Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men... all will play the 'Game of Thrones'.
In the land of Westeros, the seasons last for years. The story opens with the threat of a long winter fast approaching. The Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, has unexpectedly died. King Robert ventures north to Winterfell to name his old friend, Eddard Stark, his new Hand and second in command. Despite the concerns of his wife, Catelyn, Eddard reluctantly accepts his new title out of duty. Whilst there, he uncovers evidence that Jon Arryn was murdered--and that the hand behind Arryn's death may now be poised to strike the king. It Gets Worse from thereon.
The series was adapted for television by David Benioff and Dan Weiss. In describing the series to newcomers, Benioff jokingly called it "The Sopranos meets Middle-earth". The producers and Martin have a tentative plan for eight seasons, with one of the larger middle books being split into two. Contingency plans for a Gecko Ending are also in place in case Martin hasn't finished the last two books before the series catches up.
The first season was nominated for 13 Emmy awards, winning two -- Best Opening Title and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama (Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister).
- The Abridged Series: Found here.
- Absentee Actor: With such a huge Ensemble Cast, this is inevitable. Two actors did appear in every episode that aired before their characters were Killed Off for Real: Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon) and Sean Bean (Ned Stark).
- Action Girl:
- Arya. She practices swordplay and looks up to fellow action girls from Westerosi history, such as Visenya Targaryen, sister of Aegon the Conqueror.
- Brienne of Tarth.
- Wildling spearwives such as Ygritte and Osha.
- Adaptation-Induced Plothole: In the intro to the novel A Game of Thrones, the last surviving Night's Watchman is Gared, who stays with the horses during the Others attack. In the series, the only survivor is changed to Will, who still comes face-to-face with the White Walkers. How or why he survived the White Walker attack is never explained.
- Adaptational Attractiveness:
- Jorah Mormont in the book is hairy, balding and "not handsome", which is a stark contrast to how he looks in the series (played by Iain Glenn). Eloquently demonstrated here.
- Tyrion Lannister is described as having not only dwarfism but also a deformed face. Peter Dinklage portrays him without facial deformity. The facial wound he receives on the Blackwater is also much less grievous.
- Ned Stark is described as "plain" in the book, but is played by Mr. Fanservice stalwart Sean Bean.
- Lysa Arryn is described as being very fat, wearing a thick coat of painted makeup, and having a sour milk smell. In the series, she is extremely skinny and looks like a more gaunt version of her sister Catelyn Stark.
- Robin Arryn is a normal-looking child in the show, while in the books he's sickly and small for his age, constantly has a runny nose and watery eyes, and suffers bouts of shaking fits.
- In the books, Dagmer Cleftjaw has a horrible scar that splits his lower face in half. In the show, he's just called Dagmer and has no facial scar.
- Brienne is described as extremely ugly in the books, but she's fairly average, apart from her height, in the series.
- Adaptation Dye Job: In the books, all the Stark kids except Jon and Arya are redheads like their mother. In the series, Sansa and Robb are the only redheads (Robb's is especially dark, but it is definitely red), Bran is Stark-colored and Rickon is blond.
- Adaptation Name Change: The White Walkers, which aren't referred to by their book name ("the Others") at all.
- Asha Greyjoy is renamed Yara to avoid confusion with Osha.
- Adipose Rex:
- King Robert. He used to be a great warrior, but got fat while on the throne.
- Magister Illyrio is overweight and has a high rank in Pentos.
- The Spice King is fat and apparently leads well... led the Thirteen of Qarth.
- [Anti-Villain]: Jaime attempts to murder a child and kills his own cousin but he is exceedingly loyal to his immediate family.
- Aerith and Bob: People from Westeros tend to have European names, some familiar (Robert, Jon) and others more exotic (Eddard, Sandor). People whose families hail from outside Westeros, such as the Dothraki and the Targaryens, have fantastical names (Viserys, Drogo). The last two kings of Westeros were Aerys and Robert, which is quite close to the trope name.
- Age Lift: In the books, the Ned/Robert/Catelyn/Cersei/Jaime generation are in their early to mid 30s while the Daenerys/Jon/Robb generation are in their early teens. In the show, the older generation is implied to be somewhere in their early to mid 40s and the younger generation are 16-18. This is less jarring than having fifty-something Sean Bean convince us he's 35 or having someone who looks 13 play the lead in Daenerys' story, and especially since some of the scenes they'd have to film might in fact be illegal to film with an underage actor.
- The Alliance: Robert's Rebellion, which gathered four of the eight Great Houses against the King.
- Alternate Reality Game: The Maester's Path
- Ancient Tradition: The Night's Watch.
- And I Must Scream: This fate is planned for Daenerys Targaryen at the end of Season 2; she ends up turning the tables with the same exact punishment for Xaro and Doreah.
- And Starring:
- Peter Dinklage gets the "and" credit at the end in the first season. In the second, he receives first billing.
- Jason Momoa is given "also starring" as his billing--rather unusually. This appears in the end credits, after the guest stars have been listed.
- Animal Motifs: Used both for Houses and individual nicknames.
- Many Great Houses have an animal on their coat of arms that represents them and frequently tells you something about the house, metaphorically. Four of them are represented on the series' title--the stag (Baratheon), the direwolf (Stark), the dragon (Targaryen), and the lion (Lannister). The astrolabe sun in the opening tells parts of the back story with these animals: the dragon takes over and rules Westeros, then proceeds to go nuts, so the stag, lion and direwolf slay it; the stag now wears a crown and the wolf and lion bow to it. This is a metaphor about what happened seventeen years ago.
- The sigils next to the actors' names also correspond to their characters' Houses.
- Varys is frequently referred to as the Spider, because he has a web of spies.
- While Sandor Clegane is known as the Hound, and in a manner of speaking he acts as a hound for Joffrey.
- Littlefinger made his own sigil, a mockingbird.
- Ravens and crows are a running motif. Ravens are used to send messages, Bran sees a three-eyed crow in his dreams, and wildlings refer to Night's Watchmen as "crows" because of their black uniforms. The birds are also common in promotional artwork.
- Anyone Can Die: With a spoiler box that will only grow longer as the series continues, the list has been moved down to Killed Off for Real below. Also, invoked/lampshaded in-world by Arya in the Season 2 trailer: "Anyone can be killed."
- Arc Number: Used in-universe in the Seven Kingdoms with the Faith of the Seven, worshiped primarily in the south. There are seven gods, seven Kingsguards, seven hells, etc. Perhaps by coincidence, the soundtrack to the second season trailer is "Seven Devils" by Florence and the Machine.
- Arc Words:
- "Winter is coming."
- "Don't wake the Dragon" and later "Fire and Blood" in the Daenerys arc.
- "The night is dark and full of terrors."
- Armor Is Useless:
- Ser Hugh is killed in a joust when he's struck in the neck by a splinter of Gregor Clegane's lance. In the books, it's explained that he lacked a squire and so did not put on his gorget correctly; in the show it's subtly implied the armor was sabotaged.
- Syrio defeats several armored guards with a wooden practice sword, knocking a few out by hitting them on the helmet before the Kingsguard breaks the stick. In the book, the guards are lightly armored and Syrio hits unprotected spots, but the Kingsguard is wearing full plate...
- Jorah Mormont gets into a debate with Rakharo over the merits of armor. Jorah argues that armor will make an arakh useless, while Rakharo believes speed trumps protection. Jorah is right, as Qotho fatally discovers.
- Played straight when Bronn champions Tyrion against Ser Vardis Egan. Bronn refuses a shield and wears almost no armor, using his speed and maneuverability to simply evade his opponent until Egan's heavy armor exhausts him and makes him a sitting duck. Bronn then puts down Egan by immobilizing him in a position in which he can insert his sword under the man's armor and into his body.
- Armour Piercing Question:
- Theon delivers an epic one to his father.
Balon: "We do not sow. We are Ironborn! We are not subjects, we are not slaves. We do not plow the fields, nor toil in the mine. We take what is ours! Your time with the wolves has made you weak!"
- Theon is on the receiving end later: "Did you hate us the whole time?"
- Army of Thieves and Whores: The Night's Watch which offers atonement for anyone who joins the ranks.
- Ascended Extra: Loras Tyrell has a much bigger role in the first season than he did in the first book. He's The Man Behind the Man to Renly, subtly working to convince him that he should become king. And his sexual relationship with Renly (which was only subtly hinted at in the book) is explicitly shown.
- Ascended Meme: In-universe example: "A Lannister always pays his debts" is not the House's official motto but still a well-known saying.
- Assault with a Deadly Antler: Any deaths in the general vicinity of House Baratheon are unable to avoid having antlers associated with them.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: The Dothraki, the Wildlings, and the Mountain Clans. This is also the way Robert got the Iron Throne, but is somewhat deconstructed in that he's shown to be a terrible peacetime ruler who hates the job.
- As You Know:
- Jaime begins his first conversation with Cersei by reminding her that he is her brother, for the benefit of the audience. This scene wasn't in the original pilot and was written and included at the suggestion of HBO, who feared that the viewers would not get the significance of one banging the other in the last scene of the episode - despite the fact that Jaime enters Winterfell while somebody in the crowd literally says "Look! It's Jaime Lannister, the Queen's brother!"
- Tyrion spells out Jon's place in the Stark family to Jon himself, which is justified as firmly reminding him that no one else will ever forget he's a bastard, so he shouldn't try to deny it.
- Jaime gives Jon a lot of exposition about the Wall and the Night's Watch, framed as a subtle warning about what he's getting himself into.
- Lampshaded with the reveal about Varys: "Did you know Lord Varys is a eunuch?" "Everyone knows that!"
- Tyrion describes the Greyjoy rebellion to Theon Greyjoy, along with pointing out that he's the Starks' ward. Maester Luwin is also fond of doing this. Of course in both cases they're just doing it to remind Theon he's not as awesome or as important or even as welcome as he thinks he is.
- In the second season, Stannis describes the reason why he made Davos a knight to Davos himself. He makes it during a speech explaining why he considers Davos better than any of his other knights (none of which have been named or had lines on screen).
- Audible Sharpness:
- Near the start of the first episode, a couple of spears make little metallic scraping noises simply from being pointed at someone.
- Played with in Arya's first sword fighting lesson, as we hear the wooden sounds made by the wooden practice swords morph to make metallic clangs while Ned, smiling at first and then starting to look a bit disturbed, watches his daughter fall victim to one "killing stroke" after another. By the end of the scene the sounds have morphed into the audio of a full blown battle, complete with screaming.
- Played straight with quite a few swords and spears in the second half of the season.
- Authority Equals Asskicking:
- There are several examples of men in power due to their birth who are still fearsome fighters, such as Jaime Lannister and Robert Baratheon. King Stannis Baratheon takes the cake when he personally leads the assault over the wall of King's Landing in "Blackwater", and fights like a One-Man Army.
- Tyrion Lannister gives a justification for this trope when he notes that the social elite get much better equipment and are trained from birth in combat. Jon Snow finds this out when he joins the Watch and his lowborn fellow recruits barely know which end of a sword to hold.
- Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Khal Drogo really didn't care all that much about Westeros, until Robert tried to assassinate Daenerys. Then he becomes hell-bent on vengeance.
- Awesome but Impractical: Aegon the Conqueror deliberately had the Iron Throne made so it would be uncomfortable to sit on.
- Awesome McCoolname: In a world of fantasy that is Game of Thrones, it's pretty much standard.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning:
- In "Fire and Blood", we get two: first, the Stark bannermen proclaim Robb the King in the North following Eddard's death, and then Daenerys proclaims herself the new leader of the khalasar after Drogo's death.
- Also, appropriately enough, in "A Golden Crown" for Viserys. "Tremble to behold" indeed. Though that's really a Horrifying Moment of Crowning that's only Awesome by virtue of the crownee being a first-rate Asshole Victim.
