to lots of Genie in a Bottle stories.
    • The Rule of Three runs through Dany's whole story - contrast the Rule Of Seven in the Westeros chapters. She's one of three children (as are a lot of past Targaryen generations), she has three bloodriders, three handmaids, three dragons, three ships. She sends her bloodriders out from Vaes Tolorro to find civilisation, and only the third succeeds, returning with three envoys from Qarth, only the third of which is any help. The Undying's prophecy is stacked to the gills with threes - the famous line that "the dragon has three heads", along with "three fires must you light, one for life and one for death and one to love... three mounts must you ride: one to bed and one to dread and one to love... three treasons will you know: once for blood and once for gold and once for love". She conquers three Ghiscari cities, settling in the third.
  • Running Gag:
    • Shagga's "I'll chop off your manhood and feed it to the goats!" There's a reference to this running gag in the Dunk and Egg stories, but with dogs instead of goats. Tyrion also gets in on the act:

Tyrion: I'll chop off your manhood and feed it to the goats.
Bronn: You don't have any goats.
Tyrion: I'll get some, just for you.

    • "As useless as nipples on a breastplate" is quipped by multiple people throughout the series. The gag continues when Ser Jorah Mormont is shown in A Dance With Dragons wearing a breastplate with pierced nipples.