- Badass Boast:
- The words of each Noble House is one -- Bran mentions House Baratheon's "Ours is the Fury", House Greyjoy's "We Do Not Sow", House Tully's "Family, Duty, Honor", and House Martell's "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" in one episode. The lone exception is the Starks' "Winter is Coming", but Robb Stark manages to use it as a Badass Boast anyway:
Robb: "Tell Lord Tywin that winter is coming for him."
- Earlier, the Stark motto came up in conversation between Ned and his daughter Arya:
Ned: "You're a Stark. You know our words."
- "The Prince of Winterfell" features one from Tyrion to Cersei: "I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you will know the debt is paid."
- Badass Creed: The Night's Watch qualifies:
"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 shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."
- Badass Family: The Lannisters, Starks and Targaryens all aspire to embody this trope, in various flavors and with various levels of success.
- Badass Longcoat: Jaime pulls this off with a duster practically whenever he's not wearing his armor.
- Bad Future: Daenerys gets a glimpse of this in the House of the Undying. The Red Keep is in ruins, winter has come (and hasn't left for a long time), everyone's dead, and snow sits on the Iron Throne.
- Balancing Death's Books: Arya releases three prisoners in danger of dying in a fire. One of them later invokes the trope and offers to kill any three people that she nominates.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Dothraki, the Wildlings, and the hill tribes.
- Batman Gambit: Robb purposely tells the captured Lannister scout his plans and lets him go because it's a ploy to fool Tywin into responding to a diversionary attack while Robb attacks Jaime's forces.
- The Beard: In Season Two, Margaery is shown to be well aware of her role, much to Renly's surprise. She tries to persuade him that even if he'd rather sleep with her brother, he still needs to father an heir to strengthen his position (and to make her a more convincing Beard).
- The Beautiful Elite:
- The Lannisters, except for Tyrion, as he is acutely aware.
- The Tyrells
- The Starks
- Averted with the Freys
- Beauty Equals Goodness:
- Utterly averted, Jaime and Cersei are strikingly attractive, but deeply horrible people. Their brother Tyrion is sneered at for being a dwarf, but is a pretty decent guy.
- Sansa learns this lesson when the only people to speak up for her while she's being stripped and beaten on Joffrey's orders are Sandor (whose face is half burnt) and Tyrion.
- If Daenerys - and her dragons - is saviour of the Seven Kingdoms, then you could say that her beauty enforces this trope.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In the book, Daenerys' hair is burned off in her Out of the Inferno moment. In the series, it's as fireproof as the rest of her - and not even a bit sooty.
- Berserk Button:
- Ned Stark is a pretty mellow guy most of the time, but disrespecting his wife will still get you choke-slammed.
- Threaten Daenerys or question his authority and Khal Drogo will end you in spectacular fashion.
- Jaime attacks Ned Stark in the street for the Starks taking his brother hostage.
- Ser Jorah is normally a calm, gentlemanly knight... until you disrespect Daenerys.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: In "Blackwater", Ilyn Payne stands guard over the hold-fast where the highborn women and children are holed up. Cersei initially claims he's there as protection, but Sansa comes to realize he's there to kill them rather than let them be taken hostage. Cersei herself has procured a vial of poison.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Daenerys proves, in "Fire and Blood", that she's no longer someone you screw with, when she has Mirri tied to Drogo's funeral pyre to burn alive as punishment for deceiving her.
- The Lannisters take a little too long to learn this lesson about Robb Stark.
- Big Bad: Lord Tywin Lannister or King Joffrey Baratheon to the Stark family.
- Big Badass Wolf: Direwolves in general, which grow to be the size of a pony. It may be implied the direwolves somehow take after the humans who own them.
- The first time we really see Shaggydog is when he comes snarling out of the crypt to attack Osha.
- Nymeria shows her colors when she jumps in to savage Joffrey for daring to threaten Arya.
- Bran's direwolf, Summer, also has his moment when he tears out the throat of his would-be assassin.
- Jon's albino direwolf, Ghost, who helps his master warn one of the Night's Watch would-be-bullies to lay off Samwell, and unlike other animals shows no fear of those touched by the White Walkers.
- Grey Wind, Robb's direwolf, takes off two fingers from a bannerman who draws steel on Robb. He's also said to have killed "a dozen men and as many horses" in battle with the Lannisters.
- Averted by Lady, who is gentle and well-behaved as Sansa.
- Big Damn Heroes: Tywin Lannister and Loras Tyrell arriving just in time to save Tommen Baratheon from being poisoned by his mother.
- Bigger Bad: However, when the White Walkers come, everybody is screwed.
- Bigger Bad: The Night King
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Hodor's package is Osha-approved. Tyrion also claims that it's his one gift of size.
- Big Little Man: Tyrion Lannister is introduced talking face-to-face with a prostitute, who is crouched down so she can... well, never mind. It's not until she stands up that we see Tyrion is a dwarf.
- Big No:
- Brienne yells this after Melisandre's shadow demon kills Renly by stabbing him through the heart.
- Maester Luwin reacts this way to what Theon displays to the people of Winterfell in "A Man Without Honor".
- Stannis in the end of the Battle of the Blackwater.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: Most notably the Lannisters and the Arryns. The Freys seem to be one as well.
- Black and Gray Morality
- The Blacksmith: Gendry, holding up the family tradition of wielding hammers.
- Bling of War: Jaime's golden armor, in striking contrast to the utilitarian armor worn by the Stark household guard. Lampshaded by Ned:
"Very handsome armor. Not a scratch on it."
- Blood Magic: Mirri Maz Duur knows it, calling it by name, and warns Daenerys that it has a terrible price.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The Dothraki.
- Bodyguard Betrayal
- When the Gold Cloaks turn on Ned at the end of "You Win or You Die".
- Also, what The Kingslayer did to the Mad King. He deserved it though.
- During the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion is attacked by his Kingsguard escort.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Syrio Forel prepares to duel a member of the Kingsguard, with a broken wooden sword, while Arya makes her escape.
- Book Ends: Related to Animal Motifs. Begins with the discovery of the wolf and stag carcasses as an omen of the fall of the Stark and Baratheon houses. Ends with the hatching of Daenerys' dragons symbolizing the resurgence of House Targaryen. Appropriately, the first and last episode of Season One (where these two events take place) are titled "Winter is Coming" and "Fire and Blood", the words of houses Stark and Targaryen, respectively. Also, in the beginning and ending episodes of Season One, Black Brothers ride under the Wall.
- Brain Bleach: The look on Theon's face when he realizes that the woman he attempted to seduce, and even groped, was his big sister Yara!
- Brains and Brawn:
- Tyrion to Bronn and the Hill Tribes.
- Bran to Osha and Hodor, though Osha has her own brand of cleverness.
- Tyrion also alludes to this with him and his brother, although Jaime is by no metric dumb.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
- In one episode Tyrion asks Bronn what he wants. "Gold? Women? Golden women?"
- On another episode, Tyrion says, "We've had vicious kings, and we've had idiot kings, but I don't know if we've ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king!"
- Brick Joke:
- In "The Kingsroad", Tyrion mentions he wants to visit the Wall so he can "piss off the edge of the world." He goes through with it, to Jon Snow's amusement, near the end of "Lord Snow".
- Also, the possibility of a Dothraki invasion:
Daenerys: If my brother was given an army of Dothraki, could he conquer The Seven Kingdoms?
- British Accents: Appropriately, the Northerners speak (on the whole) with Yorkshire accents -- Sean Bean's native Sheffield accent is perhaps the best example. The Southerners (on the whole) speak with more of a London/RP accent -- Cersei and Joffrey are good examples. This follows the North/South accent distribution in England. There also seems to be a tendency for characters from the Vale to speak with Irish accents, most notably with Littlefinger's slight lilt, and several of the background characters from the episodes set in this area have these accents as well.
- Brother-Sister Incest:
- Targaryens used to practice marrying brother to sister to preserve the purity of their bloodline (which could have led to the madness of their last king).
- Also, Cersei and Jaime Lannister.
- Almost happened between Theon and Yara Greyjoy.
- The Bully: There are quite few of them among the recruits at the Wall. Unsurprising given the circumstances that landed most of the recruits there.
- Bullying a Dragon:
- Mirri, in a (somewhat) literal example.
- In the Season Two finale, Pyat Pree, in a literal example after the fact, is killed by the infant dragons of Daenerys, his captive. Since he is not aware of any possible backfire at this early stage of development it can also be classified as Mugging the Monster.
- The Caligula:
- Joffrey very quickly becomes this, revelling in his power over life and death and taking the cruel option at all times, whether or not it makes any political sense.
- The Posthumous Character Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King, was a bad enough ruler that his sworn guard Jaime was driven to kill him.
- Call Back:
- After gleefully telling the injured Tyrion what a mess he's in, Grand Maester Pycelle flicks him a coin, saying, "For your trouble", calling back to when Tyrion arrested him in his bedroom and tipped his prostitute using the same words.
- In the House of the Undying, Daenerys rejects her vision of living with Drogo and their child by repeating the words said to her by Mirri Maz Duur, that she would have a child "when the sun rises in the west and sets in the east" and so forth.
- The Cameo / One-Scene Wonder: Ed Sheeran because.
- Canon Foreigner: A lot, which is expected, given how many characters the show has to condense from the novels. Leads also to many a Composite Character.
- Cassandra Truth:
- People keep warning about the White Walkers, but no one's doing anything about it. Even those who do seem concerned, like Tyrion and Ned, get distracted by other matters and seem to completely forget about them.
- "Winter is Coming", the Stark motto, could be considered this. While everyone is busy playing power games and coups--and indeed, each house's words reflect this--the Starks' only concern is the long and brutal winter that's on the horizon, which could last years.
- Casting Gag:
- Natalie Dormer as Magaery. The role is quite similar to her turn as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors. Both are ambitious queens of dubious virginity.
- The series' regular audiobook narrator Roy Dotrice was going to play Pycelle, but health concerns forced him into a cameo as Pyromancer Hallyne.
- Natalia Tena plays Osha, a wildling woman who teaches Bran about skinchangers. In the Harry Potter franchise, she played Nymphadora Tonks, a skinchanger in her own right.
- Catapult Nightmare: Sansa in "A Man Without Honor", dreaming of her Near-Rape Experience.
- The Cavalry: Literal example in the Battle of Blackwater. The mounted forces of Ser Loras Tyrell and Tywin Lannister arrive at the last moment and win the battle for the defenders driving back the second wave of Stannis' forces, prompting a general retreat by the attackers.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Jorah's talk with Rakharo about how a Dothraki blade won't pierce plate armor.
- Dragon eggs.
- Dragon Glass, comes in handy for dispatching White Walkers.
- As does Valyrian Steel.
- The Lannister lion necklace that Tyrion gives Ros as a tip, seen in Episode 5 of Season One, gets her implicated as Tyrion's whore in Episode 8 of Season Two.
- Daenerys teaching her dragons to breathe fire on command, first presented as a pet trick, becomes very important in Season Two finale "Valar Morghulis".
- Chekhov's Gunman: Ser Illyn Payne, the King's Justice (aka the Royal Executioner), is introduced briefly in "The Kingsroad", and has a big role to play in "Baelor", though his appearance is just as brief.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Bran's habit of climbing the walls and buildings of Winterfell is established early on in the pilot.
- Later on, Theon's archery skills, which he rightly boasts about.
- Cherry Tapping: Khal Drogo does this when Mago challenges his authority. He casually dodges Mago's attacks and completely disarms himself, then kills him with his own weapon to show how many orders of magnitute more badass he is.
- A Child Shall Lead Them:
- When Robb leaves Winterfell to fight against House Lannister, Bran is technically the new Lord of Winterfell.
- Bran's cousin Robin Arryn is the Lord of the Eyrie.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
- Even though the Freys are bannermen for House Tully, they have a history of refusing to help unless they have something to gain. The Starks and their more trustworthy allies are Genre Savvy enough to assume that House Frey could sell them out at any moment if they don't know the Starks or Tullys could give a better price.
- Littlefinger warns Ned Stark that the Gold Cloaks will only be loyal to whoever pays them the most.
- The Greyjoys led a rebellion against Robert in the backstory, leading to Theon being forced to live with the Starks as hostage. The second Theon returns, to offer peace terms from Robb, Balon Greyjoy plots to rebel against the North again, and Theon joins him.
- City of Spies: According to Littlefinger, just about everyone in King's Landing is a spy for someone.
- The Clan: Each of the major houses could be considered one, what with their long and complex histories, tangled branches, sigils and mottoes, and similar looks, which become a plot point concerning Joffrey's parentage. House Frey is a notable example, with Lord Walder Frey's multitudes of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. People in the Seven Kingdoms joke Lord Frey is the only man in the Seven Kingdoms who could field an army out of his britches.
- Cliff Hanger:
- Season 1: Sansa is held captive in the court of King's Landing. Tyrion becomes Hand of the King. Arya, disguised as a boy, joins a caravan of "volunteers" for The Wall. Robb is declared King in the North. Jon Snow and others of the Night's Watch venture out beyond The Wall. Daenerys puts Khal Drogo out of his misery and hatches her dragon eggs.
- Season 2: Sansa's engagement to Joffrey is nullified and Littlefinger offers to get her out of the city. Tywin and the Tyrells assume power in King's Landing. Arya escapes Lannister custody and vows to return to her family. Robb breaks his marriage pact. Jon Snow goes to meet Mance Rayder. Daenerys loots riches for ships. Winterfell is razed, Theon is betrayed by his men and the Stark boys flee north. The White Walkers move to attack the rangers beyond the Wall.
- Clock Punk: Not the show itself, but the opening animation invokes it. Watch as King's Landing, Winterfell, the Wall, and land across the Narrow Sea come out of the ground. Later locations, like the Eyrie and the Twins, are depicted here as the show focuses on them.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Gregor Clegane and his underlings employ it indiscriminately, and Roose Bolton advocates that Robb use it to gain information from Lannister prisoners.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience:
- The Lannisters are evil blondes, probably because of incest. The Baratheons are all black-haired warriors. The Targaryens are all universally white haired and pale, because they're descended from Valyrians. Actually plays a rather large part in the plot, especially considering hair color isn't the only thing being passed down.
- Soldiers' uniforms: Stark soldiers wear grey, Lannister soldiers wear red and gold, Baratheon soldiers wear light brown, soldiers of the Vale wear blue, the Kingsguard wear white, the Dothraki wear brown, the Night's Watch wear black and Greyjoy soldiers wear dark, Cambridge blue.
- Combat Pragmatist: Since this is a series where things don't go well for those who act honorably, there's multiple examples of characters winning fights by not fighting "fair":
- Loras Tyrell wins his joust with Gregor Clegane (and avoids being "accidentally" killed by Gregor) by riding a mare in heat (knowing Gregor would be riding a stallion). Characters disagree over whether or not this is cheating.
- Bronn wins his Duel to the Death because he didn't fight with honor and his opponent did. He ran away from his heavily armoured opponent until the knight was too tired to fight.
- The Dothraki believe that armor is for the weak. Jorah fights one wearing armor, and the Dothraki's speed doesn't do much against plate and mail.
- Robb refuses to fight a Combat by Champion against one of the deadliest warriors in the Seven Kingdoms, because he knows he would lose.
- In a tournament between Brienne and Loras, Loras disarms Brienne but she tackles him and draws a dagger forcing him to yield.
- Comet of Doom: Visible in the skies of Westeros in the season two premiere.
- Completely Missing the Point: Sansa has a way with unintentional irony.
- When talking to Ned about Joffrey:
Ned: "When you're old enough I'll make you a match, someone that's worthy of you. Someone who's brave and gentle and strong."
Sansa: "I'll be a good wife to [Joffrey], you'll see. I'll be a queen just like you, I promise! I won't hatch anything!"
- Composite Character: Several. The most common theme behind such characters in this series is incorporating the roles of other characters into already existing ones in order to cut down on the list of side characters that would otherwise need to be introduced.
- Con Lang: A Dothraki language was created for the series. Apparently, they have 14 words for 'horse' and no word for "thank you".
- Continuity Lock Out: If you haven't read the books, you really have to start watching at the beginning to have any hope of following the story.
- Cool Chair: The Iron Throne was forged in dragonfire by Aegon the Conqueror out of the swords of his defeated subjects. Many promotional shots for the show feature various characters sitting on it. As you might expect from a chair made from blades, it's bloody uncomfortable to actually sit on.
- Cool Pet:
- The Direwolves.
- Also, as of the season finale, the dragons.
- Cool Sword: As in the novels, most families have their own cool sword (or other weapon) passed down from one generation to the next. The only one we've seen thus far is the Starks' claymore Ice. Not to mention the other cool swords owned and named by individual characters, such as Arya's Needle and Jon's Longclaw (which was House Mormont's family cool sword).
- Couch Gag: The world map in the credits highlights the major areas featured in each episode.
- Country Matters:
- Joffrey's quick to use it, referring to Arya. Renly too, in reference to the Lannisters.
- Tyrion in regards to his father.
- Bronn spouts his own brand of unique, worldly wisdom with regards to Joffrey.
- After Theon Greyjoy executes and burns the bodies of two boys he claims to be Bran and Rickon Stark, his sister Yara calls him something akin to "the dumbest (of these) that ever lived."
- Final word of a Red Shirt/Laconic after The Hound puts an axe where his member used to be: "C**t!"
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Khal Drogo is an expert at this. Like ripping out someone's tongue for speaking ill of his wife Or dumping molten gold over a guy's head.
- Arya gets quite resourceful as she pursues her calling in later seasons. Especially Meryn Trant and Walder Frey - although it is his final 'meal' which is more unusual.
- The member of the Brotherhood Without Banners who loses his member to the Hound.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus:
- The Faith of the Seven (aka the New Gods), which worships One God with Seven Aspects (or "faces"), complete with Septons (priests) and Septas (nuns). Being part of the Faith (or at least paying lip service) is also mandatory to become a knight (i.e. styled "Ser"). The Old Gods, a kind of animistic folk religion, are worshiped by the wildlings and Northmen. The Old Gods don't have names, they're just referred to as "gods" (as in "Gods be good" or "Gods willing"). It's also the religion of the indigenous Children of the Forest. The Old Gods are worshiped through weirwoods, big trees with faces carved in them. There are no clear rites other than the name day, no holy books, no hymns, and no priests.
- Mirri mentions the religion of the Lhazareen, in which "all men are one flock, watched over by the Great Shepherd."
- Melisandre's Lord of Light, a fire deity who she constantly describes as the "one true God".
- Cyanide Pill: Cersei procures a bottle of poison before the events of "Blackwater", just in case. She intends to use it on herself and Tommen, but the cavalry arrive just in time.
- Dark Reprise :
- "You Win or You Die" (played at the climax of the eponymous episode) is this for "The King's Arrival" (which plays when the King arrives in Winterfell). Also reprised in "The North Remembers" when the Gold Cloaks begin the purge of Robert's bastard children.
- The National's "The Rains of Castamere" during the end credits of "Blackwater" acts as this for a far more cheery rendition performed by Bronn earlier in the episode.
- The music that accompanies the march of the White Walkers at the end of the Season 2 finale is an extremely dark, foreboding, slowed-down variation on the series's main theme.
- Deadly Decadent Court: King's Landing. Deadly for many characters, including King Robert and Ned Stark.
- Deadpan Snarker: Tyrion Lannister truly is the Lord of House Snark. His sellsword traveling companion Bronn, as well as Tyrion's older brother Jaime, can bring the snark plenty themselves. Sansa also becomes a master of subtle insults and back-handed compliments in later episodes.
- Death by Adaptation: Rakharo, Irri, and, it is implied, Xaro Xoan Daxos.
- Decoy Protagonist:
- Ser Waymar Royce.
- Ranger Will, on Royce's service.
- Ned Stark.
- Viserys Targaryen is this trope's inversion, a Decoy Antagonist.
- Demoted to Extra: Several characters suffer from this, particularly members of the Kingsguard.
- Department of Redundancy Department: From "The Ghost of Harrenhal".
Cersei: "Aren't you always so clever, with your schemes and your plots!"
- Description Cut: In Season 2 Episode 2, Cersei justifies not sending more men to the Wall on the basis that she's sure the members of the Night's Watch can ably defend the realm. Cut to Watch member Dolorous Edd amusing the others with fart jokes.
- Deus Ex Machina: dragon ex machina ("Deus Ex Machina Airlines") at the end of S05E09.
- Aryaex machina: the unexpected and dramatic ending of S8E03, The Long Night.
- Did Mom Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Tyrion returns to his quarters to find Varys chatting with his mistress Shae, who is supposed to be there secretly and her presence unknown to anyone else. Varys makes friendly conversation but obliquely references to Tyrion what a shame it would be if Tywin learned about her presence.
- Dirty Old Man:
- Walder Frey is an old man married to a 15 year old girl. He gropes her in public and brags about taking her to bed.
- The elderly Grand Maester Pycelle has more spunk than he lets on, and is seen in a rendezvous with the young prostitute Ros.
- Craster has them all beat. He had sex with his own daughters, and their daughters, and their daughters...
- Disc One Final Boss:
- At first it seems that Viserys will be the Big Bad, but his plans are constantly ignored and delayed by Khal Drogo, and when Viserys makes his move, he goes too far and gets himself killed.
- Drogo becomes this as well. Now the runner-ups for Big Bad are King Joffrey and Lord Tywin.
- Disney Death: Jon Snow.
- Distracted by the Sexy: "Jory!"
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Mirri Maz Duur talking to Daenerys about the value of life in regards to her new Empty Shell.
- The Dragon:
- The Hound to Joffrey.
- Ser Jaime Lannister and Ser Gregor Clegane to Lord Tywin.
- Bronn to Tyrion.
- Ser Vardis Egen to Lady Lysa Tully.
- Viserys considers Khal Drogo to be his Dragon (though he thinks he himself is "the Dragon" in a different sense). Drogo doesn't care what Viserys wants and kills him off when he threatens Daenerys and her and Drogo's unborn son.
- Ser Jorah Mormont for Daenerys.
- Dagmer to Theon.
- Dragon Tropes: almost of all of them, notably:
- Dragon Rider: The Targaryens used to do this, back when they had dragons to ride.
- And they do again when they are big enough for Daenerys to take flight.
- Giant Flyer, obviously. Their role as "Deus Ex Machina Airlines" is assured in S05E09.
- Here There Were Dragons: they are thought to be extinct, but they are not.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons is Turned Up to Eleven with not just dragons (which are awesome enough), but an undead dragon who was slain by a White Walker and resurrected in the finale of season 7 and thereby recruited by the Bigger Bad Night King.
- Our Dragons Are Different: The Targaryen dragons had animal intelligence, breathed fire and were large enough to carry human riders in the air. Their fire was hot enough to burn castles. They had four limbs, including their wings. They laid scaled eggs, some of which are still preserved. They were believed to have been extinct for over a century. Some people seem to believe that magic died out with the dragons. Upon their return, we learn that dragons only eat cooked meat.
- Dragon Rider: The Targaryens used to do this, back when they had dragons to ride.
- The Dreaded: The White Walkers. Seen very briefly in the first episode, and then not at all, but spoken of a few times. It's implied that when they come, a very large amount of fecal matter will collide with a rotary air circulation device.
- Dull Surprise: Bless their hearts, but Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke have a very limited emotional acting range. It's more striking when compared to the children actors. Justified for Emilia as her character has suffered emotional and physical abuse from her brother and once he died, she begins to show a little more life. There is no excuse for Kit however.
- DVD Bonus Content: The first season Blu-ray release contains "In-Episode Guide", a series of pictures narrated by the actors over the history of Westeros especially Robert's Rebellion where each character tells the viewer of that event from their point of view.
- Elephant in the Living Room: Over the eight thousand years since the Long Night, the conditions at the Wall have steadily been ignored, leaving the garrison there undermanned, undersupplied, and incapable of holding the wall against the Wildlings or the White Walkers. Outside the Wall, nobody seems to openly acknowledge the dangers the coming winter will bring. Even the Starks' own words, "Winter is coming", haven't prepared them.
- Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Khal Drogo's Westerosi is very limited, but when his speech in Dothraki is subtitled he's revealed to be a highly intelligent war leader, a loving husband, and an eloquent and fiery speaker. It sometimes overlaps with Strange Syntax Speaker, as the Dothraki don't have words for things like plate armour or castles.
- Tyrion finds himself subject to this once arriving in Mereen. Normally reliant on his wit and skill with language to get by, he suddenly finds himself making silly stumbles and having to rely on Missandei to help him make himself understood.
- Embarrassing Nickname:
- Petyr Baelish clearly does not like people calling him Littlefinger.
- Tyrion has also said he dislikes being called "The Imp", but embarrassing or not, he owns it.
- Jaime has a distaste for the nickname "Kingslayer".
- Jon dislikes being called "Lord Snow", but Tyrion tips him on how to deal with it.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Gregor Clegane (AKA The Mountain) after being thrown from his horse in a jousting match, beheads his own steed in a fit of rage, and then attempts to do the same to the other jouster who beat him. This is all done in plain view of everyone, including the King.
- When King Robert's brother Stannis Baratheon has a letter written declaring his claim to the throne, he makes them change "beloved brother" because he didn't love him and adds Jaime Lannister's nickname the "Kingslayer" but also the title "Ser" because "whatever he is he's still a knight."
- Eunuchs Are Evil: Varys could be described this way, although that's not how he sees it.
- Eureka Moment: Ned has one in "A Golden Crown", concerning Joffrey's true parentage.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Several characters are only redeemed from being monsters by this trope. Cersei Lannister is possibly the most notable, as her scheming against Ned is mostly motivated by a desire to protect her children.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- The wildings are depicted as being rather sadistic and ruthless, but even they are clearly scared so shitless by the White Walkers that they're running as "South as South can go."
- As ruthless and vicious a fighter as the Hound is, he is shown to be a far nicer person in comparison to his brother Gregor and his master Joffrey.
- The city guardsman who brought out Robert's infant bastard from the brothel refused to kill him.
- Theon is disgusted when he realizes he has been flirting with his own sister and is angered by Jaime's civil tone after slaughtering several of Robb's men.
- Cersei is horrified When Joffrey orders the murder of Robert's bastards.
- Varys is disturbed when Joffrey announces his intention to serve Robb's head to his sister Sansa.
- The beginning of Jaime's redemption occurs when he tries to protect Brienne from being raped.
- Even Balon Hates his exiled brother Euron Who he views with contempt.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Ned Stark has a bastard son, and Robert has countless. Many scenes take place in Littlefinger's bordello. The sexual relationships of a number of characters are major plot points. Daenerys' change in sexual position is even a major turning point in her character - she is on top.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: When humans are touched by White Walkers, zombification apparently ensues. These zombies are somewhat tougher than the usual breed, however, as they can survive just about anything other than fire. There is also the implied possibility of a Zombie Apocalypse due to the number of human wildlings living beyond the Wall, who could potentially get touched by the Walkers, as well.
- Evolving Credits: New map locations are seamlessly added to the opening sequence on occasion.
- Exact Words:
- The "golden crown" that Drogo promises Viserys. One can argue if molten gold poured on head counts as a crown, but it will definitely make people tremble. Also Death by Irony.
- The "no bloodshed" rule of Vaes Dothrak, which also forbids the use of swords while there. Do not think this makes you immune from prosecution, as the Dothraki can get around this limitation very inventively should you annoy them.
- Joffrey states that his mother told him he should never strike his lady. He then orders one of his Kingsguard to strike Sansa instead. With a gauntlet.
- Eye Scream: Dagger through the eye in "The Wolf and the Lion".
- Face Heel Turn: Poor Theon, caught between his adopted family and his real one.
- The Faceless: Quaithe of Asshai has popped up twice in Qarth to give Jorah Mormont enigmatic warnings while always wearing a mask.
- Faceless Goons: The Lannister Household Guards, a.k.a. the Redcloaks. Also the Gold Cloaks a.k.a. the City Watch.
- False Reassurance:
- Daenerys, translating Khal Drogo's words for her brother's benefit in "A Golden Crown": "You shall have a golden crown that men shall tremble to behold." An instance where the one being misled really kind of deserved it.
- Mirri promises that Drogo will live and strongly implies that she is sacrificing a horse in exchange for healing him. In reality, while Drogo lives, he's left an Empty Shell, and while she kills it, the horse wasn't used for Equivalent Exchange--Daenerys' child was.
- The Lannister's unoffical motto, "A Lannister Always Pays His Debts", is pretty much an example of this. At face value, it seems to indicate that Lannisters show gratitude to those who do well by them, and this is true. However, it also indicates the reverse, that they will take revenge on anyone they think has slighted them, and that meaning is seen much more frequently.
- Fan Service: So much. It was even parodied by SNL, and coined the term "sexposition".\
- Arya's sex scene with Gendry in season 8, episode 2.
- Fanservice Extra: Littlefinger's whores, the girl on the ship that asks to be Theon's "salt wife", etc.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
- Anglo-Saxons: Westeros is quite clearly based on medieval England, and indeed the north/south geography and accompanying accents clearly approximate England's own geography and accent distribution. For example, Ned, as a Northerner, has Sean Bean's native Sheffield accent, whereas Cersei, as a Southerner, has more of a London/RP accent. The family names Lannister and Stark are also thinly veiled references to the War of the Roses, a civil war in England fought between the houses of Lancaster and York. The great Wall itself has obvious parallels with Hadrian's Wall, a huge, 80 mile long barrier stretching across the top of England which was began in AD 122 and built to protect Roman Britain from Scottish invasion. Sections of the wall still stand today. The Narrow Sea corresponds with the English Channel, and King's Landing, as seen on the opening-credits map, roughly corresponds with London.
- The Dothraki are based on the Mongols and other horse nomad cultures.
- Mirri Maz Duur's people, the Lazhareen, resemble ancient Semites, a resemblance made even stronger with their worship of the "Great Shepherd".
- Fantasy World Map: The beginning credits.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Tyrion implies that the Night's Watch is this. He says that when a rapist is given the choice between taking the black and castration (which would be a dangerous, often deadly procedure in a time without sanitation), most choose "the knife".
- Feuding Families: The Starks and the Lannisters are quickly sliding from general dislike toward this territory. As of "Baelor", there is a civil war between them, Ned Stark has been killed by Joffrey, and Jaime Lannister is held hostage by Robb.
- Fiery Redhead:
- Melisandre, almost literally, though her ferocity is masked by an icy, enigmatic, almost regal exterior.
- Ygritte, the wildling encountered by Jon north of the Wall.
- Ros the savvy prostitute.
- Fighting a Shadow: Pyat Pree since he can create copies of himself.
- Fish Out of Water: The honorable, rigid Ned Stark once he goes to the Deadly Decadent Court in King's Landing, Daenerys among the Dothraki, and Jon once he gets to the Night's Watch.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Rickon's vicious and borderline feral direwolf... Shaggydog.
- Theon is all too eager to kill a direwolf (sigil of the Starks) in the pilot.
- Arya shoos her Cool Pet Nymeria away to save her from being killed by the Lannisters. By "The Pointy End", Arya must too run away to avoid capture and possible death from the Lannisters.
- Cersei justifies her incestuous relationship with Jaime and having his children by invoking the precedent set by the Targaryens. Except that the Targaryen penchant for incest led to Aerys Targaryen, foreshadowing that Joffrey will be an uncontrollable lunatic of a king and do things like having Eddard Stark executed in defiance of all diplomatic sense.
- This could also act as a foreshadowing of the relationship between Daenereys and Jon Snow.
- When Ned asks Petyr if the Gold Cloaks of the King's Landing City Watch will side with him to overthrow Joffrey, Petyr replies that the Gold Cloaks are ultimately loyal to whoever hand them their paychecks. Much of the series stresses how the Lannisters are the richest noble house in Westeros.
- Daenerys walks into an extremely hot bath despite the warnings of her handmaiden, and later takes a hot dragon egg out of a lit brazier without burning her hand. In the finale, she walks into her dead husband's burning funeral pyre and emerges from the ashes unharmed, naked, with three baby dragons. Not to mention when her brother dies from his 'Golden Crown': "He was not The Dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon.".
- Tyrion threatens a group of Nightwatchmen-to-be with placing their heads on spikes to decorate the capital.
- In "The Old Gods and the New", Xaro talks about how he's had to do some nasty things to become as wealthy as he is. Immediately after, he opens the doors to his estate and we see that someone has killed several members of Daenerys' khalasar and stolen her dragons. In "A Man Without Honor", we learn that Xaro helped the perpetrator.
- In S06E09, "The Battle of The Bastards", Ramsay Bolton tries to intimidate Jon Snow with threats that his dogs will eat him, musing as to which body part they will consume first. His final scene sees Ramsay end up being his dog's dinner.
- In the same episode as above, Tyrion cautions Daenerys about the wisdom of destroying entire cities, reminding her that that is what her Mad King father had intended by rigging Wildfire under the city of Kingslanding. Cersei detonates the Wildfire underneath the Great Sept, crushing all of her enemies in one fell swoop. This is also an instance of Chekhov's Armory, as the Mad King's Wildfire plot was initially mentioned in season 3.
- In S07E06, a snow bear is shown to have been zombified. If animals can be recruited for the army of the dead, then better not get any dragons killed.
- Four Lines, All Waiting: The series is currently following:
- Daenerys and the Dothraki in Essos.
- Sansa Stark and the Lannisters at King's Landing.
- Jon Snow with the Wildlings.
- Samwell Tarly and the Night's Watch.
- Robb and Catelyn at war with the Lannisters.
- Arya Stark and Gendry, Robert's only known surviving bastard, in the Riverlands.
- Stannis's war, first against his brother Renly, then against Joffrey Baratheon and now back at Dragonstone after his defeat.
- Bran and Rickon Stark heading toward the Wall with Osha and Hodor.
- Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister on the way to King's Landing.
- Freudian Trio: The Baratheon brothers form one: Robert is a hot-blooded and impulsive warrior (id), Renly is a calm and easygoing politician (ego), and Stannis is described as a skilled strategist but not at all a people person (super-ego). In this case, rather than being three disparate personalities who are a team, it explains why the brothers don't like each other.
- Funny Background Event: In "Fire and Blood", Joffrey orders Sansa to accompany him; he wants to show her something. What's going on in the background (and mercifully out of focus)? A man who insulted the late King Robert having his tongue ripped out.
- Gambit Pileup: The eponymous game of thrones.
- Genius Bruiser: Conan Stevens, actor portraying Ser Gregor Clegane is this in real life. 7 ft tall wrestler, bodybuilder and stunt actor, he is also scripwriter, computer geek and made his own website all by himself.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The White Walkers' eyes glow a frosty blue.
- Gone Horribly Right: Daenerys tries to convince Drogo to help her retake the Seven Kingdoms for their son, and after she's nearly assassinated while pregnant, he agrees... and announces this with a long speech in which he explains his plans to basically ransack the entire continent. Daenerys' later reactions show that she has no taste for Dothraki brutality.
- The Good Chancellor: Ned, who tries to get King Robert to do the right thing, and mitigate the damage whenever his advice is ignored.
- 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 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.
- He tries to broker a compromise with Cersei Lannister: she needs to go into exile before he tells Robert that she's been cheating on him with her brother and none of the children are Robert's. But as the daughter of the richest, most powerful man in the realm and the sister/lover of an infamous warrior who already killed one king, letting Robert bludgeon her to death in a fit of rage really isn't a wise move either.
- Government in Exile: The Targaryens, at least in their opinion.
- Grammar Nazi: Stannis Baratheon, who corrects Davos Seaworth on the usage of less vs fewer when Davos is answering about his knucklebones, hacked off by Stannis.
- Great Wall: The Wall -- eight hundred feet high, stretching from one side of Westeros to the other, and built out of immense blocks of ice, it was emplaced to defend the Seven Kingdoms from the ice zombies and their rulers/leaders to the north. Unfortunately, the caliber (and quantity) of troops manning the wall has decayed over the past few centuries...
- Grim Up North: The North is colder, harsher and less populated than the South. North of the Wall is even worse.
- Happily Married: Ned and Catelyn Stark seem to be genuinely in love in a world where most marriages (including their own) are arranged for political reasons. Khal Drogo and Daenerys form a surprising bond.
- Held Gaze: Doreah spells its importance out for Daenerys. Very clearly.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: This trope is probably why no one in the Nights Watch (except for Qorin, which may explain his reputation as most competent Ranger) wears a hat, despite the freezing conditions they live in. More literally, it's noticeable during "Blackwater" that for most of the battle, none of the main characters wear helmets, though Tyrion does don one early on when he leads the flanking force and only removes it when he thinks they've won.
- The production staff have noted that they tried to shoot some scenes with helmets and hats, but that it made it nearly impossible to tell people apart, effectively turning them into fur-wrapped blobs of various sizes.
- Here There Were Dragons: dragons are thought to have died out, but they come back with a vengeance.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Khal Drogo, allowing Mago to wound him, showing off how impervious to pain he is. Although he ignores the wound's pain, it gets infected and eventually causes his untimely demise.
- A meta-example from the writing team. George R. R. Martin wrote A Song of Ice and Fire as novels partially because his teleplays were always hampered by budget and practicality constraints. Now, as a screenwriter for Game of Thrones, he's working on "a bitch of an adaptation" where "the original author made the damn battle way too big and too expensive."
- Honor Before Reason: Ned Stark is a man bound by honor to do the "right" thing.
- In "A Golden Crown", he all but declares war on the Lannisters for committing horrific atrocities against serfs, even though this could cause a civil war with the Lannisters pitted against his own house.
- In "You Win or You Die", he refuses to make the first strike at the Lannisters within King's Landing, even though this could grant them time to plan a strike of their own. He also rejects Littlefinger and Renly's underhanded but eminently sensible plans.
- Hulk Speak: Mord, Lysa Arryn's jailer.
Mord: "Dwarf man making noise!"
- Humanoid Abomination: The White Walkers.
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: Part of Tyrion's "confession" to Lysa Arryn in "A Golden Crown".
Tyrion: "When I was twelve, I milked my eel into a pot of turtle stew. I flogged the one-eyed snake, I skinned my sausage, I made the bald man cry!"
- I Am X, Son of Y: A fairly standard introduction, but particularly noteworthy are Drogo son of Bharbo, Shagga son of Dolf, Timett son of Timett, Chella daughter of Cheyk and Bronn son of "...you wouldn't know him".
- I'll Take That as a Compliment: Tyrion has turned this into a way of living, and encourages others to do so by... well, insulting them.
- In "Winter is Coming"--
Tyrion: You're Ned Stark's bastard, aren't you?... Did I offend you? Sorry. You are the bastard, though."
- In "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"--
Tyrion: "With the right horse and saddle even a cripple can ride."
- He brings the hill tribes so under his sway that "The Halfman" and "Little Lion" become something of Affectionate Nicknames for him.
- Inadequate Inheritor: Sam's father considered him this, which is how he ended up in the Night's Watch.
- Incest Tropes: at play throughout, from father/daughter/granddaughter in Craster, and sister/brother in Cersei/Jamie leading to the dramatic inclusion of nephew/aunt in Jon Snow/Daenerys.
- Infant Immortality: Averted a number of times to drive home the Anyone Can Die theme.
- The series premiere: the young wildling girl impaled on a tree.
- "The Kingsroad": Mycah, the butcher's boy is ridden down by Sandor Clegane.
- "The Pointy End": the stable boy impaled by Arya.
- The Season Two premiere: a montage shows the murder of several of Robert's bastards, including at least two infants.
- "A Man Without Honor": Theon's men kill and burn two young boys, implied to be Bran and Rickon but later revealed not to be.
- Instant Messenger Raven: Played straight at first, especially since the show often skips substantial periods of time for pacing's sake. Notably averted in "Baelor" when the Stark forces take to shooting down Walder Frey's ravens, lest he pass news of their presence to the Lannisters.
- Interrupted Intimacy:
- The last scene of the first episode. With horrific and long-reaching consequences.
- Played for Laughs when Jaime Lannister walks in on his brother at a brothel in Winterfell and tells him to hurry up, then proceeds to send in more prostitutes in order to hurry him up.
- In the Back: How Jaime Lannister offed the Mad King, making his Bodyguard Betrayal twice as dishonorable. Ned rubs it in Jaime's face despite having family members personally tortured to death by the King, showing how people in Westeros see this kind of thing.
- In the Blood:
- With most families in the show, the similarities could be argued to be a result of nurture rather than nature, but Viserys' insanity is quite clearly inherited from the "Mad King" Aerys, most likely as a result of generations of inbreeding.
- Robert Baratheon mentions that he favoured wielding a war hammer in battle. The first time we see his bastard son Gendry, who is an armourer's apprentice, guess what he's working with.
- Jon Snow's being a bad ass might be due to having both Stark and Targaryen blood running through his veins.
- Ironic Echo: In "Winter Is Coming", Ned Stark establishes what sort of man he is by sentencing and beheading an outlaw himself, eschewing an executioner. In "Baelor", he is beheaded, by an executioner, with his own sword.
- Ironic Nickname: Brienne the Beauty is actually ugly. Or at least, she's supposed to be.
- It Was Here, I Swear: A circular array of Wildling corpses killed by the White Walkers.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Alliser Thorne treats the recruits of the Night's Watch with cruelty. He later tells Jon and Sam that his company was stuck in the land beyond the Wall for over six months during the last winter, even resorting to cannibalism of their fallen comrades at the end. Given how terrible the winters are, his comments on how strong someone has to be to serve the Watch may be valid.
- The Jester: Subverted. We see a minstrel singing a jaw-droppingly insulting Bawdy Song about Robert and Cersei in front of Joffrey's entire court, at the end of which Joffrey laughs and applauds. If the minstrel's terrified expression and quavering voice didn't clue you in, Joffrey's offering him the choice between keeping his fingers or his tongue is the final hint that he's actually on trial.
- Kick the Dog:
- As of the end of Season 1, Joffrey kicks the dog in virtually every scene in which he appears.
- In Polliver's Establishing Character Moment, he stabs a wounded captive child in the throat rather than carry him.
- Killed Off for Real: It's a constantly growing list...
- Season 1: Lady (Sansa's direwolf), Jory Cassel, Viserys Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark, Septa Mordane, all of House Stark's men in King's Landing, Khal Drogo, and Mirri Maz Duur.
- Season 2: Cressen, Rakharo, Yoren, Lommy Greenhands, Renly Baratheon, The Tickler, Ser Rodrik Cassel, Ser Amory Lorch, Irri, Alton Lannister, The Thirteen, Matthos Seaworth, Ser Mandon Moore, Maester Luwin, Qhorin Halfhand, Pyat Pree, and most likely Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and Doreah.
- Kill It with Fire:
- Seems to be the only way to get rid of those who were touched by the White Walkers.
- This was also apparently the Mad King's favored method of killing people, and his daughter Daenerys uses fire to kill Mirri for her treachery. He was "The Dragon", after all.
- The Great Sept and everyone in it in the season 6 finale.
- The Wall in the season 7 finale.
- In "Blackwater", Tyrion uses wildfire to kill half of Stannis' entire fleet!
- Kill Them All: Cersei's decision to blow up the Great Sept at the end of season 6.
- Kissing Cousins: After Jaime goes off to war, Cersei starts getting her incest fix with her cousin Lancel. In Season 2, Tyrion uses this to blackmail Lancel into reporting to him about Cersei's activities.
- Knight in Shining Armor:
- Kukris Are Kool: Bronn has one strapped to the small of his back, which he puts to good use on occasion.
- The Lancer: Jory for Lord Eddard Stark and Theon for Robb.
- La Résistance: Tywin's occupation of the Riverlands is hampered by a so far unseen group named the "Brotherhood without Banners".
- Large Ham: Syrio Forel, Greatjon Umber, Viserys. Drogo chews the scenery with much gusto during his Rousing Speech after the assassination attempt on Daenerys. Similarly, King Robert nearly scrapes the castle walls clean while ordering the assassination of Daenerys and her child. Roy Dotrice's One-Scene Wonder as Pyromancer Hallyne does credit to his equally hammy readings of the A Song of Ice and Fire audiobooks.
- Last Stand: Yoren. In the books, it was You Shall Not Pass, but the other characters' (temporary) escape was removed as a bit of Pragmatic Adaptation.
- Lecture as Exposition: Maester Luwin teaches Bran, and the audience, about the Houses of Westeros. Upon arrival in King's Landing, Sansa gets quizzed by her septa about the history of the Seven Kingdoms.
- Leitmotif: All the major houses have one.
- The melancholy Stark theme is the most frequently heard, playing in the pieces "Goodbye Brother", "Winter Is Coming", "Jon's Honor", and "King of the North". In Season Two, it appears at the beginning of "What Is Dead May Never Die", played during Theon's Face Heel Turn, in which it gradually shifts into the Greyjoy theme instead.
- The Lannisters have the "The Rains of Castamere" and its variations. It usually manifests as dark, ominous background music, but Tyrion whistles a faster, more sing-song version of it a few times in Season Two, and it finally appears in full in Blackwater.
- The Baratheon theme is a bombastic fanfare, fitting for the royal family, first heard in "The King's Arrival" and then reprised in "You Win or You Die", (where it incorporates elements of "The Rains of Castamere") "The Throne Is Mine", and "Wildfire".
- The White Walkers also have their own, which can be heard in "North of the Wall" and "The Night's Watch".
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Nineteen names in the credits (and, as mentioned above, Jason Momoa isn't included there for strange reasons). You can find a guide to help keep them all straight here.
- Love Makes You Dumb: Robb Stark falls in love with the field nurse and Volantine noble Talisa Maegyr, despite the fact he is already engaged to one of Walder Frey's daughters. His mother warns him over what a stupid political move this is, but he marries her anyway.
- Love Makes You Evil:
- Jaime Lannister. He's willing to push a kid out of a window to hide his secret affair, even saying, "The things I do for love..."
- Cersei Lannister. She was, like many women in the Seven Kingdoms at the close of his rebellion, quite in love with Robert when they married, but a life of humiliations and occasional domestic abuse ended with her plotting her husband's death.
- Petyr: his unrequited love for Catelyn caused him to become obsessed with achieving power over his social betters.
- Maester Aemon's lecture to Jon warns him about the dangers of love, as it is the one thing that can cause a man to ignore his duty.
- Theon's desire to earn his father's love motivates all of his evil deeds.
- Machiavelli Was Wrong: Invoked by Ser Loras in his convincing Renly to make a play for the throne. He argues that Renly's charisma would make him a far better king than those before him because he would rule through love and respect rather than fear.
- Macho Masochism: The Greatjon laughing off a direwolf eating two of his fingers. Also, Drogo showed his badassery in a duel by deliberately allowing his opponent to cut him, in order to draw the guy closer. This came back to bite him, as the wound gets infected and nearly kills him.
- Madness Mantra:
- The Magnificent: Kingslayer.
- Male Frontal Nudity
- Male Gaze: Jory at Littlefinger's brothel, Theon with Ros.
- Man On Fire: Several in "Blackwater" when Tyrion pulls his trick with the wildfire and blows up much of Stannis's fleet.
- Mass "Oh Crap": Many people's reaction the moment that Joffrey decides to execute Ned Stark.
- Master Swordsman: Jaime Lannister, Loras Tyrell, Sandor and Gregor Clegane, Eddard Stark and Barristan Selmy are all described by various people as some of the best swordsmen in the Seven Kingdoms. Jaime speaks particularly highly of Barristan Selmy, calling him an artist who only uses red paint. Brienne of Tarth might also be accounted as such were it not for predominantly sexist views.
- Mathematician's Answer:
- Shae to Tyrion:
Tyrion: [noticing her foreign accent] "What sort of accent is that?"
- Jaime Lannister:
"I pushed him out a window."
- Mauve Shirt: Poor Jory.
- Meaningful Name:
- In-universe, bastard children have last names determined by region, so anyone meeting Jon Snow already knows something about his parentage and place of origin.
- The family names Lannister and Stark are thinly veiled references to the War of the Roses, a civil war in England fought between the houses of Lancaster and York.
- 'Stark' has several meanings, including "rigidly conforming", "desolate", and "strong". All of these meanings can apply to the Stark family or the North.
- "Hodor" is a truncation of "Hold the door!" - something he shouts in a fit as he dies due to some sort time-travel interference scrambles his brain. His real name is Willis.
- The Medic: Talisa of Volantis, who attends to the wounded after a battle between Robb Stark's army and the Lannisters'.
- The Mentor: Several, for most of the younger main characters and some of the older ones. Jon Arryn was this to Robert and Ned, Rodrik Cassel to Robb, Jon and Theon, Lord Commander Mormont to Jon, Syrio Forel to Arya, and Septa Mordane to Sansa. In Season 2, Quorin Halfhand takes over for Jon, Dagmer Cleftjaw for Theon, Yoren, Jaqen H'qar, and Tywin Lannister for Arya and in a way, Cersei Lannister for Sansa.
- Mercy Kill: Daenerys kills Drogo to end his suffering.
- Meta Casting: Theon Greyjoy is a wastrel and Butt Monkey who lives in the shadow of his sister. Alfie Allen is the brother of the singer Lily Allen, and as for the butt monkey and wastrel part, she wrote a not very flattering song about him.
- Meta Twist: HBO gleefully marketed the show as if Sean Bean were the main character, and thus the one star with Contractual Immortality. Nothing could be further from the truth, though those who had read the book would know this already - it would be impossible to even remotely follow the book's story with Ned alive.
- Miles Gloriosus: King Joffrey Baratheon, who prances around in a suit of armor blathering about how he'll give Stannis "a red smile", only to turn tail and run away when Stannis and his army are attacking the city in "Blackwater".
- Minor Insult Meltdown: Wildlings refer to everyone south of the Wall as "Southerners," which annoys several Northerners.
- Mock Millionaire: Xaro Xhoan Daxos, whose conspicuous treasure vault is completely empty. He's cunningly leveraged his fictional fortune into genuine comfortable wealth through trade and politics.
- Mood Whiplash: Jory's Crowning Moment of Funny is immediately followed by his death. Although at least he got to see some tits. Also happens when the story switches between the various different plot-threads. Arya training with Syrio? Cool, and even a little funny. But then the next thing you see is Daenerys eating a horse's heart.
- Moral Event Horizon: so many, it's entirely worthy of exploration for a Moral Philosophy module. (see YMMV)
- Mr. Exposition: Jorah Mormont; at least in the first season, he mainly exists to inform Daenerys/us about the customs of the Dothraki and other such things.
- Mr. Fanservice: There's pretty much some male for just about every taste in this show.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- Ros the gorgeous prostitute didn't have one scene in the first season where she kept all her clothes on all the way through. Actress Esme Bianco has a background as a burlesque performer, so she's quite comfortable performing nudity. In Season 2, she's the madam of Littlefinger's whorehouse, and thus earns the privilege to wear more clothes.
- Daenerys, especially in her first appearances.
- My Nayme Is: Many of the character's names are very similar to modern names, such as Eddard for Edward.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Theon's reaction to Killing Rodrik; he has another similar moment when he reveals the bodies of the two orphans whose deaths he ordered.
- The Hound has this when he finds the body of the farmer he robbed.
- Tyrion is deeply regretful for Killing his father and lover.
- Stannis has this for ordering his brother's assassination.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Sandor "The Hound" Clegane, Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, Ser Jaime "The Kingslayer" Lannister, and most infamously Aerys "The Mad King" Targaryen.
- Never Live It Down: Several examples in universe:
- Jaime Lannister is known and addressed as "Kingslayer" (and it's not complimentary) by everyone, even his allies. Even those who rebelled agains the king and knew that he was insane criticize him for it. Jaime insists that people should be grateful for it.
- Catelyn never quite forgives or forgets the fact that Eddard Stark was unfaithful to her and sired bastard son Jon Snow.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Congratulations, Sansa! Lying to the king and queen about Joffrey got your own direwolf killed!
- Congratulations, Ned! Ignoring Littlefinger and Renly's advice has led to Cersei and Joffrey ruling, your guards all being killed, and you being arrested and eventually executed!
- Congratulations, Catelyn! Capturing Tyrion Lannister has compromised the safety of your husband and daughters in the capital, and resulted with Lord Tywin unleashing Gregor Clegane on the lands of your own family!
- Congratulations, Robert! Sending assassins after Daenerys managed to piss off Drogo enough that he changed his mind about not invading Westeros!
- Kudos, Daenerys! Saving a wise woman from rape and then asking her to save the life of your husband has led to said husband winding up as an Empty Shell and your son to be stillborn.
- While there is no way in heaven or seven hells that Joffrey could be considered a hero, congratulations nonetheless, idiot! Just when it looks as if Robb and Catelyn Stark might call off their war after capturing your (true) father, you go and execute the Stark patriarch, killing any hopes of peace along with him!
- Good job, Mirri! Destroying everything of value to the naive queen of your enemies you sought revenge on may have made her more dangerous than her deceased husband or stillborn son could ever have been. Extra points for teaching her a lesson in the process that mercy is for the weak and giving her a crash course in blood magic.
- Congratulations, Robb! Sending Theon home to Daddy in an attempt to gain his support in combat resulted in the exact thing your father had been preventing by having Theon in the first place: The Iron Islands have taken up arms against Winterfell and now Robb has to fight wars on two fronts.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: Congrats again Joffrey! By killing all of Robert's bastards, you've confirmed in the eyes of many that you know they had a better claim to the throne than you and given your enemies the rallying cry "The queen kills babies!" If Tyrion wanted to slap you before, imagine how he thinks of you now.
- The Night That Never Ends: Winter is coming. Pray it's a short one - they have been known to last a decade. There is an in-universe Fairy Tale about winter lasting a generation - kings froze to death in their castles, and women murdered their own babies to save them the agony of starving to death.
- Non-Indicative Name: The Dothraki Sea is not even remotely a large body of salt water. Rather, it is an area of rolling grassy plains, so named for its immense size and how easy it is to get lost in there.
- Non-Specifically Foreign: Shae, who playfully refuses to tell Tyrion where she's from. Later, Cersei pegs her as Lorathi, which might be a joking way of connecting Shae (who is played by Turkish-German actress Sibel Kikelli) to Jaqen, who claims to be from Lorath (and is played by fellow German actor Tom Wlaschiha).
- No Name Given: The Qartheen member of the Thirteen who first receives Daenerys outside the city walls. He does not give his name, saying that it is too long and hard for foreigners to pronounce. This is probably because he's a Canon Foreigner. When his actor was cast, he was called the Spice King, but that is a title and not a name.
- Noodle Incident: In Tyrion's list of "confessions" in "A Golden Crown", he's cut off before he can describe what he did that involved bringing a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel.
- Nostalgia Filter: King Robert likes to muse about the good old days, before he was king. You know, when the entire country was either ruled by an insane dictator or in a state of civil war. His younger brother Renly does not hesitate to call him out on this.
- Not So Different:
- Tyrion muses that the difference between the people of the Seven Kingdoms and the Wildlings is that when the Wall was built, their ancestors just happened to be on the right side.
- Ned comparing Robert to the Mad King Aerys in "The Wolf and the Lion".
- Maester Luwin asks Theon if he should really be mocking Osha for her situation in Winterfell, because "a prisoner and a guest" describes his situation almost exactly.
- Maester Aemon reveals to Jon Snow he more than anyone else in the Night's Watch knows his anger and being torn between his oath and wanting to do something to defend his family. He was already an old man, long since blind when the ravens delivered the news that most of his entire family had been slaughtered, even the children, during a time of war. He's Aemon Targaryen, the uncle of the Mad King.
- The Hound claims that Bronn is a Blood Knight much like himself. The jury's still out on how much either of them actually qualifies.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Grand Maester Pycelle's hidden spryness and sharpness of mind, despite his age and apparent senility. It never winds up doing him any good.
- Occult Blue Eyes: The eyes of those raised from dead by the White Walkers are portrayed like this.
- Odd Friendship:
- Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister, Tyrion and Bronn. Hell, Tyrion and anyone.
- Tyrion's and Bronn's relationship has even received the buddy comedy treatment.
- Offhand Backhand: When Jaime shoves Bran out the window, he does it with a sudden but casual shove while not bothering to look at him.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: During the events detailed in Episode 9, there are two battles going on, but only the aftermaths are shown. In the first instance, Tyrion gets knocked unconscious by the rush of his troops following a Rousing Speech, and only wakes up when the battle is over. Later in the episode, Robb returns triumphant from a battle not shown on screen. The second was never shown in the books either, but the first was, and is not shown in the TV series due to time/budget constraints. It would have been spectacular to see on-screen--especially Tyrion's participation in it, which made it clear he's far from an action hero but quite resourceful when the chips are down, his Ragtag Band of Misfits ultimately winning a battle that was meant to be lost in the first place.
- Oh Crap:
- Varys' reaction when Littlefinger reveals that he was aware that Varys had been meeting secretly with Illyrio.
- Jaime's and Cersei's reactions to finding out that Bran is going to live, and Tyrion's reaction to Catelyn talking a whole tavern of people into arresting him.
- Viserys once he realizes what is meant by giving him a "golden crown".
- Bronn when Tyrion tells him that Lord Tywin is placing them in the vanguard in the next day's battle.
- Arya in disguise as Tywin Lannister's cupbearer at Harrenhal when they announced that Littlefinger has arrived.
- The season two finale.
Gren: "Two blasts is Wildlings."
- One Steve Limit:
- Robert Arryn's name was changed to Robin to avoid confusion with King Robert.
- Averted with the White Walkers and their zombie minions, the wights. "White" and "wight" are pronounced the same, which can cause confusion.
- Asha has been renamed Yara to not be confused with Osha.
- Apparently Cleos Frey is now Alton Lannister to avoid having to explain why a Frey (family allied with Robb Stark) would be fighting with the Lannisters.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Averted all over the place. When Ned gets speared in the leg, he's unconscious for a long period between episodes and weak for several episodes after, requiring a cane to get around. When Khal Drogo allows himself to be cut in a duel with an uppity tribesman, Daenerys and Mirri Maz Duur both agree that the wound must be washed and sewn, or it will fester. In the end, it festers anyway--possibly due to Mirri's sabotage--and by the next episode, he's very, very ill. Quite realistic for a setting with barely-above-medieval medicine.
- Only in It For the Money:
- Bronn makes it clear to Tyrion that he's expecting payment for his work. Tyrion points out that no one can beat a Lannister's price.
- Petyr points out that the Gold Cloaks fight for whoever pays their salary.
- Only Sane Employee: This seems to be the entire point of the role of The Hand Of The King.
- Robert lampshades it when conferring the title on Eddard:
Robert: "Lord Eddard Stark, I would name you The Hand Of The King."
- When Tywin Lannister was the Hand of the King, it was the most peaceful and prosperous period in recent history, which says something considering that the King he served was "The Mad King".
- Only Sane Man:
- Renly feels he is this, and as of "You Win or You Die", he might be right.
- Tyrion has hints of this on his trip to the Eyrie.
- Varys has shades of this as well. When asked by Ned who he truly serves, he simply says "the Realm. Someone must."
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Some of the actors' natural accents do slip through, such as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's native Danish, Richard Madden's Scottish accent and Michelle Fairley's Northern Irish accent. American Peter Dinklage's English accent is not totally correct, but is at least consistent.
- Oop North: Winterfell and the Starks are Northern, and the accents of the actors involved reflect this, especially textbook Yorkshireman Sean Bean as Ned. Bean's contract specified that he be allowed to use his native accent for the role. Conversely, those associated with the King, the Lannisters and/or the South tend to speak with RP (BBC English). The Northeners' general opinion of the South is broadly similar to cultural stereotypes between the South of England and the North.
- Open Secret: Joffrey being born out of incest. As of "A Man Without Honour" in the second season, even Jaime and Cersei have given up denying it.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same/Playing With: averted and defied with Tyrion Lannister, who is not a 'typical' fantasy dwarf from a race of dwarves: he suffers from the genetic condition of dwarfism, whose mother died giving birth to him, is an alcoholic, whoring intellectual and tactician, and is known to some as a "demon monkey".
- Played for laughs: Dwarf cocks may or may not be magical.
- Parental Abandonment: Many of the characters have dead or missing parents. Examples include: Daenerys and Viserys, Jon, Bran, Tyrion, Cersei and Jaime, and a number of side characters.
- Parental Incest: Craster and his harem of daughter-wives.
- Nephew (Jon Snow) and aunt (Daenerys) is a definite play on this.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat:
- All the time; the Lannisters in particular are masters of it.
- In both "The Wolf and the Lion" and "Fire and Blood", Varys and Littlefinger have scenes that exemplify this trope.
- Pay Evil Unto Evil/Laconic: revenge is the motive of Arya Stark as she turns to the dark side. All her justifiable homicides seem to be motivated by this basic trope.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage:
- By "Lord Snow", it looks like Daenerys and Khal Drogo are pretty damn happy together.
- Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully as well, though it did not start that way.
- Pokémon-Speak: HODOR!
- Poke the Poodle: Tyrion's "confession" in the Eyrie, which also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny, describes a number of acts which, while not exactly innocent, are hardly the stuff villains are made of.
"Where do I begin, my lords and ladies? I am a vile man, I confess it. My crimes and sins are beyond counting. I have lied and cheated, gambled and whored. I’m not particularly good at violence, but I’m good at convincing others to do violence for me. You want specifics, I suppose. When I was seven, I saw a servant girl bathing in the river. I stole her robe, and she was forced to return to the castle naked and in tears. If I close my eyes, I can still see her tits bouncing. When I was ten, I stuffed my uncle’s boots with goat shit. When confronted with my crime, I blamed a squire. The poor boy was flogged, and I escaped justice. When I was twelve, I milked my eel into a pot of turtle stew. I flogged the one-eyed snake. I skinned my sausage. I made the bald man cry into the turtle stew, which I do believe my sister ate--at least, I hope she did. I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel—"
- Posthumous Character: Lyanna Stark, Rhaegar Targaryen, "Mad" King Aerys Targaryen and Jon Arryn are among the characters mentioned frequently but already dead by the beginning of the series, though Arryn is seen briefly (lying in state) in the pilot episode.
- Lyanna is eventually shown in a later season, in the scene which confirms rampant fan speculation about her.
- The Power of Love: Averted horribly when Daenerys tries to use this to bring Khal Drogo out of a coma. Of course, it doesn't work, which is on par with the theme of the series.
- Praetorian Guard: The Kingsguard, a group of knights who protect the king and serve for life. Like their namesake, one of their members was reponsible for the death of the previous king.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: While some fans constantly bemoan any changes from the books, most of the changes are for very pragmatic reasons, and still others are changes that Martin himself approved of or even suggested and wrote himself, since he said himself that one of the reasons new books are taking so long is on account of the number of corners he's written himself into, which he can now have the show avoid in hindsight.
- One large bone of contention is how the Hound and Tyrion's scars are so downplayed in the TV series. Complainers generally don't care about the fact that creating the effects described in the book would not only require numerous additional hours of uncomfortable (and in the case of Peter Dinklage, potentially smothering) makeup, but also quite possibly the use of extensive CGI, for every single scene they were in. Also it's one thing to read a book and intellectually know a character is severely scarred and deformed, and quite another to have to look at it for an hour at a time.
- Another was how Tyrion seemed to "not care" about Tysha, his first wife, as that plot point was downplayed extensively by the time he confronted his father. This was probably a case of the medium, since it was quite easy to have Tyrion take a few moments in every other viewpoint chapter to think of her and thus show how important she was to him, and another to try and have him bring it up so regularly in a show (there's also the fact that his constant lamenting over her loss so heavily in one of the books was decried as Wangst by many of these same fans, and he seemed to stop caring in the books as well later on, so it's not exactly clear what their problem is other than "They Changed It, Now It Sucks").
- "Previously On..."
- Pride: In case the lion on their coat of arms and the motto "Hear me Roar!" didn't give it away, this is a unifying theme for the Lannisters. All of them have a subtly different take on it.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Six recurring characters in Season 1, got promoted for Season 2: Jon Bradley (Samwell Tarly), James Cosmo (Jeor Mormont), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Conleth Hill (Varys), Sibel Kekilli (Shae) and Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister).
- Properly Paranoid: The Wildlings insistence that you must burn dead bodies to prevent them coming back as White Walkers.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Dothraki, who will cut their hair in shame if they lose a fight.
- Punch Clock Villain:
- Bronn is pretty mellow when he's not fighting, but he makes it clear that he'll do anything for the right price.
- Lannister soldiers are shown slaughtering the entire Stark household, even the septas, but when we see a few relaxing at camp, they're pretty normal people.
- Puppet King:
- Cersei does her best to train Joffrey to become one of these for her. Lampshaded by Tyrion in "The Pointy End":
"King Joffrey rules."
- Brutally subverted when Joffrey goes spectacularly off-script at the end of "Baelor," and his supposed puppetmasters are powerless to stop him.
- The Purge: In "The North Remembers", Joffrey has all of Robert's bastards hunted down and killed. It's rather disturbing to watch, considering many of the people involved are children.
- Appears to be a genetic trait among the Targaryens, several of whom have an obsession with heat or fire and (sometimes correctly) believe themselves immune to it.
- Pyromancer Hallyne. During the Wildfire explosion, everyone else looks horrified -- he's giggling.
- Race Lift: Pirate Salladhor Saan and merchant prince Xaro Xhoan Daxos have been cast with actors of African descent and Xaro has additionally been changed to an emigrant from the Summer Isles.
- Rape, Pillage and Burn:
- The Dothraki are seen to be indulging in this, which comes back to bite Khal Drogo later on when he needs medical help. Also offscreen by Ser Gregor Clegane at the behest of Tywin Lannister.
- Gregor Clegane's band is reported to be doing this in the Riverlands. Ned is so appalled that he officially attaints him and sentences him to death, even though it would basically bring him to war with the Lannisters.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: especially if you are deflowering your bride on your wedding night, as Ramsey to Sansa.
- Ravens and Crows: Not only messengers, but a common motif, as well.
- Reaction Shot: When Tyrion's plan to wipe out Stannis' fleet with wildfire goes ahead, the view switches between the carnage itself and the horrified expressions on onlookers' faces. Most notably, Sandor looks genuinely fearful, Tyrion looks remorseful, Joffrey almost smirks, and the pyromancer is giggling.
- Reassigned to Antarctica:
- Being assigned to the Wall is seen as this, especially since the majority of the guards stationed there are criminals who choose service over their punishments. Others such as Ser Alliser Thorne are members of the former regime who chose the Wall over death.
- Cersei plans to do this to Ned Stark in "Baelor". Joffrey, however, has other plans.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Ned Stark comes across as this, though the actual effectiveness of his rule is debatable.
- Reason You Suck Speech: Renly Baratheon tells Robert exactly what he thinks of his "glory days".
Renly: Which days exactly? The ones when half of Westeros fought the other half and millions died, or before that when the Mad King slaughtered women and babies because the voices in his head told him they deserved it? Or way before that, when Dragons burnt whole cities to the ground?
- He later gives Stannis one as well, outlining all his faults and why he'd be an absolutely terrible ruler of Westeros. Apparently, besides "being charismatic" and "looking good", this was one of the few things Renly was actually good at.
- Red Shirt:
- The Stark household guard, with the exception of Jory.
- Lannister soldiers in a more literal sense.
- Season one itself seems to be comprised of Stark bannermen and guards getting speared or destroyed. The only aversion to this is the Battle of the Whispering Wood, which in the series only shows the capture of Jaime. Of course, they were massively outnumbered before.
- Redshirt Army:
- The Night's Watch, which is composed mostly of thieves and murderers who join to avoid their punishments. The rest of the kingdom forgets about them as they freeze and fight.
- Robb's diversionary army is seen as completely expendable in-universe.
- Remember the New Guy?: Dolorous Edd is suddenly part of Lord Commander Mormont's group, although the scene from the book where he meets up with them is cut.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: "I see that the rumors of your demise were unfounded."
- Revealing Coverup: The attempted assassination of Bran was the only thing that gave Catelyn reason to believe that he hadn't fallen, but was rather thrown, causing her to dig deeper into the affair and discover various clues pointing to the Lannisters.
- Right Through His Pants: A few examples, unusually for an HBO series. Both Jaime and Tyrion are conspicuous offenders; Khal Drogo, on the other hand, averts it magnificently, as does Theon later, giving the first example of male frontal nudity in the series. Cersei gives a female example in the pilot as well, probably due (in-universe) to the discretion that tryst requires.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Robert Baratheon's entire rebellion was fuelled by his desire to rescue Lyanna Stark.
- Rousing Speech:
- Tyrion gives one to the hill tribes before they go into battle in "Baelor". Then he's accidentally knocked out when they rush into battle.
- Daenerys gives one to the members of her khalasar who choose to stay after she releases the slaves.
- Tyrion gives an even better one at the Battle of Blackwater. The little man has a knack for inspiring people.
"Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let's go kill them!"
"Come with me and take this city!"
"You hear that? That’s the mating call of the Northmen. They want to fuck us! Well I haven’t had a good fuck in weeks. I’m ready for one! They say every Ironborn man is worth a dozen from the mainland. Do you think they’re right? We die today, brothers. We die bleeding from a hundred wounds, with arrows in our necks and spears in our guts - but our war cries will echo through eternity. They will sing about the Battle of Winterfell until the Iron Islands have slipped beneath the waves. Every man, woman and child will know who we were and how long we stood... Ironborn warriors will cry out our names as they leap onto the shores of Seaguard and Faircastle. Mothers will name their sons for us. Girls will think of us with their lovers inside them. And whoever kills that fucking hornblower will stand in bronze above the shores of Pyke! WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE! AHHHHH!!!!"
- Royally Screwed-Up: The Targaryens provide the page quote for the trope, arguably due to a long-standing tradition of Brother-Sister Incest. And King Joffrey seems to combine the worst aspects of each of his already-unpleasant parents (also brother and sister).
- As of S07E07 (finale), a dramatically ironic and unprecedented step is taken into the realm of nephew/aunt incest.
- Rule of Cool: Why would anyone build a clockwork map of the world? Because it looks really really cool, that's why. The little-cogs-in-a-larger-machine effect satisfies the Rule of Symbolism as well.
- Rule of Seven: Seven Kingdoms, Seven Gods, Seven Hells...
- Rule of Symbolism:
- In "Winter Is Coming", the Starks find two dead animals who died fighting each other - a stag and a direwolf. The latter has six pups which map directly onto the Stark children (including Jon Snow, who gets an albino who ran or was driven away from the others). Everyone is disturbed by this in-universe, as the symbolism of the house sigils is very important in Westeros.
- At the beginning of "You Win or You Die", Tywin Lannister is shown very calmly butchering a stag as he instructs Jaime on how to carry on the family legacy (apparently, Charles Dance was dressing a real dead deer).
- In real life, author G.R.R. Martin has confirmed that there is a very broad parallel between the existential threat to all the Seven Kingdoms, heralded by "Winter is Coming", and that faced by everyone on Earth due to climate change:
G.R.R. Martin: The people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth. And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of “winter is coming,” which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world. And there is a great parallel there to, I think, what I see this planet doing here, where we’re fighting our own battles. We’re fighting over issues, important issues, mind you — foreign policy, domestic policy, civil rights, social responsibility, social justice. All of these things are important. But while we’re tearing ourselves apart over this and expending so much energy, there exists this threat of climate change, which, to my mind, is conclusively proved by most of the data and 99.9 percent of the scientific community. And it really has the potential to destroy our world. And we’re ignoring that while we worry about the next election and issues that people are concerned about, like jobs. Jobs are a very important issue, of course. All of these things are important issues. But none of them are important if, like, we’re dead and our cities are under the ocean.
- Sacrificial Lamb: The three members of the Night's Watch (Will, Gared, and Ser Waymar Royce) who appear in the pilot. And Lady. And Jory, squeaking in just under the 5-episode limit.
- Sacrificial Lion: Robert and Eddard; Renly in Season 2.
- Sadistic Choice:
- You're free to leave your cell in the Eyrie at any time; the cells actually have only three walls. Of course, the cells are cut into a cliff face, with the missing fourth wall being the one that would keep you safe from falling out into space. Lysa Arryn implies that the cells have sloped floors, which would subliminally pull the prisoner closer to the edge, as Tyrion shows when he nearly rolls over the side in his sleep.
- Joffrey gives a minstrel who offends him the choice between having his tongue cut out or losing his hands.
- Sarcastic Clapping: Joffrey does this after hearing a minstrel's song mocking his family. The confused members of court aren't sure whether they should be joining him or not.
- Sarcastic Confession: Tyrion says he's ready to confess his crimes to Lysa and Catelyn. He then begins confessing to pranks he pulled and indiscretions he committed in his youth. Including something involving bringing a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel...
- Scenery Porn: The series really love to show beautiful establishing shot of places in Westeros and Essos, such as The Wall, The Dothraki Sea, The Vale of Arryn, etc.
- Schiff One-Liner: Three of the first eight episodes end in a darkly humorous One-Liner.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
- After Robert's death, Renly flees the city with his retainers when Ned refuses to join him in taking decisive action against Cersei and Joffrey.
- Ser Barristan, when Joffrey and Cersei try to force retirement on him.
- Perhaps most blatantly, Sandor Clegane deserts during the Battle of Blackwater with the epic line "Fuck the Kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the king." Delivered to said king's face no less!
- In the Season 2 finale, Dagmer and the Ironmen. "We're going home!"
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Daenerys seals up Xaro Xhoan Daxos (with Doreah) in his own vault as revenge for betraying her.
- Seventh-Episode Twist: Eddard is arrested.
- Sex Equals Love: Daenerys and Drogo form a romantic bond once Daenerys gets tutored on how to take control of her sex life.
- Shout-Out: Jon and Sam, two characters in a fantasy world, telling each other what they wanted to be when they grew up: a ranger and a wizard, respectively.
- Sissy Villain: The eunuch Lord Varys subverts this trope brilliantly. Raised by actors, he knows how to play the role properly to keep the Queen and her council guessing. Even Magnificent Bastard Petyr Baelish doesn't quite know what he's up to. Oh, and he delivers quite a hardass What the Hell, Hero? to Ned Stark.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Varys and Littlefinger engage in it a few times.
Baelish: "When they castrated you, did they take the pillar with the stones? I've always wondered."
- Snipe Hunt: Robert can't fit in his armor, so he sends Lancel to find the "breastplate stretcher".
- The Sociopath: In a show full of bad people doing bad things, Joffrey Baratheon stands out. His mother Cersei takes the gold crown though.
- Solemn Ending Theme
- Star-Crossed Lovers:
- Robb falls in love with an independent woman from Volantis, but he's bound by a political marriage pact to a Frey daughter he's never even met.
- Sam is in love with Gilly, even though he has sworn to take no wife and she is "wed" to her father.
- Stepford Smiler: Sansa and Gilly. It's a survival technique.
- Stock Scream:
- A faint but audible Wilhelm can be heard as soldiers of the Lannister army are patrolling the battlefield finishing off downed enemies in the final episode of Season 1.
- One of the poor sods who falls victim to the Mountain Clansmen in "Baelor".
- A Storm Is Coming: "Winter is Coming". They are the official words of House Stark.
- Stunned Silence: The reaction to the wildfire in "Blackwater".
- Succession Crisis: One begins at the end of Episode 7, and is the main focus of Season Two.
- Surprise Incest: season 7 finale, when Jon Snow gets it on with his Aunt Daenerys. They do not know yet. Hence the surprise.
- Third Person Person: Jaqen H'ghar, though instead of referring to himself by name, he uses odd pronoun constructions like "a man".
- Those Two Guys: Pyp and Grenn.
- Title Drop: Courtesy of the Queen.
- Tragic Keepsake: During their stay at King's Landing, Ned gave a doll to Sansa. At first, she viewed this gift with disdain, claiming that she hadn't played with dolls since she was eight. After her father died, it's revealed in a short scene during the second season that she kept the doll.
- Training Montage: A minor one for Arya in her first "dancing" lesson with Syrio Forel. Gets echoed in "The Ghost of Harrenhal", where Arya passes on Syrio's wisedom during Gendry's Shirtless Scene.
- Trauma Conga Line: In "Fire and Blood", Joffrey shows Sansa the castle wall adorned with heads on pikes, of all the members of her household. This most importantly of all includes her septa and her father, and he forces her to look.
- Trial by Combat: Bronn championing Tyrion against Ser Vardis.
- Triumphant Reprise: The main theme gets this treatment on a couple occasions, the first being when Robb rides back from battle safe and sound, with Jaime Lannister as his prisoner, and the second over the final scene and closing credits of the season. The latter is so effective it's difficult not to leap from your couch, fist pumping and cheering when it cuts to black. Dragons have that effect.
- Turned Up to Eleven: zombie dragons.
- Ultimate Job Security: Varys, Pycelle and Barristan are all survivors from the previous regime. Each of them is too good at what they do to have been removed from their posts.
- Undead Child: In the very start of Episode 1, we see a young wildling girl, murdered by the White Walkers and nailed to a tree. A few minutes later, she's no longer stuck to the tree, and is giving us a good look at her unnatural blue eyes. Creepy...
- Unproblematic Prostitution: Averted. Littlefinger lets Ros know that he has and will let his clients mutilate or kill his prostitutes if they don't make him a profit.
- Unreliable Narrator: The Blu-Ray extras of the history of Westeros narrated by the characters in the show. However, each character has a bias or one-sided view over certain events. For example: House Lannister POV, they viewed their sacking of King's Landing during Robert's Rebellion a just action to bring order back to the kingdoms but in the House Baratheon and House Stark POV, they viewed the sacking an atrocious act since the Lannisters were killing or raping the people which Robert felt was a Necessary Evil while Ned viewed it as a horrible crime. Meanwhile, House Targaryen from Viserys POV, he calls the sacking by the Lannisters an unjust betrayal despite the fact the other three Houses pointed out that the Mad King firing Tywin was the cause of him siding with the rebels.
- Villainous Breakdown: Viserys begins showing greater and greater signs of this as he spends more time among the Dothraki. His breakdown reaches its climax when Khal Drogo presents him his "golden crown".
- Villainous Incest:
- Cersei Lannister, with both her brother Jaime and her cousin Lancel.
- The Targaryens practiced marrying brother to sister to preserve purity of the blood. Viserys certainly comes off as villainous while undressing and fondling his sister.
- Craster, who practices forced Parental Incest.
- Villainous Rescue: Tywin has a sort of "Big Damn Heroes" moment in "Garden of Bones", wherein he stops Gendry's torture (and by the extension the continued torture of other captives) on the grounds that it is a waste of good workers.
- Viral Marketing: The Maester's Path.
- The Wall Around the World: Characters refer to the Wall as "the edge of the world." The Wall itself has startling parallels with Hadrian's Wall, a huge, 80 mile long barrier stretching across the top of England which was began in AD 122 and built to protect Roman Britain from Scottish invasion. Unsurprisingly George R.R. Martin has stated a visit to Hadrian's Wall was his inspiration.
- The Watson: Ros's function, particularly during the first season, is to receive exposition. She was apparently created for the show to avoid "As You Know..." conversations.
- Wham! Episode: "Baelor" in Season One, "Blackwater" in Season Two. Incidentally, both are the ninth episode of their respective seasons.
- Wham! Line: Quite a few of them.
"Winter Is Coming:" "The things I do for love." [throws Bran out a window]
- Where Is Your X Now?: After losing the battle of Blackwater, a pissed off Stannis chokes Melisandre, who promised his victory through the God of Light. "Where's your god now?" he says. She responds, "Inside you", and he releases her.
- While You Were in Diapers: In "The Ghost of Harrenhal", one of Theon's crewmen, less than impressed by Captain Theon, goes even further back, saying that "I have been reaving and raping since before you left Balon's balls."
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Sandor flees combat in "Blackwater" when the battlefield becomes saturated with fire. He was horribly burned as a child by his brother.
- World of Badass
- World of Cardboard Speech: Tyrion telling Shae that despite the betrayal and outmaneuvering by his family, he wants to stay in King's Landing because he both belongs there and he likes playing the game against his family and the other manipulators of the city.
- Worthy Opponent:
- Littlefinger and Varys seem to enjoy verbally sparring with each other and clearly see each other as the only other person on their mental level.
- Jaime sees Eddard as one in regards to swordfighting. He admits that he's heard of Eddard's reputation and wants to test his mettle. When he finally gets the chance to square off with Eddard, a guard screws it up by interfering.
- The Wrongful Heir to the Throne: Renly invokes this trope when trying to convince Ned Stark to support his coup for the throne, pointing out that he's the most qualified heir for the job.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: In-universe, Harren the Black, the builder of the great fortress of Harrenhal. He boasted that a million men could assault the walls and a million men would be repelled, that no army could take the fortress by land. So the Targaryens took the fortress instead with dragons from the sky.
- You Are Already Dead: Drogo delivers a variant of this to Mago, just before before cutting his throat open with his own weapon, reaching into the wound, and ripping his tongue out.
- You Look Familiar: The actor Kevin Eldon shows up twice as 2 separate characters: a player in the Braavos theatre, and a guard patrolling the beach in Kingslanding.
- Young Conqueror: Robb Stark, the "Young Wolf". Theon Greyjoy wishes he were this.
- Younger Than They Look:
- Sophie Turner, Sansa Stark's actress, despite being tall and looking fairly grown up, is only 15 years old, and was 14 at the time the first season was filmed (which is, more or less, one year older than her character on the show).
- Peter Dinklage (42 years old) playing Tyrion Lannister (24 in the books) causes this effect in Tyrion. Then again, Tyrion's age is never given in the series, although he is supposed to be the youngest of the Lannister siblings, his elders being around 31 or so in the novels.
- As of the end of Season 2, it seems that Cersei and Jaime are 36, and Tyrion 32 - give or take one year.
- You Shall Not Pass:
- Syrio Forel holds up four Lannister soldiers and a member of the Kingsguard while Arya escapes. He does this armed only with a wooden sword.
- And later, Yoren tries to do the same for Arya and Gendry. It doesn't work.
- Jorah Mormont does it twice, first against Viserys when he tries to steal dragon eggs and later against a battle-hardend Dothraki fighter. Fittingly, his family motto is "Here We Stand".
- Zombie Apocalypse: The White Walkers have the ability to reanimate corpses into undead "wights". The season two finale has an entire army of wights going to attack the Night's Watch, led by the White Walkers.
- He does, however, go on to explain that it would be necessary to do so for political reasons, and to avoid scorched earth warfare.
- G.R.R. Martin Interview (Oct 16, 2018) nytimes.com